Public engagement and communicating uncertainty

by Judith Curry

Some interesting discussion this past week on the topic of public engagement and communicating climate uncertainty.

APPCCG

Tamsin Edwards has a post entitled Nine Lessons and Carols in Communicating Climate Uncertainty, comprising  notes form the All Parliamentary Party Climate Change Group meeting on Communicating Risk and Uncertainty Around Climate Change. The nine lessons:

  • 1. People have a finite pool of worry
  • 2. People interpret uncertainty as ignorance
  • 3. People are uncomfortable with uncertainty
  • 4. People do accept the existence of risk
  • 5. Scientists have little training in public communication
  • 6. Journalists have little (statistical) training
  • 7. “Newspaper editors are extremely shallow, generally”
  • 8. There are many types of climate sceptic
  • 9. Trust is important 

This is a good article, read the whole thing.

There is one thing that I would add, and it is a counterpoint to #2:  Scientists too often confuse ignorance and uncertainty, effectively ignoring ignorance or at least being overconfident that they have a statistical understanding of the true uncertainty. This overconfidence (and apparent unawareness of ignorance) gives rise to the public interpreting uncertainty as ignorance, skepticism, and lost of trust.

Roland Jackson

In the comments, Barry Woods provides a link to a very interesting article by Roland Jackson: 12 things policy makers and scientists should know about the public. Excerpts:

  • 1.  There is no such thing as ‘the public’
  • 2.  People are perfectly capable of understanding complex issues and technologies
  • 3.  People want to be able to participate in decisions around policy involving science and technology
  • 4.  People are not ‘anti-science’ or ‘anti-technology’
  • 5.  People can be experts too.
  • 6.  People may ask questions which do not occur to experts
  • 7.  People are not necessarily interested in science and technology per se, but when it gets to policy it is the issues that count
  • 8.  People know that policy-makers and scientists are human
  • 9.  It is important for policy-makers and scientists to be clear about when they are telling and when they are listening
  • 10.  Public deliberation can help reduce that risks that proposed policy will fail
  • 11.  Public deliberation can also give confidence to policy makers
  • 12.  There are many different and valid ways of engaging people.

I would say that 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10 pretty much comprise the motivations for my efforts at Climate Etc.   As a scientist, I am finding  5, 6 to be very valuable.

JC comments

Now all of this sort of seems to be common sense, no?  Approach the issue of communicating climate science to the public in context of uncertainty and risk, with honesty and a dose of humility, and all will be well, no?

So why is there such a perception of a ‘communication problem’ surrounding climate science among climate scientists and scientific organizations?  It is because they expect their science to be translated into the ‘obvious’ policy prescriptions that they believe obviously follows from their science.    This unfortunate linear thinking, motivated and institutionalized by the UNFCCC/IPCC, has led climate communication efforts in the direction of propaganda, which gives rise to public skepticism and loss of trust.

p.s. Read the comments at Tamsin’s blog, superb discussion

349 responses to “Public engagement and communicating uncertainty

  1. The essence is curiosity, and the hallmark.
    =========

    • Risk and uncertainty are the same thing–e.g., if you don’t set your alarm, exactly when you wake up the next morning is uncertain. The risk you won’t wake up exactly when otherwise would is high.

      But, how alarming is the risk? The uncertainty is a function of the variance–e.g., if your internal clock is to be trusted the variance may be pretty low. Is ten minutes either way a big deal? How about an hour?

      If you wake up early, you didn’t need the sleep or the alarm. If you sleep in a bit later maybe the additional rest was more important than anything else.

      What about risk when it comes to AGW theory and climate change? My second-hand CO2 is running about 40,000 to 53,000 ppm (parts per million)–i.e., 4% – 5.3% Carbon dioxide (wiki). By comparison, just 0.0387% of the air we’re breathing in is CO2–i.e., about 387 ppm or 0.000387ths by volume.

      “Carbon dioxide is 0.000383 of our atmosphere by volume (0.038 percent) … Only 2.75 percent of atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic in origin … If the atmosphere was a 100-story building, our anthropogenic CO2 contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor.” ~Reid Bryson

    • Water vapor is only 0.004 of the atmosphere by molecular numbers. Is that also unimportant to you? What level does it need before you start to consider water vapor is important?

    • Water Vapor accounts for 95% of all greenhouse gases. CO2 accounts for just 3.5% of greenhouse gases and most of it is natural and not man-made…

    • It accounts for 10% of the greenhouse longwave effect, and the greenhouse effect is worth 33 C at the surface.

    • Climate alarmists are prosperity’s burden

    • An exuberant and pathological growth, a new one, a neoplasm.
      ===========

    • “Water vapor is only 0.004 of the atmosphere by molecular numbers. Is that also unimportant to you? What level does it need before you start to consider water vapor is important?”

      Water vapor is .03 by molecular number in the tropics and in the higher height tropical troposphere. And Tropics {23 degree latitude north and south] is 40% of global surface area, and this part of the world receives most of total of global energy from sunlight. [As do any equatorial regions on any planet or planetary body.]

      In terms of Earth having average global temperature of about 15 C, it is largely due to day and night temperature of tropics which have much higher average yearly temperature than the rest of the world.

      Or if water vapor were actually an uniform value of 0.004 of instead this being averaged value of 0.004, Water vapor would have less radiant effect as compared what actually is the reality of there being more abundance of water vapor in most heated region in the world.

      -Jim D | December 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

      It accounts for 10% of the greenhouse longwave effect, and the greenhouse effect is worth 33 C at the surface.-

      CO2 accounts for 10% of the greenhouse longwave effect?
      Or water vapor?
      If you meant CO2, are saying H20 molecule vs CO2 molecule does not have as much longwave effect as CO2?
      If think CO2 has such large effect do imagine CO2 being significant factor
      in warming caused by Urban Heat Island. Or if UHI effect is causing 10 C increase, how much of 10 C is due to CO2, in your opinion?
      And while we are at it, how much is due to other greenhouse gases other than CO2?
      ['So, urban area particularly in desert region will have tend to have significantly more water vapor and more CO2 {and other greenhouse gases}]

    • gbaikie, water vapor is more abundant at the surface and CO2 is more abundant above 10 km. In terms of radiating to space that makes it important. There are various ways of computing the radiative effect, but 10% of the longwave flux at the surface is from CO2 molecules in clear-sky conditions, and a similar percentage of that radiated to space. This is the difference between 400 ppm and 0 ppm for a US standard atmosphere.

    • Should we fabricate all manner of consensus opinions among scientists by abandoning the scientific method altogether? Perhaps we should lower scientific standards of significance to areas outside of the science of climate change so we can easily come to simple consensus opinions in other areas like medicine, aeronautics, engineering and economics. When it comes to all of those parts-per-million of CO2 around our ankles, science tells us a lot about our world–e.g.,

       

      Even if CO2 concentration doubles or triples, the effect on temperature would be minimal. The relationship between temperature and CO2 is like painting a window black to block sunlight. The first coat blocks most of the light. Second and third coats reduce very little more. Current CO2 levels are like the first coat of black paint. (Dr. Timothy Ball)

    • -gbaikie, water vapor is more abundant at the surface and CO2 is more abundant above 10 km. –

      So above 10 Km. More than 32804 feet. A few thousand feet above Mt Everest. Above a point in elevation which has less than 1/3 Earth’s pressure and to breathe one needs an oxygen mask, and at 45,000 feet or
      higher one can’t breath with oxygen mask, and one need a pressure suit or spacesuit to breath.

      You say CO2 is more abundant above 10 km, and it seems on average this could be correct. I would be quicker to agree if you had said above the troposphere
      or:
      “The troposphere extends upwards from right above the boundary layer, and ranges in height from an average of 9 km (5.6 mi; 30,000 ft) at the poles, to 17 km (11 mi; 56,000 ft) at the Equator.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropopause

      As at 10 Km at the tropics you still in troposphere, but then again if one took all the air above 10 km at the tropics, it might be true that CO2 is more abundant than water vapor. But if were to consider just the air between 10 and 11 km at the tropics, I am not sure there is more CO2 compared to water vapor. Obviously it would vary on average between day and night, and at times one could find yourself in the middle of cloud at such elevation range.
      But broadly speaking, I would assume it tends to be dry above 10 km in elevation on Earth.

      -In terms of radiating to space that makes it important. There are various ways of computing the radiative effect, but 10% of the longwave flux at the surface is from CO2 molecules in clear-sky conditions, and a similar percentage of that radiated to space. This is the difference between 400 ppm and 0 ppm for a US standard atmosphere.-

      Is the region above 10 Km important?
      Would it not be true that most of “Greenhouse Effect” occurs within the troposphere? Or lacking the troposphere there would little greenhouse effect?
      Or if Earth atmosphere was less than 1/3 and the air was a dry as it generally is above 10 km, would not the Earth will less than 1/3 atm
      have little greenhouse effect?

      Now, if merely removed 2/3rd of atmosphere on Earth with it’s oceans and etc, it seems to me such a world would still have region one could call a troposphere- or a region dominated with water vapor or region of where most of the weather phenomenon occurred.
      So Earth which is rotating, and had less than 1/3 of our current atmosphere, would still have a higher troposphere at the equator.
      And this troposphere would similar to Earth, but would not be as high as our troposphere and of course be much thinner air. Or you would still have clouds and the region nearer the ground would have high vapor content.
      So to actually mimic a world with atmosphere which was like one above Earth’s troposphere would probably require radical changes in Earth- such as removing it’s oceans.

      But despite this one can say we dealing with 2/3rd less CO2 and little water vapor, or if simply following the Greenhouse Effect Theory, wiki:
      “By their percentage contribution to the greenhouse effect on Earth the four major gases are:

      water vapor, 36–70%
      carbon dioxide, 9–26%
      methane, 4–9%
      ozone, 3–7%”
      These gas at current concentration cause 33 C of warming.
      So removed, what, 99% of water vapor?
      And 2/3rd of
      “carbon dioxide, 9–26%
      methane, 4–9%
      ozone, 3–7%”
      One has considerably less Greenhouse Effect.

      Of course if remove 99% of water vapor and use your number of
      0.004, we get a number of .0004 which same as CO2 in current
      atmosphere
      If you right about more CO2 above 10 km, we have to remove more
      than 99% of water vapor. 99.6% removal would give the same as
      CO2 which has 2/3rd removed. So somewhere greater than say,
      99.9% of water vapor removed.

      Now with 2/3rd of our atmosphere removed, we still have much more atmosphere than Mars. Mars is closer to 1/100th our atmosphere.
      Mars is 1/100h our atmosphere and about 28 times more CO2.
      So if we had only 1/3rd of our CO2, that means Mars would have about
      100 times more CO2 than this earth atmosphere with 2/3rd of it’s atmosphere removed.
      It seems that this 2/3rd Earth atmosphere with 99.6% of it’s water vapor removed could still have more water vapor than Mars has. Mainly because this 2/3rd atmosphere world is a massive atmosphere in comparison to Mars.
      Of course the 99.9% of water vapor would the same amount of water vapor and CO2, and you said “CO2 is more abundant above 10 km”.
      So according to your claim it’s some number less than 99.9% of water vapor. And can assume you mean to say it’s not less in a minor way,
      but say there is more twice the amount of CO2 as compared to water
      vapor.
      So perhaps more water vapor than Mars simply to to the fact that 2/3rd
      Earth atmosphere is enormous compare 1/100th Earth atmosphere.
      But in terms of parts per million, Mars has:
      “Minor (ppm): Water (H2O) – 210 ”
      And if you meant by less, about 1/2 as much water vapor, than Mars
      and the 2/3rd Earth atmosphere would have somewhere around the same amount of water vapor in terms of parts per million, but somewhere
      around 20 times more quantity due to 2/3rd Earth atmosphere being more massive.
      So broadly, I assume you would think Mars would warmer if it had say 10 or 20 times more water vapor.
      And likewise Earth would warmer if above the the troposphere there was 100 times more CO2.
      Personally, I think neither would make much difference.

      I would say that if Mars had 10 or 20 times more water vapor, it would mean that Mars is somehow warmer. Or if you brought Mars to Earth distance and therefore it was heated more, it would probably get increase of 10 or 20 times more water vapor [it’s poles melt and ground would even get drier than it is currently [so even more fantastically, dry].

      As for this part in specific:
      “but 10% of the longwave flux at the surface is from CO2 molecules in clear-sky conditions”
      Clear, very dry and very cold Earth sky from sea level, Earth still has a lot of water vapor in the atmosphere. Or more parts per million than Mars.

    • CO2 is heavier than air so you’ll find it around your ankles; and, all of those parts-per-million are like one minute in two years.

  2. A ‘certain’ Oxford Physics Professor has penned a response, with I think point 9, being the most important take home message for science (generally as well)

    J Jones:

    http://blogs.plos.org/models/nine-lessons-and-carols-in-communicating-climate-uncertainty/#comment-62693

    Since Tamsin has given us nine lessons, I thought I should structure my reply around the nine carols she sadly forgot to include: responses to her versicles

    1. God rest you merry, Gentlemen.
    The most important thing to remember in climate communication is that the general public, for the most part, simply don’t care. Climate scientists spend far too much time talking to other climate scientists, green campaigners, and climate sceptics, and all three groups are very atypical, in that they think climate change is interesting and important. Most ordinary people don’t.

    2. Jesus Christ the apple tree.
    People have no problem with uncertainty; they deal with it all the time. They get confused only because people say silly things like “the science is settled”, or “snowfalls are now just a thing of the past”, especially when such over-confident predictions are swiftly proved false. Most climate scientists are sensible enough to avoid saying such obviously silly things, but they seem more comfortable than they should be when green campaigners say them.

    3. Hush! My dear, lie still and slumber.
    The Higgs boson was (and indeed still is) a statistical result, but I ask you to imagine how physicists would have reacted if CERN had announced that “based on expert judgement” the existence of the Higgs boson had gone from very likely (90%) to extremely likely (95%): both the inadequacy of the error model and choice of such strong language for marginally significant (by physics standards) conclusions would have had people rolling in the aisles. The comparisons, frequently made, between climate science and particle physics/quantum mechanics/gravity are frankly laughable.

    4. In the bleak mid-winter.
    Risk is indeed a good way to frame the problem, but I don’t think things will end the way you expect. The standard human heuristic is to deal only with “real” risks, that is risks which are immediate and serious, and currently normal people don’t think the risk of climate change is immediate or serious. For distant risks people usually adopt a “wait and see” strategy. This may or may not be sensible, but it is how people work.

    5. A virgin most pure.
    The day climate scientists decided to enter the climate communication battleground was the day they lost the war. Not because they are bad at street fighting (though frankly most of them are utterly terrible), but because it’s simply the wrong thing to do. It is part of our job as scientists to explain what we do to anyone who will listen; it is not part of our job to preach that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and society must repent and believe in the gospel to avoid being damned for all eternity.

    6. The first Nowell.
    Journalists have little statistical training, but to be brutally frank most climate scientists have little statistical training. (Neither do I, but at least I know that I don’t.) A field that thought (and apparently still thinks) that the MBH hockey stick was statistically valid, and where many practitioners apparently don’t understand the difference between uniform and uninformative priors, is in no position to preach to anyone.

    7. Here we come a-wassailing
    Editors are shallow, generally, because people are shallow generally, see 1.

    I have friends who really believe that climate change is imminent and dangerous, and who have greatly altered the way they run their lives to reflect this fact, but they are rare indeed. If you go to cocktail parties, most of the guests will, of course, tell you that they believe in global warming, but don’t make the mistake of asking them what they personally have done about it, as you are likely to get the answer “I do my recycling”.

    I was once on a university committee intended to assess medium term threats and opportunities facing Oxford, and climate change was suggested by one of the organisers. I put it as my number five concern (largely based on worries about energy security and prices), and was the only person among two dozen leading academics and senior administrators who put climate change anywhere in their top five. Remember, this is the home of the Smith School and the Martin Institute, based in one of the greenest cities in England.

    8. The holly and the ivy.
    There is indeed a huge range in climate scepticism, and James’s classification is only a beginning, but it is a good beginning. It is also useful to recognise that vociferous opposition mostly comes from the policy end of the spectrum, not the pure science end: if people weren’t proposing to spend billions of pounds on tackling the “problem”, then most of us wouldn’t care whether or not you were exaggerating it. But because people are proposing to spend billions of pounds, other people would like to be sure that the problem is real and not exaggerated, and the proposed solutions might actually have a whelk’s chance in a supernova of helping.

    9. A spotless rose.
    The second great error of climate communicators (after thinking that ordinary people care) is to fail to realise how badly they are distrusted by climate sceptics: if advocated by a climate communicator then even motherhood and apple pie would come under suspicion. This is not because you are all bad apples, but simply because you share a barrel with some horribly rotten ones. Until the rotten apples have been cleared out there will be no true progress; it really is as simple as that.

    • David L. Hagen

      Thanks for reminders of the lessons and carols.
      Risk and statistical overconfidence
      Speaking of communicating risk to the public, I expect few bettors use P=0.05, but most understand a “dark horse” with a chance of 25:1. Valen Johnson notes that conventional statistical methods often err, stating P=0.05 while only having a 1 in 3-4 probability. Spencer shows >95% of 34 year CMIP3 climate model predictions running hotter than actual temperatures. This suggests to me serious statistical errors in confidence with a 1 in 20 chance of being “right”, (aka “very likely” in IPCC parlance).

      William Briggs discusses Valen Johnson’s results and the problem of too wee wee P values in: Johnson’s Revised Standards For Statistical Evidence. Johnson argues for: Revised Standards for Statistical Evidence .

      Communicating Risk
      To reduce non-reproducible results (especially false positives), Valen Johnson recommends using five times higher statistics and using Bayesian factors to communicate uncertainty as risk. e.g. for “significant” use 25-50:1, and “highly significant” for 100 to 200:1.

      PS: Speaking of lessons and carols, enjoy this year’s Kings College Choir A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Dec. 24, 25.

    • Barry, point 9 seems to have been a major concern for many CE posters. The warmistas seem to have circled the wagons rather than admit that some of their colleagues are seriously flawed. This naturally engenders a serious loss of trust in the group as a whole.

  3. So why is there such a perception of a ‘communication problem’ surrounding climate science among climate scientists and scientific organizations?

    For some it’s a fully conscious, wholly cynical attempt to marginalize and shut down debate. A kinder, gentler alternative (thus more pernicious) to accusing people of being deniers. The suggestion is that instead of being intentionally “anti-science,” those who disagree are merely not very bright. Instead of banishment, they merely need to be properly schooled, which is to say educated back into the fold through “better communication.”

    Mostly that means looking for more effective ways of scaring the hell out of people…

    • Many in the consensus camp have confused the concept of ‘communicating’ with their desire for a more effective megaphone. They’re not interested in listening, just passionate about getting their message across.

      Nothing wrong with that–it’s just the province of marketing and PR. And nothing wrong with marketing and PR. But they need to get better professionals than the ones from environmental organizations who gave us such gems as the No Pressure video and polar bears languishing on ice floes.

      I submit that the people we see in the climate news on a regular basis are not interested in communication, but rather rapt attention to their monologues.

  4. Our hostess writes “and it is a counterpoint to #2: Scientists too often confuse ignorance and uncertainty”

    I am sorry. Proper scientists NEVER confuse ignorance and uncertainty. Proper scientists rely on empirical, measured data, and nothing else. When you measure a quantity in physics you AWAYS get a +/- value, which tells you how accurately the measurement has been made. So this accuracy is a measure of certainty rather than uncertainty. You are certain how accurately you know the numeric value of the quantity being measured.

    What has happened with CAGW is that vital things like climate sensitivity cannot be measured. So the anti-science idea of estimation has been substituted for the scientific idea of measurement. And then, to further confuse the issue, things like a probability density function are substituted for measured accuracy, as if the two were somehow comparable; which they are not.

    If proper measurements are made, there is no confusion between ignorance and uncertainty.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Proper scientists rely on empirical, measured data, and nothing else.”

      How did you measure that? and what is your uncertainty?

    • John Carpenter

      “Proper scientists NEVER confuse ignorance and uncertainty.”

      How do you know? How can you be so certain a ‘proper’ scientist has never confused the two? Tell us how a proper scientist makes sure that is NEVER done.

      “If proper measurements are made, there is no confusion between ignorance and uncertainty.”

      How do you know when a proper measurement has been made? Don’t you think it happens that scientists make what they think are ‘proper’ measurements only to find out they were ignorant of some other factor that influenced it rendering it more uncertain?

      But this is all really besides the point of the statement ‘People interpret uncertainty as ignorance’. In this case it is how people interpret what their idea of uncertainty and ignorance are compared to a scientific interpretation of uncertainty vs ignorance. Uncertainty is a form of ignorance. Uncertainty in measurement is not the same as uncertainty in ideas. Judy posits, correctly in my opinion, that scientists may incorrectly think people interpret uncertainty as ignorance and as such try to make a case of being certain so as not to appear ignorant. Tamsin got that one wrong. You appear to misunderstand what JC was saying by focusing on only measurement.

  5. You know as I know, when there is a loss of trust in a relationship, there is no turning around to retrieve that trust. One just has to move on.

    The climate cabal like Kevin & Gavin, and totally ignoring the super activists like Mike and Jim for the time being, are not believable as they still can’t bring themselves to say: “I was wrong.” If, and that is a big if, they and many of the others within the clique admit that climate is not only chaotic, and their models are not useful, no matter how many they lump together for an output, to predict/project the future, progress in believability, maybe not real trust, is possible. Given that the past is not a template for the future (Thank you Tomas), tuning models to the past does not make them any more believable than a carnival fortune teller.

    I find Tasmin Edwards’ # 8 the most informative:

    8. There are many types of climate sceptic

    Because no one person has the corner on the “truth” in climate science, one has to slog through the musings and cogitations of a lot of people as well as continually informing oneself from trusted sources.

    • There is a paradox of curiosity here. I came upon it musing over the seeming lack of it among the alarmist true believers, and it struck me that Kevin and the like do have curiosity in a large measure. There is no way they could have become as expert as they are without a lot of curiosity. But I think it is a measure of the complexity, and inchoate nature, of climate that their seeking for knowledge is shackled with the imposed need to support the CO2 control knob, that is, the human control knob. So shackled, they cannot progress correctly.

      What their curiosity is failing to note is their relative impotence to impose their own vision on Nature, and that may well be from fear.
      ==============

    • They should do something else, Kim.

      I have often consciously shied away from doing organic glycochemistry. It’s hard. But progress is being made by other people who are probably better than me, and certainly more patient than me.

    • …wrong thread.

    • …double mistake. I’ll retract that self-correction.

