As a climate scientist, I’m under pressure to be a political advocate. – Tamsin Edwards
Tamsin Edwards has an excellent post entitled Climate scientists must not advocate particular policies. Excerpts:
As a climate scientist, I’m under pressure to be a political advocate.
This comes mainly from environmentalists. Dan Cass, wind-farm director and solar advocate, preferred me not to waste my time debating “denialist morons” but to use political advocacy to “prevent climate catastrophe”. Jeremy Grantham, environmental philanthropist, urged climate scientists to sound a “more desperate note…Be arrested if necessary”. A concerned member of the public judged my efforts at public engagement successful only if they showed ”evidence of persuasion”.
Others ask “what should we do?” At my Cheltenham Science Festival event Can we trust climate models? one of the audience asked what we thought of carbon taxes. I refused to answer, despite the chair’s repeated requests and joke (patronisingly; his aim was to entertain) that I “shouldn’t be embarrassed at my lack of knowledge”.
Even some of my colleagues think I should be clearer about my political beliefs. In a Twitter debate last month Gavin Schmidt, climate scientist and blogger, argued we should state our preferences to avoid accusations of hidden agenda.
I believe advocacy by climate scientists has damaged trust in the science. We risk our credibility, our reputation for objectivity, if we are not absolutely neutral. At the very least, it leaves us open to criticism. I find much climate scepticism is driven by a belief that environmental activism has influenced how scientists gather and interpret evidence. So I’ve found my hardline approach successful in taking the politics and therefore – pun intended – the heat out of climate science discussions. They call me an “honest broker”, asking for “more Dr. Edwards and fewer zealous advocates”. Crucially, they say this even though my scientific views are absolutely mainstream.
But it’s not just about improving trust. In this highly politicised arena, climate scientists have a moral obligation to strive for impartiality. We have a platform we must not abuse. For a start, we rarely have the necessary expertise. I absolutely disagree with Gavin that we likely know far more about the issues involved in making policy choices than [our] audience.
To me, then, it is simple: scientists misuse their authority if they publicise their preferred policy options.
Others say it is simplistic and impossible to separate science from policy, or that all individuals are advocates. But there is a difference between giving an estimate of the consequences of a particular action and giving an opinion on how or whether to take that action; between risk assessment, estimating the probability of change and its effect on things we care about, and risk management, deciding how to reduce or live with that risk. A flood forecaster provides a map of the probability of flooding, but she does not decide what is an unacceptable level of risk, or how to spend the budget to reduce the risk (sea defences; regulation of building and insurance).
We must be vigilant against what Roger Pielke Jr. in The Honest Broker calls “stealth issue advocacy”: claiming we are talking about science when really we are advocating policy.
I became a climate scientist because I’ve always cared about the environment. But I care more about restoring trust in science than about calling people to action; more about improving public understanding of science so society can make better-informed decisions, than about making people’s decisions for them. Science doesn’t tell us the answer to our problems. Neither should scientists.
The twitosphere is abuzz with discussion on this. I won’t attempt to summarize, but the most interesting response (to me) was a post by David Westcott entitled Informed opinions: surplus to requirements. Excerpts:
I do agree with Dr. Edwards about something: trust in science has been diminished in the debate over climate. But it’s for two specific reasons. First, too many climate scientists are actually taking Dr. Edwards’ advice and sitting out the difficult conversations where leaders hash out actual, specific solutions. Second, the “advocacy” from many climate scientists has just plain sucked. A disorganized group of people with little to no experience in communications or politics have prioritized mediocre tactics and scattershot messaging over a coherent and well-executed campaign strategy.
JC comment: seems like a strong argument for climate scientists not engage in advocacy, seems to be counterproductive to their ’cause.’
Sadly, I think essays like the one written by Dr. Edwards is just the latest example of climate scientists being figuratively beaten into submission. Standing up for your beliefs is a courageous thing to do, and we need those who have the most knowledge on this topic to stand with us.
Pielke Jr tweets that he doesn’t like the title:
Title just wrong. Advoacy of policy (defn=a specific course of action) is just fine. You are advocating actions to increase trust.
There is also discussion of a generational and gender divide in terms of perspectives on this issue.
JC comments: Bravo Tamsin! Many scientists don’t understand when they are being a political/policy advocate. I recall a few years ago when I was discussing this issue with a mainstream climate scientist and IPCC coordinating lead author. He did not regard himself as an advocate, for this reason which I paraphrase based on my memory of the exchange: “I just tell people what needs to be done in terms of how much emissions need to be reduced on what time scale. I don’t tell them how to do it in terms of which policies to use in the emission reduction, so therefore I am not a policy advocate.”
The other point that Tamsin gets is that skeptics listen to her and respect her, even though her perspective on the science is mainstream, because she does not advocate for policies and is respectful towards skeptics (she often comments at BishopHill). She is also correct that much of climate science skepticism is driven by “a belief that environmental activism has influenced how scientists gather and interpret evidence.”
Tamsin also gets the rebuilding trust thing.
JC message to Tamsin: watch out, you are on your way to being classified as a ‘denier‘:
Committed to reason, evidence, and open inquiry, she is willing to examine legitimate points the climate skeptics may be making — as well as the evidence and arguments from mainstream climate science.
Is it being a denier to state that I believe that fossil fuels are the cause of 80% of “climate change” but that it is the heat, not the CO2 that should be our focus?
It’s simple Tamsin. Don’t do advocacy then. Go after nutcakes such as this Philip Hadad character that I am responding to who think that combustion of fossil fuels alone (and not the after-effects) is causing climate change.
Calling kranks and krackpots out is not advocacy. It’s called teaching. Do your job.
In your case webby it is called being a simple minded and abusive evangelist. Now if you want to explain to Phillip that it is simple radiative physics and not just combustion – knock yourself out. But that’s not your style is it?
Deniers even deny the Earth is flat. I am a denier like yourself. Now there are at least two of us. Deniers unite!
A smart fellow like you could no doubt quickly calculate the total heat created by the oxidation of carbon during a 24 hour period.
This would include the heat occurring as a result of the use of fossil fuels, and include all the heat generated by all oxygen consuming carbon based life.
Now, consider that if you lift an object, you generate heat. If that object falls to Earth, and stops moving, it generates heat. Even your feeble handwaving and attempts to evade the fact that CO2 raises the temperature of precisely nothing, generate heat.
All of this heat results from the oxidation of carbon, and must be accounted for in any discussion of any proposed increase in the Earth’s surface temperature. As a matter of fact, all heat that results from the combustion or oxidation process of anything at all, finally escapes to space after warming its environment for a shorter or longer time.
So now, having displayed your mathematical prowess for the current heat production emanating from the oxidation of carbon, you might care to explain why the current heat output, from a population of about 7 billion, must be the same or less than when the Earths 1900 – around 1.6 billion. This must logically be true if the heat generated by CO2 production is irrelevant in raising the Earth’s temperature.
Do you really not understand that more oxidation of carbon produces more heat? I won’t do the calculations for you – I’ll let you perform your usual evasive procedure. Just don’t forget, the energy you are expending is raising the free energy content of the Earth.
In your case, not by much – but the temperature is raised nevertheless.
“Physics is to mathematics what sex is to masturbation.” – Feynman.
Keep at the mathematics.
Live well and prosper,
It’s about 0.03 W/m^2/yr – Mike – an about the same from radiative decay in the Earth’s mantle.
The usual story is that CO2 warms as result of IR in the atmosphere up to a temperature where radiation at toa is restored. The innocent question I ask is do these molecules warm up or cool down to the new higher equilibrium temperature.
It matters little in the longer term because the higher energy state is maintained as a result of a reduction of the mean free IR photon path.
I am a bit puzzled. Does your calculation refer to 2013 or 1900? Would you agree that the 2013 figure should be higher than that for 1900?
You mention “radiative” decay within the mantle. I assume you mean radioactive decay (mass conversion to energy) within the interior generally. As far as I am aware, the process is not limited to the mantle.
In any case, what is your figure for heat at the surface resulting from remnant heat from the time when the Earth was a molten blob? During the Hadean era (or eon, if you prefer), the surface had not congealed to the point where solid rock existed.
I also admit to a little confusion when you give the impression that only IR radiation transfers energy from the surface to outer space.
Feynman, for example, uses “light” as including all wavelengths from the longest radio waves to the shortest gamma rays. To say that the atmosphere “traps heat” is a nonsense. Some wavelengths are impeded, so to speak, resulting in a delay at the rate at which the photons transfer energy from the Earth. So there is a small but measurable insulating effect, which can be measured, and is easily seen by comparing the Earth to the Moon.
CO2 cannot, and does not, provide any extra energy to the Earth system. All sources of energy, internal and external were insufficient to stop the Earth cooling from the time when the temperature was 0.001K hotter than now.
I dont know whether we agree. I hope so.
Live well and prosper.
It might be a little bit better – Mike – if you were not so verbose. It makes it so difficult to drill down to any possible point that may or may not be hidden amongst the verbiage.
There is residual heat from planetary accretion and radiogenic heat – mostly the latter.
‘Most of Earth’s heat is stored in the mantle, Marone says, and there are four sources that keep it hot. First, there’s the heat left over from when gravity first condensed a planet from the cloud of hot gases and particles in pre-Earth space. As the molten ball cooled, some 4 billion years ago, the outside hardened and formed a crust. The mantle is still cooling down.
“We don’t think this original heat is a major part of the Earth’s heat, though,” Marone says. It only contributes 5 to 10 percent of the total, “about the same amount as gravitational heat.”
To explain gravitational heat, Marone again evokes the image of the hot, freshly formed Earth, which was not of a consistent density. In a gravitational sorting process called differentiation, the denser, heavier parts were drawn to the center, and the less dense areas were displaced outwards. The friction created by this process generated considerable heat, which, like the original heat, still has not fully dissipated.
Then there’s latent heat, Marone says. This type arises from the core’s expanding as the Earth cools from the inside out. Just as freezing water turns to ice, that liquid metal is turning solid—and adding volume in the process. “The inner core is becoming larger by about a centimeter every thousand years,” Marone says. The heat released by this expansion is seeping into the mantle.
For all this, however, Marone says, the vast majority of the heat in Earth’s interior—up to 90 percent—is fueled by the decaying of radioactive isotopes like Potassium 40, Uranium 238, 235, and Thorium 232 contained within the mantle. These isotopes radiate heat as they shed excess energy and move toward stability. “The amount of heat caused by this radiation is almost the same as the total heat measured emanating from the Earth.”
Read more at: http://phys.org/news62952904.html#jCp
You asked for a calculation for combustion – wtf would I give you an answer for 1900 for? Assume it is approximately contemporary.
IR was discussed because that’s where the interaction with CO2 happens. Feynman may as well call the entire spectrum light – it is all thermal radiation – but only in specific frequencies does this matter to the atmosphere.
And no I don’t agree. I think you are an idiot.
OK, It looks like we have finally “taught” the Chief that the combustion of CO2 is not responsible for most of the warming properties of CO2. This has taken several years, as he has repeatedly claimed, like Philip Hadda that any warming is caused by the combustion temperature of the fossil fuels.
It is easy enough to Google what Chief has said in the past
And those are the old ones, he has kept this belief up even recently:
and then to be on the safe side, he adopts his SockPuppet handle of Skippy to reinforce this belief:
This just goes to show that one can eventually teach these deniers about basic physics and that it will eventually sink in, using Chief as an example. Our work is not in vain, as this has a multiplicative effect.
I take that back, Chief is still screwing up the math:
The combustive heating power is not increasing at the rate the Chief is asserting. This is currently at 0.03 W/m^2, not 0.03 W/m^2 per year, as he has written. It is only slowly increasing from this 0.03 value as humans gradually burn more fossil fuels every year.
Like I said, it takes time to educate the deniers. Give the Chief a few more years and he will get the math right. I thinks he has the underlying concept right and at least trying to educate Haddad and Flynn, which is a good first step. That’s why I said relentless education has a multiplicative effect. Get more people to understand the fundamentals and they can spread the teaching load.
Oh webby you are an utter twit. You went searching for me trying to explain to you the difference between initial states and ongoing energy dynamics in the atmosphere?
The usual story is that CO2 warms as result of IR in the atmosphere up to a temperature where radiative flux at toa is restored. The innocent question I asked is do these molecules warm up or cool down to the new higher temperature. The simple answer is that they are emitted at up to 1000’s of degrees and cool down to the new energy state.
It matters little in the longer term because the higher energy state is maintained as a result of a reduction of the mean free IR photon path.
I have changed nothing – but you lack the honesty and curiosity – and quite frankly smarts – to challenge your own quite misguided, simplistic and unscientific memes.
Yes and thanks for correcting my typo – I was thinking about the increase in forcing from greenhouse gases. About 0.04W/m^2/yr.
Chief, you do understand that I was involved in your ongoing education process and I knew what I wrote in the past and so didn’t have to search for you and your rather inflated ego.
Again your original problem was that you and other deniers like Haddad and Flynn believed that the ~0.03 W/m^2 combustive heating accumulated from year to year. You, the Chief Hydrologist, still made this mistake when you wrote 0.03 W/m^2/yr just today. Note that this means that you believe that the combustive heat is accumulating at a rate of 0.03 W/m^2 per year.
So now you are compounding your web of lies by denying that you still can’t get the math right. I am not the one that wrote “0.03 W/m^2/yr “, that was you, and you can’t edit out your demonstration of incompetent math.
So go ahead and keep calling me an “utter twit”. It is all projection on your part. You continue to believe that you can compete with real physicists that know how to do the math, and we can all see that is obviously not the case.
I would say I am educating you – but that is an impossibility. You make much of a typo because that is all that you have to attempt to make any sort of a point at all.
You have gone searching for my comments and copied them here. Here’s one.
‘heat from combustion – 0.04 W/m^2’
So I got it right then – but somehow this is not good enough for you. I thanked you for correcting my typo. What do you want a medal?
It is not as if anything you say is more than climate trivia, misdirection, obfuscation, lies and distortion. Surficial trivia over a depth of ignorance.
BTW – you are not a physicist. You are an electrician with a penchant for badly fitting curves to climate trivia.
WHT quote: Go after nutcakes
Can I recommend that fruit and nut cake from Greenpeace of the ‘We know where you live’ debacle.
That happened shortly after you were calling me an “utter twit”.
Now you are calling me an “electrician”. I suppose that is a step up.
Face it Chief, you are nothing a but a stealth “advocacy proxy” as I defined further down this comment thread:
So now any “climate scientist” or environmentalist who does not constantly harass people on blogs and twitter is not doing their job?
If they don’t want to get personally involved, all they have to do is request other commenters to help keep the krackpots in line by debunking them when necessary. It seems so obvious a a a procedure to follow, especially for professors who rely on teaching assistants in their normal work day, that I find it surprising that it is not done here.
I can make the request but it won’t hold any weight. Here goes: if anyone sees an obviously unsupportable theory promoted on the comments, criticize it for its faults so other readers can learn why it is not valid.
This could be considered feeding the trolls but there is no other option when they have reached a plurality of commenters.
Webby as an arbiter of objective truth? Utter certainty in the midst of a complexity he has little inkling of. The pursuit of climate trivia. The endless self aggrandizing twaddle. The refusal or inability to challenge his own simplistic memes.
The only reason I engaged was that he simply reached the wrong conclusion again in some wacky rendition of my comments from the deep past.
‘OK, It looks like we have finally “taught” the Chief that the combustion of CO2 is not responsible for most of the warming properties of CO2. This has taken several years, as he has repeatedly claimed, like Philip Hadda that any warming is caused by the combustion temperature of the fossil fuels.’
It is not and never has been true. Simple radiative physics is one thing but even within that there are subtleties that apparently one can’t think about without offending webbys sense of propriety.
I’ll go back to ignoring him now.
Chief—Question–Why would metals in the earths core cause an increase in volume as they solidify? Which metals would contract?
With grammar like that and such a limited understanding of science, you have to wonder if Chief is a time traveller from the Victorian era.
Syntax – webby – not grammar. It has such a pleasing music to it.
Science is an endless quest and not an end state – after long decades of study I must have learned something surely.
We nearly all make some progress at last. Perhaps you not so much.
“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”
The Chief takes on a title that makes him sound like an authoritarian bully while writing with a scolding antiquated style. He them wonders why he gets attacked for routinely making mathematical blunders in estimates of global forcing values.
The only possibility is that he is intentionally adopting his clownish Simpson’s cartoon character. What kind of advocacy is that? It is all a joke to him.
Say something serious and relevant webby – assuming you are at all capable.
Philip Haddad | July 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Reply
“Is it being a denier to state that I believe that fossil fuels are the cause of 80% of “climate change” but that it is the heat, not the CO2 that should be our focus?”
I’d call that being an imbecile.
> Which metals would contract?
My vote would go to Rammstein:
Iron Maiden might – on the other hand – expand.
