By Judith Curry
On the first anniversary of Steve Schneider’s untimely death, it is worth reflecting on his contributions at the intersection of climate science, policy, politics and media in the public communication of climate change. Schneider’s views on this topic are infamously characterized by his 1989 statement (page 5 of the link):
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
If you haven’t read it previously, Schneider’s views on all this are encapsulated in his “Mediarology” essay, which is well worth reading.
Chris Russill’s paper
A very interesting analysis of Steve Schneider’s views and impacts are provided in this paper, which provides the title for this post: Stephen Schneider and the ‘Double Ethical Bind’ of Climate Change by Chris Russill
Russill introduces the double ethical bind:
The loyalty to scientific method and to scientific norms of communication had to be reconciled with the conventions of media operations if one hoped to access and influence the public. If scientists were not simply to abandon the obligation to inform the public about climate change, they needed to recognize “two ethical requirements”: (a) self-knowledge and honesty about one’s values and worldview and (b) an acceptance that promoting concern over climate change had to account for and accommodate existing media practices. Efforts to communicate climate change cannot be wholly removed from value judgments, which should be openly acknowledged. The result is a situation demanding a “balance between being effective and being honest” . There are some hints that the most significant difference is the matter of appropriate precaution in policymaking, but Schneider did not explicitly advocate a precautionary perspective in his editorial. His earlier and subsequent work does make clear his preference for a precautionary policy approach.
JC comment: the double ethical bind arises when a scientists tries to influence the public and policy. It does not arise when a scientist interacts with the media to discuss their latest research finding. This is why advocacy by scientists presents problems both for the scientist and for society. These problems can be managed to some extent (e.g. see Pielke Jr’s The Honest Broker), but the end result can backfire on the individual scientist as well as the policy for which they are advocating.
Russill’s article provides substantial discussion on linking climate change to extreme weather events as a way of grabbing the public’s attention. Particularly interesting are Russill’s comments on the extreme weather link in the context of the precautionary principle:
This explanation for the successful emergence of climate change as a public issue is unsatisfactory for two reasons. It does not comport well with a precautionary perspective that attempts to avoid or ameliorate damage before its occurrence provides empirical verification. If stratospheric ozone depletion regulation is attributed to nature standing up, then the advances won for a precautionary perspective are not evident. In fact, the belief that natural events trigger public response implies the existence of a “wait and see” perspective, where verified damage motivates policy change. A second reason for concern is that these accounts deemphasize the mediated nature of such events, which are not experienced directly by most people, and which do not carry a univocal meaning. It is always possible for people to consider such events as “acts of God” or as the outcome of natural variability.
This paragraph caught my eye:
The acuity with which Schneider presages the political organization of skeptical discourse is impressive. His main criticism of skeptical climate discourse is that it fails to present itself as a policy perspective resting on values and the interpretation of scientific findings. Too often, argumentative strategies regarding uncertainty and scientific proof translate value questions into the complex vocabularies developed for technical exposition. In dealing with the public, it is important for scientists to discuss their beliefs in terms of the degree of proof warranting such belief. The pertinent question is the degree of validation needed to support claims; it is not a matter of distinguishing theory versus proof, or of disguising the role that values play in setting climate change policy.
JC comment: There is a chicken and egg issue at play here. Much of the political organization of skeptical discourse was a response to the kind of tactics being used by Schneider (and Hansen and Houghton) in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. There is also a “talking past each other” element to this, whereby the skeptics want to discuss the science and uncertainties, and Schneider et al. wanted to discuss policy.
Schneider’s most significant impact on the climate debate was to improve the communication of uncertainty, which was implemented formally in the IPCC TAR:
The second significant amendment to Schneider’s early views on climate change communication is his improved discussion of uncertainty. In many public debates, Schneider emphasized the implications of deterministic forms of uncertainty. A frequent metaphor was the dice roll in games of chance. Natural variability in climate patterns is represented by a fair set of dice; anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions represent the loading of dice, which increase the probability of certain outcomes (such as increased warming). However, no single dice roll can be predicted with certainty or taken as unequivocal evidence of loaded dice. Only a series of dice rolls will make evident the loading by producing a pattern distinct from the usual distribution of fairly rolled dice. The result of a sequence of fair dice rolls can be predicted with reasonable accuracy (climate change), but any single dice roll (an extreme weather event or hot summer) cannot be predicted with much certainty.
Schneider’s more recent papers recognize the limitation of this discussion and distinguish between objective and subjective uncertainty:
Scientists deal with different types of uncertainty and respond to them differently, and we must keep that in mind…. However, there is a second kind of probability that involves judgments: subjective probability. This occurs when scientists deal with complex systems, as I do in studying a climate-environmental system or with those who study health systems. In these complex systems, when there are many interconnected subcomponents, scientists often are uncertain about the extent and magnitude of these interconnections. As a result, they have to make judgments about these interconnections and, consequently, underlying assumptions are subjective.
Russill critiques Schneider’s perspective:
Some limitations in Schneider’s perspective are a result of its strengths. His efforts are directed primarily toward the influential inclusion of scientific voices in public discourse. Schneider is helpful in clarifying the role and scope of value judgments, but his work is often focused on improving scientific contributions. His proposals are not concerned primarily with how scientists might situate their voice as one among other voices. Schneider’s recommendations to scientists to become more acute and proficient in accommodating to journalistic norms of the media industries might delimit other forms of participation or entrench inequitable media practices that should be challenged. In particular, Schneider’s conceptualization of uncertainty might result in a greater extension of scientific authority into arenas currently the domain of layperson judgments, a problem anticipated by Brian Wynne (1992b).
This last point deserves greater attention, and it raises the question of whether these limitations are easily remedied or whether they are expressions of deeper difficulties. Schneider’s earliest efforts privileged deterministic formulations of uncertainty, as conveyed through his dice roll and coin flip metaphors. In these examples, he demonstrates that the fact of scientific uncertainty provides no basis for preferring “wait and see” policy orientations over precautionary perspectives. His argument is clear, compelling, and correct. Deterministic forms of uncertainty are double edged; ceteris paribus, the uncertain situation could result in better or worse outcomes than the hypothesized condition, as Schneider frequently warns politicians, policy makers and citizens. In these instances, Schneider presumes deterministic uncertainty to demonstrate that its existence offers no argument against precaution. It is also a helpful metaphor for discussing the association of discrete weather events and climate change trends. This is a valuable service. In principle, the acceptance of Schneider’s point should push discussion toward consideration of other kinds of uncertainty, because none of the policy options regarding climate change can be reduced simply to questions of deterministic uncertainty. [JC emphasis]
Schneider’s specific characterization of subjective uncertainty is taken as an objective feature of the public context for climate change communication; it is not treated as a perspective opened up in its significance to those sensitive to precautionary forms of regulation. If we choose to view discussions of subjective uncertainty in this latter way, then it is important to know whether a specific policy orientation—whether it is “wait and see,” “adaptation,” or “precautionary,” – is advantaged by the way Schneider conceptualizes uncertainty. For example, does a precautionary perspective demand that greater weight be given to subjective uncertainty in the treatment of indeterminacy? Is the effort to diminish the scope of subjective uncertainty by demanding standards derived from the deterministic treatment of uncertainty an advantage for climate change skeptics, because answers meeting those standards cannot be given unequivocally in advance? If perspectives on uncertainty are context-relevant in this fashion, such that one’s perspective on permissible precaution guides an appraisal of uncertainty, then it explains why different interpretations of uncertainty are a battleground in public discourse. [JC emphasis]
Schneider’s point advances a conception of subjective uncertainty, and he steers discussion toward techniques for bounding and managing it (for example, Bayesian statistical analysis and Bayesian updating). Schneider (2000) recognizes that to carry through the implications of his position requires not simply new statistical tools, but new regulatory institutions, and a newly configured expert–public relationship. Schneider also recognizes the tendency toward elitism or the privileging of expertise in his recent formulations, but he accepts this outcome as the necessary consequence of facing up to the problem, and he does not discuss it as an embedded value guiding his formulations of uncertainty. [JC emphasis].
Russill summarizes Schneider’s strategies for coping with the double ethical bind:
It is worth summarizing the main lessons and advice Schneider offers for coping with a context defined by the double ethical bind.
- One, climate scientists should communicate often or not at all with media (to protect their reputations, as well as to acquire sensitivity and proficiency with media norms).
JC comment: I would say that for scientists who are not advocates and who are discussing primarily their personal research, there shouldn’t be a problem with interacting with the media, although I strongly recommend media training for anyone regularly answering questions from the media to avoid certain pitfalls. With regards to the reputation of individual scientists engaging with the media, I would say that scientists that issue press releases on their papers and handle themselves well interviews with the media see their scientific reputations enhanced. Scientists that advocate or get themselves involved in media controversies and don’t handle themselves well (or say negative things about other scientists) see their reputation take a hit.
- Two, the demand for brevity makes familiar metaphors the best vehicle of simplification and a necessary device if climate scientists refuse to trade away opportunities for increasing public understanding.
JC comment: I have a number of problems with this one. First, it assumes that climate communication must necessarily be constrained by the mainstream media. There are other options such as the blogosphere, the range of things being tried by Climate Central, and the ideas that Randy Olson has been applying in the field of public health. Not to mention Al Gore’s efforts. Metaphors have some utility, but they aren’t going to increase the understanding of the critical technical public. The motivation here seems to be public (political) support rather than public understanding.
- Three, scientists and professional organizations need to produce a range of communicative products that span the continuum from simple popularization to expert complexity. The attention garnered by sensational stories, or the interest generated by dispute, can be translated into deeper understanding through pieces requiring progressively more expertise.
JC comment: I totally agree with this one.
- Four, when dealing with journalists, it is very important to emphasize research that is established and widely agreed on in order to situate specific differences of opinion. Scientists should insist on “perspective” over “balance” as the appropriate norm for climate change communication, and journalists should consider the standing, weight, and credibility of a position as key components of its validity.
JC comment: well this sort of begs the question of what is widely agreed upon. If this is defined by the IPCC assessment, well this blog is mostly about challenging and critically evaluating the consensus. Expecting journalists to consider the standing, weight and credibility of a position can only be accomplished through appeals to authority and consensus, and we’ve discussed numerous times the potential problems with these arguments.
- Five, scientists should explain the process by which conclusions are determined rather than simply offering up prepackaged facts and findings.
JC comment: I totally agree with this one. The IPCC should try it sometime.
- Six, it is always important to emphasize the issue of uncertainty, and to place its appraisal in the appropriate context. “Perhaps most important is the need to state the degree of certainty you assign to your assessments and to explain the degree of subjectivity needed to estimate that confidence level”.
JC comment: no problem with this one, but Schneider et al. invariably resort to appeal to consensus and authority.
- Seven, when dealing with climate skeptics, it is important to articulate how values inform policy options and to situate skeptical discourse as a value-oriented policy position. If the interaction is framed in this manner, questions of theory—“isn’t climate change just a theory?”—are more readily seen as questions involving judgments regarding the degree of validation required for a policy decision.
JC comment: well that is the trillion dollar question, the range of judgments regarding the degree of validation required for a policy decision.
An important question remains. Is the double bind of climate change communication a result of the miscarriage of a precautionary perspective, or simply a feature of the contemporary media landscape? Schneider’s (1990a) “double ethical bind” concept is a valuable pragmatic device for sensitizing climate scientists, journalists, and citizens to the contradictory context in which public communication on climate change takes place. However, from the critical vantage point opened by Wynne’s (1992b) perspective, Schneider’s efforts are a coping strategy for difficult circumstances, rather than a thoroughgoing reconceptualization of how scientific knowledge might best be communicated in conditions of urgency and uncertainty.
JC comment: IMO Wynne hits the nail on the head: the double ethical bind is a coping strategy for scientist/advocates who find themselves in the midst of a politically charged scientific debate.
Steve Schneider viewed Science as a Contact Sport, and he actively engaged in discussions with the public and policy makers, including skeptics. A good example of this engagement occurred shortly before his death, in this exchange hosted by Insight (video and transcript and blog comments) (h/t Andy Revkin).
Schneider comes across very well in this exchange, IMO. An excerpt:
JENNY BROCKIE: I’m interested though in this question of trust because it’s come up with a lot of people here about how much they trust the data, how much they trust the scientist. You don’t trust scientist, Chris, why?
CHRIS MACDONALD: Well it was very interesting hear you talk a moment about ago about scientist like the median, a moderate tendency. What I find suspicious is that I have not heard, and I watch a lot of media, one of these moderately minded scientists come out and hose down the Doomsday scenarios being pedals by environmentalists and our politicians. I’m not speaking of you yourself, sir, but your industry, your lobbying, the lobby of which you are a part including a lot of people I’m sure you have arguments with are actually saying X plus Y all the way to we have to chuck out industrialisation.
JENNY BROCKIE: So being absolute and certain and you want them to be less certain or you want ‑
CHRIS MACDONALD: I would like to hear people in your business admit some doubt.
PROFESSOR STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: I don’t know any IPCC scientist who said we should chuck industrial civilisation out. That’s a straw man, where did you get that?
CHRIS MACDONALD: I have never heard one of them stand up and say this politician should choose their words more carefully that it’s not that disaster, that this environmentalist should be more moderate in their language because they’re being too extreme. I have not heard one IPCC scientist say that.
PROFESSOR STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: Please read my book you’ll see where I’ve been doing this for 40 years and I’m not alone in doing that. I think it would be irresponsible for us to leave out better cases and it would also be irresponsible to leave out worst cases. It is not a scientist’s job to judge whether or not the risks are sufficient to hedge against any of these possibilities. It’s only our job to report risk and that’s why we have so many rounds of reviews. I was talking about when I said scientists gravitate to the middle – I was talking most IPCC scientists. They’re not typically very articulate and they’re not the ones you’re seeing on the media very often.
CHRIS MACDONALD: You were very quick to comment on what you called bias language earlier, I think a scientist in your position could speak up against bias language even in areas where it actually contributes to your industry.
JENNY BROCKIE: It’s an interesting point, Stephen. It is an interesting point that the scientists could enter the debate once it becomes politicised and perhaps distorted in that politicisation, the scientist could pop their heads up more and say hang on a minute, you know, what we do know is this, what we don’t know is this.
PROFESSOR STEPHEN SCHNEIDER: I can speak for myself that’s exactly what I do but I can also tell you, and so do most of the colleagues that I respect. Not everybody. There are people who understate and there are people who overstate. The other problem is, don’t forget the media filter. Media gets end of the world versus good for you boxed extremes. Like it’s a trial, you know, we’ve got guilty and we have innocence and they will set that frame. So if a scientist is speaking in a bell curve, right and you allow some probability of a really nasty outcome and some probability of beneficial outcomes and every speech I give, go on YouTube will you find them, you will see I do this, I have no control about the fact that because I have concern about the more serious scenarios, and I do, I don’t want us to fall into that trap, I don’t take 10% risks with planetary life support system. That’s my personal view. That’s my personal values and I always say that.
The point though is if it’s then reported that I believe that it’s certain that it’s going to be in the worst case that’s a misframing of what I’ve said. Just as when I’m arguing with other people who are more conservative and they allow a small probability that they think I’m right and they have a larger probability that things are milder and then they get boxed into the frame that they only think that it’s mild that’s not fair to them either.
It’s because when you go through the filter of this kind of advocacy, end of the world and good for you which in every speech again, go look it up on YouTube, you’ll see me, I say the two lowest probability outcomes, that’s a very bad way to convey the nature of meaning because all it can do is confuse people and create the polarisation that’s led to those of you who have gotten the hate mails from getting them because people get locked in those polarisations.
JC conclusions: Steve Schneider has had an enormous impact on the public communication of climate science, both through his own personal communications but more significantly in terms of framing the public interaction between climate scientists and public. Schneider had a much more complex position in the public debate about climate change than say, Jim Hansen. Schneider is to be commended for raising this issue of treatment of uncertainty by the IPCC, but ultimately his position on this issue led to uncertainty monster simplification, and elitism in terms of over reliance on expert judgment and the establishment of an elite consensus. The over reliance on expert judgment and the establishment of an elite consensus left the scientific community and its argument very vulnerable to Climategate in terms of its public credibility.
On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change.
While I can understand the sentiment, one thing that has to be borne in mind is that the mantle of science has to be put aside when dealing with making the world “a better place”. Individuals will differ as to what the definition of “better” is and it is spurious to claim that one person or group’s definition is more right than another’s. The mix of science with values is a volatile one that can easily blow up in your face.
The over reliance on expert judgment and the establishment of an elite consensus left the scientific community and its argument very vulnerable to Climategate in terms of its public credibility.
You could not possibly be suggesting that there is still some room left for a little guy with a keyboard and link to the internet….
Steve Schneider was telling climate scientists about policy agreements that forever changed science on 21-28 February 1972:
See related events [1-4] below:
1. Nature 240, 99 (1972) [NASA NGR 26-003-057]
2. Proc. 3rd Lunar Planetary Science Conf. 2, 1927 (1972)
[NASA NGR 26-003-057]
3. Time Magazine US (24 June 1974)
4. Newsweek (28 April 1975)
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
NASA NGR 26-003-057
“The week that changed the world,” as President Nixon called the week of 21-28 February 1972 now appears to be the foundation of corrupt government science, the Climategate scandal, and the economic crisis.
I hope to have details of those events ready to post by this week-end.
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
NASA NGR 26-003-057
Here is how “the week that changed the world” fits into the historical record (1945-2011) of Climategate scandal.
“The week that changed the world” was in fact the week that changed government science into a tool of government propaganda!
What a strange, strange world we live in today.
With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
NASA NGR 26-003-057
Until the week that changed the world!
“the public interaction between climate scientists and public”
What exactly has been the interaction between climate scientists and the public? Bowling outings? Autograph sessions? What?
What do you think happens here Andrew?
A bunch of commenters comment on posts by Dr. Curry.
Is that what you understand public “interaction” with “climate scientists” to be? Blogs?
Yes, I do believe that that there has been learning by many as a result of the exchange of information at this and other web sites discussing “climate related science”. You can see examples in how much the views of “scientists” and “engineers” who visit this site and others have evolved over the last several years as they are exposed to more and newer information. The internet is a powerful tool for information exchange.
Sorry to do this to you Rob, but can you give me a couple examples of Climate Scientists who changed significantly changed their views after reading comments on blogs, and what the comments were that prompted the change in views?
Andrew– you are correct in that I am not really inclined to do that type of digging for examples to demonstrate the point to you.
Andrew– can you define a climate scientist? Is a person who has postgraduate degrees in mathematics, engineering and economics who has researched the issue for ten years qualify?
You are asking good questions. My broader point is that I don’t see a lot of “interaction” with the public and “Climate Scientists.” I see a lot of propaganda from the “Climate Scientists”. The internet is a good way for us to communicate with each other. But you can’t really communicate with people who don’t care what you have to say.
Andrew– your broader point is valid, and the internet does not change human nature. People frequently are slow to accept new data that may conflict with their preconceived perceptions. Change of opinions take time,especially when an unbiased review of the questions provide unclear results.
Regarding climate change there are two very broad issues
1. What does the data/science lead us to conclude?
2. What will/should individual nation states do in relation to point #1? This is really the most important point and is not a simple point to answer unless you are highly idealistic and believe that the entire world will conform to your perception automatically.
In theory, data may ultimately show that the world is getting warmer, and that warming is harmful to some and beneficial to other nations. If I am in a nation benefitting from the warming, I highly doubt I want to incur higher costs to lower CO2. If I am in a poor country, I probably do not wish to wait for electricity until someone invents a fusion power source.
2. What will/should individual nation states do in relation to point #1? This is really the most important point
That’s a loaded question.
In theory, data may ultimately show that the world is getting warmer
Or it may show the world is getting colder. This is why 2. is a loaded question
1. What does the data/science lead us to conclude?
That we don’t know enough yet to know whether nation states need to do anything at all, apart from make themselves ready to deal with climate change, whichever way it changes.
I offer Dr. Curry as an example of this. Her “interaction” with commenters is prolly directly proportional to how much they already agree with her.
Climate changes research has been plagued since the days of hysterical fears of imminent cooling in the 1970s by design problems, misuse of research data (both positive and negative with adjustments to raw data without explanation, and adjustments made to the adjustments-all without any justification whatsoever-and, the substitution of data without any disclosure of the questionable gimmicks being employed, together with the knowing corruption and outright loss of raw data without accountability of any kind), poor statistics, small samples, unverifiable computer models constructed using questionable time-invariant climate parameters and reductionist mathematics, and a sycophantic culture of interrelated, self-reinforcing, self-serving, self-appointed gurus-elevated far above their competence for ideological reasons-who idolize and memorialize superstitious preconceptions, indulge in flawed conclusion and hucksterism, and proselytize their politically-correct voodoo pathological climate science-likened by some outside Western academia to the science of ancient astrology-all while self-righteously opposing with cannonades of denigration the accomplishments and observations of serious scientific skeptics and an ever- growing number of global warming heretics of self-defeating AGW theory and eco-terrorism.
A most excellent sentence.
Periods (the punctuation kind) are our friends.
C.mon Gary, it had passion, rhythm, pace. Think Kerouac.
ee cummings on crack
Not the same genre, but you might like Ernest Bramah’s Kai Lung stories. (Wallet of Kai Lung available on Kindle).
Thank you, Simon. I thought I might be the only person left who had read (and who owns in hardcover) the Kai Lung books. Wonderful stories, wonderfully told.
So, there is a chance I might qualify for a government grant for skeptical science performance art?
Maybe the application for the grant will need to contain puctuation – but go for it.
Not if peer reviewed by james joyce…
Amazing that the scientists in the 1970’s were so wrong about the temperatures of their day, and so lucky or us all the scientists 40 years latter have been able to correct their work. Revisionist history meet revisionist climate.
“Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data.”
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html#ixzz1St34vx7A
“I was talking most IPCC scientists. They’re not typically very articulate” aren’t experts usually articulate? isn’t that insulting them?
Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
Alarmists abuse ethics by appealing to “consensus” to bias news away from opposing scientific evidence and models.
See the impact of one person’s advice:
UPROAR AS BBC MUZZLES CLIMATE CHANGE SCEPTICS
Exactly. Furthermore, the ridiculous state of appealing to elitism and the “experts” leads to whose expert is better. Then, stupidly unscientific “list” come from these 3rd and 4th grade school girls all “sparkles” and “sunshine” for the “doom and gloom” team and “snails etc” for ALL others.
No, nothing justifies what Schneider (and many others) mutated science into. Throwing out the NULL HYPOTHESIS is called ANTI-SCIENCE. Now, we get the nonsense in all unethical forms:
“Why Ethics Requires Acknowledging Links Between Tornadoes and Climate Change Despite Scientific Uncertainty.”
I just submitted this comment to the daily Express article:
There is disagreement within the consensus as to the scale of effects of various aerosols in the atmosphere.
Dr Roy Spencer just had his new paper on the negative cloud feedback accepted for publication
The Sun’s activity levels are anomalously low, and solar scientists have no good method for predicting future activity. There are some promising hypotheses being worked on by myself and some others. Search for tallbloke’s talkshop. The effect on climate is uncertain, but seems to be greater than thought by the consensus.
By brushing aside these facts, and restricting the climate debate to policy issues, the BBC is making a dishonest irrelevance of itself. The real debate about the underpinning science will continue in the blogosphere unabated, and the BBC will lose credibility and market share.
There is no ‘double ethical bind.’ The only ethical duty is the one your mother gave you: tell the truth! Schneider’s position is the equivalent of prosecutors withholding exculpatory evidence to make sure ‘the bad guys’ are convicted.
At the end of the post above, Chris McDonald asks the million dollar question: Why don’t you for once publicly criticize scientists who make wild, unsupported claims? Here, Schneider fails the test of basic what-your-mother-taught-you honesty.
McDonald’s question is exactly the one that made me a skeptic. If the entire project is built on dishonesty, defending dishonesty and refusing to speak out against dishonesty, then don’t tell me that the core work has an honest basis. Schneider was the poster boy for everything that is wrong is the global warming enterprise – he was the problem, not the solution.
While I think we can demonstrate an extensive record of dishonesty, corruption of the process, and bias which should give anyone pause, I think it is an easier path to simply show the lack of quality control which permeates every aspect of climate science. In terms of dialogue with alarmist scientists, this is the issue I’d like to see someone try to answer.
Assume the world is allegedly faced with a very serious problem which might require drastic measures involving extraordinary expense and the curtailing of some normal human freedoms — what process would we expect competent problem solvers to put in place to determine the facts? What kind of quality control would be implemented? What kind of redundancy, transparency, and review? It’s not hard to imagine how a well-designed process might work.
Now compare that competent, quality process to what we have in climate science and try not to burst out laughing.
As Judith has amply demonstrated, MarkB, there is no hope of ever getting a climate scientist to say one bad word about another climate scientist. Forget it. Not one of them is willing to take a public stand. I had hopes for Judith, but they’ve burnt out. Oh, she’ll speak out against scientific malfeasance, and for motherhood, no doubt, and against cruelty to animals and for being nice to each other. But trying to get her to publicly state that another climate scientist is doing something highly questionable? She is all for transparency, but won’t mention Lonnie Thompson not archiving his data.
There she is struck inexplicably mute, along with every other mainstream AGW scientist. And yet she wants us to believe that she is serious about trying to remedy the lack of trust …
Next, this whole thread is based on a false premise — there is no “double ethical bind”. It’s easy. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To do anything else is called “lying” anywhere but in politics and climate science.
