Appeals to the climate consensus can give the wrong impression

by Will Howard

“Consensus” means different things to different people — and herein lies the problem.

 

You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause. This level of agreement, known as “consensus”, is often put forward in the climate debate in support of human-caused global warming and action to mitigate it. It was recently popularised on US talk show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The 97% figure comes from a paper by social scientist John Cook at the University of Queensland and colleagues, who quantified this consensus by analysing the abstracts of scientific papers on climate change. Cook estimated 97% of the abstracts supported the idea that recent climate change is man-made.John Oliver’s statistically representative climate debate.

Another social scientist, Richard Tol at the University of Sussex, has challenged the Cook study. Cook and colleagues have replied, and Tol has replied to the reply. And so it goes…

This to-ing and fro-ing might give the impression that climate science is somehow still under debate, but the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting.

But “consensus” means different things to different people — and herein lies the problem.

What does consensus mean?

“Consensus” is understood differently in science compared to politics or society.

Scientists use this word to refer to consilience of multiple lines of evidence that underlie widespread agreement or support a theory.

In the case of climate change, multiple lines of evidence underpin the prevailing view that the climate system is showing decade-on-decade warming over the past 50 years.

In particular, this warming bears temporal and spatial patterns, or “fingerprints”, that point to human causes.

For example, the stratosphere (that part of the atmosphere higher than about 11 km) has been cooling as the lower atmosphere and the ocean warm. This is the pattern we expect from the addition of greenhouse gases and not from, say, changes in the sun’s output.

But in public and especially political discourse, “consensus” tends to imply majority opinion or concurrence. As consensus in this public context is often arrived at by negotiation, saying there’s a scientific “consensus” may imply to the community that prevailing scientific views represent a negotiated outcome. This is the antithesis of science.

Consensus of the non-scientific kind does have a role to play in the climate debate. This includes negotiating whether warming is a “good” or “bad” thing and what, if anything, we should do about it.

These are not scientific questions. These are issues of values, politics, ethics and economics. As a nation and as a global society we need to reach consensus to resolve those questions and to make and implement appropriate public policy.

How science works

Science is based on three main things: data, testability and contestability.

Scientists, for example, don’t “negotiate” with data. We may re-analyse, reject outliers, replicate, recalibrate, but we do not negotiate. If the thermometer reads 25C, we don’t say, “I’d like 30; how about we settle on 27.5?”

Testability is a particular challenge for climate science, because we can’t do a laboratory experiment to test the hypothesis that humans are causing climate change. Most of the impacts we are concerned about are in the future and we have no data for the future. Instead, we use models based on the best understanding we have of physics, chemistry and biology to anticipate possible climate futures.

We are of course currently conducting the experiment that will prove whether humans cause global warming, in the uncontrolled planet-wide release of greenhouse gas emissions. However, by the time we’re in a position to test the result of, say, doubling greenhouse gas concentrations, it may be too late to mitigate the impacts.

That last attribute – contestability — is the antithesis of “consensus”. Indeed, it is the adversarial nature of science that is its real strength. In science you’re right until you’re proven wrong, and theories survive only as long they stand up to challenge.

Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift (which sought to explain how the continents are distributed across the earth) was rejected for decades. That was partly because there was no plausible mechanism to explain continents moving, and because most geologists at the time viewed vertical movements as the dominant earth-shaping forces. Wegener had been trained in astronomy and most of his work was in meteorology, so he was an “outsider” in geology.

Geological and geophysical observations in the 1960s and 1970s provided the evidence that the earth’s surface could and had shifted, moving continents in the way Wegener had suggested.

Play the science, not the scientist

The second problem with consensus is who to trust. On the website Skeptical Science Cook and his colleagues note they “decided that researchers who work and publish on climate science are the right group to ask.” Others have also tried to identify expert credibility in climate science.

But the problem with asking “who to believe” is that it ignores the merits, or lack thereof, of the arguments.

Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way from the UK and Canada came up with an innovative application of data analysis to “fill in” temperature data where observations are sparse, especially in polar regions. Their paper suggests a greater rate of global warming over the past two decades than previously estimated; their conclusion is that global warming has slowed but not as much we thought.

But Cowtan is a crystallographer, not (previously) a “climate scientist”. There’s a whole world of scientists who may have novel techniques, new insights and compelling arguments for different estimates of warming, or new estimates of climate sensitivity, than adopted by the IPCC and other synthesis studies. Are they afraid to publish these arguments and the data supporting them because they are worried they may be dismissed as “non-climate scientists”?

We need all the contributions we can get from all the disciplines we can access to understand the crucial challenges posed by climate change. We need to open up scientific discourse on climate change — the very purpose of science is to broaden intellectual exploration.

This essay was originally published in The Conversation [link]

Biosketch:  Will Howard is a Research Scientist at University of Melbourne  School of Earth Sciences, where he heads up the Sedimentary Basin Management Initiative. He is also the Deputy Chair of the Australian National Committee for Antarctic Research.

JC comment:  After seeing this article, I invited Will to do a guest post.  As with all guest posts, keep your comments civil and on topic.

And finally, a cartoon:

cartoon

 

456 responses to “Appeals to the climate consensus can give the wrong impression

  1. Thanks for this Judith. There are comments as well on The Conversation’s website, and I look forward to comments here as well.

    Cheers,
    Will

    • I beg you don’t sell the crystallographers (we call them, parameterizationers) short at the very time they are so sorely needed and when fate of the globe hangs in the balance (the current administration can only hold the seas at bay for so long) –e.g.,

      Data necessary to create a viable determination of climate mechanisms and thereby climate change, is completely inadequate. This applies especially to the structure of climate models. There is no data for at least 80 percent of the grids covering the globe, so they guess; it’s called parameterization… ~Tim Ball

      • I have Tim Ball’s book, but I have not read it yet.

        I think we have enough data to figure out what does regulate temperature of Earth.

        Climate Models are built with flawed theory and there can never be enough data to fix that without different theory.

      • The latest is that it’s the Sun after all (See, Usoskin et al., Evidence for distinct modes of solar activity, A&A 562 (2014)

    •  
      Having made for years the science and practice and dare I say, art of Parameterization Gazing (PG) my specialty, I feel uniquely qualified to add my valuable insight to the AGW project. And a serious project it is as all of us PG scryers have pledged our very souls to the mission of saving the world from Americanism using all the talents we have at our disposal.

      Given the goal, the rest is simple: we look at cells with real data, albeit data that has been adjusted and corrected, and upon deep reflection, we scry the results of neighboring cells for which no data exists (or has been lost or deleted).

      Although not required, I wear a handmade hairshirt and a “Yes We Can” hat while working to focus all of my efforts and insights on the serious job at hand. A lot of statistics is involved and many of the complex mathematical computations that are required must be done at the subconscious level where the results are, passed through the mind’s eye to sharpen the coherency of what would otherwise be irreconcilable images and information and of little use to the advance of humanity.

      We parameterizationgazeographers literally see the future in the data! For some, interpreting the data requires a self-induced, trance-like state of awareness with candlelight and burning incense to increase their receptivity. Personally, I prefer the light of an old CRT tube with blond-roast coffee, a bit of sleep-deprivation and an occasional 3-sip of Irish Whiskey for company over the long an grueling process of attempting to save humanity from the humiliation of capitalism, self-awareness and personal responsibility.

       

    • Hmmm

      cowtan and Way are also insiders at Skeptical Science

      I am concerned that there paper and others by Cook and Lewandowsky are more about countering issues, pause, computer models poorly performing and consensus. And winning the climate wars, than science

  2. ==> “This is the antithesis of science.”

    Which raises the question of why so many blogospheric threads are filled with comment after comment from “skeptics” arguing about how to precisely quantify the prevalence of various opinions among scientists.

    • You’re not going to to try and defend the propagandist “97%” usage are you Joshua? That it is rhetorical deception of stating one abstract premise and then applied to any of many convenient activist interpretations is plainly obvious isn’t? 97% agree to “X” therefore they are endorsing policy my policy “y” and my green belief system “Z” that is mutually exclusive of the “X” claim.

      Watch it from a professional and career liar, Jimmy Carter;

      http://kdvr.com/2014/08/12/president-carter-calls-for-carbon-tax-at-aspen-renewable-energy-conference/

      Note the “60%” of Canada gets it’s “energy” from renewable sources in the statement. Therefore we need a carbon tax?????

      Canada is country rich in energy with a population under 40 million people, 60% of its electricity comes from hydro which is “renewable”. So it’s another distorted cherry pick of a quote. Hydro when available is cheaper than coal, it had nothing to do carbon restricting policy history in Canada in fact. Pure, market based opportunity decision making in fact. Good luck trying to build a hydro-plant in the U.S. with the very same cult members Jimmy Carter calls peers. So it’s really an outright lie wrapped in a factoid. It’s plausibly true but it’s a conversational fabrication as is “humans warm the earth” therefore we must tax and regulate carbon. Non sequitur(s) in both examples.

      We’re talking about a very tiny pool of “climate scientists” who would be so brazen to speak as 97% consensus of anything. The very existence of which depends on not being asked specific questions and existing abstractly and largely anonymously. There isn’t a single valid paper supporting the existence of such a consensus. Doran? Cook? That’s sad and pathetic if you’re going to site those concoctions.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

      As for the drop dead stupid Cook fabrications;

      http://rankexploits.com/musings/2013/links-to-john-cooks-survey/

  3. “In the case of climate change, multiple lines of evidence underpin the prevailing view that the climate system is showing decade-on-decade warming over the past 50 years.”
    But that is not correct. There were two periods of warming: 1910-1941, and 1976-1998, both commensurate with dominant El Ninos. From 1941 to 1976 there was no warming, nor was there warming from 1998 to 2014.

    • Agreed. They also need to re-define what ‘decade-on-decade’ means. I have come across someone meaning that it can be seen by graphing decadal averages over 50 or more years … Others may remove an assumed El Nino effect from the data.

    • Thanks for that Donald. You are correct about the periods of warming and cooling or apparent stasis. But I did say the past 50 years, and I did say decade-on-decade.

      I am very careful to say what time scale I am talking about when I talk about climate change. As a geologist I am comfortable switching time scales by orders of magnitude. I am critical of people talking about “abrupt” climate change without saying what time scale they mean. If we’re talking about the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, “abrupt” could mean 10s of thousands of years. In the Greenland GRIP record, decades. Similarly in paleoclimate “high-resolution” is meaningless on its own. It only has meaning in the context of the sedimentation or growth rate of the pale archive we are sampling. Are we sampling at too low an interval and risking aliasing? Or too high and wasting effort? To me there’s only “appropriate resolution,” appropriate to the archive and the question we’re asking.

      Talking about climate we need to clarify what time scale we are talking about. I said “decade-on-decade” as my implicit statement that I think that’s (at least) the relevant time scale on which to talk about GHG-driven warming. And indeed over the past 50 years each successive decade has been warmer than the previous one. AND it is also true that looking at the most recent decade+ it’s hard to make the case for a clear and unambiguous trend either way. So the warming trend may have slowed or stopped, but at a high temperature compared to previous decades. That is why statements like “it hasn’t warmed since _____ (pick your starting year) ” and “this is the warmest decade on record” may both be true.

      Each may be meaningful in different ways, e.g. the inter-decadal time scale would be where we’d look for accumulation of heat (mainly in the ocean) due to the anthropogenic radiative imbalance, and the intra-decadal trend representative of ENSO, PDO, and/or other modes of variability we don’t yet understand.

      What is the appropriate time scale? Not quite clear to me because we still have an unclear understanding of interannual and multidecadal modes of climate variability like ENSO, the PDO, etc. and their influence on global temperatures.

      Calling the past decade+ a “pause” or a “hiatus” is probably correct, but both words imply it’s temporary. This begs the question: if it’s a “pause” when will it end? And what will the rate of warming be following the pause?

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        WR Howard said:

        “Calling the past decade+ a “pause” or a “hiatus” is probably correct, but both words imply it’s temporary. This begs the question: if it’s a “pause” when will it end? And what will the rate of warming be following the pause?”

        It’s not correct. It’s actually “warming stopped”.

        Just like when a car is traveling and it comes to a stop. The car is not moving, it stopped.
        That is not to say it will not go forward, or backward, or stay stopped.

        Since there is not any way of telling in advance if it will go forward or back up or if the motor is totally shot, it’s incorrect to say it paused on it’s way, until after the fact.

        I think you guys should get used to not being so squeamish about using the correct language. It’s not a traitorous act, just to be honest.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Of course, they’d crucify you.
        There’s that to consider.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        WR Howard,
        Just imagine what would happen to you if you said it stopped, and gave the usual caveats about the short period and statistical significance and all that.
        Just imagine the the howls of outrage.
        The “stopped” word is verboten to you.

      • thisisnogood, even skeptics don’t say “stopped” for fear of looking like they have made an unfounded assumption about the future.

      • ==> “Of course, they’d crucify you.”

        Yes. Crucified. Nailed to the cross. Executed. That’s what would happen.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Jim D said

        “even skeptics don’t say “stopped” for fear of looking like they have made an unfounded assumption about the future.”

        “Stopped” is a statement about a past time period, Jim D.
        It doesn’t what most people do.

        Scientists should feel free enough to call a spade a spade.

        Joshua said
        “Yes. Crucified. Nailed to the cross. Executed. That’s what would happen.”

        Phil Jones wrote
        “The scientific community would come down on me
        in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998. OK ,
        it has but it is only 7 years of data and it isn’t statistically significant”

        In no uncertain terms, Joshua.
        To say it’s warmed enormously lately, that always as been JUST FINE.

        :)

        I wonder how long it would take until WR Howard would feel comfortable saying “stopped”.
        30 years of no warming?
        Would he need 60?

      • “And indeed over the past 50 years each successive decade has been warmer than the previous one.”
        That is simply not true. Furthermore, why limit oneself to 50 years? We have reasonable data for at least 100 years. And during that period there two warming periods, one 30 years long and one 22 years long. There were two cooling or flat periods, one 25 years long, and one 16 years long and still in play. There is no evidence that this was caused by greenhouse gases and there is a good correlation with Nino indices.

        “AND it is also true that looking at the most recent decade+ it’s hard to make the case for a clear and unambiguous trend either way. So the warming trend may have slowed or stopped, but at a high temperature compared to previous decades. That is why statements like “it hasn’t warmed since _____ (pick your starting year) ” and “this is the warmest decade on record” may both be true.”
        But the fact that there is no trend in itself defies the greenhouse theory. But you are right that we remain on a high plateau. This might possibly be at least partly explainable by the fact that past period dominated by strong El Ninos removed reflective snow and ice from higher northern latitudes that was not replaced during periods of weal La Ninas. On the other hand there might be some combination of rising greenhouse gas concentrations coupled to El Nino predominance that produces the periods of warming. Who knows?

        “Calling the past decade+ a “pause” or a “hiatus” is probably correct, but both words imply it’s temporary. This begs the question: if it’s a “pause” when will it end? And what will the rate of warming be following the pause?”
        What about the period from 1941 to 1976? Was that a pause, a hiatus, a stoppage, or what? In fact it was not only a pause, but the global temperature average actually decreased.

      • Donald Rapp, in response to my statement:
        “ over the past 50 years each successive decade has been warmer than the previous one.”
        says
        “That is simply not true.”

        OK Donald,

        Here’s the data from the GISTEMP synthesis (but feel free to pick your own favourite), decadal averages referenced to 1951-1980 (feel free to pick your own reference period)

        Decade Decade Average Temperature Difference from 1951-1980 period
        1883-1892 -0.241
        1893-1902 -0.245
        1903-1912 -0.403
        1913-1922 -0.3
        1923-1932 -0.18
        1933-1942 -0.034
        1943-1952 -0.038
        1953-1962 -0.018
        1963-1972 -0.027
        1973-1982 0.088
        1983-1992 0.246
        1993-2002 0.429
        2003-2012 0.584

        Here’s a link to the data

        http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.txt

        Donald Rapp, over to you …

      • According to the data you showed, there was no change in global temperature from 1933 to 1972, a period of 39 years during which CO2 was rapidly increasing. The temperature data you cited were -.034, -.038, -.018 and -.027, all within the noise, and must be taken as essentially equal. Your gerrymandered data over the past two decades hide the fact that the temperature has meandered up and down on a high plateau since the high year of 1998, and the figures for the past two decades are highly misleading, and highly dependent on the choice of years. So all I can say to you is stuff and nonsense.

    • “I wonder how long it would take until WR Howard would feel comfortable saying “stopped”.”

      I would never say that, because when would we be in a position to know that?

      I am equally opposed to saying warming (or anything else) is “irreversible” as some of the literature claims. Some processes may be “irreversible” on time scales so long they may as well be “irreversible” for purposes of economic planning. Good example is the ocean buffering of CO2. All our understanding says it *will* happen but the time scales will be on 10^2 to 10^4 years. Including weathering takes this time scale (the “long tail”) out to 10^5 years. See

      Archer, D., et al. (2009), Atmospheric Lifetime of Fossil Fuel Carbon Dioxide, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 37(1), 117-134, doi:10.1146/annurev.earth.031208.100206.

      • Some processes may be “irreversible” on time scales so long they may as well be “irreversible” for purposes of economic planning. Good example is the ocean buffering of CO2. All our understanding says it *will* happen but the time scales will be on 10^2 to 10^4 years. Including weathering takes this time scale (the “long tail”) out to 10^5 years.

        What if human industry starts extracting CO2 from surface waters, at a rate that grows exponentially until it reaches an order of magnitude more than what we’re currently dumping into the atmosphere from fossil carbon? Is it still “irreversible”?

      • AK writes “What if human industry starts extracting CO2 from surface waters, at a rate that grows exponentially until it reaches an order of magnitude more than what we’re currently dumping into the atmosphere from fossil carbon? Is it still “irreversible”?”

        No.

        The question is how expensive and effective would that be? There are a number of strategies proposed for (re)sequestration of CO2: capture and storage in sedimentary strata; air capture, direct injection in the ocean, iron fertilisation (essentially a form of enhanced “extraction” from surface waters, and transfer into deep waters).

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        WR Howard said, wrt when he would say warming stopped:

        “I would never say that, because when would we be in a position to know that?”
        When it has stopped, obviously :)

        You’re trying to impute a meaning of forecasting to the word where it doesn’t belong. “Warming stopped” is a description of a past event.

        “Stopped” does not mean the temps will not go up in future.

        You would be crucified if you said it. You;re afraid and evasive.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        WR Howard, if you cannot say “stopped” because you are never in a position to know that, then how could you ever say “began” or “continues” or “continuing”?

        : )

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        If it’s science and not propaganda, then you should be able to say things like “stopped”.

        A car can be said to be “stopped” – but global warming, NEVER. Not after 100 yrs of cooling would the propagandists ever admit that global warming stopped.

      • The question is how expensive and effective would that be? There are a number of strategies proposed for (re)sequestration of CO2: capture and storage in sedimentary strata; air capture, direct injection in the ocean, iron fertilisation (essentially a form of enhanced “extraction” from surface waters, and transfer into deep waters).

        I was actually thinking of for-profit extraction for, say, conversion to methane (using solar-electrolytic hydrogen), or use in greenhouses or algae-growing operations. While such processes could start out as profitable sources of “carbon-neutral” fuels, carbon could be extracted from the process at many points for sequestration.

        The key would be to start with a very tiny fraction diverted for sequestration, with the fraction rising until by, say 2080, it was 2/3 or so.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        How can one say anthro induced warming started if one cannot say warming ended?
        How can one say anything?

        You’ve made science useless, WR Howard, by saying that something about the past cannot be said because we don’t know the future.

      • Oh I do so love these bun-fights over semantics :popcorn:

      • Beware of sheer pottiness over carbon.

        Remember when the outback took wing and headed to the surf back in 2009? That enormous tonnage of dust was iron rich, the result of interior rain at the right time, drying of the silt, and followed by spring westerlies. Natural event, very untidy, alarms people…but all part of the plan, just like the El Nino which nudged it along.

        Well, you would think that people doing iron fertilising (LOHAFEX experiment) around that time would have said: “We’re so silly. We could use a whole fleet and do this indefinitely and we couldn’t achieve what Lake Eyre and surrounds have just done for free.”

        But they didn’t.

        They were potty, you see. Just like the people who wanted to soot the poles back in the 1970s to stop global cooling (well, that ice had been increasing – but sssh!).

        As a total skeptic, I don’t care if temps go up or down, since they can’t really stay the same or go sideways. I’m concerned that we have not reached Peak Pottiness, and that there are many more billion dollar white elephants on the way. After Timmy’s Geothermia and Woodchips-to-Drax, you really do have to wonder if there are any limits at all.

    • Donald Rapp,
      I wrote:
      “ over the past 50 years each successive decade has been warmer than the previous one.”
      That’s five decades.
      (and no this does not deny the “pause” or “hiatus”)

      Let me help you:
      Decade Decade Average Temperature Difference from 1951-1980 period
      1963-1972 -0.027
      1973-1982 0.088
      1983-1992 0.246
      1993-2002 0.429
      2003-2012 0.584

      http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs_v3/Fig.A2.txt

      You may prefer a different data set?

      WMO data:
      Decade Average T Temperature Difference from 1961-1990 average
      1961-1970 13.9 -0.1
      1971-1980 13.95 -0.05
      1981-1990 14.12 0.12
      1991-2000 14.25 0.25
      2001-2010 14.46 0.46

      Maybe you prefer The BEST synthesis (land temps)
      http://berkeleyearth.org/summary-of-findings

  4. Careful now. Exposing that “Consensus” means different things to different people, will get you labeled as a “denier” by some.

    • We defined Consensus in “brainstorming” sessions as the result of sessions in which all stakeholders participated, and all agreed that the process had been fair, all had been heard and all viewpoints considered.
      This does not seem to be the case in CAGW.

  5. ==> “Consensus of the non-scientific kind does have a role to play in the climate debate. This includes negotiating whether warming is a “good” or “bad” thing and what, if anything, we should do about it.”

    I think that the role is somewhat larger than what you describe.

    For people who lack the brain power and/or knowledge to evaluate the science on its technical merits, the existence of a prevalence of shared opinion among experts (or a lack thereof), can be useful for assessing the probabilities associated with different scientific views. Not to say that the prevalence of different opinions among experts should be considered as conclusive evidence about the science.

    • For people who lack the brain power and/or knowledge to evaluate the science on its technical merits, the existence of a prevalence of shared opinion among experts (or a lack thereof), can be useful for assessing the probabilities associated with different scientific views.

      But when that “prevalence of shared opinion among experts” has been manipulated through, for instance, dishonest “gatekeeping” at key scientific journals, its “usefulness” must be seriously deprecated, or those “people who lack the brain power and/or knowledge to evaluate the science on its technical merits” will also find themselves manipulated.

      And where do you fit in this? Your efforts seem to me to be primarily pointed towards protecting that “prevalence of shared opinion among experts” from being deprecated, through such tactics as “look! A squirrel” and “mommy! Mommy! They did it too!”

      • ==> “But when that “prevalence of shared opinion among experts” has been manipulated through, for instance, dishonest “gatekeeping” at key scientific journals, its “usefulness” must be seriously deprecated, or those “people who lack the brain power and/or knowledge to evaluate the science on its technical merits” will also find themselves manipulated.

        I might disagree about the magnitude of how much the factors you discuss are in play – but sure, the “information” conveyed by the prevalence of opinion for any particular sample is affected by influences that “skew the sample.”

        ==> “Your efforts seem to me to be primarily pointed towards protecting that “prevalence of shared opinion among experts” from being deprecated, ”

        Deprecated invalidly. I think that the prevalence of opinion should be viewed in full context – which would include the factors you describe. But I think that the arguments about the factors you describe should also be viewed in full context – which would include biasing influences on those arguments.

        The “consensus” should not be considered dispositive. I’ve never argued that it should be. But it is information that helps people like me assess probabilities. Along the same lines, when I find specious arguments aimed at deprecating the “consensus”, that’s information also. For example, when I find arguments about how it’s all a hoax perpetrated by communist climate scientists whose real agenda is to destroy capitalism, that’s information. Or when I find arguments that the “consensus” is irrelevant (being made by people who rely on a “consensus” of expert view in any variety of issues on a day-to-day basis), or that evaluating the “consensus” is antithetical to science (which is not what the author here argued), that’s information also.

    • Joshua,
      I think you raise a good point about the role being larger. I would also note that the “what, if anything, we should do about it” is directly connected to the magnitude of the warming.
      Much of the exaggeration skeptics complain about comes from activists who need it to be “worse than we thought” in order to justify more intrusive “action.”
      This is where “consensus” definition is crucial- consensus on a low ECS means a whole different thing to policy than consensus on high ECS yet both are counted in the 97%, which is why so many complain that the number is manipulative.

      • Jeffn –

        I think that beneath the hyperbole and polemics, there does lie some valid argumentation among “skeptics” with reference to the “manipulative” component of how the number can be used by “realists.”

        The facile argumentation about the “consensus” certainly isn’t a one-way street. Yes, there is a clear orientation among “realists” to use the “consensus” to motivate the public towards action. That seems plainly obvious. Such an approach has inherent problems because ultimately, actions should be justified not on the existence of a “consensus” but on the science itself. Yes, the “what, if anything, we should do about it” plays into the discussion of “consensus” in a complicated fashion. Just because, IMO, I often see “skeptics” inappropriately dismissing the risks associated with uncertainty, certainly does not mean that it is appropriate to diminish uncertainty by leveraging a prevalence of expert opinion. The existence of a “consensus” does not alter the degree of uncertainty that exists.

        And then on top of that, I think that leveraging the “consensus” is an effective strategy, anyway; the reason being that people select their experts and whether they trust expert opinion on the basis of their preexisting biases. Talking about the “consensus” will not, IMO, move the needle on policy discussion in any significant manner. Which is why it’s so amusing to see “realists” spend so much time trying ot leverage the “consensus” and “skeptics” focusing so much energy on the existence of a “consensus” and how talking of a “consensus” is antithetical to science; in the end, it’s all just same ol’ same ol’.

      • Sorry…. I don’t think that leveraging the “consensus” is an effective strategy….

      • “And then on top of that, I think that leveraging the “consensus” is an effective strategy, anyway; the reason being that people select their experts and whether they trust expert opinion on the basis of their preexisting biases. ”

        Yes, I know there is some research on this, but one thing that 12 years in journalism taught me is that the number of people actually interested in politics is small. People who can’t name their congressman or one of their senators don’t have a pre-existing bias that affects their ability to asses expert opinion. Fear of global warming ranks in importance of issues behind “civility” now.
        AGW dropped off the radar screen because “realists” said it would warm and it didn’t, “realists” said we’d be drowning in trains of hurricanes and we didn’t, “realists” said switching to solar and wind would be “cheap and easy” – a claim so embarrassingly disingenuous that you can’t even find a celebrity willing to tout it with a straight face anymore. In short, every editor, producer and activist that rushed out the Al Gore/Joe “Indispensible” Romm party line got burned badly and it dropped off the front pages as a result. And when it dropped off the front pages Joe Sixpack put it out of his mind.
        And finally, but importantly, after telling the world AGW was the single most important issue evah, the Democratic Party ignored it the minute it took power. That was the final straw- if Democrats don’t care, it sure as hell won’t make it back onto page one of the papers.

      • “after telling the world AGW was the single most important issue evah, the Democratic Party ignored it the minute it took power. That was the final straw- if Democrats don’t care, it sure as hell won’t make it back onto page one of the papers.”

        Indeed. I am highly critical of Obama and the Democrats on this. There were the Democrats, with their own president in the White House, majorities in both Houses, a bill that had already passed the House of Reps, and even a Republican co-sponsor (Graham) in the Senate. And they couldn’t pass it. The New Yorker had a piece on this:

        http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/11/101011fa_fact_lizza?printable=true&currentPage=all

        When they had the all-night climate session in the Senate recently, a journalist asked majority leader Harry Reid why they didn’t pass the cap & trade legislation when they had the chance, and Reid said something along the lines of “the health-care reform was higher priority.” OK, I thought, then why spend all this time denouncing the evil Koch brothers and climate “deniers”? Their own legislative priorities were different, and they couldn’t get enough votes among their own party. I understand that, but you can’t blame that on the climate-denying Republicans.

        Here in Australia we had a somewhat similar situation. In 2007 Kevin Rudd and the center-left Labor party came into office, with PM Rudd saying climate change was the “greatest moral challenge” of our time. One of his first acts as PM was to sign the Kyoto Protocol. He was proposing a cap & trade system actually quite similar to what the outgoing centre-right Coalition was proposing near the end of their time in office. He had the support of then-opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull. But in this case the Green Party (with a small but crucial number of votes in the Australian Senate) blocked the legislation. Later, Rudd’s successor Julia Gillard introduced a carbon tax, after promising she would not do so. But a major problem was she was leading a minority government and did not have a clear and unambiguous legislative mandate to introduce the tax. The fact she’d promised not to introduce it during the campaign opened her to charges of dishonesty that the opposition used very effectively. That tax has now been repealed, and we will have to see how the current government’s Direct Action plan plays out.

      • Their legislative priorities are going even further away. A party that’s decided to base itself on populist rhetoric about income inequality and stagnant middle class wages is not a party that is poised to push a whopping big regressive carbon tax- one that would, by design, shaft the middle class and blue collar workers in particular.
        Even the much anticipated EPA regulations are shaping up to be an effort to take credit for the shale gas revolution’s impact on power generation.
        The last watertight bulkhead has been breached and the rats are swimming away.

      • Jeffn –

        ==> “Yes, I know there is some research on this, but one thing that 12 years in journalism taught me is that the number of people actually interested in politics is small. ”

        I agree. Real interest in politics is limited to a relative few. To exemplify those very few, look at these pages, look at the thread immediately downstairs; ostensibly it is about the precautionary principle but it’s easy to see that just beneath the surface lurks the signs of strong political orientation among the commenters. The fight about climate change becomes, for that group, an overtly political proxy war.

        But while most people so politically motivated as to spend tons of time leveraging the science of climate change to fight political battles, a lot of people are influenced by their group and/or ideological and/or political identity They aren’t the type that are so identified that they comment on climate-o-spheric blogs, but as much evidence indicates, views about climate change are strongly associated with ideological or political “world view” (at least in the U.S.). One doesn’t need to be heavily engaged politically to have a group identification that aligns along the lines of the ideological/political split in the climate wars..

