Climate story telling angst

by Judith Curry

There has been much discussion in the climate blogosphere this past week on scientific story telling and communicating with the public.

Randy Olson

Randy Olson has been trying for years to get scientists to understand the value of storytelling in sharing research, see especially his blog The Benshi. In an article in the Solutions Journal, Olson writes:

Right now, the field of climate science is struggling to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized. Climate models indicate a dire future, but because the predictions are not 100 percent certain, opponents have an easy time attacking and undermining their credibility. And yet, if climate scientists were to use their past accomplishments to bolster their current claims, there would be less controversy, as it’s more difficult to undermine the credibility of established achievements.

Let’s take a look at one of the greatest climate science accomplishments of the past two decades—understanding the El Niño phenomenon. In 1998, in a questionnaire given to students on the first day of my introductory marine biology course at the University of Southern California, I asked, “What is El Niño?” Out of roughly fifty students, not a single student could answer the question.

Today, I guarantee that just about every student would immediately answer that the phenomenon refers to a year in which the weather gets wacky with massive rainfalls, mud slides, and wildfires. A significant number would be able to add further details about the ocean being exceptionally warm and fishermen catching strange fish from the south, and a few would even be able to tell you it’s caused by ocean currents slowing down. More important are the benefits of this broad knowledge to the state of California—every industry, from fishing to farming to transport, benefits from our understanding of “an El Niño year” and, especially, from the ability to predict its approach nearly a year in advance.

All of that is the result of climate science. Now imagine if a positive public relations campaign were launched, pointing this out to the general public. Think of General Electric’s old ad campaign: “GE: We bring good things to life.” Imagine something similar: “Climate science: We help make sense of your world.”

The elements for building public trust are there. The only thing lacking is the large-scale instincts to take advantage of them—to use past accomplishments to build trust rather than pointing to future threats in a gambit of hope and fear.

In a world of antiscience movements, winning the public’s support for science is more difficult than ever. It is essential that scientists recognize two things: (1) There is no more powerful form of mass communication than the telling of good stories, and (2) support for science will come not from the promise of future solutions but from telling stories about solutions achieved in the past.

In a comment at Collide-a-Scape, Olson further elaborates:

And by the way, all of my essays, comments and my book are directed at trying to reach the general public, not the hard core aficionado crowd you get on serious climate blogs — it’s two different modes of communication.

The science world has never had a need to engage in large scale public relations, but that’s because the world has never been like it is today.  This is not your father’s science world.  This is not just the world of Twitter, it is also the world of magazine articles written last fall by journalists (Andrew David H. Freedman in the Atlantic, Jonah Lehrer in the New Yorker, you can Google them both) who have nothing against the science world, but are pointing out there are major psychological flaws in the brains of all humans, including scientists, that lead to high levels of false positives and other significant sources of noise.

All of which means the time has come to take a deeper interest in understanding these basic dynamics of storytelling that we are all burdened with.  And that is the key point of my essay on uncertainty [discussed on the neverending climategate thread].  Your audience is defective to begin with — we are ALL defective.  That’s what the two articles point out.  People don’t respond to “just the facts” in the way you wish they did.  But there are ways to deal with this that do not involve dishonesty or distortion.  One of which is making certain the public is aware of how much certainty you have provided them in the past.

Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor picks up on Olson’s comments  at Collide-a-Scape with a post entitled: “Why Scientists Can’t Tell Their Stories.” Kloor amusingly states: “One of his movies is called Flock of Dodos, which might best characterize his view of  the science community–with respect to their overall communication skills.” The comments on this thread are well worth reading, here are some excerpts:

Jay Currie states:

Absolutely right. But the key thing about understanding the oscillations and cycles in climate is that the data and methods were disclosed and intelligible. Moreover, climate scientists were modest in their claims to know what “caused” El Nino events and modest as to their claims as to being able to predict the magnitude of any given event. This transparency and modesty has meant that the climate science surrounding El Nino is trusted in ways which the CO2 conjectures are not. And, of course, when Climategate confirmed many of the suspicions surrounding some very prominent climate scientists and institutions that trust was eroded even further.

Stu says:

Climate scientists are always telling simple stories, mostly about their adversaries unfortunately… Whether it’s Kevin Trenberth, lumping all critics in with the ‘deniers’ or Michael Mann or Kerry Emanuel railing against ‘industry funded disinformation websites’ and the like. I guess that kind of thing works on some people, otherwise they probably wouldn’t do it. I guess I will invoke Henry Louis Mencken but appropriate slightly… “For every complex problem there is a story which is simple, neat and wrong”.  Modern society, 21st C society- I don’t think is going to accept simple stories as the basis for its understandings. Simple stories are things offered by religions and ideologues, with the purpose of collapsing the complexity of reality down to very simple ideas which are then used in order to manipulate people. Modern minds are rightful to be suspicious of such stories. We’ve had a lot of experience with these things.

Michael Larkin makes a statement that I suspect that many Denizens will resonate with:

Good grief. “Stories”.

Stories can be straightforward and accurate reportage, biased innuendo, outright lies, or anything in between.

They can be allegory or myth – fabrications in a literal sense, but underlying that, indicative of great truths (or, perhaps, lies).

What is the truth about AGW? I’ve looked as long and hard as I can and don’t know. I strongly suspect no one does. Those who feel certitude on either side spout volubly from soapboxes and spare themselves no efforts in sniping.

Whatever, I’m not interested in, nor can I be swayed by, stories that appear to me to be anything else other than accurate reportage. Sometimes I have to reconstruct what seems likely to be accurate through reading a number of accounts, often conflicting, of the same topic. This is often not possible, however, so that I have to shrug my shoulders and place the issue in the voluminous folder labelled “moot”.

This explicit talk of stories (or, sometimes, “narratives”) by those on the consensus side in and of itself causes me to lean towards scepticism, and sometimes, cynicism. Just the mention of them in relation to what is supposed to a scientific issue makes me wonder what the heck kind of animal we are dealing with.

Of course, we’ve always to some extent woven narratives about current scientific understandings, and often enough those have turned out to be incorrect or just naïve and simplistic. But where else than in reference to AGW is there open and explicit airing of such notions? In the context of how to get the public to accept a proposition?

“The public”. Ah yes, a collective noun, as if the public were a monolithic beast with one or at most a few varieties of thought modes. But actually, each person is his or her own universe, with many and complex reasons for holding the views they do, and for evaluating incoming information, be that in the form of stories or anything else. And quite a lot of them, I suspect, feel patronised when the righteous convinced attempt to vomit forth little stories, in the hope they will be accepted, and in frustration at the thought the audience may be too stupid or perverse or selfish to swallow them whole.

Well, maybe it’s the fact that “stories” are on the table at all that scuppers the whole enterprise. Maybe the so-called consensualists have created the opposition they deserve by the very ways they have chosen to act – being too often dismissive, insulting, patronising, closed-minded. That awakens the same characteristics in many of their intended audience, who have become every bit as obstinate as they are. There is no way to win these kinds of vitriolic argument. The idea of “winning” is part of the problem, and completely counterproductive.

Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney has a post on DeSmog entitled “Global Warming and Snowstorms: Communication Nightmare or Opportunity?”  He laments the challenges of getting the public to understand the counterintuitive idea of global warming producing more snowstorms.  IMO, there are good reasons for this counterintuition (e.g. see this previous thread plus summary from NOAA), but Mooney finds that “On a physical level, the case is sublimely simple.”  Mooney concludes:

I feel torn about this. On the one hand, winter snowstorms have drawn massive attention and have affected incredibly large numbers of people. They speak to everyone’s experience. Tying global warming to that would be incredibly powerful.

But at the same time, the hurdles presented are incredibly vast, and I’m not sure good scientific explanations, alone, can overcome them.

That doesn’t mean the UCS and Jeff Masters should leave this topic alone. Many people are open minded and want to know what’s going on with the climate system; and for the rest of the public, over time we may push them closer to a point where these ideas will go down more easily.

And that’s the ultimate takeaway: We need to move the public to a place where drawing a warming-snowstorm connection isn’t so challenging. I don’t think drawing the connection itself will get us there. Rather, I think other efforts, over time, will make people more willing to draw the connection.

Bill Hooke

Bill Hooke at Living on the Real World has two provocative posts entitled “Lets Change the Topic of Conversation!” and “Sparkling Conversation!”  Some excerpts:

But when it comes to talking about the Earth, the real world – the world as resource, victim, and threat – scientists and politicians often find that their conversation, which otherwise had been going well, founders.

But when it comes to the real world – biodiversity and the preservation of endangered species, air- and water-quality, natural hazards, climate change — scientists and politicians often clash. They disagree, and they get defensive. And they can’t seem to let go. Instead, both sides keep trying to justify themselves. It’s a snag and a snare – keeping them from getting on with the work at hand.

What to do?

  • Switch the conversation when you notice that it is getting old, boring, or difficult to talk about.
  • Look to segue into a better topic.

Specifically with regards to climate change:

In particular, we might contemplate putting aside the oft-repeated rehash of the basic science behind the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations, the concomitant global warming, and its human attribution. Even though these points are fundamental and even though our audience is not yet entirely on board, we need to move on.

Why? Because our audience, though not quite so informed and up to speed as we might like, is showing definite signs of tiring of this subject, when framed in this way. Surely we have many things we could talk about that would be far more interesting, to nearly everyone – politicians, business leaders, educators, journalists, children, even our life partners.

Prerequisite: engaging with level 2’s and level 3’s

The statement by Randy Olson: “And by the way, all of my essays, comments and my book are directed at trying to reach the general public, not the hard core aficionado crowd you get on serious climate blogs — it’s two different modes of communication.” when combined with Michael Larkin’s statement (coming from a hard core afficionado) brings to the fore the issue of epistemic levels that I raised on the Agreeing thread, where I proposed the following levels:

  1. Research scientist publishing papers on relevant topics
  2. Individual with a graduate degree in a technical subject that has investigated the relevant topics in detail.
  3. Individual spending a substantial amount of time reading popular books on the subject and hanging out in the climate blogosphere
  4. Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio

What Olson, Mooney and Hooke are talking about is communicating with level 4’s.  It is my hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2’s and 3’s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4’s.  Climategate was mostly about a failure to engage constructively and effectively with level 2’s and 3’s, and also skeptical level 1’s.

What are the ingredients for effective communication with level 2’s and 3’s?  Here is my take, I look forward to your other suggestions:

  • public availability of data, codes, and models
  • transparency in assessment methods, particularly expert judgment of uncertainty and confidence levels
  • blogospheric engagement with level 1’s (quick note: check out the latest level 1 entry into the climate blogosphere:  Isaac Held of NOAA GFDL).
  • others?

So why does this matter?  The level 2’s and 3’s probably number on the order 100,000 worldwide ( I would be interested in a better estimate of this number).  A small percent of the global population, but nevertheless a very important group in the context of the public debate on climate change.  The failure of the climate establishment to engage effectively with this group and only focusing on the level 4’s has arguably brought us Climategate and the loss of trust.  Further, the level 2’s and 3’s can play a potentially important role in the auditing and evaluation of climate science and assessment reports, and in some instances can be motivated to make primary contributions to climate in the form of journal publications.

The “noise” generated by level 2’s and 3’s who are fighting to get access to key data sets, metadata, etc. and are unconvinced by the IPCC assessments is heard by the broader public. The broader public listen to the level 2’s and 3’s. Therefore, in terms of public relations, you can’t just focus on the level 4’s and bypass the level 2’s and 3’s.  Chris Mooney seems to want to convert level 4’s to level 3 (not going to happen on a wholesale basis).

Most importantly, if level 1 climate scientists can’t convince the level 2’s and 3’s, then aspects of their argument are likely to be flawed, and they should actually listen to the level 2’s and 3’s to try to understand why they aren’t convinced; they might actually learn something.  Yes, particularly at the level 3, there are people that are politically motivated on both sides.  But it has been a huge mistake to dismiss all level 3’s as politically motivated.  And it has been a fatal mistake to dismiss the level 2’s.

New story lines for the level 4’s

Focussing squarely on the level 4’s, I think Randy Olson and Bill Hooke make important points.  We need to change the storyline, or the conversation, or whatever you want to call it.  The “consensus” story in particular is way past its shelf date.

Randy Olson’s idea of “Climate science: We help make sense of your world” is a good one.  Focusing on subseasonal, seasonal, and interannual climate variability would be much more effective in engaging the public (not to mention provide a better foundation for building confidence in climate models and helping to develop adaptation measures that make use of such forecasts.)

BIll Hooke’s idea of switching the conversation is also a good one.  The climate change story (greenhouse gases etc.) is getting boring to the public and political noise surrounding the subject is getting in the way of dealing with serious environmental and economic issues.  Some possible new story lines:

  • water, food and energy for a growing global population:  combine energy economics and security, environmental quality, agriculture, climate change/variability in the context of a discussion of global sustainability.
  • reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones):  infrastructure, emergency management, better forecasts and warning systems (days, weeks, months).
  • others?

So does switching the conversation away from global warming mean that we should just give up on the idea of dealing with CO2 and energy policy?  Not at all, there are plenty of other reasons for addressing these issues  in the context of energy economics and security and environmental quality and public health.  By including climate change in the context of these broader issues, we might actually make some progress towards regional and global sustainability.

824 responses to “Climate story telling angst

  1. Here is my take, I look forward to your other suggestions:

    As a 3, I’d suggest – at least to those who are interested in building bridges – a balance in deconstructing how poor science is promulgated on both sides of the fence.

    When I read what seems to me as a non-expert, logical and well-constructed articles that analyze heavily promoted science of “deniers” and point out potential flaws, I am unable to intelligently assess those analyses scientifically. I’m left, simply, to formulating conclusions based on my political biases (yes, Virginia, we all have political biases) or on presumptions based on (1) perceptions about the value of traditionally earned qualifications or, (2) perceptions about the lack of validity in how traditionally earned qualifications are measured.

    The same holds true for what seem to be logical and well-constructed articles that analyze heavily promoted science of “warmists.”

    In the end, I need analysis, directed at non-experts, done by experts who clearly work as hard as they can to establish an objectivity that I can evaluate – an objectivity made clear by an even-handedness in their approach as opposed to an objectivity made clear by their technical analysis (which I am in no position to judge).

    What that all means, Judith, is that I’m still waiting for you to elaborate on the “dishonesty” on the “denialist” side, the obvious tribalism on the “delinalist” side, etc. I’ve seen your focus on the tribalism on the “warmist” side and see reason to give it merit. Please forgive me if I’m incorrect that you haven’t similarly deconstructed the potential of poor science on the “denialist side.” but without seeing such I find your description of tribalism to be problematically one-sided.

    • An interesting perspective.

      You’re 100% right- there is some shockingly bad science on the ‘skeptic’ side (and too of the warmist) and it can often be tricky to get to the truth of the matter. I’d class myself as a ‘2’ and i readily admit i have issues on some of the subjects.

      To answer for Dr Curry, i’d imagine that she focus’ more on the warmist side as that is the current side ‘in power’, i.e. the establishment side that is putting forward the theory- as such in scientific terms, it is ‘right’ to ‘attack’ that view (with science, not slurs and insults).

      As for the analysis aimed at ‘lower levels’, it’s tricky. The theories and thier associations are complex and often, the disagreement can resolve around the handling of a single data set- or the methodology used, rather than a specific issue with the theory (though obviously everything stems out from the data and methods).

      You have to play to your strengths- you’re never going to understand every aspect of the issue, so confine yourself yo what you know and what you’re good at. I’m a methodology and data man; I can spot bad methodology from a orbit and can sniff bad data out with relative ease (both essential in my job)- so that’s where i tend to concentrate- but i’m also spending a lot of time in the literature too. Perhaps pick an aspect that interests you and read up on that specifrically?

      • i’d imagine that she focus’ more on the warmist side as that is the current side ‘in power’, i.e. the establishment side that is putting forward the theory- as such in scientific terms, it is ‘right’ to ‘attack’ that view (with science, not slurs and insults).

        In fact, Judith did more or less respond in that fashion when I raised a similar point earlier. But I don’t find that to be a satisfactory answer for two reasons:

        (1) Although Dr. Curry carries weight in the debate, her input is unlikely to appreciably affect any larger imbalance, to the extent that it exists. Given the magnitude of the debate, and the huge entities which aggregate larger numbers of individual players, any one individual scientist, no matter how credible or qualified, is going to effectively address any perceived imbalance, no matter whether she does so without resorting to slurs and insults.

        (2) A lack of balance in Dr. Curry’s approach to the nature of “tribalism” – a concept closely tied to how she conveys much of what she has to say about the science – affects my ability as (as a “3” without scientific expertise) to assess her work. The existence (or lack thereof) of some imbalance external to her work does not really give me any window into understanding her input on its own merits. As I see it, it suggests that she may be an “activist” herself. Since I can’t evaluate the scientific merits of her work, I’m left to trying to evaluate her approach as an indirect means of evaluating her science. As a “3,” this is also true for me with respect to other actors in the debate. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before on this blog. A thesis must be arguable. In order to prove a thesis (in this case the role of tribalism in influencing the science of “warmists”), you need to make clear that you understand counter-arguments, and make that clear objectively presented analysis disproves counter-arguments. My understanding of Judith’s thesis is that she’s saying tribalistic behavior of “warmists” is derived from bad faith, a need to protect self-interests, a need to defend bad science. Assuming that the tribalism does exist in the first place (an assertion I find plausible), then an obvious counter-argument would be that that tribalism is motivated by tribalistic behavior on the part of “denialists.” Where is the evidence that disproves that counter-argument?

        When an obvious counter-argument is not disproven, it suggests either a weakly argued thesis or a biased perspective.

      • Joshua, a quick reply. The “warm side” has a clearly identifiable institutionalized “tribe”, e.g. the IPCC. On the skeptics side, they are all over the map and most subgroups don’t want anything to do with some of the others. One of the skeptics tribes can be described as the “sky dragons”, those that don’t think the greenhouse gas exists; I’ve taken on this group via several extensive threads. Another group is the technical skeptical blogosphere “auditors”, typified by Steve McIntyre and Jeff Id (whose words are sometimes intemperate but their analyses and arguments are scrupulously transparent); i don’t have any fundamental criticisms of this group (they respond personally to critiques and adjust their arguments.) Then you have the libertarian scientists (and level 3 types), such as at CATO and CEI. There are other groups that could be identified. But using these three groups, you have three different groups who don’t have anything to do with each other: the auditors don’t have anything to do with the sky dragons and dismiss them just as the IPCC group does (with some minor sympathy for the libertarians at least by Jeff Id). And then there is a whole host of level 2 type skeptics (from Freeman Dyson on down) that don’t affiliate themselves with any group at all and each of whom has their own particular issue of concern, other than occasionally to sign some sort of petition. So the two sides are not in any way analogous in this regard, IMO.

      • …..more of Holly’s reliable citations.

      • Holly Stick

        Facts are so inconvenient, aren’t they.

      • that’s pretty poor work even by your standards Holly…. do you get paid for holding the collection tins for RealClimate?

      • You perhaps do not even show upon JC epistemic scale, yet deem yourself worthy of countering JC. Tell you what, find the technical problems you have with Steve McI (no help from your mom or dad) and cite it, if not then Holly just Stick it.

      • Steven Mosher

        Funny, According to DC, Dave clark, Tom Fuller and I somehow make a claim about Mann and the TAR.
        Hmm, dont think so.

        As far as I know I made two errors in the book.
        1 pointed out by Gavin, which I acknowledged and accepted as being an error, giving gavin his credit.
        1 pointed out by arthur smith which I acknowledged and accepted , giving gavin his credit.

        If dave clarke (deep climate) thinks that Tom or I made a mistake about Mann and the TAR, I would gladly review his complaint, acknowledge the mistake if I made it and give him credit. He can even Post his charges against me at WUWT.

      • Holly,
        “scrupulously transparent” means they post their data, methods and code so others can run the analysis and see if they are telling the truth or not. This is the same standard the journals have but do not enforce for climate scientists. This is one of the issues Steve McIntyre has been most vocal about. To fail to archive your data, methods and code so others can check your work is pseudoscience.

      • Judith,

        I’m afraid that for me you haven’t done a sufficient presentation of counter-arguments.

        First, I think there is much more crossover than you suggest between “denialists” who present obviously flawed science and the “auditors.” For example, it is easy to identify clearly (scientifically, logically, rhetorically) flawed posts at WUWT, and a quick Google search returns McIntyre guest-posting at WUWT. I wouldn’t doubt that more extensive research would return many other links between those two and others who fall into their “camps,” respectively.

        As another example, the other day I provided you with a link to entirely plausible and logical arguments presented by Santer about how “denialist” tribalism motivated the behaviors you’ve qualified as tribalism in folks like Santer (e.g., charges that he, as a Jew who’s grandparents died in concentration camps, was performing “scientific cleansing”). You dismissed his arguments, first saying that Santer should just “get over it” (paraphrasing) and then saying that you weren’t entirely familiar with the arguments he made (again, paraphrasing). In order to buy your arguments about the roots of tribalism, I’d need you to lay out an argument that specifically identifies the flaws in Santer’s argument.

        In order to really argue your thesis thoroughly, IMO you need to present counter-arguments validly – in other words as the “naysayers” would present them – and then disprove their arguments with logic and data. I don’t see where you’ve done that.

        You seem to be basing your conclusions at least to some degree on the tone of your personal, anecdotal interactions with the different groups. No doubt, that is a valuable criterion – but others describe personal, anecdotal interactions that were quite different than yours.

        If you’re going to say that there isn’t significant linkage between libertarian ideology and the science of “denialists,” it isn’t enough for you to simply state that no such linkage exists. At your very blog, I read extensive and seemingly well-reasoned technical posts about the science of climate change and then click on the hyperlinks to related blogs of those posting and find a very high percentage of cross-over to ardent libertarians. It stretches credulity to think that that crossover is purely coincidental. A resentment about scientific “elitism” runs throughout much of the denialist blogosphere, and I’m sorry, while such sentiments have some validity IMO, as someone who has been inside academe and witnessed the elitism, and in fact spent much of my life as an educator striving to overcome how that elitism protects the solidification of social classes, it simply doesn’t hold pass the sniff test when someone tries to tell me that there isn’t a right/left political motivation to many of the argument used to substantiate those charges of “scientific elitism.”

        Granted, I can’t expect you to prove that there is absolutely no linkage between libertarian or other rightwing ideology and the science of “denialism;” that would be like asking you to prove a negative. But it does seem to me that to make a claim that there is no significant linkage requires a logical argument as to why/how the abundant evidence supporting a linkage is flawed.

        I’m not asking for analysis of the arguments of someone like Dyson, or even Lindzen. By using what information is easily available, I find their arguments credible just as I would someone like Kerry Emanuel, who in this MIT debate about “Climategate” with Lindzen and others identifies himself as a “small-government conservative” who thinks that GW is A

        http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/730/

        Folks like Dyson and Linzen and Manuel are more clearly located in the larger political context of the debate in such a way that I, as a non-expert #3, can see some space between their politics, their advocacy, and their science.

      • I have probably written a dozen posts on this general topic, which are easily found if you go back into the Climate Etc. archives.

      • Judith,

        You previous posts, as I’ve read them, focus on dismissing potential links between rightwing and/or libertarianism and funding for research. I don’t really agree with your conclusions, but that’s mostly irrelevant to my point as I’m talking about the connections between rightwing and libertarian ideology and funding in a more general sense and the degree to which they are connected to “denialist tribalism” and by extension, whether “denialist tribalism” plays a role in motivating “warmist tribalism” .

        Your contention is that “warmist tribalism” is wholly motivated by bad faith, bad science, “dishonesty,” and/or misperceptions about the influence of rightwing and libertarian ideology, yet as far as I can see, you have not done a good faith analysis of that question. How do you explain someone like McIntryre guest-posting at WUWT? How to you refute Santer’s arguments? You dismiss the contention of “warmists” about the motivations for their behaviors without presenting an accurate account of their arguments, let alone without refuting the details of their accounts. How do you explain the obvious overlaps between anti-AGW “denialism,” anti-AGW “skepticism,” and rightwing and libertarian rhetoric – when it exists in abundance at this very blog? That you casually dismiss any such connections to what you’ve described as “tribal” reactions on the part of “warmists” seems to be insufficiently comprehensive, IMO.

      • Joshua you haven’t been reading me very carefully. I have never contended that “warmist tribalism” is wholly motivated by bad faith, bad science, “dishonesty,” and/or misperceptions about the influence of rightwing and libertarian ideology.” Rather I have contended that there is a positive feedback loop spawned by the IPCC that reinforces the “warmist tribalism.”

        What does McIntyre posting at WUWT have to do with anything? I think he mainly posted there when climateaudit servers crashed because of high traffic during climategate, which WUWT was able to handle. Santer’s arguments have been refuted in other places. I don’t completely dismiss the connections that you describe. However, when someone rants on about them, I ask them to consider the connections on the other side, with the enviro advocacy groups. At the end of the day, I view all this to be a red herring in the scientific debate and in the serious blogospheric debate on the subject of climate change.

      • Come on, Joshua, I am sure that you are more of a realist than your comment suggests. In the political arena it is obvious that both sides’ tribalism feeds from the other. Judith has already pretty much answered your question. What do you want her to do? Wear sack cloth and ashes?

      • Sustainability is another word for economic central planning. Central planning is a proven failure for reasons well-described in “The Road to Serfdom”.

        The quickest way to efficiently adapt to changes in supply is through free market mechanisms.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Really? Someone here still has the oompaloompahs to quote Hayek? The Hayek who insisted that externalities be paid for? Climate Denialism exists to make sure that the externalities of carbon won’t be paid for.

        Ah, yes. Karl Rove #3: Be worse than anyone can imagine.

      • So Judy, when you pull out your shovel and you dig to find the root of the tribalism, you find something that can easily be described as the IPCC spawning the phenomenon and everything else to be feedback loops feeding off the energy created at that one point? You identify only one origin at that root – the IPCC?

        You brought up McIntyre as an example of a “skeptic” who is “unconnected” with “denialism.” Yet, he posted at WUWT, a site that has, along with what seems to a #3 as sound science, a clear political focus and which contains much that can fairly be categorized as “denialism.” And now after bringing him up you’re saying that his posting at WUWT isn’t relevant? Does it prove that his analysis is flawed? Certainly not. But certainly it proves that your categorical statements about a lack of connections doesn’t explain all the relevant information available.

        You obliquely say that Santer’s arguments have been refuted in other places, but you failed to comment on the Guardian article that explicates both sides of the debate. There is much information in the Guardian article which justifies an expanded picture of what “spawns” the tribalism, and without refutation of that information, your thesis remains incomplete. Santer makes charges that seem entirely plausible about why what McIntyre and others did motivated what you have described as tribalistic behavior from Santers and other climate scientists. How am I to trust your perspective when, basically, you’re saying that I need to trust your analysis based on faith? Where have you deconstructed what Santers said? I’m supposed to trust your arguments because Santer’s arguments have been “refuted in other places?” I’ve read those refutations and I’m unconvinced one way or the other. You are obviously trusting the refutations and not Santer’s arguments yet, (1) you didn’t objectively recount Santer’s arguments, (2) you said that you didn’t even read an extensive third-party report on the disagreements.

        Yes, I agree that the influence of environmental groups must be a part of the debate. Claims environmental groups make must be examined and verified or disproven: but your focus on the political elements of the debate seems to be one-sided. People who point to rightwing political influence are “ranting” but people who basically lay the phenomenon of “tribalism” at the feet of leftwing political influences are speaking truth to power? It is a “red herring” to talk about the potential influence of rightwing ideology on the roots of the tribalism, but yet you basically center your arguments about the roots of “warmist tribalism” in the advocacy of environmentalists and/or the political entities involved in the IPCC?

        I couldn’t quite tell if you were saying that I was ranting, although it seemed clear that you were saying that I’m throwing red herrings onto your blog. I’m optimistically going to allow for some room for believing that your characterization wasn’t mean as a categorical description of my posts: afterall, you have responded to a number of them and I would imagine that you’re too busy to waste time trying to catch flying fish. Baring a similar connotation to your responses to me in the future, I’ll continue to ask you these questions. But if that is how you feel, all you need to do is confirm. I’ll just go away. Posting on a blog is never the most productive use of my time, but it is even more useless if I’m exchanging opinions with someone who dismisses me out of hand.

      • Joshua, you do your argument no good by trying to harp about the links, if any, between the groups you have designated for “Unclimatic Activities”. Some of us in the 2/3 level find this substantially silly. You could easily knock down the auditors arguments without the “black helicopter” nonsense. JC has eminently done that without having to wear a tin foil.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua, Lemme explain posting at WUWT.

        I’m a believer in AGW.
        I have posting rights at WUWT
        If you have an article you would like to post, send it to me.
        If gavin wants to post there, he can
        If mann wants to post there, he can
        Walt Meier posts there, wadda make of that?

        Anthony and Steve are two completely different people with different audiences, different beliefs. They do share some common ideas. See if you can figure out what they are.

      • Steve Reynolds

        “I can’t expect you to prove that there is absolutely no linkage between libertarian or other rightwing ideology and the science of “denialism;” that would be like asking you to prove a negative.”

        We could replace rightwing with leftwing and denialism with warmism in your statement for an equally valid point. While political orientation should be expected to have a major impact on policy considerations, ideally it has no impact on the science.
        In reality, completely avoiding confirmation bias is impossible, but that is no reason not to expect everyone looking into the science to make their best attempt to be objective, and to be scrupulously transparent with all data and methods.

      • We could replace rightwing with leftwing and denialism with warmism in your statement for an equally valid point.

        I thought I made pretty clear that I think that is a plausible argument, and in fact that argument is made constantly in these threads and Judith falls in line. However, she exempts anti-AGW “denialism” from the same criticism. My questions ask her to address the apparent imbalance in how politics, bad faith, bad science, “dishonesty,” etc. affect her conclusions about “tribalism” on the different sides of the debate.

        I completely agree with your second paragraph – and that is why I’m asking Judith to do a better job of checking for her biases. I have never said that her science reflects bias – because I am not technically able to make that assessment. However, when she writes about “tribalism” being at the root of “warmism” she is simply skirting over obvious counter-arguments. When she adds justifications like that there are no connections between “skepticism” and “denialism” when clearly there are (e.g., the very person she uses to illustrate that division has guest posted at WUWT – a site which clearly aligns itself politically and has, on numerous occasions, posted scientifically bankrupt material) some problems with her argument persist.

        Judith has stepped away from the science and into the political dimensions of the debate – in order to build bridges. I applaud her for doing so, but in doing so she has to apply the same standards of falsifiability and replicability to the political elements of her thesis to the extent possible with non-empirical analyses.

      • Joshua,
        With respect, your posts have a hint of activism about themself. Dr Curry’s responded to your posts with what i think is a reasonable answer- yet you dismiss it out of hand and then go to lecture us on libertarinism and denialism.

        I’d take a step back and re-assess.

      • Yes, he’s getting rather boring too.

      • I don’t deny that there is a “hint” of activism in my posts. We’re all affected in this debate by our starting orientation, and so I think we need to acknowledge how our biases could potentially affect our conclusions and do our best to control for them. That’s what I’m asking Dr. Curry to do,

        I don’t dismiss Judith’s responses out of hand. I provide an explanation for why, IMO, her responses don’t solve problematic conclusions she has drawn about tribalism.

