Climate change availability cascade

by Judith Curry

Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change.

Climate change may exacerbate environmental problems that are caused by overpopulation, poorly planned land-use and over-exploitation of natural resources. However, for the most part it is very difficult to separate out the impacts of human caused climate change from natural climate change and from other societal impacts.

Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels. This grand narrative misleads us to think that if we solve the problem of climate change, then these other problems would also be solved.

Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change. An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation that triggers a self-perpetuating chain reaction: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and greater alarm. Because slowly increasing temperatures don’t seem alarming, the ‘availability entrepreneurs’ push extreme weather events and public health impacts as being caused by human-caused climate change, more of which is in store if we don’t quickly act to cool the planet by reducing fossil fuel emissions.

A deconstruction of this availability cascade is needed to avoid bias in our thinking and to better understand the true risks of human caused climate change:

  • The basis for this cascade originates from the 1992 UNFCCC treaty, to avoid dangerous human caused climate change through stabilization of CO2 emissions. Note, it was not until 1995 that the IPCC 2nd Assess Report identified a discernible human influence on global climate.
  • Then, the UNFCCC changed the definition of climate change to refer to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity. This leads to the perception that all climate change is caused by humans.
  • Sea level rise and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, drought and heat waves are attributed to climate change, which are de facto assumed to be caused by human-caused climate change.
  • Human health impacts, national security risks, etc. that are exacerbated by extreme weather events are then inferred to be caused by human-caused climate change.

A critical link in this cascade is the link between human-caused climate change and extreme weather. In 2012, the IPCC published a Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The Report found low to medium confidence of a trend in droughts in some regions and the frequency of heavy rains in some regions, and high confidence of a trend in heat waves in Australia. There is no trend in hurricanes or wild fires. Attribution of any trend in extreme weather events to human caused climate change cannot be done with any confidence. With regards to the perception (and damage statistics) that severe weather events seem more frequent and more severe over the past decade, there are several factors in play. The first is the increasing vulnerability and exposure associated with increasing concentration of wealth in coastal and other disaster-prone regions. The second factor is natural climate variability. Many extreme weather events have documented relationships with natural climate variability; in the U.S., extreme weather events (e.g. droughts, heat waves and hurricanes) were significantly worse in the 1930’s and 1950’s.

As a specific example of this cascade, consider the recent announcement from the White House that it will start a new initiative to focus on the health effects of climate change, with a draft report from the USGCRP [link]. Several years ago, the Cato Institute addressed this issue in their impact assessment of climate change on the U.S.[link]. The Cato Report concluded that the health effects of climate change on the U.S. are negligible today, and are likely to remain so in the future. They found that 46 percent of all deaths from extreme weather events in the U.S. from 1993-2006 were from excessive cold and 28 percent were from excessive heat, and that overall deaths from extreme weather events have declined in the U.S. They also found that diseases transmitted by food, water and insects have been reduced by orders of magnitude in the U.S. over the past century, and show no sign of resurgence.

Specifically with regards to asthma, which is an issue that influenced President Obama: the argument is that increasing heat waves will exacerbate smog, which exacerbates asthma. However, according to the EPA, smog levels have dropped 33% since 1980 [link]. Further, heat waves in the U.S. have not been increasing; the EPA’s analysis of the heat wave index for the U.S. [link] shows that the index during the 1930’s reached levels almost an order of magnitude greater than the recent decade. While asthma rates have been climbing, the cause cannot be global warming. Nevertheless, a recent survey [link] of the American Thoracic Society members found that 77% of the respondents observed an impact from climate change on increases in chronic disease severity from air pollution.

The availability cascade that leads to belief that climate change is exacerbating chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma misleads us away from a deeper investigation of the true causes of public health problems and from addressing these problems in a more meaningful way. And then multiply this consequence across the whole range of issues that climate change is allegedly making worse. The availability cascade of climate change as apocalypse acts to narrow the viewpoints and policy options that we are willing to consider in dealing with complex issues such as public health, weather disasters and national security. Should we be surprised when reducing CO2 emissions does not ameliorate any of these problems?

Is climate change making us stupid? I fear that the answer is ‘yes.’ This problem is exacerbated by politically correct climate change orthodoxy, enforced by politicians, advocates and the media in an availability cascade, which is destroying our ability to think rationally about how we should respond to climate change. As a result, we have created a political log-jam over this issue, with scientists caught in the cross-fire.

JC note: this is a draft of something I’m writing, I would appreciate any feedback.

 

408 responses to “Climate change availability cascade

  1. Pingback: Climate change availability cascade | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

    I would say you called it exactly right. Uneducated political leaders who think they know everything or are the new messiah or the messiah’s apostles are driving ‘climate change’ as described for one reason – total control. The UN (See Agenda 21) wants to reduce humanity to serfdom, and our current administration is only too glad to help them. We are in danger of returning to the Medieval “know they place” concept of governingby the UN, and left-leaning liberals have their say.

  3. The fear and guilt is making us stupid. It is irrational, and powerful, the madness of the herd.
    ============

    • Kim, let me fix that for you, “climate change is making us stupid”

      You are welcome! :)

      • The climate has always changed, which explains it.

      • Well, we’ve always been stupid. Sometimes more than others.
        ========================

      • Occasionally the stupid events are severe and damaging; we’re in the midst of a huge cyclone, now, driven by unholy amounts of energy.
        ======================================

    • We’we had some quite formidable “stupid events” in the 20th century, like two world wars, communism, etc.
      The climate stupid event is quit benign, it’s only money wasted…

    • ==> “it’s only money wasted…”

      Au contrair, mon ami.

      As we see in these threads daily, it’s comparable to McCarthysim, Lysenkoism, Stalinism, Communism, Ghenghis Kahn, Jihadism, Statism, the worst sort of intolerance, and it will certainly lead to economic suicide and the deaths of millions of poor children in Africa!

      Why are you trying to downplay the real impact? Are you a warmunist?

  4. I think it’s very good, and avoids the obvious parallels to the way primitive superstitions or stories about angry gods self-reinforce, which some might find too offensive.

    I wonder how many people get overwhelmed with fear of climate change and try to unwind and refocus with a December trip to Cancun? There is definitely a disconnect somewhere.

  5. There has been a bit of talk here at Climate.Etc.about the responsibility (or lack thereof) of scientific societies like the APS and ACS and their policy positions on global warming, and the repercussions on the overall science community as “the hiatus” goes on and on and the credibility of these organization necessarily and rightly sinks. What of the MSM, the 5th Estate, as being a watch dog and a check on the government? When did the media set aside the “All The President’s Men” dogged pursuit of the truth to become guard and lap dogs of the status quo and “consensus”? Our hostess if far too polite to call them what they really have become.

  6. Are you riffing on “information cascade?” I know them well, but the “availability cascade” is new jargon to me.

    • Michael Edwards

      In the article she links this phrase to: “An availability cascade subsumes two of the special cascades that have recently received considerable attention in the social sciences, though not in law: informational cascades and reputational cascades.” So Kuran & Sunstein are doing the riffing.

      • David Wojick

        How about a “funding-induced bias cascade”? Everyone is making money promoting fear, including scientists.

  7. My personal opinion is that the piece uses the term “climate change” too often. The community needs to clarify what the actual topic is. Reduction in asthma-causing air pollution may be a worthy goal, regardless of climate change. AFIK there is no linkage of asthma to climate change itself. But it is believed that certain regions have climates beneficial to lung complaints. The climate community could help the President by pointing this out so that he could relocate his family to such areas. I hope that Malia doesnt have to wait until current CO2 reduction efforts pay off. I was a childhood asthma sufferer myself and know that it is not a simple issue.

    • “AFIK there is no linkage of asthma to climate change itself.”

      There is a weak link. http://www.pbs.org/strangedays/episodes/onedegreefactor/experts/africandust.html

      It is weak because the problem started in the late 70s and early 80s.

      • I don’t believe there is a direct linkage, however, the indirect linkage seems possible. Climate change causes longer growing seasons and more plants and pollen. Pollen affects asthma negatively. Therefore climate change leads to more asthma.

        However, I don’t know how popular a selling point we need plants to die back to reduce asthma is going to be.

    • Michael Edwards

      I agree. Too much climate change. See jck101 below for misuse of this – “Climate change causes longer growing seasons and more plants and pollen.” No no no. Climate change does not do this. Climate warming does this. We need specific words if we wish them to have specific causes and meanings. And the “certain regions” mentioned by hillrj, AFAIK, are hot dry places like Arizona. So global warming (natural or not) may help with this aspect.

    • I hope that Malia doesnt have to wait until current CO2 reduction efforts pay off.

      According to Obama, Malia, who was born in 1998, had a single “asthma attack” at the age of 4. She has not had any breathing issues since.

      Obama has been a cigarette smoker until at least 2010. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers.” What do you suspect is the most likely cause of Malia’s brief breathing issue?

  8. The 1st and the 1st sentence of the 4th paras are duplicated except that the link in the 1st para does not work. Perhaps the 1st para needs to be rewritten as a summary of the current state of the debate?

    The rising incidence of serious allergies in children such as hay fever, asthma and reactions to various nuts appear to be a modern phenomenon and possibly resulting from overuse of antibiotics and cortisones in treatment of what used to be minor ailments in generations past.

    The relationship of climate change and environmental changes to trends in human health seems to be tenuous at best.

    • Just to broaden your point a little and not limit it to climate change, I am observing an explosion in maladies of all types in the younger generation. The news and the experiences of those I know make me wonder if humans are losing some of the immunities or are being barraged by chemicals or other agents attacking our resilience. Health problems that I thought were rare 60 years ago seem to be everywhere.

      I don’t accept for second the role of climate change for any of what I see, given how little difference there is between now and the 1930s. The range of temperatures across the globe even then, or hundreds of years before, should tell us that humans can adapt to the highs and lows for
      centuries to come.

  9. Oh I see, a phrase coined on the back of information cascades by cass sunstein, which are now “subsumed” by cass’ new word. That is, completely purloined.

  10. Climate change may exacerbate problems that are caused by government and the fix is more government.

  11. Of course, this paper demonstrates how mortatlity rises during the cold season and is at its lowest during the warm season, as seen in this chart.

    Other factors are at play – of course. But certainly consistent with “cold kills”.

    But the availability cascade is a powerful force because global warming can be employed no matter how unlikely to a myriad of conceived ill effects, even if they would require the highest warming to remain plausible.

    Wallace and Hobbs identified a similar principle with climate change alone, in 1983:

    “Many of the fundamental questions concerning the nature and causes of climate change are still largely unresolved because of our incomplete quantitative understanding of many of the physical processes that enter into the global energy balance and for lack of definitive observational data on which to test various theories. Under such circumstances it is far easier to propose new climate change hypotheses than it is to substantiate or disprove old ones.”

    Lets see,
    * Frog decline was attributed to global warming, even though biologists spreading a fungus on their boots was later found the culprit.
    * Bee decline was attributed to global warming, whoops – it was pathogens.
    * Pine bark beetle? No.
    * Polar bears? Turns out not shooting them had a much greater effect on their survival.

    It stands to reason, of course, species alive today are selected for by having survived all the natural variation of the past. Nature is not especially found of highly particular organisms.

  12. “An availability cascade subsumes two of the special cascades that have recently received considerable attention in the social sciences, though not in law: informational cascades and reputational cascades. An informational cascade occurs when people with incomplete personal information on a particular matter base their own beliefs on the apparent beliefs of others. To be more specific, suppose that the words and deeds of certain individuals give the impression that they accept a particular belief. In response to their communications, other individuals, who lack reliable information, may accept
    that belief simply by virtue of its acceptance by others. As long as members of the relevant group are heterogeneous along one or more dimensions (e.g., initial personal information, willingness to rely on others for information, timing of social contacts), the transformation of the distribution of beliefs
    can take the form of a cascade, known also as a bandwagon or snowballing process.”

    From Kuran and Sunstein, Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation.

    In my opinion, this is a really awful description of the actual information cascade in Bikchandani, Hirschleifer and Welch. Much of it is just wrong and the rest is misleading. I can elaborate if it is wanted.

    My suggestion: If you are getting your intuition from Kuran and Sunstein, look someplace else.

    • > I can elaborate if it is wanted.

      Please, do.

      Welcome back, NW!

    • pls, more info on this would be appreciated.

    • “An informational cascade occurs when people with incomplete personal information on a particular matter base their own beliefs on the apparent beliefs of others.”

      So far, so good.

      “To be more specific, suppose that the words and deeds of certain individuals give the impression that they accept a particular belief. In response to their communications…”

      No: Not “words and deeds” but just deeds. Not “in response to their communications” but rather only in response to their actions. The underlying, driving, special idea in Bikhchandani, Hirschleifer and Welch (BHW) has to do with motivations, information and beliefs leading to actions of some agents, and other agents inferring what they know from those actions–or not, depending on position in a sequence.

      “…other individuals, who lack reliable information, may accept that belief simply by virtue of its acceptance by others.”

      No. First, everyone in the action sequence (the ordering of agents, in terms of who takes an action first, second, third, etc.) is identically well-informed (though differently informed). Think of them as scientists who all run the same experiment sampling the same population, and some accept the null and others reject the null, since they get different samples. Each of the scientists then makes a publicly observable decision which will have value to him or her, depending on the actual truth or falsity of the null. This actual truth or falsity won’t be revealed until everyone makes their decision. But everyone prefers (is motivated) to be right rather than wrong. The whole idea is that under these circumstances, at first, scientist k+1 should pay attention to the action of scientist k because (a) scientist k has an independent sample, and (b) scientist k is positively motivated to take the best action she can conditional on her information, her sample. The fun really starts later, however. But this is nothing like accepting someone else’s belief for no reason at all. Also notice the amount of structure in this situation. A lot of things are known by all, and those things make it sensible and reasonable to pay attention to what others do–because what they do reveals what they know or have seen (up to a point–when enough scientists have taken the same action, it starts to become reasonable to ignore your own sample–and THAT is the heart and soul of a cascade). That is very different from accepting others’ beliefs simply because it is accepted by those others.

      The cool thing about an information cascade is that, eventually, social learning breaks down even if everyone is behaving in a very, very rational way (Bayesian Perfect Equilibrium, to be all geeky about it): observation ceases to aggregate the personal information of the individual scientists, and conformity sets in.

      “As long as members of the relevant group are heterogeneous along one or more dimensions (e.g., initial personal information, willingness to rely on others for information, timing of social contacts),”

      No. The only heterogeneity of agents that matters to the BHW cascade is the action sequence–who goes first, second, third, etc. The agents in the basic story are all absolutely identical otherwise at the beginning of the sequence. They all sample from the same population. They all get the same payoff from being right or wrong. They all have the same decision rules (so they most definitely do not differ in their willingness to rely on others).

      “the transformation of the distribution of beliefs can take the form of a cascade, known also as a bandwagon or snowballing process.”

      Yes, but this leaves so much out, such as BHW’s observation that a small external information shock can bring a cascade to a screeching halt. They are “brittle” as BHW put it. They are brittle because the agents all know that the sequential observation of others’ actions ceased to aggregate real information long ago. So a small injection of objective information can easily dissolve the cascade.

      In lab experiments, we see cascades develop some of the time, but subjects are less willing to ignore their own sample than the theoretical agents who are following Bayesian Perfect Equilibrium logic, so cascades develop less often than predicted. And they are even more brittle than BHW predict–they easily fall apart when an agent draws a sample with a contrary prediction to the established pattern of actions so far.

      • Seems like the short answer is people accept what they are told, and stop thinking for themselves. Yes, “global warming” is making us as a society stupid. What the heck ever happened to critical thinking skills?

      • Critical thinking causes cognitive strain and ego depletion, so people rely on a heuristic.

      • Don’t try to make people think, make them feel something.

      • We hasten to unfold the future,
        In fear of portent missteps past.
        ================

      • > Seems like the short answer is people accept what they are told, and stop thinking for themselves.

        Mine would be that accepting external information pays off, which is both illustrated by NW’s comment and the Denizens’ personal standstills.

        See how easy it is to use a formal result as a ClimateBall weapon.

      • It does appear that naming the process “availability cascade” is not appropriate. I think the clarity of the argument benefits from the term “cascade”. Maybe call it a “bias cascade” instead. Even if this is not a term from scientific literature, it perfectly captures the argument: The climate change bias increases as its logic cascades downstream. The end result is to obscure the actual cause and effect.

      • NW: Yes, but this leaves so much out, such as BHW’s observation that a small external information shock can bring a cascade to a screeching halt. They are “brittle” as BHW put it.

        Thank you for your comments.

        What are some of the best examples of informational cascades and have they in fact been brittle? I was thinking as I read of the recently overturned dietary recommendations that seem to have lasted decades with almost no evidence; and the physicists long-term rejection of Wegener’s hypothesis based on an untested assumption of non-existence of a power source.

        Is the concept really well-defined operationally?

      • Matthew, as far as I know, the term “informational cascades” was coined by BHW to describe a very specific bit of game theory. If the theory doesn’t fit many empirical patterns that people want to describe as bandwagon effects or snowballing (for instance), then so much the worse for the theory. I am not the author who borrowed the Big Theory Idea (information cascades) to puff up some academic anecdotes. If you have a beef, I suggest it is with Kunow and Sunstein. I doubt that what Kunow and Sunstein speak of can get theoretical respectability from the ideas of BHW, which they anyway translate from math to natural language in a hamhanded way and, as a consequence, all kinds of theoretical and empirical hilarity ensues. It wouldn’t be the first time academics shined up a vague story with fancy-sounding but inappropriate theory.

        I’ll leave you with a final thought about Sunstein. In this particular case, he borrows an idea from the hyper-rational-actor tradition of High Game Theory because it lets him tell a story about regulations he’d like to see. In other cases he swears up and down that he totally rejects that tradition, using its opposite (Behavioral Economics) to tell a story about regulations he’d like to see. There’s several good names for this kind of scholar.

      • Matthew, I should’ve addressed your question about the concept being operationally defined. It is, and makes very specific predictions; but the conditions under which it makes those specific predictions can really only be known to hold–or not hold–in a controlled laboratory setting. Over the years I have discussed or refereed several laboratory studies of informational cascades, and my frank opinion is that the theory predicts a little bit better than a couple of straw alternatives. Not a ringing endorsement.

  13. The French were not impressed by the ‘availability cascade’ back when they decided to go nuclear. Why? They were desparate. The didn’t have the luxury to engage in esoteric thinking. We’re not too desparate… yet: there’s still some time left for the 47% to continue to bleed the productive like fatted calves before they’re forced to fold and join the army of government bureaucrats and its fascilitators.

  14. Reduce the sophistication and modern means of rapid communication in society today and one can see how it came to be that not long ago suspected witches wee burned at the stake.
    Those in charge blamed every possible bad event on the work of the witches.
    No other cause for events was even considered, and if it was, then the perpetrator of the false narrative ( such as some other cause for failed crops) must be an evil person, possibly a witch and likewise should be scorned or burned.

    Also —–And Scientists caught in the cross fire.—-
    Was it not a certain few scientists that created and enhanced the magnitude of the cross fire?
    When somebody like Kevin Trenberth causes a Roy Spencer article to be removed.
    —Or the Students of S. Schneider publishes a blacklist of 496 scientists and this list is promoted by a national science organization.

    And a major science organization makes a statement which is antithetical to the very core of scientific procedure “The Science is Settled” Sad!

  15. Michelle Stirling

    This is a rebuttal document to the “phase-out coal” camapgin in Alberta but the evidence is applicable in many jurisdictions. Asthma is most typically associated with poverty, lack of education, and indoor pollution (smoking/VOCs/mold) or seasonal pollens. We were amazed at the various levels of pollens by season. http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/FoS_BurningQuestions_Health_Coal_Wildfires_Jan2015.pdf

  16. Hi Judy – This is really excellent! It is concise, effective and accurate.

    I assume you have a venue in mind, but I urge you to consider this as an Opinion article in EOS.

    Roger Sr.

    • I agree that making the link with the Stanford Law Review piece (of sixteen years ago, notably) is a very helpful move. David Wojick mentions funding motivations above but this framework avoids detailed ascribing of bad motives and that I think is a strength. There’s a social phenomenon of considerable power here that is making us stupid. This – suitably refined – could be a powerful wake-up call to those outside the climate bubble.

  17. –Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels. This grand narrative misleads us to think that if we solve the problem of climate change, then these other problems would also be solved. The most recent absurd example of this thinking is that climate change caused Malia Obama’s asthma attack.–

    Well it seems climate climate is convenient thing to blame, it even easier than blaming everything on George Bush.
    And so when politicians have incompetently governing, like in California, so there is enough water available, they use climate change as the reason for it.
    If they were screaming about nonsense, more people might wonder if
    the politician could be doing a better job.
    So things politicians can’t do anything about- unless population will sacrifice
    their first born- are great things to distract the public from the obvious- that the politicians are not serving in the public’s interest.

    And blame asthma on global warming is convenient for parents who not paying enough attention to their children.
    Golf is too important.

  18. Spot on! I’ve been waiting for an article like this from a person like yourself for a long time.

    In Kahneman’s book he describes a cognitive cascade at the level of the individual, that is, that certain sitimuli trigger thoughts that, in turn, trigger related thoughts, thus forming a cognitive cascade. The process is automatic and the cascades are especially powerful for events or images that are emotionally loaded. So, this is a fundamental trait shared by all people and can easily be exploited. I apologize for the clumsy description but you can find an articulate explanation by searching for “cognitive cascade” in Kahneman’s book.

    I think the CAWG meme really took hold when Al Gore’s movie came out with it’s vivid images that are continually reinforced by MSM images of swimming polar bears, calving glaciers, and raging hurricanes while connecting the images to stories of global warming.

    Bottom line, my suggestion is that you might want to introduce the idea that the cognitive cascade, and the availability cascade, are a fundamental part of our biology.

    • From Kahneman’s book:

      Pg 51:

      “… words happened by a process called associative activation: ideas that have been evoked trigger many other ideas, in a spreading cascade of activity in your brain…”

      I don’t have the book handy – I borrowed it from the library several times – so I searched for this at Amazon.

    • “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Khaneman is indeed a great book and is highly recommended for denizens of CE. A number of whom seem to be more interested in the cognitive processes of human thinking and in the way that belief systems and the way that information is processed end up being more powerful motivators than the facts in themselves.

      • “A number of whom seem to be more interested in the cognitive processes of human thinking…”

        Once you understand that, everything falls into place.

        One thing is for sure, the average person is not interested in citations from scholarly journals. You have to tell a story, the story has to have emotional content, and the story has to be told with images. Story telling, as a means to transfer information, predates writing and math by a long time.

      • Indeed this book comes firmly to mind when subjects like this come up at CE. This is a truly marvellous book and forensic examination by proxy of how we have come to this climate change mess.

    • There are a number of powerful psychological factors at play. And if you look at the APA site you will find a huge climate change report with many speculative comments on how people will/are psychologically damaged by all the WARMING (that isn’t happening). Likewise the psychology of bandwagoning – as in the “consensus” (which began its drum beat as temps and models diverged…) , Ostracism (see Kipling D. Williams), fear making people want to be alone, but with a common cause, together..(Schacter, Zimbardo)..and of Lewandowsky. Throw mud. It will stick. https://www.academia.edu/7961060/Throw_Mud_-_It_will_Stick_-_Lewandowsky_Critique

    • I just read Kahneman’s book, thinking fast and slow. An overwhelming amount of material of relevance to climate change.

      • Dr, Curry; Oh I am so glad you have read this now, and I thought it would resonate with you. I was stuck by how much it related to climate science. I once argued with a fried regarding some of the accepted orthodoxy regarding climate change alarm and at the time I really didn’t have a good answer for “how is it that all these scientists and politicians got it so wrong if you’re right?”

