Rethinking climate advocacy

UPDATE:  twitter exchange with Gavin

by Judith Curry

The failures of climate advocacy – particularly in the US – are motivating reflection on responsible and effective advocacy.  Gavin Schmidt provides his thoughts on the topic of scientists and advocacy in his recent AGU talk.

So, what is the point of scientists advocating for climate change policy? This article in the Huffington Post should give scientist advocates cause for concern: Americans have little faith in scientists, science journalists: Poll.  Excerpts:

In a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, only 36 percent of Americans reported having “a lot” of trust that information they get from scientists is accurate and reliable. Fifty-one percent said they trust that information only a little, and another 6 percent said they don’t trust it at all.

A whopping 78 percent of Americans think that information reported in scientific studies is often (34 percent) or sometimes (44 percent) influenced by political ideology, compared to only 18 percent who said that happens rarely (15 percent) or never (3 percent).

Effective and accurate polling is a complex and challenging issue, and I have no way to interpret this survey in this context, but whatever the context these are pretty stunning numbers.

I have long stated that scientists advocating for public policy can lead to distrust of scientists and their scientific findings.  Some previous CE posts on this topic:

Gavin Schmidt

A new contribution to the discourse on scientist advocacy was made by Gavin Schmidt in theStephen H. Schneider Lecture at theannual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, titled “What should a climate scientist advocate for? The Intersection of Expertise and Values in a Politicized World.” . Its a thoughtful and well presented talk, reflecting a strong heritage from Steve Schneider.

Gavin’s money quote, IMO, is in response to Schneider’s ‘double ethical bind’ statement:

The ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently ind ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula.  Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.  I hope that means being both.

Gavin proposes the following amendment:

. . . because without honesty there is no possibility of being effective in a sustainable and responsible way.

Common sense, but it needs to be stated more often.

While this is a thoughtful presentation and some good points, I find a number of flaws in Gavin’s reasoning.

1.   A confusion about what advocacy actually is.  While Gavin gives lots of examples etc., he fails to recognize as advocacy this statement by Thomas Stocker at the end of the IPCC AR5 video:

Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future.  Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

He states that numerous people complained that this statement is advocacy including IPCC scientists.  Schmidt argues that it is not a normative statement, that is a factual statement.  Huh?

Even if you believe that CO2 is the dominant control knob on climate change on timescales of decades to centuries, how is it a ‘fact’ to state that this must be dealt with by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (rather than by adaption, carbon sequestration or geoengineering)?  And there is a missing element in this argument that warming is ‘bad’, which is a value judgment and has nothing to do with science.

This belief that CO2 mitigation follows logically from the science is part of what I have called the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology.

Gavin sees no difference between advocating for scientific integrity and public understanding of science, or for research funding, versus advocating for public policy related to a scientific finding.  There is a fundamental difference, which was laid out in these two posts:

As a further example of this confusion, Gavin went on to show a list of activities and asked audience members to raise their hands if they considered a given activity advocacy to avoid:

“Scientists should communicate more about what they do and find.”

“Funding for scientific research should be a higher priority.”

“People should understand the basics of the greenhouse effect.”

“Global warming should be in the high school science curriculum.”

“Geoengineering should be seriously considered.”

Gavin stated “All of these statements are normative” e.g. they are expressions of advocacy.   I beg to differ, there is a world of difference among these statements.  For the record, the only statement that I support is the first one: scientists communicating their research is part of their job description if they are employed by a university or govt agency or receive government funding. To declare this is not advocacy, to argue that scientists should focus on communication at the expense of other things is arguably advocacy.  The middle 3 are normative in the sense that they relate to science in general.  The last one is in a different category, whereby a specific scientific finding is used to advocate for public policy.

2.  Confusion about advocacy, Part II.  Gavin gives much play to Steve Schneider’s arguments  about values.  He gives the following guidelines for responsible advocacy:

  • What are your values? Represent them fairly.
  • Make connections between your policy choices and your values explicit. Then people can see what that chain of logic is and they can decide to go along with you or decide this is the point at which we part. That makes for a much better conversation.
  •  [Acknowledge] differences between one’s personal conclusions [and the scientific consensus].
  • Acknowledge that people with different values would have different policy choices even if the science was exactly the same and everybody accepted the science basis.
  • Be aware of how our values might affect our priors.

Well I don’t have any problems with these (I particularly like the last).  Gavin then states:

You can’t be a communicator and pretend that you have no values.  What instead you need to do is accept that. If you don’t explicitly say you’re advocating for x, y, or z people will just assume you’re advocating for a, b and c because you haven’t told them otherwise. And in a politicized environment, the default assumptions that people will make about you will not necessarily be very flattering.

I just don’t get what kind of ‘values’ Gavin is talking about, he never tells us what his values are (does anyone know where Gavin has declared his values?  He certainly didn’t do this explicitly  in the talk).  Are we to infer all that he is talking about is scientists valuing science, and of course a logical outcome of scientific truth is limiting greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. Stocker’s statement)?   Valuing science as opposed to primarily valuing religion  or economic development or personal wealth?  Political preference (after all this, I have no idea what Schneider’s or Gavin’s political preferences are)?.

If I state that I value health, happiness and prosperity for everyone, plus world peace, does this help in any way?

Gavin then states:

You can’t be a communicator and pretend that you have no values.  What instead you need to do is accept that. If you don’t explicitly say you’re advocating for x, y, or z people will just assume you’re advocating for a, b and c because you haven’t told them otherwise. And in a politicized environment, the default assumptions that people will make about you will not necessarily be very flattering.

No one pretends that they don’t have values, although scientists should strive to be as objective as possible. Here is an example of potential hidden values that are rather inconvenient, I suspect this is not what Gavin had in mind but these are why the public distrusts scientists as advocates:

  • personal career advancement
  • research funding
  • the value in terms of professional recognition (e.g. awards from professional societies) that supporting the scientific consensus can provide (recognizing the ostracism that con result from straying)
  • media attention
  • influence within the scientific community
  • influence at the power tables in terms public policy
  • broader political objectives that support any/all of the above

There is a value conflict if a scientist is willing to sacrifice the integrity of scientific research for any other conceivable value (Peter Gleick is the poster boy for this one).   Beyond this, I just don’t get the ‘value’ issue, esp since Gavin is not talking about the bulleted list above (which i think are the real issues in value conflicts for scientists).

3.  Naivete over scientism and the role of science in public policy.  Gavin closes with this statement from Nobel Laureate Sherwood Rowland:

What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?

The inference is that climate model predictions should be used to drive global energy policy.  This is the simple linear model of scientism, that has been resoundingly debunked particularly for a complex problem like climate change.

JC summary:  While Gavin’s talk is thoughtful and provides some good points, it is fundamentally flawed IMO by the naive believe in Stocker’s statement and that Stocker’s statement does not constitute advocacy.  This is stealth advocacy at its worse, stating that this is a ‘fact’ and not advocacy.  This belief in Stocker’s statement is so entrenched in the climate establishment (ideology) that they cannot even see this as advocacy.  As a result of the hidden values of scientists in promoting Stocker’s statement as fact, the public is losing trust in climate scientists.

And all this, for what?  Scientist involvement in climate policy advocacy doesn’t seem to be needed at this point (as per Amy Luers), and is arguably making things worse (not to mention damaging the integrity of science).  So I remain with Tamsin Edwards on this one: climate scientists should avoid advocacy related to public policy related to climate science research findings.  If you choose to advocate, here is a reminder of guidelines for responsible advocacy from the AAAS:

  • Limit science advocacy to your area(s) of expertise and be clear when you are presenting a personal opinion not based on your formal expertise or professional experience;
  • Present information clearly and avoid making exaggerated claims;
  • Be aware of any conflicts of interest – for example, financial interests that you or members of your family have or affiliations with advocacy organizations – and make them clear
  • Point out the weakness and limitations of your argument, including data that conflict with your recommendations;
  • Present all relevant scientific data, not just that which supports a particular policy outcome;
  • Be aware of the impact your advocacy can have on science; and
  • Make clear when you are speaking as an individual scientist as opposed to acting as a representative of a scientific organization

UPDATE: Twitter exchange with Gavin

Conversation #1:

  1. Glad that my AGU talk is provoking conversations @thebenshi @Revkin @curryja Not sure main point has actually got through though…

  2. @curryja 2) the Stocker statement is not a normative one. Where is the ‘should’? Stmt true even if you don’t want to limit clm. chg.

  3. @ClimateOfGavin “limiting climate change requires . . .” Requires implies should, is normative in context of UNFCCC treaty

Gavin Schmidt ‏@ClimateOfGavin14h

.@curryja Big difference between saying “an apple pie requires apples” and “You should bake an apple pie”. Only latter stmt is advocacy.

Conversation #2:

Judith Curry ‏@curryja15h

@ClimateOfGavin @thebenshi @Revkin a quick summary of main point?

Gavin Schmidt ‏@ClimateOfGavin15h 

@curryja 2 quick pts: 1) the pop quiz was for whether people *would* say those statements (not opposite). Ppl more willing than I expected

Judith Curry ‏@curryja14h

@ClimateOfGavin my point re the statements is that they are very different in context of advocacy, not similar species as you argue

.@curryja You are missing the point completely. All of them are advocacy. What is diff are background values, hence not universal agreement
@ClimateOfGavin the difference among them is whether it uses one’s expertise to accomplish a specific policy goal
@curryja My pt is that diff btw the various pts aren’t whether some are ‘advocacy’ (they all are), but how yr expertise/values come together

407 responses to “Rethinking climate advocacy

  1. This is the most important paragraph: “Even if you believe that CO2 is the dominant control knob on climate change on timescales of decades to centuries, how is it a ‘fact’ to state that this must be dealt with by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (rather than by adaption, carbon sequestration or geoengineering)? And there is a missing element in this argument that warming is ‘bad’, which is a value judgment and has nothing to do with science.”

    • Spot on. I agree.

    • Don Surber,

      Repost from yesterday; relevant to your comment).

      My reaction at the close of 2013 is that the climate change topic is seeming a bit boring, although it has arguably been a banner year for skeptics. I will try to drum up some new topics.

      In case you are seeking suggestions on topics, here are some I’d be interested in:

      1. Policies that would reduce the risk (probability or consequence or both) of sudden climate change, and that doesn’t have a greater risk of doing more harm than good.

      2. Probability that such policies would succeed in delivering the projected benefits, given the realities of economics, politics, international diplomacy and and the time over which such policies would have to continue.

      3. More on the practical application of robust versus optimal policy development and implementation.

      4. More on the impacts of warming (the damage function). Both Richard Tol and William Nordhaus repeatedly point out that our understanding of the net economic effect of warming is very limited. It seems to me the impacts of warming may be overstated just as it seems the climate sensitivity may have been overstated.

      5. What global CO2 emissions reductions could be achieved by what dates with no regrets policies?

    • I agree with Don and Peter.

      The call to action was premature and raised suspicions about motives.

  2. “3) Focus more on values and less on science;.

    Hell, why not throw out the science entirely? We don’t need not stinkin’ science. We just need to remind ourselves how good we are, and how bad the deniers.

    \2) Start with people and not carbon;

    Is there a difference?

    • Focus more on values and less on science;.

      They have been doing that and they got both wrong.

    • Let’s step back a bit and analyse Schmidt’s position.

      1. IPCC modelling has failed to predict 17 years of no atmospheric warming despite 8% rise in pCO2.

      2. No professional scientist or engineer accepts the IPCC physics with the caveat that Meteorologists and Climate Alchemists are taught incorrect ‘back radiation’, so believe they are right. The inference is that many such university courses must correct curriculula and teach standard physics.

      3. Look deeply into the science and the real GHE ~ 11K*, the standard interpretation of the Tyndall Experiment is wrong**, the real IR emission from the Earth’s surface has an operational emissivity of ~0.16*** and processes in the atmosphere self-correct any no-feedback CO2-AGW to near zero****.

      *Take out GHGs, no cloud or ice albedo gives average surface temperature 4 to 5 deg C; present GHE ~11 K; the 3x positive feedback is a Big Mistake.

      **It’s because the spectral temperature of H2O IR in OLR is ~-1.5 deg C so it is not from the stratosphere as claimed by Climate Alchemists.

      ***63/396 = 0.16; it’s because Radiation Fields interact vectorially so atmospheric GHG bands annihilate surface IR in those wavelength ranges.

      ****This is ongoing research……….:o)

      Conclusion: these dishonourable, unprofessional activists are backtracking at a rate sufficient to stay employed when the cull starts.

  3. “The ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently ind ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

    There is no “ethical” bind if the scientist sticks to science. The bind comes from the apparent need to inflict ones politics on one’s scientific conclusions.

    • They have got consensus on their side.

      They have stopped doing science. Once you know you are 97 percent right, you are way past being done with science.

      Real Science is ALWAYS SKEPTICAL.

    • Yes. Real science is skeptical. Skeptical of the notion that there is a thing call real science.
      Be skeptical of your skepticism.

    • Steven Mosher wrote:

      “Be skeptical of your skepticism.”

      Always. Murphy has cow paddies at depth…tail recursion.

    • And rememember that whenever somebody is convinced that they got 97% of a vote, then their name is probably Saddam Hussein.

  4. Point out the weakness and limitations of your argument, including data that conflict with your recommendations;

    For Example:
    The argument says temperature is accelerating upward when, in fact, there has been no temperature increase in 17 years.

    • David L. Hagen

      Point out weaknesses and limitations.
      As expounded by Richard Feynman in Cargo Cult Science 1974.

      What if more CO2 is beneficial, not harmful as it appears for more than the next 50 years? Then why limit it?
      Climate models are unable to model 17 years of no warming and where 95% of models are hotter than actual temperatures over last 34 years. Consequently, the models after 2070 are likely not accurate.

  5. What global CO2 emissions reductions could be achieved by what dates with no regrets policies?

    There are none. Reductions in CO2 will make green things grow less well and they will require more water.

    There is no way to Reduce CO2 and not have major regrets.

  6. Judith – When Gavin Schmidt quotes Stephen Schneider, he is being very selective. The full quote is:

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

    These climate scientists need to recognise that in order to communicate science effectively they have to avoid offering up scary scenarios, they have to avoid making simplified dramatic statements, and they have to make sure they mention their doubts. In other words, they have to behave like proper scientists not like populist politicians or pop stars. Until they learn to do this, the general public have every right to hold them in utter contempt.

  7. I love the term ‘climate advocate’, but I might love it more if someone told me what it meant.
    =======

    • Well, I advocate for climate to be allowed to do its own thing, and not be shackled to a manipulative narrative, and not to be abused by its CO2 control knob. Por li’l thing has been very badly treated.
      =======

    • It is almost like ‘double secret probation’ but now looks shorter.

    • The language is deeply entertaining

      “Climate denier” presumably means those who insist there is no such thing as climate.

      “Climate change” itself as the warmists use it, leads to all kinds of silliness, like the recent “We have to protect out communities from climate change.”

      “We must fight climate change” always makes me laugh.

      The obverse being, “We must protect our climate.”

      And who can forget Obama’s “This is the day the oceans stop rising.”

      Who’d have ever believed that? Now half the nation cheers. Or cheered anyway.

    • Another one I like is ‘climate change denier’. Is there anyone who is so, other than those who would like to surreptitiously assert that man is corrupting an ideal climate?

      It’s tough to communicate with meaningless words and phrases. Write that down, Gavin.
      ============

    • There’s enough of us convinced that man is causing climate change for us to designate the label “climate denier” to those who don’t.

      Similar to “evolution denier” for those who deny evolution (for calling them “creationists” makes the IDists balk)

    • “There’s enough of us convinced that man is causing climate change for us to designate the label “climate denier” to those who don’t.”

      Thanks Lolly, a beautiful snapshot of the alarmist mind at work. The lack of self awareness, and the lack of historical insight is pretty stunning.

    • Lolwot: “Similar to “evolution denier”…”

      Interesting choice. Perhaps not so good for you though – after all, there is plenty of evidence and logic to indicate the correctness, and should you not be sure, plenty of people to explain and expand on the evidence and logic. It’s only when you aren’t convinced by the evidence presented to you that you get pasted. Yet even the suggestion that there might be something wrong with one small part of AGW theory, you are immediately a “denier”/”delayer”/”in the pay of big oil” etc.

      Regardless of the reality, the perception generated by the above makes it look like the consensus has something to hide / don’t have such a watertight case / aren’t as sure as they make out. The bleed into advocacy by the hiding of doubts, by the making of scarey predictions (that then not only fail to appear, but are he opposite of what happens, ie “no more snow” claim), by the marginalisation of those who make counter-claims based on real science and math (ie Steve Mac), and most especially the complete failure to issue corrections to papers even where it is claimed that such corrections don’t make a difference to the conclusion, reeks of the entire consensus having slipped into full advocacy mode. I doubt it has myself, however that is how it appears. To then focus on “communications” – as if people would “understand if they only knew what we know” – despite your own (consensus, that is) failings to communicate and argue the actual science in the first place completes the consensus failure.

      Yes, consensus-ers, it is a “communications” problem, just not what you think it is. The answer is to be honest first and foremost – even when it is to your disadvantage. Admit your mistakes and move on. I know you think you can’t afford to do that, but I am here to tell you that you must. I work in customer service for a high tech company and plenty of other people in the industry refuse to admit mistakes – they will blame someone else instead and often times don’t even investigate if it is their problem first. I do not. If I make a mistake, I say so. If there is an issue that requires a customer response to clarify, I contact them and if it goes pear shaped because they didn’t respond, it’s not my fault. If initial investigation reveals they aren’t even a customer for the service they are chasing, I explain to them the basics and give them the phone number of the “competition” that is responsible. These actions don’t drive customers away, they bring them back! Not just to the company, but specifically to me. This is not a “sales technique” or a “marketing message”, it’s plain, old fashioned, good, honest service – “the customer comes first” stuff. People notice. People recommend you by word of mouth – that’s advertising you can’t buy.

      Try it. It works for our inestimable host, does it not?

  8. The AAAS guidelines are the ideal. Yet the AAAS has become more skewed in its presentation of more than one subject. (I expect, advocating beyond boundaries of expertise.)
    The magazine ‘Science’ has, for me, lost some of its luster.
    Of the characteristics of scientific endeavor, one aspect that should always be held high is that of skepticism. It should be a prelude to FOI, verification, and above all measures of uncertainty.
    Climate models, each one a separate hypothesis, none of which have been verified by observations, are currently not adequate for any kind of extrapolation.
    As. Dr. Curry has stated, the ever present uncertainty monster, unknowns, and unknown unknowns are every lurking on the horizon.
    Instead of accepting the fact that original data input may be wrong, scientists have tried to skirt the issue by doing things such as doing a reanalysis whereby showing the unlikely possibility of heat moving to and even more unlikely remaining in the depths of the ocean.
    Accept the fact that Climate science is still in a relatively infant state of negative discovery.

  9. Gavin Schmidt is quoted as saying:

    I suggest four ways to improve climate advocacy: 1) Increase focus on medium and longer-term goals; 2) Start with people and not carbon; 3) Focus more on values and less on science; and 4) Evaluate what works and share what we learn.

    I reckon he doesn’t understand the problem. And the reason is that he is ‘telling’ rather than ‘asking’. He’s been telling ‘CAGW skeptics’ and those who don’t swallow the doomsayers line for a decade or so. But he hasn’t been asking or listening to CAGW skeptics about why they are’nt swallowing the message.

    “1) Increase focus on medium and longer-term goals;”

    No! Not in my opinion. I don’t believe any one can project anything about the climate or economics over the medium and long term. Instead, they should focus on solutions that would be net beneficial for the vast majority of people on the planet in the short term. That’s what people want. We can have low emissions energy and cut global emission. But that won’t happen until the ideologues who want to promote high cost, near useless, renewable energy and do all they can to make nuclear power uneconomic, get rational. they need to dump their policies that would raise the cost of energy.

    “2) Start with people and not carbon;”

    No! start by stopping the spin, dishonesty and advocacy. And, get economically rational and politically realistic.

    “3) Focus more on values and less on science;”

    Wow!. Who’s values? The Left, the socialists and communist values? Why not focus on being rational? Why not focus on what will make peoples lives better. Focus on lifting the poor out of poverty.

    “4) Evaluate what works and share what we learn.”

    No!. Just stop the advocacy. Focus on regaining trust. Be good scientists and do good science on what is relevant. Reduce the uncertainty in the damage function. Provide the information (e.g. the damage function) needed for policy analysis and economic analyses.

    • Actually these statements were by Amy Luer, not Gavin

    • ‘Climate’ is so impuissant it needs an advocate? What about all the terrible extremes it can manifest?

      The term ‘climate advocate’ is in the service of an anti-humanist cause. Who will advocate for humanity?

      Well, I didn’t expect much useful insight from Gavin Schmidt, paid propagandist getting fatter off the taxpayer dime. Corrupted ironies belch forth from this machine, polluting with madness, and threatening permanent residence time. Later, I may tell you what I really think.
      ============

    • JC,

      Actually these statements were by Amy Luer, not Gavin

      My mistake and my apology to Gavin. Thank you JC for catching that and thank you for pointing it out.

  10. “People should understand the basics of the greenhouse effect.”
    The basics are well understood. It is the feedback’s that are supposed to cause a problem and the feedback’s are not well understood.

    “Global warming should be in the high school science curriculum.”
    Not in its current state. Don’t teach my grandchildren that models than can’t properly forecast for 17 years are 97 percent right. Get the science right before you brainwash my grandchildren and their generation.

    “Geoengineering should be seriously considered.”
    If you can’t predict temperature for 17 years, do not try to geoengineer something you clearly do not understand. Get the science right before you even think about geoengineering.

  11. Curious George

    I have a feeling that “climate scientist advocates” are 100% effective. 0% honest. Maybe 95% / 5%.

    • Correct!
      I don’t know why they complain that they are misunderstood and fail to convey the message. Their message (though false) is loud and clear and has bee accepted by 97% of policymakers. The world is spending a billion dollars a day (360 billion a year, on renewables) in response to their false message.

      So what are they complaining about???
      Climate “scientist” advocates rule policy making. They certainly are 100% effective, though only maybe 10% right.

  12. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    20th Century Lessons  In the 20th century, a world with 80,000 thermonuclear warheads was obviously a crazy, dangerous world. Scientists opposing the craziness lost a lot of battles, but in the end, thanks to foresighted pragmatic politicians (like Ronald Reagan) who heeded the scientists, nuclear disarmament was (mostly) achieved.