Judith, truly, I don’t understand the “double bind”. Perhaps you could explain it to me. If the truth is not adequate to get you the public’s attention, are you truly saying we should distort things as Schneider advocates? To have a di-lemma, you need two options. One, of course, is the truth.
Other than telling the truth … what is the other option you are saying forms the other half of the dilemma?
Schneider never once considers the possibility that he might be wrong. He’s your basic SIF out to save the planet. His “double bind” arises from the fantasy that he is right, that he possesses inside information about a coming disaster. But it is precisely that claim which creates his “double bind”. The “double bind” is created only and solely by his own hubris, his belief that he has the secret knowledge, that he brings the true revelations of Thermageddon, that he has been chosen to save the day.
The rest of us have our beliefs, but unlike Schneider, not having egos that are big enough to require their own area code, we just tell the truth as we know it.
Anyhow, Judith, I truly am in mystery about the other lemma. One is the truth. What is the other, and why does it form a dilemma with the truth on the other horn?
Schneider says if scientists want to tell the truth, that
He says that as though it were a bad thing to mention his doubts. But in fact, that’s exactly what I want scientists to do. I WANT them to include their doubts, all of them. I want them to include every one of their ifs, ands, and buts. That’s their job as scientists, dammit, not an option that they can discard at whim.
That’s why we have scientists. Precisely because they don’t hide their doubts … or at least they didn’t used to. Now with Schneider’s guidance, however, climate scientists advance scary scenarios as blithely if they were Congressmen, and completely conceal any doubts, and make the most outrageous statements to try to sell their point of view, unconstrained by doubts or ifs or buts of any kind.
And that’s not science.
I don’t see any double bind. If you want to lie like a politician, don’t become a scientist. Go become a politician. No bind. If you want to be a scientist, you have to expose what you really think, warts and all. No bind.
Schneider wants to wrap himself in the mantle of scientific impartiality and authority, while at the same time saying it’s ok to not mention your doubts and to “offer up scary scenarios”. He needs to pick, one side or the other, either scientific authority or scary scenarios. It’s a simple choice, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or “hide the doubts”, Schneider’s intellectual precursor to “hide the decline”.
You can’t do both.
You write: “As Judith has amply demonstrated, MarkB, there is no hope of ever getting a climate scientist to say one bad word about another climate scientist. Forget it. Not one of them is willing to take a public stand.”
This is demonstably false. Eduardo Zorita has been quite outspoken regarding some of the shenanigans of Climategate. He has called the CRU five unfit for any future service on behalf of the IPCC. Hans von Storch has joined Zorita in condemning MBH98 (although he tried to steal credit from McIntyre). Also, Roger Pielke Sr has been publicly critical of the IPCC as a group and individual scientists.
But I will grant you that it is rare for climate scientists to criticize one another. Why should it be so rare? I cannot understand it. It is contrary to nature. Science is supposed to be self-correcting but when scientists refuse to correct the errors of others, science is only self-defeating.
You’re right, Ron, my passion outraced the censors. Let me restate it:
Science is self-correcting by scepticism. More scepticism, more self-correction.
I had hopes for Judith, but they’ve burnt out. Oh, she’ll speak out against scientific malfeasance, and for motherhood, no doubt, and against cruelty to animals and for being nice to each other. But trying to get her to publicly state that another climate scientist is doing something highly questionable? She is all for transparency, but won’t mention Lonnie Thompson not archiving his data.
The last time I saw Lonnie Thompson mentioned here Judith herself admitted that she no longer had access to some of her data from work she did years ago, so it would hardly be appropriate for her to criticise Thompson. Presumably you consider her to guilty of “highly questionable” practices as well. Frankly the demonisation of Thompson by some “skeptics” is both absurd and unprincipled, there is not a shred of evidence of any wilful improper behaviour on his part.
And I see little evidence that the “skeptics” are any more willing to condemn the misdeeds of people on their “side”. Nor do I particularly expect them to unless it is directly relevant to the discussion in hand. I’ve seen enough of this in other non-climate related forums – people who are more interested in turning the discussion into what I call a “will-you-condemn-athon” than actualy engaging in any meaningful discussion. It’s just boring.
I’m not sure why you consider Thompson’s continued refusal to archive data to be “without a shred of evidence”. What there is not a shred of evidence for to date is Thompson’s actual data. If you think Thompson has archived his data, please let us know where, as I’ve never heard that he archived it. If so, I’ll be the first to apologize to Lonnie … so where is the data, Andrew? Put your citations where your mouth is, or go home.
Next, your presumption about whether I would consider Judith guilty of something or other is just that … a presumption. Why are you babbling about things that you presume to be true? You haven’t a clue what I think of Judith, and your assumption that you do is just another sad joke. I actually respect Judith, despite her refusal to bear witness to the misdeeds around her.
Contrary to your next claim, I’m willing to condemn the misdeeds of people on either side. So, who else hasn’t archived their data? What misdeeds are you speaking of? Out with them, your nasty innuendo is just that so far. Do you have actual facts here?
Yes, some assistant of Wegman’s plagiarized some boilerplate that had nothing to with Wegman’s conclusions. If you can provide the person’s name, I’ll be sure to condemn them right here for you, despite their actions (unlike Thompson’s) being scientifically meaningless. Next? Is there a skeptic who has refused to share their work? I’ll get on their case as well.
Finally, I have no desire for a will-you-condemn-athon. What I would like to see is people standing up for principled science, rather than un-prinicpled people standing up for those who refuse to say a single bad word about anyone.
I’m not claiming that Thompson’s data is still available, it clearly isn’t. I fully accept the need for proper archiving of data, I also realise that in the real world things have not always happened as we would like, that doesn’t mean that people are guilty of impropriety. By all means lets put better controls in place but there is no need to throw silly accusations around.
My point about Judith was thay she also lost some of her data, I was merely wondering if you applied the same standard to her as to Thompson.
If you want the examples of the kind of behaviour by the skeptics which I had in mind, off the top of my head I would say the deliberate misrepresentation of Phil Jones’s statement about statistical significance, the events at Climate Research, the misinformation put out by the likes of Monckton, Plimer et al., the politically inspired witchhunt by Cuccinelli against Mann. I’m not demanding that you condemn them, this discussion isn’t about them, and if you say that you do criticise skeptics where necessary then I accept that, I wasn’t accusing you personally.
Thompson went half way around the world, and hauled equipment to the top of tall mountains to drill ice cores. You and I (if you are a US taxpayer) paid him to do that, specifically to collect that data.
Are you seriously claiming that after doing all that, he lost the ice core data? He lost the data we paid him to go climb tall mountains to collect, irreplaceable one-of-a-kind data? You’re going with that? That’s your final answer?
If so, a citation to where Thompson claimed that he lost it would be most welcome.
You write: “Next? Is there a skeptic who has refused to share their work? I’ll get on their case as well.”
I love Nicola Scafetta. I think he is brilliant and probably worthy of a Nobel Prize for his contributions. Seriously. However, I am sorry to say he has not archived or shared his code. Mosher has criticized him about it. I’ve talked to him about it, but he just does not see the necessity. He thinks he has provided enough information in his papers for anyone to follow his steps. I do not have the math skills to do it. McIntyre only audits papers cited by the IPCC, so he will never reverse engineer the code. AFAIK no one has attempted to replicate his work.
Should Scafetta be criticized? Possibly. But I think it would be far better service if someone would attempt to replicate Scafetta’s work and see if it holds up. If it does not hold up or it is found that his steps do not provide adequate information to replicate his work, then he should be criticized until he provides his code.
Are you willing to attempt to replicate Scafetta?
Ron Cram | July 22, 2011 at 1:45 pm
If the facts are as you state I certainly condemn his action by name in the strongest terms. The issue is not whether “anyone can follow his steps”. That is the time-wasting guessing game that Michael Mann forced on us.
The issue is whether there are mistakes in Scafetta’s work. Absent his code, there is NO WAY TO TELL if he has made even a trivial mathematical error, much less a serious one. This reduces Scafetta’s contribution to the status of anecdote, since it cannot be checked for error.
You seem to think that the scientific requirement for transparency (to allow others to find mistakes in the logic, math, data, or other aspects of the work) implies that I should be willing to waste my time trying to replicate the work of some fool who refuses to be transparent.
If you want to waste your time in that way, be my guest.
In the old days, before Michael Mann, it was common practice for people to describe their methods in a way that would allow others to replicate their work. If the work is truly simple to replicate, as Scafetta says it is in this case, then it ought to be enough. There is nothing about his character that leads me to think he is a Michael Mann equivalent on the skeptical side.
I wish I could change Scafetta’s mind, but I cannot. He is Italian and studied in Italy before getting his Ph.D. in Texas. It seems the old ways have been firmly entrenched in his mind. Unfortunately, I don’t have your math skills. Although I do need to learn how to use R.
Scafetta is an interesting guy who has contributed to science in many ways.
Thanks, Ron. I’d describe what you said as true if you replaced “before Michael Mann” with “before computers came into common use”.
The problem occurs because (in general) it is not possible to completely describe a computer program in English in the confines of a scientific paper.
As a result, unless we have Scafetta’s code, there are several blind alleys available:
1. Scafetta describes his code incorrectly. I spend months trying to replicate his results and can’t do so.
2. Scafetta describes his code correctly, but incompletely. I spend months trying to replicate his results and can’t do so.
3. Scafetta is deliberately concealing something. I spend months trying to replicate his results and can’t do so.
4. Scafetta, unknown to him, has made a subtle mathematical, logical or other error in his code. I spend months trying to replicate his results and can’t do so. (THis is what happened with Michael Mann’s code.)
5. Scafetta’s code is correctly described but for hidden reasons only works on certain datasets. I spend months trying to replicate his results and can’t do so.
There is no way (without access to the code) to distinguish between these possibilities. And I am unwilling to try to decide, through trial and error, which one of the possibilities is actually occurring. Maybe you have time for that. I don’t.
So I don’t care if Scafetta is old school or not, if he is honest or not, or if he’s Italian or not. If he doesn’t provide his code, he doesn’t even get a look-in by me. I’ve played that game twice now, with some scientist saying “you guess if and where I screwed up either accidentally or on purpose”. I will not play it again. This is 2011, and that’s not scientific transparency.
If Scapetta wants to catch up, that’s up to him. I’m not going to slow down to play his stupid “you figure out exactly what I did” games. If that’s the game he wants to play, I just leave him to play with himself …
Hey Willis. Judith pretty much napalmed all her climate science team bridges with her Hide the decline threads…
Barry Woods | July 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Reply
Yes, and I greatly admire her for doing that. I also admire her for this blog, which is an important one in the ongoing discussions. She’s one of the few AGW scientists to do either one of those, let alone both.
What I don’t understand is the general refusal of climate scientists to speak ill of one another. Or to be more accurate, I understand it all too well. Certain professions are famous for it, doctors and cops. And the public doesn’t like it in either of those professions either. When cops refuse to testify about a dirty cop, the reputation of all cops suffer, not just the guilty ones.
Mainstream AGW climate scientists desperately want to regain the public’s trust, but almost to a man (or woman) they still refuse to call out the charlatans and the bad actors in their midst. That’s the part I don’t understand, the part that seems like really foolish tactics even if we leave all the important ethical issues aside.
If I had detailed personal knowledge about a scientist’s malfeasance, I would speak up about it. I am not wading into something like the issues surrounding Mike Mann and making a judgment based on stuff I’ve read on blogs or wherever. I have stated that “hide the decline” was wrong. I have stated that scientists need to make their data publicly available. I have criticized the institutions, notably the IPCC. I cannot conceive of any reason that I should go beyond what I have already done in this regard.
Out of curiosity have you read http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/Climate_L.pdf ?
Is there nothing there you find worthy of criticism?
“What I don’t understand is the general refusal of climate scientists to speak ill of one another.”
Whilst on the whole I would agree with you I’m not sure it applies to scientists working on sea level reconstructions where there seem to be some intersting feuds :)
Schneider did make the distinction between “honest” and “effective” science.
implying that “effective” science is not “honest”.
My reading of Schneider is predicated in part on his long term association with Paul Erhlich. In addition, you have to watch carefully how scientists like Schneider frame up the issue. For example, in the extract of the interchange with MCDonald, Schneider is quoted as saying:
“So if a scientist is speaking in a bell curve, right and you allow some probability of a really nasty outcome and some probability of beneficial outcomes and every speech I give, go on YouTube will you find them, you will see I do this, I have no control about the fact that because I have concern about the more serious scenarios, and I do, I don’t want us to fall into that trap, I don’t take 10% risks with planetary life support system (my bold). That’s my personal view. That’s my personal values and I always say that.
This style of argument begs the issue. He casually inserts an arbitrarily high percentage for an undefined but implicitly scary catastrophic outcome. This is an Erhlich type argument. It is the type of argument that essentially is the equivalent of a “when did you stop beating your wife” question. Schneider’s embracing of uncertainty is IMHO a subterfuge and
a means of distracting those who are too courteous or too aware of there relative lack of specific knowledge in a particular area to demand that he be specific about his claims.
I am less impressed.
If Jim Hansen states “catastrophic warming will arrive by 2100”, or Richard Lindzen says “the ability of CO2 to warm the climate is very small”, each is failing to candidly acknowledge uncertainties or the existence of contrary views..
But if Hansen says “our calculations convince me that catastrophic warming will arrive by 2100”, or if Lindzen says “evidence I’ve reported tells me that the CO2 effect is probably very small”, each is being truthful. The difference is that the latter descriptions clearly announce that they are interpretations drawn by the individual who cites them rather than pronouncements from God.
If a scientist acknowledges that he or she is reporting a personal interpretation, there is nothing wrong in my view for that interpretation to be followed by the same scientist’s personal opinion of what actions should be taken (or not taken).
Perhaps the public wants certainty about the future, and thinks qualified statements are wishy-washy and show a lack of conviction.
Perhaps the public wants certainty about the future, and thinks qualified statements are wishy-washy and show a lack of conviction.
It is both unethical and a trap to give someone certainty that doesn’t exist. I’ve been there, and while it takes a certain amount of guts to stand your ground and explain why uncertainties exist, it’s easier than dealing with the sense of betrayal when things turn out differently than they were led to expect.
Sure, but if certainty is what the person wants, they may listen to the unethical person rather than you.
The only certainty is change, but many people refuse to face that. The Queensland Government won a landslide in the 2001 state election on a “denial of change” platform. And they were definitely unethical.
I don’t believe that the response to this issue should ever be to compromise truth and integrity oneself. Eventually, truth will triumph. The costs of seeking to bring about a preferred option, however meritorious, by lying and distortion are too high.
So, I should abandon ethics in support of the greater good? I think history might have a few examples of where that’s turned out badly. As I noted above, there’s also the downside of what happens when the audience finds out that you’ve held back.
Perhaps the public wants certainty about the future, and thinks qualified statements are wishy-washy and show a lack of conviction.
Post climategate, the public has had quite enough of scientists who:
“offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”
All that stuff is so C20th. A bit like the global warming.
You must be proud of speaking for the public.
I’m not speaking for them, I’m reporting what opinion polls reveal about them.
In what opinion polls does the public say they have had enough of scientists who:
“offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”
Agree 100% with Fred’s comment.
If you are honest, there is no “double blind’ when it comes to integrity. There is honest, and not honest. All the “post normal,” “post science” rationalizations in the world don’t make a dishonest statement honest.
And there is nothing wrong with opinion (even from climate scientists with whom I disagree – amazingly), as long as it is not dishonestly disguised as fact.
You all, can sure cut-a-rug but I gotta tell ya… your dancing with an inflatable doll.
Young Stephen Schneider
Doubted, then he doubted not.
Hey, climates change.
Thanks, Kim, for your continued good humor.
The sad fact is that Stanford, one of the most prestigious universities, literally awash in federal grant funds, has allowed itself to be dragged down by the fatal attraction of money.
As noted above, I suspect that the corruption of government science and the decline of Western economies result from secret policy agreements reached in China on the week of 21-28 February 1972.
We have seen the problem of advocacy-science in the area of AGW theory with its knowing and willing sacrifice of objective truth and practical knowledge on altar of political correctness. The extent that scientists continue to exhibit dishonesty and deceit that skeptics have been critical of for years is proof of a need for a thorough ground-up reform of the system of government-funded academia to remove the economic pressures to engage in questionable and improper conduct at the expense of truth.
“So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”
Prof. Schnieder apparently tried his best to deflate the impact of that comment for many years but couldn’t. He suffered for it and rightfully so, but his statement was accurate for a handful of scientists, and in the end it was that sort thinking that started the whole global warming controversy. Overstatement and exaggeration aren’t honest mistakes or effective debating techniqes; they are forms of lying. The ends did not justify the means, and the approach should have had no place in climate science. It is a dishonorable technique (even for politicians).
IMO, Prof. Schneider did not come off well in his exchange with Chris McDonald. The technical experts that contributed to the IPCC report never did as a group denounce the excesses and errors in the politically motivated executive summary. Where were they? Why didn’t they come forward? Why was it that the hated ” sceptics” had to be the ones to dig out the facts and help correct the record?
Does the following quote from Schneider’s 1989 statement bring anyone to mind?
‘First, consider a movie theater marquis selectively quoting a critic as having said a movie was “spectacular,” when the critic might have actually written: “…the film could have been spectacular if only the acting wasn’t so overplayed and the dialog wasn’t so trite…” You get the idea. We see this kind of distortion in sales and advocacy, by citizens and politicians, from businesses and ideologists, in the public and private sectors.’
I hope scientists stand up for what they think is right. I don’t like the idea of scientists being neutral on political issues. I think too many German scientist were like that during the Nazi era.
I do not believe that the basic problem was that “too many German scientists were neutral on political issues during the Nazi era”, but rather that they fell into the trap of supporting the political “party line” or “consensus” position.
Check your history books.
So most German scientists were evil rather than neutral?
Those who stayed in Nazi Germany, after their colleagues had been thrown out of their jobs and universities and even fled their country – yes, they were evil.
I am sure you’ve heard about the infamous declaration by a number of German physicists that Einstein’s Relativity Theory was un-germanic, and was ‘Jewish’ science?
Those physicists knew exactly what went on, and profited from it.
Yep – those who stayed behind in Nazi Germany were indeed evil.
Maybe M. Carey thinks Scientists are more god-like than the rest of us?
I always stand up for what I see as right, often at cost to myself. But I never lie, fudge or distort in doing so.
The double ethical bind is both a misnomer and misapprehension. When scientists stop discussing the uncertainties, they stop being scientists and so lose all credibility. The only proper way to keep credibility and the power to persuade is to do so ethically and scientifically.
Too many climate scientists have slipped their ethical moorings and attempted to create “scary scenarios and make simplified, dramatic statements” which has significantly damaged science in general and climate science in particular.
I defy anyone to name a science paper by Michael Mann in which the conclusions have survived after a thorough audit by Steve McIntyre. While Michael Mann may be a hero to some, the history of science will not consider him a good scientist or a persuasive advocate in the battle against climate change.
I think all of them. If you believe McIntyre said Mann’s conclusions are wrong because he knows what’s right, quote him.
I strongly disagree.
In science, you must ALWAYS be ONLY honest.
If you interpret the recent 30-years warming trend to continue you have dangerous MAN MADE climate change. (AGW position)
If you interpret the recent 130-years warming trend to continue, you have NATURAL climate change. (Skeptics position)
In the 1940s, if AGW advocates made the same prediction that they are making now, they would have been wrong. (http://bit.ly/n7Wkjk)
Can we wait just a decade which way nature goes before wasting billions on the wrong problem?
An excellent comment.
“In science, you must ALWAYS be ONLY honest.”
I could not agree more. Anything less will only bring discredit to science and delay political action.
And leave saving the world to Batman.
There is no way to assign motives, but the net effect of al lof this posturing over ‘communications’ in cliamte science ahs been to in effect rationalize not telling the truth and to sell fear over fact.
As long as the AGW community at once publicly worries about ‘communications’ and then tolerates what was exposed in climategate as well as the rationalizations in media to pretend skeptics do not exist or having nothing worth reporting climate science will be dubious at best.
A question that does come to mind is why would the likes of Schneider or Ehrlich be held as anything other than the butts of jokes about how wrong scientists can be?
What you’re looking at hear is the notion of the ‘good lie’ in that the reason to lie validates the lie itself. Although common in human transactions, it has no place in science. For who decides what is a ‘good reason’ and how can you objectively come to this value in any way that makes sense when you are carrying out research which is reportedly done to scientific standards? Once you accept its possible you start looking not for data but for supportive data and you start to design research in such a way as to achieve ‘desired’ outcomes not the outcome due to the facts.
Once you consider hyping the results to generate a preferred public decision or action, you’ve slipped the traces.
And I’ve never once heard Schneider or his ilk detail the economic and human costs of the “mitigations” they are prepared to throw their influence and dissembling behind. It’s not hard to demonstrate that a) they are at least as severe as the downsides projected for substantial warming, and b) are at least one order of magnitude more likely. In financial risk and expected cost analysis, this makes mitigation a REALLY bad investment choice.
Alarmist concerns over catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (aka “climate change”) is causing a systemic bias to the debate. Victor Davis Hanson in Green, Shovel-Ready Stimulus — 100 Years Ago exposes the drastic change in policy and risk management over the last century.
I would be satisfied if scientists would frequently say: 1) Clouds are a very important component of Climate, but we don’t have a comprehensive understanding to how they are formed. 2) Aerosols are important and we don’t understand them either. 3) Indirect solar effects on Climate may have more influence on Climate than we have considered in the past. 3) We are still debating the different temperature records and trying to determine whether the quality is adequate and whether we observe a man-induced signature in the temperature record. 4) We primarily depend on computer models for our projections but have not been able to validate them. 4) Our models amplify the direct effect of man-made CO2 but we are still in debate as to the size and the sign of that factor.
Now we have a starting point for our discussions about the science and communication strategies.
See how easy that was? Hank just correctly communicated the state of climate science in a single paragraph and not an ethical bind in sight, never mind a double one.
Hank, you have summarized it completely and succinctly.
This is exactly what a “scientist should frequently say”, and it is also precisely what an activist can never concede. This is the essence of Schneider’s “dilemma” between “honesty” (as a scientist) and “effectiveness” (as an activist).
You want scientists to be dishonest to satisfy you?
Perhaps I need more education. Would you provide me with scientific citations which refute my understanding of the current state of Climate Science?
You have it backwards. If you want scientists to be in agreement with your understanding of the science, it’s up to you to convince them.
M. carey –
You might want to read that more carefully. Hank asked for information from you. Are you so uncivil as to refuse him? :-)
You are being an ass, or else you have much less understanding than you imply.
I think Schneider and Russill both have a fallacious methodology. In order to identify this false methodology one needs only consider a proper methodology, its axioms or corollaries, and a few relevant quotes.
In science, the methodology is validation, and confidence intervals that give predictions, laws, etc, the statistical or observed power to explain or predict. From R^2, to Hurst coefficients, the properties are known and that includes what is known, unknown, or problematic, and often what is contentious. It is the repeated demonstration of this power that gives one confidence in the consensus of those who utilize these laws, methodologies, and/or statistics.
But what Schneider and, indirectly, Russill propose is a consensus of subjective probability to replace validation. An example from Schneider is “Scientists deal with different types of uncertainty and respond to them differently, and we must keep that in mind…. However, there is a second kind of probability that involves judgments: subjective probability.” He has erroneously conflated uncertainty and subjective probability. The error is that the subjective is not validated, and no matter what size consensus one has, it remains unvalidated, to mean unscientific. An example from Russill is “In these examples, he demonstrates that the fact of scientific uncertainty provides no basis for preferring “wait and see” policy orientations over precautionary perspectives. His argument is clear, compelling, and correct”. Russill fails to realize that in his own words that this part of his review of Schneider indicates that “they are expressions of deeper difficulties.” The Russill problem is failing to realize that stepping away from validation and embracing subjective probability is to cross the line from scientist to politician or seer. Further, in “Schneider’s earliest efforts privileged deterministic formulations of uncertainty, as conveyed through his dice roll and coin flip metaphors” Russill fails to recognize that the dice or coin examples are, in direct contrast to the subjective probability, validated phenomena with great explanatory power versus the conflation that Schneider is expressing when he states “I don’t take 10% risks with planetary life support system” a stated subjective probability.
At this point, the methodology is easy to see, validation with be replaced by consensus. Confidence intervals will be replaced by fear and simplicity: “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” Explanatory power will be replaced with items that “capture the public’s imagination.”
Russill/Schneider make a further unsupported claim: ”The loyalty to scientific method and to scientific norms of communication had to be reconciled with the conventions of media operations if one hoped to access and influence the public. “ It is not about communicating the science of climate change or the scientific method, or following the scientific norms of communication, but rather the communication of subjective probability. The double ethical bind is caused by a belief system, yet is portrayed as a scientific problem. The continued calls, for skeptical discourse to somehow acquiesce to the replacement of the validation by subjective probability, underscores the multitude of self inflicted problems that the climate change activists have foisted on themselves. The continued demonization of critics, scary stories, calls to consensus, marginalizing critics and their works, are part of the arsenal of a belief system; the orthodox, versus the heterodox, the apostate, and the heretic, not science.
Dr. Curry ,it is not a chicken and egg issue at play here. It is about methodology. The question is: why are climate scientists allowed special privilege to subvert validation and the scientific method with, in their own words, a subjective probability in public media based on their values, and what they personally are willing to risk!
The precautionary principle is a rhetorical device to establish a moral ascendancy for Schneider’s, and others, refusal to accept a 10% subjective probability of risking the planetary life support system.