        And as with other proxy political battles, even though most are not really strongly political, there is widespread identification with ideological teams. Abortion. Gun control. Taxes. Medical insurance. And in each of those situations, as with climate change. people pick their experts based on what will fit with their identification and confirm their biases. Some say that there experts have proven that guns limit crime and violence and others say that their experts have proven that guns cause crime and violence. Taxes harm the economy/help improve life for the poor. Abortion is a sin/a basic freedom. The affordable healthcare act is tyranny/providing a basic right while limiting freeloaders.

      • ==> “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

        Seriously? This blog’s moderation algorithm is a joke.

        Let me see if I can guess the offending word.

        Jeffn –

        ==> “Yes, I know there is some research on this, but one thing that 12 years in journalism taught me is that the number of people actually interested in politics is small. ”

        I agree. Real interest in politics is limited to a relative few. To exemplify those very few, look at these pages, look at the thread immediately downstairs; ostensibly it is about the precautionary principle but it’s easy to see that just beneath the surface lurks the signs of strong political orientation among the commenters. The fight about climate change becomes, for that group, an overtly political proxy war.

        But while most people so politically motivated as to spend tons of time leveraging the science of climate change to fight political battles, a lot of people are influenced by their group and/or ideological and/or political identity They aren’t the type that are so identified that they comment on climate-o-spheric blogs, but as much evidence indicates, views about climate change are strongly associated with ideological or political “world view” (at least in the U.S.). One doesn’t need to be heavily engaged politically to have a group identification that aligns along the lines of the ideological/political split in the climate wars..

        And as with other proxy political battles, even though most are not really strongly political, there is widespread identification with ideological teams. Ab*rtion. Gun control. Taxes. Medical insurance. And in each of those situations, as with climate change. people pick their experts based on what will fit with their identification and confirm their biases. Some say that there experts have proven that guns limit crime and violence and others say that their experts have proven that guns cause crime and violence. Taxes harm the economy/help improve life for the poor. Ab*rtion is a sin/a basic freedom. The affordable healthcare act is tyranny/providing a basic right while limiting freeloaders.

      • ==> “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

        Seriously? This blog’s moderation algorithm is a joke.

        Let me see if I can guess the offending word. Part I

        Jeffn –

        ==> “Yes, I know there is some research on this, but one thing that 12 years in journalism taught me is that the number of people actually interested in politics is small. ”

        I agree. Real interest in politics is limited to a relative few. To exemplify those very few, look at these pages, look at the thread immediately downstairs; ostensibly it is about the precautionary principle but it’s easy to see that just beneath the surface lurks the signs of strong political orientation among the commenters. The fight about climate change becomes, for that group, an overtly political proxy war.

      • Part II:

        But while most people so politically motivated as to spend tons of time leveraging the science of climate change to fight political battles, a lot of people are influenced by their group and/or ideological and/or political identity They aren’t the type that are so identified that they comment on climate-o-spheric blogs, but as much evidence indicates, views about climate change are strongly associated with ideological or political “world view” (at least in the U.S.). One doesn’t need to be heavily engaged politically to have a group identification that aligns along the lines of the ideological/political split in the climate wars..

      • Part III:

        And as with other proxy political battles, even though most are not really strongly political, there is widespread identification with ideological teams. Ab*rtion. G*n control. Taxes. Medical ins*rance. And in each of those situations, as with climate change. people pick their experts based on what will fit with their identification and confirm their biases. Some say that there experts have proven that g*ns limit crime and violence and others say that their experts have proven that g*ns cause crime and violence. Taxes harm the economy/help improve life for the poor. Ab*rtion is a s*n/a basic freedom. The affordable he*lthcare act is tyr*nny/providing a basic right while limiting fre*loaders.

      • “And as with other proxy political battles, even though most are not really strongly political, there is widespread identification with ideological teams. Abortion. Gun control. Taxes. Medical insurance.”
        You think? Oddly I am in a position to tell you that you are quite wrong and wrong for the wrong reasons. I am an Englishman living in the US, in Houston now, and am on the political right in both nations.
        However, in the UK we do not have the ideological battles over Abortion. Gun control. Taxes. Medical insurance in the same manner as the US at Federal or at State level.
        Abortion is considered a vote of conscience and all MP’s vote for their personal beliefs and on behalf of the constituents. A conscience vote will be about religious, moral or ethical issues but not for administrative or financial issues. In the UK there is no left-right split on abortion, nor is the majority of the MP’s or the citizenry unhappy with the current law, last reviewed in 2008. The British know that there cannot be a moral/legal position on abortion that works, and that a ‘muddle through’ legal system that more than 90% of the people agree with is as good as it is going to get.
        The British are also more comfortable with restriction on gun ownership and these have been highly restricted since the end of WWI and the Red scare. We armed and then disarmed huge numbers of men and women in WWII, but the arms were just a manifestation of the states monopoly of violence.
        WWII saw a complete centralization of British resources, with the British devoting a greater fraction of their economy to warfare than any other nation.
        In the 45 election, both the Labour and Conservative parties wished to introduce central, universal healthcare and insurance. The ‘right’ in Britain do not have a fear of state power, they just ‘know’ ‘it can be wasteful.
        The two problems you have are with the Evolution/Revolution problem and the ‘Road to Cork Problem’.
        Conservatives much prefer evolutionary changes in institutions, society and culture because they operate on the precautionary principle; what works works and a change may be worse than what we have at the moment. Revolutions may be positive, but not generally.
        The Road to Cork Problem is that if you have a highly sophisticated social/legal system, it may not make sense for you to go somewhere else. The American health insurance system evolved out of American, not European, post-war history. That health insurance came to be slaved to work is what happened and the whole US system evolved from this reality. The idea that you can redesign the system with ease, and get better outcomes, for more patients, at lower cost is a lie; moreover when people stated that the reforms would allow 50 million people to be covered with no additional cost, were lying and knowingly lying.
        You banding around terms like ‘ideology’ make no sense when you cannot see your own intensely biased, blinkered, view of what make people think the way they do.

    • Steven Mosher

      “For people who lack the brain power and/or knowledge to evaluate the science on its technical merits, the existence of a prevalence of shared opinion among experts (or a lack thereof), can be useful for assessing the probabilities associated with different scientific views. ”

      1. If you lack the brain power to understand the science, that is good evidence that you lack the brain power to decide who is an expert,
      whether they actually agree or not, what they actually agree on, whether or not that agreement is even relevant to the policy debate.

      2. If you lack the brain power to assess the science, and are unwilling to learn, it is likely that you lack the brain power to assess the “probabilities” associated with different views

      Lets do an example.

      The tropospheric hot spot is a hot debate, Joshua.
      please tell us what experts do you listen to, what weight do you assign to their views, and what is the final probability you assign to the view that the hot spot is a finger print of global warming and what is the probability that its existence or non existence tells us anything?

      Lets do another example.

      What experts do you listen to on the divergence problem?
      What is the state of science on that issue
      Given your survey of expert opinion on this question
      tell us your final opinion and show how you assigned the probabilities.

      In short, maybe you USE your lack of knowledge as a COVER for your desire to engage in rummaging through motivations.
      Regardless, Focus on the questions above.

      SHOW US how one does what you claim that people do.

      SHOW US how you use expert opinion in specific EXAMPLES..you know, show your work.

      or you can just assert that this is what folks can do

      • Well, the current non-El Nino is emblematic of the problem.

        The experts were virtually certain it would develop based on models.

        The model predictions from 1st quarter 2014 were grossly wrong.

        When the experts and models are frequently wrong and studies contradict each other – it would behoove us to improve the peer review process and general climate knowledge before we take precipitous action.

        There are basically three theories about what the temperature will be in 2030:

        1. CO2 warming currently hiding in the ocean will emerge and make it significantly hotter.

        2. Natural cycles are masking a weak CO2 upward pressure on temperatures.

        3. Solar influences dominate climate and it will be somewhat to significantly colder.

        If global temperatures drop 1°C between now and 2030, CO2 is not a significant driver of climate and people associated with the theory and the studies that supported it should be allowed/encouraged to find employment in other fields.

      • Steve, I do believe you sent ole Joshy scurrying for the bushes with that post. A great service indeed.

      • > I do believe you sent ole Joshy scurrying for the bushes with that post.

        I hope you have the brain power to reproduce the argument, Bob, or else you’d fail to get the memo, which rests on a trick as old as rationalism.

        Trust based on credibility does not imply omniscience, but stuff like perceived expertness, reliability, activeness, and even attractiveness:

        http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/68/2/104/

      • The data seems pretty clear cut – e,g, http://www.acd.ucar.edu/Research/Highlight/stratosphere.shtml

        A decrease to the mid 1990’s and little seeming change since. Where have we seen that temporal pattern before? Oh that’s right – everywhere.


      • PA | August 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm |

        Well, the current non-El Nino is emblematic of the problem.

        The experts were virtually certain it would develop based on models.

        The model predictions from 1st quarter 2014 were grossly wrong.

        That is nuts. The predictions have always been widely dispersed.
        http://www.climate.gov/sites/default/files/styles/inline_all/public/NMMEforecastplume_graph_610.gif?itok=ElOtB7Ir

        That’s why some of us are working on the fundamental physics.
        http://azimuth.mathforge.org/

      • Well, the current non-El Nino is emblematic of the problem.

        Etc.

        El Niño: Fizzle or Sizzle?

        July was a rough month for the potential development of El Niño. Waiting for El Niño is starting to feel like Waiting for Godot. As Emily discussed in her post and as the CPC also described in the August 7th ENSO discussion, the trends were in the opposite direction of El Niño, particularly with respect to the ocean. Below-average temperatures emerged at the surface in the eastern equatorial Pacific and were widespread below the surface. The appearance of seemingly unfavorable conditions has led to some comparisons with 2012, when an emerging El Niño instead collapsed. Are we in 2012 territory again? Is this El Niño again a bust?

        In 2012, sea surface temperatures were certainly above their normal average, but the atmosphere remained fickle. In fact, certain atmospheric features across the tropical Pacific remained more suggestive of La Niña, the opposite condition of El Niño. Namely, rainfall was above average near the Maritime Continent (north of Australia), which is a common feature associated with La Niña.

        In 2014, we have again struggled to see clear atmosphere-ocean coupling (i.e. interaction). […]

        So is it possible that increasing pCO2 has impacted the “atmosphere-ocean coupling”? Is it possible that the pCO2 has passed a “tipping point” such that the mechanism of El Niño (ENSO) now works differently?

      • WHT, the 1st quarter predictions (March 24) showed Nino3.4 index average of the models at over 1°C for early August.

        The current Nino3.4 is zero (or less):
        http://climexp.knmi.nl/getindices.cgi?WMO=NCEPData/nino5_daily&STATION=NINO3.4&TYPE=i&id=someone@somewhere&NPERYEAR=366

        Attaching a link to the mid June forecast doesn’t refute my point.

    • Pedro Oliveira

      Back in the XV century the expert’s said that the Sun orbits the Earth. Was it true?

    • But when that prevalence of shared opinion (real, not questioned) is misrepresented constantly for political gain, the consensus’ credibility is diminished.

      The true enemies of an acceptance of the consensus don’t have names like Watt or McIntyre. They have names like Mann and Gleick.

      Until the consensus stands up to the phonies who have grabbed the microphone out of their hands, the consensus will continue to have big problems.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Thomas Fuller,
        How many of them do you estimate there are of these enemies of reason?
        How big is The Ship of Fools?

      • Hi Tom –

        ==> ” …the consensus’ credibility is diminished.”

        In whose opinion has the “credibility” been diminished?

        The evidence that for the most part the “credibility: is currently low in the opinion of those who had already pre-selected a different set of “experts” – in other words, for those who never considered them credible to begin with. Thus, no diminished credibility. I don’t doubt that in some small measure, relatively speaking, some number of “skeptics” have viewed the “consensus” as losing credibility over time. But it’s not a significant enough # to show a “signal” in the aggregate of public opinion – and it is probably to some degree counteracted by an increase in credibility in the eyes of those inclined (because of associated political/ideological identification) to go in the opposite direction.

        If you have actual evidence otherwise – you know, validated, quantified, empirical-type stuff, as opposed to just claims by “skeptics” in the blogosphere, who obviously are prone to observer bias and other partisan influences, kI’d love to see it. I’ve been asking for such evidence for years – from Judith and other “skeptics.” Hasn’t been provided yet.

        Maybe you’ll be the exception?

        I do have to say that I find it interesting that I find so many self-described “skeptics,” and science-oriented folks who make these sorts of unskeptical and unscientific claims over and over, although they can’t proved supporting evidence.

        Do you find that interesting, Tom?

      • Thomaswfuller2: “continue to have problems” is like saying that the Titanic will continue to have problems. The cause is sunk and cannot be recovered.

      • Well, just looking at the data (even after the tampering)…

        There was about 0.7°C of 20th century warming.

        At least 0.4°C was due to solar influences (if you take the pre 50’s trend to be solar), 0.15 to 0.3°C is some combination of solar or CO2 or ozone depletion, etc. and there is up to a 0.2°C sinusoidal oscillation due natural climate cycles imposed on top of it.

        During the 90s all the influences were positive. Right now UHI, CO2 and a few minor influences are positive, natural cycles and solar seem to be trending negative.

        If CO2 was a big driver of 20th century warming the last 17 years would have been warmer. The current period is a great lab test for global warming. The negative influence of solar and natural cycles should kick in during the next couple of years. The solar cycle isn’t at Dalton minimum levels yet but it should be a weak negative influence.

        If CO2 is a minor influence it should start getting colder.

        I’m in “wait and see” mode.

        Joshua … Warwick Hughes has a score card for global warming predictions that pretty much answers your challenge for evidence by comparing predictions to reality:
        http://www.warwickhughes.com/hoyt/scorecard.htm

      • PA (above) has picked a starting date commonly held to be end of the Little Ice Age. Unseemly.

    • Denigration is a political weapon, not a scientific statement.

  6. The ‘consensus is really the Malthusian consensus.

  7. Joshua | August 13, 2014 at 8:11 am “… so many blogospheric threads are filled with comment after comment from “skeptics” arguing about how to precisely quantify the prevalence of various opinions among scientists.”
    Can you give some examples?

  8. “Scientists, for example, don’t “negotiate” with data.”
    No, but coercion of data has been known.

    Back on topic: “As consensus in this public context is often arrived at by negotiation, saying there’s a scientific “consensus” may imply to the community that prevailing scientific views represent a negotiated outcome.” The IPCC consensus is explicitly of the political form — negotiating phrasing which all can live with — rather than the scientific form — “consilience of multiple lines of evidence.”

  9. During a recent discussion about ‘global warming’ a colleague of mine who has a professorial position in an environmental science at a major university expressed surprise and disbelief when I suggested that some scientists with expertise in climate might not belong to the ‘consensus’. He had never heard of Roger Pielke Snr or of Richard Lindzen or of Judith Curry, much less of Paul Dennis or Steve McIntyre. But why should he have heard of them? It’s not his own field, and if his local climate science colleagues had never mentioned them, then, as far as he is concerned, they don’t exist. Taking my cue from Joshua, the consensus is 100%.

  10. “In particular, this warming bears temporal and spatial patterns, or ‘fingerprints’, that point to human causes.”

    That’s consensus.

    “We need all the contributions we can get from all the disciplines we can access to understand the crucial challenges posed by climate change.”

    That’s also consensus.

    “However, by the time we’re in a position to test the result of, say, doubling greenhouse gas concentrations, it may be too late to mitigate the impacts.”

    That too.

    Assumption, earnest concern, trickiness with terms. That’s consensus.

    Science is when you just want to find stuff out. Ah, but I dream.

    • 1) The “fingerprints” are not consensus. They are observed patterns. We can have a scientific debate about their significance and relevance, or even their existence. But to me they do point to the human influence on the climate system.

      2) “we need all the contributions” – that’s not consensus; that’s my opinion. And you can read the “challenges posed by climate change” a number of ways. One is the scientific challenge: we clearly still have an incomplete understanding of the climate system, not only on the question of global warming due to greenhouse-gas emissions, but also (as important if not more important) on the drivers of inter annual and interdecadal climate change: ENSO, climate hazards like drought, flooding, cyclones, etc. These are of enormous economic and humanitarian consequence no matter what you think controls their frequency and intensity.

      Another is the risk that the long-term impacts of the GHG buildup will have a net overall deleterious effect. That challenge is scientific: can we anticipate the impacts? on what time scale will they emerge, if they do? what will the costs/benefits/opportunities be? For these questions I say (my opinion again) we will need the full range of scientific expertise from physical, natural, and social sciences. Not to mention math and IT.

      3) “by the time we’re in a position to test …” Not consensus. My opinion again, but informed by my understanding of some of the long time scales in the climate system. These include ocean circulation, ice sheet dynamics, and the geochemical buffering processes in the ocean and weathering processes on land.

      2 and 3 may or may not represent “consensus”. I did not take a vote or a conduct a survey. Anecdotally I know many of my earth science colleagues share my “by the time we’re in a position …” view.

      • Your opinions have a happy knack of lining up to the consensus, with a little bit of foot-shuffling just to be naughty.

        As to what should be “done” about yet another upward temp trend in a Holocene which has never done anything but trend up and down…start by encouraging your mates to drop that hockey stick, all brands and models. And make a thud.

        We don’t want to prepare for someone’s modelled or simulated climate while using taxes, regulation and white elephants to dial in a theoretical “stable” climate which has never existed. The world has been both colder and warmer than it is now, and not so long ago in both cases. Bass Strait was a walk-way a mere ten thousand years ago.

        Spending trillions on white elephants has to stop, as a priority. By all means get back to us when you do know a bit more about the unexplored hot ball we live on, the largely unvisited deep hydropshere which manages to be at the centre of every theory on climate, and another hot ball which should need no mention. By all means take hundreds of millions of dollars to investigate all that, and you won’t hear criticism from the likes of me if you stumble or take wrong turns.

        I’d say earth sciences have job in front of them. I can see why “science communication” would be a preferable occupation…but there’s really not enough science to communicate, is there?

  11. Good article. Of course it leaves out the issue of when people use consensus as a tool to beat on those who disagree or want more refinement. I can accept that there is broad scientific consensus that evolution is real and the literal biblical 6000 years since creation is so obviously wrong. People who deny the scientific consensus on evolution and insist the earth is only 6000 years old and fossils were put in the ground to test us are clearly nuts or ignorant. I can’t say the same about climate science and C02 causing global warming and impending catastrophe.

  12. The stratosphere stopped cooling in 1995. If you don’t know why it stopped you don’t know why it was cooling to begin with.

    • A case could be made that it (strat-encoldening) stopped in 1998 along with the pause, therefore the tropo-warming, strato-cooling hypothesis is, in this isolated case, confirmed. This makes sense, right? More heat trapped in the troposphere, less heat going into stratosphere.

      Hey Howard, you’re full of Spit. CO2 continued to climb during the pause while the stratosphere temperature stood pat. What gives?

      Modeled CO2 warming is just warming. The troposphere is like a thermos (how do it know?). The source of warming is relatively irrelevant.

      The really cool thing is that the pause has highlighted natural variation and transient feedbacks as having significant impacts to the CO2 forcing-climate response.

      The pause didn’t kill the cause, it is giving the cause a makeover. However, not everyone is happy with the new look. All of this change provides ample fodder for axe-grinders who think there are “sides” to continue their meaningless gotcha war of words.

      The question is, Steven, are you going to read the entire Science of Doom blog or are you going to join the endless loop circle jerk?

      http://scienceofdoom.com/roadmap/

      Start here so you can feel more comfortable:

      http://scienceofdoom.com/2009/11/22/temperature-history/

    • Howard, after your thorough literature search you could only find one hypothesis of why it isn’t cooling and that one was on a blog? Try again.

      • steven

        I only highlighted one simple working hypothesis that has so far stood the test of time, but if that boosts your self esteem, than it’s my pleasure.

        The fact that there are many other hypotheses and other very large missing pieces in the climate puzzle is quite exciting.

        You demonstrate a preference to play non sequitur gotcha just like Mr Cook and his consensus claptrap clan. Luckily, you have found your bliss!

      • All of them have stood the test of time or they would no longer be working hypotheses. Since you knew there were several working hypotheses perhaps you can elaborate on why my comment was indicative of a circle jerk.

  13. “might give the impression that climate science is somehow still under debate”

    Well, when climate science is still under debate, this can happen.

    Andrew

  14. Consensus is not a scientific term, but a legal one. The problem is that in recent years the legal approach to determining actions (pile up all the evidence that supports your case – challenge all the evidence that refutes it) has replaced the scientific method of falsification.

    This is part of the scientivism that our Host has noted and is the real problem with scientific research today. We need to reclaim the scientific method by keeping policy decisions separate from the research on which they are based – research driven policy not policy driven research.

    Easier said than done, however…..

    • Steven Mosher

      “Consensus is not a scientific term, but a legal one.”

      if I ask every scientist if the they believe that e = mc^2, then I have data
      that results from this question.

      If I say that 100% of the scientists are in agreement about this question
      is my observational claim about their view

      A) scientific
      B) legal

      If I predict that the next scientist I ask the question will say yes is my
      prediction “testable?” is it falsifiable?

      read more comment less.

      • You should follow your advice to “read more comment less.” Einstein would note that one experiment could disprove his century old theory. No one is being scientific when using “consensus” to argue for a theory.

        As for having the brains needed to understand the “climate change” issues, average people can easily understand the many failures in predictions of climate disasters. Until prediction batting averages improve, climate change will remain an academic debate with little political impact.

      • When scientists wanted to test the truth behind e=mc2, they didn’t take a poll, they conducted experiments. That approach is the valid scientific approach, even today. Anything else borders on religion.

      • Steven Mosher

        Philip

        ‘No one is being scientific when using “consensus” to argue for a theory.”

        read more carefully. that is NOT what I am doing. I am not arguing for the theory based on Consensus. I am NOT claiming it is true, because of consensus.

        The OP made a claim. ‘Consensus is not a scientific TERM’

        I’m questioning ( not asserting) HIS claim.

        HIS claim is different than the argument you are making.

        But lets turn to your argument.

        For the record. Appeals to consensus are not strictly speaking scientific evidence for a theory. Nobody believes in the theory because of the consensus.

        We can, however, justifiably appeal to consensus as a basis for accepting a claim. In other words, I am justified in accepting the theory as true and rely on consensus to do this. You can reject the consensus if you like.

        Understand the difference between having scientific evidence, having a scientific justification and having a justifiable reason to believe. They are different. In short we are reasonable in believing things for which we have no “scientific data”. or in other words scientism is wrong.

        I have no evidence of what the distance to the moon is. None.
        You might point me at literature, but then you are asking me to believe words on a page. words on a page are not scientific data. You might
        point me at data.. but then I have to believe that it was collected accuarately. I can be skeptical of anything.

        However, I am justified in accepting these words on a page. I have no scientific data on the issue. But I am reasonable and justified in relying on experts for my beliefs. You of course are free to disbelieve the received wisdom of the science. you are free to go measure it for yourself.

        In short almost all of the scientific knowledge you think you have is not actually scientific knowledge. It’s what you read. It’s what you choose to believe.. its what is left when you stop doubting.. and you can doubt everything.

      • There’s a nice irony: ‘little political impact’. Why is a referee droning numbers among the stars?
        ================

      • e = mc^2 ?

        No. All science is wrong, silly. There are no equal signs in this Universe. That being said, since all the dudes who either invented, confirmed or bought into e = mc^2 vaporized Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I don’t think it’s wise to cross them.

      • Howard, I knew one of those A-bomb scientists, physicist Carl Christ, who switched fields and became a world-leading econometrician. He was a very nice guy. Christ’s wife told me that, in reaction to the bombing, he changed fields “to do good.” She added, “He hasn’t done good, but he’s done well.” [Pronounced Krist.]

      • “if I ask every scientist if the they believe that e = mc^2, then I have data
        that results from this question.”

        You have data about their beliefs, nothing more.

        When scientists traveled to Africa and South America to collect data to either prove or disprove the theory of relativity, it was with telescopes, filters and photographic plates, not survey cards.

        Following your method would have allowed them to confine their research to a trip to the Royal Society (where support for Einstein’s theory was dubious btw) for a show of hands.

      • If you have an hour and a quarter to spare you could be watching a new low budget, ‘B’ Sci-Fi horror flick that was recently released & the special effects are killer.

        What a picture.

    • It’s not really a legal term, either. Courts play dualling expert witnesses all the time. It’s a political term.

      • Agreed. Mr. Mosher’s study is social or political science. The result of his survey has no effect on the fact of e = mc^2. If he had one subject who answered no (mis-heard the question, likes to give contrary survey answers, etc.) that would not affect the scientific certainty of e = mc^2.
        There are still people who would argue that consensus and surveys are not “scientific” even though they are made up of data points. All predictions are testable, eventually. I’ve got a slip from a fortune cookie that says “your present plans are going to succeed.” It is pinned up in my office, so that I can test its predicition. :)

      • Steven Mosher

        no.

        its a term.

        it has various uses.

      • Steven Mosher

        ask yourself this.

        how many of you believe that e=mc^2 because you did the work?

      • “how many of you believe that e=mc^2 because you did the work?”

        Yes. They way I put it (a bit dramatic but, I insist, true…) is that science is just another religion. One must have faith to believe it as no one can master all disciplines.

      • Nickels: Don’t know if I’d call it a religion, but introduction to Newton’s Laws was exciting; finding that nature was so orderly was a breathtaking experience.

      • @rls
        It is exciting. The fact Kepler and his buddies figured out orbits were conic sections from nothing more than data (as an example) blows my mind :)
        If it is a religion, its definitely my favorite!

      • I don’t believe the Earth exists because I didn’t build it. Baloney? Yup.

      • Mosher has no bullets, just the fly swatter of doubt.

    • I remember back around 1972, when I was an undergraduate physics student being surprised at how simple the derivation of E = mc^2 was. However, 40 years later I would have to look up the derivation again. :)

  15. Heh, ‘multiple lines of evidence’ and he cites the non-cooling stratosphere. What about all the other ‘multiple lines of evidence’ that aren’t so very sure anymore?

    As often, it’s the attribution of warming which is the stumbling block.
    =================

  16. Judith, the consensus on recent (post) 1980s stratospheric cooling is that it is caused by decreasing ozone, not increasing GHGs (their effect would only become visible much later this century).

    Somehow there are many people on all sides of the debate still making this make. Don’t know if that means much for the current state of the debate as well as the knowledge among many supposed experts, warmists, skeptics, but if you want to make a point, making such statements definitely undermines my trust.

    • Jos, thanks for stopping by. For those interested in this topic, a good reference on the uncertainties surrounding stratospheric cooling is given in this Nature perspective http://www.arl.noaa.gov/documents/JournalPDFs/ThompsonEtal.Nature2012.pdf

      • Judy,
        Thanks for the paper on stratoshpheric cooling. Very educational when the links go to science articles rather than angry arguments about motivations.
        Scott

      • Tried several times to bring it up, no luck. Anyone else having a problem with it?

      • Interesting article. A NOAA chart (don’t have the current NOAA link) would indicate it happened abruptly:

        The cooling apparently all happened between 1992 and 1995 with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

        Warwick Hughes has a climate change scorecard that includes the stratospheric trend:
        http://www.warwickhughes.com/hoyt/scorecard.htm

        Is there a more neutral version of this assessment or is it basically accurate?

      • Thanks for that Judith. My point about the stratosphere was based on Seidel et al.’s paper: Seidel, D. J., N. P. Gillett, J. R. Lanzante, K. P. Shine, and P. W. Thorne (2011), Stratospheric temperature trends: our evolving understanding, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2(4), 592–616, doi:10.1002/wcc.125.

        In particular their Figure 5, right-hand frame.

    • Stratosphere-cooling-that was the only thing in the article that caught my eye. Thank you for the into from some one who reads a lot, comments little, because I am forever learning.

    • And here I thought the consensus was represented by the IPCC who stated that stratospheric cooling was a fingerprint – along with the hotspot – of global warming. I guess like all the other fingerprints, when it doesn’t happen you just move the goalposts. The effect of ozone versus anything else is mere guesswork anyway.

  17. There are certainly many more problems with the consensus meme in the public debate then what the author has listed. That it is another politically motivated sound bite that has no empirically driven “science” meaning is the first easy one to focus on. If everyone, or 97%, agree it’s raining outside that doesn’t validate those seeking flood policy (taxes and authority) by the observation. The rain can’t quantify the risk. It doesn’t even validate that those who are experts at noting the rain are the most qualified to decide “what to do” about too much or too little rain. Only in this tiny idiotic and political science culture are such assumptions par for the course. Higher co2 or even some unspecified level of human warming rationalizes nothing. The other schmozelling factor is mixing “human impact” seamlessly into the “co2” human impact. The former is very broad, land use, aerosols, methane and related. This is to draw the highest possible response and segue into co2 rhetoric. The meme handlers know it’s a sound bite for media operatives with the same agenda and the public, most of whom have very limited science logic or highly politicized indoctrination of science at public levels, aren’t looking at the flaws of the sound bite. Many who do understand look away, remain quite for the sake of the bigger political goal. To be sure some are embarrassed by many advocate media tactics but it remains the case that “97%” reflects complete intellectual capitulations of a field of science, climate science, to it’s fully rotted political nature that can’t be objectively defended as having a debate value. Since so much of this is obvious, the willful ignorance of credentialed parties immediately identifies them as partisan agenda holders if such a deceitful attempt to pass off “97%” as seriously meaningful in the public debate. If you start asking specific questions the “consensus” breaks up very quickly as it relates to the political Holy Grail of taxing and controlling carbon interests along the steered memes goals.

    In the broadest way, consensus is the decline of “science” into the political, unverified or unquantified. The unreproducible and politically motivated “opinion” of conflicted “experts” is summarized by the “97%” meme that has been countless times been debunked. It’s flat disinformation to focus alone on the recent manifestations of the Cook paper since this is only a reinforcement of the Doran propaganda article that itself was manufactured to support an “97%” invention of like minded activists. That is isn’t more broadly mocked by those claiming to be scientists is a sad commentary of what people, “scientists”, are willing to compromise to support their underlying political passions. “97%” as the lexicon means is a wholly irrational set of politically motivated aspirations wrapped in authority grasping desires. It’s meant to lie, cheat and steal support from the lesser informed or to reassure those who have already checked their ethics at the door in pursuit of the “cause”. It’s a cousin of the more offensive “denier” which links climate policy dissent to “holocaust deniers” that is steep in anti-Semitic overtones and tactics. In that sense “97%” seals the deal along with “denier” that carbon regulatory lust politics was always more important then any after thought academic “science” had to contribute. So in its own way “97%” is counterproductive to the “cause” and wonderfully simple in identifying the bully, thug and anti-science nature of the core AGW advocate community.

