Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation. Part V: The Science is not Settled

by Judith Curry

In Part IV, we explored the kerfuffle surrounding Fred Pearce’s attribution of “the science is settled” to Gavin Schmidt.   Kim summarizes it this way:

The great irony, as Shub has pointed out elsewhere, is that here we have alarmists fighting like cats and dogs to make sure it is well understood that the science is not settled.

Well, that is more of a reconciliation than any of us could have hoped for, for all of us to agree that the science is not settled.  Even Joe Romm is incensed by the “science is settled” statement (see here and here).  The title of Romm’s 2nd post “Fabricated quote used to discredit scientist” adds a whole new dimension:  a scientist associated with the “science is settled” statement is discredited. Wow.

So where did “the science is settled” come from?  Manacker provides some history.  It seems that journos and politicians are the main ones using this phrase.   But many scientists have used words that sound similar.  There is at least one instance of a leading IPCC scientist using these words, that I am aware of.

Richard Somerville in his essay “A response to climate change denialism” states:

1. The essential findings of mainstream climate change science are firm. This is solid settled science. The world is warming. There are many kinds of evidence: air temperatures, ocean temperatures, melting ice, rising sea levels, and much more. Human activities are the main cause. The warming is not natural. It is not due to the sun, for example. We know this because we can measure the effect of man-made carbon dioxide and it is much stronger than that of the sun, which we also measure.

I suspect that if you dig, you could find this phrase again in some of those petition like statements that 255 NAS members, or whatever group, have signed (the most recent one being  the gang of 18 letter.  The closest statement I can find in this letter is:

Congress needs to understand that scientists have concluded, based on a systematic review of all of the evidence, that climate change caused by human activities raises serious risks to our national and economic security and our health both here and around the world. It’s time for Congress to move on to the policy debate.

This is really the crux of their statement, its time to start implementing policies. I give credit to the gang of 18 for not urging drastic emissions reductions as the only logical policy option (which previous such letters have done).

What is settled?

So what actually is “settled”?   In my post “What we know with confidence” I took the list from the IPCC First Assessment Report:

We are certain of the following:

  • there is a natural greenhouse effect which already keeps the Earth wanner than it would otherwise be
  • emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface. The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it

Unfortunately, some people (the Sky Dragon group) don’t want to accept the first point, and I have devoted a number of threads to clarifying this issue, which seems resolved for all but the Sky Dragon authors and publisher.  We’re moving on.

That said, there are a whole host of uncertainties, many of which have been discussed in Climate Etc. uncertainty series.  If the science isn’t settled, this implies that there are uncertainties (some of which are reducible and many which aren’t), ambiguities (competing explanations), and ignorance.  Time to embrace the uncertainty monster.

Unsettled science can liberate the policy deadlock

“Settled science” just isn’t something that is going to happen with regards to understanding and predicting climate change.   Settled science is important politically if you are pursing the “truth to power” linear model of policy making.  This is a bad model for something as complex and uncertain as the climate system.

At the Lisbon Workshop, a conversation with Jeroen van der Sluijs illuminated how to use uncertainty in policy deliberations (note JVDS has written tons of papers on this general subject, this one is the best overview).  Here are three general models for decision making, depending on the type and level of uncertainty/ignorance (below is the off the top of my head understanding):

•  optimal decision making (truth to power): where the risk is well characterized by probabilities and statistical uncertainty, decisions can be optimized in terms of cost/loss, etc.   Attempts to put pdfs on climate sensitivity and set a 2C threshold and an associated emissions target (e.g. the IPCC/UNFCCC strategy) falls in this category.

•  robust decision making: where there is scenario uncertainty (see here), optimal decisions targeted at a most likely outcome are not robust.  By scenario uncertainty i don’t particularly mean emissions scenarios, but rather the range of sensitivities combined with natural variabilities plus the possibilities for black swans and dragon kings (e.g. abrupt climate change).  Robust policies are useful across the range of scenarios, with no regrets for the actions no matter which scenario eventually emerges.   Robust decisions regarding energy policy are ones that also address economic, security or health issues.  An example of a non robust energy policy is carbon sequestration (geologic): if one of the higher sensitivity scenarios does not emerge, you have sunk a bunch of $$ into this with no ancillary benefits, and added some potential environmental hazards.  By this reasoning, carbon sequestration would make sense only once the scenario uncertainty is reduced.

resilient decision making: where there is substantial ignorance, the only recourse is  to increase overall societal resilience.    An element of resilient decision making is flexibility in responding to new information as it becomes available, that may reduce ignorance.  General adaptation measures and economic development fall under this category.

IMO this is a hugely valuable framework for pondering the policy options (note this comes from the postnormal science paradigm).   Trying to force sensitivity into a pdf (take note James Annan) is not only bad reasoning, but detrimental to sound decision making and building political will.

Postmortem

The “truth to power” strategy has failed, a victim of the uncertainty monster.  Gavin’s statement in the email:

You would be much better off trying to find common ground on policy ideas via co-benefits (on air pollution, energy security, public health water resources etc), than trying to get involved in irrelevant scientific ‘controversies’.

Sounds like Gavin is becoming interested in robust decision strategies.   Its time for the climate scientist activists to drop the “truth to power” strategy and learn something about decision making under uncertainty.  JVDS is a very good place to start.

So perhaps the Lisbon Workshop will catalyze things by Gavin’s absence (aided by Tallbloke and Pearce), towards a more rational discussion of policy options and abandoning the “truth to power” strategy.   Admitting that the science isn’t settled makes it much more difficult to justify their dismissal of “deniers”  that have increasingly nuanced arguments (I’m not talking about Sky Dragon here).  This is the reconciliation that I want, anyways.

453 responses to “Lisbon Workshop on Reconciliation. Part V: The Science is not Settled

  1. If I have seen fur, it is because I stand on the shoulders of cats and dogs.
    ===============

  2. Lisbon conference attendees gossip about a scientist who didn’t attend, misrepresent the views of that person, publish those misrepresentations and then declare victory when it’s pointed out this is a misrepresentation.

    And of course:

    “Admitting that the science isn’t settled makes it much more difficult to justify their dismissal of “deniers” that have increasingly nuanced arguments (I’m not talking about Sky Dragon here)

    A little bit of special pleading thrown into the mix. We must now reference Dr Curry in future before we know which arguments are “ok” to dismiss and which aren’t.

    • Yes, it would probably be better to use the ones that many scientists agree to and not just Judith. She’s outlined very little to go on. We know much more, uncertainty or not. Characterizing it as a “monster” (big, scary, unmeasurable, etc) isn’t a real way to get this conversation under way, it only perhaps re-frames the issue to her liking. Let’s pick out the main conclusions of the IPCC and ask for the large body of evidence that disputes them. Or we can just agree generally and decide what to do

      Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years (see Figure SPM.1). The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture.

      The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the TAR, leading to very high confidence[7] that the global average net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m–2 (see Figure SPM.2). {2.3, 6.5, 2.9}

      Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level (see Figure SPM.3). {3.2, 4.2, 5.5}

      At continental, regional and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones.[10] {3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 5.2}

      Some aspects of climate have not been observed to change. {3.2, 3.8, 4.4, 5.3}

      Palaeoclimatic information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 m of sea level rise. {6.4, 6.6}

      Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.[12] This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns (see Figure SPM.4 and Table SPM.2). {9.4, 9.5}

      Analysis of climate models together with constraints from observations enables an assessed likely range to be given for climate sensitivity for the first time and provides increased confidence in the understanding of the climate system response to radiative forcing. {6.6, 8.6, 9.6, Box 10.2}

      Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. {10.3}

      There is now higher confidence in projected patterns of warming and other regional-scale features, including changes in wind patterns, precipitation and some aspects of extremes and of ice. {8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 9.4, 9.5, 10.3, 11.1}

      • Uncertainty is a “monster” for those that can’t leave with it, are obsessed with “truth to power” and are afraid that the mentioning of “uncertainty” will mean a policy gridlock (as if we had had anything else, so far).

        The average person with no overarching political points to score, will find little to be scared about, regarding uncertainty. It’s a part of life and millions of decisions are taken every day in full knowledge of how uncertain things are.

      • Live and not leave of course…

      • “The average person with no overarching political points to score, will find little to be scared about, regarding uncertainty. “

        Counter point:

        “Note to “deniers:” looks like you are currently denying unsettled science :) “

      • Judith, omnologos

        “…truth to power…”

        “…truth to power…failed…uncertainty monsters…”

        I see that this thread is more about random sloganeering and doing a touchdown dances. Never mind, forget I tried to participate.

      • Don’t worry, we will….very quickly.

      • Is that what you call it? —- Participating?

        To me it sounded more like “preaching.”

      • Latimer Alder

        Bye then.

      • “We know much more, uncertainty or not”

        Quote of the day for me. Thanks a lot. :)

      • And what is it that you think I am saying here? Is it anything like your last attempt to derive meaning from something?

      • You’ve apparently repeated IPCC contentions that, to a large degree, have been shown to be wrong, inaccurate or uncertain.
        What kind of bubble do you live in?

        Think I’ll go back to playing with the dog again – it’s more productive than conversation with those who’ve made up their minds and don’t want to be confused by facts. .

      • Is that a smooth haired dog you’re playing with Jim?

        Grypo seems to be happier with shaggy dog stories.

      • Naah – it’s a shaggy, red, cement-headed Golden Retriever that still makes more sense than some people. :-)

        Back to the game.

      • Do you know what a shaggy dog story is? Can you explain how this pertains to me?

      • To a “large degree”? Which ones are you referring to? Does this mean you have evidence, or just gut felling based on something else? Wrong, accurate or uncertain are three different things and you applying them to several tenets I listed above. Am I to take your word for it? Can you be more explicit?

      • …..drowned out by snores.

      • How would you like that large body of evidence delivered? But you will have to pay for packaging and shipping. Or you could just read it yourself.

      • David L. Hagen

        gryposaurus
        If you are actually interested in evidence, you should read the 800 page summary of other evidence compiled by the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC): Climate Change Reconsidered
        The contrast with IPCC etc. suggests some of the numerous large uncertainties involved which you have not addressed.

      • “Let’s pick out the main conclusions of the IPCC and ask for the large body of evidence that disputes proves them. Or we can just agree generally and decide what to do”

        Fixed that fer ya.

  3. The exact quote by John Houghton (sorry no ‘Sir’, we abolished such terms with a revolution long ago) is:

    “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.” – John Houghton ‘Me and My God’, ‘The Sunday Telegraph’, September 10, 1995.

    You might want to check here about the history of the ‘fabricated quote’:
    http://web.me.com/sinfonia1/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Clamour_Of_The_Times/Entries/2010/2/16_Quote_Unquote.html

  4. From the NRC, the science report of America’s Climate Choices, p. 21-22, emphasis added:

    “From a philosophical perspective, science never proves anything—in the manner that mathematics or other formal logical systems prove things—because science is fundamentally based on observations. Any scientific theory is thus, in principle, subject to being refined or overturned by new observations. In practical terms, however, scientific uncertainties are not all the same. Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12782&page=22

    • Roger thanks for spotting this. “much” is an interesting wiggle word, explicitly different from “most.”

      • More proof that mainstream science has been hiding the uncertainty, right?

      • Didn’t seem too prominent in the SPM

      • AR4 is a guide book for merchants of doubt

      • Yeah. Semantics.

        “most” = “more than not” (>50%???)

        “much” = a bit less; say 25-50%???. How so (i.e. are we confident that we have identified all other factors, the mechanisms by which they influence climate and the magnitude of their impact )?

        and “very likely” = defined (by IPCC) as >90%???. How so? (is this a statistically derived figure or simply a figure intended to convey “hardly any certainty”?)

        Is this, in effect, telling us that we have concluded, based on the evidence at hand, that there is a >90% (???) chance that 25-50% (???) of the observed warming (since 1850, 1901, 1976 ???) has been due to human influences?

        Seems rather “iffy” to me.

        Max

      • should be “hardly any uncertainty” (very likely)

    • Personally I agree that “the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities”, but to me the statement presents still erroneous logic. It does not make sense to connect the concept of settled facts to something that must be qualified by “much” and “very likely”.

      As a side remark I have found your book “The Honest Broker” very interesting and also written my own comments on it on my website, that you can reach by clicking my name above. There are also other comments that are related to the general subject of this chain.

    • Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming

      RPJr and Judy: agree or disagree?

      and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.

      Agree or disagree?

      (I’m not interested in anyone else’s opinion)

      • I agree with David Wojcik on this one, that the statement is illogically posed: a level of confidence (>90%) for a fuzzy statement that is quantified by the word “much.” The complexities in the science of detection and attribution have been addressed here in a previous series, and the problems in the attribution strategy by the IPCC were discussed. I am not saying the statement is false, but given the above, I am not throwing my support behind this particular statement.

      • Given that the TOA energy balance error band is three times the claimed co2 signal, this is the only tenable position to take IMO.

      • tallbloke, I have not seen this. Do you have a graphic or URL you can point me to?

      • Whether you want it or not –
        There were times when an Earth-centric universe, phlogiston, Newtonian physics and the Bohr atom were settled facts.

        The words settled facts constitute an oxymoron – regardless of who claims the truth of the proposition.

      • Ipso facto we know nothing, ipso facto while things like computer networks and semiconductors could be what makes the internet possible, one can decidedly not rule out some yet to be discovered human powers of telepathy. Such an audacious claim would assume that several fields of human inquiry are ‘settled’ and we know that only corrupt scientists out to enrich themselves would be so insincere. By corollary, until the jury comes back with a verdict on this question, I don’t see the reason for people to spend so much money on so called ‘IT equipment’ making it likely that this is all actually part of a plot to set up a world communist government at the UN.

        Semantic silliness is too many words to describe this passive aggressive nonsense. Inane will do just fine.

      • Yes. You use too many words to make too many assumptions and attribute too much nonsense to those who have said no such thing.
        Inane is a good word for it.

    • There is a simple logical error in this statement: “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts.”

      Specifically, it ignores dispute and contrary evidence. It presents a necessary condition for settled science but not a sufficient condition. For example there may be just as many observations and results that tell against the conclusion or theory. In that case the issue is entirely uncertain, and such it is with climate change. To be complete this statement must also rule out significant contrary evidence.

      I see this fallacy all the time, as when the IPCC refers to a growing body of evidence in favor of AGW. Of course it is growing, as much work is being done. But this ignores the growing body of evidence against AGW. See the trick? Putting more weight on one side of a scale does not tip it if more is also being put on the other side, and so it is with climate change.

      • Actually RP Jr may not disagree with you, he was quoting this to show an official “science is settled” type statement from the NRC.

      • Insofar as catastrophic AGW is the politically dominant Kuhnian climate science paradigm, it follows that normal science must be the usual mopping up operation where scientists produce ever smaller missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that has already revealed the big picture. Inconvenient findings are ignored, set aside for future investigation or dismissed until they are piled high enough to sustain a successful paradigmatic challenge to the conventional wisdom.

        I believe that it was Luboš Motl who once offered the example of a scientist who has a theory that all prime numbers are odd. He tests his theory and observes that 1 is a primary number. So are 3, 5 and 7! Then he encounters 9. That is an anomaly that can be looked into later. He then moves on to 11 and 13. This is the normal course of events in the Kuhnian model. And that is pretty much the way that climate science works at present.

        Like many skeptics, I prefer the Popperian model in which a single reproducible observation is sufficient to falsify a theory or hypothesis. One of many examples is the missing tropospheric hotspot. That, alas, is naively idealistic.

      • Latimer Alder

        Did I just entirely miss the point bigtime, or should his theory not have been that all odd numbers are prime rather than the reverse as you have written???

        It is trivially easy to show that no prime number can be even, hence all must be odd.

      • We’ll just skip over that inconvenient prime number, “2”.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        You’re right about him having the wording of the theory reversed, but it is worth remembering not all prime numbers are odd. That is only true when you get above two.

    • Roger or Judith: The IPCC has used climate models to show that the 20th-century record of warming can’t be reproduced without including anthropogenic warming. Unfortunately, Stainforth has shown that the IPCC’s models – which the IPCC describes as an “ensemble of opportunity” – do not systematically explore the full range of possible models that are compatible with the physics and viable parameters used to construct climate models. Furthermore, many skeptics assume that the IPCC’s models have “evolved” so as to reproduce observed 20th-century warming using anthropogenic forcing by means of compensating changes in climate- and aerosol-sensitivity. (Any model that “evolved” in another direction could suffer a form of “natural selection” or even “extinction” due to lack of funding or scientific visibility.)

      The full uncertainty inherent in the anthropogenic component of 20th-century warming can be properly assessed by multiplying estimates of 20th-century radiative forcing by estimates of climate sensitivity. According to AR4, total anthropogenic radiative forcing (since 1750, but mostly 20th-century) is 0.6-2.4 W/m2 (2SD) or roughly 1.6+/-0.45 W/m2 (1SD). Climate sensitivity is commonly assumed to be 1.5-4.5 degK/2XCO2 (or 0.4-1.2 degK/W/m2), but this range (“very likely” rather than “extremely likely”) doesn’t represent two full standard deviations of uncertainty . Let’s approximate that range as 3.0+/-1.0 (1SD). One thousand trial multiplications of forcings and climate sensitivities with this distribution of values afforded an anthropogenic warming of 1.30 +/- 0.60 degK (1SD) or a range of 0.1-2.5 degK (2SD). This is a proper estimate of the uncertainty in the estimated anthropogenic contribution to 20th-century warming. The large uncertainty makes any statements of attribution appear unreasonable.

      The above information can be used to calculate the likelihood that half of 20th-century warming (0.7 degK) is attributable to anthropogenic forcing. A warming of 0.35-0.70 degK represents 1.0-1.6 standard deviations (or z scores) below the mean and 10% of the probability distribution. A warming of 0.00-0.35 degK represents z scores of -2.2 to -1.6) or 4.2% of the distribution. So the anthropogenic component of 20th century warming is only 2.5 times more likely to be 0.35-0.70 degK rather than 0.00-0.35 degK (far below the IPCC’s definition of “very likely”).

      The above analysis is flawed because it uses equilibrium climate sensitivity in place of transient climate sensitivity. Many believe that about 0.5 degK of “committed warming” will occur before temperature reaches equilibrium with constant current forcing. Adding 0.5 degK to the observed 0.7 degK gives a total warming of 1.2 degK, much closer to the calculated value of 1.3+/-0.6. If at least half of the observed 0.7 degK warming were anthropogenic, the temperature rise would be 0.85-1.20 degK, represent z scores of -0.17 to -0.75 and 21% of the probability distribution. If less than half were anthropogenic, the rise would be 0.50-0.85 degK, representing z scores of -1.33 to -0.75, and 14% of the probability distribution. Under this scenario, the anthropogenic component of 20th century warming is only 1.5 times more likely to be 0.85-1.20 degK rather than 0.50-0.85 degK (falling below even the IPCC’s definition of “likely”).

      If we divide the observed plus committed warming into two halves, the anthropogenic component of 20th century warming is only 2.9 times more likely to be 0.6-1.2 degK rather than 0.0-0.6 degK. Even this generous interpretation doesn’t qualify.

      If one assumes that 1.5-4.5 degK does represent full two standard deviations of uncertainty in climate sensitivity, calculated anthropogenic temperature rise is 1.30+/-0.50 (rather than +/-0.60). The likelihood that the majority of 20th-century warming can be attributed to anthropogenic forcing rises modestly for the above three scenarios: 2.5 to 3.7 times, 1.5 to 1.9 times, and 2.9 to 4.6 times. Finally, if one cuts both 95% confidence intervals in half (1.1-2.1 W/m2 and 2.0-4.0 degK), the uncertainty in projected temperature rise would be reduced to +/-0.29 degK. For the second scenario (observed plus “committed” warming) – which appears to be he most sensible scenario to me – the anthropogenic component of 20th century warming is only 5 times more likely to be 0.85-1.20 degK rather than 0.50-0.85 degK (again failing to meet the IPCC’s definition of “very likely”).

      By improperly using statistics derived from the IPCC’s “ensemble of opportunity” rather their own assessment of the uncertainty in radiative forcing and climate sensitivity, the IPCC and the NAS over-estimate the reliability with which they attribute most/much of 20th-century warming to anthropogenic forcing. The IPCC’s “ensemble of opportunity” does not explore the full range of possible anthropogenic forcing and climate sensitivity. It can’t – each model has a fixed (but different) climate sensitivity and each model inputs a single value (not a range) for how each forcing varied with time.

      The uncertainty in anthropogenic forcing is generally believed to prevent climate science from using 20th-century warming to place useful limits on the range of possible climate sensitivity. The converse is also true: Uncertainty in anthropogenic forcing and climate sensitivity prevents placing useful limits on the range of possible anthropogenic contribution to 20th-century warming.

      • Latimer Alder

        Hi Frank

        For those not necessarily familiar with the intimate details, a summary para and a conclusion para would help to emphasise your points.

        This blog has a general as well as a specialist audience. Thanks.

      • The short form is that, if your models cannot reproduce observed 20th century warming without including an anthropogenic CO2 forcing parameter, that does not mean that anthropogenic CO2 forced warming actually exists, let alone is as large as the value of your anthropogenic CO2 forcing parameter.

        It is tempting to conclude that if your model containing W, X,& Y fits better with parameter Z inserted, then Z must be real. It aint necessarily so. Could be that W, X, & Y are wrong. Or, that the observations you are trying to fit to are wrong. Or that you should be adding Q instead of Z. Or that you should be adding Q and Z, but with Z at only 1/4 the value you have currently chosen. Or, adding Q, R, & S rather than the full value of Z. Or some combination of all of the above. People looking for Z (consciously or not) tend to create Z sized holes, and only fill them with Z.

        We know that there is at least a Q (cloud forcing) missing from current models. That may be tied to an R (solar activity other than total insolation). Do we have an S (multi-decadal heat storage and release from the non-surface components of the earth’s climate system), T(?), U(?), V(?), etc? And what are the errors and ignorance in our current valuation of existing parameters ? The temp increase predicted by the various models differs by hundreds of percent … why? Those are the sort of questions that are answered by validating the models …

      • Nice one JJ. Your post is nice and simple and captures my concerns. I would also add that as well as identifying P,Q,R, S etc, it is important to understand how each subsystem relates to nother in the chaos of the real world. A little more Z may cause a decrease P which causes an increase in…etc etc.

      • Thanks, a summary:

        1) The IPCC’s climate models – ensembles of opportunity – cannot properly describe the uncertainty in the anthropogenic contribution to 20th century warming. The models have a limited range of climate sensitivity and (presumably) input one value, not a range of values, for anthropogenic forcing.

        2) The anthropogenic contribution to 20th-century warming can be properly estimated by multiplying (Monte Carlo) an anthropogenic forcing of 1.6+/-0.45 W/m2 by a climate sensitivity of 3.0+/-1.0 to afford anthropogenic warming of 1.3+/-0.6 degK. (All ranges are 1 St. Dev.) The observed 20th-century temperature rise is comparable one standard deviation of the uncertainty in the estimated anthropogenic component of that rise, so robust attribution appears improbable.

        3) One can calculate the areas under this probability distribution (1.3+/-0.6) that correspond to the hypotheses that the anthropogenic component of 20th century warming is: a) 50-100% of the observed temperature rise or b) 0-50% of the observed temperature rise. The relative areas under the distribution give the relative likelihoods that each hypothesis is correct. Relative areas of >9:1 would demonstrate that the anthropogenic contribution was “very likely” greater than 50%, but the actual ratio is much smaller.

        4) Estimates of 20th-century warming require the use of transient climate sensitivity, but the cited values are for equilibrium climate sensitivity. To address this problem, the analysis was performing with and without adding 0.5 degK of “committed warming” to an observed warming of 0.7 degK. The sum, 1.2 degK, is consistent with the central estimate for the anthropogenic component of warming, 1.3 degK.

        5) The failure to attribute >50% of warming to anthropogenic forcing with >90% confidence is robust to sensible changes in how the analysis is done.

      • Frank, this is quite elegant. It illustrate the fact that most of the debate is about meta-scientific statistical analysis of uncertainty, not about the physical science per se. Very little of the specific scientific results are being questioned, with the glaring exception of the hockey stick. The debate is about what it all means, or adds up to. Statistical analysis is central.

        However, I note your central reference to “the observed 0.7 degK warming.” This is in no sense an observation. It is actually the mean value of a hugely complex, and highly questionable, statistical model. These so-called observations are actually questionably statistical averages of averages of averages of averages, of bad data. Let’s throw these uncertainties into your pot.

      • David: 0.7 degK is the global warming over the 20th century reported by CRU, GISS, etc. for all the thermometers reporting on surface temperature around the globe. (CRU and GISS work has uncertainty, but the value is accepted by the IPCC.) The IPCC believes that computer models prove that at least 0.35 degK of this warming is attributable to anthropogenic forcing. But we don’t know climate sensitivity and anthropogenic forcing accurately enough to make this claim. The IPCC’s climate models don’t include the uncertainty in estimates of radiative forcing. The models differ in their innate climate sensitivity, but they weren’t chosen to properly cover the range of climate sensitivity estimated by other means.