I, in particular ,disagree that “”Schneider’s work has been important for advancing a robust precautionary perspective for climate change but that it may be insufficient for carrying this perspective through to fuller expression”” I maintain that is is in large part the start and culmination of the problems the public, espoused through the skeptics, has with the presentation of climate change.
And as has been pointed out by other posters, the inflation and deflation, of costs in risk analysis by this subjective probability, will tend to convinve the public that mitigation is a bad investment choice. This is not caused by the science and its consideration, but by the admitted subjectivity and the values of those who chose to decide what was best for the world, who decided validation and power could be replaced by subjectivity and hype subjected to their world view on acceptable risks.
Another excellent comment. My goodness Judy, you’ve done well in getting such high quality contributions to the table here. I hope it doesn’t turn out to be Lisbon II, where the CAGW proponents by and large concede the field.
Let’s have it out.
“”The loyalty to scientific method and to scientific norms of communication had to be reconciled with the conventions of media operations if one hoped to access and influence the public. “
The choice was to reject the scientific method so they could be popular with the ‘in’ crowd. Their hopes to access and to influence the public may have been all to human, but they should never serve as legitimate reasons to short circuit science.
John Pittman | July 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm | wrote:
“The continued calls, for skeptical discourse to somehow acquiesce to the replacement of the validation by subjective probability, underscores the multitude of self inflicted problems that the climate change activists have foisted on themselves.”
The bell curve (including the Bayesian one) is a TERRIBLE analogy. (Nature isn’t random.)
The premise that a message needs to be forced upon an unreceptive audience deserves more challenge. When will climate scientists have SUFFICIENT time to study nature (a task requiring far more than a full human lifetime) while raising families, teaching, tending to administrative duties, and additionally taking neverending courses in the psychology of persuasion?
You have captured my position too.
As McIntyre says, you have to watch the pea with folks like Schneider.
Thanks for bringing us this very interesting post.
The “talking past each other” syndrome may be a part of the communication problem, as you write, but I believe that the real problem is that scientists should NOT act as activists. Period.
A scientist cannot at the same time remain objective and open if he/she is concerned about selling his preconceived message, no matter how noble or well thought out he/she believes this message to be.
A true scientist does not have to face the dilemma of either being honest or effective; an activist does.
It is clear from Schneider’s earlier remarks that he shifted from being a scientist to acting as an activist. You state that he was instrumental in shaping the AGW message, but I maintain that he did so at the expense of his reputation as an objective scientist.
It is clear from Hansen’s “coal death trains” remarks, etc. that he has also crossed the line. As a result, few people now really take him seriously as a scientist.
As was pointed out in an earlier post, the “consensus” is a manufactured political construct rather than a scientific concept, so has no place in a scientific discussion.
Russill’s “seven points” for scientists to follow in communicating with the public do not address the basic problem.
Climate scientists have to realize that they have lost public confidence precisely because they have been caught acting as activists rather than as objective scientists.
That is the root cause of the problem.
All the rest is empty rationalization and sidetracks IMO.
It would be very hard to rationalize providing something of absolutely no value to society on someone else’s dime–if you had a consicience. And, worse yet, to the extent scientists help fascilitate a hoax–for money– they become willing accomplices in helping to perpetuate a fraud upon humanity. That is when cognitive dissonance sets in and they are no longer able to hear or accept anything that discomfiting to their effete snob sensibilities.
I’m just wondering how honest you are being about this Max!
Wasn’t your initial reaction to dismiss the AGW issue as a hoax? You keep pretty quiet about that now, with all your high sounding talk about “objectivity”!
Anyone who claims there is a conspiracy and that these “so called experts” are “all in on it” doesn’t have any credentials to lecture on that topic.
can you show us where in Max’s comment you found the quotes you enclosed in speech marks please.
Also, could you show us where he “claims there is a conspiracy”
(about a third of the way down the page)
Forget all the junk science by so-called experts that are all in on the multi-billion dollar “climate research scam”.
Use your common sense. It’s all a hoax.
It’s all a racket.
That article you link is by someone called Mark Thomas, not Max. If you are commenting on that article, and not Max’s comment, why are you doing it here rather than there?
It’s Mark Thoma. And tempterrain was pointing to a comment by Max, not the article itself.
Thanks for the correction ratty. I did wonder when Mark Thomas gave up harassing MP’s with funny tricks and became an economist. I still think tt should respond to what people say on the thread they say it.
Sometime what people do say on one thread seems to be inconsistent with what they say on another thread, or even another website or blog. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to point that out.
You are quite welcome to Google whatever I may have said elsewhere and do the same if you feel I’m possibly being inconsistent too. I don’t think I am though.
What I said four years ago on a blogsite was an initial reaction to IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM report, which had come out earlier and which I discovered was full of errors, exaggerations and distortions (these have since been summarized in a handy reference file by PaulM).
I had also just seen Al Gore’s “AIT” movie with the frightening two-meter waves and the “hockeystick” graph going to the ceiling.
The hockeystick fiasco also played a role
So, after pretty much accepting what I had previously heard and read about AGW, I became very much disillusioned with what, in its extreme form, had become a “hoax” in my opinion. AR4 SPM, AIT and the hockeystick exposé were my “tipping points”.
On the other hand, I have never thought that there was a “conspiracy” at work here, just a “collusion of interests” between a loose network of some very powerful individuals, corporations, groups and a handful of overeager climate scientists.
I have had the opportunity and have taken the time since then to learn more about the various scientific studies that have been published.
I am sure that this has modified my views somewhat, but I am still very skeptical of the so-called “mainstream consensus view” a) that AGW, caused principally by human CO2 emissions, has been the cause of most of the past century’s warming and b) that it therefore represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment.
Until I see empirical evidence (in the form of actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation) to support this premise, I will remain rationally skeptical of it. So far there has been none.
In fact, there have been physical observations on static or slightly cooling atmospheric and ocean temperatures despite observed CO2 increase to record levels (Trenberth’s “travesty”). So far these have only covered a time span of a bit more than 10 years, and we are told that this is too short to mean much, but if this continues, I would see it as a direct falsification of the above “dangerous AGW” hypothesis.
So I hope this clears up where I stand for you, Peter (and for anyone else that might be interested).
Please show me where I have stated that there is a “conspiracy”.
How honest are YOU being?
You’ve used phrases like:
“so- called experts that are all in on the multi-billion dollar climate research scam”
If the experts were really “all in on” it as you claim, then they would certainly be conspiring. That’s what a conspiracy is. That is the meaning of the word.
What would you call it?
A scam is not a conspiracy nor is a conspiracy a scam. One can of course conspire to run a scam, but, by definition, they are not the same.
Nor is there anything in the quote yo provide to indicate that they are all conspiring – only that they are all partaking of the multi-billion dollar climate research gravy train. That does not require conpiracy – only the ability to write grant requests.
Are you sure your milk-tongue is English? :-)
If you don’t like the word “conspiracy”, how about the word “collusion”?
That seems to be synonymous with both “scam” and “conspiracy”.
bait and switch, bill of goods, bunco, cahoots, complicity, con game, connivance, conspiracy, craft, deceit, diddling, dodge, double-cross, fast shuffle, flam, flimflam, fradulent artifice, graft, guilt, guiltiness, gyp, intrigue, plot, racket, scam, scheme, shell game, skunk, sting*, trick, whitewash
How about the word “collusion?” The synonyms include both “scam” and “conspiracy”, so maybe we can agree on that?
1.an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.
2. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.
I have never thought that there was an “evil, unlawful plan formulated in secret between various parties” (i.e. a “conspiracy”) promoting the “dangerous AGW” premise.
I have since seen it best described as a loose “collusion of interests” by Peter Taylor in his book Chill, which (according to this review):
I hope you are able to distinguish the difference. It is subtle but important.
You do realize that you were accusing the entire climate science community participating in a scam and a hoax?
So, you’re accusing them of doctoring the results of their studies to say what their funders want them to say.
As much as you want to deny it, there does need to be a conspiracy, “they all in on it [the scam]” , for your theory to work.
You can’t get away with describing an animal which looks a bit like a small horse, has black and white stripes, lives in Africa and then telling me it isn’t a zebra!
Forget silly “zebra” analogies.
You made a false claim that I called the climate change scam a “conspiracy”.
I did not.
It’s just that simple.
I agree with Peter Taylor that it was NOT a “conspiracy”, but a loose “collusion of interests” between powerful interest groups.
Tony Newbery had a very interesting blog on this network of interest groups, which I am sure you will recall.
Otherwise, I suggest you read Peter Taylor’s book Chill.
So maybe you’d prefer the term “Collusion theorist” ?
But anyway, collusion and conspiracy are synonymous:
Hansen has crossed the line?
AGW is the story of a wacky enviro-cum-religious-cum-Leftist political movement. And, the religion survives still. AGW religion is one of hypocritical western urban elitist snobs complete with fantastic predictions by doomsday prophets about rivers running red!
What about AGW politics? Should it matter that it is impossible to `detect’ within the natural variation of the continually changing climate any global warming due to human activities? The liberal mainstream media and the ethical and moral relativism of the Left says, “hell nyet!“
“the double ethical bind arises when a scientists tries to influence the public and policy.”
I think it arises whenever scientists try to be useful. Governments, and the public, need sometimes to make decisions which depend on scientific facts. So they go and ask scientists. As a scientist, what do you say?
Well, you can say, on the one hand this, on the other hand that, wave the Italian flag etc. But what have you communicated? It’s likely, as Schneider said, that your honesty can’t be faulted, but your communication may have been ineffective. They’ll ask someone else. If the same thing happens, no-one will end up wiser.
Or you can try to respond in a way that may be helpful to the people who are asking you. That will involve making judgments about what is most important to convey. And as Schneider says, one would try strenuously to do that honestly.
It is really important that governments act with an awareness of science. And there’s no point in bashing scientists who are actually trying to help.
And BTW this issue is by no means exclusive to climate science. Or even to science. How much do we value the economists who say “on the one hand …”.
You are misrepresenting Schneider. He did not say “one would try strenuously to do that honestly.”
He said “I hope that means being both.”
If one or the other had to suffer, it was clear Schneider would have honesty suffer and not the cause. In his mind, he (and his fellows) were saving the world. Schneider suffered a severe delusion – that scientists could be credible and inflammatory at the same time.
I would say that Schneider was aware that any expressed scientific doubts would be exaggerated by those who do oppose any action on climate.
Even the slightest ones. Their response would have been, and still is, “go away, do some more research and come back again when you are 100% sure”!
Of course, no one can ever be totally sure. The IPCC have been more than honest in saying that.
One should first ask one’s self if a policy or advocacy is fit for purpose.
I think today’s problem arises when scientists try to force their fears of a subjective probability on the general public by eschewing validation for that subjective probability by replacing confidence intervals with fear mongering and simplistic, unrealistic descriptions, and explanatory power as understood by scientists, engineers, and statisticians with these simplistic, unrealistic descriptions that capture the public’s imagination. But only for a short while!
The problem is that they never seem to have considered there is such a thing as buyer fatigue, and common sense. An example of common sense is the horrible “we have 158 days to save the world” that came and went, and now science, as proclaimed by these media proponents, appears to be on the same level as the millennial apocalypse shamans.
Well, you can say, on the one hand this, on the other hand that, wave the Italian flag etc. But what have you communicated? It’s likely, as Schneider said, that your honesty can’t be faulted, but your communication may have been ineffective. They’ll ask someone else. If the same thing happens, no-one will end up wiser.
What has Schneider communicated? That it is acceptable to replace validation with a subjective probability, and replace reasoned discussion with fear mongering and unrealistic, unscientific descriptions for verified and validated explanatory power from a proven methodology. The problem is that the public ended up wiser. They now are starting to doubt that climate change is a real issue. Not a scientific stance, but rather like Frankenstein’s monster, they have turned on the creator of this subjective probability. They have enough sense to see it is an affirmation of confirmation bias and the right of one’s point of view to trump scientific methods and conclusions. Why shouldn’t one, as the polls indicate is happening, adhere to one’s stance on the policy should be determined by one’s belief in how it effects one’s point of view of the world and one’s responsibility, or even one’s pocketbook? This IS what Schneider did. The public has learned to emulate. They do the same.
As an economic policy adviser, I sought to give a range of options to resolve policy issues with the merits and demerits, costs and benefits of each. Given that governments like to act, this might include the “do-nothing” option so that in making a choice, the politicians were cognisant of this option. Depending on circumstances, I might argue the merits of a particular option and make a recommendation; but I would not distort the data or arguments to favour my preference. I would not pretend certainty where there was doubt. Why should it be any different for scientists?
Of course, the knowledge and capacity of politicians in the particular field, economics, climate science or whatever, may be limited. Frequently the advice would be presented at different levels: a summary for the time-challenged readers; a more detailed exposition for policy officers who were non-experts; and an exposition sufficient to satisfy professional economists that the work was well-founded. Again, scientists advising government can do this. The problem with the IPCC seems to be that the work has always been done to achieve a particular agenda rather than to provide an impartial basis for an informed choice.
Of course, working for the UK, Australian and Queensland governments at times from 1964-2002, I have formed views in many areas on which policies would most serve the public interest as I see it. But my job as an adviser was not to present from my personal perspective, and while I have contributed to public debate, e.g. via newspaper letters columns, when working for government I never did so on the topics on which I was advising government. I am sure there must be advisers in many fields who have a similar experience: your job is to provide the evidence and information needed for a choice to be made, not to make the choice yourself then promote it.
I know it is fashionable to say that global warming alarmists are not evil just nuts. However, that is quite an odd attitude when you consider that these are the very people who go out of their way to characterize other people who work in the oil, coal, automobile, and nuclear industries–and, everyone working in business that use power to produce needed goods and services–as purveyors of poisonous CO2.
The implications of that are very sobering, Wagathon.
Even odder, people in the nuclear power industry don’t produce a significant amount of CO2, and yet almost to a person, the anti-carbon zealots hold them as the most evil of all. There’s something about this that’s about something other than carbon.
I doubt that. Do you have evidence?
If he’s makin’ that up, I’ll glow in the dark.
The policy of the ALP and Greens in Australia is that the nuclear energy option can not even be discussed. We have no framework, regulations or body of trained engineers which would allow the option to be explored. Arguments that, given the long lead time before a nuclear power station could come online, the relevant regulatory framework should be developed so as to open the possibility of future plants is shouted down. The ALP has accepted the Greens’ demand that $A10 bn be devoted to explore “alternative” energy options, there is no provision whatsoever for exploring the nuclear option. (Oops, I’ve just realised your comment is not on P.E.’s post but on Wagathon’s; but his comment is true of the “debate” in Australia.)
Oops again, I’ve been misreading the reference-back lines. However.
The ALP are in the coal industry’s pocket – that’s why!
Hansen is for nuclear power, even after Fukushima.
I find your main post and the paper it discusses to be interesting; yet not supportive of the actual very elementary and simple situation wrt climate science versus basic ethics.
Rational beings can be found at all levels of education, even the level with no formal education. They can be found across virtually all skill levels, jobs and professions. They are found within the cultures across the face of the earth.
Scientists hold no special form of reason and rational ability. They are not uniquely privileged or indispensable in the acts of reasoning that they perform. Also, they hold no special exemption from simple ethics. It is a common situation of all of mankind as mankind with no exemptions.
When speaking within their own profession, climate scientists must simply be totally honest. Where lack of honesty occurs in the profession then science in general should act promtly to protect its reputation vigorously. That is it. You know, sort of like most young children are required to learn the lesson of telling the truth, and adults act to correct a child when he does not.
I do not wish to be trite by saying this but everything the article’s author and you need to know about honesty in climate science you learnt by the 6th grade of elementary school.
I cannot perceive any merit in the referenced article and your post when it emasculates the simple ethics that apply to the scientific profession in the climate science area.
Question: Do you perceive any part of simple ethics (wrt climate science) that need extensive modification after >2500+ years of western civilization? Likewise, the same question with many more thousand years of the other existent civilizations of earth.
As always thanks for providing this open venue (rivaling the turn of the century salons of Paris and Vienna). Thanks for stimulating topics.
Supported by my above comment, 7/22 5.05 a.m (7.05 pm in Brisbane).
Schneider’s ‘ethical double bind’ is the same that Bush’s CIA waterboarding boys faced. They knew American law and American moral standards, but after all, these are terrorists! Nothing but ‘ends justify the means’ where WE decide what the means should be.
Never confuse legality with morality. And never use badly misinformed political talking points to create a strained analogy in a science blog.
The HadCRUT3 global surface temperature record goes back to 1850.
Two indistinguishable 30-year warming cycles in the 20th century (1910-1940 and 1970-2000) plus a slightly less pronounced earlier late 19th century warming cycle (1850-1880) with 30-year cycles of slight cooling in between and a most recent 10-year “tail” of slight cooling (but it’s too early to say whether or not this will become a longer cycle).
The entire record shows an underlying warming trend of 0.7°C or around 0.043°C per decade.
That is what the record shows (warts, blemishes and all).
The underlying warming trend started long before there were any significant human GHG emissions and has continued.
Statistical studies have concluded that the record is a “random walk”, statistically speaking.
The warming/cooling cycles do not correlate with atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Where there is no robust statistical correlation, the case for causation is extremely weak.
IPCC has concentrated essentially all of its efforts on the last warming upswing (AR4 WG1 Ch.3, p.240):
It is a pity that IPCC has picked only this “blip” in the overall record for detailed analysis, inasmuch as the observed “upward trend” may simply be a repetition of the earlier 30-year warming cycles.
I certainly hope that IPCC will do a better job in its future AR5 report of analyzing the entire temperature record.
If the present 10-year slight cooling “blip” continues, I also hope that IPCC will take some time looking for explanations and possibly conceding that this may be the start of a new naturally-caused 30-year cycle of slight cooling (as we have witnessed in the past).
Let’s see whether or not IPCC will be prepared to put some of its AR4 assumptions and conclusions under closer scrutiny in preparing its new AR5 report.
Instead of an introduction stressing improvements in the confidence of the new and comprehensive data leading to the stated observations and conclusions as we saw for AR4 WG1 SPM, an ideal pre-amble for the new report would be your 6-point statement of July 21,2011 at 4:13 pm, which I will repeat here for interested readers:
Sounds like a good start…
The HadCRUT3 wood-for-trees link should be:
What was this particular exercise in cherry-picking time periods supposed to show?
By “cherry-picking” were you referring to the IPCC selection of the period starting with the “climate shift” of 1976?
Re the OLS plots, your cherry-pick is 2001-2011. Why are you comparing this 11-year period with three earlier 30-year periods?
Because it isn’t 2030 yet?
Rather than the 162-year 1850-2011, you could have used the 160-year 1852-2011 period, which would have given you a choice of equal length sub-periods for your OLS analysis (e.g., 10 years, 20 years, 40 years) with no years left over.
which would have given you a choice of equal length sub-periods
Who ever told you that nature – or climate – operates on equal length sub-periods?
That’s an unwarranted ASSUMPTION on your part.
Ha Ha ! That from he who thinks the 2000 decade starts with 1998.
M. carey –
Wasn’t it the Chief who instructed you on why starting with 2000 or 2001 was a form of “cherry picking? You don’t listen well, do you.
Could have, would have, should have…
Instead of random cherry-picking of time periods in the HadCRUT3 temperature record to look at, as you suggest (and as IPCC has done in AR4), I simply took the ENTIRE record since its start in 1850.
An “eye-ball” look at this record suggests that there have been multi-decadal oscillations of warming and slight cooling lasting around 30 years each, for a complete cycle of around 60 years.
So I have simply broken the record into these 30-year segments to see if there really are statistically distinguishable cycles and linear trends.
Voila! The “eye-ball” look was right.
The linear equations for these periods are:
1850-1880: y = 0.083x – 0.486; +0.25C change over cycle
1881-1910: y = -0.003x – 0.240; -0.10C change over cycle
1911-1940: y = 0.152x – 0.531; +0.47C change over cycle
1941-1970: y = -0.002x – 0.094; -0.07C change over cycle
1971-2000: y = 0.152x – 0.008; +0.46C change over cycle
Then we have the 10-year period starting after 2000, which is too short to represent a cycle, but which has shown slight cooling rather than steep warming, as was observed over the previous full cycle.
The linear equation here is: y = -0.002x + 0.439
Is this the beginning of a longer-term cycle of slight cooling, as we saw previously?
I do not know the answer to this question any more than you do. Or than James E. Hansen does, for example. Nobody knows.
Girma has carried this analysis one step further in finding a “best fit” sine curve on a tilted axis that covers almost the entire record (starting in 1880) and carrying it out into the future.
These data simply suggest that there must be something out there that is causing these multi-decadal cycles of warming and slight cooling beside simply human GHGs, which have seen no cyclical trend.
No, it suggests that you didn’t plan ahead, and therefore ended up with five 30-year periods, and 11 years left over. Besides everyone already knows both nature and man affect global temperature.
M. carey –
Are you really that confused? You should quit while you’re behind.
Jim, you’r just peeved because I caught you red-handed trying to pull a fast one in your July 20 9:04 pm post in the “Essay on our evolving climate.”
M. carey –
I’m not peeved – I’m amused.
I don’t allow you enough importance in my life to let you raise my blood pressure. :-)
It would have been good to go back to 1998 which was a very warm year but unfortunately 1999 and 2000 were quite cool and they spoil the argument.
So, 2001-2011 (or 2010) is the best period for Max to use.
Irish writer Phelim McAleer slammed Schneider’s hypocrisy…
You’ve raised an important topic on the question of flying. Yes, people like James Hansen are saying flying should be on the list of things to tackle as regards climate change, but, no, it shouldn’t be at the top of the list.
The highest priority is to drastically reduce the use of coal as a fossil fuel. I’m not an aviation expert , but as far as I know there aren’t too many aeroplanes which derive their energy directly from coal.
Don’t they use kerosene? In the future it’s possible that liquefied natural gas be used , or even hydrogen. But as I say, lets tackle the use of coal for electricity generation first.
lets tackle the use of coal for electricity generation first.
OK – now how do you propose to do that?
Where do you want to start?
What would you replace it with?
Over what time period?
At what cost?
Or are you advocating for the end of electricity generation altogether?
You apparently don’t know that gas fired plants are being installed in some places. But how long will it be before you start agitating for those to be shut down? They DO produce CO2, you know.
And then there are the major coal plants in China that are being installed at a one per week rate. Who’s going to convince the Chinese to shut those down? not to mention the Indians, Brazilians, Malaysians, etc.
You’re moving your lips, tt, but you’re not saying anything useful. Your “solution” is unworkable at the present time. It will happen someday – but neither of us are likely to be around to see it.
“how do you propose to do that”?
I agree with James Hansen. Although the renewables have their place , nuclear power is the only viable long term option.
nuclear power is the only viable long term option.
Yes – now how are proposing to accomplish that end? Especially since a very high percentage of the left is still anti-nuclear and likely to stay that way? How are you going to convince them to stop bringing nuisance lawsuits and holding demonstrations, etc wrt every proposed reactor project?
We’ve been through this before – “your” people are the ones who’ve been blocking nuclear for the last 50 years. How are you gonna convince them?
Yes, in Germany the left are anti nuclear. Less so in the UK, the last Labor government (do they qualify as left?) was in favour of more reactors. In France the left are actually pro -nuclear.
In Australia, neither the left nor the right are pro-nuclear. Mind you, that may have more than a little to do with the strength of the coal mining lobby here. I think it might be the same story too in the USA. They are the strongest opponents of nuclear power.
This in itself sounds reasonable (although post-Fukushima it may not be politically feasible).
But Hansen’s proposal to shut down all US coal-fired plants (and replace them with nuclear?) by 2030 does not.
As I showed you earlier, this scheme would result in a theoretical global warming reduction of 0.08C by 2100, at an investment cost of $1.5 trillion.
A “hare-brained scheme”, as I am sure you would agree.
You suggest that “flying” should be next on a list of things to “tackle” to save our planet from rampant CO2-caused global warming.
How about breathing?
OK if you like. We’ll start with climate change deniers , of course!
Well, you’re the one who’s concerned about CO2. So show us how – lead the way.
Kinda reminds me of some of the groups who encourage suicide in order to reduce population. I’ve invited a number of them to lead the way – but they have all failed to exhibit the most basic leadership qualilties.
I think you just failed, too.
My “idiotic ad hom” detector just went off.
Is that what you just posted?
The real question is why is Schneider admired for explaining why it is OK to lie if you really really really think it is important?
The real question is why is Schneider admired for explaining why it is OK to lie if you really really really think it is important?
But he wasn’t alone, hunter.
The political Left does it out of hatred.
Marxists do it out of pragmatism.
The radical Muslims do it as a religious imperative.
It’s endemic to most of those who would destroy Western civilization.
Was he one of them? I don’t know and he can no longer tell us.
He didn’t say that. He mentioned scary scenarios. but not fictitious scary scenarios.
Stephen Schneider and Judith Curry are two scientists who haven’t (hadn’t) been in any significant scientific disagreement. One was guilty of understating the uncertainty, the other is guilty of overstating it.
If one is lying , both are lying.
Most of the scary scenarios are fictitious scary scenarios. You’d be hard pressed to find the few that aren’t.
Let’s check the accuracy of your statement.
Pretty straightforward to me, Peter.
Then you make the idiotic comparison of Schneider “understating the uncertainty” and Judith “overstating” it.
Schneider already admitted that he would not shy away from exaggerating things to be effective in getting his message across.