    21st Century Lessons  Now in the 21st century, a world with a carbon-energy economy is obviously a crazy, dangerous world. Scientists opposing the craziness have lost a lot of battles, but in the end, thanks to foresighted politicians who heed the scientists, carbon-neutral energy economies will be (mostly) achieved.

    Conclusion  Fighting against craziness isn’t complicated in *any* century, 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}

    • A third of a century ago, a fan look and think alike would have warned the Persians that Reagan would push a big red button after inauguration. You’ve come a long way, Baby.
      ====================

    • , thanks to foresighted pragmatic politicians (like Ronald Reagan) who heeded the scientists, nuclear disarmament was (mostly) achieved.

      “Reaganite Rhetoric”. brought the world to the edge of catastrophe

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Able_Archer_83.

      Petrov being a good example of how questioning the computer model,provided a better outcome.

    • Fan’s revisionist history is bizarre. Reagan was the arch-villain of the mainstream arms controllers because he rejected the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction. He was vilified as a dangerous cowboy simpleton because he persisted in thinking that even partial missile defenses would be more useful and more moral than redundant rubble-bouncers, especially in the event that somebody actually pushed the big red button. It was his “uneducated” and “ignorant” persistence on this issue, in combination with the internal economic and social failures of communism, that finally drove the USSR out of the arms race and ended the Cold War. All the “mainstream” scientific organizations were 100% against the Strategic Defense Initiative–it was the “contrarians” and “skeptics” about MAD who ended up winning the Cold War peacefully.

  13. In order to advocate for a particular outcome it is essential that the actions that one proposes be the correct ones. In debates on the anthropogenic contributions to global warming, for example, we may agree that combustion of fossil fuels is a major factor. It should be obvious that the main reason to burn them is for the heat they provide, yet in no way has this been considered by the people who declared the rise in CO2 to be the CAUSE of rising atmospheric temperatures, rather than simply a by-product of that combustion. It is so easy to determine the amount of heat emitted from the fuels burned annually for energy. It is equally easy to determine how much this might impact our atmosphere’s mass, so it can readily be seen that the heat from this (and nuclear power) is four times the amount that can be accounted for by the actual measured rise of temperature in the atmosphere. Except for a previous bias, CO2 should not have even been considered, but our “scientists” continue to look for more evidence to substantiate this premiss. O.K., we agree that fossil fuels are a primary cause so what does it matter whether it is CO2 or heat? Our beliefs guide our policies. In two major aspects we are advocating the wrong actions. (1) CCS, carbon capture and storage, is being proposed globally. To reduce the CO2 concentration by one ppm requires the removal of 18,000,000,000,000 pounds of CO2. For what cost and for what benefit? (2) Nuclear power is being promoted as a CO2-free solution, but the total heat emitted is more than twice the electrical output due to heat picked up by the cooling systems. Our leaders are influenced by what our scientists say. It is imperitive that we reopen the study and insist that heat emissions be considered as an important variable in climate models.

    • Greg Goodknight

      What debate?

      There hasn’t been much of an actual debate since the IntelligenceSquared debacle in front of an upscale and liberal New York City audience in which the skeptic crew (Lindzen, Crichton, Stott) more than decimated the Warmist crew with Gavin Schmidt most prominent. Schmidt even got something of a Bronx cheer when he suggested the audience just wasn’t up to understanding their points. The audience was polled before and after, and it was a grand slam for skeptics. Since then, actually standing up in public and going toe to toe with someone who disagrees is avoided to keep from giving the opposition credibility just by the Schmidts of the world deigning to communicate.

      Then there was the recent very silly dance on the Stossel program, where Roy Spencer was interviewed but had to leave the stage before Schmidt would agree come out, and once that interview was over, the dance was reversed. That is not how adults are supposed to behave, whether scientists or dogcatchers, unless the people being shunned are the lowest of the low and that’s probably the unstated message of that dance.

  14. Excellent post, Judith. Scientist or not, in my view honesty and integrity are core values which should never be compromised. With that basis, the issues surrounding “climate science advocacy” would be much reduced.

  15. I suppose there must have been an associate of Torquemada who told some people at some time, “let’s be nicer to those we identify as heretics” just as the slaughter continued.

    IOW I find it hard to understand the weight if any of Gavin’s words given the past and present history of RealClimate. Let’s hear from him when his own house will be in order.

    • @omnologos

      +100.

    • @willard

      RC moderation shows a ‘pattern of behaviour’ over a period of time. Climategate e-mails (Deity bless FOIA!) shows the same.

      When the same guys act in the same way consistently over a decade or more, we can reasonably conclude that its their default position. And – for these perps – it ain’t that of objective scientists seeking only to educate the public about climate.

    • Dear Latimer,

      The “same guys” should include Gavin, whom we still wonder if he’s honest.

      Please find me something from Gavin in CG I or II that can substantiate your “pattern of behavior”.

      If you can’t, please apologize.

    • There is nothing Gavin, Michael Mann, Keith Brifa and the like can do to enhance their credibility and convey their message. They are totally tainted, they are a total loss for their cause.
      The best they can do is apologize for their sins, and retire.
      Then, maybe, “climate science” could gain some credibility, provided their successors are honest.

    • @willard

      If I owe you an apology, the reason has escaped me. Please remind me where you think I have hurt your feelings.

    • Dear Latimer,

      If you have evidence of a “pattern of behavior” pertaining to Gavin in CG I and II, go for it.

      If not, you owe an apology to the Denizens, and perhaps also Gavin.

  16. Gavin Schmidt should not be talking anything about advocacy in science or climate.

    There is a well-known religious saying: With enlightenment comes the immediate desire for its communication. It is a deep human instinct: when you realise or learn something or acquire knowledge or insight, the first impulse is to tell another being. It may be an expression of power or a desire for challenge and combat but regardless of its source this is the force driving conversations in science and scientific topics.

    Gavin Schmidt’s claim to fame as climate communicator has been owing to the website Realclimate.org which he moderates. He may be a scientist, modeler etc, but he is primarily known as ‘communicator’ due to this website.

    Now, how many think this website is a paragon of good climate communication?

    Schmidt’s major duties with the website are to do with comment moderation. His favoured tactic consists of snipping people’s comments, almost exclusively skeptics’, just as they turn a cusp in the conversation. This interruption, or disruption of communication is his major contribution. If I remember correctly, the rationale offered for this behaviour is that ‘skeptics have several venues available to them to make their point, so Realclimate owes them no obligation to carry their comments.’

    As a result, one of the masthead online presences of climate scientists, which included several former climate figureheads of the IPCC-driven climate movement, has functioned not as a representative of climate science or scientists in general, but as narrow, partisan advocates of their own corner.

    How is such a person qualified to offer advice on climate advocacy?

    I would not trust anything coming from Gavin Schmidt. If it is something non-controversial, it is likely the information would flow through other channels and people I trust. If otherwise, I cannot be sure why he’s saying it, or what has been suppressed in order to allow his point to be made.

    It is not possible to take seriously the abstract ideas of advocacy from someone whose interpretation and realisation of communication is so narrow in practice.

    • Shub, I don’t know where the saying “With enlightenment comes the immediate desire for its communication” comes from, but the Buddha gave two relevant instructions to his monks: teach the Dhamma only to those who ask; and do not teach to those who are not in a fit state to receive it (my example: if intoxicated or distracted).

      The Buddha himself is said to have spent some weeks under the Bodhi tree after his enlightenment, and then sought out and taught his five companions of several years search, with whom he had parted company when he determined that the practices of mortification which they had practised did not purify the mind, and he would have to seek another way.

      After my first Vipassana course in 1972, I could see the benefits I had would help my family and friends, and I sought to share them when I returned to England after a second course. Yes, there is what the Buddha called “ehipassiko” – come and see – but people have to be ready. A couple of my old girl-friends did courses, no-one else; I left my friends to their drugs and moved on.

      So communication has to be two way, and the would-be communicator needs to be sensitive to the understanding, volition and receptiveness of those to whom he or she wishes to communicate. Schmidt et al have fallen down here, as I did 40 years ago.

    • I’ve told you I cling to the wreckage, daren’t explore the depths.
      ============

  17. crosspost, omnologos,… and it looks like we said the same thing more or less.

  18. I agree that Gavin would be wrong to say that the Stocker statement is not advocacy. The statement does assume that the IPCC future world which may be 4 C warmer with faster rising sea levels is not a good state for humanity or the ecology including manmade ones like agriculture. But that is an assumption. So far the debate doesn’t have anyone defending a 4 C rise as good, because most of the opposite side have outright denied that it is possible. Without an opposing view on the effects of a warmer world, the jump is commonly made that it is bad. If Judith can find someone saying that 4 C is good, that would be the debate to have at this point. There are many studies on just how bad it gets increasingly beyond a 2 C rise, which is where the 2 C limit came from.
    Gavin makes the assumption it is bad because in his mind that is obvious. To him it is like predicting an asteroid hit and assuming it is bad rather than even possibly good, so we should understand his thinking that way.

    • The timescale for a possible 4C rise is what? 200-300 yrs? is anyone arguing for 4C rise in the 21st century?

    • The timescale for a possible 4C rise is what? 200-300 yrs?

      1-3000 yrs Prevdis reply to Solomon

    • I take it that 700 ppm is entirely possible, and may be a central estimate, in the 21st or very early 22nd century with business as usual emissions. The central sensitivity estimate gives 4 C for that. 700 ppm level is within known fossil fuel resources.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Judith, a whole lot of folks consider wise decisions made 200+ years ago to be  topical, eh?

      \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}

    • Yes, Fan, it is a form of Atmospheric Constitution that is being drawn up now and its consequences will be irreversible and last for centuries, like the original.

    • Jim, the 2C figure was plucked out of the air by a German scientist who later admitted to der Spiegel that it had no basis. NTZ ran the DS interview some years ago, and it has been quoted and linked to here several times.

    • Faustino, a lot of skeptics think 2 C is OK too. This is an area of consensus, but I think everyone would prefer 1 C by far. By the time you get to 3 C, nobody is making the case that that and higher are any good. I think a better skeptical strategy would be to say 3 and 4 C are good rather than deny it could ever happen, which is their current tactic. When they deny this, it just looks like denial of bad outcomes, the first stage of Kubler-Ross, and this would be a way to get past that image of them. They shouldn’t be afraid of advocating for 3 or more degrees if they are not scared by it, but perhaps they are afraid it will make them look (more) silly.

    • Warming is better, for it sustains more life and more diversity of life. We’ve not seen the limits of this, yet, but probably have seen the limits of cooling, a number of times.
      ================

    • Jim, I don’t know whether a 2C rise would or would not be okay. But to the best of my knowledge, no-one has demonstrated that it would be bad, and no one has demonstrated that any benefits of limiting temperature rises to < 2C would exceed the costs. So I will continue to advocate policies which enhance our capacity to deal with the future, whatever befalls – noting yet again that the future always surprises us – and attack policies which involve great expense for a potentially trivial reduction in future temperatures.

    • A global Copenhagen-type rate of reduction can have a very large long-term effect on restricting warming without badly impacting the world economy. Skeptics are just too hopeless in this regard.

    • Based on sun cycles 24 & 25 I would be predicting 1 degree cooling in the next 30 years.

    • The best estimate for the A1F1 emissions scenario is 4.0 C above 1980-1999 by 2100, in AR4.

      The whole range from AR4 is 0.3 to 6.4 for all scenarios.

      http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-projections-of.html

  19. Here’s Gavin penning his own epitaph: ‘…because without honesty there is no possibility of being effective in a sustainable or responsible way’.

    Not possible, Honey, but we admire your hopeless effort.

    As for ‘self-awareness’, is he ignorant or disingenuous? Always the same question, the same question.
    =============

  20. Jim D,
    The ascendancy of the global warming movement lies in the assurance of the success of their predictions combined with their absolute confidence that their audience would automatically assume the predicted changes *to be bad*.

    They don’t even have to explain it. They know we know what they sell is bad outcomes and catastrophe.

    • This is such a huge mystery to me. The evidence is strong that warming is good and cannot be otherwise unless the rate is practically hypersonic. To demonize a mild warming agent given the lessons of paleontology would seem to be the last thing one might possibly choose for a weapon, but I guess they went to war with the warming agent they had.

      Too bad they had to get bellicose in the first place. Now, though, the urge enriches the irony of how foolish it was to wage the war in the first place.
      ==============

    • “To demonize a mild warming agent given the lessons of paleontology would seem to be the last thing one might possibly choose for a weapon, but I guess they went to war with the warming agent they had.”

      This is precisely the thing that started me on my skeptical path. I had no trouble believing we might get warmer, but the absolute….as far as I could see….refusal among the MSM to even consider what the benefits might be….struck me a deeply biased. Surely at the very least, for some people living in northern latitudes, warmer has to be better….

      Bottom line for me is there’s simply not enough evidence of a looming catastrophe to commit trilions of dollars to mitigations strategies that might not even be effective, and that will likely harm many people along the way.The cure as they say, could well be worse than the illness. IN fact, we don’t even know yet if the illness even exists,

    • @Pokerguy

      “I had no trouble believing we might get warmer, but the absolute….as far as I could see….refusal among the MSM to even consider what the benefits might be….struck me a deeply biased. ”

      Brought to mind this, last updated in 2012:

      http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

      which is a list of links to articles announcing something like 800 (and obviously growing) effects of ‘Global Warming’, UNIVERSALLY bad.

      And these were the already apparent negative effects of less than one degree warming, spread over a century.

      Is it any wonder that folks ‘smell a rat’?

  21. “And there is a missing element in this argument that warming is ‘bad’, which is a value judgment and has nothing to do with science.”

    I don’t agree with this statement at all. Science tells us that a warmer world is more hospitable for growing things. Science tells us that when the world was warmer, humans thrived. Science tells us that a warmer world leads to more atmospheric CO2, which helps plants grow. Science tells us that when more plants grow, that helps humans and the entire ecosystem that depends on plants.

    If things are proven to thrive, then that proof is science. Only after that does someone get to make a “value judgment” that things thriving is somehow bad.

    • Remember, Tom, humanity includes those with self-loathing of humanity. We want them to be a bit of amusing diversity rather than the meme carriers of civilization.
      ===============

    • When the earth cools people die from crop failure driven famines like 25% of all Scots in the 1680s. It seems clear to me sun cycle 24’s impact is a colder planet and I do fear cycle 25’s effect on crops. As an advocate for Thorium Molten Salt Reactors I am amazed by green energy advocacy for wind power. For the people living near this net CO2 bird blenders, there is rising tide of global protest to the unsightly, intrusions of nature. For the $1B a day spent of the “climate change” and green energy efforts can build 600 MWs of Th-MSRs daily of CO2 free energy at $.03 per kWh. The US navy just ordered $8b in wind mills, madness!

    • @ kim

      “Remember, Tom, humanity includes those with self-loathing of humanity.”

      Would those folks include the ‘Sustainablists’ who demand that the population of the earth be reduced to somewhere between .5 and 1.5 billion. Sooner rather than later? And who seem to be joined at the hip with ‘Climate Science’?

      And would that explain efforts like the following?:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/untrue-statements-anger-over-work-to-make-h5n1-birdflu-virus-more-dangerous-to-humans-9018666.html

  22. stevefitzpatrick

    Very good post Judith. I suspect that Gavin simply can’t (and never will) accept that his personal conclusions about the need to reduce CO2 emissions are anything other than absolutely true and absolutely required. I don’t he will ever accept that an opposing POV could even possibly be correct, and those who oppose therefore are utterly and absolutely immoral. Gavin is by no means alone in this thinking. I do not for a second doubt Gavin’s honesty or sincerity. I do doubt his self awareness, and think he is woefully lacking humility.

    • Well, steve, you’re a wonderful and perspicacious commenter, but even slugs are more self-aware than you think Gavin is. You would excuse his behaviour, and that would be an error.
      ===================

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      I’m afraid I can’t agree to this generous interpretation. Gavin has acknowledged arguments were right after having vehemently disagreed with them before. Consider his blistering criticisms of skeptics on the Tiljander issue here. Not only did he later acknowledge the Tiljander series were used upside down, he acknowledged that invalidated a central claim of the Mann 2008 paper.

      The problem is he never “connected the dots.” He never went back to correct the insulting remarks he made about people on this point. He never admitted he had previously argued a contradictory position. He never said, “I was wrong.” He publicly insulted people by saying they were absolutely, unquestionably wrong and it was completely unreasonable for them not to admit it. Later he realized they were right all along, and he… shut up. That’s it.

      Gavin never made any effort to correct his false statements. He never made any effort to retract his baseless criticisms. He never made any effort to try to educate people once he realized doing so would require acknowledging skeptics were right (and he was dumbfoundingly wrong).

      I do, very much, doubt Gavin Schmidt’s honesty. I cannot fathom a level of delusionality required to explain behavior like I described.

    • He is as willing to pervert himself as he is to pervert science.
      ==================

    • Brandon, one of the specific strategies adopted by the consensus is not to admit error. Perhaps Gavin is just complying with doctrine rather than being a big meanie himself.

    • Heh, Tom, which is worse?
      ========

    • Brandon Shollenberger

      Tom Fuller, I don’t doubt that’s what it is. The justification offered for it is usually something like, “If I admit I was wrong, people will use that to ‘attack’ my ‘side.'” The one not offered is they feel embarrassed for having been wrong. It’s completely understandable.

      It’s also completely wrong. It is blatantly dishonest. It is inexcusable, and it is, quite frankly, pathetic. Even worse, it is selfish. While people claim to do it to protect their cause, the reality is all it does is sabotage it. That means the only real reason to do it is pride.

      That’s why I have a low opinion of people like Gavin Schmidt.

    • > are anything other than absolutely true and absolutely required

      Are these the conditions for facticity?

      Facts ain’t what they used to be.

    • willard, worse.
      ==========

    • I notice that Gavin’s Dummies Guide to the Hockey Stick is still posted with this paragraph, which I believe is on “short centering”:

      4) What do different conventions for PC analysis represent?

      Some different conventions exist regarding how the original data should be normalized. For instance, the data can be normalized to have an average of zero over the whole record, or over a selected sub-interval. The variance of the data is associated with departures from the whatever mean was selected. So the pattern of data that shows the biggest departure from the mean will dominate the calculated PCs. If there is an a priori reason to be interested in departures from a particular mean, then this is a way to make sure that those patterns move up in the PC ordering. Changing conventions means that the explained variance of each PC can be different, the ordering can be different, and the number of significant PCs can be different.

      Without a correction, isn’t this misinforming his readers?

    • It’s garbage.

      H/t Jean S.
      =======

  23. I had no intention of reading anyone who presents a Steven Schneifer lecture but am glad somebody got the info out. First, Steven Schneider’s ethical choices came up early in the climate movement history and they put him on the dark side. It was the first IPCC meeting in 1990, the FAR.. He was an editor and the people running the show did not like what he wrote. They suggested changes which he then incorporated into the script. I read an article about him when he got the MacArthur genius award for that in 1992. The award was given because of the changes he made to the FAR, He was quite open about having changed the text and even showed both versions. I knew nothing about climate then and did not understand why the difference was important. He also stated that he was going through a bitter divorce and getting the award got him out of financial difficulties he had gotten into. It was not until fifteen years later that this genius prize award started to ring bells in my head. I tried to get hold of the article but Google would not give it to me. I tried googling for his divorce and they just threw a bunch of divorce lawyers at me. I got his CV and there is nothing about the divorce or his having been married before. Take it any way you like it, but in my opinion organizing a lecture in honor of someone responsible for manipulating an IPCC report is not what I think a national scientific organization should do..

  24. Tut tut!

    Shame on all of you! You obviously have no appreciation of the awe inspiring intellectual brilliance of Gavin Schmidt!

    A true polymath, if ever there was one. Mathematical mastery combined with oratorical elegance.

    Do we detect a little petulance, perhaps, that we do not genuflect in reverence at the genius of his thinking, and fail to follow the policies he advocates in order that we may be saved from ourselves?

    On the other hand, he might be wondering how Lysenko managed to communicate so effectively for so long. Go for it, Gavin! We know you can do it! Twist the knob for all it’s worth! Keep the money and adulation flowing!

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

  25. I’ve never been able to understand the Schneider “Double Ethical Bind” (so-called) as anything other than a pretty way for scientists to rationalize concealing their dishonesty from the public and from themselves.

    This dishonesty is probably the biggest driver for the current distrust of scientists.

    • I can understand it. There are (and always have been) lots of people who believe ends can justify means and, at times, such people act on that belief. I think this is what Schneider was saying. The “double ethical bind” language is just a way of not saying “sometimes ends justify means.” That’s avoided because saying so shocks bourgeois sensibility.

    • “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

      What Schneider was saying, like any good progressive, is that integrity is a purely personal choice, not an objective standard to which one has an obligation to conform.

    • NW | December 23, 2013 at 12:19 am |

      blah, blah, blah… The “double ethical bind” language is just a way of not saying “sometimes ends justify means.” That’s avoided because saying so shocks bourgeois sensibility.

      If you were speaking of statesmanship or corporate brinksmanship, you would be right. However, consequentialism is far above the pay grade of naive, myopic academicians. This is why what Schneider said is arrogant and idiotic. A clever prince would distance himself from an adviser who has elevated himself to a station so far over his head. Provide all the straight dope to the leaders and then let them determine how best to spin it.

    • If you like your catastrophe, you can keep your catastrophe. Period.
      ====================

    • What Schneider was saying is that, no matter what science shows, he already knew the truth, a-priory. He felt morally obliged to promote his truth regardless of science.

  26. too much ”advocacy” regarding the phony GLOBAL warming and no science. The truth always wins on the end, that end is nigh!

    • “The truth always wins on the end”…
      I hope so. Maybe.
      Meanwhile it’s the climate propagandists that are winning. This is a fact, not a hope.

    • jacobress | December 23, 2013 at 10:55 am | said: ”Meanwhile it’s the climate propagandists that are winning. This is a fact, not a hope”

      Hi Jacob, propagandist are wining because of the bias media; but no propaganda lasts forever – when one day the media turns on the Propagandists… . You see, time is against the unsubstantiated propaganda.

      another reason is: so far the ”Skeptics are only constantly parroting what the propagandist say; instead of putting their alternative. Actually ”Skeptic’s alternative ”the proxy data” from the past is even bigger con / mythology: here is the alternative: http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/climate/

  27. What we need is insiders like Dr. Curry to admit this Global Warming campaign we’ve been subjected to for the last 20 years doesn’t and never had anything to do with the advancement of science.

