Changing minds

by Judith Curry

Fred Moolten poses the following challenge:

I would be interested in a post asking participants how their own views have evolved as a result of participation here (and their experiences elsewhere as well). I expect few epiphanies or conversions, but I would be disappointed if no-one acknowledges learning anything. I’m sure you would be too.

Sooooo. . .  lets hear from you regarding how your views have evolved over the last year.  Mine have certainly evolved, as is apparent from my posts.  Fred’s evolution is described below:

Fred Moolten:
Submitted on 2011/10/20 at 2:02 pm

Judy – Reading this post and comments motivates me to suggest a new topic you might want to consider. It relates to evolving viewpoints. I’ll lead up to it.

Since participating in Climate Etc., I have changed my opinions about a number of things. Not to arouse false expectations, my overall views are not dramatically altered, but they are different nonetheless. Most of this involves a more unfavorable view of certain aspects of IPCC performance. It includes increased disapproval of the personal behavior of Phil Jones, the excessive attention to Michael Mann’s hockey stick and Mann’s failure to call attention to the Briffa truncation, some arbitrary judgments on the inclusion and omission of references, arbitrary judgments about Bayesian priors in AR4 WG1 Chapter 9, and various unjustified intrusions of material from biased sources in WG2 and WG3 that damage the credibility of those WG documents. It also includes disapproval of some of the reflexive defenses of IPCC performance that emerged after the ClimateGate revelations. I understand some of the latter as a reaction to what was perceived, in some cases correctly, as a politically motivated attack on climate science itself, but I can’t approve of it.

I think that readers familiar with my comments in this blog won’t be surprised that I haven’t altered my general conclusions about the state of the science or the confidence we can place in current assessments of climate change and its long term trajectory. These have never been dependent on the IPCC. On the other hand, I now have less confidence in impact statements. Conversely, in spending time researching many aspects of basic climate physics and the role of anthropogenic emissions, I find myself more confident than previously that the general principles are correct. As an item of particular importance, I have seen the recent data on transient climate responses (along with uncertainty considerations) as reinforcing previous estimates of climate sensitivity that were more dependent on GCMs – that element has grown stronger.

Finally, in what is clearly a change for the better, although not a change in opinion, I have learned more about some very specific scientific concepts – the recent ones include aliasing, and error correction in the numerical solutions of differential equations central to GCMs, just to cite a few examples. I’ve also developed increased respect for some individuals outside of climate science whose sophisticated understanding of some of the mathematical underpinings of the science should be helpful to the climate science professionals in improving their management of important data.

I would be interested in a post asking participants how their own views have evolved as a result of participation here (and their experiences elsewhere as well). I expect few epiphanies or conversions, but I would be disappointed if no-one acknowledges learning anything. I’m sure you would be too.

487 responses to “Changing minds

  1. I have learned that Judith has a beautiful mind uniquely unsuited to identifying the politicking of climate change science. I have also learned to ignore Joshua and.anybody else who comments away from the post’s topic. I have also learned those grandstanding famous scientists don’t get skepticism not because of idiocy, rather out of an innate inability to relate to non-colleagues.

    I am now a Wojick and Mosher aficionado (even if the latter strongly reminds me of my own self with an excessive penchant for snarking). Finally I wish I had had the idea about the aliasing post, since I do know about the topic :)

    PS regarding the science of AGW ..well, if and when there’ll be a debate to be having with enough non-sanctimonious professionals … so far, attribution has been getting less and less likely.

    Pps the uncertainty monster is policy, not science. A great metaphor. I’ll treasure that.

  2. I cannot say Climate Etc., changed my views.
    Just opened my eyes to a system of utter confusion that is suppose to predict the future of climate strictly on the basis of temperatures and finding a pattern to an extremely short period of planetary time.

    Since being here… I followed the salt trail and created a mapping on this planets rotation of different speeds to the latitudes.

    • Judith,
      If you’d like, I can email you a copy of the distance circumference to speed mapping of this planet.

  3. Judith,

    Do you have any idea who gets their comments axed the most on Climate Etc.?
    Am I number 1?

  4. Richard Saumarez

    I think many of the articles are extremely valuable because they raise problems in climate science that are not immediately obvious to non-climatologists who are interested in following the AGW controversy (if I may call it that). In doing so they are thought provoking and the two posts of mine that you were kind enough to host, were obviously stimulated by this blog.

    I get the impression that this is one of the mainstream blogs that attracts a larger number of scientifically educated readers and I do believe that some valuable ideas can be distilled out the comments, simply because readers with expertise in disciplines that are important in underpinning climate science, but do not form its central core, may occasionally talk sense.

    An interesting exercise might be to try and summarise the ideas that have come out of a particular post and see if there are any “nuggets” that constitute “independent and critical thought” that are actually valuable to climatologists.

    • “I think many of the articles are extremely valuable because they raise problems in climate science that are not immediately obvious to non-climatologists who are interested in following the AGW controversy”

      Looking at the same events from a slightly different perspective, I’d say they help non-climatologists like you reach out to impressionable, politically motivated non-scientists and misrepresent yourselves as scientists with an apolitical interest in (usually fictional) “problems” is climate science.

      Guest posts like yours connect the hucksters to the suckers: the con men to those that yearn to be conned.

    • Richard,

      Well I see, Robert–everyone’s favorite leg-humper–has paid you (and others too, it appears) a little visit. Ol’ Robert, as you probably know by now, is a more than slightly deranged greenshirt crazy, famous for his fixations, motor-mouth obsessions, and a certain loser blog that no one reads. And Robert is one of climate science’s leading lights. I mean when your tax dollars are shoveled in the IPPC’s direction, for example, it’s some guy like Robert who pockets the dough. What a deal!

      But let’s give Robert the benefit of the doubt, and go to his loser blog, “The Idiot Tracker”, which no one reads, and, in view of his criticism of your post, Richard, see how one of the big-gun luminaries of climate science does it. Might even learn a thing or two.

      Well, well, now that we’ve arrived at Robert’s “Idiot Tracker” blog, what do we see here? Well, the first thing that hits you up the side of the head is a world-class, hum-dinger neologism–“mathturbate” in various forms. Good beginning, huh? Now let’s see how Robert works his little invented word into important contributions to climate science. Consider, first, the titles of two posts, dated 18 and 19 October:

      “Frank Lemke Mathturbates in public–Judith Curry watches”

      “Mathturbation–Richard Saumarez joins the circle”

      Then consider Robert’s fixation with Dr. Curry and how he pursues his obsession in a way that reflects climate science’s high standards of professional courtesy and conduct. Not only does Robert leave us with the image of Dr. Curry watching Frank Lemke “mathturbate” in the title of one of his posts, but the other post opens with the remark, “…Judith Curry’s appetite for group mathturbation remains unslaked.” I think that’s enough to get the idea. We’re dealing in Robert with a truly unwholesome, disturbed creature.

      Again, Robert is one of climate science’s over-achievers (just ask him). And what is the quality of the discussion on the various greenshirt blogs among Robert’s fellow tenured academics and the like? Well, it’s not so very different from Robert’s discourse–indeed, with a few rare and welcome exceptions, Robert and his greenshirt pals are recognizably birds of a feather.

      • But let’s give Robert the benefit of the doubt, and go to his loser blog, “The Idiot Tracker”, which no one reads,

        ….Followed by a couple of paragraphs detailing what Mark just read at Robert’s blog.

        Classic window into the logic of a “skeptic.”

      • Some consider me snarky, but I wish I had thought to call mike “Mark.” Deliberate snark or fantastic accident? Awesome in either case.

      • Sorry – I’m not that witty, and I have a learning disability with names.

        Apparently it upset Hilary greatly when I misspelled her name.

      • Josh,

        Since you’ve quoted my comment, I think you mean “…detailing what MIKE (not MARK) just read…”

        What’s matter with you, dim-wit? Do I haf tah get Hilary in here tah slap yah silly again afore you start gettin’ names right? I’ll do it, if I haf tah!

      • Tough break, Mark.

        I think the nickname is gonna stick.

      • Richard Saumarez

        How do you kill a Troll?

        You raise him to the height of his ego and let go. When he impacts at the level of his IQ, death should be instantaneous.

      • barn E. rubble

        RE: “. . . and go to his loser blog, “The Idiot Tracker”, which no one reads . . .”

        Had you not mentioned it Mike, at least one less ‘reader’ would never have found it. Now I have to, to see for myself . . . thanks.

      • This is bizarre, over-the-top *funny*! It’s sooooooo over-the-top I had to google “….Lemke Mathturbates in public – Judith….” to determine if it were a put on…..

        Whew! If I were Judith, I’d be vaguely amused, although if he showed up within a hundred miles I’d get a restraining order. Better, a gun.
        …Lady in Red

  5. I agree with Fred but in the opposite direction. Since I do not study the literature near as much as I study WG1, I have found my position towards the version outlined first in WG1, then expanded by WG2 and WG3 to become more and more negative. As someone who is an environmental professional, I find the developmental history of NGO’s and Climategate to be totally unacceptable. In the 25 years of my profession, the US has made measureable improvemrnt in air, land and water. This occurred by using science. When first encountered, I thought the IPCC and climate change were unassailable. But one day I asked a question that had to be resolved for the claim the IPCC made to be correct. I imagine a number will know where I went. When the simple question could not be answered concretely, and I was labeled a denier for just asking, I started my own research and downloaded chapters in WG1. What I found was methodological errors wrt certainty, improper assumption making, and unfounded claims that make much of the attribution a circular argument.

    One of the conclusions I have come to from reading Climate, Etc. is that it (WG1) was worse than I thought. Though I do get a chuckle when someone claims the GCM’s are physical models.

    One other item I find important for a good blog, I may not always agree with the owner, but end up respecting their opinion. This also includes the good patrons. It also includes Fred, on occassion. ;)

  6. Participating here has made me more aware of the influence of politics on people’s views.

    • Your own?

      • I don’t have strong philosophical, political, and religious beliefs that color reality. Ideologies don’t appeal to me, unless being practical is considered an ideology. The color of the cat that catches the mouse doesn’t matter to me. It seems to matter a great deal to some people, and I don’t know why.

        Self-interest shapes my views. Mark Twain said “tell me where a man gets his bread buttered, and I’ll tell you what his pinions are,” or something like that.

        Because I make money off my oil and gas leases, I know natural gas is far less harmful on the environment than coal. OK, but what about the harm from fraking, you may ask? I can tell you It’s a threat to every man, woman, and child in every State except mine.

  7. I read and attempt to follow most of the technical discussions here with varying degrees of success.

    My epiphany was at ClimateAudit. Although not previously an activist in any way, I had held the “consensus” view that emissions should be controlled, although for a portmanteau of reasons, most of which I nodded at in agreement when proposed by someone else.

    I can remember being outraged that Bush rejected Kyoto and that prompting me in to looking at RealClimate etc.

    It was in following the thread of a non-technical disagreement between Steve Mc. and someone (I forget who) at RC that I realised that the RC position on that occasion was inaccurate and dishonest.

    Having one every clear example of something that was non-technical, well documented and beyond dispute being presented in a totally misleading way, it was a small step to see if it was an isolated incident and to make the effort to understand more of the technical arguments.

    Several years later I find myself sorely disappointed in institutions and methods I previously had complete faith (ha!) in, and very much at the possibly-lukewarm-but-no-more side of the debate.

    And far, far more *cynical* in general – a condition I’d like to dispense with, but I’m struggling.

    • “I can remember being outraged that Bush rejected Kyoto and that prompting me in to looking at RealClimate etc.”

      It was US senate that rejected Kyoto 95 Senators against it with no Senator voting for it.
      The US senator is the authority per US Constitution to ratify any treaty.
      And it was during Clinton term in office.
      You might have been outraged by what Bush said about it, but he had nothing to whether it Kyoto was or was not accepted. That ship had already sailed, just as Obama has nothing to do Kyoto being rejected.
      Only president one can possible blame is Clinton- if he had negotiated a deal that the Senate could have accepted then it might have passed.

      • Good post. You might recall that it was Al Gore that negotiated the treaty.

      • The US Senate never rejected Kyoto for the very sensible reason that Clinton never presented it to them. Clinton signed it and then endeavored to avoid senate ratification. GW Bush withdrew the signature, which was widely cited by the press as being a rejection of the treaty although many of us pointed out at the time that it wasn’t a ratified treaty and has less chance of being ratified than the proverbial snowball.

      • U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 105th Congress – 1st Session

        as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

        Vote Summary

        Question: On the Resolution (s.res.98 )
        Vote Number: 205 Vote Date: July 25, 1997, 11:37 AM
        Required For Majority: 1/2 Vote Result: Resolution Agreed to
        Vote Counts: YEAs 95
        NAYs 0
        Not Voting 5

        There was a vote on the treaty. 95-0 in 1997. It was not presented as a treaty as you indicate.

      • In 1999 I was coauthoring with Robert Reinstein a book article on the prospects of the Kyoto Protocol. Robert Reinstein was the US chief negotiator for the UNFCCC during the Reagan administration. He presented rather convincing arguments on the point that changes for ratification of the treaty in the U.S. senate were very slim. On that his views turned out to be right, but who can tell, what would have happened if Al Gore had got elected.

        In the article we wrote more carefully than Reinstein was willing to say in private:

        In terms of key countries, the US is the major question mark. The projections for the US indicate a major shortfall relative to its Kyoto target, and as noted above, the availability of credits through the flexibility mechanisms is estimated to be far too small to compensate for this shortfall, regardless of how permissive the rules may turn out to be. This forces the White House into a difficult position in relation to the US Senate, which must give its advice and consent before US can ratify the treaty. The Senate has already indicated significant concerns regarding the possible economic impacts of the treaty.

        (The book Climate Change, Socioeconomic Dimensions and Consequences of Mitigation Measures was published in Finland in 2000 and must be difficult to find elsewhere.)

    • mrsean2k: Very similar path to mine. I have to say earlier this decade I was very alarmed, but optimistic that perhaps this was a cause that bridge the cultural and political divides and bring us together as a species to work for the common good.
      Then in trying to educate myself to counter a skeptic, lifting the log uncovered all sorts of surprises I wasn’t expecting – and it was at places like RealClimate. Climate Audit was also where I was made aware of the bigger picture of uncertainty, over confidence in assumptions, manipulation of data, and due diligence.

      “I can remember being outraged that Bush rejected Kyoto” – US for me but yes I remember feeling the same way.

    • I think this is true of a lot of people. Steve McIntyre is my gold standard for any complicated issue relating to climate. He is fair (almost to a fault in a political debate) and I am eagerly awaiting a nice long Climate Audit post on the Best data/code.

  8. Concerned Citizen

    My opinion has continued to evolve toward the view that this is a politically driven topic where the technical discussion is only 30% of the story.

    I am continually reminded how many people there are that know a whole lot about specific aspects of the whole of climate science. As an expert in my own (far removed) field of science/engineering, i recognize my own limitations in trying to understand topics without a comprehensive background in the area. That said, I remain unconvinced that there is a sound case for significant AGW, and am firmly convinced that no one knows if a modest level of warming would be good or bad for the planet (either natural or augmented by humans). I am also quite skeptical about the use of results from complex computer models to provide evidence for tenths of a degree of warming, and am acutely aware of the complexities of trying to measure the “temperature of the planet “(this remains an underestimated difficulty). In the computer world GIGO is the extreme, but even modest deficiencies in modelling complex systems can produce the GO.

    Oh, and I am continually impressed/amused/challenged by the written expressions of “Kim.”

    • As an expert in my own (far removed) field of science/engineering, i recognize my own limitations in trying to understand topics without a comprehensive background in the area. That said, I remain unconvinced that there is a sound case for significant AGW, and am firmly convinced that no one knows if a modest level of warming would be good or bad for the planet (either natural or augmented by humans).

      You started off well, but your logic took a dramatic spiral downward.

      This reminds me of one of my disappointments with this blog, which is the incredible misuse of the concept of uncertainty to rationalize one’s position. As here, many denizens will assert that they are uncertain or that the science is uncertain, and them go on in the same breath to claim certain knowledge of a variety of dubious claims.

      • At the risk of giving myself a migraine, I must agree with Robert on this (one and only) point. The lack of logic many skeptics show in embracing the uncertainty and ignorance inherent in the science, but still claiming belief in AGW or some variant thereof, is apparent.

        In a comment below, Don Aitkin lists 8 issues that he has “learned — compared to September last year.” They are:

        “1. that pumping out more carbon dioxide is very likely to raise the general temperature;
        2. that we don’t know what effects this will have other than through modelling;
        3. that the models appear to be in their infancy;
        4. that ‘climate sensitivity’ is still unclear;
        5. that we know much less than we would like about clouds;
        6. that we may really underestimate the role of the sun in all this;
        7. that whether or not the seas are rising, and whether or not the rate of rising is increasing, are not clear from the observations;
        8. that, with respect to pretty well everything in this giant and difficult field, the best answer at the moment is ‘we don’t know’.”

        I do not get the logic of point 1, given all the caveats in points 2 through 8. To restate his points: What we know is based on models, models are in their infancy, climate sensitivity is unclear, we know little about clouds, we may underestimate the influence of the sun, the best answer is ‘we don’t know;’ therefore pumping out more carbon dioxide is very likely to raise the general temperature.


        I have great doubts that the temperature records of the last 50 years are accurate to within tenths of a degree per year; I have even greater doubts regarding the accuracy of paleo climate records; I have even greater doubt about the accuracy of any global average temperature for those time periods purporting to include atmospheric, land and ocean temperatures. So do I say with reasonable certainty that the global average temperature has increased as x rate over the last 10, 50, 100 years? Nope. Am I ashamed to admit it? Nope. Am I impressed by the intellectual superiority of those exhibiting such confidence on such matters because some of them label themselves scientists? Not in the slightest.

        In the recent past, some scientists were discussing with all seriousness whether a certain particle accelerator could cause an event that would end the universe. Hubris is not new to science, or unique to the climate debate.

        If you ask me if I think the Earth has been warming since the last ice age, I would say sure. Lots of areas formerly covered in ice, aren’t any more. If you ask me whether the planet has been warming since 1970, I would say, at times it has seemed to be so, from my personal experience and the reported temperatures from other land areas. But I would not be shocked if some day, when properly accurate measurements are taken of all the areas involved, we were to learn that the rise was only apparent, and the actual “global average temperature” (assuming there ever is a way to measure it at all) may have been static or declining during that period. I am agnostic either way.

        Now I may be wrong, but at least I am logical in my thinking.

      • Oh dear! There I was trying to be concise, and all I did was raise doubt.

        My point 1 was simply an acceptance of radiative transfer in principle, which I learned here. If I had put ‘other things being equal’ at the end of point 1, perhaps Gary M might not have been piqued. That more CO2 is likely to lead to more heat does not seem to be seriously disputed. What is disputed is the extent to which this is so, climate sensitivity, aerosols, other things, and so on. And whether more heat is good for us, depending on where we live, and so on. And does it matter anyway. I’m sorry that my points 2 to 8 seem to have been vitiated by the way I expressed point 1.

        I agree with the rest of his post.

      • Adding “all other things being equal” to your point 1 would have left me nothing with which to disagree in your comment. Where would be the fun in that? :-)

      • I accept the radiative transfer/greenhouse effect ’cause Mythbusters tells me so.

        (How’s that for an appeal to authority?)

  9. Compared to the situation about one year ago, when I started to actively follow this site, I know really much more about many issues of climate and climate change. Participating in the discussion on this site has been an essential factor in this process and it has given motivation for learning from other sources. I have learned also much both on the climate system and on the argumentation used on both sides of the debate.

    My basic attitudes haven’t changed as much. I did trust that the basics of the climate science are correct, and I continue to have that view. I had my doubt’s on many details, and so I have now as well. The details are now more specific, but the overall picture remains. I knew more about WG3, which is closer to my own field of research. On that I haven’t learned much. The same is true also on issues in the area of WG2.

    I have great trust in the scientific process, when given enough time, but I have been cynical enough on the actual work of individual scientists for long to be little moved by the revelations of climate gate.

  10. I used to be a member of the Tea Party, and as such, like the majority of my Tea Party brethren, I thought that I knew a great deal about climate issues and needed to learn nothing else to inform my viewpoint before reaching any hard=and=fast conclusions about climate change.

    After starting to read Climate Etc., I realized there are actually one or two things about climate science that would be helpful for me to learn more about before making up my mind. Because of that, I felt compelled to quit the Tea Party

    I haven’t yet decided whether to join Greenpeace of the World Wildlife Federation, but the applications are on my table, and the more I read Climate Etc., the closer I get to filling them out and sending them off.

    • Yeah, and I used to be a flaming tree hugger. I will send you my little official tin foil hats, secret decoder rings, and merit badges I got from WWF and Greenpeace. It will give you a good start in the movement.

    • What a surprise. Joshua’s too smart to learn anything.

    • Joshua, Will all due respect, this kind of reactionary thinking is questionable. It goes something like this: I’ve identified a group of people I don’t like (in your case the Tea Party) and therefore the polar opposite of “these people” must be right and deserve support. Anyway good luck learning more about climate science.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘My enemies enemy is my friend’ has not proven to be a reliable substitute for clear strategic thinking. History is full of examples, and I fear that we may see it paly out once again in Libya.

    • Joshua- join ‘Medicines sans Frontiers’ or another like organisation that truly does good

    • When you went from Tea Party to WWF, for one brief moment you were in a zone of rationality. Maybe for a day, an hour or even a nanosecond. But however long it lasted, try to reconstruct that transition and freeze that moment when it comes again.

    • There is no way you were ever a Tea party member. You expect us to believe you stand there, undecided whether to choose libertarianism or totalitarianism? Do you flip a coin on Sunday mornings and say “Heads, I’ll go to church, tails, I’ll kill my neighbor”? You chose the Dark Side along time ago. Man up and admit it.

  11. Concerned Citizen

    Above, I forgot to note that the reasoned voices of Fred Moolton and Steve Mosher have tempered my skepticism much more than the shrillness of THE TEAM and their supporters.

  12. This blog has been invaluable in terms of understanding the depth of the debate, both scientific and policy/political. Twelve years ago I started a listserv, now a Yahoo! group, specifically to capture both sides of the debate. This blog has done that too, only several hundredfold better.

    I have had one epiphany of sorts, finding that the zero feedback sensitivity issue is far more complex and confused than I imagined.

  13. What I have had confirmed completely, is that there is no physics, and no science that supports the hoax of CAGW, None, zero, zilch, nada. Everything which it is claimed supports CAGW, is just smoke and mirrors.

    • Yours is a fascinating position Jim. It is one thing to claim that arguments are wrong but quite another to claim that they do not exist. As a logician I look at this blog and see a large number of detailed scientific arguments. Your position seems to be that they are not really there, or something. I frankly do not understand this.

      • Interpret it this way, David. ‘The hoax of CAGW’ is more likely ‘Mild and beneficial warming attributable to man’. Then you see that his ‘smoke and mirrors’ are those detailed scientific arguments.

      • Ah Kim. There are indeed a lot of mirrors in this game. Evidence against becomes evidence for, and vice versa. All contradictions are consistent, as it were. Mirrors never change no matter what they show.

        Speaking of mirrors, what makes “Through the Looking-Glass” so much fun is that Carroll was a logician (Wojick said modestly).

        Time is not running out, it is running in.

      • Leonard Weinstein

        I once had a blog posted on the Air Vent (in my name) where I tried to list the main stated supporting claims for CAGW (or even significant AGW). You can find it and other ones by me at tav by entering my name at that site. I could not find a single one that could be clearly supported. There were a few that were undetermined enough to not be falsified (e.g., sensitivity), but were also not demonstrated valid either. Most claims were clearly falsified (e.g., the atmospheric hot spot, continuing temp rise in recent times, ocean heating in recent times, more storms, etc.). My claim choices were not necessarily the best, but I would ask you to list supporting claims that have been reasonably proven, and that make a supportable hypothesis. Please do not use the fact there has been a small amount of warming or increase of CO2 or that theory says CO2 will cause heating, since heating has occurred before, and feedback from water vapor may be negative, so these prove nothing by themselves.

      • Nice trick Leonard. In the last sentence you rule out the principle arguments, from which it would indeed follow that there are no principle arguments. But you can’t legitimately do that in a debate. The basic physics supporting AGW and CAGW is quite clear, so clear that you alluded to it.

        To put it another way, the fact that there are strong counter arguments does not mean there are no arguments, quite the contrary. In logic this is the distinction between soundness and validity, both of which are technical terms. Technically, there are valid arguments for CAGW, contrary to Jim’s apparent claim. Whether they are sound or not is the issue.

        What makes it all so hairy is that many of these are inductive arguments. This is what makes the activity of science interesting. It is a big fight. Claiming the other side has no case is a losing argument, for either side.

      • One thing from control systems theory the people need to be absolutely clear about is that as feedback gain approaches negative infinity, climate sensitivity approaches zero. Under no circumstances can negative feedback cause climate sensitivity to be negative, and under no plausible scenario can climate sensitivity be essentially zero. It can be small enough to not be a problem, but it can’t be close to zero or negative.

        This seems to be one of the basic facts of feedback missed by lots of people.

      • P.E.

        “One thing from control systems theory the people need to be absolutely clear about is that as feedback gain approaches negative infinity, climate sensitivity approaches zero.”

        Also, a very important point that should be made clear is that ‘feedback gain’ is never ‘negative’!

        I think the word many may have missed was ‘attenuation’ and not ‘gain’. “Infinity” can be assumed to be unusually large, or unusually small, so can also be confusing.

        From control systems theory, ‘negative feedback’ implies that ‘all energy has left the system’ and was absorbed by another ‘system’s attractor’, leaving no energy within the ‘system under observation’. We ‘obviously’ need to ‘observe’ many systems to follow the energy as it becomes attracted ‘between’ different systems in the discipline of climate science.

        IMHO this is why ‘cloud feedback’, water vapour and radiative theory don’t ‘marry up’!

        “Under no circumstances can negative feedback cause climate sensitivity to be negative, and under no plausible scenario can climate sensitivity be essentially zero. It can be small enough to not be a problem, but it can’t be close to zero or negative.”

        I disagree! Attraction of energy into another system can attenuate the original signal and provide a ‘drain’ to the original energy that’s tantamount to an ‘attenuation’ of the ‘original system’s’ ‘mean energy’.

        Best regards, Ray Dart.

      • David, you write “It is one thing to claim that arguments are wrong but quite another to claim that they do not exist”

        I have not stated my position clearly. Of course the arguments exist. What does NOT exist is any physics, any science, to support those arguments. All the so-called science is hypothetical, and there is no attempt to relate these hypothetical estimates to actual data. I am all for people having way out ideas in physics, but as soon as possible one must relate these ideas to hard, observed data. The proponents of CAGW never seem to do this, and the reason is, I am sure, that the observed data shows that CAGW is wrong. There is no CO2 signal in the world temperature/time graph.

      • Well, Jim, there might be such a signal. We just haven’t found it yet, probably because it is so small.

      • I pretty much agree Jim, but this is called a lack of empirical evidence, not a lack of physics or science. The latter terms usually refer to the theory side, which is where the CAGW arguments reside.

      • But the greenhouse theory isn’t the entirety of the theory. I think that’s where a lot of people get confused. The greenhouse theory leaves out a lot of transport phenomena. A half of a theory gets you to perpetual motion. Yeah, there are physics, and some of that is pretty sound. It’s just that the weak links determine the strength of a chain, not the strong ones.

      • David you write “not a lack of physics or science. ”

        I am saying precisely that. The arguments put forward to support CAGW have no physics, no science to support them. There is a whole series of non-validated models, and all sorts of assumptions which have not been, and cannot be, supported. In addition, there is no observed data to support the numbers which these estimations produce.

      • Do you consider that AGW has climbed the ladder to “theory” status? The steps are: speculation, hypothesis, theory, law.
        Check the definitions. A theory needs a lot more than AGW has. It must have firm empirical grounding, be comprehensive, coherent with many if not all intersecting “laws” and strongly supported theories, etc.

        IMO, it hasn’t even met the requirements for a hypothesis: falsifiable statements, with proposed and feasible procedures for such testing.

        So it remains a “speculation”, with many serious roadblocks to achieving coherence, much less full hypothesis status.

      • Jim,

        So you must be one of those ‘skydragons’? Those who say there is no GH effect and so CO2 has no effect on temperature.

        I think Judith may be hoping to change your mind if there is still time.

      • Steven Mosher

        lost cause, he is. There are lost causes on both sides

      • tempterrain, you write “Those who say there is no GH effect and so CO2 has no effect on temperature.”

        Not exactly. CO2 has an effect of warming world temperatures, but the effect is so small that it cannot be detected against the background noise of natural variation. So AGW is real. That is why I always use CAGW, which is a hoax.

        If Judith wants to change my mind, then this will not happen by any hypothetical considerations, such as Andy Lacis’ claim that you can solve the GHE by ONLY looking at radiative effects. Someone needs to provide some hard, measured data showing that a CO2 signal (climate sensitivity) exists, and measuring it’s magnitude from purely observed data.

      • Yet Jim says he believes in something that he says can’t be detected and hasn’t been observed….

      • Michael writes “Yet Jim says he believes in something that he says can’t be detected and hasn’t been observed….”

        What is wrong with that? I also believe that the sun’s magnetic field is the major cause of climate change on earth. How it does it, I dont think we really know. I have no difficulty believing in something that exists but cannot be detected.

        What I object to is people trying to bring down my standard of living by limiting the use of fossil fuels, on the basis of a hoax that has no physics to support it, and no hard evidence either.

      • Jim,

        You graduated in ’46? That must make you in your mid 80’s now. Look, don’t worry, you’ll not be personally affected by AGW. And so why should you have to pay carbon taxes when it is clearly someone else’s problem?

      • tempterrain writes “And so why should you have to pay carbon taxes when it is clearly someone else’s problem?”

        Our Ontario government has $16 billion dollars of my taxpayer money, which they are using to build a whole bunch of useless wind turbines. As a result my hydro (electricity) bills are going up far faster than the cost of living, and the rate of rise of my pension. For $2 billion they could clean up our coal fired generating stations, so all that burning coal dumps into the atmosphere is wonderful CO2. So, I do, indeed, have a stake in CAGW.

  14. When Judith Curry started this blog she wrote: “My engagement in the blogosphere over the past several years have convinced me that the blogosphere has untapped potential for educating the public and for enabling large-scale collective intelligence to address the scientific and policy challenges associated with climate change.”

    I was very skeptical when she wrote this, but I have learned she was right. Climate, Etc. is a great site for learning about climate change issues. Also, the contributions and comments from various knowledgable people from various domains have been, to a surprising degree, outstanding and unbiased.

  15. I found this quote in the book, “A Revolution in the Earth Sciences” by A. Hallam
    “We only see what we know”
    This is a good point to go back and read “Epistemology of Disagreement” and then say what you really believe. It may not be different, but it may be wrong.
    It is very hard to change anyone’s mind, once it is made up. We jump on or cherry pick or decide what something means in a way to support what we already know to be right. I am guilty of this, but I do believe myself to be right.
    There is a huge amount of information in the Climate Etc. Threads and a treasure of links to opinions and facts and data.
    I try to read it every day. I formed my basic opinion when I heard a presentation about Ewing and Donn’s climate theory and my theory evolved since then.
    I believe too much faith is placed in the Climate Models. I believe that the future of climate is best forecast by the history of climate. The past ten thousand years has had an unprecedented stability in a narrow range around the modern average. There is powerful negative feedback that has caused this and this powerful negative feedback is missing from consensus climate theory and models. Climate is stable! Climate Theory and Models are Unstable. There is a problem here.
    Leap seconds have been added less and less. That does mean that the oceans are dropping and not rising. I would like to see if a thread on this would change any minds.

    • Climate is not stable at a single temperature. Climate is stable in a cycle. It has to get warmer and then cooler and this has to repeat. It always gets cooler after it gets warmer. It always gets warmer after it gets cooler. Look at the history of the past ten thousand years. A fraction of a trace of CO2 cannot change this stable cycle.

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with the quote “We only see what we know”. I believe that the reason there is so much attributed to CO2 regarding AGW due to GHG’s is that it is likely the easiest thing to model. Persistent GHG’s are relatively evenly distributed, the radiation physics are pretty elementary so you can plug in parameters and make a pretty good estimate of how much to expect warming with your 500 Km. It’s points in the same direction as the recent data but it does not give you the magnitude you are looking for so you go back to your old standby GHG model, throw in transient GHG’s (water vapor) to see how the number comes out and you can tweak it to come up with a sensitivity so the magnitude matches as well and decide that you are master of the system until someone asks you what happens if the water vapor turns into clouds. Not only are clouds not easily modeled by GCM’s due to their much smaller spacial resolution than grid cells, from recent discussions on this blog, scientists studying clouds can’t even agree if they warm or cool the global system let along determine how to measure the effect.

  16. Steven Schuman

    I started out as a firm believer in CAGW. As was the case with others, Real Climate disabused me of that notion. As an emotional response, I felt betrayed and cherry picked my way to the other side. But thanks to Judith, I am in the blissful of state of “I don’t think anyone really knows.” As Krishnamurti once said, “In a mind that agrees or disagrees, no learning is possible.”