Ha! I’m a long way from being called a denier. But some people think I have pandered to sceptics, gone native.
Thanks for the feature. Coming to WUWT soon too, apparently.
Yes, well perhaps, But you might be surprised how quickly you can be turned on if perceived a threat in any way. Do you think Judith merits the term “denier?” Presumably you’ll answer “no” to that question.
Tamsin appears to be something like the guy who supports gaay rights but prefaces all his arguments with “I’m not gaay myself but…”
P.S. misspell G AY somehow otherwise the comment goes directly to moderation.
Springer is in vintage form.
Name calling and idiotic analogies.
Where is your evidence that it has “damaged the trust in the science” on any meaningful scale? I’d say that the evidence is that most of those who don’t have “trust in the science” didn’t all along, or are predisposed to not trusting in the science because of their own orientation. They would not be somehow won over by less advocacy on the part of climate scientists. The advocacy has caused some to have less trust, perhaps, but perhaps it has given others more trust. I’s say that in the end, the outcomes you describe are insignificant. Or perhaps you have some concrete evidence otherwise?
Climate “skeptics” are (for the most part) advocates in their own right. Of course they are negatively influenced by what they see as advocacy for policies they oppose. Should climate scientists not advocate for what they feel in important because they should be intimidated by advocates that disagree with them?
If “skeptics” are driven by their own advocacy and political ideology, why should that be the responsibility of climate scientists? And further, nothing that climate scientists do or don’t do will change the advocacy nature of “skeptics.”
IMO, the important issue is not the advocacy itself, but when advocacy results in a poor approach to science. And that would include speculating about cause-and-effect without having quantified and/or validated data to support your speculation.
No doubt. But again, so what? Would you expect some lack of criticism from people who advocate for different policies? Should someone not advocate for policies because they somehow should avoid criticism from those who advocate different policies?
If “skeptics” what to argue that advocacy necessarily corrupts someone’s science, and on that basis say that climate science is invalidated, they are: (1) presenting a fallacious argument – as you cannot make such an assumption and (2), applying their standards selectively – as they, themselves, are also arguing both policy and science
Valid criticism of the science should be made in a scientific manner – not based on assumptions because “skeptics” advocate different policies. If it is so based – it is fallacious.
Criticism that the science of climate scientists is biased by their advocacy can only be made by scientific arguments that display how the science is invalid.
And anyway – it is unrealistic to think that science exists without advocacy. That is a notion that runs counter to what we know about human nature. The notion is particularly unrealistic in a context as polarized and politicized as the climate debate.
Judith and others *(realists and “skeptics” alike) claim that they aren’t advocates, but their claims don’t stand up to scrutiny, IMO. In reality what they are saying is that only those who disagree with them about policy are advocates, and they are only conducting pure science – and such a claim is rather obviously a product of selective reasoning.
(Since Peter Lang is giving himself points, I figured I should do so also)
Climategate and the woefully inadequate response to it by senior climatologists irrevocably damaged my trust in those participating and their fellow-travellers.
If they don’t want me to think that they have all the integrity and trustworthiness of a used car salesmen’s convention, then they should stop acting like the shadiest members of that occupation.
Some have suggested that the ‘new generation’ of climos have a greater grasp of the ethical standards required of senior professionals in any walk of life. Good.
I hope that these optimistic noises are true and that in time the damage to their collective reputation will be repaired. And I heartily endorse Tamsin’s wise remarks:
‘But I care more about restoring trust in science than about calling people to action; more about improving public understanding of science so society can make better-informed decisions, than about making people’s decisions for them’.
There is a lot of missing trust that must be restored. She faces a long, hard task.
I wish her every success.
Hey Josh, tell me again about the Hockey Stick.
I have expressed more or less identical views as Tamsin Edwards here. Joshua made the same question to me:
Is there evidence that the loss of trust has been important enough or is it rather true that only very few people have changed their mind.?
The question is a relevant one. It’s relevant to ask, whether Stephen Schneider was right when he discussed the choice between advocacy and presenting science only in strictly scientific manner with all caveats and uncertainties, and when he leaned towards advocacy.
I have not changed my mind. I do still agree with the views expressed by Tamsin Edwards. I believe that strong advocacy may be more effective over short term but much less effective in the long run, and the climate issue is really “long run”. Science must be kept separate from advocacy and scientists must stick to the rules of science as long as they don’t tell explicitly that what they tell next is personal views that they cannot fully support by science.
We need moderate scientists in public, those who try to explain the whole range of views held by scientists, and also why they disagree with skeptics, whose views don’t fall in that range. Lengthy presentations don’t reach wide audiences but we have seen scientists who write successfully on those lines. We have also seen some science journalists who describe successfully the controversies. (My judgement of who has succeeded in that is dependent on my own views on the same issues, but I do believe that some of these writers are judged similarly by many.)
The public cannot learn to understand science, what it can provide and what not, without the help of scientists and the best science journalists. They must keep on fighting the misleading influence of activists of all sides, and also that of badly written science news and other bad science journalism.
Did you trust them prior to Climategate? Or do you view what happened with Climategate as a convenient way to confirm your previous assumptions?
Either way: (1) you are an outlier. It is entirely unskeptical (meaning “skeptical”) to project your own experiences onto a wider public and, (2) you are an advocate. You are strongly in opposition to scientists recommending specific policy – and that is why you object to their advocacy. Do you object to RPJr or Tol or Spencer or Christy or Lindzen when they discuss their views related to policy? If so, please, provide some examples of comments you have made where you voiced objection to their “advocacy” independent of your views on the specific policies they advocate.
I think Tamsin is advocating for a stereotype of what scientists are supposed to be – fully objective and impartial and unfeeling, having no opinions, just the facts.
I’m all for those things in the relation to the conduct of science, but they certainly don’t apply to scientists, who are human beings – social, political, with views and opinions.
There have been many great public advocacy scientist and in many other felds there are plenty of scientists invovled in policy discussion and advocacy, so it’s quite a mystery to me why it should be different for climate scientists.
But if Tamsin doesn’t want to do that, she shouldn’t, and it’s wrong for others to pressure her to do so…….likewise if others chose to do so, it’s wrong for Tamsin to tell them they shouldn’t. The choice belongs to the individual.
And I will add:
Climategate and the woefully inadequate response to it by senior climatologists irrevocably damaged my trust in those participating and their fellow-travellers.
There is very little evidence, at least that I’ve seen, that scientifically substantiates the reaction to Climategate. What little there is shows that few opinions were changed or significantly altered as a result, that when they were altered the impact was not uni-directional (yes, some people became more confident in the threat from climate change as a result), and to the extent that peoples’ views were altered, their reaction could have been easily predicted by their prior orientation. In politically polarized arenas such as climate change, people filter new evidence so as to confirm their beliefs.
I see “skeptics,” quite frequently, make arguments such as yours to outline some larger cause-and-effect on public opinion. Similar to your claim is the claim that overly confident predictions by climate scientists has had/will have some backlash effect that will undermine confidence in science.
Such speculation is logical in nature. The problem is that the speculation is not backed by the evidence. How long have we been reading such claims by “skeptics?” How many times have you read that “This is the stake through the heart/final nail in the coffin of AGW?” How long have you been reading those comments.
And what does the evidence say? The evidence says that public opinion about climate change is not attributable to such a simplistic cause-and-effect mechanism. It is influenced by many factors.
So for me the question is why do smart and knowledgeable people keep asserting a cause-and-efffect, one that they are absolutely certain exists, even though they don’t have evidence to support their assertion and in fact, even though we have evidence to show that their assertion about cause and effect is fallacious?
My opinion is that we see this happening because of influences that bias their reasoning. And sure enough, we have a lot of evidence of how fundamental attributes in how humans reason, particularly in contexts that are highly politicized and controversial and divisive, can lead to biased reasoning.
IMO – we all are, quite obviously, subject to influences that bias our reasoning. Some are open to examining for those biases and some aren’t. More specifically, skeptics are open to examining for biases in their own reasoning. That attribute is, in fact, what distinguishes skepticism. “Skeptics,” on the other hand, no matter whether they self-identify as skeptics, are those who aren’t willing to examine for those biases.
Obviously, the following part from my comment above is from Latimer:
Most luke-warmer skeptics advocate understanding the climate system better and taking into account all evidence and realistic error bars before making a decision. Advocating doing nothing or “only those things that we would do anyway” as Hansen used to express it, until we are more certain is not putting the advocacy before the science.
What to do and how to do it come after “do we need to anything”. How to do it is a totally different question and you must figure this out after the “what to do” is understood.
But in addition to not telling scientists whether they should or shouldn’t be advocates, I’d say that folks should be a bit more circumspect about denouncing advocacy in others as if they, themselves are free from advocacy. The lines of distinction between advocacy and non-advocacy are not so easily drawn.
For example, for the sake of argument let’s stipulate that scientists advocating for policies undermines public confidence in science. Then when Judith Curry testifies before Congress in the service of particiular politicians who advocate specific policies, and enters herself into an inherently and overtly political context, is there really some some significantly less impact on public trust in the science than when a scientist that Judith criticizes for advocacy similarly testifies before Congress?
We should be more careful in determining just who is and who isn’t an “advocate” as well as more carefully measuring what we assume is cause-and-effect.
Is Tamsin an “advocate” as she advocates that climate scientists shouldn’t be “advocates?” In a sense, perhaps not, as in doing so she is not advocating directly for or against a specific policy – but: (1) in criticizing those who are advocates, and specifying her criticism to scientists who advocate particular policy approaches and not others, she is, essentially advocating (in a weak form) for alternative policies and (2) in such a heavily politicized context, if someone maintains a blog where people discuss the debate itself and not just the science, and writes newspaper articles about the debate itself and not just the science, they become advocates by virtue of placing themselves in a context of advocacy.
Tamsin has expressed her disapproval of advocacy because of her concerns about a potential resulting loss of trust. The problem for me is that I don’t think she has the evidence to show that her concerns are manifest to any significant degree. This is particularly true if we add in her own actions. Where is here evidence that Gavin Schmidt has significantly undermined trust in climate science more than a climate scientist who writes that climate scientists should not be advocates for policies that address their findings?
In other words, they advocate for a particular course of action.
And keep in mind, that people who identify with conservative ideology seem to be particularly inclined to think that they don’t need to understand the system better before determining their perspective.
Keep in mind that there is an association between political views and views on climate change – suggesting that “skeptics,” in contrast to your description of “luke-warmers,” seem to be particularly inclined to think the opposite as what you described; in fact, they believe they don’t need to understand the system better before deciding about policy.
Why does Tamsin NEED any evidence to support her choice to believe that climategate harmed the trust in climate science.
1. As willard is fond of pointing out there is evidence that is contrarian proof. If she gave you evidence you would just question it because of your motivated reasoning. In short, there is no convincing you.
2. There is some evidence, in polls, of an erosion of trust .
3. It is enough that climate scientists THINK trust has eroded, it has changed their behavior in some cases.
It’s really funny that you dont see your own motivated reasoning here, and really interesting that you are falling back into your old style…
How about addressing the real issue: the institutional pressure on individual scientists to advocate. Regardless of whether of not you think it is impossible to bracket ones political beliefs while performing science,
what is your view of pressuring scientists to openly advocate.
” the important issue is not the advocacy itself, but when advocacy results in a poor approach to science.”
The Hockey stick comes to mind.
I said nothing at all about what effect Climategate had on public opinion. Your complaint that I did so without any evidence is false.
My remarks are specifically about the effect they had on my opinion. No more, no less. Please do not attempt to put words in my pen that are not there. It is disingenuous and does not add to your reputation.
As to your argument that Climategate didn’t matter because few people noticed or were influenced by it, that is an opinion worthy of the worst of pur political spin doctors. You have entirely failed to understand the point that it was *wrong*. Not just unfortunate or a tactical oversight or a slip…but *wrong*.
Once climate scientist sacrifice their integrity for short term gains, their long-term credibility goes out of the window. Dr Faust may not have een a climate scientist, but he got to know this turf pretty well.
I became involved in science education due to the extremely poor quality in how science and technology issues were covered in the media.
I was certainly not predisposed to doubting scientists. That’s not to say I took everything as holy writ, but generally scientists are folks I respect. And when I became interested in the climate debate – a result of work by a politician, not science – I went to sites touted as being run by scientists. For one, I knew that statements such as “the debate is over” and “the science is settled” are the type used to silence open discussion and stop people from asking questions. That is not science. Yet what I found on the “science” sites was exactly the same. An attempt to stifle any debate and to moderate away uncomfortable questions or attack those challenging the belief system. That is not science.
The deeper I got into the debate, the more I felt that at least some if the key players were not honest actors’ but apparently motivated by more than scientific discovery.
So just as with another of your now tiresome commentary topics – your search for the true skeptic – this little argument does not apply, at least not to me. And if not to me, then how many others? So what if you can find some critics who fit your description? Enough do not, and have good reason to question what negative impact to the public trust in science the climate change debate is creating.
If you had mentioned Bishop Hill or WUWT positively, you might have had the grief Warren Pearce had, in the same series of articles..
so, I think Judith is right on this one, remner Peter Gleicks, guilt by association.
one thought I saw raised on twitter, (by Tasmin?) is their a difference in attitude amongst the newer generation of climate scientists.
Using the perjorative term ‘denier’ rather than sceptic’ says something about those er scientists using the label does – it – not?
Yes it does. It says a lot. Don’t trust a word they say because it is all part of the ideological spin of the Left.
+ a bunch, Beth Cooper.
Thanks, Dr Edwards. I have been waiting since 1988 for a “mainstream” climate scientist to write such a post. You are now on my short list with Dr. Curry, Roger Pielkie Jr, Dr Roger Pielkie Sr, and several lesser known scientists: thoughtful, respectiful, informative, and open minded.
Bravo. Continue to uphold and demonstrate the high standard of integrity in science eloquently described by Richard Feynman in his lecture “Cargo Cult Science”
Tamsin, I’ve followed your blogging from the beginning and want to thank you for being honest about the issues in this debate. I’m sure you are facing a lot of nasty email and comments from the green side. As I’m sure you are aware that’s normal when you speak the inconvenient truth. Honesty usually wins in the long run!!
Made some points I attempted to make above – only coherently.
What we need is a right compromise. Scientists should contribute to decision making but they should do it keeping to the standards of science – or alternatively tell that they are not acting as scientists.
Another important point is that scientists should not imply that they are specialists on questions they have not studied. They should understand that that particular fact which they may know very well may be far less important for rational decision making than they intuitively think when they have spent years on that issue.
Ah, already linked. (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/31/the-wuwt-hot-sheet-wednesday-july-31st-2013/#more-90731)
Tasmin, your obvious integrity is the greatest asset you have. I like reading your comments on Bishop Hill and I take notice because I trust you. If you join the advocacy crowd, I’ll lose that trust.
Sorry for the typo, I was attempting to award +1 to Faustino on another comment. Finger trouble.
Tamsin, my apologies for incorrect spelling.
I believe very strongly that is the true. AR4 WG2 was strongly influenced by environmental NGOs.
If climate scientist is a political advocate = solicitors are imitating ”climate scientists”… the baker is a .midwife = midwife is a baker … should the end results be the same…?
Tamsin’s a good one. Hope she doesn’t have to go through what you have, Judith.
I actually think it’s okay for a scientist to state policy preferences, as long as he/she very ceremoniously takes off one hat before putting on the other. But I also think it’s less than productive. They’re just another voter.
I dont think the hat switching works.
Hansen is great at the hat switch. He will take the science hat off. Continue to talk about science for another 10-15 minutes— and then slip into policy. It gives one plausible deniability, but when you listen to the whole presentation the ceremoniuous hat removal is lost on all but the most careful listener
Hit nail on head – or on hat, whichever you prefer.
I don’t think anyone could ever accuse Hansen of trying to hide his advocacy for action on climate change in general and his preferred policies in particular.
It’s also my perception (I admit I right be wrong) that he is generally trusted and respected even by those who might disagree with him either on the science of his preferred policy solutions.
Hansen “generally trusted and respected ” ??
Respected – yes, for his sincere, outspoken attitude.
Trusted? Trusted in his scientific claims? Like tipping points on the way to Venus ? No.
Surely disagreeing with someone’s views on certain scientific questions doesn’t necessarily mean they are not trustworthy?
Willard, I don’t buy the moral equivalency and the cynicism your comment implies. No one is perfectly honest, but some are a lot more honest than others and its important to drive standards higher and not let them slip lower. Cynicism always allows standards to go lower.
As the Auditor might reply:
> Does everything have to have a point?
But if you want a clear point, here’s one: notice the incongruity between the concept of honestly brokering and Tamsin’s stance. For an honest broker, there’s no such thing as a dichotomy between facts and values, therefore Tamsin’s stance can only be read as stealth advocacy. Qui ne dit mot consent, so to speak.
