No consensus on consensus: Part II

by Judith Curry

I’ve been invited to write a paper on the topic of consensus in climate change.

The journal is a review journal, outside the field of climate science.   I am not sure exactly what the commissioning  editor had in mind, but I have put together a draft (appended below).    I hope to submit the paper sometime next week.

I look forward to your constructive comments.  I am especially hoping for suggestions for the last section “Ways forward.”

Tentative title:  Climate Change:  No Consensus on Consensus (note: No consensus on consensus was the title of one of my first posts at Climate Etc.)

Introduction

Consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually” – Abba Eban

With the objective of providing a robust scientific basis for climate policy, the United Nations initiated a scientific consensus building process under the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).  The concept of consensus regarding climate change was introduced in the context of the IPCC in this statement by John Houghton in the Foreword to the IPCC First Assessment Report (FAR): (REF)

Although, as in any developing scientific topic, there is a minority of opinions which we have not been able to accommodate, the peer review has helped to ensure a high degree of consensus among authors and reviewers regarding the results presented. Thus the Assessment is an authoritative statement of the views of the international scientific community at this time….

Subsequent to the FAR, consensus became codified in the IPCC’s procedures: “in taking decisions, drawing conclusions, and adopting reports, the IPCC Plenary and Working Groups shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus.” REF

The IPCC consensus findings have been echoed by many scientific organizations, including the following that explicitly use the word “consensus” in their statements:

Wiengart (1999) states that the IPCC’s consensus approach has been largely driven by the desire to communicate climate science coherently to a wide spectrum of policy users.  In this context, Goodwin (2011) argues that the IPCC consensus has been used as an appeal to authority in the representation of scientific results as the basis for urgent policy making.

The idea of a scientific consensus surrounding climate change has been rejected by a number of people, including both scientists and politicians.  Notably, the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has written a report entitled Climate Change Reconsidered (Idso and Singer, 2009, 2011), that relatives or contradicts the main conclusions of the IPCC; Van der Sluijs (2012) argues that this report should be understood as a form of counter-expertise. The NIPCC report Appendix contains a list of over 30,000 scientists that do not support the IPCC consensus.  While the NIPCC is nowhere near as well known as the IPCC, much effort has been undertaken by those that support the IPCC consensus to discredit skeptical voices including the NIPCC.

Apart from the issue of the relative merits of the IPCC versus the NIPCC reports, the mere existence the NIPCC report and the list of 30,000 scientists disputing the findings of the IPCC raises the issue of whether a scientific consensus on climate change makes sense, given the disagreement, uncertainties and areas of ignorance. As students of science, we are taught to reject ad populam or ‘bandwagon’ appeals; this sentiment is articulated by the motto of the UK Royal Society: ‘nullius in verba’, which is roughly translated as ‘take nobody’s word for it’.

Amidst the increasingly intense public debate on the issue of climate change and the recent challenges to the credibility of the IPCC (e.g. Grundman 2012; Beck 2012), the topic of consensus itself has become a topic of debate, in context of the science as well as it role in policy making. This essay seeks to shed light on these issues by providing context from the philosophy of science, psychology of cognitive biases, and decision making. This essay argues that the claim of consensus is the ultimate source of controversy surrounding the IPCC, and that a scientific consensus on controversial and complex topic is not  needed for policy makers to act on the issue.

Consensus and the philosophy of science

The areas of consensus shift unbelievably fast; the bubbles of certainty are constantly exploding.” – Rem Koolhaas

The debate surrounding the consensus on climate change is complicated by the complexity of both the scientific and the associated sociopolitical issues.   Underlying this debate is a fundamental tension between two competing conceptions of scientific inquiry: the consensual view of science versus the dissension view (e.g. Laudan, 1984).  Under the consensual approach, “the goal of science is a consensus of rational opinion over the widest possible field”  (Ziman, 1967).  According to Ziman, scientific consensus consists of a general body of scientific knowledge comprised of facts and principles that are firmly established and accepted without serious doubt, by an overwhelming majority of competent, well-informed scientists.  Based upon this view, science is strictly cumulative (Laudan, 1984).

The opposing view of science is that of dissension.  According to Laudan (1984), there are four arguments that undermine the consensus perspective: scientific research is controversy-laden; incommensurability of theories; underdetermination of theories; and successful counternormal behavior.  The importance of controversy is evident in Kuhn’s (1977) arguments, whereby the emergence of new scientific ideas requires a process that permits rational men to disagree, with advocates of different paradigms often subscribing to different methodological standards and cognitive values.  Underdetermination implies that inadequate data and understanding does not allow one theory to be selected unambiguously to the exclusion of all its competitors.  Feyerabend (1978) has argued that there are many noteworthy instances of scientific progress whereby scientists have apparently violated the norms or canons usually called scientific.

Lehrer (1975) raises the following question: When is it reasonable for a person to conform to a consensus and when is it reasonable to dissent? His response:

“We shall answer the question in terms of an intellectual concern of science and rational inquiry.  Succintly stated, the concern is to obtain truth and avoid error.  We shall argue that consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought.  If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not.  If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.”

With genuinely well-established scientific theories, ‘consensus’ is not discussed and the concept of consensus is arguably irrelevant.  For example, there is no point to discussing a consensus that the Earth orbits the sun, or that the helium molecule is lighter than the nitrogen molecule.  While a consensus may arise surrounding a specific scientific hypothesis or theory, the existence of a consensus is not itself the evidence.

Yearly (2009) characterizes the IPCC consensus building process as “an exercise in collective judgment about subjective Bayesian likelihoods in areas of uncertain knowledge.”   Goodwin (2011) argues that the IPCC consensus is a manufactured consensus, resulting from an intentional consensus building process. Judging the manufactured consensus of the IPCC by Lehrer’s  standards implies that the IPCC consensus is not intellectually meaningful. This argument does not imply that the IPCC’s conclusions are necessarily incorrect, but leads to the conclusion that the consensus building process employed by the IPCC does not lend intellectual substance to their arguments.

 Consensus and bias

A long time ago a bunch of people reached a general consensus as to what’s real and what’s not and most of us have been going along with it ever since.” – Charles de Lint

If the objective of scientific research is to obtain truth and avoid error, how might a consensus seeking process introduce bias into the science and increase the chances for error?  Confirmation bias is a well-known psychological principle (e.g. Nickerson 1998) that “connotes the seeking or interpreting of evidence in ways that are partial to existing beliefs, expectations, or a hypothesis in hand.” Confirmation bias usually refers to unwitting selectivity in the acquisition and interpretation of evidence.

Kelly (2008) provides some insight into confirmation bias, arguing that “a belief held at earlier times can skew the total evidence that is available at later times, via characteristic biasing mechanisms, in a direction that is favorable to itself.” Kelly (2008) also finds that “All else being equal, individuals tend to be significantly better at detecting fallacies when the fallacy occurs in an argument for a conclusion which they disbelieve, than when the same fallacy occurs in an argument for a conclusion which they believe.

An individual’s assessment of a scientific issue and the associated levels of uncertainty can be influenced by the group dynamic in a consensus building process.  In its recent review of the IPCC, the InterAcademy Committee (IAC) REF states that “Studies suggest that informal elicitation measures, especially those designed to reach consensus, lead to different assessments of probabilities than formal measures. Informal procedures often result in probability distributions that place less weight in the tails of the distribution than formal elicitation methods, possibly understating the uncertainty associated with a given outcome.”  An example is provided by Morgan et al. (2006), who elicited subjective probability distributions from 24 leading atmospheric scientists that reflect their individual judgments about radiative forcing from anthropogenic aerosols. Consensus was strongest in their assessments of the direct aerosol effect. However, the range of uncertainty that a number of experts associated with their estimates for indirect aerosol forcing was substantially larger than that suggested by either the IPCC 3rd or 4th Assessment Reports.

Recent research by Koriat (2012) provides insight into the group dynamics of consensual judgments by examining how well a confidence-based strategy works in groups. When most people did not know the correct answers, confidence-based group decisions were worse than those of even the worst-performing individual, because group decisions are dominated by the more confident member.  An implication of Koriat’s research is that in uncertain environments, groups might make better decisions by relying on the guidance of those who express the most doubt.

Kelly (2005) describes an additional source of confirmation bias in the consensus building process: “As more and more peers weigh in on a given issue, the proportion of the total evidence which consists of higher order psychological evidence [of what other people believe] increases, and the proportion of the total evidence which consists of first order evidence decreases . . . At some point, when the number of peers grows large enough, the higher order psychological evidence will swamp the first order evidence into virtual insignificance.” Kelly (2005) concludes: “Over time, this invisible hand process tends to bestow a certain competitive advantage to our prior beliefs with respect to confirmation and disconfirmation.

With regards to the IPCC, cognitive biases in the context of an institutionalized consensus building process have arguably resulted in the consensus becoming increasingly confirmed in a self-reinforcing way. This ‘invisible hand’ that marginalizes skeptics is operating to the substantial detriment of climate science, as well as biasing policies that are informed by climate science.

Role of consensus in decision making

To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.” – Margaret Thatcher

The mandate of the IPCC is to provide policy‐relevant information to policy makers involved in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Based upon the precautionary principle, the UNFCCC established a qualitative climate goal for the long term: avoiding dangerous climate change by stabilization of the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. The IPCC’s scientific assessments play a primary role in the legitimation of national and international policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The main practical objective of the IPCC has been to assess whether there is sufficient certainty in the science so as to trigger political action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This objective has led to IPCC assessments being framed around identifying anthropogenic influences on climate, environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change, and stabilization of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

The role of consensus in this decision making is described by Oreskes (2004): “If we feel that a policy question deserves to be informed by scientific knowledge, then we have no choice but to ask, what is the consensus of experts on this matter? If there is no consensus of experts—as was the case among earth scientists about moving continents before the late 1960s—then we have a case for more research. If there is a consensus of experts—as there is today over the reality of anthropogenic climate change —then we have a case for moving forward with relevant action.

Oreskes’ statement is based on the linear model of expertise (e.g. Beck 2011), or ‘speaking truth to power’, whereby first science has to ‘get it right’ and then policy comes into play. The influence of science on policy is assumed to be deterministic: if the scientific facts are ‘sound,’ or then they have a direct impact on policy. In the linear model, the key question is whether existing scientific knowledge is certain enough to compel action; Oreskes (2004) argues that we should not expect logically indisputable proof, but rather a robust consensus of experts. The linear model of expertise continues to dominate perceptions among climate scientists and policy makers to some extent (Beck 2011; Pielke 2007; Sarewitz 2010).

Van der Sluijs (2012) argues that the IPCC has adopted a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach that sees uncertainty and dissent as problematic, and attempts to mediate these into a consensus.  The ‘speaking consensus to power’ strategy acknowledges that available knowledge is inconclusive, and uses consensus as a proxy for truth through a negotiated interpretation of the inconclusive body of scientific evidence. The ‘consensus to power’ strategy reflects a specific vision of how politics deals with scientific uncertainties (Van der Sluijs, 2012) and creates a clear knowledge base for decision making following the linear model of expertise.

Van der Sluijs et al. (2005, 2008) characterizes scientific assessments of climate change as based on a mixture of knowledge, assumptions, models, scenarios, extrapolations, and known and unknown unknowns. Because of the limited knowledge base, climate change assessments unavoidably use expert judgments and subjective probability judgments based upon information ranging from well-established knowledge to judgments, educated guesses, tentative assumptions, and even crude speculation.

Classical decision making under the linear model involves reducing the uncertainties before acting.  In the face of irreducible uncertainties and substantial ignorance, reducing the uncertainty is not viable, but not acting could be associated with catastrophic impacts.  Under conditions of deep uncertainty or ignorance, optimal decisions based upon a scientific consensus can carry a considerable risk.  Weitzmann (2009) characterizes the decision making environment surrounding climate change in the follow way:  “Much more unsettling for an application of expected utility analysis is deep structural uncertainty in the science of global warming coupled with an economic inability to place a meaningful upper bound on catastrophic losses from disastrous temperature changes. The climate science seems to be saying that the probability of a system-wide disastrous collapse is non-negligible even while this tiny probability is not known precisely and necessarily involves subjective judgments.

Obersteiner et al. (2001) describe the uncertainty surrounding the climate change science is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways:  what is considered to be a serious problem could turn out to be less of a threat, whereas unanticipated and unforeseen surprises could be catastrophic. Obersteiner et al. argue that the strategy of assuming that climate models can predict the future of climate change accurately enough to choose a clear strategic direction might be at best marginally helpful and at worst downright dangerous: underestimating uncertainty can lead to strategies that do not defend the world against unexpected and sometimes even catastrophic threats. Obersteiner et al. note that another danger lies on the other side of the sword if uncertainties are too large and analytic planning processes are abandoned. While a higher level of confidence and a consensus can make decision makers more willing to act, overestimating the confidence can result in discounting the value of information in the decision making process if the confidence later proves to be unwarranted.

The linear model of expertise works well for ‘tame’ problems (e.g. Holt, 2004), where everybody pretty much agrees on both the problem and the solution.  Successes in managing tame problems are evident in the domains of engineering and regulatory science.  Beck (2012) argues that climate change has been framed as a relatively ‘tame’ problem that requires a straightforward solution, namely the top-down creation of a global carbon market. However, climate change is better characterized as wicked problem or a mess (e.g. Horn and Weber, 2007; Lazarus 2009). Holt (2004) argues that the general difficulty for consensus-building arises when problems which initially appear tame become ‘messes’, ‘wicked problems’ or even ‘wicked messes’ – where there are multiple problem definitions, the methods are open to contention and the solutions are variable and disputed, and  ‘unknown unknowns’ suggest chronic conditions of ignorance and lack of capacity to imagine future eventualities of both the problem and the proposed solutions.

Consensus can play a constructive role in legitimizing policy based upon scientific research.  The problems with a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach are described by van der Sluijs (2012): it underexposes scientific uncertainties and dissent, making the chosen policy vulnerable to scientific errors; and it limits the political playing field in which players can present different policy perspectives.

Unintended consequences of the IPCC consensus

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.” – Michael Crichton

The consensus approach used by the IPCC has received a number of criticisms. Oppenheimer et al. (2007) warn of the need to guard against overconfidence and argue that the IPCC consensus emphasizes expected outcomes, whereas it is equally important that policy makers understand the more extreme possibilities that consensus may exclude or downplay. Gruebler and Nakicenovic (2001) opine that “there is a danger that the IPCC consensus position might lead to a dismissal of uncertainty in favor of spuriously constructed expert opinion.”  Curry (2011) finds that the consensus approach being used by the IPCC has failed to produce a thorough portrayal of the complexities of the problem and the associated uncertainties in our understanding.

Goodwin (2011) argues the consensus claim created opportunities to claim that the IPCC’s  emphasis on consensus was distorting the science itself. “Once the consensus claim was made, scientists involved in the ongoing IPCC process had reasons not just to consider the scientific evidence, but to consider the possible effect of their statements on their ability to defend the consensus claim.”  (Goodwin, 2011)   We have personally encountered this effect numerous times in our interaction with colleagues that support the IPCC consensus.

While the IPCC’s consensus approach acknowledges uncertainties, defenders of the IPCC consensus have expended considerable efforts in the “boundary work” of distinguishing those qualified to contribute to the climate change consensus from those who are not (Goodwin, 2011).  These efforts have characterized skeptics as quantitatively small (e.g. Oreskes), extreme (Hassleman), and scientifically suspect (e.g Anderegg et al.)  These efforts create temptations to make illegitimate attacks on scientists whose views do not align with the consensus, and to dismiss any disagreement as politically motivated ‘denialism.’ ( e.g.   Trenberth, other REFS).  Goodwin (2011) argues that this boundary drawing produces the strong appearance that the boundary between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ is based on political views.

There are broad consequences to this boundary work.  McKitrick (20xx) argues that consensus statements by scientific organizations put words in peoples’ mouths, imposing groupthink and conformity. Consensus statements silence and marginalize members who disagree with some or all of the statement, “demoting them to second-class citizens in their own profession, regardless of their numbers or credibility as scientists.”  This marginalization acts to degrade the intellectual climate in the field, and the declaration of consensus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The scientists who disagree with some or all aspects of the IPCC consensus include not only scientists from within the field of climate science (however that might be defined), but an increasingly broad community of technical educated people from a range of science and engineering disciplines that have educated themselves on climate science.  Some of these individuals are quite vocal and are frequently quoted by the mainstream media.  This has led to increasingly vociferous attacks on these dissenting scientists by supporters of the IPCC consensus, and to the labeling of anyone who disagrees with any aspect of the consensus as a ‘denier.’ (e.g Hasselman, etc.)   The use of ‘denier’ to label anyone who disagrees with the IPCC consensus leads to concerns about the IPCC being enforced as dogma, which is tied to how dissent is dealt with.

The linear model of expertise places science at the center of political debate. Scientific controversies surrounding evidence of climate change have thus become a proxy for political battles over whether and how to react to climate change (Pielke 2007). Therefore, winning a scientific debate means attaining a privileged position in political battle, hence providing motivation for defending the consensus. As a result, it has become difficult to disentangle political arguments about climate policies from scientific arguments about the evidence for human-induced climate change. The quality of both political debate and scientific practice suffers as a consequence (Hulme 2009c).

The linear model of expertise ‘speaking consensus to power’ tends to stifle discussion of alternative policy approaches. The IPCC has framed its assessment around the UNFCCC policy of stabilizing greenhouse emissions, focusing its assessment on the attribution of climate change and the sensitivity of climate change to greenhouse gases. Demeritt (2001) argues that the narrow focus on issues of attribution masks major political implications, marginalizes issues around adaptation and development, and fails to engage with alternative approaches and to generate ideas to inform its ‘solutions.’  Pielke (2012) argues that this narrow focus and ignoring our ignorance diverts attention away from options that do not depend on scientific certainties about climate change, such as accelerating decarbonization through expanding energy access, improving security, and improving resilience to extreme weather events.

While the public may not understand the complexity of the science or be culturally predisposed to accept the consensus, they can certainly understand the vociferous arguments over the science portrayed by the media.   Further, they can judge the social facts surrounding the consensus building process, including those revealed by the so-called “Climategate” episode (e.g. Grundman 2012, Maibach et al. 2012; Beck 2012), and decide whether to trust the experts whose opinion comprises the consensus.   Beck (2012) argues that “in a public debate, the social practices of knowledge-making matter as much as the substance of the knowledge itself.”

In summary, the manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science, elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus, and motivating actions by the consensus scientists and their supporters that have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC and the consensus building process.

Ways forward

Science is belief in the ignorance of experts” – Richard Feynman

Problems with a consensus seeking approach for the climate change problem have been described in the previous sections.  In particular, the linear model of expertise is a significantly flawed approach for the climate change problem.  Uncertainties, ambiguities, dissent and ignorance should not be concealed behind a scientific consensus.  At the same time, these uncertainties should not be regarded as a restriction on decision making.  The challenge is to open up the decision making processes in a way that renders their primary nature more honestly political and economic, while giving proper weight to scientific reason and evidence (Wynne 2010). Science should be a tool for policy action rather than a tool for political advocacy (Dessai et al. 2009).

The single most important thing that is needed with regards to the science – particularly in context of the IPCC assessment reports –  is explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance (both known and unknown unknowns) and more openness for dissent in the IPCC processes (e.g. Curry and Webster 2011; Curry 2011).  Greater openness about scientific uncertainties and ignorance, and more transparency about dissent and disagreement, would provide policymakers with a more complete picture of climate science and its limitations.  With regards to dissent, Van der Sluijs (2012) argues that it is important not to reject diverging opinions but to actually pay specific attention to them. Climate skeptics and other scientists who think differently than the mainstream (both that the problem is less severe and more severe) on certain points can fulfill a counter-expertise function in the debate about climate change.  Solow (2011) argues that the IPCC must help the policymaker understand the current incompleteness of earth systems science and the full range of possible outcomes, with disagreements among experts revealed.

Along these lines, some specific recommendations for the IPCC have been made. Oppenheimer et al. (2007) state:  “Increased transparency, including a thorough narrative report on the range of views expressed by panel members, emphasizing areas of disagreement that arose during the assessment, would provide a more robust evaluation of risk.”  Van der Sluijs (2012) suggest including a dissent chapter in the synthesis report of the IPCC, which contains a sketch of minority scientific views and points of ongoing scientific dispute.  Solow (2011) recommends that the IPCC provide a perspective of earth systems science as an evolving human enterprise, explaining how recent research has altered perspectives.  In the context of iterative risk management, policy makers need insight into the rate of learning, as well as what is known and unknown.  Curry (2011) argues for a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, explore and characterize uncertainty, reason about uncertainty in the context of evidence-based logical hierarchies, and eliminate bias from the consensus building process itself.

Moving forward requires a reassessment of the ‘consensus to power’ approach for the science-policy interface that has evolved in the context of the IPCC and UNFCCC. Given the discomfort associated with scientific uncertainty and ignorance in the linear model of expertise, Solow (2011) makes the point that “It will take courage to disclose lack of consensus.” He further states that coexistence of contending views (‘low agreement’) is normal in science, not a cause for embarrassment, and users of the IPCC reports need this information. Pielke (2012) cites an example of decision making described by Gross (2010):  “The limited knowledge and predictive capacities of science were not seen to be signs of poor science. Instead, the actors agreed on what was not known and took it into account for future planning.” Pielke argues that awareness of ignorance actually opens up possibilities for political compromise and policies that proceed incrementally based on the feedback of practical experience: agreement on facts as a prerequisite to action is not necessary, so long there is an agreement to learn based on experience.

Holt (2004) argues that messes and wicked problems require organizations to abandon the desire to design a solitary strategy determined from within a specific ‘culture’.  Holt views risk management for messes and wicked problems as the resolution between alternative solutions and the dissolution of confusions, more so than the pursuit of optimal solutions.

There are frameworks for decision making under deep uncertainty and ignorance that accept uncertainty and dissent as key elements of the decision making process (e.g. Lempert 2002; Smithson 2008;  Van der Sluijs 2012).  Rather than choosing an optimal policy based on a scientific consensus, decision makers can design robust and flexible policy strategies that account for uncertainty, ignorance and dissent.  Robust strategies formally consider uncertainty, whereby decision makers seek to reduce the range of possible scenarios over which the strategy performs poorly.  Flexible strategies are adaptive, and can be quickly adjusted to advancing scientific insights.   These approaches have a drawback (e.g. van der Sluijs 2012): an overexposure of dissent and uncertainty, which in practice may undermine the basis for political policymaking.  For these strategies to work, politicians need to take political responsibility and not hide endlessly behind scientific uncertainties. When working with policy makers and communicators, it is important that scientists not to fall into the trap of acceding to inappropriate demands for certainty from decision makers.

The perspective of Funtowicz and Ravetz (1993) on post normal science – characterized by conflicting values and deep uncertainties – is useful in moving forward on wicked problems and messes. When the stakes are high and uncertainties are large, Funtowicz and Ravetz point out that there is a public demand to participate and assess quality, which they refer to as the extended peer community. The extended peer community consists not only of those with traditional institutional accreditation that are creating the technical work, but also those with much broader expertise that are capable of doing quality assessment and control on that work.  New information technology and the open knowledge movement is facilitating the rapid diffusion of information and sharing of expertise, giving hitherto unrealized power to the peer communities.  This newfound power has challenged the politics of expertise, and the “radical implications of the blogosphere” (Ravetz 2011) are just beginning to be understood.  Arguing from consensus to enforce their conclusions doesn’t work with the extended peer community; what is needed is serious attempts to engage the extended peer community with the modes of expert reasoning used to reach those conclusions (Beck 2012).

• [Political failure of international negotiations on climate treaties, which relied on consensus to power strategy  (need refs)] INCOMPLETE

•[Rise of the bottom-up approaches e.g. adaptive governance, which requires a different interface between climate science and policy (regional, uncertainties, no regrets policies, learn as you go; no consensus needed  (need refs)] INCOMPLETE

The climate community has worked for more than 20 years to establish a consensus.  The IPCC consensus building process arguably played a useful role in the early synthesis of the scientific knowledge and in building political will to act.  The impact of the IPCC consensus probably peaked in 2006-2007, at the time of publication of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.  Since then, the implications of the messy wickedness of the climate change problem have become increasingly apparent.  Courtesy of the CRU emails, we have a better understanding of the sausage making that went into creating the IPCC consensus (e.g Ryghaug and Skjolsvold 2010). Manufacturing a consensus in the context of the IPCC has acted to hyper-politicize the scientific and policy debate, to the detriment of both.  It is time to abandon the concept of consensus in favor of open debate of the arguments themselves and discussion of a broad range of policy options that include bottom up approaches to decreasing vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events and developing technologies to expand energy access.

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van der Sluijs, J.P.,  R. van Est, M. Riphagen:  2010b, ‘Beyond consensus: reflections from a democratic perspective on the interaction between climate politics and science’, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2 (5-6) 409–415

Ryghaug, M and TM Skjosvold, 2010:  The global warming of climate science: Climategate and the construction of facts.International Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Vol. 24, issue 3,  2010, p. 287-307.

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Moderation note:  this is a technical thread, and comments will be moderated for relevance.

1,045 responses to “No consensus on consensus: Part II

  1. The climate community has worked for more than 20 years to establish a consensus.

    Good job too?

    • The UN’s effort “to build a scientific consensus reflects a basic misunderstanding of science.

      Scientific consensus happens naturally when divergent opinions coalesce because lingering questions and doubts have been resolved. Consensus is an act of free will. Scientific consensus cannot be coerced from outside.

      The UN’s efforts “to build a scientific consensus were thus doomed from the start.

      However, it is not surprising that world leaders and the UN still have the illusion they can build a scientific consensus !

      Climategate emails and documents that surfaced in 2009 revealed sixty-four years (2009 – 1945 = 64 yrs) of united efforts by this group “to build a scientific consensus to hide “the fountain of energy” that can be released from the cores of heavy atoms, stars, galaxies and perhaps some planets.

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-555

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      http://www.omatumr.com

    • In fact, Tom, the UN worked out of sight for more than 64 years “to build a scientific consensus“ before their game plan was exposed in 2009 by Climategate emails and documents.

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/

      To hide reality, government scientists suddenly proclaim: “WE FOUND IT, maybe” – like the 4th of July discovery of the “God Particle!”

      Another classic example from 2001:

      1. The solution to the Solar Neutrino Puzzle was reported in March
      _ . http://www.omatumr.com/lpsc.prn.pdf

      2. “WE FOUND SOLAR NEUTRINO OSCILLATIONS maybe” in June
      _ . http://arxiv.org/pdf/nucl-ex/0106015v2.pdf
      _ . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_neutrino_problem

      Only four (4) authors reported #1; One hundred and seventy-eight (178) authors reported #2. Hence, scientific consensus purchased with public funds to promote misinformation.

      What a sad, sad state of affairs for today’s broken and fearful world.

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel
      Former NASA Principal
      Investigator for Apollo
      http://www.omatumr.com

      • “The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.”

        “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus: Period. – Dr. Michael Crichton, Caltech Michelin Lecture (17 Jan 2003)

        http://www.tsaugust.org/images/Lecture_by_Crichton_at_Caltech.pdf

      • omanuel | July 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm said “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus”

        OManuel, I’m officially asking you: for copyright permission, to use that sentence of yours, in my book. Stefan

      • The quote came directly from top portion of page 5, right column of the lecture by the late Dr. Michael Crichton at Caltech on 17 Jan 2003:

        http://www.tsaugust.org/images/Lecture_by_Crichton_at_Caltech.pdf

        So far as I know there is no law against quoting copyrighted material if the source is cited.

        Or you can quote me here, quoting Dr. Crichton. The sentence is concise and forceful; I do not want to take credit for his talents.

        Oliver K. Manuel

      • Two clowns log-rolling, how fitting.

      • omanuel | July 20, 2012 at 1:01 am

        thanks Oliver, I’ll state yours and Dr. Creighton’s names, next to that sentence. Because extremist as the ” camarad Telescope” would like to point out something wrong; thanks again!!!

      • WebHubTelescope | July 20, 2012 at 5:28 am reply:

        Telescope, my Camarad, some day, you should explain to us; how did you developed fear from the truth (truth-phobia) did you had unhappy childhood? is it your genetically inherited disease? Did your parents enjoyed telling wooffy crap? … There is medicine for every sickness – maybe we can help.

        You don’t need to leave in fear / shivering from fear; when all the truth will be exposed… until then, happy insomnia. Important is for you, to understand: we are messengers, with the truth; we don’t create the truth / truth has being created; by whoever created the laws of physics. Don’t hate the honest people, for bringing the truth

        In 8-9 months me commenting on this website, not you, Mosher, JimD; or any of the con-artist pointed anything that I’m wrong. That’s a white flag!

        To be sincere: I was expecting; some of you swindlers to ”correct” any already ”correct” comment – by presenting in in your Cult’s wrong version – I need it, please correct me; on what you think that I’m wrong; I’ll make a copy of it; so that people on the street can compare, for themselves

    • David L. Hagen

      In IPCC Admits Its Past Reports Were Junk Joe Bast (NIPCC/Heartland) reviews the implications of the IPCC accepting the IAC’s review, stating that it had

      “complete[d] the process of implementation of a set of recommendations issued in August 2010 by the InterAcademy Council (IAC), the group created by the world’s science academies to provide advice to international bodies.”

      He notes:

      In 2010, we learned that much of what we thought we knew about global warming was compromised and probably false. On June 27, the culprits confessed and promised to do better.

      Also posted at WUWT

      Does the IPCC’s current “consensus” (aka press release) acknowledge that the previous “consensus” was not a scientific “consensus”?

  2. Surely if the claim of consensus is controversial that is sufficient to make it false. Unless the claim is restricted to just those who agree, in which case it is spurious.

    • David Wojick | July 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm |

      Assumes ‘controversial’, which is simply not in evidence in any great amount compared to the overall state of the body of knowledge.

      A bit like claiming a splinter in one’s little finger is a medical emergency.. oh, wait, we’ve overdone medical analogies. A bit like claiming a flat tire.. no, we’ve done cars too. A bit like lying through one’s teeth to get one’s way! There, a new metaphor we haven’t heard lately, but one that perfectly fits.

      Unless every contrarian is granted the power to overthrow all things, this stance of Dr. Wojick’s is dangerously irrational. A single dissenter could on such terms force schools to teach the “other side” to the US Constitution, to child abuse, to tortur.. Oh, wait, bad example that one.

      Still, it’s a slippery slope we don’t want to race down goaded by the patent ulterior motives leading Dr. Wojick to attempt to subvert the education system and the children of America by deception and manipulation.

    • Steven Mosher

      Utterly illogical. The presence or absence of controversy has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the claim that there is or is not a consensus.
      That’s subjectivist hogwash. Using your logic “There is controversy over the claim that controversy implies anything. hence the claim that controversy implies something is false.” In short, your position is self defeating when applied to itself.

      There is a consensus, a general agreement, amongst climate scientists who practice and publish climate science, that the world is warming, that GHGs cause warming, and that a substantial portion of the increase in warming is due to man. That consensus has nothing whatsoever to do with the truth or falsity of what is believed. However, rational creatures can and do rely on the beliefs of others in order to make decisions. Other rational creatures need not rely on the opinions of others, but there refusal to do so, says nothing about the truth of what is being discussed nor the rationality of parties who do rely on the opinions of others.

      • Your point is very good, as far as it goes.

        The problem is that the consensus you describe is AGW, but the consensus that’s being discussed here is CAGW (*Catastrophic* AGW). It’s one thing to believe that CO2 can contribute to a moderate global warming, and quite another to believe that various feedbacks will triple the warming, triggering a chain reaction that will ultimately be catastrophic for mankind.

        The Consensus being described here shows it’s falsehood by calling anyone who does not believe in CAGW a (neo-Holocaust) Denier. It doesn’t differentiate between skeptics of: 1) Climate Change, 2) Global Warming, 3) Anthropological Global Warming, and 4) Catastrophic AGW. That’s something entirely different.

      • Wayne2 | July 16, 2012 at 10:58 am |

        Can we get off the CAGW straw man?

        Replace *Catastrophic* with *COSTLY* and you have a better representation of the issue; better still would be *COSTLY, RISKY* (CRAGW).

        CRAGW indicates that there is AGW (undisputed except by people who cannot be described otherwise than as in denial of factual observation and pure logic) and that it has associated with it Risk and Cost.

        See, you don’t need *CaTaStRoPhY* craziness to understand CRAGW to be a violation of the property and safety rights of most by the lucrative adventurism of a few free riders who have never obtained consent for their trespass nor made compensation.

        The Consensus is that the fact of AGW (notwithstanding those who deny this is accurate or very nearly true — see Newton’s 4th Principle) leads inevitably to CRAGW. There’s plenty of evidence of present costs and significant risks already, too, regardless of the efforts of many who are making unearned rents from their free riding carbon emitting, land use changing ways.

        You don’t need a death spiral CAGW for CRAGW to be an unprincipled, dishonest, crooked, immoral practice of the fossil industry backed by unethical, corrupt, duty-shirking politicians. All it takes is the fact (or even probability) of AGW and associated costs and risks without compensation or consent.

      • Juvenile Scaremongering, by any other contorted Elaine-dance, is stil…

        …wait for it…

        Andrew

      • Contrary to your sophomoric rant, CAGW is not a strawman. Gore, Mann, and others have claimed that we must act or risk passing tipping points that will endanger future generations. We’re talking apocryphal stuff like a city-wrecking sea-level rise, severe droughts, severe storms, the spread of tropical diseases to formerly-temperate areas, etc.

        These are catastrophes, literally. Or do you think intense hurricanes, widespread starvation, large numbers of heat-caused deaths, entire costal cities rendered uninhabitable, etc, are not “catastrophes”?

        There are some AGW believers who even think that a little more heat is good for the planet as a whole. (And projected CO2 growth alone is around a 1-degree global temperature increase over a century. It’s only feedbacks that are not clearly understood that amplify this to significantly larger increases, you know.)

        You’re also throwing around fancy words like “cost” and “risk”, without regard that: a) it’s cost/risk/benefit anlysis, and b) there are costs/risks/benefits to taking the actions you espouse as well as not taking the acts you espouse: it’s not all one-sided if you’re actually doing an analysis. Unless, of course, you believe that it is Catastrophic to not act, in which case let’s throw out the rest of the analysis because a catastrophe must be dealt with at all costs.

      • Bart R,

        Can we get off the CAGW straw man?

        No. Definitely not. Because that is what the argument is about. That is the argument the Alarmists use to justify mitigation and carbon pricing. that is their entire argument.

        You just need to listen to the video that Tempterrain posted on this thread, then spent numerous posts defending, to understand how the whole argument is about catastrophic consequences of AGW.

        Look at the scaremongering film that was shown at the opening of the Copenhagen Conference as a clear demonstration that the whole arguments is about catastrophic man-made climate change.

        If the argument was not all about catastrophe then we could have a rational debate about costs and benefits. It would be rational, not emotional.

      • “The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.”

        “Clearly, if we burn all fossil fuels, we will destroy the planet we know. Carbon dioxide would increase to 500 ppm or more.”

        I believe “factories of death” and “destroy the planet we know” would qualify as “catastrophic”. And this is from a world-leading expert on the topic, Dr. James Hansen.

      • tempterrain

        “CAGW”. ?? If you are going to use the term you need to define what it means> Does it mean the Venus effect? Does it mean this?

        http://www.amazon.com/The-Long-Thaw-Changing-Essentials/dp/0691136548

      • CAGW is anything but a strawman. It is the center plank of the whole alarmist program to justify a hike in taxes and politics. No impendsing catastrophe, no case for acting on very uncertain evidence.

        That is the sole reason a rabid statist in “minarchist” clothes like Bart would like it sidelined.

      • Gentlemen, if CAGW is all you’ll discuss, the only thing occupying your minds, the only issue for you, then I wish you and those who want to talk about nothing but CAGW well of that position.

        Because the rest of the world, and I with it, have long since moved on, and are talking about other things, too; because CAGW is only the far end of a very, very large topic, and the vast majority of the topic doesn’t favor your views very much.. which you’d know if you could take your eyes off the death-train doomsaying stuff and pay attention to your wallets.

      • BatedBreath

        Yeah what is the matter with you guys ? Always discussing CAGW and climate on a climate blog…..really! Why don’t you join young Bart and the rest of the world’s progressives who have brushed all its problems under the carpet, and talk about something else so that the new taxation can proceed without hiccups ?