  5. AnyColourYouLike

    This whole Gavin-gate thing is just a joke. I mean seriously, adults ranting back and forth about propriety and trying to pull the moral high-ground rug from each others feet. To see people insult and abuse, each other using any gossipy issue to justify their infantile polarisation is embarrasing. This issue isn’t even a “storm in a teacup”, it’s a fart in the wind.

    • Part IV is the place to discuss pearcegate/gavingate. We are focusing on “science is settled” and decision making under uncertainty on this thread.

  6. It’s always difficult to follow kim on a thread, but here goes:

    The survey used to generate the figure ‘97% of climate scientists believe in the consensus’ has two questions. Do you believe the earth is getting warmer and do you believe human activities contribute to that warming. I would sign both of those. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.

    But that is not the Consensus with a capital C. The Consensus presumes to know how human activities cause that warming–and I think they’ve got it badly wrong and should engage Dr. Pielke Sr. at length on this subject. The Consensus presumes to know the warming’s effects if nothing is done–and I think they’ve got it badly wrong and should start reading good science fiction instead of bad. And the Consensus has agreed on remediation policies. They’ve not only gotten this wrong, but they kinda forgot to ask us about it.

    FWIW, I think human emissions of CO2 contribute to global warming. I think sound policies to abate those emissions should go forward, along with attempts to address other sources of human effects on climate. I would support a low carbon tax that was evaluated against metrics every ten years. I completely support technology transfer to developing countries to help insure that the energy they desperately need to continue their miraculous development is as clean as we can get it.

    But I, and many others who believe similarly, am classed as a ‘denier.’ It isn’t because of my beliefs about policy, which are not too different to what is supposed. It is because I do not think science has adequately addressed uncertainty, which makes the scope and voluntary nature of the policies I support get twisted into something unrecognizable.

    Schmidt does not want to debate the science with people like you, Dr. Curry, or Steve McIntyre. That is because he cannot address core issues ranging from the general–sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2–to the specific–roles of clouds, aerosols, accuracy of temperature records, etc.

    But he does not want to debate policy with people like Roger Pielke Jr. either.

    At the end of the day, he wants to talk policy with scientists and science with policy wonks. This allows him to be dismissive and as cloudy as he likes.

    • Tom,

      That is a set up question. It would be like how much harm are we doing to this planet permanently?
      Truthfully, if our species was gone, then the water we exchanged for oil to keep the pressure up would be the only permanent change we have done to the planet. Everything else could be wiped clean and started over.

      We do contribute to the change of the planet but how much? We are more harming ourselves than actually harming this planet. The planet is not stationary, it keeps evolving.

    • steven mosher

      Hi Tom.

      “Schmidt does not want to debate the science with people like you, Dr. Curry, or Steve McIntyre. That is because he cannot address core issues ranging from the general–sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2–to the specific–roles of clouds, aerosols, accuracy of temperature records, etc.”

      I think Gavin does not want to discuss the science OUTSIDE a process he knows and loves and has some measure of control over. He does want to discuss the science on his ground. on his playing field. Ideally however he does not want to discuss the science because he wants to discuss Policy.
      Again, he wants to discuss policy on his grounds, his playing field, his rules

      Its not that the science is settled
      Its not that there are no controversies in the science.

      Its that Gavin wants to discuss the science on his terms, if he has to, and he would rather move onto a policy discussion ON his terms and turf.

      Greeting from Reno ( go packers)

      • Hiya Steve

        Don’t pull too many handles!

        I have no problem leaving all discussion to the realm of peer review if we all agree not to spend any money or pass any laws before it is finished.

        However, if by chance some people feel that the matters involved are more pressing and require more immediate action, then they will have to pursue these subjects outside the hallowed halls of academia and the traditional thrust and parry of peer review. They will have to sell their story and talk to us commoners with our pitchforks.

      • Agreed.

        The hilarious thing ( steve Mc noted this to me, so hat tip to him) people have for YEARS told gavin and company how to engage the commoners with the pitchforks. But they are not open to suggestions.

        The best bet for AGW is to get a new crew of spokespeople.

      • Great comment Tom.

        Damn the torpedoes, warp speed captain.

      • Latimer Alder

        It is noticeable that a number of drive-by posters from The Guardian’s CiF appeared on this blog a day or so ago. They complained loudly about the (lack of) moderation here, about what they deem to be unacceptable positions that some have taken, and generally tried to act as modern-day Witchfinders General – demanding that we should all answer their accusations about whatever real or imagined slights they have suffered.

        It is also noticeable that having failed to gain any traction with their hectoring and foot-stomping, they have mostly disappeared once more. Perhaps it was the lack of subservient moderators such as at CiF, ever ready to delete any non-compliant posts, that frightened them away to easier pastures.

        I suspect that many of the climate mainstream suffer from the same syndrome. Ten years of being largely unchallenged and underscrutinised have left them weak, flabby and believing only in their own omniscience and propaganda. But the times they are a changing……

    • Tom, regarding you statement that “I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t.” Allow me to introduce myself.

    • et moi!

      The first question is in doubt because we’re in an interglacial period and may not have topped out yet – or we may have. Although I believe the former, I wouldn’t bet a plugged nickel on it. IMO it is absolutely uncertain at this time.

      For the second question – it’s badly phrased and I would not sign on to it. That specific question can – and has been – used to claim that AGW is entirely anthropogenic. A properly phrased question would ask “how much of the past warming do you believe is attributable to human influence?” Signing on to the original question would be signing on to the entire CAGW program.

      Obviously YMMV

      • ….and herein lies the core of the debate. Most of the consensus position. at least in terms of public support, relies upon sleight of hand. If I’m asked to give a “yes’ or “no” answer to Tom’s questions I, like him, would answer “yes” to both, even though my own interpretation of man’s influence is less than his and certainly more to do with Pielke Snr’s position than Co2 emissions alone.

        However, by answering yes to both, I become an unwilling participant in the “people demand action now on climate change” movement by proxy. Thus I’m forced to consider answering “no” to both questions simply to avoid giving oxygen to what I perceive as extreme economic and political views, extrapolated form such questions. This, of course, leads to the use of the “D” word, etc, etc.

        However, I no longer think this is anything major to worry about. Sites such as this clearly demonstrate that us “pitchfork holders” have a far greater grasp of the nuances of this debate than many of the more prominent advocates have allowed for. It strikes me that many western governments are now adopting far more pragmatic approaches to the climate change issue, influenced no doubt by the informed opinions of those who would be paying the bills and marking their cross on the ballot paper.

    • There may well have been such a debate between Roger Pielke Jr. and Professor Mike Hulme. We were not invited to listen under the Chatham House Rule.
      Pielke, Jr, Roger A. 2010. The Hartwell Paper. Scientific. Roger Pielke Jr.’s Blog. May 11. http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/05/hartwell-paper.html
      The paper itself is here: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27939/1/HartwellPaper_English_version.pdf
      The outcome included “Land Use” and “UHI” as forcing mechanisms independent of the radiative effects of GHG emissions (Pages 22 – 23). This is some progress.

  7. Direct link to the PDF archive showing the quote in context: http://john-adams.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/houghton-and-god.pdf

  8. From the EPA Endangerment finding:

    “[T]he scientific evidence of climate change is overwhelming and greenhouse gases pose a real threat to the American people.

    The question of the science is settled.”
    http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment/resources.html

    • Sounds like the same science Judith Curry is attempting to settle on this blog: radiative physics and the greenhouse effect and that the greenhouse effect is causing warming.

    • Roger Andrews

      I think it’s important to recognize that we are dealing with two types of “science” here.

      The first is what might be termed “basic” science, i.e. are man-made emissions causing atmospheric CO2 concentrations to increase, does a CO2 increase cause warming, all other things being equal etc. etc? Here the science does appear to be more or less settled. The second is what might be termed “predictive” science, which attempts to quantify future warming impacts. This involves consideration of a large number of uncertainties and more than a little crystal-ball gazing. And here the science, if such it can be called, is far from settled.

      And when the EPA claims that the science is settled, which science is it referring to? Clearly the predictive variety. There’s no way CO2 could be classified as a “threat” or a “pollutant” based on historic experience. Life on earth in fact couldn’t continue without it. The politicians who “know” that global warming is “real” – and who set policy for agencies like the EPA – are also assuming that the predictive science is settled. And so is the UNFCCC, which uses predictive science to conclude that the world must limit global warming to within 2C of pre-industrial levels to prevent environmental disaster. In short, the regulatory tone is being set by predictive science that has not been settled at all.

      So when we talk about the “science being settled” we must specify exactly what “science” we are referring to. It would also be nice if we could get policymakers to recognize that agreement on climate science fundamentals does not necessarily translate into reliable climate projections. As Yogi Berra once observed: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

      • Your distinction between “basic” (or observed) and “predictive” science tells it all.

        The first may be “settled” (assuming the observations are valid), but the second is anything but “settled”.

        And that is the one that is being discussed here.

        Max

      • This issue NEEDS to be litagated in the US based upon the currently understood science and not expensive speculation.

    • Some things in science are settled, others aren’t. So what?

      (and great link to RPJr’s blog up there)

    • Roger Caiazza

      The problem I see is that there is a major leap from the “What is settled” IPCC conclusions in this posting to the policy implementation regulations coming out. Let me reinforce Roger Pielke’s point about the endangerment finding.

      Although Congressional action may be stalled EPA action has not. Sadly instead of using the more appropriate framework described by Dr. Curry, EPA is steaming full speed ahead with its linear model of policy implementation based on the endangerment finding (http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html) which EPA described as follows: “On April 2, 2007, in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), the Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act. The Court held that the Administrator must determine whether or not emissions of greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare, or whether the science is too uncertain to make a reasoned decision. In making these decisions, the Administrator is required to follow the language of section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court decision resulted from a petition for rulemaking under section 202(a) filed by more than a dozen environmental, renewable energy, and other organizations.”
      “On April 17, 2009, the Administrator signed proposed endangerment and cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. EPA held a 60-day public comment period, which ended June 23, 2009, and received over 380,000 public comments. These included both written comments as well as testimony at two public hearings in Arlington, Virginia and Seattle, Washington. EPA carefully reviewed, considered, and incorporated public comments and has now issued these final Findings.”

      The result is that there are policy implementation actions going ahead that do try to limit CO2 concentrations. As Roger Andrews points out EPA and other regulatory bodies are basing their policy recommendations on predictive science. In my opinion they also manage to make their recommendations without using the predictive science to clearly state the projected change in global mean temperatures that would result from their action. When you do that the weakness of this approach is obvious.

      • The Clean Air Act is a broadly written, steaming pile of poor legislation, which (per Scalia’s dissent) covers everything from Frisbees to flatulence. – SCALIA, J. (Dissenting, Page 10 footnote 2)

  9. This climate stuff is beyond parody now.

    You get up in the morning eager to save the planet from a terrible catastrophe – or worse.

    And before nightfall you’re all bitchin’ and whining about who said what to whom.

  10. Didn’t Andy Revkin rescue the Cancún Conference from approving some kind of “settled science” statement that would have been quite embarrassing to say the least?

    • First, in a rational world it would not be embarrassing. We live in “not irrational” times where people apparently see “settled science” in almost any possible combination of words. Why? Because it has become a battle cry for the opposition.

      Look for “settled science” in Revkin’s article on what he detected in a draft and how it was changed. I’m fully confident you will see “the science is settled” in several combinations of other words. It’s obvious people can pull it out of their proverbial.

      As for for rational usage of settled science, on this blog Judith Curry is attempting to “settle the science” on radiative physics and the greenhouse effect so she can move on to the unsettled meat. There have been a large number of comments from people here pleading for others to accept the greenhouse effect so the blog can move on to the unsettled meat.

  11. Judith Curry,

    “Trying to force sensitivity into a pdf (take note James Annan) is not only bad reasoning, but detrimental to sound decision making and building political will.”

    He and she did take note and found your analysis, as did I, to be rather vacant.

    • Yeah, james annan is a great expert on decision making under uncertainty.

      • Dr. Curry,

        Have you produced any peer reviewed work on decision making under uncertainty or are your thoughts on this still confined to this blog?

        Do you have anything beyond the “Intalian flag analysis” that might quantify your approach and enable some meaningful application to the question of what to do, if anything, about anthropogenic climate disruption?

      • Paul, I have one paper in submission (lost in limbo somewhere, I need to check on it). I suggest reading the Dessai and Van der Sluijs report (linked to in the main post) for an introduction some of the general strategies that make sense to me. But at this point, I mainly plan to explore these ideas on the blog (hope to get back to this topic shortly).

      • Paul Middents

        Dr. Curry,

        Dessai and Van der Sluijs state in their conclusions:

        “In the Netherlands it is now widely recognized that adaptation to climate change has become unavoidable. Adaptation decisions are needed or expected in a wide range of sectors of Dutch society, such as water, nature, agriculture, energy, transport, housing and infrastructure, recreation, fisheries, and health.”

        Your blog comments are dominated by people who disagree vehemently with this conclusion. You list a few conclusions from climate science that you agree with yet you seem quite equivocal on the need for adaptation and I don’t hear much from you on any need for mitigation.

        I also note that Dessai and Van der Sluijs reference the work of Annan and Hargreves and include Bayseian analysis in their toolkit for decision making under uncertainty. Annan and Hargreves offer something in the way of quantifying risk as it relates to CO2 sensitivity. You dismissed them with a rather casual wave of the hand on a previous thread. I think their inclusion in the work of those whom you now say you will be drawing from might warrant some reassessment on your part.

      • Paul, I appreciate your reading the fine print. When I recommend a paper to read, I do not endorse everything it says. Further, authors ideas evolve with time (mine certainly do). In my discussion with van der Sluijs at the Workshop, we both agreed that the uncertainty surrounding sensitivity was scenario uncertainty, and not statistical uncertainty (something to create a pdf for). I stand by my previous statements on that topic. I also stand by my recommendation of the Dessai and Van der Sluijs paper as a good overall introduction to these ideas.

      • With regards to mitigation, I have stated that the strategy of CO2 stabilization is not a robust strategy. I have mentioned other energy policies that are more robust. I have not gotten into any kind of detailed discussion on specific policies (i generally stay away from that); rather I am discussing decision analytic frameworks here.

      • Paul Middents

        Your discussion sounds very uncertain. Decision analytic frameworks for what? Adaptation? Mitigation? Both? By whom?

        I thought climate sensitivity was a function of the physics of the climate. How is that scenario dependent? I would like to hear from D & V how their views have evolved. Statements like yours involving informal discussions at conferences don’t tell me much.

        My question are somewhat rhetorical in nature. They are offered for your consideration in future posts. Please don’t refer me to previous posts. I have followed them and I am getting increasingly confused by where you are going with all this.

      • A framework for making decisions under uncertainty. Re your second paragraph: Regarding what scenario uncertainty is, read the uncertainty monster thread, and also the scenario thread, and also the sensitivity thread. I know this isn’t what you wanted hear, but the issues surrounding your questions in the 2nd para are explained in these threads. I often have to go back and read things more than once; as my overall understanding of a topic increases, i can go back to something i read before and get a lot more out of it.

        In terms of where I am going with all this. I think the overconfident type of analysis that provide statements like the sensitivity is 3C, or within some sort of narrow bound are scientifically indefensible based upon our background knowledge. This kind of overconfident exactness is providing the rationale for UNFCCC policies that target specific atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and a timeline for achieving this. This is really really bad policy IMO. This does not mean I am against reducing CO2 emissions, but this strategy of stabilization targets is the wrong way to go about it. I am trying to lay the foundation for a different way of thinking about policies regarding reducing our vulnerability to climate variability and change. This is not a simple problem with a simple solution.

      • Bad policy, because…? Concentrations don’t scale with emissions? Radiative balance doesn’t matter? Forcing doesn’t scale with concentrations? Just where is this uncertainty and what is it about the IPCC take on efforts to bound it do you find uncovincing?

        Please do tell Dr. Curry. Because I can tell you for nothing that the economics of risk are not equivocal given what we do know about anthropogenic forcing. Risk aversion is not inelastic in wealth and ruin risk has a potency all its own.

      • Judith,

        The problem is that much of the time you are arguing from assertion…

        “I think the overconfident type of analysis that provide statements like the sensitivity is 3C, or within some sort of narrow bound are scientifically indefensible based upon our background knowledge. This kind of overconfident exactness”

        “Trying to force sensitivity into a pdf (take note James Annan) is not only bad reasoning, but detrimental to sound decision making and building political will.”

        which links to…

        “The issue that I have with this is that the level of ignorance is sufficiently large that probabilities determined from Bayesian analysis are not justified.”

        which is based on…

        “My comments here relate specifically to determination of equilibrium climate sensitivity from climate models. Stainforth et al. (2007) argue that model inadequacy and an inadequate number of simulations in the ensemble preclude producing meaningful probability PDFs from the frequency of model outcomes of future climate.”

        But whereas Stainforth et al. *assert* that climate models cannot be used to create reliable pdfs, Annan & Hargreaves used empirical observations of ERBE data as their likelihood function to determine sensitivity of the posterior distribution to choice of prior, some of the priors they choose being very uninformative (e.g. U[0,20]). So the basis of your objection seems entirely orthogonal both to the methods used and their objectives. Stainforth et al. restate Hume’s problem of induction that the past may not be a reliable guide to the future, well yeah, that applies in any situation and hasn’t stopped useful applications of probability theory, there is no evidence that probability theory is not applicable here… just assertion that it isn’t.

        Does consideration of every outcome that cannot be deemed impossible (however that is meant to be determined), including outcomes that are deemed to be extremely implausible based on current knowledge, in an “imprecise probability” framework, provide for more useful estimates and better decision making? I think you need to provide more convincing argument that it does. Including more detailed explations of what these “imprecise probability” estimates actually mean… in the real world.

      • Yep, I’ve read all of those, and they don’t respond to my criticisms really. In fact some of the quotes above came from the first link.

      • Indeed, I’ve read them as well and can confirm there are a lot of words.

        I do find the emphasis on emissions in a policy context especially curious, given that underestimation of energy/carbon intensity counts the IPCC as overly conservative- a potentiality we can assume Dr. Curry excludes- while overestimation reduces costs with damages leaving the message unchanged. Growth assumptions are similarly a wash.

        The action regards uncertainty in the context of sensitivity, and it’s extraordinarily difficult to back out Dr. Curry’s meaningful differences from the mainstream view in that regard from these posts.

        Is a high-level summary really so much to ask for? This blog’s bête noir manages those over on RealClimate every day…

  12. Judith,

    The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it

    Can we really be certain of this, especially my bolded bit?

  13. > If the science isn’t settled, this implies that there are uncertainties (some of which are reducible and many which aren’t), ambiguities (competing explanations), and ignorance.

    I thought it was the other way around.

    And I also thought that competing explanations do not always entail ambiguities.

    If there are some irreducible uncertainties, why trumpet them as arguments for one’s pet political theories?

  14. I would like to pose the question: why should climate scientists be involved in decision making other than as an information source? What in their backgrounds gives them experience to make major economic and engineering decisions? Certainly, they have can, and probably should, have opinions on issues associated with climate. However, their authority in other fields should be scaled to their actual worth.

    Reconciliation might be achieved simply by folks admitting their actual areas of expertise.

    • As i pointed out in my AGU presentation (the link is near the end of the post), the decision analytic model (in this case truth to power strategy by the UNFCCC) influences the kinds of analyses that scientists do and even has framed the problem that IPCC is actually assessing. Further, there are a number of scientists activists (for better or for worse, se Pielke Jr’s analysis in the Honest Broker) who are interested in the policy issue. And finally because of the politicization of the issue, the science policy interface is becoming rather disfunctiontal, to the detriment of both the science and the decision making process. Kevin Trenberth seems to think the scientists should be calling the policy shots (as per his recent essay at AMS). All this is a big mess, and PNS shows us a way to understand these things and avoid pitfalls both in the science and the decision making process.

      • Dr. Curry,

        Your response reads, to me at least, as if you are saying “The camel’s nose is already under the tent flap so there is no stopping it now. We will just have to muddle through by define a new operating structure.” I suppose that is true or we wouldn’t need Climate Etc. I guess my question was just a little of my frustration leaking through.

      • Judith,

        “Kevin Trenberth seems to think the scientists should be calling the policy shots (as per his recent essay at AMS). All this is a big mess, and PNS shows us a way to understand these things and avoid pitfalls both in the science and the decision making process.”

        Judith, please. Trenberth dedicated his AMS presentation to PNS guru Stephen Schneider, and in both that dedication and the presentation itself he advocated inverting the null hypothesis WRT global warming. This tactic is typical of PNS advocates, and Trenberth’s formulation of that argument could have been lifted from Ravetz’s The Post Normal Science of Precaution (2004).

        Please stop pretending that PNS is some sort of answer to the shenanagins of people like Schneider, Hulme, Trenberth, etc. They are PNS early adopters.

        Further, Trenberth’s AMS presentation did not state that ‘the scientists should be calling the policy shots’. To the contrary, he stated more than once that he thought that the science was supposed to be ‘policy relevant, not policy prescriptive’.

        What he did argue is that the scientists should be calling the science shots – whereby he clearly intends that only ‘official climate scientists’ such as himself are to be permitted to contribute to the science. Everyone who disagrees with his science is charicatured as a ‘denier’. This is contrary to the current philosophy of science, which does not place value on title or ‘expertise’ of the person doing the science, nor does it permit ad hom argumentation. Unlike Trenberth, science relies only on the data, methods, reasoning and the repeatability of the results.

        ‘Lay scientists’ like McIntyre have used that facet of ‘normal science’ to good effect against the team’s bad science, and the only reason that it has not been even more successful is the refusal of people like Trenberth, Mann, Jones, etc to adhere to the precepts of the philosophy of science. When scientists refuse to follow the philosophy of science, the solution is not to replace the philosophy of science with PNS (they will corrupt that, too). The solution is to replace the arrogant, recalcitrant ‘scientists’.

        Trenberth also parroted the standard PNS objection that politicians are corrupted by corporate interests, and thus use uncertainty to ignore the science. Then he laid out the Team’s current version of the PNS ‘Stakes are high’ method for overcoming that ‘problem’ – make assertions that the scary manifestations of natural variability are global warming (Stephen “Scary Story” Schneider no doubt smiling from the great beyond). He even took the opportunity to practice a bit of that himself right then, pegging the floods in Pakistan, India, China and Australia floods, and Russian forest fires to global warming. If PNS needs high stakes, he will provide them, and will happily paper over any scientific problems with the attribution with the concept of ‘irreducible uncertainty’.

        PNS is neither necessary nor sufficient to deal with the likes of Trenberth. To the contrary, they understand how the politics of PNS will benefit them, and are already using it to their advantage.

      • Ouch. that is going to leave some marks.

  15. Dr. Curry,

    You state:

    We are certain of the following:

    ■there is a natural greenhouse effect which already keeps the Earth wanner than it would otherwise be
    ■emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface. The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it.

    In my opinion, you should have left that last sentence unstated. Doesn’t this statement assume the certainty of positive feedback in the climate system when some respected climate research would indicate a net negative feedback?

    All of the greenhouse gases you listed, other than water vapor, constitute a relatively lower concentration and variable component of the atmosphere. These gases, of which carbon dioxide is the most abundant, may be important contributors to the so-called greenhouse effect in cold and dry locations, but they have a negligible effect in warm humid locations where water vapor, clouds, and precipitation play a much more significant role in energy tranfer.

    Much is not yet certain regarding feedback.

    • Doc, those statements are from the IPCC FAR, they aren’t my statements. I agree that the last sentence in 2nd bullet is a topic of scientific debate, doesn’t rate the same level of certainty as the other statements.

  16. The strength of a chain is it’s weaest link. To me, the weakest link in the chain of “proving” CAGW, is the step which estimates the change in global surface temperature for the change in radiative forcing resulting from a doubling of CO2. IMHO, this particular step is so obviously wrong that I wonder why people like Richard Lindzen seem to support it.

    First the idea of no-feed back sensitivity makes no sense from any point of view. The number as to what the no-feedback sensitivity is, has not been measured, and almost certainly can NEVER be measured. The step never was, and never will be anything approaching what I understand as the “scientific method”. Tomas Milancovic has shown that the way the estimations are done is nonsense. The value of the no-feedback sensitivity for a doubling of CO2 is a purely hypothetical and completely meaningless number. The whole preocess is so utterly unscientific that I wonder why anyone endorses it.

    I wonder if EOttawa is reading this and wants to join in a discussion of this topic with me.

  17. From Roger Pielke’s blog, mike calmly says:

    > As for killing the messenger, if said messenger is an extremely one-eyed, arrogant, alarmist whose mantra is “The science is settled”, then yes, somebody give me a gun!

