Insights from Karl Popper: how to open the deadlocked climate debate

by Larry Kummer, from the Fabius Maximus website.

Many factors have frozen the public policy debate on climate change, but none more important than the disinterest of both sides in tests that might provide better evidence — and perhaps restart the discussion. Even worse, too little thought has been given to the criteria for validating climate science theories (aka their paradigm) and the models build upon them.

This series looks at the answers to these questions given us by generations of philosophers and scientists, which we have ignored. This post shows how Popper’s insights can help us. The clock is running for actions that might break the deadlock. Eventually the weather will give us the answers, perhaps at ruinous cost.

“Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.”
— Karl Popper in Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963).

“I’m considering putting “Popper” on my list of proscribed words.”
— Steve McIntyre’s reaction at Climate Audit to mention that Popper’s work about falsification is the hallmark of science, an example of why the policy debate has gridlocked.

What test of climate models suffices for public policy action?

Climate scientists publish little about about the nature of climate science theories. What exactly is a theory or a paradigm? Must theories be falsifiable, and if so, what does that mean? Scientists have their own protocols for such matters, and so usually leave these questions to philosophers and historians or symposiums over drinks. Yet in times of crisis — when the normal process of science fails to meet our needs — the answers to these questions provide tools that can help.

A related but distinct debate concerns the public policy response to climate change, which uses the findings produced by climate scientists and other experts. Here insights about the dynamics of the scientific process and the basis for proof can guide decision-making by putting evidence and expert opinion in a larger context.

A previous post in this series (links below) described how Thomas Kuhn’s theories explain the current state of climate science. This post looks to the work of Karl Popper (1902-1994) for advice about breaking the gridlocked public policy debate about climate change.

Popper said scientific theories must be falsifiable, and that prediction was the gold standard for their validation. Less well known is his description of what makes a compelling prediction: it should be “risky” — of an outcome contrary to what we would otherwise expect. A radical new theory that predicts that the sun will rise tomorrow is falsifiable by darkness at noon — yet watching the dawn provides little evidence for it. Contrast that with the famous 1919 test of general relativity, whose prediction was contrary to that of the then-standard theory.
How does this apply to climate science?

Predictions of warming

“The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C, over the period 1880 to 2012, when multiple independently produced datasets exist. …

“It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period.”
From the Summary of Policymakers to the IPCC’s Working Group I report of AR5.

Popper’s insight raises the bar for testing the predictions of climate models. The world has warmed since the late 19th century; anthropogenic forces became dominant only after WWII. The naive prediction is that warming will continue. This requires no knowledge of greenhouse gases or theory about anthropogenic global warming.

A risky test requires a prediction that differs from “more of the same”. [JC bold] Forecasts of accelerated warming late in the 21st century qualify as “risky” but provide no evidence today. Hindcasts — matching model projections vs. past observations — provide only weak evidence for the policy debate, as past data was available to the model’s developers.

As usual in climate science, these points have been made — and ignored. For example, “Should we assess climate model predictions in light of severe tests?” by Joel Katzav (Professor of Philosophy, Eindhoven University of Technology) in EOS (of the American Geophysical Union), 11 June 2011. It’s worth reading in full; here is an excerpt. [JC note: see previous CE post]

The scientific community has placed little emphasis on providing assessments of CMP {climate model prediction} quality in light of performance at severe tests. Consider, by way of illustration, the influential approach adopted by Randall et al. in chapter 8 of their contribution to the fourth IPCC report. This chapter explains why there is confidence in climate models thus: “Confidence in models comes from their physical basis, and their skill in representing observed climate and past climate changes”.

…CMP quality is thus supposed to depend on simulation accuracy. However, simulation accuracy is not a measure of test severity. If, for example, a simulation’s agreement with data results from accommodation of the data, the agreement will not be unlikely, and therefore the data will not severely test the suitability of the model that generated the simulation for making any predictions.

…It appears, then, that a severe testing approach to assessing CMP quality would be novel. Should we, however, develop such an approach? Arguably, yes

…. First, as we have seen, a severe testing assessment of CMP quality does not count simulation successes that result from the accommodation of data in favor of CMPs. Thus, a severe testing assessment of CMP quality can help to address worries about relying on such successes, worries such as that these successes are not reliable guides to out-of-sample accuracy, and will provide important policy-relevant information as a result.

Buttons of thumbs up and down

Conclusions

The public policy debate about climate change has gridlocked in part because many consider the evidence given as insufficient to warrant massive expenditures and regulatory changes. The rebuttal has largely consisted of “trust us” and screaming “denier” at critics. Neither has produced progress; future historians will wonder why anyone expected them to do so.

This series seeks tests that both sides can accept — that might move the policy debate beyond today’s futile bickering.

The insights of Daniel Daves, Kuhn and advice by Popper offer a possible solution: test models from the past 4 Assessment Reports using observations from our past but their future. Run them with observations made after their creation, not scenarios, so they produce predictions not projections — and compare them with observations from after their creation. This will produce better evidence than we have today but still might not provide a “risky” prediction necessary to warrant massive public policy action — diverting resources from other critical challenges (e.g., preparing for return of past extreme weather events, addressing poverty, avoiding destruction of ocean ecosystems).

The criteria to prove current theories about climate change have received too little attention, mostly focusing on increasingly elaborate hindcasts (see this list of papers). Progress will come from better efforts to test the models, new insights from climate scientists, and the passage of time. But by themselves these might prove insufficient to produce timely policy action on the necessary scale. We should add to that list “developing better methods of model validation”.

JC note:  As with all guest posts, please keep your comments relevant and civil.

654 responses to “Insights from Karl Popper: how to open the deadlocked climate debate

  1. Getting past the current gridlock is a noble goal. Nils-Axel Mörner has also been trying to accomplish that.

  2. “Progress will come from better efforts to test the models, new insights from climate scientists, and the passage of time.”

    How about direct measurement of the physical process by which CO2 warms the planet?

    • Matt,

      I agree. By “new insights from climate scientists” I meant all their work product, including more and better observational data.

      • Don’t be such a craven cunctator Fabius- do your homework on the burgeoning data flow from fleets of new ocean temperature probes and constellations of new geophysical satellites !

      • Russell,

        “do your homework on the burgeoning data flow from fleets of new ocean temperature probes”

        I did that two weeks ago: “How accurate are climate scientists’ findings? Look at ocean warming.

        Take a look. You might find some info new to you.

      • Russell wrote:
        “do your homework on the burgeoning data flow…constellations of new geophysical satellites”

        Steve McIntyre wrote at CA:
        “One of the large problems in forcings is trying to locate data on actual forcings (other than CO2) on a consistent basis with forcings in the underlying model. Can you tell me where I can find the aerosol forcing used in (say) a HadGEM run and then the observed aerosols. Also data for observed forcings that are published on a timely basis, and not as part of an ex post reconciliation exercise.

        I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time scouring for forcing data. I’m familiar with the obvious dsets, but they are not satisfactory.”

        What do you have that refutes Steve’s claim? What do your constellations tell you? Where are the numbers?

      • Wrong model, Skaggs- Try CAM 5.1 & thereafter

    • I agree, the claimed CO2 effect should be tested by conducting experiments.

    • I am unclear on how you would directly test the hypothesis by which CO2 warms the planet. In the real world it acts in the presence of X other forcings some of which involve “cross effects” that is are not independent from other variables. Perhaps you could test the greenhouse effect in a cloud chamber with controlled temperature and atmosphere (including moisture) in a closed laboratory chamber. I would be surprised if it hasn’t been done already.

      • Danley,
        AGW theory states that the “CO2 pause” moves farther away from the surface as we release more CO2, followed by a bunch of suppositions about feedback. The idea that the CO2 pause is moving is absolutely measurable. It is not, however, easy. If as much effort had been put into direct observational measurement as has been put into models, we might already have validated or refuted AGW. There are lots of other ways to validate AGW theory with direct observation as well, such as changes in water vapor absorption. While Larry sees this as part of a bigger picture, I don’t. We will keep dithering about unwieldy models until we have enough direct observational evidence to robustly support or refute AGW theory.

    • How about antarctica. CO2 in the antarctic air has gone up, although a wee bit less than the global average. Temperature data is available from a few ground stations and, I believe, satellites. The air is always very cold and very dry so confounding effects of water vapor should be minimal. Has temperature there gone up in predicted proportion to CO2 increase or not?

      • DHR,

        That’s an important question! The question about the ability of models to predict regional climate is fiercely debated, with some climate scientists (e.g., Roger Pielke Sr.) saying that they display no skill at it.

        It is, however, a different question than their ability to predict average global surface atmosphere temperature.

    • How about direct measurement of the physical process by which CO2 warms the planet?

      Well, that’s been done:.
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v519/n7543/full/nature14240.html

      http://s9.postimg.org/recefss1b/CO2_Forcing_at_SPRC_Feldman_2014.png

      The result was 0.2 W/m2 for 22 PPM.over 11 years.

      Forcing has measured over an 11 year period (2000-2010). Since the 2.0 °C TSR (as I understand it) is accessed for a 20 year period the proper comparison is much close to the TSR instead of the 1.0 °C direct forcing IPCC forcing (the red line).

      Steve McIntyre wrote at CA:
      “One of the large problems in forcings is trying to locate data on actual forcings (other than CO2) on a consistent basis with forcings in the underlying model. Can you tell me where I can find the aerosol forcing used in (say) a HadGEM run and then the observed aerosols. Also data for observed forcings that are published on a timely basis, and not as part of an ex post reconciliation exercise.

      Well in theory the aerosols data for the CMIP runs should come from the RCP Midyear Radforcing file.

      But this doesn’t tell you the result of the model applying a concentration.. McIntyre’s question really depends on the model.

      It is fair to ask, if they model all these forcings, that the data on the resultant modeled forcing variation over time be available in some form on some increment of a year or less , and release the data and the actual forcing concentration parameter file on a per aerosol basis.

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  4. How timely. I’ve been having a long discussion elsewhere about this.

    My take is this. You’re spot on about the a priori.

    So what do you have to do?

    Put the models in the public domain, and they are open for all to see and run.

    Then as time goes on, the variables get updated, the model re-run, and the actual versus real measured.

    The main variables are

    1. C02.

    Actually the IPCC has been pretty good at predicting this.

    2. Land usage – small effect

    3. Solar activity – small effect

    4. Volcanic activity

    1 and 4 are the biggies.

    I’d even insist that existing models are rerun with known variables and those used to check.

    That’s the test for do the models work.

    The AGW null hypothesis is that its all natural. Now you have to be very careful of the tricks used by the alarmists on testing against this. Take sea level rises as the case.

    We know there are large natural variations in sea level rise. Over time it goes up, goes down, goes sideways.

    So what do they assume? They assume natural variation must be zero, and hence it if it rises, they must be right. What they don’t offer is any evidence for the natural rate of change of sea level.

    That’s a con.

  5. There are two debates.

    The foreground one has both sides in favor of continued prestige and funding for something called climate science. This one talks about whether models are adequate and so forth.

    The hidden debate is against both sides. It’s not a science and has no relation to science except for wearing lab coats.

    Popper doesn’t deal with prestige and funding, which both sides seem to agree on, so he may not be well applied to the problem, which is the stability of the field itself pushing out science entirely.

    Look for curiosity anywhere in climate science, on either side.

    • My thanks to Professor Curry for posting this. It is a chapter in a series seeking to understand why the public policy debate has deadlocked — and ways to restart it.

      Thomas Kuhn tells us what we need to know about climate science.
      How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.
      Climate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
      Daniel Davies’ insights about predictions can unlock the climate change debate.
      Karl Popper gives us valuable advice about climate science.
      Coming: Gavin Schmidt and Steven Sherword explain the policy gridlock.
      Coming: Why the policy debate is deadlocked. How we can restart it.

      • Michael,

        “Surely the big validation experiment has been done”

        You are probably the 50th person here to declare that no tests are needed because your beliefs are correct. While nice, even better would be tests to see if the people who just as confidently disagree with you — who happen to represent major science institutions — are correct.

        That would be especially nice to learn since the cost would be very high of believing you if they are correct.

      • By Ops Maximus and the Muses , Fabius ! Do you really believe the paradigms of radiative forcing and the second law of thermodynamics have been challenged by anything Curry or Pielke has written ?

      • Russell,

        “Do you really believe the paradigms of radiative forcing and the second law of thermodynamics have been challenged…?”

        That’s quite the non sequitur. It would help readers if you reply to with a quote so we know what you are talking about.

      • Fabius, the pardigmatic basis of AGW is that

        1.Human alteration of the atmosphere is altering its internal radiative equilibrium and that of the Earth’s surface including the hydrosphere.

        2. Changes in radiative equilibrium drive changes in temperature until the system returns to thermodynamic equilibrium.

        This is what the Oceanographer of the Navy has called state of the art 19th century physics. As all attempts to falsify thermodynamics experimentally have thus far failed , and no relativistic or quantum effects are involved, the idea of the AGW paradigm being overthrown by the mere force of the climate contrarians collective incredulity does not in my judgement come under the heading of philosophy of science.

        Beside which , I have always thought Kuhn very weak on the role of instruments and instrumentalities as non-social limiting factors in the emergence of new paradigms.

      • “the idea of the AGW paradigm being overthrown by the mere force of the climate contrarians collective incredulity does not in my judgement come under the heading of philosophy of science.”

        It’s not just incredulity–it’s about data, such as the absence of the hot spot, which is or ought to be an embarrassment to “19th century physics.”

        The argument isn’t about AGW, which most contrarians, including Judy, accept to some degree; it’s about CAGW and the much more speculative positive feedbacks it demands.

      • Roger,

        People throw around words like “paradigm” with little understanding of their context, as in the quote you responded to.

        Kuhn has a specific meaning for “paradigm” and vision of how it works. Of relevance here is that a paradigm cannot be disproven, it can only be replaced. That is, the normal functioning of science requires a paradigm, like (to use a crude analogy) a computer needs an operating system.

        There are usually anomalies, findings that don’t fit the paradigm or even contradict it. But it continues to reign until a contender appears.

        There does not appear to be a contender to replace the current paradigm in climate science, of which the models are the exemplar. These arrive in their own time, not when wanted or even needed.

      • Having correctly observed that :
        “People throw around words like “paradigm” with little understanding of their context,”
        Fabius goes on to make that observation self referential:

        “There does not appear to be a contender to replace the current paradigm in climate science, of which the models are the exemplar..”

        No they are not- Kuhn is writing about physical theories, and models are not things: they are mathematical representations of the interaction of theoretical descriptions of real objects or physical systems.

        If Fabuius wants to undertand Kuhn , he needs to brush up on the half century of science since The Structure of Scientific Revoltions was published, – the book itself has almost nothing to say about models because of the primative state of computer science when it was written.
        I’d suggest starting with Saul Kripke’s ‘Words and Things’ to sort out the semantics – and understand the difference between physics and metaphysics in subsequent discussions of what models are and are not.

    • When companies have scandals this big they usually bring in PR consultants who tell them they need to rebrand.

      “Climate science” is now a toxic brand – it means deceit, corruption, denial of the scientific method, sloppiness, supporting poor quality data purely for political reasons. It means buddy review, “snouts in the trough” as some academics massively enrich themselves.

      I strongly doubt when the full scandal has emerged whether anyone would willingly be called a climate scientist again.

      • Scottish Sceptic,

        I disagree on all points. Time will tell which of us is correct.

        Science is a social process, and in the short-term runs with the imperfections of all such. Histories of science, such as the popular books by Stephen Jay Gould, describe past debates in science that are quite similar to those of climate science today.

        Science is different than most social processes because of its self-correcting nature. But that often takes years or decades for effect. The challenge for climate policy is to get faster results, so that we can attempt to avoid possible bad (or horrific) outcomes.

      • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website said:

        Science is different than most social processes because of its self-correcting nature.

        Hum.

        I’m not so sure about that. I believe science, and scientists, must be held accountable to the broader community and society.

        In his critique of W.E.B. Du Bois’ philosophy in Race Matters, Cornel West notes that there is “no emphatic call for accountability from below, nor any grappling with the evil that lurks in the hearts of all of us” in Du Bois’ “enlightenment worldview.” Du Bois’ “talented tenth” — the “self-appointed agents of Enlightenment” who “constitute a sacrificial cultural elite engaged in service on behalf of the impulsive and irrational masses” — does not exist, and never will.

        I would say that, to date, science’s greatest failures have been in

        1) Economics, and
        2) Evolutionary biology

        Just imagine, for instance, if the United States had followed Germany in the 1930s in accepting what was then the scientific consensus regarding evolutionary biology:

        German science and black racism—roots of the Nazi
        Holocaust
        http://www.fasebj.org/content/22/2/332.full.pdf+html

        Mark me up with the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson:

        I have an unromantic view of science and scientists. I regard science as a roll-up-your-sleeves activity, like gardening or construction work. I regard scientists as just like other folks. No one can be trusted on the basis of their job title — not scientists, politicians, priests, or self-righteous intellectuals….

        Science is largely a way to ensure accountability for factual claims….

        Science, religion, and politics all face the same problem. Some individuals are driven to benefit themselves at the expense of others or their society as a whole. At a larger scale, some groups are driven to collectively benefit themselves at the expense of other groups. In science this problem takes the form of self-serving claims. I say that something is true, not because it is true but because it serves my interests,,,,

        To make matters worse, our hidden agendas need not be conscious. It’s not as if we see the world clearly and then willfully distort it to serve our purposes. The world we see clearly has already been distorted by unconscious mental processes….

        — DAVID SLOAN WILSON, Evolution for Everyone

      • Glenn,

        “I believe science, and scientists, must be held accountable to the broader community and society.”

        That is what I am proposing on this issue by proposing that Congress fund two programs to test the major climate models.

      • Michael Spurrier

        Surely the big validation experiment has been done on the basic AGW/Climate Change Theory/Models – CO2 has continued to rise temperature hasn’t followed so the theory that CO2 emissions are going to drive warmth and climate catastrophy is proved false…….

      • Michael,

        “Surely the big validation experiment has been done”

        You are probably the 50th person here to declare that no tests are needed because your beliefs are correct. While nice, even better would be tests to see if the people who just as confidently disagree with you — who happen to represent major science institutions — are correct.

        That would be especially nice to learn since the cost would be very high of believing you if they are correct.

