by Judith Curry
The Telegraph has a very good article We have failed to prevent global warming so we must adapt, subtitle We’ve spent 25 years trying to prevent global warming, and have barely scratched the surface. Excerpt:
If we had known in 1998 that even if we had tried nothing more to prevent climate change there would be no warming for two decades, that ought to have changed very markedly the policy assessment. Almost no policy that would have no impact within five years is ever a good idea, because of the ways the future is discounted.
The second way adaptation is less risky is that we know relatively little about the effects of mitigation strategies and they may not work as expected or might even have perverse long-term effects. By adapting as and when we need to, we cut down on the risks of doing something counterproductive by accident or of simply wasting our time and money.
The last advantage of adaptation is that as we become richer our tastes and technology will change automatically. It is perfectly possible that we shall naturally find ways to change our behaviour that stop climate change in its tracks, or alternatively we may devise some clever way of cleaning up after our grandparents.
We’ve spent 25 years trying to prevent global warming, and have barely scratched the surface. In doing so we have spent untold billions and plan to spend countless more. One does not need to doubt that climate change is happening to doubt that this is the strategy we should stick to. Prevention is dead. Long live adaptation.
.Don’t just trust the experts
Consensus and disagreement
Beacon News has an article Climate change ‘consensus’ just bandwagon psychology. This article addresses the following questions:
Where does that claim of 97 per cent consensus come from? Why do all the surveys arrive at the same figure?
and provides a good summary of this issue.
Reiner Grundman has a good post at Die Klimazweibel entitled Why do smart people disagree about facts? Grundman discusses and contrasts recent talks by social scientists Dan Kahan and David Victor. Summary statement:
Both Victor and Kahan point to an important issue. The issue is the role of scientific expertise in public affairs, and the social dynamics which ensue when risk issues are debated among scientists and the public at large is invited to comment (if only through opinion polls). The knee jerk assumptions of non-specialists in the field are not borne out by the facts, which means that progress on climate policy is not stalled primarily by contrarians, and more science education or information will do nothing to convince the public. Victor, the political scientist, shows how different forms of climate denial are over estimated while Kahan, the psychologist, shows that people actively seek information which fits the cultural group they belong to. No amount of ‘neutral’ information will change their views and campaigns of educating the public (through science or alarm) are futile. It looks as if those of us who want to see progress in climate policy need to focus their energy on different issues.
Andy Revkin has an article A look at shills, skeptics and hobbyists lumped together in climate denialism, which focuses on David Victor’s talk. Excerpt from Victor’s talk:
Second, under pressure from denialists we in the scientific community have spent too much time talking about consensus. That approach leads us down a path that, at the end, is fundamentally unscientific and might even make us more vulnerable to attack, including attack from our own. The most interesting advances in climate science concern areas where there is no consensus but the consequences for humanity are grave, such as the possibility of extreme catastrophic impacts. We should talk less about consensus and more about the consequences of being wrong—about the lower probability (or low consensus) but high consequence outcomes. Across a large number of climate impacts the tails on the distributions seem to be getting longer, and for policy makers that should be a call for more action, not less. But people don’t really understand that, and we in the scientific community haven’t helped much because we are focused on the consensus-prone medians rather than the tails.
Nature recently published a paper entitled Modelling the subjective and objective decision making in scientific peer review. Excerpt:
The objective of science is to advance knowledge, primarily in two interlinked ways: circulating ideas, and defending or criticizing the ideas of others. Peer review acts as the gatekeeper to these mechanisms. Given the increasing concern surrounding the reproducibility of much published research1, it is critical to understand whether peer review is intrinsically susceptible to failure, or whether other extrinsic factors are responsible that distort scientists’ decisions. Here we show that even when scientists are motivated to promote the truth, their behaviour may be influenced, and even dominated, by information gleaned from their peers’ behaviour, rather than by their personal dispositions. This phenomenon, known as herding, subjects the scientific community to an inherent risk of converging on an incorrect answer and raises the possibility that, under certain conditions, science may not be self-correcting.
McNider and Christy have an op-ed in the WSJ entitled Why Kerry is Flat Wrong on Climate Change that responds to Kerry’s ‘flat earth society’ comment. Punchline:
We should not have a climate-science research program that searches only for ways to confirm prevailing theories, and we should not honor government leaders, such as Secretary Kerry, who attack others for their inconvenient, fact-based views.
Roy Spencer strikes back against the ‘denier’ appellation with a post Time to push back against the global warming Nazis. Many knee-jerk objections to this from the usual suspects, but also from some reflective individuals. I agree that ‘Nazi’ is a bad idea, but I sympathize with the sentiments raised by McNider, Christy, and Spencer.
In the name calling game, there is a new entry. American Thinker has a post Climate parasites the answer to climate change deniers. Excerpt:
The name “climate parasites” performs two jobs with exactly two words. It derails completely the enemy’s position that our side consists of people who are totally ignorant of climate science, or choose to ignore it. We acknowledge without hesitation that climate change is a proven fact of nature. The name also, however, marginalizes the other side by putting its members into the same category as indulgence sellers and rainmakers: opportunistic frauds who preyed on superstition and natural disasters respectively to separate honest people from their money.
The point is this. The manufactured ‘consensus’ has led to this silly name calling. Taking David Victor’s analysis to heart might put climate science back on track and eliminate this pointless name calling.
JC note: I originally intended to have a section ‘Steyn vs Mann’, but there is so much this past week on the Mannian front that it deserves its own post. Stay tuned, I hope to have this up tomorrow.