    • KIm astutely writes: “What their curiosity is failing to note is their relative impotence to impose their own vision on Nature, and that may well be from fear.”
      ==============

      I wonder about many of the same things, Kim. Some of these folks are fine scientists with keen intellects and a measure of self-awareness i’m sure,
      But they’re human above all. The fear of losing their reputations….of being shown to be wrong after claiming such certainty, has to be a powerful driver. Mann…even if i knew nothing about the current debate, would strike me as a fearful man. It’s much easier to feel anger than fear, and especially shame. Hence his aggressive, nasty, let’s sue the bastards style.(Of course he’s not even a good scientist, which deep down he must know….)

    • There are many types of climate sceptic because they are (almost) all thinking for themselves. Mainly because they have to.

  6. Climate Science has been highjacked by politics.
    Portraying climate change as a crisis provides motivation through fear.
    Utilize all extreme weather events to demonstrate the severity of climate change (whether they happened before or not).
    Communicate to the masses the science is incontrovertible (debate is closed).
    The only way to solve is to give up individual liberty through governmental taxation/regulation.
    Prevent dissent through character assassination, exclusion, and humiliation.

    Yep, sure sounds a little like propaganda to me…better check over at RealClimate or Skeptical
    Science to be sure though. LOL

  7. How to use modern science PR techniques to report climate events:

    “The Titanic has paused mid-Atlantic to take on ice.”

  8. 1. Global Warming
    2. Climate Change
    3. Climate Weirding
    4, Extreme Weather
    5. etc. etc. etc.
    People can tell when you are shoveling/communicating schlock, so I find no surprise in the increasing dis-belief in cAGW.

  9. Generally, whenever a person is invited to address me on the TV or the radio, I can be confident that emphasizing or explaining uncertainty is the last item on their list of objectives, if it is there at all. Uncertainty is antithetical to the MSM (and probably peer-reviewed journals too).

    But I’m not completely sure about that.

  10. Galling as it may be for those with physics PHD’s, climate researchers are probably going to have to accept they are in much the same position as the ‘dismal science’ (economics). Although economists’ grasp of basic statistics seems rather better (Reinhart-Rogoff notwithstanding!).

    As for 2,3 on uncertainty, they seem to reflect more frustration with the stalling bandwagon than much of an insight into ‘people’. Anyone who in their personal life deals with insurance, mortgages, financial investments, pension or health matters, specific or general, is well aware of the nature of uncertainty. It’s climatology posing as too certain in crying wolf which seems the problem. Point 1 by Prof Jones above seems the most pertinent, although surely politicians and journalists belong in the ‘climate circle’, even if only self-interested in their interest. This wider public disinterest has been largely to the benefit of alarmists up to now.

    • I think you are being quite unfair to economists; humans are the basic unit of economics and the little devils are always looking for an edge, as soon as they get one, a lovey economic activity marker disappears in a poof of logic.
      Climate on the other hand isn’t altered by the geosphere reading the modelers output.

  11. “Now all of this sort of seems to be common sense, no? Approach the issue of communicating climate science to the public in context of uncertainty and risk, with honesty and a dose of humility, and all will be well, no?

    So why is there such a perception of a ‘communication problem’ surrounding climate science among climate scientists and scientific organizations?”

    Since when has the climate “science” community communicated to the public “with honesty and a dose of humility” on global warming? Especially humility.

    In deciding the ultimate policy questions posed by the CAGW movement, there are many prudential decisions that must be made. The ultimate decisions are not the product of manipulable statistics. They are complicated, important cost benefit questions.

    Sometimes people just disagree on those prudential matters, without being evil, stupid or crazy.

    I have mentioned many times the discussion that took place between Dr. Curry and Gavin Schmidt at Keith Kloor’s site a couple years ago as a good example of the problem. They both communicated with honesty and humility for the most part. It was an extensive debate over several days. There were none of the usual obscurantist tactics you see in any other debate. Yet neither was able to convince the other he/she was wrong on the central issue in dispute.

    Why do climate scientists think it is always about communication? Because they do not have enough humility to accept that other intelligent, well intentioned human beings can look at the exact same science, the exact same facts, and come to a different conclusion in good faith.

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      “Why do climate scientists think it is always about communication? Because they do not have enough humility to accept that other intelligent, well intentioned human beings can look at the exact same science, the exact same facts, and come to a different conclusion in good faith.”

      And I rather suspect that is because climate scientists do not (on average) share the same political/moral/philosophical views as the public (on average). Academia in general is far more liberal/left/green than the pubic, and far (FAR!) more certain of themselves and their opinions (IMO, without good reason). Climate scientists are, if anything, a far deeper shade of green than the average academic, and even more certain of themselves. Academics generally believe public policy is an effect means to “do good”, while a large fraction of the public thinks public policy has a far greater potential to do harm than good, through a combination of awful waste and terrible unintended consequences. Broad resistance to draconian energy policies is not going away.

    • It looks as if Judith has adopted the “Reply option only to original poster” mode for nesting. Steve P, that sounds about right to me. Although, having been an economic policy adviser to government leaders, I think that many of the public have an excessive faith in the capacity of government to enhance their well-being.

    • Steve –

      …while a large fraction of the public thinks public policy has a far greater potential to do harm than good,

      Really? You seem awfully sure about yourself there. (Perhaps like a climate scientist?).

      On what basis have you determined that he public thinks public policy has far greater potential to do harm than good?

      What public?

      Are you speaking of a public that votes?

      Do you suppose that majorities are anarchists?

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      Joshua,
      “On what basis have you determined that he public thinks public policy has far greater potential to do harm than good?”
      Observation of electoral outcomes in democratic countries.

      “What public?
      Are you speaking of a public that votes?”
      Yes, that public.

      “Do you suppose that majorities are anarchists?”
      Not at all, but are generally naive and often mistaken. I have observed that well intended public policies usually have horrible unintended consequences. I will give you two examples (there are lots of others). 1) Ethanol in fuel. A program originally designed to ‘jump start’ cellulosic ethanol production has turned into a costly boondoggle based on ethanol import restrictions and mandated ethanol usage. It reduces petroleum consumption very little (if at all), increases consumer costs by many billions, does lots of environmental damage (vast tracts of marginal land pressed into production of corn), and increases food prices everywhere. And worst of all, leads to investments in non-economic ethanol production to reap ‘profits’ from the boondoggle. A stupid program which should not exist but which can’t now be easily eliminated…. too many ‘vested interests’ getting rich off the public. 2) Sugar tariffs and import quotas. The sordid story of sugar protection and market control since 1934 (yes, it was Roosevelt that started it) is too long to lay out in detail, but the ‘program’ costs US consumers billions of dollars per year, increases petroleum consumption, and does terrible environmental damage (read about sugar farms blocking water flow to the Florida Everglades if you are interested). Those wasted billions go into the pockets of farmers and refiners who are not economically competitive, but who have made huge investments so as to ‘profit’ from another boondoggle program… which can’t now be easily eliminated.

    • Steve, you write ” 1) Ethanol in fuel. A program originally designed to ‘jump start’ cellulosic ethanol production has turned into a costly boondoggle based on ethanol import restrictions and mandated ethanol usage.”

      I take issue with this statement. There has been one, failed, attempt at the commercial production of cellulose ethanol; by Range Fuels. There are currently at least two more attempts being made, by Poet/DSM and DuPont. Production at both these facilities is due to start early in 2014. DuPont clearly has the knowhow to produce cellulose ethanol. However, Poet is the largest produced of corn ethanol in the world. They have teamed up with DSM in the cellulose ethanol plant, but there is no doubt that Poet initiated the research, and was prepared to go ahead on it’s own. So, this cellulose ethanol plant WAS “jump started”, by the production of corn ethanol. Further, the other corn ethanol producers are in talks with Poet, with a view to licencing the Poet technology, so these firms can also produce cellulose ethanol.

    • stevefitzpatrick

      Jim Cripwell,
      If those plants ever operate profitably (not clear that will happen, because there is no data to judge), then that will be a partly offsetting positive for all the negatives of the fuel ethanol boondoggle. But will they operate ‘profitably’ behind import protections and fuel usage mandates, or will they be really profitable? I think the chance they are really profitable is near zero, but we will see. Would it not have been more sensible (and a lot less costly) to directly fund development of cellulose ethanol technology if that was the desired outcome?

    • Steve –

      Observation of electoral outcomes in democratic countries.

      ???

      How does people going to vote, and electing politicians, and what electoral outcomes convinces you that “a large fraction of the public thinks public policy has a far greater potential to do harm than good,?”

      Seems to me the reverse would be true. So we have differing anecdotal observations and interpretations. But you have stated your argument as fact, which I would assume means that you have some validated evidence, some data that is calibrated to show the validity of your test; so how do you show that the evidence that you think indicates something actually indicates what you think it indicates rather than simply what you think it shows – in a purely subjective fashion?

      As for your “examples,” I have noticed that many libertarian-types (are you a libertarian-type” tend to apply a binary mindset to the question of unintended consequences. Of course there are always likely to be unintended consequences for any action that we, as individuals, or governments as collective entities, take. That doesn’t show that there is some “law” that unintended consequences from government action are always negative in balance, and it doesn’t show that “large fractions” of the public feel that way.

      I’d say that if you compare the accomplishments of societies that are governed as opposed to those that aren’t, there is a good argument to make, actually, that the outcomes of government actions, for all their unintended consequences, are positive in balance. But it is a question that I feel is very difficult to answer. You seem to feel confident about an answer that is different than what I suspect it is. For that reason, I’d like to know if you have any basis for your confident opinion in actual evidence.

      ?Not at all, but are generally naive and often mistaken.

      I am of the opinion that everyone is often mistaken, including you, and I think that your opinion about how the public is “generally naive” sounds like an elitist opinion. Given I have no reason to assume that you are an elitist – I find it curious that you would express such an elitists viewpoint.

    • Steve, you write ” But will they operate ‘profitably’ behind import protections and fuel usage mandates, or will they be really profitable?”

      As you remark, we don’t know what the profits will be like; we must wait a year. However, Poet estimated that their plant would be profitable, if the wholesale price of gas was over $2 per gallon. Currently this figure is around $2.75. So there is hope.

      As to the best way of doing things, I cannot comment. I suspect that DOE offering free money contributed to Range Fuels rushing into production before the engineering had been done properly. But maybe, all’s well that ends well.

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      Joshua,
      Of course the alternative to government is anarchy, and anarchy has lots of bad consequences. Basic rule of law and protections against assault, murder, rape, theft, and fraud are required, as are laws which enforce property rights, contracts, and fairly judge liability in disputes. Without these things, wealth creation becomes difficult or impossible. Same with the need for a military, though the appropriate size of a military will of course vary a lot. I trust we can agree these things are required functions of any effective government.

      The rub is when government goes beyond the basic rule of law required for a productive society, and it is there that unintended consequences can, and very often do, become problematic (and almost certainly where we fundamentally disagree).

      With regard to: “I am of the opinion that everyone is often mistaken, including you, and I think that your opinion about how the public is “generally naive” sounds like an elitist opinion.”

      Yes, lots of people, even Joshua, are often mistaken, about lots of things. I am by no means an elitist; my observation is that most people become less naive over their lifetime, which is a good thing, and even become…. ahem…. a bit more skeptical of what government can and can’t effectively do.

    • The question is not only the trust people have in the government but also the trust they have in the alternatives.

      One alternative may be the worst except for all the alternatives (rephrasing Churchill quite liberally).

    • Pekka –

      The question is not only the trust people have in the government but also the trust they have in the alternatives.

      Well that was my point. Seems to me that if you’re going to say that “large fractions of the public thinks public policy has far greater potential to do harm than good?” then you implying that they think that public policy is worse than the alternatives.

      Why would they support something that has far greater potential to do harm than good?

      I suppose it might be that they think that all alternatives would have greater potential to do harm than good, and we are just choosing between the least harmful of all alternatives…

      but then, it seems to me that logically that is thinking that what you’ve chosen has more potential to do good than harm (by protecting against greater harm).

    • ­> The rub is when government goes beyond the basic rule of law required for a productive society [...]

      And then the rub of that rub is to determine the basic rule of law required for a pruductive society.

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      Willard,
      Simple to tell: if wealth transfer, tax incentives, or ‘personal moral values’ are involved, then watch out.

    • ­> Simple to tell: if wealth transfer, tax incentives, or ‘personal moral values’ are involved, then watch out.

      Which means we should always watch out, unless we have a way to determine how anything the government can do won’t involve wealth transfer, tax incentive, or personal values.

      There ought to be simpler solutions than relying on the fact/value dichotomy and a pair of invisible hands.

    • Steve –

      Simple to tell: if wealth transfer, tax incentives, or ‘personal moral values’ are involved, then watch out.

      Sounds a bit alarmist, if you ask me.

    • -willard (@nevaudit) | December 9, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

      ­> The rub is when government goes beyond the basic rule of law required for a productive society [...]

      And then the rub of that rub is to determine the basic rule of law required for a productive society.-
      That US constitution and it’s amendments for the productive society
      called United States of American.
      And If want to add more to the basic law you pass amendments to constitutions.

      Basic rules for starting basic rules is having a means of public being governed to be able to change laws in the future. This requires a mechanism of balancing/balanced power in so that in future a non murderous means can used to change laws. Or if no mechanism enables peaceful change of law, then one will get non-peaceful changes of law.

      Or politicians will always, if unchecked, immediately betray the people they are charged with governing by enslaving them for their purposes.

      And constantly murdering politicians though amusing, does not lead a particularly productive society- and tends to put the murderers in charge.

    • stevefitzpatrick

      Joshua,
      “sounds a bit alarmist”
      Nah, just experience with how government programs usually work out.

    • > That US constitution and it’s amendments for the productive society
      called United States of American.

      You might as well suggest that we all become the United States of the Universe, gbaikie.

      More to the point, this answer only justifies a very strict notion of “determine” in “determine the basic rule of law required for a productive society,” which gets us something like “whatever the USA decided to include in its constitution at time T.”

      I thought a more principled interpretation of “determine” was at stake.

    • “willard (@nevaudit) | December 9, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

      > That US constitution and it’s amendments for the productive society
      called United States of American.

      You might as well suggest that we all become the United States of the Universe, gbaikie.”

      Well, if you mean a republic like the US, that has been the global trend.

      But hoping once we manage to venture into the solar system, things perhaps quite different than US might do. And who know what it be by time we move out in our galaxy.
      But main idea of having citizens make the rules, rather than experts/geniuses would be the trend [I think] you want to keep.
      I kind partial to idea have government portable like insurance could be portable. And have market choices over which government you choose
      regardless plot of land you live on.

      -More to the point, this answer only justifies a very strict notion of “determine” in “determine the basic rule of law required for a productive society,” which gets us something like “whatever the USA decided to include in its constitution at time T.”-

      Whatever the laws citizens want to live under is general idea.

      -I thought a more principled interpretation of “determine” was at stake.-

      Such as?

    • > Such as?

      Something more principled than “Whatever the laws citizens want to live under”, which is so general an idea as to include fascist states.

    • “> Such as?

      Something more principled than “Whatever the laws citizens want to live under”, which is so general an idea as to include fascist states.”

      Yes, it does include the majority with the ability of deciding they want a fascist state.

      But if you have wisdom one should design a state which is resistance to falling into a some fascist state or other as equally bad shades of tyranny.
      And that is the design of US constitution, and why US has historically been somewhat shielded from leaping too far this direction.

      There not anything fundamentally new about the Italian form of government which they cheered and called fascism. Italian word
      which about the same “a ring to bring together and in darkness and bind them”.

      Not much different than French revolution and The Terror.
      Or the rule of Napoleon hero who emerged after it.
      Or go back to earlier Roman history.
      Or any history.
      It was just old soap re-labelled “new and improved”.

  12. Propaganda was an essential tool according to John Huxley the first director of UNESCO and founding member of the World Wildlife Fund. Huxley wrote,
    “Taking the techniques of persuasion and information and true propaganda that we have learnt to apply nationally in war, and deliberately bending them to the international tasks of peace, if necessary utilising them, as Lenin envisaged, to “overcome the resistance of millions” to desirable change……This must be a mass philosophy, a mass
    creed, and it can never be achieved without the use of the media
    of mass communication.” (UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy- Julian Huxley)

    Sir Isaia Berlin in Two Concepts of Liberty challenges the immoral employment of noble cause corruption (propaganda),
    “But to manipulate men, to propel them towards goals which you — the social reformers — see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their own, and therefore to degrade them.”

  13. Public engagement is fickle. It comes only with big events likes droughts, heat waves, snow storms, floods, hurricanes, which we all know are not climate, but weather, but that is when the climate debate comes back to the surface, like it or not. Regardless, public opinions don’t count for much in politics in the US at least. These are guided by thinktanks and invited panels that are usually tilted towards specific views that are politically convenient. Politicians and their advisory thinktanks in turn are somewhat in the pockets of corporations. The IPCC, even though they try, are not getting their foot in the door when policies are being planned, and can only influence the thinking of the President and executive branch with his supporting politicians, but this is far from sufficient to carry a majority. They can only carry out limited policies, like those related to improving fuel efficiency, supporting green technology industries, and reducing pollution via regulations.

  14. How not to communicate uncertainty in climate “science”.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/06/opinion/hansen-climate-last-chance/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fcnn_topstories+%28RSS%3A+Top+Stories%29

    “We know without a doubt that gases we are adding to the air have caused a planetary energy imbalance and global warming, already 0.8 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. This warming is driving an increase in extreme weather, from heat waves and droughts to wildfires and stronger storms (though mistakenly expecting science to instantly document links to specific events misses the forest for the trees).”

  15. Re: Roland Jackson’s bullets, “People are perfectly capable of understanding complex issues and technologies” and “People want to be able to participate in decisions around policy involving science and technology” …

    Should the FDA stop you from scaring yourself with 23andMe’s DNA test?

    The FDA, in its letter to 23andMe, cites potential harms from genetic testing; all are bank shots. After all, swabbing your saliva carries very little risk. So the FDA focuses instead on the possibility that a test will lead consumers to do something else that actually harms them.

    Consider, the FDA suggests, a 23andMe test that reports a false positive for a cancer gene: “It could lead a patient to undergo prophylactic surgery, chemoprevention, intensive screening, or other morbidity-inducing actions, while a false negative could result in a failure to recognize an actual risk that may exist.”

    Don Taylor, a health researcher at Duke University, delivers the obvious rebuttal: “Something has to happen in between that readout and the mastectomy,” he said. “There needs, for instance, to be a surgeon there.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/06/should-the-fda-stop-you-from-scaring-yourself-with-23andmes-dna-test/

    We are well educated, rational, reasonable adults being treated like children. No, that’s wrong. We continually and consciously challenge out children to take responsibility and make decisions and suffer the outcomes.

    • If you had cancer, you would become an expert in treatment in 2 weeks. That it what cancer patients do.

  16. Jim Cripwell – you say “Proper scientists rely on empirical, measured data, and nothing else”. Well, yes and no. As I see it, hypotheses play an important role. Solar physicists, for example, have been observing the sun for centuries, with ever-increasing sophistication, yet they still don’t really know how it works. Based on observations of the solar surface and outputs, the internal operation of the sun is hypothesised, to the extent that some of those hypotheses (the ones best supported by observation) are worked with almost as fact. The scientists that do this are still ‘real scientists’. So, your view of science relates best to the thinking of Karl Popper, whereas mine moves a step towards Thomas Kuhn’s ‘paradigm shifts’. Where science really goes wrong, IMHO, is where it goes full-bore on the path described by Thomas Kuhn and turns a promising hypothesis into an aggressively promoted and defended paradigm. That is when ‘empirical, measured data’ starts to show up faults in the hypothesis, but the defenders of the hypothesis (ie, the paradigm) demand levels of proof which are higher than the levels of supporting data. That is where climate science is right now.

    In a sense, Gravity is still just a hypothesis, because no-one knows how it works, yet the hypothesis has stood up to tests so well for so long that it has progressed from ‘hypothesis’ to ‘theory’ to ‘law’. The important thing for scientists is to remain aware of how well a hypothesis/theory/law is supported by data, so that if contra data starts to appear it can be dealt with reasonably. Even laws can be overturned, or at least modified (viz, Einstein).

    • Mike Jonas

      Gravity is still just a hypothesis, because no-one knows how it works

      Not really.

      Gravity has been corroborated many times by empirical data. It has been explained by Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. It can be physically measured on Earth. Its observed essential absence in outer space plus its observed lower effect on the Moon provide empirical evidence for what makes it work, confirming Newton’s law. In addition, there have been no successful attempts to falsify it, even though a theoretical physical mechanism for “what makes it work” may not have been identified.

      The hypothesis of CAGW (as outlined by IPCC in its AR4 and AR5 reports) has NOT been corroborated by empirical data, as Jim Cripwell has stated. A theoretical mechanism has been proposed, but this mechanism, itself, as a perceptible forcing of our climate has also not been corroborated by empirical evidence. IOW, unlike gravity, CAGW (or significant climate change and resulting deleterious impacts caused by increased atmospheric CO2) has not been corroborated by empirical scientific evidence based on actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation and, thus, remains an uncorroborated hypothesis.

      The “uncertainty”, which climate science SHOULD be communicating to us is simply that
      a) we DO NOT know whether or not continued human emissions of GHGs, principally CO2, will result in a perceptible warming of our planet and,
      b) we are even more uncertain regarding the potential magnitude of this warming or
      c) whether this postulated warming could possibly result in mostly positive or mostly negative future impacts for humanity and our environment.

      Max

    • John Carpenter

      Manaker

      We are ignorant on how gravity manifests itself… what causes gravity. That does not mean we can’t measure it or use it in calculations. The ‘idea’ and ‘observation’ of gravity is not a hypothesis because we can measure it. That is true. We know there is gravity. We also know mass plays a significant role. We don’t know why masses are attracted to one another by a weak force. We are ignorant of what the gravitational force is, how to produce it or negate it. I think this was what Mike was after by stating ‘gravity is still just a hypothesis’.

    • Manacker – Everything you say is AFAIK correct, but the extraordinary thing about gravity is that even though it is regarded as a law of science, we still don’t know how it works, ie, its mechanism. However, what we do know is that there is a very large amount of evidence supporting its existence and allowing us to estimate its magnitude, and that there is no(?) contra evidence. I was attempting to contrast that with climate science, where a promising hypothesis has been pushed well beyond its supporting evidence and has been elevated into an aggressively promoted paradigm, which continues to be vigorously defended in spite of growing contra evidence. Personally, I would like to see science try to pull back from the ‘Thomas Kuhn’ world that it has always inhabited, and into which climate science has moved to excess, and bring in a bit more ‘Karl Popper’. Judith Curry has made some suggestions in this direction in the past (“moderated discussion” I think she called it), and hopefully she will again.

    • John Carpenter – Correct, I did say “in a sense”, and I did say it had progressed to be a ‘law’. Perhaps I should have added “justifiably so”.

    • Does physics really tell the fundamental reason or mechanism of anything?

