Public engagement on climate change

by Judith Curry

At the forthcoming  AGU Fall Meeting,  I have an invited talk in a session on Scientist Participation in Science Communication.

Here is the abstract for my talk:

Abstract:  Public engagement on climate change

Climate change communication is complicated by complexity of the scientific problem, multiple perspectives on the magnitude of the risk from climate change, often acrimonious disputes between scientists, high stakes policy options, and overall politicization of the issue. The public salience of climate science is intimately connected with perceived risks and the costs of potential solutions, which are filtered through an individual’s world view and politics. Efforts to increase science literacy as a route towards persuasion around the need for a policy like cap and trade have failed, because the difficulty that a scientist has in attempting to make sense of the social and political complexity is very similar to the complexity facing the general public as they try to make sense of climate science itself. In this talk I argue for a shift from scientists and their institutions as information disseminators to that of public engagement and enablers of public participation.

The goal of engagement is not just to inform, but to enable, motivate and educate the public regarding the technical, political, and social dimensions of climate change. Engagement is a two-way process where experts and decision-makers seek input and learn from the public about preferences, needs, insights, and ideas relative to climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, solutions and policy options. Effective public engagement requires that scientists detach themselves from trying to control what the public does with the acquired knowledge and motivation.  The goal should not be to “sell” the public on particular climate change solutions, since such advocacy threatens public trust in scientists and their institutions.

Conduits for public engagement include the civic engagement approach in the context of community meetings, and perhaps more significantly, the blogosphere.  Since 2006, I have been an active participant in the climate blogosphere, focused on engaging with people that are skeptical of AGW.   A year ago, I started my own blog Climate Etc. at  The demographic that I have focused my communication/engagement activities are the technically educated and scientifically literate public, many of whom have become increasingly skeptical of climate science the more they investigate the topic.  Dismissing this group, which are often referred to as “deniers” because of perceived financial or ideological motives, misses some very important issues.  Specific issues that individuals within this group have with climate science include concerns that science that cannot easily be separated from risk assessment and value judgments; concern that assessments (e.g. IPCC) have become a Maxwell’s daemon for climate research; inadequate assessment of our ignorance of this complex scientific issue; elite scientists and scientific institutions losing credibility with the public; political exploitation of the public’s lack of understanding; and concerns about the lack of public accountability of climate science; and climate models that are being used as the basis for far reaching decisions and policies.  Individuals in this group have the technical ability to understand and examine climate science arguments and are not prepared to cede judgment on this issue to the designated and self-proclaimed experts.

JC comment:  Presumably I was invited to give this talk because of Climate Etc.  The abstract (written months ago) reflects some thoughts I have on the subject, but doesn’t really outline a talk on this topic.  I haven’t given my talk much thought yet, so I’m throwing the topic open to discussion.  Hopefully the discussion and my deliberations on putting the talk together will help clarify what is going on at Climate Etc.

Collide-a-scape thread 

Of relevance to this topic, Collide-a-scape has thread entitled “Is Judith Curry peddling disinformation?”  which is motivated by Ludecke-Tol threads.  The discussion raises some broader issues re Climate Etc. and public engagement by academics.  I excerpt here some of the interesting comments from that thread:

Pielke Jr:

I’d welcome Tol documenting the “damage” that he sees being done to the public by the discussion of scientific papers that are in some way flawed. An alternative view is that such discussions among experts when held in public help people to understand the process of science and its complexity, and rather than doing “damage” actually helps to build trust and confidence.

Tol’s recommendation that experts should purposely and collectively ignore papers that they don’t like is the exact recipe that led to the cliquish and insular behavior reflected in the UEA emails.



“Do you assign lousy, error-riddled textbooks for your class to read?”

Yes, absolutely. The Skeptical Environmentalist was a core reading in my graduate seminar for about 4 years. Why? Because we took on the project of critically evaluating it. I have even assigned parts of  IPCC WG II ;-)

My job isn’t to tell students what to think, my job is to teach them how to think. I have no fear that their minds will be corrupted by being exposed to information that is flawed in some respects. In fact, I encourage students to bring in material to the class which we all read and critique together — I do not “filter” any such pieces, even the malarkey.

Arguments that the public or lay populace needs to be protected (or whatever word you want) from misleading information can make sense for governmental regulatory process, drug approval mechanisms and FCC guidelines for advertisers (to name a few). But as an approach to public conversations by individual experts via social media?  No thanks. I prefer less pressure to filter, less group think, less cliquey experts, and more open discourse, debate and discussion. Give the public some credit, they are not as dumb and gullible as Tol (and maybe you) seem to think!


Your biggest mistake is to assume readers are empty vessels into which only selected material should be poured. Perhaps that’s the way you learned. At Climate etc, critical judgement is acquired by doing the work of thinking. Dr Curry does nobody else’s thinking for them, because it isn’t possible.

The reason so many of us enjoy the discussions there is because we are never told what to think. I am fairly certain that the only people who read the papers are those who are sufficiently informed to make a judgement. No harm was going to come to anyone – only better discernment.


Tol is not telling Watts, Inhofe, Morano or Steve Goddard to do something different. Why not? I imagine it is because he has different expectations for them. Since they post far more egregious stuff, it is clear that Tol is not reacting to all disinformation, just that emanating from Judith. This seems to me to indicate a difference in expectation – and he is explicit in suggesting she has a responsibility that the others do not.

Michael Tobis:

Our future requires an unprecedented amount of interdisciplinary thinking. This in turn provides us with an unprecedented problem, the problem of recognition of authority across disciplines. These discriminations are deeply consequential, and it is the job of public communicators of science to help the public make them. And here, Judith Curry sets herself up as an arbiter of science, and fails.


By prominently stating inexpert opinion with an expert hat on Curry behaves in a way I consider unconscionable. Whether she overestimates her own capacities, or underestimates those of the substantive participants in the field, or both, she is muddying the discussion every bit as much as the willful acts of propagandists, and the clumsy contributions of marginal participants, do.

It does in fact call into question the functionality of climate science that Curry has attained to a position of repute.

But the case of a department chair with no sophistication in statistics taking on uncertainty as a cause is a profound embarrassment to the field. There is no denying this.

I think Curry should STFU, or at least stick to such matters, if any, where she has reason for confidence in what she says. 

Tom Scharf:

Some people would prefer a more rigid authoritarian gate keeping system, which has advantages when executed properly, and some choose to run their forums that way (ahem…RC…Tobis).  Let the market sort it out.

The potential flaw with the rigid gate keeping system is who polices the gate keepers?  This is arguably where the climate community and the IPCC has failed the public, and I support JC’s effort to right that wrong.

Jonathan Gilligan:

If we want blogs to aspire to some kind of authority—to be reliable sources of information—then Tol’s criticisms are right on target and Curry calling attention to spurious analysis is akin (in a distant way) to a major newspaper giving prominent coverage to pseudoscientific studies that cast doubt on the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. 

However, if we don’t view blogs as journalism and don’t treat them as sources of authority, then Tol is barking up the wrong tree. Pielke has said that he views blogs as more like the kind of discussions people conduct over beers at the neighborhood bar, and from that perspective Richard’s criticism makes no more sense than telling the crowd at the pub to leave sports commentary to the experts.

Tol makes some valid points here, but Pielke is more persuasive. People will read these blogs or not as they choose, and when a blog repeatedly calls attention to crap, its credibility and its audience will adjust to reflect this. Climate Etc. is not The Wall Street Journal, so the greater danger in Curry’s gushing over crap is to Curry’s reputation, not to the public understanding of science.


Back to the role of blogs: Tol wants academics’ public blogs to follow an academic kind of code of responsible posting. Curry wants her blog to be a more informal place where she can try out half-baked ideas and get feedback. She describes herself as a few years from retirement and not terribly concerned with her professional reputation (that’s part of her soi-disant Radical Scholar shtick). Each to his/her own. One result is that thoughtful people will take Tol’s blogging much more seriously because he’s clear that he takes care what he posts. But I really don’t see any good reason why Curry should have to run her blog according to Tol’s preferences, so long as she is clear about what she’s trying to do with her blog. 

Michael Larkin:

That’s not what Judith does. She does something much more subtle and, it has to be said, educational, though not all seem to be able to grasp it.

She’s a facilitator. She’s not didactic (all the best adult educators are like that – education being my professional specialty). Her purpose is not to impart knowledge from a lofty point, but to act as an enabler for open discussion and the development and exercise of critical thinking. She allows anyone with a view to put it out there, and does so without fear or favour. They will stand or fall by the force of their own arguments.

Her views, and I’m sure she has them, are neither here nor there. Genuinely sceptical people do not accept arguments from authority, so what point in her attempting to influence them?

A good adjective for Judith is “humble”. Very few have the moral integrity or intellectual courage not to try to influence through applying their own authority. In the blogosphere, she’s so far above most in wisdom that many can’t perceive what she is doing without getting a crick in the neck.

Richard Tol:

Academic freedom is an old privilege. Academics can report the results of their research without fearing that the political fall-out would affect their economic security or their career.
But freedom creates duty. Academics should not publicly mingle in discussions on topics that are outside their expertise.
In the discussion, Curry admits that she had not thoroughly considered the original guest post by Ludeke; and it also clear that she does not have any particular expertise in statistics.
Curry thus exercises her democratic right to write whatever, but fails her academic duty to restraint in public.

Nullius in Verba:

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. The thing that bothers people about Judith is that she meets all the requirements to be a “scientific authority”, and so it completely ruins all the arguments from authority to have her sometimes batting for the other team. It’s not that people are worried the public will take these papers seriously because Judith chose to highlight them, it’s that they can’t attack them without also attacking the basis of argument from authority on which they rely. They’re peer-reviewed papers being presented by a professor of climatology. How are non-experts supposed to know what the orthodoxy they’re supposed to believe is, if you can’t trust the experts to know what they’re talking about? Or if the experts don’t speak with one consistent voice, not having “curated” away any different opinions before letting the public see it?

The problem Judith poses is not simply about what it does to her own site’s usefulness or reputation, or what confusion any snippets of “misinformation” she passes on might cause, but what it does to the very idea of gatekeepers and trusted authorities whose self-appointed task it is to separate the wheat from the chaff on behalf of us lesser mortals, and ensure we only get to see that side of the picture.

In science, no ideas are out of bounds for discussion. I’ve seen physicists seriously discuss tachyonic neutrinos and time machines and bridges to other universes hidden inside spinning black holes, and what consequences they might have. When I see some claim that nobody is allowed to question, my immediate reaction is to turn the rock over to see what is hiding underneath. The usual reason for people not liking questions is that there is something about it they don’t understand – if they did, they’d be only too happy to explain it.

But this doesn’t mean they’re being dishonest in doing so. What usually happens is that when they are taught it the teacher glosses over that part, says something plausible and moves on swiftly, and the student internalises the step or assumption as “obvious” without being aware of it. They checked the premises, they listened to the argument without any alarms going off, so the conclusion must be solid. They can’t remember exactly what the argument was, but know it must have been a good one. It’s a constant and serious danger.

So it’s a good exercise to sometimes consider crazy ideas, and construct again the chain of reasoning by which you can know it is wrong. Whether you can personally be bothered to participate in every such exercise is another matter, but it’s not a bad thing to do.

JC comments:  What an astonishing and interesting range of ideas and opinions on the role of academics, expertise/authorities,  and blogs.  Not to mention the range of opinions on what Climate Etc. is all about.  Michael Tobis and Richard Tol have an authoritarian/gatekeeping view of academics.  The other people whose comments I quoted generally seem to get what I am up to with Climate Etc. (whether or not they think it is worthwhile).

325 responses to “Public engagement on climate change

  1. Willis Eschenbach

    Judith, that list of quotes was absolutely wonderful. My greatest congratulations to you, this is a most excellent post.


    • Yes, an expert selection from another blog shows it can be a great service in itself.

    • Professor Curry,

      I wish you well in presenting the case for “Public Engagement on Climate Change” at the upcoming AGU meeting. A great deal is at stake.

      You may be “ambushed” by the politically powerful. In Jan 1976, the late Dr. Dwarka Das Sabu and I submitted a comment [1] to Science for publication and the abstract for presentation at the National AGU Meeting in Washington DC in April 1976.

      1. “Strange xenon, extinct super-heavy elements, and the solar neutrino puzzle”, Science 195, 208-209 (1977)

      When we arrived at the AGU meeting, the schedule of speakers had been discarded in favor of a new program, an astrophysicist (without abstract) had been inserted into the program before me to suggest “A Nearby Supernova Triggered Formation of the Solar System.”

      That story, already falsified by 1975 experimental data:

      Received worldwide news coverage, convinced someone at Science to reject our paper in May 1976, and almost aborted our effort to inform the public know the Sun is an unstable heat source, remains of the supernova that gave birth to the Solar System five billion years (5 Gyr) ago .

      By the kindness of Fate, Dr. Raymond Bisplinghoff was Chancellor of UMR. He convinced the editor of Science to let us resubmit the paper [1] again and it was published in early 1977.

      God be with you!
      Oliver K. Manuel

    • Thank you Dr. Curry. I now know a few more people to whom I should not turn by back.

      @ R. Tol: Academic freedom is an old privilege Just ask Galileo who had his privilege revoked by the Inquisition.

      Privilege, huh? Def: a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most.

      So, R. Tol believes that Academic Freedom is not a right. He believes a privilege can be granted and, by inference, taken away by the authorities and masters.

      Yes. Thank you, Dr. Curry.

  2. Thanks, Professor Curry, for being a spokesperson for sanity in an increasingly insane world.

    World leaders, Al Gore, and the UN have no control over Earth’s violently unstable heat source – the Sun – and therefore no control over Earth’s constantly changing climate.

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

    • Dear dr Manuel,
      What is your comment to this event?

      • Thanks, Stubben, for the visual image of a violent event that a.) world leaders, b.) the UN’s IPCC, leaders of the scientific community, and c.) an army of government-funded scientists dismiss as unrelated to the causes of Earth’s changing climate.

        I traveled today but was inspired (insight) to consider the discoveries (enlightenments) of science (spirituality) that revealed the Great Reality that surrounds and sustains us in a paper that I hope to start writing tomorrow: “AGW, Dark Energy and Neutron Repulsion.”

        The first two item in the title are widely endorsed as scientific facts by a.) – c.) above and acknowledged in Nobel Prize speeches. The last item is recorded as mass (stored energy, E = mc^2) in the rest mass of every nucleus with two or more neutrons.

        Neutron repulsion in the solar core or magnetic fields ejected from iron-rich material surrounding the solar core [1] likely produced the violent solar event captured in the image you asked about:

        1. “Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate,” JFE 21, 193-198 (2002)

      • Correct typo:

        Thanks, Stubben, for the visual image of a violent event that a.) world leaders, b.) the UN’s IPCC, c.) leaders of the scientific community, and d.) an army of government-funded scientists dismiss as unrelated to the causes of Earth’s changing climate . . .

        The first two item in the title are widely endorsed as scientific facts by a.) – d.) above . . .

  3. The contrast with the Physics community is the one that strikes anyone who has had something to do with it.

    Climate Science looks absolutely awful when people in positions of authority start talking about how to, effectively, censor ideas they don’t like. It looks like Climate Science is being used to provide cover for environmental ideology.

    • The foundation of AGW rests on a lock-step consensus opinion that dominated Physics (Astronomy and Cosmology) since 1971: Earth’s heat source is a giant ball of Hydrogen (H), steadily being fused into Helium (He) “at equilibrium.”

      In fact hydrogen is a trace element inside the Sun, a waste product that is continuously generated and discarded to interstellar space. See “Deep roots of the global climate scandal (1971-2011)” and references cited there.

      • In fact hydrogen is a trace element inside the Sun, a waste product that is continuously generated and discarded to interstellar space.

        Do all stars work that way?

        Might the Big Bang have started with a bunch of uranium molecules that came together by gravitational attraction until they were close enough for a chain reaction to set in, with a massive nuclear fission explosion that blew out vast quantities of incredibly hot iron, each fragment of which became the basis for a star? The iron has then somehow been generating and discarding hydrogen ever since.

        Is there a simple (one-paragraph) explanation of how iron produces hydrogen? Can the mechanism be demonstrated in the laboratory?

        And where does the Main Sequence fit in this account? (Google “main sequence”.)

        Just asking. I belong to the cult that believes the lightest elements came first. There’s room enough in conceptual space for all these points of view, including turtles all the way down.

      • There’s room enough in conceptual space for all these points of view, including turtles all the way down.

        often it takes little turtles to upset the existing paradigm,reorganizing theory.A clash of doctrines is more often an opportunity,then a form of secular heresy eg Whitehead.

        A nice example is the solar neutrino problem described by Sagan

        The clash of doctrines was a binary problem ie either the solar standard model was broken, or the standard model of particle physics was. eg Bahcall.

        And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
        Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.

    • That is because Climate Science IS being used to provide cover for environmental ideology. This fact is why we are all here, and not on some physics blog.

  4. “the problem of recognition of authority across disciplines”

    When AIDS appeared in the early 80’s it was a pressing matter, in the USA the leading expert, and expert on HTLV, was convinced that AIDS was a HTLV in France they believed it was a new form of reterovirus. The French were right. The US came out with an rapid HIV assay and the French, for political reasons, worked on their own. What ever the motives, the French diluted their HIV problem away by pooling boold; which led to a generation of people, mostly hemophiliacs, dying of AIDS.
    The main authority in the USA, who still pretty much runs things and has been known to destroy the careers of young scientists, misdirected research for more than two year, chasing down the HTLV

    Whoever wrote “the problem of recognition of authority across disciplines” has never studied the history of science. Indeed, the person comes across as a first class ass-kisser.

    • In a cult of ass-kissing, the 1st class ass-kissers are the top dogs, privileged to service the alpha-leader; everybody else is forced to line up behind them.

  5. Tobis and Tol probably see you as an apostate or borderline heretic.

    Keep up the good work. I have learned much from the many contributors to Climate, Etc. Tavern discussion or salon, it works for me.

  6. The comments quoted here show that the consensus climate scientists do not want engagement with the public. They want obeisance.

    But I do like this comment from Tol: “Academics should not publicly mingle in discussions on topics that are outside their expertise.”

    Presumably he and other climate scientists will now withdraw from the public policy debate.

    • Richard Tol is a social scientist / economist specialising in climate policy. The public policy debate is precisely his area of expertise.