      • Greg Cavanagh

        “The challenge for climate policy is to get faster results”.

        I believe the challenge is to forcibly apply a minimum standard to science reporting. An ISO standard would be a good start.

      • Greg,

        “forcibly apply a minimum standard to science reporting. An ISO standard would be a good start.”

        That’s the out-of-the-box creative thinking we need more of! Any ideas how to do this?

        Andrew Rivkin of the NYT would be a good person to ask for ideas about this.

      • Greg Cavanagh

        Thanks Editor.
        I think we need to look for examples that are currently working.

        Engineering and accountability for one’s work comes to mind. A licenced engineer that signs the plans for a structure is accountable for the performance of that structure. He does take out insurance, mistakes do happen.

        In the case of Science, licencing probably wouldn’t work. But a compliance statement with the scientific report would alert the reader to what standard the investigation was done to.

        I’m not familiar enough with what is in the ISO standards. I’m thinking along the lines of “This report is compliant with ISO standards xxxx, yyyy, and zzzz”. This tell the reader of the report exactly what the accuracy is within the report.

        The magazines only need to add the above compliance statement to an article. No other burden need be imposed on their behalf. The peer reviewer would need to confirm that it does conform to the stated standard.

      • Greg,

        Creative thoughts all, quite unlike most of what’s on this thread.

        My suggestions focus on directing the research, drawing upon lessons from FDA regs on drug development approvals, and directing research funding on critical questions such as model validation.

      • “Science is different than most social processes because of its self-correcting nature. But that often takes years or decades for effect.”

        But we only know of the errors that have been corrected. It’s not logically valid to conclude or insinuate that therefore all, or even most, errors get corrected. We don’t know, and we may never know, and they may be a large number. (As recent exposés have indicated.)

      • Roger,

        “But we only know of the errors that have been corrected.”

        That’s a powerful observation, one that I’ve never seen before. It deserves some thought, especially with the studies in recent years showing a low replication rate in fields from biology to psychology.

        I vote for that as Best of Thread!

      • Fabius
        Science is different than most social processes because of its self-correcting nature

        But does what climate “scientists” are doing qualify as being science? Does it follow the scientific method (or are you just swallowing whole the “scientist” in the job titles ) ?
        If not, such “science” will never self-correct. Especially if its only paymaster doesn’t want it to.

      • Creative thoughts all, quite unlike most of what’s on this thread.
        ================================
        the “Editor of the Fabius Maximus website” wrote most of the comments on the thread.

      • Ferdberple,

        “the Editor of the Fabius Maximus website wrote most of the comments on the thread.”

        Not even close. I wrote 108 of the 645 comments on this thread.

    • “It’s not a science and has no relation to science except for wearing lab coats.”

      A lab coat is the emperor’s new clothing.

  6. I figured out, not long ago, in a sudden realization, why low pressure has bad weather and high pressure has nice weather. I wonder why I’ve never seen the simple explanation anywhere.

    Perhaps it’s wrong, or perhaps I read the wrong stuff. I wonder if it relates to science at all, in the Popper sense.

    No funding was involved so far. Should I begin hyping bad weather?

    • What’s your theory? Low pressure sucks, while high pressure blows?

      • I’m glad you asked.

        A pilot knows that aloft the wind blows from 45 dgrees further from the right than it does on the ground. (N hemisphere)

        Why is this, I recently asked myself. Well because the wind is slowed near the ground and no longer circles its low or high in perfect balance. Instead, it heads somewhat away from its high, or towards its low, these being the same thing actually.

        What does that mean? It means that lows fill in from below, and highs lose air from the bottom. So the air in lows rises, and the air in highs sinks.

        This gives rise to clouds and clear, respectively, for lows and highs.

      • Thanks for that rhhardin, that’s an elegant explanation of the source of unstable air.
        Mare’s tails and mackerel scales
        Make tall ships carry low sails.

  7. David Springer

    Back in the early 1980’s when the IBM Personal Computer first came out with its open architecture was there was a rush to “clone” it. But the firmware (ROM BIOS) couldn’t just be copied because it was copyrighted and the source code was public in the IBM PC Technical reference manual. What transpired was the so-called “clean room”. Phoenix Int’l tried to recruit me but since I couldn’t swear I’d never seen IBM’s source code (I bought an original IBM PC the same year it was first made) and had an already dog-eared technical reference. So I had to say no. But they found others who swore they’d never seen it. The clean teams were given only specifications (input/output) for the firmware and then directed to write and test it to that specification.

    Something similar could and should be done with climate model software where the coders can’t have access to historical climate observations. They can have history of forcings such as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, TSI, aerosols, volcanic eruptions, etc. but no temperatures or temperature proxies since that is what the model must blindly produce. If they can produce something that can then back cast with a reasonable measure of accuracy that would convince me of the model’s efficacy.

    I think the problem is that everyone in the global warming science industry is virtually certain any attempt to produce a model in this way will fail.

  8. David Springer

    Back in the early 1980’s when the IBM Personal Computer first came out with its open architecture was there was a rush to “clone” it. But the firmware (ROM BIOS) couldn’t just be copied because it was copyrighted and the source code was public in the IBM PC Technical reference manual. What transpired was the so-called “clean room”. Phoenix Int’l tried to recruit me but since I couldn’t swear I’d never seen IBM’s source code (I bought an original IBM PC the same year it was first made) and had an already dog-eared technical reference. So I had to say no. But they found others who swore they’d never seen it. The clean teams were given only specifications (input/output) for the firmware and then directed to write and test it to that specification.

    Something similar could and should be done with climate model software where the coders can’t have access to historical climate observations. They can have history of forcings such as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, TSI, aerosols, volcanic eruptions, etc. but no temperatures or temperature proxies since that is what the model must blindly produce. Forcing history is the input. Surface temperature is the output. If they can produce something that can then back cast with a reasonable measure of accuracy that would convince me of the model’s efficacy.

    I think the problem is that everyone in the global warming science industry is virtually certain any attempt to produce a model in this way will fail.

    • David,

      While such a project might be considered useful by climate scientists, I doubt it would produce sufficient support by the public and political decision-makers to justify multi-trillion dollar decisions. The past 50 years has taught us to rely on firmer grounds than faith in methodologically unverifiable processes.

      There are alternatives, such as…
      (1) Build new models and testing their predictions (running on past observations instead of scenarios) vs. out-of-sample tests.
      (2) Bring in a multi-disciplinary team of outside (non-afffiliated) experts for a “forensic” analysis of a model (including its assumptions and the parameterization process).
      (3) Run models used in the past 4 Assessment Reports with updated observations (i.e., hindcasts using out-of-sample data: after their design), comparing these predictions vs. actual global temperatures.

      These measures can provide a stronger evidentiary basis than we have today (especially in combination), but none can give extremely strong evidence. The strongest is, imo, the third. But Popper’s insight shows that predicting a continuation of the post-1880 warming is not a “risky” test, since it is also the naive prediction made without knowledge of GHG or AGW theory.

      The cold reality is, I fear, that we’ll do none of these things, since both sides in the policy debate are having too much fun to bother.

      • David Springer

        What experience with software development, particularly test and validation, do you have, Fabius?

        Mine’s rather extensive at a high-tech Fortune 50 company.

      • David Springer

        What experience with software development, particularly test and validation, do you have, Fabius?

        Mine is rather extensive at a high-tech Fortune 50 company in multi-billion dollar product lines.

      • David,

        For four years I was a VP running e-services for a global investment bank, including a major role in software development. Among other things, we rolled out the second expert system doing autonomous financial planning. I had similar roles as a consultant for the industry during the next ten years, including working on development and testing of algorithmic risk control and trading systems.

        Validation was a major concern in these, since the financial stakes were quite large.

        It is not my field of expertise, but I gained some familiarity with the field while working with some world-class experts.

        None of this is remotely relevant to the general level recommendations I have made. Nice try, though.

      • David,

        Reason and logic are available to everyone.

        This silly appeal to authority is evidence that you’re played out on more serious grounds. Though that was obvious from your comments.

        Nice try, though.

      • Don, Give the Editor a break. He is making a useful and interesting point in this post.

      • David Springer

        I’d tell YOU it was a nice try, but it wasn’t. You’re way out of your depth here, Kummer.

      • David Springer

        Editor of the Fabius Maximus website | January 28, 2016 at 11:30 pm |

        For four years I was a VP running e-services for a global investment bank, including a major role in software development. Among other things, we rolled out the second expert system doing autonomous financial planning. I had similar roles as a consultant for the industry during the next ten years, including working on development and testing of algorithmic risk control and trading systems.

        Validation was a major concern in these, since the financial stakes were quite large.

        Wonderful. Got a link to some happy customers extolling the virtues of this software system you played a “major role” in developing? Your CV on LinkedIn fails to mention it.

        I’m not making an appeal to authority. I’m pointing out your almost total and self-evident lack of expertise in (again) Philosophy of Science, modeling of physical systems, and software validation. An automated questionnaire asking financial questions and offering financial plans based upon the answers hardly seems relevant to a software model dealing with non-linear systems and physics so complex no practical supercomputer has the horsepower to run it without gross parameterizations of things like convective cells and albedo just to mention two of the hardest challenges.

      • Steven Mosher

        Editor I have to agree with David.
        Consider this.
        Appealing to popper gets your proposal negative points.
        You don’t understand him.
        You don’t need popper to make the argument

        Here is a clue.

        Make your own argument. Never cite a philosophy or Philosopher in making your argument. Never say
        ” as Plato said” or shit like that. Never do this.
        Just make your argument. If you want to use an argument from popper then you need to understand and make the argument in your own words. Don’t worry we won’t accuse you of plagiarism.
        People cite philosophy all the time… Thinking it makes them look erudite. Sorry never works on the Internet because someone else on the thread actually knows the shit better than you do.

      • I don’t see it as useful or interesting, dpy. The practical value of this post is about zero. Which matches the chances that it will have any effect on any opening of the debate. Ed is a smart and decent guy. I am basically on is side. I hate to see him wasting his time and embarrassing himself.. Just keeping it real.

      • The particular value of this post, and why I posted it, is related to ‘risky predictions’:

        “Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.”

        This is very important way to frame the attribution debate. Focusing only on the period post 1950 doesn’t help in this regard; you need to demonstrate that the rate of warming is unusual (relative to early 20th century, and similarly long periods in the 19th century, and ideally over the last millennium).

      • Was that why you deleted one of my comments? It seems relevant to me: predictions that costs and volumes of technology experience exponential growth in general would appear to me to be “risky” compared to what seems to be the accepted linear growth models.

        It’s also relevant to policy, of course. Which depends primarily on perceptions.

      • a very long post that is off topic

      • Dr. Curry: Your point is well and good if you were talking about some obscure, quiet branch of the natural sciences that has no ramifications for the biosphere as a whole. Climate change is beyond science out of necessity. It is essentially an engineering and political problem now. Those details that concern you are extremely uncertain and very likely unknowable. They are also irrelevant to fixing pollution problems. What we do know is that using the biosphere for out toilet given the advance technology and population growth is not likely sustainable. The question now is how to prioritize and ramp up the solutions.

        In my very humble and always correct opinion, we should tackle traditional air and water pollution first because all of that technology already exists. This will buy time to allow the engineers and inventors of the world figure out economical decarbonization. In any event, any and all of these pollution control actions require governmental pressure via the carrot and stick.

      • AK, stick to three tight paragraphs and one to two links. Better for everyone.

      • My equine fancying friend, Mr. Graben, gets it from the practical angle. Thank you, hg.

    • Wasn’t something like this proposal begun by “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” by Monckton, Soon, Legates, and Briggs?
      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11434-014-0699-2

    • “I think the problem is that everyone in the global warming science industry is virtually certain any attempt to produce a model in this way will fail.”

      The IPCC certainly is.

      “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

      IPCC Working Group I: The Scientific Basis, Third Assessment Report (TAR), Chapter 14 (final para., 14.2.2.2), p774.

    • What we do know is that using the biosphere for out toilet given the advance technology and population growth is not likely sustainable.
      ====================
      yet every plant and animal species on the planet uses the biosphere as a toilet. and if they didn’t none of us would be here today.

  9. I really don’t think the science is the issue anymore. Consensus is forming that there is some anthro global warming, but obviously less than predicted. JCH and JimD will be along shortly to vigorously argue that the current warming isn’t “much, much less” than predicted, it’s only “much less”.
    The lack of consensus is on what to do about it- a topic to which remarkably little time is spent. This is about the only blog that takes renewables claims seriously enough to review them and think about them.
    A small and shrinking number of people think it can be addressed in any meaningful way with windmills and tax hikes. Mostly because Europe already proved that point. IMO the world is just waiting for the warm advocates to accept nuclear power. They have no urgency on the issue, so neither does anyone else.

    • Yup.

      There is no evidence to this point that the CO2 or warming has been anything but net beneficial.

      It appears that even the Chinese nuclear (which will happen if warmers want it or not) and third world nuclear (which will come from China whether warmers like it or not) is sufficient to blunt any “global warming” threat.

      Further, competent parties, not assisted by Greenpeace and the WWF, need to rewrite a realistic BAU RCP. Greenpeace and the World Wrestling Federation know nothing about climate. The fact that the IPCC works with Greenpeace and the WWF and refers to WWF literature makes their effort a sham.

      Take RCP4.5 CO2 486 PPM in 2050 and 538 PPM in 2100, based on emissions of 11 GT in 2050 and 4.2 GT in 2100. With an increase of 3.5 PPM/Y in 2050 and 0.5 PPM in 2100.

      Those numbers are delusional. In 2014 according to CDIAC the CO2 increase was 3.88 GT (1.82 PPM) from emissions of 9.8 GT. 7.0 GT was absorbed by the environment. There was about 1.08 GT of equatorial people burning down the planet.

      In 2050 there will be about 0 GT of equatorial people burning down the planet. The absorption will be much higher at 483 PPM, around 10.2 GT/Y based on past trends. 11-10.2 = 0.8 GT (0.38 PPM/Y). The rise in CO2 is overestimated by a factor of 10.

      Even using the 2014 7 GT of absorption the result is 11-7 = 4 GT or 1.88 PPM/Y. That is 1/2 of the IPCC “estimate”.

      We won’t discuss 2100 because that is just fantasy, the only question is, at 4 GT per year of emission, how fast the CO2 level will be falling?

      The RCPs provide a useful test of the global warming claims. RCP 4.5 features about 10% less annual emissions in 2020 then our current track (and declining future emissions) but a 411.13 PPM midyear CO2 level and a 2.25 PPM/Y annual increase. RCP8.5 (the likely emissions path closest to expected values) has a 415.78 PPM CO2 level and about a 2.96 PPM annual increase. If the IPCC is correct the CO2 rise will ramp up sharply. If they are wrong the CO2 rise will be 2.2 PPM/Y in 2020 or less.

      If the 2019-2021 average increase is around 2.2 PPM/y or less we can forget the IPCC RCPs since they have no basis in reality.

  10. In my decade of experience engaging on this issue the one thing that climate academics steadfastly refuse to discuss is the validation of their models against hard data.

    And it is only because a few sceptics like me and Lord Monckton have gone out of our way to highlight the few testable assertions that these squirmers have been pinned down.

    But even then – when e.g. the models fail to warm as predicted – the response is to not admit that means the models are scientifically invalid as is required by the scientific method – instead the response has been to produce a barrage of excuses and torrent of ad hominem trying to shout us down as “deniers” of their models.

    In short, the academic community have shown not the slightest interest in having their models validated and have ruthlessly attacked any who compared what was actually happening to what the models said would happen.

    So, there is only one party who is responsible for the “deadlock” – and it is those academics who continue to deny the scientific method and the requirement for models to be validated.

    • Scottish,

      That has been my experience as well. In this post I discuss this bavior, speculate about the reasons for it, and examine the horrific consequences.

      • interesting post
        making logical points about what science is and isn’t
        but it only speaks to those who care about science
        IMO climate science has been taken over by a clique of activists
        (we can all name them)
        they use science as ruse to promote their cause
        the reason is easy
        born with the atomic age
        a quasi-religious belief than mankind is the first and only “unnatural”
        this is the modern secular replacement for original sin

        people who cared about science and logic wouldn’t produce absurd agitprop like 600 to 130,000 likely that the warmest whatever …

        Scottish Sceptic puts it well
        the difference between science and activism

    • Scottish Sceptic,

      Well said.

      The tendency seems to be to take a scintilla of knowledge, and then from that tiny foundation build massive speculative edifices.

      After these edifices have been constructed, they are then defended by the most Orwellian of means, as if, with a sufficient flexing of the human will, the past, the present, and the future can all be made to fit our whims.

      Unfortunately, the phenomonen hardly seems to be unique to climate science. Hannah Arendt warned of the problem in The Life of the Mind:

      [I]t is true that without Kant’s unshackling of speculative thought the rise of German idealism and its metaphysical systems would hardly have been possible. But the new brand of philosophers — Fichte, Schelling, Hegel — would scarcely have pleased Kant. LIberated by Kant from the old school dogmatism and its sterile exercises, encouraged by him to indulge in speculative thinking, they actually took their cue from Descartes, went hunting for certainty, blurred once again the distinguishing line between thought and knowledge, and believed in all earnest that the results of their speculations possessed the same kind of validity as the results of cognitive processes.

  11. This sort of makes sense. I wonder if there is a way to cast this as a statement of probability or information theory.
    After all, a successful test with no risk provides no information.
    A successful test of something deemed unlikely, however, contains some measure of information.
    The more I study philosophy and read about Popper, the more I think I like this guy; he seems to fall into all my favourite intellectual ‘bins’!

  12. Larry

    The post seems to miss a basic premise. The basic premise is that a slightly warmer world will result in significant net negative changes in the overall climate. The evidence to support that premise is VERY weak.

    How do you determine whether the “climate” has changed negatively or positively over time at any particular location much less the planet overall? As the climate changes some places will benefit while others will be impacted negatively.

    I challenge anyone to show even reasonably reliable information to support their conclusion that a slightly warmer climate will result in net negative changes.

    • slightly warmer world will result in significant net negative changes in the overall climate.
      ================
      the IPCC says that the net effect will be positive until 1.7C of warming. These accumulated benefits will exceed the accumulated costs until 2150 under the 2nd worst scenario. So, for the next 130+ years global warming will be a benefit. By then we will likely have solved the problem.

