Improving climate change communication: moving beyond scientific certainty

by Judith Curry

A new report from The University of Nottingham looks at whether climate scientists threaten their own scientific credibility when trying to make their research accessible to members of the public.

A new paper is published today in Nature Climate Change [link]:

Tension between scientific certainty and meaning complicates communication of IPCC reports

G. J. S. Hollin andW. Pearce

Abstract. Here we demonstrate that speakers at the press conference for the publication of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group 1) attempted to make the documented level of certainty of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) more meaningful to the public. Speakers attempted to communicate this through reference to short-term temperature increases. However, when journalists enquired about the similarly short ‘pause’2 in global temperature increase, the speakers dismissed the relevance of such timescales, thus becoming incoherent as to ‘what counts’ as scientific evidence for AGW. We call this the ‘IPCC’s certainty trap’. This incoherence led to confusion within the press conference and subsequent condemnation in the media. The speakers were well intentioned in their attempts to communicate the public implications of the report, but these attempts threatened to erode their scientific credibility. In this instance, the certainty trap was the result of the speakers’ failure to acknowledge the tensions between scientific and public meanings. Avoiding the certainty trap in the future will require a nuanced accommodation of uncertainties and a recognition that rightful demands for scientific credibility need to be balanced with public and political dialogue about the things we value and the actions we take to protect those things.

From the press release from the University of Nottingham:

In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the climate. However, for many politicians and members of the public, climate change is still not a particularly pressing concern. In a new report ‘Tension between scientific certainty and meaning complicates communication of IPCC reports’ – published on Nature Climate Change’s website, Dr Gregory Hollin and Dr Warren Pearce from the University’s School of Sociology and Social Policy, look at a press conference held by the IPCC in 2013 in order to better understand the ways in which climate scientists attempt to engage the public through the media.

Public credibility

Dr Pearce says: “Climate science draws on evidence over hundreds of years, way outside of our everyday experience. During the press conference, scientists attempted to supplement this rather abstract knowledge by emphasising a short-term example: that the decade from 2001 onwards was the warmest that had ever been seen. On the surface, this appeared a reasonable communications strategy. Unfortunately, a switch to shorter periods of time made it harder to dismiss media questions about short-term uncertainties in climate science, such as the so-called ‘pause’ in the rate of increase in global mean surface temperature since the late 1990s. The fact that scientists go on to dismiss the journalists’ concerns about the pause – when they themselves drew upon a similar short-term example – made their position inconsistent and led to confusion within the press conference.”

Accepting tensions

Dr Hollin says: “Climate change communication is anything but straightforward. When trying to engage the public about climate science, communicators need to be aware that there is a tension between expressing scientific certainty and making climate change meaningful. Acknowledging this tension should help to avoid in the future the kind of confusion caused at the press conference.”

Beyond certainty

Climate change is an area where consistent attempts are made to communicate the certainty of the science. As a result, a spotlight on scientific uncertainties may be seen as unwelcome. However, Dr Hollin and Dr Pearce argue that a discussion of uncertainty may be an unavoidable by-product of attempts to make climate change meaningful.

Dr Pearce adds: “In the run-up to the United Nations climate summit in Paris, making climate change meaningful remains a key challenge. Our analysis of the press conference demonstrates that this cannot be achieved by relying on scientific certainty alone. A broader, more inclusive public dialogue will include crucial scientific details that we are far less certain about. These need to be embraced and acknowledged in order to make climate change meaningful.”

Blog post

From the authors’ blog post at Making Science Public.  Below are excerpts, go to the original blog post to see the diagrams from the paper:

What we found is that, in attempting to demonstrate the importance of climate change, scientists actually became inconsistent about ‘what counts’ as scientific evidence and this led to confusion and condemnation in the press.

Phase One: Increasing certainty

Since the last IPCC report, certainty over the nature of climate change has increased and, unsurprisingly, scientists at the press conference stressed this increase:

“the evidence for human influence has grown since Assessment Report 4, it is now deemed extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming.”

However, and as noted above, academics from the social sciences and humanities have argued that climate change has yet to attain enough public meaning to prompt significant personal, political and policy responses.

Phase Two: Making climate change meaningful: Intention

Within the press conference, scientists tried to use the certainty of climate change to demonstrate that it is meaningful and that ‘we’ must take action:

“[The] report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”

We argue that this is what the scientists wanted to achieve in the press conference: retaining the certainty of the report while adding meaning.

Phase Three: Making climate change meaningful: Reality.

There was, however, an inconsistency in the argument of the scientists. Scientists consistently drew on short-term temperature increases in order to give climate change meaning:

“the decade 2001 onwards having been the hottest, the warmest that we have seen”.

However, the scientists also understood these short-term temperature increases to be less certain than the overall theory of climate change:

“periods of less than around thirty years. . . are less relevant” .

Thus, the meaningful, short-term, temperature changes were actually incorporated at the expense of certainty. Meaning had been added but at the expense of certainty. 

Phase Four: Inconsistent attempt to maintain public meaning and certainty.

Drawing on meaningful information like ‘the hottest decade’ proved problematic for the scientists for it is hard to see why the short-term increase in temperature during ‘hottest decade’ is very different from the short-term decrease in temperature witnessed during the 15-year ‘pause’. Journalists repeatedly asked scientists about the pause and, in particular, how they could be increasingly certain about climate change in the face of such an uncertainty:

“Your climate change models did not predict there was a slowdown in the warming. How can we be sure about your predicted projections for future warming?”

Faced with these questions, scientists insisted that short-term temperature changes were irrelevant for climate science:

“we are very clear in our report that it is inappropriate to compare a short-term period of observations with model performance” .

Given the type of statement we saw during phase three it is perhaps unsurprising that this retreat led to confusion, incoherence, and criticism within the press conference.

Conclusion

Climate change is an area where consistent attempts are made to communicate the certainty of the science. As a result, a spotlight on scientific uncertainties may be seen as unwelcome. However, in the run-up to the United Nations climate summit in Paris, making climate change meaningful remains a key challenge and our analysis of the press conference demonstrates that this meaning-making cannot be achieved by relying on scientific certainty alone. When trying to engage the public about climate science, communicators should be aware that there is a tension between expressing scientific certainty (and focusing on longterm trends) and making climate change meaningful (by focusing on short-term trends) and, what is more, that this tension may be unavoidable. A broader, more inclusive public dialogue will have to include crucial scientific details that we are far less certain about and these need to be embraced in order to make climate change meaningful.

JC reflections

Rather amazing that Nature Climate Change published this paper; in any event I am certainly pleased that they did.

The strategy of hyping certainty and a scientific consensus and dismissing decadal variability is a bad move for communicating a very complex, wicked problem such as climate change.  Apart from the ‘meaningful’ issue, its an issue of trust – hyping certainty and a premature consensus does not help the issue of public trust in the science.

This new paper is especially interesting in context of the Karl et al paper, that ‘disappears’ the hiatus.  I suspect that the main take home message for the public (those paying attention, anyways) is that the data is really really uncertain and there is plenty of opportunity for scientists to ‘cherry pick’ methods to get desired results.

Apart from the issue of how IPCC leaders communicate the science to the public, this paper also has important implications for journalists. The paper has a vindication of sorts for David Rose, who asked hard hitting questions about the pause at the Stockholm press conference.

Kudos to the Nottingham team for a very insightful paper.  I look forward to visiting the University of Nottingham in two weeks, where I will be attending the Conference on Circling the Square.

 

252 responses to “Improving climate change communication: moving beyond scientific certainty

  1. It is delightful that the press are finally catching on that climate scientists (some anyway) are advocates and not objective reporters of just the facts.

    it is the spinning which gets them into trouble (as it did in the press conference).

    Serial exaggeration leads to the boy who cried wolf syndrome.

    What isn’t evidence of “climate change”?

    More snow, less snow, more rain, less rain, more drought, less drought, heat waves, cold snaps, more hurricanes, less hurricanes – you name it and it is being attributed to “climate change”.

    Even the branding leads to a loss of credibility. Global warming not working well – just rename it. Climate change not working well – try climate disruption.

    The scientific “advocates” are causing climate scientists to lose all credibility – as this paper demonstrates.

    Very glad to see some looking inward – even if it is not by the climate scientists themselves.

    Maybe the scientists should stop arguing we need to take action now – and just report the science and let the voters decide when action needs to be taken.

    • Beware of ‘Climate Uncertainty’
      .. The neologism monster lives!

    • I would say the advocates are causing all scientists in all fields to lose credibility, not least of the reasons why is those of not within the inner circle who have chosen to remain silent instead of risking being pilloried for speaking our doubts out loud have made it seem like we approve of things like making the pause vanish with questionable statistical manipulations.

    • I think you are confusing effects of climate change with evidence of climate change.

      More snow in an area can be an effect of climate change without being evidence for it.

      • I think you are just confused period.

        If, according to you, there is a meaningful distinction between the two, how is it such “effects” are constantly being used as “evidence” by those who are convinced warming is a problem?

    • “Maybe the scientists should stop arguing we need to take action now – and just report the science and let the voters decide when action needs to be take”

      Best comment I’ve ever read!

    • Richard Arrett and bambo4: As to your comment of Just let the Voters decide

      Really?

      While I could cite numerous Opinion Polls, I’ll reference the Yale studies. While Americans dislike policy actions like a Carbon Tax, they overwhelming support Renewable Energy.

      http://www.vox.com/2015/6/2/8701917/americans-opinion-climate-change

      • Yes – people support research into renewable. I even support research into renewable.

        So what?

        Renewable cannot supply all our hydrocarbon energy needs (absent a game changing invention – which would be great if it happens – but you cannot count on it).

        Do you support increased nuclear power?

        That is also a solution for generating non-CO2 power.

        Why not deploy the latest generation of passive cooled nuclear power plants and boost their share of generating energy from 20% to 50 or even 75%?

        Do you support that?

        By the way – the poll you linked to said less than 50% of people believe humans are causing global warming (question No. 1).

    • Well…

      The problem is the global warmers are really lousy scientists.

      The null hypothesis is that CO2 doesn’t do jack to temperature and won’t have a big impact on climate, that warmth is great, that more emissions won’t have a big impact on the CO2 level and that more CO2 is wonderful.

      It is up to the global warmers to prove that CO2 makes it warmer, that emissions drive the CO2 level, that more warmth is bad (net harmful), that more CO2 is bad (net harmful).

      Global warmers have to prove to a statistically significant level that there is a problem before we have any motivation to do anything. All this uncertainty range in the effects should be a problem they are desperately trying to reduce so they can make a statistically significant claim.

      Instead the global warmers assume they are right and don’t bother to try to accurately bound any of the physical changes (CO2 increase, forcing, etc.) essential to their disaster scenario. They have flipped the paradigm around. Uncertainty is their friend. The “precautionary” principle is that worst case in the confidence interval is the future. This is crazy. Rewarding scientists for being lazy and dishonest is bad.

      Time has come to ignore global warmers and cut their funding until they play by the traditional rules of science. What they are doing is deliberately dishonest and deceptive and the only way to stop it and make them do honest science is to cut their funding.