    Source: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/02/trenberth-christy-and-pielke-on-ipcc.html?showComment=1267080170571#c9092926336699312675

    • Latimer Alder

      Relevant to this discussion because of what???

      • Thank you for asking the question.

        Here is what Judith says:

        > Settled science is important politically if you are pursing the “truth to power” linear model of policy making.

        This game is also played by any Joe Sixpack who’d shoot any messenger that he considers extremely one-eyed, arrogant, alarmist whose mantra is “The science is settled.”

        That should be enough to wonder why Judith attributes the “truth to power” game to the establishment, here personalized by Gavin Schmidt, but also exemplified by the EPA and the NRC.

        In fact, let’s wonder Judith’s strategy should not be considered itself as a truth to power kind. Joe Sixpack can easily see the personalization game. With some reading experience of climage blogs, he could even recognize the contrarian flavour of the Science is Settled game.

      • Latimer Alder

        I think I’ll come back to this if it gets translated into readable and understandable English. Whatever meaning it may currently have is so obscure as to have passed me by.

        Hint ‘The Cat Sat on the Mat’.

      • I’m curious, Latimer. Do you know what “truth to power” means?

        If that was explained in sentences like the cat sat on the mat, I’m quite sure you can explain that one to me.

        You can ask Joe Sixpack for help.

      • Latimer Alder

        Watch my lips:

        I (and seemingly countless others) do not understand your posts. I cannot translate your words back to you because I do not understand them in the first place.

        Simple rule to facilitate communication:

        If the recipient cannot understand the meaning, it is the sender’s responsibility to retry in a form that can be understood. It is not ‘clever’ to play games – if the message is worth sending at all, which I am beginning to doubt.

        Many years ago as a schoolboy I took great delight in talking with my little chums in a secret code the we proudly thought the adults could not understand. But then I hit puberty and discovered that being clear and direct was a far better option.

      • Latimer,

        To make sure to write at your level, I need to know what you understand of Judith’s post.

        If you do not know what “truth to power” means, not only you do not understand my words, but you don’t understand Judith’s.

        I am not sure you want to convey the idea that you do not understand Judith’s words.

        So, what do “truth to power” means to you?

      • You are quite capable of understanding my level from previous interactions.

        I’ll leave you to play your games by yourself on this one.

      • What I am saying can be condensed into this:

        Judith talks about “truth to power” and associates it with the motto “Science is Settled”.

        Judith seems to forget that the motto “Science is Settled” can be used by contrarians to shame and mock the scientific establishment.

        In fact, one has to wonder if she’s not doing something that in this serie.

        I can document the contrarian flavour of the Science is Settled transaction game. The quote was there to show that it’s done.

        I can show you more quotes if you need.

        Or you can DIY by googling:

        site:rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com “science is settled”

        There are more than 50 hits just there.

        ***

        Quite frankly, I do not know what you did understand from Judith’s post from your previous interactions, most of which were “yes, but Joe Sixpack”, “yes, but I was IT specialist for 30 years”, “speak louder I can’t hear you” and “whatever”.

        Saying “whatever” when it suits your fancy reminds of a common trick adolescents use to play dumb just to refuse to make any effort to participate. This trick shows that claiming, as you did earlier, that the onus is only onto the one who expresses himself to communicate better might be moot at best.

        You should listen better too, Latimer. Or at the very least be as kind as you were with everyone as you were with Frank there:

        > For those not necessarily familiar with the intimate details, a summary para and a conclusion para would help to emphasise your points.

        Source: https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/06/lisbon-workshop-on-reconciliation-part-v-the-science-is-not-settled/#comment-39213

        Entertaining a double standard like that renders you a cheerleader, Latimer.

      • So your lengthy post comes down to:

        You don’t like it when people mock and shame the scientific establishment. And you have read some ‘naughty people’ doing it somewhere.

        There – that wasn’t hard. But hardly earth-shattering news worthy of half a dozen obscure and orotund posts.

        And since it seems that you can actually write coherent sentences – and not just riddles – I suggest that you continue to do so in future. People might bother to read them if you do. Otherwise they probably just think ‘whatever’, while I actually write it.

      • Willard
        Both proponents and skeptics use the ‘science is settled’ mantra to further their arguments. In both cases it is an attempt to gain political advantage and should be understood as such. I can’t understand why you’re making such a fuss about this unless it is just intellectual self-pleasuring.

      • Thank you, Latimer, for the unsollicited advice and for acknowledging, although a bit underhandedly, that my comment might very well be related to the main topic of this post, viz. the Science is Settled and the Truth to Power games.

        Now that we’re clear about this, would you care consider this comment by Roger Pielke Jr.:

        https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/06/lisbon-workshop-on-reconciliation-part-v-the-science-is-not-settled/#comment-38898

        Do you and Joe Sixpack undertand better now the relationship between this comment and the topic of this post?

      • RobB,

        If I am understanding you well, for you both “sides”, whatever that means, use the ‘science is settled’ mantra to further their arguments; this is readily understandable by Joe Sixpack and discussing these practices is tedious to you.

        May I ask why you read this very post by Judith, which is exactly about that game?

        ***

        Speaking of tediousness, you must understand that you are putting me in the same bind as Joe Sixpack and Latimer did earlier.

        The bind is easy to create. Simply pick a commenter and say to him “you’re too obscure”. If that commenter reacts by trying to explain himself, tell him “you’re tedious”.

        Better yet, tell him

        > I can’t understand why you’re making such a fuss about this unless it is just intellectual self-pleasuring.

        as you just did.

        If you can’t understand why I am interested in these rhetorical games, think harder.

      • Latimer Alder

        @willard

        ‘If you can’t understand why I am interested in these rhetorical games, think harder’

        Sorry – got better things to do than waste my time thinking about your obsessions. Grass outside is growing and needs to be watched. Paint may dry too slowly if I don’t keep an eye on it. Bye.

      • Willard,

        Ef the guy can’t read above the Child’s Primer level, then it’s mean to make fun of him, ya know.

        The learning-disabled are people too.

      • Willard– You tend to rant on without actually offering any specific policy suggestions. What “govermental policies” do you believe the United States should be implementing regarding potential climate change.
        From a policy perspective, the choices seem pretty straightforward…so what is it that you want done? How do you justify your suggested approach?

      • Rob Starkey,

        I am not sure why you’d think that prefacing a question with “you tend to rant” would be felicitous, more so when it’s that question begs to be related to the topic of this post.

        But thank you for asking.

      • I attempted to be factually correct vs. agreeable.

        You seem to be on the we must do something side of the question, but without suggesting anything specific.

      • Rob Starkey,

        I remind you that the topic of this post is the Science is Settled and Truth to Power games.

        What do you think of these games?

      • Do you what “Truth to Power” means, RobB?

      • Do you know what Truth to Power means, RobB?

      • My favourite definition is shown below and just about sums up you Willard:

        “A vacuous phrase used by some on the political Left, especially the denizens of the Democratic Underground website. Ostensibly, it means to verbally confront or challenge conservative politicians and conservative ideals using the overwhelmingly logical and moral arguments of liberalism. Doing so would, naturally of course, devastate the target individual, leaving them a stuttering, stammering bowl of defeated jelly. That or cause them to experience an epiphany that would have such a profound, worldview-changing effect that they would immediately go out and buy a Che t-shirt and start reading Noam Chomsky. Unfortunately, the individuals who would use this phrase have little or no understanding of either liberalism or conservatism, and the “truth” that they speak consists mainly of epithets and talking points, memorized by rote, which they learned from other, equally vapid liberals. As such “speak truth to power” joins other feel-good but ultimately meaningless gems from Leftist history such as “right on”, “up against the wall”. “question everything” and the ever-popular “f*ck you, pig”.

      • Sorry, that was in reply to Willard at 1.29pm who asked:

        “Do you know what Truth to Power means, RobB?”

      • And, in the “grand”scheme of “things”, Science amounts to more than a notion?

      • Generations of ancestors are on their feet in wait of a sincere response.

        Your turn to respond with insight!

      • I was confused by Judith’s “truth to power” catchphrase because from my center-right viewpoint it seems like the power has largely been with the climate change forces — consider Democrats’ dominance of the White House, the Senate and (until a few weeks ago), the House plus the overwhelmingly liberal slant of academia, science, the news media, and Hollywood.

        I had forgotten that most liberals imagine that they are a plucky enlightened minority struggling to bring truth to the entrenched dark forces from the right oppressing everyone.

        The most telling instance of this conceit was when Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s most trusted advisers in the White House, said in reference to Fox News, “We’re going to speak truth to power,” as though Fox News were some Goliath towering over the tiny forces of Obama, Jarrett and the US Presidency.

        http://michellemalkin.com/2009/10/28/look-who-called-out-fox-news-basher-valerie-jarrett/

      • Now reread your own words and obtain:

        “Most” Conservatives “imagine that they are a plucky enlightened minority struggling to bring truth to the entrenched dark forces from the” left “oppressing everyone”.

        because of:

        “the overwhelmingly liberal slant of academia, science, the news media, and Hollywood”

        I suggest you go more centre and less right before you get too paranoid.

      • JamesG –
        Most” Conservatives “imagine that they are a plucky enlightened minority struggling to bring truth to the entrenched dark forces from the” left “oppressing everyone”.

        because of:

        “the overwhelmingly liberal slant of academia, science, the news media, and Hollywood”

        You might want to pay more attention to the reality of those things. The “liberal slant” is that reality. No paranoia needed.

      • JamesG @ February 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm: As fate would have, a perfect illustration of my point came up today:

        SAN ANTONIO — Some of the world’s pre-eminent experts on bias discovered an unexpected form of it at their annual meeting.

        Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”

        It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

        “This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

        — John Tierny, “Social Scientist Sees Bias Within”, NY Times

        Haidt has some interesting things to say about liberals and conservatives in the US. He’s worth googling. I doubt that climate scientists are 80% liberal, but I’m sure they are well over 50%.

        [BTW my comments today have not been appearing where I thought I was posting — in case this comment shows up somewhere odd.]

      • steven mosher

        ask Santer he used the phrase

      • Rob Starkey,

        If all you have to add are cheap insults, you won’t offer any resistance while I am pressing my point over and over again.

        You should try harder.

      • Willard–If you actually have any policy suggestions to make in regards to potential cliamte change, please offer them. If you have do ideas regarding policies that makes sense regarding your stated position…..I understand

      • Ah… The famous ellipsis… Better already!

        But not enough: it’s tough for Joe Sixpack to understand this machist question to the topic of Judith’s post. Here is an important paragraph from that post:

        > “Settled science” just isn’t something that is going to happen with regards to understanding and predicting climate change. Settled science is important politically if you are pursing the “truth to power” linear model of policy making. This is a bad model for something as complex and uncertain as the climate system.

        Now, correct me if I am wrong, but there is no discussion of any specific **policy suggestions** there.

        If discussing specific **policy suggestions** is the only thing that moves you inside, then why are you here?

      • If I can ever be arsed to try and figure out whatever it is that you keep on banging on about, I’ll let you know. Until them I have better things to do, so leave me out of this.

      • Meant as a general reply to Willard. The ‘reply’ feature has lost alignment between primary and secondary.

      • It’s tough to leave you out of this when I am talking with Latimer, for you are supposed to be a mere rhetorical device.

        A rhetorical device he uses a lot, actually.

      • Latimer Alder

        Consider the possibility that, like me, Rob cannot fathom out what on earth the point you are pressing actually is.

        And if you cannot express yourself in a way that he can understand, he is under no obligation to try.

      • Latimer,

        Thank you for yet another unsollicited advice:

        > Consider the possibility that, like me, Rob cannot fathom out what on earth the point you are pressing actually is.

        Let me recall that you just said that you understood that point there:

        https://judithcurry.com/2011/02/06/lisbon-workshop-on-reconciliation-part-v-the-science-is-not-settled/#comment-39335

        These two comments are tough to reconcile. As tough as it may, I’ll simply assume that you kinda ‘forgot.’ So let’s pursue our point.

        Here is a comment by Reiner Grundmann:

        > This intergovernmental body establishes a different set of rules for the game. The game is no longer TRUTH SPEAKING TO POWER but managing a consensus view that is — by the very definition of the IPCC — international, scientific, and political. Everyone in it must be ON MESSAGE.

        Grundmann seems to distinguish the Truth to Power game from Managing a Consensus. If you read the rest of his comment, even Joe Sixpack will see that Grundmann prefers Truth to Power quite a lot. You can find the comment there:

        http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/11/redefining-peer-review.html?showComment=1259425832046#c6918699290154559057

        But, according to Judith, Truth to Power is unwelcome for our case:

        > Settled science is important politically if you are pursing the “truth to power” linear model of policy making. This is a bad model for something as complex and uncertain as the climate system.

        Setting aside that “linear” really means “sequential” in our context, is the IPCC following a truth-to-power model or not?

        We can take that another way. Let’s suppose that Reaching a Consensus is the same game Science is Settled: what are the relatioships between the Settled Science game and Truth to Power?

        We can ask an even more direct question: which analysis do you prefer, Grundmann’s or Curry’s?

        I hope you do understand that you can’t prefer both.

        ***

        If you do not understand what I’m saying right now, please accept my sincerest apologies. I’ll try to do better next time.

      • A wise man once gave me good advice.

        ‘Do not blog when pissed or stoned’

      • You have all the time to sober up, Joe.

        The Internet is there forever.

  18. Note, Roger Pielke Jr’s book “The Climate Fix” falls squarely in the robust decision making framework.

  19. Judith, I will play the devil’s advocate here, but you forget another kind of decision making here, and (unfortunately) it is the overwhelming decision making process.

    Let’s call it human decision making, or maybe better: political decision making. Here the main objective is not to solve a problem. It is not even trying to solve an uncertain problem. The problem only provide a framework.

    The aim is to gain advantage for you and your team, usually fighting with one (or a few) other team in front of a much larger group of bystanders which do not have decision making power, but who are counting points and will determine which team will win.
    This is the main decision making process in groups of humans, and chimps too by the way (other apes are organised in other ways, harem-like for gorilla, couples for gibbons and solitary for orang outans, iirc).

    The bystanders count points partly from the results of the decision and/or the resulting common good, but it is not the only way. Probably not even the most important. And this is after tha fact, before the decision is done, results can not be observed and rational arguments again play little part:
    Force demonstration, rhetorics, alliance, past behaviors on the subject at hand or other subjects, advantage distributions (public or hidden), all the old tricks. Rational arguments and science are used as a tool among others, and the tool can be bended as long as the public do not notice too much. If they notice, the truth is not important anymore, it is better to use the errors to taint the adversaries. Reconciliations are mostly tactical manoeuvres in the game.

    It is not a very glorious process, but I fear that it is still the “decision making” today, as soon as some “leaders” (for moder democracies, it is traditionally politicians and CEO/big stakeholders . but basically everyone with decision power, money and/or public visibility will play in the game) have stakes in the decision, or use it as a pretext to score public points. At least you understand much better the different actions on both sides within this framework than the different processes you discuss. Foe example, making an error is no big deal there, at least when no significant decision has been made which is costly to revert. In the political decision making, it is of huge importance: showing your opponent “leader group” to be wrong allows ou to score big points. And of source, by “showing”, I means convincing the bystanders, no scientific proof is necessarily involved.

    This political decision making process usually makes no sense in term of common good, which could be defined as “maximising the survival rate” or “economic well being” or “average life expectancy” or other classical indicators.

    But it makes a lot of sense in term of game theory with bunch of partially competing/partially cooperating individual actors. It is extensively studied in darwinism and evolutionary psychology, and usually explains remarkably well animal behavior, and human behavior too where the situation is simple enough to have a good picture of all the individual advantages that can be obtained, and past strategies. It’s not often the case in practical situation, but in “what if” scenarios, it works very well.

    • Kai,

      Our political leaders have been snow jobbed really well and have advisor’s who will make sure anything to the contrary will never reach their ears.
      Many things get lost in the system when being passed around.
      So, no one has to be the political pawn when things fall apart.

    • The most comprehensive explanation of this hurly burly to date.

      The Science is Settled is an important transaction game, notwithstanding the fact that it’s a tempest in a teapot over a caricature.

    • Kai, this accords with my experience as a senior economic policy advisor to the UK, Australian and Queensland governments. Unfortunately, I never fully grasped this while working; I grew up to be open and honest and to pursue the “public interest” on the basis of clear evidence and understanding of the merits of any policy issue and the likely costs and benefits of various responses, and was often not an area where such an approach prevailed. Probably too late to change now, at least my point of view is heard in the Australian media. I can’t play the power games which you describe, but can perhaps have some impact on how voters perceive the merits of the proponents’ cases.

      • > I grew up to be open and honest […]

        So kai is describing closed and dishonest people.

      • yes. or, in other words, real people ;-)

      • So, kai, are you an honest person or are you a real one?

      • he he, are you trying to make me self destruct from an undecidable self-assertion?

        Well, I am a real person, of course…

        ok, still alive ;-p

      • Well, kai, I am trying to decide how you can be a real person but not fall into the description you are suggesting of real persons, which make them dishonest and closed.

        What is your trick?

        Would it be INTEGRITY(tm)?

      • It isn’t, it is simply having no great stakes at play, and being anonymous :-)

        Be assured that if there is a lot in the game, I will play the game as best as I can…like everybody else will do with his own abilities. People are very good at this game, it is called social interraction. Not being good at this is a very severe handicap. I am sure you are aware it is, and I will not name the most severe form of it out of respect for those who may be involved, but goofyness, timidity, nerdiness could fit in the mild forms ;-)

        Again, for the problem under discussion (climate debate and the place of science/scientist in it), I believe that the bast way to do science (which has his own politics of course, but which is designed – through a mix of peer review and stardomisation of the original pioneer who was right, but mainly through pre-eminence of experimental proof and logical inferences above everything else – to self-correct eventually) is to decouple it from decision making. Decision making is the social game in one of it’s most intense form. I do not think that true scientific process can resist this pressure, given that the human brain is so tuned to fall for it. The best way to get correct science is to separate as much as possible scientific research from decision making, and from consequence. If it can not be separated by time, at least separate the persons, and use budgets as generic and/or as diverse in their sources as possible.
        It is not what is occuring in climate science at the moment, from what I get…on the contrary. But anyway I do not see a clear way to do that, the fact the the new science is immediately used in the debate does not allow for any solution I can see…

  20. Judith, you skipped an issue. Not all anthropogenic forcings are greenhouse. If, for example, it turns out that Pielke Sr. is right about land use, devoting all effort and resources to CO2 reduction isn’t a very smart thing to do, no?

    The only policy that would address this would be the “resilient decision making”.

    • ChE,

      Land use is only a small area compared to the oceans or atmosphere. We may make our own hardships but the oceans will make sure evaporation and precipitation keeps on going.

    • Note, I regard natural climate change and land use climate change in the scenarios under the robust framework

      • There’s an important difference between natural variation and non-greenhouse anthropogenic forcing, though: the latter may call for preventive action, rather than mitigation. I’m not advocating anything in particular, just noting that if CO2 reduction is a reasonable policy response to more robust evidence of CO2 creating an unacceptable situation, land use policy would be a reasonable response to learning that land use is a significant driver.

        OTOH, if it turns out that warming is primarily caused by “natural causes”, the appropriate policy would be to dedicate resources to adaptation. So it actually does make a difference.

      • ChE, I think that’s the whole point of Judith’s post.

    • I think we are going to have to live with the effects of land use changes as stopping the conversion of rainforest to farmland is a tad more difficult IMHO.
      And probably won’t get the job done by itself.

  21. The need for scientists to communicate more effectively about climate change is urgent. For people to take climate change seriously and support appropriate responses, they need to feel sure it is happening and is caused primarily by humans. . .

    Clearly state the settled scientific conclusions. Do not overdo “weasel words” and caveats. We know it is warming and we know it is due primarily to human activity. Say so. Saying human activity “contributes” to global warming makes it sound like human activity might be only a minor contributor. It would be more accurate to say “most of the warming….”

    Clearly distinguish settled science from the details on which scientists frequently focus their attention. Avoid using the word “debate” in connection with climate change. It reinforces the mistaken notion that there is a debate about basic issues that are settled science. When referring to the whole issue, try something like “the urgent challenge of human-induced climate disruption” rather than “climate debate.”

    Hassol, S. J. (2008), Improving How Scientists Communicate About Climate Change, Eos Trans. AGU, 89(11)

    • Avoid using the word “debate” in connection with climate change. It reinforces the mistaken notion that there is a debate about basic issues that are settled science. When referring to the whole issue, try something like “the urgent challenge of human-induced climate disruption” rather than “climate debate.”

      Hmmm …. Hassol, S. J. … well, considering her background, she would say that, wouldn’t she? …

      “Susan Joy Hassol is a climate change communicator, analyst, and author known for her ability to translate science into English, making complex issues accessible to policymakers and the public for two decades. In September 2006, Susan was honored by the Climate Institute with its first ever award for excellence in climate science communication”.

      http://climatecommunication.org/about_susan.html

      She seems to be a one-woman Futerra Communications-type operator – or perhaps a more “subtle” Franny Armstrong ;-)

    • Shub N: Thanks for posting that quote from Hassol. I had read it before and forgotten how I might find it again.

      As in the Hassol quote, climate change advocates do consider that the science is settled, but now they (and Gavin Schmidt) recognize the peril of saying so clearly because it makes them sound dogmatic rather than scientific. (Likewise they object to calling skeptics “skeptics” because it makes skeptics sound scientific. Denier sounds terrible in just about every way, so it’s the perfect label to pin on skeptics.)

      The solution, as usual, is for climate change advocates to seek better ways to massage their message. This might have worked a few years ago when AGW was the conventional wisdom, but now I suspect that sounds too much like PR (partly because it is) and that doesn’t sound scientific either.

      I think climate change advocates (and everyone) would be better off if they would climb down a few rungs and try something like the reconciliation that Curry recommends, but it’s hard for me to imagine them doing so.

  22. Judith,

    Science was based on the balance system of opposites.
    If this theory was true then nothing would change.
    But our planet has been constantly in change from the beginning.
    So where is the balance?

  23. I like the illustration of non-robust decision-making by contrasting with CCS (which has it’s own problems even as simply a means of mitigating CO2), but I think its too bad there are so few examples of real-world robust decision-making to point to as illustrations (specifically as inspired by the attempts to deal with a specific problem).

  24. Judith,

    “Well, that is more of a reconciliation than any of us could have hoped for, for all of us to agree that the science is not settled.”

    That is not what has occurred. Claiming so is to play semantics. When Schmidt and the rest of the Team say ‘the science isnt settled’, they are referring to the epistimilogic uncertainty inherent in the scientific method. When skeptics say ‘the science isnt settled’ they are referring to the fact that the methods and conclusions drawn by ‘climate science’ are not consistent with the scientific method. These are two very different things. There is no agreement, only semantics.

    Schmidt et al still very much hold that the science the skeptics say is not settled, is settled. Scientific skeptics know that it is not, because they can document that the science is often in error and the conclusions overdrawn. But now that enforcement of the scientific method is beginning to pay off for the skeptic position, suddenly we are told that we have to stop doing science, and adopt PNS.

    “As i pointed out in my AGU presentation (the link is near the end of the post), the decision analytic model (in this case truth to power strategy by the UNFCCC) influences the kinds of analyses that scientists do and even has framed the problem that IPCC is actually assessing.”

    Yes PNS, which is not science but politics, will influence the kinds of analyses that scientists do, if we allow it to. Where the political Hockey Team claims ‘the science is settled’, political PNS claims ‘the science cant be settled’ – thus rendering science irrelevant while attempting to retain the mantle of science.

    BOTH claims (‘the science is settled’ and ‘the science cant be settled’) are nothing more or less than bald assertions of political expediences. They both force the same policy conclusion: ‘Human Caused Global warming’ is real, and should be used as the basis for policy decisions.

    Yes, adopting the PNS political strategy certainly WILL influence the analyses that are conducted. It will serve to draw oxygen (i.e. funding) from the further investigation of the topics that the Team claims are ‘settled science’, topics where skeptic investigation and current climate trends have shown the ‘science’ to be wrong. Not ‘uncertain’, wrong.

    When the politicized ‘science’ could be hidden and the observable facts were putatively consistent with the outrageous claims of the politicized ‘science’, nobody paid any attention to ‘uncertainty’. Now when we are beginning to demonstrate that the politicized ‘science’ is false, a movement is afoot to freeze the status of the politicized ‘science’ at merely ‘uncertain’, and then swoop in with more politicized ‘science’ in the form of PNS to achieve the same overall policy goal.

    We dont need PNS. All that does is hopelessly entangle politics and science. What we need are scientists doing actual science, and who are willing to accept the limitation of science and admit “we do not know” and “we were wrong”, instead of hiding behind the weasel word “uncertain”.