    • I started out as a firm believer in CAGW.

      You firmly believed in a denier straw man argument? How did that come about, exactly?

      But thanks to Judith, I am in the blissful of state of “I don’t think anyone really knows.”

      Another sadly common quirk on this site is those that confuse their own ignorance — blissful as in this case, or otherwise — with the ignorance of others.

    • Steven Schuman,

      I think we’ve heard this sort of thing many times before! I was a firm believer until : I looked closely at the evidence, or I read some leaked emails, or I realised that CO2 was only a trace gas at 0.03% of the atmosphere, or discovered that 95% of the GHE was caused by water vapour, or I read that the Vikings cultivated grapes in Greenland during the MWP etc etc

      Of course when these claimants asked to provide some tangible evidence of a previous view, some previous postings etc there doesn’t seem to be any.

      Are you any different?

      • Tt, you have often made that point. But I think you might be overlooking the fact that it is only after people start their investigation that they feel they are in a position to comment. And since the the CAGW view is the orthodox view, and the skeptical view is somewhat confined to blogs such as these, there is nothing to debate against until the process invesitgating the evidence has taken place. That draws you to the blogs where you might feel informed enough and motivated enough to comment. That was the case for me in any event.

  17. what I find interesting is the number of people in “The Team” who sit on their own blogs sniping as often as they can about this blog. I find it enlightening of the mind-sets of these people who view themselves as entrenched and embattled, fighting a righteous fight against barbarians.

    For me, it has opened my eyes to alternative views of “the science” and see where the most significant problems are. I still believe that “The Team” are arrogant and close-minded propagandists – everything that Connolley writes on the topic reveals this clearly. However, I am more prepared to accept the temperature record than I used to be, as long as it covers the sea and as long as it enables analysis of where the warming/cooling is happening, as a result of the debates on this site mostly.

    However, one aspect is not covered well enough:- even on the land surface, there are plenty of places experiencing cooling. This is important for policy-making but all too often we just hear blanket statements that the world is warming and we need to do something.

    I suspect that the UK will see cooling and it will be difficult for any government to tell the people to stop emitting GHGs in order for the country to warm…since it goes against the flow of the propaganda.

    • “what I find interesting is the number of people in “The Team” who sit on their own blogs sniping as often as they can about this blog.”

      “The Team” like “CAGW” is a manufactured straw man, a noun without a referent. If you are referring to people who understand climate science, or have a simple common sense attitude of respect for climate science, we aren’t really a community, let alone a “Team,” but obviously we are going to find many LOLs among the Denizens here.

      It is interesting to me, although not, I suppose, really surprising, that the most vicious and hateful anti-science deniers are incredibly thin-skinned as regards any critical examination of themselves or their idols. They really do seem to think that criticism should be a one-way mirror in which they accuse others but have no accountability themselves.

      • Robert, What and who are you talking about? You shouldn’t worry about the “deniers.” This is just rhetoric and what you are saying is odd. It can be paraphrased as “The deniers (who aren’t that influential) are incredibly thin skinned, therefore criticisms of the team (who are very influential) are unjustified.” Influence and power should invite a higher level of scrutiny.

      • It can be paraphrased as “The deniers (who aren’t that influential) are incredibly thin skinned, therefore criticisms of the team (who are very influential) are unjustified.”

        No, it can’t, but thanks for playing anyway. ;)

        Influence and power should invite a higher level of scrutiny.

        What’s good for the goose is good for the gander; people attacking the expertise, the accuracy, and the honesty of others must, to have any credibility, be honest, well-informed, and accurate. They ought to be critically evaluated to see if they exhibit these qualities, and if they don’t — and most “skeptics” don’t — then their critique is useful only for its entertainment value.

      • mmm…a manufactured strawman..

        so you mean that Grant Foster, Josh Halpern, Gavin Shmidt and William Connolley are not obsessed with this blog, alongside other folk such as Willard, neven and the policywonk and that Australian guy whose name I cannot seem to mrecall? None of their climate posts for the last year have focussed on anything other than what is happening here or on WUWT

        Get real.

      • so you mean that Grant Foster, Josh Halpern, Gavin Shmidt and William Connolley are not obsessed with this blog,

        What an extraordinary claim. I await your extraordinary evidence for their “obsession.” :)

      • > None of their climate posts for the last year have focussed on anything other than what is happening here or on WUWT.

        Wanna bet?

        Here’s one:

        I give you 108 more and you buy me a Kindle with no ads and two Kindle books.


      • The “team’ actually named themselves,

    • “………..fighting a righteous fight against barbarians.”

      Look, we’ve nothing against Barbarians. Its the “Bible-thumping, cigarette -smoking, Republican, knuckle-dragging deniers, who dispute even the possibility of a so-called greenhouse effect. ” who cause us most concern.

      Those are Don’s words, not mine, incidentally. Though I might add the terms: Tea Party supporting, ultra right wing, close minded, libertarian, and dim wit

      to the list.

  18. Fred Moolten (2011/10/20 at 2:02 pm) wrote: “I have learned more about some very specific scientific concepts – the recent ones include aliasing, […]”

    Aliasing’s not a scientific concept, but rather mathematical.

    Earth’s polar & hemispheric sampling intensity varies DRAMATICALLY with season and Earth is asymmetric.

    Earth’s sampling intensity also varies DRAMATICALLY with the day and the day varies DRAMATICALLY with the year.

    Sink anomaly-think:

    Vaughan, P.L. (2011). Shifting Sun-Earth-Moon Harmonies, Beats, & Biases.

    I do data exploration, not statistical inference, so there aren’t any assumptions. I regularly comment at WUWT & Climate Etc. about patently untenable assumptions that underpin mainstream “reasoning”. In the future when the shifting spatiotemporal framework is fully appreciated & understood, meaningful inference will be feasible, but NOT before.

    I’m now asking point-blank:

    Dr. Judith Curry – & Others:
    Do you understand?

    If not, please be specific and I will take comments into consideration over the years as I struggle to find free time (I work a lot) to simplify for audiences with differing backgrounds.

    I will respect any choices from forum participants to not answer the blunt question. Lack of answer is itself informative about cross-disciplinary communication challenges and/or the time-crunches that participants are experiencing (causing delays we all endure).

    For those who don’t know anything about “thermal wind“, you may need to review my comments here [ ] to understand. The animations won’t run on Internet Explorer, but they run fine on Mozilla Firefox.

    “The strong, high altitude wind centers indicate the location of the Jet Stream!” — [ ]

    More animations are listed here:


  19. My position has actually swung more to the center over the past two years. My biases against the political elements associated with the consensus side predisposed me to be extremely skeptical. The behavior of certain “rockstars” of the consensus side did nothing to reduce the distrust. This is significant in that my situation is likely similar to that of most policy makers: I’m not a scientist, but someone who will have to depend on scientists for information on what’s happening, Credibility is everything.

    Instead, writings by Dr. Curry and Lucia Liljegren have served to moderate my opinions. Lucia’s exposition on the anomaly method started the ball rolling and posts on this site have given me a much more nuanced appreciation of the science and those involved with it. Denizens like Pekka and Fred have helped as well. The short story is that I have a better appreciation of the quality (and shortcomings) of the science than when I started, such that I would place myself in the lukewarmer category. My opinion of the politics (and political operatives) remain unchanged.

  20. I’ve learnt that many ‘denizens’ are more concerned with hating “The Team” than with understanding science.

    And been further convinced that blogs are not the way to change anyone’s mind about anything. Confirmation bias rules!

    • I agree with this.

      It’s rare to change someone’s mind once they’ve expressed an opinion. If you think it’s worthwhile to contest a faulty argument, I think you have to see your primary audience as those observing the exchange who have not committed themselves.

    • Nawagadj….. Hating “The Team” is an acquired taste. And, I doubt if many actually work up to a passion like hatred. More, I suspect, it’s disdain and amusement.

      Like many, I started with RC. The authority. I actually suffered through one of Connolly’s papers “proving” that, in the 1970’s all “real” climate scientists (if there were such animals back then…. I think they were called oceanographers and atmospheric scientists) believed in warming and that the Time and Newsweek cover stories on “The Coming Ice Age” was solely a media crock of lies.

      I really tried at RC. I didn’t know the science. I worked to learn.

      It took little more than a month before my curiousity edged to wariness, as I had my questions clipped and the responses became more pompous and patronizing.

      Climate Audit blew me away (although I understood little of the science and mathematics). This was real, unadorned. People learning, teaching, sharing. Then Lucia and Jeff Id and WUWT and, finally, Climate Etc, as well. (Beyond RC, I’ve read Climate Progress and Deep Climate and, always, there is the same axing of comments and undercurrent of political agenda and damn the science. There’s no real there, only propaganda, twisted logic — and ridicule, their longest suit. It’s quite sad, really.)

      I chuckled at Gavin’s “communications award” from AGU. I blushed for him and, yet, I know that Gavin hasn’t a thought in his pretty little head that, on any level, this award is more inappropriate than anything I can imagine.

      Not hatred for The Team, I think. Some disdain, some amusement and, on my part, a lot of sadness for their lost lives. ….Lady in Red

      • Not hatred for The Team, I think.

        If you think that, you haven’t got a lot of insight into the workings of your own pretty little head.

        Hope you find a way to let go of your hatred, and face the reality of the science without bitterness and contempt. :)

  21. Joachim Seifert

    Change of mind…not. But better: I have learned (1) keeping up-to-date with the freshest climate topics of the day (not falling behind), (2) observing the scientific confusion of participants (each trying to contribute his best thought – but, since most of it is based on IPCC-assumptions – does explain climate change only on the surface and does not get deep enough, resulting in uncertainties and false warming predictions since 2000 and (3) seeing my own views of having reached the real foundation of climate science reinforced….

  22. Although this is my first post here, I have been reading this blog since the beginning. I read it purely for Dr. Curry’s incisive and enlightening analysis of the issues. As such, I applaud Dr. Curry for literally standing up in a potentially hostile environment and stating the most neglected fact of all: The uncertainties are high. Her courageous action is something that has been severely lacking in this climate debate. I admire that.

    I will get to my views in a moment but first I would like to add that unfortunately, I read the comments to the posts in here strictly for entertainment. The incessant unproductive and pedantic banter that goes on in the comments is like watching a sitcom. The persons responsible shall go unnamed but they know who they are. In their posting eagerness they fail to notice that the more they post the better their sitcom characters’ personalities get defined – hilarious.

    I find there are just a handful of people whose comments merit reading because they add something to the topic posted. All the rest are just pure human situation entertainment.

    Now to my view; and I will not debate it. I find no reason to engage in the banter: I was a believer for a number of years but finally decided not to take anyone’s word for it and do my own research. This came about because of the many articles, and presentations I read that seemed to be pushing an agenda, rather than the science.

    Having followed this AGW issue for a number of years I have in that span of time been able to form my own layman’s opinion on the subject. As an avid astronomer / astrophotographer I can use an analogy from that field to state my view.

    In essence, I see the problem as one of signal to noise ratio (S/N). Just by reading the research, and the conversations that ensue there from, it seems that the approaches to solving this problem are heavily weighted towards statistical analysis, which is to say, the results are all probabilistic at best. This to me points directly at a S/N problem. In that vein it seems that the problem can be narrowed down to three possibilities: The AGW Signal is very small, the Noise is very large, or both.

    Solving the puzzle then seems to rest on both amplifying the signal and reducing the noise; everything else becomes an exercise in futility. If both camps could agree on just this one issue, maybe we could all move forward much more diligently, while restraining ourselves from jumping to the solution stage without first quantifying the magnitude of the problem.

    In keeping with the astrophotography / astronomy analogy I can say that from my limited point of view the state of climate science seems akin to the state of astronomy as it was before the invention of the telescope. The telescope finally amplified the signal, but after that it took a long, long time for astrophotography, interferometers, computers and digital sensors to come around and finally cut through the noise…..

    One last thing if I may: I have also noticed that the climate debate seems to be dominated by Physics. Physicists tend to understandably look at everything through a very narrow telescope. We might not want to forget that as far as we can now prove, we exist in a uniquely biological planet and so we discount biological processes as having the potential for great influence on the climate at our own peril. We should maybe consider a broader interdisciplinary approach to solving the problem. After all, we humans are indeed, in the strictest sense, a biological influence on our world.



    • John Carpenter

      “I read the comments to the posts in here strictly for entertainment. The incessant unproductive and pedantic banter that goes on in the comments is like watching a sitcom. The persons responsible shall go unnamed but they know who they are. In their posting eagerness they fail to notice that the more they post the better their sitcom characters’ personalities get defined – hilarious.

      I find there are just a handful of people whose comments merit reading because they add something to the topic posted. All the rest are just pure human situation entertainment.”

      Well said Jose… I feel the same, though, I have entered the ‘fray’ from time to time for some ‘interactive’ fun.

    • ian (not the ash)

      A wonderful display of exquisite photographs Jose!

  23. I can’t say you have changed my mind . . . yet. I don’t know if you lump me in with the sky dragons for my view that CO2 absorption is better modelled hyperbolically than logarithmically. I have become more carefull in my analysis though. That doesn’t show yet because that takes time and I have a full time job. I do appreciate the civility that you have imposed on the debate.

    One change over the year is my contributions here are diminishing. I read your initial stuff quite a lot, but I usually only scan the comments now. As with WUWT, the signal to noise ratio has gotten unfavourable.



  24. MOst important thing I’ve leaned is I’m even dumber than I thought. Since I can’t fathom much of the science, I have to go at this in rather oblique ways. As a poker player, I’ve always had decent people reading skills and sound all around judgement. I came to this blog as a pretty committed skeptic mostly in reaction to climategate. It just became obvious to me that these folks were not to be trusted. And once I got a grasp of the shenanigans (always loved that word) that went on with Mann’s Hockey Stick, along with my increasing understanding of the fraudulent nature of the IPCC, my skepticism hardened.

    I also have to add that following the long range weather forecasts of Joe Bastardi and Joe D’Aleo has given me a deep appreciation of their amazing grasp of climate dynamics, especially in comparison with most climate scientists, They don’t have all the answers of course, but season after season they beat the establishment climate modelers like rented mules. When I read that Jim Hansen has yet again predicted another of his super el ninos, I now understand how little he truly knows. How little they all know. It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic…

    But I started out humbly. I also have to say that after spending a year or so on J.C.’s blog, it’s also become evident to me that there’s more to the AGW case than I would have suspected. All these folks can’t be deluded, or in the tank, or fools. So in that regard I’ve come to appreciate that there really is (or really must be since I don’t understand much of it), a legitimate debate…even while it remains more than obvious that the uncertainties have been vastly underplayed by the warmist side.

    The trouble is, most of them are such bad actors. Arrogant, angry, defensive. They make it very hard to trust anything they’re saying. It’s like that old joke about lawyers. How can you tell when a climate scientists is lying to you? His lips are moving.

  25. I have been very comfortable with saying: “I don’t know.” A career in part at loggerheads with understanding “turbulence and turbulent flow” has sensitized me to be aware of the many places where these phenomena occur. Climate science seems to be rift with issues of turbulence and turbulent flow. In my daily activities and travels I have observed instances where turbulence is a factor. What Climate Etc. has provided is a wellspring of new areas to observe turbulence and its handling. Many early on contributors like Nullius in Verba, Tomas Milanovic and VS on Bart Verheegen’s blog awakened my interest in climate science and provided a framework to begin learning about climate science. Subsequent solar and earth scientists have stimulated me to read more and think through what I have recently heard. I too have evolved yet I still don’t know; only I know in greater detail what I don’t know. I am content with that for now.

  26. In the 1980s, I was a firm AGW believer, and a vocal one at that. My concern about AGW caused me to study the subject to find those magic information nuggets that I could use to convince others. Gradually, however, my research uncovered weak spots in the case for AGW. My background primarily centered around instrumentation, data acquisition, and data analysis. I found discussions about the assumed quality of our climate temperature record particularly disturbing. The folks using the temperature data did not seem to understand how difficult it is to obtain reliable and accurate temperature data. Once I saw tree ring and ice core temperature records as showing precision and accuracy to tenths of a degree, I was shifted fully into the skeptic mode.
    Climate Etc. has reinforced that concern about overconfidence in temperature record accuracy. This web site has actually added another concern for me. That is the handling of the data that has been collected: losing raw data files, modifying data values based upon the assumption that individual values must track their neighbors, and generic modification of individual records for time of measurement, etc. I had assumed in the past that standard practices for instrumentation data collection, handling, and analysis were being employed. I was disappointed to find out I was wrong.

  27. Michael Larkin

    What have I learnt? Not being a technical expert, I have to make judgements at one place removed. If one group says X and another says not-X in highly technical matters, I prefer it when a number of Xers and non-Xers can openly discuss their points of view.

    From that, I can sometimes infer what Xers and non-Xers agree on, and that is likely to be reliable. Yes, consensus is important for the non-specialist, but only when it has arisen from open, uncensored debate, which is what goes on at Climate Etc.

    Oversimplified explanations, sometimes little more than soundbites, don’t satisfy. I’m as capable as the technically aware of engaging in logical discourse; only my lack of their training prevents me from direct engagement with them. Now and then, often serendipitously, someone says something in plain English in such a way that I can see what the argument is about and apply my logical abilities.

    Willis Eschenbach is by far the best “translator” in the climate debate, but most of his efforts are concentrated over at WUWT. Besides being technically aware, he happens to be an exceedingly good writer, and the orthodox might be surprised that he sometimes debunks common contrarian misconceptions. Yes, he can also be snarky, but I can easily forgive him that.

    One tiny step at a time, I am getting an education in climate science. My trouble is, I can’t simply accept anything without understanding it. I know when I don’t know, and don’t mind acknowledging that I don’t know. I’ve learnt here more than elsewhere that sometimes people don’t realise they don’t know: their mental universe has to be filled with certainty, though they’ll sometimes kid themselves they are being suitably reserved in their judgements.

    People with a high technical awareness are no more immune to self-deception than anyone else, and they may string their thoughts together using tell-tale loaded words that betray their underlying faux certainty.

    Climate Etc is a place, more than any other, where I have learnt how to dissect what is going on in the climate debate: to see the underlying drives of the self-deluded on all sides. I like to have my world as filled with certainty as anyone else, and I do that by identifying what I am certain of through evidence or experience, and what I am certain I don’t know. Much of the latter (which is nearly everything) is stuff I’d like to know or at one time felt sure I actually did know. I think this place has increased my appreciation of what I don’t know. My sense is that I am not alone in this.

    This is, of course, anathema to the cocksure; I think this might be why in certain quarters, Judith is despised. More than the sense of certainty that an opposition projects, they fear the expression of uncertainty by the uncommitted. One can engage in combat with an opposition, but wrestling with the uncertain is as fruitless as trying to plat sawdust.

  28. I have learned that the scientific process; generally consists of;

    observation, postulate, design of falsifiable hypothesis, experimental design with positive and negative controls, experimental run, data analysis, statistical analysis, and finally conclusion as to the falsifiability of hypothesis.

    is not applied to climate science, especially with respect to reconstructions.
    The use of either thermometers or proxies are never tested.
    At no stage has anyone ever placed a group of thermometers in a field and then five years later ‘urbanized’ half of you green field.
    You never bother performing experiments which test your underlying postulates, instead you torture your data.
    You can present an homogenize data-set for temperature, knowing that one third has a trend in one direction and the rest go in another.
    In any other investigative field, this finding would be what kept people up at night.
    You have two independent measurements, Tmin and Tmax, these are real data sets.
    What do you do?
    Add them together and divide by two.
    Why do you do this? You do this because you do this. There is no scientific justification for converting a real kinetic/thermodynamic property of a system, Tmin&Tmax, into a non-kinetic/thermodynamic property, and then using in it as an input into thermodynamic calculations.

    You cannot get the concept of the difference between dog-shit and ice-cream; one scoop of dog-shit to two scoops of ice-cream is not dessert..

  29. I learned in this forum that in the climate debate it is necessary to separate three different topics.
    Firstly, the political issues that are always riding shotgun.
    Secondly, the underlying physical processes that are usually well known.
    Thirdly, the interpretation of a complex nonlinear system with all its uncertainties and interconnections, which are usually not known, but hotly debated.
    Since this blog is good at separating these issues, I came to a better understanding what “climate science” means compared to “physics”.
    Best regards

  30. Norm Kalmanovitch

    My approach to everything is to start from what I know with absolute certainty, speculate on what I believe to be true, and then verify my speculation with whatever information or data that I can acquire with the sole intent of either proving or disproving my conjecture and no matter how much effort and thought went into my speculation I am not attached to it in any way and have no qualms about discarding it if there is even the slightest evidence that it is wrong.
    My involvement in the climate change issue goes back to my 1970 Theoretical Geophysics class when we analyzed the “carbon solution” of the time which was to spread soot on the polar ice caps to stop the global cooling of the time. We went back to first principles that included the fact that a dark surface radiates energy and therefore cools at a greater rate than a light coloured surface, calculated the net amount of time that the sun would be at a low angle at which the radiated energy from a dark surface would be greater than the absorbed energy from the sun and came to the conclusion that the net effect of spreading soot on polar ice caps would have the opposite effect of what was intended.
    Five years later all by itself the global cooling ended and the Earth continued on its warming recovery from the Little Ice Age without any human intervention.
    It should be pointed out that when this global cooling started around 1942 CO2 emissions from fossil fuels were about 4gt/year and by the time global cooling ended in 1975 CO2 emissions from fossil fuels had increased to 20gt/year so I am absolutely certain that for at least 33 years CO2 emissions from fossil fuels were incapable of exceeding natural forces in causing catastropic global warming.
    In 1970 I also had a keen interest in the rapidly developing field of nuclear physics and quantum theory and while I was never involved to the level of making this my profession I developed a solid understanding of first principles driving these disciplines and can easily tell when speculative arguments are contrary to these first principles as has been the case for all arguments attempting to support the conjecture that increased atmospheric CO2 is first of all capable of “forcing” because this is an insulating effect and can’t force anything and secondly that in spite of well over 80% of its maximum insulating effect already being achieved the the remaining 20% is capable of achieving any more than a few tenths of a degree C of further effect.
    Somehow AGW has managed to circumvent proper adherence to the scientific method using “peer reviewed” literature as a substitute for properly established scientific fact, and has built speculation based on speculation which has filled this blog with reams of unfounded comments believed by those making these postings to be true.
    In this regard I have learned nothing about climate from this blog but have learned that there are many academics who are unaware that what they state is contrary to what the real world demonstrates to be true.

    • Just to correct one misconception:

      We went back to first principles that included the fact that a dark surface radiates energy and therefore cools at a greater rate than a light coloured surface,

      Snow and ice are almost black at the IR wavelengths of thermal radiation. Therefore that effect doesn’t exist at all or is at least really small.

  31. I had been willing to accept that “we” should gradually reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels, and had actually bought into our (provincial) Carbon Tax. Despite a feeling that in some quarters, the environmental movement had been co-opted by the political Left.

    After listening to Christopher Monckton, and then Dr. Andrew Weaver on local talk radio, It struck me that Weaver’s hysterical arm-waving pronouncements set off my BS detector, while Monckton, despite his style, gave me some facts to chew on. While following CA, Climategate happened. At that point, I began digging, discovering the involvement of Maurice Strong, and the massive PR campaigns funded by said Left. I’d spent some years working toward technology transfer from academia to industry, and was pretty jaded about “science policy” in this country at least, Canada.

    Thank you, Judith, for your hard work, and I thank the trolls for showing me that my BS alarm still works.

  32. Since my view of the AGW debate has been partly formed here, I am not sure it has had time to change. In general, it has evolved and become more nuanced. Here are some key points that I have picked up here:
    – Late 20C warming is not unprecedented in its rate.
    – Warming my not necessarily be bad. Just warming too fast that the biosphere can’t adapt is bad.
    – Agriculture is much more adaptable than I realized.
    – There is a distinction between adaption and mitigation (obvious I know but I hadn’t thought of it in those terms)
    – Climate Science is dominated by academia and has much to learn from mature disciplines that apply science. I have been fascinated by posts and comments by Richard Samaurez and David Young recently.

    While the weighing the voracity of arguments and exploring links on this blog has tended to make me more skeptical, an opinion from Chief Hydrologist gives me pause for thought:
    – It’s an experiment with our atmosphere that we are running here. We really don’t know what will happen and we have no experiment control to compare it to.

    Overall the case for measurable AGW is not clear (ie there probably is some but we can’t detect it in any meaningful way), but the case for CAGW is really weak. Over the last decade CO2 has increased and temperatures have not, and even if that doesn’t mean we have nothing to worry about, clearly it means there is no great panic. It certainly means there is no reason for panicky and misguided policy decisions such as the carbon tax in Australia.

    • Thanks for the fun malaprop: “While the weighing the voracity of arguments …” — the gluttony, excessive desire to eat, of arguments! Luvly. (Veracity is what you intended, of course.)
      Don’t be too impressed by the “experiment” analogy. The Mona Loa record shows no fluctuations in synch with variations in human emissions, so the preliminary results are that our emissions don’t impact CO2 concentrations. Something else is keeping the trend stable, despite anything we’ve done to date.

      • LOL – well spotted. That made me laugh….of course….veracity!!

        I am aware of the stability of the CO2 increase and the difficulty establishing what is the human component of the flux. Another thing I learnt here…CO2 levels have been going up by less than we have emitted meaning that some at least is being sequestered naturally. I’ll reiterate, the evidence at the moment does not support a case for alarm, but the extent of human activity doesn’t support complacency. I guess my precautionary view is to monitor closely.

  33. My views are constantly evolving, and they reflect many sources, of which CLimate etc is one. Current status:

    [1] – There is a great deal more uncertainty about the future of climate than we thought.
    [2] – Some scientists have probably tried to “game the system” by excluding the voices of others.
    [3] – There are legitimate skeptics, but there are also “deniers with an agenda” and that agenda is to stall the development of climate related policy.
    [4] – Sometimes the posts in this blog (as helpful as it is) deteriorate into a general mash of name calling, and repetition of “skeptic” memes – None of this is helpful. If we are going to be really skeptical, we have to be skeptical about the pronouncements and the peer reviewed article sof skeptics; we can not just restrict skepticism to the pronouncements of the “warmists”
    [5] – Finally, regardless of how climate change turns out this Century, we are going to have to develop some policy around it. The decision to do nothing is also a policy, and if the skeptics turn out to have been overly optimistic, then the future won’t thank us for procrastinating.

  34. I have greatly appreciated being able to read here detailed discussions of the various aspects of climate science that would otherwise not have been available to me in a single forum. And these discussions have brought about an improvement in my thinking about what really bothers me about AGW, and has since I began reading Still Waiting for Greenhouse so long ago. I have thought for a while that it would be interesting to have Dr. Curry re-open the question about why we are skeptics that began this blog. And so, with a tip o’ the hat to Fred and without further ado, here I go.
    1. I accept for now the basic scientific theories in isolation (at least until someone proves them wrong – thanks Isaac Asimov!). I am quite happy with the warming effect of CO2, radiative heat transfer, etc., but only in the controlled conditions of the laboratory. i DO doubt it when people make pronouncements about these effects when they are part of a chaotic system with an near-infinite number of moving parts.
    2. A greater awareness of the number of cyclic effects, known and unknown, only increased my skepticism. When I overlay the idea of the number of effects in #1 above onto cyclic effects that add and subtract at irregular intervals, I simply do not accept that climate scientists know nearly enough about the science to be taken entirely seriously.
    3. I am surprised by the small number of people who are actually climate scientists. This has magnified my fears about the power of gatekeepers and the behavior of the team has only reinforces that. What confident group of researchers needs a rapid response team (whose existence seems clear now after resignation of an editor with an apology to a person uninvolved with the paper in question)? There is an old quote often (yet not clearly) attributed to Stalin – “He who casts the votes has none of the power. He who counts the votes has all of the power.” Whoever said it, I think it remains apropos here.
    4. The behavior of AGW proponents has been and remains outlandishly hypocritical. I give props to people like Daryl Hannah and Ed Begley, Jr. because, although I think they’re loopy, they’re out there running their cars on old bananas or whatever and wiping with a single square of toilet paper. I contrast this with a group of people at the IPCC and their hangers-on who think nothing of wanting to tax or limit ordinary people on their air travel and then fly by the thousands to Bali or Copenhagen or you-name-it. Oh, but they’ve bought carbon credits. Puh-lease! Martin Luther finished this crap a long time ago. You can’t buy your way out of culpability for killing the planet. If you believe it, buy those allowances anyway, and in the meantime, please, stop killing the planet!
    5. The inability of the world’s governments to agree on a successor to Kyoto is hung up on how much money will be transferred to developing countries. Do I believe this would be the case if we were truly faced by the ever cited “existential threat?”
    6. Science has been perverted by the influence of money. I have no qualms making this statement. The reputation of medical researchers is highy tarnished, in my opinion, by the use of science-by-press-release (that never happens in climate science) and the use of relative risk studies to sell all manner of products. Exageration rules the day. Results must be suitably alarming to ensure public action. No more fish in the sea – that was one of my favorites. Now there won’t be any more coffee or chocolate in ten years (personally, I think that this one by Starbuck’s is going to have the greatest effect of all the AGW scaremongering tactics I’ve heard of) – talk about cranky people and pandemonium in the streets!.
    7. The models deeply disturb me, especually when we are asked to accept them because their timeframes are just too long as opposed to them actually matching up with anything in reality. My earliest degree was in engineering and so I find myself agreeing with the engineering contributors to the blog who bring some much needed practical concerns to the discussion. I am acutely aware that what comes out of models depends on what goes into them, and I reject the iidea of calling a model run a study. It’s misleading, and I think has come back to bite modelers because, in my opinion, model abuse has lead to the craziest (and often conflicting) claims of the AGW movement.
    8. I was grateful for the Feynman quote about what is known and unknown. I do not believe for one minute that climate science knows at this point even a fraction of what is it doesn’t know, nevermind what it doesn’t know it doesn’t know. I have enjoyed reading the history of science to the degree I have (hey, its a big topic!) and thus I make my prediction with a 95% degree of confidence that in 30 years, absolutely no-one outside of a tiny group will have even heard of Trenberth, Mann, or any other current scientists, and they will be mazed at the quaintness of our current understandings. Therefore,
    9. I fully support climate science and investing in the basic research that goes with it. The wheels come off, though, when the science is used (and I mean that in the worst possible meaning of the word ‘use’) by political ideologues as a pretext for social engineering and the redress of perceived wrongs. After the Edenhofer quote and Pachauri’s about his commitment to a whole bunch of things of which climate change is just a part, I have no doubt about the true purposes of the IPCC. I say disband it now.
    10. Finally, the discussion of uncertainty has been a godsend for me, since it is really the crux of the matter for me. To finally answer Fred’s question, this is the way in which my views have most evolved. It has helped me understand that this is the key to my own skepticism.

  35. Like most people, I’ve learned a lot of interesting facts, particularly regarding the psycho-sociology of climatology, but not much to give me any reason to change my assessment of the science or policy. The reason why, as has been noted by many others, is that that’s the nature of the uncertainty monster. When the evidence is fragmented and ambiguous, it becomes a Rorschach blot, and people will see in it what they want to see. And when certain parties bluster about the science being settled, it makes people even more suspicious.

    BEST has the potential to increase peoples’ trust in “the science”, but at the cost of acknowledging the uncertainty monster. I don’t see any easy and obvious way out of this situation. Better methods may give us better answers. Or maybe not. But when people pound their spoons on the table like we saw in the LaFramboise thread, it doesn’t instill confidence.

    So here we are. I don’t think anybody’s moving.

  36. My views have not changed. It is interesting to see the counter arguments, but I am on the convinced of AGW side. Man is adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a rate that is continuing to double every 33 years. CO2 levels are now higher than before the time Greenland glacier formed many millions of years ago. We have just had the warmest decade in the temperature record. Science can explain the connection between CO2 and this warming in terms of the energy balance that are easy to understand. I expect the temperature rise to follow the CO2 rise and continue to bend up unless fossil fuel burning somehow drops through depletion of reserves or carbon policies. To me this is all obvious, but I know that my certainty doesn’t play well on this site.

    • I find your straightforward honesty refreshing.
      Because you haven’t made any assertions either about the degree of warming you expect to follow the rise in CO2, or whether or not you think this will lead to negative consequences, I think you’ll find a great number of people here agreeing with you. Lindzen, Spencer, Pielke and Michaels certainly do.
      You’ve brought into the light why the labels ‘AGWer’ and ‘Sceptic’ are so meaningless. I agree with everything you wrote – and consider myself very sceptical.

      P.S. Perhaps on second reading, I would be able to share your expectation if you’d just said ‘rise’ instead of ‘bend up’….

      • Thanks. I think you won’t agree where I depart from Lindzen and Spencer, and to some degree our hostess, that my uncertainty range is 2-4 degrees for CO2 doubling, and I base this on the evidence I see. Yes, I am not going to assert anything about harmful effects, because I am uncertain of those. I am fairly sure some regions will win, some will lose, and I can only hope that not too many people are in the losing ones.