      The problem with climate science isn’t communication. We understand what the warmers are saying. The problem with climate science is an integrity problem – we don’t believe the global warmers, and for good reason.

  2. “Our climate is changing, always has, always will,
    For billions of years it has never stood still.
    As ice ages and warm periods keep on evolving,
    The mysteries of climate we’re no nearer to solving,
    And yet politicians say man’s now in control,
    Denying Mother Nature’s more powerful role.
    Facts being distorted to create the illusion
    That man controls climate, so now there’s confusion
    As people no longer know what to believe.
    Politicians know it is easy to trick and deceive,
    Using fear and ignorance to prove they are right,
    And of the real facts we so quickly lose sight…..”

    Read more: http://rhymeafterrhyme.net/man-does-not-know-everything/

  3. Pingback: Climate-Change Communications | Transterrestrial Musings

  4. Interesting post. I am in the middle of listening to Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow and the article seems to address some of the points DK addresses. The article strikes me as highlighting a massive semantic muddle of Orwellian “doublespeak” proportions. For me, it boils down to the fact that if climate scientists say “we do not know” or “we are not sure” then their ability to push public opinion and public policy in what they think is the right direction is dramatically diminished. At the same time, not voicing their doubts results in the same scientist downplaying or ignoring the actual uncertainties, thereby increasing the chances of confirmation bias when detailing findings or integrating potentially disconfirming data. Of course, if they were not trying to push public opinion, etc., then they would be more likely to address the sources of known and unknown uncertainties. Paging Dr. Pielke!

  5. I’d like to see some communication of the mathematical fact that you can’t tell a cycle from a trend with data short compared to the trend to be excluded.

    That’s not a physics result. It’s a mathematics result.

    It would be nice if turned up in climate science communications sometime, ever.

    • David Wojick

      Good point. Many so called climate trends are probably just segments of natural oscillations. Arctic warming for example.

    • Yes. I’ve wondered about this, and tried to explain this mathematical fact, one several occasions. The trick really comes down to the problem of distinguishing a certain set of observations from the null hypothesis: can we even tell if some proposed mechanism is having an observable effect?

      • Any tech graduate student can do it.

        Assume a time series consisting of a dozen long cycles (sines and cosines) much longer than the data length, and a trend.

        Solve for the coefficients of the cycles and the trend.

        You’ll notice that your cycles are essentially multiples of each other.

        You’ll think, jeez, these are very nearly linearly dependent. This is really going to be ill-conditioned. Right.

        The necessary matrix will multiply any noise by about 10^30 or so.

        Going to least squares is going to have to overcome 10^30 noise gain. I dont know, is that order 10^60 measurements? Independent measurements, moreover. Take all the time you need.

        Why does this not turn up in the climate science literature? How is that possible, if there’s any adult peer review at all?

      • I’m with rhhardin on this one 100%. The use of short term data is insufficient for many good reasons and it is a 2 edged sword, in that CAWGers who look at the uptick in the global temperature series over the past 30 years as proof of the long term trend will need to realise if the current stasis extends much further in the future.

      • I doubt very much that it is unicorns of any breed or sub-species. Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem is a guide here even if it is not a perfect analogy, esp. in something as wickedly complex as climate. Even common sense says you need a good number of data points to truly describe periodic or semi-periodic behavior.
        And it is meaningless to equate support for renewable energy- who isn’t for clean, affordable energy?- with the more extreme proposals to rein in CO2 emissions: They are Horses of a different color and all that,

      • rhharden, Peter Davis;

        Examples of short term dataset problems:
        Huge divergence between UAH and HadCRUT4 temperature datasets

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/09/huge-divergence-between-latest-uah-and-hadcrut4-revisions-now-includes-april-data/

  6. I was looking at this one from ‘Physics of Climte’ ( Peixoto and Ooort ):

    Many processes of many periodicities which fluctuate between constructive and destructive interference.

  7. decade from 2001 onwards was the warmest that had ever been seen

    That is only true if you only count the recorded history since the thermometer was invented about 140 years ago.

    If you count the past ten thousand years, there were many decades that were as warm or warmer than from 2001 to now.

    This is the message that we need to get out to the whole world.

    About 2000 years ago, there was a Roman Warm Period and then it got cold. About 1000 years ago, there was a Medieval Warm Period and then it got cold. That was called the Little Ice Age.

    It is warm now because it is supposed to be warm now.
    It is a natural cycle and we did not cause it.

    CO2 just makes green things grow better, while using less water.
    People understand this and many do agree, immediately.

  8. The scientifically antithetical statement by the National Academy of Sciences “The Science is Settled’ was in and of itself a huge roadblock to
    climate science.
    Regardless of any facts, models or observations the act of using a graduate study to blacklist 496 individuals who have proven to be scientists of distinction, honor, and integrity was absolutely reprehensible.

    Both of these acts, were of the nature of circling the wagons so as
    to limit normal scientific investigation and understanding.

    A thread can we written as to why this was done, and many of us, I am sure
    have our opinions on this matter.

    The solution, members of the NAS must acknowledge that the statement
    and the blacklisting were shortsighted and deplorable.
    If a member of the Academy reads this (and is not on the list) you can decide if you have the honor and the integrity to make a statement.
    or you can remain silent and be a scientific/political drone. This has
    nothing to do with ones understanding of (really the value off TCR),
    but everything to do with the ethics and integrity of science.

  9. “the decade 2001 onwards having been the hottest, the warmest that we have seen”.

    However, the scientists also understood these short-term temperature increases to be less certain than the overall theory of climate change:

    “periods of less than around thirty years. . . are less relevant” .

    Or, in other words the time from 2001 to now is less relevant!

  10. You will find similar problem in the recent shift that focuses on extreme events.

    In short, after years of selling the long term fear, people realized that the audience starts to discount long term fear. So, they switched to focusing on short term fears.. extreme events. This essentially shifts the discussion from phenomena we are more certain of (the long term effect of c02) to areas of science where we are just begining to understand things– this years drought.

    The root of the problem is when a scientist tries to characterize knowledge as ‘actionable’.

    A good analyst presents his information. and leaves considerations of ‘action’ to others.

    • This essentially shifts the discussion from phenomena we are more certain of (the long term effect of c02)

      Are we more certain of long term?

      Here is another good chart from ‘Physics of Climate’ ( Peixoto and Oort ).
      It’s ‘idealized’ so we take it only as a discussion point.
      But notice the difference in temperature variance at 100 years, versus the minimum at around 1 month. Natural variance doesn’t decline ( in this work anyway ) out to a century – it increases!

      to areas of science where we are just begining to understand things– this years drought.
      Of course, since precipitation is dependent upon dynamics ( motion of small scale waves – fronts, if you will ), and those dynamics are not predictable beyond a week or two, there is no basis for predicting more or less drought in association with global warming.

      • Steven Mosher

        TE a good analyst doesnt post defunct charts.

      • TE a good analyst doesnt post defunct charts.

        Averse to reading books?

        If you can only trust the IPCC, then you may want to review this link which pretty much corroborates the Mitchell depiction ( though not quite as thoughtfully, examining only to the century scale ).

      • It is a somewhat important question to answer.

        The meme advanced is that climate becomes more predictable the longer the time scale. The amount of forcing from GHG accumulation would seem to increase over time and become more apparent? But the Mitchell paper and the IPCC seem to indicate that climate in general is less predictable at the century scale, not more.

      • But the Mitchell paper and the IPCC seem to indicate that climate in general is less predictable at the century scale, not more.

        Well that make sense, since we have only little over a century of good temperature data to go from and we can’t precisely model the earlier part of the twentieth century because we don’t have the measurements to do so. So, of course, there is a lot of uncertainty about what conditions were like in the last century.

      • Danny Thomas

        Joseph,
        Between “adjustments” of temp records, argo buoy data, SLR, etc. I’d venture to state that there is much “uncertainty” about what conditions are like in the 21st also.

    • “A good analyst presents his information. and leaves considerations of ‘action’ to others.”

      That is often true but not always.

      A good analyst also communicates the relative uncertainty in their analysis and what might make them reconsider their conclusions. In climate science a lot of claims have been made based on models of highly doubtful accuracy.

      Wouldn’t the standard practice to be reformulate prior conclusions based on observed results? Have there been many peer reviewed papers rewritten that were based upon the outputs of GCM’s? Nope

    • Curious George

      Steven, right on. There was a long term fear of global cooling, a long term fear of a population explosion, a long term fear of extinction of species, … Fear sells newspapers. Honesty does not.

      • Steven Mosher

        who cares what sells newspapers. Page 3 sells them in the UK

      • Steven Mosher,

        Climatologists care what sells newspapers.

        Fear. Unfortunately, people are realising that a handful of self proclaimed climatologists might be terrified because coal is black, but the rest of us prefer not to freeze in the dark, starving.

        Coal is good. CO2 is good. More plants is good. A return to a verdant Sahara and Antarctica can’t be all bad, can it?

        What are Warmists scared of? Being ignored, perhaps?

      • davideisenstadt

        Mosh:
        To answer another one of your snarky questions….its pretty much a sure thing that the people who publish newspapers care what sells newspapers, even if no one else does.
        see how easy that was?

      • And the curves on Page 3 have been adjusted too!

  11. John Carpenter

    Memo to the CEO from the Director of Sales and Marketing:

    I just got an earful from the customer about ‘what the heck’ are we selling. It is clear we are not consistent in our product messaging still. I think the marketing department needs to take a look at this… again. R&D have been working on this product for decades, yet they can’t seem give us a consistent message to sell. Worse, they meet with the customer…. without any marketing personnel to help… and talk off the cuff about the product in ways that make the customer confused about its true purpose. I’m tired of R&D moving in and undermining our product messaging campaign. They are always so certain they know what they are talking about and maybe they do, but they should be coming to the marketing meetings to get our strategy aligned. Can you please get them to just stick to working in the lab and let us do our job?!? We can’t afford another messaging snafu or we are going to lose serious market share!

    p.s. You didn’t hear this from me, but I know Purchasing was concerned about the cost of R&D’s new product materials and went to Accounting to warn them…. let’s just say Operations is not happy about any of it.

    • John Carpenter

      Memo to the CEO from the Director of R&D:

      I just got out of an impromptu meeting with the Marketing Director. He called me into his office and told me R&D needs to stay in the lab and leave selling the product to Sales and Marketing. WTF! What did we do? He said something about a meeting we had last week with the customer. Look, the customer came to us because they didn’t understand the nuances of the product… it was a technical discussion. Well, it started out technical anyways. But now he’s all ‘stay in the lab and perfect the product’ on me. What that nitwit doesn’t get is R&D is the only department around here that knows what the eff’n product is all about! My six year old kid knows our product better than those dimwits in Marketing. We provide them with reams and reams of data to support the product and all they ever say is ‘its too confusing… why is it so confusing?’. Those twits need to just listen better and quit asking so many questions about what we do. We know what we are doing! Go tell marketing we wouldn’t have to go do their job if they knew what they were selling.

      p.s. I need a separate meeting with you on our budget…. it’s running a little tight with some of the new programs and Accounting is starting to pester me with more questions about expenses. Can we meet about that soon because Operations is tight with Accounting and we may be getting some push back from them too when we try to roll this new product out.