    And we need politicians who are willing to accept the limitations of science and admit “the scientists do not know that” instead of pretending that, well, htye really do know that, they just arent certain. We need politicians who will admit that they are advocating for a policy because they want that policy, rather than because there is any scientifically justified catastrophy to be prevented by the policy.

    • Thanks J.J.

      You are right.

      Dogma by any other name is still dogma.

    • JJ

      I thank you for this thoughtful exposition, and ask for more, please.

      Specifically, Scientific skeptics know that it is not, because they can document that the science is often in error and the conclusions overdrawn.

      The wheels come off the track for me at this point, absent a list with particulars of, if not all those ‘often in error’ cases in Climate Science, at least the significant ones, and which conclusions are overdrawn, too.

      Present such a list, and allow readers to apply the scientific method to it, to establish the truth — or rebutt — of the foundation of your posting, please.

      I would not ask this, except that so often when I see claims of error in science, the claims amount to specious and ill-considered objections that fall either on their face, or with very little application of logic and experiment.

      While this is not true of every claim of error, it does apply to the Scopes Monkey Trial and all its particulars, to — and I hope you’ll agree this needs no further expansion — Slaying the Sky.., to arguments for Perpetual Motion, to proposed disproofs of the existence of back radiation and allied attempts to redefine the term out of all utility by various spin engineers, to arguments based on graphs starting in the year 1998, to objections that say there is no greenhouse effect, to ill-designed and ill-conceived experiments claiming to refute (or even support) GHE because they could not reproduce it in test beds so small as to not be able contain enough CO2 to produce a measurable optical effect on IR on the scale of 1/10,000th that of the tropophere (a 17 cm thickness to model a 17 km one?! What utterly contemptible failure to apprehend order of magnitude!) when the effect on temperature discussed is itself so small as with error bars it takes decades to demonstrate at the level of the real climate, to unsupportable — due to the complexity of the systems — and backwards — by inversion of valuation –claims of economic or bioactive benefits, need one go on?

      I set my pencil down beneath my square inch of sky with this: is there _any_ plausible rationale other than political inertia for concluding in Policy that human emission of CO2 at current levels or higher is resilient, robust, or truth to power?

      • Bart,

        It is not possible to post an exaustive list of CAGW errors, exaggerations, and empty spaces on a blog post- nor is it reasonable to demand such. Your prattle about monkey trials, perpetual motion, and Sky … indicates that you do not have a serious curiosity, but rather a predetermined position that you are looking to push via guilt by association and strawmen. Good luck with that.

        If you were genuinely open to the simple fact of error and ignorance in science (all science has it, in spades) then you would already be aware of and willingly acknowledge the issues with paleodendrology proxies, Soloman et al’s correction of water vapor forcing, Hansen’s failed model predictions, the ‘new and improved’ parameter values that are used to explain away those values, Trenberth’s accurate admission that more than a decade of ‘global warming’ cannot be found anywhere on the global, Hansens regular revisions of the GISS temperature reconstruction – each one asserting the error of the previous, apart from the error that McIntyre documented, the (now particularly ignominious) fall of Steig’s Antartic temp reconstruction, the open global heat budget, the open global carbon budget and the repartitioning of the ‘known’ part over the last couple of years, etc.

        Again, too many to list. Science is doing its job, sorting out these issues and others when it is given the opportunity to do so. Short circuiting the process now that the momentum appears to be shifting is political, not scientific, and further is unwarranted from a policy perspective – bald assertion of scary stories notwithstanding.

        Cheers.

      • Your detachment with reality is just amazing.

      • JJ

        Thank you for your list.

        It helps one objectively judge your claim based on fact.

        For your objection of my examples, you say guilt by association, I say setting context. (Hard to blame Ken Coffman for Scopes, and I certainly don’t.)

        Since we agree on much, including that one cannot take seriously the items on the list of items I suggested one cannot take seriously, because they were specious and ill-considered, it looks like we are closer in predetermined position than you think.

        I’m aware of and acknowledge many issues with dendro, and never resort to it myself except for context with other claims about the same record that have equal or lower reliability in evidentiary terms, like statements about MWP or LIA.

        Here may be a good and valid objection, and one recommends further development of examples like this that speak directly to their context, which of course readers can decide for themselves. One is, however, also aware of considerable controversy on both sides for this objection.

        The rest of your list a bit vague (to outsiders of your group who know what you mean when you drop those references) but easy enough to research and judge by the interested due in no small part to the public controversy on both sides of each.

        You’ve gone a long way to supporting your case better, in my opinion, or sinking it further, and also allowing others to do their job of sorting out the issues, your scary stories notwithstanding.

  25. The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it

    Is that correct? It doesn’t sound right to me.

    • Warmer air holds more water vapour, thereby increasing the greenhouse effect from H2O. This is pretty uncontroversial stuff.

      • But H2O, unlike other GHG’s trple points in the atmosphere.

      • Sorry, I don’t understand this point.

      • That is the key issue: You don’t understand.

      • Not really andrew, because presumably more water vapour = more clouds, does it not?

      • As I understand it the water vapour feedback effect (which is positive) is a separate phenomenon from the cloud feedback effect (which is estimated to be slightly positive but is much more uncertain).

      • The former is just an IPCC claim. I very much doubt there’s any evidence this is the case. The reason I say this is because I don’t think you can separate “water vapour feedback” from “cloud feedback”. In my view it doesn’t make sense for them both to be positive in any case.

      • Well if it’s an IPCC claim you can check the references in the IPCC report to find the evidence.
        Water and clouds are distinct elements in the atmosphere so I don’t see why they shouldn’t be considered separately. Nor do I see any logical reason why in principle they can’t both be positive. In the case of clouds the effect can be positive or negative according to the type of cloud so the net effect could be either way (or nil).

      • Not really andrew, because presumably more water vapour = more clouds, does it not?

        Clouds are made of liquid, not gaseous, water.

      • The water from which clouds are made gets into the atmosphere as gaseous, not liquid, water.

      • And the liquid for the clouds comes from………….
        And how about the ice clouds a bit higher up?

  26. Science is a continuous process of “truthing, always seeking a better understanding and always knowing that we will never have the “whole truth.”

    That is why “science and politics don’t mix !”

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  27. Schrodinger's Cat

    I disagree with your comments about what we know with confidence. It is curious that we spend trillions on AGW yet there are not many facts, just assumptions. The trouble with a complex subject is that almost every statement is true to some degree but we don’t know the relative importance of each truth. For example, the following are probably all true.
    1. Warming increases atmospheric CO2 by reducing the solublity of the huge quantities dissolved in the oceans.
    2. Increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration lag global temperature rises.
    3. Mankind contributes to atmospheric CO2 concentration.
    4. CO2 has a GHG warming effect limited by Beer-Lambert considerations.
    5. There are many natural processes that affect climate, many not fully understood.
    6. Small changes in cloud coverage could easily account for recent warming.

    I could go on, but the point is that we can all agree on these truths, but depending on your perspectve, the relative importance may not merit universal agreement. The bottom line is that you probably think that increased CO2 is the cause of most of the recent warming and I don’t. That is the main sticking point.

    It then becomes a matter of belief or faith, sometimes accompanied by religious fervour, emotive postioning and the problems that we are discussing here. Add to that a few trillion dollars, huge strategic decisions and massive investments that will affect future generations….

    A reason for this mess is that the science behind it is not very robust and neither is the data on which it is based. A huge amount of funding has gone down the same bottomless pit. It leaves a lot of sceptics with serious doubts but nobody gets funding to work on ideas that might disprove the alleged importance of CO2.

    It is a pity that for all these years the “Team” excluded sceptics and avoided the debate that your blog is now tryng to initiate.

  28. FWIW, I believe that kai’s point is well worth reflecting on since it also helps explain the behavior of many players that is otherwise difficult to explain. If you narrowly define the problem as a technical one of reducing GHGs then your robust decision-making notion makes sense. However, that is only one part of the story. There are other distinctly political agendas in play as can be seen by (a) the continued resistance to nuclear power solutions; (b) the push for global solutions when incremental solutions would work very well; and (c) the push for liberty reducing rather liberty enhancing solutions with no acknowledgement that such liberty reducing solutions can leave everybody distinctly worse off.

  29. “(specifically as inspired by the attempts to deal with a specific problem)” — there are a lot of examples but this one comes to mind.

    Decentralized Power Generation: Personalized Energy
    link in case the embed doesn’t work: http://youtu.be/KTtmU2lD97o

    • This post relates to the Zajko | February 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm comment.

      • Nocera still seems to be at the early stages, though I do like his approach (and stage presence). What I don’t like is that he doesn’t seem to be very up-front about the challenges of his technology (it just all sounds so easy).

      • His work was funded and is being promoted by the US DOE.

        In terms of decision-making and the bottom-up approach, he presents a fascinating and alternative way of looking at a very real issue.

        An integrated solution for potable water, energy, resource management, conservation, etc. is noteworthy. There are obvious limits to its application but the logic is remarkable and its use in remote and developing countries a given.

        We need more people involved in the UNFCCC who possess Professor Nocera’s intellect.

    • I think its reasonable to say that decision-making related to Climate Science is a dead end. Resources in and nothing other than information as an output.

      Common sense dictates the elimination of waste and proper management of affluents. Why is climate science, AGW theory, and taxing the stuffing out of everything that moves necessary to address the real issues?

      My guess would be that they think a crisis is necessary for change. The problem is poor policy decision-making and the inability to address the issues in a holistic and insightful way. Fixing the policy groups would be an effective way to fix the decision-making issues.

  30. Oops, sorry:
    Google { “truth to power” “linear model of policy making” } ==> 8 hits
    3 are hits on this article; 2 others are quotes of this article.

    When I hear the phrase “truth to power” (often on right wing blogs though I realize it has a longer history with the left), I reach for my nerf-ball bat.

    Your (J.Curry’s) statement ‘Settled science is important politically if you are pursing the “truth to power” linear model of policy making. This is a bad model for something as complex and uncertain as the climate system.’

    is intriguing, but I have a lingering suspicion it may be a sort of strawman to hold up to ridicule.

    Anyway, please elaborate.

    P.S. removing the word “linear” I get 38 hits. Just “Truth to power strategy” gets 4 hits, so I doubt I am alone in being somewhat mystified.

  31. steven mosher

    The science is settled.

    Note this isnt an epistemological statement.
    It states the result of a negotiation process.

    “settled science” can contain uncertainties

    • An agreement on a certain scientific fact may be had. People may agree what to do about that scientific fact. That may settle the issue, yet that scientific fact will never regarded as settled. But that’s not how the meme is used to attack an opponent.

      • You are missing my subtle point.

        Science IS settled. By this I mean the process of agreeing or Settling on scientific fact is not an epistemic event. It’s what people ( scientists) agree upon, as in a legal settlement.

        So while scientific statements are never epistemically settled they are pragmatically settled.

        Ordinarily this pragmatic determination, this settlement, happens invisibly. people just stop looking at certain questions. Those question remain forever epistemically open, but they are pragmatically closed.

        In climate science this “closure” has occured publicly and in short order, with very high stakes.

      • Thank you for saying this so clearly, Steven.

        Another way to say this is that pronouncing “The science is settled” is a speech act. It is an act that “performs” something, more than it says something.

        Something like: We, the established scientists, declare that we basically reached an agreement on the most essential points of our common knowledge.

        Followed by blogs and blogs of footnotes.

      • I understood your point. My point was that the “settled” word was, and is, used as an attack on a caricature, not brief description of how science fact is agreed upon, silently or not.

        In climate science this “closure” has occured publicly and in short order, with very high stakes.

        That’s an opinion. As the science progresses, more gets discovered, but whether or not someone, a scientist or not, decides enough evidence has been found for a serious discussion of policy due to the associated risk is up to that person, not for anyone else to decide for them in authoritative manner. And we’ll dig our heels in all day on this, but eventually this will be decided how the public and policy makers understand how their own believe systems fit and what value they place on the elements at risk.

    • Yes, like post-normal science and science fiction.
      Science facts were lost lonnnnnnnnng ago.

    • steven mosher,
      lol. Excellent point.

  32. Seems to me there’s fairly simple way to determine if someone thinks the science is sufficiently settled. All you do is ask them the following question:

    “Do you think there should now be political action over global warming?”.

    If they answer Yes, it means they think the science is settled.

    • So if you were to ask someone “Do you think we should inject highly toxic substances into people’s bodies in at attempt to cure their cancer?” an answer of “Yes” would translate to “The science of cancer development and treatment is settled”?

      Do you really think the world is that black and white or is it just convenient rhetoric?

      • No. It’s because the treatment has been shown to be effective.

      • This is what happens when you open up science to the extended peer community with their extended facts…

      • The extended peer community doesn’t expect to influence elite science (other than through the publication process). Rather, the extended peer community wants to understand the science and make sure that the science is accountable (e.g. transparent and well documented). The “auditing” concept of Steve McIntyre is useful activity for the extended peer community (of course the auditing needs to be transparent and audited as well). The climate blogosphere itself comprises an important element of the extended peer community (its one way of describing what is going on at the climate blogs).

        Sky Dragon is an interesting exception that is bypassing peer review to publish their scientific ideas. WIll be interesting to see whether this influences anyone or anything. I suspect that this may polarize the more serious skeptics and deniers into distancing themselves from this kind of activity.

      • This is what happens when you open up science to the extended peer community with their extended facts…
        Don’t be so hard on sharperoo, he may yet get to grips with some issues.

      • The extended peer community has of course also proved invaluable in exposing the endemic dishonesty and bias at the heart of mainstream state-funded climate science, particularly its IPCC core.
        Besides the systemic efforts by precommitted alarmists to sabotage the science process revealed in Climategate, the peer comunity also for example revealed that a prominent ‘professor’ has so little grasp or respect for the the concept of science, that he sees no reason to share his tax-funded data with people who don’t agree with him.

      • It’s already been opened. It was opened EARLY ON with people like Oreske’s analogizing the situation to the situation we faced with Tobacco. Once that moment of reflexivity happens you are beyond “normal’ science.

        Further, is not the SCIENCE that is OPENED. Its the dialogue about
        the science, about the politics, about the process that is opened.

        You clearly do not understand the situation and how the linear model of speaking truth to power has failed.

        And there is also the irony inherent in people’s attempts to bring dialog under control again. The derridian in me grins.

  33. Schrodinger's Cat

    Steven Mosher
    I only agree with your even statements.
    The other two are distinctly odd.

  34. Yes, if a person did recommend a given treatment for cancer, that would mean they believed the relevant medical science was sufficiently settled.

    Do you really think everything must be complicated for it to be real or have a worth?

    • “Yes, if a person did recommend a given treatment for cancer, that would mean they believed the relevant medical science was sufficiently settled.”

      So then therefore mainstream medical science considers the issue of cancer treatment “settled” as you understand the word?

      • So does that mean CO2 causes cancer, too?
        Next will you bring up tobacco companies and the Koch family conspiracy?

    • > Yes, if a person did recommend a given treatment for cancer, that would mean they believed the relevant medical science was sufficiently settled.
      > So then therefore mainstream medical science considers the issue of cancer treatment “settled” as you understand the word?

      “Therefore”? No, there is is obviously no logic in your comment.
      It’s really very simple : if a given treatment is widely believed to work, we say it is settled that it works.

      • ““Therefore”? No, there is is obviously no logic in your comment.”

        I accept there’s no obvious logic that you can perceive.

      • I accept there’s no obvious logic that you can perceive.…

        I see; some some ‘alternative’ / cargo-cult / marxist-cult logic is it ?

  35. Judy: You say that

    “there is a natural greenhouse effect which already keeps the Earth warmer than it would otherwise be”

    What kind of nonsense is this? “Natural greenhouse effect” that keeps the Earth warmer “than it would otherwise be”? What does “otherwise” mean? Without an atmosphere? Without water vapour? Without gravitation? Without clouds? Without oceans? ….??

    To say that “there is no natural greenhouse effect” as you claim the Sky Dragon Slayers do, it is necessary to know what this effect is supposed to be. So what is it? To you Judy?

  36. What a little transparency (climategate) and a little “global cooling” can do!

    Soon, many will deny ever jumping on that cAGW bandwagon.

    • Edim,

      I’ve noticed that most of the people online (other than the AGW Salespeople themselves) and in person whom I’ve argued Global Warming with have either disappeared or no longer care to address/introduce the issue.

      Andrew

  37. steven mosher, your post reminds me of the joke where the economist says confronting a sealed can, “Assume we have a can opener.”

    It is not at all obvious that you can negotiate “facts” or agree that some uncertainty is just fine in the policy making process.

    • at NU i recall Robert Eisner saying ‘assume we have 6 can openers’

      But you miss my point. Science IS settled. usually this negotiation of what is settled and what is not settled is implicit. Essentially, scientists come to agreement on what science is worth questioning and what science is not worthwhile questioning. That is, worth your time.

      The issue with climate science is that some people believe this negotiation has been rushed and not all positions considered.

  38. THE ARGUMENT FOR BENEFICIAL GLOBAL WARMING

    Have you ever noticed, when looking at global temperature graphs they tend to concentrate on showing anomalies, rather than actual temperatures? Have you ever consider why? When you deal in anomalies, from the start you are looking for change, while missing the bigger picture.

    The naked human body is able to continuously maintain its body temperature only when the ambient temperature is above 28 C (82 F).
    http://www.sarec.ca/ice/hypother.htm

    That means, should minimum temperatures – such as found at night and in winter – drop below 28 C (82 F) for a period of time, an unprotected human will die of exposure.

    The global average temperature for 2010, the warmest year on record was 14.5 C (58 F)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GISTEMP

    This means that the earth on average is 13.5 C (24 F) too cold to support unprotected humans. That means even with the worst case projected global warming, the earth will still remain on average too cold to support unprotected human life. In fact, outside of the tropical rain forests, there is almost no place on earth where the long term minimum temperature exceeds 28 C (82 F) season to season, year to year.

    Looking at the history of earth’s temperature it is clear that 22 C (72 F) was the typical average temperature of the earth for most of the past 600 million years, independent of CO2 levels. This tends to indicate a mechanism exists to regulate the earth’s temperature at 22 C (72 F), that as yet is not fully understood by climate science.

    It should not strike us as surprising that 22 C (72 F) is the exact same temperature that most of us find most comfortable inside our houses. Millions of years of evolution have determined this. As such, the idea that the earth is somehow at an optimum temperature for humans in not supported. Our comfort levels suggest that humans almost certainly evolved in a much warmer climate than the present day earth.

    If climate science worked in actual temperatures, rather than anomalies, the affects of long term climate would be more readily apparent. The current attempts to limit access to domesticated fire through CO2 reduction will almost certainly harm the ability of human beings to survive and prosper outside the tropical rain forests. Historical evidence for this can be found in the rise of past civilizations, including our own, which almost always took place during periods of warming.

    • ge0050, I saw your argument posted at Bishop Hill. It is based on two fundamental misunderstandings: (1) “average temperature” of the Earth has little or nothing to do with the local conditions required for various evolutionary adaptations and (2) Humans have become adapted to the environments within which they live. Obviously today, in the absence of clothing and fire, it would be a struggle to survive in the cold.

      Were these objections not obvious to you when you were constructing your hypothesis?

    • The earth’s global temperature cycles in about a 2C range during the course of each year. July is when it is warmest due to land/ocean distribution.

      If absolute temperatures were discussed people might ask pesky questions such as: Why is a big deal being made about small annual temperature changes when life handles larger intra-annual changes so well?

    • Geoo50

      Let us look just at the global mean temperature of the 20th century.

      There were two global warming phases of nearly identical warming in magnitude and duration of about 0.45 deg C in 30-years.

      http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

      As a result, the most recent warming is not unprecedented or anomalous.

      You introduce a new theory only when you observe anomaly. There is no anomaly regarding global mean temperature. As a result, the theory of man made global warming is inapplicable until we observe a warming much greater than 0.45 deg C in a 30-years period.

      • Girma

        You write:

        There were two global warming phases of nearly identical warming in magnitude and duration of about 0.45 deg C in 30-years.

        Unfortunately, it appears that the IPCC logic (AR4 WG1) on these goes as follows:

        1. Our models cannot explain the early 20th century warming period
        2. We know that the late 20th century warming period was largely caused by AGW
        3. How do we know this?
        4. Because our models cannot explain it any other way.

        Max

  39. THE ARGUMENT THAT ALL NATURAL NUMBERS ARE INTERESTING

    The natural numbers are 1, 2, 3. ….

    Consider 1. Surely we’d all agree ‘1’ is interesting.

    Now suppose there are some uninteresting numbers. If so, there has to be a smallest possible uninteresting number**. But that would be interesting, wouldn’t it?

    ** Note: It is a fundamental property of natural numbers that every set has a smallest element. This is NOT true of integers {… -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, …} nor of real numbers (e.g., the set {1/2, 1/4, 1/8, …} has no smallest element).

  40. >>(1) “average temperature” of the Earth has little or nothing to do with the local conditions required for various evolutionary adaptations

    Yet climate science places great emphasis on the change in global average temperature.

    • Indeed it does. But as pointed out on Watts site, we can easily reduce global average temperature by moving the measuring instruments away from airport runways and air conditioning units :p.

      • Robinson

        But did we?

        Move measuring instruments, and do the graphical analyses required to prove equivalent exposures absent UHE, and compare the results, and establish a confidence interval, and publish in peer review?

        Because, y’know, not a heck of a lot of airport runways and air conditioning units above 70 degrees North, which I know is only a local region, but so too are urban areas.

        I’m far too nonsense-averse to try to wade through WUWT to find out for myself, but as you appear to love the stuff, if you could provide particulars, it’d be of value.

      • Bart –
        There are a lot of airport runways north of 70 degrees. For most of that region the only way to get anyplace is by aircraft. And thermometers are critical if you’re a pilot. Also keep in mind that most thermometers in the Arctic (and Antarctic) are close to buildings (think a little UHI?).

        But, so you won’t have to strain a brain cell, here are a few links to entertain you –

        http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/timeline-of-the-march-of-the-thermometers-meme/

        http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/thermometer-years-by-latitude-warm-globe/

        http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/kusi-coleman-tv-show-discussion/

        If you get this far you might find this interesting –

        http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/ghcn-gistemp-interactions-the-bolivia-effect/

        Especially where he says –

        No thermometers survive north of 65 degrees in recent GHCN data in Yukon and The Northwest Territories, and only one survives in Nunavut (at the northern edge of Canada, but in a location called The Garden Spot of the Arctic due to the unusual warmth of the area allowing a variety of plants and animals to survive there that do not survive elsewhere.

        and this –

        How about all that Red in the Arctic? Well, no surprise, there are no thermometers up there. Yes, all that red across the top is fiction. It is called “estimation” based on ice estimates and “interpolation” and even “the reference station method” but in the end it all comes down to “just made up”.

      • And yet, http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

        You say it’s the airport runways north of 70 doing this?

      • Jet exhaust does not seem a plausible reason for Arctic sea ice loss does it?

        But, high Arctic sea ice loss could be any combination of temperature increase, sublimation, soot, the wind blowing ice out of the high arctic, current changes, and so on. Air temperature warming is not the only possible explanation for sea ice loss in the high Arctic. Nor is air temperature cooling the only possible explanation for the long term increase in Antarctic sea ice extent.

        You might find this paper interesting-

        Data Analysis of Recent Warming Pattern in the Arctic

        http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/sola/6A/SpecialEdition/6A_1/_article

      • Orkneygal

        I find your argument much more plausible, and the supporting document you link to much more interesting and important, than what I have seen about UHI and thermometer placement claims.

        I will read with interest.

        Thank you

      • Bart –
        I didn’t say anything – just supplied you with some references.
        BUT – those who hike the high country (Sierras, Canadian Rockies, Colorado Front Range, etc) know that air temp is not what melts ice. It’s wind, rain, sunlight and running water that do that job. We also know that moving thermometers from high latitudes to lower latitudes – and from high altitude to lower altitudes makes a large difference.

      • Without a doubt, the methods and means of measurement applied to climate are inadequate.

        I’ll go much further than people who worry about their Bolivian marching thermometers and their air conditioners and airstrips.

        Considering for how long, and in what nature, the concerns about climate have been raised, the response in terms of any organized, widespread, uniform global measurement of those metrics most key to understanding a changing climate has been abysmal.

        Trying to track issues in climate by adapting meteorological stations to this other use is inadequate to the point of pure negligence. Anomaly? That’s essentially all that’s available from this effort? Really? This is appalling sloppiness.

        And yet, the statistical checks and balances within the system for using the data as it has been provided does not warrant the case for the data being skewed by UHE or moving thermometers. For substandard data, it’s very well-managed on that count. Like the hamburgers from a fast food chain, the data may not be very healthy, but at least it meets the standards of sameness and meeting the letter of the regulations.