  13. What is the point of attempting to validate models that we know to be incomplete and therefore incorrect. There is no way, in their current state, that they can ever give results that are reliably close enough to reality to form a basis for public policy. And even where models are induced to provide accurate hindcasts this does not mean that they are correct for the right reasons. In fact in their current state if they do give right answers it must be for wrong reasons. When, if ever, climate is understood well enough to be fully described in complete sets of equations that can be solved by computer program climate models may provide a basis for policy. Until then they will remain research tools. Those who know something about computing will understand this.

    And let’s lay one thing to rest can we? If you call predictions “scenarios” it doesn’t make them stop being predictions.

  14. It’s not only “severe tests” for prediction that Popper’s insight should be referenced in the CAGW debate, but the very simple belief that CAGW leaves no room for disproving it as “fact”. When all potential outcomes are equally likely, per the UN IPCC AR4 and climate scientists, how can any actual observations of weather be used to discredit the theory? More rain, less rain, more snow, less snow, more storms, less storms, etc. is the moral equivalent of “you play by my rules, which will continue to change to suit my whims and are all to my benefit, and if you don’t, I’ll take my ball and glove home.”

    And, if anthropogenic forcings account for only half the increase seen since 1951, what other forcings have occurred to account for the increase?

    • David Springer

      The modern solar maximum is the forcing I’d take a closer look at. Sunspot number is a proxy for solar magnetic field strength. Solar power spectrum also changes with sunspot activity. A point I make regularly is not all wavelengths are equal. An increase in UVB with a corresponding decrease in Near IR, for instance, isn’t equivalent. Solar power spectrum changes are large with 10% shifts in amount of energy in different bands. Near IR is absorbed by water vapor in the troposphere, for instance, while UVB is absorbed by ozone in the stratosphere. Where the energy is absorbed in the layered atmosphere makes a big difference.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/28/Sunspot_Numbers.png/500px-Sunspot_Numbers.png

    • One point about climate models I’ve rarely heard others make is- if we do recognized the mechanisms/processes that occur in the climate we would only need one model. The real question for climate modelers is not “has it been validated”, but “why is your model different from 92 other models and none of them agree with yours?”

      The real background reason is that climate as a problem was conceived, promoted, and implemented as a political agenda- what can we promote as a really good scare(apol, to H.L. Mencken) that can be controlled through the UN to promote other political changes some “we” need to get political power.

      Simply read the documents of the first Rio conference, the UNFCCC, the IPCC, and every AR starting with AR2. AR1 was actually pretty good scientifically.

      • I attribute that to Howard Hayden whose full of ’em . I quoted him in this slide : http://cosy.com/Science/AGWppt_UtterStagnation.jpg .

      • Re: Insights from Karl Popper, 1/28/2016. Phil Cartier, 2/2/16 @ 9:36 pm wrote

        One point about climate models I’ve rarely heard others make is — if we do recognized the mechanisms/processes that occur in the climate we would only need one model. The real question for climate modelers is not “has it been validated”, but “why is your model different from 92 other models and none of them agree with yours?”

        One model for the atom? For the solar system? For mechanics? The notion of one model is alien to science. It is “the science is settled” argument of the Groundhogs, IPCC and its friends.

        Modern Science does not require models be faithful to the real world. The sole criterion for its models is the validation of their predictive power. However, when the IPCC model for climate failed either to match either the data, e.g., the Vostok record, or to predict its own ECS parameter (the hiatus), it was open to scientific criticism for its omissions of real world climate phenomena: e.g., no part of climate is ever in thermodynamic equilibrium; cloud cover is dynamic, comprising the largest feedbacks in climate, positive with respect to the Sun and negative with respect to warming from any cause; the claimed human fingerprints on climate are the result of chart junk modeling; atmospheric CO2 is regulated by surface ocean temperature (Henry’s Law of Solubility), in which man’s CO2 emissions are unmeasurable.

        IPCC forces its models into agreement with nine different formal programs called Model Intercomparison Projects (MIP) (e.g., CMIP, C4MIP, AMIP), then claims accuracy in the modeling by virtue of the agreement. Consensus, which is no part of real science, is achieved by force.

      • There’s more than one model for the solar system ?
        There’s Newton as emended by Einstein . What else ?

        Atoms , ie , quantum mechanics ?
        QM produces calculations matching experiments to amazingly many decimal places . What’s your alternative ?

        In a discussion conducive to pedantry , I think your dismissal of a single model being an attribute of real settled science is over the top . When we launch satellites , they go where the models predict they will . They don’t spray themselves all over the place .

        “Climate Science” is a mess because no one even rigorously works out its classical quantitative physical foundations . It is a rare “climate scientist” who knows how to calculate the equilibrium temperature of a radiantly heated colored ball . ( I don’t even know where to find that computation other than my own derivation . That’s pathetic .) Certainly none connect that testable computation with the 2nd year calculus Divergence Theorem to assert with quantitative certainty that James Hansen should have been laughed down the hall for claiming that the surface temperature of Venus was explained by some “runaway” optical effect .

        In a real sense “climate science” has no model because unlike any successful branch of applied physics it does not start with rigorous mathematical understanding of the foundational “model” , Newton + Maxwell + Einstein … . Actually you don’t even need to get to Einstein . But it’s ONE model . And it ain’t easy . I made the point in this slide , http://cosy.com/Science/AGWppt_RealScience.jpg , that simply in electrodynamics — which subsumes optics and any “greenhouse effect” , more than have the text deals with statics . Let me understand a successful , experimentally testable , model quantitatively explaining planetary temperature statics , before I even have any interest in letting the molecules move .

        The greatest , because of the breadth of his interests , of a number of excellent mentors and professors I worked with was Donald T Campbell who was a friend of Popper . I never went deeper into Popper than to find his demand for falsifiability very sensible . Campbell took Popper’s views and went further with a very Darwinian approach to knowledge . Rather like Feynman’s “First you guess” . Blind variation and selective retention of that which fails to get falsified .

  15. Well, there are many different theories contained within.
    There is the theory that increased CO2 leads to global warming.
    There is the theory that increased CO2 leads to climate change
    There is the theory that increased global warming -> climate change
    There is the theory that global warming is accelerating.
    There is the theory that the impacts of any of the above are negative.
    There is the theory that the negative impacts are worse than the expense.

    Warming appears to be continuing.

    Climate change, warming acceleration, nor negative impacts appear to have observational basis.

  16. In a practical sense, this proposal is not workable. The models are controlled by warmunists. They necessarily run on multimillionmdollar government supercomputers. The game is rigged. And not one ofmthe modelers has anynincentive to show their model wrong.

    In a different very real sense, something analogous has already been done, and has not helped the debate forward (because the science does not matter in what is mostly a political/ religious posture where the science is settled). The CMIP3 and CMIP5 archive contain what the climate models said at the time about the climate future, some of which is now the past. Christy’s Data or Dogma hearing chart (or equivalents) is the result. Model failure shown by the pause.

    Originally, the warmunist defense against the pause ‘falsifying’ climate models was its duration. Climategate emails bake clear warmunists knew about the pause then. In 2009, it would need to be over 15 years (BAMS) In 2011, the goalpost was moved to 17 years (Santer paper). A 2015 effort to move it beyond 18 years failed rather spectacularly thanks to Nic Lewis. And the pause is now almost 19 years.

    So the warmunist rebuttal shifted in two near simultaneous directions. First, karlize the surface data to remove the pause. That has led to a congressional investigation and NOAA committing contempt of congrss by ignoring a lawful congressional subpoena. It also shows why the posts well intentioned hoped for dialog progress is mostly a chimera. Second, a concerted effort to discredit all three sat records and well as the confirmatory radiosonde datasets. Adm. Titley at Data or Dogma is an example. Karl Mears disavowing his own RSS because it no longer giver the resilt he wants is another.

    The sweet voice of reason, and science as properly practiced and described by Kuhn and Popper, are unfortunately largely irrelevant to warmunists. Christina Figueroa of UNFCCC has made that abundently clear. The gridlock will continue until Mother Nature has spoken loudly enough, or until the warmunist solution (decarbonize with renewables) has failed spectacularly enough (e.g. UK winter blackout with associated deaths). There is simply too much reputation riding (think Karl and Schmidt and Mann), climate research money grubbing ($2.4 billion in 2013 in US alone), and renewable subsidy mining for more moderated outcomes.

    IMO the arena is political and the most effective weapons are irrefutable simple sound bites. Temperatures are not rising (unless karlized) (sats, sondes, USCRN,…). Sea level rise is not accelerating. Arctic ice is recovering while Antarctic ice sets records. Weather extremes are not increasing. Polar bears do not depend on summer ice, and are thriving. Snow is most definitely not a thing of the past. Rising CO2 levels have greened the planet (NDVI, Sahel). Carbon sinks are not saturating (coccolithophores).

    • ristvan,

      “In a practical sense, this proposal is not workable. The models are controlled by warmunists”

      We can only guess about such things. However, I disagree. Congress could order — and fund — a program to validate the major climate models by the two methods I suggest — and independent review by a multi-disciplinary team of experts AND reviewing predictions of the models used in the past 3 or 4 ARs when run with updated observations.

      If framed properly — a step to resolve the debate about a potentially existential threat — it would be difficult for the President to veto.

      • nickels said:

        Yes, exactly. Warming is a belief system, a part of the socialist/anti-capitalist creed.

        I agree, but in the chiliastic battle between right and left, I think it’s important to realize that the right engages in the same sort of magical thinking that the left does.

        Here’s how John Gray explains it in Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern:

        From the eighteenth century onwards, it came to be believed that the growth of scientific knowledge and the emancipation of mankind marched hand in hand. This Enlightenment faith — for it soon acquired the trappings of religion — was most clearly expressed in an exotic, sometimes grotesque but vastly and enduringly influential early nineteenth-century intellectual movement that called itself Positivism.

        The Positivists believed that as societies came to be based on science they were bound to become more alike. Scientific knowledge would engender a universal morality in which the aim of society was as much production as possible. Through the use of technology, humanity would extend its power over the Earth’s resources and overcome the worst forms of natural scarcity. Poverty and war could be abolished. Through the power given it by science, humanity would be able to create a new world.

        There has always been disagreement about the nature of this new world. For Marx and Lenin, it would be a classless egalitarian anarchy, for Fukuyama and the neo-liberals a universal free market. These views of a future founded on science are very different; but that has in no way weakened the hold of the faith they express.

        Through their deep influence on Marx, Positivist ideas inspired the disastrous Soviet experiment in central economic planning. When the Soviet system collapsed, they re-emerged in the cult of the free market. It came to be believed that only American-style ‘democratic capitalism’ is truly modern, and that it is destined to spread everywhere. As it does, a universal civilisation will come into being, and history will come to an end.

      • Steven Mosher

        People who think that there will be an economic disaster from the imposition of climate policy could easily fund the project.
        Put Rud in charge. Save the economy!
        Of course even if you gave skeptics free reign to run a gcm to test it, they never would. If the model passed the test ALL Skeptics would continue to question the science.

        Look. The Koch brothers funded a look at temperature data conducted by one of Mann’s most vocal critics. Judith herself was on the project. Can you find single skeptic who accepts it.

        Basically skeptics position is unfalsifiable

      • Steven,

        You think the skeptics are unreasonable. The skeptics think your side is unreasonable. IMO both sides have strong supporting evidence, but it’s not a debate in which I have any interest.

        As we see here in miniature, the policy debate has reduced to people confidently screaming “I’M RIGHT”. Sensible people slowly back out of the room.

        I recommend an intervention. The public is paying for much (most?) of the research on this vital public policy issue. People should demand that Congress fund tests (I suggest two specifics) run by a multi-disciplinary team of independent experts.

      • A sensible suggestion, Ed: “Congress could order — and fund — a program to validate the major climate models by the two methods I suggest — and independent review by a multi-disciplinary team of experts AND reviewing predictions of the models used in the past 3 or 4 ARs when run with updated observations.

        If framed properly — a step to resolve the debate about a potentially existential threat — it would be difficult for the President to veto.”

        However, Obama would lose nothing by vetoing it. Why spend money on a denier plot to unsettle the science, when Biden could use the dough to find a cure for cancer/ He then just hopes that hilly&billy win and carry on with his legacy of foolishness.

        We need to spend a few billion dollars on a climate science do-over. Wait till next year.

      • Don,

        “Obama would lose nothing by vetoing it.”

        One constant — the equivalent of c or G in the climate wars — is that when given a path that might lead to a fair test, people on both sides will craft confident scenarios about the future to show why we shouldn’t try.

        Both sides in the climate wars are brothers.

      • Great quote, Glenn Stehle!

        Writers from Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Le Bon and others have pointed out the inadequacy of science to ‘plan’ or ‘organize’ society. This was well known in the 19th century, but, as with so much knowledge, is continually forgotten.

        Those in science become addicted to their tower….

        I’ll have to look into this John Gray fellow!

    • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website: “Congress could order — and fund — a program to validate the major climate models”

      Congress could.

      But it won’t do any good, no matter how much money you throw at it.

      Anyone who claims that a computer game simulation of an effectively infinitely large open-ended non-linear feedback-driven (where we don’t know all the feedbacks, and even the ones we do know, we are unsure of the signs of some critical ones – the sign of the feedback of clouds typically reverses every 24 hours) chaotic system – hence subject to inter alia extreme sensitivity to initial conditions and bifurcation – is capable of making meaningful predictions over any significant time period is either a charlatan or a computer salesman.

      Ironically, the first person to point this out was Edward Lorenz – a climate scientist and one of the first to discover and recognise the limitations imposed by chaos theory.

      You can add as much computing power as you like, the result is purely to produce the wrong answer faster.

      So the fact that they DO appear to give relatively consistent answers – albeit entirely incorrect ones – is evidence that someone is extracting the urine.

      • Cat, tend to agree, since published the first peer reviewed article ever on applications of nonlinear dynamics (chaos theory) to microeconomics (1992). But, there are simpler related arguments to be made for those that do not know chaos theory. See some ‘sound bite’ level climate model stuff in my recent illustrated guest post on climate models over at WUWT. Judith did not want to get into those weeds. Anthony did.

      • Steven Mosher

        You see what I mean editor Fabius?

        Basically skeptics position is unfalsifiable

        That is, their position or theory about models cannot be subject to experiment.
        Even if a climate model predicted the temperature correct to within. 5c…they would demand. 05c.
        And if it was good to. 05c they would say six Sigma or nothing.

        They could always say that past good prediction was no certainty of future good prediction… Because unicorns or chaos or whatever.

        The point is skeptics don’t get to set the accuracy requirements. Policy makers set the rules.
        And for now, they accept the models.. Absent some better tool they will use what is at hand.

      • Steven,

        (1) “You see what I mean…?”

        I’ve already agreed with you about the devout masses — but apply it to both sides. Voices of reasonable people on both sides (e.g., our host) are drowned out.

        (2) “And for now, they accept the models…”

        So what big policy response has the US made to the threat of climate change? The clean power plan was largely justified as a continuation of air pollution regulation (coal being a step above burning cow dung), and will have a de minis effect on CO2 emissions.

        Cap & Trade? Large taxes on carbon fuels? Massive new regulations? Not even on the table.

        The policy debate is gridlocked. Policy-makers “accept” nothing as a basis for action, since they’re taking none. Polls consistently rank climate change near or at the bottom of major policy issues.

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/167843/climate-change-not-top-worry.aspx

      • Steven Mosher: “That is, their position or theory about models cannot be subject to experiment.”

        So Mosher, you believe that effectively infinitely large open-ended non-linear feedback-driven systems are amenable to prediction by computer software?

        Chaos theory isn’t your strong suit, is it? I suggest you read, mark. learn and inwardly digest ‘Chaos’ by James Gleick, a very approachable text for the layman.

        After that I suggest you acquire a treatise on computationally intractable problems, and try to master that too.

        The laws of physics and mathematics are not optional, even for computer salesmen.

      • I think the validation tests could be very useful. They would probably show that anyone who claims that a computer game simulation of an effectively infinitely large open-ended non-linear feedback-driven (where we don’t know all the feedbacks, and even the ones we do know, we are unsure of the signs of some critical ones – the sign of the feedback of clouds typically reverses every 24 hours) chaotic system – hence subject to inter alia extreme sensitivity to initial conditions and bifurcation – is capable of making meaningful predictions over any significant time period is either a charlatan or a computer salesman.

        (props to my friend and mentor, cw666)

      • Steven Mosher said:

        The point is skeptics don’t get to set the accuracy requirements. Policy makers set the rules.

        And for now, they accept the models.. Absent some better tool they will use what is at hand.

        Editor of the Fabius Maximus website said:

        The policy debate is gridlocked. Policy-makers “accept” nothing as a basis for action, since they’re taking none. Polls consistently rank climate change near or at the bottom of major policy issues.

        Mosher’s perception is typical of the delusions of grandeur that have infected Team Green.

        Team Carbon doesn’t really have to move the ball to win the game. All it has to do is maintain gridlock.

        In From Dawn to Decadence the historian Jacques Barzun notes that it took the public a long time to see the value of science. And then the public only valued science because it was able to fill up the punch bowl, and keep it full.

        Now science wants to take the punch bowl away?

        Despite all the lofty claims Team Green makes for renewables, they can’t come anywhere close to keeping the punch bowl full.

        So unless some strange wave of asceticism sweeps over humanity, I don’t see much hope for Team Green.

        We just better hope Team Green is wrong about the CAGW thing, because if it isn’t, we’re going to fry the damned place.

      • You are of course quite right and anyone who understands anything about computer modelling and simulation will agree with you. The plain fact of computer simulation is that if you don’t understand the problem you can’t design a solution. In a reiterative process such as a climate, or any other complex, model you only need a small error. It will compound itself with every iteration until in a very short time the results are worthless. There are such errors in the GCM models. Worse there are major omissions (clouds, thunderstorms, ENSO for instance). And when lack of knowledge and understanding is replaced by simple parameterization the results are effectively compromised from the beginning.
        When you add in the impossibility of stating the correct initial parameters for any GCM model run (for the simple reason that you don’t have the data at the right level of granularity and never will have) it’s a wonder the models do as well as they do – one suspects much tweaking.
        In this situation there is no point in attempting to validate the models. They are only useful as research tools.

