Post Normal Science: Deadlines

by Steven Mosher

Science has changed. More precisely, in post normal conditions the behavior of people doing science has changed.

Ravetz describes a post normal situation by the following criteria:

  1. Facts are uncertain
  2. Values are in conflict
  3. Stakes are high
  4. Immediate action is required

The difference between Kuhnian normal science, or the behavior of those doing science under normal conditions, and post normal science is best illustrated by example. We can use the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson as an example. Facts were uncertain–they always are to a degree; no values were in conflict; the stakes were not high; and, immediate action was not required. What we see in that situation is those doing science acting as we expect them to, according to our vague ideal of science. Because facts are uncertain, they listen to various conflicting theories. They try to put those theories to a test. They face a shared uncertainity and in good faith accept the questions and doubts of others interested in the same field. Their participation in politics is limited to asking for money. Because values are not in conflict no theorist takes the time to investigate his opponent’s views on evolution or smoking or taxation. Because the field of personal values is never in play, personal attacks are minimized. Personal pride may be at stake, but values rarely are. The stakes for humanity in the discovery of the Higgs are low: at least no one argues that our future depends upon the outcome. No scientist straps himself to the collider and demands that it be shut down. And finally, immediate action is not required; under no theory is the settling of the uncertainty so important as to rush the result. In normal science, according to Kuhn,  we can view the behavior of those doing science as puzzle solving. The details of a paradigm are filled out slowly and deliberately.

The situation in climate science are close to the polar opposite of this. That does not mean and should not be construed as a criticism of climate science or its claims. The simple point is this: in a PNS situation, the behavior of those doing science changes. To be sure much of their behavior remains the same. They formulate theories; they collect data, and they test their theories against the data. They don’t stop doing what we notional  describe as science. But, as foreshadowed above in the description of how high energy particle physicists behave, one can see how that behavior changes in a PNS situation. There is uncertainty, but the good faith that exists in normal science, the faith that other people are asking questions because they actually want the answer is gone. Asking questions, raising doubts, asking to see proof becomes suspect in and of itself. And those doing science are faced with a question that science cannot answer: Does this person really want the answer or are they a merchant of doubt? Such a question never gets asked in normal science. Normal science doesn’t ask this question because science cannot answer it.

Because values are in conflict the behavior of those doing science changes. In normal science no one would care if Higgs was a Christian or an atheist. No one would care if he voted liberal or conservative; but because two different value systems are in conflict in climate science, the behavior of those doing science changes. They investigate each other. They question motives. They form tribes.  And because the stakes are high the behavior of those doing science changes as well. They protest; they take money from lobby groups on both sides and worse of all they perform horrendous raps on youTube. In short, they become human; while those around them canonize them or demonize them and their findings become iconized or branded as hoaxes.

This brings us to the last aspect of a PNS situation: immediate action is required. This perhaps is the most contentious aspect of PNS, in fact I would argue it is the defining characteristic. In all PNS situations it is almost always the case the one side sees the need for action, given the truth of their theory, while the doubters must of necessity see no need for immediate action. They must see no need for immediate action because their values are at risk and because the stakes are high. Another way to put this is as follows. When you are in a PNS situation, all sides must deny it. Those demanding immediate action, deny it by claiming more certainty*than is present; those refusing immediate action, do so by increasing demands for certainty. This leads to a centralization and valorization of the topic of uncertainty, and epistemology becomes a topic of discussion for those doing science. That is decidedly not normal science.

The demand for immediate action, however, is broader than simply a demand that society changes. In a PNS situation the behavior of those doing science changes. One of the clearest signs that you are in PNS is the change in behavior around deadlines. Normal science has no deadline. In normal science, the puzzle is solved when it is solved. In normal science there may be a deadline to shut down the collider for maintenance. Nobody rushes the report to keep the collider running longer than it should. And if a good result is found, the schedules can be changed to accommodate the science. Broadly speaking, science drives the schedule; the schedule doesn’t drive the science.

The climategate mails are instructive here. As one reads through the mails it’s clear that the behavior of those doing science is not what one would call disinterested patient puzzle solving. Human beings acting in a situation where values are in conflict and stakes are high will engage in behavior that they might not otherwise. Those changes are most evident in situations surrounding deadlines. The point here is not to rehash The Crutape Letters, but rather to relook at one incident ( there are others, notably around congressional hearings ) where deadlines came into play. The deadline in question was the deadline for submitting papers for consideration. As covered in The Crutape Letters and in The Hockeystick Illusion, the actions taken by those doing science around the “Jesus Paper” is instructive. In fact, were I to rewrite the Crutape letters I would do it from the perspective of PNS, focusing on how the behavior of those doing science deviated from the ideals of openness, transparency and letting truth come on its own good time.

Climategate is about FOIA. There were two critical paths for FOIA: one sought data, the other sought the emails of scientists. Not quite normal. Not normal in that data is usually shared; not normal in that we normally respect the privacy of those doing science. But this is PNS, and all bets are off. Values and practices from other fields, such as business and government,  are imported into the culture of science: Data hoarding is defended using IP and confidentiality agreements. Demanding private mail is defended using values imported from performing business for the public. In short, one sign that a science is post normal, is the attempt to import values and procedures from related disciplines. Put another way, PNS poses the question of governance. Who runs science and how should they run it.

The “Jesus paper” in a nutshell can be explained as follows. McIntyre and McKittrick had a paper published in the beginning of 2005. That paper needed to be rebutted in order to make Briffa’s job of writing chapter 6 easier. However, there was a deadline in play. Papers had to be accepted by a date certain. At one point Steven Schneider suggested the creation of a new category, a novelty–  provisionally accepted — so that the “jesus paper” could make the deadline. McIntyre covers the issue here. One need not re-adjudicate whether or not the IPCC rules were broken. And further these rules have nothing whatsoever ever to do with the truth of the claims in that paper. This is not about the truth of the science. What is important is the importation of the concept of a deadline into the search for truth. What is important is that the behavior of those doing science changes. Truth suddenly cares about a date. Immediate action is required. In this case immediate action is taken to see to it that the paper makes it into the chapter. Normal science takes no notice of deadlines. In PNS, deadlines matter.

Last week we saw another example of deadlines and high stakes changing the behavior of those doing science. The backstory here explains .   It appears to me that the behavior of those involved changed from what I have known it to be. It changed because they perceived that immediate action was required. A deadline had to be met. Again, as with the Jesus paper, the facts surrounding the release do not go to the truth of the claims. In normal science, a rushed claimed might very well get the same treatment as an unrushed claim: It will be evaluated on its merits. In PNS, either the rush to meet an IPCC deadline– as in the case of the Jesus paper, or the rush to be ready for congress –as in the Watts case, is enough for some doubt the science.  What has been testified to in Congress by Christy, a co author, may very well be true. But in this high stakes arena, where facts are uncertain and values are in conflict, the behavior of those doing science can and does change. Not all their behavior changes. They still observe and test and report. But the manner in which they do that changes. Results are rushed and data is held in secret. Deadlines change everything. Normal science doesn’t operate this way; if it does, quality can suffer. And yet, the demand for more certainty than is needed, the bad faith game of delaying action by asking questions, precludes a naïve return to science without deadlines.

The solution that Ravetz suggests is extended peer review and a recognition of the importance of quality. In truth, the way out of a PNS situation is not that simple. The first step out of a PNS situation is the recognition that one is in the situation to begin with. Today, few people embroiled in this debate would admit that the situation has changed how they would normally behave. An admission that this isn’t working is a cultural crisis for science. No one has the standing to describe how one should conduct science in a PNS situation. No one has the standing to chart the path out of a PNS situation. The best we can do is describe what we see. Today, I observe that deadlines change the behavior of those doing science. We see that in climategate; we see that in the events of the past week. That’s doesn’t entail anything about the truth of science performed under pressure. But it should make us pause and consider if truth will be found any faster by rushing the results and hiding the data.

*I circulated a copy of this to Michael Tobis to get his reaction. MT took issue with this characterization. MT, I believe, originated the argument that our uncertainty is a reason for action. It is true that while the certainty about the science  has been a the dominant piece of the rhetoric, there has been a second thread of rhetoric that bases action in the uncertainty about sensitivity. I would call this certainty shifting. While the uncertainty about facts of sensitivity are accepted in this path of argument the certainty is shifted to certainty about values and certainty about impacts. In short, the argument becomes that while we are uncertain about sensitivity the certainty we have about large impacts and trans-generational obligations necessitates action.

857 responses to “Post Normal Science: Deadlines

  1. Heh, what’s gone post-normal is the call for immediate action when such action is impossible.

    The train may be leaving the station, but no one laid any tracks out of it.
    ======================

    • Well, laid them on uncertain ground, as a precaution, I guess.
      ============================

      • Yes, Kim, laid there in 1945 out of fear of “nuclear fire!”

      • Exactly Manuel, whatever Judith posted was first envisioned in the year 1362BC by the pharoah Amenhotep III in the form of a 4-day time cube which has been foisted upon the American people.

      • I knew it!

      • No, lowot, official responses to 2009 emails and Climategate documents helped unravel pieces of the history of events in 1945-1947 that show:

        a.) The seeds of Climategate and post-normal consensus science were planted together in the ruins of Hiroshima in 1945, and

        b.) Kuroda, Hoyle or Yukawa probably warned George Orwell in ~1947 that Western science was being compromised and triggered him to write the futuristic novel, Nineteen Eighty-four (1984) in 1948 that correctly describes Western governments today.

        http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-720

        – Oliver K. Manuel

      • On a standard, properly constructed track, there are an elevated grade or embankment on which the track is layed, and along each side a wide ditch that is intended to collect run-off. When the embankment to carry the track is prepared, “ballast” is spread under and between the ties that is composed of coarse, angular, crushed rock or even slag. The angular character helps lock the pieces together and keeps them from moving, and in turn prevents ties and rails from squirming under the load of the train. The entire point is construct a sound carrier for the train.

        However, back in the day, railroad companies in a rush to run a line between two locations would occasionally ignore good design in favor of speed. Often this was done because of competition by an alternate company. They would clear ground and then simply run the ties and rails with very little additional prepation. Ballast would be poured on later and the expectation was that as track was maintained the elevation of the line would sort of “naturally” occur. Needless to say such lines were frequently subject to train wrecks. Softened soil from rain might cause the rails to “pump” under the train and the soil would liquify, or the entire rail and tie system might actually slide out from under the train because there was no ballast to prevent the ties from acting like the runners on a sled.

        The metaphor is remarkable.

    • Post-normal science began as an ill-conceived, but popular response to the destruction of Hiroshima on 6 Aug 1945:

      a.) Hide information on energy (E) stored as mass (m) in the cores of atoms and stars to protect our physical selves from destruction?

      b.) Continue to respect “truth, reality, God” over self?

      This is The Bottom Line of science and religion:

      http://omanuel.wordpress.com/about/#comment-720

      I will also post it below.

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

    • Got it in one. Without that (purely political) demand, the “PNS” situation does not arise.

      Off the top, some elementary arithmetic — which was done — that demonstrates the thoroughly futile ineffectuality of emissions constraints for the foreseeable future under any halfway plausible set of assumptions makes it clear that the entire “mitigation” concept is a financial and economic black hole.

      Once that nonsense is out of the way, normal science, economic development and wealth-enhancement of the planet’s population and hence its choices and options and ability to respond, can proceed.

  2. moshe, I think ocean heat content data and albedo data and satellite tropspheric data will settle many questions long before reworking land temperature data will be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. Beating the dead horses of homogenization algorithms will stop when millenial scale natural forces are finally understood, and we are getting there. In the meantime, since we can’t do any mitigating anyway, without unbearable cost, would it be better to twiddle our computers or our scopes or our thumbs.
    =====================

  3. Nice post.

    i think that this:

    Does this person really want the answer or are they a merchant of doubt? Such a question never gets asked in normal science.

    is a bit of an over-statement.

    Also, I think that your choice of an “instructive” example reflects some bias. Why wouldn’t you begin with scientists who launched propaganda campaigns to undermine the science suggesting AGW?

    That’s not mommymommyism: I’m not defending the less than disinterested science that you highlight in your example – perhaps that is as good an example as any. The problem, however, is that the example you use is often cited or focused upon as the origin of less than disinterested behavior (one-sided) in the climate debate. As such, I think that your overall message – which seems considered and even-handed (for which I commend you) – will get fit right back into the same-old, same-old, and more so than it might have otherwise.

    • Steven Mosher

      I choose the example because of a coversation that Ravetz and I had in Lisbon some time ago. Basically that many people try to hold other sciences to the ideal of physics.. and I thought of my skeptical friends and their love of 6 sigma certainty in particle physics.. PLUS, I was interested in an example where the science drove the schedule and not the schedule driving the science

      • Steven,

        Excellent essay. I agree with most of it.

        Of course, in most fields there are opposing camps, scientific rivals, grant deadlines and publishing prematurely so you don’t get scooped by your rival so it’s not as clean cut as you laid it out but the problems are magnified many fold when it gets politicized and impacts ones values and views on how economies work, etc.

      • The essay is a fine piece of discourse. One thing that Ravetz high lighted:

        4. Immediate action is required

        Should be paired with another aspect of PNS that is not usually mentioned:

        5. The standard of the principle of uniformity in the operation of natural laws is discarded in favour of an unstated anthropic principle.

        While it has often been taken to mean that the uniform processes that are observed acting on the earth’s surface are the only processes that do so, Lyell’s principle of uniformity is a generalization and it can be understood to include rare, repeating events such as asteroidal impacts and similar uncommon catasrophic events.

        In medicine you encounter the disregard for Koch’s principles when it appears that “doing something” is better than doing nothing,

        Once something “alarming” is discovered, e.g. singularities in a mathematical model of how the earth’s climate might operate, the alarm tends become reified in the mind of the discoverer. Hansen is a good example here. I really doubt that there is much intentional “fraud” in climate science. I do suspect that in the backs of their minds the catastrophicaly minded members of the team see themselves as the heroic guys in the white hats, riding to the rescue of the human race.

        This kind of thinking is justified by assuming the human race is somehow more special than all those species that have gone before us. We can somehow alter the operation of natural laws to terrible ends, wittingly or through ignorance. This short circuits the internal and external scientific dialog that should compare the model (completely artificial) results to reality.

    • Paul Vaughan

      Mosher’s “merchant of doubt” cue triggered instant association with Leif Svalgaard’s seemingly neverending stream of painfully over-the-top-creepy ignorant &/or deceptive solar-terrestrial-climate commentary that’s strictly at odds – on the basis of absolute logic – with earth rotation & atmospheric angular momentum data. When it cannot be agreed that 1+1=2, there’s no basis for sensible communication. Shattering the basis for trust is what these merchants do. Authoritatively driving social intractability is tyrannical & dangerous.

      • Paul, the tension between trust and skepticism in science is basic to the entire scientific approach to reality. Going back to Francis Bacon’s New Organon you will find Bacon explaining that the importance of the experimental method is to separate the opinions and assumptions of the investigator from what is being investigated. Science is not supposed to rely on trust. The entire point of replicability is to eliminate the need for trust. Oddly, by making it possible to replicate one’s work, you also make it possible for colleagues to trust you. Trust is not integral to science; it is a short cut for replication and validation of another’s work and conclusions. The percieved pssoibility for replication reduces the percieved need for it.

        It can be argued that potential replicability in climatology is limited to begin with. The historic record is limited to just what it is. There is no possibility of replicating it. At best, proxy measures can be collected and analized in parallel oto the historic record. That is not, however, replication.

        In such a case where there is a single data set and no other will ever be available, transparency becomes absolutely critical. The original, raw, unadjusted data must be available. Absolutely any assumptions about how the data was collected, how it may be biased, methods of adjustment and analysis, code for the same, and software software used to implement the code need to be clearly published or specified, right dowm to which C or C++ compiler was used. Even with those conditions met, I suspect that the study of the land surface temperature record is really more of an historical analysis than a scientific one.

    • Steven Mosher

      in a PNS situation where neither side can admit that other values compete with the search for truth, you end up with a situation where no one can admit a failing. If they are caught out, they have only one defense:

      mommy mommy, they did it first.

      I suddenly have more appreciation for you viewpoint on this.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven Mosher, perhaps you mean Interests trump values sometimes.
        I might always recognize there is a value to ants, but still step on ’em ON PURPOSE sometimes. Depending on how they threaten my interests severely I’ll kill a number of them with no long term regrets.

      • In addition to “they did it first”, there’s also “they do it more”.

      • Steven, it seems to me that PNS, whatever it is, wasn’t a factor in the Big Bang, v. steady state universe debate, which to my recollection was even more heated than the climate debate, but that may be because the MSM reported both sides. However, here was a none PNS debate where the proponents, particularly on the Big Bang side, weren’t willing to listen to the arguments of the, shall we say Hoylists, and there was mutual hatred. There is only science, and it has had similar clashes in the past, PNS isn’t science it’s just an idea floated by Ravetz and co. which has given scientists without good science behind them, and environmental credentials to demand what they can’t get through the ballot box.

      • PNS is another in the long list of logical fallacies employed by the AGW fraudsters, the Marxist’s such as Ravetz, who have infiltrated Western Academia.

        ‘Post Normal Science’ is simply Special Pleading rebranded.

        The entire list of logical fallacies has been the AGW fraudster’s complete play-book. But Just as with all forms of deception, once the con-trick has been exposed, credibility is gone.

        “Trust us, yes there is ‘uncertainty’ (i.e. no empirical evidence that CO2 causes warming, and in-fact much to the contrary) but if you don’t allow us to monetize and profit from your human right to freely emit CO2, you will surely perish. “

        Such arguments do not hold up in a court of law. They are referred to as Special Pleading and are recognised logical fallacies.

        Peter Lang | August 3, 2012 at 9:51 am

        “In short, the argument becomes that while we are uncertain about sensitivity the certainty we have about large impacts and trans-generational obligations necessitates action.

        What is the evidence for large impacts that is certain (or has high certainty)?”

        Steven Mosher | August 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

        “Im describing HOW an argument shifts. Not the truth or falsity of that argument”

        In view of the fact that you have been a strong advocate of Ravetz and his ‘Post Normal Science’/Special Pleading fallacy, I would have to conclude that you are not trying to describe anything, but are in-fact merely back peddling.

        Your contempt for the truth is as always, unmistakable Mosher.

    • Joshua
      … I think that … your choice of an “instructive” example reflects some bias. Why wouldn’t you begin with scientists who launched propaganda campaigns to undermine the science suggesting AGW?

      Mosh’s example happens to be consistent with the timeline of what actually happened, since the cargo-cult propaganda that forms the basis of the CAGW hypothesis – aka the IPCC/climate Establishment position – necessarily preceded any criticism of itself.

  4. In short, the argument becomes that while we are uncertain about sensitivity the certainty we have about large impacts and trans-generational obligations necessitates action.

    What is the evidence for large impacts that is certain (or has high certainty)?

    • The last 1.5 C. of warming had vast beneficial impact, as will the next 1.5 C. of warming. The cooling generations will be both amused and transfixed by the absurd social folly we’ve contemplated around this turn of the century.
      ================================

    • Steven Mosher

      Im describing HOW an argument shifts. Not the truth or falsity of that argument

    • David L. Hagen

      Roy Spencer posted:
      Post-Normal Science: Deadlines, or Conflicting Values? August 5th, 2012

      “Never have so many scientists forecast so far into the future such fearful weather with so little risk of consequence for being wrong.”

      Scientists should always be open to the possibility they are wrong — as they frequently are — and it should come as little surprise when they finally discover they were wrong. But scientists are human, gravitating toward popular theories which enjoy favored status in funding, persuasive and even charismatic leader-scientists, and routinely participate in “confirmation bias” where evidence is sought which supports a favored theory, while disregarding evidence which is contrary to the theory. . . .
      Scientific knowledge does not determine policy.
      The trouble arises when “stakeholders” ends up being a vocal minority with some ideological interest which does not adequately appreciate economic realities. . . .
      It’s not the scientist’s job to make a policy decision.
      Instead what we have with the IPCC is governmental funding heavily skewed toward the support of research which will (1) perpetuate and expand the role of government in the economy, and (2) perpetuate and expand the need for climate scientists. . . .
      Our involvement in this would not have been necessary if some politicians and elites had not decided over 20 years ago that it was time to go after Big Energy through an unholy alliance between government and scientific institutions. We did not ask for this fight, but to help save the integrity of science as a discipline we are compelled to get involved.

      I strongly endorse Spencer’s post.

  5. This is interesting, more so than previous arguments I’ve seen for “post-normal science” which I’ve tended to tune out.

    People certainly do (and should) make different decisions where stakes are high and time pressure is a factor. No one expects their cancer doctor, for example, to confine him or herself to changing one variable around their therapy while the patient is fighting for their life.

    I also heartily agree with this:

    And yet, the demand for more certainty than is needed, the bad faith game of delaying action by asking questions, precludes a naïve return to science without deadlines.

    Climate scientists are often abused by “skeptics” for defensiveness, while they ignore the part their own behavior has played in making people reasonably defensive. You can’t call people liars and frauds and threaten their families and then expect them to regard you as a good-faith partner. I have never seen a “skeptic” acknowledge that there are two sides to this dynamic.

    One thing I think could make the essay stronger: the picture of normal science seems a bit idealized. Of course ego and competitive spirit and clashing personalities are part of any human enterprise. The example of deadlines is a little unfortunate, because all scientists experience deadline pressure; grant applications, journal submissions, lecture dates and so on.

    You might like “Sources of Power” (Klein). He’s a clinical psychologist who studies expert decision-making under time pressure, where there are high stakes, and in conditions of uncertainty (tank commanders, PICU nurses, fireground commanders, etc.) It’s not a perfect fit, because in climate science those that collect and analyze the data (the scientists) are not the people ultimately responsible for the decisions (which would be the voters). But close enough to be interesting, I would think.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sources-Power-People-Make-Decisions/dp/0262611465

    • Steven Mosher

      ‘One thing I think could make the essay stronger: the picture of normal science seems a bit idealized. Of course ego and competitive spirit and clashing personalities are part of any human enterprise. The example of deadlines is a little unfortunate, because all scientists experience deadline pressure; grant applications, journal submissions, lecture dates and so on.”

      yes, that is a flaw. I think if I had the time I would go back and work through Kuhn again. its been over 30 years.. and there are some other errors I see now that I would fix..

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steven Mosher: I think if I had the time I would go back and work through Kuhn again

        Please allow me to recommend Kuhn’s essay “The Essential Tension” (collected in a book with the same name), where, for all practical purposes, he obliterates the distinction between “normal” science and “revolutionary” science.

        I liked your essay.

        I think the defining feature of “post-normal science” is the creation of a public policy lobby of scientists demanding the expenditure of large amounts of money to change the way everyone else lives. Scientists always seek financial support for their research (c.f. Jonathan Swift’s comments on “projectors”), but the AGW promoters have been lobbying for many times their research budgets to be invested in changing the energy industries of all nations, starting at home. I think it was these demands for huge public expenditures that stimulated opponents to use words like “hoax” and “fraud” (but of course you can’t tell, this is a counterfactual conditional.)

      • Steve Milesworthy

        I think the defining feature of “post-normal science” is the creation of a public policy lobby of scientists demanding the expenditure of large amounts of money to change the way everyone else lives.

        I see a public lobby of *some* scientists demanding that the topic is taken seriously. You can’t really blame the scientists if the required measures turn out to be expensive. One rarely hears a climate scientist advocate a particular policy.

        As there are public lobbies demanding many different things in many different areas (road safety is probably one that results in huge expenditure, as is engineering safe buildings, vaccine campaigns….sorry I can think of hundreds now), climate science is not distinguished by this measure at all.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steve Milesworthy: As there are public lobbies demanding many different things in many different areas

        hence my phrase “public policy lobby of scientists”. If they are ordinary “factions”, then the “science” in “post-normal science” hardly applies.

        One rarely hears a climate scientist advocate a particular policy.

        Depends on which “one” the sentence refers to. I read climate scientists advocating huge changes to the energy industry quite frequently.

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        One rarely hears a climate scientist advocate a particular policy.

        Where have you been for the past 20 years of more. Climate Scienists have been advocating carbon pricing since at least 1992 that I know of. James Hansen, Sir Nicholas Stern. Richard Tol, and those involved in the IPCC consensus to name a few.

        Then there were the activists (including scientists) who attended the Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Rio+20 conferences.

        They also strongly advocated the Kyoto Protocol, another really bad policy.

        Do you need any more reality?

        Given this, I’d ask you: will these activist scientists and activist groups never learn?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        James Hansen, Sir Nicholas Stern. Richard Tol, and those involved in the IPCC consensus to name a few.

        Hansen yes – that’s why I said “rarely”. Stern, no – he was paid to do an analysis of alternatives and he is not a climate scientist. Richard Tol is an economist who studies the area and is apparently of a sceptic bent anyway.

        “Those involved in the IPCC consensus” definitely no. I know one or two of them personally and have never heard a peep out of them about energy policy.

      • Peter Lang (3 Aug, 7.20pm). “Climate Scienists (sic) have been advocating carbon pricing since at least 1992 that I know of. James Hansen, Sir Nicholas Stern…”.
        Stern a climate scientist?

      • teve Milesworthy,

        “One rarely hears a climate scientist advocate a particular policy”

        I’ve had this self-same discussion with climate scientists in the UK. They tell me they aren’t advocating particular solutions, just outlining the problems. That is true, they are telling us that there will be multiple catastrophes based on computer simulations. They know their forecasts are wild shots in the dark given the chaotic nature of climate and weather, but are quite happy to see them put into the IPCC reports as certainties. And, of course, they are advocating the reduction in CO2 output as the solution to the problem, so no they aren’t offering particular policies they’re saying we must reduce our output of CO2.

        That begs the question as to how we do that, the scientists, as you say don’t care it’s not their business, but they must have an inkling of the economic damage such a madcap solution will cause to the western industrial civilisations, and moreover, unless they are plain stupid they must also be aware that there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of China, India, Brazil etc. reducing their CO2 output because the disasters fairy tales of the IPCC aren’t going to frighten anyone living in poverty who’s given the chance to get out of it.

        So yes, they don’t advocate a particular solution, but they do advocate a particular policy, reducing carbon dioxide output. They can’t have it all ways, they’re making the ammunition for the environmentalists to use to get through coercion what they can’t get through the ballot box, total control over the lives of the people.

        There is always a price to pay for anything in life, and copping out by saying you’re only outlining the problem won’t stop the invoice for what’s going on dropping through into the letter boxes of the climate science establishment. Eventually.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        geronimo, given that the wild shots in the dark have been pretty much meeting their mark for 30-odd years, I think the climate scientists reckon they are right. Given the wild shots in the dark from all the economic modellers for the last 300 years, I don’t really believe any alarmist nonsense about CO2 mitigation policies causing disaster to the economy.

        So I don’t believe in this characterisation of Matt Stat of “a public policy lobby of scientists demanding the expenditure of large amounts of money to change the way everyone else lives.” and it seems you’ve not defended this characterisation, so I’m happy with that.

      • I think the defining feature of “post-normal science” is the creation of a public policy lobby of scientists demanding the expenditure of large amounts of money to change the way everyone else lives.

        Similar to when scientists lobbied to have sewers covered, and cholera-infected water pumps shut down.

        Or when scientists lobbied to have parents inject their children with dead or weakened viruses and bacteria to (as strange as it must have seemed) “immunize” them.

        Or when that nutty Pasteur character went around telling dairy farmers to bring their milk to a simmer.

        You could multiple these examples infinitely. Science frequently leads to good ideas that change the way people live. Where it provokes opposition it is not primarily because it suggests to people that they change their behavior, but when — as with the theory of evolution — the scientific facts are seen as threatening to the identity or the values of a faith community.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        And where is the evidence that “acting” against global warming will have an effect?

        Your examples are very good… and we happened to have direct evidence that acting in each situation would have a strong benefit.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Robert: You could multiple these examples infinitely.

        You make a good case that “post normal science” is a new name for an old phenomenon. You seem to agree that “post normal science” emerges when the scientists become the lobby.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Matt Stat,

        PNS is an attempt to define a term for a perfectly normal and common behaviour so as to take ownership of the behaviour and subsequently *re*define it.

        One of the attempts at redefining would seem to be the attempt to claim that any statements made by scientists that could impact public policy are somehow unusual and potentially nefarious.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steve Milesworthy: One of the attempts at redefining would seem to be the attempt to claim that any statements made by scientists that could impact public policy are somehow unusual and potentially nefarious.

        Your word “nefarious” is distracting. The claim is that by becoming advocates the scientists sacrifice their greatest epistemological asset, which is the intellectual honesty that derives from “disinterestedness”. By sacrificing that which gives them their strongest advantage in trying to learn how things work, they also sacrifice their greatest claim to trust, their main public policy asset.

        The same psychological and social processes that undermine trust in tobacco company scientists undermine trust in any scientists who advocate public policies from which they stand to reap benefits (e.g. salary support, academic promotions, public esteem.) It isn’t that academic and government scientists are always right, either. Academic and government scientists mistakenly opposed aspartame, saccharine and acrilonitrile. Scientists are not immune to cognitive dissonance: once they take a public stand for or against some policy, they find it hard to absorb conflicting information and evaluate it fairly.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        MattStat, the concerns you have are only really relevant if both the following scenarios are true. 1) there is only a small number of scientists with the appropriate expertise to make the scientific judgements, and 2) if the scientists’ work directly and strongly influences all of the broad scientific findings.

        Here, though the “public lobby of scientists” you are concerned about really are the tip of a reasonable sized iceberg, and despite significant challenges the science underlying their advocacy has not really changed for 30 years. Some but not all have a direct influence on some important questions, but they are not in the position to, for example, influence the sensitivity of models or prevent findings about trends in hurricanes not being alarmist enough.

        Sure you argue that they are influencing where the research money goes, but the research money in climate science is far too diffuse to be controlled by a cabal of scientists – 22 models, 4 surface temperature records, multiple analyses of ocean heat content and sea level, no consensus whatsoever on regional climate etc. etc.

        In summary, if there is any cognitive dissonance suffered by any individual scientist, the science as a whole is big enough to negate its effects (in my opinion, of course) particularly when even the most strong advocate has to accept, when he or she gets back to the lab, that there remain large uncertainties in almost all aspects of a climate scientist’s work.

      • Seems Muller and Al
        Own roulette wheels at the mall.
        Spin it, Baby, spin.
        ===============

      • “I think the defining feature of “post-normal science” is the creation of a public policy lobby of scientists demanding the expenditure of large amounts of money to change the way everyone else lives. ”

        Or “changing the way everyone lives” is the wanted, and climate change is the offered product to meet this consumer demand.
        The “Immediate action is required” is buy now.

        Wouldn’t you like to change the way everyone else lives?
        Do you have uncertain facts?
        Is what you regard as important fairly confusing?
        Buy climate change- it’s important, buy now.
        This is a limit time offer, it’s free, we pay you.
        Buy now.

      • Paul Vaughan

        “This leads to a centralization and valorization of the topic of uncertainty, and epistemology becomes a topic of discussion for those doing science. That is decidedly not normal science.”