      For some phenomena we have theories that explain them at a level deeper down in the hierarchy of theories, but we do not have any fundamental theory, only successive levels known presently up to some limit. Future research is likely to add some more levels, but there’s no guarantee that this quest leads ever to an end, i.e. a really fundamental theory.

      Looking from this perspective gravity is not fundamentally different from electromagnetism. It’s true that building a theory that encompasses both electromagnetism and quantum mechanism has been more successful than attempts to include gravity and quantum mechanism in the same theory, but that’s a technical detail of present physics, not necessarily anything more fundamental.

      From a philosophical point of view I don’t consider quantum filed theories (QFT) more fundamental explanations than theories of gravity. In particular we do even lack ordering between QFT and General Relativity. Both are deeper theories in the hierarchy than Newtonian mechanics with gravity, but their relative ordering is not determined, they are presently in different branches.

    • ‘Gravity has been corroborated many times by empirical data. It has been explained by Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. It can be physically measured on Earth. ”

      it could be unicorns. you havent ruled out unicorns.

    • David Springer

      Gravity is a law not a theory. It is measured but not explained. Unlike the other three fundamental forces (weak, strong, electromagnetic) there is no particle known to carry the force. The graviton is a hypothetical particle. Accelerating expansion of the universe was not predicted and is evidence that the law of gravity is a locally measured phenomenon that breaks down over very long distances or is not really constant in all times and/or places.

    • David Springer

      manacker | December 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |

      Mike Jonas: Gravity is still just a hypothesis, because no-one knows how it works

      Manaker: Not really.

      Yes, really.

      Manaker: “Gravity has been corroborated many times by empirical data. It has been explained by Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. It can be physically measured on Earth.”

      It has been measured out to the edge of the observable universe and at long distances Newton’s Law is wrong. The rate of expansion of the universe is accelerating. This is in direct contravention of Newton’s Law. Anyone with even a very modest knowledge of cosmology knows this. You obviously do not have even a modest knowledge of this area of science and should STFU about it until you do.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerating_universe

    • David Springer

      Interesting hypothesis re gravity

      http://www.nature.com/news/fat-gravity-particle-gives-clues-to-dark-energy-1.13707

      The hypothetical graviton was presumed to be massless like the photon giving it an infinite reach unlike the particles which carry the strong and week nuclear force which are massive and thus limits the distance over which the force can act to the subatomic domain. Recently is has been hypothesized that a graviton with a diminishingly small but positive mass of 10^-33 electron volts would give rise to the observed rate of accelerating expansion of the universe.

    • David Springer

      By the way, this tiny discrepancy is one of class that’s referred to as fine tuning problems. There are fundamental physical constants in the universe which must have values so precise (such as a graviton mass so close to zero that it has 33 zeroes to the right of the decimal point) that any tiny deviation would not allows stars and galaxies (along with planets and life) to exist.

      Here’s a recent PBS NOVA show about fine tuning featuring Lee Smolin who is arguably one of the top ten living theoretical physicists on the planet. I haven’t read it yet but I will as I’m familiar with Lee’s work and am curious if he’s changed his thinking in the past few years.

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/blog/2012/12/scientific-approaches-to-the-fine-tuning-problem/

    • Mosh

      You write “[gravity] could be unicorns”.

      Mike Jonas is certainly correct in writing that the “mechanism” for gravity is not yet known. But its existence is well-known and has been corroborated by empirical observations on Earth and, more recently, on the Moon or in outer space. So it could be described as a “corroborated hypothesis based on an uncertain mechanism”

      The “mechanism” for AGW (which supports the IPCC hypothesis of “GACW”) is known, based on laboratory work demonstrating the LW absorption characteristics of GH gases (including CO2). In addition, there is a weak correlation between atmospheric CO2 and past warming. Whether or the GH mechanism acts in our climate system to increase global temperature with increased CO2 levels has, however, not yet been corroborated by empirical data, so it’s still an “uncorroborated hypothesis” based on a “corroborated mechanism”

      Just as the “mechanism” for the galactic cosmic ray cloud nucleation hypothesis (Svensmark et al.) has recently been corroborated under controlled conditions in the presence of certain naturally occurring aerosols by the CERN work, and a fairly good long term correlation between solar activity and climate change exists, it is still far from certain that this mechanism can cause significant changes to our climate, so it’s still an “uncorroborated hypothesis” based on a “corroborated mechanism”

      Max
      .

    • david springer

      You write

      Gravity is a law not a theory. It is measured but not explained.

      I’ve got no problem with that, so you don’t have to STFU.

      OK?

      Max

  17. Professor Curry asked: “So why is there such a perception of a ‘communication problem’ surrounding climate science among climate scientists and scientific organizations?”

    I have seen this in the American Chemical Society, which under 2012 President Bassam Shakhashiri felt the need to create an ACS Climate Science Toolkit. Some may argue the point until the cows come home, but groups like the ACS (with very little membership input) have set aside their science hats and have put on a lobbyist hat. And few want to listen. “It’s the message, stupid”, to borrow a phrase.

    One doesn’t lobby for a:”Well, maybe this can happen” position. Advocacy is incompatible with doubt or even uncertainty. It’s just politics…
    .

  18. My biggest criticism of main stream climate science is that it has not focused on reducing the uncertainty of its attribution of global warming to human-related releases of GHG’s, primarily CO2. After 30 years and billions of dollars spent on AGW research, the consensus uncertainty range for climate sensitivity to CO2, as promulgated by the IPCC in its latest AR5 report, has not been reduced at all. This suggests to me that reducing the uncertainty was never the goal of the vast majority of this research.

    Conveniently, the lower limits of the uncertainty range tend to agree with available data for CYA purposes, and the upper range of the uncertainty band results primarily from un-validated climate simulation models.

    If climate science followed the rest of the scientific community in ignoring predictions of un-validated climate models, and just focused on the most reliable, available physical data (when did the Scientific Method get expanded to including data from un-validated computer models?), it would realize that the upper limits of the IPCC uncertainty range for CO2 sensitivity are absurd.

    Moreover, the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (ECS) value most often quoted and sought by this climate science community is a purely theoretical concept and conveniently unverifiable (by physical data) for practical use in forecasting temperatures for the next 100 – 200 years. Transient Climate Response (TCR) or a similar verifiable Transient Climate Sensitivity (TCS) value based on long term actual trends in atmospheric CO2 levels and global average surface temperature data, would be much more useful in predicting temperature trends for the next 100-200 years when atmospheric CO2 levels should be rising and then falling due to lack of economically recoverable fossil fuels to burn. Moreover, these transient climate sensitivity values have much less uncertainty in terms of Upper Bound values. But, apparently, since these most practical climate sensitivity values in deg. C of warming for a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere are significantly smaller than ECS values predicted by the same climate model, they rarely make the alarming press releases accompanying AGW research papers.

    I agree with Dr. Curry, it is the climate scientists who are confusing uncertainty and ignorance, and I would add that they are confused regarding ethical behavior when it comes to what they would like the public and public policy makers to believe about the findings of their research.

    • Harold H Doiron PhD

      +100

      It is also clear to me that, despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on climate research, IPCC has had no intention of narrowing down the estimated range for 2xCO2 climate sensitivity, the one key parameter that determines whether or not there is a potential CAGW problem.

      In fact, the range has just been widened (from 2-4.5C to 1.5-4.5C), most likely in reaction to several independent new observation-based studies, which show that it is most likely in the range of 1.2 to 2.4C.

      But, despite all these new studies, IPCC “hangs in tough” with its upper range estimate of 4.5C, because without it there is no credible scientific justification for its CAGW premise (as outlined in its AR4 and AR5 reports) and the UNFCCC political agenda this premise supports.

      I’m afraid we are witnessing “agenda driven science” here.

      Max

    • Agenda driven science?
      Seems like a contradiction in terms, Max. (
      bts.

    • One of the goals of CLIVAR is to reduce this uncertainty. The main thing holding it back is the satellite data that can’t constrain the top-of-atmosphere radiation components enough. The accuracy required is tenths of a percent in each component. The main effect of the radiative imbalance is now measured well by the ocean heat content’s rate of change and the surface temperature increase, but without breaking it down into components accurately they can’t separate CO2 and aerosol effects. If they do get the right satellites, these uncertainties will diminish, but really that is the only way to do it.

    • @ Manaker

      “I’m afraid we are witnessing “agenda driven science” here.”

      Sorry Max, you have it exactly backwards. It’s science driven agenda.

      The agenda has existed for more than 60 years; the purpose of Climate Science is to provide the certified crisis necessary to ‘drive’ it.

    • Beth

      You got that one right.

      Your fellow serf Max

    • Walt Allensworth

      “After 30 years and billions of dollars spent on AGW research, the consensus uncertainty range for climate sensitivity to CO2, as promulgated by the IPCC in its latest AR5 report, has not been reduced at all. This suggests to me that reducing the uncertainty was never the goal of the vast majority of this research.”

      Yes, after reading the “cliff notes” version of AR5 this is what struck me immediately. More than 30 years and $100B spent on AGW and the IPCC is no closer to knowing “The Number.”

      And yet they are 95% sure we’re causing the world to warm.

      Ooooookaaaaay.

      I wonder just how certain climate scientists were back in the 1970’s that we were soon going to plunge back into an ice are? 95%?

      A few times up and down this roller coaster and we’re getting a little desensitized to the cries of “wolf!”

      But they say we’re really, really sure this time!

      REALLY?

      Are we really smarter now, than we were in the 1970’s?

      Are we really smarter now than we were in the 17th century?

      Our technology is far better, I’ll grant you that, but smarter?

      Ghads.

      I hope for the sake of humanity that temperatures in the next few hundred to one thousand years do go up by 1-2 more degrees and CO2 goes up another 20-30%. Warmer, wetter and longer growing seasons are the only way we’re going to feed the world’s population.

      Another ice age would be devastating, and given how long this most recent interglacial period has lasted, we’re overdue for another one.

    • Walt, “Yes, after reading the “cliff notes” version of AR5 this is what struck me immediately. More than 30 years and $100B spent on AGW and the IPCC is no closer to knowing “The Number.””

      More like they are no closer to admitting the “The Number”. Scientific inertia and all that. Who was it that science advances one funeral at a time?

    • Ah reckon Ah never wuz too good at them ‘chicken ‘n aig’ riddles.

      But Wiki tells me:

      United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. The objective of the treaty is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.

      and

      The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body, set up at the request of member governments. It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission is to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects.

      Wuz IPCC the chicken whut laid the aig?

      Er the aig whut hatched the chicken?

      Confuzin (but not amuzin).

      Max

    • Capt’nDallas

      Science progresses one funeral at a time.” — Max Planck

      BTW I’ve thought long and hard about what I am getting you for Christmas:

      Devil’s Spawn

      That aught to warm the cockles of your heart.

    • Harold H Doiron, PhD – you say “After 30 years and billions of dollars spent on AGW research, the consensus uncertainty range for climate sensitivity to CO2, as promulgated by the IPCC in its latest AR5 report, has not been reduced at all. This suggests to me that reducing the uncertainty was never the goal of the vast majority of this research.”.

      It suggests to me that their models and/or assumptions are wrong.

  19. Chief Hydrologist

    I have belatedly added Dr. Edwards to my bookmaks toolbar. A very limited set of climate sites indeed – Tamsin Edwards and Judith Curry.

    ‘Finally, the presence of vigorous climate variability presents significant challenges to near-term climate prediction (25, 26), leaving open the possibility of steady or even declining global mean surface temperatures over the next several decades that could present a significant empirical obstacle to the implementation of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (27). However, global warming could likewise suddenly and without any ostensive cause accelerate due to internal variability. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the climate system appears wild, and may continue to hold many surprises if pressed. ‘ http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16120.full

    A ‘significant empirical obstacle’ presumably means that should the near term evolution of climate not accord with the standard model then the public and politicians might conclude that they had been sold a lemon and pull faces at climate scientists accordingly. The new paradigm of a wild climate system implies that it is not merely possible but probable that surface temps will be constrained for another decade to three.

    This is the worst of all possible outcomes. A wild climate that may shift unpredictably into a new and potentially catastrophic configuration combined with policy paralysis. The human condition is occasionally a total hoot that way.

  20. I’ve made this point before but being Sunday, this is a good time to reiterate because what some people do on Sunday mornings and most people do Sunday afternoons is illuminating. Some people go to church to be preached to. The minister tries to communicate to the congregation a little bit of guidance on how to live your life and live with one another a little better. In the afternoon, these same people (and 10’s of millions of others) sit down in front of their televisions to watch football where players bash heads together in an effort to see who is the better team that day.

    There is a lesson in this behavior. The preachers of the world communicate the same message to the same group of people. Regular church attendance is about 1 in 6 Americans. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2007/03/01/how-many-americans-attend-church-each/ On the other hand, about 2/3 of Americans watch football on Sunday. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/10/14/no-surprise-64-americans-watch-nfl-football-73-of-men-55-of-women/107308/ If climate scientists want to reach the public, it will be necessary to regularly mix it up in debate with competent antagonists. Rigging the debates will do neither side any good as the laffer games get low ratings. I’ve always maintained that “settled science” is boring. Climate science is terribly interesting and good debate can make it interesting to the general public.

    • The best efforts of communicating about the climate and the science behind AGW still has to go up against the every day observations of the public. Noting football reminded me what happened at games watched by millions of football fans across the US this weekend. Brutal cold and heavy snow.
      For the millions who watched the game in Philly or other East coast cities with up to 8″ inches of snow, or the game in Denver with its 15F temp or the college games in the Midwest or Plains with temperatures 30 degrees below average, their one observation of that admittedly short cold snap will reinforce any doubts they may have about AGW and make those on the fence need a lot of more observations of warming. Most of the public will go back to their own experiences in forming an opinion.
      Scientists can say “Yea, but” until they are blue in the face, and most in the public know it is just anecdotal evidence to see those cold, snowy games, but the emotions will trump the intellectual side of their brain every time. Until the public can experience the warming on a consistent basis, climate scientists will be walking up a down escalator.

    • @dennis adams

      At least the people watching football have actual, empirical evidence that winter is not a thing of the past and that we are in no immediate danger of being cooked by ACO2.

      There is not and has never been a problem in communicating ‘climate change’. Climate has always changed and promises to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. No one, except, apparently, Climate Scientists, questions the obvious. The real ‘skeptics’ are Climate Scientists who maintain that climate is naturally static and only now is being ‘forced’ to change, catastrophically, by ACO2. Their inability to ‘communicate’ this, in the face of historic data and contemporary observations is understandable.

      The Climate Scientists have an axiom: ACO2 is the ‘knob’ driving the TOE, and a bunch of models that treat the ACO2 knob as axiomatic. They have, as nearly as I can determine from following the discussion on sites such as this, NO actual evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that ACO2 is even strongly correlated with the observational TOE, never mind being the ‘control knob’. So it is pretty understandable that it would be a bit of a problem for them to ‘communicate’ ACO2 driven CAGW to anyone paying even marginal attention. And if there is no ‘C’ in front of ‘AGW’, why is a climate change policy required or even desirable?

      Unfortunately, CAGW has been ‘communicated’ very effectively to the children who passed through our educational system since the 1990’s through the simple expedient of flunking and Alinsky-ing the ‘skeptics’. Now, for college. HS, and grade school students, especially the bright, ‘caring’ ones who want to ‘make a difference’, ACO2 driven CAGW is unquestioned–and unquestionable.

      Communication actually turned out to be pretty easy. The choice of ‘Who ya gonna believe, us or your lyin’ eyes?’ is not that difficult when ‘us’ is backed by every regulatory and taxing agency of the US Government, controls your health care, and has electronic access to your bank account and retirement funds (plus, if you are a student, controls your GPA). And is armed to the teeth.

    • dennis adams

      Until the public can experience the warming on a consistent basis, climate scientists will be walking up a down escalator.

      And, one could argue, rightly so.

      When we are fed dire predictions of 0.2C warming per decade and we witness cooling of 0.04C per decade instead, despite unabated human emissions and all time record concentrations of GH gases (principally CO2), it is a real stretch to try to frighten people with model predictions of future catastrophe due to global warming caused by more CO2.

      So it’s probably more like climate scientists hoping to go up in a down elevator.

      Max

  21. This overconfidence (and apparent unawareness of ignorance) gives rise to the public interpreting uncertainty as ignorance, skepticism, and lost of trust.

    Irony strikes again.

    Judith you are overconfident (apparently due to unawareness, although I have done my best) about that dynamic. We often seen that when scientists appropriately identify uncertainty, at least some members of the public deliberately twist that into arguments that the scientists are ignorant. Happens on this blog a lot. How could you have missed it?

    • Joshue

      Do I detect in you an overconfidence that Judith is overconfident?

      Hmm…

      Max

    • Maybe a tad, max.

    • > at least some members of the public

      I thought there was no such thing as the public.

    • willard –

      ???

      I think that determining what “the public” thinks is meaningless. I think that determining what a “large fraction” of the public thinks requires a high bar of evidence. I think that it is fairly easy to find evidence for what at least some members of the public thinks, or at least what they say that they think, or actually more easily, what they do.

      We have quite a bit if evidence that at least some members of the public twist climate scientists’ statements of uncertainty into arguments that climate scientists are ignorant. It happens quite frequently in the “skept-o-sphere.”

    • Joshua, “We have quite a bit if evidence that at least some members of the public twist climate scientists’ statements of uncertainty into arguments that climate scientists are ignorant. ”

      Twist how?

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/why-does-the-stratosphere-cool-when-the-troposphere-warms/

    • David Springer

      Joshua trolls:

      “We often seen that when scientists appropriately identify uncertainty, at least some members of the public deliberately twist that into arguments that the scientists are ignorant.”

      Yes but it’s a very tiny twist. Smaller even than the amount of actual evidence that anthropogenic CO2 is significantly changing the earth’s climate for the worse.

  22. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    BREAKING NEWS
    James Hansen engages GLOBAL public
    Communicates CLIMATE CERTAINTY
    … addresses one billion Indian citizens …

    Only nuclear power can provide clean, abundant energy
    — interview with James Hansen —

    “Air pollution from fossil fuels kills more people than the worst nuclear technology of the past”

    “We need abundant affordable clean energy to help lift out of poverty the remaining part of humanity that is still living in poverty.”

    ————————
    Q&A with James Hansen

    “There’s just a disconnect between what they [world leaders] are saying about climate and what they’re doing about fossil fuels, so we have to really make it crystal clear that we just can’t burn much more fossil fuel.”

    Contrast  Judith Curry/Climate Etc says we need to communicate more uncertainty; James Hansen says we need to communicate more certainty

    Question  Who’s right, Hansen or Curry? Or more subtly, do both Curry *and* Hansen play essential roles?

    Answer  If Hansen’s global-science is mainly right, then so are his global-scale energy policies.

    It’s not complicated, Climate Etc readers!

    \scriptstyle\rule[2.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}\,\boldsymbol{\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}\,\heartsuit\,{\displaystyle\text{\bfseries!!!}}\,\heartsuit\,\overset{\scriptstyle\circ\wedge\circ}{\smile}}\ \rule[-0.25ex]{0.01pt}{0.01pt}

    • Think of the corium!

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Hansen is undoubtedly wrong on climate. The new paradigm of a wild climate is a radically different understanding of how climate actually works. One of the implications is for a lack of warming in the near term evolution of climate over another decade to three.

      Nuclear power may be a reasonable way to go – but it is not cost competitive in the US for instance. See some levelised costs here – http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm .

      According to this – there are a number of technologies cheaper than coal but none of them cheaper (by a wide margin) than gas. ERCOT did a modelling exercise for generation capacity and concluded that with current price structures gas is preferred – with potential contributions from wind (especially) or solar should gas prices increase.

      Nuclear designs have a significant potential for reduced costs, passive safety systems, increased proliferation resistance, minimisation of waste and decommissioning issues, elimination of water cooling and a reduced potential for sabotage. The designs have developed since the 1960’s and are currently in advanced commercial development.

    • Doc, are you suggesting that the old British expression might need to be updated to “Corium blimey!”? Or are you expressing concerns about the likelihood that in poor and corruption-ridden India, engineering and construction standards might not be adequate for safe operation of nuclear power generation plants there?

    • If Hansen’s global-science is mainly right, then so are his global-scale energy policies.

      That statement is not logical. It’s a nonsequitur or something. His policy idea of more nuclear power sounds better than his science.

    • Contrast Judith Curry/Climate Etc says we need to communicate more uncertainty; James Hansen says we need to communicate more certainty

      Question Who’s right, Hansen or Curry? Or more subtly, do both Curry *and* Hansen play essential roles?

      Translation: Hansen says we need to lie because the ends justify the means. Curry thinks we should tell the truth.

      I’m going to take a wild stab at which side you fall on.

    • Faustino, FOMD has done a 180 with respect to nuclear power in less than two weeks. The publication by Hansen has been enough for him to put away his fears of ‘corium’ and embrace nuclear power.
      Odd isn’t it?

    • Not really odd. Hansen has figured out that nuclear is a really big one of several contradictions in the climate community. Remember, they’ve told us that global warming is bad enough to consider enforced negative economic growth and depopulation, but it’s apparently not bad enough to give up dishonest liberal tropes about nuclear power. Hansen notes that this is absurd, others are saying the same about fracking for gas.
      It’s the contradictions (as well as the ridiculous “policy options” put forward) that cause the public to begin ignoring the “issue.” Hurricanes are one of the funnier ones- they predicted more. When we got fewer, they said they predicted that too (“entirely consistent with…caveats etc… “) then, when one finally appears, they drop all the excuses for their failed hurricane soothsaying, ignore the general lack of hurricane activity and demand that all news media insist that today’s storm is brought to you by General Motors and Exxon.
      The most important contradiction, however, is the one that gets attention only accidentally. Like clockwork, the media showcases the thousands and thousands of liberal activists, liberal academics, and liberal bureaucrats who spent millions of tax and donation dollars to fly to some international confab to “solve global warming.” Every time, the media has to report failure, but only a fool fails to notice that these gatherings A. involve thousands of the climate concerned flying in airplanes to lobby to prohibit commoners from flying and B. the meetings always result in commitments to cough up enough grant money for the next convention.

    • Fanny

      You quote James E. Hansen as saying:

      “Air pollution from fossil fuels kills more people than the worst nuclear technology of the past”

      “We need abundant affordable clean energy to help lift out of poverty the remaining part of humanity that is still living in poverty.”

      I do not believe that you will get too many people who disagree with these two statements.

      There may be some difference of opinion what “abundant affordable clean energy” means, i.e. combined cycle gas turbine fueled by clean natural gas, nuclear fission as is, nuclear fission with thorium and fast breeder technology, wind or solar for a small portion of the total, as limited by its intermittent availability, or even coal-fired power generation with complete flue gas cleanup so there is no residual air pollution, etc.