    • Well, yeah.
      ========

    • cwon14 The 97% meme along with the hurled term ‘denier’ gives high sounding rhetoric to those who want cover for actions that would meet with opprobrium otherwise. It also works as a sleight of hand to focus people on irrelevant matters and waste their time. And it gives some people something to say who would otherwise have to remain mute or do a lot of difficult studying.

      • >And it gives some people something to say who would otherwise have to remain mute or do a lot of difficult studying

        It allows the huge majority of MSM journos a free pass to avoid confronting their own scientific illiteracy

  18. will says : In particular, this warming bears temporal and spatial patterns, or “fingerprints”, that point to human causes.

    this news to me ,could you kindly point them out to me ?

    will also says : Scientists, for example, don’t “negotiate” with data. We may re-analyse, reject outliers, replicate, recalibrate, but we do not negotiate. If the thermometer reads 25C, we don’t say, “I’d like 30; how about we settle on 27.5?”

    in light of this http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/what-part-of-this-isnt-clear-3/
    are you intimating the people at nasa are not doing science ?

    • Scientists, for example, don’t “negotiate” with data.
      No they don’t negotiate, but some do torture a whole lot of them datas

  19. On the website Skeptical Science Cook and his colleagues note they “decided that researchers who work and publish on climate science are the right group to ask.” Others have also tried to identify expert credibility in climate science.

    Researchers often find themselves drawn out of their expertise. For instance, Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick study required both an in-depth knowledge of plant-biology and statistics, neither of which was the focus of his training.

    But let’s say that Dr. Mann did make himself a world-class expert in both plant-biology and statistics, would that then make him an expert in climate modeling? He seems to think so.

    We live in an age of expertise, where experts know very little about other domains in the same field of knowledge. For example, jet-engine mechanics are unqualified to touch the navigation system on very same planes they are trained on.

    Personally, I would not get on an aircraft where the engine mechanic was allowed a voice in how the navigation system was configured. So then why would I listen to a climate scientist voice an opinion about climatic warming attribution when that is not their area of expertise?

    I’d rather listen to a “civilian” who has studied the literature.

  20. I would like to know the “consensus” on how the chances of getting grant money vary if you are “in” or “out” of said consensus? Can I get a job at the EPA if I do not think CO2 should be classified/regulated? You gotta drink the Koolaid if you want to play……

  21. Like most of us, I was already aware of the to-ing and fro-ing between Cook and Tol. Is that mentioned to illustrate the obvious fact that disagreements exist, and that no consensus is pure? Or is mentioning Tol a way of being conciliatory and skeptic-friendly? Cook’s 97% claim is frequently offered as a prime example of manipulation and junk scholarship; here it just gets a nice little airing, with the fuzzily expressed objection that crystallographers or even non-scientists may contribute (as well as the 97%?), or that public perception of “consensus” may be different to Cook’s. Or something.

    What concerns me deeply are these words, which affirm and support the very things skeptics oppose:

    “This to-ing and fro-ing might give the impression that climate science is somehow still under debate, but the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting.”

    Get that, skepo? Overwhelming…and mounting!

    For the connoisseurs of insinuation among us, note how we go from:

    “…but the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting.”

    to the vaguely conciliatory:

    “We are of course currently conducting the experiment that will prove whether humans cause global warming…” (Note the injection of “prove” and avoidance of “whether or NOT”. Good one!)

    So we’re definitely causing climate change – scientific evidence being overwhelming and mounting – but not sure if we’re causing warming? Or just waiting for proof of the latter? Or was it just considered polite and old-style Enlightenment to extend some uncertainty or flexibility – as that familiar warmist dogma is rammed home hard once again.

    I think we’re being handled here.

    • I like the way he understands that warming might be a good thing. Once he snaps to the fact that a warmer world sustains more total life and more diversity of life, he’ll be on his way, fingers intact.
      ================================

      • Kim, I get the impression he’s throwing us a pretty meatless bone there.

        The non-science bit which might be “good” or might be “bad”? (Mmm, I’m guessing “bad” is going to win that toss when we’re nicely softened up.)

        As for pretending that the Holocene is not one long continuum of major and minor temp, ice and sea level fluctuations…

        I’d call that “non-science”. And it’s definitely “bad”.

    • I have a more fundamental quibble with the statement “the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting”. “People are causing climate change” is so vague as to be nonsensical. Arguably, if the human race suddenly vanished in a great extinction, a climate shift could ensue due to massive changes in land use, uncontrolled forest fires, etc. But that is not the question on the table. The so-called “consensus” is that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has a measurable causal influence on the natural fluctuations that have existed for millennia. That, presumably, is a testable hypothesis and the evidence is far from overwhelming. Indeed the ‘signal’ is so close to the noise that a reasonable null hypothesis–that natural fluctuations still dominate–has not been disproven (see Prof. Curry’s many entries on attribution). Simply citing a changing arctic or millimeters per year sea level rise is not sufficient to prove a causal relationship. Finding a proper, and repeatable causal relationship that one can actually explain is the gold standard of science. But it takes a lot of hard work to sort fact from fantasy; analyzing buckets full of scientific abstracts will not replace the need for hard work.

      • I think most must know that Arctic ice has been low before (MWP, early 1800s, 1920s onwards); that sea level rise (this blip) started in the late 1700s; and that this current warming looks like every other warming in that great wave series of warming and cooling called the Holocene.

        How do you see a special fingerprint or exotic causation in something dead common? If Arctic ice and world temps ever stabilised, if sea levels ever went static…now that would be seriously weird.

        Why are we expected to marvel over the non-weird?

      • mosomoso

        it seems to be a full time job for climate researchers to make the ordinary look extraordinary.

        Your govt can help -as can ours-by introducing proper history lessons and combining them with geography, so our children (and many Adults) can see that they are getting themselves into a panic by believing that we are living in extraordinary and dangerous times.
        tonyb

  22. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Will Howard amusingly wrote

    “Scientists, for example, don’t “negotiate” with data. We may re-analyse, reject outliers, replicate, recalibrate, but we do not negotiate. If the thermometer reads 25C, we don’t say, “I’d like 30; how about we settle on 27.5?”

    [Tom Wigley, to Phil Jones and Ben Santer]
    “Phil, Here are some speculations on correcting SSTs to partly explain the 1940s warming blip. If you look at the attached plot you will see that the land also shows the 1940s blip (as I’m sure you know). So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 degC, then this would be significant for the global mean — but we’d still have to explain the land blip. I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of these). When you look at other blips, the land blips are 1.5 to 2 times (roughly) the ocean blips — higher sensitivity plus thermal inertia effects. My 0.15 adjustment leaves things consistent with this, so you can see where I am coming from. Removing ENSO does not affect this. It would be good to remove at least part of the 1940s blip, but we are still left with “why the blip”.

    “Maybe I’m misinterpreting what you’re saying, but the adjustments won’t reduce the 1940s
    blip but enhance it. It won’t change the 1940-44 period, just raise the 10 years after Aug
    45.”

    • Excellent example, notgoodtogo, and better than the Marcott story, which I will mention, anyway.

      Marcott’s PhD thesis which showed cooling for 7,000 years was apparently not alarmist enough for publication, so he used a “trick” to hide the decline.

      http://climateaudit.org/2013/03/17/hiding-the-decline-the-md01-2421-splice/

    • Matthew R Marler

      thisisnotgoodtogo: good example

    • Interesting – I hadn’t heard Climategate was also wanting to reduce sea-warming! Wasn’t the early to mid 40s a time of high sunspot numbers? In which case this might fit in with something I saw recently about a paper saying that UV can warm oceans deeper than other radiation.

      The paper seemed to be implying that the El Ninos and AMO aren’t just moving heat around, but adding to it on a lagged cycle to sunspots.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        There is a problem in that temperature measurements were taken in different ways through the years ( earlier by hauling buckets of water up, later taken through ship porting systems) and because of war time problems.
        However when they were countenancing doing such adjustments, they were doing the exact thing that WR says doesn’t happen. They didn’t have hard information on when changes occured or what the differences should be.

        They merely were negotiating the facts to get what they wanted to get without leaving anything odd sticking out that would be identified by outsiders.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Note WIgley’s approving remark that making a small change in ocean temp changes the global mean appreciably downward.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo,

        Indeed. Similarly, I was thinking that a small bit of UV getting through during sunspot activity could mean the oceans don’t just move existing heat around but could give a relatively large increase to mean surface temp – which messes up the Trenberth-Energy-Budget and warmists can claim is due to carbon-dioxide.

  23. The Guardian has a piece discussing the results of the Environmental Science & Technology paper by Verheggen et al. I couldn´t access the paper, but the article has data posted about the excessive coverage given to “fringe global warming contrarians”. I took Nuciteli´s data and prepared a graph showing the extremists (what they call “strong” believers) were getting more coverage than the moderates.

    I wrote a brief (and tongue in cheek) analysis about it, but I left it fairly neutral. However, I bet if I can data mine the original Verheggen data I can show BOTH extremes are getting much more media coverage. And somewhere in the middle is the silent majority.

    • Fernendo, good point. Highlights the problem of “who” to believe. How do you decide who is a “fringe global warming contrarian”?

  24. Consensus, whether scientific or otherwise, is a psycho social phenomena ala http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making , Perhaps what was meant was convergence. It is hard to see how one could quantify consensus as suggested here. Certainly not by simply purportedly measuring whether a study was pro or con. One would need to analyze whether each paper suggested a new line of support, not just the aggregate of reports, and perhaps some kind of weighting. But then how to interpret the convenient 97% meme. It would seem the conflation of the two concepts provides the 97% number a sense that the scientific findings are 97% supportive rather than more a simple opinion poll. But the Cook study itself does not seem to support this interpretation.

  25. “We are of course currently conducting the experiment that will prove whether humans cause global warming, in the uncontrolled planet-wide release of greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Does this “experiment” postulate that there are no natural processes which can cause global temperature to increase?

    • “Does this “experiment” postulate that there are no natural processes which can cause global temperature to increase?”

      No not at all. But the main variable humans are able to manipulate is the radiative properties of the atmosphere (and the land surface as well). I say it is “uncontrolled” not in the sense that our emissions are “out of control.” Indeed we could stop them now, if we were willing to stop our economies (which I am not suggesting we do!). I say it’s “uncontrolled” in the experimental sense that we do not have a “control” planet on which the only variable is GHG emissions. Indeed the natural processes are part of that lack of “control.”

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      WR Howard said
      “I say it’s “uncontrolled” in the experimental sense that we do not have a “control” planet on which the only variable is GHG ..”

      Unfortunately that s not at all what you wrote, WR Howard!

      In whole, you said
      “We are of course currently conducting the experiment that will prove whether humans cause global warming, in the uncontrolled planet-wide release of greenhouse gas emissions.”

      You did not say
      “We are of course currently conducting the uncontrolled experiment that will prove whether humans cause global warming, in the planet-wide release of greenhouse gas emissions.”

  26. Science works by curiosity, from which everything mistakenly taken as basic follows.

    There’s no curiosity in climate science, for a good reason.

    Stamping out curiosity is its method.

    • Luci in the sky…

      http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1882969,00.html

      Darwin said he would change his mind today about evolution, once he had discovered DNA, or something like it. Where is the money in that? If you can’t prove it we still must teach it to you for the kids sake.

    • Stamping out curiosity. Consensusitivity.
      Now what was the IPCC brief??

      • Beth – obviously the local Pangloss has declared nothing can be know for any benefit by any means – unless of course you do all the experiments yourself, all the calculations, build all the equipment – shoot – I bet he can’t even drive a car unless he turned all the part on a lathe and assembled them himself! So obviously, curiosity of of no use whatsoever.

      • A serf saying J2, ‘Yer don’t hafta hav built the wind mill
        ter know which way the wind is blowing.’ … Or yer can’t
        make a genuine hockey stick from jest a coupla trees.

  27. As usual the article discusses the basics but never brings up ANY contra-indicating arguments, as if they are non-existent. This is par for the course. It comes off as “this what we know…” but never gets within a mile of “this is where we might be wrong…” or “this is what we don’t know yet…”.

    This is mostly demonstrated by this content free statement:

    “it may be too late to mitigate the impacts.”

    There is no exactness extractable from the word “may” and no definition of “impacts”. This could range from the failure to prevent seas from rising 12 inches instead of 8 over the next century to the failure to prevent 30% of species going extinct. Who knows? But IT MIGHT BE TOO LATE!!!!!! We must ACT NOW!!!!!! Because something might happen……sometime….that will affect somebody….and we are 97% sure of this. Thanks for the science lesson.

    It also goes into a defensive argument against the pause (Cowtan and Way), but never even mentions why this discussion would be relevant….as in potential big problems with the models running too hot.

    Science is a two sided examination of the evidence that supports and contradicts a theory. What we have here is biased journalism.

    • “Reports that say there’s — that something hasn’t happened is always interesting to me, because as we know there are known knowns; there are things that we know we know. We also know that there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

      Donald Rumsfeld

      Hmm sounds to me like that’s where climate science and terrorist access to WMD meet.

    • Actually the basis for my “may be too late to mitigate” comment is my understanding of many of the long-time-constant processes in the climate system. So my view is we are “locking in” some climate change, for good or ill, that we will not be able to turn around easily. My own policy preference is to 1) start increasing our investments in non-fossil-fuel energy technology, esp. nuclear, NOW, and especially in the developing world where the big growth in emissions is occurring. People in those countries need energy and they will access coal if it’s the cheapest and most accessible source. So we better get them something cheaper than coal.

      2) Bring a price on carbon, starting low, and offsetting it at the most “regressive” parts of the tax system (in the US Social Security taxes). This is so low-income people are not forced into energy poverty. Use some of the revenue for greater investment in energy R&D.

      3) Put far more effort into climate adaptation, both to manage impacts of anthropogenic climate change, and to manage impacts of naturally-driven climate change. This would include, for example, greater emphasis of drought-proofing agriculture and urban water infrastructure.

      • So what is it we are too late to mitigate? Specifically, with a time frame. Otherwise your “what” is about as scary as the boogieman.

      • After 100 years of CO2 emissions, the corn crop will be a record and other food plants are doing well. The only problems with sea level isn’t the sea level, it’s subsidence. We’re not having record numbers or sizes of hurricanes and tornadoes. Fewer people around the world are starving and that gets better every year. According to satellite data, global temps haven’t risen in almost 2 decades in spite of increasing CO2 levels. Arctic ice is rebounding and Antarctic ice is at record levels (but it’s not known if it’s UNPRECEDENTED.)

        OTOH, electricity prices in many countries is higher due to “green” energy. The government is giving away money for “green” energy that could be put to better use. Coal companies, already suffering due to bountiful and cheap natural gas, are laying off people.

        So, down which path do problems lie?

      • Well these are all reasonable assertions. I’m all for R&D into clean energy and what really makes this thing work will be making clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels. We aren’t there yet but progress is being made.

        The developing world is where the action is, and where the cost factor is the most sensitive. We will never stop coal use there without providing a more economical clean alternative. The western world can help most by developing better technology, not taxing its own emissions.

        A straight up carbon tax is a regressive tax, and unfortunately the “fix” for this is effectively income redistribution. For this reason it stands almost no chance of getting through Congress. New taxes are already anathema
        to the right, coal state Democrats will reject a carbon tax, and there is no trust the government would execute this wealth transfer “fairly”, as most on the left would push for this to additionally be a fix for income inequality. DOA, but it is an interesting thought experiment. A US only carbon tax also won’t do much for global emissions.

        It has always been curious to me why politicians frame some infrastructure improvements around climate change. This really poisons the well politically. You are more likely to get support on simple straight up infrastructure improvements.

        The “may be too late to mitigate” was a misunderstanding, but could have been made clearer in the text. This phrase sounds like the “we must act before it is too late” meme and that was my mental connection. Possibly phrasing it as “many of the potential impacts may already be locked in due to the long term sequestration of carbon in the atmosphere forcing us into adaption instead of mitigation” or such could make it more clear.

      • The reason we should put emphasis on drought-proofing agriculture and urban water infrastructure is to anticipate a repeat of 1902 for Australian agriculture and 1888 for urban water supply in Sydney…to name the most extreme years. (I’ll leave the late 1830s and early 1790s out of this, for lack of precise data.) And while heat and fire conditions in 2009 were plenty scary, 1851, 1896 and 1939 (this latter a La Nina!) were as bad or worse.

        I’m not sure there even was a price put on carbon in the bad years before My Sharona topped the charts. Those old pre-satellite gaffers just waited for the climate to change again – which it did. However they knew about dams, controlled burns, improved strains/breeds/practices etc. The result was us.

        But it can be very hard to get climate change experts to take the slightest interest in actual climate change. Which is odd, when you think about it.

      • Well these points are quite reasonable and I think most skeptics would not disagree – in fact they often bring them up as talking points. The exception is point 2 which is arguably unnecessary. Most skeptics of dangerous manmade climate change often argue that cheap nuclear energy is a vital development, but that fear of AGW has driven investment in renewable energy that will never realistically be able to meet the demand of future energy needs.

        I recently did some back of envelope calculations to try and get some sense of scale of the problem. If we assume that the UN is correct and the population will top out at around 11 billion by 2050-60, and we assume all 11 billion should have access to an equal share of total world energy production, and we further assume that we manage to somehow make 25% energy efficiency gains, then roughly speaking we will need to produce 4 times more energy than the we do at the moment.

        To gain some perspective on how much that is, current world energy production is roughly equivalent to about the amount of sunlight falling on an area of the earth more than 90 times the size of the United Kingdom. Trying to imagine that we 1) can harvest 100% of sunlight (solar PV is between 6-20% efficient solar thermal is somewhat better but very expensive) 2) manage to transport that energy (you can only really realistically transport electricity about 300 miles before you use more energy moving it than you are delivering) and then times that by 4, seems an utterly unrealistic proposition. Even accounting for other types such as hydro and geothermal, you still have the transport problem, and the fact that they are a localized solution.

        The scale of the energy issue is such that any realistic solution will have to dwarf anything that can be achieved with renewables to the point they become irrelevant. I would argue that fear of CAGW has undermined societies ability to move away from fossil fuels – as surely it must do anyway.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        WR said

        “So we better get them something cheaper than coal.”
        You’re kind. You also support a reasonable plan for nukes, for what can be done to some extent.
        But what is happening is Obama is forging an international ban on loans for coal fired plants. It’s not as if he’s going to build nukes for them.

        So keeping the poor in the dark is the Green plan. They have the money and lobbyists.

        Dark and poor it will be.
        .

      • Tom Scharf,

        “phrasing it as “many of the potential impacts may already be locked in due to the long term sequestration of carbon in the atmosphere forcing us into adaption instead of mitigation” or such could make it more clear.”

        Yeah fair enough. The Conversation has this algorithm that processes your text and tells you what level your writing is at (uh oh the grammar cops are already all over me ending a sentence with a preposition). It’s supposed to be at a 9th or 10th grade level. The editors had already critiqued an earlier draft saying it read too academic.

      • Agnostic writes “The scale of the energy issue is such that any realistic solution will have to dwarf anything that can be achieved with renewables to the point they become irrelevant. I would argue that fear of CAGW has undermined societies ability to move away from fossil fuels”

        This is a good point. I think people have not gotten their minds around the scale of the energy problem. A major contradiction that environmentalists and Green politicians have not resolved is the fear of CAGW runs into the wall of their blanket opposition to nuclear power. If you really think climate change is that catastrophic, then surely you would support a nearly carbon-less energy source. Right? Wrong.

        So we are left with offering billions of people energy poverty – in other words, poverty – with renewable energy options that at the moment remain to be scaled up and made cost-effective. I think renewables and solar are becoming more scalable and lower cost, but not fast enough. The intermittency problem remains a problem too until storage and grid technology catch up.

        I mentioned my perspective is partly informed by my understanding of some of the long time constants in the earth-climate system. So for people worried about the long half-lives of nuclear waste products, if they’re that worried about CO2, what about the 10^4 year mean lifetime of anthropogenic CO2?

    • This is a good example of why I don’t read The Conversation, which has very strict boundaries on what appears. I applied to be a contributor before it began, no hope.

    • @ Tom Scharf

      “it may be too late to mitigate the impacts.”

      “This is mostly demonstrated by this content free statement:”

      Exactly! Content free, except for the axiomatic acceptance of the existence of impacts that demand mitigation.

      What he meant to say was ‘It may be too late to mitigate the impacts. Or not. If any.’

      Still content free, but more appropriate to the data in hand.

  28. This guest post is interesting after reading Professor Curry’s “97% feud” post that left me with the impression that the original consensus paper was a politically motivated hit piece. That may be overly blunt and a misread, but that’s how I took it. It may be because I got to Curry’s blog by following the discourse around the USHCN data concerns much celebrated by skeptical commentators. But I digress.

    When it comes to climate science, this layman sees the conflation of science and policy discussion has been frustrating for everyone. It comes down to what scope of policy is appropriate given the current state of the science? Those who see AGW evidence as clear feel we’re long overdue for decisive action, while the so called skeptics find such action unwarranted given the state of the science.

    My main problem is while the scientific skepticism is necessary and healthy, the skeptics don’t appear to have a competing model. I’ve yet to come across an alternate explanation for the warming trend that couldn’t be convincingly refuted by the Grist series “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic” or someone at Real Climate. Most commentary is somewhat reminiscent of Ken Ham trying to debunk pieces of the vast evidence supporting evolutionary theory; it has more to do with the speakers apparent lack of understanding of the evidence than a genuine lack of diligence in confirming its veracity. Again, in my limited view of having been convinced the costs of action are fairly negligible (which I won’t ramble on further here) the risk reward calculation seems obvious.

    So what’s a layman to do? It seems all we get to do is read about the fighting and hope our environment can wait until we get over ourselves. After a while, reading political skeptics gives one a real feeling of despair. That even if the science was crystal clear the competing interests will never allow action to occur. Reading some of the healthy skepticism on Curry’s blog and elsewhere has at least given me hope the scientific community is still in better shape than the politicos.

    • I don’t find the competing model argument very persuasive. One can show a model is not fit for its purpose without providing an alternative model. The obvious competing model is one that forcings other than CO2 play a bigger role than estimated in the current models, i.e. sensitivity is too high in the models.

      Many skeptics argue that climate science really doesn’t know as much as portrayed in the media, and the uncertainty in effects and outcomes is anything but clear. Endless examples of overstatements by activists can be found, and the AGW advocates seem to believe these shouldn’t matter. Well credibility does matter.

      The next argument is whether a predicted ~1.5C rise in temperatures over the 21st century will lead to dangerous outcomes. This is counter-intuitive, and the alleged dangerous outcomes I have examined (sea level rise, extinctions, climate refugees, extreme events, etc.) do not have very strong science behind them. Your opinion may vary, but it sure seems speculative to me.

      Ultimately probably the biggest issue is the lack of viable policy solutions. Getting a handle on global emissions with the rapid rise of Asia may be close to impossible. Asking for sacrifices from citizens for a solution that is known to be ineffective on a global scale is doomed to failure for good reasons.

      • OK, I’ll repeat I’m a layman, so almost by definition my opinions are going to be speculative from a scientific perspective. That said, maybe I’m misusing “model” because you hit the nail on the head regarding my meaning when you say the obvious alternative is “forcings other than CO2 play a bigger role”. Why is it obvious? Which forcings? Why is it a better explanation than CO2? Not that I expect you to break it all down here, but this is my dilemma. Every alternate I’ve seen, solar variance, volcanoes, etc. seem to have been thoroughly explored. Again, since it’s not my job I can’t say for sure. I only know what I’ve seen.

        As for overstatements, I feel this is again conflating the scientific with the political. I can easily find overstatements of every position imaginable. To say that people overstate things on matters scientific doesn’t support or reject any scientific argument. As an aside, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit a paywall when I try to view a paper cited by a political article (see: this blog post). Not that I have time to read them all.

        I do feel that the speed and scale of effects of warming are very much up for debate. Getting back to credibility, it’s easy to see there are too many people willing to attribute any natural disaster to climate change, but sometimes you hear from those in the field (I’m thinking of a particular interviewee in the midst of wildfires) that don’t want to jump to that conclusion and yet seem strongly inclined to think climate is a factor. Point being, there are a lot of things happening that may be due to one off, localized factors, or could be explained by overall climate change. At some point Occam’s Razor has to play into things.

        But I can definitely agree on the lack of policy solutions. How do you discuss a solution when you can’t agree on the problem? That’s the other side of my problem/bias. I feel the objections have a strong link to aversion to government action. Even with CO2 taken as the true cause, I don’t know what the libertarian minded solution is. I don’t think they have one. So it’s easier to see AGW as a liberal conspiracy than determine what to do about it. Maybe that view just betrays my lack of objectivity. At the end of the day someone like me doesn’t have a say in policy anyway. And we wonder why people hate politics.

      • Tom: The concerns of skeptics is that there is too much uncertainty regarding the climate. Dr. Curry, in a presentation to the American Physics Association, described some of the uncertainty.

      • Sorry. That should have been to John

      • Solar variance that we don’t yet understand.
        ===========

      • John M,

        Climate models make many assumptions, and the biggest one is that the warming from carbon is amplified through a positive feedback loop to create an affect that is about 300% the affect from carbon in “plain physics”, or first order effects. This is really the most contentious part of the models, and yet to be proven. Another example is that a warming world may create more cloud cover that reduces the warming, a negative feedback loop. They simply don’t know the answers….yet.

        Something is obviously causing warming, but unscrambling the eggs is pretty much impossible with the observations we have. We really only have a few decades of good observational information and we likely need at least a 100 years. “Something” also caused a good bit of warming in the first half of the 20th century, and it wasn’t CO2. They think it is aerosol related, but they also don’t have good information on what the global aerosols were like in that period. So they guess, with pretty limited info. They think deep ocean warming may be responsible for some of the pause, but the models don’t even model this behavior at all.

        Carbon plays a role, but it is vitally important to know how big this role is. They don’t know the answer, and the observations vs. models suggests this role is smaller than originally thought. We need more data though and all we can do is wait.

        The overstatements in the media are presented as “the science”. That is the problem and that is why “the science” loses credibility, when in many cases, the science says no such thing.

        When examining extreme events, one must first establish a correlation that an event is actually getting worse over time. In most cases this is simply not true (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts). When this correlation has been found you must then establish causation which is much harder. Wildfires have many causes such as land management and improper fire prevention techniques, but I am no expert here.

        Worldview definitely influences policy preference. A view that the government can barely tie its shoes leads one to believe they would be incompetent in actually solving this very hard problem if tasked to do so. Right wing paranoia comes from the belief it is the same people who were already pre-disposed to bigger govt and heavy environmental regulation that have co-opted AGW for their previous pet causes. True in some cases, but not all.

        Bottom line is we have a vague picture about some vague risks and the right course to proceed on looks pretty vague to me.

      • @ John M

        >As an aside, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit a paywall when I try to view a paper cited by a political article …

        Not an aside, John. A very, very sore point indeed. If one were to purchase every “significant” paper hidden behind a paywall, one could easily become the most informed bankrupt in the country

      • @ John M

        “That said, maybe I’m misusing “model” because you hit the nail on the head regarding my meaning when you say the obvious alternative is “forcings other than CO2 play a bigger role”. Why is it obvious? Which forcings? Why is it a better explanation than CO2? ”

        Like you, I am a ‘layman’, but I agree with what Tom Scharf said above: pointing out that a theory is faulty imposes no requirement that the pointer provide a ‘better’ theory.

        But in an earlier post you said: ‘My main problem is while the scientific skepticism is necessary and healthy, the skeptics don’t appear to have a competing model.”

        Keeping in mind that while I am a skeptic, I am NOT a scientist, climate or otherwise, here is my competing model:

        Historically, climate has varied dramatically, over all time scales examined, with or without anthropogenic input.

        The climate is usually represented as the ‘Annual Temperature of the Earth (TOE)’ and is tracked closely, with Climate Science claiming to be capable of measuring it with hundredths of a degree precision over millennia (or in some recent reports, millidegree precision). The rising TOE is what is being reported as the symptom of AGW and evidence of looming catastrophe. I am skeptical that we have had an instrumentation system in place for the past three or four centuries that is capable of measuring the ‘TOE’ with hundredths of a degree precision, but nevertheless let us continue.

        The TOE record, ignoring arguments over the plausibility of its precision, shows that in the past there have been extended periods during which the TOE was warmer than that of today and other periods during which it was colder, both occurring when ACO2 was not even arguably a factor.

        Reading the literature on climate related sites such as this one has led me to the conclusion that there are a large number of physical processes going on which affect the ‘climate’ and likely some important ones that we are not yet aware of, and that Climate Science, writ large, does not have a good understanding of how they all interact to produce the ‘TOE’. It doesn’t matter; for Climate Science it’s CO2, all the way down.

        The Climate Science that I see permeating society, through our schools, K through grad school, the media, and government has simply decreed, as an axiom rather than a theory, that ACO2 is the ‘knob’ that controls the TOE and that it is imperative that it be controlled through a combination of taxation and regulation of fossil fuel use. Its models are developed with that axiom firmly in the driver’s seat.

        The official theory is supported by billions of dollars worth of curve fitting and data adjusting which produced a warming trend of a degree or so over the last odd century or two. The TOE data is now augmented by satellite data, which herds of experts have examined over the last couple of decades and can’t come to an agreement as to whether the slope of the satellite trend line is positive or negative, never mind agreeing upon the influence of ACO2.

        So here is my theory: Current climate, however defined, is well within the bounds of historical climate extreme and there is no reason to postulate that anthropogenic activities, including the introduction of ACO2, have a dominate influence on it, there is no pressing need for governments to establish climate change policies, and no evidence that the policies being demanded by the ‘experts’ would have a measurable influence on the climate if adopted and enforced.

        As for the influence of CO2, supposedly the ‘knob that controls the Earth’s thermostat’, here is one data point that I have relevant to that proposition:

        Since we have been monitoring atmospheric CO2 it has been increasing monotonically. The curve is concave upward. Over the same time frame the TOE has had periods during which it was trending upward, others where the trend was downward. Currently CO2 is at its highest level since we began monitoring it, while the TOE has remained statistically flat for the last couple of decades. From this I conclude that if CO2 is the control knob for the TOE is is a singularly ineffective one and that anything we do to ‘control greenhouse gasses (i. e. CO2) is unlikely to have any measurable impact on the climate, however defined.