      • Memo to the CEO from the Head of PR:

        I just had the most shocking meeting with that thoroughly unpleasant little man you insisted on promoting to Director of Marketing. He’s still absurdly angry with me about the shambles of the last press conference, as if I had any control at all over what questions those vulgar journalists choose to ask! For heaven’s sake, it’s over 20 years since we had any remotely hostile coverage, and now he can’t even deal with a few difficult questions about a mess of his own making? It’s about time he started to earn that salary of his, let alone the pension.

        Anyway, I just can’t wait for Paris – finally a trade exhibition somewhere with a few decent shops! Remember our agreement: if I’m a good girl we slip out for an afternoon’s shoe shopping. You just know how good I can be – but still, the shoes come first, OK?

    • Dear Director,

      I just phoned your client, and from what I could gather he’s just another black hat marketer working for our main competitor, DOUBT IS OUR PRODUCT (inc).

      From now on, would you please do your background check before wasting my time? I have my golf skills to gracefully deteriorate.

      You’re still the best,

      Mr. T

      CEO

      PS: Congratulations for your sidegig at Weather Forecasts R Us, BTW.

    • Steven Mosher

      Psst.

      all your mails have been posted on the internet …..

      sincerely

      RC,

  12. The first nine words of the abstract are missing.

  13. Herein lies the rub:

    “…academics from the social sciences and humanities have argued that climate change has yet to attain enough public meaning to prompt significant personal, political and policy responses.”

    Scientists mixing their view of the science with advocating a political/social/value position.

    The public hears that the science has nuances and the scientists blend advocacy with certainty.

    I know this science about climate change is all too complex for you to understand, but believe me, any subtle differences in the science as reported are very small and you really really need to do as we say.

    There, that’s it. I now see my roll in all of the climate talk. Be quiet.

    • Look it’s nuanced! Sometimes a short term trend needs
      ter be regarded as more significant, unprecedented
      if yer will, than a longer trend. Difficult ter explain ter
      a lay person, like I said, ‘nuanced,’ even ‘subtile’

      • and if it don’t seeem right, then it’s counterintuitive, but it’s ALWAYS consistent with The Theory.

  14. Science damages its credibility far more by claiming certainty in predicting the future than by its methodology in trying to communicate this silly foolishness.

    The problem is claiming to be able to do the impossible, not in the method used to announce the claims.

    • “expert’s forecasts were revealed to be only slightly more accurate than random guessing—or, to put more harshly, only a bit better than the proverbial dart-throwing chimpanzee.”

      http://www.cato-unbound.org/2011/07/11/dan-gardner-philip-tetlock/overcoming-our-aversion-acknowledging-our-ignorance

    • David L. Hagen

      Forecasting Principles
      Because of severe bias problems in forecasting, Prof. J. Scot Armstrong developed 160 Principles for Evidence Based Forecasting based on extensive research documented in his Principles of Forecasting Handbook. He developed a Forecasting Audit.
      This has been applied to Public Policy Forecasting
      Kestin Green joined in auditing Global Warming Forecasting
      GLOBAL WARMING: FORECASTS BY SCIENTISTS VERSUS SCIENTIFIC FORECASTS ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT VOLUME 18 No. 7+8 2007

      To provide forecasts of climate change that are useful for policy-making, one would need to forecast (1) global temperature, (2) the effects of any temperature changes, and (3) the effects of feasible alternative policies. Proper forecasts of all three are necessary for rational policy making. The IPCC WG1 Report was regarded as providing the most credible long- term forecasts of global average temperatures by 31 of the 51 scientists and others involved in forecasting climate change who responded to our survey. We found no references in the 1056-page Report to the primary sources of information on forecasting methods despite the fact these are conveniently available in books, articles, and websites. We audited the forecasting processes described in Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s WG1 Report to assess the extent to which they complied with forecasting principles. We found enough information to make judgments on 89 out of a total of 140 forecasting principles. The forecasting procedures that were described violated 72 principles. Many of the violations were, by themselves, critical.
      The forecasts in the Report were not the outcome of scientific procedures. In effect, they were the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing. Research on forecasting has shown that experts’ predictions are not useful in situations involving uncertainly and complexity. We have been unable to identify any scientific forecasts of global warming. Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder

    • ‘Communication – where – we – went – wrong – fests
      are essentially necessary when the science is weak
      but the idea is strong.’

      H/t The Mini-stree of Propo-gander.

      • Yep. Who cares if a scientist is some awkward geek with a perpetual bad hair day who’s no good at “communicating”? If he actually knows something, can get something right, can get things to work…he’ll be a prince.

        In fact, if I see a “communicator” coming down the street I’ll cross to the other side so I don’t have to clog my ears with verbiage like “enough public meaning to prompt significant personal, political and policy responses.”.

        I don’t need someone to give this (on purpose) foggily defined term “climate change” a meaning. I know what actual climate change is. It’s kind of obvious. Please tell me something about it I don’t know…but you have to actually know something, okay? And don’t communicate. Just tell me.

      • Moso-non-pareil comment… a serf acknowledges.
        I think it’s time ter celebrate ‘ bad hair day, life on
        the littoral, perpetual messiness day.’ ( heh,
        no hyphens!)

  15. It’s disconcerting to me that objective scientists, including most of those posting here, keep using the terms ‘hiatus’ and ‘pause.’ Both of those terms imply that what was happening before the time period in question will continue happening after that time period, ie temperatures will increase in the future. How do we know that? In fact, our skepticism about the entire AGW hypothesis requires us to keep open minds about what comes next.

    I recommend using the term ‘plateau’ to signify a near constant value, with no implication for future conditions. That is an objective view of the observations.

    Whenever I read hiatus or pause I see a bias and this is not an accident:

    “He who controls the language controls the masses”. – Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals

    • +1

    • Agreed. Why should a slope be considered a norm and a flat considered an interruption to a norm? It’s all just stuff that happens, and, till a very short time ago, the temperature of our epoch was generally regarded as constant ups and downs in various lines and cycles. Big and small wiggles, with a levelling out here and there. Still nobody denies this – it’s just impolite to mention it.

  16. Pingback: Calentología. ¿Una ciencia de charlatanes y cantamañanas? | PlazaMoyua.com

  17. “Given the type of statement we saw during phase three it is perhaps unsurprising that this retreat led to confusion, incoherence, and criticism within the press conference.”

    It is because they themselves are true believers that they get this completely backwards. From their description at the conference, what the reporters’ questions led to was clarity, not “confusion [and[ incoherence.” It is only in the mind of a progressive that questions that reveal the duplicity of the arguments made by warmists regarding their false certainty is a negative. Notice that “criticism” is one of the author’s negative results of the inconsistent answers given by ‘climate scientists’.

    Oh no! Not criticism!

    The confusion created by claiming that some short term weather is evidence of ‘global warming’, while other short term weather is irrelevant has been one of the most often criticized polemics of the CAGW movement. Skeptics have been pointing that nonsense out for years.

    But now some of the ‘scientists’ fellow progressives in the journalist community are making the same observations, and we have a crisis of “confusion, incoherence and criticism.” It is the very false claims of certainty that are designed to cause confusion, and the arguments have been incoherent from the beginning. I guess it’s nice that a few members of the fourth estate may be starting to notice though.

    Next thing you know, they’ll start asking how we can know what the global average temp was 10,000 years to within tenths of a degree, when the various temp reports today vary by more than that.

    Oh the horror!

    The real point of this article is just the latest in a long series of ‘reframing’ arguments, that if they only get the arguments right, the stupid public will join in the mass thermophobia that now infects the science climatariat.

    • +100 GaryM. Right on the mark in all regards.

    • Mike Jonas

      Yes indeed. To me, it looks like they have now learned from Rachel Carson that if you mention all the uncertainties you can then ignore them and get on with pushing the message. If anyone tries to use uncertainty to challenge you, you simply refer to when you mentioned it and say you dealt with it then. There is no turning these people.

  18. Better translating the jargon.

    Tension between certainty and meaning: tension between the truth and convincing you.

  19. 1. “In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the climate.”

    Plus

    2. “However, for many politicians and members of the public, climate change is still not a particularly pressing concern.”

    Does not equal

    A conclusion that the humans are changing the climate such that it is worse overall for humanity or for the USA in particular. It does not mean that the climate will be better if a CO2 mitigation action is taken

  20. All this concern about the short term failings of climate models, that supposedly distracts from their long term efficacy.

    Baloney.

    We already have a demonstration of the long term failure of climate models.

    Hansen 1988 predicted an increase in GAT (let’s pretend that’s a meaningful term) by 2015 of 1.0C under his Scenario A, the one that most nearly describes actual CO2 emissions growth.

    The actual increase in GAT since 1988 is .2 to .3C.

    Oh, and I got the numbers from that notorious skeptic, Tamino.

    But don’t worry, there’s not a chance in hell that any progressive journolists will ask any questions about this.

    • Yep. Trends of all global temperature data sets are lower than Hansen C for the period since 1979. And Scenario C was the one where CO2 emissions ceased in 2000. So ‘doing nothing’ ( what actually happened ) was more effective that ‘doing everything’ ( completely ceasing CO2 emissions ).

      Now, we should also bring up that the actual forcings in Hansen’s predictions were higher than what actually happened, in part because CFCs were ceased, in part because Methane subsided and most failed to understand this.

      What’s more troubling than the average temperature number is the model errors in energy transfers within the system ( albedo not matching observations, failure to capture the decadal oscillations, et. al. )

    • tomdesabla

      Do the actual temp increases even reach the levels of Hensen’s most optimistic scenario Gary?

      • tomdesabla,

        Obviously not. But it would of course be unkind to sew “confusion, incoherence, and criticism” by pointing that out.

    • “Scenario A, the one that most nearly describes actual CO2 emissions growth.”

      Scenario A describes CFC growth that didn’t happen.

      • Actually Scenarios B and C also describe CFC growth and CH4 growth that didn’t happen.

        In 1988, at the time of Hansen testimony,
        actual forcing rates were growing at more than 0.05W/m^2 per year ( the peak ) They fell, of course, to around 0.04W/m^2 in the decades since:

        The Scenarios A,B & C, of course, imagined MUCH greater forcing growth:

        That doesn’t mean the GCM was accurate, though, just that the GHG scenarios were wildly erroneous.

        And even more reason to question the any high end scenarios now.

        Especially since in the few years since AR5, it’s clear that GHG forcing is falling behind ( thin purple line ) all of the RCP scenarios:

      • I agree with what you say

  21. I would to see what these guys mean by “meaningful.” Does it mean they want to communicate the science with fidelity? Does it mean they want to communicate in such a manner as to keep climate science funding flowing? Does it mean they want to communicate in such a manner as to make climate change look scary? What do they mean exactly?