        So I’m much readier to accept Orkneygal’s argument that in essence the Arctic polar ice cap lost over 40% of its summer extent in so little time, “just because it did.”

        Also, should mention this question; wouldn’t the Antarctic have to warm — not cool — to gain extent?

      • Bart,

        Science has yet to figure out the actual mechanics of how this planet operates.
        Yet theories have become laws without the input of actually understanding the planet.

      • Considering for how long, and in what nature, the concerns about climate have been raised, the response in terms of any organized, widespread, uniform global measurement of those metrics most key to understanding a changing climate has been abysmal

        As an engineer, I’m well qualified to say that the system sucks. IOW – I agree.

        And yet, the statistical checks and balances within the system for using the data as it has been provided does not warrant the case for the data being skewed by UHE or moving thermometers. For substandard data, it’s very well-managed on that count.

        Can’t agree on that count. If you start with bad meat, you can’t make a decent hamburger. If you start with bad data, no amount of statistics, modelling or manipulation will give you accurate results.

      • Jim Owen

        See how close we really are?

        We both agree the hamburgers suck.

        You say why accept these shoddy hamburgers, I say why are we wasting our time with hamburgers.

        The difference is, you accept the hamburgers are shoddy, so you belly up to the mystery meat bar at some unlicensed diner, and I go to the source and check out what fresh fare is available directly from the land and sea.

  41. I know you folks are really interested in how many angels can stand on the head of a pin, but climate warming is not a clear and present danger to the planet. Diminishing oil supplies are the threat that needs immediate attention. Our resources are limited, so fix the economically lethal problem first. As we do that, the “greenhouse gas” brouhaha will tend to take care of itself as we use energy more efficiently.

    • Mike Keller

      Well said.

      Either side of the science will have to face this outside of the debate halls.

      Once oil is burned, it’s gone, as is the ability to economically produce plastic.

      So, that’s about 1/10th of the debate down; there is a clear, immediate threat that calls for replacing use of oil as a fuel for the sake of the future economy.

      What about coal?

  42. I used to be a scientist, but ....

    Ma’am

    You (in a previous posting) asked for opinions from lurkers.
    Having lurked from Day 2 (3?..4?) I offer this (tentatively, as behoves my lowly status):

    Your statement (We are certain….) encapsulates my stance, except that I quarrel with your last sentence – strike the word ‘increase’ and substitute ‘will react in an unknown way’, and strike the words ‘further enhance it’ and substitute ‘have a yet to be determined effect thereupon.’ .

    I have read, absorbed, and inwardly digested all posts and contributions. I count undergrad physics, post-graduate (not PhD) chemistry, MBA (top school, top mark) and undergrad Economics/Applied & Mathematical Economics among my qualifications. The epitome of a science-literate (and literate beyond science) layman.

  43. I used to be a scientist, but ....

    Ma’am
    I should correct, pedantically, ‘wanner’ to ‘warmer’ in your screed, and note that I spent some years modelling on (what was then called ) a super-computer. Believe me, I know all about parameterization.

  44. >>(2) Humans have become adapted to the environments within which they live. Obviously today, in the absence of clothing and fire, it would be a struggle to survive in the cold.

    Indeed. I lived a year in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The local fishermen wear insulated jackets, gloves and balaclavas it is so cold while fishing in the winter. They live at sea level, 9 degrees south of the equator.

    • I don’t understand your point. You are reasoning backwards: “man cannot survive without clothes or fire at the global average temperature, therefore the globally averaged temperature must have been much higher in the past”.

      This is wrong-headed. Can’t you see why?

      • Here is what I actually said:

        Looking at the history of earth’s temperature it is clear that 22 C (72 F) was the typical average temperature of the earth for most of the past 600 million years, independent of CO2 levels. This tends to indicate a mechanism exists to regulate the earth’s temperature at 22 C (72 F), that as yet is not fully understood by climate science.

        It should not strike us as surprising that 22 C (72 F) is the exact same temperature that most of us find most comfortable inside our houses. Millions of years of evolution have determined this. As such, the idea that the earth is somehow at an optimum temperature for humans in not supported. Our comfort levels suggest that humans almost certainly evolved in a much warmer climate than the present day earth.

      • ge0050,

        It is just the same as the minerals in the ground are also what our bodies need to stay healthy. We are far more closer to the planet by many other factors as well.

      • That is very clever.

        22 deg C is also my ideal room temperature.

        A bit of global warming would be good as the average global mean temperature of 14 deg C will increase to our ideal room temperature, reducing northern hemisphere heating cost and CO2 emissions.

      • But it’s still incorrect, because most mammals have something called fur – an adaptation to deal with the cold. In a long line of ancestors, probably starting in the Jurassic, right up to a few million years ago, we had fur too and no doubt also had metabolic adaptations for dealing with the cold.

        So as I say, your argument isn’t really very valid.

  45. “Tyrannical Governments and Settled Science”

    Many have noted the remarkable similarity between the current AGW gospel in Western science and the era of Lysenkoism in the old USSR.

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

    Fears of a tyrannical world government, like that described in George Orwell’s book, “1984”, is a concern that unites skeptics and probably many believers.

    http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/1984/

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

  46. I’m not going to relive the debate about whether you need Post Normal Science to get to the three approaches to decision-making cited in the post (“optimal”, “robust”, “resilient”), except to reiterate it is quite normal to think in these terms when making decisions.

    What I will say is that even if you think in these terms, one can’t avoid confronting the hard point that there is a real difference of view here, namely that a significant body of what passes for climate science fails to properly deal with uncertainty or deal appropriately with statistical inference.

    Being namby pampy about this issue while hoping everyone can agree on “resilient communities” as the political solution just pushes this conflict somewhere else. We know that from situations in social policy when the same has been tried before.

    Under-baking uncertainty needs to be confronted.

    I still just can not believe that stuff like Trenberth, K. E., 2010: More knowledge, less certainty. Nature Reports Climate Change gets published, even as a commentary.

    I trust every skeptic on this blog has written protesting to the editor at the idea that “Many of these [new improved climate] models will attempt new and better representations of important climate processes and their feedbacks … . Including these elements will make the models into more realistic simulations of the climate system, but it will also introduce uncertainties.”

  47. Where, in the big picture of policy deliberations, does it become obvious a policy, or policy change is needed, and who is first to turn that corner? Does a corner exist that one turns to make the claim that no policy event is required? Is it a policy event to do nothing? Is it rational to claim a policy event is required when the only useful tool that one has at hand on the topic is the liberation from sound science that comes with PNS?

    I’m trying to see how we as society wake up one morning to learn there are those who would spend our unearned trillions to solve a problem they cannot articulate, quantify, or prove at a level that such a societal commitment would mandate.

    It would seem the role of “denialist” (a regrettable term steeped in bias that does not represent – and even wishes to disallow – the rational views of concerned opposition participants) is reactive, and can never be proactive. As such we have to play by the rules of others. A step is missing in all this. Where is the step that says any claim of such social significance has to first pass a basic screening that gives credence to the claim as well as passing ownership of the claim from the advocate to the policy maker? One would imagine that is the current role of The New York Times.

    In other words, how did the unknown, maybe possible, maybe not possible, but maybe dangerous or not side effects of the current natural or maybe unnatural, permanent or temporary global warming get a foothold in the realm of legitimacy, and how, with such little to back it, did the topic so quickly lead to discussions that will destroy economies or not, destroy industry or not, and maybe cause wealthy nations to be required to hand over ghastly gobs of cash to nations not well known for earning capacity?

    One thing about the climate debate that I find absolutely interesting is that it is not even close to being near the top of real problems in the world. I suspect that the extreme interest in it comes from the fact that all the preferred solutions involve modifying the balance of power in policy making (it is already a left vs right issue), and a taking of a huge amount money from those deemed the source of the problem. If the cure for cancer had these characteristics it would have been found long ago. There’s one other problem that works against a cancer cure and why there’s no movie about inconvenient truths regarding it. A cure for cancer has a solution that would self-limit the process. The cure would end it, the advocates and policy wonks would lose all they gained. AGW management is forever. It is the new Holy Grail, found.

    It will be the bogeyman in the closet for eternity, always sucking away our excess wealth because people will always fear that bottle and that genie. Won’t they?

    • dp,

      I doubt if it will be done in our life time.
      Too many policies have been enacted and the profits are extremely high in carbon marketing and “green” products.
      They also would have to change drastically.
      How much money do you think would be spent to protect the high rolling profits?

    • Dp

      …with such little to back it, did the topic so quickly lead to discussions that will destroy economies or not, destroy industry or not, and maybe cause wealthy nations to be required to hand over ghastly gobs of cash to nations not well known for earning capacity?

      I agree. Thank you.

      Let me add my question.

      How does a scientific question start?

      If current observation is similar to past observation, do we need a new theory to explain the current observation?

      Current observation: 0.45 deg C increase in global temperature in the 30 years period from 1970 to 2000.

      Past observation: 0.45 deg C increase in global temperature in the 30 years period from 1910 to 1940.

      http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

      How does the “man-made global warming” question started when the current observation is similar to the past one?

  48. Alan Sutherland

    Judith

    You have missed out almost the most important uncertainty. We have all been brainwashed ad infinitum that warming is so bad (species extinction, increased acne, floods, pestilence and so on) yet the climate optimum is so named because warmer temperatures were beneficial. In other words, the uncertainty is that even if warming was happening and it was caused by man, so what? It may benefit everyone and every plant and every species.

    Alan

    • I lived many years within 5 degrees of the equator, mostly within 1000 feet of the shoreline. Sitting under a palm tree at mid-day, wearing only a lava-lava it was never too hot. Even standing in the sun, with a slight breeze it was pleasant. Many a time at night, or during the day when it rained and the wind blew it was much too cold to stay outside without shelter.

      Even on the equator at sea-level, to survive without clothing and fire is near impossible. At altitude, or as you move away from the equator it becomes impossible. The idea that the earth is getting too hot ignores hundreds of millions of years of climate history.

      • I’m sure the temperature would be just fine if you had a coat of fur geo.

      • I think it is quite probable that humans would benefit (larger food productivity, lower energy waste from heating) from higher temperature. It can be mitigated using fear of rapid change, when rapid adaptation is costly even if final situation is better.
        However, I think it is also a good example of “all is best in the best possible world” philosophy (originated proposed by Leibnitz iirc, and wildly popular worldview among religious people believing in a benevolent creator (the explanation why should be self-evident and is left as exercise to the reader :-p ), luddites and naturalist (where the “noble savage” from the romantic era – see J.J Rousseau is also a strong influence).
        Those 2 philosophies (best possible world + noble savage) are very strong in the green movement, gaiaism and other modern new-age stuff.
        I, personally, think it is a huge pile of bollocks…although I quite like my ski holidays in winter so would be dissapointed if a warmer climate reduced the alps winter snow cover….

      • Humans have fur. Hair coveres our entire body, it is just very fine in most people. However, the purpose is not to allow us to adapt to cold. It allows us to adapt to heat. The human body, including our upright stance and sweat glands is adapted to shed heat. The upright stance minimizes exposure to the sun, and the maximize the benefit from sweat glands. This adaptation allows humand to outrun animals with fur over long distances in hot climates, as they cannot shed heat fast enough to maintain a high rate of speed for hours on end.

      • Here is the evidence

        Human Origins / Human Evolution Born To Run
        Biomechanical research reveals a surprising key to the survival of our species: Humans are built to outrun nearly every other animal on the planet over long distances.
        http://discovermagazine.com/2006/may/tramps-like-us

      • So while a naked human with thick fur might be comfortable at night in the tropics, while a naked human without think fur will be cold and at risk of dying of exposure, the human with fur would not be able to compete with the human without fur in hunting. Over time, in a warm climate the human without fur would out-compete the human with thick fur. Only in a cold climate, might the human with thick fur have a survival advantage, but then the other animal species with fur would enjoy the same advantage.

        This then becomes a chicken and egg problem. Did humans develop clothing and domesticated fire before they lost their thick fur, or after? I would think they lost their fur first, as there would be no survival advantage in developing clothing and fire if you already had a warm coat of fur.

        More likely humans lost their thick fur because it gave them a survival advantage in warm climates, so long as the minimum temperature never dropped below 28 C. (Humans cannot survive without technology below this temperature). Then as they tried to move into colder areas, or in response to a cooling earth, they developed technology (clothing and fire) to survive. Those that didn’t died out. The adaptive pressure to cope with cold favored the survival of those humans adapted to create increasingly sophisticated technology as an alternative to fur.

      • There are a lot of competing theories regarding the selective advantage of nakedness (which is not really on topic, so I will be brief): sexual selection, adaptation against skin parasites (large groups of cooperative individuals with good eyes and agile hands), the thermal regulation theory (the one you exposed), aquatic ape theory (although this one is loosing ground and fringe at this moment, iirc).

        Like there are on bipedalism and abstract intelligence…

        A detour on evolution blogs (Dawkins was one of the best, but sadly it has fallen victim of commercialisation/overcontrol) is a good idea for anyone interested, and as a side benefit, will allow you to observe epic fights even more entertaining than AGW deniers/ alarmists:
        Evolutionists against creationists is at least as funny imho.

        For the record I am a “scientific denier” ( Willis and Lindzen may be similar, is the accepted denomination lukewarmer?) and strong proponent of evolutionism, so any grouping between AGW skeptics and creationists (or flat earthers) rise my blood pressure quickly ;-p

    • Latimer Alder

      I have still to find a sensible set of reasons why a warmer world would necessarily be a worse one than this one.

      In particular I struggle with all the stuff about sealevels. Every day I walk across Putney Bridge in London. The Thames is a tidal river here, and the river level goes up and down about 14 feet every six hours or so. We have a brick built river wall that keeps everything in check – and has done so for 150 years. If the sealevel were to rise by another foot or so..or even three feet, we just put another few bricks on the top. There will be plenty of unemployed builders free in London after 2012, so the whole job could be done in a few months.

      Please can somebody explain why they see this all as such a big problem…because I have been asking this question for a number of years and still haven’t had a convincing detailed answer. Given that humans have been successfully and unconsciously dealing with rising sea-levels since the end of the last Ice Age, the answer is not self-evident. Thanks.

    • Actually the “dangerous” issues was discussed on this thread. Also in my congressional testimony, i had a section on climate change winners and losers.

      • Might it be useful to dedicate a thread to discuss the possible benefits of increasing global temperatures?

      • Latimer Alder

        I’d find this a very interesting thread if it were to appear. I just don’t believe that the temperature today is as close to absolute perfection as we can ever hope for and so must be maintained within a few hundredths of a degree at all costs.

        And I see quite a few benefits in it being a bit warmer. Others disagree violently, but I haven’t ever really seen any rational statement of why they do so. Lots of polar bears who have apparently lost the ability to swim and some scare stories about the previously unheard of mating habits of the lesser horned three eared humped sloth in Madagascar. But not much else. And very very little actual evidence of there being a problem.

      • I see benefits to the climate varying. It stirs the oceans around and that benefits all life.

        The Earth cybernetically controls its homeostasis in response to varying solar input. If we were to mess with that to maintain some mythical “ideal temperature” (as if we could anyway!), the planet’s vital recycling mechanisms would stagnate.

        Compare the health of a couch potato in a climate controlled house to a goatherd braving all weather outdoors.

      • What I find very interesting is the records of hundreds of millions of years, showing a stable average temperature of the earth of 22 C, with much shorter periods averaging 12 C. The fossil records shows that in general the 22 C was good for life and the 12 C was not. Yet, here we are at 14.5 C and the “learned scientists” are claiming that a movement toward 22 C will be bad for life on earth.

      • This idea of a ‘perfect’ temperature we’re told must be maintained at all cost is indeed strange.
        Followed to its conclusion, one is led to ask – why were temperatures ‘not perfect’ before, and, of course, ‘perfect’ for whom?

        Yes, a debate about the benefits of a warmer planet would definitely be good.

  49. Judith,
    A central question will be how the ‘uncertain’ information is used to limit runaway interests or protect the most vulnerable at the table.

    What is being proposed is greater democratic decision-making in a global context with a focus on the general welfare of others, so it is an approach that puts global citizenship and ethics firmly on the table.

    Since it explicitly recognizes that the decision-making framework is within a social and political context, it’s an approach that may very well better separate the science from the decision-making. To be sure, it expands the influences on decision-making. I see it as a development and response to the work up to AR4, not a contradiction to it.

    What I don’t see is that it is an approach that will sit well with anyone who might like the U.S. to be the one to tell the rest of the world what to do.

    Anyway, as I say, it is worth considering how the uncertain information may – and may not – be used in the integrated, multi-stakeholder approach that you are discussing.

    Ironically, I think the developing post-AR4 process could result in a proliferation of commitments and responsibilities that, taken all together, could actually see greater change than just the emissions goal that the U.S. refused to follow through on, since Rio.

    • Ah, you’re one of those anti american types, Martha. We should have guessed. They’re to blame for everything aren’t they? /sarc

      • That is your issue, not mine.

        The framework under discussion offers a liberal model of global citizenry that opposes the politicization of science and would replace what we presently have, namely, an old U.N.decision-making framework that the U.S. used to dominate, for historical reasons, that has been unsuccessful evolving itself for the climate challenge and maintaining U.S. (and some other countries’ e.g. India and China) positive participation.

        Copenhagen made it clear, if it wasn’t clear already, that we may want to stop waiting around for the U.S. to lead within the current framework. Instead, the issue requires a framework that supports shared leadership. That is the point.

        The proposed framework provides flexibility in the face of uncertainty, as Judith has outlined. And it would replace the old U.N. framework with a new global collaborative model of decision-making. Many democracy scholars have been working in this area, with this goal, for a long time – and that includes the scholar who attended the conference and whose decision-making model you are discussing on this thread.

        So how do you feel about this kind of framework?

      • Martha, thank you for picking up on this issue. Extended peer communities are probably the only chance for developing the requisite understanding and political will amongst the public to do something to reduce our vulnerability to climate variability and change. The top down UN style truth to power model has failed (as it should, IMO). And this will only happen if communities identify this issue and its solutions in some way as serving their common good. I think the adaptive governance approach described by Ron Brunner and others has much to offer.

      • but again this is all under the implicit assumption that the climate is changing as the IPCC expect and will continue to do so.

        As long as we’re preparing for climate change in ANY direction, i’m fine with it, if it’s only in the ‘warm’ direction- i’m not.

      • Martha, it is your assertion that the current model has failed. Is that because it has not delivered the answer that you think is correct? What makes you think that your assessment is right?

        In terms of specifics, I don’t belive your model would work in practice. It assumes that all participants will set aside their individual interests for the common good. I have been around long enough to know that the real world does not work like that. Governments will always act in their own interests and their electorates would want nothing else. As for a global government….it’ll never happen. There are too many cultural differences between nations and too many competing aspirations. In my view, life is characterized by competition. It is how we evolve. I am tempted to suggest that you remove your rose tinted spectacles if you think otherwise. Sorry if you find this a rather bleak view of our world :)

      • not a common good on a global scale, but common interest on a local/regional scale. See Ron Brunner’s book for how this could work
        http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/A/bo8917780.html

      • If you mean regions taking their own democratically agreed actions in response to regional climate forecasts, then there is little to object to. I don’t think that was quite what Martha had in mind, however:

        “…..And it would replace the old U.N. framework with a new global collaborative model of decision-making.”

        However, I may have misunderstood in which case she can put me right!

      • I am even more cynical than this: everybody is always motivated mainly by his own good, and then the good of others (with a inverse ponderation given by genetic proximity). It is not a conscious decision, darwinian evolution has hardwired the brain to do it and exception to it are either only apparent (because the analysis is not deep enough and there are hidden benefits to altruism, or hidden costs to egoism), or accidental (the altruistic behavior is hardwired because it worked well enough before (not enough freeloaders/tricksters to use complex detection strategies), but it has only be recently abused.

        That’s why capitalist-like system are among the few systems that work in practice: the trick is to design a robust enough abstract reward system that ensure that if an individual invest for the common good, he have equivalent or better advantage than if he invest the same amount of resources/efforts for himself deveiving others. The system can not resort only to enforcement of the rules by a human elite (which are never more altruistic than an average human being), but has to be intrinsic to abstract rules agreed by the majority and which are to be obeyed by all.
        This is the big problem of the global governments/UN approach,and the malediction of the commons: rules that are enforced by a single body are problematic if they do not benefit individuals but only better the average situation, the more abstract the worst. They need a lot of surveillance and punitive power, which leads to dictatorship and rebellion.
        Only exception is a few very common rules that seem hardwired in the primate brain, like “do not kill lightly, even if you have good chance of never being caught” or “punish the trickster, even if you loose a little bit doing so”.

        This last rule explain the sense of fairness, it is very interestingly put in evidence but some psychological game: You give 100$ to a big winner, but only if he agree to give a part of his gain to a little winner and this one accept the deal, else nothing is given to anybody. The logical thing to do for the Big winner would be to give very small money to the small winner, because the small winner is better of accepting it than having nothing. It does not work like this, small winner will refuse if the sum is too low (<20-40$) and big winner expect so, so almost all deal looks like 60-40 split, with a few 0-0 when the big winner was too hungry.

        It is relevant to the situation here, and explain why "deniers" are obsessed with the CO2-footprint of Al Gore. A preacher that does not follow his own preaching is considered as a trickster and punished, even if his proposal is correct (I do not believe it is for Al Gore, but it makes no difference). Proposing a costly habit change and profiting from it (or even suffering less than average) is not a valid proposition for a primate brain, even if it would be for the common good. Trickster detection is triggered and vengeance mode is on, even if it cost to do so (like the cost of spending too much time on climate blogs, for example ;-) ). This is why evaluating a policy only on common goods is ensured to fail imho. Trickster detection is as important as common good effect of the policy, and if a ruling body is needed, it has to be submitted to a very strick "no interest conflict rule". If a trick is detected, no argument from common good can protect the policy (and the ruling body) from instinctive reactions.

      • Well let me give you an example. Where I live, in Northern Georgia (U.S) the big challenges are an adequate water supply in the face of growing population, and lousy air quality (pollution). Businesses in the region understand that economic development will be hampered if these issues aren’t addressed. The local power company, Southern Company, shares the concern about regional economic development (without it, they won’t make more $$). Their solution is to provide cheap abundant power using coal (which makes the air quality worse and places demands on the water supply). The region would serve its common interest with abundant, cheap, clean power that wasn’t coal. Posing the challenge/opportunity in this way, instead of mandated by a UN treaty might actually gain some traction and accomplish something.

      • Dr. Curry,
        In what way is this a climate science issue?
        This is a political problem, an engineering problem and a finance problem.
        Whether the climate is going to warm or cool, Georgians would have been better off going to nuclear 20 years ago.
        In fact, the people promoting and profiting off of AGW today are the same people in many cases who stopped nuclear power >20 years ago,and funded their NGO’s quite nicely doing it.

      • yes, and this being a local problem with everybody agreeing to what the problem is and discussing the best possible solution (nuclear if people are not too afraid and have money for long time investment, hydro if it is possible if they have money to invest and not too many people to relocate, solar or wind + gas in the rare case when it is not too expensive, or buying it from the grid if prices are interesting ;-)).
        This does not demand new global regulation and new ruling bodies, the current ones are enough, and they will deal with the issue as efficiently and with as much succes regarding common good as they usually do in your part of the world. In my part (western europe), they do not do extremely bad, just bad ;-). Not because they are inherently honest, but because a long tradition has enforced relative transparency of budgets to avoid most direct backshish, and the bystanders have learned (the hard way) how to check for the worst and use competing leader groups against each other. I guess it is the same in the US, and it is worth remembering that other places (well loved by multinationals) are not so lucky…

      • Aside from the idea that this is not pie in the sky given the politics and proclivities of a place like Georgia, to say nothing of its utter infeasibility as an answer to global carbon emissions, whose damages are anything but local, (e.g. there are a whole host of ways coal can be made ‘cleaner’ from the perspective of regional pollution that do nothing to mitigate CO2), to say nothing of the All the King’s Men factor, it hardly accounts for this rather salient dynamic from the point of view of CBA:

        …technical progress does not appear exogenously with the ‘passage of time’, as Tol and Yohe assume, but endogenously with investment in R&D, demonstration and deployment. Although constraints will be encountered in some cases, acting to increase costs (the land requirements of biofuels is an obvious case in point, the need for storage technologies is another), ways round these constraints through substitution and technical progress can be anticipated, and indeed are already the subject of much scientific and engineering research in the universities, national research laboratories and industry. Progress will be uneven, but in general, the more we abate pollution the better we should become at it. The evidence on learning curves, for example, for electricity generation, was set out in Chapter 9 of the [Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change]. Moreover, the wide variety and scope of mitigation options across sectors and technologies is what allows expensive constraints in any one sector to be avoided. The ability to spread the burden of abatement across so many sectors is precisely what limits the total costs of stabilisation and hence it is essential that coordination and flexibility be achieved in global efforts to reduce emissions.