I may express myself cynically, but rest assured that I try to stick without the character of my persona. This means that I have little choice but to keep the pursuit of truth as worth something.
It’s just that I can’t comprehend how scoring brownie points and picking virtual sides all the time can lead us anywhere else than where we are right now, waiting for Godot.
Hope this helps,
Yes tamsin is a stealth advocate.
I have seen several people parrot her views. Hansen, for example, agrees with her views on black carbon. And gavin agrees with Tamsin’s stealth advocacy of nuclear. Joe romm is on board with Tamsin stealth advocacy of Solar, and just last week we were discussing her stealth advocacy of fracking.
I would say that Tamsin is the most effect stealth advocate the world has ever seen. Look at all the democrats asking her to testify..
She’s fooled everyone with her stealth advocacy.
Only her title gave her up.
Well spotted, Junior!
I think this comes down to the EXPERT syndrome the MSM have adopted (can’t blame them for this, would be interesting to know why my granny should be ignored in favor of some guy/girl)
maybe only me, but I no longer trust/accept without thought any MSM Expert (Science or any other topic for that matter)
suspicious me thinks what is your agenda ?
Re Andrew Adams comment:
I think of Dr Hansen as respected and give him credit both as scientist and for his conviction. But his advocacy, in my view, calls into question his conclusions from the science. I believe he believes he is correct, but cannot rule out the possibility of his seeing what he wants to and turning his blind eye to contradictory data. That is the problem with advocacy. It doesn’t mean dishonesty takes place but it is not unreasonable to consider bias slipping in.
Couldn’t agree more. Scientists, Gavin Schmidt included, have every right to state their policy preferences. In fact, if they see catastrophe looming, they have a moral obligation to do so.
The problem is when they conflate the political aspects of their position with science.
Gavin Schmidt lost not one iota of respect by advocating for the consensus scientific position. One of the things that amazed me when I first started following climate blogs was the reaction of even the most prominent skeptics whose comments were edited or deleted at Real Science. It looked to me like some form of internet Stockholm Syndrome. If Schmidt had no credibility, no one would have cared.
It is when the consensus advocates like Schmidt seek to transfer the “appeal to authority” (to which they have some entitlement in the area of science), to the policy debate that they start to lose credibility. Decarbonization/mitigation is an issue which involves multiple areas of science, economics, and politics as well as value judgments that have nothing to do with science.
AGW is science. CAGW is politics. One of these things is not like the other.
At least Jim has a hat. Doctor Doom and the Tall One too.
But Tamsin has no hat:
A hat would suit her well.
Not that she needs one.
Willard, in his usual concise manner, points out the effectiveness of stealth advocacy.
I rarely find fault with anything Professor Curry says. However, I am forever battling all the commenters that generate misdirection and FUD on this site.
Is that also not a form of stealth advocacy to condone what commenters say, no matter how bizarre? (see the FUD-fueled beliefs of Haddad, Flynn, and Chief at the top of this commenting thread) I guess the working definition of a “CE denizen” is a stealthy “advocacy proxy”.
Thank you for the kind words, Web.
I don’t think there’s a general solution to this quandary. I think all these discussions on advocacy are mostly rationalizations of personal preferences. Not engaging in policy is still a policy, and there’s no real views from nowhere
I don’t think we should generalize Tamsin’s stance to score brownie points. Tamsin is more than welcome to go from “I, as a scientist” to “all scientists”. But if she does that, she has to include herself in the preference judgements we’re discussing,
Ideology is always what the Other entertains.
I agree with Tasmin and strongly disagree with Gavin on this. It seems many climate scientists think they should have more say in policy. However, I think climate scientists have negligible understanding of what is involved in policy analysis and the development of policies that can be successful at delivering their objectives. Roger Pielke Jr is one person who does understand both science and policy. So does Lord Christopher Monckton understand what is relevant to policy. Most scientists do not. They are simply not experienced at dealing with milestones, time frames, deliverables, politics, economic analyses, financing, budgeting, etc.
Tamsin, further to that: I have great respect for Judith as a climate scientist and blogger; but when she runs head posts on policy, her comments on them often show to me and several other posters with policy expertise that she is out of her field and out of her depth, and often not across the ramifications and implications of what she endorses.
As an economist, I’m often not competent to assess arguments on climate science. But, like many people, I have a good grasp when issues of credibility and integrity arise. I can also assess the critical issue of whether or not “catastrophic” impacts of any warming have been demonstrated, and whether or not policies intended to deal with them show net benefits. Whatever the science, I have not seen a convincing argument for the costly anti-emissions policies adopted in many countries. When it moves to economic and policy questions, climate scientists have no expertise but need to be able to provide convincing data and argument on the science. Being advocates immediately makes their input suspect.
I often highlight articles related to policy at Climate Etc.; I also often remark on what makes sense to me and what doesn’t. A rationale for these posts is that I am trying to learn more about this topic and appreciate the discussion and some of the expertise that shows up in the comments, and these topics attract a broader community to Climate Etc. that overall enriches the discussion on a range of topics.
I am particularly interested in issues at the science-policy interface: characterization and communication of uncertainty, transparency and integrity of research, the role of expertise in policy debates, decision making under uncertainty, and scientists as advocates. To address these issues, we need scientists that explore the policy arena, and policy makers to understand the sociology of science. The blogosphere is a great place to promote this kind of cross-over engagement
Judith, I fully agree, and think that you are doing a great job and providing a very worthwhile service. I wrote the above before reading your 10.40 comment, which I have replied to below. I appreciate that you are not a policy expert, just as I am not an expert on climate science, and that this is a meeting place for many disciplines and viewpoints. Long may it remain so.
I think your policy model is wholly inadequate for the far more complex problems of climate and environment. If we had scientists feeding us accurate information – you say – we could then move on to linear policy formulation on a rational basis. One policy objective at a time. It falls down on the first step. There is always insufficient information.
The alternative is the specialist response of the environmental scientist. ‘Environmental science is a multidisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, (including but not limited to ecology, physics, chemistry, biology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science and geography) to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. Environmental science provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.’ Wikipedia
Environmental systems include physical, social, cultural and economic components. We utilise a team based approach of interacting generalists -each usually with a speciality – in a structured approach. It is a response to the need to create solutions with inadequate knowledge. It synergistically maximizes the information available to create optimal triple bottom line solutions. It is a bit of an art form.
With climate the bottom line is that we are not going to get sufficient certainty in projections any time soon. Although I have suggested there is more than sufficient certainty to take the energy innovation pathway along with various no regrets – as defined by the IPCC – options.
Chief, I agree that often, and certainly in the global warming arena, there is insufficient information, and that judgement calls have to be made. I also accept that, in policy determination broadly, economic analysis is not always predominant, it is one aspect, and can provide guidance on certain factors. I tend to give it more weight because (a) it’s my area (b) it gives a way of comparing disparate things. One element is that when you can estimate the net present value of different options, it can clarify that, for example, if option A has significantly greater benefits than option B, then you are forgoing future benefits and capacity by choosing B. But it doesn’t determine the choice. Nor does it eschew the holistic approach you advocate. If I might quote myself from an economic policy paper:
“An holistic approach
“As indicated above, the success of growth-oriented policies in one area, such as competition policy, is often dependent on complementary and supporting policies in other areas, such as light-handed regulation of labour markets. A persistent failing in Queensland policy development is that policies in different areas tend to be developed in isolation from, and ignorance of, related or opposed policies in other areas. There is no unifying principle, no comprehensive strategic oversight of how policies interact. This has been referred to as the “silo” mentality.
“For example, there is evidence of a relationship between education levels and productivity and economic growth. But this is not a simplistic relationship. It does not mean, as the State Government seems to have assumed, that forcing those who prefer to leave school early to complete Year 12 will lead them to more skilled jobs and higher wages and will boost productivity and growth. The driving force here is the opportunities for profitable investment and business growth in Queensland, and extra schooling for students at the lower end of the spectrum will not significantly change this. …
“Outside of the education system, Heckman argues – in line with this paper – that policies which promote capital formation (that is, that encourage and reward entrepreneurial behaviour) are very effective in raising wages growth and economic efficiency. They also provide incentives for individuals to undergo relevant training. This illustrates how policies outside the field of education and training can affect outcomes in that field, reinforcing the need for an holistic approach. …
“While this section uses education as an example, the broader point is that
policies across many areas must be coordinated, complementary and well-founded to be successful.”
Excellent comment on why we need to compare policy option on an apples to apples basis (e.g. Net Present Value (NPV)). In Australia, Treasury, Productivity Commission do this best for the whole economy. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Energy economics did this really well for over 60 years and had a world wide reputation for excellence.
Unfortunately, the current Labor (i.e. socialist) government wanted to control what ABARE says so it has rolled it into a government department and made it directly responsible to a minister. So now it must be careful what it says, and must not upset the government. Of course, that is not what the spin says, but don’t believe it. i have many examples of waht is happening. Look at who is the steering committee for this report, for example: http://www.bree.gov.au/documents/publications/aeta/Australian_Energy_Technology_Assessment.pdf
Of course we should have integrated programs across government – that would seem to be quite sensible.
NPV’s are a bit of an art form as well – involving sensitivity analysis as well the use of various techniques for placing a value on costs and benefits that don’t have a monetary value as such. Biodiversity perhaps – or the cultural or scientific value of certain landscapes.
This might indeed feed into a constrained multivariate optimization technique that is the essence of the methodology. Holistic is a bit airy fairy in this context.
Judith, you write “I am particularly interested in issues at the science-policy interface: characterization and communication of uncertainty, transparency and integrity of research, the role of expertise in policy debates, decision making under uncertainty, and scientists as advocates.”
And one can only applaud this type of approach. However, and there is always a however, I detect a huge bias in the subjects you choose for us to discuss. I have not kept score, but the vast majority of the subjects you choose on this sort of issue, seem to assume that CAGW is a real and proven scientific fact. I cannot recall a single instance where the paper you have selected for discussion, assumes that CAGW is a load of scientific nonsense. I apologise in advance if my memory is at fault
More Tamsin. More Lucia. More Curry. More Betts. More Palmer. More Hulme.
and Peter Webster is ok too.
There are a few more I would add.. More Von Storch. More Leif.
A mass migration; climate refugees, heh.
Interesting. I often think it would be informative to hear which half dozen individuals people would choose to represent their views/beliefs/understanding if they had no voice. I’d add Pielke (Jr), Tol and Lomborg to the sane individuals Mosher mentioned. But although I find Hulme interesting, he’s too ‘meta’ to make the final cut..
No room for Palmer. Tamsin represented by Betts.
Von Storch Chairman.
Lomborg poster boy.
Lucia blogging and dishing out the quatloos… :)
It seems very well to say you are only going to talk about science but not policy, and I would agree that is where scientists should be, because as policymakers they are amateurs like the rest of the debaters, and even if they did talk about policy, it should not be raised above anyone else’s opinion.
However, there is a big grey area here, and that is in the area of certainty. Scientists range in the level of certainty they are likely to give policymakers about the probabilities of various levels of warming. As soon as you say a world with 700 ppm is likely to be 4 C warmer, you have made a jump that a lot of policymakers won’t like, because that may imply action is needed. It is then that you get into arguments, even though you have stayed in science and just given a probability.
Jim, as a former policy-maker, I would want to know the quality of the basis for assessments such as 700 ppm > +4C, the prospective time-frame, the degree of probability, etc. This is not getting into policy arguments, this goes towards providing an adequate basis for policy-making. I’d also want to know of contrary assessments and their respective credibility.
Of course, before taking any action, I’d also want a good assessment of the costs and benefits of options to deal with any alleged issue, including the “do-nothing” and “maximise growth to increase our capacity to deal with whatever future emerges” options. I would not be seeking opinions from climate scientists, but the data and projections on the climate side from which economic assessments could be made.
Scientists could give you bell curves of equilibrium temperature for each hypothetical CO2e. This would help policy makers if they understood the meaning of equilibrium sensitivity. Policymakers could then condense the central estimate to 1 C higher per 100 ppm added, or, less wisely, just focus on the wings of low probability, which is what is happening now in some places.
Why cloud an agenda with facts…
“Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today challenged her employees to take an active role in the “moral imperative” to address climate change.
“I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior,” she said.”
when there is no time, to waste. Profile the unfaithful…the new et-too.
Here is an example of out right policy advocacy by a scientist, sans faux appeal to authority. Just not in the direction most here are accustomed to.
“Here, you can see that the relationship between GDP and carbon is not merely linear, but quadratic, with total economic output rising as roughly the square of carbon use. For example, since 1975, carbon use has doubled, causing a quadrupling of global GDP. Furthermore, if we take the ratio of current global GDP ($60 trillion) to carbon use (9 billion tons) and divide it out, we find that, at present, each ton of carbon used produces about $6,700 of global GDP.”
I actually discuss policy quite a bit, but i don’t advocate for anything other than saying that I think robustness is a good test for policies.
Judith, re my comment @ 10.59 above, you might not advocate for anything, but quite often you have given a favourable assessment to a policy-oriented article, implicitly supporting it; and often in my view as a policy wonk, I think a favourable assessment is not deserved. So at times you do appear to give support to certain policy approaches which many CE posters with a policy background feel are flawed, often seriously. This might not be your intention, but it is how it is perceived.
hmmmmm. . . not aware of doing this, pls flag me more explicitly when you see this. thx.
Judith, I have done so occasionally, as has Peter Lang, I’ll put a big star on my post should the occasion ever arise again. ;-)
I’ll be looking :)
Declaring that an article has some intellectual interest is not nearly the same as endorsing it Michael – despite your displeasure.
Quite right, Robert, but IMHO there have been instances where Judith’s appraisal has gone beyond “This is an interesting article, worthy of discussion,” to, again IMHO with no examples to hand, (apparently?) endorsing what I consider to be poor and poorly derived policy options.
I’m not fond of the never-ending sub-threads which in my view often blight this blog, so TTFN, enough from me on this topic.
faustino said and I strongly agree:
A single thread of comments, posted in time order, and referring to previous comments, works far better IMO.
And even better if users could hide the comments from bloggers they are not interested in reading.
Judith, here is one example (not strictly advocacy for policy but seems to be implied support for a solution):
A modest proposal for sequestration of CO2 in the Antarctic
I enjoyed pulling this idea apart, so I hope you will keep posting interesting posts like this one, but without any advocacy. Posting them provides an opportunity for engineers and economists to educate scientists on matters outside the scientists area of expertise.
It was clear the analysis written up in this paper was purely a scientists idea and no engineering input was sort. It was submitted to a journal, and even after the blog critiques, it was withdrawn or not corrected. It provides a classic example of scientists and IT gurus going nuts with ideas way outside their area of expertise and not checking the realities.
My critique and cost estimate (I sent to the lead author) are here: http://judithcurry.com/2012/08/24/a-modest-proposal-for-sequestration-of-co2-in-the-antarctic/#comment-233330
My final cost estimate (after a few itterations) was $2400/ tonne CO2 abated; which is over 400 times the EU carbon price!
So the best we have is an idea that is thinking outside the square and doesn’t have potential adverse consequences?
It’s a bit thin really.
Fair point. I happened to have saved the link to that one and not to other examples and can’t be bothered looking.
Judith is every bit as strong a policy advocate as Jim Hansen is, but her advocay is different….apparently.
I agree with Chief on the difference between interest and endorsement.
Tamsin, absolutely spot on. I’m a retired government economic policy adviser, who at times advised at the highest levels. I often had strong views on policy, but was not and advocate for them, and understood that I was not a decision-maker. My task was to present clearly and succinctly what the issue was, what options might be considered, and an evaluation of those options. I didn’t seek to massage or pick and choose the data to slant the advice. If other climate scientists took the same stance as you, we would have had a far better basis for political decisions over the last 15-20 years.
+1 for Faustino’s comments on this thread.
+ lazy eight
“But I care more about restoring trust in science than about calling people to action…” – Tamsin Edwards. On Target. Thank you.
Honest policymakers need honest non-policy advocating scientists. When billions are a stake as well as potential lives, the pressures on policymakers is enormous. Everywhere they turn, there will be spin. Everyone will be spinning everything for their own self-interest. It is here that the true policy-neutral scientist is the best friend of both honest policymakers and the public interest. Tell me what the science says with all the uncertainty. Give me worst case, best case, and most likely. Then let the debate rage among the politicians.
Thanks for your honest attempts to keep science neutral Tasmine and Judith. You can be passionate about your science, but the honest policymakers and the public need you to be stoically neutral when you present the science so as to give them some respite from the “storm of spin” which is the world they exist in.
somebody’s hacked R.Gates’ account! :)
Honest being the key word. People are dishonest when they tell us that models predict heatwaves, droughts, stronger hurricanes, coral disappearance or indeed that models are useful for any policy whatsoever. They are honest when they say the observations do not match the predictions and they don’t actually know why.