    I think the scientists need to emphasize the true uncertainty and the fact that scientists can’t even agree what the uncertainty is. They really need to stop pushing for a certain policy response. They need to be honest communicate truthfully.

    • Jim, I think “meaningful” is newspeak for “spin”. Scientists are just lousy at it. They get dizzy. If they wanted to be professional liars they could have learned marketing or law.

    • jim2,

      We are not intended to understand why the author’s used the word “meaningful” so inappropriately.

      They are clearly graduates of the Mosher School of Obscurantism. Summa cum laude, no doubt.

    • “graduates of the Mosher School of Obscurantism”

      If you use the word ‘unicorn’ or variant more than 10 times a day, you get an ‘A’… which is an estimate of the grade you actually got, and is subject to being changed in the future.

      Andrew

      • Your A is subject to adjustment depending on the measurement obtained by your nearer neighbors.

      • Always remember, your “A” is an estimate only of how you did, not an actual measurement.

        And don’t forget ass monkeys – always the ass monkeys.

        they need to read harder.

    • Steven Mosher

      “I would to see what these guys mean by “meaningful.”

      It is right there in the text. Each and every one of you fails basic reading comprehension. I award no no points.

      Start here:

      “In the last 25 years scientists have become increasingly certain that humans are responsible for changes to the climate. However, for many politicians and members of the public, climate change is still not a particularly pressing concern. In a new report – ‘Tension between scientific certainty and meaning complicates communication of IPCC reports’

      The authors draw a distinction and focus on the tension between “certainty” and “meaning” Certainty in this context refers to the holding of a belief.
      Meaning refers to the RELEVANCE of that belief to people.

      maybe this quote will help

      “Within the press conference, scientists tried to use the certainty of climate change to demonstrate that it is meaningful and that ‘we’ must take action:”

      Lets do a simple example. I’m certain the sky is blue, but that’s a meaningless fact. It has no relevance for people.

      The trap the scientists fell into was this: They wanted to make things “meaningful” or “relevant” to people. To do this they called attention to short periods. Short periods are “meaningful” or “relevant” to people because they are within our lived experience. We have all lived through the last 2 decades. These are relavant to us. They have meaning for us.
      The long term trends have no meaning for us. The same goes for extreme weather. When scientists focus on the extreme event or the hottest year, they are appealing to something that is a lived reality for us.. its relevant, meaningful. However, when they do this they are trafficing in bits of science that are LESS certain.

      here read this

      ‘When trying to engage the public about climate science, communicators should be aware that there is a tension between expressing scientific certainty (and focusing on longterm trends) and making climate change meaningful (by focusing on short-term trends) and, what is more, that this tension may be unavoidable. ”

      In summary, if you talk about things that the science is more certain about… long term trends.. you are talking about stuff that has no meaning for people. That’s why folks attempt to talk about your grandchildren. to make that certainty RELEVANT or MEANINGFUL to you.
      That approach hasnt been working. SO.. in recent years the focus has shifted to talking more about the things that are meaning full– the last decade being the warmest, 2014 being the warmest, Superstorm sandy,
      the arctic death spiral… AND when science runs to embrace what is meaninful it does so at the expense of certainty. THATS the tension.

      what do they mean by “meaningful” SIMPLE: relevant to the here and now.

      There is much to disagree with here, but first you have to understand what they mean by “meaningful” you might disagree with their characterization of “meaningful”. if so, replace it with the word “relevant” and calm down.

      • Steven Mosher,

        You are being silly.

        The passage you quoted is meaningless, isn’t it?

        “Within the press conference, scientists tried to use the certainty of climate change to demonstrate that it is meaningful and that ‘we’ must take action:”

        Tried to use the certainty of climate change? When did the climate ever not change? What have scientists to do with the climate changing?

        The climate seems to have continuously changed for four and a half billion years or so, without permission or agreement from scientists.

        Are the scientists happy with the present climate of California? For that matter, find one of these “scientists” to tell us – meaningfully – what the present Californian climate is, what it was, and what it should be in the future.

        Maybe you should stick to predicting the past. It looks like a lifetime sinecure, even if it is not particularly meaningful, or even relevant.

      • The problem is exactly their selective definition of “meaningful”.

        SUPERSTORM Sandy is “meaningful”, but 3500 days without a Cat 3
        landfall in the U.S. is “err, ummm, … weather”.

        They do this all the time, and it is one of their major credibility deficits.

        They tried to have it both ways and they got caught out. It’s that simple (and bleeding obvious to anybody outside academia)

      • But we should believe their adjusted-homogenized-in-filled-krigged-modeled-data, predictions, projections, and forcasts are “meaningful” and kosher for Passover too.

        And if somebody don’t, they actually sit and postulate and wonder about their supposed “Communication Problem”?

        That they can’t figure this out – and even write stuff like this paper – is one of the most disconcerting things of all.

      • #1

        “The passage you quoted is meaningless, isn’t it?

        A. No it’s meaningful
        B. demonstrating meaninglessness is a very difficult task
        to do it you have to demonstrate that there is no context
        or set of assumptions that could render it meaningful.
        C. Defining what meaning itself “is”, is no simple task. If you
        can go ahead. One of the simplest definitions is that meaning
        is the response. If you see a stop sign and stop then the
        meaning of that sign is demonstrated by your behavior.
        This is known as a response theory of meaning. Under this
        approach it is very hard for something to be meaningless.

        you write:

        “Within the press conference, scientists tried to use the certainty of climate change to demonstrate that it is meaningful and that ‘we’ must take action:”

        Tried to use the certainty of climate change? When did the climate ever not change? What have scientists to do with the climate changing?

        A) Tried to use the certainty of climate change.
        This refers to sccientists trying to use the ‘certainity’ of man made
        climate change. Note in this context ‘climate change’ has a prior
        referent: the IPCC document on human caused climate change.
        hence by applying the proper context you can define the term
        ‘climate change’ such that it has meaning. That is all you need to
        do to refute the mere assertion that it is meaningless.

        B) When did the climate ever not change?
        It depends on your definition of climate. Under certain definitions,
        say Koppen classifications, climate is the thing that DOESNT CHANGE. Further, “change” is also a relative term. Change implies
        a time frame which you havent defined. Further, change can refer
        to meaningful change, or noticable change, or statistically significant
        change. All of these definitions of change are conditional and dependent upon your choice. To show that climate is ALWAYS changing
        you have to show that under all choices of times periods and all choices of what “change” is, that climate is always changing. Consult
        heraclitus, he will help you but your case wont be proved.
        C) What have scientists to do with the changing climate?
        If the climate is changing ( you’d have to demonstrate that ) their role at a minimum is that of observer.

      • “The problem is exactly their selective definition of “meaningful”.

        As I said, you can quibble with their definition, HOWEVER, you cannot
        merely assert that their definition is meaningless or makes no sense.
        Further, All definitions are SELECTIVE, that’s the goal of a definition.
        Objectively determining the best definition is hard. try it.

        Now to your point.

        ‘SUPERSTORM Sandy is “meaningful”, but 3500 days without a Cat 3
        landfall in the U.S. is “err, ummm, … weather”.”

        Yes: Sandy is relevant, 3500 days without a dangerous storm is not relevant. Note the argument here is about its relevance to your lived
        experience. of course you can argue that it is relevant you might have a case. But you have to make a case, not merely assert one.

      • Mike 2.

        “The climate seems to have continuously changed for four and a half billion years or so, without permission or agreement from scientists.”

        A. You merely assert this. demonstrating that it has CONTINOUSLY
        changed is a hard piece of work. Go ahead, make the case
        and we can audit your work.
        B. To do so you have to define climate and what you mean by change.
        go ahead, I’ll play skeptic.
        C. They are refering to human caused climate change.
        D. Assuming the climate changes, assuming there is an objective
        thing in the world called climate ( how much does it weigh? how
        big is it? what color? ) its true that it doesnt need scientists to
        agree.

        you write:
        Are the scientists happy with the present climate of California? For that matter, find one of these “scientists” to tell us – meaningfully – what the present Californian climate is, what it was, and what it should be in the future.

        A. Since some climate scientists live in other places I’m sure they are happy with climates outside california. Since some live in california
        I am sure that some are happy. If they ski they are not so happy
        with the climate. Their emotional state is hard to measure and can probably only be inferred from their behavior. Some may smoke weed
        and be happy regardless of the climate. Some may move to costa rica
        and have the benefit of both.
        B. Find one to tell us what it meaningfully is?
        Easy. If you restrict climate to snowpack you can go look at the last
        30 years of data. That’s a good estimate of the climate. This would
        be meaninful or relevant to a skier. If you are a farmer, the relevant
        portion of climate would be rainfall. Look at the last 30 years. Good first
        cut. Are you a nudist? then you probably care about sunshine. Go look at that. Many aspects of the climate are relevant or meaningful. Depends on who you are and what you do.
        C. What is the california climate? depends. Are you a solar company?
        then climate might be average sunny days. farmer, climate would be
        precipitation and degree days. Energy producer? climate might be
        temperature.
        D. What should it be in the future? Again, it depends on who you are and what you do. However, the question misunderstands the problem.
        The problem isnt Picking the BEST climate. the problem is avoiding
        the WORST. Tonight i shall take a warm bath. If you asked me what the best water temp was, I could not give you an answer. I could however,
        say that 32F was bad and that 212F was very bad. I might guess that 96F was comfortable, but there is wiggle room. The mere existence of wiggle room does not entail that ALL changes in the temperature of bath water will be acceptable. Some are clearly bad even though you cant define the optimum. If I tell you that I would like to limit my bathwater below 105F
        That doesnt entail or require that some number below that is optimum.
        A single unique optimum need not exist for us to conclude that 105F bath water might be uncomfortable, considering that hot tbs have a cuttoff at 104, who am I to argue.

        So, what is the optimum bath water temperature. Understand bath water temperature is always changing and unless you can define the optimum, then all changes are acceptable..

      • David Springer

        Mosher don’t you have anything better to do? Surely there is data somewhere you haven’t tortured yet.

      • Steven Mosher,

        You don’t appear to have much appreciation of reality.

        You can’t define any of the terms you throw around, by the look of it. This thread is supposedly about climate change communication.

        Poor spelling, bizarre layout and peculiar punctuation may be a sign of your superior intelligence. If you think it leads to superior communication, maybe you should demand that all scientific writers follow your rules.

        Have you considered that providing facts might help to persuade people to accept your position. Or you can just treat anybody who disagrees with you as dumb, and not worth talking to.

        If this is the case, why do you even bother deigning to talk to people less intelligent than yourself? They don’t appear to be complying with your demands, do they?

        Maybe you should stick to changing the past, and giving advice to dumb people about what the future holds. I’d certainly appreciate some certainty about the stock market index on August 16. I will pay a tidy sum if you can predict this better than my 14 year old granddaughter. Or do you only do predictions about climate that you can’t define?

        Svante Arrhenius thought a bit of warming would lead to more equable climate, but I guess you are far too clever to accept such ramblings, as Svante didn’t define climate, or more, or equable. Oh well, we can’t all be perfect.