        I’m not “lecturing” anyone. You can choose to read my responses or not. You can also choose to actually rebut anything I’ve said, or alternately, write the kind of response you just wrote.

        And I can choose to draw conclusions about the choice that you make.

      • Well i wouldn’t know where to start.

        You make sweeping statments like:

        –“First, I think there is much more crossover than you suggest between “denialists” who present obviously flawed science and the “auditors.”

        –” I read extensive and seemingly well-reasoned technical posts about the science of climate change and then click on the hyperlinks to related blogs of those posting and find a very high percentage of cross-over to ardent libertarians”

        –“A resentment about scientific “elitism” runs throughout much of the denialist blogosphere,”

        –“doesn’t hold pass the sniff test when someone tries to tell me that there isn’t a right/left political motivation to many of the argument used to substantiate those charges of “scientific elitism”

        –“But it does seem to me that to make a claim that there is no significant linkage requires a logical argument as to why/how the abundant evidence supporting a linkage is flawed. ”

        All based on nothing but your own opinion (as you have provided nothing to back them up) and put forward as fact. There is actually very little i CAN actually respond to as your whole post effectively boils down to “i think this therefore you must respobnd to my questions”.

        Now i’m not trying to be combative or dismissive here- but you need to provide more substance.

      • –” I read extensive and seemingly well-reasoned technical posts about the science of climate change and then click on the hyperlinks to related blogs of those posting and find a very high percentage of cross-over to ardent libertarians”

        Try clicking on to the links at this blog to Richard Drake’s blog. Ms. Curry thought highly enough of Richard Drake to quote him in header of the “Hiding the Decline Part iii” post. For another examples, look at the “Harry Potter Theory…” thread, and read the comments relating arguments about global warming to von Mises and libertarian ideology on the categorical ill-advisability of government funding

        –”A resentment about scientific “elitism” runs throughout much of the denialist blogosphere,”
        –”doesn’t hold pass the sniff test when someone tries to tell me that there isn’t a right/left political motivation to many of the argument used to substantiate those charges of “scientific elitism”

        Here – have a look at this post by Willis Eschenbach – someone who posts comments here and guest-posts at WUWT – and the comments. Do you contend that resentment towards “scientific elitism” is not well-represented there?
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/28/its-not-about-me/#comments

        –”But it does seem to me that to make a claim that there is no significant linkage requires a logical argument as to why/how the abundant evidence supporting a linkage is flawed. ”

        One quick Google search returned that Steve McIntyre has guest-posted at WUWT. Watts has been a speaker at Heartland Institute events. Even if you doubt that there is a direct link between entities like the Cato and Heartland institutes and the ICE and funding for research, do you really doubt that the funding from such sources is significant in the debate? I imagine that you’ve already seen this, but The ICE famously contracted with a PR firm which:

        identified “older, less-educated males from larger households who are not typically active information-seekers” and “younger, lower-income women” as “good targets for radio advertisements” that would “directly attack the proponents of global warming . . . through comparison of global warming to historical or mythical instances of gloom and doom.”

        There are politically-based organizations and that have actually spent millions on promoting rhetoric on the debate about global warming. Do you think that attacks on climate scientists – paid for by rightwing political activists – don’t call into question the contention that rightwing political activism is irrelevant to the“tribalistic” behavior of climate scientists?

      • Wow. You really left your impartiality at the door huh.

        Re- funding: It’s irrelevant- only the point a person makes is relevant- your attempts to malign via association, a typical pro-cAGW political technique falls flat on it’s face when you examine the funding on the ‘other’ side of the fence.

        Re- libertarianism: i’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to do here. I imagine you’re using libertarianistic ideals which seem at odds with cAGW mitigation to suggest that all sceptics must be libertarian, and therefore their opinionis are somehow worth less.

        Occasional guest posts and speaking at conferences/institutes is hardly what i’d call concrete evidence. Guilt via association, no?

        Re-scientific elitism: You’re using one persons personal position to tar the entire ‘side’ with. Can you not see how weak your arguments are??

        Play the ball, not the man.

        It’s almost like you’ve made your mind up and now rather than address any points made by an individual you are trying to find away to dismiss the person behind the point based on some arbitrary scale you hold dear.

        Incidentally, if you class the consensus-climate-scientists as the ‘elite’ then you’re in deeper trouble than i thought.

      • Joshua:

        Try clicking on to the links at this blog to Richard Drake’s blog. Ms. Curry thought highly enough of Richard Drake to quote him in header of the “Hiding the Decline Part iii” post.

        I tried doing this and found nothing objectionable at all!

        But in any case, Joshua, this is scraping the barrel as far as trying to make some kind of dirt stick to Judith Curry. She only mentioned my name because she was quoting John Nielsen-Gammon and John had used a statement of mine to represent one possible point of view on Hiding the Decline. If this proves that Dr Curry thinks so highly of Richard Drake then where does it end? We all quote A quoting B, where B may be Hitler or someone really evil like Rush Limbaugh, all the time. It doesn’t imply we love Adolf or Rush. Get a grip, man.

      • Richard.

        I found nothing “objectionable” either. Sorry if what I said came across that way. You seem like a fine fellow to me.

        What I did find were politically oriented posts.

        I’m not trying to make “dirt” stick to Judy because she quoted you in her post – but to make the point that she thought highly enough of the opinion you presented to infer that it was representative of a not-so-infrequently held perspective on the debate. I am making no assumptions about whether agrees with your opinion.

        I’m suggesting that there are inconsistencies in her argument. I referred to you to show that there are connections between politics and “denialist science.” When Judy argues that they are unconnected, and then uses your opinion as a representative example of a “denialist” position, I find a flaw in her thesis.

        If her out is that there is a clear taxonimc distinction between a “skeptic” and “denialist,” then I am asking her to elaborate upon certain confounding information – for example, the “skeptic” she used as an example posting at a site where there are clearly, abundant examples of “denialism.”

      • I found nothing “objectionable” either. Sorry if what I said came across that way. You seem like a fine fellow to me.

        Steady on. Let’s keep this within the bounds of credible discourse :)

        What I did find were politically oriented posts.

        You’ll find all sorts of posts, including how to parse JavaScript using open source libraries for Ruby and an evaluation of Google’s new language, Go. It’s true I’m interested in politics, but I’d say I’m more interested in deeper things: for instance, in a recent post I show Uki Goñi of Argentina talking about how a whole society faces up to evil. Goñi is hard to place on traditional political spectra but I find what he says there compelling. This was as I struggled with the identification of ‘Big Money’ with evil in the climate debate and, even more so, in the DDT and Malaria debate. That’s something I’ve wanted to get a handle on for a long time. And I do so from within a nonconformist Christian framework, which I’m pretty open about. And my thoughts are exceedingly tentative.

        I simply don’t get the relevance of any of this to the fact that Judith quoted John N-G at length and that that block of text from John on a previous thread happened to use me to express the case that the people responsible for Hide the Decline should apologise. (In fact, I tend to go further than that: I think they should resign, which is one reason I put up my latest post.) There’s nothing in all of this that could possibly affect Judith’s consistency on anything she’s doing or saying.

        Anyhow, no harm done I’m sure. Take care now.

      • I found nothing “objectionable” either. Sorry if what I said came across that way. You seem like a fine fellow to me.

        Steady on. Let’s keep this within the bounds of credibility :)

        What I did find were politically oriented posts.

        You’ll find all sorts of posts, including how to parse JavaScript using open source libraries for Ruby and an evaluation of Google’s new language, Go. It’s true I’m interested in politics, but I’d say I’m more interested in deeper things: for instance, in a recent post I show Uki Goñi of Argentina talking about how a whole society faces up to evil. Goñi is hard to place on traditional political spectra but I find what he says there compelling. This was as I struggled with the identification of ‘Big Money’ with evil in the climate debate and, even more so, in the DDT and Malaria debate. That’s something I’ve wanted to get a handle on for a long time.

        I simply don’t get the relevance of any of this to the fact that Judith quoted John N-G at length and that that block of text from John on a previous thread happened to use me to express the case that the people responsible for Hide the Decline should apologise. (In fact, I tend to go further: I think they should resign, which is one reason I put up my latest post.) There’s nothing in all of this that could possibly affect Judith’s consistency on anything she’s doing or saying.

      • Richard,

        I’ll try one more time – just in case it was a matter of not seeing my point as opposed to seeing it and disagreeing.

        Whether an indirect quote or not, your comment was posted as an example of a “summarization of constructive examples.” When I visited your blog, I found that your perspective on the debate about global warming is very closely related to your political viewpoints. Your struggle with the “identification of “Big Money” with evil in the climate debate” was a very good case in point (btw, I left a comment for you on that issue – questioning whether you sufficiently examined the role that resistance to DDT – as the result of overuse for agricultural purposes – played into the decision in some countries to stop using it).

        I think that your comment that she posted is inconsistent with her above that various groups on one side of the debate, e.g., “skeptics” and “libertarian scientists (and level 3 types),” “don’t have anything to do with each another.”

        Anyway assuming that you understand my point and find it just wrong, no need to respond. Maybe it is. I’ll think about it some more.

      • Joshua, you’ve said something I almost agree with. The problem was this in the lead up:

        Ms. Curry thought highly enough of Richard Drake to quote him …

        As Oscar Wilde once said, we would worry much less about what people thought of us if we realised how little they did. What you put forward was not evidence of Dr Curry thinking anything about me. That I hope you accept.

        However, when I read that claim of hers

        But using these three groups, you have three different groups who don’t have anything to do with each other: the auditors don’t have anything to do with the sky dragons and dismiss them just as the IPCC group does (with some minor sympathy for the libertarians at least by Jeff Id).

        … the same doubt came into my mind as I think into yours. Jeff Id is not as much an outlier as this seems to imply. There is some overlap between the auditors and the libertarians. But the auditor Judith got to know first and best, Steve McIntyre, is very distinct from the libertarians. And he’s easily the most important of the auditors. So it’s a matter of degree and definition.

        But, as ever, correlation and causation are too different things. How do you know that my political stance has affected my view of global warming? How do you know it’s not the other way round? All I know is that I try my utmost to pursue the truth. I was more excited than most of my friends would think reasonable as I read Tomas on “Chaos, ergodicity, and attractors” over the weekend. Because my maths and physics background made me feel that at last someone was laying out the real scientific challenge of the global climate. Did my libertarianism cause me to feel that? I strongly doubt it.

        I did see your comment on DDT – the short answer is that I’ve looked carefully at how significant mosquito resistance is. Because DDT acts not just to kill but also to repel mosquitos it’s a very complex situation. The bottom line for me is that it has been scandalously underused since the early 70s. I will say more under your comment on my blog in the next day or so.

        But the DDT story is interesting for a libertarian localist – because anti-malarial programmes using DDT should always have been carried out at a central level, preferably by governments. This was one of the errors made in the 70s – trying to go local when it wasn’t going to work in the developing world. Here my politics goes in the bin, for the greater good. I was very aware of this as I got to this point in the book The Excellent Powder.

        Our political theories and abstractions should never for me prevent such insights and pragmatism, to save the lives of millions. But the science of dangerous man-made global warming is far too weak to justify the centralist policies proposed. That’s not a libertarian speaking – it’s the same humanitarian who makes the opposite judgement about anti-malaria programmes. Horses for courses.

      • Steven Mosher

        Joshua,

        Show us what you want Judy to do, by doing it with yourself first.

      • Richard, I agree that my “lead up” was poorly worded. Point taken.

        Your point about causality is also well taken. I am not asserting causality. I am asserting correlation, and asking that plausible counter-arguments be addressed – one way or the other – as to why certain correlations are, in fact, not causal.

        And more specifically (and ironically given your comment), I’m also asking for Judith to explicate her assertion of causality, i.e., that the IPCC was the “spawn” of “tribalism” in the debate about climate change.

        Please read the link I provided re: “scandalous underuse” of DDT. I’ll check your for your response on your blog.

        I accept the plausibility of “humanitarian” arguments on both sides of the AGW debate. I reject arguments that dismiss the plausibility of “humanitarian” arguments on either side of the debate. However, I also recognize that is extremely difficult to control for our confirmation biases with respect to our political orientation. That is why I would ask anyone, Judith or a “denialist” expert or a “warmist” expert to do the best they can to control for their biases by disproving plausible counter-arguments.

      • Show us what you want Judy to do, by doing it with yourself first.

        Actually, Steven, I try to do what I’m asking Judith to do. When you find that I fail in my attempt to pull it off, please feel free to point it out.

        Outside of that, I find “Mommy, mommy, they do it tooo!” comments to be rather lacking in impact.

      • Not worth building bridges to people like this:

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/07/climate-ugliness-gets-personal/

        This also explains why your ranking system is extremely dubious. PhDs just ain’t what they used to be from some – too many – faculties and institutions.

    • Steven Mosher

      1. If more scientists would take on Judys role of questioning the tribalism on the warmist side she would have time to devote to the bad science from skeptics.

      2. there is all ready a cottage industry of sorts in debunking the crap served up by skeptics.

      • Holly Stick

        2. Yes, but the commenters here are afraid to read blogs that debunk the crap. Can’t bear to have their assumptions questioned.

      • Actually, i’m afraid very few blogs debunk anything; the vast majority of the sceptical arguments revolve around data and methodology inconsistencies- you can’t debunk that, it’s basic procedure (or is in any other science).

      • Steven Mosher

        How do you determine that they dont read the blogs?

        all you have evidence of is that they dont comment or their comments are blocked or they dont remember or understand what they may have read.

      • I post good links and they claim they never read such blogs, etc.

        Not that you can believe anything they claim.

      • They’re great links, Holly; it’s just they have a singularly political perspective that taints everything that is written there. But in truth you already knew that didn’t you?

      • And you prefere the singularly political perspective that taints this blog.

      • The sites you cite and this one are incomparable in terms of their openess to both sides of the argument. Perhaps I have a more open mind than you think.

      • I go to RC all the time to see the latest from the warm side and a few others. If my list is not same as yours, is that your proof? With that sort of reasoning, you are not a good referral for those blogs. I did go to Deltoid and found it a bit too breathless.

      • Steven Mosher

        really, and how many people have you asked. I’ve been doing this since 2007 and I’ll say my experience differs from yours.

        But for grins, please link to all the times you posted links and people responded that they refused to read it. that would be interesting.

      • Holly prove that point

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “she would have time to devote to the bad science from skeptics.”

        And it keeps getting funnier and FUNNIER every time.

      • Steven,

        1. If more scientists would take on Judys role of questioning the tribalism on the warmist side she would have time to devote to the bad science from skeptics.

        That point has been made repeatedly, and I have responded to it repeatedly:

        (1) That gives me no handle on ascertaining the objectivity of her critque on the roots of tribalism. I can only assess the validity of her critque if she objectively refutes obvious counter-arguments. To do so, she has to present an objective reconstruction of those arguments and then disprove them.

        (2) No matter how often or how much she posts about tribalism on the warmist side, given the magnitude of the larger debate, and despite her notable expertise, her views will not make a significant difference in the larger context. It is a simple matter of physics.

        2. there is all ready a cottage industry of sorts in debunking the crap served up by skeptics.

        First, see my answer to your first point. I’m not saying that she needs to debunk crap served up by skeptics, I’m saying that she needs to locate her arguments in the full context regarding the roots of the tribalism.

      • Steven Mosher

        “(1) That gives me no handle on ascertaining the objectivity of her critque on the roots of tribalism. I can only assess the validity of her critque if she objectively refutes obvious counter-arguments. To do so, she has to present an objective reconstruction of those arguments and then disprove them”

        That makes no logical sense. You seem to have a strange notion of the meaning of objectivity and how validity is determined. We will have a tough time discussing things since you have strange notions.

      • That makes no logical sense.

        Given that you just say that it doesn’t make sense but don’t explain your reasoning, I can only offer this response.

        That’s the same response that high school students give when they reach college and are required to write academic essays. They say that it makes no sense that they should have to disprove counter-arguments, and that all they need to do is present their argument and their evidence. I explain that standard academic rhetoric requires that their thesis is arguable, and that to prove that it is arguable, they must be able to frame plausible counter-arguments (plausible in the sense that they actually would be presented by someone they’re trying to persuade), ideally explicitly – or at least show that they understand obvious counter-arguments. Judith has not shown that sufficiently with respect to her critique about the roots of “warmist tribalism,” IMO. Interestingly, student interested in science tend to have the hardest time grasping the “arguability” requirement – despite that they often read in scientific journals, authors’ discussions about the limitations of their theses.

        You seem to have a strange notion of the meaning of objectivity and how validity is determined. We will have a tough time discussing things since you have strange notions.

        Fair enough. Since my perspective doesn’t rank sufficiently high in your evaluation to merit discussion, I won’t bother responding when/if you respond to my posts in the future.

      • Steven Mosher

        Sorry Joshua,
        Having taught rhetoric and argument at the university level, I’ll stick with my assessment. Your requirements to assess Judith’s objectivity make no sense to me. First off, I really dont care if she is objective. She cant be. What I care about is whether she is correct. She can, as you can be, totally biased, and correct.
        She can fail miserably to understand the roots of “denialist tribalism” and still have a better understanding of warmist tribalism than you or I do. Further, I question your ability to even determine if she were objective ( not that it matters) because you seem to think that McIntyre posting at WUWT is a salient fact that needs explaining. Unlike you, I get to see the inside workings of WUWT. So, when you see something in that fact, I get to laugh. You are deluded. Now I cant prove that too you, because youre deluded. But I get to see it from my vantage point and understanding of the last 4 years.

        Its like this. When people like Mann believe that McIntyre is backed by Oil money, we have a good clue at the genesis of that notion. That’s a part of the warmist tribe mythology. When you are steve Mcintyre, or when you know him very very well, you get to see the delusion of the other side. To be sure, you understand why they would be deluded, you understand why they might be mislead by certain things, but you do get to see that they are deluded.

  2. “And yet, if climate scientists were to use their past accomplishments to bolster their current claims, there would be less controversy, as it’s more difficult to undermine the credibility of established achievements.”

    Like the disasterous global cooling they forecast in the 70s!

    More seriously,

    I doubt that the more strident political environmentalists would support a change in the cAGW narrative as it suits their political objectives.

  3. Climatology became too much a matter of story telling, and the public lost confidence in the story teller when the story failed to match reality.


  4. Like the disasterous global cooling they forecast in the 70s!

    Judith – this statement would be a very good place to start. How do you break down the “tribalism” behind this ill-informed statement by someone who spends a lot of time reading your posts and arguing about “biased” science?

    How do I evaluate your objectivity if you don’t address in some measure of detail the myriad statements that echo back an forth in the “denialist” blogosphere – as so well exemplified by the statement I quoted above?

    • You need to lighten up a bit, Joshua. Have you never heard of humour?

      • And I have never argued about biased science.

        Oh, and I don’t believe I am a denialist. Luke warmer might be more accurate….if your blinkers allow you to tell the difference that is.

      • Use the farce, Luke Warmer.

      • You need to lighten up a bit, Joshua. Have you never heard of humour?

        Another logical flaw in your thinking: In fact, I find many of your comments quite humorous – just not intentionally so.

      • You read minds as well, Joshua?

        So talented, so impartial, and not a hint of smug.

    • Joshua –
      How do you break down the “tribalism” behind this ill-informed statement by someone who spends a lot of time reading your posts and arguing about “biased” science?

      I’m curious as to what you find “biased” about the statement.

      Global cooling WAS forecast in the 70’s. It WAS taken seriously, not only be the media, but by the military and other government agencies as well. And at the time, it WAS considered to be potentially disastrous.

      So… what’s your problem?

      • “Global cooling WAS forecast in the 70′s. It WAS taken seriously, not only be the media, but by the military and other government agencies as well. And at the time, it WAS considered to be potentially disastrous.”

        No it wasn’t. From http://www.skepticalscience.com/ice-age-predictions-in-1970s.htm

        “At the same time as some scientists were suggesting we might be facing another ice age, a greater number published contradicting studies. Their papers showed that the growing amount of greenhouse gasses that humans were putting into the atmosphere would cause much greater warming – warming that would a much greater influence on global temperature than any possible natural or human-caused cooling effects.”

        “The fact is that around 1970 there were 6 times as many scientists predicting a warming rather than a cooling planet”

      • Joshua and Louise,

        Catastrophic global cooling and a “coming ice age” were predicted in the 70s and prominently carried by many mainstream media outlets including Time Magazine, Newsweek, NYT and others. I know because I remember being worried by these articles. I was in high school and remember classroom discussion based on media reports about what our lives would be like by the time we became senior citizens. This was not a little blip. It was broad, pervasive, sustained and scary.

        Louise – your link about some scientists predicting warming when others were predicting cooling is beside the point, I only heard cooling, my teachers only heard cooling, my parents only heard cooling. The story that was published by the media was about the coming ice age. There was a similar lack of balance and discussion of uncertainty as there is today about AGW in the mainstream media.

        Today we have the inverse, some scientists predicting warming and some predicting cooling. The ones that get the traction and exposure in the media are the extremists with the most dire catastrophic predictions. The lesson of the “70s cooling false alarm” is not about warming vs cooling, it is that climate scientists can have false alarms that get widely reported and seem absolutely real – until they’re not. Was it the scientists fault or the medias fault? I’d say both, just like today.

        When you put that in context with all the flaws, retractions and admissions from pro-AGW scientists themselves (Himalayan glaciers by 2035, rain forests, Phil Jones’ interview etc), I don’t need to hear anything any skeptics say to undermine the case for immediate, economically crippling action on AGW. The words of AGW scientists themselves prove that the rational course is for mankind to take no steps that would harm economic growth, wait and see what happens. None of the extreme catastrophic scenarios are really credible any longer and many AGW scientists and proponents admit that they aren’t (eg 20 foot sea rise) and if some downsides do eventually happen, adaptation is far less expensive. A few of degrees of man-made warming are entirely manageable (actually probably negligible to net positive) compared to the tens of millions of human lives that hang in the balance if we shut down our energy economy before there is a complete replacement ready at equivalent cost. And even that hypothetical few degrees of man-made warming is very far from certain.

      • Holly Stick

        I lived through the 1970s and we were a lot more scared about nuclear war and about pollution. Maybe you are thinking of nuclear winter:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_winter#Early_work

      • Who’s this “we” you speak of?

      • Mark – I can’t evaluate how much of a public scare there was – but I can evaluate the disinformation about how many climate scientists promoted theories of global cooling, who they were, and the relevance to today’s debate:

        The answers are: not many, probably not anyone researching climate science now, and none – given the magnitude of technological developments in the science since then.

        If you evaluate the validity of climate science in the 70’s based on what you heard about cooling, to you likewise judge the science of the 2010’s based on what you hear about snowstorms disproving theories that the Earth is warming?

      • Joshua and Holly –
        This argument is nonsense, basically because neither of you has bothered to research the issue at all. The references are publicly available, and as I said downthread the reason you don’t already know the answers is because it would be “inconvenient” for you to find them.

        Holly – your sources are tainted because they tell only what they want to believe. Which then means that you only know what they want you to believe. Which means that you have less than half the story. If I had operated as an engineer on that basis, my career would have been VERY short.

        Mmm – downthread –
        http://judithcurry.com/2011/03/06/climate-story-telling-angst/#comment-53221

      • So prove you have researched it. Give us your links. You think you are not biased? It’s obvious to me that you are quite close-minded.

      • Don’t be silly, dear – of course I’m biased – toward truth and reality and actual data and honesty and several other important characteristics of real science. But closed minded is not true. Show me evidence and I’m perfectly willing to change my mind.

        As for links, your response indicates that you’re either lazy or incompetent wrt research. It took me less than 30 seconds to find these. There are more, including some that you won’t get cause they’re on a computer that’s in the shop.

        http://www.meteohistory.org/2004polling_preprints/docs/abstracts/reeves&etal_abstract.pdf

        http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00B11FB385B147A93C2AA178AD85F458685F9

        http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/global-cooling-consensus-in-the-past-the-evidence/

        http://omniclimate.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/yet-more-evidence-of-global-cooling-consensus-in-1961/

        http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0006/000698/069895mo.pdf

        http://newsbusters.org/node/12137

      • Holly Stick

        Cut out the pompous patronizing, I am not your unfortunate wife. Explain what you think your links prove; the ones I checked are a hodge-podge and at least some appear “tainted” as you put it..

      • LOL -that’s rich, Holly.

      • My sympathies to your spouse.

      • Dear Holly –
        Cut out the pompous patronizing, I am not your unfortunate wife.

        Thank God.

        Explain what you think your links prove; the ones I checked are a hodge-podge and at least some appear “tainted” as you put it..

        I‘m sure the New York Times and NOAA would be disappointed to have you call them “tainted”. As for the others, follow the links. They lead to the pdf that I included, but also provide some direction for where in that 475 page document you’ll find what you’re looking for. In the NOAA document you’ll also find reference to a CIA document – but I’ll let you find that by your lonesome.

        That I had to tell you this simply confirms your ineptitude wrt research. Since you apparently can’t follow the bouncing ball even when given directions, I may well be finished with providing information that’s useless to you.

      • “The lesson of the “70s cooling false alarm” is not about warming vs cooling, it is that climate scientists can have false alarms that get widely reported and seem absolutely real – until they’re not.” – you might have added “and get away with their reputations intact, thus encouraging the next round of “psichosis”.”

      • Peter Wilson

        Global cooling WAS forecast in the 70′s. It WAS taken seriously, not only be the media, but by the military and other government agencies as well. And at the time, it WAS considered to be potentially disastrous.”

        No it wasn’t.

        Yes it was. (You don’t have to follow too many of skepticalscience’s links to realise just how partisan and unreliable they are). Of course, back then most climate scientists didn’t actually think it was their job to predictanything, so many of those who observed that temperatures were falling, failed to follow up with any prediction for the future (something modern climate scientists would do well to emulate. They didn’t feel compelled to declare a consensus, either)

        You only have to be old enough to remember that, at the time, the impending global cooling was far more prevalent in the public mind than warming (you never heard about possible warming until the early 80’s). Counting papers is as poor a method of deciding on science then as it is now.

      • I was in high school in the late 60’s and were definitely told that global cooling was happening. A lot of history has been re-written since then by people that weren’t alive at the time to suit their own agendas.

    • Steven Mosher

      why do you measure objectivity this way? Its rather odd, illogical, and off the point

      maybe what you want to say is that you want judith to be even handed. But clearly its her choice which to talk about. Others, Orestes for example, has written tons of words about the skeptic tribe. its been laid out over and over. Some self examination is always good. and better done by people who used to be members of the warmist tribe.

      • why do you measure objectivity this way? Its rather odd, illogical, and off the point

        Steven, I assume that comment is directed at me?

        I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “this way,” but is it illogical to assess Judith’s impartiality by how objectively she represents counter-arguments? That is a fundamental component of academic/expository analysis.

        Again, I am not attempting to directly assess the objectivity of her scientific analysis – I am not capable of doing so. The only way I have to judge the impartiality of her science, or any other “expert” science, is indirectly by locating her advocacy in the larger political debate. But even more to the point, she has deliberately stepped into the political debate and explicitly connected the political dimension to the scientific dimension in her attempt to “build bridges.” As such, she needs to clearly identify where, in the full spectrum, her political position is located. She can’t do that by only describing in detail one side of the political influences and obliquely dismissing the other side of political influences.

        I’ll try to explain my point another way since I don’t seem to be getting my point across. Judy has located the “spawn” along the “spacio-temporal” dimensions of the debate (about “tribalism” in particular) at on particular point: the IPCC reports.

        What I see is that there is a continuum of relevant events, some of which occurred well before the IPCC reports. By what objective criteria does she determine the origin? Where is the argument that distinguishes the IPCC reports from the preceding debate about AGW as being unrelated to the IPCC documents?

      • Steven Mosher

        Judith has already done this in some of her early pieces. you need to catch up on your reading. for example:

        “her political position is located. She can’t do that by only describing in detail one side of the political influences and obliquely dismissing the other side of political influences. ”

        she’s discussed that.
        I will tell you to do what I have done.

        1. read every post at climate audit. and every comment
        2. read every post here ( and all the comments you can stand)
        3. read every post at WUWT and all the comments you can stomach.

        That’s a good start. at that point you will be up to speed on things.

        And your criteria still makes no sense

      • How is what you or haven’t done, read or not read, relevant?

        I’m doing my best to “catch up.” But what I have seen fits the description I provided, IMO. If you could point me to a post where she deconstructed counter-arguments about the “spawn” of “tribalism” among “warmists” being singularly located in the IPCC, I’d appreciate it.

        Your point above about the insignificant of McIntyre posting at WUWT is relevant. I need to think about it more.

        I’m still interested in hearing why my “criteria still makes [sic] no sense.”

      • Joshua –
        Why do you expect Judith to be impartial. You’re not. Nor is anyone else who comments here – including me.

        More to the point why do you expect her to condone flawed science, unethical behavior, etc. in the name of impartiality? That would be dishonest and anti-scientific.

      • I think the point is that she is quick to point out the “flawed science, unethical behavior, etc.” on one side of the debate whilst ignoing that from the other.

        Nobody is asking her to “condone flawed science, unethical behavior, etc.” but to be even handed in her condemnation of it.

      • Oh I don’t know Louise. She gave the Dragon Slayers a good kicking.

      • Steven Mosher

        Its relevant to me. The comments you make indicate that you havent done much reading in the area. I will tell you the same thing I tell skeptics who want to question the science. I can and will devote time to our discussion when you show me that you are willing to do some of the basic reading. I’m telling you the same thing that was told to me when I started, get yourself up to speed on a few areas before you prattle on about every topic.

        What doesnt make sense is your criteria for objectivity.
        1. your notion that such a thing exists
        2 the idea that you can judge it without having read all the texts
        or met the people involved
        3. that it has any bearing of on the correctness of judy’s position on certain issues.

        In short, you are trying to reframe the discussion. If you want to make an argument about denialist tribalism, go ahead. Make it.
        that argument has been laid out by many people. its the foundational mythology. Its that mythology that played a role in climategate. But your goal isnt understanding that.

  5. There’s an expression used by scriptwriters in Hollywood about reworking a bad story or truly terrible script. “You can’t polish a turd”. On the Global Warming story, I look forward to seeing what it looks like when it’s been polished …

    Pointman

    • Pointman is right.

      The very best storyteller that I knew in space sciences reported two major discoveries. Both discoveries turned out to be wrong and this holder of a named chair professorship in a major university retired and left science.

      “Truthing”, on the other hand is a joyful way of living – seeking to better understand nature and always knowing that we will never have the whole truth.

      Unfortunately, “truthing” seems to have been absent from the campaigns waged by Al Gore, other world leaders, the UN’s IPCC, etc.

    • I saw an episode of the Mythbusters (6 mo. ago?) where they demonstrated that it is possible to polish a turd. :) Came out to a lustrous, but not mirror like sheen. Not sure what flavor it was tho’. Might have been Elephant.