    • “warmunists”, excellent.

      “IMO the arena is political and the most effective weapons are irrefutable simple sound bites.”

      Yes. The public could care less about rational arguments. The crowd does not reason. This is a propaganda war and imagery rules the day.

      • Nickels,

        The one thing both sides in this debate agree upon is that there is not need for tests. They have a variety of reasons for this, mostly confident assumptions about society. It’s like listening to people debating Zen.

        It’s not how people debate things of real importance to their lives, where they want practical methods to resolve the debate and move on.

      • Fabius Maximus,

        I would agree in terms of the climate community, which is a slightly more structured crowd than the general public. I think Gustave Le Bon calls this a caste or such. These types of crowd are capable of slightly more advanced reasoning.

      • Fabius Maximus,

        Geez, my first response makes no sense, sorry….

        “It’s like listening to people debating Zen.”

        Yes, exactly. Warming is a belief system, a part of the socialist/anti-capitalist creed.

        I suppose they could say the same against skeptics, but the situation is not symmetric. CAGW is a revolution and the revolution requires the proof, not the tried and true… Theirs is a destructive force that wants to tear down all of society. The skeptics are defending that which has a basis in empirical tradition.

        “Thanks to its promises of regeneration, thanks to the hope it flashes before all the disinherited of life, Socialism [CAGW] is becoming a belief of a religious character rather than a doctrine. Now the great power of beliefs , when they tend to assume this religious form, of whose mechanism I have elsewhere treated, lies in the fact that their propagation is independent of the proportion of truth or error that they may contain, for as soon as a belief has gained a lodging in the minds of men its absurdity no longer appears; reason cannot reach it, and only time can impair it . The most profound thinkers of humanity — Leibnitz, Descartes, Newton — have bowed themselves without a murmur
        before religious doctrines whose weaknesses reason would quickly have
        discovered, had they been able to submit them to the ordeal of criticism. What has once entered the region of sentiment can no longer be touched by discussion. Religions, acting as they do only on the sentiments, cannot be destroyed by arguments, and it is for this reason that their power over the mind has always been so absolute.”

        http://socserv2.socsci.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/lebon/socialism.pdf

  17. I agree with McIntyre. Falsification is not the hallmark of science, explanation is. Of the two million journal articles published each year, virtually none reports a falsification. Popper’s simplistic ideas are a prime example of what philosophy of science was like before the Kuhnian revolution, with philosophers saying how science should work, rather than actually looking to see how it does work.

    The climate debate is deadlocked because the evidence is ambiguous at best. It is not even clear what counts as evidence, and a lot of the debate is about precisely this issue. It is always thus with environmental impact assessment, which asks what are among the most complex physical questions one can ask. Global environment impact over the next 300 years is probably an absurd question, so it generates an absurd response.

    • “Falsification is not the hallmark of science, explanation is.”

      If falsification is not the hallmark of science, then anything could be an explanation. So the question for you, David, how do you eliminate false explanations?

      Andrew

      • Bad Andrew wrote:

        “If falsification is not the hallmark of science, then anything could be an explanation. So the question for you, David, how do you eliminate false explanations?”

        Given that there are an infinite number of false explanations for any phenomenon, the first thing you want to do is get up early in the morning. David is basically right. When Einstein described relativity, he did not need to falsify anything, nor did he have to disprove any null hypothesis as far as I can tell. He just provided a more in-depth explanation of how the universe works, allowing him to explain phenomena that otherwise could not be explained, and that is mostly how science progresses.

      • “the first thing you want to do is get up early in the morning”

        Then what? Your response doesn’t address my question. Which is:

        How do you eliminate false explanations?

        Andrew

      • When Einstein described relativity, he did not need to falsify anything, nor did he have to disprove any null hypothesis as far as I can tell.

        Einstein didn’t have access to the equipment or measurements that would later prove his ideas and so relied on the thought experiments which did prove genius and ultimately valid. But experimental proof did come later, which is why Einstein published the Theory of General Relativity. The irony being we still refer to Newton’s Laws of Motion and Einstein’s Theory.

        But relativity did falsify Newtonian physics which constituted the null hypothesis, right?

    • “Popper’s simplistic ideas are a prime example of what philosophy of science was like before the Kuhnian revolution, with philosophers saying how science should work, rather than actually looking to see how it does work.”

      Evidently, science isn’t working.:

      http://universitypost.dk/files/imagecache/930x/pictures/forskere_giver_sig_selv_ret.jpg

    • David & JCH,

      Your comments repeat the point I made in this post, in which I explain why Popper’s insights can help the policy discussion today.

      “Scientists have their own protocols for such matters, and so usually leave these questions to philosophers and historians, or symposiums over drinks. Yet in times of crisis — when the normal process of science fails to meet our needs — the answers to these questions provide tools that can help.”

      • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website said:

        Popper’s insights can help the policy discussion today.

        But as you can see from the comments, Popper is at the center of the “Science Wars,” and therefore is a controversial and polarizing figure in and of himself. I don’t see how invoking him will help resolve collective action problems.

        Kuhn and Feyerabend are on one side of the Science Wars (granted, not to the extreme as folks like Habermas and Rorty are), and Popper the other. As the philosopher of science Stephen Toulmin explains in Cosmopolis; Kuhn “stepped back from the context-free questions of Catesian rationalism, toward the historical candor of the humanist tradition.”

        But, as Toulmin goes on to explain, it wasn’t long before “the implications of the new approach were attacked by those who retained a taste for earlier, rationalist ambitions.” Leading the attack was Karl Popper, who feared that “selling out to history and psychology, and making rational judgments on science hostage to the happenstance of human behavior at one moment or another” would “inevitably reintroduce the ambiguity and uncertainty that the successors of Descartes struggled to eliminate.”

        The “reason” that Kuhn and Feyerabend bid farewell to, Toulmin continues, “is not the everyday ideal of being ‘reasonable’ or ‘open to reason’, which Montaigne and the humanists embraced. Rather, it is what he calls ‘scientific rationalism”: i.e., the 17th-century dream of a logical rationality, shared by philosophers from Descartes to Popper:

        The appeal to reason [Feyerabend argues] is empty, and must be replaced by a notion of science that subordinates it to the needs of citizens and communities.

      • Glenn,

        “I don’t see how invoking him will help resolve collective action problems.”

        I do not understand the basis for your objection.

        I am not “invoking Popper”, as if he were a deity or authority figure. I am giving his work due credit for an idea which can help us — and can stand on his own without his supporting authority.

        “controversial and polarizing figure”

        In my experience, everything is “controversial and polarizing” in the climate wars because both sides enjoy screaming “I’m right, QED”; neither has any interest in discussion of tests acceptable to both sides that might produce progress.

        Hence intervention is required from outside forces, the public and public policy decision-makers. Or we can continue as we are and let the weather decide (which seems the most likely outcome). If the outcome is unpleasant, both sides will shout what should be America’s motto: “It’s not my fault!”

      • Editor of the Fabius Maximus website,

        The climate wars are just one facet of the Science Wars, and could even be viewed as a symptom of the Science Wars.

        The crisis is deeper and more fundamental than the climate wars.

        You resolve the Kuhn vs. Popper embroglio, and you might have a shot at resolving the climate wars.

      • Ed: “I am not “invoking Popper”, as if he were a deity or authority figure. I am giving his work due credit for an idea which can help us…”

        Who is included in us? Do you really think that insights gained from Popper will influence the consensus goons? Please clarify.

      • Don,

        “Do you really think that insights gained from Popper will influence the consensus goons? Please clarify.”

        That’s how they describe you. I believe both sides are more-or-less right. Why not try to move beyond the poo-throwing to find a way to test these theories?

      • They were goons first, Ed. And I am not getting paid by the gubmint to do honest and open science. You and Popper don’t have a prayer when it comes to getting the consensus goons to submit to testing of their theories. Naivete is not a virtue, Ed.

    • “I agree with McIntyre. Falsification is not the hallmark of science, explanation is. Of the two million journal articles published each year, virtually none reports a falsification. Popper’s simplistic ideas are a prime example of what philosophy of science was like before the Kuhnian revolution, with philosophers saying how science should work, rather than actually looking to see how it does work.”

      Yup.. If you actually do observational science of Poppers ideas about science, you’ll find that his theory is flat busted.

      In short, science doesnt operate the way HE PROSCRIBES and we are the better for it.

      • “Yup.. If you actually do observational science of Poppers ideas about science, you’ll find that his theory is flat busted.

        In short, science doesnt operate the way HE PROSCRIBES and we are the better for it.”

        It’s claims all the way down.

        Andrew

      • Steven,

        “If you actually do observational science of Poppers ideas about science,”

        Yes, that point was explicitly made in this post — and several times more in this thread. It is not the subject of this series or this post.

        The subject is how to break the climate policy gridlock. Popper’s ideas gives operationally useful suggestions. Let’s save the debates about the nature of science for discussions over drinks.

      • “Yup.. If you actually do observational science of Poppers ideas about science, you’ll find that his theory is flat busted.”

        Prove it.

      • Steven Mosher

        Editor.
        Breaking the grid lock is easy. Ignore skeptics.
        Pick up your pen and phone and do some executive ordering.

      • Steven,

        “Breaking the grid lock is easy. Ignore skeptics.”

        Thank you for proving my point about the equivalence of both sides. Neither is interested in measures that might break the deadlock. They prefer to dream while chanting “I’m right; they’re wrong.”

        Eventually the weather will decide. If the results are painful, we can distract ourselves by watching both sides chant “It’s not my fault”.

      • “Eventually the weather will decide”
        I wish. To most reasonable people that should be self evident. But as soon as I saw CO2 could be a 100%+ forcing I knew the game was over.

        We could have a 50 year trend of decreasing temperatures and the reflexive response would be “Yea but it would have been colder without the CO2 forcing.” There is no convincing.

        To take the other side of Mosher’s point about not falsifying the skeptics position. That is equally true of the warmist’s position.

      • Curious from Cleathropes

        WOW – that’s a first (Editors response below) – a knock back of SM which I agree with! Not that this means anything since I am probably a Unicorn ;-)

      • I think you are in disagreement with both:
        – Albert Einstein
        – Karl Popper
        – Richard Feynman

        “Popper himself mentioned in his autobiographical “Unended Quest” that he got his idea reading Einstein’s book on his then-new relativistic theory. Popper notes Einstein writing that if the cosmological red-shift due to gravitational potential didn’t exist, his theory would have to be abandoned. This immediately led Popper to his idea of falsification as the scientific method.”

        https://youtu.be/b240PGCMwV0

        May I kindly ask you to put forward your argument against Popper:
        The logic of scientific discovery

        I think you mean climate science doesn´t operate the way described by the scientists mentioned above.

      • Trashing Pooper’s ideas is fine. Using Feynman to support Pooper’s crackpot theories is unforgivable.

        Feynman, shortly after Mr. Science Fiction’ clip ends, says the following about guesses and falsification:

        It is scientific only to say whats more likely and less likely and not to be proving all the time whats possible and impossible

      • Feynman goes on to describe how Newton’s theory of gravity has been proven wrong. I don’t suggest that sceptics start jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but why concern yourself with a falsified theory.

    • Maybe McIntyre is right, but an important question is whether the current science “system” could be dramatically improved by more emphasis on falsification. There are a lot of people who think so including myself. The real question is why there is such pervasive positive results bias in science.

  18. Popper’s simplistic ideas are a prime example of what philosophy of science was like before the Kuhnian revolution, with philosophers saying how science should work, rather than actually looking to see how it does work. – DW

    Very much agree with the above.

    • JCH,

      Perhaps so. But that’s irrelevant to the subject of this post, which concerns the public policy debate.

      • To my knowledge Popper did not address public policy debates. Moreover, this post certainly sounds like it is at least partly about the science, since you citing Popper, propose tests, etc.

        You cannot resolve the policy debate without resolving the scientific debate and I doubt the latter can be resolved, given the nebulous nature of environmental impact assessment.

        I have worked with, and studied the logic of, EIAs for many decades, beginning with large dams in 1970. I even helped write the Federal regulatory guidance on doing EIAs for proposed federal water projects. They are as far from testable science as one can get and still be doing science. And with climate change we are dealing with an EIA that is global and spans at least a 300 year timeframe (as in the social cost of carbon modeling). As I said before, the concept is actually rather absurd, but the issue flows rather naturally from environmentalism.

        There is no mystery why the deadlock cannot be broken. The science cannot be settled

      • David,

        “To my knowledge Popper did not address public policy debates.”

        Philosophers seldom do. But his insights can help in such practical matters, as those of philosophers often do.

        “Moreover, this post certainly sounds like it is at least partly about the science, since you citing Popper, propose tests, etc.”

        As I said, “Here insights about the dynamics of the scientific process and the basis for proof can guide decision-making by putting evidence and expert opinion in a larger context.”

        “You cannot resolve the policy debate without resolving the scientific debate and I doubt the latter can be resolved, given the nebulous nature of environmental impact assessment. ”

        Yes, both sides are quite confident. You have your answers. The other side has theirs. The question for the rest of us is how to move forward on this important policy issue, since neither side appears to have any interest in doing so.

  19. Popper instructs us that we should state the circumstances or evidence that would be required for us to change minds (figuratively) about a theory.

    The problem with the current Climate Change debate is that one side effectively has shut that option out by use of the Precautionary Principle. Since we cannot state to 100% absolute certainty that man made climate change is not caused by CO2 we have to act as if it was. They refuse to state what evidence would persuade them and continue to move the goal posts when strong evidence against it is found.

    • stuartlynne said:

      The problem with the current Climate Change debate is that one side effectively has shut that option out by use of the Precautionary Principle.

      I just finished reading Greg Gradin’s Kissinger’s Shadow, and one can’t help but notice the similarities between the “Precautionary Principle” invoked by environmentalists and the “one percent doctrine” invoked by Dick Cheney and other advocates of permanent war.

      As Grandin explains, the one percent doctrine was an idea originally crafted by the CIA’s “Team B,” an ad hoc intelligence review that President Ford set up at the behest of Cheney and Rumsfeld:

      Weak on facts, hard evidence, and verifiable numbers, Team B was strong on rhetoric, depicting the Soviets as an expansionist threat gathering its forces and preparing to strike….

      Team B-ers barely considered any actual intelligence. They knew the CIA had underestimated Soviet strength even before they saw the CIA’s estimates. Previewing what would become known as Dick Cheney’s “one percent doctrine,” Team B interpreted threats with the smallest probability of occuriing as likely to occur….

      The Soviet Union would soon disintegrate, but the fans of permanent war quickly found other threats which they “amped the danger into a primal threat to the nation’s existence,” Grandin says.

    • Editor:

      You stated “Eventually the weather will decide. If the results are painful, we can distract ourselves by watching both sides chant “It’s not my fault”.”

      From the social and political problems of gridlock, this may be the only answer. The reason is that a large number of persons, I am one, don’t like dealing with the counterfactuals inherent with addressing certain problems.

      One problem for me is the history of climate science and the use of the precautionary principle. This is part of the process that is typically ignored when calls about breaking the deadlock occur. The process was political. It is the Intergovernmental part that gets ignored, as well as the NGO’s, when discussing gridlock.

      Mosher is correct about policy and the using the pen. I find the deadlock as a reasonable response to the state of art in climate science. But it is not the science. CO2 has an effect. But it is the art. It is not just, “Is CO2 as effective as claimed”, but rather “Will warming cause damage as claimed?”

      Thus the problem for me of not continuing emitting CO2 is not knowing whether it is worth the money to correct while knowing that the argument of success will be even more contentious than the present gridlock if we do spend the money. In fact, the only way to make mitigation appear the correct answer is to use assumptions of cost that cannot be reasonably supported as indicated by disagreeing economists.

      This brings me to the real reason that there is grid lock: the moral perspective. There are fundamental differences in what persons consider acceptable risk. Without moral agreement, I do not see much progress can be made. I also think the reason that the general population list climate change so low is both what some call short sighted self interest, and the lack of a moral story that can survive the political bashing that occurs for almost all substantial money expenditures.

      This is where my dislike of counterfactuals weigh in. The weight of the evidence. Or as is pointed out, extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof. I note with interest those who want to make war on climate change for the moral aspect it brings, and the lack of physicality. It is hard to ignore the bombs and bullets, but it is easy to ignore doom and gloomers, or something decades away, if at all.

      Mosher has asked what would it take to change your opinion about climate change. IIRC, McIntyre has suggested that parties get together and agree to what is agreed upon and to agree to what is not agreed upon, as a good starting place. Can’t remember the exact subject for Steve’s suggestion, but it would be nice to apply both his and Mosher’s to climate science. But I don’t think it would help. The moral aspect to be shown is harm. This is an assumption known to be eventually true if and only if we have and burn enough carbon to make it happen. IMO, climate science is not the real issue, an agreement of harm is.

      • “IMO, climate science is not the real issue, an agreement of harm is.”

        The issue is that 1. climate science is a pile of sh**. And then 2. people pretending it isn’t.

        Andrew

  20. A fulfilled “risky” prediction provides more confidence than a brilliant or clever post hoc explanation. I’ve always understand that’s what science was about. The politics might be so great that – that issue is no longer relevant, but it seems that should be a goal.

    Can anyone answer these questions? Has climate science made many predictions of that sort? If not, why not? If so, have a significant number of them (more than chance) seen confirmation? Are there any risky predictions on the table about the future?

    As to the last point, in the past I had seen prediction markets with future payoffs tied to climatic measures. Are any of those type markets still around? In a sense they are an arbitrar of sorts of expert information. Could that be another path?

    • Aplan, you say “A fulfilled “risky” prediction provides more confidence than a brilliant or clever post hoc explanation.” This is simply not true as a matter of how science works. Many of the great names in science came up with brilliant explanations, perhaps most. Of course these proposed explanations get heavily tested, because they become the basis for future work. But the scientific literature is not full of predictions, in fact these seldom occur. It is full of two things: (1) observations and (2) attempted explanations.

      • David Wojick: Many of the great names in science came up with brilliant explanations, perhaps most. Of course these proposed explanations get heavily tested, because they become the basis for future work.