      • Wayne2 | July 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

        To quote me: http://judithcurry.com/2012/07/18/climate-models-at-their-limit/#comment-220600

        CAGW is the far wall of a dungeon strewn with hazards moral and projected, real and potential, and, yes, some imagined terrors and fictions too. We do not know its full dimensions and lack the means to plumb its actual horrors with precision and completeness.

        It’s not the far wall we should find so repellent. It’s that we’re being dragged into that direction without our consent, against our will, over vociferous objection, and with no hope of compensation in proportion to the violations suffered.

        Seriously, who raised you?

      • Most “climate scientists who practice and publish climate science” work and publish in a very narrow slice of climate science and are not qualified to determine whether the rather gigantic IPCC Report is accurate or not. The issue facing mankind is not whether GHG cause warming (they do), or how much of recent warming is due to GHG (we don’t know), but rather, how draconian must our reduction in GHG emissions to comply with alarmist predictions of disaster (in case they are right), and how can we provide the people of the world with energy while effecting such draconian reductions in GHG emissions?

      • Rob Starkey

        Donald- Let’s go more basic.

        What data should drive a reasonable person to the conclusion that a slightly warmer world is worse overall for humanity over the long term?

        Now to make it a bit more practical and unfortunately more difficult- What data should drive the leaders of any particular nation to conclude that their nation will be worse off overall over the long term?

        Yes it is warming, but we are unsure as to how much, and we don’t understand that it will necessarily not be better for us

      • Dear Rob:
        I am not completely sure I understood your point. I will try to make my points clearer. A guy who played third base for the Detroit Tigers is not necessarily as qualified as Howard Cosell (“I never played the game”) was to announce, interview or analyze sports in general. Same for someone who made an instrument to measure solar irradiance – not necessarily being qualified to evaluate the findings of the IPCC. Therefore, a consensus of those who published narrowly in climatology does not constitute a group of people with synoptic broad understanding of the many intricate elements of climate.
        Furthermore, in discussions of “consensus” it remains unclear exactly what was consensed. In simplistic terms, the consensus seems to be that further emissions of CO2 in the 21st century in a business as usual scenario is likely to lead to additional global warming producing very bad consequences. The question, too often ignored, is how draconian and rapid must the reduction in GHG be to avoid catastrophe within the consensus view, and how can the people of the world be supplied with sufficient energy within such reductions in emissions? I doubt there is any consensus on that question.

      • Rob Starkey | July 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

        A faulty analysis comes out of the question is a slightly warmer world worse overall. The endpoint of the path isn’t the problem, it’s the path itself.

        Yes, it’s warming. Yes, it’s caused in large part by human activity. Yes, it’s a faster warming than otherwise. Yes, faster change is more costly to adapt to than slower change. Yes, faster change is more risky than slower change. Yes, the sea level will rise and either wipe out or require dykes around significant coastal lands. Yes, watercourses will shift leaving some areas dry that otherwise would have water, and some areas under water that would otherwise be arable land too. Yes, habitats for animals will shift and have been measured to have shifted significantly and rapidly. Yes, mathematics shows that external forcings lead complex systems to shift to new levels and their attractors to change in what must be termed greater risk of extreme weather events and new weather regimes such as drought or flood or heatwave or deep cold or cyclone.

        “A slightly warmer world” is not the topic at hand. Even if the net value to all is somehow greater “in the long run”, some will lose and none will have the option to consent or object or receive compensation from those Free Riders who are the cause of this harm.

      • Rob Starkey

        Bart

        You have little factual data to support your fears.

        You have no reasonable path by which CO2 will not continue to rise for decades

        You have no information to show you that any conditions that you fear can be avoided by the actions you have previously suggested.

        You actually have no reasonable/reliable data to show that a warmer world will not benefitthe US or any particular nation more than it may harm that nation.

      • Rob Starkey | July 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |

        You have little factual data to support your fears.

        Fears?! Fear-mongering? Bugbears? Bogeymen? Hobgoblins? Trolls? Monsters under the bed? Who said anything about fear?

        I speak of COST, and of RISK. See? Entirely different thing. I’m not afraid of people who violate my property rights. I hold them in contempt, and seek redress. Free Riders don’t scare me. Corrupt politicians in the pocket of special interests aren’t panicking me. They’re outraging my sense of justice.

        I can see, as you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you scrabble for alternate explanations. If you need help with developing a sense of justice, I recommend other activities than commenting on climate blogs.

        As for ‘little factual data’, I am not certain of how you arrive at your comparator. Is the volume of data comprising BEST ‘little’? (I think so, taken on its own. Not too little for some purposes, but surprisingly little given how long we’ve known we ought be making more adequate record of our climate in a much denser grid than we do.) Are the ice cores ‘little’? They span the better part of a million years, and show good consiliency and robustness. The signs of snow cover, sea ice cover, glacial cover and permafrost reduction, are they ‘little’? The ice shelfs breaking off Iceland and Antarctica, ranging in size between twice Manhattan Island and Ireland? Are they little? Habitat shifts in animals and plants? CO2 field tests spanning decades? Four IPCC reports, and a fifth one coming? Observations of Venus and Mars? The geological records?

        How many ‘little’ datasets need accumulate before they don’t come up as ‘little’? Considering that the ratio of studies unambiguously confirming AGW and other IPCC positions to the ratio of studies casting doubt on them is at least 5:1, and as much as 50:1, I’m confused by how you come to use the word ‘little’ in this context at all.

        Size here, however, doesn’t matter. What matters is sufficiency. AGW is proved to at least six sigma. CO2 rise due human CO2E emission, even more confidently established. Little? Pfft. Dream on.

        You have no reasonable path by which CO2 will not continue to rise for decades

        I limit my scope to decades, why? And really, you haven’t been paying attention if you don’t know that I do indeed accept that there may be unproven but reasonable paths for anthropogenic CO2 mitigation. I am skeptical of them, they comprise the wooly field of geoengineering. I’m not convinced of the wisdom of experimenting with such activities, but since you’re saying something that is on its face patently false, I thought I’d correct you.

        Not that it’s my issue to determine CO2 level. My issue is to see the Carbon Cycle resource privatized, and let everyone democratically determine CO2 level by their individual choices in the fair Market. Why do you object to democracy and Capitalism?

        You have no information to show you that any conditions that you fear can be avoided by the actions you have previously suggested.

        And again with the fear smear. You mischaracterize my position, and then attack the straw man. Do I seriously come across as ill-informed? Uninformed? Of a habit to act without information? Really?

        You actually have no reasonable/reliable data to show that a warmer world will not benefitthe US or any particular nation more than it may harm that nation.

        Yeah, I do, and I’ve presented it at Climate Etc. However, that’s not really the point. Accidental benefits to some don’t cancel negligent harms to any. Check out the fundamentals of the law of torts. Making surgeons rich by breaking the legs of a basketball team requiring them to be operated on is not going to save you from substantial liability.

      • Bart R: Yes, the earth has warmed, particularly in the 60° – 90° N latitude range since 1880. But 1880 was a relatively cold year. One could say the earth was cooler then. But where is your proof that ” AGW is proved to at least six sigma”? There are numerous studies that show that the earth was warmer in medieval times and colder in the LIA, most recently in a 2012 Scandinavian tree study. There was a rapid warming at northerly latitudes in the 1920s prior to buildup of CO2. Temperatures since 1976 have followed the El Nino cycle, not CO2. Temperatures have been stable for the past 13 years. Yes you are right that the preponderance of published studies lean toward the AGW position but that is the only way to get funding. And even if, as seems likely, AGW did contribute partly to warming since 1880, do we have a good understanding of future impacts if CO2 rises to various future levels? The website: http://www.spaceclimate.net/CO2.graphs.html shows some possible future trends. In order to keep CO2 below 450 ppm by year 2100, we need drastic (I use this word since purists object to “draconian”) cutbacks in carbon emissions immediately. I agree there are risks in allowing the CO2 concentration to grow in the future, but the impacts of drastic cutbacks in carbon emissions seem to be better established and are worse than the impacts of AGW from increases in CO2 concentration. I don’t agree with Starkey that AGW would be beneficial. I would like to see carbon emissions reduced. BAU in the 21st century is scary. But even more scary is inadequate energy to keep the world running.

      • Donald Rapp | July 19, 2012 at 9:52 am |

        For my ‘proof’ of AGW to at least six sigma, I refer you to the collection of works amassed under the general geas of the reports of the IPCC, plus BEST, and to anyone in the world with blue eyes (caused by Rayleigh Scattering, the same effect as makes the sky blue, and which requires we recognize the effects of CO2 on radiative transfer in the IR wavebands of its absorbtivity). The day eyes and skies stop being blue, you might have an argument.

        ..1880 was a relatively cold year..

        So? Is this David Wojick’s pendulum of temperature all over again? What influences and effects happened in, or prior to, 1880, we have very little reliable information about, except ice cores and a few other paleo reconstructions of lesser reliability and extent, plus geology. So what might have caused the cold conditions, or the cooling, or the warm conditions, or the warming, remain speculative. Like the speculation that interglacial dust acted like fertilizer to cause algae blooms to consume so much CO2 to be absorbed into the ocean as to lead to the ice ages (though that’s a pretty compelling hypothesis, as it stands, and perhaps worth study) is only speculation yet.

        The evidence, the hypotheses, the inferences based on the observations we currently have tell us AGW is accurate or very nearly true, and we ought treat these conclusions as right until better evidence does not merely lead us to develop unproven alternate hypotheses, but also we have superior proofs of these alternatives. Otherwise, every logical conclusion is overthrown by the first fiction proposed.

        And you.. all you do is propose fictions.

      • Dear Bart R.: I refer you to:
        http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=donald+rapp
        where you can order books like “Assessing Climate Change”, and “The Climate Debate” that show that the IPCC, BEST and your blue sky argument are weak, full of holes, and you are the one proclaiming fiction as fact. What has rather amazed me since I got interested in climatology about six years ago, is the lack of good data and models in climate science, the data being sparse, noisy and of inadequate duration, which contrasts to the assurance, certainty, and lack of doubt in conclusions drawn therefrom by climatologists, as if to imply the weaker the data, the stronger the conclusions. I don’t know how much GHG contributed to the warming of the last 120 years or how much further warming will result in the next 120 years. Neither do you. Neither does the IPCC. Neither does Jim Hansen. Neither does any of the 1000 assertive entries on this blog. Admit it finally. We just don’t know.

      • Bart > The evidence, the hypotheses, the inferences based on the observations we currently have tell us AGW is accurate or very nearly true

        iow, CAGW. A laughable neo-religious fiction, repeated merely to boost the writer’s preference for a more politically dominated world regardless of whether it it warranted on scientific grounds or not (Ie indistinguishable from IPCC pro-political propaganda).

      • Latimer Alder

        Ummm

        Aren’t you rather missing out the bit about assessing the strength of the alarmist claims?

        There used to be a bloke who wandered around the West End of London alarming theatre queues on how the world was about to end unless they immediately became vegetarians. As far as know few took his advice, and he ended before the world did.

        It is not enough just to take drastic action ‘in case the alarmist predictions are right’. You are supposed to put some rational thought about them in as well.

        But then, this is climatology, so I don’t expect much anyway….much better to run around like headless chickens expecting doomsday three weeks come next Tuesday and squawking about it.

      • Dear Latimer:
        I was not arguing that the world should undergo draconian reductions in GHG emissions ‘in case the alarmists are right’. I was implying that the draconian reductions in emissions indicated by alarmists like James Hansen (for example) are not compatible with a modern technological industrial world. While the consensus may exist that rising GHG is a bad thing, I doubt that there is consensus on how to deal with the problem. In order to keep 21st century CO2 below 450 ppm, we would need an immediate drastic cutback in world usage of fossil fuels. This would not be technically compatible with a modern industrialized world, and it would not be politically or economically viable. There are a zillion commentaries on the consensus, but just what are the parties to the consensus agreeing to?

      • Donald Rapp | July 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
        “In order to keep 21st century CO2 below 450 ppm, we would need an immediate drastic cutback in world usage of fossil fuels. This would not be technically compatible with a modern industrialized world, and it would not be politically or economically viable.”
        I don’t agree.
        If one is assuming that human emission of CO2 is mostly caused by fossil fuel emission, then we focus on which fossil fuel causes a considerable amount of these emissions. And that is coal. China is double US emission because of it’s coal use rather than it’s use “in general” of fossil fuels.
        Coal use is for electrical production. For electrical production one can easily use nuclear energy [no emission] or natural gas [much lower emission]. Had the focus been on increasing the use of nuclear energy, then we could seen a 20% or more reduction in fossil fuel emission [by mainly using far less coal].

        Now keeping CO2 below 450 ppm by year 2100 perhaps would be difficult. I think it require more modest change towards nuclear energy, particularly at this point in time with China already invested in a bunch of new coal power plants. So perhaps at this late stage it’s been made more difficult. One might need a revolution in costs of nuclear energy- so Nuclear energy always cheaper than coal, or even natural gas for this sort of situation. But I think most don’t think it’s possible to have CO2 level at or below 450 by 2100- so if was less than 500 ppm, that probably better than anyone expects, nor would this incite dire climate predictions.

      • gbaikie:
        According to:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_Energy_consumption.png
        coal provides about 25% of the world’s energy. If most of this coal were replaced by natural gas, that would reduce carbon emissions by at most 20%. You are right that this would indeed be a significant step toward reduction of emissions (at what cost?). But considering the projected rise in world population and the industrialization of developing countries, world energy demand is expected to double by 2050 even with improvements in energy efficiency. According to Jim Hansen, the safe level is 350 ppm. Right now the world is emitting about 8 Gt/yr of C, and in order to hold the year-2100 level of CO2 below 450 ppm, the world would need to ramp down from the present level of 8 Gt/yr to less than 2 Gt/yr by 2050 and hold it below that level. A business-as-usual projection with greatly increased use of natural gas and further inclusion of renewables might suggest an emission rate of 10 Gt/yr in 2050, so reducing to 2 Gt/yr constitutes an 80% reduction from the BAU projection even with increased use of natural gas. Freezing the emission rate at 8 Gt/yr for the next 90 years results in a CO2 concentration of about 540 ppm in year-2100. There is no shortage of dire climate predictions at almost any future level of CO2.

      • “gbaikie:
        According to:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_Energy_consumption.png
        coal provides about 25% of the world’s energy. If most of this coal were replaced by natural gas, that would reduce carbon emissions by at most 20%.”
        Methane is CH4, it mostly burns hydrogen making water
        Coal is mostly burning carbon
        Your chart is to 2005, and the steep line going up. is mostly from China, and currently coal may be providing 25 to 30% of world’s energy but producing much higher percent of CO2 emission..
        China burning about 4 billion tons of coal making about 8 billion tons of CO2. US at highest point burned about 1 billion tonnes of coal making twice the amount in CO2. China emission is twice US and is because it’s using a lot of coal. So coal burning of US and China making 10 billion tonnes of CO2, world is 30 billion. So that is about 1/3 global human emission of fossil fuels. Europe is increasing their coal use as are other countries. Europe increasing coal use mostly because idiot Kyoto agreement and corruption of policy meant to lower CO2 emission.
        Anyway, about 1/2 of global CO2 is or about to be from coal burning.
        But if replace coal with natural gas one would get a around 20% in global CO2 emission, as I am not suggesting we outlaw coal use, but instead lower costs to make nuclear power and do as we doing with fracking to increase natural gas, such policy could significantly lower coal use.
        In US 40% of energy was made from coal, now it’s around 30% with natural gas replacing it and climbing to 30%, and we will get lower coal use as more natural gas is made.

      • “You are right that this would indeed be a significant step toward reduction of emissions (at what cost?).”

        As say [not well], at this point, hard to do, if target is 450 by 2100.
        I would very easy if 20 years ago the focus had been on increasing nuclear energy use.
        But we don’t control China [and we don’t want to control China].
        We largely created China by stupid domestic regulations- which no doubt some people thought was a no cost option to take. Because a lot people are idiots- particularly democrats.

        So In my mind it’s possible we will not reach 450 ppm by 2100 for various reasons, which will not discuss. But in terms of targets I think, first we should not have some target century in the future, but if wants to plan 100 years into the future I think a 500 ppm would more doable.
        If you accept 500 ppm and ask about costs.

        It seem foolish not invest in technology that can reduce global CO2 which would have a low cost. I would not favor doing this on large scale, at the moment but would favor developing the technology so if it’s deemed desirable one has this option at a known risk and known cost.

        So in terms of total program start to program end cost, somewhere around a few billion dollars could spent in fertilizing open ocean to encourage plant growth on small scale and studying results, etc.

        Second I think more should done regarding methane hydrate ocean mining. Japan doing this, but other countries should also do this.

        I think the huge benefits with having higher CO2 levels and don’t begin to have problem with below 450 ppm. But there also be benefit to causing more biomass in the ocean, so if reached 450 ppm and if there was enough knowledge of consequence of fertilizing large area of ocean and this could done low cost [or possibly as way make profit [no cost] then perhaps the public could see value in permitting or doing this.

        If you shouldn’t count on fertilizing or getting large amount of Methane from ocean at a low cost. So one alternative paths.
        An alternate path is something like what Bill gates doing small nuclear reactors- and small, cheap, reusable, safe.
        More immediate could doing government work of making the cost building nuclear power plants cheaper. Which basically eliminating delays from after plan approved- allowing construction without years of unnecessarily delays- mainly court action intended to drive up cost of construction, due to political opposition to having any nuclear power.
        Also encourage export of technology of fracking so other countries to use their natural gas resources.

        Next china is simply going to run out of coal. Coal in China is about 12 times the cost of coal in US. This indicates 2 things. First they already having shortage. They have reached or nearing the idiot phrase “peak coal”. And the inherent problem of coal and that is it is costly to ship. Trains or trucks are not an efficient way to ship cheap fossil fuels. Coal has logistics problem in China.
        And this logistic problem gets much worse if China imagines it going to import a significant amount of it’s coal. Coal is best used near where it’s mined.
        So with domestic coal China will have huge and various problems using large amount of coals- and that will run out [probably] within 30 years. And would make a lot economic sense cut coal use within 20 years [maybe extend it to 40 year rather than 30].
        So China using 4 billion tonnes or more of coal per year has about 20 year lifetime [probably at most].

        it sure would nice to have lots of methane China could buy in about 20 years- probably what Japan has in mind.

      • Rob Starkey

        Donald
        My apologies if my comment was obtuse. I try to communicate clearly but seem to have failed in this case.

        I asked- “What data should drive a reasonable person to the conclusion that a warmer world is worse overall for humanity over the long term?”
        My point here is that the science community has not been able to reach a consensus on what the temperature is likely to increase by as a function of additional CO2 and that figure is essential to determine the net impacts to humanity over the long term. Understanding the rate of any warming in any specific area is a key to understanding whether humans will be harmed or helped and by what amount. Putting out a forecast that includes a margin of error that is insufficiently bounded is meaningless since the rates of temperature rise that could result would include results that would be both of no concern and potentially a great concern. The outputs of the models need to be reliable and sufficiently bounded to have meaning.

        I asked- “Now to make it a bit more practical and unfortunately more difficult- What data should drive the leaders of any particular nation to conclude that their nation will be worse off or better off overall over the long term?” In order to determine whether the people of an individual nation suffer harms or benefits will depend upon the changes in temperature, wind and rainfall patterns that would occur in that particular nation. There are NO MODELS today that can provide us with reliable information to determine these impacts. In spite of there be no reliable models to describe the changes in temperature, wind and rainfall patterns, a great deal has been written in peer reviewed papers stating how much worse humanity as a result of it getting warmer.

      • Dear Rob Starkey:
        I am not disagreeing with anything you said. But the subject of this thread is consensus and I think perhaps your message deals more with possible
        benefits of global warming, rather than the nature and value of consensus. One of my points about consensus is that most people working in climatology are specialists and probably do not have a broad synoptic view of the many aspects of climatology. So, a consensus of climatologists does not represent a consensus of broadly knowledgeable generalists. I worked for many years at JPL in developing space missions. We had many specialists working on a project (power, propulsion, navigation, communication, mechanisms, …) but the glue that held it together was system engineering. One aspect of system engineering was integration and compatibility of specialties. Another was exhaustively identifying all the things that could go wrong, and providing avoidance or remedies for every one. Doubt and skepticism during the design stage was not only tolerated but encouraged. Where are the system engineers in climate science? I don’t see it in the peer reviewed literature. I begin to see some of it on judithcurry.com but the blogosphere is too diffuse and full of ego to fulfill the role effectively. I do salute Judith Curry. Her website provides great topics, and good contributions (not one-sided). Unfortunately it takes forever to wade through the many blog entires to find an occasional nugget.

      • Rob Starkey

        Donald

        As an aerospace systems engineer I share many of your views. To claim there is a consensus, the person making the claim needs to specify exactly what issue/topic they believe the consensus has been reached on.

        Imo, the only issue where there is a general consensus is the concept of AGW overall. There is no consensus on the rate of warming, whether it will be harmful or benefit particular nations, and what steps should be taken.

        The impass is a bit silly since many no regrets policy actions could be taken.

      • Latimer Alder

        Hi Donald

        I’m delighted to say that my first job title in IT was as a ‘Systems Engineer’. We too tried to wade through the many technicalities of the subject while still focussing on the big picture of what the systems we designed and installed were commissioned to do. And to make sure that they did so.

        You ask ‘where are the systems engineers in climate science’?

        The answer appears to be outside it and in the blogosphere. Apart (perhaps) from Pachauri, there is nobody at all inside the field to take a broad view of it. It is populated solely by tekkies (*).This is a major weakness. Like a NASA mission without a Flight Controller or a military mission without a general or a strategist.

        (*) No general disrespect to tekkies meant. But for a team to be successful you need more than just technical abilities. You need managerial and organisational skill as well.

      • Joe Sixpack | July 17, 2012 at 10:35 am |

        No doubt you will be pondering equally seriously on the historical origins of the term ‘denier’? And giving us the benefit of your condemnation of such a wrong-headed description?

        Because the relevancy of the one to the other exists how?

        But why don’t I help you with that question.

        http://lmgtfy.com/?q=etymology+denier

        http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/Denier first published in 1828 in its modern sense.

        1828.

        That’s over 110 years before World War II. I mentioned that because it’s not plain people making the sort of mistake of getting upset about being referred to as Climate Deniers would know when World War II started, or how to find a dictionary, or how to use Google, or the difference between ‘before’ and ‘after’, because if they did they’d never make such a bald-faced assertion as there’s anything offensive or inaccurate about the usage or linking it to a specific historical context.

        Now, if someone called you Climate Kafiri, that’d be pretty serious.

        But really, it’s like being upset by being called Science Illiterate because many cannibal tribes are illiterate, or being upset about being Rhetorically Malformed because Richard III had a hunchback and was a villain. Wouldn’t you rather be upset that you’ve been discovered to be bending rhetorical devices inappropriately, exposed for scientific ignorance, and caught in gainsaying established and solidly-founded conclusions based on well-grounded evidence, than making up stuff that is completely irrelevant?

        Like ‘denier’ is irrelevant to ‘draconian’?

      • Donald Rapp | July 17, 2012 at 11:50 am |

        For me, “draconian” means generally a primitive economy, and specifically to me, no air conditioning or heat, no car, intermittent power, and a horse and buggy to get around.

        So long as you’re being so completely rational, grounded in reality, keeping such a fair and balanced perspective, and not being insanely alarmist about Lovecraftian Economics, who can argue with you?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        And again, from Bart R we get ridiculous remarks:

        That’s over 110 years before World War II. I mentioned that because it’s not plain people making the sort of mistake of getting upset about being referred to as Climate Deniers would know when World War II started, or how to find a dictionary, or how to use Google, or the difference between ‘before’ and ‘after’, because if they did they’d never make such a bald-faced assertion as there’s anything offensive or inaccurate about the usage or linking it to a specific historical context.

        Bart R acts as though the fact the word “denier” existed before WWII means people who feel there is a Holocaust association are morons. Of course, anyone who is remotely familiar with how the term “denier” came to be used in climate discussions would know it started with a person making an explicit association between the Holocaust and denier.

        But hey, apparently people are idiots if they think the usage of a word can change.

      • Joe Sixpack

        @bart r

        Your historical analysis is way off the mark.

        The meanings and usage of words change with time and with context.

        Example. The ‘n****r’ word was in common usage in the 1600s in the US. Not meant offensively, but as a description. Within my lifetime, it was possible to go to an art shop and, equally without offence, ask for a tube of n****r black paint. ‘The n****r in the woodpile’ was a common expression in the UK as recently as 25 years ago. But nowadays such usage would be considered very offensive and is pretty much unknown.

        So, interesting though the historical basis of both ‘draconian’ and ‘denier’ may be, it is the current meanings that apply to writings made in 2012, not those of the past.

        Your point fails.

      • Joe Sixpack | July 18, 2012 at 1:40 am |

        Did you really, seriously, just now compare the plight of the poor oppressed nonconsensus climatology outliers, dismissalists, contrarians and kooks to the history of Black America?

        Really?

        That’s where you’re going?

        Amazing. That’s really your perspective on all this?

      • Brandon Shollenberger | July 18, 2012 at 12:05 am |

        Of course, anyone who is remotely familiar with how the term “denier” came to be used in climate discussions would know it started with a person making an explicit association between the Holocaust and denier.

        And to illustrate how more than remotely familiar with how the discussion evolved, I can even name the person making the explicit association between the Holocaust and the term denier.

        It was one Siegfried Singer (that’s Dr. Fred Singer, to you), who addressed charges that he was a “paid tobacco denier” by wrapping himself in the shroud of his persecuted people (and mine) and turned the charge into a sign that he was the victim of a racist smear by the startled accuser, who had no clue the word was about to be redefined out from under him.

        While I can’t read Dr. Singer’s mind, and I don’t know he was intentionally playing on emotions by subverting the language to suit his needs, there is a startling cluster of such redefinitions and subversions surrounding the man’s career, to the extend I feel obliged when discussing him to link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_6vDLq64gE out of regard for my audience.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Bart R, bravo at making a comment which completely fails to respond to anything I said while haughtily acting like you rebutted my remark!

      • Brandon Shollenberger | July 19, 2012 at 12:59 am |

        Wouldn’t that be for people who are neither you nor me to decide for themselves?

        Heck, they can even look it up for themselves.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Bart R:

        Wouldn’t that be for people who are neither you nor me to decide for themselves?

        Uh, no? Why would it be up to everyone but the people talking? Everyone can agree or disagree with what I say, but I am part of everyone. So are you. We both get to decide for ourselves whether or not what I said is right, just like everybody else does.

        Of course, whether or not I was right has absolutely nothing to do with what people decide. My statement is true or false based solely upon logic, not popular opinion.

        Heck, they can even look it up for themselves.

        It would be difficult for people to “look it up for themselves” when I said your entire response was a non-sequitur. Speaking of, there is a degree of humor in responding to an accusation of using a non-sequitur by making a non-sequitur. It’s like a person claiming to show he didn’t lie by telling a lie.

      • Donald Rapp | July 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

        Why “draconian”?

        What specific justification and evidence do you have for throwing around a term meaning in its historical origins a set of laws so absolute and harsh in their tyranny as to call for the death of the accused for even minor transgressions?

        If only draconian measures were available, you’d have a leg to stand on. If we believed the world is full of people who are eager to submit to new draconian measures, you might have a point.

        And sure, a few extremists hurl about proposals that are not merely draconian but also would be ineffectual; sometimes because they’re merely irrational or ignorant, sometimes because they have an ulterior motive, and sometimes for the FUD value of confusing the efforts to reach political consensus. That last one, let’s call the Australian School of Economics.

        Rational, measured, democratic, advantageous, proven, known measures to reduce GHG emissions or compensate those affected by the emissions at the expense of those who make lucrative profit from emitting are far more likely to be sought, and to work. British Columbia’s fee and dividend “Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax” has lowered the business and income taxes of its citizens (that’d be the opposite of “draconian”, I think) while that economy (the size of South Carolina’s) has thrived for half a decade now. No ruin. No downturn. Success and wealth for the whole economic system flow out of fee and dividend mechanisms.

      • No doubt you will be pondering equally seriously on the historical origins of the term ‘denier’? And giving us the benefit of your condemnation of such a wrong-headed description?

      • Thanks Joe S. To Bart R.: For me, “draconian” means generally a primitive economy, and specifically to me, no air conditioning or heat, no car, intermittent power, and a horse and buggy to get around. To you, it seems to be a definition in a book.

      • “Rational, measured, democratic, advantageous, proven, known measures…”

        Bart R, why don’t you tell your fairy stories to your little statist friends who can pretend to believe them.

        Andrew

      • Donald Rapp,

        What an excellent point:

        I worked for many years at JPL in developing space missions. We had many specialists working on a project (power, propulsion, navigation, communication, mechanisms, …) but the glue that held it together was system engineering. One aspect of system engineering was integration and compatibility of specialties. Another was exhaustively identifying all the things that could go wrong, and providing avoidance or remedies for every one. Doubt and skepticism during the design stage was not only tolerated but encouraged. Where are the system engineers in climate science?

        Where are the system engineers in climate science?

        Scientists think it is the IPCC. But the IPCC is nothing like systems engineering.

        Consensus is not what’s needed. System engineering is what is needed.

      • tempterrain

        “Direct politics is pretty notable by its absence on this blog. ” ?? Really?
        You obviously don’t read Peter Lang’s comments. But I suppose I can’t blame you for that :-)

        But there are plenty of others too.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        ‘You obviously don’t read Peter Lang’s comments’

        I do read Peter Lang’s comments. Though I don’t agree with everything he says, I see that he calls for a rational fact and number-based evaluation of the risks, costs and benefits we may or may not be facing because of ‘climate change’..

        If you consider that such calls are ‘political’, then I fear you are using your own definition of the word. Seems that anybody who disagrees with you is ‘political’ in your lexicon. Perhaps you’d put a wee sub or superscript by it next time so that we can identify it as your own special term and not to be confused with common usage.

        But overall, I considerably prefer Peter’s approach to your purely emotional and fear-based kneejerks. Anybody – such as yourself – who can parade Greg Craven’s re-discovery of Pascal’s Wager (pub 1670) as a breakthrough in decision making has left the logical and rational far far behind.

      • tempterrain

        Latimer,

        Pascals wager concerns a reason to believe in God. But no-one can force themselves to believe in anything in particular just for some supposed gain. It just isn’t possible.

        On the other hand, if you even think there may be a hungry crocodile living in the creek, even though you believe it to be unlikely on balance, it still makes sense to avoid swimming across if there is an alternative such as a bridge or a ferry available by walking upstream. Its not too hard to force yourself to do that. Any sensible person would at least look for an alternative.

        If you follow Greg’s Craven logic with the crocodile problem you’ll agree that it makes perfect sense not to swim across. But of course you could be lucky. The crocodile may decide he’s just not hungry that day.

        Peter Lang,

        You seem to approve of engineers rather more than scientists. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t they probably a bit more conservative than scientists? If the bridge will take 10 tonnes, according to theory, wouldn’t they impose a limit of 5?

        If an hypothetical Earth’s system engineer were asked to calculate a safe limit for CO2, and other GH, gas concentrations, is it really likely that we’d get an answer of: “Anything you like. Just pump it up as high as you can She’ll be right mate!”

      • Donald Rapp

        Most “climate scientists who practice and publish climate science” work and publish in a very narrow slice of climate science and are not qualified to determine whether the rather gigantic IPCC Report is accurate or not. The issue facing mankind is not whether GHG cause warming (they do), or how much of recent warming is due to GHG (we don’t know), but rather, how draconian must our reduction in GHG emissions to comply with alarmist predictions of disaster (in case they are right), and how can we provide the people of the world with energy while effecting such draconian reductions in GHG emissions?

        Excellent point. Succinctly put. This really is the crux of the issue.

      • To put things in perspective, consider the two graphs shown at
        http://www.spaceclimate.net/CO2.graphs.html
        The upper graph shows the history of CO2 emission (Gt/yr) to 2010, and five scenarios for future emission. The uppermost curve is a BAU projection (IS92) heavily based on coal with gradual infusion of renewables. The next curve assumes replacement of much of the coal by natural gas but still BAU. The next curve is hold 2010 level (8 GT/yr) constant in future. Then there are two downward ramps.
        The lower graph shows a rough estimate of the resultant CO2 concentrations in the 21st century for each of the five emission scenarios. The year-2100 CO2 concentrations are:
        IS92 BAU: 750 ppm
        2012 BAU (nat. gas): 680 ppm
        Freeze at 2010: 570 ppm
        Ramp downward: 480 ppm
        Fast ramp: 450 ppm
        Also Hansen’s “safe level” of 350 ppm. The fast ramp goes from 8 Gt/yr in 2010 to 4 Gt/yr in 2035 to 2 Gt/yr in 2060. During this period the earth adds 2 billion people and doubles energy demand.

      • While the climate is extremely complicated and the science is extremely complicated, the policy response does not have to be complicated, and nor should it be. Because, if it is complicated it will get no traction.

        I suggest the policy response could be facilitated by getting policy relevant information distributed widely (I have a suggestion I’ll put in a separate comment).

        What we need to know for policy, is, first, what are the expected damages and damage costs of ‘no mitigation’ policies (e.g. total to 2050, 2100, 2200 by world, region, country.). This can be done on best currently available information and updated as information improves. (No mitigation policy means adaptation instead).

        Second, we need to know what are the estimated abatement costs for different mitigation policies? Importantly, we need to know what is the realistic probability that the proposed mitigation policy would achieve the purported results (of reduced damages).

        We also need to know, quite separately, the estimated cost for an insurance policy such that if the probability of high consequence impacts increases, we can implement the insurance policy. I suspect the optimal policy may be adaptation together with RD&D on technology solutions to provide insurance in case the projections change and the threat of high damage consequences increases. The Copenhagen Consensus has been advocating this approach for a long time. I’ve suggested a major component of a relatively low-cost insurance policy here: http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2012/06/05/conservatives-who-think-seriously-about-the-planet/#comment-111744

        In short, we need policy relevant information. Policy relevant information can be presented simply.

        My suggestion:

        Purpose:

        Educate the “interested, intelligent, non specialists” about what is relevant and most important for policy decisions about CO2 mitigation.

        Assist media, public and policy makers to focus on what’s important.

        How?

        Provide an easy to use web tool/calculator that allows users to easily input and change parameters and see the output as a probability distribution. Step 1, covered here, is just the damage cost of no mitigation.

        Step 1 – Damage Costs if ‘no-mitigation’ (total to 2050 or 2100 or 2200)

        The tool’s features would include:

        1. Output: PDF of probability versus damage cost.

        2. Inputs: PDFs of the important inputs. such as:

        • GDP growth rate (g(TFP) )
        • Rate of decarbonisation (g(CO2 / GDP) )
        • Equilibrium temperature-sensitivity coefficient (T2xCO2)
        • Damage parameter (DamCoeff)
        • Price of backstop technology (P(back) )
        • Asymptotic global population (Pop)
        • Transfer coefficient in carbon cycle (CarCyc)
        • Total resources of fossil fuels (Fosslim)
        Source: Nordhaus (2008) “A question of Balance”, Table 7-1, p127 http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

        Other inputs would be to select a country, region or the world. This would automatically load the default parameters for that country, region or world. Advanced options allows user to change the default parameters.

        3. User interface: The inputs would be chosen by the user from a selection of charts for each input parameter, like these:
        http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/box-10-2-figure-1.html
        with ability to change the shape of the curve and display the statistics that describe the PDF.

        The UK DECC provides several calculators such as this for mix of electricity generation types and total CO2 emissions.

        http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/2050_sim/2050_sim.aspx

        http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov.uk/pathways/1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111/primary_energy_chart

      • Peter Lang,

        All this sounds quite reasonable, of course. Obviously we have to decide on the best possible mix between adaptation and mitigation.

        But, it looks very much like you are denier, following the same path as people like Max (manacker). You start off denouncing all climate science as a hoax or a scam, but then you quickly realise that won’t get you anywhere.

        So, afterwrads its a classic case of the wolf and the sheep’s clothing. You try to make a more measured case that adaptation is highly preferable to any mitigation.

        But why should we believe either you or Max? We know what you want. Its a policy of no mitigation anywhere, ever, on GH gas emissions. And we know why you want it. You think the IPCC, and consensus scientific position, are part of a political conspiracy. Your views are motivated by politics not science. Its going to be very hard for anyone to ever take you seriously when you try to pretend otherwise.

      • Temp
        You keep trying to pretend that that political body the IPCC and its resultant political consensus is scientific. Your views are motivated by politics not science. Its going to be very hard for anyone to ever take you seriously when you try to pretend otherwise.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        You keep on harping – to the point of possible paranoia – about ‘deniers’ having ‘political motives’.