        The Kahnemann book explains it in great detail.

      • Here is an old 80’s vintage Discover article on Kahneman and Tversky some people here might enjoy.

        http://d1m3qhodv9fjlf.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Decisions_Decisions.pdf

      • Thanks mwg. Tversky seemed to have been the more influential of the two collaborators and his early death was most regrettable. Kahneman ended up getting the Nobel prize but the work of Tversky would have been an important reason for this.

      • Let me suggest that “availability cascade” as a concept is “available” only to academics. If your target is the policy community, something like “cognitive cascade” likely would resonate better. If you can come up with a more intuitive term, even better.

      • Moon mad mooing.
        ===============

      • Glad to see that y’all are reading Kahneman. What took you so long? His name has been mentioned here for a couple of years:

        Anyway:

        Daniel Kahneman: Well when people are asked a political question ‘What are you in favour of?’ we always are quite capable of producing rationalisations or stories about the reasons that justify our political beliefs. But it’s fairly clear that the reasons are not the causes of our political beliefs, mostly. Mostly we have political beliefs because we belong to a certain circle, people we like hold those beliefs, those beliefs are part of who we are. In the United States for example, there is a high correlation between beliefs about gay marriage and beliefs about climate change. Now it’s very unlikely that this would arise from a rational process of producing reasons: it arises from the nature of beliefs as something that is really part of us.

        Does that sound familiar?

      • I have generally agreed with you that tribal behaviour has been endemic to the AGW debate Joshua and that human decision-making is hardly a rational process. Facts are subservient to belief systems and the way information is processed mainly because of emotions of fear and greed.

        Good science can only occur when the investigator is detached from the results or findings that arise from its practice.

      • Peter –

        I would take issue with Kahneman w/r/t use of the term “rational.” IMO “Facts are subservient to belief systems and the way information is processed mainly because of emotions of fear and greed.”

        That seems a bit reductionist and a bit harsh. What Kahneman is describing is how identity-related mechanisms affect reasoning. I suppose that some of that could be boiled down to fear and greed but given how people in the climate wars so frequently attribute motivations to fear and greed, I’d be more circumspect. Altruism, kindness, and generosity could also be Identity-related biases on reasoning (why just look at all the Climate Etc. comments that are obviously motivated by kindness and generosity. :-)).

        ==> “Good science can only occur when the investigator is detached from the results or findings that arise from its practice.

        That seems like an unreachable bar, to me. It would be hard to conduct scientific inquiry with complete detachment from the outcomes. The best we can do, IMO, is to put into practice the components of the scientific method that can help us to control for biasing influences.

        As one example, before pronouncing on a persons “expertise,” we should derive and explicate objective criteria that can be used to measure our assessment.

        Right, Judith?

      • Peter –

        Peter –

        My first paragraph got truncated somehow….I’ll repost the first part of my comment…

        I would take issue with Kahneman w/r/t use of the term “rational.” IMO, it doesn’t make sense to call reasoning that is influenced by identity and ingrained cognitive attributes such as pattern-finding as “irrational” – otherwise, we’d never be able to call any reasoning rational. Considering it to be irrational is counterproductive, IMO, because it opens the door for people to think they’re immune or above those baseline human influences.

        ==> “Facts are subservient to belief systems and the way information is processed mainly because of emotions of fear and greed.”

        That seems a bit reductionist and a bit harsh. …

      • John Plodinec

        “Cognitive cascade” much better reflects my understanding/perception as I was reading through the piece.

        Hope all is well.

        Michael

      • Thanks for your response Joshua. If there is indeed endemic bias in all of us then good science is probably an impossible ideal. While I tend to believe that the environment is severely affected by human activity I also believe that climate change is not entirely made made and that there is not much we can do about it.

        Having said this, I do not feel that this POV is immutable and is subject to change. In a sense I feel a certain remoteness from the idea of winning or losing any debate and would seriously like everyone to provide their input in a non-threatening and more constructive atmosphere.

      • “That seems like an unreachable bar, to me. It would be hard to conduct scientific inquiry with complete detachment from the outcomes.”

        Joshua,

        Why would it be hard? What makes it so?

        It seems to me you just have an incorrect philosophical position. People can and do control themselves, unless they’ve been trained otherwise.

        Andrew

      • Peter –

        ==> “…I … would seriously like everyone to provide their input in a non-threatening and more constructive atmosphere.”

        I’m with you on that. One irony is that I think that most folks involved would like that in a deeper sense, even though many find it so difficult to embody that approach.

      • Sorry, I meant that climate change is not entirely man made …. I have been put in moderation for another comment for no apparent reason so I had better call it a day.

      • Bad –

        ==> “Why would it be hard? What makes it so?

        What we’re talking about are basic human tendencies that derive from fundamental attribute of our psychology and our cognitive processing. If you don’t accept the existence of those baseline tendencies, then it is almost impossible to control for then. If you accept that they exist, at least you have a shot. The scientific process is an external filter we can use to as a control measure. Good faith dialogue across ideological boundaries, and other boundaries of perspective, is another.

        “Skeptics” like to quote Feynman. Consider Feynman…

      • Peter –

        ==> “Sorry, I meant that climate change is not entirely man made ….

        Got it the first time. Catch you on an another thread.

      • Joshua,

        ” IMO, it doesn’t make sense to call reasoning that is influenced by identity and ingrained cognitive attributes such as pattern-finding as “irrational” – otherwise, we’d never be able to call any reasoning rational.”

        I agree although I am troubled by ambiguity in the meaning of ‘irrational’–pertaining to either exclusion (from rational) or behavioral context. And what is ‘it doesn’t make sense’? Still in complex political conflicts mutual resolution requires trust which depends on those ingrained attributes.

        It is irrational to be rational and rational to be irrational. [This has to be an often trodden path in games but is more than superficial. Note to self: e.t.s.]

      • mw –

        ==> “I agree although I am troubled by ambiguity in the meaning of ‘irrational’–pertaining to either exclusion (from rational) or behavioral context. ”

        Yes. That was the point I was getting at. In other words, I don’t think that Kahneman’s use of “rational” addresses the ambiguities in the term.

        One of David Wojick’s pet peeves is the facile nature in how people lable behavior as either “rational” or “irrational.”

        ==> “And what is ‘it doesn’t make sense’? ”

        Heh. You got me there. In self-defense, I did say “IMO” which helps a bit, but it is still a problematic approach. What I mean is that I don’t think that it is strictly accurate to use “rational” and “irrational” in such a loose manner, and in the end I think it is counterproductive if you have a goal of getting people to be more proactive about accounting for their own biases.

        ==> “Still in complex political conflicts mutual resolution requires trust which depends on those ingrained attributes.”

        Again, yes. What I was going for is that less than careful application of “rational” vs. “irrational” undermines trust in polarized contexts where it could, possibly, otherwise exist.

      • Joshua

        No defense needed. You and Peter hit a strong resonance with me on the topics. It has been my experience that the messy ‘human’ aspects of reasoning can be difficult for anyone but particularly hard scientists steeped in the traditional paradigm (dislike using that word). Humans are not Spocks.

        BTW I like Judy’s approach because she is exceptional in continually exploring this territory and putting it on the table. That is a messy under-appreciated task. [Not intending to be provocative to anyone here. Just stressing how important I feel that the role and understanding of these topics is.]

  19. The shared narrative … The Enronization of Science (‘you don’t get it,’ Jeff Skilling would say). If you believe Enron, and get others to believe, Enron stock will go up and we have invented our own reality.

  20. ==> “Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do [to] prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels. ”

    Perhaps just a tad hyperbolic.

    You know, maybe a smidgen.

    And note the missing [to]

    • Nope – not exaggerated. http://necsi.edu/publications/food/ US EPA food-to-fuel policies driving world chaos. No one mentions THAT, but they do blame the chaos on ‘climate change’ – NOT it is climate change policy!

      • I’m having a little trouble finding at your link what you claim. Was this the following excerpt where they talked about climate change as a “dominant cause of societal problems, where “everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that there is “only one thing we can do [to] prevent social problems – stop burning fossil fuels?”

        Social unrest may reflect a variety of factors such as poverty, unemployment, and social injustice.

      • Maybe it was this?:

        Recent increases in basic food prices are severely impacting vulnerable populations worldwide. Proposed causes such as shortages of grain due to adverse weather, increasing meat consumption in China and India, conversion of corn to ethanol in the US, and investor speculation on commodity markets lead to widely differing implications for policy. A lack of clarity about which factors are responsible reinforces policy inaction. Here, for the first time, we construct a dynamic model that quantitatively agrees with food prices. The results show that the dominant causes of price increases are investor speculation and ethanol conversion.

        Was that where they indicate that the “only one thing that we can do to prevent social problems” resulting from increases in basic food prices is to “stop burning fossil fuels?”

  21. From Wikipedia:

    Availability heuristic

    “Even educated human beings are notoriously poor at thinking statistically.[2] The availability heuristic, first identified by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, is a mental shortcut that occurs when people judge the probability of events by how easy it is to think of examples. The availability heuristic operates on the notion that, “if you can think of it, it must be important.” Availability can be influenced by the emotional power of examples and by their perceived frequency; while personal, first-hand incidents are more available than those that happened to others, availability can be skewed by the media. In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman cites the examples of celebrity divorces and airplane crashes; both are more often reported by the media, and thus tend to be exaggerated in perceived frequency.[3]”

  22. Judith –

    ==> “The most recent absurd example of this thinking is that climate change caused Malia Obama’s asthma attack.”

    I just spent a while using The Google, and I have yet to find where he said that “climate changed caused Malia Obama’s asthma attack.”

    Would you mind linking to that exact quote?

    • He didn’t. This is one of those reinforcing groupthink things that just take off from time to time. It seems to them like he should have said this. It sounds so right, so they repeat it, and next thing you know everyone is quoting Judith on it. A memeplex is born.

      • JimD. In the first link below is a short video where Obama actually said this in a TV interview.

      • Peter –

        I don’t consider Obama (or any politician) to be a reliable source of information on climate change, but I listened to that video and I don’t see where he said that climate change caused his daughter’s asthma attack.

        The closest to that I can see is where he said that climate change would cause more fires which would cause more particulates which would cause more asthma.

        Please quote the section where he “actually said this in a TV interview.”

      • Says what exactly?

      • Moot now, because it seems to have been removed from the posting.

      • ==> “Moot now, because it seems to have been removed from the posting.”

        Removed without a notation that the original post had made that inaccurate implication?

        That seems rather unusual. Usually bloggers make it explicit when they’re correcting an original post for an error.

      • johnfpittman

        LOL Joshua. Though some bloggers attempt it.

      • The memeplex to be born is to link fossil fuels with asthma. Too bad it is stillborn, twas ill-conceived to begin with.
        =====================

      • The Junior Varsity used their red-liner to bring the ball in from out of bounds. They should have left him on the bench.
        ===============

      • No, these don’t say it either. Look at actual quotes, not the spin around them.

      • Peter –

        Did you listen to or read what he said?

        If so, do you think it is accurate to characterize what he said as climate change “caused” his daughter’s asthma attack?

        ‘Cause I haven’t read or heard anything that he said that IMO, could accurately be characterized in such a fashion.

      • Joshua. I listened to what he said in the short video and while my hearing is not the best at the best of times, that is no doubt that Obama has said this in as many words.

        Perhaps more was inferred than was actually said but even so, there seemed to be no attempt by the White House press office to counter what the media spin that you and JimD alluded to.

      • Peter, it is right-wing media spin trying, as usual, to make him look silly with something he didn’t actually say. Discerning people looking at his actual quotes see through this, but I think they fooled a few.

      • Peter –

        ==> “Joshua. I listened to what he said in the short video and while my hearing is not the best at the best of times, that is no doubt that Obama has said this in as many words.”

        Here’s what I got from what I heard/read.

        He said (paraphrasing) that his daughter’s asthma attack brought home for him the concerns that a parent has when their child suffers from ill health, like asthma. He said that her asthma is now under control because they had good health care [obviously, that would imply that her health improved despite increased ACO2 emissions]. He said that climate change would set in motion a chain of events that would increase prevalence of asthma problems. The implication I got was that his daughter’s ill-health brought home for him in a personal way the kinds of negative human health outcomes that climate change will bring about.

        Now I can understand why someone might object to the certainty he expressed in a causal link between climate change in health impacts, but it seems just wrong to me (at least from what I have been able to find) to say that he said that climate change “caused” his daughter’s attack.

        To say so, IMO, is a misrepresentation.

        Whether or not what he said was accurate (and I’m not saying that it isn’t a problem if he makes inaccurate statements about climate change), misrepresenting what he said for rhetorical purposes is counterproductive.

      • I agree with your report on what Obama had said Joshua and it does appear that more was inferred than actually said. I have already said elsewhere on this thread that the relationship of climate change to human health issues are tenuous.

      • The idea the President was trying to put over it perfectly clear. Even ABC news gets it. You guys are full of it.
        From the article:

        President Obama says that climate change became a personal issue for him when his older daughter Malia, now 16, was rushed to the emergency room with an asthma attack when she was just a toddler.

        “Well you know Malia had asthma when she was 4 and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early….” the president told ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, in a one-on-one interview yesterday. “And if we can make sure that our responses to the environment are reducing those incidents, that’s something that I think every parent would wish for…”

        Besser, who met with the president yesterday at Howard University’s Health Sciences Simulation Lab, asked the president why people should care about the impact of climate change on public health when there are so many other pressing health problems.

        “Keep in mind that climate change is just one more example of how the environment will cause health problems, and I think most people understand that,” the president responded.

        Obama said that when he went to college in 1979 in Los Angeles, he could feel his lungs burn after about five minutes of running outside because the smog and pollution were so bad.

        We took steps to deal with it, and today, it’s not perfect, but it’s a whole lot better,” Obama said. “And the same thing is true with climate change.”

        The science of climate and its effect on health is indisputable, the president said. More severe wildfires that send more particulates into the air and longer-lasting allergy seasons will lead to higher rates of asthma. Higher temperatures could also mean that heatstroke in cities will become a severe public health problem.

        “So the idea here is that by having doctors, nurses, public health officials who’ve come together highlighting the consequences of warmer temperatures, not only can communities start thinking about adapting and planning around those issues but individual families can also recognize that there is a link here, and collectively we can start doing something about it,” he said.

        http://abcnews.go.com/Health/obama-climate-impact-health-personal/story?id=30141591

      • David L. Hagen

        Obama’s Indoor Smoking Caused Asthma
        Global warming didn’t give Malia asthma: Column

        Research funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that smoking outside doesn’t totally protect children from secondhand smoke. Even when smoking is done outside, nicotine in infants’ hair is five times higher for babies with outside smoking parents than non-smoking parents. Smoking-related chemicals in infants’ urine is seven times higher. Other studies have found similar results.

        According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers,” and “if you have asthma, it’s important that you avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.”

      • National Institutes of Health:
        “Asthma (AZ-ma) is a chronic (long-term) lung disease…”

        Malia Obama did not have asthma when she was 4. “Good health insurance” will not “knock out” asthma.

        Obama’s answer was in response to a scripted interview question: “Do you worry that the climate has impacted on your own daughter?” The answer, while not an unequivocal “yes,” implied that it was not unlikely that it had. This was not an “off the wall” interview.

        The man doth prevaricate too much, methinks.

      • Danny Thomas

        Ah. GW must cause dog dander.
        “In his victory speech on the night of his election, President Obama repeated his promise to Sasha and Malia to get a puppy to take with them to the White House.[20] The selection was slow because Malia is allergic to animal dander; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_of_Barack_Obama#cite_note-21
        http://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20081112/hypoallergenic-dogs-dog-allergies-faq……………(Date of WebMD article is 2008).

      • David L. Hagen

        Meant state title as a question: “Did Obama’s Smoking Cause . . .?”
        recognizing the uncertainties involved!

      • I watched the link 1 short video and saw no mention of Malia. I did see several “we know” statements relating “climate change” to bad consequences such as the frequency of fires, storms, etc. that are wrong.

  23. I agree with only this part of the posting “Climate change may exacerbate environmental problems that are caused by overpopulation, poorly planned land-use and over-exploitation of natural resources.” The rest makes the rather poor assumption that the IPCC climate change projections and science behind them can’t be right despite all the evidence. The thinking should be more along the lines of what to do if they are right than assuming they are completely wrong, what would have gone wrong in that hypothetical case. It is really jumping the gun on that assumption. With 2 W/m2 forcing and nearly 1 C of warming, it is on track, and the temperature evidence says it is right not wrong. Faced with simple supporting facts like that, the premise that everyone is wrong just doesn’t stand.

    • The post is really independent of the IPCC warming projections/sensitivity; it is about the impacts and incorrect attribution to human caused global warming

      • It makes the assumption of an incorrect attribution, and takes it from there. More likely, the attribution is correct, and the post is off-track.

      • More likely human attribution is INcorrect and therefore the post is correct.
        However you have a point.
        The main point of the post is that regardless whether climate change can be linked to human influences, the lazy thinking that all we need to do to solve all our problems is stop burning fossil fuels is causing us to miss opportunties and direct our efforts away from the real causes of today’s problems.

        If you think that that point would be lost if someone objected to what they perceived as an implication that man cannot be attributed to climate change, then perhaps that is something Dr Curry might want to address.

      • Jim D

        My problem with your point and much of general attribution is one of timing. Many of the threats suggested may , in fact, be realistic, but only when the warming has moved to significantly higher levels. The difference from 50 to 100 years ago, given the experiences of humans over the last 1000 years ago is miniscule. Politicians have taken advantage of many of the psychological phenomena discussed in the links and used every occurrence to inductively prove the long term threats, (which may be real) are happening in real time.

        Anyone with a minimum level of critical thinking skills can see the holes in that approach.

    • Reversing the null hypothesis

      You really are a droll troll, Jiminy

      Evidence for extreme weather events or a frequency increase in these caused by 0.8C wrming in the last 150 years, please ?

    • Jim D: With 2 W/m2 forcing and nearly 1 C of warming, it is on track, and the temperature evidence says it is right not wrong.

      If the 1C warming has had the other effects estimated for it (10% increase in CAPE, 2%-7% increase in rainfall, increase in upward radiation according to Stefan-Boltzmann), then it had to have been powered by something with more than 2 W/m^2 of power.

      • The transient climate does not have to maintain relative humidity immediately, especially since the drier areas are the ones heating up first, as it happens.

      • Jim D: The transient climate does not have to maintain relative humidity immediately, especially since the drier areas are the ones heating up first, as it happens.

        Have the sea surface temperatures remained constant over the time span that you were writing of? The US, at least between the Rockies and Appalachians has had an increase in maximum rainfall of 7% since 1950.

      • The oceans are warming, but slower than the global average, so yes you can get more rain when it does rain, but the relative humidity isn’t staying constant, so maybe you can also get more droughts.

      • Jim D: The oceans are warming, but slower than the global average, so yes you can get more rain when it does rain, but the relative humidity isn’t staying constant, so maybe you can also get more droughts.

        If the net increase in sea surface temperature produces a net increase in the rainfall, that entails a net increase in the rate of non-radiative transfer of energy from the surface to the upper troposphere. How much of an increase given your best estimate of the increase in SST? Is that compatible with the 2W/m^2 increase in downwelling LWIR that you wrote of? I do not see the point of your references to relative humidity. Water that evaporates and then recondenses near the Earth surface (this may apply to nighttime fog in the American Midwest in the summer) does not transfer energy from the surface to the upper troposphere.

    • “The rest makes the rather poor assumption that the IPCC climate change projections and science behind them can’t be right despite all the evidence

      It is highly uncharitable to assert that Judith is relying upon such an “assumption” (absent reasoned judgment) or that “CAN’T be right despite all the evidence” is any accurate description of how Judith approaches IPCC issues.

      • Read the main post. Apparently the majority of scientists don’t believe AGW because it is just right and supported by so much of the evidence, but because of something else that she has invented for the purpose of blogging. Try it in a scientific discussion and it won’t fly because evidence wins over rhetoric.

    • I disagree, Jim. While health concerns may be borne out in time, at this point neither real world data or the IPCC agree with the idea that AGW is a significant contributor to health NOW, or is likely in the immediate future as it’s going to need to become a lot warmer to move that needle in a meaningful way. And it is NOW that the President with stooges in tow is trying to make the case. It’s a bunch of desperate hand-waving to imply immediate and dire consequences that don’t survive serious examination. At best it’s an appeal to ignorance, and I should be able to expect better from health care professionals mingling with the leader of the free world.

      If he wants to responsibly advocate, a good start might be pointing out the dangers of smoking around asthmatic children…

  24. I’d put in my usual observation that the term “climate change” no matter who redefines it has now become a meaningless term used for propaganda.

    77% of the respondents to a survey by the American Thoracic Society can observe the effects of climate change increases of respiratory diseases? Really? Were any of these respondents epidemiologists? Was there any scientific basis to their observations? I believe I’d hastily find another thoracic specialist if I had one who diagnosed my problems as due to climate change, because I’d have serious doubts about his training and intelligence.

    Asthma rates are rather a mystery. If you pay attention you will find regular and different causes of asthma. As observed, as pollution decreases, asthma rates increase. That, in itself, should put to rest the claim. The President’s claim that climate change was due to his 4-year-old daughter’s one bout of asthma, while at a circus, is a patently absurd attempt at a causal link, yet it gets lot’s of play in the press. An easy test of warming causing asthma is to look for trends and rates by latitude in the US. There isn’t a trend.

    Causal links between some event and global warming/climate change/climate disruption are ongoing and continuous. The last storm, snow, drought are all signs of climate change. John Brignell’s warmlist is a classic compilation of linkage claims. http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

    • I start coughing when I get upset and when I hear them talking about the alarmist junk, I do get upset. There might be a case for taking them to court for talking about alarmist junk that has no data to support it.

  25. So much depends on the intended audience. I [a physical scientist] was getting uneasy as I read through the text not because the content of the narrative but because assertions are accumulating without reference documentation. However, when I got to the third paragraph from the end [‘Specifically with regards to asthma…’] with the links I was immediately thinking that I would look at starting the paper with that material reworked as an short example, ending the paragraph with a “So what’s going on here?” sort of segue.

    This also sets the stage for stressing that while embedded in a climate change context the phenomenon getting attention is one of behavioral science. It’s a gut feeling but I like the idea of keeping hard sciences and soft sciences at a distance from one another in such a talk/paper.

    I also think that one might be able to make interesting graphics for the example.* I’ve always figured that I’ve only got 2 or 3 slides to set the hook. But that was my comfort zone.

    Of course I’m out of my comfort zone making suggestions to you but I still like the smell of erasable markers in the morning.
    —————-
    A second example [also short] could drive home the nature of the problem/phenomenon you are going to discuss.

  26. ==> “Specifically with regards to asthma, which is an issue that influenced President Obama: the argument is that increasing heat waves will exacerbate smog, which exacerbates asthma.”

    It should be noted that part of what Obama said to the press is that climate change would increase forest fires which would increase particulates which would increase the prevalence of asthma.

    • The statement that particulates increase causes asthma attacks seems to have been overturned by recent studies. The incidence of asthma seems to have continued to rise despite improved environment and reduced smog in many areas of the US.

    • Listening to the Alarmist talk does trigger my asthma. It must be in my head.

    • I can’t see that Obama actually made that specific claim linking asthma directly to climate change or his daughters illness.. In the video he said;

      ‘all of our families are going to be vulnerable’ to global warming induced health risks because ‘you can’t cordon yourself off from air or from climate.’ Murthy said, ‘This is a personal issue for me because when I was young one of my favorite uncles…he died from a severe asthma attack’

      So I guess Obama inferred that asthma and other illnesses could be linked to climate change in future.

      tonyb

    • If we don’t know what causes asthma, then it follows that we don’t know that climate change doesn’t cause asthma.