Perhaps economists should stop giving policy advice too, since their record is so abysmal. Alas we prefer our gurus to tell us exactly what we want to hear. So we get uber-optimistic economists and uber-pessimistic earth scientists because that is what we pay them for.
As an actuary, I’m in favor of scientists’ providing probabilities. The trouble is there’s no analytic way to calculate probabilities. If you knew that a model was correct, then you could calculate probabilities within that model. But, it’s pure judgment how likely a model is to be correct and how likely other possible models are. IMHO the ranges of uncertainty are wider than people like to think. The fact that no model predicted the 15-year lull in warming illustrates how great the uncertainty was in pasts models.
Unfortunately, actuaries are not scientists and you are proving that with your rather ignorant assertion. Diffusive flow of material is completely based on probabilistic (also known as stochastic) math.
I can analytically calculate the probability of a particle diffusing a certain distance within a certain time based on the diffusion coefficient of that particle.
This basic stochastic math is what has allowed physicists and engineers design the semiconductor devices that run the computers you are typing on.
So your problem is likely one of not understanding the difference between subjective probabilities (due to a person’s belief uncertainty) and the more objective systemic (e.g. due to measurement error or statistical error) probabilities and aleatory (e.g. due to uncertainty of natural processes, such as diffusion) probabilities.
A significant problem with most people discussing the science is that they conflate the various kinds of uncertainties, thus making a mishmash of arguments that they are trying to pursue.
There are certainly ways to objectively estimate the effects of known processes on the environment given that the objective forms of uncertainty (systemic and aleatory) are applied. The subjective forms of probability are obviously based more on human beliefs, but even these can be improved based on rules such as updating subjective probabilities based on Bayesian reasoning.
You ought to read up on the plight of the clever statistician Nate Silver
“Nate Silver Didn’t Fit In at the New York Times Because He Believed in the Real World”
Get this: Silver moved from the NY Times to ESPN, because sports people understand probabilities better than just about anyone. He will still be able to write about whatever he wants. Silver isn’t perfect however, as there are arguments in his recent book “Signals and Noise” that show that he is not as much of an expert of the aleatory uncertainty that rules science, but in terms of subjective and systemic uncertainties, he has a very good grasp at the numbers.
Since David in Cal is an actuary, I assume he too has at least been educated in systemic and subjective uncertainties, but actuarial science is not physics and so the often-times calculable aleatory uncertainties are likely given short shrift.
Stochastic is Greek for guess. Involving or containing random variables.
Guessing has it’s limitations. If sports statisticians were any good they’d all be billionaires. Alas their best guess is more often than not worse than random chance.
JamesG is one of those people that does not understand the power of applying objective stochastic math principles.
From the Nate Silver article I liked to above:
Then JamesG says this:
That has more to do with Game Theory and the fact that the rules of probability are used to keep the game, i.e. sports gambling, close to zero sum and somewhat fair to all parties.
Nate Silver, being good at probabilities via a combination of early childhood baseball stats, obvious intellect, and a U. of Chicago education, made his initial fortune via off-shore betting in his early twenties. He obviously knew how to play the house better than the house knew how to play him. After accumulating his fortune, he then went into sports stats and then into political stats.
For sports gambling, you just have to be better than the next guy. Silver is proof of that. Same for sports management people like Billy Bean.
Another long winded, rambling and quite meaningless post from webnutcolonoscope. I would suggest that he stick to an actual point but I don’t think he is capable of it.
Models are deterministically chaotic. Within the region of feasible inputs there are multiple – thousands potentially – solutions to models that diverge over time. Plausible solutions are chosen subjectively and graphed along with other subjectively chosen solutions in an opportunistic ensemble. It is as crude as that.
There are approaches to probabilities that involve perturbed model methods – hundreds to thousands of runs of the same model using slightly varied parameters each time to give a family of feasible solutions hopefully somewhere analogous to the actual climate state space.
Models did not predict the 1998/2001 climate shift – they don’t do ENSO or other important ocean and atmospheric patterns well at all.
‘The global coupled atmosphere–ocean–land–cryosphere system exhibits a wide range of physical and dynamical phenomena with associated physical, biological, and chemical feedbacks that collectively result in a continuum of temporal and spatial variability. The traditional boundaries between weather and climate are, therefore, somewhat artificial. The large-scale climate, for instance, determines the environment for microscale (1 km or less) and mesoscale (from several kilometers to several hundred kilometers) processes that govern weather and local
climate, and these small-scale processes likely have significant impacts on the evolution of the large-scale circulation (Fig. 1; derived from Meehl et al. 2001).
The accurate representation of this continuum of variability in numerical models is, consequently, a challenging but essential goal. Fundamental barriers to advancing weather and climate prediction on time scales from days to years, as well as longstanding systematic errors in weather and
climate models, are partly attributable to our limited understanding of and capability for simulating the complex, multiscale interactions intrinsic to atmospheric, oceanic, and cryospheric fluid motions.’ http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2009BAMS2752.1
Chief is all FUD, all the time. He keeps on copying-and-pasting the same old garbage, while tossing off drive-by Larrikin insults.
At least I try to keep to the topic of the top-level post, which is how people can use objective science to make predictions, and if the confidence level is high, to make policy suggestions,
With that in mind, I can give a great example of how an objectively stochastic model can be used to predict the increase of ocean heat content over time. This model I came up with is dependent on a measured estimate of the stochastic diffusion coefficient of heat, roughly on the order of 1 cm^2/s.
The profiles for heat propagation are consistent with that of measurements for OHC by Levitus and Balmaseda/Trenberth and for GHG forcing. Voila, and chew on that.
Ain’t objective probabilities neat?
It all seems incredibly irrelevant. Here was a buffoon with some crackpot analogy about diffusion and a narrative about statistics. I corrected it and he complains. Go figure.
Models have ‘irreducible imprecision’ that stems from the various limitations in data, computational scale, couplings interacting with the core nonlinear equations.
The bad curve fitting to ocean heat data I have seen before. It assumes diffusion of heat from the atmosphere to oceans and then mimics the data poorly to produce a smooth curve with less information than the original data. It is a pointless, trivial and physically unrealistic exercise.
With his limited skills, the Chief tries but then gives up and feels that lashing out is a better option.
My approach to climate science is straightforward. I tend to look at certain aspects that can lend themselves to simplification and then apply levels of uncertainty quantification to models of the behavior. This works as a check of the more complex models while generating light-weight models that are good for reasoning and educating others.
This drives people like the Chief nuts because they have never done scientific research nor have written peer-reviewed scientific papers and books, so are completely mystified how this could be done.
So lashing out is his only option. Note especially how he claims to have corrected something that I had not yet written. This is priceless in its boldness!
webby made some rambling comment that boils down to – after much unnecessary verbiage – to ‘calculable aleatory uncertainties’. This is what I corrected as much as you can correct meaningless tripe.
Go to the literature for a fuller description of uncertainties in weather and climate prediction – and of probabilistic methods -http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.abstract
‘Chief is all FUD, all the time. He keeps on copying-and-pasting the same old garbage, while tossing off drive-by Larrikin insults.’
This comes from quoting and linking to the literature. A considered discussion is not possible. I describe his simplistic curve fitting accurately and he calls it lashing out.
He is so far out of his field that everything is informed by a fog of ignorance that seems utterly intransigent. I’ll go back to ignoring him again I think.
Others seem to be so much quicker than I, that is as learners. I am a slow learner and, as such, repetition for me is necessary. When I read you posts and citations, I find that I get a little better appreciation of a graph or a phrase that adds to my understanding. I do have brain farts at times of course, so my learning is never linear, rather, like a bounded random walk. I seem to glean a morsel with each iteration. I liken my learning style to eating corn on the cob, one kernel at a time.
So, as other posters seem more light on their feet than I, I would like to both thank you for your efforts and encourage you to keep on posting as you have been doing. For me there is some rhythm and musicality to climatology: “babbling brooks per chance?” Pleasing in any case.
I feel bad that RiHo08 admits to being a slow learner. That explains why he thinks that Chief is helpful. It took me one day to figure out the Chief was a poseur and intentional misleader.
The 3% have limited ability to be able to discriminate between good and bad science.
“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”
a policy advocating scientist is a dream-come-true for any policymaker who wants to have a useful policyidiot at the ready
I know another person in a similar boat to Tamsin Edwards, facing similar criticisms about abandoning reason for advocacy.
Here’s one of his websites: http://www.globalchange.gov/
As POTUS, he’s under a lot of pressure to abandon political advocacy for science.
Maybe you two ought get together and compare notes?
Bart, Your people are already doing this with the help of many scientists.
Knowing they left no one out. It is called progress.
Tom | August 1, 2013 at 7:41 am |
My people? My people?!
What sort of hood-wearing crack is that?
You don’t know me. You don’t know _my_ people.
The NSA’s excesses have been an open secret since before they installed their first piece of hardware. My people have been talking about these invasions on privacy by an overreaching government and making noise about it and opposing it long before Ed Snowden got his first government contract job.
I’m the _MIN_archist here, the one arguing for the option that involves the least possible government, the one opposed to subsidies and gifts and favors by government to private parties at the expense of taxpayers.
You think _my_ people voted for the elected officials in Congress who sat there and grew government into such a bloated, Unconstitutional, anti-American blob?
Rush Limbaugh does not vote.
I don’t get all this fuss.
– “scientists misuse their authority if they publicise their preferred policy options”
This implies scientists do have some authority which depends on their social or political behaviour – or lack of. I don’t think so. I guess any scientific authority a scientist may achieve would depend only on his scientific success. This does not mean he cannot have a social or political authority, as any one else, by his social or political merits.
Einstein’s favouring of socialism did not diminish his scientific authority. Nor his stance on atomic bomb. The reverse is also true. His political views did not amplify his scientific authority.
It is true advocacy by climate scientists has damaged trust in the science. But it is not because of the advocacy itself, but because the way some climate scientists play advocacy (not exactly fair play), and the way some of them play science (not exactly fair science). The problem is hooliganism, both in science and in advocacy, not their preferred policy options made public.
Political advocacy? Yes, but only in the wider sense of encouraging all shades of political opinion to treat the problem seriously rather than indulging in denialism.
The political left and political right may well have their own favoured solutions to any climate problem. Nuclear power or rely on the renawables. Carbon Tax, Cap and Trade, Personal CO2 allowances etc.
There is no serious suggestion, at least as far as I know, that climate scientists should favour either one side or the other.
Would you like to provide a definition of your catchall term….or even a reasonably extensive list of specific examples that we can learn from?
Because if not, it seems to me that the alarmist definition of ‘denialism’ is
‘Something somebody else says that challenges my faith and I don’t have an answer for’
See also: Heresy, apostasy.
‘Indulging in denialism’ tempt? Tsk!
The SCIENTIFIC METHOD is based
on bein’ sceptical. First do not fool yerself!
‘ to treat the problem seriously’
Please summarise what you believe ‘the problem’ to be.
Long bitter experience shows that you first need to be very sure what ‘the problem’ is before you can fix it.
Otherwise the opportunity for the Law of Unintended Consequences to show its ugly face is huge. Fixing the wrong problem can be even more damaging than failing to fix the right one. Even assuming that there is an overall problem needing fixing at all.
You ask for a definition of denier/denialism
Judith herself defines it as follows
“I reserve the word “deniers” for people that are explicitly associated with advocacy groups that are politicizing this issue…”
I sort of agree with that. I’d say that denialism arises, almost entirely, from political motivations, whereas skepticism requires an expert level of scientific understanding
“Please summarise what you believe ‘the problem’ to be.”
OK. Its always worth getting back to basics every so often.
The problem according to most climate scientists, and my personal belief is irrelevant, is that human emissions of GH gases are causing a change, and will cause in the future, in climatic conditions.
It could turn out that to be a small problem, if the changes are small, or a large problem if the changes are large. Judith has mentioned warming figures of 1-6 degC for each end of the range.
So, yes, there is uncertainty on the potential size of the problem. I’d expect you would argue that this means there is no problem at all, which would be a good example of denialist ‘logic’. If that’s the right word for it!
you haven’t Been paying attention.
When both Tasmin and Judith have stated their experiences, your failure to see anything speakers to you wearing blinders or not being very perceptive. Since the latter doesn’t fit you, I’d advise you get rid of the blinders.
I think I’m perceptive enough to know that it should be ‘You’ and ‘been’ in the above sentence. :-)
I don’t put the same effort into correct capitalization when typing from a small phone keypad,as I would on a standard sized one.
interesting to note that this is pretty much the best the climate worriers’ can muster as a response.
Please can anybody point out any good policy, anywhere, that has been
1) formulated and
in relation to “climate change”?
Sorry, no can do :)
OK. I think your fundamental point is that , as we are in the early stages of climate change, any ‘fix’ to the problem does appear to be more trouble than it’s worth.
And, I would agree to some extent. If climate change were to stop and warming doesn’t increase, then we’ll all be OK. No problem.
But it won’t. That’s the concern.
“The Agriculture Department has begun incorporating climate change into its projections and outreach, such as encouraging no-till practices where applicable.”
”It’s cheaper to farm that way, and you still get the same type of crop, if not a bit better.”
Farmers “…are already doing exactly what efforts to combat climate change would require: precision agriculture to cut back on fossil fuel use, low or no-till farming.
Moldboard plowing is full on plowing, turning everything over. Some corn farmers are switching to low till which saves them money. More ground cover can have benefits. It’s black gold they work with. Cover can hold good things in the soil.
Does it matter? Scientists are people. Politicians are people. There have been scientists who turned to politics, there have been politicians who turned to science.
Science does not need trust. It needs facts. Unlike the vast majority of people, Nature can’t be fooled.
Do you trust Crick and Watson? Would you trust Lord Kelvin’s estimate of the age of the Earth?
Does it make the slightest difference?
Live well and prosper,
You are absolutely right that science needs facts. That is the basis of science. As has often been said, but never better than here
‘If it disagrees with experiment, it’s WRONG. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn’t make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are who made the guess, or what his name is… If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. That’s all there is to it.’
The problem is that in climatology there are few facts and a lot of theories that have never been rigorously compared with experiment.
And a huge amount relies on the idea ‘We’re climate scientists, trust us’
So the question of the true trustworthiness of climatologists is central to the discussion.
It would be central if you are going to base a policy on … trust.
‘It would be central if you are going to base a policy on … trust’
You think any policy enacted today wouldn’t be?
It’s ‘trust’ all the way through. Because there is no evidence that the models on which everything is based are any good at all. You don’t need a policy at all unless you foresee unhappy consequences. And those consequences only exist as the output of models.
@ Latimer Alder
“Climategate and the woefully inadequate response to it by senior climatologists irrevocably damaged my trust in those participating and their fellow-travellers.”
You make a very good point but also I would question the behaviour and lack of action taken by their employers, professional bodies and associations.
Imagine if a Doctor, Lawyer or an Engineer were caught behaving so unprofessionally at best they would be censured and at worst struck off.
If a denier is someone who says that the hypothesis that man made co2 emissions will not cause catastrophic global warming then it’s a badge I’m happy to wear.
If a denier is someone who says there is no such thing as climate change then where ignorance is bliss ti’s a folly to be wise.
You make some good points:
‘I would question the behaviour and lack of action taken by their employers, professional bodies and associations’.
Indeed. And it is this wilful inaction that leads me to my belief that there is something woefully wrong with the system as a whole.
The ’employers’ commissioned ‘thorough independent enquiries’ that were anything but thorough or independent. Here’s the government’s Chief Scientist to the head of one enquiry the afternoon after publication of his whitewash
‘Much appreciated the hard work put into the review, general view is a blinder played. As we discussed at HoL, clearly the drinks are on me!’
You can read the whole sordid history here
As to the professional bodies and associations they appear to have sailed by with a Nelsonian blind eye to any possible problems. I can recall no hint of disapproval from any of them.
Other professions choose to create their disciplinary bodies in part because they recognise that a few bad apples can taint the whole barrel…and that it is in their interests to weed them out. It increases the public’s confidence in the remainder.
But from the Climategaters co-workers, not a peep. Their silence tells me a lot about the ethical/professional standards that they find acceptable.
This does not increase my confidence in their work or their credibility. They have a lot of work to do to regain lost trust.
Tamsin mentions pressure from environmentlaists.
But I think the pressure from fellow (senior) scientists to stay on climate ‘message’ is far worse.
Dr Tamsin Edwards run in with Dr Peter Glieck on the name of her blog!!
@flimsin: Probable title of my new blog: allmodelsarewrong.com. (George Box quote). Main point of my job is estimating how wrong. Whaddya think?
Hydrologist Peter Gleick (Pacific Institute) was not keen…
@PeterGleick: @flimsin Title is serious error.Buys into “everything is uncertain” meme.And argument that politicians don’t hear about uncertainties is BS.