        What I find difficult to understand is why you think that people primarily interested in politics would abandon that interest and spend so much time discussing ‘climate science’.

        Seems a bizarre thing to do. Those with politics a a prime motivation are no doubt perfectly capable of arguing their political case. And there are plenty of other places where they can do so.

        Direct politics is pretty notable by its absence on this blog. It rarely gets up as high as a secondary, let alone a primary, object of debate.

        How do you explain this apparent anomaly? And what evidence do you have that your assertions are correct?

      • Little Lattie is as naive as an infant.

      • tempterrain … keep[s] on harping – to the point of possible paranoia – about ‘deniers’ having ‘political motives’.

        This is a conscious attempt to try and

        (a) confuse skeptics with deniers (the former hugely outnumbering the latter)

        (b) disguise that alarmism is 95% politically motivated (hardly surprising, given that it’s politically funded and organized)

      • tempterrain

        Latimer,

        To paraphrase Joseph Heller, I may be paranoid but that doesn’t mean the motivativations of so-called climate change skeptics aren’t largely political.

        Tomcat,

        Its good that you at least acknowledge the fact that climate change deniers do at least exist.

        “The more people can see the CAGW advocacy sites for what they really are – spin merchants for socialist/progressive/Left ideology – the better.”

        Would you say this was said by a genuine sceptic or a climate change denier?

      • > Tomcat, Its good that you at least acknowledge the fact that climate change deniers do at least exist.

        Tempterrain, it’s good that you’ve stopped inventing strawmen who deny the existence of deniers.

      • tempterrain | July 18, 2012 at 8:07 am said: ”Would you say this was said by a genuine sceptic or a climate change denier?”

        Tempterrain, ”deniers” are GLOBAL warming deniers! NOT Climatic Changes Deniers!!! Your question / definition is LOADED!!! Anybody denying that the climate is changing; they are either blind, or belong to the genera ”Fake Skeptics” – Climate constantly changes, some places for better / others for worse. Denier, denies categorically, that the overall GLOBAL temp goes up and down for more than few minutes!!! It’s a concocted lie; same as calling the deniers ”climate change deniers” that is a lie also! For how many people this simple statement is too complicated? DENIER = NO GLOBAL WARMINGS – YES CLIMATIC CHANGES.

        Deniers are a camp, in-between the Warmist and the Fake Skeptics (golden middle) Fake Skeptics are the ones who believe 101% in the phony GLOBAL warmings / Warmist believe in 90% possibility of GLOBAL warming in 100y. Deniers believe in ZERO GLOBAL WARMINGS / climatic changes never stopped, not for one day in the last 4 billion years, and never will.

        Warmist & Fakes also belong to the same subspecies as: ”Climate from Changing Stoppers” Sometime it’s impossible to see any difference between those two faiths – same as the difference between two cheeks on a same ass – there must be some difference; but I can’t notice, what?
        I’m glad to clear up those MISLEADING / LOADED COMMENTS

      • Donald Rapp,
        @ July 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm

        Thank you for your reply. Did you see my longer reply to your comment @ July 17, 2012 at 10:43 pm

        Yes to all that. But what is the consequence? If it is no big deal, then so what? The answer is very dependent on the consequence. James Hansen’s 350 ppm danger limit is nothing more than scaremongering, IMO.

        Scary adjectives, and numbers plucked from you know where as Hansen has done, are unpersuasive to me.

        As I’ve posted on many previous comments, I interpret work by Nordhaus, Tol and others, to suggest AGW is not all that bad and will be largely handled by adaption and transition to nuclear power this century. To convince me otherwise I would need to have a better understanding of the costs and benefits of proposed mitigation policies.

      • P. Lang: The website: http://www.spaceclimate.net/CO2.graphs.html
        shows several possible future scenarios for carbon emissions and the consequent increases in CO2 concentration. You can pick your poison (so to speak). The economic and technical dislocations resulting from drastic cutbacks in carbon emissions are difficult to predict. The first law of economics is that given two economists, you get two opinions. The second law is that they are both wrong. I hope you are right that “AGW is not all that bad” but I am almost sure you are not.

      • Donald Rapp,

        Thank you for your reply. You say:

        I hope you are right that “AGW is not all that bad” but I am almost sure you are not.

        OK. So can you answer these questions? (I provide some links to references that are influencing my thinking.)

        1. How bad is it?
        Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance
        http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

        Nordhaus (2012) “Economic policy in the face of severe tail events
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9779.2011.01544.x/full

        2. How much should we spend?
        What the Carbon tax and ETS will really cost
        http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

        3. What is that expenditure intended to achieve (what are the measures of success; e.g. in terms of changes to the climate and changes to the rate of change of sea level)?

        4. What is the probability that if we spend that money it will fix the climate and stop sea level rising (or achieve whatever the measurable goals are)?

        5. What are the other consequences of spending that money on AGW?
        Why the Decision to Tackle Climate Change Isn’t as Simple as Al Gore Says
        http://www.tnr.com/blog/critics/75757/why-the-decision-tackle-climate-change-isn%E2%80%99t-simple-al-gore-says

        6. What are the other risk we face and what is our risk management strategy for them?
        World Economic Forum “Global Risks 2012
        http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-2012-seventh-edition

  3. “It is time to abandon the concept of consensus in favor of open debate of the arguments themselves and discussion of a broad range of policy options that include bottom up approaches to decreasing vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events and developing technologies to expand energy access.”

    I love this statement right up until the “discussion of policy options that include/….approached to decreasing vulnerability etc etc…”

    I’m sorry. It sounds good, but when you get right down to it, isn’t this just more pie in the sky? There’s no evidence right now that Co2 is doing anything at all to increase extreme weather or climate events of any kind. What technologies would we even be legitimately talking about at this point?

    • Pokerguy, “I love this statement right up until the “discussion of policy options that include/….approached to decreasing vulnerability etc etc…”

      How about, “discussion of policy options on less controversial means of limiting potential climate impact while stimulating local and regional solutions to multifaceted issues: land use, conservation farming, water resource conservation, urban heat island mitigation, black carbon and cost effective cleaner energy solutions.”

      De-emphasize the CO2 tunnel vision to encourage common sense stewardship.

      • Roger Caiazza

        I suggest that the point is that extreme weather and climate events will happen with or without any additional warming or cooling caused by mankind’s activities. Therefore, it is a “no regrets” option to decrease vulnerability to weather extremes.

        I suggest revising Captdallas to
        “discussion of policy options on less controversial means of limiting potential extreme weather impacts while stimulating local and regional solutions to multifaceted issues: land use, conservation farming, water resource conservation, urban heat island mitigation, black carbon, cost effective cleaner energy solutions, and developing technologies to expand energy access efficiently.”

      • Roger, it’s only “no regrets” if the expected risk-adjusted returns from the vulnerability-decreasing measures exceed those from alternative uses of resources. Government agencies are notorious for “gold-plating,” i.e. for building to standards far exceeding what would be appropriate. The options would all need to be subject to cost-benefit analysis (and, CBA-nay-sayers, CBA can take account of impacts which can’t readily be given a monetary value).

      • Roger Caiazza

        Faustino
        Point taken but at least the risk-adjusted returns for potential extreme weather events has an expected value. Compare that to mitigation costs in the US when other countries have no intention of reducing their emissions. In that case you are always dividing by zero.

  4. It is how the consenus treats skeptic says it all.We saw that play out with Hurricane Hunter Bill Gray and how the left treated Kyoto fighter, Bush the Great. Achtung baby.

  5. I’m just uncertain;
    Consensus ain’t convincin’.
    Fear cold, not the warm.
    ============

  6. I think a tiny bit on the history of science and how the use of technology can cause big problems.
    False positives are common in all demographic data mining exercises; with genetic studies being under the spotlight following the explosion in gene-chip technology. Data, computers and poor statistical expertise is a recipe for disaster.
    The linear response of cell damage to ionizing radiation is thoroughly disproven in vito and in vivo (see the Aircrew upregulation of BER and antioxidant pathways), yet is still used by regulators.
    The size of the human genome was a shock to the ‘pure’ geneticists, but not so much to the protein chemists.
    The huge amount of tainted data obtained using the ‘wrong’ cell lines should bring no comfort to anyone; at least the ATCC have taken a lead and are now testing their catalog.
    X-Ray crystallographers not only deposit their derived structures, but MUST, deposit all their election density data in a public archive. Anyone can download any reported structure and see if they can reconstruct the same coordinates.
    The North American and European DNA/RNA/Protein sequence archives come with user friendly search engines and you can find any sequence of DNA/RNA/protein that has ever been publish, and much not published. BLAST is a blast and open to anyone, anytime.

  7. Gordon Cheyne

    Before a consensus can be reached, the terms need to be defined.
    The IPCC defined “climate change” as the changes due to mankind: hence the whole debate was skewed by the assumption that all climate changes are due to man.

    • I agree. That bias needs to be removed as an important facilitating step to acceptance that what IPCC is not biased.

    • Yes! Very important.

    • Climate change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity. This usage differs from that in the Framework Convention on Climate Change, where climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. …

      • That’s GLOBAL climate change (any change in global climate over time). Climate change, on the other hand, includes ANY climate change. When you travel from one climate zone to another, you experience climate change.

  8. Starting with a statement by a politician isn’t a promising start.
    It sets a tone of politics rather than science.

    And then the NIPPC……..oh, dear. Then referring to the NIPPC’s 30,000 scientists (highly misleading) claim, which is of course it’s own rather ironic appeal to consensus.

    These add nothing and distract from the more considered later discussion.

    • Clever Michael, but I say false equivalency re the NIPCC and what you see as its own ironic appeal to consensus. What do you want them to do, write 30 000 individual letters of dissent?

    • Michael,

      Seems people can see when you’re making an effort:

      http://rabett.blogspot.ca/2012/07/gold-amdst-dross.html

      You can do better than offer us ironic facepalm moments.

      Please take time to explain why the claim you underlined is highly misleading.

      Think about all those who do not know why.

      • My impression of that list, without reading right through, is that not everyone on it was a scientist with relevant expertise. It seemed to be in part a number-gathering exercise as a counter to the IPCC claiming legitimacy for its findings because x thousand scientists supported them. The 32,000 isn’t a strong point except to note that a considerable number of people, many of them highly qualified, dispute the claimed consensus, making it of questionable value.

      • Faustino, that’s being too kind.

        Anyone could have signed it – all they had to do was tick the box that they were a ‘scientist’. And they seemed pretty liberal as to what constituted a ‘scientist’. Could be anyone with a B.Sc or “equivalent”, whatever the hell that might.

        The accountability and transparency here is zero.

        It’s no more than PR from a lobby group.

        I think it’s pretty poor that Judith is so unskeptical to take this claim at face value and present it as a fact.

        It’s a technique from the worst of churnalism.

      • PR from a lobby group

        ie no different to the IPCC.

      • “PR from a lobby group

        ie no different to the IPCC.”

        Did IPCC actually have list of 1000 with names?

      • Et tu, IPCC?

      • Et tu? Mmm … the IPCC is hardly a mere accomplice in the assassination (of genuine climatology). Its look has always been of the lean and hungry variety.

      • To add to my own point, here is the answer I found back this morning:

        > In the larger debate, we each play a role. The ground swell of support or rejection will be made up of thousands of tiny, almost inconsequential interactions, not just by the major players known to all, but among the millions of anonymous folks that no one knows about. Folks like Kendra. Or Marco. Or myself. Or your neighbors, the parents picking up their kids at school, or the barista that pours your coffee.

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/27190159226

        Snarkiness is oftentimes self-defeating.

        Not that I don’t understand the urge, mind you.

  9. You could have stopped with the Eban quote. It says everything.

  10. Rudyard Istvan

    Dr. Curry, don’t change a word. Thoughtful and well phrased given the hornet’s nest into which you go.
    I offer in support of your thesis a very personal anecdote about why ‘consensus’ science can be erroneous. In 2005 I was reviewing some energy storage science and ran across a class of devices (electrochemical double layer capacitors) that had much promise. EDLC ‘consensus’ science goes back to Ludwig von Helmholtz (1880s) and the origins of lightning.
    Literally everyone ‘knew’ that mesoporous surface was key to improving EDLC performance. Except that from 1993 on no one had succeeded. This included efforts in the US, Japanese, and Korean national labs, and in materials systems including activated carbons, carbon aerogels, carbon nanotubes, carbide derived carbons, templated carbons, and (after Geim’s 2004 discovery that won a Nobel prize) graphenes. Nothing worked. Even though these materials definitely improved mesoporous surface.
    As an outsider (not ‘knowing’ the consensus theory), I just looked at the experimental data. What the consensus said was not what the data said. Several issuing patents, several years of materials development, and much consensus rejection later, we are building a world scale pilot line for materials at least 40% better than anything ever before. That business could be close to a billion dollars in revenues by 2020. And it directly reduces global warming by cutting carbon dioxide emissions…
    The point is not electrocarbons. It is their analogy to climate science. I looked at ‘all’ data on UTH (and GCM proxy UTrH), and on clouds. Why? Because all radiative balance equations say those are the two most significant atmospheric feedbacks, from which all else follows. The data do not match the GCMs, or published AGW ‘theory’. Selection bias is evident. That almost always says some agenda is at work.
    I cannot speak to when climate science made possible wrong turns. I carefully traced the wrong turns in ELDC. The first was made in 1924. The second was made in 1948. The third was made in 1974. The fourth was made in 1975. After that, the accumulation of slight but fundamental errors was written in stone as the ‘consensus’. Except it was wrong.
    Just like the fundamental feedbacks of present GCMs can be shown (with much less precision) to be ‘wrong’. Dr. Curry posted my views on crop yields, and on UTH. Dr. Curry could post my views on sensitivity. Clouds are reserved for my next book. Research ICOADS and ISCCP observations versus GCMs yourselves. Do not take at face value what consensus papers and comments assert. Data is still just data.
    Regards
    ‘Lukewarm’ Rud Istvan

  11. Paul Vaughan

    “I am especially hoping for suggestions for the last section “Ways forward.””

    ENSO variance decomposition using:
    a) variable-extent complex-wavelets.
    b) LOD, AAM, tropical SST gradients, total column ozone, QBO, & solar variables (incl. solar wind & heliospheric current sheet (HCS) Earth-crossings).

  12. Rudyard Istvan

    Another thought pointed to the precise question concerning your article’s conclusions. There is no such thing as a ‘consensus’ in science. There are well established and fully proven basic ‘laws’ (Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Boltzmann, Heisenberg). These are not a ‘consensus’, because anyone who doubts them should be consigned to the lunatic fringe. And then there is the rest– which people spend their lives researching. ‘Consensus’ under conditions other than ‘laws’ is merely a human effort to hide objective uncertainty behind a collective fiction. That works in politics, not science.
    Climate change has hardly achieved the status of an experimental physical ‘law’ despite Hansen, Mann, and ilk efforts to assert it as so.
    There is the crux of your problem and your essay.
    Regards
    Rud Istvan

    • Michael Larkin

      There are well established and fully proven basic ‘laws’ (Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Boltzmann, Heisenberg). These are not a ‘consensus’, because anyone who doubts them should be consigned to the lunatic fringe.

      I take exception to the mention of Darwin. For a start, there is no Darwinian law. Evolution has occurred over billions of years, to be sure, but the theory (not law) of Natural Selection as its primary mechanism is in my view very much open to question.

      The relevant point in the present context is that by mentioning Darwin, one is going with a consensus that is not unchallengeable. We still don’t know what the primary mechanism is for evolution. Never has Natural Selection been observed to produce macroevolutionary changes. The nearest evidence, I’d say, is microevolutionary–e.g. the formation of ring species.

      By saying that people who make observations such as I have done “should be consigned to the lunatic fringe”, you are doing exactly what climate consensualists do when they call people “deniers”. As is the case with “deniers”, everyone who dissents is labelled with the same, undifferentiated and pejorative category name.

      Hence objection to a consensus (such as the incontrovertibility of Natural Selection) places everyone from creationists to reasoned doubters (and there are some with serious scientific credentials) in the same grab bag. It’s a mechanism for isolating dissenters and discouraging intelligent questioning.

      Likewise, Paul Bain’s recent paper in Nature effectively placed everyone who didn’t support fullblown CAGW (including lukewarmers such as you self-describe) into the same, undifferentiated loony bin. However, have you cause to be indignant about that, seeing as you have demonstrated a similar tendency wrt Natural Selection?

      The real issue with “consensus” is that it all too easily becomes a political means of controlling dissention, which has the effect of retarding scientific progress by stifling the freedom to question. It’s one thing to seek consensus as a means to come up with a response to a real and urgent problem (e.g, unambiguous identification of an asteroid that is on a collision course with earth), and another as a means to minimise or even exclude opposition to views on which reputations have been built and ongoing funding depends.

      There’s very little, if anything, in science that can’t be intelligently questioned. And the evidence is that intelligent questioning is a significant driver of scientific progress. It should be actively encouraged. Rupert Sheldrake, like him or loathe him, has come up with a suggestion for “institutionalising” intelligent questioning. Namely, that a fixed, small proportion of funding (even a few percent would make a difference) should be allocated across the board specifically for investigation of non-consensus possibilities. There’d probably also need to be increased readiness of journals to accept dissenting papers. It should be part of the culture to have some recognised place for dissention by bona-fide scientists.

      One point to bear in mind is that small amounts given to investigate different views can be highly cost-effective. Hundreds of scientists following consensus research may lead to much duplication (not necessarily a bad thing, of course) of effort.

      Why can’t we recognise and institutionalise dissent, and back that up with modest funding? There are enough historical examples, I suspect, of cases where dissent led to significant scientific progress. Sure, dissenters aren’t always right, but then nor are consensualists.

      • Michael,

        Strong reasoning throughout your post! Your distillation should be emphasized over and over again, ” a fixed, small proportion of funding should be allocated across the board specifically for investigation of non-consensus possibilities. There’d probably also need to be increased readiness of journals to accept dissenting papers. It should be part of the culture to have some recognised place for dissention by bona-fide scientists”.

        You have put everything in the perfect perspective.

      • Michael Larkin

        I’m flattered, Garry. But remember, the idea originated with Sheldrake (I’m one of those who love his work, btw, but even if one hates it, the suggestion has much to commend it).

    • Joe's World

      Rudyard,

      I do doubt.
      The “LIMITED” technology they had to create the laws and theories that are currently being followed is incorrect when motion is applied.
      To study something inert and studying something in motion generates a whole different effect of parameters. Many NEVER in consideration.

      But you follow this without a thought to it being correct or not.
      Is that not making these into a religion of faith?
      Rather than improve our knowledge base, the defense of these laws and theories are utmost to ANY facts or evidence!

  13. Lance Wallace

    Excellent summary. Shouldn’t there be some discussion of WHY the consensus developed? (Huge government research funding, prestige (Nobel prizes), noble cause corruption, desire of less developed countries for foreign aid…)

    • No, I don’t think so. Dr Curry has done a great job on the subject she has been given. Enough shibboleths to slay this way. Any intelligent reader will at once ask the why question and begin a new voyage of discovery.

      • Would these intelligent readers also wonder why the NIPCC report felt compelled to list 30,000 ‘scientists’ as agreeing with it? These ‘scientists’ being comprised of anyone who claimed to have a BSc (with absolutely no checking of the veracity of this, their knowledge of climate science or even the facts of their existence)?

      • The beauty of the voyage of discovery having read this excellent piece and asking oneself why is that everyone’s journey is different. Some may find their way to the NIPCC and take a dim view of its list of 30,000, whether scientists or not. Some may find their way to Donna Laframboise’s brilliant book on the IPCC. The more mathematically minded may find Nic Lewis’s recent explorations of the IPCC treatment of climate sensitivity right at the core of how badly ‘consensus’ thinking has corrupted decent scientific practice. As I say, the journey is different for everyone.

      • The very least of those 30,000 signatories doubtless know a lot more about science than a numerous ‘Professors’ who hide their data and otherwise fiddle outcomes, or who express no regret at other doing so.
        Come to think of it, your average 10-yearold could teach ‘Professor’ Phil Jones & pals a think or two about integrity in science.

      • Latimer Alder

        And the average 8 year old could probably induct said Phil into the basic mysteries of Excel…. :-(

  14. That seems a bit exhaustive [in both meanings] but I suppose should quite informative to some people.

    re:
    • [Political failure of international negotiations on climate treaties, which relied on consensus to power strategy (need refs)] INCOMPLETE”

    Though it does not seem to fit with article. And isn’t a reference.
    In terms of treaties regarded to GW, I think revisiting NPT, with emphasis on means of help nations develop nuclear energy could be a topic for a treaty.
    Also a treaty to dealing with fertilizing ocean and other kinds technology which “terraform” earth could a topic useful treaty in regards to GW.

    • “[Political failure of international negotiations on climate treaties, which relied on consensus to power strategy (need refs)] INCOMPLETE”

      Take another stab at this.
      So fundamental reason of political failure was US didn’t sign it:
      “The treaty has yet to go into effect, due in large part to the lack of ratification by the United States. The United States sees the treaty as having fatal flaws for various reasons.”
      http://www-pub.naz.edu:9000/~nanatoli/
      “The United States does not support the Kyoto Treaty and the Senate did not ratify it when it was brought before them to be reviewed. The Senate did approve a resolution in September 1997 by a 95-0 vote that listed the minimum requirements that would result in the Senate ratifying the treaty. ”
      http://www-pub.naz.edu:9000/~nanatoli/us.htm
      And four reasons are perfectly reasonable objections.

      though US: “At negotiations, Annex I countries (including the US) collectively agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% on average for the period 2008-2012. This reduction is relative to their annual emissions in a base year, usually 1990.”

      And it looks like US is about country that actually did anything to reach these goals [which also was expected- that US would actually follow laws and other countries would not.] Though no US policy had much affect, the reccession and free markets increasing efficeny and lately all this natural gases from fracking has been what has reduced emission.

      Other refs:
      Nature journal, which require you pay to see [so I don’t look]
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v479/n7373/full/479291a.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20111117
      Was quoted as saying:
      “The Kyoto protocol… as an instrument for achieving emissions reductions, has failed,” it says. “It has produced no demonstrable reductions in emissions or even in anticipated emissions growth.”
      http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/scientists-say-kyoto-protocol-is-outdated-failure-397801.html

      And article also cites it:
      “The authors believe that human-induced climate change is indeed real and serious. But they convincingly argue that in ten years of operation Kyoto has not achieved its goals of reducing international climate emissions (most of the countries that signed up to Kyoto have increased their greenhouse gas emissions in that period); that an intergovernmental treaty between 150 countries was the wrong kind of instrument for solving a problem that is primarily driven by a dozen nations; and that the preoccupation with emissions targets prevented much serious thought about the mechanisms by which the targets would be met, (leading to widespread manipulation in which companies have created potent greenhouse gases in order to make money from claiming Kyoto credits for destroying the gases that they made.)”
      http://climateofchange.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/why-kyoto-has-failed-wicked-problems-and-the-wrong-trousers/

      So I would say that US problem with Kyoto is everyone and their donkey could see this treaty would lead to massive corruption.
      And everyone with any sense, knows that government corruption is main problem is this world- it’s why poor countries are poor.
      Corruption from American point of view is government inhibiting the freedom of it’s citizens- and all the stuff thing flows from this, unchecked power, lack free press, government not accountable, etc.
      Plus the other reason Senate voted against, any treaty thru Senate is nightmare. It generally asking them to concede power, and they don’t like doing that [nor is it popular with the voters].

  15. JC: Blessings on you.

    “..and developing technologies to expand energy access.” I do not know if you meant it in this sense, but alleviating poverty (a.k.a. lack of energy) is a major element of adapting to climate change and every other vicissitude of life.

    On another subject – in the conclusion you seem to avoid the problems with developing a science consensus in the context of a political process. If you think about where UN consensus building has been most successful, it is in defining a moral consensus where the role of science is clearly subsidiary or nonexistent. One concern with the IPCC process is that the moral consensus that are appropriate to other UN initiatives appear to pollute the scientific consensus in a effort to further these other very valid moral imperatives. At this point sorting this out is hard. The IPCC seems to be embracing more gray literature rather than less which to me means they are focusing ever more on the global moral issues rather than climate science.

    So the wickedness of the problem has two dimensions
    – the science itself remains difficult
    – for those for whom the science is settled (and others of course), the moral issues lead to a broad range of policy options driven by diverse moral agendas

    Probably beyond the scope of your paper, but if we are to embrace the precautionary principle, let’s focus on poverty before CO2.

    I’ll have more tomorrow after a more careful review of your most excellent paper.

  16. Dr. Curry,

    I find this sort of an odd paper for me to “review.” Not knowing the journal, my advice may or may not be useful. What I’d like to read explicitly is reference to the serial arguments, ALL of which must be true, that would justify the policies that the IPPC party line, or the forces that it feeds, lays out.
    The arguments:
    – as a trace greenhouse gas, more CO2 warms the planet
    – the industrial revolution has spawned a man-made contribution to atmospheric CO2 (I think mostly everyone agrees with this)
    – feedbacks are positive
    – “our” models and/or selected data on global temperature trends are good and descriptive
    – warming is dangerous, and possibly runaway

    If you take away anything from this, there is no “carbon” market. Well, anyway, it’s pretty clear that 97% of scientists in relevant fields don’t accept “all of the above” as virtual fact.

  17. “in taking decisions, drawing conclusions, and adopting reports, the IPCC Plenary and Working Groups shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus.”

    This is a bit like a mathematical smoothing process on data to expose long term effects, so useful in climate studies. You can use different formulae to expose hidden information. But consensus as an aid to human decision making does have adverse consequences when applied to committees: it results in lowest common denominator decisions which once taken are difficult to reverse. It forces decisions on people before they are ready.
    This is one of the reasons why I have cast doubt on the ability of the UN’s IPCC to manage the project.

    I do quarrel with the use of the term ‘linear’ outside the mathematical meaning. If it only means a sequence of events somehow logically connected, then it degrades the importance ‘non-linearity’, so important to climate science.

  18. Your paper seems to address both science and politics: “For these strategies to work, politicians need to take political responsibility and not hide endlessly behind scientific uncertainties. When working with policy makers and communicators, it is important that scientists not to fall into the trap of acceding to inappropriate demands for certainty from decision makers.” More about this quote in a moment. But I’m not clear on the charter given you for the paper — perhaps you were expected to address science only. If that wasn’t your charter, there are significant engineering and economic issues that should be mentioned. Just the issue of engineering an affordable solution to whatever problems agreed to be addressed will present political and economic problems as well as engineering problems. The way forward should discuss how consensus is to be developed if climate isn’t to be just an academic study.

    Now, your quote above indicates a degree of academic naivety. When have you found politicians taking political responsibility on matters of controversy and controversy is certain on climate issues absent a miracle of scientific progress. As for scientists not falling into the trap etc., you can’t really believe that politicians will disrupt the world’s economy to take measures to avoid a risk that isn’t certain. If they did, they would be swept away by popular discontent.

    So, I have to wonder what is the intent for this paper and suggest that it might be best to focus on building scientific progress in ways that consensus about the science emerges.

  19. Judith,

    I like the quote you’ve selected for the start of this section: ““Science is belief in the ignorance of experts” – Richard Feynman”

    I’ll focus on the last section “The way forward

    My initial impression is your draft of this section is too focused on science to the exclusion of economics and policy. Given the target “ The journal is a review journal, outside the field of climate science. I’d suggest the balance should be moved from science towards economics and policy.

    My suggestions are as follows:

    1. Science needs to focus on providing the specific pieces of information that are required for economic analysis and policy decisions. I’d suggest Nordhaus’s work provides an example of how the economic analysis can show what parameters are most important to decision making and, therefore, where research should be focused. For example, Nordhaus (2008) “A Question of Balance”, Table 7-2, p130, http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf shows that the uncertainty in the ‘damage function’ causes the greatest uncertainty in the cost-benefit analyses and, therefore, the greatest uncertainty in determining the optimum policy.

    2. To move forward effectively we’d need to remove or avoid the issues that divide progressives from conservatives.

    I believe that can be done if we focus on economically rational policies. Such policies will give the progressives what they say they want – reduced CO2 emissions – and satisfy conservatives – reduce emissions without damaging the economy and without impairing our ability to handle other risks and other needs (like lifting people out of poverty).

    It is possible to have policies that achieve the stated core requirements of both sides of the argument. I’ll explain how I suggest these can be achieved in following posts.

  20. Fortunately, AGW advocates have made their predictions in black and white => http://bit.ly/xColbo

    There is no global warming. The observation is UNDER the case assuming CO2 concentration kept at the 2000 level. CO2 Concentration has been business as usual.

    What a joke. Do they think the world is dumb to interpret a simple graph?

    Let them continue with their obfuscation.

    What a big joke.

    • Girma | July 14, 2012 at 1:40 am |

      Looks like the black and white predictions were in blue, green, orange and magenta. Typical of Mr. Orssengo to leave out most of the story.

      The observed trend at 0.17C/decade since is well within the TAR range. Taking the most recent 17 years, the observed trend is 0.12C/decade — an outlier from the ensemble of models, but anyone who understands Bayes understands that this sort of variation is inevitable. It would be remarkable if there weren’t periods with trends below the overall projection, in particular as so many low and negative trends on the actual models are seen.

      But then, we’ve had this discussion before, and still the obsessiver recitation of false claims from you continue.

      • Bart

        There has not been any GMST trend in the last 15 years =>
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1997

      • Not really.

        A story told solely with HadCrut3 is disingenuous. When Kyle Swanson discusses warming interrupted, a proposed climate shift, he is honest. He says the shift is less noticeable on GisTemp. That’s an honest presentation.

        Since then they’ve come out with HadCrut4. The end point is different, but it upward trend is unlikely to change if/when they add additional data.

        So your lack of trend exists on two series, and the “global” in one of them has been called into question.

      • http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:59/mean:61/from:1962.25/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1962.25/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/last:180/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1962.25/to:1977.25/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/derivative/from:1962.5/scale:0.0000001/plot/hadcrut3vgl/derivative/mean:59/mean:61/from:1963/scale:100/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:1977/to:2007/trend

        Mr. Orssengo, you’re simply ignoring half the story where it’s inconvenient for you. This hostility toward inconvenient truth is very unscientific, and suspect. It leads one to be skeptical of everything you say.

        Looking at your much-vaunted 60-year trend line, from your own theory of a 60-year mystery cycle with no mechanism, we find that the trend is 0.14C/decade for six decades — a number very much in line with the bottom of the IPCC projection, by the way.

        Looking at both the first and the last 15 years of that 60 year period (fully half of the period), we see similar spans of falling trend. Indeed, looking at the derivative of the GMT, we can see the accumulated trend over 5 years falls below zero in the past 60 years several times, even during the 30 year period with the sharp 0.18C/decade rise. And while to the errant human eye this down-up-down fishtail calls to mind a cyclic pattern, there is no evidence of anything but variability in how fast the 20-year rise is.. which better matches the 20-year patterns of the ensemble of climate models than any explanation that leaves out AGW.

        So falling trends in the GMT don’t work as a disproof. What would be a disproof would be a stronger proof of another mechanism than the AGW hypothesis along with an explanation of why the GHE isn’t as strong as Physics tells us from some fairly elementary calculations.

        Which you just haven’t done.

      • blueice2hotsea

        R, Bart

        The cause of the PDO is not known. Perhaps it too is a “mystery cycle with no mechanism” which also ought to draw ridicule…

        More to the point. Even your strongest detractors must give you points for your math skills. Don’t erase that by larding on the illogical invective.

      • blueice2hotsea | July 15, 2012 at 2:42 am |

        The cause of the PDO is not known. Perhaps it too is a “mystery cycle with no mechanism” which also ought to draw ridicule…

        You mean it doesn’t draw ridicule?

        These aren’t value judgements, or personal. The ideas are being tested and failing, not the personalities.

        PDO may be a meaningless label, just like the conventions historians use to label their ‘movements of history’, which often when dismantled to their parts fall apart and disappear as conjectural, specious, ill-assorted and illusory. Perhaps the PDO is just the clustering tendency of blockers and flows that self-propagate through positive feedback more often than not. Or just an accident of observation with no objective reality.

        The difference is, PDO is useful for discussing what’s actually happening. The “60-year GMT Cycle” isn’t useful at all: it’s not exact enough to allow identification of which phase we expect to be in; it’s been observed for less than three full cycles.. indeed, it’s been observed not to exist at all in the earliest records, and to be degenerate and variable otherwise, so much so as to lead to the conclusion it is a hallucination, and no more.

        So we have real things, real ideas, being hammered away at by someone who ought know better with fictions. It’s a circumstance that is due invective.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R

        Thanks for the elaboration. You make very good points, except I am not sold on the ridicule part.

        Suppose Girma has charted a 60 yr pseudo-cycle which has been temporarily driven by transient flutter aka the PDO. Further suppose that the flutter forcing is due to an increase in non-periodic turbulence caused by increasing GHGs.

        How does that impact Girma’s claim that the most reasonable expectation is a continuation of the 60 yr [pseudo] cycle for at least one-half cycle (or so)?

        I predict you won’t win Girma over with ridicule. However, if Girma is as I suspect (reasonable and intelligent) you can win him over with a reasonable and intelligent argument as to why the most likely expectation is abrupt, immediate termination of the 60 yr pseudo-cycle.

      • blueice2hotsea | July 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm |

        .. except I am not sold on the ridicule part.

        I can’t disagree with your stance; the ridicule is in part because it’s so very difficult to discuss patent absurdities without some tone of ridicule appearing. What metaphors or comparisons can be made to what Mr. Orssengo (and others) have done that won’t come across as clownish or obscene? What measured and temperate response that simply lists the pertinent and obvious errors that won’t come across as heavy-handed piling on or lampoon, when there are so many contained in Mr. Orssengo’s posts? I’d like to not ridicule comments by others. I’ve made efforts to purge overly negative tone. But the subject of Mr. Orssengo’s cyclic claim itself is ridiculous; discussing it doesn’t make it less so regardless of how one goes about it.

        How does that impact Girma’s claim that the most reasonable expectation is a continuation of the 60 yr [pseudo] cycle for at least one-half cycle (or so)?

        I’ll repeat a metaphor I used earlier to explain my position on Mr. Orssengo’s predictive power. Suppose Mr. Orssengo’s car had a breakdown, and he took it to a medical doctor and insisted the car be put through the hospital’s MRI machine for diagnosis. The doctor would insist that an MRI has no diagnostic power over cars would produce only random noise, and such a large block of metal would only break the MRI, which wasn’t intended and can’t be built for such uses. Mr. Orssengo’s apparent reply is, “Doc, I don’t care if it doesn’t work in theory and has never worked before in reality, this time the random noise might by pure chance be right!”

        See, that’s the essence of my objection. We know trendology of this sort has no predictive power absent a mechanism backing it. We know this particular trend is no more than about a century long, degenerate and vague. It’s a pure waste of time, no more likely to be right than random chance. And Mr. Orssengo has shifted his ‘trend’ several times over the past few years (you can trace this by Googling him, he’s posted his ideas tens of thousands of times in such a short time), so we know he hindcasts quite a bit to hide his ideas’ deficiencies, too.

        I predict you won’t win Girma over with ridicule. However, if Girma is as I suspect (reasonable and intelligent) you can win him over with a reasonable and intelligent argument as to why the most likely expectation is abrupt, immediate termination of the 60 yr pseudo-cycle.

        Tried reason and intelligence. He’s been flagrant in making statements that sometimes agree with criticisms of his methods and then immediately posting the same errors, or backsliding. His posts, his remarks, taken as a whole show awareness of being wrong, but they just don’t stop. The views appear hardened and immune to suasion of any sort.

        I’m more like throwing up road flares to alert people to the hazard caused by a careless and dangerous post.

      • blueice2hotsea

        Bart R

        I too am uncomfortable with chartism and curious coincidences. Keep the Girma’s graph in mind while reading the 2006 Hansen et al policy paper (cum climate science) Global Temperature Change. The paper was a driver for alot of discussion by news providers, science mags and blogs wrt increased global temperatures over the prior 30 years (1976-2005). Notice that the period of interest is exactly one-half of the periodicity of the objectionable 60 yr PseuDO-cycle, and it is the positive half.

        It would have been better had the 30 year period of interest turned out to be the negative half of the 60 yr cycle. Then Hansen and others could be urging people not to go overboard with panic, because fear of a speculated impending shift to a positive phase of a pseudo-cycle is irrational and unscientific. But alas, not so.