    • Steven Mosher

      you can sugar coat a turd. powdered sugar works best Im told

  6. I’m an economist. (A political economist. I’m not an econometrician – the kind of people who in economics make the same mistakes as physical scientists – forecasting.) Whether economists are scientists is still open for debate, but we have a similar problem of credibility in our field, although economics and politics are more interdependent than are the physical sciences and politics.

    Regarding Past Achievements.
    If we study both the history of science, the history of political activism, and the history of marketing we end up with a very different conclusion than you state above, and storytelling wont’ cure it:

    1)Science is riddled with as many faulty conclusions as successful achievements – in fact, of necessity, far more faulty conclusions than successful achievements. (Everything from the notorious Phlogiston theory, to the Mathusian error, to the 70’s fascination with ‘global cooling’ and the upcoming ice age. Furthermore, Apocalyptic pronouncements are almost universally false if we look at the history of ideas across all fields. The universe is far more equilibrial than we are. Christendom in particular, is anti-apocalyptic because the apocalyptic vision is attached to ancient sentiments.)

    2) Far more than 90% of research papers that achieve public attention contain errors in reasoning that invalidate the premise. (Depends upon whose study you look at, but it’s bad no matter how you look at it.) But a random selection of papers from PhD’s and candidates from any number of fields from any university’s library will contain amateurish exaggerated conclusions from insufficient data. (First, because graduate ‘training’ work is publicized, and second, because the short form peer reviewed process for scientific achievement appears to be far less valuable than the long form book process for scientific achievement.)

    3) Nearly all research work that reaches the public contains overreaching editorial content that invalidates the research. This is a combination of the desire for attention by researchers and editorial license that seeks attention on the part of publishers.

    4) Good science is meticulous. Bad science is not. (I lost a quarter of a million dollars of my own money backing climate science, and the November 09 scandal was the reason for it. The field must take responsibility for the shoddy science.)

    5) It certainly seems that economics as a profession is more skeptical of it’s calculations than are the physical sciences, partly because economic variables are so complex that we are afraid to make pronouncements. We realize we can be descriptive of the past but we cannot be PREDICTIVE of the future in economics. The same applies for highly complex systems of all kinds, even the environment – the heuristics of which is not terribly different in intertemporal terms than are social constructs.

    And, as an economist I can observe that the physical sciences are reversing the accumulated prestige of the field for a single reason: the perverse incentives of the graduate training process in research universities.

    6) Movements need to be skeptical of their acolytes. For example, certain musicians who employ the compositional structure of hymns to rock music, must sometimes specifically eschew association with Christian groups because they know it will impact their credibility with the broader audience. The fact that the international communist movement has effectively co-opted the green movement means that the entire research program is now effectively discounted as a political movement. The global warming movement must associate itself with commerce if it is to succeed. And it is not impossible to do so. Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers. Without exception. Scientists are notoriously ignorant of economics and politics. Where science succeeds, is where it unifies with the pragmatism of commerce. Not where it aligns with religion and politics.

    In economic terms, science as a profession is discounted in the marketplace because of a record of exaggerated claims and faulty advertising. It isn’t that scientists need to tell better stories. It’s that science needs to produce better work, and be extremely cautious with public pronouncements. Scientism is a religion if it believes it has a lock on forecasting the future, even of simple physical events.

    The degree to which the academic scientific community in the west, since the 1970’s has undermined scientific credibility is not understood in the incestuous circle of academia. To counter this effect: Write books not papers. Falsify your own work. Seek to justify opposing views. Ruthlessly attack others who undermine scientific credibility in the public debate. Reduce the number of graduate students and hide their work unless it is extremely well argued. (this is a contrary incentive) It’s not about writing stories. It’s about doing good science. And right now, climate science is insufficiently articulated for human beings to justify paying the huge cost associated with the apocalyptic visions. Human beings are rational. They just need a rational argument and to understand the costs and benefits in relation to ALL THEIR OTHER COSTS AND BENEFITS.

    Why do I know that what I say here will not make a difference? Because researchers in the physical sciences have perverse and adverse incentives because of the economic structure of labor in academic research. Therefore, scientists will not change their behavior because it would cause them to pay the cost of that change, and that cost is too high in relation to ALL THEIR OTHER COSTS AND BENEFITS.

    In other words: People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    • Curt, thank you very much for your post. Unfortunately it got caught in spam, my apologies for the delay in its posting. I spotted this post also at your website. would you mind if I post this as the lead for a new thread tomorrow?

    • First this:

      ……..to the 70′s fascination with ‘global cooling’ and the upcoming ice age.

      Then this:

      Good science is meticulous

      And this:

      The fact that the international communist movement has effectively co-opted the green movement…

      And finally this:

      People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

      Could you elaborate what you mean by “fascination” with global cooling, and could you elaborate on your factual evidence for international communism co-opting the greens?

      • Joshua,
        Pretending that the ice age of the 1970’s was not a serious issue only makes you look really uninformed.
        Look, evolutionary biology moved past eugenics.
        Climate science needs to move past AGW fear mongering the same way.
        A great place to start would be to admit the 1970’s ice age scare was a mistake by leading scientists of the day.
        Another would be to admit that the cry of of impending doom from global warming/climate change/global cliamte disruption/etc. is a mistake as well.
        But this will be ignored by you and your fellow faithful, I am sure.

      • Holly Stick

        Hunter, name the specific leading scientists of the 1970s.

        You can’t of course, because you invented them.

      • Steven Schneider – you may have heard of him. From wiki:

        In 1971, Schneider was second author on a Science paper with S. I. Rasool titled “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate” (Science 173, 138–141). This paper used a 1-d radiative transfer model to examine the competing effects of cooling from aerosols and warming from CO2. The paper concluded:

        However, it is projected that man’s potential to pollute will increase 6 to 8-fold in the next 50 years. If this increased rate of injection… should raise the present background opacity by a factor of 4, our calculations suggest a decrease in global temperature by as much as 3.5 °C. Such a large decrease in the average temperature of Earth, sustained over a period of few years, is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age. However, by that time, nuclear power may have largely replaced fossil fuels as a means of energy production.

        In fairness, he changed his mind shortly thereafter, but by then the coming ice age was splashed all over the media.

      • Holly Stick

        Thank you for confirming that hunter is making it up:
        “…Pretending that the ice age of the 1970′s was not a serious issue only makes you look really uninformed…”

        A media event is not a scientific consensus.

      • You asked for a leading scientist, I gave you one. I never claimed a scientific consensus. In fact it was only a minority of scientists that claimed forthcoming global cooling, but the fact remains the group included a number of highly respected individuals. You’re shadow boxing again, Holly. Take a chill pill.

      • Holly Stick

        I asked hunter to provide a name to support his false claims.

      • But his claims weren’t false, Holly. So are you going to apologize for falsely accusing him?

      • Holly Stick

        Rob, Stephen Schneider got his PhD in 1971, the same year he was coauthor on the paper about cooling, which he soon afterwards realized had overestimated the cooling.

        So it’s likely that he was not a leading scientist at that time.

      • Holly Stick

        False claim by hunter: “…A great place to start would be to admit the 1970′s ice age scare was a mistake by leading scientists of the day…”

        So what leading scientists of the day was hunter talking about? And even Schneider talked about cooling. Who specifically predicted an ice age?

      • Holly Stick

        Why don’t you read some real history instead of telling each other the same old denialist myths over and over again? Why don’t you take a good look at Weart’s innovative website and see how he tells the whole story?

        http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm

      • Holly Stick

        About the 1970s:
        “…Climate pronouncements like this were no longer always hidden in the back pages. In the early 1970s, the public learned that climate change could be an urgent problem. What aroused them was a spectacular series of disasters…”

        http://www.aip.org/history/climate/public.htm#L000

      • Holly –
        “…A great place to start would be to admit the 1970′s ice age scare was a mistake by leading scientists of the day

        If you knew the names, you still wouldn’t know anything. Notice the boldface in the statement. Note carefully – of the day.

        And yes, I knew some of them, most of them are dead and their names are publicly available if you look in the right places. But I doubt that you’ll look because it would be “inconvenient” to be proved wrong.

      • Steven Mosher

        Rob,

        That’s not predicting a cooling. That’s a prediction based on a HYPOTHETICAL.

      • John Holdren.

      • Holly,

        I personally love how the claim is made over and over that the “same scientists” who said the Earth was cooling in the 1970’s are the ones who are saying that GW is A now.

        I also love how arguing the significance of any such linkage ignores the technological advancements in climate science since the 70’s.

        I also love how at the very root of the argument is the logically flawed belief that because some scientists were wrong about something once, vast numbers of scientists must be wrong about something now.

        What I find truly amazing is that such ridiculous arguments are so unbelievably ubiquitous in the denialist blogosphere.

        What I don’t find amusing is how deeply such ridiculous arguments have affected the public’s perceptions on the debate about climate change.

        What I strive to do is to not make a false conflation of correlation and causation – by assuming that because some people who believe and promulgate such spurious arguments are also well-represented in the “denialist”blogosphere, therefore, all “denialist” science is similarly flawed.

      • Holly Stick

        My strategy as a non-scientist is to ignore denialist science until it passes peer review for a respected journal. But since much of it is just political, I sometimes will argue the politics.

      • Yeah – go team activist….high five!

      • Latimer Alder

        Just wondered.

        How do you know it is ‘denialist’ science?

        And if you like peer-review so much, why all your links to non peer-reviewed blogs? Surely they cannot be trusted!

      • Then should you not be going to the per reviewed journals’ web-sites. Oh wait that would do you no good, you would then have to go to Deltoid to get what that paper means.

      • I find desmogblog handy whenever I want to know why David Suzuki’s nose has grown a little longer.

      • Joshua –
        I also love how at the very root of the argument is the logically flawed belief that because some scientists were wrong about something once, vast numbers of scientists must be wrong about something now.

        You miss the point, which is – since scientists have been wrong in the past, they “can” be wrong. Period. Appeal to authority is thus suspect. As it should be.

        Doesn’t matter “which” scientists – or if it’s the “same” scientists. And only warmists or # 5’s talk about “vast numbers of scientists”. That just labels you an amateur – regardless of which side of the dance floor you inhabit.

        Fact is that the 70’s cooling story is true, was taken seriously by serious people and had data to back it up.

        Suck it up and stop whining.

      • Prove it.

      • Holly, I’m beginning to believe that you actually are paid by Big Oil to make “consensus” arguments a laughing stock.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        Speaking of storytelling… are you familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf?

      • Remember that the wolf eventually arrived.

      • John – the version of the story that I’ve heard has that one boy keeps crying wolf falsely until he is no longer believable.

        In the story, people aren’t judging vast numbers of shepherds who say a wolf is attacking the flock, simply because a minority of shepherds, years ago, made false claims.

        What’s the version that you’re familiar with?

      • A consensus of shepards. Where did this thread take a wrong turn?

      • A consensus of shepards. Where did this thread take a wrong turn?

        lol.

      • John Carpenter

        Joshua,

        “John – the version of the story that I’ve heard has that one boy keeps crying wolf falsely until he is no longer believable.”

        Yes, this is the one. The analogy I was trying to draw was in reference to the role the media plays in communicating dire future climate consequences wrt to the 1970’s ice age scare vs AGW today, nothing more than that.

      • Holly, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” is a fable; a cautionary tale. The characters are not real.

        It didn’t need to be a wolf, and in some versions probably wasn’t. It could have been a troll, Rumpelstiltskin or the “Transylvanian Wispy Sheep-Nibbling Ghoul” for all that it matters to the tale. The boy cried that something, which the simple villagers believed to be real and dangerous, was attacking him and his sheep.

      • Holly Stick

        No Simon; the point of the story is that eventually the wolf did arrive, but when the boy cried wolf, the others ignored him and the wolf was able to kill the sheep. The story is not about a danger that does not exist; it is about being able to recognise danger when it does arrive.

        It is also about not being able to trust liars. Many deniers are just plain dishonest. Look at the posts by Mark and hunter on this thread; do you believe everything they write? You shouldn’t.

      • Err.. no, Holly.. it’s a story. The wolf never turns up because it isn’t real. The boy isn’t real. The village doesn’t exist. No actual sheep were harmed in the making of this fable. It’s a story; not a true story, but a cautionary tale.

        Yes, Holly, in this work of FICTION the wolf turns up. But just because, in the fable, the wolf turns up does not mean that, in real life, therefore CAGW is real. The two are largely unrelated. One is a cautionary tale and the other is the subject of an as-yet-inconclusive but vigorous scientific debate.

        While they are indeed largely unrelated, they do nevertheless share a common denominator: Both are stories told to children for the very specific purpose of scaring them into a particular course of action.

        As for your spiteful attacks upon those with whom you disagree, Holly, I have no truck with you there.

    • Michael Larkin

      Curt,

      “Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers.”

      This is new to me. Can you point me to anything on the Web that would explain further?

      Thanks

      • I would be interested too. It is the most interesting sentence of Curt post (which I think is very good btw.), and if I have doubts about “universally”, I think it have some merit. If you modify it into “Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth and/or power transfers.”, it rings even more true. I have doubts about very direct moral arguments (the one linked to killing, or stealing, which are quasi universal and probably linked to biology imho). But the indirect ones, the one that vary a lot in time and space, the one that are linked to a particular society, religion, or human subgroup…There I think Curt have a very strong point.

      • Let’s create a corollary: Sanctimony is a cover for power seeking.

    • Good story?

    • great post

    • Joe Lalonde

      Curt,

      I could not agree more.
      Many people believe the experts in the field of study must be correct due to the education backing they have.
      But if there are errors in that education and line of thinking, it will be passed down and incorporated into science.

      New “blood” is ignored as “they don’t have the education” to be able to have a brain to think.
      I really do not want todays current science education as it has massively corrupted the purity of science.

    • “I’m an economist.”

      excellent post.

    • John Whitman

      Curt Doolittle,

      You have my thanks for expressing your comprehensive ideas.

      I essentially agree.

      Your follwing statement really struck me, “Moral arguments are UNIVERSALLY masks for wealth transfers. Without exception. ”

      John

  7. Storytelling is very nice. And is true it is the best way to convince children, a crowd, and other brainless entities. But when you want to know, and not just be convinced, you organize a debate. And then, the first thing you look at is who is avoiding the debate and trying to keep on storytelling.

    Winter storms is a very simple problem. You can’t say they are something of the past, and some years later try to convince anyone they are an obvious result of global warming. This is really bad storytelling.

    Addressing levels 2/3 vs 4. It is not just the “noise” of levels 2-3. People delegate knowledge. Some know about cooking, others about sports, others love mechanical stuff, and so on. And they tend to be very much influenced by the closest person knowing something about a subject. Addressing directly level 4 is plainly wrong. They will listen for some time if the media loudspeaker is strong enough. But they will stop their attention in a short while, and delegate.

    I think with levels 2 – 3 you have only one option. Make a good case, and behave as you are supposed to. And in case you don’t succeed, try to accept the possibility your case is not so good, or your behaviour could be improved on.

    • It is not just the “noise” of levels 2-3. People delegate knowledge. Some know about cooking, others about sports, others love mechanical stuff, and so on. And they tend to be very much influenced by the closest person knowing something about a subject.

      Exactly.

      If you climate change folks are so determined to see this as a message-shaping problem, you might want to consider how advertisers go about their job. They are not targeting everyone equally. Above all they are targeting the “taste setters,” “mavens” and “early adopters.” Once you bring those folks aboard, word of mouth does the rest.

      In Dr Curry’s food chain, I’m a solid 3. My friends know me as a pretty bright guy and when they want information about technical stuff they ask me. After Climategate I flipped against climate change. If anyone asks or is within earshot when climate change comes up, I tell them you are not trustworthy.

      If you want me back, you’ll have to clean up your act. If you think you can do without people like me, if you think you can just call us names, censor our posts and complain that we exist, good luck.

      • huxley,
        I’m confused. Who are you saying is untrustworthy?

      • i was hornswoggled by gore’s movie and the hockey stick. I was a believer. ready to pay at the pump. read the climategate emails, tried to ask questions on RC, was called a denier. convinced me. told everyone, most were believers at the time. few are today. call folks names, censor them for speaking out. that isn’t science. real climate maybe, but not real science. expect many have the same story.

  8. second to last para has a good point, adding this to the main post.

  9. Pure propaganda:”… but because the predictions are not 100% certain …” Nobody has the foggiest notion of the accuracy of the climate projections into the distant future and that is a fact.

    Using past accomplishments is a hardly a sound method for attempting to steamroll over those with whom you disagree. If your argument can not stand on it’s own two feet, then perhaps your position is a load of crap.

    • ferd berple

      that is the problem with predictions. my climate model predicts July 1 this year will be sunny. If July 1 turns out sunny, does that mean I have an accurate climate model? no. If enough models make predictions, odds are some of them will be right simply by chance.

      what is puzzling about the IPCC models is that the post 1999 predictions have been so spectacularly wrong. what are the odds they would all fall on the high side? 50/50 odds, 10 models. 1/2^10. 99.99% probability not due to chance?

  10. Alexander Harvey

    I doubt whether there can be many people who haven’t heard of climate change or do not know its braodest implications. The message is out there, a good job has been done in terms of public recognition.

    I do query how much people know about geography which is a natural framework in which climatic changes, of all sorts, and many other natural and man made variations play out.

    I do not see why or how, anyone with little knowledge of geography, which does or used to contain a lot of emphasis on climate, topography, native plants and animals, cities, farms, industries, etc., should see the relevance of the otherwise somewhat abstract concept of AGW.

    I am NOT saying that we should rewrite geography to spin AGW, quite the reverse. If people are going to be asked to do something for the sake of the planet it would seem to be a good idea to inform them well about the planet.

    Niether am I saying we should fail to emphasis the fragility of some eco-systems, due to both natural and man made causes.

    I do not know how much people know about geography, I am fortunate to be fairly widely travelled and I have taken an interest in the subject and I do think that this makes for a more stable basis for my concerns. I am unlikely to be swayed by the next story to come around. There is much that concerns me and much of that the way we have changed this planet.

    I very much doubt that anyone would teach the matter squarely, as from an AGW point of view it is a very mixed picture, but where climate change is, and has been having an effect, it is not beyond the wit of most to make the connection themselves without having it stuffed down their throats.

    Alex

  11. The problem with stories is the same as the problem with nicknames.

    You can’t pick your own nickname, you can only set the initial conditions for it to be picked for you. Yet this stops too few from trying.

    One can never anticipate with certainty which story will take, or when, or how it will spread, or what nuance the broader view will take of it, if at all.

    This is why false logic is so popular among those hoping to be heard, why pious frauds are committed by the sincere and self-righteous.

    Argumentum ad nauseum, the ‘Big Lie’ will flourish where the medium is the message, where the story or soundbite is the start and end of the value communicated.

    Cherry-picking runs riot, because we know the public doesn’t have time to judge the whole truth, so many are tempted to disclose only the half-truth they think will show their case in its best light.

    Straw men pop up over and over again in storytelling culture, and why not? Why let the agenda be framed for the audience by someone who has concluded other than you conclude? Clearly, if they’re wrong at the end of their reasoning, they can’t be allowed to infect the system with anything that might lead others too to disagree with your correct opinion. Best to restate the terms in a frame more to the liking of your conclusion, then not only do others not have to consider what your opponent says, but you don’t have to think about it either.

    Valid arguments that might seem at the outset to make easy, obvious clear stories (to their originator) can — and generally do — plink off the shell of apathy and incomprehension, just as often as they are more validly rejected as untrue or of too little use.

    Previous stories — initial conditions of the broader system — also are an issue. Into a world where the dominant story is one of distrust of authority, then anyone who is painted with the same brush of authority (even those arch anti-authority green scientists) is suspect.

    AGW became such a story, and in turn poisoned the well for better stories. It includes the word ‘warming’, so any cold event will instantly invalidate the story at a gut level. What logic can overwhelm the gut? cAGW is such a story with this fault redoubled. We’ve had catastrophe before, and we often have non-catastrophe.

    And here’s the problem of being painted with a story unconnected to one’s own story. Take my position for example: I do not assert, nor see the need to assert, AGW or cAGW are necessarily true (though they likely could be, they almost as probably won’t be satisfyingly provable ever); yet by asserting that CO2 level rise in and of itself is sufficient issue to respond by dropping CO2 emission I will inevitably be linked to those other unrelated stories.

    Those who dismiss stories that have nothing to do with my story will dismiss my story too, very likely. After all, who has time for the whole truth?

    Stories are a minefield.

    All a good scientist, in the face of this, can do is to resort to the lesson of Desiderata: Speak your truth, quietly and clearly; and then listen to others’ stories, generally with horror at how they have twisted your best work.

    Eventually, by dint of overwhelming quiet and clear true statements, the stories will find their own level.

    • George Costanza

      The problem with stories is the same as the problem with nicknames.

      You can’t pick your own nickname, you can only set the initial conditions for it to be picked for you.

      Like that time I decided I wanted to be nicknamed T-Bone and they called me Koko instead.

  12. A picture tells a thousand words, and even WUWT posted this one today, not to criticize it, but in an accepting way. It is the updated (bent) hockey stick.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png

    Can people look at this and say nothing unusual is happening now compared to the past millennia? The skeptics would say that this is just a natural perturbation, nothing to do with CO2. Hard to defend when looking at this graph.

    • I understand the black line is thermometer readings, and the colors are proxies. Do you see something unusual comparing proxies to proxies? How do you know what a thermometer would have read, say, in 1100?

    • Wow, talk about poor messaging….

      “A picture tells a thousand words, and even WUWT posted this one today, not to criticize it, but in an accepting way.”

      In an accepting way?
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/06/briggs-on-berkeleys-best-plus-my-thoughts-from-my-visit-there/

      The whole point of showing the graph is to warn that the lead scientist for BEST team”is a serious AGW proponent.” The comment that the graph (and others prepared by Rohde) “represents the data at hand,” merely acknowledges that he has not tried to “hide the decline” in proxies. (Although the use of a thick black crayon line for instrument records does tend to obscure, albeit not completely, the decline in temp in the proxy data. Though I am sure that is just an accident.)

      • Watts certainly seems respectful of Rohde to me. Read it. He didn’t say “Get this person off the BEST team”, but that he has some good and clever methods of addressing the temperature record problems of previous efforts.

      • Your comment that I criticized was not about Rohde personally, it was about the graph. “A picture tells a thousand words, and even WUWT posted this one today, not to criticize it, but in an accepting way. ” Watt’s subsequent positive comments were about Rodhe individually, not the graph. The graph, as I wrote earlier, was just used to show that Rodhe is an AGWer.

        Thanks for the condescending advice to “read it,” but let me suggest that you re-read it. If you think Watt’s was endorsing that graph as an accurate depiction of the actual historical climate record (as opposed to the proxy data) you are gravely mistaken.

        Saying that someone has not misrepresented the proxy data is not the same as saying that the proxies are actually reliable as proxies. Saying that someone appears to be honest and open to argument is not an endorsement of the correctness of their prior conclusions. Those are two entirely different issues.

        It’s heartening that Watt’s personal impression of Rohde, and the whole Best process, is so positive at this stage. But I don’t see anything beyond that in the post.

    • ferd berple

      when you look at the hockey stick graph, plot it against the annual temperature range at your house, the place where you live. what you will find is that the graph of temperature at your house will overwhelm the very small change in temperature over the past 2000 years. Unless you use a very fine pen, in scale the hockey stick will appear a flat line, with no upturn at the end. the hockey stick is propaganda. it only tells part of the story.

  13. This nails the issue. Dr C -> you are better than those with communication degrees.

    It is my hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2′s and 3′s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4′s.

    Not engaging with the 2’s and 3’s becomes a form of double deception. The 2’s and 3’s remain unconvinced by the scraps thrown at them and they become anrgy at the mass media efforts expended at convincing the 4’s.

    Whether climate science as an establishment wants to satisfy the 2’s and 3’s is a moot issue, but to constantly resort to the refrain that the 2’s and 3’s are Holocaust deniers and psychologically defective human beings (Olson) is a public relations disaster.

    If you read Frederic Bastiat’s essay – The Law – one can perhaps see why the climate communication establishment thinks of its audience as a vast, undifferentiated mass of brainless protoplasm.

    • Not engaging with the 2′s and 3′s becomes a form of double deception. The 2′s and 3′s remain unconvinced by the scraps thrown at them and they become anrgy at the mass media efforts expended at convincing the 4′s.

      Isn’t that at least partly why many of us are here?

  14. Stories. For god’s sakes.

    The climate change movement seems to operate entirely as bad parents trying to scare, cajole, patronize, threaten, or punish children.

    Like bad parents they also forget the times they got liquored up and behaved badly. Like bad parents they deeply resent being reminded of their transgressions and pretend nothing of the sort happened. Like bad parents they are only a few moments away from a good cry about how hard their jobs are and how ungrateful their children.

    My message for climate change scientists: Grow up. We’re not your children. Talk to us like adults. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Admit you’re fallible. Trust us and give us a chance to trust you.

    It’s a drag that you have to convince us, and not just fall back on parental authority and demand that we believe you, but if you want us to do something about climate change, you have to convince us.

    What you are doing is not working. Finding slicker PR and “stories” is more of the same.

    • Michael Larkin

      Very much in accord with my sentiments, Huxley, but put more poignantly and memorably than I managed.

      I’m irritated that the awareness of the presence of stories (which are now being explicitly touted) means I have to be even more careful in evaluating what is said.

      There used to be seven veils between me and the truth, and I suspected some of those were intentionally created to stop me getting at it. Looks like there’s now an eighth, with no doubt whatsoever that it’s there for that very purpose.

      • The fact that ‘stories’ are needed at all worries me deeply. How bad is the science if PR is the only way they can ‘get their way’?

        It galls me to think this is what science is coming too.

        I’m deeply worried that once this all hits the fan- all science is going to be tarred with the ‘climate science’ brush, it’s, disheartening to say the least.

    • I agree with this. The advice from PR types to the contrary makes me angry.

      • Michael,

        I’ve disagreed with you about things in the past, but I have to give you your due. Your position on this, particularly as stated over at Collide-a-scape is commendable.

      • Steve Reynolds

        I also commend Michael for this position.

      • Michael Larkin

        Michael Tobis,

        I’ve often disagreed with a great deal of what you say, but am gratified that we can at least agree on this :-).

        I suppose the main point of difference is that you think the truth is “Plenty scary enough” (in your C-a-S posting), whereas, though I look as hard as I am able, I can find hardly a scintilla of truth anywhere. I don’t mean “truth” as an antonym of “lies”, but as something one can rely on as being really so.

  15. Not to rehash something from another thread, but I think this:

    1. Research scientist publishing papers on relevant topics
    2. Individual with a graduate degree in a technical subject that has investigated the relevant topics in detail.
    3. Individual spending a substantial amount of time reading popular books on the subject and hanging out in the climate blogosphere
    4. Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio

    may be fine in terms of ranking understanding, but you’re leaving out an important group of actors, and that’s the activists, who get their information primarily from within their own tribal organs. Without naming names (they exist on both sides of the debate), there are people who make livings as activists, with little to no science training, and while they may resemble level 3 in terms of knowledge, their position in this drama makes them both more significant, and at the same time less useful to a conversation.

    From what I’ve seen, here and at other technically oriented blogs, the level 3s and 4s are hard to distinguish from the activists, because it’s hard to distinguish unsophistication from faith sometimes. I wouldn’t even point this out, except I think these people are gumming up the works more than any other. The level 4s usually don’t come here or to Climateaudit, or other such places. The activists do, IMO. But it’s hard to tell the difference.

    Back on the essay from Olson, his premise begs the question. As did the piece by Serreze. What they don’t seem to grasp is that if you insist that the conclusion is forgone, there’s nothing left to communicate but that the foregone conclusion. That’s what got everybody in trouble in the first place.

    This is going to sound sarcastic, but I mean it seriously. Some scientists would do well to go to law school. Not that the law matters, but the logic and rhetoric do. If more scientists thought like lawyers, I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate.

    • Without naming names (they exist on both sides of the debate), there are people who make livings as activists, with little to no science training, and while they may resemble level 3 in terms of knowledge, their position in this drama makes them both more significant, and at the same time less useful to a conversation.

      Good point. These also seem to be the source of the lightning rod statements that cause people to spend more time talking past each other than to each other.

      • Sure. It’s hard to tell when someone is saying the talking point, for example, that CO2 is a trace gas and therefore incapable of any effect, or on the other side, that CO2 is “dirty”, “pollution”, etc., whether that’s ignorance or disingenuous chicanery. This kind of talk isn’t helpful in any way, shape, or form. I could probably furnish a few hundred other examples if I wanted to.

    • Michael Larkin

      Yes, ChE, you make a good point. Judith’s list misses out the activist factor per se, but for all that, I think one will find activists with axes to grind in all four categories. And I would very much agree that they’re the ones who have created the most chaos.

      • Yes, absolutely. They exist in all four categories. Which is part of the problem. People expect that when a level 1 is wearing his/her expert hat, that the activist hat is on the rack. If not, how is one to trust that what’s being said is purely expert advice, and not tainted by ideology? This is why there’s distrust from the public. When a James Hansen says something hyperbolic about coal cars and the Holocaust, is it hard to understand why people may suspect his science?

      • A quick way to spot a ‘1’ or ‘2’ who’s not being objective??

        -Someone who’s happy to let someone falsify their work. If they’re not, then they’ve got their activist hat on and cannot be trusted. Simple as that.

      • damn and/or blast- should read:

        “who’s BEING objective” – no ‘not’.

      • also, willingness to debate people on the other side

      • I agree with all resistance allowing someone to falsify their work and unwillingness to debate would be indications of bias in a “1” or a “2.”

        And so would imbalance in how various aspects of the debate are framed.

      • Very true. However. When you get into the general public (i.e. level 4) kinds of blogs, and somebody starts spouting off about perpetual motion machines (and you’d be shocked at how many people out there believe in perpetual motion), you have to draw a line, and just shut off the discussion. There are some things that simply aren’t worth debating. And yet, if you try to argue the First Law, you get accused of arguing to authority.

        There’s no easy answer to that one. I just walk away shaking my head whenever I hear about the carburetor that gets 300 miles to the gallon of water, and ExxonMobil is sitting on the patent.

      • Michael Larkin

        Yes, Judith. I think your emphasis on debate is more even-handed than Labmunky’s. Mind you, maybe part of the reason for the non even-handedness is that skeptical papers have always had to leap over a higher bar.

      • It’s certainly important i agree Michael- i also agree with ChE- you have to know when to stop debating- as was said in another thread (by i forget who and i paraphrase poorly- apologies):

        “Never get dragged into a conversation with an idiot- they’ll pull you down to their level and beat you with experience”

        ‘My’ rule of thumb above (willingness to be falsified) is harsh- but it really does seperate the wheat from the chaff. I am probably perculiar in this regard, but i’m more than happy to be proven wrong- it furthers my knowledge and (more than likely) saves me a hell of a lot of time (i.e. not researching down a blind alley).

        I think this ‘rule’ applies more to the ‘1’s though- they are the ‘authority’ as it were, so should be subjected to the toughest standards. The willingness to debate probably matters more for ‘2’s and ‘3’s.

      • I agree actually- to a point.