      • You cannot just blow off this matter. If Tol is going to insist that scientists stay within their areas of expertise then there must be some standards for those areas. Tol cannot just declare himself a climate scientist. He has to actually produce something that contributes to climate science. Having produced something, by his own principle, he would have to limit his remarks to those topics.

      • Based on reading the article he linked regarding an Irish carbon tax, he is a poor economist, so I hope he is good at studying the climate.

    • Paul,

      Then, presumably, climate is not?

      • As far as I know he doesn’t have any background or education in atmospheric physics, oceanography, meteorology etc. so, no, I’d say climate science doesn’t come under the umbrella of his expertise.

      • Well gee, now I am so confused…

        If Tol is a social scientist/economist, and “Academics should not publicly mingle in discussions on topics that are outside their expertise,” then maybe someone could explain why he posts a guest comment on this blog, explaining to Dr. Curry, a climate scientist, why she should not have even posted for discussion a paper on climate science.

        Not to mention critiquing the papers himself on the basis of their use of statistics – shouldn’t that only come from a statistician based on his quoted statement?

      • A bit of research is never bad. My CV is in the public domain. I have an MSc in econometrics, which is a branch of statistics. I have a PhD in economics. I have a joint appointment in geo/earth sciences and economics.

      • That would answer the second question on statistics.

        And what would my research tell me as to your critiquing a climate scientist’s decision to post a climate paper for review?

  7. Climate change communication is complicated by complexity..

    Or perhaps inability of communicators to communicate?

  8. The most difficult to reckon with now is everyone knows there is no accountability for academic fraud. The system is broke. The education industrial complex has become tmlhe greatest threat to individual liberty.

    • Wagathon


      Everyone knows the greatest threat to individual liberty is fluoride in drinking water. ;)

  9. I think it would be very illuminating to find out how the AGU likes having an English major like Chris Mooney not only speaking for the AGU but implying that the AGU supports his extremism and neo-eugenics approach to public discourse.
    From Tol’s comments regarding the IPCC expose, it is clear he has a very nuanced approach to this great disputation.
    Best wishes on a constructive AGU meeting.

    • Actually, I have heard that Chris Mooney has resigned from his position on the AGU Committee.

      • In light of the reaction to recent book pressers, perhaps Tobis and the AGU gently suggested to Mooney ‘that he STFU’…

      • There’s nothing new about some “skeptics”analogizing “realists” to people who advocated forced sterilization of minorities.

      • Joshua,
        And it is a great analgoy everytime it is used.
        If Mooney ahs in fact been tossed out, it would seem that more than a few educated mature people would agree.
        So was there a point with your whine, or were you going to ask for some cheese to go with it?

      • Dr. Curry,
        If this proves to be true, it is great news.
        Mooney’s extremism has had the net result of deceiving people, inflaming the issue and actually degrading the comunication process. that means he has had the opposite impact he promoted himself as being able to achieve.

  10. Judith,

    I see people trying to dominate their authority over the public pushing global warming in some cases through snow storms.
    Also rather than investigating new discoveries or concepts, the old one will be pushed with inferior concepts that do not cover many areas for the sake of just temperature data.

  11. Judith,

    Could there be space for a paragraph or two on getting scientists to engage with one another, not just on how they should engage with the public?

    Over the past fifteen month on this website I have seen some pleasant and decently civil exchanges between scientists, where they narrow down the point of disagreement, and I wish there were more of them. I’ve read a distinction in the last day or so between ‘Climate scientists’ (defined as physicists) and ‘climate change scientists’ (defined as everyone else who thinks they have a real contribution to make), and feel that we could do with real exchanges between them all.

    What happens here is that most of those who enter, as scientists, assert their point, often in contradiction to someone else, and then leave. My reaction is to feel, even more strongly, that virtually nothing is settled in this domain.

    It seems to me almost a prior condition of better engagement with the public is that there should be better engagement between scientists. Could you make such a point (if you agree, as I think you do)?

    • Good point Don!

    • @Don “My reaction is to feel, even more strongly, that virtually nothing is settled in this domain.”

      I agree, the AGW debate is a merry-go-round in which nothing ever seems to coalesce into something that is acceptable to everyone.

      Girma is a typical example of argument by circular reasoning, where short term graphs are substituted for a better longer term understanding of the AGW issue.

    • “It seems to me almost a prior condition of better engagement with the public is that there should be better engagement between scientists.”

      I could not agree more. In the rare instances that scientists do engage in public it is often reticent and limited to bald statements of an individual’s position without a real argument about the nitty gritty. A fear of public failure perhaps?

    • Good point. There seem to be a few things going on in this regard. First, the blogosphere, but most scientists don’t feel comfortable in this venue. Second, more and more scientists outside the group of “card carrying climate scientists” (whatever that means) are coming to the Fall AGU meeting, and even making presentations (note Vaughan Pratt and Mosher are attending; others?)

      I don’t think this will sell to to “authoritarians” in the group since they seem to want to protect the turf on which their authority is based.

      • Judith, the more I have thought about this, the more relevant it seems to be. Speaking as one who finds the science tricky, I nonetheless gain more by observing an argument between scientists with opposing views than I do from listening to individuals merely stating their position on a matter. Unfortunately, scientists rarely seem to argue in public, preferring to remain at arm’s length and write rebuttals and counter rebuttals, with weeks passing between each exchange and often failing to address each other’s points. That is why it is great when opposing scientists do take the plunge and engage in hand to hand combat in the blogosphere. It is high risk though and takes them out of their comfort zone which is probably why it does not happen very often.

  12. Judith,

    Skepticism may be healthy but it still is not being listen to.
    That’s okay.
    Not long from now climate science will be in a crisis of confidence.

    • Especially if the IPCC comes out and recognizes an increased level of uncertainty in their next report

  13. I think it is fine to put papers like Ludecke out there, but it seems JC didn’t weigh in on it with an opinion in either direction (that I noticed at least). My opinion there was that it is just looking for warming trends in individual station data, which everyone knew was impossible even before they showed it with their statistics. Was it a valuable paper? I think the value is in seeing its flaws so that they are not repeated. I often approach skeptic papers as a spot-the-error challenge, so it is entertaining from that perspective.

    • Thats a very interesting priori position you adopt there.

    • My opinion there was that it is just looking for warming trends in individual station data, which everyone knew was impossible even before they showed it with their statistics.

      The individual station data is simply at too short a collection time interval. I tried pulling out statistics from one set of data that they used, in this case Vienna, and all I could detect was white noise at a multiscale level. The differential variances were flat from 1 to 100 year time scales indicating no long term correlations.

  14. I’ve seen a lot of open criticism of Paul Krugman’s editorials from other economists; and I would venture that his views (which reach a much larger audience than this blog does) are not shared by the majority of economists in the various subdisciplines Krugman regularly invades, and most publicly to boot. I know that when he ventures onto my turf, he is usually, um, out of his depth. Still, I can’t recall any economists I know, or have read, moralizing about Krugman’s public responsibilities as a card-carrying, nay Nobel-carrying economist.

    I would further venture that many of the same people who moralize about Dr. Curry’s responsibilities think Paul is a swell guy, and would bristle mightily if I suggested he should STFU.

    • Good one!!! :-)

    • Krugman is one nasty dude.
      I think you are very much correct regarding who supports his angry extremism and those who see a great climate crisis.

    • Krugman’s views were more nuanced before he took a job with the NY Times. In a 1996 interview with the Boston Review, he says of Social Security that “the Ponzi game will soon be over.” He’s now embarrassed to admit that his Nobel-prize-winning economic models were influenced by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

      • I daresay many economics students were influenced by the Foundation “phycohistory” concept. But that was before chaos theory was developed, though it was hinted at in the trilogy. Fortunately, some students were also influenced by “Starship Troopers” and “Atlas Shrugged”; neither of which are likely on Krugman’s favorites list.

      • Economists realize the real key events were in 1983 & 1985 when the social security funding source was changed to come from general revenue. That act made it easier to hide the lack of funding for a while.

        People generally like to believe you can get something for nothing from government. LOL—not so over the long term and the EU and the US are finally learning 9ok–the US not so much yet

      • TANSTAAFL!

  15. John Carpenter

    It is good to see the majority of commenters take the position of getting all information out for debate… even those ideas that are sketchy. Science is really performed by grownups… so as grownups, we are capable of reading, evaluating and deciding what are valid ideas/analyses/conclusions and what are not. Tobis’s and Tol’s authoritarian ideas of how information should be meted out are not only scientifically unethical, but are completely scientifically undemocratic. That is not to say arriving at ‘scientific truth’ is done by a democratic ‘vote’ per se, but the process of understanding the truth is a democratic process. Examining a hypothesis or theory from all angles and allowing scientific discourse to eliminate the weak arguments is a completely democratic process. Disallowing ideas/analyses/conclusions for discussion only further enhances natural skepticism most people have.

    If we really need to mitigate CO2 to prevent catastrophe, do we want the likes of Tobis leading the charge or Curry?

  16. Judy – I think it’s possible to appreciate the value of your general approach to topic coverage at Climate Etc while sometimes disagreeing with particular choices. In that sense, I believe that some of the criticisms you cite are really focused on the latter but have overgeneralized their conclusions in a way that creates an inaccurate impression.

    As one who has both agreed and disagreed at times, I think you could diffuse some of the criticism and perhaps add to the value of this blog by considering some relatively small adjustments. The first simply entails disclosure to the “public” – i.e, the readers who wander by rather than regular participants – that your choice of a paper or a guest poster is not an endorsement but an invitation to discuss a topic of considerable current interest. This may be obvious to “regulars” here but it is not the standard way of doing things and so casual bystanders are likely to be misled without a standard disclaimer of this type.

    My second suggestion is more substantive and reflects some partial agreement with the critics. There is an important place here for analyzing seriously flawed papers as a means of learning from the mistakes. This is particularly true for papers that have been highly touted in the blogosphere by partisans in the climate wars. However, I believe there is also much learning to be derived from works of obvious importance that may harbor errors but are probably highly meritorious overall. Several of the recent WCRP position papers come to mind as well some recent papers in high impact journals.

    It will be apparent, I think, that deciding what is “highly meritorious” and what is “seriously flawed” involves judgment. Furthermore, no one person is qualified to exercise expert judgment in all areas of climate science that might be worth discussing. On the other hand, I expect that you already judge a number of climate science authors and their papers to be meritorious and potentially edifying if discussed here. At the same time, I think you can anticipate that papers by authors not known for their climate science credentials and published in marginal or irrelevant journals will frequently contain serious flaws even if that is not always predictable in advance.

    My own view is that this blog could benefit from a shift in balance toward the potentially “meritorious” papers (and guests when available). Unlike some of your critics, however, I don’t recommend that you attempt this by covering fewer of the potentially “marginal” papers but simply by covering more of the ones you would put in the clearly meritorious category. This may leave less room for politics and philosophy among your topics, but that might not be a serious omission in my view. A shift of this sort would be consistent with the theme of this post, which is focused on science communication. I hope you’ll consider it.

    “At the forthcoming AGU Fall Meeting, I have an invited talk in a session on Scientist Participation in Science Communication.”
    Judy – That topic is broad enough for me to hope you will devote some attention to an issue of great personal interest to me – the role of scientists in engaging with the public on climate change when the scientists are knowledgeable about the subject without qualifying as expert professionals who do climate science for a living. For short, I would call it “the role of the knowledgeable non-expert in climate change communication”.
    It’s personal because I put myself into that class, and I feel some frustration in my inability to find opportunities to engage with the public beyond the self-selected group of climate blog participants. You and other climate scientist professionals are often too busy to do some of these things, and so I perceive a need that is yet to be satisfied. How can that be rectified? Where are the opportunities to talk to the general public, to students, or to teachers when these audiences might welcome a dialog that is not yet forthcoming? I’ve had a few – invited talks given to science teachers and to college audiences, but the invitations are frustratingly rare.
    Two years ago, I joined the AGU (ending one year later) motivated in part by this thinking. I submitted an article to EOS for their Forum section on the topic, and after delays and (I presume) “peer review”, the editors rejected my article on the grounds that the topic had already been well covered. Perhaps they would be more receptive if the topic were raised by you or some other respected professional. I hope you’ll consider it.

    • Oops. The part in italics was something I didn’t intend to post because it’s not really relevant to your interests. Readers should focus on the non-italicized part. However, the italicized section is something that also concerns me, and if you or others want to respond to it, I’ll be grateful.

    • By way of example, the post and thread on the paper by Padilla et al was one of the most informative blogosphere discussions I’ve seen in a long time.

    • Fred. Something must be wrong. I’m finding myself agreeing with you more and more….

      I think a ‘debunked’ section for prominent papers (in this debate) would be a fantastic idea. We could even have a top 5 for each side!

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        The problem with a “debunked” section is figuring out what has actually been debunked. Some people would probably say the Ludecke papers were debunked; others would disagree. Some people would say Judith Curry is “the most debunked person on the science blogosphere.” Others would disagree.

        What I would find interesting is if we had something like the Denizens page where people were asked to say which papers/ideas (out of a list of say, ten) they believe had been “debunked.” I think it would be interesting to see how much agreement/disagreement there is.

      • I would like to see a list of unflawed papers

      • Well if you manage to find an unflawed paper, let me know…

      • It, for me, would revolve around the central claims; Or at least you’d have to restrict it to that (as you can have interesting claims that are periphary to the main thrust of the paper).

        You’d also have to identify the type of ‘debunk:
        -methodological; the tests/analysis are flawed or don’t tell/measure what the authors think it does. This would included experimental errors, controls, equipment issues etc.

        -statistical; if the incorrect method/application/data set is used/applied

        -conclusional (wd!); i.e. the conclusions are not supported by the results within.

        It actually wouldn’t be as difficult as you’d think. The issue would arise of peoples interpretation of what fits into each of these catagories for each specific paper, but if we stick to the ‘hard’ errors, then it should be relatively(!) straightforward to achieve.

        I really think it would be a useful exercise.

    • Fred,
      Have you read the ‘Teenager” book on the IPCC?
      If you have, then it is troubling that you seem unmoved.
      If you have not, then you really have no idea how far off base you are.

    • Fred, thanks for your comment. I have started implementing your first suggestion on guest post.

      Your second point is something that I planned to discuss in my AGU talk. The group of scientists you describe (which is basically my target audience) I think are quite influential with the public. If someone in your circle of acquaintances or community wanted info re climate change, is it a hoax etc., they would be likely to ask a scientist that they know.

      Al Gore tried this general strategy with a boot camp for people that wanted to learn how to give an effective seminar on AGW and the inconvenient truth.

    • Fred: There is an important place here for analyzing seriously flawed papers as a means of learning from the mistakes.

      I agree with that, but I also believe that all the climate science papers are seriously flawed.

  17. Judith,

    You’ve obviously taken the advice of Frank Luntz

    “There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science….Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field…

    Or maybe you’re more into the sort of tactics highlighted by Naomi Oreskes:

    PS I’d like to see a guest posting on Climate etc by Naomi Oreskes. Have you ever asked her? I think it and the subsequent comments would very likely be ‘interesting’ !

  18. A wider issue, evident to those of us members of the public who have followed the climate issue for the past ten years or so (inspired to taken an interest by Bjorn Lomborg and John Daly) is the way in which the advocate scientists have in effect worked with the 90% of Main Stream Media (MSM) and the politicians in an effort to secure policy outcomes that may not necessarily be very much to do with, say, the CO2 problem at all.

    Here in Australia, the parliament has just passed a Carbon Tax on the supposed basis that CO2 is a pollutant damaging the planet and the big polluters “MUST PAY!” This outcome was achieved, from the viewpoint of The Greens and their co-collaborators, just in time, with the mood of the public clearly becoming more and more sceptical.

    Al Gore, Stephen Schneider and James Hansen led a movement to scare the wits out of the general public worldwide (each has effectively said as much) in order to cause the politicians to act as if the CO2 problem was not only real, but very possibly the “worst problem facing mankind”. At one time, polls showed that 70% of the electorate in Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and Europe accepted the Al Gore viewpoint. That number has now – thanks to Climategate, the vigorous efforts of a small number of sceptical scientists, bloggers and journalists – declined markedly as the case for CO2 to be a major cause of AGW has been shown to the public as being weak.

    Walk into any bar today, and ask the patrons whether they think that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are going to cause them serious problems in their lives (all they really care about). I’ll wager that the answer is “No way”, though I acknowledge that the answer will be less politely put.

    The fact is that the reason we have seen the IPCC, RC, and many “activist” “climate scientists” behave the way they have is because they evidently support the Al Gore/Schneider/Hansen narrative (for whatever reason – I won’t speculate on motives) and wish to protect it from being challenged.

    The outcome, at least here in Australia, is that eminent “climate scientists” still make outrageous and alarmist statements that are picked up by a largely compliant press (yes, even the Murdoch press though they do provide a little balance unlike the ABC and Fairfax press) and given headlines on the front pages of the major news outlets. The politicians, even those on the Coalition side, pretend to play along with all this, saying “Look. We are not scientists. We must listen to the scientists. And besides, all of the major scientific bodies and institutions support the argument that anthropogenic CO2 is the major cause for global warming, and we MUST ACT”.

    In this sort of climate, the few brave sceptics asking challenging questions come under great pressure to shut up, including being called “deniers” and other choice ad hominem attacks.

    The reality is that, for “all the years of talking”, those responsible have never responded to the key questions asked persistently here such as where is the evidence that anthropogenic CO2 is a major cause of global warming? Where does anthropogenic CO2 fit in with natural causes and land-use factors as a cause for global, regional and local warming? And particularly, If Australia introduces a Carbon Tax (as it has now done) what difference will that make to global CO2 emissions and global warming?

    As an individual watching all this with bemusement, I see that we have been lied to time and time again. We have been fed BS and wrong information. Questions have not been answered. Those asking the questions are demonised as “deniers” and there are numerous examples of subsequent loss of entitlements.

    From my viewpoint, I regard Climate Audit, Bishop Hill, WUWT, Jo Nova and the input of both Pielke’s to have been essential in countering the Gore/Schneider/Hansen political movement. And in recent times, those questioning voices have been added to by a very courageous Judith Curry. Climate Etc has quickly emerged as a leading place for discussion of the issues.

    It is far beyond time for those supporting the Gore/Schneider/Hansen narrative to enage in the discussions and to respond to the questions.