        As Tony has often said, once you have unambiguously confirmed that we have a ‘climate change problem’, call me; then we’ll talk solutions. Until then, the if the actions that have been taken so far to ‘halt global warming’ have had ANY measurable impacts they have been negative and unrelated to the TOE. Is there any evidence that if we ‘double down’ the success rate will improve?

      • I don’t find the competing model argument very persuasive. One can show a model is not fit for its purpose without providing an alternative model.

        True, and a very valid point. Wegner pointed out that the model of “stable, laterally non-mobile continents” wasn’t fit for purposes that included examining the coastlines of Africa and South America. But note that nothing ever happened about it until a valid competing model (plate tectonics) came to be found persuasive.

        The obvious competing model is one that forcings other than CO2 play a bigger role than estimated in the current models, i.e. sensitivity is too high in the models.

        Maybe obvious to somebody who doesn’t understand Chaos Theory. To me, and AFAIK most who do understand, the “obvious competing model” is natural internal variation.

      • AK,

        “natural internal variation”….that’s what I mean when I say “other forcings” which include natural internal forcings. I guess i wasn’t clear on this point and maybe forcings is the wrong word.

      • @ AK

        “True, and a very valid point. Wegner pointed out that the model of “stable, laterally non-mobile continents” wasn’t fit for purposes that included examining the coastlines of Africa and South America. But note that nothing ever happened about it until a valid competing model (plate tectonics) came to be found persuasive.”

        I would also add that the whole plate tectonics vs stable continent ‘controversy’ only existed inside a small subset of the geology community, itself a VERY small subset of the population at large, and that which theory was correct had ZERO impact on the everyday lives of the average citizen.

        Not so, with ACO2 driven climate change. If all we we were doing were arguing science, no one, including me, would care a whit, beyond idle curiosity.

        But climate catastrophe driven by ACO2 is being touted as an existential threat to the entire biosphere and is being used to justify government takeover of every human activity that either produces or consumes energy. Furthermore, based on personal observation, the drive to ‘stop climate change’ is almost exclusively a child of the progressives and based on the same personal observations, their track record in the past when given total control does not inspire confidence.

      • maybe forcings is the wrong word.

        Definitely!

        For that matter, the whole idea of “forcings” is a myth. They only work if you make assumptions that don’t really (always) apply to hyper-complex non-linear systems.

        But even given their vague meaning, “forcings” are from outside the system under investigation. Internal variation isn’t.

      • I have to say it’s refreshing to see a discussion of healthy skeptics. It’s funny to me to search the page for ‘statist’ and it only return instances of ‘statistics’ :)

        As a general response, I do understand burden of proof sufficiently to know that criticizing a model doesn’t require a competing model per se. My issue is there doesn’t seem to be a genuine dispute that a general warming is occuring and climate scientists seem to have a coherent explanation supported by multiple lines of evidence. Moreover, many arguments against that model (multitude of models?) are reminicient of the “missing link” often criticized in debates on evolutionary theory. Now I do shudder when said explanation is stretched far beyond its’ limits by political activists to explain every extreme weather event and beyond, but I’m trying to get away from the politics. At this point the politics are a lost cause; polarization would resist 99.999% certainty at this point. Point being, for me personally, human CO2 emissions are the best explanation for the warming available and saying it isn’t without a better explanation isn’t compelling to me.

        @Tom Scharf

        I appreciate the assertion that the assumptions in climate models go too far, though I’m not sure if I can comprehend it at your level to say. It seems to me that natural phenomena have been accounted for in the modeling and the marginalization of such factors as suspects is reflected in the increasing certainty of the model estimates. In fact this goes to the heart of my dilemma that as much as I’d like to be evidence based in my thinking, at some point my personal capability may not be sufficient to make such judgments. At times it seems like an article of faith as to who one trusts in these matters. That is in my view one of the biggest problems with the climate debate.

        @Bob Ludwick

        I understand the idea of ACO2 as a ‘knob’ controlling the TOE, but feel the idea is misplaced. The climate models certainly account for many of the myriad of things that can affect the TOE. True they will never account for everything, but classical physics was very useful in most areas of life before the theory of relativity. That’s not to say climate science has come so far. It merely serves to illustrate that scientific understanding can serve us even as we have more to learn. I believe the understanding we have is sufficient to justify action even as my comfort with the actions most often proposed isn’t high. But as you can see in my reply to Tom, I don’t know that my position is quite as evidence based as I would prefer.

        Anyway, I want to thank everyone for their thoughtful, and respectful, replies. It’s renewed my faith (heh) in the idea of a community of intelligent skeptics that genuinely seek truth, insofar as is ever scientifically possible, rather than simply the bitter opponents of government action that I’ve come to view as the status quo. I truly respect that spirit of restraint in judgment which is necessary for scientific inquiry. While that will help scientific endeavor maintain its’ integrity, I hope it doesn’t also condemn us to inaction on problems of extraordinary scope.

    • Steven Mosher

      “So what’s a layman to do? It seems all we get to do is read about the fighting and hope our environment can wait until we get over ourselves. After a while, reading political skeptics gives one a real feeling of despair. That even if the science was crystal clear the competing interests will never allow action to occur. ”

      yep. when faced with increased taxes and some form of global governance /monitoring, rest assured that even the most scientific skeptic will resort to prolonged debate and re debate over the science before they accept a hit to their pocketbook. THEY are in it for the gold, keeping their gold.

      • Of course they want to keep their gold, or at least most of it. I believe there is a consensus that poverty sucks.

      • We are in it for keeping our gold, when spending our gold results in nothing useful being accomplished. But you are free to donate as much of your gold to the cause as you wish. Do let us know how much extra additional taxes you send in every year.

        Explain how with current emission trends in the US and Asia that implementing a US carbon tax will have a material effect on global temperature increases through the 21st century. I suppose a US leads and others will follow argument can be made, but so far that hasn’t worked with either Europe or Australia.

        The recent decline in US emissions somehow occurred without either global governance or environmental carbon taxation (the only hammer most environmentalists know exists).

        When Asia is on board, call me. Until then the only effective answer is to make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels.

      • Mosher evidently doesn’t want to keep his gold, if I interpret his comment correctly. ;)

        Leave it on the park (where sincerely sincere nature-loving people are sure to leave it alone) bench and I’ll pick it up in the morning.

        Andrew

      • Moshpit
        Alternatives to spendiing our increased taxes on carbon reductions and opposition to global governance abound. I vote desalination plants in CA, dam removal on silted up old dams blocking salmon recovery, R&D on fusion, advanced photovoltaics development, roof top solar plus parking lot shade solar and lots of things before global governance and carbon reductions.
        Scott

      • Lost pieces of opportunity gold.

        Gad, I wanted pieces of eight in there.
        ==========

      • Steven Mosher

        nothing wrong about being in it for the gold. all skeptics are.
        i take issue with them when they criticize others for being in it for their gold.

        see how wrong bad andrew gets things.
        bad skeptic.

      • Yo, AGW is so yesterday man…

        http://www.space.com/26811-dangerous-asteroid-earth-defense-plan.html

        the Neo threat is claiming your corner as I type.
        See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya…

      • I am not surprised that the United Nations is also going to gave us from extraterrestrial danger.

        The real threat is AGI: Anthropological Global Insanity induced by unreported CHAOS and FEAR if nuclear annihilation in late August 1945:

        https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10640850/CHAOS_and_FEAR_August_1945.pdf

        Formation of the United Nations was in response to CHAOS and FEAR two months later

      • I am not surprised that the United Nations is also going to save us from extraterrestrial danger.

      • Well, if we are arguing about follow the money…

        http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/legislative_reports/fcce-report-to-congress.pdf

        $21,408 billion in climate related funding (mostly clean energy) with $2,658 billion in climate change research (USGCRP).

        In 1988 the spending for USGCRP or similar program was approximately zero ($0.00 billion).

        http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=8af3d005-1337-4bc3-bcd6-be947c523439

        $7.9 billion from environmental groups.

        There’s gold in that there weather.

        It would seem there is significant incentive to be less than completely honest about the climate in the last two centuries and the forces driving it.

        If there is an incentive to be less than completely honest – some people will be less than completely honest.

        And a comment about the consensus, there is a legal adage:
        “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

        The people predicting catastrophic global warming have been pounding the table (consensus) rather desperately lately.

      • Your comma fell off the edge of the Atlantic.
        ==========

      • Heh, your trillion dollar hammers broke the table. That’s the cost of this fiasco.
        ==============

      • Why would I want to make the effort of earning money when Mosher has no sensible plan for spending it after taxing it all out of me ?

        Again, vomitous tosh from Mosher. At least it’s not “cryptic”, this time

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        It’s good to get an admission from Mosher that the BEST team did what they did for the money.

      • Happy to invest Mosher if you can tell me how much it will cost per degree to reduce the global mean temperature, if taxation in the US alone can yield that return on investment, and what do will it cost to raise the global mean temperature if we screw up and overshoot on reducing it. Thanks in advance for the details.

      • It’s keeping our gold, keeping our freedom, keeping the USA great, keeping the USA economy rolling along, thus helping the poor and everyone else, and keeping government small. We can adapt a lot with a booming economy and wealth. You can see how well poor countries adapt.

        So, the choice is clear.

      • Mosher,

        It’s not often that I think that you’re talking utter nonsense. But this is one of those times.

        “nothing wrong about being in it for the gold. all skeptics are.”

        Perhaps this is a joke, and you haven’t delivered the punchline yet. Otherwise I think you are letting your ignorance show.

      • Some people may not get it for…

        http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/huge-asteroid-that-could-end-human-life-defying-gravity-as-it-moves-towards-earth-scientists-say-9670910.html

        316,155 days but what kind of ‘Green’ morn will it be bringin with it I wonder?

    • “Those who see AGW evidence as clear feel we’re long overdue for decisive action, while the so called skeptics find such action unwarranted given the state of the science.” No, some of us believe that whether or not warming resumes, costly GHG emissions reductions which cause economic damage for virtually no impact on temperatures make no sense, pro-growth policies which increase our capacity to deal with whatever (currently unknown) future emerges do.

      • +1. I would add this: Laboratory studies of public goods dilemmas and similar games strongly suggest that a significant fraction of people are “conditional cooperators”–they’d like to play in the public interest, but they don’t want to be used and will withdraw their cooperation if they don’t think enough others are doing so. In fact most populations we sample seem to have enough of these people that even the real knaves do best by pretending to be conditional cooperators too. That can sustain very high and ongoing cooperative behavior–say among nations. But remember, the conditional cooperators get pissed off pretty easily. Asking the citizenry of developed democracies to shoulder these burdens without cooperation from most of the other big countries is a recipe for massive failure, disillusionment and withdrawal of cooperation by electorates who don’t want to play the fools.

      • Faustino: Agree. Also, the pause, if nothing else, shows we have more time than originally thought to learn about the planet and develop a common sense energy plan.

    • John M,
      “I’ve yet to come across an alternate explanation for the warming trend that couldn’t be convincingly refuted by the Grist series “How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic” or someone at Real Climate.

      There is a sunspot hypothesis which fits with less sunspots in 60s when ice-age was predicted,more during the 1975 to 98 warming, and fewer when the ‘pause started. Plus, the best medium /long-term weather forecasters take account of the sun’s magnetic flux changes and increased UV radiation. The carbon-dioxide theory doesn’t consider these items add anything to climate, even though the IPCC has them as ‘very uncertain’.

      Personally I would rather trust folk who make a living out of their forecasts than academics or government-run researchers (as the UK Met Office is) who keep their jobs as long they get the politics right.

      Ann.

  29. And for the record, the biggest problems with the consensus is the conflation of:

    1. The earth is warming and humans are partially responsible

    2. Warming is dangerous and action must be taken now

    I cannot recall one mainstream media article that has ever made this distinction clear.

    • Yes, this. Media smudges the 97% and every other wacked out theory about climate (climate causes pimples amongst teenagers) together.

    • Tom,

      Your comment is right on-target. As a scientist I agree with 1.

      2. is not a statement of science. That is the distinction I was trying to make, probably inadequately, in my essay.

    • David L. Hagen

      wrhoward
      Majority or minority human warming?
      As a scientist/engineer, I also agree with Tom’s option 1 – that humans are “PARTLY” responsible.
      The critical question is “HOW MUCH”? or technically
      “How sensitive is climate to CO2”?
      The IPCC claims 95% confidence that most (>50%) of global warming since 1950 is due to anthropogenic causes.
      However, I see numerous lines of evidence challenging the 95% confidence in > 50% contribution. e.g. 17 years 10 months of no statistically significant warming while 95% of all global warming models 34 year projections are greater than actual global warming.
      While saying you support Tom’s “1”, in your introduction you said:

      You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause. . . .You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause. . . . to test the hypothesis that humans are causing climate change. . . .currently conducting the experiment that will prove whether humans cause global warming. . .In particular, this warming bears temporal and spatial patterns, or “fingerprints”, that point to human causes.

      That appears to indicate you hold to the IPCC’s 95% confidence in >50% anthropogenic warming.
      Please clarify your comment in light of the actual 17.8 year flat temperatures, and 95% of global warming models >> actual 34 year global warming temperature trends.

      • Like Judith, I am critical of the IPCC’s use of that 95% figure. I think it’s meaningless. That is why I didn’t mention it in my essay.

        I don’t deny 17-year flat trend, and indeed I agree it reflects a problem with the models. One problem is they don’t do a good job of capturing the timing and duration of inter annual and decadal variability (ENSO, PDO, etc.). Indeed this year we have seen an apparently failed El Nino forecast.

        But here’s my problem with the IPCC “95%” (Judith I’d be interested in your thoughts on this):

        The IPCC use of “confidence” and attachment of numerical values is not always a statement of *statistical* confidence in the usual sense we all all learned in Stats 101. Rather it is sometimes used to express “expert judgment” or “expert elicitation.” This, in my view, does not make this usage invalid. However, I think in this case they should not have used numerical values for these type of expressions of confidence, because of the confusion with statistical confidence intervals.

        [I note I was an expert reviewer for two chapters of the AR5 WG1 report but I only commented on specific technical points rather than the terminology around uncertainty, and the usage was already set out in the IPCC Guidance Note for Lead Authors put in place in 2010]

        AR5 WG1 uses “confidence” in two different ways, as the AR5 WG1 technical summary notes:
        ” this WGI Technical Summary and the WGI Summary for Policymakers rely on two metrics for communicating the degree of certainty in key findings, which is based on author teams’ evaluations of underlying scientific understanding:”
        “Confidence in the validity of a finding, based on the type, amount, quality, and consistency of evidence (e.g., mechanistic understanding, theory, data, models, expert judgment) and the degree of agreement. Confidence is expressed qualitatively.”
        “Quantified measures of uncertainty in a finding expressed probabilistically (based on statistical analysis of observations or model results, or expert judgment).”

        They further note:
        “The confidence metric provides a qualitative synthesis of an author team’s judgment about the validity of a finding, as determined through evaluation of evidence and agreement. If uncertainties can be quantified probabilistically, an author team can characterize a finding using the calibrated likelihood language or a more precise presentation of probability. Unless otherwise indicated, high or very high confidence is associated with findings for which an author team has assigned a likelihood term.”

        The main problem (in my view) is with the second usage. “Quantified measures of uncertainty” and “expert judgment” used in the same sentence. You can have “quantified measures” or you can have “expert judgment”, not both (IMO).

        WG1 also states
        “The following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood:
        Term* Likelihood of the outcome
        Virtually certain 99–100% probability
        Very likely 90–100% probability
        Likely 66–100% probability
        About as likely as not 33–66% probability
        Unlikely 0–33% probability
        Very unlikely 0–10% probability
        Exceptionally unlikely 0–1% probability”
        “* Additional terms (extremely likely: 95–100% probability, more likely than not: >50–100% probability, and extremely unlikely: 0–5% probability) may also be used when appropriate.”

        Two examples illustrate the confusion:
        1) In a figure caption WG1 SPM says “Based on the CMIP5 ensemble; anomalies calculated with respect to 1986–2005. Using HadCRUT4 and its uncertainty estimate (5−95% confidence interval), the observed warming to the reference period 1986−2005 is 0.61 [0.55 to 0.67] °C from 1850−1900, and 0.11 [0.09 to 0.13] °C from 1980−1999, the reference period for projections used in AR4.”

        These are statistical confidence intervals based on analysis of a data set, so the type of confidence intervals we all learned about in Statistics 101. So “confidence” is used appropriately here IMO.

        2) Let’s take another example, in which actually there is not data (simply because it is the future): “It is virtually certain, that precipitation increase will be much smaller, approximately 2% K–1, than the rate of lower tropospheric water vapour increase (~7% K–1), due to global energetic constraints.”

        So doesn’t this imply a 99-100% probability of a precipitation increase of 2%/K? I am not saying I think precipitation will not increase, but the wording *implies* quantification of probability of a kind no one is in a position to provide, because there is no data. In a strictly statistical central-limit-theorem sense the uncertainty is infinite because N=0.

        The IPCC use(s) of the word “confidence” leads to media headlines like the BBC’s “A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.” And that “95%” is not a confidence interval in the usual sense.
        As with words like “consensus” we need to be rigorous in how we use these types of terms especially in communicating with policy makers and the community in general.

      • David L. Hagen

        wrhoward
        Thanks for your practical/pragmatic scientific perspective.
        David Stockwell found the CSIRO’s global warming models were backwards in predicting drought.

        In particular, the simulations indicate that the measure of hydrological drought increased significantly last century, while the observations indicate a significant decrease. The main conclusion and purpose of the paper is to provide a case study showing the need for more rigorous and explicit validation of climate models if they are to advise government policy.

        Thus I similarly take IPCC’s “virtually certain” reduction in precipitation with a “grain of salt”. The IPCC’s 95% confidence etc is rather a measure of its hubris over unvalidated models that have severe Type B errors.
        (PS I also submitted some technical comments.)

  30. Steven Mosher

    I liked this, and Joshua should pay attention.

    The second problem with consensus is who to trust. On the website Skeptical Science Cook and his colleagues note they “decided that researchers who work and publish on climate science are the right group to ask.” Others have also tried to identify expert credibility in climate science.

    But the problem with asking “who to believe” is that it ignores the merits, or lack thereof, of the arguments.

    Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way from the UK and Canada came up with an innovative application of data analysis to “fill in” temperature data where observations are sparse, especially in polar regions. Their paper suggests a greater rate of global warming over the past two decades than previously estimated; their conclusion is that global warming has slowed but not as much we thought.

    But Cowtan is a crystallographer, not (previously) a “climate scientist”. There’s a whole world of scientists who may have novel techniques, new insights and compelling arguments for different estimates of warming, or new estimates of climate sensitivity, than adopted by the IPCC and other synthesis studies. Are they afraid to publish these arguments and the data supporting them because they are worried they may be dismissed as “non-climate scientists”?”

    It is especially gratifying to see the appeal to experts by SkS absolute skewered by the example given above.

    Much of climate science is frankly nothing more than data science, or data analysis. math. You will find of extremes here.

    1. Scientists who have formal training in the physics of climate, who are informally trained in data analysis, or even self taught in analysis
    2. Scientists who have formal training in data analysis who are informally or self taught in the physics of climate.
    3. Scientists who have formal training in data analysis but have no idea of what physics is about ( when economists do papers in climate science)

    A good writing team tries to combine all. The Cowtan and Way example points to another nuance. Assess the papers not individuals.

    • Steven,

      I agree with you. But it strikes me that there are quite a lot of scientists with related disciplines (physics, statistics, geology, engineering etc etc) who are pretty skeptical wrt manmade climate change, and certainly more skeptical than we are lead to believe is the case amongst climate scientists. What is your view on that? Do you think it is because of the funding issue (so often brought up) that bias’s climate scientists toward the orthodox AGW interpretation? Is it group-think?

      Or do you think that climate scientists views are more nuanced than is generally accepted?

      • Steven Mosher

        I have no generalized “views”. I take positions. one at a time.
        I try to maintain consistency in my approach.
        So I start by suspending judgment.

    • Steven, thanks for that perspective. I would add I cited Cowtan and Way not because I necessarily think their conclusions are “right” but because IMO they have brought a fresh analytical approach. (in application – kriging of course is not new, just doesn’t seem to have been applied in this context). Hopefully others will engage their analysis to critique or reinforce them and we’ll all learn something. Like the end of “South Park.” ;)

  31. Well, I like the structure of the argument but the content has problems:

    In science you’re right until you’re proven wrong, and theories survive only as long they stand up to challenge.

    Well this doesn’t sound right to me. Perhaps Will Howard would like to clarify? If I propose a theory that green monkeys are holding up the ice on Europa I don’t think I get to say I am right until I am proven wrong. I need to have some evidence to substantiate the claim before it even gets to the “theory” stage.

    Scientists use this word to refer to consilience of multiple lines of evidence that underlie widespread agreement or support a theory.

    In the case of climate change, multiple lines of evidence underpin the prevailing view that the climate system is showing decade-on-decade warming over the past 50 years

    The problem is, in the case of climate change;
    – there is arguably even more lines of evidence that undermines the case for human caused climate change.
    – the lines in support of manmade climate change generally don’t bear well under close scrutiny. A perfect example being stratospheric cooling responded to in the comments.
    – having multiple lines of evidence, some of which may support your hypothesis and some of which may not, means that you can selectively choose the lines of evidence that you “agree” with which bias’s conclusions.
    – the best way to test a theory or hypothesis is by saying explicitly what should disprove it, and then invite people to go and look to see if it can be.

    I appreciate the scientific meaning of the word “consensus”, but I think that approach to agreeing whether a theory is correct risks bias, and in any case it the general meaning of the word “consensus” which is used as an argument against those who have reasonable objections to the conclusions of the orthodox view of manmade climate change.

  32. “But Cowtan is a crystallographer, not (previously) a ‘climate scientist’. There’s a whole world of scientists who may have novel techniques, new insights and compelling arguments for different estimates of warming, or new estimates of climate sensitivity, than adopted by the IPCC and other synthesis studies. Are they afraid to publish these arguments and the data supporting them because they are worried they may be dismissed as ‘non-climate scientists’?”

    Are CAGW proponents afraid to publish their arguments that “It’s worse than we thought!” because “they may be dismissed as ‘non-climate scientists?'”

    Is he kidding? Cowtan and Way’s entire purpose was to help the consensus deal with the reported pause in “global average temperature.” Where was the harsh scrutiny of these daring individualists by the “consensus?”

    I did a quick look at the reception of their “anti-consensus” conclusions at the primary internet dispensers of all things consensus – RealClimate, Skeptical Science and Tamino’s, and shockingly, did not find any harsh analysis or rebukes for the efforts of these “non-climate scientists.”

    There was never a debate about CAGW, the consensus was born full grown at the start. There is still no debate among the consensus about the “science” or the politics of CAGW. There will be no debater among the consensus if the pause lasts 50 years.

    The only reason anyone need fear publishing anything in the climate science industry is if it bucks the consensus. If Cowtan and Way’s conclusion had shown more cooling than the consensus has reported, you can bet there would have been some actual skepticism on the part of the consensus. Regardless of their status as climate, or non-climate, scientists.

    And I love this – “”But Cowtan is a crystallographer, not (previously) a ‘climate scientist’.”

    “not (previously) a climate scientist.” Well, now that he has published a life preserver for the consensus, floundering in the sea of the pause – Presto! – he is one now. He should have received his decoder ring in the mail by now.

    • Gary,

      You make a valid point. Cowtan and Way’s contribution was celebrated in Science Magazine: “Climate Outsider Finds Missing Global Warming”

      Whereas other “outsiders” are dismissed because they are “not really climate scientists.” That indeed was my point.

      I was at a meeting recently here in Australia in which the views of a well-know “skeptic” (I’ll get into why I always put that term in quotes another time) and marine geologist were dismissed because he’s “just a geologist.” I know this geologist reasonably well and disagree with him on many points. Not because he’s a geologist, because I have a different view. But I was offended at this dismissal of geologists, in part because I am one. But also it revealed the speakers’ ignorance of the history of climate science and the pioneering role of geologists.

      As just one example, geologist T.C. Chamberlain in the late 19th Century was one of the first to suggest CO2 had a role in regulating climate:

      http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/151054/

      And we could go on – Fairbridge, Imbrie, and other geologists providing pioneering insights into climate.

      • will,
        you appear to be missing the point here,it is not geologists ,nor any other specific discipline that are regularly dismissed out of hand,it is any scientist of any discipline or indeed layperson that has an alternate view to the world is warming and it is all our fault.
        that this is not only allowed to happen,but appears to be encouraged by certain members of the climate science community is not only appalling ,it is a big warning sign people are having trouble defending their position with the science.
        it appears the scientific community have learnt no lessons from the past,where those that were part of a consensus ended up with a large amount of egg on their face.

  33.  
    What the idea of a “consensus” means, given that AGW is nothing but a hoax and a scare tactic and is all political — not science at all — is that the Left is the new mainstream –i.e., “dominant in the culture.”

    Patrick Buchanan (Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?) says the counterculture of the 60s, “is dominant in the culture, the arts, the academy, and the media. The Fifth column of the cultural revolution is entrenched in the courts where judges and justices…”

    There is a lot we don’t know and never will know. What is certain is many in academia have sold us a bill of goods called global warming; and, the counterculture of the 60s that is now the dominant power in Washington is selling the soul of America down the river to hang onto political power.

    • “The counterculture of the 60’s is now the dominant power….” What nonsense. Possibly, a few leftover 60’s radicals, who are just a little past the age of retirement, are global warming alarmists. OK. But to cite patrick Buchanon in the context of this otherwise intelligent and reasonably scientific discussion is disgraceful.

      • I wish you were right. Unfortunately, we all are now treated to the AGW True Believers of the Left who fear CO2, over-population, second-hand smoke, hamburgers, nuclear power, melting glaciers, dying polar bears, food shortages, sinking islands, storms… even cold weather. The defamation of conservatism by aging hold hippies who miss wearing flags on their arses has resulted in an undermining of honor and ethics in science and a cash-for-clunkers economy heading for the cliff of Eurocommunism.

      • Rick,

        There is nothing reasonable in the populist activist use of the term “97%”, That it survives as a talking point shows you how wrong the political inclinations of the climate science community actually are. Zero self-policing therefore we have all sorts of silly redundant themes to go over.

        “97%” reveals the underlying emotions, swamp fever aspects of the academic enclave and its operatives. It’s anti-logic, anti-science. People “believe” cuts right across hundreds of years of progress of the hypothesis, reproducibility, evidence required to validate theories.

      • Argument from authority, eh? Isn’t that what this thread is about?

      • I’ve reached a social conclusion, as have millions of others both ways. If I added spaghetti charts could I call it science? I’ll leave that to the warmers.

      • Leftist advocates’ claims of a 97% consensus of opinion on the validity of AGW theory is further evidence that global warming is nothing but a hoax and a scare tactic.

        “What it is observed right now is utter dishonesty by the IPCC advocates. … They are gradually engaging into a metamorphosis process to save face. … And in this way they will get the credit that they do not merit, and continue in defaming critics like me that actually demonstrated such a fact since 2005/2006.” ~Nicola Scafetta

  34. David L. Hagen

    Will Howard
    Thanks for distinguishing political vs scientific “consensus”. You state:

    “In particular, this warming bears temporal and spatial patterns, or “fingerprints”, that point to human causes.”

    Please support your assertion which appears contradicted by the following lines of evidence:

    Tropical Tropospherical Temperature
    The global climate models predict the greatest warming in the tropical troposphere. However see the New Paper by McKitrick and Vogelsang comparing models and observations in the tropical troposphere

    In a nutshell, the models not only predict far too much warming, but they potentially get the nature of the change wrong. The models portray a relatively smooth upward trend over the whole span, while the data exhibit a single jump in the late 1970s, with no statistically significant trend either side.

    Anthropogenic CO2 Cointegration
    Similarly, the IPCC claims increasing CO2 drives increasing global warming. However, Beenstock et al., find no statistical evidence for such causation:

    Specifically, the methodology of polynomial cointegration is used to test AGW since during the observation period (1880–2007) global temperature and solar irradiance are stationary in 1st differences whereas greenhouse gases and aerosol forcings are stationary in 2nd differences. We show that although these anthropogenic forcings share a common stochastic trend, this trend is empirically independent of the stochastic trend in temperature and solar irradiance. Therefore, greenhouse gas forcing, aerosols, solar irradiance and global temperature are not polynomially cointegrated. This implies that recent global warming is not statistically significantly related to anthropogenic forcing. On the other hand, we find that greenhouse gas forcing might have had a temporary effect on global temperature.

    Beenstock, M., Reingewertz, Y., and Paldor, N.: Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., 3, 561-596, doi:10.5194/esdd-3-561-2012, 2012.

    Natural Temperature variations vs CO2 emissions
    Murry Salby finds CO2 variations are naturally driven, not anthropogenically. e.g. see:
    Salby’s slides

    Annual changes in net CO2 emission (green, above) track surface conditions (blue: temperature and soil moisture together) with a correlation of 0.93 (0.8 for temperature alone), but surface conditions are anti-correlated with δ13C (red: below). . . .In the real world, however, there is a poor correlation between stochastically-varying temperature change (above: blue) and monotonically-increasing CO2 concentration change (green). However, the CO2 concentration response to the time-integral of temperature (below: blue dotted line) very closely tracks the measured changes in CO2 concentration, suggesting the possibility that the former may cause the latter.

    • Thanks David.

      I’ll tackle the Salby point first and get to the other later.

      An alternative model for the sources of the observed CO2 rise over the past ~150 years would have to be consistent with the above four data sets, or convincingly demonstrate they are in error.

      Salby (or Watt’s commentary on him, i’m not sure which it is) says “Man’s CO2 emissions are two orders of magnitude less than the natural sources and sinks of CO2.” This is correct but confuses *gross* fluxes into and out of the land biosphere (the main driver of the seasonal cycle you see in the Mauna Loa CO2 record) and in and out of the ocean with the *net* transfer of carbon from fossil fuel and biospheric reservoirs by human activity (mainly energy production and deforestation). It’s not clear to what extent these gross fluxes were in “steady-state” before the anthropogenic input of carbon, but the relative stability of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the centuries prior to the industrial revolution suggest something close to steady state.

