Teaching (?) the controversy

by Judith Curry

One of the most important issues raised by the Heartland affair is what should be taught to students in K-12.   On the one hand, we have the efforts of the NCSE (where Peter Gleick was a board member).  On the other hand, Heartland is funding David Wojick to develop curricula that teaches the controversy.

So, should we teach the consensus, the controversy, or none of the above?

A strong argument for teaching the controversy was made by Nullius in Verba on a thread at Collide-a-Scape:

“Let’s be clear about something. The Heartland Institute, based on the legitimate document, wants to teach the controversy.”

Good! All science education should be about teaching the controversy. That’s what science is.

This is only a workable strategy on the part of the Creationists because the mainstream hasn’t taught the evidence, they’ve used authority and consensus instead. Showing controversy breaks the consensus argument.

Keeping controversy out of schools does a severe disservice to children, because the moment they leave school they will be faced with the controversies full force, and they won’t have the mental tools or experience with which to decide. Do you think they won’t be taught the controversy at home? Or with their friends? Or watching TV?  And if they believe from school that real science is all neat and uncontroversial, and then somebody shows some issue is controversial in the extreme, won’t they be inclined to believe it’s therefore not settled science? Isn’t that why ‘teaching the controversy’ works?

Whereas if they’re very familiar with controversies from having been introduced to them in school, and have been taught the research methods needed to find more information, test claims, construct counter-examples and so on, they’ll be better able to resist.

‘Teaching the controversy’ is only to be feared by those who rely on holding a monopoly over education to keep alternative viewpoints out, rather than teaching good quality science.

I certainly agree with NiV here, although I personally have no idea what would make sense in this regard in the K-12 classroom (it will be interesting to see what David Wojick comes up with in this regard).

However, I do have some insights and experience with regards to teaching the controversy at the college level.  Let me share some of the things that we have been doing at Georgia Tech in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS).

Climate and Global Change

Peter Webster teaches a course on Climate and Global Change, that is taken by senior undergraduate students and also graduate students.  More than half of the students from the class come from other fields (mostly engineering and biology). The course is primarily the science of climate dynamics.

The last two weeks are devoted to the climate change problem as framed by the IPCC.  The students were shown 6 online (youtube) presentations: 3 from the consensus perspective, and 3 from the skeptic side:  Pat Michaels, Bob Carter, Vincent Courtillot.  I led a discussion on the movies.  The general opinion of the students was that none of the presentations were wholly convincing, and that each had at least some good points.  I asked which “side” did you find more convincing, the consensus or the skeptics?  Most said “somewhere in the middle.”

Balance of Power

Kim Cobb teaches an innovative course called A Balance of Power: Energy, the Environment, and Society.  The web page for the course is here.  In addition to being taken by undergrad students in EAS, this course is also a course for the Honors Program and Energy Certificate, so a majority of the students are outside of EAS, from a range of different majors.

The outline of the course is here.  The course has numerous guest lectures.  Early in the semester, they hear from an exec at The Southern Company, whose main message is that coal is king in the Southeast U.S. and the key to regional prosperity.  Two weeks are spent giving them the basics of climate science, in the context of the IPCC WG1 reports.  Energy and climate policy is discussed from a range of perspectives, and then experts on various energy technologies give lectures.  They also do a carbon reduction challenge project.

I lectured in the class yesterday, giving my perspectives on uncertainties in the climate debate, the dynamics of the public debate on this issue,  and decision making under uncertainty.  My ppt slides can be found [akim cobb class 12].  We had a lively discussion.  The students don’t seem to spend much time on the blogs (the were unaware of the Heartland affair).  They seemed particularly interested in how to identify no-regrets strategies and the ideas of motivating energy policy in the context of clean air and energy security in combination with climate change.   I talked about some of the issues facing scientists who engage in public debate, we talked about the role of think tanks and advocacy groups.  We talked about teaching the controversy (or not), and how you would get different perspectives on the climate change issue at different universities.  I emphasized that my goal was to teach students to think critically rather than just give them facts, since the “facts” can change, and they need to know how to evaluate future controversies.   So the class was lively.  Kim Cobb will do a debrief in the next class to see how they reacted to my guest slot in the class.


Last week, Randy Olson, scientist turned film maker, visited Georgia Tech for a series of workshops, a lecture, and screening of his movie Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy.

This is the most balanced treatment of the global warming debate that I’ve seen.  Its done in ‘mockumentary’ style, its funny yet insightful.  It has a number of features that would appeal to high school and college audiences, including the hip-hop photographers and the flaky producers. It has a number of important, yet subtly made points:  that there is a scientific debate, it is very easy to get distracted from the global warming issue to deal with more immediately relevant issues, and finally that the U.S. doesn’t know how to deal with such challenges (as exemplified by continuing problems in New Orleans).

People interviewed from the ‘warm side’:

  • Dr Jerry Meehl, NCAR climate scientist
  • Dr. Richard Somerville, Sripps climate scientist
  • Dr. Naomi Oreskes, History of Science Professor
  • Dr. Megan Owen, San Diego Zoo Research Dept
  • Julia Bovey, Natural Resource Defense Council

People interviewed from the ‘cool side:’

  • Dr. George Chillingarian, Professor of Petroleum Eng.
  • Dr. Bill Gray, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr. Steve Hayward, American Enterprise Institute
  • Dr. Pat Michaels, CATO Institute
  • Marc Morano, former staff member of Senator Inhofe
  • Dr. Fred Singer, Science and Environmental Policy Project

There are two different Trailers, see here and here.  The Pat Michaels scene is here.  The Marc Morano scene is here.

UNFORTUNATELY, the movie is not available on DVD or in movie theaters, apparently it is shown in special screenings.  But this is an excellent example of teaching the controversy.

JC comments:  I think the most important thing to impart to college students is motivation to learn and to give them the tools with which to evaluate scientific and other controversies.  Whether or not we call this critical thinking (which was debated on the climate classroom thread) or something else, doesn’t matter.  I also think that high school students should be exposed to this kind of approach to learning (whether or not in the context of the climate debate).

In any event, I think that this whole issue of if/how to teach climate science and the broader issues surrounding climate change, is going to be deservedly receiving increased attention.

I’m interested in critiques of what we are doing at Georgia Tech, but I would be particularly interested in hearing about approaches being used at other universities and in high schools.

758 responses to “Teaching (?) the controversy

  1. I’ve made this point several times on this blog so excuse me for making it again. Controversial subjects, where the outcome is not known, are interesting. Settled subjects are often boring. Climate science is VERY interesting.

    • Good point.

      • Good point. But scientists are like rats in a maze, trying to decipher the motives of politicians that feed our appetites (grant funds, tenure and awards). Sometimes the politicians do not want the controversy known.

        AGU and the Geophysics Section of the US National Academy of Sciences have a long history of acting on behalf of politicians. Their motives, like the actions of bureaucrats, are usually remarkably simple: E.g., to survive and remain in control (power).

        The recent action of Dr. Peter Gleick is an intriguing piece of this puzzle for us rats to analyze, especially if Peter is a member of the Geophysics Section of the US National Academy of Sciences,

        I tentatively concluded in 2011 that the global climate scandal (1971-2011) grew from fear in political leaders of mutual nuclear annihilation and the 1971 decision between Henry Kissinger and leaders of the Communist nations to adopt “global climate change” as a “common enemy” to unite all nations under a one-world government – where world leaders could live in safety.

        Another former student of the late Dr. Kuroda, Dr. Larry A. Burchfield, published a book, “Nuclear Fear – The Godzilla of All Fears” that shows examples of science that politicians do not want discussed.


        The US Military moved Kuroda to this country after WWII, a priest gave him the Christian name “Paul” on the ride across the ocean, but politicians probably did not want the public to know how close Japan came to developing the first A-bomb and winning WWII.

        According to another former student of Professor Kuroda, a member of the Geophysics Division of NAS chaired the session of the AGU meeting and publicly scolded Kuroda for reporting in April 1956 that self-sustaining nuclear fission occurred naturally when uranium ores formed in Earth’s early history [The U-235/U-238 ratio was much higher then].

        Kuroda had in fact done the calculations and understood nuclear pile theory as well as anyone, but Kuroda’s former student said the chair of the AGU session declared that Fermi had examined issue and found it was impossible.

        Kuroda’s paper was rejected for publication. He published the information later as two, single page articles in the Journal of Chemical Physics 25 (1956) pages 781 and 1295. His report was confirmed on 25 Sept 1972 when the French Atomic Energy Commission reported a natural nuclear reactor had occurred at Oklo in the Republic of Gabon, Africa.

    • Judith
      Strongly support your efforts to teach the “controversy” with the full range of facts to see how the actually support the different hypotheses/theories, (vs the political alarmism). Controversy is one of the best ways to get and keep attention and to learn (in contrast to rote memorization).
      Particularly important is your effort to get students to think critically – not just regurgitate press releases.
      Showing what would happen to Canadian agriculture for a 2 degree COOLING and that Europe has been getting less gas because of a colder winter in Russia is far more important than thinking I might have to pay a little more for air conditioning. The fact that Finland lost a third of its population to cold/famine has a far greater impact than Al Gore buying ocean front property and claiming very high ocean expansion.
      General Winter played a far greater role in Napoleon’s defeat in Russia than all the French war strategies.

      Keep up the good work.

      • I agree, David. I too applaud Professor Curry for using “controversy” and the full range of facts to develop critical think skills.

        However one lesson from the global climate scandal is abundantly clear:

        AGW supporters still have all the political power, although AGW skeptics have better science, because . . .
        a.) Politicians are stupid or
        b.) Politicians prefer AGW.

        Many scientists prefer (a), but the evidence for (b) is overwhelming.

        I encourage Professor Curry to continue using “controversy” and the full range of facts to develop critical think skills, but perhaps we need to ask why politicians prefer to fund scientifically weaker models of climatology, solar physics, self-sustaining nuclear fission, etc., etc.

      • At 10:03 pm I posted (below) what seems a viable explanation for political support of scientifically weak models:

        “Creeping international(ist) socialism that is steadily eroding our right to self-determination, both as individuals and as a sovereign nation.”

        If true, AGW and poor classroom teaching may only be visible parts of a cancerous invasion of our society.

    • When they are as incompetent as climate science is now, they should not be taught as science. And when you don’t know, you should stick to teaching the most definitive facts you can find, and feign no hypotheses.

    • Here in the university town of Uppsala, Sweden (just north of Stockholm) I teach lower high school students (13-15 year olds) science at an international bi-lingual Swedish-English school.
      As Judith does, I concentrate on Critical Thinking skills and use current scientific controversies to illustrate the basic rules of logical thought. The students should be able to show, through these exercises, that they can choose/balance facts and put them together in a basic logical argument, no matter what opinion they end up supporting. Many fun filled debates usually ensue :-)
      You can see some of my CT presentations and exercises at the bottom of this page:

      CT has just become mandatory teaching in the new 2011 school curriculum, though most teachers just go as far as “interests behind sources”, and the new textbooks are still terribly biased about science controversies.
      PS sorry that some parts of some slides are in Swedish, but I think you can probaly get the guist of the level and type of arguments I present. Sweden is still much a very closed shop with regards to alternative viewpoints about environmental issues, but maybe this will slowly change with this new Lgr11 curriculum :-)

    • There is no controversy. You will be assimilated.

      -Climate Borg

      P.S. Judith, don’t women always agree with each other 85-90% ?

  2. The best class I took in college (as an economics major) was History of Economic Thought. Learning how theory has evolved over the years and the arguments involved was a tremendous way to put the then current doctrine into perspective. I know others say the same thing about a History of Science course.

    Teach the arguments and disputes. It’s the way science evolves and it helps focus the mind on the reality that the ‘facts’ change.

    • Stan, you beat me to it. I had the same thought, except my class was on the evolution of the Earth. It really changed my perspective on the scientific process.

    • stan –

      Ditto. My History of Science course was fascinating as a study in the changing beliefs about science quite apart from the science itself (even though the two go hand in hand).

    • The best classes I took at graduate school (Uni in Australia) were always based on the quality of teaching rather than on subject-matter.

      People like Fred and David W should do the teaching of climate concepts very well, based on their enthusiasm for the subject, but feel that a more balanced viewpoint would be made by our hostess.

  3. Judith

    In the US what age is K12?

  4. tonyb,


  5. I fear that post-normal science is rearing its ugly head again.

    The notion that students who are not inculcated with the pros and cons of this year’s high profile controversy will stumble out into the world in a bewildered state is a load of bollocks.

    I mean, what about GM food, or dark matter, or genetic engineering of human embryos? Then there are all the competing theories about why people get fat – hugely controversial, and in the media every day.

    Call me old fashioned, but what is wrong with teaching physics, chemistry and biology minus the social engineering. Once a year – let ’em rip with whatever fad they want to do a project on.

    David Wojik shouldn’t be doing his exercise, because the science curriculum shouldn’t be wasting time on ‘pop-sci’ in the first place. What students need to learn are the principles of the scientific method, and the basic tools required to utilise it. Critical thinking is possibly the most important of those.

    Science is fascinating – and the real challenge is how to translate that into the schoolroom without preaching or proselytizing. Much easier to burden teachers with more and more cant about ‘relevance’.

    • There is the way it should be, and there is the way it is. K through 12 should not be a period of indoctrination in pop science. But my children were bringing home weekly readers and text books filled with CAGW hype presented as facts years ago. I got to the point where I thought if I saw one more picture of some poor, lost (?) polar bear, devastated by global warming, I would scream.

      In the world we really live in, there has to be push back against the indoctrination of our children by the left. Conservatives for decades have been getting on with their lives rather than fight back against the unending cultural and ideological war the progressives have taken to our schools. Good for Heartland and David Wojick for making some small start in response.

      Teaching the controversy at the university level should be the norm. Elementary and high school children should be off limits. But tell that to the unionized public school teachers and administrators who vote overwhelmingly Democrat.

      • Best post on the thread.

        Dr. Curry will look the other way. This meme can’t be addressed here is the protocal.

      • I’m pretty sure we covered various ‘half-baked alternative energy’ proposals in High School physics. The teacher called it ‘putting on our BS protectors’, except he used the actual word.

        Critical reading was fun too…we would just take a marker and cross out every sentence in the newspaper that had a ‘weasel word’ like ‘may have’ or ‘could have’ or ‘alleged’. About the only thing that was left was the sport scores and the obituaries.

        It’s never too early to start teaching ‘critical thought processes’.

      • But what would you do on Earth Day????

      • Hi Gary,
        I ran across the interactive Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice graph that shows the complete satellite record (1979-present). I thought you might be able to use it help explain the sea ice issue to the children.

        Cryosphere Today uses a lower limit of 30% concentration as opposed to NSIDC which uses 15% which accounts for differences between the record sets.

        The important thing for the kids to understand, the satellite record (1979-present) only represents about 50% of the current natural cycle. The next 25-30 years will complete a typical cycle.

        I thought it would be easier to explain if they can see the deviations occurring within an annual context.

        Cryosphere Today

        This link offers a more complete look at Sea Ice:

      • John from CA,

        Thanks for the link. I’ve seen the WUWT page before, but not the Cryosphere Today graph.

        Unfortunately my kids are older now, in their 20s, and don’t seem to be as impressed with their father’s “brilliance” as when they were younger. (I’m also often told I am not nearly as funny as I think I am, though I can still crack their friends up.) But they have grown to be independent thinkers, so that’s fine by me.

        I wish I had had access to sites like WUWT and Climate Etc. when they still listened to me. :-)

    • johanna –

      I agree. But even a slight introduction to the topic from a sane and neutral point of view may be quite an antidote to whatever they’re likely to pick up from other sources.

    • “Call me old fashioned, but what is wrong with teaching physics, chemistry and biology minus the social engineering”

      Because associated with science is technology, and technology has a huge impact on people. From the chemistry of nitrogen mustards came chemical warfare and chemotherapy, we have rejected one and embraced another.

      “Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together”

      Jonathan Swift

      Scientists want to understand ‘stuff’. In my view, human beings have a moral obligation to make the world a better place. The problem comes when scientists believe that their obligations as moral people are greater than the dispassionate science can support.
      People who would be up in arms if a drug company had fudged the results of a drug trial for the sake of money are quite relaxed if a climate scientists overplays the potential consequences of a rise in atmospheric CO2.

      Evangelical preachers used to warn of the dangers of an eternity in hell-fire and that earthquakes and floods were a sign of Gods displeasure; modern day ones threaten you decedents to a lifetime of raging storms, floods, fields turning to dust and eternal heat waves.
      The call is the same, only the deity has changed.

    • I think I come down on your side.

      Although I do agree with Dr Curry about teaching critical thinking and the scientific process over just providing facts.

    • so K12 equals 5 TO 18?

      Is it seriously being suggested that those at the lower end of this age range should be deliberately indoctrinated? Sounds like the Agenda 21 programme for schools

      • Well, ‘it’s for the kids’.

      • At least it is not as bad as in the 50s and 60s when I was taught to calmly crawl under my desk and place my head between my knees should the loud siren sound.

      • That one really griped me, Cap’n; couldn’t I at least stand and scream?

      • They are being deliberately indoctrinated, in the sense of reading one sided material. I merely want to present both sides. I did not create this situation, the CAGW movement created it.

      • Go look at the attachments folder of climategate mails..

        Lots of “win young minds” stuff. standard

      • k scott denison

        Agree. The amount of one-sided teaching in our schools is high. The things our girls came home and told us they were “taught” in school are horrifying.

      • capt. dallas 0.8 +/-0.2 | February 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
        “At least it is not as bad as in the 50s and 60s when I was taught to calmly crawl under my desk and place my head between my knees should the loud siren sound.”

        Sounds like how I remember it except you left out the final step. After placing your head between your knees you were to kiss your a$$ goodbye!

    • Great statement Johanna! Three cheers and all that. I agree 99%! Real ability to read, listen and think critically is the most important thing that can be taught a student (in school, at least….there are more important things in life.)

      However, our beleaguered K-12 teachers may need some guidance on how to answer students’ questions at various levels — 3rd graders don’t get theoretical quantum physics, they get atoms-electrons-protons or maybe even just marble-like atoms that stick together to form other things.

      By high school, kids should be learning how to read the newspaper and dissect TV newscasts with viciously incisive critical thinking skills — separating the facts from the spin.

  6. Personal opinion – can and should be taught in high schools, at least to classes such as SOAR or Honors. Would be nice to teach to all, but given constraints/requirements on K-12 education, might be hard to fit in. Most difficult part is getting teachers ready to teach it.

    I really like the GaTech approach. We must teach enough of the science which provide the bases of the controversy so that some understanding is achieved. After all, in the early Renaissance, the “consensus” was that Ptolemaic epicycles were the “right” description of the planets’ paths. In fact, my understanding is that the question was not so much decided by greater accuracy but by Occam’s razor. In the talks I have given on GW, I have stressed the facts, the uncertainties, and the absolute necessity for each to make up his or her own mind. Whether we like it or not, the fruits of science will be politicized; anything we can do to help the polity learn to think, we should.

  7. Alex Rawls calls the efforts of the AR5 leaders to exclude solar effects, Omitted Variable Fraud. Discussion of this article ought to be interesting.


    • It’s complete bollocks. Just another example of morons at WUWT given space to dribble their stupidity.

      • I haven’t read it, but could you provide a few specific examples of errors in data, fallacies in logic, or whatever it is that you claim to be “complete bollocks.” Then we would have some basis on which to evaluate your claim.

      • Otherwise, your comment is just another exercise in argumentum ad hominem, or name-calling.

      • Please could you just clarify your position a little? Thanks.

      • “For the 1750-2010 period examined, two variables correlate strongly with the observed warming (and hence with each other). Solar magnetic activity and atmospheric CO2 were both trending upwards over the period, and both stepped up to much higher levels over the second half of the 20th century”


      • Iolwot

        What year are you going up to in your chart from the OSS Foundation?(5.08pm)

        Also it would be interesting to see your graph redrawn to take into account the warmer period immediately prior to the start of your record


      • Did you even bother to read the article? If you did, that wouldn’t be a graph that you would use to try to argue against it. A couple of points from the article:
        1) Using a single variable (TSI, sunspots…) to qualify the entirety of the Sun’s effect on the earth is silly. Not mentioning that there is ample evidence to suggest that there is /some/ sort of relationship (which we currently don’t fully understand) amounts to “omitted variable fraud.”

        2) Effects are take time (decades/centuries), and it certainly isn’t instantaneous. The analogy he makes is like heating water. If I set the burner to high, then lower the burner to Med, using the logic you are pushing with that graph, I would expect the temperature to go down. Anyone who as done any amount of cooking would know about “carry over” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carry_over_cooking ), or that the temps can go up even at the lower level of energy input (using the burner analogy, if your burner can bring water to a boil set at MED, it doesn’t matter if you reduce it from HIGH to MED – the water is still going to go to 100degC (at sea level) ).

        That article is a very interesting read – highly recommended. More abrasive than one would like, but given the filtering/censoring that is going on, not unjustified.

      • “1) Using a single variable (TSI, sunspots…) to qualify the entirety of the Sun’s effect on the earth is silly. Not mentioning that there is ample evidence to suggest that there is /some/ sort of relationship (which we currently don’t fully understand) amounts to “omitted variable fraud.””

        Look, I’ll give one clear example of why I get so annoyed at WUWT.

        Part of the “ample evidence” you mention provided by Alex Rawl is the following paper: “Solar Activity Over the Last 1150 years: does it Correlate with Climate?”. He even provides an excerpt. So supposedly he read the paper.

        The excerpt he gives is: “The long term trends in solar data and in northern hemisphere temperatures have a correlation coefficient of about 0.7 — .8 at a 94% — 98% confidence level.”
        The paper is here: http://www.mps.mpg.de/dokumente/publikationen/solanki/c153.pdf

        here’s the rub: The Northern Hemisphere temperatures in question is the Hockey Stick. Yes that dreaded Michael Mann thing that no-one over at WUWT accepts. Alex Rawl clearly either hasn’t read the paper, or he doesn’t think this matters.

        You see the irony/hypocrisy/whatever that drives me mad? He’s there accusing scientists of “fraud” when he’s made such a sloppy mistake himself.

        In case the implications aren’t clear: if he doesn’t accept the hockey stick (and I am quite confident he doesn’t) then we have a case where a false temperature record has a good correlation with solar data. If good correlation statistics can be derived by fluke like that from false data then such statistics are not as great evidence as he has made out.

      • lolwot writes:
        Look, I’ll give one clear example of why I get so annoyed at WUWT.
        You see the irony/hypocrisy/whatever that drives me mad?

        This is my take away: MBH99 can only have 2 states: It can either be right or it is wrong. If you believe it is right, AND there’s no mistakes in the solar paper (if there is something wrong with it, please point it out), then there appears to be correlation between solar and climate (a case you left out). If MBH99 is wrong, then BOTH papers are useless (though there are /still/ remains the LIA / sunspot anecdotal relationship that is in the historical record), while the AGW side of the ledger would lose the claim that the recent heating is unprecedented, and would have an even harder time showing that CO2 is the primary driver of the heating. Just a guess, but I think any of these outcomes would be fine to Mr. Rawls. Are these implications fine with you too?

        I will point out that our gracious host has said to that the solar issue is being debated in the solar community ( http://judithcurry.com/2012/02/22/teaching-the-controversy-2/#comment-174277 )

      • “If MBH99 is wrong, then BOTH papers are useless (though there are /still/ remains the LIA / sunspot anecdotal relationship that is in the historical record)…I think any of these outcomes would be fine to Mr. Rawls”

        Rawl pushed a result premised on data that skeptics don’t accept. He didn’t notice and none of the commenter’s did too. It’s either sloppy research or a complete disregard for consistency.

        By pointing this out I was hoping to demonstrate something I know is true:

        The disconnect between WUWT and the IPCC over the role of the Sun in climate is because the IPCC is reviewing the science and weighing up the evidence properly and WUWT is not.

        I didn’t cover all the problems in this specific case. Here’s another one though. The paper ends with:
        “Note that the most recent warming, since around 1975, has not been considered in the above correlations. During these last 30 years the total solar irradiance, UV irradiance and cosmic ray flux has not shown any significant secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming episode must have another source”

        Where did Rawl factor that part of the paper in? That’s right he didn’t, it was completely ignored.

        “This is my take away: MBH99 can only have 2 states: It can either be right or it is wrong. If you believe it is right, AND there’s no mistakes in the solar paper (if there is something wrong with it, please point it out), then there appears to be correlation between solar and climate (a case you left out).”

        I don’t believe MBH99 is right. Nor do I put much weight on correlations between longterm trends. The problem is these correlations being reported are not all what they are cracked up to be. Rawl is reporting them as if they are some powerful evidence when really they are not. Another WUWT gaff.

      • MBH99 can only have 2 states: It can either be right or it is wrong.

        Why? Temperature reconstructions based on proxies are only ever going to give an approximation of “real” temperatures and that can range from a good approximation to a very poor one with plenty of possibilities inbetween depending on a number of factors – the quality of the proxies, their coverage, statistical methods used etc.

      • I’m sorry, but your example is all wet. Just because you believe Mann’s papers are complete bollocks, to borrow a phrase, doesn’t mean that all the studies he uses are also wrong. For instance, I don’t know that anyone has disputed the findings of the Tiljander paper, simply Mann’s (upside down) use of it. The weights assigned and obvious cherry picking are also major strikes against his work.

        Just because a study happens to find a hockey stick shape doesn’t automatically indicate that it is wrong, and as far as I am aware no one has ever suggested such a thing. Well, except for warmists creating strawmen at least.

      • andrew adams:
        > > MBH99 can only have 2 states: It can either be right or it is wrong.
        > Why? Temperature reconstructions based on proxies are only ever going to give an approximation of “real” temperatures…

        Because, as noted by lolwot, MBH99 is one of the hockey stick graphs. As one, one implication is that the MWP wasn’t warmer than today. Google mbh99 and “hockey stick”. The basic take-away is that the temp was decreasing (slightly) for ~1900 years and then abruptly shot up. Right/Wrong, Usable/Useless, Stable/Chaotic, use whatever exclusionary words you want, but this really doesn’t have a middle ground. A analogy of this in a different field is the sunspot count. You either believe the Chinese astronomers were counting relatively consistently/accurately or not. Otherwise, you can only use modern data which doesn’t help too much with the time ranges climate works in.

        > The disconnect between WUWT and the IPCC over the role of the Sun in climate is because the IPCC is reviewing the science and weighing up the evidence properly and WUWT is not.

        I believe the point of the post was that the IPCC is suppressing evidence of the role of the Sun. If you mean by “weighing up the evidence”, you mean “not mention”, then your statement is factually correct. I will point out again that Rawls is not the only one pointing this out:

      • Jim T: The issue here is a paper that is based on Manns hockey stick, not a paper which Mann’s hockey stick is based on.

        Roger Fujii: “I believe the point of the post was that the IPCC is suppressing evidence of the role of the Sun.”

        The post is incompetent. It’s point is lost.

        For the IPCC to be accused of suppressing evidence requires that evidence actually be presented that the IPCC has ignored. The WUWT post fails to do so.

        If the IPCC had infinite space and the authors infinite time I am sure they could mention every single speculatory unsubstantiated idea about the Suns role on climate and explain just why each one is lacking or irrelevant to the global picture. But the IPCC has limited space so they report on the stuff which has substance and actual evidence behind it. The burden is on scientists with speculatory ideas to back them up with substantial evidence. Then the IPCC will report on them.

        As it stands the weight of evidence points at the Sun playing a minimal role in recent warming. WUWT just cannot admit that though, it’s a kind of dogma for them that the Sun drives everything. Hence posts such as Rawl’s that resort to quote-mining papers. It’s all they’ve got.

      • lotwot writes: Then the IPCC will report on them.
        As I have pointed out previously, even our host has gotten a complaint that they are not doing so. We won’t know until the report comes out (obviously), but I am not hopeful that “Himalayan Glaciers” isn’t going to have a sequel.

        lotwot writes: As it stands the weight of evidence points at the Sun playing a minimal role in recent warming.

        Our host points out that Judith Lean reported:
        “Irradiance increase from 1986-1996 solar minimum claimed to produce 20-30% of recent global warming . . but increase in ACRIM composite could be instrumental.”

        (note she doesn’t take sides, only that it is being debated, so now it’s up to you to say where you get your “weight of evidence”). I suppose you could say that “30% is minimal”, but that would be using the term “minimal” in a way I’m not used to.