    • “As an individual watching all this with bemusement, I see that we have been lied to time and time again. We have been fed BS and wrong information. Questions have not been answered. Those asking the questions are demonised as “deniers” and there are numerous examples of subsequent loss of entitlements. ”

      mondo, I see the same.

      For forty years I have studied and followed physics out of my love and respect of the great minds that got us this far that I end up knowing enough to see what they are doing, and it is wrong, but, to any of them I am hand-waving (their favorite put-down), but, still around and around goes this climate “science” merry-go-round. It is enough to make anyone sick.

      Such incredibly simple basic physics questions that cannot seem to be answered for their noise. That is how you know this is nothing but a charade.

    • mondo,
      When eugenicists hijacked the public square, they claimed their policies had to do with public health and the advancement of humanity.
      In fact the laws were simply veneers used to justify the racism and ethnic bigotry of the eugenicists.
      And the laws did not accomplish any of the stated goals.
      At its peak, the eugenics movement was led by many of the leading scientists and statesmen of the day.
      There is little different today between the AGW movement and the eugenics movement.
      One can only hope the AGW movement does not end as badly as its historical predecessor.

      • Bingo.
        The history of science and medicine is littered with examples of authoritative ‘science’ leading to very poor public policy outcomes.
        The drug wars that are engulfing Central America, Mexico and Afghanistan are ‘science’ based.
        The destruction of midwifery in the USA was ‘science’ based.
        The removal of vestigial organs was ‘science’ based.
        Incarcerating young women who had explored their sexuality in metal asylums for life was ‘science’ based.
        Irradiating orphans and giving them radionuclides was ‘science’ based.
        Observing, but not treating, African-Americans with syphilis was ‘science’ based.
        Spraying passengers on the New York subway system with bacteria and viruses was ‘science’ based.
        The treatment of erectile dysfunction by psychotherapy ended almost overnight when Viagra came onto the market. Suddenly a whole profession saw it major income stream vanish.
        What do you think these highly trained professionals did when they couldn’t blame mother?
        ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and then 5% each year since then.
        Nice work if you can get it.

      • Doc,
        “ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and then 5% each year since then.”

        Normal is a symptom of something, better to treat it than let it fester.

      • You can’t digitize human behavior without creating artifacts.

      • Very nice comment on the subject of authoritarian ‘science-based’ medicine. However, you left off one of the better examples: the administering of turpentine injections as cure for Christianity in the mental institutions of the former Soviet Union.

      • The Soviets were always so cutting edge. :)

      • Doc –

        The history of science and medicine is littered with examples of authoritative ‘science’ leading to very poor public policy outcomes.

        If you had to guess, what would you judge the balance to be wrt the costs/benefits of public policy outcomes resulting from science and medicine?

      • I can see you have never taken part in an ethics of science course.
        We cannot, must not, have a ends justify means view of progress.
        If you are unable to understand the difference between individual and societal costs and benefits you are a moral pervert.
        One can justify the actions of Burke and Hare on a societal cost/benefit analysis.
        It is depressing that I need to make this point.

      • Doc –

        I think you’re mistaken. I am not justifying means by virtue of ends as some sort of categorical framework. In fact, I am questioning your assignation of “authoritarian” only to scientific outcomes that are negative. My sense is that you’re working backwards – selecting negative outcomes and then singularly attributing them to authoritarianism when there may be any number of other factors at play. The question about positive outcomes is a test. Can you work backwards from positive outcomes to categorically differentiate their process as being non-authoritarian? I suspect not. That would mean that your causal explanation of authoritarianism resulting in those negative outcomes might be questionable. If the positive outcomes were produced by the same scientific processes, then negative authoritarianism was not the operative factor. My sense is that the same processes of science would essentially apply in both categories of outcomes – a mixture of processes that cannot be categorically qualified as “authoritarian,” although aspects of authoritarianism may be applicable in various ways.

        I’m not suggesting that “bad science” doesn’t occur, nor that people in positions of authority don’t sometimes inflict “bad science” to the detriment of others. I’m suggesting that a binary perspective on the authority of accepted expertise is not sufficiently nuanced to either explain reality nor to examine the optimal processes of science that can maximize both social benefit and democratic principles.

        If you are unable to understand the difference between individual and societal costs and benefits you are a moral pervert.

        Outside of suggesting that I’m a moral pervert, I’m not entirely clear what you’re saying there. Do you see something in what I said that suggests that I am not able to “understand the difference between individual and societal costs and benefits?” I don’t really see the connection you’re making – but if that is the case you you explain how what I said led you to that conclusion?

        Let me ask what I think might be a related question – maybe that will help me to understand. If there were a pandemic that threatened to kills millions and millions of people, and “authoritarian” science determined that a particular vaccine would prevent the deaths of millions and millions, would that “authority” represent some kind of moral depravity? Further, if some members of society refused to be vaccinated on a belief that the vaccinations were harmful – despite that virtually all qualified experts said such concerns were unfounded – and thereby presenting an eminent threat to those who willingly accepted vaccination, would you say that categorically, it would be morally perverted to forcibly vaccinate those opposed? Would it be morally enlightened to simply allow those opposed to getting vaccinated to cause the deaths of millions? Is there some in-between process that would be more acceptable?

        As near as I can determine, that question might be related to the point you were making?

        One can justify the actions of Burke and Hare on a societal cost/benefit analysis.

        Once again, I would ask that you explain this reference. I don’t understand what you’re getting at.

      • Joshua | November 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm proposes a most interesting mind experiment: “… a pandemic that threatened to kills millions and millions of people, and “authoritarian” science determined that a particular vaccine would prevent the deaths of millions and millions, would that “authority” represent some kind of moral depravity?”…. “Is there some in-between process that would be more acceptable?”

        Let’s consider a second mind experiment. Dr. Revkin (in a talk at U. Conn) observed a human population trajectory reaching 9 billion people in the future. Some “authorities” predicted disaster if that happens. In the statement above, substitute “human population” for “pandemic”. Would we favor a political policy dictating one child per family? Forced sterilization for violations? (Dr. Revkin did not advocate that.) One country did so.

        In place of “some in-between process”, consider an alternative approach not dependent upon “authority”.
        – Hybrid seed stocks developed for greater productivity in targeted regional climates using assets produced by businesses.
        – Mechanization of farming using private assets produced by greater farm productivity.
        – Education supported by government through taxes (Farm Bureaus).
        – Decline in the size of farm families in that there was reduced need for “spare parts”.
        – The alternative country exports food to the authoritative country.

        This is over-simplified, but I do think that 300 million people with boots on the ground can out-think and outperform remote bureaucracies. :-) The alternative boils down to liberty.

      • Ooops! Sorry for the shouting. I missed a closing tag.

  19. It appears the consensus is that BEST temperature data since 1998 was flat. Which proves the IPCC AGW models were all wrong. Given this the Congressional Climate Briefing should be pushing “An end to AGW Theory” and immediately pass legislation ending all the government waste and fraud associated with AGW theory. This would help to decrease the deficit, create 100s of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern Oil. For 99% of the folks this would be great news. Sad to say our elected politicians will most likely ignore the aforementioned facts disproving AGW theory and instead back the 1% green crony capitalists, ivy league climate scientists, watermelon environmentalists and government bureaucrats who are living high on the hog off the tax payer dollars.

    • “it appears the consensus is that BEST temperature data since 1998 was flat. Which proves the IPCC AGW models were all wrong. t appears the consensus is that BEST temperature data since 1998 was flat. Which proves the IPCC AGW models were all wrong. ”

      It appears you have never looked at a single IPCC model run. The mean of all model runs ( 50+) did not show a “dip”, “flattening” “slowdown”, However,
      Some runs in some models did in fact show what we have observed.

      Again: Some of the runs in some of the models did in fact, the mean of all of the models did not.

      You and the facts need an introduction

      • “It appears you have never looked at a single IPCC model run”

        Is each run an hypothesis or does the average of a large number of runs provide one with an ‘average’ and confidence levels for all the predictions?

        I ask this in all humility. You see I do not know of a ‘run’ represents an experiment, from which we can explore the statistics of a process, or is a mathematically based hypothesis?

        If each run is an experiment, then from the end result of a single run, we cannot gain information about rates or levels. We would have to run a large number to know at what frequency the models predict a flattening of the temperature curve.

      • Steve
        You seem to be intentionally misleading when it come to the output of the current crop of GCM’s.

        Do individual models provide consistent results or does the output vary depending on how many times the model is run with the same data?
        What is the rationale for averaging the results of many different models vs. determining and selecting the one model which forecasts the most accurately?
        What have the models been designed to accurately predict? What is the expected margin of error the models are expected to perform within over what time frames?
        Has any GCM been able to demonstrate its ability to consistently and accurately predict the future conditions that are important to humans from a policy perspective? (Temperature and annual rainfall)

        For you to write that some model predicted that temperature would be flat for the last 10 years is just misleading unless you also comment on the general accuracy of that model overall. It you look at enough models you could find anything you want, but that does not mean the model can actually forecast future conditions.

      • “It appears you have never looked at a single IPCC model run. The mean of all model runs ( 50+) did not show a “dip”, “flattening” “slowdown”, However,
        Some runs in some models did in fact show what we have observed.”

        You cannot do this with sets of physical hypotheses. They either agree totally or they are in conflict. Only one of them can be correct. Have you ever wondered about the differences between physical hypotheses and models?

      • However,
        Some runs in some models did in fact show what we have observed.

        Which ones?

        Do you think that their forecasts for the future should be given more weight (e.g. Bayesian model averaging) than the models that were least accurate, or should the unweighted mean still be quoted?

        Is it known how the more accurate models produced their more accurate result?

      • I think mosher has unintentionally given the impression that the models with low trends over this period made a correct prediction. They didn’t. All you’re seeing is the internal variability in some models coincidentally having similar properties to internal variability in the real world.

        I doubt any of the modellers would expect their projections to closely match reality over this relatively short period. Their purpose was multidecadal projection. The point is that models which produce 3+ºC warming by the end of the 21st Century (dependent on scenario) also produce occasional short-term slowdowns or even negative trends due to their internal ‘natural’ fluctuations.

        I think there are inferences that can be made about some of the models, though this is also possible before the projection period starts (i.e. at the end of the 20th Century hindcast). To illustrate here is the full 17-member ensemble* for the A2 scenario and here is a cut-down 12-member* version, with rejection based solely on the quality of 20th Century hindcast match. Unfortunately this doesn’t significantly affect sensitivity range or amount of warming by 2100.

        * Note that the line marked ‘w. solar’ includes a sine wave, amplitude 0.1ºC, wavelength ~12 years, representing the solar cycle

      • In the hearing today, Santer made a point about this. Modelers are just beginning to initialize models in a way that would make a prediction of something like “the pause.”

        I do think I am right that Keenlyside et al and Smith et al used modeling to predict something happening in the last half of the 2000s that is sort of like “the pause.”

      • All you’re seeing is the internal variability in some models coincidentally having similar properties to internal variability in the real world.

        This could be stated better. How about: All you’re seeing is the internal chaotic variability in some models conspiring to produce short-term flat or negative trends which are coincidentally similar to those calculated using real-world data over periods with the same nomenclature (e.g. ‘2000’ to ‘2010’).

      • Hi JCH,

        Yes, that’s a good point. Looks like this is going to be covered in AR5 but it’s early days.

        Regarding the original post in this little thread detour, the 1998-2010.2 BEST trend is 0.23ºC/Decade. That’s an odd definition of flat.

      • Steve, a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day.

        Build enough models with enough variables and run them enough times and you are likely (greater than 90%) to get flat temps, declining temps and temps which bounce 10 degrees a decade.

        While this is fun, it is not science. There is no physicality to the multi-models.

        Did the models which went flat predict the flatness? And if they did, why did they? Was it the oceans storing the heat? The ever convenient aerosols? Soot? Clouds turning out to be a negative factor?

        Realistically, in 1998 or 1995 or 2000, not a single member of the modeling community stood up and said, “Because of “x” our model is predicting that there will be no statistically significant warming for the next 10 or 15 or 30 years.”

        Why not? Well, because not a single member of that community had a model which said any such thing. A few runs may have but, let’s face it, they were not consistent with the narrative and, if reported at all, lived in the endnotes.

        The modeling community got it wrong. With luck, and some major rethinking, they might get it right over the next couple of decades.


  20. The IPCC AGW Models have been proven to be false: See below

    “The new paper, from a team of researchers led by Andreas Schmittner of Oregon State University, throws cold water on the IPCC’s tails. Here is its rather provocative abstract:

    Assessing impacts of future anthropogenic carbon emissions is currently impeded by uncertainties in our knowledge of equilibrium climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide doubling. Previous studies suggest 3 K as best estimate, 2–4.5 K as the 66% probability range, and non-zero probabilities for much higher values, the latter implying a small but significant chance of high-impact climate changes that would be difficult to avoid. Here, combining extensive sea and land surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum with climate model simulations we estimate a lower median (2.3 K) and reduced uncertainty (1.7–2.6 K 66% probability). Assuming paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future as predicted by our model, these results imply lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.

    Figure 2 shows the distribution of the range of the earth’s probable climate sensitivity as determined by Schmittner et al. Note the rapid drop-off in the probability that the climate sensitivity is much greater than 3°C (the IPCC “best estimate” for the sensitivity), and that the distribution falls off less slowly towards the left (towards lower sensitivity) than towards the right (higher sensitivities). The “fat right-hand tail” of the distribution is gone and the possibility that the climate sensitivity is in the 1°C to 2°C range is not minimal.”

    • You need an introduction to the facts.

      the sensitivity for all the models ranges between 2.1 and 4.4

      This paper does not and cannot prove a model false.

      It is a piece of evidence that the range of sensitivities covered by all the models is too high on one end and too low on the other.

      When you actually read Ar4 let us know

  21. co2 is going up and temperatures are falling the exact opposite of IPCC AGW models: See Below

    Climate reality keeps defying (mocking?) the IPCC’s Climategate scientists. When examining the global temperature trends, it is clear that global warming has actually been missing for the last 15 years. This has definitely been the case of the continental U.S., as the graph on the left depicts.

    And, as the chart on the right depicts, this “global cooling” of the U.S continues in spite of the world’s ten worst accelerating CO2 emitters (below the red line) over the last two years. The countries increasing their CO2 emissions the most are: South Africa (home of Durban), Egypt, Brazil, Vietnam, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India and China.

    The NOAA/NCDC chart represents the 15 years (180 months), starting November 1, 1996 and ending October 31, 2011. Per these latest U.S. official temperature data records, the 12-month period ending October was the 5th coldest October-ending period for the last 15 years.

    In terms of a single month, October 2011 was the 33rd warmest since 1895 (October 1963 was the warmest).

    The per century cooling trend of this period, a minus 3.7°F, took place despite the huge warmth produced by two large El Niño events during this 15-year span: 1997-1998 and 2009-2010.

    For the 10-year period ending October 2011 (November 1, 2001 thru October, 2011 – 120 months), the cooling trend accelerates to a very significant minus 10.6°F per century rate – again, per the updated NOAA/NCDC temperature records.

    • “The countries increasing their CO2 emissions the most are: South Africa (home of Durban), Egypt, Brazil, Vietnam, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, India and China.”
      But then, “EU bailout fund chief Klaus Regling travels to China to ask for help
      The head of the eurozone bailout fund visits Beijing on Friday as debt-laden Europe tries to persuade China and other top emerging economies to come to its rescue. The state-owned China Daily newspaper, citing a source close to EU decision makers, said on Wednesday that China and other top emerging economies had agreed to help eurozone countries by contributing to the bailout fund.
      But on Thursday China’s state Xinhua news agency said Europe needed to take responsibility for the crisis, and not rely on “good samaritans” to rescue the continent.”
      Go Figure.

    • Mary,

      There are two distinct followings in science:
      Our scientists just follow temperatures to try and generate patterns for a worldwide prediction. Temperatures are regional events that have little effect on circulation. These positions are paid careers with prestigious titles by mostly government funding.
      The skeptics look at the rest of science in many areas from following precipitation to velocities to solar penetrations and deflections, salt changes, etc. 99% are unpaid and have no degrees in the field they are studying in. They tell scientists “hey wait a second” have you looked at this?
      All they will respond is “interesting” as to them it all has no bearing on the temperature statistics being studied.

      Precipitation changes do not necessarily effect temperatures. Look at an Ice Age and that is precipitation in nature. So techniquely, you can have a hot equatorial region and massive snow accumulations and still have a temperature trend that is flat. Until too late, they show a worldwide fall.

      • The point is that the IPCC models got it all wrong. The facts are that those who believe in AGW have never been able to prove their AGW theories through use of the scientific method and instead use AGW models to prove AGW. However when confronted with the fact that IPCC models regarding AGW have got it all wrong they respond by dissing the “skeptics” while at the same time ignoring other numerous temperature pattern analysis, including BEST’s, that shows global warming has been flat since 1998. Than to top it all off make all kinds of excuses for why their precious AGW models got it all wrong. See below:

        “About a month or so ago, Science magazine published a paper by Susan Solomon and colleagues that concluded that aerosols in the upper atmosphere that were unaccounted for in earlier estimations, have, over the past 10 years or so, acted to offset about 0.07°C of warming that would have otherwise occurred. In other words, we shouldn’t be so hard on the climate models for failing to anticipate the dearth of warming over the past 10-15 years.

        Or should we?

        It turns out, that what the paper really says, is that the amount of global warming that should have occurred over the past 10-15 years (that is, if the climate models were getting things correct) is about 25% greater than the model-expected warming from the combination of increases in greenhouse gases and lower atmospheric pollution alone. Which means that the observed warming during this same time—which has been close to nil—is even harder to explain and makes the models look even worse.”

        The truth is the AGW models can no longer be seen as credible “evidence” that AGW is true making the so called “skeptics” analysis a lot more in sync with reality than the heads in the sand AGW true believers.

  22. Judith, I have personally found your blog the best of the climate blogs. I have gone back and read some of the older posts, for example by Nic Lewis which are excellent. Some of the posts and comments are really good examples of how science can be improved by people from other fields. I found the Ludeke vs. Tol exchange interesting too. Stick to your guns!!

  23. This is going to sound rude but I think we have too many scientists at these events who cannot admit they don’t know they don’t know what is happening in climate economics. That is stated correctly. Perhaps more scientists with a second degree in economics would be helpful. It is counter productive to destroy global economies to save the world from economic disaster that may or may not come to fruition per the hyperbolic ramblings of global climate alarmists.

