Ethics of climate expertise

by Judith Curry

If deference to the authoritative opinions of experts is essential to our rationality and knowledge, and if that deference unavoidably rests on trust, not only in the competence, but also in the epistemic and ethical characters of our experts–then it is high time that we get to work on the ethics of expertise. Indeed, it is past time. – John Hardwig

Context

The sociology and politics of ‘expertise’ have been the topic of numerous CE posts:

Just reading the titles give you a sense of what the main issues are in the climate domain.  What is largely missing in these previous posts is a focus on the ethics of expertise.

The basis for this post is a 1994 essay by John Hardwig: Ethics of Expertise.   The overall framework is described in this paragraph:

An ethics for experts must be an ethics that acknowledges that where there is expertise, knowledge is not in fact open and accessible to all; an ethics that recognizes that the expert’s reasons cannot be checked by the layperson and often will not even be intelligible to him. It must be an ethics sensitive to a kind of power in knowing, a power unlike that of any of our epistemic peers, whose opinions we can usually test for ourselves. It must also, then, be an ethics sensitive to the very basic vulnerability that comes with deciding to let others make up our minds, for that kind of reliance on others undermines even the internal independence necessary to decide not to accept what the other says.

So, to what extent do climate scientists who are visible in the public debate as experts,  follow this ethics of expertise? And the institutions supporting the experts? And those appealing to experts?  Here I summarize Hardwig’s Maxims, with some commentary about how each one relates to the challenges related climate science expertise.

Maxims for the Expert:

1.  Admit when you don’t know, when you’re guessing, and when your opinion is only a reasonable estimate. Don’t overestimate the scope or certainty of your knowledge, or the inferences that can be validly drawn from it. Refuse to give opinions when you are being asked for opinions that are beyond the range of your expertise. Distinguish cases where no one knows from those where you don’t know and make proper referrals in the latter cases. Also, loyalty to the community of experts is often combined with a sense that you are letting the community down if you admit the limits of the community’s knowledge. But it is an ethical vice to pretend to know more than you do; it is an epistemic vice to believe that you know more than you do.

JC comment: This is pretty much the point I have been trying to make with my Uncertainty Monster arguments. The concern about of ‘letting the community down’, and the backlash, is illustrated by the Scientific American article Climate Heretic Judith Curry Turns on her Colleagues.

2. Tell the truth as you see it in your professional judgment, but don’t give the impression that you speak for the community of experts when you do not. When the community of expert opinion is divided, there is an obligation to say that it is. When your opinion is a minority view within the community of experts, you should make that clear.

JC comment. For climate scientists who hold minority opinions (it doesn’t take much to be shunted in this category; minor disagreement with ‘consensus’ statements or stating that uncertainty might be greater), it is pretty clear that these scientists are in the minority, since they have been subject to pejorative labels (denier, etc).

3.  Tell the truth as you see it in your professional judgment, even if you have to tell your employers, clients, or those in power things they don’t want to hear. Nor that you will publicly support positions or propositions that you do not believe the evidence supports. Truthfulness is important in any relationship.

JC comment:  The pressures to conform to the consensus are enormous.  I don’t think that experts speaking out in public are intimidated into saying something that is at odds with the truth as they see it; rather, scientists that disagree with the consensus mostly stay silent and don’t enter the public debate.

4.  Recognize the human propensity to rationalize: you will be tempted to believe what your employers or those in power want to hear you say. Where possible, make allowances for this tendency by checking your opinion against that of other members of the community of experts who operate under fewer or different incentives, or against other communities of experts.

JC comment: This is an issue more for scientists supporting the consensus; scientists disagreeing with the consensus are well aware of the consensus statements and arguments.  The reverse is not true; any attempt to balance the consensus perspective with an opposing one is regarded as bias (the so-called ‘balance as bias’ in climate journalism).

5. Consider the effects of your statements on those who are not your employers or clients. Obligations to employers or clients do not outweigh more basic considerations of justice.

JC comment:  This one is hugely complex for the wicked climate problem; the world’s poor are the latest punching bag, with both ‘sides’ claiming moral superiority with regards to reducing fossil fuel emissions or not.  In the climate change problem, it seems that often one’s sense of social justice trumps a realistic characterization of the problems and the uncertainties surrounding the science and the proposed solutions.

6. Know your own ethical limits. Try to avoid positions where you might not be able to obey the above principles because you are susceptible to the temptations of the position or too afraid of the possible costs of following them. Don’t pollute the atmosphere of social trust by abusing it for personal gain, increased respect, or support for your discipline. Each new case of untrustworthy research that comes to light fuels public suspicion that scientists and other experts are distorting their messages to serve their own interests or those of special interest groups.

JC comment:  Not adhering to the above principles regarding the climate change issue has become institutionalized by the professional societies, with their alarmist statements on climate change and pleas for urgent action.

Maxims for Those Appealing to Experts:

The ethics of expertise is not a one-way street. Even if he cannot very well evaluate the testimony of an expert, a layperson remains an agent, and an important part of the ethics of expertise is the ethics of one who appeals to experts. Indeed, there are ways in which laypersons can make it more likely that experts will offer trustworthy testimony.

1. Try to find the best-qualified expert and recognize that agreement with your values, desires, policies, plans, or hunches is not a qualification for an expert. Selecting an expert because you know she will support your position is a form of deliberate deception (or of self-deception) and hence an ethical vice. Appealing to experts who will support the views we already hold is a common failing, but it defeats the rational purpose of appealing to experts.

Suppose our interests conflict or we disagree about what should be done. Then, if you are not persuaded to my position on the basis of what I’ve said, why should you be persuaded by an expert I have selected if she has been selected because she will support my position? The tendency will be for you to select “your” expert who you know will support your position. You, then, refuse to accept anything my expert says, and I refuse to accept anything your expert says. We’re then back to our original position of disagreement, except that we have undermined the on the issues we confront.

JC comment. Well this is an interesting one in context of how witnesses are selected to give Congressional testimony. The majority party gets to pick the majority of the witnesses. Gotta wonder what all this accomplishes, does this move the needle of disagreement any? Interesting that prior to 2009 I was called to give testimony twice by the Democrats; in recent years I have only been called by the Republicans.

2. Although you appeal to experts to reduce your uncertainty and to enable you to act with greater assurance, recognize that what you would like to know simply may not be known. Do not generate pressure on experts to pretend to know more than they do, to overestimate the relevance of what they know, or to feign consensus within the community of experts where there is none. Facing the need to decide about issues involving complex and technical matters and recognizing the insufficiency of our own knowledge, we find it very difficult to refrain from trying to get more information or certainty from experts than they have to offer.

JC comment. The UNFCCC and the world’s policy makers are guilty of this one big-time. I have some sympathy for the political pressure that the IPCC is under to reduce uncertainty and present a consensus.

3.  An expert’s educated guess may or may not be a sufficient basis for action. Try to distinguish these two types of situations. Also recognize, however, that even the best, most informed judgment can be mistaken. Experts will have better reasons than laypersons (within their domains of expertise). But better reasons are not always sufficient reasons to act-for example, when no action is an option or the decision can be postponed; when other, less uncertain alternatives exist; when the risks or costs of their having guessed wrong are great.

JC comment. Again, this is a great failure by the UNFCCC and the world’s policy makers who are seeking to use highly uncertain climate models and expert judgement as the basis for far reaching policies to change global governance, economics, and the global energy infrastructure

4. Recognize that experts either directly or indirectly in your employ will be tempted to tell you what you want to hear and that those trained to be experts have not been selected for their courage or their ability to withstand the heat of nonacademic battle. Try to make experts understand that you want their candid assessments, not support for your position.

JC comment. In the climate change debate, given all the diverse political interests in play, I’m wondering who really wants candid assessments? I would hope that national security agencies and the financial sector at least would want candid assessments.

Maxims for the Community of Experts:

1. Never use rewards and punishments to stifle dissent within the community of experts. Rewarding mere conformity or punishing disagreement would seriously compromise the community’s quest for truth and hence its claim to be a community of experts. It should be equally obvious, however, that there will be a temptation to encourage conformity, both because professional consensus presents a better face to the public and also because of our natural tendency to see those who agree with us as more competent and more ethical than those who disagree with us.

JC comment. This issue reflects the great concern that I have for the statements on climate change that professional societies have been making [link]. These statements give excuses to journal editors/reviewers, conference organizers and award committees for enforcing conformity and squelching research that disagrees with the consensus.

2. Beware the gap between social expectations of your community and what your members can in fact do. Combat unrealistic social expectations. Do not attempt to generate social support for your work by overestimating what is known, what is likely to become known, or the relevance and applicability of either to practical problems. Trust that has been lost or destroyed is extremely difficult to reestablish.

JC comment. The IPCC deserves some sympathy on this one. Policy makers and the UNFCCC have unrealistic expectations of the IPCC for reducing uncertainty and presenting a consensus.

3.  Take steps to ensure that your members are worthy of the social trust placed in them. Those who abuse the power inherent in their specialized knowledge must be censured, penalized, and ultimately excluded from the community of experts. Granted, however, the lines between mistakes and culpable mistakes, between mistakes and incompetence, between incompetence and disagreement, and between disagreement and improper behavior will not often be easy to draw.

JC comment. The Peter Gleick case [link] and AGU’s failure to censure him in any meaningful way is a case in point here. This does not reflect well on AGU’s community of experts.

4. Resist the temptation to “circle the wagons” and defend the reputation of the community by withholding information about the misconduct of members of your community. Work for institutions and social settings that minimize temptations to abuse the power of expertise and that protect those who blow the whistle on untrustworthy members of the community.

JC comment: The behavior revealed by the Climategate emails (the emails themselves and the community response) illustrate this perfectly. This behavior has resulted in a colossal loss of public trust to the community of climate scientists. [link]

Maxims for a Society or Group that Relies on Experts:

1.  Create settings for experts that protect experts who take responsible but unpopular positions, and that minimize the temptations to abuse the power of expertise.

JC comment: University tenure is key. The so-called ‘balance’ in news reporting is helpful in this regard. The blogosphere provides a platform for unpopular positions (attempting to censor them through journal peer review no longer works).  Institutional practices (universities, professional societies) to minimize the temptations to abuse the power of expertise seem totally lacking  [this was discussed in Ethics of Communicating Scientific Uncertainty].

2. Do not permit expertise to be monopolized by the wealthy or powerful or to be used as a tool of oppression or exploitation.

JC comment. There has been much angst over the possibility of oil companies or the Koch brothers buying contrarian climate research. However, the recent Grijalva inquisition [link] reveals that there is little cause for concern. There is probably more concern for influence buying on the green side. Either way, I don’t think funding is the main source of bias among climate scientists; rather it is ideology and peer pressure.

3.  There is a responsibility to finance the education and information (through experts) of opposing and potentially opposing groups. Unless money and power are to resolve the discussion of questions of truth, the knowledge-buying power of different groups must not be grossly unequal.

JC comment. Well this is an interesting one; it almost argues that oil company and Koch brother funding of climate research is to be welcomed to counter the biased funding by the federal government.

JC reflections

It is indeed high time to work on the ethics of expertise in the public debate on climate science.   Unless we are prepared to declare the whole issue hopeless [Uneasy Expertise]: Experts might instead need to pick a side, join the fight, and accept that their claims to knowledge and authority will always and everywhere be contested. 

Regarding the people/groups that call on expertise, its hard to imagine that they won’t continue to play politics with expertise, although hopefully a few groups will emerge that are appealing to experts in the context of genuine inquiry.

Regarding individuals putting themselves forward as experts, this is largely an issue of individual conscience, although I agree that other scientists should call out inappropriate uses of expertise (I seem to be one of the few climate scientists doing this, and I’m not making many friends within the community for doing this).

My bigger concern is absence of concern about these issues from the institutions supporting research – universities, professional societies and funding agencies.  This where the big failing lies.  Journalists, lawyers, engineers etc. all have codes of ethics of relevance to public expertise, whereas scientists do not – pretty much anything goes, and there are too many examples of scientists behaving irresponsibly in this regard who are rewarded by their universities and professional societies.

It will be interesting to see if there is any interest in pondering this issue, or whether everyone will give up and just play politics with expertise.

466 responses to “Ethics of climate expertise

  1. So, to what extent do climate scientists who are visible in the public debate as experts, follow this ethics of expertise?

    Precisely that of the canonical “good politician.”

    They consider their comportment ethical when, after being bought, they stay bought.

    Three years ago, I ran into former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at a ritzy Northwest Washington restaurant. We exchanged pleasantries, but before long, our conversation became unpleasant.

    Since climate science is my field, I felt compelled to point out that Mr. Rudd’s support for a cap-and-trade policy for carbon emissions had recently helped cost him his job as prime minister. “Well, what should I have done?” he replied. “My scientists, I say, my scientists, told me this is an important problem.”

    Having closely followed implementation of Mr. Rudd’s cap-and-trade, my response was admittedly a little testy: “Your scientists said exactly what you paid them to tell you.” It took less than an hour for the daily newspaper The Australian to get wind of the encounter.

    — Patrick J. Michaels (28 May 2013)

  2. Try to make experts understand that you want their candid assessments, not support for your position.
    I haven’t seen much of this, especially from the Congressional sessions.

  3. Well…

    Just an observation, but the AGW theory is used as policy justification.

    This is the reason for some of the distortion. Science should not be a tool to justify political coercion. The science is used to grossly exaggerate non-problems to justify policy.

    There seem to be some assumptions by AGWers that they would have AGW or no AGW:

    1. CO2 is bad.
    2. Fossil Fuels are bad.
    Corollary to 2
    2a. Stupid expensive dirty resource-intensive undispatchable renewables are better than fossil fuel or nuclear.
    3. Cheap energy is bad.
    4. Energy is scarce and must be conserved.
    5. The standard of living is too high and must be lowered.
    6. The environment must be perfect regardless of cost.
    7. People must make zero impact on the environment.
    Corollary to 7
    7a. The government has a right to stomp on people’s freedoms to accomplish #7.
    8. Economic decisions should be made by the government.

    If someone from the AGW side could explain why they believe any or all of the above things that would be helpful. Because I disagree with all the above assumptions.

    • But Ravetz gave permission, even encouragement.
      For example (one of many): Ravetz, Ph.D., Jerome, and S. Funtowicz. “Post-Normal Science – Environmental Policy under Conditions of Complexity.” Philosophy. NUSAP Net, 2001.
      http://www.nusap.net/sections.php?op=viewarticle&artid=13

    • I am often asked how I can possiby doubt the reality of human induced climate change when so many highly qualified people support it; it would have to be a conspiracy on a grand scale.

      As I see it, raher than a conspiracy, it is a moral panic similar to the witch hunts of earlier times. It is worth Googling “moral panic” to get a feel for this topic.

      Moral panics have several distinct features. According to Goode and Ben-Yehuda, moral panic consists of the following characteristics:

      1/. Concern – There must be belief that the behaviour of the group or category in question is likely to have a negative effect on society.
      2/. Hostility – Hostility towards the group in question increases, and they become ‘folk devils’. A clear division forms between ‘them’ and ‘us’.
      3/. Consensus – Though concern does not have to be nationwide, there must be widespread acceptance that the group in question poses a very real threat to society. It is important at this stage that the ‘moral entrepreneurs’ are vocal and the ‘folk devils’ appear weak and disorganised.
      4/. Disproportionality – The action taken is disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the accused group.
      5/. Volatility – Moral panics are highly volatile and tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared due to a wane in public interest or news reports changing to another topic.

      Human induced climate change fits the first four points quite well with climate deniers as the folk devils (note the use of the term “consensus”). However it has been rolling for 30 years now and so can scarcely be termed “volatile”. Maybe that is because it became an institution; thousands of people’s livelihoods have come to depend on keeping the panic level high.

      • Well…

        I’m still waiting for some AGWer to explain/defend their core beliefs (I listed above what appear to be their core beliefs).

        Since no one is defending their core beliefs, apparently they know their core beliefs are wrong.

        Since I’m a rational person I really don’t understand how people can act on core beliefs they know are wrong.

        I disagree with your analysis a little bit. When people do things, that sensible people who have “pulled their head out” don’t do, generally it is due to money or politics, or perhaps they have just not “pulled their head out”.

  4. “any attempt to balance the consensus perspective with an opposing one is regarded as bias”. So true. Years ago I spoke to a journalist about the need for alternative views in climate science to be reported, and was told that in order not to show bias they tried to align the reporting with the balance of views within the scientific community, that the scientific community were united on climate, and that it would therefore be next to impossible to get any contra article published.

  5. khal spencer

    Good post. Thanks. Gotta think on it later when I am not on Uncle Sam’s dime.

  6. Ms. Curry, did you mean to leave your concluding sentence incomplete?


    It will be interesting to see if there is any interest in pondering this issue, or

  7. These days if I see an “ethicist” approaching I’ll cross to the other side of the street, but this Hardwig bloke doesn’t seem to be a creepy misanthrope at all. Maybe it’s the era he wrote in.

    Remember when statistics were handy but basically stank, extrapolation was useful but fanciful, models were shallow representations of vague possibilities, and if you thought something was a good idea you tried it on a very modest scale before trying it again on a somewhat less modest scale? Trial and error and observation and all that?

    I kind of miss those days before the mullahs: the grand old secular days of dunno-but-I’ll-take-a-look.

    I write this piece of nostalgia as much rain falls uselessly on Australia’s long unused desalination plants. The rain wasted, the billions wasted, the land wasted, the coast wasted, the materials wasted, the electricity wasted…

    Anybody wanna revolution?

    • Remember when engineering bureaucrats actually did engineering?

      http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Caltrans-was-warned-of-Bay-Bridge-leaking-before-6220861.php

      It’s starting to look like this 6 billion dollar bridge may not last more than a decade. BTW all the corrosion and water noted above happened during our devastating drought. Wait til it starts raining again.

      • Here in Oz our climate authorities told us the rains would never again be sufficient…shortly before we had too much rain. When we had a drenching east coast low last year they said it was the last of a dying breed. This year’s east coast low is the first of a catastrophic breed. So it goes on, belief-based science.

        The method of the climate catechists: be evasive on what has happened, foggy on what is happening…and perfectly clear on what hasn’t happened yet.

      • “Here in Oz our climate authorities told us the rains would never again be sufficient…” – mosomoso

        Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a quote to that exact effect?

        Scepticism and all that…..

      • “Although we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia, that’s translating to a 60 per cent decrease in the run-off into the dams and rivers. That’s because the soil is warmer because of global warming and the plants are under more stress and therefore using more moisture. So even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems.”
        – Tim Flannery 2007 interviewed on the ABC. (In 2005 he had predicted our dams could be dry by 2007)

        Check our rivers and east coast dam levels now. Just check ’em. Let me know if anyone is having trouble ascertaining present Eastern Australia dam levels and I’ll help. (And this being Oz, we still have large areas of drought, because that’s always been the case, except for the mid-70s.) But check those dam levels where they built the still unused desals at the cost of tens of billions and rising. Then laugh or weep.

        From The Age 2009:
        David Jones, the head of the bureau’s (BoM) National Climate Centre, said there was some risk of a worsening El Nino event this year, but it was more likely to arrive in 2010 or 2011.
        “We are in the build-up to the next El Nino and already the drought is as bad as it has ever been — in terms of the drought, this may be as good as things get,” Dr Jones said.

        Here are the facts about past and recent Australian rainfall from Jones’ own Bureau, including what came immediately after Jones’ prediction:

        Scepticism and all that…..

      • Mosomoso,

        There’s expert opinion and then there is, also, misrepresentation.

        From the interview;

        “… a decline in the winter rainfall zone across southern Australia….we’re getting say a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas of Australia…..”

        Decrease in winter rainfall…..in some areas…..

        Mosomoso points to non-winter rainfall and seems to imply ‘some’ as being everywhere.

        Lucky i was sceptical, huh?

      • mosomoso demonstrates to Michael the difference between being a smart ass and a jack ass.

        well done.

      • Got it in black and white and he had to re-edit and distort.

        Remind me not to do any more homework at Michael’s request.

      • For those interested in the subject of irresponsible projections (not in obscure gotchas), from our Bureau in 2009 after a three-year collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO. As reported in The Age:

        ‘When they ran simulations with only the ”natural” influences on temperature, such as changing levels of solar activity, they found there was no intensification of the subtropical ridge and no decline in rainfall.

        ‘But when they added human influences, such as greenhouse gases, aerosols and ozone depletion, the models mimicked what has occurred in south-east Australia – the high pressure systems strengthened, causing a significant drop in rainfall.

        ”’It’s reasonable to say that a lot of the current drought of the last 12 to 13 years is due to ongoing global warming,” said the bureau’s Bertrand Timbal.

        ”In the minds of a lot of people, the rainfall we had in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was a benchmark. A lot of our [water and agriculture] planning was done during that time. But we are just not going to have that sort of good rain again as long as the system is warming up.”’

        Below is a summary of rainfall in the target area of the “research” and includes what happened immediately after Timbal’s pronouncement.

        Try and find a trend of declining rainfall in that 115 year history of the Murray Darling Basin rainfall. And observe the reality of Australian climate in the half century before 1950, a subject seldom raised by our “experts”, for obvious reasons.

        Rain, I should add, played havoc with the completion of Melbourne’s gigantic and still inused desal plant.

      • ” mosomoso | May 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm |
        Got it in black and white and he had to re-edit and distort…..”

        Just added in a sentance from his comment, just before the partial quote you provided.

        But, yes, it did distort to omit that opening to the quote didn’t it??

        My rule of thumb is to always check quotes from the ‘skeptics’, as this exampe is pretty typical.

    • I should add that the implementation and ongoing costs of unused desal in Australia would be in the tens of billions. I’m told that just one unused desal (Melbourne) can cost up to $600,000 per day when not in use, and I’ve seen a figure of half a million per day for Sydney’s unused desal. This all seems to be too incredible, but I can buy that the cost is massive. People need to remember that our east coast gets a lot of rain, and the long term record shows that there have always been periods of drought between dumps, just as now. Not many stats are clear and simple, but those are. Our desals – and consequent lack of new dams, water recycling etc – are among the mightiest white elephants of the climate bubble. For sheer cost and uselessness, they could well be unmatched.

      To bring it back to the topic of ethics of expertise, this farce was all based on dud certainties about future climate, uttered most prominently by paleontologist, Panasonic promoter, media personality and Prius-person, Tim Flannery. Sydney’s driest year was in 1888, for most of us the driest year was 1902. The driest decade for most was the 1930s. Most of Australia was somewhat drier in the half century before 1950 than in the half century after. No secret to anyone who cared to look.

      There is no embarrassment, however. The desals, bigger than Quo Vadis, are simply not talked about. The same climate gurus like Tim Flannery are being quoted and boosted by the same MSM. I imagine when the bubble bursts there will be quite a splatter, but nobody wants to get splattered. So the bubble stays and the costs mount.

      • Mosomoso, that cost figure I’m highly certain that cost figure for the desalination facility is very unlikely.

      • Fernando, I haven’t been able to get an accurate breakdown. It does seem far fetched for desals on standby, and Melbourne’s desal is supposed to be costing much more again, an improbable $600,000 per day (also stand-by).

        But it’s interesting that “our” ABC, an organ of the Posh Urban Left funded by the rest of us and inflicted on the rest of us, has indeed put the cost of Sydney’s horror at $500,000, quoting the managing director of Sydney Water. That’s PER DAY as availability charge, though no water has been needed or produced.
        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-27/nsw-desalination-plant-deal-costing-customers-10-billion/4985168

        I agree with you that this seems incredible.

        One more thing to infuriate: Melbourne could be harvesting water right now in a long-planned Mitchell River Dam. Instead, the water is flushed to the sea and maybe a quarter of a TRILLION dollars annually is flushed to…to where?

      • The reason for the large cost of unused desal is very simple – the govt got a private contractor to build and run the plant. As part of the contractual arrangements, they get paid whether or not they actually provide water. This was a non-negotiable part of the contract and for good commercial reasons – who would invest billions on a return dependent on the weather?
        Like all “public-private partnerships”, no “private” is willing to bet on political whim – the want iron-clad payment details up-front or no deal. Who’d blame them?

      • Of course, in the case of old Sydney town there’s usually another ingredient in the decision making process. Let’s call it the “private-public-private-private arrangement”.

        On another matter altogether, it was interesting how the very green premier of NSW became so enthusiastic for desal only a short time after referring to it contemptuously as “bottled electricity”. This turnabout left many bewildered, and the very green premier resigned some weeks after giving the go-ahead to Sydney desal (leaving his very green legacy of clapped-out, feral-ridden forestry zones as National Parks). We may never know all his thought processes, but he is still as green as you please. Aren’t they all these days?

        Since I mentioned this yesterday, NSW has shelled out another half-million dollars for its stand-by desal. Tomorrow, another half-million.

        Sydney gets over 1200 millimetres of rain a year on average, and its catchment region does okay for precip. Its dams are not far off brimming as I speak – but more water storage and some sane recycling of waste water would have made things even better and warmed my conservationist heart. Won’t happen. We’re now far too green for all that conservation nonsense.

    • You duh man mosomoso!

      At 68 yrs. of age, I probably have at least one more revolution in me. Keep me in the loop/

      • Revolution becomes difficult once you’ve let them disarm you.

      • Me too Mark. At 75 I would like to be kept in the loop as well. Mosomoso articulates so well that I am pleased to stay in the background and just give out +1’s. One good thing about aging IMO is that its much better than the alternative! Keep active and be passionate about what is going on around you is my recipe for a long and enjoyable life.

      • Danny Thomas

        +1

    • If the MSM was interested in reporting on the impacts of unwarranted action based on hysterical hand-waving predictions of future doom unless we “do something”, more people might know about this disaster. Thank you for providing the info and the back-up quotes to satisfy “skeptics” like Michael.

    • One of our NASA managers said, multiple times, give engineers a computer and they start believing the output and quit thinking.

      The turned the Climate Scientists loose with computers, to teach themselves to create models, told them what the answer was, and disaster resulted.

      No one ever taught them that model output must match real data and then there is verification required, because it can match for the wrong reasons.
      When the model output does not match real data, the models have something very wrong or they have something very important left out.

      They do not understand that ice on earth is replenished in warm times and then it gets cold. Ice is removed in cold times and then it gets warm. A little ice age follows all warm periods. All little ice ages are followed by a Roman or Medieval or Modern Warm Period. A natural cycle is clearly in the actual data but there is no natural cycle in climate model output.

      Look at the actual data for yourself.

  8. David Springer

  9. There are no experts, if by experts you mean people who have superior knowledge that [somehow] justifies them making decisions on behalf of “less qualified” people, or if you mean people whose opinions should be accepted because of their [supposedly] greater knowledge or experience.
    Every person, even persons of far less than average intelligence have the right – and the responsibility – to make their own decisions, to accept or reject expert opinions, and to make the best choices they can on the basis of their own honest assessment of their options.
    Many persons who call themselves experts want or expect to have their opinions accepted, and not questioned. Such persons disrespect the judgment of persons from whom they expect deference. Such condescension is never justified, but is commonly encountered.
    It is a common weakness among many doctors, lawyers, scientists, politicians, and others who rely on credentials as a cover for deficient egos.
    In the marketplace of ideas, “experts” are inevitably humbled, if they are honest. The world is more complex than can be mathematically modeled. Reality rejects pretense.
    I am not a climate scientist, but I do not defer to people who claim to be able to predict future climate change, nor to people who claim to be able to definitively determine past global climate conditions, nor to people who claim they have eliminated all other possible explanations for recent climate change, other than human action. I respect intelligent analysis, diligent research and observation, and well-considered theories. I don’t respect people who pretend to know what I don’t think anyone can know.
    My intelligence, my education, my experience and my common sense, are what I rely on. There are no experts.

    • Cheers.
      I just concluded my civic duty as a juror in a DUI trial. It was an excellent reinforcement of my pre-existing view of the American judicial system as a farce.
      More relevantly, the only “expert” witness called was a lab tech with a Psychology degree who was testifying on the accuracy of the BAC breath analysis machine as well as the scientific validity of various aspects of alcohol absorption and effects. Oh yes, said lab tech also had taken a 2 week course and had a subscription to Lab Tech monthly or some such.
      It was interesting to see how that individual’s carefully worded testament was, in all ways, accurate yet misleading. The use of “average” numbers to reconstruct a scenario was breathtaking – the witness and the prosecutor were always careful to use a specific reference to a person with the same physical dimensions of the defendant as if physical size was the only factor in alcohol absorption and processing, when in fact it should be the scientifically documented range and distribution which matters.

      • Joe Crawford

        ticketstopper: Several years ago, after moving out there, I heard (second or third hand) that someone at the University of Colorado did a study of alcohol consumption and automobile driving ability. In that study they found that driving ability actually increased for most participants for the first few drinks (at least more than one) before falling off rapidly thereafter. The peak was around 2 or 3 drinks for most. Of course that study was either disproven or ignored when they moved the BAC for DUI down to 0.10.

        paulg23: Where I worked, the definition of an expert was anyone form out-of-town. Or better yet: Ex(s)pert – Ex is a has-been, (s)pert is what a dog does to a tree.

      • That is an interesting story – I would be interested if you had a link.
        I personally would have doubts that an alcohol impaired person would drive better than the exact same person unimpaired, but on the other hand, a realistic comparison would include drivers distracted by kids, by music, by texting/phone calls, blinded by chrome reflections, dust storms, etc etc.
        It is quite clear that driving drunk is much more dangerous for everyone concerned than not – roughly 1/3 of all vehicle accidents with fatalities involve alcohol. Even the most anti-draconian drunk driving laws would have to agree that it is unlikely that 1/3 of all drivers are drunk!
        I personally would be interested to see how those numbers break down, because we’re at the point where I think most of the people driving drunk are those with serious alcohol problems (i.e. serial drunk drivers) or the young and stupid (who drive badly to start with). If in fact this is the case, then the problem is very different than some generic “4 legs good” setup which is what MADD is pushing for.
        The annoying part of all this is that in the case I was involved with – there were 2 different charges: one was driving with a BAC level over the limit and the second was driving under the influence. The BAC is impossible to combat given the level tested out, but the kid got nailed for both even though I personally believe he was literally just stupid.