      And what is “affordable” in one location may not be so in another.

      And there may be “proliferation” concerns that make a specific location a poor candidate for nuclear generation.

      So the devil is in the detail – but what Hansen states here makes sense IMO(unlike a lot of his proclamations).

      Max.

      ,

  23. Fanny

    If Hansen’s global-science is mainly right, then so are his global-scale energy policies.

    His “global science” has been proven by the observed facts to be “mainly wrong”, as it is based on an exaggerated assumption of the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity.

    His 1988 prediction of warming turned out to be too high by a factor of 2:1.

    His statement about “huge climate changes” “driven by very weak, very slow forcings” is not substantiated by any hard evidence.

    His suggestion that “positive feedbacks predominate”, upon which his model-predicted high climate sensitivity rests, is not based on any fact, i.e. there is no empirical scientific evidence to support this postulation.

    His claim that “the dangerous level of CO2 is at most 450 ppm” (later reduced to 350 ppm) is based on this exaggerated assumption of the 2xCO2 climate sensitivity.

    Ergo his conclusions are NOT “mainly right”, but “mainly wrong” (“dangerous climate change”, “tipping points of the system with the potential for irreversible deleterious effects”, “extermination of a large fraction of plant and animal species”, blah-blah, etc.).

    And, therefore his global-scale energy policies (stop “coal death trains”, shut down all coal-fired power plants in USA by 2030, save the planet for his “grandchildren”, etc.) are also based on “wrong science”.

    Sorry to pop your fantasy bubble, Fanny.

    Max

    • I do believe that Hansen is using the thespian form of ‘dangerous’, as he is a bit of a drama-queen.

  24. In addition to:
    “4. People do accept the existence of risk”
    I would add:
    People accept the risk of existence.

    • Well, jim2, I didn’t have a choice initially, but I certainly favour existence with all of its inherent risks as preferable to non-existence. A couple of times in my twenties I almost opted for the latter, but I’m wiser now.

  25. Judith Curry/Climate Etc says we need to communicate more uncertainty; James Hansen says we need to communicate more certainty.

    The Consensus Forecasts have been totally wrong for seventeen years.

    They are 97% sure that the wrong forecasts are really right.

    I do know which side I am going with.

  26. I see John Cook is going to communicate “certainty” this Sunday at AGU.

    Event Title:Communicating Climate Science in an IPCC Year
    Event Notes: Scientists can do a lot more to convey basic, broad certainties about climate science that many people don’t realize or might not accept—for instance, that climate change is already here and having effects. This year, in particular, several global and national assessment reports, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 5th Assessment Report and the U.S. National Climate Assessment, are being released that will create opportunities for scientists to talk about climate science with the public. At this workshop, participants of all experience levels will learn how to communicate climate science basics to general audiences, especially during media interviews, including showing how their specific research connects to the climate science consensus. Speakers include John Cook, a Climate Communication Research Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Aaron Huertas, a Press Secretary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Susanne Moser Director and Principal Researcher of Susanne Moser Research Consulting and a Social Science Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment. The event is free and lunch will be provided. Advance sign up required. Registration is now full for this workshop.
    Event Type: Science Communication

    Event Topic: Event: By Invitation Only

    Location: Salon 4 (San Francisco Marriott Marquis)

    • John Cook (or is it “Kook”) is the ideal guy to “communicate certainty”.

      We’ll be all ears.

    • Event Topic
      Science Communication

      By Invitation Only

    • AGU, could you do us Queenslanders a favour, and ensure that Cook can’t get an exit visa? Thanks.

    • “I see John Cook is going to communicate “certainty” this Sunday at AGU.

      Event Title:Communicating Climate Science in an IPCC Year
      Event Notes: …
      …The event is free and lunch will be provided.”

      It seems the old maxim clearly holds true in this instance. I think I’d rather go without for a day.

  27. Scientists spend many years studying their science, but almost no time studying how to communicate scientific findings either to their peers or to the lay person. It is just assumed it comes naturally with practice.

    I have spent many years learning how to communicate effectively in my field. I could have saved much time had I had sound advice early on.

  28. Communicate uncertainty?

    OR

    “Accentuate the positive” [we talkin' feedbacks, man]
    “Eliminate the negative” [what "pause"?]
    “Latch on to the affirmative” [ignore dissenting views]
    “Don’t mess with Mister In-between” [i.e. let's communicate "certainty"]

  29. Points 2 and 3 seem to be the most important to those like Anthony Watts who want to foster ignorance.

    • Why make such a ridiculous baseless accusation that Anthony Watts wants to “foster ignorance”? What is the point of that? Are you trying to earn brownie points from the SkS kiddies or something? Because I can assure you that none of the adults around here are impressed.

      This is a discussion of communication issues in the area of climate. Your contribution deserves to be labelled “Exhibit A”. It is a prime example of what NOT to do.

  30. There is no easy way to say this. The IPCC and their followers have got it wrong. They were correct in saying that mankind had altered climate. The mia culpa bit.But never predicted the 15 year”pause’t hey completely missed the 1940 lesson.

  31. “There is one thing that I would add, and it is a counterpoint to #2: Scientists too often confuse ignorance and uncertainty, effectively ignoring ignorance or at least being overconfident that they have a statistical understanding of the true uncertainty. This overconfidence (and apparent unawareness of ignorance) gives rise to the public interpreting uncertainty as ignorance, skepticism, and lost of trust.”

    Plus 10! Right on.

  32. John Carpenter

    “As a scientist, I am finding 5, 6 to be very valuable.”

    When faced with problem solving it is critical to employ both experts and non experts. Take the simpler task of RCCA when facing a quality issue or non conformance. Experts who make products, study processes, create or design them are sometimes caught not being able to see the forest through the trees when faced with difficult non conformance issues. They are too close to the subject. it is not uncommon for the observant non expert to point out a simple relationship the experts did not consider or thought unimportant. Non experts are not hindered by thinking they have considered everything and are less apt to be conscience of voicing ‘stupid’ ideas. That is why a team of experts and non experts are most effective at problem solving. Understanding how CO2 impacts our climate is simply a larger example of this.

    • A case in point, John: I’m not an economic modeller, but often in a roomful of expert economic modellers, I could quickly see basic flaws in their work which none of them had observed. Generally because I have an intuitive feel for numbers and relationships, and though lacking in technical background could see when they didn’t stack up.

  33. The first thing surely is to make discussion possible by not using loose terms like “climate change”, “global warming”, “uncertainty”, “ignorance”, “extreme” as if they were technical terms requiring explanation, philosophical disputation or, god help us, communication. Feel free to tell me I don’t understand your theory or postulation, but don’t tell me you own the language and that sometimes you might mean things in a commonplace sense and other times in a tech sense – and I have to guess. (By the way, I have some idea of how much of the ocean and of the hot ball called Earth is unvisited and unknown, so you can stop with the percentages of “uncertain”. The adverbs “very” or “hopelessly” will do.)

    The single weirdest thing about the climate debate is that the perceived problem has never been given a clear name. I came up with CAGW on my own, not as a pejorative but just so it was clear what I was referring to. (Since we anthros must warm the planet at least a tiny bit, AGW is obviously an inadequate term.) I was surprised when other skeptics did the same, no doubt for the same reason. I’m told that alarmists don’t like the expression – in fact CAGW is not terrific – but I’m amazed they don’t have clear and specific names for the very things they feel to be of such importance. Then I have to wonder if they actually want specific terms. Maybe they like it when there are unanswerable surveys asking how one feels about “climate change”. Maybe these people like a bit of war fog.

    I agree that those of the so-called consensus have been successful in hijacking loose expressions like “climate change” till they have now a certain resonance. But I wonder if achieving “a certain resonance” hasn’t become more important to them than the evidence which is supposed to underlie their concerns.

    If someone is sloppy with terms…what else is he being sloppy with?

    • The problem with CAGW is that everyone has a different view of what C is. Is 2 C catastrophic or does it have to be 3 or more? How about 700 ppm with a low 1.5 C sensitivity, which gives 2 C? Many skeptics end up being CAGWers with a 2 C definition. That is why CAGW is very subjective. AGW is the better term for the science. I always say CAGW is more down to effects on mankind, social and ecological effects, while AGW is just about the numbers: how many degrees for how much carbon.

    • John Carpenter

      “If someone is sloppy with terms…what else is he being sloppy with?”

      Yeah, catastrophic is another one of those sloppy terms.

    • Jim, I won’t defend CAGW. It’s just the best of a lousy lot. I agree that “catastrophic” is far too subjective for all sides of the debate. Degrees-for-carbon depends on your acceptance of certain very mechanistic theories about GHGs emitted by humans. AGW is useless as term, since I, for one, happen to think human activity can warm the globe (and our particulates can cool it).

      What’s the point of having a debate over something nobody want to deny? I believe that climate is nothing but change, and I believe man can contribute to the warming of the planet. However I don’t believe man caused the recent low ice minima in the Arctic, for example, any more than he caused low ice minima early in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I don’t believe the Arctic temp plunge of the 1960s or the present “record” (groan) high Antarctic sea ice has anything to do with man. I don’t know why sea levels rose so markedly between the late 1700s to the 1860s and why they are still rising a bit. I don’t think it had anything to do with man. My country was born in the climate disaster of the 1790s which devastated India and caused terrifying conditions for the new settlers in Sydney. I don’t believe man had anything to do with that.

      Yet I am a believe in “climate change” and even in “AGW”. Why would I deny such things? What are we debating?

    • Jim D,

      AGW is the better term for the science. I always say CAGW is more down to effects on mankind, social and ecological effects, while AGW is just about the numbers: how many degrees for how much carbon.

      I agree AGW is about the science (or more correctly about the climate sensitivity part of the science) and CAGW is about the impacts. But it is the impacts that are important. if there are no, or only minimal, negative impacts of warming, then who cares what climate sensitivity is and who cares how much the planet warms.

      Therefore, what is relevant for policy analysis is the impacts; unfortunately, we know little about the impacts. They may be net beneficial up to 4C of warming and beyond.

      And importantly, if we consider the probabilities of natural cycles producing sudden cooling (excluding AGW effects), then it may be that AGW is more likely to be positive than negative. We know that cooling causes seriously negative impacts (‘catastrophic’ might be appropriate), but we don’t seem to have good evidence that warming would cause seriously negative impacts.

    • Peter Lang, in a sense I agree. There is enough information to know how many degrees for how much more carbon burned, and the choice is what level of temperature rise is acceptable. Many have said 2 C max, and I tend to agree, and that caps the carbon at an amount that leaves significant known reserves in the ground. If there are people who think 4 C is better than 2 C, they need to come forwards with their science. 4 C does lead to much higher long-term sea levels, for sure, and other near-term problems as outlined in at least the World Bank report on 4 C.

    • Him D,

      If there are people who think 4 C is better than 2 C, they need to come forwards with their science. 4 C does lead to much higher long-term sea levels, for sure, and other near-term problems as outlined in at least the World Bank report on 4 C.

      I don’t look at the issue the same way as you. From my perspective it is all about weighing up risks – probabilities and consequences – of many different risks and the time frames over which they are likely to occur. Bad policies to try to force the world to leave carbon in the ground in the short term (and with out viable alternatives) will do enormous damage over both the short term and the long term. Therefore, any policy that will do significant economic damage in the short term is to be avoided in my opinion. Richard Tol has estimated the cost/benefit of the EU 20/20/20 policy is 30/1: http://ideas.repec.org/p/esr/wpaper/wp367.html. That is really bad policy. The Australian carbon restrain policies are probably even worse than the EU policies.

    • Leaving carbon in the ground is not a short-term change, but a long-term plan. One way to do it is to reduce CO2 emission rates by 3 Gt CO2/yr per decade for the next century when it finally becomes zero (starting with 30 Gt CO2/yr now, 27 Gt/yr 10 years from now, etc.). This just about hits the 2 C target, according to the ‘trillion tonne’ carbon limit scenario. This is gradual enough to be practical as energy production and use gets modernized, but also effective. It is consistent with goals of 50% in 50 years.

    • Jim D, the critical issue is not whether AGW does or does not exist. The issue is that some groups in authority and with excessive influence on policy claim that AGW will be catastrophic and that extreme and economically-damaging measures must be take to ameliorate it. CAGW turns AGW from an issue of scientific interest to a few to a policy issue impacting on billions. Without promoting the alleged C, warmistas would have no leverage and would not attract massive amounts of funding, and very few people would be interested in Climate Etc. mosomoso as usual applies sound common sense in his reply to you.

    • Jim D,

      In your first comment you said:

      Many have said 2 C max, and I tend to agree, and that caps the carbon at an amount that leaves significant known reserves in the ground.

      Now you’ve replied to my reply to you but without establishing why 2 C rise is a problem. You’ve moved on to arguing for solutions and targets and time tables for reducing carbon emissions, but missed the point.

      If there is no problem (i.e. impacts of warming are negligible) we don’t need a solution. Furthermore, even if there is a problem, if the chosen solutions will do significant harm (as current policies are doing) and have just a low probability of changing the climate, then such policies should not be pursued. You seem to keep missing that point.

    • peter

      “Now you’ve replied to my reply to you but without establishing why 2 C rise is a problem. ”

      One need not establish that 2C is a problem. The logic would go something like this.

      During the course of the establishment of modern human civilization, our species
      has seen average temperatures as high as 18C. 65 million years ago the world was roughly 20C. Allegators at the north pole.we dont want to go back to that climate.

      Today it is roughly 15C.
      In our history (holocene) we have seen maybe 17 to 18C.

      Question: since the impacts are unclear do we really want to stress test our civilization by flying above these boundaries? Do we want to test what happens if we warm the planet to 17C? or 18C? we can paint pictures, some really scary, some less scary, maybe some neutral. Do we really want to test which picture is true?

      We can quite rationally argue that since we have adapted within a certain climate that it is risky to venture outside of those parameters. You personally may not find it risky, but its not your planet. It’s not my planet. Its our planet. We can argue that it is risky to get to 17 or 18C without ever detailing a specific cost or benefit, without counting a single number. Since we have no experience of modern civilization adapting to temperatures above say 18C and since we dont want to do the experiment because of unknowable outcomes, we can argue that we should do what we can to stay below 18C or 17C if you want a “design buffer”.
      In short, since one cannot calculate the costs and benefits, since one cannot perform experiments to verify these costs and benefits, one is left with the situation where decisions, if they are to be made, must be made using a different approach. Those decisions are not like buying insurance. They are not like cost benefit analysis. They are messy. there are no experts in how much risk I can force other people to take. there are stakeholders who are all self interested and biased. It’s ugly. It is not scientific although science can inform it. And because of this while I can make a rational defensible case, I cannot rationally compel you to accept it. And you can quite rationally respond that without precise figures, you cant or wont agree. That is where we are left. One side arguing that we should not cross a boundary because it is unknown. the other arguing that its ok to cross it unless it is shown to be dangerous. I see no way of forcing these two rational views to settle their differences. That is, I see no “science method” or “ethical method” or “economic method” of bringing either side into agreement with some “truth” about how one manages unknown and unknowable risks.

    • I don’t have the answers about how much worse 4 C is than 2 C, but limiting to 2 C looks possible, and moves away from fossil fuels on a century timespan that we need to do anyway. It is the closest we have to a no regrets solution. Business as usual puts us above 700 ppm by 2100, and going towards 1000 ppm beyond that, as more sources are uncovered. 700 ppm is already 4 C warmer and a no-ice climate in terms of paleo equivalents in the Eocene, so that path leads to higher eventual sea levels. I don’t think it is being a doomsayer to point out paleo equivalents because the earth has been there before, only before Man. If Man chooses or trips onto that path anyway, fine, maybe they deserve the world they create. This is point where decisions made now can be relatively painless, and the longer they are left the harder it gets to stay within a reasonable range of the current climate. If the debate is about whether 4 C is that bad, that is the debate to have, not whether or not we will pass it with business as usual. It is currently the middle estimate for 700 ppm.

    • Mosher,

      I see you have now deigned to make a comment on impacts. What has suddenly made you an authority on impacts? I’d remind you and others that about a year ago, you made a statement to the effect that climate science had moved on and it was now all about impacts. I asked, innocently, what are the impacts. You then went on for some weeks or months with abuse and bullying telling me I had no right to ask The Great Steven Mosker anything. The Great Steven Mosher makes pronouncements but does not welcome questions about things he makes pronouncements on, especially if he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he’s made a stupid comment on the subject.

      Now, to address some of your comment:

      65 million years ago the world was roughly 20C. Allegators at the north pole.we dont want to go back to that climate.

      Today it is roughly 15C.

      In our history (holocene) we have seen maybe 17 to 18C.

      You say it’s 15 C now, been up to 17 to 18C in the Hollocene, but we don’t want to go back to 20 C.

      Well, for a start, 20 C is a 5 C rise and that is a gross exaggeration.

      Secondly, you’ve implied you think we know that warming is bad. Well, tell me why is the amount of warming that is projected for this century under reasonable scenarios so bad? What do you know and why isn’t it publically available?

      What we do know with high certainty is that the policies that have been proposed to date – like global carbon pricing, the EU 20/20/20 policies, the US EPA policies, the Australian ETS, would all be very economically damaging and make virtually no difference to the climate.

      Question: since the impacts are unclear do we really want to stress test our civilization by flying above these boundaries?

      Wrong question. What you should be asking yourself is:

      Question: since the benefits of the proposed climate policies have low probability of having any beneficial effects on the climate or impacts do we really want to damage the world economy and, by so doing, slow the rate of improvement of human wellbeing?

      Do we want to test what happens if we warm the planet to 17C? or 18C? we can paint pictures, some really scary, some less scary, maybe some neutral. Do we really want to test which picture is true?

      Yes you can paint such pictures. The climate doomsayers have been painting such pictures for 30 years. James Hansen said the oceans would evaporate if humans didn’t stop their evil ways. And Al Gore, prompted by his mentor James Hansen, reckoned Manhattan would be under about 20 feet of water in the near future. This is the sort of nonsense that is damaging the credibility of climate scientists and their followers.

      We can quite rationally argue that since we have adapted within a certain climate that it is risky to venture outside of those parameters.

      We can quite rationally argue there is no point wasting trillions of dollars on policies that have very low probability of delivering the claimed benefits.

      We can also quite rationally argue that warming, including rapid warming, has been greatly beneficial for flora and fauna when it has occurred in the past. We also know that flora and fauna thrived when the planet was much warmer than now and struggled when colder. So there is no persuasive case to support the catastrophic climate change scaremongering.

      We can also argue for economically rational solutions as Bjorn Lomborg has been arguing for a decade or more – but what he advocates is hated by most of the climate doomsayers. So, we can rational argue that until the progressives become rational and stop bloc king progress there is no economically rational solution available. Without an economically rational way forward for the world, there will be little and very slow progress. Economically rational requires an alternative to fossil fuels that is cheaper than fossil fuels.

      There’s a few bits of rationality for you to digest, Mosher

      You personally may not find it risky, but its not your planet.

      So now, after just a few paragraphs the usual Mosher exposes himself. The arrogance. The talking down to the underlings. The moralising.

      I find ‘Progressives’ morals repugnant. They seem to not give a damn about the consequences of the policies they want to impose.

      Mosher, my suggestion to you is to stick with playing computer games.

    • Jim D,

      You keep missing the point. I’ve stated it twice already.

    • Peter Lang, you keep talking about some fictional but sudden economic policy that does more harm than good without actually spelling out what that policy would be, but I am talking about leaving fossil fuels in the ground by advancing greener energy production and use methods and setting long-term targets resulting in a century-long phase-out. These are entirely different things.

    • “Question: since the impacts are unclear do we really want to stress test our civilization by flying above these boundaries? Do we want to test what happens if we warm the planet to 17C? or 18C? we can paint pictures, some really scary, some less scary, maybe some neutral. Do we really want to test which picture is true?”

      If you assume that fighting war would solved this problem is it worth a war?
      Many people would say WWII was war worth fighting, some don’t, some don’t think any war should ever be fought. For people who can’t conceive
      that any war should be fought- excuse yourself form answering the question.
      Is a possibility of 18 C worth fighting a war, assuming [somehow] the war would prevent a world warming to 18 C?
      Is worth risking death of millions of people?
      Such a question is not completely unrelated to CO2, as China is emitting more CO2 than any country and China is not intending to reduce it’s CO2
      by any significant amount. Let’s call a significant amount of reduction being the most amount reduction which has occurred and that country being the US. Per capita from 1973 [22.5 tons] or 1978 [21.9 ton] to 2009 [17.28 ton]

      https://www.google.com/#q=us+co2+emissions

      So drop from peak CO2 of 5 tons per capita.
      Canada peak being 1979 [17.6 tons] and 2009 [lowest of 15.2 tons]
      So drop from peak CO2 of 2.5 tons per capita.
      With other European counties having drop of around Canada.
      Though none of these reductions are significant in term global human CO2 due to China more than tripling it’s CO2 over same time periods.
      Later numbers, wiki: 2012:
      China 9,860,000
      United States 5,190,000
      With US per capita: 16.4 tons {almost 6 ton reduction]

      So the reason China does not want to do anything to stop ever
      increasing yearly CO2 emission is because they know it would reduce
      there rate of growth and slow the increase in Chinese prosperity-
      once a county synonymous with poor, but now reaching per capita of CO2 emission and income as Europe.

      The traditional way wars have begun has commonly had to do with the a threat to economic well being of a country. Such as thing oil sanctions on Japan before WWII, can’t be said to have reduced hostility, or reduced the perception of the US as threat to Japan’s economic well being. Somehow doing something that will plainly be connected to the death and misery of millions Chinese people can not be seen as unrelated to future hostility from the Chinese people.
      Maybe it is in actuality not connected but one, but certainly possible that many people could possibly believe this.
      So I am saying it doesn’t matter how it’s done, Chinese leader wakes tomorrow, decides it wants to do some wise program of CO2 reduction, and this could still result in a war. And considering such genius as John Kerry and the impossibility that Chinese leadership doing anything like this, it’s not going to happen in this way.
      Or another way to say this is, there is only a slight chance of world any any effect upon the Chinese, and that chance depends upon the world getting “serious”, like caring more about this than they care whether Iran has nuclear weapon [which world is being utter ineffective in regards, and that definitely something which could lead to war], So it have to get to this level, be important. Something politicians could lose election regarding.
      And that what i mean by worth fighting a war over. Important.
      it’s issue of how or when such war may or may not take place- nor do get to decide where or how it’s done.
      The question is do you want to take this path to broadly could lead in this direction, which may have immediate results, but more likely results
      years in the future,
      So religious CAGWers may think it’s end of world type important stuff.
      I don’t think 2 C rise in global temperature will be any more important that about 1 C rise in global temperature which occur over last century or two. So I believe most people would prefer, global temperature of today vs global temperature of 1850. And it’s possible if we were to get a 2 C rise in global temperatures, that people could prefer today’s global average, but they probably prefer there 2 C warmer, as compared
      to 1850.
      Now I don’t think it’s likely we will get a 2 C rise in global temperature.
      I would pick around 1 C rather 2 C or +2 C.
      I don’t think we get 1 C by 2050, nor .5 by 2025.
      It seems to me that if we got .5 C by 2025, the CAGWers would strengthened, and be less hysteric.
      We might return to period of 1998, when it was seen as somewhat rational to support global warming. And governments were taking action to do something about it [not particularly Clinton and US Senate- but generally].