      • My Dear Steven Mosher,

        You have made a mighty effort, but some of your assumptions are in error.

        ”As I said, you can quibble with their definition, HOWEVER, you cannot
        merely assert that their definition is meaningless or makes no sense.”

        I in no way asserted that their definition is meaningless.

        ”Yes: Sandy is relevant, 3500 days without a dangerous storm is not relevant. Note the argument here is about its relevance to your lived experience. “

        And none of this has to do with any Ownlife of mine.

        It has to do with the gap between what “The Science” solidly supports, and “The Message” which they wish to convey. This they call The Tension.

        By their definition, “meaningful” (or relevant if you prefer) is something that supports The Message. Anything that undermines The Message is Tension.

        The Tension comes from trying to talk about two things – The Message and The Science at the same time.

        It would all be much easier if they would simply separate the two. At the beginning of a talk (or peer reviewed paper) they could say: “Today we deliver The Message” or “This is about The Science”. But they don’t. They try to do both at once.

        Since we can’t tell when they are doing one or the other, we must assume that they are actually ALWAYS delivering The Message – in which case everything they (and you) do – becomes Meaningless.

      • Mosher is just trying to derail a conversation he doesn’t like.

      • Mosher – let’s start with the dictionary instead.

        Full Definition of MEANING

        1
        a : the thing one intends to convey especially by language : purport
        b : the thing that is conveyed especially by language : import
        2
        : something meant or intended : aim
        3
        : significant quality; especially : implication of a hidden or special significance

        4
        a : the logical connotation of a word or phrase
        b : the logical denotation or extension of a word or phrase

        http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meaning

        I don’t see anything about relevance in any of this.

        Looks like some climate scientists make up “novel” Al-Gore-ithms, and some make up “novel” meanings for common words. It’s all part of the “craft” of climate science.

  22. Danny Thomas

    “Improving climate change communication: moving beyond scientific certainty”

    A decade is significant if it’s Hottest, a pause in the increase in temperatures is insignificant even if longer than the above reference decade, and then suddenly there is no longer a pause at all?

    What’s not clear and in what way does this “Climate Change” communication need improving? All seems to be functioning normally from what I can tell.

    I mean, gosh, what if we’d done this this other way around and told folks to expect “global cooling” and then just told them we were just kidding and that warming was really there all along hiding behind this curtain of aerosols…………I fell most certain that trust would never be an issue after that, huh?

    • The surface continued to warm, at a higher rate, until the end of 2005. It is now the 10th year and the current mean through April is .73C, which is .08C higher than 2005, and it’s possible the mean will get much higher than that by year end.

      1998 versus 2005, warming continued after 1998

      • JCH,

        What is this “surface” to which you refer? I may be wrong, but climatologists studiously ignore actual surface temperatures, where recorded, don’t they?

        They seem to use “pretend” surfaces, which include purported air temperatures at various heights above the local ground level, odds and sods of sea water temperatures, satellite readings of whatever is closest to the satellite, along its line of sight, and a variety of made up interpolated, kriged, or otherwise invented fantasies.

        So which surface are you talking about?

      • ‘surface’ refers to 2meter atmospheric temperature.
        ‘skin’ refers to the temperature of the land/ocean.

        definitions are a wonderful thing.
        learn one

      • Two meters above the land makes sense. SST, whatever the H that is, is little tougher.

        But their methods are transparent, and bunches of people have gone through them over and over and over. I refuse to get tied up in this insipid conspiracy rot, and it is rot.

        Some will never be satisfied and that means they simply don’t matter.

      • ‘surface’ refers to 2meter atmospheric temperature.
        ‘skin’ refers to the temperature of the land/ocean.

        definitions are a wonderful thing.
        learn one

        Of course, the WMO standard is 1.25m to 2m
        and memory tells me a number of EU stations are at 1.5m

        Do you have metadata for this?

        Most station catalogs include only a single value – elevation

  23. My position because I am in position to do it is I will not let the IPCC influence my opinion on what the climate is doing and where it may be heading. In addition agenda driven data put forth by AGW enthusiast I likewise ignore just like they do with data which is not agenda driven.

    Satellite data,radiosonde data and agencies of the like of Weatherbell Inc., is the data I rely on to see where the state of the climate is and where it may be heading.

    The same applies to most mainstream climatologist that have proven they are not capable of evaluating the factors that cause the climate to change .

    Why I do not know for sure but if i had to guess I think it is because they are AGW agenda driven. In they end this will not matter only the data going forward is going to matter.

    • This result would send the nose of a bloodhound to the ground until it had its man…something in satellite world stinks.

      But in blogworld it says what they desperately want to hear and they’re not about to look.

      • The case could be made that the difference is mostly the land “adjustments”. This would mean it is the land temperature measurements that are stinking, not both the satellites and the radiosondes.

        Which would mean that the difference is CGAGW and not satellite mis-measurement of AGW.

        Only warmers believe CGAGW and AGW are both real warming

  24. The certainty ends with co2 forcing. Beyond this we have radiative physics people (dime a dozen) claiming their fly by night studies trump decades of research by climatologists

  25. Richard Arrett wrote on June 8, 2015 at 12:13 pm
    It is delightful that the press are finally catching on that climate scientists (some anyway) are advocates and not objective reporters of just the facts.”

    I hope you are right! Until the press, scientists, and engineers call certain players to task, and until advocates are willing to come clean about the unknowns and uncertainties involved, thoughtful citizens will remain very resistant to calls for action.

    Along those lines I made a comment about the Lafayette Climate Debates back in April which still largely covers why the average common-sense voter does not feel compelled to commit large sums of money toward action at this time: too much uncertainty remains in too many facets of this whole area of science and the fields of science and engineering required to mount an effective response to the perceived dangers.

    Below is my comment from April:

    Resolved: That all states have an obligation to understand the causes of climate change, the timeline and impact of each resulting change, both positive and negative, and the costs/benefits/risks of the various strategies for adaptation and mitigation before appropriating and committing manpower and capital towards such ends.

    • Curious George

      A nice resolution. What body can dictate obligations to all states?

      • Fortunately, there is no such body at this time. It remains up to the citizens of each state to determine their obligations and how to meet them. For now, at least. (hint: there are more than 58 states)

  26. We need these guys to have a session with climate scientists.

  27. the post on this paper at BishopHill highlights the David Rose saga in all this, well worth reading

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2015/6/8/ipcc-climate-misinformers.html

    • David Rose’s questioning led him to be being branded “climate misinformer of the year”. This paper goes a long way towards demonstrating that that particular accolade belongs to the IPCC.

      What does this say about the people who did the branding? Can you spell “bad faith”?

    • He is asking the wrong question, he should be asking about the uncertainty in short term trends.

      He needs a primer in experimental design and hypothesis testing.

      The question being, does the trend since 1998 support either of the following hypotheses?

      The trend continues at about 0.2 C per decade.

      or

      The trend is near zero.

      Now look at the data

      RSS from 1998: -0.042 +/- 0.194 C/decade
      UAH from 1998: 0.070 +/- 0.199 C/decade

      Thus using the data, you can not rule out one or the other, you need a longer trend to do that.

      What is the uncertainty in the determination of 2014 as the warmest year, or the last decade being the warmest?

      Do some homework

  28. Pity the poor climate scientist. Climate storms have blown up his skirts so many times that the ugly picture of his backsides distract from what he says.
    The only wicked thing about the climate problem is that there is no model suitable to support engineering trades for proposed actions while political gasbags demand action now.
    Climate science isn’t science; it is politics.

  29. Interesting analysis of a muddled press conference. It is far too late for a more honest communication of uncertainty to fix the underlying root problem AR5 said anthropogeic warming, 95% certainty. It said climate models had improved since AR4. Based on that, Obama’s SOTU said the science was settled. Hasn’t warmed in the 21st century, the CMIP5 models have been falsified, and the most charitable thing that can be said about Karl’s effort to disappear the pause by adjusting the data and loosening confidence bounds is that he shows themscience isn’t settled. To become ‘honest’ now just shows the past dishonesty. So the dishonesty will continue, and it will get louder and more obvious as Paris approaches. And the CAGW trainwreck will continue to get bigger, and ‘deadlier’ for those who are on it.

    • “CMIP5 models have been falsified”???

      • Rob, in 2009 NOAA’s State of the Climate report said it would take a 15 year pause to falsify the models. BAMS 90, Special supplement, Page 23.. In 2011 Santer published a paper saying 17. J. Geophys. Res. 116: D22105 (2011). As of 2014, the pause had lasted 16, 19, or 26 years depending on dataset. McKitrick, Open Journal of Statistics 4: 527-535. (2014). Details in essay An Awkward Pause in my ebook, foreword by Judith. The models are busted. And so are their sensitivity estimates. Lewis and Curry 2014.

      • Rud–it is a minor point but I do not think you really falsify a model. You show it’s relative accuracy. Aren’t CMIP models from the 2010 timeframe?

      • The forward predictions start from 2006. All earlier is hindcast. Modelers were given some choices about the exact timing and sources of the initialization data at that time (e.g. Jan 1 2006, or the average over the previous 3 months.) The archive design was finalized in 2011, based on initial ‘experimental design’ protocols promulgated in 2009. You can access it on line. I do not know when the last ‘experiments’ were actually placed in the archive. Probably by July 2012, which IIRC was the cutoff for literature to be considered by WG1.

  30. Reblogged this on JunkScience.com and commented:
    Communication of climate certainty? Climate science seems to throw a hodge-podge of spotty measurements, mixed with assumptions and derive trends that exceed accuracy of measurements. It then reports and compares means without statistical comparison of those differences and makes statements with great certainty. It uses models with very poor predictive values and some communicate certainty that they have the key to controlling future global temperature. It would be akin to building a “precision” clock with a ruler that has the lowest measurement at 1″ and guaranteeing the number of seconds it will gain or lose in 100 years. An interesting discussion on communications from political science/sociology.

  31. Isn’t it a shame all those Argo buoys had the wrong temperature? I think we need better buoys. I sketched an alternate model and left a description in one of those blogs the big shots at NOAA seem to read.

    • FL, if you have not yet, read Eschenbach’s calculation of Argo temperature measurement uncertainty posted recently at WUWT. And some of the comments which furthered the analysis. Based on a little known 2007 paper that compared Argo to a research vessel transect of the Atlantic. One can only conclude that the published small error bars are either a result of monumental statistical incompetence, or deliberate exaggeration of certainty. A truly damning indictment of climate science either way.

  32. “we are very clear in our report that it is inappropriate to compare a short-term period of observations with model performance” .

    This reminds me of healthcare, to a degree. In medicine, there is a tendency for some people to pay far too much attention to electronic monitoring devices. One of the mindsets we attempt to enforce with newer people is that we treat the patient, not the monitor, whether that monitor be a cardiac monitor or oxygen saturation monitor. The bottom line is to always treat the patient. If your cardiac monitor shows your patient’s heart has stopped beating, yet he’s sitting there talking to you in no distress, there’s a high degree of certainty of an error with your device, not the patient. Computer models seem to fall in this category, to a degree. We have models, but if the models, in retrospect, fail to model the observed climate, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start again. I’m sorry, but if model projections can’t manage short term timescales, how am I supposed to be confident in models of longer time scales. To many people, this would fly in the face of logic and common sense.