      • I see we also share an uncertainty about the nature of the consequences….
        I think this is where most of my scepticism lies – I’m not even sure I believe it’s possible to think of better and worse, winners and losers. I think it is part of the problem human beings always have when thinking about the future – we dichotomise and history tells us that our expectations about the future tend to be at right angles to what
        eventuates. I also think we forget that we’ve already experienced the best part of a degree Celsius and without thermometers would anybody have noticed?. My guess is that natural agricultural adaptation (for instance) is, and will continue to be, vastly more rapid than gradual changes in temperature and precipitation. So I’m optimistic…

        My range of CO2 sensitivity (1-2 and a half degrees) explains part of our different self-labelling, even though we overlap

      • The change from 2000 to 2100 is probably going to be in the range 3-5 C by my estimate, but this is a global average. The Arctic would change more. While the melting won’t be fast, the loss of polar glaciers will eventually cause enough sea-level rise to make it necessary to move whole coastal cities, so centuries from now those generations won’t be thankful for this brief Fossil Fuel Age. Also I wonder about ocean acidification that will affect the ocean ecology fairly quickly, and desertification and tropical diseases and pests spreading. This temperature rise is like moving several hundred kilometers further south, so I am more cautious than optimistic.

      • “The change from 2000 to 2100 is probably going to be in the range 3-5 C by my estimate, but this is a global average.”

        I think that’s probably a good estimate.

        “This temperature rise is like moving several hundred kilometers further south . . .”

        And if you live within a few hundred kilometers of the equator already? Not pretty.

      • Steven Mosher

        Seriously 3-5C?

        So, which impossible emissions scenario do you believe in A1F1 or A2?

        A2: +3.4°C (2.0°C to 5.4°C) and A1FI: +4.0°C (2.4°C to 6.4°C).

        maybe you have better insite into emissions, population, energy and climate sensitivity than everyone else..

        Start here?

        which curve and why?

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        The world is currently cooling as it has been for the past nine years. Solar cycle 24 is now mimicking the Dalton minimum which brought an extension of the little Ice Age with a low point around 1810 so all indications are that this cooling will last until at least 2032 at the end of solar cycle 25.
        There has been an overall 65 year cycle of warming and cooling as the Earth warmed from the Little Ice Age so it is quite likely that the warming will continue after 2032 as we return to the warming half of the cycle.
        If this warming is at the same rate as the warming that ended in 1998 then we will get about 0.6°C of warming to about 2065 and then cooling to 2100 so one prediction based on past temperature cycles is that the world will be about 0.69°C warmer byn 2100.
        The past 5000 years has been an overall, cooling trend with each of the successive warm periods not being as warm as the previous starting with the Minoan being warmer than the Roman which was warmer than the Medieval warm period. To date the current warm period is still cooler than the Medieval warm period so there mis always the possibility that the cooling that we are now experiencing is the end of the current warm period and the world will be significantly cooler by 2100 than it is today.
        What exactly is your rational for expecting the world to be 3°C to 5°C warmer than today? Surely it is not based on the silly predictions of fabriocated climate models!

      • maybe you have better insite into emissions, population, energy and climate sensitivity than everyone else. . .

        Well, I have enough “insite” not to spell it that way . . . and to know that 3-5C over the next hundred years is right in line with what real climate science affirms is likely.

        I imagine “everyone” refers to the people you share an echo chamber with. But the real world is much bigger than the pseudoskeptical club house.

      • Solar cycle 24 is now mimicking the Dalton minimum which brought an extension of the little Ice Age . . .


        Today’s sunspot number: 207

        Better check your facts a little better.

      • Steven Mosher, as I mentioned above, our emissions are doubling every 33 years. Carry this through to 2100 and you get 1000 ppm. Even with 900 ppm which is near the A2 business as usual scenario (the most likely one given realistic global politics), the high end of sensitivity gives 5 more degrees C between 2000 and 2100 alone. The 3 C lower end allows for less emission and/or sensitivity.

      • “Steven Mosher, as I mentioned above, our emissions are doubling every 33 years.”

        And then you have your carbon cycle feedbacks, an expected fall in aerosol cooling, the recovery of the ozone layer, the loss of Arctic albedo and so on.

        But we shouldn’t confuse Steve with too much science all at once.

      • The AR5 scenarios call for one called RCP8.5 that is equivalent to over 1300 ppm CO2 equivalent by 2100, but RCP6.0 is closer to the AR4’s A2 I was talking about. I think that RCP8.5 is more illustrative than a prediction, but is regarded as possible when methane is included. It was chosen as the 90th percentile from a range of predictions submitted to IPCC.

      • “The change from 2000 to 2100 is probably going to be in the range 3-5 C by my estimate, but this is a global average. The Arctic would change more.”
        What is average temperature of arctic now, and how much warmer will it get?
        Will temperatures in daytime [summer] get warmer by much or do think the night time [winter] temperature will rise higher. Or will somewhat even rise in both summer and winter average temperature?

        “While the melting won’t be fast, the loss of polar glaciers will eventually cause enough sea-level rise to make it necessary to move whole coastal cities, so centuries from now those generations won’t be thankful for this brief Fossil Fuel Age. ”

        It seems kind of pointless to predict so far in the future, but do you think we still only live on earth?

      • gbaikie, with the summer sea-ice gone, Arctic temperatures could rise a lot by 2100, but I don’t have a number. I realize I am off topic now.

      • “gbaikie, with the summer sea-ice gone, Arctic temperatures could rise a lot by 2100,”

        So I take it you think the daytime or summer time temperature within the arctic circle could rise significantly due to there longer being any sea ice remaining throughout the summer.
        And perhaps during the winter the ice will not form as thick, leading to the situation in which there is less ice to each year requiring less time on average to get to the state of being ice free [or mostly ice free].

        It seems to me that such condition could occur sometime within the future. I also think that within last few thousand years such conditions could have existed in the arctic.

        I think one can get idea of how warm the arctic ocean could get looking bodies which already ice free during the months constant daylight- such as north of Finland.

      • Norm Kalmanovitch

        The currenr CO2 concentration is 390ppmv and CO2 is increaseing at a near linear rate of 2ppmv/year.
        This means that in spite of Emissions exceeding Hansen’s scenario A projection of 30gt/year in 2010 with actual CO2 emissions being 33gt; the CO2 concentration is not increasing as predicted by Hansen for his scenario A which projected CO2 concentration at 1248ppmv predicted by the IPCC for 2100. Instead at the current rate of increase of 2ppmv/year by 2100 the increase will only be a further 180ppmv bringing the properly projected value for 2100 to 570ppmv!
        Hansen’s 1988 scenario A temperature projection is already 0.6°C over 2010 temperatures indicating that Hansen got everything wrong with his global warming projections which you apparently still believe to be correct.
        Hansen understated emissions growth by close to 10% over syated concentration byover 15% and predicted a full degree C of waqrming from this by 2010 but only 0.4°C of this actually happened.
        And by the way the ocean is saturated in CO2 and this saturatio0n point at surface pressure is insufficient for the carbonate ion to be peresent at high enough levels to change the 8.2pH of the oceans which results primarily from the dissolved salts.

      • gbaikie, yes, but the extra warming effect is proportional to the ice-free area, so you won’t get much idea from a small region.

      • Norm, Hansen’s 1988 numbers are outdated. I use IPCC estimates. 33 years ago the rise was 1 ppm/yr, now it is 2 ppm/yr, and I believe in 33 years it will be 4 ppm/yr, and this also fits with IPCC projections. With sensitivities as I mentioned above, these are the warming rates you would get. Also your ocean chemistry disagrees with the measurements of steadily decreasing pH, and all the chemistry arguments I have seen elsewhere that suggest a steady further decrease as has occurred in paleoclimate from evidence.

      • Steven Mosher

        You guys are worse than the skeptics who look at the current rates of sea level rise and project them forward. The SRES and the RCPs are divorced from reality. Your belief that we will top 1000 ppm is divorced from reality,

      • “gbaikie, yes, but the extra warming effect is proportional to the ice-free area, so you won’t get much idea from a small region.”

        The region I am referring to seems about size California or about 1/2 million sq miles. It is quite bit smaller than Arctic ocean, but I wouldn’t call it small.
        It has the Gulf Stream going thru it and not as far north [higher sun angle], which might add some warming in comparison.

        If much larger areas add significant warming than it seems the tropical pacific ocean being much larger than arctic ocean and would have similar effect- an effect I am unaware of.
        I don’t think areas larger than 100 km in radius are going to get extra warming effects as compared to area 1000 km in radius.
        If instead it’s difference between 50 sq km compared to 500 sq km I think they could be an extra warming effect. And a more dramatic would be 1 sq km as compared to 50 sq km.

      • The level 1000 ppm by 2100 requires emissions that reach 40-50GtC annually by 2100, while they were 8.4GtG in 2007. It’s, indeed, unlikely that so much fossil energy could be produced with best effort and in absence of even weakest policies to reduce emissions.

        The total amount of carbon that can ultimately be released depends on the spectrum of resources that will be taken into use. A maximal use of coal of all qualities and of oil shales would be sufficient for reaching such levels, but the CO2 is not the only severe problem that’s likely to prevent such use. The world may be heading to serious problems related to the availability of energy rather than or faster than the serious consequences of the climate change. Those problems may be equally painful for large parts of the human population, but they are different.

      • The level 1000 ppm by 2100 requires emissions that reach 40-50GtC annually by 2100, while they were 8.4GtG in 2007. It’s, indeed, unlikely that so much fossil energy could be produced with best effort and in absence of even weakest policies to reduce emissions.

        In the context of an active debate about whether or not to reduce emissions, arguing that will will eventually reduce emissions as an argument that climate change will be less severe is rather circular.

        “It’s, indeed, unlikely that so much fossil energy could be produced with best effort”

        Have our estimates of fossil fuel deposits remained constant over even the last twenty years? Obviously not. I would love it if we were near the physical limit of the earth to supply us with fossil fuels, but there is no evidence that that is the case.

      • Robert

        The World Energy Council has published a 2010 report on fossil fuel resources of our planet.

        This report lists both the “proven fossil fuel reserves” as well as the “inferred possible total fossil fuel resources in place”..

        The latter category contains just enough carbon to raise atmospheric CO2 level by around 675 ppmv to 1065 ppmv.

        That’s all, Robert.

        This is the asymptotic maximum level that could be reached some day in the far distant future. It is, of course, most likely that fossil fuels will be used for higher added-value end uses, as fossil fuels become increasingly difficult and expensive to recover and lower cost alternate energy sources are available, so we may never reach the 1065 ppmv level from human CO2 emissions.

        Now, Robert, to put this into perspective, how much warming do you think would result from such an increase?

        If we ignore the IPCC model simulations for now and simply look at past warming and past change in atmospheric CO2 since 1850, we can quickly calculate that the expected temperature response to this CO2 increase would be 2.2 degrees C.

        That’s it, Robert.

        All the rest is model simulations and hype.


      • Regarding RCP8.5, which we all agree is extreme, I have not looked in detail at how they came up with that number of 8.5 W/m2 forcing. However, the RCP projections are in terms of W/m2 rather than CO2 because they also include the effects of reducing sulphates by 80% in the century. Whether that is realistic, I don’t know, but it adds to the effective CO2 equivalent because it is reducing a negative term. Around 1 W/m2 of the forcing change could come from that alone.

      • Robert –

        And then you have your carbon cycle feedbacks, an expected fall in aerosol cooling…

        What’s the science behind an expected fall in aerosol cooling?

      • Boy, these nested threads can be painful. Doing my best:

        Joshua: The aerosol effect is expected to diminish for a number of reasons, the most important one being that aerosols have a short residence time in the atmosphere, unlike the CO2 they often travel with.

        Developing countries like China and India are expected to continue to tighten pollution controls, meaning less aerosols will be released from coal-fired power plants. Human health is the primary driver of such controls, and they are unlikely to continue to poison their air to temporarily mitigate global warming. As with all predictions about human behavior, it is very uncertain.

        manacker: The track record of those estimating total fossil fuel reserves is dismal. The estimated reserves of natural gas in the United States increased by 10% in 2010 alone. The total amount of hydrocarbons known to exist is easily enough to heat the Earth beyond the livable range. Betting that a large part of that will be forever unrecoverable is a fool’s wager.

        Steve: Your grasp on reality appears tenuous at best. Rather than lecturing us, why not submit your own critique of the IPCC emissions scenarios along with your proof we can’t possibly pass 1000ppm? And send me a copy of the paper when you clear peer review.

      • Robert. You are the one who blithely claims 3-5C. As if it was knowledge.
        You say it’s reasonable.
        You are the cartoon at the edge of the debate, who makes real action

      • Steven, 3-5 C was my thought on the matter, but there was agreement from Robert.

      • Pekka – If 2010 emissions were about 9 GtC and they increase at about 1.7 percent annually, then 2100 emissions might be expected to be about 40 GTC, unless I miscalculated. An exponential increase might not continue, but given the rise of energy uses in China, India, and other industrializing nations, it might not be a very inaccurate prediction.

      • Fred,
        I agree with your statement. Actually my numbers were from a Excel sheet that I made using similar assumptions. I tried both exponential and linear growth, and the exponential gave those numbers. My value for CO2 was based on those emissions and on the Maier-Reimer and Hasselmann parametrization, which is not expected to be valid up so high concentrations, but I made some allowance for the error.

        The question is, can the exponential growth be maintained even with best effort due to resource constraints? That appears unlikely, although the possibility cannot be totally excluded.

        With CO2 constraints and without, the energy consumption of the industrialized countries is not likely to grow much and the use of fossil fuels is likely to go down, but the billions of people in Asia will use much more. The growth in Asia may for a while be much faster, but I don’t think that can continue for long. The peak will most probably be significantly less than in the scenario that would lead to the 1000 ppm concentration.

      • Steve:

        “Robert. You are the one who blithely claims 3-5C.”

        See, here you’re pretending not to know anything about climate science. Why should I play along with that? If you have a beef with the science, submit a paper. Pretending really basic stuff is new and original just makes you look silly.

        You don’t like mainstream climate science: so make your case. Pick a number and meet your burden of proof. No one else is going to do your homework for you.

        Pekka: I’m sure you’re familiar with the Simon–Ehrlich wager, and how Ehrlich came to lose it. Now, I don’t say technology will always find solutions to avert raw materials scarcity. I think that’s dumb and dogmatic. But given the long history of predictions of imminent scarcity of of various raw materials, which have usually failed to come to pass, I don’t know how you would either rule out or assess as unlikely that we will find work arounds to fossil fuel scarcity until we chose to stop burning them.

        It would be one thing is one had to postulate some radically new and as yet-unimagined breakthrough, but a number of likely game-changers are already apparent. Dirty oil. Gas fracking. Arctic deposits. Methane hydrates. None of this were considered as potentially important sources of fuel thirty years ago. Not only do they in themselves represent enough carbon to fry human civilization, but their advancement illustrates a glaring problem with your argument: if new sources have come to prominence in the last thirty years, how can you be confident that nothing major will emerge over the next hundred?

        Seriously. You’re way more knowledgeable about economics. Explain it to me. I’d like to believe it.

      • Robert,
        There are numbers that change all the time. Many of the predictions on, what’s possible in the future turn out to be totally wrong. Thus far the evidence on the estimates on ultimately available resources has worked mainly differently. The estimates are based on statistical methods that have turned out to be valid.

        The best studied fossil fuel is oil. The estimates of crude oil originally in the Earth crust are now essentially the same as they were 60 years ago. That’s quite remarkable. There has been o significant revision in the share of what can be produced from original 30% to 40% with existing technology and 50% with likely future technology, but here we are already in a region, where getting beyond that will take very long, if it ever occurs.

        The situation with gas is not quite as clear. Gas fracking has been more successful than foreseen, but it’s effect is not likely to be nearly as large on global scale as it is on continental US.

        The lower quality deposits of coal, oil sands and oil shale are more difficult to judge. At the minimum it can be said that they have other environmental problems that are more severe on short term basis than their influence on climate. The total amount carbon in these deposits is large, when lowest grades are included, but a really large scale production from these resources is extremely problematic in many other ways in addition on the release of CO2 that would result. Making their production to be ten times as large as the present oil production or the present coal production is really something that’s very difficult to imagine. If that happens, then the populous Asian countries are producing so much CO2 that it doesn’t matter much, whether there’s anybody left in Europe or US.

        I really don’t believe that those scenarios are realistic at all.

    • So here’s the question. If all humans disappeared today, would the world stop warming? Unless you can somehow say a definitive ‘yes’ you are a skeptic.

  37. Judith,

    My learning process has evolved greatly from open and vigorous sites such as yours. I am being enlightened with every experience at those kinds of blogs. I began my journey humbly and have become more humble at the manifoldness of the earth’s climate system.

    If I stand back to assess the direction toward which my learning takes me, first I have become more profoundly skeptical in the broadest sense on the subject of alarming/concernist AGW by CO2 from fossil fuels.

    Secondly, I have learned that I have yet to find anything close to a reasonably complete argument in the issue of alarming/concernist AGW by CO2 from fossil fuels. All arguments seen so far are like an intellectual archipelago where each island represents a single piece of isolated fragmented anecdotal AGW wisdom. The islands do not seem to connect with each other. I have seen no bridge building in process between islands in that archipelago that might integrate them. If anything, there is intellectual continental drift increasing the distance between the islands.

    Thirdly, I have evolved to a strong case that there is an unprecedented ideological/political warp in science caused by the interference of the IPCC .

    As you may recall, I often hold that an extremely argumentative science is inherently the best science. So, everybody keep it up. The precious residue is the discourse itself. : )


  38. Judith,
    Nice thread topic. It is apparent the moderate warming we have experienced so far has been extremely beneficial since food production is up and famines are down. I’m skeptical that CAGW will ever be catastrophic or even dangerous. The rate of warming is too slow and we have now entered a cooling period which may last another 20-30 years. That basic viewpoint has not changed, but I have learned from this blog.

    I have more respect for Fred Moolten than I did formerly, in large part due to his comments here. I will read his comments more closely in the future. Those people I cannot respect are those who continue to defend Michael Mann and CRU after all we have learned on ClimateAudit and from ClimateGate. I am happy to see Fred is no longer among those who seek to defend the indefensible.

    In addition to your insightful posts, I have also become a fan of Chief Hydrologist. I almost always learn something from him. I also enjoy reading Craig Loehle, troyca, David Wojick and Richard Courtney.

    I am almost always intrigued by posts which appear worthy of investigation but which climate scientists tend to ignore – such as posts by vukcevic.

    Similarly, I am also intrigued by cloud condensing nuclei from dimethyl sulfide produced by phytoplankton in the open ocean. This is not something I have read on this blog but learned elsewhere. This has been proposed as a negative feedback and seems to have good scientific support except in the Climate Science community. I do not understand why climate scientists have ignored discussion of this. As the earth warms, more phytoplankton grows (I don’t know anyone who disputes this) and more cloud condensing nuclei form. This is appears to have much greater potential for cloud formation and cosmic rays but it seems it has been almost completely ignored by climate science community.

    And as always, it bugs me no end to hear climate scientist say things like “We know all the forcings” or “We know the basic physics.” These statements simply do not match up with Trenberth’s admission that no one knows where the missing heat is going.

    • Regarding cloud condensation nuclei, see paragon of scientific virtue Wikipedia –

      I would love to see a thread on this topic. It does appear to me that dimethyl sulfide could be more important than cosmic rays.

      • Ron says -“I do not understand why climate scientists have ignored discussion of [the potential negative feedback from cloud condensing nuclei due to dimethyl sulfide produced by phytoplankton in the open ocean]”.

        (This complaint is characteristic of many on these threads, to the general effect that climate scientists have ignored some important factor that has come to the attention of the commenter.)

        Ron, please see Low sensitivity of cloud condensation nuclei to changes in the sea-air flux of dimethyl-sulphide, and, more importantly, the seven pages of references therein.

      • Pat,
        Thank you very much for the link. I have not been able to find anything in the literature so I look forward to reading it more closely. I do think climate scientists have tended to dismiss feedbacks which are contrary to the desired narrative just as they have tended to dismiss the MWP and LIA.

        Perhaps Dr. Curry would like to host a thread on this topic at some future date?

    • Judith,
      I can tell you what I have not learned. I still have no idea why some people think AOGCMs have any predictive value. Of all of the evidence I have seen – from Orrin Pilkey’s paper and book “Useless Arithmetic” to Scott Armstrong’s paper on global warming and scientific forecasting to failed efforts at V&V on the blogosphere to Pat Frank’s paper explaining how the computer models do not properly aggregate uncertainty – none shows any evidence AOGCMs have any predictive value 100 years into the future.

      The limp observation “But we’ve spent a lot of money developing these models!” does not inspire confidence.

  39. Could my post be removed from the spam filter?

  40. I want to thank Steve Mosher for pointing me to the Isaac Newton Institute where there is a lot of detailed information. Unfortunately, my estimation of climate science has gone down as a result of following Climate Etc. This blog is fantastic and Andy Licas is great, but generally, I see a lack of curiosity about sources of error, and a defensive tone when challenged. There are a lot of very good climate scientists, but there are also problems in the field I think.

    In my 3 weeks of following Climate Etc. and a brief flirtation with Real Climate, I now see echos of the CFD literature. A typical paper follows the following template: At first blush, my model and the test data seem to disagree, but after adjusting the data and making changes to the gridding, numerical methods, time step, or subgrid models, the agreement is perfect. In climate science, there is a much higher level of uncertainty, so the exercise becomes much more complicated and challenging. One example that struck me is the “hot spot” controversy. The data does not show a hot spot. So, the exercise was to find every source of error in the data. This still was not convincing, so the idea of calculating temperature from wind speed was introduced, and finally, the data and the models agreed. Why should we expect a quantity lie wind speed which is very noisy to yield a better temperature estimate than the measured temperature? Anyway, maybe I’m missing something here, but this is what it looks like to me.

    Another example might be climate sensitivity. Clearly Hansen in 1988 relied on his GCM to estimate temperature change and sensitivity, which turned out to be overestimated dramatically. And the IPCC relies on models for forecasting the future, just as Hansen did. But as its became clear just how uncertain the GCM’s were, people started saying that paleoclimate or simple energy balance models were the real source of the sensitivity estimates. To rely on paleoclimate from the last glacial maximum when conditions were totally different than our current experience when we can’t even get modern aerosols right to within 2 W/m2 strikes me as strange. Not only that, but the difference in forcing between today and the LGM was not a change in total forcing but a change in the distribution of the forcing. So then, when this is pointed out, the response is that there are so many ways of estimating sensitivity and they all seem to give a value of 3 K +-50% and therefore we can have confidence in the estimates, just strikes me as strange. In any other field relevant to significant policy issues, if it was pointed out that the most important output quantity of my science had an uncertainty of 50%, an urgent and large effort to reduce uncertainty would be required. I know some people are working on this, but as Judith points out, there is starting to be more emphasis on “communicating the science” as if the science is settled. That’s a problem I think.

    It seems to me that what is needed is a Manhattan project in climate science in which we urgently get the best scientists working on this. Not just “climate” scientists, but people outside the “field” as well. We need to reduce the uncertainty in the field and my brief encounters with climate science tell me that it desperately needs to not only reform itself, but it needs injections of rigor from outside the narrow confines of the dominating “team” that seems to be unusually concerned with a politically driven policy agenda and increasingly distracted by trying to influence policy through more effective communication.

    Anyway, this blog is a great place to communicate and learn and Judith is to be commended for creating such an atmosphere. As always, I look forward to evidence and insights that contradict my perhaps overly negative conclusions.

    • Clearly Hansen in 1988 relied on his GCM to estimate temperature change and sensitivity, which turned out to be overestimated dramatically.

      Climate Etc is interesting to me in its examples, like the one above, of people who simply lie without any fear. They repeat clearly fictional, mistaken things, and await contradiction. The denier and lukewarmer blogospheres use this tactic extensively to craft, promote, and enshrine the mythology of their alternative universe.

      I guess the key to making this possible is people’s total lack of interest in their credibility with those outside the anti-science “tribe.” To a normal person, a factual mistake like Young’s critically wounds his credibility. But deniers do not seem to care how often they or their idols are wrong — the dynamic is reminiscent of the Salem witch trials — stirring up enough hate and fear that the credibility of the accusers in not called into question.

      • You know Robert, Hansen had 4.0K sensitivity for his model. The latest GISS model has 2.6K. You can look it up in Schmidt et. al. Hansen’s scenarios I believe were overestimates of what actually happened to the temperature by a lot. Instead of just lashing out, tell where I’m wrong in detail. In any case, my main point does not stand or fall on the statement about Hansen.

      • Robert, My respect for you is now in negative territory. I went to sceptical science and found the page on Hansen’s 1988 testimony. They show a graph exactly like what you see on sceptical web sites showing that indeed Hansen badly missed the temperature record. They say his sensitivity was too high and give other reasons that agree with my post. Go read it if you can stop the adolescent behaviour long enough.

      • Steven Mosher

        “The denier and lukewarmer blogospheres use this tactic extensively to craft, promote, and enshrine the mythology of their alternative universe.”

        seriously. what lie do you think you can find on my blog?
        what lie on Lucia’s? or John Gammon’s?

        maybe you’re thinking that because you visit Lucia’s and routinely post crap, that your crap counts as a lie on lucia’s blog.

      • what lie do you think you can find on my blog?

        You have a blog? Really?

        Judging by your comments, I’d imagine you’re not any more honest in your own space. The Blackboard, too, is a good example. Never heard of Gammon.

        maybe you’re thinking that because you visit Lucia’s . . .

        I think you can’t get through a single comment addressed to me without bringing up the whippings you took over at The Blackboard. Why you find it so hard to get over I really don’t know, but it’s off topic here.

      • Steven Mosher

        Robert. You didnt answer the question. You claim the existence of lies on Lukewarmers blogs. There are three that I know of. Lucia’s, gammons ( sort of) and mine.

        So, You dint know I had a blog. That eliminates my blog as the source of evidence for your claim that luke warmers lie on their blogs
        So, you didnt know about Gammon, that eliminates him
        That leave one source of evidence for your lie about Lukewarmer’s lying.

        Simple: point to the lie. Go to the source, and make the accusation there.

        or admit your lie.

        You won’t you wont point to a lukewarmer blog that lies, you won’t go there to make the accusation.

        And I can assure you you won’t find a single false thing about climate on my lukewarmer blog. Pretty funny, how you claim the existence of lies on luke warmer blogs and cant even name a few. Troll

      • Robert.


        You didnt answer the question.

        I most certainly did.

        You claim the existence of lies on Lukewarmers blogs.

        Actually, I said that frequently repeating lies was a tactic used by the denier and lukewarmer blogosphere. The fact that you have had to reshape the question in order to contest suggests that you know that the statement, as such, is correct.

        That leave one source of evidence for your lie about Lukewarmer’s lying.

        No. You’ve made an error in logic. Do you see it? Come back when you do.

      • Richard Saumarez

        I suggest you go to The Idiot Tracker (Robert’s blog). I have been the subject of a complimentary post there.
        You will gain an insight in Robert’s sad little mind and why he should be ignored.

      • You have a strange way of ignoring people.

    • Latimer Alder


      Heartily endorse your remarks anout a ‘Manhattan Project’ approcah.They need to get themsleves organised in a way appropriate for the 21st Century, not for the 18th as now.

      Sadly, I see no signs of change. Climatology is a deeply conservative ‘profession’ and the IPCC seems to be little more than the Trade Union for the self-appointed and self-perpetuating ‘elite’. Like any closed shop its first and foremost consideration is the pay, rations and welfare of its members. So while there is little prospect of internally generated reform, the possibility of self-destrcution is ever there.

    • Richard Saumarez

      I have found that your comments on CFD valuable and insightful as have Mosher’s. I do think blogs educate us. I have use Principle component analysis in the past and just used a package that instructed one to centre the data, scale the variances etc. I have no great insight into the technique and McIntyre’s demonstration of the effects of improper centering really surprised me.

      I’ve been thinking about your modelling comments and how you validate them. I wonder if you might consider this idea from the point of scaling:

      You have a very large building say 500x500M and you place a pool in it coccupying perhaps 70% of the surface area. You place various geographic features on the exposed areas and at the bottom of the pool. Some regions could be frozen. The entire system is heated by an overhead source that changes in time and location and careful attention is paid to the radiation balance. Naturally, coriolis forces will not be present present but they could be represented using fans and pumps. The whole thing is instrumented up to the eyeballs. Obviously one can change anything one likes to make different test conditions.

      Nobody would suggest that this is a model of climate, but it could be made so that it represents some physical processes in climate.

      The challenge is to model its behaviour and compare computed results with actual measurements. As a twist the results obtained between different groups could be compared.

      If this system could be successfully modelled, one might have a little more confidence in GCMs.

      After all, there are test tanks, wave modelling tanks, wind tunnels, rocket test stands etc that do not exactly simulate real life, but they are certainly valuable. I realise that it might cost a bit.

      • Richard, This is an interesting idea. Testing is critical in all applications of CFD and quite surprisingly there are a lot of effects where there are not good test data yet. A subset of your idea would just be to build a somewhat realistic scaled down ocean basin with correct geography.

    • In my 3 weeks of following Climate Etc. and a brief flirtation with Real Climate, I now see echos of the CFD literature.

      Not to dismiss the relevance of informing your perceptions on the climate debate by recognizing patterns – have you considered, deeply, the flip side? In other words, that comment suggests that you enter into the debate with a scientific/persona/ideological agenda.

      • Yes, I am a sceptic because like Judith, I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes before. You know peer reviewed science is not some kind of a golden calf to which we all should bow. But, my bottom line is that we need to argue it out on the facts and data regardless of our “agenda.” The problem here is that the team has a very clear political agenda and that makes it very difficult for them to compartmentalize their scientific work from their fondest desires as to what the answer should be. Climategate clearly shows that there is a serious problem for them. I’d get rid of the leadership and start over.

  41. As someone who has much to gain from green technology, I’ve learned that it’s uncomfortable to be on the “denier” sidewalk, watching most of my peers uncritically jump on the “save the earth” band wagon. I, like many, didn’t so much understand AGW as just accepted it. Some of the things I’ve learned that made me a skeptic:

    1) GCM’s are based upon one-time, historical trends — and this makes them no different from economic models. Economic models are not scientific.
    2) GCM’s are not models in the engineering sense, and cannot be used as such.
    3) Even if AGW is happening, there is absolutely no way that we can engineer our way out of it. Any attempt to limit CO2 emissions to ‘X’ amount per year, or set a target of 550ppm, etc. are not based upon science — they are just WAGS and should be categorically rejected.
    4) If AGW is happening, we will just have to adapt.
    5) Some scientists just can’t accept that there are some things in the universe that are indeterminate — not just uncertain, but unknown and unknowable.
    6) Fred is a very patient man – with good taste in music,

  42. “Participating here has made me more aware of the influence of politics on people’s views.”

    “I’ve learnt that many ‘denizens’ are more concerned with hating “The Team” than with understanding science. and been further convinced that blogs are not the way to change anyone’s mind about anything. Confirmation bias rules!”

    ‘The incessant unproductive and pedantic banter that goes on in the comments is like watching a sitcom’

    I tend to write about historic subjects, and what with an amazing amount of lurkers (who sometimes subsequently contact me) a hugely variable knowledge of whatever topic is being tackled, and an ingrained belief amongst some that contemporary observations are not as valid as mathematically sophisticated models using exotic proxies, it makes it difficult to be ‘entertaining’ and factual in a ‘ scientific’ manner so both audiences can be satisfied.

    Add in the three comments above that especially resonated with me, and the already complex task of communicating at the right level becomes overlaid with other factors that are hugely important and emotive to many people. As someone who thinks that Mann is a pretty good scientist (although mistaken in some of his conclusions), who thought Hansen’s original paper on global temperatures was an excellent-if flawed- piece of work, I am neither political, tribal, full of hate for the team nor believe the IPCC is a scam, which makes me an unusual sceptic :)

    I do think some people-including scientists have painted themselves into a corner with strident views in the past, and it becomes difficult to turn round and admit that perhaps they were wrong or that the jury is still out.

    Judith has encouraged a very wide range of articles here, and those writing have invested a great deal of time in their endeavours, and it would be good if people can read and comment on what they see, and not immediately go into one of the three modes described above, or indulge in endless obfuscation. I haven’t just spent two days at the Met office archives to research my next article just so someone can then indulge in mind numbing pedantry.

    So in answer to Fred’s question (one of the denizens I greatly admire) I guess I have learnt –or perhaps had confirmed- that if you write about something that fits in with the existing viewpoint of that reader they will automatically support you, and if you write something that goes against the grain of their belief system they will attack you or indulge in endless obfuscation. In consequence I would say there are very few ‘Open Minds’ here but many fine or reasonable ones.


    • An open mind has no opinion. Where’s the fun in that? An open mind can ask questions, but cannot answer them.

      • An open mind is like an open barn door. The important thing isn’t that it’s open, but under what condition it closes.

      • If I remember correctly, to quote an old Chinese proverb, “closed mind is like a closed book, just a lump of paper pulp”.

  43. Climate Changes

    a) On the value of Climate Etc. to me.

    When I first started reading this blog, it was in the hopes of following and participating in a wide-ranging, climate-related discussion of current topics moderated by an expert in the field, to keep myself moderately well-oriented on the topic.