  8. You realize that were it not for “climategate” this discussion would not be taking place :)

  9. I don’t know why the science of climate needs to be taught in K through 10 at all. As a former teacher of general science in 7-9, the basic principles of science and math escape most students so that a special cirriculum would just crowd out what needs to be taught. Students in chemistry and physics could be exposed to the climate science to understand how the planet heats up from the sun without delving into the principles of cliamte forcing and such. My concern is that this effort is an attempt to counter the information available outside the classroom that seems to be propaganda on AGW. This will not help the students in those courses when they are striving to get the fundamentals of chemistry and physics under their belts.

    • Correct Jon. My stuff is planned to be Web based and is merely designed to counter the parallel array of Web based CAGW stuff. I would prefer that neither were used, but given the CAGW stuff mine is necessary. Google on climate education and you will see what I mean. Much of it is Federally funded by the with more coming all the time.

  10. My children were taught history in middle school by the brother of one of the major Whitewater scandal people, who went to jail over her refusal to give testimony. He certainly had some strong opinions, and ones that I disagreed with. But he was willing to teach both sides of issues, and did so as a professional. I disagreed with him strongly on politics, but he was a good teacher. AGW believers seem to need a great deal of control in communications (look at the large number of climate communication events) and a desire to micromanage- look at the hysterical reaction over a planned curriculum by HI. It does not even exist, but it is already condemned and led to a disastrous decision by Peter Gleick.
    While I think the behavior of AGW believers is actually helping the skeptical case, i still believe that the AGW community would be better off if they looked at Faegate as a teachable moment and stopped doubling down.

    • Hunter,

      They always double down. Consider Paul Krugman or most of the comments on Gleick’s of Revkin’s blogs the past few days.

      • cwon14,
        It is amazing to watch the AGW true believers give away the high ground over such a cause as Gleick’s fraud.
        And the faithful are rebelling against Revkin and other journalists I follow. Check out Collide-a-scape, or the sciguyblog. The AGW faithful think Gleick, in a sadly large number, was at the least justified in what he did, if not down right heroic.

      • It’s really what many have been saying for a long-time. It’s confirmed in a huge way;

        Believers are morally bankrupt and AGW is a religious sect.

        It’s another symptom of a larger culture war. These are the same people supporting government inspections of school lunches to meet government standards with a the same failed results already demonstrated or any other aspect of a growing nanny state. In a society with 40% illegitimacy rate coming apart at the seems, huge parts of the population without any defined family based religion or atheistic in nature it’s no surprise secular religions such as Gaia develop. That it is so angry and hostile is also being demonstrated in this event. I can’t believe the display on the Revkin site and board for example. Have you seen the comments under the handle at dotearth? Steven Earl Salmony? We’re talking the deepend here, then consider the number of “recommends”. I googled him by the way, here are some titles of other essays found under that name, give them a view if you have time. Not a pretty picture;

        In Copenhagen, a Reminder that We’re Fighting for Humanity

        Are Banks Responsible for Animals Caught in Foreclosures? (It gets related to Gaia principles)

        There is a lot of mocking of guns and ammo sales reaching record levels in the U.S.. Reading the Revkin site we are watching the other side of those forming militias in the wilderness waiting for the Marxist revolt to begin. As I follow this issue you realize how many are in the fringe and what they think is “normal” and that AGW at a certain level is a front line symptom of social insanity.

        Just be thankful the NY Times subscription numbers have declined 40% from peak and might be a declining fringe. I’m not so sure, it (the angry AGW mob) might emerge on other issues. As I thought often during the Bush II years these are no longer people who are going to respect being voted out of power.

        It’s a sad state of affairs. Can you imagine what you would find contact tracing “ThinkProgress” subset views? Even sadder.

    • Hilarious stuff guys.

      The glee over Gleick is a dead-giveaway that for all the ‘skeptics’ purported concern over science, what they really are interested in is ‘winning’ an argument. And this has been a great point-scorer for those so concerned. Those concerned about science continue to focus on getting closer to the truth in our understanding.

      Meanwhile, the great scientific endeavor rolls on, not the least bit perturbed by the momentary excitement in a dim recess of the intertubes.

  11. Dr. Curry perhaps you have mentioned it before, what are you teaching with respect to risk management with your classes?

    The reason I ask comes from the involvement of confidence, uncertaintity, and no regrets that are part of risk assessment and its management. It also brings into the discussion of the tell paradigm versus the ask paradigm. I think this is important along the lines that Nullius in Verba had for controversy, which is how to we teach risk perspective, or more importantly, IMO, how do we accomodate different risk perspectives in communication.

    One of the problems as studied by one of the threads you had from an expert on this subject, is that the Tell paradigm is often ineffective, yet much of our education up to and past a college degree are often this paradigm. I think understanding the role of risk perspective is essential for going from a Tell to an Ask. And as NiV pointed out, I would point it out that upon graduating, the students will be presented with or make their own risk assessments. IMO, a more reasonable approach include what has been learned from risk management and uncertaintity to better frame what constiiutes a no regrets policy, but it would also prepare or should help the students to understand different perspectives does not make that person an enemy.

  12. Seems to me the only exposure to science and math for large numbers of college students are “stars” and “rocks”. Not exactly good preparation for critical thinking, particularly when complicated technical issues are involved. However, does allow for easy emotional manipulation by professors with political agendas (which pretty much describes large swaths of academia).

  13. I’ve had some recent experience talking about climate change to high school students as a guest speaker. The curriculum doesn’t allow time for a course, and so 50 minutes was all they got to gain some perspective on the subject. In that sense, college or graduate level courses are irrelevant.
    In 50 minutes, I don’t think you can teach either controversy or consensus, but you can begin to lay out some basic principles, describe some of the evidence, and note the existence of uncertainties that are greater or lesser depending on which conclusions are involved.

    This is not “teaching the controversy”, and in my view, “teaching the controversy” as an overall approach to climate change rather than an approach to specific items is an ideological tool borrowed from the creationists and designed to create the impression that no firm conclusions with societal implications are justified. On the other hand, acknowledging that we are uncertain about the pace and magnitude of certain climate changes, and the level of their potential human impact is a necessary step in creating accurate impressions.

    To say that it’s hard to do this well in 50 minutes is an understatement, but I think it can be done reasonably under two circumstances – first, the teacher must know the subject thoroughly, and second, he or she must feel obligated to convey an accurate overall impression of what we know well, less well, and not at all. Even then, the results won’t be greeted with the same approbation on all sides, because what is one person’s objectivity is another’s spin. My own philosophy is to emulate Ricky Nelson, and conclude that You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.

    Is it possible that Heartland can contribute positively to climate science teaching? I judge it to be unlikely. I don’t think they got off to a good start, but we should all wait to see what develops.

    • Heartland has already demonstrated over the last few years that it has a commitment to honest science that is far greater than that of Algore, James Hansen, Michael Mann, Stefan Rahmstorf and Phil Jones. If their views get taught, how could it be wrong to teach Heartland’s views?

    • Fred: We are not talking about Heartland’s views, but my views. I agree that each lesson has to be one class long or less, a fascinating challenge. My plan is simply to identify those AGW and CAGW overly strong claims now being made and explain how they are in fact debatable. For example, your unsupportable claim about firm conclusions with societal implications is an obvious target. Many of your claims are a model of what I am fighting. That knowledgeable people like you and I disagree is what I plan to teach, with specifics. The green line is not hard to follow.

  14. Teaching climate science, as in teaching the establishment opinion on global warming is essentially a exercise in imparting “facts.” Teaching about a controversy, assuming that controversy is related in a fair and objective fashion, teaches kids how to think.

    Do we want a generation of factoid drones, or do we want a generation of analytic thinkers?

    Seems pretty obvious to me.,

    • pokerguy,

      It depends on what the definition of ‘we” is. Now who can we think of who would want a generation of factoid drones who accept whatever the “authority” says, and does what they are told accordingly?

  15. >sigh< Teaching the constroversy was not invented by creationists. And implying that to use the technique means one is a creationist or operates on that level is disengenuous at best.

  16. Fred writes of HI…”I don’t think they got off to a good start, but we should all wait to see what develops.”

    Fred, not sure what you mean here. IN what way have they gotten off to a poor start?

    • pokerguy – Heartland is associated with a number of individuals who are competent to understand the complexities of climate science. One can disagree with their interpretations, but not their scientific qualifications. They have apparently decided instead to award substantial grant funding for curriculum development to someone without those qualifications, based as far as i can tell on his political philosophy regarding climate change. That’s one reason I’m dubious. Nevertheless, I still think a wait and see attitude is reasonable.

      • Wojick is not Heartland’s first venture into K-12 ‘education’. Fred, here’s another reason to be dubious about Heartland’s interest in contributing anything positive.

      • pat,
        I can understand why a true beleiver would never want Jo Nova’s “The Skeptics handbook” to see the light of day.
        It might get people thinking too much.
        Nothing demonstrates the evasiveness and cosardice of true believers like suppressing books they do not agree with.

      • One thing I learnt at that JoNova link was:
        “Heartland takes a lot of flack for a non-profit group. Note that 84% of their funding come from individuals and foundations and that no donor gives more than 5% of their total budget.”

      • hunter – We all believe in free speech, nobody’s talking suppression. But we no doubt disagree on the role of the SH as a teaching tool.

      • I’ve seen the Skeptic’s Handbook. I am eagerly awaiting a point-by-point refutation of its contents. Until then …

      • John Kannarr, here you go, be sure to check the links as well:


      • wow heartland are pushing that skeptic handbook pile of dross?

      • cwon14,
        I would suggest you go to Jo Nova’s site. Perhaps you are talking about the failed attempts to shut down Dr. Nova’s book?

      • Fred, K-12 instruction is not about the advanced complexities of climate science. It is about essential principles, which I understand very well and am very good at expressing. Most importantly, my field is the logic of complex issues, where I have developed some powerful tools. That is what I bring to the table. I do not expect you or the rest of your CAGW colleagues to like my results, in fact it is inconceivable, so there is nothing to wait and see. This is a fight.

      • “This is a fight.”

        David Wojick – Did you mean that seriously or is it just metaphor for a disagreement? At this point, I might be inclined to see your use of the word “fight” as an extravagant metaphor, but I’m willing to be convinced you see it as a true battle if you can be specific.

        Which individuals or groups who engage in science education, by name do you see as ones you most hope to defeat? Can you cite specifically, with exact quotations, any assertions from these groups or individuals that you believe are scientifically unjustifiable to the point you must seriously call them into question and must do battle against these claims (again, please be specific, with exact quotations to make your point)?

        Otherwise, I suspect much of what you say will simply be considered bluster without substance, based on vague generalizations, and not relevant to anything prominent in current teaching materials. Note that if something or someone you disagree with is not part of the educational scene, using them as a foil will come across as simply a propaganda effort rather than a true conflict within education. I say that because I have some familiarity with educational content on climate change (I don’t think Al Gore teaches high school), and I’m quite curious as to why you see a need to go to war against it.

        (To others – I realize there are many opinions on this, but David Wojick is the one developing the “battle plan”, if there really is one, and so I hope specifically to get his views on the subject).

      • Pat, my oldest son took geography in grade 12. One section was on GW. He knew I was a lukewarmer, and asked if I had any links to “the other side of the debate”. I sent him to JN’s blog and her handbook. He was the only one in his class to write an opposing piece, and ended up getting an A.

        His teacher was not a skeptic.

      • DeNihilist – I’m pleased that your son got an A; I’m sure he deserved it. I suspect that he is smart enough to now go on to the professional literature and draw his own conclusions.

      • Heh Pat, he’s now taking philosophy at university and yes he’s very able to make up his own mind.

        Sorry, but my point wasn’t really about him, but about his teacher, who though is a pro AGW, had the ability to see past his own creed and mark my sons’ paper on its’ content. A real professional!

      • “A real professional!”

    • Holly,

      The skeptical guide is rubbish in any of the lauguage translations;

      2. “Nature produces 97% of all CO2 emissions and humans produces 3%. ”

      Now, you can argue that’s not a lie, but it is certainly disingenuous, as it is completely irrelevant. That 97% is just the fast carbon cycle, whereby carbon constantly moves between atmosphere, oceans, and organisms. No-one is saying that’s a problem. The 3% is what humans are adding to the total in that cycle, and once there it takes tens of thousands of years to get reabsorbed into geological formations. The more appropriate statistic is that before the industrial revolution the CO2 in the air was 280 ppm and now it’s 390 ppm, a 38% increase (despite nearly half of industrial CO2 emissions having been absorbed by the oceans).

      There is no evidence to support “fast vs. slow” carbon cycles. An essential warmist fantasy. “Human Carbon compounding”.

      Just one of the many shams found in the guide. Climate porn.

      • “The 3% is what humans are adding to the total in that cycle, and once there it takes tens of thousands of years to get reabsorbed into geological formations”

        Postulate; based on equilibrium box models. Unproven and thus an arrogant assertion.

      • Actually Cwon, nature produces 100% of all carbon emmisions.


      • Is some of that meant to be in quotes or italicized? As written, it’s incoherent.

  17. Since you had the common educational decency to allow both sides you should be commended. The real issue is that the core of the AGW advocate community working in educational areas is that they don’t think there are two sides at all. There is only their truth, the IPCC/Al Gore/Greenpeace/Sierra Club/MSM/DNC/Teachers Union/Greenspeak truth. It’s a pretty angry truth when you get down to it.

    I’ll leave it to others to discuss HS and College issues. The bug I have on the educational front is Grade and Middle school where the worst abuses are located.

    If you like I will locate and fax my 3rd graders reading assignment from a Time/Life source on “Saving the Polar Bear”. It doesn’t mention that the polar bear populations are near record modern levels having doubled in the last 50 years or that we have no adequate census in particular from the Russian sphere of influence. It doesn’t mention that we shoot 300+ (likely far more as each killing is a paperwork/government nightmare for those involve) polar bears a year. There is only one correct answer on the quiz to save the polar bear;

    Reduce co2 emmissions due to climate change impact and warming the earth.

    This is only a fraction of it. There are the mandatory views of Al Gore’s propaganda film “”An Inconvenient Truth.” to look forward to. This is only a fraction of leftist leaning issues to deal with. It isn’t even the most upsetting by a long shot. Would you like to know what 20-something “educator” thinks in a public school setting and would tell my 12 year old daughter about Catholic views on abortion and birth control considering we happen to be Catholic and teacher is not as if that should matter??

    You don’t want to know.

    The school produces very high test scores by the way up to the HS level when it goes regional and we move them to private school. Each even on any topic and the dogma that gets associated is a “teaching moment” at home. So AGW is only a tiny piece of the overall leftist dogma experience at the grade and middle school levels. Words can’t even describe what goes on in “Social Studies” or “History” topics at these levels. The Founding Fathers are described as war criminals in a genocide event as the primary context.

    AGW dogma in school is currently small change but that’s why it should be crushed at once. You give them a little rope and they will lynch their opponents in no time being the lesson of “multiculturalism” as one word that has lost all innocence in a school setting. It’s all political all the time.

    • And here we see the reality of, “All that’s necessary …”.

      In a way, my hope is generational: the tendency of youth to reject triumphantly and vociferously whatever they see as “the errors and biases” of the preceding generation. Destructive and ill-informed as that often is, it at least puts some limits on the effectiveness of the pervasive indoctrination.

  18. Judith,

    It is misleading to discuss the situation as either teaching ‘consensus’ science or ‘controversial’ science in K1-12. That dichotomous view is part of the problem, n’est ce pas?

    Better to approach it as teaching the skeptical scientific process in K1-12 with the climate science dispute as an example of what a real world example looks like wrt the skeptical scientific process. Many more K1-12 student who can critically think for themselves can be the goal.


    • John,

      Teaching the idea of a “hypothesis” with a “proof or test” leading to a “theory” has been deeply corrupted already in schools. I think we know why in the context of AGW.

      This is a society hanging on be its fingernails.

      Again, it would be off topic to consider what has happened in the humanity areas, AGW is just a front in science to promote the same agenda. If you want to weep, go review what happens in “Health Related Classes” and the value structures taught there in the name of fighting AIDS or teen pregnancy. AGW teaching at grade and middle school is pathetic but only a fraction of leftist cultural indoctrination at the moment. It should be crushed of course as related results in other topics is plain to see.

      I live in a affluent community by the way. Many of secular, pro-Evolution, pro-Warming, athiest factions are split on the levels of extremes produced. It’s that heavy handed at times. It’s what is often left out of the story when you hear the attacks on Intelligent Design supporter for example. The other side that teaching evolution is used by radical secularists and people who hate religion isn’t mentioned in the commom debate narrative. It’s not that I’m an ID supporter, I’m not but the issues get the doctored treatment and framing that is offensive. People on the ground know these issues while the media and related blog supporters for obvious reasons plays it another way.

  19. First, thanks for coming to my class and for posting, Judy. I know the students appreciated hearing your perspective.
    Just a clarification: I told you that I agree with 80-90% of your slides from your presentation yesterday. I appreciate your perspectives on the policy challenge and your emphasis on discussing uncertainties. However, I do not agree with your portrayal of the solar forcing as potentially larger than anthropogenic greenhouse forcing over the 20th and 21st centuries. You would have my students believe that there is a reasonable chance that anthropogenic climate change is not real (the first entry on your IPCC/UNFCCC Ideology slide). I would be willing to have an honest debate about the other four points to your IPCC/UNFCCC Ideology slide, but as a scientist, I find it disturbing that you actively and repeatedly call into question the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Ironically, we cannot begin to have the kind of debates that you call for (is it “dangerous”? how much can we really say about regional impacts? how much should we invest in mitigation?) until we can all agree that anthropogenic CO2 is (very likely, to borrow a problematic phrase) warming the planet.

    • While you may not believe solar forcings can be as large as anthropogenic forcings, presumably as a professional you teach that others hold different views than yours.

    • Kim,

      Surely Judith will respond but it is worth clarifying that even if solar forcing turns out to have been largely responsible for the 20th century increase, as unlikely as that may seem, does not imply that AGW is a real and growing effect (and potential problem) for the future. Very few people, even on a blog like this where most of the commenters are more skeptical than the proprietor, will disagree that ACO2 is warming the planet.

    • correction:

      even if solar forcing turns out to have been largely responsible for the 20th century increase, as unlikely as that may seem, THAT does not imply that AGW is NOT a real and growing effect (and potential problem) for the future.

    • Dr. Curry can (and hopefully will) speak for herself as to the content of her position and presentation, but I must say I find this comment lacking in…what is the word I am looking for? Class? Someone has clearly not read any of the writings of Dr. Curry on this blog, and elsewhere.

      I find it disturbing that someone would write such a dismissive, uninformed comment regarding a colleague who gave a guest lecture for her class (presumably by invitation?).

      • Hi GaryM,
        I appreciate your view, really. You cannot know that Judy and I have had numerous conversations about the science and uncertainties – and as scientists I do not think we are too far from each other’s viewpoint, in terms of stressing large uncertainties. It is truly alarming the amount of things that are poorly constrained.
        I guess I have the strong impression that my students themselves, based on the content of her presentation, will think that she questions the existence of anthropogenic climate change itself, because of her strong and blanket critique on the IPCC “ideology”, the first point of which states “anthropogenic climate change is real”. I will ask them point blank on Thursday, and will pass on their comments on her presentation to this thread.
        So it’s probably less about what she actually thinks personally, as a scientist, than as how she presents her arguments and main messages (I have said this exact thing to her many times, so she will not be surprised), and I know she will see that I mean no disrespect here.

      • Kim Cobb,

        “So it’s probably less about what she actually thinks personally, as a scientist, than as how she presents her arguments and main messages….”

        This would carry more weight if you hadn’t misrepresented her arguments and main message. I suspect you agree with Dr. Curry far more than I do, and on more than just climate science. But I do not misrepresent her positions in order to score points.

        You misinterpret the slide, using your own peculiar definition of “anthropogenic climate change” (which apparently substitutes the UNIPCC consensus as to degree of causation for “any”) so that you can then accuse her of denying its existence. A typical grade school debating tactic, often used in the climate debate. And had you posted that comment in any other context, it would have been one of hundreds of similar examples of straw man arguments and of no real consequence.

        It was your choosing to do so as a thank you for Dr. Curry’s participating in your class that I found off putting. You comment was rude and dismissive, regardless of whether Dr, Curry finds it disrespectful. (Though from her comment below, she at least sees it as inaccurate.)

    • further, Judith’s 14th slide shows an uncertainty of 0-0.8 W/m2 in the solar forcing trend from 1980 to present, corresponding to a 0 to 30% attribution of the net trend to solar forcing. How is that “call(ing) into question the existence of anthropogenic climate change?

    • Kim Cobb: Ironically, we cannot begin to have the kind of debates that you call for (is it “dangerous”? how much can we really say about regional impacts? how much should we invest in mitigation?) until we can all agree that anthropogenic CO2 is (very likely, to borrow a problematic phrase) warming the planet.

      You seem to have written that we can not debate the evidence regarding the relative strengths of the solar forcings (and roles of clouds, etc) and the Anthropogenic CO2 until after we have agreed that the anthropogenic CO2 is dominant.

    • Clearly, you have not examined the uncertainty of the claim that human CO2 emission is the primary forcing that has caused the warming that has been going on since the end of the little ice age. Yet, you offer no uncertainty in your position whatsoever and with all due respect – as an educator you err in that regard. Thus, your eloquent post only provides a direct insight into the reason why outfits like the Heartland Institute feel the pressing need to educate our young children on this uncertainty. And also you offer me yet another direct reason why my wife and I chose to educate our own children at home rather than subject them to the orthodoxy of the American classroom. PS: I am NOT a creationist and not even religious either. But I would be willing to bet that was who you imagined I was immediately after I said “home schooled” – right?

    • Kim Cobb: You would have my students believe that there is a reasonable chance that anthropogenic climate change is not real

      A thorough review of the limitations and inaccuracies in the published literature leaves that possibility open, in my opinion (or judgment, as I prefer to call it.)

      Consider for example these simulations presented at Isaac Held’s blog, and some of the cited references:http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/10/26/19-radiative-convective-equilibrium/

      It is not known how an increase in CO2 concentration will change the transport of energy from the lower troposphere to the upper troposphere. A prima facie case, based on published science, can be made that increased CO2 will increase the rate at which energy is transported from lower to upper, with a net cooling effect at lower and a net warming effect in the upper. Whether it will increase cloudiness and result in net cooling of upper and lower is also an open question, with a recent publication suggesting a net reduction in lower troposphere insolation by moving the clouds slightly lower.

      Occasionally on Dr. Curry’s blog there are discussions of technical issues like that. If an increased number of your students believe that there is a reasonable chance that anthropogenic climate change is not real, I consider that a pedagogical success for Dr. Curry.

      Credentials don’t matter much here — nevertheless: you might guess from my e-name that I am a statistician. PhD, with experience in modeling and statistical inference for non-stationary multivariate times series.

      • Credentials don’t matter here? Well, I won’t show you mine, then.

      • Credentials don’t matter, but presumption of lack of credentials is still annoying. I’m not accusing either of you.

      • Gavin is being perfectly reasonble. Even Chris Colose is being nice today, he’s much more interesting to read than when he dons his other personna and comes in all guns blazing. Nice one Chris.

      • Whenever I read Chris Colose’s comments, I can’t help thinking of the frat guy in the bar scene in Good Will Hunting.

      • Yes, it’s a nice little irony; they both speak as if they are just conversing, with out pointing out the obvious authority they carry. Credentials don’t count, it’s the content of the conversation.

        Now, we can all strut around naked.

      • tony B,
        They are only being civil today because of Gleickgate. Gavin has been through this before, with climategate v1.0, when he opened up and allowed skeptics to post for a few days.
        If some AGW promoter comes up with a nice rationalization to ‘splain away Glecikgate, I wonder how quick the snarky claws get deployed?

      • Kim Cobb

        It looks like your students captured the key “take homes” from Dr. Curry’s lecture.

        I personally think that’s what “teaching the controversy” is all about.

        Ideally it would be to give them enough information on all possibilities with a discussion of the many uncertainties that still exist and let them draw their own conclusions.

        Then check to see whether have grasped how it all hangs together, NOT whether they came up with the “orthodox” conclusion.


    • Judy,
      You probably didn’t see my response to GaryM above, about distinguishing between the substance of what you believe and how you present your beliefs. It will be interesting to poll the students Thursday to see if they, like so many of my colleagues, were also confused as to your assessments of the existence of anthropogenic climate change.
      And there is no doubt that the solar uncertainties are large, and that it is critical to resolve them going forward, but your presentation gave the distinct impression that you attribute 20th century warming to solar forcing – a conclusion that I do not scientifically agree with, based on the weight of available evidence.
      You indirectly asked what the 10-20% of my disagreements with you stemmed from, so I felt it appropriate to respond. I think it’s best to dwell on those aspects that we agree on, and respectfully agree to disagree about those elements on which we do not. I respectfully disagree with so many of my colleagues, about any number of aspects of climate science, so this is a familiar and comfortable stance for me.

      Kim, I never stated that I attributed 20th century global warming to solar. The slide clearly states that the attribution of warming from solar since 1980 is 0-30%. I look forward to hearing about what the students perspective on my presentation was. I note that none of the questions asked in the class were about science, but rather about the politics, how other fields deal with scientific uncertainties, and for clarification about no-regrets decision making strategies – JC

    • “I think it’s best to dwell on those aspects that we agree on, and respectfully agree to disagree about those elements on which we do not.”

      this blog is about ANYTHING BUT that. It is much more fruitful to talk about the disagreements in this context.

      But it would be very interesting, to see the results of the poll. If that is the students’ takeaway, it should be cause for further thought along multiple avenues.

    • It’s not the TSI alone, Kim, but it’s the sun. And the clouds.

    • I am commenting way too much today. But this is very interesting.

      Having only seen the slides (I skimmed them all) and not listened to the presentation, I do not get the impression that the students should be confused as to the existence of AGW.

      That is why it would be really interesting if you would share the poll results after Thursday, and we can discuss what they mean.

    • Kim Cobb,

      Why not formulate the questions for your student poll with Dr. Curry. The danger is conducting what will effectively be a push poll, with the phrasing of the questions predetermining the answers. I would be very interested in the results of a fair, objective poll of your students. Not at all interested in a poll based on questions formulated by an advocate seeking to prove a debating point.

      Any chance of discussing your proposed questions here in advance?

    • GaryM,
      This is a great idea and I will definitely discuss an informal poll of sorts with Judy. Perhaps there are certain questions she’d like them to answer/discuss.
      A place to start (of interest here, I believe) would be:
      “Do you think that Dr. Curry believes that anthropogenic CO2 is warming the planet?”
      Other ideas?

      • Here is a better question IMO

        What do you best characterizes Dr. Curry’s opinion on what has caused the planetary warming in the latter half of the 20th century?
        a) CO2
        b) solar variability
        c) a combination of both natural (including solar) and anthropogenic (mostly CO2) variability
        d) she seemed really uncertain, I couldn’t tell

    • Kim,

      My suggestion would be first to come to an agreed definition of “anthropogenic global warming.” A great deal of the heat in the debate comers from people talking at cross purposes, using the same terminology, but with different definitions.

    • Some possible suggestions:

      Do you think that Dr. Curry believes that human activity is contributing to an increase in global average temperature.

      Do you think that Dr. Curry believes that human activity is the primary cause of the recent increase in global average temperature.

      Do you think that Dr. Curry believes that the increase in global average temperature being cause by human activity is creating a serious risk of dangerous environmental consequences.

    • Kim Cobb
      Thanks for exposing your students to the foundational scientific issue of uncertainty.
      Re: “You would have my students believe that there is a reasonable chance that anthropogenic climate change is not real”
      You are metabolizing, thus heating your microclimate and influencing the global climate. Anthropogenic impact is “real” in essence. The issues are its magnitude and the probabilities of “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”.
      The larger issue is over the uncertainties of clouds. Nigel Fox of the UK National Physics Laboratory observes that cloud uncertainties alone are ~ Feedback Factor Uncertainty (2 sigma) 0.24 out of 0.26 total uncertainties (~93%) in IPCC’s models. From Roe & Baker 2007. See bottom right of slide 13 of 55 in his presentation:
      Accurate radiometry from space: An essential tool for climate studies Dr Nigel Fox2 5 Jan 2011
      (Video Seeking the TRUTHS about climate change)
      Note cloud radiative forcing (CRF) uncertainty in Nigel’s slide 14/55
      i.e. IF improve uncertainty 10x, then
      Testing 50% cloud feedback – need 20 years.
      Testing 100% cloud feedback – still need 12 years for proposed TRUTHS vs 40 years for MODIS.
      From Wielicki et al 2010.
      That indicates a very large uncertainty in clouds.