Do you have any evidence to support your statement that Judith is “overstating uncertainty”?
Or are you simply bloviating again?
That word “Bloviating” again! Is it a proper word even? My spell checker says no!
Anyway, evidence to support my claim of Judith overstating uncertainty? She’s said 1-10 degC for the 90% confidence limits for 2xCO2.
Well you tell me. Do you really think she’s got this right? Yes/No ? Or is it all just too uncertain to say?
get a new “spell checker”.
intr.v. Slang, -at·ed, -at·ing, -ates.
To discourse at length in a pompous or boastful manner: “the rural Babbitt who bloviates about ‘progress’ and ‘growth'” (George Rebeck).
We have gone through the 1-10 degC range for CS before, so see no need to repeat (all estimates I have seen lie within this range).
Yes, all estimates would lie in this range. It is too widespread, that’s why.
As I said, Judith Curry is overstating uncertainty levels, so I’m pleased that we agree on that at least.
Schneider helped rationalize away the distinction between ‘truth’ and ‘falsehood’.
Trying to drag Dr. Curry into that soup is not going to work.
I have a sense that this post and thread have wandered into territory tangential to the more critical issues raised by Steve Schneider’s past comments. If so, the fault lies mainly with Schneider’s ill-chosen words to describe his views on public communication, which implied that he perceived a conflict between honesty and effectiveness that at times required him to sacrifice the former for the latter. The result may be that we are discussing an issue that is much simpler and less vexing than the one Schneider actually had in mind.
Of course I don’t know this to be true, but I have enough experience with communication to understand that Schneider may have intended something more nuanced than a conflict between honesty and effectiveness. Because he isn’t here to correct me, I will impersonate him to suggest what he might have meant. In essence (I think), he would have argued that the issue is not whether to be truthful, but how.
Truthfulness is not synonymous with factuality, although it is incompatible with fact falsification except in literary works of fiction. Rather, it signifies a desire to communicate in such a way that an audience will reach the same conclusions you believe to be correct if they were provided the evidence you have available and were allowed to make up their own minds. In short, it entails an attempt to leave audiences with an impression that you believe to be truthful.
If you have an hour or more to communicate, the problem may not be challenging, because you cite the evidence, offer your interpretation, and try to ensure that your description of the evidence is objectively accurate and not subject to cherry-picking. To accomplish this, you must qualify assertions in terms of their uncertainties and the existence of conflicting data, while at the same time presenting the data that support your conclusions.
But suppose you only have 30 seconds. In that circumstance, you must leave out more than 95 percent of what you would have presented in an hour – in other words, you have no choice but to be highly selective. What do you include? What do you omit?
Even if you have rehearsed a prepared answer, the task becomes daunting, but it grows more so if an interviewer asks you a question you had not precisely anticipated, and you must respond immediately. Under these circumstances, how do you create a truthful impression?
I will simply suggest that it isn’t easy, and whatever choice you make, you are likely in retrospect to wish you had responded slightly differently. Thirty seconds hardly affords you time for a single caveat, much less the multiple qualifications to your main point that an hour would have afforded you. This becomes an extraordinarily difficult balancing act – if you qualify too much, you may leave an impression that you perceive to indicate untruthfully that your conclusions are not well supported. If you qualify too little, you may untruthfully imply that no uncertainties exist.
This is why I suggest that what Steve Schneider may have had in mind was the dilemma of how to be truthful, while agreeing with the rest of us that it is never acceptable to be untruthful. If we simply debate the latter principle, or attribute a willingness to be dishonest to scientists facing the communication dilemma, we may be missing the point.
Those of us who comment in this blog have more time to reflect on our answers before clicking on the submit button. I’m not sure, though, that we consistently achieve the degree of truthfulness that we demand of a scientist asked for an immediate sound bite by an interviewer. Some of us carefully avoid making factually false statements, but with equal consistency, omit factually true statements that would weaken the case we present. There is a concept in science known as “stating the facts without telling the truth”. Stating the facts may often be easy. Telling the truth is more of a challenge.
Yes, I think the last sentence of this often misused quote is telling: “I hope it means being both”.
The full quote is:
“Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”
“Each of us has to decide?” He HOPES that means both?
For a man of integrity, there is no “decision” whether to be effective or honest. You are honest, period. Effective comes second. And to say that it is for each to decide whether to value effectiveness over honesty is exactly the situational ethic that has destroyed the credibility of the consensus science with the public to date.
Your comment above at 1:05 pm was short, to the point, and a fair description of the issue:
“If Jim Hansen states “catastrophic warming will arrive by 2100″, or Richard Lindzen says “the ability of CO2 to warm the climate is very small”, each is failing to candidly acknowledge uncertainties or the existence of contrary views.”
Now you have to go and ruin it with a long, meandering rationalization that poor Steve Schneider just didn’t know how to express himself. He said what he said, he meant what he said, and what he said was an accurate description of the common practice of the “consensus” in trying to sell the poor stupid public on how dangerous CAGW is. James Hansen, Michael Mann and the hockey stick, the AR4 and its magical disappearing glaciers, are all classic examples of what Schneider advocated.
“A gaffe is when a politician speaks the truth.” And this was a gaffe by a scientist turned politician. Schneider was not talking about the difficulty of expressing a complex idea in 30 seconds. He was talking about how to sell the public on CAGW when an honest depiction of the science would require the acknowledgment of too much uncertainty. He and other consensus scientists just did not (and still do not) trust the public to make the “right” decision, if the scientists were open about the degree of uncertainty that is inherent in the consensus climate scientist’s predictions of future warming and its effects.
Schneider’s comments were expressly about whether to be honest, not how. It is demeaning to him, and his audience, to suggest he somehow did not know what he was saying.
Gary – Your mind reading skills are clearly better than mine. It is only a surmise on my part and not a certainty that Schneider was referring to the difficulty of imparting a truthful impression in a compressed time interval requiring him to leave out much material.
I’ll rephrase the issue, however, by stating that regardless of what Steve Schneider meant, I personally think being truthful in a short sound bite is very difficult. As to how well it’s accomplished by the participants who comment in this thread, with ample time to think before submitting comments, I’ll leave that to others.
I don’t need to read his mind, I read his own statement (and his lengthy attempt at rationalization), and your comment, which indicates you understood it exactly as I did..
“There is a concept in science known as “stating the facts without telling the truth”. Stating the facts may often be easy. Telling the truth is more of a challenge.”
I think that is an eminently fair description of what Schneider said, and meant. And NO, it is not a challenge to tell the truth, if you have integrity. Honesty is not a challenge for an honest man.
And I would love to know where you got the idea that there is a principle in “science” of “stating the facts without telling the truth.” That is what is called a lie of omission. It is why when witnesses are sworn to tell the truth in court, they are required to vow to state the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Only a dishonest person would find that a challenge.
Telling the truth (creating an accurate impression rather than merely reciting facts) during a brief interval is something I find difficult. If you don’t, you have more skill than I do, but I don’t consider you more honest than I am.
There is no “principle” in science known as “stating the facts without telling the truth”. That “concept” is well known, however, as a practice to be avoided.
“Telling the truth (creating an accurate impression rather than merely reciting facts)….”
The truth is not “creating an accurate impression.” The truth is not an impression. The truth is the facts. Your subjective wish to equate your subjective impression with truth is exactly what is wrong with Schneider’s comments, your defense of them. and much of climate science.
So what is the “truth”? That our knowledge of climate is completely certain? No. That it is completely uncertain? No. We have knowledge which is good in some areas, less good in others and scientists draw certain conclusions from that, some of which are again more certain than others, but as Nick Stokes has pointed out just telling the public that does little to help the public understand the actual risks involved. The IPCC took 1,000+ pages to communicate the current state of our knowledge, what Schneider is talking about is trying to condense that information down into “bite size” chunks for public consumption. That is a difficult task, trying to balance the real (as Schneider sees it) risk and the need for action against portraying the varying level of certainty about different aspects of the science. “Just tell the truth” is a fine and principled aproach, but as a piece of advice on how to communicate a complex scientific issue to the public it is pretty useless.
“The IPCC took 1,000+ pages to communicate the current state of our knowledge”
We can only wish. A more accurate assessment would be that the IPCC took Schneider’s advice to heart and honesty lost.
Do you think it would be possible to give a ful and accurate account of our current knowlege in less than 1,000 pages?
Having first encountered Schneider’s writings many years ago, I believe Gary M is correct and that you are trying too hard to defend the indefensible. It’s not about quick soundbites but about an entrenched philosophy of promoting a line rather than laying out facts and info from which people can make up their own minds; as has been said many times, advocacy rather than science.
We can only speculate what he meant to say. Writing the 1996 opinion piece gave Stephen Schneider ample time to reflect on what he said in the 89′ Discovery interview and to refute how others interpreted it, in fact he had nearly seven years to do just that. I appreciate what you are driving at, it is difficult to make a clear concise statement in a short time frame without time to reflect such as when you are interviewed. But the statement he made is open for the exact interpretation that many took…. i.e. that he was advocating telling ‘white lies’ in order to get the job done. He appeared to be advocating a way to get the general public to ‘go along’ with what he believed to be true. Every time I read this statement, I think of a parent telling his/her child a glossed over reason to do something just to get them to do it because the parent thinks the child will not understand the importance or reason. Problem with this is…. the general public needs to be treated like adults… not children.
John – Schneider did rebut the interpretation given to his comments, claiming that he emphatically did not believe in exaggerating or distorting the truth, and that he deplored the sound bite mentality that made it hard to convey a complete truth no matter what he said. Many remain unconvinced, and we can’t know now what he actually meant with his original comments. I think that the difficulty of being truthful is a more useful topic to pursue than the not very controversial desirability of truthfulness. That’s why it might be more informative for us to go beyond Schneider and discuss the difficult problem rather than the easy one.
Which of course is what the Russill paper is about.
Although I found his emphasis on the precautionary principle vs. “wait and see” puzzling. But it was an interesting paper.
Ok Fred… but rebutting seven years after the fact is a little weak IMO. I agree with everything else.
I’ve never found it difficult to be truthful, it’s been a core principle of mine since early childhood. Nothing to pursue here.
Do you mean to say you are surprised that someone caught fibbing denies he was fibbing?
And that is the crux of the problem. It presumes to take away from people the right to actually hear the arguments and evidence and make their own choices. It is this presumption of intellectual superiority that is so very wrong with Schnieder’s thinking on this subject. People will usually (and rightly!) revolt against this kind of covert “guidance” of their decisions by experts. Climate scientists are simply not superior to other people in their ability to reach reasoned decisions on important issues . Until and unless they recognize that plain reality, things will go badly for climate science in public discourse. Continuing to offend the public by acting as if people are not up to making their own decisions on public policy may well lead to drastic reduction of climate science funding… just as I believe it should.
Maybe it’s because it’s late and I’m tired, Steve, but I found your comment totally unresponsive to anything I said. My point was that what you can say in an hour, you can’t in 30 seconds. That includes “hearing the arguments and the evidence”. Did you actually read what I wrote? Sorry for the exasperation, but I thought I expressed myself clearly. Maybe being truthful is even more difficult than I imagined it to be.
Here is the point. You need to take those opportunities when you have more than a 30 second sound bite to disclose the truth. That way the sound bite can be put into a reasoned context. Remember, not all communications is only 30 second sound bites.
Lastly, it isn’t hard to communicate that there is a 10% chance of unrelenting good, an 80% chance of little change, and a 10% chance of appallingly catastrophic warming happening. And then going on to say that I subscribe to the preventive changes necessary to make sure the bad warming doesn’t happen regardless of the suffering these actions may also cause!
Then let the public make their own subjective decisions on what the cost/benefits are.
Effectiveness at what? He’s most effective as a scientist when he does science, period. It’s this other role that he’s arrogated to himself without justification that’s the root of the conflict.
Could it possibly be communicating science with the public through the mediated medium of the press? Just maybe?
By being effective, he means achieving the desired policy outcome.
scheider’s words were very much ill-chosen, but hey were deliberately chosen.
I believe it is more illuminating to focus on the deliberate efforts of Dr. Schneider to promote lying. Anyone can make a poor choice of words. It takes a real effort to promote misleading people.
No. You are dead wrong.
It’s more than just Schneider’s “ill-chosen words”.
In a rare moment of “honesty”, Schneider told scientists that it is OK to lie to get your message across, since making the world a better place is sooooo important.
This was not a shrewd move because it exposed him as someone who is less concerned about “honesty” (an absolute value, which should be espoused by scientists) than “effectiveness” (of critical importance for activists in getting the desired message “du jour” across).
In other words, Fred, it erxposed him as an “activist” rather than a “scientist”.
Just that simple. Attempting the defend Schneider’s statements with nuanced rationalizations won’t work.
If you’re discovered to be dishonest then it’s game over. In marriage, in business, whatever. Your hard-won reputation, carefully-crafted image vanishes overnight. No ifs, buts, rationalisations, justifications, extenuating circumstances. Sorry, you’re history. A simple truth that ought to be more widely recognised as a Law of (human) Nature.
Fred, you state:
Truthfulness is not synonymous with factuality, although it is incompatible with fact falsification except in literary works of fiction. Rather, it signifies a desire to communicate in such a way that an audience will reach the same conclusions you believe to be correct if they were provided the evidence you have available and were allowed to make up their own minds. In short, it entails an attempt to leave audiences with an impression that you believe to be truthful.
The problem, as I indicated, is the seed of destruction of your argument lies in your statements “”an audience will reach the same conclusions you believe to be correct if they were provided the evidence you have available and were allowed to make up their own minds.”” What was proposed was not evidence but rather speculative probability. The conclusions were simplistic and designed not to allow a person to make up their mind but rather to use fear mongering to convince. The problem occurs with your statement: “”an attempt to leave audiences with an impression that you believe to be truthful” begs the question why use simplistic, shamanistic items that “capture the public’s imagination” when the truth would suffice?
Finally, it supports the notion that each and everyone can be the high priest or king. He chose to put his belief about a speculative probability above a reasoned discourse. Who chose him king? Rather ask the question, are we all not kings in the manner of Schneider in our own rights? This goes to the heart of the fallacy. The replacement of a methodology that was as objective as humans could make it, with one that depended on a person’s point of view. No wonder the obstructionists (or denialists) have such ammunition. It was consciously given.
Unless the claim is he did it in his sleep.
Norwegian rat: Perhaps faith like hope is the last refuge of the incompetent in a scientific discussion, rather than the discussions on the table.
Spot on, you are either honest or dishonest,. There are no ifs and buts. Schneider proposed a balance between honesty and ” effectiveness ” in communicating AGW science. That was a dishonest approach and no amount of waffling can hide that.
Venter – I addressed that point in my above comment. Specifically, I suggest that Schneider did not mean that one must either choose honesty or effectiveness, but rather that choosing both is possible but difficult. The latter point is certainly the more worthy of discussion in my view. The certainty with which you presume to know exactly what he meant by his entire comment (not just the first part) is unwarranted. In fact, too much certainty is often unwarranted although it appears fairly regularly in these threads.
What Schneider said was this
” On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
It leaves nothing to doubt. The last two sentences especially state exactly what he means without any shadow of doubt. If one wants to defend that, it just shows the mentality of the defender.
Venter – You made my point for me by selectively omitting the last part of Schneider’s statement. That was untruthful on your part, and indicates that even with time to reflect, you still opted for a statement that created a false impression (by omission). I actually think that could easily have been avoided, but being truthful during a 30-second sound bite is more difficult – that was the point I was making, and which I believe Schneider made on more than one occasion.
No, I was not dishonest, I missed out the last line while trying to italicize the whole saying. Here it is
I hope that means being both. [italics ad
That line means nothing in the context of the whole saying. You have to be honest, period. He only hopes one can be both but he specifically states that one needs to seek a balance between honesty and effectiveness. If he really advocated honesty he would have unequivocally said one needs to be honest. There is no hoping there. Honesty is the only acceptable route. Effectiveness possibly at the cost of honesty has no place while communicating science. Schneider was specifically suggesting a trade off between honesty and effectiveness.
I appreciate the correction. I personally don’t think Schneider should have made the statement he made, but we disagree in terms of our certainty about what he meant, particularly since he later insisted that he did not believe in exaggerating or distorting the truth. I’m agnostic about that point, but Schneider certainly indicated that creating accurate impressions in a sound bite is difficult, and I have no trouble agreeing with him on that point.
Personally, I have always interpreted it much as you do. He was discussing the differences between communicating in the scientific community and the with the public via the press.
If you are communicating with print media you might get a pull quote or a paragraph discussing your views (hopefully with quotes), unless it is a profile or an article discussing your latest (revolutionary! [said with a smirk]) work. For television you are going to be lucky to get a 9 second sound bite.
How you communicate effectively in those vastly different environments is a difficult conundrum (call it a double ethical bind). The wants of the press vs. the needs of truthful scientific discussion are inherently difficult to balance and why the Steve Schneider is satan crowd don’t get it is beyond me.
The man is dead and gone, but his words live on.
Schneider put his foot in his mouth with the statement you are trying so hard to defend.
It was a stupid thing to say, because it put him on the defensive.
Even worse, it exposed him as someone who might try hopefully to be “honest”, but only if he can be “effective” in getting his message across by being so.
IOW “honesty” was the secondary consideration for Schneider, and “effectiveness” came first. A silly thing to acknowledge publicly.
Recent events have exposed similar behavior by the “climate consensus insiders”, much to the detriment of public trust in climate science or climate scientists in general.
It all goes back to that famous saying accredited to Abraham Lincoln about fooling all the people all the time.
Not Satan, just wrong. If Schneider had been honest, he would simply have used his soundbite seconds to say:
“Some scientists think we need to act now, other scientists disagree, it’s up to policy makers and the voting public to decide.”
If he had more time he could have added some extra honesty:
“When you study the literature to make up your minds, watch out for Manns stats, because the methodology is undisclosed, and Phil Jones won’t reveal which surface stations he has created the HadCRU temperature record from or the data for his paper on UHI either.”
I’m happy he made the statement as I believe it indicates a pervasive mindset of many climate scientists.
John – I’ve read your comment three times, and I still don’t see how it contradicts the points I made. The latter simply involves the difficulty one faces in communicating what one believes to be truthful given only a brief interval and the need to be very selective. If someone puts a microphone in your face and asks you a question, you have to say something. What do you say? I didn’t find any clear guidance in your comment.
After re-reading my reply, I did not include more thoughts about how upon seven years of reflecting, Schneiders’ rebuttal seemed to fall a bit short. Your idea about giving a reply in a short time frame is spot on, but then he had the opportunity to reflect on that, after many others had already commented, and I found his rebuttal weak. I wasn’t necessary looking to contradict what you had written, just to make a reply on how he did have time to reflect and IMO did not make the best of it.
I agree his rebuttal was weak. I’m not even sure that Schneider himself knew exactly what his position was, and I don’t want to dogmatize on the basis of the available evidence. I’m more interested in the concept of truthfulness as a communications challenge in a sound bite era than in Schneider’s personal character.
The contradiction occurs in that he is choosing to commmunicate his speculative probability for a scientific truth. This is what he stated. That he hoped to do both was a fallacious hope. You mistake the argument when you replace this speculative probability with “what ones believes to be truthful.” But this is the point, speculation is not truthful, it is speculation. It is not truthful in the methodology of science. By conflating his beliefs (speculative probability) with the scientific method to present a good sound bite, he goes from truth to truthiness (h/t Steven Colbert). Worse he sets himself and other scientists as the new preisthood, whose speculations and beliefs trump the methodology of science. That such trumping was not his goal is beside the point, this trumping was the result.
If you need guidance, clear but YMMV, you state the truth. The problem as stated by Schneider is that he did not want to express the truth. He found a 10% chance that we would destroy our ecology as unacceptable. Since this 10% claim is speculation, unproven though beleived, he willing replaced truth in order to do his best to convinve people to do what he thought should be done to avoid this speculative 10% chance. Once again this shows your use of truthful to be the incorrect part. It was a fear. He feared the 10% speculative chance. He did not tell the truth, he advocated a position.
If he had said, my opinion, my fear, my course of action, he could have stated the truth of what was known and given context to why he was an advocate, such that he both told the truth and was true to himself and his beliefs. He chose truthiness over truth. He chose sound bites over a correctly phrased statement.
As pointed out above, when one chooses to be an advocate, Schneider was asking us to beleive him, you become a politician. Why he and those who follow in his footsteps, I would include you in this paticular case, do not understand that this is a political methodology and not a scientific methodology is a case of self induced blindness. The points you make are Trojan Horses to bypass the gate of truth. The Schneider position is that speculation trumps science in a good cause. No amount of lipstick on that pig is going to make it attractive.
I will agree with you that it is not necessarily easy to tell the truth or the science in 30 seconds. However, where we disagree is that it is necessary.
If someone puts a microphone in front of your face and asks a question, either answer it honestly (warts, flaws, uncertainty… everything), or do not answer if you do not think you can do the question justice. Don’t mislead with less than honest words designed to give the ‘desired’ impression. Do not talk to adults as if they were 4 year olds. It is a question of respect.
Spot on, it is unnerving to find paragraphs of waffling by the usual suspects on this point. Anyone still advocating and arguing about Schneider’s statement being acceptable or correct is a fundamentally dishonest person, period. And here I’m honest and not mincing words.
Some people just “can’t say NO”.
And some can’t say “I don’t know”.
And some like the sound of their own voice.
And a few can’t bear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Earlier today on another thread I stated that scientists are supposed to be careful and precise. And the question here is whether Schneider met that criteria when he made that (in)famous statement. The answers so far have, AFAIK, been subjective and, as Joshua would say, largely tribally oriented.
My own view is that what he meant is immaterial because it’s the results of what he said that have affected the people on both sides of the dance floor – and the science. And it’s those results that the tribes have been fighting over for the last 20+ years and absent some larger concern (like an alien invasion or WWIII) will likely continue to fight over long after I’m “in the ground”.
No, Steve – in 30 seconds, you can’t communicate “everything”. That’s why it’s difficult – you have to decide what to leave out. Admonishing someone to answer “honestly” is to evade the issue. We all agree on answering honestly, but you haven’t explained how to do it while omitting 95 percent of what would be worth saying.
Fred, you are ignoring the other (perfectly valid) answer: “I can’t address that question adequately in this situation. Addressing the question properly requires more time than we have available… a 30 second sound bite will not do it justice.” That would be an honest answer. Selecting only the words that will give the “right impression” in a sound bite is just dishonest. It is advocacy masquerading as science. I think many people were aghast with Schneider’s original statement because it suggests a “well intentioned” deception is better than simple honesty, and by implication, that clandestine advocacy by climate scientists is the most correct and moral path to follow. I find the whole idea a bit stomach churning.
Stephen Schneider was criticised for, and as he put it:
“mak[ing] little mention of any doubts we might have.”
On the other hand, Judith Curry makes the most of any doubts that she might have .
The reason being that Stephen was “working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change” which cannot be done unless a clear signal is sent to both the media and politicians.
Judith wants to de-couple climate science from its policy implications so she emphasises doubt and uncertainty.
Yet, when you look at the detail of what she believes and what Stephen believed, there is really not that much difference scientifically. Stephen had recognised climate science was in a similar position to a jury in a criminal trial. They aren’t allowed to hedge their verdict with “if and buts” even though they inevitably exist. They are just expected to keep quiet about them even after their verdict had been delivered.
The message the media take from Judith, and much to the delight of the climate denier fraternity, is that increased uncertainty translates into a need to do nothing. As Girma recently commented:
” She has raised uncertainty in the IPCC report. She has done a great job.”
She’s smart enough to give one impression on this website by saying nothing that is in the least controversial, scientifically. If James Hansen expanded the IPCC’s climate change by subtracting half a degree from their lower estimate and adding one and a half degrees to their higher, he’d certainly condemned by all Judith’s followers on this blog.
Judith does it and is called a “Saint” for raising the level of uncertainty! Does it make sense? Not to me it doesn’t, but Judith is a smart cookie and she knows impressions, rather factual information and logically argument, are everything. Every message needs to be condensed into a single sound-bite. I’d say Stephen knew that too.
Ever think that maybe Judith Curry is the more honest of the two?
Naaah – that wouldn’t occur to you.
I’d say Judith is more ‘torn’ than dishonest. She’s a well qualified scientist so she accepts, despite her protestations, pretty much the consensus opinion on the effects of the build up of GH gas concentrations. But it seems there’s something in her psyche which makes her unhappy about that.
She can’t overtly say the consensus is wrong, and so her only recourse is to emphasise the uncertainties. It gives the impression that scientists are more divided than they really are, whereas Stephen Schneider’s crime, if you can call it that, was to say that the level of disunity was perhaps smaller than it really was.
Who called her a “Saint”? Sometimes I think you have some sort of random garbage generator for your posts.
The last use of the term “Saint” was by Theo Goodwin | | July 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm
“Saint Judith, as much as I admire you……”
Who needs a “random garbage generator” when deniers create so much of it themselves? :-)
Hammering on Judith again?
Face it. Schneider conceded that, for him, being “honest” was secondary to being “effective” in getting his message across. This is because Schneider was an activist, rather than an objective scientist.
Judith Curry is an objective scientist and NOT an activist. She does not need to worry about the dilemma of either being “honest” or being “effective”, because she is NOT trying to get a preconceived message across.
Get the difference?
“Hammering on Judith again?” Yes, I feel Judith does deserve a little more “hammering on” , as you put it.