    • In a lot of court cases, there are expert witnesses on opposite sides with different expert opinions. People who are not experts do listen and decide the fate of the people on trial. If you cannot listen to expert opinion and decide for yourself who is right and who is wrong, then we need to rework our court system and only have experts on the jury.

      I have studied the opinions of experts on the different sides and have done my own studies for over seven years. I have spent more time studying climate than it took to get my college degree. I do explain my theory to people almost every day and many more agree with me than disagree with me.

      People are judged to be experts if they have a certificate, as in the wizard of oz. Many do not have any more brains than the scarecrow.


  10. 1. Never use rewards and punishments to stifle dissent within the community of experts. Rewarding mere conformity or punishing disagreement would seriously compromise the community’s quest for truth and hence its claim to be a community of experts.

    3. There is a responsibility to finance the education and information (through experts) of opposing and potentially opposing groups.

    1. Abuse of the peer review process – attempting to use peer review to gatekeep and block studies based on result not quality, should be a career ender and cause Federal debarment.

    3. If there is a balance of terror (both sides of a question are funded equally) it is hard to support and defend a biased interpretation of the science.

    If there is no gatekeeping and all sides of an issue are funded the truth will win out.

  11. An excellent original essay, and insightful reflections from JC. I’ll certainly use both!

  12. JC comment. Well this is an interesting one; it almost argues that oil company and Koch brother funding of climate research is to be welcomed to counter the biased funding by the federal government.

    Until there is a “Red Team” funded by the same government funding sources that fund the ongoing “mainstream” climate alarmism there will be a need for alternative sources of funding to get the alternative arguments worked on. We should be thankful that these other sources are stepping up to the plate.

  13. David Springer

    Steven Weinberg is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.

    Born: May 3, 1933 (age 81), New York City, NY

    Education: Princeton University (1957)

    • Global Warming, the Common Sense Approach

      • Forgot to mention, that’s Steven Weinberg.

      • David Springer

        This was recorded eight years ago. Before climategate and before “the pause” became widely recognized. I wonder if he’s changed his thinking in light of new evidence?

      • Good link Joshua. Notice that what he actually proposed was not drastic at all and he said to first make sure you do know harm. That principle cuts both ways. Things like using more nuclear and more highly efficient natural gas plants (the latter has already cut our CO2 by ~10%) would also be good. I like his idea of not allowing SUVs to be classified as trucks.

      • No harm, not know harm :)

      • Joshua
        Let’s examine what you think makes sense.

        Weinberg states that the goal should be to “do no harm” and he points out that humans have contributed to a doubling of atmospheric CO2. He compares it to the goals of a medical doctor caring for a human.

        Now, in the medical field, this goal of “do no harm” does not mean “do nothing”. Doctors perform surgery and cut on bodies to remove tumors. The goal of “do no harm” references a goal of “do no net harm”, or make the patient better than they were as a result of your actions.

        In reference to CO2 emissions Weinberg (and you) state that we should reduce CO2 emissions because:
        1. Humans have contributed to a doubling of atmospheric CO2, and
        2. Point 1 may lead to negative consequences for the environment

        I will not argue either points 1 or 2. I will point out that neither of these points provide sufficient information to conclude that action should be taken to reduce CO2 emissions.

        A. Where is the reliable data to determine the harms that will occur? What are these specific harms, where are they likely to occur and when?
        B. What are the offsetting benefits of continuing BAU
        C. Is there a valid, reasonably reliable analysis of the net benefits vs. the net harms of atmospheric CO2?
        D. If an analysis was performed but is found to be based on faulty or unreliable data, shouldn’t the analysis be rejected as invalid?

        You jump to a case for action based on a system of beliefs and not based on a reasonable analysis of the situation.

      • bill –

        ==> ” That principle cuts both ways.”

        I agree. I find it problematic when people apply it in only one direction.

  14. I didn’t carefully read all that, but I am guessing that John Hardwig’s 1994 essay has had pretty close to zero impact on the ethics of expertise. We hope that experts will tell the truth and nothing but the truth to the best of their knowledge and abilities. However, we know that you can hire a Doctor of whatever to testify under oath that he’s 95% sure it’s Shinola and another who will swear it’s his learned and highly credentialed opinion that it’s got to be doo-doo. When the docs have finished earning their paychecks, it’s the “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!” arguments that win the day. The folks tune out dueling experts. I am only exaggerating, slightly.

    • We used to say “give ’em a check and they’ll give you a check” when getting expert opinion to endorse whatever.

      Sad, but true!

      Except for a few, like our hostess, who seem to really give a shit about ethics and honesty.

      • The doo-doo word got it sent to moderation, Mark. Now that I know Judith will let it through, I will work it in often. Although it’s possible you are getting a special dispensation, because you are decent.

    • We used to say “give ’em a check and they’ll give you a check” when hiring an “expert” to endorse whatever we needed endorsing.

      With the exception of a few, like our hostess, who seem to value rigor and integrity highly.

  15. Re: Ethics of climate expertise, 4/30/2015:

    Admit when you don’t know, when you’re guessing, and when your opinion is only a reasonable estimate.

    Scientific knowledge is not contained (reliably, usefully, or meaningfully) in the minds of scientists. It resides in their models with predictive power, i.e., in theories (models with at least one novel and validated prediction) and laws, models absent belief systems and beyond conjectures and hypotheses. Appealing to less than a theory, for public purposes is unethical.

    For climate scientists who hold minority opinions (it doesn’t take much to be shunted in this category; minor disagreement with ‘consensus’ statements or stating that uncertainty might be greater), it is pretty clear that these scientists are in the minority, since they have been subject to pejorative labels (denier, etc).

    Consensus, along with peer-review and professional publication, are three sides to Popper’s ersatz intersubjectivity coin. Modern Science rejects all subjective elements within its models, reserving judgment on a model’s quality to its predictive power. The Daubert Court preserved intersubjectivity for expert testimony in federal courts.

    In Modern Science, uncertainty lies in the probability distributions of facts. In Post Modern Science, including IPCC compiant climatology and Dr. Curry’s writings on the subject, uncertainty is subjective. In AR4, IPCC tried to quantify subjective uncertainty. E.g., highly likely in the mind of a scientist meant a probability > 90%. IPCC specifically reversed that position in AR5, still holding on to subjective uncertainty, but now denying it any quantitative meaning. Maybe AR6 will be the swan song for AGW, and in the post mortum will be the realization that subjectivity had no place in climatology (either).

    Modern Science could be taught in a matter of a hours, but academia leaves epistemology to each trained scientist to deduce all on his own.

    In the climate change problem, it seems that often one’s sense of social justice trumps a realistic characterization of the problems and the uncertainties surrounding the science and the proposed solutions.

    This is Popper’s Fifth Tenet of Post Modern Science, and the only tenet rejected by the US Supreme Court in Daubert v. Merrell Dow, the decision that converted expert testimony in federal courts into postmodern opinion.

    Being a body of law, the Court recognized that the application of science to society was the duty of the trier of fact (the judge or jury), never the expert. It decided expert opinion must NOT consider social impacts. The Court recognized when ITS ox was being Gored.

    Not adhering to the above principles regarding the climate change issue has become institutionalized by the professional societies, with their alarmist statements on climate change and pleas for urgent action.

    Professional societies, working hand in hand with professional journals, to assure conformity to the dogma of the day and the appearance of consensus, all to the end of trumping the principles of science. Don’t worry about the models working; it’s Publish or Perish.

    Again, this is a great failure by the UNFCCC and the world’s policy makers who are seeking to use highly uncertain climate models and expert judgment as the basis for far reaching policies to change global governance, economics, and the global energy infrastructure.

    Uncertainty is part and parcel of Modern Science. An axiom is that all facts have an uncertainty (although as in mathematics, one might concoct strange exceptions). Regardless, what UNFCCC and IPCC have done is unethical, not because of uncertainty, but because their models have no predictive power.

    Worse, their models have been invalidated, not so much by the cooling trend of just two decades, but by the estimates of the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, which lie in the IPCC-determined region of the impossible. Until repaired, the AGW model is a failed conjecture, off the scale of scientific models.

    • “Professional societies, working hand in hand with professional journals, to assure conformity to the dogma of the day and the appearance of consensus, all to the end of trumping the principles of science.”

      Really? Then how has any breakthrough science ever been published?

      • That’s a big part of the problem for Climate “Science”. Until it is reunited with the scientific method, there will BE no “breakthrough science”.

      • It has all along been doing the scientific method. It is only because you don’t like the results that you insinuate the scientists are wicked and you are somehow righteous.

        This tactic is very easy to see through — an attempt to win the debate by sidestepping the science. It is shameful.

      • David Appell (@davidappell) | May 1, 2015 at 12:10 am |
        It has all along been doing the scientific method. It is only because you don’t like the results that you insinuate the scientists are wicked and you are somehow righteous.

        From a software engineering standpoint what has been done with the models is disgraceful and dishonest.

        Any model that is not reparameterized to reproduce the “pause” should have its funding cut . Period. A legal requirement to reproduce the pause as a condition of funding would end the nonsense. The models should have been fixed a decade ago.

        It is obvious to anyone with a lick of software and analog simulation experience that models that reproduce the pause will have less CO2 sensitivity and less extreme behavior in the out years.

        An engineer who developed a model that didn’t reproduce the behavior of the underlying system, and refused to correct it, would be fired. There is no reason to treat scientists as “special”.

      • PA says “Any model that is not reparameterized to reproduce the “pause” should have its funding cut .” That is a fundamental misunderstanding of what climate models do and don’t do. They are not going to get natural variations at the correct time when they have already run for 100 years to get to the year 2000 climate. However, they do produce natural variations of the magnitude of the pause at other times just randomly, as shown by multiple papers discussed here and elsewhere even recently. Even other skeptics can probably join in on correcting you on this point, because maybe some understand (just maybe).

      • Don Monfort

        That’s disingenuous BS, yimmy. CO2 is supposed to be the control knob. CO2 keeps increasing but the pause is steadily killing the cause. Prove that random natural variation is not responsible for at least half of the alleged warming since 1950, yimmy. Then we can talk.

      • Re: David Appell, 4/30/2015 9:59 pm, asked

        Really? Then how has any breakthrough science ever been published?

        First, who cares? Publishing is a requirement of Post Modern Science, but not of Modern Science. It’s in the PMS version of the Scientific Method, not the MS version. Judging a model of Modern Science by a tenet of PMS is as unfair as the current fall of the AGW conjecture by the MS validity test: AGW is invalid for failing to predict the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity.

        In the on-going climate foolery, the public has exhibited a surprisingly strong instinct for what a scientific model is supposed to do. That instinct is something that the physical sciences of academia manages to purge from science students, and then preserve throughout their Publish-or-Perish career, if any.

        I am not familiar with science writer David Appell’s work. However, I would hope to find he answers his own question by writing about the success of models in making predictions, not about their success in being published in consensus-approved professional journals.

      • http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/wti/plot/esrl-co2/from:1975/scale:0.015/offset:-5.3/plot/esrl-co2/from:1985/to:2000/trend/offset:-350/scale:0.02/offset:-0.4/plot/esrl-co2/from:2000/to:2014/trend/offset:-350/scale:0.02/offset:-0.4/

        Most of the 1985 to 2014 CO2 warming (55%) occurred after 2000 because most of the atmospheric CO2 increase occurred after 2000.

        There should have been only 0.19°C of CO2 driven warming between 1985 and 2000, but 0.22°C of warming from 2000 to 2014 and 0.24°C from 2000 to the current time, using the IPCC formulation of TSR = 2 x Fco2.

        That clearly isn’t what happened. By the end of this year the post 2000 warming should be 126% of the 1985 to 2000 warming.

      • I agree that that paragraph is a bit much. Should say that this is what we don’t want and that this sometimes happens. There are many examples like stomach ulcers/H. pylorii and continental drift, etc. But obviously, it is still science and reality has to intervene at some point and even if there is some consensus reinforcement, at the end of the day the scientific method is to allow the data to stand on its own and to publish work that seems sound and allow the scientific community to work it out by testing each other’s work. I hope you will admit that it is highly unusual and somewhat suspect to have “climate rapid response teams” that can get papers published within days to rebut something they don’t like.

      • So David,

        What big breaklthroughs in climate science have we seen?

        Or are you still out looking for those 10 million climate refugees?

      • I disagree strongly with PA. Adjusting models until they happen to match the observed surface air temperature record is a near-guarantee of overfitting and low predictive power. To the extent GCMs are the right way to go at all (a debatable proposition), one should be looking for models that reproduce the quantitative and qualitative “look and feel” of the observed climate in terms of overall statistics and regional variations, etc. Overfitting aerosol and CO2 sensitivities to the late 20th century temperature data plausibly explains why the GCMs are running hot now.

      • stevepostrel | May 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm |
        I disagree strongly with PA.

        I somewhat agree with stevepostrel (I don’t always agree with PA either).

        SP is kind of wrong and kind of right at the same time. The models have dozens of settable parameters and are curve fitting exercises. Since they don’t match the temperature or precipitation of the earth they aren’t really modelling the earth. Perhaps they are modelling a different planet in a similar orbit.

        The GCMs don’t reproduce the natural cycles well, so a correctly parameterized model would have understated the 1990s warming and that doesn’t appear to be true of most if not all of the models.

      • stevepostrel wrote:
        “To the extent GCMs are the right way to go at all (a debatable proposition)….”

        And the alternative is….?

      • There are lots of other analytical approaches used in climate science besides GCMs. These are widely described, including in the IPCC reports. Presumably you are aware of them and the reasons why they continue to be worked on even after the advent of the GCMs. Some of them even involve closer confrontations with empirical data; many of them are less opaque in relating assumptions to predictions; all of them eschew attempts to mimetically recreate the climate in a digital snowglobe.

        One could imagine diverting most of the money currently dedicated to the GCMs to improving the U.S.’s lagging weather forecasting system (as described a few years ago in some posts here) or even to R&D on a set of sensors that could measure the Earth’s albedo and upwelling IR with enough accuracy to actually settle some of the climate sensitivity questions directly. Either of those might be more productive uses of meteorological resources.

  16. Scurrilous parsing of the word “expert” –

    X represents an unknown entity.
    Spurt – a drip under pressure.

    I’m inclined to the King James Bible assessment of experts – “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Often highly polished and glossy on the outside, but worm-eaten, mouldy, and bitter within.

    • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535980/

      An expert is a man who has stopped thinking—he knows!
      Frank Lloyd Wright

      Experts are a little understood family within the phylum Chordata. Many people mistakenly believe them to have well developed egos, winged words, and dull plumage. In fact, they typically have immature egos (which explains their incessant self flattery), rudimentary wings (which is why they fly first class), and exotic plumage (to detract from their vulnerability). Despite their deficiencies, experts can be dangerous. Our brief field guide to artifexology (the study of experts) should help people to protect themselves from the insidious influence of experts.

  17. Reading this post on ethics and expertise made me think about the practice of medicine and the choices that patients, with little knowledge of medicine, disease or treatments, often need to make in the face of conflicting advice. The surgeon says, “Surgery.” The Oncologist says, “Chemo.” the Radiologists say, “Radiation.” How to know who is right? There is a lot of what in other industries would be called selling.

    This article about Alternative Medicine strongly supports Hardwig’s statement, ” … it is high time that we get to work on the ethics of expertise.”

    An Alternative Medicine Believer’s Journey Back to Science
    http://www.wired.com/2015/04/alternative-medicine-believers-journey-back-science/

  18. I found that by reading Judith’s post (and all the link’s) I got a great overview of her conversion from idealogy to that of a sceptic to be most interesting. Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus due to a dream but Judith’s conversion took place on a much longer timescale and with the assistance of buckets of cold water along the way. Science must use scepticism and detachment in its processes, otherwise it will not be science.

  19. Pingback: Ethics of climate expertise | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  20. Excellent post and comments, required reading.

  21. mosomoso wrote on April 30, 2015 at 6:10 pm:

    “Remember when statistics were handy but basically stank, extrapolation was useful but fanciful, models were shallow representations of vague possibilities, and if you thought something was a good idea you tried it on a very modest scale before trying it again on a somewhat less modest scale? Trial and error and observation and all that?”

    Excellent comment! Everything I have ever built could have been improved given another opportunity. Each time I submitted a program or set of drawings I wished for a chance to do more testing or to observe each phase of construction, operation, and maintenance. I am certain that the builders and operators eventually knew much more about my creation (and its flaws) than I ever would.

    With this in mind, I am all in favor of funding a statistically significant quantity of new wind turbines or PV cells, or batteries. And then going back to the drawing board, applying the lessons learned and trying again. And repeating as required, as many times as required, or until the fat lady sings and we move on to other fields of endeavor. But this rush to cover the planet with devices which are known to be too costly, or of unproven safety and reliability, or too variable in output is just a case of ideology before technology. Another black eye in the making for “experts”.

    And Judith, for whatever my opinion is worth, this article is really outstanding and thought-provoking.

    • +100 sciguy54.

      The notions that breakthroughs come as some kind of “aha” moment is wrong. Breakthroughs are a series of ideas and challenges and modifications and incremental refinements.

      • Dead right. It’s taken:

        – Solar thermal engine 100 years to get to 0% of total world electricity generation
        – PV: 60 years to get to 0%
        – nuclear: 60 years to get to 18% and now down to 12%
        – hydro 130 years to get to 16%
        – gas turbines: 220 years
        – steam turbines: >100 years
        – diesel engines: >100 years
        – batteries: 200 years

        to develop these technologies to the state of maturity they have reached now.

        That provides a reality check to inventors, investors, enthusiasts as to how quickly technology inventions and ‘breakthroughs’ take to reach maturity and become economically viable.

    • John Carpenter

      “…. And then going back to the drawing board, applying the lessons learned and trying again. And repeating as required, as many times as required, or until the fat lady sings and we move on to other fields of endeavor.”

      Huh, what makes you think the manufacturers and engineers building these alternative power sources don’t embrace these ideals? And what would be a statistical significant quantity? Why would a capitalist entrepreneur want to limit the number of units they could sell to some ‘statistical significant quantity’ and not as many as they can sell? Did Ford limit the number of cars he could make to wait until the automobile was perfected? Is it perfected now? I imagine many folks back in the day said automobiles were too costly and of unproven safety and reliability…. yet look what happened. Putting up wind turbines or PV cells has much less to do with ideology before technology than with the economics of mass producing cheap energy.

      • Joe Crawford

        I agree if you remove all government incentives. I doubt there would be many wind turbines or photovoltaic installations if they weren’t subsidized by our taxes and/or mandated increases in the price of energy.

      • You’ve left out the outright financial gain portion – or tax harvesting.
        Absolutely, most engineers working in those fields are seeking improvement of the product.
        However, the immediate/short term gains to be made by harvesting subsidies rewards those who install now rather than improve the product.
        I know this because I am very close friends with a number of such engineers who have seen their startups fail due to this dynamic.

    • sciguy54,

      Everything I have ever built could have been improved given another opportunity. Each time I submitted a program or set of drawings I wished for a chance to do more testing or to observe each phase of construction, operation, and maintenance.

      Your comments are excellent. Can you tell me what your background is and what sorts of projects you’ve been involved in. I’d like to know because it helps me answer questions better if I am aware of the questioners background.

      With this in mind, I am all in favor of funding a statistically significant quantity of new wind turbines or PV cells, or batteries.

      Q1. How do you decide what is a statistically significant quantity of wind and solar generating capacity (and/or proportion of electricity generated)?

      Q2. What proportion of money spent on research for electricity systems should be spent on wind, solar and batteries to make them a better fit-for-purpose?

      Q3. What are the selection criteria for these such decisions and what is the process for developing the selection criteria?

      I’d argue we’ve wasted 30 years or more wishing, hoping and advocating for funding of renewable energy. We’ve wasted an enormous amount of money on it. It’s achieved little and is unlikely to become a viable way to produce a significant proportion of global electricity supply. It is a massive distraction and the incessant advocacy of it is diverting attention from focusing on solutions that are likely to succeed. The money wasted on renewables for over 30 years should have been spent on technologies that can and already do provide a sustainable (indefinitely), safer, cleaner, more reliable, more secure source of electricity – i.e. nuclear power.

      • The problem with current renewable energy technology is it is trying to harvest a diffuse, uncontrollable, and somewhat unreliable energy source.

        This takes a lot of land, a lot of equipment, and a dependable backup.

      • It also takes a lot of material (10 times more than nuclear per unit of electricity delivered). That means a lot of mining, milling, processing, refining, smelting, manufacturing, fabrication, construction, decomissioning, disposal, roads, water supply, transport, and fuels used between every step.

        And finally, the energy return on energy invested is insufficient to make them sustainable. That last one is the real killer! http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/

      • Peter,

        You asked for it….

        I have been a kind of technical Homer Simpson, stumbling upon interesting projects through no great planning on my part. I was a structural PE in the late 70s and early 80s (still have my HP41c) and gradually shifted to computer software after banging away on Corps of Engineers WES software through a 300 baud modem while designing large pile-supported foundations.

        Learned UNIX and a bit of C in the early 80s, thinking I would ride that for a few years. Detoured back through Cobol long enough to help a large Baby Bell pull data from several DBs, convert and copy into what was at the time the world’s largest commercial DB. Helped put together a support team and support tools for an early large corporation IP network. Transitioned to the cable TV industry and got to play with UNIX systems and DBs… and TV. Thirty years after acceptance into a local MBA program, my employer asked me to to go back and get that degree., which I did. Hmm, maybe it would have been useful in my youth after all.

        Had lots of good bosses who let me mostly sit at my desk and tinker with ways to help our business make a little more money. As long as I occasionally knocked on their door and asked “why don’t we…?” they would put up with my “personality”.

        Enjoy tinkering with all things mechanical, but have shifted more to audio/electronics as it gets harder to lie on a cold concrete floor under an old Jag or antique pickup.

        Retired for the last few years as I now have two young granddaughters living full time with me, but may return to a light schedule once both are in full-time school next year.

        Now to your points.

        I personally doubt that wind/solar/battery will ever be “best” solutions except for special off-grid situations, but some genius may prove me wrong. And research in these areas may create some useful tech transference. We do need a dose of reality, though. These technologies are not likely to save the world directly any time soon, and vast premature investments in these areas could do more harm than good.

        Before mass production, research should include a large enough sample to determine practicality and a valid MTBF, but a small enough investment to allow for the risk of failure. Potential for economy of scale can usually be extrapolated fairly accurately: no need to make thousands of copies.

        As an engineer, a world without lawyers and politicians would seem heavenly, but we have what we have. Research funds must first go into areas which are likely to be both technically sound and “socially” acceptable. Capitalism has an uncanny way of doing just that. Government can fund the “dark horse” research, but please don’t preordain winners and artificially roadblock private investment.

        In the end, a power grid will be operated by a regulated monopoly, so there will be some partnering between government and private enterprise, just varying balances between the two. The same for the development of the technologies incorporated.

        Nuclear would be grand as long as there are no easily “abusable” byproducts and the price is right. The idea of slowly decommissioning coal power plants and plugging in nuclear replacements seems like a no-brainer. Imagine a world with clean cheap power for everyone. Paul Ehrlich’s worst nightmare!

      • Peter Lang

        sciguy54,

        Thank you. You’ve had a fascinating and interesting career. Project work is extraordinarily fulfilling.

        Could I suggest you copy and paste (edit if you want to) your background onto the Denizens II thread (link on top right of screen). That’s where I go to look for the background I am responding to.

        Bernie 1815 also doesn’t have his background on Denizens II

      • This seems an appropriate place for this question. I’ve seen $13,000 for the Tesla Powerwall battery. On other sites I see $3,000-3,500 for INSTALLERS.

        Does anyone know the story here? Obviously, there is a lot more than a battery to make a complete system. Also, I understand if used alone, it would supply only 10 hours of electricity.

        Anyone have any true understanding of this?

      • Jim2
        >This seems an appropriate place for this question. I’ve seen $13,000 for >the Tesla Powerwall battery. On other sites I see $3,000-3,500 for >INSTALLERS. Does anyone know the story here?

        I have been trying to get a handle on overall costs and not getting very far at all. The battery will need an “inverter” to convert from AC to DC. Solar installations require inverters as well, so there can be cost saving pairing solar and battery systems. If you are using the battery instead of feeding back to the grid, there may be some cost savings there (It is more expensive to have protection that allows homes to feed into the distribution grid versus just drawing on the grid). On the other hand I’m not sure why you’d want a home battery with a grid connection anyway (I think the costs are prohibitive from making it work with time of use rates) so there are some costs savings there, but if your inverters go out you are in the dark till they are fixed. You would also have installation costs and some maintenance.

        Here is a dated example for a solar/generator system. I’m not sure it’s correct. http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com/the-true-cost-of-living-off-the-grid/
        I’m sure costs have come down since then, but the amortizing the system costs result in annual outlays an order of magnitude above utility service in most places. For $38K you couldn’t drive an air-conditioning in even modest homes without a lot of fossil fuel input.

        I’d love to know what an off-grid solar/battery system might cost based on the power needs it could meet. (And how huge it would have to be to support air conditioning?)

      • Peter Lang

        olar installations require inverters as well, so there can be cost saving pairing solar and battery systems.

        Fine for those who do not plan to use their car during charging hours (day time). Not much use for those who live in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia or Russia.

      • Thought I posted this earlier, but not likely it went to moderation so I’ll try again. Moody’s did a report on home solar/battery system and said the battery costs need to go down an order of magnitude before they impact the grid. Also they will require lifestyle changes.

        https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-Despite-falling-battery-costs-consumers-unlikely-to-defect-from–PR_315969

      • jim2 | May 1, 2015 at 7:46 am |
        This seems an appropriate place for this question. I’ve seen $13,000 for the Tesla Powerwall battery. On other sites I see $3,000-3,500 for INSTALLERS.

        Does anyone know the story here? Obviously, there is a lot more than a battery to make a complete system. Also, I understand if used alone, it would supply only 10 hours of electricity.

        Anyone have any true understanding of this?

        A Tesla Battery is 10KW-H. It weighs 220 pounds. It is basically a UPS for your house. Tesla claims the typical house uses 30kW-H per day. That is basically the equivalent of a ladies 1200W hair dryer running all the time. Typical home electrical service is 200 amps 220V.

        Found this:

        Tesla is aiming for a $3500 price point, that seems achievable. Installation for a basic system should be $200-300 same as cable TV if you had to pay for a clean install out of pocket.
        http://www.zoro.com/eaton-grid-tie-solar-inverter-7kw-pv270/i/G6841046/
        A 35 amp power inverter (the interface between the batteries, AC mains, and the house mains) is about $5000.

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2015/05/01/after-all-tesla-motors-unveils-the-powerwall/
        “Powerwall is meant, Tesla says, “to give customers the flexibility to draw energy from their own reserve.” It consists of a lithium-ion battery pack, liquid thermal control system and software that receives dispatch commands from a solar inverter.”

        The Tesla literature says you can daisy chain their battery units if you need more power.

        The way this works is the AC mains have to be pulled out of the power panel, routed to an inverter (which also has battery connections), the output of which is run into the power panel instead of the AC mains.

        Your AC is about 25 amps, the electric dryer is on a 30 amps circuit. A smart person would break the heavy circuits out and put them in another power panel and have the inverter between the heavy and light power panels. This allows a smaller/cheap inverter to be used.

        10KW-H will run some CFL bulbs, a fridge, a laptop, and a TV for about a day. 10KW-H is 90 A-H.

        Power use by home appliances:
        http://www.georgiapower.com/in-your-community/electric-safety/chart.cshtml

        A Hotpoint 17.6 CF refrigerator HPS18BTHWW uses 399kWh per year. That is 1.1KW-H per day. Although it nominally burns about 500 W a refrigerator isn’t on that much of the time. On the other hand a 1200 W hair dryer (1.2 KW-H/H or 14.4KW-H/day) will only run for about 20 hours.

        Powerwall makes sense if you have wireless internet and satellite TV. It would also make sense for PEPCO users particularly with a gas furnace.

        The house mains and the AC mains have to be isolated by an inverter or your battery backup will power your neighbors houses too.
        The system is about 80 amps.

      • Peter Lang

        PA,

        Thank you for all that interesting information. Can you summarise it in a way to answers these questions:

        1. What would be the purchase cost of the car and charging system?

        2. What would be the annual operating cost for a car that does say 10,000 km and say 20,000 km per annum?

        3. What would be the cost per km all costs and included for the life of the car and how does that compare with an equivalent petrol/gasolene car?

        4. What is the range on one charge?

        5. How long does it take to recharge (when away from home on a long trip).

        6. What important caveats would a buyer want to be aware of?

      • Peter Lang | May 1, 2015 at 7:59 pm |
        PA,

        Thank you for all that interesting information. Can you summarise it in a way to answers these questions:

        1. The Powerwall system as I read their description is for UPSing your house and has nothing to do with cars. It leverages their expertise with batteries and inverters. It could also allow you to download power when it is cheap and use it when it is expensive (assuming the utility is charging different rates by time of day). Although you could charge your car a little bit – the 40KW-H to 60KW-H battery pack of a Tesla S dwarfs the 10KW-H Powerwall system.

        In fact – if you had an inverter and a pair of jumper cables during blackouts you could use a fully charged Tesla S to run your house for a couple of days.

        2. N/A
        3. N/A
        4. N/A
        5. N/A
        6. What important caveats would a buyer want to be aware of?
        Don’t let your wife use a hair dryer or do laundry during a blackout.