        Even better would have been a random phase shift and absence of an integer harmonic between the pseudo-cycle and the “prior 30 yrs”. But alas, the worst possible combination turns up.

        Because of the curious coincidence of being highly correlated with the PseuDO-cycle (and Girma’s chart) Hansen’s paper also smells of chartism. Remember, the PseuDO-cycle was established nearly a decade prior to the 2006 paper.

      • blueice2hotsea | July 16, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

        Give your head a shake. You’ve been hypnotized by the illusion of a curve.

        Remove the period (1976-2005) from your consideration. Go back to 1975. Graph the information that was had up to that time. Well, you can’t really, the data was too sparse and disordered at that time, so substitute the nearest proxy readily available (HadCRUT3 will do, in a pinch).

        Least squares trend line; slope = 0.00257383 per year!

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut3vgl/mean:101/mean:103/to:1975/plot/hadcrut3vgl/to:1975/trend

        That’s your 60-year pseudocycle. Based on the data available at that time, no one but a loon would have ascribed exactly 60 years. No one, certainly, would have predicted a trend like the past half century, on pure trendology.

        Don’t be fooled by present shapes of smoothed lines into thinking there’s something there that wasn’t there fifty years ago. It just wasn’t there.

  21. Judith, no substantive comments for now, a few typos etc.

    Intro: (Idso and Singer, 2009, 2011), that relatives or contradicts the main conclusions of the IPCC – I don’t undertsand the use of “relatives”

    Role of consensus in decision making: The influence of science on policy is assumed to be deterministic: if the scientific facts are ‘sound,’ or then they have a direct impact on policy – delete “or”

    Obersteiner et al. (2001) describe the uncertainty surrounding the climate change science is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways: – “as” rather than “is”

    Unintended consequences … but an increasingly broad community of technical educated people – “technically”

    In general, I’m pro-hyphens in compound words: “decision-making” rather than “decision making”

    Curry (2011) argues for a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem – either “argues that a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify” or “for a concerted effort by the IPCC to identify”

    I’ve forwarded the draft to Des Moore, whose contacts might be able to contribute on “ways forward.”

  22. The IPCC is part of an out-and-out political body, and the “manufactured consensus of the IPCC” is but a predictable consequence of its underlying political motivation. As we see, everything it does only ever serves to justify political action, and this will never change – it is also highly resistant to reform. It just isn’t possible to depoliticize a political body.

    Since this of course all lethal to the pursuit of knowledge, the way forward is to summarily scrap the IPCC, or at least completely ignore it. In its place we need a body founded in principles of science, not of advocacy for politics.

  23. Beth Cooper

    “Consensus” – Wiki definition of:
    From the Greek “con” meaning confuse, bluff, confound. “sensus, from the Latin ” census” meaning statistics record, inventory.
    Consensus in climate science meaning ‘a confounding statistics record or invent..ory, sort of like a hockey stick illusion.

  24. I suggest an additional reference that ought be cited. It’s a bit dated, dusty even, but it’s where the original definition of consensus in Science draws its breath:

    Newton, I. (1713) Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, 2nd ed. London, UK S. Pepys

    This work contains the root of the principle of scientific consensus (loosely translated):

    1. Admit no more causes of natural things than are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances,
    2. To the same natural effect, assign the same causes,
    3. Qualities of bodies, which are found to belong to all bodies within experiments, are to be esteemed universal, and
    4. Propositions collected from observation of phenomena should be viewed as accurate or very nearly true until contradicted by other phenomena.

    This is what is meant when scientific consensus is said. Everything else, the clucking of hens around tables and handshakes and back-patting, is irrelevant. The consensus is in the observations and inferences of causes sufficient to explain them, by parsimony, simplicity, universality and truth; consensus is not something cooked up, spun, or agreed among opinion-makers. Anyone whose ever participated in spinning, opinion or cooking wasn’t doing science at the time.

    Where the IPCC shows observations and presents reasoning to support causes that explain the observations according to Newton’s four philosophical underpinnings of science, that’s a consensus and the test is do I find observations and reasoning that meet Newton’s test.

    Where anyone does any different, IPCC or otherwise, it’s just so much hokum.

    As an observation, most of what I find in IPCC reports corresponds with Principia, regardless of third-hand reports of interpretations of opinions of commentators.

    The work of ploughing through new observations, new explanations, new claims, and old, of examining possible causes, is difficult enough when we hold ourselves to parsimony, simplicity, universality and truth. Throwing in ‘socially acceptable’ or ‘acceptable to the blogosphere’ is a level of impossible perfection that is also superfluous to the needs of science. As policy, sure, those concerns matter. For activists who prefer decisions made on science over faith or ignorance or baloney or the lies of the narrowly self-interested, consensus adds those dimensions of palatability Newton never needed to worry about.

    I’d say the fault is in our audiences and ourselves, not Newton. Stick to the Principia while doing science; disclose the personal or activist interest up front; distinguish Scientific Consensus containing only observations and explanation of causes by parsimony, simplicity, universality and truth from “public consensus”, and let the audience figure it out.

    That’s the way forward I propose, though I know it’s not the easy way. The easy way is to assume the audience are idiots waiting to be spoonfed and needing to be manipulated. I’d rather be amply insulted by someone delivering science than flattered by someone lying about data and methods.. Which apparently a lot of people hope for, because the major manipulations are accusations that data and methods have been manipulated.

    The way forward for that is to open data and methods from cradle to grave on the cloud fully to the public eye.

    • The endless IPCC cluck-clucking about there being a consensus, is prima facie evidence that there isn’t one. Real consensus emerges on its own, it doesn’t need high-flying political advocacy.

    • simon abingdon

      Bart, you say “it’s where the original definition of consensus in Science draws its breath [Newton’s Principia]. This work contains the root of the principle of scientific consensus”.

      Who says? Does Newton say? Is there in the Principia reference to “the principle of scientific consensus”?

      And you go on to say “most of what I find in IPCC reports corresponds with Principia”. Were Newton alive today he might perhaps embrace a rather different opinion.

      Judith above, quoting Lehrer (1975) “consensus among a reference group of experts thus concerned is relevant only if agreement is not sought”. Does this remind you of the IPCC? Or not?

      • simon abingdon | July 14, 2012 at 5:35 am |

        What, is it my job to chop up Principia like pablum and spoonfeed it to people who don’t bother to read the foundation books themselves before forming hardened opinions unassailable by fact or reason? That’s too much of a demand. Read it yourself.

        Find a scientist whose position lacks parsimony, simplicity, universality and truth as defined in rules one through four as developed by Newton from first principles; you will find one not only outside the scientific consensus, but also one who is demonstrated wrong eventually. This is how we spot Scafetta for a hoaxer, and know G&T are blowing smoke; this is why Lindzen’s needlessly complex cloud-iris-self-balancing and Lovelocks similar Gaia nonsense are easy to spot as wrong, and were not acceptable to scientific consensus.

        You might get a consensus of a lot of people who also from time to time practice science that isn’t scientific. They may even confuse it by the magickal reasoning of confirmation bias with scientific opinion. But if it fails on the foundations of science, it’s just geek consensus, and no more authoritative than geek opinion of which pin-up poster is sexier: Einstein’s or Hawking’s.

        And when you cut out all the unscientific consensus, and look only to evidence and methods, the IPCC reports perform a useful service in collecting, collating and summarizing wide swaths from climate topics in an orderly and organized way that more often than not — although clearly sometimes not — presents parsimony, simplicity, universality and truth.

      • simon abingdon

        Sorry Bart, since you see fit to compare the magisterial grandeur of the Principia with the activist propaganda of the IPCC (““most of what I find in IPCC reports corresponds with Principia”) it’s hard to believe you really expect to be taken seriously.

      • simon abingdon | July 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

        So you never read either, and you got nothing? Tch.

  25. tempterrain

    How about introducing some market type reforms into the IPCC? The IPCC could ask scientists, say, to tender to provide a justification of the climate sensitivity to expect from a doubling of CO2 levels this century.

    The tender wouldn’t necessarily go to the lowest priced bidder, but the lowest price acceptable bid. This would make it clear that any suggestion that 2 x C02 sensitivity was likely to be any higher than 1 degC would not be looked upon at all favourably.

    That should get you a better answer, or one you’d like better, don’t you think?

    • The problem, tt, is the IPCC is highly unlikely to do anything that might compromise its mission, ie establishing the ‘C’ in CAGW.

  26. tempterrain

    There seems to be a misperception among some commentators, and maybe even started by the impression Judith herself gives on the topic, that consensus is the same thing as unanimity

    It isn’t. See for example

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making

    • simon abingdon

      You make this stuff up. Why?

      • I can answer that question. Tempterrain is associated with Sketptical Science. Skeptical Science is owned/managed by a specialist in communications. He is not a scientist but he believes in CAGW. So he is an expert in spinning the message to convert those who read the web site to accept his view of what the science is saying. He and co workers like tempterrain are specialists at selecting the papers that can be interpreted and spun to support their views then spinning the message using their training and skills as communicators and spin merchants.

        That’s why tempterrain makes stuff up. That’s how they work. Just take a look at a sample of the titles on the blog posts on Skeptical Science and the spin and exaggeration is obvious.

      • tempterrain

        Peter Lang,

        Thank you for the positive comments about http://www.skepticalscience.com It’s well worth a look for anyone who’s had enough of the usual anti-science nonsense that often is passed off as intelligent comment on many right wing blogs, and increasingly on Climate etc too, sadly.

        “Makes stuff up”? But, why would I have to, even if I wanted to? There’s really no need.

        PS My only gripe would be that it’s ‘skeptical’ rather than ‘sceptical’ !

        PPS I’ll use you comment as justification on my next expense claim , if that’s OK with you!

      • Latimer Alder

        You have expense claims? You must be part of a Well Organised ‘Green Energy’ Alarmist Shill Propaganda Campaign.

        Oh wait – you work for Skeptical Science. Nuff said. My case rests.

      • tempterrain

        Latimer,

        You shouldn’t believe everything (or anything?) that Peter Lang tells you. I have no connection to skeptical science. But don’t tell him though, I’m just winding him up on the expense claims!

      • Sceptical is the British and Australian spelling. Skeptical is the American spelling.

        Your comment about “right wing blogs” shows your bias. You don’t acknowledge that yours is a left wing blog, promoting you anti-science – i.e. left wing propaganda and spin.

      • tempterrain

        Peter Land, You say “Your comment about “right wing blogs” shows your bias”

        But does it? My own politics, to put my cards on the table, would be left-of-centre social/liberal democracy in Australian terms. But I’d always put scientific findings first and foremost before any political considerations.

        My criticism of the ultra -right on the AGW issue and the ultra-left on the nuclear issue is exactly the same, in that they don’t do that. Their stance is decided first and then scientific facts, and evidence, are cherry picked afterwards to support their original, and politically motivated, conclusion.

        That sort of strikes me as being the wrong way around.

      • Latimer Alder

        @tempterrain

        ‘Their stance is decided first and then scientific facts, and evidence, are cherry picked afterwards to support their original, and politically motivated, conclusion’

        And how would you respond if I suggested that the sentence above – modified to read


        ‘Their stance is decided first and then scientific facts, and evidence, are cherry picked afterwards to support their original, and salary, career and status motivated, conclusion’

        could equally apply to ‘climate scientists’?

        Sauce, mon brave, is for the goose and the gander.

      • You say you have not connection to SkepticalScience, yet on previous threads you claimed you write articles for them. What is the truth? Can we believe anything you say?

      • tempterrain

        “[I] claimed to write articles for Skepticalscience” ? Where?
        I think you must be confusing me with someone else.

        In fact I think you sound so confused about everything , including climate science, that you should really pack it all in and, do what people your age normally do in their retirement, like playing bowls or walking the dog.

      • Tempterrain,

        I don’t recall where you made the statement about writing for SkepticalScience. It was in the past week or so. However, I am not going to go looking for it. So I’ll now accept that you do not and that I may have misinterpreted what you said. However, I do believe it was you who made the comment, not someone else. I do not recall any other blogger here who has been frequently praising SkepticalScience as the “go to” site for the “truth” on climate science.

        As for age. I like Regan’s statement (slightly modified for your benefit): if you agree not to talk about my age I won’t point out your gullibility.

      • Peter,

        Here you have at least one person who tells about his contribution at SkS

        http://judithcurry.com/2011/08/04/carbon-cycle-questions/#comment-215682

      • tempterrain

        Peter Lang,

        Well , of course, you are “not going to go looking for it.” You know it’s not there, that’s why.

        Look, I wouldn’t have any problem helping out with John Cook’s website: skepticalscience, but even though John and I live close by, we don’t know each other and we’ve never met.

      • Pekka Pirila,

        Thank you for pointing to that post and for providing the link. That was the comment I was thinking of and I had incorrectly attributed to

        Tempterrain,

        My apologies. I accused you incorrectly. I made a mistake.
        But, I am sure it is the only one I’ve ever made in my life :)

      • tempterrain

        Peter,

        OK Fair enough. Apology accepted.

        But I wouldn’t regard your suggestion of writing articles for skepticalscience as an accusation as such. Its just that I’ve never been asked ;-(

      • Peter L to Peter M: ‘Can we believe anything you say?’

        Peter M to Peter L: ‘You know it’s not there and that’s why’.

        We can believe some things Peter M says and Peter L didn’t know it wasn’t there. But Pekka did. There’s a lesson in there somewhere but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.
        ==============

    • tempterrain

      Simon,

      Anyone who knows scientists will appreciate a certain independence of mind. Unanimity, which is everyone saying exactly the same thing, is obviously unrealistic, contrived and I would say unscientific.

      So it’s quite an underhand tactic to use an incorrect quote like “Consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively……” , when that’s unanimity, to try to define consensus and unanimity as effectively the same thing, and then attack the concept of consensus as if it were indeed synonymous with unanimity.

      If Judith were being honest she would have addressed the difference between the two in her posting. She has asked for comments, so there is still time for her to do that in her submitted paper.

      • simon abingdon

        “Consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually” – Abba Eban

        Tempterrain, you spin that ironic comment into “There seems to be a misperception among some commentators, and maybe even started by the impression Judith herself gives on the topic, that consensus is the same thing as unanimity”.

        So tempterrain, which commentators are you referring to who think consensus is the same thing as unanimity? Please name them.

        And while you’re at it please explain why Judith herself might be to blame for this “misperception”.

        Otherwise we’ll know for sure whether or not you’re a person of good character.

      • tempterrain

        Simon,

        I have already explained why Judith is responsible for an incorrect understanding of just what a consensus is.

        The link provided by “neverendingaudit” also starts off with a quote, chosen by Judith, “When unanimity of opinion is forged among the most learned men across various bodies of knowledge….” which again seeks to establish a synonymous meaning between the terms consensus and unanimity.

        Consensus, in the scientific context, isn’t “unanimity of opinion”. Rather it is is a broad agreement of the general veracity of a theory but it wouldn’t be an exact agreement on every detail. There wouldn’t be a universal uncritical acceptance of everything and anything by workers in the field, for instance.

        Of course, it’s possible, or even likely, that Judith might explain the two terms quite differently. It’s also possible that she thinks unanimity and consensus are the same. I doubt it. But by avoiding any explanation at all, she knows she is creating the impression that they are.

      • Latimer Alder

        So you and Judith do not share a consensus about the semantics of the word ‘consensus’.

        Seems to me that this is a fine example of how weak a term it is and that needing to use a supposed ‘scientific consensus’ as an argument about anything is a sign that there is no better evidence.

        And since all those who share the supposed consensus are direct beneficiaries (salary, career, status) of the global warming gravy train
        the famous reply

        ‘They would say that wouldn’t they’

        springs unbidden to my lips.

      • Anyone who knows scientists …

        More condescending nonsense from a Left wing CAGW advocate and practitioner of “communications” – which means cherry picking of papers then misrepresentation and spin for “The Cause”.

      • I point to the first part of that sentence:

        > More condescending nonsense […]

        and I point to what comes next:

        > [F]rom a Left wing CAGW advocate […]

        That is all

      • Are you suggesting that only the Left and CAGW true believers are entitled to be condescending, and I should not respond in kind, so that, hopefully, the message might get through to them?

      • I’m suggesting that your
        Bad hominem’s a bad omen:
        It labels a squadron of
        Strawmen eating red herrings
        On board of a black helicopter
        On its way to your house,
        Figuratively speaking.

        Thank you for your rhetorical question,

        w

    • simon abingdon

      tempterrain, on July 14, 2012 at 5:11 am you said “There seems to be a misperception among some commentators … that consensus is the same thing as unanimity”. If your reference to “some commentators” is to have any relevance it must refer to comments posted upthread before 5:11 am, rather than random references from other sources plucked off the top of your head and which readers would have no reason to understand.

      Later the same day at 9:39 am you tried to justify yourself by offering the misleadingly incomplete quote “Consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively …” which was made by one Abba Eban, long since dead.

      At 10:59 the same day I asked “which commentators are you referring to who think consensus is the same thing as unanimity” and asked you to name them. You have not yet done so.

      So, tempterrain, confining yourself to posts on this thread made before 5:11 am on July 14, 2012, please name the commentators who suggested that “consensus is the same thing as unanimity” so that we may judge whether you are a person of good character, or someone who makes stuff up in order to mislead.

      • tempterrain

        Simon,

        If you want examples just do a Ctrl-F on the phrase “manufactured consensus”. This was first used in Judith’s post and picked up , as you’ll see by several commentators.

        A consensus is, as suggested by Ron C is a “shared understanding” . You can’t manufacture that. You can manufacture a unanimity though, just by strictly enforcing what people are allowed to say.

        Therefore anyone using the term ‘manufactured consensus’, approvingly, is guilty of precisely what I said to start with.

      • simon abingdon

        “You can manufacture a unanimity”. You illiterate philistine. Every educated person knows that “unanimity” is a mass noun. Go read up on some grammar. Write a hundred times “A mass noun is not used with the indefinite article”.

      • tempterrain

        Simon,

        If we’re being picky, should “philistine” have a capital P? But, in any case the rule you mention isn’t rigid. If you google phrases like “A unanimity of opinion” (Don’t forget the “”) you’ll see plenty of usages, some in academic papers written very “educated persons”.

  27. http://xkcd.com/1081/

    When two sides are both arguing from authority or consensus, the only real victory is when one of them gives up and goes off to have more fun doing something else.

    Anyone here have anything more fun to do?

  28. Judith,
    The concept of consensus enters the IPCC work at two levels, on the level of scientific consensus and on the level of reporting on the state of science.
    As your reference to Lehrer describes correctly a scientific consensus is meaningful only when it has formed autonomously and has not been a goal of any activity. Thus IPCC should not in any way force the scientists to a consensus.

    The other level of consensus concerns the process of writing a report. It is right to search for a formulation on which there’s a consensus among the authors. That consensus should not claim that there’s more consensus among the scientists than there is based on the autonomous process that has or has not led to a consensus on each particular issue.

    To me it’s clear that the codification “in taking decisions, drawing conclusions, and adopting reports, the IPCC Plenary and Working Groups shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus.” is written to apply to the writing process and is therefore fully acceptable as long as it does not get misinterpreted to mean declaring more scientific consensus than there really is.

    The problem is that the right consensus of the second type may lead to a process of forcing scientific consensus also when that does not exist naturally. There’s also certainly willingness to read the IPCC as reporting consensus even on issues on which it contains explicit statements that tell about the lack of consensus.

    Read with a critical mind the WG1 reports contain at least qualitatively most of the statements on the lack of scientific consensus that should be there. In several cases they are written in a way that may downplay their significance. That may be a result of searching consensus on the formulation of the text: The caveats are listed there to satisfy more critical authors but they are worded in a way to get those to agree who want to “send a clear message”.

    • Pekka: Thus IPCC should not in any way force the scientists to a consensus.

      That’s all it ever has done, and all it ever will do. A UN body can hardly be expected to conclude that no political action is needed. That’s why they have lead authors reviewing their own work etc etc etc.

    • tempterrain

      ” IPCC should not in any way force the scientists to a consensus”

      That’s the point about a consensus, which is a collective understanding, – it can’t be. Of course, it could still be wrong if there is some fundamental flaw in everyone’s line of thought, but that, again, can only be changed by removing the flaw. It can’t be forced.

  29. Steve Milesworthy

    The petition was a political statement against Kyoto and/or against a belief in “CAGW”, surely. I understand the petition request included some dubious science describing the benefits of CO2. So to cite this as evidence against the “consensus” is a bit dangerous.

    Certainly linking it with the NIPCC report is inaccurate as there is no evidence that any of the signees reviewed the contents of the report (given the report was published in 2009 whereas the petition project was active in 1997 and 2007) and many were probably not qualified to comment (a bit like me).

    • Kyoto was a politically motivated statement dressed up as science. The petition was in response to this deception.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Exactly. Someone could sign the petition while also agreeing that the IPCC report was a good summary of the science.

      • Hardly. If the IPCC report (also underpinning Kyoto) wasn’t dressed up as science, what would there be to object to ?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        AGW is used as a justification for many policies, usually with a lot of added hyperbole (eg “catastrophic heating” in the petition). My objection to the policy doesn’t mean I don’t think climate scientists’ conclusions aren’t reasonable, and aren’t reasonably summarised in the IPCC report.

  30. Paul Dunmore

    Nice analysis. A couple of extra thoughts that may fit in somewhere:

    Consensus is a political concept, the absence of overt opposition. A policy which commands consensus is politically easy to implement, and politicians spend a lot of effort seeking consensus (Margaret Thatcher and your Republican tribalists apparently excepted). So the political masters must have found the IPCC focus on scientific consensus both quite natural and potentially very helpful in reducing one source of opposition to whatever policies would have to be implemented.

    But there is simply no basis for supposing that consensus is relevant for arriving at the truth of how the world is. You outline a selection of biases that can occur in consensus decision-making. Haack (1996) points out the need for “a distinction between questions of warrant — how good is the evidence for the theory? — and questions of acceptance — what is the standing of the theory in the relevant scientific community?” [Susan Haack, “Towards a Sober Sociology of Science”, in The Flight from science and reason, eds. P R Gross, N Levitt and M W Lewis, NY Academy of Sciences, p. 259.] Questions of acceptance bring us to the sociology of science, and you cite Kuhn and Feyerabend; but even if they correctly describe what scientists do, that does not provide a warrant for the scientific ideas. If careful observation showed that every scientist drinks beer, that would not show that beer-drinking can establish the truth about the world. The only defensible way of arriving at theories that are warranted still seems to be some version of Popper’s – state the theory clearly, derive its testable consequences, and then try assiduously to prove them wrong. (That, not coincidentally, is a mental discipline that helps to avoid the biases that Kelly (2005) talks about.) An important refinement is that one theory is in practice always tested against another, at least implicitly – that also is a discipline that reduces the confirmation bias. When our theory fails, as it always does, that shows us that our understanding is imperfect and may provide a starting point for refinement.

    So the politicians’ comfort with a consensus-building process has intruded where it has no business. The politicians are not going to instruct the IPCC to stop seeking consensus, because that is what politicians do themselves and is exactly what they want from the scientists. But it is not going to happen on the sort of timetable the politicians would like, and you point out some of the baleful effects that it has had meanwhile.

    The politicians have a bigger problem, though. Regardless of the scientific evidence, the sort of carbon-control policies that some scientists would like to see implemented are not going to happen for the compelling reason that the politicians know they will be voted straight out of office. (Roger Pielke Jr’s Iron Law.) Hoping that politicians will “take political responsibility” is misplaced – I know of only one politician who said that there are no limits to what can be achieved if you don’t care about re-election, and acted as though she meant it (she is no longer in politics). What we get are fake promises that changes will be made a decade or more in the future, when the politicians making the promises expect to have retired. When the due dates for these promises roll around, their successors repudiate them or water them down till they are inoffensive and ineffective. (In the Kyoto Protocol, we also got shameless gerrymandering, as when the measurements got backdated so that Germany could claim credit for the collapse of East German heavy industry, which had already happened.)

    The politicians may have hoped that a scientific consensus would provide cover to build a political consensus, and I suspect that many scientists became activists with the same hope. But a scientific consensus will not happen, and should not happen if the science is to progress effectively, and in any case would not be compelling enough to create a political consensus in the foreseeable future. Your ending is exactly right: there is a need for a range of policies that do not depend on precise scientific knowledge and that are desirable for other reasons than climate change. I would add one more sentence, but you may think it goes beyond your brief: the scientists need to shut up and sit down, because they have negligible policy expertise (as several of them have willingly demonstrated on Climate etc). Realistic policy ideas will come from economists, geographers, agronomists, engineers, and the like.

  31. Judith, You used Richard Feynman “Science is belief in the ignorance of experts” .
    Maybe you could find space for Thomas Henry Huxley “Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact.”

  32. I object to the strong claim that politicians are hiding behind the uncertainties. Quite the contrary, there has been a growing realization that the uncertainties are fundamental, such that major action is not justified.

  33. Taking issues on which a clear scientific consensus does exist only very weak conclusions can be drawn. I would include in the well established scientific consensus the following:

    – Use of fossil fuels and changes in land usage have lead to increase of CO2 concentration measured at Mauna Loa (with insignificant uncertainty related to possible changes in natural sources or sinks other than reaction to the changes in concentration)

    – Doubling of the CO2 concentration causes a forcing of approximately 3.7 W/m^2 which corresponds to a change of about 1.0 C in the effective radiative temperature of the Earth.

    – Various feedbacks and other mechanism make the actual warming of the Earth surface different from the change in the radiative temperature. It’s highly likely that the warming of the surface is stronger than the change in the radiative temperature that corresponds to the forcing.

    – The warming has detrimental consequences like a rise in sea level. It has also positive effects.

    All the above is certainly accepted by almost all scientists who have put some effort in understanding the Earth system including the more skeptical ones among the climate scientists. (A few may disagree on the likelihood of my statement on the warming of the surface, but even that is presented so weakly that almost all are expected to agree.)

    Going beyond those statements the level of consensus gets the weaker the more is claimed.

    Why should anyone propose that strong acts should be taken when the consensus goes only so far? The reason is in the upper end of the uncertainty range for the strength of the warming and for the consequences of that. All serious requests for action are based on uncertain knowledge that’s not supported by an unquestionable consensus. The rational arguments for action must combine
    – a consideration of a wide range of possible outcomes
    – some feeling of the likelihoods of each of those outcomes
    – concrete proposals for action (not just general goals)
    – evidence on the value of the proposed actions in mitigating the problems
    – evidence that the net expected value of the proposed actions is positive (not necessarily in monetary terms but in some well defined way)

    In the above “evidence” can be much less than a proof but it must be real.

    The above set of requirements does not allow for the linear approach. Estimating the consequences of the actions may require further knowledge from the climate science. The required knowledge cannot be transferrer from the scientists to the decision makers by a few numbers or other simple information. Using the uncertain scientific knowledge on the possible ways to act and other contributing factors requires interaction and understanding on a higher level. How that can be provided to and used by the decision making process is the problem to be solved.

    • Pekka, you write “- Doubling of the CO2 concentration causes a forcing of approximately 3.7 W/m^2 which corresponds to a change of about 1.0 C in the effective radiative temperature of the Earth.
      – Various feedbacks and other mechanism make the actual warming of the Earth surface different from the change in the radiative temperature. It’s highly likely that the warming of the surface is stronger than the change in the radiative temperature that corresponds to the forcing.”

      This is where you and I will always disagree. There is not one jot of hard measured data to support any of these claims. Yet people like yourself seem to believe that if you say them often enough, the rest of us will come to believe there is empirical data to support them. The fact of the matter is, there is no empirical data to support them. And as long as there is no empirical data to support them, then there is a significant probability that they are just plain wrong.

      As I have noted over and over again, such little empirical data as we have, the complete lack of any CO2 signal in the temperature/time graph of data from the 20th and 21st centuries, gives a strong indication that, in fact, the total climate sensitivity of CO2 is indistinguishabke from zero.

      Previously I quoted Thomas Henry Huxley “Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact.”

      • Jim,

        To be precise I made a claim on the views of climate scientists and other scientists who have made an effort to understand climate. Whether my claims are true or not one should check what these people are saying and writing.

        I don’t think you are part of the group that i refer to.

      • Pekka, you write “To be precise I made a claim on the views of climate scientists and other scientists who have made an effort to understand climate.”

        Precisely. Nullius in verba. You make the claim on the basis of other people’s opinions; not on the facts. And that is my complaint . I will always disagree with you if you base your claims on opinions not facts; facts i.e. hard measured independently replicated data.

      • Jim,

        By definition I made an assessment about peoples views, not about the facts behind the views. I stated that I believe in the existence of a consensus and consensus is nothing else than coherence of views which may be called opinions as well.

        It’s another matter that what I listed agrees also on my own thinking, but there’s a lot more that also agrees with my thinking but is not necessarily a consensus view.

      • Pekka, you write “By definition I made an assessment about peoples views, not about the facts behind the views.”

        I will have to think about this one. It seems at first blush, that this is completely anti-science. It is contrary to everything I was taught in Physics 101 in Cavendish Labs Cambridge. What you seem to be saying is that the facts dont matter. As long as there is a consensus between a group of learned and eminent scientists, that is the truth and that is all that matters. Are you really saying that, or am I reading too much in to your words?

        Because if that is really what you are saying, there is no scientific basis for ANYTHING you have written.

      • Of course the facts matter.

        If the claim is about peoples views the facts are on peoples views. In principle everyone may have the same view, which will later on turn out to be wrong, but it’s much more common that a view shared by almost all scientist is correct, when there are also many scientists who have the view.

      • Pekka, you write “In principle everyone may have the same view, which will later on turn out to be wrong, but it’s much more common that a view shared by almost all scientist is correct, when there are also many scientists who have the view.”

        I am a student of the history of physics. My reading of what has happen to physics since the time of Galileo and Newton, is precisely the OPPOSITE of yours. It is far more common that the view shared by almost all scientists is INCORRECT, than it is correct. The history of science is littered with the ideas of eminent scientists whose widely held views turned out to be just plain wrong. I wont bore anyone with a long list. But Newton supported the particle theory of light. For centuries his laws of motion were held to be gospel. Tesla was told that alternating motors dont work. Eminent scientists knew that some gases were permanent. Etc. etc.
        Let me amend what you have written “but it’s much more common that a view shared by almost all scientist is correct, when there are also many scientists who have the view, IF THAT VIEW IS BASED ON HARD MEASURED DATA”.
        Sorry, Pekka. In science only the facts matter; nothing else; particularly not the opinion of a bunch of eminent scientists. If you believe that CAGW is correct because almost all scientists agree it is correct, and that is the sole basis for your belief, and not the facts, then I really feel sorry for you.

      • Pekka’s an honest man except to himself, but he’s talented enough to also be a slippery sophist, elegantly illustrated here. He’s got nuttin’, Jim.

        He’s got less on the ball than a fadeaway.
        ==================

      • Pekka, you are merely restating the consensus argument, without using the word. That most scientists accept this paradigm is the problem, not the answer, because there is now ample evidence for reasonable doubt.

      • Exactly. That was my stated purpose.

      • Pekka, good to leave out the ‘consensus’. Now leave out the ‘catastrophe’, too.
        ==========

      • Steven Mosher

        Jim,

        Where do we begin. The first thing you have to understand is that increasing GHGs will increase the forcing in Watts.

        Change in GHG –> Change in Watts. That the first number you need to wrap your head around. Its important because if you cannot understand that, there is no hope for you to understand the rest of the science.

        So, lets take C02. since we do not historical measurements of downwelling IR when the atmospheric concentration was 280 ppm, we cannot simple say this:

        ppm 280: downwelling IR = x watts
        ppm 560: downwelling IR = y watts.

        That fact, the fact that we cannot double the C02 in the atmosphere and do a test before and after doesn’t stop science. It doesn’t stop engineering or science. I look at my laws of physics. I design a rocket. The laws of physics tell me that the rocket will reach space. I launch it. It reaches space. Now along comes the bright Jim Cripwell, and he suggests doubling the weight of the rocket while changing nothing else. Of course the launch manager says ” Jim, our rocket science says you are wrong”
        And Jim replies ” Show me the measurements where you doubled the weight of the rocket and it didnt reach space !!!” of course, we look at Jim, and don’t know what to say. The very math and physics that got us to space tell us Jim is a lunatic. But he insists, “everything must be measured”. Well, the program manager shows him some physics and Jim says ” thats models, that math, I want measurements!!!, double the weight and launch it, its the real test!” So, we show Jim, some test results. We show him a rocket weighing 100 lbs and one weighing 200 lbs.. and we show him that we understand the physics.. that our models work.
        NO! Jim says, that data shows the change from 100 to 200. This rocket is 20000 lbs and I say nothing will happen if we double that to 40K. lets do the experiment, damn your physics, damn your models. double the weight.

        We try to explain to Jim that this physics is used in every day engineering. Every day we calculate the effect of adding C02 or other GHGs to the atmosphere. Every day, every minute of every day we use this rocket science. It’s not really rocket science anymore. It used to be.

        Anyway, we cannot measure the effect of doubling C02 from 280 to 560 without actually doubling it and finding out. Ok That’s rocketman Jim’s view.

        For other people, for working engineers, we rely on observations and known working theory. We can measure the effect of changing concentrations of GHGs on forcing.. we know how to observe the change forcing in going from X in the winter to Y in the summer. and we know the physical laws governing this. That known physics, validated by observation, confirmed by daily use by engineers is what tell us that going from 280 to 560 will get you 3.7 Watts or so. Its the same kind of logic our launch manager uses. Jim, our physics, which is based on observation, tells us that doubling the weight of the rocket is NOT going to work. It is foolish and unwise to insist on a test that we know will fail.

        And Jim might ask for some of this observation data and known physics. Well, the known physics is radiative transfer. Every measurement of UHA depends upon it being right. Every radar engineer uses this physics. Anybody figuring out how the atmosphere reflects and absorbs radiation knows this. Cell phone base station designers. IR missile designers. Star wars engineers. C02 detector engineers. They all know the physics and the tools we use to estimate the change in forcing if you increase a GHG.

        Here is nice little paper. If Jim doesnt understand this and what it means, then he’s got no business telling us that we can double the weight of the rocket without any concern.. after all , according to Jim, you really dont know what will happen until you double it and count the dead bodies.

        We will start with something easy for Jim to grasp.

        ftp://ftp.orbit.nesdis.noaa.gov/pub/smcd/spb/lzhou/AMS86/PREPRINTS/PDFS/100737.pdf

      • Start with basics, the energy emitted from a greenhouse house gas is not related to the temperature of the gas. Cold gas can radiate as much energy as warm gas.

        The amount energy radiated from a greenhouse gas is dependent upon some heat source which radiate at wavelength which excites a greenhouse gas. If one could somehow switch off the source of this energy, then the greenhouse gas stops radiating.

        The temperature of any gas is related to the velocity of the gas molecule.
        The temperature of solid or liquid is the velocity of molecules confined by molecular structure and solids and liquids radiate energy “near their surface”.
        A solid or liquid on earth can be a source of radiant energy- as they cool they emit radiation. Gases are not a source of radiant energy, but emitter of radiant energy some other source of energy.

        So solids or liquids can be heated up, and once heated [from the sun] they can be a source of radiant energy. Gases can store energy in terms having their average velocity increased.

        So when you measuring radiant energy from greenhouse gases, this radiation is dependent of the source of this energy- which can be liquids or solids. Without the cooling of liquids or solids, the radiation from greenhouse gases would cease.
        And therefore when one is measuring the radiation of greenhouse gases
        you are indirectly measuring the cooling of liquids and solids.

      • You got all that wrong. The truth is exactly the opposite of what you write.

      • “You got all that wrong. The truth is exactly the opposite of what you write.”

        Fascinating.
        So the opposite would be what?
        I didn’t want to get into anything I thought someone would disagree with.

        Btw, the gas molecule of water is a source of heat when it becomes a liquid.
        So phase changes of a gas can be a source of heat.
        And obviously gases can warm via convection and conduction- but was keeping on topic of radiant properties of gas, liquids, and solids.

      • gbaikie, Pekka is right, there is some serious confusion in that post.

        Start with basics, the energy emitted from a greenhouse house gas is not related to the temperature of the gas. Cold gas can radiate as much energy as warm gas.

        The radiant energy of any object is dependent on the temperature and the emissivity of the object. Warmer can emit more than colder.