I wouldn’t accuse. or ‘have accused’ in Stephen’s case, either of them as having any preconceived idea on the extent of climate change. However Stephen took the view that the scientific evidence was sufficiently strong to justify issuing a warning. OK – if you like, an ‘alarm’. Sometimes alarms do need to be sounded. Sometimes scientists need to come down from the ivory tower and be ‘active’.
I can understand Stephen. His argument made sense. I can also understand people like Prof Lindzen. His argument, that climate sensitivity to CO2 is low, therefore there is no need for any action on emissions, makes sense too – except that it’s probably wrong.
What doesn’t make any sense though, is Judith accepting the same scientific evidence as Stephen but downplaying the need to take any action. The term ‘inactivist’, for her, would seem much more appropriate than either ‘denier’ or ‘skeptic’. Her message seems to be: we’re not quite sure whether AGW is likely to be slight, severe, or catastrophic, by hey what the heck, lets just hope for the best. No need to panic the horses just yet.
So, yes , you are right, in a way, there is a difference between Stephen and Judith and I’d also add in people like Lindzen and Spencer too.
I have a hard time following your warped logic.
You apparently believe that it is an integral part of a scientist’s role to actively advocate the need for action, rather than simply to report the scientific findings impartially and objectively.
It’s apparently either “black or white” for you in sort of an “if you’re not with us you’re against us” mentality: a “scientist” who does not act as an “activist” becomes an “inactivist” by definition..
As far as Judith’s “message” is concerned, she has stated (to a US congressional committee who asked her to take a stand) a) that AGW is a well-understood mechanism whose magnitude is not at all certain, b) that even in its worst incarnation it will not be an existential problem in this century and c) that we should better make sure the actions we propose are robust and meaningful before charging off with implementing something whose unintended consequences we do not yet know.
This is simply her response to a group of politicians who asked for her advice.
There is a certain “decision process” here, which involves ascertaining
1) whether or not there is “global warming”
2) if so, whether or not human activity has been a primary cause for this warming
3) if so, whether or not the magnitude of this warming is likely to be significant
4) if so, whether or not this warming is likely to become a problem (rather than being largely beneficial)
5) if so, whether we can undertake any specific actions to mitigate against this warming rather than simply adapting to it if and when it occurs
6) if so, defining specific mitigation action plans with cost/benefit analyses for each and
7) obtaining ratification from the voting public (directly or through their elected representatives) to implement these action plans.
Climate science has just completed step 1 of this process and is still struggling with step 2.
Yet there are “activists” out there who want to by-pass the whole decision process and move right into implementing “mitigating actions” (in this case defined as direct or indirect carbon taxes, which obviously will have no impact whatsoever on our climate).
It appears from Judith’s testimony that she is not one of these “activists”.
But this sure as hell does not make her what you have sarcastically dubbed an “inactivist”, because she supports actively following the decision process.
Can you understand this now?
By publishing this blog Judith has stepped outside merely being an objective scientist and become an activist, especially given that the topics dicsussed here are often wider than the science itself.
That’s not meant as a criticism of Judith, it’s just the way it is.
Let me be the first to ask the obvious. Is the objectivity of any scientist that runs a blog now in doubt? Can we expect your pronouncement over at RC soon that you doubt their objectivity? Perhaps you would seperate blogs as to being objective and not objective? How would you seperate them? By the degree that they agree with your point of view?
By “objective scientist” I meant someone who merely gets on with doing science and does not get involved in the wider political issues. I was not singling Judith out, my point would apply to most scientists who run blogs regardless of whether I agree with them.
As long as you are trying to be objective in determining who you think is objective that’s all one can ask.
It appears that you do not understand what is meant by an “activist”
Which “political cause” do you believe that Judith is “actively and vigorously advocating”?
PS andrew, I realize that Judith has just answered the question I posed to you. What is your answer?
Yes, Judith has said it herself. She “would like to see climate science decoupled from energy politics”.
I guess when Judith went into climate science that must have been exactly the way it was. No-one was too worried about climate change or GHG emissions back then. Climate scientists would have been unknown figures as far as the public was concerned. No-one would have been at all interested in hacking their emails, or tapping their phones I suppose it would have been. No death threats. No accusations of being dangerous subversives in the pay of the Communists of World Government inc. I can understand a desire to get out of the spotlight and into a situation of peace and quiet.
It seems like wishful thinking to me. It just isn’t going to happen any time soon. IMO.
tt you misinterpret me. I do not propose decoupling science from policy, but rather I state that understanding, characterization and communication of uncertainty is essential for good science and sound and robust policy making.
I would like to see climate science decoupled from energy politics, and that might have happened if the sole solution handed to the policy makers by the scientists hadn’t been emissions stabilization.
That strikes me as rather naive. Scientists have identified human CO2 emissions, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, as the primary cause of recent warming and predict that if they continue there could be serious consequences, potentially very serious. If you accept this as a “scientific” view then surely the “scientific” solution is to reduce CO2 emissions. I don’t see what other solutions scientists could put forward which would allow us to continue burning fossil fuels at the current rate and avoid continued warming and its consequences and which are backed by reasonably solid science.
Furthermore, given the central role that energy use has in this story and how central it is to our society and that it already highly politicised I think it is unrealistic to think that you can ever really decouple climate science from energy politics.
Whether the recent warming is >50% attributable to CO2 and with what confidence level is subject to debate (it is debated here). The whole serious consequence thing is very weakly argued by the IPCC, at best they have established “reasonable suspicion.” How society should respond even if there was high confidence and more than reasonable suspicion is a whole other issue, which is confounded by factors such as population increase, land use, economic development, etc.
That still is excluding other areas that need to be explored to change uncertainty into certainty.
An example is the current lense of the atmosphere is very much like a pair of glasses that is shape of the planets atmosphere in rotation to the suns radiation. At different angles they give the illusion of a larger sun or smaller sun.
The actual temperature of this planet is artificial by the atmosphere to the true temperature of what this planet would be like without water.
The fact that you don’t agree with the views of other scientists either on the question of attribution or the future consequences of AGW is not really the point here. Scientists should try to honestly communicate the truth as they see it. If others disagree they are equally entitled to argue their case.
Yes, the question of how society reacts to climate change is a complex one with implications in many different areas, including the ones you mention. But the fact remains that if policy makers say to the scientists “OK, we accept your argument that climate change poses a substantial threat, what can we do to prevent it happening?” the only answer which has any kind of reasonable scientific basis is “reduce GHG emissions”. Of course this then raises a lot of questions about specific strategies and policies and their wider impacts (which would include the possibility of taking no action to reduce emissions and trying to live with the consequences) but these are largely political questions, although scientists may have something to say about the likely effectiveness of certain policies.
Which climate change do you mean? The anthropogenic CO2 warming?
Climate change means any climate change – warming, cooling, over any time scale, of any magnitude and any significance…
Orwelian speak must stop!
I’d like to think that in a forum devoted to discussion of man made climate change it would be pretty clear that I was referring to anthropogenic CO2 warming in particular.
thanks for taking time to answer.
What is the magnitude of the anthropogenic CO2 warming so far? When did it become significant and measurable? How would have global temperature changed without anthropogenic CO2? Hypothetically. Is there a graph maybe?
I don’t have any great insight into these questions other than the mainstream view as represented by the IPCC, which I am sure you are familiar with anyway.
Re the anthropogenic element of recent warming I think the estimate of more than 50% is reasonable and that is probably on the low side, it could be slightly above 100% allowing for the cooling effect of aerosols.
The below paper tries to separate the natural from the anthropogenic factors (and includes the kind of graph which I think you are looking for). The natural factors would seem to be fairly flat since the mid 70’s, when the current warming trend began.
Scientists should try to honestly communicate the truth as they see it.
That’s what they’ve been doing. It’s how we all got into this mess.
Conclusion from a long ago thread – if a scientist becomes known as an advocate then s/he is no longer seen as a scientist. Example – James Hansen.
If others disagree they are equally entitled to argue their case.
That’s what they’ve been doing. It’s how we all got into this mess.
Conclusion from a long ago thread – if a scientist becomes known as an advocate then s/he is no longer seen as a scientist. Example – James Hansen.
I disagree, I think someone can be both an advocate and a scientists. I have no problem with Hansen – I think he has great integrity as a scientist regardless of whether one agrees with his views or his attempts to persuade the world of the need for action to reduce CO2 emissions.
Yes of course. I think that a lot of the stuff which the skeptics put out is nonsense and they rightly get a lot of flack as a result but I certainly wouldn’t prevent them from voicing their opinions.
I think someone can be both an advocate and a scientists.
That wasn’t the conclusion in a previous thread here. Nor was it what I was taught many years ago – by scientists. Nor is that supported by the Conclusions here (see point #4) : http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/21/stephen-schneider-and-the-%e2%80%9cdouble-ethical-bind%e2%80%9d-of-climate-change-communication/#comment-89149
Substitute “scientist” for “analyst”. And don’t give me any garbage about the “analyst” thing – we’re talking PhD level “analysts” here. My brother is one of those.
I think that a lot of the stuff which the skeptics put out is nonsense
Yup – and so is a lot of the stuff that comes out of the “consensus science”.
But not ALL of it is nonsense any more than ALL of the consensus science is nonsense. But the consensus scientists and the alarmists ASSUME that it’s ALL nonsense if it comes from a sceptic. Bad assumption.
Tell me – is everything Bob Carter or Dick Lindzen says “nonsense”? Some think so.
Do you think that judges should strike a balance between being honest and being effective?
Even if the definition of ‘effective’ would satisfy a KKK grand master?
But the fact remains that if policy makers say to the scientists “OK, we accept your argument that climate change poses a substantial threat, what can we do to prevent it happening?” the only answer which has any kind of reasonable scientific basis is “reduce GHG emissions”.
Is that the only answer? Accepting all the assumptions you’ve listed, would not introducing aerosols into the atmosphere cause cooling? Please note, I’m not supporting this option (to the contrary, I recoil from it instinctively), but omitting it from the conversation leaves you open to charges of tunnel vision at best.
Sure, the point about aerosols did occur to me but I don’t consider it a serious solution, any more than putting giant mirrors into space to reflect incoming solar radiation would be.
but I don’t consider it a serious solution
Nor do I, but you’ve got to show why. Otherwise, you’re taking the decision out of the decision makers’ hands. Doing that buys you distrust.
aa, “the only answer which has any kind of reasonable scientific basis is “reduce GHG emissions.” Not so. You need to determine what are the costs and benefits of any actions to reduce emissions, how fast and to what extent you might want to reduce them, whether it is better to act now or wait for more cost-effective reduction technologies; and whether it is better to accept rising emissions and temperatures (if you accept the CAGW argument) or whether to adapt mitigation/adaptation policies; and whether, all things considered, such issues as providing clean water, disease eradicatiion, food etc to those who lack them remains a higher priority than reducing emissions. And that is if you accept the CAGW argument. Of course, if you have any reason to doubt it, then you would seek better data and more convincing evidence before taking drastic anti-emissions actions.
You wouldn’t in any way be trying to prescribe to Judith what she should be thinking or saying, would you?
“Scientists have identified human CO2 emissions, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, as the primary cause of recent warming and predict that if they continue there could be serious consequences, potentially very serious. If you accept this as a “scientific” view then surely the “scientific” solution is to reduce CO2 emissions.”
The problem with this concept is that it assumes those scientists are qualified to make a political and engineering decision about the subject. While some may have ‘studied’ the issues surrounding the mitigation vs. adaptation question, none are experienced with solving these kinds of problems. They fell into the single cause – single solution trap. Of course, nothing in nature is that simple and certainly nothing in politics or engineering. They allowed themselves to be captured and held hostage by power politics (in many ways.)
But scientists then go on to exaggerate the significance of the warming and to cover up counter evidence.
You are in effect misleading by omission.
Inversion technology could and can give us 20 times the electrical energy by using all the energy that passes past a turbine and NOT whatever touches the blades.
But science of this technology is on the basis of corporation co-operation rather than looking into the science. So rather than knowledge being passed down or explored, it is shelved waiting in limbo.
Schneider’s argument goes back to Aristotle, who argued that many people are not amenable to facts, so must be persuaded instead thrououghthe use of rhetoric. He wrote:
“Rhetoric is useful (1) because things that are true and things that are just have a natural tendency to prevail over their opposites, so that if the decisions of judges are not what they ought to be, the defeat must be due to the speakers themselves, and they must be blamed accordingly. Moreover, (2) before some audiences not even the possession of the exactest knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction. For argument based on knowledge implies instruction, and there are people whom one cannot instruct. Here, then, we must use, as our modes of persuasion and argument, notions possessed by everybody … And if it be objected that one who uses such power of speech unjustly might do great harm, that is a charge which may be made in common against all good things except virtue, and above all against the things that are most useful, as strength, health, wealth, generalship. A man can confer the greatest of benefits by a right use of these, and inflict the greatest of injuries by using them wrongly.
Wow. All I can say is … exactly. This Aristotle was a wise person apparently. It captures the problem of explaining science to the public in an effective way, which is prone to misuse, but it doesn’t really offer a solution by which you can distinguish yourself from the misusers of rhetoric on the opposite side.
So why don’t you just stop misusing rhetoric then? :)
I don’t see much relation between these comments by Aristotle and what Schneider wrote. Where does Aristotle say scientists should not discuss the subject of uncertainty (and no statement can be called scientific without uncertainty being defined)? Where does Aristotle say that honesty may have to suffer in order to be effective?
Perhaps Schneider thought he was building on Aristotle, but he went way beyond. Aristotle admitted that persuasion is a powerful tool. Schneider encouraged a mindset of “the end justifies the means.” Aristotle seems aware of right and wrong. Schneider, on the other hand, seems morally clueless.
The caveats, doubts, etc. that Schneider suggests should be included, are expressed in the journal papers, but these would require what Aristotle calls ‘instruction’ of the public to understand them in their proper context. Since the scientist can’t directly convey the scientific papers to the public, it has to be done through common language which is where rhetoric comes in, and Schneider also hopes for honesty in that first paragraph, but they both say rhetoric can be used both ways.
The caveats, doubts, etc. that Schneider suggests should be included, are expressed in the journal papers, but these would require what Aristotle calls ‘instruction’ of the public to understand them in their proper context.
Then those speaking out need to start instructing. Leaving out the caveats is both ethically dubious and counter-productive. Omissions are a landmine just waiting to be exposed – why give the other side ammunition? That the caveats, etc. are in the literature is insufficient. One needs to be able to convey those caveats in plain language as much as one conveys the issues in plain language.
Aristotle said ” …and there are people whom one cannot instruct” . We see examples here on this blog, and it is refreshing to know Aristotle was also dealing with these types in his day. A lot of people are trying very hard to instruct here, but there are brick walls with some people.
seems rather authoritarian. I prefer the Socratic method: a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas
Let me be clear. Aristotle sees rhetoric can be used for good or for evil. By his willingness to forsake honesty, Aristotle would see Schneider among the evil users of rhetoric.
The poor old man simply didn’t understand that he couldn’t be effective without being honest. I think he came to know it at the end, but it was too late then for him. But what about his peers?
A mis-framing of the climate debate concerns the ‘view of science as projected by users of scientific information and by those producers of primary science on climate issues who have chosen also to act as advocates and activists. They employ a ‘deficit model’ of science. The expert scientist pours knowledge into the ignorant and passive heads of the public and their representatives. Their deficit is remedied. They trust the expert’s superior knowledge and qualifications and the scientist then leverages that power to instruct further the ignorant public and to delineate the correct actions to remedy the situation which the expert has described…
Climate change’ is not a single problem amenable to a single understanding or a single solution path. Climate change was brought to the attention of policy-makers by scientists. From the outset, these scientists also brought their preferred solutions to the table in US Congressional hearings and other policy forums, all bundled. The proposition that ‘science’ somehow dictated particular policy responses, encouraged – indeed instructed – those who found those particular strategies unattractive to argue about the science. So, a distinctive characteristic of the climate change debate has been of scientists claiming with the authority of their position that their results dictated particular policies; of policy makers claiming that their preferred choices were dictated by science, and both acting as if ‘science’ and ‘policy’ were simply and rigidly linked as if it were a matter of escaping from the path of an oncoming tornado…
Rather than being a discrete problem to be solved, climate change is better understood as a persistent condition that must be coped with and can only be partially managed more – or less – well. It is just one part of a larger complex of such conditions encompassing population, technology, wealth disparities, resource use, etc. Hence it is not straightforwardly an ‘environmental’ problem either. It is axiomatically as much an energy problem, an economic development problem or a land-use problem, and may be better approached through these avenues than as a problem of managing the behaviour of the Earth’s climate by changing the way that humans use energy…
More fundamentally than in the realm of politics, over-stating confidence about what is known is much more likely to lead us astray in basic research than admitting ignorance. It locks us into rigid agenda and framings such as the one that gave us the dead end of Kyoto, rather than leaving open multiple, even competing options, that allow for learning and adaptability in moving understanding forward. This dynamic tension has always been the motor force in scientific revolutions…
Within hotly contested debates and in the study of wicked and complex open system issues, in fact the most useful knowledge is of that different sort. It pertains to what we know that we do not know, or to where there remains much doubt or disagreement. Then we can consider why we don’t know or have doubts. That knowledge will help us to grade our certainty, to sensitise us to the significance of the unexpected and to make connections that others do not see…
Awareness of the indeterminate and the unknown has profound political as well as research methodological value because it releases the power of systematic doubt. Value disputes that are hidden behind positivist scientific claims and counter claims may thus be brought more clearly into the sunlight of democratic deliberation. Until that happens, the political system will remain in gridlock, and everyone will be convinced that they have certainty and truth on their side.’
All of the above is from the Hartwell 2010 Paper. As a note – the language there is far simpler than the unnecessarily convoluted language of the post. Such usage does a disservice to the English language and is intended only to obfuscate meaning to retain the impression of science as an esoteric undertaking accessible only to the few and initiated. To the extent that it is unconsciousness usage is a sad commentary on how scientists are taught to communicate.
CH, very well said
“Climate change’ is not a single problem amenable to a single understanding or a single solution path.”
Gosh, it all sounds jolly complicated doesn’t it?
“Rather than being a discrete problem to be solved, climate change is better understood as a persistent condition that must be coped with and can only be partially managed more – or less – well.”
You mean a bit like AIDs or diabetes? Instead of injecting ourselves with a cocktail of drugs, we shoot a cocktail of chemicals into the atmosphere to cool ourselves down? Or is that being too simple minded about it all?
I know you don’t like the simple minded approach and you’ve done a pretty job in making it all sound very abstruse with sentences like these:
“Awareness of the indeterminate and the unknown has profound political as well as research methodological value because it releases the power of systematic doubt.”
I’ve read this sentence several times and I have thought I understood what it meant but then I have read it again and I realised I didn’t. But anyway Judith must have liked it, she’s given you a big kiss below!
I think she likes the idea of the power of systematic doubt. The more doubt, the more uncertainty the better, eh?
I had not heard of systematic doubt before, so I Googled it. It is the concept originated by Descartes of doubting everything that cannot be proved by logic. He carried that through to its conclusion until he doubted everything except his own existence (hence, I think therefore I am). This line of reasoning seems like a dead end to me.
Let’s look at this Schneider dilemma differently.
Every activity has a “job description”, which contains a contains a brief outline of what is expected.
The “job description” for an “activist” is to be “effective” in selling the message in order to promote a certain preconceived result.
The “job description” for a “scientist” is to search for the scientific truth in his/her field of science and to report this “honestly” and objectively.
The two jobs are different.
When a scientist, such as Schneider begins to worry about being “effective” versus being “honest”, he has crossed the line.
Whether he is helping a tobacco company “sell” the idea that smoking cigarettes is really not harmful to one’s health or trying to “sell” a message of fear to save the world from a virtual global warming threat makes no difference.
He has become an “activist” and ceased being an objective “scientist”.
Should the scientists who first raised the alarm, (yes they were alarmists) about tobacco and its adverse effects on health, have been more like Judith with her emphasis on doubt and uncertainty, or should they have been more like Stephen with a clear message of: ‘we think you guys should cut down on your 40 a day, and growing, habit?’
Stick with our topic here, Peter and forget the lame analogy between the clinically demonstrated health hazard from cigarette smoking with the purported computer-generated disastrous future impacts from AGW.
I could draw just as silly an analogy with the projected doomsday scenario from asteroid impact or invasion by extraterrestrial aliens.
I’d just make the point that it was you who brought tobacco and cigarettes into the argument. I’d also just make the point that it is you who are suggesting that I should “stick with our topic”.
Well, that doesn’t make any sense at all, now, does it it Max? But, hey, I just keep forgetting that I’m talking to climate deniers, so why should I expect anything different?
“I just keep forgetting that I’m talking to climate deniers, so why should I expect anything different?”.
Max, let’s pursue this two jobs analysis a bit. Many people have two jobs and that is fine, so presumably a scientist can also be an activist (me for example). If your point is that when one is doing activism, say writing an op-ed, then one is not then doing science, fine, but so what? The only line that is crossed is that from one job to the other. Writing an op-ed is a different job from writing a journal article. Are you claiming that this particular pair of jobs should not be held for some reason?
You also need to add to the two jobs model that activism, like science, is generally motivated by moral conviction. The scientist is dedicated to discovering the truth, while the activist is dedicated to getting people to accept the truth. Both are high callings.
I wonder David if you think ‘Tea Party activists’, or ‘skinhead activists’ are involved in a high calling? I imagine you do not think so, but maybe I am mistaken.
The point is that political activism, of any persuasion, is a ‘high calling’ only if you happen to agree what is being activated for is both factually and morally correct. In the case of climate science, activists scientists use the mantel of ‘scientific authority’ to advance their preferred political solution. I don’t agree that is a high calling.
Steve, bad people do bad things, but my point is that political activism per se is a very important social role, hence a high calling. Politics is a high calling. Activists are central to the policy communication system, not to mention doing a lot of the policy development work. One of their major roles is to carry scientific information from the science system to the policy system. Science without communication is worthless.
If a scientist chooses to play an activist role they do have a mantle of authority, if they are in fact an authority on the issue in question. This is analogous to an expert witness in judicial proceedings. But a physical scientists is not an authority on political solutions, such as energy rationing. That is part of the confusion.
Confusion is the primary problem by the way, especially confusing advocacy with science. The IPCC is an advocacy organization, but it is mistakenly regarded as a scientific one. The Nobel peace prize committee got it just right when they paired Gore with the IPCC, because that prize is for advocacy. But banning scientists from advocacy is not the solution, in fact it is nuts. The solution is understanding the situation.
What? Say what?
My experience tells me quite the opposite. I believe we have profoundly different views of politicians and politics… not to mention my utter loathing for political activists of virtually every stripe. I find that politics is a necessary evil, not a high calling. I do not think that discussion with you on this would ever be more than a waste of time for both of us.
Make sure you vote… you will need to offset mine.
You can do one, or you can do the other, as long as they’re not comingled. What gets to be a problem is when someone tries to use his stature and credentials as an expert as currency in his alternate role as an advocate.
Why don’t people trust the experts at the oil companies about energy policy? Why should we be any more trusting of experts with advocacy agendas?
Do people trust the Catholic Church to provide objective scientific information about abortion? If not, why not?
Talking specifically about Russill – that is. Sorry – of my God – he is an academic teacher of journalism – I will have to reframe my complaint.
‘My research is concerned with many aspects of global environmental communication, its earth observing media infrastructure, and its developing information, climatic, weather, and ecosystem industries. My most recent work examines the emergence of ideas of “tipping points” in the climate system, and explores the role that media, scientists, security, and public health agencies play in the development, dissemination, and acceptance of these ideas. My interest in these topics includes the way climate change communication, as a general concern, has become an object of disciplinary appropriation by experts seeking to intervene into a wide range of cultural practices.
I have also studied contemporary environmental media, including Weather Channel, The Weather Network, Whale Wars, the 350 campaign, James Hansen’s warnings of climate danger, and Climate Central, an experiment with climate change TV, which can be found here http://flowtv.org/?author=332‘
Sociological gobbledegook rather than obtuse science.
It is unethical for scientists to be political activists and to skew their work to suit their cause.
It may be churlish of me but a Channel Four interview with the late Prof. Schneider told me all I needed to know about his an the team’s approach. I did not find the death of the Professor quite cheering news but again what decent human being would?
Stacey, What about scientists skewing causes to suit their work? In other words if their work leads them to the conclusion that there is a potential danger, should, or shouldn’t , they tell people about it?
Wouldn’t be “unethical” to keep quiet?
It would be unethical for any scientist not to advise that there was a potential danger however if their work is skewed or manipulated for the cause, which results in resources being diverted to a problem that does not exist. That is also unethical, furthermore the diversion of millions of pounds results in the unintended consequences of death from cold, unsanitary conditions and starvation.
We are also being told in the uk that power cuts will no longer be a rare and interesting event?
“Certainty is madness” so logically uncertainty is sanity?
I’m not sure about that line of argument! :-)
However, the IPCC use terms like ‘very likely’ rather than claim absolute certainty.
It is not what the IPPC say in the small print of their reports, it is the way they present the reports to the media which results in the uncertainty being omitted and replaced by certainty.
I base the above on the possibility that the IPPC and the reports prepared on their part are credible and do not include fiddlestick graphs.
I don’t think its in quite so small print. I doubt if there was anyone who’d followed the so called climate debate who wasn’t familiar with the IPCC’s use of the terms “likely” and “very likely”. In fact, Judith herself criticised them for using these terms recently -even though she does the same thing herself. But I digress.