        If you were interested in the economics of a Tesla car or building a home solar recharging station for your car I could look at that.

        The killer app add-on for a Tesla is a sunshield (those things that protect your dash) that plugs in to charge the battery. This could provide up to 10% of a full charge if you park your car right.

      • PA | May 1, 2015 at 9:50 pm |

        The killer app add-on for a Tesla is a sunshield (those things that protect your dash) that plugs in to charge the battery. This could provide up to 10% of a full charge if you park your car right.

        There are about 5000-6000 W-H of solar per day available. LA for example averages 6140 W-H per day (6.14 KW-H/day), but at the current 25% efficiency for solar panels the best you would get is 2.5% of a full charge.

      • Peter Lang

        How effective is the sunshield when the car is parked in a basement or multi level parking station, as most cars used for computing to work are during the day? :)

      • Peter Lang | May 1, 2015 at 10:41 pm |
        How effective is the sunshield when the car is parked in a basement or multi level parking station, as most cars used for computing to work are during the day? :)

        I used to toy with the idea of a self charging electric car. The Tesla S has the equivalent of about 8 square meters, it might have 70% pointing efficiency, with 25% efficient solar cells you are going to 8.4KWH per day.

        Since the 60KWH pack has a range of 208 miles that is about 29 miles.

        Interesting 235-240V and 40 Amp charger only charges at a rate of 20-25 miles per hour. 25 m/h is 7.2 KWH/H. The charger is consuming 9.4KWH/H. So 60 KWH pack charged from scratch at 8¢/KWH costs $6.27. If your car gets 30 miles to the gallon, compare your current gas cost to about 44¢/”gallon” for the Tesla S.

        And no – solar panels still don’t work in the dark.

      • Peter Lang

        PA,

        Thanks for all your comments and answers, but for me I am really only interested in the economic viability. Does it meet consumers requirements and what the average cost per km with all costs included: capital, depreciation, disposal, O&M and fuel? And how do these costs compared with an equivalent conventional car?

      • Well, the article wasn’t about a vehicle…

        But if we can agree on a vehicle, say a Tesla S with the 84KWH powerpack, I can do some sort of estimate.

        California has a tiered power system and there are claims of $29 / charge which is about $1.62 for 30 miles. Any particular state or city?

      • Peter Lang

        Hi PA,

        Choose any state you like. CA would be good, or average for USA. I expect there such analyses have already been done by authoritative sources. Has NREL or MIT done a cost comparison per km over 1, 3, 5, 10 years and LCA for the Tesla v an equivalent car? And for different km/year. Cost items (for the entire system the purchaser has to buy or lease or pay usage charges on) are:

        purchase cost
        discount rate
        finance rates
        depreciation
        operation and maintenance (including insurance)
        fuel

      • Re the Tesla Battery wall, here is how it looks to me as a time-shift technology, based on very incomplete info. (not sure this will drop into the intended spot)

        Assume the battery is $3,500 and the inverter and install are $1,500 for a total of $5,000. Assume the 10 KWH battery can be discharged 50% and recharged every day for 10 years before it dies: 3,600 cycles at 360/year, and assume the inverter will last forever.

        Each year you can time shift 1,800 KWH (360 x 5). If your $5,000 investment cost you 4% interest, then you are out $200 plus $350 battery depreciation each year, for a total of $550. If you save 10 cents per KWH shifted, then you only saved $180 against the annual $550. Your break even point is about 30 cents per each KWH shifted, but I pay less than 15 cents for a prime-time KWH. Not promising for me as a time-shift device.

      • sciguy54,
        Great analysis – I would simply point out that Tesla assuredly doesn’t take into account the opportunity cost of interest earnings as you pointed out. Equally, 4% is not achievable as a risk-free earning in this present environment.
        This doesn’t shift the conclusion you reached, but makes it close enough for Tesla sales and marketing to shift product – which is all they’re looking to do anyway. The whole Powerwall thing is just an additional way to monetize their massive battery infrastructure cost and perhaps lower their per-unit cost – because they really don’t sell many Teslas. It could also be viewed as a way to upsell features for existing Tesla buyers, as well as a way to harvest from the far more numerous numbers of people too poor to afford a Tesla.
        Lastly, there are some positive benefits: the Powerwall – much like most such battery technologies – is primarily a way of locking in future costs. If a deduction vs. income were to be made available, the equation would be compelling – and I’d be shocked if that wasn’t in the works…

    • Pooh, Dixie

      Thomas A. Edison:
      “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
      “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”

      http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3091287.Thomas_A_Edison

    • Peter Lang

      sciguy54

      What we need is to remove the massive impediments that are increasing the cost of developing things like this:
      http://www.uxc.com/smr/Library/Design%20Specific/mPower/Presentations/2012%20-%20Reactor%20Design%20Overview.pdf

      • There is a lot to like in the overview, especially the standardized design, short lead-time domestic procurement, and 3 year construction process. There will always be some gut reaction to U-235, and that resistance should be more proactively anticipated and spoken to… perhaps MPower intentionally structures this material in a way which allows for an external campaign to do so.

        I get giggles out of the recent media portrayal of the political right as obstructionist. The signature move of the baby-boomer left was physical obstruction, i.e. the sit-in. This progressed to more sophisticated obstruction through the use (and abuse) of the courts. There is a reason why the Trial Lawyers Association became one of the top two contributors to the DNC.

        In the process our nation’s ability to innovate and change has withered dramatically. For example, in the 8 years from 1961 to 1969 we began and completed a moon project. This included the design/building of huge facilities in Houston, Huntsville, Michoud, Bay St. Louis, and Cape Canaveral. Waterways were built to to connect the latter three, including the western Florida Intracoastal and trans-Florida waterways. A word-wide communication and control network was designed and built. Entire fields of science, technology, and computing were integrated and advanced. Huge new rockets were designed, built and tested. Largely by slide-rule and hands-on work. For a few billion per year. And at the same time we did the bulk of the work towards the build-out of a fantastic interstate highway system, among other things.

        Today just the paperwork required to build the waterways would likely take longer and might cost more.

        We have come a long way. Today innovation in the US too often consists of fiddling with software and riding out waves remaining from technologies fostered in the 1960s. I have huge admiration for the true innovators who do still exist. They operate in a world which is flat and wide open in some ways, but tightly constrained in many others, especially here in the US.

      • Peter Lang

        sciguy54,

        Great comment. Thanks.

        Regarding this:

        For a few billion per year. And at the same time we did the bulk of the work towards the build-out of a fantastic interstate highway system, among other things.
        Today just the paperwork required to build the waterways would likely take longer and might cost more.

        Licencing of the mPower will cost $1 billion (in 2012 $) and take 10 years. Design changes for nuclear power plants are also cost exorbitantly expensive and take years. It’s no wonder rate of development has slowed since the 1970’s as regulatory ratcheting ramped up costs and time to completion. And for what purpose – to delay the development and roll out of the safest way to generate electricity. How does the Left justify no providing safer electricity technologies?

        Imagine where the passenger air travel industry would be now, and the costs per passenger mile, if equivalent “safety only, costs not our problem” regulatory requirements and culture applied to the air passenger industry.

      • Peter Lang

        sciguy54,

        In the process our nation’s ability to innovate and change has withered dramatically. For example, in the 8 years from 1961 to 1969 we began and completed a moon project.

        And 70 years ago the US built this in just 18 months (from moving first dirt to in operation). This was the first large nuclear reactor in the world and it went on and operated for over 25 years. Not only that, over that time rated power was progressively uprated by a factor of nine. That’s an enormous tribute to the engineers and their slide rules and it demonstrates what humans can do when not constrained by by those who oppose progress (predominantly the ‘Progressives’).

      • Peter Lang

        I forgot to include the link:
        ASME, Hanford B history:
        http://files.asme.org/ASMEORG/Communities/History/Landmarks/5564.pdf

        Imagine where we’d be now if not for 50 years of regulatory ratcheting caused by those who do all they can to block progress.

      • I don’t disagree with the description of the moon effort in the ’60s, but I will note that a few billion in the ’60s is vastly different than a few billion today.
        The entire US GDP in 1961 was $539B. $2B in 1961 was thus 0.37% of the entire US economy, whereas $2B today is 0.00013% – or in other words, the relative spending power is nearly 28 times different.

      • Transcription error – should be 0.013%, not 0.00013%

    • Great comments all around. Expecting a successful quick adaptation of new technology is unrealistic. But even if you argue that catastrophic consequences demand such action, you should be upfront and realize that all kinds of tinkering and unanticipated costs and consequences are likely and account for those at lease somewhat realistically in your projections. Renewables cost estimates have little to no contingency built into them, but are compared to known/proven technology which does. Granted cost over-runs can occur anywhere and performance sometimes does not meet projections, but not on the scale we continually see with clean energy projects.

  22. JC wrote:
    “I don’t think funding is the main source of bias among climate scientists; rather it is ideology and peer pressure.”

    Judith, how does your own ideology affect your scientific views on climate change?

    • Judith, how does your own ideology affect your scientific views on climate change?

      How about you answer the question first? The false-equivalence argument you’ve constructed fails pretty quickly.

      • I asked Judith the question precisely to point out the logical fallacy. Everyone in the world thinks they’re right and totally objective and their conclusions have nothing to do with their ideology. It’s only the OTHER guy who is biased.

        So how does Judith solve this problem? Otherwise, why should we believe her?

      • I talk about it and challenge people to consider what it means to be ethical, subject to groupthink, rethink how climate science deals with uncertainty, etc. If you are not aware of these things, it is more difficult to fight against them.

      • Judith, you are making judgements — that all those who see a lot of truth in AGW science are corrupt and unethical, but you are above reproach. It will only alienate you even more from the scientific community. It is a shameless attempt to sidestep the science, because you can’t produce better science that is convincing.

      • Judith, you are making judgements — that all those who see a lot of truth in AGW science are corrupt and unethical, but you are above reproach.

        In fact, she does no such thing.

        The above quote is an excellent example of an unethical scientific-sounding argument. You imply that she does not see “a lot of truth AGW science” and that she judges those who do. Two fallacies there: first, that “AGW science” sees things in a singular way, and second, that Dr. Curry does not accept any of it. Both statements are false, and you know that they are both false; thus, you are guilty of an intellectually dishonest argument. Which behavior is unethical.

        I think that perhaps you are projecting your own judgment of people who disagree with you onto her. I am impressed by the professional way Dr. Curry articulates her positions without the kind of personal attacks that I see from (for example) you.

        You could learn a great deal about scientific professionalism and ethics from Dr. Curry. Sadly, given the track record I have seen from you, that is not likely to happen.

      • @David Appell

        More convincing of what?

        This post seems to indicate that you are currently rather spectacularly missing the point of what Dr Curry has been discussing these last years.

        Firstly, how is it that you conclude Dr Curry believes “all” who see “truth” in AGW are corrupt and unethical? That’s not at all the impression I have formed from what she is saying. You have made unjustifiable leap from Judith questioning the very demonstrable advocacy of some alarmist scientists and their abuse of their “expertise” to her belief that anyone presenting science in that direction is doing the same thing.

        She most certainly isn’t, but she would be saying that scientists with opposing view points should be welcomed, and debate should be encouraged, not suppressed. Therefore, no inquisitions against “deniers” or even the perpetuation of the meme that people who disagree with you are “denying” the science.

        And how is she “sidestepping” producing better science? Firstly, she has recently been involved in two peer reviewed papers, one assessing climate sensitivity in the light of recent instrumental data, and the other proposing a mechanism for how climate phenomena can be connected over decadal timescales. You may well question whether either of these papers are “better” than science you happen to agree with, but who could be said to be “judging” then?

        And even if she hadn’t brought out interesting science, how does that not make the arguments regarding scientists behaving ethically not valid? We have heard the term “motivated reasoning” quite a lot on this board, but if you examine your comment, that is exactly what it looks like to me.

        You don’t like the implication that scientists who are vocal about “consensus” science, and with whom you agree, have behaved unethically. And it’s demonstrably true, but the point she makes is that when scientists overstate their case, or (and perhaps more importantly) when society asks for judgements from them that are beyond what they can reasonably make, when it transpires they were wrong it undermines confidence in the science more generally.

        I don’t see how addressing these issues will alienate her from the scientific community – that would be utterly disgraceful if it we’re true. Just the opposite – I believe most scientists, like most people, would find this would resonate with them, and welcome public discussion about how to think about this. She believes, and I think she is right, most scientists get on with their work without speaking publicly as an advocate for one position or another, and I further think probably feel very uneasy about the behaviour of some of those that do. Discussion of these issues is important when dealing with the frontiers of knowledge and deep implications for society.

    • Judith’s ideology is probably very much like yours and the rest of your crowd, davey. It’s her approach to the science that’s different. She spotted the flaws and the dishonesty in the dogma years ago, and she did free herself from the shackles of institutionalized confirmation bias and the fear of persecution.

      You can follow her progress by reading through Judith’s Posts from the Past. See if you can spot the epiphany. There’s a nice cookie in it for you.

      A couple more years of the pause, another pathetic Climate Inaction Junket or two and you will lose faith, davey. It will hurt for a while. The way you are hooked, it will be a long while.

    • Dr. Appell, you are making a false argument. Judy has already taken her position and let other scientists judge as they may. She paid a price being dubbed a heretic and a denier. She always points to her own fallability. In pointing out with the paper with Nic Lewis that the models are running hot as seen in actual observation doesn’t mean she has stopped thinking that it is a wicked problem full of uncertainty. She has written that time and again. The same is true with with the Stadium Wave hypothesis. She expects temperatures to remain flat because of it until the later part of the next decade unless a solar minimum transpires and a cooler climate persists. That doesn’t mean that it is certain it’s just a hypothesis.

      She stated that science institutions and individuals are not adhering to ethical principles by making alarmist statements and demanding drastic solutions. This could have drastic consequences for third world nations such as in Africa where they are rich in fossil fuels and need them to grow and curb poverty. If you think solar and wind will replace their dung burning then dream on. She is not being hypocritical in stating they should state uncertainty to their predictions to the public and the policy makers. She has done so even at the most recent committee hearing. She has also blogged here about her desire to see alternative energy replace fossil fuels but that the technology needs to catch up. She said that at the hearing and also mentioned nuclear. You have falsely acussed her of a double standard that she has gone out of her way to avoid. You probably owe her an apology. Sure she has her biased positions but has always expressed them in terms of the wickedness of the problem and uncertainty of her predictions.

    • Appell, Judith believes in AGW. She is not sidestepping anything. You’re point seems to be that “anyone can say that.” Well yes, but only a few have scientific credentials that give them credibility.

    • David,

      I don’t always think I’m right. I simply try to be so a bit more often than I’m not and figure I’m ahead in the game.

      I also don’t consider myself to be totally objective. I am very well aware of my filters and biases.

      So how is it you always come across as if you are “right” whenever you discuss climate change? My personal opinion is that you check your reasoning and objectivity at the door and don your holy attire whenever the subject is The Gospel of Global Warming.

    • Danny Thomas

      Nice.
      This coming from the guy who asked about Dr. Curry’s funding/income and with the exception of her choice not to name specific clientele (as that information is proprietary to her business)? I’ll ask again for a link to an article which details her disclosure to you (and she’s also done so in testimony to congress), and can only presume a journalist with ethics and unbiased ideology would respond. Somehow, I fear dealing with an ideologue will leave us still lacking said link as an article does not exist.

      Glass houses and stone throwing?

    • Craig Loehle

      David Appell: Being aware of possible bias is the only way to guard against it, as in the famous quote by Feynman. Judith nowhere says all climate scientists are biased. However, bias is evident when certain scientists (can’t give examples, I might get sued) will never admit they are wrong, act certain about their forecasts (even as IPCC changes the numbers for forcing quite a bit between AR4 and AR5, even as they struggle to explain the pause you don’t think exists, even as model vs data divergence continues), and make extreme pronouncements about shutting down all coal plants (Hansen) and convince governments including the US and GB and World Bank to not fund coal plants in Africa. Are you ok with those consequences?
      I really resent you calling Judith’s work “sleazy” by the way. Is that journalism? You think even raising the question of uncertainty and bias is sleazy?

  23. Appell, What I sense is that Judith is an independent thinker who is approaching retirement and doesn’t care about peer pressure. I have not detected any political ideology in Judith’s very long record at this blog. I have gone through something similar and so I am quite sympathetic to here point of view.

    One of the underlying correlations here is that those who are left of center tend to regard science as pure and a source of authority. Those right of center are very suspicious of the science establishment.

    The only way these can meet is for science to clean up its act and become worthy of respect. Medicine has this problem too. They recognize they have a problem. Climate science is too arrogant and ideological to admit that. That’s a big problem.

    • So Judith is an “independent thinker,” but not one else can be??

      Sorry, that just doesn’t wash. It sounds like what it is — an attempt to win the debate by sidestepping the science.

      Winning the debate is easy — provide convincing evidence and convincing science. That’s all it takes, for Judith or Willie Soon or anyone.

      • David Springer

        Any sidestepping going on is of physical measurements.

        No significant surface warming in past 18 years despite 11% increase in atmospheric CO2 over the same period.

        How is this explained in terms of consensus CO2 control knob hypothesis?

      • Of course it doesn’t wash David. It can’t because you are conviced that your version of the story is the true one. So convinced that when folks here clearly and irrefutably demonstrate how false your comments are regarding Judith, you pull a Ken Rice and dodge to another point.

    • Thanks David, this is a pretty good reading. I no longer worry about peer pressure or research funding, which I regard as a major source of bias. At one point (say for 2 years) i fell for the UNFCCC/IPCC ideology; I no longer do. Politically I am independent, and I don’t have any allegiance to any of the U.S. political parties. I go to a lot of effort to illuminate sources of bias.

      • So what ideology do you fall for now, Judith?

        Please don’t pretend you don’t have one, that you’re somehow independent and superior to all of the other scientists out there on the side of consensus. They have their reasons for their positions, too, and implying otherwise is a huge, sleazy insult to all of them.

      • There is nothing wrong with ideology per se – it is the ideologues that are the problem: absence of doubt, intolerance of debate, appeal to authority, desire to convince others of the ideological truth, a willingness to punish those that don’t concur.

        This topic was discussed at length on two recent threads: uncertainty monster and bjorn stevens.

      • Don Monfort

        Keep at it, davey. Maybe you can badger her into admitting that she has sold out to Big Oil. How is the freelance science journalism thing going, davey? Getting enough to eat?

      • Judith

        ” I go to a lot of effort to illuminate sources of bias.”

        Valuable. Kahneman, in his forward, said that his main goal was to create a vocabulary so that we can discuss bias. We all are all blind to our own bias, so it is necessary for us to talk to each other about it and be prepared to take feedback gracefully. Powerful egos, insecurity, and the corrupting influence of funding hinder the process.

        IMO, climate science in the US is one election away from a funding crisis.

    • David Young,

      I have not detected any political ideology in Judith’s very long record at this blog. …

      One of the underlying correlations here is that those who are left of center tend to regard science as pure and a source of authority. Those right of center are very suspicious of the science establishment.

      The only way these can meet is for science to clean up its act and become worthy of respect. … Climate science is too arrogant and ideological to admit [there is a problem]. That’s a big problem.

      I agree 100%,

      I’d add to this: “Those right of center are very suspicious of the science establishment.” Bring a great deal of experience and expertise from real work operations, negotiations, diplomacy, business, finance, engineering, economics, policy advice, and more. The Left of centre tend to be from academia, public sector and other tax-payer funded employees. The right of centre are appropriately sceptical and seem to be doing what science should be doing – but don’t have the massive government funding to put up satellites and build, operate massively expensive computer games.

    • I have wondered why so many skeptical scientists are professors emeritus, nearing retirement, or otherwise difficult to intimidate. Consider, for example, Ed Lorenz discussing the limits of predictability.

      Perhaps I am too cynical, but given that most of the peer reviewed articles are funded by government or NGOs, new scientists might be inclined to go along to get along.

  24. It is one thing to listen to experts, but it is another thing to misrepresent them to the public. Lamar Smith misrepresented them in his WSJ op-ed, for example.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/30/lamar-smith-climate-change_n_7183314.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

    • thx for spotting this, i’ve been looking for it. Pretty weak tea.

    • I didn’t see the op-ed itself, but it looks like Lamar Smith was trying to use the IPCC to rebut Obama’s climate statements. He did not do this accurately according to factcheck.org, but at least he did use the IPCC report for expertise, which is a step in the right direction.

      • Are those the alleged factcheck clowns who only fact check Republicans, yimmy? This is the kind of crap we expect you to get from your huffpo handlers, yimmy:

        http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2013/05/28/study-finds-fact-checkers-biased-against-republicans

      • Here is the link to his op-ed, based on the recent hearing where I testified
        http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-climate-change-religion-1429832149

      • I am not a subscriber, so I don’t get to see it until some embargo time is over, I guess.

      • Pretty cheesy to make a big deal about something you didn’t even read or make an effort to get a copy of.

      • I read factcheck’s comments on it and that is what I commented on. Factcheck went further than the article and asked him for the sources of his statements, so in that sense it was more thorough.

      • Jim D-

        You can get around most media paywalls – and certainly can in this case – by copying the url into a google search, then linking from the search results.

      • David Springer

        Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy….

        Does IPCC have a vested interest in climate change being a matter of great public concern? Does the climate research community have a vested interest in it?

        Follow the money, Jimmy. Take the opinions of those holding a vested interest with a grain of salt.

        There may have been a time nearer the turn of the millennium when there was principled belief in likely catastrophic global warming by the above vested groups. Now, after 18 years of no significant surface temperature rise despite an 11% increase in CO2 during that time, principled belief appears unlikely to the outside observer. What it appears now is an increasingly panicky hope that warming will resume before reputations and funding in the climate research establishment go the way of the Dodo.

        Long live the pause! heheh

      • You can take a year like 1998 that was 0.3 C warmer than the trend line, and if the trend is 0.2 C per decade, you can construct a 15-year pause by starting at it, and that is what they are doing. Bad statistics and cherry picking. Without 1998, they got nuthin’. They hang their pause on it.

      • David Springer

        You are in denial Jimmy.

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/last:180/plot/rss/last:180/trend

        This is the last 180 months (15 years) which excludes 1998. The trend line is flat as a pancake little buddy.

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/last:180/plot/uah/last:180/trend/detrend:0.133

        Here is UAH which shows a trend of 0.65C/decade (0.133/2).

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/last:180/plot/uah/last:180/trend/detrend:0.133

        Average of RSS and UAH is 0.32C/decade which is statistically insignificant.

        I admire your perseverance in clutching at straws. Maybe someday you’ll latch onto something more solid. In the meantime little buddy don’t bet more than you can afford to lose on the CAGW hypothesis.

      • Jim D,

        Did you see Elon Musk’s press release on the new home powerwall? The future is going to happen faster than you thought. And, it will not be driven by government. If government had regulated ecommerce Ebay may never have gotten off the ground. If Ebay never was, Paypal would never have been. If not for Paypal Elon Musk would be doing a 9-5 job now (maybe for the government, keeping his head down and out of trouble.)

      • Home batteries are something I have always thought has promise because if everyone had one, we could use intermittent power to charge them, and it makes renewable energy more viable without so much need of backup.

      • Frankly. I am thankful that we finally have some adults in the room who are not simple minded fools doing a lot of hysterical arm waving about impending doom because we are using a resource that has elevated our standard of living, our health, and longevity to levels never achieved in the history of homo sapien. Maybe, yommy, you should actually read the original article and cone up with some factual refutation, unlink puffho illusory nonsensense.

  25. Judith, this would be a good discussion to cross-post over at CCNF. I know John N-G and Barry and I hope that some of the others over there might learn from these ethics guidelines. I would recommend bolding this part:

    “1. Never use rewards and punishments to stifle dissent within the community of experts. Rewarding mere conformity or punishing disagreement would seriously compromise the community’s quest for truth and hence its claim to be a community of experts. It should be equally obvious, however, that there will be a temptation to encourage conformity, both because professional consensus presents a better face to the public and also because of our natural tendency to see those who agree with us as more competent and more ethical than those who disagree with us.”

  26. Brian G Valentine

    Ethics Checklist for Climate “Expertise” in Government and Academia:

    !. Do all you need to to get your name out there in the media. Say anything you need to. Nobody is going to put you on TV unless you have some impending disaster to “warn” people about.

    2. Slander anybody who disagrees with you. Make abundant use of Twitter for that purpose.

    3. Make it clear that people don’t like what you say because of your “politics.” Right-wing “nut jobs” attack you because they think your are pandering to “liberal” politics.

    4. Government isn’t going to pay you ten cents for things they don’t want to hear.

    5. The only qualification you need to be a “climate expert” is agree enthusiastically that AGW is an impending disaster. So if somebody has the same “degree” as you (say in physics), and they have some “denier” smell about them – they’re a nobody mouthing off about things they know nothing about.

    sorry I can’t help myself some days

    • Is it possible to exaggerate about Australia’s climate charlatans, Brian?

      Our national broadcaster’s chief science communicator some years back:

      “Robyn Williams: Well, whether you take the surge or whether you take the actual average rise are different things.

      Andrew Bolt: I ask you, Robyn, 100 metres in the next century…do you really think that?

      Robyn Williams: It is possible, yes. The increase of melting that they’ve noticed in Greenland and the amount that we’ve seen from the western part of Antarctica, if those increases of three times the expected rate continue, it will be huge.”

      This was stimulated by Tim Flannery’s earlier remarks: “Picture an eight-storey building by a beach, then imagine waves lapping its roof.”
      “Anyone with a coastal view from their bedroom window, or their kitchen window, or whereever, is likely to lose their house as a result of that change, so anywhere, any coastal cities, coastal areas, are in grave danger.”

      The year after that last comment Flannery bought Hawkesbury real estate four or five metres from the edge of tidal waters. Five years on, after claiming evidence of dangerous sea level rise was even more solid…he bought the place next door! (Shortly after that he told journos things weren’t quite so bad, and his properties were okay for this century.)

      Then there’s the $90 million given by the Labor government for Flannery’s geothermal dream. People in a better mood than me might like to check the progress of Geodynamics, which, but for our Flannery-inspired desals, would probably rate as our greatest air-swing in the climate bungles.

      No, this is not a Jerry Lewis movie. Flannery and Williams actually exist.

      • Brian G Valentine

        Tim Flannery and Christine Milne have demonstrated just how far people can go with the absolutely minimal capabilities.

        They are undoubtedly inspirational to slackers everywhere.

      • The problem is when these high profile unethical statements are made and are found to have been baseless it harms entire fields and our society as a whole. It even is geopolitical toxic. One must think about the poor, uneducated masses in the third world having it become ingrained in their culture that all bad weather is the result of careless and selfish westerners. It is not repaired by explaining later than when we had promised the trillions in aid it was back before we learned we were mistaken about our theories.

  27. Karl Popper in ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol 1,
    cites Plato in The Republic advocating a necessary lie of
    the metals in men, a ‘noble lie’ that must be told in order
    to maintain Plato’s unchanging hierarchical Utopia, a lie
    that hopefully future philosopher kings will come to
    believe themselves. (OS Ch8.)

    Popper argues that if Western open society is to retain
    hard won democracies we need to break the habit of
    ‘uncritical deference to great men.’

    Say, does does that include Tetlock’s ‘experts?’

  28. When will the silent scientists come out? The problem, as Judith states, goes beyond funding (as big as it is). A lot of scientists are neo-Malthusians where they cannot conceive of growing population, non-depleting resources, economic substitution, and wealth-is-health.

    • Brian G Valentine

      I know a number of “silent” scientists in Government, they think AGW is a colossal farce, I asked them to put their name to the Inhofe list, they declined, “didn’t want the possible retribution.”

      Who knows, maybe they’re right. I have had my share of it – with no fun defending myself.

  29. Ethics of academia: John Roskam, IPA, on Lomborg’s appointment:

    … The reaction of university academics to the Abbott government’s decision to provide $1 million to fund a branch of Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre at the University of Western Australia demonstrates all that’s wrong with Australia’s universities. Their culture tends to be distrustful, insular and choked in unthinking intellectual uniformity. That’s why the number of Australian researchers who rival Lomborg’s global renown can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Probably the closest any Australian comes to having anything like Lomborg’s international standing in the field of philosophy and policy is the ethicist Peter Singer now at Princeton University. (Singer who supports infanticide in some circumstances was voted one of Australia’s most outstanding public intellectuals. He’s also been awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia, the country’s second-highest honour.)

    Instead of welcoming a world-class public policy thinker coming to Australia and to their university, academics and students at the University of Western Australia are outraged. The vice-president of the university’s staff association talked of having the funding revoked, while the student guild launched a ‘Say No to Bjorn Lomborg’ campaign.

    Lomborg’s problem is he’s a climate “contrarian”. As the The Guardian newspaper has helpfully pointed out a climate “contrarian” is someone who is not a climate “denialist” but who nevertheless says things that “infuriate” people who believe climate change is the world’s most serious and urgent problem. And the reason we know Lomborg is not a “denialist” is because the university’s vice-chancellor says so. At a meeting last week of 150 angry academics the vice-chancellor attempted to placate his staff by reassuring them Lomborg most definitely wasn’t a “denialist” and his institution “had a history of defending its climate change research staff against the most extreme views of climate change deniers”. (There’s no record of the vice-chancellor defining what he meant by the term “denialist”. Presumably his university doesn’t employ any.)

    Lomborg believes humans are causing the climate to change and he believes it’s a problem. But he also believes that much of the money spent on fighting climate change would be better spent on overcoming malaria and HIV/Aids and assisting the 700 million people on the planet who don’t have clean water. These views apparently make Lomborg unfit to hold a position at the University of Western Australia. As yet it’s not clear what Lomborg would have to believe to satisfy the staff and students of the university.
    In The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom examines how the teaching of humanities has been affected by postmodernism and moral relativism. For Bloom, what’s even worse is that so many academics think the same things and they won’t tolerate anyone disagreeing with them. …

    http://ipa.org.au/news/3285/walking-into-a-climate-of-conformity

    For the record, I think highly of Lomborg and lowly of Singer.