        The amount energy radiated from a greenhouse gas is dependent upon some heat source which radiate at wavelength which excites a greenhouse gas. If one could somehow switch off the source of this energy, then the greenhouse gas stops radiating. As long as the gas had a temperature above 0K it would radiate. Shutting off the source of radiant energy that it can absorb would shut off the energy it can absorb from that source. It can still absorb energy through collision or from another source.

        The temperature of any gas is related to the velocity of the gas molecule. Related but not dependent. You seem to be confusing velocity with kinetic energy. Molecules can vibrate, spin, twist etc. depending on the degrees of freedom they have.

        The temperature of solid or liquid is the velocity of molecules confined by molecular structure and solids and liquids radiate energy “near their surface”.
        A solid or liquid on earth can be a source of radiant energy- as they cool they emit radiation. Gases are not a source of radiant energy, but emitter of radiant energy some other source of energy.

        So solids or liquids can be heated up, and once heated [from the sun] they can be a source of radiant energy. Gases can store energy in terms having their average velocity increased. Same deal, it is the degrees of freedom and velocity is just one degree of freedom. Every element, compound or alloy has different properties depending on their degrees of freedom which vary with temperature and pressure.

        So when you measuring radiant energy from greenhouse gases, this radiation is dependent of the source of this energy- which can be liquids or solids. Without the cooling of liquids or solids, the radiation from greenhouse gases would cease.
        And therefore when one is measuring the radiation of greenhouse gases
        you are indirectly measuring the cooling of liquids and solids.

        When you measure the radiant energy of anything, you are measuring its radiant energy. The measurement does tell you how it got that energy. You can infer where it got the energy, but you can’t track down the genealogy of each photon or vibration.

        I think what you were trying to say is that greenhouse gases do not manufacture energy which is true, the energy they contain depends on the various sources of energy they can absorb and how much energy they can contain, their specific heat. If you shut off all energy to Earth, it would still emit radiant energy until all the molecules reached their lowest energy state. All the potential energy holding the atmosphere up against gravity would be convert into kinetic energy as the atmosphere collapsed. All the latent energy would be released as the fluid molecules combined into a final frozen solid. Then all the frozen solids would continue to radiate energy until all molecular motion stopped. That BTW is a crap load of energy which is the real reason the Earth is still here, it can weather a pretty good storm with its back-up potential energy. That is also why radiant focused modeling misses the over all energy picture. The Earth can loss some types of energy faster than it can regain that energy. The Earth has thermal masses with thermal capacities with varying absorption and release rates and locations the thermal masses can lose of gain energy. It is not a billiard ball floating in space :)

      • Since someone thinks I am completely wrong I will correct some of my port [clarify and edit any mistakes].

        “Cold gas can radiate as much energy as warm gas.”
        Meaning not hot gases.
        So warm would up to 100 C and cool can be cryogenic, say -150 C.
        Or within the temperatures found in the earth’s atmosphere.

        “The amount energy radiated from a greenhouse gas is dependent upon some heat source which radiate at wavelength which excites a greenhouse gas.

        Should be:
        The amount energy radiated from a greenhouse gas is dependent upon a heat source which radiates at a certain wavelengths which will excite a greenhouse gas. ”

        “The temperature of any gas is related to the velocity of the gas molecule.”
        Meaning temperature of any gas in the earth atmosphere. Or the air temperature of 70 F at noon, is measuring the velocity of gas molecules effect upon on thermometer.

        “Gases are not a source of radiant energy, but emitter of radiant energy some other source of energy.”
        Should be:
        Gases are not a source of the radiant energy, but rather are an emitter of radiant energy from some other source of the radiant energy.

        “Gases can store energy in terms having their average velocity increased.”
        Should be:
        Gases can store potential kinetic energy in terms having their average velocity increased.

        “So when you measuring radiant energy from greenhouse gases, this radiation is dependent of the source of this energy- which can be liquids or solids.”
        Should be:
        So when you are measuring radiant energy from greenhouse gases, this radiation is dependent upon the source of this energy- which can be liquids or solids.”

      • -The amount energy radiated from a greenhouse gas is dependent upon some heat source which radiate at wavelength which excites a greenhouse gas. If one could somehow switch off the source of this energy, then the greenhouse gas stops radiating. As long as the gas had a temperature above 0K it would radiate.”

        If you stop the velocity of all the molecules of say mole of gas, you will have 0 K, and if slow them down to around say 1 mph, it’s pretty cold- close to 0 K.

        “Shutting off the source of radiant energy that it can absorb would shut off the energy it can absorb from that source. It can still absorb energy through collision or from another source.”
        Well you talking about kinetic energy- billiard balls and heat/energy caused by collision of them. Molecules of ideal gas are considered frictionless- not as inefficient in transferring kinetic energy as billiard balls are.
        And you bring in a topic which leads down side roads and alleys- Something I would regard as complication which is fairly insignificant and I was just trying to state what I considered basic major elements.

        “When you measure the radiant energy of anything, you are measuring its radiant energy. ”
        Which like saying if measure something which is a meter long, it’s a meter long.

        “The measurement does tell you how it got that energy. You can infer where it got the energy, but you can’t track down the genealogy of each photon or vibration.”
        I think you meant “The measurement does [not] tell you how it got that energy.”
        But at night time when sun is not shining, the source of most energy is from what the sun heated up. But this rather off topic. Radiant energy is involving photon [wave/particle] traveling at speed of light. Radiant energy is not stored.
        Heat can be stored and can become radiant energy. The main elements on earth which store heat or energy are land and ocean, water, and water gas molecules, and the atmosphere in terms of it’s kinetic energy.

        The whole idea of greenhouse theory [which I didn’t mention] is a mechanism which to slows the loss of heat. Or a greenhouse isn’t heating anything, it’s delaying heat loss. Nor does a blanket [unless it’s an electric blanket] create heat, instead it delays heat loss.

        So if the greenhouse doesn’t have heat in it, or the person is dead, the greenhouse or the blanket does not cause things to be warm.
        One could argue about greenhouse theory, but I wasn’t.

      • “If you stop the velocity of all the molecules of say mole of gas, you will have 0 K, and if slow them down to around say 1 mph, it’s pretty cold- close to 0 K.” This velocity thing is through you off. That molecule could be traveling at the speed of light and still be at 0K. Velocity by itself is a potential energy. Changing the velocity is kinetic energy. A vibration mode requires energy which means it is going to lose energy, Entropy is king of the universe. Gravity is a constant acceleration which is a potential energy, it doesn’t generate heat unless it changes the motion of something. I was just looking at an induction cook top it has a magnetic field, but doesn’t generate heat until is causes something, ferrous metal in a pot, to vibrate. Everything is about changes in kinetic energy.

        That is another of the issues with the radiant model perspective and the down welling long wave concept. Engineers use net radiant energy because that is an indication of the difference or change. You can pick any number you like for DWLR, unless it causes a change in something it just noise. If they wanted a value for DWLR that had a meaning, they could pick 220Wm-2 which is about the radiant portion of the Greenhouse effect plus the loss of energy to entropy for the constant change the greenhouse effect produces.

      • “Pekka Pirilä | July 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

        You got all that wrong. The truth is exactly the opposite of what you write.”
        Hmm I think see the problem. I mentioned the term greenhouse gas, and therefore it become all about greenhouse theory.

        Sort of like mentioning Jesus Christ on the topic of morality.

      • –“If you stop the velocity of all the molecules of say mole of gas, you will have 0 K, and if slow them down to around say 1 mph, it’s pretty cold- close to 0 K.” —
        -This velocity thing is through you off. That molecule could be traveling at the speed of light and still be at 0K-

        That is true, but is why I said a mole of gas. Or a quantity of gas contained.

        “First, let me introduce the scientific meaning of temperature: it is a measure of the energy content of matter. When air is hot, the molecules move fast and they have high kinetic energy. The colder the molecules are, the smaller their velocities are and, subsequently, their energy. Temperature is simply a way to characterize the energy of a system.”
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-are-temperatures-clos
        a little java graphic:
        http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/bec/temperature.html

        “Cold Atoms Create New Matter

        At room temperatures, atoms move at the speed of a jet airplane. At less than 1 nanokelvin, the atoms screech to a crawl, moving only one inch every 30 seconds. Atomic energy corresponds to heat since atoms’ motion generates heat. So very slow-moving atoms are also very cold. ”
        http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97536&page=1#.UAIc_ZHC1lI

        “You can pick any number you like for DWLR, unless it causes a change in something it just noise. If they wanted a value for DWLR that had a meaning, they could pick 220Wm-2 which is about the radiant portion of the Greenhouse effect plus the loss of energy to entropy for the constant change the greenhouse effect produces.”

        I agree.
        But I thought I would start by by over basic stuff before getting into anything we normally argue about. :)

      • gbaikie, you are getting closer. As all good redneck theoretical physicist say, ” it ain’t the fall, its that sudden stop at the end that kills ya :)”

        The velocity of the molecules in the mole or the mole as a packaging, is not indicative of the heat content. It is the number of collisions and the vibrational or rotational states those collisions induce. If the kinetic energy of the molecules produces a photon emission, then one of those vibrational or rotational states changed to a lower energy level. If that photon happens to find a molecule in its path that can be raised to a higher energy state by that photon, then that molecule gains energy, the net energy change of the mole in that case is zero, so who cares :)

        When you look at the whole mole, then the net energy going in that mole will be the same as coming out of that mole, if the mole is in equilibrium, which is meaningless without a time constant, BTW. Since Entropy is king of the universe, nothing is ever in true equilibrium unless Ein=Eout + δS, which seems to be ignored by many :)

      • “The velocity of the molecules in the mole or the mole as a packaging, is not indicative of the heat content. It is the number of collisions and the vibrational or rotational states those collisions induce.”

        I agree the amount collisions and vibrations, and rotations is what is measured when gas warms a chunk of metal.

        “If the kinetic energy of the molecules produces a photon emission, then one of those vibrational or rotational states changed to a lower energy level. If that photon happens to find a molecule in its path that can be raised to a higher energy state by that photon, then that molecule gains energy, the net energy change of the mole in that case is zero, so who cares :)

        Yes.
        And if instead a photon escapes “the herd” loses a small amount of energy. And any photon has very little energy even billions of them. And a visible light photon has more energy than infrared photon. And what any photon does when it then encounter anything in terms of adding heat is yet another issue.

        “When you look at the whole mole, then the net energy going in that mole will be the same as coming out of that mole, if the mole is in equilibrium, which is meaningless without a time constant, BTW. Since Entropy is king of the universe, nothing is ever in true equilibrium unless Ein=Eout + δS, which seems to be ignored by many :) ”

        Yes.
        But like the apparent many, I will also ignore this equation :)
        I didn’t know we were even missing a time constant- I assume it has something to do what wonderful party the photon have no time to waste getting to?

      • gbaikie, “But like the apparent many, I will also ignore this equation
        I didn’t know we were even missing a time constant- I assume it has something to do what wonderful party the photon have no time to waste getting to?”

        The missing time constants are in the various non radiate thermal processes in the system. Solar is absorbed at various depths in the oceans. Depending on the depth, salinity and all the other fun stuff, that portion of Ein does not become a part of Eout until the δS of the oceans layers between where it was absorbed allows it to get out to where it can be emitted. There are time constants of minutes to millenia.

        If you assume we are currently in “equilibrium”, but we are a few centuries away, you get a funky answer. This is where an entropy model would help figure out where we are relative to “equilibrium”. The fun part is that as the system approaches “equilibrium” what appeared to be a first order forcing may be reduced to a second or third order forcing and some poor little second or third order forcing promoted to a first or high second order forcing. Then everyone is shocked by the “black swan” event :O To avoid that, you could think Ein=Eout -W +S, where W, work is done in steady state balance by S entropy in steady state. A “conditional equilibrium” with a “conditional steady state”. You could define W as growing an ice sheet, increasing ocean heat capacity and/or maintaining a certain lapse rate. That would be an Aqua world atmospheric energy model. The more thermodynamic boundary layers in the model the fewer the surprises. Still it is a complex non-linear dynamic system, but with the right model there aren’t surprises as much as they are discoveries :)

        This 1995 ocean mixing layer “regime” change,

        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/climate%20stuff/whatsnormal.png

        Could be a discovery, but looks like it is going to be another surprise for the climate team. Though, I suspect the next cool AMO will be weaker than normal or the solar minimum will get the credit so they can continue patting their models on the back after adjusting the aerosols a touch.

      • “The missing time constants are in the various non radiate thermal processes in the system. Solar is absorbed at various depths in the oceans. Depending on the depth, salinity and all the other fun stuff, that portion of Ein does not become a part of Eout until the δS of the oceans layers between where it was absorbed allows it to get out to where it can be emitted. There are time constants of minutes to millenia.”

        Oh, ok.

        “If you assume we are currently in “equilibrium”, but we are a few centuries away, you get a funky answer.”

        I don’t see how we could anywhere near such equilibrium.

        “This is where an entropy model would help figure out where we are relative to “equilibrium”. The fun part is that as the system approaches “equilibrium” what appeared to be a first order forcing may be reduced to a second or third order forcing and some poor little second or third order forcing promoted to a first or high second order forcing.”

        Interesting, so CO2 for example might make a difference.
        I don’t agree, I will grant it’s possible.

        “Then everyone is shocked by the “black swan” event :O ”

        It’s seems you would get less black swans.
        But you seem to be talking about global event.
        And if you get a global event, it seems one could an approximation
        of this in a regional context.
        Yes, no?

        “To avoid that, you could think Ein=Eout -W +S, where W, work is done in steady state balance by S entropy in steady state. A “conditional equilibrium” with a “conditional steady state”. You could define W as growing an ice sheet, increasing ocean heat capacity and/or maintaining a certain lapse rate.”

        Ice sheet? Not ice caps? Not polar sea ice?
        And we getting colder?
        Or warmer? Or none of above?
        I don’t understand.

      • “I don’t see how we could anywhere near such equilibrium.”

        In order to determine that a doubling of CO2 would produce a no feed back sensitivity you have to have some initial condition, equilibrium, as a starting point.

        “Interesting, so CO2 for example might make a difference.
        I don’t agree, I will grant it’s possible.”

        CO2 does have an impact, but it is non-linear. A warmer world is more humid which tends to reduce the impact of CO2 globally and enhance it regionally. CO2 is a neat part of the thermostat. There can be too much, but it doesn’t look like we are all that close to the too much. It is always better to be safe than sorry, just don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

        “It’s seems you would get less black swans.
        But you seem to be talking about global event.
        And if you get a global event, it seems one could an approximation
        of this in a regional context.
        Yes, no?”

        Black Swans are always a part of life. At a higher normal set point, there would be a different mix of black swans than at a lower set point. Judging by the paleo precipitation reconstructions, droughts look like the new black swans.

        “Ice sheet? Not ice caps? Not polar sea ice?
        And we getting colder?
        Or warmer? Or none of above?
        I don’t understand.”

        It is a bi-stable climate. Ice mass, mainly land based, is one of the variables. If you think of perfectly balance northern and southern hemisphere ice as normal, shifting to more southern ice is warm and more northern is cold because land amplifies global average surface temperature. More NH ice would produce a cold AMO by shifting the tropical belt south. At least that is the way it looks to me and my slide rule :)

      • gbaikie,

        I haven’t participated in the discussion because I wrote my first short message just before shutting down my computer for the night.

        Capt.Dallas has given many correct answers but not exactly as I would give them.

        The main starting points are for me:

        1 ) Each CO2 molecule (or other multi-atomic molecule) can be in different vibrational and states. Switching states may occur by absorbing and emitting radiation or due to collisions with other molecules.

        2 ) The collisions are much, much more frequent in troposphere and lower part of stratosphere than emission and absorption.

        3 ) A molecule in an exited states emits with (almost) exactly the same rate independently of the way it got exited. Because collisions are so much more common than absorption, almost all emission is by molecules exited by collisions.

        4 ) The share of molecules in an exited state grows exponentially with temperature as long as the share is not large. In case of CO2 at atmospheric temperatures the share of molecules in an exited state that corresponds to the 15 um IR radiation is several percent (around 6 percent). The incoming radiation has very little influence on this share.

        5 ) Based on the above the strength of emission from CO2 in certain volume of atmosphere is (almost) totally determined by the temperature, the amount of CO2 and properties of the CO2 molecule. Incoming radiation has no direct influence on that. Incoming radiation does, however, bring energy to the system as every absorption gives first vibrational energy to a molecule and then this is released to the thermal motion in the next molecular collision of that molecule. The energy may, however, be brought to the volume also by other means. Thus no incoming radiation is needed for emission.

        ===

        I hope you understand now, what I meant by my first short message. I interpreted your message to have two main points: “emission does not depend on temperature” and “emission is fully dependent on absorption”, while the correct statements are exactly the opposite.

        I have given more numbers on these issues in some earlier message months ago but I don’t have those numbers now and finding own earlier messages is far too much effort.

      • Mosh’s “Something easy for Jim to grasp” paper.
        From what I can make out, the general AGW overview is this :-

        The sun’s shortwave rays reach down to the earth’s surface (both ocean and land).
        Some of this energy is re-radiated back up again by the surface, but as longwave
        Greenhouse gasses happen to absorb longwave
        But they then then re-radiate all (?) of it (thus remaining at the same temperature). This re-radiation happens in all directions, which means some of the re-radiated longwave it makes its way back down to the earth’s surface
        Unlike a greenhouse gas, the earth’s surface does not re-radiate the longwave it absorbs. Instead it retains this energy and so must warm up. This is the point where AGW becomes apparent, the warmed land and oceans now warming the atmosphere by direct contact.
        And obviously the more greenhouse gas you add, the greater the warming.

      • tempterrain

        ” earth’s surface does not re-radiate the longwave it absorbs” ??

        Yes it does. You’ve probably heard the argument that if you add insulation to your walls and ceiling, and fit double glazing etc then these stop the heat leaving your house. That’s the wrong way to look at it.

        The amount of heat leaving is just the same as it was before! That’s the principle of equilibrium. But the inside temperature has to be higher to drive out that heat. That’s the right way to look at it.

        Similarly with the Earth: the increased opaqueness of the atmosphere to longwave IR radiation, caused by GH gases, means that the Earth has to be warmer than it would be to radiate the same amount into free space, if the atmosphere was less opaque.

      • tempterrain | July 15, 2012 at 3:18 am |
        says
        Yes the earth’s surface does re-radiate the longwave it absorbs

        In that case – in terms of what I suggest above – what happens next ?
        The longwave goes back up to the GHGs, some of it comes down again, goes back up again, some of that coming down again … ad infinitim, with nothing ever getting warmed??

        Something doesn’t add up in your account, surely.

      • tempterrain

        Erica,

        The Earth’s surface mainly gets warmed from sunlight in the visible part of the spectrum. That’s where the energy from the sun is most intense and that’s probably why our eyes have evolved to be sensitive in that region. So we can see the energy coming in. Every ‘visible’ photon coming in makes the Earth hotter.

        So if energy came in, without any going out, the Earth would get hotter and hotter indefinitely. That doesn’t happen so there must be energy leaving too, but which we can’t see. This is sometimes called radiant heat in the infra red region. Every invisible IR photon going out makes the Earth cooler. The cooler the Earth the fewer the IR photons emitted and the warmer the Earth the more IR photons are emitted, so naturally at some temperature the number emitted is exactly right to balance the heat from the visible ones coming in.

        However, if the IR photons don’t make it into space they can be reflected ( or rather absorbed and re-radiated) back onto the Earth’s surface which will cause it to be warmer than it would be otherwise. A cloudy night is warmer for this reason. Some IR is reflected (absorbed -reradiated) back from the clouds. GH gases work the same way. Anything that causes the atmosphere to be more opaque to IR radiation will also cause the surface to be warmer.

        The Earth has to ‘work harder’ , if you like, to radiate the same amount of radiation into space if the IR transmission path gets blocked. It has to radiate more IR photons to compensate for the ones being reflected back. It can only do that by getting warmer.

    • Pekka

      That is a good common ground for discussion. Let the the truth be the judge.

      How come you have not included the fact that the observed warming rate is less than that projected by the IPCC?

      When are we going the see the AGW side openly acknowledge the current plateau?

      • When are we going the see the AGW side openly acknowledge the current plateau?

        Only if it can be explained away. Otherwise never.

      • Girma,

        I was discussing what’s known about climate, not what IPCC is saying in some part of its report or erroneously claimed to say.

        The observed warming is certainly consistent with what I wrote.

      • …erroneously claimed to say.

        Prediction=> http://bit.ly/xColbo (IPCC’s own graph)

        Observation=> http://bit.ly/NsOarA (For the same dataset used for the above prediction)

      • Indeed.

        Picking a plot and misinterpreting that is making erroneous – or at least misleading claims

        You have been told often enough what’s wrong with this interpretatin. Thus I don’t repeat that.

      • David Wojick

        Actually Pekka, you are only discussing a small part of what is known, namely the AGW part. For example, it is also known that the feedbacks and other mechanisms that you mention in passing are in principle capable of negating the GHG forcing. It is known that these factors are not well understood, that we are emerging from a little ice age, which was preceded by a MWP that appears to have been warmer than today, etc.

        Focusing on the AGW part gives a misleading impression of the science.

      • David, the MWP and the LIA complications on determining climate sensitivity to CO2 forcing doesn’t seem to be adequate for those on the higher climate science consciousness levels.

        Perhaps, “In a bi-stable thermodynamic system, the natural drift from one semi-stable energy state to another can complicate the determination of the impact of an external forcing on either semi-stable state.” that sounds sexier.

        Then you can whip this on them,

        https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rRs69Ekl9Zc/T_7kMjPiejI/AAAAAAAAChY/baz0GHWEGbI/s917/60000%2520years%2520of%2520climate%2520change%2520plus%2520or%2520minus%25201.25%2520degrees.png

        “For the past 60,000 years, the tropical region of the Earth has drifted between two semi-stable energy states, the lower normal state and the higher normal states are approximately 1.25 C degrees above and below the mean of the two states, based on the TEX86 LakeTanganyika temperature reconstruction. With a drift of 1.25C likely common in the tropical region, a modern era increase of 0.8C is in now way exceptional unless the reference state for the 0.8C increase was near or above the higher normal energy state.”

        See, no mention of the MWP or the LIA, just a nice nudge to look at the bleeding data and stop assuming the IPCC “normal” is correct when the IPCC assumed normal could be below normal!

        Then you could whip out the ENSO region temperature trends for the past 30 to 50 years, to show how amazingly stable they have been during the unprecedented CO2 caused “global warming”. How the IPCC models have consistently over estimated the CO2 impact in the tropical regions. Even point out the the rate of energy increase would to decay to zero as the system approached either of the bi-stable energy states with some likelihood of overshooting the state initially, reversing the direction of decay.

        Kinda like this, . http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/climate%20stuff/whatsnormal.png

        or like this,
        http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o252/captdallas2/UAHoceansStratosphere1979to2002and2002to2011.png

        They will of course disagree that any of that is at all possible, since it is not part of the consensus theory and likely attempt to explain how CO2 forcing is well understood but complicated, so you should trust them :)

      • David Wojick

        Very nice Capt. Alas I am addicted to simplicity. Abstract sensitivity to CO2 doubling is irrelevant. What matters is what is actually happening, which we should know we do not know. Someday we may actually get some polling that asks the right questions.

      • David, but you have to understand the other side. They thrive on complexity because they equate it with job security. Remember a lone professor with a slide rule…? It take a village of climate scientists to replace a light bulb :)

      • Steven Mosher

        david

        “. It is known that these factors are not well understood, that we are emerging from a little ice age, which was preceded by a MWP that appears to have been warmer than today, etc..

        ####
        you think that the MWP is warmer than today?
        That implies you accept the temperature records of today.

        So lets get down to some estimates: How much cooler than today was the LIA? and how much warmer was the MWP?
        you seem to be speaking with knowledge.. cough some up

    • Pekka, saying greater surface warming is very likely is a strong claim, not a weak one. What is your basis for this claim?

      • It’s a little weaker than the corresponding statement in AR4.

        It’s my assessment on what almost all scientists do agree upon including many of the more skeptical ones. You don’t count in that.

      • Please explain the hypothesis, or give me the AR4 citation. It is a new argument to me.

      • AR4, WG1, TS, p. 65:

        “It [the equilibrium climate sensitivity] is very unlikely to be less than 1.5C.”

      • David Wojick

        Pekka your quote says nothing about the surface warming being greater than the atmospheric warming. That is the claim I am asking about. It implies two different sensitivities, hence my confusion.

      • You misunderstood my text. My reference is the effective radiative temperature of the Earth as seen from space, not the surface temperature or the atmospheric temperature at some fixed altitude. My choice was that to make the claim even less certain.

      • Not “.. less certain” but “.. less uncertain”.

      • David Wojick

        Thank you for the clarification. I agree that is the commonly accepted AGW paradigm.

  34. Steve Milesworthy

    In scanning through sections of the NIPCC report I was struck by the following claim:

    “It appears almost certain that surface-based
    temperature histories of the globe contain a
    significant warming bias introduced by insufficient
    corrections for the non-greenhouse-gas-induced urban
    heat island effect.”

    The statement includes a dog’s dinner of imprecise words and phrases: “it appears almost certain…significant…insufficient”. And even at the time it was written there was virtually no evidence to back it up, and very few scientists that would support it.

    I’d be interested to know if people could find any similar phrases in the IPCC report. One comparitor would perhaps be the attribution statement:

    “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentration”

    but that statement is a far more precise expression of the writers’ judgement (Most means more than 50%; “very likely” was defined elsewhere in the report).

    • Steve Milesworthy

      I also noticed that the NIPCC reproduction of the Hockey Stick removed all the uncertainty ranges – which is a highly unscientific thing to do.

      Looks like I am putting effort into “discrediting this report”. Am I justified in doing so?

    • Steve Milesworthy

      Just a few phrases from IPCC that meet your specification of ambiguity while exuding overconfidence and downplaying uncertainty:

      IPCC AR4 WG1 Ch.3, p.240:

      The 1976 divide is the date of a widely acknowledged “climate shift” (e.g. Trenberth, 1990) and seems to mark a time (see Chapter 9) when global mean temperatures began a discernible upward trend that has been at least partly attributed to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere

      AR4 WG1 FAQ3.1, Figure 1:

      This is the infamous “smoke and mirrors” chart comparing shorter more-recent warming periods with longer periods, with footnote:

      Note that for shorter recent periods, the slope is greater, indicating accelerated warming

      [The same comparison in reverse would have shown steeper warming from 1910 to 1940 than from 1910 to 2000, indicating “decelerated warming”?.]

      AR4 WG1 SPM, p.5:

      Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850). The updated 100-year linear trend (1906 to 2005) is therefore larger than the corresponding trend for 1901 to 2000 given in the TAR of 0.6°C [0.4° to 0.8°C]. The linear warming trend over the last 50 years (0.13°C [0.10° to 0.16°C] per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years.

      [see above comment]

      AR4 WG1 SPM, p.9:

      Paleoclimate information [*] supports the information that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years.

      [*the now-discredited Mann “hockey stick” and copies]

      AR4 WG1 SPM, p.10

      Anthropogenic forcing is likely to have contributed to changes in wind patterns

      Temperatures of the most extreme hot nights, cold nights and cold days are likely to have increased due to anthropogenic forcing. It is more likely than not that anthropogenic forcing has increased the risk of heat waves

      AR4 WG1 SPM, Table SPM.2., p.8:

      Increasing trend of heavy precipitation events over the late 20th centuryis said to likely [greater than 66%] have increased with a human contribution to observed trend to have been more likely than not [greater than 50%], based on expert judgement rather than formal attribution studies.

      From this rater dicey data the conclusion is drawn that the likelihood of future trends based on projections for the 21st century is very likely [greater than 90%]

      HUH?

      Etc., etc.

      Max

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Thanks Max,

        I can see why you picked some of these, but all of them seem to me more measured, better cited and more traceable (ie. you can work out why they came to this judgement), and the judgement is often supported by a broad range of the literature.

        1. Not controversial, not a statement that overly strongly supports AGW.
        2. “indicating accelerated” is a judgement call – it doesn’t say “proving that warming is accelerated. A similar exercise around 1940s would show you that the trend was very sensitive to end-point choices. Checking today, 6 years on, the 25 year trends (1986-2011) in HadCRUT3 and GISSTEMP are about the same as they were in this plot’s period (1980-2005) so neither acceleration nor deceleration. The highest OLS trend for the early period lasts for about 34 years (1909-1943). You get the same trend for 1965-2011 (46 years in HadCRUT3 which is known to downplay the recent warming).
        3. As 2). I agree that the 1910-40 period is of interest, but it is discussed in the report and since objectively it starts with a pronounced dip and ends with a pronounced bump one rightly questions the strength of the feature.
        4. The hockey stick is not “discredited”. The vision of the Hockey stick as being the certain evidence that the CWP is warmer than the MWP has perhaps been discredited if it ever existed in anyone’s mind. “Supports the information” is a suitably moderate statement.
        5. Don’t see anything problematical or controversial in this. “Likely” is a defined term in WG1. The work is cited.
        6. The way you have put it sounds bad – but you’ve cut and pasted comments from different parts of the table to ensure they do! The actual comment in the foot-note to the table is as follows, so the statement about “expert judgement” is ensuring the presented results are under-played rather than over-played:

        “Magnitude of anthropogenic contributions not assessed. Attribution for these phenomena based on expert judgement rather than formal attribution studies.”

      • Stve

        Thanks for confirming my conclusion.

        Max

  35. Joe's World

    Judith,

    You state that our knowledge base is limited.
    But any new area trying to be introduced is totally ignored for the current consensus which ALSO controls the peer review process of publishing.
    The government grant system is totally bias toward a certain outcome that they expect from the consensus scientists.
    So, science knowledge is NOT allowed to be following paths of knowledge but conceived by these consensus to follow the same path or be punished.
    Laws and theories have to be protected at ALL COSTS and NOT allowed to be expanded or corrected as many tenured positions would be in jeopardy for teaching incorrect material that they would defend no matter how incorrect they would be.
    The whole area of planetary mechanics was missed due to scientists following mathematical formulas and NOT the physical evidence.

  36. Dr Curry, you state “While the NIPCC is nowhere near as well known as the IPCC, much effort has been undertaken by those that support the IPCC consensus to discredit skeptical voices including the NIPCC.” without postulating any reasons for this.

    Perhaps it is because the NIPCC is a propoganda document published by a propoganda organisation (Heartland Institute) and is not based on hundreds of independently peer reviewed published scientific papers?

    Do you honestly believe that the NIPCC reports are in any way equivalent to those of the IPCC?

    • They are equivalent in presenting the counter arguments to the IPCC arguments. They do include citations by the way. Of course the IPCC has a much larger budget.

    • Steve Milesworthy

      While the NIPCC is nowhere near as well known as the IPCC, much effort has been undertaken by those that support the IPCC consensus to discredit skeptical voices including the NIPCC.

      There is no citation to support this claim so it is unclear who you are talking about.

      Discrediting what is written in the NIPCC report is not the same as discrediting the “skeptical voices”. The latter implies that the criticisms are personal, whereas one can point out the many flaws in the NIPCC without being personal.

      Further, given that the “IPCC consensus” has such a wide set of definitions (as discussed by the paper and in this thread), one should not define a group as being “those that support the IPCC consensus”.

    • Michael Larkin

      Do try to spell propaganda correctly. I wouldn’t point it out except for the fact that if you can’t be bothered to check something simple like spelling, how can you be relied on to check your facts in other contexts? Like the fact that the IPCC is very definitely a propaganda organisation?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Since you are so perfect, Michael, why have you put a question mark at the end? Is it perhaps an indication that you know you are on shakey ground when you use the word “fact” instead of “opinion”?

      • Michael Larkin

        The world’s leading climate scientist says governments’ reluctance to tackle the causes of climate change means they should be bypassed in favour of global ‘people power’.

        Climate change was marginalised at the Rio+20 talks, in an apparent attempt by the hosts Brazil to make coming to a final agreement as straightforward as possible – mindful of how controversial the topic has become.

        Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that the experience of Rio proves that the political will to take action simply isn’t there – and argues that a new form of activism is the only answer.

        “I would submit that the time has come that we shouldn’t really wait for governments,” he said.

        “Governments will of course have to play their own role – but what we really need to rely on is creating awareness among the people, so that each one of us in our own way should start treating this problem as serious – and meeting the challenge that confronts us today.

        “Climate change was officially not on the agenda for Rio, but there is no getting away from the fact that everything that is being discussed [in Rio] is intimately connected with climate change.

        “So I think it would be totally unrealistic to believe that we can talk about a green economy, sustainable development or the problem of poverty without dealing with the issues connected with climate change.

        “Climate change is in a sense the 10-tonne gorilla which is in the room and you’re not going to get rid of him easily.”

        No propaganda there, then.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        In the context of the original comment, you are confusing the IPCC chair with those that contribute to the writing of the report. I’d also add that attaching the word propaganda to any statement of political intent is just, erm…, propaganda.

      • I don’t really give a tinker’s cuss whether it is directly said by the monkeys or by the organ grinder. They are all ‘the IPCC’ to me.

      • And what do you call it when the word “propaganda” is left off a description of something that is propaganda ? 2nd-order propaganda?

      • Michael Larkin

        In the context of the original comment, you are confusing the IPCC chair with those that contribute to the writing of the report. I’d also add that attaching the word propaganda to any statement of political intent is just, erm…, propaganda.

        Damn, fancy my imagining that the chair of the IPCC didn’t have anything to do with its propagandism. I’m gratified, however, that you implicitly accept that a statement of political intent can be propaganda. I say it is in this case. You say it’s not. Surprise, surprise–the pope is Catholic.

    • David L. Hagen

      Louise
      Some scientists take the NIPCC seriously. See: On the Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) Wang Shaowu,Luo Yong,Zhao Zongci, Peking U, etc. Note their wisdom:

      Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened,heed only one side and you will be (b)enighted.Listening to the different voices would be much better than accepting the onesideness in promoting the science of climate change.

      Citizen auditors quantitatively found 30% of the IPCC citations are to grey literature! See Donna at NoFrakkingConsensus. You call that “scientific”?
      It does not appear that you have read either the IPCC or NIPCC reports. How can you comment that either are scientific or political?

    • David L. Hagen

      Louise
      For international perspective, see Labohm, Hans, Climate Policy: Quo Vadis? (2010). Amsterdam Law Forum, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1876383
      Labohm cites the NIPCC and accurately predicted the outcome of the IPCC’s 2009 Copenhagen meeting.

      ‘Europe’s Alleingang’ and ‘World-Wide Kyoto Participation’. Both scenarios promise great sacrifice, whereas neither of them will have a detectable impact on worldwide temperatures. All pain and no gain. . . .author recommends the EU to reconsider its position, since it has isolated itself from the rest of the world with its costly and ineffective climate policy.

    • Louise

      Get serious, ma’am.

      Heartland (parent of NIPCC) is a “political” organization, as you write.

      So is the UN, parent of IPCC.

      “Hundreds of independently peer reviewed published scientific papers”?

      Fuggidaboudit, Louise.

      Add: “carefully selected and edited to ensure conformity to the consensus premise” and you may be getting closer to the truth.

      Max

  37. Judy, I’d suggest keeping it shorter and more focused.

    I find the current climate community is best described as a ‘pseudo community’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Scott_Peck):
    Pseudocommunity: In the first stage, well-intentioned people try to demonstrate their ability to be friendly and sociable, but they do not really delve beneath the surface of each other’s ideas or emotions. They use obvious generalities and mutually-established stereotypes in speech. Instead of conflict resolution, pseudocommunity involves conflict avoidance, which maintains the appearance or facade of true community. It also serves only to maintain positive emotions, instead of creating safe space for honesty and love through bad emotions as well. While they still remain in this phase, members will never really obtain evolution or change, as individuals or as a bunch.

    There is some progress toward true community by some, for example Mike Wallace’s recent call out of extreme spring weather attribution. Unfortunately, I don’t think the egos involved at the gatekeeper level will allow real community. I think we’ll have to end up with an independent certification process, particularly for observational data sets.

    Regards, John

    PS – Istvan we now have 30 years of UTH data, check our paper:
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2010JD014847.shtml
    We include what should be the mandatory 95% confidence test accounting for persistence in the time series. You need to do that test for your trend figures…

  38. PithyAphorisms

    Consensus is a blunt instrument which is unsuited to repairing complex mechanisms.

  39. al in kansas

    “Although, as in any developing scientific topic, there is a minority of opinions which we have not been able to accommodate, the peer review has helped to ensure a high degree of consensus among authors and reviewers regarding the results presented. Thus the Assessment is an authoritative statement of the views of the international scientific community at this time….”
    Translation: “We ignored everyone who disagrees with us and used the peer review system to silence any other opposition therefore consensus is achieved. Thus we are now the scientific authorities on this subject.”