      Though, if you do have respiratory ailments, you would be best to avoid wildfires, air pollution and other physical factors that could affect your pre-existing condition.

      • Bob’s right, avoid the causes, which are protean, some unknown.
        =================

      • Then neither do we know that toenail clippings don’t cause asthma, so it’s probably best to avoid clipping out toenails as well.

        It helps to have some kind of plausible mechanism.

      • Right, Kim
        I was trying to point out that there are differences between causes and environmental factors that may exacerbate a condition.

        Though most here seem to be concluding that Obama was saying that climate change causes asthma.

      • Danny Thomas

        Bob Droege,
        “Though most here seem to be concluding that Obama was saying that climate change causes asthma.”
        Pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Obama (leave my children out of it) stated Malia had as asthma attack during a presentation for creation of an entity to study the link of climate change to health issues. This was “cascaded” via many media examples on both sides of the spectrum and convoluted by the AGW side to indicate that it had a link to GW, and chided by the skeptical side as being a ridiculous claim.
        The bully pulpit has two sides.

      • “If we don’t know what causes asthma, then it follows that we don’t know that climate change doesn’t cause asthma.”

        We don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s, but I bet it isn’t “climate change.” I also have to ask, inasmuch as there’s been no warming in 18+ years, specifically how has the climate changed in a way that can be confidently attributed to CO2

      • Saying we don’t know the cause so we can’t disprove it’s CC is a text book example of an Appeal to Ignorance.

  27. I do talk to a lot of people about Climate. Almost every day. I think I did talk to four people today. None of them are on the Alarmist band wagon. One was a high school principal in our school district. I have talked to the superintendent of our school district, multiple teachers and multiple principal’s. I don’t find extreme alarmism in our schools and I don’t find extreme alarmism in the people I talk to from day to day.
    I do find the extreme alarmism in some of my liberal friends and some others, but not any kind of majority.

    Whatever your opinion, discuss and debate and look at real data.

  28. Judith, you requested comment on this draft. My initial reaction (after first reading) is;

    You don’t state clearly enough what point you are trying to get across

    I think you are moving to far away from you area of expertise and venturing towards soft sciences, psychology, sociology, scientology and the areas covered by Lewandowski and John Cook.

    Climate change may exacerbate environmental problems that are caused by overpopulation, poorly planned land-use and over-exploitation of natural resources. However, for the most part it is very difficult to separate out the impacts of human caused climate change from natural climate change and from other societal impacts.

    That’s a good opening statement. However I’d suggest changing “exacerbate” in this “Climate change may exacerbate environmental problems” to make it clear that climate change may be either net beneficial or net damaging and we don’t know which nor by how much nor by when this may begin to have an effect (positive or negative). Evidence is that warming and increasing CO2 concentrations have been overwhelmingly positive to date and that is likely to continue for some time – perhaps for all this century (e.g. Tol, Figure 3 here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-012-0613-3 , and free prepublication version here: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/climate_change.pdf )

    I’d suggest building on this opening and explaining the policy options … e.g. apply the Pareto Principle. :)

  29. Judith wrote:
    “Is climate change making us stupid? I fear that the answer is ‘yes.’ This problem is exacerbated by politically correct climate change orthodoxy, enforced by politicians, advocates and the media in an availability cascade, which is destroying our ability to think rationally about how we should respond to climate change.”

    It’s getting tiring hear people, especially some scientists, whine about “politically correct orthodoxy,” no ability to think rationally, climate zombies, and the like. It sounds like nothing more than an excuse because these scientists own ideas aren’t being widely accepted. It’s playing politics, the very thing they claim to see in others. It’s playing the victim.

    It’s very simple for your to fix all this — just provide better evidence. Produce better science. Gather data and write papers than convinces others your ideas have merit, that what you’re claiming is real and a different viewpoint is required, because that’s what your science shows. Better evidence has always prevailed in science, which is the real story of peptic ulcers.

    But stop maligning scientists as a group, and stop whining that they’re suppressing you and playing voodoo with the press and the public. Science is a battle of ideas, and not all ideas prevail. By all means, fight for your ideas, but walk away from the battles with some dignity, prepared to fight another day, instead of endlessly complaining the other side is cheating.

  30. harrytwinotter

    “Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems.”

    Really? Any evidence to back up this claim?

    The article reads like a straw man.

    • Work on your observational skills. I see it every time I pick a paper or read a magazine or watch the news. That it is happening is beyond the debating stage.

      The entire climate community should try to do what Judith is doing. They should extract themselves from their closed system, evaluate their sub-culture, and become more circumspect intellectually, being open to some of these sociological and organizational principles.

    • @ harrytwinotter

      “Really? Any evidence to back up this claim?”

      Sure.

      Follow the links here:

      http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

      (already provided above by Bob Greene) and read practically any newspaper or contemporary magazine.

    • If you don’t see evidence every day in the narrative provided by politicians, advocacy groups, and the MSM then you have removed yourself from the news or are willfully blind to it. They are certainly trying their best to provide it to you at every opportunity.

      • harrytwinotter

        Dr Curry providing evidence to back up her claim is preferable to rhetorical hand-waving.

        Kinda weird that someone would make a claim, then expect people to collect their own evidence. The burden of evidence is always on the person making the claim.

        Dr Curry knows this, she is a scientist.

  31. John Vonderlin

    Is this statement made in the Abstract about the ATS poll results statistically acceptable if only 17% of the queried responded?
    “Results indicate that a large majority of ATS members have concluded that climate change is happening (89%)”
    Without the caveat “of those who responded” somewhere in that sentence that seems like an improper use of statistics. Is there a minimum rate of responses that is generally required to make that kind of statement from poll results? I realize that political polls are done about millions of voters by asking only a few thousand people. But, those are not self-selected, that is, people who care enough about the question to bother spending their time replying to it.
    In addition, my long time lady friend, a retired pulmonary specialist/allergist, is mystified by the increases in asthma through the last decades of her career. Numerous theories have been put forth, none particularly accepted or proven. She has told me a number of times: “The more therapies there are for a condition, the less likely that any one of them will work.” Don’t expect containing Global Warming to lower the asthma rate either.

    • @ John Vonderlin

      ““Results indicate that a large majority of ATS members have concluded that climate change is happening (89%)””

      I am astounded that the results did not show that 100% of the ATS members have concluded that climate change is happening.

      After all, can any of the 11% who have NOT concluded that the climate is changing point to a time in the past, on any time scale they desire, that the climate was NOT changing? Or would they maintain, if asked, that the current climate is stable?

  32. IMHO The link between asthma, CO2 and Global Warming is based on the requirements of the ‘Clean Air Act’.

    Specifically…pollutants that harm public health are within the purview of the EPA’s authority.

    Since the most egregious pollutants the EPA was created to address have long since been addressed the only way for the EPA to continue justifying it’s existence is by declaring pollutants with more tenuous links to public health as ‘dangerous’.

    Clearly…breathing pure oxygen for an extended period of time can have unintended side effects…so it too will eventually be declared a pollutant.

    /sarc
    We should also consider declaring water a pollutant because excessive ingestion of water can result in death.

    /sarc off

    Out current problem across a wide spectrum of US Government Agencies is that the problems they were created to solve have largely been addressed and they have nothing to do.

    Rather then declare victory…hold a parade and send everyone on their way to enjoy life in other fields…the ‘warriors’ just keep declaring war on smaller and smaller problems.

  33. The liberal political movements modernity has spawned closely resemble millenarian movements. At least they’re regularly in danger to enter that mode. Just the apocalyptic event has been missing (or the candidates were somehow unsatisfying). Now it seems to be found. Climate Change is an incredible business proposition for the political oligarchy.
    Historically these follies mostly ended in ruin.

  34. Associative cascading information is a good thing –
    isn’t it? Without it where would we serfs be ?
    Sans language, art, science. Like art historian Ernst
    Gombrich says, the possibility of metaphor springs
    from that elastic capacity of the human mind ter perceive
    and assimilate new experiences that modify earlier ones,
    find equivalences in disparate phenomena, substitute
    one fer another.

    How about science, the evolution of theories from first crude
    guesses – this is like that? The evolution of critical tools in
    thinking, rigorous testing in hypotheses in science – bright
    side fer sure.

    Dark side of cascade thinking. We can be pretty primitive,
    like Trinculo and Stephen in Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest,’
    mistaking Calaban fer a moon calf.

    More dark side. Politicians, activists, media stimulating
    an ‘availability cascade’ – call it what yer will, ‘grand
    narrative’, ‘ self re-enforcing process of collective belief
    formation,’ – it’s ‘propaganda’ -‘ a deliberate act ter
    narrow the viewpoints and policy options that we are
    willing to consider in dealing with complex issues such
    as public health, weather disasters and national security.’

    Prop -Oh -Gander!! Hey, guvuhmint, we -don’t-need-no-
    thought-control, duh-duhduh.

  35. I fear that the answer is ‘yes.’

    Style sheets may differ, but I claim that it doesn’t get quotes because “yes” is indirect statement, not a quote.

    It always reads strangely to me with quotes, as if somebody is claimed to have actually said it, when it’s just shorthand for an answer.

  36. Dr Curry –
    Nice summary. I’ve not come across the ‘availability cascade’ term before but your description of what it represents is easily recognised.
    History has other examples of a widespread ‘crowd think’ pervading the body politic, but none so widespread and certainly none so pernicious as the CAGW axiom (yes, I did choose that word).

    Short of a significant fall in global temperatures (none of us has much idea if this is likely) I see no way to break it. The problem is a lack of leadership. Here in the UK warmist ideas are unquestioningly accepted, and carelessly promulgated, by every major political party, scientific and cultural institution, church, charity, university, school, trade union, local authority, NGO, and even, universally, by big business (with the energy companies and even the oil companies towing the line). Scepticism exists in high places but is mostly unexpressed for fear of censure and ridicule. One upstart party – UKIP – is clearly sceptical but makes little of it (although Christopher Monckton is involved) and they’ll get votes, but be very lucky to get a seat or two out of 650 in the forthcoming elections.

    In the USA, although warmists hold all the key positions, you have more visible scepticism, with some Governors and Representatives openly hostile to the orthodoxy. Unfortunately, they are largely confined to the Republican right, who are (with a few honourable exceptions) rather poorly informed and in my opinion inarticulate on the subject. And they are quite often associated with wacky ideas such as creationism which will not give them any traction at all with the middle ground that needs to be woken up.

    Maybe some well-prepared and concise “declaration of scepticism” to which the great and the good from all walks of life would be encouraged, then badgered, even harrassed, to sign, could have some effect, but it would need a very well prepared campaign to get it moving, and with money behind it as well (I’m aware there have been decent attempts at this in the past). Every idea has its time, and if there should be the beginnings of a temperature fall, that would be the time. This will have to big, and visible, and loud, and challenging, and smart. And that will require the leadership.

    So, where are the leaders to come from? ..over to your readers!

  37. Schrodinger's Cat

    Climate change is responsible for Asthma, Biodiversity loss, Crop failure and Drought. The alleged consequences of climate change could easily populate the alphabet several times over.

    Climate change is the universal evil demon and using fossil fuels is the universal sin. How did this happen? The Global Warming label was becoming an embarrassment several years into the pause. Climate change is much better, it means everything and nothing. It is a meaningless term. It defines neither the start, or the finish or the direction of change. Today, it does not even require that a change has actually occurred.

    Climate change has become the bogeyman.

    According to Wikipedia, “Bogeyman is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults or older children to frighten bad children into good behaviour.

    It seems to me that this provides the perfect definition of climate change. I leave it to the reader to visualise its meaning in the context of our modern society.

    How does one confront the bogeyman? When I hear people talk of climate change I ask them, “What change?” Usually they find it difficult to reply. All the standard concerns such as warming, extreme weather and sea level rise can be countered using readily available facts.

    The bogeyman, once unmasked, is much less frightening, rather like climate change.

  38. From the Wikipedia article on Social Justice …

    Hunter Lewis’ work promoting natural healthcare and sustainable economies advocates for conservation as a key premise in social justice. His manifesto on sustainability ties the continued thriving of human life to real conditions, the environment supporting that life, and associates injustice with the detrimental effects of unintended consequences of human actions. Quoting classical Greek thinkers like Epicurus on the good of pursuing happiness, Hunter also cites ornithologist, naturalist, and philosopher Alexander Skutch in his book Moral Foundations:

    “The common feature which unites the activities most consistently forbidden by the moral codes of civilized peoples is that by their very nature they cannot be both habitual and enduring, because they tend to destroy the conditions which make them possible.”

    Pope Benedict XVI cites Teilhard de Chardin in a vision of the cosmos as a ‘living host’ embracing an understanding of ecology that includes mankinds’s relationship to fellow men, that pollution affects not just the natural world but interpersonal relations also. Cosmic harmony, justice and peace are closely interrelated:

    “If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.”

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

  39. David Wojick

    I would put the last paragraph first, as an introduction to the long argument. Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them. This is why scientific arguments begin with abstracts.

  40. David Wojick

    The strongest claim is buried in the middle of a middle paragraph: “Attribution of any trend in extreme weather events to human caused climate change cannot be done with any confidence.”

    But this is a technical use of “confidence” which may need clarification, depending on the audience.

  41. David Wojick

    The UNFCCC is a product of the cascade so it cannot be the basis. The cascade was well underway by then. For example, USGCRP was established in 1990, the IPCC in 1988. The UNFCCC accelerated the cascade.

  42. Good stuff, Prof. Curry.

    Intellectuals can appreciate sociological insights. However, most people respond to popular culture cues rather than academic studies.

    From that perspective, climate change has a very good publicist. This generates the near-constant background buzz of climate change “news” and convinces people that it is important, just like other media celebrities.

    Entrepreneurs associate themselves with climate change’s popular “brand” to serve their own financial and reputational goals. The feedback loop perpetuates and expands market penetration. Climate change entrepreneurs didn’t drink the Kool-Aid; they started selling Coca-Cola to the masses — at a profit.

    The average person instinctively understands that cause-and-effect relationships exist but they don’t think through the fact that most of the news stories about climate change impacts place the effect (disaster, potential disaster) before the cause (it has to get warmer first). When a skeptic tries to counter this mental misalignment, she has to overcome a great deal of bias. Not an easy task. Good luck to you.

  43. stevefitzpatrick

    It is an interesting essay. Seems to me many people who have little knowledge of climate science or substantive knowledge of actual impacts of warming (like the medical doctors worried about asthma) adopt as a default position to “do no harm”… IOW no matter the plausibility of the claimed harm, better to take whatever steps are suggested than to be possibly responsible for harm. It is not just global warming where this default position is evident, it is pervasive…. fracking, GMO foods, vaccines, danger from nano particulate materials, lead in glass, cancer from cell phones, etc. The list is almost endless. The arguments differ only in detail, and in each case lead to either government investigation/action/regulation or the dissemination and propagation of factually incorrect information and consequent ‘public alarm’. All of which ranges from wasteful to harmful. I don’t see any simple way to reduce the size of this problem…. you can’t reasonably expect most people to understand complicated technology nor to be able to evaluate levels of risk in subject areas they do not understand, and their over-riding desire is always to “do no harm”, so they will go along with most any crazy remedy for a claimed problem….. ‘just in case’. The best you can do is to show that the worst of the rubbish is in fact rubbish….. and accept that even when you do that many people will not listen, no matter what you say.

  44. Hi Judy, great post.

    Indeed it’s all about narrative. Whatever is happening in the climate and whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent, social processes have long outstripped science and understanding of the physical climate, to dominate our actions in this domain. This is the central theme of ‘The CAGW Memeplex’, which you were kind enough to publish here at Climate Etc. back in October 2013. Cascades are a specific (and dramatic) aspect of the narrative competition that occurs constantly in populations, driven mainly by emotive memes that push psychologial hot-buttons within us, and which cascades arise when a particular narrative encompassing a range of co-developing memes crosses a threshold of dominance (in a relatively short space of time). The underlying mechanisms are common to religions and cults and extremist politics, yet can certainly be triggered by science topics, e.g. Eugenics. I see that your cascade info comes from the the Stanford Law Review; the CAGW Memeplex also has a large section deriving from the legal domain, based on a paper from Duke Law, about how the law is partly about protecting us from cultural / narrative takeover, yet can also be subverted by such takeovers if they get past our defences.

    Narrative competition and the emotive channeling that feeds it, occurs constantly, and our susceptibility to narrative takeover is a legacy of our evolutionary past. This leads to the understanding that overall, there has been major *net* benefit in these social mechanisms (so despite some heavy downsides, such as what is happening with CAGW right now). For instance enforced social consensus is necessary for communal action where ‘the truth’ is simply unknowable, and even these days there is little to no absolute truth in the political philosophies available to us. However we also have long-evolved natural defences against narrative takeover, which Lewandowsky came across and called ‘innate skepticism’, ‘the key to accuracy’. This natural BS detector goes a long way to explaining the public lack of faith and action on climate change. Emotive orthodoxy wipes out this defence, and explains why (as Kahan finds) folks get *more* polarized on CAGW as they get more science literate; initial bias vectors them either further into orthodoxy, or to a better understanding of the genuine uncertainties (this aspect is covered in my guest post here at Climate Etc. on 30th January this year).

    All the above also reinforces that there is nothing special about CAGW whatsoever; this is not a different, unique, unecountered social phenomenon. These types of narratives and social effects have been prevalent throughout our entire recorded history and long before, probably back to at least the arising of language.

    Emotional bias is one of the important mechanisms which helps to drive narrative takeovers; I am close to completing a short piece on this that I’ll send for your consideration.

  45. Schrodinger's Cat

    Science is frequently regarded as a total mystery by politicians and the average member of the public. This makes it easy to fool them using authority and science speak, a trick eagerly exploited by those who wish to deceive in order to further their own aims.

  46. Here’s an article from Lomborg at the WSJ.

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/the-alarming-thing-about-climate.html

    And here’s his quote about a 97% drop in death rates from natural disasters over the last century—————
    “The best way to see this is to look at the world’s deaths from natural disasters over time. In the Oxford University database for death rates from floods, extreme temperatures, droughts and storms, the average in the first part of last century was more than 13 dead every year per 100,000 people. Since then the death rates have dropped 97% to a new low in the 2010s of 0.38 per 100,000 people”.
    If that doesn’t prove that they are talking a load of nonsense then I don’t know what would convince these people.

  47. Jest the facts ma’am.

  48. climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels.

    I’ve been following this topic since the mid-90’s and from what I’ve read, I think they want to stop the burning of fossil fuels mainly in developed countries as well as put the clamps on democracy, and redistribute our wealth to developing countries for two reasons: 1) to bring down their fertility rates by development and 2) to provide reliable electric power to areas of the world without it so that the NSA can easily keep track of the rest of the world’s population.

    • I remember being so naive that I was appalled to discover just how much information had to be processed in order to correctly bill for long distance calls.
      =============

    • No, we don’t want to put any “clamps on democracy” in fact, democracy is one of the tools we will use to put a stop to the burning of fossil fuels.

      I will only be voting for those who take climate change seriously.

  49. Here is what we proposed in

    Pielke Sr., R.A., R. Wilby, D. Niyogi, F. Hossain, K. Dairaku, J. Adegoke, G. Kallos, T. Seastedt, and K. Suding, 2012: Dealing with complexity and extreme events using a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability perspective. Extreme Events and Natural Hazards: The Complexity Perspective Geophysical Monograph Series 196 © 2012. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. 10.1029/2011GM001086. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/r-3651.pdf

    “We discuss the adoption of a bottom-up, resource-based vulnerability approach in evaluating the effect of climate and other environmental and societal threats to societally critical resources. This vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to local and regional water, food, energy, human health, and ecosystem function resources from extreme events including those from climate but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risks can be compared with other risks in order to adopt optimal preferred mitigation/adaptation strategies. This is a more inclusive way of assessing risks, including from climate variability and climate change, than using the outcome vulnerability approach adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). A contextual vulnerability assessment using the bottom-up, resource-based framework is a more inclusive approach for policy makers to adopt effective mitigation and adaptation methodologies to deal with the complexity of the spectrum of social and environmental extreme events that will occur in the coming decades as the range of threats are assessed, beyond just the focus on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases as emphasized in the IPCC assessments.”

  50. See also https://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/b-18preface.pdf

    where we suggest the following questions be addressed

    1. Why is this resource important? How is it used? To what stakeholders is it valuable?
    2. What are the key environmental and social variables that influence this resource?
    3. What is the sensitivity of this resource to changes in each of these key variables? This includes, but is not limited to, the sensitivity of the resource to climate variations and change on short (e.g., days), medium (e.g., seasons), and long (e.g., multidecadal) timescales.
    4. What changes (thresholds) in these key variables would have to occur to result in a negative (or positive) response to this resource?
    5. What are the best estimates of the probabilities for these changes to occur? What tools are available to quantify the effect of these changes? Can these estimates be skillfully predicted?
    6. What actions (adaptation/mitigation) can be undertaken in order to minimize or eliminate the negative consequences of these changes (or to optimize a positive response)?
    7. What are specific recommendations for policymakers and other stakeholders?

  51. It s pretty hard for an uneducated old farmer to post into the mass of high level intellectual firepower that Judith has assembled on her blog but here goes;

    quoted;
    Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels. This grand narrative misleads us to think that if we solve the problem of climate change, then these other problems would also be solved.

    Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change. An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation that triggers a self-perpetuating chain reaction: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and greater alarm. Because slowly increasing temperatures don’t seem alarming, the ‘availability entrepreneurs’ push extreme weather events and public health impacts as being caused by human-caused climate change, more of which is in store if we don’t quickly act to cool the planet by reducing fossil fuel emissions
    ___________

    On the face of it the above quote tells the story.
    But is the reality a whole lot different?

    There are three main points I would like to make;

    The first point is not meant in any way as critiscm of our hostess but is as I see it.
    1 / Judith is immersed in academia and amongst scientists of every type as are almost every scientist involved with anything climate or earth sciences.
    She has probably got a very much larger range of contacts with those outside of science and academia through this, her blog than has just about any other climate scientists that currently has a high profile such as Judith rightly has.
    Nevertheless all her opinions and outlooks along with those of just about every climate scientist and despite her’s and perhaps others best intentions, their opinions and beliefs are carved, shaped and strongly reinforced by the high status individuals with similar interests and outlooks as their own attitudes and opinions which they deal with in science, politics and the media on an everyday basis.

    There appears to be a profound lack of contact between climate science and the street level herd of humanity as there appears to be little or no field work as a direct outcome of climate science research to bring climate scientists and associated science into regular contact and discourse with , down to earth, street level ordinary people and in the fields and the back blocks of human residence.

    So there appears to be little in the way of a real time ordinary down to earth reality acquired from the human masses in so much of the rarified climate science posturing that we down here at this level are being force fed.

    Reality is that 1.6 billion Islamics have some other very serious problems occupying them at the moment and climate change would be a very bad last in their estimations I would think.
    There are 1.3 billion Indians who want what we in the western world have and still want and the so called catastrophic climate change is not going to stop them using fossil fuels to achieve it as has already been made very clear including shutting down the Greenpeace climate activists entirely as Greenpeace’s nefarious activists activities was costing India an estimated 1% per annum in GDP growth.
    The 1.4 billion Chinese are also just wanting what we have and with the current corruption power play amingst the big boys probably couldn’t give a damn about climate change so long as the big wheels at the top don’t start using the lower status masses as tools to fight their own political games.

    A billion Africans just want to be able to drink clean water and switch on a light and have it stay on and the hell with any fossil fuel pollution or climate change, particularly after breathing dung and leaves smoke in their huts and dwellings for most of their short lives.

    140 million Russians believe it is all a plot by the westerners to rein in Russia’s dreams of grandeur for the future.