    Yes, I’m spitting in the wind.

    Andrew

    • Dr. Curry has already stated that the IPCC was organized for a political purpose, and has recently called for “putting down” the IPCC. Not sure what more you can expect from a former member of the consensus tribe.

    • Not glue factory, mebbe horse hockey out in the pasture.
      ========

  28. One thing Gavin points out is that even when scientists just are talking about science, there are some people who take that to be advocacy. They just can’t distinguish. Alley’s talk that I linked on the Open Thread starts with the case that as a science AGW is old. It was established before quantum mechanics, relativity or plate tectonics. It is not a new science.

  29. So Mann and not man is responsible for global warming and academia is now looking for distance. Had to happen sooner or later.

  30. On the following statements, I disagree with our hostess and agree with Schmidt that they are all normative:

    “Scientists should communicate more about what they do and find.”
    “Funding for scientific research should be a higher priority.”
    “People should understand the basics of the greenhouse effect.”
    “Global warming should be in the high school science curriculum.”
    “Geoengineering should be seriously considered.”

    The telltale of normative status is the use of the word “should” (or its mate “ought”). This is classic Hume’s Guillotine: You cannot derive an ought (or a should) from an is. Each “should” above contains a value premise: In the first statement, that scientific communication to the public is worthwhile; in the second, that incremental research is worth more than incremental spending in other categories; in the third, that popular understanding of the basic greenhouse theory would be somehow useful; in the fourth, that teaching high-school students about global warming would be a good use of their time; and in the fifth, that geoengineering options might be desirable compared to the alternatives.

    So here Schmidt has the right of it.

    • Schmidt was using those statements only as examples of advocacy. If a scientist talks about any of these, he or she is being an advocate.

    • I beg to differ with the comment “So here Schmidt has the right of it.” by:
      stevepostrel | December 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm | Reply

      Specifically:

      “Scientists should communicate more about what they do and find.”
      I concur with JC and IMO “communication” implies being more open and transparent about making data, software, and pro/con arguments available. It does not mean a PR campaign.

      “Funding for scientific research should be a higher priority.”
      The availability of public money used to fund studies in support of agendas has of late had a corrupting influence on science. Science has become more of a business and less of an avocation. I would advocate the opposite; take public money out and hold grantees to a higher standard; at least until objectivity once again prevails. Pursuing climate change studies, the US alone has spent $100B on grants in what essentially has been corporate welfare.

      “People should understand the basics of the greenhouse effect.”
      Why? I assume “people” means the general public. Everything has context and the “greenhouse effect” is just part of the puzzle. A huge current problem is a fixation on carbon dioxide at the expense of natural variability, clouds, feedback, albedo, sun, etc. The statement “people should understand the basics of the greenhouse effect” prejudices the layman to accept carbon dioxide as “the problem.” In the absence of a more general understanding of natural variability, many learned (and well intentioned) individual who comment on this blog are IMO unjustifiable fixated on carbon dioxide at the expense of understanding the total science.

      “Global warming should be in the high school science curriculum.”
      Despite what many commenters believe, this is a scientific field in its infancy and is to poorly understood to teach in high school. It is an area ripe for indoctrination in the name of science.

      “Geoengineering should be seriously considered.”
      This would be about as serious a mistake as could be made. First you would have to have confidence that there is a problem, second that you understand the problem, third the geoengineering solution chosen was the correct solution, and fourth be prepared to accept the unintended consequences which could be worst than the supposed problem you are trying to solve.

      No, here Schmidt has the wrong of it.

    • Steve agrees with Schmidt only that the statements are normative. He does not agree that the statements are correct and should drive policy.

  31. “. . . because without honesty there is no possibility of being effective in a sustainable and responsible way.”

    It depends on what the definition of honesty is. Last I checked, Gavin Schmidt had no problem with hide the decline, the climategate emails, or Peter Gleick, whose blatant dishonesty Schmidt characterized as “irrationality in the heat of the moment.” (Poor Petey)

    Not to mention the fact that Schmidt’s statement is not even true. Progressives passed Obamacare based entirely on lies, thus taking control of one sixth of the American economy. And the EPA is moving full steam ahead on decarbonizatoin, democracy be damned, based on lies in their own findings regareding the state of the science.

    Lying is often extremely effective, which is why progressives embrace it so willingly.

  32. But in fairness to Schmidt, I think this comment is misread:

    Schmidt: “Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Curry: “Even if you believe that CO2 is the dominant control knob on climate change on timescales of decades to centuries, how is it a ‘fact’ to state that this must be dealt with by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (rather than by adaption, carbon sequestration or geoengineering)?”

    I don’t think Schmidt’s statement can fairly be read as saying we “must” do anything. “…limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” just means that the only way to stop “climate change”, (by which he means “global warming”, by which he means a rise in global average temperature of dangerous proportions due to GHGs) is to reduce emissions.

    That is a statement of fact, not policy. He is saying, in climatologistese, that the only way to stop future GHG warming is to reduce emissions of GHGs. Not that that is the only policy that can be adopted, but that is the only way to stop the warming.

    Now that statement includes an assumption that “climate change” so defined is in fact occurring. But that assumption too is one of fact.

    • “the only way to stop future GHG warming is to reduce emissions of GHGs.”

      NOT

      What about carbon sequestration including air capture.

      Climate is changing is a fact. What is causing it is the topic of heated debate.

    • I didn’t say his statement was a true fact, but I did not read it as a policy statement.

      As to carbon sequestration, I was unaware that anyone on the consensus side accepted that sequestration could deal with what they believe is the correct climate sensitivity. If we need to make the types of reductions the IPCC claims, would sequestration be adequate? My understanding is that6 the “consensus” position is no.

      Now, are their facts arrived at by “science” influenced by their policy preferences? Absolutely. But that is a different question.

      Also, “climate change” is indeed a fact, using that term in its dictionary definition. But Schmidt is obviously using the term in the CAGW sense of the word. That is why I called it an assumption.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      ““the only way to stop future GHG warming is to reduce emissions of GHGs.”

      NOT

      What about carbon sequestration including air capture.”

      —-
      Either way, at least the focus is on the correct thing.

    • > Climate is changing is a fact. What is causing it is the topic of heated debate.

      Asking for causes to be facts might be asking a little too much, if we can echo stevepostrel’s reference to Hume a bit earlier.

    • Who’s asking, other than the effect?
      ============

    • > Who’s asking […]?

      Anyone who compares “climate changes” with “climate change is cause by X”, where X is subject of heated debate.

      BTW, the usual “X” is an A.

    • Ships in the night, willard; Bon Voyage.
      =============

    • Lauri Heimonen

      curryja:

      ‘“the only way to stop future GHG warming is to reduce emissions of GHGs.”

      NO

      What about carbon sequestration including air capture.

      Climate is changing is a fact. What is causing it is the topic of heated debate’

      According to my comment http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/18/uk-parlament-ipcc-5th-assessment-review/#comment-426950 I am convinced that AGW based on anthropogenic CO2 emissions is practically nonexistent:

      increase of total CO2 content in atmosphere does not dominate warming, and
      anthropogenic share of recent total increase of CO2 in atmosphere has been only about 4 %.

      I have learned that one can understand this only then when she/he, on basis of her/ his own scrutiny, can make it understandable.

      This claim of mine agrees with what e.g. Jim Cripwell, Arno Arrak, David Wojick etc have sayd concerning the climate sensivity: ‘it is indistinguishable from zero’. Further Arno Arrak says that there has been no observable green house gas warming during last 35 years; according to Bob Tisdale during last decades the increase of emissions of anthropogenic carbon dioxide has caused no warming in oceans..In addition, Tom V Segalstad says: ”The rising concentration of atmospheric CO2 in the last century is not consistent with supply from anthropogenic sources. Such anthropogenic sources account for less than 5% of the present atmosphere, compared to the major input/output from natural sources (~95%)”; and ”Carbon isotopic trends agree qualitatively with fossil fuel CO2 emissions like stated by IPCC, but show quantitatively a fossil fuel CO2 component of maximum 4 % versus the 21% claimed by IPCC”. With the claims of Segalstad even Murry Salby agrees,and so on.

    • Lauri Heimonen

      I am sorry about my unworking link above. I hope this does it: my comment http://judithcurry.com/2013/12/18/uk-parliament-ipcc-5th-assessment-review/#comment-426950 .

  33. Judging on his history of ‘communication’ at RealClimate, I’d place a small wager that Schmidt did not show much tolerance for questions after his talk.

    Unwelcome questionners would be put on the Naughty Step and awkward ones ignored and cast with a snarl into the outer darkness.

  34. Judith presents a list of why the public distrusts scientists as advocates.

    But she forgets to add the sheer bloody arrogant unpleasantness that advocates like Schmidt adopt as a badge of honour. If I would not trust somebody enough to buy a used car from him, I certainly wouldn’t buy their climate policy.

    I am not alone. A persistent theme running through the Denizens thread is how many ‘neutrals’ have been turned into sceptics after having the temerity to ask an innocently awkward question at RC, and having received the full force of their wrath.

    I console myself that after their huge hubris, nemesis inevitably follows. And the irony is – as ever – that it was their own actions that were in part to blame.

    • Yet Gavin lectures unselfconsciously about the ethics of science communication to an august agglomeration of geophysicists. I told you this one would be amusing, and the joke will keep getting better for decades.
      ==============

    • A little more on why the public distrusts scientists:

      Is coffee good or bad for you?
      Is red wine good or bad for you?
      Is passive exposure to tobacco smoke likely to cause cancer?

      My wife is a-scientific and is concerned about our health. She reads conflicting reports and is deeply dismayed–she needs to make practical, life-shaping decisions and does not know what to do. Because in her experience, science says both yea and nay to her when she has an important question.

      How much exposure to the sun is safe?
      What is the relationship between various types of cholesterol and heart disease?
      Should healthy people take vitamins and, if so, which ones and in what quantities?

      When we discuss climate science ethics, much of the conversation focuses on the rogues–the Peter Gleick’s, the Andrew Wakefields, the charlatans (Stephan Lewandowsky) and the power hungry (Michael Mann). But I think the actual normal progress of scientific advancement coupled with the normal practice of journalism has confused the public just as much.

      If you cannot tell my wife if the glass of red wine she so loves at dinner is good or bad for her, what level of engagement and commitment would you expect from her regarding the effects of CO2 commissions on future climate?

    • Tom Fuller
      + many
      The issues with how science is currently practiced are not restricted to climate science. IMO the ‘fix’ is for the public to understand that scientist’s are subject to confirmation bias, to conflict of interest, and to error just as much as anyone else. In addition, the system itself in US is broken, or nearly so. Just as Eisenhower warned.

    • Tom, quite so, medical and other advice often changes or has conflicting messages from various sources. Many of us have learned to use our best judgement rather than slavishly follow the latest “correct” advice. This applies in spades to CAGW, with its modelling basis.

    • Good points Tom.

    • After the International Climate Mystery Man incident over at Climate Audit, if Dr. Schmidt said that the sun would rise in the east next day, a lot of people would still be checking.

      His treatment of the audience in the Intelligence Squared Climate debate also left a lot to be desired in contrast to Prof. Philip Stott.

  35. Merry Christmas Dr. Curry,

    As someone who is trying to communicate the risks of climate change to the public, i find it very interesting and illuminating to see what kinds of issues are of concern to the thinking skeptics that are outside our field, and sometimes I find the exchanges thought provoking.

    You’ve come a long way on this journey. I hope it continues to be rewarding.

    http://climateaudit.org/2008/02/06/off-to-georgia-tech/#comment-135428

    • oh my, those were heady days!

    • Charles, thanks for that link, a great – historic, even? – thread.

    • Well, I can at least hope I was churlish.
      ========

    • Giving the talk about Gavin, it’s worth repeating Pierre Gosselin’s contribution to that famous thread:

      Pierre Gosselin Posted at CA Feb 8, 2008 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

      @Craig Loehle
      It’s difficult to win a debate if the debater himself does not even believe in his own science.

      I recently got into a tussle with Gavin at RealCensorship.org, ooops-sorry…I meant RealClimate.org. If you really want to find out just how much confidence these alarmists have in their own science, then demand that they put their (own) money down where their mouths are. Put up, or shut up.

      And that’s what I did with Gavin and Co. We all know how they all love to use SLRs to scare the bejesus out of the public. “Sea levels wil rise 1, 3 or even 6 metres – and soon! Them poles are melting faster than anyone expected!”, they’re always telling us. I’ve heard more polar ice melt stories than I care to count.

      So I demanded Gavin bet $100K on SLR. If the sea level rises LESS than 100 mm in 10 years (i.e. less than one meter per century, which is at the very low end of alarmists’ predictions, but still just moderately above the IPCC upper end), then Gavin would have to pay $100K to charity. But, if the sea levels rise 100mm or more in the next 10 years, meaning “catastrophe”, then I would have to pay the $100K to charity.

      Of course, Gavin’s no fool. He knows damn well whereabouts sea levels are gonna wind up in 10 years, and probably in 100 years. Not surprisingly he performed his little tap dance, and ducked away. So I asked him at what sea level rise after 10 years he would bet a 100K: 50mm? 20mm? or 5mm? Other than censoring the bulk of my argumentation, he did not reply. In short, he shut up (believe it or not).

      Heck, I thought with all them hot-shot models and consensus-backed science, these alarmists would at least provide us with a “very likely” SLR, at least one safe enough to bet on. No way.

      Imagine! These are the very scientists and politicians who insist they know what’s headed our way, have the temerity to demand we radically change our lifestyles and pay out the nose, but yet are still not confident enough to bet on their own science. I think that says a lot.

      Does anyone know if it’s possible to place bets on climate change, SLRs etc. in Vegas, etc.?

    • > it’s worth repeating Pierre Gosselin’s contribution to that famous thread

      Indeed, we needed one more Yes, But RC Moderation.

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      Charles,

      Thanks for reminding us of that link. Seems longer ago than it was.

      Judith,

      I get the feeling (please tell me if I am wrong) that you remain more than a little angry with the response of some of your peers to engaging with people who are skeptical of the climate science.

      What made me immediately doubt the veracity of climate science projections (before I knew much of anything about it technically) was the almost cartoon-like snark, hostility, lack of respect, and obnoxious arrogance on continuous display at RealClimate (and lots of other well known blog sites which support the ‘consensus’ climate science position).

      I wonder if those who run RealClimate can appreciate that while people who have not studied climate science, including scientists working in other fields, may not immediately be able to judge the details, they sure as heck have enough experience in dealing with people to immediately recognize behaviors which are often usually with acting in good faith. That simple heuristic of judging the likelihood of good faith based on behavior is learned over lifetimes, starting in the sandbox. It is the *behavior* of advocate climate scientists, not ‘the science’, which immediately sets off people’s BS alarms. Ringing BS alarms invite closer and, yes, very skeptical, scrutiny of ‘the science’. The single biggest step that advocates like Gavin could take to increase confidence in ‘the science’, and which costs absolutely nothing, is to stop acting like arrogant jerks. Step back from the advocacy and focus on the science. Treat people with respect, even if you think they are mistaken. And for heavens sakes, stop telling scary stories of doom.

    • Faustino,
      Sea level rise is projected to be less than 1 meter in AR5,

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/10/sea-level-in-the-5th-ipcc-report/

      And since most of that rise is projected to occur late in this century, at least if you agree with Hansen’s model of mass loss from Greenland, why would someone bet 100 mm sea level rise in 10 years.

      You don’t prove your point because someone won’t take your stupid bet.

    • “The single biggest step that advocates like Gavin could take to increase confidence in ‘the science'”… is to shut up.

    • Stammer and treacle. Gavin’s getting the stammering on twitter down pat.
      =======

    • that was a lot of frickin drama over an invite to speak.

    • That an ‘august agglomeration of geophysicists’ thought Gavin Schmidt to be an effective climate communicator or credible ethicist is comedic, made dramatic by those who don’t get the joke.
      ==========

    • Marvelous….I can barely remember those days. Happy New Year!

      Welcome to the present, everyone.

    • @Faustino: So I demanded Gavin bet $100K on SLR. If the sea level rises LESS than 100 mm in 10 years (i.e. less than one meter per century, which is at the very low end of alarmists’ predictions, but still just moderately above the IPCC upper end), then Gavin would have to pay $100K to charity. But, if the sea levels rise 100mm or more in the next 10 years, meaning “catastrophe”, then I would have to pay the $100K to charity.

      Evidently you’ve never been to the races, Michael. I can just see you walking up to a bookie and demanding that he agree to your odds.

  36. “and is arguably making things worse (not to mention damaging the integrity of science” – JC

    This keeps being said, without a shred of evidence to support it.

    • Uh, did you read the huffpo survey?

    • Yeah, I read it.

      You read it, but did you pay attention?

      We have one survey result. One.

      From this you somehow gleen that scientists are “making things worse”.

      Compared to what?? surely we’d need at least one prior, comparable, survey to have the slightest hope of arguing for a trend.

      And with 2 surveys, we could at least then suggest a correlation.

      Yet, with blinding insight, Judith with a single survey, not only can establish a trend, but can do even better than simple correlation, pulling causatiom of of her ars….err, hat.

      Some less kind types might see someone neck deep in confirmation bias.

    • “This keeps being said, without a shred of evidence to support it.”

      You need to get out more, Michael.

    • John Carpenter

      “From this you somehow gleen that scientists are “making things worse”.

      You forgot ‘arguably’. Omitting that word makes a difference in how you present your argument…. by leaving it out you give the impression that JC is certain that it is ‘making things worse’. Without the facade of that illusion, your argument falls apart. Assigning the idea that scientists are ‘making things worse’ based on one survey to JC is a false one. False because JC actually said it is ‘arguable’ that scientists are making things worse. ‘Arguably’ does not infer there is a correlation, only that there may be a correlation. ‘Arguably’ infers there is at least one shred of evidence that may be considered, but other considerations cannot be dismissed that would show otherwise.

      It’s easy to read what you want something to say when your own personal bias is not accounted for. You appear to be neck deep yourself.

    • > with 2 surveys, we could at least then suggest a correlation.

      The magic words were “there is evidence that”, Michael.

      INTEGRITY ™ — We Rely on Evidence

    • JC,

      Yeah, “arguably” is a great weasel word.

      Often used in the stead of any actual rational evidence based argument. It can be used interchangeably with “I assert”, but has far greater rhetorical utility.

    • Willard,

      I love the smell of INTEGRITY in the morning.

  37. Reflecting on his use of the Sherwood Rowland quote “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?”……

    …..I certainly wouldn’t accuse Gavin of the last mentioned.
    In fact I wouldn’t level any of those accusations at him.

    • Heh, what’s the use of blowing up the world’s economy before you have a science well enough developed to make predictions?
      ==============

    • kim, instead you would blow up the world’s ecology (too) while you dither. The safer route is to at least start slowing emissions while we watch the impacts.

    • In the U.S. we are slowing emissions. Dramatically. Nobody that I know of has congratulated us on this. Certainly not Gavin.

    • Actually I should write that in the U.S. ‘you’ are slowing ‘your’ emissions. Where I live the opposite is the case…

    • what’s the use of blowing up the world’s economy before you have a science well enough developed to make predictions?

      the worlds economy did blow ,it was a response of instability in the financial models and policy (unfettered regulation) and it was not forecast eg Broadbent.

      One wonders what Einstein – whose theories generate predictions that, even at relative speeds of 100,000 miles per hour, differ from Newton’s by one part in 10 million – would have made of this. Certainly economic commentators of the time were unimpressed. And it’s not been of much comfort that we’ve since done worse. If the failure to foresee a relatively contained and short-lived recession in the early 1990s did little to enhance the reputation of economic forecasting at that time, the failure to anticipate the global financial crisis of 2008 – which, as you can see from Chart 1, led to an even bigger error in the forecast for UK government borrowing – has diminished it still further. Famously, even the Queen saw fit to put the profession on the
      spot, asking economists publicly why no-one had seen the crisis coming.

    • In the U.S. we are slowing emissions. Dramatically. Nobody that I know of has congratulated us on this. Certainly not Gavin.

      We should not be congratulated. Cutting CO2 does not help anyone and it does hurt many.

  38. Judith C says:

    “If I state that I value health, happiness and prosperity for everyone, plus world peace, does this help in any way?”

    Well, it should help in the Miss World contest :)

  39. John Robertson

    The best advice one could offer Gavin at Real Climate on communicating science, is don’t.
    Gavin helped convince me, that agenda trumpeted science.
    Personality matters, every comment on Real Climate conveyed a hostility to enquiry, the polar opposite of good science.
    My definition of a competent scientist, is one who can explain their work to the average 12 year old.
    Not what has been spewed forth from the IPCC experts.
    Then came the CRU emails, RC is a propaganda site, the team of approximately 52 experts are obsessed with the message, not very interested in doing science.
    Communicating “The science” is the least of, science as an institution,coming problems

  40. A recent USA Today/ Stanford poll has this result.
    “In a new survey, most Americans say global warming is happening and will seriously harm future generations, but only a third say it affects themselves a lot or a great deal.”
    In fact over 80% think climate change is somewhat or very serious.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/19/americans-global-warming/4127803/

    • Jim D | December 23, 2013 at 12:00 am said: “In a new survey, most Americans say global warming is happening and will seriously harm future generations”

      people think what they have being told to think; but when they realize that they have being fed lies – believing stops – retaliation starts. The truth always wins on the end, no propaganda prospered forever!!!

    • Put together with the HuffPost poll, it says they may not fully trust scientists and especially journalists, but the reality must get in anyway from their own observation.

  41. Count me in as one of the Denizens Latimer mentioned who was pushed into skepticism by Gavin Schmidt’s treatment at RC, where I found myself insulted and censored for criticism.

    Not long thereafter I commented on “The Schneider Quote” at Climate Sight blog and had almost all of my responses censored as inflammatory.

    http://climatesight.org/2009/04/12/the-schneider-quote/

    I see no reason to trust such people as anything other than as the worst sort of advocates with a “by any means necessary” mentality.

    • A lot of people seem to have had similar reactions to RC. I’ll admit that, the tone of the advocacy from RC and similar folks pushed me considerably further in the opposite direction than I might have gone otherwise. Given the comments here, I have to wonder to what extent RC has been responsible for creating, or at least motivating, its own opposition.

  42. Scientists might well devote themselves to “doing science”.

    Let the politicians “do politics”.

    Nature will do what Nature does, in spite of the best efforts of both scientists and politicians.