    I had no expectation of becoming well-informed by a single blog, or of setting my opinions or conclusions by the contents I would encounter.

    I’d hoped my contributions would be net discussion-forwarding enough to balance the burden of my eccentricities.

    This was not the first climate site I’d visited, and I had low expectations based on my previous experiences, mainly modeled on WUWT, which I found too biased, too abused by its contributors and host, and too subject to convergence to a single tunnel of vision.

    That belief has changed, and in Climate Etc. something is different from the blogs I’d previously visited that has at least a bit postponed the probably inevitable narrowing of view to an unproductive point.

    My expectations of the utility of Climate Etc. are dramatically higher than when I began reading, though I’m surprised by the find details of that change. I find Climate Etc. to be a good place to find references to interesting science that can inform and challenge, such as most recently NW’s

    b) I’d believed one could adequately gain a broad view of the topic from a single blog followed by a sufficient critical mass of people who followed the broad topic for familiarity.

    If there is a single blog for such an ambition, it isn’t Climate Etc. It’s probably WUWT, which I’ll never make the mistake of visiting again if I can help it; but if that’s your sort of thing, enjoy it. Most likely, no single blog can do it.

    More likely, a group of three to ten blogs on the topic read occassionally and changed from time-to-time, would be the best resource for the amateur interested in remaining current.

    c) Soon after starting to read here, I formed the opinion I — and most posters — lack the foundations to make valid conclusions about climatology without significant expert guidance, but that it would not be beyond my ability to get to that point.

    Now, I’m more skeptical that anyone, even experts, can do much of use in climatology alone without other experts, so wide-ranging the knowledge one must have to avoid mistake.

    d) When I’d started reading here, I’d been of the opinion for a quarter century that the existing meteorological data could not adequately support the bulk of climatology hypotheses related to climate change, as a simple matter of fitness to purpose.

    BEST has repaired that view, and now several longstanding hypotheses in climate change, most notably that the globe is warming on the multi-decadal-to-millennial timescale, can be accepted at above a 95% CI and with substantial precision.

    It is now in my view impossible to reject the major AGW hypotheses on the bases of insufficiency of dataset, inadequate correlation, confounding variables, or uncertainty. This is a substantial shift in my opinion from “AGW is most likely by about 10:1” to “AGW is most likely by about 1,000:3”.

    e) Similarly, the paleo records in the time I’ve been reading Climate Etc., and my understanding of them through reading at this blog, have improved (I don’t believe Climate Etc. itself has led to the paleo data much improving.. ;) ) to the point I’m less convinced about arguments containing MWP and LIA in them, considering the large uncertainty and widely varying definitions of convenience used for both.

    f) I think confirmation bias is much more a problem than I’d previously imagined, at least in the blogosphere, and sometimes in the published literature; while at the same time in formal peer-reviewed science over a long enough period including time for public criticism, confirmation bias tends to fall away dramatically in influence and to be remedied with time.

    To this end, vigorous public discussion is to my mind much more valuable to science than I had previously believed.

    f) Through discussion here, I’ve been informed greatly about CO2’s role as a steroid-like plant hormone-analog, and consider botanical and microbial effects even of so low a concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere as we’re discussing as dramatically important and inherently risky.

    g) Through discussion here, I’m more greatly of the opinion that there are substantial questions of economic fairness which ought be addressed to oppose the ‘cheap energy is good’ lobby. The ‘cheap energy’ argument seems to me far more dangerous and ubiquitous than I’d realized as a distortion of the Market.

    h) I’d thought when I’d begun here that Uncertainty was an area of large misunderstanding that could be easily addressed. However, it looks like very few people can absorb this topic, overcome their own beliefs to treat it rationally, or use enough rigor to come to grips with it. Even though our host herself speaks to the topic frequently and with some appreciation of the size of its contribution to questions in climate, there remain large deficits apparent in her analyses on Uncertainty which have not improved over time; if anything, the opposite.

    i) I’d considered Chaos Theory very much more important before reading here than I now consider it. The timescale of the AGW discussion is too short to be overwhelmed by planetary disorders on the geological timeframe, and too long to be bothered by multidecadal ocean oscillations or other events of shorter than decadal impact. That much has become clear from discussions here.

    j) I’ve come to realize I’m more horribly wordy than I’d believed.

    • When I’d started reading here, I’d been of the opinion for a quarter century that the existing meteorological data could not adequately support the bulk of climatology hypotheses related to climate change, as a simple matter of fitness to purpose.

      BEST has repaired that view, and now several longstanding hypotheses in climate change, most notably that the globe is warming on the multi-decadal-to-millennial timescale, can be accepted at above a 95% CI and with substantial precision.

      It is now in my view impossible to reject the major AGW hypotheses on the bases of insufficiency of dataset, inadequate correlation, confounding variables, or uncertainty. This is a substantial shift in my opinion from “AGW is most likely by about 10:1″ to “AGW is most likely by about 1,000:3″.

      A was curious if BEST would lead to any denizens changing their minds. Good on you.

      • *Pending confirmation. It hasn’t even gotten past peer review yet.

        I’ve waited a quarter century. I can wait a couple more years to see what critics make of it.

      • Of course, pending confirmation. And, always, pending other data to be presented in the future.

        It’s just nice to see some movement from somebody in response to BEST, especially given the high hopes entrusted to do ahead of time.

  44. Hank Zentgraf

    Judith, some years ago, prior to reading your blog, I was asked by some friends to summarize Climate Science in a 45 minute community lecture. I gathered up some source data from: IPCC, Jim Hanson, Kevin Trenbreth with a few items from Fred Singer to stimulate discussion. I presented the “Hockey Stick” and mouthed the exact words of the IPCC report on that issue. I presented without using the word “uncertanty” since my references (except for Singer) scarcely mentioned it.
    I read your blog every day (I am retired). I click on most of the highlighted references and read as far as my technical background allows. It has been an increditable learning experience. I now see how corrupt the IPCC process and leadership are, how climate science lacks the maturity necessary to advise public policy, how despite billions of $$ spent on at least 22 climate models, we taxpayers have only inched closer to understanding the chaotic, non-linear, complex climate system. I have not been convinced or unconvinced of CAGW. For me it could go either way. From reading your blog I can represent the arguments of both sides.
    Thanks to you, Judith my next community presentation will be completely different in every way. I would start out with “…my deepest apologies…”.

  45. I have learned why the team would very much like Dr. Judith Curry to STFU. I have also learned that Dr. Judy is a flower, but not a shrinking violet.

    Something I already knew has been confirmed by a more than half-century experiment, that has shown the comparative results of central economic planning guided by stupid totalitarian socialist ideology, versus development in a relatively free capitalistic economy.


    But of course, you can see that North Korea has far more respect for the Earth, than does the South. North Korea is probably the nation doing the most to forestall CO2 induced global climate warming change disaster disruption blah blah blah.

  46. As soon as I saw the smoke, I grabbed my shovel and bucket and came as soon as I was able, to help put out the fire.

  47. Latimer Alder

    I have learnt just how completely inadequate the typical academic way of doing research is for working on complicated and difficult problems.

    If a subject is of little importance a simplistic and silo’ed way of working in small competing teams with almost no quality control of anything and no procedures to ensure robust results is only marginally acceptable – especially if done at public expense.

    But for what is claimed as ‘the most important problem Humanity has ever faced’, we see these simplistic processes break down over and over and over again. They do not do the job. They are not fit for purpose. They are broken.

    So, though I retain my confidence in the scientfifc method of enquiry as the best way of coming to understand the world around us I despair that the current organisation of science will assist us where the climate is involved. There is too much unscientific baggage attached to it.

    Seems to me – looking from the outside in – that academics are unlikely to be the best people to decde what areas need research, that the objective of ‘publishing a paper’ is a distraction from looking at the real problems in the round. The lack of any attempt (and active opposition to ) reproducibility, audit and independent oversight allows egos and career building to become the dominant drivers. That cliamtologists do not team with relevant experts from other disciplines is criminally negligent and that we still have issues with basic data quality 20 years on is a scandal.

    I am not anti-Science..I support it wholeheartedly, but today’s organisation of scientific endeavour is positively antithetical to such big tasks as climatology.

    Just an example form the past…NASA didn’t solve the problem of getting a man to the moon and back just by having a bunch of different gusy sitting in their labs doing whatever caught their attention and writing papers about it for other guys to read and criticise.

    If this problem really is as serious as some say it is, we need to use a far better organisation to fix it.

    • I have learnt just how completely inadequate the typical academic way of doing research is for working on complicated and difficult problems.

      Climate Etc has taught me a lot about the resurgence of anti-intellectualism in the 21st century. Hatred of science, education, and the “ivory tower” are becoming hybridized with the pseudoscience and conspiracy thinking facilitated by the world wide web. “Alternative” intellectualism, typically florid and grandiose pseudoscience, is advanced in part by tapping into the resentment of the less educated for the accomplished.

      • Latimer Alder

        Wow – does that come in an English translation? Or should I wait for the (no doubt gripping) feature flm?

        Or is it a prime example of what I was trying to say – the inadequacies of purely acdemic discourse – and the purely academic mindset – to work on difficult problems?

        As to ‘resentment of the less educated’ I’m happy enough that my Oxford Masters Science degree stands up reasonably well by comparison with many here. But I have also had the advantage of thirty years working in the commercial/engineering/IT world where short shrift is paid to the prima donna dilettante antics of the worst sort of academic and their campfollowers. In that world, problems are treated as things to be understood and fixed, not as playthings for the dilettantes to exchange papers about…with a lot of sniping, back biting and other playground behaviour.

      • As to ‘resentment of the less educated’ I’m happy enough that my Oxford Masters Science degree stands up reasonably well by comparison with many here.

        No doctorate, huh? Too bad. Going back to school at any point?

        But I have also had the advantage of thirty years working in the commercial/engineering/IT world . . .

        Yep, when you want practical common sense, nothing like on IT professional to set you on solid ground . . . ;)

        Thanks for the attentional background on your career frustrations that led to your contempt for science and “book learn’.”

        Socrates really had it right so many years ago:

        At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom . . .

      • Robert – this is at least the 3rd time I’ve read Latimer refer to his academic background (outside of the denizens thread, that is).

        It’s sure nice to know that “skeptics” as a rule are unwavering in their refusal to appeal to (self)-authority.

      • Latimer Alder

        I think your post is a near perfect (albeit unconscious) illustration of exactly what I mean about the worst sort of academic. If not it is an extraordinarily skilled parody of one.

        And I’d suggest that -even with some missteps along the way – IT professionals have done more to change the world for the better in the last thirty years than anything else apart from the Green Revolution.

        Even the possibility for such a blog as this to exist at all is a product of a lot of IT people having some great ideas and making them work in practice. I hold my head high to have contributed a little.

      • I think your post is a near perfect (albeit unconscious) illustration of exactly what I mean about the worst sort of academic.

        So am I an academic? And how do you know?

        If not it is an extraordinarily skilled parody of one.

        So I must be one of those intellectuals you despise. Either that or I really sound like one.

        And I’d suggest that -even with some missteps along the way – IT professionals have done more to change the world for the better in the last thirty years than anything else apart from the Green Revolution.

        I doubt very many people who have had to involve themselves with tech support in any form would agree with you, but that’s beside the point. You are affirming your belief in the fallacy Socrates alludes to above:

        At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom . . .


      • Latimer Alder

        Your knowledge of professional IT is limited to phoning a few guys on a help desk? H’mm.

        Lets think a little about how much IT goes into getting this message to your eyes. Somebody had to design the chips used in all the processors along the way – a huge undertaking – several hundred million dollars per successful design. Then add the design construction and operation of the fabrication plants to reliably make them by the millions. Then the devices (laptops, iPads etc) themsleves need to be desigend and built. Probably need a bit of software to run and manage the damn things as well – billions of lines of code to write, test and implement across a billion+ devices. Could be a good idea to have some sort of international communications network as well….needs to be designed, optimised, constructed, monitored and protected. Might be a nice idea if all these parts could be made to work together a bit…perhaps we’ll have some international agreed standards to make it doable…needs somebody to write and agree the protocols.

        And we made all this stuff work while all the components were being continually upgraded. I think we can look back and say that we did a pretty darn good job.

        Meanwhle, in roughly the same period the climatologists have coem up with 22+ models that fail to predict anything in the real world and a way of organising themselves that is unfit for the purpose to which it is applied.

        So in terms of delivering ‘practical common sense’, I know where I would look. And it wouldn’t be academe.

      • ian (not the ash)

        Socrates was also very aware of his own limitations:

        I am very conscious that I am not wise at all.

      • Perhaps he presents his credentials as a counterpoint to your lack of any. Just sayin’

      • Josh-ua,

        Don’t send in those applications to WWF and Greenpeace, until you have seen the special they have this week on the entry-level Junior Eco-Freak membership in the ISBBF (International Save the Bed Bug Foundation). They are dedicated to fighting the Big Evil pesticide-tobacco-oil industry, who are out to make extinct the noble Bed Bug. You can satisfy your need to appear to yourself to be fashionable and compassionate, on the cheap.

        I see that one of your little troll playmates has joined here, for a little fun. He knows who he is.

      • Richard Saumarez

        Go to Robert’s Blog. I’ve been the subject of a highly complimentary post

        You gain an insight into his pathetic little mind and see why he should be simply ignored.

      • Been reading a lot of Ayn Rand lately have we Robert.

      • Actually Rand was a pretty anti-intellectual voice herself. Her belief in superior people was like that of Lenin or the Puritans with their “visible saints” — you were superior because you anointed yourself as such. Just embracing the philosophy of elect-ness suggested you were one of the elect (the resemblance to conventional Christianity is also obvious).

      • Either you’ve never read Rand or you didn’t understand her.

      • Same thing people say about Lenin. :)

      • If they said it to you, they may well have been right. Personally I’ve never read Lenin, nor really cared about anything besides what he did, and what effect it had.

        But if they have said it to you, I’d guess it was because Lenin saw it as not so much “you anointed yourself as such” as that you were anointed by the mass force of the collective.

        And I’d guess the Puritans saw it as being “anointed” by God, rather than yourself.

      • “Personally I’ve never read Lenin . . .”

        I’m shocked. But if you like Rand, you should give Lenin a try. Their philosophies are fundamentally similar. For Rand, it’s a case of hating someone because you have too much in common.

      • “Hatred of science, education, and the “ivory tower” are becoming hybridized with the pseudoscience and conspiracy thinking facilitated by the world wide web”

        That is very curious. I have never found members of the lay public less than enthusiastic about neuroscience/chemotherapy.
        Indeed, I always find that the parents of my childrens friends and the adults of my sons Scout Troop or the Orchestra Mom’s I meet through my daughter have a huge thirst for knowledge.
        What causes and how can we treat Autism/Cancer are topics that they all show an interest in. Never do they show the slightest contempt for medical researchers. They do not trust Big Pharma, but have nothing against researchers.
        I have talked to people who, typically called ‘Christian Fundermentalists’, are creationists about evolution.
        Talking to creationists is unlikely to change their minds, although one stated he had no problem with all non-human life evolving under god’s careful supervision.
        I am an Atheist. I work with a Jewish Neurosurgeon and a Chemist, with over 300 peer reviewed papers, who is a creationist. I care not what sky pixies they worship; I do care that they understand their respective fields.

        Scientists are people. Their papers are the distillate of their intellectual and moral thought processes. Science is a very human activity. If you think that researchers are dispassionate seekers of the ‘Truth’, unencumbered with personal failing and not beyond hiding problems in the long grass, then more fool you.
        The public care not how science works, or even if it does work. Scientists are respected not for their science, but for the technology that is a spin off from the scientific process. Science is only ‘good’, if it delivers useful product.
        The Climate scientists are in many ways like the gene-jockeys. Also thinking they are on the verge of understanding it all.
        Their one-gene-one-disease nonsense dissolved.
        Their data-mining of genomes in a single disease phenotype forever throws up 20-50 candidate genes.
        They still do their little models of interactions and still get nowhere.
        Each time they advance, they find that the difficulty has advanced a couple of orders of magnitude.

      • That is very curious. I have never found members of the lay public less than enthusiastic about neuroscience/chemotherapy.

        The readers/commenters here are not representative of the “lay public” and should not be confused with such.

        They still do their little models of interactions and still get nowhere.

        You don’t appear to know very much about medical genetics. Would you benefit from a short reading list? What have you read so far?

      • “You don’t appear to know very much about medical genetics’
        Quite. Totally ignorant in such matters.

  48. Over the span of a few years I have read more systematically in climate science and read several blogs. Blogs themselves have posted scientific papers, as Judith Curry did about a month or so ago with Padilla et al. It is hard to tell what I learned(?) from one source or another. I’ll put a few bullet points:

    1. climate scientists know a lot; the public and reliable knowledge in this field is vast;

    2. there are cavities (a nice usage I read in a stat journal article recently) in the knowledge; because of (1) it may be difficult to discover and delineate these;

    3. collectively, inaccuracies in models, shortcomings in data, imprecision in estimates, gaps in understanding of mechanisms, and other cavities swamp the claimed climate sensitivity (transient and equilibrium), if it is even constant, which it probably isn’t; even the sign is not well enough supported by the total knowledge base that the sign should be considered known.

    4. promoters of CO2 restrictions universally deny the existence or importance (sometime denying both at the same time, which is illogical) of all shortcomings in the knowledge that are pointed out to them.

    5. there are some talented amateurs doing interesting data analyses that should not be ignored by the professionals;

    6. there are large publicly available data bases that have been only meagerly analyzed.

    7. as in other fields, everyone is wrong sometimes.

    • Brilliant summary. Am I allowed to learn something on this thread even as I try to assess and summarise what I’ve learned on all the others? I feel I have right here. But I agree with all of this. Did I before? I couldn’t have said it as succinctly, that’s for sure.

    • 4. promoters of CO2 restrictions universally deny the existence or importance (sometime denying both at the same time, which is illogical) of all shortcomings in the knowledge that are pointed out to them.

      I’m often tempted to call illogic on this tactic — for example, when a “skeptic” says it isn’t warming and if it is warming won’t be bad and if it is doing something about won’t help — but as long as there is an “if” between the clauses, it’s not illogical argue “Even if we accept (for the sake of argument) point A, the argument fails at point B.” That’s perfectly logical (however wrong the specific argument may be).

      • I should add that such compound arguments are not for amateurs; it is usually as much as an honest person can do to make one argument well, let alone several at once. There is also the great danger of slipping into a Gish gallop.

  49. Fred

    You ask a very pertinent question to us all.

    How have we “changed our minds” regarding the ongoing scientific and political debate surrounding “human-induced climate change”?

    I, for one, have seen how our host is handling this blog site in order to keep the debate going.

    At first I thought she was simply “playing to the crowd” but already had her mind made up that the IPCC was on the right track.

    I see that I was wrong in this belief.

    As far as my own opinion is concerned, I was more adamant that the “alarming AGW” premise was a hoax from the start prior to being involved here.

    I am still quite skeptical of the IPCC itself, its motives, claims and projections (the Laframboise book has reinforced this basic skepticism), but I believe that I am more open to listening to reasoned opinions, such as those of our host here.

    As what I consider to be a “rational skeptic” (in the scientific sense) I am open to any real-time empirical evidence that would support (or negate) the hypothesis that AGW, caused primarily by human CO2 emissions, has been the principal cause of past (post-1950) warming and that it represents a major threat to humanity or our environment.

    So far, this empirical evidence has been lacking.

    Our host here certainly has much more knowledge on this subject than you or I, but I believe she is also searching for more certainty.


  50. I have learned that AGW supports still claim the ocean will rise 1 meter or more by 2100 when it is actually going down and has never risen by even 4mm in the satellite record.

    Therefore I must conclude AGW supporters are buffoons.

  51. I’ve been trying to come up with ways in which Climate Etc changing my mind about the science. But I would say that over the time I have been reading Climate Etc. the peer reviewed literature itself has had an importance for my evolving understanding that dwarfs other contributions. Sites that draw heavily on such research, like AGWObserver, Science Daily, and RealClimate, have been the primary sources of things that changed my understanding.

    Climate Etc led me to Richard Tol, and with that to a greater appreciation of just how difficult it is to model the impact of climate change on human societies.

    I have a greater understanding of what “skeptics” think is wrong with the IPCC, but for the most part the critiques that came to my attention as a result of reading this site are not from credible sources, are exaggerated or made up out of whole cloth, are full of mistakes of fact and fallacies of argument, and don’t provide any useful suggestions for improvement. Rather they seem largely to be animated by a fervent wish that the factual reality reported by the IPCC and its implications would simply go away.

    Nevertheless and in spite of the success of the IPCC in predicting climate change, I do think there are some issues with it. I would now I think be more interested in a credible critique of the IPCC and real proposals for improvement, if they are ever presented.

    • Climate Etc led me to Richard Tol, and with that to a greater appreciation of just how difficult it is to model the impact of climate change on human societies.

      What’s interesting about that, Robert, is that Tol apparently reviewed drafts of Donna’s book. I’m having a little trouble putting that together.

      Along the same lines, in addition to Tol, this blog has led me to Pielke Jr. and the Hartwell Papers – which haven’t so much “changed” my perspective as they have helped me to concertize more precisely the nature of complications that were (more) inchoate for me previously.

      • I’ll check out those papers; thanks for the tip.

        What’s interesting about that, Robert, is that Tol apparently reviewed drafts of Donna’s book. I’m having a little trouble putting that together.

        The ability of smart people to let their emotions get the best of them and to promote and defend idiots is certainly something that Climate Etc illustrates, but in my own primary response to Fred, I tried to stay in the spirit of the thing, which was, I think, things we had learned that brought us closer to those with whom we disagreed.

      • Actually, it’s Hartwell Paper, not Papers.

      • I think Cosmos has a little reading comprehension problem.

        Unlike Dr Curry, I don’t find mathturbation “fascinating.” Pseudointellectual self-abuse is not only unattractive, but if practiced excessively, can lead to blindness.

        Of course to people who don’t want to face reality, that could be considered not a bug, but a feature. ;)

      • @Latimer:

        Why not just tell the truth? A flattering lie is still a lie.

        And gullible is still gullible.

    • Steven Mosher

      Seriously Robert

      issues with AR4.

      1. Briffa’s decision to hide the decline and explain it in the text, when best practices would be to show the decline and explain it in the text as Briffa did in his early publications of the divergence problem. As suggested by McIntyre as a reviewer
      Solution: publish an errata

      2. Trenberth and Jones claiming that McKittrick’s results were not statistically significant, a claim for whih there was no basis in the literature.
      Solution: ( agreed to by Ross) change the paragraph to include the word

      In both of these cases people like me have offered reasonable solutions to minor yet hotly contested issues.

      IPCC process: accept the recommendations of the IAC. The process would benefit from more accountability and transparency.
      1. authors that are not highly qualified
      2. Authors with conficts of interest
      3. Lack of an appeal process for reviewers whose comments are rejected
      without adequate explanation.

      So, some people have made reasonable suggestions. The typical response is that you wont do the reasonable thing because un reasonable people won’t be satisfied. You wont demand best practices because some idiots demand perfection. Let’s face it your arguments need the skeptics as a foil

  52. I occasionally contribute with a sole purpose for the academia’s experts subterfuge, digging out treasures hidden in the data they daily work with. Here is the latest:

  53. The climate change topic is very complex, and participation here has illustrated how easily debate can run afoul of nonsequiteurs, data gaps, hidden assumptions, unproven “facts”, story-telling, and other logical fallacies. This led me to write 2 new papers which I will gladly send people:
    Loehle, C. 2011. Ecological Complexity and the Problem of Ill-Posed Questions in Ecology. Ecological Complexity 8:60-67
    Loehle, C. In Press. The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Current Trends in Ecology
    craigloehl at
    The basic points are that it is easy to do a study that does not answer the question one hoped to answer, and that answering a scientific question involves a chain of steps, any one of which can be wrong.

  54. Alexej Buergin

    I used to think that a blog with lots of comments must be interesting, but too much is too much. I suggest a limit (of 5?) comments per individual, except if he is addressed directly.

  55. I have learned that a lot of people on this site really overestimate the validity and soundness of their arguments against the CO2 causes global warming argument.

    And others are guilty of using inuendo and insinuation as valid arguments against others’ positions.

    Some tend to keep to their opinions even when shown that their arguments are total bunk. See the sky dragon threads for examples.

    Most fail to understand the broad strengths of the arguments for the CO2 is a problem hypothesis.

  56. Judith,

    Thank you so much for hosting this blog. My professional background is physics, and industrial physical and economic modeling. This forum gives me confidence that out there, there are some other industrial strength scientists and engineers putting their minds to understanding this really hard signal to noise challenge.


  57. I am a lay person but one with a mild physics and maths background spurred on by a curiousity in many areas. A banker by profession. My recollection of how I started trying to learn more about climate change goes back to am initial impression that the IPCC report was the unanimous view of 2,500 scientists. Settled science, done deal, etc. Subsequent to that I saw an article which broke out the 2,500 into groups and there were rather a lot whose CVs seemed way short of being leading scientists with qualifications relevant to CC. That got me digging and Climate Audit was the place that I first gravitated to. The stats were over my head but the tone of the arguments seemed reasonable and the aim came across as wanting to get to the bottom of data and processes which struck me as fair and a scientific approach.
    Climate Etc subsequently took over as my main daily read. What have I learned? I think it has help make me conclude that we don’t know enough about what is going to happen to the climate to justify the enormous economic cost of some of the measures currently being pursued. Better alternative technologies will come along and many other factors will change as well. The risk/reward is not right.
    It saddens me that there are so many personal, sniping attacks. I have learned that quite a few scientists (if that is what they are) have plenty of scope to mature.

  58. Majors

    First, that I have a lot to learn about this very emotive subject.
    Second, that I can learn about it!.


    First, There are some issues about which we cannot provide finite and absolute answers.
    Second, that too much time, effort, resource is spent attempting to justify that which cannot be justified.
    Third, We place too much reliance and expend too much research upon data that we cannot possibly know the accuracy of.

    Last (hopes/wishes)

    Treat empirical data as sacrosanct and the property of every homo sapien

    Reduce effort and expenditure on predictive “models” based upon proxy and “questionable” data inorder to increase resource on infrastructure and systems that will help to ensure that we have firm and unquestionable data about what is happening to our planet now and going forward.

    And most importantly, please, somebody get a grip and stop the scientific establishment from its head long dive into the “world of spin”. Spin has destroyed the public’s confidence in politicians, the same danger now awaits scientists. Time to stand up and refute the hype, no matter from which spectrum it is generated. Lose confidence in the scientific process and it will take generations to reclaim.

    • Latimer Alder

      Amen to your comments re getting reliable data. It is shocking and shameful…and a huge organisational failing that after about 30 years of climatology it is still possible to have arguments about the observational data. Such data should be the bedrock of the subject, and yet it still does not exist

      I wrote earlier that the academic organisation was not fit for the purpose for which it is being used. Fundamental problems with basic data are yet another example of this. A bad organisation of even the finest minds will find it much harder to understand a problem than a good organisation. Getting the organisation right is very important. Academic organisation is not effective here.

      • Latimer Alder

        It is quite amazing that we can spend millions if not billions developing thought processes that can never end. Yet we cannot fully fund a very simple, secure global wide data gathering system.

        Take out and leave behind the unknown, enough of mega debates upon differing “interpretations” agree that we dont know, draw a line, maybe 1979? Then become “crocodiles”:-

        “Rutherford had an extraordinary capacity of work. His students nicknamed him “the crocodile”, because they thought, “the crocodile cannot turn its head…it must always go forward with all devouring jaws.””

      • Latimer Alder

        You mean that we should get organised to beat the crap out of the problem? instead of being organised to write a paper on a matter we (or our Professor) happen to find interesting every couple of years or so?

        Sounds good to me. But it would require a dramatic and revolutionary organisation change to do so.

        Memo to acdemics. The funding, leadership and reward strutures you work within are not the only possible organisational model for Science. They have got to be how they are by a process of historical accidents.

        Like all human constructs they can be changed. And there is plenty of knowledge around about how to create successful organisations to solve particular problems. The current organisation of climatology has failed bgitime..we are almost no further forward at all in thirty years..and needs radical reform..

  59. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments here, but in reviewing my original comment, quoted by Judith Curry, I now regret part of what I wrote. Here is the relevant sentence:

    “I would be interested in a post asking participants how their own views have evolved as a result of participation here (and their experiences elsewhere as well).”

    Well, I threw in the parenthetical part about experiences elsewhere, but I wish I hadn’t. Many comments have come from individuals who say they originally accepted the mainstream AGW paradigm (which is not “CAGW” but rather a phenomenon with a range of potential consequences), but later became more skeptical. I’m familiar with that scenario, which is perfectly legitimate. However, it’s an experience that appears to have brought those individuals to this blog, where they have found a hospitable reception. My true desire was to learn how thinking has evolved by subsequent participation here, where most of us have been exposed to a range of perspectives that include the views of some quite knowledgeable individuals. Because the decision to participate here in the first place denotes a highly self-selected sampling of individuals, I don’t think I can learn from their previous experiences how representative that would be of an unselected sample. I do think it would be informative to know how Climate Etc has influenced climate thinking, because I have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to participate. Some have claimed that participating here has simply confirmed the beliefs they brought here, but I’d like to think there’s more than that.

    Finally, in recounting what I’ve learned, I mentioned the expertise of other contributors but I forgot to mention another important element. Often, when I want to make a point or respond to an argument, I have found that the checking necessary to make sure I don’t make a fool of myself when I click on the Post Comment button has been very edifying. It has caused me to be surer of some opinions and to reverse others. And it has helped prevent me from spreading too much misinformation – a more pernicious Internet phenomenon than ignorance.

    • Fred,

      Why don’t you ask people, who have never been here, how they were affected by not being here? Then you can tell them why they are wrong, in 2,000 words or more. But courteously. I like you Fred. Why can’t Josh and his ilk learn from you.

      • Don – I asked my wife, and she said “don’t forget to take out the garbage”.

      • Fred,

        Please don’t resent your wife’s indifference, on that particular issue. That is the reaction you would get from most people. Nevertheless, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

    • Fred,
      I’m guessing the reason most people haven’t kept their comments specifically to how Climate etc has changed their thinking is because it is difficult to separate out individual influences rather than because you asked people to also consider their experiences elsewhere.
      I read about a dozen blogs and continually read books about climate – anything I have to say about Climate etc would tend to be about my experience of it as a blog, not how it stands out as influencing my thinking.
      I appreciate the wide variety of backgrounds here and I’ve learned a lot from some very thoughtful people. My only complaint would be about the vast amount of sneering and sniping. I do find it depressing, tiring and irritating, especially when I come here to learn.
      Having said all that, your idea is a fine one, and for what it’s worth I get more out of posts like this (in terms of sorting out where my thinking is) than I do any other.

    • Previously, I thought that I could be wrong and I still think I could be wrong. I am not evolving.

    • “Well, I threw in the parenthetical part about experiences elsewhere, but I wish I hadn’t. Many comments have come from individuals who say they originally accepted the mainstream AGW paradigm (which is not “CAGW” but rather a phenomenon with a range of potential consequences), but later became more skeptical.”

      If I may paraphrase:

      “It’s that danged parenthetical’s fault. I asked how people may have changed their minds on the CAGW/consensus, and almost everyone who did change their mind changed it in ways critical of the consensus. (Including, to a limited degree – me.) But for that parenthetical, maybe more people would have explained how they have become more consensus/convinced. This was not the point I wanted to make at all. It will serve me right if Joshua posts 30 or 40 comments complaining about the display of asymetry I have caused.

      Can I have a mulligan?”

    • John Carpenter


      For me, coming to this blog has helped me learn much more about climate science and topics peripheral to climate science. I follow the links, read the papers, study the various ideas. Judith has done an excellent job mixing climate science topics along side policy and opposing viewpoint reconciliation topics for discussion. All are relevant to the overall climate change debate. Her posts, her analysis, your analysis, and those of other knowledgable people here have taught me much more about where the ‘debate’ is. I have moved from a hard line skeptical position, based on emotional reaction of bad scientific behavior of a few, to a more accepting understanding of the broader science based on the good work done by many. I know my ‘climate thinking’ has changed and continues to evolve. I believe Judith has influenced it for the better and is on the right path. Her pursuit of bringing people together to find common ground is the right path. I look forward to what she will offer next for consideration, to what you have to say as well as many others here. I’ll even throw in a few snarky comments to Robert for good fun. I’m not convinced CO2 is ruining the planet, but I believe we should make some changes. I’m sure we will get to 2x CO2 and should be as knowledgable as possible for what that may mean. Thanks for asking the question, it has brought a lot of people out of the wood work who I have never seen post replies before.

  60. One of the things I have found most interesting is the academic achievement level of so many skeptics. Another is that there seems to be an unwilling and unplanned convergence between the AGW community and skeptics. It has been interesting to see how poorly many of the AGW opinion leaders have done in a forum where is a free exchange, as opposed to a heavily moderated forum. Without a doubt Fred Moolten’s diplomacy has been impressive. Any students he taught in University and medical school certainly benefited from his patient and calm approach. Too bad it is expended here defending so much of the AGW consensus ;^)
    Witnessing the work of Judy Curry has been, without a doubt, the most impressive part of this blog. her insight, critical thinking,kindness humor and toughness are all amazing attributes.