    It is very wrong that they alone own the message. If your presence at this even can change anything, let it be this: They don’t and shouldn’t own the message. We all have a stake in it.

    • But if they don’t know they don’t know what is happening, how CAN they admit to it? :)

    • I rather think that scientists and other professionals should stick to their specialisations. I would prefer that science (in particular Climate Science) have no influence on economic policy making, which seems to me to be clearly a political arena.

  24. The most disturbing thing I found in the Climategate mails was not related at all to a scientific fact or theory. It was the way in which the team controlled what other team members were allowed to say. It was the control of the message that I found most disturbing. On Kloor’s Blog Richard Tol has now declared that academics should not publicaly speak on areas outsude their expertise. Somebody tell Hansen and mann. Somebody tell tol he has no expertise in dictating rules to academics

    • steven,
      Tol should then wonder what an economist is doing telling climate scientists what to say.
      I wonder if he has repudiated his criticism of the IPCC?

    • That still leaves the problem of determining the scope of one’s own expertise. For example, if you asked Mann is his expertise included statistics, I’m sure he would reply in the affirmative.

    • On Kloor’s Blog Richard Tol has now declared that academics should not publicaly speak on areas outsude their expertise.

      While I can’t agree with Tol’s statement, I would support the following modification.

      When two academics disagree on a point, and one of them has demonstrably greater knowledge and experience relevant to that point, that one should be considered the authority.

      The main (and perhaps only) recourse available to the other is to recruit additional academics to his or her side until the preponderance of knowledge and experience has shifted to that side.

      This option is available to all participating academics. Fortunately there are only finitely many academics, allowing the process to converge.

      Any convergence however need only be temporary, since academics may also change their mind (19th century: maybe there is no God after all — 20th century: no wait, maybe that’s an undecidable proposition).

      • I think the argument over gatekeeping illustrates the uselessness of academics. Academics don’t do anything useful and to perpetuate the illusion that they are worthwhile, they engage in the ritual of canon formation.

        ( hehe, that’ll leave a mark)

      • Funny, I always thought it should be the one who got it right, not the one with the most prestigious title or the biggest fan club.

      • Yeppers!!

      • The main (and perhaps only) recourse available to the other is to recruit additional academics to his or her side

        Far better to adduce additional evidence or better arguments to bolster your case.

    • Such statements they make ruffle every one of my scientific and free thought feathers. Is not those philosophies the same ones that scientists had to overcome to begin the scientific revolution? Canon and censorship threw Galileo in jail. I will vigorously oppose anyone who advocates such things against science, whatever the topic. An idea must stand or fall upon its own merits and evidence against other ideas and theirs; that is how science and progress are made, not with censorship and active silencing of dissenting hypotheses.

      Thank you, Steven, for always being one to give that lone voice of rationality to these often times downright pathological debates.

    • Steven professes to be disturbed by how human nature works – from schoolyard groupthink behaviour to anyone who dares not to conform through to the lofty portals of academia where the same groupthink behaviour toward dissidents seems also to prevail.

      I consider it to be perfectly normal behaviour and the great benefit of obtacles to the advancement of science and human progress generally is that they generally ensure that only the stronger ideas will persist and ultimately become the basis of the next paradigm.

      Without resistance no force can ever survive for long.

  25. Philip Tetlock is the expert who has invested the most time in the study of expert predicitions. He says that experts are no better than chimps throwing darts. If we are supposed to defer to the most knowledgeable authorities for their expertise, it would follow that climate predictions should be barred,

    • Corporate Message

      I say pair the chimps and experts up, and may the best monkey win.

      • Anyone reading my 5-paragraph comment just above before yours ought to find yours more succinct. In the other order they might find yours more cryptic. ;)

    • Stan,

      Temperature study can only generate trends and not predict movement of any kind in way of precipitation, atmospheric pressure, etc.
      You do not even need velocity even though it is the major driver of circulation.
      So, laboratory science does not need to go outside.

    • I remember a study when the Rubik’s cube first came out that showed that little kids could solve them on average faster than mathematicians. Sometimes knowing too much (that isn’t so) can keep you stuck in a blind alley. I’ll let you judge whether or not some of that is going on in climate science.

  26. Dr Curry – another interesting post and an interesting selection of quotes. I tend to agree with Steve Mosher (and myself, above, of course :) ) – whatever the merits of the Ludecke papers themselves, it is a tribute to Climate etc and yourself that they are not excluded.
    I don’t mean to say there isn’t a place in the world for didactic pedagogical blogs like RC ‘filling up the empty vessels’ – some people only want to be filled up. But I have no interest in going there – I want to be challenged, and assert, and be wrong, and learn through trying to think. It just suits the way I am. And I’m extremely grateful that you run the blog the way you do…

    • eeeuwww … sorry … let me try that again:

      Judith, you may want to read […]

      Hmmm … Did you happen to miss Judith’s preface to a good number of quotes in her post:

      Collide-a-scape thread

      Of relevance to this topic, Collide-a-scape has thread entitled “Is Judith Curry peddling disinformation?” which is motivated by Ludecke-Tol threads. The discussion raises some broader issues re Climate Etc. and public engagement by academics. I excerpt here some of the interesting comments from that thread:

    • Richard,
      Have you really said that experts should only speak on the areas in which they are specialists?
      Under what authority?
      Do you still stand by your comments in Donna’s book on the IPCC?

      • I have indeed said that. When I speak outside my area of expertise, I do not speak as an expert. The media has never approached me as Richard Tol of Milltown; but frequently approaches me as Professor Tol of the ESRI. It would be a lie if I go on the radio talking about, say, pension policy or termites.
        The authority is that of the academy. The duty not to abuse academic freedom is put on one when being granted a PhD, and repeated when appointed professor and obtaining tenure.
        Yes, I stand by my comments on Laframboise’ book.

      • Richard,
        Thank you for the clarification.
        While we disagree on things, I have seen you stick firmly to your principals, and I respect that.
        If the IPCC is as you have stated, what is to be done?
        How does one reasonably differentiate between the IPCC- which is promoted as *the* word on climate change, and the climate science?

      • The IPCC will not go away. It will not be reformed from the outside. Reform from the inside is the only option.
        See also

      • Richard,
        As an academic who has studied a lot of economics, please tell me when a corrupt organization has ever reformed itself?
        What would be the motive to reform, and who would be motivated to do this reform from the inside?

      • The corruption level of an organization is like the stock market, hunter: it fluctuates. For government organizations, look at Argentina, Libya, lot of examples there.

        Likewise the expertise of an academic in any given area fluctuates, in part as a function of the proportion of their recent time allocated to that area, but also of their mental health.

        As a certificate of expertise the Ph.D. comes with an implicit good-by date 4-6 years in the future. If after 6 years it remains the academic’s only certification, good-by becomes good-bye, tenure is denied, and the academic must either find some other academic institute willing to take them in, or leave academia for some other line of work.

        Senior faculty can point to the Ph.D. work of junior faculty when making an appointment or promotion case, but if they have to do so for a senior appointment, the other members of the A&P committee will view the case as already lost. Likewise any senior faculty who regards their own Ph.D. as their primary qualification cannot be taken seriously.

        Some academics have broad ranging interests, others narrow. Some have very stable careers, others go off the deep end from time to time, independently of whether or not they remain brilliantly creative. Newton had interesting ideas about God and parapsychology, Roger Penrose has interesting ideas about quantum tubules as the root of conscious, and demonstrably wrong ideas about the relationship between classical and intuitionistic logic.

        Academia has its Oracles, its Neos, its Agent Smiths, and many other types. To portray them as a homogeneous crowd is to make them all Agent Smith.

      • Richard S.J. Tol | November 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |

        The IPCC will not go away. It will not be reformed from the outside

        The United Nations Centre for Urgent Environmental Assistance went away
        The IPCC can be ignored.

      • Have the media approached you as an expert on science communications to the general public? Do you claim to be an expert in science communications to the general public? Do you believe that Dr. Curry has established superior credentials in science communication through her work on “Climate, Etc?”

        When you state that scientists should not speak outside their field of expertise, are you speaking as a scientist within your field of expertise, as an expert in science communications to the general public, or in some other capacity?

      • Economics might be the dismal science. The economics of climate change science is obscene suicide.

      • The duty not to abuse academic freedom is put on one when being granted a PhD,

        When I was a grad student, someone who has since become the chancellor of new degree granting university advised me something along thus …

        A PhD is only a ticket for participation. Pick one up at any backwater warehouse outlet.

        Keep your rubbish paper. Dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.

      • Hunter writes:

        “Have you really said that experts should only speak on the areas in which they are specialists?”

        In response, Richard S.J. Tol writes:

        “I have indeed said that.”

        I am sure that I do not need to point out that Dr. Tol’s Principle would limit him to discussion of topics that he actively teaches and articles that he has published or is engaged in writing. And I am sure that I do not need to point out that, in accordance with his own principle, he has no business making any comments about Dr. Curry’s website or science communication to the public. He should leave those matters to the experts, in accordance with the Tol Principle.

      • Theo: click on my name and click thru to “publications”

      • You have a curiously pertinent outlook. That draws me to you.

        ‘Pertinence’ = You are tapping at the appropriate windows

        The information that you write upon those portals is ‘noise’. You give them object quality. They require subject type attributes to have effectiveness

        Putting things in the perspective that you make descriptions is for me personally more productive than the ‘uncertainty’ framing in the Royal Society post.

        Treat your windows as if they were portals to subjective entities (people who think and decide for themselves) and you might be surprised at the gain that you can accomplish.

        Then again, those without degrees are ignored.

      • I searched on the word ‘communication’. It does not appear in your publication list.

        On the other hand, you have a winning smile. (I am just being pleasant.)

  27. If Messrs Tol or Tobin appeared in my local bar and harangued the denizens there about what they may and may not be allowed to read or think, they would be given very short shrift – possibly ‘with extreme prejudice’

    If they don’t like Judith’s way of running things they are perfectly entitled to run their own blog and see if they can attract a lively base of contributors with several hundred entries per day.

    Oops – I see that Tobis did…but he didn’t get the punters. Perhaps the idea of authoritarian gatekeeping and hubristically telling people how they must think is only attractive if you are the gatekeeper. He might also reflect on how such a venture reflects on his credibility as a serious commentator. ‘Not well’ I’d surmise – it does not suggest an open and questioning mind.

    • Latimer Alder –

      “With extreme prejudice” would be the first reaction – and a Glasgow kiss would be the second :)

      With Tobis though you have to remember that he BELIEVES. It’s not up for discussion or conversation or compromise – he’s like Robert and Holly. It is an absolute and religiously-flavoured certainty. That very bad things are going to happen is Definite and without doubt. So no wonder he wants to gate-keep.

      The thing that often baffles me is that it is ‘science’ that they use to justify their certainties, when it is science that has only caveats and tentative probabilities and conflicting evidence, and of course a ripe history of false prophesies (Mr Hansen anyone?)

      Oh well, I should just remind myself to ‘enjoy the interglacial’ :)

      • M Tobis, berating Steven Mosher for pointing out that all may not be well in ‘the science community’

        ‘It is not because I am a pusillanimous chickenshit, Mosher. It is because the f***ing survival of the f***ing planet is at fucking stake. And if we narrowly f***ing miss pulling this out, it may well end up being your, your own f***ing personal individual f**ing self-satisfied mischief and disrespect for authority that tips the balance’

        Says it all. I especially like the bit about ‘disrespect for authority’. Perhaps he feels that we ought to respect him and his views more? He surely has a strange way of persuading us to do so :-)


        1. Tobis did not use asterisks

      • And I didnt even make any math mistakes

      • For a fine example of Tobis’s approach to questioning his authority, please see

        Care: only for those at ease with bar room language.

      • What a classic thread! How did I miss that? (Maybe on holiday?)

        MT certainly got it served up to him in the comments. What a childish outburst.

    • If they don’t like Judith’s way of running things they are perfectly entitled to run their own blog and see if they can attract a lively base of contributors with several hundred entries per day.

      Indeed. If one didn’t know better, one might be inclined to conclude from their comments that a certain amount of unacknowledged “professional” envy might underly their authoritarian attitude (not to mention an unspoken but resoundingly implicit dismissal of the Denizens ability to think for themselves).

      And speaking of “running their own blogs” … There is a blog run by one who is respected as an expert in the climate field. It’s rather garish (white text on black background) which makes it almost unreadable (at least to me, and I suspect to many others). But I would never dream of broadcasting that XXXXX has posted yyyy and aaaa on his blog, yet he does his best to ensure as few readers as possible with his inept bloggery!

      • Absolutely. I’ve seen this exact same dynamic play out in the non-climate blogosphere several times. The less successful will beat their chests and demand 24/7 censorship from the more successful, and then stalk off in a self-satisfied huff.

      • hr0001,
        Good point.
        There is a blog that at its height was one of the original recipients of the climategate leaks. Soon after the host/owner started permitting sock puppets and trolls to do things like hijack poster’s names and dump spam-level quantities of false flag posts to make following a discussion nearly impossible.
        The host steadfastly refused to intervene and his blog eventually dwindled away to a near moribund status.
        Which is a real shame, since this person has actually done some excellent work.

  28. The greatest service you can perform is to put skepticism back into the climate science nomenclature and make it an integral part of the scientific method. It is not a four letter word.

  29. So far, these comments haven’t been very oriented toward addressing your question – which, I think, was a request for guidance and ideas related to framing your talk. If I could offer just one suggestion, it’d be to facilitate public discourse by ensuring that any conversation on “global warming” or “climate change” begin with a definition of terms. Too often, scientists, activists, industrialists, libertarians, liberals and others do battle with completely distinct visions of this vague concept in their heads. Here’s a slide I created to help – – from this post: The Many Shapes of Climate Knowledge:

    • Hi Andy, thanks for stopping by and your links.

      • Hi Andy – The links isn’t working for me..?

        Interesting article, one observation on some of the comntent:

        “- More CO2 = warming world? Clearcut.

        – How much warming? Durably uncertain.

        – Extent of sea-level rise by 2100? Higher, but the worst case is durably uncertain — with the latest projections about what scientists were foreseeing in 1988.

        – Hurricane patterns? Less clear than a decade ago.”

        When I say this, which I have been for a long time, I get called a ‘climate change denier’ – by those on the convinced, catastrophic ‘side’ of the discussion.

      • So do you think that Andy is called a “denier” when he says those things?

        If not, why do you think he isn’t while you are?

      • Confirmed, the links are broken.

        In concept, I agree 100% with the comment here, but without reviewing the links, the particulars may or may not be valid.

      • Judith –

        Along the lines of Andy’s suggestions, I would suggest that along more with clearer definitions of terms more generally, you should also be more precise with your language and assertions wrt “sketpics” and “skepticism.”

        The demographic that I have focused my communication/engagement activities are the technically educated and scientifically literate public, many of whom have become increasingly skeptical of climate science the more they investigate the topic. Dismissing this group, which are often referred to as “deniers” because of perceived financial or ideological motives, misses some very important issues.

        While it is certainly true that some refer to the entire group fitting this discussion as “deniers,” others distinguish between “climate skepticism” and “denying.” By lumping all “skeptics” under the description you apply above, you are essentially suggesting that there is no validity to the term of “denier” no matter whether it is used with discretion or indiscriminately.

        … Specific issues that individuals within this group have with climate science include concerns that science that cannot easily be separated from risk assessment and value judgments;…

        And here you go on to take a very large group, define them in a very selective way (that matches with your agenda) and as such reach an inaccurate conclusion. “This group” comprises many who have very specifically linked climate science to hard and fast conclusions about risk assessments – based on value judgments. Like those in the “climate community” you criticize, they also seem unwilling to separate the science from risk assessment and value judgements. They are concerned with the “climate establishment” doing such, but not particularly concerned with linkages between climate science and risk assessments and value judgements more generally. In fact, you apply selective reasoning here that flies in the face of validated data on how people on both sides of the debate are influenced by value judgements in how they evaluate risk:

        …concern that assessments (e.g. IPCC) have become a Maxwell’s daemon for climate research; inadequate assessment of our ignorance of this complex scientific issue;

        Here again, you speak of a larger group more generally but selectively leave out those members in that group who are not particularly concerned with assessment of our ignorance.

        …elite scientists and scientific institutions losing credibility with the public;

        Once again, and unqualified and unquantified reference.

        …political exploitation of the public’s lack of understanding;

        This also applies to the larger group you outlined.

        ….and concerns about the lack of public accountability of climate science;…

        Concerns about public accountability exists on both sides of the issue as well.

        …and climate models that are being used as the basis for far reaching decisions and policies.

        Even this statement reflects an inaccurate binary approach that creates a false dichotomy.. Sure, perhaps all “skeptics” (including all those who fall on the “skepticsl” end of the “skeptical un-convinced/denier” spectrum) are concerned about climate models, but some “realists” (if perhaps not those who fall on the “believer” end of the “skeptical convinced/believer” spectrum ) are also “concerned” about climate models – in that they are very focused on making those models more accurate even if they don’t conclude, as skeptics do, that models are a non-starter as a mechanism for basing decisions and policies.

      • yawn….here we go again. Anything new to say Joshua?

      • Thanks for reading, Rob.

        If at any time you’d like to actually address the issues I raised, I’d be interested in reading your responses.

      • You’ve grown a lot, Joshua. Your tone is far more controlled and pleasant to read than it once was. And so much more effective too!

        Clear definitions of what is actually being discussed are highly important as you point out. Otherwise, potentially useful conversations can break down to disagreements on definition. It’s almost a sort of language barrier, and I have run into it first hand in these matters as well.

        Regrettably, there’s no easy way to tear down the barrier. Obfuscating meaning is part of how the political system works to create purposeful division and drive agendas. It’s easy for us all to get swept up in the confusion it all creates.

        It almost feels like we need a climate debate glossary.

        That said, I both agree and disagree with different points you call Dr. Curry out on. For instance when she says, “Dismissing this group, which are often referred to as “deniers” because of perceived financial or ideological motives, misses some very important issues,” to which you reply:

        “While it is certainly true that some refer to the entire group fitting this discussion as “deniers,” others distinguish between “climate skepticism” and “denying.” By lumping all “skeptics” under the description you apply above, you are essentially suggesting that there is no validity to the term of “denier” no matter whether it is used with discretion or indiscriminately.”