        It’s the testing that has helped subsequent scientists decide who in fact were the great names. Most scientists come up with many more explanations than what they publish (according to Francis Crick and Linus Pauling), so by the time the publish they have already submitted their ideas to tests. Then the public testing (e.g., of Pauling’s model for DNA) is more severe yet, and many explanations fall by the wayside. The great ideas of Heisenberg and Schroedinger had been severely tested in debate at Niels Bohr’s institute before they were ever published. It’s just that the roles of sever testing are frequently suppressed in biographies and histories.

      • DavWoj – I’m not talking about brilliance, I’m talking about confidence in t theories. That depends on if they were tested and if the test outcome was significant. Einsteins general relativity was like string theory (pretty clever and smart) – till the risky prediction of what happens during an eclipse. Neil Shubin predicted where he’d find Tiktallik and what features it would have. Inoculation was a good theory, but no great confidence before Jenner injected cowpox. There was a good theory about ulcers by no doubt clever people, but when Dr. Berry Marshal made a prediction backed by real action – people had confidence. Post hoc analysis is easier, may show brilliance and may dominate the literature but I would not bet the farm on it. I think it makes sense to go beyond post hoc theories and actually develop some sort of potentially fail-able test, before undertaking actions of severe consequence.

    • Steven Mosher

      Sure some in climate science have made risky predictions.
      Dissappearrence of artic ice by 2015 or so.

      So did that help?

      Nope.

      Because you learn very little from the failure of a risky prediction.

      You learn a lot from the success of a risky prediction.

      • Steven,

        “Because you learn very little from the failure of a risky prediction.”

        Wow. Too amazing to comment on.

        Learning is always optional. Failure to learn is a disability that can affect anyone, and is resistant to treatment.

      • One success could be random. It has to do more with the specificity of the predictions and the ratio of success to failure. Think Nostradamus and Jeane Dixon.

      • editor.. I will make a risky prediction.

        I predict the sun wont come up tommorrow.

        When I am wrong how much do you think we will learn from that failure?

      • When the sun rises in the morning we will learn a very important fact… that Mosher didn’t know what he was talking about. Likewise, when the Arctic didn’t melt, and the snow wasn’t a thing of the past, and the hurricanes didn’t increase, and the sea level rise didn’t accelerate, and all the other predictions that the Climate Faithful have made over the decades failed, we learned that they didn’t actually know all that much about the Climate.

        Your right about one thing, Mosher. Creating hypothesis IS how science advances. But falsification is how it remains science. Without falsification all you have is Faith.

    • in the past I had seen prediction markets with future payoffs tied to climatic measures. Are any of those type markets still around? In a sense they are an arbitrar of sorts of expert information. Could that be another path?

      Intrade, which is now out of business, used to have about 8 climate bets on temperature and Arctic ice available. In the UK there are betting shops that have a few similar bets, but they won’t take bets from the US. I agree that it would be a great way to make a point. For example, maybe the Kochs could put up a $billion and tell the well-monied Big Green organizations to put up or shut up. (I wish they’d set up their own organization abroad to handle such betting, like in Switzerland.)

      • Climateball is the only sport where the umpire is a member of the opposing team, and is allowed to adjust not only his teams score after the game, but the score of every game ever played.

        He just announced that their last game had the highest score EVER, despite that several others watching the game saying it seemed like a pretty average one. And when the games commission requested that he submit his records he refused.

        With all that in mind, how much would YOU bet against 2016 being the hottest year ever (subject to final adjustments).

      • The bet’s specifications could handle that problem by stating which data set(s) would be used for measuring the temperature. The bet could specify the satellite data sets.

      • The unadjusted satellite data or the adjusted satellite data. Are future adjustments allowed?

    • I had seen prediction markets with future payoffs tied to climatic measures. Are any of those type markets still around?

      Farmers and their commodity customers, who invented futures markets, still practice weather and climate prediction every year.

  21. It’s hard to imagine that the groups that engage in climate modelling are serious about their primary purpose being that of seeking a better understanding of climate. The process of averaging the outputs of various and disparate models into an ensemble isn’t logical or reasonable, yet that is what is presented and relied upon for policy decisions.

    • Actually the averaging (quantitative or qualitative) of model ensembles is a standard procedure in weather forecasting, which climate modeling is attempting to emulate.

      • It simply shows that that there is low confidence in any specific model and that the “science” is not mature.

      • yes the science of predicting the climate is not mature.

        Comes the question:

        IF you are policy maker and you want to make a decision about the future, both the future of the economy and the future of the climate
        then you get to decide who and what will aid you in that decision making process.

        So you rely on models. economic models, climate models, anything and everything.

        You see the policy maker isnt doing science. he is using science, even immature science, to aid him in making decisions.

        Or he could use blog comments and decide that AGW is a fraud.

  22. David,

    We can wander the streets with a lantern asking people “what is science” and learn nothing.

    As for climate science, you have your opinions. Others have theirs. Both sides shout loudly and confidently. The climate policy debate is locked because neither side has interest in tests to resolve it.

    Given the stakes, I ask what tests can be run NOW that might restart the debate. Reviews of the models by a multi-disciplinary team of independent experts would help. Even better — successful predictions would provide compelling evidence to the public, including decision-makers (e.g., like that of general relativity in 1919).

    • > [S]uccessful predictions would provide compelling evidence to the public, including decision-makers […]

      Here’s a recent one:

      The ‘hiatus’ will continue at least another decade.

      http://judithcurry.com/2014/03/04/causes-and-implications-of-the-pause/

      Vintage 2014.

      • Willard,

        That’s a great point. There are a dozen or so explicit predictions about the end of the “pause” in the peer-reviewed literature (see links and abstracts here). As well as a many others about future weather, such as these based upon RCP8.5.

        However, we need evidence now. Waiting 5-10 years burns more time than we can afford.

      • willard (@nevaudit): “Vintage 2014.”

        Oh look!

        A pause denier!

        I’d extend the pause to around 2030 myself, which is when the ~60 year cycle apparently correlating to the NAO will change over from a negative to a positive half-cycle.

      • > There are a dozen or so explicit predictions about the end of the “pause” in the peer-reviewed literature (see links and abstracts here).

        I can play “look, squirrel!” too. Here’s Pierrehumbert on predictions:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RICBu_P8JWI

        Not that it matters to Popperians.

      • Willard,

        “I can play “look, squirrel!” too. ”

        Your contempt for the peer-reviewed literature is, as always, amazing.

      • > Your contempt for the peer-reviewed literature […]

        As if your ignoratio elenchi wasn’t enough, Editor, you now retort to ad hominem.

        That kind of behavior explains your gridlock better than your Popper.

      • Editor: . Waiting 5-10 years burns more time than we can afford.

        I doubt you can make a good case for that — it’s a claim oft debated here at Climate Etc. CO2 concentration is increasing at a rate that will produce a doubling in about 100+ years (if at all), and increases in CO2, rainfall and temp over the last 150 years have produced net benefits.

      • Matthew,

        “I doubt you can make a good case for that”

        Yes, you have your confident beliefs. Others have equally confident beliefs. It would be nice to test them rather than waiting to learn who is correct, as the cost might prove more than we want to pay.

        Both sides are brothers (siblings) in this debate, neither willing to have their ideas subjected to a test. As shown (again) in this thread.

      • I’ll be surprised if the talk of the pause survives 2016.

        Though some will never let go until it’s pried from their cold fingers.

      • Editor: Both sides are brothers (siblings) in this debate, neither willing to have their ideas subjected to a test.

        So give us your good case, which I doubt exists. Experiments and natural observations have tended to discredit (no severe test here, just lots of independent studies) the idea that the increased CO2 since 1880 has done any harm to nature, and forecasts for the next 20 years are for little change of any kind. There have been many claims over the past 30 years that the next 5-10 years are critical — is there some way that yours is better founded than the predecessors?

        I repeat that I am in favor of severe tests, but can a severe test of the CO2/solar/periodic hypotheses be carried out in under 30 years? Of what would it consist?

        Mosher down below is correct: neither Popper nor anyone else has given any operational specifications of what might constitute a “severe” test. One of the most famous, the Eddington Expedition, relied on a post-hoc explanation that 1/3 rd of the photographic equipment had failed — he was persuasive, using “out of sample” information to check his explanation, but unanticipated results like that spoil most attempts at severe tests. Is the prediction of a tropical hot spot severe enough? Why not? Is the ongoing and increasing inaccuracy of the GCMs a severe test? Why not? How about the predictions of no more snow in Great Britain, Hurrican Katrinas repeated every year, and the loss of the snows of Kilimanjaro? Considering the alarming language with which those predictions were made, why are they not severe tests?

    • Editor, there is an entire field devoted to the question “what is science” and it is my field, namely philosophy of science. As it happens my Ph.D. thesis explored Kuhn’s deep point that scientists defending competing paradigms tend to talk past one another when they try to debate their differences. It is something that I have studied ever since and this is precisely what we see in the climate debate today.

      • David,

        Yes, that’s exactly what I say in this series of posts. There are a large bodies of knowledge that can help break the science policy deadlock — such as validation of models and philosophy of science.

        “scientists defending competing paradigms tend to talk past one another when they try to debate their differences.”

        I agree. But that’s not the subject of this series or this post.

  23. This post is rather ironic. Larry asks how to thaw the climate debate and offers Karl Popper as a solution, then the familiar sceptics show up attempting to beat “climate science” with the Popper cudgel with all of their blows falling on themselves. This post is clear and convincing evidence that Steve McIntyre is right to ban the Popper subject. Having Popper advise scientists how to do their jobs is about as useful as having eunuchs instruct Vātsyāyana on the Kamasutra.

  24. > [T]o mention that Popper’s work about falsification is the hallmark of science, an example of why the policy debate has gridlocked.

    Another kind of gridlock can obtain with a failure to cite one’s sources:

    > If correct do these predictions provide sufficient proof (e.g., are they what Karl Popper called “risky predictions”)?

    This reminds me of a recent suggestion by the Auditor:

    I’m considering putting “Popper” on my list of proscribed words.

    http://climateaudit.org/2016/01/05/update-of-model-observation-comparisons/#comment-765766

    http://judithcurry.com/2016/01/09/on-distinguishing-disbelief-and-nonbelief/#comment-757016

    INTEGRITY ™ – Citation Gridlock

    • Willard,

      “Another kind of gridlock can obtain with a failure to cite one’s sources:”

      False, as usual for you. McIntyre’s comment about Popper was posted at his website on Jan 6.

      I made several comments about Popper there on January 7.

      Your comment quoting McIntyre was made here on January 9.

      You were not my source. Will you admit your error and apologize?

      • > I made several comments […]

        You made one comment with the word “Popper” at the Auditor’s. This comment does not even aknowledge the Auditor’s remark. In fact, it goes against it.

        You haven’t cited your latest editorial at Judy’s in which you peddle in Popperian claptraps. As far as I can tell, this was the last time you’ve been confronted with the Auditor’s remark. You made one comment in response to my citation, and it did not address the Auditor’s remark.

        Acknowledging the Auditor’s remark without aknowledging the last time you were confronted with it does not entitle you to any kind of apology.

      • Willard,

        My comment proves that I was reading the thread, and so was able to see McIntyre’s comment.

        Whereas you are just, as usual, making stuff up.

      • > My comment proves that I was reading the thread

        It only proves that you read the comment to which you responded, which is not even clear – I stopped reading your comment as soon as I read “my comment proves that I was reading the thread.” I expected that crappy response, and already know what to respond to it.

        Even if you read the Auditor’s remark, you have not responded to it, and your comment still goes against it. Even if you read the Auditor’s remark, you still have not cited the last time you were confronted to it, and it was the only time (as far as I can tell) you responded to the remark.

        Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less if you aknowledge this or not. I can do my own cites myself.

        ***

        There’s a very simple question your current editorial does not answer: how the hell does the Auditor policy would be an example of why the policy debate has gridlocked? Remember: you just admitted that you are “not proposing to quote Popper to the public.”

        Perhaps most importantly, you might need to reconsider your reaction to Judy’s “risky prediction,” and reflect on how this reaction shows why Popperian claptraps are never that welcome.

        Both shows that your narrative doesn’t pass the smell test.

  25. Horst: the OP asks how. The answer to that questions requires a process…actual use of scientific method. One must be brutally honest to conduct actual science. From what has transpired with climate scientists, that requirement for brutal honesty doesn’t seem to be present.

  26. Reblogged this on The Ratliff Notepad and commented:
    “The insights of Daniel Daves, Kuhn and advice by Popper offer a possible solution: test models from the past 4 Assessment Reports using observations from our past but their future. Run them with observations made after their creation, not scenarios, so they produce predictions not projections — and compare them with observations from after their creation.”

    I would like to see if this has already been done … but if not … it would be a great line of analysis.

  27. I think this is a great idea.

    How about using the actual measurement of TCR or effective climate sensitivity. I ignore ECS since In am not sure how we would ever know we are at equilibrium or how many hundreds of years after we hit 560 ppm CO2 we would have to wait to reach it.

    Still – assuming we keep putting CO2 into the atmosphere, we will reach 560 ppm at some point. We measure the global average temperature that year and obtain an actual measurement of TCR and effective climate sensitivity.

    We should be able to use those numbers to validate or invalidate many models and even theories (like Nic’s observationally constrained values for TCR).

    Perhaps we could also come up with values for TCR and effective climate sensitivity using the various theories and models – for say CO2 at 420 ppm and take a measurement when we hit 420 ppm (whenever that is).

    Second – It also seems to me that we should be able to measure the temperature at TOA from space (at least 1/2 the Earth should be visible). Perhaps from the James Webb telescope location (one of the lagrange points I believe) – or perhaps from the moon. It seems this would be useful to accumulate over various periods of time (hourly, daily, and so on). How much energy are we radiating into space? How does this vary over time. I am not sure we are measuring this now – but are perhaps estimating it (not sure).

    • We don’t have t wait until 560 ppm. At 400 ppm we are half way to a doubling, and the temperature has warmed by about 1 C, so given this, you get an effective TCR of 2 C per doubling. Fitting temperature to accurate CO2 measurements since the 1950’s gives you 2.4 C per doubling. Yes, direct measurements should be used to guide policy. Models are just a bonus that back up the measurements.

  28. You are effectively proposing a new government department of model validation, another of many checked and balanced government departments in existence.
    I don’t like government departments. It seems to me the deadlock is not scientific, but religious. Blind faith vs science. The shamans of Carbonism have achieved enormous influence in government and institutional science. It is a witch craze, a prohibition style aberration from principle likely to resolve automatically when the common sense public is asked to pay.

    • Gynosperm,

      “You are effectively proposing a new government department of model validation, another of many checked and balanced government departments in existence.”

      Not at all. I am proposing the government’s funding of science be directed to specific public policy questions, a commonplace in US history.

      The specific methods proposed have many precedents, such as the FDA’s requirements for drug testing.

      • Not an expert on FDA drug testing but my understanding is that it is a standard of care requisite for approval that is pushed back on the private companies. Government is REALLY good at this.
        The climate models and climate data are government enterprises. The “private” universities might be (should be) charged with validation studies on their model work, but the money ultimately comes from the same till. Where do you push validation studies on work by Tom Karl?
        If you can pull off a (dare I say unprecedented) private validation committee for NOAA, more power to you. Count me in as a volunteer. Alas, the line of volunteers will be very long.

      • Good point Gynosperm. There are lots of standards and they are paid by the user and/or professional service. Asking universities to prove that the work was good rather than seek additional grant money would run counter to present systems and cost money.

  29. Anthony Ratliffe

    What I most remember from taking Popper’s Logic and Scientific Method course at the LSE in the late ’50s is that he said that to be considered “scientific”, a statement or proposition (hypothesis) should be in principle falsifiable. If there is no conceivable evidential test which could help us to decide if the hypothesis is “true”, then while the statement may well be and remain (scientifically?) interesting and perhaps helpful, it is something other than scientific.

    Essentially, Popper was talking about the demarkation between empirical science and other subjects. Given this, he will remain forever relevant. Kuhn discusses a different aspect of science, but that does not in any sense “contradict” Popper. We need them both, to get a better picture of the complete elephant, like several blind men feeling parts of the animal.

    Regards, Tony.

  30. Larry Kummer, thank you for the essay and the link to the essay by Joel Katzav. A counter argument has already been published by Gavin Schmidt and Stephen Sherwood, discussed here last year some time.

    ( Euro Jnl Phil Sci
    DOI 10.007/s13194-014-0102-9
    A practical philosophy of complex climate modelling
    Gavin A. Schmidt · Steven Sherwood

    Their abstract reads: Abstract We give an overview of the practice of developing and using complex climate models, as seen from experiences in a major climate modelling center and through participation in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). We discuss the construction and calibration of models; their evaluation, especially through use of out-of-sample tests; and their exploitation in multi-model ensembles to identify biases and make predictions. We stress that adequacy or utility of climate models is best assessed via their skill against more na¨ıve predictions. The framework we use for making inferences about reality using simulations is naturally Bayesian (in an informal sense), and has many points of contact with more familiar examples of scientific epistemology. While the use of complex simulations in science is a development that changes much in how science is done in practice, we argue that the concepts being applied fit very much into traditional practices of the scientific method, albeit those more often associated with laboratory work.

    At RealClimate I and others have recommended that passing severe tests be a prerequisite for giving any credit to the models, and the idea was dismissed (not that I am important, but that the argument has been made and dismissed numerous times.) So, your and Katzav’s argument already is a point on which there is no agreement between the two sides of the CO2 policy debate..

    There is no need to cite Popper. Feynman wrote that when the data and model disagree, the model is wrong — but he was unclear on such practicalities as: (a) for how long can a model be entertained when there is disagreement (as opposed to rechecking data and doing more experiments); and (b) how much disagreement is acceptable for planning purposes.

    It is already widely known that there are years (decades) of disagreement between model forecasts (scenarios, etc) and subsequent data; factions disagree about how important these are, e.g. do modelers have the burden of proving that their models are good enough, or do critics have the burden of proving that the models are too inaccurate? It has been suggested that critics can not call a model inadequate for planning purposes unless they have a better model (I think this is a fair paraphrase of Steven Mosher.)

    • Matthew,

      I agree, Gavin’s paper is is quite fascinating, and revealing. It is the subject of the next chapter (see the list at the top of the comment section).