      Constraints on the view that the “Keeling Curve” represents a mainly human driver of CO2 rise since the late ’50s listed below. I would say that any *one* of these *might* be ascribed to something other than anthropogenic inputs from fossil fuel burning and land-use changes, but taken together they are hard to explain any other way. I would say this is an example of “consilience.”

      1) Economic analyses of fossil-fuel activity, which provide “input” estimates of emissions history. A recent update of this type of analysis was published by Raupach et al. (2007). See also Marland and Boden (1993) for an earlier analysis.

      2) The stable carbon isotopic composition of the atmosphere and the ocean. The “Seuss” effect applies both to the stable and radio-isotopic signatures of fossil-fuel carbon. Because both the fossil-fuel carbon and carbon emitted by biomass burning derive from organic carbon they are depleted in carbon-13 relative to the atmospheric and oceanic CO2 reservoirs. Thus the 13C/12C ratio has been dropping at a rate consistent with a net anthropogenic source via combustion of fossil-fuels and biomass (and inconsistent with oxidation of, say, methane, which has its own distinct isotopic composition significantly more depleted in 13C than FF carbon, or outgassing of crustal CO2). This isotopic fingerprint is recorded in the atmosphere itself (see review by Keeling, 1993), and the ocean (see previous Keeling paper; Quay et al., 1992 and 2007; and even my own modest contribution, King and Howard, 2004). This stable isotopic distribution provides not only a temporal fingerprint but a spatial one as well, as the isotopic change is more pronounced in the Northern Hemisphere where most of the fossil-fuel emissions occur.

      Corals, tree rings, and ice-cores all record the changes in isotopic ratios, and these all overlap with direct measurements of atmospheric CO2 consistently. (Druffel and co-authors on corals, Francey et al. on ice cores). The isotopic analyses are independent of the measurements of CO2 concentration itself.

      (The reduction in 14C/12C due to the addition of “dead” carbon from fossil fuels is also discernible but more complicated due to bomb-test-sourced 14C injected into the atmosphere and ocean from 1945 – 1970s).

      3) The continued and dominant Northern Hemisphere emissions source continues to drive a hemispheric gradient in CO2 concentrations, consistent with a fossil-fuel-dominated source function and inconsistent with other possible drivers of atmospheric CO2 increase.

      4) Finally the O2/N2 ratio in the atmosphere has been dropping slightly but measurably, in a way stoichiometrically consistent with the consumption of oxygen by fossil-fuel and biomass combustion and inconsistent with net outgassing from oceanic or crustal sources. See papers by Ralph Keeling on this signature.

      References:

      Druffel, E. R. M., 1997, Geochemistry of corals: Proxies of past ocean chemistry, ocean circulation, and†climate: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 94, p. 8354-8361.
      Francey, R. J., Allison, C. E., Etheridge, D. M., Trudinger, C. M., Enting, I. G., Leuenberger, M., Langenfelds, R. L., Michel, E., and Steele, L. P., 1999, A 1000-year high precision record of ∂13C in atmospheric CO2: Tellus B, v. 51, p. 170-193.
      Keeling, C. D., 1993, Global observations of atmospheric CO2, in Heimann, M., ed., The Global Carbon Cycle, New York, Springer-Verlag, p. 1-31.
      Keeling, C. D., and Whorf, T. P., 2005, Atmospheric CO2 records from sites in the SIO air sampling network, Trends: A Compendium of Data on Global Change, Oak Ridge, TN, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
      Keeling, R. F., Piper, S. C., and Heimann, M., 1996, Global and hemispheric CO2 sinks deduced from changes in atmospheric O2 concentration: Nature, v. 381, p. 218-221.
      Keeling, R. F., and Shertz, S. R., 1992, Seasonal and interannual variations in atmospheric oxygen and implications for the global carbon cycle: Nature, v. 358, p. 723-727.
      King, A. L., and Howard, W. R., 2004, Planktonic foraminiferal d13C records from Southern Ocean sediment traps: New estimates of the oceanic Suess effect: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, v. 18, p. GB2007.
      MacFarling Meure, C., Etheridge, D., Trudinger, C., Steele, P., Langenfelds, R., van Ommen, T., Smith, A., and Elkins, J., 2006, Law Dome CO2, CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000 years BP: Geophysical Research Letters, v. 33, p. L14810.
      Marland, G., and Boden, T., 1993, The magnitude and distribution of fossil-fuel-related carbon releases, in Heimann, M., ed., The Global Carbon Cycle, New York, Springer-Verlag, p. 117-138.
      Quay, P., Sonnerup, R., Stutsman, J., Maurer, J., Körtzinger, A., Padin, X. A., and Robinson, C., 2007, Anthropogenic CO2 accumulation rates in the North Atlantic Ocean from changes in the 13C/12C of dissolved inorganic carbon: Global Biogeochemical Cycles, v. 21, p. GB1009.
      Quay, P. D., Tilbrook, B., and Wong, C. S., 1992, Oceanic uptake of fossil fuel CO2: Carbon-13 evidence: Science, v. 256, p. 74-79.
      Raupach, M. R., Marland, G., Ciais, P., Le Quere, C., Canadell, J. G., Klepper, G., and Field, C. B., 2007, Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions: PNAS, v. 104, p. 10288 –10293.

      • I meant four data sets *below*

      • Because both the fossil-fuel carbon and carbon emitted by biomass burning derive from organic carbon they are depleted in carbon-13 relative to the atmospheric and oceanic CO2 reservoirs. Thus the 13C/12C ratio has been dropping at a rate consistent with a net anthropogenic source via combustion of fossil-fuels and biomass (and inconsistent with oxidation of, say, methane, which has its own distinct isotopic composition significantly more depleted in 13C than FF carbon, or outgassing of crustal CO2).

        Let me be sure I understand: burning fossil and modern biomass is depleted in 13C. Methane is more depleted. Outgassing is less depleted.

        In that case, I’m not sure I see why burning of biomass couldn’t be duplicated in its effect by a combination of methane oxidation and outgassing.

      • Thanks for the explanation and references. Do you discount entirely solar cycles and UV B in the stratosphere as far as late 20th century warming or is there some % there?

      • ordvic
        “Do you discount entirely solar cycles and UV B in the stratosphere as far as late 20th century warming or is there some % there?”

        My reading of the influence of solar cycles is that they account for about 10-20 % in the historical record.

        My take on solar irradiance influence on climate is mainly informed by the works of Judith Lean and David Rind (e.g. Lean, J. L. (2010), Cycles and trends in solar irradiance and climate, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 1(1), 111-122, doi:10.1002/wcc.18.).

        (note she suggests the stratospheric cooling Seidel attributed to GHG is better modelled by CFCs than GHGs; so that is also a space I’m watching)

        The Lean and Rind studies are, to my mind, efforts to examine the temporal “fingerprints” of anthropogenic and natural climate change. So I see such studies as part of what supports my view that there are “fingerprints” of the human influence.
        see also:

        Lean, J. L., and D. H. Rind (2009), How will Earth’s surface temperature change in future decades?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L15708, doi:10.1029/2009gl038932.
        Lean, J., and D. Rind (2008), How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L18701, doi:10.1029/2008GL034864.

        But as with climate sensitivity solar variability is an evolving area, and I’m keeping an open mind on it.

      • Much of this is questionable – it all seems tendentious rather than consilient. CO2 flux is quite evidently temperature dependent.

        e.g. http://environmentportal.in/files/Temperature%20associated%20increases%20in%20the%20global%20soil.pdf

        and – http://www.csiro.au/Portals/Media/Tropical-ecosystems-regulate-variations-in-Earths-carbon-dioxide-levels.aspx

        This shows up quite obviously in stomatal CO2 records – if not in ice cores.

        e.g. http://www.academia.edu/2949675/Stomatal_proxy_record_of_CO2_concentrations_from_the_last_termination_suggests_an_important_role_for_CO2_at_climate_change_transitions

        The carbon isotope argument is clearly incorrect as well as Salby – inter alia – points out.

        The increase in CO2 from natural fluxes seems to rival human emissions at least.

        We know that there are large TOA radiative flux changes with changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation.

        e.g. http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~jnorris/reprints/Loeb_et_al_ISSI_Surv_Geophys_2012.pdf

        And that the satellite record says that most recent (1976/1998) warming was cloud radiative forcing associated with low frequency variability.

        ‘In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system.’ AR4 3.4.4.1

        Thus most early century warming was natural and most late century warming – multiple lines of evidence says quite clearly – was natural as well.

        Additionally – it seems quite probable that temperatures are not increasing – or even decreasing – since the last ‘climate shift’ in 1998/2001. Something that seems to involve abrupt cloud changes seen in both ISCCP-FD and in Project Earthshine.

        So the $64,000 question is where do temperatures – and thus CO2 flux – go next as the Sun cools from a modern Grand Maxima.

        ‘Since irradiance variations are apparently minimal, changes in the Earth’s climate that seem to be associated with changes in the level of solar activity – the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age for example – would then seem to be due to terrestrial responses to more subtle changes in the Sun’s spectrum of radiative output. This leads naturally to a linkage with terrestrial reflectance, the second component of the net sunlight, as the carrier of the terrestrial amplification of the Sun’s varying output.’

        Shortwave forcing of the Earth’s climate: Modern and historical variations in the Sun’s irradiance and the Earth’s reflectance
        P.R. Goode, E. Palle´

        Solar activity links to changes in the frequency and intensity of ENSO events – providing one clear mechanism of amplification.

        Rather than an example of rational and objective scientific analysis – we have here yet another example of a self appointed gatekeeper of the collective AGW cult. Whatever the question – the answer is always anthropogenic CO2 emissions without any doubt at all. The dead giveaway is that there is not the slightest deviation from the groupthink memes. Always the same arguments repeated word perfect.

        The reality is that none of it is predictable – nothing certain. The most that can be said is that we are making changes to a multiply coupled, nonlinear system. That in itself seems problematic.

        But there will be no progress while this faux certainty persists and continues to link implicitly science to a failed Kyoto approach. The world may not warm for decades at least because we are in a cool mode and these persist for 20 to 40 years.

        ‘Finally, the presence of vigorous climate variability presents significant challenges to near-term climate prediction (25, 26), leaving open the possibility of steady or even declining global mean surface temperatures over the next several decades that could present a significant empirical obstacle to the implementation of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (27). However, global warming could likewise suddenly and without any ostensive cause accelerate due to internal variability. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the climate system appears wild, and may continue to hold many surprises if pressed. ‘ Long-term natural variability and 20th century climate change (2009) Kyle L. Swanson,George Sugihara and Anastasios A. Tsonis.

        That they don’t get this is just another example of the post hoc rationalization that is a characteristic of groupthink generally.

      • Rob Ellison: “The carbon isotope argument is clearly incorrect as well as Salby – inter alia – points out.
        The increase in CO2 from natural fluxes seems to rival human emissions at least.”

        With all due respect to Salby, I think he’s wrong. I can’t say it any more plainly than that.

        I have seen Salby’s slides on this. John Nielsen-Gammon went to Salby’s talk at IUGG in Melbourne (I attended that IUGG but missed Salby’s presentation).

        Nielsen-Gammon notes, and I agree: “if 0.8 C of warming is sufficient to produce an increase of 120ppm CO2, as Salby asserted, then the converse would also have to be true. During the last glacial maximum, when global temperatures were indisputably several degrees cooler than today, the atmospheric CO2 concentration must have been negative.”

        We know that LGM atmospheric pCO2 was around 180-190 ppmV.

        And indeed best estimates of the temperature effect on glacial-period CO2 depression, based on estimates of surface and deep ocean paleotemperature, is some 20 ppm or so of the observed glacial-interglacial amplitude.

      • Thanks for the reply WH,
        I didn’t honestly think that you’d give me an actual % range since I know it is hard to approximate so I appreciate that as well.
        I have read some of Lean but it’s nice to have those references thanks for taking the time to put that together :-)

      • Am I supposed to take this seriously?

        The increase due to temperature is quantified in the articles linked to – from just tropical vegetation and soils.

      • The other article I cited suggests quite significant variability in pCO2 at the last glacial transition.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/CO2_zps58f177bb.png.html

        And to suggest that Salby suggested 120ppm form natural is simply a diversionary lie on the basis of my saying that the carbon isotope argument is clearly incorrect as well as Salby – inter alia – points out. Clearly irrelevant to my argument.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        “And to suggest that Salby suggested 120ppm form natural is simply a diversionary lie on the basis of my saying that the carbon isotope argument is clearly incorrect as well as Salby – inter alia – points out. Clearly irrelevant to my argument.”

        Salby says the CO2 increase was not including human emissions?

        Sounds like someone is desperate indeed.

      • Salby should publish in American Thinker.

      • OK Rob Ellison, let’s hear it. Your case that the “isotope argument is clearly incorrect”

        I’m particularly interested in Salby’s data sources for his arguments.

        My point is that stable carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, ocean, tree cellulose, and marine archives (corals, foraminifera) are one set of data constraints supporting the source of CO2 rise as recorded in the Keeling curve and recent ice cores as due mainly to fossil fuel CO2 and biosphere burning.

        I’m open to arguments to the contrary. Over to you.

      • David L. Hagen

        Wrhoward
        Thanks for your detailed comments and references. However, your evidence is still suggestive, NOT causative or determinative.
        Re 1: You presume natural steady state prior to modern anthroprogenic CO2 – without evidence:

        It’s not clear to what extent these gross fluxes were in “steady-state” before the anthropogenic input of carbon, but the relative stability of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the centuries prior to the industrial revolution suggest something close to steady state.

        Your argument depends on natural CO2 from microbial action being temperature independent – despite widespread evidence to the contrary.
        See Rupert Darwell’s summary of Salby’s arguments, (and Monckton’s summary of Salby as well as links to Salby’s presentations above.)

        the IPCC reasons that, since plants tend to absorb more light carbon than heavy carbon, CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels reduce the share of heavy carbon in the atmosphere. But Salby points to much larger natural processes, such as emissions from decaying vegetation, that also reduce the proportion of heavy carbon. Temperature heavily influences the rate of microbial activity inherent in these natural processes, and Salby notes that the share of heavy carbon emissions falls whenever temperatures are warm. Once again, temperature appears more likely to be the cause, rather than the effect, of observed atmospheric changes.

        Re 2: Insufficient. Salby shows the ice core CO2 estimates were off by an order of magnitude from ignoring diffusion through the ice.
        Re 3) You state: “The continued and dominant Northern Hemisphere emissions source continues to drive a hemispheric gradient in CO2 concentrations”
        That is unconvincing in light of Salby’s more recent contrary evidence. e.g., the highest CO2 emission rates are over the Amazon, subsaharan Africa and southeast Asia, NOT the USA and Europe:

        Salby presents satellite observations showing that the highest levels of CO2 are present not over industrialized regions but over relatively uninhabited and nonindustrialized areas, such as the Amazon. And if human emissions were behind rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, he argues, then the change in CO2 each year should track the carbon dioxide released that year from burning fossil fuels—with natural emissions of CO2 being canceled out by reabsorption from land sinks and oceans. But the change of CO2 each year doesn’t track the annual emission of CO2 from burning fossil fuels, as shown in Figure 1, which charts annual emissions of CO2, where an annual increase of one part per million is approximately equivalent to an annual growth rate of 0.25 percent.

        As you bear the burden of proof – keep searching for Truth – to the standard scientific integrity set by Richard Feynman.

  35. I’m actually for a full expansion of the 97% consensus, I’d like all those who meet the qualification for membership explained. I’d like to know who decides who gets counted and omitted. I’d like all the parts of “human caused” itemized and surveyed. Lastly, most important, once we have the consensus list I’d like their political ID, Socialist, Communist, democrat….whatever listed.

    As it is I have even less respect for the climate science profession then I would be impressed what the Washington Press core thinks collectively or the NYTimes editorial board. They came to campus with a cause, they are living it out and likely dying with their boots on. It’s make believe that “consensus” isn’t the sum total of their cumulative ideology and little more. 97% makes the field appear to be a joke, which is accurate in many many ways.

    I suspect most actual scientists are mortified by the meme but it’s shameful that so few actually speak out in support of the debunking of the most commonly cited steering polls. Again, a reflection of the atrocious political culture found in the sector. It’s up there but not quite on par with dog whistles and subtext to “Holocaust deniers” that meets passive approval by the very same community.

  36. Die Zauberflotist

    “But Cowtan is a crystallographer, not (previously) a “climate scientist”.”

    Of course anyone should be allowed to contribute. After all, wasn’t it a crystallographer who helped release Al Gore’s second chakra?

    • As if “climate” is academic turf that others from far more serious science fields aren’t fit to walk on. It’s a joke with a political purpose. Doran knew full well what was to happen when they settled on the self-identified “climate scientists” for their junky survey for example. Soundbites don’t just happen, they’re created and then protected.

  37. I took a humorous pass at Cowtan and Way here:

    http://tinyurl.com/Red-Scarf-Trick

    “An innovative application of data analysis to “fill in” temperature data where observations are sparse, especially in polar regions” does little, if anything, to inform us of the actual temperatures experienced where temperatures are neither observed nor measured in any way.

    Will Howard should of picked a better, more scientific, example. There are lots and lots of non-climate-scientists who do interesting work to choose from.

    • I picked Cowtan and Way because it’s recent and has recently had attention so more likely people would be familiar with it.

      • Steven Mosher

        I think it’s a good choice. Way is a friend and collaborator of mine.
        He is very sharp, diligent, questions his own work. asks for suggestions, gives advice, takes advice, explores, shares. open minded… that the word I was looking for.

        It think it is fair to suppose that if people just looked at the past publications of both authors and looked at their resumes, that is, if you stripped away the names, stripped away the particular results of their paper, that the folks who “play the scientist” would have had a field day
        with them.

        blog commenters and scientists on both sides do this. From critiques of the ‘retired mining executive” to critiques of the cystollographer and grad student, to critiques of ‘the english major” to critques of the ‘amatuer’ to critiques of old white guys and the emeriti we see the same pattern.

        basically, ways to avoid the hard work of investigating the actual details.

        kinda a Joshua , willard , kim approach to science.

        meh. lazy pikers.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Mosher said

        ” From critiques of the ‘retired mining executive” to critiques of the cystollographer and grad student, to critiques of ‘the english major” to critques of the ‘amatuer’ to critiques of old white guys and the emeriti we see the same pattern.

        basically, ways to avoid the hard work of investigating the actual details.””

        Way said on Climate Etc. that he should know, because he’s Innuit.
        More stupid Mosher crap, please!.

  38. The question is who to trust.
    X is a crystallographer, not a “climate scientist”.
    What should we conclude from this?
    Play the science, not the scientist.

    • Steven Mosher

      willard plays Mr Kotter, hoping for his horshak

      • Welcome Back Kotter, what a great show!

      • Even Kotter can see that “works and publishes on climate science” ain’t the same as “is a climate scientist”. The first predicate is quite compatible with Howard’s exhortation that we need contributions we can get from all the disciplines.

        Howard is pulling a fast one at the end of an editorial, an end which has very little to do with the meat of it anyway.

      • Steven Mosher

        really,

        flesh that case out a little. you know, make an argument.
        mere questions and bald assertions, don’t make a case.
        but then you knew that.

        willard plays half dumb or half smart..

      • > flesh that case out a little

        It’s right there:

        [1] The second problem with consensus is who to trust. On the website Skeptical Science Cook and his colleagues note they “decided that researchers who work and publish on climate science are the right group to ask.” Others have also tried to identify expert credibility in climate science.

        [2] But the problem with asking “who to believe” is that it ignores the merits, or lack thereof, of the arguments.

        [3] Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way [‘s] paper suggests a greater rate of global warming over the past two decades than previously estimated; their conclusion is that global warming has slowed but not as much we thought.

        [4] But Cowtan is a crystallographer, not (previously) a “climate scientist”. […] Are they afraid to publish these arguments and the data supporting them because they are worried they may be dismissed as “non-climate scientists”?

        [1] switches from “consensus can give the wrong impression” (e.g. C13) to “consensus is about who to trust” (SkS).

        [2] switches from “who to ask” to “who to believe”.

        [3] and [4] switches from “works and publishes on climate science” to “is a climate scientist”.

        Without these switches, Howard’s position looks quite compatible with SkS’. All we need is a scientific consensus just like Howard envisions it.

        In other words, Howard puts the wrong notion of consensus into SkS’ rationale, and then blames SkS for it.

        I expect better from scientists.

  39. Theo Goodwin

    ‘“Consensus” is understood differently in science compared to politics or society.

    Scientists use this word to refer to consilience of multiple lines of evidence that underlie widespread agreement or support a theory.

    In the case of climate change, multiple lines of evidence underpin the prevailing view that the climate system is showing decade-on-decade warming over the past 50 years.’

    How embarrassing for the author. He purports to disambiguate “consensus” to explain how scientists understand the term and then reverts to cocktail talk. Any scientific consensus must be about genuine physical hypotheses as normally formulated by scientists, not as formulated in cocktail talk. Yet this author omits any such hypothesis and, thereby, renders his claim devoid of content.

    • As tonyb says, the “long slow thaw” shows decade to decade warming for the last 1400 years or so, minus cooling in the little ice age or other interruptions. What causes that?
      Scott

      • Theo Goodwin

        I doubt that you meant to reply to me. You do not present a scientific hypothesis.

      • He’s introducing millennial scale changes; I hypothesize not yet understood physicals mechanisms. I could speculate further.
        =================

      • Ooh, better had I written ‘not yet understood physical solar mechanisms’. Mebbe I slipped ‘cuz the ‘s’ is so self-revelatory. I can explain anything speculating about the sun.
        ===========

      • Scott/Tony: Has there ever been an academic rebuttal regarding the medieval and early modern climate record?

    • theo, see my reference in another comment to Judith Lean and David Rind’s papers, looking at temporal evolution of putative climate drivers. I think those are good, simple, examples of asking what might be driving climate, what are those driver’s temporal evolution, what combination best fits (one manifestation – temperature) the observed behaviour of the system.

      • Theo Goodwin

        Thanks so much for the reply. Asking only what drives climate leaves natural variability off the table. Yet natural variability must be understood before one can credibly argue that a signal of manmade CO2 climate change can be identified.

        We do not have at this time an understanding of the drivers of natural variability but we have the facts of natural variability. Those facts are found in our historical records of temperatures and many other historical records of similar phenomena. The highest and lowest temperatures, for example, show us what Mother Nature is capable of – and that is natural variation.

        The alarmists among climate scientists and climate clowns assumed either that climate change did not exist before manmade CO2 or that natural variability is purely random. Those things cannot be assumed. You must create hypotheses that support them and produce evidence for them. Otherwise, you are looking at only half of the question.

  40. possibly will needs a reminder of what was stated as fact regarding the future back in 1988 by the main man. http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/hansens-dice-crap-out-of-the-game/
    consensus you say, i say show me the evidence.

  41. wow ,just hit the link to the conversation . i have to say during my travels in the blogosphere i have yet to come across anyone who came across as a left wing liberal extremist,thanks to the the conversation i now understand what a left wing liberal extremist is.

  42. “We need all the contributions we can get from all the disciplines we can access to understand the crucial challenges posed by climate change. ”
    Yes yes. This is a huge failing of climate science in my view.

  43. Matthew R Marler

    This to-ing and fro-ing might give the impression that climate science is somehow still under debate, but the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting.

    The evidence might “overwhelm” Will Howard, but the more evidence I study the more I think the case for influence of anthropogenic CO2 on climate is full of liabilities.

    Note that he does not separate human influences: agriculture, urbanization, deforestation, industrialization. He also does not separate the people who think CO2 has slight effects from those who think it has great effects; and he does not separate people who think that the effects of CO2 are likely beneficial from those who think they are likely harmful. And he does not rank human influence with natural influence.

    If it is true that “consensus means different things to different people” it might be because the wording of what they are purported to agree on is so vague.

    But the problem with asking “who to believe” is that it ignores the merits, or lack thereof, of the arguments.

    An example as compelling as Cowtan the crystallographer is McIntyre the geological statistician, or one of the engaged econometricians.

    • Matthew, you make a good point. I share with some others a criticism of IPCC and similar investigations that I think they take too narrow a view of human influence on the climate system. GHGs are one, but there are many others (as you rightly say deforestation etc.). Some of these may be big esp. on regional scales. The IPCC runs are “all else being equal” simulations. A few studies (e.g. Lean and Rind) have varied solar as well.

      Part of the problem, I think, is IPCC’s link to the UNFCCC (though IPCC actually preceded UNFCCC).

      UNFCCC’s definition of “climate change” and “greenhouse gases”
      see http://unfccc.int/files/essential_background/background_publications_htmlpdf/application/pdf/conveng.pdf

      “Climate change” means a change of climate which is
      attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that
      alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which
      is in addition to natural climate variability observed
      over comparable time periods.
      “Greenhouse gases” means those gaseous constituents of
      the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that
      absorb and re-emit infrared radiation.

      I work on ocean acidification and have to work hard to make clear the distinction between that biogeochemical effect of CO2 and the radiative effects of GHGs even though the UNFCCC also says

      ” ‘Climate system’ means the totality of the atmosphere,
      hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere and their
      interactions.”

  44. Also, I follow our president on Facebook (Im a liberal) and he pushes propoganda videos regularly that use the 97% consensus phrase and then very quickly gloss over and into the whole ‘Changes are occurring right now’. I.E. 97% of scientists agree that extreme weather, the drought in California, ebola, etc.. are because of AGW. Its beyond disgraceful and I am very disappointed in the whole Democratic party as a result (I’m not going to switch, tho).
    I doubt I am the first to notice this. It flies in the face even of the IPCC, which is pretty bad.

    • Well, he is a known liar and it’s culturally accepted by the gatekeepers who largely share the same political outlook. In this sense climate is treated no differently then any other topic, “your health premium is going to decline”, “you can keep you heath plan if you like it”, “no one is politically targeted by the IRS”, “we draw the line on parties who use chemical weapons”.

      No, you’re not the first to notice and you should spell it correctly; “propaganda”. You can spell it “journOlist” in post partisan America if you choose.

    • The reason they want to use the 97% thingy is so the next part (Nancy Pelosi) ‘if you listen to what the scientists are telling us’ can be used with impunity

  45. Well I must admit I had the wrong idea. They were talking about the ingredients in the ivory soap and I thought they were talking about per case. Either way it was bound to be a high number and not much of a surprise to me. Now I just have to wonder how clean I will be, Oh My!

    Thanks for clearing that up least I had remained ignorant like probably at least 97% of those that heard about that in the first place.

  46. David in Cal

    Mr. Howard writes, “You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause.”

    This is a slight misstatement of Cook’s assertion. His paper actually claimed to show that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are a cause. Climate scientists agree that some of the warming has been natural. In particular, most climate scientists agree that man’s activity had no impact before 1950, so the warming from 1800 to 1950 was entirely due to natural causes.

    • nottawa rafter

      A scientist who believes it will warm by .01 C in the next century and natural variability accounts for 99% of the warming would fall into the 97% consensus per your interpretation of Cook’s paper. The claim is a multi-layered continuum with such a big umbrella that almost any belief is covered.

  47. Theo Goodwin

    The question of consensus has met with exactly the same fate as the questions of “deniers.” Everyone has come to understand that those who disagree with the claim that AGW will lead to serious harm do not deny that there is AGW. Rather, those who are mislabeled “deniers” agree that manmade CO2 makes some contribution to warming but they disagree that the total warming will be dangerous.

    Similarly, if the “consensus” is that multiple lines of evidence point to the rather vague claim that warming is taking place then everyone can agree with that. But the “consensus” claims that they have a comprehensive theory of climate, that the multiple lines of evidence establish that theory as correct, and that the theory predicts harmful warming. No scientist in his right mind would attempt to defend such a claim.

    There is no comprehensive theory of climate. The best evidence for that is the lack of an account of the natural regularities in climate to serve as the background against which warming might be measured. The second best evidence is that the questions regarding feedbacks, especially the matter of water vapor and clouds, are far from settled. The third best evidence is that climate scientists resort to computer models of climate. That fact shouts in huge letters “We have no theory; otherwise, we would not need the models.” Finally, if someone has the comprehensive theory of climate then publish it. That is yet another challenge. No one can because it does not exist. Climate science is in its infancy.

    • “they disagree that the total warming will be dangerous”

      This is absolutely correct in my experience. The real denier boundary is whether you support immediate (and costly) action. That is how people are sorted.

      You can agree on everything “the science” says, but then go on to question the assertion the temperature increase will be dangerous, and you get thrown into the denier bin every time. If you choose to go through the exercise of nailing someone down on this paradox, they will ultimately tell you that believing in AGW can only lead you to believing it is dangerous. They are the same. Maybe not….

      • This gets to another crucial (partly) non-scientific question: will the warming be “dangerous”? Science can attempt to characterise, anticipate, and quantify impacts. But are these “dangerous?” That gets into perceptions of risk, values etc.

        But I think a key question about “danger” is would climate change add to the dangers we already deal with? Without or without anthropogenic climate change, we already have natural climate-related hazards: cyclones, heat waves, floods, droughts, etc. Would anthro. climate change* alter these risks? And alter them how? It could ameliorate some risks: cold snaps, crop freezes.

        I have a friend who lives in Florida, and when he hears or reads a report about climate change, he asks me what I think about it. Should he sell the house and head for higher ground? Last time was when IPCC AR5 WG1 report came out. At that point I said

        “Don’t panic. Sea level rise is currently about 3 millimetres per year. At that rate we’d be looking at about 26 centimetres higher global average sea level by the end of this century. That’s about 10 inches. There are implications for places like Florida for even this small amount of sea level: shoreline retreat, increased erosion, saltwater intrusion into aquifers, higher probability of inundation in storm surges. But these will probably be incremental to the already-existing risks, at least for the next few decades.

        Now that rate may accelerate in the next few decades for a range of reasons, but it’s not clear how much, and how soon. About half the rate observed is because the ocean is warming up and seawater expands as it heats like other materials. This part is what we ocean geeks call thermosteric expansion.

        The rest is due to a combination of mountain glaciers melting and ice loss in Greenland and West Antarctica.

        These are not fast-responding parts of the climate system so even under the biggest blow-torch greenhouse gas scenarios they don’t melt enough to drive meters of sea level rise for centuries. The problem is once they start melting it’s hard to turn that around.”

        So my message is generally, are these reports cause for concern? Yes. Cause for panic? No. Is this what I would call “catastrophic”? No.