      So really a matter waiting for 1 or 2 rise in global temperature, .5 C
      rise maybe a point in which something could be done.
      Meanwhile, if we get more fracking around the world, then there could realistic path to do more about CO2 emission [not to mention have significantly reduced CO2 emission, had continue to use more coal.
      For China natural gas would do lot to reduce their pollution- which probably something Chinese leadership could support.

    • Jim D,

      Peter Lang, you keep talking about some fictional but sudden economic policy that does more harm than good without actually spelling out what that policy would be,

      I thought I’d made it clear, repeatedly. It is the policies that have been proposed and advocated by climate scientists, the IPCC and the many climate doomsayers for the past 20 years and still proposing those same policies. Andy policy that increases the cost of energy will do economic harm. Carbon pricing will do economic harm and deliver next to no benefits. I explained that in this post using in part Australian examples: http://jennifermarohasy.com/2013/08/why-the-ets-will-not-succeed-peter-lang/. The cost/benefit of the EU 20/20/20 policy is estimated by Richard Tol to be 30/1. I hope you understand what that means.

      Carbon pricing will not work in the real world. Renewable energy is a massive waste of money.

      Bjorn Lomborg has explained repeatedly for a decade or more what is the economically rational approach.

      I trust that answers your question.

      but I am talking about leaving fossil fuels in the ground by advancing greener energy production and use methods and setting long-term targets resulting in a century-long phase-out.

      On the short term leaving fossil fuels in the ground would be very damaging. The economic damage done would be very long term. It’s like losing a golf stroke. You can;t get it back. similarly, if we lose a year of GDP growth we can never get it back. (The Australian ETS would lose at least a year of GDP over 37 years to 2050).

      Forget about setting targets. Nothing can be achieved in the real world until we have fit-for-purpose alternatives to fossil fuels that are cheaper than fossil fuels. Achieving that is being blocked by the anti-nukes who are mostly the same people who are the climate doomsayers – mostly ‘Progressives’. What you need to be advocating is removing the impediments that are blocking cheap low cost energy. Until you have allowed us to have a cheaper alternative than fossil fuels, stop trying to force targets on people or countries.

      Allow a cheap alternative to fossil fuels to happen and the markets will do the rest – no need for top down, internationally agreed policies, targets and time tables, enforcement, penalties for not meeting commitments, etc.

    • Humanity can’t just decide it’s going to only raise temps by 1, 2 or however many degrees centiwhatever. It has to pick a philosophical approach which I think boils down to a choice between Cornucopianism and Malthusianism, which respectively translate to statist vs libertarian policies. My one vote and two vocal cords are with the Cornucopians.

    • Arrrgh! Got em backwards. Libertarianism goes with Cornucopianism. Statism goes with Malthusianism.

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      “Observed increases in ocean heat content (OHC) and temperature are robust indicators of global warming during the past several decades. We used high-resolution proxy records from sediment cores to extend these observations in the Pacific 10,000 years beyond the instrumental record. We show that water masses linked to North Pacific and Antarctic intermediate waters were warmer by 2.1 ± 0.4°C and 1.5 ± 0.4°C, respectively, during the middle Holocene Thermal Maximum than over the past century. Both water masses were ~0.9°C warmer during the Medieval Warm period than during the Little Ice Age and ~0.65° warmer than in recent decades. Although documented changes in global surface temperatures during the Holocene and Common era are relatively small, the concomitant changes in OHC are large.”

    • Jim D

      The problem with CAGW is that everyone has a different view of what C is. Is 2 C catastrophic or does it have to be 3 or more? How about 700 ppm with a low 1.5 C sensitivity, which gives 2 C? Many skeptics end up being CAGWers with a 2 C definition. That is why CAGW is very subjective. AGW is the better term for the science. I always say CAGW is more down to effects on mankind, social and ecological effects, while AGW is just about the numbers: how many degrees for how much carbon.

      The “CAGW” premise of potentially catastrophic impacts resulting from the climatic effects of increased levels of GHGs (principally CO2) has been outlined in detail by IPCC in its AR4 report. This premise essentially goes as follows:

      1. human GHGs have been the cause of most of the observed warming since ~1950 [AR4 WGI SPM, p.10]
      2. this reflects a model-predicted 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2 ±0.7°C [AR4 WGI Ch.8, p.633]
      3. this represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment from anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the range of 1.8°C to 6.4°C by the end of this century with increase in global sea level of up to 0.59 meters [AR4 WGI SPM, p.13]
      4.resulting in increased severity and/or intensity of heat waves, heavy precipitation events, droughts, tropical cyclones and extreme high sea levels [AR4 WGI SPM, p.8],
      5. with resulting flooding of several coastal cities and regions, crop failures and famines, loss of drinking water for millions from disappearing glaciers, intensification and expansion of wildfires, severe loss of Amazon forests, decline of corals, extinction of fish species, increase in malnutrition, increase in vector borne and diarrheal diseases, etc. [AR4 WGII]
      6. unless world-wide actions are undertaken to dramatically curtail human GHG emissions (principally CO2) [AR4 WGIII]

      IPCC repeats a good part of this, in slightly different wording, in its AR5 report (with the mean estimate for 2xCO2 climate sensitivity reduced very slightly and the uncertainty range increased to 3.0°C±1.5°C). The “worst case business-as-usual” scenario, RCP8.5, has temperature increasing by 3.7°C above today by the end of this century with a somewhat higher increase in global sea level of 0.84 meters.

      That’s “CAGW” as defined by IPCC, Jim.

      Agree with you that “AGW is a better term for the science”.

      But “CAGW” is a more concise term for the “hype”, which is being promoted by IPCC, as outlined above.

      And that is what is being debated here and elsewhere.

      Max

    • Peter Lang

      +100

      Thanks for spelling out very clearly what the realistic, common sense policy could be for reducing the dependency of the world on fossil fuels by an approach to replace new coal-fired power plants with new nuclear plants.

      Based on the data out there on energy projections for the future, I have roughly figured that such an all-out “no regrets” approach could reduce the atmospheric CO2 concentration by 2100 by around 60 to 80 ppmv (say from an estimated 650 ppmv to 570 to 590 ppmv), thereby theoretically reducing the amount of global warming by 2100 by 0.4C to 0.6C.

      A recent paper by the ASME suggested several other smaller “no regrets” initiatives, which could be implemented (in the transportation sector as well as energy conservation actions) that could reduce CO2 by 2100 by another 30 to 40 ppmv, for another 0.2C to 0.3C theoretical reduction in global warming by 2100.

      These actions would obviously need to be global to have a meaningful effect. And there are currently enormous political hurdles, which must be overcome, especially in many European nations against nuclear power.

      None of these actions require the imposition of a direct or indirect tax on energy, which (as you write) would have no positive result – only a negative impact on the economy and human welfare, particularly on the poorest nations and their inhabitants..

      So I’d agree with you that it’s basically up to “the world” to agree on whether or not CAGW is, indeed, a potential threat to humanity and our environment, and (if so) whether or not the nations of the world are prepared to implement a shift away from coal to nuclear power and the other smaller “no regrets” initiatives to further reduce CO2 emissions and levels.

      I’m personally betting that there will be no such decision and that there will be a lot of oratory and political posturing regarding the “CAGW threat” but that the politicians that happen to be in power will continue to do what they believe to in their own best interests.

      But I may be wrong.

      Max

    • While carbon pricing may be effective at raising the needed revenue to incentivize a transition to green energy, I don’t think it works as a deterrent, because that ends up hitting the consumers more than the fossil fuel producers. You would do better to directly pay off the fossil fuel executives to stop producing and close down or transition to approved technologies, and it would be more cost-effective.

    • manacker, you list a set of things and label that as catastrophic when others would not depending on where they live and whether they care what else happens in the world. I think a lot of the anti-CAGW people are in this category, that while those bad things will happen to some people, they won’t happen to the majority, so they don’t care. Who are we arguing against when someone says they don ‘t believe in CAGW? Are they just making a different moral judgment where we can agree on the effects but not their importance? It is too imprecise to just say you deny CAGW, because you share the category with these people.

  34. ”climate” scientist work on atmosphere made of CO2+CH4 and water vapor; ATMOSPHERE WITHOUT OXYGEN &NITROGEN… ignoring those two jumbo elephants in the room – all it’s left is THE conspiracy: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/

  35. Horizontal winds cool the land / water; vertical winds are cooling the troposphere. WINDS ARE MADE FROM OXYGEN &NITROGEN!!!

    Shocking news: oxygen & nitrogen exist in the earth’s atmosphere, they are 998999ppm. They expand instantly when warmed and increase the volume of the troposphere = increase cooling space / shrink when get colder than normal and decrease volume of the atmosphere / the earth’s radiator volume decreases, to conserve heat: OVERALL ALWAYS IS SAME TEMP IN THE TROPOSPHERE http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/q-a/

  36. The problem with numerical uncertainty discussions is that they’re numerical… Communicating numerical information around a politically charged subject isn’t as straightforward as it seems. The more numerate you are the more likely you are to misinterpret data around a politically charged topic.

    The link below is to a research paper abstract. The researchers used a politically neutral topic (effect of a skin cream on a rash) and a politically charged topic (effect of gun control on crime in the US) with made up data. The results are a real eye opener.

    Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2319992

  37. “Doubt is not a pleasant condition but certainty is absurd”
    Voltaire

  38. Part of Kahan’s problem is that he doesn’t realize that people with the ability to understand numbers understand the possibility that the numbers are cooked. His conspiracy work is also ignores common left-wing conspiracies, like the Military-Industrial complex, crony-capitalism and the assassinations of JFK, RFK and Paul Wellstone.
    Of course people have bias, that is what makes us people.

    • In a similar vein of quasi-mathematical sociology, it reminds me of a BBC article a while back, titled “Why do people vote against their own interests?”

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8474611.stm

      As far as I can tell, it is not intended as humour and acknowledges no irony. They appear quite certain that they can know, with complete certainty, how other people “should” or “ought to” vote.

    • In the BBC article, “Political scientist Dr David Runciman gives his view on why there is often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.” He was talking about Obamacare. Hmmm … perhaps the benefits are not so obvious to all of those affected?

    • When communicatin’ complex issues
      it’s meet ter be aware
      of the complexity yerself…

      ‘They were never wrong
      the old masters,’ says Auden,
      ‘about suffering.’ How when
      some one, Breughel’s Icarus,
      say, is falling from the sky,
      near by revellers, heedless,
      jest sail on by.

      Or wrong about love,
      the ‘good’ that in
      itself suffyseth,
      Chaucer surmyseth.
      I myself have surmysed
      like-wyse.

      Then there’s the old masters
      on survival. Shakespeare’s
      Lear raging at the storm,
      Hardy’s darkling thrush, ‘I am here!’
      Roethke on root cellars.
      Life subtle or in the raw,
      all the rich variety
      in art and litera-ture.

      Hmmm, on understanding,
      contemplating variability,
      investigating context,
      critically distinguishing.

      bts

    • Doc –

      Kahan’s work?

      And being a man of numbers, perhaps you could explain by what data you determine that the MIC, theories about crony capitalism, and theories about the assassination of RFK and JFK are “left wing conspiracies?”

      And just how massively is that “left wing conspiracy” about the assassination of Wellstone.

      Too funny.

    • ::grin:: Mine’s bigger’n urine.
      =====

    • Joshua, how big is the conspiracy behind the faked moon landings and big oil pay rolling ‘deniers’?

    • Doc –

      So let me see if I got this right… You think that “mommy, mommy, they did it fiiirrrrrssst” is a legitimate argument?

      And I notice how you ducked all the questions.

      And what does this have to do with Kahan? Did you mean Lew?

    • Er Joshua, I would cut down on the wacky-baccy as it is causing you serious problems.
      Kahan’s work is based on asking people to evaluate things, which has has either made up or believes to be true, and then interpreting their answers to understand how people minds works.
      One of his problems is that he never uses appropriate internal controls, his personal bias shines through in the sort of questions he asks. This is not to say that Kahan is a particularly biased person, he isn’t, and appears to be open minded and quite a nice dude. However, all scientists bring their own bias to the table and Kahan’s bias is left of center. What he holds to be true and false, other believe to be false and true.
      One could ask him and George W. Bush two simple questions and get quite opposite answers:-
      do you believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God?
      do you believe that Obamacare will improve healthcare in the USA?
      Bias you see.
      Now if we ask the question, do people on the left play up the consequences of increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, you would say no and I would say yes.

    • Steven Mosher

      “So let me see if I got this right… You think that “mommy, mommy, they did it fiiirrrrrssst” is a legitimate argument?”

      of course it is a legitimate argument.

    • Castro did it – far right
      the mob did it – mainstream Republican
      Oswald did it – mainstream Democrat
      the CIA did it – far left
      guman on grassy noll – mentally imbalanced

      Hey, my Aunt met Marina Oswald at her friend Ruth Paine’s house, so I’m an expert.

    • Doc –

      It seems that I wrote a post that disappeared. Maybe Judith deleted it because of my mention of your weak argument about Gauchat’s data showing that the growth of the religious right is irrelevant to a loss of trust in science among conservatives. That would seem rather capricious and arbitrary to me, but she has been capricious and arbitrary in her deletions of my posts in the past (hey, it’s her blog), so maybe it happened. So on the chance that I just messed up, let me try again in a somewhat shortened form.

      Kahan relies on fairly well validated data on material such as scientific literacy, religiosity, risk perception, etc. Perhaps rather than relying on a boilerplate approach based on an argument by assertion, which is little better than relying on mommymommyism, you could explain which questions he “asks” that fail to implement appropriate internal controls for his biases?

      Oh, and I would suggest that you try going to his site to explain to him how he has failed to implement appropriate internal controls on the questions he “asks.” It would be interesting.

    • JCH –

      My personal favorite was the argument that the Military Industrial Complex is a “left wing conspiracy.”

      That ol’ Eisenhower sure was crafty little “leftist,” wasn’t he?

    • Steven Mosher

      Doc, the best example of how kanan’s framing determines the answer he wants, is his study of the white male effect. Since he doesnt practice open science it’s hard to evaluate his work from a nuts and bolts perspective. It’s not really science.

    • Since he doesnt practice open science it’s hard to evaluate his work from a nuts and bolts perspective.

      Translation = “since I can’t be bothered to try to engage with his analysis, I’ll just say that it is biased without evidence.”

    • Yes, to throw ‘em of the trail, we leftists hired Mosher.

    • Steven Mosher

      Joshua

      “Translation = “since I can’t be bothered to try to engage with his analysis, I’ll just say that it is biased without evidence.”

      1. he doesnt make his materials available.
      2. my first step with all science climate and otherwise is to start with the
      data and methods.
      3. if the data and the methods are not availble, I MAKE NO JUDGEMENT
      on the findings. They could be biased or unbiased, valid or invalid,
      strong or weak. they could be anything. i withold judgement. This is rational. this is fair. I use the same approach with everyone.

      in the white male effect paper surely you see the problem.
      lets test your bias confirmation. How does asking the question he asks leave other questions unasked? think now, critically.

    • JCH

      An’ Ah wunce stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in Dallas, so Ah reckon Ah’m an ex-purt, too.

      An’ Ah know it wuz the KGB what dunnit.

      Left wing, right wing? (Ain’t got nuthin to do with it).

      Ol’ Josh is jest fan-ta-sizing.

      Max

    • steven –

      From what I’ve seen, he’s quite open with the data he uses and his methods.

      Can you tell me which data and methods you haven’t been able to get access to? I’ll go over to his blog to ask him to make them available.

      Or maybe you’d like to do it?

      I’d like to see his response.

      As I’m sure you would too. Seeing as how you have accused him of bias, it would be interesting to see what happened if you actually engaged him with your argument.

      Or then again, if you’d rather just lob broadsides, go right ahead. No reason to change your behavior, eh?

    • “My personal favorite was the argument that the Military Industrial Complex is a “left wing conspiracy.”

      That ol’ Eisenhower sure was crafty little “leftist,” wasn’t he?”

      Of course it’s a conspiracy theory of lefties.
      Whether Obama [a lefty] as President of US [Commander in Chief]
      Believes in a wild conspiracies of Military Industrial Complex would
      more crazy to what Lefties are normally capable of- considering
      that he is presently the Commander in Chief.

      Eisenhower would have more trust and knowledge in regard to the “Military Industrial Complex” than compared to Obama- Eisenhower had tons of experience in the military. Obama probably only thinks he has deeper understanding of Military Industrial Complex than anyone on the Planet, but that’s because he is an idiot Lefty- they always think they know more than people who could actually reasonably be regarded as knowing more.

      Or the reason Eisenhower was elected President is he had understanding of US military [had experience] and had experience working as Executive [and President is an executive position]. So Eisenhower had experience in all aspects related to being a President of US. That is why Republican want him to be nominee for President and is why the US public voted in majority for him to be the US president. Definitively a conservative candidate.
      A conservative candidate the Dem would love to have as democratic candidate assuming he was a Dem and assuming such candidate could have chance of getting thru Dem primary [very unlikely].

      So who do Lefty vote for? Someone with no executive experience and wants to cut Military spending [and never served a day in his life in the military]. To be US Federal government chief executive and it’s commander in chief. Obama had one quality some conservatives like- an outsider. So Obama is so far outside he from a different country.
      So Eisenhower was conservative because he wasn’t a community organizer, attending moronic church, and sit on the knee of a famous American terrorist- but these “street creds” for lefties.

      Lefties are idiots, of course they believe all kinds of nonsense.

      But concern of Military Industrial Complex is not necessary crazy, only when people [whether left or right who uneducated twits reading pseudo-scientific books of Silent Spring variety {or worse}] buy into some delirium of story plot involving the Military Industrial Complex or space aliens.

      But is the aspect of over classifying such things as top secret, problem? Yes.
      Is bureaucracies of our intelligence community blind to real national security threats?
      Yes.
      Are military equipment build in less than adequate standards.
      Yes.
      Are military lobbyists, lobbyists? Yes.
      And finally more pertain to this blog, do we have government climate scientist, telling lies to the public? Yes.
      And they so dim witted they even argue that lying to the public.
      is necessary.
      When government people come point where they think it vaguely reasonable to lie to the public they are serving, and they not removed from their jobs, pronto, this is precisely the Military Industrial Complex we were warned about.
      A government completely insulated from the effects of public opinion and common sense.
      A tyranny where public servants work for only for their political masters rather than, being public servants.

    • You see what I mean about the Military-Industrial complex; very popular among some people.
      In 1961 Ike stated:-

      “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

      We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

      http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

      So did President Eisenhower’s fear that the vested interests of the industrialists and military would distort the US economy?

      As even a cAGWer can see, the proportion of wealth spent on the military has fallen, even with JFK’s little adventure in South East Asia and Reagan burring the Soviets.
      So Military-Industrial Complex; nil, political pork; 1.

      Isn’t it nice to have people make your point for you.

    • OK. Moderation. With one link:

  39. Since the comment has been posted again, for about the umpteenth time, that nuclear is not competitive in the USA at the moment (yes, that is correct, nor would it be competitive in Australia at the moment), I’ll repost the comment I’ve posted before to explain that while nuclear is not competitive now, it is because of the impediments that have been imposed on it over the past 50 years. If we remove them the cost will come down, but it will take time. Nuclear is already the safest way to generate electricity so that is not a valid justification for the imposts. The imposts are preventing the world from having cheaper and safer energy.

    The development of nuclear power has been slowed by costly regulatory restrictions:

    Schrattenholzer (2001) survey the evidence for energy technologies, showing that, in line with the more general results mentioned earlier, unit cost reductions of 20% associated with doubling of capacity has been typical for energy generation technologies, with the exception of nuclear power.

    and

    Negative [learning rate] estimates have even been reported for technologies when they have been subject to costly regulatory restrictions over time (e.g. nuclear, …

    http://www.eprg.group.cam.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/eprg0723.pdf

    Professor Bernard Cohen showed in 1990 that regulatory ratcheting had increased the cost of nuclear by a factor of four up to that time [1]. Regulatory ratcheting since then has probably double the cost of nuclear energy, for a total cost increase of a factor of eight. Reducing regulation and licencing costs will not greatly reduce the cost of the current generation of reactors. But it can greatly reduce the cost of future designs, and the operating costs. It can greatly increase the learning rate. It will take decades to take full effect on the cost of electricity, but that explains why it is so important to get on with it.

    [1] Bernard Cohen (1990) ’Cost of nuclear power plants – what went wrong’

    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Oh for God’s sake – if you are referring to me I made a comment on levelised costs of various generating technologies based on EIA data.

      http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

      Right now nuclear is nearly twice the cost of gas generation.

      Even if this very dubious idea of reducing costs sufficiently by deregulation panned out over decades – it makes no difference to current generation planning.

    • Of for God’s sake yourself – Of course I was referring to your comment. You’ve posted the same comment repeatedly, usually to try to discredit a point I’ve made about nuclear power being the opportunity for the low emissions energy to replace fossil fuels, initially in electricity generation. You keep repeating it that nuclear is not competitive with gas in the USA now. You quote ERCOT study and the EIA LCOE estimates, all of wshich is irrelevant to the point I’ve been making.

      I’ve told you repeatedly I agree that nuclear is not competitive in the USA now, and explained why. I’ve also explained why, if we want to replace fossil fuels, nuclear will have to be a major component of the energy supply system, and probably the dominant source eventually. But I don';t know how long that will take. When we get started on removing the impediments is largely a political issue.

      The current situation with the relative costs of nuclear is no more relevant to the future than projections of anything else that is politically fabricated such as carbon pricing and renewable energy targets.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘The estimated cost in NRC fees of obtaining a design certification is $50-$100 million IF the application is based on light water technology that has a 55 year history on which to base decisions. All bets and estimates are off if the applicant decides to be innovative and use one of the half dozen or more other technologies that have been proven at demonstration scale through several decades of testing here and abroad.

      All operating reactors pay the full federal cost of regulation. The annual fee starts at $4.7 million per reactor, no matter how large or small it is and no matter how exceptional its record is. If an operator somehow upsets its permanently assigned resident inspectors (there are two for every plant), it may end up paying for additional regulatory services to the tune of several million per year in fees – plus about 2-3 times that amount in salaries and lost time in responding to the additional “assistance.” TVA recently got put on the bad boy list merely by having a valve turn out to be not operable in automatic – though it could still be manually repositioned.’ http://atomicinsights.com/examples-of-regulatory-costs-for-nuclear-energy-development/

      Although it can be argued that some of this is unnecessary – it is hardly sufficient to tip the economic balance.