        The ‘willingness to allow falsification’ test is more suited for the ‘1’ and ‘2’s than the other levels, as they are the main debators in this, erm, debate. I think it’s important to know if who you are talking to is actually acting impartially- now i of course know that human nature affects us all to some degree and that true impartiality is impossible- but you can easily spot those who are trying to be as impartial as possible and those who are not.

        In such a polarised debate with such high political stakes, impartiality is vital. Those who don’t have it skew the debate, often for political/personal reasons/goals and make the job harder for everyone else.

        Any scientist who, on a challenge to their work (a considered challenge, not just an attack) defaults to ‘attack’ position and doesn’t actively engage and welcome the challenge is not worth their pay-check.

        You will NEVER get anywhere working with these kinds of people, i know from bitter experience just how badly they can derail projects.

        So- as the ‘1’s are arguably the most important members of this debate (as due to the political wheels in motion, only a significant group of ‘1’s can bring this mess to a quick conclusion) they should be held to this ‘rule’.

        If they don’t pass it- then i’d just ignore them (unless their work turns out to be stellar).

        As for the willingness to debate- i agree, again upto a point. I sympathise with the point some make about trying to debate with the sceptical side- it must be like trying to catch buckshot- you’ll get most, but lots will fly over your head.

        As long as people are willing to debate (despite the logistical and practical problems this may land on the individual) i’m happy. They may not be successful all the time- but it’s the willingness that matters to me.

      • ferd berple

        “Someone who’s happy to let someone falsify their work. If they’re not, then they’ve got their activist hat on and cannot be trusted.”

        Why does the name Phil Jones come to mind?

    • “If more scientists thought like lawyers, I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate.”

      Regrettably, lawyers are just as pedantic and liable to suck at logic as anyone in the population, despite all the supposedly Socratic training. Remember, the EPA is chock full of lawyers, and 45% of the members of Congress are lawyers. Lawyers in this case are a big part of the problem.

      I agree that better logic and rhetoric would help the debate, I’m just not sure lawyers are an illustrative example. If you said “If more scientists thought like lawyers [are supposed to], I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate,” you would be on target.

      • gary think about it…you hire a lwyer to argue your point of view. The lawyer is not interested in validity. The lawyer wants a fee from a satisfied client. This implies rhetoric, which the cAGW side has used very successfully up until now. The spin of Gore, the marginalisation tactics of RealClimate etc.

      • I disagree that it has been that effective. If it were, we wouldn’t be having this thread.

      • Very well put, as the current governing philosophy of the legal profession. Which exactly demonstrates my point. Legal practice (in litigation at least) has come to be dominated by scorched earth, win at all costs rhetoric. Flame war litigation bankrupts clients and enriches lawyers. That type of advocacy/rhetoric is mirrored in the climate debate, in part because of the already substantial involvement of lawyers at all stages of the controversy.

        If your only goal is to win, and the fate of your own client be damned, then it is a great way to practice. If, on the other hand, the overall interests of your client (and some fidelity to something called truth) are equally important, than you need something different.

        The most popular gauge of a (litigation) lawyer’s success is the percentage of trials he wins. A better metric would be the percentage of cases he resolves favorably to his client, with the least damage to that client, and the system, in the process.

        You don’t have to blind yourself to the other side to be a convincing advocate. My experience is quite the opposite. The more you understand your opponent’s position, the better equipped you are to avoid all out war. And in the bargain, when if it does come to that, you are much better prepared to win.

        Your examples of Gore and RealClimate are cases in point. All their scorched earth rhetoric came to nothing when confronted with reasoned, clear skeptical arguments about the uncertainties and cost of what they were proposing. And think of all the billions wasted in the meantime.

      • ferd berple

        How did the word lawyer originate? Is it an accident that liar and lawyer sound the same? Isn’t the definition of lawyer a professional liar?

        Most lawyers would have known better than to put anything in an email they wouldn’t want made public. They would have used the telephone.

      • Fred, Peter Cook, as publisher of Private Eye was for ever defending defamation suits against his organ. He once said of his nemesis, the celebrated defamation QC Peter Carter-Ruck: “The man’s a proven lawyer!”

    • ChE –
      If more scientists thought like lawyers, I don’t think we’d get these train wrecks like Climategate.

      Don’t think so. There’d just be different kinds of train wrecks.

      Somewhere in the distant past, I sat through a seminar on the difference between lawyers and engineers. It was truly a revelation that lawyers ore NOT generally logic trained, nor do they need it. The LAW unfortunately is not necessarily logical. If it were, there’s be fewer laws beause they’d be better and more carefully written. Lawyers, however, ARE trained in theatrics (no joke).

      Lawyers don’t operate within a logic system, but within a system of laws that may or may not be logical.

      • Don’t want to beat this to death, but…
        For every billable hour of courtroom theatrics, there are a couple of hundred of strategizing, reading through mountains of papers, writing mountains of papers, and by the thing gets to court, especially if there’s no jury involved, the issues are always very, very focused. Forget OJ, and the business with the glove. That’s not what most of it’s about. Most of it is meticulous, to the point of being anal. I think these climate types would be a lot better off if they could be more like that.
        Disclamer: I am not, and never have been a lawyer (though I share a bed with one). I’m not sure if I’ve ever stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, either.

      • I’m guessing that the seminar that taught that engineers are taught to use logic, and lawyers aren’t, was taught by either engineers, or by government/public interest lawyers? Only the progressives in the legal profession, who call themselves “legal realists,” argue that there is no logic to the law, that it is all about power. Like most progressives on most issues, they are wrong.

      • Nope – taught by a private practice lawyer who “had been ” an engineer.

        Know about the theatrics thing only because my wife was a legal secretary for a while and worked for one who did the “continuing education” theatrics course.

  16. I look forward to the day when climate science helps us make sense out of our world, as opposed to the present day condition where it asks us to believe three impossible things before breakfast.

    1. Everyone who opposes us is evil or misinformed.
    2. We are never wrong.
    3. Scientists should be in charge of public policy

    These are only slightly exaggerated for effect. They do not help anybody make sense of the world. Instead, it makes nonsense out of reality.

    But they are not trying to make sense of the world. They are trying to win a political battle using whatever tools are at hand.

    And they are damaging science in the process–I hope not irreparably.

    • Tom,

      FWIW, I’d ascribe these to climate activists than climate science. And I’d rewrite number three to read “We should be in charge of public policy because The Science says so (trust us, it does and only an evil denier type would want to verify that).”

    • Would you like to cite a source for those assertions, Tom? Because it sounds an awful lot like a straw man.

  17. I’ll take an alternative view.

    Level 4 people invariably have a family income of less then $50,000/yr and more then likely less then $50,000 a year.
    They don’t have the ‘luxury’ of spending an extra couple of thousand dollars a year of disposable income on increased energy cost.

    Whether or not there might be floods in a hundred years doesn’t make any difference to them if they end up being evicted in the middle of January and freezing to death.

    All they want to know is ‘how much’.

    Climate communications are like the Doctor who says ‘don’t concern yourself about the cost’ then turns around and forces people who can’t afford to pay into bankruptcy. (Not that doctors shouldn’t be paid, but if they tell people ‘not to worry about the cost’ then they should be prepared to ‘not to worry about ever being paid’)

    Level 4 people aren’t stupid, if ‘addressing climate change’ was only going to raise their electric bills a few dollars a month everyone would say so.

    A $10/month ‘climate action fee’ would get tacked onto our electric bills, we’d grumble a bit but the problem would be solved.

    Since no one is willing to discuss costs it’s likely to end up costing more then most people are willing to pay.

    • harrywr2

      I’ll start from your same baseline assumption (though it does not match reality, it averages out about right): “Level 4 people invariably have a family income of less then $50,000/yr and more then [sic] likely less then $50,000 a year.”

      With a revenue-neutral* version of a McKitrick-style Carbon Tax, 70% of all people would be better off, most especially those at or below $50K (US)/year.

      (* Redistribute every penny collected back to the people per capita. The story that would be told if the government kept the carbon tax revenue, that would be chilling indeed, as it would imply the government owns the very air. How abhorent a story is that?)

      It’s the 30% of Free Riders who emit the most carbon who drive prices up for the rest of us.

      Fossil energy prices on the LRAC (long run average cost) curve appear in the USA to be past the median, on the rising portion of the curve. This means paradoxically that the more carbon tax is charged on fossile fuels, the lower the overall price of energy and the more efficient the market overall.

      Telling the poverty story has the opposite meaning of its face-value.

      You want prices lower and energy cheaper? Make carbon more expensive.

      • Two words, Bart — unintended consequences.

        Which are usually just unforseen consequences.

        Or consequences which others have forseen but you don’t want to believe.

        But I’m not here to expand on that. Later maybe.

      • You want prices lower and energy cheaper? Make carbon more expensive.

        Please show all work.

      • ChE

        While it’s a great idea, I think we can count on Jim Owen to be at least as detailed in his work as my short remarks, though I agree with you that harrywr2 could at least attempt to flesh out his extraordinary and unsupportable claim.

        One suggests reference material at least as qualified as http://ideas.repec.org/a/cpp/issued/v23y1997i4p417-438.html by Dr. McKitrick (peer-reviewed). Of course, this particular link supports my argument, not harrywr2’s ludicrous remarks, but if he can find one its equal, I’d want to read it.

        Also, real life examples with as much documentation as http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2008/backgrounders/backgrounder_carbon_tax.htm .. which also supports my claim and trashes harrywr2’s, but that’s his problem.

        And maybe some links to a little bit of light reading on LRAC, LRIC, the economics of the energy sector and the cost of subsidies from government to the fossil and vehicle industries found by using Google Scholar? Oh. Wait. Those would again support my claim and dis harrywr2’s ill-considered ploy.

        Is that what you mean, ChE?

      • No, I was thinking of some calculations, you know, like how to you make something cheaper by making it more expensive. There are ways to do that, but they all involve rationing in one form or another.

      • ChE

        “All” is a word that makes a skeptic suspicious. It’s like “Impossible” or “Never” or “Trust me.”

        Why should I trust you?

        And why do you dismiss any intention of entertaining Dr. McKitrick?

        It’s a good reference. There’s no rationing. It makes something cheaper (everything in the economy overall) by making something (fossil fuels) more expensive. And it’s just chock full of calculations, either directly or by reference. It’s also withstood fifteen years or more of review and commentary.

        It more or less disproves your statement on its face, and yet you don’t even acknowledge it.

        Did you want bold, underline, or all caps?

      • I looked at the McKitrick paper. It’s late, and I may have missed it, but I didn’t see where he was talking about making fuels cheaper. The paper starts out by talking about comparative costs of a tax vs a cap-and-trade system. I didn’t see where he said that the price of the fuels would go down.

      • ChE

        That part is sort of true.

        McKitrick didn’t specifically say fuels would go down in price.

        Nor did I.

        I said energy.

        McKitrick said reduced distortion in markets.

        But you said “All.”

        Fossil fuels are mispriced, largely due to subsidies so engrained into the infrastructure our nanny states have built that we cannot see what they’ve done to us and how screwed up we are by it.

        For the same reasons and in the same ways, but in a larger scale, we’re at the same point with fossil fuels now as we were with landline phones half a century ago.

        The cell phone revolution that raced past America in that span of time did so because of the subsidized and coddled landline infrastructure.

        We’re choking on the dust of the _more_ technologically advanced (in terms of choice, suitability of options, adaptability of market to demand) Third World in cell phones and struggling to catch up, in some of the most overpriced cell markets in the world.

        Claim fossil is cheaper?

        Really?

        Fully costed, counting freebies from the public purse and favorable deals allowed to keep the prices down by little more than optical illusion?

        That’s just state-backed fraud.

      • ferd berple

        “You want prices lower and energy cheaper? Make carbon more expensive.”

        By this logic, the more expensive we make carbon, the cheaper our energy will become. $100 in gas to fill the car, plus $900 in taxes for carbon. At a $1000 a tank few will be able to fill the car and gas prices will fall to near $0. With gas at $0, a tank will only cost $900, and if you are poor (and who won’t be at $900 a tank) the government will then pay you back the $900, and you will get your gas for free. Where do I sign up?

  18. I love the way we’re all being assigned numbers. It somehow packages us up and pidgeon holes us all quite neatly. The problem of course is you have to agree on the validity or not of any such taxonomy. Personall, I don’t agree and I would therefore make my own ones. For instance, this storytelling inititive I would categorise as stage 3 behaviour. For that means, see

    http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2010/12/07/the-death-of-the-agw-belief-system/

    Pointman

  19. Global warming activists had no interest in ‘telling stories’ until the collapse of international treaty efforts – and in the United States, the failure to get Cap and Trade through Congress. Now, suddenly, they need – in Andy Revkin’s term – ‘better communication.’ In other words, better propaganda. It’s like they’re working their way through the stages of grief. We’ve seen denial, and now we’re at retrenchment – reframing the issue.

    I like the first line of attack – we figured out El Nino, so don’t worry your little heads and trust us. As if the observation of El Nino is analogous to the predictions of GCMs. This demand – give us the respect we deserve – is interesting coming from a scientific discipline that was a backwater (sorry Judy) just a few decades ago. For a science that is still in its adolescence, the hubris is remarkable.

    And by the way – they STILL can’t predict when an El Nino will start or stop – but they want to reshape the entire modern industrial civilization on trust. No thanks. I’ll wait for actual science to be done. You know – that falsifiability thingie? GCMs are not falsifiable, therefore they are not scientific.

  20. @Judith

    As a level 2 myself, I must agree that your suggestions for effective communication of climate science to level 2’s and 3’s must include:

    – public availability of data, codes, and models
    – transparency in assessment methods, particularly expert judgment of uncertainty and confidence levels
    – blogospheric engagement with level 1′s (quick note: check out the latest level 1 entry into the climate blogosphere: Isaac Held of NOAA GFDL).

    But they should also include:

    – independent audits [this may be an extension of your first bullet]
    – complete openness in reporting all sides of the story, not just those aspects which support the IPCC or “mainstream” message
    – an open recognition of all the many uncertainties in the nascent field of climate science today, with a clear statement of how these uncertainties could impact the projections for the future [this goes beyond your statement on “uncertainty” in the first bullet]
    – pro-actively engaging in open debates with level 1 scientists, who do not support the IPCC or “mainstream” position (Spencer, Lindzen, etc.)
    – concentrating on “climate science” and not getting involved in policy discussions
    – avoiding, at all cost, hyperbolic predictions of future disaster (fear-mongering or doomsday predictions simply turn “level 2’s” – and most other people – off)

    Just my thoughts, Judith.

    Max

    PS Communicating suggested “mitigation” steps is a separate topic, which needs to be discussed separately

  21. Past accomplishments? Story telling? Give me a break. All this bantering amounts to, is some, realizing they are entirely ineffectual in convincing the masses to seeing things their way, are arguing for a different style of propaganda.

    Now here’s something to consider. Apparently these mental giants don’t understand something so basic, I’ve a difficulty lending any validity to any other statements they may make. While I’m much chagrin to reference these arbitrary epistemic levels, I will acknowledge there are many(most) that would generally fit in the #4 level of understanding, an Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio.

    Do anyone care to venture a guess as to why many, if not most, people fit into this level? There’s no compelling reason for it. One can simply fire up the PC and Google more information about climate than one could possibly come to an understanding in a life time. Blogs a’plenty. There’s probably more publicly available information about climate science than any other science discipline, ever!

    The reason there are “4’s” out there is because they don’t care. And after 30 years of jumping up and down and screaming about our impending doom, no amount of story telling is going to make them care. I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. They’ve rejected the alarmist message at the most base level. I’ve children that has been subject to the alarmist indoctrination from the earliest days of their scholastic careers to the very end. From the very first “earthday” birthday coloring picture to the senior biology instructor ranting and raving about how we’re all guilty of crimes against the earth. My youngest, btw, holds the antithesis to my political leanings. She doesn’t care about the doom and gloom fairy tales. She was inundated with inane environmental issues her entire life and it continues today. Here’s a message from her and the rest of the “4s”— to the alarmists. You’ve been tuned out. You’re little more than a source of humor. Have you ever brought up warmist talking points in a neutral social setting? You wonder why people are rolling their eyes? THEY DON’T CARE!! They’ve heard your spiel their entire lives and nothing has happened. You’ve invalidated yourselves. Sadly, because they’ve tuned out, it is impossible for them to distinguish alarmist propaganda from real climate science. As a result, in their view, they all get lumped into the same pot of invalidated extreme alarmism. The blame for this lays solely at the feet of the scientists that did not distinguish themselves from the propagandists. People are 4’s because they simply have other things to do that are more important to them. They take climate change about as serious as the Mayan calender.

    There, how’s that for some story telling?

    • Michael Larkin

      suyts,

      You make an interesting and quite persuasive argument.Come to think, most people I come across don’t think about global warming at all. It doesn’t fire them up the way that, say, immigration or economic crisis does. I guess it’s mainly nerds like me (I’d guess level 3) who get their knickers in a twist.

      Which made me fleetingly wonder whether level 3’s matter because they might actually be quite a high proportion of those who are still remotely interested in the issue.

      • Thanks Michael,

        Yes, level “2-3s” are the ones(some have jumped to level 1s) that have carried the argument. And, it is only us “nerds” that get our “knickers ins a twist” when something seemingly irrelevant is stated with questionable authority. The Himalayan glacier melt, for example. The masses don’t care whether they are melting or not. And they really don’t care if it did or didn’t meet IPCC standards. They don’t wish things to be misrepresented, but that’s about the only thing that will pique their interest. The only time we’ll see an active engagement towards climate science from the 4s, is when policy or laws are about to be enacted that directly effects them. See the EPA’s recent foibles. Or cap and trade legislation. They just want to be able to go about their life and various pursuits without being encumbered by thoughts of doomsday.

        As to playing toward science’s recent accomplishments, an impossible task. Public sentiment is fickle. What will always be in the forefront of their minds is the most recent events. Not that science really wants to revisit some of the past issues, anyway. Many of them would not survive the illumination. As to the most recent accomplishments, one only has to look at the emblematic scientific institution, NASA………..GLORY…….were I an alarmist with a message, I wouldn’t go there.

      • But when the issue does come up, people will spit out talking points. Why? Simple. Human nature. Nobody wants to say “I don’t know”. Not the 4s, not the 3s, not the 2s, and most of all not the 1s. The hardest three words in the English language for most people are “I don’t know”. There’s a PhD dissertation in social psychology to be had there.

      • Stories are not going to help the situation. Stories are only as good as the information contained in them.

        If you want to get people to recognize ‘climate scientists’ as experts then the experts need to have stories based upon fact.

        – Tell folks when the current La Nina is going to end, within days.
        – Tell folks when the next El Nino is going to start and end, within days.
        – Tell folks how powerful the next El Nino is going to be.
        – Publish what the GCM’s from 5 years ago showed the global temperature was going to be.
        – Publish what the current GCM’s show the global temperature doing.

        Part of the current skepticism is based upon the lack of willingness for climate scientists to make any predictions on the record. Without these, ‘stories’ are not going to help, they are only going to reinforce the belief that the ‘scientists’ don’t know enough to make accurate predictions. Let’s face it, the Farmer’s Almanac and private weather forecasting companies put their reputations on the line, why won’t climate scientists?

        Now, don’t kill the messenger. I am a lukewarmist that is an agw skeptic. We are in an inter-glacial and who knows with or without man, just exactly how hot it will become before the tipping point to the next ice age? The past records seem to indicate the earth will survive, but will humans? I don’t know either.

        I do know this. Many of the paleo-climate papers from climate scientists would be much more believable if they also included, as co-authors, experts in history, geography, archeology, etc. who could verify the temperature reconstructions from research in their own fields. Dr. Mann’s hockey stick is a good example. Can you imagine the arguments he and a history or archeology co-author might have had over the MWP or Little Ice Age? How about the claims of unprecedented arctic sea ice melting? You think some history experts might have dampened this a little had they been co-authors or at least consulted? Climate scientists can’t be experts in everything. Loosen up and let some other disciplines temper some of the conclusions. It will help the ‘story’!

    • ferd berple

      “She was inundated with inane environmental issues her entire life and it continues today. Here’s a message from her and the rest of the “4s”— to the alarmists. You’ve been tuned out. You’re little more than a source of humor. ”

      That hits home. In Canada we get daily (hourly) programming on the CBC about polar bears dying due to global warming. The kids get it. It isn’t that they don’t care, rather that they know hype when they hear it. To them it is just TV ads, someone trying to sell something. If the message was true, why are we hearing it so often? Only ads get repeated over and over. Real stories come and go.

  22. Also, at the risk of being Captain Obvious, elucidation of El Nino didn’t recommend any policy. That not only changes the way the public perceives the scientists involved, it also changes the way the scientists see their relationship with society. The AGW issue not only has affected the behavior of the public, it’s affected the behavior of the scientists, as well.

  23. There are blogs here equating the term “storytelling” with “fabrication” or outright “lying”.

    Of course, this is bad and should simply be avoided.

    Almost always it eventually gets exposed anyway (viz. climategate and the revelations of IPCC fabrications and exaggerations).

    But I believe the term was being used here by Judith to mean “communicating” the “story”, specifically the “story” of “climate science” , rather than “selling a bill of goods” [correct me if I’m wrong, Judith].

    Max

  24. Climate Storytelling = Doing the same thing they have been doing.

    Andrew

  25. People who do not understand the situation are unlikely to resolve it. Olson and the others who think climate skepticism is due to scientific ignorance are simply victims of their own errors. Their stories will not prosper.

    Level 4 is the political level. The rhetoric is brutal and the science is simple minded. But the reality is that if you take the scientific debate and boil the issues down to level 4 the results are pretty much what we have now. In other words, the level 4 science is accurate for that level. (I study this a lot.) Put another way, if you start at level 4 and then add knowledge to refine the arguments you will wind up at level 1, where the debate also rages.

    My conclusion is thus that ignorance is not a significant factor in this debate. Each side claims it is, that the other side’s supporters are ignorant, but the symmetry is telling. This debate has a strong factual basis. Reasonable people can simply disagree. Communication is not the issue, except that both sides have to stay in the game.

    For example, look at http://www.skepticalscience.com/. They take lower level (simple minded?) versions of skeptical arguments and provide higher level pro-AGW counter arguments. It seems compelling until you realize that there are strong skeptical counter arguments to every one of their AGW arguments. Their claim to speak for science is ridiculous.

    • That’s an interesting variation on the straw man argument that you’re talking about. If you refute the level 4 claims with level 3 arguments, or for that matter refute level 3 claims with level 2 arguments, you are, in effect, arguing with straw men. Because the only scientific debate that matters is the level 1 debate. And, as you point out, the only political debate that matters is the level 4 debate. So here we are.

      Interestingly, Olson is arguing that his side should counter level 4 talking points, not with level 1 arguments (which would be fruitless), but with argument to authority, which is equally fruitless. They took a wrong turn in Albuquerque when they decided to insult the public’s intelligence in the first place. Now, I don’t think there is any way to put that toothpaste back in that tube.

      • Michael Larkin

        ChE,

        “Because the only scientific debate that matters is the level 1 debate.”

        Strictly speaking, yes. But that isn’t to say that it is impossible to get across substance reasonably accurately for consumption by lower levels. Alas, as an opinion there already seems to be some support for in this thread, there exist in all levels those with vested interests.

        They are the ones who want to spin the message, who don’t want to tell it the way it is, warts and all. And unfortunately, in the way of activists, they are often dab hands at obscuring the full, unvarnished truth insofar as it is actually understood.

      • After thinking about that, let me backtrack. A 2 can challenge a 1 when it’s in the 2’s field, and the 1 is out of his field. Case in point: M&M. McIntyre and McKitrick were more than Mann’s equal when it came to statistics. So I would define that debate as a 1 on 1. If (hypothetically) McIntyre tried to argue the greenhouse effect with Mann, then he’d be a 2 on a 1.

        So what number you get in any particular controversy has to do with the specific issue in controversy.

  26. I’m not sure that “engaging with the 4’s” (well done by the way in amending that level to be less…shall we say…partisan) is what led to the the loss of credibility of the climate science consensus. The AR4’s summary for policy makers was aimed at…makers of policy. One would assume they (at least some of them) would have to be classified as at least level 3’s.

    The consensus already had a “simple story” that it has been trying to sell for decades. To quote RealClimate: “1. The earth is getting warmer; 2. People are causing this; 3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate; 4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it).”

    The basic PR ultimately used to sell this message included the hockey stock, the vanishing Himalayan glaciers, the desertification of the Amazon rain forest, etc. Simple concepts with simple and highly effective iconography. A great story. No matter how many ways they try to repackage it, the problem was not the messaging, but the message (of overinflated certainty).

    I read some scientists claiming they should be more vague about the issue of certainty. others claiming they should claim to be more certain, and still others, like here, claiming the key is to change the issue from certainty to something (anything) else. It’s not just the certainty. It’s not just the message. It’s not just the delivery.

    I like the concept of El Ninos as a comparison to the overall consensus, but I think it shows the opposite point. One is localized and short term, the other encompasses the entire climate and predicts climate 100+ years from now. One has been measured and shown to recur, the other has not yet happened, ever.

    No one tries to predict El Ninos (that I have seen), three, five or ten years in the future. Consensus scientists claim to kn0w the future average temperature of the entire Earth within a degree or two 100 years from now (and to know that same figure going thousands of years in the past, within tenths of a degree change per year).

    More importantly, the effects of El Ninos are confirmed by people’s actual experience. For years, when scientists have said “an El Nino is under way,” the weather has followed noticeable consistent patterns at that time (for instance, blessedly warmer winters where I am located). There is no longer any corollary for the consensus.

    When temperatures were warming significantly in people’s personal experience, they were receptive to the claims of potential catastrophe. ” It has been warming for years, and scientist say it will continue, so maybe….” That’s how we got Kyoto. But then the serious (experienced) warming ceased for years, and Copenhagen failed accordingly.

    The climate consensus was selling the simple story that temperatures were rising, and would continue to do so, inexorably, leading to catastrophe. It wasn’t messaging, or Steve McIntyre, or James Inhofe that killed Copenhagen. It was 10 years of “no statistically significant warming.” It was this lack of temperature rise over a sustained period that killed the impression of certainty the consensus had built up so painstakingly over the years.

    To return to the El Nino comparison, if twice in a row the scientists said a powerful El Nino is underway, and things are going to be much warmer, but there was instead significant cooling, imagine how many would decide the science was not as settled as it seemed.

    • Gary M –
      To quote RealClimate: “1. The earth is getting warmer; 2. People are causing this; 3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate; 4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it).”

      My #5 – The earth has been warming for at least 15,000 years (since the last Ice Age). Since before “people” were capable of causing warming.

  27. Judith

    Back to my earlier posts (and those of many others here).

    If the primary objective of more effective “storytelling in sharing research” is “to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized” (as is stated in the lead-in paragraph), then it is part of a “sales pitch” and inherently bad.

    If, on the other hand, it is simply more effectively communicating the “story” of “climate science” (i.e. what we know, what we do not know, what we hope to find out, what we are working on, etc. -leaving off any long-term projections for the future, as these are speculative, by definition) then I see no problem.

    As an example, the IPCC AR4 SPM report falls into the first category. It is essentially a “sales pitch” for the premise that AGW is potentially alarming. Had the report avoided any projections – especially ridiculous projections going many decades or even centuries into the future – it would have been OK. But it overstepped the bounds.

    I believe you are referring to the second definition (although this is not clear from the comments by Randy Olson, who appears to be thinking of the “sales pitch” type of “storytelling”).

    I think it would be good to clear this point up, since bloggers here seem to be confused about what is really being discussed here.

    Max

    • Max, good point. Given what I know about the individuals that I cited in the post, I think Randy Olson is referring to the 2nd category, and that is certainly the one I am interested in.

      • Michael Larkin

        Really glad to see you appreciate the distinction (though I’m unsure whether I’d agree Olson is a 2nd category example) – I was in fact puzzling over what you meant. I thank Max for helping us tease this one out.

        All the same, maybe we should have different words for the two things. The first could be “PR” if we insist that the second be called “story” – but I’m sure there must be a better word for the latter. Mind you, if there is, it doesn’t immediately trip off my tongue. I keep coming up with the cliched but nonetheless apposite “Telling it like it is”.

  28. Some really good comments here. In response to the dialogue, I’ve added the following paragraph to the main post:

    Most importantly, if level 1 climate scientists can’t convince the level 2’s and 3’s, then aspects of their argument are likely to be flawed, and they should actually listen to the level 2’s and 3’s to try to understand why they aren’t convinced; they might actually learn something. Yes, particularly at the level 3, there are people that are politically motivated on both sides. But it has been a huge mistake to dismiss all level 3’s as politically motivated. And it has been a fatal mistake to dismiss the level 2’s.

  29. Olson notes how the communication camp bore us to death with their ‘Russian Roulette’ and ‘loaded dice’ metaphors.

    They have perhaps yet to wake up to the Ralph Waldo Emerson’s fact – “Oi chusoi Dios aei enpiptousi”.

    The dice of God are always loaded.

  30. Hi Judith-

    Thanks for this post. I agree with you that a big part of the problem here has been the way in which level 1 types have interacted with 2s and 3s, as you’ve defined them. The 3s (of which I am one) watch the 2s as some of them struggle to engage with scientists who do not want to accomodate them. I think that you would find that the vast majority of 3s are much more sympathetic to the 2s than we are to the 1s. While the 2s themselves receive almost no support in the mainstream media, were not invited to give their side in the climategate investigations, etc- they do have large influence and they do have a voice. It’s not a wise thing to turn your back on a 2, as climategate has shown.

  31. The bottom line is that the focus on story telling is in itself evidence that even the hardcore know they do not really have the facts on their side.
    AGW has always been about marketing and sales, not about laying out facts.

  32. “Yes, particularly at the level 3, there are people that are politically motivated on both sides.”

    I wonder, Judith; if you think ideological blinders are less common at level 2 than level 3, would that not also imply that level 1s are the least biased of all?

    • I would say that mosts scientists (level 2) are probably motivated to look at this issue primarily because they see something in the science that interests them, whereas most level 3’s are probably motivated by a concern over the environment or energy policy (possibly citizen scientist motivation as well). So I think that while there is overlap in the distribution of motivations for 2’s and 3’s, the center of mass is probably well separated. This is my take anyways, would be particularly interested in hearing from the 2’s on this.

      • I think there are some other dynamics, too. I think some 1s are deliberately recruited by activists groups. Many 2s are engineering types who are looking at the downstream ramifications of the policy recommendations, and asking themselves, “are we really sure this is necessary and urgent”? This is at the heart of what motivates Steve McIntyre, I believe. The IPCC process skipped a step. What the IPCC did was like the South Park underpants gnomes:

        1. Study climate science
        2. ???
        3. Stop burning carbon.

        A lot of level 2 people want to make sure that step 2 is as rigorous as is humanly possible, and all the “i”s are dotted and all the “t”s crossed, and this means a frank assessment of uncertainty. Many 2 people believe that the IPCC ARs are sloppy by industrial and commercial standards. this can’t be overly stressed. A lot of 2 people are less convinced that the science is wrong as they are that it just wasn’t done as well as can be.

        This is not exactly the same thing as saying that the 1s are wrong; it’s more like saying that they need to operate more like engineers, and pay more attention to detail, and not be content with the kind of sloppy paperwork that we saw in the Climategate correspondence.