        I think is missing the point of what she is driving at. It isn’t the term in and of itself, at least in my view, but the way in which it is used–as a label that alone gives enough grounds for dismissal of ideas/opinion without evaluation. That label could be anything, not just “deniers”. It’s all the politics of the use, even more so than the raw definition. And I think that’s what Dr. Curry has been trying to get at for a long while.

        I do agree with you that there can be a false dichotomy that can arise when trying to bifurcate people into limited categories, and these matters could be more clearly explained. Categorizations can be dangerous things in the hands of political machines, as my above paragraph discusses in brief.

    • Andy, great suggestion.

    • Andy,
      Have you read the book by Donna Laframboise yet?
      If not, why not?
      If you have, what is your reaction to it?

    • Andy,

      Since you bring up the issue of defining terms, maybe this is a good place to ask you to elaborate on your seeming belief that there’s some sort of moral equivalency between “denier” on the one side, and ‘alarmist” and “warmist” on the other. Or perhaps I misunderstood what you were saying.

      Many thanks…

    • Andy Revkin wrote: “If I could offer just one suggestion, it’d be to by ensuring that any discussion on “global warming” or “climate change” begin with a definition of terms.” He refers to “The Many Shapes of Climate Knowledge” which states “Confusion and division over “global warming” often grows out of the meaninglessness of the phrase on its own.”
      Ged concurred: “It almost feels like we need a climate debate glossary.”

      I agree. However,
      – Once “climate” changed from a general representation of long-term “weather” to a political issue with trillion dollar price tags, intricate computer models and government control of energy supplies (policy), then data processing standards become essential.
      – Definition, not description. Definitions have boundaries. Definitions identify what it is. What it is not is identified by failure to conform to the definition.
      – Unambiguous. A particular term should not be confused with more common usage. “Climate Change” is not the same as “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming”, a Fallacy of Ambiguity.
      – Unbiased. The definition or its examples do not assume a particular outcome.

      IPCC, WGI. 2000. Ch 00.2.1: Climate Change 2007: Emissions Scenarios (Summary for Policymakers). Foreword. August 15.
      “Much has changed since then in our understanding of possible future greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”

      IPCC, WGI. Climate Change 2007: Frequently Asked Questions (AR4WG1_FAQs).
      “Human-caused climate change has resulted primarily from changes in the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but also from changes in small particles (aerosols), as well as from changes in land use, for example.”

      IPCC, WGI. 2007. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (SPM). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA., February.
      Footnote 1, Page 2 “Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the Framework Convention on Climate Change, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.”

      For example, consider the definitions appearing in:
      Anonymous. 2010. “Climate change glossary: A-B. et seq.” BBC, November 24, sec. Science & Environment.

      Adaptation Action that helps cope with the effects of climate change – for example construction of barriers to protect against rising sea levels, or conversion to crops capable of surviving high temperatures and drought.

      Anthropogenic climate change Man-made climate change – climate change caused by human activity as opposed to natural processes.

      Climate change A pattern of change affecting global or regional climate, as measured by yardsticks such as average temperature and rainfall, or an alteration in frequency of extreme weather conditions. This variation may be caused by both natural processes and human activity. Global warming is one aspect of climate change.

      Dangerous climate change A term referring to severe climate change that will have a negative effect on societies, economies, and the environment as a whole….

      Feedback loop In a feedback loop, rising temperatures on the Earth change the environment in ways that affect the rate of warming. Feedback loops can be positive (adding to the rate of warming), or negative (reducing it).

      Global average temperature The mean surface temperature of the Earth measured from three main sources: ….

      Global warming The steady rise in global average temperature in recent decades, which experts believe is largely caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The long-term trend continues upwards, they suggest, even though the warmest year on record, according to the UK’s Met Office, is 1998.

      Ocean acidification The ocean absorbs approximately one-fourth of man-made CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps to reduce adverse climate change effects. However, when the CO2 dissolves in seawater, carbonic acid is formed. …. (neutralization (less basic)), increase in the hydrogen ion. Currently ~ 8.)

      Mitigation Action that will reduce man-made climate change….

  30. Surely this post is an unanswerable rebuttal to one of Tol’s original points, re. Judith’s posting of the Luedecke et al. papers, that (to paraphrase) we learn nothing from this?

    Furthermore, Tobis and others are also clearly wrong when they argue that by giving an airing to certain papers Judith offers an endorsement of the methods and conclusions of the paper. It should have been absolutely obvious that she had decided that the papers were relevant (because of best), and at least (even if just barely) worth examining – because they were undertaken by professional scientists and published in peer-reviewed literature. Her only endorsement was to say this merits discussion, not, as I said, to say that the conclusions should necessarily be supported. If Tol etc. cannot understand that distinction then Climate Science is in a sorry state. That appears to be the case.

    • Tol and many others stated that the Luedecke et al. papers were wrong. They offered no proof that they were wrong. They conducted no simulation nor mathematical proof that they were wrong, only a statement of authority that they were wrong.

  31. Judith,

    You do have something new to show that has never before been seen or published and that would be the velocity mapping of our planet.

    • I can do it for you.

      It all (including the atmosphere to a first approximation) goes round at a constant 15 degrees per hour.

      When the diameter is biggest (at the equator), the mph are biggest. When smallest (at the poles) it is zero. And it is easy to calculate the speed at any intermediate point if you know its latitude.

      If you are still having trouble, think of points on a wheel as it turns. The whole wheel turns at teh same rate (revolutions per time). But individual points go through longer or hsrter paths depending on their position. Or of you especially green – the sails of a frigging windmill.

      Did you have a further point to make?

  32. Excellent comments from Pielke as usual (“My job isn’t to tell students what to think, my job is to teach them how to think.”)
    I really like the moment when a student first realises that something in a textbook or published paper is wrong.

    Good luck with the talk. I see there are 19000 participants so you should get a good audience!
    Obviously the blog has been a great success – IMHO it’s in the top 3 (the others being CA and BH).

    • Pielke Jr would have a different attitude if he taught calculus.

      • What I find interesting is that you teach economics, but push for actions to be implemented without understanding the economic or environmental impact.

        As an example, you wrote how you advocated the tax in Ireland on fuel yet you completed dodged the simple questions

        How much is the proposed tax expected to reduce consumption?

        What will be the impact of the tax on atmosspheric CO2 and the climate?

      • Economic impacts are here:

        Environmental impacts are roughly zero.

      • Richard,
        The economic impact is not working out as your abstract implies.
        Your neighbor across the Irish sea is suffering from growing energy policy, and the impact on world climate is zip. Germany is giong to actually increase its carbon emissions.
        The comment regarding environmental impact is what skeptics have been pointing out for years: the impact from AGW inspired policies have no impact on the stated goal of the policy.

      • Of course you can ignore me, yet so too can the Irish ignore the intention and meaning of carbon tax.

        This is what happens when you confuse objective and subjective experience. Governments collect taxes and duties anointed by whatever name at their whim. People purchase and consume what they do. They forget the association and pay whatever the going price.

        The assumption is that each (subjective) person is an equivalent object. The superior ‘expert’ PhDs make the objective decree that every dummy person shalt feel the same equal burden and punishment dealt by the supreme academic expert.

        The Irish flip a bird at being told what they MUST BELIEVE and carry living their subjective experience of their own choosing regardless.

        Irish industry suffers as a whole and yet further production and support services ‘offshore’ to stimulate the emerging economies.

        Net results:

        1) The Irish economy and Irish citizens deplete their monetary resources at an accelerated rate in an environment of where there are less jobs and money is harder to earn. a) Costs money … b) Reduces jobs … c) … Makes earning new money harder

        2) The activity of collecting and redistributing tax could quite possibly leak further money out of Ireland and concentrate the wealth higher up.

        3) The developing economy stimulated by the suppressed Irish manufacture a) is apt to emit more so through lax regulations … b) stimulates technological development, economic growth, education and innovation outside Ireland x10 (times 10 multiplier). .. c) Shipping off-shored goods back to Ireland is another +1

        Fudge-factored dimensionless score
        Ireland loses 3
        Offshored recipient gains 5
        Carbon emission +5

        The long range prospect is more optimistic. Ireland will go bankrupt and the offshore developing economy will consume it’s own reward
        Carbon emission +10

        The not so nice possibility is that everyone gets very unhappy and there is much burning killing and destruction … which will be wonderful for boosting consumption and emission yet again.

        Richard S.J. Tol | November 14, 2011 at 9:51 am | ….
        Environmental impacts are roughly zero.

        That is subjective arrogant groundless self serving green hypocrisy and fantasy.

      • “Pielke Jr would have a different attitude if he taught calculus.”
        Richard, I do teach calculus!!

      • In calculus, there is correct and incorrect. In climate, there is correct and incorrect as well as right and wrong. Right and wrong should be left to the students. Incorrect math should be stamped out.
        I’ve argued all along that the Ludeke papers are incorrect.

      • Dear Dr. Tol,
        With all due respect, mathematics is the absolute truth, and there can be no “incorrect” in any science. There is, however, an approximate solution to a complex problem, but this approximation does not make a science as incorrect.

      • In climate there is only right and wrong. Clamping physical climate to an assertion of state values is implausible.

        Your inclusion of a subjective component is useful.

      • I’ve argued all along that the Ludeke papers are incorrect.

        So you have. All you have demonstrated is that they may be imprecise.

      • I would call the Ludecke papers misleading and half-baked. What they reveal is a carefully constructed argument intended to raise doubt on numbers that are already known to fluctuate. They only go that far, which is why I call it half-baked. They are essentially poking at the soft underbelly of a metastable system. Instead of cherry-picking I call this belly-poking.

        So they are neither correct or incorrect, just not thorough in their analysis and also ambiguous in their interpretations. When they say 40 to 90% is due to natural variations, the skeptics come to their defense saying that they are not native-English speakers.

        In other words, Ludecke has co-authored a pair of very weak papers and ones that have given me motivation to come up with a much better method for analyzing fluctuation driven time series. This stuff is actually pretty cool stuff if you fully commit.

      • @Nabil
        This discussion is in context of teaching: A professor should teach students to be correct in their math.

        If one teaches policy, one should teach students how to think about what is right and wrong.

        Math is prescriptive and authoritarian; policy is contemplative and open.

        This whole discussion came about because I argued that the statistics in a paper are incorrect, while many of the readers interpreted that as me being politically biased against the conclusions of that paper.

      • Richard,

        I suspect at some point in your math career you have either presented or been presented with something that is obviously incorrect. And the challenge is left up to the student to figure it out.
        Like so

        WRT to Ludeke paper’s on first read I knew they were wrong, but finding the exact reasons why and all the reasons why was a bit of a chore. In the same way watching the video above everyone knows it is wrong, finding the error is part of the joy.

        Now you certainly will not deny that in mathematics we on occasion present the students with puzzles or claims that we know to be wrong in order to teach them a particular skill.

      • Richard

        I read your 2008 paper “A Carbon Tax for Ireland”. It was an interesting read, but it really seems to have seriously flawed economic thinking.

        My 1st point, (which you acknowledge as true) is that you advocated a carbon tax that you know will do virtually nothing to reduce CO2 emissions at a cost to the Irish taxpayer of over $2 B per year. You have implemented a tax that negatively impacted the lowest income segments of society to a high degree and not lowered CO2 emissions as a result. How does that make sense from an economic perspective?

        Imo, you have let your “belief” that additional CO2 will be a dire problem inappropriately skew your economic analysis and led you to advocate nonsensical proposals.

        From a macro economic standpoint, it also appears you have failed to address the fundamental problem in Ireland of the structural budget deficit. Long term expenses exceed long term revenues. You were trying to find ways to return the revenue to some segment of society while at the same time agreeing that is a less efficient tax approach.

        You wrote: “However, the revenue arising from a carbon tax should make it possible to have an increase in net wages with constant labour costs, and the social partners should be able to reach an agreement that is beneficial to all.” Also “Our calculations below suggest that it is possible to use 25% of the carbon tax revenue (excluding auctioning of ETS permits) to finance higher benefits and 40-55% for lowering income taxes such that most households would be equally well off with and without this tax reform package. That implies that 20-35% of the carbon tax revenue is left for other purposes.”
        My response: That is a completely unsupportable conclusion given the Irish budget situation.
        But you also wrote:

        “Earmarking reduces the flexibility of the overall government budget. If a cause cannot argue its case for subsidies on its own merit without the protection of an earmarked tax, then that cause is not worthy of government support.” This is obviously true, but you seemed to ignore your own point in the prior statement.

        You miscellaneous points from the paper:
        “The transition to a zero-carbon economy will take a century.” My thoughts- Do you have ANY basis for this conclusion?
        “Government debt is on a sustainable trajectory already.” My thoughts—How do you justify that the Irish debt is on a sustainable path today, or do you acknowledge you were wrong in 2008?
        “First, a carbon tax increases the price of energy. This means that firms are less competitive on international markets, while households have less money to spend on other consumption.”

        My thoughts- so you advocated and helped to implement a carbon tax for Ireland that cost tax payers there over $2 B per year in direct taxes, and in made Irish goods less competitive in international trade, while doing nothing to help the environment.

        Richard—I again suggest that your views of AGW are skewing what you should know about sound economics.

      • I didn’t realise that is what Richard Tol had done.
        i would not advise him to go in to an Irish and let it be known.
        They are liable to lynch him.
        Robert, as you know adding tax to Power/gas or petrol/diesel adds a price to everything else that is grown, manufactured or transported.

      • Rob: That paper was written in 2008. We got the macro background all wrong. That’s for another day.
        A carbon tax is still less harmful to economic growth than higher income taxes, so in that sense nothing has changed.
        As to distributional impacts, the government does not dare to reduce welfare; instead, it is skewing inflation towards low earners. The carbon tax is only one part of that effort.

      • Richard

        I respect that you acknowledge what you were mistaken about in 2008. I suspect we could have interesting conversations about what makes economic sense from now into the future.

        What I really do not understand is how you can support carbon taxes from a combination of an economic and environmental perspective. In many (potentially most) markets such a tax will not significantly reduce consumption (at least not enough to be noticed in the climate) and unless you include the rebate to the poorer segments of society the tax is regressive. If you include the rebate it is a inefficient means of increasing revenue.

        Why advocate a carbon tax that claims it is designed to help the environment, when the specific tax will not have the desired effect? Do you believe Irish citizens understood the tax as implemented wouldn’t help the environment?

      • We got the macro background all wrong.


        Was that a serious flaw? You know, 2 + 2 = 5 ?

        Have you published a retraction or corrigendum?

      • Rob: The carbon tax does reduce emissions, by an amount that is commensurate with EU climate policy. Ireland can reduce its emissions to zero without an appreciable effect on climate change.
        MattStat: The responsible colleague apologized on national radio. It will probably take 20 years to correct the error, as it is not in our models but rather in economic theory.

      • Gatekeepers and Leakage

      • Richard S.J. Tol | November 15, 2011 at 1:19 am |

        Rob: The carbon tax does reduce emissions, by an amount that is commensurate with EU climate policy. Ireland can reduce its emissions to zero without an appreciable effect on climate change.

        Congrats to the IPCC and EU on the squeeze job. The PIGS are nearly dead.

      • “Pielke Jr would have a different attitude if he taught calculus”

        Yes, but Pielke is a SCIENTIST, not a mathematician.

    • Consider the case study method used in business schools. An instructor has the students read a case study and bring their own experience and insight to bear in analyzing the case and deconstructing the analysis of others.

      But the instructor doesn’t just throw the case study out to the students without later bringing to bear his or her guidance/elevant experience and expertise That would be an abdication of an instructor’s responsibilities, and it would be considered by students to be inadequate.

      And further, an instructor doesn’t just randomly throw out some facts assembled together by a third party. The instructor researches the material at hand to create a didactic experience for the students.

      Judith failed to research the context of the paper she put forth for discussion, and she failed to lend her expertise as a guideline for interpreting the analyses that ensued.

      Now we might argue that Judith isn’t an “instructor” here – she’s only a portal, or vehicle, or she’s only creating a vehicle (Climate Etc.) for disseminating various analyses and having people weigh in. And with such a viewpoint, it would also follow that her readers aren’t her “students.”

      That’s fair enough – but then the discussion should be whether there are some related inconsistencies in how she defines her role in the debate.

      • Joshua both you and Richard want Judith to settle things. or to not start things. Judith won’t comply.

        You know at one point in Lisbon this little voice in my head screamed Judith! please tell goddard he is wrong.

        She didnt

        I learned a lesson

        guess what lesson

      • Joshua both you and Richard want Judith to settle things. or to not start things. Judith won’t comply.

        If that’s how you have interpreted my opinion, steven, then apparently I haven’t communicated my opinions clearly.

        I applaud that Judith “starts things.” What I have a problem with is her lack of follow through.

      • I would also note that implicit in my comments above, and more explicitly in other comments I’ve made, is a disagreement with Richard’s position on this issue. Apparently you have linked my opinion to Richard’s because you lacked information. If you’re actually interested in having me outline the differences more explicitly, just let me know.

      • I took it that you wanted her ( or the instructor) to come down and explain the truth.. in the end.

        So did I. I wanted Judith to come down and render a verdict.

        when she steadfastly refused to do what I suspect you and richard would want her to do… I learned something about her

        what did I learn?

      • I took it that you wanted her ( or the instructor) to come down and explain the truth.. in the end.

        That’s not what I want. I think I made that pretty clear in what I described. This goes to the heart of an issue that is very important to me – epistemology.

        Apparently I didn’t explain myself clearly enough. The case method process is predicated on the assumption that there is no “truth” at hand with respect to the problems raised by the case. The instructor does not have “the answer.” But the instructor does have a responsibility for constructing the experience to maximize the didactic gains, and the instructor does bear responsibility for bringing her/her experience and expertise to bear in guiding the process.

        I applaud that Judith is not willing to assume the mantle of truth-giver.

      • Well, we may be closer to agreement than ever before

      • Joshua wants Moses to settle things with some tablets from the mountain.

      • That statement is not consistent with what I “want” or what I believe.

        I’ve tried explaining my perspective a couple of times. I’d be willing to do it again, but before doing so, I’d ask that you reread what I’ve written (as painful as that might be). If after doing so, you still think that your characterization of what I “want” is consistent with what I’ve written, please get back to me (ideally with an explanation for how you think your characterization is accurate) and I’ll try to explain my viewpoints again.

      • PE.

        I think we have misread Joshua. Give him a chance to explain his position and accept him at his word.