        *hey how about a new acronym: ACC? Oops, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Atlantic Coast Conference already have dibs on that

      • Don’t panic. Sea level rise is currently about 3 millimetres per year. At that rate we’d be looking at about 26 centimetres higher global average sea level by the end of this century. That’s about 10 inches. …

        This is when you know the person who is trying to lead you is about 5 cans short of a 6-pack.

      • My Florida friend also saw a TV news report suggesting sea levels would rise 20 feet in the next 85 years. Granted this was TV news, not a scientific source but I think it shows how science can get sensationalised by the media.

        One way to raise sea level by 20 feet would be to melt the entire Greenland ice sheet, since best estimates suggest melting the entire GIS would raise global sea level by about 6-7 meters. Even in the most high-emissions scenarios this occurs over about 1000 years (in models).

        Let’s do the numbers:

        Best estimates of the net melting rate of the GIS say it lost mass at the rate of about 142 billion tons per year over 1992 to 2011 (Shepherd et al., 2012).

        Best estimates of the overall mass of the GIS say it’s about 2.7 million billion metric tons (Byrd Polar Research Center: http://bprc.osu.edu/wiki/Greenland_Factsheet#Ice_Sheet_Mass)

        So at current melt rates it would take ~19,000 years for the Greenland Ice sheet to melt and raise sea level 20 feet.

        We can bring in other ice sheets, like West Antarctica, etc. but no matter how we look at it we’re talking about probably millennia, at least centuries, before we see that extent of sea level rise. Unless something changes really drastically, which we can’t rule out.

        Is there reason to be concerned about this? Yes. Reason to panic? No.

        Shepherd, A., et al. (2012), A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance, Science, 338(6111), 1183-1189, doi:10.1126/science.1228102.

      • Theo Goodwin

        wrhoward | August 14, 2014 at 10:20 pm |

        You are not serious. Name one prominent climate scientist, our host excluded, who has not shouted that the science shows that global warming is dangerous. There are none.

        You just reminded me that the line between prominent climate scientist and climate yahoo is razor thin.

  48. NASA sent me long term CO2 data today on my Facebook newsfeed: http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators/#co2

    For climate scientists, what source or sources do you refer/rely on for this data? Is NASA data generally accepted? Thx.

  49. All about the “science” at NASA;

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/gschmidt/

    Next!

      • Steven Mosher

        “According to NOAA documentation, they use the same TOBS correction as they were using in 1999. So the only reasonable explanation is that they are intentionally corrupting the temperature record.”

        I’ve explained to goddard many times why 1999 is different.
        different data
        different method

        he is a liar.

      • What source would you suggest to refer to for the very long historical climate record? Or do you say (which is OK and I’m not arguing) that no credible record exists?

      • I’m not even that confident in the modern handling of the data within the claims of certainty and range of errors discussed.

        It’s a nebulous figure (co2 or temperature).

        You can imagine what I think of partisans touting ice core proxies like they are reading a stop watch from 500000 years ago.

    • If you capture the temperature history in January then diff the data with the data from the next year, you notice that the historic data back to 1880 is acquiring a positive temporal drift of about 0.01 to 0.02 °C with each new year of updates. The 1934-1936 period seems to be getting progressively colder. Adding new data in 2014 should not make 1935 slightly colder relative to 2006 than it was before.

      Present and future data should not change past data. This is the same as saying if Romney wins in 2016, Dewey will beat Truman in 1948. In this reality things just don’t work that way.

      If there are people in the climate science field that actually believe this is possible – perhaps they should be retrained or assigned work in other fields. Historic data should not be a moving target.

  50. ‘The new paradigm of an abruptly changing climatic system has been well established by research over the last decade, but this new thinking is little known and scarcely appreciated in the wider community of natural and social scientists and policy-makers.’
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=1

    Dissensus is apparently a real word used since 1962 to express widespread lack of consensus. It is more applicable to climate science than the oft repeated claims of consensus. A 2013 study for instance claims that 97% of climate scientists accepted a stronger or weaker form the idea that carbon dioxide has a molecular structure that resonates with radiation emitted from the Earth in infrared frequencies – and this results in warming of the atmosphere. It is an exceptionally low bar. Skeptics far and wide – only somewhat tongue in cheek – claimed to be part of the climate consensus on this basis. The study grossly oversimplifies climate science – and climate skepticism. Yet on the basis of this the President of the United States of America claimed that skeptics are climate science ‘flat Earthers’. Real climate science is replete with complexities and uncertainties that are emerging monster like from under the bed despite all of the contrivances brought to bear.

    The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defined abrupt climate change as a new climate paradigm as long ago as 2002. A paradigm in the scientific sense is a theory that explains observations. A new science paradigm is one that better explains data – in this case climate data – than the old theory. The new theory says that climate change occurs as discrete jumps in the system. Climate is more like a kaleidoscope – shake it up and a new pattern emerges – than a control knob with a linear gain.

    The theory of abrupt climate change is the most modern – and powerful – in climate science and has profound implications for the evolution of climate this century and beyond. The climate response is internally generated – with changes in cloud, ice, dust and biology – and proceeds at a pace determined by the system itself.

    In the words of Michael Ghil (2013) the ‘global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’

    The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation.

    Dynamic climate sensitivity implies the potential for a small push to initiate a large shift. Climate in this theory of abrupt change is an emergent property of the shift in global energies as the system settles down into a new climate state. The traditional definition of climate sensitivity as a temperature response to changes in CO2 makes sense only in periods between climate shifts – as climate changes at shifts are internally generated. Climate evolution is discontinuous at the scale of decades and longer.

    In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum (Swanson and Tsonis, 2009).

    The is absolutely a different way of looking at climate and one which requires new definitions and norms. The climate future otherwise ain’t what it used to be – to paraphrase Yogi Berra. ‘Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is projected to be likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 in all but the lowest scenario considered, and likely to exceed 2°C for the two high scenarios’, say the IPCC. This is of course based on the mean of a number of climate models each of which is represented by one realisation of a possible climate trajectory. The reality is that each of these models have many and divergent solutions within the feasible range of input variables and boundary conditions – something that is completely understood by numerical modellers since Edward Lorenz in the 1960’s. Deterministic solutions – e.g. 1.5°C by 2100 – are simply not possible with climate models. The best that can be theoretically hoped for is a range of probabilities – once all of the model structural uncertainties have been dealt with in the distant future. The IPCC projects an air of certainty that is not justified on the basis of structurally evolving, non-linear, chaotic models.

    We can contrast that with Wally Broacher – the ‘father of climate change’. Broecker writes that the climate system is characterised by jumps between modes of operation. These involves changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation and in cloud, dust, ice and biology. We don’t understand these mode shifts and therefore cannot model them. Until we do understand what triggers mode shifts – ‘we cannot make good predictions about future climate change.’

    Broecker famously described climate as a wild beast at which we are poking sticks. It describes graphically complexity and uncertainty and the fear of the future that brings. There be monsters in climate science and policy. The current pause in warming may be only the most obvious. To take the metaphor in mildly satirical directions – the 5 stages of uncertainty monster theory have been characterised by Judy – as follows.

    The ‘uncertainty monster’ is an idea that emerged ‘in an analysis of the different ways that the scientific community responds to uncertainties that are difficult to tame. The ‘monster’ is the confusion and ambiguity associated with knowledge versus ignorance, objectivity versus subjectivity, facts versus values, prediction versus speculation, and science versus policy. The uncertainty monster gives rise to discomfort and fear, particularly with regard to our reactions to things or situations we cannot understand or control, including the presentiment of radical unknown dangers.’

    • See no monster: once acknowledged and set free the uncertainty monster is uncontrollable. Thus the strategy is admit no error or uncertainty – to hide the monster – else science will be judged to be wishy washy and unable to provide the necessary level of confidence to justify transforming economies and societies in a green-neosocialist utopian vision. The problem is that shutting your eyes and sticking fingers in ears just enrages a monster grown too big to ignore. Judy insists that there may be as well some ethical issues (in addition to the practical) in hiding – or trying to – the monster.

    • Monster be gone: the trick here is to call for more research to reduce uncertainty while at the same time lauding the most expensive and ineffective insurance policy in the history of the world. That both have proved to be ineffective is the problem. Uncertainty if anything has grown. Computer models are groaning and collapsing under the mass of internal nonlinearities. James McWilliams – Louis B. Slichter Professor of Earth Sciences – UCLA Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences – put it thus in sentiments echoed in the most rarefied of modelling circles. ‘Sensitive dependence and structural instability are humbling twin properties for chaotic dynamical systems, indicating limits about which kinds of questions are theoretically answerable. They echo other famous limitations on scientist’s expectations, namely the undecidability of some propositions within axiomatic mathematical systems (Gödel’s theorem) and the uncomputability of some algorithms due to excessive size of the calculation.’

    Modellers are evolving two coping strategies. The first involves thousands of times more computing power and billions of dollars. The second involves throwing the towel in and going back to less complex models.

    Monster theory predicts that eliminating uncertainty will be impossible. Hydra like – for each head of uncertainty that science chops off – two more pop up.

    • Monster taming: works by subjectively quantifying and simplifying uncertainty – as in the IPCC guidance notes. It channels the management of uncertainty through expert judgment. This is sympathetic magic in substituting a tame expert for a far less tame monster.

    • Monster hunting: the deliberate and systematic pursuit of challenging ideas at the fringes of knowledge. Pure science challenging accepted notions and extending human knowledge in the context of a social framework fostering accountability, quality control, and transparency of the science.

    • Monster loving: is about learning to love – or at least live with – uncertainty. It gives a space for assessment and management of environmental risks. It is essentially an engineering approach to risk and uncertainty. Assessment and communication of uncertainty and ignorance, along with extended review communities in the wider society, are essential in monster loving. The challenge to monster loving is the ever-changing face of the monster and the new monsters that come forth unpredictably.

    The first point is the stage where climate consensus is at – consensus is an especially inadequate attempt to hide the climate uncertainty monster. The last is the stage that Adler and Hadorn (2014) optimistically foresee for the next IPCC Assessment Report – should there be one. The latest IPCC report is at stage 3, has been mugged by the monster in a dark alley and is DOA. They have not conveyed uncertainty and complexity in a plausible way and this is a serious shortfall going forward in a world more likely than not to not warm for decades at least.

    But we have met the monster – and it is ourselves. The question remaining is when we are going to get clever about global development and conservation – and about abundant energy for the future. I’d suggest not waiting for green-neosocialists to get on board.

    Excuse the immensely long comment – but if these people ever had an original thought – and got beyond monster hiding – it surely wouldn’t sound so insane and require such a long winded response.

    • Anastasios Tsonis, of the Atmospheric Sciences Group at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and colleagues used a mathematical network approach to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales. Ocean and atmospheric indices – in this case the El Niño Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation and the North Pacific Oscillation – can be thought of as chaotic oscillators that capture the major modes of climate variability. Tsonis and colleagues calculated the ‘distance’ between the indices. It was found that they would synchronise at certain times and then shift into a new state.

      It is no coincidence that shifts in ocean and atmospheric indices occur at the same time as changes in the trajectory of global surface temperature. Our ‘interest is to understand – first the natural variability of climate – and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural,’ Tsonis said.

      Four multi-decadal climate shifts were identified in the last century coinciding with changes in the surface temperature trajectory. Warming from 1909 to the mid 1940’s, cooling to the late 1970’s, warming to 1998 and declining since. The shifts are punctuated by extreme El Niño Southern Oscillation events. Fluctuations between La Niña and El Niño peak at these times and climate then settles into a damped oscillation. Until the next critical climate threshold – due perhaps in a decade or two if the recent past is any indication.

      The relevant timescales for abrupt shifts are decadal and longer.

      http://watertechbyrie.com/2014/06/23/the-unstable-math-of-michael-ghils-climate-sensitivity/

      • Curious George

        What exactly is a mathematical network approach? Where can I find a definition of it? Could it have been invented specifically to analyse abrupt climate change on decadal timescales?

      • There’s no doubt that the “mathematical network approach” in examining relationships between time-series is very au courant . But that doesn’t make it a substitute for reliable physics. What advocates of that approach in climate studies cannot begin to explain is the presumed abrupt energy change in a system whose major component–the oceans–has very high thermal inertia. That leaves the interpretation of results entirely in the realm phenomenology, as in alchemy.

      • The network model of Tsonis reveals dynamical complexity in climate – one of the three great ideas of 20th century physics.

        As for energy – you need to look at the evidence.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/earthshine.gif.html?sort=3&o=231

        ‘Earthshine changes in albedo shown in blue, ISCCP-FD shown in black and CERES in red. A climatologically significant change before CERES followed by a long period of insignificant change.’

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Wong2006figure7.gif.html?sort=3&o=250

      • Rob Ellison:

        Proper analysis of dynamical systems (my specialty in geophysics) requires far more than the phenomenological “network approach” of Tsonis or the short snippets of various time series that you present as putative dynamical evidence. Rhapsodizing about the “great ideas of physics” in the present context is mere rhetoric, never a substitute for serious scientific thought.

      • ‘We construct a network of observed climate indices in the period 1900–2000 and investigate their collective behavior. The results indicate that this network synchronized several times in this period. We find that in those cases where the synchronous state was followed by a steady increase in the coupling strength between the indices, the synchronous state was destroyed, after which a new climate state emerged. These shifts are associated with significant changes in global temperature trend and in ENSO variability. The latest such event is known as the great climate shift of the 1970s. We also find the evidence for such type of behavior in two climate simulations using a state-of-the-art model. This is the first time that this mechanism, which appears consistent with the theory of synchronized chaos, is discovered in a physical system of the size and complexity of the climate system.’ http://heartland.org/policy-documents/new-dynamical-mechanism-major-climate-shifts

        Far from Rhapsodizing – I merely suggested that dynamical complexity was physics of the profound kind. On the other hand I suggested looking at data.

        There are behaviours characteristic of the broad class of dynamical systems – slowing down and noisy bifurcation especially. It is this behavior in the indices that Tsonis and colleagues found.

        e.g. http://www.pnas.org/content/105/38/14308.full

        Generally in climate it is called abrupt climate change. It is obvious in the data itself but finding it in the modern system is very significant.

        Go away John – you are not saying anything interesting at all and saying it in objectionable ways. Ultimately a total waste of our time.

      • It’s no surprise that those who have only read about and pontificated about real-world science would want experienced doers to “go away.” Stop wasting bandwidth!

      • So let’s summarise John’s position. It just isn’t because he says so on his own authority and I’m a dick?

        Network math is one way to approach chaotic systems. Chaos is not merely ‘real physics’ but one of the three great ideas of 20th century physics.

      • Rob Ellison:

        Alas, you grasp my position no more than than the mathematical concept of chaos. It is by no means a universal physical law, but a feature of only certain nonlinear dynamical systems, which exhibit unpredictable divergences of nearby trajectories in state space. None of the papers to which you link even remotely specifies the evolution function of the climate system nor identifies any bifurcation points. It is through sheer academic fiat that chaotic behavior and hand-waving notions of “positive feedback” are posited in the collective behavior of manufactured indices and unvalidated proxy reconstructions in forming wholly unconvincing explanations of abrupt climate shifts. No alternative explanations, such as episodic changes in external forcing, are even considered.

        Using the same quaint analysis methods equally uncritically, one no doubt could find abrupt shifts in some records of diurnal temperature variations–and foolishly attribute them to chaos.

      • ‘What defines a climate change as abrupt? Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small.’ NAS 2002
        ‘The Earth’s climate system is highly nonlinear: inputs and outputs are not proportional, change is often episodic and abrupt, rather than slow and gradual, and multiple equilibria are the norm. While this is widely accepted, there is a relatively poor understanding of the different types of
        nonlinearities, how they manifest under various conditions, and whether they reflect a climate system driven by astronomical forcings, by internal feedbacks, or by a combination of both. In this paper, after a brief tutorial on the basics of climate nonlinearity, we provide a number of illustrative examples and highlight key mechanisms that give rise to nonlinear behavior, address scale and methodological issues, suggest a robust alternative to prediction that is based on using integrated assessments within the framework of vulnerability studies and, lastly, recommend a number of research priorities and the establishment of education programs in Earth Systems Science. It is imperative that the Earth’s climate system research community embraces this nonlinear paradigm if we are to move forward in the assessment of the human influence on climate.’ http://www.unige.ch/climate/Publications/Beniston/CC2004.pdf

        ‘The use of a coupled ocean–atmosphere–sea ice model to hindcast (i.e., historical forecast) recent climate variability is described and illustrated for the cases of the 1976/77 and 1998/99 climate shift events in the Pacific. The initialization is achieved by running the coupled model in partially coupled mode whereby global observed wind stress anomalies are used to drive the ocean/sea ice component of the coupled model while maintaining the thermodynamic coupling between the ocean/sea ice and atmosphere components. Here it is shown that hindcast experiments can successfully capture many features associated with the 1976/77 and 1998/99 climate shifts. For instance, hindcast experiments started from the beginning of 1976 can capture sea surface temperature (SST) warming in the central-eastern equatorial Pacific and the positive phase of the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) throughout the 9 years following the 1976/77 climate shift, including the deepening of the Aleutian low pressure system. Hindcast experiments started from the beginning of 1998 can also capture part of the anomalous conditions during the 4 years after the 1998/99 climate. The authors argue that the dynamical adjustment of heat content anomalies that are present in the initial conditions in the tropics is important for the successful hindcast of the two climate shifts.’ http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00626.1

        ”The climate system has jumped from one mode of operation to another in the past. We are trying to understand how the earth’s climate system is engineered, so we can understand what it takes to trigger mode switches. Until we do, we cannot make good predictions about future climate change… Over the last several hundred thousand years, climate change has come mainly in discrete jumps that appear to be related to changes in the mode of thermohaline circulation.’ Wally Broecker

        ‘In 1963, Lorenz published his seminal paper on ‘Deterministic non-periodic flow’, which was to change the course of weather and climate prediction profoundly over the following decades and to embed the theory of chaos at the heart of meteorology. Indeed, it could be said that his view of the atmosphere (and subsequently also the oceans) as a chaotic system has coloured our thinking of the predictability of weather and subsequently climate from thereon.

        Lorenz was able to show that even for a simple set of nonlinear equations (1.1), the evolution of the solution could be changed by minute perturbations to the initial conditions, in other words, beyond a certain forecast lead time, there is no longer a single, deterministic solution and hence all forecasts must be treated as probabilistic. The fractionally dimensioned space occupied by the trajectories of the solutions of these nonlinear equations became known as the Lorenz attractor (figure 1), which suggests that nonlinear systems, such as the atmosphere, may exhibit regime-like structures that are, although fully deterministic, subject to abrupt and seemingly random change.’ http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.full

        In the words of Michael Ghil (2013) the ‘global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’

        The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation.

        ‘In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system�s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles. The generation of such model ensembles will require the dedication of greatly increased computer resources and the application of new methods of model diagnosis. Addressing adequately the statistical nature of climate is computationally intensive, but such statistical information is essential.’ IPCC TAR 14.2.2.2

        Climate is a multiply coupled nonlinear chaotic system – like it or not.

      • There’s never been any question that the climate system contains nonlinear elements that may exhibit chaotic behavior. That is plainly manifest in turbulent convection and advection that redistributes heat in the atmosphere and oceans. The issue is whether mere “synchronization” of chaos in a “network” of constructed climate indices provides anything beyond a facile phenomenological explanation of “abrupt” climate shifts. I maintain that, in the absence of any dynamical system specification, it does not.

        Ironically enough, the “tutorial” of Rial et al echoes my basic critique, in that “there is a relatively poor understanding of the different types of nonlinearities, how they manifest under various conditions, and whether they reflect a climate system driven by astronomical forcings, by internal feedbacks, or by a combination of both. And they conclude: “We must emphasize however that there is as yet no basic understanding of abrupt climate change.”

    • Very interesting. Well written.

      I’m not sure I’m a big fan of dynamic climate sensitivity, but would be interested to see how many others jump on that bandwagon. It could be interpreted as a not so subtle face saving exercise for admitting the models may have carbon sensitivity overblown, but still hanging onto a tagline that it might change later.

    • Thanks, Robert. I’ll happily accept the appellation of “Monster lover” rather than “denier,” the defining characteristic of existence is change, and in the absence of perfect knowledge, that will always entail uncertainty. As I’ve said before, it often seems that those inclined to be warmists rather than of a sceptical bent find it difficult to accept the reality of change and uncertainty.

    • ‘An important aspect in the theory of synchronization between coupled nonlinear oscillators is coupling strength. It is vital to note that synchronization and coupling are not interchangeable; for example, it is trivial to construct a pair of coupled simple harmonic oscillators whose displacements are in quadrature (and hence perfectly uncorrelated),
      but whose phases are strongly coupled [Vanassche et al., 2003]. As such, coupling is best measured by how strongly the phases of different modes of variability are linked. The theory of synchronized chaos predicts that in many cases when such systems synchronize, an increase in coupling between the oscillators may destroy the synchronous state and alter the system’s behavior [Heagy et al., 1995; Pecora et al., 1997].’ http://heartland.org/sites/all/modules/custom/heartland_migration/files/pdfs/21743.pdf

      The important relationship in the climate indices – these measured values that capture important modes of climate variability – behave like systems of coupled nonlinear oscillators. The theory of synchronous chaos. It is important to understand what is being demonstrated and why. We get back to network maths that John was so disparaging of.

      The abrupt changes in the system are fairly obvious – e.g. http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/enso/mei/ts.gif

      When did the ‘Great Pacific Climate Shift’ happen? Was there a shift in 1998/2002? Can we predict the approach to a shift using coupling strength between the network of nonlinear oscillations?

      ‘What defines a climate change as abrupt? Technically, an abrupt climate change occurs when the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause. Chaotic processes in the climate system may allow the cause of such an abrupt climate change to be undetectably small.’ NAS 2002

      The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defined abrupt climate change as a new climate paradigm as long ago as 2002. A paradigm in the scientific sense is a theory that explains observations. A new science paradigm is one that better explains data – in this case climate data – than the old theory. The new theory says that climate change occurs as discrete jumps in the system. Climate is more like a kaleidoscope – shake it up and a new pattern emerges – than a control knob with a linear gain.

      The theory of abrupt climate change is the most modern – and powerful – in climate science and has profound implications for the evolution of climate this century and beyond.

      The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation. The new theory suggests that global warming is not guaranteed and that climate surprises are inevitable.

      Makes sense as an explanation of climate data does it not?

  51. “There’s a whole world of scientists who may have novel techniques, new insights and compelling arguments for different estimates of warming, or new estimates of climate sensitivity, than adopted by the IPCC and other synthesis studies. Are they afraid to publish these arguments and the data supporting them because they are worried they may be dismissed as ‘non-climate scientists’?”

    The answer to this coyly posed question is simple. These “non-climate scientists” are not the least bit afraid to publish in line with the consensus, especially if they can sing that golden refrain:

    “It’s worse than we thought!”

    We are merely being softened up here by a lot of pseudo-skeptical verbiage which leads nowhere but back to the rigid dogmas and assumptions of the old climatariat. This whole article by Will Howard is a none too subtle effort to push the CAGW line while making comforting glasnost noises.

    In a world still largely ignorant of most of the inner earth and deep oceans, of orbits and sun, you would a “scientist” could find something to do apart from juggling words to let us know we are all free to disagree over how to agree with the absurdities of the IPCC.

    Good try, warmies.

    • @ mosomoso

      “There’s a whole world of scientists who may have novel techniques, new insights and compelling arguments for different estimates of warming, or new estimates of climate sensitivity, than adopted by the IPCC and other synthesis studies.”

      You hit it.

      As long as they accept, as an axiom rather than a theory, that there is a monotonically rising ‘signature’ buried in the temperature record and that the rise is a direct result of ACO2, they can argue and estimate the details of how they arrived at their conclusion and the direness of the predicted (estimated) consequences to their little hearts’ content. And have close to 100% chance of getting published, whether they have Climate Science Credentials or not.

      If they examine the data, argue and estimate that the whole CAGW flap is all sound and fury, signifying nothing, and that no ‘climate change policies’ are warranted or are likely to have measurable efficacy if adopted, their chances of being published in ‘recognized’ climate science forums and having their results trumpeted worldwide in the mainstream media are zero, no matter HOW robust their data or sound the conclusions drawn from it.

      They CAN be confident that if their work somehow DOES see the light of day that their work and their reputations, personal and professional, will be trashed instantly, and if they are academics without tenure, their chances of obtaining it went directly to zero, without collecting $200.

  52. I am having so much difficulty with this thread: consensus. Using the political definition ala Cook et al, allows me to discount a great deal what dribbles from the warmist coterie.

    The concept of consilience in science necessarily includes the concepts of skepticism and alternative ideas. Obviously the warmist elite have discounted skepticism as the science is said to be settled. After all, physics is physics, appropriately applied, climate science is a slam-dunk. Then we get to consilience, convergence of alternative means of inquiry. And, here’s the rub. If the warmists don’t admit the doubts, then there is no “science”, none at all. All the trace gas radiative transfer model has become is a monotone. Dullness and incomprehensible boredom ensue.

    I am sorry Dr. Curry.

    Scientists use this word [consusnsus] to refer to consilience of multiple lines of evidence that underlie widespread agreement or support a theory.

    Your blog and others illustrate that there is no consilience, there is uncertainty, hesitation, reflection, many many “yes, buts”.

    The chorus of skepticism has many voices. The screech of consensus proponents pierces the dialogue. Only the immediate neighbor in the choir can effectively say: “tone it down, you’re not the only one singing this hymnal. You have to consider other’s (opinions).”

    Herein lies the problem as I see it; consensus implies that the many agree, when indeed, for climate science, consensus has become the voice of the few. Any time “Carman ” is presented, a different version appears, the musical score changes upon the whim of the presenter. How prophetic. How thoroughly climate science.

    • True, true… The medium is the message. ~Marshall McLuhan

      Continued support of Mann’s hockey stick, long after it was debunked, cannot be seen as anything other one thing; ditto re academia’s likening of the climate change phenomenon to the analogy of a greenhouse; and, ditto re academia’s claim of a consensus of opinion concerning AGW theory.

      Evidence of, U L T E R I O R M O T I V E S.

      • That’s an excellent example Wag, there isn’t a valid academic paper supporting “97%” in of anything but the urban media legend never gets rebuffed the alleged leadership groups or fake gatekeeping media.

        Lying is such a cultural norm and there is no accountability. Go look at my post above regarding Jimmy Carter and the 60% “renewable” Canada quote. The context is TOTAL DISHONESTY of meaning but it rolls off his lips like a bible verse. You need a decoder ring to deal with these people and even then you can’t.

        With government and media assistance both the hockey stick and 97% have long propaganda functions ahead of them. New lies can be invented in a heart-beat as well but there is something effective about a persistent repetitive fabrication. There is something even deficient in how these topics are addressed by those who discount them. Why don’t they simply call them fabrications and stop wasting time validating (over and over) the debunking proofs? The real question in the public’s mind is why they lie not “if” they lie? Most of academia can’t handle that question publicly including our host.

      • Christian Schlüchter called it: Our society is fundamentally dishonest.

    • Climate science is more like Die Fledermaus. There’s a beginning and an end, and a huge space in the middle where you do whatever moves you.

  53. You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause.

    It does not speak well of Howard’s ability to do science that he misrepresents Cook’s data in the very first sentence.

    • Meaning, the existence of the expert consensus on human-caused global warming is a reality… nevertheless?

      • I’m not sure what you mean, but no. Cook’s data showed that 97% of the abstracts indicated that the authors seemed to agree that anthropogenic warming is occurring… but not that humans are the cause of warming. The implication that anthropogenic CO2 is the only cause of current warming is Just Plain Wrong and I would be willing to bet that you could not get 1% of climate scientists to endorse it. Thus, Howard fundamentally misrepresents Cook (who, in turn, misrepresents his own data in his conclusions) in his very first sentence.

        To call this kind of “science” shoddy would be too generous.

      • Even the name of Cook’s website is a lie. This is taken from Forbes:

        “Global warming alarmists and their allies in the liberal media have been caught doctoring the results of a widely cited paper asserting there is a 97-percent scientific consensus regarding human-caused global warming. After taking a closer look at the paper, investigative journalists report the authors’ claims of a 97-pecent consensus relied on the authors misclassifying the papers of some of the world’s most prominent global warming skeptics. At the same time, the authors deliberately presented a meaningless survey question so they could twist the responses to fit their own preconceived global warming alarmism.”

      • The 97% consensus claimed by the Left is tantamount to a ‘Convert to Islam or Die’ warning from Isis to Iraq Christians.

      • ==> “The 97% consensus claimed by the Left is tantamount to a ‘Convert to Islam or Die’ warning from Isis to Iraq Christians.”

        Yeah. No difference, really. Same thing. Yup. No difference at all. None. Identical.

      • Are you implying that it is a much harder thing to face, being told you must convert from Catholicism to Islam than it is to be told you must covert from reason to mania, or is it the immediacy of the life or death consequences that you believe changes everything?

        “At the extreme,” says Adler,“regulations that impose substantial costs can even increase overall mortality.” How many lives have been destroyed by Western academia’s facilitation of the politics of fear? Pseudoscience has been used to fuel irrational alarmism in areas from global warming and tropospheric ozone to biotechnology and population growth. More people, says the bumper sticker, were killed at Chappaquiddick than at Three Mile Island.

    • “You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause.” This does not refer to Cook’s paper, but to many public statements following the Cook et al. paper. Such as President Obama’s famous tweet. And the President’s tweet was based on Cook’s paper.

      And when I use that phrase “the cause” I use it advisedly and deliberately. Not because I believe it (I know we are not “the” cause though I say we are “a” cause), but because Skeptical Science says “studies showed that recent natural contributions have been in the cooling direction, thereby masking part of the human contribution and in some cases causing it to exceed 100% of the total warming. ”

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=57

      So I am not misrepresenting Cook’s data at all. In the very next paragraph I note: “The 97% figure comes from a paper by social scientist John Cook at the University of Queensland and colleagues, who quantified this consensus by analysing the abstracts of scientific papers on climate change.”

      • Curious George

        Never bother to read a scientific paper. An abstract is all that matters.

        Am I the only one who sees Cook’s approach as inherently nonsensical?

      • This explanation doesn’t really make much sense. Cook may believe humans are “the cause” (he believes a lot of things…), but 97% of scientists certainly do not believe that.