    A few hundred million or so South Americans just want a better life also. Climate change is a long way down their lists of worries.
    A nother few hundred million SE Asians are hard on the track towards getting the living standards we enjoyed some decades ago and intend to get their living standards a whole lot better yet.
    Climate change is way down their list if it can be found at all.

    Which leaves about 400 million in Europe, another 370 million in North America plus another few million in Australia , NZ and a couple of other minor population centres, say about 800 million maximum or about 11% of the global population to worry about climate change and fossil fuel pollution.
    Of those roughly 800 million, at least 20% don’t give a damn about climate change and another 30% or more aren’t very concerned at all.
    Of what is left I think that at least half of those would quite readily shift camp if another equally persuasive meme came along.

    Which doesn’t leave much of a global population base to be the ones who try to force major changes to our global and national social systems onto the global populace to prevent an unseen, non experienced as yet, non measurable, unable to be differentiated in any way scientifically and measurably from entirely naturally occurring weather and climate events, the prevention of an endlessly model predicted human created catastrophic and climatic armageddon from our use of the humanity uplifting fossil fuels.

    2 / Mankind is a social animal.
    Alone and without tools of any sort he is very vulnerable indeed and is far down the chain of predators and into “prey” territory.
    So we humans operate in groups for protection and dominance over other species. Hence our family groups, our clans and tribes and nations. Groupings which raise our species to the supreme predator species on the planet both against other species and amongst our own species.

    But to operate as a collective group we have to rein in our own personal behaviour and our own thinking trends and our own personal mental traits to closely conform with the collective psychology, the collective “Herd” mentality that so many animal species follow and conform to for protection and mutual survival and advancement of the species just as Homo sapiens also does.
    As a “herd” type species we have always, throughout our sojourn on this planet, always had a hierarchal form of power structure controlling the movements and organisation of the various human herds.

    So when another brand of ideology arises or manifest itself, if the current leadership of the human herd decrees it so, the vast majority of the “herd” collective will bury their own inclinations and follow the dictates of the elite leadership.
    When questioned about their beliefs on a the subject they will repeat the current fashionable mantra for to not do so threatens their position in the herd and perhaps the solidarity of the herd and to maintain the psychology of the herding traits the individual adopts the current and most powerful herd meme. .
    But anybody who has worked live stock for a living will know that with the removal of most of the high status leaders of a flock or herd will change many characteristics of the flock or herd in some and often in many ways.

    So it is with the human herd.
    When a new meme that either negates the old meme through change somewhere in the hierarchy or in circumstances, Global cooling anyone?, , in that case Climate Change or whatever it is known as today or displaces it appears on the scene the vast mass of the human herd will quite happily abandon its previously held position on the subject and adopt the new meme if the leadership decrees so and has the confidence of the mass of the human herd.
    In short, down at street level the belief in the “climate change” meme appears to be held quite tightly by the individuals of the Herd.
    But long standing historical reality and human mass psychology suggests that the underlying belief system in the climate change meme is very shallow and will be rapidly be discarded when another more persuasive meme appears on the scene to either counter it or displace it as circumstances and human attitudes go through their everlasting permutations.

    3 /
    The whole total concept of catastrophic global warming is completely and entirely an totally invented artifact of the scientific, political, environmental and media elite.
    Judith suggests that the “scientists”” are caught in the middle.
     My reaction; total BS!

    Scientists invented the catastrophic global warming meme.
    Scientists [ German ] came up with the supposed catastrophic 2 degrees increase in global temperatures.
    Scientists altered, Ben Santer to be precise, the findings of the 1995 Madrid Conference from a possible effect of humans on the climate to a definite effect from humans on the climate which kick started the whole damn situation we have today.
    Scientists could have corrected that political climate catastrophe “Fix” that the politicals have ridden hard ever since.
    Scientists as a very influential grouping could have stopped the excesses of the politicals, the rabid environmentalists and the political manipulators and the gross exaggerations and sometimes straight out mis-information and lies of the media very early in the piece and done it fast and hard .
    They didn’t!
    Instead scientists joined the other scamming “troughers” at the tax payer’s well filled trough and buried their snouts deep into that trough.

    Now science is beginning to pay and it will pay a very high price indeed amongst the populace for the ongoing destruction of it’s former dearly held reputation for honesty, integrity and ethics.

    The point here is that the entire catastrophic global warming meme was purely an invented artifact of the elite of science, allied closely with politics, environmentalism and the media band wagon.
    It never ever began or came from the bottom of any society as a mass movement promoted by the people on the streets and fields .

    History tells us that all such elitist developed societal artifacts are ultimately doomed and eventually go on to fail, often spectacularly but sadly, usually involving great suffering and sacrifice by those at the bottom who never ever were asked as to whether this is what they want or would accept.

    • ROM, for years I’ve called this madness of the herd ‘a precious conceit of a Western elite’, but both ‘precious’ and ‘conceit’ are used in a somewhat archaic manner, so I’ve rarely gotten much response.
      ==========================

      • ‘a precious conceit of a Western elite’

        packs a lot of meaning into a few words! Well said, the climate obsessions are both precious and (overwhelmingly) limited to Western elites. To the extent that anyone else cares it is merely for levers to pry money out of guilt ridden Western elites.

    • The last 8 moths are likely to have an anomaly of .78C, almost .11C higher than the warmest year, 2014.

      The PDO is allegedly in its negative phase. The do-nothing AMO is supposedly turning negative. The sun is napping. ONI is slipping. And yet, the temperature of the earth’s surface is sky high and currently going up like a rocket. You’re being completely silly.

      It’s going to be fun watching the stadium wave party. Are you going?

      • Hmmm, Ol’ Sol naps at peak cycle. Mebbe post ictal, or post Icarus.
        =============================

      • Those 1000 cycles can really be a bummer, eh?

      • Thanks for the cue, ck: Ignore the millennial at your perennial.
        ==================

      • JCH:

        And yet, the temperature of the earth’s surface is sky high and currently going up like a rocket. You’re being completely silly.

        After spending billions of dollars over two decades we may have just begun to demonstrate that global average temperatures are slightly outside normal climate variability. The rest is hypothetical (with a big dash of hoopla). Who’s being silly?

      • You are.

        Onward and upward. And much faster than Curry thinks. The AMO is a pretender. It’s got nothing. It went way down in March. Did anything else? Nope. The earth largely ignores it.

      • > The last 8 moths are likely to have an anomaly of .78C, almost .11C higher than the warmest year, 2014.

        For such a small number of moths,
        Do we say a cascade?

      • Danny Thomas

        For any group of moths, look at the sun fully covered by the moon (or the moon shadowed fully by the earth)!

    • A long post ROM and written from the heart. The people who hold themselves as remote from the community are not necessarily just scientists, however, but include all types of people who simply lack empathy and feeling for other people who are worse off than they are.

      In Australia, the current Abbott government is congratulating itself in the way they have stopped the boats of refugeescoming to Australia in search of a better life. The lack of humanity in this policy is something to be deplored but it is symptomatic of why humanity needs to reassess its priorities and become more humane and that word seems to me to be an oxymoron.

    • ROM,

      The Sam Erwin card, well played!

      It took a while to read your full comment, but it was worth reading and re-reading. You address your 3 points with great insight and much thought. IMHO probably one of the best comments I have read on CE.

      You are 100% correct to not let Science and the Scientists off the hook:

      “The whole total concept of catastrophic global warming is completely and entirely an totally invented artifact of the scientific, political, environmental and media elite.
      Judith suggests that the “scientists”” are caught in the middle.
      My reaction; total BS!”

      Scientists and their Unions (APS, AGU, The Royal Society, ACS etc.) are totally complicit in the CAGW farce.

      I think there are some scientists that have been able to dissociate from the Herd, and Judith may be on the verge, but she needs to lose the “scientists as victims” meme to get there.

    • good points ROM, thx

  52. Pingback: Climate activists’ last play: attempting to start an “availability cascade.” | The Fabius Maximus website

  53. Carbon dioxide has fastened upon the carrier of public truth as carbon monoxide fastens onto the hemoglobin molecule. The fascination upon carbon dioxide has poisoned the ability of climate science to pursue and transmit true knowledge amongst themselves and to the public, it has poisoned the ability of politicians to work to the benefit of the polity, it has poisoned the efficient workings of the economy, and it doesn’t let go easily.
    ========================

  54. Judith, a superbly written piece. I do hope it gets the wide circulation that it deserves when finished. I agree with others about the term “climate change”. Everyone knows it is a ruse and you should avoid using it. It is warmist spin. Substitute global warming for climate change.

  55. “Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels.” – JC

    No absurd exaggerations here.

  56. “While asthma rates have been climbing, the cause cannot be global warming” – JC

    Thanks for the diagnosis Dr Curry.

    • When it’s all pervasive, it’s invisible. Too much can make too little. The poison is in the dose.

      You can ignorantly dismiss the teacher’s logic and diagnosis, or malignantly do so.
      ================

  57. This discussion depends on how you want to “frame” the issue. Do you want to frame it in the context of “conflict” (as this blog post does) — or do you want to “frame” in a context of trying to find some “common ground“?

    Dr. Ramanathan’s “Fast Mitigation” Idea (basically reducing air pollution) is an example of trying to find “common ground”.

    A Conservative approach in implementing “Fast Mitigation” is through win/win International Trade Agreements: Where (1) Developing Countries are given trade incentives into U.S./E.U. Markets on certain products; IF (2) these products are produced using high tech, high energy efficient U.S./E.U. equipment.

    This approach is a whole lot better than things like Carbon Taxes or International Treaties.

    http://greenenergy.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-failure-of-conservatives-on-global.html#junkthinking

    • Motivate the Chinese to turn on their scrubbers. Offer to Parabati that Indians do.
      ===================

    • Here is an example of using International Trade:

      http://www.onearth.org/sites/default/files/styles/full_width_image/public/uploaded-files/02_01fob_made03_graph4.jpg?itok=SOPjk7A6

      The U.S. would give Developing Countries (e.g., Southeast Asia other than China) special trade incentives (shoot, let’s even immediately eliminate bans on exporting U.S. natural gas to just these Developing Countries) — for products (like clothing) that have a verifiable Carbon and Air Quality Standard.

      To get these “carrots” from the U.S., Developing Countries would have to implement U.S. high tech, high efficiency products (yes, including state of the art Coal Power Plants).

      It doesn’t have to be “just equipment technology”. It could include things like changing how rice is grown in Vietnam to dramatically reduce methane emissions.

    • Describe these trade incentives. Something better than what we have now with China, or is this prettifying a call for tariffs on Chinese products?
      Wars have been started over tariffs.
      And at this point we owe China an awful lot of money – far too much to be chit-chatting about how we’re going to stiff them at the shipping ports. You could get around that, of course, by pointing out that it will be Americans paying the tariffs because you’ll be making energy far too expensive to build anything here, making the protectionism argument moot. Since China doesn’t really care about emissions, they shouldn’t mind it when you bill American consumers for the cost of Chinese coal emissions. Americans might mind that, however, since it won’t have any impact at all on CO2. Not that such an outcome has ever bothered climate advocates.

  58. From the article:

    So what’s a journalist to do?

    This is an incredibly tough issue to grasp precisely because the stakes are so high, not just for the world but also the economic growth of nearly 200 countries.

    At RTCC, we are not climate scientists, and that means we make a judgement on who to trust.

    On balance, I’m happy to take advice from my doctor when I’m not well.

    Equally, as editor, I’m reasonably happy to take the advice of the major scientific bodies who say climate change is a real and present danger.

    I think the best value we can offer is to cover the global climate talks in as impartial and accurate way as possible.

    We’re approached by green groups and climate justice campaigners on a weekly basis, offering a perspective of the global negotiations or pushing their clean energy agendas.

    It’s not our job to campaign for them, or to push their perspective. That frequently irritates some NGOs, who assume we’re part of the same team.

    But we can – and we should – write about these developments as they are of interest to our readers.

    At the core of this debate is trust. It’s a sad fact that – according to a 2014 poll on YouGov – over half of British people now trust Wikipedia more than journalists.

    In the US it’s worse. A 2009 paper for the Pew Research Center revealed only 29% of Americans believe news organisations report in an accurate fashion.

    Another report in 2009 from the same organisation said that 76% of scientists believed journalists “fail to distinguish between findings that are well-founded and those that are not”.

    These are damning statistics, and a warning for media organisations who – deliberately or otherwise – deceive their readers.


    I would add to that and say that routinely ignoring the potential impacts of climate change is failing the audience.

    Falling oil prices, Russia’s aggressive diplomacy, Boko Haram and the collapse of order in the Sahel all have climate change spin-offs that are increasingly relevant to people around the globe.

    Hell – there’s even a link between climate change and Disney’s Frozen. Anyone with a young daughter can look away now.

    This doesn’t mean media organisations have to don their hemp shirts and hand out carrots to all correspondents.

    But it should – increasingly – mean that editorial teams ensure they are aware of what climate risk entails, and think about it when writing, tweeting, or broadcasting.

    – See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/02/18/should-journalists-become-climate-change-campaigners/#sthash.QcyvM8R5.dpuf

  59. Spot the fallacy.
    From the article:

    Three Questions for the Denier:

    Instead of citing an endless list of scientific studies, I propose a different approach. Pose just three questions.

    “Putting aside for the moment the issue of the reality of climate change, will you acknowledge that a recent survey of 10,000 active climate scientists found that 98% affirmed the existence of anthropogenic climate change?”
    “Will you acknowledge the existence of a recently released report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an agency with 195 member countries, which concludes with 95% confidence that the climate is changing, due to human activity.”
    “How, then, do you deal with these acknowledged facts?”
    Now he might reply that the press has lied: that there never was such a survey, and that there is no such thing as the IPCC. But such a reply will only confirm that your adversary is a certified citizen of Fantasyland, and that it is time for a polite but prompt exit.

    But if your opponent answers the first two questions affirmatively, it seems that there are only four conceivable responses to these compelling facts:

    “Global climate change” is a hoax, perpetrated by a world-wide conspiracy of thousands of scientists.
    Those scientists have been “bought off” by funding agencies – primarily governments – who have a secret agenda (variously described).
    These scientists, along with their inferences from thousands of peer-reviewed accounts of field and laboratory studies, are all simply wrong.
    The consensus conclusion of these scientists is correct: global warming is real and homo sapiens have caused it.

    http://permaculturenews.org/2014/01/24/talk-climate-change-denier/

    • Two facts on fuzzy foundations, even fuzzier on attribution.
      ================

      • And completely blurs the distinction between AGW and CAGW. These goggles, they don’t work!
        =================

    • How about global warming, aka climate change, isn’t yet well understood to the point that intelligent and effective policy can be based on it.

    • You are surely right, if enough people are on board it must be true.
      Although it leads to paradoxes….
      All christians (2 billion or so) believe their religion is the truth.
      All muslims believe their religion is the truth (1.6 billion or so).

      But both cannot be true as these religions believe those not in their caste are heretic.

      So your argument that enough people = true is debunked.

      Not that it ever had any merit to a reasonable person.


    • What has become of science? We thought that science was about the pursuit of truth. Then we became perplexed at how quickly scientists have prostituted themselves in the service of political agendas. We have seen the unedifying spectacle of scientists refusing to share their data, fiddling their results, and resorting to ad hominem attacks on those who have exposed their work to be fraudulent. We have seen the Royal Society becoming a shamelessly crude advocacy society. We have seen President Obama choosing notorious climate alarmists and liars to be his personal advisors. We have seen the peer review process and journal editors colluding to prevent publication of results that do not serve the politically-correct agenda, and scientists refusing to consider results that demolish their pet theories. What is going on here?

  60. From the article:

    While and colleagues (2009:2) observe that the global campaign to address anthropogenic climate change has recently become “the new ‘master concept’ of environmental governance,” eclipsing biological diversity conservation as the central organizing principle around which ecological work is undertaken. This increasing focus on climate change has inspired an unprecedented surge in funding for environmental protection and sustainable development initiatives in general, yet it may hold unforeseen and potentially negative consequences for particular environmental issues that are either marginalized within the climate change discussion or that actually run counter to climate change concerns. As While and colleagues (2009:10) observe, “discourses of climate change can be mobilized politically to justify social and technical fixes for states that environmentalists find unacceptable.” The authors point to nuclear power, biofuel production, and population control as examples of problematic policies to which climate change discourse may provide newfound impetus.

    In this article, I address another important issue of concern for environmentalists around the globe that appears to be in the process of dramatic reframing by the climate change discussion, namely the construction of hydroelectric dams and their ecological consequences. I describe a recent resurgence in the construction of hydroelectric dams, both large and small, around the world, spurred, in substantial part, by their newfound description as a form of “clean energy” capable of mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions largely responsible for anthropogenic contributions to global climate change. While this issue has been mentioned in several recent publications (e.g., Lohmann 2009; Finley-Brook and Thomas 2010; Hirsch 2010; Imhof and Lanza 2010; Mäkinen and Khan 2010; Moore et al. 2010; Pittock 2010), it has yet to be systematically analyzed and its full implications explored.

    Employing a political ecology framework, I endeavor to articulate the multiple levels at which this issue unfolds, describing the correlation between the circulation of climate change discourse and the resurgence of hydroelectric power at the global level; how this situation has been engaged at the national level within contemporary Costa Rica; and how all of this plays out in contestation concerning dam construction within specific sites in the country, particularly the controversial Río Pacuare in the eastern highlands, where the merits of a major dam proposal have been questioned for more than two decades.


    http://www.review.upeace.org/index.cfm?opcion=0&ejemplar=20&entrada=106

  61. Dr JC – Good work. Re: “With regards to the perception (and damage statistics) that severe weather events seem more frequent and more severe over the past decade, there are several factors in play. The first is the increasing vulnerability and exposure associated with increasing concentration of wealth in coastal and other disaster-prone regions.” I have always believed but never been able to prove that (lack of research funds!) Seriously, I am sure natural events occurred in the coastal areas of the U.S. before developers began building houses in those areas. Also, before current construction techniques were prevalent, the natives built (and still build in many parts of the world) structures with material and techniques that adapted to the local weather conditions — what logic! Alas, the lack of research funds!!! Keep up the good work.

  62. Don’t forget Agenda 21

  63. This is all very true.
    And it is certainly not the only public issue where this kind of irrational hysteria rules the day. I fear that our blessed internet and its destruction of solid journalism has brought us straight back to reasoning on issues via mob mentality.

  64. From the article:

    Answer: The evolutionary emergence of modernism is what has produced the challenge of environmental degradation and climate change, and these problems can only be effectively ameliorated through further cultural evolution. In fact, there are many examples from history wherein
    small groups have made big differences. Further, the pace of cultural change depends

    on the urgency of problematic life conditions; as the effects of climate change become more acute and concern about the problem grows, the move toward meaningful solutions will accelerate. Given our analysis, there are real opportunities to have a small but significant and lasting impact on how Climate Change is represented and understood by important demographics. That can in turn speed up whatever natural societal processes emerge to address these issues. Thus, the evolutionary approach to the challenge is an approach worth trying, and an approach worth investing in.

    http://www.culturalevolution.org/docs/ICE-Climate-Plan.pdf

  65. Oblique scaremongoring.
    From the article:

    What seems unimaginable is the last idea Mann reports: fighting climate change with climate change. David Keith, a Harvard professor of public policy and applied physics, has written a “succinct, scary” book, “A Case for Climate Engineering,” that argues that we might halve global warming by spraying the atmosphere with “tiny, glittering droplets” of sulfuric acid. These would theoretically bounce the sunlight back into space, and reduce the global temperature. Ta-da!

    Mann calls this “planet-hacking,” and says the good news is it would be cheap. The bad news: It’s so cheap that “a single country could geo-engineer the whole planet by itself.” That’s a pretty frightening thought, as Mann warns, but “unless we find a way to talk about climate change, planes full of sulfuric acid will soon be on the runway.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-smart-look-at-the-climate-change-debate/2014/09/15/1aacd5c0-3906-11e4-8601-97ba88884ffd_story.html

  66. This is related to Joshua’s general perspective.
    From the article:

    Jack Handey has nothing on his deep thoughts.Photo: Satyakam Khadikar A few months ago,, in a post about the larger significance of the right’s climate denialism, I said this: “Here we are hip-deep in postmodernism and it came from the right, not the left academics they hate.” In a New York Times Magazine piece last weekend, Judith Warner argued something similar: that the right’s denialism is a dangerous extension of the left’s academic postmodernism of the ’80s and ’90s.

    Science journalist Chris Mooney disagrees. He argues that “climate change deniers do not look, behave, or sound postmodern in any meaningful sense of the term.”


    What is a “postmodernist”? One definition is simple: someone who subscribes to the academic theory of that name. There’s significant and important variation among postmodernists, of course, but in one way or another, they all argue that knowledge is socially constructed. Science, they say, is just another social practice or “discourse,” not a privileged way of accessing Reality. Postmodernism, at least in its Derridian form, is an extreme form of relativism, which says that truth (empirical, moral, or both) is not fixed, eternal, and objective, but inextricably culture-bound and subjective.

    Now, in that sense, no, obviously most climate skeptics are not postmodernists. Most people who haven’t been corrupted by academic philosophy or hallucinogenic drugs aren’t. Most are what philosophy snobs call “naive realists” — in fact, most people probably don’t think about empirical or metaphysical theories at all!

    But I don’t think that’s the whole story.

    Let’s distinguish between what I would call intellectual postmodernists and practicing postmodernists. The former believe that all knowledge is relative to culture; the latter behave as though all knowledge is relative to culture. Those manifest quite differently.

    The right — not just on climate but on matters ranging from evolution to Obama’s birth certificate — rejects, in practice, the notion that there are empirical standards or practices of inquiry that transcend ideology, tribe, or personality. That’s why they are so aggressive with charges of “bias.” What they mean by that is that mainstream scientific, academic, and media institutions, while falsely claiming to be objective or nonideological, are in fact of the liberal tribe.

    http://grist.org/climate-skeptics/2011-03-03-is-climate-denialism-postmodern/

  67. The peril of Mann.
    From the article:

    The world’s next great conflagration will occur because of the slow and steady warming of the climate, because of the concentration of greenhouse gases emitted by humans, argues a retired Navy rear admiral in a Friday editorial in Science magazine. David Titley, now director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk, finds a parallel between the choices elected officials face regarding climate change and the choices political leaders faced in 1914, as the First World War loomed.

    At the centennial of the war to end all wars, history offers a sobering lesson for those who deny human-caused global warming, Mr. Titley argues in his editorial, titled “Ghosts From the Past.” European leaders were similarly in denial, he writes; they refused to acknowledge imminent loss of life. He implores today’s leaders to imagine what catastrophe would mean.

    “I don’t see this is a partisan issue. It’s just physics,” he said. “The ice doesn’t vote. It doesn’t caucus. It doesn’t watch Fox or MSNBC. It just melts.”

    Michael Mann, a colleague at Penn State who is meteorology professor and director of the Earth System Science Center, came to Mr. Titley’s defense, calling the science of climate change true whether state leaders believe it or not. He said the editorial makes a compelling case that climate change is a veritable national security crisis, causing competition for diminishing food, water and land. He called warming a “threat multiplier,” pointing to water as a critical factor in the conflict in Syria.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2014/07/27/The-politics-of-the-climate-change-debate/stories/201407270151

  68. Tetragrammaton

    I think this excellent draft could be propped up with some interesting bulwarks, Dr. Curry. For example, it could be pointed out that the bogeyman of “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” provides grist for a number of different mills. First, it fills the needs of the media for scary and arresting stories about things which can be alleged to affect ordinary folk. Second, it provides do-gooders of many stripes with several specific ways in which they can be made to feel they are helping to “save the planet”, and billionaires with guilty consciences can be goaded into funding assorted movements and “studies”. Third, it fits in nicely with the needs of politicians to coax more taxes out of the pockets of people and corporations, and to set up a variety of slush funds. It meshes particularly well with the anti-industrial and crypto-Marxist instincts of the left-leaning chattering classes. No wonder it’s a “cascade”!