        IOW, it’s a cultural thing. And cultures don’t like being told by outsiders that they have to change.

      • Linking climate science to the South Park underpants gnomes is brilliant and spot on!

      • Steve Reynolds

        “…most scientists (level 2) are probably motivated to look at this issue primarily because they see something in the science that interests them…”

        For myself (I’ll claim to be level 2), while the science is interesting, I think my main motivation is civic duty. Given the potential consequences either way the science and policy debate goes, and as someone who claims to be able to follow the science debate reasonably well, I believe I have a duty to be informed and to give my (hopefully objective) opinion to others. I and some other level 2 people in my community (who appear to have also worked hard to be objective) have likely had some influence by participating in various panels and other discussions.

      • I would agree with you. I guess I am level 2 (PhD in numerical simulation (CFD/composites)), and while I think climatology is an interesting science (as practically all sciences are), it is the political aspects that motivated me: It is clear, from a citizen point of view, that the green worldview is rising fast and on the verge of dominating the West, in a way similar to christian religions before, and mechanistic rationalism recently. It is also clearly emphasising collectivism instead of libertarianism (contrary to the previous main worldview of mechanistic rationalism).
        This is something I strongly distaste, so I was interrested in looking more deeply into the science behind the posterchild of the movement (AGW). My reasonment was that the more the science was founded, the less the movement was dangerous, as I expected it to remain rational, with a cost/benefit analysis and a path of minimum coercion/maximal liberties compatible with the scientific findings. On the other hand, the more the science was shaky, the more the movement will be a totalitarian one, one focussed on maximum societal control with AGW a pretext among other to promote a new coercitive ideology in the West. I found the science to be on the shaky side, and the green movement looking more and more like a semi-religious movement and less and less like rational environmentalism.

        At this point, I am a soft skeptic – lukewarmer? Basically I believe mainstream climatology in the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that the sensitivity is positive and that the CO2 concentration has increased mainly from fossil fuel burning. How much of sensibility? Appart from that, I don’t know much, except that the GCM which are used to justify large sensitivities are not validated properly and highly suspect given the kind of physic they are attempting to model, and that the link between warming and consequences for ecosystems (and human populations) is evaluated in a very biased way.

        On the green movement (political and philosophical), on the other hand, I am not skeptical or agnostic anymore. I now consider they are one of the worst belief system there is, on the same level as other religious fundamentalisms, and as such will oppose them everytime I can (when voting, or discussion political matters with friends)

      • John Carpenter

        Dr Curry,

        I am a level 2, who works in industry/engineering. My main interest in climate science started from the oft repeated claim “the science is settled”, “the debate is over” and the overall “consensus” argument. Though my research is in the rather dry field of engineering coatings process development, I am experienced enough to know the more we think we know of a process, the more questions and new problems arise that challenge our knowledge. Current climate science is so fixated on CO2 as the problem, I can’t help but think we are missing a bunch of other puzzle pieces. In my line of business, you get one chance to show what you got is true and if you miss, well you better hope no one else saw it. If you miss a couple times, you are no longer taken seriously.

        When I look at the field of climate science, I know a lot of work is being done, but to what end? I can’t get over the arrogance, especially from the climate modelers, that they have a complete understanding of such a complex problem as our climate. I have a real hard time believing the results of complex mathematical constructs, filled with assumptions, that cannot be verified until the distant future. I further get worried when I see these results (predictions) being used as hard science and proof the climate is running head long toward disaster. Policymakers/politicians, with their own agendas, grasp on these types of studies to bolster their ideological arguments on their way to seeking more power. Witnessing Climategate, as it unfolded, further discouraged me that much of the science being produced was terribly biased and somewhat colluded. This further fed my skepticism that everything was not on the up and up.

        Over the years I have satisfied myself that the science is far from settled, that there is a debate and there is not nearly the consensus I was originally lead to believe. I have now shifted my interest in climate science to communicating/debating with others about the certainty of climate science. Climate etc… has become one of my regular visits as the discussions here are quite on target wrt the problems climate science faces as well as intelligent discussions about climate science.

        Thank you for putting together this forum.

      • Though my research is in the rather dry field of engineering coatings process development, I am experienced enough to know the more we think we know of a process, the more questions and new problems arise that challenge our knowledge.

        This needs to be said again. I too have spent considerable time in that kind of environment troubleshooting things that stump smart people, and when you do enough plant troubleshooting, you begin to see the similarity between troubleshooting and unraveling a murder mystery. I’ve been watching several of the British Cadfael series lately, and they, like most murder mysteries, show that a given pattern of facts can often support a lot of different hypotheses, and the one that turns out to be true is often not the most obvious.

        And so you learn, if you’re capable of learning, that as you gather clues, you consider all clues to be suspect. Because if you don’t, you end up where I ended up several times – with an impossible set of facts. The experienced investigator learns to never be completely sure of anything, because certainty will lead to a dead end. and than, once you lay all the facts out on the table, you can start asking what if this one is wrong, and what if that one is wrong. And only through that kind of a process do you ever have a hope at finding the real answer.

        The people who are too sure of themselves too soon end up swearing a lot.

      • James Evans

        I’m a mere level 3, but I became interested in this issue because of Climategate. I’m STILL here all this time later, mainly because I’m utterly astounded at the lack of response to Climategate (and other examples of appalling scientific behaviour), from the level 1 and 2s.

        I find the whole situation utterly fascinating. In particular, the incredible reluctance of so many intelligent people to admit the blindingly obvious – that Climategate pretty much destroyed the idea that we could unquestioningly trust climate scientists.

        If you want to talk stories – for me, by far the most interesting is what story the history books will tell. I have little doubt that eventually the story that will be told will be one of a huge failing of science. And where will that leave us? I think we’ll be looking very hard for a paddle.

  33. Tom Fuller just posted this gem on the collide-a-scape thread:

    “At the end of the day, the fatal flaw of those on the consensus side is that they conflate ‘getting the message right’, ‘telling the right story’ and ‘communication.’

    They are all different. They need all three. But the key point is, without engaging those on the other side of the fence, they cannot do any of them effectively.”

    • Michael Larkin

      I think “telling it like it is” is something else again, and with just that one thing, the other three are totally redundant.

  34. Dr. Curry,
    Good, stimulating post. One of the questions this raises in my mind is what is the hook that grabs someone’s attention and causes them to move from a #4 to a #3?

    I think one of the issues which causes people to look into the data more closely is the attitude displayed at RealClimate. They do not respond like professional scientists. They are insulting to people who ask challenging or embarrassing science questions. It causes people to wonder why they act that way and what they are trying to hide, especially when they learn enough to ask a challenging question themselves and the question doesn’t get through moderation.

    But there are other causes. Let’s look at some real life examples. Steve McIntyre was #4 when he saw the hockey stick chart and wondered: “How do they know that?” It started him on a quest for information and now he is a leading #1. Steve’s blog ClimateAudit caught the attention of a number of other #4s, some of whom have gone on to publish in the peer-reviewed literature or start important science blogs, including Jeff Id, Ryan O’Donnell, and Hu McCulloch among others.

    Steve’s paper refuting MBH98 also had a big impact on Richard Muller. Prior to MM03, I think Muller was a believer in AGW but had not really looked into the science that much himself. (I could be wrong on that point.) Now he is leading Berkeley Earth System Temperature project.

    In fact, I remember when you first started commenting on ClimateAudit. In the beginning, you used to leave cryptic remarks like “Be skeptical of your skepticism.” But eventually, you saw the scientific arguments presented by Steve and his disciples had merit.

    Then Climategate hit and we got to see behind the curtain. It turned out that everything we feared about gatekeeping, lack of transparency and fudging of data were true. This caused a great many scientists in other disciplines to look into climate science more closely. Hal Lewis, a leading physicist and former proponent of global warming, joined the ranks of the skeptics.

    It might be interesting to ask the #2s and #3s here to tell their story about what got them interested in climate science and especially what may have caused them to change their opinion of the science (if a change occurred).

    One other point, Dr. Curry. I think the emphasis on “story” may backfire on the proponents of AGW, because many of the skeptics have interesting stories too.

    • Ron, I would define even visiting Realclimate as a level 3. The true 4’s don’t spend any time at all on the climate blogs.

      • I meant first time visitors. I’m not sure a one-time visitor to RealClimate is a #3. My guess is 50% of the posts at RealClimate (and the moderation) leave first time visitors with a negative impression of the proprietors of that blog.

      • Oh yes, they do, Dr C. Google brings everyone to everywhere.

        Why do you think they delete comments from the 2’s and the 3’s?

        They don’t want the 4’s reading them.

        At least not in their backyard.

      • >Why do you think they delete comments from the 2′s and the 3′s?

        They don’t want the 4′s reading them.<

        It is this point that Judith C misses. Not because she doesn't know it, I suspect, but because it's insoluble. The demographic numbers are compelling: Level 4's outnumber Level 1's + 2's + 3's by an enormous multiplier, so the crudity of swamping informed criticism (2's and 3's) with huge numbers of panicked Level 4 votes remains

        This issue is avoided here every time it is raised – because it is shameful

      • well actually i would call these level 3.5’s. true level 4’s (who Randy Olson is targeting) don’t hang out at all in the climate blogosphere or otherwise seek out info on climate, they only get what they get because they passively encounter it in whatever mainstream media or talk radio source they pay attention to.

      • You are correct, Dr C.

        But that is a section that is “out of reach” in any case. If Olson says that the 4’s in that (vast) section have no exposure whatsoever to Climategate, for example, the same 4’s are impentrable to anything else about the climate, despite years and years of saturation coverage.

        The way these 4’s are courted is funny. It is apparently a right thing to scare them by talking about catastrophe. It is at the same time, taboo, to tell them that the overall objective is to get them to open their wallets and purses and spare a bit of cash to save the world.

      • Again you’ve evaded the issue – this time by making up a “new” category of knowledge level – ie. “3.5”

        Colour me surprised :) :)

    • Michael Larkin

      Ron,

      My switch from 4 to 3 could be said to have started with Climategate – you can check out my entry in the Denizen’s thread for more detail if you like. I’m sure the switching of many others was likewise sparked by Climategate.

  35. Scary stories sell better. This AGW research-industrial-financial complex sells fear exactly the same way the military-industrial complex does. And AGW = Iraqi WMDs.

    There is no bridge between the truth and a deliberate Big Lie.

    The scientists who fell for this groupthink are in the same league as the ‘good Germans’ of the 1930’s, or Lenin’s useful idiots. The leaders of this project are like the leaders of Germany in the 1930s. They know they are lying.

    As for the ‘good German’ AGW worker bees, as Jesus allegedly said, ‘forgive them, they know not what they do.’

    • Well done Al: “Climate Scientists = Nazis”

      I’d like to know if anyone else reading these comments is offended by Al’s characterization. As a number 2 on JC’s scale, I’m also offended at being a typecast as a brainless “German worker bee”. I know exactly what I’m doing when I weigh the evidence for and against AGW.

      If you think about it carefully Al, maybe you’d realize that this sort of rhetoric really doesn’t help build bridges of any kind.

      • Holly Stick

        Presumably he doesn’t want to build a bridge. Does anyone here?

      • Actually most ‘good Germans’ were not Nazis. They were just stuck in groupthink, and dared not go against the flow. Many of them convinced themselves of the righteousness of the cause, but they were all just used by the real Nazis, their leaders. Just like Lenin’s ‘useful idiots.’

        So, don’t get mad, wake up.

      • I’m wide awake here, Al, and I’m not an “idiot” being “used” by anybody.

        Hmm, anyone else objecting to the Nazi references? Bueller? Bueller?

      • Well Joe, I suppose I could have picked a historical analogy that wasn’t quite that provocative… which is why I also mentioned Lenin’s ‘useful idiots’ (his term).

        How about Mao’s Cultural Revolution cadres? Or any of an endless string of historical examples where groupthink combined with some missionary style zeal led to irrational outcomes?

        In any case, all humans are political and economic animals, with a tendency to groupthink, including those trained in science.

      • Nazi references? You mean like the term denier?

      • joe,
        You should learn to read more closely.
        But you do get an ‘a’ for effort in trying to pretend like Godwin’s law was invoked.
        But you still fail.

  36. One thing I have noticed about the positions of the two camps is that the warmists seem to be very deeply invested in defending every scrap of the science they have generated even when that science is demonstrably wrong or significantly uncertain. In so far as the skeptics raise questions – which is pretty much all they do or need to do – these seem to provoke a remarkably “over the top” response from the warmist community.

    That reaction is a bit of a “tell”. And it explains some otherwise very puzzling conduct. My understanding of how normal science works is that papers are published and often criticized or directly contradicted by other papers using different data or methodology. While no one wants to be wrong, most scientists recognize that they, personally, do not have all the right answers and that their field will move forward as better answers are found.

    This process does not seem to be the norm in climate science. I suspect, but cannot prove, because of the artificial hothouse atmosphere which has been created by its politicalization at the hands of the UN and various national political parties. I very much doubt that Jones writing about adjusting for the UHI ever thought his result would be a political football nor do I think Mann’s initial examination of tree rings was designed to put paid to the MWP. In more normal sciences these papers would have been treated as preliminary approaches to real problems to be superseded when better data and methods were brought to bear.

    However, once politics became involved these papers were accorded iconic status as “peer reviewed” means of countering the UHI objection and the MWP objection. Which, in turn, meant that they were attacked with far more force than would normally be encountered in strictly scientific circles.

    This enhanced scrutiny, often by lay people, arose because what would normally be relatively out of the way papers were being used as the scientific underpinning for massive (and often ill-considered) economic and social intervention.

    When it comes to telling a particular story – whether warmist or skeptical – the science quascience is almost never communicated. There is no story telling value in recounting the hits and misses of climate scientists. Instead , on the one side, you have the story tellers – professional politicians for the most part – grabbing catch phrases like “peer reviewed”, “consensus”, “settled”, “IPCC”, “manmade” and attaching them to claims of assorted plausibility “5 degrees”, “ice free Arctic”, “no polar bears”, “20 foot sea level rise”, “no snow”, “endless drought”. For the skeptic, this warmist rhetoric leaves plenty of lines of attack, almost none of which require much knowledge of the science per se: a good snow storm, flood, Arctic ice accumulation are all talking points which can be used to counter the warmist narrative. (And yes, I do know those are just weather but they are also exploitable opportunities for both sides.)

    Judith, I think you taxonomy of epistemic levels makes good sense; but I would add a second axis namely rhetorical intent. Your taxonomy recognizes “who” we are attempting to communicate with, mine would attempt to define the rhetorical purpose of that communication. Scientific communication needs to be distinguished from consequential and/or polemical communication. And we should recognize that the rhetorical purpose can very quickly shift.

    We tell stories for different reasons and our reasons influence our stories as much or more than our audience does.

    • Holly Stick

      Might be a response to deniers claiming that one private email taken out of context, with its meaning warped beyond recognition is proof that all of climate science is wrong. As commenters here argue again and again.

      • Whoever claimed that?

      • life is tough at the top Holly…and you are out of your depth….(mixing metaphors like a cocktail)

      • I hope you do not acquire an allergy to straw, because if you had to quit using straw man arguments, you would have little at all to say.

      • Advice for “strawman” arguments: be sure to use fresh “straw”

        (Although it sounds that way, this is not from Confucius)

        Max

      • Serious challenge: Explain what decline was being hidden. Pretty much all of the level 4s on both sides of the issue get this wrong, and when I hear about “context”, I get suspicious about the person’s understanding. So please tell me, in your own words, what exactly “hide the decline” refers to.

    • Jay,
      That is an interesting observation.
      No variance at all is allowed in AGW land.
      Paleontology, medicine, astronomy, all make major changes as evidence comes in to warrant it.
      AGW? It is settled and only denialist scum working for the Koch death family, or creationists hoping for the end of the Earth to get Jesus back sooner are questioning it.

  37. Judith,

    I notice some hostility within the comments towards the concept of story or message. I believe this ire is misplaced. After all, what is a hypothesis or theory other than a compelling story that is consistent with all known facts meshed with the natural laws that we have discovered.

    The problem with the consensus story is not that the consensus scientists cannot present their stories, it is that other competing stories exist and those stories tend to be more compelling and believable. Try as they might, the consensus viewpoint has all the plot consistency of a Dan Brown tale.

    When telling any tale, your audience being naturally curious is going to ask questions about your story. These question will be natural things that arise such as “How did the poison get in the bottle ?”, “Why didn’t he fall off the cloud when he stepped off the beanstalk” or even “If the climate scientists is subjectively spinning the data, how do I know he/she will actually tell me the truth if counter evidence appears ?”. If it is a good story, it needs to actually address these issues in a way that satisfies the reader. In the case of the consensus story, when the listener asks about subjective spin, the storytellers need to write a passage more convincing than: “Don’t look at the subjective manipulation behind the curtain, instead pay attention over here where they screwed up their quotation marks!”. Honestly, that is not a very good story telling plot device.

    They fail because alternate stories exist that actually discuss and explain events that the readers know occurred and these stories tend to be more consistent and believable.

    • True. Trying to make the MWP go away wasn’t one the brightest ideas.

      • Steven Mosher

        yup. AGW is correct with or with the hockey stick.

      • I think you meant “with or without”?

        However, I object to your framing AGW as a yes/no proposition. It’s a question of degree (no pun intended). Or put another way, accepting the greenhouse effect still leaves a lot of wiggle room in the climate sensitivity. Aside from the dramatic graphic pitch to the level 4 crowd of unprecedented warming in the original stick, making the MWP go away was important for the high CS argument, or Hanson’s tipping pints. It’s a lot easier to claim a high CS and tipping points if the earth has never been this hot before.

        So I don’t think it was for no reason, just that it wasn’t very smart. The flat HS just looked too fishy. They brought the scrutiny on themselves. And it seems like Olson still hasn’t learned the painfully obvious.

    • Holly Stick

      And many people prefer junk food.

      • Exhibit “A”. This is the kind of condescending contempt for the public that is at the root of the problem.

      • Holly Stick

        No, I have contempt for people who prefer denialist lies.

      • If you refer to anything you disagree with as a “denialist lie”, I dont think even a “4” will take you seriously these days.

    • Artifex

      Possibly we have a semantics problem here.

      In some parts of the USA a “story-teller” was simply the polite form of describing a “liar”.

      I’m sure Judith can confirm this, based on the part of the country in which she lives.

      That’s why it is so important to make sure we know what kind of “story-telling” we are talking about here.

      Max

  38. Steve McIntyre

    <blockquote?What are the ingredients for effective communication with level 2′s and 3′s? Here is my take, I look forward to your other suggestions:

    * public availability of data, codes, and models
    * transparency in assessment methods, particularly expert judgment of uncertainty and confidence levels

    Judy, I think that this is an excellent and important issue. I’ve more or less aimed Climate Audit (particularly pre-Climategate) at readers who are professionals or who have PhDs in other fields – your 2s and 3s – who are starving for relevant expositions of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C and problems. Climate scientists often direct such inquiries to IPCC AR4, but IPCC AR4 does not provide the sort of exposition that meets the needs of this audience.

    If one wishes to talk to this sort of audience, one has to treat them like adults. They are not interested in being yelled at or being condescended to – voices which, unfortunately, are too prevalent on the “warmist” blogs (a term that I dislike but use for now).

    I think that the population of 2s and 3s were highly relevant to the failure of the Muir Russell and Oxburgh inquiries to dispose of Climategate. Hundreds, if not thousands, of readers were familiar with nuances of the debate and unconvinced by the “inquiries”. Thus, climategate lingers on.

    This audience is also very capable of assessing institutional mendacity. Whenever an institution provides a dishonest or evasive answer on something that can be checked e.g. excuses for FOI refusals, it is corrosive to the institution’s credibility with the audience of 2s and 3s (and others).

    IN my opinion, more”stories” is very near the bottom of the priorities for “warmists”. My own recommendation is an “engineering quality” exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C and to problems. Such an exposition is not a short little article (I’m familiar with these) but a ground-up exposition of the physics of clouds and their parameterizations in GCMs – the way that an engineer would write the report, not a scientist writing an article for Nature. This concept has occasionally been mocked by climate scientists – Gerry North sneered at it in a post-Climategate interview, but nonetheless, I still think that it’s what’s needed to improve communications with 2s and 3s and would be tremendously healthy.

    • If one wishes to talk to this sort of audience, one has to treat them like adults. They are not interested in being yelled at or being condescended to – voices which, unfortunately, are too prevalent on the “warmist” blogs (a term that I dislike but use for now).

      Hear, hear. And the general public doesn’t care for that, either. It’s possible to talk to the 4s without being a condescending ass.

      • ChE – will you wait with me until Fred and Pekka reply to Steve or Kip or Sean?

        Reply here if you doubt they’ll come anytime soon.

      • Hi Kate – I wouldn’t have replied at all except that I happened to be browsing and noticed a comment about this in the other thread. I typically don’t engage in many exchanges, but I try to respond to someone who cites me.

        I don’t always agree with Steve McIntyre, but I respect him. I wonder how many of his admirers are aware of his perspective on anthropogenic warming, which if I’m not mistaken, is one that gives the climate experts the benefit of the doubt on basic principles. He presumes they know what they are talking about, so that he is not trying to refute them so much as to require that they prove themselves with cogent explanations. His skepticism relates to faulty data manipulation, intentional or inadvertent, and not to climate science as a discipline. If he reads this, he can correct any misimpressions I’ve expressed.

        Having said that, I believe he is being somewhat unrealistic in how much to expect in the way of blogosphere explanations of doubled CO2 climate sensitivity and related issues. These issues are quite complex, and the relevant data are widely disseminated within many different categories of scientific reporting. Even though not a climatologist, Steve is undoubtedly smart enough to acquire a sufficient background in the physics to add to his existing knowledge, wade through the details, and arrive at his own conclusions on the subject. However, there may be too few others willing to do that for any of the experts to sit down and condense the material into a blog-ready format of the “engineering quality” Steve demands.

        If Steve wants to understand climate sensitivity, he should know that appropriate sources exist, but mainly in the form of extensive textual material combined with a large set of references designed to document that material. One example is the Nature Geoscience review by Knutti and Hegerl. Another consists of chapters 8 and 9 of AR4 WG1, but for the level of documentation Steve demands, it is the references more than the text exposition that are critical. Since those chapters, additional references have appeared, including recent work by Lindzen/Choi, Spencer/Braswell, Dessler, Lauer et al, Clement et al, and others. Steve may already be familiar with some of the work by Annan and Hargreaves involving the choice of appropriate pdfs as priors for a Bayesian analysis of paleoclimatologic data. If all this is collected into one huge compendium, I’m unaware of it, but these disparate sources certainly treat their readers “like adults”. The problem is that it’s impossible to do that and also condense the information into a quick read for an intelligent person to assimilate in only a few hours. It’s also impossible for all the relevant authors to get everything right, and so the ultimate conclusions about climate sensitivity are those that emerge after the various imperfections are filtered out. I’m sure Steve understands that strong evidence can emerge from a composite of data sources that are individually weaker – that’s a Bayesian
        principle in its own right.

        I guess I’m saying that I don’t know what Steve is really complaining about, because what he asks for is available. So is the abundant blogosphere material of lesser stature that one might consider “A Child’s Guide To Climate Sensitivity”, but that is aimed at audiences who like that sort of thing.

      • Fred,

        Since climate scientists never bother to check each other’s work, you are probably unfamiliar with the concepts to which Steve is making refernce. The engineers, PhDs, and very bright folks in lots of other professions who work in the real world are used to having their work checked and rechecked. Studies with findings that completely change well-accepted notions are not simply accepted without explanation in the real world. Failure to check can get people hurt and put your employer out of business — not a good thing for people who wish to remain employed. It must sound so strange.

        So when Steve refers to information that is not available, he’s not talking about the “literature”, the studies as published. He’s talking about all the information behind the studies — the stuff that Mann, Jones, Briffa and their friends at the journals have worked so hard to keep secret for so many years.

        Steve is one of those creatures that climate scientists have never understood — he actually checks stuff, like out we do out here in the real world. I know, sounds crazy, but for real. That’s what he does.

      • We’ve discussed this before, Stan. Please see my earlier comments on how science advances through a process of evidence-gathering and self-correction. The essence is reproducibility of results, rather than checking up on each other. It’s orders of magnitude more efficient than an exclusive reliance on checking.

        I would add, though, that checking is also standard as part of peer review of grants and papers. The examples critics cite in the blogosphere represent the failures of the process. The successes, which are far more numerous, don’t get their attention.

      • The failure represent the most cited scientific studies in the history of the world in terms of journalistic references. Scientists didn’t bother to replicate them. If climate scientists can’t be roused from their slumber to check/audit/replicate the hockey stick and ‘worse than we thought’ despite the world-wide attention and their use to support the most far-reaching impositions on the life, liberty and property of billions of people, it is fair to question when they will ever bother to replicate someone else’s work.

        Steve Mc didn’t pick the hockey stick to check because it was obscure. He picked it because politicians and scientist/activists around the world were using a bullhorn to announce its findings.

        I find your contention that skeptics have only found errors in a few studies to border on the truly bizarre. The studies exposed were the most trumpeted studies in history. If they were so minor, why the massive publicity push? Are you telling us that the scientists behind the PR push aren’t smart enough to know what is important?

        As for the other studies, requests to be provided the data to check/audit/replicate these other studies have been routinely stonewalled. Hiding behind successful stonewalling isn’t a very becoming trait for anyone who is supposed to be about spreading the truth.

      • Please see my earlier comments on how science advances through a process of evidence-gathering and self-correction. The essence is reproducibility of results, rather than checking up on each other. It’s orders of magnitude more efficient than an exclusive reliance on checking.

        I’m not sure if I’m understanding this correctly. Are you saying that 1) a non-adversarial system is as reliable, and 2) more efficient than an adversarial system, like we have in our courts?

      • ChE – A system that is primarily adversarial is a very inefficient way for science to operate, but some degree of challenge as a component is valuable. Most scientists, unlike lawyers, are working on their own projects rather than addressing what’s right or wrong with someone else’s. They don’t have the time to do both thoroughly. However, throughout modern scientific history, the road to an accurate understanding has resided in the principle that valid conclusions are reproducible, and that concept is a cardinal principle of climate science as well. The challenge is not to find fault with another’s work, but to see whether one can get the same results. This is far more efficient than an attempt to devote most of one’s time to fault-finding.

        Even so, the process of peer review is the adversarial element, and one I’m very familiar with, both as reviewer and reviewee. As reviewer, I’m aware of how successful this process has been in weeding out material that doesn’t meet the critical standard of a valid report – the data must support the conclusions.

        Because humans are fallible, sometimes it fails, but as I mentioned above, the failures are the exception, although they have been elevated to almost iconic status by critics to the point that one sometimes get the impression that the cited articles are considered the center of climate science within the scientific enterprise itself. An example is the “hockey stick”, which is rather peripheral to mainstream climate science conclusions, but has become a cause celebre because of the conflict between critics and defendants. If you read the literature, you will find that studies of that type occupy a small niche rather than a foundational role. In the case of the hockey stick, both proponents and critics share responsibility for the undue emphasis.

        The only way to arrive at an accurate perspective on both successes and failures is to become familiar with the broad scope of the climate science literature. To rely on the media or the blogosphere is to acquire a perspective distorted by the selected citation of examples designed to make a partisan point. It’s not a good way of understanding what is good or bad in any field of science.

      • Fred, that was a very clear response. And the question was rhetorical, and I expected something along the lines of what you said. Now let’s move on to the next question: if we’re talking about a question that the future of the earth hinges on at worst, and trillions of dollars hinge on at best, is efficiency even relevant?

        I’ll let you know where I’m headed with this. I tend to think that the research to date has in general been very poorly focused, but part of that is due to the incoherence with which the funding is handed out. It would seem to me that we should care less about efficiency than about getting it right to the best of our abilities, even if that means a lot more research funding.

        The situation is somewhat like a murder trial where the prosecutors are asking for the death penalty. You don’t want to execute an innocent person, but you don’t want to let a murderer walk, either. And if the trial costs the state millions, that’s life.

        I just don’t get the sense that the overarching apparatus is treating this issue like it’s serious enough to demand the finest. They seem to be happy with research methods that may be suitable for studying the mating habits of the Uranian dung beetle, but not a question of this gravity. And then they want to skip on to policy recommendations that are historic in their breadth.

        A more rigorous and transparent approach would be more expensive, but how can you argue that it’s not warranted? Shaking the money lose in this economy would be tough, but I think you may be misreading the critics, such as Steve. The criticism isn’t that the science community has done too much, it’s that they haven’t done enough.

      • As someone who does climate science for a living, Judith Curry is in a better position than I to address both the availability and focus of research funding. I’d be interested in her perspective.

      • I started a post on this topic a few months ago, it is on my list, will eventually get to it

      • Fred

        “Most scientists, unlike lawyers, are working on their own projects rather than addressing what’s right or wrong with someone else’s.”

        That may be true in other sciences, but I think that virtually all government funded climate research can now be said to be “someone else’s” (the government’s) project. With the same result of advocacy impacting the content of the rhetoric.

        Can anybody point to a recent, government funded, peer reviewed paper that dissented from the consensus?
        Or name a government funding agency that is not solidly on board with the CAGW hypothesis?

      • Gary,
        Check the contents of the current issue of the Journal of Climate, or check any regular issue of any journal publishing climate science.

        How many of these papers are likely to take a stand on the global warming making the judgment just from the title – or from the abstract, if you wish? Only few.

        There is still a lot of normal climate science; most of the scientists do normal science. The do not promote AGW. Their results may or may not have some implications concerning AGW. The situation is not as different from other sciences as your comment states. There is certainly a difference, but it is not that dominating, and there are also other sciences that are equally connected to decision making.

        Looking only papers that have been accepted to Science or Nature, the situation may look different, but that has more to do with these journals than with climate science.

      • Pekka Pirilä,

        First, my question was not whether there is any “normal climate science” in the peer reviewed literature, it was whether there are ANY government funded, peer reviewed, published papers that dissent from the CAGW consensus.

        Second, I did as you suggested, and looked at the online January issue of the Journal of Climate. After looking at the abstracts of some of the papers, I came away with a different impression that you suggested.

        From the second: “The temperature rise for a doubling of the CO2 concentration from LGM conditions is 4.3°C and thus notably larger than in the modern case (3°C).”

        From the fourth: “It suggests a hysteresis behavior that is consistent with nonlinear convective adjustment to changes in deep-water formation in the North Atlantic and with the meridional overturning circulation bistability associated with two distinct configurations of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, simulated in response to idealized carbon dioxide increase. ”

        From the sixth: “The anomalies grow as a result of a conversion of mean available potential energy into potential and kinetic energy of the perturbations, reminiscent of baroclinic instability.” (I am assuming that “mean available potential energy” refers to the rise in global temperature, but not having access to the article, this is just my layman’s guess.)

        From the seventh: “Therefore, coupled climate projections that use CAM4 will underpredict Arctic sea ice loss only when dry and stable summer conditions occur.”