  33. In my limited experience, I found that when speaking with and to the public at large, the following book was invaluable in learning how to do it:

    Frank Luntz, “Words that work.”

    Moreover, speaking in plain everyday English helps. Using jargon is a killer.

    George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA

  34. From the article:

    John Tierney and Roger Pielke Jr. have recently discussed attempts to validate (or falsify) IPCC projections of global temperature change over the period 2000-2007. Others have attempted to show that last year’s numbers imply that ‘Global Warming has stopped’ or that it is ‘taking a break’ (Uli Kulke, Die Welt)). However, as most of our readers will realise, these comparisons are flawed since they basically compare long term climate change to short term weather variability.

    Problems can occur though if the estimate of the forced change is compared directly to the real trend in order to see if they are consistent. You need to remember that the real world consists of both a (potentially) forced trend but also a random weather component. This was an issue with the recent Douglass et al paper, where they claimed the observations were outside the mean model tropospheric trend and its uncertainty. They confused the uncertainty in how well we can estimate the forced signal (the mean of the all the models) with the distribution of trends+noise.

    Well, if you start to take longer trends, then the uncertainty in the trend estimate approaches the uncertainty in the expected trend, at which point it becomes meaningful to compare them since the ‘weather’ component has been averaged out. In the global surface temperature record, that happens for trends longer than about 15 years, but for smaller areas with higher noise levels (like Antarctica), the time period can be many decades.

    Are people going back to the earliest projections and assessing how good they are? Yes. We’ve done so here for Hansen’s 1988 projections, Stefan and colleagues did it for CO2, temperature and sea level projections from IPCC TAR (Rahmstorf et al, 2007), and IPCC themselves did so in Fig 1.1 of AR4 Chapter 1. Each of these analyses show that the longer term temperature trends are indeed what is expected. Sea level rise, on the other hand, appears to be under-estimated by the models for reasons that are as yet unclear.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/01/uncertainty-noise-and-the-art-of-model-data-comparison/

  35. “A new report from The University of Nottingham looks at whether climate scientists threaten their own scientific credibility when trying to make their research accessible to members of the public.”

    IMHO, climate scientist threaten their own credibility when they:
    1) Attempt to limit access to data and methods.
    2) Attempt to limit discussion by skeptics by pal review and non-pal rejection of research.
    3) Overstate the likelihood that they are correct.
    4) Immediately resort to character assassination of peers that don’t agree with them, vs. discussion of scientific merit.
    5) Resort to legal devices (nuisance law suits) to silence dissenters
    6) Fail to discuss limitations and plausible alternatives to their theories
    7) Resort to post-hock evidentiary citations in an attempt to gain public support of their theories: There are more or less hurricanes, more or less sea-ice, more or less clouds, fog, rain, viruses, fleas, mice, ground-hogs, wild goats, mountain pica’s, etc., etc., etc.

    I have lots more, but run out of time.

    My $0.02 – Gravy-train climate pseudo-scientists have ruined it for the rest of us who are trying to do real science. They are sucking up $Billions in research dollars that could otherwise be used to feed the hungry, heal the sick, make us happier, richer, etc, etc.

  36. catweazle666

    I seem to recollect that over half a century ago, one of the first things that we were taught of science was that there was no certainty in science, there was only what was known at that particular point in time.

    Why has that changed – particularly with regard to “climate science”, which is clearly one of the most uncertain varieties ever dreamed up?

  37. In the end, even if you show the public the raw data, it is a Rorschach test. You can see this as a steady 40-year rise, or that maybe, somehow, that the rise has now possibly stopped this time. Show the lines and debate the merits of both sides. You can then tell which side is using short-term trends and which is not. Pictures are always better than words.
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/from:1900/mean:120/mean:240/plot/gistemp/from:1985/trend/plot/gistemp/mean:12

  38. So some people have an opinion about some other people’s opinions at a press conference. Should that be broken up into Abstract, Phases 1 to 4, Conclusion, complete with diagrams and ‘here-we-demonstrate’? Was this press conference really some sort of observable phenomenon? Or was it just a session of gas-bagging where you can take your pick about what so-and-so meant or might have meant or should have said?

    We all know what uncertainty is, and we know what fudging and face-saving are for. Don’t try turn those things into measurable phenomena. Just tell us what’s on your mind. Remember: scienciness is taking up the space meant for science.

    • I know you disdain all social science, but I can’t agree with you here. It is a notable observation that the scientists are presenting inconsistent stories about how meaningful short-term trends are. It is an interesting interpretation that this inconsistency was caused by a desire to impress the public with the urgency of responding to the alleged problem.

  39. “Improving climate change communication: moving beyond scientific certainty.”

    The problem with so called climatology is encapsulated in the title, which refers to climate change communication.

    Climate always changes. If the climate no longer changed, there would be cause for concern, as the atmosphere would be gone.

    What the Warmists’ manifesto amounts to, is that current H2O, CO2, NH4, and certain other gas levels are injurious to human health. No more, no less.

    They advocate the reduction of levels of CO2, NH4, and others.

    In other words, a very small minority of Warmists demand that the vast bulk of the world’s population reduce the amount of stuff they burn to produce energy for electricity, transport on land, on sea, or through the air, food and pharmaceutical production, and so on.

    It is noticeable that Warmists avoid calling for reduction in H2O levels, even though this, according to Warmists, is supposed to be the most harmful gas to humanity.

    If so called “greenhouse gases” are injurious, then H2O, as the major component must be the worst offender. This does not suit the Warmist desire for reducing “fossil fuel” use, so it is not mentioned as the main culprit.

    Diversions such as the “greenhouse effect” (non existent, and nothing to do with greenhouses anyway), “global warming” (impossible to measure the temperature of the “globe”), “energy budgets” (absolute irrelevant scientific nonsense when applied to the Earth), and all the other delusional words employed by Warmists, merely mask their mad and irrational abhorrence of CO2.

    Trying to change the subject and call CO2 a pollutant or poison, is just silly. It is a product of life, and is food for plants.

    Confusing the issue by calling for “emissions” to be reduced, is equally as silly. The human body, at various times, emits from every orifice. Snot, faeces, urine, ear wax, tears . . . CO2, in fact is emitted with every breath.

    How about reducing “pollution”? Surely everybody would support that? Indeed, but CO2 is not a pollutant at present or foreseeable levels.

    So it boils down to “stop burning fossil fuels”. Climatology? Just a ruse to achieve an unstated aim. It’s worked pretty well so far, in large part due to the fact that the U.S. public is easily frightened, and subject to irrational mass hysteria from time to time. Like most other populations, really.

    CO2 is not only benign at present levels, it is vitally necessary to mankind. H2O is equally as necessary. Why anybody would want to demonise either, and call for their reduction, is beyond me. More, rather than less, would seem to be a good thing.

    • 2. CO2 at levels less than 1200 PPM is beneficial, both in more plant growth and reduced water consumption (more food).

      3. The current CO2 increase of 2.2 PPM/Y is going to decrease unless emissions drastically increase. And there isn’t any reason to expect a drastic increase in emissions for economic and policy reasons. There is only 76 years of fossil fuel reserves and severe limitations on how fast we can burn it at a reasonable fuel price. Supply and demand and all that economic stuff that global warmers don’t seem understand.

      4. The likely peak CO2 level is under 480 PPM

      5. Even if we use 1.64°C for the ECS (and the ECS won’t come into play because the CO2 level won’t be high long enough) the 480 PPM CO2 level will cause 0.49°C further warming.

      6. The warming since the 1700’s has been beneficial (55%+ plant growth since 1900, 11% between 1982 and 2010) and there is no evidence 0.49°C of further warming will on net be bad. Obviously the Karl discovered 21st century warming has continued to be beneficial.

      7. And now a word on ocean alkalinity. CO2 Emissions increased 50% since 2000. The massive change in ocean PH is so obvious. Yeah, I don’t see much change either. Bermuda seems to be getting more alkaline since 2005 and the Canary Islands PH hasn’t changed for the last decade. And this during the greatest increase in fossil fuel CO2 emissions in GT/Y in history.

      Communication is expressing or exchanging information. The AGW crowd is lying through their teeth. This is propagandizing not communicating.

      • “Bermuda seems to be getting more alkaline since 2005 and the Canary Islands PH hasn’t changed for the last decade”

        Those periods are far too short to refute the longterm trend.

        This is exactly why the pause in global warming is in error too.

        If you calculated the trend up to 2005 and since 2005 you’d find they weren’t different statistically.

      • nebakhet,

        You wrote –

        “Those periods are far too short to refute the longterm trend.”

        You are correct. In the last four and a half billion years, the planet has cooled. Claims that it somehow stopped cooling, and started increasing its temperature in spite of steadily falling CO2 levels over that period, are simply bizarre.

        I am at a loss to understand why you want to continue inflicting a frozen Antarctica, vast areas of permafrost, and dry areas like the Sahara on us.

        What’s wrong with returning to a far more hospitable planet, with far more CO2 plant food around? What good does attempting to reduce CO2 levels even more, achieve?

        Less plant life? Are all Warmists suicidal?

      • @ PA – and just so everyone knows, these ocean acidity plots are SIMULATIONS, not measurements. All good chemists know that it is impossible to measure pH to better than about 0.1, and the ‘trend’ we see here is 0.04.

      • The accuracy of an off the shelf pH meter is 0.002 pH units.
        Cost about 2 grand.

        The only thing a good chemist knows for sure, is what he learned last week is going to be overturned by what is on the syllabus for next week.

      • nebakhet | June 9, 2015 at 6:57 am |
        “Bermuda seems to be getting more alkaline since 2005 and the Canary Islands PH hasn’t changed for the last decade”

        Those periods are far too short to refute the longterm trend.

        This is exactly why the pause in global warming is in error too.

        This is incorrect. It is too short for natural cycles.

        But anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions (AFFE) have increased 50% in 15 years.

        Therefore according to global warming theory 1/3 of the increase in warming (TCR) should have occurred in the last 15 years.

        The substantial increase in emissions is supposed to cause a reduction in ocean PH, not an increase.

        If the climate (alkalinity and temperature) wasn’t getting noticeably worse during the period of mankind’s greatest annual increase in fossil fuel emissions – what is going to happen now that the emissions increase is tapering off and emissions are stabilizing (an emissions pause so to speak)?

    • The long term trend? Not from the hockey stick thank you very much!

  40. Fisking press conferences is an odd topic for a scientific publication, better left to blogs or not.

    • Wrong. How scientists communicate with the public and the media is a very important topic, and worthy of academic study.

      This will be one of the topics that will be discussed at the Circling the Square conference in Nottingham in a couple of weeks time, that Judith mentions at the end of the post. Other climate-related speakers include Mike Hulme, Leo Hickman and Hans von Storch.

      • > Wrong.

        You missed the “or not” Paul.

        Hulme and von Storch might have little to tell us about fisking press releases, BTW.