    I am more of a humble physicist than a wide-bore historian; nevertheless, I believe I can point to some historical parallels in the form of past “cascades” of the same general shape. For example, the “Temperance” movement, in several Western societies, between about 1840 and 1930, contained several of the same elements in about the same degree, as the current phantom climate stuff. It started as a “grassroots” religion-associated movement against public drunkenness in the UK (where gin was alleged to be the curse of the working class) and broadened into the establishment of Temperance meetings, Temperance hotels, tightened alcohol licensing, et al. This “cascade” moved to the U.S. and ultimately resulted in a constitutional amendment (prohibition) to be followed by a reversal of same. What collapsed the Temperance movement was not so much Al Capone and the disastrous results of Prohibition, but rather the real crisis of the First World War which had placed the (somewhat) exaggerated scare of alcoholism into a more sensible context.

    The Hundred Year War (1337-1453) also included some of the same “cascade” elements, and Gibbon was able to describe several Roman “cascade” periods.

    It may be pointed out that many of these parallel cascades took eighty years or more to progress. If a duration of this extent can be expected from the “Climate Change” meme, it suggests that we may look forward to several more decades before it plays out, particularly if Mother Nature or NASA are able to engineer a little more warming than they have managed for the past sixteen years. Many prior “cascade” events involved busy-work with international treaties, not to mention constitutional amendments. Perhaps we will move into such a phase in Paris later this year. Or perhaps not.

  69. it seems to heavily rely on grey literature (Cato report).

  70. Danny Thomas

    Several things were brought to mind. First was the age old analogy of whispering something in the ear of the first person in a circle and having them pass it on, then comparing the original whisper to what is said from the last person.
    Seeing “right wing” media spin as the harbinger of misinformation w/r/t asthma (headline): http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/8/obama-malias-asthma-attack-made-climate-change-per/
    Wired (so right wing): ” “I would never contradict the president, of course,” says Kaye. “I have a daughter and wife who at various times were diagnosed with asthma, but in public health you’re trying to look at the overall statistics.” In other words, climate change has increased overall asthma rates, but whether it’s responsible for Malia’s specific case is impossible to determine.”
    http://www.wired.com/2015/04/obama-said-global-warming-gave-daughter-asthma/
    From the “leave my kids out of it” :”So bringing Malia into the conversation”
    (Note headline) http://www.wired.com/2015/04/obama-said-global-warming-gave-daughter-asthma/
    Then: “Malia who has asthma, which he said, recently, is linked to air pollution.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-rushing/black-futures-must-involv_b_6772204.html?utm_hp_ref=black-voices&ir=Black+Voices&m=true
    Finally, those so worried about social inclusion, including: sexual orientation, race, religion, etc., yet whom is excluded w/r/t climate conversation?
    Until the conversation become truly inclusive of all sides, I fear no progress and further divide. Cascades emanating from the “bully pulpit” all around.

  71. From the article:

    And his story was one of the few that bothered to include a dissenting researcher. Seth Borenstein’s dispatch for the Associated Press also carried an important cautionary note from a Middle East expert. Both of these pieces, as well as others, had necessary qualifiers about drought’s placement in the hierarchy of causes responsible for Syria’s civil war. But there’s no doubt that climate change was the hook for all the stories. Thus, it would have been nice to see background context on the unsettled–and to some extent–controversial climate/conflict literature. Reporters, had they taken more time to delve into the topic, would have found no shortage of respected researchers taking issue with the PNAS study.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2015/03/04/narrow-media-coverage-study-linking-climate-change-syria-conflict-misses-fractious-debate-fields-scholarship/#.VSfySh-c1B0

  72. From the article:

    On Sunday, Post reporters Tom Hamburger, Joby Warrick and I reported that the conservative-leaning American Legislative Exchange Council is stressing that (in our words) it “does not deny climate change” and has been “overhauling their organization to be more transparent and more welcoming to divergent views.” The story also reports that the Southern Company, a major utility, will cease funding the climate “skeptic” scientist Willie Soon later this year.

    The apparent shift here is epitomized by a quotation in our story:

    “The science issue just isn’t as salient as it once was,” said Scott Segal, who represents energy interests at Bracewell & Giuliani. Debate over climate science was “all the rage” in the past, he said. “But today, the key issue is whether proposed regulations cost too much, weaken reliability or are illegal.”

    The Post’s Dana Milbank today writes that this means that climate change “skeptics” are “in retreat.” Indeed, it’s possible that we’re living through a moment that will later be remembered as a key marker in the decline of climate change doubt as a whole.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/04/07/what-will-happen-after-people-stop-ignoring-the-evidence-on-climate-change/

  73. I would suggest a reference to the fact that climate change was used as a cover-all for pre-existing concerns. That is, nothing that is advocated for because of the threat of climate change – alternative energy sources, centralization of government powers, increased taxation, population limits, etc. – is unique to climate change. All were pre-existing aims of the green left. Climate change was just a convenient heading under which to sell otherwise unpopular policies. Or if climate change didn’t exist, we could have expected it to be created in some other form.

  74. Personally, I believe there is an objective scientific truth. It has to be defined as the best understanding of nature at the current time. It can change, but it is still the best truth we have.
    From the article:

    As Warner herself recognizes, if postmodernism has any central theme (in relation to science) it is problematizing the idea that there is something called scientific “truth” that can be objectively discerned. The insights of “science studies” were thus deployed in order to show that scientists are quite subjective in how they do things, frequently engaging in personal battles and clinging to ideas that they should let go; that broader cultural and societal trends color allegedly objective scientific discoveries (is it a coincidence that the phrase “survival of the fittest” was coined at a time of ruthless capitalism and imperialism in the British empire?); that scientists sometimes ignore or sneer at local or indigenous forms of knowledge that actually offer key insights about the way the world works (as in the story of the Cumbrian sheep farmers following Chernobyl); and so forth.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/once-and-all-climate-denial-not-postmodern

  75. Re: Climate change availability cascade, 4/9/15:

    Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change.

    The introduction is good in that it makes clear that an availability cascade is a synonym for a movement. What is missing is that it is aided and abetted by climatologists who claim to be practicing science, but who are not, at least in the strict sense of Modern Science. Science is not about belief systems, much less belief formation. It has zero tolerance for the subjective; it is not about confidence, nor to any degree in accord with Nassim Taleb’s notion that Probability Has To Be Subjective (self-anointed scientist Taleb, recently lauded here in Is climate change a ‘ruin’ problem?, The Black Swan, Kindle location 6562/9287).

    Modern Science about Bayes modeling, but exclusively with objective probabilities. MS has specific means by which to make attributions. Those means involve hypothesis testing with objective – never subjective — probability distributions of data – never of feelings—, an art missing in IPCC Reports on the climatology problem of attributing climate events to human versus natural causes.

    What these Anthropogenic Global Warming climatologists are practicing has a name. It’s an alternative form of science, with roots in the ’30s, slowed by WWII, legitimized in academia, and one engaged in a hostile takeover of Modern Science. Previously, models needed predictive power. In the new realm, they need only political power, publish or perish and gather a consensus — what Popper called intersubjective scoring — and to dislodge money and power from legislatures. It is called by some, Post Modern Science (PMS).

    In Modern Science, triggering, sounding, or endorsing a public alarm without a theory (a model whose relevant, non-trivial predictions have been validated) is unethical. PMS can have no such compunctions because its models don’t actually have to work.

  76. From the article:

    Many archaeologists would argue that the potentially most meaningful contribution of archaeology to modern climate change debates lies in the study of the interrelationships between the impact of climate change and the adaptation by communities. In this respect,it is pertinent to remember that the Stern (2006:iv) review noted that ‘a radical change inthe physical geography of the world must have powerful implications for the human geography — where people live, and how they live their lives
    ’. It is in the understanding of the interrelationship between the physical and the human world that the evidence base of the IPCC is at its weakest. However, if there are any ‘lessons’ to be learned from archaeology,these are not about ‘if’ or ‘how’ particular human groups adapted to climate change events or developments at a specific place and time in the past; such an emphasis would fail to recognise the unique nature of modern climate change. Instead, these lessons should be about the pathways followed by communities in their adaptation to climate change,and the positive and negative feedbacks that ensued. Past examples would thus inform the construction of adaptive capacities in modern societies dealing with rapid climate change.

    Such pathways concern the interrelated environmental, socio-economical and cognitive aspects of living with climate change. They correspond to the ‘resilience’ perspective insocio-ecological systems analysis (Holling 1973). Originating from ecology, the concept of resilience recognises the long-standing interaction between people and their environment in a myriad ways. It emphasises ‘non-linear dynamics, thresholds, uncertainty and surprise,how periods of gradual change interplay with periods of rapid change and how such dynamics interact across temporal and spatial scales
    ’ (Folke2006:253). Social memory may fall shortas a concept or source of archaeological information in understanding climate change itself,but in the face of rapid climate change it can help to build the resilience of communities(Van der Leeuw 2000).
    1041

    http://www.academia.edu/3663250/Conceptualising_climate_change_archaeology

  77. Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ […] to support alarm about human-caused climate change.

    Assuming this is so, why? Why have politicians, activists, and journalists done this?

    Because slowly increasing temperatures don’t seem alarming, the ‘availability entrepreneurs’ push extreme weather events and public health impacts as being caused by human-caused climate change, more of which is in store if we don’t quickly act to cool the planet by reducing fossil fuel emissions.

    Apparently they (politicians, journalists, and activists) have done this in an attempt to motivate us to reduce fossil fuel emissions. Apparently they believe such emissions will be harmful and slowly increasing temperatures are not enough to motivate ‘us’ to quickly act. Are they wrong to do this? Are they right?

    A deconstruction of this availability cascade is needed to avoid bias in our thinking and to better understand the true risks of human caused climate change:

    Is the premise behind this statement that ‘we’ will make better decisions with a good understanding of the true risks?

    Is climate change making us stupid? I fear that the answer is ‘yes.’

    I don’t think climate change is making ‘us’ stupid. Perhaps the general populus isn’t stupid, perhaps they are largely disinterested. Barely over half the population can even be bothered to vote in presidential elections every four years. Perhaps owing to the current nature of our political system, every so many years voters generally have a binary choice between two candidates; an option ‘choose A or B’ to take one monolithic entangled position on many many disparate issues. Perhaps this contributes to a sense that a good understanding of the issues may be somewhat pointless. Perhaps, perhaps. Perhaps I can speculate all day.

    Regardless of this speculation, I think the question boils down to this. Should the general populus be manipulated by ‘availability cascades’ for a ‘good’ cause, or should they be educated with a good understanding of the true risks? Obviously this is a loaded question, but if we accept that the starting premise is true (politicians media et al have stimulated an AC to support alarm about human-caused climate change) is it not what the issue ultimately entails?

    • Danny Thomas

      “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts…and beer.” A. Lincoln

      • I’m not as optimistic as Abe, but I prefer the truth anyway. Sometimes over-exaggeration and threats are needed to mobilize people. In the short run people can be manipulated to make better choices. But they can also be manipulated to make worse choices. I fear we will lose something in the long term by demeaning truth. I’d rather we make mistakes because the population is insufficiently motivated by the honest truth, than be led by those who will ignore, distort and deny the truth in order to support objectives that may or may not prove to be noble.

      • Danny Thomas

        A,
        This is me to a tee:” I’d rather we make mistakes because the population is insufficiently motivated by the honest truth, than be led by those who will ignore, distort and deny the truth in order to support objectives that may or may not prove to be noble.”

    • Danny,

      Let me argue the side I don’t agree with and see how far I can get with it.

      What are leaders for, if not to motivate ‘us'(*1) to do things we wouldn’t do without them? Bring things to ‘our’ attention we’d otherwise miss, build support / coalitions to achieve results ‘we’ wouldn’t otherwise achieve?

      (*1) the scare quotes mean I’m referring to voters, I think.

      • Danny Thomas

        Mark Bofill,
        “Let me argue the side I don’t agree with and see how far I can get with it.”
        I’m to a certain extent a “loner” it this discussion. I don’t have a side, but they certainly exist. These cascades are part of the issue and are propagated by our so called leaders. But I guess not being much of a follower when looking around there are cascades in play from both sides. As one who perceives himself as open minded issues can be found all around and being in the middle this is not from where our leaders come. They come from the extremes. It’s more ask for a mile to gain an inch cascading from giving an inch and a mile being taken. So right now, our leaders are for………entrenchment. Sure there’s no assistance in this for that which you may seek, so posting with apologies.

      • Danny,

        Fair enough. Thank you. :)

  78. From the article:

    The greatest military power in history shields itself with an anti-missile
    defence system costing billions of dollars. Is it not also a bitter irony that this
    power should be struck to the heart of its security and self-confidence by an
    action that was utterly improbable according to every logic of risk, when
    suicide terrorists succeeded in turning commercial passenger aircraft into
    rockets, which destroyed symbols of American world power? The irony of risk here is that rationality, that is, the experience of the past, encourages
    anticipation of the wrong kind of risk, the one we believe we can calculate
    and control, whereas the disaster arises from what we do not know and cannot calculate. The bitter varieties of this risk irony are virtually endless; among them is the fact, that, in order to protect their populations from the danger of terrorism, states increasingly limit civil rights and liberties, with the result that in the end the open, free society may be abolished, but the terrorist threat is by no means averted. The dark irony here is that, while very general risk-induced doubts in the benevolence of the promises of governments to protect their citizens lead to criticisms of the inefficiency of scholarly and state authorities, critics are blind to the possibilities of erecting (or expanding) the authoritarian state on this very inefficiency

    Central, however, are not, as with Huntington, traditional religiously
    grounded ‘civilizations’, but opposing risk belief religions. We are dealing
    to adapt Huntington with the clash of risk cultures, risk religions. So, for
    example, the dominant risk belief and risk tendencies of Europe and the US
    government are drifting very far apart, because the risk religions contradict
    one another, Europeans and Americans live in different worlds. For Europeans risk belief issues like climate change, perhaps even the threats which global financial movements pose for individual countries, are much more important than the threat of terrorism. While, as far as the Americans are concerned, the Europeans are suffering from an environmental hysteria, many European see the Americans as struck by a terrorism hysteria. The reversal of the terms secularism and religiosity is also striking. It seems that religious cultures are marked by a ‘risk secularism’. Whoever believes in God is a risk atheist.

    Hurricane Katrina was a horrifying act of nature, but one which simultaneously, as a global media event, involuntarily and unexpectedly developed an enlightenment function which broke all resistance.
    What no social movement, no political party and certainly no sociological
    analysis, no matter how well grounded and brilliantly written (if such things
    existed!), would have been able to achieve happened within a few days: America and the world were confronted by the repressed other America, the largely 338 Economy and Societyracialized face of poverty. TV dislikes images of the poor, but they were omnipresent during the coverage of Katrina. Likewise the television pictures of the Tsunami disaster brought the first law of world risk society into every living room, which goes: catastrophic risk follows the poor. Global risks have two sides: the probability of possible catastrophes and social vulnerability through catastrophes. There is good reason to predict that climate change will cause devastation especially in the poor regions of the world, where population growth, poverty, the pollution of water and air, inequalities between classes and genders, AIDs epidemics and corrupt, authoritarian governments all overlap. It is also part of the ambivalence of risk, however, that in addition to the globalization of compassion measured by the unprecedented readiness to donate to the relief effort at the same time the Tsunami victims were categorized and discussed politically in national terms. Furthermore, the many other catastrophes, which were not at all or only briefly reported in the West, are indicative of the egoistic selectivity with which the West responds to the threats of world risk society.

    http://www.skidmore.edu/~rscarce/Soc-Th-Env/Env%20Theory%20PDFs/Beck–WorldRisk.pdf

  79. Read the draft, then all the comments, then the draft again. A few minor, then two major, suggestions.

    Better anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The
    climate changes (4 multiyear California droughts since 1960). Hypothesized future accelerating change caused by fossil fuel consumption leading to harmful AGW is the heart of the meme.
    Better information cascade than availability cascade.
    Qualify the ATS survey. 17% return could be biased ‘warm’. Self evident that air pollution (which is a respiratory problem) is NOT climate change per se despite the abstract. Shows confounding bias.

    Information cascades ‘cascade’ (snowball) because of self reinforcing or ‘positive feedback’ mechanisms. A paragraph on these would be important, possibly depending on the audience. One is grant funding (easier for studies seeking problems, than seeking not a problem. Another is ‘pal’ review and information gating, both in MSM (LA Times policy, “if it bleeds it leads” journalism) and journals (Nature Climate Change is self evident). Another is NGO fundraising (WWF and polar bears/pikas/penguins). Another is renewable industries lobbying created by the meme (subsidies to ethanol, wind, solar).

    Information cascades are also brittle. A paragraph summarizing fundamental failure of core meme predictions since 1992 might expose this brittleness. Temperature stasis for the entire 21st century. No increase in global ACE or in US tornados (more specific than just the SREX reference). No acceleration of sea level rise since 1979 (satellite era). Greening of the Sahel (CO2 and C3 plants). Polar bears thriving. More rather than less NH winter snow.

    • Thank you everyone for your comments, this is very helpful. I am modifying my essay in several ways, including the use of ‘informational cascade’

      • Bruce Stewart

        I did struggle a bit with “availability cascade”: despite flowing nicely from Kahneman’s “availability heuristic”, I found “availability cascade” confusing in this context because “availability” sounded to me like it might be about resources, as opposed to information or opinions. I prefer Kahneman’s “cognitive cascade” at the level of individual, or perhaps “informational cascade” at the level of public discourse.

      • ‘availability’ accents the luxury, the gas for the burgeoning ballon.
        ================

  80. “Availability cascade” just appears to be another term for group think, and describes its susceptibility to propaganda.

    Recent examples of such “cascades” generated by sophisticated and ubiquitous progressive propaganda, for purely political/electoral purposes:

    “Hands Up – Don’t Shoot” – the race hate mongering lie propagated by the Democrat party and its foot soldiers in the ‘civil rights movement’.

    “The war on women” by the GOP – The latest iteration of which is the slimy lies of gang rape fomented by that wing of the progressive Democrat PR operation otherwise known as Rolling Stone magazine.

    “Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes” – the now admitted lie from harry Reid, dutifully propagated by the progressive Democrat PR apparatus at the NYTimesWaPoNBCCNNABCCBSMSNBC.

    And don’t forget
    “Global warming is going to have catastrophic consequences, so we need to decarbonize the global energy economy” – The big lie of certainty regarding cause, effect, impacts and cost that is repeated by default conservatives everywhere, especially here.

    Cass Sunstein is a movement progressive, but all his paper does is take Alinsky’s rules for progressive propaganda and dress them up in the mind numbingly obtuse language that is academicese. Alinsky referred to “community organizers”, which is at least accurate and understandable. For Sunstein, the same people are “availability entrepreneurs.”

    If you want to take advantage of the ignorance of the average voter, read Alinsky, not Sunstein. He is much more direct, and articulate. But their motivation and goals are identical.

  81. David L. Hagen

    Pragmatic Politicians – Cascading – To COAL
    Japan and Germany both fear nuclear power (which has caused no casualties in recent years) to coal and climate. Consequently, we see a cascading consequence of public policy in shutting down (“clean”=no CO2) nuclear plants and building coal fired plants to replace them.

    As Japan promises the United Nations it will cut carbon dioxide emissions, the country simultaneously plans on building 43 coal-fired power projects to make up for shuttered nuclear power.

    Japan Defies Obama — Plans On Building 43 Coal Plants

    Jobs are a very high priority for politicians.</b Consequently coal power plants are being funded with climate finance because they are more efficient than previous coal plants.

    Japan designated $1bn in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, according to reporting by the Associated Press. Last week Japan counted another $630m in loans for coal plants in India and Bangladesh as climate finance.

    UN green climate fund can be spent on coal-fired power generation

  82. Dave Rutledge

    Hi Judy,

    I think you are on to something. One of the things that seems to happen when a government introduces policies focusing on reducing consumption of something that is supposed to be bad for us, supported by all the right people, of course, is that it can become more vulnerable to what Robert Heinlein called bad luck. In addition, all the right people have no trouble finding excuses for their poor policies.

    Californians like to boast about our policy holding down electricity use. However, along with that policy, we did not build as many power plants as we could have, particularly nuclear plants. This contributed to our painful electricity crisis in 2000 and 2001. Popularly it is blamed on Enron.

    There has been a long-standing emphasis on reducing water use in California. There are schedules for watering our yards, and severe restrictions on faucets and toilets. At the same time there has been little interest in building infrastructure that would let us use the half of the water in the state that simply flows to the ocean in the northern part of the state or to build desalination plants in the south. This has left us vulnerable in the current drought. But if you listen to the Governor Brown’s recent ABC interview, the problem is climate change.

    Dave

    • Hi Dave, agreed that california drought is a salient example

      • I do not claim to know much about California but it was obvious from reading the annual US weather reviews for the years around the 1880 to 1900 period that drought was a recurring problem.

        What also struck me was that the State 150 years ago had a population in the tens of thousands. It is now over 30 million. A state already prone to severe droughts with a few thousand inhabitants is surely likely to suffer even greater ones when the populations is tens of millions unless massive infrastructure has been put in place to capture the meagre water.

        Tonyb

      • John Smith (it's my real name)

        maybe we should rewatch ‘Chinatown’

      • Denizens, and others like DR at Caltech. one of my favorite statistics is from Blowing Smoke essay False Alarms.
        Since 1970, California’s population increased 87% to 37.3 million. Its water storage capacity increased 26% to 42 million acre feet. California has also has had (per NOAA) 4 multiyear droughts since 1960. So this whole drought thing is a self inflicted wound. Farmers established since 1850 with few votes will be sacrificed to golf courses with more votes, and Newport Beach lawns with bought votes. Predicted early 2012 in Gaia’s Limits
        Green suicide is not pretty, yet very instructive.

      • Liberal blame almost any problem that results from their failed policy on bankers.

    • My favorite line in a movie is from Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”:

      “The only cultural advantage that L.A. has over N.Y. is that you can make a right hand turn on a red light.”

  83. Dr. Curry — You might add a bit more to the asthma portion — using stats from Los Angeles (the best studied city vs. air pollution). I was born there and grew up there in the 50s and 60s — compare the air vs. asthma in the late 50s/early 60s with current stats. Air pollution ten (?) times worse, asthma 20% of current (or whatever). I have looked these numbers up before (but didn’t write the essay…), nonetheless, the data is there.

    There are studies in journals that show you are right on this, of course — real information tells the truth.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/04/09/smoking-global-warming-obama-asthma-column/25529419/

    http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749%2814%2901676-5/pdf

  84. This blog post by Dr. Curry is astute. Finally, someone has pointed out the deceptive word-smithing as an advocacy ploy: “Global Warming” interchangeable with “Climate Change” interchangeable with “Extreme Events” synonymous with Death & Destruction. Dr. Curry will be slimed for doing so.

  85. Judith Curry

    “…a recent survey [link] of the American Thoracic Society members found that 77% of the respondents observed an impact from climate change on increases in chronic disease severity from air pollution.’

    Just a word about the ATS. It is made up of many disciplines including surgeons, cardiologists, adult pulmonologists who care for patients with COPD, Cancer, and occupationally exposed lung disease, pediatric pulmonologists who care for a spectrum of children with cystic fibrosis, asthma, and graduates of the neonatal intensive care nursery who aren’t doing well, critical care specialists, sleep specialists, biochemists, geneticists, physiologists, as well as some people interested in allergy. According to the link provided, 6000 emails went out, 17% return rate representing @ 1000 opinions. 77% (780) agree that climate change is impacting their practice (13% for the whole lot of ATS members.)