  61. Jim Cripwell | October 22, 2011 at 9:48 am | Reply What I have had confirmed completely, is that there is no physics, and no science that supports the hoax of CAGW, None, zero, zilch, nada. Everything which it is claimed supports CAGW, is just smoke and mirrors.

    Its Physics Jim, but not as we know it.

  62. Random quote that I came across today that might help some of us.

    Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak.
    Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
    Winston Churchill

  63. Steven Mosher

    Great topic Fred.

    How have my opinions changed? Let’s start at the highest level with my opinion about rational discourse. I would say that when I started looking at this whole field over 4 years ago my opinion was that an open debate would be a panacea. The notion that “the debate is over” or there is no “debate” struck me as wrong headed or dangerous. I’ve kept that position fairly consistently all this time. However, my experience here, more specifically my experience from Lisbon onward has forced me to modify that somewhat. I find from where I sit there are two classes of people with whom dialogue isn’t really productive. On one side the people who deny radiative physics ( hey we can see through walls now with a phased array radar ) and on the other hand people who continue to defend the actions of certain people. For example, people who defend the violation of FOI law. If you count yourself in one of those groups, I apologize for any verbal abuse that may have come your way. Chalk it up to me being disappointed that reason didn’t work with you.
    Next, I have a greater appreciation for the hard work that scientists put in, and a greater appreciation for their impatience with being unjustly questioned, I’m less tolerant than I was of people avoiding questions altogether as if every skeptical question or request was part of some conspiracy to slow down action on climate change. Put that down to having done a bunch of work on some of this stuff. And I’m less tolerant of people who demand that others do their homework for them. That said, I’m also more intolerant of folks who show up, take a guest post slot, set a bag of shit on fire and then run off. I can tell you the job of responding to commenters is tough ( see my posts on WUWT or Big Government) but it goes with the territory.
    I’m more bored with the right wing political arguments than ever. You are getting ever more like the other side. They bore me more, but you are fast approaching them.
    On the science. I’m less convinced that the models have anything of interest to say about sensitivity, but more annoyed with people who refuse to understand how models and theory are interwoven in almost every piece of data we view. I’m more annoyed with people who rely on satellite data in one comment and reject radiation physics in another. What that means is that I am more sensitive to the contradictions inherent in certain skeptical positions. I’m more annoyed than ever that some skeptics refuse to join the real debate which occurs within the science. I’m happy that people like David Young found the criticism of models from WITHIN the community to be very powerful.
    On the science, after talking to peter and judith, I’ll have to say that I am more curious about “natural variability” than I was when skeptics talked about it. The difference is clear. When a skeptic talks about natural variability they usually see it as the END of investigation. They see it as the only explanation needed for the warming we see. That lack of curiousity is troubling. (Its also possibly my cartoon version of their position. ) When Peter talks about it he talks about it as a phenomena that needs explaining, rather than the explanation itself. I think his scientific questions deserve attention and the fact that they are not front and center begs some explanation.
    So between the stupid ” natural variation explains everything” and the equally stupid “its all due to man” lies an interesting debate. But we have trouble getting to that debate, trouble I think because the extremes or our perception of what the extremes are control the debate. My bet is that if you asked most people here they would say the temperature we see is the result of both natural and manmade causes. Its funny there is plenty of room for a robust debate within those parameters, but discussions devolve quickly into to fights between ‘symbolic” positions that no one really holds. It’s as if two tribes of strawmen are fighting it out because both sides don’t want to discuss the real issue, it’s like a proxy war.. So we get wars over hockey sticks and wars over plagarized reports to congress. never the real fight. never the real fight because the stakes in the real fight are too big. That’s my theory. meh. falsify that by having the real debate.
    On the science. I’m more interested in Hansen’s work on the LGM than before. His argument, the wider argument of the importance of paleo to estimates of the ECR, make more sense now. I’m not too keen on the transparency and robustness of his actual work. If I had a wish it would be that BEST take a look at that next.
    On the science I’m more skeptical of trenberth than before. For a variety of reasons.

    This is going on to long. So, lots of subtle changes which probably feel like a kick in the shins sometimes to the people I converse with.

    Oh, I aspire to have Fred’s even keel.

    • Steven, Let me run by you my take on the highly politicized debate and the seemingly domination of it by the most extreme people. My view is that “the extremes will always be with you” to paraphrase a famous man. But, the point I would make is that ethics in science demands a higher standard. I don’t care about what politicians and special interest say. The scientists should set a higher standard of objectivity and integrity. And since I think its an obligation and a moral issue, I do think the need for reform is critical. What really disturbs me is Muller’s observation that “the scientists were exonerated and re-appointed to important positions in the climate business.” For me, this is the most critical issue right now. And I am a little bit angry about it.

    • Richard Saumarez

      I agree with most of what you say. I think that on this blog, there are a large number of people do not deny radiative physics, accept that the world is warming (2oC in the last 2 centuries +-? according to BEST), are some sceptical of mathematical modeling from their own experience, acknowledge that the source of variability in temperature isn’t understood and so on.

      I hope you would agree that there is huge uncertainty about predictions of world temperature and the anthropogenic component in global warming.

      I get uneasy when we are told by experts that this uncertainty doesn’t really exist and the best estimate of what will happen is the mean of model outputs that have a 400% range. In medicine, the dangers of argument by authority has been demonstrated many times over the last 100 years. The difference between climate and medicine is that the latter is experimental while the former is observational and deductive. This approach is sensitive to logical fallacies and sometimes those making the arguments are least able to see them because they have been too close to them for too long.

      There is a definite role for the non-climate scientist to scrutise the logic that underpin some of the predictions because we may know more about a particular aspect of one component of climate science. I am somewhat uneasy when a leading modeller makes a post that may contain logical flaws and then does not defend his views against criticism. Given the flood of emotionally polarised criticism that accompanies some posts, this is admittedly hard to do but is the lack of response because he knows that everyone is wrong, he can’t be bothered or he finds the rough and tumble on blogs too unpleasant?

      High quality bogs are fora in which experts can be challenged and I believe in responding to these challenges, some experts should consider the arguments of their critics, which may be no bad thing.

    • John Carpenter


      We all know those who post here and elsewhere for the sole reason to mix the pot and troll. My suggestion to you, since you feel this gets us nowhere with the real debate (I think you’re correct), is ignore it. Don’t respond to the troll. Don’t try to correct them. Don’t try to reason with them. Don’t engage in their tactic to distract. You know this, yet you engage. I’ll be the first to admit there are times I want to reach through the laptop and squeeze the troll. I have to restrain myself not to respond and at times fail, but hey… we’re all human and have breaking points.

      Here is a different take on the same situation. You happen to be one of several posters here worth reading every post, like Fred, Pekka, TonyB, Judith, and some others. I have learned a lot from you responding to the trolls, attempting to correct them or reason with them, providing links to additional information, so it would be a loss for me if you did stop… From your POV it may seem like a pointless struggle and waste of your time… for me (and I suspect many other lurkers) it provides us with a source of reliable understanding of the issues. Maybe you don’t like people who don’t do their own homework, but many of us have day jobs that require our full attention and dedication… this is a special interest for many, not a living. Don’t come down hard on those who are looking for shortcuts to the best information sources for time constraint reasons.

      I’ll be reading nevertheless… and don’t change your tactic… it can be quite entertaining in its own right.

  64. Changing minds.

    Some are arguing it’s rare to change someone’s mind once they’ve expressed an opinion. Maybe that’s their case, but certainly not mine. Others think blogs are not a good place for it. I disagree completely also in this one.

    As so many, I didn’t have anything against AGW, and I thought Kyoto was reasonable. And believed the “consensus” was real. This was circa 2006 – 2007. Any case, I wasn’t following very much the problem. But I am a sceptic in every aspect of my life (including myself) and I came to notice some strange smell. Maybe it was Un inconvenient truth, maybe something else, I am not sure. But I was thinking: Is this another version of … “beware sinners, the world is ending”? So I looked for blogs, and a I ended reading extensively Real Climate and Climate Audit.

    I think blogs can be very good places to learn. The technical issues, as you will see the pointers to them, but more important, the debate. Who asks what, who responses properly, who snips comments and for what reason, and how the arguments dance. It is quite informative. To make it short: I ended very very sceptical (mind change 1). By “very very” I mean I was convinced you needed to be something like a gorilla to support CAGW.

    Years later I came to two blogs I find most informative. Lucia’s “The Blacboard” and Judith’s “Climate Etc”. And I moderated a lot my scepticism, by seeing there really are informed non gorillas supporting CAGW (mind change 2). So, now I think there are arguments to support CAGW, with nothing close to an evidence, in a system that is widely not known. And I would ask both sides for a future, as near as possible, which would invalidate their idea. If it’s a long future, so sorry, but with no evidence, a very immature science, and no fallibility, I won’t move a finger.

    Sorry for the length.

    • My experiences are remarkably similar to yours – I had nothing to dispute AGW with for 20 years. I didn’t give it much thought. I’m also self-sceptical and bells start ringing when I gravitate towards a strong belief…
      Then I watched Al Gore’s propaganda movie, probably to confirm some mild prejudice, and I also noticed the smell. It was awful.
      My response was to buy books – loads of them – as I wasn’t much of an internet user. Even though I read advocacy from all sides including Hansen, Mann and Monbiot, I just ended up extremely sceptical. It seems ages ago and my passion is now somewhat embarrassing, but then Al Gore’s influence was quite strong!
      My mind change 2 has been more gradual – lukewarm AGW, still strong scepticism. My expectation of a couple of degrees warmth spread over one or one and a half centuries leads me to expect consequences that lie between benign, not noticeable and not relevant. An outlier might be ‘not very significant’. I’m also extremely sceptical about the possibility of ‘doing anything’ about CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. The last 20 years are quite instructive in this matter.

      • Hey, even Margaret Thatcher and (horror of horrors) Sarah Palin were accepting of the consensus view for a time, until the degree to which the science had been politicized became impossible to ignore.

  65. Fred asks what we have learned since we have come here, and what we have learned elsewhere. That is a good question, and indeed I’ve asked it of myself a few times. My initial position was agnostic: show me the data that support your AGW proposition, and I’ll check them out. The data didn’t seem very good to me, and I was taught to try to ensure that the data you had were the best you could get. That agnosticism quickly got me into the blogosphere in search of relevant literature and argument, and I had the common experience of bouncing from WUWT and the Blackboard to Real Climate and Tamino. A chance reference took me to Climate etc in the first week of its existence, and I’ve pretty well stayed here in the last year, going elsewhere only when one or other poster suggests reading this or that.

    What have I learned — compared to September last year?

    1. that pumping out more carbon dioxide is very likely to raise the general temperature;
    2. that we don’t know what effects this will have other than through modelling;
    3. that the models appear to be in their infancy;
    4. that ‘climate sensitivity’ is still unclear;
    5. that we know much less than we would like about clouds;
    6. that we may really underestimate the role of the sun in all this;
    7. that whether or not the seas are rising, and whether or not the rate of rising is increasing, are not clear from the observations;
    8. that, with respect to pretty well everything in this giant and difficult field, the best answer at the moment is ‘we don’t know’.

    Like others, I would like more research done, but without the initial assumption that global warming is a problem; could we have research on ‘natural variability for a change?

    I thank those whose contributions seem to me to be aimed at improving our knowledge rather than at defending a position, and Fred, for suggesting this thread. I respond well to the generally civil tone. There are others whose efforts seem to me stifle rather than assist discussion, and I pass over them quickly.

    I have written elsewhere that ‘Climate etc’ seems to me an excellent continuing seminar in a important contemporary scientific and political issue, so I thank our hostess for devoting the time and energy to maintaining it. It takes me a lot of time just to read it. I can’t imagine how much time is involved in running it!

    • that whether or not the seas are rising, and whether or not the rate of rising is increasing, are not clear from the observations;

      When the oceans rise the water around the equator rises and the inertia of earth increases and the spin rate decreases. When the oceans fall, the ice is deposited closer to the spin axis and the inertia of earth decreases and the spin rate increases. The addition of leap seconds to adjust the standard time has decreased. several years ago, multiple leap seconds were added in a year. Now, no leap seconds have been added since 2008. The spin rate has increased, so the ice has increased and the oceans have dropped. That is very clear from very accurate observations.

      • There must not be many engineers out there.
        The spin rate of the earth is very sensitive to the ocean level.
        The ocean level is very sensitive to snow falling or ice melting.
        When earth is warm, as now, it snows more, as now, and oceans drop and earth cools.

    • Don asks -“..could we have research on ‘natural variability for a change?”

      Most climate scientists of an earlier generation started out studying natural variability, and they, their successors and students continue to do so.

      From a 630 page 1995 National Academy publication dealing with the subject:

      …natural climate variability must be identified, quantified, and understood if ways are to be found to minimize its negative consequences and maximize its positive ones. In addition, human activities could significantly alter this natural variability, and indeed may already have done so. If we are to make informed decisions about our own future, it is essential that we assess the climate’s sensitivity to a variety of factors, particularly on the decade-to-century time scales that are of most concern to human beings.

      It would probably be helpful if commenters consulted the literature before lamenting that climate scientists are ignoring their favorite subjects.

      • Pat,

        I’m happy to consult the literature. To the best of my knowledge I have not seen one paper published in the last year that has focussed on natural variability and contains no bow to the importance of AGW.

        And it is 16 years since the National Academy publication. Is there a compendium of the papers published since then on this aspect?

      • Don – Google scholar returns 23 papers since 2010 with “natural+variability+climate” in the title. There are many, many others with which I am familiar that deal with specific aspects of natural variability, but have less obvious titles.

        One that you might be interested in is:
        Distinguishing the roles of natural and anthropogenically forced decadal climate variability: Implications for prediction.

        (I have not yet read it.)

        How many of these “bow to the importance of AGW” I do not know, but why apply such a filter? Why not just see what they say?

        In any event, my point was simply that climate scientists have not and are not ignoring natural variability.

      • Thank you, Pat. I will read that one and look at the others and get back —probably on another thread!

        And I did not express myself well. The papers that get referred to in the MSM are not of this kind — and indeed even on this site there are few references to explicit natural variability papers. But first, I need to do some reading.

        Thanks again,


      • Pat,
        Natural climate variability is beginning to get more notice in the literature because we have not set any new temp records since 1998. Until recently, climate scientists have downplayed natural variation including downplaying the MWP and LIA. Steve McIntyre has a post on the BEST papers discussing how BEST is showing the LIA much cooler than climate science normally allows. I think this is a tremendous step forward.

        Don’s statement is historically correct although natural variability is beginning to be noticed. Only time will tell if climate science actually comes around to a more reasonable appraisal of the situation and a more attribution of late 20th century warming.

      • It was thoughtless of me not to leave a link to McIntyre’s post. Here it is:

      • The issue of natural variability also gave rise to the urgent email “We have to get rid of the MWP!” which in turn gave rise to MBH98 and the infamous Hockey Stick.

        Climate science has not so much studied natural variability as they have attempted to hide it while proclaiming the untruth that CO2 is the only significant driver of climate change. Natural climate change refuses to be ignored as atmospheric CO2 continues to climb while no new surface temperature records have been set since 1998. This is what explains the more recent interest in natural climate variability.

      • Ron,
        Natural variability is perhaps the most difficult problem for climate science. Scientists are always interested in the difficult problems, but the difficulty of the problem keeps progress down.

        What has happened over the last 10 years has certainly affected views on the strength of natural variability. In 2000 the phase of fast warming was just behind, and it was natural to think that it was mostly due to human influence although the natural variability was also mentioned in all serious scientific attributions. The last 10 years have brought new data making the relative weighting to shift as it should do in science with new data.

        The most likely attribution and it’s uncertainties are always based on existing data. The last 10 years have shown two things:

        1) the rapid increase stopped and turned to essentially flat for about 10 years

        2) the high values around 2000 were not just a short peak, but the last decade is significantly warmer than the earlier ones in spite of the leveling off.

        Based on the additional 10 years of data we know now a little bit more. We know with more certainty that the temperatures have risen from earlier decades, but not with the preceding trend. New estimates of the trend component that’s likely to be in the warming is lower than it was before, but there is a little more certainty that a trend component is there (the expectation value is lower, but so is also the uncertainty). The new estimates of multidecadal variability are higher than before.

        We know little more about the nature of the multidecadal variability, because that’s the “most difficult problem” I started with.

      • The difficult problem is explaining what the “natural variability” that has dampened the warming, trend the usual suspect is not an out in sofar as the recent solar cycle was not unususal in its lower minima,it is around the same as the previous 22/23 minima PMOD did not allow for the instrument degradation.

      • Pekka, the natural variability seems to indicate the approach to solving the problem needs tweaking. It is a pretty complex fluid dynamics puzzle which tends to indicate a randiant energy mainly solution is problematic.

        New blog with a new start if you are interested.

        Yes, my sense of humor is an aquired taste :)

      • Natural variability is perhaps the most difficult problem for climate science. Scientists are always interested in the difficult problems, but the difficulty of the problem keeps progress down.
        Not entirely correct, see:

      • Pekka,
        You write:
        In 2000 the phase of fast warming was just behind, and it was natural to think that it was mostly due to human influence although the natural variability was also mentioned in all serious scientific attributions.

        This is false and misleading. It was not natural to think that at all. A great deal that was known about natural variability prior to 2000 had to be ignored, downplayed and obscured by false and misleading papers by Mann, Briffa, Wahl, Ammann and others. These papers have all be debunked by Steve McIntyre on ClimateAudit.

        The Northwest Passage opened up in 1944 just like in 2007. We did not have satellite coverage in 1944 but arctic sea ice could have been less in 1944 than 2007. Climate scientists never talk about 1944. See,9171,801448,00.html

        As vukcevic says, there is no money in natural climate variability. That is a problem for climate scientists. Government funding will grow a crisis whenever possible.

      • These papers have all be debunked by Steve McIntyre on ClimateAudit.

        . . . and Steve McIntyre has been debunked by RealClimate, Skeptical Science, and basic fact checking.

        Leaving our favorite minerals consultant precisely nowhere in his efforts to discredited his hated scientist foes.

    • Don Aitkin | October 22, 2011 at 5:18 pm | wrote:

      “Like others, I would like more research done, but […] could we have research on ‘natural variability for a change?”

      “What have I learned […] 6. that we may really underestimate the role of the sun in all this […]”

      Mainstream miSUNderstandings are due to failure to recognize the spatiotemporal version of Simpson’s Paradox.

      Conditional sampling & aggregation dependencies aren’t uniform & stationary as unconsciously assumed:

      It’s more a spatiotemporal sampling theoretic problem than an unknown physics problem. The sampling framework is twisting differentially.

      EOP (Earth Orientation Parameters) are the arbiters of climate disputes.

    • Natural variability has to be quantified, and has been. We see hypotheses about PDO and AMO that put their magnitudes at 0.2 degrees lasting for decades. The distinction between natural variability and forced variability is that natural variability is subject to the full Planck feedback that returns climate to its baseline, while forced variability (solar, GHGs, aerosols, albedo) change that baseline, and can move it by several degrees. This is why it is important to quantify natural variability, to see if it is important relative to the forced variability, and it certainly is for decadal predictions, where tenths of a degree matter but maybe not at century scales, where whole degrees matter.

      • Tomas Milanovic

        The distinction between natural variability and forced variability is that natural variability is subject to the full Planck feedback that returns climate to its baseline, while forced variability (solar, GHGs, aerosols, albedo) change that baseline, and can move it by several degrees.

        There is no basline. Again this misconception that the climate is an equilibrium system. It is not and has never been.
        A progress: harcore people who considered that weather was just noise, are now grudgingly admitting that multidecadal oscillations exist and have an effect.

        Next progress to be done : admit grudgingly that chaotic quasi oscillations don’t stop at decadal scales but continue at centennial scales and above. It is already known in theory that this is what non linear out of equilibrium systems generally do. Now we just need to sample 50 years of data more to see that these oscillations play at scales of degrees.

  66. I think one of the things I’ve learned here is some nuanced thinking about uncertainty. Thank you Dr Curry.
    It reminds me of something Richard Lindzen spoke quite eloquently about – how important it is to remember that climate science is both primitive and immature. Both these ideas are so important that I think we should give them memorable names lest we forget them. I suggest we call them ‘Robert’ and ‘Joshua’ ;)

    • It reminds me of something Richard Lindzen spoke quite eloquently about – how important it is to remember that climate science is both primitive and immature.

      Good for a smile, given the total failure of Lindzen’s temperature projections:

      You make the common “skeptic” error of confusing your ignorance with a general condition . . .

  67. Fred Moolten

    You may or may not agree with the following observation I have made.

    When we hear that “time is running out to save our planet” this attempt to engender an emotional sense of urgency actually causes most impartial readers to figuratively roll their eyes.

    The ongoing scientific debate on the validity of the premise of alarming AGW is interesting to follow and engage in – but when the element of panic or fear is introduced, rational debate is no longer possible.


    • I absolutely agree. Those who do the most to harm the case for considering AGW a problem are those whose prophesy is the end of the world (James Hansen, Al Gore…)
      Unfortunately, I think it is also true that those who do the most to harm the case for rational scepticism are those who ‘deny’ the least credibly (Fred Singer, Tim Ball, )

  68. Evil Denier (paid by Big Oil/Coal - I wish)

    Dr Curry
    Take a bow.
    (and please, please do something about the troll[s])

  69. I have found it helpful to hear civil, human voices for climate orthodoxy, and likewise to read a wide of range of topics related to climate that might not otherwise appear in a climate blog.

    I like that for all the vehemence participants bring to the blog, and even some amount of trolling and badmouthing, that a constructive dialog manages to take place. I even think a minor bit of history has been made in this blog.

    I have learned that the orthodox don’t have answers for my non-technical concerns about the climate science process. I have gotten a better sense of how deep the technical discussion can go with climate and a sense of my limitations that I probably can’t settle my technical questions without devoting a couple of years at least to study.

    I suspect that climate science is skewed in the direction of alarmism in terms of exaggerated effects and increased certainty, but I don’t see how I can detect such errors or decide that they are not present other than watching how well the models match actual climate over the years and the discussions thereof.

    • I suspect that climate science is skewed in the direction of alarmism in terms of exaggerated effects and increased certainty, but I don’t see how I can detect such errors or decide that they are not present other than watching how well the models match actual climate over the years and the discussions thereof.

      I think that that is a very important common sense piece of humility. I would only add that there are already grounds for comparison:

      The BEST result are just the late piece of evidence that climate science, for all the questions about the future that remain, is producing good data and reasonable projections, despite complexity and uncertainty.

      • Robert, you’re obtuse and uninteresting.

        First, one would require a reference to the “Lindzen prediction” since he says he doesn’t do predictions.

        Second, you must be too young to understand how decisions are made in the real world. You have to convince people who are usually smart that you are right. The burden of proof is on the climate scientists and their political allies. Thus, its nonsense to use this “you’re just as bad as I am” playground argument which seems to be your main line of reasoning.

        Is a 3K +-50% a large uncertainty? Only someone who has never actually done real world science or engineering could claim that it is not. People routinely loose their jobs for such errors in the real world. But not in Robert’s world.

        If you have something of technical substance to say, then say it. If all you can do is point to others’ work and put your own inaccurate gloss on it, then I vote for the troll box.

  70. Sorry, the second ‘pedantry’ should have been replaced with ‘exhibit diversionary tactics’

  71. I don’t even remember how I got drawn into the climate debate but like others my first stop was realclimate. My background is some physics and a good amount of modeling on large unruly data sets. My prior experiences with academia in solid state physics left me completely unprepared for the dismissive treatment by rc’s contributors when my sole purpose was curiousity and ‘getting up to speed’.
    It has always been my experience that people who are confident of what they know are generally quite happy to share that knowledge and enjoy being questioned even if the questions are off the mark. And the smarter they are the quicker they are to say ‘i don’t now or i’m not sure’.
    By the time climagegate showed up i wasn’t even a little bit surprised. It fit so well with the personna of the face of the climate ‘establistment’.
    Until this site came along I spent most of my climate time reading CA, as it remains the most technically oriented site. And steve mcintyre has maintained his standards of decency throughout and that is meaningful to me. happily our hostess is doing the same.
    i can’t say that reading this site has changed my views too much though there are posts which are elucidating and the banter is sometimes enjoyable. i don’t subscribe to the catastrophic idea mostly because the predictions are not holding up and in the end science is about making predictions. with sst declining and another la nina in the works there is no chance for a new high temperature next year which will leave us at 14 years since 1998. At some point even the faithful will have to admit that it ain’t going as advertised.

    • I like what you stated David. What is a surprise to me is how many fields where there are unknown unknowns or at least very complex systems, engineering, medicine, biochemistry, economics, mining and oil explorations have a similar formalisms and mathematics. The ‘no idea’ and ‘don’t know’ is normally followed by ‘I would guess’.
      An engineer, doctor or pharmacologists who used ‘Mikes Nature trick’ would be in prison.

    • Richard Saumarez

      I’d second those comments. Having dealt professionally with the understanding and prediction of sudden death, a hugely complex subject but is orders of magnitude simpler than climate, I am astonished by the level of certainty that has been shown by some practitioners, especially when one digs into their maths and statistics.

      The greatest strength of this blog is that uncertainty is acknowledged and is , in my view, the actions of a proper scientist.

  72. I read this blog daily. I listen.. I welcome the opportunity that the blog gives to read and analyse “sceptic” opinion and I dutifully follow all the leads and arguments from “sceptics” to determine if they are forceful enough to throw doubt on the science.. I appreciate the necessity for scepticism and appreciate the often thoughtful and considered questions and observations from many of the commentators. There is much food for thought here, but there is also a sense that many of the “sceptical” commentators are very closed minded and are trapped in some sealed loop where much debunked ideas are constantly recycled as valid talking points.

    One of the things I have learned from this blog is that “sceptics are uncritical of each other by and large, and that large swathes of misinformation or downright lies go uncorrected and unremarked. This is one of the glaring inconsistencies of this kind of “sceptical” bloggery that makes a mockery of the concept of critical scepticism.

    Another glaring inconsistency is that of uncertainty. Uncertainty has so clouded the issue that it has become equated with confusion and doubt, but only when applied to AGW. Commentators who support AGW theory are often derided as trolls and trouble makers because they presume to undermine the certainty of the “sceptics”. Certainty has become such a prerogative of the “sceptics”, that they do not seem to accept that uncertainty cuts both ways. There is a strong sense of “I am right, therefore you are wrong” rigidity about many “sceptic” arguments, that only serves to undermine their plausibility.

    There is too much defensiveness from many of the “sceptics” in place of open minded dialogue. I get a strong sense that that many here feel very threatened by AGW, as well they might, and that this state of fearfulness indubitably clouds judgement. To the detriment of rational argument. And as such, fails to persuade that there are indeed grounds for reasonable doubt in AGW.

    And I agree with Robert that many of the criticisms of the IPCC are based more on a feverish desire to get rid of it and it´s unsettling conclusions, than any wish to improve the international effort to better our understanding of our climate.

    So I have to say that, while I enjoy reading your blog Dr Curry, for the insights into so-called “sceptical” thinking, there has really been nothing here to persuade me that AGW is not a reality. The scientific case for AGW remains, to my mind, the more plausible and convincing explanation.

    • sj,

      Another one who is not capable of distinguishing the skeptics from the deniers.

      • The confusing thing is that a lot of naysayers (won’t use the d word) call themselves skeptics when they actually aren’t at all skeptical of each other’s myriad bad ideas that come to this forum. There are a few genuine skeptics here who do criticize the dragonslayers and world government conspiracy theorists, but they are outnumbered or just too silent.

      • Jim D and sj:

        It seems to me that you set up the issue as a battle between teams, and assert that the sceptic team isn’t internally consistent about, eg, scepticism.

        But I don’t see it that way at all. FWIW, I agree that there is a lot of pretty threadbare stuff put forward by people who don’t like the IPCC papers, but I don’t see any reason for me to point that out. First, I don’t see these posters (or myself, for that matter) in team terms at all. Second, I keep my questions and argument for what I see as the main game: the propositions that start with ‘the world is warming, and the warming is unprecedented, and we done it,’ and go on from that to propose carbon taxes, wealth distribution, and the rest. Third, if there is a weakness one of you will point it out. If it is rubbish, most of us (and you too) just ignore it.

        I agree that there is a problem in all this, in that there is an orthodoxy — the IPCC position — and that those of the orthodox persuasion support it. But those who are heteredox are so for a great variety of reasons. You could call them a ‘rabble’, because they simply don’t ‘cohere’ other than in attacking the orthodoxy.

        But that would be uncomplimentary, and neither of you displays bad manners..

      • The confusing thing is that a lot of naysayers (won’t use the d word) call themselves skeptics when they actually aren’t at all skeptical of each other’s myriad bad ideas that come to this forum.

        Jim D: I’ve never seen online debate work that way on any subject. It doesn’t mean that skeptics aren’t skeptical of other skeptic positions, just that they save their time and energy for the specific debates they know about and care about. (For instance I accept the CO2 greenhouse effect and see no reason to weigh in on the lengthy Dragonslayer discussions.)

        Skeptics are not a uniform group. What we share is a skepticism toward the orthodox position, not unity in how we are skeptical. Since you take the orthodox position you find yourself under fire from just about everyone, which might feel discouraging. I believe the reason this blog’s commenters are so weighted toward skeptics is that skeptics are pushed out of most orthodox blogs via moderation.

        Anyway, similar to Don A’s post, let me say that you conduct yourself with honor and I’m glad you are here.

      • Don- on the contrary, I think there is a clear distinction between sceptics and deniers. Sceptics are characterised by their ability to assess new information and to change their minds accordingly. Deniers are characterised by rigid thinking and reject any information that is inconsistent with their preconcieved ideas.

        Sceptics are curious and open minded, they give equal weight to all arguments and allow the possibility that other perspectives may be valid. Deniers are rigid and closed minded, they do not entertain any perspective that threatens their own belief system.

        Scepticism is vital to science and scientists must respond to the challenges thrown up by sceptics. Blogs like this with its wealth of informed opinion provide a necessary and important function that serves to strengthen the science by exposing its flaws and weaknesses. Science can only be better for it.

        But denial is another kettle of fish entirely. It stultifies debate by refusing to acknowledge other perspectives. It has no discernable function.

      • SJ, I think you are making a psychological distinction which has no scientific merit. How would you measure one’s degree of open or closed mindedness? I find the concept incoherent. Strong belief is not irrational.

      • “Strong belief is not irrational.”

        Strong belief is not (necessarily) irrational, but it is not skepticism either. Global warming deniers have branded themselves as “skeptics” because “I have a strong belief that the science is wrong” does not sound as appealing as “I’m skeptical.” Admit to a strong belief, and the next thing people with ask for is evidence that they should share your belief. This is not available, so the “skeptic” spin was born.

      • Nevertheless David, it is a valid psychological distinction. Whether you believe it has merit or not, it is possible to distinguish between a denier and a sceptic.

        Strong belief in A prediposes the believer not to believe in B, if B contradicts A. And as such could be said to be irrational. It is better for the purposes of conducting scientific enquiry not to have any beliefs at all and to have the capacity to entertain two apparently opposing ideas in the mind at the same time. This is the hallmark of open minded thinking.
        Strong belief in A, when all evidence suggests B is closed mindedness.

        Furthermore, this is can be tested empirically.

      • SJ: You are still incoherent. You say “Strong belief in A prediposes the believer not to believe in B, if B contradicts A. And as such could be said to be irrational.”

        There is nothing irrational about this. I believe (A) that the earth goes around the sun so I do not believe the contradictory proposition (B) that the sun goes around the earth. Same for (A) Chicago is in Illinois, not (B) New York, and so on for billions of things. Knowledge is a form of belief so everything we know rules out a huge number of alternative possibilities. This is not irrational, it is necessary.

        But then you change the game to “Strong belief in A, when all evidence suggests B is closed mindedness.” I agree, in fact it is a form of insanity. But this has nothing to do with the climate debate, where the evidence is mixed, so the “all evidence” rule does not apply.

      • David –

        Do you not think that there are participants in the debate – on both sides – who are more (or less) overtly driven by, and inflexible about examining, ideological and/or partisan orientation?

        Do you not think that there are degrees to which ideological and/or partisan orientation can be manifest in how someone interprets scientific evidence in the face of controversy?

      • And BTW, David —

        If I’ve caught your eye — you posted a link a few threads back that showed an interesting graph of satellite data. From those data, it seems, you have formulated the opinion that (outside of the isolated effects of ENSO), there is no long-term warming. Yet, as I look at the graph that you linked, I see warming that is independent of the 1998-2001 ENSO cycle. There seems to be a contradiction there. Could you explain? Is this a matter of how “long-term” is defined?

        And maybe you could explain just a bit more how you think that the longer term warming as shown by that graph “falsifies” AGW theory? Is it that the warming that graph shows from 1979 to 2011 is not of the same magnitude as AGW theorists predicted? Would that negate the theory, or only make the calculations of sensitivity seem more uncertain?