@PeterGleick: @flimsin Another comment on your proposed blog title. Look at this essay, especially item 2 on “uncertainty” and “knowns versus unknowns.”
In this essay, Donald Brown writes that the climate ‘disinformation campaign‘ is
a social movement that…consistently uses scientific uncertainty arguments as the basis of its opposition
I started to defend my position…
@flimsin: @PeterGleick I just think we shouldn’t attempt to hide or spin the fact that models are not reality. My research is in quantifying uncerts.
@PeterGleick: @flimsin Of course. Do you really think the climate debate is about scientists claiming models are reality? And do you not see the
@PeterGleick: @flimsin intentional efforts of many to overemphasize uncertainties while ignoring certainties?
@flimsin: @PeterGleick There’s more than one debate. I want to reflect the conversations inside sci community about best ways to quantify uncert.
@flimsin: @PeterGleick More of a publically-accessible blog about my own research than a blog aimed at the public.
@flimsin: @PeterGleick Of course I see it. But I also see ppl in other research areas wanting to know more about how we deal with predictive uncerts.
He pressed the point, asking what kind of people supported me:
@PeterGleick: @flimsin great idea, but title is important, and using the first half of that famous quote would, I think, be big, big, mistake.
@PeterGleick: @flimsin @ret_ward other “climate scientists” think it good idea? Most positive comments I saw weren’t from climate scientists but skeptics.
I pointed out that several climate scientists had approved, including:
read the rest:
People are forever misapplying the Box quote of “all models are wrong”. Get the original text that the quote comes from and you will see that Box is trying to say that “all computational models are wrong” because they truncate the number of digits in the solution or act as approximations to some other form.
That is the context, and the “some are useful” is intended to convey rather casually that the missing precision can be dealt with.
Empirical model-building and response surfaces
Box and Draper
See how subtle and stealthy the advocacy can get?
Webster, Wikiquote has a good list for Box.
“A man in daily muddy contact with field experiments could not be expected to have much faith in any direct assumption of independently distributed normal errors.” One of my favorites.
“Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful. ”
“Since all models are wrong the scientist cannot obtain a “correct” one by excessive elaboration. On the contrary following William of Occam he should seek an economical description of natural phenomena. Just as the ability to devise simple but evocative models is the signature of the great scientist so overelaboration and overparameterization is often the mark of mediocrity.”
captdallas 0.8 or less “Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful. ”
I want to thank you for supplying that quote. My persistent claim is that current climate models are demonstrably too inaccurate to make reasonable predictions about the climate 50 years hence. It’s not that there is vague “uncertainty”, but that several specific sources of uncertainty are large enough that even a monotonic warming in response to CO2 increase is not very secure. That warming will be catastrophically great is on even less secure ground.
Box made two assertions:
All models are approximations.
All models are wrong.
If you buy the first assertion then you have to buy the second, because of the definition of mathematical equivalence. In other words, if something is not exactly equivalent to another thing, calling it equivalent is wrong.
In some sense, it is a rather trite assertion.
Webster, however you want to rationalize Box’s quotes, models are approximations of some reality. As long as they are consistent, they can be useful but once they diverge they become less useful until at some point they are of no use at all. Then the more you tweak and fudge and make excuses for that divergence the more likely you and your model are doomed to mediocrity.
I listed another quote first, “A man in daily muddy contact with field experiments could not be expected to have much faith in any direct assumption of independently distributed normal errors.”
The models are “tuned” to fit data from an unknown “normal” starting point. The better the data acquisition becomes the worst the models perform. That is a major problem. You cannot determine “sensitivity” without knowing what “normal” is to begin with. Then the more “precision” you try to justify without knowing the accuracy, the worst things are going to get. Before long you start hunting for the noisiest data you can find to justify your theory. Kinda like you have been doing. Things can start getting pretty ugly.
This blog would be about a third as long without the unending semantic debates. Which are only necessary because one side of the debate tries so hard to obscure issues by “redefining” virtually every word.
“Useful” being an excellent example.
A Packard was useful for driving on land. It was useless for crossing the ocean.
GCM’s are useful for maintaining research budgets and providing faux data for political talking points. They are useless for predicting/projecting future temperatures sufficient to justify decarbonizing the economy.
Yes, Barry, Thanks for remembering that. I had forgotten.
The Box quote was prescient in that nonlinearity makes it a critical observation to bear in mind.
Always keep a keen eye on the thin green lines
The consensus is supposed to be about science.
Proving that it is NOT about science is easy; just place a toe on one of the thin green lines.
A) question the behavior of team climategate
b) question the wisdom of advocating policy.
c) talk with a skeptic as opposed to talking at them.
d) emphasize uncertainity
The other thing to recognize is that as the number of climate scientists engaging with the public increases, the group they form will start to spend more time on SOCIAL GROOMING, that is, as they approach the dunbar number their communications will start to be consumed by issues of group regulation and control.. they will start talking less about the science and more about each other. They are apes, they will start to pick the fleas off each other.. right now, they are picking fleas off tamsin
Steve, I like the ape analogy.
Steven Mosher said:
“The consensus is supposed to be about science.”
Precisely. A true scientist (who should be a skeptic in the broad sense of the word) should be doing everything they can to find evidence againt both what they hold to be true and what is held to be true by the consensus. This is the only way science and knowledge grow and evolve. Otherwise, science devolves into this:
Going to look for those pom poms in the closet.
I’d consider donning the skirt as well, but am concerned Willard might get too excited.
I have to say I prefer Tamsins ideas about communication of science, in response to Dr Peter Gliecks thoughts about me and who I ‘associate with’ , Tamsin replied to Peter:
:From: Tamsin Edwards
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:29 PM
To: Peter H. Gleick Cc: Barry Woods
Subject: Re: Clarification
Just a quick note.
One of the most important things I have learned in my (fairly extensive) public engagement activities is not to lump people together in a homogenous group. I repeatedly defend Barry because he works hard *not* to be Anthony Watts.
I hope you’ll consider taking each person and their views on their own merits, or lack of, in future conversations. I would personally be infuriated if I was dismissed on account of the behaviour of a group of people I talk with. Every single person I talk with has a different viewpoint, and I learn a lot about how better to communicate climate science by listening to them. If we dismiss swathes of people by association then our attempts at communication become futile: we end up only ‘preaching to the converted from an ‘ivory tower’, as it were.
Of course, if communication of climate science is not your aim, then it is your choice if you prefer to communicate with nobody!
My best wishes,
less than 24 hours later ;-) Dr Gleick phished the Heartland Institute.
Perhaps it’s just me but I see political advocacy imbedded deeply in science, especially when the topic is the envirnment or specifically the climate. The latest senate hearing is a good example. Sen Boxer just had to bring up funding sources for the “republican” speakers and Roy Spencer was asked about his views on creation in an attempt to dicredit him via character assasination. Now if this was just the politicians playing this game that would be fine but Michael Mann and others use the same tactics. I was also taken back by the responses from Trenberth and others when SB11 was published, was the paper that bad or was the paper just damaging to the political message?
The problem with advocacy is only when it is wrong, or at least goes further than a scientific respect for the facts can carry it. Nobody suggests science lost trust because Salk advocated the widespread adoption of polio vaccine, quite the opposite. Because he was clearly right.
It is those who promote anti-scientific scares in the name of “science” who are unfortunately damaging the brand they have misappropriated. Real scientists should say so.
“Nobody suggests science lost trust because Salk advocated the widespread adoption of polio vaccine, quite the opposite. Because he was clearly right”
Salk injected his wife and three sons with his vaccine.
Do ‘climate scientists’ and their families have a smaller carbon footprint than I do?
Are all climate conferences conducted by video?
Or how scientists present the evidence.
Hint to Mann: if your graph begins with proxy data on the left, make sure it ends with proxy data on the right.
Hint to Marcott: double-check your graphs. Make sure they begin and end with the same time-scale.
Hint to all climate scientists: environmental journalism has so tainted public opinion that your credibility as a scientist has an inverse relationship to the amount of press you receive.
Hint to everyone: advocacy is useful but highly toxic. Avoid repeated exposure, never use without reading the label and always dispose of properly to avoid toxic build-up.
Food not Fuel: Europe burns enough food in our cars as bio-fuels to feed over 100 million people every year. We want to end this madness. This Autumn members of the European parliament will vote on proposals to limit the amount of food burnt as bio-fuels in European cars.
So who thought it was good idea to divert the Earth’s resources in this way, Scientists of Policy Makers?
Who didn’t listen to the folks that continuously warned the populace that the earth’s crude oil was a finite and natural resource? Contrary to most people’s beliefs, the transition to biofuels is not being driven by GHG mitigation, but by the increasing scarcity of cheap conventional crude oil. Only liquid hydrocarbon fuels run the cars we own, so it doesn’t take a genius to see that rising prices in crude will lead to people searching for other options, biofuels being one of those
How did we get in this pickle?
The geophysicist King Hubbert was both a top-notch scientist (the peak oil concept of the Hubbert Curve was famously named after him) and non-stealthy policy advocate. He routinely warned people through his writings and appearances before congress in the 1950’s through the 1970’s that crude oil was one of those finite resources that we would eventually have to transition away from. Hubbert was also a leader in the technocratic movement and was also an advocate for nuclear power.
So what again are you trying to tell us Don?
“The Oil Drum is closing down after eight years, giving up the long struggle to alert us all to “peak oil” and the dangers of an energy crunch. Readers have been drifting away. The theme has gone out of fashion, eclipsed by shale and fracking in the US.”
Peak Oil, what a joke! It may have been true way back in the 1970s with the technology available then, but now……… reserves are actually increasing and we are using more than ever. In fact as new technologies develop it is much more likely we will be done with oil long before it runs out.
The Oil Drum closing down? Big whoop. More room for others to start up. They advocated oil depletion models that didn’t cut it and frowned on the oil shock models that I was pushing,
Check out the new “go to” place that I will soon be populating.
This will be an blog and knowledgebase for all sorts of environmental and climate modeling.
Shale and fracking, ala Bakken in particular, is proving to be a flash in the pan. Kind of predictable.
Tell that to the British. As I have recently noted, objective reality can be predicted with some confidence:
And who cares?
See, it is indeed a transition. Fro fossil fuel solids to liquids to gas to something else.
Here us where I have to side a bit with WEB.
So technology is helping to exploit new reserves. That doesn’t mean scarcity is a nonexistent boogie man. Only that we have chased him further down the road.
To me that means supporting research in alternative fuels is an intelligent policy. Subsidies to already developed technologies may be less so. At this point the market should be allowed to pick winners and losers.
What I do not believe in is using some other stalking horse – in this case climate change – as an argument supporting development of alternatives. I believe in nuclear power, but consider it unethical to start pushing CAGW in order to advance nuclear. At least until evidence for the C is presented.
It always has been about technological and economic substitution. It is not a problem because there are massive sources of energy available with existing at or about current oil prices. There are massive sources of carbon available. To focus on one source to the exclusion of all others leads to nonsense conclusions.
Shows again how ignorant the chief is. Carbon has no energy content, but hydrocarbons do, and those are usually the finite fossil fuels.
Trivial nonsense again webby. I mentioned both massive amounts of energy and massive amounts of carbon in the same paragraph. Fossil fuels are commonly known as carbon based energy sources.
Why do you bother with such idiotic nonsense?
Chef only depends on words and shows no evidence of being able to do a comprehensive analysis of anything. That’s why he makes so many mistakes, as he does not have a feel for the physics.
Chef should pay attention to the state of fossil fuel reserves
We are in a regime where the high costs of extraction are making the profitable recovery of oil and natural gas very marginal worldwide.
‘The International Energy Agency (IEA) is forecasting in its World Energy Outlook 2012 that the shale oil and gas boom in this country will make the United States the top oil and natural gas producer in the world. According to the IEA, the United States will become the world’s largest producer of oil by 2017 overtaking both Saudi Arabia and Russia. By 2030, North America will become a net exporter of oil and, by 2035, the United States becomes almost self-sufficient in energy.[xvi] Globally, the IEA indicates that fossil fuels will dominate the world’s energy picture as it has in the past.
America is endowed with huge quantities of fossil fuels. The responsible use of these resources has fueled our factories, furnaces, homes, highways and hospitals since their first use. Vast quantities exist in untapped forms that hold promise for generations to come. Access to these energy resources and the discovery of new technologies to safely and cleanly use them for the benefit of mankind is an ongoing challenge.’
A transition to low carbon energy sources will be driven by technology and not scarcity.
Dr. Ruud Weijermars is – btw – concerned with improving the economics of ‘unconventional gas’.
Again your shallow and superficial so called analysis is really just embarrassingly naïve.
Because the Chef thinks everything revolves around the USA, of course he has a weird viewpoint.
Here is more discussion on shale plays in the USA.
Continue on with your cornucopian comments Chef. Reality is the data.
Sorry, should have linked this to an Action Aid article: actionaid.org.uk/foodnot fuel
Isotope chemist Clair Patterson was an example of a brilliant scientist who was also an effective environmental campaigner – but not simultaneously. Having accurately answered the question ‘How old is the earth’ with his application of the lead-lead isochron technique to meteorites and ocean sediments **, Patterson more or less retired from pure science to join the clean air movement which succeeded in banning lead (a metal about which he certainly knew more than most scientists, having had to adopt extreme measures to keep his lab free of contamination) from auto fuel and paint.
I am glad to see that Dr Edwards has wisely chosen to concentrate her efforts on one thing at a time.
** Patterson, C. (1956), “Age of meteorites and the Earth”, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 10 (4): 230–237
“Hide the Decline”; Climategate; the ridiculous handwaving concerning the “Pause”, the official view of which has metamorphosed from “what Pause” to “ah, *that* pause! Ah, yes,well… we’ve known all along that there would be a couple of decadal pauses every century, but we didn’t think it necessary to tell anyone”; the utter failure of the climate models.this quote from Roger Harrabin: ‘I remember Lord May leaning over and assuring me: “I am the President of the Royal Society, and I am telling you the debate on climate change is over.”‘
That’s just a small sample of the disingenuous – some unkind commenters would describe them as downright mendacious – activities leading to the credibility problems with which the Warmists have saddled themselves, so when it comes to advocating policies that are going to double or triple our energy bills (and make the likes of Al Gore a LOT of money), well…
Good luck re-establishing trust in the climate science community after that lot.
“Committed to reason, evidence, and open inquiry, she is willing to examine legitimate points the climate skeptics may be making — as well as the evidence and arguments from mainstream climate science”
That is good advice. I would add – remember the UN’s.IPCC was not set up as a scientific research organisation, although they do employ distinguished scientists..
Dear Dr Edwards
Thank you for your mature approach and also Dr Curry for posting this and her other posts.
I wish to make some points which hopefully do not offend as they are not intended to.
The problem I think with Climate Scientist’s (whatever that means) is they seem to forget that there are literally millions of people with Applied and Pure science degrees who are not in academia. Reasearch scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers and many others who may not all be expert in a scientific field but they are capable of assimilating facts and understanding the scientific method. This of course also applies to large swathes of the general public who have studied other subjects or are self taught.
I think it is about time that those fighting for the Cause including my mates in the Hockey Team realised this.
When I hear statements from activists that the message is not getting across and the public do not understand, of course that is arrogant nonsense and their problem indubitiitably is the message is wrong and the public understand this completely.
(Please accept my apologies for there not being enough uncertainty in the above :-) )
It looks like you have ‘arrived’ :o) … lots of people telling you what you should be. One way or another they’ve got an agenda and are glumming on, looking for support, etc…..all very natural. Enjoy the science and fie on them.
You last paragraph says more than enough.
So, in my own field.
I know that the number of diagnosed cases of Autism spectrum have increased in the developed world over the last three decades.
I believe that in many cases there is an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction.
I suspect that the interaction between compounds in the environmental that disrupt mitochondrial function or expression levels, coupled to a genetic background of mild mitochondriopathy, during key stages of brain development, are responsible for the increased levels of ASD.
I suggest that during the in utero and early post-utero periods exposure to known mitochondrial toxins is minimized. This includes the use of thimerosal as a vaccine preservative agent, such as its use in Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine.
When one mixes I know/I believe and I suspect into one, the trouble starts. Let me demonstrate what not to do:-
I know that the number of diagnosed cases of Autism spectrum have increased in the developed world over the last three decades.
I know that during this same time period there has been a decline in children born with neural tube defects, like spina bifida.
I know that the drop in neural tube defects is due to the provision of ubiquitous folic acid supplementation in the diets of women in the developed world.
I know that folate supplementation affects the levels of DNA methylation and affects gene expression rates.
I know that the levels of folate in pregnant women are higher now than they have been in the whole of human history..
I know that correlation is causality.
I demand that folate supplementation of foods is suspended and we stop this powerful teratogen from causing Autism.