      Have you examined with your students the Copenhagen Consensus 2008 results of ranking the top 30 global humanitarian projects? (PS Global warming mitigation comes in dead last!)

      We have a social responsibility to first care for the poor, the widow and the orphan – NOT bury our resources in the ground, no matter how politically correct.

      (PS I find your use of ““climate change” to be a politically correct equivocation for “global warming”.)

    • Dr. Cobb,Why don’t you hire Peter Gleick to swipe Dr. Curry’s docs, fabricate a few more, and then have her shut down completely?
      On a serious note, how can you be so easily put off by tough questions? Yes, CO2 will, all things being equal, act to warm the planet. But it is clear that natural variations can overwhelm the CO2 signal to the point where it is indistinguishable from unforced climate? Or do you assert that we are even now facing unprecedented changes in weather/climate.

      • hunter,

        the point that natural variations can overwhelm the CO2 signal over shorter time scales has been made over and over and over again…..like when people jump up and down about ‘no warming in the last 10 yrs’ etc.

        Your snarky comments in response to the polite presence of people like kim and gavin suggest you have little interest in learning about science and a major one in ‘defending your side’.

      • Michael,
        If you have had a humorectomy, I am sorry.
        It was an obvious bit basedon current events.
        My question is very straightforward:
        Since there is no appreciable CO2 signal coming through, and since manifestaions of climate are not making any statistically significant changes, why not confront that instead of dismiss it?
        Dr. Cobb is someone, for instance, who is allegedly claiming that coral is suffering from AGW already. That happens to be very much an open question, and I would like to hear more on that.
        Chris Colose, our resident catcher in the rye, sort of admitted just today that AGW is basically a subjective call. I htink that has been obvious for years.
        As a skeptic I have been cursed out, been accused of being paid (me, lol), have lost business, accused of being a ‘denialist’, being a creationist, being congenitally stupid, genetically deficient, etc. etc. etc. Now for people who are attacking Judith and castigating her for even raising points they might disagree with, I am not to say anything that might be direct?
        and especially from people like you, who sought to minimize or explain away glecik? lol.

    • Kim,

      A question I would like you to answer is what do you think caused the warming from 1910 to 1940?

    • Dr. Cobb,
      With all due respect your criticism of Dr. Curry seems rather ciricular.

    • Kim Cobb,

      How about two questions, such as

      1. Has the earth warmed since the 1800s? Since you answered “yes”,
      2. Have mankind’s activities significantly contributed to that warming?

      If 97% of the students answer “yes” to both, they are climate scientists. :)

    • I am a little puzzled as to the basis of Judith’s attribution claim based on a potential 0.8 W/m2 forcing from solar since 1980, and up to 5 W//m2 forcing from ~1900. I presume she is referring to the Shapiro et al reconstruction, but accepting for the moment that this is valid, the calculation of the forcing cannot be correct. Recall that a 1 W/m2 TSI change is only 1*0.7/4 =0.175 W/m2 radiative forcing because of the albedo and geometric difference between the area on a sphere and the area of the disk.
      The data from Shapiro and the other reconstructions are available as supplemental data to Schmidt et al (2012):
      and they show a maximum of ~4 W/m2 change in the Shapiro reconstruction of TSI from ~1900 – which would be a 0.6 W/m2 radiative forcing, and I see no basis for assigning anything significant to the changes since 1980 (where Shapiro is very close to the Wang Lean and Sheehy reconstruction and, of course, the PMOD data), much less than 0.8 W/m2. Indeed depending on the issue of the 2008-2009 minimum, the solar forcing may well have been slightly negative over this time.

      Thus the attribution of up to “30%” solar forcing from 1980 cannot be supported by this argument.

      Readers interested in whether the Shapiro reconstruction is a valid approach might be interested in the above linked paper, or the discussion here:

      • Gavin, thanks for your comment. I make no personal assessment of Shapiro’s reconstruction. I cite Judith Lean and Leif Svalgaard, who are the experts. The point is that there is substantial disagreement among the solar experts. And climate scientists would do well to heed this disagreement. I just received an email today from a reviewer of the paleo chapter of the IPCC, and he was most disturbed by the way solar variability was treated in this chapter. And then in the attribution chapter (which I haven’t read, but can only surmise based upon the design of CMIP5 experiments) is that only one solar forcing data set is used (both in 20th century and 21st century simulations).

    • This is a great point by Gavin, one that I made in this comment on the previous thread (that went unanswered or uncorrected):

      This is the type of thing that needs to be understood by instructors when students are “judging for themselves.”

    • Gavin,
      Great to see you here, Isn’t it great that yo uare free to post criticisms here?
      Too bad places like RC are run by such….Ooops! sorry about that.

    • I am very confident that Lean and Svalgaard know the difference between TSI and radiative forcing. Your slide #14 incorrectly conflates the two, and the 30% attribution comes from that incorrect assumption, not from Judith Lean or other solar experts.

      If you are interested in what people are using for many of the Last millennium CMIP5 simulations, please read our papers: Schmidt et al, 2011; 2012.

      But note that most of these have not yet been thoroughly analysed, nor published (though much data is now available via PCMDI/ESG), so the FOD did not have much to work with. That will improve in the coming months.

      • Actually the 20-30% comes from Judith Lean’s slide Three Different Total. . .

        “Irradiance increase from 1986-1996 solar minimum claimed to produce 20-30% of recent global warming . . but increase in ACRIM composite could be instrumental.”

        The inference from this statement is that if ACRIM is correct, then the irradiance increase could produce 20-30% of the recent warming. From what I can tell, Judith Lean does not think that ACRIM is correct. The source of the “claim” is not referenced in her slide, and it is not clear whether the “claim” is associated with direct and/or indirect solar effects.

        Again, I am making no judgment on what is correct, but this seems to be what is being debated in the solar community. On the subject of longer term solar variations, Leif Svalgaard made the statement in his Nagoya presentation:
        • Experts cannot agree on the long-term variation of solar activity
        • Solar influence on climate on shaky ground if we don’t even know solar input

        I hope that AR5 has something sensible and defensible to say about solar impacts on climate, and acknowledges the debate and uncertainty surrounding solar impacts on climate.

    • Here is a figure showing the radiative forcing from Shaprio (SEA) and WLS (Lean et al) and PMOD since 1880:


    • Hunter, But this is not RC.
      Gavin is using a conciliatory tone and has not come in here all guns ablaze, so let’s give credit where it’s due.

    • It’s not the TSI alone, Gavin, but it’s the sun. And the clouds.

    • Kim Cobb,

      There seems to be a contradiction in what you say.

      You seem eager to move forward to a discussion about the societal response to climate change. While at the same time you are prepared to acknowledge it’s truly alarming the amount of things that are poorly constrained.

      The uncertainties must be trivial if they shouldn’t hold back discussion of huge societal changes or large uncertainties should be resolved before we move forward. A rush for change while large uncertainties exist seem rash.

      How do you resolve these?

    • Judging from this exchange, it seems there is a thin line between teaching uncertainty and teaching doubt, and maybe judging from Kim Cobb’s reaction here, Judith crossed the line into doubt, while on this blog being an advocate for just uncertainty.
      Do the error bars extend beyond the IPCC range on both sides, or do they hardly overlap the IPCC range? This is the difference between uncertainty and doubt.

      • Jim D
        What a marvelous idea – testing IPCC vs subsequent data!
        For the last decade, nature does not appear to be cooperative with global alarmism advocacy. See Lucia’s
        GISTemp Anomaly: January lower than December.

        If we use “red noise” to model the residuals from a linear fit, and test the hypothesis that the true trend is 0.2C/decade we would reject the a trend of 0.2C/decade as false based on falling outside the 2-σ confidence intervals.

        It appears global models do not account for decadal temperature trends.

        Even a 30 year trend shows only 0.14C/decade. Does the IPCC’s 90% confidence provide any criteria for distinguishing if models ever “fail”?

        If we are allowed to objectively evaluate the “difference between uncertainty and doubt”, I vote for doubt and GSM model validity.
        Or have we entered a post scientific era?

      • Some people watch every sub-decadal wiggle in global temperature records that they don’t trust anyway and extrapolate those into the future. I hope you are not one of those. It doesn’t seem to relate to the point I made unless you think Judith’s position has also changed based on these short-term natural variations alone. Most skeptics used to accept natural variations when they had a positive sign. Doesn’t the long solar minimum affect things like this. Again, skeptics used to like the idea that the sun explains everything, but not now. Selectivity like this is a sign of a deeper bias, not real skepticism.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Jim – you are as thick as 2 short planks – I have tried to explain this.

        Here is the ocean heat content – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view&current=vonSchuckmann-OHC.gif

        You can see it warmed right?

        Here is the SORCE TSI – http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/total_solar_irradiance_plots/images/tim_level3_tsi_24hour_640x480.png

        You can see it cooled in the same period right? What is wrong with this picture? Nothing – it just shows that greenhouse gases are working more than twice as well as anticipated. Yeah right.

        Here is the CERES data – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view&current=CERES-BAMS-2008-with-trend-lines1.gif

        You can see what in the period? I’ll give you a clue – it all happened in the SW. There is no doubt at all – it is one of the greatest stuff ups in human history.


      • CH, presumably you have looked at the BEST land temperature too, or would you prefer not to talk about that? These are actual thermometers where people live.

      • Science – The Doubt Factory

      • Chief Hydrologist

        You mean this one Jim – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view&current=Best.gif

        Help me out here – what point is it you are struggling to make? You go from ‘sceptics’ either ignoring the sun or not ignoring it as the case might be. So I explain to you using ARGO data that the world actually did warm in the period despite the decrease in TSI – which I linked to from SORCE. The most accurate instrument yet deployed. Then I walked you through CERES – clouds and Earth’s radiant energy system and showed you how as it was clouds wot dun it.

        And you refer me to a temperature plot showing pretty much wot nearly everyone was thunkin’ already and suggest I don’t want to talk about it?

        Jim – I wan’t you to tell me what this is really about – and I wan’t you to be honest. Don’t hold back – tell me what’s really on your mind.

      • CH, yes, BEST is shown here
        You say this is clouds. Interesting theory. Could the clouds just be responding to the CO2 increase or are you thinking they have a spontaneous way of globally organizing even without the skeptic’s favored GCR effect acting in the same direction (as it isn’t)?

      • Edim, my post referred to doubt. If you want to define doubt in your way, you are taking AGW as the null hypothesis. I don’t want to get into that debate, but I think many here disagree with that idea.

      • Jim D

        Regarding clouds, another Judy (Collins) sang “I really don’t know clouds at all” – and this could well have been the theme song for climate science today.

        The Chief has given you some thoughts on the impact of changes in SW reaching the surface due to clouds when he wrote: “I’ll give you a clue – it all happened in the SW” (and he most likely knows much more about this subject than you or I do)

        You certainly must know that it is estimated that the reflection of incoming SW radiation represents around -79 W/m^2 in the so-called “global energy balance”. A 5% change in reflected incoming SW radiation (-4.0 W/m^2) would have a slightly greater impact than a doubling of atmospheric CO2 (+3.7 W/m^2).

        IPCC concedes in AR4, “cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty” but, based on model simulations, concludes nevertheless that the net feedback from all clouds is strongly positive.

        Spencer + Braswell have shown us subsequently, based on CERES satellite observations that, over the tropics, the net overall feedback from all clouds is strongly negative with warming.

        S+B conclude that this is because the added reflection of incoming SW radiation from lower altitude clouds with warming is greater than the added absorption of outgoing LW radiation from high altitude clouds (IPCC models had previously estimated just the opposite net effect).

        We do not know from this study whether or not this net negative feedback also occurs over regions outside the tropics (which only cover around 40% of Earth’s surface, but account for most of the incoming solar warming), nor do we know whether or not this negative feedback will operate over multi-decadal and longer time periods.

        So is this simply a negative feedback or a separate forcing?

        We know from ISCCP observations (Pallé et al.) that the global monthly mean cloud cover decreased by around 4.5% between 1985 and 2000. As a result the Earth’s global albedo decreased by the equivalent of around –5 W/m^2, i.e. decrease of reflected SW radiation (= heating of our planet). Over the period after 2000 the cloud cover recovered by around 2.5%, with an increase in reflected SW radiation of around +3 W/m^2 (= cooling).

        Interestingly, these periods coincide well with a period of rapid global atmospheric warming followed by a period of no warming, as measured both at the surface and in the troposphere.

        Spencer has since written a paper showing a correlation between cloud cover and the PDO, and the Chief has written here on apparent correlation with ENSO. This work would indicate that clouds do not only act as a feedback (to warming from human GHGs, for example) but represent an independent forcing factor in themselves, possibly driven by ocean current oscillations or whatever has caused these oscillations.

        And then there is the observed long-term correlation between global temperature and solar activity/cosmic rays reported by Henrik Svensmark et al. This has led to the CLOUD experiment work at CERN, which has recently reported an experimentally observed link between cosmic rays and cloud nucleation in a controlled experiment, but more work is still required know to what extent this will play out in our atmosphere, IOW to validate this mechanism experimentally.

        So I’d say it’s an exciting time.

        We may soon know more about clouds than we do today.

        But to me it appears likely that there is a connection between clouds and cyclical ocean currents as well as the sun – but we still do not know for sure how this works.

        It seems less likely to me that clouds only act as a positive feedback to GHG warming, as was assumed by IPCC.


      • Clouds can’t be a long-term forcing as they have no memory of their previous state. They are therefore a response to forcing or to natural variation (such as from the ocean). If low-cloud cover is decreasing during a time of warming, it could easily be seen as a positive feedback whether the forcing is from AGW or the oceans. Spencer has hinted that ENSO may be caused by clouds, but few would agree, and I believe he himself has been trying to “clarify” that perceived position.

      • Jim D

        You appear to be quite certain that Spencer is wrong in suggesting that clouds may be an independent forcing or driven by ocean current oscillations or whatever drives these oscillations, but your argument is weak.

        I would respectfully submit to you that you (like Judy Collins back in the late 1960s) “really don’t know clouds at all”.

        Listen to the Chief – he’s trying to give you some valuable information.


      • To be in doubt means to lack confidence, to consider unlikely or to be uncertain. Doubt = uncertainty.

        The first key to wisdom is assiduous and frequent questioning … For by doubting we come to inquiry, and by inquiry we arrive at truth.
        – Perter Abelard, Yes and No, c. 1120.

        Doubt is one of the sharpest tools in the shed of science.

      • Air flows through clouds. They are the result of the air flow which has caused them and are not permanently made up of the same air but persist in an illusory sense. As such, they are not a forcing of any kind, but a response to what the atmosphere is doing that may or may not feed back to it.

      • Edim, semantics, yes. If someone says they doubt AGW it is a lot different from saying they are uncertain about it. Doubt carries a negative connotation in normal language and implies almost certain of the opposite. Uncertain means not certain which means you allow for the possibility but remain to be convinced.

    • Judy – The ACRIM composite values have been questioned as an overestimate in part because of the 1989-1991 “ACRIM gap” without measurements between the instrumentation changes, and I’m assuming that is what Judith Lean is referring to. However, even if they are assumed correct (which Lean doubts, as you mention), the observed warming after 1986 is only about half the warming since 1950, and so a 20-30% solar contribution would add only a 10-15% contribution for the entire warming interval. Most estimates are lower

      • Fred, I am not trying to identify the “right” answer from our available knowledge, I think there is too much that we don’t know to sensibly do this. The point I am trying to make is that there is disagreement, and provide a range. In normal science this would be a sensible thing to do; in “consensus” science, there is a need to overplay certainty for papers that support the consensus.

    • Judith, long ago I used to sign my comments by repeating my belief that GHGs warm the planet. I had to because in the heat of argument some people will naturally assume that if I oppose them on topic X ( Mann was wrong) that I naturally opposed them on everything.

      So, if you say climategate was wrong some shallow thinkers will assume that you dont believe in GHGs. They will assume you are a creationist, etc etc.

    • Your slide #14 is still wrong – there is no way there was a radiative forcing of 5 W/m2 from 1900 or 0.8 W/m2 from 1980.

      If you were referring to Lean’s statement rather than your own Energy Balance accounting, then you should probably know where that comes from. It is a vague reference to one of Scafetta and West’s papers which have been heavily criticised (in papers by Lean and others (including me)) – basically because their methods are not robust to non-solar effects (including volcanoes and GHG forcing). Even Scafetta seems to have given up this line of argument in favour of astrology.

      Oh, and the ACRIM composite is very likely not correct in any case (see Krivova et al, 2009: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009GL040707.shtml ).

      As for the longer term, no one is claiming that it is well known. But no-one (else) is claiming that it is 6 times larger than even Shapiro et al state. Instead people are exploring the full range of reconstructions in running the models, and in doing the data analysis.

      • Gavin, my slide is not intended to be a climate model, it is intended to provide some context for the magnitudes.

        The issue of who is right and wrong in the solar debate is pointless at this stage of the debate, there is too much uncertainty about the measurements and more importantly about solar indirect effects.

    • The existence of uncertainty is not a license to get things that are simple wrong by an order of magnitude.

      And as for indirect effects, you should have come to my AGU talk.

    • Judith,

      But it doesn’t provide any context for magnitudes because the two numbers aren’t even talking about the same thing! Just because two numbers have the same units does not mean they can be applied in a similar context. I pointed this out in a previous thread, and Gavin showed you how to make a back-of-envelope calculation to convert from TSI to forcing. Now you are moving the goalposts again to the uncertainty monster being too large. That is not a compelling way to justify teaching things wrong.

      This is precisely why, in my original statements about education, I mentioned that uncertainties needs to be placed in a proper context and that the instructor needs to be responsible in guiding students into a reasonable realm of just how far they “judge for themselves.” This does not extend to just making things up. If the student naively compares “5 W/m2” to “1.6 W/m2” they might think that the solar changes can overwhelm the CO2 changes in the 20th century, and even that there is a good probability of net negative forcing (which would even contradict the max 30% attribution, which itself is not credible).

      • Well, if I had 3-4 lectures (rather than 3-4 minutes on this whole solar argument), I could have educated the students in some detail on all this. The point I wanted to make for this class was to give a simple argument to show that there are scientific uncertainties. I chose solar since I thought that was the simplest argument to make (personally i think the natural internal variability is a bigger issue), and I wanted to convey disagreement among scientists and that role of the sun in climate change is uncertain. I think that message came across. Looking in detail at the inferences that might be drawn from my slide 14 (which i doubt anyone in the class was doing; they did not know about energy balance climate models and had not seen the 1.7 or 3.7 W m-2 numbers before), yes incorrect and unintended inferences could have been drawn from that.

    • If Gavin can be civil here, perhaps he can practice the same at his place.
      It is long past time for the promoters to stop simply shouting down or censoring the skeptics.
      Dr. Schmidt, how about it? Are you ready to let RC be a real forum?

    • Gavin
      Speaking of orders of magnitude attribution on temperature versus solar, I would welcome your perspective on:

      Stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) from tree-rings, in areas of low moisture stress, are likely to be primarily controlled by photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and therefore should provide a proxy record for cloud cover or sunshine; indeed this association has previously been demonstrated experimentally for Scots pine in Fennoscandia, with sunlight explaining ca 90% of the variance in photosynthesis and temperature only ca 4%.

      Changes in atmospheric circulation and the Arctic Oscillation preserved within a millennial length reconstruction of summer cloud cover from northern Fennoscandia Giles H. F. Young, Danny McCarroll, Neil J. Loader, Mary H. Gagen, Andreas J. Kirchhefer and Joanne C. Demmler, Climate Dynamics DOI: 10.1007/s00382-011-1246-3

    • Gavin
      Re: “Scafetta seems to have given up this line of argument in favour of astrology.”
      Please lay off your abusive ad hominem attacks, and rise to the level of a scientist.
      Please address the physics involved. (I presume you have had enough physics and math to understand Newton’s law of gravitation and viscous damping.)
      E.g., Please provide some rational and hopefully constructive comments on Ed Fix’s model of solar cycles based on a damped solar motion around the barycenter due to the gravitational forces imparted by the Jovian planets.
      Ed Fix, The Relationship of Sunspot Cycles to Gravitational Stresses on the Sun: Results of a Proof-of-concept Simulation. Ch 14. pp 335-353 of Evidence-Based Climate Science, 2011 Don Easterbrook Ed. Elsevier, 416 pages ISBN 978-0-12-385956-3
      How would you prove/disprove it?

      Do you know of any better model / prediction of solar cycles?

    • OMG, once again Saint Judith is accused of straying. Nothing could be fuather from the truth. Saint Judith’s writings, including her blog comments, are entirely within the assumptions of mainstream climate science. One cannot actually read her an conclude that she has strayed. She has authored “The Uncertainty Monster” but it was given birth and has grown entirely within the fold.

    • What a pathetic response.

      It is of the essence to know if there is any rigourously plausible and persuasive case to be made for significant (and very destructive) AGW before getting into mitigation discussions. It’s a question of scale; global mitigations are humungously costly and disruptive, and should be undertaken only with the very strongest of justifications. The real “Precautionary Principle” mitigates strongly against committing to a virtual certainty of vast economic disruption for anything less

    • All this picking at the accuracy of the extent of a hypothetical range of values seems quite bizarre. If the primary picker wasn’t such a notorious promoter of open debate then one might hypothesize that he conspired with the disturbed professor to denigrate Judith Curry’s presentation and hijack the discussion.

    • Dear all,
      As promised, I polled my students about their reactions to Judy’s lecture on Tuesday.
      Before uttering a single word, I put up the following question (answers by a show of hands reported in parentheses:

      What do you think best characterizes Dr. Curry’s opinion on what has
      caused the majority of planetary warming in the late 20th century?
      a) CO2 (0)
      b) solar variability (1-2)
      c) a combination of solar and CO2 forcing (5-7)
      d) she seemed really uncertain, I couldn’t tell (10+)

      And my next question, presented on the following slide so as not to bias the answers to question #1:

      Do you think that Dr. Curry believes that CO2 is warming the planet?
      a) yes (1-2)
      b) no (1-2)
      c) the uncertainties are too large to answer yes or no (15+)

      So we talked about the exchanges here on her blog, including the error in her solar forcing magnitudes pointed out by Gavin, and as I feared, the students were very shaken by the idea that solar forcing could be larger than CO2 forcing over the 20th and 21st century. They were eager to discuss the implications of the corrected solar forcing numbers, even while they appreciated that there are still large uncertainties in the magnitude of solar forcing. This led to a long, wonderfully rich, and in-depth discussion that I wish I could have taped and posted here. They wanted to know about cloud direct and indirect effects (which is arguably the largest uncertainty in terms of radiative forcing), they wanted to know about how climate “science” got to be this way, they asked me about my personal ideology and how it impacts my actions in the broader climate science arena (a tough one, admittedly), etc etc. Tough questions, smart questions, and such important questions from students who care deeply about the answers. They reinforced my belief that the way forward is through accurate depictions of climate science, its greatest accomplishments and its warts, along with full disclosure as to ones personal views and biases, so that they can judge the entire package appropriately.

      • Kim, this is interesting. I am glad the class is continuing to discuss uncertainties in climate science. i do take issue with the oversimplification of the solar effect on climate into the planetary averaged ‘solar forcing’ (as per Gavin’s argument). If you look at the arctic during summer, you get a much larger ratio for TOA to surface forcing. And there are solar indirect effects that are not accounted for. So is it possible that natural variability has dominated AGW in the latter half of the 20th century? Yes. Is it possible that natural variability will dominate in the first half of the 20th century? yes. I tried to introduce the students to some of these controversies, which I would have hoped they would have been aware of. Dismissing natural variability as a contribution to climate change based upon a simple introductory example used in the class (which I alotted about 3 minutes of time to), which was not intended to be an energy balance climate model, is not a useful message to the students IMO. I’m glad that you mentioned cloud forcing and feedback, but climate is way more complex than a 0D or 1D energy balance model. So I hope that you will point the way to the students to explore these issues and uncertainties on their own, since there doesn’t seem to be much time alotted in the class.

        I would be happy to answer any questions the students have of me, either via email or in a meeting.

    • 1-2 hands? 5-7 hands? Does this mean that some students were showing their hand cyclically or that some appendages could not be positively identified?

    • “…as I feared, the students were very shaken by the idea that solar forcing could be larger than CO2 forcing…”

      This is very disturbing. Were the poor things offered counseling?

    • (I was going to ask if this class touched at all on the effects of land use changes, but I don’t want to be responsible for any more shaking of students.)

    • This is a great example of everything that is wrong with the ‘teach the controversy’ position.

      Even with a college audience, they were unable to pick up on the solar error and where left with a mistaken impression about the role of CO2 in climate change.

      While the goal is laudable, it’s a mistake to think that ‘critical thinking’ is a replacement for knowledge asquisition. They need to develop together, but at certain stages of learning, acquisition takes priority.

      Presenting a TTC approach to climate at high school level would be as nutty as a TTC approach to physics or biology.

      You have to learn to walk before you can run.

    • Judith Curry

      The bottom line is that the students are thinking critically about this issue, which is a desired outcome.


      The goal is NOT to indoctrinate the students with the orthodox “consensus” view (i.e. brainwash them) but do exactly as you wrote: get them to think critically (and, in the process, move towards becoming “scientists”).


  20. Harold H Doiron, PhD

    A big help for the classroom would be a simple experiment that the students could perform in a laboratory that would demonstrate accurately and faithfully to the Physics of the “CO2 caused global warming greenhouse effect” the result of doubling the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    • Harold – Lab experiments demonstrating the IR absorbing and warming properties of CO2 have been developed for high school classrooms, but in terms of demonstrating the atmospheric greenhouse effect, it’s difficult to find a classroom equipped to build an air-containing column 15 kilometers high.

      • oh you don’t have to. you just need a meter or so. heat to 45C and saturate with water vaper. CO2? what control knob?

    • Photonic recycling by CO2 in the gas phase has never been unambiguously demonstrated. Moreover, the ability of CO2 to act as a classical ‘green house gas’ has never been used in any device. So the space between the two glass panels in a double glazing unit is filled with Argon, Xenon or Krypton or evacuated. CO2 has slightly better thermal conductivity properties than Argon, is cheaper than Argon, but is not used by the double/triple glazing industry.

      • dude, that’s because in that application its GHG properties are a drawback. think stratosphere.

    • Dr. Doiron: “CO2 caused global warming greenhouse effect” Necessary, but not sufficient. And too easy to extrapolate.
      Much of the controversy lies in feedback(s), which I understand to rest upon hindcasts and concensus. Other issues include integrity of data, uncertainty and incomplete models.

  21. If advocacy groups are to be allowed to teach in K-12, I suspect Greenpeace would jump on board, and they have the potential to put up some interesting modules about future climate calamities, flooding, extinctions, etc. You have to accept this as a possibility, and then this Heartland module would look relatively dull, even if it focused on academics behaving badly as its best attention grabber.

    • Jim D –

      The advocacy groups are already there. As an example, check out the WWF’s ‘Schools for a Living Planet”.


      I don’t know if this has this already made it into any classrooms in Canada, but given the range of opinions of the teachers I’ve dealt with, I certainly would expect that in some places it is being taken as gospel truth.

    • Take a look at the “science” curriculum across America today and the sections on pollution, urban development, endangered species and global warming are all right in there already. Teachers guides recommend emphasizing the calamity of human influence over the Earth. No debate is ever acknowledged. The children a fine little lemmings that are being indoctrinated before they even have any critical thinking ability. Their parents are absent in the process or are apathetic about it.

    • So, what will the Heartland-sponsored message be in the face of this? Can they make an impression at all with just some words about doubt and their perceptions of deceit? Do they even acknowledge that major climate change could be correct? I expect they would have preferred this course to be anonymously sponsored, but given this leak, it may have ended its viability as concerned parents could object to such obvious and paid-for advocacy.

      • Jim D,

        At least half the parents would be clamoring for science teachers to leave behind CAGW dogma. If there had been something like what David Wojick proposes in my kids’ classes, I would have had to spend a lot less time on re-education.

  22. Judith
    I read the presentation “Climate Change & Energy Policy: The Controversy” and noted that you have not included comments or slides on one of the largest areas of controversy – the reliability of the GCMs in forecasting future conditions/harms. Please comment on why this key issue was not addressed.

  23. Judith –

    I was quite surprised that your approach with college students is to present a dichotomy – two sides to the debate, and see how the students react to the extremes. If they come down somewhere in the middle I guess it has a reasonable outcome, but does the subject have to be polarised right from the start (just because that is how it appears in the public domain)?