    I do not think that you realize how fatally flawed the IPCC is for the purpose that it espouses. It was created to justify political policy using science as a cloak to hide its true motives and a shield against any and all critique.
    Way forward: START OVER. The science must separated from the policy discussion. Until the science of climate is better understood, policy discussions are useless and continue to be a colossal waste of time and money.

    • tempterrain

      “Until the science of climate is better understood” Well hopefully it never will be eh? And even if it is, there’ll always be someone around to say it still isn’t good enough, won’t there?
      You’ll be able to keep that argument going for years, if not indefinitely.

      • Let’s hope so. That’s what science is.

        Andrew

      • Latimer Alder

        Very difficult for me to interpret your remark as anything other than an admission that the ‘science of climate’ is not well understood.

        And i don’t think that loudly shouting that a few hundred all agree that they think they understand it well enough will convince the rest of us that it is.

      • Temp, you misunderstand the point. Uncertainty has increased sharply in the last decade or so, with a proliferation of competing hypotheses and data. Science is like that.

      • tempterrain

        You mean that, at some stage, those who are now making the argument that no mitigation of CO2 emissions is necessary until the science is “better understood” will ever say something like “OK well that’s good enough for me. That piece of new science has completely changed my perception of the problem”.

        I have my doubts about that! But this is because I’ve “misunderstood the point” is it?

      • tempterrain | July 14, 2012 at 9:57 am | Reply

        > there’ll always be someone around to say [climate science] still isn’t good enough [to act on], won’t there? You’ll be able to keep that argument going for years, if not indefinitely.

        The reality is there has always been someone around to say climate science IS good enough, starting with the global cooling scare of the ’70s. Some even argue the very lack of quality predictions (certainty) is grounds enough to act.

  40. A few thoughts re “consensus.” First, there is a distinction among those who take issue with consensus. Some (like Thatcher) dismiss the concept of consensus as some kind of weak agreement in the absence of strong leadership. Others (like Crichton) reject the term “consensus” as a powerplay to eliminate dissent from the position taken by an elite. The latter’s quote pertains specifically to climate science, and indeed the term has become vilified by those who want to disagree with the establishment (i.e. IPCC).

    So I will avoid the term, and instead speak of “shared understanding” as a fundamental sociological and organizational reality. Any human enterprise or collaboration depends upon a shared understanding among the participants as to their mission, objectives, methods, and so forth. Sociologists have described how the strength of these convictions must exceed the threat posed from outside the group–e.g. Military discipline must be intense in order to face the armed enemy. Climategate showed that some climate scientists felt similarly under attack.

    A group with a shared understanding works together because individuals accept the same basic notions, while each one may also have ideas not shared widely, but which do not fundamentally contradict the base. In a field like climate science, addressing a wicked problem with many uncertainties, the shared understanding should be dynamic, not rigid.

    I think the failure in climate science has been to try to promote an all-encompassing set of conclusions, rather than to work slowly from a small but solid base of shared understandings to reach a larger comprehension, including uncertainties.

    • i like your last sentence especially

    • tempterrain

      Unlike Judith I like your first three paragraphs especially, except perhaps for the bit about military discipline .

      Yes a consensus is a ‘shared understanding’ and not, as a Judith might have you believe, and as I mentioned in a previous sub-thread, a unanimity of opinion.

    • Climategate showed that some climate scientists felt similarly under attack

      Roughly equivalent to criminals feeling under attack from the law.

    • I’m a fan of the first three paragraphs as well. Too bad that Judith doesn’t seem to see their value.

      “Consensus”-bashing is silly.. Consensus can be a wonderful way to reach group unity whereby everyone has a chance to express their views and everyone signs on to take a stake in the outcome. Or consensus can suck.

      It seems rather trivial to be so partisan as to cherry-pick to find something lacking in an inherently variable process such as consensus-building.

      Next, Judith will cull among the thousands of times that commonly shared scientific perspectives were reached to make implications by cherry-picking those occasions when commonly shared scientific perspectives were wrong.

      Oh.

      Wait.

      • Rob Starkey

        It is the foolish or those who intentionally try to mislead who like to claim a consensus without specifically stating on what issue they claim that a consensus has been achieved.

        In climate science it appears that there is a consensus on only the basic concept of AGW and not on the most important issues. The most important issues are the rate of warming and what will happen to conditions that are important to humans as a result. There is clearly no consensus on those issues.

  41. “Yearly (2009) characterizes the IPCC consensus building process as “an exercise in collective judgment about subjective Bayesian likelihoods in areas of uncertain knowledge.” Goodwin (2011) argues that the IPCC consensus is a manufactured consensus, resulting from an intentional consensus building process. Judging the manufactured consensus of the IPCC by Lehrer’s standards implies that the IPCC consensus is not intellectually meaningful. This argument does not imply that the IPCC’s conclusions are necessarily incorrect, but leads to the conclusion that the consensus building process employed by the IPCC does not lend intellectual substance to their arguments.” – JC

    I don’t think that this is a particularly well supported argument.

    Goodwin is careful to keep her manufactured consensus in scare quotes (ie “manufactured consensus”), presumably because she doesn’t think it’s ‘manufactured’ (she describes this as her “highly speculative” assertion) in the sense of setting out to come to a pre-determined conclusion, but because it was the outcome of a process.

    And on Lehrer’s guide, it seems he’s referring to the actual scientific process, which doesn’t apply well to the IPCC, as it doesn’t do science, it only reviews the available science. Whatever consensus there is, it exists in the literature, it’s not produced by the IPCC.

    • Michael,

      It is governments that pay the IPCC and follow in many cases their opinion.
      You have no idea how many times a politician has quoted that they are using what they paid for as an answer to what they are doing.

    • > Goodwin is careful to keep her manufactured consensus in scare quotes (ie “manufactured consensus”), presumably because she doesn’t think it’s ‘manufactured’ (she describes this as her “highly speculative” assertion) in the sense of setting out to come to a pre-determined conclusion, but because it was the outcome of a process.

      Indeed, as it has been discussed almost one year ago at Judy’s, Goodwin is studying the rhetorical design of the consensus, not the scientific basis of the consensus per se:

      http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/11022898631

      • Obviously Judith doesn’t see it that way.

      • Steven Mosher

        You guys still dont get Judith.

      • Thanks Steven.

      • Perhaps Mosphit could provide a quote that justifies:

        > Goodwin (2011) argues that the IPCC consensus is a manufactured consensus, resulting from an intentional consensus building process.

      • Steven Mosher

        willard, you continually buffalax everything I write. “You guys still dont get Judith” means that you dont get her. Maybe it means something different in your world, but to the rest of us, it means what it means. You dont get her.

        make sure you close the ads and enjoy

      • Steven Mosher

        I dunno willard, maybe she read the title of the article.
        “The authority of the IPCC First Assessment Report and the
        manufacture of consensus”

        Goodwins “speculation” is not about the manufacture of consensus,
        she says its her speculation that it was done as an appeal to authority.
        Simply, Goodwin looks at the rhetorical design of the consensus, but it is manufactured. That is not in question. To be specific she speculates:

        “The consensus claim thus seems to be primarily aimed at non-scientists, and in particular (I
        assert, somewhat speculatively) constitutes an appeal to authority.

        Note, this is not, as you claim, a speculative assertion about the fact of manufacture, but rather a speculation about the AIM or purpose of the manufacturing. And she’s right. Consensus gets used as an appeal to authority. walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. its a pig.

      • Dear Moshpit,

        My question applied to the topic Michael raised. It also applies to a comment I did write here one year ago. I don’t believe I need to respond to your dismissive mind probing. As if it was the first time you tried to bully me like that.

        The title of Goodwin’s article is not enough to justify that she was **arguing** that the IPCC consensus is a manufactured consensus, resulting from an intentional consensus building process. Any reader of her article can see that she **assumes** the “manufactured consensus,” and **describes** the rhetorical strategy that led to it. Insisting on the word “manufactured,” incidentally alluding the Manufacturing consent, only shows that we’re not into the pure epistemic mode, a mode where we’re supposed to limit ourselves if we’re not to taint our theories about the world.

        Interestingly, the way you framed your answer to Michael hides those facts. These omissions walk and quack like your overall gaming strategies. Such lacks of self-awareness and objectivity deprive you from the openness needed to see how transparent your gamesmanship appears to anyone with some experience in argumentation theory.

        That you believe this suffices to compromise the overall sincerity and integrity of my doodle sketching is beyond me. But I suppose there’s a market even for that.

        Najdorf players know that they’re playing the Black pieces and they they’re in a reactive mode. They learn to respect the potential dynamics in their opponent’s game.

      • Dear Willard,

        Clearly you don’t have a degree in ‘getting’ Judith.
        Please see Mosher for all insights into the mind of Judith.

        Mere mortals such as myself will have to continue to simply read the words, look at the references and see if they fit together reasonably, or not.

        Very old school, but we all have to manage within our own limitations, as considerable as they may be.

      • Steven Mosher

        willard.

        You wrote:

        “Goodwin is careful to keep her manufactured consensus in scare quotes (ie “manufactured consensus”), presumably because she doesn’t think it’s ‘manufactured’ (she describes this as her “highly speculative” assertion) in the sense of setting out to come to a pre-determined conclusion, but because it was the outcome of a process.”

        You seem to be claiming that Goodwin describes the “manufacturing” as as speculative assertion. But Goodwin wrote

        ““The consensus claim thus seems to be primarily aimed at non-scientists, and in particular (I
        assert, somewhat speculatively) constitutes an appeal to authority.”

        That’s quite a different thing.

        Maybe I dont get you or Goodwin. Perhaps you can explain. Maybe Judith doesnt get Goodwin. you might ask her to explain. Then you might get her. Maybe I would get her.

        Now, I said that you guys dont get Judith. and you respond and Micheal responds not with an attempt to understand what Judith wrote, but rather with two non sequitors

        1. A request that I explain Judith ( odd that )
        2. A misreading of Goodwin’s speculation. (odder still)

        The buffalax is funny, especially coming from you.

        Let me try again.

        you dont get Judith. Micheal doesnt get Judith. responding with a reading or misreading of Goodwin doesnt address that observation. Read that sentence again.
        slowly. It means exactly what it means and nothing more. Note. it doesnt say anything about me. doesnt say anything about Goodwin or Judith’s reading of Goodwin. It says ” you dont get Judith”

        To which you can respond; “yes mosh, I dontget Judith, she writes X, when Goodwin says Y”

        Now, think about how you responded to a simple fact. You dont get Judith. Its true. You dont. Its neverending you know.

        You might get this.

      • andrew adams

        You keep saying we don’t “get” Judith. What is it exactly that we are missing?

      • Moshpit,

        I’m not the one who said:

        > Goodwin is careful to keep her manufactured consensus in scare quotes […]

        That’s Michael who said that.

        Michael can presume whatever he fancies.

        It’s a free world.

      • Yes, that was mine and a mistake it was.

        What’s not a mistake, is that Judiths “Goodwin (2011) argues that the IPCC consensus is a manufactured consensus, resulting from an intentional consensus building process” is not supported by Goodwin (2011) who has nothing to say about the scientific consensus.

        I can see how one can err with this reference, but an error it is.

        I was going to check more, because you really do need to check the references on a piece like this to have much meaningful input, but I haven’t made it past Lehrer and Goodwin, both of which seem questionable.

        And what’s this psycho-babble about ‘getting Judith’?

        I want to see the data on that.

      • I’ll clarify my correction a little further.

        It’s the statement about the IPCC and its’ “appeal to authority” that Goodwin refers to as her “highly speculative” assertion, used by Judith as below;

        “In this context, Goodwin (2011) argues that the IPCC consensus has been used as an appeal to authority in the representation of scientific results as the basis for urgent policy making.” – JC

      • Digging further into the references….more problems.

        Koriat (2012).

        Koriat, A. (2012). When are two heads better than one?. Science, (336), 360-362.

        This is what Judith says;
        “Recent research by Koriat (2012) provides insight into the group dynamics of consensual judgments by examining how well a confidence-based strategy works in groups. When most people did not know the correct answers, confidence-based group decisions were worse than those of even the worst-performing individual, because group decisions are dominated by the more confident member. An implication of Koriat’s research is that in uncertain environments, groups might make better decisions by relying on the guidance of those who express the most doubt.”

        “When most people did not know the correct answers, confidence-based group decisions were worse than those of even the worst-performing individual,”
        Logically impossible, but then this is not what the study reports, only that the group performs less well than the “better” performing individuals.

        “An implication……”
        Really??. There is nothing that even hints at this in the paper, especially given that it deals with simple tests of general knowledge and visual-perceptual tasks. There is no link, however remote, to “uncertain environments”.

        This is that old favourite, the academic Kevin Bacon game – find a paper far removed from your own area, and try to make (or make up) a relevant link in as few hops, skips and jumps as possible.

        Where is Team Skeptic when you need them? – this paper need a full audit of the references.

      • Michael,

        Thank you for the expression “academic Kevin Bacon game”.

        Speaking of which, you might be interested to know that Larry Laudan wrote a very influential piece entitled For Method or, Against Feyerabend,. Connecting the two epistemologies together might be tough.

        I believe that this:

        > Where is Team Skeptic when you need them? – this paper need a full audit of the references.

        sums quite well my overall conclusion of what we can get from reading the thread, although an unreliable source tells me that Donna Laframboise might spend the week-end on the project.

        ***

        This conclusion does not entail that we need to get Judy. If you were to try to get to Judy, I suggest you express yourself like Judy Parrish:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/07/13/no-consensus-on-consensus-part-ii/#comment-219843

        or Mark Kantor:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/07/13/no-consensus-on-consensus-part-ii/#comment-219525

        Sending her an email might even be better.

        ***

        In any case, I never shown any interest in trying to “get” what Moshpit is trying to coatrack on this discussion. And I already said that my question was related to your comment. It was a way to include him in the exchange we were having, really.

        That Moshpit still tries to insinuate that my question “responds” to his coatracking only shows how fake his parsomatics can be.

        But I suppose there’s a market for that kind of fake comments.

      • Michael,

        The paper of Koriat does not study interacting groups but only the relationship between correctness and confidence. The principal finding is that confidence correlates positively with correctness when most have the correct view, but negatively when most err. The most confident people appear to agree usually with the majority whether the majority has it right or wrong – and they do without any interaction with the others. Furthermore the result is obviously observed for very specific type of questions which have simple answers, not for anything complex like scientific results.

        I agree with you that Judith’s formulation of the results is not in agreement with the contents of the paper. It tells that people err often in the same way and that in those cases the less confident may be those who are less likely to err. The problem is that this conclusion is based on knowing the right answer, not on analyzing information available when the result remains uncertain.

    • Whatever consensus there is, it exists in the literature, it’s not produced by the IPCC.

      And not cherry-picked at all. IPCC authors reviewing their own work doesn’t imply bias at all..

      • People who phrase things in the most negative light possible, aren’t interested in a realistic discussion.

      • IPCC authors reviewing their own work is the plain reality (and not the only built-in corruption there).
        Those who would seek to overlook such negative forces are the ones not interested in a realistic discussion.

      • You make it sound as though as single person makes the decision to include their own work.

        There are layers of review and writing, involving many other people who must also agree that the work warrants inclusion.

        This is nothing like what you imply.

      • Erica,

        IPCC authors reviewing their own work is the plain reality (and not the only built-in corruption there).

        This seems to have become common and accepted practice in climate science. It’s a culture that seems to have become wide spread and accepted. This is an example posted in “The Australian” four days ago. It is behind a paywall so I hope I can post it here.

        Climate panellist gets $10m in grants

        BY:JULIE HARE
        From:The Australian
        July 11, 2012 12:00AM

        AN expert panel charged with allocating $47 million in climate research grants handed $10m to a research centre run by one of its members.

        Richard Eckard, who has denied any conflict of interest, runs the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre, which sought funding for nine projects through the first research round of the federal government’s Carbon Farming Futures Initiative. It was successful with eight.

        Only 58 out of 230 applications, or 25 per cent, received funding, well below PICCC’s 88 per cent success rate.

        An international expert in methane and agricultural emissions, Dr Eckard is named lead researcher on one of the successful projects and is a member of the team on four more, attracting $4.2m.

        PICCC, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, helped prepare the other four proposals. The chairman of the 10-member expert panel, eminent scientist Snow Barlow, denied there was any conflict of interest.

        “If panel members are also named investigators they are not involved at all in the assessment of that grant,” Professor Barlow said. “They do not score it and must leave the room when it is being discussed.”

        Dr Eckard was unable to assess his own projects so no expert specific to the field reviewed his projects but, as the methane expert on the panel, he assessed other methane projects.

        Dr Eckard said the specialist nature of the research areas meant there was a very small pool of experts: “I understand some people are disgruntled by the process. But there were 22 or so applications from Victoria for the research round and we (PICCC) only helped shape nine of those.”

        He said the only extra value he brought to PICCC projects was the rigorous understanding of the guidelines derived from serving on the panel. “If anything, the panel is more cautious of funding other panel members’ projects because of accusations of conflict of interest,” he said.

        Professor Barlow dismissed the “halo effect” in which eminent researchers familiar to the panel were put under less scrutiny because of their reputation.

        “We all have our own reputations that we have spent a lot of time building up and we are not going to make decisions that would damage that,” he said.

        Two Queensland University of Technology researchers, Peter Grace and Beverley Henry, were also members of the expert panel and successful grant winners on four projects.

        A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, which has carriage of the funding round, said: “In highly specialised areas of research there are a limited number of experts available and these experts are quite often active researchers in their area of expertise.”

        http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/climate-panellist-gets-10m-in-grants/story-e6frg6xf-1226422922741

      • I see, so the IPCC position is now that the only person who can really understand a given paper, is the author. This explains why the IPCC appoints authors to review their own work. How terribly sensible.

      • Latimer Alder

        Perhaps they should allow PhD students to award themselves their own doctorates? And its clear that my Masters thesis was undermarked because the examiners weren’t qualified to understand the subtlety of my argument…………..

      • Whether or not IPCC authors decide on their own to be reviewers of the own work, is beside the point. It remains an blatant and deliberate malpractice calculated to skew the science so as to line up behind the its politics.

        And actually the situation is far worse than I first said. For this is far from being the only malpractice that is endemic in the IPCC, eg bad and worsening transparency, appointment of unqualified but ideologically ‘safe’ authors, refusal to discipline the abuses done under its auspices as revealed in Climategate, etc etc etc.

      • I’d love to hear a sensible alternative to having the science reveiwed by people who understand it………

  42. Two thoughts:

    1. Both Darwin and Einstein offered the potential for evidence that would prove them wrong. Darwin pointed out that if the Earth was not old enough, or that the mechanism of inheritance was not suitable, natural selection could not hold as the mechanism of biological evolution. Einstein offered three future tests that could falsify his proposal of relativity. Both explicitly offered their opponents the tools to falsify their own theories. And both did so out of purely scientific principle – there was no wider societal cost to their efforts. Is it too much to ask the same of climate science, when the resulting advocacy seeks to upturn the modern industrial civilization?

    2. When the United States military carries out training exercises using their \’consensus\’ best practices, a \’red team\’ is used to challenge and test standard practices. Other organizations, such as the CIA and major laboratories carry out similar challenges to normal practice. The use of \’red teams\’ to challenge in-house groupthink is found in precisely the organizations in which failure has the greatest cost – in lives and effectiveness in existential challenges – winning or losing wars. Given the costs and planetary scope of the proposed actions to prevent climate change, a vigorous red team attack on the \’consensus\’ position within the scientific community seems warranted.

    • The ‘red team’ concept would be an excellent addition to the IPCC. It would also never ever ever be implemented by the IPCC.

    • maksimovich

      Both Darwin and Einstein offered the potential for evidence that would prove them wrong. Darwin pointed out that if the Earth was not old enough, or that the mechanism of inheritance was not suitable, natural selection could not hold as the mechanism of biological evolution.

      Darwin offered the opportunity for falsification (in the popperian sense) which Kelvin fortuitously supplied eg Nalimov (after Monod)

      As to the second part of the paradigm, after the well-known work of
      Karl Popper (1963, 1965; see also Chapter I), it has also become philosophically clear that the role of an experiment in science is limited: a hypothesis can never be experimentally supported. The only thing that can
      be done is to show that the experiment does not contradict the hypothesis.
      But the same experiment may prove consistent with some other hypothesis,
      as yet unformulated, and a new experiment carried out to confirm
      a new theory may become crucial for a hypothesis consistent with
      previous experiments. Any hypothesis not refuted by an experiment remains open to further tests, and, according to Popper, here lies the
      source of progress of natural sciences.

      But if a hypothesis is refuted by an experiment, is it always rejected immediately and unconditionally? Above, in Chapter 1, I borrowed an example from Monod (1975) which described an awkward situation with
      Darwin’s theory. Thomson (Lord Kelvin), the physicist, demonstrated by
      means of exact calculations that solar energy could not suffice for the
      evolution of life on the Earth. Darwin was depressed by these calculations.
      A direct experiment-measurements of heat received by the Earth,
      of the dimensions of the Sun, and of fuel caloricity-came to contradict
      his theory. However, the latter was not rejected. Monod remarks that at
      present we may state that Darwin’s evolutionary theory implicitly contained
      the concept of solar nuclear energy though nobody could have had
      such an idea at that time. Besides, adds Monod, Darwin’s theory also implied the concept of a discrete biological code, contrary to Lamarck, who
      assumed the continuity of heritability.

      • maksimovich

        To put it another way,in theoretical biology a number of faults in induction of so called physical (scaling) laws have been the consensus the so called Rubner rule (Rubner 1932)

        The Rubner rule was even settled by a conference and a vote eg Dodds.

        in the 1960s a Scottish conference on energy metabolism simply voted, 29-0, to enshrine 3/4 as the official exponent. Then, in 1997, an elegant, though controversial, paper by Geoffrey West and colleagues was published in Science that claimed to derive 3/4 from first principles, drawing on ideas about fractals in networks and the growing length of tubes.

        http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmpr/?Page=News&storyID=15927

        That the consensus paradigm from a large number of researchers was also inconsistent with existing paradigms in Russian biological theory eg Bauer,and the Rubner constant,and that West invoked a second law violation eg Makarieva 2004.

        Dodds 2010,resorted to a spherical cow to show that the consensus was mathematically wrong,and it has been admitted since and science moves on.The is not taken as some form of secular heresy by the practitioners of the field,unlike the CS community where the antropocentric projections of idola tribus are taken as challenges and invoke the doctrine of infallibility.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novum_Organum

      • maksimovich

        Transposed Rubner for Kleiber in the first two paragraphs,

  43. “Apart from the issue of the relative merits of the IPCC versus the NIPCC reports, the mere existence the NIPCC report and the list of 30,000 scientists disputing the findings of the IPCC raises the issue of whether a scientific consensus on climate change makes sense, given the disagreement, uncertainties and areas of ignorance.”

    The mere existence of the NIPCC report and a list of 30,000 scientists only establishes disagreement. It doesn’t establish uncertainties and areas of ignorance.

    The list of “30,000 scientists” is really a list of popular opinion dressed up as a list of scientists. Check the requirements for signing that list. A large number of the public have degrees but are not scientists. The list of “30,000 scientists” is swelled by defining degree holders who are not scientists as scientists. I would be eligable to sign the list. Apparently by background in computing gives me insight into climate models, which is complete nonsense.

    Bear in mind that for any politically or religiously controversial scientific subject it’s easy to get many scientists that don’t actually work in the field in question plus many members of the public who have scientific degrees to sign lists and then present those lists to claim there is no consensus.

    Does the existence of so many scientists on the following list mean there’s no consensus on the theory of evolution?
    http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?command=download&id=660

    • “Apparently by background in computing gives me insight into climate models, which is complete nonsense.” Then please cease and desist from your floods of postings of bumpf on the subject.
      Thank you!.

    • Advancing “consensus” instead of evidence usually means the evidence isn’t very good.

      Andrew

      • Bad,

        It depends on what scientists ignore as evidence.
        Just because a scientist is not a geologist or any other area of study does not mean he has an opinion on those findings IF he comes across on the research.
        Opinion’s in science usually are bias to the funding to keep their research alive.
        The funding is the key issue to what gets published and where governments are going with the “paid for” science.

      • “Advancing “consensus” instead of evidence usually means the evidence isn’t very good.”

        Both evidence and consensus are advanced.

      • “Both evidence and consensus are advanced.”

        And out of all the evidence that’s been advanced, which specific piece of evidence is the most convincing? You know, since ‘consensus’ is just people agreeing with each other’s beliefs and is not scientific.

        Andrew

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        You are bad, Andrew. Badly informed. Consensus isn’t “people agreeing with each others beliefs.” Always at issue is what the data is telling us, and then a probability established that the data is telling us what we think it should be telling us. The recent announcement related to the Higgs Boson is a perfect example of this scientific consensus process. There would now be a consensus (among those qualified to judge the data) that the DATA show something acting an awful lot like a Higgs Boson at the right energy level has been confirmed at a very high level of probability. This is called scientific consensus, and has nothing to do with “people agreeing with other people’s beliefs.”

        Next talking point Andrew. Maybe you could head over to John Daly’s site and find something…

      • Definition of CONSENSUS
        1a : general agreement : unanimity b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned
        2: group solidarity in sentiment and belief

        duh

        Andrew

      • What R.Gates is really telling us is that he and other Warmers live in a Wonderland where words mean what he wants them to mean.

        Andrew

      • simon abingdon just expended about ten posts on tempterrain saying consensus was not unanimity, and you’re just killing him. Sure enough, when you look it up, one synonym is unanimity.

      • tempterrain

        Yes you can look up lots of synonyms in dictionaries but you’d have to question lots of them.

        If you look up ‘black’ you’l see that one suggestion is ‘clouded’ Are these really synonyms?

        If you look up ‘white’ you’ll see ‘bloodless’

        All English words have nuances of meaning. Meanings are not all black and white, or should I say clouded and bloodless?

        But if Judith really thinks Unanimity and Consensus are synonymous she should say so.

  44. Stephen Pruett

    This is outstanding! I was on board by the time I read, ” If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.” I think this comment stream indicates that these conclusions are difficult to refute. Only a few thus far have defended purposeful consensus as a valid approach in science. The real irony in this whole situation is that the IPCC has managed to act in a manner that almost seems designed to increase public doubt. It has increased doubt, not just in the consensus positions on climate, but in the integrity of science in general, which is one of the major reasons many scientists in fields other than climate science have become interested in this issue.

    • Stephen,

      Governments do not pay for “IF’s”, they want results for their money. Keeping a consensus insures questions are ignored and governments are happy with the results even IF they are biased and flawed.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Nonsense. Governments throw lots of money around and expect nothing in return except maybe some highly doctored summary report. We all could wish governments would be so efficient!.

      • Joe's World

        I do not want an “IF” report from you..so you will not be getting any government grants.

      • The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

        Right now many dozens of people in the U.S. government are focused on planning for an ice free Arctic. From military strategy to resource development, this planning is one big huge “IF”. If the Arctic sea ice continues to melt, if warming continues, etc. Some may say this is a huge waste of tax dollars, to plan for such a future potential event…where’s the “consensus” Another very foolish thing the U.S. government is doing. Others would say it would be foolish not to be doing this planning.

      • Joe's World

        The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates),

        Some points you a correct and others not…just depends on the research YOU have done to what I have done.
        No grants or monies on my part…just pure curiosity to find answers that our current scientists consensus cannot provide.

  45. A statement claimed or intended to be a candidate for consensual approval should have much more rigorous sourcing, validation, and testing than one proposed as a hypothesis by an individual or small group. To use the purported pre-existence of a consensus to dilute or avoid such requirements is a sure indicator of priority given to other-than-science goals and purposes.

  46. Seems ter me that the crux of the consensus arguments above is that an *institutionalised consensus building process* brings into play ‘the invisible hand’ of confirmation bias by the majority and the marginalisation of critics, even attempts to exclude them from the process. A consensus mission is not a mission to eliminate error and seek to discover truth, its a mission to get everyone to agree This Lehrer (1975) quote is pertinent :
    ‘If.. consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern’

    As Judith points out this does not mean that the IPCC conclusions are ‘necessarily incorrect,’ but, say, it sure makes them more likely to be incorrect than if the aim was critical, *critical* investigation of evidence for its own sake and fergit consensus.

  47. This seems to me to strike at the heart of the ‘consensus’ debate:

    “….consensus among a reference group of experts …….. is relevant only if agreement is not sought. If a consensus arises unsought in the search for truth and the avoidance of error, such consensus provides grounds which, though they may be overridden, suffice for concluding that conformity is reasonable and dissent is not. If, however, consensus is aimed at by the members of the reference group and arrived at by intent, it becomes conspiratorial and irrelevant to our intellectual concern.”

    • Joe's World

      tomf0p

      There can be intentional deception and unintentional ignorance.
      But it is up to the individual to follow through or state it is just good enough and not follow science to the whole conclusion.
      Most of current science is based on theory with very little based off of facts.

  48. As a general editing point, you are an accomplished writer and you are aiming publication at a genre/context that is both by tradition and sometimes necessity wordy. Yet your paper seems overly long. Your point is fairly simple: Consensus has failed to provide a meaningful direction for CS and has perhaps itself become a contaminant. Your reference support is excellent for a paper of this length and would certainly not suffer from a shortening of the body.

    Mentioned generally by others above is your conclusion which I take to be the most problematic element of your paper:

    “It is time to abandon the concept of consensus in favor of open debate of the arguments themselves and discussion of a broad range of policy options that include bottom up approaches to decreasing vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events and developing technologies to expand energy access.”

    Some specific criticism:

    A) This might be a case of “false conclusion.” If consensus is abandoned, then what is the basis for doing anything? Yet, you implicitly assert the value of a bottom up approach without (in my mind at least) sufficient supporting detail. This renders it a bit “mom and apple pie.”

    i.e.

    1) Is there a structure for assessing the relative value of various bottom up approaches? The absence of any only invites the current political melee to reposition itself elsewhere.

    2) “…decreasing vulnerability…” Perhaps defines a range of possibility/action so broad as to include the range between returning to caves and paving over the rain forest.

    B) Based on the balance of your paper, you are arguing a case for the correct application of scientific method to CS (i.e. by asserting and documenting that consensus is not helpful) but you conclude with a proposal for action aimed at climate. The conclusion should limit itself to the context of it’s supporting argument. That is, a disciplined return to publication of method and results (both complete and transparent) followed by peer review, perhaps simultaneous independent repetition of the experiment or model followed by either acceptance or refutation. (Each represents a formal synthesis as a conclusion is reached which will in turn become a new thesis). It isn’t sexy and doesn’t attract funding but it is the hard, cold road necessary to advance understanding of physical reality. I think you actually do a fine (and in current social context unique) job of arguing for it, albeit at length. However, you subsequently abandon it as you cross the finish line.

    • Excellent review.

    • Joe's World

      jbmckim,

      You do have a very good grasp an what is currently in issue and that the current consensus failed to investigate itself when any new advances in science took place.
      Just to hold onto the old theories for tradition does NOT advance science or our knowledge base.
      Debate in new areas should be encouraged but it is not for the sake of protectionism.

    • Roger Caiazza

      I suggest that the point is that extreme weather and climate events will happen with or without any additional warming or cooling caused by mankind’s activities. Therefore, the proposal to decrease vulnerability to extreme weather is a “no regrets” option whatever the science says.

  49. “At the same time, these uncertainties should not be regarded as a restriction on decision making.”

    Gavin Schmidt could not have said it better himself.

    Surely the exact opposite of this is true. Uncertainty should precisely be regarded as a restriction on decision making. And if the uncertainty is great enough, it should act as a bar, not just a restriction, on certain policies.

    And this – “Science should be a tool for policy action rather than a tool for political advocacy (Dessai et al. 2009)” – is directly at odds with the history of the IPCC remarked in the article itself. The IPCC was not formed by scientists seeking to “speak science to power.” The IPCC was created, funded, and staffed at the highest levels by politicians to garner “scientific” support for their pre-existing policy goals.

    The IPCC and the consensus are about power speaking to voters, to justify their assumption of more power. It is about silencing, or at the very least overwhelming the voices of, those who dissent from power.

    As progressives gained political power, they shifted from “speaking truth to power” to “speaking propaganda to the powerless.”

    • Steven Mosher

      ” Uncertainty should precisely be regarded as a restriction on decision making.”

      Hmm. I live in san francisco. It’s uncertain when the next big earthquake will hit. Nevertheless we have decisions made that take note of this uncertainty.
      The uncertainty is not a restriction on decision making, the uncertainty drives the decision making. We act in certain ways because we are uncertain.

      The notion that the epistemic status of a sentence ( certain to uncertain ) is necessarily tied to responsible decisions is uncertain at best. Sometimes we do things because we are certain and other times we do things because we are uncertain. In short, the epistemic status of a sentence doesn’t tell you on its face how it can or should be used.

      • Lukerwarmer~san, it maybe uncertain when the next one will hit, but it is certain to hit. Can’t say the same about climate sensitivity, can we.

      • Steven Mosher

        Doesnt work either. we are certain the sun will go out, but that fact doesnt mean anything. what people are trying to do is read an action directly off the epistemic status of the sentence. What Im pointing out is that noting the epistemic status of a sentence tells you nothing about how that sentence can or should be used. Uncertainty doesnt imply action or inaction. Look I’m certain we have emmitted enough C02 to cook the planet, therefore we should do nothing. seize the day, the future is screwed. not really, but you get the idea.

        my side ( AGW) has fallen into a trap. they thought that certainty would drive people to action. they thought they were fighting merchants of doubt. wrong.

      • But Merchant of Doubt was a stroke of genius! You could just pick your bogeyman and drive popular opinion straight down the fairway. Add a few linear no threshold models and you could have a 15 millirem Yucca Mountain for 10,000 years.

      • Steve, you say ” Sometimes we do things because we are certain and other times we do things because we are uncertain”. I was simply pointing out that your earthquake analogy was flawed on epistemological grounds. You are certain to experience and earthquake, you are simply uncertain about the scope ( although advances are being made here). Action, in the form of building mitigation practices are warranted. Can you point to something really big were we acted because we were uncertain?

      • Steven Mosher

        ” Can you point to something really big were we acted because we were uncertain?”

        I would say almost every decision to go to war is rooted in uncertainty.
        Take Iraq. We knew before the war that he had WMD, but our prime motivation was we were uncertain about what he would do with them.
        When you press down into ANY decision you will find magically that there are things we are certain about and things we are uncertain about.

        The Appeal to certainty or Uncertainty has nothing to do with the decision.
        It has to do with selling the decision. That’s really my point. We are always and forever certain about somethings and uncertain about others. The stories we tell to convince others depend upon what works. Sometimes fear of certain death works, sometime uncertainty works.
        I buy life insurance because I am certain I am going to die and uncertain about when. Is my action driven by my certainty or uncertainty? get it.

      • Steve, you say, ” I buy life insurance because I am certain I am going to die and uncertain about when. Is my action driven by my certainty or uncertainty? get it. ” One of us is exceptionally thick here Steve, and I think it might be you. What a bad example – yes you buy insurance because you are certain to die someday. What the hell does this have to do with the uncertainty, of climate sensitivity. Are you so sure about the extent of positive forcing, if so let’s see the link. Your examples are illogical and I don’t want to beat this horse any longer.

      • Someone has been reading Joshua’s comments too much. Semantics are boring. But…

        My comment was in response to the statement in the main article “these uncertainties should not be regarded as a restriction on decision making.” Which was why I quoted it verbatim.

        Now granted, I left “these” out of my own sentence, so you get a kewpie doll for effort. But my reference was with respect to the massive uncertainties inherent in CAGW.

        But even taking your point at face value, I don’t know anyone who favors incurring the enormous costs of constructing buildings in California to withstand earthquakes because they are uncertain whether another earthquake will ever happen. It is the recent experience of the frequency and effects of earthquakes in the area that makes the expenditures palatable. It is perceived probability, not uncertainty, that drives those decision.

        Now show me the last time there was a CAGW thermageddon, and we’ll talk.

    • tempterrain

      “Surely the exact opposite of this is true.” ?
      You’ve never seen this?

      • Termpterrain,

        OMG. You must be joking promoting that nonsense. Just listen carefully to the spin. Note the bias in how he describes the consequences in the four boxes.

        Don’t you question this sort of nonsense? Is advocating this rubbish what you call “science”?