    • If you criticize climate ‘science’ in the blogs you’re told that it isn’t peer reviewed and thus safely ignored. If you criticize it in the journals then you are told that it belongs in the blogs.

      And if you point out the sophistry of the Climate Faithful you only said what everyone already knows. <¿<

  41. Now THIS is improved communication about climate,

    http://www.steynonline.com/6910/mann-vs-steyn-the-state-of-play

    • I think Steyn only has to plead ignorance, for which he is making a good case, and it will go away.

      • Once the current appeal is over, I expect that Mann will try to dismiss his case. I don’t think it is working out for Mann as he expected.

        I wonder if Steyn will agree to dismiss his counterclaims if Mann agrees to dismiss his complaint? I bet he won’t. Steyn wants to take Mann’s deposition and have him testify at court and Steyn wants a court decision.

        If this gets to a court decision – Steyn will win (in my opinion).

      • Yeah right! Now I understand better why Monfort loves you so much.

    • Thanks for posting. I bought a couple of coffee mugs to help support Steyn.

      This is a very important case that hopefully Steyn will be able to see through to the end.

  42. “[The] report demonstrates that we must greatly reduce global emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”

    No, it does not DEMONSTRATE this at all – it merely SUGGESTS it as conditional upon the correctness of the assumptions that go into the report and the values of the scientists themselves.

    Distinguishing between what is known, what is assumed is important.
    As is understanding that not all people value things the same, or even the same way.
    By stating that the report DEMONSTRATES the need for mitigation, they are conflating facts (temperature increase), projections (future increases) and values (what the losses they envision cost us all and if it’s worth preventing).

  43. A broader, more inclusive public dialogue will have to include crucial scientific details that we are far less certain about and these need to be embraced in order to make climate change meaningful.

    In other words, they need to figure out how to lie to us in a more convincing way.

  44. I just luv the term “meaning-making”.

    It just sez it all. Especially in the sentence with “Paris”.

    Who needs leaked emails? This stuff is peer reviewed!

  45. “A broader, more inclusive public dialogue will have to include crucial scientific details that we are far less certain about and these need to be embraced in order to make climate change meaningful.”

    Should be quite simple. Just list your necessary premises, assign a probability (reasonable subjective probabilities allowed) to each premise of being true and then multiply all the values.

    • David Wojick

      Except the debate is about the probabilities, which range from near zero to near 100% for the same premises. Plus human reasoning is not probabilistic.

  46. It would be interesting for Dr. Curry (or a Denizen) to write a blog post on the Ozone Hole asking for a one time debate on this here at CE.

    Would we hear many of the same type of comments/views that we hear on AGW?

    What makes the Ozone Hole and AGW so fundamentally different?

    • Ozone hole is objectively observable whilst AGW is subjectively estimated based on models.

      • David Wojick

        But the attribution issues are similar. AOH and AGW. Human attribution for unhappy trends is central to environmentalism.

      • This is the problem. We spend almost all our time arguing about what we disagree on, rather than spending some time discussing what we can agree on.

        AGW is not simply subjective. Probably 99% of Climate Scientists can agree that (1) In the past ~200 years, the Earth has warmed; (2) Since the 1950’s, a large part of this warming is human driven — (where “a large part” means probably somewhere between 50% [Curry] and +100% [Schmidt]).

      • David Wojick

        I think it is more like 80%, which is roughly the percentage of scientists that are Democrats. My view is that none of the slight warming that seems to have happened is human induced, not counting UHI of course. That is real.

      • David Wojick

        By the way Stephen, if the earth warmed naturally for 150 years why did it slow down to make room for human induced warming? Oh wait, we have no idea what has actually happened. That is what the debate is all about.

      • For every Michael Mann, there are esteemed Scientists like Nobel Prize winner Dr. Mario Molina. Dr. Muller (BEST) constantly addresses uncertainty.

      • David Wojick

        Stephen, Molina was the chief AOH scaremonger, the Mann of the ozone hole, as it were.

      • David Wojick

        Actually Stephen, the scientific debate is trinary. There are CAGW warmers like Karl and Gavin, lukewarmers like Curry and Michaels, and skeptics like me and a whole bunch of other people. I see the conflict as pretty permanent politically, like gun control. The disagreement is fundamental.

      • Dr. Molina also received a Nobel Prize for his scaremongering work.

      • David — There is not a person on this Earth that knows how the science of AGW will eventually play out. Given this “fact”, are there any no-regrets Government Policy initiatives that you could support? Or are the words of “no-regrets” and “Government involvement” an oxymoron in your opinion?

      • As did Al Gore. Then a whole bunch of pretenders all claimed to have received the prize as well.

      • David Wojick

        Indeed Peter, Gore and Molina’s Nobels are equally justified in my view, which is not.

      • Big, big difference in receiving a Nobel Prize in chemistry as Dr. Molina did (and you incredibly think was unwarranted?)

        What do you think about this story? Any Republican that breaks with people like Inhofe, are they traitors?: http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/republican-donor-climate-change-clean-energy-20150608?ref=facebook.com&mrefid=walkingheader

      • David Wojick

        It would not surprise me if Mann got a Nobel in physics. He has already got a heavily funded institute and published many heavily cited papers. What does surprise me is that people do not see how big all this is. Environmentalism today is as powerful as communism was 100 years ago, if not more so.

      • David Wojick

        Stephen, I do not use the word traitor for people I disagree with, but Graham is certainly making himself a GOP outsider. He has zero chance of being nominated. It is really very simple. Inconclusive science being used to justify hugely disruptive policies creates a predictable political standoff.

        By the way, about 1.5 eons ago Inhofe and I jointly (and successfully) sued the NSF to prevent the first so-called USGCRP National Assessment (or the National Scare, as I like to call it) from becoming Federal policy. Mind you the great green march barely slowed down, if at all. Happily neither has the standoff.

      • Stephen Segrest | June 9, 2015 at 9:47 am |
        This is the problem. We spend almost all our time arguing about what we disagree on, rather than spending some time discussing what we can agree on.

        The basic issue is that there are about 7 or 8 unproven postulates to the global warming story and I disagree with almost all of them.

        Until we reach 500 PPM, I view any attempt to limit CO2 as a deliberate and malicious attack on the world’s food supply.

        Perhaps that is a good compromise. If the global warmers agree to leave CO2 and fossil fuel alone until CO2 level hits 500 PPM the skeptics can agree to help them transition from fossil fuels when it does.

        This is sort of win-win. It doesn’t look possible to hit 500 PPM. But to save the earth from future CO2 starvation we really want to try.

        If we actually do hit 500 PPM the global warmers will have been at least partially right, and some limitations on emissions might make sense as a precaution. But until we hit 500 PPM there is really no cause for concern or action.

    • Andrew Revkin (N.Y. Times) talks a lot about this on his blog — where usually, AGW is defined as a binary issue (e.g., CAGW or Denier). Defined this way, there will always be major conflict.

      • Yes – not very rational.

        But that seems to be the human condition.

      • And the ever present political back end makes it so.

        Regardless of where in the middle you might be,
        the question in the back of everyone’s mind ( the back end ) is
        do we need to do something about this?
        ( which for governments means do we need to take money away from some groups and boss them around? )

      • David Wojick

        Disagreement is perfectly rational, because the weight of evidence is relative to the observer.

  47. David Wojick

    This is somewhat off topic, but I ran across a personal interview with Gavin on the NASA climate change propaganda website. Turns out one of his hobbies is juggling! So I guess juggling data comes naturally to him.

  48. David Wojick

    Speaking of communication, the USGCRP (Global Change Research Propaganda) has posted a glowing report on the Karl data twist:
    http://www.globalchange.gov/news/global-warming-hiatus-never-happened-new-study. Karl chairs their governing committee.

    • Karl chairs their governing committee.

      So he’ll be able to exonerated himself of any wrongdoing later on as well, I assume?

      Climate ‘Science’ at its finest.

  49. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/06/06/more-curiosities-about-noaas-new-pause-busting-sea-surface-temperature-dataset/

    This exposes the situation for what it is which is AGW enthusiast manipulation of any data that does not support their theory.

  50. The main difference between ‘scientific certainty’ and ‘certainty’ in general is that scientists are not expected to run away from the ethical, moral and practical principles underlying the use of the scientific method; and, its the embrace of the scientific method that gives scientists’ findings any credibility.

  51. Andrew Revkin (NY Times) has an article where Bill McKibben and Anthony Watts sat down and chatted for 2 hours (and didn’t kill each other).

    They found some common ground on air and water pollution.

    They both have solar panels on their homes (for very different reasons).

    Even here at CE one can see glimpses of trying to find Common Ground (e.g. Fast Mitigation of CFCs, Methane, Black Carbon, Smog).

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/08/a-climate-campaigner-bill-mckibben-and-climate-change-critic-anthony-watts-meet-in-a-bar/?smid=fb-share&_r=0

    • Did McKibben really believe that Watts was for air and water pollution? This is what happens when you drink too much of your own kool-aid.

      • TJA I got the impression (I could be wrong) that their discussion of pollution was in reference to AGW mitigation efforts (called Fast Mitigation of reducing Smog, Methane, CFCs, and Black Carbon).

        Often, people who oppose actions to mitigate AGW also oppose (or are not very clear) on further actions to reduce so-called short lived carbon pollutants. They criticize Obama and the EPA for “over-reach”.

        One example often cited of EPA over-reach is mercury, which has resulted in ~40% of U.S. coal power plants closing.

        Another example is current debate to reduce Smog. Where the EPA is again cited with over-reach to reduce ppb levels.

    • Even here at CE one can see glimpses of trying to find Common Ground (e.g. Fast Mitigation of CFCs, Methane, Black Carbon, Smog).

      Well…

      1. Only 20% of methane is from fuel extraction. Methane only has a 9 year lifetime. It is pretty futile to do anything about methane that has more than a trivial cost.

      2. CFCs. We have banned them so in theory they are going to go away. Less ozone has a trivial effect and the ozone level seems to improving. Again – unless the cost is almost zero or less there is no reason to do anything about CFCs.

      3. Black carbon. Black carbon has always existed. Global emissions of black carbon probably weren’t exceeded by fossil fuel emissions until 1958 if then. So about a 50% reduction was all that was necessary.

      Black carbon has been reduced at least 90% since the 1960s and current diesels produce 1% of the carbon black that a 1960s diesel engine produced. Yet another area where it is time to put a fork in the EPA – it’s done.

      4. Smog. Not a fan of smog. Again – 6 major pollutants reduced 60% just since 1990. Population increase 50% since then. Fossil fuel consumption has almost doubled. So pollution has effectively decreased 3.3 times since 1990.

      VOC in LA was 100 PPB in 1960. Today despite tripled fuel consumption VOC levels in LA are around 2 PPB, they are 50 times less than they used to be (effectively 150 times cleaner than 1960).

      It is what it is. US air is clean enough to breath. Air wasn’t ever perfectly clean.

      There should be a mandatory requirement that any new EPA regulations be cost effective. There would have to be a proven – not speculative – benefit that exceeded the cost of compliance for the EPA to act..