“Fiddlestick graphs” eh? Well that the thing about graphs, you can make them look less or more scary, depending on the choice of axis scales etc but, by and large, the old adage that a picture ( or a graph) is worth a 1000 words is still very true, and I wouldn’t dismiss them all in quite so abrupt a manner.
Very likely is 90% convinced – very unlikely.
Schneider’s attitude may have been more nuanced than James Hansen’s, but in the end like Hansen he helped foster the current model of discourse in climate science. This is a binary view of the world, with the ‘consensus’ at one end of the spectrum and everyone else at the other. This simplistic two-dimensional outlook leaves no room for the endless shades of opinion that are possible given the complexity of the topic.
Instead of a simple In/Out view of the world I would suggest that there are two axes at work – one is based on the importance of CO2, and the other axis based on the degree of warming/cooling that you project:
This climate quadrant view of the world allows for people for accept the AGW hyopthesis but disagree with the most alarmist projections of Hansen and co.
A “climate quadrant view” eh? What does that mean exactly?
Would it be like, say, a “My house in on fire” quadrant view? Whereby we can all accept there is is indeed smoke pouring out of the upstairs window, and the “hypothesis” that there is very likely to be a serious fire there, but we can safely ignore any “alarmist projections” and all just carry on watching the TV regardless?
It means you engage your brain and accept that there are shades of scientific opinion. You can accept that CO2 is a primary driver of climate, but based on the evidence believe that there is low climate sensitivity and that therefore catastrophe is highly unlikely. In other words accept the basic hypothesis but not the most alarmist projections from Jim Hansen and co.
However, anyone who starts talking about houses on fire has already made clear where they stand…
Well yes of course there are always “shades of scientific opinion”. Just like there are shades of colours to choose from whenever I buy a shirt. I always choose a shade that I like.
With shirts that is. On questions of science, its more important to choose one that is more likely to be accurate than desirable. Cliamte change deniers wouldn’t agree with me on that point though.
Stop with the ‘deniers’ stuff. You are simplistically lumping people into two categories ‘deniers’ and the ‘believers’, proving the point I am trying to make. What exactly, in your opinion, defines a ‘denier’? Is there some magical cut-off figure for climate sensitivity that makes one person a ‘believer’ and another a ‘denier’? It’s nonsense.
It strikes me only as facile and juvenile at the same time – I am asking you to stop posting these sort of comments because it detracts from civilised discourse.
This of course was directed to TT
‘Within hotly contested debates and in the study of wicked and complex open system issues, in fact the most useful knowledge is of that different sort. It pertains to what we know that we do not know, or to where there remains much doubt or disagreement. Then we can consider why we don’t know or have doubts. That knowledge will help us to grade our certainty, to sensitise us to the significance of the unexpected and to make connections that others do not see…’
This struck me as something of a truism. The prime area of doubt and disagreement in climate is why the surface temperature peaked in 1998. Because it is ENSO related – it makes more sense to look at monthly values in any of the records. Annual temperature averages gloss over significant variation. Temperature peaked in early 1998 in the ‘super’ 1997/98 El Nino in any of the records.
The question is why? Figure 3 at – http://www.bbso.njit.edu/Research/EarthShine/ – shows ‘a climatologically significant change before CERES followed by a long period of insignificant change.’ The change is about a 2 W/m2 increase in reflected shortwave – hugely significant and seen in the International Satellite Cloud Climatology record as well.
Because ENSO is a significant driver of climate variability – it makes sense to look for cloud changes in the central Pacific as a causal factor. ‘Finally, there is evidence for an increase in cloud fraction in the stratus regions for the 1990s transition as seen in earlier studies.’ (Burgmann et al 2008). ‘Both COADS and adjusted ISCCP data sets show a shift toward more total cloud cover in the late 1990s, and the shift is dominated by low- level cloud cover in the adjusted ISCCP data. The longer COADS total cloud time series indicates that a similar magnitude shift toward reduced cloud cover occurred in the mid-1970s, and this earlier shift was also dominated by marine stratiform clouds…’ (Clement et al 2009)
So there are reasons there that makes sense in terms of a coherent hypothesis, analysis and synthesis. But it is only possible to follow the evidence if you accept that there is a legitimate question about why surface temperatures have not increased since 1998. This question can be dismissed for one reason or another – and commonly is – but there is obviously a problem there that was not anticipated.
‘Awareness of the indeterminate and the unknown has profound political as well as research methodological value because it releases the power of systematic doubt.’
Synthesis drives further hypothesis and analysis because there is no final answer.
“Because it is ENSO related – it makes more sense to look at monthly values in any of the records. Annual temperature averages gloss over significant variation. Temperature peaked in early 1998 in the ‘super’ 1997/98 El Nino in any of the records. ”
In GISTEMP the warmest monthly anomaly in 1997/98 was 0.81C. This was exceeded in January 2007 and March 2010.
It means you engage your brain and accept that there are shades of scientific opinion. You can accept that CO2 is a primary driver of climate, but based on the evidence believe that there is low climate sensitivity and that therefore catastrophe is highly unlikely. In other words accept the basic hypothesis but not the most alarmist projections from Jim Hansen and co.
However, anyone who starts talking about houses on fire has already made clear where they stand…
Too many so-called climate scientists are, in fact, climate sciosophists. It would make life much simpler for everyone if they just admitted it.
The question of why the focus is on specific periods in the instrumental records. The period to the mid 1940’s, to the late 1970’s, to 1998 and beyond. The intervals show changing surface temperature trajectories and are therefore of interest in natural climate variability. The periods are mirrored by changes in the Pacific Ocean – and therefore global hydrology and fisheries.
Recent work is identifying abrupt climate changes working through the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, the Southern Annular Mode, the Artic Oscillation, the Indian Ocean Dipole and other measures of ocean and atmospheric states. These are measurements of sea surface temperature and atmospheric pressure over more than 100 years which show evidence for abrupt change to new climate conditions that persist for up to a few decades before shifting again. Global rainfall and flood records likewise show evidence for abrupt shifts and regimes that persist for decades. In Australia, less frequent flooding from early last century to the mid 1940’s, more frequent flooding to the late 1970’s and again a low rainfall regime to recent times.
Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.
‘It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.
Four multi-decadal climate shifts were identified in the last century coinciding with changes in the surface temperature trajectory. Warming from 1909 to the mid 1940’s, cooling to the late 1970’s, warming to 1998 and declining since. The shifts are punctuated by extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation events. Fluctuations between La Niña and El Niño peak at these times and climate then settles into a damped oscillation. Until the next critical climate threshold – due perhaps in a decade or three if the recent past is any indication.
Unless there is some fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms – it is impossible to say where this is going as we have too limited an instrumental record. The periods of natural variability – 1909 to 1945, 1946 to 1976, 1977 to 1998 and 1999 to date – are focussed on because of the data in both atmosphere and oceans – and on coherent theoretical grounds.
But unless you are willing to look without blinking at the ocean data and compare it honestly to the atmospheric data – there is no basis for making surprising connections. There is, sadly, no science possible.
Unless there is some fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms – it is impossible to say where this is going as we have too limited an instrumental record. The periods of natural variability – 1909 to 1945, 1946 to 1976, 1977 to 1998 and 1999 to date – are focussed on because of the data in both atmosphere and oceans – and on coherent theoretical grounds.
The problem with the so callled quasi periodic oscillatory modes is indeed the abscence of a mechanisms.This brings in the questions of the statistical phantoms eg Godfrey 2001
It is a recognized characteristic of human psychology that people will find patterns in the world around them, whether or not those patterns
result from coherent underlying causes. “The tendency to impute order to ambiguous stimuli is simply built into the cognitive machinery
we use to apprehend the world. It may have been bred into us through evolution because of its general adaptiveness . . .” (Gilovich 1993,
Ch. 2). While this powerful human capacity to find order in nature has served and continues to serve us extremely well, it also sometimes leads
us to falsely impute meaning to chance events. Gilovich nicely illustrates this problem using the statistics of consecutive hit or missed shots in
basketball (the “hot hand”), where statistical independence can reasonably be assumed. When dealing with the non-independent statistics of the atmosphere, the problem of “detecting” spurious patterns is amplified by the statistical relatedness of data that are nearby in time or space or both (see Livezey and Chen (1983), for a good example), and here our instinctive tendency to read too much into apparent patterns must be guarded against especially strongly. In the case of the January thaw, what superficially appear to be coherent singularities in the observed data can be adequately explained as products of time dependence, spatial dependence, and chance weather occurrences….However, in the absence of such a physical rationale, our results leave one with little reason to look beyond simple statistical sampling variations as the cause of the January thaw. This is the same conclusion reached long ago by Marvin (1919), who wrote that “each striking feature on a long record is, therefore, no evidence of the persistent recurrence of peculiar irregularities, but is simply the residual scar or imprint of some unusual event, or a few which have been fortuitously combined at about the time in question.”
Similarly in NPG M. Vincze and I. M. J´anosi pose the problem with the amo.
Abstract. In this work we critically compare the consequences
of two assumptions on the physical nature of the
AMO index signal. First, we show that the widely used approach
based on red noise statistics cannot fully reproduce
the empirical correlation properties of the record. Second,
we consider a process of long range power-law correlations
and demonstrate its better fit to the AMO signal. We show
that in the latter case, the multidecadal oscillatory mode of
the smoothed AMO index with an assigned period length
of 50–70 years can be a simple statistical artifact, a consequence
of limited record length. In this respect, a better term
to describe the observed fluctuations of a smooth power-law
spectrum is Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMV).
The human ability to recognise patterns may frequently mislead but is still a fundamental strength. An example is the recognition by South American fisherman of the La Niña/El Niño pattern – which is one of the fundamental oceanographic, biological and hydrological changes. The PDO is another – essentially a biological phenomenon related to upwelling of nutrient rich sub-surface water. There is no possibility that the phenomenon I referred to are not real events in the world.
What I meant by the paragraph quoted is that we have insufficient length of record or theoretical understanding to project the pattern forward. It is often attempted on the basis of simple patterns in the data – trends in the surface temperature record for instance – but is insufficient on it’s own to form realistic judgements. That was the essence of the first paper I believe although I can’t access it.
In the 2nd case we are talking about the multi-decadal change in what is preferably called the Northern Annular Mode. What they are saying is that it might not be an oscillation – but simply variation. That the record of observed variability is too short to make such claims to oscillations. The same problem of a short record length – and too much importance attached to it.
In this sense the term oscillation for any of these phenomenon is fundamentally misleading. And I am sure the readers of Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics – a very fine journal – would be first to agree.
The science is possible only if it is looked at from many different perspectives and not the current LAWS that have to be abided by.
Reproduced accurately, not likely due to the changing of the planets speed and the distance from the sun increasing.
Current formulas and equations are strict and need current adjusting which makes them inaccurate over long periods of time.
I found our basic premise on the circle and motion is incorrect to the actual complexity of this action.
Stephen Schneider didn’t write secret guidelines for a conspiracy, but brought the issues openly to public. In that he did show high integrity. His behavior in this was ethically fine, but that doesn’t mean that his judgment was correct. In hindsight it seems that his recommendation might have been operationally valid in Europe for a period of a couple of decades, but not in his home country. By operational validity I mean that it leads to the goals that he had in mind, not that it would guarantee that the outcome would be optimal for the well-being in any more objective sense.
One problems of his approach is that it doesn’t work. Simplifying the evidence given by science to the point that uncertainties are significantly understated leads to a dead end. In U.S. that dead end materialized rapidly, in Europe left alone it would have taken longer, but in my judgment it would not have been avoided forever. This development is at the same time problematic for the status of all science, not only climate science.
The other problem is that the approach means that the scientists have taken over also policy judgment that goes far beyond the proper role of the knowledge on changing climate. Activists, who follow his recommendations, make implicit judgments on technology development and societal issues, although they are certainly not best experts in these areas, often they appear to be too ignorant to even realize that they are totally ignorant on something very important.
We have seen in recent years, how difficult it’s to understand the world economy and societal dynamics of both industrial and developing countries. Trying to make major changes without any understanding of these issues is certain to lead to a failure, a failure in reaching the stated goals, and in worst alternatives also to unnecessary major damage to human well-being. Nobody has good understanding on these difficult problems, but even here some people may understand more than some others.
Scientists should have an ethical obligation of including any and all data, theory or science that can give an accurate outcome.
Exclusion is the easiest way to be ignorant to any science or discoveries that may show that that area of thinking, education or research that may show it incorrect.
There are dozens of areas NOT included in climate science that does effect the knowledge of how this planet operates.
Atmospheric lensing of molecules to deflect the solar radiation by the shape and movement of the planet, the planets shape gives us different circumferences which mathematically gives it different speeds in different latitudes, magnetic interaction with this planets magnetic field with the sun, gravity is NOT this planets inertia but by motion, pressure, speeds of circular motion to density changes, etc.
The temperature on this planet is artificial. If we had no atmosphere and water the temperature would be extremely hot and cooling as the planet is moving away from the sun. Other planets can give an insight of what happens after the water is gone.
Pekka, I find esp your first para to be very insightful
On the other hand, I find paragraph three to be particularly astute, and somewhat contradictory of the first.
Schneider may have “brought the issues openly to public” in his original comments, but he spent a lot of time trying to walk it back after his statements became common knowledge. I don’t think that by positing a conflict between honesty and effectiveness he advanced either.
If climate scientists should have learned one thing over the last several years, it is that sacrificing honesty for effectiveness can result in diminishing both. Post hide the decline, climategate, glaciergate, Pachaurigate and more, much of the public does not trust the “consensus” now. And the consensus scientists have lost much of their influence over policy for precisely that reason.
You ask “what in my opinion is a denier”. I’d say someone who comes to a conclusion that mainstream science is incorrect whose opinion was reached on the basis of some underlying prejudice rather than through a thorough understanding of the science involved.
Jim Cripwell has written (see his entry in Denizens) “When I first heard of AGW I knew it was wrong. In the intervening years, I have learned a great deal, and everything I have learned, confirms my initial reaction.”
I would say Jim is fairly typical of most so-called skeptics. Decision first. Attempt at rationalism afterwards. So, does that make him a skeptic or a denier?
So, if he had started out as accepting the IPCC line and then done some reading and been persuaded that the IPCC was exagerating he’d not be a denier?
I have trouble understanding your reasoning. But then perhaps it’s because I disagree that you can talk of ‘mainstream’ science as a monolithic body with which you agree or disagree with. It’s this binary thinking that doesn’t make any sense to me and which ends up closing down discussion (which is the intention of the whole ‘consensus’ thing anyway).
As soon as you use the derogatory term denier then as far as I am concerned your arguments have no merit and thus, for what it’s worth, I for one will not engage in any further discourse with you.
Well of course that’s entirely up to you, but I would just make the point that Judith herself uses the word “denier” saying that:
“I reserve the word “deniers” for people that are explicitly associated with advocacy groups that are politicizing this issue…”
I wouldn’t necessarily agree with her precise definition, but I certainly would agree that it is a valid term – and of course it does have to be used correctly.
You incredibly stupid boy. Stacey challenges you for using the word “denier” and you immediately go off to quote Judith. Do you have any coherent views of your own on the subject? The trouble is that not only are you very tedious, but you’re not even remotely informative either. And as for being amusing, which might be a saving grace, I have to report being altogether facially relaxed reading your dreary stuff. My advice to you is to try being incommunicado for a while. If that doesn’t work give up.
Sounds like I may have rattled your cage a little too loudly there. Sorry about that. But thanks for the tip. I’ll bear it in mind. I’ll give you one in return. Just keep it simple, Simon.
On the general subject of scientific communication in the media the particle physicist Brian Cox gave a talk last year which touched on the occasionally competing demands of providing compelling polemic for a layman audience versus a thorough explanation of the complexities and uncertainties.
(Link to part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPrdK4hWffo)
He pointed to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, which was essentially polemical by design yet drew on the scientific literature of the time. His programs increased scientific understanding because they were accessible to laymen even while simplifying many topics.
The talk went on to compare two programs about climate change which aired on British TV (you can probably guess what one of them was). Cox pointed out that both were polemical, at least in parts, but one stuck to the scientific literature while the other rejected it. He concluded that a polemical approach is often desirable in communicating science to the public but that it should be required that a program/article is seen to follow the scientific literature on a topic when making statements about what is known.
This kind of thinking echoes the layered approach to communication described above: ‘scientists and professional organizations need to produce a range of communicative products that span the continuum from simple popularization to expert complexity.’
One danger with the layered approach, as far as I can see, is that it can cause people to be drawn in by conspiracy theories. By initially presenting a topic in a simplistic manner it is natural for people to conclude the issue itself is, or should be, simple. Scratching beneath the surface of any topic will reveal snippets of information that appear to contradict the simple model (even if a more complete understanding of the underlying data broadly confirms the simple explanation). Having scratched and discovered this contradictory information on their own many people will conclude that the simple explanation they were taught is actually a lie.
For this reason it would be best for layered explanations to be provided in the same repository, or in comprehensive system of links between organisations focusing on different levels of prior knowledge. This is all very well for websites and blogs of course, but I’m not sure how such a thing could be achieved through tv and newspapers.
Having started off asking a question which you could only have formulated if you did understand my line of reasoning, you then go on to claim to have trouble understanding it!
If you are having trouble understanding what I’m saying you’ve chance with Judith Curry. Her line of argument is as clear as mud!
Binary thinking, eh? Well , like it or not, we do at times live in a digital rather than an analogue world. And no I don’t mean your set top TV box but the need to actually make decisions on which way to go. Yes or no . True or False . Guilty or Not Guilty etc.
You are defining your world as binary. That isn’t necessarily the case.
True/False/Shade of Grey. Guilty/Not Guilty/Innocent. Yes/No/Maybe.
This is the world most of us live in and you would do better to structure your arguments toward it.
You’ve obviously never tried refereeing a football match!
But if ever do, I would suggest that when you see a player on the ground in the penalty area you either blow your whistle for a penalty or wave play on. Don’t dither. Don’t say “maybe”! Take a word of advice from the late Stephen Schneider and keep any doubts you have to yourself – or you’re gone!
Ethics is an individual practice to the influences around you.
Social order, religion, sports, corporations, etc. all generate guidelines to the personal experience of shaping your own social responsibilities.
Science is NOT ethical, it is understanding to a higher degree.
I don’t understand this idea that the mainstream media is seen purely as a constraint on public communication of science. Sure you can provide more detail in dedicated fora but the number of people who regularly visit climate science websites and blogs is very small. If you want to raise the standard of scientific understanding in a significant audience reaching out through mainstream media is the only option.
It’s not a perfect solution of course, but by pointing to dedicated climate blogs as alternatives to mainstream media I think you ignore the massive constraints imposed by such sites in terms of audience numbers.
The interesting spin-off is that it is generating two separate areas of science.
One currently restricted by laws of science, individual areas of study, strict mathematical formulas, etc. where ethics of science is politicalized science generated for a certain outcome. Should NOT be questioned or reviewed. Full of mass uncertainty and massive theories with very little actual evidence.
This then has generated the next generation of looking for evidence and question everything. (Which should be the current set-up).
This also has the problem of all the educated individuals who now have the same mindset as their teachers. Passed down traditional teaching.
Paul, IMO the people that need to understand are the economist/financial types and the engineers. The current 4th grade level of communication by the media doesn’t serve much of a purpose IMO, it just generates noise. The blogs have a much smaller audience than the MSM, but they can reach the key economist/engineer audience.
That’s all quite true, but surely at some point there has to be some communication with the wider public don’t you think? Either way if climate change becomes a hot topic (ahem) for a week or two mainstream media outlets are going to produce something to cater for that. Surely it would be better for scientists to be involved than not.
Paul S –
Your faith in the mainstream media is touching, but you apparently don’t realize that if you want to fix something (like your car, for example) it’s a really bad idea to use broken tools. And the MSM is broken – in ways you apparently don’t understand.
Er, I’ve actually made it clear there are big problems with the mainstream media but how else can you communicate with the wider public? Any suggestions?
Indeed. I’m not sure why Judith singles out engineers and economists – this is an issue which effects all of us, not just engineers/economists or the small number of people who read climate blogs. It’s right that people who want to understand the subject in more detail should be able to find the information at a level which is appropriate to their level of understanding and I think that there are plenty of good sources for this on the internet, but the pubic in general will get their information from the mainstream media and when policy makers are trying to get buy in from the public for whatever policies they think are necessary then the votes of firefighters and shop workers are just as important as those of engineers, economists or you and I.
Andrew, the public doesn’t implement decisions regarding climate change. There are few countries on the globe where climate change is an important issue to the voting public (the U.S. certainly isn’t one of them). The people actually making decisions related to climate change are for the most part economists/financial types and engineers.
If you think the only decision associated with climate change is whether or not to sign the Kyoto Protocol and that political will of the public will get us there (or not), well then I would say that you don’t really understand what is actually going on.
Not only that, but those are the people that are more likely to influence the rest.
Who are these economists and engineers who are implementing climate policy, and what are the policies they have implemented?
If the voting public is so irrelevant to climate policy, why is so much energy being spent deciding how to “frame” the issue? Assuming you could convince every engineer and economist on the planet that AGW is holy writ, what can they do without those irrelevant voters?
For example, engineers who are constructing dams and dealing with coastal engineering, and economists/financiers dealing with financial risk. They have jobs to do, and their business is risk management.
Let’s not forget the engineers and others who inform management of potential costs and benefits of regulations, site relocations, or new business opportunities.
Regulatory consideration is a must for the modern corporation. Costs and potential costs are discussed and estimated often by these professionals.
In my experience, they do not rely on MSM. They go to dedicated sources, such as this blog, among others.
I think that’s a little naive. From what I’m seeing at the county level, it’s the political types who are writing the policy memos directing sea level rise and other projected climatic effects to be taken into account in planning, and the engineers rolling their eyes. The engineers aren’t driving any of this, the politicians are.
Engineers who construct dams and levees don’t decide whether one should be built, let alone finance them. Economists/financiers generally deal with financial risk about as well a climate scientists predict the climate (there is a reason economics is called the dismal science), and they don’t make climate policy either, unless you are talking about setting insurance premium. And if that is all the climate debate is about, someone call me when it’s over.
The attempt to read those ignorant voters out of the policy equation is merely an attempt to increase the influence (ability to speak from authority), of the scientists. It is a pipe dream. Copenhagen wasn’t derailed by engineers, economists or lukewarmers. It was derailed by CAGW politicians afraid for their careers at the government trough because of the very voters so disdained by the elite.
If the next election in the U.S. goes anything like the last, all the funding for those engineers and economists (and climate scientists) may well depend on those poor dumb voters. Dismissing them may make one feel better, but it is not the best way to maximize one’s influence in the climate policy debate.
The job of the elite is to give the best advice it can to those who pay them, and for most in the climate field that is the voters. The final decisions on policy are theirs, and theirs alone.
Sure, the public doesn’t implement decisions but in a democracy the politicians need the public to buy into their policies otherwise they will get kicked out of office.
I agree than when formulating policy governments will need to take the advice of professionals such as engineers, economists etc. But if you ask an engineer for advice in combatting sea level rise or an economist about the impact of a carbon tax they can give their professional opinion without neccessarily agreeing with the scientific case for such measures being neccessary.
The problem is that the climate scientists know with fair certainty only limited information on the climate, the engineers only technical solutions that do not carry us far, and the economists far too little about the concequences of any policy alternative that might really make a significant dent in the CO2 emissions. None of the professions can provide straightforward advice that the decision makers could use easily
Making wise policy decisions is not hampered with one source of uncertainty, but with uncertainties from all directions. Good decision making requires some level of undersanding of all these uncertainties, which are furhermore not familiar to the decision makers from earlier experience. This makes the issue really difficult and allows for serious errors of more than one type.
As an economist I can, and do, advocate that policies which increase our capacity to deal with changing circumstances are generally superior to those which create rigidity and deter innovation and entrepreneurship. There is always uncertainty, the least successful aspect of economics is forecasting, there are policies which expand potential options and those that unnecessarily restrict them.
That’s precisely why policy beyond the 10 year horizon is questionable, beyond the 20 year horizon is probably wrong, and beyond the 30 year horizon is risible. It always has been like this.
The US succeeded in putting a man on the moon because Kennedy wisely made it a 10-year commitment. There is no historical example ever of a successful endeavor that was a project of over 10 years.
And people are just going to have to live with that reality.
I agree fully.
While it may be important to consider and analyze many issues also an longer term, the final policy decisions should be based on shorter term concrete goals, which may, however, be justified by the potential that they are expected to offer for further development.
P.E. | July 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
Great Wall of China
War in Afghanistan (just kidding, but it has been ten years)
Notre Dame Cathedral
Mt. Rushmore Carvings
Never say “none”, I’m still learning that to my cost …
Australia seems to be an exception, AGW issues are front-page and will largely determine the outcome of the next election.
PS: when I was in England for a few months in 2007, the response to mentions of global warming was generally a flippant “Yes, please!” In May-June this year, responses were all extremely sceptical, there was concern that all parties support anti-emissions policies, the need for which no one I spoke to accepted.
Ultimately, in democratic countries, it is the voting public that determines broadly how we respond to issues. Yes, “the economist/financial types and the engineers” need to understand (and they will require convincing data, analytical techniques and arguments), but they in turn need to engage in broader debate. Henry Ergas, who has a column in The Australian, is a fine example of an economist who can understand extremely complex issues and succinctly convey their essence to the educated layman. This is a vital function in determining what actions we should or should not take.