        Broader perspective is needed here. I spent a decade engaged in academic biology & ecology. Those fields are orders of magnitude more challenging than climate science. The term “post” strongly suggests a temporal dimension. I encourage you to consider other sources of discontinuity. The distribution on other dimensions (other than time) of what an investigator can & can’t do is heterogeneous. There are patches & pockets. We need to allow for paradox in sensible conceptual frameworks. However convenient it is for ignorant &/or deceptive forces to ignore paradox (& the dependence of pattern on aggregation criteria more generally) while driving oversimplified narratives, paradox is fundamentally ubiquitous. What I see in the climate discussion is a lot of people who want to leverage political perspective by strategically (& logically fallaciously) denying the existence of paradox. These politically-strategic “linear thinkers” ignorantly &/or deceptively demand fallacious bivariate relational monotonicity to market easy narratives. By simplifying too much, they can win large market share but while the large market share is of high political value it’s of low intellectual quality. So while pushing PNS frameworks comes across as shameless political activism aimed at relatively shallow thinkers, the article also manages to succeed brilliantly by stimulating acute awareness that the conditions for robust social intractability are decisively met. A highly worthwhile contribution.

      • I don’t understand the constant recursion to Kuhn, whose thinking was very sloppy. What’s wrong with Hull or Laudan or Hacking?

    • I made a similar comment above before I saw this one.

    • Last year 10,ooo americans died of glioblastoma, this year 10,000 and next year another 10,ooo.
      Saturaday I presented the data from our first in vivo mouse model at a conference. Lots of other cancer workers, all brain people. No back-biting, no party politics, some advice and so ideas freely shared.
      A few people wanted cultures of human primary glioblastoma, which we will grow up and send, for free.
      So post-normal?
      When will 10,000 Americans die annually from elevated atmospheric CO2?
      I noted the murders in Colorado and looked at the numbers;
      US deaths from firearms is 3.7 per 100,000
      US deaths from Alzheimer’s is 37 per 100,000

      In terms of healthcare cost, supporting the geriatric diseases of the baby-boomers is going to cost more than, at it’s extreme, cAGW.

      What is post-normal is where a postulated threat is used to serve as a means for people to build empires, in acedemia and in global political organizations.
      Postulated effects are given more weight than empirical data, quite deliberately.
      Never is there any attempt at a cost/benefit analysis that states spending money on this, gets you this. The only way to generate base-load electricity, without burning coal, is dismissed by the same people who demand we stop burning coal and increase funding in climate science.
      The science isn’t, no where are hypotheses tested to destruction; more importantly, consistent with is presented as conformation of.
      The climate scientists are not only bringing disgrace to their own field, but to all others, by breaking the codes of conduct and behaving in unspeakably unprofessional ways. One thing we learned from the climate-gate emails was that lying, cheating, blackmailing and conspiring against others is part of the culture in this field.

      • John another

        Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      • There won’t be coal forever, get a grip skeptics.

      • You need a grip, nobody claims there’ll be coal forever. How stupid and illogical!

      • And so why are you here?
        Answer: Edim gets his jollies from being a knee-jerk contrarian.

        The goal has always been to find alternative energy sources.

      • “There won’t be coal forever, ….”
        Agreed, so at some point over the next few centuries, some future generation, with access to far superior technology in every field than we have now, will have to turn their attention to using those resources to addressing the problem of replacing coal generation.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        Very well said.

      • “The climate scientists are not only bringing disgrace to their own field, but to all others, by breaking the codes of conduct and behaving in unspeakably unprofessional ways. One thing we learned from the climate-gate emails was that lying, cheating, blackmailing and conspiring against others is part of the culture in this field.”

        Oh nonsense. Let go of those pearls.

        Climate research is almost saintly compared to medical/pharma.

      • yeah, it’s got saint, Gore

      • Almost saintly yes. That’s a very low bar.

      • err…..no.

      • You don’t think medical/pharma is a very low bar?

      • very low…no.

        There are plenty of examples of problems, but then there is a massive quantity of work going on.

        Post-normal is just a new tag for normal.

      • Yes, it’s normal. It’s right there in the link, black on white, in plain sight:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_science

        “..not actually challenging or attempting to test the underlying assumptions of that theory.”

        That’s normal, but it’s not according to the scientific method.

      • Can you imagine RC, SKS or others subjecting AGW confirming papers to at least 0.0001% of the scrutiny they subject the skeptical papers? I can’t. That’s no science.

      • Yes, they do it all the time.

      • …and that’s an awesome wiki page- one para, no references.

        Maybe Anthony Watts wrote it!

      • It’s the link in this article. That’s one of the basic traits of normal science according to Kuhn – no attempts to challenge or test the theory. We see it very clearly in AGW ‘theory’. Only confirming and cheering, and making sure that no dissenting voices are heard.

      • That’s just dopey – every piece of research in the field of physics doesn’t need to try to challenge basics like gravity or relativity

    • Robert
      Trying to excuse secrecy and defensiveness by climate scientists, Robert thinks you can’t call people liars and frauds and expect them to regard you as a good-faith partner.

      The good-faith deficit starts and ends with the climate establishment. If and when the Climategate fraudsters get sacked or otherwise disciplined, only then we can perhaps risk trusting the core climate scientists a bit.

  6. How do you pronounce the acronym and how do you pronounce the acrtonym for Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and are the two related?

  7. What high stakes? Warming is good as is advancing human culture. CO2 is plant food.

    Oh, by the high stakes did you mean global cooling?
    =====================================

    • How much energy do plants get from CO2?

      none.

      CO2 is not plant food.

      And the dose is the poison.

      • The reason Alaskan veggies get so big is all that extra CO2!

        What else could it be?

      • Alaskan veggies grow big because of two things.
        1) there is a small cult of growers that do it for fun and bragging rights. They have bred the large plants the same way both large and small dogs have all been selectively bred from wolves. When you always use the seeds from the largest plants………you get the picture. The large plants are not usually the tastiest and most nutritious. They are just big.
        2) the plants grow large because during the growing season up here, the dadburn Sun shines almost all the time, so the plant growth never shuts down at night like it does for plants further south.

        The extra CO2 does help.

      • bob droege | August 4, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
        CO2 is not plant food.

        Is that right though? Is it not the case that some farmers add CO2 to hothouses to enhance plant growth ?

      • Bill Clinton once famously said that CO2 was plant food. He also famously said it only once.
        =================

      • Bob, (if there are no /sarc tags missing) when you eat a potato you are eating CO2 intake from the atmosphere, and water plus some trace minerals and nitrogen that are soil uptake. The energy is solar energy that converts CO2 and water into carbohyrates. Green plants are dependent on CO2 for survival and thus so are we. If atmospheric CO2 were one quarter the present level – about 140 ppm in fact, biological productivity would simply stop. The atmosphere would rapidly shift to a reducing state and the planet would begin to look like Mars.

      • “For many people this is a zero sum game (with my emphasis on game), with an inherent belief that the outcome of the game is a zero sum gain.”

        Not everything you depend upon to survive is food. Plants need CO2 to survive like humans need oxygen. Plants use CO2 for respiration. More is not necessarily better (of course, the same is true of food.)

        As Bob said, the dose makes the poison.

      • Whoops! Quoted part should have been:

        “Green plants are dependent on CO2 for survival and thus so are we.”

  8. The Roman warm time was Mitigated by the snows that fell because the oceans were warm and the Arctic was Open. The Medeival warm period was Mitigated by the snows that fell because the oceans were warm and the Arctic was Open. The current warm period is being Mitigated by the snows that are falling because the oceans are warm and the Arctic is Open.
    Here is the link to the NOAA chart I use that shows the snow accumulation does go up and down with Temperature.
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.html
    Every time we get warm we next get cool. Look at NOAA’s data.

    • We know the arctic wasn’t open during the MWP and the Roman period because the lice on the whales were separated, the evidence being their DNA.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        bob droege said
        “We know the arctic wasn’t open during the MWP and the Roman period because the lice on the whales were separated, the evidence being their DNA”
        Sorry, bob, but that does not say what you say it says. Once population splits and becomes several different species, they may either not be able to produce good offspring together, or may simply choose mates from their own population rather than interbreed.
        Your inference ( that geographical separation is the only possible reason ) is not justified by what you said.

  9. those refusing immediate action, do so by increasing demands for certainty.

    I feel this is not the main reason for resistance. I believe the main reason for resistance is that the proposed mitigation policies are stupid. There is no evidence they will achieve anything. However, there is almost certainty they will leave the world much worse off and less able to deal with the risks that do confront us (not just risks of damages due to AGW).

    The case for catastrophic consequences is not persuasive. Therefore, decisions should be based on costs and benefits of proposed policies. On that matter the evidence, IMO, is that the costs of the proposed mitigation policies (like CO2 tax and ETS) will greatly outweigh any benefits.

    No one has yet produced an authoritative study to show that there is a high probability that the economists solution – carbon pricing – will achieve the goals of controlling sea levels, controlling the climate, or reducing floods, storms, droughts and bush fires.

    • However, there is almost certainty they will leave the world much worse off . . .

      Citation needed. Seems a little . . . alarmist.

      • Seems a little . . . alarmist. In this case,justifiably so!
        Look what has already happend to Germany. They plan to close Nuclear power plants and replace them with windmills in the North Sea. They did build the windmills and cannot get the power back into Germany, They are buying power from other countries that use Nuclear and that do have clean power to spare. Our subsidies and tax credits for windmills and solar has killed incentive to build Nuclear and fossil fuel plants and we are on the edge of blackouts. The pain has already begun.

      • I have read in the German press that during the cold spell of winter 2011-2 almost nuclear-free Germany was selling electricity to nuclear- dependent France. The explanation was that a large proportion of domestic and office space heating in France uses electric power, while in Germany direct combustion of carbon fuels (wood, coal, gas) for space heating is more widespread. During very cold weather France cannot keep itself warm without buying electricity.

      • Seems a little . . . alarmist. In this case,justifiably so!

        I’m glad you recognize your alarmism. Let’s see if your fear is justified.

        Look what has already happend to Germany.

        OK:

        US GDP growth rate (2011): 1.7%
        Germany GDP growth rate (2011): 3.0%

        They are growing almost twice as fast as the US. Teh horror.

        US unemployment: 8.3%
        Germany unemployment: 6.8%

        So much for the example of Germany. What other terrible boogeymen can you offer to justify your alarmism?

      • I’d suggest the Duty CAGW zealot needs to do some objective research and try to understand the subject:

        1. Tens of millions of fatalities attributable to DDT ban. A similarly bad policy imposed on the world by progressives and the same sorts of alarmists that have morphed into the CAGW alarmists.

        2. Health, life expectancy and human well-being are dependent on wealth (of countries); and wealth is dependent on energy consumption.
        http://www.gapminder.org/world/
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/16/constructal-gdp/
        http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2010/02/01/climate-2/

        3. Energy consumption is dependent on cost of energy. Low cost energy means more energy consumption (i.e. good for human well being).

        4. Energy efficiency improvements can have only a small and slow effect on reducing energy consumption (understand the implications of the Kaya Identity): http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/reality-check.html (go to the linked pdf)

        5. World’s rate of decarbonisation is slowing; it has has slowed from around 2% pa in 1990 to about 0.7% pa in 2009. http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/decelerating-decarbonization-of-global.html . One reason for the slowing is prescriptive policies that have the opposite effect to what was intended. Fifty years of blocking the development and implementation of low cost nuclear power is one example of why the rate of decarbonisation is slowing, why CO2 emissions are much higher now than they would have been if the development of nuclear had not been blocked, and we are on a much slower trajectory to reduce emissions than we would have been if the ‘Progressives’ had not inhibited progress for the past 50 years or so.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Peter Lang,

        If you do not realise you are the antithesis of an “objective” researcher, you are in trouble! Every one of your 5 “objective” points is utterly non-objective. Citations from Pielke Jr and WUWT are not going to help your claim of being objective. Nor is the presumption that people who argue for decarbonisation also automatically argue against even reasonable DDT use and against nuclear power.

        An economic policy based solely on essentially free but finite sources of energy is not rational in the long term.

      • David Wojick

        Steve, your last sentence does not make much sense, and that goes to the heart of the matter. First, economic policy now is based on what we have now, not some hypothetical future. Second, economic policy does not dictate energy use, quite the opposite. So I have to wonder what you mean by economic policy. Is it government control of production, including energy production, or what?

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        If you do not realise you are the antithesis of an “objective” researcher, you are in trouble! Every one of your 5 “objective” points is utterly non-objective.

        This latest comment from you is pile of belief-ridden rubbish. It does not contain a single argument or any substantiation to support your beliefs. It just restates your beliefs. It demonstrates which of us lacks objectivity.

        However, you already demonstrated that in many previous comments where you demonstrated you haven’t the slightest clue about money, finances, economics, costs v benefits.

        So, frankly, your opinion about policy issues is of negligible value.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Steve, your last sentence does not make much sense, and that goes to the heart of the matter. First, economic policy now is based on what we have now, not some hypothetical future. Second, economic policy does not dictate energy use, quite the opposite. So I have to wonder what you mean by economic policy. Is it government control of production, including energy production, or what?

        It’s a motherhood and apple pie statement to say “more energy means more wealth”. We have a goose laying a golden egg, not a rational economic policy based on a rational scenario. A policy that measures the economy based on the rate at which a finite resource is extracted and burnt cannot be truly rational.

        (Economic policy is often based on hypotheticals – as an actuary. And I don’t know where or why “government control” came into the discussion. I’m saying what is irrational, not what is rational).

      • Steve Milesworthy

        This latest comment from you is pile of belief-ridden rubbish. It does not contain a single argument or any substantiation to support your beliefs.

        You are the one claiming to offer “objective” arguments to Robert – when clearly they are not objective.

        Whether I am displaying my objectivity in my posts is irrelevant unless I wish to *argue* that I am objective – which is what you did.

        The only thing I am countering in the above is your blind faith that evidence that energy=wealth must mean less energy=less wealth (PS I meant to say “*ask* an actuary” not “as an actuary” in my response to David Wojick).

      • Steve Milesworthy,

        You are the one claiming to offer “objective” arguments to Robert – when clearly they are not objective.

        Why not? Because you don’t like it?

        How about you drop the ad hominem comments and make a clear case to try to dispute my statements and supporting documentation in my comment @ August 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        You said:

        Every one of your 5 “objective” points is utterly non-objective.

        Why? What is wrong with them individually and taken together to make the point?

        Citations from Pielke Jr and WUWT are not going to help your claim of being objective.

        Is that your objective statement? So what you are saying is that only the CAGW advocacy sites, Alarmist sites and “politically progressive” sites are acceptable, right?

        Nor is the presumption that people who argue for decarbonisation also automatically argue against even reasonable DDT use and against nuclear power.

        I agree there are exceptions. But the vast majority of “progressives” are CAGW Alarmists AND anti-nuclear, AND pro-renewables no matter what the cost, AND supporters of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests and similar, AND advocated DDT ban, AND economically irrational. Look at the polls and the traffic on the web sites to see for yourself.

        You clearly have no idea about energy, its relation to GDP and GDP’s relation to human well being. Spend a bit of time on the Gapminder link I provided and you could learn a lot (if you have an open mind, which I doubt).

        An economic policy based solely on essentially free but finite sources of energy is not rational in the long term.

        There is lots wrong with this. First, it is a strawman argument. I did not say any such thing. Second, you clearly do not realise that nuclear energy is for all intents and purposes, unlimited. So, there is not shortage of energy. The only problem is costs, and that is largely due to the blocks put on it by the “Progressives” who have blocked progress for 50 years.

        unless I wish to *argue* that I am objective – which is what you did.

        Where?

        Do you always read into a statement what you want to see in it? Do you always misrepresent what others say? Can anything you say be trusted?

        The only thing I am countering in the above is your blind faith that evidence that energy=wealth must mean less energy=less wealth.

        If you don’t recognise that you are living in dreamland.

        If you are an example of the sort of person who is looking after the data to support the CAGW scare campaign, no wonder we are in such a mess.

      • Dr T Erribly Dull

        Peter Lang,

        A better example of argumentum ad hominem is

        I’d suggest the Duty CAGW zealot needs to do some objective research and try to understand the subject:

        My comment to you was not true ad hominem because I was commenting on your lack of perception of your lack of objectivity, not on your arguments per se. You are of course entitled to put forward your arguments. You are not entitled to criticise other people for not being objective when you yourself are not objective.

        In short, I don’t think any of your 5 points spoke directly to Robert’s position.

        1. Joshua dealt nicely with your DDT example. But it is irrelevant to the discussion.
        2. Energy sources are a form of wealth, and we can choose to waste it or to use it sensibly. If we use it sensibly we are happier for longer. Which leads to:
        3. Shows no understanding of economics. There is no such thing as “low cost energy” because energy resources significantly underpin our wealth (ie our ability to pay our debts by making new stuff)! Energy that costs less *money* just means that we *think* it is worth less. As the cost of energy goes up the incentive to use it more efficiently also rises which raises the benefit you get from it. Clearly there is a balance to be had.
        4. May be true, but whether energy efficiency is hard or not doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and doesn’t help you if the economic assessments such as Nordhaus or Stern are correct in saying that failure to try is economically damaging in the long run.
        5. Possibly, but again it says nothing to Robert’s position. Also, there is no amorphous “progressive” group that is anti-nuclear and anti-fossil, and no single set of anti-nuclear arguments. You could be anti-nuclear for fears of contamination (citing the Japanese experience), you could be antinuclear because you distrust the way the nuclear waste problem is being handled. You could be anti-nuclear because you think it is more expensive than claimed, and less environmentally beneficial than claimed. You could be anti-nuclear because you know the massive subsidies required to get nuclear going will draw funds away from what you think is the real solution to too much CO2.

        Nothing you said recognises Robert’s obvious concern that we are putting our current wealth above the wealth of future generations, by burning all the wealth in a mad consumerist flurry, by not investing enough in alternative sources of wealth and by leaving future generations to put their far more limited means into continuous “adaptation” as the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets melt away and the ecosystems readjust to higher temperatures, overrunning of coastal regions and reduced ocean pH.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Sorry, Dr T Erribly Dull is me. I was having a joke with Latimer yesterday. I don’t use sock puppets as clearly I’d be as bad as Latimer/Stirling at it in forgetting to correct the name in the box before I posted.

      • Peter –

        1. Tens of millions of fatalities attributable to DDT ban. A similarly bad policy imposed on the world by progressives and the same sorts of alarmists that have morphed into the CAGW alarmists.

        Please show evidence for this claim, made categorically, with control for the clearly established problem of resistance in mosquitoes when DDT is not used in a highly controlled manner. While you’re at it, please explain why, in some areas where DDT continued to be used widely, malaria was not effectively controlled. You should know that there are sophisticated epidemiological studies that completely undermine your statement.

        There are valid arguments to be made that the DDT “ban” (a vague description in this case that effectively becomes a polemic when used as you just did) was not an optimal approach to either eliminating malaria or dealing with the potential problems of DDT. There are things to be learned about how to deal better with these kinds of issues with public health situations going forward. Unfortunately, promoting facile reasoning to serve a partisan agenda, such as you have just done, is entirely counterproductive in that regard.

      • Please show evidence for your claims.

        There are things to be learned about how to deal better with these kinds of issues with public health situations going forward.

        You got that bit right. Perhaps you can apply what you should have learned to the other ideologically based advocacy you and your ilk do. You could start with your unquestioning beliefs of the proposed mitigation policies for CAGW. You could look into your irrational beliefs in renewable energy and general opposition to economically rational policy.

        Unfortunately, promoting facile reasoning to serve a partisan agenda, such as you do continually, is entirely counterproductive.

      • Peter –

        You made a claim – that a “ban” on DDT, singularly, was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions.

        There is a valid argument to be made – that restrictions on the misuse of DDT for agricultural purposes had unintended consequences for its proper use, and resulted in situations where DDT was used less than it might have been used in optimal ways – as one of a variety of techniques for combating malaria. Your claim is a far cry from that valid argument.

        Unfortunately, the argument that you made w/r/t DDT is a specious one. So are your contentions based on assumptions about what I do or don’t believe, that you’ve made without having asked me questions to acquire that information.

        So how about we go back to your first specious argument, and then after that we can deal with your second specious argument?

        Please show evidence for your claims that your contentions about the “ban” on DDT take into account the well-established data on mosquito resistance.

      • “2. Energy sources are a form of wealth, and we can choose to waste it or to use it sensibly. If we use it sensibly we are happier for longer.”

        Water, food, toilet paper are forms of wealth.
        You seem to think wasted energy is a significant problem. A major problem, whereas I think many more important issues of what
        someone may or may regard as wasted as opposed to being used for various useful purposes. I don’t think not wasting energy [however you define it] is a significant issue.
        What seems far more important is finding more energy and using
        energy available at the moment. There is thousands of years of nuclear energy, and there is hundreds of years of chemical energy [oil, natural gas, etc].
        There is unlimited amounts of energy, issue being finding means to use them cheaply. Hoarding energy and rationing it is worse future than surrendering to a tyrant.
        Our sights should towards the stars in the vast universe, you seem want return to the caves.

    • Peter, please keep hammering this point home. It’s the winning argument. No reasonable person without an agenda could possibly support plunging the entire industrial world into a profound economic depression which relying on wind and solar would certainly do. Once again, it’s telling that this is the solution, along with carbon taxes, most often proposed and is the real reason there is so much acrimony involved in the debate. If you want to spend money on mitigation, have some real confidence in science and spend it on developing technologies that will end up promoting prosperity.

      Jim

      • Thank you Jim. I’ll keep on trying to get people to take the policy decisions more seriously.

        No reasonable person without an agenda could possibly support plunging the entire industrial world into a profound economic depression

        You are dead right about that. If we do not have a cost competitive alternative to fossil fuels than the only variable in the Kaya Identity that we can cut is GDP growth rate. That is exactly what carbon pricing will do to get CO2 emissions down. It will cut GDP growth rate – to seriously negative!. To achieve Australia’s proposed CO2 emissions targets of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020 would require a deep depression for 8 years

        To achieve the proposed 50% cuts by 2050 for the whole world – without a cont competitive alternative to fossil fuels – would require a 38 year long, world wide, very deep, depression.

        Readers can work this out themselves from the Kaya Identity:
        http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com.au/2011/02/reality-check.html

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Peter Lang: I believe the main reason for resistance is that the proposed mitigation policies are stupid.

      May I recommend “ill-considered” for “stupid”? I think that careful consideration shows that the costs of proposed actions to reduce CO2 emissions outweigh the benefits; and that is assuming that they have any benefit at all, which they may not.

      • Matt,

        Thanks. Good point. I’ll try to remember to use that wording in future.

        I need an editor :)

      • Steve Milesworthy

        I think that careful consideration shows that the costs of proposed actions to reduce CO2 emissions outweigh the benefits

        Well insulated houses (in cooler countries) cost little more to build, use less energy, reduce fuel poverty, are more healthy to live in…

        Efficiencies of engines has improved due to tax incentives – people love their little cars, they don’t need or want to drive old fashioned unreliable monstrosities.

        Efficiency of white goods in the UK are radically higher than they were 10 years ago due to energy ratings. Wasteful use of energy by products in “standby” has been radically reduced.

        Cost of carbon has doubled or tripled in the last few years. Despite the banking disasters, the world economy is managing to hold itself together – just. Economic alarmism about carbon charges has no evidential basis.

        A few small examples to show that your over-generalised point is wrong. I guess I could also point to the Nordhaus analysis which is presumably “careful” unless you are accusing him of being slapdash.

      • Well insulated houses (in cooler countries) cost little more to build, use less energy, reduce fuel poverty, are more healthy to live in…

        You make it sound like that’s something which was only discovered yesterday. Most houses in cooler countries have been insulated for a very long time, the exceptions being largely very old houses occupied by those who don’t have the money to insulate them.

        Efficiencies of engines has improved due to tax incentives

        I take it you don’t have an engineering background. Tell you what, get one of those cars with a fuel consumption meter, check how much fuel you use under various conditions, and get back to me in a few months. Tip: in real-life conditions, cars get nowhere near their advertised consumption figures.

        people love their little cars, they don’t need or want to drive old fashioned unreliable monstrosities.

        They drive what they can afford, and they will hang on to their old bangers rather than spend thousands they can ill-afford just in order to save a few quid a month on fuel.

        Efficiency of white goods in the UK are radically higher than they were 10 years ago due to energy ratings.

        Do you have any idea what a tiny proportion of total energy use is down to white goods?

        Wasteful use of energy by products in “standby” has been radically reduced.

        …and once more, much ado about next to nothing

        …the world economy is managing to hold itself together – just. Economic alarmism about carbon charges has no evidential basis

        Just wait until the rolling power cuts start, as they inevitably will. And it’s still going to be a while before we start realising the full economic costs of our exporting most of our industry to places like China. And a lot of people – like me – are already seriously hurting.

      • I might add… you might also want to check the fuel consumption of lorries against that of cars.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        Most houses in cooler countries have been insulated for a very long time, the exceptions being largely very old houses occupied by those who don’t have the money to insulate them.

        My current house is 10 years old and costs less than half what my previous house cost to heat. Yet its insulation standards are still phenomenally poor compared with the most recent building standards. There was no justification for continuing with poor standards for so many years except a desire not to dent the massive profits the building industry has made by making them do their jobs properly.

        They drive what they can afford, and they will hang on to their old bangers rather than spend thousands they can ill-afford just in order to save a few quid a month on fuel.

        And eventually they will change their car and buy a highly reliable small older car with low fuel economy.

        Do you have any idea what a tiny proportion of total energy use is down to white goods?

        I know what my proportion is. I suspect that you don’t. The main point is that it all counts (including the cost of replacing and repairing unreliable white goods). The other point is that I am undermining alarmist concerns about the increasing cost of fuel. Doubling costs are not so important if you can reduce your usage by half (which is what I have done over the past few years) without even affecting your life.

        I take it you don’t have an engineering background. Tell you what, get one of those cars with a fuel consumption meter, check how much fuel you use under various conditions, and get back to me in a few months. Tip: in real-life conditions, cars get nowhere near their advertised consumption figures.

        No I have a physics background. Yes my car gets close to its advertised fuel economy – it has an ongoing meter which is pretty accurate as I do the arithmetic every time I fill up. I can do around 75mpg on a motorway compared with the “combined cycle figures of 56mpg, and typically do 52mpg with a mixture of urban and motorway driving.

        “Which” consumer magazine do independent tests of all cars and confirm that cars get close to their advertised fuel economy – which is much better than the advertised fuel economy of 10 years ago.

        I could go on…

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Steve Milesworthy: A few small examples to show that your over-generalised point is wrong. I guess I could also point to the Nordhaus analysis which is presumably “careful” unless you are accusing him of being slapdash.

        Those examples don’t come close to reducing CO2 by the amounts and timelines recommended by, for example, James Hansen. The economic analysis is totally different if you allow enough time to make the transition away from fossil fuels. The big economic uncertainties are: can the transition away from fossil fuels be done economically before the fossil fuels run out? will there be any benefit from the reduction of CO2 per se? If the world persists in its ongoing investments of time, effort, and intelligence in the development of alternatives (including cutting the costs of mass production), then the transition to a fossil-fuel free energy economy over a 100 year time span does not impose much of a hardship on the world. To do it in 20 years would probably impose an economic cost vastly exceeding the value of the return — and that’s assuming that it actually worked to reduce atmospheric CO2, and that the reduction of atmospheric CO2 prevented subsequent warming.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        That’s why I said they were “small examples” intended to rebut your general point that the costs outweigh the benefit. Making such general points undermines the efforts of people making easy wins, which often lead to bigger wins as people put their minds to it.

      • Turning off the lights when we leave the room and improving home insulation are good ideas for several reasons, but these actions will not impact global warming perceptibly.

        There have been woefully few specific actionable proposals for reducing CO2 emissions sufficiently to achieve a perceptible reduction of global warming by 2100.

        Four that come to mind are:

        a) the Hansen et al. proposal to shut down all coal-fired power plants
        http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2010/2010_Kharecha_etal.pdf

        b) a roll-out of the above plan to the entire world

        c) a WWF proposal to shut down a majority of the fossil fuel fired plants and replace them with “renewable” energy sources
        http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/climate_carbon_energy/energy_solutions/renewable_energy/sustainable_energy_report/

        d) a proposal to install carbon capture and storage for half of all new coal-fired plants as posted by Rutt Bridges on this site:
        http://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/rutt_bridges_article.pdf

        The Hansen et al. paper tells us that 1,994 billion kWh/year were generated from coal in 2009 and that the average CO2 emission is 1,000 tons CO2 per GWh generated.

        So by 2030 Hansen’s plan would reduce CO2 emissions by roughly 2 GtCO2 per year.

        Based on past measurements, roughly half of this “stays” in the atmosphere (with the rest disappearing into the ocean, the biosphere or outer space) so the annual reduction after 2030 will be around 1 GtCO2/year and over the period from today to year 2100 the cumulative reduction would be 80.5 GtCO2.

        The mass of the atmosphere is 5,140,000 Gt.

        So the net reduction in atmospheric CO2 would be around 16 ppm(mass) or 10 ppmv.

        If we assume (as IPCC does) that by year 2100 the atmospheric CO2 level (without Hansen’s plan) will be around 600 ppmv (“scenario B1”), this means that with Hansen’s plan it will be 590 ppmv.

        Today we have 390 ppmv.

        Using IPCC’s 2xCO2 climate sensitivity of 3.2C we have:

        Case 1 – no Hansen plan
        600 ppmv CO2
        ln(600/390) = 0.431
        ln(2) = 0.693
        dT (warming from today to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.431 / 0.693 = 1.99C

        Case 2 – Hansen plan implemented
        590 ppmv CO2
        ln(590/390) = 0.414
        ln(2) = 0.693
        dT (warming from today to 2100) = 3.2 * 0.414 / 0.693 = 1.91C

        So Hansen’s plan will result in a total theoretical reduction of global temperature by year 2100 of 0.08C.

        But what will this non-measurable reduction of global temperature cost?

        The total, all-in capital cost investment to replace 1,994 billion kWh/year capacity with the least expensive alternate (current nuclear fission technology) is between $4,000 and $8,000 per installed kW (say $6,000 on average). [Note: If we replace it with wind or solar, it will cost significantly more, due primarily to the low on-line factor.]
        1,994 billion kWh/year at a 90% on-line factor represents an installed capacity of:
        1994 / 8760 * .9 = 0.251 billion kWh

        This equals an investment cost of 0.251 * 6,000 = $1.5 trillion

        Globally some 6,700 billion kWh/year are generated from coal (around 3.4 times as much as in the USA).

        So shutting down all the world’s coal-fired plants by 2030 would cost $5 trillion and result in 0.27C reduced warming by year 2100.

        I think it is pretty obvious why Hansen and his co-authors do not run us through this cost/benefit analysis.

        The other specific proposals do not look any better:

        The WWF proposal c) is even goofier.

        Here we end up with a cost of $12.7 trillion now for a theoretical reduction in global warming by 2100 of 0.6°C.

        Worst of all is the proposal d) to install carbon capture and storage:

        This proposal shows a theoretical reduction in warming by 2100 of 0.36°C at a cost of $17.3 trillion.

        A summary of the cost/benefit for the proposals is shown graphically here:
        http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6112/6208819043_0931707315_b.jpg

        As can be seen the theoretical global temperature impact by 2100 ist between 0.02 and 0.05°C per $trillion of investment.

        There are a lot of smarter things to do with this money IMO (also Bjørn Lomborg’s) than pour it down this rathole.

        Max

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Manacker, thanks for the computations.