  30. Experts don’t need ethics. In general, they suffer no adverse personal consequences if they are mistaken.
    If a person is deprived of liberty for many years, or even executed, on the basis of expert testimony later shown to be erroneous, the expert feels no compunction to return their fee. No accountability whatsoever.

    Two experts with two different opinions, both get paid. Ethical? Moral?

    Might just as well waste billions of dollars following the expert climatological advice of a mammalogist to build desalination plants. Surely, that couldn’t really happen, could it?

    • “Two experts with two different opinions, both get paid. Ethical?”

      Here’s an idea by the late Michael Crichton to make lemonade of the lemons. Fund opposing experts to state their hypothesis in and then have them go out and gather their data. After their analysis is done they are to publish their findings simultaneously and publicly with their data.

      In this way they are in competition, creating a mutual benchmark of competence and self-check. Although it doubles the up front investment one gets 10X dividends in results that can be universally trusted if they concur. Right now one sides results are trusted as much as an unopened pack of gum found on the sidewalk. A resource that is untrustworthy is worthless.

    • I don’t agree. I’ve been called to provide input, as an expert, into large decisions. Sometimes these decisions involved job losses for lots of people, or making a large investment in a country with serious human rights violations. I assure you, I twisted and turned and didn’t get any sleep whenever these things happened. I had one boss who told me I took it too personal and felt everybody was family, that we needed to be more unemotional. But I know he too had a hard time when we had to make a call. I think the people who sail through these events and don’t feel the impact are a bit psychopathic.

    • Fernando Leanme,

      I agree with you, on a personal basis. In a presumably similar situation, I have tried to provide alternatives. If pressed, I indicate my preference, with reasons if required.

      Howeve, my point is that even if I am wrong, my salary continues unabated. I know I should have said no adverse financial consequences, even though some could justifiably quibble.

      Apart from some instances, such as the Italian geologists, experts suffer no pecuniary or physical consequences for their opinions, – such as lopping off fingers, blinding, incarceration, and so on.

      Like you, I take things personally. However, expert opinions are just that. Opinions. For every opinion, there is at least one equal and opposite opinion. My opinions count for nothing, if the facts decree otherwise. I think we agree, but I accept my expression might have been a bit defective.

      Maybe we just have to agree to disagree. No harm done, I hope!

  31. Judith –

    ==> “This behavior has resulted in a colossal loss of public trust to the community of climate scientists. [link]

    What is your evidence for this claim? The closest I’ve seen is this:

    http://environment.yale.edu/climate-communication/files/Climategate_Opinion_and_Loss_of_Trust_1.pdf

    Which despite the wording in the abstract, actually shows a relatively insignificant effect when you consider the broad cross-section of the public, and one that is concentrated in those who are ideologically predisposed towards climate “skepticism.” Their data are not longitudinal (of the sort that would be needed to support your claim), and aren’t controlled for a form of “recall” bias where “skeptical” respondents might claim a change in view where there was no actual change. Meanwhile, polling shows those institutions that you criticize as being the ones in which the public places the greatest trust for their expertise related to climate change.

    Please demonstrate an ethical approach to your “synthetic expertise” on the issue of public trust in climate scientists, by presenting the evidence in support of your claim. I have asked this many times, and you have yet to present data.

    • David Springer

      I don’t know about massive but 10% of fence sitters (luke warmers, mixed middle, etc) became cool skeptics while percentage of concerned believers (alarmists) gained none.

      Skeptics are winning Jimmy. You need to up your game little buddy.

    • Joshua,

      http://www.marklynas.org/2015/02/even-in-2015-the-public-doesnt-trust-scientists/

      “The data reveals a huge and growing gulf between what scientists and the public believes about vaccines, animal research, genetically modified food, climate change and more.”

      “There is a much larger gap on climate change: 87% of the AAAS say it is caused by human activity, compared to 50% of the public.”

      THE DATA IS SUPPLIED BY PEW RESEARCH

    • Hmmm, does responding to Josh end up in moderation? TEST

    • Josh it may be possible that you and I could agree on the last paragraph?

      “Effective governance in a democratic society depends on voters being able to make choices based on accurate information. If the voices of scientific experts continue to be drowned out by those idealoges, whether by the left or the right, America risks moving even further away from the Enlightenment values on which the republic was founded. Such a shift would harm everyone, whether or not they believe the earth is warming.”

  32. Judith,

    The pressures to conform to the consensus are enormous.

    Do you ever consider that this is kind of how science is meant to work. Okay, to be clear, I’m not suggesting that conforming is how it is meant to work, but that if you’re going to hold a contrary position, it’s meant to be difficult and challenging to get your work considered. In a sense, the consensus position is the position that is supported by most of the evidence. If you want to illustrate that this position is incorrect/flawed/wrong then the onus is on you to provide the convincing evidence for that alternative, and it’s not meant to be easy.

    • …and Then There’s Physics | May 1, 2015 at 3:58 am |
      In a sense, the consensus position is the position that is supported by most of the evidence.

      Uhhh…Noooo. Don’t know what evidence has to do with it; sounds more like mob rule!

    • Jest what evidence might that be …attp? Lay the goddam
      cards on the goddam table. Data, data, data rules. We’re
      not talkin’ about models here. Models are jest guesses,
      surmises made by Lady of Shallot tenured modellers in
      cloud towers ………….and costin’ us heeps $$$$$$$$$$$

      Back ter the goddam fields!

      • I think you’re both rather missing the point. I wasn’t making a climate science specific argument, but suggesting that – in general – taking a contrary position should be difficult. It shouldn’t be – and isn’t – easy to overturn accepted scientific ideas.

      • Evasive, put yer data cards on the goddam table!
        Cloud innuendo don’t count. Tsk!

      • Aw go on attp, make with the data, make my day. )

      • Maybe you could first illustrate that you actually understand what I’m suggesting. Would seem pointless to continue if you don’t.

      • ATTP,

        The concept of the weight of evidence is foreign to them.

        What we have at work here, to a great extent, is a comic book version of science; a single finding from a single study over-turning all previous understandings.

        But as most sensible peope know, the cimate ‘skeptics’ are mostly political/ideological sceptics, so the science is all rather secondary.

      • Goin’ down ter ‘ Gin’ a-t-t, – er, -P.
        Show – us – yer – cards!

      • He’s got nothin’, Beth. Obviously.

      • He’s got nothin’, Beth. Obviously.

        Possibly, but that’s mainly because I have no idea why what you appear to be saying has anything to do with what I’ve said.

      • Faites vos jeux, mesdames et messieurs.

        Data, attp.That’s what it’s all about, in the
        world of physics as in cards on the table
        cowboy movies. Hammurabi rules and you
        lose.

      • No Jim, if he had, ]he’d produce it,
        a royal flush, three aces, but
        not even a pair of deuces. Fft.

      • Returning to yr original statement demanding evidence from
        the null, attp. The null hypothesis is a default position that’s
        generally assumed ter be true until ‘evidence’ indicates other
        wise. Simples, yet yer can’t, or won’t, attp, lay – yr – data –
        cards – on – the – table. So m’dear, ‘nullius in verba ter yer .

        Lucky yer not in a Clnt Eastwood movie.

      • …and Then There’s Physics | May 1, 2015 at 5:31 am |
        I think you’re both rather missing the point. I wasn’t making a climate science specific argument

        Nor was I making a scientific specific point. It shouldn’t be any more “difficult and challenging” to tell the truth than it should be to tell a lie just because the lie is popular.

    • ATTP, I left you a comment in your blog, do with it as you wish.

    • Yeah, especially when ypur work subjects you to being labeled a denier and a heratic.

      • Not really sure what your point is.

      • You said it was not meant to be easy and I agreed with an example. Judy has had her work accepted such as showing the models are running hot with Nic Lewis and the Stadium wave. It seems some in the consensus world choose instead to discredit her with insults and labels.Quite a chivalrous group.

    • David Springer

      …and Then There’s Physics | May 1, 2015 at 3:58 am | Reply

      “if you’re going to hold a contrary position, it’s meant to be difficult and challenging to get your work considered”

      And if it does manage to sneak through to a journal it should be hard for the editor of that journal to keep his job.

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/27/the-tribalistic-corruption-of-peer-review-the-chris-de-freitas-incident/

      Google “chilling effect” a$$hat.

      • a$$hat.

        Classy as usual, David. Maybe try a resource other than WUWT? Okay, sorry, I’m being silly, why would you want to challenge your pre-conceived ideas?

      • David Springer

        Ken Rice is non-responsive as usual. First he plays the tone troll (classy). Then he attempts to shoot the messenger (Watts). Then he closes without addressing the issue of tribalism in peer review.

        Thanks for playing, Rice. You live up to my exceedingly low opinion of you every time.

    • ATTP – scientists are people and therefore subject to social pressures. This is how people work. Science, however, is designed to minimize the social aspects. This is necessary if science is to remain distinct from religion or other social structures that are less than notable for discovering truth.

      • Sure, the scientific method is indeed designed to minimise (or correct for) the fact that science is done by humans who feel social pressures and have their own biases (acknowledged, or not). However, the scientific method would also tend to make it more difficult to present work that is contrary to the accepted position, because the accepted position is typically the position that has the most supporting evidence. So, again, my suggestion was that rather than there being pressure to conform, the scientific method makes it difficult (as it should) to overturn the accepted position. It shouldn’t be easy.

      • ATTP – I believe your emphasis on the easy-hard spectrum is misplaced. What has happened in reality is that data has contradicted the theories of the day. Data is one of those crucial elements that sets science apart from religion and other social structures not noted for ferreting out the truth.

      • jim2,
        Okay, but you’re then suggesting that a vast majority of professional scientists are simply not accepting evidence that you regard as contradicting the basic theory that they regard as correct? Okay, anything is possible. If I accept that there is some small chance that this is indeed the case, will you at least consider the possibility that it isn’t quite as obvious as you think, that the data doesn’t quite contradict the theory (i.e., you over-state the significance) and that a large group of professional scientists are not simply suffering from a form of groupthink?

      • I see you have shifted focus from science in general to climate science. The problem specifically with climate science is precisely that it is a wicked problem. Scientists “believe” that man generated CO2 will cause a catastrophe, but they don’t have scientific proof. It is more of an expert opinion. Due to the complexity of climate science, the various hypotheses and data have a greater range of interpretation than presented by something like, for example, the ultraviolet catastrophe.

      • …and Then There’s Physics | May 1, 2015 at 8:24 am |
        However, the scientific method would also tend to make it more difficult to present work that is contrary to the accepted position, because the accepted position is typically the position that has the most supporting evidence

        “the accepted position is typically the position that has the most supporting evidence” is only one of many possibilities. Others might be the position supported by the most $s, the people with the loudest voice, the most power, the largest barrel of ink (now that serfs can read), or the biggest stick, among other possibilities. Your argument basically enables con artists.

      • ==> “Scientists “believe” that man generated CO2 will cause a catastrophe,”

        Always interesting how often we find this distortion.

        Scientists believe that there is the potential for BAU to harmfully alter the climate.

      • Josh, only some scientists believe CO2 will lead to a catastrophe. Others believe the warming so far is likely natural. Some believe we don’t have enough data to tell if it’s mostly natural or mostly ACO2.

      • I see you have shifted focus from science in general to climate science.

        I was trying not to. Are you sure it was me?

      • “the accepted position is typically the position that has the most supporting evidence” is only one of many possibilities. Others might be the position supported by the most $s, the people with the loudest voice, the most power, the largest barrel of ink (now that serfs can read), or the biggest stick, among other possibilities. Your argument basically enables con artists.

        Sure, there are indeed many possibilities. I’m not quite sure how my argument (which wasn’t really an argument) enables con artists. They would have to be remarkably convincing con artists if they were to convince a large number of people, across a large number of countries, and for an extensive period of time.

      • jim2 –

        It’s interesting that you manage to reproduce the same error.

        ==> “Josh, only some scientists believe CO2 will lead to a catastrophe….”

        Some scientists believe that CO2 may lead to a catastrophe.

        Is it difficult for you to correct for that error?

    • ATTP,
      You say this is kind of how science is supposed to work.

      Define kind of. Now tell me why science is supposed to work this way or that way, You see, you can’t even define science, let alone define how it should work or not work.

      Natural philosophy, science, philosophy, or Nature. They don’t work one way or the other. Like the speed of light. or intelligence, or taxonomy, they just are.

      Either you are right, or you are wrong. “Opinion” and “kind of” seem irrelevant. Sorry about that. Just my opinion, kind of.

      • Either you are right, or you are wrong. “Opinion” and “kind of” seem irrelevant. Sorry about that. Just my opinion, kind of.

        Let me see if I can phrase it differently. Over-turning, or significantly changing, our scientific understanding is difficult. You not only need to provide convincing evidence for why your idea is correct, but you also need to explain why the others are not. My point, which I thought was straightforward, is that if you do hold a contrary position, it’s not going to be easy to convince people of that position. Hence, rather than there being pressure to conform with the consensus, isn’t it simply more likely that it’s just difficult to overturn it – as it should be? Okay, I suspect many here will disagree, but it is certainly my position that the latter is more likely than the former.

      • ATTP,

        You haven’t defined science or kind of.

        However, my position is that the Earth was created molten, and has cooled. You may hold a contrary opinion. I would be grateful if you could provide evidence to the contrary. You may be able explain why my understanding is incorrect, and provide a logical alternative scenario.

        Maybe the Earth was created cold, and has gradually heated. Maybe heat crept into the interior, without heating the surface. Maybe it was created 6000 years ago. I don’t know.

        What’s your evidence that the Earth hasn’t cooled since its creation?

        I’m easily convinced, if I see new facts. What can you provide to overturn the current geophysical consensus?

      • David Springer

        No significant surface warming in 18 years despite an 11% rise in level of atmospheric CO2 during that time.

        Why should it be hard to get alternative warming hypotheses published in light of such devastating evidence to the contrary for the “consensus” CO2 hypothesis?

        My feeling is that allowing contrarian thought based on unequivocal evidence from our best instrumentation systems makes the science establishment look bad for insisting for so many years that the basic science of CO2 warming was settled and only the details remained to be filled in.

        ROFL – you boys gambled and lost. Tough break. If it you weren’t all academic weenies with tenure you’d be fired for gross incompetence at this point in time.

      • Mike,

        You haven’t defined science or kind of.

        I wasn’t really trying to. I was simply meaning a research area that focuses on understanding some kind of physical system at a fundamental level, be it the universe, stars, planets, our Earth,…. I don’t think that specifically defining science was all that important to my point. It could apply to any research area, really.

        However, my position is that the Earth was created molten, and has cooled. You may hold a contrary opinion. I would be grateful if you could provide evidence to the contrary.

        In a sense it did. The Earth had a lot of internal energy when it formed, initially from the release of gravitational potentially energy when the planetesimals collided to form the planet, and the release of gravitational potential energy when the denser material sank to the centre to form the largely metal core (differentiation). We’ve also been generating heat via radioactive decay.

        However, we’ve also been losing that internal heat over time and today it’s being lost at a rate of around 0.17W/m^2. Compared to the rate at which we’re receiving solar energy (240W/m^2 averaged over the whole planet’s surface) this is very small. The anthropogenic influence has also produced a planetary energy imbalance – today – of around 0.6W/m^2. Therefore the geothermal influence is miniscule compared to the influence of the Sun, and is even quite small compared to anthropogenic influences. It’s certainly not having much of an influence on our temperature or on our climate.

        I don’t know if that is the kind of evidence you were looking for.

      • …and Then There’s Physics | May 1, 2015 at 7:56 am |
        Over-turning, or significantly changing, our scientific understanding is difficult. …My point,… is that if you do hold a contrary position, it’s not going to be easy to convince people of that position

        Are you claiming that our climate is understood and it should be hard for me to say otherwise? You have to first claim that you understand our climate before you can claim CAGW. Good luck with that one.

      • …and Then There’s Physics | May 1, 2015 at 7:56 am |
        Over-turning, or significantly changing, our scientific understanding is difficult. …My point, which I thought was straightforward, is that if you do hold a contrary position, it’s not going to be easy to convince people of that position

        (sorry screwed up the italics first time)
        Are you claiming that our climate is understood and it should be hard for me to say otherwise? You have to first claim that you understand our climate before you can claim CAGW. Good luck with that one.

      • Are you claiming that our climate is understood and it should be hard for me to say otherwise? You have to first claim that you understand our climate before you can claim CAGW. Good luck with that one.

        No, I’m suggesting that there is a current level of understanding about which there is a large level of agreement. Of course, there are aspects about which there is much more agreement than others. My point was simply that if you want to argue for a different understanding, you will need to present convincing evidence of this different position. This should not be easy. That it is difficult is to be expected and is not necessarily some indication of a conspiracy to prevent you from presenting this alternative.

      • ATTP said “No, I’m suggesting that there is a current level of understanding about which there is a large level of agreement. Of course, there are aspects about which there is much more agreement than others. My point was simply that if you want to argue for a different understanding, you will need to present convincing evidence of this different position.”

        You seem to be under the impression that the burden of proof is on skeptics.

        This is not correct.

        The burden of proof is on your side.

        You see – the hypothesis that gives the range of 1.5C to 4.5C for climate sensitivity requires indirect feedback.

        The observations do not support the required level of indirect feedback (if any) and so the data directly counter the hypothesis.

        Currently the data only support direct effects of GHG’s – i.e. a CS of 1 to 1.2C from doubling CO2 from 280 ppm to 560 ppm.

        So your hypothesis is not supported by the data. Maybe that will change as we go forward and get more data – but so far (from 1880 to 2015), only the direct effects from CO2 going from 280 to 400 ppm are showing up in the data.

        It is clear from the data that at most 50% of the warming we have seen is caused by humans – which excludes most of the indirect feedback warming over 1.5C or so, which your hypothesis projects.

        Eventually your side will go back to the drawing board and rework the hypothesis so that the warming we have seen is 50% human and 50% natural – but until your side of the debate gives up the theory that all the warming since 1950 is due to humans, you will be making arguments which are just not supported by actual observations.

        Hence all of the excuses for why the pause doesn’t exist or we should really be looking at ocean heat content (I mean not what we can actually see, but what we assume is hidden down below 2000 meters).

        Your hypothesis is wrong and the burden of proof is on your side to show why these indirect feedback effects should add to the direct warming expected, which is not showing up as it is supposed to.

        I wish you luck.

      • You seem to be under the impression that the burden of proof is on skeptics.

        Nope, that is not what I’m suggesting.

      • ATTP: Well then I really don’t understand your appeal to the “large level of agreement”. I read your comments as saying the consensus is per say right and the skeptics have to show they are wrong.

        If that is not the case – then I misunderstood your comments.

      • Well then I really don’t understand your appeal to the “large level of agreement”. I read your comments as saying the consensus is per say right and the skeptics have to show they are wrong.

        No, I was trying to make a more general point about science/research. If there is a consensus position, then changing that position is not going to be easy. It will take effort and will require convincing evidence, both to illustrate why your position is correct and why the other is wrong. That people don’t immediately accept your alternative position, probably doesn’t imply some kind of conspiracy to silence you; it probably just means that your evidence is currently insufficiently convincing. I was also just referring to science specifically, rather than to policy, or to the science/policy interface.

      • ATTP,

        You say that the Earth cooled, in a sense. I say the Earth cooled, as a fact. As a matter of fact, according to the experts, the surface has cooled around 5,000K. I accept the expertise of geophysicists in this regard. I believe the experts who suggest that the current rate of cooling is coincidentally around 1 to 2 millionths of a degree C per annum.

        You may choose not believe this, of course. I merely point out that in spite of your figures, Nature has prevailed, and the Earth has managed has managed to cool quite a lot.

        A couple of minor points. The Earth is no more bathed by an average level of radiation any more than a cow is a torus. Averages in this sense are about as useful as averaging the numbers in a telephone directory. According to you, the Earth should have become hotter for the last 4.5 billion years. It hasn’t, so your calculations must be incorrect.

        You are correct that the Earth loses internal energy continually, however. This loss is called cooling, and is most evident over a few billion years, or even at night.

        If you can provide some facts, without including “kind of”, “in a sense”, or similar, and back these up with observed and reproducible data, rather than assertion and fabrication, I will change my opinions.

        So, in answer to your question, no, your obviously incorrect calculations do not count as evidence.

      • Mike,

        I say the Earth cooled, as a fact. As a matter of fact, according to the experts, the surface has cooled around 5,000K. I accept the expertise of geophysicists in this regard. I believe the experts who suggest that the current rate of cooling is coincidentally around 1 to 2 millionths of a degree C per annum.

        Well, yes, it has cooled, as I thought I had said. I’m not sure the by 5000K is correct. That seems too high. We are certainly losing geothermal energy at a rate that means the interior must be cooling, but the surface/atmosphere/oceans are almost certainly warming.

        The Earth is no more bathed by an average level of radiation any more than a cow is a torus.

        You can always write something as an average.

        According to you, the Earth should have become hotter for the last 4.5 billion years. It hasn’t, so your calculations must be incorrect.

        Nope, I didn’t say that.

        If you can provide some facts, without including “kind of”, “in a sense”, or similar, and back these up with observed and reproducible data, rather than assertion and fabrication, I will change my opinions.

        Oh, I really doubt you would.

        So, in answer to your question, no, your obviously incorrect calculations do not count as evidence.

        Well, of course you think this. I would have been surprised if you’d thought otherwise.

      • We are certainly losing geothermal energy at a rate that means the interior must be cooling, […]

        Last I’d heard, radiative decay and tidal heating could account for the entire amount of lost heat, at something a lot more like an “equilibrium” than anything having to do with climate can boast.

        Care to provide ref’s?

      • AK,

        Last I’d heard, radiative decay and tidal heating could account for the entire amount of lost heat, at something a lot more like an “equilibrium” than anything having to do with climate can boast.

        You can do your own searching, but – as I understand it – tidal dissipation is about 3 – 4 TW, geothermal flux is around 44TW. Most of the tidal dissipation is also – I think – in the oceans, so doesn’t replenish much of the lost geothermal energy. Radioactive decay certainly produces a great deal of the geothermal energy, but since this involves the decay of radioactive elements, the energy generation rate must be dropping with time (we don’t replace these elements). So, I can’t see how tidal + radioactive decay can be allowing us to maintain some kind of equilibrium. It is cooling slowly, but I do think it is cooling.

      • AK, “Last I’d heard, radiative decay and tidal heating could account for the entire amount of lost heat, at something a lot more like an “equilibrium” than anything having to do with climate can boast.”

        There are a couple of interesting things about how geothermal, anthro-thermal and tidal are considered in energy budgets. Any forcing would be amplified by about a factor of two by any greenhouse effect. Most times I have heard these other forcing discuss, that amplification isn’t. Only CO2 seems to get the amplification factor included.

        This also would impact internal variability estimates with the added twist that NH amplification is greater than SH amplification due to land ocean distribution. So while internal variability may average to zero over 208 +/-98 years (recent Stieg et al paper estimate), the NH phase of the variation would have a larger impact on GMST than the SH. That should produce up to about +/-0.29 C of GMST variation with virtually zero change in total internal energy.

        So if the Stieg et al paper is correct, I don’t think we have enough data to come much of any serious conclusions other than the Stadium Wave paper is a good starting point.

      • Capt,

        There are a couple of interesting things about how geothermal, anthro-thermal and tidal are considered in energy budgets. Any forcing would be amplified by about a factor of two by any greenhouse effect. Most times I have heard these other forcing discuss, that amplification isn’t. Only CO2 seems to get the amplification factor included.

        I’m confused by what you’re implying here. The forcings are typically computed relative to 1750 (i.e., changes since 1750). There is no reason to think that the tidal or geothermal fluxes today are significantly different to what they were in 1750. From an energy balance perspective the incoming fluxes are solar insolation (240W/m^2), geothermal flux (0.2W/m^2), tidal flux (0.02W/m^2), so geothermal and tidal are not only small relative to solar, but also likely no different today than they were in 1750. You can certainly include them, but they would just increase the net incoming flux by a few tenths of a W/m^2 (about a 0.1% effect). The biggest change since 1750 is anthropogenic (about 2 +- 1 W/m^2).

      • attp, “I’m confused by what you’re implying here. The forcings are typically computed relative to 1750 (i.e., changes since 1750). ”

        Based on an approximate GMST and a northern hemisphere dominated paleo reconstruction.

        Rosenthal, Oppo, Linsey and others focus on the tropics which should be a better indication of total internal energy. GMST is limited due to the real range of internal variability which includes a serious hemispheric amplification imbalance. It is a zeroth law thing.

        I believe Lorentz mentioned that “normal” variability can be pretty significant and reasonably chaotic.

      • attp also geothermal temperature reconstructions should also be a fair indicator of internal energy. They tend to agree with Rosenthal, Oppo and Linsey more than Mann et al.

      • Capt,
        Are you suggesting that surface temperature variations could be driven by variations in geothermal flux? Your figure shows something like a 0.8C change in temperature. This is associated with a 2.6W/m^2 change in outgoing flux. This is 10 times bigger than the geothermal flux today, so seems implausibly large.

      • attp, “Are you suggesting that surface temperature variations could be driven by variations in geothermal flux?”

        no, I am suggesting that there are a number of 2nd and 3rd order effects that can produce larger than expected variations in surface temperature when synchronized. In my opinion (since you seem to have issues with that), if you are going to use GMST as a reference you must determine the potential range of variability before you assume anything else. A better option to GMST is sub-surface temperature, i.e. geothermal or ocean bulk temperatures. Chasing noise phantoms is all too common, exciting but not very productive.

      • Most of the tidal dissipation is also – I think – in the oceans, so doesn’t replenish much of the lost geothermal energy.

        Well, I wasn’t really interested in the magnitudes, just including it to cover all bases. I was referring, however, to tidal energy expended in the inelastic deformation of the mantle, and perhaps the liquid core.

        The point is that despite the fact that the rate of radioactive decay is slowly dropping (tidal energy also, although that appears to be many orders of magnitude smaller), an equilibrium could well exist as long as the settling time (i.e. the transient response to long-term changes in radiative decay) is very small compared to those long-term changes in radiative decay.

        Which, AFAIK, it is, since any original radioactives that still survive in sufficient quantity to contribute to the Earth’s energy budget must have half-lives measured in hundreds of megayears, at least. (Intermediates don’t count, of course, since they will always be in equilibrium, barring some sort of “natural nuclear pile”.)

        And that, in turn, means that the Earth’s internal energy budget will always be effectively at equilibrium. One (very small AFAIK) possible exception would be changes to tidal heating of the Mantle due to “a strong coupling between the production of heat by tidal anelastic friction and the heat transfer by thermal convection and conduction […], leading in some extreme cases like on Io to a thermal runaway.” I doubt such “thermal runaway” has any relevance to Earth; Běhounková et al. don’t seem to think so. But you probably know more about that subject than I do.

      • AK,

        And that, in turn, means that the Earth’s internal energy budget will always be effectively at equilibrium.

        I’m not sure I’m following you. When the Earth was young, there was much more internal energy than we have today. At some point in the future there will be so little that there’ll be no more volcanism, or any geological activity. Therefore, we are presumably cooling. However, if you mean that on timescales that are of interest to us, it is roughly constant, then I agree. It is changing slowly. That, however, was essentially my point. The geothermal flux is small, and has probably not changed much over the last few thousand years. Therefore, it’s contribution to our climate is small and probably unchanging.

      • AK,
        The paper you link to refers to satellites of giant planets, where tidal heating can play a role. Io, for example, is the most volcanic body in the Solar system, largely due to the disspitation of tidal energy from Jupiter. What also makes it more significant for satellites of giant planets is that they are less dense (more ices) than the Earth, and so are more easily distorted.

      • I’m not sure I’m following you.

        Let me try again: you said

        We are certainly losing geothermal energy at a rate that means the interior must be cooling, […]

        No. As you just agreed, the Earth’s interior is effectively at equilibrium (between energy gain from radiative decay/inelastic tidal deformation and energy loss through the crust). So the “rate” at which we “are certainly losing geothermal energy” has nothing to do with “the interior […] cooling”. It is entirely determined by the current rate of energy input from radiative decay (and tidal…). The only determinant of the rate at which the interior will cool is the rate at which radiative decay (and tidal…) decline.

        Unless, of course, the effective temperature at the surface changes from its current ~2-3°C. Which seems highly unlikely to me.

      • The paper you link to refers to satellites of giant planets, where tidal heating can play a role.

        It also says:

        Tidal dissipation is also suggested to play a key role
        during the early stage of the Earth‐Moon system, when the
        Moon was much closer [e.g., Ross and Schubert, 1989],

        Why this all is important (IMO) is that efforts to portray the Earth as “cooling” WRT present-day energy budgets is actually a sort of neo-creationism, which ought to be called out and squelched whenever it raises its head.

        There may be ways in which some left-over aspects of the Solar System Origin influence present-day conditions, but geothermal energy isn’t one of them. (Barring the possible unexpected discovery of new principles.)

        Reproduced Ref:

        Ross, M. N., and G. Schubert (1989), Evolution of the lunar orbit with temperature‐and frequency‐dependent dissipation, J. Geophys. Res., 94, 9533–9544, doi:10.1029/JB094iB07p09533.

      • AK,

        As you just agreed, the Earth’s interior is effectively at equilibrium (between energy gain from radiative decay/inelastic tidal deformation and energy loss through the crust). So the “rate” at which we “are certainly losing geothermal energy” has nothing to do with “the interior […] cooling”. It is entirely determined by the current rate of energy input from radiative decay (and tidal…). The only determinant of the rate at which the interior will cool is the rate at which radiative decay (and tidal…) decline.