      ‘Nuclear power plants have a “front-loaded” cost structure; i.e. they are relatively expensive to build but relatively inexpensive to operate. Although costs vary both between and within countries, about two-thirds of the costs of generating electricity from a nuclear power plant are accounted for by fixed costs arising from the construction process, with the remainder being fixed and variable operating costs. These costs generally break down in a ratio of two-to-one. The main fixed costs are capital repayments and interest on loans. An allowance for decommissioning costs is also included in this item, although the timing and precise costs of decommissioning lack clarity. Fuel is a relatively minor component of operating costs, because uranium is in relatively abundant supply in terms of current requirements.

      Once a nuclear power plant has been built, its construction costs have effectively
      been “sunk” and the plant’s second-hand value is negligible. Thus it makes financial sense to operate the plant continuously based upon the fact that low fuel costs effectively yield a relatively low short run marginal cost for power production. Currently nuclear power is the cheapest form of electricity production in most OECD countries for existing plants. Utilities are attempting to extend the life of
      these plants to capitalise on this advantage. However, they appear very reluctant to invest in new nuclear plant without substantial government cost and market guarantees and other subsidies.
      For new nuclear power plants their competitiveness depends on several factors.

      First, the cost of alternative technologies. Nuclear is likely to be particularly suitable
      for countries seeking energy security that are not well endowed with coal and/or
      gas reserves and must therefore import their fossil fuel requirements. Second, it
      depends on the overall electricity demand in a country and its rate of growth. Third,
      it depends on the market structure and investment environment.

      In general, nuclear power’s front loaded cost structure is less attractive to a
      private investor in a liberalised market that values short-term returns rather than a
      government-owned utility that has a longer-term perspective.

      http://www.ceda.com.au/media/153125/nuclearfinal8nov.pdf

    • Chief Hydrologist

      No I didn’t repeat anything – apart form linking to the EIA site which has up to date and useful information. I then commenting on the costs of various technologies. You are the one who keeps parroting decades old reports.

      Gas is undoubtedly the low cost alternative for the US in the next few decades at least.

      I swear Peter Lang is like a dog with a bone, obsessive and compulsive.

    • Chief Hydrologist’s ego has been pricked again. He’s trying to appear authoritative on a subject he knows nothing about, and gets up set when he’s shown up.

      ‘The estimated cost in NRC fees of obtaining a design certification is $50-$100 million IF the application is based on light water technology that has a 55 year history on which to base decisions.

      .

      That’s irrelevant. It’s a small component of the total cost to get new design or design change through the approvals process. The cost to get even a small reactor through the process is in the order of 10 years and $1 billion. It also costs an enormous amount to get design changes approved. So the development of nuclear power has been retarded for 50 years.

      The financial risk to investors is high. They have to cover for the risk of the politics changing against nuclear as has happened in Germany. So the cost of money is high.

      I realise Chief doesn’t get any of this, or doesn’t want to because he’d prefer to keep pushing his uneconomic non-solutions to cutting global GHG emissions.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I have had enough – again. Lang is incapable of effective communication. He seems to only want to impose his rather dubious views with the usual threats, abuse and insults. It seems a typical response from the typical obsessive.

      He admits that nuclear is nearly twice as expensive as gas in the US – and suggests deregulation is the solution decades down the track. It is really not much of a solution at all.

      I quote up to date experts in the filed. He quotes 25 year old reports and accuses me of not knowing what I am talking about. He doesn’t respond with any detail but merely goes off on yet another tirade.

      Bye Lang – can’t say that the experience has been enlightening or entertaining.

    • I hesitate to come between Peter Lang and the Chief, but here’s a letter I sent to the Australian on 25 Nov:

      “I do not see any prospective global warming as a serious threat, but our governments have done so for over 20 years, and it has long been obvious that only nuclear power could significantly reduce CO2 emissions without causing serious damage to our economy. The time-scale between a decision to contemplate nuclear power and a plant coming on stream may be 15 years or more (“Let’s get real: nuclear is the only option,” 25/11). The only flaw with Ben Heard’s sensible proposal is the dereliction of duty by Australian governments, which should have begun many years ago to develop the regulatory structure and expertise which are necessary prerequisites for nuclear power. This work must begin now.”

      So whatever the present cost comparison, whatever the factors, the essential point is that if nuclear energy is ever to enter the equation in Australia, preparatory work should have begun as soon as our government accepted the need to reduce GHG emissions. No sensible grounds for not beginning now, and be ready to take advantage of technological and regulatory advances elsewhere when nuclear power becomes a viable option for Australia.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Hi Michael,

      Good to hear from you again – I hope you are well.

      I was actually leaving it at that as I had said. Nuclear is almost twice the cost of gas in the US – which Peter believes can be addressed by deregulating the industry over a couple of decades. Yes we get it. It is just not all that relevant.

      The future of the industry globally is in advanced fuel cycles in newer generation plant. The newer fuel cycles produce much less long lived waste – safe in hundreds of years rather than millions. I have often thought Australia is in a good position to facilitate a fuels technology industry – as well as to ultimately store the waste – hundreds of years remember and much reduced volume. Make a motza and get rid of some of the 270,000 tonnes of high level waste sitting in leaky drums and ponds globally. Take the lot – reprocess it with some of our abundant raw fissile materials and sell it back to them.

      But this invites another tedious diatribe from Lang on how these technologies will take decades to commercialise. Well, a decade at least and probably more – but that is different to decades to deregulate how? At any rate – selling deregulation of the nuclear industry would seem a big ask. It would be prudent it seems to have a Plan B.

      The new generation designs (Gen 3+ and 4) have significant advantages.
      They have a significant potential for reduced costs, passive safety systems, increased proliferation resistance, minimisation of waste and decommissioning issues, elimination of water cooling and a reduced potential for sabotage. The designs have developed since the 1960′s and are currently in advanced commercial development. China is even building one scheduled to commence supplying power in 2017.

      Selling the idea of better technology to the public seems an easier task than promoting cost cutting through deregulation of the industry.

    • Why do I find Long Peter and Chief Robert both to be highly useful and valuable sources of information? Simples, I refuse to understand their differences.
      ==========

    • “I do not see any prospective global warming as a serious threat,” – faustino.

      Is that becuase you are an old codger incapable of seing past his own life expectancy?

      “… This work must begin now.”

      It won’t.
      The same logic says it should have started yesterday. It didn’t.

      There is zero chance of nuclear in Oz in the next 25 yrs. Slim chance for the 25 years after that.

    • David Springer

      Peter – how much does the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission force China to pay in regulatory burdens?

    • @Peter Lang

      Exactly!

      In the US today, if the cost of building, fueling, and bringing a nuclear plant on line, labor and materials, were zero, we still couldn’t afford it and would have no chance of using it to power our toasters in our lifetimes, because the time to process the permits and the legal costs incurred in doing so are for all practical purpose infinite.

    • I was actually leaving it at that as I had said. Nuclear is almost twice the cost of gas in the US – which Peter believes can be addressed by deregulating the industry over a couple of decades. Yes we get it. It is just not all that relevant.

      Nuclear is not ‘almost twice the cost of gas’, in the USA. If it was, they wouldn’t be building six nuclear power plants in the USA. Clearly the investors believe they are viable, or they would not be continuing with them.

      Yes, I do say that, if the anti-nuke politics changed to pro-nuke and wide support was achieved, the costs of nuke for future plants can come down enormously, over time. There are many inherent advantages of nuclear power. For example the enormous increase in energy density compared with fossil fuels. Nuclear fuel, when used in light water reactors is 20,000 times more energy dense than coal. When used in breeder reactors could be up to 2 million times more energy dense than fossil fuels.

      Of course removing excessive regulation and reducing the cost and time required for licensing new designs and design changes is relevant. It’s highly relevant.

      Selling the idea of better technology to the public seems an easier task than promoting cost cutting through deregulation of the industry.

      That’s a misrepresentation of what I’ve been saying. First I am not advocating total deregulation. Second, partial deregulation is just one component of reducing costs. Others are educating the public to get over their irrational fear of nuclear power. Once the public is supportive the cost of financing nuclear power plants and operating them will reduce, overt time. Third, deregulation is not just for the current breed of reactors. It will have the greatest benefit in speeding up the introduction of and reducing the costs of the future generations of reactors. They are effectively blocked at the moment because the cost to develop them and take them through the stages to commercially viable is far too expensive and the risks for investors far too great.

      And yes, it will take a long time until breeder reactors are commercially viable and at the stage where utilities would buy them in preference to light water reactors. So we should move with what we’ve got now, not wait for the new breeds. Development and evolution will happen faster if we roll out the existing technologies faster.

      There really is no other viable alternative to nuclear (both current and future generations) to provide most of the world’s energy without GHG emissions. So, if we want to cut GHG emissions we’ll have to embrace it.

      A life time of energy in the palm of your hand

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/04/22/ifr-fad-4/

      The Gen III and Gen IV nuclear power synergy – why we need both

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/06/10/ifr-fad-5/

      The energy demand equation to 2050

      http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/11/tcase3/

    • Faustino,

      Thank you for your comment. Your obvious integrity and your mild mannered words and comments are much appreciated. An example to all.

      The only flaw with Ben Heard’s sensible proposal is the dereliction of duty by Australian governments, which should have begun many years ago to develop the regulatory structure and expertise which are necessary prerequisites for nuclear power. …

      So whatever the present cost comparison, whatever the factors, the essential point is that if nuclear energy is ever to enter the equation in Australia, preparatory work should have begun as soon as our government accepted the need to reduce GHG emissions. No sensible grounds for not beginning now, and be ready to take advantage of technological and regulatory advances elsewhere when nuclear power becomes a viable option for Australia.

      I agree with your point. I would emphasise a different component of the preparation though, I think there is something even more urgent than “develop the regulatory structure and expertise”. Thew rgulatory structure and expertise can be done fairly quickly once the political decision is made to proceed. UAE progressed from zero in 2007 to expecting their first reactor in line in 2017 and fourth by 2020. In 2007 they made the decision to go nuclear. They then began to set up the regulatory structures. They were in place sufficiently allow UAE to call tenders in about 2010 (from memory). The contract was awarded at end of 2011 (from memory). The first reactor is scheduled to be in service in 2017, and it is running on schedule so far. So, 10 years from political decision to proceed to first large *1

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The EIA reports $108/MWh and for gas $67.

      ‘Nuclear plants still generate nearly 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. But a report by investment research firm Morningstar in its latest Utilities Observer publication warns about the sector’s risks. The report says “the ‘nuclear renaissance’ is on hold indefinitely” in the West thanks to low electricity prices, largely driven by the natural-gas fracking boom .’

      http://grist.org/news/the-six-u-s-nuclear-power-plants-most-likely-to-shut-down/

      ‘The reason for investment being predominantly in gas-fired plant was that it offered the lowest investment risk. Several uncertainties inhibited investment in capital-intensive new coal and nuclear technologies. About half of US generating capacity is over 30 years old, and major investment is also required in transmission infrastructure. This creates an energy investment crisis which was recognised in Washington, along with an increasing bipartisan consensus on the strategic importance and clean air benefits of nuclear power in the energy mix.

      The Energy Policy Act 2005 then provided a much-needed stimulus for investment in electricity infrastructure including nuclear power. New reactor construction got under way from about 2012, with first concrete on two units in March 2013.’

      Note 2 not five and the shutdown of 5 – with another 6 in the firing line. I suppose they don’t know what they are talking about or it is irrelevant with reasons Lang has given pedantically and at great length elsewhere.

    • [Damn, I hit the post comment key accidentally by mistake]

      My reply to Faustino Cont. …

      So, 10 years from political decision to proceed to first large (1400 MW) unit in line. And this includes the training for the locals – although there is a separate contract to provide operators and transition to the UAE people over whatever time it takes until they are competent to run the operatiuon with nil assistance from KEPCO (Korea)

      All this was my introduction to my main point. I think the most urgent work to prepare Australian and to get widespread and bi partisan support is social engineering. I’d like to see the Australian Government establish faculties in at least one university in each mainland state. The aim is to research and provide guidance to government about the least cost way to provide Australia with low cost low emissions electricity. These faculties should compete to find the least cost way. By setting them up to compete, this should, hopefully, get around the ideological bias that is driving the support favour renewables energy. I suspect one of the main focuses for the research would be on what is the best way to get balanced and objective information to the public.

      I think running the faculties, educating undergraduate and post graduate students, research would be a good start. Bit by bit the facts about risks and costs and benefits would filter out to the public, the media and the politicians. Eventually it would get to school teachers and they would teach their children more factual, less emotional nonsense about nuclear power. Over time, opinions would change. That is what I think is the longest lead time item needed for Australia.

    • The EIA reports $108/MWh and for gas $67.

      I’ve told you a dozen times that’s only part of the total cost. You keep quoting bits of news articles you don’t understand. And foll your comment with abuse. You take obnoxious to a whole new level.

      As for pedantic, if you weren’t so dishonest with your continual misrepresentations I wouldn’t have to be pedantically correcting them.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘This paper presents average levelized costs for generating technologies that are brought on line in 20181 as represented in the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) for the Annual Energy Outlook 2013 (AEO2013) Early Release Reference case.2 Both national values and the minimum and maximum values across the 22 U.S. regions of the NEMS electricity market module are presented.

      Levelized cost is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle.’

      http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

      They don’t agree with Lang? They must be wrong as well as liars, fool and charlatans.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      There was a Grist article that succinctly described the state of the industry in the US and a World Nuclear Association webpage (sorry – http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-T-Z/USA–Nuclear-Power/ ).

      At least one of these is an impeccable source. Lang claims I don’t understand plain English in these sources. It is a pathetic and ultimately very stupid sham argument.

      Say something that has some factual basis Lang or STFU.

    • Chief,

      We know all that. I’ve explained to you a dozen times, but you wont; read the links I post and reject whatever I explain, so no point me doing it again.

      Your problem is your ego is so out of control, your skin so thin, so obsessive-compulsive, start fights and want the last word on every fight you start, you spend so much time writing abuse and obnoxious posts, that there is no chance of making contact with you.

      For anyone who is interested, here is a simple comparisons I did of the costs and CO2 emissions for supplying the Australian eastern grid with low emissions electricity http://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf. It compares five scenarios: 100% renewable energy, mostly renewable energy with a little gas, and mostly nuclear energy with a little gas. The five scenarios are compared on the basis of
      – CO2 emissions per MWh from the whole system
      – Capital cost for the whole system (excluding the cost of the existing electricity grid, so only extra grid infrastructure is included)
      – Cost of electricity from the whole system (as for capital cost)
      – CO2 abatement cost ($/tonne CO2)
      The comparisons are summarised in Figures 5 and 6

      The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has done a more thorough analysis of the cost for a 100% renewable energy system for the same eastern Australia grid. However, the terms of reference were driven by politics and AEMO covered their backside by stating the costs would be greater than stated in the report. The biomass component is critical to providing backup. But the CSIRO study that estimated the amount of biomass fuel available excluded logistics in its analysis. Logistics is a critical issues for biofuels for back up requiring very high levels of availability for nearly all plants through all seasons, including long droughts. There are other important criticisms of the analysis, but not of AEMO.

      The CSIRO scenarios calculator showed that if nuclear was allowed in Australian it would be provide 60% of Australia’s electricity by 2050. And this is despite no allowance for cost reduction for nuclear and aggressive cost reduction assumptions for renewables http://efuture.csiro.au/#scenarios

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Your problem is your ego is so out of control, your skin so thin, so obsessive-compulsive, start fights and want the last word on every fight you start, you spend so much time writing abuse and obnoxious posts, that there is no chance of making contact with you.’

      Projection is a terrible affliction. The rest is merely obfuscation and distraction.

      1. 2013 US EIA costs were provided – and this is what this is all about. Lang’s need to deny reality notwithstanding.

      2. The CSIRO scenario generator? Gee that’s rigourous.

      He is right that I don’t read links to anything he has written. If he can’t get the basics right on anything – what hope is there?

      In the US – I quoted gas and nuclear costs. He declared that nuclear must be lower cost being of the 5 plants being build. There are actually 2 – and these commenced following government regulation. That won’t fly so he confuses the issue more with Australia. We don’t have cheap gas – most of our electricity is coal fired.

      The levelised cost for coal and nuclear in the US is about the same. Similar here I would suppose. Have to go.

    • Projection is a terrible affliction. The rest is merely obfuscation and distraction.

      Exactly. You are describing what you do. That’s why I’ve given up trying to converse with you. Now, I just write to refute your misrepresentations, and reveal your dishonesty.

      He is right that I don’t read links to anything he has written. If he can’t get the basics right on anything – what hope is there?

      If won’t open links I’ve attached to explain details that are too long to put in a comment, it’s not surprising you don’t understand. And, I acknowledge I can’t be bothered trying to explain to you any more because you don’t want to know, you misrepresent frequently (I’d say it is so blatant it could be called lying), and you have no compunction about arguing black is white.

      The levelised cost for coal and nuclear in the US is about the same. Similar here I would suppose.

      Gee, that’s rigorous! And irrelevant to the point I’ve been making all along.

      Have to go.

      Don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out.

    • New reactor construction starts in USA

      Construction has started on Vogtle unit 4 in Georgia, the second of two new Westinghouse AP1000 reactors on the site. Construction of Southern Nuclear’s first unit started in March. This makes five new nuclear plants under construction in the USA, total over 6 GWe gross. A federal loan guarantee for the two Vogtle units is expected to be finalized in December.
      WNN 22/11/13. US Nuclear power

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/WNA/Publications/Weekly-Digest/Latest-Updates/

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I started with a simple statement – based on 2013 EIA levelised costs – that nuclear is almost twice as expensive Watt for Watt than gas. Gas is the obvious choice for America over the next decades. So I obviously signed up for another trip down the rabbit hole with Lang.

      The economics are obvious – and whatever impetus to construction there is is based on load guarantees. But of course plants are shutting down faster than they are being built. Lang’s problem is that he rejects reality and substitutes his own.

      Why would I would waste more of my time on his nonsense?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      … loan guarantees…

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Nuclear is not ‘almost twice the cost of gas’, in the USA. If it was, they wouldn’t be building six nuclear power plants in the USA. Clearly the investors believe they are viable, or they would not be continuing with them.

      ‘The Energy Policy Act 2005 then provided a much-needed stimulus for investment in electricity infrastructure including nuclear power. New reactor construction got under way from about 2012, with first concrete on two units in March 2013.’

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-T-Z/USA–Nuclear-Power/

      Should we have another pedantic quibble? About how many plants are under construction this time? It seems a preoccupation with trivialities rather than any serious understanding of the economics.

    • What’s all this pedantic quibble you are going on with now, idiot (a term you use frequently for those who dare to show you up for what you are)?

      And lookie at this:

      that nuclear is almost twice as expensive Watt for Watt than gas.

      Which demonstrates clearly you don’t have much of a clue what you are talking about. Anyone who had even the most basic understanding of the electricity industry wouldn’t make such a fundamental error. This should demonstrate to most people who know anything about the subject what a BS artist you are.

      As you said (projecting) and I’ve corrected for you:

      I swear [you are] like a dog with a bone, obsessive and compulsive.

      And what happened to:

      Bye Lang – can’t say that the experience has been enlightening or entertaining.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Levelized cost is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating levelized costs include overnight capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type.’ http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

      The key is the cost to supply electricity to the grid with various technologies. The key to your predicament is to stop digging.

      • Are you going to keep repeating the same quotes over an over again even though I’ve told you that you don’t understand what you are reading, and it is irrelevant to the point I’ve been making anyway?

        Instead of continually repeating the same misunderstandings and quoting the same stuff you have no knowledge about and being repeatedly refuted, you’d think you’d have enough sense to ask questions instead – and read the references and previous material I provided in response on previous threads. But, as we know, your enormous ego and inability to ever admit you are yapping on subjects outside your area of knowledge, and your inability to ever admit when you are wrong, prevents you asking.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Twice in response to the endless circularity – and you have offered nothing that is at all that relates to this 2013 data from the EIA.

      Merely that it is irrelevant along with lots of narrative arm waving and abuse.

      Tell me again what your point is? Nuclear is not more expensive than gas in the US? Yeah we got it. It is still not a rational position as you have admitted. In fact you simultaneously have hold 2 contradictory idea. Nuclear is more expensive because of regulatory impositions – which can be addressed over decades. A dubious proposition at best. And that nuclear is cheaper because otherwise why would people invest in the development of any new plant. The answer to the latter is loan guarantees.

      But congrats on your intellectual flexibility.

    • Chief is stuck like a broken record, continually repeating his same beliefs and obfuscating, misrepresenting and avoiding the point of debate.

      I’ve explained many times that he doesn’t understand what he’s talking about in the economics. I explained why. I provided links. He’s admitted he didn’t read them. But he kept repeating his beliefs. There is no point me going through the effort to try to explain to him when he won’t listen, obfuscates, misrepresents what I’ve said, avoids the central issue,

      Chief asked:

      Why would I would waste more of my time on his nonsense?

      He’s now said three times he’s going to let it go, but he can’t because, in his own words, he

      is like a dog with a bone, obsessive and compulsive.

      He just can’t let it go.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Provide some actual and factual technical data on levelised costs equivalent to the 2013 EIA data or give it up Lang.

      This morass of interpersonal abuse you enter into is utterly pointless. An utter waste of bandwidth. Water off a duck’s back. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

      Try explaining how you hold two contradictory notions at the same time. That should be interesting. Until then I will go back to ignoring you.

      • Try explaining how you hold two contradictory notions at the same time.

        I don’t. You misrepresented what I said. You’ve done it so frequenty, even after I’ve corrected you continually, it demonstrates you lack intellectual integrity.

        I look forwards to you ignoring me.

  40. Hi Judith, tried twice to make a comment but it hasn’t appeared (once just now, once at about 7.20pm on 8th). I presume it is in the spam bin, any chance you can lift it out? Thanks, Andy.

    • Hi Andy, apologies for this, but spam is so heavy i only look at the first page and then just delete the whole lot (i do this several times a day), so it might have gotten deleted.

  41. Wagathon | December 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm | “Water Vapor accounts for 95% of all greenhouse gases. ”
    Water vapor ALSO reduces the lapse rate by approximately 33%, thus LOWERING the surface temperature.