        I can’t believe you try to make out you should be trusted as an authority on science, yet you are so gullible as to swallow this nonsense without even questioning it.

        Is this typical of the sort of message people should expect from SkepticalScience?

        Answer: Yes.

      • tempterrain

        Peter Lang,

        Do you ever read your own comments? Look back at this one and have another try. This time include some reasoned arguments as to why you don’t like the argument. Why you think its spin. Why you think it’s nonsense. Why you say OMG. Why you think its rubbish.

        Do you see what I’m getting at?

      • Tempterrain,

        When someone swallows stuff like that, there is no point in trying to get through to them. That person (e.g. you) is gullible. Or more likely just wants to believe anything that fits his ideological beliefs.

        Look at the difference between the way he describes the worst case scenario in cell 1A compared with cell 2B. Just listen to the emotion. Notice the down-playing tone for 1A and the scaremongering tone for 2B. Notice the length of time spent on scaremongering 2B. Notice all the extremist adjectives: “end of the world”, “catastrophe” etc etc etc. He goes on and on. This is provides an excellent example of the sort of nonsense you swallow hook, line and sinker – and you call it science! OMG!

        I’d point out that the level of action implicit in column 1 is much higher cost than Nordhaus’s optimal policy and optimal carbon price. The cost has to be high enough to stop CO2 emissions rapidly. The cost of such a policy is huge. It would cause millions, perhaps tens of millions, of fatalities (like the ban on DDT caused, another loony-Left idea imposed on society without thinking it through properly).

        The cost of applying the policy he advocates is guaranteed. 100% certainty. And for what reason? The reason is because he has a belief. He has a fear. But there is not a skerrick of evidence to support it.

        That is not risk management. It is a spin-merchant attempting to confuse gullible people (who know nothing about formal risk management).

        Don’t expect me to discuss this video any further. It is complete and utter rubbish.

      • Tempterrain,

        You did not respond to my last comment. Having answered your question, I’d like to see your answer to your own question (you put to me):

        Do you see what I am getting at?

        More directly, do you now realise why that video is complete rubbish.

        If you don’t why don’t you to turn it into a decision analysis and run the numbers.

      • That dude’s a clinic all to himself. Peter Martin, study him. Call me in the morning.
        =========

      • tempterrain

        Peter Lang,

        Any short video clip will be open to the charge of oversimplicity which is the main objection I’ve heard. You must really wish the video itself were rubbish, then it wouldn’t have had the success it undoubtedly has had. You’re just jealous of that, I dare say.

        So, what is the basic argument that you don’t like? It’s that there are many reasons for wanting to move away from fossil fuels which are unconnected with climate. Fossil fuels are finite. They’ll run out and we need to plan ahead anyway. They are often sourced in politically unstable regions of the world. They cause high levels of pollution in every major world city which are responsible for millions of deaths each year. So even if we have it wrong on the climate, there are plenty of other reasons for starting to make the switch now rather than leaving it until later. Fossil fuels can still be used but instead of all at once, they can be used over a longer period of time.

        What’s so “loony left” about saying that?

        You may disagree with that line of argument but, if so, you need to explain why. Anyone can use the phrase “complete and utter rubbish” about anything and everything. If that’s all you can say it shows a paucity of intellectual ability on your part.

      • Tempterrain,

        So now you recognise it’s not about CAGW at all. It’s about a belief that the government and the Left should direct us how to get off fossil fuels for a whole stack of other Lefty beliefs. Is that a window into what the Left’s next scare campaign will be able, now that CAGW is dying rapidly.

      • tempterrain

        Peter Lang,

        You seem full of anger. Is that you consider the science of global warming to be a scam and left wing conspiracy against humanity?

        If you think that, and produce a series of rants to try to justify this belief don’t you think its just a little offputting?

        How can you expect to be taken seriously on the details of the argument?

      • Tempterrain,

        You put up a really silly video. I explained to you in a way that I thought you would understand why it is simply extremist rubbish. Clearly you love it and you think the fact that thousands of people fall for it is a sign it is good.

        You advocate this sort of nonsense on this web site and you haven’t the intergrity to admit it is total rubbish, and you have the hide to talk about me being taken seriously. Many of your comments have made me realise you little constructive to offer except to keep repeating your beliefs. This video, and your continuing advocacy of it have put to rest any lingering doubts I may have had about your integrity and ability to contribute anything worth reading.

      • tempterrain

        Peter Lang,

        Why don’t you say something useful instead of this continual meta-argument which you seem so keen on?

      • Latimer Alder

        This guy is the sceptics best secret weapon.

        Greg somebody – who went into public meltdown a while back?

      • Latimer Alder

        Interestingly Pascal presented exactly the same argument as to why he should believe in a god.

      • tempterrain

        You can argue why a course of action is correct, but , regardless of the merits of that argument, it can’t possibly be the same as why anyone should believe, or disbelieve, in anything.

      • Latimer Alder

        Look up Pascal’s Wager.

      • So let’s look at the extremes.
        But serious issue missing is time. And a time element is spending money now, and having disaster from it certain and timescale in less the decade.
        And money spend is not in doubt because countries have already wasting more trillion already and what waste all this money has done nothing to prevent any future climate disasters.
        So the point is we aren’t doing enough wasted who know how much, but at trillion dollar in total. And one could make the case that what was done has been a part of what is causing a world wide recession.
        So the plan is to spend say at least 5 times more, and continue spending
        this amount money for next century or more.
        And with all that money wasted do very little as far as affect global CO2,
        and quite possible to increase the amount of CO2 emitted had there none of wasted resources intended to solve the problem.
        So we start wasting more money, resulting deaths because resources which may saved lives was used for this AGW crusade, and no reason to expect it actually does any good as defined as good by this crusade.

        Another aspect related to time is history of damage already done from weather which has nothing to do with AGW. In last century probably well over 10 trillion dollars has been spent related to weather disasters.
        And nothing alters in term of global climate, in the future for next 100 year we will probably spend as much 100 trillion dollars merely if weather is the same. And money squandered now, than there is less money spend on future weather disasters, simply we won’t the resources to spend on it. A poor nation spends far money on weather disasters, instead money spent, they pay in lives lost.

        Next, related to time element is when can we expect these the of the world, 10 meter sea rise type apocalypses?
        Well, it not extreme possibilities that it could occur in less than 50 years, it just impossible. The wildest ideas would not have any like a 10 meter rise in 50 year, not even 1 meter rise in 50 years.
        Just because nuttier [which zero scientific knowledge, and are no better
        prediction than from drug crazed lunatic] is we going to get 10 C rise in global temperature within a couple decade, it doesn’t mean we to include this kind of expectation in the future.
        So no one who is sober thinks any serious in terms rising global temperature [+5 C] or +1 meter sea level rise will happen in less than 50 fifty years.

        So, it seems there is no possible upside, if the solution is to increase taxes and add more regulation that restricts CO2 emission. There zero upside, just like there zero upside to becoming like Soviet Union.
        But the is infinite downside.

      • But there is infinite downside.

        So I am going simply grab some numbers relate to waste of money
        on AGW. Things I count as most waste are things which should obviously seen as waste. Ethanol production is excellent example. Only dye in the wool true believer would argue this is not waste of money. A part of this perception is corporate welfare- this in itself isn’t real reason it’s waste of money. And only reason it’s continue is because of lobbyists and votes in key states. Ethanol has been subsidized forever. I it seems reasonable guess that when first suggested, proponents were suggesting the subsidies are needed to get it to point of being profitable. HA HA.

        Another thing which a serious waste of money is Germany in their country that get very little solar energy, is spending money supporting
        people buying solar power. It wouldn’t as much of waste of money if solar power was subsidized for areas which had 2 or 3 times more solar energy per square [not available anywhere in Germany]. So,
        “Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion”, doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy.”
        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/project_syndicate/2012/02
        /why_germany_is_phasing_out_its_solar_power_subsidies_.html
        So even the idiot bureaucrats and pols are realizing it is a waste of tax dollar for a country crazy on being “green”.
        130 billion in total spent for homeowners for solar panels.
        So a tiny part of the money that Germany has squandered solely due
        to AGW

        “In Germany, solar is by far the most inefficient technology among renewable energy sources, and yet it receives the most subsidies. Some 56 percent of all green energy subsidies go to solar systems, which produce only 21 percent of subsidized energy.”
        http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/solar-subsidy-sinkhole-re-evaluating-germany-s-blind-faith-in-the-sun-a-809439-2.html
        This too:
        “”From the standpoint of the climate, every solar system is a bad investment,” says Joachim Weimann, an environmental economist in the eastern German city of Magdeburg. Hans-Werner Sinn of the Munich-based Ifo Institute for Economic Research calls solar energy a “waste of money at the expense of climate protection.”

        So I could not find breakdown commerical solar power selling to grid and homeowner type solar panels. So anyhow at least 130 billion dollars plus money more money paid in future year for existing solar power. So 150 billion solar and say 100 billion for non solar.
        1/4 of trillion dollars for these subsidizes for reducing CO2, which actually don’t reduce CO2 emissions. The total net is probably significant addition to CO2 emission if include CO2 cost of it’s production and maintenance. Wind is considered slight better, but we in no way including all costs- which is much more difficult and which is more debatable/contention but probably more than another 1/4 trillion in costs. Now Germany is the worst in terms utter waste in regard to solar panels. But America is far worst with it’s Ethanol subsidies.

        “America’s corn farmers have been benefiting from annual federal subsidies of around $6 billion in recent years, all in the name of ethanol used as an additive for the nation’s vehicles.

        That ends on Jan. 1, when the companies making ethanol will lose a tax credit of 46 cents per gallon, ”
        “What the industry doesn’t want to see, however, is an end to a separate tax credit for ethanol made not from corn but non-foodstuffs like switchgrass, wood chips and even the leaves and stalks of corn.
        Known as cellulosic ethanol, no one is selling it just yet due to its higher R&D and production costs. But the industry hopes to soon, and the production tax credit is up to $1.01 per gallon.”
        And:
        But there’s a nearer-term battle brewing over corn-based ethanol. A 2005 law requires that 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be produced by 2012 — 6.25 billion gallons were produced in 2011. A 2007 revision gradually increases that to 36 billion gallons by 2022.”
        So at 1.01 per gallon and 36 billion gallon, the plan is to spend even more tax dollar.
        Same article what are saying now about corn-based ethanol now that there isn’t going money in it, and they want make more other subsidy:
        “Corn ethanol is extremely dirty,” Michal Rosenoer, biofuels manager for Friends of the Earth, said in heralding the tax credit’s demise. “It leads to more climate pollution than conventional gasoline, and it causes deforestation as well as agricultural runoff that pollutes our water.”
        and
        “We will now also turn our attention to ending other federal policies that support dirty corn ethanol, including the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Rosenoer.
        http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/29/9804028-6-billion-a-year-ethanol-subsidy-dies-but-wait-theres-more?lite

        Lesson keep lying and be a slippery moving target.
        And:
        Congress’ decision to end its 30-year-old ethanol subsidy could boost gas prices as early as next week, according to USA Today. That’s because virtually all retail gasoline sold in the U.S. contains at least 10% corn ethanol.

        The end of the subsidy portends an increase in manufacturing costs. Ethanol blenders get a 45-cents-a-gallon tax credit, according to USA Today. When the credit ends Sunday, those costs will most likely be transferred to the consumer at about 4.5 cents per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline, which typically contains a 10% ethanol blend called E10″

        Since it’s law that must in gasoline one has consumers paying the additional cost. 6 billion time 30 is 180 billion. With plans to pay twice as much for non-corn based Ethanol. And we have govt forcing us to buy it, and increasing gasoline costs. And if we spent 5 billion 20 years ago, in today’s dollars that is more than 6 billion dollars.
        So keep in mind that 180 billion dollars spent of something “dirty”
        and causes more CO2 emission. Easily for numerous ways to count it.
        And they spend more than twice this amount in future.Which when that is ended, they will call “dirty” and inefficient in terms adding more CO2 emissions.

      • Temp, Greg Craven? Have you misplaced your meds again?

      • That guy should not be allowed within ten miles of any classroom.
        Logic fail #1: he incredibly assumes that the hugely negative effects listed in 1A will magically disappear in 2A
        Logic fail #2: he equally incredibly assumes that taking action will prevent the 2B scenario from happening – when, by all reasonable estimates, any action we can take will merely postpone the worst case for a few years.

      • And if we fail to prevent it from happening then we won’t have any money left for adaptation.

  50. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Dr Curry, about this quote from Oreskes: If there is no consensus of experts—as was the case among earth scientists about moving continents before the late 1960s—then we have a case for more research. If there is a consensus of experts—as there is today over the reality of anthropogenic climate change —then we have a case for moving forward with relevant action.”

    Point out that there was a consensus among physicists about moving continents before the late 1960s: the consensus was that it could not possibly have occurred because there was no energy source sufficient to move the continents. That consensus was wrong. That consensus asserted that something that had not been found and studied did not exist. That consensus has a parallel in the climate science consensus that the the sun can not be exerting more influence than is accounted for in the climate models because a sufficient mechanism is not known. To assert that “what is not known to exist” in fact “does not exist” is a perversion of Occam’s razor: to assume something is absent is as big an error as to assume that something is present.

    fwiw, I like the essay.

  51. No energy source sufficient to move, haha, that sounds familiar.

    • Joe's World

      Edim,

      We currently think as energy being a single source when in actual fact comes in many different forms.
      From our forefathers I would hazzard the guess…

  52. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Dr Curry: We have personally encountered this effect numerous times in our interaction with colleagues that support the IPCC consensus.

    This would be helped out by an example of an “interaction”. I actually do not understand the sentence that precedes that quote.

    • I don’t want to cite specific examples of this to protect the guilty, I am thinking of a recent example where several colleagues suggested we not publish a paper since it would provide fodder for the AGW skeptics

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        I thought that might be your reply. I can’t disagree. However, you could add “for example, several colleagues recently suggested that we not publish a paper since it would provide fodder for the AGW skeptics.”

        I think that protects the guilty and innocent alike, clarifies the preceding (which I didn’t understand), and you already wrote it publicly.

      • I will probably remove this sentence from the paper, and somehow clarify the preceding sentence

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        That will work.

      • This is the worst kind of unsupported innuendo. As the saying goes, either put up or shut up.

        You ‘teach’ people here to question statements that are not supported by evidence yet you feel free to trot out this sort of crap.

        Why don’t you just rename the whole site WTFIUWT or Heartland II?

        Earlier I asked whether you genuinly believe that the NIPCC report was in any way in the same league as the reports published by the IPCC. I think I can guess your answer.

        If I were one of your students, I’d be demanding my college fees back.

        I shan’t be visiting here again.

      • Knee to spine to foot. My, what nerve that Louise has, but oh, how stricken!
        ========

      • AKA, Judy, when you’re over the target.
        =======

      • Adam Gallon

        “I shan’t be visiting here again.”

        Bye! Close the door quietly as you leave

    • Smear smear, smear smear, oh what a joy it is.

  53. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    Dr Curry: Curry (2011) argues for a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, explore and characterize uncertainty,

    should be

    Curry (2011) argues that …

    or some other rephrasing if you want to keep “argues for”.

  54. As a comment or two on the paper…

    It would be worthwhile to explicitly point out that Oreske urges consensus at the expense of ignoring uncertainty. When the amount of uncertainty is unknown, one can not assume that the distribution of outcomes is Bayesian. It might be Poissonian. Practically speaking, that makes the distribution’s tail more likely than is assumed.

    Let me suggest that you expand on the policy choices section well. You rightfully point out the approach minimizing failures; I hope you will also consider the approach of maximizing positive impacts. For example, modest tax incentives for improving efficiency in the US might well have more positive impacts than anything else we could do as a nation re trying to curb the growth of ghg’s (IMO). And yet this option is virtually ignored by the IPCC et al.

    I think this will be an excellent addition to the literature informing the public discourse.

  55. Matt wrote: “point out that there was a consensus among physicists about moving continents before the late 1960s: the consensus was that it could not possibly have occurred because there was no energy source sufficient to move the continents. That consensus was wrong. ”

    This is a terrific example of consensus thinking. An 8 year old child could look at the map of the world and see how nicely the continents fit together. Much easier to assume…. what? Some sort of crazy coincidence than simply to admit they might be wrong?

  56. Louise, in high dudgeon, writes: “Earlier I asked whether you genuinly believe that the NIPCC report was in any way in the same league as the reports published by the IPCC. I think I can guess your answer.”

    I don’t get why you’re so angry, Are you really still holding the IPCC up as representing some sort of high standard? if so, you’ve not been paying attention Louise. Nor do I see any sort of innuendo. I think Judith as quite clear.

    J.C. writes: “In summary, the manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science, elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus, and motivating actions by the consensus scientists and their supporters that have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC and the consensus building process.”

    • Latimer Alder

      @pokerguy

      No point. Louise left this blog, promising never to return, today at 2:09.

      No doubt she keeps her word.

    • Steve Milesworthy

      JC writes: “In summary, the manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science”

      Even if you accept this summary, you must also accept that the NIPCC report had the intended consequence of distorting the science. For example, removing error ranges from the Hockey Stick and expressing overly confident but imprecise statements about the temperature record.

      • “For example, removing error ranges from the Hockey Stick and expressing overly confident but imprecise statements about the temperature record.”

        I don’t remember what stated error bars were, since you making this point, what is the error range for hockey stick?
        And how many versions are these days, is spaghetti one still considered current, And how does have error range on such a chart?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Top google image search gives the version of the hockey stick with the uncertainty ranges in grey.

        http://www.global-warming-and-the-climate.com/images/Manns-hockey-stick.gif

        One of the criticisms of the Hockey Stick is that it under-estimated the uncertainties. One way of over-emphasising this criticism is to present the plot without *any* uncertainties at all.

      • However, there’s no uncertainties for the spliced ‘data from thermometers’ (red) in that graph. This is BEST:
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/best-upper/plot/best-lower/plot/best

        How do you splice uncertainties?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Edim,

        You are wrong! You really have to check these things if you are pretending to be knowledgeable when casting aspersions.

        Your incorrect challenge is a distraction from the relevant point that the NIPCC removed the uncertainty ranges from the original because it is an unscientific document.

        Let’s contrast with what a proper scientist does when writing a proper scientific document. Here’s the relevant part of the “Hockey Stick diagram” caption from the AR3 Summary for Policy Makers:

        (a) The Earth’s surface temperature is shown year by year (red bars) and approximately decade by decade (black line, a filtered annual curve suppressing fluctuations below near decadal
        time-scales). There are uncertainties in the annual data (thin black whisker bars represent the 95% confidence range) due to data gaps, random instrumental errors and uncertainties, uncertainties in bias corrections in the ocean surface temperature data and also in adjustments for urbanisation over the land.

        Go to the following and click on “The Scientific Basis” and then on “Summary for Policy Makers”.

        http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/

        The Muller range appears larger because it is clearly at a finer than annual resolution. If you annualised the data I expect it would be relatively consistent with the unresolveable error ranges of the Hockey Stick plot.

      • Steve,

        What am I wrong about? I said there are no uncertainties for the spliced thermometer data in the graph you posted. Then I posted the BEST plot with the uncertainties, just for comparison. That’s all. I am not claiming anything.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Edim,

        What am I wrong about? I said there are no uncertainties for the spliced thermometer data in the graph you posted.

        In the SPM you can see that the annualised uncertainty ranges of the expanded obs data are around 0.15C so they would not show up in the Hockey Stick diagram because of the compressed scale. In the caption, it additionally states:

        These [proxy-based] uncertainties increase in more distant times and are always much larger than in the instrumental record due to the use of relatively sparse proxy data.

        I don’t really think they could have been more clear.

        Note, calculating a 120 month mean of the 95% range values for daily or monthly data will not give you the 95% range of the 120 month temperature mean!

  57. It’s not unique to climate science that current research is reviewed in review articles or that monographs are written to present the current state of science more comprehensively. That kind of activities are usually not considered as bad for the development of science. it’s certainly common that they speed up finding errors in the papers these reviews discuss. Is the case of IPCC really different and if it is then why?

    On this site the general view is that IPCC is, indeed, different. Even people who are rather close to the main stream thinking have written along those lines (and that includes also myself). But how true is that actually? Do we have good evidence for that? Are the overstatements on the certainty of the severity of the problems really do to IPCC or would they be just as bad (or even worse) without?

    The problem that I have seen with IPCC is that it tells too openly what is the “right view on climate change”. Telling that openly may influence part of the scientists and make them conform to the perceived consensus, but is this true or just illusion?

    With IPCC or without the issue of climate change is highly politicized. The IPCC is a natural target for the opponents but that does not prove that the views of the opponents are correct. That an organization like IPCC might have negative influence on science makes sense, but does it really have that effect? Is there some real comparative evidence on that?

    • Pekka It think it’s pretty clear the IPCC is not even remotely objective in its approach. It is after all a politiical organization, with an inherent bias favoring increased politicization of the world. At heart it is a political advocacy organization masquerading as a scientific one, the nefarious yet still unpunished activities of a number of its leading lights clearly revealed in Climategate.

      So while its “reviews” may or may not be harming climate science itself, its skewed outlook is certainly threatening harm to the general public by urging unwarranted political action.

  58. “With IPCC or without the issue of climate change is highly politicized.”

    Yes Pekka, it is. And what would you expect when leading warmists who know damn well there are legitimate questions regarding their precious hypothesis, not only refuse to engage with those who would question them, they dismiss them as “deniers,” and “denialists”, and “idiots” (A. Lacis,) and “morons.” Do skeptics engage in such name calling, yes. I do it myself fro time to time. But the more important question is do leading skeptics do so? IN other words, is the blame for the current state of politicization o be shared equally.

    The answer insofar as I can determine is an emphatic “no.”

    • I might not agree who is most guilty or how the politicization got the form and extent it now has. I do, however, agree that scientists should present their views differently from what some of them do. If they take shortcuts to make their message stronger they face two issues:

      – They err sometimes in a way that at least looks bad.

      – They lose the status that a scientist might have – and they influence also the status of other scientists.

      It’s pretty obvious that both sides felt sincerely that they were mistreated by the other side already at rather early stages of the controversy. That led to a choice of operation that was perhaps not acceptable from the side of several skeptics but that was even less acceptable for scientists.

      The most important reason for the politicization is, however, perfectly legitimate. Deciding what is good climate policy is inherently very difficult and any difficult issue with potentially high stakes is rightfully politicized.

      • Joe's World

        Pekka,

        Where does influence fit in?
        There is bias and following bad parameters but the influence is off the individual person in a stream of followers…

  59. The norwegian philosopher Arne Næss, offered, in a little textbook upon the topic of logic, (the first meeting with this word forty years ago) an interpretation of the term consensus that was quite different from the way it is used by the IPCC. The term is originally connected to democratical processes. His description was something like “the agreement upon the legitimacy of not having to agree”.

    Quite another view.

    • Joe's World

      Certainly not the current consensus view.
      But they hold us to be in trust while they are allowed to do whatever they want.
      Anyone outside the consensus is scorned…even though their science is very sound!
      You have your own mind and opinion which can only be persuaded by your own interest…if scientists try influencing, then RED flags spring up that something is NOT quite right.

    • David Wojick

      In the UN system consensus means what no party vetos.

  60. Susan Ellis

    lolwot has highlighted the weakest comment in your paper:
    “Apart from the issue of the relative merits of the IPCC versus the NIPCC reports, the mere existence the NIPCC report and the list of 30,000 scientists disputing the findings of the IPCC raises the issue of whether a scientific consensus on climate change makes sense, given the disagreement, uncertainties and areas of ignorance.”
    His example on evolution highlights the weakness well. No serious biological scientist doubts that there is a consensus on evolution and generally analysis that avoids considering biological science from an evolutionary standpoint is substantially weaker for it.
    This number of dissenters is an even more fallacious example along the same tenor of what you say is wrong with the IPCC approach. What is the transparency of how these 30,000 are credentialed, vetted, and recruited? I heartily doubt that you have the time to check out the credentials of the 30,000 or know anything at all about more than a double-handful of them. Aside from the general issues on designed consensus, under your own approach, to give a weight to dissent would have to be based on the quality of it, rather than the numbers.

    • I have rewritten that part of the text:

      Consensus has both cognitive (evidenced based) and social dimensions (peer acceptance), including shared beliefs and uniform interpretations. Funtowicz and Ravetz (1990) propose a coding system for colleague consensus:

      __________________________________________________
      Code Peer acceptance Colleague consensus
      4 Total All but cranks
      3 High All but rebels
      2 Medium Competing schools
      1 Low Embryonic field
      0 None No opinion

      The idea of a scientific consensus surrounding climate change has been rejected by a number of people, including both scientists and politicians. Notably, the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has written a report entitled Climate Change Reconsidered [13], that relatives or contradicts the main conclusions of the IPCC; it has been argued that this report should be understood as a form of counter-expertise [14]. Much effort has been undertaken by those that support the IPCC consensus to discredit skeptical voices including the NIPCC, essentially dismissing them as cranks or at best rebels, or even politically motivated ‘deniers’ [15].

      Apart from the issue of the relative merits of the IPCC versus the NIPCC reports, the mere existence of the NIPCC report raises the issue of whether a scientific consensus on climate change makes sense, given the disagreement reflected by the NIPCC report and the uncertainties that are acknowledged by the IPCC. As students of science, we are taught to reject ad populam or ‘bandwagon’ appeals; this sentiment is articulated by the motto of the UK Royal Society: ‘nullius in verba’, which is roughly translated as ‘take nobody’s word for it’.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Since I commented above on the sentence about criticisms of the NIPCC, what is reference 15.

        I still don’t think it is justifiable to imply that criticisms of the NIPCC report are motivated by defence of the so-called IPCC consensus, when it is already agreed that there is no consensus on what consensus means.

        A reasonable motivation for a scientist objecting to the NIPCC report is that it distorts the science in the individual area where the scientist works or is knowledgeable.

        Scientists have criticised the IPCC report where they feel its processes have not properly reflected the science. They’ve done this both in a very public way (eg. the hurricanes issue) and they’ve done it in a more measured way eg. those that criticised the way that sea level rise projections were under-played by separating out the glacier dynamics element. So the criticism (for science reasons) can and does go both ways.

    • Susan, ” No serious biological scientist doubts that there is a consensus on evolution and generally analysis that avoids considering biological science from an evolutionary standpoint is substantially weaker for it.”

      A person can believe or not believe one particular theory and it not have any impact on their belief or lack of belief in another. People can be scientists without going out of their way to prove that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist to every 5 year old they happen to meet. It is even possible that someone can be a scientist without believing that government is the solution to all problems, that all skeptics are funded by big oil or tobacco, or that climate sensitivity is linear.

      Which is really more frightening, someone that believes in intelligent design or a benevolent, incorruptible one world government :)

      • tempterrain

        Captdallas,

        ” No serious biological scientist doubts that there is a consensus on evolution… ”

        Is this is true? The creationists have their own list of “thousands of scientists who think…….. etc etc” There is even this curious case of Dr. Marcus Ross, a fully qualified paleontologist with a PhD in the subject, but also a “young earth creationist” — who believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/science/12geologist.html?pagewanted=all

        Does Dr. Ross think there is a consensus?

      • Temp, “is this true..? Sure, there are people that believe in a benevolent, incorruptible one world government that still can do science :) And others that can rationalize a way to still have religious beliefs and do science. Remember the predominately religious courts dropped the scientific heretic thing or there would be no science.

        As for the world being only 10,000 years old, there is a issue with taking things too literally, like sensitivity range of 1.5 to 4.5, that basically assumes the world is about 10,000 years old :)

    • The Trouble With Lolwot:

      Here’s an improvement.
      While it’s arguable that nobody who is serious doubts evolution occurs, what IS up for question are claims which claim to offer an example of it without sufficient evidence.

      That situation is much more alike to the climate debate.

      See the Italian Wall Lizard amazingest fastest EVAH ! evolution
      It may not involve genetic change. “Not evolution at all”, is another reasonable scientific position

      To claim certainty of either is incorrect without documentation of genetic change.
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417112433.htm

      4 years after announcing it, still nothing showing up with decent evidence

  61. Curry (2011) argues for a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, explore and characterize uncertainty, reason about uncertainty in the context of evidence-based logical hierarchies, and eliminate bias from the consensus building process itself.

    or

    Curry (2011) argues for a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, explore and characterize uncertainty, reason about uncertainty in the context of evidence-based logical hierarchies, and eliminate bias from the consensus building process itself.

  62. Curry (2011) argues for a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, explore and characterize uncertainty, reason about uncertainty in the context of evidence-based logical hierarchies, and eliminate bias from the consensus building process itself.

    Okay – I could not get strikethrough to work.
    But I suggest eithyer the word “for” or the words “Is needed” should be removed.

  63. Ways Forward:

    Those of you who follow the Evidence Based Medicine movement will know what the Cochrane Reviews are. The Cochrane Collaboration describes themselves this way:

    [[ http://www.cochrane.org/cochrane-reviews/ ]]

    “Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting. They are published online in The Cochrane Library.

    Each systematic review addresses a clearly formulated question; for example: Can antibiotics help in alleviating the symptoms of a sore throat? All the existing primary research on a topic that meets certain criteria is searched for and collated, and then assessed using stringent guidelines, to establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence about a specific treatment. The reviews are updated regularly, ensuring that treatment decisions can be based on the most up-to-date and reliable evidence.”

    These reviews allow doctors to simply look up an issue — like ‘ginseng to improve cognitive performance’ and find out, after all the dueling reports and claims on the TV news and in the popular press, if there is any REAL evidence of effectiveness [[ read the resulting abstract at: ttp://summaries.cochrane.org/CD007769/no-convincing-evidence-of-a-cognitive-enhancing-effect-of-panax-ginseng. ]]

    I would suggest that one possible way forward is to establish an independent, cross-discipline CliSci version of the Cochrane Collaboration, which would perform Cochrane-style reviews on specific subjects, giving us a clear understanding of ‘what we know’, ‘what we don’t yet know’, and what areas offer justification for further investigation. This is a much better system than see-sawing dueling papers that never resolve scientific issues in any common-sense manner.

    I know, the IPCC was supposed to do something like this, but has failed, for all the reasons already well known.

    • well, realistically the Cochrane collaboration is a political machine not much better than the IPCC for attracting funding to look at other people’s research. Nothing much new or innovative ever comes out of a Cochrane review, excepting that there aren’t enough randomised controlled trials. The cochrane approach to EBM won’t result in major advances in knowledge and is more likely to suck resources away from proper primary research.

      and should anyone dare to say too many randomised controlled trials are a waste of economic scarce resources….denier!

      • bloius79 — Perhaps you misunderstand…the Cochrane Reviews (and the process) is not intended to produce anything ‘new or innovative’ and is not intended to ‘result in major advances in knowledge’ — it is meant to review what has been reliably learned about various treatments and other medical topics — it answers the question “What is our current state of knowledge about topic x”.

        I can’t say I agree at all with your statement “and is more likely to suck resources away from proper primary research.”. These reviews are not horrifically time consuming nor do they consume primary research resources. The are review studies. They look carefully at studies already done, evaluate which are more likely to have reliable results, and attempt to pool the results into a dependable statement of our knowledge on the treatment. In addition, they point up which treatments have probably been shown simply not to be effective and which would probably be a waste of time to investigate further and differentiate which treatments seem to have at least supporting evidence or for which the science shows some biological plausibility and recommend further research is needed or might produce results.

        This process can save research dollars by making it unnecessary to spend research time and money on something that has already been well proved effective or on something that has been sufficiently thoroughly studied to be able to say “this is not effective and further study is unlikely to change this evidence”.

        Health care dollars are saved by allowing practicing medicos to avoid worthless, unproven treatments. Don’t you wish your doctor recommended only treatments that were verifiably known to actually work?

        For CliSci, independent review by a panel of cross-discipline experts would allow them to weed out the weak and methodologically poor studies, pool results of strong disciplined studies, and make determinations of what bits are truly reliably ‘settled’ and what needs more research.

      • Kip Hansen

        You conclude:

        For CliSci, independent review by a panel of cross-discipline experts would allow them to weed out the weak and methodologically poor studies, pool results of strong disciplined studies, and make determinations of what bits are truly reliably ‘settled’ and what needs more research.

        An ” independent review by a panel of cross-discipline experts”, as you suggest makes sense in order to circumvent the “consensus process” and the politically-motivated agenda-driven “science”, which it promulgates.

        But I believe we have gone too far with IPCC for this alone to be an effective solution.

        I believe IPCC as it is now structured must be eliminated and replaced by this independent “panel of cross-discipline experts “, which you propose.

        Max

      • IPCC is supposed to be such a panel. It has some government overview, but that’s supposed to influence directly only the SPM.

        IPCC is not perfect as an independent panel, but what is the better way of creating such a independent panel. Who sets it up, who gives it guidelines – What makes it both exist and independent?

      • Max, according to Paltridge, there is too much weight (people, funding, papers, bodies, politicians, journalists, environmentalists, economists, etc) behind the current warming consensus for change to come from within. I think it will take a scientifc revolution which starts with the basic science of the IR absorbing/emitting gases to overturn the ‘load-of-nosense” theory named but not yet ascribed to by Paltridge.

      • Max — Yes, I agree, the IPCC is broken — possibly manufactured broken from the first.

        How to put together a new independent body is of course a difficult undertaking — but if medicine can make a stab at it, so can CliSci.

        What we have now are dueling factions publishing contradictory papers, each claiming that the papers of the other side (well, some topics have more than two sides) are weak, poorly done, use inappropriate statistical methods, on and on. What to accept as our current state of knowledge becomes truly a matter of opinion. No one ever retracts a paper, no matter how many times it is shown to have been in error. No papers are ever rewritten with major corrections. Like doctors, we are left to try and figure out which of the ‘sixteen most recent papers’ on radiative transfer rates may be the most correct.

        The IPCC apparently decides in advance by committee of pals what the correct answers are, then sifts the literature until it finds some papers to cite in support of it. That’s no way to run whole field of science.

        I am not a professional scientist, not a professional climatologist: my field is religion and ethics. I have put together committees, with some success, to straighten out organizations rife with corruption. It is possible. While the climate system itself might be a wicked problem, or even a wicked mess, CliSci is just screwed up and can be fixed.

      • “What makes it both exist and independent?” – PP

        Being the cynical old bastard that I am, I suspect they will find it “independent” when it produces results they agree with.

      • “The IPCC apparently decides in advance by committee of pals what the correct answers are, then sifts the literature until it finds some papers to cite in support of it” – Kip

        This sort of conspiratorial thinking doesn’t do much to instill confidence in the author.

        On the issue of a Cochrane style approach (which I agree with) I don’t think they’d come up with anything radically different from the IPCC conclusions. Though it might do the skeptics a world of good to read the summary of the studies that claim all observed warming is ‘natural’, which would go something like this; ‘a small number of studies of poor quality….’.

    • Michael — I hope this appears succeeding yours, but I’m never sure how this nesting works here. My flip comment on the IPCC “apparently decides in advance by committee of pals” is not really suggesting conspiracy by rather refers to their necessity of maintaining the consensus position that they have already taken, the control of each chapter by a small cadre of co-authors and their obvious attempts and success of ‘keeping out’ dissenting views or findings. None of these views is particularly controversial — they just are what they are, and are part and parcel of the problems with the IPCC.

      • The summary by about a dozen, and your cadres total only around fifty. Not much need to breathe together in such a crowded room.
        =====================

  64. Well, I’m nobody. I’ve been larking around this site for a couple of months now. I have to say this site has reached new low though I admit i know alomost nothing about this warming stuff. My point is that if this site was by nobody like me in blogsphere I’d understand but … by a scientist, climate scientist?

    My personal feeling is I have no idea that what you guys/sceptics are talking about or a reason of this site. There is absolutly no consensus among sceptics here. It’s all oever the place and it’s always the same no matter what subject matter is. Only consensus is “AGW is a hoax.”, not even it’s CAGW because some don’t believe AGW. It seems everything goes as long as one says “AGW is a hoax.”. There is no direction or modelation by anybody. I mean it in scientific terms. It’s like kids playing in a sandbox.
    I don’t know science but I thought that don’t you have to build, progress upon premises or facts or data or hypothese you agree on? There is abusolutely no progress in discussion and nobody cares.
    There are still somebody who don’t believe in the science of greenhouse gas effect. Why the heck ghost of SkyDragon is still here? I’d understand it if this site was run by nobody like me as I said before but …
    WTF?