        Your response to this staggering flaw in your policy prescription?

    • Latimer Alder

      ‘What is being proposed is greater democratic decision-making in a global context with a focus on the general welfare of others’

      I think that you’ll find this a slam dunk for increased energy usage then. It is manifestly clear that people’s general wellbeing, wealth and longevity are linked to the amount of easily affordable, reliable and accessible energy that they can use both directly – for their personal use – and indirectly in things like public sanitation, water supply, healthcare etc etc.

      Unless and until somebody comes up with other power sources than oil and electricity (from either nuclear or carbon-firing) that can provide power with all those characteristics, then the chances of the large majority of people in the Third World voting to voluntarily restrict their access to ‘First World’ benefits for some putative benefit to their great-great-great-great grandchildren are as illusory as the hockey stick under McIntyre’s scrutiny.

      It just ain’t going to happen in India, in Brazil or China, however much ecological angst and liberal guilt you wish them to assuage on your behalf.

      And you delude yourselves if you think that you can persuade them with pictures of polar bears and shouting ‘Down with America’. Realpolitik ain’t like that.

      • I agree, the relative insecurity and poverty of developing countries is a significant consideration for policy development in response to climate change. It will likely be necessary to assist developing countries with new technologies e.g. clean(er) coal plants in China.

        And I agree that it is absurd to expect families in India to live without adequate food and shelter, never mind electricity or transportation or basic healthcare.

        The framework seeks to enable countries with relatively considerable resources to feel comfortable leading change that everyone can agree is appropriate to levels of uncertainty, with the assurance of an acceptable plan for responsibility-taking by developing countries appropriate to their resources, and the flexibilty to respond to new information, including not only new climate information but changes to economic relations.

      • ‘The framework seeks to enable countries with relatively considerable resources to feel comfortable leading change that everyone can agree is appropriate to levels of uncertainty, with the assurance of an acceptable plan for responsibility-taking by developing countries appropriate to their resources, and the flexibilty to respond to new information, including not only new climate information but changes to economic relations’

        Show me where this magical framework exists. And which countries have signed up to it – and actually implemented (in fact not just in name) its provisions.

    • The “central question” is most certainly NOT what you state”

      What you write is pure fantasy and has zero applicability in the real world. The real world is governed by many different nations, each with their own goals and objectives. In the real world, those independent nations often have conflicting goals. You “wishing that were not so does not change the real world.

      The central question will be how these individual nations react in regards to policy implementation when they are looking out for their own interests.
      In your fantasy world, there may be greater democratic decision making in a global context- looking out for the general welfare, but here is the real world your position has NOTHING to do with how actual policies are implemented by individual countries.

  50. Judith, you wrote earlier that where there is uncertainty “optimal decisions targeted at a most likely outcome are not robust. … where there is substantial ignorance, the only recourse is to increase overall societal resilience.”

    This struck a chord with me as an economist interested in what drives economic growth. For over 20 years I have argued that the world is uncertain, and optimal economic policies are those increase our capacity to deal favourably with whatever circumstances prevail. Too often people and governments seek to deny uncertainty, resist change and protect the status quo rather than embrace change or prepare for it. Policies which remove rigidities and foster entrepreneurship and innovation will be most successful in the longer term. The same applies to any changes in climate, however caused. Humans are highly adaptable, and we should focus on this capacity rather than futile and costly attempts to change climate from a position of ignorance.

    In passing, I quoted you in a letter to The Australian today, and suggested to the newspaper that you be asked to contribute articles on AGW and on hurricanes. I hope that they invite you, please accept if they do, too much opinion and commentary in Australia is from a position of ignorance.

  51. i’d just question this ‘settled’ part judith

    ” The main greenhouse gas, water vapour, will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it”

    If clouds were to provide a negative feedback, this statement becomes untrue. I’m not saying they do (though to my mind it appears likely in some instances- i don’t think it’s as clear cut as alwasy +ve, always -ve), but i ceertainly think there’s enough uncertainty to make this statement, dodgy.

  52. Admitting that the science isn’t settled makes it much more difficult to justify their dismissal of “deniers” that have increasingly nuanced arguments (I’m not talking about Sky Dragon here). This is the reconciliation that I want, anyways.

    Sorry, but who is “admitting” to anything? The whole point is that Schmidt and others are making is that their views have been misrepresented all along and so to suggest that they have made some kind of concession which somehow vindicates your and the skeptic’s views is nonsense.

    Really this whole issue can be summed up as follows:

    Skeptics: “The scientists say the science is settled”.
    Scientists: “We do not say the science is settled and we object to you saying that we do.”
    Skeptics: “Ha! So now you admit the science is not settled!”

    And you think this is the basis for reconciliation? Good luck with that.

    • Did Galileo refuse to debate the “Geocentrics”?

      Do Gavin, Trenberth, et al refuse to debate the “Skeptics”?

      When the scientific evidence is overwhelming, shouldn’t you be willing to debate any and all?

      • That kind of depends on what is likely to be achieved by such a debate, and what form you think it should take.

    • You have painted yourself into a corner, aa.

  53. So they say the science is not settled, but also stand behind the IPCC who say that it’s 90% certain most of the late C20th warming was due to human activity.

    Notice any inconsistency here Andrew?

    Or are you saying that their saying that the science is not settled but only a teeny little bit unsettled. Or what?

    Do enlighten us.

    • Picking individual sentences and sometimes even fragments of sentences and then giving them interpretations contested by the original author is certainly not a way reconciliation.

      The meaning of “the science is settled” is totally different in the sentences:

      “The science is settled.”

      and

      “The science is settled on this issue.”

      This observation was clear also in the opening post of Judith, but I have been disturbed by the point emphasized by Andrew Adams throughout this chain.

      There appears to be no doubt on that Gavin Schmidt could sign the second formulation of science is settled on several issues, but not the first formulation for the whole climate science. So would I, and so would Judith based on what she has written in her blogs.

      The real problem of, how essential the open issues are and, how they should be taken into account in decision making are issues that you are perhaps as interested in as I am and many main stream climate scientists are. I would like to have more contribution from the main stream scientists to the discussion on the level and nature of the uncertainties. There are several issues where their open and more extensive contribution to the discussion would be beneficial, but how to react to the uncertainties is not an issue of science, while it may one of PNS – or of something else, if PNS is not accepted as the paradigm of the discussion.

      • Pekka –

        “The science is settled on this issue.”

        For my part, I object as much to this as to any other variation on the theme. Someone tried to tell me recently that the science wrt to “electricity” was settled. After all, we HAVE tamed it haven’t we?

        Or have we?

      • Jim,
        What does “settled” mean?

        My interpretation is that a stable state has been reached, no significant changes are expected, but in my interpretation the word does not imply absolute certainty.

      • Pekka –
        My interpretation in this context is taken from that of those alarmists who have used it in Internet arguments with me – specifically that it’s finalized and there is nothing more to be discovered. Notice that in this case, it’s the alarmists who have defined the term. My usage here is in the interest of having a “common language” in order to reduce misunderstanding. :-)

      • That is, how you read them. I have seen the same texts and interpret most of them differently. There may be cases, where I would agree with your interpretation, but they are exceptions.

    • Tallbloke,

      A broad consensus about the main tenets of AGW is not the same as “the science is settled”. At least not in the derogatory way the latter phrase is often used, in which it carries the notion of denying uncertainty, stifling dissent and a unscientific attitude.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘At least not in the derogatory way the latter phrase is often used, in which it carries the notion of denying uncertainty, stifling dissent and a unscientific attitude’

        !!! And so exactly reflects climatology as it lives and breathes !!!

        Unless there has been a sudden Damascene moment? Perhaps in an e-mail that we will not be made privy to??

      • “!!! And so exactly reflects climatology as it lives and breathes !!!”

        Thanks for confirming my point.

      • You felt that my remark was derogatory of climatology?

        Good.

        I judged it correctly then.

      • When people claim that dissent is stiffled in climate science, surely I must have imagined reading many things.

        Such as Grudd who co-authored 5 or 6 papers with Briffa before writing this, cited by 45 in scholar and only two years old:

        Grudd, H. (2008), Torneträsk tree-ring width and density AD 500–2004: a test of climatic sensitivity and a new 1500-year reconstruction of north Fennoscandian summers, Clim Dyn, 31(7-8), 843-857, doi:10.1007/s00382-007-0358-2.

        Such as Melvin and Briffa tearing up the classical approach:

        Melvin, T. R., and K. R. Briffa (2008), A ‘‘signal-free’’ approach to dendroclimatic standardisation, Dendrochronologia, 26(2), 71-86, doi:10.1016/j.dendro.2007.12.001.

        and thousands of others

      • Bart, a broad consensus of members of a broad consensus is a self certifying circularity which is rapidly disappearing up its armpit.

        It doesn’t, when pressed, deny uncertainty, it simply won’t dialogue with those who express it in ways which contradict their paradigm.

        That’s how it attempts to stifle dissent, by defining those who dissent as not being part of the consensus and not even scientific – another circularity.

        This inevitably leads to an unscientific attitude, because confirmation bias sets in once the dissenters have been thrust beyond the pale.

        To see what I mean in action consider the statement:
        “No ‘conflict resolution’ is possible between the science community who are focussed on increasing understanding, and people who are picking through the scientific evidence for cherries they can pick to support a pre-defined policy position.”

        However, in deference to Judy’s wishes, if you want to discuss it further, take it up with me on part IV of this series.

      • Bart,
        You guys are so desperate to control every aspect of thought and communication regarding global cliamte disruption. Why?
        Any reasonable reading of Gavin’s e-mail could be summarized as ‘the science is settled’.
        Many many supporters of global climate disruption use the term ‘settled science’ in some form or other. why the sudden shyness if it used by a skeptic?
        You guys keep getting more and more shrill and brittle.
        If the science is so robust, why so much hysterical whining about paraphrasing?

    • Tallbloke,

      The thing about the whole “the science is settled” argument – the expression is so vague that anyone can make any point they want depending on their definition of “the science” and “settled”.

      The case for AGW rests on a number of arguments based on many different lines of scientific research. Some of these arguments (such as our knowlege of radiative transfer and the existence of the greenhouse effect) can certainly be said to be “settled” by any reasonable definition of the term, but in other areas our knowlege is more incomplete, and as long as this remains the case (ie for ever) we obviously can’t say that in terms of our overall understanding of the climate the science is “settled”.

      The question then arises whether our knowlege, incomplete as it is, is sufficient for us to look at the overall picture and come to certain conclusions with a fairly high level of confidence. The overwhelming view of climate scientists is that on the broad question of whether the world is warming and human activity is a major cause of this is that we can. You obviously disagree, but that view is not inconsistent with the notion that overall the science is not settled.

  54. The alarmist community, from this bizarre reaction about settled science to the childish letter of 18 to the Congress, is losing control of the framing of the issue and is not happy one bit about it at all.
    More names will be called by the Trenberth’s and Schmidt’s, but toothpaste is out of the tube.

  55. The difficulty I have with Gavin’s “policy ideas” statement is that there is no mention whatever of an actual risk analysis — much of which will depend on the firmness of the science supporting CO2-driven AGW. And at this point we have no actual evidence pointing to any doubling sensitivity greater than half a degree C, with a strong possibility that the actual sensitivity is unmeasurable due to negative feedbacks, principally within the hydrological cycle.

    The business (and military) community has well-defined guidelines and methodology for performing risk analysis and cost-benefit ratio of any given policy. But all depend on the ability to objectively quantify the risks, at least to some degree. And that is where the science falls apart.

    =====
    One cannot resist noting that in all of the “motherhood” green issues Gavin mentions — “air pollution, energy security, public health water resources” — “green” policies have been generally disastrous: air and water pollution in China is made much worse by the huge quantities of rare-earth metals needed for electric car batteries and wind turbines, energy security is damaged by constant “green” legal challenges to drilling permits and power plants, and water resources are being squandered in huge quantities by the feckless quest for biofuels. All of these results would have been foreseeable by any thorough risk-based policy analysis, but green utopians strongly resist any attempt to actually take a close engineering look at their utopia.

  56. In Figure 2.4 of AR4, the AGW signal, arguably buried in ‘aerosol noise’, is increased by a factor of 4 by aerosol ‘global dimming’. Yet there’s no experimental evidence of most, the cloud part, and the optical physics predicting it wrong.

    The proof is simple. Look at clouds about to rain. They have larger droplets but are darker underneath, higher albedo. The theory predicts the reverse.

    From 2004, after it was clear there was no experimental proof of this ‘cooling’, NASA has claimed enhanced ‘reflection’ from the higher surface area of the smaller water droplets in polluted clouds, e.g.: http://terra.nasa.gov/FactSheets/Aerosols/

    That’s fantasy physics. In reality, there’s probably a hitherto unsuspected, second optical process, direct backscattering at the tops of clouds which shields the interior. It’s strongly dependent on droplet size and highly directional**. Glider pilots remark how it can blind temporarily. The physicists correct for this angular albedo.

    **After the first interaction with droplets in line of sight, the wave front is concentrated in the forward direction, 10^7 for 15 micron droplets, 10^5 at 5 microns [polluted]. The angular spread is much greater for the latter.

    If you assume the same 3% backscattering at the second interaction as for the first, that backscattered intensity peaks at 3% of 10^7/10^5, an amazing bit of physics. Because of the dispersion, the backscattered light is emitted as a cone superimposed on Lambertian diffuse albedo. The cone angle is lower for larger droplets.

    An upper bound calculation taking account of increased droplet number suggests pollution reduces this component of albedo by a maximum of c. 10 on reducing average droplet size by a factor of 3.. Reverse the argument for the larger droplets in rain clouds and it’s easy to see why they become so dark.

    So, there’s no justification for the IPCC’s claim of high-feedback CO2-AGW. The science is in no way settled. I suspect AR4 was known to be wrong before publication.

    • Alistair:
      Do you have a generally accessible reference for your above discussion? Thanks

      • It’s my own work in progress. To access the Mie calculations, use Mieplot available at http://www.philiplaven.com/mieplot.htm.

        The key idea, the concentration of energy after the first scattering then dramatically-enhanced backscattering as the wave loses directional information, has been put before professional physicists [I’m more of an engineer but with a lot of experience in nanotechnology] and they have agreed that I’m on the right track.

        I’m presently wading through the maths to quantify it, and it’s hideous which is why it has been missed!

        A key issue is that because the logical deduction is that we may have another form of AGW which is self-limiting, these ideas take away the monopoly of CO2 on AGW and that could well be net zero a la Misolczi.

        That is bad news for the ‘Team’ and I have not so far submitted this for publication because it could be buried for 14 months or so before being rejected on spurious grounds.

  57. It is not only “The Science is not Settled”, Man-Made Global Warming is an invalid scientific problem!

    Why?

    I will try to explain my reasoning for the above statement.

    In science, if current observation is similar to past observation, we don’t need a new theory to explain the current observation. This applies to “Man-Made Global warming” according to the following observations.

    Current observation: 0.45 deg C increase in global temperature in the 30 years period from 1970 to 2000.

    Past observation: 0.45 deg C increase in global temperature in the 30 years period from 1910 to 1940.

    http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

    As a result, as the current global warming is not anomalous, “Man-made global warming” is an invalid scientific problem.

    • But Girma, you forget, Climate science says momma nature went on holiday after 1970 and evil human emitted co2 took over the ability to cause global temperature to rise.

    • Roger Andrews

      Girma.

      How do we measure “global warming”? With temperatures, of course. But whose temperatures, how measured, and where?

      In your example you use HadCRUT3, the IPCCs “official” temperature time series. HadCRUT3 is actually constructed by applying large and demonstrably invalid adjustments to the SST and air temperature records and then by merging these two incompatible data sets, but no matter. It’s what most people use, and the numbers you got from it are substantially correct (I get 0.44 and 0.50 of warming for 1910-1940 and 1970-2000, but that’s close enough.)

      Now let’s look at another series – the GISS “meteorological station only” series. GISSMET isn’t perfect either, but it isn’t totally scrambled by adjustments and it uses only land station records that measure air temperatures directly – it isn’t dominated by SST data that are incorrectly assumed to be valid long-term air temperature proxies. GISSMET shows over twice as much warming between 1970 and 2000 as it does between 1910 and 1940 (0.58 vs. 0.28C). And if we add in the data after 2000 we get approaching 1C of warming between 1970 and the present.

      Which brings up the question of whether global warming has stopped. Most published series suggest it has. HadCRUT3 shows no significant warming since the 1998 El Niño. Neither does the NCDC land-ocean series or the GISS LOTI series, or HadSST2 or any of the other SST series, or the UAH and RSS lower troposphere MSU series. In fact the only series that suggests global warming is still going is GISSMET, which shows 0.3-0.4C of continued warming since 1998. It’s easy to dismiss GISSMET as an outlier, but it’s the only series that’s based on direct measurements of surface air temperature, which is the accepted global warming metric. All the others measure air temperatures somewhere other than at the surface or are proxy reconstructions that use “corrected” SST data as air temperature surrogates.

      So has global warming stopped or not? Was 2010 really the warmest year on record? It all depends on whose data we use. In short, we still don’t have a robust metric for measuring global warming – HadCRUT3 certainly doesn’t qualify. And without such a metric I submit that it’s going to be difficult to “settle the science”.

      So what metric should we use? Well, there is no single one. Surface air temperature, satellite and SST trends are all significantly different, and these differences undoubtedly have something to tell us, so we should probably use all three. Ocean heat content would of course be a fourth if we could ever develop a reliable OHC series.

      • Roger

        Thank you for your considered reply.

      • In science, if current observation is similar to past observation, we don’t need a new theory to explain the current observation. This applies to “Man-Made Global warming” according to the following global sea surface temperature (hadsst2gl.txt) observations.

        Current observation: 0.39 deg C increase in global temperature in the 30 years period from 1970 to 2000.

        Past observation: 0.47 deg C increase in global temperature in the 30 years period from 1910 to 1940.

        http://bit.ly/ggntoQ

        As a result, as the current global warming is not anomalous (actually the current change is slightly less!), “Man-made global warming” is an invalid scientific problem.

  58. Spin promotes skepticism.

    Though there is the basis in the Formal Language of mathematics to conclude the Greenhouse Effect exists, the use of the phrase “the science is settled” to communicate this aspect of a system beyond its actual meaning demonstrates inadequate decision-making for policy groups and the general public.

    Decision-making typically includes potential problem and opportunity analysis as well as required triggers and contingencies. Misunderstanding, whether intentional or inadvertent is a potential problem the originating author(s) should be prepared to address openly.

  59. Climate Science is unique. It is one of the newest branches of science, yet the leading practitioners claim that the science is settled. Name one other branch of science where the science is settled? History shows over and over again that the science is never settled, as new information comes to light, new theories emerge that provide predictive value than the old.

    There is a branch of human activity where we can say that things are settled. That is politics. Where a consensus has been reached, a decision has been agreed and further discussion has been cut off. This is the reality for Climate Science. It is a political movement falsely claiming to be science.

    • ge0050,
      When evolutionary science was young, the Eugenics movement not only declared the science settled, but offered many nigfty new laws to make sure that evolutionary settled science was carreid out on the human population as broadly as possible.

    • Human anatomy. It’s a real problem for med schools, they have to teach human anatomy, but that is not where the action is

    • I don’t think the scientists say the science is settled, but that one key aspect is settled. To use an analogy, it is like Newton’s laws are true most of the time. They are, but under specific conditions they don’t hold. We know that CO2 increases are associated with average global temperature increases. We know that average global temperature increases are associated with extreme weather and alterations in weather patterns. The exact details are, I agree NOT settled at all, and that thousands of scientists are working on the complex details, and there is room for disagreement but there is broad agreement on the basics. We shouldn’t be dogmatic, but if you question everything, you don’t have the possibility of analysis and then you can’t have a science. Science is puzzle solving and questioning in a focussed way – it is NOT a political movement, but an emerging cluster of fields.

      http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • ‘Science is puzzle solving and questioning in a focussed way – it is NOT a political movement, but an emerging cluster of fields’

        I wonder why so many leading climatologists seem to act in a way that is exactly what you say science is NOT?

      • maybe individual climatologists become political BECAUSE the science they do informs them on the consequences?
        To be honest, when they are doing the science, or simulations, or whichever branch of climate science they work in, it can’t be confused with politics. I don’t know how you could confuse the two things. I know lots of UK climatre scientists, and they are a diverse bunch of people who are just good at science.
        This does not mean they don’t think they should do something about conserving energy. Indeed, climate scientists are MORE likely to travel by plane, so you could argue that they are not very good at being in a political movement if the one thing the movement stands for is something they can’t stick to!!!

        http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • paul haynes: I suspect you underestimate the political groupthink that goes with academia and science. I rather doubt the UK climate scientists are as diverse as a group as you say.

        Some may smoke pipes and others may fly kites, but overall I’d be surprised if they were less than 60:40 liberal vs conservative.

      • What imho would be more significant is to check the difference between climate scientist and average scientists, or techies (scientists from hard sciences + engineers).
        If they are significantly different, we may speak of groupthink somewhat objectively. If not, I do not think we will get far along those lines. I have no idea how the comparison would fare, I have some contradicting intuitions based on my past in academic environment….Something to do would be to cross check 3 groups: techies, climate science, and social science.
        But I fear such a study is difficult, mainly because those categories are ill defined and I suspect you can skew the results from the particular criterion you use to build your groups.

      • >>We know that CO2 increases are associated with average global temperature increases.

        Yes, we know that in the past an increase in temperature has been followed by an increase in CO2, with a lag of about 800 years. So, it could be said that the current increase in CO2 is a result past warming plus lag time. Also, we know that the climate has been cooling slowly for almost 10k years, with brief periods of warming about every 900 years or so. So it would appear the current warming and increased CO2 fits well with the historical pattern.

        What I find much more tellings is that for hundreds of millions of years the average temperature was much higher, 22 C, which human beings still instinctively recognize as the most comfortable temperature at which to set the thermostat in the house. Yet we somehow assume that this very cold period in the earth’s history as compared to the past is somehow optimal for life on earth. With CO2 levels two hundred years ago barely sufficient to allow photosynthesis, it is much more likely that life was just barely hanging on.

      • We know that average global temperature increases are associated with extreme weather …

        No, actually, we don’t. It was over this issue that Dr. Landsea resigned.

        … and alterations in weather patterns.

        Practically everything is associated with “alterations in weather patterns”, from the annual seasonal cycle to ENSO to the PDO and other known ocean oscillations to solar activity to the path of the solar system through this little corner of the galaxy. Dr Curry has rightly said that we are reasonably certain that a) the greenhouse effect exists, b) CO2 levels have risen over the last century, and c) the global climate has risen in temperature by around half a degree C over the same period. We have no evidence whatever connecting b to c, only a hypothesis — and multiple independent threads of evidence, from ARGO to CERES, that the hypothesis is wrong, or at least grossly exaggerated.

  60. it is amusing the way the denialist community has jumped on board with a bunch of very far left wing post normal types. Sort of like Noam Chomsky and Sarah Palin dating.

    • Eli– what is your defination of the “denialist community”?

    • Who is Noah Chomsky?

      • Someone who makes Obama look conservative.

      • Is he Noam Chomsky’s alter ego? But seriously, Chomsky is among the greatest American scientists of the 20th Century contributing to many areas of linguistics, computing and psychology. His politics is of the left and he has made many original contributions to international relations, politics, cultural and media studies. One of the most important living thinkers.

        http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

      • Latimer: Noam Chomsky is a famous linguist and MIT professor who became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and advocate of radical socialism. He is the intellectual godfather to today’s American left and his arguments inform much of what you hear from the left. Most current anti-America, anti-Israel, and anti-capitalism bashing has Chomsky footnotes.

        Chomsky is of course right on-board with climate change. What’s more his prescription for climate change unsurprisingly nestles within his relentless call for the overthrow of capitalism and the elites behind it:

        At present there’s very little sign of [transforming the global energy system to low or zero greenhouse gas-emitting technologies] happening. Furthermore, while new technologies are essential, the problems go well beyond that. In fact, they go beyond the current technical debates in Congress about how to work out cap-and-trade devices. We have to face something more far-reaching—the need to reverse the huge state-corporate and social engineering projects of the post-Second World War period, which very consciously promoted an energy-wasting and environmentally destructive fossil fuel economy.

        http://www.urbanhabitat.org/cj/chomsky#

        Chomsky goes on to argue for the necessity to fight the “business classes” and support labor unions with card check legislation thereby promoting real democracy — as opposed to the fake democracy that oppresses us now. Real democracy, judging by Chomsky’s previous support for the North Vietnamese and Pol Pot governments, is some sort of People’s Democracy.

        Climate change advocates often poke fun at libertarian skeptics for silly conspiracy thinking because skeptics see climate change as part of a larger socialist project. However, as this Chomsky article demonstrates, climate change advocates are simply blind to the nature of leftist support for their movement.

