Category Archives: Uncertainty

The Fundamental Uncertainties of Climate Change

by Garth Paltridge

There is more than enough uncertainty about the forecasting of climate to allow normal human beings to be at least reasonably hopeful that global warming might not be nearly as bad as is currently touted.  Climate scientists, and indeed scientists in general, are not so lucky.  They have a lot to lose if time should prove them wrong.

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Taylor and Ravetz on the value of uncertainty

by Judith Curry

. . . this “crisp number” mode of thinking has promoted the use of over-simplistic models and masking of uncertainties that can in turn lead to incomplete understanding of problems and bad decisions. – Peter Taylor and Jerome Ravetz

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Public engagement and communicating uncertainty

by Judith Curry

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

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Reflection on reliability of climate models

by Judith Curry

Failure to communicate the relevant ‘weak link’ is sometimes under-appreciated as a critical element of science-based policy-making.

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Fallacies of risk

by Judith Curry

In addition to traditional fallacies such as ad hominem, discussions of risk contain logical and argumentative fallacies that are specific to the subject-matter. Ten such fallacies are identified, that can commonly be found in public debates on risk. They are named as follows: the sheer size fallacy, the converse sheer size fallacy, the fallacy of naturalness, the ostrich’s fallacy, the proof-seeking fallacy, the delay fallacy, the technocratic fallacy, the consensus fallacy, the fallacy of pricing, and the infallability fallacy. – Sven Ove Hansson

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Uncertainty in SST measurements and data sets

by Judith Curry

Two new papers that discuss uncertainty in surface temperature measurements.

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Uncertain future of climate uncertainty

by Judith Curry

How believable are the IPCC’s continually increasing confidence levels?

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True courage(?)

by Judith Curry

True courage is knowing when you’re wrong but refusing to admit it. - The Onion

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Inadequate uncertainty analysis in climate change assessments

by Judith Curry

Use of state-of-the-art statistical methods could substantially improve the quantification of uncertainty in assessments of climate change.

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I know I’m right (?)

by Judith Curry

A behavioral view of overconfidence.

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JC on NPR

I have an interview tonite on NPR’s All Things Considered.

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Uncertainty: lost in translation

by Judith Curry

We have looked at what uncertainty means and doesn’t mean in science, how it is measured, when it can’t be measured and how that might change through research into the big questions. Above all we asked how other people can grapple constructively with advances in knowledge and changes in thinking, instead of despairing at ‘those uncertain scientists’. – Tracey Brown and Tabitha Innocent

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Certainly not!

by Judith Curry

Good science requires cultivating doubt and finding pleasure in mystery. – Stuart Firestein

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How should we interpret an ensemble of models? Part II: Climate models

by Judith Curry

To solve these pressing problems, there needs to be much better recognition of the importance of probability models in climate science and a more integrated view of climate modelling whereby climate prediction involves the fusion of numerical climate models and statistical models. – Stephenson et al.

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Spinning the climate model – observation comparison

by Judith Curry

In the past 6 months or so, we have seen numerous different plots of the CMIP5 climate model simulations versus observations.

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Stratospheric uncertainty

by Judith Curry

The new data call into question our understanding of observed stratospheric temperature trends and our ability to test simulations of the stratospheric response to emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting substances. - Thompson et al.

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Uncertainty in observations of the Earth’s energy balance

by Judith Curry

This lack of precise knowledge of surface energy fluxes profoundly affects our ability to understand how Earth’s climate responds to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. – Graeme Stephens et al.

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Italian seismologists: guilty(?)

by Judith Curry

Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L’Aquila. – BBC

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Alternative approach to assessing climate risks

by Judith Curry

At one level, analyzing climate risks is a matter of due diligence, given mounting scientific evidence. However, there is no consensus about the means for doing so nor about whether climate models are even fit for the purpose. An alternative to the scenario- led strategy, such as an approach based on a vulnerability analysis (“stress test”), may identify practical options for resource managers. - Brown and Wilby

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Communicating uncertainties in natural hazards research

by Judith Curry

Tell me what you know.  Tell me what you don’t know.  Then tell me what you think.  Always distinguish which is which. – Colin Powell

RS Workshop on Handling Uncertainty in Weather & Climate Prediction. Part I

by Judith Curry

Later this week, the Royal Society is hosting a Workshop on Handling Uncertainty in Weather and Climate Prediction, With Application to Health, Agronomy, Hydrology, Energy and Economics.

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Uncertainty in health impacts of climate change

by Judith Curry

Health risks arise from the interaction of uncertain future climatic changes with complex ecological, physical, and socio-economic systems, which are simultaneously affected by numerous other changes, e.g. globalisation, demographic changes, and changes in land use, nutrition, health care quality. Policymaking on adaptation to health risks of climate change thus faces substantial uncertainty. – Wardekker et al.

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No consensus on consensus: Part II

by Judith Curry

I’ve been invited to write a paper on the topic of consensus in climate change.

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Psychology of Uncertainty

by Judith Curry

When we fail to distinguish between discovering order IN nature and imposing order ON nature, we have lost relationship with the very thing we yearn to know. Whereas once we were students of nature, looking to her for meaning, we now denigrate her in the belief that it is our inalienable right to have dominion. – Kerry Gordon

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Uncertainty is not your friend (?)

by Judith Curry

It is very clear that uncertainty is no one’s friend. We have seen that greater uncertainty about the evolution of the climate should give us even greater cause for concern. We have seen that all other things being equal, greater uncertainty means that things could be worse than we thought. We have also seen that greater uncertainty means that the expected damages from climate change will necessarily be greater than anticipated, and that the allowance we must make for sea level rise will also be greater than anticipated. All of those results arise from simple mathematics, and we do not even have to resort to any economic modelling to understand how greater uncertainty translates into greater risk. – Stefan Lewandowsky

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