    It doesn’t matter where you live, if you are unlucky, Nature will find a way to screw you – drought, flood, earthquake, pestilence, riots, aeroplane parts falling from the sky, kimberlite pipes erupting through the crust at incredible speed . . ., the list goes on,

    Why waste a good worry about the average of weather changing? You’d be a fool to think you could stop it. If it looks like rain, take an umbrella, stay indoors, pray hard . . . , there are always choices.

    In the meantime . . .

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn

  43. Methane & CO2 are the new hammer & seacle

  44. Dr. Curry omitted at least one motive from her bullet list, something I wonder about a lot. All of that bullet list has to do with self-serving reasons. Is there some ideology here too? I’m not thinking of any will to power. God knows we hear about that alleged motivation every single day in the CE peanut gallery. Rather I’m thinking of those things that take the place of traditional religion for many people. Chief amongst these is environmentalism, which has its own list of absolutes and categorical imperatives.

    A senior thesis was required for graduation from my first college (which I did not do), and there was a tradition that your thesis would have a serious title and a wry subtitle. I remember one in particular:

    “High Altitude Adaptations in North American Conifers: Or, How to go Backpacking a Lot in College.”

    That college also had a great reputation for sending its graduates on to PhD programs in the sciences. I don’t know whether the backpacker went, but a lot like him surely did. It was a place chock full of treehuggers.

    The academy is chock full of treehuggers now. Hell I am a treehugger, though not as much as I once was, and these days my idea of primitive camping is a Red Roof Inn. But like I said, the academy is full of these people. Our faculty club hardly serves red meat anymore and one of two meals there is strictly vegetarian. These are the things VALUED by the academic set. Or at least, the vast majority of them.

    If a Christian refrains from having an abortion, we don’t generally try to pierce the veil of religion to try and find the self-serving inner reason for the behavior. Why do we do this with scientists? Because they are “secular” and don’t have any quasi-religious fervor of any kind? Sure. Right.

    • Yep. The default assumptions of the academic clerisy are pretty green, pretty anti-meat, pretty anti-industry, etc. If you really want to raise a fuss around the faculty club table, the next time some endangered species is in the way of development ask how many of them would ever know if it disappeared. Also you can raise some blood pressure by pointing out that backpacking and eco-tourism is a hindrance to preserving wilderness and suggesting that humans should just stay in dense settlements where their resource consumption per capita is lower. If you state it as a hypothetical academic argument they won’t be able to accuse you of trolling. Not that I would ever do something like that.

    • > If you state it as a hypothetical academic argument they won’t be able to accuse you of trolling.

      Of course they could.

      Counterfactual thinking is the best way to troll ourselves into thinking.

    • I used to think that environmentalism was a big motivator among climate scientists, but I no longer think this. Yes, we can find some ardent examples of environmentalism among climate scientists. But read the climate gate emails; did you find any sign of environmentalism there? I didn’t, but I found plenty of example of self-serving ‘values’

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      NW,

      That was an good comment.

      But I think another “religious-like” belief is a strong belief in Malthusian rational….. which inevitably is expressed as a need for ‘truly sustainable (fill in the blank)’. A related common thread is the belief that humanity, and especially its economic activities, most all of which require considerable energy, inevitably and irreversibly injure Earth’s ecosystems, and therefore are something that should be minimized. Ask a climate advocate how many people should be on Earth (or if you prefer, how many people Earth can ‘sustainably support’), and the answer will usually be a lot less than the 6+ billion alive at present. Of course, the more politically prudent of them will not give an answer, since a very low number suggests to many voters that it would be better if they and their families did not exist. That doesn’t go down well with most.

    • Dr Curry makes an excellent point that ambition is the driving source. However, this was revealed in the private emails. Steve F observes how Malthusian arguments have great impact on the public. Environmentalist described by NW behavior provides the right patina for street cred needed to convincingly spin tipping points and sustainability to the punters so no one would look behind the curtain where they game the system to claw to the top of the University heap.

      • My reading of the climategate emails is that they rarely if ever discuss ultimate motivators. The emails frequently discuss the maintenance or expansion of professional power. That could be thought of as the ultimate motive, but it could also be the means for achieving other ultimate ends.

        Marx, Nietzsche and Freud have colonized our minds pretty thoroughly, whether we read them or not. That’s why our folk psychology so easily defaults to power, money and sex as the ultimate motives that explain human behavior, and why we can so easily deride ideology and religion as mere masks–a ‘patina’ as Howard put it.

        There are two Nobel laureates who are economic historians. One of them is Bob Fogel, who in his younger years was one of the chief officers of the American Communist Party. At Chicago, Fogel was heavily influenced by Martin Marty, one of the great 20th century religious scholars. Fogel was eventually brought around to the view that economic materialism was a poor explanation of economic history; one of his later books is entitled “The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism,” which is his history of religion and US economic history.

        The other one is Doug North. This is a great quote from one of North’s books:

        “It is simply impossible to make sense out of history (or contemporary economies) without recognizing the central role that subjective preferences play in the context of formal institutional constraints that enable us to express our convictions at zero or very little cost. Ideas, organized ideologies, and even religious zealotry play major roles in shaping societies and economies.”

        My point is that some sophisticated people, after lifetimes of research on economic motives and forces, have come to doubt their primacy as ultimate movers. Even ones who began life as a communist. Even ones trained in economics.

    • > [S]ome sophisticated people, after lifetimes of research on economic motives and forces, have come to doubt their primacy as ultimate movers.

      Academic novelitsts also seem to agree:

      Intensity of experience is what we’re looking for, I think. We know we won’t find it at home any more, but there’s always the hope that we’ll find it abroad.

      As David Lodge would say, it’s a small world. There’s also a nice quote about our ultimate self-undoing, but it’s Christmas.

      ***

      I may never understand why we needed to read the CGs to reach the usual conclusions reached about them. Just posit stealth advocacy and engineerily derive all that is needed. Campus novels may also help. Heck, even reading our #ClimateBall games should be enough.

    • Since Newtonmas is coming to town, I’ll substantiate my “even reading our #ClimateBall games should be enough”:

      @lurker
      There’s an easy rule of thumb: We are career academics first, scientists later.

      Jan 25, 2013 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

      http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2013/1/25/uniform-priors-and-the-ipcc.html

    • Willard,

      Jewson’s comments on Bishop Hill are really good. Essentially the same points have been brought up on this site in threads on the work of Annan and Hargreaves, and in discussion on the AR4 WG1 Figure 9.20 and Chapter 9.6.2 initiated by Nic Lewis, but Jewson presents the arguments much better, and with more authority as far as that counts.

      The more I see of this discussion the more convinced I am that the results of the empirical work should not be presented as PDFs that are so dependent on the priors, but as likelihoods that are used in the Bayesian approach to create the posterior distribution from the prior. There are limits on the possibility of doing that, as the likelihood is actually a function of all model parameters: climate sensitivity, ocean diffusivity, and aerosol forcing strength in the case of papers of Forest et al and of Nic Lewis. Thus getting the Figure 9.20 that represents results in terms of climate sensitivity requires integrating over the other two parameters making the result dependent on their prior distribution.

      With the above reservation I would accept the Figure 9.20 making it very clear that it’s not a PDF, but a representation of what those particular analyses based on empirical data can tell. Getting a PDF requires in addition the choice of prior. On this point I agree with Jewson, Annan, and Lewis that a uniform prior in climate sensitivity (S) does not make sense. Furthermore I agree with Annan that the most reasonable expert prior dependence on S is 1/S^2 for large S, i.e. my preference for large S is for a stronger cutoff than that of Jeffreys’ prior (1/S). My view is based on the idea that the basic idea of a feedback model is valid, and that the prior for the feedback should not diverge when approaching the value 1. How the prior should behave at smaller S is another question. Annan proposes Cauchy formula, but I might look for something else.

      The justification for the Jeffreys’ prior is in my view purely operational. Jewson formulates that:

      Harold Jeffreys grappled with the problem of uniform priors in the 1930s, came up with the Jeffreys’ prior (well, I guess he didn’t call it that), and wrote a book about it. It fixes all the above problems: it gives results which are coordinate independent and so not arbitrary in that sense, it gives sensible results that agree with other methods when applied to simple models, and it’s used in statistics and many other fields.

      I don’t accept that justification as valid for this kind of question.

      As far as I can see it’s not really true that the results obtained from Jeffreys’ prior are coordinate independent for problems like discussed here. They are independent on coordinate transformations in the parameter space, but they are dependent on coordinates (or measure) in the space of empirical observations. Thus I don’t think that even the issue of coordinate dependence is solved at fundamental level at all.

      Jewson ends his comment:

      ps: if you go to your local statistics department, 50% of the statisticians will agree with what I’ve written above. The other 50% will agree that uniform priors are rubbish, but will say that JP is rubbish too, and that you should give up trying to use any kind of noninformative prior. This second 50% are the subjective Bayesians, who say that probability is just a measure of personal beliefs. They will tell you to make up your own prior according to your prior beliefs. To my mind this is a non-starter in climate research, and maybe in science in general, since it removes all objectivity. That’s another debate that climate scientists need to get ready to be having over the next few years.

      As a physicist, not a statistician, I would say that the choice of prior must be based on arguments from physical sciences, not on views on statisticians, and even less when the arguments are not totally correct (i.e. Jeffreys’ prior is not uniquely defined, but can be changed by changing measure in the space of observations). In science the quest is for most correct results. The scientists should be as objective as they can, but an apparently and partially objective that gets its objectivity from being less controllable rather than more correct, is not proper tool in that. Scientists must understand the input and make choices based on that.

    • Pekka,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Jewson & Lewis position that unless you’re an objective bayesian you throw science out the window looks more like a battle cry than a factual claim.

      And speaking of Annan:

      Nic, you are still confusing the issue with interpretations of probability.

      A prior is a prior probability distribution, because this is what Bayes’ Theorem and the axioms of probability require. How you interpret this probability is up to you, but the fact that it is probability is not up for debate. None of your references provide any support for you to dispute that a prior is a prior probability distribution.

      http://julesandjames.blogspot.ca/2013/02/yet-more-on-uniform-priors-and.html?showComment=1362089229021#c5787516431754745694

      By silently fading out of the conversation after this comment, Nic did not accomplish any parresiastic tour de force.

    • Willard,

      Jewson made it very clear that many others disagree with him. Thus there’s not much to complain in his texts.

      I do, however, wonder why so little emphasis is the point that the dependence on coordinate system is not removed by the objective Bayesian approach with Jeffreys’ priors, but only shifted from coordinate system of parameters to the coordinate system (or measure) of observations.

      In the spirit of Annan’s response the issue is relatively easy to handle for one parameter, but the issue becomes much more difficult when the joint likelihood distribution of several parameters links the parameter values to each other, as it does in case of ECS and aerosol forcing as well as ECS and deep ocean diffusivity. The tighter we constrain the other parameters by priors the more sharply peak we get for the likelihood function of ECS. Similarly the more our prior weighs some unlikely values for the other parameters the more distorted may be the likelihood function for ECS.

      This issue was discussed by both Forest et al and by Nic Lewis, but was it discussed sufficiently, I don’t know. This is to me the main problem as the role of prior in the variable of most interest is easier to understand and handle.

    • It seems that twinous knot can be sliced through with improving observations and development of theory. I submit modeling has a role, but not the main role.
      =============

  45. Curry raised the issue of the dice analogy, I merely commented on the effect of new data on that analogy. Why am I censored?

  46. Are these AAAS “advocacy guidelines” for real? Very funny. Well, it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.They actually need to make the point that one should:
    “Point out the weakness and limitations of your argument, including data that conflict with your recommendations;”??? Geez that’s a tough one. :)

    lol.

    More like a guideline for “How to be a basic scientist 101″.

    Interestingly, gavin fails this completely and hides it simultaneously by pointing out various tit for tat weaknesses and limitations which never end up actually conflicting his orthodoxy. It’s like a form of art.

  47. Dr. Curry with respect, what the heck does this even mean ???

    “The failures of climate advocacy – particularly in the US – are motivating reflection on responsible and effective advocacy.”

    What exactly is the climate science community advocating? Should we have a climate? (“We” do in fact have many, Arctic Tundra, Desert, Rainforest, etc.) How stable would “We” like it to be? Who decides? Who measures exactly how “stable” it is (the track record WRT measurement of the “climate” frankly “stinks”). Who arbitrates what climate some folks must accept to make others happy with their climate? When exactly did the “climate” science community assume ownership of the “climate”? Did others agree that one very small part of the whole community should be “in charge” of the climate?

    I’ve never agreed to take on the massive (actually impossible) task of “controlling” the climate, and I do not remember acquiescing to the notion that a (frankly) very small select set of our population should be entrusted with “controlling” the climate.

    So far the climate science community cannot even predict what the climate will do. That should not be a surprise since any engineer worth their “salt” would not even venture a guess what the heck will happen in a few decades WRT weather.

    I do respectfully suggest that the climate science community needs to reflect long and hard about “WHO THE HECK PUT YOU IN CHARGE OF THE CLIMATE” ??????? Sure, if you have some observations that you really believe in you should communicate those to the rest of us, but you need to be pretty “d__m” sure you have it correct before you claim “control” of the climate we all share.

    Cheers, Kevin, Happy Holidays.

  48. crap. I totally missed my chance to make a ghost of christmas past joke.

  49. Again and again I come back to the amazingly prescient farewell speech, the now famous Military- Industrial Complex speech of American President Dwight D Eisenhower in 1961.
    It is not the Military -Industrial complex section of the speech which holds my attention but another lesser known and in these times and situations a far more relevant part of that speech that I admire for it’s far sighted prescience;

    To quote;
    “Today the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
    and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

    It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”
    [ end quote]

    Science through it’s own actions is descending into an abyss of the loss of public respect.
    A hundred and fifty years ago an unwritten and unformulated contract was slowly negotiated between Science and society.
    Society agreed to fund Science and granted the practitioners of Science a large and generous portion of it’s largesse.
    Society also granted Science the freedom to roam to the limits of the mind and intellect with few limits and few strings attached, a consideration granted to almost no other sector in our societies or civilisation.
    In return Science undertook as it’s prime aim to do it’s utmost to advance civilisation and to improve and better of the lives of Earth’s citizens.

    Society has upheld it’s end of the bargain in a most generous and exemplary fashion, showering a good portion of it’s limited resources onto Science.

    Until a couple of decades ago Science also upheld it’s end of the bargain and we see the results of that today in the way our civilisation and so many aspects of our personal lives have improved over the decades.

    But now Science has abandoned society and humanity and it’s aims to improve the lot of humanity and has become an advocate for an increasingly anti-human, pro Gaian philosophy and an advocate for the winding down and for some in science the advocating for the destruction of civilisation and of humanity’s drive to better it’s lot through the use of the abundance of resources that nature has so generously endowed this planet with.

    Yet even in the strident openness of it’s now stated, open and current anti-humanity policies most evident in the CAGW meme, Science still expects to maintain that unfettered ability to go where it wishes both intellectually and practically with no control being exercised by global society, the same society that science is now advocating must be forced to accept much lower living standards to meet Science’s advocacy aims. a And this for a society that has been so generous over some half dozen generations in endowing the same Science with the financial wherewithal that has allowed it this unfettered intellectual and practical exploration of the phenomena that is Nature in all it’s complexity.

    In short Science has now turned and is savagely biting the very hand that has so generously fed it for so long but still arrogantly demands and expects to continue to be lavishly financed, coddled, loved and respected.

    Well perhaps it might surprise the naive advocate scientists that society has news for you and it ain’t good.
    Unless you fundamentally change the very attitudes and anti-human advocacy ways those in many parts of science have adopted over the last couple of decades, you are destined to suffer a societal reaction that will set back Science and the advancement of civilisation by decades.
    It has already started to happen but as in so many similar situations, in Science “there are none so blind as those who do not wish to see”.

  50. “. . . because without honesty there is no possibility of being effective in a sustainable and responsible way.”

    The key word here is ‘sustainable’.

    Big Fat Lie’s wrapped around grains of truth are an effective way to sell short term policy solutions.

    We only have to look at the US health care debacle to see the difference between ‘short term’ and ‘long term’. The ‘keep your health plan’ lie lasted for 3 years..even though anyone who actually read the law knew it was a lie.

  51. I have no problem with individual scientists being advocates. My problem with them is that they’re neglecting an important aspect of advocacy: Debating. As a poor schmuck who’s going to be asked to sacrifice so that future generations “might” have a better climate, I expect better then this (starting@5:45):

    If he cares so much about his cause and his case is so airtight, why not debate? Why let his opponent go unchallenged?

  52. Hans Stocker:

    Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
    Judith:

    Even if you believe that CO2 is the dominant control knob on climate change on timescales of decades to centuries, how is it a ‘fact’ to state that this must be dealt with by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (rather than by adaption, carbon sequestration or geoengineering)?

    Adaptation is not a way of limiting climate change, it is an alternative to it. Sequestration of CO2 at source (assuming it is actually technically feasible) is a way of reducing emissions. “Yes but geoengineering” is pretty meaningless unless you actually have a specific and workable scheme in mind.

    • David Springer

      Geo-engineering climate is at least as feasible as getting enough world-wide cooperation to limit CO2 emission enough to make a whit of difference. You don’t seem to grok the political reality on the ground. It isn’t politically possible to limit CO2 emission enough to make a difference. The only way to accomplish that is through science and engineering. A more economical source of energy that is carbon-neutral to keep civilization’s critical infrastructure running and growing will have no problem gaining universal acceptance as a replacement for fossil fuels. A less economical replacement won’t happen until there is no other choice and as long as there is more in the ground to harvest there will remain a choice. Get the political reality of the situation assimilated into your world view fercrisakes.

    • @David

      “It isn’t politically possible to limit CO2 emission enough to make a difference. ”

      Nor is it PHYSICALLY possible to limit CO2 emission enough to make a difference, even if the actual reduction were 100%.

      What will the TOE be in 50 years if our ‘climate policy’ is to officially ignore climate?

      What will the TOE be in 50 years if we eliminate ACO2?

      Would the ‘difference’ achieved be measurable–or desirable?

    • David Springer,

      Yes, of course there are real political (and practical) obstacles to reducing emissions. Sometimes human beings manage to overcome such obstacles and achieve meaningful change. That doesn’t mean it will actually happen in this case but there is a lot a stake and we shouldn’t just give up, throw up our hands and say “there’s nothing we can do”.

    • David Springer

      Andrew I suggest you familiarize yourself with cost/benefit analyses of the Copenhagen Consensus which seeks to prioritize spending on a most bang for the buck basis. Climate change is far down on the list of practical undertakings for the greater good. You might as well wish for an end to war as wish for a radical reduction in global CO2 emission. Both are equally possible in theory and equally impossible in reality.

    • David Springer

      Bob Ludwick | December 23, 2013 at 9:49 am |

      “Nor is it PHYSICALLY possible to limit CO2 emission enough to make a difference, even if the actual reduction were 100%.”

      I don’t accept your implication that anthropogenic CO2 emission has no significant effect on global climate. I accept it as a possibility but reject it as a fact.

    • @ David

      “I don’t accept your implication that anthropogenic CO2 emission has no significant effect on global climate. I accept it as a possibility but reject it as a fact.”

      On what basis? Theory or observation? Since current climate is well within the bounds of historical climate, why has it become axiomatic that ACO2 is having a significant effect? And that the effects are so dangerous that the world needs to adopt measures to control ACO2?

      Further, I asked two questions in an attempt to establish the bounds of our control over a half century: Upper temp: Produce CO2 as justified economically, with NO consideration as to its effect on climate or Lower temp: reduce ACO2 to zero, by whatever means necessary. Neither was answered.

      Obviously, if the effect of ACO2 on the TOE is in the range of 1-2 C., then any ‘climate policy’ that we mandate to control ACO2 short of total elimination will reduce the potential rise in the TOE by LESS than that amount. So why bother? Has someone made a convincing argument that a rise of the TOE by a degree or so, whether or not it is caused by ACO2, is so dangerous that it requires ‘stern measures’ such as control of ACO2 and/or geoengineering to prevent it?

      Also unanswered is KevinK’s question: Who died and left about 20 climate scientists in charge of decreeing the ‘ideal’ TOE, brooking no discussion, and, in collusion with the politicians who pay them, taxing and regulating every aspect of OUR lives in their quixotic mission to establish and stabilize it?

    • David Springer

      Calm down and stop putting words in my mouth, Bob.

      I said I considered it a possibility that that anthropogenic CO2 has a significant effect on world climate. If you’ll be so kind as to provide the evidence you believe makes it impossible I’ll give it due consideration.

  53. My impression is that Gavin does recognize on a general level all the main problems of communication and advocacy by scientists, but fails to accept the severity of the problems and the difficulty of following proposed practices.

    His comment on Stocker’s statement is a case in point. As Andrew Adams writes above, the statement is a factually correct rephrasing of results of AR5 when taken literally, but not Stocker himself nor anyone else should think that the statement will be taken in such a formal way. It’s fully clear that it’s taken as normative, not solely as a expression of fact. Somewhere in the middle of a lengthier presentation the same sentence might be purely factual, here it’s advocacy.

    The fine ideals lead to stated goals only if the people who try to follow them succeed in seeing better, how their statements are perceived by the audience. Making formulations that are formally objective but are perceived differently is a very common way of self-deception by the speakers. (Personally I have often given talks where I try to express fairly differing views, and telling explicitly where I present my personal views. I’m, however, left worrying, whether I was really as objective as I tried to be.)

    I agree fully by the quoted statement of Stephen Schneider and the addition of Gavin, but few people are capable of following properly the excellent principle. Here again I perceive a lot of self-deception from scientists on both sides of the controversy. (I.e. both those who consider scientific results strong enough to support strong action, and those who emphasize uncertainties and recommend postponing all major action.)

    Therefore I used the word “idealistic” in my comment yesterday.

    • Pekka Pirila,

      This sentence confirms your bias, IMO:

      (I.e. both those who consider scientific results strong enough to support strong action, and those who emphasize uncertainties and recommend postponing all major action.)

      If you had said the following instead, it would not have revealed a bias one way or the other:

      (I.e. both those who consider scientific results strong enough to support strong action, and those who don’t.)

    • Peter,

      I admit “advocacy” in my formulation. I made a formulation more likely to lead to a reaction in readers mind. It seems that I succeeded at some level.