        Are we getting into the “AK puts words in people’s mouths” phase of the discussion? Any chance you could avoid doing that? I know you seem to think that you get to decide what people mean when they say something, but maybe you could at least try to intepret things in a manner that is consistent with what the other person actually said, rather than what you think they said. Give it a try. It might be a novel new experience.

        All I agreed with was that on the timescales of interest, the internal energy of the earth is roughly constant. However, it is almost certainly cooling (i.e., the amount of internal energy is decreasing with time). It is doing this very slowly, though.

        Tidal dissipation is also suggested to play a key role
        during the early stage of the Earth‐Moon system, when the
        Moon was much closer [e.g., Ross and Schubert, 1989],

        Why this all is important (IMO) is that efforts to portray the Earth as “cooling” WRT present-day energy budgets is actually a sort of neo-creationism, which ought to be called out and squelched whenever it raises its head.

        Sorry, what are you getting at here? Let’s make something clear, as it appears that you’ve gone and done what you seem to always do (whenever I’ve encountered you) which is to create a massive strawman that you then try to defeat, and it is remarkably irritating. My point was that the geothermal flux – today – is largely irrelevant. It is very small relative to any other relevant flux. It also is largely unchanged over the last few thousand years (i.e., it is playing little role – if any – in cooling, or warming). If you’re suggesting that I was claiming that it is somehow relevant, then you need to improve your reading skills.

      • It is estimated the earth is losing 44.2 TW. If you divide the TW by m2 you get about 0.087 W/m2 on average. If you don’t get 0.087 W/m2 you used the wrong m2.

        Since even measurement based estimates of GHG warming (0.87 W/2) are 10 times the estimated geothermal heat loss, wild variations in geothermal heat loss could get lost in the noise. Particularly since the greatest variation would be at the bottom of the ocean – which is currently cooling.

      • My point was that the geothermal flux – today – is largely irrelevant. It is very small relative to any other relevant flux. It also is largely unchanged over the last few thousand years (i.e., it is playing little role – if any – in cooling, or warming).

        I agree with you there. Over the last billion years, IMO.

        If you’re suggesting that I was claiming that it is somehow relevant, then you need to improve your reading skills.

        No, I’m suggesting that, in arguing for your point, you conceded something that (AFAIK) you don’t agree with: that there is some cause/effect-like relationship between the rate at which energy leaves the Earth’s interior, and the rate at which said interior is “cooling”.

        Leaving the door open for crackpot theories that just waste time, for anybody wanting to discuss relevant issues. I’m just saying you should have squelched more firmly something like this:

        You are correct that the Earth loses internal energy continually, however. This loss is called cooling, and is most evident over a few billion years, or even at night.

    • attp, Observations are used to show flaws and/or refine science. Basic science just indicates where you should look. When observations indicate there needs to be an adjustment in the consensus bottom line, the scientific thing to do is to adjust.

      The problem with climate science is that it has taken on a social science attitude. The debate shouldn’t be over possibilities instead of probabilities. In hard science you have probabilities that can be studied and refined then there is a progression toward a more refined “consensus”. In soft science the generalities can expand to the point nothing is outside the realm of possibility and you end up with a large useless range of possibilities and a large useless consensus.

      Politically, a large useless consensus is useful, you can build a larger constituency, Scientifically it is useless because you can never refine the situation enough to actually do anything. Science is the nuts and bolts, politics is the warm and fuzzies.

      Currently, observations are leading to a reduction in the estimated impact of greenhouse gases. There is a trend in the sensitivity estimates to the lower end, the tropical troposphere hot spot is mia, hurricanes are not following the game plan, aerosols are proving to be more complex and clouds are still tough. Even the initial “no feedback climate sensitivity” has a refined lower range, 1-1.2 C instead of 1.2 to 1.5 C. That is leading to optimism for one group and pre-tramatic stress syndrome for the other group.

      • capt,
        None of that is really a response to my point, which was more general than simply climate science.

        The problem with climate science is that it has taken on a social science attitude.

        Given what you said next, this seems awfully certain.

        The debate shouldn’t be over possibilities instead of probabilities.

        It is.

        That is leading to optimism for one group and pre-tramatic stress syndrome for the other group.

        Should probably look up “hyperbole” and “sweeping generalisation”?

      • attp, any comment I make on a blog that doesn’t have links and quotes in an opinion, just like yours. I responded to you opinion with my opinion. You come back with accusations, pre-tramatic stress much?

        My opinion btw is based on the general content of Dr. Curry’s posts here at Climate Etc. Now if you would like to have an intelligent discussion on the general position of your opposition I am all ears.

      • David Springer

        News Flash: University of Edenburgh Astrophysicist Ken Rice (a.k.a. And Then There’s Physics) gets his ass handed to him on a platter by anonymous blogger CaptDallas2 on Georgia Tech Atmospheric Physicist Judith Curry’s weblog. Film at 11.

      • I responded to you opinion with my opinion.

        Okay, that wasn’t obvious. You seemed remarkably certain.

        You come back with accusations

        Pot, kettle?

        Now if you would like to have an intelligent discussion on the general position of your opposition I am all ears.

        You’re welcome to start one, if you wish. I should add, however, that I was simply presenting a possible alternative. If we were to start a discussion, it would be good if you were to at least acknowledge that you understand what I’m suggesting with my alternative. I should add that I’m not all that interested in defending the alternative. I was simply presenting it as one.

      • attp, “I responded to you opinion with my opinion.

        Okay, that wasn’t obvious. You seemed remarkably certain.”

        There isn’t anything particularly remarkable about one have certainty in their opinion. It is my opinion after all. What you seem to misunderstand is that your opinion is just that. Everyone has one doncha know.

        “You come back with accusations

        Pot, kettle?

        Now if you would like to have an intelligent discussion on the general position of your opposition I am all ears.”

        What would you like to have one? I responded to your opinion with mine and then you got stuck on hyperbole.

        Let my try once again.

        A large number of the group labeled as deniers are engineers. Engineers are problem solvers. They have a sequence they go through to determine if and how they can solve and how well they can solve a problem. That requires the nuts and bolts to start with.

        nut one, CO2 is a “greenhouse gas” which will reduce atmospheric heat loss by approximate 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling. The current “greenhouse effect” is approximate 340 Wm-2, so a doubling would produce just over a 1% increase in the “Greenhouse effect” all else remaining equal. Based on current best estimates a doubling will produce approximately 1 C of “global” warming.

        Warm and fuzzy one. OMG we have to do something! I know, a revenue neutral carbon tax will fix the problem!

        Nope, once you determine the problem, how big a problem it is, how the problem might be solve or reduced, then you estimate costs and determine how you might fun you attempted “solution”. As more data becomes available you might have to adjust your “plan” and budget.

        The data is now indicating that the “problem” appears to have been over stated to some degree. Nothing unusual about that happens all the time. Then what usually happens is folks focus on the easy stuff, low hanging fruit.

        Since CO2 and atmospheric aerosol impact have changed, other issues take a higher priority. Black carbon, erosion and some aerosol reduction will help mitigate anthropogenic climate change and other issue like population health. New problem requires a new process.

        nut one. improving efficiency, improving pollution control and modifying agricultural and construction practices will help reduce negative impacts.

        warm and fuzzy one, OMG! we have to kill coal, ban GMC, implement a revenue neutral carbon tax and possibly limit democracy until we get a handle on the situation!

        See how it goes? One side wants specifics the others just wants.

      • Capt,

        See how it goes?

        Not really.

        One side wants specifics the others just wants.

        You seem to have charactured it in this way. I’m unconvinced that this is actually how it is.

      • attp, “Capt,

        See how it goes?

        Not really.”

        ok, what is your current best estimate of the impact of black carbon reduction and land use change on climate? Most of this is “regional” btw but lots of region would produce a global impact. Not every region would need the same “mitigation” method.

        “One side wants specifics the others just wants.

        You seem to have charactured it in this way. I’m unconvinced that this is actually how it is.”

        Without getting into a great deal of detail, you could just accept that is my opinion, since it is, and focus on the conversation. A large constituency though requires a lot of planks to maintain. That causes what should be science to become politicsl. In the real world you cannot please everyone.

      • Capt,

        what is your current best estimate of the impact of black carbon reduction and land use change on climate? Most of this is “regional” btw but lots of region would produce a global impact. Not every region would need the same “mitigation” method.

        I’m not quite sure why you’ve asked me this. Maybe you could provide some context.

        Without getting into a great deal of detail, you could just accept that is my opinion, since it is, and focus on the conversation

        Fine, but the conversation appears to have diverged from what I was getting at. I was simply trying to suggest that the difficulty in presenting a very contrary position is a fundamental part of the scientific method and not necessarily an indication of an explicit attempt to silence those who are outside the mainstream.

      • attp, if you read back through you will see i did address your original comment. Science should deal with nuts and bolts. You don’t seem to have any opinion on individual nuts and bolts, just a broad generalization of what you think science should be.

        Item one. The no feedback best estimate has decreased for about 1.5 to 1 C which is a 33% reduction. That would imply a 33% reduction in the overall AGW threat due to CO2. That implication appears to be somewhat confirmed by current best estimates of “climate sensitivity”.

        That should be good news. That should allow more thought on responsible steps toward a solution of some sort. No feelings should be involved and your opinion is worth about as much as mine. In my opinion, deal with nuts and bolts before deciding your solution path. when your definition of the “scientific consensus” doesn’t or isn’t willing to deal with individual nuts and bolts your definition is wrong.

      • Capt,

        if you read back through you will see i did address your original comment. Science should deal with nuts and bolts. You don’t seem to have any opinion on individual nuts and bolts, just a broad generalization of what you think science should be.

        I fail to see how this addresses my point. I certainly wasn’t suggesting that science doesn’t deal with nuts and bolts and, in fact, I wasn’t really generalizing about science as such, I was trying point out that it is intended to be difficult to change our overall understanding of some topic.

        I’m really not clear as to how what you say in the rest in your comment relates to my point. The possibility that climate sensitivity might be lower than we think is indeed good news. However, from a scientific perspective, we shouldn’t really care. We can collect more data, develop more sophisticated models, develop more sophisticated analysis tools. Over time, we will determine what the likely value actually is. From a policy perspective, however, it would seem that it does matter. It would be wonderful if it were lower and we had more time to consider our options. What if it isn’t?

      • attp, “However, from a scientific perspective, we shouldn’t really care. ”

        That would be completely wrong. The only real known is that CO2 doubling will cause some increase in heat retention. That is your baseline to use for nearly everything else “climate change” related. If you are assuming that is a “problem” you start there to determine the degree of problem and possible solutions for the problem.

        Now if you happen to be a fan of soft science, there is some impact caused by man and is has to be bad because man caused it.

        Hard science wise, sensitivity estimates are being refined and each refinement will have some impact on the “body” of climate science. Solar variation has gone through quite a few refinements and will likely have more. Aerosols are being refined, clouds etc. etc. etc. That is science. Appealing to a consensus without recognizing there are changes in the basics used to found that consensus is political bs.

        Now since you have revealed that you are of the opinion that fundamentals are something you don’t care about, what do you care about?

      • “However, from a scientific perspective, we shouldn’t really care. ”

        That would be completely wrong. The only real known is that CO2 doubling will cause some increase in heat retention. That is your baseline to use for nearly everything else “climate change” related. If you are assuming that is a “problem” you start there to determine the degree of problem and possible solutions for the problem.

        Yes, I know, that’s why I said “from a scientific perspective”. If climate science was not societally/policy relevant, then we would have no reason to care if climate sensitivity was high or low, it would simply be a scientific puzzle. We might care about solving it, but not really care what the result was.

        Seriously, if you’re not even going to try and understand what I’m getting at, this is going to be a complete and utter waste of time. At least try to think about it – starting with “you’re wrong” and then entirely missing the point, is going to make this a remarkably tedious exchange.

      • and Then There’s Physics, you are putting in a good effort, but Capt Dallas has hit the nail on the head: The only real known is that CO2 doubling will cause some increase in heat retention.

        Exactly where is not known.

        Exactly how much is not known.

        How this ranks with other causes of mean global temperature increase is not known (e.g. arctic soot, land use changes.)

        Whether it will be damaging to humans or other biota is not known — I think the evidence strongly supports the claim that the combination of increased rainfall, increased global mean temp, and increased CO2 has been a net benefit to humans and other biota.

        You wrote this: Okay, but you’re then suggesting that a vast majority of professional scientists are simply not accepting evidence that you regard as contradicting the basic theory that they regard as correct?

        That’s about the size of it. It is a mystery that so much contrary evidence is ignored by the consensus. Note also that the “vast majority” support the vague claim that humans are contributing to global warming, not the specific claim that the anthropogenic CO2 is the major or only cause.

        You wrote this: In a sense, the consensus position is the position that is supported by most of the evidence. If you want to illustrate that this position is incorrect/flawed/wrong then the onus is on you to provide the convincing evidence for that alternative, and it’s not meant to be easy.

        The “alarmist” version of the concern over AGW (Hansen, Schneider, Holdren, Ehrlich, Gore and others) gained great popularity and became the “consensus” for the UN when in fact there was very little evidence for it. Most of the evidence supports a more benign view of CO2 effects and their non-alarming consequences, as shown in the differences between AR4 and AR5, among other summaries. Perhaps it ought to be hard to overturn a consensus, but why when the consensus itself coalesced around such a slim body of evidence?

      • attp, Dude, from a scientific and political perspective what potential impact that can be expected matters. From a purely scientific perspective it is absolutely critical. Science is dealing with the puzzle aka problem. Policy implications are knock on issues related to the science or at least should be.

        Using you as an example, “climate sensitivity” doesn’t matter because it is just part of a science puzzle, what really matter is the socio-political unicorns we can conjure up.

        Judith is giving you guys the benefit of the doubt assuming that some of your logic borders on unethical instead of asinine. You do have a degree in puzzle solving right?

      • Judith is giving you guys the benefit of the doubt assuming that some of your logic borders on unethical instead of asinine.

        As if this wasn’t predictable response. I really do dislike have my preconceptions proven correct.

      • attp, Here is your debate award.

      • David Springer

        dallas: “nut one, CO2 is a “greenhouse gas” which will reduce atmospheric heat loss by approximate 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling. ”

        That’s in a dry atmosphere with a dry adiabatic lapse rate. It’s dependent on the emission altitude rising to a higher, colder level. Radiant emission is lower at the colder level (Planck effect). On a water world 70% covered in ocean and clouds the higher level isn’t necessarily colder due to lapse rate feedback. The dry ALR is 10C/km and the saturated ALR is 5C/km. The actual ALR is somewhere in between depending on amount of water vapor present.

        Sorry, but I’m one of those engineers you speak of and I need facts not guesses.

      • Springer, the 3.7 Wm-2 does relate to the dry atmosphere and earth has one above the moist lower atmosphere. The ~340 Wm-2 would include all atmospheric functions and is another reasonable reference with uncertainty. If you want to get into specifics you need to know what “normal” should be. You can estimate based on what you assume to be “normal” which would include the environmental lapse rate, but “all things remaining equal” the only real known is approximately 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling.

        Since atmospheric “forcing” has increased by about 3 Wm-2 and there has been about 0.9 C of warming, overall “sensitivity” is in the ballpark of 3.33 Wm-2/k which is commonly referred to as the “benchmark” or no feedback response. Of course there is about +/-0.29 C of variability that can impact any estimate.

      • captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2 | May 1, 2015 at 3:36 pm |

        Since atmospheric “forcing” has increased by about 3 Wm-2 and there has been about 0.9 C of warming, overall “sensitivity” is in the ballpark of 3.33 Wm-2/k which is commonly referred to as the “benchmark” or no feedback response. Of course there is about +/-0.29 C of variability that can impact any estimate.

        This is bovine excrement. The study from 2000-2010 found 0.2 W of radiative forcing from 22 PPM of CO2. The 0.2 W was the total change in radiative forcing so it includes other GHG.

        The total atmospheric forcing from GHG is 3.49 ln (400/310) = 0.867 W or 0.234°C or 0.24°C if we want to be nice.

        If the atmospheric forcing has indeed increased 3 W/m2, and there is 0.9°C of warming, 0.9 * 0.867 / 3 = 0.26°C due to GHG.

        Both the chronological trend and concentration trend indicate CO2 will never exceed 500 PPM. This would limit future warming to the same level as the past warming, about 0.26°C.

        CO2 is causing less than 1/3 of the observed warming, and can only increase at worst about 25%. Since the observed effects of CO2 are massively beneficial and it only has a nuisance level effect on temperature, the actually increase in CO2 and the effects of it are mostly of academic interest.

      • > Dude, from a scientific and political perspective what potential impact that can be expected matters. From a purely scientific perspective it is absolutely critical. Science is dealing with the puzzle aka problem. Policy implications are knock on issues related to the science or at least should be.

        A purely scientific perspective, Cap’n, involves lawlike regularities. Unless you can show how we could derive law like regularities for these impacts, they matter little from a scientific perspective.

        That policy wonks, and most importantly here Denizens, get all worked up because the future ain’t what is was supposed to be don’t make it a scientific issue. Just as it is possible to underplay uncertainty, it is possible to overplay it. Judy simply asserts her monstrous case by begging her own stance on attribution. The opposite of very serious stuff, the beginning of a po!itical career at best.

        Mr. T does not work on the Denizens’ side on this matter anyway. This might explain why we hear the constant low balling of sensitivity. A low balling that may not abide by Hardwig’s principles to boot.

      • pa, you are confusing co2 forcing with all atmospheric forcing. Any increase in “surface” temperature due to whatever cause increases the atmospheric effect. The CO2 portion of that can be fairly well approximated with 5.35ln(co2f/co2i) or about 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling with some reasonable uncertainty range, +/- 20%. Using your paper co2 would be responsible for about a third of the overall “atmospheric” forcing.

        Knowing that co2 will produce ~3.7 Wm-2 of forcing “all things remaining equal” doesn’t imply all things will remain equal.

      • Willard, “A purely scientific perspective, Cap’n, involves lawlike regularities. Unless you can show how we could derive law like regularities for these impacts, they matter little from a scientific perspective.”

        The only “law like regularity” is the radiant physics. Co2 is deemed to be the culprit and CO2 has an impact of approximately 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling. As I said that is the only real known.

        Now if you want to break “climate change” down into its actual components, then you can look for separate “law like regularities”. As it is climate change is a vague term and it is primarily related to CO2 by the current “science”. So far water vapor, clouds, black carbon, aerosols (ex BC), solar, internal variability etc. are still being refined so they don’t pass the “law like regularity” sniff test.

        Since climate science is attempting to estimate impacts, and they consider themselves to be a valid branch of science, and their estimates are being used to drive policy, how can the only “known” be considered scientifically irrelevant?

      • captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2 | May 2, 2015 at 11:11 am |
        pa, you are confusing co2 forcing with all atmospheric forcing. Any increase in “surface” temperature due to whatever cause increases the atmospheric effect. The CO2 portion of that can be fairly well approximated with 5.35ln(co2f/co2i) or about 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling with some reasonable uncertainty range, +/- 20%. Using your paper co2 would be responsible for about a third of the overall “atmospheric” forcing.

        Knowing that co2 will produce ~3.7 Wm-2 of forcing “all things remaining equal” doesn’t imply all things will remain equal.

        1. I am not confusing anything, I let other people do my confusing for me.

        2. The measurement was 10 year surface level IR. To be realistic CO2 would be responsible for about 1/4 of the atmospheric forcing since other gases are involved.

        3. “Knowing that co2 will produce ~3.7 Wm-2 of forcing “all things remaining equal” doesn’t imply all things will remain equal.
        Huh? Where did this come from? I never assume all things are equal because they never are. CO2 produced 0.234-0.26°C of warming in the past. Since the CO2 level can’t climb past 500 PPM it is reasonable to assume 0.234-0.26°C more warming from CO2 by 2100 for planning purposes.

        The MWP lasted a couple hundred years. The ocean is still responding to past warming. 2100 looks to be 0.5°C warmer. When using temperature trend estimates for 1900-2015 you need to subtract 0.23°C for CGAGW to remove the virtual warming from the trend. So the 2000-2100 trend won’t be much different than the 1900-2000 trend.

      • Pa,

        “This is bovine excrement. The study from 2000-2010 found 0.2 W of radiative forcing from 22 PPM of CO2. The 0.2 W was the total change in radiative forcing so it includes other GHG.”

        then, “3. “Knowing that co2 will produce ~3.7 Wm-2 of forcing “all things remaining equal” doesn’t imply all things will remain equal.
        Huh? Where did this come from? I never assume all things are equal because they never are. CO2 produced 0.234-0.26°C of warming in the past. Since the CO2 level can’t climb past 500 PPM it is reasonable to assume 0.234-0.26°C more warming from CO2 by 2100 for planning purposes.

        You are taking a field measurement and comparing it to theoretical impact that assumes “all things remaining equal”. You don’t have to the theory does. Then you start making other assumptions. I was referring to the single “known” and its limitation, “all things remaining equal”. That single “known” is what is currently driving climate science and climate policy. I thought I was pretty specific I was referring to the nuts and bolts, not supposition.

      • David Springer

        Bovine excrement is correct. Sensitivity of 3.7W/m2 is for a perfectly dry troposphere (no feedbacks) which simply doesn’t exist anywhere on the planet. Lapse rate feedback lowers this number while water vapor amplification raises it. So you absolutely cannot claim that 3.7w/m2 for CO2 doubling is the lowest possible number in any but an imaginary ideal world with a perfectly dry atmosphere.

        I’ll be needing links to the data for those actual DWLIR increases you claim. I think as far as those being measured increases it’s a complete fabrication for two reasons… 1) we don’t have pyrgeometers (instruments that measure DWLIR) spread widely across the earth’s surface, and 2) pyrgeometers haven’t been around very long.

        .

      • > Since climate science is attempting to estimate impacts, and they consider themselves to be a valid branch of science, and their estimates are being used to drive policy, how can the only “known” be considered scientifically irrelevant?

        First, climate science ain’t a branch, Cap’n. It’s more like a shrub, with lots of special sciences in it, which range from ecology to biology to economy. The auditing sciences are requiring a special shrub. Some call it a shrubbery:

        Any resemblance to Denizens, living or dead, is almost likely coincidental.

        ***

        Second, the idea that “estimates are being used to drive policy” is underdetermined. Policy makers don’t project in 85 years. Not even in 50 years. Heck, not even in 20 years: they want to know if they should prepare for climate change in 10 years, 15 years at most. Even if we had perfectly certain impact estimates for 2050, policy makers would still require shrubberies that bloom earlier than that.

        ***

        Taking my two points together, here’s what we get: impact estimates do not belong to the “purely scientific perspective,” but are relative to our policy needs. The impact estimates may never drive policy in any mechanistic sense, for the simple they’re far from being as WYSIWYG as policy wonks and Denizens will require. Even if you’d have a perfectly determined sensitivity, you’d still have to feed it to economical models. If Denizens dislike climate models, wait until they look at economical models.

        Only when Denizens will acknowledge that they’re simply asking for a shrubbery would they abide by Hardwig’s ethical concerns.

      • David Springer

        Climate science is neither a branch nor a shrub. It’s a mushroom which of course are fed with bullshiit and grown in the dark.

      • Don Monfort

        Cap’ndallas has been wiping professor kenny out on this thread. Kenny has spent a lot of time underwater, and willy is trying to resuscitate his boss. Kenny looks like a comic ten meter platform diver here. There he goes with a backward one and a half argument from authority with a half twisting begging the question ending with an inglorious ad nauseum belly flop. Very circular performance that get’s a generous 3.7 from the panel of international judges. Must be warmists. The crowd in the stands gives kenny an 8.8 for the amusement factor. You got a lot of work to do, willy.

      • You are floundering Willard.

      • Love it when you say “Ni!,” Don Don.

        I’m going to tell you a little secret: when you have to play Monday morning quarteback at Judy’s, it’s very likely that Denizens lost that ClimateBall round.

      • David Springer

        Willard you don’t know your ass from your elbow in any science. Trying to play ClimateBall without a good science background is like a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest. You just look stupid doing it.

      • > You are floundering

        And you, dear Cap’n, have been trying to portray lukewarm sensitivity matters as a purely scientific concern, whence its main deliverable is for think thanks like the GWPF and op-eds like Matt King Coal’s:

        At this rate, it will be the last decades of this century before global warming does net harm. As the economist Bjørn Lomborg recently summarised the economic consensus: “Economic models show that the overall impact of a moderate warming (1-2C) will be beneficial [so] global warming is a net benefit now and will likely stay so till about 2070.”

        http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-implications-of-lower-climate-sensitivity.aspx

        Even if we disregard that Bjorn was misrepresenting the models to which he alludes, and that Matt was misrepresenting the economic consensus, and that Judy never seems to take into account that Bjorn’s center the Consensus Center, and that both Bjorn & Matt faill to meet Hardwig’s ethical standards, you must admit that this is far from being in a purely scientific schtick.

        Basically, the argument is this:

        (1) Sensitivity will (likely) be low.
        (2) Economic models show (insert sleight of hand) little impacts.
        (3) Profit.

        Please continue to post images. Denizens need illustrations.

      • captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2 | May 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm |
        Pa,

        You are taking a field measurement and comparing it to theoretical impact that assumes “all things remaining equal”. You don’t have to the theory does. Then you start making other assumptions. I was referring to the single “known” and its limitation, “all things remaining equal”. That single “known” is what is currently driving climate science and climate policy. I thought I was pretty specific I was referring to the nuts and bolts, not supposition.

        Oh, “I see said the blind man to his deaf son as they fell into the hole.”

        GHG is linear, log, or lego, and it isn’t likely to be lego.

        They measured 0.2 W for 22 PPM. If I assume it is linear and multiply 0.2W by 90/22 = 0.81W If I assume 3.49 ln (C/C0) it is about 0.87W.

        Big Whoop. The pre-2015 GHG warming is between 0.8-0.9 W. Enough to be interesting, not enough to worry about, and about 1/3 the predicted TSR.

        The actual temperature is interesting. Since this is mostly applied to the surface of the ocean a number of things could happened.

        However I prefer to play the game and assume some sort of 3.3-3.7 relationship. The forcing (and the future CO2 concentration) is so far from theory the only real question is do we want the CAGW theory fried to crispy or extra crispy.

      • springer, as I said before 3.7Wm-2 per doubling is for an ideal atmosphere and the benchmark impact is for an “all things remaining equal” scenario. The dry adiabatic lapse rate is for an ideal atmosphere and the saturated lapse rate is for an ideal atmosphere that happens to be saturated. You don’t get your panties in a wad because the environmental lapse rate doesn’t happen to match either of the “ideal” conditions so you really shouldn’t get your panties in a wad because in an ideal atmosphere a doubling of CO2 should produce 3.7 Wm-2 of frigging forcing d%%a5s.

        Now if you would like to do something other than play with yourself you could look at the 5.35 part of the conical equation which should have a temperature dependence, then factor out the latent and convection reduction in the actual temperature response, then your arms wouldn’t get so tired. pv=nrt isn’t perfect either but it is considered a fundamental of physics.

      • David Springer

        re; panties in a wad playing with myself

        You’re projecting. Dialog over. If I want a nitwit resorting to name calling there’s far better than you here to do it.

      • willard, I am not trying to portray anything. The “fact” is the only known is that a doubling of CO2 will have some impact based on 5.35ln(CO2f/CO2i). Every example of any potential climate impact good or bad is based on that one known.

        Initially that one known which btw does not include a known temperature impact, was assumed to have an impact of 1.5 C per doubling which could produce a range of 1.5 to 4.5 C of impact based on averaging of scientific wild assed guesses, the Charney Compromise which happened in 1979. Since then there have been numerous other SWAGs made and the current SWAG trend is toward the low end and perhaps below the initial lowest possible limit.

        Any reference you might happen across that doesn’t consider the sensitivity trend is about worthless. Any climate change debate or policy that doesn’t consider the climate sensitivity trend is useless, unless of course it specifically mentions some of that low hanging fruit you are so fond of.

      • Don Monfort

        Cap’n, couldn’t you find an image of a flounder that is battered and beaten. That one looks unscathed. Find us a specimen that is hooked through the gills and missing its tail and big chunks of its dorsal fin. That’s our willy.

      • > I am not trying to portray anything.

        Right here, Cap’n:

        Dude, from a scientific and political perspective what potential impact that can be expected matters. From a purely scientific perspective it is absolutely critical. Science is dealing with the puzzle aka problem. Policy implications are knock on issues related to the science or at least should be.

        From a purely scientific perspective, there’s nothing crucial about sensitivity. OTOH, the lukewarm gambit is all about sensitivity. The conclusion is left as an exercise to Denizens.

        This might explain why the lukewarm gambit drives op-eds by Matt King Coal, false dilemmas by the Lomborg Collective, and Goldilocks stories for Congressional hearings, To get more mileage out of it, you might need a political champion, to borrow Mike Hulme’s wording in the CGs.

        A question that remains is: when will Judy do some realpolitik? She already has her ideological slogans ready.

      • willard, “From a purely scientific perspective, there’s nothing crucial about sensitivity.”

        I guess with respect to post-normal science you are right. However, as far as old school science goes the input signal is pretty crictical if you are going to determine your output. Since climate science elected to use forcing and feedbacks ala control theory, they would be SOL if they don’t have their main input. So from that “scientific perspective” “Sensitivity” is critical. Soft science wise not so much, “man make CO2, Man bad, CO2 bad, must stop CO2.”

      • > However, as far as old school science goes the input signal is pretty crictical if you are going to determine your output.