I dont know if someone can find an online copy of the 1971 edition of the Journal of the Operations Society of America on the “Guidelines for the Practice of Operations Research,” Some years ago, I saw an online version, but cannot find it.
This journal completely covers the issue under discussion. It arose from studies of the Anti Ballistic Missile Project, where two different OR groups used the same data to study the same subject and came up with completely opposite conclusions. But the difference between acting as an analyst and acting as an advocate is completely discussed; 40 years ago. I do hope someone can find the full text.
I’m googling, i’m finding comments on this, but not the original. looks really interesting, if I find enough I will do a post on this
The whole September 1971 issue (about 140 pages) of the Journal is devoted to the guidelines and the October issue contains some additional material. Most of the text is background material and discussion of case studies like that related to the ABM issue. The actual guidelines take 10 pages and end with the following five points. The point (4) is perhaps the most interesting.
The Journal is available from JSTOR and is certainly available through typical university accounts.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
(1) Operations research is emerging increasingly on the national scene as an important contribution to knowledge and provides important tools to be employed in solving complex and vital problems. Public debates in which operations-analysis practitioners espouse opposite viewpoints attest to the growing recognition of its importance.
(2) Ample precedents in the sciences exist to show how to accomplish the necessary self-discipline required to ensure the development of ever-increasing valid research in operations research, essentially by assuring that as much research as possible is subject to intensive public scrutiny. It is extremely unfortunate when public discussion of operations research is stifled. ORSA encourages critical review of OR studies and accordingly continues to offer its communication facilities for this purpose.
(3) The practice or application of operations research to specific problems is essentially pragmatic. To the maximum extent possible, such applications should be reviewed with care before their recommendations are implemented. Frequently, however, this is. hampered by the necessity to respect proprietary or ‘classified’ information. In the last analysis, the best judge of these efforts is experience.
(4) When an analyst participates in an adversary process he is, and should conduct himself as, and should expect to be treated as, an advocate. The rules for an adversary process are different from those of operations research. The former permit biased or slanted testimony and the latter are directed toward objective evaluation. However, the analyst must bear the additional burden of making the bases for his views explicit, and of submiting the supporting analyses and their assumptions to public scrutiny (this work should be done in accordance with the professional standards discussed here).
(5) The standards of professional practice set forth in this report, if conscientiously adhered to by the body of operations analysts, should contribute to the continued growth and increasing usefulness of these disciplines.
LOL–so “climate science” is not so unique after all
It’s never been “unique” in this respect. But it IS unique in that the proposed “solutions” are bigger, badder, nastier, more far-reaching and based on less evidence than ever before.
Many thanks for the quick response.
I find #4 cute beyond belief: Translating it into the legal field – Lawyers are free to cast doubt where little really exists, they can withhold what tthey know that might undermine their client’s case but they should never say something they know for sure is not true. If that is the code for advocates/activists/Schneider types, then it is no wonder many of us feel a might skeptical.
It must be noticed that OR is not science. It can be used in science and there is science on the methods of OR, but normally OR itself is not science but analysis of some specific issue of practical significance using mathematical methods. The point (4) tells, how an OR professional should behave, when he has been commissioned to analyze a controversial issue by one of the parties of the controversy..
It must be noticed that OR is not science.
I thought better of you than that. And yet, I knew somone would say it. Fact is that OR is indistiguishable from science in many ways. And in some ways and applications, it’s more complex. So that statement is nothing but elitism – the I’m a scientist so you’re a lesser being attitude.
FYI – I have never bought into that proposition. I’ve been too close to too many scientists for too long to believe in the superiority of the breed.
But that aside, you haven’t explained why scientists should not be bound by the same ethical standards as OR professionals or engineers. From my POV, if your statement above is to be taken seriously, they should be bound by even stricter ethical standards.
I’m a member of the Finnish OR society and I have given presentations at several OR conferences. I have no reason to be dismissive of OR. That something is not science is not to say that it’s of lesser value, only that it’s different.
Bernie, You have described the job of a lawyer, acting as an advocate, with complete accuracy. There is never anything wrong with an advocate acting that way; that is the honorable job that advocates do. What the report states, IIRC, is that what is unacceptable is for a scientist to act as an advocate, while at the same time, claiming he/she is acting as an analyst. It is that action that must never be tolerated.
From what I can tell, generation after generation of law students have had to wrestle with the manifest ethical dilemmas that confront lawyers representing problematic clients. What allows the system to work with a reasonable degree of efficacy, though never fully resolving the ethical dilemmas, is that both defense and prosecution operate under a common set of rules. Everybody knows they are advocates. Scientists, and perhaps Schneider deserves praise on this account, are far too slow to acknowledge when they are operating as advocates and when they are making statements that they know deserve a huge number of caveats. – the reality of being an advocate, i.e., do nothing that weakens your case. They apparently especially seem deaf to Feynman’s admonition about not fooling your yourself.
Judith, did you just skip over that?
Well – sort of, eh?
Your response was:
What is “much of,” Judith? 30%? 51? 90%
And what % of “skeptics” want to discuss science and uncertainties divorced from the interest in policy discussion that you attribute to the “climate establishment?”
Once again, Judith, a lack of specificity characterizes your views here. In reading these here pages, and in reading WUWT, I see “much” skeptical discourse which is not simply in response to tactics used by Schneider, Hansen, etc. “Much” of the very roots and foundation of “skepticism” about climate change was inextricably linked to views on policy discussion.
Your casual dismissal of the influence of political influence on one side, unfortunately, undermines the power of your questions about the ethics of political influence on the other side.
Aaah, Joshua –
The Lone Haranguer stirkes again. And once agai,n as usual, as a hairsplitting nitpicker.
Your casual dismissal of the influence of political influence on one side,
You keep on saying that, but you’ve failed to make any case for real political influence on that side! You’ve claimed all along that the sceptics have money, power, influence to equal the CAGW side of the dance floor – but saying it doesn’t make it so.
Keep in mind that most of the scetics here (if not all of them) have become inured to argument by repetition.
The seduction of virtue is very tempting. I like the cop shows, but the violation of basic rights in these shows during a week would be hard to even count, in the name of catching the bad guy. In the name of catching drug smugglers, carrying cash in your car is de facto illegal if you are caught with any drugs (how do you prove you got it legally?). A fundamental problem with AGW alarmists is that they deny others the right to not be scared of the things they are scared of. (like 2 deg warming). In their pursuit of virtue (saving the world) they assume too much. Maybe others fear unemployment more than 1 ft rise in sea levels.
How do they do that exactly?
I would say they do it primarily by passing laws. Almost every law denies somebody something. But this is true of all health and safety laws, so it is not specifically related to the climate issue.
They do it by avoiding cost/benefit analysis, avoiding risk assessment, trying to shut down debate, and jumping right from effect (2 deg warming) to policy prescription (and laws).
I ft rise in sea levels? Is that all? Are you really being honest, yourself, when you say that?
How about 6 inches – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/sea-level-rises-are-slowing-tidal-gauge-records-show/story-fn59niix-1226099350056
You persist in wisecracking – that’s the American term I was looking for – we call it being a smartarse.
You persist in minimising the complexity and uncertainty surrounding many of these issues and in trivialising the discourse.
Well played, sir. That one deserves a pint.
I think you’ll find that the Murdoch owned Australian isn’t the most impartial of journals to quote from. I’m not sure what sort of induction course Murdoch’s journalists get on recruitment, but it looks like the course on accurate scientific reporting may well have been replaced by one on phone hacking. In any case they seem to be good at the latter but quite hopeless on taking accurate notes, at least in scientific interviews.
We do have an organisation, down under, which I think you’ll find has slightly more credibility, at least on questions of sea level, than the Australian newspaper. Its called the CSIRO:
Don’t pay any attention to tempterrain. He’s just bitter.
“The Australasian region has four very long, continuous tide gauge records, at Fremantle (1897), Auckland (1903), Fort Denison (1914), and Newcastle (1925), which are invaluable for considering whether there is evidence that the rise in mean sea level is accelerating over the longer term at these locations in line with various global average sea level time-series reconstructions. These long records have been converted to relative 20-year moving average water level time series and fitted to second-order polynomial functions to consider trends of acceleration in mean sea level over time. The analysis reveals a consistent trend of weak deceleration at each of these gauge sites throughout Australasia over the period from 1940 to 2000. ”
And, actually, invading people privacy seems to have been done by 31 pulbications, led by papers not owned by Murdoch.
“The files from Operation Motorman, which was conducted by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2003, have been requested by the police conducting the current investigation.
The scale of the dubious news gathering practices is evident from the earlier inquiry, which revealed that 4,000 requests from 300 journalists and 31 publications for confidential information were made to a private investigator.
Many of the cases indicated use of illegal practices, according to a BBC report.
The investigation found the Daily Mail had made the most requests, followed by the Sunday People and the Daily Mirror.”
Thanks for referring to the journal – although that was mentioned in the article I though might be more at TT’;s level.
I would suggest that a distorted and misrepresentative article is at no-one’s level. Not even yours.
“Your article has misrepresented our Mr Phil Watson’s research paper by saying that “global warming is not affecting sea levels”. This is untrue and misleading and it is not what Mr Watson told your journalist. Mr Watson’s research looked only at measurements of historical data. It specifically did not consider predicted linkages between sea level rise and global warming predicted by climate models.”
I hadn’t come across this rebuttal of the article when I accused Murdoch’s paper of deliberately distorting scientific papers. I strongly suspected they had of course. That’s what they always do.
I’d just ask if you knew about the claim of misrepresentation when you used the link?
“It specifically did not consider predicted linkages between sea level rise and global warming predicted by climate models.””
I’m really, really glad the paper was not tainted by predictions and focused on actual, real data.
I read the press release / desperate cry for continued funding and posted hilarious experts on another thread.
What a joke
Andrew Revkin’s blog also had a commemorative article on Steve Schneider. He included a video of which he said: “A prime instance of Schneider in action came just a few weeks before his death, on a trip to Australia to discuss climate change with 52 self-described climate skeptics on the television program Insight. It’s Steve at his best (although not at his best physically, sadly). The transcript of the program is online, but this is a case where I really think the video must be watched to catch the tone of the exchanges and the value of direct discourse.” Well, this I had to see. I spent 45 minutes looking at it and got the impression of a slippery salesman for a dubious product. When a pertinent question was asked what the three percent share of humans to the carbon dioxide budget can do he refused to answer it and came out with an irrelevant bathtub analogy. He of course has no training in climate science and his college degree is in mechanical engineering. Despite this lack of scientific background he was one of the most effective propagandists for global warming. If you read his CV you find that he is married to Terry Root, a biologist. What is not in the CV is that she is his second wife, not his first. He had a bitter divorce from his first wife in 1992, the year he got his genius award. In an article I read in the nineties he stated that the award came just in time to relieve him of the financial stress that divorce had put him in. The article also stated that he got this genius award because he was able to change the wording in the IPCC-FAR report in 1990 when he was an editor. The article gave his version of the paragraph he changed and the original version and both of them seemed wishy-washy to me. I simply was not interested in climate science then and missed the significance of the whole thing. Later when I realized its importance I tried to find the article again but Google could not find it or did not want to find it because they are totally green now. Someone with a different web address ought to try it and see if it can be retrieved.
Arno, the bathtub analog is the standard model so it is hardly irrelevant. It is a reservoir model of atmospheric CO2 in which natural input and output are balanced. Adding the tiny human input causes the level to rise a tiny amount. Given that annual human input is greater than the annual rise it works in a simple mass balance sense.
Of course the scientific issues are far more complex but he gave the right pro-AGW answer given the TV venue and context. AGW is based on simple reasoning. That is what makes so attractive. The science is much harder.
The analogy would only work if you have a perfect measurement of all carbon … natural and manmade.
The earth is not a bathtub.
AGW is based on the chicken little fable and ignorance of the past.
“There are few countries on the globe where climate change is an important issue to the voting public (the U.S. certainly isn’t one of them). The people actually making decisions related to climate change are for the most part economists/financial types and engineers”
That is not so. There is actually a significant segment of the ‘voting public’ around the world that has asked their governments to make domestic emissions reductions and plan for possible risks and adaptation. For example, the European public actively supports domestic emissions reductions and European countries and industry have been moving forward with or without a global deal (for lack of a better term). And for anyone who doesn’t know, climate change is a dominant issue in the politics of e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and island nations, in addition to European countries; it is a focus in the African context; and many indigenous communities around the world have demanded action at the highest political levels.
In other words, as a matter of fact, the voting public in many countries other than the United States understand climate change and have demanded that their governments take actions to ensure their security.
Given your beliefs, I expect Durban could hold surprises for you. As the situation has evolved over so many years, many countries are now in the position of being accountable to a public that resents how the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have dragged their feet. They understand the limits to their own i.e., unilateral actions and will not be accepting that other countries, such as the U.S., refuse to act as a global citizen. Of course, what your government does or doesn’t do in relation to domestic policy is not anyone else’s problem, but the U.S. will be faced with major new negotiations by other governments on behalf of their public.
Also, I encourage consideration of other forms of evidence unrelated to voting or electoral issues that shows how people around the world care about climate change. It is at the centre of most discussions in poverty issues, public health, women’s health and children’s rights. There are climate coalitions and community and municipal and regional action plans related to emissions reductions and adaptation and risk management, in many places around the world.
In the U.S., candidates are only starting to state their positions on climate change in elections. Your public is quite behind, mostly thanks to your government(s). Political apathy has led to public apathy, and that is a separate issue from incomplete knowledge, how uncertainty, or the risks of inaction.
There is actually a significant segment of the ‘voting public’ around the world that has asked their governments to make domestic emissions reductions and plan for possible risks and adaptation.
I think you’d have to provide more than argument by assertion to convince me of that. Where’s the data?
The UK government has certainly put on a full-court press, but then there’s Australia where Gillard’s carbon tax has only 30% support and her government is in serious jeopardy. As for the EU – you might want to look at your hole card – it’s not the “public” pushing the politicians but rather the politicians pushing the public. And I suspect the pushback won’t be pretty. But that’s still in the unknowable future.
Whats “significant”? When 30% believe that 9/11 is an inside job, a “significant” segment of the population doesn’t mean squat.
I would think the public (outside the USA) may resent the USA for far many other reasons than just climate change inaction. Fortunately in the USA, the politicians are accountable to their public, unlike China. However China is now closing in on being the largest economy and CO2 producer. Harping on the US about not being a good world citizen wrt mitigating CO2 is an easy thing to do, but it doesn’t represent the whole story and does not address what to do about emerging new power hungry economies in the East.
You know the public concerned about AGW here in the US are taking action w/o the governement telling them to do so. Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of NYC (Independent), announced this week he is donating $50 million to the Seirra Club to help shut down old coal fired power plants.
He is using his own personal $$$. IOW, he is walking the walk. Whether it is money well spent or not is a different debate. My point here is, in the US if the government does not act (which it frequently doesn’t on many complex issues) the public will act, where they can, on their own instead. Bloomberg may be a unique example of one person taking such action, but many people here make conscientious decisions to reduce carbon emissions everyday. The kicker, again, is people doing it without the heavy hand of big brother telling them to do so. That is really freedom in action.
My link to NPR did not happen correctly.
Hope it works this time.
Sorry Martha, for whatever reason I could not get the link to work properly. Google NPR and then serach there. My link skills need work. :)
Emissions, Martha. Emissions of what, pray? Surely not the beneficent trace gas CO2 which we all exhale in vast quantities by the second and which makes our vegetables grow. You must have something else in mind as the herald of imminent planetary catastrophe. Do tell us its position on the periodic table Martha, or at least its formula, Martha. It is CO2, isn’t it? Yes. My God Martha, so we’re all doomed. Who’d have thought it would have been just poor old CO2 and not the sun, or something significant?
No need to pray just yet, Simon. A quick look in Wikipedia will give you a quicker answer. Yes, as regards emissions, CO2 is indeed the GH gas which is most mentioned. But methane which has a chemical formula (you seem quite keen on them) CH4 is also one which should not be overlooked.
CO2 is indeed necessary for all your veggies to grow. But potatoes and carrots grew very well before CO2 concentrations were artificially increased by 40% . They are quite happy with a little less. Did your mother every tell you the story of Goldilocks? As she said , it is important that things should be just right. Not too much. Not too little.
You seem to like the “Goldilocks” (“just right”) story.
So what is our “Goldilocks ideal just right” global temperature?
We start off with a problem here: the “globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature” itself.
This is an artificial construct. If we live in a temperate zone, our ambient temperature may reach this level for a few hours during several days or nights in one or another season.
In other words, diurnal and seasonal variations (which we will feel) will bounce all around this arbitrary number (which we will only encounter rarely). So it really doesn’t mean too much to us.
But let’s forget about this problem for now.
Let me suggest this answer (taken from several sources): 23°C is close to the optimum temperature for humans, 6°C is close to the coldest the planet has gotten naturally, 35°C is close to the highest natural temperature and 15°C is close to the current global temperature (so we are somewhere below the middle of the natural range today).
5 million years ago the average temperature is believed to have been around 5°C warmer than today, or 20°C.
During the last Glacial Maximum, it is believed that the global average temperature was as much as 6°C colder than today, or 9°C.
According to IPCC, the temperature now would be around 14°C if there had been no human influence (back-calculated using IPCC estimates of CO2 impact and checks with older records). This was just as the planet was coming out of a colder period called the Little Ice Age.
Is this the “Goldilocks Ideal Global Temperature” (GIGT) for our planet?
Or is it the temperature we had in the record warm year, 1998 (15.3°C)? Or maybe the one in 2008 (15.1°C)? How about 1988 (14.9°C)?
Or do you want to further back to year 1938 (14.8°C), 1900 (14.7°C) or even 1888 (14.5°C)?
Or maybe you would like the “average” temperature over the 20th century (14.6°C)?
Do you have a personal estimate of the “just right” GIGT you would like for our planet to have? Or do you not have an idea on this?
If one has no idea what the GIGT should be, then how can one worry about an increase of a degree or two?
Maybe the GIGT is actually 18°C. Or 20°C.
Climate history tells us that this temperature has moved up and down in natural cycles even before humans started emitting CO2.
In my opinion, it is very unlikely that the GIGT is at the so-called “pre-industrial” level of around 14°C or even less, for obvious reasons, so warmer should be better, right?
So maybe we should be happy and hope it continues to warm a bit before cooling off again.
What are your thoughts on this and do you have a suggested GIGT?
Please name (with evidence) the European countries where the public
‘have demanded that their governments take actions to ensure their security’
In Europe, many of the “grass-roots” organizations lobbying for carbon reduction are in fact funded by the government itself. Some “popular movement”.
And you can give examples of these?
The Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (formed by the EU) supports the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (KP). It endorses efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change by estimating greenhouse gas mitigation potential and identifying the best options for adaptation.
Through this topic area, the REC aims to improve the knowledge of sub-national and local governments; mobilise them in the context of international efforts; identify their needs and channel them before national and international government bodies; and facilitate the exchange of information and best practices.
The campaign ‘Play to Stop. Europe for Climate’ is run by the European Commission to raise awareness and to involve young people in the fight against climate change.
(Then there is, of course, the UK government-sponsored TV fear-mongering campaign directed at children, which we are all aware of).
Big Oil also joins the cacophony supporting CAGW:
In fact in instance below seem to “play” the issue as a means of
“reputation repair” or to “rebuild trust”, a recent topic of interest on this board.
As an old former downstreamer who spent most of his career heavily involved in optimization, my opinion is somewhat different.
Support for CAGW dogma by major oil companies has nothing to do with validity of the supposed science, and everything to do with strategic self interest.
Losing trust in a business context:
Shell cuts reserves estimate; shares fall sharply
Jan. 9, 2004, 8:04AM
Yes, our dear Nigeria again, always in the news.
It has been clamoring for an increase in its OPEC quota, which is partly based on reserve estimates
Exercise in reputation repair? :
(Pander to widely held public sentiment? : ) )
Oil chief: my fears for planet
Thursday 17 June 2004
Shell boss’s ‘confession’ shocks industry
The head of one of the world’s biggest oil companies has admitted that the threat of climate change makes him “really very worried for the planet”.
In an interview in today’s Guardian Life section, Ron Oxburgh, chairman of Shell, says we urgently need to capture emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, which scientists think contribute to global warming, and store them underground – a technique called carbon sequestration.
“Sequestration is difficult, but if we don’t have sequestration then I see very little hope for the world,” said Lord Oxburgh.
Lord Ron Oxburgh? name sounds familiar somehow : )
Shell: Climate change is a business opportunity
As it happens, I am a UK citizen and I asked each of the parliamentary candidates in my district about their views regarding climate change and I voted for the one that closely matched my own views.
I am a member of the public in a European country and I have demanded that my government takes action to secure my security with regards to the impacts of climate change.
Of course that doesn’t mean my demands have been listend to never mind met.
We have a right to vote but we don’t have a right to vote for the winning side.
Louise, you say “I voted for the one that closely matched my own views”. You’re lucky to get a close match. None of them reflected my views.
“I have demanded …” Louise, you’re one in several millions. What’s with this demanding?
“We have a right to vote”. It’s actually a privilege really. Try living somewhere else.
You say “what’s with this demanding?”
I was replying to Latimer Alder’s request for evidence of members of the public ‘demanding’ as he seems to think we don’t exist – well we do.
Louise, the public are able to “demand” when en masse they have created a tidal force of opinion. Unless you’re part of that tide your “demand” counts for nothing. In fact individually, your “demand” counts for nothing anyway. Sorry. .
I did not ask for evidence of ‘members of the public demanding’. I asked for evidence of ‘The Public’ (my caps) doing so – as Martha had written.
Sure, there is the odd crazy person who puts climate change at the top of their list of political demands. Just like there are people whose top priority is the removal of dogs..t or the restoration of the Plantaganet monarchy or the investigation of UFOs.
But in UK at least, there is no mass movement of ‘The Public’ making such demands, Indeed we are supremely indifferent about it. ‘Climate change’ regularly features as the least important of 20 policy problems when public opinion is sampled here.
I have no evidence that it it any different in any other European country. Can you provide any to the contrary?
But JFF, here’;s a nice example of how seriously Climate Change is taken by an unscientific sample
Your apparently proud ignorance is nothing to be proud of and instead of imagining I have the time or inclination to be your personal assistant, you and Tony (both grown men, I assume) need to take responsibility for your own awareness.
What I actually said, Latimer, is that “the European public actively supports domestic emissions reductions and European countries and industry have been moving forward with or without a global deal (for lack of a better term). And for anyone who doesn’t know, climate change is a dominant issue in the politics of e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, and island nations, in addition to European countries; it is a focus in the African context; and many indigenous communities around the world have demanded action at the highest political levels.”
You ignore the examples of France and Germany offered to you by tempterrain. Apparently you mistake the U.K., and your experience of the U.K., for the sum total of European society. How very colonial of you.
It is not my problem you are also apparently so ignorant that you have never heard of Australia or New Zealand, don’t know anything about Latin America, and have no interest or knowledge regarding indigenous politics.
You are more than capable of self-education, Latimer, so the fact that you might not know a community referendum, a fisher or a woman if one of these hit you in the face, does not surprise me.
Some of the most active climate justice activity by citizens is in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Do you know why? Ever heard of ‘glaciers’? Didn’t think so. I have no doubt you do not think there is such a thing as African civil society, either. Similarly, you still have no clue about the Inuit submissions to the UNFCCC process – even though it is only two months ago that you and I had that discussion.
In the U.S., ‘denizens’ like you prefer to ignore that 19 community-based Latino groups including the National Hispanic Medical Association and the League of United Latin American Citizens have demanded the current government take action on climate change. For those who do not know what a poll is, or that this one way of gathering a bit of information, many will also not know that African-American communities are very concerned about climate change. Etc.
It might be an improvement to stop parading your ignorance. :-(
Lots of countries. Heaps of countries. Countries too numerous to detail here. Martha will no doubt enumerate them all but it will take her a long time to write them all down. The list is so long I suggest you will have plenty of time to have a cup of tea and a piece of cake whilst reading them. Boy, will YOU look silly when she comes up with all the names and the evidence,. :)
I would say that the key difference between Europe and the USA is the relative lack of political partisanship in Europe with a strong divide, on attitudes towards, among left and right parties. Of course, European political parties on the left, such as the Green parties, strongly support measures to address climate change, but so too do more conservative European political parties.
For example, France’s President Chirac supported key environmental and climate change policies in France in , and conservative German administrations in the past two decades have supported EU climate change initiatives. In the period after President Bush announced that the United States was leaving and would not ratify the Kyoto Treaty, European media and newspapers on both the left and right criticized the move.
The British Conservative Party fought the last UK election with a strong pro AGW policy in their manifesto in an attempt to win the support of people like Louise who are indeed demanding climate action. Do they really believe what they’ve said or was it just to attract votes? Maybe Louise can answer that herself. But if the British Tory party are as secretly sceptical as I think they may well be, for political reasons, the fact that they dare not say so openly does support Louise’s assertion that the voting public will not go along with that line.
But what you have identified is that the political leaders support climate change initiatives. That is not at all the same as there being a mass movement of ‘The Public’ as Martha implied.
There is no such mass movement. The streets of London are not filled with protesters demanding that more windmills be built. There are no mass meetings of the climate aware proletariat demanding an extra three pence per KWh on the feed-in tariff and the immediate banning of all tungsten filament light bulbs.
These have all been measures imposed by the politicos on the public and have very little public support. There is only one ‘green’ MP in the UK parliament from 635. The nearest thing to a mass movement is the Transition Towns …who are a weak and feeble organisation..and umbrella group for all the local weirdos to shelter under.