    Perhaps I’m being idealistic, but it would be nice to think of students coming to the subject and seeing it fresh – without the jaundiced spin from two extreme perspectives.

    I don’t know – I think if it was me, I’d have pretty much automatically rejected both views, which might have been a healthy thing to do..

    • Anteros – if the IPCC perspective is what you consider one of the 2 extremes, and it is the “orthodox” view, then how the hell do you teach it “fresh?” Seems like it’s either teach the orthodoxy or teach the controversy. Sure you could cherry pick all the lukewarmer scientific papers but what good would that be?

      • billc –

        Fair point.

        I suppose from my point of view the IPCC is a political body. You can could teach climate science without even mentioning it. You don’t need to say “these are the extremities” [although I accept that the IPCC isn’t the extreme]. I know Judith mentioned the consensus, but of course in the public arena, those using the authority of the IPCC are leveraging for something often much more extreme.

        Consider how Gavin Schmidt bemoans Peter Gleick’s demise of reputation because –

        his voice as an advocate of science, once powerful, has now been diminished

        Now consider the mission statement for Peter Gleick’s institute –

        Our organization remains focused on our mission of creating a healthier planet via wealth reduction and redistribution, global environmental regulation, and drastically reduced economic activity. Only these can lighten the terrible and immoral burden humanity places on Earth’s ecosystems. We will continue to pursue our mission by any and all means possible, because that is the only morally defensible path. The planet is depending on us, and nothing else matters.

        I think there is a controversy in the climate debate even though [and perhaps because.] there is an orthodoxy. Teaching climate science and teaching the orthodoxy are two slightly different things.

      • OK – I confess. Gleick’s stuff was faked :)

      • Anteros, your fake fooled me – I thought it was completely credible.


      • nice plagiarism Anteros ;). SteveF will be along to collect his quatloo royalties + damages.

        “of course in the public arena, those using the authority of the IPCC are leveraging for something often much more extreme” – nice quote, I’ll have to use it, I often agree.

        however, teaching climate science you are still going to run into the polarization, and very fast, if you elect to teach anything but “orthodoxy”. It’s a bimodal distribution (I heard that somewhere). I guess the intro lecture on the first day would not have to mention the word “controversy” :).

        Consider David Archer’s Climate Change 101 course.

      • I should have ‘fessed up that I pretty much fell for the Gleick-fake. Perhaps should be instructive..

        Billc – it is indeed a bimodal distibution. It’s like my answer to Mike Hulme’s question ‘Why we disagree about climate change?” – “because we’re dichotomous creatures!”

      • I’m amused, a, at how quaintly we were trying to make sense of the memo; I don’t think I entertained the thought of a fake until moshe started rustling around in the underbrush.

  24. My wife’s taught in elementary school and worked in administration and we’ve raised 3 kids to adulthood with the traditional complement of wailing and gnashing of teeth…oh…and joy. Here’s some indirect insight: The big job in the first month/6 wees of any school year in Kindergarten is teaching the kids how lines/queues work and getting to and from lunch, recess, start of school, end of school, etc. A lot of them have been exposed to the concept of lines in pre-school but it is in part a developmental skill (some people get it sooner, some later). Therefore it’s a major part of the early weeks’ class time budget. In general, I’d venture that the response to Climate Change, Controversy or like would be met with generous amounts of leg kicking, nodding off and perhaps nose picking. They do really like tactile math toys though. Climate education at any level here would either be indoctrination akin to “Mr. Fireman and Mr. Policeman are nice. Strangers are not nice.” Otherwise, it’s pointless…Which of course, given educational fashionistas does not preclude inclusion in curriculum.

    Middle school: All our children did science projects in middle school. We facilitated some but we did not do the projects for our kids. At this level, they’re definitely ready for CO2 experiments, or at least their parents are. CO2 is fun for kids to work with because in short, it’s cheap, abundant and as a product of some compound reactions can make things ooze or even explode (never underestimate the value of safety glasses at a science fair). I’ve judged a few of these and some are quite good. (I was always VERY partial to the ones actually done by the students. Still, there was a volcano that I suspect the child had little or nothing to do with that was pretty awesome.)

    High school: Some exploration, departure from mom & dad, etc. happens here. Scientific controversies of all types are fair game. However, these should rightly come (gratuitous personal parental opinion happening now) as the result of the child being introduced to how things work rather than of focused curriculum. As my child is welcomed into adulthood, I hope they form their opinions based on facts they understand AND have sufficient humility and critical skills to identify things they don’t understand. This will be difficult for them if the discussions have been at a high level. This in turn, encourages them to accept arguments from authority in lieu of thinking critically about fact based debate. And with still more personal opinion, I believe that is a core problem in Climate Science politics and really with discussion of many societal issues.

  25. Absolutely teach the controversy. The history of science is full of controversies, and its what makes it fascinating. Also, it allows for people to understand how real science works – by different scientists offering competing theories and passionately disagreeing with each other.

    I note the ridiculous comment of Kim Cobb. What a bunch of anti-scientific authoritarian non-sense!

    You would have my students believe that there is a reasonable chance that anthropogenic climate change is not real

    Sorry kiddo, there is a reasonable chance whether you like it or not. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests negative feedbacks and much more important solar forcings than CO2 forcings. But go ahead, keep your poor students in the dark, well insulated from facts in your greepeace bubble and call it science. (Puke)

    I also note this gem:
    Ironically, we cannot begin to have the kind of debates that you call for (is it “dangerous”? how much can we really say about regional impacts?
    how much should we invest in mitigation?) until we can all agree that anthropogenic CO2 is (very likely, to borrow a problematic phrase) warming the planet.

    So in other words, we cant debate until you agree with my position? Wow, that’s going to be a fun debate. You must be very confident of your position if that is how you set the terms for debate. (more puke)

    • calling a university professor “kiddo” is demeaning.

      • Uh, yeah, but why should a professor be immune to ridicule or criticism in response to their (IMO) arrogant display of hubris and intolerance?

      • Mark and alfa,

        The professor should not be immune. In this case I think she was wrong and I said as much upthread. Although I don’t like name-calling generally, there’s a certain additional negative implication to a term like “kiddo” in this context.

      • Well, ‘kiddo’ can be more companionable than diminuating. Let me consult Joshua for some critical thinking into the matter, and settle it with moshe’s textual analysis.

      • Well, it seems pretty matey until the sound of distant chunder.

      • no – just a nice reminder that maybe Pop has more intellectual and possibly real firepower than she does.

        A lot of teachers abuse their power in the classroom so need reminding who is boss.

      • Kim:

        I put “kiddo” at about 6.3 on the tribalism scale.

        /Josh (fake but accurate)

    • In fact, the evidence strongly suggests negative feedbacks and much more important solar forcings than CO2 forcings.

      What evidence?

      • The ERBE satellite readings (Lindzen and Choi), the very strong correlation between GCR and climate on pretty much all time scales, the 800 year lag between temp and CO2 in ice core data, the absence of a tropospheric hotspot, the plateaued temps of the last 15 years, …

    • and pretending the “science is settled” is insulting. and wanting to regulate the lives of everybody on the planet based on faulty science is criminal and authoritarian. refusing to debate the faulty science which is the basis for your desire to regulate the lives of everybody is dishonest.

  26. “but does the subject have to be polarised right from the start (just because that is how it appears in the public domain)?”

    Yes, it does. It’s the imagined “consensus” that tries to copywrite the words “science” and “anti-science” that made it so. It’s agw advocates and weak (corrupted) science leadership in the field that created this culture, learn to live with it.

  27. The level of background science needed to understand climate science is very high, a bar not reached by many adult blog commenters or even some climate scientists. What is the point of teaching K-12 students except indoctrination? At best, they will “understand” as politicians do, very shallowly, taking much more as settled than warranted.

    • “The level of background science needed to understand climate science is very high, a bar not reached by many adult blog commenters or even some climate scientists”

      How unlike oncology, particle physics and software engineering. So of all the science Climate science is among the most complex and so we should leave it to the handful of investigators who ‘really’ understand it to pontificate on high; unquestioned and regal in their learning.

      • Markus Fitzhenry

        ‘You are effectively saying that the atmosphere or the Earth system is flawed as it doesn’t follow a simple theory.’

        What? I’m not saying that at all.

        What I am saying is Co2 cools not warms. The Oceans warm the atmosphere, they are 2C warmer. Hot goes to cold in reality. Complex it is not. Hansen made it complex for you.

        His convective lapse rate is wacky and fudged. Have a critical look at it Pekka. He guessed the lapse rate so it complied with surface temp of 275.5K

        The climate system is not complex unless the theory makes it so. Your argument is fundamentally wrong and without value.

      • Markus Fitzhenry

        287.5 K

    • So what, exactly, is it about ‘climate science’ that makes it super difficult? The maths doesn’t seem especially hard, the basic concepts aren’t difficult, there are no experimental skills required. So compared with ‘hard science’ like , for example physics or chemistry, it seems pretty straightforward.

      A bit of computer programming and a facility to write ‘consistent with the IPCC predictions’ on a regular basis seem to be the only skills needed beyond A level science.

      Please explain why you believe differently

      • One answer would be that ‘climate science’ involves so many different sciences. Maths, Statistics, Computing, Physics, Chemistry, for the fundamentals, extending to Biology and Economics and Politics when you get into the implications. So it’s impossible for anyone to be an expert in all aspects of the subject.

      • Additional points:

        – it’s not possible to make full scale experiments
        – there’s a huge amount of data on atmosphere and the Earth system more generally, but the data provides largely more indirect than direct knowledge about longer term phenomena, i.e. climate.
        – the atmosphere as well as the rest of the Earth system is very complex. Comparisons with theory have shown good agreement on many details but many gaps remain.

        From these points the first is an argument against the reliability of climate science, the second and third contain arguments to both directions.

        Climate science is, indeed, complex and judging its validity is also complex. It’s not surprising that the honest judgments vary even among people who have spent a lot of effort in being able to make personal judgments and who have a strong background to start. I have little doubt on where the balance is for the basics of climate science and AGW, but at the same time I don’t believe that the balance of well justified personal judgments is nearly the same on the stronger claims that are used to justify some policy initiatives.

      • Markus Fitzhenry

        Pekka you say,
        the atmosphere as well as the rest of the Earth system is very complex. Comparisons with theory have shown good agreement on many details but many gaps remain.’

        Good theory without controversy doesn’t have gaps, good theory is easily understood. Haven’t you every wondered why the science was so difficult with climate? Do you think the difficulty might be that the theory is invalid? Have you ever critically thought about the inability of GCM’s to predict?

        The theory is flawed.

      • You are effectively saying that the atmosphere or the Earth system is flawed as it doesn’t follow a simple theory.

        If the reality is complex the good theory is also complex. That may be unfortunate, but it’s still true.

        Many of the most successful theories of physics are also complex and difficult. Very few people can follow the calculations of quantum electrodynamics that lead to the most accurately tested results of physics.

        Your argument is fundamentally wrong and without value.

      • Incredible. Is this comment tongue in cheek? All the Real Climate scientist needs is the ability to fake data, to snow others with high sounding but wrong arguments, and be an mean bully. Is that what you are saying?

        This field went from being a Grand Challenge to being so easy a cave man could do it amazingly quickly.

  28. What is the controversy that should be taught? Before any controversy concerning the climate science proper can be taught, the students should understand quite a lot of background material. Telling that there are people who have differing views doesn’t tell anything about the climate science, it may tell more about the society.

    I do certainly dislike scary stories about a catastrophe that’s looming because of the warming, but it’s not any better to claim that the whole influence of CO2 is not true. If there’s something to discuss it is the fact that people do evaluate uncertainties differently and that they react to incomplete scientific knowledge differently. There’s real controversy on the right reaction and on the severity of the issue, while there is no legitimate controversy on the basic phenomenon.

    At high enough level it might be very good to discuss, how science does and should contribute to the decision making process. To what extent that fits into K-12 is less obvious.

    • The controversy that needs to be taught relates to feedbacks. The basic phenomenon of CO2 absorbing infrared is not controversial. Problem is, that’s not what the IPCC position relies on, as this effect is too weak to create a catastrophe. For the catastrophe they need to invoke hypothetical positive feedbacks for which there is no evidence.

    • The controversy in a general sense is that science is a process, and when we are talking about a topic like the environment or public health, there is a great deal of complexity and uncertainty and ignorance, and that these topics are debated within the scientific community and by the public. Teaching students that all science is like pV=nRT is not teaching them to cope with the complexity and controversies on topics that have actual social relevance.

      • The climate issue is perhaps not a good subject for teaching understanding of science and scientific knowledge. That can be taught better selecting a subject, where the controversy is more purely scientific. One might discuss e.g. cosmology, which is interesting and involves many uncertainties, but is not directly important for decision making. In contrast the climate science is a perfect example of difficulties in using incomplete scientific knowledge in decision making.

        Separating the two sources of controversy would make the issue more understandable for the students – and would better avoid part of the problems created by teachers who have their own strong political (or ecological) views.

      • I agree that for K-12 this topic probably shouldn’t be taught; it may be possible to do this well, but the chances seem small of systematic implementation of something that doesn’t do more harm than good. If you look at my presentation for Kim Cobb’s class, the emphasis is on exactly the decision making piece, focused on decision making under deep uncertainty

      • Pekka, dark energy is a progressive conspiracy. Why do you think it’s called “dark”?

      • “Teaching students that all science is like pV=nRT is not teaching them to cope with the complexity and controversies on topics that have actual social relevance.”

        Teaching students, especially young students, that climate science is essentially “non-political” in the current society is child abuse and deception.

        Don’t shoot the messenger.

      • What can be taught and isn’t controversial is the current methodology. The ARGO system and the GRACE system come to mind as topics students may find interesting. I know when I was in highschool my science teacher showed a film on tree ring analysis which I found facinating at the time. I don’t recall any discussion of if we were heading towards an ice age or not although that was the worry de jour.

    • I agree with Pekka.

      Students should be taught the basic ideas in science and learn to think critically. This is a framework for adult decisions.

      Regretably in the UK post normal science has been ascendent for years so ,while students may not be able to do multiplication, they can at least understand the victims’ feelings when faced by a catastrophe.

      • “in the UK post normal science has been ascendent for years so ”

        This is surely the real problem Judith faced (whether she cares to say so or not), when addressing the students, It’s not that they weren’t taught any science as kids – it’s that they were taught bad science at school and, so far as we can tell, are still being taught bad science at university.

  29. Teaching Controversey, 101: Gore snares a Nobel for deceiving people as Bush earns the Left’s lifetime hatred award for believing in America with his whole heart.

    • Wag,

      The issue I with Dr. Curry, as always, is that she is discussing “teaching the controversey” here while her own statement protocal is to never discuss the political underpinnings directly or by named party!! Are we kidding?!

      Therefore it could never be mentioned the the TEAM, IPCC, GREENPEACE, WWF, AL GORE, EVERY INFILTRATED ACADEMIC SOCIETY you can think of are largely left of center if not more accurately described as RADICAL LEFTIST enclaves supporting climate change “Theory”.

      How exactly does this work? Is that “fair” to try another copywritten word of the secular left?

  30. Part of the problem is this artificial creation of the dichotomy between “consensus” vs “controversy,” or “warmist” vs. “skeptic.” These distinctions usually have well-understood meanings in blogs, but they aren’t meaningful amongst scientists and may not be obvious to students who aren’t engaged in blog wars.

    In particular, it makes no distinction between well-understood concepts (such as CO2 is a greenhouse gas and absorbs IR) and very fine details (such as the relative contribution of various ice sheets or glaciers to 21st century sea level rise). The degree of confidence that the scientific community places in various claims varies depending on what specific conclusion you are talking about. It follows from this that the extent to which you teach a specific subtopic as “controversial” varies in appropriateness.

    For example, the “consensus position” is that the precise way in which hurricanes evolve as a function of climate is uncertain, and embedded within that are various controversies regarding the details of strength vs. intensity, how to best correct for missing hurricane counts in the pre-satellite era, etc. It is also appropriate to discuss the large uncertainties in aerosol forcing over the 20th century, as is done in any climate change education setting I have been in. Pretending that this sort of “controversy” is as legitimate as Bob Carter’s diatribe’s about all of anthropogenic climate change does an injustice to the students teaching.

    • Chris

      Imo what you seem to minimize is that there are significant areas of controversy over issues that impact the implementation of governmental policy formulation. The issues over things like how much will it warm in the next 25 years, how much will sea level rise in the next 50 years, what parts of the planet will get less rainfall vs. more rainfall and how much less or more. Imo, you seem to try to minimize the importance of these VERY key issues where the science if not definitive.

      • Rob,

        I think you have to distinguish between “controversies” and “uncertainties”. All of the things you mention are uncertain (in both directions) and this uncertainty should be made clear in the classroom, but portraying it as “controverst” injects unnecessary heat into the subject.

      • Andrew

        I disagree that the issues I highlight are only uncertainties and not controversies.

        When GCMs do not match observed results and it is learned how they have been developed and validated, the entire process for their use is a great controversy. It is not just the margin of error, but whether these models should be used for policy making purposes at all.

        When models forecasted that there would be over a meter of sea level rise by 2100 and the observed trend is nowhere near that level of rise and has shown no deviation in the trend it is a great controversy and not just an uncertainty.

      • Rob,

        I have been a student in multiple classes that teach climate change at the upper undergrad or grad level. I have been exposed, formally, to discussions of future precipitation trends or sea level rise on multiple occasions (aside from my own reading). In no case, did the professor ever come off as saying that these issues have no uncertainty or that there was one universal consensus on how the future of sea level rise will play out.

        The discussion of those uncertainties has generally been weighted appropriately to the topic- i.e., there are greater uncertainties in regional precipitation trends than there are the temperature response to Mt. Pinatubo.

        There are also needs to be constraints on those discussed uncertainties, something which I have criticized Judith Curry for exaggerating on numerous occasions. For example, it would be irresponsible to teach people that sea level declines are a reasonable expectation for a business-as-usual emissions future. Moreover, it is irresponsible to make things up about models vs. observations, as you have done here, since observations have typically tracked along the high end of the AR4 projections and post-AR4 literature suggests the projections of sea level have been too conservative. I discussed this in the last thread but you evidently thought that repeating a false claim would make it right the n’th time around (just another lesson for students?).

      • Funny in a way neither haha nor peculiar, that you want to talk about sea level and aerosols, Chris. Glad ya mention ’em, and let’s keep talking about ’em, and keep observing.

      • You wrote:
        “I for one have little confidence on the observational record to constrain climate sensitivity.”
        My response is that the observational record is the most important thing to consider. The issue is to understand what climate sensitivity is, not constrain the estimate. You seem to, Imo, accept the outputs of models in spite of their outputs being in contrast to the observational record. I have nothing against the use of models. The key to trusting models is ensuring that they match observed results. You make assumptions or excuses as to why the models have not been accurate, but that is all you have-stop being untruthful.
        You wrote: “You especially cannot use timeframes of a decade or so where the internal variability is competitive with anthropogenic forcing (in addition to other forcings like slight changes in stratospheric water vapor, or progression toward solar minimum)”
        My response: No you can’t rely upon the current models for timeframes of a decade or so- because they are bad models! If a model really represented they actual system you would expect it to have better accuracy in the nearer term. You claiming otherwise is just making excuses for a poorly designed model. You never addressed why it makes sense technically to average the results of multiple models. The answer is it doesn’t. It simply shows that you and the IPCC have no confidence in the outputs of any specific model in being accurate. If you and the IPCC don’t trust any models to be accurate, why should the public make huge changes in policy as a result of their outputs?

        Regarding sea level rise- Well you continue to reference a bunch of papers that predict a sea level rise of up to 2 meters by 2100. I guess it is good that your faith does not rely upon observations since the trend is for less than 1 foot of rise by that time. Perhaps that trend will change, but there is ZERO observational evidence to suggest that is happening. The prior models on sea level rise were wrong, but in your view we should trust you and a new model that has not demonstrated it can accurately forecast anything. You write about the recent changes that may make the trend change and sea level to rise more rapidly, but there is no evidence to support your claim. The 20 year trend is pretty steady and the most recent trend is actually downward. Did you have a model predict that?

    • So it would be better just to teach a manufactured consensus, and label anyone who disagrees as a ‘denier’ that is probably funded by an oil company? How are we going to protect people from genuinely erroneous scientific ‘information’? In the U.S. anyways, censorship is not an option. Isn’t it better to give the students tools so that they can judge for themselves?

      • Almost there Dr. Curry.

        Now if you could only cross the Rubicon as to what all the “manufactured consensus” players have in common with those on a mission to use education to teach secular authority and deprogram any views that oppose their world view along very understandable political divides the conversation might evolve to meaningful status.

        If they were just talking spagetti charts and abstract climate theory this wouldn’t be as much of a problem. It’s exactly what you refuse to talk about that is the core of the issue. You’re heart seem in the right place, why not follow it with deeds? What do you think they are really teaching in “Climate Studies”?

      • Yeah, cuz that’s what he said all right! unreal.

      • Judith,

        We clearly have different ideas on what constitutes an appropriate form of critical thinking development.

        Showing students videos of Bob Carter is, at best, a useful “spot the error” exercise. It is not an honest portrayal of the controversies in climate science. If I was a student in that class, it would only come off to me as evidence that my instructor did not have the background to evaluate the legitimacy of his claims, and that they are not qualified to instruct on that topic.

        As I highlighted in my post, there are more than enough legitimate debates embedded within the climate science literature to provide fodder for good classroom discussions. The structure of these uncertainties varies wildly across topics, as does the relevance of these uncertainties to questions of radiative transfer physics, attribution, or climate sensitivity.

        But before all of this, there are more than enough well-understood concepts in the form of applied physics (e.g., how the greenhouse effect works) that could take up a substantial fraction of classroom time. These should be taught first in order to equip the student with the tools to “judge for themselves.” And for upper undergrads or graduate students, various viewpoints can be presented in the form of opposing peer-reviewed articles, and a discussion of follow-up articles to those papers, not youtube videos.

      • Chris, perhaps you missed the part about Peter Webster’s course being a course in climate dynamics, that teaches the underlying physics at a fairly high level (advanced undergrad/beginning grad). In the last few weeks of the class, the students are introduced to the IPCC and the public debate. Looking at the youtube clips is exactly an exercise in spotting the errors, assessing the arguments, etc. And they concluded that some of the arguments in each of the presentations had validity and none of the presentations were wholly convincing.

        IMO, open minds and critical thinking are more important to cultivate than trying to cram in a few more lectures on science as the consensus views it.

        That is the interesting thing about universities, different universities can try different things, and even within a particular academic department, professors have the academic freedom to teach what/how they want, and Kim Cobb or anyone else can disagree with me as much as they want. This is not necessarily true at other universities that teach atmospheric sciences (I have a few anecdotes that I will not relate here).

      • Too much teaching of a lab result, the radiative properties of CO2, and not enough teaching of observing and wondering about the actual climate.

        It is absurd to extrapolate a lab result into such a complex manifestation of nature such as climate, in the way it has been done. It’s cucaracha physica.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        I would hope that whatever the students’ conclusions were as to the 3 youtube clips from each side the questions would be why did you come to the conclusion and how would you evaluate whether your conclusion is a good one. The whole idea that a presentation should be judged on its plausibility in absence of supporting information is surely anathema in science.

      • well each of these presentations was all about presenting evidence in support of their arguments.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        But in a controversial subject the obvious point is that the students should be discouraged from making snap judgements. The truth is not some wishy washy position somewhere in the middle based on a qualitative analysis of plausible but biased presentations. The truth is fixed and there to be found and probably entirely different from all six presentations.

    • Chris Colose: In particular, it makes no distinction between well-understood concepts (such as CO2 is a greenhouse gas and absorbs IR) and very fine details (such as the relative contribution of various ice sheets or glaciers to 21st century sea level rise).

      Another example: it is well-known and accepted by everyone that CO2 absorbs and emits radiation in a particular IR band, and that the earth radiates in that band; what is not known is how a doubling of the CO2 concentration from the present concentration will affect the transport of energy from the lower troposphere to the upper troposphere. I cite again the simulations and discussion at Isaac Held’s blog:http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/10/26/19-radiative-convective-equilibrium/

      The laboratory science is “settled”, but much of the climate science is incomplete or imprecise, and the liabilities are sufficient that the total knowledge is insufficient to support a policy recommendation.

    • I actually like what you’ve written here, and it seems sensible.

      It is important to teach uncertainties. Not only does this spark creativity and curiosity in minds–as the mind always looks to have a concrete answer–and thus builds a greater desire for students to want to become scientists; but teaching uncertainties as absolute truths lead to immense disillusionment as soon as a person discovers the uncertainties that are out there. And this leads the person, in turn, to question -even more- of what he/she has been told by a source that presented uncertainties untruthfully as fact.

      It is a matter of honesty and integrity in teaching. But we do not want to create false dichotomies, or false dilemmas, on the other hand.

    • My son is learning about the precautionary principle in Grade 10 science. He asks me what the precautionary principle has to do with science because he sees that it self-contradictory. I see his text book also explains the Gaia hypothesis and a bunch of other pseudoscience. Its too bad so much of their time will be wasted on climate and not enough on physics, chemistry, and biology.

      • The net effect, no climate science need come to class k-12 in the present frame of the debate. Green soft-soap should be purged.

        I grew up in a working class school system filled with liberal dogma but the science areas took pride in being beyond political. All of that is now gone.

        What they did to “History” to make it “Social Studies” has followed suit in every subject. Climate Science is a door opener for the real “cause”. There isn’t enough science competence let alone educational to attempt this topic in practice. Dr. Curry is in denial.

      • “He asks me what the precautionary principle has to do with science because he sees that it self-contradictory”

        Tell him that the precautionary principle should have be applied to slavery, the legalization of homosexuality, Roe vs. Wade and Nixon setting up the EPA. The precautionary principle is only used in some specific arguments.

    • Chris,
      What you offer is the opposite of education. You push indoctrination.
      No wonder you are so ambigous about gleick and issues like freedom.
      Please do stay out of the classroom. You are anathema to education.

    • CO2 absorbs IR, but increasing CO2 does not increase temperature. Obviously, you have not read my “Venus: No Greenhouse Effect”, article, you probably heard that I don’t believe CO2 absorbs IR and dismissed my claimed disproof of the greenhouse effect (which is that increasing CO2 increases the temperature, despite what radiative transfer theorists keep trying to misdirect everyone with). You, and every other defender of the greenhouse effect including Judith Curry, are stuck in the past, spouting meaningless dogma, and not engaging with the definitive facts of my Venus/Earth temperatures comparison. It is quite pathetic.

  31. It is inappropriate Imo to teach unapproved material to students in publically funded schools. Approval should not be given unless the materials are factually correct and approved by the local school board. The materials can highlight what needs to still be learned on an issue before a definitive conclusion can be reached.

    I see this as true whether it is Wojick or Molton that is teaching the students. Imo, both have shown a strong bias at this site and their opinions do not seem fully supported by the available data.

    I can’t criticize what David plans to teach since he says the materials are not put together yet and he has said it will only teach where he views areas of controversy. His material should go through a review process before they are allowed to be taught in a publicly funded institution.
    I do think it is inappropriate to let Molton teach what he describes as “his view on the topic of climate change”. If we allow people to randomly teach “their views on topics where is the line to be drawn? There are racists who would like to teach their view- why would that be any different?

  32. Teaching Controversey, 101: Has the Left become pessimism of all humanity where there no longer is any care about the human condition? Compare and contrast fear of AGW and the return to peasantry under Mao Zedong.

  33. Good thing green advocacy groups are staying out of primary and secondary education unlike that evil Heartland.

    “Oxfam and Think Global* submitted our views to this process. We see it as a great opportunity to strengthen the role of active global citizenship within schools, by enabling teachers to use their professional autonomy to teach in creative and critical ways, embed learning about sustainability and interdependence within and across subjects, and strengthening the role of citizenship to support young people engaging in civic participation locally and globally.

    You can download our full submission below. We recommended that:

    The National Curriculum should incorporate learning about interdependence and sustainability into its core aims, reflecting the desire or pupils, teachers, parents and wider society

    For detail, see:


    I like these in particular:

    “Global Education Derby – aims to help schools in Derby and Derbyshrie to integrate global perspectives and education for sustainable development into their policy and practice.”

    “Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) – aims to raise the profile of international issues and promote action for sustainable development, equality and social justice throughout the world. The site includes information on educational resources available to buy or hire, and a list of their events.”