        I think that the rational way forward is to continue to invest R&D in the developments of alternatives to fossil fuels, simultaneously investing in increased American extraction of fossil fuels, and continue to invest in energy efficiency. Nothing remotely effective at reducing CO2 can be done quickly, and 20 years from now alternatives will be much cheaper than now, and probably commercially competitive without subsidies. Each year some part of the energy industry must be replaced, and over the next 100 years the whole thing has to be replaced about twice. All the calculations will be changing during that time as new technologies are developed and prices are reduced.

      • “Manacker, thanks for the computations.”

        Many better-informed people have made those calculations — Tol, Nordhaus, et al — and they lack the glaring errors above.

    • k scott denison

      +1. Thank you Peter.

      When someone can put a $ figure on what it would cost to reduce global mean temp by 1 degree then we can have a cogent discussion about cost and benefits. Until then, there is nothing to discuss.

      I’m not holding my breath, mind you.

      • K. Scott Dennison,

        Thank you. By the way, here is the source for the $10 cost for an expected $1 saving (but the costs will be much higher and the benefits cannot be realised because the assumptions that underpin the modelling cannot be achieved):
        http://jennifermarohasy.com/2012/06/what-the-carbon-tax-and-ets-will-really-cost-peter-lang/

      • k.scott denison

        When someone can put a $ figure on what it would cost to reduce global mean temp by 1 degree then we can have a cogent discussion about cost and benefits.

        See above post for cost/benefit of 4 specific actionable proposals.

        These show a cost of between $19 and $48 trillion today per theoretical degree C global warming averted by year 2100.

        Max

      • “These show a cost of between $19 and $48 trillion today per theoretical degree C global warming averted by year 2100.”

        And could far cheaper ways to reduce CO2.
        A solar shade should cost less than a trillion- maybe 100 billion.
        Fertilization ocean could cost be less than trillion.
        So 1/20th or less the cost to lower global temperature by 1 C.
        Or reduce CO2 by encouraging a life processes sequestrating CO2
        on the ocean bottom.

      • “When someone can put a $ figure on what it would cost to reduce global mean temp by 1 degree then we can have a cogent discussion about cost and benefits. Until then, there is nothing to discuss.”

        Of course I am assuming that the discussion about the cost/benefits of reducing the mean global temperature by one degree would come AFTER the cost/benefit analysis that shows that reducing the mean global temperature by one degree is a ‘Good Thing’.

        In all my lurking on ‘Climate Change’ blogs I seem to have missed the part where the perfect ‘Annual Temperature of the Earth’ was determined, who or what collection of whos made the determination, and what factors were considered in making it.

        Not being a climate scientist I may be more than a bit naive, but it would seem to me that prior to expending a few trillion dollars and bringing our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt in the attempt to adjust the temperature of the entire planet we should at least have a target temperature and a pretty iron clad analysis that shows exactly WHY that specific temperature IS the target.

      • Warmer can very easily be shown to be better than cooler. This whole fiasco is backwards.
        ===============

      • andrew adams

        Warmer can very easily be shown to be better than cooler.

        That’s a meaningless statement. Warmer than what? Cooler than what? By how much?

      • “That’s a meaningless statement.”

        Andrew, meet kim.

      • “expending a few trillion dollars and bringing our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt”

        When someone can show me evidence that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will “bring[] our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt,” then we will have something to discuss.

        Lacking any basis for the assertion, the wails from the fainting couch are not persuasive.

      • Robert writes:

        “Lacking any basis for the assertion, the wails from the fainting couch are not persuasive.”

        Very similar to the assertions that a warmer world is worse overall for the US over the long term

      • “When someone can show me evidence that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will “bring[] our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt,” then we will have something to discuss.”

        Technically, ‘reducing greenhouse gas emissions’ would accurately describe cutting our consumption by one gallon of petroleum, one cubic foot of natural gas, one ton of coal, or all of the above and I will certainly not argue that such reductions will ‘bring our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt’.

        On the other, hand what is actively being discussed as a requirement to stave off climate disaster is implementing mandatory reductions by 50%. Or more. If you have some reason to believe that we can cut our use of fossil fuels by 50% or more and NOT bring our technical civilization to a screeching halt, I would be interested in the details of your ‘no impact on civilization’ reduction plan.

      • Very similar to the assertions that a warmer world is worse overall for the US over the long term

        We eagerly await your argument that the radical warming of the Earth’s climate you propose is safe.

        So far, you’ve ducked the responsibility to meet your burden, which does not inspire confidence.

        Of course the damage function of global warming both globally and in different regions has been studied intensively, and is the subject of hundreds if not thousands of peer-reviewed studies, not based on “assertions.” Should we presume by your confusion on this point that you are stone ignorant of all this research?

        Remember that your ignorance is not a superpower.

      • Technically, ‘reducing greenhouse gas emissions’ would accurately describe cutting our consumption by one gallon of petroleum, one cubic foot of natural gas, one ton of coal, or all of the above and I will certainly not argue that such reductions will ‘bring our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt’.

        I’m glad to see you’ve grasped the essential absurdity of denialist panic over this.

        On the other, hand what is actively being discussed as a requirement to stave off climate disaster is implementing mandatory reductions by 50%. Or more.

        What kind of mandatory reductions? Who is “discussing” it? You’re being very vague.

        If you have some reason to believe that we can cut our use of fossil fuels by 50% or more and NOT bring our technical civilization to a screeching halt, I would be interested in the details of your ‘no impact on civilization’ reduction plan.

        Again, I asked for evidence for the assertion that cutting emissions would “bring our energy dependent civilization to a screeching halt.” You have provided zero, zilch, nada to prove that and instead are saying “Prove that it won’t”*.

        Sorry, that doesn’t fly. Prove your assertion, or at least provide some evidence for it.

        ———————-

        * As if you didn’t have enough fallacies cluttering up your prose, you also move the goalposts: from “bring[ing] our technical civilization to a screeching halt” to “no impact.” If your argument hadn’t already floundered, this fallacy would sink it.

      • Interesting how Robert can not provide any valid evidence that a warmer world is worse for the US overall over the long term but he demands evidence to show that a reduction in fossil fuel use would harm the economy before he will accept the premise.

        See any double standard there?

      • Interesting how Robert can not provide any valid evidence . . .

        Oh, but that’s not quite right. I could provide all kinds of evidence, but I decline to relieve you of the burden of proving your own argument.

        Why should I reward your cowardice? You made the assertion of safety; you provide evidence for it. That’s how it works.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Robert, I can’t see where you are making any statements, either proposals or critiques. Over the last few thousand years of Earthly temperature fluctuations, including times that were warmer than now, crop yields and other pro-human indices were better than they are now; links to evidence have been provided from time to time. Are you denying that? All such evidence suggests that future warming will be beneficial, except for the most extreme of scenarios from models that to date are inaccurate. Our energy-dependent civilization uses fossil fuels in lots of productive ways, from making our communication technoligies (like this) to powering them and making and transporting fertilizer, and transporting crops. A rapid reduction in CO2 emissions everywhere requires that almost all of that come to an end. You are not disputing the claim that ending those fossil fuel uses would bring our civilization to a screeching halt are you? Perhaps you object to the word “screeching”, because all the jet airliners would silently sit where they last parked.

        The key is in the word “rapid”. What James Hansen advocates can’t be achieved without bringing our energy dependent civilization to a halt. He wants too much, too soon. Replacing the fossil fuels with alternatives over a time span of 100 years will probably enhance civilization, compared to the alternative of neglecting to develop alternatives. Even Steve Milesworthy’s “baby steps” approach (baby steps is my nomenclature) will work if given enough time. Time is what the alarmists say we don’t have: Hansen fears for his grandchildren if we do not do everything almost at once.

      • Over the last few thousand years of Earthly temperature fluctuations, including times that were warmer than now, crop yields and other pro-human indices were better than they are now; links to evidence have been provided from time to time. Are you denying that?

        You’ll have to do a little better than “links to evidence have been provided from time to time.” Feel free to link again.

        While you’re at it, define “pro-human indices.” Be rigorous.

        Also do not neglect to prove your assertion that the periods you allude to were “warmer than now.” What periods specifically, and what is your evidence they were warmer than today?

        “crop yields . . . were better than they are now”

        Crop yields higher than today? Be sure you link to that.

        All such evidence suggests that future warming will be beneficial, except for the most extreme of scenarios from models that to date are inaccurate.

        Nope, that’s incorrect. I suggest you look at what the economics literature has to say on the subject:

        http://theidiottracker.blogspot.com/2011/12/minor-myths-do-some-economists-think.html

        Our energy-dependent civilization uses fossil fuels in lots of productive ways, from making our communication technoligies (like this) to powering them and making and transporting fertilizer, and transporting crops. A rapid reduction in CO2 emissions everywhere requires that almost all of that come to an end. You are not disputing the claim that ending those fossil fuel uses would bring our civilization to a screeching halt are you?

        Prove the bolded statement, please. First, define what you mean by “rapid.” Then sort of flesh out why, specifically, you think humans are incapable of adapting to a change in their energy mix. In France, for example, about 75% of their electricity comes from nuclear energy. Yet they still seem to be quite civilized.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Robert you’re aware that you said it floundered ?
        “If your argument hadn’t already floundered, this fallacy would sink it.”

      • While I could argue that the argument did indeed “move clumsily, thrash about,” and “proceed in confusion” you’re quite correct that I did not intend to mix my metaphors, but meant to say “founder.”

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        Robert: First, define what you mean by “rapid.” Then sort of flesh out why, specifically, you think humans are incapable of adapting to a change in their energy mix. In France, for example, about 75% of their electricity comes from nuclear energy. Yet they still seem to be quite civilized.

        Lots of good points. For “rapid”, I already referred to James Hansen’s desire to spare his grand children from AGW. That can’t be done (if his projections about temperature change are accurate) without dramatically reducing other human wealth related to fossil fuels.

        Like you, I am a strong supporter of nuclear energy, including France’s Super Fenix (sp?) technology that America is not developing. It doesn’t move the freight or the passengers, and it is capital intensive besides. Building enough of them to generate sufficient fuel, in the lifetimes of Hansen’s grandchildren, for transport in the US would rob the economy of the labor and investment needed for everything else. The economy would whimper, not screech, to a halt.

        For the others, later. There is solid support for all of them, except for the fact that, in industrialized nations, crop breeding and manufactured fertilizers have increased crop yields as the Earth has warmed since the MIA, making some comparisons less relevant.

        Do you have proposals in mind for reducing CO2 concentrations in time to spare Hansen’s grandchildren (or some other time and magnitude ideas) that you’d like to share? If China sustains its current investment trends long enough, China may be free of fossil fuel use by 2112. Do that magnitude of effort and that time span satisfy you? On present trends (caveat: a trend lasts until it unpredictably ends), the US will be free of fossil fuels much sooner, even with higher GDP per person than now, a little earlier than that. For you, is that soon enough? Or are in favor of efforts and time spans advocated by James Hansen.

        Don’t be modest or passive-aggressive. Tell us what you’d like to see. Pretend that you are writing for an audience of yourselves, and require specificity and definiteness.

  10. “In all PNS situations it is almost always the case the one side sees the need for action, given the truth of their theory, while the doubters must of necessity see no need for immediate action.”

    This is demonstrably false in the case of CAGW. Many conservatives, from Margaret Thatcher to Mitt Romney to Sarah Palin, initially accepted the “consensus” on “global warming.” It was the emerging evidence that science was again being used to push a progressive agenda that led to them revisiting their opinions.

    And there is nothing “post normal” about the hijacking of science for a political agenda. The political aspect is clear in the proffered definition:

    1. Facts are uncertain.

    But

    4. Immediate action is required.

    How do you know that immediate action is required if the facts are uncertain? If you are being guided by science, you don’t. If you have a political agenda, no problem.

    There is science, which is a method. There is integrity, which is a moral value. And there is political ideology, which is a set of moral values. When one’s political ideology overrides one’s integrity, you get what now is being labelled post normal science.

    PNS is just a rationalization for lack of integrity. I have decided immediate action is required, therefore that negates my obligation to be honest. The end justifies the means. PNS is just politics by another name.

    • How do you know that immediate action is required if the facts are uncertain?

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/opinion/sunday/dowd-the-boy-who-wanted-to-fly.html

      • Yes, global warming that is melting plastic street lights is exactly the same as a young boy contracting an infection and dying because of the incompetence of doctors. If only the government ran health care….

      • …more than it already does.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        GaryM: global warming that is melting plastic street lights

        Are you being ironic?

      • I don’t think so.

      • NeedleFactory

        Yes, GaryM is being ironic, but his melting metaphor is recent “news”: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/08/02/630211/in-oklahoma-its-so-hot-the-street-lights-are-melting/

      • MattStat

        Yes.

        I notice that the SS article linked to by NeedleFactory has been sanitized. It still has a photo of the melted street light, but for some reason they chose not to include the pic of the dumpster fire below the light that caused the melting. WUWT has a copy of the fire in progress.

        You can’t make this stuff up.

      • “the incompetence of doctors”

        Denialist trolls are so predictable. Trying to fake climate science expertise, they have no hesitation in claim to be experts in every other field. Now Gary’s an expert in medicine.

        Sometimes it’s impossible to be angry with them. They’re just sad little children playing make-believe.

      • k scott denison

        So Robert, your analogy is a FAIL.

        First, in the analogy we KNOW that super bugs exist and that they CAN be treated. We know NEITHER about cAGW.

        Second, in the analogy, we KNOW the symptoms of super bug infections and can OBSERVE them directly. We don’t KNOW the symptoms of cAGW and MANY of our OBSERVATIONS so no unusual warming.

        So exactly what was your point?

      • k scott denison

        ps: we KNOW that super bugs exist because we have OBSERVED them in the past. We have NO observations of runaway warming caused by CO2.

      • “So Robert, your analogy is a FAIL.”

        Are there any non-morons who think so? Jus’ asking. ;)\

        “First, in the analogy we KNOW that super bugs exist”

        Streptococcus is not a “superbug.” It’s what you have when you get strep throat. Jesus, you are really a weapons-grade idiot.

        “We know NEITHER about cAGW.”

        Because, of course, “cAGW” is a fake theory climate deniers invented when denying plain old AGW got to be too humiliating.

        So what exactly was your point?

      • Robert, what is *your* point? You comment with the frequency of someone who needs to get a life.

        Andrew

    • You beat me to it, Gary M. You are correct that the 4 characteristics are logically inconsistent.

      3 should be “Stakes MAY high.”
      4 should be “Immediate action MAY be required.”

      • Steven Mosher

        yes jim I tried to keep it short. If you read my other stuff you will see how I talk about the perception of the need for immediate action.

        Although as MT points out sometime the need for action is motivated by uncertainty around facts.

        Since you are in a PNS situation, you must of course deny it.
        You deny the need for action by pointing to uncertainty.

        Yet, in the practice of science in this area what do we find.
        We find people who ordinarily are patient and careful, rushing results out.

        Something trumped the quest for truth. what was it.

        I know, the alarmists did it first. muller did it first.

        basically Im calling everyone in this debate a denialist. ouch. that will make me popular.

      • Maybe we could add a #5. If we take the most commonly recommended actions advocated by, shall we say, the “main stream” climate science, it will be hugely costly. #5 would be a certainty, while #3 is uncertain. Certainty vs uncertainty. It seems that imbalance would also be noted in the PNS scenario for climate science.

        As to the rushing out of papers, I’m ambivalent. As a non-scientist, at least I get to read the paper without coughing up $30 or even worse a journal sub. Another plus is the crowd sourcing, even though the capable element of the crowd is small, it is significant. But then, the papers haven’t been peer reviewed. The fact that the papers were released before that doesn’t preclude that. Another negative is parties from both sides of the issue embarrassed themselves to some extent. But all-in-all, this has been a good experience.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        mosher says:

        “yes jim I tried to keep it short. If you read my other stuff you will see how I talk about the perception of the need for immediate action.”

        IMO, more likely a Freudian slip that demonstrates some bias…

        After all,

        “Stakes are high” isn’t much “shorter” than “Stakes may be high”

        and

        “Immediate action is required” isn’t much shorter than “Immediate action may be required”.

        Saved a total of what, 7 characters include spaces?

      • It’s post bormal prose.

      • normal, not bormal. Typos just kill the effect of sarcasm.

      • Steven Mosher

        because it not that simple.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        “because it [sic] not that simple”

        lost me there.

      • “Im calling everyone in this debate a denialist”
        Including yourself?

      • “basically Im calling everyone in this debate a denialist. ouch. that will make me popular.” I deny only only criterion number 4, the need for immediate action. I agree completely with the rest of them. Not sure what kind of denialist that makes me.

      • Let me make that stronger. 1-3 are blindingly obvious to me if you ignore the vagueness of “high stakes”. 4 has no scientific or logical merit, at least from what I’ve seen so far.

      • As I make clear below I particularly liked this line Dagfinn and I hate the original use of denier for any of us who question CAGW dogma in any way, a new coinage which not only alluded to but depended on the odious category of Holocaust denier.

        Mosher can’t possibly here be using denialist in that perverted way, because he is talking about all of us. He is for me describing our propensity not to face up to reality that is uncomfortable, in line with ‘being in denial’ in normal English usage. I thought he’d made this point very well in the original piece and in the usual tumult below.

        What can be a hard line to draw is where to put up one’s hand and accept one’s own frailty, in common with the mass of human beings, and where the only rational focus is to stand up to something that is genuinely dangerous and evil. The Social Democrats in Weimar Germany had their weaknesses but to have equated them with the Nazis would have been foolish and wrong. Same with the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks come to that.

        But then I was never taught that moral courage would be easy.

      • Dagfinn,

        There are two very different interpretations of number 4.

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/03/post-normal-science-deadlines/#comment-225536

        My impression is that Mosher’s interpretation (and perhaps also that of Ravetz) is the one that I describe in that comment. That makes number 4 as obvious as the other three.

      • Pekka,

        Excellent point, I had missed that. I see that the “may be required”, above, also points in that direction. But it really needs to be made explicit. And there is still a conceptual problem. It doesn’t fit into the generalization “being denied by both sides”.

        BTW, my point is not that I’m bothered by the “denialist” label, especially since I’ve discussed the labeling and stereotyping issue with Mosher before, and I believe we agree on it.

  11. Post Normal Science is a myth. This sort of decision making was routine in WWII.

    • It’s routine in many fields. The question is not whether it is a new phenomenon, but whether it is a useful new description of something which has long existed.

      I have tended to think it’s not useful, but I’m reconsidering.

      • Paul Vaughan

        The rigor feasibility landscape’s a heterogeneous patchwork. Even in operationally challenging branches of fields, at least some fundamentals can be investigated rigorously. An example of an ignored certain element of climate:
        http://i49.tinypic.com/2jg5tvr.png (solar modulation of terrestrial westerly winds from LOD). The observation serves as a line in the sand to test who will admit 1+1=2 to the discussion. Blanket application of PNS romanticism & incrementalism to climate science is inaccurate. Confronting & mapping the distribution of human ignorance &/or deception is painful but worthwhile work.

    • Jim,

      For once I tend to agree with you. Except, WWII was no different in this regard either.

      Governments, businesses, and individuals routinely have to make decisions based on available evidence of risk, which is often much sparser than desirable.

      In business one golden rule is to never, except in the most final of last resorts, put the business itself on the line over one particular risk. Even if there is only a 1% risk of that happening and the rewards seem quite tempting, don’t do it. You might get away with it once but sooner or later you won’t.

      With climate, the risks of serious climate damage from inaction on CO2 emissions is more like 90% not 1%. Its a crazy gamble to take.

  12. Dave Springer

    Speaking of WWII…

    • From the DSM -Wattsuphobia – a malady afflicting CAGW zealots that manifests itself any time they read anything written by Anthony Watts that conflicts with their dogma, resulting in a profusion of blog posts and spittle on monitors across the land,

    • I’m a sucker for anything in a Hitler Rant but that is great! Thanks very much.

    • Steven Mosher

      yes, they released the study only to withdraw it.
      Yes, they thought immediate action was required.
      Yes, normally patient and careful people , rushed the results out without double checking. There was no red team review. no attempt internally to challenge the approach..

      They basically violated precepts they encourage others to follow.
      Oh, and they didnt post data.

      And folks will say mommy mommy the climate scientists did it first.
      which means few take responsiblity for their own actions.

    • Bullet proof? That’s a hilarious claim. His paper is getting shredded. So they have it backwards. Watt allows in bullets like a WW2 75mm halftrack – the purple heart boxes of North Africa.

  13. Sadly, normal science has bad rap music too. :-)

  14. Imo, the way out of this kind of gridlock is moving back to the basics of science, not away from them. Open data, reproducibility, clarity.

    I think the thing that ruined climate science is the same thing that ruined journalism – money. Turn down that spigot and science will emerge again. It’s hard to pursue the truth when no one involved actually wants to find it – sometimes it’s almost like watching those olympic badminton matches.

    Until the money moves elsewhere, we can only insist on openness, and call out people from either side making false claims, or claims without backup. And quietly grind our teeth.

  15. An excellent post. However, why do we dignify bad science and questionable ethical behavior by calling it PNS? As scientists, we have a responsibility to condemn anti-scientific behavior. If we don’t stand up against perversions of science, then we will stand for anything, and our science as nothing but prattling in the marketplace.

  16. In the examples given, I struggle to differentiate between a scientific reaction to a situation and the politicization of science imposed by external factors.

    Deadlines have been crucial in scientific issues within living memory on other subjects–think the struggle for an effective treatment for AIDS (and the rather titanic fight for glory between Gallo and others working on it). The rising death toll imposed external demands on the science.

    Think the UK’s approach to dealing with BSE, proclaimed by their scientific establishment to threaten hundreds of thousands of Britons with slow and agonizing death. This affected the science and condemned 8 million cows to death by firing squad and the humans who owned them to different ways of making a living. Politics drove this one as well.

    Is it a distinction without a difference or am I missing something? (Nice piece, by the way.)

    • Steven Mosher

      Thanks Tom.

      I think one of the weaknesses is the over idealizing of normal science that I did here. As always there is a spectrum.

      Lets take AIDS It looks like a PNS situation to me. And they even have their own denialists.

      go take a look Gallo.

      • A fan of *MORE* discord

        Bad example. In the case of AIDS, there was no serious dispute that the disease exists.The dispute was over how much of a danger it posed to the general population (as opposed to specific subpopulations) and what could be done about it.

        An interesting wrinkle of AIDS was that it did catalyze the questioning of the FDA protocols requiring that drugs be proven safe and effective before administering to terminal patients. That’s probably the aspect of it that fits the PNS template. Now, people who are clinically terminal can try untested drugs. That has speeded up development of treatments.

        The old FDA protocols were, in turn, a reaction to thalidomide. These things are always a reaction to an event or issue.

      • “In the case of AIDS, there was no serious dispute that the disease exists.”

        There’s no serious dispute that global warming exists, nor that it is expensive and dangerous. Deniers aren’t serious people.

      • Mosher, NEVER mention the G-word in a derogatory manner, the lawyers are on speed dial. This is no joke.

      • Steven Mosher

        I know.

      • A fan of *MORE* discord

        Gallo? The winery’s going to sue?

      • Agreed a bad analogy.

        Gallo?? He ain’t a denier just somebody looking to get recognition. I think you’re mixing him up with somebody else.

        The AIDS HIV deniers are more akin to those that don’t believe in the greenhouse gas effect. I struggle to see any equivalent among the more credible climate skeptics to any of the HIV deniers

        The really interesting analogy between AIDS and climate is with respect to the response of the dominant mainstream opinion. The situation quickly moved from a simple battle of evidence between a viral or non-viral disease into a question of the morality of the virus-deniers. It’s this closing of debate in non-scientific ways that best works as an analogy between AIDS and climate irrespective of how right or wrong the skeptics in the two discipline are.

      • “The AIDS HIV deniers are more akin to those that don’t believe in the greenhouse gas effect. ”

        People are entitled to beleive what ever they want.

        The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis as it stands, that the atmosphere is predominantly heated by the absorption of OLWR by CO2 and other so called “greenhouse gases” easliy disproven, for it requires that the solid/liquid surface is at all times and locations, warmer that the air above it.

        This is the fundamental flaw in the hypothesis and is the reason why it is was and always will be just that, an hypothesis.

      • People are entitled to beleive what ever they want.

        Ouch. We all make mistakes, but if you are going to bold a word, try to spell it right, especially when it was spelled correctly in the comment you’re quoting!

        People are “entitled” to be in denial of the facts as they wish. The rest of us are entitled to ignore you, laugh at you, or both.

    • Steven Mosher

      Tom,

      Here is what I find most ironic. A few posts back on PNS Willis and I got into an interesting discussion about the “need for action.” As you know Willis is one of those who believes that if we just return to “normal science” that ideal that doesnt exist that everything will be better.

      I found it ironic that Willis was a part of this rush to publication. He didnt follow his ordinary practice. Didn’t check the data, didnt check the analysis and the piece went out flawed. A deadline had to be met. When it came down to values, friendship trumped the scientific values.

      I look back at the behavior of jones and Briffa and wonder if Willis could find it in heart to be more generous to them? In his world people should stand up and hold them too account to restore trust.

      Comes the question: will willis come out and condemn the rush to publication. Doubtful. he will have some explanation about why a simple double check wasnt performed

      In a PNS situation nobody on either side can admit they are in a PNS situation. They can’t admit that other values are competing with the search for truth. Nobody wants to own their own shit, which is why we see what Joshua points out over and over again.

      mommy mommy they did it first

      • Mommy, mommy, I got thrown under the juggernaut first.
        ==========

      • Keith Kloor put it very well (I’m paraphrasing and augmenting a lot): For many people this is a zero sum game (with my emphasis on game), with an inherent belief that the outcome of the game is a zero sum gain. This requires all sorts of contorting because reality is not so binary.

        I also go back to the basic tenet that motivated reasoning is grounded in identity protection.

      • Since warming is good and economic destruction is bad, the choice is stark and easy. Time to get past artificial post-normality and face reality.
        =============================================

      • Steven Mosher

        Yes.
        I think somewhere I have said that the HS is an icon like the shroud of turin. and that Mann is his hockey stick.

        It would be interesting if you had a look at iconography and hagiography

      • “For many people this is a zero sum game (with my emphasis on game), with an inherent belief that the outcome of the game is a zero sum gain.”

        This is so true. When I talk to people on either end of the spectrum about ways to use the market to cut emissions (things like toll roads, a free market in electricity rather than local monopolies, or a better rail infrastructure) I get the same blank stare from both. The idea that dealing with global warming can only take the form of a “win” for the left’s concept of government and society is deeply engrained. In reality the left and the right could happily continue their knock-down drag-out fistfight over the subject of how to deal with global warming, rather than whether it is real and serious.

  17. Steve,
    I believe you have oversimplified the issues of PNS. You seem to be making the point that the polarization in climate science is the result of a perceived need for immediate action on the part of some people. This leaves out the strong need of many of the academic folks for maintaining their perceived expertise and authority in their chosen field of study. A university professor achieves career advancement and security from recognition by other experts in his field. He is dependent upon that acceptance. His performance as a teacher of his students somehow has less impact on his status.

    What is the importance of this need for recognition? It means he will publicly show respect for others he recognizes as experts to avoid offending them. He will not be inclined to publicly dispute statements of more extreme members of that group. By not speaking up, he becomes identified with those extreme statements though he may disagree with them. He has little choice but to follow along, at least until he can retire in good graces.

    So the need for immediate action is likely to be the claims of a very small number of the recognized climate science experts. Those are the names we see as most vocal on the subject. The broader spectrum of climate science researchers may disagree with some or all of the extreme claims but are obliged to follow along anyway or at least moderate the level of their public disagreement.

    • The need of recognition is equally present in all fields of science. It has also induced improper act by some individuals in many fields, but that does not have any real influence more generally without the high stakes. That’s really a very minor factor in this controversy. That’s a favorite issue for one side as is the claim that all the skepticism is just a product of big bad corporations for some on the other side.

      • Pekka,
        Yes, the point of what I said is that it IS a factor. Ignoring it as simply normal science is false. The Climategate e-mails demonstrated behind the scenes disagreement that was not shown in public. It is a factor when considering a claim of consensus. As a factor in the search for the Higgs Boson, it might not matter. For climate science consensus, it does.

      • How can you see from the emails that the motive is what you claim. I think everything is equally consistent with the assumption that only the high stakes have influenced the behavior. I don’t say that the emails would prove that but tell me how they prove the opposite.

    • Steven Mosher

      Im actually trying to simplify PNS. From the begining people have seen it as a prescription. What I argue is that before one charts a way out of PNS, one first has to get an understanding of what it is. Bascially, until the parties involved come to the recognition that the situation is different, until they take ownership and responsibility on both sides, there is no way out.
      so I see the denial on both sides as a defining property of the situation.

      • Im actually trying to simplify PNS. From the begining people have seen it as a prescription.

        That may well be your purpose. However, to my mind, the “prescription” was not PNS, but rather the UNFCCC’s very specific direction (or at least very conveniently selected parts of it):

        3. The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this, such policies and measures should take into account different socio-economic contexts, be comprehensive, cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and adaptation, and comprise all economic sectors. Efforts to address climate change may be carried out cooperatively by interested Parties. [emphasis added -hro]

        Source

        It is worth noting that CO2 is mentioned only twice – and not even as the primary “culprit”. But somewhere along the pseudo-scientific advocacy way (as exemplified and amplified by the IPCC) a “deadline” for reducing CO2 emissions just happened to surface.

        Seems to me that PNS – apart from being a very convenient construct of post-modernist poppycock – is nothing but a vehicle for promoting and advancing “the cause”.

        But speaking of deadlines, I won’t even comment on what I recall was the absence of any criticism from you on BEST’s premature (but promoted with much rigour and vigour ) October 2011 conclusions. And I might have missed it, but I don’t recall seeing any comment from you at the time on appropriateness/validity/truthfulness of Muller’s March 2011 testimony to the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

  18. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    What Judith’s thoughtful essay calls “post-normal science” is entirely normal in medical science. That is why the history of medical research episodes like HIV/AIDS denial, vaccine safety denial, and smoking-cancer denial provides instructive examples for climate-change denial.

    It is striking that many of the same organizations — and even some of the same persons — who are associated to smoking-cancer denialism also are associated to climate-change denialism.

    Summary The main features of “post-normal” climate-change science are entirely normal in medical science.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Note: the numerous instructive parallels between climate-change denialism and smoking-cancer denialism can be traced-back as far as the reign of King James I   :)   :)   :)

      Summary Arguably, there are few or no features of modern-day climate-change science that are “post-normal” … `cuz heck, these shenanigans can be traced-back many centuries!   :)   :)   :)

    • Agreed – there is a sense of ‘what’s the big deal’? about this.

    • Alexej Buergin

      Please post a link to “Judith’s thoughtful essay”.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        That was a mistake by me, Alexej … the byline plainly is Stephen Mosher, not Judith Curry. Doh!

        Mosher’s essay was well-intentioned and grammatical, but it shows little knowledge of the history of science, and it exhibits a parochial nostalgia for an ideal of science as a non-political pursuit that never has existed in the real world and likely won’t exist anytime soon.

        In particular, the notion that the multi-decade pursuit of the Higgs boson is exemplary of science as a non-political pursuit is pretty darn comical!   :)   :)   :)

      • Interesting. You seem to have switched track from being mildy complementary of an essay you thought that Judith wrote to being mildy insulting about the essay now you know that it’s by Mosh.

        Predjudiced somewhat?

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Whenever scientific essayists apply a fancy new bumper-sticker (like “post-normal science”) to a beat-up old sedan of long-familiar ideas, the typical reaction is “meh</a?“.