    The Greeks, at least the Ancient Greeks had it right: asthma is not a single disorder, rather it is heterogeneous in expression and the Ancient Greeks called it: the Asthmas, as in plural, many identifiable distinct disorders. Origins for these various disorders, all lumped together as the Asthmas, were hypothesized as having various origins and hence, various treatments.

    There is nothing wrong with advocating for the identification/treatment for Asthma. Asthma is real, it kills, causes much suffering, is costly and is prevalent throughout the world.

    However, asthma is not caused by an imperceptibly changing climate. Asthma is not made worse by an imperceptibly warming world, rising sea levels, an additional 37 PPM of atmospheric CO2. Asthma and asthma attacks can be exacerbated by indoor and outdoor air pollution; by exercise; by allergens; by emotional upsets; etc. There are genetic predispositions with asthma. There is a growing body of information suggesting that fetal exposures to maternal stress and parental cigarette smoking contribute to the expression of asthma in young children.

    Now that the POTUS has a child with asthma, my guess is that there is some parental guilt for cigarette smoking, i.e., fetal/child exposure influencing his child’s asthma expression. Hmmmm.

    I guess things are worse than we thought.

    • I heard that her one time episode of bronchospasm was at a circus, most likely a response to an airborne irritant, perhaps exacerbated by the son et lumiere. Obama was a deceitful fool to use the episode to link asthma and climate change. Typical.

      Two more things we can blame on climate change, there is more bread and circuses.
      ===================

  86. “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

    And

    The presentation was carefully done, it included the estimated numbers and the uncertainty of each was given freely. The numbers survived, even thrived, the uncertainty was never spoken of again.

  87. Michael Major

    thank-you, your report is the first I’d heard of an “availability cascade” but I am aware of the phenomenon. I encourage you to look into the media and forest industry scapegoating of endemic pine beetles presumed driven to epidemic plague proportions by climate change as a convenient public distraction from vastly more culpable forest management which induced collapse of lodgepole pine even age monoculture in interior BC. The large engo’s, their US foundation funders and related PR firms formed an alliance with the forest industry and mainstream media to con the public that $20 billion in public silviculture investment disappeared not from avarice supported by duplicity and criminal incompetence but from an act of god who foolishly allowed pine beetles to achieve a monoculture obliterating vacuum in the process of restoring an industrially unattractive forest mosaic of mixed species, varied age classes, ecological resilience and bio-diversity. The evidence of beetle kill is real, but the complex impetus attributed to anthropogenic climate change is occam’s unnecessary. The usual suspects were convicted and the exploiters and their hench class of professional enablers are scot free! Cheers, Michael Major\\

    • Interesting that thing about BC monoculture and pine bark beetles. From my limited reading on the subject, bark beetles are attracted to dead and dying trees. Is there a connection to same age stands of trees and bark beetle infestations?

    • I live in an area (central Sierra Nevada – not monoculture) suffering from severe tree mortality due to bark beetle infestation. Century-old ponderosa pine, western cedar and other species are dying by the thousands. In British Columbia and Alberta bark beetles have killed many square miles of lodgepole and are now attacking jack pines. The epidemic is clearly associated with favorable conditions for annual multigenerational reproduction of beetles and drought/heat stressed trees.

      See Ips beetles in California Pines for some basic facts, and Pine Beetle Epidemic for a perspective on current conditions.

      • Pat,

        Thanks for the links. From the first one:

        “Drought is a reoccurring phenomenon in California that invariably leads to bark beetle outbreaks and tree mortality. There are both long-term and short-term actions that can be taken to protect your trees. These actions are not aimed specifically at Ips, but rather at any of the bark beetles that might attack and kill pine trees. Maintaining tree health is a basic objective and maintaining adequate spacing between trees is one of the most important means of achieving this. Many California forests are overstocked with trees – more trees are present than can be sustained through repeated episodes of drought. When bark beetles kill trees during drought, they help reduce tree density to a more sustainable level. This “natural thinning” by bark beetles, however, can be quite variable and unpredictable.”

      • The Nat. Geo. article says the pine beetle infestation is caused by AGW, then lays on a little guilt. If the pine beetle eats every pine in the forest then the non-pine trees will be left standing. What’s new? Furthermore, the blue wood can be sold as it is very beautiful.

  88. richardswarthout

    Tom Steyer has an article in the Huffington Post “Giving the Facts a Fighting Chance”.

    Hard to find any facts, but he does offer the following:
    “The science on climate change has long been settled, and scientists agree that we must take urgent, aggressive action.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-steyer/giving-the-facts-a-fighting-chance_b_7025730.html?ncid=edlinkushpmg00000090

    Richard

  89. Judith –

    If your paper is intended as a polemic, fine. If you hope to promote a more thoughtful dialogue, perhaps you should start with an introduction that states your premise that the changes that are now occurring (most evident, but not restricted to, the arctic, boreal and marine ecosystems) are due primarily to natural variability. Some other suggestions, intended to be constructive, follow.

    Avoid unsupportable generalizations, such as:

    This grand narrative misleads us to think that if we solve the problem of climate change, then these other [societal] problems would also be solved.

    The availability cascade that leads to belief that climate change is exacerbating chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma misleads us away from a deeper investigation of the true causes of public health problems and from addressing these problems in a more meaningful way.

    (The second statement sadly misrepresents current efforts to address public health problems.)

    Do not refer selectively to sources that support your view without acknowledging conflicting viewpoints:

    The Cato Report concluded that the health effects of climate change on the U.S. are negligible today, and are likely to remain so in the future.

    There is a substantial literature on the potential effects of climate change on health; the Cato report is hardly representative. One might start here, and explore the references therein.

    Further, heat waves in the U.S. have not been increasing…

    From your link: “Accompanying a general rise in the average temperature, most of North America is experiencing more unusually hot days and nights. The number of heat waves (extended periods of extremely hot weather) also has been increasing over the past fifty years…However, the heat waves of the 1930s remain the most severe in the U.S. historical record…”

    Please do not give a superficial gloss to a nuanced subject; that will only get you into arguments you don’t need. Likewise, your comment about decreased smog levels. Smog is a regional issue; for instance, there is good reason to believe that asthma rates in the Central Valley of California have been aggravated by higher temperatures (e.g., Outdoor air pollution and uncontrolled asthma in the San Joaquin Valley, California. Likewise, wildfire trends are regional, and have plausibly been affected by rising temperatures: Large wildfire trends…,; …western U.S. forest wildfire activity…

    Don’t use jargon that leaves the reader wondering exactly what you have in mind:

    …the ‘availability entrepreneurs’ push extreme weather events and public health impacts as being caused by human-caused climate change…

    Who are the ‘availability entrepreneurs’?

    …this is a draft of something I’m writing…

    Who is your intended audience? It’s not obvious.

    • thx pat, v. helpful comments

      • David Wojick

        I would say they are only helpful if you want to abandon your argument. Regarding the unfortunately large literature on potential health effects, it generally assumes warming in the 3-4 degree C range, making it mostly politically motivated (government funded) alarmist speculation. As such it need not be viewed as scientific.

      • johnfpittman

        Dr. Curry, I agree with David. Take Pat’s words to mind, not to heart. One could argue that the nuances are what you need to avoid. This paper reads that it belongs in the “myth making” category, as most journalism does. Also, “POTENTIAL effects” as a consideration is something that you should dictate as it relates your argument, as a means to avoid conflicting information. One problem, as you have noted, is that the consensus is a myth. The nuanced veiws of one climate scientist do not necessary show conformity with another’s veiw.

        As to smog being a local issue, all potential climate change is a local issue. As an example of why to avoid this type of writing, consider wildfires where it is plausible that increased temperatures has worsened them. Some forests benefit from wildfires http://forestry.about.com/cs/forestfire/a/prescribe_burn.htm. Nuance can lead you to more arguments not less.

    • Pat Cassen,

      From your link provided so that Judith Curry could get started on impacts of climate change on health. From your link: the Journal of Preventive Medicine:

      “It also should be recognized that anthropogenic emis-
      sions of air pollutants of direct health concern are, in many cases, associated with concurrent emission of pol- lutants that have important impacts on global climate (e.g., carbon dioxide, black carbon, sulfur dioxide, and others).”

      There we go again, CO2 is a pollutant AND has a negative impact upon health. As humans at sea level, we generally run around with 41,000 to 51,000 PPM CO2 in our blood every day. Of course, ambient air is 400 PPM atmospheric CO2. Submariners do function with an ambient air 30,000 PPM CO2. At ambient CO2 of 70,000 PPM, folks tend to become drowsy. At, 100,000 PPM, they drop dead, essentially, asphyxiated. BTW, some of this literature on ambient CO2 and human health has been known since the 1930s; U-boats and all that.

      This information can also be obtained from Center for Disease Control and Prevention as part of their job to monitor for health effects of real pollutants.

      I am unaware of any recent article describing health effects of climate change that hasn’t been polluted with the CO2 meme. If you are interested in health effects of specific pollutants, there is a vast literature to plow through.

  90. Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels.

    Can someone list all of these “societal problems” that people claim will be solved by stopping fossil fuel use? The only ones I can think of have to do with pollution and energy security.

    • Danny Thomas

      Joseph,
      It’s the cascade effect.
      GW leads to asthma and other health issues (http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/health.html)(http://www2.epa.gov/children/presidential-task-force-environmental-health-and-safety-risks-children)
      and because GW is “caused” by fossil fuel use stopping fossil fuel use will then obviously lead to improved health.

      • Danny Thomas

        The link you provided to EPA didn’t come through. “Sorry this page does not exist”

      • Danny Thomas

        RIHO08,
        Shoot. Appears they’re doing maintenance based on the banner at the top. It’s not the same page but try this: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/health.html#otherhealth
        Kinda messes up the chain though.

      • Danny Thomas

        Thank you. So, according to EPA, their own wild speculations are facts.

        In a hotter world…

        In a wetter world…

        In a drier world….

        In a stormy world…

        All predicated upon the assumptions, what if..?

        West Nile Virus came from climate change? It hopped a ride all right, just not on a Sahara sandstorm crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

        Lyme disease will move further north than North America where it is already endemic?

        Salmonella will be more prevalent? Maybe if more people purchase those organic free range barnyard chicken eggs and bring them home not having fully washed off the poop.

        These are the rantings of our government agents at work.

      • Danny Thomas

        Cascading all around (: something arranged or occurring in a series or in a succession of stages so that each stage derives from or acts upon the product of the preceding )

      • So people are claiming that we won’t asthma and other related health issues if we stop using fossil fuels. The key word that Dr. Curry used was solved. Of course the science says that climate change will have impacts, but I don’t think anyone is claiming that will “solve” anything

      • Danny Thomas

        Joseph,
        The entirety of what she said was:” This grand narrative misleads us to think that if we solve the problem of climate change, then {the implication is} these other problems would also be solved.”
        It might be better to have the word implied in there somewhere, else why have the gw/cc discussion in the first place. Pretty much all the “projections” are assertions or implications as they can’t be observable if they have not yet occurred.

      • Joseph, “Of course the science says that climate change will have impacts, …”

        Lots of different branches of science seem to “say” it will have impacts. I believe there are so many “projected” impacts that some are suffering from pre-traumatic stress syndrome just thinking about the possible impacts.

    • Well, there’s a list <a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2007/09/24/3462/the-top-100-effects-of-global-warming/"here. Not comprehensive, just 100 of them. Everything from ‘Genocide in Sudan’ to saying ‘Goodbye to French wine’. I didn’t see the ‘climate change will increase prostitution’ claim, but maybe in my quick scan I just missed it.
      I’d never really thought of the Center for American Progress as a right wing propaganda outlet.

      • course, they do mention we’d have to say goodbye to Bulgarian ‘working girls’. I don’t know on what side of the societal tally board to put that one, honestly.

      • Danny Thomas

        Hmmm. Didn’t see Pika.

      • I am not talking about the effects of climate change in the future and I didn’t see many prominent “societal problems” in that list.

      • Joseph,

        I am not talking about the effects of climate change in the future

        Many items on that list are purported to be past or present, for example:

        Say Goodbye to French Wines
        Wacky temperatures and rain cycles brought on by global warming are threatening something very important: Wine.

        Say Goodbye to Pinot Noir
        …Warmer temperatures are already damaging

        Say Goodbye to Christmas Trees
        The Pine Bark Beetle, which feeds on and kills pine trees, used to be held in control by cold winter temperatures. Now the species is thriving and killing off entire forests…

        Say Goodbye to Ski Competitions
        …Skiers are also hard-pressed now to find places for year-round training.

        Say Goodbye to Ski Vacations
        Slopes on the East Coast last year closed months ahead of time

        … and so on, and so on:

        Say Hello to Bulgarian Hooker Shortages
        Brothel owners in Bulgaria are blaming global warming for staff shortages. They claim their best girls are working in ski resorts because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures.

        Jellyfish Attack
        Ouch! At least 30,000 people were stung by jellyfish along the Mediterranean coast last year; some areas boasted more than 10 jellyfish per square foot of water. Thank global warming…

        Regarding the second part of your objection,

        I didn’t see many prominent “societal problems” in that list.

        What else are wine shortages, the loss of Christmas trees, the ruin of vacation and recreation, and the ruin of sporting events besides societal problems? And this completely disregards the sex industry issues, no less.

    • Another phrase use “a dominant cause of societal problems”. Who says this?

      • Joshua,

        But what is the larger issue? Is it that “realists” are prone to “cascading assumptions” about climate change? Or is it that humans are prone to cascading assumptions – “realists” and “skeptics” alike, and that holier-than-thou approaches to that issue only likely perpetuates the pattern?

        You know, this is something I wondered about. Not so much the question about whether or not ‘realists’ or humans in general are prone to cascading assumptions; I think it’s everyone who’s prone to it. But the idea of what to do about it. Is there something to be done about it, is there a better approach than the one Dr. Curry is taking? Assuming that we agree that something should be done about it in the first place, I guess.

        Your comments are interesting and much appreciated as usual Joshua. Thanks.

      • Thanks Mark –

        ==> “Assuming that we agree that something should be done about it in the first place, ”

        Yes, I agree that it is clearly a problematic tendency among humans, particularly in polarized contexts where people become heavily identified and locked into “positions.”

        The comments from Kahneman elsewhere on the thread are relevant, IMO.

        ==> “Your comments are interesting and much appreciated as usual Joshua.

        Thanks. Your comments are appreciated as well.

    • Allow me to reinforce something here:

      So Joseph quotes the part where Judith says (my bold added):

      Everything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do [to] prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels.

      And none of you see reason to take issue with this?

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        I’ll go with ya. With this preceding the quote:”Nevertheless, climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems. ”
        The word “almost” should be added before “Everything”.

      • Danny –

        Still waaaaay hyperbolic, IMO. And not likely to be productive. Looks more tribal than anything else, to me.

        This post touches on some significant, underlying issues, IMO.

        Burying those issues under a pile of hyperbole seems to me to likely to contribute nothing positive except sameolsemol – finger-pointing, zero sum labeling, etc.

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        The post is discussing the “climate change availability cascade” so why the quotation may indeed be hyperbolic, it comes across to me to be a useful tool when waged versus topics such as GW/CC having caused Malia’s asthma. In turn, isn’t Dr. Curry’s use of those words indicate the exactly the cascade effect to which the article refers?
        We’re not privy to the audience for which this effort is addressed. Much of the issue in the larger discussion of GW/CC is cascaded from the AGW or more so the CAGW side. After all, GW/CC is the cause of: asthma and other health issues, war, famine, deaths of millions of children, future SLR, habitat destruction, extinction, etc., etc.
        Interesting that you chose to focus on this tool of choice of Dr. Curry’s yet I can’t recall you having done so w/r/t these other issues. I stand by adding only the word almost as suggested above.

      • Hi Joshua,

        I’m not sure what you mean. Are you asking why I don’t take issue with what Dr. Curry said, or why I don’t take issue with Joseph quoting it?

        Presuming the former, in my view the use of the word everything is obviously an exaggeration, as is the use of the phrase there is only one thing we can do. But this didn’t seem to be what Joseph was talking about, so it didn’t occur to me to address this in my response to him. As to why I didn’t take the initiative to post on this exaggeration myself, I’m not sure. It didn’t seem to be the most interesting issue to me. I posted earlier with the questions that seemed more interesting to me, which relate more to the basic premise behind Dr. Curry’s argument, and taking as an assumption / given that the assertion (Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change.) was true for the sake of argument.

        Granted, I was being a little obnoxious to Joseph, emphasizing the prostitution thing. I have felt before that Joseph takes this question ‘where do you see any evidence of X’ to a somewhat unreasonable degree and no doubt this colored my response. Therefore, my apologies, Joseph.

        Regards Joshua.

      • I don’t take issue with it because I understand it isn’t to be taken literally. I myself have seen enough disparate problems, and some non-problems, blamed on “climate change” to understand what Dr. Curry means in this informal setting. You are simply a nit picker. Your observation does not impute Dr. Curry in any way. You clutter up the blog with these unproductive observations.

      • Good evening, Mark –

        ==> “I’m not sure what you mean. Are you asking why I don’t take issue with what Dr. Curry said,”

        Yeah. Which in a sense I guess is OK. You’re obviously not under any obligation to object to what Judith says (that’s my job!), but it struck me that people were responding to that quote without noting the (IMO) rather incredible hyperbole. IMO, that kind of hyperbole can only be counterproductive – encouraging to “skeptical” tribalists and prompting “realist” tribalists to be defensive and dismissive. As I said elsewhere, I think that the post does deal with meaningful issues that would be worthy of discussion generally and as they play out in the climate wars – I just think that hyperbolic approaches are sameolsameol.

        ==> Presuming the former, in my view the use of the word everything is obviously an exaggeration, as is the use of the phrase there is only one thing we can do. But this didn’t seem to be what Joseph was talking about, so it didn’t occur to me to address this in my response to him. ”

        I could be wrong, but my sense is that the bigger issue that Joseph was getting at is that Judith’s rhetoric was hyperbolic.

        ==> “I posted earlier with the questions that seemed more interesting to me, which relate more to the basic premise behind Dr. Curry’s argument, and taking as an assumption / given that the assertion (Politicians, activists and journalists have stimulated an ‘availability cascade’ [link] to support alarm about human-caused climate change.) was true for the sake of argument.”

        But what is the larger issue? Is it that “realists” are prone to “cascading assumptions” about climate change? Or is it that humans are prone to cascading assumptions – “realists” and “skeptics” alike, and that holier-than-thou approaches to that issue only likely perpetuates the pattern?

        ==> “Granted, I was being a little obnoxious to Joseph, emphasizing the prostitution thing. I have felt before that Joseph takes this question ‘where do you see any evidence of X’ to a somewhat unreasonable degree and no doubt this colored my response. Therefore, my apologies, Joseph.”

        I thought you ran with it a bit far with the 2nd post.

      • jim2 –

        ==> “You clutter up the blog with these unproductive observations.”

        And thank you for your non-cluttering contributions. Ad homs are always so valuable!!!!

      • Danny –

        ==> “The post is discussing the “climate change availability cascade” so why the quotation may indeed be hyperbolic, it comes across to me to be a useful tool when waged versus topics such as GW/CC having caused Malia’s asthma.” In turn, isn’t Dr. Curry’s use of those words indicate the exactly the cascade effect to which the article refers?”

        Not sure what you meant there, but it was interesting that Judith (without acknowledgement) took out the reference to Obama blaming his daughter’s asthma on climate change, as a “absurd example” – when it could be considered as an example of her engaging in an “availability cascade” and certainly serves as an example of how it is misleading to deal with the issues as if they only apply on one side of the climate wars

        ==> “We’re not privy to the audience for which this effort is addressed. ”

        Well, sure, that’s true.

        ==> “Much of the issue in the larger discussion of GW/CC is cascaded from the AGW or more so the CAGW side.”

        Hmmm I see posts and comments all throughout the “skept-o-sphere” that talk of “economic suicide” and a massive “hoax” and comparisons to Lysenko and Stalin and references to “warmunists,” blah, blah, blah. IMO, what would be more interesting and more valuable to look at the underlying issues related to “availability cascades” as they exist in a non-tribal framework and then, perhaps, carefully and with due skeptical diligence and application of a scientific approach to analysis determine whether this balance that you assert (based on purely anecdotal evidence gathering I assume?) is borne out.

        ==> “After all, GW/CC is the cause of: asthma”

        See. Right there, that is what I am talking about. That is a rhetorical application of “cause.” Does exacerbate mean “cause?” How many people argue that climate change “causes” asthma – as if other underlying factors aren’t the main causality? This is where the hyperbolic language that Judith uses seems to me to be counterproductive.

        ===> “and other health issues, war, famine, deaths of millions of children, future SLR, habitat destruction, extinction, etc., etc.”

        All worthwhile issues for a non-tribalisitc and non-hyperbolic approach, IMO.

        ==> “I stand by adding only the word almost as suggested above.

        And my perspective is that saying:

        Almost [e]verything that goes wrong then reinforces the conviction that that there is only one thing we can do [to] prevent societal problems – stop burning fossil fuels.

        is counterproductive hyperbole that only fans the flames of tribalism.
        Interesting that you chose to focus on this tool of choice of Dr. Curry’s yet I can’t recall you having done so w/r/t these other issues. I stand by adding only the word almost as suggested above.

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        I’m not aware how the “hoax”, Stalin, etc. comments have cascaded. I am aware how the interesting timing of refreshing the Malia’s asthma at the same time as a climate oriented health panel is announced by the one who asked “leave my kids out of this”. And then the media opened the valve and the trickle became a cascade.
        Economic suicide is a bit hyperbolic also, but equally as credible as GW/CC leading to say……….war. Economic damage as it relates to fossil fuels restriction is certainly feasible. If not, why would that argument still be in play?
        So, for me in the context of the absurdities often associated with the meme, I’m good with “almost” used as a tool to emphasize how climate change has become/lead to availability cascade.
        I wish the discussion came from the middle and worked towards both ends, but it doesn’t. It comes from the extremes. The tone is sent. I personally have tip toed in to attempts to modify it and have met resistance from both sides. AGW insist all comers move that way. No middle ground, no compromise. So I can understand why “availability cascades” are met by “resistance entrenchment”.

      • Danny –

        ==>I’m not aware how the “hoax”, Stalin, etc. comments have cascaded.”

        As far as I understand the term, they are, IMO, the manifestation of a cascading process. My point was that the phenomenon is rather pervasive across a variety of positions on a variety of issues.

        I seem to be repeating myself there, for whatever reason, so I think that we’ve reached the point of talking past each other. I’ll catch you on another thread..

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        The perception I have of cascading is not one of continuation of a theme, but instead it’s one of GW leads to (fill in the blank, but thinking asthma) so from the GW to and end point (snowball effect). I differentiate that from Hoax or Stalinism (your examples) being maintained in the discussion. This is why I stated it as was done. Hope this clarifies.

  91. Edward Roche

    Excellent commentary by J. Curry. You might add that EPA data shows significant declines in carbon monoxide, ozone, and particulates since 2000 or so. Malia Obama was born in 1998. So there is no good case that her asthma syptoms were exacerbated by climate change, since air quality nationwide and in the Central region containing Chicago has shown significant improvement in the key elements that may exacerbate asthma.
    A more likely hypothesis for her asthma problems would be second hand smoke. Information from the CDC shows strong scientific evidence that second hand smoke exacerbates asthma. And of course President Obama has been a cigarette smoker, only reported to quit in 2011. Second hand cigarette smoke contains levels of carbon monoxide and particulate matter that are known to trigger asthma symptoms.