        As I recall the IPCC says it is 95% certain that the warming from the mid 20th century is in the range of 51% to 95% from anthropogenic sources. That is, it is less than 5% likely that it is “the cause”.

        It doesn’t add up. If you are simply stating that this is how Cook or the media misrepresents this consensus, then the text should make this more clear?

      • So I am not misrepresenting Cook’s data at all. In the very next paragraph I note: “The 97% figure comes from a paper by social scientist John Cook at the University of Queensland and colleagues, who quantified this consensus by analysing the abstracts of scientific papers on climate change.”

        In other words, you are misrepresenting Cook’s data, though perhaps not the conclusions he attempted to draw from it.

        The rest of your article attempts to show that this “consensus” is based on far more than unanimity of opinion; but since at the outset you misrepresent what the consensus is actually about, the rest of the article is basically irrelevant.

        Mr. Howard, if you want to present science to the public, it is critical to be accurate and to not make overreaching statements unsupported by the evidence. Your article here violated that requirement by implying that there exists a broad scientific consensus that human activity is the sole cause of warming in the 20th century. That is false. Period.

        Your attempt to cite Skeptical Science (which, btw, is neither skeptical nor scientific) is entirely irrelevant.

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        I read it like you did, but after several readings of it, I’m almost convinced that WR Howard in some spots actually intended to present what the appearances are, not what the facts are, but he presented a slightly muddled account.
        One can’t say definitely because the composition of it is a bit messed up.

        “You might have heard that 97% of climate scientists agree the world is warming and people are the cause.”

        We have heard that.

        “This level of agreement, known as “consensus””

        That part is troublesome, because it’s not “the consensus” non-idiots refer to.

        “is often put forward in the climate debate in support of human-caused global warming and action to mitigate it. It was recently popularised on US talk show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

        There is the John Oliver “lamebrain version” presented as the consensus by some. By many.

        “The 97% figure comes from a paper by social scientist John Cook at the University of Queensland and colleagues, who quantified this consensus”

        Right there is a problem for WR’s essay. He’s melding the study results with other statements. The 97% figure did come from Cook, but it was not for “this consensus” ( the lamebrain version, which the Cook authors also have proposed on the side). Nevertheless, it’s not the consensus non-idiots refer to.

      • Tom Scharf,

        “If you are simply stating that this is how Cook or the media misrepresents this consensus”

        I don’t know if Cook has misrepresented the consensus. I think the media have, in going from Cook’s “97% of abstracts” (which may or may not be correct – remember the co-authors of the paper rated many of the abstracts) to “97% of scientists” (e.g. Obama’s tweet). My critique is not so much of Cook’s estimate of the consensus but of the misuse of the word. For all I know Cook has underestimated the “consensus.”

      • wrhoward,

        I’m getting confused here.

        1. Are you saying that “97% of scientists agree that 100% of warming since 1950 is anthropogenic”?

        2. Are you saying that is what Cook says?

        3. Are you saying that is what the IPCC also says?

        4. Or are we playing semantic gymnastics here and saying “the cause” really means “most of the cause”, and thus is not a misrepresentation?

        I would say that many in the skeptic community find lack of preciseness in the consensus statements to be not unintentional in many cases. I think it is important to be precise here, and it is not difficult to do so. If you are attempting to write to both sides of this debate, this is one point where precision really matters.

      • “…”the skeptic community”

        Interesting.

        I thought that “group think,” motivated reasoning, appeal to authority and assorted other fallacies don’t apply to “skeptics” because there is no “skeptic community.”

        Remember, Tom. “Skeptics” are not monolithic*

      • wrhoward,

        And I do get the point on abstracts vs. scientists. I hadn’t considered that nuance before.

        For the record:

        AR5 (2013) SPM: “It is extremely likely (>95% confidence) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century .”

        “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

        (Note: The IPCC apparently provides no probability distribution here)

        NASA: “Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.”

        Obama: “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

        …and so on…

      • Joshua,

        I know reading comprehension has been a challenge for you, and that the concept of a generalization has not yet been mastered in spite of all your hard work to do so.

        For example “many in the skeptic community” possibly conveys a different meaning than “the skeptic community”.

        Although there are not many people who have the rare insight you do into what people actually mean when they write, there are a rare few who would actually understand that even if I did state “the skeptic community” that this would be a generalization.

        I encourage you to continue to correct what I actually write with what it really means using the special gift you have so others can better understand it.

      • The broader point WR Howard, IT”S ALL ABOUT MISREPRESENTING.

        It’s how Jimmy Carter (link above) mentions “60% of Canada’s energy is renewable” and “we need a carbon tax” as if anything he saying is somehow related. Total fraud and dishonesty. Canada doesn’t have a federal carbon tax, it produced a crushing labor defeat in fact. The “renewable” tagline is more dishonesty, Canada is rich in hydro based on natural resources and a small population (relative to total geography). He mentions it after a long whining diatribe about solar panels, biofuel and wind. There’s nothing innocent about it, he’s deliberately lying and the hack moderators aren’t going to enforce a boundary. This is of course on ten other thing he has said that are distortions and lies as well in the hour he spoke.

        So when Obama tweets about “97%” it’s an outright lie with nothing supporting it academically worth anything. That there is a whole minion community mouthing the same lie simply isn’t an excuse.

        You would think there would be some self-policing from warming advocates, statists like Joshua and Fanboy. You would be wrong, they are whole hog associated to the distortion of how “97%” and “consensus” are defined/distorted to indicate how a broad science community is supporting fanatical mitigation policy conclusions focused on co2 reductions which is conveniently obfuscated from direct survey questions. The Cook paper is nothing more than self appointed “experts” deciding everything they see indicates support for their pet hypothesis. It’s absurd on the face of it.

      • Cook, et al., were ‘caught doctoring,’ that’s true and bad enough but just scratch the surface and you’re still surprised at the degree to which the Left is willing to cheat and lie. Cook, et al., purposefully ‘misled the public’ and the tactics that they employed, ‘shows how embarrassingly feeble their alarmist theory really is.’ –e.g.,

        Cook and colleagues can perhaps claim a small amount of wiggle room in their classifications because the explicit wording of the question… By restricting the question to such a minimalist, largely irrelevant question in the global warming debate and then demanding an explicit, unsolicited refutation of the assertion in order to classify a paper as a ‘consensus’ contrarian, Cook and colleagues misleadingly induce people to believe 97 percent of publishing scientists believe in a global warming crisis when that is simply not the case… Global warming alarmists use their own biased, subjective judgment to misclassify published papers according to criteria that is largely irrelevant to the central issues in the global warming debate. Then, by carefully parsing the language of their survey questions and their published results, the alarmists encourage the media and fellow global warming alarmists to cite these biased, subjective, totally irrelevant surveys as conclusive evidence for the lie that nearly all scientists believe humans are creating a global warming crisis.

        (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2013/05/30/global-warming-alarmists-caught-doctoring-97-percent-consensus-claims/ )

  54. I have no reason tio change my views on this, which I have maintained in these and other columns for many years. Climate is an on/off phenomena: example, Between 1910 and 1940 global atmospheric temperature at ground level rose close by 0.5C. most likely due to increased carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, but this rise stopped in 1940, and temperature fell just as sharply as it had risen, despite even more CO2 in the atmosphere. In fact it was not until 1980 that atmospheric temperature again reached the 1940 value. How do you explain this? Two factors explain this: the atmosphere heats and cools much, much faster than the oceans, but the oceans dominate in the long term. By the way, this data all came from the BOM, Melbourne, Australia (see my website underlined above).

    So the above identifies the on/off behaviour, but not the cause. Why was the fall so precipitous after 1940: that is not normal dynamic system behaviour. I believe the answer lies un the research of James Chadwick of Cambridge fame who discovered the Neutron. a particle as heavy as the proton and therefore dynamically significant and allowing CO2 to absorb or reject much more heat, than physicists would expect. My figure 2 of the above paper shows that the particular vibration mode of the CO2 molecule was approaching 100%. Once it reached 100%, heat would be free to escape the atmosphere. This, in my view, is the reason for the on/off behaviour of climate temperature and suggests the present constancy of climate could continue indefinitely.

  55. “In the case of climate change, multiple lines of evidence underpin the prevailing view that the climate system is showing decade-on-decade warming over the past 50 years.

    In particular, this warming bears temporal and spatial patterns, or “fingerprints”, that point to human causes.”

    Oh, really? Wide-spread skepticism arose precisely because the “multiple lines of evidence” rest on flimsy data, are often grossly inconsistent, and are interpreted highly tendentiously.

  56. Went over to the site, a bit of a love in with John Cook commentating and only 2 lone dissenters. A dyed in the wool warmist.
    A bit of a shame that he promotes Skeptical science viewpoints so strongly
    as Deputy Chair of the Australian National Committee for Antarctic Research.
    I will ask him how it feels to have the record Antarctic sea ice extent set in the next week under his watch and why he uses the usual line of proof of the Arctic melt but then ignores the Antarctic freeze.
    It will be fun seeing him get cold under the collar.

    • I haven’t said anything (yet) about sea ice. Also my essay is a critique of Skeptical Science’s approach.

  57. > Scientists use this word [“consensus”] to refer to consilience of multiple lines of evidence that underlie widespread agreement or support a theory.

    That’s the first time I hear that one. Here’s the Wiki entry for “scientific consensus”:

    Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity.

    Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the publication process, replication (reproducible results by others) and peer review. These lead to a situation in which those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating to outsiders that consensus has been reached can be difficult, because the ‘normal’ debates through which science progresses may seem to outsiders as contestation. On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the “inside” to the “outside” of the scientific community. In cases where there is little controversy regarding the subject under study, establishing what the consensus is can be quite straightforward.

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

    It seems to me that it is this notion of consensus that is being contested. Not because of some semantic ambiguity, but because the most expedient way to undermine the very fact that there’s a scientific consensus is to portray it as the result of some political process. This effort was present before there was a consensus, and will operate whatever alternative concept will be offered, be it consilience of evidence, inference to the best explanation, or else, for the simple reason that this is first and foremost a political debate.

    If you believe that appealing to scientific consensus will give the wrong impression about the consilience of evidence, wait until one of the known alternative gets implemented, e.g.:

    The linear model of climate science expertise conceals uncertainties, ambiguities, dissent and ignorance behind a scientific consensus. The most important actions that are needed with regards to climate science – particularly in context of the IPCC assessment reports – are explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance (both known and unknown unknowns) and more openness for dissent in the IPCC processes. Greater openness about scientific uncertainties and ignorance, and more transparency about dissent and disagreement, would provide policymakers with a more complete picture of climate science and its limitations. In the context of iterative risk management, policy makers need insight into the rate of learning, as well as what is known and unknown.

    https://judithcurry.com/2012/10/28/climate-change-no-consensus-on-consensus/

    We’re very far from a picture where “the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting.”

    In fact, I’d be interested to see an example of a scientific statement that contains both “uncertain” and “overwhelming” applied to the same object.

    • Scientists have been saying that Salt, was killing all the stupid people with DK disease, remember willard? Now it is just like it was yesterday. Uncertain.

      http://news.yahoo.com/study-questions-most-people-cut-212043373.html

      Overwhelming…

      Mark 9:50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.

      Who do you want to believe? Which will cost you more to accept?

      • > Which will cost you more to accept?

        That depends upon the cost of salt, naq.

        In other news, solar just won:

        http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/07/solar-has-won-even-if-coal-were-free-to-burn-power-stations-couldnt-compete

      • In other news, solar just won:

        Not necessarily. Small natural-gas generators in the home are also competitive, although we haven’t seen much of it yet. But the cost of distributing gas is orders of magnitude smaller than electricity.

        And it’s not necessarily an either/or. At least until cheap, available, storage is on the shelf.

      • Cheaper than nuclear, how is that possible? We are getting smart meters now for free, because electricity became so inexpensive we through the old meters away. But of course, you would choose the Sun. Look how high it is in the sky, you miss the point.

      • Cheaper than nuclear, how is that possible?

        It’s not: solar is nuclear.

        Comparing it to fission, read the linked article. Rooftop solar eliminates the need to pay for the distribution network.

      • The electricity market in Queensland is a disaster. Costs have almost doubled as a result of subsidized solar and excessive feed in tariffs, taxes, excessive grid costs based on incompetent contracting methods and recovering grid costs on the basis of unit electricity costs and not per connection.

        Solar is in no sense cheaper than coal. We have stopped paying guaranteed feed ins and let them leave the grid if they want. Their choice. If they stay on the grid – they need to pay higher grid connection costs.

        http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/queensland-government-to-axe-8cperkwh-solar-feedin-tariff-to-cut-electricity-costs/story-fnagkbpv-1226846455254

        But there is a 20 year legacy of paying the most insanely ridiculous rate of $0.44/kWh for solar feed in that adds about 20% to my bill.

        This all means that solar is cheaper? Utterly delusional fantasy economics from fringe activists is what that is. We cannot power industry with solar fantasies and energy costs are the basis of economic success. Queensland is not an example of cheap solar – it is an example of what goes wrong when ideology and wedge politics rules rather than rational economics.

      • Chief, I looks like $0.50 a kWh with the 6c solar bonus on top of the 44c bonus that closed to new applicants in June of 2013. Since Willard, obviously not a business major, thinks solar won, can someone unbiased explain how selling at 10c and buying at 50c can result in negative billing once the solar winner produces more than 20% of the total kWh for a short period during peak solar?

      • There is no market for solar energy. The distributers have to take it all at the government mandated price. The price paid to producers is for he residual demand. If solar supplies all that is needed over a short period then obviously there is no scope for additional supply during that period. Obviously coal generated supplies are still needed – they can’t ramp down to not supply and will have to recover costs at other periods to stay in business.

      • There is no market for solar energy. The distributers have to take it all at the government mandated price. The price paid to other producers is for the residual demand. If solar supplies all that is needed over a short period then obviously there is no scope for additional supply during that period. Obviously coal generated supplies are still needed – they can’t ramp down to not supply and will have to recover costs at other periods to stay in business.

      • I checked – it hadn’t appeared. So I reposted. Something is going wrong.

      • Rob Ellison

        I Skype with my recently Sydney married daughter: I observe she in her down vest and electric heater going. DINC: Double Income No Children, escalating utilities make their budget tight.

        “The electricity market in Queensland is a disaster. Costs have almost doubled as a result of subsidized solar and excessive feed in tariffs, taxes, excessive grid costs based on incompetent contracting methods and recovering grid costs on the basis of unit electricity costs and not per connection.”

        New father-in-law has moved from independent living to assisted living due to strokes and can’t afford utilities.

        As typical of daughter, all in Aussie. Yet, protestations not withstanding, persistence in staying in Oz always buffeted by realities of loss of opportunity, always seen as pugging another hole in the dike. Disillusion. How many ex-Pats will see the same political delusionary policies and drag their reluctant, but mobile hubbies far across the pond to a new opportunity in America’s Mid-West to take root.

        Our Northern neighbor, Ontario Canada, burdened with more intermittent windmills than it can use, selling electric power down South (USA) at a loss, also cannot support its subsidies and must make up loss with electricity distribution charge 400% greater over the last 4 years to make up the difference between purchase price and selling price of power.

        Current windmill power at $0.22/ kWhr. Bruce Nuclear: 4.5 cents/kWhr.

        Ontario’s Green Energy Act is a poster child for a Green lost leader product.

    • Willard: Right On!

    • Rob Ellison “The electricity market in Queensland is a disaster. Costs have almost doubled as a result of subsidized solar and excessive feed in tariffs, taxes, excessive grid costs ”

      The electricity market in Australia is a disaster I think, for many of the reasons you mention.

      • It should be said that, after billions frittered, Australia relies on coal power plants which are old. Australia will continue to rely on old coal power plants. Billions have been spent on alternatives and fiddles, the reliance is still there (as it has to be), and those plants just get older.

        Who thinks it’s a good idea to run a large modern business on fifty year old Ford Falcons? That’s what we are doing, but they soon won’t be fifty year old Falcons. They’ll be sixty year old Falcons.

        This wilful green waste (of carbon!) is occurring at a time when energy independence needs to be at the heart of wise policy, because of such “non-science” energy matters as the Middle East, the South Seas, Nigeria, Venezuela, Ukraine, Russia. In other words, the world.

        Adults. Australia need adults and modernised coal power generation so we don’t waste coal, which should be used with care, appreciation and thrift, in spite of its abundance.

        Old clunkers are for kids to run around in till they get a real job.

  58. Good of Judith to post what I would call a centrist scientific opinion. This is the view that the warming is understood in terms of known effects, and that the uncertainty is nearly all in the effect of the projected warming on society. The real debate should be on the second topic which really is the archetypal wicked problem because different impacts of warming are going to mix together making net outcomes on the world’s various societies hard to predict. The science problem of what causes how much warming is a simple linear one compared to the societal impact/policy problem.

  59. “In science you’re right until you’re proven wrong, and theories survive only as long they stand up to challenge.”

    CO2 may be the best answer and it seems to have this ‘king of the hill’ role at the moment and will remain so until a better answer is found. But while being the king, we still wonder about with how much certainty do we know this? Natural variability might account for more than 50% of the recent changes. I think we should distinguish between weak kings and strong kings. The challenge of the hiatus I think should at least be acknowledged. I think some might be supporting the current king but not searching for the true king or kings if they exist.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    • It was also shown that in the 15 years prior to the hiatus the warming was faster than the models, so these cancel each other and match with natural variability about the model trend. This is why the hiatus is a non-issue on the longer term with 30 year warming rates still being close to model expectations. In fact, the hiatus tended to correct the model underprediction prior to it. Skeptic sites and postings don’t often show what happened from 1983-1998, and their readers are more poorly informed for it, being apparently unable to research this for themselves.

  60. “Most of the impacts we are concerned about are in the future and we have no data for the future. … However, by the time we’re in a position to test the result of, say, doubling greenhouse gas concentrations, it may be too late to mitigate the impacts.”

    Potential impacts in the future; and, not knowing them, we don’t know that mitigation will serve any net beneficial purpose.

  61. How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen
    Environmentalists warn us that apocalypse awaits. Economists tell us that minimal fixes will get us through. Here’s how we can move beyond the impasse.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/09/how-to-talk-about-climate-change-so-people-will-listen/375067/

  62. Climate change measures like ‘primitive civilisations offering up sacrifices to appease the gods’, says Maurice Newman

    He says “a scenario where nations are desperately competing for available energy and food will bring unpredictable threats, far more testing than anything we have seen in recent history”.

    But he fears the “political establishment” is deaf to risks of global cooling because “having made science a religion, it bravely persists with its global warming narrative, ignoring at its peril and ours, the clear warnings being given by Mother Nature”.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/climate-change-measures-like-primitive-civilisations-offering-up-sacrifices-to-appease-the-gods-says-maurice-newman-20140814-3do0v.html

  63. Low Carbon Corn Flakes

    Food giant Kellogg announces efforts to battle climate change

    The announcement by Kellogg comes two weeks after General Mills announced a similar sustainability policy
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2014/08/13/kellogg-climate-change/14012807/

  64. Schrodinger's Cat

    Analysis of the consensus may produce hundreds of different variations on what is believed about climate change and global warming. Perception is the only reality and most people understand that they are being told that 97% of climate scientists believe that mankind’s emissions are responsible for global warming, climate change and extreme weather.

    Most people do not follow the subject and will not have the knowledge of the commenters that typically frequent this site. The consensus argument is quoted at them by journalists and politicians as though it constituted scientific proof. However, people can think for themselves and they don’t believe everything they are told by the press and government.

    As the readers here are aware, mother nature is not cooperating with the climate models and the it is clear that our climate is full of uncertainties and is not well understood. There are those who believe that we will never have the computing power to model the climate in a successful manner. There are others who believe that there are serious flaws in the GHG theory or that the feedbacks are not understood.

    Again, perception is the only reality and in due course Mother Nature will decide how our climate progresses in the future. There may well come a time when it is clear to the people that the consensus was completely wrong.

    So, by their own PR, 97% of climate scientists were wrong! That could be an interesting outcome. This would make a very interesting debate.

    What would trigger this event? The pause lasting 20 years? The onset of cooling? Would the consensus fall apart long before the crisis as its members seek to distance themselves from it? Would the faithful desperately cling to the model projections and insist that warming will resume tomorrow? Would the people back down and accept the voice of authority? I guess the choice of climate rests with Mother Nature but if I were to guess, cooling looks to be more likely than warming.

    In the aftermath, would the concept of a consensus be blamed for creating a false truth about the science and shutting down critical challenge and debate? How much damage would be inflicted on the science and its leaders? Would the scientists accept collective responsibility or start blaming each other?

    A consensus is not just false, it is unhealthy and can be a double edged sword. Those who live by the sword can also die by it.

  65. I am 97% sure that if poleward heat transport is solar driven or if poleward heat transport is from internal variation and is due to switch direction, that 97% of the 97% consensus will be 97% sure they were only agreeing that humans must have some indeterminate influence on the climate but that they were sure of that at the 97% level.

  66. Concluding the “97%”, like “denier” which means “Holocaust Denier” in left-wing media lexicon, like “consensus” itself is the sum total and metaphor for everything evil about the thuggish debate distortions of the climate advocate culture.

    As the IPCC routinely gathers thousands of pages of research only to ignore all but the most inflammatory supporting the leadership agenda, go into a closed meeting and write the distorted and propagandist “summary statement” that suit largely non-scientists, we get the scientifically meaningless “97%” held up by the same suspects. So “97%” is something that doesn’t even mean what distorted and steered polls manufactured imply repeated in the public debate in the same fashion as if IPCC summary conclusions distort the bulk of the inconclusive or apolitical contributions to their project. A reminder that it always was and always will be politically driven. All backed by faulty and contrived research claims.

  67. BREAKING NEWS!

    ACLU sides with Steyn/National Review against Mann!

    Discussed at Climate Audit:

    Mann essentially complains that the defendants accused him of manipulating data, including by molesting and torturing it, to serve a political agenda. … Because the statements are quintessential opinions about the validity of Mann’s scientific methods and conclusions, they are entitled to full constitutional protection. [quoting the ACLU filing in the first link.]

    Why is this relevant to this post? Because the ACLU appears to be coming down very hard on “Appeals to the climate consensus”.

    • If Steyn wins the case, it will be interesting to watch whether my much beloved “skeptics,” those who have told me how our freedoms are obviously and clearly being eroded, as our society has deteriorated, suddenly find renewed faith in our governing institutions.

      • Politics is full of “pointing with alarm”. And it’s easy enough to claim that the chorus of skeptical opposition had something to do with the correct decision being made.

        After all, just because one case turned out OK (if it does) doesn’t mean there won’t be other attempts to silence climate skepticism.

      • Your snide comments always reveal more about you than they do about your beloved “skeptics”, twerp.

      • HI Don.

        Where ya been? I was worried that you’d finally followed through on your many promises to stop reading and responding to my comments.

        What a relief!!!!

        Always nice to know that you’re reading. Gotta go now. I’ve reached my limit.

    • D.       Punishing Defendants’ Speech Because Mann’s Work Had Been Backed by Other Scientists or Governmental Agencies Is Contrary to Core First Amendment Principles.

      Both Mann and the court below appeared to believe that Mann’s scientific conclusions are provably true, including because they have been endorsed by other scientists and because government agencies have accepted them. But, with respect, that question is properly resolved by ongoing public and scientific debate, not in a court of law adjudicating a defamation action. Indeed, the prospect of litigation over evolving scientific study has been a chief reason that similar accusations in other cases have been deemed nonactionable:

      [I]t is the very premise of the scientific enterprise that it engages with empirically verifiable facts about the universe. At the same time, however, it is the essence of the scientific method that the conclusions of empirical research are tentative and subject to revision, because they represent inferences about the nature of reality based on the results of experimentation and observation. . . . In a sufficiently novel area of research, propositions of empirical “fact” advanced in the literature may be highly controversial and subject to rigorous debate by qualified experts. Needless to say, courts are ill-equipped to undertake to referee such controversies. Instead, the trial of ideas plays out in the pages of peer-reviewed journals, and the scientific public sits as the jury.

      ONY, Inc. v. Cornerstone Therapeutics, Inc., 720 F.3d 490, 496-97 (2d Cir. 2013). Echoing this sentiment, the court in Arthur recognized that lawsuits involving the resolution of scientific claims “threaten[] to ensnare the Court in the thorny and extremely contentious debate” into the disputed science, “hardly the sort of issue that would be subject to verification based upon a ‘core of objective evidence.’” 2010 WL 883745, at *6 (citing Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 21):

      Courts have a justifiable reticence about venturing into the thicket of scientific debate, especially in the defamation context. Plaintiff may wish to defend in Court the credibility of her conclusions [and] the policy choices that flow from those views – as well as her own credibility for having advanced those positions. These, however, are academic questions that are not the sort of thing that courts or juries resolve in the context of a defamation action.

      Id.[9]

      So too here. Mann’s claim “threatens to ensnare the court” in the contentious debate over climate change – its existence, causes, and solutions. Having a court or a jury sit as the arbiter of scientific truth is not only contrary to settled First Amendment law, but also stunts the ongoing evolution of scientific exploration. See, e.g., Ezrailson v. Rohrich, 65 S.W.3d 373, 382 (Tex. App. 2001) (“Scientists continuously call into question and test hypotheses and theories; this questioning advances knowledge” and scientific conclusions are “‘subject to perpetual revision. . . . The scientific project is advanced by broad and wide-ranging consideration of a multitude of hypotheses, for those that are incorrect will eventually be shown to be so, and that in itself is an advance.’”) (quoting Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993)); Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374, 406 (1967) (Harlan, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (“[I]n many areas which are at the center of public debate ‘truth’ is not a readily identifiable concept, and putting to the pre-existing prejudices of a jury the determination of what is ‘true’ may effectively institute a system of censorship. Any nation which counts the Scopes trial as part of its heritage cannot so readily expose ideas to sanctions on a jury finding of falsity. ‘The marketplace of ideas’ where it functions still remains the best testing ground for truth.”) (citation omitted).[10]

      Furthermore, to the extent the Superior Court credited Mann’s assertion that investigations by the EPA, the National Science Foundation, and Penn State, among other scientific and governmental bodies, “laid to rest” defendants’ questions regarding Mann’s research, Am. Compl. ¶ 24, this too was in error. See also July 19, 2013 Orders at 16 (suggesting that statements were actionable because “Plaintiff’s work has been investigated and substantiated on numerous occasions”). The fact that certain official panels backed Mann’s methodology – facts that were not only disclosed in the challenged publications but in fact formed the basis for them – cannot allow him to silence his critics in a defamation claim. Under the First Amendment, the government is not the final arbiter of truth with the power to foreclose further challenge to its policies.[11]

      • It’s also amusing to watch the love for the ACLU’s position on this case. I’d just venture to guess that the support from perhaps a few of my much beloved “skeptics” for the ACLU’s perspective on a few other issues – such as affirmative action, minority rights, rights for the disabled, the death penalty, campaign finance, gun control, immigrants’ rights, school prayer, and voting rights – might be a tad lacking.

        The climate wars is always fascinating.

      • ==> “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

        Time to play another round of the “Which Innocuous Word Got Snared in the Blog Filter” game.

        I’ll try again:

        It’s also amusing to watch the love for the ACLU’s position on this case. I’d just venture to guess that the support from perhaps a few of my much beloved “skeptics” for the ACLU’s perspective on a few other issues – such as affirm*tive action, min*rity rights, rights for the dis*bled, the death pen*lty, c*mpaign finance, g*n control, imm*grants’ rights, school pr*yer, and voting r*ghts – might be a tad lacking.

        The climate wars is always fascinating.

      • It’s also amusing to watch the love for the ACLU’s position on this case.

        Personally, I regard the ACLU as a bastion of socialist agendas. They’re very protective of free speech that fits their agenda, and much less so when it doesn’t.

        Which would mean, here, that the ACLU is getting set to throw the whole climate thing under the bus. Maybe. If I’m right in my guess.

      • “Time to play another round of the “Which Innocuous Word Got Snared in the Blog Filter” game.”

        I am hoping it was “Joshua”. Ha ha.

    • Nice exposition.

      Everything will get played around pp. 13-15.

  68. Climate Deniers Are Still Massively Outnumbered
    Posted on August 12, 2014 by Joshua De Leon
    http://ringoffireradio.com/2014/08/climate-deniers-are-still-massively-outnumbered/

    • Time For An Ob

      Is that the deniers who deny radiative forcing?
      Or the deniers that deny the cooling trend since 2001?

    • Matthew R Marler

      brent, here is a contrary view: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-nation/2014/08/10/Survey-Climate-Change-Impact/stories/201408100110

      Literally, no one “denies” climate. “Climate denier” is just another loose phrase (c.f. Francis Bacon: “Idols of the marketplace”) used to disguise what the debates are about.

    • In that link, I read:
      According to a 2009 survey, 97.5 percent of all active, publishing climatologists believed that human-produced GHGs contributed to the earth’s changing climate. That majority has remained consistent throughout several subsequent surveys which indicated, from 2010 to 2013, that an average of 97 percent of climate scientists believed climate change is attributed to man-made causes.

      Duh. The Alarmist publishers only publish Alarmist Stuff. They keep the percentage high by kicking out anyone who is skeptical.

      They have no actual data that supports the Alarmism and their days are numbered.

  69. Risky Business: Billionaires Hype Climate for Power and Profit
    When billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, together with former Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs CEO) Henry Paulson, released their “Risky Business” report on catastrophic climate change in June, the usual suspects in the establishment media choir responded on cue. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times the Chicken Littles of global warming are proven spectacularly wrong, every new prediction of an imminent climate apocalypse is treated with reverent credulity by the alleged watchdogs of the Fourth Estate.
    http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/18899-risky-business-billionaires-hype-climate-for-power-and-profit

    • Good news. Where I worked the number of female engineers had sky-rocketed and things got better because of it. My experience was that they were better listeners than the men and induced a better work environment. Many of the women rose to management levels and were excellent bosses. I counted them as the best.

      • I’m all in favour of women engineers. My daughter Jessie is an engineer, having mainly worked on the design and construction of pipelines in major minerals processing plants and mines, in Australia, Canada and South Africa. On Saturday she married an IT engineer.