        Hence your critique receives a … meh.   :)   :)   :)

      • A fan of *MORE* discord

        Interesting that you mention the vaxers in passing, and then switch to the tobacco shtick. Let’s talk about the vaxers some more. And also the fluoride truthers. They’re deeply embedded in the environmental movement.

        The fluoride thing is particularly interesting, because in the 1960s, that was a John Birch society thing – fluoridation was a communist plot. Nowadays, the fluoridation truthers (and the vaxers, and the GMO truthers) are found among the raw vegan greenies – and it’s all a corporate plot!

      • I think the “vegans” are going to win this one. It was only political manipulation that prevented the EPA experts from stopping fluoridation in the first place. http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/item/12250-fluoride-lowers-iq-in-kids-new-study-shows

      • Also, it’s not a typical environmentalist thing. It only affects humans, and environmentalists don’t like humans. ;-)

      • Steven Mosher

        “a parochial nostalgia for an ideal of science as a non-political pursuit that never has existed in the real world and likely won’t exist anytime soon.”

        That is something I have argued against many times. I have argued that no science is a political. That is why in the essay I refer to this as the “vague ideal” of science.

    • Steven Mosher

      fan medical science is one of the areas where PNS was first observed.
      So yes.

    • Your thoughts on biomedical research, are insulting to millions of non-clinical and non-clinical researchers alike.
      The fact that our work is independently monitored, double-blind and has a prior statistical analytical procedures shows you know fuck all.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse,

      You have it completely the wrong way around. It’s not the denialism that makes this post-normal or anti-scientific or whatever. It’s the fact that the mainstream turns all opposition into a moral or political issue. It;s the seeking of a consensus, it’s having an organization in the form of the IPCC that seeks to define the limits of legitimate inquiry that is the problem. It’s the inherent anti-skepticism of the discourse that’s the problem.

      That’s why Mosher has it wrong, he sees it as the role of both sides of the debate to cede some ground when it’s simply up to the warmists to prove their case against every scientific challenge without labeling it’s opponents morally inferior. That’s normal science.

  19. Because values are in conflict the behavior of those doing science changes. In normal science no one would care if Higgs was a Christian or an atheist. No one would care if he voted liberal or conservative; but because two different value systems are in conflict in climate science, the behavior of those doing science changes. They investigate each other. They question motives. They form tribes. And because the stakes are high the behavior of those doing science changes as well. They protest; they take money from lobby groups on both sides and worse of all they perform horrendous raps on youTube. In short, they become human; while those around them canonize them or demonize them and their findings become iconized or branded as hoaxes.

    At this point in the warming hoax it brings no virtue or righteousness to science to point out errors. No one cares because global warming stopped being about science a long time ago. It’s all about politics and being a skeptic is the last service an honest man can do for science. All we can do now is correct the politics and even that gives little comfort because academia has lost all pretense to scholarship.


    And others are there who go along heavily and creakingly, like carts taking stones downhill: they talk much of dignity and virtue–their drag they call virtue!

    And others are there who are like eight-day clocks when wound up; they tick, and want people to call ticking–virtue.

    Verily, in those have I mine amusement: wherever I find such clocks I shall wind them up with my mockery, and they shall even whirr thereby!

    And others are proud of their modicum of righteousness, and for the sake of it do violence to all things: so that the world is drowned in their unrighteousness.

    Ah! how ineptly cometh the word “virtue” out of their mouth! And when they say: “I am just,” it always soundeth like: “I am just–revenged!”

    With their virtues they want to scratch out the eyes of their enemies; and they elevate themselves only that they may lower others.


    ~Nietzsche (Zarathustra)

    • Steven Mosher

      One of my favorities.

      • Quality has nothing to do with consensus. There must be standards. That is why forsaking the scientific method by academia – because the stakes are high – has been so pernicious.

      • Anybody who has ever had anything to do with QA/QC knows that it’s primarily an empirical endeavor. Quality is based on measurements, and comparison with standards. An instructor at QC course that I took made a key point: the doors on Rolls-Royces have to be custom fit to the car and aren’t interchangeable. The doors on Hondas are interchangeable, because the quality is such that they all fit. Hondas are higher quality cars than Rolls by objective standards. The consensus that Rolls are more desirable than Hondas has nothing to do has nothing to do with quality. Hondas conform to standards. Rolls less so. This is all objectively true.

      • Nothing is more harmful to the quality of thinking than raising the infusion of superstition and ignorance from a drip to a flow. The scientific method has a purpose–i.e., helping to discern truth from superstitious, irrational and fear-based notions, magical thinking, ignorance, blind faith, feckless speculations, the statistics of liars and and scientific explanations of charlatans. Beliefs that have no scientific proof should be rejected.

      • Steven Mosher

        Wagathon.

        where were you when the latest watts paper was rushed out the door?
        was that normal? did anybody double check? or did they pull a gergis?

        from where I sit I see both sides putting other values ahead of the search for truth. And claiming that the other side did it first.

        not normal science. if you like call it something else.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Rushing is normal enough.

        Sloppy is not good. Sloppy is what we saw.
        Correction and formal credit given for finding error or help in correcting is normal and good. Still waiting for the Gergis team.

      • This expose has been in the works for years. It was great to see Kristen Byrnes (“Ponder the Maunder”) acknowledged but it shouldn’t take a 15 year old genius to know the difference between the truth-seekers of science vs. the hucksters, charlatans and snake-oil peddlers. So now we have a study that attempts to provide some objectivity concerning the magnitude of the UHI effect and also shines a light on the scurrilous government-sanctioned adjustments to raw data.

        All of that is a big plus that can be summed up in one sentence:

        http://evilincandescentbulb.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/global-warming-is-politically-correct-voodoo/

  20. Deadlines and milestones have always amused me.

  21. Stephen Mosher’s analysis is quite thoughtful and seems broadly correct to me, though he perhaps over-emphasises the “normality” of “normal science”. Recall that there were legal attempts to close down the LHC on safety grounds (such as the potential creation of micro black holes). Whether the description as “post normal” is really helpful is less clear to me, but that seems secondary to the core point that there is something rather odd about how much modern climate science is practised, and that this oddity is likely to be a product of the social context of the problem.

    Robert@9.59am raises the issue of abuse by sceptics. Actually abuse by extremists and nutters is part of the life of many scientists, and what is unusual is the reaction of some climate scientists to it. In my past life as a biochemist I had colleagues who performed experiments on animals, and they certainly knew what abuse was: I would regularly come across vandalism and death threats and I knew of people who had all their mail x-rayed before opening. When I moved to quantum physics the threats went down but the nutters went up. I vividly remember a demonstration outside my department “against the quantum time bomb” which apparently was poised to “go back into the past and destroy the future for ever”. Before that there were rumours circulating on usenet (those were the days) that my lab was under guard by US Navy Seals (particularly odd given its location in Oxford!). The threats, however, reduced to threats to suit me for infringement of all sorts of dubious (or even non-existent) patents.

    The oddity of climate science strikes many scientists in other disciplines, who are aware that something strange is going on, but are not really sure what it is. The instinctive assumption of many on the biological side is that climate sceptics are either violent extremists (by analogy with animal rights activists) or simple nutters (by analogy with young earth creationists), but the reaction of many physical scientists is often more nuanced. I was struck by the response of many of my physics colleagues when the outcome of my FOI request (for data, please note, not emails) was published: not one person who spoke to me opposed my actions or supported CRU’s attempts to hide their raw data.

    Whether or not climate science is best described as post-normal, the only solution to it is more normality. Sadly few lessons seem to have been learned about how to restore such a happy state to the field.

    • ” CRU’s attempts to hide their raw data.”

      Let’s just say that’s not a terribly objective summary of the situation.

      I believe that CRU are still in cahoots with Poland in “hid[ing] their raw data”

      • CRU’s treating the Polish data as confidential has been approved by the ICO. CRU’s hiding of the other data was ruled to be in breach of the FOIA/EIR. Simple difference.

      • Steven Mosher

        Thanks Johnathan. dont confuse michael with facts.

      • I should add that my first appeal indicated that I was entirely happy to receive a redacted dataset, omitting data from any country with which they could demonstrate an explicit confidentiality agreement. Interestingly CRU showed no interest in exploring this route at the time.

      • …don’t get between Mosher and his ego

      • Steven Mosher

        Micheal,

        Like Johnathan Steve Mcintyre in his appeal asked for a redacted dataset. That appeal was denied on nov 17th, 2009.
        The reason given was that CRU found it too difficult to separate out the data. Climategate broke. The redacted data was posted by CRU in no time flat. you didnt know that.

        Neither are you aware of the guidelines for entering into a 3rd party confidentiality agreement. Before entering into such an agreement CRU must show that the agreement is necessary to there mission.

        Since you get the same answer with or without Poland, The data is not necessary to their mission.

        It’s not an ego thing. Its a getting the facts right thing. remember the planet is at stake

      • get over yourself steven.

        And no, it wasn’t posted in no time flat. CRU had announce ealier that it was seeking to waive non-disclosure agreements. All they did in 2009 was point to where the data was already publicly available.

        “Neither are you aware of the guidelines for entering into a 3rd party confidentiality agreement. Before entering into such an agreement CRU must show that the agreement is necessary to there mission.”

        No, it doesn’t.

        Get your facts right.

      • Poland was certainly not the only country with a non-disclosure agreement. In the years before several countries had asked many public institutions like the meteorological institutes to charge for their data while the reduced the public funding of these institutions. Those policies have caused quite a lot of trouble to research in Finland and in other countries. Some data has been too costly for university research and in some other cases I have signed non-disclosure contracts related to the material that my students have obtained for their research.

        The traditions have also been in most or all European countries quite different from those of US. FOIA type legislation is still missing in many countries and it was quite recent and evidently rather badly known in UK as well.

        It seems to be clear in aftermath that CRU did not act appropriately but it’s less clear how much that was intentional and how much due to lacking understanding of recent legislation.

        The situation has been improving rather rapidly during the period considered and it’s easy to make all kind of misjudgments.

      • Fah! International relations and non-disclosure is and was a pitiful excuse to avoid transparency.

        International relations are inevitably worsened by such perversions. The process of science is inevitably worsened by such perversions.
        ==============================

      • Seems someone has to try and give life to the the old stereotype of the arrogant physicist blundering into other fields and telling them they’re got it all wrong.

        CRU had in effect a gentlemens’ agreement about the use of data. Jonathan’s actions forced them to renege on that, and some countries did not agree to the subsequent release. Jonathan terming it CRU “hiding” the data was simply false.

        Many will take note that an explicit written agreement ‘protected’ them from pointless FOI fishing expeditions conducted by thirds parties in another country.

        Expect more data “hidden” by written confidentiality agreements.

        Spectacular own goal for those purporting to champion openess.

      • andrew adams

        It is also worth pointing out that the ICO overruled CRU on the grounds that the wider public interest in releasing the data outweighed CRU’s concerns about the harm that might be done by releasing the data without the consent of the foreign NMOs. That is not the same as ruling CRU was in breach of the FoI (as it was in the David Holland case).

    • Steven Mosher

      “Stephen Mosher’s analysis is quite thoughtful and seems broadly correct to me, though he perhaps over-emphasises the “normality” of “normal science”.”

      Yes. I also used the word “normal” in various conflicting senses throughout the piece. and its overly broad

    • The oddity of climate science strikes many scientists in other disciplines, who are aware that something strange is going on, but are not really sure what it is.

      Ah yes, the ol’ “many scientists.” It’s interesting how often I read that term.

      • Steven Mosher

        I can say this. I have yet to run into a scientist from a different science who finds the goings on normal. You realize that you can estimate the population from this.

      • Which aspects are you talking about, and how do you define normal?

        I’d say that tribalism/partisanship/motivated reasoning/victimization/politicization, etc., are fairly ubiquitous in all scientific fields, just as they are in all walks of life (my latest rant topic is the positive correlation between “system 2 thinking” and motivated reasoning). They are intrinsic to human reasoning.

        On the other hand, to the extent that it may be greater with climate science, it might be correlated to higher stakes (in the PNS aspect as you speak). It would be interesting to see whether there is an increase in motivate reasoning (which I would say causes those other attributes) when political stakes are raised. Seems like a reasonable speculation.

        If scientists point to some other science to say “There but not here,” it should be viewed with skepticism – in particular because the stakes are raised for any particular individual if they’re talking about the integrity of the community within their own bubble.

      • Perhaps we could call this fact “an inconvenient truth”?

      • You need evidence controlled for confounding variables to approach “truth.”

        It’s interesting to me when scientists overlook that detail.

      • Many of my colleagues thinks it’s all a bit ‘white gloves at 5 paces’.

        Though I’m informed all medical science is “post-normal”.

        Meh.

  22. HIV/AIDS is an excellent example that what some want to sanitize as a form of science is nothing but dishonest politics, and dangerous at that.

    In an effort to increase funding for research at the very beginning of the spread of the disease in the US (which should have been done anyway), the geniuses at the CDC decided it would be wrong to stigmatize the victims of the disease by admitting where the infection was originally concentrated, and the behaviors that were the most common means of transmission.

    So while the disease was primarily still localized in a small, discreet population among gays and some intravenous drug users on the west coast, the CDC concealed those facts. With the result that the very population they should have been protecting was denied information that could have saved many of their lives, and retarded the spread of the disease.

    The “immediate action needed” in the minds of the government drones at the CDC was increasing funding and controlling the terms of what they saw as a political debate. Sound familiar?

  23. Thanks to Steve and all contributors for engaging with this. I’ve learning all along and now I see something else.

    Perhaps it is characteristic of PNS that the participants don’t even agree on what sort of science is involved! For those at the extremes of the spectrum(s), it’s quite simple: the facts are there and science proves that the planet is warming catastrophically – or, alternatively, that there is little or nothing to worry about. Those in the middle, either soft-denialists or lukewarmistas, are worried about the uncertainties that they have perceived. Those of us who have tried to promote reconciliation or dialogue are in the PNS camp; small wonder that we are scorned by the partisans on either side. Also, acknowledging uncertainty, and living with doubt even when committed to action, puts on in a special moral state that not everyone can live with.

    As Steve has pointed out, the urgency of the issue (either impending catastrophe or ongoing misdirection and waste) inevitably polarises opinion. Those who disagree are not merely wrong but also bad. That’s why character enters the debate, more strongly than in the case of ‘normal science’. Of course there is a continuum. People with strongly innovative ideas in research can have a hard time; the case of Daniel Schechtman and his heresy of ‘quasi-crystals’ is a beautiful case in point. And in the present age, the perils of gravy-train science and pal-review are all too obvious.

    The posting about medicine is very useful. In our original work on PNS, Silvio and I used medicine as an intermediate case, that we called Professional Consultancy. There the systems uncertainties are not totally reducible to error-bars, and the decision-stakes inclufr possibly killing a patient! But we saw that there is a class of problems that are even further out, and that’s how we thought of PNS. Of course, epidemics are in that class; the novel Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis (with help from Paul de Kruif) is a classic study in that.

    Enough for now – over to you, Willis!

    Jerry

  24. thisisnotgoodtogo

    “Asking questions, raising doubts, asking to see proof becomes suspect in and of itself. And those doing science are faced with a question that science cannot answer: Does this person really want the answer or are they a merchant of doubt? Such a question never gets asked in normal science. Normal science doesn’t ask this question because science cannot answer it.”
    What need is there to ask the question ? Why not just give the standard canned answers to all ? If too many are asking, then replies possibly cannot be made to all. So what ? Why even begin to analyse the heart of the asker ?
    You’re talking about propagandists, not scientists.

  25. TYPO: last sentence in second para: READ puts one in a special moral state.

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      Jerome,
      You say ” puts one in a special moral state.”

      Could you try to put your finger on that state ? Morals would seem to be about good and bad. Prohibitions about killing or cheating and so on.

  26. thisisnotgoodtogo

    In my youth every time I questioned an aspect of our religion, I met with the questions about my motivation.

    It’s only necessary to the propagandists. to portray this questioning of motives as a situation forced on the scientist.

  27. Climate Weenie

    Uncertainty seems to stoke confirmation bias. Data denied questions seem to allow emotion to fill the void of evidenced reason. But an ideal of science is to achieve dispassionate observer status. Unfortunately, anyone motivated to look into the subject is already tainted by that very emotion.

  28. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Even propagandists do not necessarily have to go after the heart of the asker.

    When you have sales rep challenging another company’s claim, there is no point to address motive even when motive is a given. The answer to a pertinent question should be clearly given when conditions and time allow.

  29. Steven Mosher

    Judith, V no PH

  30. You need to pull this entire screed and rewrite it to include agenda-driven influence as the first bullet point. Without agenda funding, PNS interpretation of events is simple hysteria. Chicken Little on a small budget. With agenda funding you get RealChickenLittle.org and lots of bling, and if done well, a UN funded committee.

    Climate change does not need to be classified as PNS. There is no imperative we respond immediately we’ve seen in our climate. Change is normal. We don’t even know what to do because we don’t know what the climate is doing. We know rising CO2 can warm the surface but we don’t know what the knock-on effect of that is. More sweltering heat from water vapor, or chilling clouds? We don’t know.

    We’ve opened the book in the middle and have missed the first part and the last part. Our understanding of the pages we’ve seen are a perfect distortion of the unseen. We can build proxies for previous content and use that to project the content for the pages to come and we will be wrong going both directions. So we call it PNS to disguise our inadequacies and so we can get grant money with a straight face.

  31. Mosh: Rather than analyze PNS from the POV of deadlines, I chose to look at it from the POV of fear. Fear is what drives PNS. Fear of imminent consequences. Some might say fear of long-term consequences also, but those are not nearly as important because there is at least time to appraise the situation more thoughtfully. It is a construct of those who have intuitively (apparently) convinced themselves that hell or high-water is just around the corner if we don’t act (the extremely diverse– and some would say contradictory– range of disasters they are predicting doesn’t seem to bother them.)

    I think the fear amongst most proponents of AGW and related analysis is genuine. They fear for mankind’s future. But they also know it’s a useful tool. Schneider famous quote about exaggeration can be easily paraphrased as, “Gin up the fear. It’s useful.”

    PNS is the imposition of utterly unscientific practices to achieve policy goals. Regardless of how many of it’s practitioners’ predictions of fear-inducing imminent doom are realized in the future, it is diametrically opposed to the scientific method. In that sense, it is little more than soothsaying with cherry-picked data.

    Those who don’t ascribe to the fear they want people to feel are chastised by the practitioners of PNS. You write: “Asking questions, raising doubts, asking to see proof becomes suspect in and of itself. ” What you are describing here is not merely fear, but paranoia. And intolerance for those who are unaware that the rules of science have changed or should change due to fear. The practitioners are seeking to use fear to silence critics.

    They have used this fear to seize the higher ground–not in a scientific or ethical sense, but in a strategic sense. It happened almost imperceptibly and I believe that if they had been forced to make the argument using your objective terminology to convince people to accept all the uncertainty and forge ahead, that they would not have gotten anywhere. Once it was understood that the basic tactic was the utilization of fear to achieve policy goals, and once the actual science behind the fear was exposed in many cases as a product of confirmation bias (the underlying theme of Steve McIntyre’s website), then there was the inevitable reaction by the practitioners of NS, many of whom were in related fields and had not theretofore been paying attention.

    Fear and uncertainty drive the debate into the realm of politics, where values and ideology come into play. That is the inherent weakness of PNS and it’s appeal to those who practice it: the science becomes tangential to the political process where policy, regardless of how efficacious, can be implemented through compromise and the exercise of brute political power.

    The solution: everyone needs to take a deep breath and get back to practicing NS. If you don’t, you risk the incremental destruction of the scientific method over time.

    Thought: I wonder if the scientific development of the atomic bomb during WWII could be analyzed as a precursor to PNS. Ravetz’s four criterion were applicable: the ability to produce such a weapon was uncertain; whether it was morally acceptable to use such a weapon was debatable (“I am the destroyer of worlds . . .”); the stakes were potential loss of millions of lives whether it was used or not; and there was an immediate strategic need for such a weapon or so it was thought.

    From your footnote:

    In short, the argument becomes that while we are uncertain about sensitivity the certainty we have about large impacts and trans-generational obligations necessitates action.

    Does this certainty actually exist? Is it warranted in your view? Or is it another dramatic conceit in the theatre PNS?

    • Steven Mosher

      I like the fear angle Duke.

      look at the events of last week and tell me who was in fear. explain how he over reacted. and dragged a man who never rushes into rushing.

      PNS describes the situation. Its not a prescription.

      The schedule drove the science. fear drove science. politics drove all of that. There was a perceived need of immediate action
      This climate changes everything and everybody.

      • Mosh: I could argue that the example you cite was due to “deadlines” but I won’t go there. (g)

        Good essay. I appreciate your attempts to bring understanding to this bitter controversy. Like SMc, I believe there needs to be an NS, engineering grade, concerted, all-encompassing, Manhattan Project-style study done to evaluate the current state of knowledge, calculate the risks, and recommend a course of action. If it costs a billion dollars it would be worth it and might save a trillion in the long run. Unfortunately, I don’t think you’d get the High Priests of Climate Science to agree, since it might cost them control of the narrative.

      • Hear, Hear!

      • Steven Mosher

        I agree with that. notice how we are importing a paradigm to manage this situation.

        ask yourself why there are so many metaphors in this discourse.

        Metaphors use the known to structure the unknown. which means we dont understand the situation we are in.

      • The interaction on fear and metaphor was for me worth all of Judith’s work on Climate Etc. I’m with theduke on fear being the driver. Then recall that every tinpot dictator has used fear for control. There has for me been one real discovery since 1988: climate is a particularly effective arena for one group of human beings to generate fear to bring others under their control. This makes it particularly dangerous. It’s perfectly rational to import method and use metaphor.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven, communication in language is primarily metaphoric, that is, to learn we equate one thing with another thing in order to know the first thing better
        WRT science, we have metaphor always – metaphors that lead to understanding, by equating with real things like branches. fields, trees and so on.

      • ” I appreciate your attempts to bring understanding to this bitter controversy.”

        Is there really any sentient, adult human being following the climate debate that doesn’t understand “this bitter controversy?”

        PSA is just another in a long series of attempts to “reframe” the debate.

        Climategate was about dishonesty, not science, post normal or otherwise. If the latest article from Watts et al. was mistaken, it was a mistake, not some pseudonymial form of science.

        If scientists are dishonest in determining and presenting their findings, they are dishonest. If they are sloppy or mistaken in determining and presenting their findings, they are sloppy or mistaken. If they engage in politics rather than science, they are politicizing their work.

        PSA does not clarify the debate, any more than the change from global warming to climte change. PSA, the precautionary principle, Bayesian priors, (and I suspect the latest addition to the blog debate – TOBs) are all about rescuing CAGW from the political train wreck it is headed for this November.

        But go ahead, you can call the CAGW political movement whatever you want. I call it toast.

      • Mosh

        Do you think the rushing, hype and lack of attention has hurt the ‘brand,’ which up to now had undoubtedly become steadily bigger and more influential, whether you bought into the brand or not.
        Tonyb

      • Steven Mosher

        It depends what you think the brand identity is. I have always appreciated and supported the volunteer science/ citizen science aspect of WUWT. It is what attracted me at the very beginning. I was in the middle of running an open source community when things really took off at WUWT, so the demand for open data, the demand for code, the challenge to normal publication overlapped with my interests and values.
        I think if the team sat down and cranked out a first class data paper, they would get published and then they could rightfully call for a similar canvasing of the ROW. But if they try to combine a new dataset and homemade methods to upset a paradigm, it might not go to well.

      • Mosh

        The reason I ask is that to some extent for many sceptics WUWT is their ‘go to’ home and source of information. They closely identify with it and its values. In that respect it is brand sceptic’ albeit with many readers who do not really fit that term including many ‘denialists’ in as much they would reject anything coming from the warmist side.

        Its friends must have been bewildered by the initial closure of the site, the reopening with what seemed to be less than an earth shattering paper which, it turns out, was somewhat rushed with all that entails in terms of accuracy and potency and with perhaps a loss of credibilty. Whilst never being a supporter of Heartland I feel they managed to shoot themselves in the foot over their billboard and it doesnt take much in this strange world of climate debate for brand credibility to be lost.(look at the University of East Anglia)

        I agree with your last paragraph-there are enough people involved to write and review an excellent paper (its something I feel they should do) but rushing things is only likely to hand ammunition to those who hate everything WUWT and those associated with it stand for.

        Incidentally, nice paper Mosh.
        tonyb

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        “I like the fear angle Duke.”

        So why is the fear only one-side today, when in the 1970s it was oriented the other way. Maybe we should discuss this and why it was best not to act immediately then but is now.

  32. Stephen Mosher

    I’ll take issue with you on two points:
    !) uncertainty with regards to data, process, and interpretation; and uncertainty as in the individual’s ability to live with “I don’t know” and still be able to function. Uncertainty within the science vs uncertainty of the individual scientist.
    2) Deadlines are nothing new in science. There are all sorts of deadlines beginning with the grant submission & renewal deadlines, certification timelines and endpoints, peer reviewer deadlines to name just a few.

    My point is that the integrity of the scientist is observed when that scientist is faced with uncertainty and deadlines. Integrity and a healthy sense of self esteem allows a scientist to say: “I don’t know.” Lack of integrity and a high sense of self-importance leads to cutting corners, manufacturing unwarranted results, and “messaging”. Scientists who have a very difficult time saying “I don’t know” in all the nuances of their behavior, triggers the BS meters we all have. “I don’t trust that mann/women.” It becomes a Herculean task to wade through a paper because one doesn’t trust the interpretation. Dodgy behavior may mean dodgy methodology, data collection, data analysis and, dodgy interpretations, conclusions, recommendations.

    Voila. Climate Science.

    When viewed from afar, individuals who trigger one’s BS meter are regarded as… non-science, not believable, someone with an agenda, selling me something.

    This characterizes Post Normal Science for me.

    • Steven Mosher

      I realize there are deadlines in normal science.
      Ask yourself how the deadline operates.
      Ask yourself how and if it comprimises scientific values.

      • I guess the issue may be whether the deadline is self-imposed or externally imposed. Internally imposed deadlines may not be viewed as destructive of a scientists behavior/integrity as externally imposed deadlines or so one thinks.

        It seems to me that the climate science elite, the 75 making up the consensus, have imposed deadlines upon society behavior, and by extension scientists working in climate science, that reflects these elites’ aggrandizement of power. “We impose deadlines because we can.” They have cobbled together notoriety, political capital, an attached social agenda as their seat of power. The setting of time tables and deadlines becomes an instrument of wielding that power.

        Ultimately the schtick is for the external deadlines to co-opt the scientist into self assume climate deadlines as their own. This may be evident as some climate scientists have made the first step towards accepting these deadlines by self censorship and silence.

        Its happened before…

  33. Who exactly determines that ” the stakes are high” and that “immediate action is required” ? If there is no way to refine credible parameters for those criteria, the uncertainty and value conflict factors leave the entire PNS concept wide open to ideological abuse and political manipulation.

    The Soviets’ political need for a revolution in agricultural output and Lysenko’s rise to prominence come to mind. The highjacking of CAGW/CACC “science” for socio-economic messaging by the “progressive” or “left” of the political spectrum in the developed economies, likewise.

    Either man-made CO2 is the single most important driver in a purported [catastrophic] rise in global temperatures or it is not. Best available empirical data put a very large question mark all over the original hypothesis and our spending hundreds of billions of dollars on dubious policies based on that uncertainty, because “the stakes are high” and “immediate action is required”, is a very good example of why skepticism about PNS is of the utmost importance.

    • Nobody exactly determines that.

      That we are in a PNS situation is an observation not a decision. Recognizing the situation we are in helps everybody who wishes to influence the outcome in that pursuit.

      As Ravetz noted people strongly on either side do not wish to admit publicly that there’s a genuine controversy. They wish to tell rather that those who disagree with them are lunatics. They do, however, commonly act in a way that implies clearly that in reality they know that stakes are high and that there’s a controversy on policies at least.

      • Steven Mosher

        Thanks Pekka.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        “Nobody exactly determines that.”

        Sure, somebody determines it. For example, In the SARS wave, medical authorities made such determinations as the need to act immediately.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        public health authorities make decisions about the need to act immediately

      • Somebody may decide on the action but that was not the question.

        Noting that the situation is PNS does not determine the action, it rather tells that making the decision is not easy and any decision is likely to be controversial.

        It’s true that the cases of SARS and Swine Flue have many similarities with the climate change controversy. They may offer the closest recent analog. The main difference is perhaps that the urgency was even more pronounced.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka wrote
        “Somebody may decide on the action but that was not the question.”
        I beg to differ
        “Who exactly determines that ” the stakes are high” and that “immediate action is required”

      • The situation is PNS when many people have those opinions and many other disagree. Neither one or nobody else decides that on their behalf.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka, the question was “who gets to make the decision that immediate action is necessary”, and wrt situations such as occurred with the SARS outbreak, of course such decisions were made by people entrusted with the task of protecting the population.

        Now what is left is that you can argue that situations such as the SARS outbreak do not qualify as a PNS situation.

      • It was a PNS situation but it was not only that. The decision was done based on the other influencing factors, i.e. based on the fact that some people had been authorized to do the decision. Noting that the situation is PNS by no means implies that anybody has been thus authorized.

        These two issues are totally independent.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka,
        You wrote
        “It was a PNS situation but it was not only that.”

        Is any situation only PNS” ? Noted that you need to bring in other variables at this point in order to continue in this vein.

        Pekka, you wrote

        “The decision was done based on the other influencing factors, i.e. based on the fact that some people had been authorized to do the decision.”

        Pekka, what you’re saying does not add up to a profitable claim.

        What you are claiming is that the decision by those empowered to make the decision , was “influenced” by “other factors, that is, their authorization to make that decision” .

        Is that what you want to argue ?

      • I say that their right to make the decision was not based on anything related to PNS.

        If they had been declined the right that they normally have that could have been due to the PNS nature of the situation, but as said that didn’t happen.

      • Steven Mosher

        This.

        notice what I said about PNS raising the issue of governance.
        who runs science.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka, you said

        “I say that their right to make the decision was not based on anything related to PNS.”

        OK. How does your new claim help you show that “Nobody exactly determines that” ( that need for immediate action ) ?

      • If and when a decision on acting immediately will be done then somebody has made that decision but that may occur totally independently on whether the idea of PNS has been brought up.

        Noting that the situation is PNS means that it’s recognized that major disagreement exists. Hopefully that would lead to a consideration of all valid arguments brought up by each side. Discussing PNS means that more emphasis is put in figuring out how the differing views can be given the weight they deserve, not that any particular decision should be prioritized. Arguing against that may be rational for the side that knows that own arguments don’t survive the scrutiny.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka wrote

        “If and when a decision on acting immediately will be done then somebody has made that decision but that may occur totally independently on whether the idea of PNS has been brought up.”

        True. So what ? That still does not mean that nobody makes the decision on need for immediate action.

        Pekka wrote

        “Noting that the situation is PNS means that it’s recognized that major disagreement exists.”
        You’re arguing that noting it is situation PNS means it’s noted that major disagreement exists.”

        Pekka, this still does not preclude someone making decisions.

        “Hopefully that would lead to a consideration of all valid arguments brought up by each side.”

        Your hopes do not make a truth of the statement that nobody makes the decisions.

      • Decisions may be made or left undone on policies or actions, but nobody can decide whether the situation is PNS as that’s not an issue to be decided, neither do people need to agree on that.