        I stopped after 7 as it is early and it was giving me a headache. I do n ot pretend to be a scientist, but the I did not see a single article that presented what could be called a dissenting view, and four of the first seven seemed to fall right in line with that consensus.

        Clearly dissenting views have been published, McIntyre, O’Donnell, etc., but I know of no government funded research that has resulted in such a paper. I am fully prepared to be told that the articles are not as they seem to me, the technical jargon was enough to make me feel like a 6 on Dr. Curry’s scale. But that was why I posed the question in the first place, and will pose it again.

        Can you point to a government funded, peer reviewed, published article that has dissented from the consensus view of anthropogenic global warming and/or its predicted severe consequences?

      • And research funded by Russia, China or India doesn’t count. I mean funded by the U.S., the UK, the UN or the EU.

      • Re: Dr. Moolten’s: ‘Please see my earlier comments on how science advances through a process of evidence-gathering and self-correction. The essence is reproducibility of results, rather than checking up on each other. It’s orders of magnitude more efficient than an exclusive reliance on checking.’

        Coming from medical research, I’m sure you are familiar with the historic examples of what happens when a medical researcher has produced a fallacious result (by error or intent) …..it is assumed to be correct, after-all it was peer-reviewed and appeared in JAMA (or whatever). Other researchers spends gobs of tax-payer provided grant funds following up, and finding what they would expect to find based on the assumption that the original research was valid. When the original research is finally invalidated, years later, the whole house of cards based on it falls, because it was used as ‘given’ in the later studies.

        How much of this do we have in CO2-driven climate science?

      • OMG.

        You. just. really. don’t. get. it.

      • Kate,
        I have to admit, I find it very difficult to craft an intelligent response to your comment.

      • I apologize. My response was directed at Fred. It was an outburst at his verbiage.

        Spence was right:\]. He wrote “I understand why you [Fred] don’t answer – because there is no answer. Your position is not defendable.”

      • Fred –
        I guess I’m saying that I don’t know what Steve is really complaining about, because what he asks for is available.

        Nope – not at all. I’ve also been looking for it and it’s not there.

        1. Basic climate science – is always shrouded in either uncertainty or total certainty. You can’t have it both ways – that doesn’t meet engineering standards.

        2. Something as vital as sensitivity is given “ranges”, most of which are demonstrably not valid just given the most obvious and elementary knowledge/data. And that is backed up by the sheer NUMBER of estimates and the variations in the ranges. Do you know what would happen if, for example, a Shuttle (or any orbital payload) were launched into the wrong “window”? Do you find that kind of sloppiness acceptable? I don’t. So why should I accept it from climate science?

        3. But to get back to the point, there are few, if any, “engineering grade” data sets, reports, studies or other information available to anyone who’s not a level 1. And by observation, not much even there.

        4. Nor has the demonstrated behavior of climate science been of “engineering grade”. No engineer would dare turn in a report without including the data (and code ) on which it was based. Withholding those would automatically invalidate the report – and get the engineer fired. As would refusing to honor an FOIA request.

        5. As was repeatedly pointed out in recent posts, if climate science wants to dictate the rearrangement of the financial affairs and lifestyle of everyone on the planet, then the whining about “being held to unfair standards” is just too dumb for words. If they want that authority, then it comes with automatic responsibility to meet the highest standards. Higher, in fact, than the standards used for something like the Shuttle or the Space Station. Those things would only kill a few people if the standards were sloppy – climate science has the potential to kill millions – or billions.

        Sorry, Fred, but climate science is not engineering grade. And I’ve several times wondered aloud how many climate scientists could make the grade as engineers. Some certainly, but for many…….?

      • I believe he is being somewhat unrealistic in how much to expect in the way of blogosphere explanations of doubled CO2 climate sensitivity and related issues.

        Fred, you misunderstand my point entirely. Blogosphere explanations are not “engineering quality” reports. An engineering study(report) of a mine would probably cost about $10-20 million and take many man-months of work.

        IMO something like this would be far more useful than another literature assessment.

        Unfortunately, scientists apparently do not understand what an engineering-quality report is. The responses that I’ve received to date are not engineering quality reports.

      • I’d settle for a full audit of the data.

        But an engineering report would be damn nice.

      • Steve – We agree that blogosphere assessments are inadequate. I thought I had made that point, but maybe I wasn’t clear. Based on my own familiarity with the literature, I would say that the information you seek is out there, as I mentioned, but must be compiled. If you or someone else has the 10 to 20 million dollars to contract out the effort of doing that, it could probably be done, but why would anyone want to do it otherwise? The climate scientists whose work is impacted don’t need it, because they have already gleaned their information from the multiple sources. As for others, you are probably open-minded enough to respond to such an effort, but most of the interested parties are not, and the politicians assuredly are not.

        I’ve also noticed that Pekka has mentioned some differences between the goals of engineering and science, including climate science. These are epitomized in the observation that the science has arrived not at an exact climate sensitivity figure, but rather a range encompassed by a confidence interval – e.g., 2 to 4.5 C per CO2 doubling. That would be inadequate for an engineering project dependent on narrow tolerances, but as an accurate description of our current knowledge and uncertainty, it’s very informative in estimating the likely impacts of future CO2 increases, even as we struggle to narrow the range. If you expect more, you are expecting something that only the future can deliver, but what we already have shouldn’t be belittled – it’s highly useful information that has been gathered at the expense of considerable skill, dedication, and effort.

      • Sorry, Fred, it sounds like you’re waffling.

        Steve wrote (pretty clearly):

        My own recommendation is an “engineering quality” exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to 3 deg C and to problems. Such an exposition is not a short little article (I’m familiar with these) but a ground-up exposition of the physics of clouds and their parameterizations in GCMs – the way that an engineer would write the report, not a scientist writing an article for Nature.

        And Steve is right.

        Double-talk about the enormous complexity of it all doesn’t get around what Steve is telling the climate science community: keep it straightforward, justify the conclusions reached based on a logical step-by-step process taking all factors into account, acknowledge uncertainties in the data and the conclusions and, above all, keep it completely open and transparent.

        That’s what I would call the basis for an “engineering quality” study.

        And Steve is absolutely right in asking for such a study to justify the conclusion that 2xCO2 CS is 3 deg C (and, believe it or not, it’s not to be found in AR4 WG1).

        Max

      • Since you seem to know a lot about it, can you advise where I can find discussions on:

        1) Water Vapour amplification (and saturation), since WVA is supposed to produce +50% of the warming.
        2) What implications that missing hot spot has for WVA, (looks serious to me).
        3)Whether there is good evidence that low cloud cover increases or decreases in a warming world. (I have seen some evidence for both, but it didnt seem like good evidence).

        (I wouldnt try asking RC because they just wouldnt answer, I’ve tried in the past).

      • Kate,
        Living in Europe, my schedule is out of sync with the most active discussions.

        After a period in basic research, I have worked mostly with engineers and the last 10 years before retiring I was teaching at the Helsinki University of Technology (now part of Aalto University) engineers mainly at the master level but also doctoral students. I see well the points than Steve McIntyre made, but I am also worried about them.

        The climate science is partly basic science, but now it is also research, whose results are used with little delay. This latter aspect of climate science brings part of the work closer to engineering and provides a strong justification for requiring quality controls and procedures similar to engineering analysis. The conflicting criteria of excellence have been an issue that I have been forced to ponder a lot as a professor of a Technical University aiming to combine engineering with academic science similarly to the the best schools in U.S., like MIT or Caltech.

        The basic science has different criteria of excellency. For the basic science the novelty of the results and the efficiency of producing new knowledge has a very large weight, and this aspect is contradictory with strict quality control and well defined procedures. Good quality is of course essential also in basic science, but not to the point, where is restricts creativity.

        Many climate scientist have been educated in the basic science community and have learned its criteria of excellency. Much of the climate science has been done in the world of basic science, but afterwards taken to the world of rapid use to support decision making, i.e. to the world similar to engineering. This fact is likely on reason for the large number of skeptics among engineers – and not only in U.S., where the skepticism is stronger, but also here in Europe, where the status of skepticism is much lower.

        I see a serious dilemma in this situation. Applying two different sets of criteria to the same knowledge and to the same research has contributed very much to the present situation, where critics find concrete support for their criticism, but the scientists believe that they are attacked on false grounds and that the critique is misguided.

        The conflict that has been built on these different views has expanded the disagreement to areas, where none should exist based on the present level of understanding. Scientists are unwilling to discuss uncertainties openly even, when the issues are the same that they are happy to argue about in their closed community. The level 3 and 4 participants have expanded the skeptical claims to issues, where the most knowledgeable skeptics of level 1 (and often 2) agree fully with the main stream scientists.

        I do not believe in storytelling as a solution to this situation, at least I do not believe and any scientist should participate in storytelling with his own name and trying to use the authority of a scientist. By now there are all too many – valid and false, but popular – arguments against these stories. Storytelling may work in informing about an unknown threat, but it doesn’t work in argumentation on a well known and controversial issue. Here the only way for the scientists to get their word through is to explain facts time after time honestly. Trying to explain them as clearly as they can, but without defaulting to unjustified simplifications.

      • Pekka, I would add that there is another feature of climate science that has moved it towards engineering: the construction of GCM and attempt to use them for attribution/prediction. Those are based on equations that are not under active research, and on approximations needed to obtain a tractable model. It is very close to my field (numerical simulation using FE), where the limit between scientist and engineer is extremely porous (if it exist at all). State of the art codes are produced by academic research department attached to hard science or engineering (or both), as well as spinoffs or well established private commercial companies (that often fund or work together with academic research groups)…There is no real difference, apart maybe from the focus to new class of problems or old problem solved in more efficient ways…and even that is not clearly separated.

        The fact that climate science is so engaged in numerical simulations, but seems to insist in a divide between scientist and engineers is extremely strange. I am not sure such divide exists in general (maybe along the line of fundamental versus applied science, or academy versus private? It is not clear exactly what is meant), but for building numerical climate model, such separation makes absolutely no sense imho.

      • Kai,
        I agree – in part.

        In the case of climate science the models have an important role both in producing data for outside the climate science community itself. For that part your comments apply well. The models are, however, also an important tool in learning more about the relevant physical processes. That part is mainly normal basic science. In that use the models may, e.g., help in separating a specific detail from the other influencing factors or in learning about the dynamical behavior of some important subsystem.

        The complexity of the models is an additional consideration. Understanding the models and their relationship to the physics that they are supposed to represent has certainly become very complicated. That leads to a major need in research on numerical modeling in ways not bound to any particular field of application (although certainly affected by the system being modeled). This research is in many ways close to engineering research, and solving similar problems is very important in many engineering applications of large models.

      • Pekka, you said:
        “The models are, however, also an important tool in learning more about the relevant physical processes. That part is mainly normal basic science. In that use the models may, e.g., help in separating a specific detail from the other influencing factors or in learning about the dynamical behavior of some important subsystem.”
        I agree, but again, this is not different from the way other numerical models in fluid or structural dynamic are used. Sometimes, it is during the design phase of a product by engineers, and I guess this is what people usually have in mind when thinking about numerical models.
        But sometimes, the CFD or structural numerical model is used to understand better a phenomenon which is difficult to directly investigate experimentaly. In those case, one can call the user of the simulation code a scientists instead of an engineer, but the model used are of the same class, in fact they are often exactly the same. And the user can even be the same person, just doing different projects.

        In both case, the numerical models should be uses with the same expertise and skepticism, looking for limits and validation against as much experimental data as possible, cross-validating, and remembering at all time that the model is not the reality, and that reality can behave differently if any assumption used in building the model is not valid.

        The penalty for overconfidence in models may be different: either a product that possibly do not meet requirements, or an explanation/theory/hypothesis/prediction that is possibly false and may be debunked by subsequent experiments.

        In both case, it can have dire consequence, and it is not necessarily the first that is more critical: I would prefer to have a tennis racket with a lower than expected fatigue limit (or higher than expected, if you are really cynical about product obsolesence ;-) ) than an overestimated (or underestimated) T/ln(CO2) sensitivity…

        Again, maybe it is just a different understanding of what words means, but I have the feeling that engineer/scientist dichotomy is exagerated. An engineer designing a new class of product have more in common with a scientist investigating a new theory than with an engineering drone checking the same pressure drop abaque for the nth iteration of a release valve, which himself is closer to a PhD student checking for a significant correlation between this medical condition and that genetic marker using the lab genome database…

      • Latimer Alder

        Because engineers are very accustomed to really testing things to see where and why they break?

        Climatologists would not like such detailed and experienced scrutiny. Their case is based on shoddy data, bad statistics and wishful thinking and they know it. The last thing they want is bloody engineers poring all over it trying to find the holes.

        Just believe in it!

      • Latimer,
        How much you know in support of your claims about climate science, how much you guess, and how much you just claim, because it suits to support, what you wish to support?

      • Latimer Alder

        @pekka

        It it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck……….

      • It’s in the eye of beholder.

  39. I speak as an obvious ‘#3’ — Good general university level science education, a lot of experience in a long life of shifting professions, paralleling the computer revolution, lived past many of the outrageously hyped doom-and-gloom projections, and sharp with numbers.

    I must be shown the following:

    1) The hypothesis, which must be falsifiable.
    2) What experiment has been done and that it has been carefully laid out well enough to falsify your null hypothesis (and thus support your original hypothesis).
    3) What you did exactly, all the nasty details, how you controlled for every possible confounding factor (or didn’t control for this one and that…and why not, and how that might affect your findings).
    4) Your conclusion and how it follows from your data (and not your beliefs, feelings, hunches, or desire to please your funding agency or university tenure board).

    Then, and only then, will I listen to your opinion about what it might mean.

    But now, you have to answer all the questions and all the challenges raised by your peers and serious critics. Answer them thoroughly and honestly, admitting when you don’t know, admitting errors or oversights, calling for specific further actions to fill in the holes pointed out.

    When you’ve done all that, publicly and openly, then with some follow-up experiments, we will have one useful, mostly nailed-down little piece of the puzzle (subject to change as new data and ideas come down the pike).

    Without all that, you’re wasting your own time, a lot of paper (in journals still being printed on dead trees) or server space, and a lot of your peer’s and everyone else’s time going down false trails and chasing down elusive imaginary butterflies.

    There has been precious little of this type of dedicated science in the climate field – at least very little that has reached the general (or even the interested amateur) public. What makes the press is so obviously hyped and slanted, with conclusions and opinions stretched far beyond anything supported by the data. I refer mostly to the press releases from universities and government agencies about studies, but often the original papers and authors are just, if not more, guilty.

    What I don’t want to hear is: “Because I say so and I have a PhD”, “Listen to the experts”, “If you don’t like it, prove it isn’t true”, “What would you know?”, “Who do you think you are to question me?” and the thousands of variations we read in the popular press from a certain segment of ‘Official Climate Science’. I don’t want to be force-fed ‘conclusions by consensus’ (or ‘conclusions-by-funding’).

    And don’t put it all behind a paywall intended solely to keep out the intellectual rabble, especially if I have already paid for the research with my taxes.

  40. There is so much talk of storytelling but I can’t get past the example of understanding el nino and predicting what will happen in 100 years with the climate. I am aPhD chemist and have seen my share of data that is difficult to interpret or understand. The one thing that I have always been careful about is extrapolation vs. Interpolation. If you are running a process and have experimented two extreme conditions then you can make a pretty good prediction if you have a new set of conditions that falls between the extreme. Predicting what will happen in the next el nino / la Nina cycle generally falls in the category of interpolation so is often skillful. Predicting the weather in 100 years with more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a completely different and an extraordinarily bold extrapolation even if the climate models worked really well at making shorter range predictions. But as the UK Met office have shown with their seasonal forecasts for the UK, they are not skillful 3 months out. Add to that there is does not even seem to be consensus on something as fundamental as wether or not clouds warm or cool the climate and it’s clear that climate predictions are on not yet on firm ground. Climate science does knot need better stories as communication tools, they need much better understanding of the phenomena in the climate.

    • Are you really saying that you think the Met Office should be able to predict the weather more acurately three months into the future before you think their predictions for 100 years into the future are believable?

      That just doesn’t make sense.

      I know that my grandson will probably be over six foot tall when he is 20 because both of his parents are tall but I have no idea how tall he’ll be on his sixth birthday.

      See the parallels?

      • I bet you you know how tall he’ll be next month though.

      • which is the equivalent of the Met Office knowing that it’ll rain tomorrow or that it’ll be warmer in August than in January.

        I still wouldn’t expect them to find predicting the weather in three months to be easier than predicting the climate in 100 years.

      • Do you think it’s harder making a seasonal forecast three months out using GCM’s? Long range forecast meteorologists using analogous ocean and atmospheric set ups usually do better. By using GCM’s where they are not appropriate, the models are shown not to be skillful and the judgement of the modelers comes into question as well.

      • Louise,

        The relationship between the adult height of parents and that of their children has been pretty well recognized since the neolithic, we can imagine. If climate science relationships and derived predictions are as well as demonstrated as your height parallel, then your point is well made.

        On the other hand, a better parallel might be a prediction of your grandson’s annual income at age 35 based on his parent’s current annual income with appropriate consideration of inflation/deflation among other factors.

        Of the two parallels offered above, why do you favor the height parallel over the other? In other words, are climate science predictions more like those of the science of genetics or the “science” of economics–especially on a multi-decadal basis?

      • Louise,
        You say that your grandson will be over six foot because it is in his genes. I do accept that is likely. My four children are all taller than I am. Let us take that idea and run with it. In the past ten thousand years, the warmest time was during the Medieval Warm Period and the coldest time was in the Little Ice age that followed. For the past ten thousand years, stable temperature was in the earth’s genes. We will most likely stay in this very wonderful, very stable, temperature range for many years to come. Climate Theory and Climate Models that say different are most likely wrong. One Molecule of Manmade CO2 per ten thousand Molecules of other gases will not change that. You are saying what has happened will happen again. The Consensus Climate Scientists are saying that what has happened will not happen again. Thank you for this really good example.

  41. Judith states that:

    “BIll Hooke’s idea of switching the conversation is also a good one and suggests some possible new story lines:
     water, food and energy for a growing global population: combine energy economics and security, environmental quality, agriculture, climate change/variability in the context of a discussion of global sustainability.
     reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones): infrastructure, emergency management, better forecasts and warning systems (days, weeks, months).
     others?
    So does switching the conversation away from global warming mean that we should just give up on the idea of dealing with CO2 and energy policy? Not at all, there are plenty of other reasons for addressing these issues in the context of energy economics and security and environmental quality and public health.”

    I would extend her argument further and state there it is not necessary to deal with CO2 and energy policy as coupled issues. It seems clear to me that political events in the past few weeks have shown as crude oil price increases above $100/bbl and gasoline prices in the US approach $4/gal, the events have nothing to do with GW. Therefore, IMO, water, food and energy for a growing global population issues should be addressed as separate but very important issues. Likewise, reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events is an issue that can and should be addressed as a separate but very important issue.

    Climate scientists can and should provide their insights to some of but not all of these issues.

    • However, when you take concerns about carbon and climate off the table, the “alternatives” left on the table include such things as Fischer-Tropsch coal liquefaction. So concerns about energy security don’t automatically lead to the same carbon policy that climate concerns lead to, in fact in the US, they lead to the opposite. The quickest, surest way for the US to become more energy independent is to exploit domestic carbon and hydrocarbon resources more.

      • “…when you take concerns about carbon and climate off the table, the “alternatives” left on the table include such things as Fischer-Tropsch coal liquefaction. So concerns about energy security don’t automatically lead to the same carbon policy that climate concerns lead to, in fact in the US, they lead to the opposite.”

        IMO, ” taking concerns about carbon and climate off the table” does not limit the alternatives “left on the table” in any waym shape, or manner. e.g., nuclear power generation.

      • Except that the comment was specifically aimed at the short-term. If you’re going to talk about the likelihood of viability of any given technology, you have to do that in a time bracket. The nuclear electricity/electric car paradigm might (emphasis on might) start to gain serious penetration starting in 2030. That time frame doesn’t do any good for the present national security or balance of trade issues.

        Even taking Obama’s million electric cars by 2015 at face value, that’s what? 1%? That’s nonresponsive to the national security and balance of trade issues, which are immediate.

      • I didn’t interpret Judith’s comment to be aimed at the the near-term. My focus is certainly on the long-term. I’m suggesting that it might be helpful to decouple CO2/AGW from what I consider to be other important issues.

      • I was just responding to the idea that the other issues recommend the same action. They don’t. Decoupling is a good thing, but don’t be shocked if the set of solutions change when the concerns change.

        Anybody old enough to remember Jimmy Carter and the “energy crisis” of his era knows that the slate of solutions that were being discussed then were very different from what they call “green energy” now. the difference isn’t technology (which wasn’t really changed much in 35 years). It’s carbon.

        Which brings us to another issue. As Pielke Sr. keeps pointing out, not all anthropogenic warming is greenhouse. It would be a catastrophe of major proportions if the world jumped head first into a major decarbonization program, only to learn a couple decades later that the major forcings were land use and black soot and other things other than CO2. Getting this right isn’t optional.

  42. Ones, twos, threes, and fours, something tells me that this isn’t serious sociology, but I get the drift. As a lay person (I’ll take a five or more in this proposed caste system) I would like to read about a particular scientist with a particular accomplishment attached to his name. All I can think of in climate science is Keeling of the Keeling Curve. Maybe the twos and threes need to attach a particular accomplishment to whomever they are going to call a one. For better or worse, settled science is often something that has a particular name attached to it. As things stand now, when I think of climate science I think all the feet of clay revealed when the climategate curtain got pulled back. Would it be inappropriate for a mere 5 like me to remark that anyone in any way attached to a “hide the decline” statement is unlikely to become a hero of science. The other great icon of climate science is a peculiar fellow named James Hansen earnestly embarked on adventures in civil disobedience. Is he what you’re calling a one?

    In lieu of the number one scientist with the particular accomplishment attached to his name, I would also accept a top notch science writer who understands the misapprehensions of the lay reader and lays out the debate in a fair way. So far, the late Michael Crichton has done a lot better job expressing his skepticism that CO2 is a problem of dire proportions than anyone on the other side has done explaining to me why it is the sky is falling. The message coming from the sky-is-falling camp seems to be: trust me, the sky is indeed falling, but I can’t be bothered explaining it to you in civil tones.

  43. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, the climate paradigm has been changing so the message may need to change as well; a moving target. Tomas Milanovic has offered a framework for new thoughts and processes to describe weather/climate. For me, I have to try on the notion for a while to see if weather/climate is spatio-temporal deterministic chaos. I listen, read and re-read. It takes me quite a while to understand what I am trying to embrace. At this point, from the comments on STC I have read so far, I don’t think the “climate scientists,” your #1’s, are listening to new paradigms as such a paradigm mandates a rethink, that is, consider such a paradigm as plausible; hence, moves the 1’s out of their comfort zone. As for the other categories: 2’s, 3’s & 4’s the dialogue, such as it is, is usually from an experiential basis. As the Ground Hog poked its head out of the log and didn’t see its shadow forecasting an early Spring, and the snows, and in particular the cold just keeps coming 5 weeks later, the 4’s don’t put too much stock into a rodent’s weather forecast; the 4’s blow it off as a nice story, not to be taken seriously. Same thing for climate science trying to influence the 2’s & 3’s. If the science is not consistent with the knowledge base of 2’s and 3’s where it is applicable, then climate science, at least for this group, is dead in the water. So the message to all groups is different and the message receiver elects just how much energy they are willing to devote to understanding and fitting the message into one’s constructs & behaviors. Ignoring seems to be the populist paradigm.

  44. Sean, you forget that the extrapolations are not deterministic like a chemical model. They are scenarios with a very large acknowledged amount of uncertainty. Heuristics to enable planning for the future.

    I agree that uncertainty is substantial, especially regarding regional scale impacts. However I see this a a strong stimulous for following no regrets policies and pursuing a risk adverse robust methodology of planning a policy.

    • And praytell, who will you have enforce this policy, Mr. Chu?

    • The uncertainties at this state of the art in climate science are huge. But what would uyou call a no regrets policy? Turning 40% of the US corn crop into ethanol while grain commodities have reached record levels? Or folks in the UK looking at using electricity when its available rather than when it is needed? Anything we do or don’t do has consequences.

    • What no regrets policies do you have in mind? The way I see it, there is no such thing here. All policies that significantly reduce CO2 output have some very negative consequences to people.

  45. Judith, you say your “hypothesis is that effective communication and engagement level 2′s and 3′s is a prerequisite to effective communication with level 4′s. Climategate was mostly about a failure to engage constructively and effectively with level 2′s and 3′s, and also skeptical level 1′s.”

    Hmmm. I think what happened pre-Climategate was that a very select and corrupt group of #1s attempted to sell their story directly to the #4s. Not to make any credible ‘scientific’ case but simply to rally the political clout to push this project through. That is evident by what has appeared in the mainstream media. This has been about politics all the time, just using a facade of ‘science’ as their sales pitch.

    So all this talk about collegial discussions about ‘the science’ actually misses the point, at least in the past tense. Hopefully the discussion will get back to that, but that will first require purging of the political advocates who have been masquerading as scientists. There is no point trying to build bridges to those people now. These people use Machiavellian methods and the only logical counter to this is more of the same.

    Moreover, your hierarchy which puts PhDs who are publishing at the top ignores what we did learn from Climategate about the corruption of the publishing process. It also ignores that in this field, a baboon can get a PhD if they go with the AGW groupthink. PhDs just ain’t what they used to be.

    So, while I appreciate you trying to play ‘nice,’ I don’t see the point.

  46. I’ve seem some attempt in this thread to equate story telling with making stuff up. One does not predict the other nor require it. One of the best science story tellers is James Burke (http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/james-burke-connections/). While he did not offer a lot of scientific depth in his Connections series, he developed a marvelous way of bringing together disparate objects from different times and places to form a continuous story line that, when seen in whole, explained a hell of a lot.

    It was with that method in mind I (I confess to being a store teller) slipped the bud of a story into another thread here recently by invoking a solitary erratic rock in Oregon that, when the entirety of its travels are known, leaves the audience and presenter with a broad range of climate, geography, natural forces, and the importance of considering time in any analysis. I don’t mean to drag this erratic out as Oliver does Eisenhower, but it is helpful to know and understand how a piece of sea floor from the time before multicellular life and when earth was considered a frozen snowball found its way to a hilltop in Oregon.

    Just as understanding the significance of the Cosquer Cave in France is critical to understanding the stunning difference between the scale of a climate change that reverses an ice age then and the current 0.4ºC temperature change over a 100 year period we are willing to destroy national fortunes to reverse. Understanding that cave provides perspective regarding climate changes the earth is capable of even when there are no SUVs around. It also demonstrates that people – very primitive people, coped, and went on to build nuclear bombs and Shakespearean theater.

    Well told stories that show how the world has changed in time frames meaningful to the lay audience can create or destroy belief for or against a scienctific hypotheses, and lay people vote. And if you don’t think votes matter, pay attention to the fallout from the last two general elections in the US. And to understand better how easy it is to impact votes ask a broad spectrum of people anywhere who it was that said she could see Russia from her house. That is a frightening poll.

    A good story teller can present an image like this: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Ice_Age_Temperature.png and make it perfectly understandable by simply asking people “In this time line we are now here. The vertical presents previous climates. What do you imagine will happen next?” and people will state the obvious. It is going to get very cold. The right or wrong of it matters less than the easy with which a good picture and caption will get the desired results.

    And time matters! It was time alone that silenced the 1970s global cooling nutters and showed us we were witnessing a cycle just as we are now witnessing a cycle.

    So – seeing that image, what do you suppose is the next big thing in climate?

    • There’s nothing wrong in and of itself with a scientist “telling a story”. A brilliant example of that was Feynman’s cargo cult science talk. Which is quite relevant to the climate story today, if you really understand what he was trying to say.

  47. The solutions to your 2 priorities are obvious, Judith.

    1) Food: maximize CO2 in the atmosphere.

    2) Adaptation: do good civil engineering.

    Both of these are anathema to the Warmists.

  48. Arnold Schwarzenegger has just said:

    “I’m not a big believer in the guilt trip that has happened; in the Al Gore type of philosophy where you make people feel guilty,”

    Let’s just reframe it.

    Arnold must surely think his former state # 4’s as complete idiots.

  49. Jeffrey Davis

    Stories. Schmories.

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

    and

    “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”

  50. “Right now, the field of climate science is struggling to generate support for predictions of environmental calamity that have not yet been realized. Climate models indicate a dire future, ”

    This is another case of putting the cart before the horse.

    The Field of Climate Science should be attempting to understand climate. It is NOT the purpose of a field of science to generate support for specific predictions. Once you jump that line you are a politician or a lobbyist and are no longer operating as a scientist.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Nonsense. Scientists are people. Not angels above the world and life.

      • Holly Stick

        And they have childrena and grandchildrem whose future they care about. They also have the guts to face reality that the climate is changing and this will have drastic effects on the lives of their children and grandchildren.

      • And the implication is that other technically knowledgeable people who demand a higher level of proof are knowingly sending their kids and grandkids into oblivion. Really?

      • Definition of climate scientist: One whose children have had children.

      • Michael Larkin

        Holly,

        You want guts? I daresay if I knew a cataclysm was impending, I’d have as much guts as the next man. Guts ain’t the issue. What’s at issue is whether one knows for sure what is going to happen. Do you know for sure? Or do you only think you know for sure? If the latter, and you act inappropriately, you could cause more harm than if you did nothing. At the very least, you could end up worriting over nowt.

      • Holly Stick

        The commenters here often sleazily accuse climate scientists of faking AGW for dishonest reasons.

        Here’s a hint, fools: they really believe it is happening and that we all need to be able to deal with the effects.

      • Can anyone remind me why this person is resorting to namecalling?

      • So what if they believe it?
        That does not make it true.

      • Holly Stick,
        And skeptics are evil and hate their children and grandchildren?
        Your arguments are not getting stronger.

      • Then why have you placed your faith in them?

  51. “Scientists are people. Not angels above the world and life.”

    Jeffery,

    This is a good point. Since scientists are People, they are capable of being as dishonest or dishonorable as the most dishonest or dishonorable among rest of us People. Very good point.

    Andrew

    • All humans are political and economic animals, with a tendency to groupthink, including those trained in science.

      • Al: If everyone has a tendency towards groupthink, than it doesn’t really change anything.

        I would also go further and suggest that scientists trained in thinking objectively are less likely to engage in groupthink.

      • That is the way it should be. But too many faculties, particularly in the ‘save the world’ fields, do promote groupthink. And this is worse in some institutions than others, largely depending on the particular tenured profs, etc. and other predicatble factors.

        Bottom line with groupthink is being aware of it and, if courageous, resisting it when necessary. Easier not to. Indeed, when you become a leader of it, like Mann did for example, your career skyrockets… as long as that particular groupthink prevails. But, of course, change is the only constant and now we have what we have.

      • Uh, joe –
        Where do you think those scientists are trained to think objectively?
        We’ve seen scientists here who were honest enough to admit that they were never trained like that. Nor have I seen a lot of scientists who had much knowledge of science history or philosophy. Somehow those things seem to be bypassed by a lot of them.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      Bad Andrew,

      This surprises you? Some scientists would even do things like testify on behalf of the killers in the tobacco industry.