  42. Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

    Just in case Tamsin do not post my comment on his blog:
    “The All Parliamentary Party Climate Change Group (APPCCG) before dealing about “Communicating Risk and Uncertainty around Climate Change”, should read my document “Refuting IPCC’s claims on climate change” located at:

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4r_7eooq1u2VHpYemRBV3FQRjA

    Over there, they can check that at present, the climatic risk is only in the imagination of certain “scientists”. And that the uncertainty, at least during the next centuries, is all what climatologist will get from a honest climatic change study.”

  43. Tomas Milanovic

    In particular we do even lack ordering between QFT and General Relativity.

    This is not true Pekka.

    QM is clearly a fundamental feature of the Universe because there is so far not a single phenomenon (gravity included) that would not obey QM.
    On the other hand GR (General Relativity) is merely a geometrical interpretation of the gravity and as such it is an approximation of the quantum gravity for weak fields. When the gravity field grows large and space curvatures tend to infinity (e.g black holes and singularities) GR fails.
    As the main problem of quantum gravity is its non renormalisability, it is generally considered that the right quantum gravity theory is the string theory which obeys perfectly QM, is renormalisable and reduces to GR for weak fields.
    Of course a disclaimer: I studied QFT but have no expertise and only a superficial knowledge of string theory which doesn’t go beyond the fundamentals. That’s why I won’t comment on the different versions of string theory and their advantages and disadvantages.
    However in any case and related to the discussion here (e.g classification and ordering of physical theories), the HEP physicists and string theorists lack no ordering and understand perfectly the relationships between QM and GR.
    That it s hard for the general public to understand it too is caused by the difficulty to follow the mathematical arguments necessary to understand quantum gravity which manifests itself only at energy and space scales that are totally beyond everyday’s experience.

    • Tomas,

      This time I may have chosen a more formal interpretation. I agree on the extent of success, but give some more value for the General Relativity. I may also give some more weight on the significance of the remaining problems of quantum field theory of gravity.

    • T’ain’t settled, tis it?
      =======

  44. Scientists have such an inflated sense of their own superiority, that they seriously have discussions about how to communicate things like uncertainty and ignorance to the “plebs.”

    Any average punter who has ever bet on a horse race or a football game understands these concepts. What’s more, an awful lot of them understand odds as well.

    On Melbourne Cup day in Australia, a huge chunk of the population places a bet or three, and/or participates in the office sweepstakes. Dedicated punters study a thing that scientists may never have heard of called the form guide. It is the racing equivalent of reviewing research.

    The idea that predictions are never perfect is well understood in the general population. Why some scientists think that this is an incredibly difficult concept that is hard to explain to the general public is a mystery to me.

    P.S. – Judith, if you are reading, I have sent you an email titled “You go, girl!”
    :)

  45. ” This unfortunate linear thinking, motivated and institutionalized by the UNFCCC/IPCC, has led climate communication efforts in the direction of propaganda, which gives rise to public skepticism and loss of trust.” – JC

    Another evidence free assertion.

    • Well someone who is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on the history of the IPCC tweeted me that he found that statement insightful.

    • Maybe he meant inciteful…

    • David Springer

      Maybe you meant “free evidence assertion”.

    • Dr. Curry ==> Don’t let Michael needle you….if he hasn’t seen the propaganda-side of CliSci communication, he must be wearing ideological blinders. (Or maybe one of those “bubble filter” thingies…)

    • My impression is that the way climate change communication has been done by many has, indeed, contributed to the distrust, but I’m much less certain on the significance of UNFCCC or IPCC in that. The same people might very well have communicated in a similar way without either organization, and at least without IPCC.

      Another question is, how long it would have taken before other approaches would have been even as influential as the present one. Given enough time other approaches may be more effective, and my own view is that they would be, but “enough” may then refer to a rather long time.

      The controversy is not due to the existence of some organizations, it’s a more fundamental outcome of differences in values. People, who don’t like the message of main stream climate science, blame IPCC for the message, but the problem is not in the messenger.

    • Thnaks Kip,

      I apologise to all the ‘skeptics’ for having to temerity to suggest that evidence is a useful thing.

    • And who’s even heard of the UNFCCC??

      Judith might be obsessed by it, but it’s a non-issue.

    • > This unfortunate linear thinking, motivated and institutionalized by the UNFCCC/IPCC, has led climate communication efforts in the direction of propaganda, which gives rise to public skepticism and loss of trust.

      Perhaps, but Ruth’s claim was technically correct.

    • Pekka –

      My impression is that the way climate change communication has been done by many has, indeed, contributed to the distrust,..

      Contributed to the distrust among whom? Among those who were already firmly locked in a perspective of distrust? Maybe. Or maybe they have only filtered through evidence so as to confirm their biases?

      Contributed to a distrust among people like you? Well, as I have said, I view your opinions as a good touchstone for trying to establish a balanced view. But surely you must know that you are an extreme outlier on this issue. As much as we might benefit if there were others who had as informed and thoughtful opinions as you in this debate – surely you know that there only a relative handful.

    • Joshua,

      Many other people have expressed similar views. We all may belong to a small minority, it’s really difficult to tell for sure.

      One factor that affects my impression is that I live in Europe. The situation concerning climate attitudes and climate policies is very different in most of EU as compared with what we can observe in U.S.

      My views are affected strongly also on what I have observed on other issues where experts try to convince wider public that their views are based on best available knowledge. Trying to do that aggressively seems to backfire, and reduce the trust in their honesty and objectiveness.

      One important step in attempts to gain acceptance is to convince first people whose own education makes them capable of judging the arguments – or at least makes them believe that they can judge the arguments. Making weakly supported claims may alienate these people. The same is true when predictions are made and turn out to be wrong even if that occurs within the stated uncertainties.

      A fundamental problem with the climate change is that the changes are slow, they are too slow to produce direct confirmation at a rate that would naturally support the message. That has led often to statements linking certain weather phenomena to climate change, but this approach is in trouble when the weather turns out to be cold or in some other way contrary to the claims.

      Many scientists, including economists like Nordhaus and Tol consider it possible, and perhaps even likely, that the overall impact of climate change is beneficial for one or two further decades. Maintaining the trust in the message, if that’s correct, is difficult. Predicting near term problems may be the worst thing to do under those conditions.

      No approach makes it easy to convince people that they should be deeply worried about a change that’s unobservable or beneficial for a decade or two. I give best changes for a fully open approach that does not claim more than can be fully supported, even if the message appears too weak to alarm immediately.

    • Perhaps I should add that I have seen also many studies on how people react in various situations, but I haven’t seen anything that would make me believe that the studies can tell objectively, how people, as a group, react on time scale of several years or a decade. On that each of us is left with believing own impressions or picking someone whose subjective views are taken as the most trustworthy.

      Repeated opinion surveys tell on the changes in opinions (real or distorted by problems of surveying). Too many things do, however, change between surveys to allow for concluding, what has been most influential. Asking what people consider as most influential factors is also error prone.

    • Pekka –

      I’m trying to figure out how we might advance this discussion beyond where we’ve been before with it. I don’t want to just repeat the same discussion, but I don’t know how to get past certain obstacles:

      My views are affected strongly also on what I have observed on other issues where experts try to convince wider public that their views are based on best available knowledge.

      At least in the US, climate change is a highly politicized issue. Politicization seems to largely constrain where people go with the issue, and so I think if you’re going to compare to other issues, it would need to be with other issues that are similarly politicized – otherwise you’re comparing apples to oranges, IMO.

      Trying to do that aggressively seems to backfire, and reduce the trust in their honesty and objectiveness.

      I completely get the logic here – but I have yet to see supporting data. The most compelling data that I’ve seen is that on issues like climate change, information is used by those who are already “motivated” (in the sense of motivated reasoning) to confirm their views. That runs in both directions. For example, we can find evidence that something like climategate, while it putatively increased “skepticism” among those who have a libertarian or conservative bent (I’m not actually sure I think that’s true), the flip side is that it had an opposite affect on those who leaned in the other direction w/r/t the potential risks of ACO2 emissions.

      One important step in attempts to gain acceptance is to convince first people whose own education makes them capable of judging the arguments – or at least makes them believe that they can judge the arguments.

      It seems that there may be a statistically insignificantly greater scientific literacy among “skeptics,” but is what is more compelling is the trend whereby people who are more knowledgeable are more likely to be polarized. Again, while I get your logic, I think that there is no compelling argument there that is based on evidence.

      Making weakly supported claims may alienate these people. The same is true when predictions are made and turn out to be wrong even if that occurs within the stated uncertainties.

      Sure – it may, but how many would that be true for, and how would it compare to other influences. The data I’ve seen show that it is likely that factors such as the state of the economy, or short-term weather phenomena going in either direction, are what is likely to affect opinion (on a short term time scale) more than what you are calling “weakly supported claims.” Again, I think that you are projecting your logical conjecture onto a real world situation in a way that doesn’t seem to conform to the evidence. The fact is that most members of the public do not even know the details of what climate scientists do or don’t say.

      Predicting near term problems may be the worst thing to do under those conditions.

      That may be true going forward – but I look at that in the context that I often see claims that it has already proven to be the case, claims made without evidence.

      No approach makes it easy to convince people that they should be deeply worried about a change that’s unobservable or beneficial for a decade or two. I give best changes for a fully open approach that does not claim more than can be fully supported, even if the message appears too weak to alarm immediately.

      There are fairly well-proven patterns w/r/t how people generally approach risk. Perhaps a fully open approach would have the most synergistic overlap with those patterns. Regardless, I think that a fully open approach is more consistent with what I find to be a convincing approach to scientific analysis, and what sits most comfortable with me as a matter of personal perspective. But once again, I think that there is a great deal of evidence that the impact of factors such as the short-term economy, short-term weather phenomena, and political influence are far more explanatory for the attribute and variations we see in public views on climate change.

      So while I get your argument as a theoretical construct, and don’t doubt that it may very well apply for some people – I don’t see it as a particularly good fit with the available evidence w/r/t the larger public.

      Hmmm. I don’t think that I have advance the discussion.

    • Steven Mosher

      pekka

      “One factor that affects my impression is that I live in Europe. ”

      strangely my leftist friends in Europe cannot understand why skeptics in the US tend to be right wing folks. And here my right wing friends cannot fathom why I believe in AGW. Neither do they understand why my wacko leftist co author is critical of climate science.

      Of course people who cannot discuss the science try to reframe it into a political discussion as if that arena will somehow give one insight that can help to decide the scientific issue. These types are worst of lot.

    • Judith

      I agree with you and disagree with Michael on that one.

      UNFCCC has set the pace for IPCC, leading to the forced consensus process and the agenda driven “science”, which it encourages.

      Anyone who denies this either isn’t paying good attention or has been bamboozled by the consensus folks.

      Max

    • > Well someone who is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on the history of the IPCC tweeted me that he found that statement [linear thinking &c.] insightful.

      Then he might be interested in

      from which this linear thinking stuff comes from.

    • Steven,

      What’s left and what’s right has changed very much in European politics. Green parties are mostly not very large but often indirectly quite influential, and often the only parties that have a strong ideological emphasis. Many of green parties cannot be put on the traditional axis between left and right. Some members of green parties have even extreme left views and de-growth ideologies, while others are liberals in both meanings of the word.

      Climate issue is quite naturally an area where greens are more uniform, but their views have been accepted also by a sizable fraction of supporters and representatives of other parties. That’s obvious on the EU level.

      Attitudes that emphasize economics more than environment, and also see them in part in conflict, are probably as common in the traditional left as they are in the right.

      Populist movements that get support often from people who supported earlier traditional left (or were politically inactive) are perhaps most likely to be skeptic on climate policies.

      I’m not sure, whether others in Europe agree on what I write above, but that’s very briefly my impression.

    • Pekka –

      W/r/t your 1:39 post – there I agree. What I find interesting is when Judith and my much beloved “skeptics” claim insight into the causality despite the problematic nature of the evidence.

      Almost enough to make one question just how skeptical they really are.

    • Steven Mosher

      ‘from which this linear thinking stuff comes from.”

      huh.

    • Pekka, just what exactly do you think is the message(s)?

      All I want to know is:-
      1) what is the relationship between ground temperature and Atmospheric CO2?
      2) what are the upper and lower temperature bounds for human civilization to flourish?
      3) what is the relationship between the levels of CO2 into the atmosphere and its partitioning into the various reservoirs?

      As it is I have no idea what the answers to these three questions are.

    • > huh.

      Imagine you are a climate scientist, and you get a call from a politician asking whether she should support a proposal to impose mandatory caps on carbon-dioxide emissions. Lucky you! Should you urge support of the proposal? Or should you restrict yourself to explaining recent developments in climate science? Should you offer to answer any specific questions the politician might have about climate science? Or should you try to broaden her thinking a bit and explain the merits not only of the proposed regulation but also several alternative options? A difficult choice, to be sure. Worse yet, as Roger S. Pielke, Jr., argues in his cogent book The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics, many scientists are not aware they have a choice. Like the politicians they advise, many scientists assume a ‘‘linear model’’ of science and politics, according to which science advice precedes and compels political decisions. First let scientists get the facts straight, the linear models says, then require politicians to implement them. The important contribution of this engaging book is to show scientists and policymakers how and why to go beyond the linear model of science advice.

      http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/publications/special/honest_broker/minerva_review.pdf

      Most obliged.

    • Doc,

      You ask difficult questions

      1) what is the relationship between ground temperature and Atmospheric CO2?

      This is the easiest one as this has been studied so much. Even so the answer is very imprecise. My favorite answer is that TCR is most likely about 2C, and very likely between 1C and 3C.

      2) what are the upper and lower temperature bounds for human civilization to flourish?

      We know that the limits are wide. Warming and changes in precipitation would make some of the presently populated places less suitable, and some others even better than now. That’s true even for large increases in temperature. The losses depend both on the total amount of warming and on its rate, perhaps even more on the rate. Based on some reasonable looking estimates warming by 4 degrees in a century might be pretty bad.

      3) what is the relationship between the levels of CO2 into the atmosphere and its partitioning into the various reservoirs?

      That depends very much on the time span. We know that under the present conditions (controlled primarily by the emission history) the removal from atmosphere is about half of the releases. Most of that half goes first to the upper layers of the ocean, and some to continental areas (vegetation and soil). AR5 presents estimates telling that about 40% of added carbon is removed in 20 years and 60% in 100 years, but removing half of what’s left after 100 years would take more than 1000 years. These numbers are for a sudden 100 GtC addition or roughly a quarter of historical releases up to now. For a ten times larger release the removal would not be much slower but still larger releases the oceans would not any more remove carbon as efficiently.

      Most of the carbon would go to deep ocean at that time scale, sedimentation would dominate only over still longer periods.

      The main tool in making the above estimates is an ocean circulation model. The main reference is Joos, F., et al., 2013: Carbon dioxide and climate impulse response functions for the computation of greenhouse gas metrics: a multi-model analysis. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13, 2793-2825.

      ====

      My own views are similar to those presented by Nordhaus in his new book. The most significant risks are, unfortunately, among those most difficult to quantify, including ocean acidification, enhanced positive feedbacks (if not full tipping points) and related sea level rise, and major changes in precipitation as well as serious ecological damages including extinction of a large number of species due to the rate of change in climate.

      Nordhaus lists also hurricanes in his list, I’m perhaps not as worried about that, but then he lives in area that has been hit by hurricanes before, while I’m far from those areas. That may have a psychological influence that affects the attitudes.

    • 3) what is the relationship between the levels of CO2 into the atmosphere and its partitioning into the various reservoirs?

      Difficult problem as no GCM can explain the transfers (redistribution) or account for the carbon cycling.

      Changes to flow dynamics in the SO such as negative feedbacks to antarctic sea ice, can have a large effect on the global metrics
      eg.Stephens and Keeling.

      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v404/n6774/abs/404171a0.html

    • Pekka, this picture shows modern Ercolano on the slope of Vesuvius and the circled area is Herculaneum. You can be sure that all the adults who live there have visited the ancient city and looked at the plaster casts of the Romans and slaves, encased in volcanic dust.

    • @PP: My favorite answer is that TCR is most likely about 2C, and very likely between 1C and 3C.

      At an AGU session this morning on feedbacks, I’d say the collective σ (standard deviation) of the 8 speakers seemed about the same as yours but their μ (mean) seemed about a degree higher.

      What’s the basis for your confidence in your μ?

    • Sorry, Pekka, ignore that. I was forgetting they were looking at ECS, not TCR.

  46. And who’s even heard of the UNFCCC??

    Judith might be obsessed by it, but it’s a non-issue.

  47. “This is a good article, read the whole thing. [...] Read the comments at Tamsin’s blog, superb discussion”

    I don’t see anything of value there. When I see people dwelling on stuff like that it just underscores the already-clear impression that they aren’t serious. We can spend our time far more productively — That’s the way to build trust. (Wake up call: Showing an interest in politics undermines trust.) I suppose it’s just human nature to look for an easy way out — i.e. welcome easy distractions to avoid serious, challenging work.

    It will be interesting to see what happens if/when people decide its time to buckle down and get serious.

    • “I don’t see anything of value there. When I see people dwelling on stuff like that it just underscores the already-clear impression that they aren’t serious. ”

      It’s superficial, if not trivial.

    • There has to be some way to get these people to be serious.

  48. The pre First Order Draft of AR5 shows exactly how uncertainties are handled by IPCC. Early you say something reasonable, like on page 5:

    “Many aspects of the climate system are not yet well understood and quantified, such as the likelihood of a large, rapid release of methane from hydrates in the seabed. Furthermore, many variable factors determine the relationship between radiative forcing and climate changes, between climate changes and socioeconomic outcomes, and between policies and socioeconomic outcomes. These introduce complex interacting sources of uncertainty, many of which may never be quantified. Differing and even contradictory evaluations of risk can result, leading to a range of assessments by policy makers.”

    Then the rest of the document repeats with varying degrees of certainty, all of the global warming doctrine, as though nothing had been learned since Hansen’s Senate testimony.

  49. I am somebody who is slowly leaving the skeptic’s camp, but who was kept there for years by the obviously obviously wrong but seemingly useful propaganda pushed by commenters for “the cause.” Case in point, polar bears, they have survived much warmer temps in the arctic and undoubtedly ice free conditions for extended periods of time during the Eemian.

    The Hockey Stick. Give it up. It doesn’t pass the smell test and you are just forcing STEM majors among the general population to suspect you are full of crap on other things.

    What I finally realized is that the case of AGW does not depend on idiototarian would be propagandists who clog climate web sites trying to act as mind guards.

    • True, the case of AGW depends entirely on what believers bring to the table. It’s a Western sickness to which the rest of the world, living in places like Brazil, Russia, India and China are immune –i.e., Hot World Syndrome — fear of a hotter, more intimidating world than it actually is prompting a desire for more protection than is warranted by any actual threat.

    • Tim, I am curious as to your slow departure from the skeptics camp. I went from a lukewarmer to skeptic after diving deep into the CO2 sensitivity literature. It is very clear to me that CO2, an important but minor GHG, is not the control knob. What in the literature is driving you the other way, if I may ask?

    • What is driving me away is the reality that we can’t know what is happening. Doesn’t mean I am ready to sign up on the alarmists bandwagon for global economic justice, whatever that is. I just am not as certain as I was that we didn’t need to do anything. This has made me a vocal supporter of fracking, for example, and changed the way I look at recycling aluminum but am I ready to live with my neighbors in a collective yurt to “save the planet”? No.

    • Thanks Tim. Your position, although different than mine, seems perfectly logical.

  50. The scientific method applied by the Left to AGW theory:

    “White wings of tumult. Running jump into the infinite.” (Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch)

  51. Lessons — most important:

    1. The vast majority of scientific studies are flawed.
    2. Scientists don’t check for flaws in studies.
    3. The scientific establishment has no quality control.

    Therefore — anyone relying on consensus science is an fool.

  52. Rewording1 attempt to avoid obliteration filter…

    JC: “Now all of this sort of seems to be common sense, no? Approach the issue of communicating climate science to the public in context of uncertainty and risk, with honesty and a dose of humility, and all will be well, no?

    So why is there such a perception of a ‘communication problem’ surrounding climate science among climate scientists and scientific organizations? It is because they expect their science to be translated into the ‘obvious’ policy prescriptions that they believe obviously follows from their science. This unfortunate linear thinking, motivated and institutionalized by the UNFCCC/IPCC, has led climate communication efforts in the direction of propaganda, which gives rise to public skepticism and loss of trust.”

    Indeed it would seem like common sense. But this comment misses an important point, which in my experience is very rare for JC. To say the communication needs to be honest is to imply that it is to some significant extent *not* honest right now. Yet while there is some amount of dishonesty in any large human enterprise, the main problem here is that most folks supporting the ‘C’ in CAGW, whether scientists or not, are supporting it with both honesty and honest passion to boot. There is not systemic dishonesty on a scale that could explain such an enormous divergence from reality or the true scientific method, inclusive of the trillions diverted to a vain fight. Indeed getting Consensus folks to see past their (honest) passions and worry and belief is a far bigger challenge than any easily unravelled lies. The very fact of the Consensus focussing on a ‘communication problem’ is a highly likely validation of this; folks who truly and deeply believe in something *have* to assume a communication problem if they are presented by the enigma of those who seem not to grasp the obvious. They cannot comprehend how else unbelief can have arisen. If the former were merely lying, they would choose much more subtle policies to forward their agenda, not simply harp on and on about a ‘communciation problem’. So the “‘obvious’ policy prescriptions” are not the root cause for the “perception of a ‘communication problem'”; these are merely the follow-on, though I agree the IPCC has institutionalised linear thinking and consensus culture, practically *is* consensus culture. Yet from their own perspective, the Consensus *are* being honest, and in seeking to solve the ‘communication problem’ they are also seeking to convey their honest beliefs in a manner that they hope will be better understood, albeit via the flawed ‘I must shout louder they don’t get it’.

    Although the JC statement about honesty and humility is very reasonable and reasonably stated, it is unfortunately at the very thin end of the wedge of ascribing the problem to a hoax or a conspiracy, or maybe a delusion (seeming dishonest but via a different route); what else ultimately could the co-ordinated dishonesty over such a large enterprise be? (‘the problem’ being the massive event of climate orthodoxy going completely off the rails). A valid explanation for this problem should not invoke large-scale co-ordinated dishonesty or delusion, these are highly unlikely if not downright impossible. CAGW adherents are on average no more dishonest or impaired than than any sizeable section of the population.

    The situation is not easy to perceive unless one includes all the players. The Consensus is just people, mostly honest. Likewise sceptics. A third player, albeit extremely primitive, is the narrative of CAGW itself. Propaganda is merely the most aggressive part of that narrative. If one adopts the view that the CAGW phenomenon was *always* about narrative, and the real properties / effects of CO2 merely a trigger which started that narrative, then ever more communication and indeed propaganda (i.e. more and more aggressive narrative) is an expectation. This view is plausible as long as there was sufficient uncertainty from the start about the effects of CO2 on the real climate system for a) alarmist narratives to have some believability, and b) for passive narratives – e.g. it’ll have diddly squat effect – not to be provable. It seems to me that there always was, and still is, the kind of major uncertainty that would allow these. For root-cause explanations, we must look to social process, not scapegoats.