    • Pekka,
      I think there are two considerations regarding Stocker’s statement – firstly whether, as he says, avoiding climate change specifically implies reducing emissions, and the question whether his statement implies that this is desirable. Judith objected on both points and my objection to her objection just concerned the first as it’s totally uncontroversial from a scientific viewpoint that to prevent AGW from ocurring it is necessary to reduce emissions.
      On the second point, I can see how one could see an implied suggestion that action to prevent AGW is desirable, otherwise why mention it at all. However, if this constitutes “advocacy” then the definition is being drawn so widely as to pretty much encompass any statement made by scientists about the wider implications of their work for our society. In which case the relevant question regarding advocacy would seem to me not to be “yes or no” so much as “how much”. I mean can you really expect scientists to communicate their findings to the public without expressing any view about whether the implications might be “good” or “bad”. Surely effective communication depends to an extent on some kind of empathy between the speaker and the audience, which includes acknowledging shared values and concerns? Of course they need to avoid making assumptions which might not be shared by certain parts of their audience, but surely the way we organise our society, our political system, laws etc are based on the notion that there are certain values which are universal and recognised by all of us. Anyway, given the nature of the climate change debate I think it’s virtually impossible to avoid absolutely any criticism and I think it would be wrong to go too far in attempting to do so at the expense of actually communicating anything meaningful at all.
      Ultimately, I don’t quite buy Judith’s argument that “value judgements are nothing to do with science”. Science is an activity conducted by human beings which has a wider impact on our society. Of course it should be conducted in an honest and objective manner (that’s a value judgement in itself) but I don’t see how it can be totally divorced from human values.

    • Sorry, that comment did have paragraphs in it when I drafted it.

    • David Springer

      andrew adams | December 23, 2013 at 7:14 am |

      “it’s totally uncontroversial from a scientific viewpoint that to prevent AGW from ocurring it is necessary to reduce emissions”

      That’s wrong on more than one level. First of all there are many geo- engineering options on the table that don’t involve reducing emissions. They are generally either removing CO2 after the fact (which I believe is inevitable as soon as the technology to build durable goods out of atmospheric carbon via synthetic biology matures) or reflecting enough sunlight away from the surface to negate whatever amount of GHG effect is desired. Second it may simply be wrong that anthropogenic CO2 emission has any detectable “climate change” effect at all.

    • David Springer, how do you remove atmospheric CO2? The atmosphere is in direct contact with the oceans and any reduction in atmospheric CO2 would create a pCO2 gradient at the water/air interface. The oceans would simply outgas any removed CO2 from the atmosphere.

    • David Springer,

      The kind of geoengineering solutions you mention are years, decades even, away even if they are feasible at all. If we want to prevent AGW from occuring as far as possible then currently emissions reductions are the only option on the table. And even if the lowest credible estimates of climate sensitivity are correct there will still be a detectable influence on the climate. Whether people want to do something about that or not is another question, the point is what are the options if they do.

    • Andrew,

      There are several issues to consider:
      – What’s ethically and morally right taking into account various aspects of ethics and moral?
      – How the scientist should take into account the possibility that her message may be factually erroneous or widely interpreted in a way that’s erroneous?
      – How a scientist can be most influential in getting her message trough?
      – How the behavior of one scientist affects the status of science and the influence science has on decision-making?

      One important point is that the “scientization” of policy discourse that Gavin criticizes is often presented using formally correct statements about scientific knowledge but with the deliberate aim of misleading the audience. That a statement is formally correct does not imply that it’s generally interpreted correctly or that’s even the purpose that it’s interpreted correctly.

      The statement of Stocker is factually correct, formally it does not advocate for any specific policy, but to me it appears clear that most who watch that video interpret it as advocating for mitigation, and that this is probably also the message what both Stocker and the authors of the video wished to deliver.

      I don’t think that this is stealth advocacy that should be condemned. making that statement is not ethically or morally wrong. IPCC authors can certainly by policy advocates at this level. Whether presenting that statement is good or bad for the status and influence of science is another question, probably it has practically no effect on that.

      My main concern is that denying that this kind of comments contain policy advocacy works against success in reaching as well as possible all the positive goals that scientists should have. The statement is not really misleading, but thinking that it’s not advocacy is misleading to the people who think that way.

    • Hah, Pekka, but don’t you love the ones trying to twist themselves into sounding persuasive that it is not advocacy? Better than slapstick.
      ===================

    • David, you write “Second it may simply be wrong that anthropogenic CO2 emission has any detectable “climate change” effect at all.”

      Not quite. Let me rewrite this, my capitals.

      “Second it IS simply wrong that anthropogenic CO2 emission has any detectable “climate change” effect at all.”

    • I see your point, but if we agree that Stocker’s statement was perfectly acceptable but still consider it to be “advocacy” then I guess the question of whether or not scientists should be advocates becomes moot and we are left with the question of what constitues the “acceptable” extent of advocacy by scientists. I do agree with your list of points that scientists need to consider, I don’t think it differs much from what Gavin was saying.

      When you say

      One important point is that the “scientization” of policy discourse that Gavin criticizes is often presented using formally correct statements about scientific knowledge but with the deliberate aim of misleading the audience. That a statement is formally correct does not imply that it’s generally interpreted correctly or that’s even the purpose that it’s interpreted correctly.

      I’m not sure what examples you have in mind, but I do think there is certainly a danger in the policy discourse of confusing evidence of a particular problem with evidence for a specific solution, even if there is no actual intent to mislead. This is the case with a lot of issues, not just climate change, but to the extent that it does happen with climate change my perception is that scientists are more careful about this than others who take part in the policy discourse.

    • David Springer

      Edim,

      If emitting CO2 can increase its partial pressure in the atmosphere then absorbing it can reduce the partial pressure. One cannot be true without the other being true. Do you deny that anthropogenic emission of CO2 raises the partial pressure of it in the atmosphere?

      Andrew,

      Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 can be accomplished by planting trees. In point of fact the United States rejected the Kyoto Protocol because in the draft version we were supposed to get credits for reforestation. But then when the extent of the credit was considered and US plans for upping the scale of reforestation efforts, especially overseas, the credit was removed.

      That said, the negative impact of anthropogenic global warming are not anticipated until said warming exceeds 2C. It’s conceded by even bandwagon climate science that upside exceeds downside until that point. That point is decades in the future. What is unlikely to be decades in the future is advances in synthetic biology which would allow us to create photosynthetic critters which literally eat CO2 and piss diesel and do it on non-arable land using non-potable water. That alone makes fossil fuel obsolete and gives us a carbon neutral replacement that works with existing infrastructure. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That same technology (synthetic biology) can produce microorganisms which produce durable finished goods using carbon compounds (wood is a carbon compound but there are zillions of other useful carbon based materials) in the same fashion needing only atmospheric carbon, non-arable land, and non-potable water. I consider this technology an inevitability that will arrive long before anthropogenic climate change shifts from benefit to detriment. Mark my words. Before the end of this century there will be laws limiting how much CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere instead of laws limiting how much may be added. And we’ll have exactly the same problem of those laws not being politically possible on a global basis.

    • David Springer

      P.S. Andrew

      Genetically modified organisms that eat CO2 and piss diesel using non-arable land and non-potable water are already a reality.

      http://joulefuels.com/

      At least watch the video. Big players. 3M and Dow are making bioreactors. Fluor is building the first commercial scale plant. Audi is funding it. George Church is perhaps the world’s foremost geneticist and directs the genetic engineering. The board of directors reads like a Who’s Who in all the relevant areas of industry and academia.

      This is the future of energy and it’s just the tip of the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible when engineers have the ability to cut & paste together custom microorganisms with abilities that nature already discovered and tested through natural evolution over billions of years and then program said synthetic organisms to accomplish practical tasks for their creators. The opportunities for engineers to exploit are mind boggling in scope and scale. This technology is perhaps more singly transformative for civilization than anything that came before with the possible exception of language and writing.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      “Genetically modified organisms that eat CO2 and piss diesel using non-arable land and non-potable water are already a reality.”
      ____
      I am pretty sure I saw a couple of them hanging out down at the truck stop– standing next to their rusted out Ford F100.

    • R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist

      “Second it IS simply wrong that anthropogenic CO2 emission has any detectable “climate change” effect at all.”
      —–
      This is a good example of what could be called denialist thinking as opposed to honest skeptical thought. This is why the term denier should not be removed from the dialog simply because some find it offensive. There are skeptics and there are deniers, and honest skeptics should appreciate the distinction.

    • David Springer

      Jim Cripwell | December 23, 2013 at 9:15 am |

      “Second it IS simply wrong that anthropogenic CO2 emission has any detectable “climate change” effect at all.”

      Your certainty is neither warranted nor a positive reflection on your mental acuity.

    • David Springer

      R. Gates aka Skeptical Warmist | December 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm |

      “I am pretty sure I saw a couple of them hanging out down at the truck stop– standing next to their rusted out Ford F100.”

      Oh ye of little faith. Science and engineering will win the day.

    • Tinkering with the timing.
      =======

  54. Anytime a small scientific “truth” (CO2 is a greenhouse gas) is expanded into a large scientific “speculation” (we’re all going to burn up and die if we don’t drown first) and that speculation is presented to the general public as fact, credibility is bound to be diminished. When the “speculation” is buttressed by fraudulent studies of sweltering penguins, stranded polar bears, imaginary hockey-sticks, dead squirrels in the park, etc., scientific credibility evaporates. How can that be so difficult for the scientific community to understand?

    For some of the worst scientific offenders to now wrap themselves in cloaks of “ethical and moral complexity” now that the unpleasant fruits of their labors begin to rain down on them seems to me the height of mendacity.

  55. Scientists are no more immune to the self-reinforcing narratives that sweep through societies than anyone else. Hence, unless they have almost certain proof (e.g. identified cholera bugs in water, say), then they should attempt to avoid advocacy altogether. Had climate scientists exercised this caution, there would never have been a foothold for the CAGW narrative to get started in the first place. Once such narratives do get started, they rapidly leave real science behind, and mobilise vast resources that essentially must have a target, any target. Continued advocacy simply makes the problem worse, amplifying unhelpful narrative threads that impenetrably cloud the reality beneath.

  56. I think the problem climate scientists ran into was/is economic. They assumed they had a capital account of credibility to spend, and that it was sufficient to purchase acceptance of their position by the public. What they didn’t appreciate was the price of that acceptance: it was/is much higher than they thought, and the accounts have been overdrawn. It will take many deposits, with few sources of income, to refill them. Many are bankrupt and continue to spend, but find their creditors are getting tough.
    Some, like Gavin, are hovering on the brink of bankruptcy and appear not to know it.

    And so it goes.

  57. What are my values? Represent them fairly.

    I wondered what that meant. What are my values? I have lost of them, and they don’t sit up in an ordered hierarchy — at least I don’t think they do. What sits up, or jumps out, of my set depends a lot on the context. In the ‘climate change’ debate the one that sits up a lot is a high regard for intellectual honesty, and that comes from fifty years and more of working in universities.

    The list that you give, Judith, in response to Gavin’s comment, didn’t occur to me at all. That doesn’t mean that they are wrong or irrelevant — only that I think in a different ay.

  58. Oh dear — ‘I have lots of them’

  59. The survey linked to above is only as good as the venue it appeared, i.e., Huffington Post. This is true, at least, with regards to the first question.

    The question goes: Generally speaking, how much trust do you have that what scientists say is accurate and reliable?

    The choices offered are: A lot, a little, not at all, not sure.

    What if I ‘trusted scientists’ (whatever that is), but not a lot? I’d be forced to pick ‘a little’ as my answer, even though the trust level is more than just ‘a little’. This effect would work the other way too: even though I trust scientists, I don’t trust them a lot. But I would pick it as my answer because I trust them more than just ‘a little’.

    Framing survey questions with such false dichotomizations results in loss of information. To proceed to take such answers literally obscures things further.

    Put the question in inverse, as reported by Leiserowitz et al 2013 in their paper ‘Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust':

    >Despite the decline, however, scientists (74%) remained much more trusted than weather reporters (56%), President Obama (51%), Al Gore (47%), religious leaders (45%) or the mainstream media (36%) as sources of information on global warming.

    Combine this with a more balanced question from the YouGov survey:

    >A whopping 78 percent of Americans think that information reported in scientific studies is often (34 %) or sometimes (44 %) influenced by political ideology, compared to only 18 percent who said that happens rarely (15 %) or never (3 %).

    Taken together, these results say that the ‘general public’ have quite a sophisticated understanding of scientists, with a reasonable amount of blanket trust (>30% is actually enormous), a traditionally mainstream placement in the hierarchy of trust (i.e., above politicians and journalists) coupled ironically with an awareness that science can be tainted by political ideology.

    The lessons (for the marketing geniuses who’re after this type of information) are clear: scientists command respect and trust, but, as science and scientists are recruited as vehicles of promulgation of objectives of the state or orthodoxy, in hopes of exploiting this trust, their effects become visible and the ‘trust’ levels correspondingly drop. Or, at the least, the communication fails to achieve its objectives.

    • I actually agree with much of that analysis, but it’s worth remembering that these kind of surveys tell us as much about the people who respond to them as about the subjects themselves. If someone claims that science is tainted by political ideology maybe it is actually their view of science which is tainted.

      One also has to be wary of taking a survey relating to a subject (ie science) which is very broad in nature and applying it specifically to one narrow area of that subject. It’s fine to say that climate science (and indeed other disciplines) should take heed of the public’s perception of science and scientists, but we can’t assume that any particular scientific discipline is responsible for these perceptions.

    • David Springer

      Absent from the poll is breakdown by scientific discipline. For instance I’d be willing to bet that computer scientists garner far more public trust than climate scientists. Social sciences in general I’d wager get far less respect than natural sciences as a general rule. Any science with outputs of interest to culture warriors has a strike against it from the word go.

    • > The choices offered are: A lot, a little, not at all, not sure.

      There is evidence that surveys with only four choices were seldom invalid. But I have not checked, have no idea what to make of it, and can’t find it anyway.

    • The Patron Saint of Climate Science is Dr. Floyd Ferris.

    • Shub:

      People are inherently distrustfull
      of salesmen, or anyone with an obvious agenda. For science to remain
      trustworthy, it must be strictly obective and detached, which of course
      rules out advocacy of any kind.

      Just do the research and present the facts as known, together with any
      known limitations in the knowledge, then let the politicians decide what
      to do with it.

      If only it were so easy…

      Chris

  60. David Springer

    Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future. Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    I don’t find this to be advocacy. The first sentence is a belief which may or may not be true but it does not advocate any particular action or response. The second is simply a statement of what “we” (I’m not sure who he represents with “we”) believe are required to limit climate change caused by greenhouse gases.

    Even in the second sentence I find nothing that advocates for any particular action or response. Let’s take the position that climate is changing in a way that’s a net benefit to civilization in particular and the biosphere in general. I believe that to be true as polar ice caps and periodic descents into mile-thick glaciers covering a lot of the northern hemisphere are not typical of the earth’s long history nor is it conducive to either life in general or civilization in particular. CO2 fertilizes the atmosphere for plants which are the primary producers in the food chain, its warming effect is empirically shown to be most effective in higher latitudes in the winter which lengthens growing seasons and reduces glacial advance. More CO2 causes plants to require less fresh water per unit of growth. Sea level rise is neither swift nor alarming nor much faster than historic norms for later stage interglacial periods. And there’s no arguing except from a misanthropic position that fossil fuel have not enabled and are critical to sustaining a human population of some 7 billion people.

    Stocker’s statement has no impact whatsoever on climate change response policy because, as it should, he does not say climate change is bad or good but rather only states a belief (among those he purports to represent) of what is causing climate change and how to prevent it. I don’t find much to support either of those bits as factual but holding mistaken beliefs is not in and of itself advocacy.

    • David L. Hagen

      The advocacy is implied. Only one option is offered:
      “Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
      No mention is made of adaptation. The advocacy is shown by a more detailed statement detailing options and comparing them.
      To be neutral would have required something like:
      “Most global warming models predict major warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. 95% of these projections are higher than actual temperatures over the last 34 year period.
      Humans can ignore anthropogenic global warming (aka “climate change”), adapt to it, and/or mitigate it. Limiting anthropogenic global warming would require sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Adapting to climate change appears to be less expensive than limiting anthropogenic greenhouse emissions.”

    • David Springer

      Adaptation is not in the set of things that limit climate change, David. It’s in the set of things that limit the impact of climate change. Try again.

    • David:

      >> I don’t find this to be advocacy.

      You can wrap it up any way you like in justification, but the subtext is obvious to anyone who has been following the debate.

      Emotive and loaded keywords “greenhouse gas”, “climate change”, “substantial”, “reduction”, “emissions”, all in the same paragraph ?.

      Not to mention the arrogance of “we conclude”. Is the Royal we, or what ?…

      Chris

    • Kanute’s fated to eternal vigil of the seascape; CAGW alarmists are his modern sycophants.
      =============

    • David Springer

      Emotive and loaded keywords “greenhouse gas”, “climate change”, “substantial”, “reduction”, “emissions”, all in the same paragraph ?.

      The emotion you read into other people’s words is usually your own.

      Write that down.

  61. I had a discussion in the IDFA a few years ago. The is no double bind, scientists who do scary scenarios are deeply unethical. And Gavin censors on realclimate.

  62. Pingback: Gavin Schmidt and Judith Curry on Science Advocacy | My view on climate change

  63. I think Judith Curry misses the mark on several points:

    Stocker’s statement is of the form “if A is the goal, then B is what needs to be done to achieve it”. That’s a factual statement (inasmuch as it’s correct). It would be a normative statement of it were of the form “We need to do B”.

    His statement is not dependent at all on whether climate change is good or bad, so that’s a strawman argument.

    Whether other response strategies besides mitigation would also limit climate change (and thus deeming the above statement incomplete): either no (adaptation) or to a limited (CCS) or risky (SRM) extent. Stocker’s statement could have been made more specific to account for that, though in broad strokes I’d argue it is correct.

    The “list of potential hidden (and inconvenient) values” go at least as much in the direction of downplaying than overplaying AGW imho.

    More detailed criticism: http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/gavin-schmidt-and-judith-curry-on-science-advocacy/

    • Bart’s voice is changing, but I’m worried about his ‘good and bad’.
      ===============

    • David Springer

      +1 for Bart

      My sediments exactly. Well not exactamundo but pretty close.

    • What I like best about his statement on the video is the reference to models and observations. Let me paraphrase. We had observations. We tuned the models (our hypothese) to fit the observations. That the models (hypotheses) fit the observations proves we are correct.

      His statement is clearly advocating a position. You can argue that it isn’t based upon the text but any rational human watching the video would come to the same conclusion. Body language and voice inflections do count.

    • Let me paraphrase. We had observations. We tuned the models (our hypothese) to fit the observations.

      Those are curve fits and not models.

  64. I put this comment on the wrong thread. Let me repeat it.

    I have been trying to make point on Climate Etc and elsewhere. There is no empirical data that shows that adding CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels has any appreciable effect. There is no CO2 signal in any modern temperature/time graph, and no signal in the OHC data.

    If scientists have no empirical data then they should STFU.

    • sure there is plenty of data. you just refuse to see it.

    • Jim, if you want a randomized controlled trial, of course that will not be forthcoming. But there are large areas of science that depend on a combination of observational evidence and (say) physical understanding from the laboratory, like astronomy and astrophysics. What exactly distinguishes the empirical status of causal claims in astrophysics from the empirical status of causal claims in climate science? It would help me (and others I think) to better appreciate what you say if you could make a convincing case that these differ, and show in what way.

    • NW, you write ” What exactly distinguishes the empirical status of causal claims in astrophysics from the empirical status of causal claims in climate science?”

      Billions of dollars. If physicists what to do hypothetical estimations in astrophysics, or any other subject for that matter, and they don’t insist on our politicians wasting my taxpayer dollars trying to solve a problem that does not exist, I am not going to complain. But if a bunch of con artists selling snake oil, persuade the government that I elected to waste billions of dollars, then I object.

      Hydro rates in Ontario, where I live, have been rising precipitously simply because our government insists on pouring billions of dollars in to wind and solar electricity generation, and closing the coal fired generators. Modern, virtually pollution free, coal fired generators are one of the cheapest ways of generating electricity, and this policy is driving our industrial production to other jurisdictions.

      When my taxpayer dollar is at risk, I demand the highest standards in physics. And when I comes to CAGW these simply do no exist. CAGW is a hypothesis, and will remain a hypothesis until the value of climate sensitivity has actually been measured. Period. When you add that now we are getting the actual empirical data as to what is happening to global temperatures as we pour more and more CO2 in to the atmosphere, then I demand even more stringency. Because there is no CO2 signal anywhere, despite all the fossil fuels we are consuming.

    • Steven, you write “sure there is plenty of data. you just refuse to see it.”

      As usual, you either inadvertently, or deliberately, misquote what I wrote. I did not write “data”. I wrote “empirical data”. Produce for me the empirical data that measures the climate sensitivity of CO2, however defined, and then let us discuss data. Not before.

    • There really is plenty of data. It just does not indicate there is a problem. Temperatures are well inside the bounds of the past ten thousand years.

    • David Springer

      Jim Cripwell | December 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm |

      “Billions of dollars. If physicists what to do hypothetical estimations in astrophysics, or any other subject for that matter, and they don’t insist on our politicians wasting my taxpayer dollars trying to solve a problem that does not exist, I am not going to complain.”

      You’re ignorant of the costs of big physics, Jim. I suggest you read up on the many billions in taxpayer funding behind the search for the Higgs Boson and then try to figure out what practical benefit might be associated with the finding of it so we can do a cost/benefit analysis. And don’t get me started on things like the Hubble Space Telescope which has cost many billions and produces nothing except pretty pictures of things that do not have nor will ever have any practical import. Human curiosity being what it is there’s a place for things like that but the public treasure directed towards it needs to be constantly contrasted with things of practical import like curing disease, poverty, the ravages of war and natural disasters, and things of that nature.

    • David Springer

      NW | December 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

      “What exactly distinguishes the empirical status of causal claims in astrophysics from the empirical status of causal claims in climate science?”

      I’m familiar with both. Give me some examples to contrast. I can choose some at random but they might be biased. For instance the Big Bang hypothesis predicted a cosmic microwave background essentially the same in all directions. This was eventually observed and as the empirical data improved it was discovered to be slightly inhomogenous which inhomogeneity gave rise to clumpiness (stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies). Outside of religious belief no one knows where the clumpiness came from. Contrast this with empirical data that CO2 partial pressure is rising and temperature of the lower troposphere was rising with it. Anthropogenic climate change theory predicted the rise but it also predicted that temperature would rise faster at altitude than at the surface in the tropics. The difference would seem to be that in astrophysics & cosmology the unexpected empirical data is acknowledged and inability to explain it is not something that is only whispered between insiders.