  70. how is that scientific consensus on the need to reduce dietary sodium intake?
    http://online.wsj.com/articles/recommended-salt-levels-could-do-more-harm-than-good-study-suggests-1407964274

  71. John Smith (it's my real name)

    As an ordinary bloke trying educate myself about this issue, I have done my best to read nearly everything on SkS – I find the site to be terrible – It’s hard to believe Cook is taken seriously – SkS appears “sciencey,” but when my untrained eyes read it, my BS alarms go off – reasonable skeptical questions are met with derision and condescension from the moderator …
    I come to Climate Etc. to feel clean again.
    Kim … I’m not sure what you mean half the time, but I think you might be awesome.

    • The heretic, Patrick Moore (co-founder of Greenpeace, see, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout…) had an interesting observation:

      There’s a common misconception that per capita consumption of energy and resources is directly related to negative environmental impact. We’re told that, because the average North American consumes 80 times as much as the average Bangladeshi, we cause 80 times the damage. But all one need do is travel to Bangladesh to see the impact of poverty on the environment. Forests are stripped bare for subsistence farming, rivers are fouled for lack of sewage treatment, and wildlife is severely reduced through poaching. These people need more resources, not less… As a sensible environmentalist, I believe we should be planting more trees and using more wood-the world’s most renewable resource- while building upon and sharing everything we’ve learned about forest sustainability. ~Dr. Patrick Moore

    • In 1939 Churchill described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” He possibly adapted this from a description of an ageless Kim in those far off years when he was a homeless urchin in the streets of Lahore, recognising his links with the Great Game, which Churchill was later immersed in, cf his coining of the term “Iron Curtain.”

  72. Thanks all for the comments. I wrote this comment over at The Conversation too, but my take-away from the discussion here would be similar:

    Reading the essay again, I would say I should have added more nuance to the statement “This to-ing and fro-ing might give the impression that climate science is somehow still under debate, but the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting.”

    In retrospect it reads too much like a “the science is settled”-like statement – a statement I object to.

    Rather I think it’s better to say some areas of climate science are well established and accepted within the scientific community, others are still under debate.

    So, for example, the overall warming of the atmosphere and ocean over the past ~150 years is clear. There’s still work to be done on precisely how much and where, especially where data are scarce (polar regions, the deep ocean basins).

    The idea that gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and others are strong absorbers in the infrared is not in dispute. The idea that, all else being equal, additions of these gases will tend to warm the surface is also not in dispute. But of course all else is not equal, as the recent “pause” or “hiatus” in warming illustrates, especially on time scales of a few years.

    But how much warming will GHGs produce? Crucial question, because we would not get strong warming from the radiative properties of theses gases by themselves (so-called “Planck” feedback); feedbacks from water vapour, clouds, and others have to kick in. How strong are these feedbacks? There is a wide range of estimates. Indeed IPCC did not provide a single central estimate for climate sensitivity in the latest assessment report but rather referred to a range of sensitivities, *likely* in the range 1.5 to 4.5C.

    The response of “extreme events” like drought, floods, bush fires, cyclones to anthropogenic climate change is still unclear. However underlying risk factors have a link to climate change: e.g. bushfire weather, sea level rise, evaporation from land surfaces.

    When we look at the historical record for evidence that the frequency and/or intensity of these events has increased globally in recent decades, it is unclear for many of them. Does that mean there is no climate change effect on these phenomena? No. It may mean that confounding effects (e.g. we have some ability to manipulate fire) and other sources of variability are still dominant and it may be decades before detection of trends in some of these extremes, let alone attribution to anthropogenic climate change, is clear and unambiguous. See IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events for more information.

    So if I were writing this essay again, I’d say there is a spectrum of scientific debate across a range of aspects of climate change, with some still-open questions and some well-established understandings.

    • Thank you for that clarification. I am in agreement with your reflection on what you wrote. I hope others appreciate it as well.

    • ‘The richness of the El Nino behaviour, decade by decade and century by century, testifies to the fundamentally chaotic nature of the system that we are attempting to predict. It challenges the way in which we evaluate models and emphasizes the importance of continuing to focus on observing and understanding processes and phenomena in the climate system. It is also a classic demonstration of the need for ensemble prediction systems on all time scales in order to sample the range of possible outcomes that even the real world could produce. Nothing is certain.’ http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1956/4751.full

      Although a significant factor in global climate on the scale of decades – the Pacific Ocean decadal modes are part of a global climate system that is variable at many scales in time and space.

      In the words of Michael Ghil (2013) the ‘global climate system is composed of a number of subsystems – atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’

      The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation.

      Dynamic climate sensitivity implies the potential for a small push to initiate a large shift. Climate in this theory of abrupt change is an emergent property of the shift in global energies as the system settles down into a new climate state. The traditional definition of climate sensitivity as a temperature response to changes in CO2 makes sense only in periods between climate shifts – as climate changes at shifts are internally generated. Climate evolution is discontinuous at the scale of decades and longer.

      In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum (Swanson and Tsonis, 2009).

      As I said earlier – what we have in wrhoward is a self appointed AGW groupthink gatekeeper. This is not science – this is a rote learned group narrative. The giveaway is how word perfect the recitation is and the certainty of the unscience is always implicitly linked with a failed Kyoto approach that will always be resisted and the resistance grow ever more scathing as the world refuses to warm.

      I’d suggest along with Tim Palmer and Julia Slingo that nothing is certain and that this is something that some people are quite unable to process as a result of cognitive dissonance. We are stuck with this until the anomalies grow too great to be post hoc rationalized away – at which stage I fear the Kool-Aid will emerge.

    • hydrosphere and lithosphere – each of which has distinct characteristic times, from days and weeks to centuries and millennia. Each subsystem, moreover, has its own internal variability, all other things being constant, over a fairly broad range of time scales. These ranges overlap between one subsystem and another. The interactions between the subsystems thus give rise to climate variability on all time scales.’

      The theory suggests that the system is pushed by greenhouse gas changes and warming – as well as solar intensity and Earth orbital eccentricities – past a threshold at which stage the components start to interact chaotically in multiple and changing negative and positive feedbacks – as tremendous energies cascade through powerful subsystems. Some of these changes have a regularity within broad limits and the planet responds with a broad regularity in changes of ice, cloud, Atlantic thermohaline circulation and ocean and atmospheric circulation.

      Dynamic climate sensitivity implies the potential for a small push to initiate a large shift. Climate in this theory of abrupt change is an emergent property of the shift in global energies as the system settles down into a new climate state. The traditional definition of climate sensitivity as a temperature response to changes in CO2 makes sense only in periods between climate shifts – as climate changes at shifts are internally generated. Climate evolution is discontinuous at the scale of decades and longer.

      In the way of true science – it suggests at least decadal predictability. The current cool Pacific Ocean state seems more likely than not to persist for 20 to 40 years from 2002. The flip side is that – beyond the next few decades – the evolution of the global mean surface temperature may hold surprises on both the warm and cold ends of the spectrum (Swanson and Tsonis, 2009).

      As I said earlier – what we have in wrhoward is a self appointed AGW groupthink gatekeeper. This is not science – this is a rote learned group narrative. The giveaway is how word perfect the recitation is and the certainty of the unscience is always implicitly linked with a failed Kyoto approach that will always be resisted and the resistance grow ever more scathing as the world refuses to warm.

      I’d suggest along with Tim Palmer and Julia Slingo that nothing is certain and that this is something that some people are quite unable to process as a result of cognitive dissonance. We are stuck with this until the anomalies grow too great to be post hoc rationalized away – at which stage I fear the Kool-Aid will emerge.

      • Can you delete this Judy – instead of coming back to CE I had a 404 error so just reposted instead of checking whether it had appeared or not.

        Cheers

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      The main interest shown, though, is in the recent warming, i.e., from 1950, and particularly CO2 relating warming.
      A statement about 1850 on which could be widely agreed upon and includes land use and all other factors, then is often used to say “consensus” things about GHGs and recent warming.

      Sticking to CO2, the recent warming and % attributed would draw far less agreement.

    • We know very little about the Sun and ourselves if we cannot agree that looking at climate change we get a better far correlation between the number of sunspots than with increases in atmospheric CO2. (See–e.g., Usoskin et al., Evidence for distinct modes of solar activity, A&A 562 (2014)

    • “So, for example, the overall warming of the atmosphere and ocean over the past ~150 years is clear.”
      This statement is ridiculously simplistic. Humans started adding significant CO2 when? Around 1940?

      The earth goes through the little ice age, so we are at a natural relative low point, then the earth starts warming naturally, prior to any human cause. Then humans start adding a very small amount of CO2 compared to today and by the 1930s we see about half of the “modern warming”, but with only a small amount of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere. Then humans industrialize and start pumping significant amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and what happens? Global temps go down, so much so that scientists start warning of the coming of a new ice age. Then temps start going up again. Now it’s proof of AGW and then as the AGW consensus really solidifies, the temperature rises inconveniently pauses right where it was predicted to take off. So CO2 rise does not really match the temp rise very well.

      Then we can look at the other half of the Global Warming issue, which is, are humans and the rest of the biosphere able to adapt to this warming or will it be catastrophic? As far as I can tell humans and mother earth are doing just fine.

      • dennis, That’s a straight-out observation. I didn’t say anything about attribution there. If there’s a dispute about the statement that “the overall warming of the atmosphere and ocean over the past ~150 years is clear” then sure let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the alternative data sets one would cite, etc.

  73. Group therapy tackles climate change anxiety
    Psychotherapist Rosemary Randall counsels people on their feelings of powerlessness and anxiety around climate change issues. In this interview with DW, she explains how this can contribute to a neccesary transformation
    http://www.dw.de/group-therapy-tackles-climate-change-anxiety/a-17853991

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  75. Retreating mountain glaciers is one part of the “fingerprint” I would cite. This paper suggests there is an anthropogenic component though perhaps not as great as I had previously thought:

    Marzeion, B., J. G. Cogley, K. Richter, and D. Parkes (2014), Attribution of global glacier mass loss to anthropogenic and natural causes, Science, doi:10.1126/science.1254702.

    The ongoing global glacier retreat is affecting human societies by causing sea-level rise, changing seasonal water availability, and increasing geohazards. Melting glaciers are an icon of anthropogenic climate change. However, glacier response times are typically decades or longer, which implies that the present-day glacier retreat is a mixed response to past and current natural climate variability and current anthropogenic forcing. Here, we show that only 25 ± 35% of the global glacier mass loss during the period from 1851 to 2010 is attributable to anthropogenic causes. Nevertheless, the anthropogenic signal is detectable with high confidence in glacier mass balance observations during 1991 to 2010, and the anthropogenic fraction of global glacier mass loss during that period has increased to 69 ± 24%.

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      ” Nevertheless, the anthropogenic signal is detectable with high confidence in glacier mass balance observations during 1991 to 2010″

      Sounds completely bogus.

      Can you explain how they figure that anthro signal in glacier mas balance? Or is it from soot?

      • Needless to say, glaciers, like temps, have a history like a long squiggly ribbon, with little waves within big waves. Like the Holocene temp fluctuations, none of this was ever secret or cotroversial…till it got clobbered by a hockey stick.

        Glacial retreat HAS to happen, and in a big way. If it ever stops happening (along with advances like the ones which terrified N Europe in the 1600s) then there will be something wrong. But glacial retreat continues to occur in warming phases such as the present one – and there is nothing wrong.

        Just try to enjoy the interglacial while it’s here. If our Pensive Classes think it’s not playing fair by sucking back glaciers and filling in Bass Strait, just hear ’em to squeal when things go the other way. As to the possibility of temps and glaciers staying just so in a nice stable climate…better shop for a nicer planet.

    • ‘With this final correction, the ERBS Nonscanner-observed decadal changes in tropical mean LW, SW, and net radiation between the 1980s and the 1990s now stand at 0.7, 2.1, and 1.4 W/m2, respectively, which are similar to
      the observed decadal changes in the High-Resolution Infrared Radiometer Sounder (HIRS) Pathfinder OLR and the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) version FD record but disagree with the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Pathfinder ERB record. Furthermore, the observed interannual variability of near-global ERBS WFOV Edition3_Rev1 net radiation is found to be remarkably consistent with the latest ocean heat storage record for the overlapping time period of 1993 to 1999. Both datasets show variations of roughly 1.5Wm2 in planetary net heat balance during the 1990s.’ http://www.image.ucar.edu/idag/Papers/Wong_ERBEreanalysis.pdf

      So at this stage he is reduced to quoting random glacier studies. Yes we know it was warming. Quite strongly in SW with cooling in IR it seems.

      What do we really know about cloud?

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandlaken2013_zps3c92a9fc.png.html?sort=3&o=137

      http://www.benlaken.com/documents/AIP_PL_13.pdf

      Not enough it seems.

    • WrHoward

      I have done a lot of research on glaciers aided by such books as Laduries ‘Tines of Feast times of Famine’ from which we are able to reconstruct the generalities (but not the nuances) of Glacial advances and retreats in the Northern Hemisphere over the last few thousand years. I have also visited several glaciers and examined their records in the local museums

      Here are these retreats and advances against which has been set the Hockey Stick and CET

      “Fig 5-3000 year Glacier movements with CET decadal/50 year steps and Mann et al 1998

      A closed blue horizontal line at the top of the graph equates to a period of glacial retreat (warmth) and a closed blue line at foot of graph demonstrates glacier advance (cold)

      That glacial movements can be surprisingly short lived can be seen in the century long glacier advance around 1200 to 1300 AD, and to a lesser extent the 30 year retreat around 1730. Such short changes as noted in this latter period may be relatively common, but the records are unlikely to exist to be able to trace them in earlier times.

      The small temperature deviations from the ‘norm’ shown in paleo proxy reconstructions- including that of Mann et al 1998-seem most unlikely to be of a scale that can precipitate glacier movements of any consequence. Several consecutive warm cold decades that can be noted in the instrumental records will however likely start such movements which will be accentuated if the prevailing characteristic of warmth or cold lasts for some time. In the case of the MWP this period of warmth lasted around 450 years . (Clearly however brief Warm periods can occur during a general glacial retreat and brief cold periods during glacial advance.) ”

      Glaciers have been retreating in part since 1750. They have been rather volatile items in their retreats advances over the ages and the idea that we have impacted on them via co2 over the last 20 years is fanciful.

      They are currently generally retreating. Eventually history tells us they will generally advance.

      tonyb

      • W R Howard, note that Tony Brown (climatereason) is writing on the basis of extensive research of actual records of events and changes, while the work you quote derives its attributions from models and statistical manipulations rather than direct observation of causes. I’d go with the historical record over models every time.

    • thisisnotgoodtogo

      ” Tree-ring based climate records reveal PDO effects that have resulted in 20-30 year periods of hot, dry summers coupled with decreased winter snowpack (Pederson et al. 2004). These periods have induced rapid recession, as high as 100 m/yr between 1917-1941″

      http://nrmsc.usgs.gov/research/glacier_retreat.htm

  76. No point reading beyond this line……”but the scientific evidence that people are causing climate change is overwhelming, and mounting” because the reality is that the scientific evidence of manmade heating was entirely model-based and is now disproven by mother nature. The only available evidence (ie the data) tells us that the stratosphere hasn’t cooled since 1995, the sea surface temperature down to 700m hasn’t warmed since accurate records replaced guesswork, the tropical troposhere shows no sign of the ‘hotspot’ that would indicate water vapour positive feedback and the global temperature hasn’t increased since 1997. ie the evidence, far from ‘mounting’ is non-existent and always was. The current debate is about where this expected manmade heat went, not about it actually being evident! If any writer doesn’t know these absolute basics then there is nothing he can ever contribute to the discourse.

  77. W Howard is looking at too small a time-scale of his observational ‘evidence’ and projecting linearly forwards for too long – just as the 70s ice-ball-earth folk did!

    • Actually I haven’t talked about forward projections yet, except in my comment about sea level.

  78. Steven Goddard has experienced the dawning of global climate reality

    http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/red-dawn/

  79. A somewhat relevant story in today’s Weekend Australian:

    MAURICE Newman, the head of Tony Abbott’s business advisory council, has accused environmentalists of subjecting him to a gulag-style “re-education campaign’’ after he was attacked for citing scientists who believed the Earth may be in for a cooling phase.
    Mr Newman hit back yesterday after the former head of Julia Gillard’s Climate Commission, Tim Flannery, questioned his fitness to be the advisory council chairman based on an opinion article Mr Newman wrote in The Australian this week. Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt said Mr Newman’s views bordered on “deranged’’. In the article, Mr Newman warned countries would be ill-prepared for a global cooling phase, citing scientists who believe reduced activity by the sun could spark a cooling phase.
    Professor Flannery said: “Mr Newman’s advice, as chair of the Prime Minister’s business advisory panel simply cannot be trusted if he has so little regard for science and facts.”
    Mr Newman said he had not been asserting anything in the article but simply reflecting what other scientists of some eminence were saying.

    … one of those scientists was our own beloved Judith Curry, although she did not refer to prospective cooling.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/maurice-newman-hits-back-on-climate/story-e6frg6xf-1227026101687

  80. The elephant-in-the-room problem is that 97% of climate scientists have an dominant agenda other than science.

    This is because they are the hand-picked servants of politics, and their pay and prospects depend on how well they argue for CAGW, since public acceptance thereof is what political expansionism depends on.

    This vested interest agenda is the basis of the ‘consensus’, and similarly of the corruption behind the official Climategate coverups.

  81. – How to Talk About Climate Change So People Will Listen

    – Environmentalists warn us that apocalypse awaits.
    The truth is noone has the faintest idea yet, least of all environmental scientivists.

    – Economists tell us that minimal fixes will get us through.
    In facts it’s pretty clear to all that the fix – hugely increasing energy prices one way or another – will have anything but a minimal impact.

    So the basic problem is they want us to listen to politically-motivated garbage. Whereas the way to get people to listen, is to STOP talking garbage, and STOP being devious and political.

    • Apparently – according to the article – the new way to sell alarmism is to invoke fleets of aircraft dumping sulfuric acid in the atmosphere.

  82. [Excuse me in advance for not having read all 426 previous comments.]

    Mr. Howard makes a pretty good case for the concept of scientific ‘consensus’ and the distinction between that and the more everyday social and political version of consensus.  However, I think he goes off the deep end where he says: [my bold]

    
That last attribute [of science] – contestability — is the antithesis of “consensus”. Indeed, it is the adversarial nature of science that is its real strength. In science you’re right until you’re proven wrong, and theories survive only as long they stand up to challenge.


    Granted everything written by fans of Popper about the intrinsic ‘unprovability’ of a scientific proposition I think this is a complete misunderstanding of the situation.  Maybe Mr. Howard was being a little loose in his use of the word “right” and didn’t mean the usual interpretation of the word: ‘correct’.  I think a much better word to use would be ‘accepted’, at least in some limited sense, by ‘scientific consensus’ based upon the predictive power, durability of the evidence, and the “Consilience of multiple lines of evidence that underlie widespread agreement or support a theory.”  I would go even further, in many cases in science what we really mean, or maybe ought to really mean, is ‘provisional’ acceptance.

    As scientists we are supposed to understand that there are still unknowns, ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’ and that every theory is incomplete or in error, in whole or in part.  Doesn’t mean that most theories aren’t correct enough and complete enough to be useful.  Doesn’t mean we cannot rely upon a theory to accomplish real and useful ends, it just means we need to understand the boundaries of certainty for the theory.  It just means we don’t know everything yet.

    W^3

  83. Pingback: Science Eats Her Young – Consensus vs Correctness, the Scientific vs the Political and the happy news of the unkown unknown | The Coraline Meme

  84. I am flabbergasted actually at the lack of consensus! This isn’t that complicated or controversial. Why do I say that? As scientists we are beholden to the truth. The truth is not that elusive here.

    We simply don’t know a lot. A real scientist would admit this. The science is in its infancy someone said. I don’t see how any scientist can argue this. There is dispute about almost everything and this does not emerge from a political basis but from a scientific basis. Whether one is talking about sensitivity of temperature, the various feedbacks, the impact of different forcings, even the raw data itself is in dispute certainly for older data but even for data that is more current.

    I believe that if there was true “science” going on here we wouldn’t be having 400 page debates every day on these topics. You don’t have this in other sciences. For me it is partly the surety with which some scientists try to make claims that is infuriating. It is clear to anyone who is honest and forthright, scientific that this is simply going to take decades for this to become clearer and nobody can say there is a 97% consensus on anything that is meaningful. We don’t know.

    Surveys were done on how many physicists believe in many worlds. One survey showed 70% of physicists believe in the idea that multiple worlds simultaneously exist as an explanation for the apparent collapse of the probability wavefunction. When scientists say they believe something it is not 100%. All scientists know that our current physics is wrong. They also know our current physics does work, does predict things well, is good for doing lots of useful things but it can’t be the ultimate true description of reality because of inherent contradictions in different theories and reality keeps throwing us loopers that complicate things. Discovering that the universe was expanding at an accelerating rate for instance has really got physicists confounded so they introduced theories like inflation. We are told to believe that the universe is composed of 95% stuff we have no idea what it even is. Every physicist will agree what we know and what we don’t know. They may have their own belief about one theory or another but nobody is deluded enough to say their theory is proven or there is a consensus around string theory so all you loop quantum gravity believers stop publishing.

    In AR1-AR4 the report summary described a world that seemed highly certain to the people who wrote it. Numbers like 95% confidence that virtually all the warming from 1970-1998 was the result of man. That was computed based on looking at a very short history of data. It is shocking that the slowdown happened because we were told the models matched the record so precisely that natural variability had been limited to a very small number. Yet it turns out natural variability was much higher than expected. This is a crucial error that should be admitted in those papers. It is clear that we didn’t understand things happening in the ocean. Given that the ocean has 300 times the heat sink capacity as the atmosphere it was ludicrous/possibly scientific malfeasance to say that we had such certainty back then based on so little data and so little understanding. We have very little increase in understanding today other than that obviously such statements about our certainty are not possible. We simply don’t have the data to back up such statements. Every scientist has to agree with this. I would say that any person who says we know these things is not a scientist.

    I guess a counter-argument to this is that the believer in climate “science” as it is today would say we know that humans will cause +2-3C and that will be bad. For the last 10 years or so it has been very clear to me we don’t know that. I have been astonished that what appears to me to be not controversial and simply facts are not accepted readily. It’s been clear to me the models cannot possibly be believed. Any understanding of them at all leads inexorably to the conclusion they are simply experiments at this point. Nobody could use them as if they were truly predictive. We are left with “well, they probably aren’t right but maybe their results are right anyway.” So we wait to see if history will show them to be correct as if I was spinning the dial on a roulette machine waiting for the 00 I believe is going to happen will happen. When the results don’t turn up 00 we spin the dial again and say let’s give it another chance shall we. I don’t understand what this debate is about. We know these things are unknown. All scientists should be able to agree that we don’t really know anything other than co2 adds heat to the system. ultimately that heat should show up somehow somewhere. Some of that heat probably was some portion of the warming from 1970-1998 but honestly we don’t know how much. Therefore we don’t know how much will more co2 cause the earth to warm more and we don’t know if the affects of other things are contributing or subtracting from the warming we are seeing or to what extent they are because we don’t understand how all these things affect each other nor do we have basic understanding of major things like the ocean, clouds, h2o content of the atmosphere or the puzzling correspondence of certain solar phenomenon and historical variations in temperature. Until we have a better understanding of all these things and their relationships to each other it is impossible to say anything with certainty about the future weather we are likely to see in 5,10, 20, 50 or 100 years.

    Can’t we all agree to these statements?

    • Well said. I’ll agree with everything you said, though I don’t think most other people on this list will consider that much of an endorsement.

      W^3

    • Yep. Seems pretty sound.

      The crazy thing is that in the field of climate we are not waiting for researchers and scientists to know. We are waiting for them to NOT know. Then, maybe, they can start knowing.

      With temps, sea levels and Arctic ice all doing the same up-and-down stuff they have always done, in a Holocene and even historical period where all things are well and truly precedented, people calling themselves climate scientists are acting like early adolescents who are convinced they have discovered sex.

      By hijacking the term “climate change” to mean what they want when they want, alarmists make discussion that much more difficult. I wouldn’t be surprised if humans were having local and even global effects on climate. (I’m a bit of a conservationist, okay, which means I like to see coal burnt with thrift and care and I’m too easily sold on re-forestation, coastal protection etc.) But “climate change” has been studied from the fringe of its tail, rather than from the top. Hence Hockeystick, the fib of all fibs. Hence the trillions frittered globally on white elephants, the species which really threatens all others.

    • Sounds a fair assessment to me. What is so strange is how few people seem to grasp this and accept that dangerous warming is occurring and must be addressed by GHG emissions reductions.

      • Faustino. What dangerous changes? You seem to miss the point that a scientist doesn’t say things like that without proof. The reason that people rate climate change as the last priority of all legislative properties is because they don’t see any dangerous changes.

      • logi, you misunderstood me. I agreed with you, I find it strange that so many people, unlike us, accept the CAGW tale and policy proposals. That might be weakening, or lessening in priority, but generally the population at large has gone along with the scare-mongering.

    • Climate is not predictable. Climate is wild as Wally Broecker said – but that comes with inherent instability in the system.

      The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) defined abrupt climate change as a new climate paradigm as long ago as 2002. A paradigm in the scientific sense is a theory that explains observations. A new science paradigm is one that better explains data – in this case climate data – than the old theory. The new theory says that climate change occurs as discrete jumps in the system. Climate is more like a kaleidoscope – shake it up and a new pattern emerges – than a control knob with a linear gain.

      The theory of abrupt climate change is the most modern – and powerful – in climate science and has profound implications for the evolution of climate this century and beyond. Climate is pushed past thresholds by changes in greenhouse gases, solar intensity or orbital eccentricity. The climate response is internally generated – with changes in cloud, ice, dust and biology – and proceeds at a pace determined by the system itself. The old theory of climate suggests that warming is inevitable. The new theory suggests that global warming is not guaranteed and that climate surprises are inevitable.

      Chaotic instability in the system suggests that the discussion should move to practical and pragmatic policy responses on emissions, landscape changes, agricultural soils, population, development… .

      • I like that approach. It seems more consistent with my reading of history. If people would just read about the climate disasters of the 20th century including millions killed in china and other places by surprisingly violent “natural” events they would realize that the small storms that they say are “surprising” are only surprising because they have no actual knowledge of how nature throws punches at us and has forever. If one looks at the history of co2 and climate you will see that co2 has never been a catalyst in the entire history that I have seen In the billions of years of earth history. In the history I have seen something else ALWAYS instigated some climate event and then co2 rises or falls in reaction. It is then calculated what additional impact co2 may have caused in some cases 900 or 1000 years later. This impact is computed by looking at what we think other forcings might have been and then what’s left is probably the co2 contribution. In all the cases I’ve seen the reversal of whatever climactic event happened also is not instigated by co2. In all cases I’ve seen co2 remains high or low while the reversal of the event happens. Then after 1000 years or so co2 seems to reverse and it then follows the other variables. So I think it is almost impossible that the small changes in co2 that the world will experience has 0% chance of causing any significant climate event by itself. It’s also important to note that it is pretty accepted by everyone that temperatures were higher about 5000 years ago. Significantly higher than even today. These temperatures existed for thousands of years and it coincided with the emergence of mans civilization, the ability to create agricultural societies emerged at this time in several places around the world. It seems extremely unlikely that even if temperatures were to peak again to that level that there would be any significant impacts on ability to feed our populations or that places would be unlivable in general.

      • I like the approach because its consistent with my expectations of a complex dynamical system.

    • logiclogic, but then we can all look at graphs like this with global temperature and CO2 since 1950 that lines up well with IPCC expectations. Can we agree to these graphs? From these you can see how some have little doubt that they are related.
      http://woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:1950/mean:12/plot/gistemp/from:1950/mean:12/plot/esrl-co2/from/scale:0.01/offset:-3.3

  85. I absolutely agree and in the early days of the climate warming debate I absolutely agreed that it seemed likely. I am not saying that CO2 doesn’t contribute. I am saying the science is clear that CO2 must add heat to the environment. The question comes down to how much? The IPCC attributes all of that increase in temp from 1970-1998 to CO2 but what bothered me even in the beginning was that there is a similar spike in temperatures from 1910-1945 but there was NO CO2 increase comparable. The IPCC uses the record from 1880-2010 when saying temps have climbed more than 1 degree but that’s not fair because everyone must know that major CO2 production only happened after WWII. Before that CO2 levels everyone agrees underwent little change. Not only that but from 1945-1975 temperatures actually declined even as the post-war period saw a massive increase in CO2. Then we get the increase you point out which seems very consistent with CO2 output but then from 1998-2014 there is virtually no movement in temperature something like what happened between 1940-1975. This record is NOT 100% correlated with CO2 output. The period you chose looks to be but every period around it DOES NOT. From 1910-1945 a huge rise with no co2 increase. From 1945-1975 a decrease even with a huge increase in co2, then a consistent period and then a period that looks like a revisit of 1945-1975. Only one 23 year period in the entire 100 year or so history is consistent with the theory that co2 dominates climate. Also if one knows a little history it is clear there was a period of cold called the LIA which did not correspond with any CO2 changes and a period called the MWP. I have never heard how it is possible that different regions of the world could experience massive temp increases for centuries and the rest of the world was not similarly affected. So, I have never understood the argument that the MWP was regional. That makes no sense. When in history have we seen something like the MWP that affected only one region? And how could such a thing happen or why? That is not explained yet we are told not to worry about it. I’m just saying these things are not scientific explanations. Therefore the science is extremely unclear. It has to be. We are told there will be massive consequences from heating 2C but we know that temps regionally at least were warmer and there were only positive consequences. We know that 5,000 years ago which corresponded to a ice age climactic maximum temperature warmer than today by several degrees was the period that human civilization emerged when humans were able to finally create agricultural societies around the globe and support specialization and look into the sky and contemplate our place in it. If 2C warmer is so bad so catastrophic how is it possible that this is when humans finally were able to become agricultural and stop our migratory patterns? What we are told simply doesn’t make common sense. We are told for instance that temperatures will climb 3C (with an absolute low bound of now 1.5C) but in order for that to happen we need these pauses to stop, for the climate to take a radical discontinuous climb and to keep climbing without pause for 9 decades. It simply doesn’t make sense. We have seen pauses. It is not believable to state the pauses will stop without explaining why the pauses will stop. If pauses won’t stop then the climb in the non-pause time periods will have to be unbelievably huge to reach the IPCC goals. These are not believable. They are depending on people being too stupid to do simple math to see how ridiculous these projections are and how ridiculous it seems to project such certainty when anybody who actually knows anything about this subject would have to admit there are an awful lot of questions that are unanwered and a lot of problems with these models that make them unbelievable.