      “It is already widely known that there are years (decades) of disagreement between model forecasts”

      Yes, both sides have their confident but contradictory beliefs. Which is why the policy issue is deadlocked. Both sides repeatedly screaming “I’m right, you’re wrong” seems unlikely to help. I propose some methods to break the gridlock.

      The comments here are more evidence that there is little interest by either side in doing so.

      • Further –

        The comments here are more evidence that there is little interest by either side in doing so.

        What you see here is an unrepresentative sampling. Generalizing to the public from an unrepresentative sample is a foundational fallacy.

      • Joshua,

        “What you see here is an unrepresentative sampling.”

        Duh. It was a vivid illustration given to people already here. As I suspect everybody but you understood.

        “Generalizing to the public from an unrepresentative sample is a foundational fallacy.”

        Too weird to deserve a reply.

    • OMG

      ‘There is no need to cite Popper. Feynman wrote that when the data and model disagree, the model is wrong — but he was unclear on such practicalities as: (a) for how long can a model be entertained when there is disagreement (as opposed to rechecking data and doing more experiments); and (b) how much disagreement is acceptable for planning purposes.

      It is already widely known that there are years (decades) of disagreement between model forecasts (scenarios, etc) and subsequent data; factions disagree about how important these are, e.g. do modelers have the burden of proving that their models are good enough, or do critics have the burden of proving that the models are too inaccurate? It has been suggested that critics can not call a model inadequate for planning purposes unless they have a better model (I think this is a fair paraphrase of Steven Mosher.)”

      That is it in a nutshell.
      I’m sure you have read my examples where the TENSION between theory and data is maintained for decades. In the pure timless world of poppers idealism, there is no concept of time to work things out. there is no concept of plodding along with incomplete and even wrong understanding until something better emerges. In short, there is no concern for the practical and pragmatic aspect of science as science is done. It is all just a theory of science. That’s why you get proposals like about severe tests.

      What is a severe or risky test? how to measure the severeness of a test?

      The editor thinks the naive prediction is the one that predicts “more of the same” but what is that exactly? Take the temperature. in 2015 the global temp as lets say nominally 15C. the NAIVE prediction is that the temperature will remain at 15C. any prediction that differs from this is “risky”

  31. Pingback: ¿Juzgamos la ciencia, o es cuestión de fe? | PlazaMoyua.com

  32. McIntyre is a smart guy. Continually invoking what Popper said will get you nowhere. The climate science-media-academia-political establishment doesn’t care about Popper, Feynman, et al. They have already settled the science and they aren’t going to talk to flat-earthers about it. The fight is in the political arena. About 97% of voters don’t know Popper from Shinola. Try something else. Winning would be good. Go Donald!

    • Don,

      I am not proposing to quote Popper to the public; that’s a daft mis-characterization of what I wrote. As you say, that would accomplish nothing. I propose a test to produce predictions which can be compared to actual observations — the kind of result which the public will understand.

      Other than a few small-scale studies using old data, the models used in the past 4 AR’s have not been run with updated observations yielding predictions. They’re run with scenarios, producing spaghetti graphs of projections, preventing clear conclusions.

      • I didn’t mis-characterize or say that you were going to quote Popper to the people. I just mentioned that the public hasn’t heard of the dude, after what I said about the science being settled and the debate having moved on to the political arena.

        The climate science establishment has ignored Popper’s alleged insight studiously, for a long time. Steven Schneider is their guiding light. What makes you think appealing to Popper will help now?

        I guess you could try this out on the climate science establishment, again: “Popper’s insight raises the bar for testing the predictions of climate models.”

        If they respond at all, I bet they will say: “No it doesn’t.”

      • Don,

        “The climate science establishment has ignored Popper’s alleged insight studiously … What makes you think appealing to Popper will help now?”

        Your question is an odd one since I never proposed “appealing to Popper” (he’s dead) or “the cli sci establishment” (I said they will not change). Pressure will have to come from outside: the public and public policy decision-makes (e.g., Congress — as discussed up-thread).

      • Once again: Skeptics have been invoking Popper for a long time. He is indeed dead and he never was the boss of climate science. The climate science establishment I mentioned includes the political muckety-mucks that you want to influence. They don’t care about Popper. They don’t care if you get insight from Popper. You need to get those people replaced. Popper is not going to help you. His name should be proscribed from all skeptic blogs.

      • Don’t be too hard on the Editor, Don Don. Things take time. Expect a few more years before Denizens stop conflating models and theories, e.g.:

        If I may refer to Popper here, when evaluating a theory (GCM model) […]

        http://judithcurry.com/2010/10/24/overconfidence-in-ipccs-detection-and-attribution-part-iii/#comment-5288

      • Willard: A model is a theory and a theory is a model. This is a good example by a guy that was pretty good at predicting the future using his theories, er models:
        http://www.jstor.org/stable/30057101?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

      • > A model is a theory and a theory is a model.

        Yes, and no, Geo.

        A model is a realization or implementations of at least one theory. There is however a thing called model theory:

        A sentence S divides all its possible interpretations into two classes, those that are models of it and those that are not. In this way it defines a class, namely the class of all its models, written Mod(S). To take a legal example, the sentence

        The first person has transferred the property to the second person, who thereby holds the property for the benefit of the third person.

        defines a class of structures which take the form of labelled 4-tuples, as for example (writing the label on the left):

        the first person = Alfonso Arblaster;
        the property = the derelict land behind Alfonso’s house;
        the second person = John Doe;
        the third person = Richard Roe.

        This is a typical model-theoretic definition, defining a class of structures (in this case, the class known to the lawyers as trusts).

        We can extend the idea of model-theoretic definition from a single sentence S to a set T of sentences; Mod(T) is the class of all interpretations that are simultaneously models of all the sentences in T. When a set T of sentences is used to define a class in this way, mathematicians say that T is a theory or a set of axioms, and that T axiomatises the class Mod(T).

        http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/model-theory/

        Teh modulz are corrected and ditched all the times. That’s why they exist.

        Just wait until the Editor gets into teh data modulz.

        ***

        Meanwhile, I’m trying to find where Popper describes severe testing. For now, I’m not even sure if Katzav gets Pop right.

        Don’t worry, I won’t be severe.

      • Nice spin, word-boy. Can you repeat that in American?

      • willard ‘severe’ testing is a quantifiable term. Popper defined it.. err err
        wait…

        why do all these people who scream ‘but science’ run around with these philosophical fairy tales about how science is done or should be done.

        maybe scientists should tell philosophers how to do their job.

      • Willard,

        “Meanwhile, I’m trying to find where Popper describes severe testing. ”

        At the original post on the FM website I show the relevant 1600 word excerpt from Popper’s Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963).

      • ““Confirmations should count only if they are the result of risky predictions; that is to say, if, unenlightened by the theory in question, we should have expected an event which was incompatible with the theory — an event which would have refuted the theory.”

        fancy that.. how do you go about falsifying that.
        the problem is editor… identifying who ‘we’ is and what it means to be unenlighted by the theory. This is an entirely subjectivist account

        If you are unenlighted by the theory what is your expectation? what should you expect knowing Nothing about climate science?
        I know the world will end in fire or ice.

        The word risk should have clued you in that Poppers test was subjective.

        so much for rational thought.

      • Steven,

        I suggest you read at least the full excerpt, so that you have some idea what you’re dismissing. It explains what you misunderstand.

        I provide a 1600 word excerpt.

      • > I show the relevant 1600 word excerpt from Popper’s […]

        No occurence of “severe testing” there. Recycling Pop’s “marxism” is pure red meat from your part. This kind of often difficult to tell when people are being funny, serious, or something else.

        What was that something else, again, Editor?

        Try Chapter 6. If you can find a quote where he defines “severe testing,” that’d be great. Here, just for you:

        http://strangebeautiful.com/other-texts/popper-logic-scientific-discovery.pdf

        ***

        Let’s see how you fare with a mild criticism:

        http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1348843/1/1348843.pdf

        See especially (3).

        This should enough to see why your excerpt is red meat.

      • Editor.

        I did read the 1600 words. NONE of them explain in a object manner how one decides if a test is severe or not.
        In fact the words re enforce my argument that his criteria are subjective.

        Merely pointing at his text is not an argument.

      • Well this has gone far enough. I move that we vote on proscribing Popper. Send him back to RIP, I say. And write on his chart:

        DO NOT RESURRECT

      • Don,

        Here are two predictions.

        (1) Popper will be remembered when the present Poo-throwing & Clown show pretending to be a climate policy debate has been long forgotten.

        (2) Historians will write footnotes about the activists on both sides who imagined that they were Popes of Science and pronounced that This or That had been settled. Historical accounts are boring without these humorous stories.

        Meanwhile the weather seems likely to settle these policy questions, perhaps at great cost to the public.

      • Larry: All Theories are wrong, some are useful. With apologies to George Box, inventor of every geologists favorite screening tool, the Box model.

        OK, severe testing “must” be done. Then what? Throw the theory is the garbage and work on one until it passes all severe tests? Great idea, then nothing will ever get done. This is also called analysis paralysis.

        Based on my severe test of your theory, Larry, your goal in the climate debate is to create as much FUD as possible.
        http://thestudioexec.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/elmer_fudd-400×255.jpg

      • Horst,

        “Throw the theory is the garbage and work on one until it passes all severe tests?”

        How many times in the post and in this thread have I said that the subject is the public policy decision-making process, not the debate among scientists? Two dozen? Three dozen?

        Not enough, it seems.

        “This is called analysis paralysis”

        Your comments suggested that you didn’t read the post, but that confirms it.

        The policy debate is gridlocked, 28 years after Hansen’s Senate testimony ignited it. I look for ways to restart it, and gave specific suggestions. So your assertion is backwards, 100% wrong.

      • > How many times in the post and in this thread have I said that the subject is the public policy decision-making process, not the debate among scientists? Two dozen? Three dozen?

        Sounds like an induction, Editor. Popper wasn’t a fan of inductions. Even if accept it as a proper induction, it’s irrelevant.

        Horst’s point also applies to policy making: you do with what you got.

        The best explanation always wins.

      • I am going to help you, Ed. My two predictions:

        (1) If the climate debate ever gets opened up, it will have about zero to do with Popper.

        (2) See # (1)

      • Not that good, willito. the doc usually explains things with an elegant simplicity I don’t see there. I would go with something like what I always say:

        In point of fact, no conclusive disproof of a theory can ever be produced.

      • Vaughan simply stated a fact, Don Don. There’s nothing to explain.

        One of Pop’s students might be closer to what you’re looking for:

        http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/32194480440

        Not that the word “theory” does not refer to teh stoopid modulz.

      • That’s what I said, willito. I find the doc most interesting and even fascinating when he is explaining something with elegant simplicity, instead of simply stating a fact. We don’t need him for that.

        You are not the linguistic leviathan that you used to be, willito. Now I am going to give you a gift. You say:”Donnyboy, you are not the man you used to be.”

        Credit to Muhammad Ali, when Howard Cosell informed the Great One: “Muhammad Ali, you are not the fighter you used to be”.

        Great One grabs mike and quickly replies: “Howard Cosell, you are not the man you used to be.”

      • Willard,

        “No occurence of “severe testing” there.”

        Please at least pretend that you read the post. The phrase is by Prof Katzav, from whom I got the idea. The Popper quote explains the concept.

      • > The phrase is by Prof Katzav, from whom I got the idea.

        This shows you can only pretend to having read Katsav’s article, Editor.

        His very first mention of severe testing cites pages 20 and 62. Do you really think Katsav would have written “only if systematic attempts to falsify or severely test the system are being carried out [Popper, 2005, pp. 20, 62]” if it wasn’t in Popper?

        The first page is a dud, even if it announces something promising in section 20. The second page is one of that section 20, and is only relevant because of this:

        How degrees of falsifiability are to be estimated will be explained in sections 31 to 40.

        You’ll never guess to which chapter these sections refer.

        There’s the word “degrees” in its title.

        While Katsav has been mostly unhelpful, there are more than 30 occurences of “severe” in that book. You can search yourself: I gave you a PDF of the same edition Katsav cites.

        You can’t even pretend having read Popper anymore.

        ***

        Do constant failures to pay due diligence to one’s own citations exemplify why the policy debate has gridlocked?

      • > I find the doc most interesting and even fascinating when he is explaining something with elegant simplicity, instead of simply stating a fact.

        Oh, I see. I just want to say one word to you, Don Don. Are you listening?

        Linkies.

        Click on his name, right under the quote. It should lead you there:

        http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/11/co2-no-feedback-sensitivity/#comment-21105

        Read the discussion that follows, and prepare to be amazingly unamazed.

        You’re welcome.

      • @willard

        If you search for severity you will find what you are looking for. Severity of the tests is a very central part of Poppers thesis.

        The logic of scientific discovery

        “Thus the degree of falsifiability or of simplicity of a theory enters into the appraisal of its corroboration. And this appraisal may be regarded as one of the logical relations between the theory and the accepted basic statements: as an appraisal that takes into consider- ation the severity of the tests to which the theory has been subjected.”

        “This shows that it is not so much the number of corroborating instances which determines the degree of corroboration as the severity of the various tests to which the hypothesis in question can be, and has been, subjected. But the severity of the tests, in its turn, depends upon the degree of testability, and thus upon the simplicity of the hypothesis: the hypothesis which is falsifiable in a higher degree, or the simpler hypothesis, is also the one which is corroborable in a higher degree.”

        “Thus the degree of falsifiability or of simplicity of a theory enters into the appraisal of its corroboration. And this appraisal may be regarded as one of the logical relations between the theory and the accepted basic statements: as an appraisal that takes into consider- ation the severity of the tests to which the theory has been subjected.”

      • > If you search for severity you will find what you are looking for.

        On the contrary, Fiction, for I was looking for if the Editor could find it himself.

        I don’t always show interest for severe testing, but when I do, my go-to researcher is Deborah Mayo, e.g.:

        http://www.phil.vt.edu/dmayo/personal_website/(1997)%20Severe%20Tests,%20Arguing%20from%20Error,%20and%20Methodological%20Underdetermination.pdf

        None of this is relevant to the Editor’s torturer plea.

      • (1) Willard points to an interesting paper by Deborah Mayo: Deborah Mayo: “Severe tests, arguing from error, and methodological underdetermination” in Philosophical Studies, 86 (3) 1997.

        “The charge of methodological underdetermination (for a method of severe testing T) alleges that: for any evidence that test T takes as passing hypothesis H, there is always a rival hypothesis to H that passes test T as severely as H does. On my account of severe testing this charge is false.”

        We can only guess, but what I’ve seen of Katzav or Popper suggests that they would agree with Mayo.

        “The goal of an experimental strategy is to ensure, with high probability at least, that erroneous attributions of experimental results are avoided. The error of concern in passing hypothesis H is that one will do so while H is not true. Passing a severe test, in the sense I advocate, counts for hypothesis H because it corresponds to having good reasons for ruling out specific versions and degrees of this error.”

        Ditto. Here is the core of her theory contrasted with Popper’s. Bold emphasis added.

        “Popper’s problem here is that the grounds for the “best tested” badge would also be grounds for giving the badge to countless many other (not yet even though of ) hypotheses, had they been the ones considered for testing. So this alternative hypothesis objection goes through for Popper’s account.

        “This is not the case for the severity criterion I have set out. A non-falsified hypothesis H that passes the test failed by each rival hypothesis H 0 that has been considered, has passed a severe test for Popper – but not for me. Why not? Because for H to pass a severe test in my sense it must have passed a test with high power at probing the ways H can err. And the test that alternative hypothesis H 0 failed need not be probative in the least so far as H’s errors go. So long as two different hypotheses can err in different ways, different tests are needed to probe them severely.”

        This is an incisive point. However it makes the construction of severe tests more difficult than Popper’s, albeit with greater methodological rigor. Since the problem Katzav poses is that models might be unable to pass Popper’s test at present (for situational reasons, due to no limitations on their own), an even higher bar doesn’t help us.

        (2) My guess (emphasis on guess) is that Willard is showing “Google knowledge” — using search to find results without understanding what he posts, assuming nobody will bother to confront him with it.

        (3) “None of this is relevant to the Editor’s torturer plea.”

        Weird. Just making stuff up, as usual.

      • Editor, Willard, and others

        Deborah Mayo elaborated her ideas in two good books: Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge, and Error and Inference (an edited volume, co-editor Aris Spanos) of comments on the earlier book and her responses.

      • Matthew,

        Thanks for the tips to these books!

        This kind of methodological work is an important frontier of science, IMO. It probably will be slow to affect research — published in 1997, the PP website shows only one cite (those are not always accurate) — but might eventually have a big effect.

      • > Just making stuff up, as usual.

        Right after discovering Mayo. Fancy that. Next time I predict the Editor will thank Matt for the tip.

        The Editor’s argument is brain-deadly simple. Searching for “gridlock,” here’s what we get:

        Yes, both sides have their confident but contradictory beliefs. Which is why the policy issue is deadlocked. Both sides repeatedly screaming “I’m right, you’re wrong” seems unlikely to help. I propose some methods to break the gridlock.

        So unless we get severily tested and predictive modulz, the Editor and the neocon fellowship won’t buy it, and we’ll keep the gridlock. As if the current policy gridlock wasn’t based on science rejection and ideology or something.

        There is a gridlock. There is a gridlock because I don’t have what I want. If we want to remove the gridlock, give me what I want. You really should give me what I want.

        Torturers argue like that all the time.

    • The fight is in the political arena.

      Yeah, Don, it appears if we just turned this into a political blog you would feel right at home. I am glad it’s not, to be honest, even if obviously this blog heavily leans to one side of the science/policy debate.

      • None of the contentious issues with the science are going to be cleared up by the discussion here, yoey. Not even the little stuff. Policy decisions will be made by politicians and judges appointed by politicians. This election is very important. Popper, undersea ballcanoes, grid penetration (although, to some it might sound sexy), walruses, identity-protective cogniton, etc. etc., not so much.

  33. Who might be working on deepening our understanding of Chaos Theory as it pertains to this so-called “debate”? (btw, I hate the term “debate” because it implies there must be a “winner” in most instances of it … and we’re all losing because we’re too focused on who is winning the debate).

  34. Also in ref: to matthewrmarler’s quoted abstract:

    “The framework we use for making inferences about reality using simulations is naturally Bayesian (in an informal sense)”

    How can scientists use Bayesian logic informally, especially to make inferences about reality? Wouldn’t you have to apply that logic strictly?