  92. Pingback: You Ought to Have a Look: Curry on Worry | The Moral Liberal | The Moral Liberal

  93. Dr. Curry — latest research from NEJM ==

    This quote from Apr 9, 2015 — “Air pollution may cause more UK deaths than previously thought, say scientists” in the Guardian:

    “The effects on children are of increasing concern. The latest results from a two decade-long study in Los Angeles, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine last month provided some of the most convincing evidence yet of the effect of air pollution on the growth of children’s lungs. [ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1414123 ]

    The paper offered some good news. Levels of NO2 and PM2.5 have dropped by 40% in the urban areas where the children in the study live. James Gauderman, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) and his team, who have run the Children’s Health Study for two decades and who first identified a link between air pollution and impaired children’s lung function, report that as a result of the clean-up, today’s children can breathe more easily. In the original 1994-98 cohort of children, 8% had impaired lung function, which often leads in adulthood to respiratory disease and also heart disease. In the 2007-11 cohort, that had dropped to 3.6%.”

    ~~~~~
    from the linked study in NEJM: [ http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1414123 ]

    “Results

    Mortality rates were most strongly associated with cigarette smoking. After adjusting for smoking and other risk factors, we observed statistically significant and robust associations between air pollution and mortality. The adjusted mortality-rate ratio for the most polluted of the cities as compared with the least polluted was 1.26 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.08 to 1.47). Air pollution was positively associated with death from lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease but not with death from other causes considered together. Mortality was most strongly associated with air pollution with fine particulates, including sulfates.”

    The small epidemiological findings (MR 1.26 – 1.08 – 1.47) show that it is a hopeless data dredge — nonetheless — the same study shows that children’s impaired lung function had been reduced by half in the last dozen years — NOT increased.

  94. I’ve revised the essay, hopefully to increase (or at least retain) the ‘punch’ as well as reduce vulnerabilities to criticism.

  95. Political Junkie

    Edward Roche,

    Seeing that the President is constantly laying the ‘climate change’ guilt trip on the citizenry makes the ‘second hand smoke’ shot entirely appropriate!

  96. I would like to see some fairly reliable information on the political leanings of leaders of various organizations. Widely believed to be liberal (Democrat or worse) leaning, generally: the press, government agencies (Federal and State), academia, and the rich. The League of Women voters continually send me requests for support of Democrat-sponsored issues. And then there are the science societies – hard to judge if in that case it is politics or funding considerations primarily.

    I get the impression that leadership of many disparate institutions lean liberal.

    It would be nice to quantify that in some manner – a manner more reliable than the 97% effort.

  97. One more reference on the asthma topic:

    “Association of Improved Air Quality with Lung Development in Children”
    W. James Gauderman et al.

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1414123

    Figure 1: http://www.nejm.org/action/showImage?doi=10.1056%2FNEJMoa1414123&iid=f01

    shows improving air pollution situation in Southern California supporting their finding of subsequent improved lung development in children.

  98. David Wojick

    Poking around in the cascade literature I found this interesting paper on the tyranny of experts and stuff: https://law.uoregon.edu/org/olr/volumes/90/docs/Wilson.pdf. She points out that the availability cascade model suggests that people should not be listened to, which may be wrong.

  99. Pingback: Climate change availability cascade | 86dave's Blog

  100. Edward Roche

    CDC article:

    “Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has harmful effects on children’s
    respiratory health and has been linked to higher risk of middle ear infections,
    bronchitis and pneumonia, coughing and wheezing, worse lung function, and
    asthma development . Children with asthma whose parents smoke have
    more severe symptoms and more frequent exacerbations . National asthma
    guidelines recommend ETS exposure be minimized among persons with asthma .”

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db126.pdf

    Asthma incidence is on the rise in the US. The reason (according to FDA and CDC) is not determined. But the secondhand smoke hypothesis in this case is much better supported by the known science than anything having to do with climate change. A good reporter would have asked the President if he considered his smoking as a possible factor in worsening his daughter’s asthma.

    • A good reporter would have asked the President if he considered his smoking as a possible factor in worsening his daughter’s asthma.

      And when Obama claimed that the “allergy season lasts longer,” a good reporter might have asked “doesn’t that also mean the growing season is longer?”

      But Dr. Richard Besser isn’t a reporter, and those questions weren’t in the script.

    • I find that a bit strange, because childhood asthma was almost unheard if when I was young, and those days we were exposed to a lot of ETS – people smoked everywhere.

      • phatboy

        I am speculating here; when you were young, the definition of asthma was related to allergies. At that time there was the trouble defining asthma from a number of other conditions. Then the European and US definition of asthma came closer together about 2000. Still the European definition has a very heavy reliance upon allergies. Most global definitions came together around 2000 at a conference and subsequent series of committee agreements. I am presuming that you were born well before 2000, possibly in the 1940’s or early 1950’s.

        Asthma has achieved a bad name for itself and so there has been a reluctance for physicians to “label” a person with asthma. Such a label will keep someone out of the armed forces, raise their insurance rates or keep them from getting insurance altogether. There is a certain stigma about having asthma, including an emotional instability association, which has dogged asthmatics for a while.

        So while your great grandma didn’t have asthma, she died of a “chest condition”. Was it pneumonia, tuberculosis, heart attack, etc.? But NOT asthma or so your mother said. The stigma for the label of asthma still strikes some communities, tribes, cultural groups as a liability or family fault.

        Fortunately, asthma is observed the world over: @ 14% in children and @ 6% in adults, and, if you look hard enough, dad’s cigarette cough which can be treated with bronchodilators and his pulmonary function tests substantially improve. Hmmmm. Sounds like asthma to me. Its all in the nuance of labeling.

        One of the interesting recent findings from the Tucson AZ study, children with “pneumonia” in the first years of life go on to have poor lung function and more “respiratory problems.” Now, about 40 years ago, the adult group in Tucson group reported that in people with COPD, had histories of childhood respiratory illness before the age of 13, irrespective if they smoked cigarettes or not. Hmmm.

        Anywho, The Ancient Greek physicians observed that asthma was not a single disorder. Today, some researchers are rediscovering those truths.

      • I remember an ol’ fella who said that the treatment for cardiac asthma was ‘ouabain and the knife’, meaning phlebotomy.

        The climate may have changed, but they still work.
        =================

      • Asthma treatment has an interesting history. Chicken soup and herbs containing ephedrine back in the BC days, see a shrink in the early 20th century to anti-inflammatory drugs in the late 20th century. Chicken soup and herbs containing ephedrine, caffeine and/or capsicum still have a strong following for any COPD condition. I wonder what ever became of the psychosomatic school of scientific thought?

      • Capt’nDallas

        Ephedrine has a long history, like thousands of years of use in asthma. Caffeine, the Arabica bean, as in strong coffee, particularly as a quick treatment for asthmatic attacks, is rapidly converted in the body to theophylline, a late 1960’s and 70’s popular treatment. Cromolyn, from a flower that grows around the Mediterranean Sea and Nile River was used for asthma 3000 years before Christ. Chicken soup, an “old wives tale remedy” has a more recent Yiddish connection of which I am not terribly informed.

        Ephedrine disappeared from regular asthma treatment use when the Olympic Gold Medal was stripped from an Indiana swimmer and instead given to Mark Spitz who subsequently collected 8 Gold Medals in swimming. Ephedrine had been banned from Olympic competition and Marax which contained both ephedrine and theophylline had been prescribed to the swimmer.

        Theophylline had its heyday in the 1970’s and 1980’s until the cost to develop salbutamol persuaded pharmaceutical companies to lean on allergists to prescribe the selective Beta 2 agents to treat the Cyclic AMP receptor in supposed Beta 2 deficiency of asthma.

        Inhaled steroids, an expensive to develop inhaled formulation, have had their run as well with @ 1/3 asthmatic being steroid resistant. The awareness of steroid resistance in asthmatics has asthma treating physicians messing around with Magnesium Sulfate and a host of toxic agents including immune suppressing agents like Methyltrexate, surgeries, etc.

        Now to the psychosomatic story. Popular in the post Freudian days with Jung and therapists but nothing has been shown except recent epidemiological data on maternal stress influence on fetus and subsequent expression of infant and young childhood wheezing/asthma. The stress seems to be in the form of maternal depression; i.e., clinical depression.

        As to asthmatics who can at times SEEM to provoke an asthma attack in themselves through strong emotions including laughing (or is it only hyperventilating) this is probably an evolving story, definitive research yet to be seen in the tabloids like NYT, Wash Post.

        I am waiting for our President’s running account of his daughter’s precipitous respiratory experiences treated by withdrawing the child from stressful experiences; closet therapy.

        On the other hand, I have witnessed children in late elementary school basketball games run themselves to death because the child was wheezing only a little and their asthma was labeled and perceived by the parent as mild. Maybe our President will try to exercise his daughter out of her asthma. Won’t be the first time that has been tried.

      • RiH008, Chicken soup just seems to be good for about anything :) It supposedly has mild anti-inflammatory properties. Now we just need free-range chicken fed a high caffeine, ephedra and Cromolyn diet .

  101. There is a long history of people seeking psychological reasons for why other people disagree with us: projection, cognitive dissonance, Dunning-Krueger syndrome, political orientation, sex, traumatic experiences in childhood, race and class, religion, countless others. This reads to me like another one of those. I used to be a psychology major, before pursuing my PhD degree in statistics. I read Kahnemann (Attention and Effort) and Tversky (Foundations of Measurement, vol I) before they did their cognitive heuristics work, and I read much of that. Those may be pointless autobiographical notes, but they are a background. When I decided to take a more serious view of CO2 and climate I began to read much more of the science of CO2 and climate. I think that, in the long run, the policy issues will be decided by the full set of scientific knowledge, in the US and internationally, after much debate and experimentation with this and that at local levels. I think that speculations, even really well-informed speculations, about the motivations and psychological thought processes among the advocates of this or that belief or policy are irrelevant to the long-term outcomes of the debates.

    To do this well would require you to stop your work in physics and devote your time full-time to the study of human motivations and cognitive processes processes, as they play themselves out in the climate debate. There is honorable precedent: Thomas Kuhn gave up being a physicist in order to study the history of the development of quantum mechanics. The idea that you outlined could be turned into a good PhD thesis, if you could gain access to a lot of original documents, emails, and such, if you considered a long list of pros and cons, alternative explanations, and that sort of thing. As a short article, as presented here, I think it will disappear into the sea of gossip. Or worse, some one will tweet “JudyCurry’s Sour Grapes”, and you’ll be dragged into a long self-defense like Bre’r Rabbit versus the Tar Baby.

    If you are going to pursue this, please take the years necessary and do it well. I am sorry to be so mean, but you did ask.

    • “I think that, in the long run, the policy issues will be decided by the full set of scientific knowledge, in the US and internationally, after much debate and experimentation with this and that at local levels.”

      Matthew,

      Is there the time? I do not bring this up to suggest panic ‘the sky is falling,’ but to suggest that from a risk perspective time-frames are important. Time is an element in the problem that has yet to be better characterized. That potentially pushes us deeper into the realm of decision-making under major uncertainty. Further it seems to me that the current debate more than anything reflects still poor characterization.

      mwg

      • mwgrant: Is there the time?

        I don’t think a study of the psychosocial cognitive and decision making processes by IPCC is likely to speed up our arriving at a set of workable solutions. Also, I think that such studies (here I do emphasize the plural), which could make equally fascinating reading as histories of aspects of the development of quantum mechanics and biographies of the leading scientists, are likely to be much better done later on.

        If we are forced to act quickly, then we should immediately set to work expanding and enhancing flood control and irrigation systems. That is my opinion, and I seem to be unique or in a tiny minority. Whether the Earth warms 2C or cools 2C, or whatever, there will always be alternations of hot and cold, drought and flood.

      • Matthew,

        Perhaps I did not communicate some things clearly. Even if in the future we are forced by findings or circumstances to act while the science is incomplete then we still need to tackle a ‘rational’ structured decision process involving uncertainties. The earlier the decision process the more important the uncertainties and ignorance likely will be. This is precisely where the cognitive and decision science aspects have utility. Note that this has nothing to do with studying earlier IPCC machinations.* That is your idea, not mine–do paste me with that!

        A mantra of decision analysts is, “when faced with a (consequential) decision we immediate start to do what we know how to do and not what we need to do. I see that you have already started, specifying action without knowing what the problems are. :O) That re-enforces my point.

        ——-
        * At this stage I do not cede decision making to the IPCC–a ‘reporting’ body. I suspect it will be the governments.

        Regards,
        mwg

      • :O) Do NOT paste me with that.

      • mwgrant: Note that this has nothing to do with studying earlier IPCC machinations.* That is your idea, not mine–do [not] paste me with that

        This is where the history of the cascade began, in the header: The basis for this cascade originates from the 1992 UNFCCC treaty, to avoid dangerous human caused climate change through stabilization of CO2 emissions. Note, it was not until 1995 that the IPCC 2nd Assess Report identified a discernible human influence on global climate. So it looks to me like a focus of her proposed work. I can see some utility in a long-duration very thorough study, beginning, as I wrote, with a PhD dissertation; I think that it will take as long as the hashing out of all the scientific and engineering issues. Consider Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (1962): 50+ years on scholars still debate whether his descriptions of some of the episodes are reasonably accurate, and whether his insights have relevance to current problems and decisions. Everyone quotes or paraphrases Kuhn to show that “the other side” is giving in to irrational impulses. I can imagine reading really good treatises 20 years from now on “availability cascade”; and still the majority of influence in public policy debate will be to persuade people that “the other side” is giving in to cognitive fallacies.

      • Here it is very simple (again):

        Is there times?”….“Time is an element in the problem that has yet to be better characterized. That potentially pushes us deeper into the realm of decision-making under major uncertainty.”

        and

        “Even if in the future we are forced by findings or circumstances to act while the science is incomplete then we still need to tackle a ‘rational’ structured decision process involving uncertainties. The earlier the decision process the more important the uncertainties and ignorance likely will be. This is precisely where the cognitive and decision science aspects have utility. Note that this has nothing to do with studying earlier IPCC machinations…

        I am broadly writing to the need for using established techniques in decision science and that necessary includes cognition and behavior. No more, no less. I initially framed my comments this way because your original comment dismisses time as an element impacting the decision.* So my comment does not specifically have anything to do with IPCC, it does not have anything to do with cascades…it has to do with time, uncertainty, and methodologies. Also my focus is not how decision science and cognitive science play out in the climate debate; my focus is what tools are available and potentially useful to better move to resolution in a manner and time-frame that still has meaning.
        ———
        *Science will settle it. Well that may be or it may not be.

  102. Part of being stupid is failing to ask obvious questions. In this case, the implication is that life without fossil fuels would go on much as today, whereas the fact of the matter is that the total sustainable population of a world without fossil fuels might be as high as 100 million people, living brutal and short lives.

  103. Judith,

    The power of an anchor on numbers like ECS, TCR, etc. might make an interesting companion post to this one on the availability cascade. Once again, Kahneman is the deep vein of information to be mined.

  104. William McClenney

    In the paragraph beginning with:

    “A critical link in this cascade is the link between human-caused climate change ”

    you may wish to consider the addition of the signal to noise ratio problem associated with prognostications of human-induced extreme weather. This also entails appreciating when we are having this discussion; at the half precession cycle old Holocene interglacial. Extreme weather is the name of the game when seven of the past eight interglacials underwent glacial inception at their half precessional ages. The obvious problem inherent to this discussion is how is one to tell an anthropogenetic extreme weather event from a glacial inception climatic madhouse extreme weather event. Signal to noise ratio is completely ignored in the entire climate change discussion.

    refs:
    http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Paul_Hearty/publication/249518169_Rapid_sea-level_changes_at_the_close_of_the_last_interglacial_(substage_5e)_recorded_in_Bahamian_island_geology/links/0c96051c6e66749912000000.pdf

    http://eg.igras.ru/files/f.2010.04.14.12.53.54..5.pdf

    http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@sci/@eesc/documents/doc/uow045009.pdf
    ————————————————-
    In the paragraph beginning with:

    “Is climate change making us stupid?”

    there is simply too much to be said. The only “speedbump” that has been proposed to slow down/delay glacial inception is anthropogenic GHGs. If the Holocene is kaput and we are living today in the Anthropocene extension of the Holocene interglacial, just what climate state is left if we really do set about ending the Anthropocene? Well, that would be the cold glacial state, of course. Did some of us bump our heads?

    refs:
    http://www.personal.kent.edu/~jortiz/paleoceanography/broecker.pdf

    http://www.climate.unibe.ch/~born/share/papers/eemian_and_lgi/mueller_pross07.qsr.pdf

    In summary, while we are arguing over who owns the dog we are riding on, just who is paying attention to what might happen anyway? Things such as the climatic madhouse of glacial inception which seems to attend/plague every end post-MPT interglacial. Things which, apparently, we can do but only one thing about: establish a climate security blanket capable of delaying or defying glacial inception.

    The only question is what are we going to do over the next 4,000 years?

    “The onset of the LEAP occurred within less than two decades (see the core photograph in Fig. 4), demonstrating the existence of a sharp threshold, which must be near 416 W/m2, which is the 65N July insolation for 118 kyr BP (ref. 9). This value is only slightly below today’s value of 428 W/m2. Insolation will remain at this level slightly above the inception for the next 4,000 years before it then increases again.”

    http://seelos-translate.info/LEAP_Nature__Sirocko+Seelos.pdf

    “However, the June 21 insolation minimum at 65N during MIS 11 is only 489 W/m2, much less pronounced than the present minimum of 474 W/m2. In addition, current insolation values are not predicted to return to the high values of late MIS 11 for another 65 kyr. We propose that this effectively precludes a ‘double precession-cycle’ interglacial [e.g., Raymo, 1997] in the Holocene without human influence.”

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2004PA001071/full

    Sincerely,
    wfm

  105. Anchoring, from Wikipedia:

    “Anchoring, or focalism, is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. During decision making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments. Once an anchor is set, other judgments are made by adjusting away from that anchor, and there is a bias toward interpreting other information around the anchor. For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable even if they are still higher than what the car is really worth.”

  106. Judith: You say, “It was not until 1995 that the IPCC 2nd Assess Report identified a discernible human influence on global climate.”

    The machinations that produced this language in the 2AR final report is one key thing that turned me into a skeptic. The report turned in by the scientific team fundamentally said the opposite. They basically said that we don’t have a clue what is causing the change, and we don’t even have a clue when we’ll get a clue.

    All of this was thrown out and replaced with language that “identified a discernible human influence on global climate.”

    I’m traveling now, so not able to dig up all the links. You may want to start here:

    https://enthusiasmscepticismscience.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/madrid-1995-was-this-the-tipping-point-in-the-corruption-of-climate-science/

  107. OT, for PlanningEngineer. Stuff you already know with Tesla batteries thrown in.

    http://thebulletin.org/does-going-%E2%80%9C-grid%E2%80%9D-actually-help-climate8191

  108. Dan Pangburn

    Proof has been hiding in plain sight that change to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) does not cause climate change. Only existing data and the relation between physics and math are needed or used. The proof and identification of the two factors that do cause climate change are at http://agwunveiled.blogspot.com .

  109. It strikes me that the notion of an ‘availability cascade’ will not be a good vehicle for you here unless you can explain how and why this phenomenon is so active among the very scientists who should be in the best position to see clearly. In the description of Love Canal the scientists said that the danger was overblown but still fears would not dissipate. So the impotence of the scientific viewpoint was described as part of the problem. In the case of Alar, the villain with an agenda is asserted to be the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They are said to have originated the scare and kept it alive despite the contrary efforts of the EPA (the grown-up scientists). So it was the lack of paying attention to the scientists that let these things get out of control. But the climate change hysteria today doesn’t fit this pattern because it is the scientists themselves who are fanning the flames. When asked to justify their belief the general public just points to the ‘scientists.’

    Now, it seems to me that the same factors described, Informational Cascades and Reputational Cascades, also are at work in the scientific community. Too many people are just going along in order to protect their reputations and because it is easier/safer often to just adopt the opinion of someone else who seems to know what he is talking about. The non-climate scientists just follow along, as does the general public. The ‘mainstream’ climate specialists would be the ‘availability entrepreneurs.’ It was up to them to get the ball rolling, and then the ‘cascade’ would take over from there. But why have they assumed that role? What is their angle? That is the part missing from your piece. Here we have sober, deliberate scientists who, in the guise of scientific research are actually availability entrepreneurs.

    Consider the early 1960s. There was an availability cascade leading parents to have their children immunized against Polio, so not every availability cascade is mistaken. Why was that a good one and this is a bad one? It seems to me that ‘availability cascade’ describes the propagation of the belief but the problem here is the origin of the belief. You attempt to be the clear-headed scientist but you have not explained why you are clear-headed but the ‘mainstream’ scientists are not.

    Here are a few other comments:

    Climate change may exacerbate environmental problems that are caused by overpopulation, poorly planned land-use and over-exploitation of natural resources.

    Does it only make bad things worse or could it made good things bad?

    There is no trend in hurricanes or wild fires.

    Change of tense

    The first is the increasing vulnerability and exposure associated with increasing concentration of wealth in coastal and other disaster-prone regions.

    Inflation too, when comparing losses of the past.

    The Cato Report concluded that the health effects of climate change on the U.S. are negligible today, and are likely to remain so in the future.

    A source not associated with the right would be better received. Maybe reference whomever they used if it is a neutral source.

    the EPA’s analysis of the heat wave index for the U.S. [link] shows that the index during the 1930’s reached levels almost an order of magnitude greater than the recent decade.

    ‘ten times’ instead of order of magnitude?

    While asthma rates have been climbing, the cause cannot be global warming.

    You just finished talking about heat waves, not warming in general.

    • …so not every availability cascade is mistaken.

      Indeed, the selective reasoning takes hold. It’s like when people comb the history of science to show the exceptions that prove the rule where “consensus” was wrong.

      Let’s also consider what else is missing from the list, like the recent hysteria among right wing politicians (not to mention some of our much beloved “denizens”) during the U.S. Ebola scare.

      Or terrorism.

      • The bad effects on our tribe of terrorism is undeniable and obvious. Not so for damage from “climate change.” Josh continually conflates unconflatable issues. This tactic is a subtle form of lying that is difficult to counter. Countering it can mean hours of study to find the true difference between the issues or concepts being conflated.

      • Thanks for reading and responding, jim2. I’m glad to see that you haven’t lived up to your intentions to stop doing both. In fact, I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

      • Josh. I changed my mind. And?

      • ==> “And?”

        Just wanted to let you know how happy I am to find out that you’re a flip-flopper.

      • Oh noes! A flip-flopper. Oh, the pain … the pain.

  110. A weird idea to ponder.

    Many people seek a purpose for their lives. They need a grand cause or narrative to give meaning to existence. So attached to their cause do they become that it is like an addiction. A cause addict will strenuously resist anything that might endanger their cause or challenge their chosen narrative.

    So we see young people rushing off to join ISIS. Why? Because it is offers them jihad – a struggle – a purpose – a grand narrative – meaning for their meaningless lives. In the name of their cause they will do evil things. So strong is the addiction that they cannot question their actions because that might threaten their link to the cause.

    So also we see young people joining Greenpeace and other environmental movements. Why? Because it offers them a the fight to save the planet – a grand narrative – a struggle – a purpose – a cause – meaning for their meaningless lives. In the name of their cause they will do unethical things. Gleick is the great example. Scientists too can become addicted to this cause and are in a particular position to do great damage. The cause addicts among them really should be kept away from data just as doctors who become addicts need to be kept away from drugs. If not the data (and the drugs) may be abused.

    Communism used to be a great cause that young people found purpose in. The grand narrative in that case was the struggle to liberate the people from capitalist oppression. But that cause has largely lost its appeal and it is a waning force in the world.