    “The UN Works – The UN Works website puts a human face on serious issues(Business, Children, Development, Education, Emergencies, Environment,Health, HIV/AIDS, Human Rights Labour, Peace and Women) by telling stories about real people.
    These stories are filled with resource links for teachers and students who want to learn more about the issues and get involved. ”

    “World Bank’s Development Education Programme – includes sustainable development learning resources.”

    From the RISC website:

    “Global Citizenship means taking action for social justice and sustainability, locally and globally

    RISC’s Education Team promotes Global Citizenship in schools and ITE through:

    • Tailor made training at your school or at RISC
    • Global Citizenship Advocates training courses for teachers and educators
    • Training for ITE institutions across the region
    • Global Schools, RISC’s Global Citizenship partnership with local schools
    • Innovative work with schools measuring attitudinal change


    From the World Bank site:

    “Overview and Objectives: Severn Suzuki is an environmental youth activist from Canada who delivered a powerful and passionate speech before delegates at the UN Earth Summit in Rio at the age of 12. Students will view an eight minute video of this speech, made before delegates at the UN Earth Summit, in order to gain a greater understanding of the central and crucial role young people can play and are playing in the fight to prevent climate disaster. Students will develop their writing, public speaking, and advocacy skills by drafting and presenting a speech, similar in purpose, organization, and length to Severn’s, intended for delivery at the upcoming UNFCCC COP meeting in Copenhagen or a subsequent UNFCCC COP meeting. ”


    David Wojick and heartland are pikers.

    • Gary, exactly.

      Meanwhile they lose sleep over Heartland.

      • Reactionaries are dangerous to the current paradigm of the state, so they must be corrected and watched constantly as we all march forward to Ecopoopia.

  34. With regard to Intelligent Design, I would be very happy for it to be taught as an example of a non-falsifiable hypothesis in science classes.
    If you want to teach how one arrives at a scientific conclusion then the important thing to teach is the journey and the selection of route. As a postulate, evolution outguns ID at all levels, when tested using scientific methodologies. ID could indeed be real, but only in the same way that “The Matrix” can actually explain our existence.
    It is a plausible that we are all really in the vats controlled by aliens who are feeding us simulated live experiences as it is for some supernatural entity to have conjured up the biosphere.
    Biologists, and all scientists, should have no fear of non-scientific arguments which oppose scientifically proven/likely views.
    The real problem comes when scientists overplay a weak hand.
    If you think, based on science, that a ‘SOMETHING’ may be an extinction level event, one can try to stop ‘SOMETHING’.
    Indeed, this happen at the genesis of molecular biology with the moratorium, instigated by the leaders in the fields. A fringe want to stop high energy physics as they suspect we are going to destroy the Earth/Solar System/Universe.
    As scientist we should be able to defend our work, and that of our colleagues, against all comers. We should be able to explain to a hairdresser or to a classicist what we do, how we do it, what we can say is statistically significant and what isn’t.
    Most of all, we should have overlapping evidence that is both hard and unambiguous, to support any conclusion.
    However, if you don’t have unambiguous data, then you should not scream that you have unambiguous conclusions.
    Here is the major problem with AGW/Termogeddon. They do not have unambiguous data, and so many downplay the significance of contradictory data, overplay the supporting data, then wear the cloths of Saints and condemn those who question their methodologies and conclusions as ‘deniers’.

    I am a biological scientist and for me evolution is not a question of belief, but of fact. However, something like half the human beings on the planet prefer to believe in some supernatural agency.
    I do not treat theses people with contempt.
    I do not despise Jews, Muslims or Christian literalists.
    I do not think that they are frauds.
    I do not refuse to interact with them.
    I do not call them ‘deniers’.

    • +10

    • DocMartyn: With regard to Intelligent Design, I would be very happy for it to be taught as an example of a non-falsifiable hypothesis in science classes.

      In fact, that is approximately where Darwin began his intellectual Oddysey, impressed as he was with the Rev. William Paley’s argument from design. That makes a very good place to begin a course on evolution. The hypothesis might be non-falsifiable because it is repeatedly reformulated, but it certainly does not make much sense after you have studied a lot of biology.

    • Well said, Doc. Your suggestion of teaching ID as a ‘non-falsifiable hypothesis’ is excellent, as is your refusal to denigrate people for arbitrary reasons.

      However, as PPs have pointed out, children all over the world (I write from Australia) are being sent home with absurd assignments like what they can do to save the polar bears, or how to improve the world through organic gardening. This stuff is frequently peddled under the heading of ‘science’.

      The real problem is reclaiming the science curriculum from ideologues of all stripes. K-12 should surely be about learning the basics, plus having some fun with it. No wonder non-Western countries are catching up in leaps and bounds despite spending much less than we do on education. They do not waste time on trying to adjudicate current scientific brouhahas, or teaching students how to grow organic tomatoes.

      • …or preaching that sustainability and biodiversity are Universally Important Goals to which science must bend its will and which themselves are proven important by science and ‘scientific’ thinking…

      • Biodiversity increases in a warmer world, and there is enough energy, terrestrially and extraterrestrially, available to sustain several multiples of our present earth’s human population in a style to which we would all like to become accustomed.

    • I hear Nietzsche weeping. Are you prepared to face Darwin’s dilemma. in the classroom? First, let’s begin with abandoning 1,000s of years of human experience as irrelevant.

      Let’s then see what science has proven? The lessons of the past are no longer needed. All questions about life must be aske and answered anew in light of this new finding that all existence is inevitable existence and merely the result of an amoral preference without consequence, And after accepting that, let us then ask if such an existence can provide a sound basis from which any rational, predictable, moral response from the individual can or must be or even should be expected.

    • Right Doc, like you could be trusted? Your fellow peer secular zealots? In a better world you shouldn’t be allowed near a classroom.

    • DocMartyn, you said:

      As scientist we should be able to defend our work, and that of our colleagues, against all comers. We should be able to explain to a hairdresser or to a classicist what we do, how we do it, what we can say is statistically significant and what isn’t.
      Most of all, we should have overlapping evidence that is both hard and unambiguous, to support any conclusion.
      However, if you don’t have unambiguous data, then you should not scream that you have unambiguous conclusions.
      Here is the major problem with AGW/Termogeddon. They do not have unambiguous data, and so many downplay the significance of contradictory data, overplay the supporting data, then wear the cloths of Saints and condemn those who question their methodologies and conclusions as ‘deniers’.


      • After I said that. I had another thought. The data is unambiguous.
        There is plenty of valid data. The data is not where the problem is.
        Well, maybe in a few cases involving people who have cooked the data, but that data is no longer data, but for the most part we have good data.

        The problem is with the Theories and how the data is being forecast in Models. Oops, forecasts are not data either are they?

        We do need to look at the extremely stable temperature cycles that we have had for ten thousand years and look at the extremely small level of CO2 that is supposed to change that in the future and realize how stupid that is.

    • +10
      I know of well respected researchers, physicians, surgeons, geologists and engineers who are devout Christians and widely respected as comptetent and even excellent in their respective fields. And i know of many climate skeptics who are experts in their fields of geology, geophysics and other science disciplines.
      One of the most annoying things about the extremists in climate is their need to enforce a thought police regime on those around them. Especailly since AGW- the idea of catastrophic climate change, is so lacking in supprt other than emotional.

    • “Intelligent design” isn’t non-falsifiable. It is the theory that, based on the information we presently have, random mutation and selection cannot explain the origin of species, and, ergo, there must be something else going on which is, by definition, not random (or at least less than entirely random). That is an entirely falsifiable theory.

      The problem is that the defenders of evolution have managed to persuade too many people that the theory of intelligent design is just a trojan horse for creationism. Of course, intelligent design is consisten with creationism, but it is most certainly not the same thing. It is consistent with any number of other (more plausible, in my opinion) theories, as well.

      • “It is the theory that, based on the information we presently have, random mutation and selection cannot explain the origin of species, and, ergo, there must be something else going on which is, by definition, not random (or at least less than entirely random)”
        However, evolution does not depend on ‘random mutation’ and you should also know that the works of Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace predate the discovery of the nature of inheritance.
        We know many of the mechanisms by which we evolve, gene duplication followed by specialization, intronic dicing and splicing and small changes in promoter regions of ‘mixing desk’ genes.
        Going from an animal like a fish to a mouse is hard, but from a mouse to any other mammal like an elephant or whale is trivial. They all have the same pretty much the genes, only they are activated in different levels and at different times.
        The whole ‘random mutation’ argument is scientifically bollocks and should be shown to be scientifically bollocks.

      • “Going from an animal like a fish to a mouse is hard, but from a mouse to any other mammal like an elephant or whale is trivial”

        Is this something you have witnessed Doc? And are thus able to make declarations about what is “trivial” and what is “hard”? I think not. In fact, I’d venture to say you are just repeating a personal belief of yours.


      • Random mutation does happen, but which one works depends on the conditions at the time. Mutation is random, but the successful results are not random.

      • HAP;
        mutation is non-random; various portions of the genome are strongly conserved, others less so. This is modulated by metacoding in the “silent DNA”, much of it strongly conserved itself (incompatible with “random” mutation.)

        The genomes of the world guide and bias and shape their own mutation. I call it Intelligent Self-Design.

  35. Teaching Controversy, 101: Is the Medium the Message? As America prospered have Leftists became more hysterical about imagined problems and less concerned about real problems? We will discuss if using the IPCC to solving real problems makes sense or is like believing a British daytime soap opera about doctors’ wives will help solve problems in the healthcare industry.

  36. I love this blog, and the Internet that makes it possible. The free flow of ideas and opinions is sometimes beautiful to behold. it’s really a kind of democratization of the old “salon” idea. To be sure I was thinking of the right term, I did a quick search and found this definition: “A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation.”

    That a relatively uneducated sap like myself can get a seat at the table…mostly to listen but even occasionally to contribute…is something for which I have much gratitude and humility…

    • pokerguy —

      I agree with you. Even the food fights and the occasional broken bottles don’t really detract from what a wonderful thing it is.
      Always something new to learn, open 24 hours a day, and no entry fee!
      What’s not to like?

    • Consensus and peer review is clearly of little use. If they are right, they stay right and who cares. If they are wrong, they stay wrong and we don’t care if the EPA is not using the wrong stuff to ruin us. Problem is, that is what is happening.
      The Blogs have problems, but they allow for different opinions.
      This is way ahead of Consensus and Peer Review.

    • Another great thing about the internet is that you can always turn it off and have a life outside it ;)

  37. Dr. Curry says:”…I’m interested in critiques of what we are doing at Georgia Tech,…”

    Dr. Curry why don’t you go the engineering department and ask them to make you a product that uses 15 mirco IR to raise the temperature of a solid object 33 K. Make your dicision on what product they bring back.

  38. Teaching Controversy, 101: With fears of AGW has Western civilization created an army of government-funded ideologues who glorify producing nothing of value to society?

  39. May I ask people on all side this:

    What experimental method shows unambiguously that CO2 is a ‘green house gas’ that slows the rate of IR transmission from a warm body to a cold sink, thus slowing the rate of cooling of the warm body?

    I am curious as to the precise details of such an experiment.

  40. Dr Curry,
    You should expose them to some Ewing and Donn Climate Theory.

  41. Judith,

    I think it might be beneficial to have a fully available course on climate change online to serve as a starting point for what is done right and where things can be improved. The only one I know of is David Archer’s undergraduate “Global Warming” course at the University of Chicago, which has fully accessible lectures and online supplements. I would be interested in your thought on the course structure.

    • Peter Webster’s course is fantastic, but the materials are not publicly available. He is thinking of writing a book on his course (but it will have to be after he completes his book on the dynamics of tropical atmosphere and oceans).

      Re Archer’s course, i don’t have the book and have only looked at the syllabus (and one chapter on greenhouse effect which was good), but it teaches climate as if the whole story is carbon and AGW. So I personally wouldn’t recommend this course because it is a very limited selection of topics and assumes dangerous anthropogenic climate change.

      • Judith,

        Archer devotes time to orbital variations (glacial-interglacial), discussion of some dynamics (wind, etc), silicate weathering feedbacks (millions of years) and carbon cycle. What would represent a healthy diversity of topics?

      • For starters: natural climate variations during the Holocene, El Nino, solar physics and variability

    • Chris,

      As I recall, David says that we could be looking at a 30 meter rise in sea level. If one’s aim is to become a science fiction writer, Dr Archer’s course might be a gold mine.

    • Archer is argumentatively and dogmatically and almost sneeringly certain that CO2 and AGW rule. As a “horrible example”, he’s pretty good.

  42. Willis Eschenbach

    Kim Cobb???

    Judith, every time I think you have your head on straight, you do something like laud Kim Cobb, who famously said (emphasis mine):

    There is no doubt that the CRU e-mails are an embarrassment to climate science in general, and to paleoclimate in particular. I have read the “greatest hits”, and cringe along with everyone else at their content. But in my professional opinion, these e-mails reveal nothing more than brief, emotion-fueled remarks made in the face of unrelenting and often disingenuous attacks.

    That is her “professional opinion” … and you describe that point of view as “open minded and broadly informed”??? Really? She blames the actions of Phil Jones on me, because of my “unrelenting attacks” in brazenly and publicly asking him for his data, and you agree with that crock of baloney? In her view, Climategate is the fault of those attacking the noble scientists … in other words, I’m to blame for Climategate, and you buy that? OK, who are you and what have you done with the real Judith Curry? The real Judith wouldn’t believe that “blame the victim” BS for a minute.

    Egads, Judith, she is so blinkered she can’t see her own nose. That is closed minded and totally uninformed cheerleading of the most reprehensible and anti-scientific variety. That’s way out in the “None so blind as those who refuse to see” turf. Her statement is against all logic and against all evidence,

    For her to blithely toss aside the reprehensible and even occasionally criminal malfeasance revealed in the Climategate emails as “brief, emotion-fueled remarks”, that is a sick joke. You have spoken out strongly against that very view in the past, what has changed? You supporting her in that is very depressing.

    Put your damn reading glasses on, Judith, you’re missing important stuff here, and it is costing you credibility. Kim Cobb is a bare-faced apologist who blames me for the actions of self-confessed scientific miscreants and criminals. As such she should be at the bottom of your list of people to “teach the controversy”, not the top.


    • Ah, give the Capital Kim a break; everyone can change their minds, and it doesn’t all have to happen at a gallop.

      • I got a special place in my heart for Kim Cobb; we’ve been confused for each other on the blogs in the past. What a hoot that was.

    • Willis, maybe that would be because I know Kim Cobb very well, and among many other things I have discussed climate gate with her at length. So maybe my basis for saying something about Kim Cobb is much deeper than the basis of your opinion, which seems to be one blog quote.

      Kim and I disagree on a number of things (my previous estimate that this is 10-15% is too low based on Kim’s comment elsewhere in the thread). My evaluation of someone is not based on whether or not the agree with me.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Thank you for your reply, Judith. If you have discussed Climategate at length with her, is what she said in her blog post a true statement of her views or not?

        If it is a true statement of her views, which from the blog post are basically “move along, nothing to see here”, then my point stands. That is a willfully blind, reprehensible and totally anti-scientific stance.

        If it is not a true statement of her views, then please point me to where she has repudiated those claims … because they’re still up there, RealClimate is still using her views as a stick with which to beat non-believers. If those are not her views, it is unethical for her to leave them without any notice that she has since changed her mind.

        So which is it, Judith? What am I not understanding about the subtler parts of her views? What am I missing here?

        I note that Kim says above …

        … as a scientist, I find it disturbing that you actively and repeatedly call into question the existence of anthropogenic climate change.

        As a scientist she finds it strange that people question a poorly supported scientific claim? Say what? THAT’S THE LEADING FEATURE OF SCIENCE, it’s what makes science different from advocacy. That’s the “Nullius in Verba” thing that the Royal Society and Kim seem to have either forgotten or never learned.

        Ironically, we cannot begin to have the kind of debates that you call for (is it “dangerous”? how much can we really say about regional impacts? how much should we invest in mitigation?) until we can all agree that anthropogenic CO2 is (very likely, to borrow a problematic phrase) warming the planet.

        Again, this claim is not science, it is the usual “I can’t debate with you until you first agree with me” kind of nonsense that the AGW side is constantly flogging.

        I think you have been deluded by your friendship, Judith. Kim is not a scientist, she is an advocate. No real scientist says stuff like that. No real scientist is surprised when her conclusions are questioned. I’m sure you don’t “find it disturbing” when someone questions your conclusions. That’s the nature of science. And no real scientist says we can’t debate until you agree with me. That’s advocacy again, not any form of science.

        But heck, prove me wrong, tell me her true views on Climategate, show me where my misunderstanding lies. Because to date, the more I find out about Ms. Cobb, the more I read of her words, the less she looks like any kind of scientist at all. What am I missing here?


      • I do not speak for Kim Cobb. I am entitled to my own opinion of Kim Cobb, and to state it publicly on my own blog.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        curryja | February 22, 2012 at 3:26 pm |

        I do not speak for Kim Cobb. I am entitled to my own opinion of Kim Cobb, and to state it publicly on my own blog.

        Of course you are entitled to your opinion of her, and you’ve stated it in your head post. I’m just asking you to explain that opinion.

        If you are unwilling to do that, while at the same time lauding her in your head post, that’s fine … just don’t expect to win respect with that “don’t ask me to explain my own statements in the head post” kind of tack. It makes you look like you are running away instead of answering …


      • Willis, I do not want to derail the productive discussion on this thread into a rehash of who thinks what about climategate.

      • Judy,
        I appreciate your clear defense of me as a reasonable human being.
        And Willis, I have been quite critical of climate science messaging and missteps (publicly, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfWgbHb4HjU and more to the point http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_G-4Kb5keA), and would like to think that I’m in a long-term process of reflection about how best to increase the public’s understanding of climate science.

      • Willis;
        +1 +1 +1 +1 ….
        Cobb’s statements are stuffed with “begging the question” verbiage. All intended to make her postulates the basis of discussion.

      • Kim Cobb, in the videos, says that CO2 warming is settled science. A small amount of greenhouse warming is accepted by many skeptics I know. I accept a trace amount of additional warming due to an additional trace amount of CO2. Significant warming due to CO2 is not settled science. I do object to the reference to computer model output as data. Data is something that is measured. You can do calculations to analyze and understand and even adjust it, but it is measured. The measured temperature of earth has not followed the alarmist forecasts and that does unsettle the science. Computer model forecasts project well outside the temperature bounds of the past ten thousand years. That cannot happen. There is an upper bound on temperature. When the oceans get warm and the Arctic Sea ice melts, the Arctic Ocean Effect Snow Machine turns on and puts a lid on temperature. Earth is at or near that lid. The lack of warming during the past 10 to 15 years is because the Arctic get open and the fierce snow does fall. Look at the Low Arctic Sea Ice Events and High Snow Extent Events that follow and look at the lack of warming. If I am very wrong and CO2 along with Carbon Feedbacks do cause more heat to be trapped, it will not matter much. Extra heat will melt more Arctic Sea Ice and cause more snow to keep a lid on temperature.

      • Kim, I watched the “more to the point” video you linked above. I’m shocked that you think that puts you in a positive light. I heard a politician talking, not a scientist. The “messaging” and “missteps” you referred to were indistinguishable from, pardon the harsh language, an activist political hack. The reference to Republican politicans was wholely inappropriate in that context. Again, my head is spinning that you you think this supports the idea that you’re sincerely “in a process of reflection” about the public’s understanding of climate science.

    • They really shouldn’t be in classrooms on average. Sad but true.

      We can’t even talk about what’s really going on in these efforts here;


      You think I want them near my children??

    • Unity would understand…

    • Kim Cobb

      I am sure you are a warm and wonderful human being and I would love to have you as a friend, but you link to a couple of videos that show beyond any reasonable doubt that you are an advocate not a scientist. The fact that you cannot see this is the really sad part of this. More reflection required I am afraid

  43. A critical feature of teaching anything about climate change is teaching the teachers, particularly at the high school level, where in today’s classroom enough scientific sophistication exists to require more than a few sentences on important concepts. I’ve become interested in resource development in this area, as well as the identification of existing resources. One useful example of the latter is Dave Archer’s Open Climate Science 101, a free resource available on the Internet, but requiring considerable time investment on the part of learners (e.g., more than 20 hours). A multitude of other resources are available from the National Science Teachers Association. If one goes to their Publications and Products link and clicks on “Freebies for Science Teachers”, and then searches for Climate Change, an extensive list is displayed from a variety of expert sources.

    In the better schools, high school students today are capable of assimilating a good deal of material on climate change that goes beyond a recital of “facts”, and it will be important to recognize this capability when presenting climate change as an example of an evolving science. In reviewing the existing resources, I have found enough variety and certainly enough excellence to obviate the need for advocacy groups to weigh in on the grounds that most of the existing material is biased.

    Regardless, it’s my sense that there need be less concern about advocacy in teaching than about pressures on school boards and state legislatures to mandate teaching content in a way that interferes with the ability of teachers to make rational choices. It’s likely in fact that more advocacy dollars are being invested in creating these pressures than in developing biased curricula.

    • I actually serve on a local school board.

      Frankly I would be thrilled if our system could reliably convey the intricacies of manual long division. Sucessful instruction in algebra would be miraculous.

      I yearn and burn for the prospect of teaching “science” as a systemic process of recognizing the pertinent factors, setting up a model, and iteration of guess, record, check and correct.

      Sadly the overall culture of education is more about the cause of the day. This is regardless of subject. Thomas Jefferson, champion of human rights or slave abusing bastard-siring hypocrite? Phonics or whole language? Team sport or individual conditioning? Too much attention to the boys, or not enough respect for the girls? Are we protecting our teens from adult sexual predators? Are our young teachers protected from lecherous students? Is the network firewall sufficient to keep the kids’ iPods from surfing pr0n via our school WiFi? What’s the black stuff growing on the cardboard boxes stacked at the back of the lunchroom?

      Saving the planet, reducing our carbon footprint, standing up for free speech or restoring the constitutional balance of powers? Sure, write me a check and I’ll take your money.

      Actually inculcating some particular notions, or habits of thought, in the heads of the local kids?

      If I had the ability to do that, would I be wasting my time with YOUR agenda?

      • In this perfecting world, we’ll rear kids able to talk about the weather with each other. Now, that’s progress.

        I love this comment, J_M. Your board must have a blue ribbon committee exploring school boundary issues.

  44. My sense is that your students who watch three movies from each side and then tell you that they think the truth is in the middle somewhere are just telling you what you want to hear, or not bothering to think carefully and just giving you what seems like a safe answer.

    I don’t know which six movies you chose (and I’d be interested in watching them myself), but, at least as I think of the “sides,” one side is saying “we know everything we need to in order to know there’s a problem,” and the other is saying “here’s a list of things we would need to know that we don’t.” That’s not a close case.

    • As I think about it, I realize that the real question to “teaching the debate” is “what debate”? I told you what I thought were the two sides, but the truth is there are more than two teams defending more than two goal lines. “Teaching the debate” is going to be politically explosive, because it requires some value judgments about what the range of acceptable positions is.

    • The issue of “sides” arises from the consensus building activities of the IPCC, which has framed both the scientific and public debate on this topic. Opposing the consensus makes you a skeptic (or worse). In an alternate (more desirable IMO) universe, the concept of a consensus on climate change wouldn’t exist, and we would have a normal debate across the range of scientific issues, with a diversity of perspectives and viewpoints not being regarded as a “bad” thing.

      Perspectives that don’t agree with the IPCC consensus are “bad” only if you are concerned about building political will for a particular policy decision (this is the ideology part). They are not “bad” in the context of science, but rather are the sign of a healthy scientific process.

      • Well I certainly agree with you, but, as much as I dislike them, the IPCC is only one of the factions out there that will call you a bad person for trying to teach their kids something different from what they believe. The unfortunate fact is that climate change is not just a scientific battle, it is political one. It doesn’t matter that some of us are interested in teaching what is scientifically defensible, because, at this point, those groups aren’t listening to the science–they don’t care about the science. And the consequence of government control of schooling is that the schools ought to stay away from politically charged issues.

        Not that they do. But I don’t have to bore you with my opinions about the leftism of the teachers’ unions to show that you’ll be running into a buzz saw if you try to bring your teaching of the controversy to K-12 education. It’s God’s work (if you’ll pardon the phrase), but will require a pretty radical change of more than just public perception of the truth about climate science to pull it off.

      • It’s not just the perversion of climate science, it’s the perversion of public communication and public education.

      • “In an alternate (more desirable IMO) universe, the concept of a consensus on climate change wouldn’t exist, and we would have a normal debate across the range of scientific issues, with a diversity of perspectives and viewpoints not being regarded as a “bad” thing.”

        In that “alternate universe”, where unicorns are free to graze in peace and everyone has good and nobel intentions is very far from the world you or I live in. It has nothing to do with this topic or climate science as a whole. Nothing to do with public education in America on average.

        No Dr. Curry, there really is something “bad” in the climate agenda setting and AGW promotion. Especially near children. There is really something “bad” in the Time/Life “Saving the Polar Bear” (Reduce co2 only correct answer) reader targeting 3rd graders. The issue of “sides” is much deeper than IPCC affiliations, opinions and actions.

        Do you think I would let you or Qbeamus frame the “debate” without objection?’ Qbeamus writes;

        “at least as I think of the “sides,” one side is saying “we know everything we need to in order to know there’s a problem,” and the other is saying “here’s a list of things we would need to know that we don’t.” That’s not a close case.”

        It’s not a close case at all, warming advocates have very little. They should keep it away from children. What you’re missing of course, willfully, is that AGW “Education” is a tail of dog a hundred times more vicious but related to the general culture war of right vs. left. Regardless, without addressing the culture war it’s impossible to take any suggestions you might have on the topic.

        Climate Education propaganda, that’s the net impact being suggested, is a further provocation and esculation since the main front of AGW regulatory expansion is in the ditch at the moment. I take it as “wait to the adults die and the kids will be ours”. Expect the usual backlash.

        You can’t even acknowledge key political issues of particular parties on a blog without an elaborate politically correct blog protocal. You expect approval to sponsor an educational regime for children??

      • Judith,

        I am impressed.

        Who said there is no such thing as objectivity (other that the subjectivists of course)? You are asymptotically approaching it!

        I suggest you be given an honorary degree in the Philosophy of Science and the Science of Philosophy. Seriously.


      • Judith

        You have hit the nail on the head.

        “Sides” do not exist in science.

        Neither does “political correctness”

        In climate science these are products of a corrupt IPCC “consensus process”, which was politically (not scientifically) motivated from the start.


      • The more is the pity that the whole shebang has become politicized, and financed, beyond all sense or reason. It’s about as tragic as can be, and about to get worse.

      • Max,

        Life is water not stone. Once again, you look at the superficial of her statement which is positive but ignore the contridiction in her actions and logic. It’s one thing to espouse an idea but to ignore all reality about AGW advocacy and the social results?

        Pretending there are no “sides” or failing to identify them when they are right before you is about as dangerous a principle as I can think of in the debate.

      • qbeamus:

        The consequence of government control of schools is … political powers will use the schools to promote whatever the political powers want, especially to push particular political issues and views. Some people, though certainly nowhere near a majority, see that as an argument against government control of schools.

      • Judith;
        At a rough estimate, what % of the IPCC’s efforts would you say are directed at furthering research, and what % at disparaging and sidelining dissenters from (C)AGW?

  45. Teaching Controversy, 101: Viewed through prism of reality, after Al Gore lost his bid to become the President of the U.S.—and proceeded to embark instead on a campaign AGW alarmist propaganda—was it realistic for most rational people who knew or should have known better to believe that academia would be far more critical and skeptical than it was? In the future will it ever again be realistic to expect that academia will probe much more deeply than it did for an understanding not just of the world around us but also of the cultural hegemony that dominates society?

  46. Kim Cobb: It isn’t so much a belief that the planet is warming, but by how much for what reasons, and in what proportion for each? Your mind is made up, mine isn’t, nor can you assign your “absolute” frame of reference to Dr. Curry or anyone else. You wouldn’t be “debating” like this if the debate were truly over. Debatable, controversial, uncertain, nebulous and, still, arrogance-based for you.

    • You wouldn’t be “debating” like this if the debate were truly over.

      The legacy of Gleickgate is that the framing may well have shifted. The new, improved mantra (as articulated by the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists – which will even accept a (presumably verifiably) domiciled canine as a member is:

      The science about climate change is clear, but the debate about how to respond to it is broken


      I’m eagerly awaiting an explanation as to how:

      o a subject so clouded miraculously became “clear”; and

      o a debate the activists and advocates been doing their very best to avoid – if not declare “over” – can be “broken”.