    • Joseph Ratliff: How can scientists use Bayesian logic informally, especially to make inferences about reality? Wouldn’t you have to apply that logic strictly?

      I thought that the Schmidt and Sherwood essay was not very good. I cited it because a view contrary to Larry Kummer’s view had already been written by some of the disputants in the debate. I agree with Larry Kummer on the need for severe testing, but I think it is an idea that will not break the log jam.

      • Please understand matthewrmarler, I wasn’t challenging your reference of the essay itself, I was more concerned with Gavin Schmidt’s et al “behavior” of informally applying a formal logic to such an important science (IF that is what was actually happening).

        If that type of informal approach or application is happening, how can we expect a reliable outcome of any experiment based on that “informal” application of logic (again, IF that is what is happening)?

        The results of these experiments influence the policy decisions (especially someone in Gavin’s position), so I would think there would be ripple effects outward from the experiment to any end policy decisions being reached from that experiment (or others).

        And, it has me wondering if we’re deadlocked in any part (not all) because of other behaviors like “informal application of logic”. Science, from my perspective as a layperson, should be the most formal and rigid set of processes we have.

  35. Conclusions

    The public policy debate about climate change has gridlocked in part because many consider the evidence given as insufficient to warrant massive expenditures and regulatory changes.

    This thesis presupposes that the “many” are capable of evaluating the evidence given which seems dubious at best. Further it assumes that this highly scientifically literate population would remain completely unbiased rather than find some selfish self-interested rationalization for finding fault with the science.

  36. @ Editor: You wrote:
    “Yes, both sides have their confident but contradictory beliefs. Which is why the policy issue is deadlocked.”

    Unfortunately, what you describe is what seems to be happening. However, it is an ill posed question. If one is following the norms and practices of science, it is up to those suggesting that the models are correct to prove that these “beliefs” are justified. The modelers call themselves scientists and are supposed to be engaging in science. It is their responsibility to demonstrate that they are following the scientific method, that they are investigating every possible explanation for findings that are observed, for validating the models that they propose to represent reality, etc. They have not done so and actively refuse to do so.

    How does one resolve this? I don’t believe there is anything that can be “resolved” if the people claiming to be scientists are choosing to not follow the norms and practices of science. This isn’t a satisfactory outcome, but it is what one can expect when people engage in pseudo-scientific behavior.

    • bdaabat,

      “If one is following the norms and practices of science,”

      We can have drinks and discuss the “norms of science” and criticism people for not following them. That’s would be fun, and we could cites countless examples from history.

      The subject here is how to break the deadlocked climate policy question. It is an operationally important question. Theory can give us suggestions, but debate about “theories of science” don’t help.

    • One side claims that a warmer world will have a net worse climate for humans but do so without reliable data to support their conclusion.

      Pick 100 locations. Is there any reliable information to tell us which locations will have a better climate vs. a worse one in 50-100 years? There is much more than temperature to consider.

  37. Interesting discussion.
    — As ristvaan points out (http://tinyurl.com/hftn2wv), those tests have already been done, and they failed,
    — Don’t think that those tests are the only ones that can be done. A theory should be tested in all possible ways.
    — Popper explained how science should be done, Kuhn explained how science is done. Kuhn shows how climate science has gone off the rails. This article shows how Popper can be used to get climate science back on track.

  38. “Backcasting” what actually happened against what the models predicted would happen makes perfect sense. (It is standard practice in the electric utility industry, which is called upon to use models to predict future electricity consumption. If their predictions are too high, utilities build too much infrastructure, and customers must pay for it. If their predictions are too low, they might not build enough and the lights could go out.) Of course the climate scientists should do the same thing! These models have been around for a long time. If I understand correctly that this has not been done, I find it appalling.

    • Kim,

      You are correct — backtesting is a common method of model validation. There is a large literature on the subject.

      Like most tools, it has to be used with a sound methodology. Unfortunately the construction of climate models is a bit of a black box, and what little we know suggests backtesting provides weak validation.

      Model development must not be fitted to past data, consciously or unconsciously. As Prof Katzav says in the EOS article I cite:

      “If, for example, a simulation’s agreement with data results from accommodation of the data, the agreement will not be unlikely, and therefore the data will not severely test the suitability of the model that generated the simulation for making any predictions.”

      Hence the need for measures such as out-of-sample testing, such as I propose — using observations from the past, but from after the design of the model.

      “If I understand correctly that this has not been done, I find it appalling.”

      Me, too. At the end of this post you will find citations (with links) to a wide range of papers about testing climate models.

  39. @ Editor: I’d love to have drinks to discuss science!

    The issue you raise is the desire to break the deadlock on policy. That is a worthwhile goal!

    How does one counter the official message (one that isn’t following the norms and practices of science but IS the officially funded and “approved” provider of the information that is used to inform policymakers) in a way that would change policymakers minds? Current climate scientists are not interested in exploring alternatives. Simplified models have been developed and shown to have equal (or better skill) than climate models and their output doesn’t show runaway future warming. The findings are ignored because they aren’t output from the “approved” scientists and from their groups with supercomputers/staff (well, that and many of the policymakers seem to want to agree with the warmunists, which means that the simplified model output isn’t viewed favorably).

    Many, including Nic Lewis, have raised questions about sensitivity findings and demonstrated that current CO2 sensitivity values are too high, are (almost entirely) ignored.

    Most policy makers involved in this issue seem very interested in implementing expensive policies. I don’t believe the most realistic solution is to try to convince them that their beliefs are wrong using sound science. They don’t seem to care about science. They like the output they are receiving. The most realistic solution is to convince the populace that they have voted for the wrong policy makers.

    • > The most realistic solution is to convince the populace that they have voted for the wrong policy makers

      Doesn’t have a chance I’m afraid, since ALL the “policy” makers offer the same prescriptions (some tinkering at the edges to differentiate brands)

      Such people together with their MSM enablers call themselves the “elite”. They’re actually just another underclass

  40. The author of this post totally missed the boat. The claim “disinterest of both sides in tests that might provide better evidence” is pure bull. The skeptics clamor for such tests, the alarmists shy away from them. There have been numerous posts on several sites trying to examine the falsification of the proposed hypothesis (there is not enough support of the concept to call it a theory).

    • Leonard,

      “The skeptics clamor for such tests”

      Sounds interesting. Can you give us some examples of articles proposing a test that both sides will consider fair and meaningful? I found a few, but not many.

      Also, I’ve posted this proposal at several skeptics websites. The response is like that here, confident replies that “we know the answer; no tests needed.”

      • See my essays in the Judith foreword ebook. Not everything relevant is blogged. For example, Extreme Extremes, Credibility Conundrums, False Alarms, Polar Bears, Northwest Passage. They all deal with illustrated, documented, footnoted CAGW warmunist predictions that simply have been proven already false. In the time frames in which they were originally made, by them. Meeting your Popper requirements.
        Larry, you are trying to achieve a reasoned dialog when none is possible between devout warmunists and objective skeptics, on principle. The metaphorical logjam will be broken violently, one way or the other, when Mother Nature decides. Just like with real logjams back on the Wisconsin river, back in the day.

      • ristvan,

        “you are trying to achieve a reasoned dialog when none is possible between devout warmunists and objective skeptics”

        I see very few “objective” people on either side, and most of them stay quiet. I’ve had many interesting email chats with them. They frequently say that the science and policy debates are too hot and irrational to enter. I agree (I am accustomed to doing such folly after writing about our mad wars for 13 years). I know three climate scientists who have moved to saner fields of study.

        “The metaphorical logjam will be broken violently, one way or the other, when Mother Nature decides.”

        Sadly, I agree.

  41. A post like this could be helped by graphics. To be honest, even though I ran or supervised teams running oil field dynamic models over a period of 34 years, I can’t really tell what the author was proposing with enough certaintity to judge if the proposal at the end makes sense.

  42. 300 Scientists Want NOAA To Stop Hiding Its Global Warming Data

    http://dailycaller.com/2016/01/28/300-scientists-want-noaa-to-stop-hiding-its-global-warming-data/

  43. I think you’ve misrepresented McIntyre’s position here. It’s not that he disagrees with Popper, just that Popper is brought up so often, is argued about at length, and has never resolved an argument.

    But it’s ridiculous to say that Popper was wrong. Claims that aren’t falsifiable are dogma, not science. The world is warming because mighty Odin command it so — prove otherwise.

    • Plus many.

    • Robert,

      I second ristvan’s “plus many”. That’s a great observation. I hadn’t seen it in that way.

    • “But it’s ridiculous to say that Popper was wrong. ”

      except when Popper changed his mind. Then it make perfect sense to him to say I am Popper and I was wrong.

      by the way he was wrong.

    • “But it’s ridiculous to say that Popper was wrong. Claims that aren’t falsifiable are dogma, not science”

      Classic mistaken interpretation.

      2+2=4. Not falsifiable.

      By the way.. if its nonsense to think that popper was wrong, then the belief that he was right is unfalsifiable.

      But never mind. Climate science is falsifiable.

      you dont understand what that means.

      • 2+2=4 is not science. Not any more than i^2 = -1. It’s just a definition. Mathematicians are kinda lucky that way. They can use inductive proofs because they are the gods of their own universe.

        Strikes me that this sort of confusion of mathematics for science might be behind a lot of the shonkiness in climate science.

      • Robert
        ‘Claims that aren’t falsifiable are dogma, not science.”

        Claims that aren’t falsifiable can be definitions, truths of math , logic, perhaps geometry, some metaphysics.

        Some dogma is falsifiable.
        Like the dogma that popper was right.

        Like the dogma that theories can be falsified.

        But entertain us.. Go aheand and fashion a theory of classifying types of knowledge or types of sentences..

        Willard and I love to be amused.

        for grins go read

        the two dogmas of empiricism

      • You’re confusing “falsifiable” with “false.” The proposition 2+2=4 is falsifiable; we’re just really confident that it is not false. The proposition can be tested. The terms are all defined. We can perform the operation of addition on “2” and “2,” and determine the answer. If the answer is something other than “4” the proposition has been falsified. It just so happens that, when we do test, the result is not falsification, it is verification. The fact that the test verifies, rather than falsifies, does not mean the proposition was not falsifiable. We can say exactly the same thing about other propositions that we are really confident are correct: F=MA; E=Mc^2; V=IR; E=hv.

        Other people have commented on the fact that you have changed the domain we were discussing, by presenting an arithmetic proposition, rather than a description of the world. Typically, the operations of mathematics are less controversial than “models”–i.e., the attempts to describe reality by mapping them onto one or another mathematical operations. But I’m not convinced the distinction is valid. It depends upon whether anything in the real world is truly random or not–that is, of whether there is any such thing as “probability,” or whether, as some say, “probability” is merely a means to quantify information that one has and does not have. If the universe is truly and perfectly deterministic your proposition is an entirely valid test of Popperism. Present trends in quantum theory seems to suggest otherwise, though.

        Which, by the way, shows that Popperism passes its own test, contrary to your subtext.

    • Re claims that are not falsifiable…

      Like Hume said, verification is not enough, no matter how
      many case studies.

      Like Einstein said, one counter sample suffices to refute
      your theory.For his theory, Einstein said that if observation
      did not find changes in the red shift that he predicted his
      theory was falsified. (Vienna, May 1919.)

      Like Popper said, a theory to be scientific rather than
      ideological must clearly rule out specific possible
      occurrences, so that there will be no question as to
      whether or not it is falsified if these events in fact do
      come to pass.

      Some say theories sufficiently explanatory need no
      testing- elegance is all… So there’s truth to data
      reduced the subjective evaluation of fallible humans,
      sans the stringency of the scientific method to counter
      scientists own bias.

    • Robert

      here is what you wrote

      “Claims that aren’t falsifiable are dogma, not science.”

      2+2 = 4 is a claim. Its not falsifiable.

      Maybe you should be more precise.

      • SteveM, Be serious. 2+2=4 is a consequence of the Piano axioms for arithmetic. It is not a scientific statement, but a logical one.

      • “2+2 = 4 is a claim. Its not falsifiable.”

        Try it with rabbits.

        h/t Popper.

      • Steven,

        dogma: “doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative” (WordNet). 2+2=4 seems to fit.

  44. We need a lot of discussion about the standard of evidence necessary to support the costly and draconian measures being taken in the name of climate. Maybe climate is warming. It is supposed to be warming, because the earth is emerging from an ice age. Which begs the question why some scientists and government agencies would pad the record by “adjusting” prior-period temperature data.

    Our present climate is pleasant and productive. I like it, and hope it warms further. But that warming is not caused by fossil fuels use. Spending $44 trillion (as estimated by the IEA) to limit fossil fuels is madness. That is a waste of nearly 30% of the cumulative savings of mankind, and $7,000 for every human being.

    Carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuels use are beneficial, and climate change is a false premise for regulating them. See Patrick Moore’s recently released lecture http://www.thegwpf.com/28155/.

    There is no empirical evidence that CO2 from fossil fuels affects climate. Human activities cause only about 3% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to the atmosphere. The rest are the result of decomposing plant material.

    CO2 is in equilibrium. While a weak greenhouse gas in theory, its actual climate effects are nullified by stronger forces, particularly the formation of mineral carbonates from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Warmer weather from other causes increases natural CO2 emissions from rotting vegetation, and results in a higher equilibrium level of ambient CO2, as measured by Keeling.

    Mineral carbonates are the ultimate repository of atmospheric CO2. Anyone who passed 10th grade chemistry can know this using public information. Limestone and marble are the most familiar forms of mineral carbonate. CO2 is an essential component of mineral carbonate (CaCO3, for calcium). For more detail see the paper http://bit.ly/1NziTF4 by Danish researcher Tom Segalstad, and http://quadrant.org.au/opinion

    Carbonates form in seawater and soils through biological and chemical processes. The formula is CO2 + CaO => CaCO3. Anyone can make magnesium carbonate in a kitchen by mixing carbonated water with milk of magnesia.

  45. Philosophers of science sometimes fall into the same trap as English teachers. They can observe, catalog, and opine; but science is what scientists do. However, if what they do does not include hypothesis testing against observation, the individual in question isn’t a scientist.

    • Interesting hypothesis about who is a scientist.. How would you test it?

      What you miss is this. A theory has to be TESTABLE.. that’s different from actually doing the test. Some theory is currently testable in principle, but not testable in PRACTICE..

      • The way I see it is a theory is a concept that has already gained support from observations (measurements of one or more physical quantities that conform to predictions of the once-upon-a-time hypothesis). A theory is more mature than a hypothesis.

        There were quite a few predictions of QM that couldn’t be tested when they were made. But in time experimenters found ways to test, and of course the theory continues to evolve via those efforts.

        So, the fact that a hypothesis can’t be tested in practice is a problem, but not necessarily a show stopper. But until it is tested, it is still speculative.

      • jim2
        “However, if what they do does not include hypothesis testing against observation, the individual in question isn’t a scientist.”

        so I take it you recant this statement?

      • The fact they might not be able to test a given hypothesis does not mean they have never tested one.

      • The problem CAGWers have is that real science takes time. Instead of giving it the time it has to have, they try to scare people and slime those who don’t believe as they do. CAGW truly is more a religion than science.

  46. Harry Twinotter

    “Even worse, too little thought has been given to the criteria for validating climate science theories (aka their paradigm) and the models build upon them.”

    “This series looks at the answers to these questions given us by generations of philosophers and scientists, which we have ignored.”

    No, I don’t think so.

  47. There’s less of a rush now since Obama stopped the seas from rising.

  48. Harry Twinotter

    “Neither has produced progress; future historians will wonder why anyone expected them to do so.”

    This sounds suspiciously like a prediction to me.

  49. “The clock is running for actions that might break the deadlock. Eventually the weather will give us the answers, perhaps at ruinous cost.”

    Examples of ruinous cost:

    LIA’s, Bond Events, migration periods, Laki-scale eruptions, the 14th bloody century, the 17th bloody century…Can’t think of any warmings that were all that bad…maybe the Medieval in California…

    I know this post means well and that Popper was an admirable fellow. But I am not going to look at any “running clocks” and I can’t afford all these white elephants parading as “action”. “Policy” is a necessary if mediocre response to simple problems like children’s bedtimes or building heights in the ‘burbs. Applied to the stupendously complex it comforts but it paralyses. (That drone with the bomb on board? It’s okay. It’s for our Yemen policy, which is part of our Shia-axis policy, which is…let me check my notes here…)

    Nope. Just going to enjoy this cosy moment of the Holocene, in the certainty that it too shall pass. Wish we had engineers and climate scientists who boringly prepare for the inevitable – but who can resist a career salivating over those dreamy non-Kardashian models?

    Really, just obliterate the climatariat. After totally uprooting it. Then bury its ashes in the Kola Superdeep Borehole. Then give it a stern warning and a good talking-to.

  50. Atmospheric Physicist

    Take a step back. An hypothesis must first and foremost conform to well accepted laws of physics, such as the laws of thermodynamics. The Second Law is about maximum entropy production. The state of maximum entropy has no unbalanced energy potentials, so molecular (PE+KE) is homogeneous and there is thus a temperature gradient. This was ignored by James Hansen who (rather like Henny Penny) thought the backradiation falling out of the sky was what was raising the surface temperature 33 degrees, whereas the force of gravity had already done so by establishing a state of maximum entropy with its associated temperature gradient.

    • Curious George

      Please re-read the Second Law.

      • Atmospheric Physicist

        Maybe you should – try http://entropylaw.com/entropy2ndlaw.html for starters. I have written two peer-reviewed papers on the Second Law. What qualifications do you have in physics?

      • Curious George

        AP dear, your link is definitely for starters only. But even it says that an entropy of a closed system always increases. The maximum entropy production “law” is hypothesized and unproven – or proven only under special circumstances.

      • Atmospheric Physicist

        And your qualifications in physics, CG are? Without maximum entropy being a reality there would be no stability in the density gradient in a planet’s troposphere, such being thermodynamic equilibrium with, by definition, maximum entropy. Maybe even Wikipedia will help your understanding of thermodynamics.