    Don’t you have to separate science and politics or philosophy or ideology when you discuss science? And why nobody challenge anybody’s basic science as long as he says “AGW is a hoax”? Where is your peer review on basic science ?
    What I mean is that peer review goes both ways? SkyDragon should be a proper counter argument to AGW? You were talking about grey materials before in different thread but you’ve never cared about grey arguments as long as he says “AGW is a hoax”. And you guys go off to politics or ideology/libertalianism or philosophy when your scientific discussion goes a little fuzy. WTF?
    Don’t you have to have sciece discussion without politics before you have a political and economic discussion?

    I have a suggestion for your next subject for your discussion.
    No consensus on consensus?
    Half of the US population don’t believe in Evolution and belive in inteligent design. Half of the US regislatures don’t believe in Evolution and believe in Inteligent design. No consensus on consensus?
    There are so many natural things we still can’t explain, uncertaintity. It seems there still so many miracles happening scientists can’t explain around the world, another uncertaintity. 15% of scientists in our highest scientific instition still beleive in God. So the question is do we let politics decide if we teach Inteligent design in biology class? Because there are so many uncertaintities and there is no consensu on consensus?
    (I know it’s not the same, apples & oranges.) Sorry to bother you, bye.

    • “I don’t know science but I thought that don’t you have to build, progress upon premises or facts or data or hypothese you agree on? There is abusolutely no progress in discussion and nobody cares.
      There are still somebody who don’t believe in the science of greenhouse gas effect. Why the heck ghost of SkyDragon is still here? I’d understand it if this site was run by nobody like me as I said before but …
      WTF?”

      There seems to me to be progress or movement. But it seems you want some clue as to what people can agree on. And science generally focuses on disagreement. Though science is advanced by observation and tests, so this about science rather than being science.
      But I think it might interesting to find out what people agree about.

      It seems everyone can agree that we are currently in long period of warming- this is called the interglacial period. Going further back in time
      to last tens of million of years, we are in cool period, or broadly we are in an Ice Age. This Ice Age can characterized as growth of glaciers and recession of glaciers and polar caps. Or having polar caps equals Ice Age.
      The oldest ice found at Antarctic is about 2 million years old- so have not completely left the Ice Age even briefly for couple million years. But there lots of periods called interglacial periods [or period in between glacial periods] which glaciers have retreated significantly.

      Much concern about global warming is a sudden [meaning less than century] melting of glacier and polar ice caps. Or rapid rise in sea level.

      Another concern is about changing conditions related to warming causing what are called extreme weather events.

      • Steven Mosher

        It’s a really bad chingrish or singrish effort.

        You have to look for the mixture of native english competence
        ( getting idiomatic expressions right ) and see that in contrast to the
        faked incomptence. In short, a person who makes mistake X, would
        never get idioms right. First you have to figure out what they are trying to fake. You can get a sense by looking at the spelling mistakes.

        Unusual or uncommon spelling mistakes.

        Spelling mistakes one usually sees come down to two varieties: keyboard mistakes and phonetic spellings or things like letters transposed or left out. When people try to fake spelling mistakes it’s pretty simple to spot. Note the attempts to fake asian r and l problems.
        That is, they are making the spelling mistakes that they think an asian person would make by subsitution “r” for “l” and “l” for “r”. However, they are inconsistent in this when they wrote the second post and forgot how they misspelled libertarianism. Anyway, here are the odd mispellings from the first post. basically a mishmash of spelling mistakes no one makes along with a few that look like bad attempts at chingrish.

        larking
        alomost
        oever
        modelation
        abusolutely
        libertalianism
        regislatures
        grooms

        ##
        uncommon grammatical errors: leaving out articles and screwing
        up prepositions. This is something non native speakers
        do. When you see these mistakes you are usually dealing with a non native speaker or somebody faking non native

        “by nobody like me in blogsphere”
        “about or a reason of this site”
        “what subject matter”
        “And why nobody challenge”

        The problem is that if somebodies english is this bad that they get prepositions wrong and leave articles out, the problem is pervasive. Its not spotty like in this text. The other thing is that if they make these kind of mistakes they dont have a grasp of idiomatic english. In short, they dont make enough of these types of errors and they make the wrong ones for a faked asian

        Later in the second post they introduce a new error. One in tense.

        “I didn’t meant to”

        Thats funny. a better fake would be “I didn’t meaned to”

        But they know the tense they are in as they continue

        “I didn’t meant to, but I guess I’ve offended many.
        I’m uneducated nobody. I’ve never practiced or
        learned any formal writting or making an argument formats.
        It was a spare of moment thing. ”

        Typically tense errors would be getting the irregular form wrong. But getting the form correct and then mixing tenses in sentences is something a faker tries.

        And again with the uncommon spelling mistake. “spare” of the moment
        isnt a mistyped word. It isnt a misheard word and it isnt a phonetic
        misspelling. It’s a fake mispelling.

        And now they introduce some plurization errors another tense error, but they get those
        wrong as well.

        ” I was kind of expected that kind of technical, scientific talks more,
        but of course without politics and ideology talks.”

        In their attempts to sound asian ( replacing
        “l” for “r” in libertarianism.. they forget that asian speakers
        DROP the plural indications: An asian might write
        “ten job” because in asian languages the plural indication given by
        “ten” and doesnt have to be duplicated on the noun. In english we signal the pural with “ten” and with a marker on the noun.

        And then they forget to fake the asian phoentic spelling the second time they use the word.

        “Libetarianism ”

        and then they switch back

        “Libertalians”

        Against these examples of incompetence you have the following

        Sentences that show good competence

        “All I was looking for was some intellectual consistency.
        They may disagree on some details but then again they’d know
        what they disagree on or agree on among themselves.”

        And Sentences that show an understanding of idiomatic English

        “I wasn’t expecting Dr. Curry to police her blog but I
        thought many who post here would know what’s scientifically wrong.”

        “It’s like kids playing in a sandbox.”

        So willard its not that hard to spot somebody who is trying to fake writing singrish or chingrish. 30 years working with the far east bro.
        now, back in the day, I used to do a pretty good fake. takes practice.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        The trick isn’t spotting a fake. It’s figuring out why it was faked. I’ve noticed two major categories for fakes like this. The first is to just hide the author’s identity so people can’t recognize his writing style. The second is to basically create a strawman. Put a stupid sounding comment up that advances one position and hope people will associate the position with the stupidity.

      • We can thank Moshpit’s inquisitiveness, even if we could still wonder how this amounts to a proof, what exactly does he have to lose if to refute his claim CRV9 would have to out himself, and how impressive his curriculum vitae sounds if we could collate all the breadcrumbs he left over the years appealing to his own authority over the Internetz, and especially here, whence in another part of the thread we were talking about this kind of claim.

        In exchange for this worthwhile effort, we can prove that Mosphit’s first response to CRV9 was a fake. To that effect, we’ll see it play by play.

        ***

        Here’s the attack:

        > I understand your frustration.

        Moshpit understands. We know that because he tells us. Moshpit simply gets CRV9.

        > You think or hope that because people are talking that something must be happening or should be happening. Like some people should be having their minds changed. You see no progress in the discussion.

        This probes for an intent that would need to be found in CRV9’s own words. Moshpit does not need to quote. When you get people, you don’t need quotes.

        > No conclusion and no agenda.

        By this innocuous sentence, we surmise that Moshpit injects into CRV9’s rant the memo readers should get: to satisfy CRV9’s complaint, Judy should have to have an agenda. An assertion that can’t be justified by reading CRV9’s rant. An assertion void of quote, and contrary to the spirit of CRV9’s rant. An assertion to dogwhistle that Judy has no agenda.

        > And it bothers you even more because Judy, a scientist, is hosting this discussion. And perhaps you expect her to lay down some law or declare some winners.

        Yes, perhaps. Perhaps CRV9 believes that God exists. Counterfactuals like these are quite useful when the point is to frame minds instead of talking with someone. (Not that they can’t.)

        > That is one view of what a conversation should look like. It’s a instrumentalist view or utilitarian view of what language and dialogue and discussions are supposed to do. They are suppose to bring us somewhere. Settle something. Make a difference.

        There is no such entailment between the idea that people talk to get things done and instrumentalism and utilitarism. Also, instrumentalism is a word that belongs to philosophy of science and utilitarism belongs to ethics. So an instrumentalist or an utilitarian conception of language is at best a metaphor, and the cunjunct quite abstruse.

        In fact, surfing around suffices to make us see that the expression “utilitarianist conception of language” is often used as a slur against philosophers of language one does not appreciate. It targets pragmatism, a concept that honest brokers kinda find sexy.

        But more importantly, these isms are there only to dismiss away CRV9’s complaint that the free-for-all discussions at Judy’s should be moderated in a way readers could feel it’s being administered by a scientific authority. There is certainly no need to entertain an utilitarianist conception of language to wonder about that, more so when we see at the end of this very post that **this is a technical thread**.

        And then after this caricature, we have the fall, a simple proof by assertion:

        > Happily, that’s not the case.

        To what that **that** refers is left as an exercise to the readers.

        In any case, we see that, according to Moshpit, CRV9 does not get Judy.

        ***

        We thus conclude that Moshpit’s comment was, in its own way, a fake.

    • Steven Mosher

      CRV9.

      I understand your frustration. You think or hope that because people are talking that something must be happening or should be happening. Like some people should be having their minds changed. You see no progress in the discussion. No conclusion and no agenda. And it bothers you even more because Judy, a scientist, is hosting this discussion. And perhaps you expect her to lay down some law or declare some winners.
      That is one view of what a conversation should look like. It’s a instrumentalist view or utilitarian view of what language and dialogue and discussions are supposed to do. They are suppose to bring us somewhere. Settle something. Make a difference. Happily, that’s not the case.

      • Blogs are a mirror image of the broader public debate. They certainly can at times direct the debate. Climategate in particular led to much greater confidence among conservatives in attacking the malfeasance of climate “scientists.”

        And the larger debate has been did bring us somewhere. Back from the edge of the abyss we approached at Copenhagen. If the next U.S. election proceeds as it looks like it will, we will recede even farther from the decarbonization cliff.

        This blog, WUWT, Climate Audit, and others all have influence, regardless of whether the general public sees them or even hears about them. Just as Joe Romm had outsized influence among progressive policy makers, skeptic blogs have the same impact among conservative policy makers.

        If this weren’t the case, you wouldn’t have so many progressive bloggers attacking the skeptics/lukewarmers.

        “There is abusolutely no progress in discussion and nobody cares.”

        There has in fact been great progress in the climate “discussion.” Just not in the direction many of you would like.

    • CRV9:

      I think you might be having us on—or being disingenuous maybe??

      Apart from your purported anguish that no conclusion is arrived at here, you seem to be saying that if commenters here point out that the IPCC consensus is one that’s manufactured by certain scientists and activists for the purposes of presenting that consensus as the last word on AGW to governments—-to be the unquestioned premise for government policy-making—-that if they point that out and there’s much agreement here on it, then that means this blog is virtually making it compulsory here to say that ‘AGW is a hoax’.

      If you really have spent some time here , you would know that’s not true—that it’s not here that anything is made compulsory , or made to fit a consensus.

      That MO is for the blogs of the scientists right at the centre of the CAGW consensus and their trusty followers—the blogs where commenters who ask very respectful, but important questions are derided, demonised, smeared and labelled as shills of this and that and flat-earthers—–that’s if their comments are ever posted at all.

      It’s the CAGW true believers, not the sceptics, who demand acquiescence and adherence to the ‘correct’ views—not here.

      On those consensus blogs , it’s compulsory for commenters, if they want to be posted and have any hearing at all, to at least pretend to believe that CAGW is a bullet-proof concept—-the unassailable premise on which the whole world must be rejigged.

      In my country, Australia, this ‘consensus’ that apparently was arrived at even while the most important elements of the earth’s climate system were and are little known, partly known or unknown—–threatens to destroy our country’s future—and has made it virtually compulsory for any politician aspiring to high office or government, to present himself as a true believer in the consensus—- or be destroyed politically.

      The CAGW true believers are in government, and almost 100% of the media are in the tank with them , so the other major party is watched by the media with predatory focus—waiting to swoop on, en masse, and politically assassinate, any person in the Opposition party who shows the slightest sign of wavering from the ‘correct’ premise.

      The result of this is that the true believers, with the enthusiastic help of the Leftist media, have forced on Australia, with no mandate from an election, a 23% across-the- economy carbon tax, specifically designed to end our coal-fired power generation industry, and eventually to end our coal and minerals export industries.

      These are our largest export-earners, so this tax, born of the CAGW ‘consensus’ , will inflict enormous harm on our economy, and on our future.

      We have almost no hydro [ the CAGW true believers having long ago dispatched that in favour of trees] , and no nuclear power—so we are going to have to get our base load power from unreliable , inefficient wind turbines and hugely expensive and intermittent concentrated solar.

      The CAGW true believers’ compulsory ‘consensus’ will, unless the realist alternative government can save us in time, turn Australia from the country that has the world’s best-performing economy despite the financial crisis —-into a pre-industrial economic backwater.

      S you should direct your question on distancing science from politics and ideology squarely at the CAGW scientists and their followers—where it belongs.

      CRV9:

      I think you might be having us on—or being disingenuous maybe??

      Apart from your purported anguish that no conclusion is arrived at here, you seem to be saying that if commenters here point out that the IPCC consensus is one that’s manufactured by certain scientists and activists for the purposes of presenting that consensus as the last word on AGW to governments—-to be the unquestioned premise for government policy-making—-that if they point that out and there’s much agreement here on it, then that means this blog is virtually making it compulsory here to say that ‘AGW is a hoax’.

      If you really have spent some time here , you would know that’s not true—that it’s not here that anything is made compulsory , or made to fit a consensus.

      That MO is for the blogs of the scientists right at the centre of the CAGW consensus and their trusty followers—the blogs where commenters who ask very respectful, but important questions are derided, demonised, smeared and labelled as shills of this and that and flat-earthers—–that’s if their comments are ever posted at all.

      It’s the CAGW true believers, not the sceptics, who demand acquiescence and adherence to the ‘correct’ views—not here.

      On those consensus blogs , it’s compulsory for commenters, if they want to be posted and have any hearing at all, to at least pretend to believe that CAGW is a bullet-proof concept—-the unassailable premise on which the whole world must be rejigged.

      In my country, Australia, this ‘consensus’ that apparently was arrived at even while the most important elements of the earth’s climate system were and are little known, partly known or unknown—–threatens to destroy our country’s future—and has made it virtually compulsory for any politician aspiring to high office or government, to present himself as a true believer in the consensus—- or be destroyed politically.

      The CAGW true believers are in government, and almost 100% of the media are in the tank with them , so the other major party is watched by the media with predatory focus—waiting to swoop on, en masse, and politically assassinate, any person in the Opposition party who shows the slightest sign of wavering from the ‘correct’ premise.

      The result of this is that the true believers, with the enthusiastic help of the Leftist media, have forced on Australia, with no mandate from an election, a 23% across-the- economy carbon tax, specifically designed to end our coal-fired power generation industry, and eventually to end our coal and minerals export industries.

      These are our largest export-earners, so this tax, born of the CAGW ‘consensus’ , will inflict enormous harm on our economy, and on our future.

      We have almost no hydro [ the CAGW true believers having long ago dispatched that in favour of trees] , and no nuclear power—so we are going to have to get our base load power from unreliable , inefficient wind turbines and hugely expensive and intermittent concentrated solar.

      The CAGW true believers’ compulsory ‘consensus’ will, unless the realist alternative government can save us in time, turn Australia from the country that has the world’s best-performing economy despite the financial crisis —-into a pre-industrial economic backwater.

      S you should direct your question on distancing science from politics and ideology squarely at the CAGW scientists and their followers—where it belongs.

      • My apologies for the multiple posting of the same comment. I don’t know why it’s happening, or I would rectify. Sorry.

      • Worth reading twice, so thanks, blind machine.
        ==============

      • Steven Mosher

        CRV9 is a really bad fake. It doesnt take much training to spot it. meh.
        One thing you learn in linguistics and when you teach composition is to spot the patterns in performance errors. CRV9 is faked. uttterly inconsistent errors and at the same time knows the difference between your and you’re. haha. I was surprised that willard was taken in by it.

      • Your comment to him might sound more fake than CRV9’s comment, Moshpit.

        Data and programs to back up your claim, pretty please with some sugar on it.

      • Steven Mosher

        Sorry willard, if you read moshpit carefully you will see I have pretty consistent standard with regard to supplying data and code.

        1. When piece of science is published, I am under no rational obligation to believe in it when the data and code/method that was claimed to be used is not made available.

        2. If somebody doesnt provide this, I am free of course to believe, but I’m not rationally bound to prove them wrong if they dont supply the data they claimed to use and the code they claimed to use. data as used, code as run.
        3. Exceptions for IP may exist and public interest may trump these rights.
        But you need to see the IP policy and look at the public interest.

        So, the data is the words he wrote. You have those. The method is reading. you know how to do that. If that is not enough for you, then of course you are under no rational obligation to believe what I wrote or prove me wrong. Other folks will of course have a look at it and come to their own conclusion. That’s the beauty of it. And they will say “I see what Moshpit sees” or not. cause its all right there. you have the exact same data ( its right there) and the exact same tool ( that thing between your ears ). So, now can you help me get data for forest 2006? or get data from Spencer? The difference is pretty clear willard.. err I actually ask for data and code that was used in a publication and I actually use it to do more publishing. It’s a neverending thing you know. more data, more code. more fun. hopefully a few more papers, we will see.

      • It was a metaphor, Moshpit. I was asking for your evidence and your overall argument in whatever form they took. You kindly provided these elsewhere in this thread:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/07/13/no-consensus-on-consensus-part-ii/#comment-219598

        The comment where you provided the evidence and the argument is timestamped “July 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm”.

        My question was first utilized as a springboard for your “Free the Code, Free the Data, Free Open the debate” on July 15, 2012 at 8:35 pm.

        Perhaps it took 20 hours to get my question?

      • I have pretty consistent standard… When piece of science is published

        doesnt… dont… That’s

        Utterly inconsistent errors and yet knows the difference between “claimed to be used” and “claimed to use.”

        OMG MOSHPIT IS A FAKE

    • There is absolutly no consensus among sceptics here.

      That’s a feature, not a bug.

    • This comment shows how indoctrinated the public is about science in general. When the public finally sees how pseudoscientific the AGW hypothesis is, it will be a blessing for all science, because it will open the eyes. When the AGW boat sinks, other boats will shake too and science will progress.

    • I didn’t meant to, but I guess I’ve offended many. I’m uneducated nobody. I’ve never practiced or learned any formal writting or making an argument formats. It was a spare of moment thing. Frustrated.
      What I expected was some good news. i don’t like dooms and grooms of AGW. So I thought here the blog hosted by a climate scientist would have provide me some positive new insights, scientific that is. And I thought people who post here would be scientifically savy too since this is hosted by a scientist. I visited once before on the SkyDragon debate. I enjoyed it very much though I didn’t understand the half of them. I was kind of expected that kind of technical, scientific talks more, but of course without politics and ideology talks.

      To be honest, I don’t understand the half of what you’re saying since I don’t understand the half of big words you guys are using. Just reading through spins my head.
      However it seems it always ends up in arguing over ideology and politics every time. It seems there is no consensuse on scientific facts or data or observations among you. All I was looking for was some intellectual consistency. When I visit some established scientific institions’ web sites or RealClimate or SkepticScience, their basic scientific rational or explaination are consitent. They may disagree on some details but then again they’d know what they disagree on or agree on among themselves. Sadly, I can’t say that here. That doesn’t mean I believe scientist 100 %. Maybe 80%. I had issues with doctors once before.

      All I was saying was you should have a self (your)peer review process here among yourselves. You were saying IPCC’s use of grey materials are serious problems then you should think that grey scientific arguments are more serious problems. I wasn’t expecting Dr. Curry to police her blog but I thought many who post here would know what’s scientifically wrong.
      Please don’t say it’s a censorship. I’m not talking about opinions here. I’m talking about basic science. Isn’t that what peer review is all about? Peer reviewed to see if it’s scientifically valid? I don’t know I’m not smart enough to know that though.
      I was just disappointed. That’s all.

      By the way, what I think about Libetarianism is this.
      I like it very much because I like liberty and liberty of speech. However, it sounds too good to be true.
      It sounds as naive as comminism was.
      It sounds as impractical as communism was.
      They both rely on, communism on human goodness and honesty, libertalian on humanity.
      What is the difference between rule of law and regulations?
      Not everybody can become 1-2%ters. The whole pie is limited. You’re not playing against the house. It’s like stock markets. You get money from someone else.
      Communism want to divide it so they force everyone to have just enough or what to have. Libertalians think the pie is unlimited. It is a typical sales pitch for ponzi schem.

      • Steven Mosher

        the aw shucks act doesnt work. your attempt to imitate the style of someone uneducated is belied by some of your grammatical constructions.

        the giveaway ( other than the inconsistency of your attempt to mimick an illiterate ) was your reference to sks and real climate. Those discussions always end in the same way as well.. some political rant, some nonsense about renewables etc.

        I spent to many years reading freshman writing. Nice try, it’s really hard to fake ignorant. It would hep if you checked your last attempt and at least tried to make the same performance errors.

      • Thank you, Steven. You made my day.
        English is my learned language. I’ve tried several EASL schools but I’m proud to say I’ve never finished any of them. I finished my highschool more than four decades ago. I still have a heavy accent in my speech which nobody could understand. The phrase I hate most is “Who?”. I got a job as skilled labor where I didn’t have to write but got laied off recently, hence too much time at the internet. I wasn’t really able to write before though I’ve always liked to read. I’ve started to practice writting 3-4 years ago. Internet helps me a lot when I write, much easier than looking up a dictionary.
        Funny thing is I don’t care about grammar when I write or speak my native language. It just comes out naturally. Other funny thing is that I can’t calculate in english. I better be off now when I feel happy. Bye.

  65. Pekka wrote: “The most important reason for the politicization is, however, perfectly legitimate. Deciding what is good climate policy is inherently very difficult and any difficult issue with potentially high stakes is rightfully politicized.”

    Ah but Pekka, you’ve skipped a major step here, which is to ascertain whether any “climate policy” is even needed. I can only speak for myself of course, but were I somehow to become convinced that the planet was genuinely imperiled, and were I further convinced that certain steps had to be taken to mitigate this danger, I’d put my politics aside.

    You do what many warmists do, Pekka, which is to assume facts that are not yet in evidence.

    • I didn’t skip or forget it, but for brevity I used one word for that: “potentially”. It’s pointless to try include everything in every message.

      • Joe's World

        Bravo!!!
        It is the same as using if or uncertainty…
        But who would like to be absolutely certain when the funding DOES NOT show this in favor?

  66. Garth Paltridge in his book ‘The Climate Caper’ describes frst hand from contemporaneous experience how the IPCC started off building consensus by assumption, deriling anybody who dared to disagree. He also explains why the scientific sociopoloitcal machine is nearly unstoppable. After reading it, much of the climate science blog banter/argument is just deja vu – impossible for anyone to win.

    (Judy if you haven’t read it, it doesnt take too long at 111 pages.)

    The only realistic way i see it can change is for skeptical scientists with litte external funding to conduct proper science exploring what Paltridge called the ‘load-of-nonsense’ theory. (i posted my ideas on the “just the facts” thread.)

    • simon abingdon

      “deriling” Thankyou blouis79! That’s a delightful new coinage. Obvious what it means (derile v. to wrongfoot, ridicule, disdain). I shall use it and continue to use it whenever I have a chance.

    • “derile”

      But what’s the etymology? Combination of “deride” and “derail” ?

  67. Don’t care much for “relatives” as a verb.

  68. Judith,

    One aspect of the “consensus” as promulgated by the IPCC that you might want to consider is that there is some indication that even the “insiders” differ on their interpretation of the word.

    Yet, for the most part, they remain deafeningly silent when it is taken up and – in effect – used as a cudgel by the media and by activist organizations whose pronouncements are far more likely to reach the public than any of the science upon which this “consensus” is supposedly based.

    For example, as I had observed in June 2010, Mike Hulme wrote (my bold -hro):

    “Claims such as ’2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous.

    “That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.”

    Approximately a year later, as I had documented in (what has become a “dangling”) Conversation with an IPCC coordinating lead author, I was advised that (again, my bold -hro]:

    it is this line-by-line approval process [of the SPM] that results in the actual consensus that the IPCC is famous for, and which is sometimes misunderstood. The consensus is not a consensus among all authors about every issue assessed in the report; it is a consensus among governments about the summary for policymakers.

    Yet, as I had noted in that same post, to the best of my knowledge neither of these IPCC “insiders” (or any others, for that matter!) has taken the step of correcting the very public pronouncements of (for example and again, my bold):

    Oreskes (in Science, Dec. 2004):

    “The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). […] IPCC states unequivocally that the consensus of scientific opinion […]”

    Greenpeace (July 20, 2010):

    Scientific consensus

    There is, in fact, a broad and overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, is caused in large part by human activities (such as burning fossil fuels), and if left unchecked will likely have disastrous consequences.

    Union of Concerned Scientists (March 7, 2011):

    Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

    Scientific societies and scientists have released statements and studies showing the growing consensus on climate change science. A common objection to taking action to reduce our heat-trapping emissions has been uncertainty within the scientific community on whether or not global warming is happening and if it is caused by humans. However, here is now an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is indeed happening and humans are contributing to it.

    And, as recently as a few days ago, Adam Corner had concluded an essay by noting:

    Communicating climate change: where next?

    Without a focus on better com­mu­nic­a­tion, the danger is that the gap between the sci­entific and the social con­sensus on cli­mate change will con­tinue to grow.

    In your post, (which I very much liked, btw!) you have asked for suggestions regarding the “way forward”.

    This may seem somewhat “radical” from a conservative “diagnostician” such as I; but, IMHO, perhaps a good first step would be to excise this foggy, mythical, shape-shifting “consensus” from the ongoing debate.

    IOW, I wholeheartedly endorse your conclusion that:

    It is time to abandon the concept of consensus in favor of open debate […]

    Hilary [stepping down from “anti-consensus” soapbox ;-)]

    • Ooops … sorry seem to have omitted some blockquotes. Above should read:

      it is this line-by-line approval process [of the SPM] that results in the actual consensus that the IPCC is famous for, and which is sometimes misunderstood. The consensus is not a consensus among all authors about every issue assessed in the report; it is a consensus among governments about the summary for policymakers.

  69. Judith Curry

    It appears to me that you have captured and described the essence of the problems inherent with “consensus” in science and with the IPCC’s political consensus process.

    As you point out, the logical progression: “consensus => harmony => acceptance => compromise” is alien to science itself, which is based on the progression: “skepticism => controversy => dissention => challenge”

    The IPCC “consensus process” is a political, rather than a scientific, process, i.e. it dictates political consensus rather than scientific inquiry.

    As you have written, it results in group-think and confirmation bias,.

    As was demonstrated by Climategate, etc., it resulted in the exclusion and marginalization of dissenting scientific findings and viewpoints and fudging the data to make them fit the consensus.

    It even failed to achieve a political action plan (at Copenhagen, Cancun, etc.) and it resulted in a basic mistrust in the overall public of IPCC and climate science in general.

    You summarized this with:

    In summary, the manufactured consensus of the IPCC has had the unintended consequences of distorting the science, elevating the voices of scientists that dispute the consensus, and motivating actions by the consensus scientists and their supporters that have diminished the public’s trust in the IPCC and the consensus building process.

    So much for the basic conflict between “science” and “consensus” and the failure of IPCC’s “consensus” process.

    Now to your “ways forward”:

    The two quotations, which you cite early on (Feynman and Dessai et al.), point the direction:

    “Science is belief in the ignorance of experts”

    “Science should be a tool for policy action rather than a tool for political advocacy”

    You write:

    The single most important thing that is needed with regards to the science – particularly in context of the IPCC assessment reports – is explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance (both known and unknown unknowns) and more openness for dissent in the IPCC processes.

    To me the most basic question this raises is whether or not IPCC has outlived its usefulness, as it is structured today.

    My personal opinion is that this is the case. Things can only go downhill for the “consensus” position on CAGW and for climate science in general as long as IPCC continues to be the driving force. It has quite simply lost the public trust.

    You state

    it is important that scientists not to fall into the trap of acceding to inappropriate demands for certainty from decision makers.

    In other words, climate science must return to the scientific bases which make it a science and away from a consensus process which make it simply politics as usual.

    To do so, IPCC must either be totally restructured or terminated. The “consensus process” must be eliminated. This includes IPCC’s myopic fixation on human GHGs to the virtual exclusion of all the many other factors, which influence our planet’s climate, and its sweeping under the rug of all uncertainties, ambiguities and dissenting views.

    I do not believe that even a total restructuring can achieve this, as long as IPCC has the brief it now has and reports to the political body, to which it now reports.

    IOW, I truly believe that the only “way forward” to salvage climate science from its current malaise is to terminate IPCC and cancel the publication of the planned AR5 report (which will only be yet another continuation of the “consensus” approach).

    It should be replaced with a small panel of scientists and engineers, with climate scientists representing differing opinions, including some supporters as well as rational skeptics of the “consensus” viewpoint, but no “advocates”. This should be a bottom up approach and these should not be chosen for political reasons or to fill “national quotas”.

    The brief of the group should be to collect and summarize scientific papers related to our planet’s climate and the natural as well as anthropogenic causes for climate changes, much in the same general fashion as IPCC, but without the “consensus process” and the resulting myopic fixation on anthropogenic GHGs.

    They should not be chosen by politicians or by venerable “scientific” institutions whose political leaderships have joined the “consensus”, but by someone who is both knowledgeable in the subject matter and not bound by any “consensus” viewpoint.

    Who would fit this description?

    You know the players much better than I do, but I would guess that on the top of the list of individuals who will choose the panel replacing IPCC should be:

    Judith Curry
    Roger Pielke Sr.
    John Christy
    Richard Best
    Roy Spencer
    Steven McIntyre
    Raymond Pierrehumbert
    Richard Lindzen
    Ken Minschwaner

    The fate of IPCC and its possible replacement is a topic you left open in your “way forward”, so I have added my comments. I realize that this is a “hot topic”, but I hope you will address it nevertheless.

    While some of the details still need fleshing out (as you point out), the rest of your “way forward” makes sense to me, as I understand it:
    – plan and implement local and regional actions to anticipate and adapt to extreme weather events
    – encourage new technologies to expand energy access, particularly in those regions, which do not yet enjoy access to reliable, low-cost energy
    – hold off with the implementation of any global mitigation schemes based on reducing human GHGs until remaining uncertainties in the scientific justification can be better clarified, cost/benefit analyses for each specific action can be made, other alternates can be considered and any unintended negative consequences can be fully evaluated

    I would fully agree with your summarizing statement:

    It is time to abandon the concept of consensus in favor of open debate of the arguments themselves and discussion of a broad range of policy options that include bottom up approaches to decreasing vulnerability to extreme weather and climate events and developing technologies to expand energy access.

    Lots of luck with your paper.

    Along with all the other denizens here (plus most of the individuals who have an interest in the ongoing debate surrounding AGW), I am looking forward to reading it.

    Max

    .

    • Joe's World

      Max.

      If science had absolute facts, there is no position to compromise.
      Compromising means you found fault in your research and are taking the graceful way out before the roof collapses.

    • Error

      Of course, I meant Dr. Richard Muller (of BEST) – not Richard Best.

      Sorry.

    • Well said, Max. I agree that the IPCC is unsalvageable and endorse your alternative – essentially, something I have argued for for a few years.

    • Max, i agree with a lot of what you say, especially that th IPCC has outlived its usefulness. But how will the politicians do that???

      The logical next step from Copenagen 2009 is to properly establish quality fit for purpose earth temperature measurement and ongoing monitoring of relevant variables, so that if we really look like hitting the 2degC target some time in the next century or so, then we might know with a greater degree of certainty when and why.

      So do we need an IPCC if the WMO could be tasked with oversight of the global measurement and monitoring system??

    • Scott Basinger

      I’d put Moshpit in Rajenda Pachauri’s place on one condition. No romance novel allowed.

  70. Consensus is indispensable in public life. It can be understood as the result of a group of individuals asking themselves the question “given the advantages of agreement, and the disadvantages of conflict, what, of my set of beliefs and wishes, am I prepared to concede, to optimise the outcome for me?” As such it explicitly condones the making of policy many of whose elements will be objectionable to some of the consensus group, all of the time. Ten seconds thought tells us that representative democracy could not function any other way. The case is surely the reverse for science, which is interested in precisely those elements of controversy which policy-makers shun. As Feynmann insisted, a scientist should contest his own beliefs, if he can’t find a peer to do it for him. Once scientists sit down to decide what they are prepared to concede in order to display a consensus, they have agreed to stop doing the very thing that made them scientists. They have become ‘scientists’ – as in Climate ‘Science’ – a term that was coined to Christen this counter-scientific philosophy, and to distinguish it from boring, irrelevant old meteorology, physics, etc, whose outmoded insistence on scientific method was such an obstacle to ‘action’.

  71. At this moment of the discussion, Bart Verheggen usually returns to his medical analogy:

    > If you get a second opinion on your health condition, and it confirms what your specialist said in the first place, your trust in the diagnosis probably increases. (If you are a medical professional yourself and are confident that they’re both wrong, it becomes a different story of course) Now imagine that you collect the interpretations of medical professionals all over the world, and by and large they their conclusions converge to the same broad picture.

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/09/30/frames-and-narrative-in-climate-science/#comment-2747

    But he’s busy.

    Lots of occurences of the word “consensus” in that thread, for those who doubt that it is not implied as unanimity.

  72. Michael Larkin July 14 10.36am:
    Wayward etymology, speaking with forked tongue. Michael, forked tongues are not uncommon here in the land of Oz. )

  73. Regarding ways forward, it is notable that there has apparently never been a real debate about the differing views on climate science. A suggestion made here in Australia is that Tony Abbott (the Leader of the Opposition) should hold a judicial enquiry or even a Royal Commission into the science. Key representatives from both the IPCC and skeptical communities would be invited to present evidence on each of the main issues relating to the anthropogenic CO2 caused AGW, and be subject to rules of evidence and cross-examination. A panel of judges would hear the enquiry, and after the hearings are completed, would deliver a judgement.

    This would soon demonstrate whether in fact a consensus exists or not on the main issues, and also demonstrate the strength (or weaknesses) of the respective views advanced.

    • “This would soon demonstrate whether in fact a consensus exists or not on the main issues, and also demonstrate the strength (or weaknesses) of the respective views advanced.”

      The answer might be 42, but what is the question?

      The problem is Royal Commission doesn’t know the right questions.

      Try asking some questions on this blog and see what the results are.

    • tempterrain

      Mondo,

      If that were to happen and the judges were to rule favourably on the denier/sceptic case, that would of course be accepted by the denier/sceptics.

      On the other hand, if they were ruled against, they would simply point out that judges were paid by governments, and their findings would be rejected.

      • Yes, there is little point in organizations investigating themselves, a good example being the Climategate crooks’ ‘blinder’ exoneration by their own universities. What a indeed.

        Likewise any government exoneration / Commission of Enquiry to establish whether government funding biases climate science in a way likely to benefit government – ie towards alarmism – will invariably conclude : No.

        What is needed is a radical upgrading of FOI : a complete opening up of all relevant government employees’ activities, so that everyone can see their every move. Only then can government really become accountable, and serve the public rather than itself.

      • But the IAC reported the deeper problems in the IPCC and where as that gone???

    • Mondo,

      Yes. We do need a proper judicial enquiry or Royal commission, where proper rules of evidence are used.

      That would require proper documentation of the relevant evidence. The relevant evidence would have to be documents to the standard required for supporting major financial investment decisions.

      This excellent letter to the Prime Minister by a retired engineer (who claims to be agnostic on AGW) explains very clearly what is needed for due diligence. http://joannenova.com.au/2011/07/spending-billions-why-not-do-a-due-diligence-study/

      We require due diligence for investment decisions in the private sector. If not done properly, those responsible may be sent to jail. The magnitude of those investments are orders of magnitude less than the proposed investments in mitigation strategies. It is, therefore, entirely reasonable for rational people to want appropriate due diligence – to the appropriate standard for the massive investments being advocated – before our governments make the investment on our behalf.

      I’d argue it is totally unreasonable for the Left to oppose due diligence, judicial enquiry and/or Royal Commission.

      Nullius in Verba explained well in this comment what quality of documentation is required:
      http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2012/06/05/conservatives-who-think-seriously-about-the-planet/#comment-111418

    • Steve Milesworthy