    • Jim, I agree with David that you may be understating the public expense of physical research. George Stigler said that the natural sciences would spend half the nation’s income if given the chance, and that the social sciences would be happy to get what the natural sciences get now–thus displaying proportional greed.
      Nevertheless, I get your concern in your second post. It’s certainly true that the cost of type I error is high in the case of this co2 biz. From the classical statistics perspective, that might make us want to see things established at tiny significance levels (though the doom and gloom crowd is going to insist that the cost of type II error is even bigger).

      But you frequently say there is no evidence at all that co2 contributes to warming. That’s different from saying “I want more evidence than they have produced since this is going to cost a lot.” I can understand the latter, but I have trouble getting the former. What sort of findings would constitute evidence for you? I am not lawyerly about empirical evidence: I do not cross-examine with an intent to wholly discredit. Instead, I try to let evidence have impact commensurate to its quality. So a different way of putting the question is, do you really think that all evidence of a causal impact of co2 on temp is of zero quality, and what kind of evidence would have positive quality to you?

    • @NW

      “you really think that all evidence of a causal impact of co2 on temp is of zero quality, and what kind of evidence would have positive quality to you?”

      I can’t speak for Jim, but my answer is this:

      Climate changes and has changed on all time scales examined. Current climate variations are well within historical extremes that occurred absent any plausible anthropogenic signature.

      If and when climate changes in a manner without historical precedent AND those changes are highly correlated with ACO2 that would go a long way toward convincing me. Neither of those obtain. Contemporary TOE data confirms that if there IS an ACO2 signature it is being swamped by other natural factors not under our control and therefore relatively insignificant.

      Of course you would still have the problem of convincing me that rising CO2 and mild increases in the TOE were catastrophic and required active measures to prevent them, that the measures recommended would actually perform as advertised, and that the ACO2 ‘cure’ was not worse than the AGW ‘disease’, but that is a different subject.

    • David Springer

      Bob Ludwick | December 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm |

      “Climate changes and has changed on all time scales examined. Current climate variations are well within historical extremes that occurred absent any plausible anthropogenic signature. ”

      Yabbut some of those historical extremes resulted in mass extinction events. Human civilization is particularly vulnerable being balanced on a knife edge of stable climate and abundant fossil fuels allowing it to go from 1 to 7 billion souls in the space of 50 years. Your certainty is unwarranted and more laughable than the climate change bandwagon which at least has the sense to hedge their bets with a stated 5% uncertainty in their conclusions. What’s your confidence that, for instance, Arctic sea ice in the past has reduced at the current observed rate or that sea level rise of 3mm/year has occurred so far into an interglacial period? You give reasonable skeptics of the bandwagon position a bad name.

    • NW, you write “But you frequently say there is no evidence at all that co2 contributes to warming. ”

      I have lost count as to how many times I have written this. We have been adding lots of CO2 to the atmosphere in recent years. Yet, there is no CO2 signal in any temperature time graph. The FAR promised us a signal by 2002. The fact that there is no CO2 signal is a strong indication that adding CO2 from current levels has a negligible effect on climate; that the climate sensitivity of CO2, however defined, is 0.0 C to one place of decimals, or two significant figures.

    • To my critics who say I don’t know the huge cost of scientific research, this is wrong. I am fully aware. I have no objection to science getting funds for projects which are based on objective science.

      What I object to is scam artists, posing as scientists, selling snake oil to our politicians, and, as a result, making life more expensive than it needs to be for fellow Canadians.

    • @ David Springer

      “Yabbut some of those historical extremes resulted in mass extinction events. ”

      Well, I thought that it was obvious from the context, but apparently not.

      When I used the term ‘historical’ I actually meant historical, as in the last few thousand years of human civilization. From observing the commentary here there is apparently not much doubt that during recorded HISTORICAL times, there have been extended periods during which the climate was appreciably warmer AND appreciably colder, with no help from ACO2. And there has not been any mass extinctions immediately prior to or during recorded history, whether the climate was colder or warmer. (Except for The Flood, of course, and it was reportedly unrelated to ACO2.)

    • @David Springer

      “What’s your confidence that, for instance, Arctic sea ice in the past has reduced at the current observed rate or that sea level rise of 3mm/year has occurred so far into an interglacial period?”

      What is YOUR confidence that reduced Arctic sea ice and sea level rising at a rate of 1m/300 years (there is apparently some question as to the rate, but I’ll spot you the 3mm/yr for the purposes of discussion) .represents an existential threat that requires that we reduce ACO2 by 90+%, as demanded by the climate experts.

      Also, what is your confidence that if EVERY measure recommended by the climate experts were enacted tomorrow, world wide, and rigorously enforced, the Arctic ice would stabilize at the ‘optimum’ level (What would that be, by the way?) and that the sea would cease its rise?

      Also, what is your estimate of the deaths caused by sub-optimum Arctic sea ice and the current rate of sea level rise, whatever it is, vice the deaths resulting from essentially ceasing ACO2 emissions?

    • David Springer

      Bob Ludwick | December 24, 2013 at 8:29 am |

      Well, I thought that it was obvious from the context, but apparently not.

      Correct. It was not.

      When I used the term ‘historical’ I actually meant historical, as in the last few thousand years of human civilization.

      What you refer to is called recorded history. Please make a note of it. Climate science frequently refers to hard data from many thousands of years ago. The Vostok ice cores go back hundreds of thousands. In geological contexts even this is considered recent history.

      From observing the commentary here there is apparently not much doubt that during recorded HISTORICAL times, there have been extended periods during which the climate was appreciably warmer AND appreciably colder, with no help from ACO2.

      This is controversial not written in stone.

      And there has not been any mass extinctions immediately prior to or during recorded history, whether the climate was colder or warmer. (Except for The Flood, of course, and it was reportedly unrelated to ACO2.)

      Loss of species is reputedly fast enough right now that we are arguably in the midst of a mass extinction event even as we speak.

      What is YOUR confidence that reduced Arctic sea ice and sea level rising at a rate of 1m/300 years (there is apparently some question as to the rate, but I’ll spot you the 3mm/yr for the purposes of discussion) .represents an existential threat that requires that we reduce ACO2 by 90+%, as demanded by the climate experts.

      Very low. I have high confidence that science and engineering in the coming decades will be utilizing atmospheric carbon for the manufacturing of durable goods and that sunlight will be harnessed in such a cost efficient manner that fossil fuels will no longer be economically viable sources of either energy or carbon. The problem will become not enough carbon in the atmosphere rather than too much.

      Also, what is your confidence that if EVERY measure recommended by the climate experts were enacted tomorrow, world wide, and rigorously enforced, the Arctic ice would stabilize at the ‘optimum’ level (What would that be, by the way?) and that the sea would cease its rise?

      The optimum amount of Arctic sea ice, in my opinion, is no Arctic sea ice. The normal state of the planet through the majority of its history is green from pole to pole which must necessarily exclude polar ice caps. I prefer green growing things over snow and ice. Weird, huh?

      I have very little confidence that recommended reduction in net anthropogenic CO2 emission would make any appreciable difference in rate of sea level increase. It think it’s more likely that it’s simply part and parcel of the Holocene interglacial proceeding towards its end. In past interglacials the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS) melted far more than it did in the Holocene and it did it very early on in the interglacial. The Holocene melt was interrupted by the Younger Dryas which robbed it of the inertia needed to reduce GIS and raise sea level 6 – 9 meters higher than it has been during the Holocene. I believe the rise in sea level causes global albedo to reduce and pump more moisture into the northern hemisphere sky which becomes the basis for snowfall which begins the rebuilding of the glaciers which then reach a tipping point where their advance feeds on itself and becomes unstoppable until there’s too little moisture left to maintain them. Lather, rinse, repeat with a timing set by orbital mechanics which every hundred thousand years or so align so as to provide optimum conditions for northern glaciers (least temperature differential between winter and summer).

      Also, what is your estimate of the deaths caused by sub-optimum Arctic sea ice and the current rate of sea level rise, whatever it is, vice the deaths resulting from essentially ceasing ACO2 emissions?

      You’re preaching to the choir. I’m just not as stupidly certain as you are.

    • @ David Springer

      ” I’m just not as stupidly certain as you are.”

      Certain of what?

      Since you essentially agreed with me on a line by line basis, except for the ‘reputed’/’arguably’ (your words) ongoing mass extinction event and the controversy (really–is there serious doubt?) over whether there have been periods during recorded history during which the climate has been noticeably warmer AND colder I am curious as to how that makes you brilliant and me stupid?

  65. It seems to me that the environmental movement has long been anti-science, witnessed by positions on genetically modified food, nuclear power, insecticides, etc. How strange now their undying faith in computer models with sciencey assumptions.

    • David Springer

      Not anti-science. Anti-human. I have some sympathy for them in that regard. Along with going forth and multiplying we’re supposed to be good shepherds and while we’ve been spectacularly successful at the former it seems to be accomplished through sacrificing the latter.

  66. JC says:

    While Gavin’s talk is thoughtful and provides some good points, it is fundamentally flawed IMO by the naive believe in Stocker’s statement and that Stocker’s statement does not constitute advocacy. This is stealth advocacy at its worse, stating that this is a ‘fact’ and not advocacy.

    Calling Schmidt’s statement “naive belief” instead of “knowing dishonesty” is also stealth advocacy at its worst. If you won’t call a spade a spade when that spade is running a dedicated propaganda outlet, then you are troweling.

    Schmidt & Cos answer to the problem statement: “Our lies are ineffective” is to work hard to fix the ‘ineffective’ part. Judith’s niche is to chastise them for not doing that well. She says:

    As a result of the hidden values of scientists in promoting Stocker’s statement as fact, the public is losing trust in climate scientists.

    No. As a result of the hidden values of scientists in promoting Stocker’s statement as fact, the ‘science’ is false.

  67. So as per Gavin’s thought process: “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” Gavin entertains the concept that it is possible to be both an honest scientist while also at the same time be a dishonest effective advocate or alternately, it is possible to be both a dishonest scientist while also at the same time be an honest effective advocate. Apparently, Gavin works in a branch of science where such statements can be made without a colleague pulling you up “Whoa there!”.

    • patrioticduo: Well put. Not only will climate scientists not say “Whoa there!” — with the exception of the rare few such as Dr. Curry who are publicly branded as “Heretics” — but they have made Stephen Schneider a saint.

      There has been an annual “Stephen Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science” since 2010.

  68. Here’s another quote from Schneider, this time from Schneider S. & Rasool S., “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols – Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate”, Science, vol.173, 9 July 1971, p.138-141. I believe the paper to have been reviewed by no less than James Hanson.

    “We report here on the first results of a calculation in which separate estimates were made of the effects on global temperature of large increases in the amount of CO2 and dust in the atmosphere. It is found that even an increase by a factor of 8 in the amount of CO2, which is highly unlikely in the next several thousand years, will produce an increase in the surface temperature of less than 2 deg. K.”

    Interesting, don’t you think?

    Now, should I have another cup of coffee or not?…

    Happy Christmas Dr. Curry and all contributors to this blog – even the Warmists!

  69. The problem of outspoken scientists making failed predictions based upon little evidence and wild imaginations has been around for many decades. We are a laughing stock. I find most scientists to be clueless when it comes to understanding basic economics and costs versus benefits. It’s embarrassing.

    • Unfortunately, since Carl Sagan became the second most famous scientist of the 20th century by being dazzling –e.g., science’s Miley Cyrus.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Oh no – I wish I didn’t have the image of Carl Sagan twerking in my head now. Thanks for nothing waggy.

    • David Springer

      Scientists seem to be generally burdened with the idea that they’re smarter than non-scientists regardless of the subject when in reality they’re mostly idiot savants. A scientist firmly grounded in reality and cognizant of cost/benefit relationships at all times is called an engineer.

    • I find most scientists to be clueless when it comes to understanding basic economics and costs versus benefits

      Hillerbrand and Ghil addressed the problems under uncertainty eg.

      The proposed strengthening of the role of the sciences
      clearly does not imply a blind trust in scientific outcomes. First,
      it is the decision makers who set the rules for how to perform
      the cost-benefit analysis; see item (ii) below. Second, taking
      uncertainties seriously implies scrutinizing closely the scientific
      methodology. Shifting the actual performance of cost-benefit
      analysis to the sciences just acknowledges that neither political
      decision making nor moral evaluation are the place for a critical
      evaluation of scientific methodology. This is the task of the
      scientific community itself, together with an exterior watchdog
      consisting of, for example, the sociology and philosophy of
      science. Although currently this watchdog seems to lag behind
      the scientific progress, there already exist some interesting
      accounts on the “science of climate change,” seen from the
      outside. The practice of welfare-economic analysis, however,
      is still insufficiently elucidated.

      http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd/PREPRINTS/RH&MG-Warming_ethics-Physica_D%2708.pdf

    • “The problem of outspoken scientists making failed predictions based upon little evidence and wild imaginations has been around for many decades.”

      Many decades indeed. It was evident enough in Mark Twain’s time for him to say, “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

      And my guess is that the expansion of higher education has made things worse. The resultant preponderance of mediocrity among scientists seems to have so conspired with need to publish as to make discerning laymen who have had the misfortune to wade critically through many scientific papers adopt a default position of skepticism for the conclusions those papers draw.

  70. ‘Tis the Season
    We all should acknowledge
    For, they are the reason…
    We are stirring this porridge–i.e.,

    The Ten Yamal of Global Warmanism

    Once upon a time there were these 10 Yamal — living trees — and their rings were full of valuable data.

    These trees are the original Ten Disciples of Mann, upon whose rings the Church of Warmanism was founded, and through them spreading the Gospel of Leftist, enviro-wackpot liberal Utopianism.

    Through the power of the Spirit Gum of the Ten Yamal, there was no Medieval Warm Period and no Little Ice Age and all Twentieth Century Warming is vanquished before the time of the magic blade of the sacred ‘hockey stick’ that pointed inexorably toward Heaven’s Gate and the path to salvation for all AGW believers on the dark side of Comet Hale-Bopp.

    All will become clear after the great global warming Armageddon. That time will come if schoolteachers don’t save us. And, it shall be known as the time that rivers ran red — red as Mao’s little book.

  71. What is the difference between Obama’s lies to sell Obamacare and Schmidt & Co.’s manipulations to sell climate change?

    Not much I can see except that Obama’s lies, by scheduling necessity, were exposed sooner.

    When confronted on his lies, Obama’s rationale was essentially the Schneider Double Ethical Bind. Obama “decide[d] what the right balance [was] between being effective and being honest.” And no doubt Obama “hope[d] that mean[t] being both,” but clearly he didn’t lose much sleep over the lies.

    Just so, Schmidt and the Climategate gang.

    Naturally Obama is a big advocate of the climate change agenda, even if he doesn’t go far enough to satisfy the Bill McKibbens of that movement.

    The climate change movement will likely discover their efforts will soon be seen in the same harsh light as Obamacare for much the same reasons. They may rue the day they embraced the Schneider Rationalization.

    • Yes, but deaths and taxes.

      And black helicopters.

    • Do you realize that hunter’s using “What is the difference between” as a bait and switch to insert political ringtones, Big Dave?

      Sounds a bit suboptimal for a Denizen who frowns upon “the end justifies the means” rationale, don’t you think?

    • willard: Hi, I’m huxley.

      My point was to illustrate the inherent dishonesty of Schneider’s Rationalization.

      Given that Obama’s lies are no longer in dispute, I thought it made a vivid, topical example of how our liberal elites justify their manipulations of the truth in pursuit of “effectiveness.”

      As far as I can see, and you provide no counter-argument, it’s the same arrogant people using the same deceitful strategy.

      Your response is typical too — ridicule. Plus an effort to denormalize, to use a variant of the word of the day, a conservative argument rather than meet it head-on.

  72. Gavin proposes:

    “. . . because without honesty there is no possibility of being effective in a sustainable and responsible way.”

    I guess in the past Gavin wasn’t so interested in sustainable nor doing advocating in a responsible way.

    It’s really refreshing to see that he has changed his views. The next step I believe is doing research with integrity; but, one thing at a time. Advocacy first, then honesty, then integrity. A natural progression.

    Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

  73. Chief Hydrologist

    The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.
    John Locke

    Einstein assures us that the special theory of relativity is accessible to someone with 1905 high school calculus. What do I know about relativity? I first read the paper on special relativity in my undergraduate university days. Nowhere near the reading list – but it has unfolded in my mind like a lotus flower ever since. What is the purpose of science if not – like poetry – to delight and enchant.

    But true to my Scottish Enlightenment heritage – I have much more concrete values than Judith. Succinctly – democracy, the rule of law, free markets and individual freedom. Free markets have very well defined limits – they are bound by laws that evolve over time in a social contract that is forever renewed. Governments too have limits – a share of some 25% of GDP is optimal for economic growth – and optimal economic growth is the sine qua non of peaceful human development this century. The role of government is not fixed either – but evolves in the democratic give and take to provide those services which are desired by society but which markets cannot or will not provide. One essential role is to manage interest rates to mitigate the exuberance of markets.

    All of these things – as sensible, foundational and moderate as they are – have at one time or another been loudly denounced by the cultural left. This makes them cultural enemies – bereft of history and seemingly stumbling down the old paths that ended in the many horrors of the 20th century. Barbarians inside the walls of western civilization. Delusional idealists one step – or less – away from a dangerous fanaticism willing to impose on others what is famously identified as a threat of modern serfdom. A state that Beth the Serf – for instance – has embraced as a symbol of our resistance and disdain for a cultural left drooling over the prospects of arrainging benighted opponents for ‘crimes against humanity’.

    It seems a culture war without end – with a contemporary manifestation in the climate war. It is clear as well that none of them have sufficient knowledge to see the real source of risk in either the environment or climate. Despite their cloyingly smug claims to the high ground of science – something that persists despite the laughable failures and distortions. What do I know about it? Whatever 30 plus years of seeking the truth of hydrology, environmental science, limnology, oceanography and biogeochemical cycling has led me to. We can and have suggested practical, effective and pragmatic ways forward on the environment, climate and energy needs – but this seems less the point of the left in the culture wars than yet another radical wet dream of transforming societies and economies.

    • David Springer

      [a thousand words of blather snipped]

      “What do I know about it?”

      Not much but the salient question is who cares what you know about it? Can’t you like make your own wordpress blog and just leave short links to the incessant pompous verbosity therein here so all of us don’t wear out our mouse wheels scrolling over it? Give us a break. Please. Take your philosophical maunderings elsewhere.

  74. Chief Hydrologist

    Failures and distortions? Lean and Rind a few years ago used exactly the same linear scaling method as webby to ‘predict’ near term warming that looks nothing like the immediate past.

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/LeanandRind20102_zpsa090fb72.png.html?sort=3&o=15

    What went wrong doesn’t phase them at all – regroup and reinterpret is the game.

    Climate models not merely don’t ‘project’ the future – but simply theoretically cannot for well known reasons.

    Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation. http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.long

    The reality of climate is that:

    1. the world is in a cool decadal mode;
    2. these last for 20 to 40 years in the long proxy records;
    3. climate is wild.

    The 3rd point is the source of real risk and explains the first 2.

    • David Springer

      The earth’s climate is extremely stable and except in the small details quite predictable. Do you imagine that the equator might somehow chaotically shift away from a tropical climate type or Canada somehow become a rain forest? Get a clue fercrisakes.

    • I agree with Springer in the sense that for climate the attractors are small, close together and less than the forcings.

      But then he tries to make a point with Canada turning into a rainforest, forgetting that there are indeed rainforests in Canada.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation. Wally Broecker

      e.g. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/docs/Smeed_2013.pdf

      The attractors are small and climate is stable? Odd comments indeed from both sides of the peanut gallery. Heavy on narrative – light on any actual data, cogent theory or reference to science and reputable sources.

      Recent scientific evidence shows that major and widespread climate changes have occurred with startling speed. For example, roughly half the north Atlantic warming since the last ice age was achieved in only a decade, and it was accompanied by significant climatic changes across most of the globe. Similar events, including local warmings as large as 16°C, occurred repeatedly during the slide into and climb out of the last ice age. Human civilizations arose after those extreme, global ice-age climate jumps. Severe droughts and other regional climate events during the current warm period have shown similar tendencies of abrupt onset and great persistence, often with adverse effects on societies…

      Researchers first became intrigued by abrupt climate change when they discovered striking evidence of large, abrupt, and widespread changes preserved in paleoclimatic archives. Interpretation of such proxy records of climate—for example, using tree rings to judge occurrence of droughts or gas bubbles in ice cores to study the atmosphere at the time the bubbles were trapped—is a well-established science that has grown much in recent years. This chapter summarizes techniques for studying paleoclimate and highlights research results. The chapter concludes with examples of modern climate change and techniques for observing it. Modern climate records include abrupt changes that are smaller and briefer than in paleoclimate records but show that abrupt climate change is not restricted to the distant past. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=10136

      e.g. – http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.pdf

      More recent work is identifying abrupt climate changes working through the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Southern Annular Mode, the Artic Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole and other measures of ocean and atmospheric states. These are measurements of sea surface temperature and atmospheric pressure over more than 100 years which show evidence for abrupt change to new climate conditions that persist for up to a few decades before shifting again. Global rainfall and flood records likewise show evidence for abrupt shifts and regimes that persist for decades. In Australia, less frequent flooding from early last century to the mid 1940’s, more frequent flooding to the late 1970’s and again a low rainfall regime to recent times.

      Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.

      It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

      Four multi-decadal climate shifts were identified in the last century coinciding with changes in the surface temperature trajectory. Warming from 1909 to the mid 1940’s, cooling to the late 1970’s, warming to 1998 and declining since. The shifts are punctuated by extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation events. Fluctuations between La Niña and El Niño peak at these times and climate then settles into a damped oscillation. Until the next critical climate threshold – due perhaps in a decade or so if the recent past is any indication.

    • Chief,
      I don’t see a cite for this, but I’ve seen it before and noted it to be a blatant cherry pick of two successive data points, one outlier above and one outlier below the average trend for Greenland temperatures.

      “For example, roughly half the north Atlantic warming since the last ice age was achieved in only a decade,”

      can you provide the source.

      The evidence is that we have been warming for the last 17 years, not cooling, so you are just wrong on that point.