Such a chain is dangerous on many levels. Stopping folate supplementation would lead to an increase in neural tube defects, a very bad outcome. Frightening people about CO2 leads to economic uncertainty, fuel poverty and misallocation of resources.
What do you theorize would be the reduction in autism rates from following your suggestion?
I do not know, hence it was a suggestion, as in advice to policy makers.
It is obvious that thimerosal isn’t the major cause of the rising number of ASD diagnoses, but isolating a cause of a multi-factorial disease is very difficult. In some cases, including one legally defined cases, thimerosal appears to have been a causative agent. However, we have cases of ASD where children were not vaccinated and have very low mercury levels.
However, the economic costs of switching from thimerosal to some other preservative are trivial and the human and economic costs of ASD are very high. Thus, it is my ‘opinion‘ that the potential danger is far greater than the potential harm, in relation to the societal cost.
Moreover, removal of organomercury from the vaccination route will allow researchers to monitor the levels of environmental organomercury (mostly from burning coal) in new-borns, prior to the onset of symptoms of ASD.
Hopefully, Judith won’t get upset with you for being an advocate.
So, based on your expert analysis of the probabilities, you invoke the precautionary principle. Despite uncertainty w/r/t the cause-and-effect mechanism, and the scale if the effect, you recommend a course of action based on your opinion. You lack validated data to confirm your speculation, and thus you can’t really quantify a cost/benefit ratio, but feel that the magnitude of the potential harm justifies some action.
How meaningful would it be to suggest that: (1) if your analysis leads you to an opinion such as that you expressed, you could somehow disassociate your further research on this subject from that opinion or that, (2) even if you could do that (which I doubt), you should not seek to influence policy makers based on your expert opinion on how to save people from developing ASD?
Now that we’ve discussed the problems associated with selectively advocating that experts shouldn’t be advocates, let’s move on to the problems with selective invoking of the law of unintended consequences.
“I know that the number of diagnosed cases of Autism spectrum have increased in the developed world over the last three decades.” – Doc
Even your “I know” is a bit flawed.
Are there more cases of Autism or is it just more readily diagnosed now?
Please, Michael. Tread lightly.
Michael, my “I know” isn’t flawed.
That the number of cases diagnosed is increasing is a fact.
Whether this reflects a change in the numbers of suffers or is due to a change in diagnosis criteria is a quite different issue.
For myself I believe that between the 80’s and 00’s is due to a change in both diagnosis criteria and increase in ASD cases. I base this on the fact that although parents would prefer to have their child diagnosed with a disease, rather than being told the child was just on one side of the human personality/intelligence/sociability normal curve the sex ratio of 15 female to 85 male sufferers is pretty robust over the last three decades; I do not believe that parents will not attempt to get a ASD diagnosis for their daughters with less vigor than for their sons.
However, this is a matter of opinion, with some statistical support (if you believe the logic chain) and not a fact.
The difference between to know and believe is critical in science and in the courtroom;
I know that is the man who fired the gun.
I know that the man who fired the gun was the same color, size and build as the defendant, but I only had a quick glance and was very frightened at the time..
To know does not mean the same in science and in courtrooms, Doc.
Thimerosal was banned in California and autism diagnoses continued increasing. Maybe it’s something as simple as strangers poking babies with needles causes some sort of traumatic stress disorder that manifests in more susceptable individuals as autistic characters.
Michael, please cease your never ending audit of the Doc.
since no claim is free from question or challenge and since no approach is perfect, you should accept what the Doc says and not bother yourself with auditing his claims.
Oh please, let’s do have a thread of about 30 or 40 comments on the burning issue of the meaning of the word know.
An admission that scientific claims and courtroom evidence are two different beasts would suffice.
“That the number of cases diagnosed is increasing is a fact.
Whether this reflects a change in the numbers of suffers or is due to a change in diagnosis criteria is a quite different issue.” – Doc
Yeah, that’s what I said.
There was a change to the diagnostic criteria in 2000, and the numbers have increased significantly since then.
Most of the increase can be explained by a combination of increased awareness, increased willingness to make the diagnosis (late diagnosis has added to this) and the significicant broadening of the classifiction.
There may be some real increase in incidence, but it’s unlikely to be anything like what the raw numbers are suggesting.
+1 or more.
I know that fossil fuels are a finite and non-renewable resource and that other energy sources will be needed to eventually take its place.
This makes policy discussion of climate change mitigation and the uncertainty aspects somewhat moot. Invoke the No Regrets policy here if you have any lingering doubts of moving off of fossil fuels.
Wow, put it this way and it hardly seems like advocacy at all. It is a pre-ordained path that we were destined to follow ever since the first coal was mined and the first oil well was drilled.
I KNOW that fossil fuels are renewable. The crux is that the rate of human consumption appears to exceed the rate of natural renewal at least for those fossil fuels easiest to harvest and refine.
What I don’t KNOW is whether recovery and refinement technology will improve at a rate that keeps energy cost somewhere near level. No one knows but history suggests market forces will, with some lag, continue to successfully drive technological innovation.
At some point the earth just isn’t big enough and we either stagnate or we start building a Dyson sphere or something of that nature. Market forces might drive that too. Maybe I have too much faith in applied science and engineering. That’s the major problem with the warmists. I am confident that humans can engineer their way out of anything with the possible exception of the heat death of the universe in a few trilion years but that’s a lot of time to think on it.
Web, in 1900 you would know that the major limitation on the size of a city was the inability to remove all the horse manure from the city streets. As the city expands in size, the distance required to haul the horse manure way increases and so does the amount of horse drawn wagons required to haul the waste.
You again imo frame the issue incorrectly.
You wrote “I know that fossil fuels are a finite and non-renewable resource and that other energy sources will be needed to eventually take its place.”
The fact is the fuel or energy that humans currently get from fossil fuels are renewable and it is an issue of cost and technology that impacts the use of that fuel or energy from other than fossil fuels. The potential of genetically engineered petrochemicals being produced in a cost effective manner as a replacement for fossil fuel is not remote. It seems to be an issue of when and not if.
The dude Starkey said that “fossil fuels are renewable”.
Another one of those 3% types.
I see what happened. Ringo Starkey saw SpringyBoy’s comment and knowing that SpringyBoy was a genius, echoed his assertion that “fossil fuels are renewable”.
Legislation will now have to passed saying solar power can only be describd as “renewable as in we don’t have to weight thousands of years energy” to avoid misinterpretation by the 3%.
Webby shows he does not read very well and as a byproduct is wrong again
Is our Sun renewable?
so those new energy source technologies will not add extra CO2.
This means that Starkey is a climate change mitigation advocate after all.
See what happens when you frame it as a finite fossil fuel issue?
The advocacy becomes automatic.
It is not necessary that new fuels will be carbon neutral anytime in the near future. There is a lot of carbon lying around in the meantime. In this sense peak liquid fuels is a deluded distraction.
The Chief is ignorant of the increasing price of fuel. He is ignorant because he dismisses the general topic of fossil fuel depletion as a “deluded distraction”.
The history of fuel is the history of technological or economic substitution.
There are mountains, valleys and seas full of fossil fuels. It is delusional to focus on oil and not on energy in a bigger picture. Fossil fuels are not going away because of scarcity.
If we want to be carbon free – it needs to be cheaper than carbon based energy.
> Frightening people about CO2 leads to economic uncertainty, […]
Where’s the modality to that complex claim?
Stealth advocacy, I say.
Trust in climate science has been damaged. Collateral damage in other disciplines is debatable. The problem is climate science is not an experimental science and the practioners largely delude themselves into thinking they can make it an experimental science by experimenting with toy computer models in place of reality.
I personally haven’t lost trust in computer science just because it’s been misused for ideological or financial agendas by climate alarmists. I suppose maybe some of the general public, and certainly characters like Keven Trenberth, might blame the computer instead of the people who constructed the model and thus lose trust in computers in general.
The impact of ‘Climategate’ on public views of ‘climate scientists’ was investigated by
Anthony A. Leiserowitz, Edward W. Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf, Nicholas Smith, Erica Dawson
“Climategate, Public Opinion, and the Loss of Trust”
American Behavioral Scientist (2012).
“The respondents were then asked: “Have these stories about the controversial emails caused you to have more or less trust in climate scientists?” Over half (53%) said that the stories had caused them to have much less (29%) or somewhat less (24%) trust in scientists, while 43 percent said it had not affected their level of trust.
Five percent said they had more trust in scientists as a result of the news stories”
Is this a bait and switch of some kind? The question is about climate scientists in particular and the answer is stated as scientists without the climate qualifier. That’s ambiguous at best with regard to trust in non-climate scientists. Personally I think it demonstrates that scientists tend to be trusting, to the point of child-like naivety, of their peers in other disciplines. The usual suspects thus enjoyed, at least for a time, a knee-jerk or tribal kind of support especially inside the academy.
Somewhere, I recall seeing that John Kerry stated that climategate was the end of cap and trade on the ‘hill’. This is arguably more significant from a policy perspective than broad public perception
Actually I think he blamed talk radio’s “promotion” of climategate, which is a bit different.
Joshua will be along any second to start a never ending audit of your evidence. You can defend the paper by arguing that
no approach is contrarian proof, therefore the paper is acceptable.
Let’s play that game some more:
So, for the most part, those who most strongly say they lost trust because of climategate were those already inclined to not trust what climate scientists were saying. And how is the effect they measured validated? Is it validated by people who are already inclined to be in opposition to the policy implications of the work of climate scientists saying that Climategate lessened their trust? That’s awfully weak. No data that somehow measure the outcome other than by self-report in a context that is obviously vulnerable to self-report biases,and only limited longitudinal data (the only longitudinal data were on opinions about climate change, not trust in scientists or reactions to Climategate)?
And if the effect were really significant, wouldn’t it be measurable in the time since that analysis was conducted? Wouldn’t we see a “step-change” in public opinion about climate scientists, or scientists in general, concurrent with Climategate? Is that what the data on public opinion (about climate scientists, or climate change, or trust in scientists) show, or do the data on public opinion about climate change suggest multiple influences? If the influences are multiple, then how do is the impact of Climategate isolated so as to justify the confidence of the many who are so absolutely certain that it is undermined trust in the science, or as Judith has stated, caused a “crisis” in climate science?
Is it just me or is advocating for non-advocacy anything like the proverbial liberal who won’t tolerate intolerance?
You guys slay me sometimes.
If I were peter webster and had some way of organizing a panel discussion at this years AGU the topic would be
Talking to skeptics:
Moderator: Keith Kloor
Panel: Tamsin, Judith, Lucia,
and one would need to add a few examples of folks who talk at skeptics
using different approaches: Tobias, Tamino, Romm, Laden, Mann
I like the optics of that panel..
Talking at Skeptics; talking with Skeptics
Moderator; Keith Kloor
Panel: Judith Tamsin Lucia, tobias, tamino, Laden
Taking another tack on the question of advocacy by scientists, let’s consider their qualifications as advocates. With few exceptions, climate scientists appear to have little or no qualifications to judge the policies they advocate. That is demonstrated by their focus on a single problem – single solution model of action: warming world is bad – must curb CO2 production. This naive model of problem and solution is a common way for clients to provide project parameters to engineers. We are used to it. Client often tells us how they want a problem solved and we figure out what their actual problem is from that. It is kind of backwards but it is reality.
The difficulty I see in climate change is that the projected impacts are not monolithic. Those impacts cover a very wide range. Some are even beneficial and, from a societal perspective, most are negligible on a human time scale.
That word “negligible” probably raises the hackles on some folks. However, from an engineering perspective, it is true. The key factor in that judgement is the expected useful life of any infrastructure that might be impacted by projected changes. If a structure has a useful life of 20 or even 50 years before it is torn down and replaced, will it matter if sea level rises a foot or two while it is use? Likely not. When it is replaced, it will be built up slope from the old location. Roads, homes, and other parts of the human civilization all have that same life span calculation. Agriculture? Similar kinds of time span issues are seen.
Additionally, there is the factor of non-anthropogenic climate change problems. Storms, droughts, floods, volcanoes, and all kinds of serious stuff has always happened and will continue to happen. Projected climate impacts from anthropogenic CO2 production are merely a small increment in the severity of what is expected without it. Yep, small. Read your history books if you don’t believe that. Most of the projected costs currently identified for anthropogenic climate change go away when normal non-climate change societal processes are considered and removed.
As for those poor folks in developing country, their problem is they are poor, not that there may be a climate shift their children or grand children might notice. Infrastructure in those undeveloped areas are typically even more transient and movable than in developed areas. It takes economic development to produce infrastructure resilience. Economic development requires inexpensive energy.
So, are climate scientists qualified to advocate for a solution to the problem they predict? Not from what I see written by them.
This is what I commented on James’ Empty Blog.
This is an interesting discussion. I think Edwards hits a nerve here and I believe what she says is true. Advocacy has damaged the credibility of climate science. i’ve been saying that here for a while and its patently obvious. Just as when a medical professional starts advocating political action or appears on TV marketing a procedure or medication that he himself sells or performs, he loses some of his reputation for objectivity. Everyone makes their own choices, so no one has to give up any democratic rights. Its just the observation that noone can be all things to all men as St. Paul wanted to be. You must make choices and choices have consequences.
I also think Edwards hit the nail on the head describing the pressure by hangers on to advocate specific things. Once again, I’ve said that here and gotten flack for pointing it out. It is transparently obvious. The polarization created by patently political advocates on climate is a symptom of our increasingly dysfunctional politics where everything is spin and “framing.” Gavin on Stoat on reproducibility of large computation said that he largely agreed with W’s framing of the issue. What is this nonsense? We are supposed to be doing science or some such thing, there is truth and untruth. What is this “framing.” It’s the political context “communicators” give to every statement. This is seriously destructive, because statements are judged not by the truth or evidence standard, but by whether they support the “message.” Quite franky, I’ve been disappointed by Schmidt. His public debate preformances have been rather pathetic and he has been bested by his opponents. I also think his superior tone and style of correcting every sentence of comments at Real Climate he disagrees with right in line is exactly like St. Thomas’s style in Summa Contra Gentiles. St. Thomas knows it all and proves it all with equal certainty from the most trivial question to the nature of God and the universe. And of course St Thomas is very honest about what he is doing. Reason cannot be the starting point here. Faith is the starting point and reason then naturally seeks out what reasons it can find for that faith. The whole ex cathedral nature of Real Climate is very offensive and pseudo-theological. And of course, the most vile insults are allowed from those who support the party line. I believe that this is part of the problem. It’s transparentlly political and biased. A fairer way is to let someone state their case uninterrupted and then respond in a separate comment.
So, I applaud Edwards efforts and I thank her for being honest about the whole unhealthy atmosphere of political pressure surrounding climate science.
As to the “other side of the pond” I surprisinglly agree with you James on this. The British have a history of sharp but generally polite debate whereas in America, the language is much cruder and sometimes the personal nastiness is also much worse. Of course, political radicalism is I think more mainstream in Britain than in America.
Heh. Patently obvious.
Where are your data? Where is your evidence?
You assert that something is “patently obvious” without any validated analysis?
This is what you call skepticism? This is what you call scientific? How do you show that what you call “patently obvious” is nothing other than a projection of your own opinions?
This complaint you repeat endlessly Joshua. It is as if logic, experience, pattern recognition and communication mean nothing unless there is a poll saying that 85% of people find science less reliable because of the exaggerations of climate advocates.
Logic suggests that a claim – made ostensibly with the culturally powerful authority of science – that is less than authoritative undermines the authority of science. This is an idea worth exploring in the context of the sociology of climate science.
Oh so tiresome.
Take a moment, wipe the sweat from your eyes and observe that the horse is dead. It is beyond feeling.
You wont see anyone address the pressure exerted on individuals to conform
What’s interesting about James’ is that you get the Stoat types there who illustrate the disfunction of the debate as well as rational people and scientists. So, its a mixed bag and of course you can get the Webby types too, who are just superficial but insulting and degrading.
Of course you get Stoat types (smart witty sarcastic) at Annan’s blog. I think you will eventually learn Annan is a Stoat type.
Do you think this is Connelly on Annan’s paper?
William (yes its me) said…
Oh dear. This brings back memories (I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again…) of my paper in JPO (actually just a short note) on a technical matter of sea ice dynamics. One ref said “this is obvious; we all know that”. The other said “this is wrong”. Fortunately I was able to persuade the editor that this mean it was worth printing. But then there was no great politics riding on it.
Now James is being attacked for telling people the truth in simple language.
What James hs written is clearly and obviously publishable, and is far superior to a large amount of stuff in GRL, and would be of wide interest. Its not being published because it embarrasses some people; and probably for political reasons too.
Not a good day for scientific publishing.