        That’s a big if, Cap’n, an if that no old skool talk will suffice to reduce to a purely science perspective. Also, don’t forget that the climate problem is supposed to be wicked, that the linear model is frowned upon, and that we need to embrace Mr. T if we’re to abide by Hardwig’s credo.

        Even if I you had a perfect signal, it would not help you determine your output in this case, since impacts are a bit farer in the knowledge food chain, e.g.:

        Risk of climate-related impacts results from the interaction of climate related hazards (including hazardous events and trends) with the vulnerability and exposure of human and natural systems. Changes in both the climate system (left) and socioeconomic processes including
        adaptation and mitigation (right) are drivers of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability.

        http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/ar5_wgII_spm_en.pdf

        As you can see, what is usually understood by impacts is a bit more general than CO2 has an impact of approximately 3.7 Wm-2 per doubling , as you said earlier.

        ***

        To overemphasize the need to pinpoint sensitivity might very well downplay the uncertainties everywhere else. Mr. T happy wouldn’t be happy with that.

      • Willard, “That’s a big if, Cap’n, an if that no old skool talk will suffice to reduce to a purely science perspective. Also, don’t forget that the climate problem is supposed to be wicked, that the linear model is frowned upon, and that we need to embrace Mr. T if we’re to abide by Hardwig’s credo.”

        You have elevated floundering to an art form. Without a reference you cannot determine any of the buzz words you stepped into. That is exactly why “sensitivity” is critical. Assuming it is linear just simplifies your reference. It is called a “simplifying assumption, The trick though is remembering that it is an assumption not a fact. As I pointed out to Springer, the dry adiabitic lapse rate is based on simplifying assumptions, only is some ideal world should expect nature to complete agree with your simplified model. Same with the saturated lapse rate. The two provide a reasonably reliable range of possibilities.

        Since a doubling of CO2 is agreed to create 3.7Wm-2 per doubling with some reasonable uncertainty of course and all things remaining equal will cause more energy to be retained in the climate system, it is the one “known” reference. Only an idiot would expect it to be exact, but it is a “critical” reference if you are estimate warming/climate change related to anthropogenic related CO2 variations. It is called “climate sensitivity” and thanks to “climate scientists” it is defined as a sensitivity to a doubling of CO2, even though it really is a sensitivity to all changes in forcings.it

        By definition, you cannot do climate science without considering climate sensitivity. I didn’t make the definition or set up the rules, but only a Willard would argue that it is not relevant to climate science.

        Now climate sensitivity is not critical for most fields of science that have absolutely nothing to do with the conversion you joined. It is not even required for some aspects of climate science, like miscounting polar bears, researching pre-tramatic stress syndrome, declaring species extinct when they aren’t, stroking your hockey stick handles or publishing cartoons for NASA.; But if you want to estimate the impact of human activity on climate you better start with it..

      • > By definition, you cannot do climate science without considering climate sensitivity.

        A quote to that definition would be nice, Cap’n. My own impression is that the object of climate science is to study climate. That’s why we call it climate science, after all. There are many ways to study climate that does not involve anything about sensitivity. For instance, Judy only very recently published something related to it. Does it mean she was not a climate scientist before that?

        More importantly, please rest assured that considering sensitivity is not exactly determining it in a way to establish “what potential impact that can be expected.” You know, the thing that “matters” and is “absolutely critical” from a “scientific perspective.” Here’s where we might be heading, Cap’n:

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/tagged/engineerilyderiving

        ***

        You’ve just tried to pull a fast one with your “impact” word play on AT, Cap’n. Only Matt fell for it. No big deal.

        There’s no need to invoke a non-IPCC ideology to explain it.

      • willard, “A quote to that definition would be nice, Cap’n. My own impression is that the object of climate science is to study climate. That’s why we call it climate science, after all.”

        Yes, climate science studying climate would be nice, but CO2 is the driver for the majority of current “climate science”. That likely has something to do with the term “climate change” replacing “global warming”. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say, “Climate sensitivity is a metric used to characterise the response of the global climate system to a given forcing. It is broadly defined as the equilibrium global mean surface temperature change following a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

        Here is working group II latest title, Working Group II Report
        “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”

        “You’ve just tried to pull a fast one with your “impact” word play on AT, Cap’n. Only Matt fell for it. No big deal.

        There’s no need to invoke a non-IPCC ideology to explain it.”

        You should credit the IPCC ideology with the “impact” ploy.

      • captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2

        The only “law like regularity” is the radiant physics.

        There is “law like regularity” in the non-radiative physics as well. Much is known about the transfer of energy from surface to mid-to-upper troposphere in the rising columns of warm air and the phase transitions of the H2O. And there is a law-like increase in the water vapor pressure of 5%-7% per C at the temperatures of most of the surface. These permit the derivation of reasonable hypotheses about the consequences of warming itself, though they are not direct responses to the CO2 changes per se. The law-like regularities are presented in standard textbooks, such as “Thermal Physics of the Atmosphere” by Maarten Ambaum. As with the radiative physics, there are also gaps and approximations of dubious accuracy.

      • matthewmarler, “There is “law like regularity” in the non-radiative physics as well. Much is known about the transfer of energy from surface to mid-to-upper troposphere in the rising columns of warm air and the phase transitions of the H2O. And there is a law-like increase in the water vapor pressure of 5%-7% per C at the temperatures of most of the surface.”

        Right, that would be part of “normal” climate science. Thanks to the consensus though that is a feedback that requires a forcing. Since 1950, CO2 took control of “climate change” and “most” of that change is due to human activities, per the “consensus” so “normal” climate science doesn’t really exist. You have to have some CO2 equivalent radiant forcing because climate was in “equilibrium” prior to the consensus. With the current state of climate change science you are back to only one “known”.

        That is the current state of climate change science.

        This was and will be again the state of climate science, but not until climate change science is dealt with.

    • ATTP writes- “If climate science was not societally/policy relevant, then we would have no reason to care if climate sensitivity was high or low, it would simply be a scientific puzzle.”

      My response- Climate science is relevant because the weather impacts people’s lives. If “climate science” can reasonably reliably forecast future changes in the weather it is relevant, otherwise it is not.

      ATTP- Can you reply with a straightforward answer as to what leads you to believe that the net harm from more CO2 is so significant to justify the costs associated with CO2 mitigation? Isn’t your conclusion based on belief and concerns about risk and not any reliable data?

      • Rob,

        Can you reply with a straightforward answer as to what leads you to believe that the net harm from more CO2 is so significant to justify the costs associated with CO2 mitigation?

        Can you point out where I’ve ever said that I believe this?

        Isn’t your conclusion based on belief and concerns about risk and not any reliable data?

        Given that my conclusion appears to be your perception of my conclusion, the answer to this would be “no”.

      • ATTP

        I apologize if I misundersttod your conclusion.

        Do you conclude that there is not sufficient reliable information to think that CO2 mitigation actions make sense if they entail sgnificant costs?

      • Do you conclude that there is not sufficient reliable information to think that CO2 mitigation actions make sense if they entail sgnificant costs?

        Well, I do think there is sufficient evidence to suggest that if we continue to increase our emissions (by which I mean actual emissions into the atmosphere) that the consequences could be severe. I don’t, however, know what would we should do, given that evidence. Ultimately it should be some form of cost benefit analysis, but I do think that there are certain future pathways that we should simply be avoiding – for example, burn all the coal we possibly can, would – IMO – be an extremely risky strategy.

    • ATTP: …it’s meant to be difficult and challenging to get your work considered.

      No paper should be any more challenging to get published due to its implication. That’s politics. Science should only care that the paper’s sources and methods are sound. All papers should be scrutinized, before and after publishing.

      A hypothesis like AGW, which is supported only circumstantially and is not falsifiable, the assumption of its validity must remain weak regardless if the popular hypothesis is popular. There are many examples of historical medical consensus, from blood letting to tonsillectomy, that have changed. Popularity should carry no publishing advantage on scientific grounds.

      Actually climate science could learn a lot from medical science. Both deal with complex systems that are difficult to set up a controlled study on. Both endure emotional biases, political agendas and special interests.

      • Ron,

        No paper should be any more challenging to get published due to its implication.

        Yes, I agree. I didn’t mean published. I meant that if you want to convince other researchers that the consensus position is wrong and that your alternative is right, that you’re going to have to have convincing evidence and that it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have to work at it, and put in some effort.

    • ATTP,

      As you say below, this isn’t a climate science point, just a science one. And I would be in general agreement, with the caveat that more than just occasionally the important information can be found in the outliers.

      Now lets return to climate science. We basically have models on the consensus side and observational data on the other. The contrarians are pointing to the data and asking why is it not matching up with model output. The response? The consensus is overwhelming. We know we are correct. You are simply in the pay of big _____.

      A reasonable person, finding that their model wasn’t matching real world, would assume there is a problem with their model. Apparently it doesn’t work that way in climate science.

    • In a sense, the consensus position is the position that is supported by most of the evidence.

      You’re describing here the classic null hypothesis argument; what is it and what should it be? For the case of the existence of anthropogenic warming, it’s pretty clear that the evidence makes it the null hypothesis.

      However, for the case of catastrophic anthropogenic warming, the proper null hypothesis is a lot muddier. From a scientific standpoint, the precautionary principle is not a valid argument for making it the null hypothesis. Likewise, modeling results (in the absence of data that uniquely confirms the model) do not constitute a valid claim to the null hypothesis. Paleoclimate results could perhaps have a stronger claim, though I have to admit that my own evaluation of the scientific quality of the results would not sway me, personally.

      So a claim that Dr. Curry’s position (which is, roughly, that modeled climate sensitivities are too high) should bear a uniquely difficult burden of proof seems to me to be premature.

      • Quote on null hypothesis from geologist Bob Carter re onus of evidence.

        First, the simpler the way that a scientific matter can be posed as a hypothesis, in general, the better.

        Second, the null hypothesis is that any change observed in climate (such as the late 20th century warming, which ceased in 1998) is natural UNLESS AND UNTIL there is evidence otherwise.

        The onus of proof is not upon those who follow the null hypothesis (about which no journal will accept a paper), but on those who claim to be able to overthrow it.

        Despite the expenditure of roughly $80 billion since 1990, no paper of which I am aware has been able to demonstrate the falsity of the above null hypothesis.

        Finally, if you pose a specific hypothesis of dangerous, human-caused global warming, then, as I explained on the show, that can be tested in three ways.

        The hypothesis fails all three tests, one of which is the order of cause and effect and therefore fairly fundamental.

        At the limit, three failures is not proof that the hypothesis is false, because there could be some genuine ad hoc reason as to why each of the failures occurred despite the hypothesis actually being true. Which is obviously what you are inclined to believe.

        As a scientist, however, my inclination would be to start thinking about alternative, more fruitful hypotheses that were consistent with the known data, whilst at the same time watching out for other ways in which to test (i.e. attempt to falsify) the fashionable human-caused idea.

        Bob Carter

      • Inverting the null hypothesis to the AGW dangerous
        warming based on strength of claims, doesn’t go down
        well with this serf. The claim that AGW has been the
        main cause of 20th century warming has not been
        validated by empirical data – positive feedbacks (? ) or
        reproducible experiments, and recent cooling – the
        pause (?) and missing hotspot(?) appear to falsify the
        dangerous AGW hypothesis.

    • As Judith and others have pointed out here a number of times, a “consensus” on Topic A based on the independent investigations of many qualified researchers (especially when derivative products and findings in areas B and C of unquestioned value have been generated by basing further work on the consensus belief) has credibility. The climate consensus fails these tests, however. It was consciously and artificially generated through political (e.g. IPCC) processes, creating correlated errors and biases, rather than arrived at by the independent findings of researchers whose errors would tend to cancel out. And there are no unquestionably useful or productive findings in other fields based on the consensus–not accurate regional forecasts, not a better understanding of past climate, etc.

      So the critique of consciously sought consensus in science, which is completely valid, ought not to be confused with those who buck a consensus formed from independent investigations and yielding fruitful derivative products.

    • But the CAGW hypothesis is the one that needs to provide the extraordinary evidence, as it is an extraordinary claim.

      WG2 and 3 have produced grey literature, error and obfuscation.

      There isn’t much fighting about WG1. Curry, Lindzen, Dyson, Springer, Spencer, Christy, Happer, Soon and many more (including non-scientists such as myself) cheerfully accept that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that greenhouse gases warm, that our contributions are significant and have contributed to the current warming period.

      What lukewarmers and skeptics contest and with reason is the fuzzy thinking that goes into attribution, impacts and desired policy responses.

      However, the Konsensus says because we raise questions about WG2 and WG3 issues, we are denying the physics. In other words, the Konsensus lies about the opposition.

      Not much of a surprise, but it does lead to repetitive discussions.

      • Peter Lang

        I’m not denying the physics. I am not persuaded it is anywhere near the whole story, and I am particularly unpersuaded that the impacts are nte damaging or that proposed mitigation policies will do mor good than harm. i believe the polices advocated by IPCC and climate alarmists (most climate scientists) will do far more harm than good.

        But climate alarmists, like yourself, avoid addressing these issues. Whenever I have raised them in discussions with you, for example, you avoid, divert the discussion, and make silly, trivial, irrelevant and disengenuous comments to avoid addressing the key points. That’s why I have become more an d more convinced that CAGW is religion, not science. The advocates are ideologues and zealots, and not willing to debate seriously and honestly about what’s important.

  33. If deference to the authoritative opinions of experts is essential to our rationality and knowledge

    The problem with government-funded climate science, of course, is that it necessarily involves deference to massive vested interest. Exactly like trusting smoking research to tobacco-funded scientists was.

    • Interesting reversal.

    • The argument that fossil fuel funded climate research has stunted government research into climate is clearly unsupported. The AGW claim that industry special interests are behind the public’s lack of trust of government research is equally ridiculous. The only reason this argument is used is the broad brush that all industry is bad due to putting corporate-interest. before public interest, (which is true). This, however, does not mean that politicians put public interest first, or even scientists when faced with a conflict with personal interest.

      This is yet another reason why all publicly funded research should have both sides of a hypotheses funded in competition (an expert self-check).

      • This is yet another reason why all publicly funded research should have both sides of a hypotheses funded in competition (an expert self-check).

        What if there are three sides, or four, or maybe five? What about six? Do we fund anyone who claims that they are testing an alternative hypothesis? What if people start claiming to be testing an alternative simply to get funded, rather than because they actually think the alternative is plausible?

      • There are multiple ‘sides’. Solar, Cosmic Rays, Planetary, Tectonic and Land Use and Deforestation. Funds for all and all for funds.

      • What if there are three sides, or four, or maybe five? What about six? Do we fund anyone who claims that they are testing an alternative hypothesis? What if people start claiming to be testing an alternative simply to get funded, rather than because they actually think the alternative is plausible?

        First it should be understood all research is biased in favor of the beliefs of not only the scientist but the funder. Also, scientists are not immune to the bias to conform, to anchor their beliefs as well as their results. This is amplified in soft science and publicly funded science, both of which have no reward for breakthrough reversals, only punishment, unless acceptance is achieved.

        The above can be demonstrated by the history of publicly (and university) funded dietary science, economics and psychology. Therefore, contrarian investigation should be supported as long as it’s based on a rational hypothesis that has not been investigated. If there are 4 or 5 such non-consensus hypotheses the consensus is weak by definition. This was the case in identifying the cause of Aids in 1981-82, then known as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

        Global warming theory consensus sprung from the desire of scientist to scrutinize industrial emissions, which already had a consensus since the 1960s that emissions were polluting the environment. The story of Clair Patterson’s realization of leaded gasoline being a hazard is a case where funding the contrary view paid off. Patterson’s realization about lead sprang up be accident trying to analyze a meteorite in 1953 when his results got confounded by environmental contamination. I find it ironic that Neil Degrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” used Patterson’s case as an analogy to Hansen and AGW. In Tyson’s mind the problem is not consensus thinking, it’s that scientist need to be activists.

        A whole generation is being taught the wrong message.

    • Punksta | May 1, 2015 at 4:02 am | Reply

      The problem with government-funded climate science, of course, is that it necessarily involves deference to massive vested interest. Exactly like trusting smoking research to tobacco-funded scientists was.

      The problem is the political orientation, of many academics who do the bulk of the science and of the government bureaucrats.

      One solution as pointed out by liberals all the time, is diversity.

      Conservatives are about 40% of the population but a scarce commodity in the science field. The solution is minority set-asides.

      40% of government climate studies funding should be reserved by law for conservatives and people opposed to global warming, since as they are only 40% of the population, conservatives are a minority. Further, this would create a demand for conservatives on campus, since dishonest environmental activists would be banned from 40% of the climate studies.

    • Re: funding all hypotheses.
      There may indeed be six explanations. And, therefore, just as climatology grant-farmers with an eye on the future must currently limit and predispose their proposals towards CO2 & alarmism, what we would then start to see are skeptic equivalents.
      Which themselves would be no more scientific than what currently masquerades under the banner of government Climate Science.
      But would still be a huge improvement, as at least there would then be a competitive marketplace of ideas and thinking on which to make the best-guess decisions. Instead of the blinkered and authoritarian one-way political-correctness charade that now dominates.

  34. In attacking fossil fuels, they forget, or don’t know what will be consequences.

    Rain is the forgotten determinant of climate.

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/here-comes-the-rain-again/

  35. “…the world’s poor are the latest punching bag, with both ‘sides’ claiming moral superiority with regards to reducing fossil fuel emissions or not. In the climate change problem, it seems that often one’s sense of social justice trumps a realistic characterization of the problems and the uncertainties surrounding the science and the proposed solutions.”

    Yes, both sides claim moral superiority, but one side can demonstrate unequivocally that use of fossil fuels does indeed lead to longer, healthier lives and in fact a cleaner environment when appropriate technology is employed. The other side basically provides a lot of hand-waving hysteria re: the doom we are sure to experience unless we take urgent and drastic action to curtail their use. This side has also shown a willingness to lie, conceal data, defame contrarians, prevent others from publishing research that does not support the cause, etc., etc.

    One side can make a moral case, the other side has shown that it has no morals on which to make a case.

  36. But it is an ethical vice to pretend to know more than you do;
    it is an epistemic vice to believe that you know more than you do.
    They have this second one real bad. They must explain what caused the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods and explain what caused the cooling after these warm periods and explain what stopped happening such that this warm period, just like the Roman and Medieval warm periods should have not happened. You can see their model output, they do not reproduce the Roman and Medieval warm periods and they do not reproduce the cold period after the Roman Warm Period and they do not reproduce the Little Ice Age. It is an epistemic vice for sure.

  37. We’ve become expert creators of economic bubbles.

  38. Much of the problems seem to arise from wandering out of one’s expertise to speculate on unverifiable phenomenon.

    Dr. Lacis clearly understands radiative physics, but extrapolates ( as we all do ) to a generalized assessment of what that means for not just climate but impacts as well.

    When Hansen bemoans ‘death trains’ and ‘half of all species might go extinct’ he is abusing whatever expertise he may have to make claims about fields in which he is evidently ignorant to grossly appeal to emotion, not reason.

    Clearly, without background or education in atmospheric science, one cannot evaluate the processes which may be important. But it doesn’t end there. ‘Global Warming’ is global not just in extent but in disciplines as well.

    Chemistry, Radiative Physics, Meteorology, Climatology – doesn’t end there.
    Oceanography, Geology, Biology, Agriculture, Medicine.
    Economics, Demographics, Sociology, and even Astronomy are necessary for context.

    Understanding that the Holocene Climatic Optimum experienced much hotter summers, colder winters, and as such, much greater climate change, but still coincided with the advance of civilizations, is very important for putting ‘climate change’ into context.

    Understanding that seasonal human mortality peaks in winter and troughs in summer is important to the context of ‘health impacts’ of climate change.

    Experts are evidently still humans subject to emotion which fills in the gaps of ignorance outside their fields of expertise.

    • Understanding that the Holocene Climatic Optimum experienced much hotter summers, colder winters, and as such, much greater climate change, but still coincided with the advance of civilizations, is very important for putting ‘climate change’ into context.

      Understanding that the Holocene Climatic Optimum experienced much hotter summers, colder winters, and as such, much greater climate change, is very important for putting ‘climate change’ into context.

      Yes, the hotter summers, and warmer oceans did cause snow and cold winters. The warm times are when the ice is rebuilt. The ice piles up for a few hundred years and then advances and takes climate into another Little Ice Age. The consensus people claim that something makes earth cold and causes the ice to advance. The ice rebuilds in the warm times when it snows more. The ice then advances and causes the little ice ages.

  39. I well I guess we could listen to non-experts and base all of our decisions on what they have to say.. What good are colleges and universities, but for producing and hiring experts. Let’s hire the non-experts and let them teach them

    • Geologists of the day opposed Alfred Wegener because he wasn’t an expert.

      So we better throw out the theory of continental drift. But we don’t. We reject the experts of the day and accept continental drift because of the repeatable verification of it.

      Opposed to that?

    • belongs here:

      Joseph: Let’s hire the non-experts and let them teach them.

      Faced with a large amount and variety of evidence that the experts are exaggerating the dangers of CO2, you could stop thinking altogether: mechanisms for doing that are being taught at an online course that has been described at ClimateEtc and at RealClimate.

    • Faced with a large amount and variety of evidence that the experts are exaggerating the dangers of CO2

      Did you have some specific example in mind? Let’s stick with the IPCC conclusions.

      • Joseph: Did you have some specific example in mind?

        We discuss specific examples here from time to time, generally in detail. I presented schematic argument, complete with illustrative calculations, that the experts underestimate the change in surface heat flux that results from an increase in global mean surface temp. That is not proof that the experts are wrong, but the evidence that they are ignoring is documented in the peer-reviewed literature (the Romps et al and O’Groman et al papers cited in full elsewhere.).

        Let’s stick with the IPCC conclusions.

        Why stick with IPCC conclusions when discussing some of the political considerations and biaases that seem to influence their deprecation of disconfirming or discordant evidence?

  40. Joseph: Let’s hire the non-experts and let them teach them

    Faced with a large amount and variety of evidence that the experts are exaggerating the dangers of CO2, you could stop thinking altogether: mechanisms for doing that are being taught at an online course that has been described at ClimateEtc and at RealClimate.

  41. A non-expert may not be able to discuss the science in depth, but should always be able to evaluate the quality processes that the experts rely on. If there is no serious quality process (and peer review certainly isn’t), then society is advised to ignore the experts.

  42. The AGW debate has been in the political realm for the past several decades and the Pope joining the debate is proof that AGW is now strictly political. Given the Pope’s presence in the AGW debate it seems appropriate to label the two sides “believers” and “heretics”!
    A few weeks ago Dr. Curry recommended the book “The Big Fat Surprise” by N. Teicholz with a comment that the cholesterol wars bore some resemblance to the AGW debate. I have read the book (which is excellent) and I agree with her that the difficulties in unravelling the true dietary fat story over the past 50 years does resemble the AGW debate. Unfortunately the lesson I take away from this similarity is that the heretics are losing (badly) the AGW debate and that politics, and not science, will decide (at least over the next few decades). Note that understanding dietary fat is not a “wicked” problem and yet it’s been in the political arena for 50 years and we have no solution. Given that the AGW debate is a “wicked” problem in the political arena the solution is far in the future.
    In politics ethical considerations are for losers and for heretics to debate scientific ethics is (unfortunately) a waste of time. Using the history of the Catholic Church as guidance for heretics in the AGW debate, their task is to find the equivalent of a Martin Luther (e.g. Dr. Curry!) and rich German princes (e.g. Koch brothers!). Without significant financial resources on the heretics side, the believers will be victorious until Mother Nature weighs in on the AGW debate (hopefully not with a Heinrich event).

    • +1 Good analogy(s). You’re right the bottom line is somewhere in the distant future, however if the alarmist predictions don’t pan out this century it will be very telling. If the warming does not resume in the next decade that will also be difficult for the consensus.

    • wasquires: Unfortunately the lesson I take away from this similarity is that the heretics are losing (badly) the AGW debate and that politics, and not science, will decide (at least over the next few decades).

      I think there are reasons for optimism. To start with, neither China nor India is going along with the consensus (at least not in a hurry), and China is successfully sponsoring the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which will not adhere to the anti-fossil-fuel injunctions of the IMF and World Bank. Next, the dismal examples of California and Germany are causing a lot of people to reconsider the wisdom of a rapid conversion to wind and solar farms. And last for today, in the US the issue of tackling climate change ranks about 15th to 20th in the voters’ priority lists.

  43. “JC comment. For climate scientists who hold minority opinions (it doesn’t take much to be shunted in this category; minor disagreement with ‘consensus’ statements or stating that uncertainty might be greater), it is pretty clear that these scientists are in the minority, since they have been subject to pejorative labels (denier, etc).”
    Don’t think I agree with this completely. Seems like in some venues I see (conservative media) they confidently quote their minority expert as if were the New Accepted Wisdom.

    • They are in that venue because of the consensus stranglehold on the peer review process.

  44. Expertise takes on an interesting aspect in the context of post-normal science, which I am using to mean a situation in which the magnitude of the perceived potential danger is thought to reduce the certainty necessary on the substantive scientific questions. In this context the opinion of the expert that action should be taken is based not only on his scientific evaluation in his area of expertise but is also based on his political, economic and/or sociological evaluation of the danger to society. Is the expert required to say “Ordinarily I would say that there is insufficient evidence but given my view of the danger to society I find the evidence sufficient”? Can a scientist call himself an expert when his expertise does not extend to all the relevant elements of the issue?

  45. Before anyone claims a majority of climate scientists or even scientists in general believe ACO2 will cause a catastrophe – I want to see a list of those scientist’s signed statements. And the statement has to be written by the scientists, not some NGO or heads of science societies.

    • Before anyone claims a majority of climate scientists or even scientists in general believe ACO2 will cause a catastrophe – I want to see a list of those scientist’s signed statements.

      Yes, so would I.

    • Yes, they need to write it and sign it.
      It is not known how many they include in the 97% or who most of them are. We know that Dr Curry got kicked out of the 97% because she did not agree with all of the consensus. We know then names of a lot of climate scientists who are not part of the 97%. They must have a huge secret society with a secret list of members.

      There is a statement and list of more than thirty thousand who are on the skeptic side. Among those, there a lot of different theories. The skeptic side do not have consensus and they are skeptic of each other and sometimes, even skeptic of themselves.

    • One question is what exactly is believed by climate scientists? Some options:
      1. ACO2 tends to warm the planet.
      2. ACO2 tends to warm the planet, but might be mitigated by feedbacks.
      3. ACO2 tends to warm the planet, but might be enhanced by feedbacks.
      4. ACO2 doesn’t tend to warm the planet (zero or very few of these I’m thinking)
      5. ACO2 will warm the planet.
      6. ACO2 will warm the planet and that warming will be catastrophic.

      Of course, there are more variations.

      • jim2,
        I think most climate scientists would agree with

        ACO2 warms the planet and will be enhanced by feedbacks.


      • I think most climate scientists would agree with

        “ACO2 warms the planet and will be enhanced by feedbacks.”

        Change it to:
        “ACO2 warms the planet and will be subject to feedbacks.”
        and I’m in.

      • Eddie,
        Well, yes, I agree that what you say is true, but I think very few climate scientists think that the net feedback could be negative.

      • Clouds are a complete wild card here, very plausible that cloud feedback is overall negative.

      • 6. ACO2 will warm the planet and that warming will be catastrophic.

        This is the part where it all falls apart, of course.

        There’s a huge void that gets filled with emotional ideas of impending doom.
        Those using global warming to advance agendas know this.
        What struck me first about Oreskes book title ‘Merchants of Doubt’ is how the neo-malthusians play on doubt about what may occur but can’t be completely dismissed.

        Doom is kind of a tell-tale ( I chided ‘Science of Doom’ for his handle which presupposes doom ).

        Can we be specific?
        Is it temperature? Sea Level? What exactly?

        We do know that warming has occurred for 40 years and by nearly every measure ( health, wealth, longevity, even intelligence ) , humans, as a whole, have never done better. This is what we call direct observational evidence.

      • Clouds are a complete wild card here, very plausible that cloud feedback is overall negative.

        Okay, it is possible, but it has to be very negative to make the overall feedback negative.

        Eddie,

        Doom is kind of a tell-tale ( I chided ‘Science of Doom’ for his handle which presupposes doom ).

        I think SoD’s blog name was meant to be ironic.

      • attp, “Clouds are a complete wild card here, very plausible that cloud feedback is overall negative.

        Okay, it is possible, but it has to be very negative to make the overall feedback negative.”

        I don’t think there are many that think CO2 will cause global cooling. Water vapor and clouds though should tend to limit the amount of warming. Since water vapor and clouds are suppose to triple any warming by CO2 or anything else, that is a major reduction in the potential threat.

      • a net negative feedback does not imply overall cooling; only that the original impulse for warming is damped by feedbacks

      • Well, yes, I agree that what you say is true, but I think very few climate scientists think that the net feedback could be negative.

        Probably not. But the midpoint seems to be forcing of about 1.5 x CO2 alone:

      • a net negative feedback does not imply overall cooling; only that the original impulse for warming is damped by feedbacks

        Yes, I know. However, the water vapour + lapse rate + albedo is probably around 2W/m^2 – or slightly higher. So, if feedbacks are to be zero, or net negative, that would require clouds being -2W/m^2, or even more negative. Currently, it’s thought that clouds are net positive (but small) so this is quite different to our current understanding.

      • David Springer

        @Ken Rice (ATTP)

        You are so badly uninformed the difference between what you think you know and what you actually know is comical.

        Lapse rate feedback is negative.
        Planck feedback is negative.
        Aerosol feedback negative.

        Clouds have to be very positive to nullify those and all the evidence points to clouds as being negative feedback in and of themselves. Primary source of evidence of negativity in clouds is that tropical deserts have the highest mean annual temperature of all climate types. Not tropical rain forests. Not tropical ocean. Tropical desert. Write that down.