  33. I decide which student fails the exam and which student passes. I grant (or not) PhDs. I recommend (or not) people for promotion and tenure. I advice editors what papers should be published (or not), I am an editor myself, and I suggest who should (not) be an editor. I referee grant proposals, and advice funders on research programmes. Gatekeeping is what I do.Gatekeeping is what academics do.
    Advertising a silly paper is silly. Advertising a paper that you don’t know is silly, is silly too.

    • Breaking down the gates that have been erected as a result of groupthink, protecting academic reputations, and to promote specific policies, is what I am trying to do.

      • That’s a worthwhile ambition.
        Academics are gatekeepers, but the criteria should be strictly academic. Too often they are not.
        But while opening the gates, we should not discard quality control.

      • Richard S.J. Tol | November 14, 2011 at 9:45 am

        But while opening the gates, we should not discard quality control.

        Richard S.J. Tol,

        My observations of the QA control of the IPCC and of the major research papers supporting its assessments are that the modern advanced technology industrial world is a century or more ahead of academia in QA processes, capability and experience.

        Opening the gates of science to public venues like Judith’s e-salon, BH, WUWT, CA and many more uncensored/manipulated blogs will inject a higher appreciation for QA into the IPCC and major scientific journal reviews, etc.


      • And since you’re an expert on quality control as you recently stated, we should just sit back and trust you? I must say, your apparent ideas of the way the world should work strikes me as weirdly authoritarian.

      • You know what your problem is? You want to have a ballet on a hockey rink. The problem is, we all know how the ballet turns out. If you want to actually learn something, you have to let the puck fly. And the minute you do, the ballerinas are out of there.

        Welcome to the blogosphere, where hockey is played by both sides, and ballerinas pout in the corner.

      • Quality Control after-the-fact usually produces “rejects”.
        Quality Assurance before-the-fact is intended to produce “reliable processes”.
        “Reliable processes” normally produce acceptable results.
        An unacceptable result should result in “corrective action”.

      • Here’s neat illustration of the need for Judith’s ambition:
        Schmidt and Vermeer, amateur statisticians, reject the help of professionals. Their mates are worse.

      • From some of the comments it seems you have contracted Curry Cooties and are borderline septic? Questioning the Mann may have been over the top?

      • They will argue he has no expertise in reconstructions.

      • Judith –

        Do you not see your role within the climate debate as a “gatekeeper” in certain respects?

        There seems to me to be an inconsistency in how you define your position. You seem to take on the role of “gatekeeper” with respect to what you think is inadequate analysis on the part of the “climate establishment,” but leave the gate doors wide open when it comes to analysis on the part of “skeptics.”

        Personally, I have no problem with you putting up the LLE paper on your blog. But I do take issue with the inconsistencies in your approach.

        Let’s say you came across a paper that you thought interesting, and so you posted it at Climate Etc. only to later find that it was put out by a group that praised Joe Romm as a source of information related to climate science. Would you consider such information to be irrelevant?

      • this reminds me of the fights we used to have about canon formation in the English department when we only allowed students to read old dead white guys.

      • The word ‘gatekeeping’ has become ambiguous in this conversation.

        Dr. Tol is writing about acts of gatekeeping that are part and parcel of his job. These are acts such as evaluating students. These matters are defined formally.

        Dr. Curry is writing about acts of gatekeeping that do not fall within the ordinary duties of an academic. She refers to acts of exclusion by a group of scientists that are based on their shared visions of what is true, what is expedient, what is important morally, and other such considerations that do not fall within some formal definition of a job.

        The two sides will have to explicate their views and offer explications of their “antagonist’s” views if progress is to be made on the topic of gatekeeping.

      • The two sides will have to explicate their views and offer explications of their “antagonist’s” views if progress is to be made on the topic of gatekeeping.

        Re-posted for emphasis. This can’t be stressed too much, IMO.

      • Joshua,

        Your posts below are excellent.


        Thanks for reading me. I agree that a debate about who is “Strawmaning” whom is unlikely to be productive. We must hope that some will engage in good faith and will not create Strawmen or will recognize the Strawmen that they have created.

      • Theo.

        ordinarily I disregard everything you say. But I still read you. I’m glad I did this time. I’m not entirely convinced that explicating your opponents views is a necessary requirement ( it often adds strawmen to the fight), but it can help if and only if parties are willing to agree that ‘yes, you got my position explicated correctly’ otherwise the debate becomes a debate about mischaracterizing the positions and the discussion diverts from the issue at hand to the secondary issue of whether or not you characterized the other side fairly. It becomes a metadebate. quickly.

      • steven,

        Explicating your “antagonist’s” views does not create straw men. When they exist, they exist whether the explication is made explicit or not. At least in explicating an “antagonist’s” views, you allow for a straw men to fully see the light of day, and hence to be exposed as fallacies.

        For sure, the metadebate about whether someone has mischaracterized views is ubiquitous in blog debates. The existence of explicit descriptions of someone’s assumptions about the views of their antagonist is not the controlling variable there.

        Misunderstanding someone else’s views may or may not be conscious. If it is conscious and/or intentional, i.e., if someone is debating in bad faith, IMO, little if anything of value can be gained except by people who are already overtly motivated in their reasoning (and thus inclined to accept a mischaracteriation of opinions they are in disagreement with).

        If it is unconscious, explicating what is perceived as an “antagonist’s” views can allow for improved understanding. In short, within reason (at times it can get ridiculous) there is nothing to be lost and only benefits to be gained. As you have said before, explicating the argument of an “antagonist” is not a precondition for logically proving a hypothesis – but it is a precondition for informative debate in support of a thesis when obvious counterarguments exist.


      • Note.

        I said: “it often adds strawmen to the debate”
        you countered: “Explicating your “antagonist’s” views does not create straw men. ”

        please try harder not to add strawmen to the debate when you explicate my position.

      • Sorry, steven,

        If it seemed I was attributing an argument to you that you didn’t make.

        In fact I wasn’t. I was adding my perspective to your statement that explicating someone else’s views can add a straw man to the debate.

        My perspective is that when a straw man exists, it exists whether it has been made explicit or not. It is a fundamental part of the debate whether it is made explicit or not. You can’t add something to a debate if it has already been added.

        However, if it is made explicit, and the debaters are debating in good faith, there is the possibility or reconciling a misunderstanding whereas if the straw man is not made explicit, the chances of that happening are less likely (nil?).

      • Steve –
        You wrote “explicating your opponents views”, and later “yes, you got my position explicated correctly”.

        Also called “confirm understanding” of the other position.

    • I’m surprised that you have any time to even notice us mere mortals while you are so busy playing God for most of your schedule.

      No wonder you just demand respect from the hoi polloi rather than realise that it has to be earned the hard way by a track record of honest and verifiable achievement. Especially if you are up to your neck in climatology.

    • Richard S. J. Tol

      And even sillier is continuing to blather on about this whole thing.

      Judith did the right thing in allowing a guest post of a paper even of it may have been flawed. It got the debate going and debate is what we need – not one-sided gate-keeping.



    • The problem is not gate keeping by academics. The problem is academics allowing their gate keeping decisions to be dominated by their politics.

      “At elite universities the ratios were even higher; according to the survey, 87 percent of faculty were liberal.”

      Imagine being a conservative, interested in climate science (or economics), skeptical of the certainty expressed by the consensus, and trying to get a PhD, or tenure, or an assistant professorship, or an article published, or a research grant funded….

    • Richard,
      You might want to reconsider what you see as your job description.
      i would suggest taht you are describing the job of a bureaucrat more than the job of an academic.
      Most people, I would bet, would think of academics as first educators and secondly as exploreers, finding new knowledge. You seem much more caught up in political and structural operations issues.
      Since you are concerned about gatekeeping and editiing, both of which imply QA/QC work, what do you do when the major organ of a science is the way it is clear the IPCC is?
      I would suggest that it is a far better use of a gatekeeper’s time and effort to deal with the largest problems first.
      No matter how history treats the papers you got up in arms over, it will be minor.
      The IPCC is huge, powerful and degrading the quality of climate science.
      if there are only so many hours in a day and so much energy avaiable to accomplish something, it seems logical to deal with the big ugly problems first.

    • Richard, I think the discussion of the LLE paper was interesting. It also raised other issues about how science gets done. If the papers are really bad, a note submitted to the journal where it appeared would be a public service. In climate science, I think the problem is that the gatekeepers are not nearly as honest as you are. The misuse of statistics seems to be endemic in this field. The lack of interest in professional statistical input is a warning sign.

      • Does the lack of interest in professional climatological input act as a warning sign about statisticians?

      • You know this is a really odd statement Paul. Statistics is a rigorous science where you actually prove things. Climate science is “a small primitive field beset by immense uncertainty.” Just because climate scientists have a very high opinion of themselves is unconvincing. In fact, its another red flag for me. The good ones, like Licas and Held don’t use your type of false symmetric logic.

      • I’m not a climate scientist by the way, if that’s your assumption in writing the last two sentences. I’m just wondering why you appear to bring out a broad brush when dealing with climate science, which you apparently leave at home when faced with equally egregious examples of work by statisticians?

      • I’ll give a couple of examples of what I’m talking about then.

        Rather than consulting with climatologists on the relevant issues, statistician Edward Wegman elected to plagiarise from text books when producing a report to Congress, to give an impression that he had expertise in the subject.

        Mathematician/statistician Craig Loehle published a paleoclimate reconstruction without bothering to consult with anyone what the words ‘Before Present’ might mean on all the data he used.

        I’m asking does this lack of interest in professional input into their work raise a red flag?

      • Paul S

        Your Wegman example is a bad one, so let’s do a quick fix and tell the REAL story.

        Wegman, an expert on statistics, was asked by US Congress to testify under oath regarding the validity of the M+M refutation of the Mann hockey stick.

        The Wegman committee concluded that the M+M critique was valid for statistical reasons having nothing to do with climate science per se and that the “hockey stick” conclusions were not valid.

        ”Our committee believes that the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported by the MBH98/99 analysis”

        “The paucity of data in the more remote past makes the hottest-in-a-millennium claims essentially unverifiable.”

        The NAS then issued a rather “wishy-washy” report, which did not address the statistical flaws in the hockey stick, but referred to several “copy spaghetti hockey sticks” that had popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain. The report gave confidence to the results after 1400 AD (end of MWP) but not before.

        The congressional committee then asked NAS for specific clarification regarding the Wegman testimony. A panel from the NAS subsequently confirmed the conclusion of the Wegman committee under oath.

        CHAIRMAN BARTON: Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report?

        DR. NORTH: No, we don’t. We don’t disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.

        Barton then asked North’s colleague on the NAS panel, Peter Bloomfield, a similar question.

        Bloomfield’s reply: “Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.”

        A bit of light on a subject always clears things up better than simply statements with innuendos.

        Stick with the facts and figures instead, Paul, and forget the “ad hom” stuff.


        (As far as your silly statement about Craig Loehle goes, I’ll let him defend himself…)

      • Max,

        No part of what you’ve written there has any relevance to what I said regarding Wegman. My point is entirely this: Wegman is a statistician. He plagiarised climatology text books. Does that say anything about statisticians in general?

        Regarding Craig Loehle, I’ll leave it up to you whether the error was ‘silly’ but it is what happened and it had quite significant consequences for the reconstruction. Such a simple error would have been picked up had he consulted with someone who had an understanding of the data. Is this a red flag?

      • “No part of what you’ve written there has any relevance to what I said regarding Wegman. My point is entirely this: Wegman is a statistician. He plagiarised climatology text books. Does that say anything about statisticians in general?”

        They not good at delegating?

        Did I get it right?

      • gbaikie,

        Heh, could be.

    • Mr. Richard S.J. Tol,
      Speaking of ‘Gatekeeping’… It has been awhile since I have read so many I’s together in a brief paragraph. Perhaps you should read an account of pride and its true cost, given to us in Isaiah, 14:13,14 (KJV).
      I know this is not a peer reviewed paper but it is the best we have at this point in time. It is not silly either.

      • Tom: This is not pride. It’s a description of my day job. I’d rather do research.

      • Richard,
        It sounds like your job is running you, and not you your job.
        The heart of bureaucracy seems to be very close to the sad idea of doing very little that is productive except job preservation and the health of the bureaucracy.

      • It is a common malady in academia. Since academics do not produce anything useful they tend to confuse their personal identity with their job. They also then focus on keeping others from doing what they do, thereby artifically inflating the market value of the useless activity they engage in.

      • Richard,
        It is my view that Pride, is the big motivator. Man wants to mimic God. Stars. Idols. America. We are a culture of pride, there is money and power in it. It is a timeless dilemma for mankind. God is now myth to science. Today textbooks tell the knowers their mystical truth. Secrets. History is cycles of man attempting to mimic God. This always leads to pride. Read the Bible it covers thousands of years and mankind’s constant vices. Leading to the fall of the most recent Empire. Lots of well written books tell this tale repeating over and over again. Pride is what sets the stage, the rest of it is nothing but props & actors. Geo Engineering, anyone?

      • “…the moment you eat of [the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge] your eyes shall be opened and you will be like gods who know.” Genesis 3:4

        Vanity…it’s the original sin.

    • Do you also advise writers when to use the words advice versus advise? That would be a full time job for some editors

      • Careful folks, a grammar nanny is on the loose.

      • Actually, that’s the British/American dichotomy. There are plenty of real mistakes made daily here to waste time going after dialectical differences.

    • Your statement takes for granted the context of your professional life. Your description of your communications in that context seems entirely reasonable.

      Can you communicate about your science with people who do not belong to that context as Dr. Curry does in her blog?

      What parts of your assumptions about your professional context have to be changed for you to communicate with persons who do not belong to that context?

      Do the changes that you must make to communicate with persons who do not belong to your professional context conflict with your ideals for scientists?

      You have said that scientists should speak only within their areas of expertise. Does communication with people outside of your areas of expertise, including other scientists not from your area, damage those communications in some way?

    • Dear Dr. Tol,
      Gate-keeping is good to protect a correct science, but we do not have a correct climate science that is accepted by the scientific disciplines and most of the world. If you are in the gate-keeping of the climate science, then you are doing harm to this science and you should stop if you care.

    • As part of the IPCC do you believe that it is appropriate to act as gatekeeper to mislead blackmail coerce or do whatever else it takes to force every human to accept and adopt the expensive demanding and individual lifestyle choice as their own personal passion?

    • I decide which student fails the exam and which student passes. I grant (or not) PhDs. I… I… I…and I… I… – Richard S. Tol

      [H]ow much superior an education towards free action and personal responsibility is to one that relies on outward authority and ambition. True democracy is no empty illusion. – Einstein

      It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. – Einstein

      When my 9 year-old completed third grade at the bottom in math, unable to even understand long division, he demanded to be allowed to teach himself. I assented with the proviso that he would do it 100% on his own. Three years later when he had completed university level calculus (yes, at 12 yrs old), he brushed off my compliments with, “Dad, calculus is the easiest math I ever had.” And I silently added, “That’s because you were the best teacher you ever had.”

    • I grant (or not) PhDs.

      Ph.D.s are granted (or not) by committee. Most likely, you have agreed (on advice of other members) to pass a thesis that you thought required more work, at least once. In return, most likely, other PhD thesis committee member have agreed to accept a thesis on your recommendation, despite what they saw as critical flaws.

      • Don’t some of the upscale UK Unis offer an accelerated program for bankers? A kind of earned bonus for credit swap or something …

        Heck maybe the Nobel prize committee should award a medal to every private $1+ billion humanitarian donation the UN.

    • I decide which student fails the exam and which student passes.

      That’s interesting. An exam paper may have “serious flaws” yet pass.

    • Here is the latest in a series of critiques of an important but seriously flawed paper: You should read at least to the mention of Gavin Schmidt’s retraction of a claim that was in the original MBH98.

      Of course the paper and its sequels should have been published. The only problem was that the original authors did not immediately recognize and correct the errors.

    • “Gatekeeping is what academics do.
      Advertising a silly paper is silly. Advertising a paper that you don’t know is silly, is silly too.”

      Thus you imply you have the right to decide what others have a chance to think about? What others have a chance to view?

      I may agree with your view on other matters, but here I will oppose you without relent. I find such an attitude an inherent wrong. If we are to develop critical thought we must seek out knowledge; both knowledge that is good, to enrich our repertoire, and knowledge that is inferior, to which we can apply what we know to deconstruct–and thus enrich us even more by growing our critical capacity.

      Hiding away disagreeable, silly, things from others is like saying the child can’t eat meat because he might choke. Before he has teeth, you may be right, but once he has teeth he needs to go beyond being spoon fed Gerber goo.

      And this is what I see you doing. Treating everyone as if our minds must be spoon fed paste, is if we cannot think critically ourselves, as if the process of seeing something and refuting it (fundemental in science!) was not important. Let alone freedom of thought and the growth of rational intellect!

      You have no right to command me, Dr. Curry, or anyone what they may or may not post up for discussion and deconstruction (unless we were a student in your lab using your equipment). You have no right to attempt to demonize such a person (with defamatory words like disinformation), so that their personage and reputation will be damage to prevent people from paying attention. You have every right to your opinion and telling us you feel these ways and what you think, and you have every right to disagree with me philosophically. For it is these disagreements, these battles of ideas, which are vital to progress; and I would never censor you despite how passionately I disagree, but allow people to see your thoughts in contrast to mine and judge these matters for themselves.

      If you disagree with something, burn it down with evidence, break it apart with rational arguments, sunder it with reason and meaningful interpretations. And you did, and I applaud you for it. But do not, not for one moment, not for one breath, think it is ok to control the content of our discussions, and to censor our freedom of thought and chance to explore, judge, and evaluate scientific ideas/hypotheses for what they are; as this is the scientific process at its core.

      Don’t demand the men drink milk because you don’t believe the baby can have steak.

  34. Judith Curry

    Thanks for a great bunch of quotes. They do, indeed, cover a broad range of opinions (and show some ruffled feathers).

    Your abstract is very thoughtful and well presented IMO.

    Whether or not I would always agree with everything you might say is not of great importance to me.

    What is important is that you remain honest and unemotional, tell it as you see it and stay open to new ideas if they make sense to you.

    All those guys’ comments can’t take that away from you.


  35. I find this post ‘Public Engagement on Climate Change’ clinging to a premise that is false.

    I see that premise of Judith’s post is related to the positing of there being a true message that is failing to be delivered to the world outside of an IPCC centric group of climate scientists.

    That is a false premise so the argument following from it is irrelevant.