      The PDO may be in a cool mode, but it’s not overwhelming the over all warming trend.

      Sorry empirical data trumps you and Tsonis’s mode switches.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Thanks Judy – I noted your link yesterday and looked at the paper. Is it decadal and are Europe and America in for some much cooler times? I’m feeling a bit smug in my modest Central Queensland house on the beach. Perhaps only until the proverbial hits the fan. If you become a climate refugee – you would be very welcome at my place.

      Bob – I believe you are referring to the 2002 NAS Committee on Abrupt Climate Change report – Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises. The committee was a bit of a Who’s Who of climate science – so I’m not going to bother with assertions of cherry picking based on something you just made up. The link was provided – as I always do. I suggest this is a great place to start to understand this most fundamental of climate principles.

      That you think as well that mode shifts are an outlier rather than mainstream science show that you haven’t quite caught up. See for instance Latif’s recent work.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822105042.htm

      The 1998/2001 climate shift is quite obvious in ocean and atmosphere patterns – it also appears as cloud changes in ISCCP-FD and and Project Earthshine data.

      Enric Palle and Ben Laken did a recent cloud series combining ISCCP-FD and MODIS using tropical SST to cross calibrate. It shows a few interesting things.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandlaken2013_zps3c92a9fc.png.html?sort=3&o=48

      The paper is here – http://www.benlaken.com/documents/AIP_PL_13.pdf

      Cloud in the Pacific is anti-correlated with SST – with consequent big changes in cloud radiative forcing. Pacific SST are far more likely than not to stay cool for another decade to three – hence the expectation that the tropospheric cooling since 2002 will persist.

    • David Springer

      Bob only about 2% of Canada’s area is temperate rain forest. Aside from the context making it clear I was talking about tropical rain forest with the reference to the equator, 2% of the area of Canada being rain forest does not warrant calling Canada a rain forest. You try to score points and all it does is gives me an opportunity to make you look like an ignorant ass with a chip on his shoulder. I don’t relish the opportunities and wish you’d stop.

    • Judith, that’s a huge reduction in OHT. As high a percentage as the reconstruction of the Gulf Stream transport shows over 200 years from 1750 to 1950. Things could get really chilly if that is sustained and there is some evidence indicating OHT correlates to solar activity. That will be the most important climate anomaly to watch for the upcoming years I believe.

    • Cheif,
      Exactly, look at figure 2.2 of your NAP cite, the caption stating a 3-yr change, is between 2 points, one clearly above and one clearly below,
      does not support that all the climate change occurred in 10 years.

      Clearly misleading use of data and exactly what I was referring to earlier.

      And I never claimed that the climate shifts of Tsonis and friends were the result of picking outliers. I think that stuff is real, but I think you need to eliminate CO2 forcing as a cause of the shifts before you can claim it’s all natural.

    • Springer,
      I am not trying to score points, just trying to annoy you because of your ill-treatment of posters here.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Tendentious argumentation Bob.

      ‘FIGURE 2.2 The accumulation rate of ice in Greenland was low during the Younger Dryas, and both the start and end of the period show as abrupt changes. Modified from Alley et al. (1993).’

      You eyeball in a graph that has little to do with high resolution temperature transitions and accuse the NAS and many leading climate researchers of cherry picking. It doesn’t stand up to even cursory review.

      These decadal (and longer shifts) have happened throughout the Holocene at least. Has the minor warming seen thus far from greenhouse gases changed things? These shifts manifest initially as changes in upwelling in the eastern Pacific – the cause of which is has to do with the polar cyclones and resultant flows in the Peruvian and Californian Currents. As Tsonis says in the quote above – it is important to understand natural variability and take it from there.

  75. UPDATE on main post: twitter exchange with Gavin

  76. What keeps climate change science humming along is that academia is willing to be right even if only in parts per million –i.e., the principles of pragmatism and efficient allocation of scarce resources means nothing.

  77. Those bloody scientists.

    Always offering their opinions on what to do about climate change

    Here we are,
    Advocates of business as usual,
    trying hard to make the public lose trust in the science

    and all those bloody scientists do is interfere

    Can’t they just shut up about it?

    Id far rather hear an ex-astronauts view on climate change
    or a meteorologist on a blog mounting a blistering attack on carbon taxes
    or a lord from foreign land

    But not bloody scientists

    Better warn them if they continue,
    the public will lose trust in the science

    and that’s the last thing we want to happen

    • [Scientists] Always offering their opinions on what to do about climate change

      lolwot: If scientists were merely “offering their opinions” it would be one thing.

      It’s quite another, though, when they offer their opinions as “the science is settled” while hiding their delicate moral calculations on how much they may compromise the truth in order to be effective per the “Schneider Double Ethical Bind.”

    • Chief Hydrologist

      It is 4.00am on Christmas Eve – so I have a little time to waste. I keep surreptitiously checking the pressies under the Christmas tree. I have been such a good boy.

      As for your question: at the end of the century we were sitting on the highest global temperature value of the modern record. Since then we have leveled off and we may in fact be cooling. “We have reached the top of the mountain”, therefore it’s not surprising that the last decade is one of the warmest on record. Think about it! The important aspect is that the warming of the 80s and 90s has stopped and the models missed it completely! The important issue is that we have entered a new regime in global temperature tendency. In fact, I find it very misleading that scientists will present “the warmest decade” argument to justify their beliefs (or failures).

      Regarding the oceans absorbing heat, it is another argument without solid proof.

      Best
      Prof. Tsonis

      And of course Tsonis is castigated by what can only be characterised as clueless twits with not the faintest idea of what he is talking about, very little inclination to find out and an overweening certainty in their moral and intellectual superiority.

      We have something against science? I am a trained engineer an environmental scientist. We object to the misuse of the culturally significant ideas of science – in this case a peculiarly distorted and failed science – to pursue ideological goals.

    • David Springer

      Chief Hydrologist | December 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

      “I keep surreptitiously checking the pressies under the Christmas tree. I have been such a good boy.”

      If Santa reads Climate Etc. they’re all wrapped up lumps of coal because here you’ve been an antagonistic name-calling asshat rather than a good boy. Merry Christmas.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      Springer has a habit of cyber stalking me. Again here he shows his true colours – aggressive, abusive, content less nonsense that really should end up in the cyber bin for his troubles. I’ll go back to not wasting my time on him – but I do wish he would just pull his head in.

    • David Springer

      Cyber stalking? Really? Poor little dear one rest assured that I have no interest in your activities outside of polluting this blog with incessant drivel and insults towards anyone with the temerity to disagree with your poorly conceived notions.

  78. The Stocker statement comes in an IPCC video, complete with the customary scary pictures of flooding, calving glaciers, parched, cracked earth and stranded children. Gavin must think we were born yesterday to believe Stocker statements, and others, to not constitute advocacy.

    Climate scientivists like Schmidt was to terminally reserve the right to make normative statements insisting they be understood solely as statements of ‘fact’.

    • David Springer

      I was not aware of the context wherein the Stocker statement appeared. Objectively, by itself, it does not constitute advocacy any more than saying “becoming Catholic requires that one is first baptized”. In and of itself that does not advocate either Catholicism or baptism. However if it’s stated in a context where all non-Catholics are pictured burning in hell then I would definitely consider it to be advocacy. Thanks for the clarification Shub.

  79. Is this not an example of “advocacy” by Judith?

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/24/warsaw-loss-and-damage-mechanism-a-climate-for-corruption/

    “So, what to do? I think it would have been better to remove the Loss and Damage fund from the COP and divorce it from AGW. There is a real need to help the developing countries reduce their vulnerability from extreme weather events. But posing this as an AGW issue isn’t warranted and distracts from the broader issues of reducing vulnerability to extreme events, which are relentlessly impoverishing in the developing world.

    I realize divorcing Loss and Damage from AGW would be an enormous challenge, but it might make this more palatable to some of the developed countries and provide something more useful to the developing countries. And why I’m giving ‘advice’ here, don’t forget to figure out how to deal with the corruption issue Climate for Corruption.”

    • Joseph: I don’t know that Dr. Curry is arguing against advocacy. I certainly don’t. I object to scientists who blur their science with their advocacy, which is exactly what the Schneider Double Ethical Bind justifies.

      In my reading of Dr. Curry, she nearly always manages to be above-board with her science vs. her advocacy.

      OTOH from Climategate and other scandals we know it’s always possible that Gavin Schmidt et al. may be lying, fudging, smearing, or manipulating in order to be “effective” and that they justify these maneuvers with appeals to Schneider.

  80. Elliott M. Althouse

    At the end of the day, science is always compromised if the scientist has any interest in the result past knowing the answer to the topic under consideration.

  81. Gavin Schmidt is a bit overestimated.

  82. Impending and out-of-control global warming is the Vaporware that the Left has been selling: the heat has been predicted using GCMs and the problems that the heat will cause has pretty much been described to be anything and everything bad that anyone in a Ph.D program is capable of imagining and Nobel prizes have been given for that.

  83. Thomas Stocker’s statement at the end of the IPCC AR5 video that ” .. Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future. Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions .. ” is based upon the assumtion that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are dominant controllers of the different global climates.

    Is there any convincing scientific evidence that this is the case? If so then I’d like to see it. It is an enormous leap of faith to go from accepting that our emissions of gases such as CO2 could cause an increase (albeit insignificant) in the mean global temperature to believing that substantial, sustained reduction in our emissions will have any limiting effect on global climates.

    Few of us are prepared to believe such claims!

    Best regards, Pete

  84. Pingback: AGU talk on science and advocacy – RealClimate | world top news

  85. The problem is the one-sidedness of the advocacy. The IPCC has no problem with contributions of WWF and Greenpeace, but I don’t see contributions by coal producers showing the overwhelming benefits of fossil fuels: prosperity and health for the world population and the looming damage to prosperity and health when CO2 is banned. Where is the defence of CO2?

    • David Springer

      +1

      The benefits associated with processes that emit CO2 are legion and beyond reasoned dispute. These benefits are either not valued by emission reduction advocates or are not weighted against the hypothetical downsides of associated global warming. In point of fact I believe global warming is just one additional benefit (icing on the cake) of fossil fuels.

  86. Having Gavin (who may be one of the climate scientists most disliked by skeptics, due to censorship, snark and general intolerance at RC) give a lecture on climate science communication shows how out-of-touch and tribal the AGU is.

    Schneider’s ethical double-bind is easily solved, but not by the methods Tamsin Edwards or Gavin recommend. Tamsin recommends that the most knowledgeable members of society censor themselves. That’s nuts and undemocratic. Gavin recommends “honesty”, but the tactics Schneider advocated (telling scary stories, making simplified dramatic statements, and hiding any doubts) do not represent scientific honesty. They are acceptable tactics for politicians and attorneys. If any scientist is so concerned about an issue that wishes to speak as a politician or an attorney, he simply needs to explain to his audience that he is speaking as an ordinary citizen, not a scientist who is ethically-bound to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc., with all the caveats, etc. Such candor would allow scientific advocates to speak their mind without misleading their audience or damaging the reputation of scientists in general. Unfortunately, most advocates don’t want to do so, because they want to speak with the authority often granted to scientists and the ethical practices of politicians.

    • If any scientist is so concerned about an issue that wishes to speak as a politician or an attorney, he simply needs to explain to his audience that he is speaking as an ordinary citizen, not a scientist who is ethically-bound to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc., with all the caveats, etc.

      Frank: Works for me. It’s not that complicated. It’s only a problem for those, like Schneider and Schmidt, who feel that the ends justify the means.

    • Many think that it works for them but not for those with whom they disagree.

      Everyone should look carefully at the mirror.

    • Pekka: I would have no problems with my opponents — Schmidt et al — abiding by the standards I accept.

      Unfortunately, they have by their own admission cast their lot in with Stephen Schneider, which justifies blurring their scientist and advocate roles in order to be more effective.

    • Schneider explained a problem. He was open on the existence of this problem, and he told that finding the right resolution is difficult.

      Gavin added to that one comment (that happens to be the same comment I have stated in some earlier thread on this site months or years ago). That comment tells that giving too much weight for the other values than scientific accuracy is counterproductive, and should be avoided even by people who consider other ethical arguments to have much weight.

      I stated on Schneider’s original statement that I consider it ethically fine, but lacking in practice – for exactly the reason Gavin stated. With Gavin’s addition, the principle would be fine as long as it can really be followed.

      Gavin does discuss also the difficulty in following such guidelines, but the examples that he gives, and in particular the case of Stocker’s comment, tells to me that he cannot see, how advocacy enters in the expressions – he cannot follow properly his guideline. As long as he cannot see that, he cannot fight the problems effectively.

      What I write above is not only advice for getting views through, it implies a genuine requirement for openness and honesty in presenting science.

    • Pekka,

      What you say seems to go hand in hand with the concept of parrhesia:

      http://foucault.info/documents/parrhesia/foucault.dt1.wordparrhesia.en.html

      As soon as we realize that truth is a value, that we commit to truth, the fact/value dichotomy falters.

      When we swear to tell all and only the truth, we swear, first and foremost. That what we say turns out to be false is less important than the sincere trial of truthtelling.

      ***

      On the other hand, discounting questions of honesty in public discourse does seem to have an important discursive function. When we want to talk about stuff, it’s a good idea to stop talking about people’s motives or stances. There’s also an ergonomic function: that scientists (or any broker) require to speak their mind without having their honesty questioned does make sense to me. “Is Gavin honest?” might never be something we’ll openly and thoroughly discuss.

      Some questions are better asked than answered.

    • Williard,

      As I just wrote at Bart Verheggen’s I was really surprised by that statement of Gavin, because it didn’t fit in the picture that I had formed of his presentation up to that point. There seemed to be an internal contradiction in the talk. In my previous comments on this site I have interpreted that as a failure of Gavin to apply the ideals he is proposing consistently and in a way that is perceived as objective.

    • Steve Fitzpatrick

      Seems to me Kevin Anderson is Steve Schnieder re-incarnate… maybe there is life after death. Climate scientists would do well to completely ignore his suggestions.

  87. Remember Linus Pauling and Vitamin C? That’s roughly where Gavin is with CO2. scientist, popularizer, advocate, activist, believer. For Pauling, we know how it turned out; he died of cancer.

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

  88. Observe Gavin’s further oblivious twitterings. There was a time, when it was considered not an insignificant step to ask people – individuals, corporations, governments or whole countries – to ‘cut emissions’. Emissions are an euphemism for the basis for production of energy, i.e, for productivity, food, transport, heating, cooling, livelihood, basically everything. All it took was an IPCC official’s summary pronouncement in a propaganda video for him to blithely pronounce asking for “substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” to not be advocacy, but mere statement of fact.

    A wonderful person to offer advise on advocacy in science, if there was ever.

  89. David Springer

    I have to agree to with Gavin in regard to Stocker statement. Saying “limiting climate change requires reducing CO2 emission” is wrong because there are more means to that end but it’s not advocating IMO without presupposing that climate change is a bad thing. Plenty of people would love a warmer climate, longer growing seasons, higher agricultural output, and less severe weather. These things all appear to go hand in hand with increasing CO2 emission.

    An analogous statement might be “to join the Catholic church requires that one be baptized”. This is not advocacy unless one first presumes that becoming Catholic is a universal desire just as Stocker’s statement is not advocacy unless one presumes that limiting climate change is universally desired. I know a whole bunch of people who don’t want to convert to Catholicism and there is a lot of overlap between them and the set of people who don’t want more snow to shovel in the winter. ;-)

  90. re: Twitter.

    Gavin just doesn’t get it.

    Judith doesn’t do advocacy, by definition – only what other people do is advocacy.

  91. Isn’t the issue here to do with the public perception of the scientists involved. There is this popular delusion of scientists being objective and impartial, its particularly popular among scientists. When you act as an advocate you publicly adopt a position and in fact invest a considerable amount of your own credibility and esteem in this position. It becomes important to protect this position regardless of trivialities like evidence. So can the public rely on the scientists/advocates to provide a balanced and reasoned opinion based on the latest evidence, you only have to read the discussions here for the answer.

    Geordie

  92. Gavin’s statement was “Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future. Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
    On its face it is not advocacy, being just a statement of some scientific facts paired together, but it is very close to implying advocacy. He could equally have said that accelerating climate change requires substantial sustained increases in greenhouse gas emissions, but chose not to put it that way, but the other way. As I said, almost advocacy.

  93. Interesting quibble by gavin

    “Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future. Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

    which he argues is similar to

    “an apple pie requires apples”

    The latter is true by definition. The former is not.

    “Continued abortions cause further fetus death. Therefore we conclude that limiting fetus death requires substantial and sustained reductions in abortion.

    “Continued volcano emissions cause further climate change. Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in volcanos.”

    “Continued government spending causes further debt. Therefore we conclude that limiting debt requires substantial and sustained reductions in spending.

    “Continued government spending causes further debt. Therefore we conclude that limiting debt requires substantial and sustained increases in taxes.

    #####################

    When you look at Gavins example of apples pies require apples, it is non normative because it is true by definiton. The same with Springer example of baptism and being catholic. But in the examples I give which take the same form you can see the implicit normative statement that comes about by limiting the options for action:

    • > The latter [an apple pie requires apples] is true by definition.

      The joy of contingent cooking:

      http://www.food.com/recipe/apple-pie-with-no-apples-81913

    • That’s an apple pie for a true scotsman.

      and apple pie with no apples requires no apples.

      so you agree. Increasing spending causes debt. therefore debt reduction requires lowering spending.

      That’s not normative. Its factual.

      right?

    • Nothing’s inevitable but facts and taxes.
      =============

    • David Springer

      I specified that Stocker’s statement was a belief not a fact. Similarly it is not a fact that conversion to Catholicism requires baptism. It requires a belief that the person has been baptized. The analogy stands.

    • “True by definition” is seldom true by definition. Another reason has to be found. I would go with “Gavin used a truism”, but then I fear the parsomatics wrath to haunt me until the New Year’s eve:

      http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/1416691906

      ***

      Broker’s “requires” was suboptimal. He should have padded it with modalities like “arguably” or added a ceteris paribus clause like “unless we have something like CO2-sucking trees”.

      Better yet, he should have separated the two clauses and presented them has independent facts, like any good think tank would do. To lead by thought, I might suggest a counterfactual, for instance Judy’s: “if you accept that trees don’t suck CO2 yet, here’s a reminder of the IPCC position &c.”

      More suggestions over there:

      http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/gavin-schmidt-and-judith-curry-on-science-advocacy/#comment-19647

      ***

      Bart’s point that adaptation doesn’t actually limit climate change does seem to deserve an acknowledgement, BTW. Just a nit, of course. No need to editorialize about that.

    • well willard you neatly sidestepped my question.

      lets look at the statement:

      continued spending causes debt. reducing debt requires decreased spending or or increased taxes. We should increase taxes.

      What is the speaker doing. Well its clear what he is doing. he is laying out a problem. Offering known solutions. And recommending a course of action

      continued spending causes debt. reducing debt requires decreased spending or or increased taxes.

      What is the speaker doing with words?

      Well its clear what he is doing. he is laying out a problem. Offering known solutions. And leaving open a course of action.

      continued spending causes debt. reducing debt requires decreased spending.

      What is the speaker doing with words?

      Well its clear what he is doing. he is laying out a problem. Offering one of the solutions. And implying a course of action..

      1. is overtly normative, where I take normative to mean reccommending a course of action. It does not require the word “should” but should is a strong signal. Shut up. go Away. Die.

      2. is non normative.

      3. is either factually wrong or implicitly normative. Since he is a scientist the listeners count on him have the facts rights and so I would judge it implicitly normative. use of the word should is not required.

      @ Springer

      you are out of your league.

    • > you neatly sidestepped my question.

      Since you neatly sidestepped ALL the content of my comment which answers it and seem to have forgotten (H/T jim2) to read my comments at Bart’s where your question has been addressed, let Moshpit pretends he’s having a conversation with me.

      ***

      Stocker’s claim could be rewritten thus:

      – we know that AGW;
      – we know that AGW is mainly caused by our dumping of CO2;
      – our dumping of CO2 is a “cause of concern” (H/T Judy)
      – until we develop CO2-sucking trees (or equivalent), reducing our dumping of CO2 might be a good idea, i.e. required.

      In other words, if dumping CO2 like there’s no tomorrow is a problem, then you might consider stopping your dumping of CO2 like there’s no tomorrow.

      If you don’t like the B to where the A leads, stop doing A. Now, this may not be analytic, but it’s quite commonsensical. I’ve heard this worked with banging oneself on the head with a hammer.

      ***

      It is a pity Stocker seems to have forgotten (H/T jim2) that there are no necessities in science; that someone, somewhere on the Internet will go for the literal reading of “requires”; and most importantly about the CO2-sucking trees.

      We should never underestimate the power of imagining CO2-sucking trees.

    • (1) Climate changes because of CO2.
      (2) There are benefits coming from (1).
      (3) Reducing CO2 emissions would reduce benefits caused by (1).

      (H/T Willard)

    • Not so anyone would notice

    • willard I did not side step your content and I’m certainly not going to Bart’s to continue a thread I started here.

      You can answer the question or not. your choice.

    • willard.

      The question is not whether it is common sensical or not. The question is whether it is normative or not. Common sense, last I looked, could be normative.

      It’s an interesting case. And its related to the Schneider quote of telling the whole truth versus serving up simplifying scenarios.

      As a decision maker I expect my analysts and advisors to give me all the options without prejudging which is preferred, which makes the most sense, which is obvious. When they narrow the options they are not doing their jobs.
      Of course nobody has written a job spec for scientists. There is no formula.

      Now, when the full truth is not being laid out.. what are they doing with language.

    • Reminds me of the classic call for action:

      “Something must be done.
      This is something.
      Therefore this must be done.”

    • Good timing Steve, because The Something Must Be Done Act 2014 has only just been drafted:

      The Act should also include the following power at Section 6 so that any emerging issues can be addressed:

      “In the event something must be done, a Minister may at his or her discretion choose a thing to do, and the thing chosen shall be deemed as the something that must be done.”

      This discretionary power, however, is subject to Section 7:

      “The thing chosen under Section 6 shall not have any rational or proportionate relationship to any intended objective.”

      Now we can really motor.

    • Reminds me of the call for inaction;

      We don’t know everything,so we can’t do anything.

    • > The question is not whether it is common sensical or not.