      • Eddie,

        Probably not. But the midpoint seems to be forcing of about 1.5 x CO2 alone:

        You may need to explain what you mean here. The net feedback is probably around 2W/m^2, which would given an ECS of

        ECS = 1.2 x 1/(1 – f) = 1.2 x 1/(1 – 2/3.7) = 2.6C.

      • Don Monfort

        ========> Currently, it’s dogma that clouds are net positive

      • I was referring to the left hand chart of feedbacks, not the ECS ( which I take as a unicorn ).

        BTW, with respect to water vapor feedback, it’s all too easy to conceive of a uniform atmosphere with inevitable feedback, but recently I started rummaging through the AR5 graphics and came across the following images.

        1.) Looks like two big Irises starting out from the Pacific Ocean – Iris Effect?

        2.) The Arctic exhibits a drying trend, in direct contradiction of presumed increase of latent heat transport to the poles.

        It’s all very interesting.

        and this ( figure a ):

      • I was referring to the left hand chart of feedbacks, not the ECS ( which I take as a unicorn ).

        Okay, but then I guess you meant 0.5, rather than 1.5? I guess we agree, from your graph, that the net fast feedback response is somewhere between 1W/m^2/K and just over 2W/m^2/K (I’ve just realised that I forgot the /K in my response to Judith).

      • Okay, but then I guess you meant 0.5, rather than 1.5?

        Yes. Of course there’s great uncertainty still, if for no other reason than the Hot Spot. Does it exist?

        If the Hot Spot does exist, both RAOB and MSU analyses would have to not only be wrong, but be wrong in just one region of the atmosphere.

        If the Hot Spot doesn’t exist, it means that the Lapse Rate feedback is not occurring – what does that say about the other feedbacks? That they’re less than expected?

        The lapse rate feedback is modelled to exist because of a vertical profile of temperature due to circulation. The same result might occur from horizontal distribution of temperature, which is kind of what the Iris thing seems to be about. I suspect that the dry spots in the humidity trends above reflects that. Perhaps the water vapor feedback has holes in it.

      • an Then There’s Physics: Okay, it is possible, but it has to be very negative to make the overall feedback negative.

        How much is “very” negative? A 1% increase in daytime summertime cloud cover per 1C global mean temperature increase ought to be enough, given the concomitant heat flux changes at the surface. You can make a case that the main result from a doubling of CO2 will be a slight increase in the amplitude of the oscillation between peaks of hot and cold, with no change in the global mean temp.

      • It doesn’t take much in terms of a change in cloud cover to provide a substantial negative feedback

      • It doesn’t take much in terms of a change in cloud cover to provide a substantial negative feedback

        Okay, but it depends on what type of clouds change and changes could also produce a positive forcing.

      • The elephant in the room here is that GCM’s on which the IPCC has largely based its conclusions are obviously no capturing the climate very well. There are many many pieces of evidence from the satellite lower troposphere data to the weather balloon data, to some interesting data about the effect of irrigation on nighttime temperatures.

        This has been going on long enough that it strikes me that the climate consensus community is to some extent in denial and needs to start looking serious at real explanations. Everything has been trotted out except that something fundamental is wrong with regards to clouds or convection.

      • attp, “Okay, but it depends on what type of clouds change and changes could also produce a positive forcing.”

        about 33.6% of clouds are the mid-level liquid-layer topped strati-form variety.

        http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/11925/2013/acp-13-11925-2013.pdf

        liquid-layer topped means their tops are actual water which has the same radiant spectrum of, well water. models can’t seem to simulate these clouds very well.

        http://www.april-network.org/~gc903759/phd/ABarrett_Thesis.pdf

        I wonder if Andrew got his puzzle solver papers yet? University of Reading should be in your neck of the woods.

      • and Then There’s Physics: Okay, but it depends on what type of clouds change and changes could also produce a positive forcing.

        Yes. There are a lot of “could bes” and “might bes” in this field.

        but you wrote: Okay, it is possible, but it has to be very negative to make the overall feedback negative.

        It does not “[have] to be” very negative, it “could be” slightly negative.

      • When it comes to clouds, I don’t recall ever looking down on a cloud illuminated by the Sun what wasn’t white. I believe all clouds will reflect Sunlight back into space, unless the cloud in question is below another cloud.

      • iiequalsexpipi

        @ ATTP –
        “However, the water vapour + lapse rate + albedo is probably around 2W/m^2 – or slightly higher.”

        I was under the impression that water vapour + lapse rate + fast surface albedo feedbacks gave a smaller feedback that this. For example, according to Soden & Held 2006, these 3 feedbacks would give 1.22 W/m^2/K as the central estimate, not 2 W/m^2/K. Could you please provide a reference as to why you think water vapour + lapse rate + fast surface albedo feedbacks are this strong?

        “You may need to explain what you mean here. The net feedback is probably around 2W/m^2, which would given an ECS of ECS = 1.2 x 1/(1 – f) = 1.2 x 1/(1 – 2/3.7) = 2.6C.”

        I was under the impression that 1.2 C as the no-feedback climate sensitivity is obtained due to rounding up and that 1.15 C is closer to the true value (http://www.globalwarmingequation.info/global%20warming%20eqn.pdf).

        If one uses 1.15 and 1.22 instead of 1.2 and 2, then one obtains:
        ECS = 1.15 x 1/(1 – 1.22/3.7) = 1.72C

        This is consistent with the empirical estimate of ECS of ~1.7 C found in Van Hateren 2012 (figure 6 a; only the estimate that uses a maximum decay time of 128 years is consistent with the ECS definition given by http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11574.html). Admittedly, Van Hateren 2012 is this arguably an underestimate since Van Hateren overstates the relative strength of the Sun to GHGs; however and ECS of ~1.7C is pretty consistent why my results (which use a similar methodology as Van Hateren but use more data, more explanatory factors of climate change and more decay times).

      • iiequalsexpipi

        I meant than this rather than that this in my last post. Sorry for the typo. :(

      • iiequalsexpipi

        more typos… Last paragraph should be

        This is consistent with the empirical estimate of ECS of ~1.7 C found in Van Hateren 2012 (figure 6 a; only the estimate that uses a maximum decay time of 128 years is consistent with the ECS definition given by http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11574.html). Admittedly, Van Hateren 2012 is arguably an underestimate since Van Hateren overstates the relative strength of the Sun to GHGs; however an ECS of ~1.7C is pretty consistent with my results (which use a similar methodology as Van Hateren but use more data, more explanatory factors of climate change and more decay times).

    • Aerosol feedback negative.

      Huh?

      • Well this is a rather tricky issue, as to whether aerosols should be considered as a ‘forcing’ or ‘feedback’. 10 yrs ago, this was unambiguous – should be forcing. Now as atmospheric chemistry modules are getting more sophisticated, with internal generation of aerosol particles and aerosol sink processes, feedback is becoming more relevant. Given the dominance of aerosol indirect effects (e.g. interactions with clouds), this really does become more of a feedback.

      • Okay, but it’s not defined as a feedback at the moment, is it? For it to be a feedback it would have to be a response to a change in temperature, rather than an anthropogenic emission?

      • well, if there is any change in winds/precip, this will influence the generation of soil/dust aerosol. Also, atmospheric chemistry reactions involved in aerosol generation may be temperature dependent (not my expertise).

      • I suppose it could be a feedback in some cases. Take the Smokey Mountains as an example. It’s hotter in the Summer and the trees emit more terpenes. This could be viewed as a response to the higher temperature of Summer and therefore a feedback.

        Mankind burning more coal in the Winter – a response to temperature, could also be viewed as a feedback.

  46. This thread should be renamed “Whac-A-Mole with attp”

    • Danny Thomas

      I’d like to offer props to ATTP for his contribution on this thread. Thru his interactions with Capt D and others clarity was gained by this observer. I’ve asked ATTP before his stand w/r/t policy and to his credit he’s stated clearly that that’s not his area of expertice and he preferred to stick to the science.

  47. I have become jaded.
    I don’t see truth winning out in this political shxt storm.

    The “spoils system” is so alive and well in the world today that I do not see a reversal of the current CAGW dogma occurring by a “change of heart” so to speak. I.E. it will not be brought about by a spirited and honest debate. The stakes are too high for truth to win out.

    CAGW will die only when temperatures have been stable or on their way down for 100 years. By that time everyone invested in, and currently milking the machine will be long dead as will be the politicians who support it. Like the Eugenics movement, all of the prestigious universities and government organizations that supported CAGW today will have conveniently purged their records.

    The victors not only get the spoils, they get to re-write historical records.

  48. So I guess what you are saying is that climate experts who support the consensus opinion don’t act ethically (or logically?) and therefore can’t be trusted. Is that about right?

    • Joesph – not sure if this question was for me…

      I have interacted with a bunch of climate scientists over the years, read many more, and heard from even more.

      Currently, the number of Climate Scientists that I “trust” can be counted on a single hand. That list includes our hostess Dr. Curry, Dr. Roy Spencer, and Dr. Richard Alley. I’m sure there’s a couple of more, but their names are not leaping to mind.

  49. It just occurred to me that I haven’t noticed anyone drawing any connections with what’s going on with forensic science (maybe I missed it?). The FBI just admitted that certainty around hair analysis was overstated for decades:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/after-fbi-admits-overstating-forensic-hair-matches-focus-turns-to-cases/2015/04/20/a846aca8-e766-11e4-9a6a-c1ab95a0600b_story.html
    I think that field is self patrolled by experts with a big stake in upholding their own versions of the “science”. Would love to see a bigger post on potential parallels. Don’t know that this is the best article but it sums up some of what I’ve been reading.
    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/24/badforensics/

    • You can look up more if you wish

      “Dr Waney Squier, a paediatric neuropathologist, is due to appear before the General Medical Council (GMC) tomorrow accused of “bias” and “dishonesty” after disputing the existence of “shaken baby syndrome” in a number of court cases.”

      Many lives ruined, unjust incarcerations, and so on. When an expert does a backflip, should they suffer a penalty similar to those imposed as a result of the incorrect expert opinion?

      As I said before, experts offer opinions, generally accept money and other benefits, and generally feel no obligation to rectify any harm caused by opinions later shown to be incorrect.

      Maybe penalties for incorrect opinions might deter a few experts from dispensing quite as much snake oil as they have.

    • Without getting into areas where the consensus hasn’t yet backed down but probably should, off the top of my head we have:

      Cholesterol dietary recommendations
      Hair analysis in court
      Bite-mark analysis in court
      Recovered memories in court
      Annual mammograms for young women
      Banning of silicone-gel breast implants

      as cases where the government appealed to false scientific consensuses to justify its policies. In each case, the popular perception of overwhelming evidence in favor of the policy turned out on closer examination to be misleading. In each case a small number of weak studies combined with strong bureaucratic interest exaggerated the clarity of what ought to be done in the light of the evidence. (I also left out of this cases where the science was OK but the policy conclusions from that science were overzealous, as in the banning of thalidomide and Accutane.)

      • How about if you get into the areas where the “consensus” was correct?

        You’d generate a list that is probably longer by many orders of magnitude.

        So what does that tell you about any particular issue?

        Absolutely nothing. The best you can do is assess any particular issue on the evidence available.

      • Not to mention that when an expert “consensus” is overturned, it is generally by “experts.”

      • I would like to see a list of areas where without good predictions and confirmation that a “correct” scientific consensus has stood up. New ideas are challenging for the old guard to accept and they don’t go away without some rigorous evidence. The world is often more complex and interesting than our early theories to explain it and “correct” seems to go hand in hand with “settled” which science is not really about. (Maybe some forms of engineering for some applications-but I’m not that dogmatic there either.) Maybe the Big Bang would be on the list of consensus science without strong predictions? But I’m not sure that applies (not sure of relation of predictions and big bang theory). I struggle to think of more examples of consensus without predictions and rigorous evidence. String theory is elegant but lacks evidence that is beyond a good fit to the data -however it is hardly argued as consensus – yet catastrophic AGW is. (Why, besides politics, is catastrophic AGW more deserving for consensus than string theory? You can express doubts about string theory.)

        Anyone comes up with four areas of consensus without prediction and testing that still stand today and I am impressed. If those consensus positions developed as rapidly as with catastrophic AGW, or near as recently – then mark me doubly impressed.

        But most theories need a bit of confirmation before they are embraced (and even are challenged after the evidence comes in up until the predictive power is near indisputable): continental drift, evolution, germ theory, inoculations, ulcers caused by bacteria.. As regards Kuhn paradigm shifts in science I understand it is not so much that the keepers of the old consensus are ever convinced by the new evidence, it is that they die off and the new accept the contradictory evidence.

        On this page Steve Mosher defines an understanding of the science of CO2 that I would see as a likely “correct” consensus. I wonder if that is like the theory of common descent through evolution, while the catastrophic fear of AGW is like the now discredited eugenics ideas that often went hand in hand with an understanding of evolution earlier in history.

      • My bad Mosher was on a different thread – here’s what I was referring to.

        1. C02 is a GHG
        2. GHGs make the planet warmer than it would be otherwise
        3. Man is responsible for the increase in c02
        4. Man is contributing to climate change.

      • I remove Big Gang Theory from the list. It made predictions verified afterwards but still many years later was battling steady state theory.
        A long slow consensus built on specific predictions and accumulating evidence.

        Vague general predictions of extreme weather, a list of trends some which continue and some which don’t is really the stuff of mediums, clairvoyants and holy men.

      • ==> ” yet catastrophic AGW is….”

        What does mean?

        (1) That it is argued that there is a “consensus” that BAU with ACO2 emissions may, within a range of possible outcomes cause dangerous (to humans) climate change?

        Or are you saying:

        (2) That it is argued that there is “consensus” that BAU with ACO2 emissions will definitely cause dangerous (to humans) climate change?

        ‘Cause while I often see (2) in the rhetoric of “skeptics” – as a caricature of the “consensus opinion” – in reality it is a rhetorical distortion. The “consensus opinion” is (1), not (2).

        Why do we see “skeptics” make that mischaracterization so frequently ?

      • Joshua – nice dodge. I would think it near obvious that don’t really think there is a scientific consensus on 2, but many people alarmed about the climate represent it that way. How clever to make it look like the skeptics are the ones twisting here. You can see from my final point that I think the representation put forth by Steve Mosher is reasonable and would not argue that a concensus there was premature. I don’t know what your question is getting at likely it’s a trivial point you are making if any. You want to shift likely because you can’t think of any examples where folks have proclaimed a scientific concensus in such a short time with so little prediction and verification.

      • while the catastrophic fear of AGW is like the now discredited eugenics ideas

        Aplanningengineer, it doesn’t have to be “catastrophic” (whatever that means) to need to do something about it.

      • Joseph: Aplanningengineer, it doesn’t have to be “catastrophic” (whatever that means) to need to do something about it.

        Is that your admission that the warming in fact is unlikely to have catastrophic consequences? (end of civilization was predicted by Barton Paul Levenson at RealClimate; mass starvations have been predicted by Ehrlich and Holdren; flooding of the periphery of Manhattan Island has been predicted by Hansen; the end of snow as we know it has been predicted more than once.) It’s not that “catastrophic” has remained undefined.

      • PE –

        You’re pointing to something that isn’t the “scientific consensus” and then asking why has there been a “scientific consensus” so quickly.

        As for what is the “scientific consensus” actually is rather than what “many people” say Arguments about the definition of that consensus seems to, at least sometimes, boil down to whether there is sufficient evidence to be very confident that anthropogenic forcing has been been larger than “natural” in recent decades. Arguing about the issue of resulting impact to society is essentially a red herring.

        As for that actual “consensus” – either way you go with it, there are clear reasons why the question of whether or not a “consensus” exists has become an issue for both sides of the climate wars. It is an issue because the question has become politically polarized. Arguments about whether there is a “scientific consensus” is a focus in many polarized discussions on similar time frames. For example, whether blacks are genetically destined to be less intelligent (I.E., Charles Murray and “dysgenic degeneration”), whether gun control results in fewer deaths, whether taxes help or hurt an economy, whether vaccines cause autism, whether HIV causes AIDS, whether abortions are associated with negative mental health outcomes for women, or whether women have a natural ability to “shut that whole thing down” in cases of “legitimate rape.” etc. In all those cases people refer to the predominance of “expert” opinion as a roadmap for navigating doubt, uncertainty, controversy, etc.

      • These debates over wording or so tiring and ridiculous.

        There is a mindset, tribe, sub-culture (maybe the dominant culture) or whatever your preferred name for a grouping that has identified a problem that needs fixing and views wholesale shared commitments to their preferred solutions as litmus test. Some tribal members say “settled science”, refer to the scientific consensus, call those who raise troubling questions “flat earthers”, label people like Judith Curry, Bjorn Lomborg and Matt Ridley deniers as well as many that sound any negative notes.

        I don’t like the terms consensus science, settled science, deniers or such but in order to communicate with some true-believers you have to use their language. To turn that language around to indict someone trying to have a dialogue with you is ……. (at a loss for words here – need one that encompasses arrogance, chutzpah and willful ignorance)

        When talking of evolution the proper words are not “consensus” or “settled science”, they are more along the lines of “the overwhelming body of evidence”, “proven to be extremely useful” and a “falsifiable theory which has failed to have been falsified”. With evolution scientists can state many things that “could” be observed that would call evolutionary theory into doubt, but this things to occur (Precambrian rabbits). The climate alarm mindset has drifted from this language because it does not work for them.

        And for Joseph – I never said anything has to be proven before action is taken. (I don’t know what the deal is with assigning people positions they never advocate.) But you might want to have some reasonable understanding of probabilities before you undertaken costly huge scale changes which will be of dubious value in any case. A meteor, airplane or lightning could strike my house tomorrow, but that’s not a good reason to check my family into a hotel tonight.

        Get back to J’s original point, where have there been “consensuses” similar to this “climate consensus” (or settled science) that have proven to be correct? The assumption was they were too numerous to list. I’m just asking for four.

      • David Springer

        Where else was consensus needed in order to buttress a case?

        Only soft sciences need consensus.

        One experiment is worth a thousand expert opinions.

        Write that down.

      • The original point was that “concensus can and has been wrong”. Your point seemed to be that overwhelmingly the concensus was right. We got off into the weeds on words.

        So up to now we have the concensus was wrong on continental drift, ulcers and bacteria, much of forensic science,dietary cholesterol, recovered memories….

        And you offer the concensus was correct on blacks not being intelligent,whether women can shut the whole thing down, vaccines and autism, taxes, gun control, and whether abortion is a net good or bad for mental health, and aids causing HIV. I’m underwhelmed and done.

      • PE –

        Difficult to respond….you make a series of points but don’t want me to respond point-by-point, and Judith considers it cluttering the blog with unuseful comments if I respond point-by-point..

        Well, not sure what else I should do….

        As for the tribalists who call people “deniers” and the like, I think it is pointless and counterproductive, but it has nothing to do with the discussion of the expert consensus per se and whether we can find algorithms for assessing the value of “expert consensus” . It is a related but distinctly different issue.

        As for the examples I gave, they were examples of where there were disputes about politicized issues and where people refer to a prevalence of view among experts, within a short time frame, as a way to navigate uncertainty and controversy. The point of reference for my response was the question of why do people tend to establish the existence of a “consensus” on a short time frame for referencing in controversies.

        The reason that you can rattle off a list of when the “scientific consensus” was wrong is because of the “exception proves the rule” phenomenon. There are exponentially more times when the “expert consensus” has been right. And when it has been wrong, it is usually an “expert” community that is relied on to determine the error; consider your list if you need examples. That, of course, does not mean that an expert consensus is dispositive – it only calls in to question the logic of trying to generalize some larger pattern from the reality that sometimes the “expert consensus” is overturned, and that sometime the “outgroup” plays a role in that process.

        ==> “To turn that language around to indict someone trying to have a dialogue with you is ……. ”

        If directed at me, I wasn’t intending to “indict” you. I was pointing to a complicating factor, IMO, in how you were framing the discussion.

        As for whether there has been a consensus similar to the climate consensus, well… that depends on how you define the term – do you mean the scientific consensus which is a statement of the science that includes probability ranges, or do you mean claims that catastrophic climate change is certain? If it is the latter, that isn’t the expert consensus. If it is the latter, there are many such examples where in polarized contexts, people use a distorted vision of expert consensus to justify tribalism.

      • How many issues are there where have there been where there was a high prevalence of agreement among experts, and where there was a minority in dissent, and where the more prevalent view prevailed?

        Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? And often, when there were discussions about the discrepancy in view, because for some reason the issue became controversial on a meaningful scale outside of the “expert” community, the existence of a disproportion in the prevalence of view was part of the discussion.

        When there exists a wide disparity of views in the “expert” community over an issue that become polarized in the general community, it only stands to reason that people will speak about that disparity in views. And sometimes, the more prevalent view, over time, will prove to be wrong.

        Should we disregard the majority expert view on the casual mechanism between HIV and AIDS and assume the minority expert view correct because of plate tectonics?

      • Well … cave men got it wrong, Aristotle got it wrong, Sedziwoj got it wrong, Becher got it wrong, Newton got it wrong (at least twice) , Thomson got it wrong, Rutherford got it wrong, Fedyakin got it wrong, Einstein got it wrong, the list goes on.

      • Joshua – we don’t have to hash out everything and get agreement on all the details. I’m not trying to change your mind or shut down your perspective. Just offer of mine understanding of my views. Not asking for you to dissect them and counter each piece. You caught me on a soft spot on your last sentence tying together AIDs and Climate I guess we both see some similarities between them, but react in the opposite way in both cases. I think there are tremendous similarities between what happened with science and the media and attempts to impact policy and behavior.

        It’s true some people denied that HIV caused Aids (Duesberg I believe was a leader). I hear there are the Sky Dragons with Climate- I don’t know anything about them. In both cases these groups were/are pretty marginal but used by one group (alarmists) to taint others (those who think the fears are being exaggerated).

        Like Matt Ridley today is a voice arguing the disaster scenarios may be over-emphasized, Michael Fumento wrote on how the Aids scares were overblown.

        Oprah said one fifth of heterosexual couples would be dead of Aids by 1990. (http://fumento.com/aids/pozaids.html ) Scare stories were rampant in the media and as plot lines on TV and from various public figures. Much like we hear of near term starvation, climate refugees, extinction and flooding.

        Scientists receiving funding do better by stressing the importance of what they do. Bad and cost ineffective policies were adopted. The risks as understood by the general population were magnitudes higher than actual. (Check out the numbers today – in the US with infected partners and no condoms the transmission rates seem shockingly low – yet many spoke with near certainty that the virus would jump the latex barrier at a high rate in the 80s and 90s.) Keeping with the precautionary principle people with ridiculously minimal chances of getting AIDS changed their behaviors (true though -others more at risk did not). Many people would argue that cutting down on sex is a good thing in itself regardless of AIDS risk, just like today many people argue that shifting to renewables is a good thing whether we need to or not due to CO2 induced warming.

        My then junior high school daughter was in one of the AIDs scare type school programs. She was supposed to interview her parents about AIDs and we were supposed to tell her AIDs where one of the most important reasons why she should not have sex. I told her, that as a young girl there are many important reasons she should not be having sex, but the remote chance of AIDS entering her life in this way did not merit a mention among the many more important major reasons which I did elaborate on. I honestly talked about real risks and that the decision to have sex was not one a child should make for a host of reasons. In retrospect looking at the numbers where we lived had she been among the most promiscuous junior high student in history, her chances of catching AIDS would have been well below her chance of being struck by lighting, wining the lottery and certainly being killed in a car accident coming home from band practice. But unlike many of her classmates, who’s parents provided the school sanctioned answer – she did not end up pregnant or promiscuous.

        Some believe you have to scare people to get them to do the right thing. I’m not so sure I know what the right thing is, and anyway the honest thing is to tell people the real risks as best you know them.

      • Time was, Joshua, when there was a consenus in
        the West, that the earth was only 6000years old.
        And there was a consensus a century back that
        rain followed the plough. And there was once a
        time, yer might recall, when when the earth was
        thought to be the centre of the universe. Hey
        the consensus had it on the highest authority.

        Seems a thousand people can be wrong, 97%
        of a populace even.

      • PE –

        Again, whether issues are hyped doesn’t speak to the value of “expert consensus.”

        Beth, how many times have a minority of experts been wrong and the majority of experts been right? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?

      • Danny Thomas

        Joshua,
        It only matters how the “consensus” is portrayed and if it’s accurate within a specific area of study. You’ve chastised me for stating that my view of the current state of “climate science” being is viewed based on my experience with the cooling of the 1970’s. So I will equally chastise you for evaluating the current state of “climate science” based on “consensus” in other areas of study. Same-same.
        We all know the term “consensus” is expanded from the CAGW/AGW side as supporting the entirety of the IPCC view. The skeptical side questions the nuts and bolts which make up that entirety.

      • Joshua –

        >Again, whether issues are hyped doesn’t speak to the value of “expert consensus.”

        It speaks to policy which impacts people directly. I don’t have a huge interest in some abstraction called “expert concensus”. When scientists fight misinformation on one side of a debate and encourage it on the other, they are part of the hype.

      • Danny –

        ==> “So I will equally chastise you for evaluating the current state of “climate science” based on “consensus” in other areas of study.”

        But my point is that we shouldn’t be doing that.

        My point of bringing in to play “expert consensus” in other areas is in rebuttal to he arguments being made that examples of where the “expert consensus” was wrong is a useful model for evaluating the validity of the “expert consensus” in general, and the “consensus” on climate change, specifically. I bring in the issue of other consensuses to show that using the fact of consensus opinions being overturned in the past is questionable, because it amounts to “cherry-picking.”

        My point in bringing in other examples is to further reinforce my argument that it is fallacious to use other examples as a guide, but that instead the merits of the science (and the related “consensus”) need to be judged on their own.

        Using the prevalence of “expert” opinion on controversial subjects is a useful, and flawed, heuristic. Nothing more and nothing less. We all, in various parts of our lives, rely on evaluating the “consensus of experts” even though we know it is an imperfect heuristic. When I can’t evaluate science on its own merits, I can use the prevalence of “expert” opinion as a guide to probabilities – with the accompanying understanding that the existence of a consensus is not, in and of itself, dispositive.

        ==> “We all know the term “consensus” is expanded from the CAGW/AGW side as supporting the entirety of the IPCC view.”

        As Is the uncertainty expanded into “it’s all a hoax,” or “climate scientists don’t recognize uncertainty and a whole hose of other distortions that Judith will think uninteresting if I lest.

        ==> “The skeptical side questions the nuts and bolts which make up that entirety.”

        This is cherry-picked. “The skeptical side” does many things, as does the other side.

      • Danny Thomas

        How in the world is it considered “cherry-picking” to use the comparison of “the consensus” being used as cover to indicate that “mainstream” science is accurate about the entirety of the discussion of climate when it was pointed out that “skeptics” are considered “skeptics” BECAUSE they evaluate the “nuts and bolts” (even if they happen to accept that it’s warming?)?
        By applying “the consensus” to the entirety it’s by extension being applied to each of those nuts and bolts. The “skeptical” issues are with the nuts and bolts and if one is proven to be of issue, then “the consensus” has no validity.
        How the CAGW/AGW side cannot comprehend that is beyond me. This seems to me to be about the worst tool in the toolbox.

      • Danny –

        Once again, I’m in a bit of a corner. People don’t want me to repeat arguments in long posts, but IMO, then people keep writing comments to my comments that, IMO, don’t address the points that I’ve made and that list a series of points that I would like to rebut….

        Well, anyway….

        So allow me to make one more comment on this sub-thread and then we’ll move on to agree or disagree (I’ll read any further responses you have, or course).

        ==> “…when it was pointed out that “skeptics” are considered “skeptics” BECAUSE they evaluate the “nuts and bolts” (even if they happen to accept that it’s warming?)?”

        My point was that you were cherry-picking to describe what “skeptics” do. “Skeptics,” like “realists,” come in all sizes and stripes. Some “skeptics” do as you describe and some folks on both sides hype the science in various directions. But whether they do or not doesn’t speak to the value in considering whether there is an “expert consensus.”

        => “By applying “the consensus” to the entirety it’s by extension being applied to each of those nuts and bolts. The “skeptical” issues are with the nuts and bolts and if one is proven to be of issue, then “the consensus” has no validity.”

        I don’t know what this means. The “expert consensus” is what it is. Some “skeptics” argue that the only thing that they disagree with the “expert consensus” about is whether or not the warming attributable to ACO2 is greater than 50% of recent warming. Some say they disagree more strongly, to doubt that there is significant warming attributable to ACO2. Some disagree by saying that there has been no measurable warming at all. Some disagree and say that actually there has been cooling. Some disagree and say that determining a global measurement of warming isn’t meaningful in any scientific sense. Some disagree and say that ACO2 doesn’t cause warming at a magnitude significant enough to cause warming. Some disagree and say that any of the warming that has been claimed to be measured is explainable by fraud and adjustments made for the intent of “scaring” the public. And some disagree and say that ACO2 doesn’t cause warming.

        ==> “How the CAGW/AGW side cannot comprehend that is beyond me.”

        I don’t know what you are saying that the “CAGW/AGW side cannot comprehend. That looks to me like: (1) a polemic and (2) an unverifiable generalization in service of (3) a straw man.

        Consider the recent hype about Ebola, where folks where hyping a skeptical view (I’m not saying that they were only climate “skeptics,” although they did largely share a common ideological orientation with most “skeptics”) of the “expert consensus” on Ebola.

        So my question is whether that development was in any way instructive as to whether or not it is a useful (but imperfect) heuristic to try to assess uncertainty in complicated issues on the basis of whether not there is an “expert consensus.”