        Even a general agreement on the PNS situation does is not deciding for the final conclusions, but it might affect the way the a resolution is searched for.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka wrote

        “Decisions may be made or left undone on policies or actions, but nobody can decide whether the situation is PNS”

        Pekka, your newest claim about a decision on whether or not it’s PNS is not what we were discussing.

        We were discussing making a decision on immediate action or not.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven Mosher said

        “notice what I said about PNS raising the issue of governance.
        who runs science”

        Yes, noted. Steven, would you agree that this opens the discussion to admitting massive conspiracy theories as quite plausible and deserving of attention ?

      • “massive conspiracy theories as quite plausible and deserving of attention ”

        Hahahahahah, oh my word, I shouldn’t laugh like that at my age, I’ll do myself a mischief, but that’s sooo funny

      • That was the original point. Two points were taken from the defining properties of PNS and it was asked who decides whether they do exist. I cannot interpret that as anything else than asking who decides whether the situation is PNS.

        That’s the point that I have been discussing throughout this thread.

      • What makes it really funny is that I’ve had this comment “Oooh, it must be a conspiracy…” awaiting moderation at Climate Audit for the last 25 mins.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Louise, it’s my pleasure to present for your mirthful consideration, that psychological novelty.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka wrote

        “That was the original point. Two points were taken from the defining properties of PNS and it was asked who decides whether they do exist.”

        Since you seem to accept the SARS outbreak as an example, we see that someone does indeed make the decisions. Whether or not those persons cared a whit about the situation fulfilling the defining properties for PNS concept, is immaterial. The decision was theirs to make and they did.

        In other words, we are discussing BS as a subject (PNS) from the start.

      • I have stated the same arguments in many different ways, but I cannot get my points understood. Repeating that even more times would certainly not help. I hope other readers understand better my views.

      • I have stated the same arguments in many different ways, and they are finally getting across.
        ===============

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka, I understand what you are saying, it’s not difficult.
        You think Tetris question applies only to discerning whether it’s PNS or not.
        I’m saying we can look at real life and see that contrary to your assertion.That decision is made, possibly by a scientist, but it’s someone at his authorized governmental post. Not by scientists edging to get control of the post function.

      • We can do many things but mixing too many issues in one discussion thread is only confusing. What I have written in besides discussing the core point has been only an attempt to clarify it’s relation to some other points that have in my judgment often confused with that, not only in this thread by also in many other threads where PNS has been discussed.

        I must say that I cannot see why you have written what you have if you have understood my comments. Many of the comments appear totally illogical under that assumption.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka,
        The BS subject springs from this on post normal SITUATION:

        Facts are uncertain
        Values are in conflict
        Stakes are high
        Immediate action is required

        I ask you to tell what is post normal about those. They are as ancient as all sentient life.

      • The term is not my invention and I don’t really like it, but when I discuss it agree to discuss it as defined by others. It doesn’t make sense to jump to some other concept in this thread.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Pekka said

        “The term is not my invention and I don’t really like it, but when I discuss it agree to discuss it as defined by others. It doesn’t make sense to jump to some other concept in this thread.”

        Unfortunately, through examination of the defining points, it becomes clear that no post normal situation exists, such that it can be differentiated from other situations known to have already existed.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        I have decided on a new thing.
        I say that a “give everything you own to me” situation exists if

        1/The sun is shining somewhere
        2/It’s a weekday
        3/Inflation is between 0 and 10 percent
        Now…please discuss quietly amongst yourselves on Judith’s blog to see if the conditions prevail.

      • Pekka, you said. “It’s true that the cases of SARS and Swine Flue have many similarities with the climate change controversy. They may offer the closest recent analog. The main difference is perhaps that the urgency was even more pronounced.” I would say the difference is that the urgency is obvious with a pandemic. You can choose not to act, but if you wait a year, it’s obviously too late. With climate change, there is no clear indication of when, if ever, it will be too late.

      • If we redefine the criterion “need to act immediately” as “need to act immediately or not at all”, it’s a key conceptual difference. In the case of an epidemic, it’s not even uncertain or controversial. With climate change, it’s extremely uncertain and controversial.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Tetris wrote:

        Who exactly determines that ” the stakes are high” and that “immediate action is required” ? If there is no way to refine credible parameters for those criteria, the uncertainty and value conflict factors leave the entire PNS concept wide open to ideological abuse and political manipulation.

        The Soviets’ political need for a revolution in agricultural output….

        Either man-made CO2 is the single most important driver in a purported [catastrophic] rise in global temperatures or it is not.

        … spending hundreds of billions of dollars on dubious policies based on that uncertainty, because “the stakes are high” and “immediate action is required”, is a very good example of why skepticism about PNS is of the utmost importance.”

        So Pekka.

        I hope that you can now see that Tetris was not concerned with determining if it is PNS or is not a PNS.

        He’s both specific in asking who decides if stakes are high and immediate action required ( not who decides it’s PNS ) and generally concerned about abuse of science, not at all concerned with which scenario is PNS according to who.

        So it’s your own replies which are off base.

      • Sorry for interupting Pekka, difficult with this semi-nesting

    • I am reminded of Norman Fowler and the ‘dead cat’.
      During the outbreak of ‘mad cow disease’, some researchers believed that eating beef could cause CJD in humans. The vast majority of researchers did not believe this to be the case. The bodies of carnivores and omnivores have evolved to give us much protection from prions; although some did worry about children who were shedding their milk teeth and were therefore vulnerable. The government minister in charge of the BSE/vCJB governmental response was Norman Fowler. He did not want to kill every cow in Britain, nor destroy the industries that were based on bovine and human blood products.
      Then, one day, he was visited by a ‘distinguished’ scientist. A cat had died and the symptomology and brain analysis indicated the cat had died from BSE/vCJD.
      The government was told, BSE can not only cross species barriers, but kill carnivores and so the only pathway was scorched-earth. Kill every cow that has been near a location where a cow with BSE has been. All blood from UK nationals to be treated as tainted, destroying a fairly large industry. All UK surgical instruments to be used once (at the cost of billions per year).
      This cat, this dead cat, arrived at just the right time for those who backed the vCJD epidemic. This dead cat changed the whole of the British governments farming and health policy.
      This was obviously a very important cat, but there is something else important about this cat. It is unique. The only cat scientifically identified as dying from BSE/vCJD.
      I think BSE/vCJD is a very good example of PNS. I would recommend that ones pulls up the published numbers of those dying of the various forms of CJD, since the numbers were properly collected, and looks at the data vs. the predictions; somewhere in the 10’s to 100,000’s.

  34. This is (self)deceiving and self(distracting). A(GHG)GW is normal science, taken to the extreme. The stakes are very high and hundreds of thousands live on it, but it’s normal. Paradigm is protected at any price.

    “The term refers to the routine work of scientists experimenting within a paradigm, slowly accumulating detail in accord with established broad theory, not actually challenging or attempting to test the underlying assumptions of that theory. Kuhn identified this mode of science as being a form of “puzzle-solving.””

    Again, “not actually challenging or attempting to test the underlying assumptions of the theory”. That’s how we got here. No scrutiny, no challenge, no attempt.

    Postnormal is when nature disagree and the paradigm cannot longer be retained.

  35. thisisnotgoodtogo

    About these transgenerational obligationous certainties.

    Certainty of obligations to other generations, even ones that do not exist ?
    Certainty of obligations that all generations share ?

  36. Steve- You wrote an interesting perspective on the concept of PNS. The comparison of climate science to the work done on the LHC has similarities you might not have considered. In regards to the LHC, some feared that the use of the collider would result in a catastrophic result by the creation of a black hole that would swallow the planet. In spite of these fears, work on the collider continued because the science supporting their fears seemed inadequate to those who had the power to make a decision.

    Climate science is an area where those who fear what CO2 will do to the climate are attempting to force the implementation of fundamental changes in how multiple cultures have traditionally lived. The types of lifestyle changes being proposed are based upon the value systems of those forming the conclusions and not based upon the physics or science. Their value system has concluded that changes/reduction in consumption are required or that certain harms are at risk of occurring. Their value system has not really considered that other approaches are equally creditable if others have different priorities.

    • Steven Mosher

      yes I am aware of that concern. That was kinda behind my joke about strapping oneself to the collider..

      you might see the concern, but the stakes were not high enough for somebody to take an action.. unlike climate science where the beliefs are strong enough to get people to perform acts of civil disobedience.

      • The Very Reverend Doctor Jebediah Hypotenuse

        Hmmm. 30 seconds with Google:

        These risk assessments of catastrophic scenarios at the LHC have sparked fears among the public, and scientists associated with the project have received protests. The Large Hadron Collider team revealed that they had received death threats and threatening emails and phone calls demanding the experiment be halted. On 9 September 2008, Romania’s Conservative Party held a protest before the European Commission mission to Bucharest, demanding that the experiment be halted because it feared that the LHC could create dangerous black holes.


        On Aug. 26, Otto Rossler, a German chemist at the Eberhard Karis University of Tubingen, filed a lawsuit against CERN with the European Court of Human Rights that argued, with no understatement, that such a scenario would violate the right to life of European citizens and pose a threat to the rule of law. Last March, two American environmentalists filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Honolulu seeking to force the U.S. government to withdraw its participation in the experiment. The lawsuits have in turn spawned several websites, chat rooms and petitions — and they have led to alarming headlines around the world (Britain’s Sun newspaper on Sept. 1: “End of the World Due in 9 Days”).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety_of_particle_collisions_at_the_Large_Hadron_Collider

        – see “Legal Challeges”

        LHC = Climate Science = end of the world as we know it.

      • A miniature black hole inside the earth would truly be the end of the world. The entire would disappear, although it’s uncertain how long it would take. You can’t say the stakes aren’t high, you can just claim certainty that it won’t happen.

      • No actually, you can not say it will not happen in the future. You can state it is a very unlikely event.

        The difference (one of the differences) between the two issues is that if those who feared use of the LHC had gotten their way only a small number or percentage of the world’s population would have been impacted.

        In the case of climate science, if those that fear dire consequences from CO2 emissions get their way a very high percentage of the world’s population will be impacted.

      • Rob: I don’t think you can even use the term likelihood. Either it’s impossible or there is some unknown fatal flaw in the reasoning that seems to prove it is.

      • Steven Mosher

        when you find the civil disobedience let me know. Perhaps you missed the allusion I was making.

  37. The Very Reverend Doctor Jebediah Hypotenuse

    Mosher wrote:

    In normal science, according to Kuhn, we can view the behavior of those doing science as puzzle solving. The details of a paradigm are filled out slowly and deliberately.
    The situation in climate science are close to the polar opposite of this.

    Indeed.
    The equations of radiative transfer were only discovered yesterday.
    The Greenhouse effect was just discovered this morning.

    Lapse rates? Hadley cells? El Nino? Meh.

    What we have here is a revolution in search of a cause!!!

    • Steven Mosher

      The polar opposite refers to. unccertainty, values in conflict, high stakes, and the need for action.
      The word close is used for a reason, because, yes, climate science is rooted in radiative physics which is well established normal science that has progressed steadly and patiently.

      I tried to choose words carefully.

  38. “The demand for immediate action” is to enact policy before AGW is seen to be invalid by everyone as a result of little warming from 2000 to 2030.

    http://bit.ly/OsdxJf

  39. Science is science, if it is not normal science it is not science at all.
    We have been defrauded long enough by what nowadays passes for ‘contemporary art’ ; certain science fraudsters are perpetrating similar con.
    Normal or post-normal society?
    Normal or post-normal governments?
    Normal or post-normal world?

    • Paul Vaughan

      I’ve isolated a 13.44 year envelope in LOD that beats with the solar-terrestrial-climate weave at exactly the frequency of JEV-solar resonance. The framework matches all of the following: D-O/Bond, QBO, de Vries, “60-year”. It simply suggests desynchronization (loss of entrainment) in between wave sets, no different from what happens when I sea-kayak.

  40. Did the enthusiasm for eugenics a century ago result from a reliance on a rudimentary form of PNS?

  41. An excellent essay – well written and thought-provoking.
    +1 to Mosh

  42. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Regarding comments about naive idealism on “science”.

    It’s more naive to insist on not examining the ideal, because so far none of the writers identifies what science is.

    The ideal is all we have. It’s not productive to transfer the ideal to the scientists, and say that science is what scientists do.

    Imagine.
    Q 1/
    What is horseback riding ?
    A 1/
    It’s what horseback riders do.

    It’s not productive. It’s much better to list the things involved. To give answer 1 is to be obstructive of dialogue.

    • Steven Mosher

      Its very productive. It says. “go look at what they do” observe.
      use the scientific method on science itself.
      or sit in your arm chair and construct theories about what you think science is. never test those theories against observation. in short, clamor for an ideal of science, but never apply that ideal to your own activity.

      what you will find is that the ideal doesnt exist.
      never has, never will. go bring me a cup of that ideal. i want to measure it

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven Mosher said:
        “Its very productive. It says. “go look at what they do” observe.”
        .

        Q/ Where is Japan ?
        A/ Just go look at Japanese people where they live.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven.
        You’re back using your “cup o’ science” bit.
        I already dealt with it. With a little freshenup, here it is

        “One problem with Mosher’s approach is obvious. In asking for a cup of science, he gives a test for existence.
        In so implying that it is true that science does not exist, he kneecaps some persons’ viewpoint as if they are unwittingly representing an ideal, perhaps not realizing the intangible nature of unthings and nonthings.

        However, next he states that science is what scientists do.
        Noted that he’s only transferred the problem of holding an idealized object, he’s not removed “the problem”.

        Now he has an idealized person or group. They are virtual, as they cannot be assigned any characteristics such as “red headed” or tall” or “just took a poop”. The only characteristic Mosher’s scientist can possess is that of doing science, which returns us to the virtual representation, which would not exist but that we use it ( virtual object ) as a part of the proposition. Which Mosher does.

        Since it is a false proposition that Mosher’s scientist has red hair, or is 42 years old, or has any other characteristic assigned I can assure Steve that if he can fetch a gallon of scientist, I can extract that cup of science.

        In other words, Mosher refuses definition and dismisses the virtual “science” as non existent, but offers a virtual “scientist”, who is doing it.
        and says “there you go”

        yuk
        yuk

  43. I also think there’s a lot of good insight here. But the idea that immediate action is required is the biggest problem. The post seems to presuppose that there is a good rationale behind the call for immediate action. I’ve never seen that rationale adequately explained. And I mean even assuming that the “consensus” position represented by the IPCC is correct. (This is especially true after the recent IPCC report on extremes.) It always tends to be either exaggerated or extremely vague. There are no proposed mechanisms (within a reasonable time frame not involving hundreds of years) for catastrophic impacts that cannot be dealt with even if action is delayed.

    Also, the “immediate action” meme keeps being repeated in a “cry wolf” manner. Someone says “we have 10 years to save the planet”, and 10 years later the message is still the same. I consider it a politically motivated attempt to artificially make the situation seem more dramatic than it is to try to get people to support climate policy.

  44. chuckspinney

    I must say that I find the whole idea of post-normal science to be very puzzling and, quite frankly, smacking of pop sociology. Kuhn postulated the idea of “normal science” as a means of distuiguishing it from what he called “revolutionary” science. The classic example of revolutionary science in action, and by far the best documented historically, is the paradigm shift brought to fruition by Isaac Newton (BTW, just before he died, Kuhn said he wished he never coined the term “paradigm shift” because it had been so cheapened by overuse). The best documented sequence of normal science in action is the fleshing out Newtonian physics (and related fields in engineering and science) in the period between Newton’s grand synthesis and the experimental anomalies that started coming to a head with the unalterable, painfully discombobulating results of the Michaelson-Moreley experiment. Einstein and great works in atomic physics early in the 20th Century by Bohr, Heisenberg, et al, were together stunning bits of revolutionary science, perhaps the greatest collective intellectual achievement in the history of mankind, and set the stage for the next round of normal science. The Higgs boson, as I understand it, seems to be a an excellent example of normal science fleshing out that great work as opposed to being an example of a paradigm shattering experiment like that done by Michaelson and Morely.

    How the idea of “post normal” science fits into Kuhn’s view of scientific progress is simply beyond my comprehension.

    I think the real issue of “post normal” science is corruption of a science still in its early stages brought about by politicization of that science and the spectre of big money flowing to the winners of the so-called scientific debate. This is a subject I became very familiar with in my 33 years of defense work, mostly in R&D and acquisition economics. I am attaching this link ( http://db.tt/XtAjH2MH ) to a lecture on the evolution of knowledge and creativity that I used to give each year to a selected group senior officers at the Naval War College which was assigned a special research project by the Chief of Naval Operations. I ask interested readers to examine specifically the discussion of the evolution of the Ptolemaic Universe to the Newtonian Univers to the Einsteinian Universe and then to examine the last slides where I discuss the various categories of relationships between the observer and the observed in the scientific/creative process.

    I would suggest that within this framework, Climate Science has not yet reached a level of predictive quality achieved by the astronomers who forumulated the Ptolemaic Universe (which by the way was a fantastic mathematical effort, albeit entirely wrong in terms of its physics). This failure of prediction arises in part because climate scientists have fallen inadvertantly into the fourth category of relationships between the observer and the observed — namely they are “shaping and being shaped by” their observations — which in some cases (like Darwinian evolution or the interaction of decision cycles in war) is an unavoidable limitation. But at the same time, the climate club is pretending that they have adopted the Laplacian assumption that they are objective observers that have no effect on their the shape of their observations, which is absurd, given the fact they are manufacturing observations with computer models (also a well established Pentagon practice). That absurd assumption leads them to make silly claim that the evidence, which they manufactured, is incontrovertible. Of course, when you add in the effects of big bucks, such claims have a practical purpose, just the Pentagon’s balony about the impact of revolutions in warfare (the effects of which are also concocted in computer models) to justify a pork-barreling money grubbing agenda.

    And that is why I find this discussion of “post normal” science to be incomprehensible.

    Chuck Spinney

    • Steven Mosher

      its pretty simple how it fits.
      normal science, filling out a paradigm continues on or is replaced by a revolution.
      There is another path.
      take the science of radiative physics. normal puzzle solving. its now in fact engineering.

      Now, take that normal science and put values in conflict, make the stakes high.. put that normal science in a GCM that predicts aweful things.

      Suddenly.. people around that science start acting differently.

      in short, the notion that we go from normal science to revolution then on to normal science after that revolution.. misses the path of what happens when a normal science intersects with values and high stakes

      • Does everyone on the planet have, on average, one ovary and one testicle ?

        The ability of physics to describe, with some accuracy, some systems does not translate across all temperature/pressure/temporal regimes.
        You can have a jolly good guess, plus or minus 10%, at many complex steady state systems using the equilibrium approximation. However, it is a guesstimate and is not empirically derived. Pretending your system is something it is not, and making estimates based on changes in influx of 0.1% is not the act of a dispassionate rational actor. Pretending one can observe changes in global oceanic heat or outgoing long wave radiation, down to the 0.1% level is not truthful, even if you have statistical evidence to support your observations, because you know that you do not understand the system you are studying to this level.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven Mosher,
        Bring me a cup of normal science. It can’t be found either, oddly enough, eh ?

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven Mosher, all you’re doing is denying other people’s view out of hand, and limiting their available word choices in order to argue using exactly what you denied them.
        Your “normal science”, that is something you claim that people can be around.

        When other people use the word “science” you behave as though it does not exist, when you demand a cup of it – supposedly to show them that the thing they refer to does not exist as a material object.
        Then you turn around and use the term “normal science”. Why not produce a cup of it then, or stop using the term until you can define science without referencing the word “science” ?

        How can “normal science” be any more real than “science” is ?

  45. The inherent contradiction in PNS is that it invokes the precautionary principle to to advocate potentially reckless and wasteful policy solutions.

    • Correct. The PP cuts both ways. We just got a sneak preview in India this week of what’s in store for much of the world if we follow a doctrinaire PP to the exclusion of prudent energy planning. Not very precautionary, is it?

    • Steven Mosher

      PNS does not invoke ANYTHING. first and foremost its a description of what is going on. Its not normal science or revolutionary science.

      think of it this way. describe what happens when normal science intersects or comes into contact with values in conflict and high stakes.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        “describe what happens when normal science intersects or comes into contact with values in conflict and high stakes.”

        Some scientists desert their first love for big face and money. Corruption ensues.

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Steven Mosher requests: “Describe what happens when normal science intersects or comes into contact with values in conflict and high stakes.”

        That is an easy request to satisfy, Steven Mosher.

        Normal science continues, because contact with “values in conflict and high stakes” is now, and has been for many centuries, the normative enterprise of science.

        E.g., in Neil Sheehan’s A Fiery Peace in a Cold War we read:

        “While [mathematician and scientist] von Neumann still kept his hand in at pure mathematics by doing an occasional proof, he had long since become bored with the abstract realm of mathematical research. He was instead dedicating his nonpareil mind to the practical applications of mathematics and mathematical physics to the service of the American State, first during the Second World War and now in its contest with the Soviet enemy. With the exception of the Coast Guard, no American military or intelligence organization existed that John von Neumann did not advise.”

        Or to quote that era’s SecDef Charles “Charlie Engine” Wilson: “The price of progress is trouble and I must be making lots of progress.”

        Nowadays, climate science is making lots of progress, and normatively for any scientific discipline, now is paying the standard price: trouble.

        Conversely, if we seem to remember an era when climate science had no trouble, that climate science of that era was *NOT* scientifically normal, but rather was moribund.

        Doesn’t that make sense, Steven Mosher?   :)   :)   :)

      • Steven Mosher

        “Normal science continues, because contact with “values in conflict and high stakes” is now, and has been for many centuries, the normative enterprise of science.”

        so you would argue that the stakes in play surrounding the science of archeology match those at play in climate science? interesting.

        Lets see about about the stakes at play in the science of acoustics?

        Optical science?

        computer science?

        But I am an evidence based person. Show me the lobby groups that influence optical science. and describe the values at play there.

        It is trivially true that to some extent politics and values plays in all science.

        What we are trying to describe is what happens when all 4 conditions obtain. Now, to you it may all science may be the same. Easy to claim, hard to prove

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Steven Mosher asks: “Show me the lobby groups that influence optical science.”

        I is my pleasure to oblige you, Steven Mosher. A good start, that includes many further references, is William J. Broad’s history  … which describes how ideology-first lobbyists induced America to spend $60 billion dollars on space-based laser technologies … that scientists appreciated from the beginning were technically infeasible.

        What is your next historical query, Steven Mosher?   :)   :)   :)

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Lobbying in optics? It is my pleasure to oblige you, Steven Mosher.   :)   :)   :)

        Consult William J. Broad’s Star Warriors for the history of a sixty-billion dollar ideology-driven lobbying effort associated to space-born laser-based missile defense … that scientists knew from the beginning was technically infeasible.

        Steven Mosher, it is good that you so ardently and explicitly desire to learn, because it is so plainly evident that you have a *LOT* to learn!   :)   :)   :)

        What is your next historical question, Steven Mosher?   :)   :)   :)

      • A fan of *MORE* discourse

        Sorry for the duplicate post … a browser crash forced a retype, but it looks like the original post went through before the crash.

  46. PNS has to be to the biggest excuse for scientists having their grubbly little hands caught in the cookie jar of politics and funding. “Oh but I have to behave this way because if I didn’t the science wouldn’t get done! Besides we only did it to save the planet!” Yeah! Pull the other one!
    Trouble was somewhere along the line, the basic science got left out….

  47. It’s very damaging. There’ll be no warmists in the real power-hole, when really cold winters hit.

  48. As usual, Mosher’s posting reflects his innate intelligence and penetrating insight. I think, nevertheless that one aspect is missing from the discussion. The problem in PNS related to climate change is not merely that “immediate action is required” but rather, the extremity of that immediate action, the cost of that action, the impact of that action on our lives, the political difficulty in obtaining worldwide agreement to this action, and the technical difficulty in implementing it even if all the other problems could be overcome. Despite my uncertainty about the magnitude and future impacts of AGW, I still think it would be prudent to vigorously pursue policies to reduce carbon emissions WHILE STILL PROVIDING THE GROWING INDUSTRIALIZING POPULATION OF THE WORLD WITH ENERGY. When Governments pass edicts to reduce emissions 80% by 2050 (actually 87% from BAU) I don’t see how this can be done considering the cost, political difficulty, the impact on our lives, and the technical difficulty while still providing the people with adequate energy. The US is a poor country. We are fiscally broke. All the proposed schemes are costly and technically suspect. So it is not the IMMEDIACY of the action, but rather the EXTREMITY of it that worries me.

    • Steven Mosher

      ‘extremity of that immediate action, the cost of that action, the impact of that action on our lives, the political difficulty in obtaining ”

      That would be an amplifying consideration.

  49. I am all for waiting a little longer for the truth, but they want my money now…

  50. Joachim Seifert

    The major point of post-normal science is missing: IGNORANCE
    of facts, of sceptical views and persons, just everything not
    in AGW line, unpleasant to them, unsuitable to them, contradicting
    their approach…..
    Discuss with any AWG-proponent: As soon you get into details
    and they are going to loose the argument, they brake off the
    conversation….no more response, their last refuge argument is:
    “science is settled” and the “we have consensus”….and then
    they will turn off the microphon…
    This is behaviour is POST-NORMAL…..

  51. Paul Vaughan

    “Today, few people embroiled in this debate would admit that the situation has changed how they would normally behave.”

    I wonder if this is true.

  52. In fact, were I to rewrite the Crutape letters I would do it from the perspective of PNS, focusing on how the behavior of those doing science deviated from the ideals of openness, transparency and letting truth come on its own good time.

    I think you should write a new book expanding on this essay. Climate Science Gone Wild is just one example. Fascinating topic.

  53. Steve. MT’s POV is a bit more sophisticated than you put it. there is an old USENET message that Eli posted a while ago
    ————

    4) It is clear enough that a change of 20 C would be cataclysmic, whether that change is a warming or a cooling. It is also clear enough that a change of 0.2 C is of little consequence, and may be on net beneficial. There is no reason to believe that this function is linear. The contemplated changes (~2 C) are large enough that we can not have total confidence that the impacts will not be catastrophic.

    5) There is no plausible argument that any particular climate change will have a beneficial impact comparable to the worst plausible case negative impact.

    6) The risk-weighted cost of unrestrained anthropogenic perturbation must therefore be dominated by the fact that the plausible worst cases have more cost than the plausible best cases have benefit.
    ————

    The economists took about ten years to catch up.

    • What has the last 1.5 C. degrees of warming done? Where, oh where would we be without it?
      ================

    • 6) is interesting. To decarbonize the global economy would not be a trivial task. All the capital sunk into existing coal/oil/methane/cement/glass/steel production, distribution and usage would become worthless. We would have to invest a significant fraction of GDP into carbon free alternative primary energy sources and completely change the way we build, without cement, glass and tars.
      Oil producing exporting states would collapse, as petro-dollars dry up and their governments need to import food.
      The shift in resource allocation from fossil fuels would suck money from governments and the stock market, destroyed by the collapse of the oil/construction/steel industries. I doubt government funded pensions and healthcare would survive.
      The military would be in real trouble, aircraft carriers without aircraft lack real punch.
      Decarbonization, even over decades, would be economic disaster. Economic disasters kill people.

      • While Eli has a fond spot in his heart for Scotland and Norway, having most of the satrapies fold up and blow away would not necessarily be a bad thing.

        OTOH, you are making a load of assumptions

      • The plausible benefits of using fossil fuels, cement,steel and glass are all around us. Switching to a zero carbon world, a requirement so as not to ‘perturb’ the atmospheric CO2, was your supposition.
        Quite how one would support a global population, carbon free, is never stated. However, the catastrophic economic collapse of the world economy would, I suggest, kill a major fraction.

      • Scotland/UK and Norway are seeing massively declining North Sea crude oil production numbers. Get a grip, people. We need alternative and renewable energy strategies right now, independent of AGW. The existence of the possibility of bad effects of AGW turns it into a no-brainer to proceed.

        Biggest case of myopia that the climate skeptics have (and a few others, of course).

      • WHT, yes and AGW and peak oil are the part of the problem. It’s very damaging to any potential solution.

      • Edim, thank you for finally changing your tune and admitting that AGW and peak oil are part of the problem. Yes, indeed, ideas are needed as this predicament is damaging to the global ecoonomic problem we will need to solve.

      • I mean the AGW and peak oil scare stories.

      • Yes, even though I rarely if ever project economic scenarios, scare stories can be effective to raise awareness.

      • NO! They muddy the waters and only do damage to all. We need understanding, not hysteria.

      • Correct, the cornucopians get hysterical in their promise of unbounded riches in hydrocarbons. The latest corno is Leonardo Margueri, an oil executive who was debunked cleanly by realists recently.

      • The blackouts in India if not caused by a low-carbon, anti-industrial environmentalist policy are a taste of things to come in a world dominated by such ideas. Eli, what you miss out in your description of the possible future in a high-carbon world is a description of the present. A very comfortable life for those who live in such a world and the promise of comfort for those who can realise the same gains. Meanwhile you posit a low-carbon future for all of us which can only be seen in the squalid lives of those who are forced to live such lives already.

      • India, whatever it is, is not a place where environmental concerns dominate the economy. That straw herring don’t hunt.

        However, the way out, of course, is that the BRIC countries don’t have to pass through the Isambard Kingdom Brunel developmental technology stages, but can jump ahead to better and more efficient ways of utilizing energy

      • “We would have to invest a significant fraction of GDP into carbon free alternative primary energy sources”

        That presupposes that these alternative energy sources exist, and can be developed if we only invest enough.
        That is not the case, they don’t exist now. What technology will be available in the future we cannot know now. So, all the money we’re going to “invest” now is a total waste.

    • Steven Mosher

      yes, sorry about that Eli.

      MT and I chatted for the first time the other day and I tried to do justice in a very short space to 2 things.

      1. His priority in formulating this argument
      2. a brief account of his position.

      I assumed he would take me to task and take it apart. I appreciate his perspective on these things.

    • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

      And what happens if we act and stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere? Does the CO2 stabilize *for all time* at some “ideal level”? Or, more likely, does it start to change on it’s own – up or down – and we face another conundrum?

      You do realize that implying we *must act* now also implies we *must act* in the future when CO2 continues to move, right?

      So how about we think through the WHOLE plan before we act? That is, how about we address how we will manage to maintain CO2 within whatever *ideal range* as determined by the “real climate scientists”.

      • The atmospheric concentration goes down, but very slowly (hundreds of years) unless some one figures a way of more rapidly removing it such as iron fertilization that does not have nasty side effects.

        As to a plan, why that would be an excellent thing. Unfortunately we have wasted twenty years dithering and today’s emissions are tomorrows problem.

      • k scott denison

        So, was is it a good thing that we didn’t act in the 1970’s to stop global cooling?

      • No. The costs would have been much lower and we would not yet have been committed to the warming path we are now on.

      • k scott denison

        So Rabett says when in doubt, spend!!!

        Great strategy.

      • As opposed to doing nothing when a disaster looms? Are you really that silly

      • Eli

        You only BELIEVE it is a disaster on the horizon. That does not make it any more of a fact that if you believed that the alien spaceship was going to pick you up later this year. Because you believe something is not a valid justification to force others to modify their behavior…..imo

      • Eli, the only disaster is spending on the non-existing problem.

      • You bet your kid’s lives.

      • No, you do.

      • Today’s emission is not a problem. I don’t understand why rabbit worry the sky is falling!