      But I’m not holding my CO2 in anticipation of a response;-)

      In the meantime ,,, it’s good to know that (according to the UCS, and given their connections to the approved climatalogical luminaries, they should know), those who do dare to differ – or Gaia forbid, dissent – are no longer funded by Big Oil, but by a cartel of heretofore unknown Big Business lobby.

      Also, evidently, the d-word has lost its efficacy. Henceforth, dissenters (and probably those who dare to question the clarity) are deemed to be “anti-science”.

      Clearly, as a teachable moment, Gleickgate – not unlike Climategate – did not make the cut for those on the warm-side.

      Such is progress, eh?!

  47. My two cents: let me suggest a more durable, less political response, for which the means are already in place:

    a) Teach how to read critically (analytically).
    b) Teach the importance of digging deeply and broadly into a subject or issue.
    c) Teach how to write a readable analysis.
    d) Repeat a) though d).

  48. Teaching Controversy, 101: Does it violate the principles of the scientific method if the work of Dr. Mann (i.e., MBH98/99/08, aka the ‘Hockey Stick’ graph) can neither be replicated nor verified? Compare and contrast principles of accountability as practiced inside versus outside academia.

  49. A student debate on the issue worked well at my son’s high school and avoided a confrontation on the issue. The debate was combined with an already scheduled exercise in learning how to use the library. The class was divided into two teams with the teacher coaching one team and the librarian coaching the other.

    People on both sides of the issue seemed pleased with the results. The librarian changed his position on the issue. A climate change blog was started on the high school website and quickly became the most active page.

    One thing that made the debate particularly popular with the students was that it took the place of their having to watch Al Gore’s film… AGAIN.

    • Have to ask: what was the librarian’s before/after?

      • I ran into him a couple of days later at a junior varsity game. He told me that before the debate he was set to buy a new hybride car, which was going to be a bit of a stretch on his salary, but had changed his mind. “What a scam,” he said, shaking his head.

        I gathered the change was more a result of his own research done while helping the students prepare for the debate than the debate itself.

  50. Teaching controversial subjects is hard work. Most students (other than the lazy ones) easily can handle it, though. It’s not like they don’t debate with each other anyway (team allegiances, campus issues, etc.). I think it’s more likely to be a problem for most faculty for any of several reasons: 1) balance takes broad knowledge of the subject, 2) bias is too easily overlooked, 3) pressure comes from other faculty members and/or administration, 4) teaching often is of lower priority than scholarship and not worth the effort, 5) most people like their work tidy and controversy is messy. There may be more reasons than these.

  51. To learn about climate, one has to teach the science. Now, children are developmentally at different so the content, methods and science need to be appropriate: 5 years to 7; 8 to 12; 13 to 18. In each group, the observation can be connected to the specifics. Stand outside in the rain: where does rain come from? stand outside in the sun; do you feel warm? how does the sun warm you? look up in the sky, do you see clouds? how do clouds get made? when a cloud passes over, do you feel coolness? are you being shaded from the sun by the cloud? stand under a tree; do you feel cooler than when standing under a tree
    We can teach how trees are made; the building blocks of CO2 & Water. We can teach about sun and warmth in the shallow end of the pool. We can teach observing, wondering, finding out if there is an answer, how to find an answer, is the answer believable; photons and droplet nuclei? The carbon cycle, the water cycle, the various layer of the atmosphere & how each is different; day time and night time. I can think through a curriculum as I taught my children and now grandchildren. What I teach most is the wonderment, the mystery, the many unknowns, what is yet to be discovered.

    Conservation, environment, the connectivity we as a species have with the living and non-living; Bryce Canyon wind swept spires, layers in the rock, oil oozing from the river cut face of shale, fossils in the rocks of shorelines.
    My goodness, the wonderment. The trace gas radiative transfer model is just as wonderful to describe as the warmth one feels in a sleeping bag, sleeping on the ground without a pad; what happens when your sleeping bag get wet? I can think of a myriad of ways to connect observation to questions of “why?” I think the best way to teach the science of climate is to start with an observation and ask, why. The only other facet in my mind that is relevant, how comfortable is the teacher with “uncertainty.” I would choose science teachers who can say: “I don’t know, but I know how to find an answer.” Kids will ask enough “why” questions to get to the point that there are really several answers, each incomplete, and that there is a lot more to learn.

    Teach climate change through observation: teach climate change through geography; teach climate change through feeling the wind; from looking down from an airplane at the clouds; from space looking at blue marble earth; the moon phases.

    One can teach climate change through literature, history, social movements; we are impacted by the weather and our ancestors were impacted by their climate, and the fossils of creatures were impacted by their climate. Whatever you particular discipline you can teach climate change. The controversy to me is a red herring. The current answers are incomplete, much much more to be learned.

  52. Willis Eschenbach

    Compare and contrast:

    Kim Cobb | February 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

    … I think it’s best to dwell on those aspects that we agree on, and respectfully agree to disagree about those elements on which we do not. I respectfully disagree with so many of my colleagues, about any number of aspects of climate science, so this is a familiar and comfortable stance for me.

    Kim Cobb | February 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply

    … as a scientist, I find it disturbing that you actively and repeatedly call into question the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Ironically, we cannot begin to have the kind of debates that you call for (is it “dangerous”? how much can we really say about regional impacts? how much should we invest in mitigation?) until we can all agree that anthropogenic CO2 is (very likely, to borrow a problematic phrase) warming the planet.

    Dr. Cobb is happy to “respectfully disagree” with others, but she finds it “disturbing” that Judith disagrees with her, and she says she can’t have debates with Judith until Judith agrees with her.

    Post-normal science, I guess …


    • She’s really only willing to discuss the fine points of “mitigation”, and is utterly disoriented by the proposal that it’s unjustified and likely unnecessary, even to a high probability a drastically depopulating strategy.

      So it’s indeed “dangerous” for her to broach that subject.

  53. To me it is very simple, real world observation without adjustments VS computer programs. Have any predicted calamities over the last 20 years come true yet, any? Take that information to the classroom.

  54. Teaching Controversy, 101:

    For those who are depressed about AGW is it better to offer sympathy or empathy? How might those who are skeptical of a coming climate apocalypse best offer solace to those who feed endangered by others who use energy to live?

    For example, would it help the AGW True Believer to hear me say—e.g., I’m sorry I enjoy driving my SUV to work?

    Or, would it be more helpful if I offered to pay a psychologist to treat their Hot World Syndrome instead of continuing to pay climatologists to spread fears about global warming?

  55. Anteros wrote:
    “pokerguy –I agree with you. Even the food fights and the occasional broken bottles don’t really detract from what a wonderful thing it is.
    Always something new to learn, open 24 hours a day, and no entry fee!
    What’s not to like?”

    Thanks, Anteros. For all the inevitable sturm und drang (I try to use that term at least once a week), this is the most civl blog I know despite its loose moderation, while the level of discourse is often remarkably high. All that of course is a testament to our host.

    If one has the stomach, it’s a useful exercise to compare the proceedings here with what passes for free and open discussion at the propaganda sites. That was actually an important factor in my journey from true believer to skeptic. The establishment climate posters struck me as so contemptuously certain of themselves, and the comments from the true believers often so vapid, that it started me wondering what the hell was going on. Something was….and something remains….seriously amiss.

    For a New York Times subscribing, (ex) Greenpeace and WWF donating liberal democrat, it’s been quite a trip.

  56. When the brainiacs here have resolved how to teach about climate science, please inform the educators how to teach about nuclear power. For something much more well understood and characterized, it suffers from exactly the same problems. For that reason, I hold out little hope of any closure on the topic at hand, and entropy will continue.

  57. How about teaching the proper ways to resolve controversies, you know, logic, avoiding fallacious arguments, experimentation, correction of errors, reproducibility of results, all the stuff of science classes when I was growing up?

  58. Concerning the presentation “Climate Change & Energy Policy: The Controversy”, page 16 (Solutions; Unintended Consequences), there is another that might be added. It is
    Bureaucratic control of the economy and the populace, under direction of elected and appointed officials.
    Why? Approximately 70% of the U.S. energy supply, and close to 100% of our mobile energy supply, comes from fossil fuels. There is very little that one can do without energy.

  59. I have read through the message and comments from

    “Kim Cobb | February 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm |”

    and I may say I agree completly with Willis. I find Kim Cobb’s attitude to be absolutely frightening. Specifically, I find, as others have quoted,

    “until we can all agree that anthropogenic CO2 is (very likely, to borrow a problematic phrase) warming the planet.`

    I know of few skeptics who would disagree that adding more CO2 to the atmosphere from current levels warms the planet. I certainly do not. The issue was, is and always will be HOW MUCH does the additional CO2 warm the planet. And that is the issue that Kim Cobb REFUSES to discuss. She goes from adding CO2 warms the planet, to AGW is catastrophic; i.e. we have CAGW.

    Until Kim Cobb is prepared to discuss the proper science behind the claims that adding CO2 to the atmosphere causes catastrophic warming, she will be presenting a non-scientific point of view. And if her pupiîs believe her, she is a very dangerous teacher.

    The fact of the matter is that hypothetical, meaningless estimations, as presented by the IPCC, show that CAGW exists. While the hard, measured observed data, shows that the effect of adding CO2 is absolutely negligible.

    • Jim,

      There’s all sorts of “frightening” involved here. Dr. Curry can’t even relate the commonality of Green AGW interests to any other collectivst educational interests. You think you would want to leave her alone in room with the teachers union to plan a cirriculum?

      I gets much worse from her on the food chain in practice.

      I don’t want climate pornography in the classroom.

      • corrected;


        There’s all sorts of “frightening” involved here. Dr. Curry can’t even relate the commonality of Green AGW interests to any other collectivst educational interests. You think you would want to leave her alone in room with the teachers union to plan a cirriculum?

        It gets much worse from her on the food chain in practice.

        I don’t want climate pornography in the classroom.

      • cwon;
        I see nothing corrected in your correction, but it’s grammatically and syntactically a mess, so here’s my partial effort:

        There’s all sorts of “frightening” involved here. Dr. Curry can’t even relate the commonality of Green AGW interests to any other collectivist educational interests. You think you would want to leave her alone in aroom with the teachers’ union to plan a curriculum?

        It gets much worse from here on upthe food chain in practice. [Just my best guess at what that sentence might be; it’s still confused and confusing.]

        I don’t want climate pornography in the classroom.

    • Jim Cripwell

      This is the Achilles heel of the CAGW premise, as you point out:

      the “gigantic leap of faith” from accepting

      a) that CO2 is a GHG, that GHGs can cause warming of our atmosphere and that humans emit GHGs and

      b) that our planet has warmed since modern global temperature measurements were installed in 1850, to

      c) that warming from human GHGs (primarily CO2) represents a serious potential threat to humanity and our environment unless we dramatically cut back CO2 emissions.

      a) and b) can be tested experimentally (the GH effect of CO2) or measured based on actual physical observations (human CO2 emissions, increased atmospheric CO2 levels, increased global temperatures)

      c) is not supported by any empirical evidence, however – only by model simulations based on hypothetical input assumptions, which provide no scientific validation whatsoever

      A “leap of faith” is not part of the scientific method; it is the diametric antithesis to scientific inquiry based upon rational (or scientific) skepticism.

      In other words it is Bad Science = B.S.

      The whole debate is about this “gigantic leap of faith” in the CAGW premise.


  60. “How many people remember the peril of nuclear winter? Crichton shows how the entire concept was ‘from the outset the subject of a well-orchestrated media campaign’ conducted for political ends. A Washington DC public-relations firm was paid $80,000 to publicize the research. The first appearance of the work in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature was in the December 23, 1983, issue of Science (Turco et al., 1983). But the dangers of nuclear winter had been heralded nearly two months earlier by Carl Sagan in the October 30, 1983, issue of Parade magazine, a supplement to Sunday newspapers (Seitz, 1986). By 1986, it was apparent that the conclusions of Turco et al. (1983) were suspect, and that the entire field of research was highly politicized. Writing in the January 23, 1986, issue of Nature, K. A. Emanuel (1986, p. 259) noted that ‘nuclear winter research…has become notorious for its lack of scientific integrity.'” (David Deming. Global warming, the politicization of science, and michael crichton’s “state of fear,” JSE. 2005 Jun;19(2).

    • Actually the original nuclear winter research was conducted by Crutzen et al. (Germans). Knowing somewhat a few of the authors on the Turco et al. paper, I don’t think they were politically motivated. Although Sagan was the last (fifth) author on the paper, and he is arguably responsible for kicking off the politicization of this.

      • Specifically on the implication of nuclear winter Judy. Don’t you think it odd that while the RAF/USAAF were burning German and Japanese cities (and their inhabitants), that there was not a massive crash in temperature?

      • TTAPS was wrong, way wrong in the magnitude of the effect. That is different from saying that particular paper was politically motivated from its inception.

      • David Springer

        DocMartyn | February 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm |

        “Specifically on the implication of nuclear winter Judy. Don’t you think it odd that while the RAF/USAAF were burning German and Japanese cities (and their inhabitants), that there was not a massive crash in temperature?”

        Whether you can call it “massive” or not is arguable but the northern hemisphere experienced a period of cooling from 1940-1980 which is rather well known. Climate boffins, at least at one point, attributed it to airborne particulates and they’re probably at least somewhat correct.

  61. How about teaching that if the Scientific Method is not followed, it’s not science?

    Of course, that would leave the catastrophe-mongers with nothing to say, would it?

  62. Judith Curry

    You have posed an excellent question.

    But the answer is really quite simple.

    Teaching the scientific method and the principles of scientific inquiry (including the role that rational, or scientific, skepticism plays in this process) in K-12 at an appropriate level makes good sense, if we want to develop pupils who will eventually go into science or engineering fields. This includes exposing them to all viewpoints on our planet’s climate.

    Teaching them a “politically correct” consensus position on climate science as the only scientific truth in this field does not make any sense at all – this is simply brainwashing. This is especially bad if it is accompanied by fear mongering (as is often the case).

    Consensus – NO
    Controversy – YES

    Hats off to David Wojick.

    “Political correctness” has no place in science.


  63. Can someone clarify what is meant by “no-regrets strategy? Surely any action has an opportunity cost? Even a measured reduction on CO2 (which I support) will take attention away from other possible concerns which may turn out to be more significant in the long run. For instance we may discover in 20 years that over-fishing was a bigger problem than CO2

    • Andy – I don’t usually weigh in on policy questions, because I feel more comfortable and qualified when discussing scientific content alone. In this case, however, the two directly intersect. Based on the extraordinarily long atmospheric lifetime of excess CO2, there is no such thing as a “no-regrets” strategy, A decision to forgo prompt CO2 mitigation in favor of alternative measures may be argued for on various grounds, but whether or not it is a defensible strategy, it is not a “no regrets” one. Once the excess CO2 is in the atmosphere, we can’t get it back, and it will exert effects for centuries that we might later regret. It’s not my purpose to argue whether that will happen, but there is no doubt that the potential is real and non-negligible.

      Some of this was discussed recently in the Climate Fast Attack Plan thread, and a separate perspective has been expressed by Raymond Pierrehumbert in Losing Time.

      In my view, the notion of a “no regrets” strategy is based on fallacious reasoning, and dodges the question of which policy to choose in a situation where we are faced with a “forced choice” in which whatever is chosen will have consequences.

    • “Can someone clarify what is meant by “no-regrets strategy?”
      It means the speaker has never heard of an ‘opportunity cost’ nor has studied Frédéric Bastiat’s parable, the broken window fallacy (glazier’s fallacy).


  64. The more I have read this thread the more clear it becomes that “teaching the controversy” is not a good approach for teaching what science is.

    It’s true that science depends on creation and ultimate resolution of controversies, but that’s only part of what science is and that part may easily get overemphasized.

    Science is a progressive process that has produced a huge amount of valuable results and is essential for our present well-being. As a progressive process it advances through small steps based on innovative discoveries and collection of evidence to judge, which ideas are more likely to be correct and which wrong. Such a process makes often wrong steps but is dominated by correct ones as evidenced by the overall success.

    The nature of science should be taught and the repeated occurrence of controversies should be discussed as one of the essential factors but not as more than that.

    What’s also essential is that the correct arguments are not always those that appear at first most appealing. They are often complex and difficult to appreciate. That makes it difficult to provide students a balanced set of arguments that would supposedly allow them to judge, which side of a controversy is more right than the other. it’s actually dishonest to lead them to think that they may know enough for making the judgment on any issue that remains genuinely controversial. They should learn that reaching the capability to judge on such issues requires a lot of work. (The science is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration).

    • Pekka

      What do you understand under “teaching the controversy”?

      What do you understand under “teaching the consensus”?

      I’m sure, from your post, that it is something quite different than I would understand.

      To me it is clear that pupils of all ages should be made aware of the scientific method and scientific inquiry, including the key role that rational (or scientific) skepticism plays in this process. “Controversy” is the driving force of this process and seeking empirical evidence it’s goal.

      Teaching a politically correct “consensus” viewpoint as the “scientific truth” on something as completely controversial as our planet’s climate is the wrong approach IMO – it relegates science under politics. Combining this with fear mongering, as is often done today, is downright reprehensible.

      Do you disagree?


    • Pekka, I am not sure exactly what you are saying because its vague. But I think I disagree and it goes back to the Sir Francis Bacon flawed idea about science. Accumulation of observations is by itself rather useless. Big advances come from mathematical theories about how things behave. If students are to grasp science they need to understand the critical role of theory and the controversy surrounding it. One of my professors pointed out that if in fact we had to go through all the specific instances of a theory that preceeded the development of the theory, we would never get to the frontier of knowledge. So while general theory sometimes lacks motivation, it is essential to education and progress itself. One should motivate the theory, but its the critical element I think in any educational enterprise.

      • David,

        I was obviously too vague as my purpose was to imply all what you write. All that was hidden in the two words “innovative discoveries”. The formulation was by purpose not specific as the ideas are not always predominantly mathematical. In physical sciences mathematics is often the best language for expressing the ideas precisely, but that’s not fundamental and not always true even in physics and certainly less in other sciences like biological sciences as an example.

  65. Can the schoolteachers of global warming alarmism handle the truth? The real eye-opener has been that it is not just Al Gore: the teachers in the public just don’t care about truth.

    “… McIntyre & McKitrick (2003, 2005a,b,c,d), the NAS report (2006) and the Wegman report (Wegman et al., 2006) have all independently ascertained that Mann’s PC method produces spurious hockey-stick shapes from a combination of (i) inappropriate centering of the data series, (ii) non-random or biased selection of small data samples, and (iii) inclusion in the calculation of proxies that are known not to reflect a reliable temperature signal (notably, bristle cone pine datasets) …”

    [Excerpt, The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, 11 August 2006: Response to comments by Dr. David Wratt – Letter (Chair, New Zealand Climate Committee, Royal Society of New Zealand)]

    • The schoolteachers will catch on. Kids will be trudging a mile to school through a foot of snow, uphill both ways.

      • Yeah, kim.

        And when the teachers try to frighten them with warnings of a burning GHG-heated planet, the shivering kids will only laugh.


    • No Wag, they can’t;

  66. Why frame it as teaching the consensus or the controversy.

    The science is that GHGs warm the planet. Teach that.

    How much? that’s an open question: teach that.

    What should we do? Should belongs in ethics.

    • steven mosher

      You have summarized it very succinctly.


    • SM;

      The highly charged political culture of most school systems can’t be trusted to handle and botch another sensitive topic. AGW is the same sort of distracting issue they use to cover the general failure to maintain basic educational standards and use in practice as a weapon to portray themselves as victims.

      Go read the snivelry at RC for an example;


      Those poor oppressed champions of science education (Green Propagandists). Those anti-science deniers making their lives a living hell!

      This is just another escalation of a culture war, we should note who is causing it again.

    • steven mosher,

      I am sure you meant to imply teaching all the Earth-atmospheric system behavior that influence the continuum of the dynamics and physical processes involved; not just a small GHG dynamic out of proportion to the rest.

      Cheers to objectivity.

      For an appreciation of the Earth-atmospheric system I highly recommend the following book I have been spending a lot of time on recently; “Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate” by Murry L. Salby published Jan 2012 by Cambridge University Press.


    • Mosher kung fu very strong.

    • After answering the how much question, I suggest the next question is “how will the warming impact me/us?” Then you can answer what should we do.

    • David Springer

      steven mosher | February 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply

      “The science is that GHGs warm the planet. Teach that.”

      Hypothetically. Also hypothetically the warmer surface evaporates more water which causes more clouds which cool the surface making the net result no warming and no cooling. Should we teach that too?

      The problem here is that while we believe you are entitled to your opinions, Steven, you are not entitled to your own facts. That fact is we can demonstrate that when everything else is equal a greenhouse gas will warm an artificial surface in a laboratory. Heck we even use that as the operating theory for instruments which electronically measure CO2 concentrations in high occupancy buildings and turn on ventilation fans to keep CO2 down to acceptable levels. The problem arises when people like you take those facts and pretend they are facts on a planetary scale with many confounding factors outside of our control. Just teach the facts.

      How much? that’s an open question: teach that.

      What should we do? Should belongs in ethics.

    • steven mosher: The science is that GHGs warm the planet.

      The science is that GHGs have warmed the planet, but exactly how much is disputed.

      What will happen next is not known, as negative feedbacks may impede or halt future warming even if GHG concentrations double.

      • Markus Fitzhenry


        The Oceans warm the atmosphere. Atmospheric gases cool as they radiate to space. How do atmospheric gases warm Earth?

        And before you tell me about ‘backradiation’, make sure you know what is the exact convective lapse rate and what altitude is the ‘mean’ atmospheric radiation surface.

        Hint! You can’t tell me with accuracy what is the mean altitude of radiation nor with accuracy the ‘mean’ surface temperature under the current (can’t say it) paradigm. Climate scientists have been working flat out for 30 years following a fudged radiation equation.

    • Willis Eschenbach

      steven mosher | February 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Why frame it as teaching the consensus or the controversy.

      The science is that GHGs warm the planet. Teach that.

      So near, yet so far …

      The science is that GHGs increase the downwelling forcing.

      The very open question is whether that tiny change in forcing (~ 1% from a CO2 doubling) is offset by thermostatic mechanism (e.g. a ~ 1% change in albedo or a ~ 1 hour change in the time of tropical cloud formation or a ~ 1% change in cloud height or a ~ 1% change in El Nino/La Nina frequency or …).

      Teach that.


      • Not. Increasing GHGs increases the effective radiating height.
        Willis, On CA you yourself attributed 30% of the warming to human causes.

        On the very first thread were lukewarmerism was born

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Not. Increasing GHGs increases the effective radiating height.

        So I put up four things as examples, you think you have countered one of them, and that makes it “Not”?? You think somehow that falsifies my claim? Sorry, my friend, you want to say “Not”, you gotta counter all four. In any case …

        WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2012 (UPI) — Researchers say the sky is falling, after a fashion, as data from a U.S. satellite show clouds around the world are losing altitude.

        If future observations confirm that as a trend, it could have an important effect on global climate change, they said.

        “We don’t know exactly what causes the cloud heights to lower,” researcher Roger Davies of the University of Auckland in New Zealand said. “But it must be due to a change in the circulation patterns that give rise to cloud formation at high altitude.”

        Researchers said clouds that are lower in the atmosphere would more efficiently cool the planet and could possibly offset some global warming caused by greenhouse gases, LiveScience.com reported.

        Read more: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/02/23/Study-Clouds-losing-altitude-globally/UPI-18861330044566/#ixzz1nH2ep9rv

        Gosh, Mosh, the world doesn’t work like a climate model … who knew?

        On CA you yourself attributed 30% of the warming to human causes.

        I think that some of the warming over the last 100 years has been from land use / land cover changes. When you cut down the forests, you cut down the clouds, and you also generally increase the albedo (see Kilimanjaro).

        I also think that black carbon on snow or ice has a warming effect.

        In both cases, note that what changes is albedo …

        But a 1% change in total downwelling radiation from a doubling of CO2?

        Lost in the noise …

        On the very first thread were lukewarmerism was born

        That makes me a “lukewarmer” in your universe? Who knew? I think a CO2 doubling is meaningless, and yet you think I’m a “lukewarmer”?

        I’m not a “lukewarmer” in any sense. I’m a heretic. I think the current central paradigm of mainstream climatology, the unsubstantiated idea that changes in surface temperature are a linear function of changes in TOA forcing, is childish nonsense.

        I say the correct paradigm is that the surface temperature is a function of multiple interlocking thermostatic and homeostatic mechanisms operating at a host of spatial and temporal scales. I say climate is a flow system ruled by the Constructal Law, and as such is constantly evolving to maximize the sum of work and turbulence.

        I fear that puts me totally outside the normal Skeptic / Lukewarmer / AGW Supporter continuum, which is why I say I’m a Heretic.

        All the best,


  67. Dr. Curry
    TSI effect is limited.
    In the long term sun doesn’t input extra energy required, but it does have critical effect on the distribution of the energy already absorbed by the world oceans.

    If you are Gavin of the Real Climate blog
    Neither Dr. Curry or Anthony Watts ban posters providing they maintain certain standards.
    Am I banned from the Real Climate as a result of a certain light hearted cartoon?
    Old boys from Exhibition Road always welcomed the Gower Street crowd, and one would think that the opposite was true.
    with regards.

    • vuk, if you stick to the science gavin will let you post. Thats his choice.
      His time, his effort, his choice.

      • An odd claim given the levels of social and political propaganda found embedded in almost any topic at RC.

        We (the self-selected among our peers, all of whom must support the consensus) of science (as we define it) are the authority (non members must listen not speak). It’s a very easy site to understand but it isn’t “science” by a long stretch.

      • “His time, his effort, his choice.”

        While he’s on the salary of NASA a taxpayer based government entity, on a site linked to George Soros funding and creation. It’s Green-left front site. Not whisper of concern from those in a tizzie fit over Heartland. Not much disclosure either from Real Climate while they drone on about “Kock Brothers”, “Big Oil” or “Heartland” etc over there.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        steven mosher | February 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Reply

        vuk, if you stick to the science gavin will let you post. Thats his choice.
        His time, his effort, his choice.

        Unless he has changed his tune recently, that is totally untrue, Steven. RC historically has censored piles and piles of on-topic scientific comments. That’s his choice and his right, but you claiming it’s all based on science and nothing else?

        BWA-HA-HA-HA. See here for a fully documented example. Nor have they made any bones about that fact.

        If that has changed, I’ll wait for Gavin to verify it, and I’d loved to know when the policy was altered. I’m not holding my breath, however.


      • Must agree with the others responding to you here Mosh; RC cuts or distorts scientific arguments that don’t match the moderators prejudices.

      • Willis,

        Thank you for presenting that example. It is a truly revealing example of the mindset of the sur realclimate crew. Anyone who might inconveniently expose substantial deficiencies in their presentations are summarily cast into outer darkness lest their followers become disillusioned.

        I doubt things have changed much recently.

      • Steve Mosher, I must agree with Willis. The general tone on Real Climate is condescending, sarcastic, and unhelpful. I posted something on this on the Gleick’s integrity thread. I’ve gotten to the point where I wince every time I read anything by Schmidt just because I’m wondering how he can tolerate the searing brightness of his own intellect. We know from the emails that in private things are a lot different. There is real disagreement about substance, for example about paleoclimate. And that’s the other thing. RC seems to be in the business of covering up these things and certainly keeping them out of the literature. It is just so counter to the way Judith runs this site and is a symptom of the problem climate science has. My personal opinion is that RC actually decreases the influence of the Team among the general public. I would advise Vuk that he shouldn’t waste his time asking Gavin for an indulgence for his sins. The Lord Gavin is a jeolous diety, visiting the sins of the fathers unto the third and forth generation of those who hate him, and will never be satisfied that Vuk is free of sin. And that’s the other thing: the total lack of a sense of humor among these people. It’s a sure sign of other “issues.”

      • On the credit side it appears that Gavin banned, or at least upset Tamino (Grant Foster) by deleting some of his posts too.

      • David,
        I have to agree with both you and Willis. Some of the rot that gets printed over their in support of AGW is exactly as you describe. Much scientce gets deleted because it runs counter to their beliefs. Tamino has banned me from posting on his site, mostly due to my objections over his modified temperature graph where he adjusts all the data since 1998 to conform to the rising trend of the 1990s.

    • David Springer

      re; Anthony Watts and banning

      I’m banned. Anthony doesn’t like my tone. He calls my opinions “angry”.

      Really. I couldn’t find on his site policy statement where “angry” opinions, whatever those are, are cause for banishment.

      So after he emailed me telling me to consider myself banned I said “Okay, no big deal.” So I started posting anonymously through a proxy server and as soon as he figured out it was me and blocked that name I’d change it.