      • David-You say that knowledge is a form of belief, whereas I would distinguísh between knowledge and belief, just for the joy of a little semantic game playing! There is an important distinction between the two.

        I know the Earth goes round the sun- this is a fact determined by centuries of observation. It is certainly within the mind tis true, but there is no need for me to entertain the contradictory proposition that the sun goes round the Earth because that is false. It would sound a little odd if I were to say I believe the Earth goes round the sun.

        Science itself exists because of this distinction between what we know and what we believe. I can believe any old thing I want, but knowledge requires painstaking enquiry.The process of scientific enquiry demands I examine my beliefs in the light of empirical evidence in order to arrive at truth. Look at advances in medicine for example- how beliefs about the body were replaced by knowledge, to underscore the distinction between the two concepts.

        Reasoning about the world is distinct from holding beliefs about the world. Reasoning may lead to knowledge whereas beliefs may be erroneous, especially if they are never held up to scrutiny.

        I think this is very relevant to the climate debate, and to this thread, which is about changing minds. Minds can only change if they are prepared to examine their beliefs in the light of new information. The scientific method requires open mindedness; minds who are prepared to look anew, without preconceptions , into the problems that face us.

      • SJ: The standard definition of knowledge that I use (from epistemology, my field) is “justified true belief.” Belief is the acceptance of a proposition as true, so knowledge is an important subset of belief. You may be using the term belief is some undefined psychological sense, but please interpret what I say using my definition.

        The point remains that there is nothing irrational in rejecting as false a claim that contradicts what one believes to be true. I do it all the time when I correct people, or when I read the tabloids, hear rumors, etc. It is only irrational when the evidence against one’s belief is overwhelming, which is not the case in the climate debate. In fact many forms of irrationality are merely forms of rationality carried to extremes.

        In fact debating one’s beliefs, against contrary evidence, is the opposite of having a closed mind, so nobody here has a closed mind. Debating, by definition, requires carefully considering the opposing position. If anyone has a closed mind it is those who will not debate, or even consider, the opposing position. I think AGW proponents may have the edge here, but that is an empirical question.

        If you want to continue this you might glance at my textbook on issue analysis and complex reasoning. Note that while I use simple minded examples it all applies to the climate debate as well. What I like most about my discovery is how sophisticated ordinary reasoning actually turns out to be. See

      • The point remains that there is nothing irrational in rejecting as false a claim that contradicts what one believes to be true.I do it all the time when I correct people, or when I read the tabloids, hear rumors, etc. It is only irrational when the evidence against one’s belief is overwhelming, which is not the case in the climate debate.

        That is a very interesting statement, David. It is very binary in nature.

        What about the possibility that when you see a claim that conflicts with your belief, a very real possibility is that your interpretation of the evidence is not necessarily more or less valid than the interpretation underlying the opposing viewpoint – but occurs because your starting orientation is different than those who old an opposing opinion. As such, when confronted with contradictory interpretation of similar evidence, the first step should be to examine ones own biases and explore potential biases underlying the opposing perspective?

        That, to me, given what we know about a inherent tendency towards motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, etc., that affects us all, is the most “rational” reaction.

      • David –

        . It is only irrational when the evidence against one’s belief is overwhelming, which is not the case in the climate debate.

        And please note – this statement also seems to ignore the inherently subjective nature of what it means to interpret what meets the bar of being “overwhelming.”

      • Joshua, you ask “Do you not think that there are degrees to which ideological and/or partisan orientation can be manifest in how someone interprets scientific evidence in the face of controversy?”

        First of all, everyone interprets evidence in light of who they are, and in everyone that includes ideological and/or partisan orientation. This is one reason why reasonable people of good will can look at the same evidence and come to opposite conclusions. People are different.

        But you ask if there are degrees involved? I really have no idea, in part because the concept of ideological and/or partisan orientation is so vague. I doubt the question is answerable, plus it seems pointless. People are who they are.

      • Joshua, you say “…when confronted with contradictory interpretation of similar evidence, the first step should be to examine ones own biases and explore potential biases underlying the opposing perspective?”

        Beliefs are not biases. Disagreement is often real.

      • Beliefs are not biases. Disagreement is often real.

        I might question that in an absolute sense: I think that we have data that show otherwise.

        But that is more of an abstract argument than the one I’m making here. My point is that within reason, the first step is to acknowledge the possibility that one’s beliefs reflect biases rather than objective analysis of data. This is particularly true when you have seemingly rational people who interpret data to support diametrical conclusions.

        Only by acknowledging that possibility – and as a first step seeking to control for that possibility – can own even approach distinguishing the degree to which various beliefs are influenced by bias.

      • And as a case in point – look at Keenan’s statements that BEST’s results wouldn’t pass introductory-level scrutiny of statistical methodology.

        I mean seriously, scientists who win a Nobel prize for statistical analysis (note that Al Gore does not fit that descriptor) would produce results that don’t pass introductory-level scrutiny?

        I would argue that someone in that debate is not recognizing the bias in their belief.

      • Joshua, you ask “…maybe you could explain just a bit more how you think that the longer term warming as shown by that graph “falsifies” AGW theory?” This is off topic, except that my belief that AGW is falsified is relatively new, so a change of mind. (I would describe a skeptic as one who thinks AGW merely not proven, while a denier thinks AGW is actually falsified.)

        First of all, warming is an actual change. There was no warming from 1978-1997. There was no warming from 2001 – now. The only warming lies in the fact that the second period of no warming is warmer than the first period. This is called a step function in math. What you are calling a longer term trend is actually a single step.

        The step event of warming is coincident with the big ENSO cycle, so probably causally related, but I have no theory about the mechanism. But I know of no mechanism whereby the slow buildup of GHGs can produce such a step event. Given that this step event is the only warming in the last 30+ years, there is therefore no evidence whatever of GHG warming. AGW is therefore falsified due to a complete lack of evidence. It is very simple.

        Of course the AGW proponents can always try to find a theory-saving explanation, whereby the slow buildup of GHGs somehow translates into a single step function, but until they do AGW is falsified.

        If you want to discuss this at length we can take it to the bottom and start a new thread.

      • Joshua, you say “My point is that within reason, the first step is to acknowledge the possibility that one’s beliefs reflect biases rather than objective analysis of data.”

        Where does this “first step” claim come from? I do no tsee people doing this when they reason. Reasoning is what people do, not your theory of what they should do.

      • David –

        Re: step event of warming – see

      • David –

        Reasoning is what people do, not your theory of what they should do.

        Point taken. But my point relates to the question of what is “rational.” Sure, people don’t always do what is rational. That statement seems axiomatic. Is it “rational” to not first look for what biases might affect your beliefs, particularly when they are in conflict to the beliefs of other seemingly “rational” people who interpret evidence differently than you?

        Gotta go – I’ll check back later.

      • Joshua, in my view, as someone who has studied rationality for 40 years, people almost always do what is rational. I regard claims to the contrary as facile rhetoric, along the lines of “everyone is crazy except me” or “me and the people who agree with me.” You seem to be arguing that rational people should not disagree, so there must be something wrong with their reasoning, which you call bias, but I see no reason to accept this strong claim. Different people have different beliefs an belief is not bias.

        As for your prescription, I would not know how to look for your hypothetical biases, nor what to do if I found one. I think you are proposing a new theory of human behavior. Good luck with that. Speaking of which I did a quick literature search on confirmation bias and it seems to be controversial within psychology whether it even exists. I personally doubt it does exist, to any important degree.

        To put it another way, in inductive logic the weight of evidence is subjective. This does not make inductive reasoning irrational, quite the contrary.

    • Richard Saumarez

      I think many “sceptics” would agree that there is an anthropogenic component to global warming. The questions are: How much and does it matter enough to completely transform the industrialised world?

      I would agree that the question is highly polarised, but my impression is that many sceptical commentators on this blog have genuine scientific experience and question the underlying science. Your final statement on the scientific case for AGW is not an argument and for that reason, I would caution you against intellectual arrogance.

      • Dear Richard- thankyou for your interesting comment. Does global warming matter? That is a very interesting question. Is it important enough to dismantle industrialised society? That of course is a key question. Does it depend on how much anthropogenic global warming will destabilise the climate? A crucial question. And if scientific enquiry, including sceptics, is asking these questions then it is of vital importance that we get the science right.

        Perhaps mainstream science and sceptics should move on to the same page here to address these questions in the spirit of sceptical scientific enquiry. Sceptics have often accused the scientists of not listening to their concerns, but it has been my impression that sceptics do not listen to the scientists either.

        We all need to root out preconcieved conceptions and be more open to new information if the science is to progress.

        Sceptics would do themselves, and science, a great service if they took it upon themselves to correct the misinformation, lies and half truths put about by deniers. Maybe then we could find common ground from which to build a truly objective scientific understanding about how human activity is affecting the climate and what to do about it.

      • SJ: This is not about scientists versus skeptics. In fact that line is part of the pro-AGW “misinformation, lies and half truths” so you might take your own advice and take it upon yourself to correct it. There are pro-AGW scientists and skeptical scientists, and the same for well informed non-scientists. This is a technical debate.

      • I am glad to hear it. The aim of this enquiry is to establish the truth about global warming is it not- irrespective of “strong beliefs”? We are on the same page after all.

  73. Faced with The Question.
    My mind reels.
    It’s a simple question and I like answering questions.
    What have I learned?
    Or “How your views have evolved over the last year.”
    It’s a very good question to ask any US president or any politician- assuming they would actually answer it.
    This climate debate is mostly political.
    The aspect of it being political has been something I
    wished to mostly avoid, instead I have mostly been interested
    in getting my questions answered.
    So what I changed my view on is I thought Climate Etc
    and what Dr Curry was doing was to engage in the
    political aspect of climate debate, and going along with this
    idea was my idea that this going to be a huge waste of time.
    And it more less has been exactly that. A large amount of time spent seemly going nowhere. But this has been very important whereas
    I would have thought it would not be possible to be very important.

    So the analogy being I thought Curry was entering the issue
    resolving the middle east conflict.
    How is that going to end well?
    Curry has been the ambassador, and actually has
    done what any good ambassador does.
    Does this mean this middle east conflict is resolved?
    That might never happen. That isn’t the function
    of what ambassador does. What an ambassador does is getting
    the opposite sides to argue- to give their side.
    To find out what the important issues of the conflict actually are.

    This doesn’t mean I am suddenly interested in the political, but I was
    surprised that a political process could actually get somewhere- not
    sure where it’s gotten, but there seems “an air” of going somewhere.
    I would recommend that no one gets their hopes up.

    As for what I have learned, I don’t think many would regard it as something learned as much as something I misunderstand [which could be more or less right:)].

  74. It was a nice thread until the derailing crew showed up.

    • The thing is – one of them is apparently an incredibly renowned climate scientist (even though his website claims, amazingly modestly, that he is merely a ‘layman’). Hence the extra tolerance for his trollish behaviour.

    • They do not want to admit the possibility that people change their minds.

  75. Judith, for the sake of those intelligent and sincere posters who want to carry on a useful discussion unimpeded by childish churlishness, please ban Josh-ua, Robert, and myself. OK, I know you find me charming and you don’t want me to go to a competing blog, so you can just go ahead and ban those two. I will agree to stay.

  76. Judith,

    It seems the hospitality of your house has decreased somewhat of late.

    Some moderation might restore it to former glory.


  77. Have my views evolved as a result of participating here?

    Probably there has been no significant evolution in my perspective on the global climate change problem over the past year or so. And, not that I have been keeping track, I tend to think to first order, that there has also been little or no significant change in opinion on the topic of global climate change. People who seemed to understand the basic aspects of global warming continued to express the same opinions, while those who did not appear to understand, continued to express the same opinions as before. There must be some deeper underlying psychology as to how people come to believe what they believe, and why people then are slow to change their minds, whether the topic is politics, religion, or climate science.

    That being said, I am also impressed that, to Judy’s credit, this blog has stayed on topic as much as it has without being hijacked by extraneous effort to promote deliberate misinformation. The steady performance has also been made possible by the steady informative commentary by Fred, and others.

    The diversity of opinion that has been expressed on the nature of the climate change problem, originates perhaps, as in the case of the blind fakirs of Hindustan, from different individuals having very diverse but confined points of view, depending on their past experience, who have come to view the elephant of climate change from their own individual perspective.

    From a more personal perspective, what is there that I might have gained from my participation here? Clearly, if there were nothing to be gained, then why bother. For one thing, keeping the public informed on global warming is part of my job description. But also important is seeing what aspects of climate change are being understood, what points are not being understood, and what points are being misunderstood. All this is helpful in formulating clearer and more focused arguments as to what is going on in the climate system, and why.

    As for Fred’s many postings here on various aspects of global climate and climate change, I hope that he might consider pulling all of his material together and write a book – “A Layman’s View on Global Climate”, or perhaps more authoritatively, “A Doctor’s View on Global Climate”. Climate etc. might have a wide readership, but there is broader audience that would benefit from Fred’s many analyses and interpretation of climate science as we know it. Pekka could well do the same – in his case it would be a bit more technical book.

    • Andy, I’d like to know your opinion on the tropical upper troposphere “hot spot”.


      • David,
        There are a number of postings that RealClimate has done on this topic. The tropical upper troposphere is difficult to observe either from satellite platform or from the ground. It is also complicated from the modeling point of view in that it is affected both by atmospheric dynamics and by being sensitive to the vertical gradients of water vapor and ozone.

        I am looking forward to a global coverage in the near future of GPS radio occultation measurements which will provide accurate monitoring of stratospheric (and tropospheric) temperatures to within about 0.1K.

    • Andy – Thanks for your comment. I don’t think I’m up to writing a book, and there are already many out there with various levels of sophistication from the non-technical to the most intricately detailed. On the other hand, I’ve become interested in seeking opportunities to talk to audiences and have begun to give talks on the subject of climate change from my position as what I call a “knowledgeable non-expert”. (One is scheduled for this coming Thursday at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA.)

      Blog participation is fine for communicating with people who already have a significant interest in the subject, but less useful for communicating with other intelligent members of the public. Also, I enjoy the personal interaction with audiences – it’s a more effective way to reach out to audiences than posting a YouTube video, and I get to learn things from the interaction that I wouldn’t if it were all one-way. I should add that it isn’t easy to get invited to do this, and I’m surprised the climate establishment isn’t more eager to engage the participation of outsiders like me. A couple of years ago I joined the AGU and submitted an article to EOS on the role of “the knowledgeable non-expert” in climate communication. After a long delay, EOS wrote back to reject my article on the grounds that the subject had already been well covered. I think they are wasting opportunities.

      • I have an invited talk at AGU on communicating with knowledgeable non experts! i will open this topic up for discussion next week (with my AGU abstract).

      • Just to clarify, you are talking about scientists communicating with knowledgeable non-experts, and Fred is talking about knowledgeable non-experts communicating with the public. I sense a separation of issues here in how these two types of communication would be addressed, or are there common themes?

      • Jim – Yes, I missed that distinction. The communication can work in more than one direction, but my main interest is in communicating with the public at a level that involves evidence rather than dogma and oversimplification..

      • Judy’s posts are always informative, and this is the first reason I’ve been visiting the blog every day.

        The second reason is the input from Fred, Andy, and others also attracts me come here. Especially I learn from Fred the way of properly expressing his viewpoint “in English” – Chinese is my native language and I got my Ph.D in China.

        BTW, Prof. Denning’s article on UCAR magazine on communication of climate science may be of topic here:

        Denning’s article

    • Richard Saumarez

      I would like to know your views on parameter sensitivity and observability in large, coupled systems of non-linear ordinary and partial differential equations?

      Given the difficulty in describing far simpler systems, can you reassure me that the results of GCMs are interpretable?

      Are the equations well conditioned?. Would you like to explain to us you views on the eigenstructure of the equations you use?

      Are you convinced that the physics of all the internal processes within the models are sufficiently well determined?

      Could you outline the results of perturbation analysis in your equations?

      I realise that a full explanation would be a very long post, but there are a number of people who converse on this blog have practical experience of using complex models and testing their predictions by experiment.

      Obviously we are humbled by the power of your intellect, but possibly you could find time to show us lowly sceptics the errors of our ways.

    • Dr. Lacis
      As Dr. Curry and co-authors have stated, the AMO appears to have a very important impact on the natural climate change, without the extent of which it is somewhat misleading to attribute the main long term change role to any competing factor.
      The AMO can not be properly incorporated into global climate scenario without detailed understanding of the North Atlantic, in particular two areas on either side of the Greenland-Scotland ridge acting as counter weights on the ‘Atlantic inflow – the Arctic overflow’ scales. The AMO is a consequence of the above, and than in turn an important cause too. If there is a noticeable cooling in the forthcoming decade then there were signs of it perceivable some time ago.

  78. I’ve only had a chance to participate recently, and even haven’t had much chance to follow, although I’ve dropped in now and then since early on.

    I’d say I haven’t changed my general opinion by much if any. Think of it as a model, only some of the parameters have changed. I have a bit more confidence in the science, but I’m still skeptical about the number of possible problems that haven’t been resolved and won’t be if things continue in the IPCC fashion.

    The recent pre-publication release of the BEST papers and data has reassured me somewhat. It means there probably hasn’t been much (if any) actual scientific malpractice, despite clear evidence of efforts to block replication and audit by outsiders. Pending better information, I have to conclude that those responsible lacked confidence in their own work, and colluded in efforts to hide the uncertainty in the IPCC reports.

    I still think the science needs to be “tightened up”, work needs to be poked and pried at much more. I also think that the IPCC process is very suspicious, if not pretty rotten. It’s easy enough for even a peer-reviewed paper to use a bunch of perfectly good references, quote or reference them accurately, yet come to a conclusion none of the authors of those references would agree with. That can go through peer review, and get published, and it’s only in the response from the scientific community that (provisionally) final judgement can be rendered. Or not, if the results remain debatable.

    Yet the IPCC has perverted peer review for its reports, ignores critical comments, and relies on a small in-crowd of participants and ideological fellow-travelers to keep post-publication criticism from being published in peer-reviewed venues.

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to understand that the problem with the IPCC seems to be mostly the political gang at the top, along with a small coterie of scientists willing to subvert the process for ideological purposes. I’m still convinced the IPCC’s gotta go, but it seems that just means eliminating the political superstructure and blocking a small number of ideological scientists from participating in the organizational decision-making.

    As I understand it, most of the actual scientists who participate in creating the major reports are independent of the IPCC itself, and they could do pretty much the same thing under the supervision of a board like the one of the Novim Group. This group might be tasked, for instance, to come up with the equivalent of the WG1 report, in full transparency, with alternative opinions documented. They would then set up a process, select personnel, define detailed objectives, and run the process with some version of the same sort of public comment process as they used in their recent release. Valid comments should receive response, and the larger scientific community should be able to judge that response. A response such as “too far outside the paradigm” might be appropriate for, say problems about how the sun is made of iron, but if offered for many of the comments rejected in AR4, would hopefully result in public outcry by many in the scientific community.

    The major issue with the science seems to be in funding, between the rabid competition for research funds, and the ability of the ideological in-crowd to influence funding decisions. Reducing uncertainty means, among other things, substantial funding for research into plausible alternatives to the dominant paradigm. The most important outcome of the first report from this new approach would be identifying alternative explanations (e.g. the Urban Heat Island “effect”, see Wickham et al. 2011) and mysteries (e.g. the apparent negative UHI in Wickham et al. 2011) which should then be funded for further research.

    My increased confidence regarding the UHI, for instance, is partly predicated on the fact that auditors who know much more than I do will be poking and prying at it trying to break it. But also on my expectation that further research will take place on the subject. It’s important (IMO) to set up a process whereby uncertainties are identified, and appropriate targets for research identified, so that they can be reduced.

    As for the issue of anthropogenic causes, I find if highly doubtful that the recent temperature rise (whatever it is) isn’t primarily due to increased CO2. Given the progress of the Industrial Revolution I find it hard to believe that increased CO2 doesn’t result from human activity. But I’m certainly not convinced that fossil carbon is the primary “cause” (remembering that cause and effect are an artifact of the human brain). This unjustified assumption needs to be questioned, and substantial research into marine ecology, among other subjects, is needed.

    Similarly, I’m not convinced that a 2-3 degree rise in global average temperature would really make that much difference. Pending much better climate models, I’m not convinced the Antarctic would melt, and even if it did, over 2-3 decades, I don’t see that as a really serious issue for human existence, prosperity, and even lifestyle.

    The issue of ocean acidification is much more serious, IMO, although I haven’t seen any real research indicating it would be an existential threat to humanity. Given the uncertainty regarding how the excess CO2 came to be in the atmosphere, I favor a concentration on remediation rather than mitigation or even adaptation. (Although the latter would be a good thing anyway, since we can’t know what curves nature might throw at us no matter what we do to atmospheric CO2.)


    Wickham, C., Curry, J., Groom, D., Jacobsen, R., Muller, R., Perlmutter, S., Rohde, R., Rosenfeld, A., Wurtele, J. (2011) Influence of Urban Heating on the Global Temperature Land Average Using Rural Sites Identified from MODIS Classifications Submitted

    • I’m not convinced the Antarctic would melt, and even if it did, over 2-3 decades, I don’t see that as a really serious issue for human existence, prosperity, and even lifestyle.

      What? Did you misplace a word there somewhere? The Antarctic is not likely to melt over 2-3 decades, but in the unlikely event that that happened, you are talking about 200 feet of sea level rise.

      Maybe you meant to say the Arctic?

      • Based on history, that wouldn’t be a serious threat. In fact, IMO, it might even have a positive effect on human politics. Do you have any idea how many people are doing makework jobs right now? Much less their current jobs could be automated pretty easily, freeing both groups up to help build the new technology needed.

        It’s not like we’d need any fundamental breakthroughs to deal with such a problem, just more imaginative application of what we already know. And the imagination is there. Look how fast our information system grew in 20 years.

      • Based on history, that wouldn’t be a serious threat.

        OK . . . two hundred foot sea level rise is not a serious threat . . . I think we now have the context to evaluate the credibility of any other claims AK might make. Good talk.

      • Oh, if it happened over the space of a year or two, it would be a disaster. But not an existential threat to the species.

      • I think we now have the context to evaluate the credibility of any other claims AK might make.

        I’m not arguing from authority, here. I give my opinion, with what I consider appropriate backing and references. I expect people to judge for themselves. And yes, I’m convinced that if we really needed to stop emitting carbon in 2-3 decades, as a world population, we could get space solar power rolled out across the world in that time. The challenges would be more political and economic than technical. IMO.

      • But not an existential threat to the species.

        Neither is the cost of mitigating against the risk of the serious climatic consequences.
        You could use a similar argument to justify all sorts of things. Like abolishing the US military. OK the Chinese may invade but they aren’t an existential threat to the species either.
        The cost of defence against global warming is much less than than the costs of defence against any foreign power.

      • The cost of defence against global warming is much less than than the costs of defence against any foreign power.

        Perhaps, depending on how you go about it. Crashing the world’s economy would probably crash civilization. I don’t regard that as necessarily a threat to the species, as long as the nukes don’t come out to play. (But if the world’s economy were crashing, what’s the chance they wouldn’t.) But even without nukes, a crashed economy probably counts as a higher cost than anything that might come out of cancelling the defense budget.

        I’m still convinced remediation would be cheaper, faster, and much more politically feasible than trying to cut emissions. Moreover, if we use biotechnology, it will probably grow exponentially, which means our ability to draw down CO2 would extend to whatever’s actually causing the increased atmospheric CO2, whether it’s fossil carbon or something else.

      • “Oh, if it happened over the space of a year or two, it would be a disaster. But not an existential threat to the species.”

        There is no way that Greenland of Antarctic could lose all it’s ice in less than a century. Alaska is far warmer than either of them. And it’s unlike all glaciers could melt in Alaska in a 100 years- regardless of any wikd increase in average temperature

        This can said definitively due to sheer scale of ice.
        If you put the quantity of ice in Antarctic in the middle Pacific in the tropical zone [ocean temperature current above 26 C] .
        How years would take to melt.
        So much ice would change whatever climate you put it in. If move the Antarctic to the pacific, it might increase snowfall- it might add more ice before it eventually melted.

      • @gbaikie…

        I’m not coming at it from a climate perspective, but from a technology perspective. Sure, I’m confident that it’s not going to happen, but if it did, I’m confident our civilization could deal with it.

    • “I’m not coming at it from a climate perspective, but from a technology perspective. Sure, I’m confident that it’s not going to happen, but if it did, I’m confident our civilization could deal with it.”

      Oh, well sure it, such a thing could create income growth, far better for economy than hiring a bunch EPA and creating work via regulation.
      It would create a bit of confusion- property near the beach is pretty expensive. So it’s a political problem. The simple solution would be abandon the infrastructure and not build some huge wall.
      A compromise of retreating a few miles, removing all structure and build a smaller sea wall might be a good solution.
      Or Adaption without moving anything- a Venice type thing might also be interesting.

      • Personally, I think buildings that float will soon be cheaper to build than buildings that sit on (or in) the ground. When you get big enough, floatation becomes a pretty simple problem, AFAIK.

        I could see a general direction where the cities move off-shore, even if the sea level doesn’t rise. For that matter, longer term, floating all our living space on the water might well be the way it happens. That could leave the land to return to nature.

      • So that’s your plan is it? Allow sea levels to rise and we all move into gigantic floating cities?

        I’m not sure about everyone else but I quite like my little plot of terra firma to live on. Its worth quite a bit in these times of high real estate prices. Last time I checked, similar sized areas of sea bed weren’t worth anything at all!

        Your plan doesn’t make any economic sense as far as I and many millions of others like me are concerned.

      • Well, since it’s not going to happen, you don’t have anything to worry about.

      • AK,

        So, what you’re saying is that a general warming and a rise in sea levels wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But even you’re wrong about that, they aren’t going to happen anyway and you’re definitely not wrong in saying that!

      • @tempterrain…

        I was just trying to shut you down because I don’t want to waste time on an irrelevant debate. Seems everybody really conversant with the models thinks it’s not going to it can’t happen, so why debate how bad it would be if it did.

        But I’ll be certain to link to gbaikie’s and Roger’s assurances that it won’t happen, if I find it as a scare-reference by some over-the-top alarmist.

  79. I came here when Judith was being shunned by the Team. I had little time for the Team and that shunning, with its vitriol, confirmed my view.

    I look at climate change from a policy perspective rather than a scientific one. The science fascinates me but my deeper interest is at the intersection of science and policy.

    Up until 2007, consensus positions, based upon what was seen to be legitimate, peer reviewed, responsible science made the running. The public was buying in and earnest people were modifying their lives to, they thought, help save the planet.

    Doubt, however, had begun. Steve McIntyre and the tone deaf climate scientists did their dance. The climate scientists grew more shrill. Climategate clobbered the climate scientists’ credibility. (The subsequent “investigations” simply added fuel to the fire.)

    Part of that doubt rested on the climate scientists’ claims of certainty: while most climate scientists did not say “the science is settled” you certainly did not hear IPCC lead authors touting the importance of recognizing uncertainty or contradicting Al Gore.

    When Judith began to blog the idea of a senior climate scientist acknowledging the uncertainty involved in climate models, attribution, heat/energy balances or even the basic effects of clouds was refreshing. “We don’t know” and “We can’t tell” are useful phrases.

    We do know and can tell what the costs of carbon dioxide capture are. And we can come up with pretty good numbers on the costs of windmills and solar. The costs of abatement strategies are relatively easy to calculate. But the benefits of such policies, where much of the science is uncertain, are less easily determined.

    Reading this blog for a year has underscored just how difficult scientists find it to communicate the uncertainty inherent in their work. And, in a sense, climate scientists have painted themselves into a corner with unqualified high numbers on temp, storms, cyclones and so on.

    Judith seems to recognize the need for there to be a collective “reset” in the scientific conversation and in the public discourse. She has persuaded me that, if climate scientists paid more attention to integrity and modesty, there might be a future for the discipline. A year ago I would have recommended scrapping the compromised science, the rigged journals and opaque research operations and starting over. Now, I am not so sure. Judith’s personal example of being able to see clearly and speak her mind suggests that climate science, in a normal rather than “post normal” manner, may have a future.

    However, everything I have read here has confirmed my view that, in its current state, climate science is not certain enough or legitimate enough for policy makers to use in decision making. No government should impose a new tax or re-allocate resources based upon what might charitably be described as the imprecise and uncertain predictions of an infant science.

  80. Dr. Curry:
    I have learned that a big mistake has been made by the writers of climate and atmosphere science books. The writers simplified the complex atmosphere by assuming that it is transparent to visible and shortwave radiations, which is not. This assumption essentially rendered the atmosphere void and null, and surface energy balance became radiative, just like Mercury, which is not. For those who are willing to address the complex nature of the atmosphere without this flawed assumption, a whole science of the atmosphere and climate is still out their waiting to be discovered .

    So what have you learned from Climate Etc. Dr. Curry?

  81. Changing a personal stance can be difficult, for some people, I’m told. I’m different of course! I did change my opinion on nuclear power several years ago due to the AGW issue. I felt that the balance of the arguments had definitely been changed so I have to say that it wasn’t such a difficult process on my part. I also like to think I’m rational enough to change my opinion on anything if the evidence is there to show I should.

    Could I change my opinion on AGW too? Well yes I could. Sure. I don’t have any particular reason for wanting to believe that AGW is a serious issue. I’d rather it didn’t exist as problem, definitely. Even if I were a public bureaucrat, paid to think up new ways of increasing taxation, which incidentally I’m not and do actually run my own electronics business, I wouldn’t want to rely on scientists of any sort to justify new ways of raising taxation. My opinion will probably change in line with any shift in mainstream scientific opinion unless, in the very unlikely event, I happen to shift careers into climate science, become a world expert, and feel confident enough to express a truly independent opinion.

    It’s interesting to see how various proponents go about the discussion and I’m always impressed by how Fred patiently and politely constructs his case. However, I can’t help feeling that is the wrong approach. At least 99% of those who describe themselves as climate sceptics are never going to be convinced by any sort of scientific argument. The response to BEST is a typical example. They may have been largely positive about the group beforehand but as soon as they see the results they come out with all the same old nonsense.

    It’s a bit disappointing but I’ve learned that there are no bridges to be built.

    • tempt,

      What is your definition of a climate skeptic? Would someone who believes the consensus description of the basic physics of radiative transfer, and is persuaded that a doubling of CO2 should result in an increase in global temp of about 1-1.5C (excluding feedbacks) be among the 99%+ of dumb skeptics who are impervious to scientific argument? Is a dumb impervious skeptic anyone who doesn’t blindly align his/her opinion, as you proudly admit you do, with whatever the mainstream scientists (as codified by the freaking IPCC) have to say, at any particular time?

      If BEST had found that there was insufficient justification in the data to make a determination on the temperature trend, would you and other of the consensus faithful say that is about what you would expect, out of a skeptic operation that relied on advice from Anthony Watt, and was funded by the Koch brothers? Do you accept their claim that UHI is actually negative, contrary to the fact that the UHI is a well known measured scientific fact, and everybody knows that it ain’t cooler in cities than in the countryside? Has the mainstream ever said that UHI is negative? Doesn’t it piss you off that BEST would say so?

      You are not interested in building bridges. You are interested in being smug, comfortable, and safe in the company of other sheep, following obediently behind your mainstream shepherd.

      • You ask a few “what if” questions about BEST. Sure, if they had reported differently, it would have caused a wholesale re-evaluation of the current position. On the negative UHI result: I think it is likely to mean its just less positive than it used to be. Not absolutely negative.
        Why not wait for the full release of the paper before jumping to conclusions?

      • tempt.

        You were almost totally unresponsive to my questions. I will help you: If they had not “confirmed” the mainstream science, you would have screamed like a stuck Romm. On the negative UHI effect, without me jumping to any conclusions, BEST said:

        “The effect of urban heating on estimates of global average land surface temperature is studied by applying an urban-rural classification based on MODIS satellite data to the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset compilation of 39,028 sites from 10 different publicly available sources. We compare the distribution of linear temperature trends for these sites to the distribution for a rural subset of 16,132 sites chosen to be distant from all MODIS-identified urban areas. While the trend distributions are broad, with one-third of the stations in the US and worldwide having a negative trend, both distributions show significant warming. Time series of the Earth’s average land temperature are estimated using the Berkeley Earth methodology applied to the full dataset and the rural subset; the difference of these shows a slight negative slope over the period 1950 to 2010, with a slope of -0.19°C ± 0.19 /100yr (95% confidence), opposite in sign to that expected if the urban heat island effect was adding anomalous warming to the record. The small size, and its negative sign, supports the key conclusion of prior groups that urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change.”

        Do you know what a negative sign means? I will help you. It doesn’t mean less positive. It means negative. Follow me so far? Do you think the sign will spontaneously change, by the time the full paper is released? Do I have to speak to you in another language, so that you will understand what I am talking about? Baahhhh! Baahhh!

      • No, I think you’re wrong there. What has been measured is the change in the period 1950 to 2010. The UHI effect wasn’t zero in 1950.