      • Today’s emissions are a problem tomorrow. Yesterday;s emissions are already a problem today.

        Further, because of climate change, the sky is not falling it is rising, see Ideal Gas Law.

      • Today is yesterday’s tomorrow. No problems. Eli’s worry is unfounded.

      • The atmospheric concentration goes down, but very slowly (hundreds of years)

        What stopped it from approaching zero over the last several millennia?

      • Pay attention please. We have jacked the concentration up by roughly 30% in 100 years. if we stopped adding excess CO2 to the atmosphere, the concentration would decrease to the 280 ppm typical of interglacial periods over some hundreds of years.

      • Eli, that’s just a speculation. The observation is that the change in atmospheric CO2 depends on the temperature level.

      • No according to half a zillion isotope ratio studies, oxygen mixing ratio balance and much more. In short try that nonsense somewhere else.

  54. The Skeptical Warmist (aka R. Gates)

    An excellent post Steven. Your points are well made and I largly agree with your characterization of PNS as it relates to climate science in particular. And as nice as it is to know that we are in a PNS situation, that knowledge in itself will not make the entrenched sides change their mode of operation of course. Pessimistically, I fear it will get worse before something changes and it will take a forceful hand of actual negative climate effects to bring about some coming together to enact meaningful change. The recent failures at Rio bring home this point. Or perhaps the “more CO2 is better” group will prove correct, and the CAGW group will slowly just fade away. I suspect the former rather than the later…

    • Steven Mosher

      Thanks.

      There is another thing that makes me even more cynical.
      Let’s call it the lack of an immigration policy or right of return for someone like say Muller.
      You cannot change your mind, even if you do change your mind, imagine that.

      As someone who used to doubt the surface record ( read me in 2007 )
      and then put in the work that others challenged me to do ( do your on damn surface record mosher ) I can empathize with the reaction Muller has received from say, Michael mann.

  55. This post, and the follow up discussion, are very interesting. As a non-scientist, I’m very reluctant to offer any observations. However, since at least part of the discussion has dealt the role fear/reluctance plays in the practice of science, I thought I’d set that reluctance aside for a moment.

    I read an article this morning by Amy Sohn of Discovery News. The article was about a study on the transport of dust particles around the world. The study found that the dust particles may be having an unexpectedly large impact on global weather.

    I noted in particular remarks by Daniel Jacob, an atmospheric chemist at Harvard University, who stated: “In terms of the effect of aerosols on climate, we tend to be fixated on human activity. But we have this big dust haze layer that’s several miles over our heads. This study nicely reminded us of that. Right now, we don’t even know what the feedback is for dust on climate impacts, but we know it’s potentially big.”

    I noted those remarks because it is easy to see how they could set off a new firestorm within what has seemingly and sadly become an all too politicized scientific discipline. For example, I can see Jacob receiving emails asking him — “How could you imply that we have a fixation on human activity/attribution and that ‘we don’t even know what the feedback is’!? Do you not understand how those loony skeptics will use your statements!?”

    In the social sciences, there have long been acceptable and unacceptable study results, or results that are verbotten and results that are welcome. The physical sciences, at least from the outside looking in, have seemingly escaped this restriction upon the search for fundamental truths. This seems to no longer be the case, if it ever was.

    I hope you all are able to remedy the limits now placed upon the free and unfettered search for fundamental truths. This seems much more important, at least to me, than any other challenge science and scientists face today.

    “Poor Daniel Jacob.” That was the thought that remained with me after I’d finished the article.

  56. So this whole PNS things can be summarised as “There’s a debate and it gets a bit messy ‘cos politics gets involved”

    One could say the same thing about branches of psychology, vaccine use, GM foods, stem cell research, economics, aid to developing countries, etc.

    It’s a descriptive term. It changes nothing; not the way the science is done nor how it’s attacked.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Agreed 100% And fortunately, the problem is very easy to fix.

      Just let “PNS” stand for “pretty normal science.”   ;)   ;)   ;)

    • It’s more than just politics, IMO – which is why all those other fields suffer from similar problems even when they aren’t nearly as overtly political in a classic sense.

      It is a descriptive term, and inherently changes nothing – but a realization of the overriding reality of PNS, a reality that overlays the entire debate in all aspects, offers a bit of a road map, a shred of potential.

    • Louise wrote something I agree with. They must be serving Haagen-Dazs in hell tonight.

    • Steven Mosher

      Louise I think there is a matter of degree that turns on the values at stake and the size of the stakes.

      stem cell is a good example. gray goo is another example..

      And you can look at my defining example, even there helpful readers show how some aspects of PNS are there.

      I’m not a fan of black and white definitions, but starting with one does allow people to tease out the details.

      I suppose were I do this essay over and spend more time I would go back to Kuhn and start from there with more detail. who knows it might all fall to pieces.

  57. Two points on PNS regarding a built-in feedback in problem definition and language.

    To be honest, I read what I perceive as an unending parsing of of Post-normal science, Kuhnian science, yada-yada and wanted to scream out at discourse on a level with “counting angels on the head of a pin”. Then I thought: well, I just can’t wrap my mind around this situation and what I am really reading here is other people just struggling to cope with it. And that made me wonder–could it be a characteristic of a post-normal ‘circumstance’ that the very process of trying to define and characterize the circumstance often may provide a detrimental feedback (with gain). Science converges wheres post-normal activites appears to diverge. (A Post-normal effort as a failed paradigm shift in the making?)

    In another throwback to the old days, the language (to me) evokes an uneasy comparison with prose from the old Soviet system –“Glory to the Great Kuhnian Peoples”, “Forward to the victory over the Post-normalists hooligans”. Rigged judges (peer reviewers). Lots of material here….

    Can we tone things down a little and maybe call ‘Post-Normal Science’ something like, say ‘Kafkaesque science’?

    Thats a really nice fit, (modified from Wiktionary.org):

    kafkaesque – Adj.

    1.) Marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity.

    2.) Marked by surreal distortion and often a sense of impending danger.

    Or perhaps to be more modern, how about ‘Taser dialog’, and ‘Taser Fests’ [conferences where both sides are present.]

    Lighten the language when communicating about a post-normal (kafkesque?) situation and make the topic more accessible to more people. If the language in a post-normal situation is not accessible by a larger audience then a good resolution is not likely in the cards. Because we have over the years given the non-scientific community a simplistic view how science works, the larger audience will react any ‘science’ crises in terms of that view. Extensions to or modifications of that view need to be explained in comparable language–for example, a taxonomy of sciences and meta-science would not cut the mustard. If it walks like an academic and talks like and academic, it must be an academic. ;o)

    For the record my present view is that ‘science is science’ and we do not need the concept of post-normal science. We simply need to put science in perspective as a collection of knowledge and tools useful in informing societal and policy actions. We ourselves have be informed, but also we have to assure that our leaders are informed and do not conveniently abdicate their decision making to the computers (tools).

  58. After all these years I’m beginning to wonder whether the term PNScience has actually been causing a lot of confusion. Colleagues at Hamburg have made the distinction between a post-normal Situation and PNS. The Situation is when facts are uncertain etc. The PN Science is what sort of work is properly done under those circumstances. Now, all that Silvio and I have said about that, is that the peer community should be ‘extended’. We have not discussed the special sorts of methods that should be adopted in PN situations, nor the characteristic corruptions of science in PN situations.

    As to the corruptions, they are quite clear. When the political imperatives dominate over the internal criteria of quality, then the enterprise becomes corrupt. This is partly because under those conditions the scientists become what Roger Pielke Jr. has called ‘stealth advocates’ – that is deceivers of the public. The example of Lysenko is a good one here. In all his campaigns he needed to fake the field statistics along with the test results. But that was standard practice under Stalin, when everyone had to report a large annual percentage increase in production, or face the consequences. The same sorts of corruptions occur whenever the balance between internal and external criteria of quality is tilted too far in one direction. Those criteria may be industrial, military, policy, ideology, etc.; and the corruption in the other direction occurs when the scientists will not or can not deliver on the promises they made to obtain external support.

    As to methods, I would belatedly start the discussion by saying that in PN situations, the scientists need to be more aware than under normal conditions. For example, in ordinary research there are standard techniques and parameters in statistical testing; these are part of the paradigm, adherence to them is necessary for getting results published; and they are rarely reconsidered. As it happens, the tests are interpreted by the ‘alpha’, which is designed to avoid the error of excess sensitivity; that ensures that tests will exclude possibly spurious results. (How well this quality-criterion works in practice is another issue altogether). Now, in situations where an early-warning would be appropriate, the relevant parameter is ‘beta’, which is designed to avoid the error of excess selectivity. That way the community will not fail to be alerted to possible harms.

    This may be obvious to all the readers of this blog. But among many scientists, even in environmental or policy-related fields, their training in ‘normal science’ has excluded reflection on such issues. They solve the puzzles that they were taught to solve at school, and issues of relevance to real problems are totally foreign to their awareness. It seems to me just possible that some of the climate scientists were wading into those extremely difficult fields of data management with little or now awareness of just how hazardous they are. Then it was too late!

    When I read those excellent discussions on WUWT, where blunders and pitfalls of data management are revealed, I reflect that this indeed is what PNScience is about. There is an extended peer community, whose members cannot be ignored because of their lack of formal qualifications, and who are exercising the best sort of quality assurance on publications in their field. They do not restrict their attention to ‘warmistas’ – the recent discussion of Anthony Watts’s study shows that this community is as rigorous about its friends as about its opponents. What more could one want?

    All this is preliminary reflection, composed under conditions of some haste. Thanks for bearing with me.

    Jerry

  59. My main worry is not deadlines – the Manhattan or Apollo project show paradigm altering science being done under tight deadlines.

    Although a lukewarmist, I recognize Hansen projection of extreme sensitivty, as well as Lindzen’s negative feedback projection both having possibility of being correct. The way I see current climate knowledge, it can *dismiss* very few possibiliies with certainty. This means even experts in this domain, are still only offering an opinion, not a known fact.

    What I see coming our of the IPCC is split evidence maniuplated to look one-sided. AGW proponents are justified in their alarm fop the planet, but it has been a mistake to consider the public a bloc that needs to manipulated into compliance. Apparently, if you’re a behavioral/ scoical scientist, Joe Public is always too selfish and parochial to appreciate the dire need to act. It’s this arrogant noblesse oblige, that has seem to serve as justification for their tribal mentality. Somewhere, the mission to convince the public, ended up distorting the ability of the science to self-correct.

  60. So we define the behaviour of “postnomal” scientists to be untrustworthy?
    ” those around them canonize them or demonize them and their findings become iconized or branded as hoaxes.”

    So how, then, do we progress from here then? The question of whether CO2 emissions need to be curtailed still needs to be answered in a finite timescale. The best, and most trustworthy, scientific advise needs to be available for those making it.

    Do we just shrug our shoulders, no nothing, and say it’s all just too uncertain?

    • Steven Mosher

      Well temp. ravetz suggested non violent communication. starting at square 0

    • Steven Mosher

      i dont define their behavior as being untrustworthy.
      the situation may require going the extra mile.

  61. I notice that the same generic group of climate scientists that touts post normal science and uncertainty as justification for not only taking action, but taking IMMEDIATE action is aligned with politically and culturally and is funded by the politicians who use “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” as their governing philosophy.

    Coincidentally.

    • How is discussion of post normal science supposed to be justification for immediate action. Ravetz wrote in his latest message that post normal science should mean stronger role for the extended peer review and mentioned specifically WUWT. It would be much more natural that only the alarmists would criticize PMS and skeptics would applaud it.

      As has been written in several places in this thread PNS seems to be considered a threat to their position by both sides of the argument as it’s message is that complex situations require complex approaches where many different issues are taken into account not only the pet arguments of one side or the other.

      In my view the need for something like PNS arises when the linear model of communication of science does not work, i.e. when the conclusions of science cannot be communicated in an easy to understand form but involve complications like unlikely but possible threats that may be large enough to be important or proposed policies which should be analyzed before their reasonableness can be assessed. To get most out of the knowledge that the scientists have more interactive communication is needed and the expertize of several groups of experts must be combined through direct interaction, not only papers and memoranda.

      Communication with the extended peer community may be essential for making the process consistent with values of democracy even when the extended community does not really add anything essential to the knowledge base.

      • Surely governmental policy is to be in the hands of elected politicians and scientific advice in the hands of scientists?

      • I agree. What I was trying to say is that for that to succeed we need a process that can transfer understanding of what science does presently tell and cannot tell to the politicians with as little distortion as possible on aspects most relevant for policy. The whole climate controversy is largely due to the difficulty of that task.

        The politicians don’t get one single message, they get many conflicting messages and each of the politicians often chooses that one that best suits her or his other priorities. Each politician may have her or his favorite scientist who is known to tell what the politician wishes to hear. It’s far from obvious that the winning message in the overall process will be that which best and in the most relevant way represents the real state of science.

        Part of the message that the scientist should tell is in the uncertainties and gaps of the knowledge. That information has legitimately different meanings for politicians of different political philosophies and may set different requirements for communication.

        The need of communicating through multiple channels makes the linear model of transferring information insufficient as the linear model assumes that the state of science can be expressed concisely and uniquely in a way that everybody understands similarly.

  62. NeedleFactory

    I thank Steven Mosher for this post. Two comments:

    1. I am puzzled why Steven says two different value systems are in conflict in climate science. Assuming good faith on both sides, are not nearly all players seeking truth?

    2. I wonder if we ought not speak of Climate Politics instead of Climate Science. Large sums of money are employed (past and future); political decisions must be made. Judith herself has indicated the political genesis of the IPCC: The entire framing of the IPCC was designed around identifying sufficient evidence so that the human-induced greenhouse warming could be declared unequivocal, and so providing the rationale for developing the political will to implement and enforce carbon stabilization targets in the context of the UNFCCC. (http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/09/testimony-followup-part-ii/#more-1469)

  63. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    Geologist/historian Naomi Oreskes surveys the climate literature, and concludes that present-day climate-research is “post-normal” in the strict sense that climate scientists are less alarmist than the evidence warrants: Naomi Oreskes: Why are climate scientists so conservative?

    Watch, read, think  … and then we’ll talk.   :)   :)   :)

  64. ….seems like a great deal of talk about a facet of human interaction that every plumber/sparky/mechanic/waiter understands perfectly and calls ‘agenda’.
    Maybe Poll Pot was right…I’m going to bed, the worlds gone mad. How many hours spent on this discussion?

    • Your comment well expresses my take on this topic. There seems to be a lot of time spent on esoteric topics more suited to the naval gazing types who read and contribute to this blog.

      I see far too many contributors who have agendas and take every opportunity to push their barrows, at the expense of reasoned debate on a very important topic.

      As for science, I am inclined to believe that nothing much ever changes with respect to its practice: the participants are subject to the same pressures of deadlines, competition for recognition as it was for Charles Darwin. The present state of evolution is a glaring example of shonky science buttressed by elitist practicioners.

      Sounds familiar?

  65. We can’t even agree on what is normal temperature and what is abnormal. for example, many years ago someone probably in the IPCC decided that we needed a base for plotting atmospheric temperature. After all, the climate science community was more interested in the change in temperature over the years – there was no clamour for temperature to be plotted against a Kelvin or even a Celsius zero. Why not label normal temperature ‘zero’ and other temperatures as ‘abnormal’. This would also have the advantage of legitimising the value judgements of the IPCC. Thus the temperature in 1940 became ‘normal’ and the temperature in 1905 became ‘abnormal’. This rule has been followed in practically every plot since. Apparently even by Christy, although he did make the sensible suggestion that it would be more useful to plot energy (in joules) against time rather than temperature.

  66. I liked this post, Steve. Perhaps the situation is similar to that in economics where there are a lot of people whose political views overlap with their economics research. But there is another more subtle problem and that is the control of the levers of power in the field. In economics, there is a broad range of views that are allowed to publish in journals, and have their work looked at as legitimate. I don’t see a similar situation in climate science. As the saying goes, the problem here is the elite scientists who have an extra responsibility for the quality of science and the culture of their field.

  67. WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

    The risk in the post normal “science” paradigm is that it is very easily coopted by those who aim to use fear (as pointed out by theduke above) to drive an agenda. This is being attempted daily by those that many call “alarmists”. To understand this, we need to think through the complete scenario of global warming:

    1. We know there is a lower bound on CO2 concentration in the atmosphere below which life, as we know it, cannot survive.

    2. Many suspect there is a higher bound on CO2 concentration in the atmosphere above which we “must act” to lower the increase and/or the absolute concentration.

    3. This implies that we must act to maintain CO2 within a set range, call it X to Y.

    4. We think we know how to increase CO2 concentration: by burning fossil fuels.

    5. Let’s assume hit the limit Y and decide that we must act.

    6. So we act, presumably by lowering/stopping the burning of fossil fuels.

    7. Now assume the concentration of CO2 starts to fall. We know that this can happen without man’s influence.

    8. Suppose now that it falls quickly towards X and we decide we need, once again, to act, this time to prevent CO2 from falling too low.

    9. We act again, presumably by burning fossil fuels.

    10. Repeat steps 5 to 9 until we know exactly how to maintain the balance.

    Now, in order to make our decision we need answer only a few more questions.:

    • What is the cost of steps 6 and 9?

    • How many times will we need to repeat 5-9 before we perfect the management of CO2 in the atmosphere?

    • So what is the overall cost?

    • Can we afford it?

    Thoughts?

    • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

      ps – this is what I call the “dog chasing the car syndrome”. It’s very easy to pontificate on what will happen if we don’t act. But no one ever seems to even ask the question: “If we’re successful, then what?”

    • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm |

      The risk in the post normal “science” paradigm is that it is very easily coopted by those who aim to use fear (as pointed out by theduke above) to drive an agenda.

      That’s rather alarming! We must do everything in our power to oppose PNS or else Those Who Aim To Use Fear To Drive An Agenda will win! And there’s *nothing* scarier than that!

      This is being attempted daily by those that many call “alarmists”.
      Ah yes. The technique of propaganda known as Name-Calling. Used to demonize those with a voice, dehumanize them, separate Them from Us by sentimental and irrational means. For shame. I call anyone an alarmist who seeks to alarm through propaganda. That’d be going on right here, then, wouldn’t it?

      To understand this, we need to think through the complete scenario of global warming:

      But not use a computer model to do it. That’d be Of the Devil.

      1. We know there is a lower bound on CO2 concentration in the atmosphere below which life, as we know it, cannot survive.

      Ah yes, the CO2 Starvation Level. Popular to bring that up. That level is 150 ppmv. It’s never been reached globally, or at least not since before the Oxygen Cataclysm. The lowest CO2 naturally gets in 100,000-ish year periods (at least it’s done so for about 10,000 years eight times in the past 800,000 years) is approaching 180 ppmv, a good 20% above that CO2 Starvation level. And guess what? Every species of plant to have evolved in the last 20 million years — over half of the current plant domains — has evolved to take advantage of the 180-280 ppmv range in the wild.

      2. Many suspect there is a higher bound on CO2 concentration in the atmosphere above which we “must act” to lower the increase and/or the absolute concentration.

      Which would be the “Expert Committee’s Must Decide Everything” buggaboo. Someone must suspect, nay, prove the highest level, therefore those deciders are in control over us.. nay, command and control. This logic is too very oversimplified (to borrow a phrase). The proof that CO2 levels must be brought down isn’t to do with some imagined level decided by some imagined Star Chamber. The evidence is the pure logic of Capitalism on the efficient allocation of scarce resources by the Market. You have heard of Capitalism in Wisconsin, right?

      CO2 levels are determined by the Carbon Cycle. If they’re in the historic range of 180-280 ppmv, they’re natural levels, and the natural resource is maintaining the natural balance. If the CO2 level is 400 ppmv, or 74% above the natural average level, and that’s three times higher above the natural average level than has happened in over ten million years, then we’re pretty confident the Carbon Cycle is too scarce for current rates of use.

      So we must privatize the Carbon Cycle, or we must regulate it by command and control. If we privatize the Carbon Cycle, then the people deciding that magic maximum CO2 level are the buyers and sellers in the Market — all of us, per capita, by the democracy of the Supply and Demand mechanism. See? Simple.

      3. This implies that we must act to maintain CO2 within a set range, call it X to Y.

      4. We think we know how to increase CO2 concentration: by burning fossil fuels.

      5. Let’s assume hit the limit Y and decide that we must act. See, you’re demonstrating what happens when people assume. Your Black-And-White view of the problem, presenting Politburo controls as the only alternative to whatever scheme you want, is a clear straw man argument.

      6. So we act, presumably by lowering/stopping the burning of fossil fuels.

      7. Now assume the concentration of CO2 starts to fall. We know that this can happen without man’s influence.

      8. Suppose now that it falls quickly towards X and we decide we need, once again, to act, this time to prevent CO2 from falling too low.

      9. We act again, presumably by burning fossil fuels.

      10. Repeat steps 5 to 9 until we know exactly how to maintain the balance.

      Now, in order to make our decision we need answer only a few more questions.:

      • What is the cost of steps 6 and 9?

      • How many times will we need to repeat 5-9 before we perfect the management of CO2 in the atmosphere?

      • So what is the overall cost?

      • Can we afford it?

      Thoughts

      I think, like many, you’re too quick to dismiss Capitalism.

      WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply

      ps – this is what I call the “dog chasing the car syndrome”. It’s very easy to pontificate on what will happen if we don’t act. But no one ever seems to even ask the question: “If we’re successful, then what?”

      If Capitalism is successful? Well, then, the size of the economy is enlarged, the relative amount of taxation drops, and we have maximized utility at optimal assignment of scarce resources by the Market mechanism of the Law of Supply and Demand. Or, more simply put, the American way.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        What happened Bart, ran out of witty comebacks?

        So you are *certain* that CO2 will *never* go below 180 ppm because it never has.

        Yet you are also *certain* temperature will run away at some level of CO2 even though it never has.

        So my simple question is: why?

        In both scenarios we have *never* in the history of the planet observed the behavior I proposed. But you are *certain* one won’t happen just as you are *certain* the other will!

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm |

        You think my comebacks have been witty? Shucks. Thanks.

        Now, these “*certain*” insinuations about CO2 below 180 ppmv and temperature and faith.. One, I have no “runaway warming” hypothesis. Why do you credit me with something I’ve never said? Is it to make it sound like I’m saying ridiculous things to you can more easily dismiss them?

        I’m reasonably convinced to an appropriate level of confidence by the data and inferences that historically CO2 in the atmosphere has been between 180 ppmv and 280 ppmv for 99.95% of the past 800,000 years, and that extrapolation of the best geological data places the start of that range at between 15 and 40 million years ago. (That’s over 6,000 years ago, for people of faith.) I didn’t say, imply, assert, claim, or argue that CO2 would never go below this level. I simply pointed out the improbability of alarmist propagandists like yourself who warn us how dangerous it is.

        So your “question” is simply a rhetorical device built on fallacy and agitprop. It needs no other answer.

        Especially to someone who so readily dismisses capitalism.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        I note that for someone who claims to embrace capitalism, you seem to avoid questions around cost. Rather you just assume it will take care of itself. Fascinating.

        So, you are implying by your response that you would have us *manage* CO2 between 180 and 280 ppmv.

        Please tell us how and how much.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

        Cost?

        The Law of Supply and Demand sets the price to the most economical level. Whatever else we know about the cost of privatizing the Carbon Cycle, we know it will have lower net cost than all other measures, including the measure of doing nothing at all.

        Who am I to substitute my judgement for the democratic judgement of the Market?

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        Oh, and ps – that you have faith is capitalism is excellent! Seems you also have faith in global warming!

      • Bart R. – just two days of CO2! My garden just knocked over my garage.

  68. Here’s an interesting case in PNS:

    http://research.ku.dk/search/publicationdetail/?id=996b564b-40b8-4489-9766-bffe263b50ce

    Let’s look at the world before this study:

    Greenland ice cap is melting. This is known to a probable confidence level. The rate isn’t well understood, most agree, but it’s positive and could be growing, and it makes sense that AGW contributes to the melting.

    Under PNS, the Science informs Policy that AGW probably contributes to the melting of the Greenland ice cap, and that as a result sea level will rise between 0.7m and 7.0m starting in about a century and taking at least a millennium to complete the process, if AGW contributes enough to warming and that with feedbacks the ice loss is total, which has happened in the past when there was other non-anthropogenic warming, so might happen again.

    Policy must make broad decisions based on this loose framework of highly uncertain but well-founded inference.

    Let’s look at the world since this study.

    Greenland ice cap is melting in spurts along some sort of step function, where apparently natural forces mediate the rate in clustered or spiked events. This is known to a probable confidence level. The rate isn’t well understood, most agree, but it’s positive and could be growing, and it makes sense that AGW contributes to the melting.

    Under PNS, the Science informs Policy that AGW probably contributes to the melting of the Greenland ice cap mediated by natural feedbacks and moderating influences, and that as a result sea level will rise between 0.7m and 7.0m starting in about a century and taking at least a millennium to complete the process, if AGW contributes enough to warming and that with feedbacks and moderating influences the ice loss is total, which has happened in the past when there was other non-anthropogenic warming, so might happen again.

    Policy must make broad decisions based on this loose framework of highly uncertain but well-founded inference.

    Do you see the difference to Policy?

  69. WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

    “which has happened in the past when there was other non-anthropogenic warming”

    This is the point where the policy becomes clear: adaptation, not mitigation.

    Why? Because if it has happened without anthropogenic warming, it is possible it will happen again, with or without anthropogenic warming.

    • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

      Which is a great argument for abolishing laws against arson.

      Fires can happen without matches and gasoline, after all.

      Heck, people die all the time without bullets or knives. Why call putting bullets and knives in people murder?

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        And your evidence that anthropogenic-generated CO2 has killed anyone is?

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm |

        Straw man.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

        weak answer

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Bart,
        It would seem that both your examples involved crimes that kill people.
        How then is it a strawman to ask who was killed by CO2 ?
        A strawman would be picked as stretching to an extreme example and presenting it as if the opponent’s position.
        In this case you supplied deadly examples of crimes or weapons to compare with

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        further, it was you, Bart, who supplied a strawman.

        Here it is
        “Which is a great argument for abolishing laws against arson.”

        You picked an extreme, stupid, easy to knock down argument, to represent what the opponent was supposedly saying. Strawman by definition.

      • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm |

        Weak high school tactic.

        Look, either you’re simply incapable of understanding what you read, or you enjoy twisting what others say to get a rise.

        Whichever it is, a waste of time to engage.

      • Well, Mr. WFGW obviously speaks for all Wisconsinites.
        Cheesehead philosophy: elect Joe McCarthy, Scott Walker, etc, and let them decide, ha ha.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo | August 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm |

        My examples were Reductio ad absurdum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum).

        Taken to the absurd consequences, WFGW’s proposal is clearly fallacious reasoning.

        Compare with (which we can shorten to cf if we’re literate) Straw Man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man), where I’d actually _purport_ WFGW said directly the absurd thing, to give myself an easy target then to attack by some other means.

        I’m not creating the illusion of refuting arson or murder (which you have noticed coincidentally both involve killing people, very observant of you but utterly irrelevant) and claiming WFGW were proposing arson and murder. I’m showing that WFGW’s logic makes zero sense in murder or arson, or any other area where a human hand causes a harm, by extension covering AGW.

        How can you really not discern the difference?

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Bart, I can discern what you pointed out. However, there are problems with your explanation, which I think I can show.

        Can we start out with:
        You said he created a strawman by asking who got killed by anthro CO2.
        Why is that a strawman ? Would it be a strawman if he had asked who got harmed by anthro CO2 ?

      • Steve Milesworthy

        You asked for “evidence”. There is evidence that the European heat wave of 2003 has anthropogenic CO2 fingerprints on it. This heat wave resulted in 10s of thousands of excess deaths.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo | August 5, 2012 at 1:50 am |

        “And your evidence that anthropogenic-generated CO2 has killed anyone is?” (WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming | August 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm |) implies that an assertion of “anthropogenic-generated” [sic] CO2 had killed anyone. Else, why call for evidence?

        But I never proposed or implied that CO2 was implicated in deaths. I could have, certainly. You _could_ read that into what I actually said, if you squint just right and start with a preconceived notion and are hostile to what was actually said, and are liberal with your interpretation. But it is not what I actually said. Therefore WFGW created a thing that was never said, which would naturally lead one to be dismissive of what was actually said — as it is replaced by this new malicious interpretation — and be dismissive of the argument as a whole, because its solid foundation is replaced with a faulty premise.

        The fault with the premise isn’t that there are no deaths associated with AGW due CO2E emission; that correspondence can be made to a high level of confidence in numbers in the tens of thousands. The fault is that it isn’t key to the argument, and thus not worth derailing the discussion into supporting and debating. Though Steve Milesworthy (| August 4, 2012 at 7:16 am | ) makes a good start.

        Hence, my Reductio ad Absurdum is an honest technique to illustrate the flaws in WFGW’s puppetry, and WFGW’s strawman is an illegitimate technique to attempt to pretend flaws in my discourse that aren’t there.

        That said, I have used straw man arguments, elsewhere. I’ve also used ad hominem too, and other illegitimate techniques. Just not in these comments. Catch me at them elsewhere, if you can.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Thanks for replying, Bart.
        Admittedly, your nicely done argument had me checked, but I think I have a handle or two on your argument.

        When you called “strawman” in relation to question asking who got killed by CO2, you seem to say that you were not really touching the subject other than to apply the reasoning “if it can happen without human influence, then do not mitigate”.

        I see his response question as following your reasoning, to see if the absurd was a good fit analogy for what he had said in total.
        You had given examples where human lives are taken, whereas his belief is that no lives have been taken OR provable harm done to any lives that would be outside of natural bounds.

        “But I never proposed or implied that CO2 was implicated in deaths”
        Agreed, but his demand did not say you did or necessarily imply you did. His demand, as I said, could have been for examination of the fit of your analogy…not only was it about deaths, it was about intention to cause death.

        So I think you cannot claim it a strawman because there seems a legitimate reason for asking who got killed,other than to present a strawman claim that you were making a claim which said that people have been killed by it.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo | August 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |

        Circular logic. http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/begging-the-question

        If WFGW had a legitimate point, then his question is legitimate. So his question could be legitimate. So his point could be legitimate. So his question was legitimate. So his point was legitimate. Except, his point was absurd, so we need not consider his question.

        If WFGW meant speak metaphorically, then he missed the point that his own argument was absurd.

        This is possible. You missed the point that WFGW’s argument is absurd; what one man has done, another may do.

        Or you may simply be used to discussions that are full of fallacy, and don’t know how to recognize them properly.

        Whether people were killed, either by the weather or in these hypothetical arsons and murders, is irrelevant. Whether there is evidence of the hypothetical deaths is therefore irrelevant. There are sound laws against arson and murder. WFGW’s argument would repeal them, were it true.

        Entertaining his question is thereby pointless, even if it weren’t a straw man.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Bart, I see.
        After digging into Reductio, I reexamined to see how it came out self contradictory ( absurd sensu stricto ), as y0u had supplied examples that involved human involvement ( crimes ), whereas I was thinking you could only fairly extend to examples which did not. I had misinterpreted his premise as “If it can happen naturally without man’s influence, do not mitigate”
        Whereas his actual proposition was “If it can happen naturally without man’s influence, do not mitigate ***even if man is influencing*** ”

        What makes your argument fair is what I missed ” …with or without anthropogenic warming.”