    Religion offers purpose as well. The better religions channel the need for purpose and give it a harmless outlet. They are the methadone of cause addiction. Unfortunately the safest religions often satify the craving for a cause or a purpose less than more extreme and fanatical cults. Methadone has less appeal than harder drugs.

    The susceptibility to cause addiction may have an evolutionary purpose. Cause addiction is partly what allows young soldiers to throw themselves suicidally into battle and fight to the death. Societies where cause addiction is common may have an edge in battle.

  111. War is tribal. It exists to save your family, friends, and countrymen. Or to further and enhance their survival. There is some good in it.

  112. The availability cascade is a logical fallacy on a societal scale.

  113. Lewandowsky wins. Thank you for playing

  114. Robert Ayers

    Superb artice, Dr Curry. And I see that it is being linked-to and quoted :-)

  115. Dr. Curry said “While asthma rates have been climbing, the cause cannot be global warming.”

    A key claim such as this could use a reference.

    • A much better opinion might be. There is no proof that global warming increased asthma rates. I have not actually seen any proof that asthma “rates” have increased or decreased. I suspect the rates are not known well enough to determine if they have increased.

  116. Pingback: You Ought to Have a Look: Curry on Worry | Drawnlines Politics

  117. The cascade effect is in fact alive and well. It more or less started, or maybe just got legs, with hansens senate testimony. The liberal msm, smelling a good story complete with a convenient villain, evil oil companies and fossil fuels in general, saw an opportunity to increase revenue by helping to promote the oncoming doom lest we give up our evil ways. Of course, the green blob mob throws it’s substantial financial weight behind the meme, along with gollywood, pop culture, and a k-graduate indoctrination system that I suspect even our hostess helped along at one time. It continues to be the perfect liberal cause since everything can be blamed on it, and libs feel so good about themselves for saving the planet, while condemning those in developing nations to lives of continued poverty. This administration can still do a lot of damage in the next 2 years. In some way, I hope he has enough success for people to see just how damaging his policy wishes can be.

  118. Joseph | April 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm
    “The only ones I can think of have to do with pollution and energy security.”

    1) CO2 is pollution by Act of Congress. 2)The Clean Air Act (CAA) defines Greenhouse Gasses as pollutants. 3) CO2 is not excluded as a GHG pollutant in the CAA. 4) The Supreme Court gives the EPA clearance to regulate CO2 as a pollutant as defined by the CAA. The inclusion of CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas (by not excluding it) gave the EPA the legal authority to regulate CO2 as “pollutant” and therefore to regulate it, and thereby control “the Means of Production”.

    This, in hindsight, was a insightful piece of broken-field running. Why own “the Means of Production” if you can control it? That is surely Progressive.

    Shall we use a bit of guilt-by-association? Of course not. But there are some coincidences:
    Sloppy wording by the Congress on the Clean Air Act unlocked the door. The Supreme Court opened it for the EPA. The EPA exploited it to control the means of energy production (and everything that uses energy) under Carol Browner. Carol Browner had been a Commissioner for the Socialist Internationale.

  119. Sunstein, Cass, and Timur Kuran. “Availability Cascades and Risk Regulation.” Research. Social Science Research Network, October 7, 2007. http://www.law.uchicago.edu/files/files/364.pdf

    “An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing process of collective belief formation by which an expressed perception triggers a chain reaction that gives the perception of increasing plausibility through its rising availability in public discourse. The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives: Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. Availability entrepreneurs – activists who manipulate the content of public discourse – strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas. Their availability campaigns may yield social benefits, but sometimes they bring harm, which suggests a need for safeguards. Focusing on the role of mass pressures in the regulation of risks associated with production, consumption, and the environment, Professor Timur Kuran and Cass R. Sunstein analyze availability cascades and suggest reforms to alleviate their potential hazards. Their proposals include new governmental structures designed to give civil servants better insulation against mass demands for regulatory change and an easily accessible scientific database to reduce people’s dependence on popular (mis)perceptions.”

    • David Wojick

      Dixie, despite the 2007 date, this document is a reprint of the original 1999 article introducing the concept of availability cascades. While global warming is mentioned in passing several times, there is no analysis of its spread.

      • AHA! You are right! Thanks! I missed the link to the original, and thus it was not in my database. (Perhaps we can agree that Sunstein’s concept is durable.) 8-)

  120. Dr Judith Curry,

    Interesting paper. I fully agree that the (alleged) risks of climate change should be considered in the context of other (and dominating) non-climate stressors. Over here in the Netherlands, I’m trying to get this message across in the blogosphere and otherwise. I have also my own blog in Dutch language, but occasionally I post in (a sort of) English. See:

    http://www.water-climate.blogspot.nl/2014/05/land-subsidence-not-sea-level-rise.html

    http://www.water-climate.blogspot.nl/2014/04/ipccs-simplistic-view-on-risks-and.html

    Your framing as ‘availability cascade’ is very useful in the debate on climate risks. Looking forward to read the next version of your paper!

  121. David Wojick

    I am inclined to think that availability cascade (AC) is more of an analog than an explanation, especially because of scale differences. The climate debate is at least 30 years old and the environmental movement, of which it is part, is over 60. Moreover, there is a great deal available to all sides. So I think we are talking about something that is much bigger than and different from an AC.

    I simply call it a social movement for want of a better term, and to use a neutral term. That AC is pejorative also makes it problematic as an explanation. While I take a strong position in the debate I do not believe that my opponents are irrational, which is what AC suggests. When different people see the world in different ways none need be irrational.

  122. “As a result, we have created a political log-jam over this issue, with scientists caught in the cross-fire.”

    You are too indulgent, by far, with “scientists”.

    It was mainly the scientists that created and perpetrated this “availability cascade”, and continue to promote it. It was the scientific institutions (in academia and professional societies) who failed to keep up scientific standards and fully participated in the promotion and enhancement of this “cascade”.
    The scientists are the exact opposite of innocent souls caught in the “cross fire”.

    • David Wojick

      Agreed, Jacob, and this is important because the standard AC model is one where the public is not properly constrained by the scientists. Climate change is not like that, which suggests that it is not simply a case of AC.

  123. I have already removed ‘scientists in the cross-fire’, thinking of adding something about the role of scientists in this

    • David Wojick

      Sucked in might do it. Sucked in by a combination of their political/policy views and policy biased funding. This ties into your point that the UNFCCC treaty established climate control as national policy for a lot of countries.

      • David Wojick

        One of the major components of AC is the reputational cascade (RC) and funding is a big driver in scientific reputation. Note that in the RC people do not have to believe, they just have to keep their skepticism silent to avoid being called out for it. I am sure there is a lot of that going on in the climate science community. But there are also the advocates and availability entrepreneurs among the scientists.

        Has anyone built a computer model of AC? It might be fun to play with. I think there has been some modeling of informational cascades (IC), the other major component of AC, because these were originally derived from mathematical decision theory.

        Note that for “Informational cascade” Google Scholar gives about 1700 hits plus for “Information cascade” GS gives about 3000 hits, so considerable work has been done there. Much more specialized is “availability cascade” where GS lists just 188 hits and 119 for “reputational cascade” with probably a lot of overlap. But then for “Herd behavior” GS gives over 15,000 hits, so this might be another good place to look for a model.

      • David Wojick

        Correction: there is not a lot of overlap in the literature. GS says that only 18 of the articles using “reputational cascade” also use “availability cascade.” So RC has a scientific life of its own, as it should.

      • David Wojick @ April 11, 2015 at 11:36 am: “I think there has been some modeling of informational cascades (IC)”.
        Already done, and available for decades. The analog is called a “pinball machine”. Another example involves a cage over a floor covered with mousetraps loaded with ping-pong balls. Drop one ball in the center.
        Just kidding 8-)

  124. Dear Dr. Curry. If you haven’t seen this already, it is worth a read. It is on topic. The paper explains how the “Global Warming” meme spreads throughout the population. Below is the link on this page. The referenced link therein works, too.

    https://judithcurry.com/2015/04/09/climate-change-availability-cascade/#comment-692548

    • David Wojick

      Dixie, despite the 2007 date, this document is a reprint of the original 1999 article introducing the concept of availability cascades, which Dr. Curry linked to. While global warming is mentioned in passing several times, there is no analysis of the spread of the scare.

    • Dear Dr. Curry. Per exchange with David, you obviously have seen it. Sorry. Haste made waste.

  125. As mentioned in the post, it was 1995 that the IPCC recognized a discernible human influence on climate. Here we are 20 years later, and there is still a rearguard of skeptics debating whether there are visible effects. The IPCC reports are relevant to the future of climate change. We have had a small fraction, a taster, of the potential climate change that we will have in 2100, and the question is, do we want the rest or do we want to do something to reduce that? The article, of course, does not want to consider the future and the important role of fossil fuels in determining it, and therefore misses the thrust of the current climate policy debate. The public know what the debate is about, but these articles just miss their concerns, and only play to the skeptical base.

    • David Wojick

      I do not think it is a rearguard, more like a large majority. Unless by visible effects you mean UHI, which is generally accepted.

      • Majority of whom? Not the public. They see climate change all around. Melting glaciers, sea ice, warming, etc., and they have a pretty good idea why it is happening.

      • Jim D, there has always been and will always be “melting glaciers, sea ice, warming, etc.”… it’s called climate and it changes constantly. Please tell which of these – for example, the increase in ice in Antarctica – is tied to the human influence.

      • ksd, some people are resting all their hopes on a 2-year Antarctic anomaly. This is not part of climate change, although some say it is due to increased freshwater melting off the Antarctic, which is easier to freeze, so we should keep an eye on it in that context.

      • David Wojick

        Jim D: I meant a large majority of skeptics, thinking your “rearguard of skeptics” meant a rearguard within the skeptics. Among the public it looks like roughly half who have an opinion are skeptics, so still not a rearguard, but not a majority either. Warmers see visible evidence of human influence but skeptics do not so the public is roughly evenly divided.

      • Maybe because they are falling so far behind everyone else (20 years) it looks like a retreat. If you get up in a public forum (not Tea Party) and say that you still see no discernible evidence of human-caused global climate change, you might be viewed as a bit wacky.

      • I didn’t know it was a popularity contest

      • Jim D is down with the nematodes and mistakes it for a duet with Barbra singing “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever”.

      • David Wojick

        Well Jim D, I think you have no idea how widespread skepticism is. Here is a tool you can play with: http://insideclimatenews.org/carbon-copy/06042015/climate-change-beliefs-parsed-local-level-paint-valuable-portrait?utm_source=Inside+Climate+News&utm_campaign=c13b9edcfd-Weekly_Newsletter_4_12_20154_10_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_29c928ffb5-c13b9edcfd-327531733

        According to this green news site 37% of Americans do not even believe that climate is changing, so the issue of attribution does not even arise. Only a minority think humans are the primary cause of global warming. These numbers are actually very crude, because poor questions are asked, but it seems clear that the public is split roughly equally between warming and skepticism.

        Phatboy: public policy is indeed a popularity contest and skeptics are doing pretty well. We have both houses of Congress.

      • There are seven billion constitutents. They are voting in Paris. We are assured that they are all registered and fully informed.
        =====================

    • As mentioned in the post, it was 1995 that the IPCC recognized a discernible human influence on climate. Here we are 20 years later, and there is still a rearguard of skeptics debating whether there are visible effects.

      Perhaps because there is a temperature rise, it’s just not that significant.

      • David Wojick

        TE: the temperature rise, to the extent there has even been one, is not known to be a visible effect of human influence. Whether it is or not is the core of the ongoing debate between warmers and skeptics. So I do not understand your comment.

    • David Wojick

      Skeptics are not retreating so there can be no rearguard.

    • “Do something to reduce that?” The past 20 years have witnessed less warming than the theoretical zero emission course then considered possible, and as our understanding of the climate system increases, we find it less and less likely we need any onerous goverment intervention at all to meet the goals the IPCC set forth. All this while emissions have grown faster than their worst case scenario!

      Indeed, the rearguard analogy fits best with the hardline Warmists still clinging to falsified models and their projections that bear no resemblance to the 20 years of data we’ve since acquired. Still using them to advocate liberal wish list policies that weren’t invented to address GW in the first place, and don’t fit the issue now. The “consensus” has been forced into retreat for years now. Time for the politicians and the few remaining true believers to pay attention and catch up.

  126. russellseitz

    In consequence of the assymetical correlation of scientific forces in the Climate Wars , the Availability Cascade has set off a counterpropaganda campaign instead of a debate.

    For over a decade, energy PR men with no understanding of climate science, let alone climate models or the politics of science have been throwing anything and everything that comes to hand in the general direction of the media. Deploying so many factoids to so little effect has made them a scientific laughingstock , and endangered what scant reputation for intellectual seriousness Republican statesmen have retained.

    These antics pale in comparison to the integrated efforts , both scientific and semiotic of their scientifically wel seconded political opponents, who can and do draw on the parallel political asymetry of the popularization of science in postmodern America.

  127. What’s the purpose of this paper and the audience? If it is inform another angle to those who already agree, it’s great. But I don’t see it changing any minds.

    “Is climate change making us stupid? I fear that the answer is ‘yes.’”

    Here are two different interpretations I could make from this:

    “The idiots are doing really stupid things.” You get that from the “I fear” sentence, since your essay makes it pretty clear what you actually think. You don’t fear it, you know it, and you have good reason to know it, and you can see the negative consequences of it. I think this is the interpretation many will have, and some will be put off by the weaselly way you say it. Others will think it’s really fun the way you put it, but I don’t see how you change any minds, but merely help divide further.

    “I’m worried we are making stupid decisions, but I’m not quite sure.” This interpretation weakens your overall essay.

    The third interpretation is that you wrote stupid, didn’t feel comfortable writing it, and so tried to ameliorate your statement with the “I fear” sentence. In this interpretation, you should simply get rid of the approach as it is unworthy of you and gratuitous, the way some movies throw in sex scenes an cheapen an otherwise great movie.

    Why not say what you mean. “The obsessive attribution of unrelated maladies to Climate change, is having blah blah effects.” It doesn’t connote a personal judgement, strengthens your position to those you might be convincing, and leaves you without feeling guilty if the third interpretation is correct.

    And, by the way, if “Stupid” is meant to mean those politicians using Global Warming as a tool to gain greater control over people, well, I’m not so sure it’s stupid from their position at all. It’s rather smart, in fact, and quite evil.

  128. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #176 | Watts Up With That?

  129. I fear that if one of my students submitted this as an assignment, it would get a huge amount of red ink before I even passed the first few paragraphs. The opening makes multiple (overstated?) assertions as if they are fact without supporting evidence. I accept this may be the author’s opinion, but the assertions should then be presented as such, else evidence provided. For example: “… climate change has become a grand narrative in which human-caused climate change has become a dominant cause of societal problems”. Within some (small) circles of debate this may be true (or is this pointing to the aberrant expression of the minority climate change debate in the USA?), but taken in the context of the global dialogue, I suggest that this assertion (and others) would be hard to substantiate. As a consequence, the strength of anything that follows falls into a significant credibility gap.

  130. Dr. Curry, If there is concise, less than 1,000 page edition of this paper, I think I can get it into the local (AGW leaning) paper. Prints over 50,000 and has an online version.

  131. This is nothing more than more obfuscation. More of the carnival barker throwing out redmeat to the deniers to keep their eye off the well-established science. Keep the shell game moving.

    As a physicist and a member of APS I was totally appalled to see Curry and Lindzen on the Climate Change Statement Panel.

    The only thing making the public stupider is the never ending denialism paid for by the fossil fuel industry and propagated by the likes of Faux Newsfotainment.

  132. patmcguinness

    Apologies for this overly long comment. I read much of the USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment and found a many dubious if not
    erroneous conclusions and ‘findings’. It’s GIGO science at its worst.
    Here’s my attempt at looking at just one of them:

    ” Future climate warming could lead to thousands to tens of thousands of
    additional deaths each year from heat in the summer, as calculated by
    extrapolating statistical relationships and without considering potential
    adaptive changes”

    Summary of how they got to this finding: They use CMIP models which, if
    not outright flawed, have not proved their validity in estimated temperature
    levels in the 2030 to 2070 timeframe, are used as the basis for extrapolations that assert the creation of more and more 3-sigma ‘extreme events’ of hot weather; this is despite the statistical contradiction and weak support for predicting significant increases in outlier events based on mean increases; then, based on statistical correlations between mortality and extreme heat events (ie heat waves), temperature warming trends
    are conjured into an enlargement of the risks from heat events; risks increase significantly only by ignoring obvious adjustments and mitigations any reasonable community or person would make to adapt to warmer weather.

    How many deaths per year from heat have we measured in the past?
    CDC 6,615 heat related deaths from 1979-1996:
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00053616.htm

    During 1979-1995, a total of 6615 deaths in the United States were attributed to excessive heat exposure; of these, 2792 (42%) were “due to weather conditions”; 327 (5%) were “of man-made origin”; and 3496 (53%) were “of unspecified origin.” So 160 deaths per year where heat was the direct cause.

    Davis, Knappenberger et al found that heat-related mortality has been declining significantly, by a factor of 4 from the 1960s to 1990s:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1241712/
    “Heat-related mortality rates declined significantly over time in 19
    of the 28 cities. For the 28-city average, there were 41.0 +/- 4.8
    (mean +/- SE) excess heat-related deaths per year (per standard million)
    in the 1960s and 1970s, 17.3 +/- 2.7 in the 1980s, and 10.5 +/- 2.0 in
    the 1990s. In the 1960s and 1970s, almost all study cities exhibited
    mortality significantly above normal on days with high apparent
    temperatures. During the 1980s, many cities, particularly those
    in the typically hot and humid southern United States, experienced
    no excess mortality. In the 1990s, this effect spread northward
    across interior cities. ”

    When it comes to total weather-related mortality, winter cold kills more than
    twice as many Americans as does summer heat.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/07/30/weather-death-statistics-cold-heat/13323173/

    The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), in the CDC reported:
    Based on death certificate data from 2006-10, the report’s authors found
    that “about 2,000 U.S. residents died each year from weather-related causes of death.” The CDC report found that 63% of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold, hypothermia or both, while about 31% of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural heat, heat stroke, sun stroke or all.

    So this data tells us a few things:
    – More deaths from cold than heat, by two to one ratio.
    – Total deaths from heat in the several hundreds per year (about 400 per year)
    – A trend of declining mortality, at least during 1960s to 1990s,
    likely due to technology adaptation such as air conditioning

    Analyzing heat-related mortality based on the above information,
    one would conclude that moderate warming would likely result in fewer net deaths, and that the trend of technology adaptation plus warming will make
    the already small issue of weather related deaths even smaller.
    This is in particular the case when the warming is more pronounced
    by warming winter nights. Of course 400-600 heat-related deaths is a
    concern, but relative to diabetes at 75,000 a year, cancer at 584,000 or
    suicide at 41,000, etc. it is relatively small.

    So how did the authors get to ‘tens of thousands’ of excess deaths?
    They use a ‘statistical’ approach is to ignore cause of death and look
    instead at excess numbers of deaths correlated chronologically with ‘extreme weather’.

    They show for example the Cook County (Chicago) records in 1995,
    (Chapter 2, Figure 2, page 83), showing deaths in July 1995 during a heat
    wave. Since 700 reported deaths were statistically ‘excess’ versus about
    400 deaths reported as ‘heat-related’ on death certificate, they justify
    that this is better and that focussing on death certificate causes
    understates the actual mortality impact. In some cases, this may be valid; a heart condition could be worsened by heat exhaustion for example. However, this approach is fraught with ‘correlation without a cause’ error; it’s unclear how or if the heat caused this mortality, or whether some indirect correlation, eg if EMS services burdened by an extreme event being less available was a cause.

    The analysis that extrapoles this statistical correlation of ‘more deaths
    during extreme events’ into a future where we are hit with more frequent
    extreme events; the analysis suffers from two main errors:

    1. Error one is that is we raise the mean, we do not necessarily raise
    the number of outlier events. How many days will be ‘3-sigma’ 99.7
    percentile events? Trick question; if ‘extreme events’ become more
    common, they will stop being ‘extreme’, thus invalidating the statistical
    correlation obtained. Notably, its not warmth that studies showed
    caused higher mortality but “much hotter than average” weather.
    Warmer US cities do not have much higher mortality rates from heat
    exposure, nor do they have higher mortality rates in general.
    If warmth killed the elderly, they wouldn’t move to Florida.
    Throughout the report, there are many attributions of harm to more
    ‘extreme events’ with the supposition and claim that extreme events
    are more likely as a result of AGW. However, there is not a strong
    validation that raising the mean will also raise the number of
    “much warmer than average” outlier heat waves. The claims are made
    without strong validation.

    2. The other error is the failure to account for adaptation in
    addressing heat-related events.
    For example, Paris last decade suffered from a heat wave that killed
    thousands; the heat was no worse than Dallas Texas has yearly, in fact
    milder, but Paris is not adapted to the heat. Thousands of Parisians died
    because they lacked technology adaptation, ie, air conditioning,
    and personal adaptation, in a heat wave that would rate a mild spell
    for the city of Dallas.
    The report on page 85 references Schwartz, using GFDL-CM3 climate models, to project 10,000 excess deaths by 2100, more deaths on net than
    die today from the heat, and note: “without any quantitative adjustment for potential future adaptation”. Buy why is such an assumption credible basis for estimation?

    This is related to the first point, because in fact, the reason why these
    ‘extreme events’ kill is simple – communities don’t expect them and so are not ready for them. Buffalo is more ready for 3 feet of snow than Atlanta, and Dallas can handle 100 degree days better than Portland Maine (or Portland Oregon). The entire analysis relies on not having any adjustment for adaptation,
    and for assuming there are going to be a lot more 3-sigma events in the future. This is a bit like Lake Wobegon, ‘where everyone is above average’, except here, normal weather gets to be called ‘extreme’.

    It defies credulity to assume that in the face of risks of extreme heat
    and increase in mean temperatures, and people will die rather than take
    reasonable precautions like find an air-conditioned place to stay cool.

    The chapter 2 references this paper:
    Schwartz, J. D., M. Lee, P.L. Kinney, S. Yang, D. Mills, M. Sarofim,
    R. Jones, R. Streeter, A. St., Juliana, J. Peers, and R. M. Horton,
    2014: Projections of future temperature-attributable deaths in 209 U.S. cities using a cluster-based Poisson approach. Environmental Health, submitted.

    Joel Schwartz of Harvard, lead author on the paper, is a contributing author
    on the chapter, and Kinney, Mills and St Juliana also share authorship on
    the submitted paper and chapter.

    So, to summarize, Chapter 2 has the counterintuitive and counterfactual
    conclusion that more warmth overall will lead to a large increase in
    excess deaths; this is stated even though:
    1. More specific evidence-based measurements of heat-related deaths suggest a much lower mortality impact from heat (several hundreds annually).
    2.Cold kills twice as many people directly in USA than heat (CDC data).
    3. Hotter southern cities do not have higher mortality than colder ones; adaptation influences impact.
    4. Climate models (CMIP/RCP6.5 and RCP8.5) that include dubious ramped-up temperature extrapolations are used to construct outcome estimates that largely overstate current trends and are likely to overstate future ones as well. Moderate temperature increase estimates would lead to insignificant impacts in the next 50 years.
    5. As with most of the ‘harms’ around climate change in this document,
    it centers on the claim that more extreme weather events will take place.
    Those claims are not strongly justified, but conclusions based on such
    assumptions are stated with “High Confidence”. It should be rated
    “low confidence”, as connections between warming and more extreme
    weather events is weak at best.

    There are dozens of findings like the above in USGCRP document, and most of them are similar in nature. Example – in the area of food security, it’s claimed spoilage of food will increase from climate change because people will be too stupid to refrigerate or keep cool food products. Weak, statistical correlations, sexed up models and failure to contemplate obvious mitigations lead us to GIGO findings.

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