        You’re also wrong about the screaming. I do like to consider “what if ” types of scenarios and, on raising these, usually get the reply, from climate sceptics, that “if my aunt had been a male she would be my uncle etc etc” but that’s a cheap point to make. If the BEST group had come to a different conclusion, either greater or less warming, then it wouldn’t have changed anything overnight, but it would certainly have caused extensive further debate. Furthermore, if it were then shown they were right, and previous studies had been wrong, then that would have been the new consensus.

        However, they didn’t. They agreed with previous studies of the surface temperature record, so just accept it, get over it, and move on!

      • This is going over your head.

        + (plus) is positive, and – (minus) is negative, that’s consensus

        Do I have to get Dr. Doolittle in here to translate this stuff for you?

        I didn’t say that the UHI effect was zero in 1950. It wasn’t negative either. And since 1950, would you say that cities have gotten bigger, or smaller? Have people migrated out of cities to sites distant from all MODIS-identified urban areas, or would it be the other way around? Do you think that anybody but a moron would believe that it actually got warmer in rural areas than it did in growing urban areas, from 1950 to 2010? Has anybody ever made that claim, before this week? Hello!

      • Don,

        I think you’ve rejected the BEST findings not because of any particular concerns you have over their handling of UHI effect but because you don’t like their overall conclusions. I may be wrong in my interpretation that the negative sign is relative to 1950 rather than absolute, but equally I’m sure you don’t know enough to say for sure either.

        Lets just leave it until we see a full release of the paper.

      • You are really thick:

        “Time series of the Earth’s average land temperature are estimated using the Berkeley Earth methodology applied to the full dataset and the rural subset; the difference of these shows a slight negative slope over the period 1950 to 2010, with a slope of -0.19°C ± 0.19 /100yr (95% confidence), opposite in sign to that expected if the urban heat island effect was adding anomalous warming to the record.”

        Learn how to read.

      • Don,

        As Judith is a signatory, so to speak, on these papers, it would be useful if she would give her take on what, I do agree, does seem a somewhat surprising result. If you think I’m “thick”, I must be in good company as you obviously think the whole of the BEST team is “thick” too for daring to publish what the great Don Monfort, with his superior intellect, has decreed to be an obviously incorrect result!

  82. I went from profound disappointment in the quality, character, and abuse of the science to being disgusted, angry, and unforgiving of the quality and character of the scientists.

  83. For those of you who want a Manhattan Project approach, here are a few days’ worth of statistical and probabilistic analyses in climate

    That’s only a small part of one research symposium. Researchers are at public and private universities, and federal labs. Research is funded by the federal and state governments, and by private foundations and large corporations. Computations vastly more complex than the computations carried out by the Manhattan Project are carried out every day on many computational devices of several sizes. Hardware at least as exquisite as the bombs and uranium purification plants has been launched into orbit and placed at sea. There already is a vastly greater effort underway than the Manhattan Project ever was. If you think perhaps a focus is necessary, you might write what it is how to achieve the focus. In my opinion what is necessary is to maintain something like the present rate of research for decades, because the models can only be differentially assessed (as in medical “differential diagnosis”) by decades worth of accurate multivariate time series data, from adequate spatial samples.

    • MattStat, There is a lot of money being spent, but not the sense of urgency or the involvement of the best scientists in the world. Climate scientists are probably as a whole pretty good, but there is a lack of rigor and a shameless political agenda that needs to be changed by involving scientists from outside the current team. I’ll bet you the amount of money is dwarfed by the DOE budget at Los Alamos and Livermore.

      More computing is not the answer here. Bad methods mean that the improvement from bigger computers is often marginal. Trust me on this, the asymptotics of naive numerical methods are pretty bad. There is some great work on finite elements by Demkowicz at UT Austin showing that typical engineering simulations of flexible structures have errors on the order of 10% – 20%. And these problems are trivial compared to climate modeling. It is possible to get down to 1%, but tremendous rigor and care are needed. What is very frustrating, almost shameful in my opinion, is that the methods have already been developed in other fields as well as the rigorous validation methodology.

      You are missing a critical point. If the models are really badly wrong, more decades of data doesn’t help. My opinion is that we can do much much better.

      I would start out by replacing the leadership in climate science, especially Hansen, Trenberth, and Jones. Appoint some statisticians and applied mathematicians to co-lead the groups. Establish a review panel of top engineers and scientists from other fields to review results and progress and pay them to do it. Steve McIntyre might be a good chairman for such a panel. But it should include people from all points of view, not just “experts” in climate science. I get so tired of the use of the respect for authority ploy that we hear so often in this field. Interdisciplinary teams are critical in modern research and it requires a different leadership style, a style that is the opposite of what we have seen in climategate and the IPCC. Judith would be a great new head for one of the groups. And give her a big increase in pay too.

      • Richard Saumarez

        I agree. Dr Lacis, has posted a characteristically humble opinion somehat earlier. I have had the temerity to ask him some rather basic questions about his models. As an unwashed sceptic, I will be interested in his response.

        PS: I would be interested in your views about constructing a complex physical testbed to test mathematical modelling, which I posted as a question to you at 7.28am. If it were ever done, I suspect the results would be revealing.

  84. Has reading these blogs my mind, not really. A small shift perhaps in my views of surface temp data. But nothing to compared to what shifted me from pro to con which was the minimization of previous climate shifts by the pro AGW group. The CAGW movement can thank a certain Wikipedia editor gone wild for thinning the ranks of their CAGW supporters by one.

    After lurking here for a year or so and recently beginning to post It has become more and more obvious to me that most of the people on the climate science side both pro and con CAGW are way to wrapped up in the last 1000 years.

    I have also discovered that I was lucky to make 2.0’s in my prob and stats classes and retained only about 1% the little knowledge managed to retain long enough to take the finals. You guys blow me away with the math here.

  85. I like this post, so I’ll try to contribute. Below is a list from an Engineer’s perspective of things I have changed my mind about since reading this blog:
    1. We know far less about how the earth’s climate works than we thought we did. Let’s go easy on the long range predictions.
    2. A global average atmopheric temperature is of dubious value, even if we knew how to measure it.
    3. Our ability to re-compute old data,re-publish old papers, and fight old battles far outweighs our ability to take new data and publish new papers. Breakthroughs are rare.
    4. We should be spending more time studying the oceans. We don’t really know how ocean temperatures are distributed or if sea levels are rising or falling. It depends on who you read.
    5. Climate changes. Geologists say there is nothing unusual about the current era. It would be a mistake to reorder our society based on what we know now.
    6. Judith is a wonderful Blogger.
    7. Trolls like Robert are a real pain.

  86. The science:
    I became interested in climate science about 3 years ago. I was surprised to learn that CO2 radiative physics alone would only cause about 1C warming for a doubling of CO2, and the climate science community believed that positive feedbacks would cause the warming to be more significant. I was skeptical because a system dominated by positive feedbacks seemed “intuitively implausible”. Now at the end of those three years while my opinions are more nuanced I still believe all of the interesting questions are about the nature of feedbacks (or sensitivity if you like).

    All of the side issues make little difference to the science; the hockey stick(s), climategate, etc. Even the aliasing issue covered so well in Richard’s recent post is unlikely to change the sign of the temperature change for the last 100 years. Sensitivity and non-linearity is where the action is.

    Policy and Politics:
    Scientists, and citizens, need to understand the difference between the probative arguments of science and the normative arguments of policy. Scientists, and citizens, further need to understand that where the normative arguments of policy are concerned their opinions are each equally important.

  87. how your views have evolved over the last year
    In general, I’ve become more skeptical of every branch of science. Oh, I knew that the occasional weak paper would get published, but had no idea the practice of “pal-review” was so wide-spread. I can understand a paper that replicates your favored thesis getting a +1 on your internal rate-o-meter, but shouldn’t get a free-pass on the methods. If the paper replicates your thesis with junk methods/data, they are not doing you (or your pet thesis) a favor.

  88. I will just add that my understanding of climate science has increased greatly though it is still far below quite a few here. Interestingly, it’s the most skeptical posts that get my greatest attention, but they typically don’t result in me changing my mind a lot. They do however provoke me to do a lot more research than less skeptical posts, and I learn more, and sometimes I change my mind a little.

  89. I have learned that uncertainty in climate science isn’t just as a result of skeptics who refuse to accept that “the science is settled” but is a real issue needing to be discussed and understood and “tamed”. I’ve also learned that the more each side get’s entrenched in their own position (no matter how educated they might be), the less able they are to see and consider alternatives…but of course, that lesson goes well beyond the climate change debate!

  90. simon abingdon

    A year ago not nearly enough was known about clouds and the oceans.
    Today not nearly enough is known about clouds and the oceans.

    • and , as long as it provides an excuse for inaction on climate mitigation, you hope there never will be?

      • simon abingdon

        It certainly provides a compelling reason not to start wrecking the world’s economies just in case. We must be mad.

    • Simon,

      I’ve heard several so-called sceptics talk about “ruining the world’s economies”. Yes decarbonisation won’t be cheap, but ruinously expensive? Is this likely?

      WW2 might have seemed ruinously expensive at the time, but, as the ‘sceptical’ argument that the Germans and Japanese were really misunderstood good guys didn’t seem valid, there probably wasn’t much of a choice. There was a high price paid in terms of lost lives of course, but economically the world hasn’t really looked back since. Even the current economic problems are quite minor by comparison to those prior to WW2.

      There are a lot of economic positives to be gained from a successful program of decarbonisation, and there is really no evidence they will be less than the negatives overall.

  91. steven mosher,

    Somewhere upthread, you said:

    “So between the stupid ” natural variation explains everything” and the equally stupid “its all due to man” lies an interesting debate. But we have trouble getting to that debate, trouble I think because the extremes or our perception of what the extremes are control the debate. My bet is that if you asked most people here they would say the temperature we see is the result of both natural and manmade causes. Its funny there is plenty of room for a robust debate within those parameters, but discussions devolve quickly into to fights between ‘symbolic” positions that no one really holds. It’s as if two tribes of strawmen are fighting it out because both sides don’t want to discuss the real issue, it’s like a proxy war.. So we get wars over hockey sticks and wars over plagarized reports to congress. never the real fight. never the real fight because the stakes in the real fight are too big. That’s my theory. meh. falsify that by having the real debate.”

    There are some on both sides who do hold the ‘symbolic’, or maybe it should be called the ‘cartoonish’ positions. There are many on the skeptical side who fit the consensus keepers’ cherished stereotype of Bible-thumping, cigarette -smoking, Republican, knuckle-dragging deniers, who dispute even the possibility of a so-called greenhouse effect. And on the consensus side there are the alarmist, opportunistic, ego-maniacal World-order manipulators like: Al Gore, Jim “Death Train” Hansen, Patchy, Joe Romm, et al. The real problem is that the cartoon characters on the consensus side are in charge over there. They have the big megaphone, all the power, all the funding, and what they are trying to do ain’t funny. And they have proven that they cannot be trusted to be honest about the science. We need to do something about that. Don’t we?

    • Don Montford writes “We need to do something about that. Don’t we?”

      Indeed we do, except that the most important thing is probably being done already. One cannot grow the world economy with current technology, without consuming vaste quantities of fossil fuels. Most practical people realise this, so there is no attempt, politically, to curb the use of fossil fuels. I am a Canadian, and as long as Canada does not start stupid things like carbon taxes, I am happy. Unfortunately in Ontario where I live, we have a Premier and a government who believes in CAGW,

      • Jim,

        And there is California, where I live, that has recently gone green-looney with a cap-and-trade economy killing edict. Then there is Australia, with their suicidal foolishness. The rest of the World has kept relatively sane, with some exceptions, like pommy-land, where the Queen is said to be roaming the halls of various palaces turning off lights, because Her Highness’ fuel bill is going through the roof, as a result of a dumb CAGW scare induced policy designed to produce energy scarcity. Why is it that the English speaking folks seem to be such suckers? If we have any money left over after emptying our treasuries to subsidize Chinese made windmills and solar panels, we will have to send it to the Maldives, to assuage our guilt.

        I am sure some moron will come along and insinuate that the action I seek is the lynching of climate scientists, but what I am advocating is political action. Vote out the CAGW scare-mongering pinheads. It will happen in Australia, the first chance they get. And the pommys will
        probably wake up, after another bone-numbing “snowless” winter or two. But those of us who provide jobs and pay taxes in California will have to vote with our feet. This place is irretrievably left-wing looney.

      • But those of us who provide jobs and pay taxes in California will have to vote with our feet.

        Can we get your promise in writing? It would make a great selling point for future action.

        And there is California, where I live, that has recently gone green-looney with a cap-and-trade economy killing edict. Then there is Australia, with their suicidal foolishness.

        Don’t forget India, which taxes every ton of coal sold, and South Africa, along with the European exchange.
        The energy minister of China is also making noises about a carbon price in 2012
        . . . it appears that there will be much fuel for your bitter tirades in the coming years as the reality-based community leaves you further and further behind.

      • Robert,

        I guess you have not heard of the exodus of tax paying businesses and citizens from California. Do you think it will be reversed by cap-and-trade, and the rolling blackouts that will be necessary to ration electric power in the near future? If I don’t move permanently to my house in Wyoming, as I plan to do when my son goes off to college, I will resign myself to reality and give up the bitter tirades. I can afford to pay the price of the juice, unlike the poor who will only be more numerous in our great state.

        You are correct that many have been making noises about rolling back CO2 emissions. The biggest noise so far, was called Kyoto. What has the reality-based community dreamed up to replace that failed POS? How does it feel to hold the hysterical belief that the world is going to burn up and to be powerless to do anything about it? Must suck for you.

      • We’re now certainly seeing some countries putting a price on carbon and some who aren’t.

        But are the ones who aren’t going to be the winners? Not, if they end up in a minority. At some point, they’ll find their exports levied to make up for their unfair competitive position. So, in that case, the carbon price will still be paid but instead of it going to the exporting country it will end being being exported too!

        So, I’d suggest, in those circumstances it won’t make any economic sense for any country to opt -out.

    • And they have proven that they cannot be trusted to be honest about the science.

      Yes, ‘they’ keep saying there’s a problem. So they must be dishonest mustn’t they?

      We need to do something about that. Don’t we?

      You’ve tried being reasonable and they still won’t listen. So, whatever happens next is just going to be their own doing. Is that what you mean?

      • tempterrain: Neither of your paraphrases are fair.

        Climategate and the Hockey Stick were the dishonest products of the top climate scientists who do have loud megaphones. It is a problem that they are dishonest, not that they say climate change is a problem.

        Your second bit is mindreading or a non sequitur. Don M. writes in a more polarized manner than I would, but seems to be saying that the expensive switching over the world to climate mitigation based on tainted science ought not to proceed until we’ve untainted the science and taken a closer look.

        Works for me.

    • Don,

      Your definition of the outer parameters isn’t quite right. There could well be a human contribution to global warming which is higher than actually measured. It could have been offset by certain amount of natural cooling.

  92. Judith,
    For me, your blog has highlighted the continued unmitigated abuse of statistic used in both peer reviewed scientific papers and in un-reviewed blog discussions. This abuse appears in more scientific fields than I care to list. The latest example is the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, I had hopes that this project would examine the statistical issues. I thought there might be a chance the group would either suggest or develop a statistical model worthy of the task. My analysis of the four papers shows BEST used an even simpler, than the typical reliance on “first-order autoregressive” analytical model. We didn’t need simpler, we need a model that grapples with the complexities inherent in climate system.

    It’s simply impossible to either prove or disprove the science by the mangled assertions, invalid macro statement relying on smoothed data and inference drawn directly from data that is shown in the results and discussions of most climate papers I’ve read.

    On a really positive note, through your blog I’ve learned there are a number of extremely well qualified stats people writing blogs. These people understand the science and stats but are by and large ignored by most people here including those deeply involved in the science. I use these expert blogs to verify and validated my analysis, unlike me they do it for free.


  93. I am no one of consequence, but even so, my point of view has changed ever since I began to visit here, by advise from the Plaza Moyúa blog.
    I have always recycled, and have planted many trees, and taken care of not wasting energy or water, as I am old, and have lived at times when resources were scarce in Spain. I thought the “Inconvenient Truth” documentary had to be true… I thought I had to believe what my betters said was certain.

    But thanks to the blog, which pointed to the Climategate affair, to the Mac Intyre blog, to WUWT, I began to understand things were not so clear. I followed the Chicago ( o was it in Washington? ) ,conference, live, and was able to watch and listen to Dr Curry, as well as to Dr Lindzen and all the other participants. And when this blog began, I followed ever since. ( I already read Dr Curry’s posts in other places ).
    I don’t usually write, as I am no scientist, and have no credentials , but , thanks to this blog, I have been able to look at both sides of many matters, which I used to take too one-sidedly.
    And I am now reading the Donna Laframboise last book in my kindle, thanks to Dr Curry’s ( and Plaza Moyúa’s ) advice. And it is proving to be illuminating.

    So yes, this blog, and others in the internet has helped me change my point of view. And helped me to see, that even old women like me can try to understand, and reach conclusions for themselves.

    For all this I say THANK YOU

    • Viejecita,

      Firstly your comment that “I am no one of consequence” is just a nonsense. We’ve all got talents if we care to use them. Maybe yours aren’t in science, that’s all.

      If they aren’t, and you want the best scientific opinion, then I would suggest you look at what your country’s universities are saying about AGW. If you’ve decided that mainstream science is wrong on any particular issue like AGW, or Evolution, or AIDS/HIV, you’ll easy be able to find plenty of reassurance on that issue on the net. But I’d just ask the question of how you’d know, if you aren’t a scientist, that it was wrong in the first place?

  94. I’ve only participated in two climate blogs to any significant degree. The first was the long-running (several incarnations of 10,000 posts each) Amazon discussion group named “Global warming is nothing but a hoax and a scare tactic,” so named by a firm believer in AGW in response to the exact opposite view by his sister. I jumped ship when Judith started Climate Etc. a little over a year ago.

    I don’t willingly participate in climate blogs that support only one side or the other of the climate debate, for two reasons.

    1. They can’t change my mind.

    2. I can’t change theirs.

    I’ve found both the Amazon marathon and Climate Etc. very educational. Did they change my mind? Of course—if an education leaves your mind unchanged then you received no education and should ask for your tuition back, assuming you paid it in a refundable form.

    I have only once participated in a climate blog unwillingly, and that one only because its owner Grant Foster was attacking me even though I had never even heard of him or his blog. When I was told of this and signed up for the blog in the hope that I might be offered the opportunity to defend myself against the attacks, Foster said my objection to being so attacked was childish, and he deleted my argument explaining my position. I’m a big fan of irony, and judging by Foster’s choice of the name “Open Mind” for his blog, so is he.

    The Amazon and Climate Etc. blogs drew my interest because both sides of the climate debate were strongly represented, maximizing the information flow. This is the social counterpart of the problem of choosing the value of a resistor that will maximize its temperature when connected across a power supply. Too low and it will short out the supply and remain cold. Too high and no current will flow and it will remain cold.

    The maximum temperature is reached for a resistor of value equal to the internal resistance of the supply. With luck one can reach a temperature high enough to shed some light as well as heat.

    I’m as big a fan of Judith’s remarkably effective approach to bringing both sides of the climate debate to the table as I am of Grant Foster’s apparent appreciation of irony.

  95. “2 million times more powerful than a hydrogen bomb is pretty extreme.

    On the bright side, the researchers do not think a Chicxulub-sized impact would unleash the scale of volcanic eruption that would basically wipe out huge numbers of species.

    “Regarding the mass extinction, we saw from our measurements that a Chicxulub-sized impact alone would be too small to cause such a large volcanic eruption as what occurred at the Deccan Traps. Our model shows that the antipodal focusing of the seismic wave from such an impact was hugely overestimated in previous calculations, which used a spherical-Earth model.

    “The Earth’s maximum ground displacement at this point has been calculated to be 15 meters, which is extreme. The first outcome of our model was that this is reduced by a large amount to about three to five meters.”

    With more realistic earth rather than simple sphere not as powerful earthquakes

  96. Judith has invited people to state whether they have changed their minds at all in the course of participating in this blog.

    I became interested in the subject of climate change simply because at the regional level at least, there seems insufficient data to base any conclusions one way or the other.

    I have learnt a lot from people on both sides of the AGW fence but consider that many threads seem to run out of steam because off-topic carping hijacks what might have been an interesting technical discussion.

    IMO climate and the weather just happens and that the dynamics of external influences are highly unpredictable. I am concerned that many models have been used as the basis for political tampering with free market mechanisms for energy production. Models assist our understanding of the processes but are not suitable for prediction.

    Judith may one day to prepare a multiple choice questionnaire in which a lay reader might find out (a) their understanding of the physics behind climate (b) their views on left wing verses right wing political policy-making and (c) whether they are pessimistic or optimistic about the environment, which of course must include climate. I feel that once you find out these three factors about a person, you will find out what position they have taken on the whole issue of climate change.

    I still have my doubts about the validity of the arguments of both sides of the AGW debate and I am consequentially still sitting on the fence.

  97. Judith,

    What I find fascinating is that their is absolutely no place to debate scientific points. Once a conclusion is published, then it become a reference of hard fact. Reference upon reference.
    Any new science cannot fit into the enclosed circle of theories as the “science is settled” mentality prevails at all costs. This created the famous IPCC to run unchallenged and became policies of MANY political parties.

    You should see how many times a politician will use the IPCC platform to defend their decisions. It has generated a great many subsidized wind turbines to be built. Even when the technology stinks. Look at the push for smart cars when the research and technology is barely been looked at yet pushed ahead at any cost.
    The cost of bankrupt economies due to crisis intervention on bad science conclusions should be a wake up call on what our system created.

  98. Your blog and the conversations have pretty much reinforced my opinions.

    Every intensive effort in science and technology has led to new unexpected benefits. Climate Science is not an exception. Preconcieved notions suffer as science advances and the classical physics tend to shine. The trick is still sorting out the truth, aka figuring out what is s##t and what is shinola :)

    • So far the biggest benefit from climate science has been the discovery and/or recognition of natural variability. This really only began to happen in the late 1990’s and is still progressing. The NAS/NRC report on “dec-cen variability” marks the turning point. The practical benefits have been significant as weather forecasters now routinely use this information.

      Another possible benefit is that a growing fraction of the public now recognizes that science is a realm of debate, not merely an accumulator of facts. This may change the way science is taught, where traditionally one typically does not encounter debate and uncertainty until grad school. Time will tell, but we are now seeing climate science debates in middle and high school. This is a different way of looking at science.

      • Oh my. David says: “…the discovery and/or recognition of natural variability…only began to happen in the late 1990’s and is still progressing. The NAS/NRC report on ‘dec-cen variability’ marks the turning point.”

        I referrenced the NAS/NRC report in a reply to Don Aitken to illustrate the fact that studies of natural variability were well underway before 1995.

        But in 1980 a NATO conference was held at which Twenty-seven lecturers spoke [on E]very facet of climate, its variability, and [the] effects of variability on man… .

        In 1976 there were already attempts to asses the ability of GCMs to deal with natural variabilty.

        In 1966 attempts were underway to assess the global character of seasonal variability.

        And so forth.

        I only ask that commenters consult the professional literature before making authoritative-sounding statements of dubious validity.

      • Sorry: “…Don Aitkin…” (not Aitken)

  99. What I love about this blog is that it is like a big poker tournament that never stops. The players change from hour to hour but the game is always on, night or day, and always evolving. New threads spring up, then die off, often to return later. It is frustrating that there are usually more tables playing than one can follow, but that is the nature of the debate.

  100. There have been many interesting posts on this thread, which Fred initially started to check to see how participation on this site (and others?) had resulted in “changing minds” about the validity of the premise that AGW, caused primarily by human CO2 emissions
    a) has been a principal cause of post 1950 warming and
    b) represents a serious potential threat to humanity or our environment.

    I would be interested to read

    1) how many who seriously believed this premise was correct have changed their minds as a result of this or other blog sites

    and conversely

    2) how many who are rationally skeptical regarding the validity of the above-stated premise have changed their minds and now accept it as realistic.

    As a member of category “2”, I have not basically “changed my mind”, although, like Fred, I would say that I have gained new knowledge, which has broadened my view.


    • Helpful recap Max. One of the problems is that, as Lindzen has pointed out countless times, a) by no means implies b). I’m agnostic on a) and think b) is extremely unlikely. My views in that regard have not really changed during the time I’ve been reading Climate Etc.

      The two biggest things I feel I’ve learned from CE are about the importance and intractibility of spatio-temporal chaos from Tomas Milanovic and the disgraceful tampering with Forster & Gregory (as I see it) by AR4 WG1 uncovered by Nic Lewis. Both those were well worth the price of the entrance fee.

      The interactions between Chief Hydrologist and Tomas Milanovic have been a pointer for me of the type of expertise and openness that will be needed to unlock the mysteries of climate. They have been truly inspiring.

      Judith’s leadership of Climate Etc. has been inspired and inspiring. That deserves a separate comment. I’ll have a go at that later today, if time and my own inspiration seem adequate.

      • I think Lindzen’s contention can be made even stronger – I see no reason to doubt a) whatsoever and no reason to believe b) at all.
        It’s something that makes the labelling so preposterous because that position is obviously both convinced AGW and thorough-going sceptic.
        The fact that we have billions being spent on Climate science and the language to describe our beliefs and expectations of 8 year old boggles my mind. No wonder we become tribal in our behaviour.
        How about B(enign)AGW, P(roblematic)GW, D(angerous)GW and C(alamitous)GW.
        Just for starters – and think about the rest of the alphabet when we’ve developed a little sophistication

  101. No need to change my mind as long as my position is supported by the data as follows

    1) I accept the existing global mean temperature data.

    2) I accept the globe is warming.

    3) However, the long-term global warming rate is only 0.06 deg C per decade, not IPCC’s about 0.2 deg C per decade:

    4) IPCC’s greater warming rate of about 0.2 deg C per decade includes the warming rate due to ocean cycles:

    5) Like after the 1880s & 1940s peak, the global mean temperature after the 2000s peak has started its cooling trend:

    6) AGW is not supported by the data so far, as there has not been any change in the long-term global warming rate of 0.06 deg C per decade since record begun about 160 years ago in the 1850s:

  102. This may seem off topic, but it isn’t. Here is a nice piece on using scientific analysis, based on a sound fundamentally scientific foundation, and its use in prediction of the future.
    “The dismal truth about the quality of our predictions had no effect whatsoever on how we evaluated new candidates and very little effect on the confidence we had in our judgments and predictions.

    I thought that what was happening to us was remarkable. The statistical evidence of our failure should have shaken our confidence in our judgments of particular candidates, but it did not. It should also have caused us to moderate our predictions, but it did not. We knew as a general fact that our predictions were little better than random guesses, but we continued to feel and act as if each particular prediction was valid. I was reminded of visual illusions, which remain compelling even when you know that what you see is false. I was so struck by the analogy that I coined a term for our experience: the illusion of validity”

    The term we tend to use to describe over-fitting or poor modeling is
    ‘very pretty rubbish’

    • I was struck by that article as well, and actually was looking for that link when you posted it. Small world!

      You can try and use this, and I suppose some will, as one more argument that the “uncertainty monster” should hold us paralyzed in fear. But that seems to be just about the opposite of what Kahneman is arguing — he is talking about the limits of snap judgements, and the biases that distort the (oftentimes exceptionally successful) application of rapid cognition to problems. How does he know they are flawed? Well, he systematically gathered data and applied statistical tests to it, based on his hypothesis. In other words, Kahneman’s “gold standard” for accuracy is science. The lesson here is to interrogate our intuitions using hard data, not to make a fetish of doubt.

    • Good article Doc. Illusion of validity is ubiquitous.

      “In general, however, you should not take assertive and confident people at their own evaluation unless you have independent reason to believe that they know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, this advice is difficult to follow: overconfident professionals sincerely believe they have expertise, act as experts and look like experts. You will have to struggle to remind yourself that they may be in the grip of an illusion.”

      • Useless article — predictions for social sciences where game theory and psychological strategies take precedence do not apply to hard sciences.

      • So you think social scientists are human, but that other scientists are not?
        Ever wonder why we do double blind experiments?

  103. John Q. Lurker

    What this blog has done for me:

    The huge number of comments has come very close to curing me of my 20+ years of being interested in global warming. :-)

  104. David –

    Thanks for the response:

    The step event of warming is coincident with the big ENSO cycle, so probably causally related, but I have no theory about the mechanism.

    I don’t understand how you can say categorically that those two periods are unrelated (except as casually explained by the big ENSO) unless you have an causal explanation.

    I have to go for now, but will check back later for a response.

    • Joshua, I never said the two non-warming periods are unrelated. What do you mean? It is their relationship, one being warmer than the other, that needs to be explained. The point is that GHG theory does not explain it.

  105. The greatest value of Climate Etc. is that some active researchers read and occasionally comment or contribute here. I treasure their contributions, even though I may disagree with them.

    Judith opened a new ideas about the problem of scientists interacting with policymakers in an area of significant scientific uncertainty. As much as I personally want to see science presented in black and white terms – with uncertainty also presented in black and white – I’ve learned to recognize that concepts like the precautionary principle come in shade of gray.

  106. I think my positions gone from out-and-out sceptic, to lukewarmer over the course of the ‘debate’.

    Because of my industry background I have an inherent distrust of dodgy stats, hidden data and over confident conclusions. I typically default to a suspicious state whenever this happens and then approach the subject in that mind-set; it’s an effective way to go about things when you’re faced with the workloads I deal with.

    I’d be the first to admit that I think I went ‘too far’ into the sceptical camp during my early days in this debate. The attitude and behaviour of the ‘team’ was largely responsible for this; I’m still a firm believer that had the climategate issue happened in industry, then all involved would have been fired at best, prosecuted at worst- but I’m able to see past that, and those (seemingly) doing their damndest to ruin any case for the cAGW theory, and I’m talking about the actual proponents of the theory here, not the sceptics. In fact it is the ‘pro’ side that (imo) have damaged the theory more.

    I find the extreme views (on both sides) quite tiresome now. It’s sometimes difficult to remove yourself from the ire that some comments (and out-right attacks) can generate- hence posting less of late (though I still visit almost daily). It’s often not worth even responding to some of the individuals and it’s a shame (though inevitable) that this site now has it’s ‘core’ trolls.

    I really like the ‘extra’ posts, the aliasing one for example was fascinating and improved my knowledge on that aspect considerably and I do think that these help ‘fill in the gaps’.

    I must say though, some of the regular commenters are superb. They’ve forced me to confront and critically assess assumptions I’ve made and on at least 1 occasion, changed my mind completely (on an issue I was very passionate about at that; models).

    I think my current position has me agreeing with the basics (co2 causes warming, ghg effect etc), but not on the degrees. I’m still of the firm belief(!) that the climate is far better controlled than we appear to currently believe;

    I’ve seen too many real-world systems to accept on the evidence we have (which is not large to be fair) that the climate will or can even reach a tipping point wrt co2. But I’m open to be proved wrong 

    • Labmunkey: “I find the extreme views (on both sides) quite tiresome now….”
      I agree and feel that common ground is becoming more and more elusive.

      I have the feeling that “climate science” will continue to refine and embellish what is known about short term oscillations revolving around the oceans.

      The impact of various external influences produced by natural systems that can only be described as non-ergodic will never, ever, be predictable.

      Certainly not to the extent upon which policy-makers can reasonably rely.

  107. I’ve learned that logic is optional for a lot of people with science PhDs. I used to think that alarmist scientists had to include a lot of people who were complicit in a process that they knew was corrupt (read the e-mails). Now I know that a lot of them are just shockingly stupid– highly educated fools.

  108. I’ve changed my mind on a number of factual issues.
    The first book I read on Global Warming asserted there was a giant ocean beneath the Antarctic icecaps and the icecap would slide off Antarctica and flood the world. Though I regarded this as self evident nonsense, I was surprised to learn that there are a large number of lakes beneath the icecap.
    I had believed that melting the Arctic icecap would have no impact on seasurface levels. (It does, though it’s minute.)
    I had believed the thermal contraction of water from zero to four degrees Centigrade applied to seawater.
    I had believed solar variances were too small to have any climate effects.
    I had believed there was a climate negative feedback from micro organisms in clouds that would be enhanced by warming and increased carbon monoxide. (There is, but it’s one part in ten thousand.)
    Though i was wrong in these and many other issues, I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to require that these issues be addressed before I buy into the CAGW proposition. Repeating the basic message louder and shriller does not work. Those who call me a science denier demonstrate that they have no manners and that they are definitely wrong in areas I have personal knowledge about.
    There are many more reasons I doubt the policy proposals of the CAGW believers. Yet I aspire to the integrity to change my judgement in accordance with the evidence I have at hand, and acknowledge my obligation to seek that evidence.
    Ad hominims, censorship, and sophistry, all diminish the credibility of those who use them.

  109. Edit to above: carbon monoxide should read carbon dioxide, sorry.

  110. First of all, what is the IPCC’s actual purpose, in its client’s terms? To provide a summary of the science that can be used to support governmental decisions. By support, I mean both inform those decisions, and justify them to their constituents.

    To inform the decisions, what the politicians require is a “statement of fact”, that is “what is the problem to which government activity is expected to respond?”. To justify those decisions, they need a report that will deal with the most significant political objections. Any time a politician (much less a group of politicians) needs to make a decision that will be widely unpopular, the “default” decision will be to do nothing.