      Jeffrey

      • Jeffery,

        It doesn’t surprise me in the least. And having observed the Global Warming issue for a few years I have come to expect bad behavior from Climate Scientists in particular. More pathetic than surprising.

        Andrew

      • Holly Stick

        Do you not realise that some of the scientists who lied about tobacco are also prominent climate change deniers?

      • Didn’t know that Holly. Why don’t you give us the details?

        Andrew

      • Try “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway. Fred Singer and Fred Seitz have been on the wrong (i.e. industry-funded) side of the scientific consensus for:

        1) tobacco and cancer
        2) sulfur and acid rain
        3) CFCs and the ozone hole
        4) carbon dioxide and global warming

      • “Fred Singer and Fred Seitz”

        Don’t know who they are. Got references?

        Andrew

      • Seitz is deceased, and Singer isn’t all that relevant; newcomers to this debate probably haven’t heard of either. Trying to blame skepticism on Seitz and Singer is nonsensical, IMO.

      • Holly Stick

        Heartland Institute. You should have heard of it:

        “…How could anyone take seriously a group that took money from tobacco companies and downplayed the harmful effects of tobacco and then moved on to take money from oil companies and said global warming is all a big hoax?…”

        http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-institute-and-academy-tobacco-studies

        Speaking of corruption…

      • So industry is by definition always wrong? Where is this written?

      • Dear Judith: I’m not blaming either of them for skepticism. Seitz and Singer (and a few others) were the main actors responsible for framing the arguments against anthropogenic climate change. Their influence is evidenced by the repetition of their positions on this blog and others.

        From Oreskes and Conway: ” …[T]hey dismissed the reality of global warming. First they claimed there was none, then they claimed it was just natural variation, and then they claimed that even it was happening and it was our fault, it didn’t matter because we could just adapt to it. ” (P.7)

        Sound familiar? Or maybe its deja vu all over again? Dismissing the influence of Seitz and Singer out of hand is, IMO, a good example of confirmation bias.

      • Trying to blame skepticism on Seitz and Singer is nonsensical, IMO. …

        joe speaks to this above – but you are conflating skepticism with “denialism.” Now you’re essentially saying that they are the same thing, but earlier you were saying that they are unconnected.

        The point is that “denialism,” passed off as skepticism, has some roots deeply embedded in political soil. Further, there continues to be crossover between “denialism” and skepticism. Your contention that there is no linkage puts your analysis of “tribalism” among “warmists” in doubt, IMO.

      • Joshua, Holly
        I would be very interested to read your definitions of climate denialism and skepticism. Please could you provide them?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        If you remember the old Vaughn Meader record, “Don’t put me on, Mr. Nkrumah.” is the apt quote. Singer and Seitz hardly exhaust the list of scientists with connection to tobacco among denialists.

      • Dr Curry, you say “Singer isn’t all that relevant” yet he is a guest poster at that most influential blog whatsupwiththat.com where he recently stated “the most serious revelation from the e-mails is that they tried to “hide the decline” in temperatures, using various “tricks” in order to keep alive a myth of rising temperatures in support of the dogma of anthropogenic global warming.” http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/19/fred-singer-on-the-best-project/

        Bearing in mind that WUWT was recently voted ‘Best Science Blog’ do you really think that he (Singer) has NO influence with level 3s and 4s?

        Why don’t you bite the bullet and state out loud that he is wrong?

      • Louise
        I think if you can bear to read the comments of that post you will find that most of the people there highlighted Singer’s error.

      • I did read the comments.

        I just wondered why Dr Curry dismissed him as having no relevance yet he is a guest poster at the ‘Best Science Blog’

        There were as many posters willing to say “Go Singer, yeah” as there were pointing out his error (which is still uncorrected).

        Why doesn’t Dr Curry come out and denounce the Singers of the world in the way she denounces the IPCC tribe? I have shown that he is not irrelevant (guest poster at influential climate blog) so that is not the reason so what is?

      • Louise. I have never denounced a tribe, and particularly have not denounced any individuals in any tribe. I have stated that tribalism has caused problems in the debate on climate science (read my original tribalism post at climateaudit). The IPCC “tribe” is far more coherent than the skeptics “tribe”, which is very diffuse and with many factions that don’t agree with each other.

      • “When I refer to the IPCC dogma, it is the religious importance that the IPCC holds for this cadre of scientists; they will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC” – Judith

      • I heard that the DeSmogblog founder was arrested for Internet gambling payment-related matters.

        Nice references those, Holly. I am pretty sure I want to listen to a businessman who handles online gambling finances about the scientific validity of tobacco research, rather than a retired scientist who worked with the US government.

      • Since you didn’t bother to back up your claims, here’s some links:
        http://www.desmogblog.com/about

        http://www.johnlefebvre.com/index_biography.php

      • Thanks Holly. Your ‘citation’ supports what I wrote. That was really helpful.

      • Louise
        Putting all the snark and cut ‘n thrust aside for a moment, I would sincerely like to understand why Judith Curry’s views are so important to you? You have written many similar remarks before and I can’t for the life of me understand why you put in so much effort to the same end. What difference can it make to ‘your side’ of the argument? She is one amongst many surely?

      • Damn. Made a mess of the thread nesting. That was in reply to Louise at 4.02pm 7th March

      • RobB – it’s about trusting Dr Curry’s judgement.

        I would like to do so – that’s why I hang out here, read her posts, comment, etc.

        Dr Singer is clearly not ‘irrelevant’ in the blogosphere and so I’m curious as to why Dr Curry states that he is. Why doesn’t she come out and say that he’s wrong? What’s holding her back when she didn’t feel the same restraint towards the IPCC tribe?

      • Re Fred Singer, his scientific arguments don’t get much play in the technical climate blogosphere. He does get much air time on the more politicized climate blogs, and places like deltoid and tenney naumer and desmog mention him alot. So the “irrelevant” reference was to the technical climate blogosphere. In the broader political debate, i’m not so sure what his relevance is, but he is certainly a favored whipping in the climate debate, his status in this regard enhanced by his stance on tobacco. If you have a particular statement or article of his you would like me to critique, let me know. I don’t dismiss individual people, but I will critique their arguments.

      • RobB –
        I would sincerely like to understand why Judith Curry’s views are so important to you? You have written many similar remarks before and I can’t for the life of me understand why you put in so much effort to the same end.

        Louise, Holly, Sarah, Martha, Joshua and others are all in the same box and, in many ways, are nearly indistinguishable from each other. Dr Curry has her own views on a number of different issues that don’t exactly mirror the “consensus” viewpoint. And that doesn’t please the choir. So they keep trying to pound that square peg into that round hole by getting her to admit to “their” viewpoint – even when it’s provably wrong.

        It’s annoying – it’s dumb – and it’s characteristic of a subset of those who accept the consensus without question. They simply cannot accept that a “scientist” would break ranks and disagree with their dogma. In truth, not at all different from religious zealots.

      • But he’s a guest poster on the ‘Best Science Blog’

        If we’re talking about influencing level 3s and 4s, surely that’s where a lot of them my migrate?

        He may be irrelevant in mainstream science blogs but that’s not where the 3s and 4s hang out. Why don’t you just state out loud that he’s wrong and that his comment on WUWT was wrong? Afterall, as RobB pointed out, many of the comments there said that he was wrong. What is stopping you from joining them?

        I really don’t understand your reluctance bearing in mind your willingness to hold the IPCC tribe to account when most of their blog postings are ignored or possibly out of reach of the 3s and 4s.

      • Louise, do you know how many guest posters there have been at WUWT in the last year? I don’t know either, but it is a large number. Perhaps you would like to provide a link to singer’s post at WUWT so people can see what you are referring to, i took a quick scroll through and didn’t spot it. And then I can comment on it.

      • Gotta say, this has to be one of the worst blog comment interfaces I’ve come across.

        Just to be clear, this isn’t a response to RobB (who has established no interest in good faith debate with me) – it is a response to Judith:

        So the “irrelevant” reference was to the technical climate blogosphere. In the broader political debate, i’m not so sure what his relevance is, but he is certainly a favored whipping in the climate debate, his status in this regard enhanced by his stance on tobacco.

        Judith, you stated earlier that the “spawn” of the “tribalism” was the IPCC. Singer (and Seitz, and others) were connected to anti-AGW rhetoric and rightwing funding on climate change as well as other politically relevant issues.

        What are the criteria that you use to dismiss the influence of the political influence of events prior to the IPCC publishing statements to locate the origin of “tribalism” in the IPCC?

        Both Seitz and Singer are relevant for more than just their connection to tobacco denialism (which in itself, IMO, relevant to the larger political framework).

        For example, from Wikipedia:

        –snip–
        In 1984 Seitz was the founding chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute,[16] and was its chairman until 2001.[17][18] The Institute was founded to argue for President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative,[19] but “in the 1990s it branched out to become one of the leading think tanks trying to debunk the science of climate change. A 1990 report co-authored with Institute co-founders Robert Jastrow and William Nierenberg “centrally informed the Bush administration’s position on human-induced climate change”.[22] The Institute also promoted environmental skepticism more generally. In 1994, the Institute published a paper by Seitz titled Global warming and ozone hole controversies: A challenge to scientific judgment. Seitz questioned the view that CFCs “are the greatest threat to the ozone layer”.[23] In the same paper, commenting on the dangers of secondary inhalation of tobacco smoke, he concluded “there is no good scientific evidence that passive inhalation is truly dangerous under normal circumstances.”[24]
        Seitz was a central figure among skeptics of global warming.[4][25] He was the highest-ranking scientist among a band of doubters who, beginning in the early 1990s, resolutely disputed suggestions that global warming was serious threat.[26] Seitz argued that the science behind global warming was inconclusive and “certainly didn’t warrant imposing mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions”.[26] Seitz questioned whether global warming is anthropogenic.[27]

        –snip–

        And

        –snip–
        >i>In the early 1990s, while officially “on leave” from the University of Virginia, Singer set up the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy with the help of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and with funding support from the Unification Church (also known as “Moonies,” followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church).
        This organisation worked closely with Elizabeth Whelan and Frederick Stare’s American Council on Science and Health in countering climate activism as it related to the chemical industry.[8] Later Singer’s organisation changed into the Science and Environmental Policy Project with funding from the coal and oil industries and some support from PR firm APCO & Associates.
        SEPP, in turn, sloughed off a European branch named International Center for a Scientific Ecology (ICSE), in Paris, which was run by science journalist and SEPP associate Michel Salomon [9] Along with Steve Milloy at The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) and Roger Bate at the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF) (a sort of European version of TASSC) these organisations all pushed the climate-denier and “junk science” lines on behalf of large corporate interest groups.
        Salomon was a member of the Board of Science Advisors of SEPP [10] and with Singer, he organised the Heidelberg conference which resulted in the infamous Heidelberg Appeal document. The legitimate scientists who signed this appeal intended it to be a request for governments to heed the opinion of scientists before engaging in the wholesale removal of asbestos fibers from schools and other buildings, since in many cases it was safer to leave it in situ with resin bonding. However it was drafted by Salomon and Singer in very general terms.
        In these general terms, it appeared to be an attack on climate activism. It was later used in a conference of climate-deniers at the George Mason University in Washington, D.C. to promote U.S. support. The ICSE, SEPP, TASSC and ESEF also promoted the Heidelberg Appeal at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit as evidence of worldwide scientific opposition to the conference’s consensus decision that governments needed to take urgent action on climate change.[11]
        –snip–

        Why are the activities of Singer and Seitz not relevant to the origins of tribalism? Is it not plausible that such politically targeted efforts to “debunk” the climate of science change – initiated well before the IPCC issued (most of) the reports that you assert were the “spawn” of tribalism – contributed to mindset of the IPCC?

      • Joshua, what I have stated is my opinion and my assessment. Relevance is in the eye of the beholder it seems. I have written thousands of words on this topic in previous essays and more recently at Climate Etc., I don’t see the point of rehashing this now. I am familiar with all the history you cite. I don’t think it matters that much, see my Blame post. http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/14/blame-on-heartland-cato-marshall-etc/. My opinion, my assessment, my judgment, you are of course free to disagree.

      • Judith – I’ve read that thread; there’s a lot of good information there.

        That said, once again, I just don’t get how you can dismiss coordinated and politically motivated attacks on climate scientists and theories of AGW prior to the IPCC’s reports as irrelevant to the “tribalism” which you say was “spawned” by the IPCC.

        IMO, that is like saying the political dimensions of the debate began with the first IPCC report. It seems very obvious to me that they didn’t.

        I’ll look through that thread again – maybe I just missed your explanation – but from what I have seen you have alternated in your responses (first it was that an imbalance of funding sources for research justifies your conclusions about the roots of the tribalism being attributable to “warmists,” then it was that seemingly plausible arguments by “warmists” – that is seems you didn’t even read – can simply be dismissed because they need to “get over it,” then it was that there are no connections between different groups on the “denialist” side of the debate, and now it that the political roots of anti-AGW rhetoric that preceded the IPCC just aren’t relevant to the political context of the IPCC reports). Others have argued that the reason for you to be unconcerned with establishing clear objectivity is that you need to balance the invalid rhetoric, but that doesn’t seem logical as the overall issue is too large for one person to come anywhere close to putting such a large system in balance

        I want to be clear that I respect you opinions, but I still find your assessment to be problematic.

      • Judith
        I haven’t time to post a link just now as we are in the middle of lambing. However, Louise’s objection to Singer’s post at WUWT relates to the ‘hide the decline’ matter from climategate. In his post, Singer briefly talks about an email suggesting the hiding of a decline in temperatures when he should have said hiding the decline in temperatures as suggested by the proxy data since 1960s ish. Whether he meant what he wrote or just made a mistake is moot. He was wrong as pointed out by many commentators at WUWT but in the general scheme of things it is a small matter requiring a quick correction. That’s all.

      • That proves precisely what?

      • And some would arrange to speak in a Hearing room that was deliberately over heated and make up lies about Earth turning into Venus.

      • That’s really funny – a conspiracy theory to turn the central heating up. I’ve heard it all now.

      • Louise,
        Now quoting history is a conspiracy theory?
        is your historical illiteracy possibly why you are such a naive true believer?
        “Hansen has long employed stagecraft for political gain. On June 23, 1988, he delivered his testimony in an unusually toasty hearing room. Why was it so warm? As then-Sen. Tim Wirth (D., Colo.), told ABC’s Frontline: “We went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right, so that the air conditioning wasn’t working inside the room . . . it was really hot.”
        http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9510

    • Out of interest, what percentage do you think are dishonest? Can the honest ones be allowed to teach the public?

      • “Out of interest, what percentage do you think are dishonest?”
        100% of the ones that push Global Warming.

        “Can the honest ones be allowed to teach the public?”
        Yes.

        Andrew

      • Explain what you mean.

      • Global Warming is a lie. Those who sell it are liars.

        Is my explanation reasonably understandable?

        Andrew

      • Was Arrhenius a liar? How about Tyndall? And what about the scientists who followed them and the greenhouse effect?
        Maybe radiative transfer is a lie and the people founding that go back to Planck, Einstein and Bohr. Which of these do you not trust?
        Where do you draw the line as to what is lies and what is science?
        greenhouse effect: yes/no
        radiative transfer: yes/no
        quantum mechanics: yes/no
        They follow smoothly from each other, so any yes’s put you on a slippery slope.

      • Jim D,

        The AGW by CO2 hypothesis has been supported in theory many times but has yet to prove itself out by measured data. Until the hypothesis is proved by observation, then it remains just a hypothesis.

        The problem I have been having is that the hypothesis changes with each story. I always thought the original hypothesis of AGW by CO2 (ie CO2 is the magical global thermostat) is what is being tested, but it seems with each new story, the hypothesis changes. To be fair, I have not seen any “consensus” on just which hypothesis is being tested and, in turn, what the null hypothesis is.

        So while there may be scientific foundation for the hypothesis, there is no proof that the hypothesis is first of all scientifically supported by observation and secondly can be used to produce any particular result with any degree of certainty.

        So one can accept the scientific foundation for the hypothesis yet still refuse to accept the hypothesis of AGW by CO2 until it is scientifically proven by observation

      • The point was, would you call it lying or dishonest to have the AGW hypothesis to explain the current warming trend, while they also make it clear that one of the uncertainties is cloud feedback? To me, it is fine to have a hypothesis with uncertainties and not dishonest at all to specify them as they do whenever they talk about the feedback and 2-4.5 C range. So I only objected to that language.

      • It’s elementary, Jim D.

        Anyone who says or implies Global Warming without then presenting all the complexities, uncertainties, limitations, meanings and guesses associated with the issue, is not telling the truth.

        Andrew

      • Jeffrey Davis

        This is interesting. (And by “interesting” I mean “baffling”).

        Who here believes that error bars and uncertainties aren’t a standard part of IPCC papers?

        Apparently, 98% of you. Which is interesting (and by that I mean “maddening, infuriating, comic, despairing, cramping, and projectile vomit-inducing”) to anyone who has actually even opened up an IPCC report. Error bars. Degrees of confidence. The whole kit’n’kaboodle.

        As in, oh, 2 STDDEV error bars in (wait for it … wait for it …) MBH98’s famous graph. (Didn’t see that coming, eh?)

        In short, people here seem to complain about absolutely nothing at all. Apparently there are people who feel themselves aggrieved and so like to complain. (Interesting? Not interesting?)

      • Jeffrey,

        There are lots of people who believe in ‘Global Warming’ who wouldn’t know the IPCC from IHOP. They literally do not know what they are doing. You might be one of those kinds of people. If you only regurgitate what someone else has said, then you definately are.

        Andrew

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Andrew,

        There are lots of people who deny ‘Global Warming’ who wouldn’t know the IPCC from IHOP. They literally do not know what they are doing. You might be one of those kinds of people. If you only regurgitate what someone else has said, then you definately are.

        Jeffrey

        (Some fun, huh? In point of fact, I didn’t regurgitate anyone’s words, fella. I pointed out that what you said didn’t make any sense in light of the facts.)

      • And they always present their uncertainty ranges, if you look at what the scientists themselves publish, so this point is moot. Second-hand stuff on these blogs or in the press may not accurately reflect these uncertainties.

      • Arrhenius recanted his far too high 1896 paper’s sensitivity conclusions in his 1906 paper. His 1906 paper has a much lower sensitivity number than the preposterous UN/IPCC estimate. Of course, the alarmist crowd never mentions Arrhenius’ 1906 paper. That would be throwing in the towel.

        The global temperature has been flat to declining for more than the past decade, therefore the belief that CO2 has any more than a minuscule effect is becoming increasingly untenable. Even a #9 could see that.

        And if the many $billions in annual government funding grants were eliminated, there would suddenly be one less tribe – the same bought and paid for alarmist tribe that consistently ignores the scientific method, while calling scientific skeptics [the only honest kind of scientist] “deniers.”

  52. Individual who gets their climate information from the mainstream media or talk radio

    By virtue of what logic or criteria is talk radio not “mainstream media?”

  53. David L. Hagen

    Judith
    Attributing opposite stories to the same cause lost me.
    e.g. AGW will cause warming which will cause snow to disappear.
    Then AGW is the cause for massively greater snowstorms.
    On top of that, David Stockman at Niche Modeling exposed how
    CSIRO’s models predictions of increasing drought in Australia were backwards – hindcasting on half the data and fitting the other half showed the opposite results.
    On top of that, global net primary production has been INCREASING
    with increasing CO2 and temperature, NOT decreasing as predicted by no snow and droughts etc.

    Such scare tactics and very poor modeling amplified skepticism over large uncertainties in the data, knowing little about the impact of clouds etc.

    I think a lot more basic science has to be developed, climate models validated, clouds and solar/cosmic/planetary interactions understood, before the alarms can be taken as anything more then crying “wolf”.

    • That would have been ok if that prediction were consensus all along. But when something unexpected happens, and then somebody cooks up a theory post-hoc, that’s called the Texas Sharpshooter’s Fallacy.

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

    • Orwell’s 1984 is the operating manual. Constant revision. Like the shift from ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Climate Change’ to ‘Climate Disruption’ and, maybe as some have suggested, soon to ‘Irritable Climate Syndrome.’

    • Dave,
      Do not forget that usually the stories of expected results happens just after a big weather event.
      In Australia, during the drought, it was going to be a drought forever.
      Then the rains came, and it was going to flood more and more.
      And all caused by that ol’ demon, CO2

    • Jeffrey Davis

      The issue of increased snow in some areas in a warming world hardly got examined the first time this winter. Antarctica has been gaining snow pack in the interior all while losing mass generally.

      • Those reports of mass loss are not credible…..but since you assign motive to skeptics, we can just conclude you knew that but chose to lie about it.
        Have you foind a way to ignore the strong evidence that meltwater refreezes at depth in Antarctica, shutting down one of the main props of catastrophism?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Not credible? Claims need evidence.

      • Not credible? Claims need evidence

        You claimed mass loss. Where’s your evidence?

      • Jeffrey Davis

        There but for the GRACE of God go I.

      • I’ll ask again – did they really straighten out the GRACE calibration problems? IIRC, it had problems with ice, in particular. That is why your “evidence” is questionable.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        Oh, “questionable” But I was accused of lying.

        “Those reports of mass loss are not credible … but since you assign motive to skeptics, we can just conclude you knew that but chose to lie about it.”

        hunter didn’t use “questionable”. He claimed they weren’t even credible and that I was lying.

      • Well, were you? Did you know about the GRACE calibration problem or not? I don’t need an answer cause I don’t really care. But you might want to think about why that would be assumed in the first place.

        Truth is that I don’t know if it’s been fixed or not, that’s why I asked the question. But I know the type of technology involved and I know that the fix is “possible” but not easy. Depending on how the original software was written, it could be a simple geographic restriction on the processing algorithm or it could require rewriting the entire processing system. That’s assuming they fix it at all.

        But I don’t answer for hunters statements, either.

      • Could you provide details regarding a GRACE “calibration problem”, including a reference to original data sources? Calibrations have been applied since the inception of GRACE, and are updated, but I wasn’t aware of a “problem”. Calibration includes the required adjustments for isostatic rebound, and as adjusted, the data reported within the past few weeks indicate accelerated ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica. If there is a problem with those data, I’d be interested in the specifics.

      • Jim – My question about GRACE was intended for you. I’m not sure from the thread lines that it ended up that way.

      • Exactly.
        Show us the mass loss.

      • Perhaps all the Arctic ice has migrated to the Baltic? The Estonians are so beset by ice that they are urging their government to invest in an icebreaker, to relieve them of dependence on their neighbours’ fleets. These are flat-out as it is, just keeping the ports of Sweden and Finland open, and may at any time refuse service to the Estonians if the ice keeps on piling up as it has been.

        Clearly what they need is a great big ice slicer, and a fleet of square-rigged merchantmen to take the resulting huge blocks in tow, so they can be returned to the Arctic where Jeff thinks they belong. This might sound far-fetched to sceptics, but it is the warmists’ chance to show what a thing of wonder wind-power is, in the hands of the committed.

  54. Richard Wakefield

    >. It is essential that scientists recognize two things: (1) There is no more powerful form of mass communication than the telling of good stories, and (2) support for science will come not from the promise of future solutions but from telling stories about solutions achieved in the past.

    Science isnt about telling stories It’s about evidence, nothing more. Story telling tends to become “big fish” and “long tales”, in other words stretching the truth.

    Telling stories means hiding the truth in the case of AGW.

  55. Richard Wakefield

    So does switching the conversation away from global warming mean that we should just give up on the idea of dealing with CO2 and energy policy?

    What needs to be done is to decouple CO2 from energy policy. Energy, cheap reliable plentiful energy is a serious issue. One that needs our attention. CO2 emissions is not a serious issue, if anything more CO2 means more crop production, for one of many beneficial aspects.

    Harping about CO2 coupled with energy issues will have serious consequences when the public catches on that CO2 was never a threat. They will, rightly, feel conned.

    • Jeffrey Davis

      “What needs to be done is to decouple CO2 from energy policy. ”

      Translation: because we’ll be dead when the bill comes due.

      The insaner thing (than decoupling energy from cO2) is that there are several issues for which the answer is the development of local (and renewable) energy sources. AGW, Peak Oil, the crippling trade imbalance, and the way oil entangles us in the volatile Middle East. But Congress just plows ahead as if more foreign oil was the answer.

      It’s almost as if they were crooks beholden to wealthy oil patch swine.

      As SJ Perelman (I think) wrote, “The song is over but the malady lingers on.”

  56. Winter Snowstorms are caused by Global Warming. These Winter Storms are what Causes Global Cooling. You can not melt a lot of Arctic Sea Ice without getting Massive amounts of Arctic Ocean Effect Snow. Last fall had Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent and this winter had Record Snow and Cold. Look at this information and just Think. CO2 is at record highs and we are having a Record Winter of Snow and Cold. Manmade CO2 is One Molecule of CO2 per Ten Thousand Molecules of other gases or less. Does anyone out there really believe that can make a difference? CO2 is a trace gas and has a trace effect.

    • Herman
      Go and check the extent of Arctic sea ice. I think you will find that this has not been a record winter at all.

  57. Communication is the new black – for the left.
    (and that’s a fashion joke, not another example of conservative racism)

    “Baroness Ashton is to spend £8.5 million polishing the image of her new EU diplomatic service despite having four spin doctors of her own and the free use of the European Commission’s 1,000-strong communications staff.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8362079/Baroness-Ashton-to-spend-8.5m-on-PR.html

  58. Paul Vaughan

    Evidence of learning:

    “And it has been a fatal mistake to dismiss the level 2′s.”

  59. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, once again, I love ya, but you’re still talking about bad communication when the issue is bad science. For example you say:

    BIll Hooke’s idea of switching the conversation is also a good one. The climate change story (greenhouse gases etc.) is getting boring to the public and political noise surrounding the subject is getting in the way of dealing with serious environmental and economic issues.

    Bill had said:

    In particular, we might contemplate putting aside the oft-repeated rehash of the basic science behind the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations, the concomitant global warming, and its human attribution. Even though these points are fundamental and even though our audience is not yet entirely on board, we need to move on.

    Why? Because our audience, though not quite so informed and up to speed as we might like, is showing definite signs of tiring of this subject, when framed in this way. Surely we have many things we could talk about that would be far more interesting, to nearly everyone – politicians, business leaders, educators, journalists, children, even our life partners.

    I see. The new plan is, don’t talk about the unanswered questions of the basic science. Don’t discuss whether CO2 actually causes increase warming (as opposed to increasing forcing). Don’t mention that the “concomitant global warming” hasn’t been visible for the past 15 years. Just assume that it is “concomitant”. Don’t discuss how much effect humans have on the climate. Assume the answer is known.

    Notice the underlying hidden assumption that everyone that matters is “on board”. Note the assumption that problem is that us high-number type bozos out here aren’t “on board” with those that count.

    Judith, the problem is exemplified by the two Nature “flood” papers (here and here).

    You say above that rather than talk about unresolved basic science questions, folks might profitably discuss:

    • water, food and energy for a growing global population: combine energy economics and security, environmental quality, agriculture, climate change/variability in the context of a discussion of global sustainability.

    • reducing vulnerability to extreme weather/climate events (e.g. floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones): infrastructure, emergency management, better forecasts and warning systems (days, weeks, months).
    others?

    In theory the Nature papers should be ideal for the new framing of the dialog. They follow Bill Hooke’s and your prescriptions. They assume the underlying questions are settled. They assume that the models accurately (and more importantly proportionally) explore the real world climate space. They assume that the equations relating forcing and temperature truly only contain one variable (forcing).

    The problem is, they are un-tested and unverified models feeding other models feeding other models. I don’t care how you frame the conversation. That’s not good science. It’s not science in any sense. It is not replicable, much less falsifiable. It is a computer programmer’s best guess as to the future, filtered through another programmer’s best guess, and fed to a third programmer’s best guess.

    And at the end of the day, when you think they’d compare their final output of the daisy to some real-world, observational data, what do they compare it to? The same model setup with different inputs. Say what?

    You and others keep claiming, over and over, that as the movie has it, “What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate”.

    I will not stop pointing out that communication is not the problem. The problem is that mainstream AGW scientists are promoting ridiculously intricate model daisy chain synthetic “data” auto-computerotic inter-comparisons as though they were true, falsifiable science. And to add insult to injury, I understand that two authors of one paper were employed by the insurance industry. Since the paper claimed that science showed that flood risks were up by 90%, this seems … well, curious.

    Judith, I look at that kind of thing and I see the flailing of a mortally wounded animal. The public looks at it and says “There they go again. I thought they might have learned their lesson”.

    The problem, dear lady, is junk science. I’m not talking about your work. I’m not talking about the work of many climate scientists. By and large climate scientists are basically good folks. They are scientists because they are curious. Their failing is that they do not speak up to protect the reputation of the field. They don’t protest when Climategate reveals scandalous “noble cause corruption” among some of the leading lights of the field. But for many climate scientists, their science is generally just that. Science.

    The problem is the amount of junk science that is getting published by the scientific journals. People see that, and they point and laugh. And when people are laughing at you because of junk science, you can’t fix that by changing the framing or the topic or the subjects of the conversation. You couldn’t fix it by hiring the slickest Hollywood PR people to handle all communication between those of you and other low-number folks that are “on board”, and me and other high-number people out here that are not yet on board.

    You can only fix bad science one way. Get people to stop doing it. I think I’m doing my part in that fight. Other folks fight it in their own way.

    But discussing how to frame the discussion, agreeing not to discuss unsolved fundamental questions … that won’t fix it. In fact it makes it worse. People see that and say “How come they won’t discuss the basic scientific questions?”

    My best to you as always. Your blog is an important contribution to the ongoing discussion.

    w.

    • Thank you Willis. This is the best comment on this tread.

    • Great comment, Willis.

      The “junk science” to which you refer sometimes even goes to absurd extremes: such as the frantic attempt to show that the current and recent harsh winters have actually been caused by anthropogenic global warming.

      But all levels can see through this and roll their eyes (as they scrape the ice off their cars or shovel the snow in their driveways).

      Max

    • Jeffrey Davis

      ” hasn’t been visible for the past 15 years. ”

      http://www.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn11639/dn11639-2_808.jpg

      Are you, Willis, a real person?

      • Rob Starkey

        Jeffery–LOL…google his name and you will find out Willis has a pretty good background in studying the climate

      • Jeffrey Davis

        ” in studying the climate”

        (“You can take the reservation. But you can’t *hold* the reservation”)

        Anybody can study the climate.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Curiously, although anybody can study the climate, few people do.

        Jeffrey, attacking me won’t get you any traction. If you disagree with my ideas, quote what you disagree with and tell us why.

        As to whether I’m competent to comment about climate science, see my post entitled “It’s Not About Me”.

        w.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “quote what you disagree with and tell us why.”

        Oddly, that’s exactly what I did.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        No, you attacked me. If you disagree with the ideas in my post above, about the subject of the thread, quote what ideas you disagree with and discuss them. Discussing me is meaningless.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Jeffrey, last I looked I was a real person, but things might have changed …

        Regarding the lack of recent warming, see the admission by arch-AGW supporter Dr. Phil Jones that there’s been no statistically significant warming for fifteen years. <a href="“>Lubos Motl explains the math if you’re interested.

        w.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Try again.