      Now he claims I’m banned because site policy disallows posting under mulitple names. What a dork.

      • First Gleick confesses his hoax and now David Springer confesses his hoax.

        Is this hoax confessional week? Do we need a priest to sanctify the confessions?


      • Willis Eschenbach

        David Springer | February 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply

        re; Anthony Watts and banning

        I’m banned. Anthony doesn’t like my tone. He calls my opinions “angry”.

        Really. I couldn’t find on his site policy statement where “angry” opinions, whatever those are, are cause for banishment.

        So after he emailed me telling me to consider myself banned I said “Okay, no big deal.” So I started posting anonymously through a proxy server and as soon as he figured out it was me and blocked that name I’d change it.

        Now he claims I’m banned because site policy disallows posting under mulitple names. What a dork.

        I’m banned at Tallbloke’s Talkshop, and at Taminos. I would never stoop so low as to take up posting at either place under an assumed name. That is the deceptive and underhanded act of a belly-crawling scoundrel. I will not lie to either man and cravenly pretend to be someone else, that is a deeply dishonorable act.

        I’m glad you confessed that, Dave, it lets me know that the opinion I previously held of you was, if anything, too high. You should indeed be banned for posting under multiple names—it’s a sneaky underhanded thing to do on a good day, and it is a sleazy deceptive lie if you are already banned.

        I love the way you guys lie without a second’s thought, and then defend it and even boast about it when caught. The epitaph of the AGW movement has already been written by Megan McCardle:

        After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.

        OK, Dave … we’re convinced …


      • Willis, see you when you get here.

      • David Springer says: “I’m banned.”

        I’m a moderator on WUWT. I checked the private WUWT page for moderators that lists those banned for one reason or another. There is no Dave Springer listed. And there never was. I check the list often.

  68. Science 101: The Limitations Of Science


  69. It is no longer merely ‘academic,’ as in ‘having no practical purpose or use.’ Rather, it is more like a math test: you either pass or you fail and Al Gore earned an “F” and got a Nobel. Go figure.

    “Historians, long hence, will surely have a fascinating time analysing the rise and fall of the cult of catastrophic `global warming’. Even now it is possible to detect close parallels with the pattern of many traditional doomsday cults. And, it is particularly interesting to note that scientists are just as susceptible to such cults as non-scientists.

    “As a mere academic, I shall observe the progress of this particular cognitive dissonance with enthusiasm.”

    (Dr. Philip Stott, More On Cognitive Dissonance–“The End Of The World Is/Is Not Nigh!” –Wednesday, 20 August 2008)

  70. The paper Gavin cited is worth a look.


    in his reconstruction solar flux varies by about 0.1% from 800-2000 AD.

    However, in these paper’s;

    Horiuchi, K., T. Uchida, Y. Sakamoto, A. Ohta, H. Matsuzaki,
    Y. Shibata, and H. Motoyama. 2008.
    Ice core record of 10Be over the past millennium from Dome Fuji,
    Antarctica: A new proxy record of past solar activity and a
    powerful tool for stratigraphic dating.
    Quaternary Geochronology, Vol. 3, Issue 3, pp. 253-261,
    August 2008. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2008.01.003.

    Horiuchi, K., A. Ohta, T. Uchida, H. Matsuzaki, Y. Shibata,
    and H. Motoyama. 2007.
    Concentration of 10Be in an ice core from the Dome Fuji station,
    Eastern Antarctica: Preliminary results from 1500 to 1810 yr AD
    Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B:
    Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms, Vol. 259, Issue 1,
    June 2007, pp. 584-587. doi:10.1016/j.nimb.2007.01.306

    this data is presented


    Plot the inverse of [10Be] and compare to Gavins Figure 2.


    Now which line-shape does the proxy of cosmic ray flux, modified by solar activity, most match?

    I personally find that simulations that report +/- 0.1% somewhat suspect.
    I find that figures like those presented by Gavin et al., to be unsupported by internal or external controls, totally lacking in investigative imagination and quite typical of the field.

    • You need to read up on this stuff – all of the reconstructions are based on cosmogenic nuclide records – either 10Be or 14C. And they all resemble each other (though not perfectly). The issue is how you scale them to solar irradiance – for instance Steinhilber et al (SBF) and Shapiro et al (SEA) use exactly the same 10Be record, but they are scaled differently – SBF uses a chain of physical mechanisms (with some uncertainty of course), while SEA simply make an assumption about the state of the sun in grand minima with no physical basis. Whether they used the dome fuji 10Be or the NGRIP 10Be is completely irrelevant – the difference in scales apparent in the figure would persist.

      But if you prefer to trade insults, try this:

      I find that comments like those presented by DocMartyn et al., to be unsupported by internal or external controls, totally lacking in investigative integrity and quite typical of the blogosphere.

      I mean, really, what is the point?

      • ” totally lacking in investigative integrity ”

        no thats desmog bro!

      • Gavin, The direct effect of solar are obviously not enough to produce more than 0.1 C or so change on their own. The reality though is that the solar cycle or some natural variable close to the solar cycle in frequency has a greater impact on climate leading Lean and others to mistake the natural variability as solar impact.

        Mann et al 2012 noted the volcanic signature in the tree ring reconstructions and others have noted an apparent relationship between solar cycles, geomagnetic field strength and volcanic activity. I believe Richard Muller proposed a theory of the geomagnetic field fluctuation and glacial interglacial periods. With the north magnetic pole making a mad dash for Siberia, It may be that some of the wackier theorists may have been on to something? .

        In any case, there is some uncertainty in what is causing a signal that appears to follow the 11 year solar cycle, more strongly the 22 year Hale cycle and likely the 1500 year Daansgard-Oeschger- Bond cycles. Won’t it be a pip if nearly everyone was wrong?


        Seems to be a growing list of clyclomaniacs :)

      • The annual solar radiation maximum and minimum are 1,413 – 1,321 (W/m²) and the seasonal change in 10Be generation is about 2.
        From 700-1870 AD the maximum and minimum 10Be deposition levels are a factor of 2.
        As you have time machine, and you must use proxies, you come up with a steady state value for millennial fluctuations that is 1/30th of the annual variation, rather than calibrate 10Be to a known solar intensity change.

        You Gavin are a true climate scientist, the embodiment of all the qualities that the public have come to know.

      • Can’t read that link for some reason, but your scaling doesn’t work because the mechanisms of insolation variance over the annual cycle (distance from the sun) and over recent centuries (solar activity) are not equivalent for insolation and GCR. The latter depends on the solar magnetic field – which has a correlation, but is not tied directly to irradiance, and doesn’t necessarily have the same 1/r^2 dependence. Plus you can easily show that your scaling vastly overstates solar cycle variability for which we have abundant information.

        You DocMartyn are a true anonymous blog commenter, the embodiment of all the qualities that the public have come to know.

      • Gavin
        Science which can’t explain a major exception:
        350 years long record of no warming, 350 years long record of natural oscillation at the solar magnetic (Hale) cycle.
        is hardly ‘settled science’.

      • Gavin
        Re TSI vs CO2, See: Rawls on Solar-magnetic evidence omitted in AR5.
        Omitted variable fraud vast evidence for solar climate driver rates one oblique sentence in AR5, Posted on February 22, 2012 by Alec Rawls at WUWT

        My training is in economics where we are very familiar with what statisticians call “the omitted variable problem” (or when it is intentional, “omitted variable fraud”). Whenever an explanatory variable is omitted from a statistical analysis, its explanatory power gets misattributed to any correlated variables that are included. This problem is manifest at the very highest level of AR5, and is built into each step of its analysis. . . .
        The empirical evidence in favor of the solar explanation is overwhelming. Dozens of peer-reviewed studies have found a very high degree of correlation (.5 to .8) between solar-magnetic activity and global temperature going back many thousands of years (Bond 2001, Neff 2001, Shaviv 2003, Usoskin 2005, and many others listed below). In other words, solar activity “explains,” in the statistical sense, 50 to 80% of past temperature change. . . .
        So the 50% driver of global temperature according to mountains of temperature correlation data is assumed to have 1/40th the warming effect of something whose warming effect is not even discernable in the temperature record. This is on the input side of the GCM’s. . . .
        As a result, AR5 misattributes virtually all of the explanatory power of solar-magnetic activity to the correlated CO2 variable. . . .

  71. Teaching the Controversy s/b Debunking the Controversy

    Climate is extremely complex so only certain aspects could be covered in various grade levels. 5th and 6th include Forces in Nature which would be a logical age to introduce climate related information. However, children in this age range typically mimic what they hear a home and are subject to peer pressure.

    There are fundamental problems to getting materials into the classroom. Time to market, state adoption cycles, adoption review panels, cost, and state standards are just a few. Getting supplements into the classroom is subject to teacher preferences.

    Getting factually accurate information into the hands of the Editorial departments of the Textbook publishers and the news media would be a good idea. Opening a dialogue with Science teachers to determine what is currently making its way into the classroom is another. But, educating parents is probably the best approach.

    Reviewing what NASA is delivering to the classroom would also be a good start.

    • I suppose the biggest issue, who decides what is factually accurate and the degree of confidence related to the educated guesses in Climate Science?

      • Perhaps a concept map of Climate Science with concept nodes aligned to the various disciplines. A user interface for teachers and students would allow for the repurposing of climate concepts at any time related to all related disciplines.

        A common vocabulary of attributes could manage the various states of the concepts within the context of Climate Science.

        The common vocabulary could include degree of confidence which would immediately resolve the “Controversy” in the Science as specifically applied.

        IBM, Google, and Microsoft come to mind to fast track the implementation. May as well shoot for the stars ; )

      • Related: why are climate scientists attempting to waltz out of their discipline and proposing solutions to their own conclusions? What’s up with the psycho UN work groups — its like a bad remake of “Girls gone Bad”.

        – they aren’t educated in Industrial Engineering and Industrial Design
        – they aren’t educated in City and Regional Planning
        – they aren’t educated in the Economics

        the list of qualifications is an endless reason they should have never been allow to to this, yet its OK?

      • Do you mean mt?

  72. The arguments of the AGW True Believers have come to mimic in their own way the ‘Hockey Stick’ program of their messianic leader. It took years for concerned scientists to ferret out the supposed data that underlie the ‘Hockey Stick.’ And, then there was all that effort to discern the credibility of the data that was used.

    However, once the program itself was finally obtained, the joke was on everyone and real scientists had a field day proving its falsity. The best proof is to simply run the results of a random number generator through Mann’s program: you find that the program does nothing but produce hockey-stick graphs, over and over and over again.

    Of course, it also means that all of the filing cabinets full of Global Warming ‘science’ that is based on Mann’s work, and the work of his retinue of incestuous associates, are completely worthless …

  73. The word ‘teach’ is everywhere here. Teaching is just one method (out of many); learning is the desired goal. Provide resources and opportunities for learning. If we have to depend upon teachers, the outcomes will be mixed and uncertain, as teachers vary. With a good teacher, the students will learn how to do science; with a bad teacher, the students will be taught ‘the science’

    curryja commented that profs have academic freedom. That would not apply to K-12, and in this case it is the students who need academic freedom. I can’t imagine skeptic students could survive a climate science course taught be a member of the team.

    • “I can’t imagine skeptic students could survive a climate science course taught be a member of the team.”

      It would be an elective, only warmist would take the course knowing what you state and they would be “the future of climate science”. Try finding a conservative at the Columbia School of Journalism for example.

      It’s just another social and political enclave and it will be refined even more before it dies a horrid but justified death of defunding. There is something desperate and perverse in all the energy trying to get this into classrooms with AGW “science” by any other brand. Next comes the Girl Scout connections and so on.

      Eventually someone is offering a carton of cigarettes and a ride from the Methadone clinic to the polling booth to do the right thing “for the people” on a climate vote, I can see it coming. It’s all the same process with the same bad actors in different degrees.

      Forty acres and a mule was more dignified frankly.

  74. Judith, I notice that we’re back to having question marks in the middle of phrases :-) . I’m sure that can’t be good grammar.
    But. anyway, if there is a controversy it has to be between those who argue that AGW is potentially dangerous and those, like, Lindzen who would claim otherwise.
    You, yourself, have suggested a range of 1-6 degC for climate sensitivity at the 66% level. That means there is a 17% chance of a very modest amount of global warming and equally a 17% chance of a catastrophic temperature rise if CO2 concentrations are allowed to rise out of all control this century.
    So, you’d have to count yourself among the former rather than the latter

    • TT, i have stated many times that the bounds 1-6C do not imply anything about the shape of the distribution or how much can be put on each tail. The magnitude of equilibrium sensitivity (whatever that really is) is substantially larger than what would translate into warming for the 21st century. The actual state of the climate over next century then depends what natural variability does (solar, volcanoes, ocean oscillations), and whether or not this is greater than the anthropogenic effects. And whether any of this change is “dangerous” has not been established in any convincing way.

      Just putting your statement into perspective.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      ‘Understanding the limits of predictability is the key challenge. The arrogant species is fooling itself if we think we can ‘project’ the state of the climate in 50 years or 100 years, even if we somehow knew what the anthropogenic forcing would be. Yes, it seems that all other things being equal, the climate would be warmer with more CO2, but there is no reason at all to expect all other factors to remain the same.’ Op. Cit.

      I would put it more bluntly – you are a simple minded twit with delusions of profundity.

    • Judith,

      The last time we discussed this I did make the point that, regardless of the shape of the distribution, the actual sensitivity (whatever that really is) is equally likely to be higher or lower than any estimated range. You didn’t argue with that statement.
      Furthermore, the effect of AGW isn’t just a 21st century issue. We’ll all be just as dead in the year 2099 as 2199 and beyond. So why should this century be the only one considered? You’ll have read John Archers book “The Long Thaw”. There he make the point that AGW will be an irreversible process which will last for thousands of years.

  75. Perhaps students should be taught the history of science.

    A perspective on the search for truth and how this has faired in the light of dogmatism and predjudice might give a better framework for understanding current problems than oversimplified, as possibly incorrect, climate science.

    The misery and suffreing that has been endured in the history of Medicine is a good starting point.

    • “The misery and suffreing that has been endured in the history of Medicine is a good starting point”

      That is somewhat unfair, medicine has probably has a slightly lower levels of misguided dogma, charlatans, crackpots and empire builders than any other area of science. However, the results of poor medical performance are much more visible than alchemy/chemistry or the principles of metallurgy.
      Poppers principles, although normally unattainable, are a very good starting point.

  76. “Teach the controversy” – why? It’s important to us, but we are few. Children are supposed to be taught things that will be useful to them in future years. How does it help them to be taught what a few folk were nattering about in 2012?

    I hope David Wojick will post a list of proposed examination questions.

    • Seems pretty obvious why you teach the controversy. First, it is true that there is a controversy. Second, showing the opposing points is a great way to explain the principles involved. Third, as mentioned frequently here, it trains the mind in making judgements.

      Else what will we do when we try to tell them why we sent Americans of Japanese origin to internment camps, or practiced eugenics?

      Given that we don’t know the sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2, the most we will be teaching is an unfinished story. If I were in a classroom that would be my starting point–we haven’t written the end to the story yet.

  77. Hi Judith, you had me agreeing with you till you mentioned the name Randy Olson. A little background on Randy:
    Flock of Dodos Filmmaker Claims Haeckel’s Embryo Drawings Weren’t in Modern Textbooks–But They Really Are

    Were Ernst Haeckel’s bogus embryo diagrams ever used in modern textbooks to prove evolution? Not according to filmmaker Olson, who in the film portrays biologist Jonathan Wells as a fraud for claiming in his book Icons of Evolution (2000) that modern biology textbooks continue to reprint Haeckel-based drawings.
    But it turns out that Olson is the one who is promoting a fraud. The diagrams in question were unquestionably used in modern textbooks.

    Ignorance is no excuse. At a pre-release screening of Olson’s film at the Scripps Institution for Oceanography in San Diego in April, 2006, Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin confronted Olson with copies of recent textbooks that reused Haeckel’s drawings.

    • My approach to teaching would be that the ends justify the means. The details of embryo drawings are irrelevant. If false embryo drawings make kids go away understanding the theory better then use the drawings.

      It’s like the peppered moth example of natural selection. I hear that the simple version kids are taught in schools is actually wrong – in fact I hear that about a lot of stuff taught in schools.

      But who cares? Natural selection exists and if a peppered moth example, whether or not it’s true, is effective at conveying to kids what natural selection is then use it.

      If the absolute truth in all it’s complex detail would lead to only 10% of the class understanding the concept, but using a simple “lie” leads to 90% of the class to understanding the concept, I would always teach the “lie”.

      I know some people will say good job I am not a teacher.

      • lolwot –

        “I know some people will say good job I am not a teacher.”

        Sadly, too many teachers are like you.

        The important question, though, is how would you react to a student who pointed out the lie and was able to capably back up her position? Would you double down and censure the student to maintain authority, or would you admit you had told a lie to simplify an explanation?

      • lolwot, you’re not even a good person from all that I can see. “I would always teach the lie”? Do you work at the NY Times or for the TEAM??

      • I am actually from the area that the original study was done, just outside Birmingham.
        In light of criticism of the original Kettlewell experiments in 1953 and 1955, the levels of predation of differently melanic forms of Peppered Moths experiment was repeated annually from 2001 to 2007, with feedback from critics by one of the worlds finest evolutionary biologists, Mike Majerus.
        Non-morph specific predation of peppered moths (Biston betularia) by bats
        MICHAEL E. N. MAJERUS Ecological Entomology, Volume 33, Issue 5, pages 679–683, 2008

        open access lecture


        He died of cancer at a young age and as well as being smart was loved by all who worked with him.

      • “how would you react to a student who pointed out the lie and was able to capably back up her position?”

        I would say “well done” and explain that the thing was used as a teaching device.

      • lolwot –

        Really, the only acceptable answer, isn’t it? Probably another reason it’s best you don’t teach.

        I asked because my children were taught (when we homeschooled) that anything could be challenged, but that they had to be able to back up their position. When we (reluctantly) put them in public school we discovered that far too many teachers had the opposite reaction – it seemed that a challenge of their material was a challenge to their authority. The kids have learned to parrot in public, think in private. Really quite sad.

        Based on this experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that the curriculum matters far less than the teacher: the few good teachers will encourage and develop independent thought, while the rest will turn out unthinking drones. This will happen regardless of what the teacher is told to teach.

  78. Some things shouldn’t have to be taught. Some things are just common sense.

    “Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments….

    “Meantime, we need to continue research into this, the most complex field of science ever tackled, and immediately halt wasted expenditures on the King Canute-like task of ‘stopping climate change.'”

    –R. Timothy Patterson (professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University)

  79. Hey, kids, take a walk on the cool side.

    John Whitman @12.14.

  80. A sure sign of moral decline is the example of the Left that smeared job takers as “hamburger flippers” and demonizes Wal-Mart for employing the unemployed during the Bush administration while it now glorifies those who take government money to do little more than wave a thermometer in the air and cry “fire” in crowded theaters.

    • moral decline! is that due to the sun as well?

      • The poor AGW True Believer. He seays, “I ground my teeth in despair, and with sobs and oaths I went on and roared wildly, paying no attention to the people going by. I started once more to punish my flesh, ran my forehead deliberately against lampposts, drove my fingernails deep into the backs of my hands, bit my tongue madly every time it failed to pronounce clearly and then laughed wildly whenever I caused a fairly good pain.” (Hunger)

        Such is the life of a Hot World Syndrome sufferer. Won’t you give so these poor unfortunates can find peace.

        Just a small donation will help us help these simple folk. For just a few pennies a day, these simple folks can be resettled into a virgin area where there are no distractions like light, heat, clean water, food or transportation. …

  81. I find a lot of this deeply serious debate quite amusing and this is why. I spent over twenty years in instrumentation and control, so I have a pretty good idea about how physical and chemical variables are measured. I then spent the next twelve years teaching 5-11 year olds as a Primary school teacher. I now teach student teachers general science as well as other subjects in a major teaching university.
    The reason I find most of the debate here rather over serious, is because it is enough as it is to get kids to understand basic science, such as the concept of heat as energy. Many of them think we let the cold in when you open the window rather than the heat out (in chilly England) Sadly that is also often the case with many of the students as well, as many of them have not majored in any of the sciences. Yet folk seem to think it apt and proper to ask them to debate a topic in a subject area that they know so little about!
    I think there are too many carts appearing before too many horses in science education. To be honest the TV series The Big Bang Theory has done more to advance the standing of science in the eyes of the younger generations than nearly all of the climate scientists and speculators/bloggers put together.
    Maybe, just maybe we should go back to teaching basic science to K-12, after all there is plenty of it, and leave the controversy for the degree courses? Just a thought from the front lines of science teaching.

    • “I spent over twenty years in instrumentation and control”

      Take 100 $5.00 thermocouples and have they recording temperature for 365 days in a box outside. How many of them will be off spec in day 366?

  82. What we should teach at school regarding AGW should include the following:

    Global warming has produced several ways of looking at the world. Here’s one:

    If you take the highest temperature of a day (Tmax) and add the lowest temperature of that day (Tmin), you get a number. Divide that number by two and you get an average for the day. If you add up the numbers for a month and plot them on a chart and compare it to the previous year, you get a better idea. If you add up all the numbers for a year and compare it to previous years, you get the chart below:


    Or do you? What if the temperatures are taken with different thermometers and thermocouples, and some of them are near a hot piece of asphalt and others have been moved to a busy airport? What if the first part of your series isn’t thermometers at all, but from estimates of temperature derived from analysis of the thickness of tree rings? And what if those estimates are suspect, declining during a period when we know temperatures rose?
    The chart above was used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in their 3rd report on the state of the Earth’s climate, called TAR and published in 2001. Its dramatic shape and view—that temperatures were rising faster than they ever had—that we were moving into uncharted and dangerous territory. That we needed to act now…
    Here is another way of looking at the world (http://bit.ly/5pcHs6)—and it’s the way we looked at temperatures for close on to 40 years, before worries about global warming made the previous chart popular.

    Page 11-12
    Steven Mosher
    Thomas W. Fuller

    • Really? is that an extract from the actual book?

      “Here is another way of looking at the world http://bit.ly/5pcHs6

      You’ve got to be kidding me. Why is this “way of looking at the world” immune to hot pieces of asphalt and busy airports? Why isn’t it mentioned that this series also doesn’t start with thermometer data.

      It’s funny how the actual post-Mann millennial reconstructions at picked to pieces by skeptics, but that olde Lamb schematic is flagged through as some kind of ancient “truth”. Part of the old “if it’s not IPCC I have no reason to deny it” syndrome?

      • most of us suspect that Lamb wasn’t trying to ‘prove’ anything.

      • lolwot, the point we were making in the book was that Lamb’s chart was adequate for the purposes of the time. We know it wasn’t based on thermometer readings. But the general shape was commonly accepted, as were phenomena such as the Medieval Warming Period and Little Ice Age. It was good enough for guidance until somebody started saying the MWP didn’t happen…

      • Yes, Initially I was going to tie the lamb chart into the discussion about how the Lamb chart made its way into the IPCC reports.
        The error was covered in One of Jones mails. Folland put the chart in.

        Jones explained that they had corrected Lambs mistake in the literature, BUT to preserve his reputation they published the correction in an obscure journal.

        Care to discuss that?

        bascially, I was going to argue how things like british pride drove Jones.
        But I had nothing other than my gut feel to go on.. and the mail about Lamb

      • “the point we were making in the book was that Lamb’s chart was adequate for the purposes of the time. We know it wasn’t based on thermometer readings. But the general shape was commonly accepted”

        Is “commonly accepted” shorthand for “it was the consensus”?

  83. Three cheers for Judith Curry in starting this thread! I’ve just come across it, and look forward to coming back later to study her post and the comments with more care. And also for her Climate Classroom thread which I also want to get back to.

    I do believe the deliberate scaremongering in some climate materials aimed at children must be very harmful. Since my view is that there is no sufficient justification for it, I see it as one of the most pernicious of the harms that are being caused by intemperate and irresponsible promotion of CO2 as a major, even dominant driver of climate (recently being tempered somewhat since Mother Nature keeps refusing to play along with it). I see it as a basic adult responsibility to protect children from ill-founded fears, and from having their outlook on their future clouded by negative thinking and vivid imagery of melting icecaps, flooded cities, deadly technology, and so on. That has been reprehensible.

    The tricky task of clearing up the educational mess made by the very successful promotion of alarm about CO2 and global warming, and the deliberate efforts to recruit children, often through fear, as activists for ‘the cause’ is going to call for a great deal of thought and compassion. Although, from time to time, one comes across reports that some children have been bored by relentless alarmism, and regard it, and the teachers who push it, with contempt and derision. Perhaps that is an example of the negative feedback mechanisms that so abound in our world, and help keep it on a reasonably even keel.

    • Markus Fitzhenry

      ‘Although, from time to time, one comes across reports that some children have been bored by relentless alarmism, and regard it, and the teachers who push it, with contempt and derision. Perhaps that is an example of the negative feedback mechanisms that so abound in our world, and help keep it on a reasonably even keel.’

      Another big feedback is insurrection, a really great leveler.

    • As I posted elsewhere:

      “In a way, my hope is generational: the tendency of youth to reject triumphantly and vociferously whatever they see as “the errors and biases” of the preceding generation. Destructive and ill-informed as that often is, it at least puts some limits on the effectiveness of the pervasive indoctrination.”

  84. Kim @4.45pm

    ‘….Credentials don’t count, it’s the content of the conversation.
    Now, we can all strut around naked.’

    LOL, better not, Kim.
    ‘ It’s cooling folks how much…..’

  85. The public is wising up. The public is way out front of what is being taught in schools. The public doesn’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

    Joe the Plumber is on to Climatology dodge. The public knows the models of the AGW witchdoctors are bogus and that politicians lie.

    Unfortunately, we have come to learn that Western scientists have become experts only in self deception and mass delusion. While the AGW faithful are free to light candles and ask their sainted Al Gore for His divine guidance, the public has put the babble of prophets like Michael Mann on ignore.

    Real people prefer to live in reality. Real people look for real solutions to real problems. AGW True Believers offer nothing to society but phony solutions to imagined problems.

  86. So when do you teach them how thermometers work or the difference between a thermocouple and a thermistor and where errors in measurements using them occur? If they do not understand that, then how can they build any useful sets of data let alone argue about them?

    But then we do seem to have a lot of clever climate scientists who can stitch together trees, thermometers, thermocouples, thermistors and microwaves all into one smooth curve on a graph all without error bars! Amazing…..(sarc for sure)

  87. What should be taught to students is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    The atmospheric radiative greenhouse effect is fallacious because it is based on false assumptions about absorptivity.

    When scientists try to explain why the Second Law of Thermodynamics is valid for radiation (as well as conduction) they consider two parallel plates at different temperatures radiating at each other. In such a case it is easy to say, “Net radiation is clearly from hot to cold, so heat transfers from hot to cold, so all is in agreement with the Second Law which states that’s what should happen.”

    They are, in effect, calculating the difference between the radiation in each direction as if that in each direction were having an effect in transferring some amount of thermal energy between the plates.

    So, in this particular case, the net radiative flux also happens to be in the same direction as the net transfer of thermal energy.

    But what happens if you can somehow filter out the radiation from the hotter body, so only the radiation from the cooler body reaches the hotter one? Or, what happens if you concentrate more radiation from the cooler body onto the hotter one using a concentrator such as a reflective funnel – like the funnels used to cook food with sunlight? Then, if you do your calculations based on two-way radiation concepts, you can get the wrong answer, now can’t you?

    So the Second Law of Thermodynamics for radiation can only be valid in all circumstances if your calculations only include the component of radiation from hot to cold. This invalidates the atmospheric radiative greenhouse conjecture which assumes “backradiation” can further warm a warmer surface, even when it is getting hotter every sunny morning.

    The way it must work is in fact the way Prof Claes Johnson has explained in his Computational Blackbody Radiation.. Radiation from the cooler body merely resonates and is rejected (or scattered) by the hotter one without its radiated energy being converted to thermal energy.

    So, you cannot always apply mean absorptivity factors which were originally calculated empirically from radiation from a hotter source. The effective absorptivity when radiation from a cooler source strikes a warmer target must be zero.

    • Addendum: This* indicates that absorptivity is actually determined, not by any warming effect, but by measuring reflected radiation in the visible spectrum.

      I am saying that absorptivity cuts out (ie goes to zero) when the source becomes cooler that the target, which of course is not the case by a long shot when making these measurements using much higher frequency radiation than that contained in all spontaneous radiation from the atmosphere.