      • I think that Chomsky is held in such high regard by the same failure that keeps Paul Ehrlich in high regard.

    • Eli– My question was serious. In your view, is someone a denialist if they do not support tearing down coal fired power plants or implementing cap and trade schemes for CO2??

      • Go read the slaying the dragon threads and you should get a pretty good idea of what a denialist is. As to whether what you are talking about is denial or not, depends on where the argument starts from. If it starts from people contaminating the atmosphere and oceans with carbon is no problem, why yes sir, that is denialist. If it starts from we have hard choices, and we are not going to make those, maybe not, but Eli wants to hear about what you propose and why.

      • Eli the way you put this is ill posed. Apart from what was going on at the sky dragon thread, you are using “denialist” in the sense of a disagreement about values, in terms of what is perceived as a problem or not. Once somebody defines “dangerous” in a sensible way and has done a thorough impact assessment (both costs and benefits), then we have a starting point for talking about values. Denialist is totally the wrong word to use for this, IMO.

      • Eli—I agree with Judith’s assessment about the use of the term denialist.

        Here are a couple of examples regarding proposed policy actions that I believe are sensible: (for the United States)
        1. Initiate the building of large numbers of electrical generation facilities that do not use oil/coal- (modern nuclear power.) These would be good for the economy both in the short term and long term, and would be good for the environment
        2. Plan and build infrastructure that will provide for adequate fresh water retention as well as flood control. Design and build efficient electrical distribution systems

        I do not see it as sensible to implement actions that are highly costly and have minimal benefits.

      • If it starts from we have hard choices, and we are not going to make those, maybe not, but Eli wants to hear about what you propose and why.
        I’m sure many here hear you Eli. The problem is : who do we trust and why?

        Currently virtually all climatology is state-funded, and the state has a massive vested interest in CAGW being believed. And in Climategate we saw the not unexpected resultof this – scheming and plotting in the climate hierarchy, so as to fake a consensus that the science is settled enough for the the taxing and regulating to start. Followed by a deafening silence from virtually all the remainder of the climate establishment, and cover-up after cover-up by their employers.

  61. Dr Curry – I’m curious as to whether you think any progress towards reconciliation between the various ‘sides’ in the climate debate resulted as a consequence of (a) the Lisbon workshop and (b) the kerfuffle that resulted from the whole ‘gavingate’ affair?

    • It is now agreed by both “sides” that “the science is settled” is a bad thing to say. Joe Romm is positively incensed that such a statement would be attributed to Gavin Schmidt, and thinks that such a statement is damaging to Gavin’s reputation. If the science isn’t settled, then this is a step towards getting rid of the “denier” accusation, taking a more careful look at the uncertainties, and maybe then stop using the argument from consensus to try to convince people. Getting rid of “the science is settled” is the first step.

      • But they’ve never said the science is settled. This was/is just another denier strawman – isn’t that the whole point?

      • I had a look. Why do these people have to write with such venom?

      • Why do rattlesnakes use such venom?

      • I had a look. Why do these people have to write with such venom?

        You mean those venomous comments where we figure out that tallbloke is *largely* (though not completely) absolved from blame regarding Pearce’s screw-up, which is (mostly) Pearce’s to shoulder?

        Hey, tallbloke, are we treating you “venomously” over there?

      • dhogaza: I think hunter was referring to the sneering tone saturating the Deepclimate article. You may feel it justified, but it is there.

        I’m curious if your side has thought through whether this approach works.

        I’m something of a lukewarmist but it is exactly this relentless partisan venom plus Climategate shenanigans that has persuaded me that Schmidt et al are not true scientists and that I will resist the climate change agenda until it is under the supervision of scientists worthy of my trust.

        Then again, maybe turning it into an ugly polarizing political spectacle will work. It can in the short term, but climate change is a long term game.

        Given that your side is losing traction in the public arena, can you afford this sort of nastiness?

      • No, the science is settled is not just another denier strawman. Read link to manackers post on the previous thread, richard somerville’s statement, and RP Jr’s statement of what was written by the NRC. If the science isn’t settled, why are they so busy calling people deniers? The deniers are denying unsettled science? Denying a consensus by a certain group of scientists (who forgot to pay much attention to uncertainty and ignorance)?

      • Dr. Curry: It’s interesting to watch you work! Divide and conquer the extremes and force the two sides towards the middle.

        It’s good strategy. I just wonder how much of an impact something like Lisbon has. The “truth to power” approach, as you call it, has lost traction, but it doesn’t seem that Gavin Schmidt et al. have given up on it.

      • Because the term “Science is Settled” has been used, it’s not really a strawman.

        But the way Science is Settled has been caricatured by contrarian voices makes it look like a strawman alright.

        So it’s not a strawman. Only a caricature.

      • With respect Dr. Curry, use of the term “Denier” implies some sort of validity to “settled science”. Its an oxymoron; contradictory, inappropriate usage, and soured logic.

        I’m enjoying your remarkable ability.

        It might be insightful to mentor the IPCC authors what “business are we in”?

      • I think “The Science is settled.” is a perfectly fair four-word summary of Gavin’s thoughts when he writes stuff like this:

        In the climate field, there are a number of issues which are no longer subject to fundamental debate in the community. The existence of the greenhouse effect, the increase in CO2 (and other GHGs) over the last hundred years and its human cause, and the fact the planet warmed significantly over the 20th Century are not much in doubt. IPCC described these factors as ‘virtually certain’ or ‘unequivocal’. The attribution of the warming over the last 50 years to human activity is also pretty well established – that is ‘highly likely’ and the anticipation that further warming will continue as CO2 levels continue to rise is a well supported conclusion. To the extent that anyone has said that the scientific debate is over, this is what they are referring to. In answer to colloquial questions like “Is anthropogenic warming real?”, the answer is yes with high confidence.
        – Gavin Schmidt

      • Ken,
        “IPCC described these factors as ‘virtually certain’ or ‘unequivocal’. <– LOL, they didn't and couched their ignorance in many ways; let me know if you need specific cites to AR4 language and the "spam" glossary to their terms.

        That is an issue worthy of review?

        Just perhaps if we had enjoyed or can enjoy something better we can agree on next steps?

        Regards,
        John

      • The three specific things he was asked about are climate sensitivity, ice, and temperature series. All of them are ongoing, and in no sense settled. A scientist who does work in climate sensitivity is Stephen Schwartz. Now, I doubt Gavin Schmidt agrees with each and every conclusion in a Schwartz paper; in fact, I think he probably doubts some of them, but there is absolutely no need for a reconciliation between Schmidt and Schwartz. They’re not about to engage in mortal combat. There was no compelling need for Schmidt to travel to Lisbon to make peace with Schwartz.

        On ice, with whom would he be in violent disagreement? Go halfway around the world to smoke a peace pipe with whom? Maybe the IPCC.

        They were asking him to travel halfway around the world to reconcile with colleagues with whom he gets along just fine and dandy.

      • When did Schmidt start “getting along just fine and dandy” with Tallbloke and McIntyre?

        On ice, with whom would he be in violent disagreement?
        How about India’s senior-most glaciologist V K Raina ? Or Jeff Id and Ryan O’Donell?

        Or maybe Anthony Watts wrt temperature measurement?

        I know – of those names, only Anthony was invited, but still, he had reason to be there. He just made a different choice.

      • Well, in all fairness, Chomsky is a major figure in terms of his accomplishments in linguistics and several feet of political commentary.

        Aside from minor work with butterflies and bioregionalism, Ehrlich’s claim to fame is as a publicist with ivy league cred for environmental doom-and-gloom.

      • If the science isn’t settled, why are they so busy calling people deniers? The deniers are denying unsettled science? Denying a consensus by a certain group of scientists (who forgot to pay much attention to uncertainty and ignorance)?

        Or possible they did pay attention to it and came to different conclusions from you. But my main point is that just because the science is “unsettled” that doesn’t mean that each and every aspect of it is up for grabs, and politivally motivated arguments which either ignore or deny the existence of the scientific case for AGW constitute “denialism” regardless of the extent to whether the science is “settled”.
        So yes, it is perfectly possible to deny “unsettled” science.

      • Latimer Alder

        Why are you so fixated on ‘politically motivated arguments’?

        There are plenty of reasons to argue about the science without dragging politics into it.

        Or can you genuinely not understand that plenty of people are unconvinced by the ‘unsettled’ science that has been presented as something else? If so, then I fear you are going to be in for a nasty surprise, since you are tilting at the wrong windmill.

      • I wouldn’t say I’m “fixated” on poitically motivated arguments but I think it’s important to distinguish these from genuine skepticism and they tend to skew the debate and make it much more noisy than it needs to be.
        I don’t deny that there are people who are genuinely unconvinced by the scientific arguments, the problem I have in many cases is understanding the actual objection they have. I mean what part of the scientific argument for AGW exactly do you dispute?

      • Latimer Alder

        My major objection comes from my background in a very practical science – Chemistry.

        And that is that there is a vanishingly small body of expriemental proof of any of the assertions made about AGW.

        My secondary one comes from my subsequent career as an IT guy and modeller. Which is the lack of any validation or verification of the climate models that are used instead of experiment (see 1 above)

        My third is from the almost complete lack of a robust and relaible data collection method for the variable that you are concerned about – temperature . And of unrecorded ‘adjustments’ to the already unreliable data.

        And those are just high-level objections to the process of ‘understanding what is going on today’.

        As to the ‘future terrible consequences to humanity’ piece then I think we’d be better off reading tealeaves, given the total lack of any experimental science in this area.

        Enough for you to be going on with?

      • Latimer Alder

        I’ll summarise even further:

        ‘The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth”’.

        Those of us from ‘hard’ sciences sort of like that quote from Feynman. It should be written in the frontispiece of every climatologist’s notebooks. In big letters.

      • Latimer,

        The surface temperature records have been subject to any number of independent analyses, see

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/surface-temperature-measurements-advanced.htm

        They also broadly agree with the satellite records for the period where they overlap. Are you actually disputing that the world has been warming?

        Or that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas or that it hasn’t increased due to human activity? Or that the estimates of climate sensitivity are unsound? As far as I see it these are the core questions which form the basic argument for AGW (I’m leaving aside for now the question of whether it will be good or bad) – what I’m trying to get at is exactly what part of this argument you dispute.

      • aa,
        The surface record can be reviewd any number of times and it still shows a trivial move, well within the margin of instrumental error that indicates no big change in temperature.
        That a cargo cult of well paid profiteers and activists have managed to sell this pile of straw as if it were some sort of meaningful indicator of danger is the only interesting questin left.

      • Let’s take just one of your points as a f’rinstance.

        I’m quite happy to believe that the global average temperature may have gone up a bit over the last hundred years or so. I am extremely dubious about the oft-quoted figure of +0.73C as being the amount it has warmed. The data collection methodology simply isn’t good enough, nor is the equipment or network rigorously enough maintained to allow that to be an accurate number.

        And, as any experimentalist will tell you, if you can’t get the basic data collection right, you will not draw robust and reliable conclusions. And showing that three very slightly different ways of analysing the same bad data give similar results does not prove that they are all correct – it merely demonstrates that they are similar methods. Big deal.

        It is simple basic scientific errors like this – that we were taught to avoid at secondary school – but which seem to be all-pervasive through climatology that make ‘hard’ scientists and engineers deeply sceptical of the whole field. GIGO doesn’t only apply to computing.

      • Sorry, but if you’re going to throw out the global temprerature record you’re going to have to provide some evidence to back up your assertions.

        Anyway as I mentioned above the satellite records broadly agree with the instrumental records for the period where they overlap,
        which includes most of the post-1970’s warming.

      • Latimer Alder

        Note carefully that I do not ‘throw out’ the global temperature record. Based on the poor quality of the observed data and the data collection methods, I doubt its accuracy. And hence any conclusions that can sensibly be drawn from it.

        I also note your weasel words about the satellite record ‘broadly agreeing’ for the very limited period that the two have run together.

        I could equally well argue, as has Hunter above, that the existing surface temperature record ‘broadly agrees’ with there having been no actual warming at all.

        And all this before we have even begun to think about any possible reasons for some slight warming (if indeed there is any at all).

      • Fair enough, I accept that you don’t want to throw out the entire temperature record, but we can always say “we doubt the accuracy” of any data which does not support our case. I don’t doubt that the further back you go the records are less reliable but I’m not aware of any credible study which seriously calls into doubt the extent of the warming over the last century or so.

        As for the satellite records, you can see a comparison here.

        I therefore accept that my claim that the satellites “broadly support” the surface data was badly worded- they actually match it pretty well.

      • Latimer Alder

        @andrew

        Thanks.

        Nice graph btw. Pity about the lack of error bars that allow us to judge whether it is telling us anything significant at all.

        And it may come as a grave disappointment to you that I am not going to start wetting my pants and running around shouting ‘The Sky is Falling’ for a trivial change in global average temperature over half a human lifetime – even if it were to exist.

        Still – at least you properly read my comment, rather than making assumptions about what you’ve been told ‘sceptics’ think. So that’s a sort of progress.

      • Latimer,

        Given the extent to which the various different records agree with each other I think that to claim you can’t draw conclusions because you can’t see the error bars rather smacks of desperation.

        And to claim that you should not be worried because the change appears “trivial” is simply argument from incredulity. You accuse me of making assumptions about what the skeptics of saying but you don’t appear to want to really understand the case that the scientists are making.

      • … what part of the scientific argument for AGW exactly do you dispute?

        The part that says the roughly half-degree warming over the last 150 years is due in any measurable amount to CO2.

        Note that there is no actual “scientific argument for AGW”, there is only a hypothesis. And an interesting fact about this hypothesis is that every prediction it makes has been proven wrong. If it were in fact a scientific hypothesis, it would have been discarded a decade ago — but instead we have Trenberth, for example, claiming that some huge quantity of heat managed to sneak down through a kilometer of ocean without being noticed by the ARGO buoys. Like creationism, the AGW hypothesis seems to its adherents to be non-falsifiable. But this of course removes it completely from the domain of science.

      • The real big issue with political motivation lies in the alarmist camp – CAGW being promoted as an excuse to advance the totalitarian political cause. And being financed by the state, dwarfing all other sources of finance.

  62. As far as I know, Eric Steig says we shouldn’t be quibbling with titles like “Science Is Settled” as long as the text makes it clear otherwise. He says Gavin would have disagreement with him on this. He said this in December 2009.

    Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic is evidently not a reader of the Real Climate blog. Perhaps, a climate scientist, preferably Gavin Schmidt, should write to The Atlantic editor and remind them that climate science is unsettled.

    Copenhagen: The Science Is Settled; The Policy And Politics Aren’t
    http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/12/the_timing_isnt_coincidental_as.php

    [Response: Actually, that’s a very good article. One can quibble with the title, as you are doing, but it is clear from the text that he and Gavin would have no disagreement on this. Quote: “However valid one’s feeling of exclusion is, it isn’t a substitute for what science does: test and try to falsify. The theory of anthropogenic climate change has not been disproven. It is stronger today than ever before.” –eric]
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=2187#comment-147745

    • “He says Gavin would have no disagreement”, obviously.

      The argument made in the text of the Atlantic article is very similar to what Gavin and Eric is making, then and now, except that the Atlantic comes to the conclusion that “Science Is Settled”. And evidently neither Gavin nor Eric had a problem with that at the time.

    • Why not quote someone we can take seriously, like Krusty the Clown, instead of Eric Steig? Given today’s events, he’s clearly not an honest scientist, if he’s a scientist at all.

  63. Regarding “settled climate science”:

    My experience may be typical of other citizens. I became interested in this subject since I was astounded by the proceedings of the Copenhagen conference a year ago. They were actually adding up carbon emission reduction pledges from various nations and projecting to a tenth of a degree the global temperature 100 years from now! I wondered, when did we get so completely knowledgeable of the earth’s climate?

    As I have learned over the last year, the scientific issues are clouded by speculation, fear-mongering, and positions supported by vast amounts of public funding, as well as commercial and financial interests. It is difficult for a citizen to gain a synoptic view of climate science, and to form an opinion regarding public policy choices being proposed.

    Among many things I have read, I attach a link to one of the best summaries of the facts and the reasons we should be skeptical of global warming alarms. IMO the paper provides a good example of communicating to a general, but interested audience. As the authors (William Irwin and Brian Williams) state: “We have not disproved AGW theory in this article. Instead, we have shown that there are very good reasons to be sceptical of this theory. We are ready and willing to embrace AGW theory if the scientific evidence ultimately points in that direction.”

    http://reasonpapers.com/pdf/32/rp_32_1.pdf

    • Ron:
      Many thanks for the useful reference. It is a very easy to read summary of how, IMHO, many skeptics view the current situation. Those who strongly believe in CAGW, however, are unlikely to see much merit in it and will undoubtedly dismiss it because it cites Willie Soon.

  64. Someone please correct me if I’ve missed something, but basic human rights do not seem to get much support in the policy decisionmaking frameworks that get mentioned here. We could write a book on this, but our society has determined regarding the moral use of govt’s force that a criminal’s life, liberty or property cannot be compromised by the state without every element of the crime being proved beyond a reasonable doubt in the view of every member of the jury. Alarmists seek to use govt force to impose draconian infringements on the lives, liberty and property of billions of INNOCENT people without any proof at all.

    I realize that govt policymaking of the sort contemplated here is not Constitutionally constrained in the manner of criminal law. But as a guide to society’s moral compass regarding the burden of proof required to impose punishment, it is certainly instructive. We prefer to let 10 guilty go free (and incure the inevitable societal costs for doing so) than to wrongfully punish one innocent. Why? Because we recognize, as a matter of simple morality, that people have basic human rights.

    Why shouldn’t that kind of morality inform our decisions in evaluating alarmist policy prescriptions? Or what about the moral admonition embraced in the Hippocratic oath — first, do no harm? When you face uncertainty, wisdom and morality dictate that you not act precipitously. Morality matters. It should inform this kind of decision making.

    I would argue that a recognition of basic human rights requires an appropriate burden of proof before billions of people are harmed. Speculative claims of gloom and doom based on woefully inadequate understanding fail to reach the level of proof that most members of society would consider morally sufficient before imposing punishment.

    • I would argue that a recognition of basic human rights requires an appropriate burden of proof before billions of people are harmed.

      I agree, but there are certainly those who don’t. Somehow they see the “rights” you speak of as less important and less “necessary” than you and I do. And as less so than their own jaundiced and often ignorant opinions. Somehow they fail to understand that their proposed actions WILL harm those billions of people. Is that blindness due to stupidity? Ignorance? Simple maliciousness? Evil? Or just to the basic human perverseness of ego that has convinced them that they know better how to run your life and mine than we do?

      There are those who would deny that any view other than their own is legitimate, even though they can neither justify nor defend that view with verifiable facts and data. They call the questioners “deniers” and castigate them and would jail them – or “re-educate” them into “right-thinking”. They would deny the questioners a voice in the process. They hide their data and methods so the questioners can be “assumed” to be ignorant – and ignorable. And they call it “science” and pronounce it unassailable truth and “settled science” – even if they do use different weasel words to say that..

      And they are wroth that the questioners do not “sit down and shut up” – that people like you (and me) ask “inconvenient questions” for which they have either no answers – or answers that are vague, uncertain and unsupportable . But they apparently feel no responsibility to provide the level of proof that you and I require for belief in their dogma – the level of proof that would be required for moral justification for the impoverishment of most of the world’s peoples and the deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of millions that would result from their proposed policies.

      But, you see, they don’t believe that – even though they seem to have no clear vision of their own regarding what the world would look like if their policies were to be implemented. So the “debate” has turned to “uncertainty” and the claim is that we should act either because of or in spite of the uncertainty. Even though they cannot provide a reasonable supportable risk/cost-benefit analysis for either action or inaction.

      So the “debate that doesn’t exist” goes on – and on – and on……

    • stan

      Yes, you’ve missed something. Several somethings.

      1. “..basic human rights do not seem to get much support in the policy decisionmaking frameworks that get mentioned here. We could write a book on this, but our society has determined regarding the moral use of govt’s force that a criminal’s life, liberty or property cannot be compromised by the state without every element of the crime being proved beyond a reasonable doubt in the view of every member of the jury. Alarmists seek to use govt force to impose..”

      (Forgive the clip, I hope not to alter your meaning by extracting you from your context.)

      The principle element of human rights being consent, one must ask which statement is more true:
      a.) Everyone on the planet has consented to a few people profiting by making disproportionate lasting change to the air all of us share in common;
      b.) No one on the planet has consented to a few people profiting by making disproportionate lasting change to the air all of us share in common.

      One can then ask the same question for these options:
      a.) Everyone has the right to take what benefit they can from a common shared resource without limit or consideration of the consent of others;
      b.) No one has the unlimited right to lastingly alter shared common resources without some form of common consent.

      2. One notes with irony the use of the term ‘Alarmists’ of one’s opponents followed by the hyperbollically armwaved and shouted, “draconian infringements on the lives, liberty and property of billions of INNOCENT people without any proof at all.”

      3. Your economic model, sketchy as it is, flies in the face of the economic experience of the history of business. It amounts to some sort of communism, where the businesses who benefit are corporate charities, ward of the state than intrinsically or explicitly subsidizes them through alloting without fee or rent a demonstrated-to-be-limited* resource.

      (*While there are all sorts of conclusions about changes to the climate one can question the proof of, the sigma level of the change of CO2 since 1750 and human contribution to this rise is so high as to be well beyond the plausible questioning of the reasonable skeptic.)

      Imposing systems of valuation that allow for the full, free and fair exchange of resources in the marketplace does not extinguish rights, but better enforces their fulsome, free fairness.

      This has happened in market after market, from wireline telecommunications to wireless, for example.

      There is now a worldwide market for mobile telephones worth far more than the estimated cost of all market schemes for CO2 put together.

      Do you think this cell phone market, based on fees for use of bandwidth, has imposed “draconian infringements on the lives, liberty and property of billions of INNOCENT people” or more like benefited them?

      Certainly some of the proposed market schemes are flawed, some deeply so. Others, however, are so inexpensive as to be in essence a marginal or free rider attached to current systems, and also known to be effective.

      Without such a mechanism to pay the individuals — and it must generate payment to individuals per capita, not to states nor their general revenues, nor corporations nor special interest groups, to arguably protect human rights — for their consent to be deprived of their share in this limited resource, all you have is theft and abuse of rights.

      Your argument has it backwards. Your onus is reversed. You side with the subsidy of the few by the many enforced by the armed might of the state.

      That’s the something you are missing.

      • No, Bart – he didn’t get it wrong.

        In your first point, you give two nonsense choices- neither of which bears any resemblance to reality in the form you’ve stated them.

        As for “draconian infringements on the lives, liberty and property of billions of INNOCENT people without any proof at all.”, I will certainly admit that not ALL of those people are “innocent.” But you’ve shown no reason to believe that the proposed “solutions” for GW are anything but “draconian infringements on the lives, liberty and property of billions of INNOCENT people without any proof at all.”
        Who’s doing the armwaving here?

        Then there’s Your economic model, sketchy as it is, flies in the face of the economic experience of the history of business. which is disingenuous arm-waving at best, since he presented no economic model.

        But if you want one to shoot at, try this one –
        https://judithcurry.com/2011/01/31/lisbon-workshop-on-reconciliation-part-iii/#comment-37090

        I would actually appreciate some critical comments on that so I can improve the “model.”

        You side with the subsidy of the few by the many enforced by the armed might of the state.

        Just what do you think Cap and Trade, ETS and every other carbon market has been? Who do you think made money on those fiascoes? And where was it extracted from? And in what way did any of those schemes actually reduce anything except the cash flow of those who “invested?”

        YOU may support that, but you really shouldn’t believe I would. Or probably stan, either, although I won’t presume to speak for him.

        As I said, you’re the one who got it backwards.

      • Jim Owen

        It’s funny, my two nonsense choices get taken plenty seriously substituting nation for planet and taxes for air, in the context of the Declaration of Independence, say.

        I’m not calling you un-American, in this, just because you’re only a hair’s breadth from calling the Declaration of Independence nonsense.

        As for innocent, I don’t care about guilt or innocence in this context. The model of criminal courts and punishment is baseless and useless when applied to the concepts discussed. It’s like asking why is God punishing you with a terrible football team.

        Our correspondent, stan, did indeed present an implied (hence ‘sketchy’) economic model, and a bankrupt one (hence also ‘sketchy’).

        His model assumes unlimited exploitation of limited common resources without consent or compensation by the few protected by the might of the state against the interests of the many.

        That’s an economic model.

        Stalin’s. And Halliburton’s.

        And while you got that when I said, “Certainly some of the proposed market schemes are flawed, some deeply so,” I meant the first two from your list, “Cap and Trade, ETS and every other carbon market” so far as the handwaviness of your references allow one to be sure of what you mean to say. How do your examples square with my condition, “a mechanism to pay the individuals — and it must generate payment to individuals per capita, not to states nor their general revenues, nor corporations nor special interest groups,” except as the opposite of what I said?