      “The question” is a trick to dismiss my contributions and to burden me with a commitment I have not made here. While I did address related questions elsewhere, the main question of this op-ed is about rethinking advocacy. Stocker’s statement and Gavin’s interpretation of it are both secondary to this question. They’re interesting in their own right, if only because the last one offers another opportunity to speculate about Gavin’s honesty.

      My first comment on this sub-thread was to disprove that “an apple pie is made of pie” was analytic, thereby showing (in subtext) that even convening on what is an apple pie entails some kind of norm. My persona endorses semantical holism, which should provide (at least to Moshpit) a hint about the futility of appealing to predicates like “true by definition”. The alternatives I offered provide at least a fighting chance.

      My second comment introduced what seems to be a more fruitful way to analyze what’s being done by Stocker. As I already said, I can concede that Stocker’s wording was suboptimal. I identified him as “Broker” and thought having written “The Broker”. For me,

      Stocker was expressing himself as a broker, which to me entails a normative role.

      This is my third comment on that sub-thread.

      ***

      My own take on the normativity issue is that norms pertain to roles and contexts, not to claims per se. This may be considered as a consequence of semantical holism. Sentences get to be interpreted in the totality of the discourse in which we can observe them. My knack for speech acts makes me extend this conception to situational cues.

      Not only was Stocker making a statement, he was conveying an intention through a channel in a very specific situation ruled by social reality. Even if Stocker was to say that “snow is white”, it could be interpreted as a normative claim, conveying something like “we, the vast majority of scientists I represent, endorse that snow is white”.

      This analysis makes me throw a pox in both houses. Gavin’s wrong to interpret Stocker’s claim as a factual claim, although it would be quite easy to reconstruct Stocker’s claim in a way to be immune to Judy’s argument. Judy’s wrong to infer from her argument that Stocker made a normative claim. Linguistic entities are neither necessary nor sufficient to identify normative claims.

      ***

      There ought to be more important stuff to discuss than jejeune gotchas. Speaking of which, Judy has yet to acknowledge that adaptation doesn’t work as a counterexample. So here’s what I propose: Judy’s counter-examples show that her reading of “requires” admits CO2-sucking trees or equivalents as possibilities we should consider relevant for policy discussion. This has important implications beyond considering the strenght of her argument.

      For instance, honest brokers refuse to consider anything that goes beyond what they perceive as iron laws:

      http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.ca/2010/09/more-on-iron-law-of-climate-policy.html

      If we exclude from policy discussions anything remote to cap-and-trade because it goes against some “iron law” , then there ought to be laws preventing any appeal to CO2-sucking trees or equivalent as plausible alternatives to straightforward reduction of CO2 in tackling the problem of dumping CO2 like there’s no tomorrow.

      I propose to call this the pixie-dust law.

      Finally, as my laptop battery has turned to orange, there is something else we should consider. Even if we accept futurological solutions for the sake of argument, we might wish to stay away from false dilemmas like “either it’s CO2-sucking trees or CO2 reduction”. Anyone who welcomes polycentric approaches like Ostrom’s should also welcome pluralist solutions. This means leaving the choice between mitigation, adaptation, and CO2-sucking trees or equivalent to writers of Goldilocks stories. Chances are we’ll have to try a bit of everything and see where that leads us.

      ***

      In any case, we can accept Stocker’s claim as contingent and normative without having to make him a stealth advocate of anything or whatnot. The only alternative so far on the table is to wish for some kind of neutral objectivity like Plato envisioned. Just as from “ought” we sometimes can derive “is”, pace John Searle, we can infer from “must” a “should”, a “would be good idea” or even “is the only realistic solution we can think of to hit it in the ballpark, at least for now”.

      And that’s my present to you, Denizens.

      Go team!

      Merry Christmas,

      w

    • > an apple pie is made of pie

      Er. “An apple pie is made of apples”, at the very least. Or “An apple pie requires apples”.

    • David Springer

      Steven Mosher | December 24, 2013 at 10:57 am |

      @ Springer

      you are out of your league.

      ———————————————————————

      You’re right. I’d forgotten you’re in the Pee Wee Pedant League. You are freakishly tall for it and that makes me mistake it for an adult league.

  94. Steven Mosher,

    What definition of normative are you using?

    Here’s the Oxford English Dictionary definition:

    “- establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm, especially of behaviour.”

    I think you (and others) are referring to a definition which refers to value judgement as opposed to fact. Of course I may be assuming incorrectly. In any case, the use of common words such as “normative” in ways appreciated only by the self appointed (or self anointed) cognoscenti, may explain why discussions about scientific fact degenerate into endless pointless analogies and “point scoring”.

    What this all has do with science, I have no idea.

    Climatology, in any case, has proved to be of as much benefit to humanity as phrenology – or possibly less.

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

    • David Springer

      Oh stop whining. Sometimes you have to do a little work to understand things outside your area of expertise.

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

    • Mike.

      I mean normative in the sense of what one ought to do. For example, recommending a course of action.

      Springer’s example uses normative in the sense of achieving an ideal.
      If one wants to be a catholic it requires baptism. Same with gavin. If one wants to make an apple pie ideally one uses apples. It is meeting the STANDARD.

      different meanings of the word. the simplest way to understand the structure of what Stocker is doing is to construct similar fact structures. Not to use analogies as gavin and springer have.

      For example, if one wants to be a catholic you have no choice but to be baptized. you are not free to become a catholic and not be baptized. And so while the choice to become a catholic is a moral one, the “choice” to be baptized once one has decided to be catholic is not moral but is rather practical since there is no other way to become catholic. Moral action requires a free choice. A free choice requires options.

    • David Springer,

      Your Wiki reference contains :

      “Normative has specialized contextual meanings in several academic disciplines. Generically, it means relating to an ideal standard or model. . . . In practice, it has strong connotations of relating to a typical standard or model (see also normality).”

      As you see in this thread above, Steven Mosher has his own definition.

      Warmists love imprecision. Forecasts are not predictions, but rather scenarios or some such. The greenhouse effect is not really the effect noticed in greenhouses. And so it goes.

      These same Warmists seem to have temper tantrums when anybody asks them to use simple straightforward language. I wonder why.

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

  95. Re: ,
    Is an Appeal to Schneider included on any of the major lists of logical fallacies?

  96. Gavin quotes Rowland:

    What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?

    Unless, of course, they don’t — like the predictions of Steve Schneider’s good friend and colleague, Paul Ehrlich, who forecast imminent worldwide starvation even in the United States by the 1980s.

    Making predictions is easy; making accurate predictions is much harder. But these scientists become important figures, pulling down high salaries and jetting around scaring the bejesus out of everyone on the basis of their predictions — the scarier the better — as well as agitating for hugely expensive regulations that burden the lives of ordinary citizens who pick up the tab.

    And if their predictions don’t come true, that’s not their problem. They are in no way accountable. They continue to live their privileged, prestigious lives, and clap themselves on the back for how responsible they are.

    • Yogi Berra, Casey Stengal, and Dizzy Dean in a conference at the mound: ‘No one goes into the future anymore; it’s too crowded’.
      ================

  97. Positive Statements:

    Continued CO2 emissions will likely raise the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere

    Increased concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will likely increase the surface air temperature over long periods of time. This temperature rise is likely to be uneven over different parts of the globe.

    This surface air temperature rise may produce climatic change that will be likely be considered by some stakeholders to be overall detrimental in some areas. However, to some stakeholders the temperature and climatic changes may be considered to be overall positive in some areas. How to define or predict the overall impact in any given area of the globe as either positive or negative is unclear.

    Normative Statements

    The likely (or possible) surface air temperature rise is unacceptable, Something need to be done about it.

    Of the set of things that can be done about climate change limiting CO2 emissions by regulating the energy production market is the best option.

    CO2 emissions and potential climate change are not a problem, It is a bogus issue made up by liberals.

    • All climate change is local, as will be the politics of it. With warming, there will be more locales improved than degraded, and with cooling there will be more locales degraded than improved.
      ========

    • CO2 emissions and potential climate change are not a problem for the current generation, for the current generation has net benefits from increasing co2. When the break even point occurs it is for that generation to act because only then there is a problem. Do you ask the poor to pay for the rich? Should we “eat cake” instead of bread?

    • @ Hans Erren

      ” Should we “eat cake” instead of bread?”

      If we eat bread, will our descendants get to enjoy the cake?

      Should we forsake our cake and eat bread in solidarity with our bread-eating descendants?

      If we give up OUR ACO2 cake, based on the prophesy of models which have failed every testable prediction so far, are we guaranteeing either bread OR cake for our descendants?

  98. Here is where climate change scientists have gone wrong, and Gavin, well meaning that he certainly is, exemplifies it.

    Climate scientists should state only what their models show, what the uncertaintie bands are, what the strengths and weaknesses of the models are. Or, if doing “real world” science, such as detecting how much ice Greenland lost during the last interglacial, simply state their findings. That is science. The press releases from the institutions doing this science should take the same stance.

    But yet, as most readers of CE know, the papers and press releases virtually always state how these findings will make things worse in some important way, even when the findings are clearly positive vs. what the average of the models says. This constant drumbeat of “everything is worse than we expected” will certainly cause people who read vociferously to question the even handedness of the scientists and institutions.

    When scientists start telling people that we have to do this or that to reduce CO2, they are injecting themselves into a world of both politics and economics, worlds they are not expert in, and in which they may betray prejudices about what they would do if they were Tsar, while also betraying that they don’t particularly know or care about what the effects of their preferred policies would be on so many people that don’t live like they do.

    Let’s take economics. The friend of the court filing at the Supreme Court of the US makes the point that the benefits of CO2 haven’t been recognized by US regulators in their CO2 regulations. According the the FOC filing, agricultural yields are something like 10% to 15% higher today than they would have been absent increased CO2, and my reading of the science is that this is likely true. But neither Gavin nor the EPA have included this rather basic and rather large benefit in their calculations. This exposes them as one sided, more like crusaders than thoughtful analysts. Let’s ask a thought question: what would the world be like today, with 10% to 15% less food? Not the rich countries, but the poor ones, which is where the shortfalls would occur. Gavin???

    Since this specific argument is pretty basic, Joe Six Pack can and does understand it. Bingo: trust is gone. If the Hockey Stick and Climategate were one off events, apologies had been made, the head of the IPCC sacked and replaced with a stolid scientific type, then maybe trust could have been regained. But the example above shows that the instincts that led to the hockey stick and Climategate are still alive, a decade later.

    Just an example, so many more, readers of CE can recite many from memory.

  99. My takeaway is that the AGW-ists have perverted the notion of what a scientist is. It used to be someone who engaged in fundamental research, not a public policy advocate. I’m sure if the AGW-ists went away and fundamental research science came back, the American public would be on board.

  100. Also remember that the term “denier” is intentionally put out there to equate people who contest AGW as equivalent of Holocaust deniers. That is the 100% truth of it.

  101. Matthew R Marler

    Good post: Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future. Therefore we conclude that limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    He states that numerous people complained that this statement is advocacy including IPCC scientists. Schmidt argues that it is not a normative statement, that is a factual statement. Huh?

    Even if you believe that CO2 is the dominant control knob on climate change on timescales of decades to centuries, how is it a ‘fact’ to state that this must be dealt with by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (rather than by adaption, carbon sequestration or geoengineering)? And there is a missing element in this argument that warming is ‘bad’, which is a value judgment and has nothing to do with science.

    In my experience, advocates come over time not to notice the difference between facts and their own norms. I think other people notice this as well. It is illustrated by Gavin not noticing what you noticed: he presented as factual a normative statement. I think that observers of politics observe this a lot, and it is one reason why scientist/advocates become distrusted both as scientists and as advocates.

    Gavin and you are right, I believe, that lying can not be a part of long-term successful advocacy; once people know that someone is wiling to lie for his or her cause cause, they stop listening.

  102. Schneider explained a problem.
    Pekka Piril | December 24, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Pekka: The problem Schneider addressed was basically how scientists can fudge science in the name of their environmental agenda, not confide the manipulation to the public, and still feel good about themselves.

    IMO this is little more than a license to defraud with a clear conscience. I see no reason to respect the so-called “Double Ethical Bind” or the scientists who take it seriously.

    I would be more charitable if Schneider scientists appeared to be decent folks of reasonable moral standards, but that’s not what we find. Schmidt, Mann, the Climategate gang, and Peter Gleick, plus all those scientists who stood up for them, routinely censor, ban, denigrate, smear and sue their opponents, break laws, present misleading data, refuse to share data, refuse debate, and otherwise conspire behind the scenes.

    This hasn’t let up since Climategate. Just this past week Reddit and the LA Times announced policies refusing to publish comments by climate change “deniers.” I haven’t checked but I doubt there was any outcry in the name of freedom of speech and open debate from the Gavin Schmidts of the world.

    I don’t see any way to understand these scientists as other than intellectual brownshirts with high-minded rationalizations.

    I imagine deep down most of them mean well, but IMO they need a sterner moral backstop when considering their behavior than the Schneiderian “I hope I can do both.”

    Perhaps you can offer a happier understanding. Otherwise, Merry Christmas!

    • You have misunderstood Schneider.

      Very many people want to misunderstand Schneider.

      Listen the presentation of Gavin trying to understand what he tells, then you should understand better also Schneider. You may still disagree with them, or you may think that they don’t follow their ideals. Even it that case it’s good to understand what they say. You might even agree on that and still think that their message on climate is misleading.

      Too many people are afraid of understanding what those people are saying with whom they disagree.

    • Pekka,
      You have explained your understanding of Schneider’s comment before, I don’t happen to agree with you. Not that it matters either way.
      I do insist that public paid, either by grant or salary, scientists should stick to science and not use their position ‘megaphone’ to promote their view of public policy.
      Neither Schneider nor Schmidt were or are particularly skilled in public policy direction or conclusions. In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some outstanding and brilliant scientists practicing in the natural science fields. Those that chose to use their ‘scientific bullhorn’ to promote a policy direction, eventually lost the interest and respect of both clients and funders. Those that chose to remain publically neutral, remain well respect research scientists. Those that chose to implement their policy views either through a private company or some form of private NGO remain well respected and in some cases continue to publish.
      Although climate science research has published some interesting angles, it has little that can be shown to be commercialized in either a policy or business direction.

    • Ah, fear, yes. All the catastrophe is fear and guilt.
      ==========

    • And avoid questions about the validity of assumptions in the foundation of AGW dogma.

      https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/WHY.pdf

    • Very many people think that scientists should actually make a larger effort in explaining their science to wider public than their specialized science journals reach. In that view it’s not considered wrong that they spend part of their time in that.

      Accepting the above the question is, how they should tell about the results of science. Practically always that involves simplification and bypassing some caveats. Thus this alone is not a problem. The real issue is, how they choose the content of their message and how they formulate their message in detail. When they choose the content, it should be obvious and also right that they present those results that they personally consider most important for the public to know. It should also be easy to agree that they should use their own judgment in choosing the content of the message, not what some committee tells, be it in line with IPCC or against it.

      In case of climate science many scientists do genuinely believe that climate change is a major threat. Thus this is the message they tell. There’s only one question left, how to formulate the message. This is the point Schneider was pondering. Every possible choice involves some simplification, some more some less. Some formulations are more effective in making the point of major risks due to climate change that the scientist believes to be generally true, some other formulations include more caveats, and give a weaker message. The alternatives are not black and white but different shades of gray.

      Schneider did not present clear conclusions on the shade of gray he considers best. He expressed the problem, but left his recommendation unclear.

      Gavin added the point that the stronger message with less discussion of caveats will backfire in time. It leads to occasional errors because there are uncertainties. The uncertainties go in both directions, but it’s likely that one side will be noticed, the other not. Those errors lead to loss of trust. That can be reduced but not avoided fully by making the messages to emphasize uncertainties so strongly that they are really understood, but that may lead to a message that’s actually biased towards too weak. Gavin’s argument tells that this should be accepted as a price to be paid for maintaining trust in the long run.

      With many scientists, and many of them pretty individualist, we are sure to see a variety of outcomes. Some are as openly activists as James Hansen, some choose the style of Stephen Schneider and Gavin Schmidt. Among basically mainstream scientists we see also very different choices, and then we have the real skeptics among scientists. Great majority in all these groups are honest and follow their genuine beliefs of what’s right. They are influenced with biasing factors, but few distort willfully the message.

      Schneider and Gavin Schmidt have described and pondered the issue from their perspective, some others have done the same from their different perspective, although very few have been as open as far as I have noticed.

  103. Pekka,
    Your words, “In case of climate science many scientists do genuinely believe that climate change is a major threat. Thus this is the message they tell”.

    What these scientists (on public payroll) believe is irrelevant to science and to policy or business. What they believe cannot be commercialized. Science doesn’t tell them it is a major threat, so their message is nothing more than pure prophesy. If they choose to spread this message then move into private practice or politics. Spreading belief in doom and gloom is best to the cardboard sandwich boards or ancient soothsayers.

  104. I just had my house inspected. It’s an old house. The roof is leaking, The inspector says:

    There is water in your attic, your roof is probably leaking. You should get a new roof for $30k (his opinion)

    Another inspector comes and says there is water in your attic, but it’s not the roof itself, it’s water leaching down the chimney masonry. You should get the chimneys sealed for $2k (his opinion)

    I put two buckets up in the attic and empty them once a month for $20 (my money/my decision)

    • And a year later the roof and chimney collapse into the basement, $500K. Water damage is the homeowners worst enemy.

    • Jim

      I hate to say it but Eli is right.

      However, I am curious as to why it costs 20 dollars a month to empty a couple of buckets once a month…

      Tonyb

    • Jim Crimmins,

      I had a similar problem. However, I am lucky enough to live in a warm locality. I found, by experimentation, that using shallow but quite wide/long plastic containers, the evaporation subsequent to the leakage collection kept up with the leak rather nicely.

      Your mileage may vary. I thought of sealing a piece of hose or similar into the bottom side of a bucket and routing the water out of the ceiling. Far too lazy. I let Nature take care of it for a few years, until I weakened and fixed the leaks.

      It just occurred to me that your $20 was a one off bucket cost, not an ongoing $20/month. Silly me!

      Live well and prosper,

      Mike Flynn.

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  106. I think Eli has got the scare tactic technique down cold. Your briefs are showing Mr Rabett Thanks for taking the bait.

  107. Coming in WAAAY late on this one. Been on other things…

    “A whopping 78 percent of Americans think that information reported in scientific studies is often (34 percent) or sometimes (44 percent) influenced by political ideology, compared to only 18 percent who said that happens rarely (15 percent) or never (3 percent).”

    I could be wrong, but I’ve always understood that students go into oceanography and ecology and climatology because they are tree huggers in the first place and see it as a means to affect the future. To me that is an automatic singing to the choir or being in the choir even before they start otu. Then add in that once on the inside they feed off each other, and it has to reinforce the entire energy. Feeding off each other mobilizes them to continue that dialog out in public. I see no checks or balances in that kind of system. Oceanographers, climatologists and ecologists will go forward full speed ahead. And when the politicians need someone to express anything in those areas, they have only different shades of the same color to choose from.

    How else is it going to go? You don’t get accountants in oceanography; nor physicists in ecology; nor dentists in climatology.

    The advocacy is built into who is attracted to those fields. And who is? People who have bought into the “We are killing the planet” idea and think that the planet NEEDS them.

    • Actually many scientists (at least of the generations that are 40 yrs and older) come to oceanography and climate science through the fields of physics and chemistry and engineering, although there is also a tree hugger contingent, but these tend to go into the more qualitative aspects of the field. A generalization, but that is what I have seen. I think the dynamics are changing with the younger generation, with the tree hugger contingent growing. A good topic for a sociologist to study.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      My wife just complained that I haven’t shaved. I haven’t done anything but blog, eat pistachio nuts and watch dvd’s in the background. It is my birthday tomorrow – and I am getting in some training.

      I got into engineering through environmental activism. I then went on to a Masters degree in Environmental Science. Amongst other things I was VP of the Jervis Bay Protection Committee. Mostly middle class professionals. We dropped into the AGM one year and took over from a moribund organisation. An hour later we were eating pizza and drinking champagne.

      We made national headlines one week by stopping a joint US/Australian navy exercise. Nothing against the Navy – just a PR opportunity. We sent the greenies out onto the bombing range. The point is that treehugging is not all bad – merely effective or ineffective, having tangible, appropriately formulated, real and achievable goals as opposed to reflexive opposition to development of any kind. Environmental science teaches cross-disciplinary thinking that is a very powerful way of solving problems.

      My informal polling of young environmental scientists is that they are quite skeptical of many things. Although I recall one conversation with a young ecologist. I said that the Hadley Centre CRU temperature record was not showing warming over a decade. She decided that the CRU must be some radical denier organisation. Anecdotally – from talking head radio on the government broadcaster – students are avoiding environmental science as a ‘doom science’ – an utterly false impression. I get the idea that kids go into marine biology locally on the Great Barrier Reef because it is just so much fun. They end up giving talks on tourist cruise boats. There is little problem with any of this. The kids can take care on of themselves – and the educational system must be – and usually is in my experience – organised around the principles of free enquiry. Students should be taught how to think and not what to think.

      The activists tend to come out of lsome unrelated field – ecologists such as Tim Flannery and David Suziki – physicists like James Hansen – psychologists like what’s his name – opportunistic politicians – progressive green socialists. It is a groupthink phenomenon – with all the attendant ideological architecture.

    • Well, they did produce the HadCrappyTrilogy.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I am quite unclear as to the significance of the small differences between HadCRUT3 and HadRUT4 are in your mind JCH? Which left field did you come from – or was that the top paddock? We have a saying about roos loose in the top paddock.

  108. roos? top paddock? Now there’s an idiom that will never emigrate. ;p

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  112. Excellent post Ms Curry.

    Stocker’s statement is a value judgement, no doubt. Not only is there the implicit assumption that warming is bad, and that something should be done, but there is also the following assumptions:
    -reducing climate change by reduction of greenhouse gases would not be insignificant compared to natural changes in climate
    -the uncertainty in their work, that perhaps the effects of CO2 are not as significant as they believe
    -even beyond the uncertainty: the humility that errors can be made, that no science is infallible, and that all science requires falsifiable predictions for increased certainty (which the climate models have failed to provide, and no other predictions such as extreme weather has provided such certainty either). Scientists must be able to admit they can be wrong.

    All of these things are lacking in Stocker’s statement, and the lack of each one makes the statement a value judgement. You can certainly not say it is a factual statement, in the same way that saying “an apple pie requires apples” is a factual statement, mostly because “an apple pie requires apples” it is a tautology and requires no evidence.

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