    The actual true message did get out from the IPCC centric group of climate scientists. People outside of the IPCC centric group understood the science was questionable and was managed by self-advocating gatekeepers who, to a broader world culture, appear to have been fundamentally influenced by non-science ideologies .

    Judith and all, your efforts are notable in discussing all aspects. However, the discussion is not about getting the true scientific message out, it is about scientists behaving exactly as scientists without worrying about influencing the public; doing so openly and transparently; including discoursing with each other in appropriate public venues.


  36. Let’s say this was all just a purely academic discussion among climate professors about human-induced versus natural climate change.

    This would be a “ho-hum” topic for most non climatologists.

    But that’s not what is going on here.

    We are talking about a multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded big business today, which may become a multi-trillion dollar taxpayer-funded big business if global direct or indirect carbon taxes get imposed.

    It is clear that, in the end, it will be the consumer of any goods containing an energy component (what doesn’t?) who ends up paying the bill.

    It is also quite clear that there have been no actionable mitigation proposals to date, which would result in any perceptible change of our future climate.

    So non-climatologists have a major stake in this whole discussion, whether they are policymakers or those who will ultimately pay for the policies being made based on the science being presented.

    And, yes, a great number of them are intelligent enough to be able to understand the most important concepts involved here – including being able to cut through BS – even without a degree in a climate-related science.

    Our host is right in her effort to get the public engaged in the discussion through this site.

    And, even more important, her effort seems to be working well, thank you.


  37. The Medium is the Message—

    Climatologists head north for the winter—to San Francisco in December. It is coldest there, then.

    But these Leftists will not be wearing skins and fur like the intrepid souls who made the place habitable for civilized academics.

    Imagine—Al Gore wannabes burning imported fuel everywhere they go to do everything they do.

    Being on the Left coast is poetic. Imagine—Leftists babbling at the tail-end of Western civilization that is rotting from Greece to California.

  38. Michael Larkin


    Trying to keep on topic here, I think it’s useful to remember that there are different constituencies interested in the climate debate. A few that come to mind include:

    1. Climate scientists – such as yourself and others.
    2. Scientists – but not of climate.
    3. Non-scientists, but talented amateurs about climate.
    4. Non-scientists who struggle with climate science.

    1 & 2 will usually have a PhD. 3 and 4 may or may not have higher degrees (in non-science subjects, or science subjects that are not particularly physics/maths oriented).

    Those who post here and at other blogs (certainly in technical threads) are, I would guess, mostly in categories 1-3. However, I would also guess that the biggest constituency is 4.

    1-3 may be able to judge based wholly on their detailed understanding of the science.

    4 may have to make their judgements based on subtle cues when the science gets a bit too hairy. There are certain people whom I acknowledge know a lot more about climate science than I do, but, ever on the alert for the cues in what they say in posts or reactions to posts, I detect a colouration in their views: a lack of objectivity. That is sufficient for me to make a mental note to treat anything they say with caution.

    When it comes to communicating with people about climate science, it is important to remember that for what is probably the biggest constituency, whilst they might not be experts in climate science, they could well be very effective in detecting a lack of objectivity. More effective than many climate scientists, however experienced or knowledgeable they might be in their specialties.

    It isn’t only what is communicated, but how it is communicated. It seems to me that what some climate scientists (and certainly many of those who may not be such, but are voluble on the consensus side), are most expert in, without knowing it, is in betraying their lack of objectivity; and, objectivity can’t be faked. If it’s genuinely there, it will be detected, otherwise not.

    The consensus side will only be able to convince if they can become more objective. It isn’t about “how to frame the message”. However the message is framed, if the tell-tale cues are there, scepticism, if not cynicism, will remain.

    None of this would matter if dire predictions had actually come to pass. We sceptics would have to say something like: “Well, he’s a supercilious, smug and irritating SOB, but what can I say? He’s right regardless.”

    As a final point, I observe very carefully what happens when someone sufficiently expert I have come to regard as fair and objective engages in a dialogue with a counterpart whom I have come to regard as less objective. I may not be able to follow the science perfectly, but those kinds of exchanges are highly informative.

    The climate science establishment needs to know it is being observed and judged in ways it may be oblivious to. Your success as a communicator has come about in no small degree because you have some awareness of, and respect for, the constituencies of your audience, and over time, I have become convinced of your detachment and objectivity. I’ve examined everything you’ve said with a fine tooth comb, but I haven’t picked anything up that rings alarm bells. And yet, you have often enough said things that I disagree with.

  39. Richard S.J. Tol | November 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |

    The IPCC will not go away. It will not be reformed from the outside. Reform from the inside is the only option.
    See also

    Richard S.J. Tol,

    IPCC reform from the inside requires independent monitoring from the outside of all processes (even predecisional). Where do you have any actual evidence that it is occurring or even informally considered? No, there is little credibility of self-reform based on typical UN body behavior extending back to the creation of the UN.

    The IPCC may persist for a limited time as a political hand-maiden of the UN. However, as a viably objective and intellectually independent scientific assessment vehicle it already has ceased to exist; it is already perceived as lacking in fundamental scientific integrity.


  40. Unfortunately Dr. Curry, your fabulous quotes appear to have zeroed interest in your abstract. It is basically fine I think, albeit rough. However, as the session topic is science, not climate science, don’t you need an intro to narrow and describe your focus? Moreover, climate science is probably different from most science, for just the reasons you give, so your points may not be generalizable, beyond those cases where science and policy intertwine.

    (Aside: the concept of “post normal science” is also just about those special cases, not about science per se. It is a misnomer.)

  41. Dr. Curry,

    You have given your blog readers a wonderful opportunity that is unique. No other scientist has placed herself/himself in a position to provide such an opportunity. The very fact that this post exists shows that your work in science communication has moved a level beyond that of your peers.

    I take it that this project will last for several days. I hope that is true. Most of us get to contribute only infrequently and we need some time to contribute meaningfully.

    Your preliminary abstract is OK but it does not yet express what Dr. Curry and “Climate, Etc” are doing and have done. I expect to see it change considerably.

    • The greenies have the Euros over an expork barrel being whipped with emotional blackmail. Heh, maybe emissions will be 4 times their current rate by the end of the century.

      Subjective pride greed and arrogance has gone completely insane. …Just wait for the outcry in taxing fresh produce, nature vacations, Chinese herbals, African bush meat

    • Theo, not sure how my post came to be misaligned here. It was intended to reside further down. My apologies.

  42. I’m conducting a little experiment of my own.

    I’d love to hear what “skeptics” have to say about this article:

    • Probably similar things that people said about this

      • Naomi Klein: For this to happen, the left is going to have to learn from the right. Denialists gained traction by making climate about economics: action will destroy capitalism, they have claimed, killing jobs and sending prices soaring. But at a time when a growing number of people agree with the protesters at Occupy Wall Street, many of whom argue that capitalism-as-usual is itself the cause of lost jobs and debt slavery, there is a unique opportunity to seize the economic terrain from the right. This would require making a persuasive case that the real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system—one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power. It would also require a shift away from the notion that climate action is just one issue on a laundry list of worthy causes vying for progressive attention. Just as climate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right, utterly entwined with defending current systems of power and wealth, the scientific reality of climate change must, for progressives, occupy a central place in a coherent narrative about the perils of unrestrained greed and the need for real alternatives.

        Building such a transformative movement may not be as hard as it first appears. Indeed, if you ask the Heartlanders, climate change makes some kind of left-wing revolution virtually inevitable, which is precisely why they are so determined to deny its reality. Perhaps we should listen to their theories more closely—they might just understand something the left still doesn’t get.

        Her answer seems to be “Not yet, but we can make it so.”

      • The left are revolting. Again.

    • Joshua
      The article imo inappropriately tries to frame the issue as democrat vs. republican. It also seems to infer that the issue has nothing to do with a redistribution of wealth.
      Since I am not a republican, and I disagree with the IPCC’s conclusions I disagree with the generalizations. I would not have thought redistribution of wealth was a real part of the issue until I read yesterday that the goal of “The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) is to
      “Call upon developed countries to provide public money amounting to at least 1.5% of their gross domestic product, in addition to innovative sources of finance, annually by 2015 to assist developing countries make their transition to a climate resilient low-carbon economy.”

      It appears that the article you cited has flaws

      • In support of your note:
        Mrs. Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, and Anonymous Chair. 2010. Possible elements of the outcome. (Cancun). Note by the Chair. Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention. Cancun, Mexico: IPCC, November 29.

        Agenda item 3

        Preparation of an outcome to be presented to the Conference of the Parties for adoption at its sixteenth session to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action now, up to and beyond 2012.

        Page 16: IV. Finance, technology and capacity-building A. Finance

        Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding shall be provided to developing country Parties;
        • Option 1: Developed country Parties commit, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries;
        • Option 2: Developed country Parties and other parties included in Annex II to the Convention commit to provide 1.5% of their GDP per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries;

    • Get’s some facts wrong. interesting framing that is essentially unverifiable.

      the audience was asleep for the science, but awake for the read meat politics.

      there is an obvious reason for that that she misses.

    • John Carpenter


      I guess I’ll bite. The article in interesting. I was hoping for a little more substance to the idea of capitalism vs climate than republicans vs climate. I beleive there is a necessity to have a more serious dialogue about the ideas of capitalism vs the ideas of mitigating climate change. We have had discussions here about ‘sustainability’ which are basically the same discussion. The two do not have to be diametrically opposed to one another, but it’s hard to get past the mental image of mitigation strategies requiring economically harmful legislation towards fossil fuel energy production in order for them to succeed. Fossil fuel is mostly where we get the energy to drive capitalism. I don’t think it is a stretch for a large part of the population to wince at such images and then further imagine how additional personal freedoms would become vulnerable to even more legislation. Few in our country want to lose more freedoms. Capitalism and freedom co-habitate a lot of common ground.

      The problem is more with the less capitalistic economies around the world (China for example). How will they play on the same level field? How would they be monitored to play by the same rules? What happens when they don’t?

      • John Carpenter

        I meant to delete the last paragraph. I was too busy to finish that thought properly and did not realize I hadn’t until the comment was posted. Please disregard :)

    • Loooong article, but then it’s The Nation. So far my favorite is that they’re trying to put the C back in CAGW:

      “If the carbon these projects are poised to suck out is released into the atmosphere, the chance of triggering catastrophic climate change will increase dramatically (mining the oil in the Alberta tar sands alone, says NASA’s James Hansen, would be ‘essentially game over’ for the climate).”

    • I enjoy reading The Nation – really bright progressives, good writers who are generally honest about their ideology and intent. Christopher Hitchens was their brightest star until he came to his senses (mostly).

      The article fairly accurately describes what the progressive activists driving the politics behind “climate change” intend.

      “The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their ‘free market’ belief system. As British blogger and Heartland regular James Delingpole has pointed out, ‘Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, regulation.’ Heartland’s Bast puts it even more bluntly: For the left, ‘Climate change is the perfect thing…. It’s the reason why we should do everything [the left] wanted to do anyway.’

      Here’s my inconvenient truth: they aren’t wrong.”

      But this applies to movement progressives. Those who have immersed themselves in the movement, have read extensively on progressive economic and political theory, and are politically active, leaders of the movement. It does not apply to what I call default progressives – those who believe, argue and vote progressive because that is what they have been taught, and what almost everyone they know believes (think Joshua, Martha, and Louise).

      Most climate scientists are not movement activists, they are by and large default progressives. The fact that the research they publish inevitably coincides with their political beliefs is not a result of their joining in a conspiracy. It is merely a product of confirmation bias and other phenomenon discussed at length here previously.

      But progressives of any kind are progressives first and everything else second. Hansen, Schmidt, Mann, Trenberth, et al. are not part of some diabolical cabal. They are merely progressives first, and scientists second.

    • What is so amusing of that article is that she scoffs at the “denialist” suggestion that the left is using alarmist climate change as an excuse to effect leftist policy, and then a few paragraphs later, Naomi seriously proposes that the Left use climate change as the vehicle to effect the Leftist wish list (income redistribution and such).

    • It’s not a very good article. She didn’t actually answer the question. There is some overlap between the Marxist/redistributionists/anticapitalists and the AGW movement. Pachauri has said so.

      Calling it a “Trojan Horse” is probably extreme, though again that seems to be Pachauri’s intention..

    • Isn’t this a good example of consensus groupthink and its dubious assumptions? Klein fortifies her usual readers’ prejudices before making her case. Truth? Who’s more likely to be driving an SUV, a conservative Republican or a liberal Democrat? Was Huntsman DOA because of his opinion regarding climate change? Are the Koch brothers – whose Koch Industries workforce of 50,000+ resides in the USA, who opposed neo-con military interventions, who support an end to the failed drug war, who gave $20 million to the ACLU to fight the Patriot Act, and who spend hundreds of million$ to fund medical research, the arts, and education – really the personification of evil? Will the world’s environment be improved by diverting Canadian oil to China via giant tankers and further harming the U.S. economy?

      Well, at least Klein gives an accurate description of Muller. That’s refreshing. But then we get into the ‘call to action’ part of the article, where we learn that “responding to the climate threat requires strong government action at all levels” but “real climate solutions” must “systematically disperse and devolve power and control to the community level.” Uh huh. That’ll save us. I’ve read enough.

  43. You could revisit some ideas from Jean Goodwin’s blog and review your own posts regarding her comments to get more positive ideas for your talk.

  44. Dr. Curry,
    The authority in science disciplines are the derived mathematical equations equations and physics confirmed by natural observations. For lack of climate science, public vote is the authority for climate science at this time. Will this authority lead us in the right direction to address global warming?

  45. Engaging the public at the AGU? Interested to see you defend climate change propaganda published by EU’s CORDIS in these two documents.

    … a massive ancient landslide in Spain. Their finding, presented in the journal Geology, gives volcanologists the information they need to determine when the landslide occurred following a large volcanic eruption on the Canarian island of Tenerife. … The sea engulfed the southeast slopes of Tenerife 733 000 years ago after they collapsed during a volcanic eruption.

    Dr Branney notes how the Tenerife rubble is comprised of blocks of lava that chilled quickly as the volcano erupted. Thanks to the radioactive materials found within them, Michael Storey at Roskilde was able to pinpoint the date for this natural catastrophe.

    ‘Climate change is often invoked as a trigger by pushing the side of the volcano outwards,’ explains co-author Dr Storey, …

    Care to engage the public as to how ‘Climate change is often invoked as a trigger by pushing the side of the volcano outwards,’ as it erupted 733 kya ago? Care to explain how this megatsunami translates into 4

    Care to explain the finer points of this quite literal story of misanthropic butchery? Ancient mammal species felt the human blow, study suggests.

    An international team of scientists led by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark suggests that anthropogenic activity and climate change played havoc on the genetic history of 6 large herbivores, potentially triggering the extinction or near extinction of large mammal populations within the last 10,000 years. The findings, published in the journal Nature, help piece together the puzzle on the possible fates of living mammal species as Earth continues to deal with global warming. … The team discovered that save for the woolly rhinoceros, whose range never overlapped with that of humans, the other five mammal species were impacted by human activity, particularly since our ancestors kept the animals from finding alternative refugia especially because the human species began growing significantly.

    The team of experts were palaeontologists, geologists, geneticists and climate modellers from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Seems that wicked misanthropic man frightened these creatures into extinction by disrupting their stampede towards potential refuge.

  46. Judith,

    it might be interesting to review some of what oppenheimer had to say at the last AGU.

    Is AGU going to invite Craven again?

    Will the Mann in black speak again?

  47. Richard S.J. Tol, Professor of the Economics of Climate Change

    You seem to appreciate the distinction between subjective and objective experience.

    Alternately perceptual understanding of economics is hopelessly inept. Throw in climate change inflationary opportunities and everything becomes dangerously obscene.

    Frankly I would be astonished if your expertise in ‘subjectivity’ held credibility of any sort. Philosophy and psychology call subjective experience delusion and fallacy. It is wrong. The topic will not be revisited.

    I hate environmentalists. They care about the subjective perspective but have no qualms in adopting objective overview to impose their single viewpoint on a global population of object zombie individuals

    You know the difference between subject and object well enough. Go ahead and justify the increasing and far greater damage caused by IPCCC subjective manipulation of global interests to serve the interests of their local constituency.

    If you are who you say what are and are 1/4 competent and/or honest about what you do, you must the most hated man in the ‘climate change’ community

    • Actually, he is probably pretty popular in the community that fears additional CO2 because Richard seems to ignore basic economic principles when they conflict with his beliefs on climate change.

  48. The Left is addicted to taxes. Rarely in history can we know the future with as much certainty as the threat of global warming taxation without representation and those that benefit will never forsake their use of climate scare tactics.

  49. Willis Eschenbach

    steven mosher | November 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    “it appears the consensus is that BEST temperature data since 1998 was flat. Which proves the IPCC AGW models were all wrong. t appears the consensus is that BEST temperature data since 1998 was flat. Which proves the IPCC AGW models were all wrong. ”

    It appears you have never looked at a single IPCC model run. The mean of all model runs ( 50+) did not show a “dip”, “flattening” “slowdown”, However,
    Some runs in some models did in fact show what we have observed.

    Again: Some of the runs in some of the models did in fact, the mean of all of the models did not.

    Mosh, you made this same identical claim on one of my threads at WUWT, that some models had actually predicted the fifteen-year plateau in the warming since about 1995. I had said:

    “For example, none of them [models] predicted the current 15-year or so hiatus in the warming.”

    to which you replied:

    Actually several did predict this and some predicted less warming.

    I said:

    Cite? I’ve never seen one, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    Curiously, your keyboard must have seized up about then, because you never answered. Concerned about your keyboard, I asked again:

    Still waiting for a citation, Mosh, see below … either post’em or admit you haven’t got’em. I’m good either way.


    Oddly, now that your keyboard is working once again, rather than use it to provide a citation you are once again making the same claim that some models predicted the current hiatus in the warming, once again without backup … and in response I can only ask once again:

    Citation??? Which models predicted the current warming?


    • Oh, there you go talking about things like prediction again. You know that models cannot be held to an ancient concept from physical theory. /sarc

    • Willis,
      No doubt Steven will respond in his own good time. However, you and I both know, having some experience with models, that if you run enough of them, sure enough, some may actually be seen, in retrospect, to have accurately predicted the actual outcome.

      Only problem is, how do you choose which of the 50+ model runs is going to be the one that accurately predicts the outcome at the time that the models are being run? Answer: You can’t.