        So, you’re backwards as a breech birth in the back seat of a cab driving in reverse in your straw man ways.

        Now, as to a critique of your own link, let me suggest I will do my best to reply within that thread in some days should time permit me to give it the attention and thought it deserves.

      • Bart R

        a.) Everyone on the planet has consented to a few people profiting by making disproportionate lasting change to the air all of us share in common;

        What is the “lasting change to the air” due to:

        1) To free you from the darkness at night
        2) To make you move faster and stronger than any animal using the products of the industrial revolution
        3) To give you the longest life expectancy in human history

        The “lasting change to the air” has not produced any change in the global mean temperature as shown in the following data.

        http://bit.ly/eUXTX2

        However, my list above is considered to be beneficial for humans by most.

      • Girma

        1.) I can be as free from darkness at night for one percent of the conventional emissions of CO2 or less due to new technology which itself does not depend on high CO2 emission;
        2.) I have ample experience with contests of strength and speed, and note these generally go to those who intelligently and efficiently apply their energies, not sqaunder them on wasted and clumsy efforts, as you appear to endorse (just think of the Superbowl);
        3.) The generation born today in Europe and the USA has a shorter life expectancy than its parents or grandparents; when these earlier generations were born, CO2 emission was a fraction of what it is today, and also you have not demonstrated a clear and clean connection of life expectency to driving SUV’s and burning coal.

        As you have yet to provide honest answers to questions of your prior interpretations of data, how am I to be persuaded to click on your links?

        Your list above may be of benefits, but it also simply isn’t correlated to continued emission of CO2 at anything like current levels, and as such is not itself beneficial to most humans.

      • The generation born today in Europe and the USA has a shorter life expectancy than its parents or grandparents; when these earlier generations were born, CO2 emission was a fraction of what it is today, and also you have not demonstrated a clear and clean connection of life expectency to driving SUV’s and burning coal.

        Say what, Nostradamus?
        So your crystal ball gazing reveals that kids born today will die younger than we will?
        And you present that as a “clear and clean connection” between life expectancy and CO2 emissions?
        Which planet are you on?

      • Source for the important part of my claim (that is, the USA):

        New England Journal of Medicine

        Published with dissenting editorial.

        http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr043743

        I made and make no claims of connection to climate, and used a reference by far better credentialed and less disputable (albiet, extremely disputed even by its own publisher) than anything Girma offered in the first instance.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘The generation born today in Europe and the USA has a shorter life expectancy than its parents or grandparents; when these earlier generations were born, CO2 emission was a fraction of what it is today’

        And Al Gore had not invented the Internet back then. If your statistics are true (and I wonder if you have anything at all to back them up?), then I’m sure that it would be possible to show an inverse correlation between Google usage and life expectancy.

        Many ‘sceptics’ might be unconvinced by such a specious argument, but no doubt it would be good enough for Climatologits.

        Posting such trivial nonsense and expecting it to be taken seriously merely undermines your individual credibility and that of the alarmist cause.

        I’m sure that if there are any serious climatologists genuinely trying to do sensible science, (there may still be one or two untainted by the general malaise) their hearts must sink when they are suspected of being guilty by association with such drivel.

    • Well said stan. That is the correct political view, the rights of the public, not the ability of AGW alarmist “scientists” to hood-wink Congress into passing a trillion dollar tax bill on an unproven, in fact already refuted, theory. It would still be wrong if it were for merely a million.

      The only way to correct this is to keep voting them out. Watch what they do and if they are the culprits, vote them out. Ignore what they say. Keep voting them out, vote them out of office.

      And if NGO’s, government agencies and divisions, universities will public fund backing are doing what is equally wrong, write your Congressman and plead to get them defunded.

      This is still a democracy and that is how it is done.

  65. Let me put another thought into the discussion as to whether the science is settled or not. In recent years I have become a student of the history of science. This has led me to consider what I might term scientific “truths” or axioms, that have been established over the centuries. Let me name just one such axiom. A Faraday cage works, because there is no charge on the inside of a hollow charged conductor.

    Can anyone name one such axiom in the whole history of science where, at a vital part of the science, there is absolutely no experimental data whatsoever?

  66. Jim,

    ‘Can anyone name one such axiom in the whole history of science where, at a vital part of the science, there is absolutely no experimental data whatsoever?’

    I’d say that the Prinicple of Relativity might fit this bill.

    We have very good data that points towards its truth locally, ie on earth and the earth’s vicinity, but we don’t have fast, hard proof of it’s being ‘true’ everywhere in the universe.

    Yet, it is a necessary assumption about the nature of the universe and the laws the govern it that physicists make almost implicitly at this point.

    The anthropic principle might be another one based on how you caste the statement of interest.

    • Unfortunately there are no obvious Einsteins involved in climate science :)

      • Well, there’s Einstein, who allegedly said the following:

        “When the number of factors coming into play in a phenomenological complex is too large scientific method in most cases fails. One need only think of the weather, in which case the prediction even for a few days ahead is impossible. “

        “Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong. “

        and

        “The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil from the spirit of man.”

        Though I expect however clear Einstein, there remains the confusion in we his interpreters.

      • Yes, numerical weather forecasting has made huge strides since Einstein.

      • Or the size of few has undergone rapid expansion?

      • Great strides, Eli, but the chaotic limit is still often just a few days, sometimes a few hours locally. This winter has been an exemplar in unpredictability where I am. The next step in science is to figure out how to figure out the chaotic limit. 21st century science will be the science of what cannot be known. We will look pretty foolish but they will be standing on our shoulders.

  67. One of the problems with the “settled science” meme is that “settled” is a slippery word. If you use it to mean “general understanding of the climate system” it may be sort of settled but it does not give enough specifics to be useful. If Gavin et al did not think it was all pretty settled, they would not get so outraged by criticism, and would not censor “Real Climate”. It (agreement with “settled”) is also used to demark the boundary between “real” sceintists and nut cases.

  68. James G @ 5:20: I’d say that the slant of the those making up academia, science, the news media and Hollywood is over 60%. It’s not hard to back that up. That’s overwhelming in my book.

    Do you disagree?

    (Boy, the comment nesting is broken.)

  69. Testing.

    The comment nesting is broken and I’m not sure where this will appear.

  70. It’s probably time to rule off on this dialogue, there’s not been much development of truth, beauty and insight for many posts, we seem to be getting into squabbling. Always a bad sign.

  71. BTW — if any part of what Ryan O. has to say about Eric Steig is true, and I suspect it is, ‘reconciliation’ with the hockey team just got a bit harder.

  72. Judith Curry
    You dress up mendaciousness and hypocrisy with talk of truth and reconciliation. Your underlings lied about why Gavin was not there. However much you spin it, they lied – and you have supported them on this blog in their lies.

    You are nothing more than a denialist fluffer – arousing the marginalised and ill-informed hacks that get off on climate denial porn.

    • And you are rude, crude and ignorant. Gavin himself opened the door to much of what’s been said here. It was his words that precipitated the conversation.

      Do you have anything useful to say? What you’ve said so far has made everyone who reads it dumber.

      • One for the mods, I think.

      • It’s very simple ianoash. Gavin actually thinks the science is settled enough (since he recommends, and only wants to discuss, political action based on it). This was correctly reported by Pearce.

        Gavin though wants for spin purposes to deny it. This typical Team duplicitousness, and his acolytes’ attempts to rationalise it, is what has driven this thread on and on.

      • Latimer Alder

        Enough of these mealy-mouthed oblique and obscure remarks, already.

        Take off the gloves, show your true colours and have the cojones to say what you really mean, man!

      • To be fair, I. A. Nash does actually use his real name instead of a pseudonym ;-)

      • Latimer Alder

        Credit to him for that. But he might be Ian Ash instead.

        Whichever it is, I wish he’d make his feelings clear rather than beating about the bush with vague and allusive remarks………

      • Might even be I. Anash

    • Ianash – True or not, I love the poetry of your post.

      http://mitigatingapathy.blogspot.com/

    • ianash,

      Hey, guy, I know you’re really tryin’ and we all appreciate that. But I gotta tell you this–please don’t take offense–but you’re kinda makin’ a fool of yourself, right guy?

      But I don’t want to discourage you, ianash. I’m on your side, ol’ buddy. Here’s a tip. You might want to try out shewonk’s blog until you’ve got your act together a little more. I mean, it’s not always the best idea to try out a beginner-act on Climate, etc. (or WUWT), the most respected and prestigious climate blogs in recorded history. Only serves to highlight your understandable tyro deficiencies–yah know what I mean? So, again, best to pay your dues at shewonk, then take a shot at the big-time when you’ve worked out the kinks. That’s the spirit!

      • Heck, over at shewonky, he’d be revered as an intellectual giant.
        No danger of being gagged at all.

    • Oh my. Another faithful who cannot handle people making reasonable paraphrases of what others say.
      Tallbloke cannot have even an opinion on what Gavin said- which was easily and reasonably summarized as ‘the science settled’.
      Now even opinions on AGW must be cleared by the CO2 commissariat.
      And of course ianash is the authorized judge of acceptable opinion regarding what the lords of climate pontificate on.
      Can we see your imprimatur, ianash, or is that on a need to know basis?
      And your need to use the climate word for ni**er in talking about our hostess. Can she expect a visit from the Inquisition some evening?
      And as to climate porn, I would suggest that the apocalyptic clap trap your side pushes is a lot closer to porn than the skeptics who keep asking simple questions like ‘why’? and ‘where is the evidence’? and getting bloviating insults from people like you instead of answers.

  73. Ignorance (not uncertainty) is the main problem. It will be foolish to assume that uncertainty (and not ignorance) is the problem. I base the preceding on detailed multiscale spatiotemporal data exploration using complex methods; we’re aware of only the tip of an immense iceberg at this point in time.

  74. “So where did “the science is settled” come from?”

    It sounds like you struggled to pin this on somebody which would vindicate the gang.

  75. I think a comment on Steig-Gate would fit in this “reconciliation” series.

  76. “Sounds like Gavin is becoming interested in robust decision strategies.” – JC

    Seeing that Gavin has been saying this for some time, long before Climate Etc existed, I’d say that it’s good that Judith is finally ‘becoming’ more in tune with Gavin’s approach.

    But you’d better pick up the pace Judith, you’re still a long way behind!

  77. Judith

    Theory

    …emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxide These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface.

    Observation
    http://bit.ly/ggntoQ

    Current observation: A global sea surface warming of 0.39 deg C in the 30 years period from 1970 to 2000.

    Past observation: A global sea surface warming of 0.47 deg C in the 30 years period from 1910 to 1940.

    Interpretation:

    There is no additional warming at the Earth’s sea surface with increase in human emission of CO2 for 60 years.

    Conclusion

    Though CO2 is a greenhouse gas, observation shows no “additional warming of the Earth’s surface” with its increase.

    Man made global warming is not supported by the data.

    Question

    Judith, isn’t it true that if current observation is similar to a past one, we don’t need a new theory to explain the current observation?

  78. aa gets kudos for a comment elsewhere.
    ===============

  79. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, you recommend the Uncertainty and Climate Change Adaptation – a Scoping Study by Suraje Dessai and Jeroen van der Sluijs.

    First, let me say that adaptation, changing and learning to minimize the centuries-old dangers from the climate’s nasty habits of all kinds, is the path that I have recommended. It is the “no-regrets” path. If African farmers can learn drought-resistant farming techniques, it will be of benefit whether or not the climate changes. However, D&VS does not help the case. It starts off by opening the introduction as follows:

    Climate change is one of the most pressing global problems of our time.

    AAARGHHH. Sometimes I feel like I’ve fallen through the looking glass, to a place where people read things without thinking about them. Judith, if you want people to pay attention to your claims about uncertainty, you’ll have to find something else.

    Because what they have put forth as a statement is in fact the question, namely, are we facing a future huge problem from a possible mild warming?

    We don’t know if climate change is a “pressing problem” or not, that’s the whole point of the ongoing debate. You can’t start the uncertainty discussion by assuming that it is a pressing problem, that’s a sick joke. We haven’t seen anyone falsify the null hypothesis. We have no evidence that a slight warming will cause huge problems, and in fact, the slight warming over the last three centuries seems to have been generally beneficial.

    So I call blueshift on their opening premise. They have assumed what is at issue, that climate change is one of the “pressing problems of our time”. That’s the QUESTION, you can’t start by simply stating that as though it were not only a fact, but a fact without any uncertainty.

    Climate change may possibly turn out to be one of the most pressing global problems of our time, although I doubt it. It also may turn out (as it has for the last three centuries) that a slight warming is absolutely no problem at all. It may turn out that CO2 is not the master control knob on the thermostat. And it may turn out that the earth cools for the next couple of decades. Truth is … nobody knows.

    Now anyone who wants to talk honestly about uncertainty and climate change would have to start by giving us some kind of glimpse into those underlying uncertainties,.

    But they don’t. They start by assuming, with certainty, that the issue is settled. Not certainty that climate change may be a problem. It is a problem in their book, with no uncertainty of any kind, and beyond that, it may be one of the “most pressing” problems of the century.

    You sure these guys know what uncertainty is?

    They go on to quote the Stern Report as gospel. I find little in D&VS about uncertainty in the IPCC report or the Stern Report. Both are basically accepted as being unbiased estimates of what the best science says.

    How can you expect us to take instruction in the management of uncertainty from someone who thinks that the Stern Report is credible and certain, and that the IPCC is an unbiased estimator of the science? Seriously? How can they claim to discuss the uncertainty without discussing that? Talk about ignoring the elephant in the room … D&VS seem to think that if you take a bad guess and put some imaginary “error bars” on it as the IPCC has done, that somehow the bad guess has become valid science.

    Next, they advocate a very, very broad interpretation of the “precautionary principle” (PP). According to D & VS, the PP applies whenever we have … well … near as I can tell they think it applies whenever we have life going on with all of its normal uncertainties. I have serious reservations about this method. If humans had applied the PP as D&VS seem to want, humans would never have left Africa for fear of disturbing the environment.

    Next, the case study for D&VS is sea level rise. But none of what D&VS are doing in the case study has anything to do with reality. In reality, there has been NO ACCELERATION of the rate of sea level rise. None. There is absolutely no evidence that sea level is changing at anything different from the historical rate.

    Despite that, however, D&VS go on and on about how to deal with some hypothetical threat which does not have a shred of supporting real-world evidence. Do you expect this to impress us?

    Now Judith, you seem to think that these guys are deep thinkers about uncertainty. So why have they:

    1. Taken the IPCC claims at face value, and

    2. Taken the Stern Report claims at face value, and

    3. Wasted our valuable time discussing a hypothetical threat without a shred of evidence to support it, that of some feared increase in the rate of sea level rise. How does analyzing a non-existent problem help us understand uncertainty, other than to point out the unsubstantiated nature of their alarmism?

    I call that straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. As you have pointed out, Judith, until we deal with the huge uncertainties in the IPCC report, how useful is further subsidiary analysis? In their case, they analyze the regional GCM forecasts, which even the IPCC itself says are useless, for their uncertainty. Sorry, Judith, but that’s not science. They might as well analyze my dreams for uncertainty, they’re no more uncertain than regional forecasts. The real uncertainty for the GCM regional forecasts is from the floor to the ceiling, but these folks want to discuss it as if it were a) real, b) measurable, and c) meaningful.

    I say the same thing w.r.t. the Stern Report. That Report is a joke. Their idea of discount rates is laughable (Set them to zero? Get real.) Every serious economist who has read it has snorted coffee up his or her nose. Stern didn’t even have the stones to come down on the right side of the PPP/MER discussion, and that’s Econ 101 college stuff. But for D&VS, despite their vaunted focus on uncertainty, Stern and his fantasies are somehow a certain point in a world of uncertainty. And you truly think we should take D&VS seriously?

    My analysis? These guys have a reasonable (although complex, cumbersome, and likely unworkable) method, which is to cross-tabulate uncertainty assessment methods versus frameworks for decision making and judge suitability of the matches. And their is value in any further understanding of uncertainty and how to deal with it. I find their analysis of the underlying issues interesting.

    But D&VS suffer from the same flaw as Ravetz. They don’t understand the problem to which they are applying the method. They’re not used to the evanescent nature of climate research, where there is lots of myth masquerading as science. D&VS are the kind of suckers that the casino owners love to see come in, the kind that blithely apply Monte Carlo methods without noticing that in the Climate Casino, all the wheels are weighted and all the games are rigged …

    As an approach to uncertainty, “Lets assume the IPCC and the Stern Reports are certain, and calculate the uncertainties from there” strikes me as an unproductive path. Well, there is one exception. If the alternative is Ravetz, sure, anything is better than Ravetz, even no plan at all … but not if the alternative is anything real.

    Perhaps I don’t understand the true beauty of the D&VS system. But given the evidence of D&VS ignoring the huge uncertainties in Stern and the IPCC and their foolish assumption that the existence of the problem is established, I have to say that their you-beaut system hasn’t worked well for them at all …

    w.

    • Willis, your dismissal of “climate change is a pressing problem” makes no sense to me. If the issue of what to do or not to do about about carbon emissions, and how we should/can reduce societal vulnerability to weather disasters isn’t a pressing problem, what the heck are all of us doing spending time on climate blogs, not to mention the time that policy makers, citizens, businesses, etc. spend debating the issue?

      Your leap to connect the statement “climate change is a pressing problem” to these guys must therefore be trying to justify some sort of cap and trade type policy is COMPLETELY mistaken in this particular instance. They present a comprehensive method for analyzing uncertainty (which is arguably unworkable for the scope of the IPCC, but nevertheless has some good ideas).

      Blaming D&VDS for your frustration with climate science, the IPCC, and the Stern Report is illogical.

      • Bit of a confusion here folks. Willis is interpreting the statement that climate change is a pressing problem to imply an endorsement of dangerous AGW, meaning in other words that physical AGW is a pressing problem. Dr. Curry, by including the phrase “or not to do about our carbon emissions,” seems to be referring rather to resolving the political question (of how seriously to take the claimed threat of dangerous AGW) as a pressing problem. As a skeptic I agree that the political issue is a pressing problem, precisely because I believe that physical AGW is not a pressing problem. I am trying to stop the political system from doing something stupid in the name of physical AGW.

        The AGW claim is the threat, not climate change, as far as skeptics are concerned. In that context D&VS do seem to be taking AGW climate change as the threat, not the political problem, in which case Willis may well be correct. I have not read the D&VS stuff, but they sound like they are looking at policy uncertainty given AGW. That is not the uncertainty that skeptics are talking about.

      • No, D&VS are talking about decision making strategies in the face of deep uncertainty about climate change and its causes. Scientific problems are rarely prima facie “pressing” (they may be puzzling or challenging), rather it is their social context that might make a scientific problem pressing.

      • Like David I’d not read the paper but as I read Willis and Judith, I’d already decided the difference between them depended if ‘pressing problem’ meant:
        1. man-made warming
        2. man-made warming and/or the policies intended (or said) to reduce to risks thereof.

        I also felt Willis should have tumbled to this possibility before starting. He’s smart enough. Perhaps Judith is reading D&VS with a rather generous spirit. Whatever, on this occasion I felt Willis should go easy on the lady.

        I can’t prove the ‘should’ in the last sentence scientifically, by the way. In a sense, therefore, there’s no point arguing about it. I’m just saying: give her a break. I think she’s earned that.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Richard, you say correctly that there are two interpretations for “pressing problem”, viz:

        1. man-made warming
        2. man-made warming and/or the policies intended (or said) to reduce to risks thereof.

        You need to follow that correct insight to its logical end. To do this, note that to understand the uncertainties either of your options, you need to take into account the underlying uncertainty of the existence and size of man-made warming. It is the common factor in the two choices, so it affects both choices. So the existence of your two options doesn’t affect my objection at all.

        Which is why you can’t simply assume, as they do, that either of your options (1 or 2) is a “pressing problem”. The presumed existence of a “man made warming problem” is at the heart of both of your options, but that existence is the QUESTION. You can’t just assume that it is true and go from there.

        w.

        PS — Reading the D&VS entire paper, it is clear that they assume that AGW is a problem, and that their uncertainty is in how to respond to this assumed problem. As I have pointed out several times, the elephant in the room is that they assign zero uncertainty to the assumption that AGW is a problem.

        For someone who wants to lecture me on how to deal with uncertainty, this seems like a significant omission on their part … particularly since I haven’t found anyone who can point out any kind of catastrophic or large problems arising from the past three centuries of warming, or from the past fifty years of warming.

        Since we have no history of significant problems arising from historical warming, surely there should be some uncertainty attached to their claim that AGW is automatically assumed to be some kind of huge problem … but no, they set that uncertainty to zero.

        w.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Perhaps I’m missing something, Judith. I said nothing about cap and trade. Not one word. So I’m not at all clear what you mean by your second paragraph.

        Regarding the first paragraph, wherein you say:

        If the issue of what to do or not to do about about carbon emissions, and how we should/can reduce societal vulnerability to weather disasters isn’t a pressing problem, what the heck are all of us doing spending time on climate blogs, not to mention the time that policy makers, citizens, businesses, etc. spend debating the issue?

        What are we doing spending time on blogs and such regarding climate science? We are debating whether there is a problem or not. We are debating and discussing whether increasing GHGs are going to cause a large problem, a small problem, no problem at all, a slight benefit, or a large benefit.

        Yes, we are debating whether there is a problem. No, the fact that we are debating and spending time on climate blogs debating whether there is a problem doesn’t mean there is a problem.

        You say below:

        D&VS are talking about decision making strategies in the face of deep uncertainty about climate change and its causes.

        Not if they start by assuming that climate change is a problem, they’re not. That’s where the “deep uncertainty” lies, whether the problem even exists. And since no one to date has falsified the null hypothesis, I’m afraid that neither your nor D&VS understand the true uncertainty here. It’s not uncertainty about what to do if we assume the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis is true.

        The uncertainty is regarding whether the hypothesis is true at all, whether there is any problem at all, and indeed, whether a slight warming may not indeed be a benefit.

        Please do not conflate this, however, with “how we should/can reduce societal vulnerability to weather disasters”. Since we have no evidence that the warming of the last three centuries or the last fifty years have increased “weather disasters”, let’s start with the 100% uncertainty in the idea that AGW will lead to increasing disasters.

        Yes, we need to deal with weather extremes and what they do to humans. No, we don’t need Ravetz or D&VS to tell us how to do this, we’ve been doing it for centuries and getting better and better at it all the time.

        But that’s not what D&VS are talking about. They are talking about the bogeyman of AGW, and about how some fantasized increase in sea level rise, which is contradicted by the data, should be dealt with.

        w.

  80. So where did “the science is settled” come from? Manacker provides some history. It seems that journos and politicians are the main ones using this phrase. But many scientists have used words that sound similar. There is at least one instance of a leading IPCC scientist using these words, that I am aware of.

    As I was refactoring my personal blog today I stumbled across Simon Carr’s article in The Independent ten days after Climategate, entitled So, scientists are just as political as the rest, and reread this powerful paragraph:

    And they’re important, these East Anglians. They are in charge of data-sets that underlie the “settled science” of the multi-trillion dollar global warming movement.

    “Settled science” is no doubt in quotes because Carr – a parliamentary sketch writer, not a scientist – knew this was the standard phrase, as we all did by November 2009. And as I pondered the Berkeley Earth Study this seemed a rather neat fit for our concerns this weekend, coming from a major, left-leaning London broadsheet at that historic moment.

    How many scientists went on record publicly to disavow the settled science meme before those days? None that weren’t immediately labelled deniers, as I recall. That’s why the concern about Pearce’s ‘misrepresentation’ is as significant as Dr Curry says.

  81. Willis Eschenbach

    What’s the difference between “the science is settled”, and “there is a scientific consensus that AGW is real”? I know the former is uncommon and Gavin doesn’t say that, but the latter is quite common.

    I see no practical difference between the two, however. I do note that Gavin said:

    If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes. If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no — at least not yet.

    “Proved” it? Gavin tells the media he thinks he may be able to “prove” that the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, he just can’t do it yet? This is what passes for science at realclimate, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but these guys always manage to surprise me nonetheless.

    Why does anyone worry about whether Gavin thinks the science is settled or not? You might as well worry about whether he can prove the Russian heat wave had to do with climate change … whatever that means …

    w.

  82. Judith

    While I have a lot of respect for your opinion on many issues related to the ongoing “climate change debate”, I have to agree with Willis on this one.

    Before getting into the question of assessing the magnitude of and defining “what to do” about the “AGW problem” (with a lot of more or less convoluted philosophical approaches), we have to establish that there really is an “AGW problem”.

    And IMHO we are not there yet, despite IPCC and Stern.

    Max

  83. Just to expand on the question of whether or not AGW represents a potential problem:

    Is AGW a “problem” or an “opportunity”?

    We do not even know the answer to that question.

    Max