Overall climate change is a big turnoff to the general public here.
You have analyzed, as an Australian, the differences between “European” and USA politics.
I’d say that the “differences” within “Europe” are just as great.
Let’s take Switzerland (where I live) and Greece. Or Denmark and Bulgaria.
Obviously the citizens of the more affluent nations have more time to think about abstract thoughts, such as “climate change” (and probably have a greater collective “guilt feeling” for their affluence) than the struggling Bulgars or bankrupt Greeks. Still, polls show that the fear of AGW has waned in the general population of most European countries and this is no longer considered to be a major problem by most people.
In the USA, increased “taxation” and bigger government appears to be the philosophy of the (more “liberal”) Democrats, while the (more “conservative”) Republicans and members of the grassroots “tea-party” movement want less “taxation” and reduced government spending. The current “debt ceiling” debate points this out pretty vividly. The “cap and trade” debate last fall (involving an indirect carbon “tax”) went largely along party lines. From the poll results I have seen, a majority of Americans have not concluded that AGW is a major problem (especially not in comparison with more urgent existential problems)
Many European nations have multi-party systems. Some (Germany, for example) form “coalition” governments when there is no absolute majority, and others (like Switzerland) do not. As a result, there may be less polarization than there is currently in the USA. Many of these countries have “Green” parties (Switzerland has two: a left-leaning “Green” party and a more free-market oriented “Green Liberal” party). In Germany the “Green” party plays a fairly strong role and has even participated in earlier coalition governments with the “Social Democratic” party.
All-in-all it appears to me that the past Labor government in the UK went the farthest out on the AGW bandwagon (I can still recall Gordon Brown’s pre-Copenhagen “we have fewer than fifty days to save our planet” line).
I don’t know about Australia, but it appears that the current government there is following in Brown’s footsteps (but you know more about that than I do).
Across the old industrially developed world it appears to me that the AGW craze has waned (or never really taken off) somewhat to the dismay of the proponents of the “dangerous AGW” premise, as was evidenced in Copenhagen and later in Cancun..
In the large developing economies it appears that improving the welfare of the inhabitants through industrialization is of greater importance than chasing a less existential “rich white man’s” hobgoblin. And (as we have already seen with China) these are the nations, which will contribute most to the world’s global carbon footprint of the future.
That’s my “back of the envelope analysis” (to go along with yours.
The European public has been under heavy Carbon propaganda for years. The public has been brainwashed! Thank god for climate-gate and Gaia for the cooling. It’s a shame that these were necessary for some opening!
And on the other hand you have TV channels as Fox news, run by that nice old chap, Mr Rupert Murdoch, which can be relied upon to give you the whole truth on everything. Rupert is so scrupulous in checking his facts that his reporters even hack the phones of murder victims just to make absolutely certain.
You Americans are just so lucky!
It’s all ONE hand to me. Haves and have mores.
We don’t have Fox News in UK. We have the good old BBC who can be relied upon to churn out AGW propaganda at the every conceivable opportunity. And even after fifteen or twenty years of such efforts, climate change is not a priority in politics.
It seems you know as little about the history of media as you do about climate.
Good point tempterrain. I was reading about the “hacking” and the best theory as to why 31 publications were doing it was that british libel laws were so onerous that journalists from most papers were hacking etc in order to ensure they did have the facts straight.
If only science writers were interested in facts.
The trend of making “scary scenarios” predates climate change. Rather than saying “it is shameful that there are homeless people in the US” advocates claim millions of people are homeless. People make up wild numbers about child abductions or claim that essentially all women have been sexually assaulted (raped) by including pinching or tickling in the definition. This is perpetuated by journalists who don’t bother checking facts. It pollutes discourse and is a bullying tactic.
Part of that, of course, is the media’s natural affinity for sensationalism. It makes a sensational “study” from a think tank irresistible. And the advocacy groups know that.
Steven Schneider’s description of the “double ethical bind” seems quite reasonable to me. The fact that Steve Schneider is a scientist should not have barred him from pursuing policy advocacy – and he was a well-informed advocate – by whatever tactics he felt were appropriate. He lived in a free country and tenure gave him additional freedom to pursue his intellectual passions. However, when describing the ethical dilemmas facing scientists who wish “to make the world a better place”, Schneider has drawn an unambiguous DISTINCTION between SCIENCE – the whole truth and nothing but the truth with all of the doubts, caveats, ifs and buts – and policy ADVOCACY – loads of media coverage, scary stories, simplified dramatic statements, and no mention of doubts. Measured by Schneider’s standard, IPCC’s Summaries for Policymakers represent policy advocacy, not science.
Scary stories: “By mid-century, increases in temperature and associated decreases in soil water are projected to lead to gradual replacement of tropical forest by savanna in eastern Amazonia.” AR4 WG2 SPM p14. (According to a study cited by WG1, most climate models project an increased or constant rainfall in the Amazon. As best I can tell, only one climate model made the above prediction.)
Simplified dramatic statements: “New analyses of proxy data for the Northern Hemisphere indicate that the increase in temperature in the 20th century is likely to have been the largest of any century during the past 1,000 years. It is also likely that, in the Northern Hemisphere, the 1990s was the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year (Figure 1b).” (Where are the caveats? Every climatologist who looked at Figure 1b should have immediately asked why the well-documented Little Ice Age wasn’t apparent in Figure 1b. Von Storch and others eventually showed that MBH methodology underestimated reconstructed variation. Every expert on tree-ring proxies knew there was a divergence problem that cast doubt on our ability to reconstruct warm temperatures during the MWP.)
“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.” (Where are the appropriate caveats for this iconic statement? Buried in Box 10.2 of the main report, we find an important caveat: “the AOGCMs used in IPCC reports are an ‘ensemble of opportunity’ not designed to sample modelling uncertainties systematically or randomly”. In other words, the IPCC’s models were not selected to answer the question: Can a reasonable climate model explain most of the warming since the mid-20th century without anthropogenic forcing? Furthermore, Table SPM.2 shows that the uncertainty in total radiative forcing (0.6-2.4 W/m2, 90% ci) is comparable to the forcing due to anthropogenic GHGs (2.4-2.9 W/m2). If the IPCC hadn’t used a fixed input for the poorly understood aerosol (which apparently varied from model to model), the range of model projections in Figure SPM.4 would have been much wider.)
Steve Schneider and other scientists/activists owe it to policymakers, journalists and the public to clearly explain: a) when they are speaking as scientists — and thereby are “promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts” — AND b) when they are speaking as policy advocates.
In our society, everyone expects policy advocates, politicians and attorneys to selectively present only the information that supports their position and to attempt to discredit – often unfairly – information that contradicts their position. Development of policy by legislators and the search for justice in courtrooms is an inherently adversarial process. Therefore, both sides in this adversarial process are given equal opportunity (and often equal time) to present their case. Ethical journalists covering this adversarial process are expected to investigate and present both sides of any issue.
Unlike attorneys and politicians, scientists normally do not seek the “truth” or advance by an inherently adversarial process. The results of experiments are expected to be published along with all “the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts”; a subject which is discussed more fully in Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science”. When they can trust scientists to tell the truth, the whole truth etc., ethical journalists don’t need to investigate and present both sides of a scientific issue.
It seems to me that the IPCC has become the prosecutor of anthropogenic GHGs, presenting only one side of the case and permitting no defense in the court of public opinion. IPCC reports are not supposed to prescribe specific policies to deal with GHGs, but nothing prevents them from presenting a biased case for the guilt of GHGs. This situation seems analogous to scientific prosecutors presenting a case against fossil fuels and allowing the jury (ie legislators) to decide whether the criminal gets parole (adaption), community service (mitigation), or jail (loss of freedom to be burned).
Frank, “Steven Schneider’s description of the “double ethical bind” seems quite reasonable to me” and from the outset so it was (perhaps). Science is science and advocacy is advocacy, but you go on to show how dreadfully mistaken this policy has become because the advocates pretended to be scientists, or at least to speak with the disinterested authority of scientists, so that the whole saga has now become an largely unnoticed tragedy of misinformation to the world at large. How are we going to disabuse society of these dreadful misconceptions? .
Scientists could tell their scientists/advocates that the reputations of all scientists are being damaged when some let their audiences be confused about when they are speaking as scientist and when they are speaking as advocates. I’d love to see a Congressman use Schneider’s quote to quiz typical alarmist scientists appearing before their committee. “Is the written statement you provided this committee a scientific document – with all of the caveats scientists are supposed to provide – or are you appearing here as a knowledgeable advocate?” “You cite statements from the IPCC – is that an organization that uphold’s Schneider’s standards for ethical science or is that an organization trying to make the world a better place by telling scary stories?” Actually, any of us, especially journalists, can ask scientist/advocates from either side of the debate whether the same questions? We can also ask our scientific societies whether it makes sense for them to issue statements advocating policy when their job is to uphold the standards science? If the statement doesn’t met the ethical standards of science (as described by Schneider), it shouldn’t be issued by a scientific society. Perhaps an ethical summary of the current state of climate science could be followed by policy recommendations, but all of the caveats, ifs ands and buts will certainly reduce the impact of the policy recommendations.
Dr. Schneider made it seem possible for ethical scientists to also be effective policy advocates. Let’s insist that they actually follow his standards. If the IPCC aspires to issue scientific reports. let’s ask all authors to sign a statement derived from Schneider’s quote. I wonder how many IPCC scientists participate because they want to give policymakers accurate scientific information and how many participate because they want to influence policy?
‘Buried in Box 10.2 of the main report, we find an important caveat: “the AOGCMs used in IPCC reports are an ‘ensemble of opportunity’ not designed to sample modelling uncertainties systematically or randomly”.’
The problem of models – and the necessity of systematically exploring the model phase space – is more fundamental still.
‘Atmospheric and oceanic computational simulation (AOS) models often successfully depict chaotic space–time patterns, flow phenomena, dynamical balances, and equilibrium distributions that mimic nature. This success is accomplished through necessary but nonunique choices for discrete algorithms, parameterizations, and coupled contributing processes that introduce structural instability into the model. Therefore, we should expect a degree of irreducible imprecision in quantitative correspondences with nature, even with plausibly formulated models and careful calibration (tuning) to several empirical measures. Where precision is an issue (e.g., in a climate forecast), only simulation ensembles made across systematically designed model families allow an estimate of the level of relevant irreducible imprecision.’
‘AOS models are members of the broader class of deterministic chaotic dynamical systems, which provides several expectations about their properties. In the context of weather prediction, the generic property of sensitive dependence is well understood. For a particular model, small differences in initial state (indistinguishable within the sampling uncertainty for atmospheric measurements) amplify with time at an exponential rate until saturating at a magnitude comparable to the range of intrinsic variability.’
‘AOS models are therefore to be judged by their degree of plausibility, not whether they are correct or best. This perspective extends to the component discrete algorithms, parameterizations, and coupling breadth: There are better or worse choices (some seemingly satisfactory for their purpose or others needing repair) but not correct or best ones. The bases for judging are a priori formulation, representing the relevant natural processes and choosing the discrete algorithms, and a posteriori solution behaviour.’
‘Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation.’ http://www.pnas.org/content/104/21/8709.long
There is no estimate of the intrinsic variability within the ‘opportunistic ensemble of models’ because there has been no systematic exploration of ‘modelling uncertainties.’ An important idea in understanding the results of any model is that plausibility is determined based on ‘a posteriori solution behaviour.’ That is – solutions diverge exponentially within the range of feasible initial and boundary conditions. A possible solution is selected qualitatively as being ‘plausible’ after the fact (a posteriori solution behaviour) – and emailed to the IPCC.
Modellers – and the IPCC – clearly understand the behaviours of these members of the broader class of ‘chaotic dynamical systems’. They appear less than forthright in this in that the disclaimer is there – but with no explanation as to the relevance.
It’s too computationally expensive to systematically explore uncertainty with well designed ensembles of climate models. Stainforth et al use slab oceans and don’t vary any ocean parameters for this reason.
It’s not only computationally expensive, but also fundamentally questionable, because the phase space of the ensemble is not known. It’s limits are not known and the phase space density is known even less. This problem is closely related to the lack of an unique prior for the Bayesian inference. It may be imagined that this problem is not very severe, but that is wishful thinking with little justification.
‘Prediction of weather and climate are necessarily uncertain: our observations of weather and climate are uncertain, the models into which we assimilate this data and predict the future are uncertain, and external effects such as volcanoes and anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are also uncertain. Fundamentally, therefore, therefore we should think of weather and climate predictions in terms of equations whose basic prognostic variables are probability densities ρ(X,t) where X denotes some climatic variable and t denoted time. In this way, ρ(X,t)dV represents the probability that, at time t, the true value of X lies in some small volume dV of state space. Prognostic equations for ρ, the Liouville and Fokker-Plank equation are described by Ehrendorfer (this volume). In practice these equations are solved by ensemble techniques, as described in Buizza(this volume).’ (Predicting Weather and Climate – Palmer and Hagedorn eds – 2006)
There may be ways – although the details are beyond me.
There are ways, but they are partly subjective. Proceeding through the ensemble and an extensive set of calculations removes part of the subjectivity, but not all of it. In case of weather forecasts a lot of statistics on the success can be collected and that tells much about the ensemble properties. In case of climate similar learning is very slow.
And what would you , and others on this blog, say, if scientists did sit in their ivory towers saying nothing in public about the policy implications of their work? Suppose they just sat back and left it all for others?
I think that the denier/sceptic line then would certainly be that the AGW problem couldn’t be anywhere near as bad as these dreadful activists were claiming. If it were, then surely the scientists would speak up on the issue themselves. Well yes, wouldn’t they?
yeah that would sound logical as an argument therefore it would be used
tempterrain and simon
An excellent example of “scientists…speak[ing] up on the issue themselves” is Dr. Judith Curry.
With her blogsite including the many posts she has authored herself she has done more to bring about a balanced discussion on the many open issues than many of the “activists” through their doomsday predictions.
You apparently have a lot of straw to waste on empty arguments.
Tempterrain: I, at least, recognized Dr. Schneider’s right and/or calling to serve as an informed policy advocate. He shouldn’t sit back when his intellect and heart tell him he should act. Unfortunately, when Dr. Schneider tells his scary stories, I’m not going to grant him the same normally credibility accorded to ethical scientists – unless he carefully distinguishes between these two roles. The clearest sign that scientist/advocates are taking this responsibility seriously will come when they publicly criticize their peers for violating ethical standards in scientific forums. (Throwing Phil or Michael to the dogs will restore the credibility normally accorded scientists. Unfortunately, this would interfere with making the world a better place. What’s more important?)
Even better would be for scientists to do as Judith Curry is doing – help get an open dialog going on the critical issues, so that people can get informed rather than simply be exposed to only the official “consensus” party line.
“Suppose they [the scientists] just sat back and left it all for others?” Absolutely what they should do. The activists would then be much more likely to take an objective line and the “denier/sceptics” would be much more likely to agree with them. The confusion between science and advocacy on the part of the scientists is the root of this totally pernicious problem which is altogether of their own making..
” The activists would then be much more likely to take an objective line and the ‘denier/sceptics’ would be much more likely to agree with them. “
I’ve heard a similar argument from Judith. She’s claimed that if climate scientists agreed more with her claimed uncertainty limits, then skeptics/deniers would be less likely to disagree with conventional science.
I’ve not seen any evidence at all for either of these lines of thought. I just cannot see any possibility of the anti-science crowd changing their attitude even if both these suggestions were followed. As far as they are concerned AGW is a scam and, regardless of any claimed certainty limits and regardless of what climate scientists do or don’t say in public, they just aren’t having a bar of it.
it is well documented that the anti-science people are in the AGW believer community.
Your reliance on the use of ‘denier’ puts you not only in the believer/ignorant side of this but the ‘loser’ category as well.
Schneider had the effect of institutionalizing climate lying to sell sell AGW.
Like all big lie efforts, it works for awhile and then unravels.
We are well into the unraveling of AGW.
Well, tt – since you know nothing about sceptics – or science – I’m not surprised that you jjust cannot see any possibility. But I also understand that’s because you don’t want to see any possibility.
Oh but I would! What would it take for you to be convinced that AGW was a real problem?
The Australian CSIRO say it is and as far as I know they have never received any of the criticism reserved for the UEA or NASA groups? But maybe they are the next on the “hit list”?
The Australian CSIRO say it is and as far as I know they have never received any of the criticism reserved for the UEA or NASA groups?
You haven’t been paying attention, have you. But it is true that they’ve not yet been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
could you be convinced AGW is not the problem yo believe it is?
You really have no scientific thinking/attitude.
Disagreeing with conventional science should be welcomed and encouraged. You want science to die.
You should study philosophy and history of science. Paradigms are stagnation of science. It’s downtime for science.
Well if it was as simple as that you’d disagree with everything. In that case you might be right maybe 1% of the time and wrong 99%.
However if you agree with conventional science the figures would be reversed.
Here’s how “climate change communication” is done in Australia.
Ads show cosy cocoon of advisers and the advised
Tom Barlow, The Australian, 23/7/11
ADVERTISING campaigns are not often celebrated for their honesty. But the Gillard government’s media campaign to “illustrate a vision for Australia’s clean energy future” has a refreshing candour.
The advertisements parade various beneficiaries of the government’s energy policies. With surprising authenticity, most of these ventures are small, parochial and inconsequential.
One of the more remarkable examples of the government’s vision for our future, however, is the wind energy company, Infigen.
Infigen is an Australian Securities Exchange-listed company. Its assets include the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and, judging by the government’s advertisements, it has some pretty happy employees.
But it is also a company that recently reported a $34 million loss during the six months to last December and looks likely from its financial statements to report another loss this year. Equally telling, its very name (a conflation of infinite and energy generation) gives the finger to reality.
There is no surprise in any of that; it is a renewable energy company after all. But think about the symbolism. Everybody knows this government’s vision for a clean energy future involves running Australia at a loss. But normally in advertising you put your best foot forward.
To choose Infigen as a pin-up for this government’s vision of our energy future is effectively an admission that profits, or even balanced budgets, don’t matter.
There is another, deeper truth, however, that emerges from these commercials. Ironically, the only scientist quoted is also the one person to make an overtly misleading statement.
Alex Wonhas leads CSIRO’s Energy Transformed Flagship. At the end of one of the carbon tax advertisements, he observes that “the transformation that we are about to undergo is a similar transformation to the industrial revolution”. Now scientists are renowned for hyperbole. The standards of proof they use when talking about the impact of their work are never the same as the standards they use in doing their work.
But this claim takes the established double standard to an unprecedented level.
The industrial revolution replaced wind power with coal power, it led to a dramatic increase in energy consumption and it enabled industry to produce manufactured goods at massively higher volumes and at drastically lower prices than was previously the case.
Contrast this with the outcomes from Australia’s proposed clean energy future. Our little revolution here seeks to replace coal power with wind power, its overt intention is to decrease energy consumption and it can only increase the cost of manufactured goods. The debate today is entirely about who should pay for it.
There is another important difference too. The industrial revolution was a commercial phenomenon. Practical people in private employment made the great inventions of the 18th and 19th centuries, and their ideas were implemented by businessmen who realised the potential for providing human wants on a mass scale.
By comparison, Australia’s new clean energy future is a political phenomenon. The transformation promoted in the government’s advertisements is entirely a creation of policy-makers and intellectuals: in other words, of impractical people for the most part working in pubic employment.
Furthermore, in sharp contrast to what happened in the industrial revolution, this particular transformation can be implemented only where governments act to control and constrain the choices consumers are able to make. Whereas the industrial revolution dramatically increased freedom of choice in human society, this government’s revolution is likely to reduce it.
The inclusion of such a hyperbolic claim within these advertisements and its association with an authoritative scientific organisation such as the CSIRO is disturbing. But it also befits our times.
It seems we have a government whose members are altogether too eager to hear only what they want to hear and too ready to place their blind, unquestioning belief in the authority of experts.
It is this, coupled with the reciprocal readiness of scientists to blur the distinction between fact and assertion, their willingness to equate computer models with empirical data and their propensity to confuse present technological realities with future possibilities that got us into this mess in relation to climate change policy.
There are a great many criticisms that can be made about these extraordinary government advertisements. They have been justified on the basis that we need more information yet they contain little information. They have used taxpayer funds to provide free publicity for a very small group of companies, presumably to the disadvantage of their competitors – something for the government’s Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office to chew over.
But the real sadness lies in what these advertisements tell us about the failed and excessively cosy relationship between this government and its scientific advisers. In its blind acceptance of the scientific promise, this government tragically has succumbed to the triumph of wishful thinking over common sense.
Thomas Barlow was formerly a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, and a science adviser to the Howard government.
I accept conclusions based on valid interpretation of the data.
I accept the hadcrut3gl.txt data to be valid.
Nearly 100% of the data from 1880 to 2010 are bounded by an upper boundary red line and a lower boundary green line, with a trend of 0.6 deg C per century, as shown in the following graph.
As nearly 100% of the global mean temperature (GMT) data lie within this boundary for 13 decades, it is most likely that in the next decade the observed GMT will also lie within this boundary.
Note that the data from 1970 to 2010 that show a global warming rate of 1.6 deg C per century is only 31% of the recorded data under consideration. As 100% is more likely than 31%, it is more likely that the global warming rate for the next decade would be 0.6 than 1.6 deg C per century.
In the next decade, if most of the observed data lie outside the upper GMT boundary line (red shaded region), then I would accept AGW.
So the year 2020 will be when we get the “Girma” verdict. Can’t wait!
Don’t forget to let us all know.
We don’t need to wait untill 2020.
Are the GMT starting from this year greater than 0.55 deg C?
How is recognition of varying levels of expertise “elitism” please?
JC comment(s): no problem with this one, but Schneider et al. invariably resort to appeal to consensus and authority… Schneider is to be commended for raising this issue of treatment of uncertainty by the IPCC, but ultimately his position on this issue led to … elitism in terms of over reliance on expert judgment and the establishment of an elite consensus.
“Expert credibility in climate change” is a relevant metric, and not only of individual researchers’ body of work. The same line of analysis needs to be applied to which hypotheses have been confirmed in the peer review literature by multiple lines of evidence (positive feedback from water vapor), versus which ones keep on being presented, and promptly debunked in the same peer review literature (cosmic rays drive climate change, weakening or slowing down of the in the Meridional Overturning Circulation, as two examples).
Of course, such fringe views MAY ultimately prove right, but until they can be confirmed by multiple lines of inquiry, they are not, and should not, be considered probable and the advocates of fringe views have a harder task. That is not “elitism,” that is just LIFE for a scientist.
One of the problems with “noble cause corruption” is that it can attach itself to causes which turn out to be not that noble. Schneider was one of the foremost advocates of the global cooling scare in the 70’s. See for example
When discussing problems involved in communicating climate science, I find it interesting that there is often academic focus on the psychology (or even mental health) of sceptics, but I have seen nothing at all on the psychology of doomsday soothsayers who leap from one end-of-the-world paradigm to another scientifically inconsistent paradigm wiithout batting an eye, and, in both instances, convince themselves that they have the right to blur the distinction between science and advocacy because of the importance (nobility) of the issue and their conviction that they are right despite the inherent uncertainties in either paradigm.
Exactly spot on.
Why do beleivers and promoters of AGW and other apocalyptic clap trap get a free pass on their inner workings?
The effort to understand what drives so many to embrace such buffoonery would offer a huge payback to the researcher.
Like many in the ‘consensus’ CAGW camp, Scheider recommended throwing science and integrity overboard, and flat-out lying to the public about what is understood about climate, in pursuit of some other agenda.
There is no more “ethical bind” in this deliberate fraud, than there was in was in the Madoff case. All such people should rot in prison until they die.
The main anti-science group in all this is the bulk of the climate scientists themselves, who stand foursqaure behind the sort of fraud Scheider recommended.
If and when the climate establishment ever decides to stop lying to us, there is every possilbilty that non-morons, and those not precomiitted to more taxes by whatever means available, will start will start taking them seriously.
In summary : there is nothing “noble” in the corruption of science as recommended by Schneider (and practiced by Jones, Mann et al)
There is another way to express Schneider’s point. Knowledge is only an approximation to what is intended to be known: scientists always seek better knowledge, which entails closer approximations, and the best science is always the best approximation. When talking with non-scientists, one always uses analogies that are meaningful to them, but are necessarily not the best approximations. When translating from the best approximation to one that is not as accurate, there is a risk of being, or of seeming to be, intentionally misleading.
This is an inherently unavoidable problem if you wish to converse with non-experts.
Schneider’s recommendation is to deliberately mislead the public. This has absolutely nothing to do with the difficulty of communicating the implications of some specialized knowledge.
It’s like urging doctors to systematically lie to their patients regarding their health prospects.
“JC comment: well that is the trillion dollar question, the range of judgments regarding the degree of validation required for a policy decision.”
The IPCC does not subject its models to public dissection. so this trillion dollar question is carefully managed by the IPCC to avoid their embarrassment..
It is time to take another look at the Schneider loaded dice analogy in the light of new data. I refer to the on/off nature of climate change. On 1910 to 1940 and 1970 to 1997 and Off 1940 to 1970 and 1997 to the present. It seems we now need two dices, one loaded and one normal. If Schneider agreed with the two dice theory he would have to throw out the IPCC models.
Schneider was projecting his own flaws onto the masses in the hopes that he could start an army to do what he couldn’t. And it would appear that tempterrain above, is already willing to be a jackbooted thug for Schneider’s needs. It’s bound to be damn hot where Schneider is today.