      • benefit that exceeded the cost of compliance for the EPA to act..

        PA,what kind of value do you put on human health when you do these cost benefit analyses?

      • Joseph,

        I don’t know about you, but the value of anything is what someone is prepared to pay for it.

        “Human health” is one of those vague, indefinite, terms beloved of the emotional blackmailer, to be hurled at an opponent when facts don’t suit your case.

        What value do you put on human health, yourself? How did you calculate it?

      • David Wojick

        There is a mandatory requirement for cost benefit analysis, but it is just an executive order so there is no real enforcement. The agency cannot be sued to force them to be honest, as is done with environmental impact analysis. What we need is a law requiring cost benefit analysis.

        In the climate area the so called Social Cost of Carbon is a glaring absurdity. It uses 300 year projections of climate change and resulting economic damages from today’s emissions.

      • PA — When the AGW Debate is is most often framed as binary (CAGW versus Deniers), Green Conservatives feel caught in the crossfire. For every Michael Mann or Richard Lindzen that people point to, we have our Mario Molina (Nobel Prize fame) types that we trust and listen to.

        We don’t like top/down liberal approaches to almost anything (carbon taxes, cap & trade CO2 schemes, Federal Renewable Energy Standards). We do constantly look for Common Ground, especially Bottom/Up approaches to AGW.

        Dr. Molina, Dr. Ramanathan, and Others (including Dr. Curry) believe that “world-wide” Fast Mitigation of so-called short lived climate pollutants has a lot of promise. A key here is “buying time”, slowing down the trajectory growth in Greenhouse gasses. According to Dr. Ramanathan, Fast Mitigation can give us ~25 years to let the engineering technology catch up with the AGW perceived problem.

        Thus, closely coupled to Fast Mitigation should be a dramatic increase in engineering R&D such as nuclear and batteries.

        International cooperation needs to be huge — but not in International Treaties (e.g., Paris). It needs to be focused on things like trade and financing mechanisms for Developing Countries. Africa is prime example where two-thirds of the Continent doesn’t even have access to electricity.

        The focus in Africa should be “all of the above” mindset of efficient use of fossil fuels and Renewables. What’s never mentioned here at CE when people cite LCOE with specific generation options is that in Africa especially, the decision is the LCOE of Generation, Transmission, and Distribution — where delivery infrastructure is often non-existent.

      • Stephen Segrest | June 10, 2015 at 8:20 am |
        PA — When the AGW Debate is is most often framed as binary (CAGW versus Deniers), Green Conservatives feel caught in the crossfire. For every Michael Mann or Richard Lindzen that people point to, we have our Mario Molina (Nobel Prize fame) types that we trust and listen to.

        We don’t like top/down liberal approaches to almost anything (carbon taxes, cap & trade CO2 schemes, Federal Renewable Energy Standards). We do constantly look for Common Ground, especially Bottom/Up approaches to AGW.

        The lay of the land is something like this.

        1. There is no CAGW threat.
        2. More CO2 is beneficial.
        3. The global warmers are out to impoverish western economies and potentially starve future billions for no good reason.
        4. We only have about 76 years of fossil fuel if that. Less than 40 years of fossil fuel at reasonable cost.

        The global warmers want to double or triple energy costs just to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to something else by 5-10 years. They want to do really stupid and senseless things like shutting down performing assets that aren’t fully depreciated. Since the current renewable energy sources take enormous resources (and a lot of pollution) to manufacture and much land to deploy, I tend to regard the suggested approach of global warmers as a sign of mental illness or defect.

        We should frustrate the aspersions of the global warmers because their level of dishonesty and deceit is so great that we need to make a public example of them and head off a repeat of this sort of Alinsky style policy debate. People who use Alinsky tactics (like global warmers) should be told to shut up and ignored from a policy perspective.

        But we still have a problem in that we are running out of fossil fuels. As fully depreciated assets are replaced we should consider non-fossil sources for new facilities and deploy truly clean renewable resources when their unsubsidized cost is competitive, with nuclear used to provide clean base-load support. This is a low impact way to gradually walk away from fossil fuel.

  52. Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to decieve…

  53. Climate science is in the dark ages from not agreeing or for that matter really not knowing why/how the climate of the earth changes to not even being able to agree on present and past data. Between all the adjustments and all the different sources to collect climate data I would say this field is in the dark ages. It is the only scientific area where one can say no progress has been made.

    The other side of the coin is ,there is opportunity because of the state this field is in.

  54. “Speakers attempted to communicate this through reference to short-term temperature increases. However, when journalists enquired about the similarly short ‘pause’2 in global temperature increase, the speakers dismissed the relevance of such timescales, thus becoming incoherent as to ‘what counts’ as scientific evidence for AGW. We call this the ‘IPCC’s certainty trap’.”

    No, It’s called: Trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    A simple concept. Been around a long time. But who needs common sense when you’re writing for Nature Climate Change?

  55. Some amusement for a Wednesday. From the article:

    The problem with women scientists is their tendency to fall in love with male colleagues, to distract the men from laboratory work and to cry when criticised. That is the view of the British Nobel laureate Tim Hunt, who admitted yesterday that he was a “chauvinist pig”.

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4465696.ece

  56. bedeverethewise

    Dr Curry,
    Did you see this post on the Nottinghan blogs? It was from a month ago, you were mention a lot in the post and then most of the comments were Lucia knocking ATTP around, like a cat toying with a wounded mouse.

    http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2015/05/14/lukewarmers/

  57. It’s about time. RSS has been RemiSS in not slamming the drawer on the fingers of the people who have been abusing their product, which is not a very accurate measure of the temperature of the surface of the earth.

    So Mears is finally coming off the pine to body check them.

    And this is a test of genuine skepticism. Where was the planning engineer? Where was Lucia?

    • Anyone who is familiar with the MSU measurements knows it never was a proxy for surface temperature.

      However, GCMs clearly indicate temperatures are modeled to increase with height in the equatorial zone ( more than half the surface of the earth ).

      That means globally,
      lower troposphere should warm faster than surface,
      and upper troposphere should warm faster than lower troposphere.

      This hasn’t happened. In fact the reverse has happened.
      Lower troposphere has warmed less than surface.
      And upper troposphere has warmed less than lower troposphere.

      There’s a good reason for this – much of the equatorial pacific has cooled for the last third century. It did so because of ocean transfers and atmospheric and ocean circulation changes. That doesn’t mean CO2 doesn’t cause warming.
      It does mean that natural change is large and unpredictable.

      • The hottest of the ‘hot spot’ is modeled between 30S to 30N,
        but the increase in temperature with height shows in the model from 60S to 60N:

      • Anyone who is familiar with the MSU measurements knows it never was a proxy for surface temperature.

        Thank you for saying that every time somebody has invoked RSS as proof the surface is not warming for the last 18 years. You’re a true saint.

        For instance, the other day when Sprunger was invoking .31C, RSS anomaly for May 2015, as somehow being significant, which it simply is not not, I really appreciated that you said it was never a proxy for surface temperature.

      • richardswarthout

        JCH

        Is NOAA now the only sheriff in town? HadCRUT4 has about .08C/decade over the last 60 years. Not much support for the warmists.

        Richard

  58. Edward De Bono wrote extensively some decades ago on the subject of lateral thinking, or “thinking outside of the box.” His studies of human problem solving showed emphatically that everything depends on the sequence in which information enters a person’s awareness.

    Thus, on a topic where I have no opinion, my mind is open to various perspectives. Fairly soon, however, I am likely to form a gestalt, or paradigm that makes sense of what I know, which involves discounting or dismissing facts that don’t fit. This occurs because uncertainly and ambiguity is uncomfortable, even painful if the matter is of great consequence.

    Over time, I accept any and all information that reinforces my gestalt, and become increasingly resistant to facts that challenge or contradict my paradigm. This occurs because it is even more painful to discard a gestalt that I used to organize my thinking, since I now become disoriented, unable to process new information that comes to me.

    This is background to understand how serious is the propagation of the man-made climate change notion. I went through this process regarding global warming as an adult with a background of a degree in organic chemistry, and I came out skeptical of the IPCC consensus perspective. That outcome would be less likely if I were a young student today. Once young people adopt a certain way of thinking, it becomes difficult and unlikely for them to reject it and be open to other perspectives.

  59. Pingback: Open Letter to Tom Karl of NOAA/NCEI Regarding “Hiatus Busting” Paper | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

  60. Pingback: Open Letter to Tom Karl of NOAA/NCEI Regarding “Hiatus Busting” Data | Watts Up With That?

  61. Prof Curry,

    For examples of certainty in science communication we need only look to our major climate agencies. The Karl et al paper in Science provides potentially new information because it contradicts some earlier research. NOAA’s website describes their results as definitive, and mentions none of the previous papers that came to different conclusions.

    From NOAA news: “The Recent Global Surface Warming Hiatus” (no author or date given) — ” The study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or “hiatus” in the rate of global warming in recent years.”

    Another more-often quote NOAA story is even stronger: “Science publishes new NOAA analysis: Data show no recent slowdown in global warming” — “A new study published online today in the journal Science finds that the rate of global warming during the last 15 years has been as fast as or faster than that seen during the latter half of the 20th Century. The study refutes the notion that there has been a slowdown or “hiatus” in the rate of global warming in recent years.” {Bold emphasis added}

    (The headline has mislead some to describe this as a “NOAA report”, rather than the correct description NOAA uses as “a study by NOAA scientists.”

    Both in the body quote the lead author, who strikes a more professional note (bold emphasis added):

    “Adding in the last two years of global surface temperature data and other improvements in the quality of the observed record provide evidence that contradict the notion of a hiatus in recent global warming trends,” said Thomas R. Karl, LHD, Director, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century.”

    Activists showcase words of the NOAA media liaison, and ignore the more tentative words of the study and the authors. More care by the NOAA media staff would help. It’s a common problem. Press releases by university public relations staff often exaggerate the results of studies.

  62. The problem is, “communicate” in the context of mainstream climate science, invariably means “miscommunicate” – convey fake certainty so as to fit in with the overriding political agenda of their paymasters..

  63. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #183 | Watts Up With That?

  64. Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #183 | I World New

  65. If the science is settled, then we do not need to do any more research. Therefore, we should discontinue all funding for climate research.

    I will be waiting back here for everyone to agree with me and say OK:-).

    • The climate change funding should be stopped immediately. There shouldn’t have been any funds devoted to climate change to begin with.

      There is about $2.5 billion wasted on climate change research each year. There is about $18 billion wasted on subsidies, greasing green palms, giving tax subsidies to green start-ups that are packing to move to China, hiring bureaucrats to interfere with the private sector, and other nonsense every year.

      After spending a couple of handfuls of billions on studying climate change scientists seem to think climate is changing. Anyone who has been around a while knows that, climate has been changing since the earth’s crust solidified.

      Now that we have spent billions to prove the obvious we should start doing something useful with the $20+ billion per year budgeted for climate change, or give it back to the taxpayers, and quit flushing it down the drain.