      Hence, for proponents of the radiative greenhouse conjecture to use such measures of absorptivity of light (which are close to unity) and thus to assume the surface absorbs “backradiation” is a complete abuse of physics.

      * http://naca.central.cranfield.ac.uk/reports/arc/cp/0601.pdf

  88. Er, cold is a lack of heat, not a lot of cold, simples!

    • Markus Fitzhenry

      ‘Er, cold is a lack of heat, not a lot of cold, simples!’

      Er, cold (other than in a vacuum) is a effect from the force of pressure on isolation or lack of, as is heat. More dense, more cold, less dense more heat. simples!

  89. “Training classes will be held to teach the older girls about this issue and then they will teach younger children through seminars and lectures about global warming.”

    The face of Climate “education” in the Girl Scouts;


    Then there are many Climate “Camps” for young people to get the “right” values at a young age;



    “Coinciding with the United Nations Climate Change Conference held last Dec. 7-Dec. 18 in Copenhagen, Denmark, we focused this year’s ICARE theme on climate change. Throughout the week, the young people discussed different climate issues as seen from their point of view and how they are related to children’s rights. The young people delved into various creative activities and produced striking works of art and videos that related to climate change issues. Despite the differences in socioeconomic backgrounds, language and culture, the young people found a common ground and managed to create bridges of understanding and respect and forged unique bonds of friendship.”


    “The three-day camp is part of a national program created by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, which teaches kids how to develop campaigns to fight global warming.”


    Of course, if warming nutters want to send their kids to these camps it’s their right. Having them get into a general science class at school? That’s another can of worms. In short, over my cold dead body. I find it somewhat laughable that Dr. Curry thinks she would be impacting actual content beyond her own sphere in her advocacy of Climate education. It will be a unique but rhyming freak show where ever it is rolled out. A FUBAR of national scaling.

  90. The environment has been a pain-in-the-ass ever since it was discovered in 1975.

    Why not just keep it out of schools ?

    • From my school:

      Plant a tree in 73 (I did)
      Need some more in 74 (again).

      The results of this school based attempt to make Britain an arboreal paradise were sadly disappointing; that’s Birmingham for you (for Americans, imagine Detroit but without the glamor).

      • Doc, I was in Birmingham a couple of years back and it was actually quite nice. They spruced it up a bit for the EU Cultural City thing. (And I didn’t get far from the city centre–might be hell outside of it, don’t know.) But I had a nice time there.

      • “imagine Detroit but without the glamor”

        That’s cold, Doc.

  91. Why was my comment removed? I suspect it may have been because my given name is Doug. lol

  92. Science confronts controversy and eventually resolves it. Admit controversy and follow the science. Deny controversy and science is irrelevant.

  93. Climate change or global warming is already being taught in school, and it’s already being taught from only one side, using materials by advocacy groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and the WWF.
    My 7 year old godson was bringing home papers and learning songs about how he needed to ‘save the earth’ from global warming when he was in Headstart at the age of 4.

    Consider this teacher’s guide for K-12 educators to use in public schools when they teach about Global Warming:

    Connecticut has this website for teachers of all ages to use:

    In fact, I bet if you check your state’s educational standards, which you can easily find online, you will find similar materials recommended in every state..

  94. Why do children need to know about ‘global warming’?

    How will they utilize this information at such a young age?

    How will this information promote intellectual development at such a young age?

    It is pure propaganda and political indoctrination – or worse religious instruction.

    When I think about my youth, how many scientific speculations have subsequently been proved to be wrong?

    Why not focus on the basics? Or better yet, critical thinking?

    Al Gore wants to teach doomsday? The Heartland Institute wants to teach something else. I say neither.

    Total idiocy in my opinion.

    • Old Navy,
      You make a point wort highlighting:
      Critical thinking is the number one skill, whether one is in art, science or letters. And it is easily the least taught skill in education at all levels.

  95. Can we all agree that one thing for sure should in K1-12 science? The Gleick Hoax of the early 21st Century should be mandatory subject matter.


  96. Another blog offers a reasonable explanation for the erosion of classroom teaching skills in Australia:


    “Creeping international(ist) socialism that is steadily eroding our right to self-determination, both as individuals and as a sovereign nation.”

    Do other readers also see “creeping international socialism” as a common thread in many of society’s problems today, including the continuing AGW debate?

  97. curious george

    Which of the following ad hoc list is /is not a science?

    1) Physics
    2) Solid state physics
    3) Semiconductor physics
    4) Transistor physics
    5) Atmospheric science
    6) Meteorology
    7) Climate science
    8) Climate change science
    9) Anthropogenic climate change science
    10) Mathematics
    11) Statistics
    12) Political science
    13) Conflict resolution science

  98. Dr. Curry, I cannot fathom why you would wait until the “last two weeks” of the class to devote to the “climate change problem.”

    It’s not like the Problem is a final exam. The Answers are not in the back of any book to be believed. The “Problem” is one of the most important reasons for taking the course. As such it should be presented early on. The “Answers” will be slow in coming, but your students might be better off evaluating answers during class.

    • Stephen, I agree that it doesn’t fit the title “Climate and Global Change” very well (perhaps there needs to be separate courses), but keep in mind that what degree-seeking students need to learn about climate isn’t usually associated with stuff you’d find, for example, in an IPCC report (which is not textbook, although any atmospheric science student should have some acquaintance with that before they graduate) or that is discussed in blogs.

      Instead, learning the physics of the atmosphere requires learning a lot of concepts or terminology like “potential temperature,” geostrophic wind, Bjerkness feedbacks, atmospheric stability, or the dynamics of phenomenon like monsoons, African easterly waves, tropical cyclogenesis, or the factors that control the width of the Hadley Circulation. Very often, little of it has to do with understanding the broader “climate change” issues, but many are concepts that any educated student must understand before they have the tools to assess the literature.

      • Markus Fitzhenry.

        Chris Colose says;

        Instead, learning the physics of the atmosphere requires learning a lot of concepts.”

        You’re right then they could discuss something like this concept.

        P * V = n * R * T
         P * V / R / n = T

        n = (1.225 kg/m^3) / (0.02896 kg/mol) = 42.30 mol/kg

        now, P being average of 101325 Pa so:
        101325[P] * 1[V] / 8.31451[R] / 42.30[n] = 288.10 K mean surface temperature.

        Since ‘P’, ‘V’, ‘R’, and ‘n’ are averaged constants here on Earth; therefore, the mean temperature is also constant on the average at the surface.

        Now the only change I see possible is CO2 moves from 0.000398 fraction of the air to a 0.000598 fraction that will affect the ‘n’ and the ‘P’ very slightly. The pressure (P) would increase to 101345 and the ‘n’ number of moles per kg should decrease to 42.29.

        Rerun the calc:
        101345[P] * 1[V] / 8.31451[R] / 42.29[n] = 288.22 K mean surface temperature.


      • No Markus, it’s not as simple as that. When you add that 200 ppm and raise the temperature at the base of the atmosphere by 0.12K due to changes in the adiabatic lapse rate, itself being a function of the mass of the atmosphere and the acceleration due to gravity, you then have also to raise the surface end of the core to surface temperature plot – so that plot is raised a little all the way from the core. Hence this requires a very significant input of thermal energy, or blocking of the flow for perhaps a few thousand years.

        It is far more probable that the atmospheric temperature plot will lower, but only at the tropopause end. After all, far lower temperatures are seen in Antarctica, yet we have similar lapse rates I presume.

        So, at least within a few thousands years you would not achieve that 0.12K just by adding 200 ppm of CO2.

        Mind you, natural cycles with periodicity of about 1,000 years will continue, producing anomalies of about 2 K above and below the level trend, similar to MWP and LIA. Just add the 60 year superimposed cycle with maximum nodes around 1998, 2058 … and plug in a maximum in the 1,000 year cycle in about 50 to 200 years – and there you have it.

        Sorry Co2, you missed out on the action.

        It’s all in http://climate-change-theory.com

      • This might be a good time for a ‘spot the error’ exercise :-)

      • Chris, by your logic I must teach you quantumchromodynamics and Feynman diagrams before I let you evaluate why and when quantum theory is important and better than Newtonian Physics. I reject that notion.

        Do you prefer to indoctrinate the student in details and red herrings before allowing them to think about the broad problem? I prefer the more scientific approach of observation, hypothesis, testing and evaluation. Start with the big questions and find the pieces of the answers and identify the blind alleys as you learn.

      • Markus Fitzhenry

        Chris Colose | February 22, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
        This might be a good time for a ‘spot the error’ exercise :-)”

        I found one Chris. You say Co2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries, I agree, only my future atmospheric Co2 particles won’t be centuries old.

        “Weather and Climate by the University at Albany’s Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences Dept.
        Recent CO2 emissions and a long-term perspective
        November 8, 2011 at 11:20 pm by Chris Colose

        It also follows from this that any attempt for a “fast action” solution to cool global temperature would need to be sustained for centuries (some ideas, such as pumping reflective particles in the air to block sunlight, no longer work when the project is terminated, even though CO2 remains in the atmosphere for centuries).”

        I seriously hope the students out there in Alabama are being taught the controversy. Going by the contents of your article, they really need it.

      • Markus;
        0.12K per 200 ppm? A gross exaggeration! At least a magnitude too high. Or maybe the wrong sign.

    • Stephen,

      While the romantic versions of science are nice to hear, the fact is that most K-12 students learn science or mathematics by being told something and memorizing it. It might not be ideal, but with few exceptions it’s very hard to get the student constructing their own thoughts about why electron clouds work how they do, why quantum theory is needed to describe the spectral radiance from a blackbody, etc. There are some good, basic experiments that can supplement chemistry or physics labs but they are rather limited in what the student can understand or what is within the scope of the course. And very little of it gives the student the tools to read a publication in a physics journal and valuate its merit. Not much changes at the lower, undergraduate level where people need basic courses or need to fill electives. If you need proof of this, next time you go to a physics class, put this in front of the students:

      “The authors present a theoretical study of the transient electron transport in the multiple quantum dots (QDs) systems forced by the suddenly applied bias voltage. The authors argue that a careful inspection of the transient current beat patterns can provide information about the inter-dot hopping amplitudes, quantum dots energy levels and their occupancies before the abrupt change of the bias voltage is made.” (this is just the first result when I went to the Applied Physics section of http://journals.aip.org/)

      Then, tell the students to gather their thoughts, judge for themselves, and submit their opinions within the hour.

      Now you might think climate is different, because we have some connection to climate, and people know what the word ‘oceans’ mean more than they know what ‘quantum dots’ means. And of course youtube and WUWT exist, which means everyone is an expert on climate.

      But I’ll tell you that it ain’t so. If you’re going to actually *learn* what you’re being told, to the point beyond memorization and where you can critically assess what other authors are doing, then you need a solid initiation into the subject at a degree-seeking level. For climate, you can’t do this without some quantitative background in thermodynamics, dynamics, and radiation. That doesn’t mean you need to know all the textbook material, but if you’re going to go to seminars, read journals, etc, then you just have to develop that background. Or we can just do this approach:

      • Stick to the subject, Chris. It was about a Georgia Tech class taught to seniors and graduate students.

        Pathetic – how you suddenly tried to change the subject to K-12.

  99. No “Reply” button on the post: Oliver K. Manuel | February 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

         I am sure there is a reason but I wish to reply anyway.
         Your comments always provide food for thought, Oliver. Thank you for making them.

  100. Willis Eschenbach

    curryja | February 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    Willis, I do not want to derail the productive discussion on this thread into a rehash of who thinks what about climategate.

    Hey, I tend to take it personally when Dr. Kim says “unrelenting and often disingenuous attacks” from folke like me the reason the climategate folks did all the bad things they did. And I can understand that you don’t want to discuss that, here or anywhere else.

    Kim Cobb | February 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    I appreciate your clear defense of me as a reasonable human being.
    And Willis, I have been quite critical of climate science messaging and missteps (publicly, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfWgbHb4HjU and more to the point http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_G-4Kb5keA), and would like to think that I’m in a long-term process of reflection about how best to increase the public’s understanding of climate science.

    Thanks, Dr. Kim. Call me crazy, but when you say:

    But in my professional opinion, these [Climategate] e-mails reveal nothing more than brief, emotion-fueled remarks made in the face of unrelenting and often disingenuous attacks.

    that is not being “critical” of anything. It is being supportive of a lie, the lie that there was nothing sinister or underhanded revealed by the climategate emails.

    However, since Judith doesn’t want this discussed, I’ll let you go back to telling each other how reasonable the other one is, and pretending that the real problem is not the rampant corruption and scientific malfeasance in the field, but, how did you put it … “how best to increase the public’s understanding of climate science” … yeah, that’s the ticket …

    I’ve got bad news, Dr. Cobb. That’s not an issue in any form at this point. That issue died in late 2009. As Megan McCardle recently pointed out,

    After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.

    That is the position you are in now, that is the problem you face, and discussing how to “increase the public’s understanding” is just rearranging the deck chairs. I leave you both to it.


    • Andrew Russell

      “rampant corruption and scientific malfeasance” – and that is the real problem that “climate scientists” like Cobb and Dr. Curry REFUSE to face.

      Or, as someone said here a few months ago, “The problem is not bad communication. The problem is bad actions by bad actors. It is compounded by the fact that you, Judith, and the overwhelming majority of AGW climate scientists, refuse to name names.

      As a result, the bad actors suffer no loss for lying, cheating, and stealing. Not only that, but they continue with their scientific malfeasance and NOBODY SAYS A WORD.”

      Gee, I wonder who said that?

    • David Springer

      Hi Willis,

      Did you get banned at WUWT like I did or are you just slumming?

    • For people who are supposed to be smart it always amazes me that people like Kim Cobb do not see that when scientists act like advocates it undermines the science and actually creates scepticism. People who have any experience of life know a scam when they see one. That is what you are up against Kim Cobb, Chris Colose and friends. The educated public may not understand the science but they know a scam when they see one. And every time you act as an advocate not a scientist you are simply confirming what we already know.

  101. here’s my quick idea.
    keep present programs – cagw curricula.
    apply a scientific social and ethical (AGU?) analysis to it.
    establish another faculty, collect agw material in one spot e.g. a resource centre.
    ask questions like ‘so how are the polar bears ?’

    • invite a polar bear to give a guest lecture

      • Eezy-Peezy, send all Federal climate research funding through the Georgia Tech Dept. of Meteorology for its imprimature. If Judy says it’s climate science, I say it’s climate science.

      • Poor Judy, the washerwoman. ‘It’s not climate science until I say it’s climate science’. At least the prototype had clean underwear to deal with.

      • war of kimbots

      • Where’s the BeefBot?

  102. Here’s my two cents.

    I do not remember ANY current controversies taught in my high school biology, chemistry or physics classes. The focus was entirely on teaching the (very–this is high school) elementary principles of (for instance) genetics, valence and bonding, and classical mechanics (with a itty bitty taste of special relativity at the end). There were labs–mostly giving us an appreciation of how difficult it really is to run a good experiment. Our data was all over the effing place. Our styrofoam calorimeters were shit. The strobe polaroids were difficult to read. The fetal pig was incomprehensibly messy. And so it goes. I do not remember any of my science teachers trying to explicitly inculcate anything like (something called) critical thinking. Rather, they taught us a lot of taxonomy, definitions and a little bit of theory… And dumped us into the deep end of dissection and experiments, which bewildered us.

    The lesson was clear: The data is unruly and doing real empirical science must be very hard.

    What’s wrong with that? Why do high school students need much else?

    When I teach undergraduates, my fervent hope is that they know their addition and multiplication tables. That is all I ask. Is that so much for an old man to ask?

    • apologies, your multiple attempts got caught in spam

    • “I do not remember ANY current controversies taught in my high school biology, chemistry or physics classes”

      Didn’t you get the Darwin vs. religious views? The Monkey Trial?

      In chemistry, didn’t you have the history of the discovery of oxygen? Rutherford and the cannon-ball against tissue paper? The dew-drop model?

      In physics didn’t they at least mention Watt and the industrial revolution and the reason for the development of thermodynamics (to make better steam engines)?

      Do you have no history of science?

      • Doc,

        Zero history of science. No social or political history of science. At least, not in science classes.

  103. Might as well admit, ‘I was a *teacher* and proud of it.’ H/T “The Mummy’s Curse.” Yeah, I know the teaching profession is in thrall to green ideology but my curriculum was strong on critical thinking.’Let’s just have a look at Western Life expectancy figures pre/post Industrial Revolution.’
    We wrote and performed our own history dramas. A couple of times did an impromtu performance of Pink Floyd’s ‘ Teacher, leave them kids alone.’ Could you do that now?
    Tonyb, – wrote a 4 page history of the western world world, ‘a millenia guilt trip,’ had fun with the Dark Ages and Greek chorus tableaux and a collapsing Fellini ending.

    • Hi Beth, I flipped down to the bottom of this thread to say something about another lady teacher and saw this delightful contribution. How much we rely on the inspiration on real teachers to protect against raw propaganda and how grateful we should always be for them. Anything David Wojick produces – and all strength to his elbow – cannot replace that.

      What I originally wanted to say here is that I don’t have time to read the comments but I’ve skimmed what Judith Curry said and all I could think was in this area, of all areas, I have nothing to add. I am convinced this lady is a truly great teacher. It’s not just about teaching the controversy, it’s the way you do it. I pray she becomes a model for teachers everywhere.

    • Beth, I love you and want to have your children.

      Seriously, though, when/where was this?

      • Hm, I think you want her to have your children. Different thing, sort of!

        We can but hope that such subversive teachers are still out there. Judging from student feedback currently, it seems a faint hope. The teaching profession seems to have undertaken/undergone several successful ideological pogroms.

      • BrianH – thanks, but I know what I said. :-)

      • BrianH if I’d wanted her to have my children, I would have told her where she could pick them up. (h/y Groucho Marx)

    • Beth

      If you have the document in a digital form I would very much like to read it

  104. Michael Larkin

    Before I went to university, I was taught at Roman Catholic schools by staff who included nuns and priests. No controversy about Catholicism was ever taught there. So: today I’m a robotic, indoctrinated Catholic, yes?

    Nah. Fact is, many of us, particularly in the last few years at school, had figured out for ourselves that much of RC doctrine was BS. For a while, I even became an atheist. Today, I have my own views on spirituality, and those are very important to me, but I’m sure many of my erstwhile classmates are atheists, though a few may still be committed Catholics.

    The point is, school kids don’t live in a vacuum. They can be pounded every day at school with doctrine, but they’re also exposed to opinion/behaviour coming from other sources, and not insubstantial ones – family and friends, television, the Internet, you name it. All that nonsense about capturing a child by the age of seven meaning you’ll have it for life is precisely that – nonsense. RCs got me at age 4 and lost me by age 16, not least because I was exposed to contrary views, and my mind began to mature.

    I don’t think it’s any different with global warming. Whether or not one “teaches the controversy” (peculiarly American phraseology probably fuelled by the evolution debate), at least some kids will eventually mature and start taking up their own positions. One of the surest ways of losing grip on their minds is to try to create an atmosphere of fear. The more dire you make the threats and outcomes, the more despair you create.

    My escape from Catholicism was fuelled by despair. I was plainly imperfect, and might well go to hell. I used to fret over that night and day, and at some point, I wanted only to escape the fear. So I actively started to concoct reasons why it was mostly BS. Okay, that was an existential imperative, but in time I became more familiar with substantive objections and my critical faculties improved; I could really see it was BS.

    I believe many kids will rebel against fear, not necessarily only that inculcated by religion. Sadly, many seem to need fear, feeling that there must be something external to keep their intrinsically “sinful” selves in check. I see much in common with that in the alarmist viewpoint. There is a perceived threat, and it must come from equally sinful others who aren’t constrained by the same external influence. I see a parallel situation in those dissenters who frame the debate in terms of the consensualist position being sinful or evil. At a deep level, the dynamic is identical.

    It’s true that education is the key to producing sane individuals. But I think we rarely educate in the true sense of the word, which involves inculcating the ability to think for oneself in a dispassionate way, which in turn involves being able to identify and distance oneself from one’s own emotional and psychological desires. We might be fortunate to have encountered a teacher who exemplified this ability, and picked up the capacity through observation and osmosis. My sixth form (17-18yrs) chemistry teacher (a priest as it happened) was one such; much better than any university teacher I encountered. As one gets older, one’s true teachers can be anyone one meets, or whose work one reads, or indeed, chance experiences.

    Do current education systems in the West actually educate? I have my doubts. Where they do, it’s often serendipitous rather than methodical. I think it’s despite and not because of them that people manage to educate themselves. I think most true education comes from within, and that essential to it is the ability to turn dogma into questions.

    Dogma 1: Human production of CO2 is unbalancing the climate system and, if unchecked, will lead to catastrophic consequences.

    Question 1: Is human production of CO2 unbalancing the climate system and, if it’s unchecked, will it lead to catastrophic consequences?

    Dogma 2: Human production of CO2 is not a big problem and will not lead to catastrophic consequences; in fact, it is probably beneficial.

    Question 2: Is human production of CO2 not a big problem, in fact probably beneficial?

    Go on: take any dogma you like, turn it into a question, and then go off and try to answer it regardless of what you think you already know. If you do that, I think you will be experiencing what education is.

    Nearly always, when I’ve asked myself a question like this, I’ve come up with an unexpected answer: most often, that I don’t know. At the same time, I may lean towards a particular view, but I am not committed heart and soul to it. I can maintain a distance from it, and am open to change. True education never provides definitive answers. A truly educated person is in a permanent state of uncertainty. Our host, with whom I do not agree on everything, strikes me as being a truly educated person. Someone I have added to my (short) list of those I recognise as competent teachers.

    • Your experience reminds me of an observation from my high school time.

      Some of our teachers were not as good as others, but that didn’t always result in less learning for all the students. The reason was in the fact that some of the smarter students wanted to outsmart the teacher and spent a lot of time in going through all kind of extra material and collaborated in analyzing that material.

      Similar observations have been common also at the university both from my years as a student and later years as teacher. Very much is learned when active students fill gaps left by the teaching either alone or as a group. That appears to have very much value at least in engineering education as that prepares students to that kind of readiness for independent and collaborative work that they must be able to do after graduation. It’s often difficult to create as educative situations by purpose as have been created by negligence. I have often wondered, how the purposeful actions could best mimic the favorable results of negligence without the unfavorable ones that are likely to dominate the outcome of negligence.

  105. Looking again at the material of the original post and at the syllabus of the course of Kim Cobb, I realized that the course has much in common with an introductory course on energy that I gave annually during my years (1999-2010) as a professor of Energy Economics at the Helsinki University of Technology (now part of Aalto University).

    The principal audience of the course was formed by students of Energy Engineering but it was attended also by many students of other fields. My view was (and still is) that it’s important for the beginning students to have a better context for their later more specialized studies. Unfortunately the course was in Finnish and furthermore created originally, when slides were on transparencies for overhead projector. Much of the material was also taken from sources that could certainly be used in the auditorium, but not distributed openly on net. For part of the course I could also use a Finnish language book produced by my previous employer with my contribution in writing several chapters. Based on this background I cannot give any relevant links to the course material.

    I can only list briefly that the course covered the structure of energy use in Finland and more briefly elsewhere, energy resources (fossil, nuclear and renewable), environmental issues including climate change, and economic issues including in particular energy markets.

    Oil resources and climate change received a little more attention than many other themes partly, because there’s more material that I felt to be appropriate and interesting on them than on some other issues, which may otherwise be as important.

    • Still a comment on teaching on controversies.

      I have found the best choice to be that I tell clearly my own views trying to explain also where others disagree and why I have the views that I have. That approach means that I tell also how certain I’m on my own views.

      Explaining where the views of others disagree and why can certainly be misused by presenting their arguments erroneously. I haven’t seen any reason to do that consciously but it’s unavoidable that I haven’t always understood their arguments correctly and have misrepresented them for that purpose.

  106. Judith,

    The last time we discussed this I did make the point that, regardless of the shape of the distribution, the actual sensitivity (whatever that really is) is equally likely to be higher or lower than any estimated range. You didn’t argue with that statement.
    Furthermore, the effect of AGW isn’t just a 21st century issue. We’ll all be just as dead in the year 2099 as 2199 and beyond. So why should this century be the only one considered? You’ll have read John Archers book “The Long Thaw”. There he make the point that AGW will be an irreversible process which will last for thousands of years.

  107. Assignment to students to verify the following hole in Man Made Global Warming.

    a) Global Mean temperature (GMT) => http://bit.ly/zISeEo
    For the period from 1880 to 1940, GMT increased by about 0.35 deg C.
    For the period from 1940 to 2000, GMT increased by about nearly the same 0.35 deg C.

    b) Human CO2 emission => http://bit.ly/wD1SZj
    For the period from 1880 to 1940, CO2 emission increased by about 150 G-ton.
    For the period from 1940 to 2000, CO2 emission increased by about 840 G-ton.

    How come the increase in CO2 emission by 460% has not caused any change in the increase in the GMT?

  108. Whenever I am exploring a arguments for a particular position on a topic I spend a bit of time reading the writings of the its best proponents. Once I feel I have a basic understanding of the position, I will spend a more time reading the best critics.

    I have always found that I can gain a better sense of the strength of an argument by reading its critics rather than its proponents. Lots of proponents can dress up an argument that sounds convincing upon first exposure, but that quickly falls apart when scrutinized by the opposition. On the other hand, if the critics argument is weak and unconvincing, then the proponents argument becomes that much more convincing.

    Somewhat similarly I find that I learn much more about the quality of a book on Amazon by reading the negative reviews than the positive reviews. If the book is really good, the negative reviews will be lame. On the other hand, I frequently find books with many positive reviews that have a relatively high overall positive rating, but which have some convincing,well thought out negative reviews. I generally avoid such books.

    If the consensus scientists are really convinced of the strength of their position, they are definitely pursuing a poor strategy. Instead of trying to mute their critics, they should be highlighting their work. I become very suspicious of any position, when its proponents think their best strategy is to ignore critics.

    • The climate issue is difficult to handle in argumentation, because the evidence is sparse. There’s a lot of evidence, but it doesn’t have the structure that would allow for straightforward logical arguments to prove very much. When the evidence if of such nature it’s easy to find weaknesses in any single piece of evidence, but the proponents may still have good reasons to believe that the balance of all evidence is strong.

      That situation leads to the problem that even specialists form their overall judgment based to a large extent of evidence that they understand only superficially and on the trust on the specialists of the other subfields. Everybody outside of the field climate science is forced to trust the subjective judgments of the scientists on most important issues.

      That no more directly understandable evidence is available is a fact that doesn’t prove that the main stream view is not correct, but it leaves valid reasons for distrust. Every time any of the well known scientists is caught of claiming more than he can justify, trust of the main stream scientists will be decreased. Many of them have chosen the approach of trying to convince the public by simplifying the issues and presenting them as more certain than they really are. Non-scientist activists have done the same on much larger scale and making stronger overstatements. That approach worked for a while, but that approach has certainly had many negative influences in the credibility of the scientists and thus an opposite effect in longer term.

      But where are we now? It’s still true that there’s a lot of evidence, but it has become only more difficult to judge, what to conclude of that. The scientists cannot present really convincing arguments, but that doesn’t by itself prove anything in either direction.

      How to make all this clear to students at any level of education giving the right balance on the overall picture?

      • Pekka, excellent comment. Its the complex system problem.

      • Well said, Pekka. Basically I hope to teach the concept of the debatability of science at the frontier of knowledge. The problem is that in K-12 we are teaching stuff that is from 50 to 400 years old, so there is nothing debatable about it any more, not at the level we are teaching it.

      • Pekka,

        You said “There’s a lot of evidence, but it doesn’t have the structure that would allow for straightforward logical arguments to prove very much. When the evidence if of such nature it’s easy to find weaknesses in any single piece of evidence, but the proponents may still have good reasons to believe that the balance of all evidence is strong.”

        My reading of this is you are saying when you have a lot of weak evidence this results in strong evidence i.e. weak evidence is additive. I have a problem with this. Am I interpreting your position correctly? If so, how would you justify this?

        Just curious …

        (Second attempt at posting – it looks like the first one didn’t work.)

      • Hugh,

        Additive may be a bit strong word, but putting together multiple weak evidence does indeed create stronger overall evidence than any of the parts can provide. That is true in case that opposite evidence is also taken properly into account and found to be significantly less. When each piece of evidence is rather weak by itself it is essential that the same criteria of acceptance to the process are applied to all evidence and that no preselection is applied to the process of collecting evidence. Cherry picking will destroy the value of conclusions based on variety of weak evidence.