        I say that the fact that there was hype about the great dangers of Ebola – in opposition to what the “expert consensus” said – tells us nothing about the usefulness of the heuristic of referring to an “expert consensus,” just as any hype that takes place with climate change is a related, but separate issue that tells us nothing as to whether the existence of an “expert consensus” on climate change is a useful (but imperfect) heuristic.

        Have a good evening.

      • Danny Thomas

        It is not my intention whatsoever to reframe your argument. My intent is to state that I have issue with “the expert consensus” as it is portrayed. It is used as a tool to challenge any sort of skeptical position as it is indicated to be that 97% of climate scientists agree with a single position. My impression (not attempting to restate yours) is that there are a myriad of “skeptical” positions ranging from outright denial of any warming; to it’s warming but not caused by man; to it’s caused by man to some extent but how much is uncertain as well as how harmful (if at all).
        So in short, if one defends the consensus it must be defended on all fronts or be invalid or it doesn’t warrant being defended because it’s put forth as covering 97% of all climate scientists expert opinion on the entirety. And it’s only an evaluation of a subset of abstracts by those with the highest volume of published papers.
        If there is a consensus (and this is as I understand your argument) on any other topic it holds no value in the climate discussion. Those are two separate discussions.
        You state that the””consensus” is what it is.” What the consensus is stated as, is not how it’s used. Do we really disagree?

      • Nice postings Danny. Thanks.

      • Joshua’s “argument” ignores the points aPE and I were making: If you condition the “policy consensus” on the level of evidence provided and how that consensus was formed (herded together consciously or independently arrived at by investigators with strong incentives to be correct), then should see a significant difference across consensuses. In those times when consensus was based on weak evidence and political herding, you should see a high rate of eventual collapse (assuming that the regulations aren’t self-sealing, as in the National Institute for Drug Abuse making it almost impossible to do research on the benefits of marijuana and then saying that there was only weak evidence of same). In those cases where the consensus was found by the “classical” process of science, you should see a high rate of strong and improving confirmation of the consensus over time.

        I listed a bunch of examples where a “policy consensus” formed based on ex ante weak evidence and political herding, e.g. recovered memories of child sexual abuse that couldn’t be questioned because “children don’t lie” and “we have to believe the children.” Anyone looking objectively at how that consensus formed at the time–including me as well as many others–could tell that this was going to end in tears. Unfortunately, it took a long time and a lot of needlessly ruined lives for that “consensus” to be unwound, because the unwinding involved huge reputational costs for all those who had fallen in with it.

  50. Lots of parallels in the science of nutrition. How many times have we heard that “xyz” is bad for you, only to hear later that no, its really “abc,” and then still later that bacon is actually good for you and extends your life!

    Of course, the grand example comparison is Eugenics.

    • David Springer

      Eugenics is based on sound science and unsound morals. the polar opposite of climate change which is based on unsound science and sound morals.

      .

  51. Craig Loehle

    The most serious ethical lapse I see is the tendency to jump from “serious warming” to radical policy prescriptions (Hansen urging all coal plants shut down) without any attempt to evaluate the feasibility or consequences of these actions. Urging and succeeding in getting governments to not allow investments in power plants in Africa and then pretending that is not your fault (and that Africa should just jump ahead to renewables by some magical method) is not ethical.

  52. > This is pretty much the point I have been trying to make with my Uncertainty Monster arguments.

    Like this, perhaps:

    This report communicates uncertainty, for example, by showing the results of sensitivity analyses and by quantitatively presenting ranges in cost
    numbers as well as ranges in the scenario results. This report does not apply formal IPCC uncertainty terminology because at the time of the
    approval of this report, IPCC uncertainty guidance was in the process of being revised.

    https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srren/SRREN_FD_SPM_final.pdf

    This is the first footnote that we can find on the first page of the introduction. There are 73 other occurences of “uncerta” in the Summary for Policy Makers. This is under the ration of the Uncertainty Monster essay (i.e. it’s not a scientific paper), which contains 177 occurences in less than ten pages.

    That footnote seems to contradict this claim in the Monster essay:

    The IPCC guidance for characterizing uncertainty for the AR4 (WMO 2005) describes three approaches for indicating confidence in a particular result and/or that the likelihood that a particular conclusion is correct:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2011BAMS3139.1

    ***

    If the point is to abide by the principle “admit when you don’t know, when you’re guessing, and when your opinion is only a reasonable estimate,” then Hardwig’s point is a tad weaker than what is said in Monster paper’s, e.g.:

    The recommendations made by the IAC concerning the IPCC’s characterization of uncertainty are steps in the right direction in terms of dealing with the uncertainty monster. Curry (2011a) further argued that a concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, exploring and characterizing uncertainty,
    reasoning about uncertainty in the context of evidence-based logical hierarchies, and eliminating bias from the consensus building process itself.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/2011BAMS3139.1

    So it seems that the Monster Essay itself handwaves to another one. Here’s the abstract of that one:

    This paper argues that the IPCC has oversimplified the issue of uncertainty in its Assessment Reports, which can lead to misleading overconfidence. A concerted effort by the IPCC is needed to identify better ways of framing the climate change problem, explore and characterize uncertainty, reason about uncertainty in the context of evidence-based logical hierarchies, and eliminate bias from the consensus building process itself

    http://www.climateaccess.org/sites/default/files/Curry_Reasoning%20about%20climate%20uncertainty.pdf

    The emphasized point goes beyond Harwig’s point. While we can say that Judy’s point emphasized above could imply Harwig’s point, the converse is not true. Abiding by Harwig’s point does not suffice to reach Judy’s conclusion, and doing so would be question begging.

    ***

    Incidentally, Harwig’s point is quite trivial. As soon as we admit that empirical sciences are conjectural, all we can get from them are educated guesses, expert opinions, and reasonable estimates,

    This means that all we need to satisfy Harwig’s desiderata would be some kind of legalese boilerplate like this:

    Interpretations and Conclusions. The authors are reminding issuers that it is a new requirement to disclose significant risks and uncertainties and any related foreseeable impacts of risks and uncertainties on the project and some 36% of the reports did not disclose specific project risks on potential outcomes and mitigating factors.

    http://www.securitiesmininglaw.com/category/continuous-disclosure

    What’s good for the Canadian mining industry should be good for an organization that runs with a smaller budget than the smallest penny stock.

    • Don Monfort

      I wonder how many people will read that, willy. You got too much time on your hands. Or maybe not much time. Think about it.

    • Don Monfort

      I didn’t read it, willy. Your only hope is Mr. T.

      I will give you a tip, my little friend. Try to make a point without having to put a bunch of crap in italics and also expecting your readers (if any) to follow a bunch of links to whatever. Don’t be so freaking tedious.

      • Thank you for the unsollicited advice, Don Don. The current “bunch of links to whatever” lead to Judy’s essays and the IPCC’s SPM. Are you suggesting Denizens could not care less to read these?

        I’m quite confident that Mr. T very likely pays attention to them.

        Another quote from the SPM with “uncerta” in it:

        Climate change will have impacts on the size and geographic distribution of the technical potential for RE sources, but research into the magnitude of these possible effects is nascent. Because RE sources are, in many cases, dependent on the climate, global climate change will affect the RE resource base, though the precise nature and magnitude of these impacts is uncertain. The future technical potential for bioenergy could be influenced by climate change through impacts on biomass production such as altered soil conditions, precipitation, crop productivity and other factors. The overall impact of a global mean temperature change of less than 2°C on the technical potential
        of bioenergy is expected to be relatively small on a global basis. However, considerable regional differences could be expected and uncertainties are larger and more difficult to assess compared to other RE options due to the large number of feedback mechanisms involved.

        https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srren/SRREN_FD_SPM_final.pdf

        Does that satisfy Hardwig’s (not Harwig as I wrote earlier) first point, in your opinion, Don Don?

      • David Springer

        “Are you suggesting Denizens could not care less to read these?”

        When it’s you making the references, you bet. I read none of your long diatribes. Keep it to a hundred words or so and I can’t help it because that much appears with your name in the same glance which is assimilated before I can consciously decide to ignore it based on the source.

    • Hilarious – full of half-truths, nonsense and ends up promoting a largely evidence-free fad diet.

      A bit more scepticism might not go astray Judith.

      • David Springer

        Which half truths? Palea diet I suppose is a promoted fad but I don’t see how that differs from promoted fads like windmills, electric cars, and compact florescent light bulbs that your ilk peddles.

      • Quotes from the article;

        ” Animal fat and butter were considered unhealthy…”

        It was always a matter of quantity – too much was considered unhealthy. Still is.

        “For years, saturated fats like butter and bacon became public enemy number one. People flocked to the supermarket to buy up “heart healthy” margarines. And yet Americans were getting fatter.”

        Again, overall consumption was, and is, the issue, and combined with a lack of exercise = weight gain.

        Then there’s the headline – bone-headed stupidity, rather than a ‘half-truth’.

    • The point is not really ones diet though I’ll have to look at a paleo one. Networks can self organize as at the link above. If 97% of scientist agree agree about global warming, there is still everyone else who is not a scientist. Networks can bring down experts. It seems the experts would react by not saying everyone who is not expert is probably wrong and then ignore the specific network that is not in agreement with what they think. I am kind of libertarian. Maybe one reason is governments don’t self organize so well using command and control, but man apparently does while not using command and control. A specific large climate science node of that network (one individual or professional society) can attempt to control much of the network. But the network self organizes, and can switch paths and use other nodes and even isolate that large node. In the context of skeptics, lukewarmers and the consensus, the network keeps evolving, changing paths and nodes and isolating segments. But the network is ever changing and paths are also being rebuilt across the 3 segments. I suppose we’ve seen that between the skeptics and lukewarmers. As skeptics and lukewarmers get some things right, some in the consensus will build bridges to that. Attempting to sever parts of the network probably isn’t needed as the network does that by itself, by rating a nodes value. Automatically evolving towards ideas that have value. Attempting to structure the network for ones own wishes will probably fail. It’s likely that the network will evolve away from those making those attempts but evolve back to them if the later have something of value. From my own perspective, CPAs cannot win by excluding everyone who is not a CPA. We have to provide value and not claim we are the network so you have to listen to us and have no other choices.

    • Is there a network of anti-vaccers bringing down public health experts?

      • Yeah, Robert Kennedy and his team brought down Oregon.

      • The anti-vaccer thing is kind of interesting. But their “solutions” don’t have a significant effect on the presumed problems they purport that they have identified.

        This means they are either identifying the wrong problems, or proposing the wrong solutions.

      • Joshua:
        “Is there a network of anti-vaccers (AVers) bringing down public health experts?”
        The AVers do not connect so much with the Vaccinator network. The end up in their own AV network. The Vaccinator network is probably trying to help everyone but the fact that they have many experts and fair government support has not convinced a material portion of the people. I think with this issue there is a knowledge deficit about all the effects of vaccines even amongst the experts. From the AVers there may be some information that does flow to the Vaccinators. They have various talents beyond concocting conspiracy theories. Do we recall this movie: Lorenzo’s Oil ? With vaccination there once was a strong network. There was also a lack of information and a trust of the Vaccinators. With more sources of information, the internet, they lost their monopoly on information, and granted some of it has lower value. So the job of the experts became more difficult. If the Vaccinators engaged the AVers effectively, there’s a better chance they’d accomplish their goals.

  53. Regarding the issue of clouds and feedback (positive or negative) in the AGW debate. Everyone in the AGW debate agrees that currently clouds provide an overall negative feedback (Dr. Curry’s text gives -20 W/m2; Dr. Pierrehumbert’s text gives -19 W/m2). Given this agreed upon cloud negative feedback effect; how can the AGW community argue that the H2O feedback due to increasing CO2 is strictly positive? Clouds are an unknown unknown so being “highly confident” regarding H2O feedback seems to be a political (not scientific) statement.

    • While reading the most recent Scientific American for its hatchet job on Nic Lewis’s research and ClimateAudit.org, which was the subject of the most recent CA blog post, I noticed the article inform the reader on cloud feedback.

      Consider clouds, for example, which are the other great unknowns in climate science. About 10 years ago, scientists did not know whether clouds were warming or cooling the planet. Now, they have more insights into their behavior.

      Of,course the reader is to assume that further cloud research has strengthened the AGW theory. Is this intentional? You bet. By the way, they corrected the untrue and libelous assertion that Bjorn Stevens said that Nic Lewis misinterpreted his paper here.

      • The problem here is the homogeneity of the science/journalism communities with respect to some beliefs is so bad that they are so biased they don’t know they are biased and saying biased things.

        The groupthink and echo chamber effects have made it impossible for them to write from a neutral viewpoint, since they think an extremely biased viewpoint is neutral.

  54. A very clever post. I cannot agree strongly enough with your general characterization of the ethics of expertice. But I have as a scientist though not a climate one have done my own survey of expertice. And it is obvious that there are amble reasons for strong climate action. And so I think that I am justified in no longer following every detail of the remaining debate. So I also believe that I am justified in treating this post as obfuscation. Or at best an overreaction to a minor disagreement. Good day to you.

  55. ‘Expertice?’ ‘Amble reasons.’ )

  56. Geoff Sherrington

    It is difficult to generalise about scientists and their motivations when there are different classes of scientists, for example ‘hard’ scientists (more observation-based, often, like chemistry and physics) and ‘soft’ scientists (more into beliefs and predictions, like the messenger before the message, the message before the data, like much psychology).
    Many bloggers above are limiting their words to climate ‘science’, a category that some of us harder scientists are concerned about, because its deviations from good science seem to exceed its conformity to good science. Of course, there are good climate scientists and poor climate scientists, but the general view over the past decade is that the latter spend too much time trying to discredit the former, which is not at all scientific, but more the material of weekly pulp/gossip magazines.
    In essence, some methods like data mining and data snooping are seldom seen in my old science of geochemistry (which is commonly combined with geology and geophysics for the large field of mineral exploration and evaluation).
    This is because there is only negative value from methods that cherry pick or distort the picture, when one does exploration work. Indeed, that negative value extends to serious breaches of law, when the occasional cowboy is discovered – as they tend to be, rapidly, in their lifetimes. More fundamentally, however, those in the hard sciences have long realised that an ‘imaginary’ discovery does not exist, so there is no point in favouring data treatments that include make-believe. One does not even try to wish a new ore deposit into existence. The rarity of new ore bodies is assumed, then steps are taken to turn rarity into discovery.
    The hard sciences are less prone to produce hockey stick type reconstructions, because they seem inherently excluded from studies of examples of how Nature presents us with clues. Hard sciences would rarely, if ever, invert data responses like Finnish sediments. Hard sciences would rarely conduct multivariate analyses (except to learn about limitations) with as many uncontrollable or loose variables as found in tree rings to calculate historic temperatures.
    In short, the mind set of the hard scientist is rather different to that of the climate scientist as might be derived from reading years of blogging on relevant topics.
    Please do not believe that all science is on a journey to the LCD set by popular climate science. However, please be warned of the long-term danger of including too much of the poor philosophy and ethics of pop climate science in education of our young.

    That said, much of the ethical stance of a scientist develops from the ethics shown by cohorts. Climate science ethics lack a huge component, that being punitive outcomes for those who group around and watch bad things happen, instead of enforcing ethical standards. It’s still cowboys and the wild west for most climate science, but unfortunately many cowboys do not know this. Their cohorts are not listened to as much as they should be. Metaphorically, they are shot instead.
    Thank you Judith.

    • The difference between the practice of hard science and soft science does not necessarily arise from the subject matter under study or the general field of enquiry, but resides mainly in the quality of the individual scientist and the degree of detachment shown toward the end results of his or her work.

    • There are differences between hard and soft sciences, but some of the drivers are the same. Sometimes they are too close to the “science” to be objective. Scientists in related areas may see with better clarity. Scientist working on superconductors have been overly optimistic in projecting breakthroughs. Other scientists and engineers may have had more pessimism. I don’t think there is any dishonesty there or deliberate misleading to get research dollars. They are working on superconductors because they are optimistic about the technology, On the soft side virtually none of the Political scientists focused on Soviet Russia saw the fall coming. They were invested as specialist. Others within Political Science and organizatinal behavior were better positioned to pick up on the signs.

      • There is a problem when a scientist has too much skin in the game and they become too emotionally involved to be truly objective about their results. Far too often, their narrative is driven more by ideology rather than on the results of their research, such as, for example, the narrative from the IPCC often seemingly in conflict with the underlying work that has been done.

      • David Springer

        Reputations are at stake now. If global warming science doesn’t pan out a lot of scientists, and science establishment in general, is going to get a black eye that’ll take a very long time to heal.

    • Well…

      This is a subject that deserves some study.

      AGW appears to be associated with excessive homogeneity of the scientific community and moral relativism.

      Serious money should put into profiling the scientific community (in particular the climate community) to see what the demographics are.

      If AGW is indeed associated with moral relativism, perhaps debarring moral relativists and members of environmental groups from participating in government funded climate studies, would resolve some of the issues.

  57. Brian G Valentine

    “a net negative feedback does not imply overall cooling; only that the original impulse for warming is damped by feedbacks”

    There are no “feedbacks” of anything. There is energy conservation, and the 2nd law to guarantee it, and “feedbacks” are neither of these.

    Denialism! Hopeless. No known cure. Invariably fatal.

    • Climate sensitivity: Analysis of feedback mechanisms. Hansen, J., A. Lacis, D. Rind, G. Russell, P. Stone, I. Fung, R. Ruedy, and J. Lerner http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ha07600n.html
      Not sure I am following here? The ENSO region is said to feedback with a high in the West and a low in the East helping the trade winds stack warm water. Are you saying we don’t need to consider them and simplify things?

      • Brian G Valentine

        ENSO is apparently an ocean circulation phenomenon to return warm water previously circulated in depth. What does it “feed back” to?

        “Feed Back” to an engineer, means taking a portion of an output, to amplify an input. There is nothing in the ocean to make any “output” greater than the energy absorbed.

      • Forgive me, I meant to say, ‘The ENSO region is said to feedback with a Low in the West and a High in the East helping the trade winds stack warm water.’ I was talking about its Walker Circulation:

        I’d say feedback can move such large amounts of water and hold it there. As all feedbacks should do, it occasionally collapses. To me a collapse of the warm water pool indicates positive feedback preceded it.

      • Brian G Valentine

        You’re not suggesting that energy isn’t conserved nor that heat is transferred from cold to hot?

      • David Springer

        Valentine

        Feedback is used to modify an output. That isn’t limited to amplification. It most certainly in both limiting (negative) and increasing (positive) an output.

        A cloud is a negative feedback during the day and positive at night.. Solar energy evaporates surface water to form a cloud which then reduces solar energy available at the surface by reflecting solar energy before it reaches the surface during the day. At night the reflectivity means nothing because there’s no energy to reflect and then the cloud becomes positive feedback because it limits temperature loss from the surface through absorption of longwave radiation from the surface that would otherwise escape directly to space.

        Whoever told you that you were an engineer deserves a slap in the face with a sack of op-amps.

      • David Springer

        Valentine

        Feedback is used to modify an output. That isn’t limited to amplification. It most certainly exists in climate systems in both limiting (negative) and increasing (positive) an output.

        A cloud is a negative feedback during the day and positive at night.. Solar energy evaporates surface water to form a cloud which then reduces solar energy available at the surface by reflecting solar energy before it reaches the surface during the day. At night the reflectivity means nothing because there’s no energy to reflect and then the cloud becomes positive feedback because it limits temperature loss from the surface through absorption of longwave radiation from the surface that would otherwise escape directly to space.

        Whoever told you that you were an engineer deserves a slap in the face with a sack of op-amps.

      • David Springer

        OMG

        http://www.desmogblog.com/brian-g-valentine

        Brian G. Valentine

        Credentials

        Ph.D., Engineering Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
        B.S., Chemistry and Physics, Siena College.

        Stance on Climate Change

        “No ‘greenhouse’ gas other than water has ever influenced the global climate perceptibly.”

        ==================================================

        My opinion of academia just went down a couple of notches. Maybe more. Feedback circuits are covered in the introductory course Basic Electricity and Electronics. And this guy got it flat out wrong. That’s just plain disturbing given the credentials.

      • Brian G Valentine

        Well, I guess I need you to judge me, don’t I, Mr. Springer.

        And you are apparently providing this service for free!

        I sincerely hope other people can take advantage of this unique opportunity

      • David Springer

        I note you didn’t address your incapacity to describe how feedbacks are defined in engineering terms.

        Now you’re just babbling.

  58. AGW/climate-change is a narrative of fear, fear mongering does not know ethics,

    The 21st century modern western fear narrative of Climate Change!
    • Fear of weather
    • Fear of rising sea levels
    • Fear of droughts
    • Fear of floods
    • Fear of melting ice caps
    • Fear of more tornadoes
    • Fear of more hurricanes
    • Fear of retreating glacier
    • Fear of polar bear extinction
    • Fear of acidic oceans
    • Fear of climate refugees

    H. L. Mencken
    Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

    Charles Mackay 1841 Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
    “Every age has its peculiar folly; some scheme, project, or phantasy into which it plunges, spurred on either by the love of gain, the necessity of excitement, or the mere force of imitation. Failing in these, it has some madness, to which it is goaded by political or religious causes, or both combined.”

    • Brian G Valentine

      Carbon Dioxide in the air has indeed had a demonstrable influence upon the incidence of paranoid schizophrenia, and for that reason alone should be regulated

    • I seldom get into a climate conversation in real life. But when the consensus is brought up – I generally respond that this is prima facie evidence that climate scientists are on crack.

      Which does lead to a serious point. The lack of realistic climate science behooves us to institute mandatory and frequent drug monitoring for all personnel working on government funded climate programs.

      • PA I agree with the drug testing. As long I have to be drug tested every government employee or subcontractor should be drug tested.

      • Well, the issue is that according to the consensus people the majority of climate scientists believe in CAGW. And the consensus has made no attempt to dissuade people from believing that the consensus believes in CAGW.

        So by default the majority of climate scientists believe in CAGW.

        To believe in CAGW you have to be on crack.

        This is prima facie evidence that there is a serious drug problem with climate scientists.

        There are lines of evidence that belief in CAGW is high at NSF and EPA. So I wouldn’t mind grilling them like barbecued chicken for evidence of drug use either. And we can toss in the West Wingers for free – because some deluded person over there is writing the POTUS’s speeches.

  59. p.s. the fear, fight or flight response has a short half life so the fear stories must be renewed and re-imagined to keep the sheeply fleeing in the proper direction.

  60. Brian G Valentine

    Hey, Sheeple! You’re getting shafted by people who paste the word “Expert” on the foreheads!

    As if you didn’t already know,

  61. Judith, you may not be making many friends in the community of scientists but you are making an impact with the community of applied scientists, i.e., professional engineers such as myself. I have nothing but respect and encouragement for what you are doing & have done so far. Wishing you all the best. Richvs. MS/BSEE – & active climate researcher for 40 yrs.

    • Brian G Valentine

      Yes. Having done the right thing to earn censure from the watermelon patch.

      For that and allowing my ranting, salutations.

  62. Several weeks ago in the discussion of the APS climate statement, I posted something about resigning from the Geological Society of America for similar reasons. Peter Lang posted a response that I stay in and fight.I did so.

    At Peter’s suggestion, I am posting my email to him today about an issue that arose concerning their 2018 annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. Below email text I am posting a copy of the text of my post in the ‘Open Forum’ of the Geological Society of America’s ‘Connected Community.’ I do this also at Peter’s suggestion:

    Dear Peter,

    I want to thank you for your response several weeks to a comment I made either on ‘Climate, Etc’ ” about the American Physical Society. My comment concerned the possibility of my resigning my membership in the Geological Society of America (GSA) over something similar. You advised me not to do it and stay in and fight back. SO I did. Let me share an outcome as result of your advice.

    This past week, GSA send out an inappropriate email to its members about the 2018 annual meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, a place where the state legislature passed a “freedom of religion” bill that allows businesses not to serve those who subscribe to certain issues (eg abortion, gay rights, etc). The legislation was amended to allow local communities to follow their own laws first.

    A vocal minority asked GSA to cancel its 2018 meeting in Indianapolis and pick another venue. The email explained that after waiting to see how the legislation was to be amended they then chose not to do so. GSA then emailed the members.

    I found the whole episode offensive because (1) GSA is a scientific society, not a political advocacy society (although there are days I wonder), and (2) GSA has no jurisdiction in the state of Indiana. GSA has an open forum where I posted my views. The outcome – seven people posted supporting statements, another person opened a separate forum where another five supported my position, and three people emailed me separately agreeing with me. No one has yet disagreed. In one of the emails, the writer added that when his wife read the email from GSA, her reaction was “good grief.”

    Your are right. Best to stay and fight the rot that is beginning to pervade the global scientific establishment.

    Where in Australia are you? I lived in Australia during World War II and attended Scotch College in Melbourne In those days, it was big in football, cricket and athletics. Now it has become a rowing school. Times change.

    Best regards,

    George

    ORIGINAL POST ON “CONNECTED COMMUNITY” Open Forum of Geological Society of America GSA)

    This post is in response to GSA’s mass email of April 27, 2015, about the 2018 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, and is a revised version of an email I sent to Hap McSweeney, GSA president, copied to Vicki McConnell, GSA Executive Director.

    Quite frankly, I found this issue about the 2018 Indianapolis,IN, meeting to be unproductive use of time by of GSA Council, Headquarters Staff, and members/fellows. Here is why.

    First, how many people wrote or called GSA to complain about the Indianapolis meeting. The email says “more than a few” but this could be five, ten 20, or 50 out of 28,300 members. I recommend GSA disclose in this discussion group how many people complained about the Indianapolis location. Even if it were as many as 500 it would be less than 2% of the membership

    Second why does GSA believe it must get involved in every social issue of our times? This appears contrary to GSA’s goal of “science, stewardship and service” and its function as a scientific/scholarly society addressing the origin and evolution of the Earth. Moreover, GSA is located in Colorado and lacks a corporate presence in Indiana. It is the elected representatives of the people of Indiana who decide statewide issues there, not a small group of agenda-driven GSA members. I doubt those who complained offered to underwrite the cost of cancellation fees.

    Frankly, if some GSA members don’t like a meeting site for ANY reason, they do not have to attend it. During my career, I attended both GSA and AAPG meetings in cities that I may not find appealing but I went to hear new science and network with colleagues and people I never met before, and to exchange scientific ideas. That’s what GSA meetings are for.

    As I write this, news reports are streaming in about fires, riots and civil unrest in Baltimore, MD, the site of the 2015 GSA Annual Meeting. Should GSA cancel on behalf of some members who may not wish to attend out of security concerns, their heritage, safety, and possible questionable police actions? Just stay home if this concerns you.

    Perhaps the solution is to hold annual GSA meetings on cruise ships and sail into International waters where these types of agendas and problems become moot. I recommend it be considered although it raises problems about where to run field trips.

    GSA’s April 27 email also discussed “Diversity. Let me share three thoughts:

    1). As an “old white guy” I live with diversity all the time because my wife is a Korean American lady.

    2). Hiring a diverse staff is limited by its geographic locale and available applicants representing a locally-defined diversity pool of people. The GSA Executive Director is qualified to manage this and it doesn’t require GSA council or member input.

    3). GSA has a track record of diversity. According to a source on the GSA Foundation Board of Directors, the first lady executive director (who preceded Jxxxx Hxxx) was very involved with a specialized type of diversity that resulted in a sizable staff turnover. She apparently also had financial issues with her prior employer and as result is now in jail.

    GSA is beginning to appear as a scientific society that seems confused about its mission and gets involved with unproductive side issues far too much. If it truly wishes to remain a scientific/scholarly society, keep the name. If it wishes to also assume a role of advocacy on social issues, perhaps it should change it’s name to the PC-Geological Society of America (PCGSA).

    It’s time for members to review this and perhaps even take GSA back to its roots.
    ——–
    The following was perhaps the best comment that was posted in reply:

    “Somehow the normal questions of ‘is it significant’ and ‘is it appropriate’ get lost in today’s assumption that everything is worth an immediate emotional response.”

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

    • Peter Lang would be pleased that you followed his advice and at the outcome I will bet! Thanks for sharing George and yes, its better to keep chipping away at something that seems to be wrong and not to be afraid of what others may think. Well done!

    • George Klein

      “3). GSA has a track record of diversity. According to a source on the GSA Foundation Board of Directors, the first lady executive director (who preceded Jxxxx Hxxx) was very involved with a specialized type of diversity that resulted in a sizable staff turnover. She apparently also had financial issues with her prior employer and as result is now in jail.”

      Wasn’t Jxxxx Hxxx the first? If so, he can’t be preceded. I could not find any record of a “first lady executive director” of the GSA in a legal dispute.

  63. John Costigane

    Judith,

    You should have no qualms about the weighting of the House session since this was an expression of the popular will, giving Republicans control of both Houses.

    The administration’s attempt to express disapproval, initially, was just another example of the ‘close the debate’ mentality which has scarred the scientific advancement of climatology to a hard science, where it belongs.

  64. “you seem to think that you get to decide what people mean when they say something”

    It can also happen that people do not realize – or are actively seeking to hide – implications of what they are saying.

    In such cases, putting words in people’s mouths can be a good thing.

  65. Just spotted this tweet from Peter Gleick:

    I’m honored to receive the Council of Scientific Society Presidents “2015 Leadership and Achievement Award.”
    http://thecssp.us/awards/leadership-citation

    Gleick is one of the two least ethical scientists that I know.

    • Don Monfort

      What ethics? The award was for leadership and achievement, Judith. It must be for his creative lying and faking stunts done to advance the cause. They knocked off a couple points for him getting caught, but he still won by a comfortable margin over the other creep you have in mind.

    • Curious George

      Judith, lucky you are. I know more of them.

      Many thanks for your work to keep old-fashioned scientific criteria in the face of increasingly powerful (and dangerous) “modern” trends.

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  67. Pingback: The ethics of expertise — in financial and medical advice, climate and everything « DON AITKIN