I know James reads Stoat. He comments there. I believe his blog is fundamentally more honest than Stoat, where nastiness is confused with intelligence, and “framing” with truth. I could be wrong, but I think you will see in James a growing courage to contradict the IPCC and his fellow scientists. That is good in a field dominated by slanderous and nasty dialogue.
“In your case webby it is called being a simple minded and abusive evangelist. ”
“And no I don’t agree. I think you are an idiot.”
“Oh webby you are an utter twit”:
Plenty more where that came from… gotta run (need to turn off the power in my house to do some work)…. maybe I’ll continue later?
That is, I think, Connelly’s opinion prior to the Annan paper being published: the one that cut off the high end of the sensitivity range. The one that took on the IPCC. It pretty much destroys your argument. He’s saying Annan’s paper should be published, is true, and that it was not being published because it embarrassed some people (important IPCC authors).
The only real substantive difference I can see between Annan and Connelly is Connelly is no longer a practicing climate scientist. The superficial differences are superficial.
‘In your case webby it is called being a simple minded and abusive evangelist. Now if you want to explain to Phillip that it is simple radiative physics and not just combustion – knock yourself out. But that’s not your style is it?’
You should quote in context Joshua. Webby is of course ultimately mostly abuse and insults along with climate trivia pursued with evangelical intensity. There is no real incentive to be anything but blunt.
Am I getting paranoid? These types seem to follow me around for some odd reason. You included obviously.
I agree that the Chief is paranoid. For once the Chief gets something right, and it so happens to be in terms of a self-diagnosis.
And sometimes when we touch
The irony’s too much
H/T DAN HILL
Yea, JCH, I’m not sure about differences between Annan and Stoat. The main differences I’ve seen.
1. Stoat is intolerant of technical comments that contradict his messaging. Annan is not and seems to like honest and open debate. In this regard Stoat mirrors Real Climate but without the actual publication record.
2. Stoat is well known to be a leftist and he frankly lets that filter his science views. I don’t find that to be true of Annan.
3. James has a sense of humor and is open to friendly exchanges. I’ve never met W (the handle he uses for his Thomist phrase by phrase in line refutations of heresy) and he may be friendly. But he is not very open to new and interesting points of view, especially on climate science where he seems to regard himself as the ex cathedra authority.
These may seem like minor differences, but they are important differences. They are the differences between an honest and an authoritarian personality.
You’re simply wrong, and clinically ironic.
If you know them personally, you could say I’m wrong. All I see is the public face and there is a difference.
WebHubTelescope (@WHUT) said: ”I agree that the Chief is paranoid”
Yes but, apart of the chief being an paranoid bigot; he is a good boy….
There is nothing wrong with scientists advocy, so long as it is distinct. The relative expertise can then be discounted. But there is something very wrong when the advocacy includes ( at least in part) distortion, deliberate misrepresentation, or even outright corruption of the science, including its ‘certainty’. The fundamental problem with climate science is that much of the advocacy provably involved corrupting the science. Hide the decline is just the tip of that iceberg. The dissection of AR4 in Arts of Truth better shows how profoundly this has happened. Ceasing advocacy is not IMO a solution to deservedly lost credibility concerning the underlying science itself.
Rud, I agree that ceasing advocacy will not in itself fix the problems with the science. I would argue however, that the ceaseless advocacy, pressure on scientists, and politization has affected the quality of the science. The constant pressure I believe leads responsible scientists to engage in self-censorship especially if they are young. In some cases, I believe they try to curry favor with the leaders of the field, or at least to avoid unpleasant encounters with the likes of Trenberth, Schmidt, or Mann who can be slanderous and nasty if you cross them.
More claims w/o any actual evidence?
You believe that responsible scientists “curry favor” rather than practice responsible science? What % do you think act in such a way?
And notice that you only look at the pressure from advocacy from one side of the issue. You, yourself are an advocate – yet you decry the advocacy of others. Why? Because if someone agrees with your perspective on the science, advocacy is OK, but if they disagree with your perspective on the science advocacy is not OK?
You seem to like Chief’s input. Yet he is a stone-cold advocate. His input on the science is deeply infused with political advocacy. For some reason, your concern about advocacy just evaporates in that case, eh? Interesting, isn’t it? I guess it must just be coincidence.
Josh, You are remarkably dense on this point. Tamsin’s post has all the evidence you need on this subject. You can find a lot more on James’ blog where the sarcastic party line faithful take Jules to task for the slightest slip that might be interpreted as deviating from the party line. Grow up. Those of us who have been around a long time and have our own professional careers understand this stuff a lot better than you do.
I gave you 2 lines of evidence.
I like Chief’s posts because they are interesting and teach me something about science and math. Chief has a point of view. But he is an independent person who makes up his own mind.
Your “evidence” is nothing other than your opinion. It isn’t validated or approached in a scientific or empirical manner in the least.
It is ironic, though, that as you decry the advocacy science of others, you are impervious to your own biases.,
Here’s evidence for you, David. If you don’t think it’s evidence of your selectivity, and how advocacy biases your outlook – so be it.
‘Joshua | August 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
Your “evidence” is nothing other than your opinion. It isn’t validated or approached in a scientific or empirical manner in the least.”
Joshua he gave you more than his opinion. Your motivated reasoning prevents you from seeing any evidence that runs counter to your view of things.
You need to address the real issue. Tamsin reports tribal pressure for her to advocate. If you want to call her a liar, come out an do it.
Oh Josh, its true that I’ve let myself get drawn into some back and forth with Webby, who is pretty nasty and shallow. I’ve decided to try to turn over a new leaf on Webby. Chief can handle him.
If you respond to my actual point, namely that Tamsin’s post and the emails contain ample evidence for what I’m saying, then I’ll talk to you.
I don’t doubt that Tamsin has been subjected to pressure to be more of an advocate for a particular policy perspective.
What that does not show, in any substantiated way, the larger outcome associated with her anecdotal experience.
I don’t doubt that there is a larger phenomenon of the type that Tamsin has described, either. Yes, there is evidence of such.
What we don’t see validated evidence of is: (1) the larger effect such as that David described with absolute confidence and certainty, (2) as a subset of that, evidence of the influence of any such pressure in the context of any number or other influences, (3) as another subset, any validated evidence of what % of “responsible scientists” alter their science because of caving to such pressure and finally, (4) the larger impact of such pressure on public opinion – again, an impact that many describe with absolute certainty yet with no substantiating or validated evidence.
What we find is a bag full ‘o argument by assertion and speculation that is confused for well-subsantiated arguments, which is ironically cloaked under a mantle of “skepticism.” These are anecdotal descriptions, related by advocates that are heavily invested in the debate (not referring to Tamsin there, but to David).
Exactly what am I an advocate for? Josh, with respect I don’t think you understand the science behind the GCM debate. I have no interest in this debate other than a desire to see science do a better job based on my personal experience in my earlier life of what some of the problems can be.
What that does not show, in any substantiated way, the larger outcome associated with her anecdotal experience.
1. how many scientists would it take before you accept that this evidence
is not anecdotal. In fact, you can reject every personal account
of this kind of pressure as anecdotal. That is your bias. You neglect
to acknowledge that we see the same thing in the climategate mails.
you neglect to recognize what leaders like Oppenheimer have argued
on this point. You neglect to understand the backlash Tamsin has
gotten for even telling her story of being pressured.In short, it is ok
to promote advocacy, but it is not ok to advocate staying above the
2. My experience with you is that you are not open to ANY evidence about any larger outcomes. You cant even describe what that evidence would look like, but when you see it, you know to deny it whatever it is.
What we don’t see validated evidence of is: (1) the larger effect such as that David described with absolute confidence and certainty, (2) as a subset of that, evidence of the influence of any such pressure in the context of any number or other influences, (3) as another subset, any validated evidence of what % of “responsible scientists” alter their science because of caving to such pressure and finally, (4) the larger impact of such pressure on public opinion – again, an impact that many describe with absolute certainty yet with no substantiating or validated evidence.
All of this misses the point. Your argument amounts to this. Unless people can prove to you that there is an effect, then its perfectly acceptable for the institutions of science to pressure scientists to advocate for specific policies. In short, like the skeptics who demand that we prove harm to environment, you are demanding that tamsin prove harm. Well, she cant prove harm. not to you. If we showed
a case where editors were pressured, youd say well thats a small case.
If we showed 5% of scientists influenced, youd say that wasnt bad,
or you’d question the study, or wave the motivated reasoning flag.
In short no evidence will work with you.
What we find is a bag full ‘o argument by assertion and speculation that is confused for well-subsantiated arguments, which is ironically cloaked under a mantle of “skepticism.” These are anecdotal descriptions, related by advocates that are heavily invested in the debate (not referring to Tamsin there, but to David).
All evidence of institutional pressure on individuals is anecdotal.
I heard some guy the other week say he was profiled by the police.
In your universe it is acceptable for scientists to advocate as long as they are not advocating keeping their mouths shut about specific policies. If they want to argue that advocating specific polices is a good thing, you require no evidence from them. When the advocate avoiding making policy comments, you demand to see the evidence of harm
and when that harm is personal, well, its just a anecdote.
As is often the case, it is difficult to know where to begin in outlining the differences between what I’ve argued and how you have characterized my arguments – because the differences are almost categorical.
Let’s start here (randomly, not because it is a starting point):
No. I am arguing that unless people can prove an effect, they shouldn’t argue that an effect is proven.
I have never said anything about “perfectly acceptable,.” I am saying that the argument that the existence of such invalidates science – particularly when the existence of such is not quantified, measured against other influences, etc. – is fallacious.
I don’t doubt that such pressure exists. It is inevitable, and so yes, of course, we have evidence of such.
I am arguing, further, that the distinctions that people are making about what is or isn’t advocacy are arbitrary – not in the sense of being random, but in the sense of not being based on objective or validated logic. Is Tamsin not an advocate by arguing that scientists shouldn’t he an advocate? Is Judith not an advocate when she blogs in criticism of specific policy advocacy but directly supports other policy advocacy?
Define your terms, with a scientific approach.
As for my opinion – advocacy can have benefits and costs. This should be obvious. One of the costs, obviously, is when advocacy corrupts science. The way to combat that problem is not by facile arguments against advocacy per se – which is obviously rooted in selective reasoning (“me and those who agree with me aren’t advocates, those who disagree with me are) – but by addressing the flawed science, directly.
I applaud both Tamsin and Judith for arguing – indeed, advocating – that uncertainty should be in the forefront of scientific analysis. That is good advocacy, IMO, because it is consistent with good science. The criterion to use in evaluating advocacy should be the quality of the associated science.
Since you rarely respond in good fail, I’ll leave that there. If you choose to respond here in good faith, I’ll explain to you how the rest of your response is also based on fantasies about what I argue rather than the reality of what I argue.
I of course advocate such dastardly things as energy innovation and social and development objectives such as education, health, safe water and sanitation, free trade and restoration of ecosystems and agricultural soils.
I have decades of background in hydrology and environmental science. I have no incentive to distort this science. Climate is a coupled nonlinear system sensitively dependent on small changes in control variables. The practical and pragmatic responses remain the same.
Josh is determined to show he’s remarkably dense on a number of points.
Ah – I lied. I made the mistake of reading your mis-characterizations of what I said. Makes it difficult to not respond:
Heh. You don’t inhabit my universe, steven. Stop fantasizing that you do. If you’re interested, I’ll tall you. Trying to read into the “window of my soul” now will be more more successful than you have been when claiming to so in the past.
I have no problem with scientists advocating that people should keep their mouths shut about specific policies.
I am critiquing the general argument that doing so is not advocacy. I am, further, critiquing specific arguments that specific advocacy is not advocacy – such as the argument that advocating the people keep their mouths shut about specific policies is not advocacy, and in particular in an already highly politicized and polarized context where basically any kind of statement is, effectively, a form of advocacy.
I am critiquing the general argument that advocacy from scientists necessarily produces more costs than benefits. Maybe it does… where is the validated argument that substantiates that view? Have you seen it made?
I am critiquing the specific argument that scientists advocating for policy so produces a specific effect (a loss of trust in science), when that argument is not validated by evidence. Does it produce some effect? No doubt. What effects does it produce? What are the magnitude of the effects? How are those effects measured? How are the quantified against other effects, to determine their relative impact?
Scientists should advocate good scientific practices. I don’t think that anyone disagrees with that as long as they don’t present any too restrictive definition of such practices.
You should not equate advocacy related to issues directly linked with doing or presenting science with policy or political advocacy.
I think that the distinctions that you draw there are inherently “wicked,” and that people who claim that such distinctions are clear are often biased by their own policy orientation. Once again from my observation the logic goes something like this: “Me, and those who I agree with on policy are not advocates, and those that I disagree with on policy are advocates.”
The distinction in some pure or categorical fashion does not exist, IMO. We are all subject to bias. We all react differently to different policy orientation. Some level of policy advocacy is reflected in all science in such a politicized arena. The standard of expecting science to be as free from bias as possible is admirable – but it should not be applied selectively.
I see the situation quite differently. Somewhat vaguely I could formulate my view saying that you seem to equate advocacy with meta-advocacy. They are not the same thing.
> Scientists should advocate good scientific practices.
Indeed, but there is gap with good enough practices and the very best practices humanely possible. And there’s a difference between layout out these practices post hoc, ad hoc, or else.
Suppose a scientist S asks for the very best possible practices humanely possible before we enact policy P. Do you think S is only advocating good scientific practices? Some might believe he’s also advocating against P.
Let’s rewrite that first paragraph:
> Indeed, but there is gap between good enough practices and the very best practices humanely possible. And there’s a difference between layout out best practices post hoc, ad hoc, or else.
By “good enough”, I alluding both to this:
and this researcher:
The first concept can lead to a research programme whereby people who want to have the very best practices enforced could simply pay for it. The second concept shows that there’s a cognitive style attached to such desiderata.
I could also mention, while I am here, that scientists vote with their citations. What becomes worthless gets forgotten. There’s so much to do and so little time to dedicate ourselves to whine about crap. (Hi, Richard.) The only way I could envision such best practices enforcement to lift off would be to make it mandatory for pedagogical purposes.
I remember the maps of the Holy Land. Coloured they were. Very pretty. The Dead Sea was pale blue. The very look of it made me thirsty. That’s where we’ll go, I used to say, that’s where we’ll go for our honeymoon. We’ll swim. We’ll be happy.
” You don’t inhabit my universe”
Er, yes you do. All humans live in small, self constructed universes rather than in the real thing.
The information that you get through your eye and you believe is an image of the world is a fiction, most of the image is ‘filled’ in, and is updated much more slowly than center field.
Our brains are great at fictions that save computing time, we even have a full character set of stereotypes we can pour strangers into.
Would have thought someone would have noticed that the speed of light was finite before Rømer.
If light behaved like small rubber balls light falling on a moving object would pick up velocity from the collision; thus the image of a speeding object would arrive before the object. This is so obvious, but no one twinged it until about 350 years ago. Newton played with the speed of sound, but never thought about light speed and its none additive character until Rømer.
We often ignore the completely obvious as normal, socialization works the same way. If all the people around you think like in a particular way, very few individuals wish to stand out.
If you are surrounded by knit-your-own-sandals, grow you own yogurt, namby-pamby, NYT’s reading, NPR listening, progressives, then unless you have iron will, critical thinking and intelligence, you will end up sounding like you.
What causes someone to sound like you, Doc?
Doc, “Er, yes you do. All humans live in small, self constructed universes rather than in the real thing.”
Wouldn’t it be fun to have BartR move his universe next to Joshua for a few years? If that works out we could save a ton of money by making UNtopia a virtual universe where bacon is considered a vegetable and only unicorns fart.
> If you are surrounded by knit-your-own-sandals, grow you own yogurt, namby-pamby, NYT’s reading, NPR listening, progressives, then unless you have iron will, critical thinking and intelligence, you will end up sounding like you.
By chance eating meat, raw, with your bare hands, the ones you used to kill your game, and Chuck Norris’ side kicks to protect your meal from others, in a stateless state to be you.
Progressive policy advocacy at its finest.
“The funeral home was eventually forced to call the police when picketers allegedly disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. The officer asked the Teamsters to leave, but protesters returned when he drove away.
‘We will be here for the visitation; we will be here for your funeral,’ Teamster driver Lester Plewa allegedly shouted into a bullhorn as a funeral director met with a dying man planning his arrangements with family members.”
“SEIU Employee: He seems to think . . . my point is, my point is the people who are responsible for making that $1 McDouble, I want them to know that I’m on their side, rather than on the company’s side. I want, like, food purity.
SEIU Employee: If they’re pissed off at their employer they could be doing something to that food that’s not good for you.”
Laughing at a dead child, contaminating the food of others – so what’s a little Stephen Schneider-style dishonest, postmodern science/advocacy?