      • If you cannot tell which one accurately predicts the outcome then none of them are useful for prediction.

    • You know where the individual runs are.
      I also linked to Lucia’s post
      You will in fact find GCM runs with trends less than the observed.

      Do I have to do all your work for you.

      You will find runs from individual models with trends LESS THAN the observations Roughly 2-3% of the runso

      now. go fetch

      • Willis Eschenbach

        steven mosher | November 15, 2011 at 5:06 am

        You know where the individual runs are.
        I also linked to Lucia’s post
        You will in fact find GCM runs with trends less than the observed.

        Do I have to do all your work for you.

        My work??? Say what? Supporting your claims is somehow my work?

        Steven, you made the claim. It’s up to you to support your own claim or retract it. You know where the individual runs are. Do I have to do all your work for you.?

        In addition, you are trying to slip one past everyone. Your claim was not that there were “runs from individual models with trends LESS THAN the observations”. That’s a pathetic attempt to salvage your position. The web doesn’t forget, Steven, you can’t just make things up and hope I won’t notice.

        Your claim was that there were models that predicted the current plateau in warming. Here’s your words.

        I had said:

        “For example, none of them [models] predicted the current 15-year or so hiatus in the warming.”

        to which you replied:

        Actually several did predict this and some predicted less warming.

        So put up or shut up, my friend. If you have models as you claim that “did predict this” current 15-year or so hiatus in the warming, bring them on.

        And if not, if had mis-remembered and thought there actually were models that predicted the current warming plateau?

        Well, then you do have a choice. Retract your claim, or establish a reputation as a man who makes false claims and won’t retract them.

        It’s your choice, Steven. You made the claim. Put some weight behind it or retract it, that’s science.


        PS—Steven, as my CV amply attests, I’ve been many things in my life, but “lazy” ain’t one of them. Accusing me of laziness is a clear sign that you have noticed that your argument is pathetically weak. As a diversion from your failure to supply the data to support your claim, it doesn’t even begin to pass the laugh test.

    • lazy willis.

      here. go figure it out.

      You’ll see that individual runs from individual models in some cases predict less warming than observations.

      any idiot should know that. OTHERWISE the observations would lie outside the 100% rejection region as opposed to being just at the 95% region

      there are other versions of the chart. read all the posts at Lucias.

      • Steven – go easy on me as I truly am just a cowpoke, but if an IPCC model run agrees with observations in a close timeframe, like “the pause”, isn’t that really leaning toward a lucky coincidence?

        I continue to be frustrated by this. The Keenlyside et al model predicted something akin to “the pause”. They were specifically trying to predict GMT in the immediate decades. Synopsis of Smith et al indicate their model showed natural variation would swamp the AGW signal in the last half of the 2000s. It appears to me their modeling efforts were specifically trying to predict what was going to happen in the 2000s, and not what is going to happen by 2100. What Santer said yesterday is that modeling groups are just beginning to initialize conditions in climate models in order to make predictions, I believe regional and global, of climate in immediate decades. Am I misunderstanding what he meant?

        I once asked a SLR modeler what sea level would be in 2025, and it became clear to me his model made no specific conclusion about 2025, only 2100. They drew a graph that indicated a number by 2025, but I think that graph came out of the graphing function as much as it did from the model: range from model, number from graphing function.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        steven mosher | November 15, 2011 at 5:18 am | Reply

        lazy willis.

        here. go figure it out.

        You’ll see that individual runs from individual models in some cases predict less warming than observations.

        If your claim had been that “individual runs from individual models in some cases predict less warming than observations”, you’d be 100% correct, Steven. But you didn’t claim that, or anything even remotely similar to that.

        I had said:

        “For example, none of them [models] predicted the current 15-year or so hiatus in the warming.”

        to which you replied:

        Actually several did predict this and some predicted less warming.

        So instead of trying to fool people with bogus charts that don’t begin to substantiate your claim, how about you just provide the names of the models that you said had predicted the current 15-year or so hiatus in the cooling?


      • On a previous thread, I asked the same question repeatedly. Finally I got this answer:

        Nick Stokes | October 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm |

        “Surely there must be a cite to somewhere in the voluminous peer reviewed literature prior to 1998 predicting the hiatus that was right around the corner.”

        OK, here’s a 1998 paper from GFDL. Look at Fig 16. The dotted line is the one with CO2 forcing. As it happens, it does indeed have a decadal+ hiatus in the right place. Fig 11 has no AGW forcing, but shows the pattern of 15 year trends over a long period. They frequently go below -2°C/century, which is sufficient to counter the warming trend.”

        This is the paper he linked to:

        I did not dispute the point because it was above my scientific pay grade. I could not even find definitions in the paper for all the terms necessary to discern what fig. 16 was intended to show. If this was in fact a model run that predicted the current “pause,” I would think it would be discussed more widely.

  50. As much as I appreciate your efforts to promote rationality and civility in this process, your paper seems to capitulate to the headstrong by offering an unnecessarily complex and overly-academic argument for what should be commonly accepted. It seems that you are going to have to make a graduate-level argument to get across a kindergarten concept. I appreciate your work in this area, but if I had to write such a talk, I’d have to spend all my time in the thesaurus looking up silver dollar synonyms for 5¢ words like “nice,” “evidence,” “data,” and “reason.” It’s like taking the “con” side in high school debate class on the legalization of pot. No matter what you say the crowd is going to cheer for the illiterate that shouts “let’s get stoned” from the back of the room.

  51. Dr. Curry wrote: In this talk I argue for a shift from scientists and their institutions as information disseminators to that of public engagement and enablers of public participation

    On the whole, I disagree. I think the best service to be performed by the scientists and institutions is exactly dissemination of information. There are plenty of enablers of public participation already (OWS, Tea Party, and many more). What no one else can do as well as scientists and scientific institutions is precisely to disseminate information.

    But it’s your talk. You have publications, coauthors, students, standing, you run a great blog, and you engage the public. I shall be interested to read what you have to say.

  52. Judith –
    Whatever your purpose in the blog (and I think I understand it), it’s probably testable. There’s the issue of whether the test would unduly influence the thing being tested, but if that risk is acceptable, you could:
    (1) Post something interesting, controversial, right, wrong, or whatever
    (2) At the end of the post link to a survey to a set of questions regarding the post
    (3) Announce that comments will be closed at a specific date/time, and ask those taking the first survey (whether or not they’ve contributed to the comment discussion) to take a second survey after the close of comments.
    Lots of possibilities.

  53. No, no, no, no, no.

    The only reason scientists are hammering on this “communication issue” IMHO is that they have been instructed to do so by their hired spin doctors. It is strong evidence that their positions and policies are political, not scientific.

    It isn’t the communication of science, and it never was. If the science is sound, the science speaks for itself. There wouldn’t BE any climate skeptics, except that the science is NOT speaking for itself.

    Or rather, what it is saying is that they don’t have their act together, the science isn’t meeting my own standards (and theirs – and they know it), and until the science does, no amount of spinning it is going to convince the people (skeptics, not “deniers”) who expect climate science to come up to a higher standard than what we’ve seen for over 20 years.

    Shame on them for putting in this distraction instead of getting the science solidified so that it can speak for itself.

    In what other corner of science would such sloppy, premature, conclusions and one-way adjusted data be allowed? None that I can think of – and I am pretty hard on some of the other branches, too. But this polyglot lot of “sky is falling” pap – Do they suppose that Chicken Little would hire a P.R. man to tell her how to “get her message across”? If so, oy vey!

    To RC and the IPCC: It isn’t the communication, stupid!

  54. Judith, from a less technical viewpoint, I think it is important in the discussion on ‘Public engagement on climate change’ to point out the problems caused by some of the past attempts at this —

    1. some climate experts have intentionally exaggerated future risks and intentionally publicly pushed very extreme doomsday views of the future climate. I will not mention names but they are well known. Once the public became aware they they had been lied to, many turned their backs and listened no more.
    2. some climate scientists and science communicators (and some international scientific bodies) have made dire predictions re: climate that have not come to pass. IMHO, many of these predictions were known to their authors to be very unlikely to actually come to pass. When predictions repeatedly failed, many of the public turned away and listened no more.
    3. some climate scientists have engaged in very heated public attacks on both other scientists and learned members of the public–uncivilized behavior, suggestions that dissenters and those with other opinions should be tried as criminals. When the public became aware of who the supposed ‘criminals’ were — people just like themselves with minds and thoughts of their own, and often people with truth on their side — many of the public turned away and listened no more.
    4. some scientific bodies made unwarranted claims of authority and claims to have ‘Science’ on their side. When they were found to be controlled by politics and their authoritative statements found to be unduly influenced by advocacy instead of hard science, many of the public turned away and listened no more.

    Future attempts at ‘Public engagement on climate change’ have to fight that uphill battle to overcome the damage done. Admissions will have to be made. Some scientists will have to cry ‘mea culpa’ and apologize in public. The IPCC will have to make a clear public statement of its past offenses and then produce better, unsullied results.

    The remedy would be the same if we were speaking of corporate executives involved in some corporate scandal. Heads would have to publicly roll, And real change would have to take place.

    Any effort that doesn’t name names and point to actual past offenses will not get far….the public has a pretty good memory.

  55. DocM –

    The more recent swine flu “pandemic” – the pandemic that wasn’t – was a case of technical rules being pushed a bit over their definition and causing entire governments in Europe (Poland comes to mind) to feel like they got raped. This was pushed by the company making the vaccines, and made them several tens of millions in profits overnight.

    In actuality, the alarmist predictions of certain levels of infections never came CLOSE to being reached – most countries didn’t reach over 1% or 2% of what was predicted. And there was some evidence that the infections were actually poisonings in Mexico due to large industrial-scale pig farms in the area where the “flu” began.

    Then, include the “bird flu” of two years earlier, when hundreds of millions of domesticated fowl were destroyed – and thousands of farmers put out of business, and only a few tens of thousand people out of 6.5 billion in the world were affected. The cure is worse than the disease.

  56. With all your respect; to be a ”climatologist” as a profession is a draw-back. Skeptic or Warmist Climatologist, they all have being indoctrinated that: the phony GLOBAL warming and the constant climatic changes are related. It’s wrong, misleading, destructive! 2] dismissing proofs from a person, because ”is not a professional Climatologist” is the core of the problem. I am not a bird – cannot lay an egg, but I know when the egg is rotten – climatology is rotten since the genesis of it. Unless are addressed the ”real proofs” I have; from now the life of people that concoct misleading – will become even more difficult: Stop the guessing work, there are the real proofs – everything is proven now. Climatologist cannot rely any more on: in 100y, the Urban Sheep will forget what was said.

  57. Individuals in this group have the technical ability to understand and examine climate science arguments …

    Yeah, and they also have the ability to understand that when a person says that they intended for the subtitle of their Wall Street Journal Op Ed to read:

    “… Are you a global warming skeptic? If not, perhaps you should be. Let me explain why.”

    … when the content of that Op Ed said:

    “Without good answers to all these complaints, global-warming skepticism seems sensible. But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.”

    Then that person is a liar.

    And so is his chief apologist, as she panders and flatters the opposition.

  58. @Richard S.J. Tol | November 14, 2011 at 10:12 am |

    The IPCC will not go away. It will not be reformed from the outside. Reform from the inside is the only option.

    Richard, I followed the link to your paper, and while I would never dispute that the IPCC is a monopoly, I am far from convinced that “reform from the inside” is a viable option – let alone the “only option”.

    However, my argument is somewhat O/T for this particular thread (not to mention somewhat long with lots of links, which are likely to land my post in a spam-trap). So I have put my thoughts into a post on my own blog:

    Reforming the “non-policy-prescriptive” IPCC

  59. I think there has been a fair amount of Tol-bashing on this, and the previous threads, so I will attempt a Tol defense.

    Tol is correct to say that errors of a fundamental nature (i.e., mathematical) are non-resolvable and therefore their conclusions simply break down.

    I can understand the ensuing self-reaction that Tol must have felt. When you see (what you think and know) as a basic error, and then you see people talking and discussing the same thing as though it were still structurally sound, you do get ‘angry’ (for a lack of words).

    Beyond this point however, I do not agree with his arguments. I do not especially agree with the points by the totalitarian Michael Tobis. These is a cottage industry of Curry watchers and Curry hyenas, a phenomenon that can only be understood as an immune response with the macrophages responding to the breach.

    What Richard Tol could see, as well, is that his conundrum is faced by the skeptics far more often. If a key IPCC claim is shown to be an artifact of a fundamental error in mathematics, or methodology or a procedural lapse (all of which may equally invalidate a given conclusion, given the circumstance), it is simply not enough. The consensus comes back with the standard ripostes: ‘one small error does not disprove a large body of evidence’ (whatever that means),

    More importantly, it comes up with this response: ‘you might have shown this specific instance of derivation to be wrong, but that does not mean that the overall conclusion is not correct’.

    Translate this attitude into behaviour adopted by reviewers, and journal editors, and you have the form of gatekeeping that is observed far more often in the climate sphere: gatekeeping in defense of the orthodoxy (as opposed to Tol’s ‘gatekeeping’ against the barbarian hordes of skeptics)

    • “I can understand the ensuing self-reaction that Tol must have felt. When you see (what you think and know) as a basic error, and then you see people talking and discussing the same thing as though it were still structurally sound, you do get ‘angry’ (for a lack of words). ”

      I don’t claim to know much about this, but the volume of discussion about cause to wonder about things. One thing I wonder about is, if if a simple basic error, why correct it? Meaning why doesn’t Tol go- this is wrong math, if correct is used one would get X result.
      Another aspect of it seems the complaint was misuse or incorrect use of some statistical process, and response to this complaint is it’s used by others and/or related other work.

      As side note, I can’t take this whole subject very seriously- as there seems
      a far too much bickering rather cooperation.
      If the subject was truly important it seems the whole approach would be different.

      • I would agree. In the event of an error, of however low a caliber it may be, the only eventual ‘way out’ is to offer a formal rebuttal. If lowly commenters offer high reason or high boffins offer snappy dismissals informally, it amounts to the same: a hand-wave.

        Tol’s beef therefore is misplaced: it ought to be directed, not at Curry, but the journal’s minders, and the authors themselves in any event.

    • well that is quite an image :)

      “These is a cottage industry of Curry watchers and Curry hyenas, a phenomenon that can only be understood as an immune response with the macrophages responding to the breach.”

      • I like the “barbarian hordes of skeptics” best.

        Goths, Huns or Mongols? (All fleeing local climate change, of course.)

        Talk about “fear mongering”!

    • Thanks, Shub.
      Note that I was equally angry about the latest paper Rahmstorff and Vermeer — fewer mistakes but a higher journal. That did not generate a series of blog posts and numerous comments though.

      • Note that I was equally angry about the latest paper Rahmstorff and Vermeer — fewer mistakes but a higher journal …” – R. S. J. Tol

        Did you write a comment to the journal?

    • Amusing how Tol and Pielke’s drive by on Michael Tobis has established itself in the small minds of ugly characters. And, of course, Tol’s “air quote” apology has had the predicted effect.

  60. How good are models at predicting the future?

  61. Judith –

    Not sure why you deleted DocMartyn’s comment calling me a neo-Nazi. FWIW, I take no offense when certain “skeptics” reveal the extremism behind their “skepticism.”

    In fact, I think that you shouldn’t delete such extremist comments. It makes it seem as if you’re covering something up.

    And speaking of comments that you might want to delete – I assume you missed this one?

    • I’m trying to reduce the noise on the blog, particularly on current threads. Nazis and penis are words that don’t have a place in the climate debate.

      People can pick an older thread for off topic discussions and discussions that push the bounds of blog rules.

      • Sometimes comparisons are apt.

        Schrödingers wave equation is a description of everything, rather like Douglas Adams answer to life the universe and everything; 42. It is possible to generate answers that are true, but do not provide useful information.
        Are individual model runs an hypothesis or are they one solution to a complex problem? They must be one thing or another.

        Any analysis of history shows that allowing organizations to make medical judgments on behalf of others has very poor outcomes.
        The ‘scientifically’ based eugenics movement was responsible of the compulsory sterilization and murder of millions. Most people are more familiar with the Nazi period, but are less likely to know the zeal with which states like California embraced eugenics.

        When people defend the ability of a small group of enlightened individuals to make far reaching decisions for the rest, ‘for the greater good’, you are on the none stop elevator to Hell.

  62. The primary problem with the communications between climate science and this public is the inability for climate scientists to remain consistent in their arguments.

    I went from curiosity to skepticism the day I read a paper by Hansen where he claimed a sensitivity of 6C based upon warming to equilibrium and long term feedbacks. Before I had even finished reading the paper I was asking myself: well if that is true, how much of the recent warming has to be from warming to equilibrium and long term feedbacks from previous forcings. It seems like the most logical first question to answer to me, yet I can’t find anyone that is claiming large long term effects that has gone back and applied the same principles to previous forcings which are presumably mostly natural. I also find it interesting that the same group of people that will claim shutting down the THC will cause “The Day After Tomorrow” or some lesser effect will also claim that heat transport can only redistribute heat and not affect the energy balance. It is obvious that changing heat transport changes the albedo and isn’t the loss of albedo why we should be so concerned about Arctic sea ice melt? Of course this is a major problem since if one admits that energy transport affects the energy budget it means that climate sensitivity is not a constant and that paleo boundaries placed up what the sensitivity must be now are worthless. Consistency of argument is fundamental logic and it seems to be lacking.

  63. Bill Hooke has an excellent post on Participatory Action Research, that was motivated by my post,

    and check out Peter Park’s slideshow on participatory research

  64. Michael Larkin wrote: “That’s not what Judith does.” …. “She’s a facilitator. She’s not didactic (all the best adult educators are like that – education being my professional specialty). Her purpose is not to impart knowledge from a lofty point, but to act as an enabler for open discussion and the development and exercise of critical thinking.”

    I think Michael Larkin has it right, at least in my experience. Initially, the facilitator identifies the issue at hand (and sometimes the nature of the decision to be reached). Participants give information, propose analyses of the issue, may suggest approaches and solutions, disagree, etc. A note taker tracks major points, often on white board(s) or flip charts visible to all. All the while, the facilitator calls upon those who have been silent to speak up, and (attempts to) tamp down those in attack mode. Finally, the facilitator may summarize a conclusion and ask if that is the understanding of the participants. Save the notes; repeat as required.

    Climate Etc. is not an exact instance of what is described above, but I think it is close. :-)