        Thanks Bart.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Sorry, should say misinterpreted his proposition, not his premise

  70. Post Normal Science is a contradiction of terms. Get real people, it is snake oil salesmen dressing up their untested and under developed or voodoo theories as science to give others a false feeling of security whilst in reality they are being screwed.

    No amount of academic obfuscation, hiding the decline, supressing the opposition or opposing views, ad hominem attacks, faking of Heartlend documents or pictures of melted street lamps is going to change what is nothing more, at best well intentioned guess work into real world science. But it may keep the funding flowing until enough people realise they have been duped, then climate science will suffer badly as may much other more honest endeavours in science.

    Science must sort out its own house or wait for it to be done for them and I fear the latter.

  71. I think he tries to excuse corrupt scientific practice by AGW activist scientists, whilst at the same time criticising rational sceptical questioning of this practice as being unwilling to play the [manufactured] consensus game.

    After all, who is pressing for action that will destroy western economies in order to reduce CO2, when there is NO actual empirical proof that CO2 poses the dangers the activist scientists claim? – It’s not the sceptics!

    Global warming ceased statistically in 1998 while CO2 concentrations continued to increase unabated.

    Is that a good reason to force western taxpayers into fuel, and general, poverty just to suit the perverted ambitions of the extreme left ‘progressive’ element?

    • WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

      Agree, and have yet to see an answer to the obvious “then what” question:

      If we act, stop CO2 from rising, then what happens? Everything is ideal and forevermore the concentration of CO2 remains stable?

      Not likely.

      I can anticipate the answer: “we’ll deal with that when it happens”. Yup, solid plan.

      Also, would like to know from the pro-AGW crowd if they are relieved that we didn’t act immediately back in the 1970s when the thought was we were entering a new ice age? Or are they among those who wish we would have acted immediately then as well?

  72. Post Normal Science => Corruption of Science for political ends.

    • As people fought against communism and fascism, people must fight against post normal science and environmentalism.

      • Girma | August 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

        Girma Orssengo, proud general in the war against the environment.

      • Enviromentalism => The ideology of man being unnatural

      • Girma | August 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

        A man like Ghandi?

        “The earth, the air, the land and the water are not am inheritance from our fore fathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it was handed over to us.”

        A man like George Carlin?

        “Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
        For strip-mined mountain’s majesty above the asphalt plain.
        America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
        And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.”

        A man like Teddy Roosevelt?

        “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance…
        “To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”

        Maybe a man like Paul Newman?

        “We are such spendthrifts with our lives, the trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.”

        Perhaps you mean a man like Albert Einstein?

        “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

        Could be you mean the ideology of Paul Coelho?

        “The planet is, was, and always will be stronger than us. We can’t destroy it; if we overstep the mark, the planet will simply erase us from its surface and carry on existing. Why don’t they start talking about not letting the planet destroy us?”

        Ultimately, environmentalism is about self-interest.

        If you curtail the Commons too much, you cost yourself the ability to maintain a stable economy. So while I’m a pretty poor environmentalist so far as sniffing flowers and petting squirrels, I’m one heck of a dedicated outdoors conservationist when it comes to the things it takes for my food to grow.

        The war you wage, Generalissimo Orssengo, is on yourself. Why do you hate yourself so?

  73. This is one way to describe PNS. I am not even certain it exists because there have been controversies before where ideas have been bitterly fought over. It started with Galileo and Copernicus. The latter new the opposition well and arranged to have his work published posthumously. Later on, the phlogiston idea just would not die until its supporters died. And more recently, social Darwinism and eugenics were distortions of science that required a world war to put in their place. There were always scientists who opposed such ideas but political control is what kept these perverted movements going. What we have with climate science is also political control. Their supporters now control scientific societies as well as journals and suppress contrary views. Their political arm controls the policies of the European Union and has a strong influence in the Democratic party in the U.S. Huge sums of money are now devoted to research pushing the global warming agenda. Despite that they have been unable to make a scientific case for the reality of greenhouse warming which is their one and only reason for existence. Elsewhere the greens are implementing global warming policies in Australia and New Zealand. To me this parallels the imposition of the virulent Nazi racial policies by the Third Reich which had their origin in the perversion of science by social Darwinism. Science to me is a search for explanations. If you are told that the explanation is already known there is no more science that you can do. The science is settled means that there is a holy book with all the answers and you better follow what it says. Don’t even think of questioning it if you don’t want to be cast out into the wilderness beyond where deniers lurk.

    • “Don’t even think of questioning it if you don’t want to be cast out into the wilderness beyond where deniers lurk.” And that’s the bottom line. My way or the highway green law currently being legislated by every country on the planet.

  74. At least in NZ there is an ongoing court case, shortly likely to make VERY public, the corrupt practices of those officials responsible for over egging temperature statistics used to influence policy decisions.

  75. WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming

    WANTED: AN APPROPRIATE ANALOGY OR EXAMPLE

    Tired of reading about the comparison of skeptics to tobacco “deniers”, AIDs deniers, blah, blah, I’m searching for a real analogy or example for those who say we should act now on cAGW.

    Here’s how I see the situation:

    1. We don’t know that temperature will run away… never happened before.
    2. We don’t know what “run away” even means.
    3. We don’t know what the harm of run away would be.
    4. No one has died from the run away to date.
    5. It can be argued that the temperature rise to date has benefited food production.
    6. We think that mitigation will prevent run away, but don’t know for sure.
    7. We know that severe mitigation will result in some deaths.
    8. But we want to act to mitigate, and now.

    My analogy is this:

    We observe people around the world becoming ill.
    We can see symptoms but cannot isolate a cause.
    We have some evidence it is a new virus.
    We think a new vaccine will prevent the disease, but don’t know for sure.
    We know the new vaccine will kill some percentage of people who take it.
    No one has died from the illness to date and they seem to be stabilizing.

    So, do we require that all individuals be vaccinated?

  76. The planet stopped warming in 1998 while CO2 continued to rise.

    Where’s the problem?

  77. Post Normal Science is creating the science to fit the concept de jour, that has never been and never will be science. It’s called fiction. When written about in science terms, it is called science fiction.

    It became science fiction the moment the consensus IPCC scientists in 1995 concluded they couldn’t find any such critter as AGW and Houghton brought in Santer to expunge all references to this and to replace it with the science fiction meme of AGW.

    The rest, as they say, is history, sadly still ongoing history in the making. Deceit upon deceit, faking historical temperatures is typical PNS – http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=10030&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClimaterealistsNewsBlog+%28ClimateRealists+News+Blog%29

    New Zealand temperature records were tampered with by Dr Jim Salinger around the time of the IPCC 1995 report compilation.

    http://www.climateconversation.wordshine.co.nz/2012/02/nz-temperature-record-its-worse-than-we-thought/

    Dr Salinger began working on the tampering in 1980 while still at CRU: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/uh-oh-raw-data-in-new-zealand-tells-a-different-story-than-the-official-one/#comment-234981

    CRU was the organisational hub of data tampering for the promotion of AGW, for example:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/16/russian-iea-claims-cru-tampered-with-climate-data-cherrypicked-warmest-stations/

    Post Normal Science is a euphemism for science fraud. Science fraud is not science as can be seen in those cases where it is proved, the erstwhile scientist loses all credibility as a scientist, in the normal world…

  78. The entire notion of PNS is a self-absurdity. It cannot be both the cases that the facts are unknown and that immediate action is required *on the basis of the facts that aren’t facts yet or possibly ever.*

    It is not that immediate action is ‘required’ it is that it is demanded as a matter of scratching ideological itches. Taken by itself PNS is nothing more than a formalization of Mencken’s endless hobgoblins.

    But when compared to Kuhn’s framework of ‘normal’ and ‘revolutionary’ science we find that PNS comes in at the boundary between the former and the latter. That is, what was taken as obvious ideological purity before now gets into ideological catfights.

    There is nothing at all perverse about the idea. So long as everyone shuts up and calculates and leaves ideological issues alone then no ideology becomes an issue. But when we are on the transition boundary to revolutionary science it is first and foremost about ideological purity and with trials.

    PNS is nothing more than a shoddy nonsense to give a patina of respectability to those with-trials as the manner in which science should performed. It is not that Kuhn’s ‘normal’ science is better. It’s just that everyone is more or less on the same page and raising the same social status flags. It’s simply less bothersome for the cocksure Ol’ Boys that made their reputation pushing the last round of Revealed Wisdom.

  79. Theo Goodwin

    “The situation in climate science are close to the polar opposite of this. That does not mean and should not be construed as a criticism of climate science or its claims.”

    But it is a huge criticism. It means that we have left the domain of science and entered the domain of religion. For example, The Precautionary Principle which is so dear to PNS folk is a version of Pascal’s Wager.

    Anyone who accepts Kuhn’s distinction between normal and revolutionary science today has not kept up with the field known as philosophy of science for at least 30 years. Back in the day Kuhn was a good exercise for the graduate students. That value disappeared long ago.

    • It means that we have left the domain of science and entered the domain of religion.

      The “we,” of course, is “we climate deniers.” On that we agree. Fortunately scientists are not in the same boat!

  80. WisconsinitesForGlobalWarming
    If you are a scientist working for the company that has developed the vaccine then you bring in a dead cat.
    That way you make a lot of money,the company makes a lot of money,people die,but people are always dying,you saved thousands of lives,what’s a few deaths?
    As a member of the unwashed masses it depends on how much you frighten me as to whether I choose the vaccine.It depends on my age(young people expect to live forever),do I have children(to threaten the children is always a good one)
    Is my husband cheating?..not really,just threw that one in there.
    PNS=Ka-ching.
    Swine flu=Ka-ching
    AGW mitigation =Ka-ching
    Preventing smoking=Ka-ching
    Preventing alcohol abuse does not equal Ka-ching.

  81. PMS was once a topic of great import and significance. Have you heard much about it lately? I expect PNS to follow a similar trajectory.

  82. Mosher:

    basically Im calling everyone in this debate a denialist. ouch. that will make me popular.

    No, that’s the best bit. A tour de force.

  83. I was going to write a much longer comment, but quite frankly I am speechless that anyone could hold these views.

    Clearly my life experiences have been radically different from yours.

    I live in a world where almost everybody on both sides of the climate debate act as gentlemanly as the “normal scientist” you were talking about.

    They do not care about the other’s political or religious beliefs.

    They question the other side out of a desire to find truth and not out of harassment.

    And they would never let their personal values effect their judgement.

    There are a few who do otherwise, but they are rare.

    However, you must live in a world populated by this second type of person.

    One who as you put it must defend their values at cost of being a good scientist.

    How foreign your world seems to me – like something that Hollywood has made.

    I don’t know how you and I are to communicate when our realities are so totally different.

  84. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Steven Mosher, your refusal to define the terms you’re using makes whatever you say rather weak.

  85. thisisnotgoodtogo

    The reason for refusal to describe the virtual object “science”, is apparently because a new ideal is to be put in that place .

    The virtual object “normal science” is injected in it’s stead, to make room. Now it’s a set with more than one as a population.
    Room for abnormal science as an ideal.

  86. Abnormal Anti-Science Dead Lines.

    Can we get a Dead Lines file for people to refer to before proposing them?

    Like anything by the Skydragon Slayers.
    Or “There is no proof of AGW”.
    Or “There’s an international conspiracy to ______________” (fill in the blank) ” and take away our Freedom!”
    Or “There is no Greenhouse Effect because greenhouses work by holding air in so it can’t convect and carry off the heat”
    Or “You’re making an ad hominem attack because you said the name of the person whose ideas you disagree with.”
    Or “There’s no proof human beings are increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere”.
    Or “The IPCC are corrupt.”
    Or “Steve McIntyre is a scientist.”
    Or anything about Climategate. Come off it; it’s been done to death. Anything that hasn’t come out in the hearings isn’t going to get more hearings to come out in. It’s over.
    Or Judith Curry has lost her mind.
    Or “denialist” is a malicious term that associates people with neo-Nazi sympathizers.
    Or any warning is alarmism.

    As much as the Skydragon Slayers had a lot of energy (and as they’re still going, it seems stamina), and they have Claes’ credentials, they’re a closed chapter.
    As much as you can redefine “proof” or “AGW” until you can conflate and confuse the statement, AGW is proven. Get over it.
    As much as many people internationally do things, they seldom are after your personal freedom. Or interested in stealing your tinfoil hat, either. Except the GWPF. They’re after your freedom. Clearly. ;)
    The Greenhouse Effect has roughly the same relationship to greenhouses as Cat Woman has to actual cats. Go ahead, try to cross Anne Hathaway with your tomcat to develop a new hybrid.
    Ad hominem and the hundred other terms people get plain wrong has to be retired until they get straight: ad hom is an attack on a person to reduce the credibility of their ideas, without reference to their ideas, and the hundred other mistakes in simple Latin phrases are corrected.
    There’s no proof people are causing CO2 to increase? How stupid do you think people are, that they’d even remotely consider such a line in the face of the overwhelming, straightforward evidence? Salsbyist fallacy notwithstanding, it’s just plain an insult to the intelligence of the audience to say this.
    The IPCC are corrupt? Voodoo paranoia. You want to see corrupt, look at where the guy who was in charge of BP when it leaked all over the Gulf is now. Or the bankers who were double-dipping risk profiles in dirty paper.
    Steve McIntyre’s a dedicated, hardworking, really smart and persuasive Philosophy graduate with a background in bookkeeping in the mining industry. None of that prevents him from being a scientist. Not being a scientist by his conduct or thinking or methods prevents him from being a scientist. It’s not a knock against him. I’m no scientist either.
    Climategate. It’s old dirty laundry airing. It didn’t pan out. Tempest. Teapot. Move along. Nothing more to see there.
    Judith Curry has strong opinions, and the gumption to stand up and host others with strong opinions. That’s called grace, not insanity.
    Denialist is an overdone term, and I can understand why people might feel linked to neo Nazi’s. After all, I frequently feel like I’m being associated with Pol Pot by people who use rouge.
    Normally, when you get a plausible and timely warning from someone who clearly means no malice, if you’re smart enough to heed the warning in time, you have cause to be grateful.

    • As much as you can redefine “proof” or “AGW” until you can conflate and confuse the statement, AGW is proven. Get over it.

      So show and tell.

      The consensus of the scientists for the IPCC 1995 report couldn’t find it. This was fraudulently changed by Houghton and Santer.

      Mindless repetition of that unproven pro AGW meme does not equal proof.

      Which is why nothing is ever fetched to prove it.

      Put back the Water Cycle and The Greenhouse Effect disappears.

      That’s why nothing is ever fetched to prove it, because it doesn’t exist.

      • Myrrh | August 4, 2012 at 5:54 am |

        The “Water Cycle”?

        This Water Cycle? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_cycle

        The one that parallels, moderates and feeds back with the Carbon Cycle in complex ways? Sure, let’s try to put it back in.

        Human activities that alter the water cycle include:
        agriculture
        industry
        alteration of the chemical composition of the atmosphere
        construction of dams
        deforestation and afforestation
        removal of groundwater from wells
        water abstraction from rivers
        urbanization

        Effects on climate

        The water cycle is powered from solar energy. 86% of the global evaporation occurs from the oceans, reducing their temperature by evaporative cooling. Without the cooling, the effect of evaporation on the greenhouse effect would lead to a much higher surface temperature of 67 °C (153 °F), and a warmer planet.[17]

        Aquifer drawdown or overdrafting and the pumping of fossil water increases the total amount of water in the hydrosphere, and has been postulated to be a contributor to sea-level rise.[18]

        Effects on biogeochemical cycling

        While the water cycle is itself a biogeochemical cycle,[19] flow of water over and beneath the Earth is a key component of the cycling of other biogeochemicals. Runoff is responsible for almost all of the transport of eroded sediment and phosphorus[20] from land to waterbodies. The salinity of the oceans is derived from erosion and transport of dissolved salts from the land. Cultural eutrophication of lakes is primarily due to phosphorus, applied in excess to agricultural fields in fertilizers, and then transported overland and down rivers. Both runoff and groundwater flow play significant roles in transporting nitrogen from the land to waterbodies.[21] The dead zone at the outlet of the Mississippi River is a consequence of nitrates from fertilizer being carried off agricultural fields and funnelled down the river system to the Gulf of Mexico. Runoff also plays a part in the carbon cycle, again through the transport of eroded rock and soil.[22]

        Now, clownish a source as wikipedia admittedly can be, putting the Water Cycle back in, with the proof of water vapor greenhouse effect being so patent and thus confirming the CO2 GHE, with the questions about dynamic feedbacks and the risk that they may become much more positive with changing conditions, with all the other human-caused global changes that curtail the Carbon Cycle (and Water Cycle)’s ability to maintain natural levels globally, I can’t see how the Water Cycle supports your point, or does anything but defeat it.

        AGW requires very little to prove. Anthropogenicity. GHE. Global Warming.

        The Warming has been demonstrated by observation on BEST, HadCRU, GIS, UAH, ARGO, RSS globally. It’s true, it has some variability that on periods less than 17 years makes trendology useless, and even on periods of up to 30 years requires application of Bayesian inference, but warming is mathematically established to over 99% confidence globally by observation, using the best statistical methods to confirm the robustness of the observations (which eliminates all UHI arguments, up to and including nocturnal boundary layer turbulence).

        It’s true other causes at other times have led to other warmings; our observations for those other causes and incidents are sparse and unreliable, so we can say little about them other than that to all appearances by direct observation now there are no current causes (including the Water Cycle) that better explain warming than the GHE due CO2E level increase. Further, models show that the warming due other causes cannot satisfactorily explain the observed warming, absent taking into account the GHE. Warming. It’s a proven scientific fact. This information is readily available and has been cited countless times by countless people, including here at Climate Etc. Saying “nothing is ever fetched to prove it” is a flat out lie.

        GHE? The Water Cycle over water-rich and water-poor regions, like rainforests and deserts, that are otherwise similar clearly shows heating differences that are dramatic and can be best explained by GHE, to the extent no other explanation comes close to accounting for observations. The similarities and differences of the H2O and CO2 molecules with regard to radiative transfer tell us CO2’s contribution can be expected to continue to increase and be strong in a semi-logarithmic relation to CO2’s concentration at all levels of the atmosphere. Rayleigh Scattering, clearly seen in blue eyes and blue skies, gives ample evidence for some of how the GHE works, and from there no other explanation stands scrutiny. GHE. It’s a proven scientific fact. This information is readily available and has been cited countless times by countless people, including here at Climate Etc. Saying “nothing is ever fetched to prove it” is a flat out lie.

        Anthropogenicity. The correlation of burning of carbon-based fuels with the rise on CO2 level, the monitoring of and accounting for all other sources of CO2E found in nature is meticulous and has been done repeatedly many ways. Do I need to bring out the CO2 Pencil metaphor again? Salsby tried to pretend that replacement of CO2 from anthropogenic sources with other CO2 in chemical equilibrium reactions throughout the Carbon Cycle somehow means the inputs by man don’t count, based on isotope ratios, but that fallacious claim is easily disposed of; the Water Cycle residence times for water reservoirs demonstrates this. That some argue that “only 3% or 4%” human contribution is too small to have much effect. The compound interest formula for 3% since 1750 on a principle of 280 would run to an addition of 646,134. Clearly, the Carbon Cycle is working overtime to recycle human waste. That’s the Carbon Cycle we all own an equal interest in. Our thing is being overused by some Free Riders. Get it? Anthropogenicity. It’s a proven scientific fact. This information is readily available and has been cited countless times by countless people, including here at Climate Etc. Saying “nothing is ever fetched to prove it” is a flat out lie.

        Which is why this “There’s no proof of AGW” lie needs to be tossed on the trash heap in the Dead Lines file.

      • Yes, that Water Cycle…

        It’s missing from the cartoon AGW energy budget – The Greenhouse KT97 and kin – because, if it had been included it wouldn’t be the comic cartoon energy budget it is, because, putting it back in shows there is no such critter as “The Greenhouse Effect of greenhouse gases warming the planet 33°C to 15°C from the -18°C it would be without them.

        From the wiki page you link: “Effects on climateThe water cycle is powered from solar energy. 86% of the global evaporation occurs from the oceans, reducing their temperature by evaporative cooling. Without the cooling, the effect of evaporation on the greenhouse effect would lead to a much higher surface temperature of 67 °C (153 °F), and a warmer planet.”

        Think deserts. Without the Water Cycle the Earth would be 67°C so the main greenhouse gas water vapour cools 52°C to get down to the 15°C.

        The basic deception, The Greenhouse Effect, is two moves – besides taking out the main process of cooling by the Water Cycle it includes taking the bottom figure of -18°C to give a difference of 33°C for the claimed warming, but that figure is not only without the AGW greenhouse gases, it is without all atmosphere, without the main gases nitrogen and oxygen too. AGW pretends that figure is without only the “greenhouse gases” to exaggerate their pretended warming effect.

        Do you see the sleight of hand here? There is no The Greenhouse Effect, it is created by deception; as a magician creates a magic trick, as a conman creates an illusion to establish the base for his crime.

        The rest of AGWScienceFiction fisics builds on that, for example, taking out the fact that all rain is carbonic acid which means that carbon dioxide is fully part of the Water Cycle and so of the same residence time as water in the atmosphere, 8-10 days. There is no accumulation of carbon dioxide possible in this, (and from the fact that being heavier than air it will always sink to the surface unless work is done to change that). Accumulation for hundreds and even thousands of years as bandied about is not possible from the real nature of carbon dioxide.

        The fisics of AGW is deliberate deceitful fiction from the bottom up organised by the deceivers from the top down.

        That’s the science truth here.

        There is no The Greenhouse Effect, it is a deliberately created illusion.

      • Now it comes out as typical skydragon mythology…I dismiss this stuff.

      • Myrrh, the real atmospheric GHE is caused by the non-radiating bulk of the atmosphere (N2 and O2). The atmospheric energy cannot be convected nor evaporated to space, so the only path is the thermal radiation by the radiatively active gases. At the surface, the water cycle cools the surface and warms the atmosphere. At the TOA, atmospheric radiation cools the atmosphere…

      • You don’t understand what I’m saying because you have a different atmosphere – you think you’re describing the real world but you’re not.

        Your world has no real gas atmosphere, that’s why you have no convection and so limited to arguing about radiation in the imagined empty space of ideal gases.

        AGWSF has taken the imagined ideal gas without properties and claims that this is the composition of our atmosphere. You don’t know the difference between real and ideal gas and what this means because AGWSF has excised the real gas atmosphere which is a heavy voluminous ocean of real fluid gases with weight and attraction subject to gravity and weighing a ton on your shoulders. Real gases are not travelling at great speeds through empty space bouncing off each other in elastic collisions.

        Real weather isn’t possible in your world, because it takes convection of real gases to create it..

        You don’t understand why you have no sound in your world.

      • Effects on climate

        The water cycle is powered from solar energy. 86% of the global evaporation occurs from the oceans, reducing their temperature by evaporative cooling. Without the cooling, the effect of evaporation on the greenhouse effect would lead to a much higher surface temperature of 67 °C (153 °F), and a warmer planet.[17]

        This quote from Wiki article on water cycle is bizarre. I cannot understand the sentence starting “Without the cooling..”. The quote is so bizarre that I tried to find it’s origin. It turns out that it has been part of the Wiki article since 2 April 2006 (with very minor modifications). The reference was then and is now to NASA article on water cycle, but the present article does not contain that sentence any more. The present formulation is (WaterCycle)

        Importance of the ocean in the water cycle

        The ocean plays a key role in this vital cycle of water. The ocean holds 97% of the total water on the planet; 78% of global precipitation occurs over the ocean, and it is the source of 86% of global evaporation. Besides affecting the amount of atmospheric water vapor and hence rainfall, evaporation from the sea surface is important in the movement of heat in the climate system. Water evaporates from the surface of the ocean, mostly in warm, cloud-free subtropical seas. This cools the surface of the ocean, and the large amount of heat absorbed the ocean partially buffers the greenhouse effect from increasing carbon dioxide and other gases. Water vapor carried by the atmosphere condenses as clouds and falls as rain, mostly in the ITCZ, far from where it evaporated, Condensing water vapor releases latent heat and this drives much of the the atmospheric circulation in the tropics. This latent heat release is an important part of the Earth’s heat balance, and it couples the planet’s energy and water cycles.

        The strange estimate of 67C influence is not there and I cannot understand how it has ever been there as such a number is at best true for some rather randomly chosen imaginary alternative.

        Perhaps I should go to Wiki and propose a better text but I may leave that for others.

      • Only bizarre because you are no longer taught this – and you can’t understand it unless you understand that the atmosphere around is composed of real gases, with volume, weight and attraction, and not the fictitious ideal gas zipping around empty space thoroughly mixing under its own volition of the fictional AGW world..

        The figures are standard in traditional physics as NASA used to teach – it is now led by the nose by AGW influence and was disappearing such information from their pages. I’ve given an example elsewhere of NASA changing traditional teaching to the fictional AGW fisics, it used to teach that the direct heat we feel from the Sun is the thermal infrared, now it teaches that infrared can’t make it through the atmosphere. That’s how I discovered this was going on.

        I was shocked because I saw how they were changing traditional teaching, your shock will be, if you ever come to appreciate what I’m saying, that you were never taught traditional physics.

        You don’t have convection because you don’t have the real world atmosphere of a huge heavy voluminous ocean of gas around your world, gases and liquids are fluids, heat transfer by convection rules here – that’s how we get all our weather which is the movement of volumes of our real atmosphere as these are subject to differential heating – and so you can’t understand the Water Cycle because you have to know that real gases lighter than air rise in air, etc.

        Heat is taken away from the surface as gases get heated – the traditional physics mnemonic “hot air rises, cold air sinks” – and that coupled with evaporation is how we get clouds and rain. Hot wet air rises and when the water vapour reaches the colder heights it condenses back into liquid water or ice and precipitates out – all pure clean rain is carbonic acid.

        You don’t have convection in your world because you have taken away the properties of real gases, replacing this with the imaginary construct “ideal gas in empty space”.

        And as with Arrhenius – AGWSF unproven claims never fetched, never giving the later work of his nor the debunking of his ideas, nor the real history where he misunderstood Fourier – AGW fisics stops short of explaining van der Waals..

        If you understood that we have a real gas atmosphere around us you would be able to appreciate the sleight of hand I’m describing when I say that The Greenhouse Effect is an illusion created by taking out the Water Cycle.

        The trad figures are:

        – the Earth as is, 15°C

        – the Earth without any atmosphere at all, minus 18°C

        – the Earth with an atmosphere (mainly nitrogen and oxygen), but without water, 67°C

        therefore, the Water Cycle cools the Earth by 52°C to bring it down to 15°C

        The Greenhouse Effect of 33°C is a deceit, achieved by first taking out the water cycle and then pretending that the -18°C figures is for the temp “without greenhouse gases” – but as you can see, without the main greenhouse gas water the temp would be 67°C..

        The Water Cycle cools the Earth by 52°C. The Real Heat from the Sun, thermal infrared, heats up land and oceans and the Water Cycle, of which carbon dioxide is fully paid up member, cools it down. Think deserts.

        [“Shortwave in longwave out” of the cartoon is a nonsense fiction, shortwave is not thermal energy and can’t heat land and oceans.]

        The Greenhouse Effect and all the fisics built on it, is a fiction, introduced into the education system some decades ago to confuse, dumb down, those who have no need to know real world applied physics, deliberately created to promote the fiction of AGW.

        All I’m doing here is showing how the mechanics of it was changed in some basics which I spotted and the ideal gas empty space atmosphere replacement can be checked, still, by going to good meteorological descriptions. But these generally, as with NASA, tend to not rock the boat so please read how weather works bearing in mind that our atmosphere is not ideal gas empty space, but a real heavy ocean of gas and the descriptions of how volumes of this move to give us winds will make sense of convection and the water cycle for you.

      • The trad figures are…

        Citation needed.

      • The trad figures are…

        Citation needed.

        Is that the only thing that you are missing?

        Where do these Myrrh’s breed?

      • Myrrh,

        Very nicely put. All warmists are speechless.

      • Thank you.

        I knew there was something off about the wiki entry, but couldn’t put my finger on it with the few spare moments I had at that time, so I simply said, “Now, clownish a source as wikipedia admittedly can be,”

        Good to have the resources of an exacting mind to help find these glitches.

        Pekka, whoever taught you, they ought make more like them.

      • “The trad figures are:

        – the Earth as is, 15°C

        – the Earth without any atmosphere at all, minus 18°C

        – the Earth with an atmosphere (mainly nitrogen and oxygen), but without water, 67°C

        therefore, the Water Cycle cools the Earth by 52°C to bring it down to 15°C”

        The tradition figures are not minus 18 C:
        “If an ideal thermally conductive blackbody was the same distance from the Sun as the Earth is, it would have a temperature of about 5.3 °C. However, since the Earth reflects about 30% of the incoming sunlight, the planet’s effective temperature (the temperature of a blackbody that would emit the same amount of radiation) is about −18 °C”

        So without clouds reflecting 30%: “a temperature of about 5.3 °C”

        But what find interesting is your claim of “the Earth with an atmosphere (mainly nitrogen and oxygen), but without water, 67°C”

        This means that one has to have a higher the 67 C air temperature in the tropics.
        The 15 C Earth has around 25 C average tropical temperature.

        So in rough terms the tropics would need an average air temperature of around 80 C to have any hope of 67 C global temperature.
        But it we assume somehow you got uniform temperature of 67 C.
        Well the highest average temperature on earth was:
        “The highest average annual temperature in the world, possibly a world record, is the 94°F, at Dalol (or Dallol), Ethiopia.”
        http://www.weatherexplained.com/Vol-1/Record-Setting-Weather.html#ixzz22qHVsuWp
        And 94 F = 34.4 C
        And highest air temperature:
        “A reading of 136°F, observed at Azizia (elevation about 380 ft, Tripolitania, Libya, North Africa) on September 13, 1922, is generally accepted as the world’s highest temperature recorded under standard conditions.”
        136 F = 57.7 C

        So 40 C global average temperature seems on the high side and you saying 27 C hotter than this.
        I would guess you are, for some reason, assuming much higher solar energy than 1000 watts per square meter at noon?

      • SamNC

        Thank you – much appreciated.

        I can only hope they’ll revert to normal science and try to prove me wrong…

      • gbaikie

        The tradition figures are not minus 18 C:
        “If an ideal thermally conductive blackbody was the same distance from the Sun as the Earth is, it would have a temperature of about 5.3 °C. However, since the Earth reflects about 30% of the incoming sunlight, the planet’s effective temperature (the temperature of a blackbody that would emit the same amount of radiation) is about −18 °C”

        So without clouds reflecting 30%: “a temperature of about 5.3 °C”

        Bearing in mind that I am describing sleights of hand to promote AGW..

        ..why don’t you have convection as the main heat transfer of the atmosphere?

        That trad minus 18°C figure is for the Earth without any atmosphere at all, that is, also without the bulk of the real greenhouse gases, nitrogen and oxygen; the whole heavy fluid volume of gas kept in place by gravity.

        Elsewhere I’ve explained that AGW fisics has changed the meaning of greenhouse and greenhouse gases to exclude these. It is our whole atmosphere which is greenhouse, the whole atmosphere of gases which regulates the temperature of the Earth as does a real greenhouse – which cools as well as warms to keep optimum temperatures for growing conditions – which is why it was likened to a greenhouse in the first place.. The meme from AGW is that “greenhouse gases warm the planet” and so leads to come to the belief that greenhouses only warm. And, AGW limits the term greenhouse gases to further distract from convection to promote its radiation only scenario of heat transfer so it can pretend what it does about carbon dioxide. Please see my post to PDA on the other thread we’ve been discussing this

        Some 98% of the Earth’s atmosphere of real greenhouse gases is nitrogen and oxygen.