Just doing honest science and reporting it honestly is all you should do. Unfortunately there are projects that got started because of lobbying that always involves advocacy. Once you get working on it there is pressure on you to produce results that were promised in the lobbying phase. That is where the problem lies. The huge sums spent on climate research have to be justified and that is a burden on scientists involved if the actual results are different from what is expected of them. I checked out Tamsin and found out that he was a participant in the giant Ice2sea project of EU to determine the effect of sea level rise from melting glaciers on coasts. That one was funded by the EU FP7 research project that has a 50 billion pound budget. 150 papers were published by the participants, but their best aggregate prediction of sea level rise is between 3.5 and 26.8 cm by 2100, a factor of eight uncertainty. This undoubtedly was a disappointment. My personal prediction for 2100 is just 21 cm total. But then they were expected to address six key audiences, identified as the science community, EU and EC policy makers, member states’ policy makers, educators, the public (including young people) and the media. That is where the pressure to color your results comes from because it will impact future funding of your project, if any. It also invites gaming the system and those who become experts at that will be the ones we hear most about. Tamsin must be aware of all that and his strong stand against advocacy is probably motivated by his close contact with this system. And, oh, I forgot. That Ice2sea project was started in response to IPCC lobbying.
+ 1, except that Tamsin is female.
I think you will find Tasmin is a lady.
True. I have access to a web site that allows me to see the amount of money the governments spends on research and policies; and to break that down by keywords used in the justifications for the funding for the research or policy. Applications that include words such as “sustainable, sustainability, climate change” get get a seemingly unseemly amount of taxpayer money thrown at them.
Chief, some further thoughts. We were discussing first, whether scientists should be advocates, and second, how best to determine policy. You wrote @ 1/8 1.21 am (http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/31/tamsin-on-scientists-and-policy-advocacy/#comment-357312) :
“Michael, I think your policy model is wholly inadequate for the far more complex problems of climate and environment. If we had scientists feeding us accurate information – you say – we could then move on to linear policy formulation on a rational basis. One policy objective at a time. It falls down on the first step. There is always insufficient information.
“The alternative is the specialist response of the environmental scientist. ‘Environmental science is a multidisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, (including but not limited to ecology, physics, chemistry, biology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science and geography) to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems. Environmental science provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of environmental systems.’ Wikipedia
“Environmental systems include physical, social, cultural and economic components. We utilise a team based approach of interacting generalists -each usually with a speciality – in a structured approach. It is a response to the need to create solutions with inadequate knowledge. It synergistically maximizes the information available to create optimal triple bottom line solutions. It is a bit of an art form.“
What you discuss here is how best to develop policy options in a complicated, multi-faceted situation. I have no quarrel with that, I’ve been involved in somewhat similar exercises when advising government on, e.g., policy towards the Kyoto protocol and South Burnett dams. But it doesn’t address the above issues. I’ll leave aside advocacy, as you are discussing solution development rather than promoting a solution.
As for making decisions on the proposed solutions, we come back to the perennial policy questions: how to determine which options to choose, not only for a particular issue but in terms of prioritising across the great range of issues and demands on resources which every government faces. This requires a mechanism for ordering the merit and priority of policies. Cost-benefit analysis and computer generated equilibrium (CGE) modelling are two well-developed tools for helping to provide a basis for such ordering. Economists, with these and other tools, apply a coherent and challengeable framework to the wide range of policy proposals. This applies however the policy proposals are developed.
In the last six years, we’ve had a complete breakdown of this process in Australia. The NBN was “developed” on the basis of a back-of-the envelope sketch on a flight which the minister boarded as the only way to get access to the PM. It was costed at $4.7 bn, with no economic or other analysis blew out to $47 bn, now estimated at perhaps $90 bn. After six years and many billions, about 200,000 premises are connected to this “national” network. Similarly with the Keynesian response to the GFC – I pointed out in The Australian in 2007, before the first stimulus payments, how badly Keynesian policies would pan out, and have been fully vindicated -, the $16 bn wasted on thought-bubble school halls and pink batts, etc, etc. There has been enormous waste, with long-term negative consequences, from our government failing to adhere to proven processes of policy development, assessment and implementation.
It doesn’t matter how good the solutions developed by your “environmental systems” approach are if they are not subject to proper assessment allowing comparison with alternative uses of resources.
Returning to Tamsin and the thread’s theme, one aspect of proper assessment is having inputs from specialists at a professional, non-advocacy, level. In “wicked” problems such as climate change, it’s hard enough to determine how best to respond even with the best data, modelling, prognostications, impact assessments, CBA etc without having to take account of the fact that those providing the inputs on which you depend are not playing straight but pushing their own agenda, from their viewpoint, their assessment, coming from a limited perspective compared to that of policy-makers dealing with a full gamut of issues. That is why Tamsin is right, and those who oppose her are wrong.
Another excellent post. Thank you. Climate Etc. readers are luck yo have you making these contributions. I wish more would take notice of the insights you provide into policy analysis.
I’ll add some more about the NBN and also about the cost of other policies this government has landed on us recently without proper economic analyses. I provide these to support your point that it is important to have a rigorous, proven effective, method to rank how taxpayer funds should be spent.
Costs of some of Labor’s policies:
• ETS = $1,345 billion reduced GDP to 2050 , , 
• Renewable Energy Target = $30 billion to 2020 
• NBN (latest estimate) = $60-70 billion , but probably would be $100 to $250 billion if continued (it is 36% duration complete but just 0.5% physical percent complete) , , 
• The 2013-14 budget for asylum seeker management was $2.9 billion (up from $930 million in the previous forecast). With the accelerating rate of new arrivals we can expect the costs will be at least double the May budget figure, so say $6 billion per year going forward. 
• My estimate of Labor’s policy just to house the boat arrivals on Mannus Island and Nauru = $10 billion over 4 years (2 billion for 750 people on Nauru  and assuming the same cost per person is $8 billion for 3,000 people on Manus Island.) BTW we already have 1,500 people waiting to be moved to Manus Island so, at current rate of arrivals, it will be full in two more weeks, so perhaps my $10 billion estimate should be doubled? tripled? quadrupled?
• Gonski school funding = $9.8 billion extra funding over 6 years 
• Disability Care – $19.3 billion over 7 years 
The biggest cost of all is the loss of revenue because of the loss of business and investor confidence. The loss of confidence is caused by bad policies, bad policy implementation, lack of transparency, lack of understanding of impacts of the policies on business and investment confidence; e.g.:
1. IR polices
2. Carbon tax
3. Mining tax
4. Fringe benefits tax on cars (the way it was announced with no prior consultation)
All these programs and options should be compared on proper basis. That has not been done. It is a disgrace.
I was responding to your comment. ‘When it moves to economic and policy questions, climate scientists have no expertise but need to be able to provide convincing data and argument on the science.’
The new model subsumes economics – without going into details of environmental or engineering economics – into the constrained multivariate decision process. The objective is to develop projects that satisfy the constraints and objectives at minimum cost. The choice of whether a business wants to pursue the project is the subject of a business case – a regulatory impact assessment – a budget review – or something similar. At a political level it is about competing objectives.
On some basic level people are changing the composition of the atmosphere without much idea of the consequences. This seems to me to be about as much of the science as is relevant to policy. Little more certainty as to outcomes is possible. In terms of climate change – an objective has been adopted by both sides of politics in Australia. A 5% reduction in emissions over 2000 by 2020 and a 20% renewable energy target in the same timeframe. This seems easily achievable although the renewables target is possibly the most expensive way to do it. In general the target is being achieved largely through reductions in land clearing. There are many ways of achieving reductions and I would do it generally in ways that had an environmental payback. Restoration of degraded lands for instance. The way to fund what are in effect many projects is through tendering in the usual way of government procurement, agricultural research focused in particular areas, outreach programs, etc.
In very real ways increasing our aid budget to 0.7% of GDP (as both sides of politics have promised to do) and focusing on the Millennium Development Goals would deliver effective carbon mitigation.
I just don’t think that ‘policy makers’ have the broad range of knowledge and skills to even understand the problem or approach solutions in effective ways.
Chief, I started drafting my 8.49 comment before your 8.41 comment appeared.
You say that “I just don’t think that ‘policy makers’ have the broad range of knowledge and skills to even understand the problem or approach solutions in effective ways.” That may be so, but we elect governments to make these decisions. Sometimes they aren’t very good at it, usually that means they lose office. Some of their advisers may not be very good, and I know in the QPS they tended to offer what they thought the minister wanted to hear rather than act as I did.
Your “constrained multivariate decision analysis” may be the best way to arrive at a solution to certain problems; I can’t say. If the teams can “develop projects that satisfy the constraints and objectives at minimum cost,” good, that’s an excellent contribution. But it must involve certain values and judgements, it might not be seen as optimal by everyone, it is an input to the decision-making process rather than determining an outcome. Personally, as a non-scientist I’m not convinced by emissions-reduction arguments, that affects my attitude to proposed policies, but I’m no longer an adviser, I speak only for myself. If your approach produces the best ways of achieving politically agreed goals, fine. If it does so in ways which also have an environmental payback, even better. As an individual, I’ve always sought to care for the environment in so far as I have control of it, and lead a relatively frugal existence. But those are my choices, not factors in my erstwhile policy advice.
PS: Chief, even your multidisciplinary teams to create “to create optimal triple bottom line solutions” can not come up with a single, definitely-the-best solution. It will always be partial, and there will always be disputes among affected/interested parties as to what is “best.” Take the issue of Murray-Darling water flows, for example. What is “best” will very much depend on whether you are an irrigator, a “river-quality-must-come-firster,” etc. Political decisions will be needed, and the team can only provide options. It wouldn’t be very helpful to deliver only one preferred solution without assessing the merits of alternatives. In terms of advocacy, if a particular view – such as returning the river to an imagined pristine state (cf Jennifer Marohasy’s comments) – prevailed amongst the team, they would have to separate their personal view from providing information by which the decision-makers could best decide: not bias the presentation to suit their own beliefs. Again, it comes down to providing what will best enable the decision-makers to make the optimal decision in terms of the priorities and trade-offs as they see them, not as the data providers see them. This is how I operated, it is how Tamsin operates, IMHO it is how others should operate.
Part of the technique is to compare alternatives and to consider doing nothing.
Given that optimal solutions fall within the constraints of economic, social and environmental considerations – it is very hard to see a solution in terms of reversing 200 years of engineering. You will find that Environmental Scientists are very pragmatic.
Of course we could always just do things better.
In case you are interested, NBN has only 70,000 connections to 30 June 2013, not 200,000. And over 20,000 of those were gained by buying the dilapedated, archaic, 12 year old ACT Transact service. This is the basis of the 0.5% complete figure I stated in my post above.
 NBN is a 11 year project (July 2009 to June 2020), so we are at 4 years into it, therefore 4/11 duration complete = 36% duration complete. Project physical percent complete is a measure of physical quantities, such as number of connections complete. On this basis the project is about 0.5% physical percent complete (70,000 connections  / 12.2 million existing internet subscribers ). Physical percent complete is invariably an ‘S’ curve for a project, not linear. But even so, at 36% duration complete, the project should probably be somewhere around 10% physical percent complete. So it is way behind schedule and inevitably will be way over budget at completion. Earned Value Performance Measurement method is the way to make accurate projections to complete, but NBN will not release the numbers needed to do the projections.
 Number of NBN connections at 30 June 2013 = 70,100:
 Number of internet subscribers at 31 December 2012 = 12.2 million
And I see in today’s Australian that “NBN charges could quadruple: Telco”.
As you pointed out, the NBN is a classic example of lac k of proper cost benebfit analysis. The cost has increased from $4.6 billion announced by Kevin Rudd to the electorate before the 2007 election, to a latest estimate of ‘over $60 billion’ to a probable $200 billion + if cnitnued to completion as per the original scope. it is a catasrophic waste of public money. It is a great example of why proper estimating and proper cost benefit analyses is essential for all policies and the more expensive the policy the more rigorous should be the cost benefit analyses.
The $1,345 billion net cost of the ETS, estiated by Treasury, has been spun as: “Strong Growth Low Pollution” Future. A more honest title would have been: “High Cost, No Benefit” policy.
Thanks Peter, I pulled the 200,000 from memory and didn’t fact-check it as it was close enough to make the point. I agree that “Strong Growth Low Pollution” is worse than spin, it’s downright dishonest.
Economics According To The EPA
The Dangerous Purveyors of Administrative Law
Dang, but what is the official message of the climate science orthodoxy? Does it or does it not agree with the “c” in cAGW? Is it disagreement with the “c” that makes for a “denier”? Do some climate scientists keep a low profile because in fact they’re lukewarmers not wanting to jeopardise their jobs? I’m all for climate scientists stating their actual position on the issue: then we might actually know what it is. The IPCC reports are no help, really, because I’m pretty sure that the spin they put on things has a vested interest in the “c”.
Latimer at 3:13 am. Well said. I was not a skeptic until I observed the response of climate scientists to climategate. Defending “hiding the decline” and “redefining peer review” because it was in support of “the cause” is precisely the reason I realized that groupthink could be seriously skewing climate science. Then there is the absolute refusal of advocate scientists and bloggers to ever admit mistakes (WebHub is a great example). This is about as far from the behavior of real scientists as possible. All of this has damaged credibility, and the advocates seem blissfully unaware that the harder they push, the lower their credibility becomes. Just one quick example. Gavin Schmidt publicly refuted someone for publishing an opinion piece in Science that overstated the methane in the arctic armageddon narrative. Although, Gavin’s pontifications on Real Climate are hard to take, I now trust him more than I did before, because he refused to sign on to the world ending methane narrative just because it predicted catastrophe.
Here is the comment I left on Tamsin Edwards’ blog:
“Dr. Edwards, I think you are right that climate scientists are often perceived as not particularly objective, because they essentially become politicians (or are seen that way, in any case).
May I suggest that part of the issue could also be the preferences of funding institutions? Meaning: now matter what the findings, good or bad, the press releases and articles always points out bad news, even if the science of the article only carries good news. I imagine that this is done to indicate that the researchers are still “on the team.” They need to keep getting their funding, don’t they? I’m guessing they wouldn’t behave this way unless they felt they needed to, in most cases.
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read — the article and the press release — where the results are actually good news, but somewhere there is a section that explains why it ISN”T good news, even though it seems like it.
Back in the Eemian, we now find that Greenland was about 6 to 8 degrees hotter than it is today, for about 7,000 years, and had lesser elevated temps for almost 15,000 years. Yet according to this research, Greenland contributed about half the sea level rise of the time, e.g. contributed 2 to 4 meters. Call it three meters.
Here’s the link, with further links to full study:
Assume that none of Greenland’s melting occurred in the other 8,000 years of elevated temps which weren’t 6 to 8 degrees higher Three meters in 7,000 years comes out to a couple of inches per century. You can play with the numbers, but what ever you do, it is a few inches per century, AND it takes 7,000 years to do it. Compared with so many headlines over the years about “unprecedented Greenland melt,” this is tremendously good news. And it appears to be the best science yet on the subject.
Yet, at the link, you will find that climate scientists like Jason Box and Richard Alley try to explain why it isn’t the good news it seems.
If you assume, as I do, that when solar energy is finally equal in cost to alternatives, starting about twenty years from now, solar will be the main source of new electricity in most of the world — including in most deserts, on building roofs, and with time, windows of commercial buildings — then we aren’t going to have 7,000 years of increasing warming, we will have perhaps 2 more centuries of it. So to find out that Greenland’s contribution is so small — and is likely to be back loaded, so we might get only an inch or two per C in the next two centuries — makes me want to dance with joy that we aren’t going to be swamped.
Same thing with the recent article which showed results of a 20 years experiment in the Arctic, where researchers artificially warmed a large plot for those 20 years. No big net releases of CO2 — no, the releases from soil were balanced completely by increase storage in new roots and growth in and above the soil. Great news, again. But it was spun as having unexpected negative side effects. Please.
Won’t the public trust scientists and funding institutions more if they see such institutions not try to put a sad face on good news all the time (in my view)?”
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The problem is much bigger and deeper than mere advocacy. It’s to do with integrity and honesty, qualities virtually unknown in government-funded climate science – witness Climategate, the official whitewashings Climategate, and the ho-hum response to the profound dishonesty Climategate exposed.
So if you selectively produce alarmist conclusions, you aren’t *seen* to be involved in advocacy, but your dishonesty and bias still serves your hidden politicizing agenda.
Government-funded climate science employing bias and dishonesty to advance the cause of government – not exactly a big surprise is it? Nor the enthusiasm with which those with totalitarian ideals embrace/ignore the dishonesty.
Tamsin Edwards’ argument seems to be that its scientifically acceptable to say that human emissions of CO2, and other Greenhouse gases, are causing climate change but not if ‘political’ adjectives like ‘dangerous’ are added.
So who is allowed to offer this advice and make these ‘political’ judgements? Anyone else who isn’t a scientist? Politicians themselves? We now trust them, all of a sudden, do we?
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