        Lubos Motl explains the math.

      • Holly Stick

        Well, you just discredited yourself by dragging out that hoary old misquote of what Jones was talking about:

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/daily-mangle/

      • Willis – I happened to come across this while browsing. It’s a small point, but Motl’s statistical analysis is seriously misleading, even though it’s too ambiguous to deem completely wrong.

        To understand why, we have to start with the data. He analyzed the UAH 1995-2009 data, accepting it as accurate. In fairness, he didn’t have the 2010 El Nino year data, which would have increased the slope of the warming trend. Based on 1995-2009, he computed a standard error for the slope, and then confidence limits. He concluded that only by narrowing the limits to 72 percent could we conclude that a hypothetical century-long warming trend was within these limits, so that there was an 72 percent probability for that, an 86 percent probability for a positive trend overall, and a 14 percent probability the trend would be found to be on the negative side of zero.

        Notice that he did NOT attempt to claim that the actual slope of the 1995-2009 trend was zero or negative. The reason is simple; the probability that it was positive was 100 percent, based on the data. The same applies to the actual trend of the past century – the probability that it was positive is 100 percent, again based on the data.

        What he was claiming, instead, is that if the 1995-2009 data were the only available information, then it would be possible to claim with no more than 86 percent confidence that a trend observed for 100 years would be found to be positive when the data became available. Since that is a hypothetical 100 years, and not the past 100 years, for which we know the trend was positive, his conclusions tell us no more than that 1995-2009 didn’t warm very much, although there is a 100 percent certainty it warmed a little, but we didn’t need his analysis to know that.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Well, I just downloaded the numbers from here. I find that the trend 1995 to present is not statistically significant (p = 0.13).

        So it’s not clear what you mean. Yes, the trend is slightly positive (Jan 1995 to Jan 2011 trend is 0.01C/yr). But it has gone flat, so flat that it is no longer statistically significant.

        People keep citing Jones saying that the reason the claim is not significant is that the period (15 years) is too short. Holly cites this ridiculous claim at RealClimate:

        What Jones actually said is that, while the globe has nominally warmed since 1995, it is difficult to establish the statistical significance of that warming given the short nature of the time interval (1995-present) involved. The warming trend consequently doesn’t quite achieve statistical significance. But it is extremely difficult to establish a statistically significant trend over a time interval as short as 15 years–a point we have made countless times at RealClimate.

        This is nonsense. You guys really haven’t learned that you have to DO THE MATH YOURSELF. Otherwise, like Holly, you get suckered by the RC guys. Of the 206 15 year spans in the UAH data, no less than 51 (about a quarter) of them show a significant trend. So the RC claim, that it is “extremely difficult” to get statistical significance in 15 years of data, is not true at all.

        You’ve been had.

        w.

      • Willis,
        The formulation at RC is bad, but close to the same thing can be formulated correctly as follows:

        A real trend of the strength observed as average warming rate over the last 100 years doesn’t manifest itself over every period as short as 15 years. Such periods are too for determining the strength of the warming or even indicating every time correctly the sign of the overall trend.

        I am generous enough to accept that this is the message that Phil Jones wanted to tell, although he was not totally clear, and although RC messed up with the message even more.

        Taking autocorrelations into account the statistical significance of the annual temperatures from 1995 to the present is even less, when the data is used for the determination of the long term trend. The proper error estimates are then so broad that the data is consistent with any long term trend from rather fast cooling to really fast warming. It really doesn’t tell much at all about the long term trend. The real significance of the flattening is that the longer term estimate is now significantly lower than it would have been, if a warming similar to the previous 15 years had persisted. The fact that the last 10 years are warmer than previous 10 year periods is still a confirmation of a longer term warming, albeit a little slower one.

      • PP;
        So, it’s been warming slowly since the LIA. SO WHAT? It’s a looonngg jump from there to Anthro influence, and even longer to harmful effects.

        Warmer? Bring back the Holocene Optimum, please, to me, to me! Briiing back, Oh bring back , …

      • Willis – There are times when the concept of “statistical significance” is useful and times when it is almost meaningless. The 1995-2009 slope is probably one of the latter. Did it warm over that interval? Yes, but very little. How confident can we be that it warmed? One hundred percent, which is why statistical significance or its absence is irrelevant to that particular question. What question, then, is it relevant to?

        In general, statistical significance or an equivalent concept such as confidence intervals is applied when we want to know the value of some statistic in a “population” – e.g., the average height of 12-year old girls. We can’t measure every 12-year old girl, so instead we take a sample and measure those girls. The data in the sample and their mean value are then used to compute an estimate of the population mean, with significance levels or confidence levels telling us something about the probability that our results deviate from the actual population values by more or less than a specified amount.

        In the case of 1995-2009, the data are the measured temperatures – these give us the slope of the sample. Statistical significance would then apply to the population from which this sample is drawn. What population is that? It’s not 1995-2009 – we already have those numbers; they are the sample data. It’s not 1910-2009, because we already have those numbers as well.

        In essence, the “population” would be some long term climate behavior from which 1995-2009 could be considered a sample drawn at random. Since we know 1995-2009 is not representative of the past 100 years, and since that interval is unlikely to represent an unchanging climate dynamic over the next 100, the hypothetical population doesn’t represent anything likely to correspond to an observable reality. It’s simply a way of saying that the 1995-2009 warming, to the extent that it is representative of how the climate might behave in the future if its behavior didn’t change, signifies a very flat slope that could be positive or negative, but more likely the former by an 86/14 margin. How much does that tell us? Very little, in my view.

    • Yeah, EXACTLY. And please notice that it’s the same tactic being used by politicians to “explain” legislation and policies that the majority of the people do not agree with. The line goes something like this: “if only all those people out there in fly-over land just UNDERSTOOD how great our programs (and we elitists from Haaaavaaad) are, then they would come into line.” So, marketing people and movie stars are asked to interceed. Truths are hidden… Just like much of climate science!

    • Just so – thank you, Willis.

      As old-fashioned 2 or 3, it has been bugging me for a long time that we get, again and again, models being used to paper over the holes left by other models. Rarely, if ever, are actual data, from actual observations done in real life, used to look at why models have holes that need fixing.

      The deafening silence of the scientific community – not just those climate scientists who did no wrong, but the rest of them too, who surely cannot all have emigrated to another planet, has been bugging me as well.
      It isn’t as if they won’t have to bear the consequences of what the warmists and their politicians want to impose on us for the sake of a problem which may not be a problem!

      It would be good if there were proper debates – but treating the vast majority of people as uneducated children who just need to be told another story, a story better formulated, is not going to work. I’d say it is going to be extremely counter-productive.

      In the meantime, let’s have proper science – and if the journals could snip the now obligatory phrases in each and every paper about AGW, never mind if the paper was about the mating habits of sub-tropic tree snails, that would be good, too.
      (Yeah – that is bugging me as well!)

  60. With regards to story telling and to stop trolls like Joshua and Holly Stick leading off down the thread hijacking path, look how theAGW crew have handled this winter, speculating that global warming has caused the cold winters. Are they the leading scientists? Is their argument coherent? Have their speculations been peer reviewed? Is it in AR4?
    When they meet the same standards that they demand denialists meet to cove new events, then may be they will be taken seriously. The crisis in confidence is one of their own making.

  61. Somehow, #1 people have failed to understand the depth of #3 and #4 ennui. Talking about framing messages properly almost raises bile in my throat. Science by Press Release is the problem. It is not the solution. Perhaps climate science can look at the medical science for messaging help (snark). Is Coffee bad or good for me this week? Eggs? Salt? Vaccines? Red Wine? Cell Phones? Every week, there is another story in the media about what will kill us. And never retracted until the next ‘this will kill you first’ PR statement.

    If Climate Scientists want to emulate Medical Scientists by “framing” their message better, and ‘engaging the media’ you should take a deep, deep rethink. Maybe climate scientists should do some peer review work on medical papers and vice versa.

    Tell us when the next Ice Age starts (+/- 100yrs). Explain why past public predictions/press releases of doom and gloom were wrong or were overstated by MSM and the NGO fellow travelers. Why are the Malthusian/Original Sin (Mankind is Evil) fanactics are so deeply embedded in the public “message framing” part of your science?

  62. to use past accomplishments to build trust …

    Let’s take a look at one of the greatest climate science accomplishments of the past two decades—understanding the El Niño phenomenon.

    Yes, let’s take a look. I thought they say climate is 30 years, less is weather. So, if the best accomplishment of climate science we can think of is a prediction “nearly a year in advance”, it looks to me more like weather science, and I wouldn’t say this tells us anything about projections 30 years ahead.

    Still not to good storytelling.

    • In fact they cannot predict ENSO events a year in advance.
      For instance, they can’t yet tell if this current La Nina will develop into an El Nino, or if it will neutralise or indeed if it will swing back into another La Nina let alone the magnitudes.
      We will know by the end of July. That is, after the fact.

  63. What the world was told in the 70s was that we were about to enter another ice age. Then it didn’t happen.

    We were told in the 90s that the world was going to warm up to dangerous levels. Drought, melting ice, famine, etc. That is currently in the process of NOT happening (no statistically significant warming for 13 years now). As of 2001, no model predicted this outcome. Since 2005 this started becoming more of a “travesty” (to use Trenberth’s term) and new theories were freshly minted to account for the unexpected new data. I’m sure you’ve heard the claim: periods of flat temperatures or even cooling “are consistent with the models”. You might remember those exact words because they are chosen carefully. These models are statistical and make predictions with probabilities. However the models don’t say things *can’t* happen, events are just on a bell curve of probabilistic likelihood. None of the models had flat temps or cooling anywhere near likely. That was in fact predicted to be very unlikely, however it is still a true statement that “periods of flat or cooling temperatures are consistent with the models” which merely means that the models didn’t explicitly rule them out (because the models don’t rule anything out). Raining bullfrogs from the sky would also be “consistent with the models”.

    You need to ask climate scientists to explain to us exactly how increasing CO2 generates flat or cooler temps. The basic 100 year old science about CO2 doesn’t mention anything like that. The story you are buying into is the result of brand new second-order theories (assumptions on assumptions) being spun in real-time to explain events that were “inconveniently” not predicted by climate science.

    To summarize:
    – We were told in the 70s that an ice age was coming
    – In the 90s many very specific predictions were made with extremely high confidence about warming, drought, famine, ice melting and British children in the near future not knowing what snow was – all within ten years. Time has proven those predictions to be absolutely wrong.
    – Now we have quite healthy, although in no way historically abnormal or unprecedented, winter storms.
    – Yet the overall average temperature has flat lined and the level of extreme weather events has gone down (Peilke et al).

    So for the last 13 years, there’s been no appreciable cooling, no appreciable warming and no increase in weather extremes. Despite hundreds of millions in funding, climate science did not predict any of these outcomes as “very likely” or even “likely”. I’d say that currently the score is:
    Nature = 1
    Team-led AGW science = 0

    If the global cooling of the 70s was wrong and global warming is correct, yet global warming can now cause unpredicted cooling, how much more of that cooling would it take to counteract the original warming we were so worried about (after we stopped worrying about the old cooling that was previously wrong but which now seems, at least temporarily, correct)? I realize that Team members will assert that the previous sentence is a gross over-simplification with much hand-waving and indignation. Ok, maybe. But let’s be honest, at least in broad strokes, that does kind of sum up what’s happened so far.

    • Works for me

    • I think you’re being a bit generous. Team led CAGW/scaring/pant wetting climatology has been wrong so consistently, that they’ve move all of their predictions outside the probable time limits of our lives. “You just wait! 2050 will really, really be bad. We’ve got to do something!!! 2100 will be even worse!!!”

      I did a rudimentary sea level check the other day, nope Manhattan is still above water. Poley bears and penguins are still hanging in there. I’m still waiting for the “drought” to really, super duperly, mess up our desert in the SW.

      And there are people that believe the story telling can be better than that? How?

      • http://climateclash.com/2011/01/27/james-hansen-singing-in-the-rain/

        To keep peddling the lie that Dr Hansen said Manhattan will be flooded by now is just another example of the unwillingness to recognise the truth amongst some in the skeptic community.

        It does your case no good to keep repeating myths.

      • lol, Ok, Louise, I hadn’t seen that. So, the lie is that the reporter misquoted Hansen as the to prediction 20 yrs instead of 40? Only to share this many years later? Yeh, ok, forgive me for not buying that one. But, because I’m a generous soul, I’ll play along.

        So, you think Manhattan will be underwater in 17 years?

        Another fine example of good story telling………

      • Remember that this was also dependant upon a doubling of CO2 from 1990 levels.

        Trotting out the old “Hansen said we’d be under water by now” myth just shows that you haven’t bothered to check the facts.

        If you haven’t checked the facts on this very minor point, what confidence can anyone have that you have actually checked out the things that matter – the science?

      • Oh?

        http://dir.salon.com/books/int/2001/10/23/weather/index.html

        While doing research 12 or 13 years ago, I met Jim Hansen, the scientist who in 1988 predicted the greenhouse effect before Congress. I went over to the window with him and looked out on Broadway in New York City and said, “If what you’re saying about the greenhouse effect is true, is anything going to look different down there in 20 years?” He looked for a while and was quiet and didn’t say anything for a couple seconds. Then he said, “Well, there will be more traffic.” I, of course, didn’t think he heard the question right. Then he explained, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be under water. And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change.” Then he said, “There will be more police cars.” Why? “Well, you know what happens to crime when the heat goes up.”

      • Yup – wrong, misremembered, whatever you want to call it

        “I went back to my book and re-read the interview I had with you. I am embarrassed to say that although the book text is correct, in remembering our original conversation, during a casual phone interview with a Salon magazine reporter in 2001 I was off in years. What I asked you originally at your office window was for a prediction of what Broadway would look like in 40 years, not 20. But when I spoke to the Salon reporter 10 years later ­probably because I’d been watching the predictions come true, I remembered it as a 20 year question.“

        http://climateclash.com/2011/01/27/james-hansen-singing-in-the-rain/

      • Because nobody has ever recanted testimony under pressure.

        This would be pretty weak if it were in a courtroom.

      • Hansen wasn’t the only one to predict catastrophe by 2010. So did Sir John Houghton. He gave a speech at Cambridge in 2001 when he talked about his prediction in 1990. See http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/cis/houghton/lecture4.html

        The idea of coming catastrophe by 2010 was a pretty common in 1990. It is just hard to find published commentary on it now.

      • The point is the original quote in the book says “assuming a doubling of CO2 and 40 years from now”.

        That’s not recanting evidence. That’s going back to the notes you made at the time (i. e. the book you wrote and published) and realising that you misremembered.

        Reiss was big enough to admit that he ws wrong – are you?

      • Doubling CO2 in 40 years? How do you do that? Not even the most extreme scenario in AR4, where everybody in Africa has an SUV, comes anywhere close to that. The most extreme scenarios talk about 560 around 2100.

      • Well quite!

        Hansen was asked what would happen in 40 years time if CO2 doubled and he answered that the freeway outside the window would be underwater.

        He has since been hounded by this statement by it being misremembered and quoted out of context (no mention of doubling CO2 and no mention of 40 years).

        He’s being whipped to death by an imaginary cat o’ nine tails.

        Isn’t it time to stop this now?

      • Isn’t it time to stop this now?

        Dunno. Let’s see what else we can do with it. Let’s ignore the fact that Hansen didn’t comment on the plausibility of 560 in 40 years, and really meant what he said. If he said it circa 1990, then he means that we’ll be there circa 2030. Do you want to defend that?

        The only other interpretation is kind of odd: that he meant doubling CO2 and then waiting 40 years. Again, with a stated case that ambiguous, doesn’t it strike you as strange that a trained scientist didn’t ask for clarification?

        No matter how you slice that, there’s something that doesn’t smell right.

      • FFS – he was asked in an interview what would happen if CO2 doubled in 40 years. He gave an off the cuff answer.

        He’s been beaten to death by a misremembered quote that was out of context.

        Reiss admitted he was wrong. Isn’t it time you stopped flogging this particular equine? It is deceased!

        There is no point discussing what he might have meant if he might have been asked some other question – enough.

        This Norwegian blue ain’t ever gonna sing again!

      • Doubling of 1990 CO2 levels from a quote in the 80s? And you’re going to give me grief about not knowing about an obscure dubious retraction? You need to go back and check again or clarify.

        Also, it hasn’t gone without notice that you didn’t respond to my question or other examples of good story telling.

        As I stated, I’ll give Hansen a mulligan on that one. Louise, don’t fall into that ever so familiar alarmist routine of hand waving and misdirection. Its unbecoming and really isn’t worthy of comment or discussion……….. I guess I should have left the statement to stand on its own.

      • He said what he said.
        He said it one of his supporters.
        You can twist around all you want to pretend he did not, but then yiu are calling author Bob Reiss a liar.
        Does that mean his book promoting AGW alarmism was a lie as well?
        http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/1199532/used/The%20Coming%20Storm%3A%20Extreme%20Weather%20and%20Our%20Terrifying%20Future

      • Nobody is calling Reiss a liar.

        Reiss apologised to Hansen for mis-quoting him in the interview with Michaels.

        Check the FACTS.

      • Do you have a link to support that Reiss apologized to Hansen?

      • http://climateclash.com/2011/01/27/james-hansen-singing-in-the-rain/

        Michaels also has the facts wrong about a 1988 interview of me by Bob Reiss, in which Reiss asked me to speculate on changes that might happen in New York City in 40 years assuming CO2 doubled in amount. Michaels has it as 20 years, not 40 years, with no mention of doubled CO2. Reiss verified this fact to me, but he later sent the message:

        “I went back to my book and re-read the interview I had with you. I am embarrassed to say that although the book text is correct, in remembering our original conversation, during a casual phone interview with a Salon magazine reporter in 2001 I was off in years. What I asked you originally at your office window was for a prediction of what Broadway would look like in 40 years, not 20. But when I spoke to the Salon reporter 10 years later ­probably because I’d been watching the predictions come true, I remembered it as a 20 year question.“

      • Not strictly an ‘apology’ but an admission of wrong doing.

      • As I stated several weeks ago, the Reiss story was at complete odds with Hansen’s writings.

      • I know but some folk are just happy to keep parroting out the same old lies as if they were facts – and then they wonder why we don’t accept their word for it when they say AGW isn’t happening or it’s ‘just natural variation’

        Sheesh

      • Sorry – misplaced reply to JCH

      • so the interview was in 1988 and was for a forty year time frame.
        And this makes his idiocy go away?
        Do you think that Manhattan is going under water by 2028?
        You believers will swallow any sort of bs if it comes from one of your profits of doom.
        And then we can move on to Hansen’s endorsement of ‘Time’s Up’, the cheery handbook on worldwide eco-terror and xenocide that Hansen liked until even his pals told him it was too disgusting.
        Your defense of Hansen is not going to work.
        He is still a wack job, and you are stuck with him.

      • I do not believe anything. I’ve read his papers. I know what he says about SLR when he is writing down what he means to convey.

        I don’t give a flip what some daffy reporter/author thinks he means.

      • Sea levels have been rising at around 3mm per year for over a century, and the rate has actually decreased in the last few years.
        At 3mm/year, sea levels would be around 30cm, or one foot, higher in 100 years time.
        And I’m sure it will take one helluva lot more than a 1 foot rise to flood Manhattan. Even if the rate increased by three times, we’d still only see around 1 metre rise in 100 years.
        And Hansen ought to have known that.
        So, whichever way you cut it, and no matter how you try to excuse it, he was talking nonsense – and probably deliberately.
        But, of course, none of us will still be around to see whether his prediction was right.

    • Holly Stick

      False, false, false. Global warming is still happening, the decade 2000-2010 was the warmest yet, the Arctic ice is decreasing as predicted, the glaciers are retreating as predicted, sea level is rising as predicted, the oceans are warming as predicted, etc.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-cooling.htm

      Judith why don’t you tell your commenters to stop lying about what is happening?

      As for drought, see Russia, Australia, China, etc., plus floods in Pakistan, Australia, Saskatchewan, etc. = crop failures while the world grain reserve is low.

      As for famine, check your food prices going up now and in the next few weeks; think about the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, partly inspired by food prices rising.

      Why are you so afraid to face reality? Open your eyes!

      • Latimer Alder

        But its GLOBAL warming. You have just singled out local effects. You need to show that sealevels are rising everywhere.

      • No, she doesn’t. You’re using a false bathtub analogy (the level rises evenly around the bath) which doesn’t take into account gravitational effects. You need to take a look at the work being done by Jerry Mitrovica, which suggests that when a glacier mlets in Greenland, somewhere near Australia gets the sea level rise.

        The Gravity of Glacial Melt
        http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/05/gravity-of-glacial-melt?page=0,0

        Sea levels would rise unevenly as ice sheet melts, study says
        http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/science/article9752.ece

        The Secret of Sea Level Rise: It Will Vary Greatly by Region
        http://www.goodplanet.info/eng/Contenu/Points-de-vues/The-Secret-of-Sea-Level-Rise-It-Will-Vary-Greatly-by-Region

      • I don’t think those papers say that melting in Greenland causes a dimple near Australia and no effect anywhere else.

      • Magazines, newpapers and blogs – are not data. Where’s the data? There are several actual data sites. Why are you not using them?

      • Latimer Alder

        But glaciers are disappearing everywhere. It’s GLOBAL warming.

        if a bit of Greenland melts and Australia gets the sea level rise, then when a bit of Antarctica melts Novaya Zemlaya will see the rise.

        Or is just another climatology om;y phenomenon like ‘teleconnections’. A sort of transubstantiation….only seen by True Believers?

      • Bunk on the sea level claims.
        They always turn out to be due to local conditions like erosion or currents shifting or subsidence.
        And not one of these alleged sea level increases is dangerous.
        The Rabett knows this, but he Rabetts like selling fear.

      • Back up your claims with citations and links.

      • Why is it that you don’t know the links to actual data sites?

        http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

      • Why Holly, I was merely quoting one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Dr. Phil Jones of CRU. He was quite clear in this interview which was quoted by many warmist media outlets.

        “for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.”

        Link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872
        (Note: My link is to a real newspaper, not a CAGW propaganda site)

        Are you calling Dr. Jones a liar?

        (It’s quite fun falsifying CAGW using only direct quotes from Team members and leading CAGW alarmists. I think skeptics should make more use of their generous help).

      • Holly Stick

        It may be fun, but it is highly dishonest of you. Don’t you understand what he meant by ‘statistically significant’ ? And it is silly to rely on a newspaper – not peer reviewed, you know.

        Here is the real story if you are able to understand it:
        http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/loaded-questions/

        http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/phil-jones-was-wrong/

        http://tamino.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/hey-david-whitehouse-why-is-the-sky-green/

      • erm.. yes… there’s been no statistically significant warming in 15 years….

        how else is one supposed to interpret it?

      • Holly Stick

        Too lazy to read my links, I see. You prefer to remain ignorant. Your choice.

      • Holly, i read the links; they weren’t particularly good.

        You’re arguing semantics- he stated what he stated and the 15 year point is important for a number of reasons. I’d be my ham sandwhich (wholemeal bread with oats and poppy seeds, glouchester honey-roast ham and english mustard) that you don’t know why.

        I don’t care if they are only JUST statistically insignificant, or if he felt he was pressured or whatever excuse you care to give. He said it, it’s right (afaict) so whats the problem?

        He either said it or he’s guilty of misleading an official enquiry. Your or (hobsons) choice.

      • Latimer Alder

        Did Phil Jones complain that he was misquoted in the remarks?

        Is he entirely ignorant of the nature of ‘his life’s work’?

        Does Tamino (whoever s/he may be) know more about analysing temperature data than the Head of CRU (rhetorical)?

        Because if not, them we have to accept that Jones meant what he said.

        I guess ‘Tamino’ is perfectly at liberty to write a paper denying Jones’s interpretation. Whether he could find somebody to peer review it is another question. But it’d be fun to see.

      • andrew adams

        i>You’re arguing semantics- he stated what he stated and the 15 year point is important for a number of reasons.

        Of course he stated what he stated, it’s just that his comments have been deliberately and dishonestly misrepresented.

        The main reason the 15 year period is important is because it is exactly 1 year too short to establish a statistically significant trend, which is precisely why the question was asked.

        It is very very simply – the fact that the warming trend over the 15 year period mentioned in not statistically significant does not mean there has been no warming for the last 15 years.

        He also said there has been a statistically significant warming trend for the last 35 years, but that doesn’t seem to get quoted as much.

      • andrew adams

        Many of the skeptics here have said quite clearly that they oppose measures to mitigate AGW, therefore they are obviously quite happy for millions in the third world (and even in the developed world) to suffer from crop failures due to drought and flood, forced relocation due to sea level rise, severe water shortages etc.
        Of course I am willing to apologise if I have misquoted them and they actually do not oppose action to mitigate AGW.

      • …but only just.

        Helps to have the whole quote for the context value.

      • Do you really think Tamino is an reputable, unbiased source of information about the realities of our ever changing climate?

      • andrew adams

        Quite so, we should only cite unbiased sources in support of AGW, ie those who know the real truth that it doesn’t exist.

      • Latimer Alder

        Just wondered.

        Who peer-reviews Tamino?

        You seem to be one of the very few who still believe in it as an honest process. But if its that important to you, then you really shouldn’t be linking to non peer-reviewed stuff from him.

      • Don’t you understand what he meant by ‘statistically significant’ ?

        Why, yes I do – thanks for asking. Are saying that you rely on statistically insignificant results since there aren’t any significant results that help you make your case?

        You still didn’t answer my question. Is Dr. Jones a liar or not? It’s a simple yes or no question.

        Also, why would peer review matter? It was an interview with the BBC. Transcripts and video are readily available for first-hand inspection. Although, now that I think about it, some of Jones’ peers are really quite creative at trying to “recast” their own plain English statements.

      • Joe Sixpack's younger and slightly better looking brother

        I’m not very well versed in statistical terminology so perhaps one of the people here who seem to place great significance (sic) in Prof Jones’s remarks could explain to me in simple terms what I am supposed to understand when I am told that there has been “no statistically significant warming for 15 years”.

      • Well the poor dishonest ignoramuses here want you to think he said there had been no warming from 1995 to 2010 which was when he was being interviewed bya reporter primed with a loaded question.

        But he was saying that it was not 95% certain, that it was only about 93% certain – so not statisticially significant. You see, the people commenting here do not undertand statistics.

        Here is the real story:
        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/daily-mangle/

        “…The title itself is a distortion of what Jones actually said in an interview with the BBC. What Jones actually said is that, while the globe has nominally warmed since 1995, it is difficult to establish the statistical significance of that warming given the short nature of the time interval (1995-present) involved. The warming trend consequently doesn’t quite achieve statistical significance. But it is extremely difficult to establish a statistically significant trend over a time interval as short as 15 years–a point we have made countless times at RealClimate. It is also worth noting that the CRU record indicates slightly less warming than other global temperature estimates such as the GISS record. ..”

      • Jeffrey Davis

        The question revealed the truth about the questioner. (“The world sees you, too.”) Why ask a question about statistical significance for a span of years to brief to admit statistical significance? Well, to get the monkey-island-stirring quote out of Jones.

        Isn’t that the line from Spaceballs? “Evil will win because Good is so stupid.”

      • You gotta love the way GAvin Schmidt and RealClimate “clarify” things. Hansen is quoted as saying there has been no statistically significant warming for the last 15 years. RealClimate, not liking the interpretation that that means zero warming, points out that what Hansen meant was there was only nominal warming.

        Merriam-Webster defines “nominal” in this context as “trifling, insignificant.” The Princeton online dictionary defines it as “insignificantly small.”

        So to clarify the RealClimate post: “What Jones actually said is that, while the globe has warmed [a trifling, insignificantly small amount] since 1995, it is difficult to establish the statistical significance of [such trifling, insignificant] warming given the short nature of the time interval (1995-present) involved.”

        Which I guess means if they had a trifling, insignificantly small amount of warming over a longer period, that would still be reason to fear the coming catastrophe.

        Yeah, that’s much better.

      • Gary, you’re getting your strawmen confused.

      • andrew adams

        RealClimate, not liking the interpretation that that means zero warming…

        Well given that that’s not what it means they are entitled not to like it.

      • What I find more interesting about this topic than Gavin Schmidt’s facility with the English language, is that so many actually believe that scientists can determine global average temperature with such precision, that they can detect a “trivial, insignificantly small,” increase in GAT over a period of 15 years.

        We see “adjustments” of recent temperature records on a regular basis (in New Zealand reversing a marked warming trend to virtually no change), no one has a clue about the average temperature of the oceans as a whole, there are huge gaps in stations in the Antarctic and Southern Hemisphere, problems with station citing and instrument changes, and yet they can detect a minute change over a 15 year time period.

        Somebody call the BEST folks and tell them they are wasting their time. We already know everything there is to know about global temperatures. Why would anyone be skeptical?

      • andrew adams

        According to Jones the increase in global temps over that period was 0.12C per decade. Not huge, but in terms of climate not a “trifling, insignificantly small” amount either.

      • Weak, Holly, really weak. If Phil Jones said it, then he said it. It’s quite clear.

      • Holly,
        The real question is do you understand the term ‘statistically significant’?

      • hunter,

        I don’t .

        Please explain.

      • Lol. Lack of statistical significance over cherry-picked periods is how frogs convince themselves their little pot is not about to boil.

      • JCH,

        For your enlightenment. Frogs aren’t dumb.
        http://www.snopes.com/critters/wild/frogboil.asp

      • If a particular result has less than a 95% confidence level, then it is likely to be a random result.
        for instance, the Queensland flood event is claimed by AGW believers to be unprecedented.
        History tells a very different story.
        http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/brisbane-floods-2011.jpg
        When I use the term ‘statistically significant’ I am using it to point out that
        1- when measured against historical records none of the alleged record floods or droughts are in fact record extremes when measured against the known historical recordsd
        Now apparently some fools are trying to extend the historical record back to the primordial dust of the Solar system, but one can only hope they are just trying to be obtuse.
        2- that the results which the AGW CO2 obsession is built on is very sketchy. as Jones pointed out, there has been no statistically significant warming for several years now, for instance.
        The true believers seem to have trouble with what Jones said, but so it goes.
        When certain astronomers looked at Mars too much, they saw canals.
        When many considered evolution in its early days, they thought eugenics was the answer.
        I would submit that there is no reason offered by any of those committed tothe idea that CO2 is causing the climate to do unusual or dangerous things are any different from astronmers pushing Martian canals or those many who pushed eugenics:
        The wrong thing.

      • Jeffrey Davis

        “If a particular result has less than a 95% confidence level, then it is likely to be a random result.”

        That has to be the funniest statement I’ve heard in days. Thanks!

      • The branch of science I’m involved with tends to use 0.05, 0.01 and 0.001 probabilities (i.e 1 in 20 (95%), 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000) to claim statistical significance.

        0.05 (or 95%) means that if I do this experiment 20 times, I can expect the result I’ve just gotten to have happened once due to pure fluke. That pure fluke occurence could have been the first and only time I did this experiment. This means that I might do that experiment again to double check that it wasn’t pure fluke.

        No way does 95% significance suggest that thi