    Harold H Doiron and Manacker point out above that the key uncertainty of climate sensitivity has not been narrowed in 30 years, and there was no real intention of narrowing it. I agree and in one sense I would go still further, to say there has even been a kind of intent to obscure it, yet that ‘intent’ does not belong to the IPCC per se or indeed to particular scientists, but to the narrative itself (which is certaintly *not* sentient nor even agential, yet by virtue of evolved states across populations and years has algorithmic social influence, which manifests via mechanisms such as the oft here discussed noble cause corruption, motivated reasoning, confirmation bias).

    • good grief, the spam filter really seems to have it in for you

    • curryja | December 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
      Thanks for rescuing this Judith :)

    • Andy, by your musings I am certain you paid little attention to the Climategate emails.

    • Andy West, well said. I believe when JC says the consensus is not honest it is a complaint about the level of certainty that she thinks they can’t have, but that they in fact honestly have. I think she would prefer it if they say that there is not enough certainty in AGW for any policy to be decided at this stage, including any step towards fossil fuel reductions.

    • Bob | December 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm |

      Hi Bob. I’m afraid you’re wrong. I watched the unfolding of the Climategate events in real time on the various blogs, plus have read many of the emails since. As noted above, there is a certain amount of dishonesty in any large human enterprise. But what struck me as a far larger feature, and hence much more important, was ‘belief’. An honestly held belief.

    • Jim D | December 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

      I would also prefer it if they said that. But yes indeed, their certainty is honestly held.

    • White lies are used everywhere. They form a necessary part of communication. One question is, when a lie ceases to be white enough to be fully acceptable, another is whether a white lie works as intended.

      Both questions have plagued communication by climate scientists as well. From real white lie some scientists have moved to something that appeared to be personally more convenient (climategate emalis tell on that). Badly thought of white lies have also offered ammunition to the opponents even in cases, where they were not tainted when originally stated.

  53. Pingback: Communicating Uncertainty | And Then There's Physics

  54. “8. There are many types of climate sceptics”.

    Of course there are – but is there only one type of climate scientist? Is Lindzen the same type as Mann, Curry the same as Trenberth, Christy the same as Santer, Pielke the same as Hansen? Or do some of those count as “skeptics” or even “deniers” and are therefore not members of the “community” (or maybe “realclimate scientists”)?

    It is neither logical nor plausible.

    I suppose it’s the “consensus”, the “all scientists agree”, which was in place already before the first IPCC report, as remarked by Lindzen at the time, the consensus was in place even before anyone knew what the consensus was about.

    So while skeptics are now recognized as independent thinkers, (main stream) climatologists are not. They are packaged together in a straitjacket called “consensus”.

    Thank you for trying to free them, Dr. Curry. :-)

    • @Bebben: Of course there are [many types of climate sceptics] – but is there only one type of climate scientist? Is Lindzen the same type as Mann, Curry the same as Trenberth, Christy the same as Santer, Pielke the same as Hansen?

      +1

      The pattern is clear. There is not one but two types of climate scientists.

    • David Springer

      Presumably the two types are 1) possibly right and 2) definitely wrong.

      The latter category can be recognized by having said at one time or another “CO2 is the climate control knob” with a straight face.

  55. (main stream) climatologists are…packaged together in a straitjacket called “consensus”

    +100

    Yes. And that “:straitjacket” was created by UNFCCC at the inception of IPCC.

    See Wiki:

    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) is an international environmental treaty negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. The objective of the treaty is to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.

    Can our hostess free them?

    Can they even be freed as long as IPCC exists under UNFCCC?

    Max

  56. More generally:

    • As I am not married to Caesar I don’t need to have everyone know I am virtuous, I just have to be virtuous.
      Atheist evangelicals are just a prissy as other religious evangelicals. Live the life, let others judge you and then emulate you; don’t come the ‘we are better than you crap.
      I know I a morally superior to almost everyone else; I am cyclist.

    • I love you too, Doc.

      Would have inversed the two titles: ten virtues for the modern age matter more than what manifest can promote an atheist, which I am not.

    • I know I a morally superior

      That doesn’t make sense. Do you mean you’re amorally superior, or did you mean to write “I am orally superior”?

    • David Springer

      You’re projecting, Vaughn. He meant to write “I know I am morally superior.”

    • Vaughan, it was a play on a Douglas Adams joke

      ‘He stepped out on to the street, where a passing eagle swooped out of the sky at him, nearly forcing him into the path of a cyclist, who cursed and swore at him from a moral high ground that cyclists alone seem able to inhabit.’ — Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

    • Doc Martyn, AS a cyclist, you are polluting the air with your CO2. Watch out for the US EPA. First they came for coal. We watched. Then they came for oil. We watched. Then the came for natural gas.

      Then they came for cyclists and no one was left to protest.
      Scott

  57. Chief asked:

    Tell me again what your point is?

    Why we should focus on removing the impediments that are preventing nuclear power from being a cheap energy source

    1. If we want to massively cut global CO2 emissions over the next half century, policies like Kyoto protocols and carbon pricing are unlikely to succeed.

    2. What is needed instead is cheap energy.

    3. Nuclear power is an effectively unlimited source of cheap, low CO2 emissions energy that is already proven (although not yet as cheap as it could and should be). Renewables are unlikely to be able to make much of a contribution to the world’s energy demand in the foreseeable future, if ever.

    4. To make nuclear cheaper we need to remove the impediments that have been placed on it as a result of 50 years of anti-nuclear propaganda which has caused widespread irrational fear of nuclear power. The USA is best placed to lead the way on removing the impediments (over time).

    5. If we remove the impediments, so that commercial competition can be unleashed, the price will come down sufficiently so that nuclear could replace coal (or most coal and some gas) for electricity generation by 2045. This act alone could reduce global emissions by 15 Gt/a below the projected 2045 emissions – that’s a 1/3 cut of projected CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

    6. The cut in emissions from allowing cheap nuclear power could be more than just 15 Gt/a. As electricity becomes cheap and high temperature nuclear reactor produce hydrogen, hydrocarbon transport fuels may also be produced.

    7. Breeder reactors will take decades to become commercially viable. They will come eventually, but it is not a near term solution. What is needed in the short term is to develop low-cost small modular nuclear power plants.

  58. Chief asked:

    Tell me again what your point is?

    Why we should focus on removing the impediments that are preventing nuclear power from being a cheap energy source

    1. If we want to massively cut global CO2 emissions over the next half century, policies like Kyoto protocols and carbon pricing are unlikely to succeed.

    2. What is needed instead is cheap energy.

    3. Nuclear power is an effectively unlimited source of cheap, low CO2 emissions energy that is already proven (although not yet as cheap as it could and should be). Renewables are unlikely to be able to make much of a contribution to the world’s energy demand in the foreseeable future, if ever.

    4. To make nuclear cheaper we need to remove the impediments that have been placed on it as a result of 50 years of anti-nuclear propaganda which has caused widespread irrational fear of nuclear power. The USA is best placed to lead the way on removing the impediments (over time).

    5. If we remove the impediments, so that commercial competition can be unleashed, the price will come down sufficiently so that nuclear could replace coal (or most coal and some gas) for electricity generation by 2045. This act alone could reduce global emissions by 15 Gt/a below the projected 2045 emissions – that’s a 1/3 cut of projected CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

    6. The cut in emissions from allowing cheap nuclear power could be more than just 15 Gt/a. As electricity becomes cheap and high temperature nuclear reactor produce hydrogen, hydrocarbon transport fuels may also be produced.

    7. Breeder reactors will take decades to become commercially viable. They will come eventually, but it is not a near term solution. What is needed in the short term is to develop low-cost small modular nuclear power plants.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Oh right – here we are again and again and again. Yes we have heard all this.

      The US would be hopelessly misguided to forgo cheap gas for nuclear power over the next few decades at least.

      But they are developing streamlined ‘generic’ approvals for advanced nuclear.

      There are dozens of potentially useful technologies for carbon mitigation. It is all horses for courses – with the decision coming down to pure economics hopefully. Riding a hobby horse to victory has very little chance of success – eggs and baskets sort of thing.

      Of course – I must be hopelessly anti-nuke. A cesspool of irrational fear.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Tell me again what your point is? Nuclear is not more expensive than gas in the US? Yeah we got it. It is still not a rational position as you have admitted. In fact you simultaneously have hold 2 contradictory idea. Nuclear is more expensive because of regulatory impositions – which can be addressed over decades. A dubious proposition at best. And that nuclear is cheaper because otherwise why would people invest in the development of any new plant. The answer to the latter is loan guarantees.

      But congrats on your intellectual flexibility.’

      The quote in context. If you want me to consistently ignore you stop floating dubious propositions.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Oh – and stop quoting me out of context.

    • ‘Tell me again what your point is? Nuclear is not more expensive than gas in the US? Yeah we got it.

      No I didn’t say that. You made that up. But the LCOE figures are irrelevant for the issue under discussion anyway, as I’ve said repeatedly. If you were genuinely interested in learning, instead of just having a fight, bullying and abusing me, you’d ask questions (without answering them for me by misrepresenting what I said).

      You’ve said at least five times you’re going to give up. You’ve said several times you are going to ignore me But you keep posting comments that misrepresent what I’ve said. So I will respond and point out your misrepresentations, point out that you are dishonest, point out your obfuscating avoiding the main issue, and point out that you project onto me what you do yourself.

      You said you are going to ignore me. Why don’t you? And why do you say you are going to then post more obnoxious comments with your continuing misrepresentation and dishonesty?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Nuclear is not ‘almost twice the cost of gas’, in the USA. If it was, they wouldn’t be building six nuclear power plants in the USA. Clearly the investors believe they are viable, or they would not be continuing with them.

      Yeah I guess I made it up.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson

      But then I guess Lang doesn’t suffer from consistency issues – merely that of tendentious obfuscation.

    • Nuclear is not ‘almost twice the cost of gas’, in the USA. If it was, they wouldn’t be building six nuclear power plants in the USA. Clearly the investors believe they are viable, or they would not be continuing with them.

      Yeah I guess I made it up.

      You certainly did make it up. You misrepresented what I said. You lied. You do it so frequently it is clear that you are habitually dishonest. Now go and compare what I said and what you said I said.

      I look forward to you apology. This will be interesting.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      LCOE figures are irrelevant for the issue under discussion anyway, as I’ve said repeatedly.

      And yet is there any rational reason to believe Lang rather the EIA?

      • It’s not a matter of believing me or the EIA. The EIA figures are correct. But they are not relevant to the point I’ve been making.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      It is more than time to refer your ongoing abuse again to Judith. There is little of any interest and much that is merely ranting and raving.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      This is what I said.

      Oh for God’s sake – if you are referring to me I made a comment on levelised costs of various generating technologies based on EIA data.

      http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

      Right now nuclear is nearly twice the cost of gas generation.

      Picking a fight, abusing him and lying obviously.

      The entertainment value in Lang is watching him swing in the wind.

    • It is more than time to refer your ongoing abuse again to Judith.

      Teacher, Teacher, he hit me back.

      Strange you see me as the guilty party and not yourself.

      Strange you keep misrepresenting me and object to me responding to correct the record.

      Strange you accuse me of making threats, but it is you that makes the threats. One example of you projecting.

      Strange you’ve said repeatedly you’d let it go, but have to keep going. Strange you said repeatedly you’d ignore me, but keep responding.

      By the way, it was amazing how pleasant the site was while you were away.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Levelized cost is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating levelized costs include overnight capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

      Yes – 3rd time. And yet it is irrelevant to comparing costs.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      No – I didn’t start anything or indeed contribute to the rank abuse.

      It is not appropriate in the new era of moderation. It detracts from serious and honest discourse. Lang objects to disagreement and this initiates a torrent of abuse and dissimulation.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Here comes springer again with not much of anything at all to contribute on an intellectual level.

      At the Great Western they ride real bulls – that’s right inside the pub next to the bar.

      That I ride bulls is poetic licence. Just watching someone hang onto by their fingernails of a ton of ornery muscle is terrifying.

      I just like to push his buttons occasionally – just as I do with you Jabberwock. See how big a hole he is willing to dig for himself.

      Like you – he always insists on the last word.

      Upset that I suggested you settle it like a real man at the Great Western.

    • No – I didn’t start anything or indeed contribute to the rank abuse.

      It is not appropriate in the new era of moderation. It detracts from serious and honest discourse. Lang objects to disagreement and this initiates a torrent of abuse and dissimulation.

      Oh yea? Here are some quotes (square brackets are mine]

      Oh for God’s sake

      I swear Peter Lang is like a dog with a bone, obsessive and compulsive.

      I have had enough – again. Lang is incapable of effective communication. He seems to only want to impose his rather dubious views with the usual threats, abuse and insults. It seems a typical response from the typical obsessive.
      He admits that nuclear is nearly twice as expensive as gas in the US [PL: I did not!]
      Bye Lang – can’t say that the experience has been enlightening or entertaining.

      with reasons Lang has given pedantically and at great length elsewhere.

      They don’t agree with Lang? They must be wrong as well as liars, fool and charlatans. [PL: I never implied any such thing]

      Lang claims I don’t understand plain English in these sources. It is a pathetic and ultimately very stupid sham argument.
      Say something that has some factual basis Lang or STFU.
      Projection is a terrible affliction. The rest is merely obfuscation and distraction.

      Lang’s problem is that he rejects reality and substitutes his own.
      Why would I would waste more of my time on his nonsense?
      Should we have another pedantic quibble? About how many plants are under construction this time? It seems a preoccupation with trivialities rather than any serious understanding of the economics.

      The key to your predicament is to stop digging.

      But congrats on your intellectual flexibility.

      This morass of interpersonal abuse you enter into is utterly pointless. An utter waste of bandwidth. Water off a duck’s back. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

      Until then I will go back to ignoring you.

      Oh right – here we are again and again and again. Yes we have heard all this.

      But congrats on your intellectual flexibility.’
      The quote in context. If you want me to consistently ignore you stop floating dubious propositions.
      But then I guess Lang doesn’t suffer from consistency issues – merely that of tendentious obfuscation.

      And yet is there any rational reason to believe Lang rather the EIA?

      It is more than time to refer your ongoing abuse again to Judith. There is little of any interest and much that is merely ranting and raving.

      The entertainment value in Lang is watching him swing in the wind.

    • David Springer

      Chief Hydrologist | December 10, 2013 at 5:57 am |

      “Here comes springer again with not much of anything at all to contribute on an intellectual level.”

      I was just trying to fit in with you and Lang.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      There is a qualitative difference colourful and descriptive language on my part and the rank abuse you indulge in.

      Do you really not understand this difference? Or are you really just trying to muddy the waters?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      You certainly did make it up. You misrepresented what I said. You lied. You do it so frequently it is clear that you are habitually dishonest.

      It is clear that Lang is a habitual bully.

    • David Springer

      Chief Hydrologist | December 10, 2013 at 5:57 am |

      “That I ride bulls is poetic licence. Just watching someone hang onto by their fingernails of a ton of ornery muscle is terrifying.”

      You terrify easily. My wife’s boss perennially pays for box seats at the Austin Rodeo which lasts for a week just for the free advertising that goes with it. The seats are front row about 20 in front of the bull pen gates. The seats mostly go unclaimed by relatives and employees so we go and take a few friends every year. The one night we most reliably attend is Extreme Bull Riding. All bull riding all night. We’re so close we get hit by flying clods of dirt kicked up by the bulls as they come out of the gate. Not even the girls are terrified by just watching it. I was there for this. The camera is looking over the tops of our heads in the lowest row in line with the bull as it comes out of the chute.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      When you get to the Great Western let me know and I’ll arrange for a bull. A little one. See how terrified you are then. That should be a hoot.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Oh God you are a wanker Jabberwock.

      I am 6 foot tall with strength developed through physical labouring on building sites in my early years, a tough upbringing in the slums of Sydney fighting for survival and 20 years of martial arts. Kykoshin Karate – a very tough contact school and not the namby pamby versions.

      As a result of my upbringing I essentially had 2 speeds – peace and love and kill. Martial arts is about controlling that with an inner discipline developed over a long time.

      The secret of a street fight is to avoid it at almost any cost or finish it within seconds.

      Is joking about it a challenge to your manhood? I’d get over it – waving a gun around is likely to see you incarcerated for a lengthy period in Australia where I’m sure you will make a good wife for someone.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The EIA costs plants coming on line in 2018. The point is that current costs of nuclear are nearly twice that of gas.

      Your prevarications grow more desperate Lang.

  59. This is what I said.

    Yes, clearly in response to my comments up thread, and a repeat of what you’ve said many times before in response to my comments. I’ve attempted to explain but you respond by continually misrepresenting what I’ve said and, as you admit, you won’t read any links I post. So, when you make comments that are apparently/clearly directed at contradicting what I’ve said and misrepresent what I’ve said (as you frequently do), I will respond to correct the record and correct anything that I see as misleading other readers (especially on a subject you know little about).

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Since the comment has been posted again, for about the umpteenth time, that nuclear is not competitive in the USA at the moment (yes, that is correct, nor would it be competitive in Australia at the moment), I’ll repost the comment I’ve posted before to explain that while nuclear is not competitive now, it is because of the impediments that have been imposed on it over the past 50 years.

      Yes it is correct but is irrelevant and at any rate and this can be turned around in decades by at least partial deregulation? The differential between gas and nuclear is so great that this would seem to be a very dubious proposition.

      I don’t read Lang’s fiction posted wherever. I am much more discriminatory in my choice of sources.

    • David Springer

      David Springer | December 9, 2013 at 10:57 am |

      Peter – how much does the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission force China to pay in regulatory burdens?

      Perhaps you missed the question, Peter. Can you answer it?

  60. Yes – 3rd time. And yet it is irrelevant to comparing costs.

    Gees, you’re boring. It is irrelevant to the central issue under debate. If you don;t understand why, why don’t you ask?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Peter – all I can say is that it is relevant. It is the basis for making informed comparisons of generation technologies.

      I suggest that you understand this – but would rather indulge in elaborate charades.

    • Peter – all I can say is that it is relevant.

      The EIAs LCOEs are not relevant for the case we are arguing about which is once the impediments blocking nuclear development have been removed and the cost of nuclear is reducing. That’s what the argument is about, not the case as it is now with the politically imposed impediments in place (which is what the EIA assumes is likely to continue).

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The 2013 EIA data costs plants coming on line in 2018. Long term assumptions about regulations are irrelevant.

  61. Chief Hydrologist

    I was just trying to fit in with you and Lang.

    Peer pressure is not a a justification nor is a snark a witticism.

    • David Springer

      Actually peer pressure is a justification dating back over a thousand years.

      si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sicut ibi

      Translation:

      If you were in Rome, live in the Roman way; if you are elsewhere, live as they do there.

      In the modern west this has been shortened to “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”.

  62. MODERATION NOTE: I have just deleted about 20 comments, and one person has landed in moderation. Stop your bickering and insults

  63. Chief Hydrologist

    Testing…testing…moderation?

  64. If Chief’s musings about his martial arts background is on-topic, what could possibly be off-topic?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      It was a response to a very over the top comment that has since disappeared – I don’t want to repeat it.

      I don’t mind if my comment disappears as well. If no one has noticed – I am deliberately eschewing bottom of the barrel insults. These are really just schoolyard level nonsense and responding to it just doesn’t work.

      There is a difference between this and colourful and forceful language used ironically, sardonically and without rancour. We really need emoticons back – used in their proper way to provide some emotional context and not simply plastered across the page.

    • Fan took his emoticons and went home. God rang the dinner bell.
      ===========

  65. The EIA costs plants coming on line in 2018. The point is that current costs of nuclear are nearly twice that of gas.

    That is irrelevant to the argument, ans I’ve explained repeatedly in previous comments. The reason it is irrelevant is the the EIA’s LCOE calculations are for 2018, not for the future after the impediments to nuclear have been removed, which is what the argument is about.

    Secondly, as I’ve stated several times in previous comments, the EIA’s LCOE calculation is correct for the assumptions it is based on but your interpretation of what those figures mean is a misunderstanding.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Lang – you have a habit of defining the argument in terms utterly irrelevant to my original simple comment about current costs – which was about current costs and why gas is the preferred investment in the US now and for the foreseeable future. This has nothing to do with costs in 20 years – which are dependent on technological innovation and market conditions that are not knowable.

      You have an idea that costs can be reduced over time by partial deregulation but have failed to show how a billion or so can be shaved off the cost of an installation in this way. I don’t believe it for a moment but am willing to wait and see.

      A better framework for government is to support the evolution of multiple technologies – not putting all eggs in one basket.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I don’t make assumptions about the EIA data. I merely quoted the costs/MWh for plants of different kinds coming on line in the next few years. This is not a difficult concept.

    • I merely quoted the costs/MWh for plants of different kinds coming on line in the next few years. This is not a difficult concept.

      It’s not a difficult concept once you understand what the figures mean. But you don’t. Since you have no experience in the industry and no understanding of the electricity industry, may I suggest to you that, Instead of continually repeating assertions, you’d learn more if you ask questions.

      The primary argument is about how to reduce global emissions (not just USA’s emissions) by a substantial amount at least cost over the next half century or so. I’ve argued that nuclear power needs to be a major component of achieving that. But to succeed, nuclear has to be allowed to be cheap. To achieve that we need to remove the impediments that are blocking the development of nuclear power. It’s that simple.

  66. Bob Ludwick,

    Thank you for the comment. I’ll post it in full as a reminder of what the main point being argued:

    @Peter Lang

    Exactly!

    In the US today, if the cost of building, fueling, and bringing a nuclear plant on line, labor and materials, were zero, we still couldn’t afford it and would have no chance of using it to power our toasters in our lifetimes, because the time to process the permits and the legal costs incurred in doing so are for all practical purpose infinite.

  67. Chief Hydrologist

    The EIAs LCOEs are not relevant for the case we are arguing about which is once the impediments blocking nuclear development have been removed and the cost of nuclear is reducing. That’s what the argument is about, not the case as it is now with the politically imposed impediments in place (which is what the EIA assumes is likely to continue).

    What the ‘argument’ is about is current costs influencing the choice of preferred generation technology over the next decades. You insist on arguing something at great length that is utterly irrelevant to my original comment on current costs. Redefine the discussion in your preferred terms if you want but don’t expect me to agree.

  68. No, The argument is not about costs over the next decade, sorry. That is not central to the argument about how to reduce global GHG emissions over the next half century or so.

  69. 5. Scientists have little training in public communication

    And absolutely f*** all in public honesty.
    To this day the profession as a whole is unrepentant about the Climategate issues.

  70. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup | Watts Up With That?

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