    This combines badly with a scientific approach that gives proper room to uncertainty. Any admission of uncertainty will be taken as a rationalization to do nothing, by advocates opposed to the decision. Thus any proper scientific statement of the problem will be close to useless for politicians with a decision decisions to make.

    The IPCC’s approach to this issue has been to minimize the scientific uncertainty, progressively more with each Assessment Report release. In so doing, the IPCC and its associated in-crowd have strayed far outside the bounds of proper scientific conduct, thus tainting the IPCC and its cheerleaders.

    To put it simply, unbiased science requires a Scientific assessment that gives appropriate room to both levels and causes of uncertainty. Given that this will substantially reduce its usefulness to politicians (and bureaucrats, where there’s a difference), this assessment must be directed from within the Scientific community, without interference from government “customers”, or advocacy groups with a record of contaminating their science with ideological agendas.

    I would have to say that the IPCC’s conclusions may well be correct, but that I’m not going to trust anything the IPCC says, or any paper that treats IPCC conclusions as “facts” while building their conclusions into its own. I suspect this position is similar to that of many scientists, both within and outside the field. Thus, absent the IPCC, we need some institution that will do the following:

    Define and re-run a process similar to the IPCC WG1, with proper attention to uncertainty and the alternate explanations behind it. (An example is the Urban Heat Island effect addressed in the recent BEST reports. This was an alternate theory why the latter 20th century global average temperature appeared to be rising, and was investigated in the light of better data (both original and processed with a new, supposedly better technique), and a different, much more robust, analytical approach. The level of uncertainty has been substantially reduced, far superior resources have been provided for auditors and other scientists to replicate the work, and a new mystery discovered, which now requires attention. This is how Science is supposed to be done, without hiding data or uncertainty, or sweeping well-supported descriptions of plausible alternatives or other sources of uncertainty under the rug.)

    We can probably expect the results of this report to duplicate that of the IPCC WG1, but with lower levels of “certainty” (perhaps ranging from “somewhat lower” to “much lower”), and hopefully a long list of testable hypotheses, which can be falsified to reduce uncertainty, or perhaps verified which would substantially increase uncertainty. That’s what Science is supposed to do.

    After that, it becomes necessary for politicians to take this report and use it for their decisions. Used in its scientific form, the report will certainly provide more ammunition for advocates of “do nothing”: the proposal will be to do nothing until further research has been done. But this is exactly what happened with the IPCC. Instead of pointing to valid scientific objections (alternative hypotheses) within the report, as they would have with a proper scientific report, proponents of “do nothing” simply backed up and pointed to the obvious valid objections to IPCC WG1 as a rationale for doing nothing.

    However, we have the precautionary principle. Different people evidently have different ideas about what this principle means, or at least mandates. Certainly the idea that because there’s a high chance of a problem, the world population needs to be forced into a high-risk response will be harder to justify when the “gold-standard” report actually details the sources of uncertainty. However, with proper Science behind it, rather than obviously flawed pseudo-scientific advocacy, the high chance of a problem can be used to justify comparatively low-risk responses, depending on their actual cost. This will deflect the debates into the risk, cost, and return of various actions.

    Thus, a real, Scientific, “gold-standard” report would allow forward movement on the subject, by allowing obviously high-risk responses to be ruled out (pending real reduction of the uncertainty WRT CO2), while other, purportedly low-risk options can be discussed, debated, and analyzed. The various scientific disciplines can address the sources of uncertainty, while the focus of debate can move to economics, technology, and politics.

    Consider the following statement, as an interface between “climate science” and politics:

    There is a very high probability that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to extremely undesirable results within 20-100 years.

    There is some probability that fossil carbon is the primary reason for the increase.

    There is a high probability that some human activity is responsible for the increase.

    AFAIK all but a small number of nuts would sign up for these statements, although many (perhaps even the majority) would wish to increase one or more of the probabilities. But while such questions are being debated, action can begin on finding responses to what we already know as a risk. Various responses can be proposed, singly or in aggregate, and analyzed for economic risk/cost/benefit.

    What we need in place of the IPCC is some scientific organization that will provide the reports, with the outcome suggested above, or whatever modification of that outcome is appropriate depending on the Science, and can be trusted as the IPCC no longer can. Once this report is in place, and the various causes of uncertainty are under investigation, the scientific process becomes pretty much decoupled from the political.

    As for what such an organization would look like, I’ve already given my thoughts on the subject, and see no reason (yet) to modify them.

    • AK,
      Very thoughtful. Thanks.

    • AK says:

      “There is a very high probability that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to extremely undesirable results within 20-100 years.”

      I think you’re wrong to say all but a small number of nuts would sign up for {this} statement. I’m fairly sure a large number of non-nut denizens here would profoundly disagree with that statement, and because you don’t mention any particular quantity of CO2, you might well have to include the majority of climate scientists, nutty and otherwise.

      One of the reasons I mention this is because the consequence of adding more than 100ppm CO2 has been something best described as ‘not noticeable’. ‘Irrelevant’ also comes to mind.
      What evidence do you have that a further unspecified amount of CO2 will be such that all but a small number of nuts would expect ‘extremely undesirable’ consequences?

      • 5 Quatloos says our esteemed hostess would refrain from signing up to your statement !

      • AFAIK we’re talking about a total of 1000 ppm by 2100. That’s quite a bit.

        I’m not going to discuss climate models, because of the obvious issue with whether a higher global average temperature would really be that bad. But ocean acidification is another matter. Based on the current literature, I’m very sure that a properly prepared, objective, scientific report would be enough to convince almost all scientists.

        Of course, the IPCC has treated ocean acidification as a poor stepchild, perhaps because it’s not really within their original charter, or perhaps because they’re so sure they’ve done the job with climate that they don’t have to bother. Whatever the reason, between their behavior WRT climate science and their neglect of ocean acidification, they’ve left this issue unaddressed.

        Perhaps I should have said “would sign up for these statements, given proper scientific documentation of all the potential problems.” Perhaps I should have been more specific all around. But then nobody would have read it. Obviously, this is exactly the sort of thing a proper WG1-type report ought to clarify, with everyday language linking down to more specific criteria for those wishing to investigate. Without in-crowd jargon, or at least with explanations of such jargon that any well-informed amateur could understand.

      • AK

        AFAIK we’re talking about a total of 1000 ppm by 2100. That’s quite a bit.


        We are NOT “talking about a total of 1000 ppm by 2100”

        Even if we estimate that atmospheric CO2 will continue to increase at the same exponential rate seen from 1970 to today (around 0.43% CAGR) despite the fact that population growth is expected to decrease from the past 1.7% CAGR to around 0.45% CAGR over the 21st century, we arrive at around 580 ppmv by 2100.

        I would consider this an upper limit for 2100.

        Your 1000 ppmv figure is close to the 1065 ppmv total theoretical maximum level that could ever be reached based on all the contained carbon when all inferred possible fossil fuel resources on our planet have been consumed some day in the far distant future (per a WEC 2010 report).

        Is a maximum ever theoretical level of 1065 ppmv a problem?

        If we take the observed CO2/temperature record since 1850, the IPCC assumption that only 7% of past forcing was from natural (solar) factors and use this to calculate the future temperature response of increasing CO2 to 1065 ppmv, we arrive at a theoretical GH warming of around 2.2 degC.

        That’s it, AK. Everything else is model assumptions and hype.

        I would not call this alarming.

        As far as “ocean acidification” is concerned, all the carbon contained in the inferred possible fossil fuels would still be only a drop in a bucket in the vast ocean and there are way too many unknowns about all the chemical buffering and biological processes at work to make any meaningful forecasts.

        Exaggerating things does not help, AK. It’s what got IPCC into trouble.


      • Latimer Alder

        And please remember that the ocean will not become acidic. It will become slightly less alkaline (nearer to the neutrality of pure water).

      • @manacker&Latimer Alder…

        You don’t know what you’re talking about WRT ocean acidification, and I’m not going to waste my time educating you. If you want to repeat talking points taken from e.g. Glen Beck or Sean Hannity, go ahead. That just proves you’re deniers rather than skeptics.

      • @AK

        ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about WRT ocean acidification’

        I think I do…….unless you can explain exactly where you find errors in my simple and true statement:

        ‘the ocean will not become acidic. It will become slightly less alkaline (nearer to the neutrality of pure water)’

        Hints while you go away and study: The ocean now is slightly alklaine (pH>7.0). Adding CO2 will neutralise a bit (but not all) of the alkalinity. We know how much CO2 we can possibly generate by burning all the fossil fuels that exist, and it isn’t anywere near enough to overcome all the existing alkalinity. At the end of this hypothetical process, the oceans would be slightly less alkaline than they are today. Their pH would be a smidgin nearer 7.0..which is that of pure water. But still alkaline, not acidic.

        And while thinking about that you might also like to ponder the fact that the existing natural geographic variations in ocean pH are comparable in size to the changes expected from CO2. From this evidence, how much of an alarming effect do you expect the CO2 to have?

        And fyi I didn’t learn my physical and inorganic chemistry from glenn beck (whoever he may be) but from respected sources like Professor Peter Atkins, Cotton and Wilkinson, WJ Moore and Professor Tony Downes. Look em up.

      • For anyone reading this wondering about the ignorant, knee-jerk denialist junk spouted by manacker & Latimer Alder, I’ve discussed ocean acidification before, in slight detail but with references, here and here. As I told manacker & Latimer Alder, I’m not going to get into long arguments quoting talking points anybody whose actually read the papers I linked would know are bunk.

      • For AK | October 26, 2011 at 5:35 pm (above)

        I appreciate that you are likely to have a deeper knowledge in the area of the ocean than I have. But I do know enough to say, mildly, that there is an awful lot we don’t know about ‘ocean acidification’, and that the papers you cite don’t and can’t give us the whole picture. There seems to be considerable variation in ocean ph, and the CO2 flows in and out of the ocean are not well measured, to say the least. IMO the best answer here, too, is ‘we don’t know’. We may know a good deal more in twenty years.

        I do not think that either manacker or latimer alder were putting forward ‘ignorant, knee-jerk denialist junk’, and it doesn’t help the discussion to use that kind of language.

    • AK -Thanks for writing a very thoughtful comment. I agree with much of what you say, but with a few reservations:

      (1) I think you’ve understated the degree to which the WG1 report has addressed uncertainty. It is thoroughly discussed regarding most estimates. The criticism has been that it hasn’t been handled in as effective and reproducible a manner as needed, but it would be wrong to say it’s been ignored, and my personal familiarity with the report leads me to think that WG1 has not overstated its confidence in most conclusions. (Judy Curry and I disagree about one of these – the “very likely” attribution of most post-1950 warming to anthropogenic ghgs, which I see as justified and she doesn’t).

      (2) Policy makers, as you state, prefer “one-handed scientists” – those who don’t say, “we think it’s such and such, but on the other hand…” Because this is what they want, the SPM (Summary for Policymakers) tends to state conclusions without the uncertainty considerations in the main report. This is not, in my view, a deficiency of the latter, but rather a reality that would face any attempt to condense a complex subject into talking points. The uncertainty in the main report can be cited by anyone who wishes to challenge policy decisions based on the SPM- and this has certainly happened. It’s not hidden.

      (3) The case for “inaction” is a political decision, as you mention, although “inaction” may not be the best word to describe pouring billions of tons of CO2 into the air every year – I know what you mean, though. While different views on this are legitimate, I think they should be framed within the knowledge that CO2 we emit into the atmosphere while waiting for more data is not something we can easily take back if we decide we shouldn’t have emitted it. Whatever its consequences, we humans will have to live with them for many decades to centuries. If that reality is added to the discussions of uncertainty, I think it would offer a more balanced perspective than sometimes emerges from discussions about the lack of certainty. At that point, we will still have to weigh the consequences one one choice against another, but in a better informed manner.

      • I wrote the above before seeing your more recent comment, which mentioned the importance of addressing ocean acidifications – “the other CO2 problem”. I completely agree that it needs more attention than it has received. Significant adverse effects are probably further in the future than those from warming, but ultimately may be more of a problem because they lend themselves poorly to adaptive measures.

      • @Fred Moolten…

        While different views on this are legitimate, I think they should be framed within the knowledge that CO2 we emit into the atmosphere while waiting for more data is not something we can easily take back if we decide we shouldn’t have emitted it. Whatever its consequences, we humans will have to live with them for many decades to centuries.

        Now, see, that’s a statement I totally disagree with. I’m not talking about climate science, I’m talking about technology. With the right approach, IMO, we could start a process today that would probably result in the ability to draw down CO2 within a 5-10 year active time, using (bio-)technology that might mature within 20 years. That’s my point. If we could just re-direct the discussion into how we could solve the draw-down problem, there are many potential solutions (IMO) that could probably be implemented without the sort of massive costs deep cuts in fossil carbon emission would (probably, IMO) entail.

        But to do that, we have to focus large amounts of funding on subjects now pretty much neglected, including ecological catastrophe theory, kinetics and developmental genetics of photosynthesis, etc.

      • @Fred Moolten…

        I am surprised that no one ever considers “space development” as
        one solution.
        It’s pro-growth, pro-technology. All major nations are already engaged to some extent. Our current use of Space is immeasurably important- everything you do is connected/dependent on this activity continuing.
        Everyone “knows” it’s the future.
        But you all when discussing the future you don’t even consider “space development”. Further progress in space, could lead to only known way to completely control climate or weather
        Which doesn’t mean I am suggesting “space weather control” be some plan, but rather it could lead to this. It’s like at the time of early airplanes and mentioning that some day you could fly around the world.

      • Yeah, orbit a bunch of solar-powered steerable mirrors in NEO that could deflect sunlight away from certain areas, or capture sunlight that would otherwise go on by and send it somewhere…

        If we had a somewhat mature science(s) of weather and climate.

      • “If we had a somewhat mature science(s) of weather and climate.”

        Hopeful we will make some progress by then.
        I near terms and some people living on the Moon and Mars, etc,
        you will need to understand some of it a bit better. One will want to
        make greenhouse and build a full ecology- and work out all the problems to make that work.

      • AK – the “drawdown problem” has been under investigation for a long time, as evidenced by this not very recent article by Klaus Lackner but there’s room for a newcomer to join the effort.

      • I’ll take a look at it. Right now, I’m into azolla. Trying to figure out the lowest-cost way of floating a layer of fresh water on top of ocean. And assuming we can GM it to take higher temps than it already can. (Although water cooling through exchange with the deep ocean might be cheap enough if we can’t.)

      • Nice thing about azolla, it floats, so it can be harvested using pretty simple floating technology. If you want to do remediation, just bundle it up in fiber glass felt, dip it in cement, and drop it in a nearby anoxic subduction trench. Or pick one selected for high deposition rates, so it’ll be buried quickly. Or you could use it as fodder for cattle, or even (later on, when volumes are high) carbonize it with a little solar power (direct heat) and use it in previously coal-fired plants. I can imagine all sorts of different paths to “sustainability” using this sort of technology, that would end up using coal-fired plants for renewable fuel. Thus justifying building them today.

      • AK

        Your geo-engineering schemes to solve what is most likely a “non-problem” raise the hair on the back of my neck.

        Nobody has any idea what the unintended consequences of such schemes would be nor whether or not they would have any positive impact at all nor whether or not they are even theoretically desirable.

        All we know for sure is that they would be very costly.

        Sorry. No sale.


      • @manacker…

        Nobody has any idea what the unintended consequences of such schemes would be…

        Well, we’ve got a bunch of GCM models we could test it with: replace the cells currently given over to ocean with cells tuned for swampland in the appropriate locations. See what happens.

        And remember, we don’t have to rush. We can wait until we have models capable of good regional forecasts before deciding.

        …nor whether or not they would have any positive impact at all…

        Oh, they would.

        …nor whether or not they are even theoretically desirable.

        There’s no such thing a “theoretically desirable“. There are theoretical outcomes with appropriate uncertainties, and there are judgements of their desirability, but “theoretically desirable” is a shortcut typical of propaganda rather than careful thinking.

        All we know for sure is that they would be very costly.

        You know, but you know a whole lot of things that just ain’t so. IMO the dropping costs over the next couple decades will reach the point that the same exact technology will be in common use raising for fodder for pigs, chickens, and of course cattle and sheep. (Not to mention green manure for intensive agriculture of other types.) By then we might have a better idea whether or not it’s necessary to expand the process for remediation.

        Sorry. No sale.

        Well, as I mentioned, there’s no hurry about starting anything other than developing the technology, which could (and probably will) be used for other profitable purposes. We can wait a decade or so before deciding whether it’s necessary to use it for remediation.

    • This was supposed to be posted in the Imagining a post-IPCC world thread. I’ve posted a link there to this comment.

      I guess I’m getting tired.

    • AK

      Let’s do the “nut test” on your three premises

      There is a very high probability that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to extremely undesirable results within 20-100 years.

      There is some probability that fossil carbon is the primary reason for the increase.

      There is a high probability that some human activity is responsible for the increase.

      Premise 1. False. there is not a “very high probability that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to extremely undesirable results within 20-100 years. In fact, there is no empirical evidence to support this premise. It is purely conjectural.

      Premise 2 and 3. Both true. Human CO2 emissions. from fossil fuels (plus other human sources) are certainly a factor in the observed increase.

      So you got two out of three.

      Not bad.

      (But the critical premise for the “alarming AGW hypothesis” is number 1, and this one does not hold water.)


      Premise 3.

  111. I’m glad you could be more specific. I think that 1000ppm by 2100 is really going some… Adding six times what we’ve already added – in 90 years?
    An average of nearly 7ppm per year over the rest of the century, with this decade’s average of 2 and a smidgen? Back of the hand guesswork conjures up 12ppm per year in the 2090’s…
    I haven’t seen any convincing arguments to support such a rapid increase but if you’re right I would certainly expect some very noticeable consequences. Perhaps undesirable too….
    I haven’t been in the habit of contemplating such high numbers – I will think further on the matter!

    Perhaps this is the kind of expectation that led Gavin Schmidt to predict a couple of days ago that BUA would lead to 4-6 degrees C of warming by 2070 over land, and MORE in the northern latitudes. I just assumed he’d been taking prophesy lessons from his boss and consequently ignored it.

    • AFAIK they’re assuming an exponential increase in fossil carbon emissions. I’d have to agree with them WRT exponential, although I’d have to review their assumptions and numbers before stating a sure opinion.

      • Thanks for your replies – much food for thought..

      • AK

        The “exponential rate of increase” in atmospheric CO2 has been around 0.43% per year since 1970. It was slightly above this rate over the most recent 5 years, as well.

        Running this exponential rate out to 2100 gets us at around 580 ppmv. (This is close to IPCC “scenario and storyline” B1 = modest population growth leveling off at 10.5 billion with no climate initiatives – IPCC projects 1.8C warming for this case.)

        Do the arithmetic yourself. Don’t count on Gavin Schmidt.

        And then be careful what 2xCO2 temperature response you crank in. If you use the one used by Gavin’s boss, James E. Hansen, you’ll likely get an exaggerated warming estimate. Use the actual observed response from 1850 to today as a guideline, and you’ll get a more realistic number.


  112. New papers about warming, up 2 degrees C in some areas by 2030, in many areas by 2060. We are running out of time to work on avoiding serious consequences.:

    • That’s garbage. A link to a scare story from a scare web-site, which has no citations or links to the underlying science, which could easily be garbage itself. Why won’t you scare-merchants understand that nobody cares about your chicken-little junk until you can send me to the peer-reviewed paper (without paywall). I’m certainly not going to waste time tracking it down myself, given the source.

    • Holly Stick – I agree with AK, and would add that your cranky bit of journalistic hyperbole actually only suggests a possibility of about 1 degree of warming – the 2 degrees is above pre-industrial levels.
      When there’s the suggestion of perhaps 1 degree in many areas by 2060, I’m tempted to say “Still not noticeable, relevant or significant’

      • Go read the science.

      • The science is behind a paywall. Based on the abstract of your second cite, I’m going to dismiss this as junk science until I can go over their numbers, which models they use, and so on. Nature has a very “green” track record, to the point of distorting science in pursuit of their agenda. If the actual letter had backed up the abstract, I’m sure they would have made it open access.

        As for your first link, it too is behind a paywall, and the same logic applies. Moreover, this isn’t a scientific report or review, it’s an opinion piece. Did you see the word “Perspective”, right at the top? That means it’s advocacy. From the abstract:

        For example, in higher greenhouse-gas emission scenarios, a global average 2 °C warming threshold is likely to be crossed by 2060, whereas in a lower emissions scenario, the crossing of this threshold is delayed by up to several decades. On regional scales, however, the 2 °C threshold will probably be exceeded over large parts of Eurasia, North Africa and Canada by 2040 if emissions continue to increase

        Technological change by 2060 will almost certainly give us the ability to deal with this problem. As for their regional projections, different models, and even model runs, vary considerably so we really have no way of knowing whether this prediction is any good. But one thing the models have generally agreed on (AFAIK) is that most of the “global warming” from increased GHG’s shows up in northern continental winter temperatures. This is probably mostly an improvement. Thus, nothing to worry about.

        As for the link to the un-peer-reviewed story, we have no way of knowing if this is more than natural variation, which always happens. Whether or not emissions are reduced, there will still be variation of this type, and adaptation is the best response.

  113. I did, and I was right. You misunderstood their projection by 100% and I checked their evidence for even this pitiful amount of warming – the output of an xbox 360 that they’d programmed themselves……
    I recommend you do some thinking for yourself

  114. Here is proof that food production drives temperature. 2 years after food production leveled off, so did temperatures.

    • Isn’t it also true that food security is also vastly better than ever before? I have access to food grown in every single country in the world…

  115. As an old farm boy, I have to laugh at city slickers who believe plants would do better if temperatures were higher.
    As my grandpappy used to say, I got mules smarter than that.

    • M. Carey – as a farm boy did you ever hear grandpappy pray for more CO2?

      • I’m not sure he ever heard of it. He might have prayed for more rain, less rain, warmer weather, cooler weather, etc. In farming there’s always the problem of getting too little or too much.

    • Latimer Alder

      So that’s the explanation for the luxuriant growth and biodiversity of the tropical forests compared with the straggly scrubland of Siberia. Its because plants don’t grow better in warmer climes.

      Thanks for clarifying that point for me. I have often wondered.

      Previously I just though that because plant growth is a chemical reaction, and most reactions go faster the hotter it gets (we called it reaction kinetics when I did physical chemistry), that was some part of the explanation. Now I know how wrong I was.


      • Yes, you were wrong if you thought since some heat is good for plants, plants can never get enough heat. The same can be said for water.

        Plants are climate dependent and different plants have different requirements. That’s why Canada’s plains are good for growing wheat and parts of Honduras are good for growing bananas.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘Yes, you were wrong if you thought since some heat is good for plants, plants can never get enough heat’

        …which was not a proposition I ever entertained. I am pleased to reassure you on that point.

        But the general point stands….wamer areas of the earth tend to have more luxuriant growth than cooler ones. It is certainly not self-evident that a warmer world will have an overall damaging effect on global crops as a whole.

        So while it might be the case that particular varieties do worse in particular locations (including on your old farm in Hotsville, Anystate) you can not extraploate from that to assume that all plants everywhere will do worse. Green plants are very very adaptable things ..found from the poles to the equator and from sealevel to the mountaintops. They can grow in just about any climatic conditions. Higher temperatures might mean that different crops or different varieties from today have to be grown in particular locations. But that’s been happening since cultivation started.

        And the prospect of all of Siberia becoming cultivatable rather than just scrubland and tundra must be great news for the poor and hungry of the world.

      • LA – it was a hot as the blazes here in Texas. Google your way to another blog victory.

    • M. carey

      Your “grandpappy’s mules” may be smarter than you think.

      Global yield of major grain crops (rice, wheat, corn) increased by 2.4 times since 1970.

      Was this helped by the slightly higher globally averaged temperature (less than 0.5C)? Probably not much.

      Was it partly due to the 20% higher atmospheric CO2 levels? Possibly.

      Was it due to improved irrigation, better seeds, better fertilization? Most likely.


      • So, would most of those increased yields would remain in place if we were to go back to using mules and field hands?

      • JCH

        You raise an interesting (if somewhat hypothetical) question:

        would most of those increased [crop] yields remain in place if we were to go back to using mules and field hands?

        Let’s say we could find the “field hands” and “mules”. M. carey apparently has prior experience and might volunteer (for the former category, that is).

        The human-induced CO2 footprint would go down (fewer tractors) but methane emissions would increase a bit (more degassing mules).

        Cranking this into my handy GCM for the US and Canada impact alone tells me that the net impact on globally and annually averaged land and sea surface temperature by 2100 would be a reduction of 0.00015 degrees C, so the resulting “carbon footprint” reduction is small.

        As far as crop yields are concerned, they increased 2.4 times from 1970 to 2010, but it is not likely that there was a significant “mule to tractor” shift over those 40 years (most of this occurred earlier in the countries included in the study).

        I’d say that “more work needs to be done” to extend the study to other geographic regions, in order to get a more definitive answer to your question.

        Please pay 2 million dollars in advance.


      • Latimer Alder


        If you can talk it up to 3 mill can I help you and we’ll go 50:50? I;ve always wanted to be a climate scientist for a while…

      • As far as crop yields are concerned, they increased 2.4 times from 1970 to 2010, but it is not likely that there was a significant “mule to tractor” shift over those 40 years (most of this occurred earlier in the countries included in the study).

        Essentially, the equivalent occurred – WRT to the technology used on smaller farms as compared to the technology used on massive farms.

      • You can farm a very small plot extremely efficiently without a tractor. A very big farm, not so much.

        A lot of the increased efficiency is due to the scaling-up of agricultural processes. Speculating about whether CO2 or technological advances are explanatory for recent increased in crop yields, without factoring in the massive difference related to farm size, is pointless and unscientific.

      • Fertilizer processed from natural gas, and with ingredients including the increasingly hard to extract phosphates.

      • Latimer Alder

        And with these techniques and our ingenuity we are able to (in general) feed the world’s current population of 6.5 billion..and by continuing along the same path have a prospect of feeding 9 billion in the next 20 or 30 years. A growing overall populaton shows juts hiw successful the human race has become at adaptability to changign circumstances.

        Excellent news all round! We can feed ourselves and our kids today and have the prospect of our grand kids and great grandkids not going hungry either. There aren’t many generations in history who have been able to say that with any confidence.

      • Because the fields my ancestors found and purchased in the early 19th century enjoy an almost identical climate today. They grew corn; we grow corn now. The only real difference is the green revolution, which now has white hair.

      • Latimer Adler

        Crop yields increased 2.4 times from 1970 to 2010.

        Population increased 1.9 times over the same period.

        Human starvation percentages today (6 million people per year out of 6.9 billion) are estimated to be a bit less than half the percentage in 1970.

        What will the next 50 or 100 years bring?

        I’d agree with you that things are likely to continue improving, despite the recurring Malthusian doomsday predictions out there.


      • I once again point out that the always-accurate lowest bound of the lowest band of the UN Population models indicates a peak of ~8 bn. around 2035 — followed by steady moderate decline.

        Rising living standards will be/are both cause and effect of that.

  116. Tomas Milanovic

    What I have learned?
    Expressing myself better in English in writing.
    At least I hope.
    It is really not easy to argue in a foreign language about extremely complex issues where every word and its interpretation counts.
    Chief Hydrologist has been a great inspiration for me because his English is luminous, brilliant and easy flowing.
    I love to read his posts if only for the language quality.

    As for the science I didn’t learn much but it was fun participating for instance in the Dragonslayers threads because we actually did some real maths there – I still chuckle at Claes surprise that when he postulates a cord equation, he gets cord solutions regardless whether the postulate is relevant or not :)

    My main problem with climate science is that it has been epistemologically mislead from the very beginning.
    The original sin is this stupid 0 dimensional computation of the “greenhouse” effect which puts focus on an “average” temperature which is not one and compares apples with oranges concluding that their difference is 33°C.
    From there follows an oversimplified naive paradigm of 1 dimensional “equilibriums” which don’t exist and “noises” that cancel which don’t.
    Like Einstein said “A theory must be as simple as possible but not simpler.”
    How perverse this statical equilibrium paradigm is shows f.ex the wrong belief of Fred that a GHGless atmosphere would be static and isothermal.
    Yet it takes only 5 minutes to write Navier Stokes to convince oneself that a system with strong temperature gradients (of course an irradiated sphere presents necessarily strong temperature gradients as f.ex the Moon shows) can be neither static nor isothermal.
    And if one cannot write Navier Stokes then it is enough to look qualitatively at the Rayleigh-Bénard flow and notice that no assumptions about the radiative properties of the fluid are necessary to observe it.

    I still have difficulty to understand how there can be people who don’t take seriously the fact that the problem we are dealing with is one of non linear dynamics and that it is only dynamical approaches which have a chance to come up with skilled predictions.

    How does it work in reality?
    If T(x,y,z,t) = nT(x,y,z,t) + gT(x,y,z,t) where :
    T(x,y,z,t) is the temperature field, nT(x,y,z,t) is the contribution of the internal dynamics of the system and gT(x,y,z,t) is the contribution of the GHG, then it is obvious that knowing the sign of gT(x,y,z,t) or even an order of magnitude doesn’t allow to predict T(x,y,z,t) if nT(x,y,z,t) is unknown.

    Even this example is actually too naive and unrealistic because it supposes that the temperature field can be decomposed in 2 independent fields nT and gT what is not the case.

    The right way to write this simplified field decomposition should be:
    T(x,y,z,t) = nT(gT,x,y,z,t) + gT(nT,x,y,z,t) which shows that the fields are coupled.
    The non linearity and the whole difficulty is precisely in this dynamical coupling.
    Of course in reality it is still a bit more complex because there are not just 2 coupled fields like in this example but many more (pressure, density, cloudiness, velocity etc).
    We must face it: the coupled field system which we are facing is probably the most formidable dynamical complexity that we have been given to study.
    I always recommend to people with naive statical equilibrium arguments to read the excellent Tao’s blog :
    Now the dynamical Earth system is several orders of magnitude harder than the “hard” Navier Stokes problem.
    To make an analogy – the dynamical behaviour of the brain is likely easier than the climate dynamics because the brain’s phase space is finite dimensional (we have “only” 100 billions neurones) and the number of coupled fields in the brain is smaller than the Earth system which is infinite dimensional.

    Of course being aware of the formidable complexity of the task shouldn’t lead to pessimism. We have other field theories and we have mathematical and conceptual tools to tackle them. Spatio temporal chaos theory as well as ergodic theory are cutting edge science. They are not yet used in climate science and there is huge room for progress.
    As Judith’s scientific origin is dynamics, I am not surprised and I welcome it that her blog is open and knowledgeable to issues which are more promising for progress than low dimensional, linear, equilibrium ideas.

    [Here I should insert a word about models but I don’t want to blow the length of the post]

    Just don’t make it look much simpler than it really is. This would lead to stagnation and dead ends.

    • Tomas does math that kim understands.

    • Tomas, I commend you for being one of the few influential writers here to caution that while time travels in only one direction, spatial gradients reverse in time. You’ve conveyed the awareness I would hope for in ALL other discussion participants of the effect of spatial kernel grain, extent, orientation, & shape on statistical summaries. However, I would sternly suggest that you supplement your conceptions with HARD lessons from EOP (Earth Orientation Parameters). They tell a VERY clear story of SIMPLE constraints on the system. Ignorance is not a sensible option. You have the potential to lead people seriously astray. I wish you lucidly efficient cognition. Your contributions here tower above those of all others, but I believe your conceptions to be currently founded on a fundamentally flawed premise. Is there spatiotemporal chaos in the system? Sure, but it’s pinched by a constraining framework that shifts quasidiscrete asymmetric aliasing of the solar drive-wheel. The signature of asymmetric driver-wheel aliasing by driven wheels, no matter the size of the driven wheels, will NECESSARILY be a function of driver-wheel acceleration/deceleration. THIS is the marker of the WHOLE system.

  117. Climate is complicated and simple. Complicated – Many things can drive temperature up or down. Simple – Whatever causes warming does not matter. Warm melts Arctic Sea Ice and it snows more and cools earth. Whatever causes cooling does not matter. Cool allows Arctic Sea Ice to freeze and the snow stops and we warm. This is the stable cycle with powerful negative feedback to temperature that is the THERMOSTAT OF EARTH. This has kept the temperature of earth stable in spit of any forcing that would push temperature out of the stable cycles.

  118. Dr Curry’s Blog has been very educating for me, a layman in climate matters. I tend to be on the side of the sceptics rather than in the AGW camp (so not so sure about manmade CO2 being the main cause for the warming, not so sure about current rate of warming has been unprecedent even n historic times and anyway not so sure about increasing CO2 and temperatures is a bad thing for the planet and humankind), but I have learnt from this Blog to be more critic with the sceptic camp critics.
    I’d like to thank Dr. Curry and all the knowledgeable and respectful posters in this Blog for that.

  119. I was skeptical of the phrase “Global Warming” as soon as I heard it, many years ago. Since then I have learned there is a vast array of dubious details that allegedly support the idea. The whole thing has become worse/more dubious than I thought with each passing day.


  120. Sinyenlaxia

    Why these private charters are so expensive? What is included in their cost?