        That AGW minus 18°C explanation that it’s 30% reflection from clouds which gives this looks like a straight fib because AGW has to find ways of excluding the parts that nitrogen and oxygen play. Hot air rises and cold air sinks, without this bulk of greenhouse gases the Earth would have no winds which is volumes of this in motion around the globe (see explanations and diagrams of wind systems and bear in mind that these are real volumes of the gas air on the move), and it’s in this system that convection rules as the method of heat transfer.

        So, without any atmosphere the Earth would be more akin to the Moon, but with Earth’s rotational habits to be considered.

        But what find interesting is your claim of “the Earth with an atmosphere (mainly nitrogen and oxygen), but without water, 67°C”

        This means that one has to have a higher the 67 C air temperature in the tropics.

        Or higher temps around the Earth without snow and ice and rivers and lakes and ocean.

        The 15 C Earth has around 25 C average tropical temperature.

        So in rough terms the tropics would need an average air temperature of around 80 C to have any hope of 67 C global temperature.

        So what are the temps for the Moon? Sunny side up 107°C, dark side -153°C which I found on a yahoo answers page http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070714070248AAjFUfW
        and which gave a link to http://www.solarviews.com/eng/moon.htm

        So 40 C global average temperature seems on the high side and you saying 27 C hotter than this.
        I would guess you are, for some reason, assuming much higher solar energy than 1000 watts per square meter at noon?

        One Watt per square metre in Birmingham – http://www.ecd.bnl.gov/steve/watt.html

        I’ll have a look to see if I can find anything on how the calculations were made for the Moon and the factors needing to be considered for Earth without any atmosphere in comparison with the Moon.

      • gbaikie

        Re:
        So without clouds reflecting 30%: “a temperature of about 5.3 °C”

        I think this 5.3°C could be the temp of the Earth without water (the AGW clouds..), but with the bulk of the atmosphere in place, so around 99% nitrogen and oxygen.

        Seems to make sense taking the range of desert temps, at a very quick glance!, including Antarctica.

        And, the “30% reflected by clouds” only applies to light not heat from the Sun, clouds are great absorbers of heat being water, and light can’t heat water anyway. So, the Earth without water would get the full amount of the solar constant.

        I’ve just been looking at some pages to find out more about the Moon’s atmosphere and read this:

        “Why does the moon’s temperature vary so widely? It happens because the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere like the Earth. Here on Earth, the atmosphere acts like a blanket, trapping heat. Sunlight passes through the atmosphere, and warms up the ground. The energy is emitted by the ground as infrared radiation, but it can’t escape through the atmosphere again easily so the planet warms up. Nights are colder than days, but it’s nothing like the Moon.”

        http://www.universetoday.com/19623/temperature-of-the-moon/

        So, ignoring the AGW fisics of trapping infrared radiation and taking it back to the basics that it’s the bulk heavy volume of atmosphere kept in place by gravity which is our greenhouse, it looks like we might have found the figure for the original heat trapping blanket :)

      • I’ve been looking for the average of the Moon and found mean surface temperatures which gives -23°C, a figure I’ve seen before and thought it related to the -18°C given for Earth without any atmosphere at all, but wasn’t sure.

        So, the equivalent for the Moon’s minimum surface temp, which has been given as -153°C, is -89°C on this page.

        His figures differ slightly from the one’s given for the Moon, he’s got -147 for minimum and 100 not 107 for maximum, but he says it’s figures he’s put together from a good search on this.

        http://www.asi.org/adb/02/05/01/surface-temperature.html

        Anyway, the Earth without atmosphere at -18°C has the corresponding figure for the Moon of -23°C which difference will be do with with the different day/night periods and rotations and such.

      • The temperature -18C is not the temperature of Earth without the atmosphere. It is the effective radiative temperature of Earth when the albedo is 0.30.

        To have that as the actual temperature the planet should have the albedo 0.30 for solar radiation be black at thermal wavelengths and have the same temperature for the whole surface. That’s not possible for a planet but it’s certainly possible to manufacture a coated small metal ball that would have very closely those properties. Such a metal ball on a satellite orbit around the Earth would have the temperature of -18C.

      • It’s the figure that AGW Science Fiction gives for the Earth without greenhouse gases..

        The difficulty discussing this with warmists is that they don’t have a coherent internally consistant physics – you’d think that after all this time they could provide it, but no, they can’t even tell me how much visible light is heating the atmosphere since according to this fisics all electromagnetic energy absorbed creates heat and visible light is scattered in the atmosphere when the electrons of the molecules of nitrogen and oxygen absorb it, that’s how we get our blue sky.

        And, I’ve asked and asked and asked – please, give me the detail of how shortwave from the Sun heats land and oceans. You must have it somewhere..

      • gbaike,
        “….This means that one has to have a higher the 67 C air temperature in the tropics.” Yes, correct.
        “The 15 C Earth has around 25 C average tropical temperature.” True,

        “So in rough terms the tropics would need an average air temperature of around 80 C to have any hope of 67 C global temperature.” Correct.
        “But iF we assume somehow you got uniform temperature of 67 C.
        Well the highest average temperature on earth was:
        “The highest average annual temperature in the world, possibly a world record, is the 94°F, at Dalol (or Dallol), Ethiopia.”
        http://www.weatherexplained.com/Vol-1/Record-Setting-Weather.html#ixzz22qHVsuWp
        And 94 F = 34.4 C”

        34.4 (with water)+52 (without water)=86.4C (without water)

        ‘And highest air temperature:
        “A reading of 136°F, observed at Azizia (elevation about 380 ft, Tripolitania, Libya, North Africa) on September 13, 1922, is generally accepted as the world’s highest temperature recorded under standard conditions.”
        136 F = 57.7 C’

        Again 57.7+52=107.7C (without water)

        “So 40 C global average temperature seems on the high side and you saying 27 C hotter than this.” ???

        “I would guess you are, for some reason, assuming much higher solar energy than 1000 watts per square meter at noon?”

        At noon, solar energy is 1366w/m2. Myrrh’s trad figures were good.

    • Steven Mosher

      That’s a good list.
      Can you construct one for the other side.
      You know one thing I noticed about RC threads when I first went there?

      It started with science and it always ended with some nut promoting a renewable source of energy that would never work.

      weird. I wonder why that is..

      • “always ended with some nut promoting a renewable source of energy that would never work.”

        would love to see some data on that……..

      • Steven Mosher | August 5, 2012 at 2:30 am |

        I’m all for a list for the other side. And one for both sides.

        Let me start with:

        1. Why should I show you my work? You’ll only try to find problems with it.

        That one must die.

        And:

        2. In past epochs after processes lasting probably hundreds or thousands of years, sea level changed by many meters, so let’s talk about that to the media, because we all know how well they handle details and how conservative they are to try to avoid sensationalization.

        And:

        3. But I’m a PhD. Of course I’m right!

        As for nuts in pursuit of alternate energy schemes that will never work, I should remind you that in 1963, tar sands oil was thought unworkable by most. It took the vision of four decades of political will and corporate know-how paid for by the governments of Canda and Alberta to make tar sands a feasible-seeming (with enough infrastructure support from the public purse) contrivance.

        Just goes to show you what happens when you let the nuts run a country.

      • Steven Mosher

        michael

        “would love to see some data on that……..”

        easy peasy. go to RC, count. you know how to do that

      • Steven Mosher

        that’s a good start bart.

      • Off the top of my head:

        1. The complete refutation of paper A for using bad methods “doesn’t matter” because we have these other papers B, C, and D that say the same thing. The refutation of B doesn’t matter because we have A, C, and D. The…

        2. Denialists are in the pay of the oil companies. They’re like the guys who lied for the tobacco companies.

        3. The temperature is going up so it must be CO2-induced global warming

        4. The climate models don’t make forecasts, only projections, so their errors don’t count. But really Hansen’s model is completely right.

        5. The climate models have lots of skill. But a divergence from the temperature data is OK because the ensemble of models and runs has so much variance that it easily encompasses any data you will ever see.

        6. Weather isn’t climate, but this year’s Arctic ice melt or hurricane or drought is strong evidence for AGW.

        7. The fact that temperature increases precede CO2 increases in the paleo data should not affect anyone’s posterior beliefs about climate sensitivity.

        8. Scientists who work for the government can be assumed to be disinterested and unbiased.

        9. Nuclear power is a good idea, but, um…solar and windmills and stuff!

        10. If you mention groupthink, you must believe in conspiracies.

      • stevepostrel | August 7, 2012 at 5:06 am |

        The best comment Climate Etc. has seen in a long, long time. And it’s just off the top of your head? We need more barbers here, clearly! :D

        I think your response points up a far more useful avenue than my original pun on deadlines. Call it the ‘Coma Ward’.

        Many arguments, discussions, talking points or whatnot are mouthed as if there is no confusion, no disagreement, no dispute, making their authors seem arrogant, glib or mistaken; just as there may be a grain of truth (or may have at one point been) in the ‘Dead Lines’, there is far more life in the ‘Coma Ward’, but the lines fall flat, and generally through the incompetence of the practitioner. Though sometimes the patients (or impatient) are to blame in part too.

        To illustrate:

        1. The complete refutation of paper A for using bad methods “doesn’t matter” because we have these other papers B, C, and D that say the same thing. The refutation of B doesn’t matter because we have A, C, and D. The…

        When proposing other papers, additional sources, consilience or additional references of knowledge, method or belief, if the practitioner is specific and particular on the exact relationship of the support cited to the refutation presented, and the (im)patient is diligent to parse the logic of what the additional supporting documentation means, then better understanding arises on all sides.

        And this is a two-sided issue. It took, by her remarks when Dr. Curry set up Climate Etc., years of lurking and participating before she became convinced there might be something to the refutations worth pursuing, for example.

        (Though I’d take out the word ‘complete’ from the proposition; is it any worse a practice when badly done for incomplete refutation? For references or arguments of any degree at all? Simply waving masses of studies isn’t enough; interpretation and specific application of the matter to the supposed refutation is also necessary. Which is why the IPCC charter includes a commission to interpret, I imagine.)

        2. Denialists are in the pay of the oil companies. They’re like the guys who lied for the tobacco companies.

        Except in the cases where they’re exactly the same people as lied for the tobacco companies (who often have the same owners as some of the oil companies), yes, this is an offensive and pointless bit of name-calling and agenda-bashing that is sure to polarize any discussion. Besides, why would oil companies pay for the milk when there are so many cows giving it away for free? There’s not a lot of life in this practice; while it’s worth following the money, and dyskeptical to not question the motivations of participants in the discourse, making too much a big deal out of it where the participation is honest and free of the taint of corrupt practices (such as bribed or unethical or subourned politicians or public servants — on both sides) is a bit too commonly done.

        3. The temperature is going up so it must be CO2-induced global warming

        Yes. Anyone who just asserts a correlation (up or down) without a mechanical explanation and details of what statistically and logically can be inferred from the observations is doing a disservice. For instance, Mr. Orssengo frequently asserts some boggling array of contrived trigonometric functions without causal foundation and in wild disregard of the flaws with his methods. Mr. Hansen, on the other hand, unsatisfied with mere correlation spends decades arduously studying and publishing, being reviewed by (and audited) by peers and public, responding to criticisms of his methods, and ensuring that Tyndall and Rayleigh Scattering, radiative transfer physics and atmospheric and oceanic mechanisms, albedo and aerosols, lags and rates of change, are accounted for, so when he concludes the CO2 is going up, so there will be pressure in the climate for the average global temperature to rise, he’s doing it right. If only he could get the MSM to report it that way. Or the (im)patient to sit through and read what he actually said and wrote..

        Points 4+ also worth comment. I’ll get to it another time.

  87. How about normal politics? People can disagree and action is decided by majority. It’s not like that with climate change, where the idea is that a minority disagreeing can prevent action and that therefore we need to have a “war” against them.

    • The war involving calling them ‘deniers’, a clear allusion to Holocaust deniers, as if the purported science of CAGW, including claimed correlation of extreme events with temperature and certainty that emissions reductions would work economically as well as in eliminating all danger, was as clear cut as the historical evidence for the Holocaust. And as if those of us questioning any part of this credo were as disconnected from reality and evil as those who declare with great certainty and passion that very few Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

      This took us out of the realm of normal politics, because no other sizeable group in normal politics would have been able to be described and demonised this way. It only became justified and accepted in the public debate on the back of the fatuous idea that the ‘science is settled’ on all these matters. The scientists that acquiesced and even actively supported this move were crucial to it. It was and is a disgraceful step.

      This is not normal politics. It is nothing like normal science. It is the ‘big lie’ of which Hitler and Goebbels spoke as so crucial to their cause – at least that’s the only category I can find which does justice to enormity of it.

  88. Having gone through this thread I have noticed one point in this list

    1. Facts are uncertain
    2. Values are in conflict
    3. Stakes are high
    4. Immediate action is required

    which is obviously interpreted very differently by different people.

    My reading of the list is that the requirements of Post Normal Situation are fulfilled when significant groups of people have the view that each of the point is true. Thus I read “Immediate action is required” to mean that at least one significant group of people requires immediate action. That another significant group is against any immediate action does not make the situation less PNS, it just means that they have a different view on what should be done in immediate future. For PNS we expect that there as such differences of opinion.

    • Having gone through this thread I have noticed one point in this list

      1. Facts are uncertain
      2. Values are in conflict
      3. Stakes are high
      4. Immediate action is required

      which is obviously interpreted very differently by different people.

      ====
      The only point worth noting is the logic disjunct – PNS is irrational. That’s a succinct precis of Chicken Little reasoning.

      The high priesthoods requiring more and more hearts torn out of living bodies at times of real disaster were themselves dismembered when the oiks supporting their privileged lifestyles worked out the self proclaimed elite didn’t know what they were talking about and their claimed access to greater knowledge was a fraud.

    • k scott denison

      Having gone through this thread I have noticed one point in this list

      1. Facts are uncertain
      2. Values are in conflict
      3. Stakes are high
      4. Immediate action is required

      which is obviously interpreted very differently by different people.
      ==================
      The lack of rational thought is the issue, not simply one of the points.

      This is the type of logic that leads to bleeding as a cure for illness. And we all know how well that worked out.

      • k scott denison

        ps: would love to hear an example where PNS lead to a major, demonstrated success.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Thus I read “Immediate action is required” to mean that at least one significant group of people requires immediate action. That another significant group is against any immediate action does not make the situation less PNS, it just means that they have a different view on what should be done in immediate future. For PNS we expect that there as such differences of opinion.”

      yes, I should have made that clear.

      basically one side argues.

      These facts and those stakes and our values require this action.

      The other side realizes that those actions threaten their values, so they ask how certain are your stakes and facts.

      thats a gross simplification of course

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Steven Mosher,
        Again I would recommend examining word choices and internally consistent usage, or standardization of them. “Stakes” might need elucidation work.
        Analyzing a game of russian roulette with these terms might help.
        The stakes are what ?
        Life and death ? No, death is not at stake. Subjectively, “Life”, Objectively, “a life”.
        How do we relate the notion of stakes to notions of interests/values/morals ?

        The metaphoric idea of “trumping” does some work on the subjective side,
        What is being trumped and how does it happen ?

        Perhaps this time through stating explicitly the workings of “trumping”, it can be seen that a nuanced approach has Items such as “values” vary, not only in the sense that there are differences ( in a static way) between people, but that they also vary internally ( in a dynamic way ) under differing conditions.

      • Steven Mosher

        That sounds like a nice project. have at it

      • Steven Mosher

        basically one side argues.

        These facts and those stakes and our values require this action.

        The other side realizes that those actions threaten their values, so they ask how certain are your stakes and facts.

        thats a gross simplification of course

        Yes. But not a bad one at all IMO.

        But you should modify it slightly to make it more accurate.

        There are no “facts” which “require action”. There are “postulations” (based on model simulations, etc.) which “suggest” action. This is a basic difference.

        As for the “values” which are “threatened”, we do not know which unintended consequences these actions will have, not only on the “values” of the one side, but rather on the welfare of all of humanity. This is also a basic difference.

        So we have:

        basically one side argues.

        These facts postulations and those stakes and our values require suggest this action.

        The other side realizes that those actions mightthreaten their values the welfare of all of humanity, so they ask how certain are your stakes and facts postulations.

        It’s still “a gross simplification”, of course, but a bit more to the point, Steve.

        Max

  89. I think we benefit from a comparison and contrast with the successful Montreal Protocol on CFCs and saving the ozone layer. In that case the effects of ozone loss were already obvious by the time action was approved, and this was reversible with the correct action. In the case of CO2, the effects are not yet obvious enough for action, but also not reversible making this a particularly difficult situation compared to ozone. In fact, the time for effective action to limit CO2 has already passed, and now we will be in damage control mode going forwards as the irreversible effects finally become clear. The dynamic is that action only takes place when the need becomes obvious. Science is not often sufficiently heeded to steer action based on forecasts even if they are given with some certainty. We can contrast climate forecasts with weather forecasts here, where past experience has told government agencies to at least pay attention to weather forecasts, if not fully rely on them.

    • Another essential difference to both sulfur/acidification and to ozone depletion is that those could be solved influencing only some limited sectors of economy and rather effective technical solutions were soon found. In case of CO2 the goals set (like 80% reduction in emissions) are on a totally different scale in spite of the fact that energy research has a long history.

      Furthermore we lack cost-effective solutions even on much less ambitious scale. Some reduction in emissions can certainly be reached but it’s difficult to get substantial reductions in emissions. Many of the actions that have been taken in Europe have had questionable effects and many others are just far too costly. What has happened to overall emissions may be mostly due to the bad state of economy.

    • The MP and Kyoto protocol had different outcomes ( mostly due to economic constraints) as evidenced by the US senate consensus 96-0.

      If we say have a hypothetical case that the KP was fully implemented, and say we increase the radiative emission co2 equivalent reductions by a factor of 5,( to remove uncertainty ) what could you tell the policymakers the outcome would be?

      • The difference could be 450 ppm by 2100 versus 850 ppm, for example. In terms of temperature and comfort level that would have been significant. This assumes 20% of a typical business-as-usual scenario for the whole period from 2000-2100, which we know is not close to happening.

      • “The difference could be 450 ppm by 2100 versus 850 ppm, for example. In terms of temperature and comfort level that would have been significant. This assumes 20% of a typical business-as-usual scenario for the whole period from 2000-2100, which we know is not close to happening.”

        The tread in global CO2. And the assumption that 30 GT per human emission adds about 15 GT. Coupled with a lack full understand of carbon cycle, tends to make me think we can’t do anything to prevent global CO2 from reaching 450 ppm by 2100. But seems very unlikely we reach 850 ppm by 2100 almost regardless of policy or human action taken.
        Or it seems to me, if not exceeding 450 ppm is somehow regarded as important. No idea related to tax policy could be the cure. Even if tax policies drive in us into a Soviet style economy [though perhaps a N Korea economy] could it have a significant effect.
        Now, I think if serious about lowering CO2 emission, you do a all out effort to increase Nuclear energy usage. But even that would probably not reduce global CO2 below say 20 GT, and therefore still not make such a target of below 450 ppm by 2100.

        Had the effort been in the period 1970 to 1980 been focused on nuclear energy use, then maybe we could kept it under 450 ppm by 2100.
        But we now adding almost 2 ppm per year and for last 40 year having around say 1.7 ppm per year- so added say 68 ppm. If during this same period we instead had about 1.4 ppm or had added 10 ppm less to the atmosphere, then there could been some hope. And had taxed during this during this period instead, and not increase nuclear energy use, outlawed fracking, we probably be unchanged or increased CO2 emission.
        So if below 450 ppm is something we must have [which I regard as silly]
        then we something that removes CO2 from the atmosphere.
        And probably the cheapest and quickest way to do that seems at this point using ocean fertilization.
        So this needs to tested. But I think I would against having CO2 levels much below 400 ppm. And I don’t think the 450 ppm level is problem- nor does even the fanatical alarmists- from what they have said.
        Instead I think ocean fertilization should something throughly test, and then done on small scale. Studied a lot. Do some more at small scale. Studied more. And only consider it, if it works and is cheapest solution, and if CO2 levels exceed 500 ppm.

      • Jim D | August 4, 2012 at 5:52 am |

        Lets reframe the problem ie move the hypothetical to the real.In chapter 5 summary for policymakers of the UNEP MP assessment2011.

        The Montreal Protocol and its Amendments and Adjustments have made large contributions toward reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Because many ODSs are potent greenhouse gases, the Montreal Protocol has successfully avoided larger climate forcing. In 2010, the decrease of annual ODS emissions under the Montreal Protocol is estimated to be about 10 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide–equivalent (GtCO2-eq) per year, which is about five times larger than the annual emissions reduction target for the first commitment period (2008–2012) of the Kyoto Protocol.

        Not a small problem.

  90. PNS could stand for “Post-Normal Science” or “Post-Normal Situation”. The paper conflates the two. It sometimes reads as if PNS was a special sort of science, and sometimes as if PNS is a situation that scientists may find themselves in. I am for the second sense; PNS is a not type of science at all, PNS situations certainly do exist and encourage some pretty ordinary, though still shocking, types of corruption of science. Aapparently they are very common in clinical science.

    • Steven Mosher

      I should have been more clear, I am talking about the situation. However, you will note how few people want to admit that we are in the situation..
      which of course is one of the characteristics of the situation

      • “I should have been more clear, I am talking about the situation. However, you will note how few people want to admit that we are in the situation..
        which of course is one of the characteristics of the situation.”

        It seems one mark different situations, almost every decade it seems.
        The situation in 1930 is different than 1940. 1950,1960, etc.
        Or take broader periods after WII, after end Soviet Union.
        I doubt many think we always in same situation.
        Don’t one can say we near or at the end of fossil fuel use. Nor are beginning some period of world government- the Cold War may been a world of more world government. Nor does seem we are the end of American being the sole superpower. Or that Russia isn’t major power.
        That China and India are becoming more significant world powers, seems quite obvious. That Europe could be mistakenly synonymous with “international” is fading.
        So we are in post normal situation, but we always in some kind of post normal situation.
        I think after Kyoto seems to be the normal we are post of. And basically US politicians have been saying this for over a decade. So any stated quality of “newest” could be a bit of exaggeration- or different prospective.

  91. If ‘the facts are uncertain,’ how is claimin’ that ‘the stakes are high’ any more valid than claimin’ that ‘the stakes aren’t high.’

    Jest sayin’ … er, no need ter bring in the shamen ter run things, they’ll jest say, ‘the srtakes are high.’

  92. Edit, ‘stake,’ as in ‘the stake was driven thro’ the vampire’s heart.’

  93. A fan of *MORE* discourse

    On another thread, there was occasion to explain why the present debate regarding climate-change is normal, not “post-normal”.

    Beth Cooper, some stuff ain’t complicated. :)   ;)   :grin:

    —————————–

    • The earth is billions of years old  So be skeptical of creation myths.

    • Evolution is real  Ditto.

    • Unregulated markets destroy commons  Prudently regulate markets.

    • Abstinence programs fail  So teach kids about sex.

    • Smoking causes cancer  Therefore, quit smoking.

    • HIV virus causes AIDS  Avoid infection, otherwise take meds.

    • CO2-burning causes AGW  Switch to a non-carbon energy economy.

    —————————–

    Grown-ups don’t deny these facts, eh?

    Although historically, all of the above have been denied. Sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of fear … but most commonly, denial has been embraced in service of greed and/or the lust for political power.

    Doesn’t history teach that lesson plainly, Beth Cooper?

    You wanna hear grown-up talk, try Naomi Orestes. :)   ;)   :grin:

    Beth Cooper, it’s time for our planet to grow up! :)   ;)   :grin:

    Numerous further examples of science-versus-denial could be added to the above list. For example, 17th century atomistic science asserted that the lead-into-gold Philosopher’s Stone did not exist … to be met with furious denial from alchemists. 19th century thermodynamics asserted that perpetual motion machines did not exist … to be met with furious denial from inventors.

    So when science demonstrates that AGW is real, serious, and accelerating … and this finding is met with furious denial … heck, that’s business-as-usual for science! There’s nothing “post-normal” about it! :)   ;)   :grin:

    • Fan

      “On another thread…”

      You missed a key step in your argument between:

      CO2-burning causes AGW

      and

      Switch to a non-carbon energy economy

      And that is an analysis of whether AGW is good, bad or immaterial for human welfare and our environment.

      So far it looks like there are no potential serious consequences, while “switching to a non-carbon energy economy” could have serious negative consequences, especially for the poorer inhabitants of our planet.

      Max

      PS In spite of your claim, “science” has NOT demonstrated based on empirical evidence “that AGW is serious and accelerating”.

      • PS In spite of your claim, “science” has NOT demonstrated based on empirical evidence “that AGW is serious and accelerating”.

        Nope, you’re incorrect here. Review the papers cited in the AR4.

      • Robert

        Sorry. Read ’em all. No empirical evidence there.

        Max

    • Binary thinking with over use of smilies is post normal.

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      Manacker, your recent comments relating to economic considerations are exemplary of the the Good-Reuveny Effect that is pathognomonic of denialistic economic theory. Specifically, as explained in Good and Reuveny’s article “On the Collapse of Historical Civilizations”, your analysis discounts future harm associated to present benefit, to sufficient effect as to ensure future collapse.

      This is a very common failing of short-term market-driven rational behavior … behavior that is OK in the short-term, yet fatal in the long-term (like smoking cigarettes, eh?).

      Good-Reuveny Effect of denialistic economic theory naturally dovetails with the Dunning-Kruger Effect of denialistic climate-change skepticism. `Cuz heck, there’s a natural dumb-and-dumber synergy at work between these two brands of denialism!   :)   :)   :)

      The Good-Reuveny variety of denialism is getting to be pretty common nowadays — because rational climate-change skepticism is collapsing from the accumulating weight of scientific evidence —but as far as our children and grandchildren are concerned, this new brand of denialism ain’t smart and ain’t good, Manacker.   :sad:   :sad:   :sad:

      • I mostly agree, but I think the criticism of “short-term market-driven rational behavior” is off.

        There’s nothing inherently short-term about market-driven behavior. In terms of owned resources, it looks to the long haul pretty well (better than governments, many times!) The trouble comes when you have a resource (like the atmosphere, or the oceans) that no one owns outright, that we all have to share. Markets don’t successfully manage these resources over the long term because of the “tragedy of the Commons.”

        There are other kinds of market failures, but overall, I would argue against the notion that they come from the market focusing on the short term.

        The specific way the market is failing in the case of GHG emissions is quite important, because it implies that with a minor tweak — adding a price to GHG emissions to mimic the behavior of an “owner” imposing a cost comparable to the damage to the resource — we can put the exceptional creativity and productivity of the free market to work solving the problem.

  94. Steven Mosher

    Thanks for a good post.

    While I do not agree with some of your conclusions, this post reconfirms to anyone who did not read your Climategate book that you can actually speak very clearly and succinctly in the English language (not only in computer code).

    ”Are we in a PNS situation”? is one question.

    ”Should we be in a PNS situation”? might be an even more pertinent one IMO, followed by “Why?”

    It is my contention that WE are in control of our “situation” – those who try to impose a ”PNS situation” are attempting to change the rules in their favor by invoking the ”need for immediate action”.

    But this need can only be invoked if one first accepts that we ARE ”in a PNS situation”.

    Chicken and egg.

    Forget “PNS” and get back to the basics of science: theory confirmed by empirical evidence, based on real-time physical observations (see Christy’s testimony) and/or reproducible experimentation.

    All else is agenda-driven BS IMO.

    Max

    • A fan of *MORE* discourse

      It’s not complicated Manacker!   :)   :)   :)

      Rational climate-change skepticism is collapsing from the accumulating weight of scientific evidence. Good. That’s why it’s called “rational” skepticism, eh?   :)   ;)   :grin:

      Hmmm … what about non-rational climate-change denialism?

      What’s happening is readily foreseeable: denialism based upon bad science is now being supplanted by denialism based upon bad economics.

      The key principle of bad-economics denialism is simple: discount future costs of present benefits. As explained in Good and Reuveny’s “On the Collapse of Historical Civilizations“, this discounting is sufficient as to ensure civilization collapse … even for markets that are perfectly rational and free.

      We all know how bad-economics denialism works: heck, one more cigarette and/or one more drink and/or one more cheeseburger would be pretty good right now, eh? So let’s not worry too much about the long-term effects of smoking, drinking, and over-eating!   :oops:   :eek:   :sad:

      Conclusion: Rational scientific analysis has fought and won the first AGW battle, now rational economic analysis must fight and win the second.

      Should be fun, eh Manacker?   :)   ;)   :grin:

      • Max

        I think Fan has had a recent ‘context’ bypass, so you might like to read this in response to her link to an abstract

        http://www.webmeets.com/files/papers/EAERE/2008/763/collapse55%20no%20names.pdf

        As Al Gore wrote in ‘Earth in the Balance’ twenty years ago, many civilisations collapse because of natural climate change, ours might go the same way in due course, although at present its difficult to see anything other than we are fortunate to currently live in a benign climatic regime.

        Mind you, the earths growing population and its need for resources as more people become wealthy due to the advanatges of fossil fuel energy, is something we need to consider much more urgently (way more imprtant than ICAGW- Imaginary Catastrophic Anthropogenic climate change)

        However, many secptics seem to foam at the mouth whenever anyone mentions Malthus.

        Especially for Fan is this poem that echoes the ebb and flow of great civilisations for a variety of reasons.

        I met a traveler from an antique land
        Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
        Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
        Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
        And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
        Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
        Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
        The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
        And on the pedestal these words appear:
        “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
        Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
        Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
        Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
        The lone and level sands stretch far away.

        tonyb

      • Fan of More BS believes that if he just says it enough times, in many different ways, that it will become reality. Fan, here’s the 411 on that. Perception is NOT reality.

      • jim2 –

        Something for you to consider.

        Perhaps when you think that changing someone’s nic as a lame form of insult, you are admitting to yourself that you can’t make your point w/o adding an ad hom?

      • Good points, Tony and we all can see the collapse of several NH civilizations when the next ice age arrives in a few thousand years.

      • The ice ages took time to develop. Do you rally think that mankind will just sit around and watch glaciers advance? Oh wait?

    • k scott denison

      Well said Max. As you observe, it is no coincidence that those who state we are in a PNS situation are those who are pushing the “act now” agenda.

  95. David Wojick

    I disagree with the basic claim that “science has changed.” This is not the first time that science has been caught up in a public policy debate. Fluoridation and vaccination come to mind. There are also cases where the science was wrong and horrible mistakes were made, so it is not a question of resistence to progress.

    Science per se does not change in these cases, just the behavior of scientists, because two systems of behavior overlap — science and politics. Hence the rules become confused. Normal science and normal politics are very different, so the combination is neither.

    I think of it as a scientific community being captured by a political issue. Much follows from this, including trust levels being much lower, etc. Advocacy reigns. Keep in mind that the political system pays the bills. Thus Mosher’s description is accurate as far as it goes.

    The climate case is probably the greatest case of politicization to date. The question is how does it help to know this? Claiming it is new and unique, however, is incorrect. That claim gives the debate a misleading status.

    • k scott denison

      Agree, how does it help to recognize what is so obvious: the *real climate scientists* are acting more as politicians than scientists. They are stuck on a hypothesis and blind to exploring other options.