      • Curious George

        Thanks, AP. To learn about a maximum entropy production, see Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General Volume 36 Number 3
        2003 J. Phys. A: Math. Gen. 36 631 doi:10.1088/0305-4470/36/3/303
        http://arxiv.org/abs/cond-mat/0005382v3 (h/t Berényi Péter).

  51. The point of the climate change movement is to cut or eliminate fossil fuel emissions. With that in mind, the debate is not really what the temperature is but whether changes in atmospheric CO2 and changes in surface temperature can be related to fossil fuel emissions. This relationship is established by climate science as a correlation between “cumulative” fossil fuel emissions and “cumulative” atmospheric CO2 and also between “cumulative” fossil fuel emissions and “cumulative” atmospheric CO2. These correlations are spurious because correlations between cumulative values can be shown to be spurious as demonstrated in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUvLoE5v0yQ
    The left panel shows the correlation between two sets of random numbers and the right panel shows the correlation between their cumulative values. The video demonstrates that integration of unrelated variables can yield spurious correlations. It can be shown that the finding by climate science that surface temperature and atmospheric CO2 are correlated with “cumulative” fossil fuel emissions are spurious because there is no correlation between the rate of fossil emissions and the rate of warming http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2662870 and no correlation between the rate of fossil fuel emissions and the rate of change in atmospheric CO2 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2642639

    I think that the bottom line is that the much larger natural flows in the carbon cycle as well as changes in the total mass of the biota are really neither measurable not quantifiable. Without that information it is not possible to assess the effect of the relatively tiny flows of fossil fuel emissions. Even using the IPCC’s very optimistically low estimates of uncertainty in natural flows, it can be shown that the effect of fossil fuel emissions is undetectable http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2654191

    • With that in mind, the debate is not really what the temperature is but whether changes in atmospheric CO2 and changes in surface temperature can be related to fossil fuel emissions.

      Well, sort of.

      There are several questions:
      1. Are fossil fuel emissions increasing the CO2 level?
      2. Is the CO2 increase warming the planet?
      3. Is the CO2 increase beneficial or harmful?
      4. Is the warming increase beneficial or harmful?

      There are several corollaries:
      A1. How much of the CO2 increase due to fossil fuels.
      A2. How much forcing has the CO2 caused?

      The answers appear to be:
      1. Yeah, probably.
      2. Yeah, probably.
      3. Beneficial
      4. Beneficial.

      A1. The increase in plant growth of 11% from 1982-2010 increase should be taking about 13 GT more carbon out of the atmosphere every year. This is much greater than the 10 GT of emissions. So the emissions have been factored out (and then some) and something else is responsible for over 80% of the CO2 increase.

      A2. A 2015 UCB study of the 2000-2010 22 PPM CO2 increase measured a 0.2 W/m2 increase in forcing so the total CO2 forcing since 1900 is around 1 W/m2. This is about 1/3 of the warming and something else did the other 2/3rds.

      The “Emissions control CO2 and global temperature like a thermostat” claim does not seem accurate or supportable

      • Atmospheric Physicist

        The correct answer to 2 (based on the laws of physics) is most definitely not. Carbon dioxide cannot and does not warm Earth’s surface. Radiation from carbon dioxide (which is only in a few bands and nothing at all like that of a blackbody with a full spectrum and standard Planck curve) cannot be just added to solar radiation and other atmospheric radiation (less outward energy losses) and the net total (about 390W/m^2) used in Stefan Boltzmann calculations to “explain” Earth’s mean surface temperature of about 288K.

        I defy any reader to set out calculations explaining a 288K mean surface temperature supposedly resulting from very variable Solar flux reaching the surface with a mean of less than 170W/m^2 when in fact you would need variable flux from a single source with a mean over 450W/m^2 striking a perfect blackbody, which is not what the surface is anyway.

      • Atmospheric Physicist | January 29, 2016 at 5:44 pm |
        The correct answer to 2 (based on the laws of physics) is most definitely not. Carbon dioxide cannot and does not warm Earth’s surface.

        Well, technically this is correct. The radiation “in transit” in the lower atmosphere will be greater. This is inarguable. Lowering the mean absorption distance (which can be tested in a lab) increases the amount of energy “in transit”. The temperature of a gas by definition is the amount of in transit energy.

        So all things being equal the lowest layer of the atmosphere will radiate a little more IR. All things are never equal.

        The UCB study measured 0.2 W/m2 more downwelling IR over 11 years in Oklahoma and Alaska. It is possible some of it was UHI. But they are rural sites and most of the measurement is legit.

        So there is more downwelling IR. More IR incident to the surface in most cases warms the planet if nothing else changes.

    • > There cannot be a relationship between temperatures and CO2 (or fossil fuels) because the only difference between CO2 and oxygen and nitrogen is its minor radiation in a few spectral bands.

      Citation needed for the Contrarian Matrix:

      http://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com

    • Willard: I’m surprised you don’t know this all ready. Cutting edge stuff, really.
      http://principia-scientific.org/publications/PSI_Miatello_Refutation_GHE.pdf
      Trust me, I’m a scientologist
      http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01532/tomato_1532615i.jpg

  52. What is the only thing a died in the wool climatist could do to warm us over? The climatist could warn us against his models! The climatist could tell us about the crusade and how all harkened only to what the most profound prophets among them said and, while being unable to unhear it all today, the climatist would have the courage to color doctrinal truth with this sincerest of admissions: We believed we were right but we were not!

  53. I will repeat here my call for a forum on a Restart of Climate Science.

    Ideally consisting of non-involved disinterested climate scientists, physicists, mathematicians, geologists, atmospheric scientists, oceanic scientists, statisticians, mathematicians — you get the idea.

    Start with the premise that we know nothing about the past or future states of the Earth Climate. Pretend, if you like, that we have just stumbled upon this planet and are curious about how its climate works.

    Formulate then what we would want to know, how we could come to know that, what physical characteristics of the Earth Climate should be measured to inform us, how we might measure them, how we would test the measurements thus made to discover their probable true meaning or significance.

    Hypothesize CO2-induced Global Warming, if they like, and with a “produced from physics” hypothesis, determine how it might be possible to test the hypothesis with a true Popper-esque Risky Test.

    Really, I’m sure the more expert readers here could put together better outline of what might be meant by a Restart of Climate Science….anyone want to collaborate on an essay to this effect?

    I can be contacted by email at my first name at the domain-name the letter i and the numeral 4 decimal net.

      • Steve,

        “Maoist”

        Is that humor or poo-throwing (of an unusually odd kind)? In the climate wars it’s often difficult to tell when people are being funny, serious, or quite mad.

        I wonder if it matters, since the “debate” seems to have become a matter of self-expression — like fire-flies blinking to each other — rather than a question of vital public policy. Which implies that the participants do not care about the policy outcomes, or the climate outcomes, any more than they do about a game of Minecraft or fantasy football.

        If so (who can say?), it would explain the disinterest of both sides in a fair test.

      • “Maoist”? — a comment from far left field. Perhaps too much second-hand “Berkeley-smoke”?

        Maybe there are two persons (personalities?) using the ‘Steven Mosher’ identity to comment here and around the web — one a nasty-little-‘tweenager leaving troll-scat comments and one a disgruntled, ill-mannered, yet considered-by-some brilliant numbers man (whom, I have heard from trusted sources, is actually a nice guy face-to-face.).

        The worst case would be that they are actually the same person.

      • Maoism is a peasants revolt, that you are advocating. That is given the premise that the consensus is the bourgeois establishment and the skeptics are peasants. Simple like that.

        Kip:
        “Maybe there are two persons (personalities?) using the ‘Steven Mosher’ identity to comment here and around the web — one a nasty-little-‘tweenager leaving troll-scat comments and one a disgruntled, ill-mannered, yet considered-by-some brilliant numbers man (whom, I have heard from trusted sources, is actually a nice guy face-to-face.).”

        Yeah it’s the same dude that Moshes numbers (and calls it science). He is nice but doesn’t have time for idle chit chat from false worshipers. He reads and them and then pontificates to his own satisfaction. He would think it a great sign of respect to give you the time of day and show you the error of your ways with simplistic one liners. Love is respect and due diligence peppered with humor of the obscure variety without wasted words. You should feel so honored!

      • Kip,

        Mosher’s comments show him to be more than a “considered-by-some brilliant numbers man”. Many of his observations and insights are imo brilliant, in addition to his analytical skill. But, as we see here, many of his comments are … odd.

        This is a common phenomenon of our time. For reasons I don’t understand (over my pay grade), people frequently see existential threats — and as we often do, become unbalanced by them. The brilliant science fiction author Robert Heinlein lost his grip in the face of the Soviet nuclear threat, as so many did in the 1950s (with unfortunate results).

        In the 50 thousand comments on the FM website since 2006 I have seen waves of these. Jihadists were going to destroy us unless we tortured, occupied, and killed. In 2005-2010 peak oil was going to end civilization. More recently there was Ebola…

        “Maybe it will all work out ok, but if you catch Ebola just remember your nice article calling anyone concerned chicken little as your lungs fill with fluid, and your shitting and vomiting blood.”
        By Sam, October 14.

        Now its all about climate change, about which people misrepresent the science to manufacture nightmares.

        The common characteristic of these is that they pass and the foolish things said during them are mercifully forgotten.

      • Kip,

        Mosher’s comments show him to be more than a “considered-by-some brilliant numbers man”. Many of his observations and insights are imo brilliant.

        This is a common phenomenon of our time. For reasons I don’t understand (over my pay grade), people frequently see existential threats — and as we often do, become unbalanced by them. The brilliant science fiction author Robert Heinlein lost his grip in the face of the Soviet nuclear threat, as many did. In the 50 thousand comments since 2006 on the FM website I have seen waves of these. Unless we tortured, occupied, and killed — jihadists were going to destroy us. In 2005-2010 peak oil was going to end civilization. More recently there was Ebola…

        “Maybe it will all work out ok, but if you catch Ebola just remember your nice article calling anyone concerned chicken little as your lungs fill with fluid, and your sh***ing and vomiting blood.”
        By Sam, October 14.

        Now about climate change, about which people misrepresent the science to manufacture nightmares.. The common characteristic of these is that they pass and the foolish things said during them are mercifully forgotten.

      • “I will repeat here my call for a forum on a Restart of Climate Science.”

        “Maoist”

        Is that humor or poo-throwing (of an unusually odd kind)? In the climate wars it’s often difficult to tell when people are being funny, serious, or quite mad.

        #####################

        It’s humor. But I remain amused when I see folks who seem to be conservative issue calls for revolutions of sort.

        Its also funny when guys call for do overs or want debate mulligans.

        I have said it before so I will say it again.

        Climate science itself tells us we cannot do anything about the next 20-30 years or so of weather. Its in the pipeline. THAT is an argument FOR adaptation. we need to at least prepare for the weather of the past, because for the next 30 years we are sure to get that or something worse. Thanks for promoting this idea. I appreciate it.

        Skeptics never picked up this sword. And now they whine beause they are losing the practical debate to a pen and phone.

        Climate science itself tells us sensitivity is uncertain. To date ony one or two have picked up that sword ( Nic Lewis ) to actually join the debate and do science. The other skeptics debated the 2nd law of thermo, or ran around screaming fraud, or engaged in cycle mania.

        And now you want a re start? a do over? a mulligan?
        As a conservative I find these attempts to change the rules after you lost to be unprincipled.

      • “He would think it a great sign of respect to give you the time of day and show you the error of your ways with simplistic one liners.”

        durr– ya.

        Kip is actually one of my favorite writers.
        doing a one word drive by — popping his lovely balloon — is
        rather like counting coup.

        he needs a ghost shirt.

      • The public do not believe the climate scientists, Steven. About 97% of the folks are not scared of AGW. The do-over is necessary to check the research.

        If the climate science establishment really believes that AGW is a great danger and they are confident in their science, they should jump at the chance to submit themselves to inspection to clear up the doubts. If the planet and humankind are in great danger, the altruist and self-sacrificing climate scientists should be willing to show all of their work and give up their freaking emails.

    • Kip

      “I will repeat here my call for a forum on a Restart of Climate Science. Ideally consisting of non-involved disinterested climate scientists…”

      Too late!

      The disinterested are not interested.

      The lines have been drawn, the trenches dug, and between the two is no-mans land!

      The interested will protect their interests and the battle will rage on.

      It’s all over but the voting!

      Get off your rump and stump for Trump! ;)

      • Humor I understand!… Thanks for this.

        My perception is that the two sides have faced off over a worthless no-man’s-land of inappropriate and non-informative much-contested metrics, thus most of the resources available for serious research are being wasted like cannon-fodder-boy-soldiers, sent “over the top” to win a few yards of well-churned battlefield mud.

        Has the entire field gotten off on the wrong foot down the wrong path?

      • Kim,

        Yes, truth wrapped in humour. :)

        Once an issue has been politicized, in our two party system, there is no turning back.

        In the case of climate “science” induced policy, we have asymmetric warfare. On one side is the media, the government, the “renewables” industry, the climate academia (Judith is an outlier) the environmental NGO’s, and the political left. Some are cynical opportunists and others are true-believers. On the other side is a loosely associated gaggle of skeptics (including me) united only in their opposition to climate “science” inspired policies. The skeptics, lampooned and pilloried in the media, are underfunded by about 2 orders of magnitude and are losing the battle. The outcome of the war will not be known in our, or even in our grandchildren’s, lifetime.

        I am a hard-core, stem-trained, environmentalist shocked and disgusted by the lame, slack-jawed coverage of the issues in the media. I am not surprised by the willing belief of the public, most of whom were frustrated by fractions and mystified by algebra and haven’t read a book since graduating from high-school. Many have been overcome by the availability bias after watching Gore’s advertisement, disguised as a documentary, and the never-ending rants from Hollywood narcissists and left-wing politicos.

        All of the above is just my opinion, subject to my unique bias, but here is a fact:

        California went “all-in” for warming narrative, including voting Democrats into every statewide office, a train to nowhere, penetration targets for renewables, and a carbon tax on transportation fuels. The result:

        USA avg price for gasoline (yesterday) : $1.82 US
        California avg price for gasoline: $2.62 US

        Most of that price difference is due to the regressive carbon tax. Every low-income person in CA pays an extra $0.80/gal for gasoline. That hurts people. There was even public discussion, covered in the media, to add another tax at the pump, during the period of low prices, which would be masked by the periodic uptick in prices during the seasonal fuel mix switchover.

        If it weren’t for the consequences for policy, nobody, including me, would care about climate science anymore than we care about the veracity of string theory.

      • justinwonder,

        It’s not just higher gasoline prices.

        http://imgur.com/CaMmpnj

  54. Regarding needing a risky prediction. Let’s say hypothetically a leadin g scientist with a model back in 1975 predicted the current warming with realistic emissions, and then in 1981 a different leading scientist provided another almost accurate prediction that we would be at warm temperatures today with continuing emissions. Both of these were predicting global mean temperatures not seen in the temperature record. Would you accept those on their face as successful risky predictions validating the effects of GHGs, and if not why not?

    • Jim.

      (1) What are “realistic emissions” in 1975? I recall that the change in trend of aerosol emissions was substantial during that period, as the clean air regs took effect in the developed nations.

      (2) Contrast your scenario with another and clearer one: a statistician — knowing nothing of GHG or AGW — in 1975 predicts that the warming trend from 1880 – 1950 would continue through 2015. As shown in the NOAA graph in this post, that would have been impressive — since temperatures were far below the trend at that point. But its a naive prediction, not a risky one.

      Do we give more credit to climate scientists making the same prediction at the same time (and there were many predicting warming)?

      IMO neither are “risky” predictions of the kind providing definitive evidence for public policy decisions.

      • This is about testing hypotheses, not statistical extrapolations with no theory behind them, which amounts to numerology. Popper wasn’t talking about statistical extrapolations.
        Let’s say this 1975 scientist predicted 403 ppm in 2010, say, and a 1.1 C temperature increase since pre-industrial (2/3 of which was after 1975), where what we have today is 400 ppm and 1 C. Successful and risky prediction? I think so.

      • Jim D, can I help you here again? The way science a la Popper works is that you falsify things. Having a prediction coming right “validates” nothing.

      • … perhaps “proves” is more appropriate than “validates”.

      • Jim and HAS,

        I think we have gone as far as possible without you reading what Popper said. Both of your misunderstand it. See the 1600 word excerpt at the end of this post.

      • A prediction 40 years ahead of temperatures not seen before in the temperature record is a risky prediction that followed from a theory that was well enough known in 1975. If you are going to move the posts on what you mean by a risky prediction, you need to define what would be needed. You only balk in this case because you don’t like that this particular risky predictions came out right, and supports something you still think is wrong. A theory should be given credit for its risky predictions that worked.

      • HAS, of course a risky prediction is falsifiable. This is why it gives more credibility to the theory when it comes out right. It could have gone horribly wrong if the temperatures just stayed within the 20th century range, but annual temperatures have risen by many standard deviations of their previous variability.

      • My statement followed exactly from what looked like your preferred method which was to “test models from the past 4 Assessment Reports using observations from our past but their future.” Taking models from pre-IPCC days is even better than that, isn’t it?

      • David Springer

        @HAS

        No. Popper concluded that a valid scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable at least in principle. If it makes no falsifiable predictions then in effect it explains everything i.e. no data will prove it false so it remains tentatively true forever. Thus his famous saying:

        “‘A theory that explains everything explains nothing.” ~Karl Popper

        So climate models really need to make some predictions that can be falsified in some reasonable period of time. The pause is not quite enough yet given there’s an outside possibility of it happening for twenty years. It sure made the AGW hypothesis look like a grand exaggeration to say the least. Climategate didn’t help it either nor does the continuous pencil whipping of instrument records to cool the past so the present looks warmer. There’s simply too much contrary evidence and evidence of data tampering for credibility to rise.

        Read more:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Karl_Popper#The_criterion_of_demarcation

      • David Springer

        Since it isn’t practical to wait to see if 100-years in the future predictions come to pass we can get the same thing by the model being able to predict observations made 100-years in the past. But in order to do that the model must be blinded to the past i.e. no tuning allowed. The only data available to develop the model would be forcing history. From that it must construct a temperature history. A simple variation on the common “blind experiment” that is conducted in other disciplines to avoid bias.

      • David Springer

        “If it makes no falsifiable predictions then in effect it explains everything i.e. no data will prove it false so it remains tentatively true forever. ”

        You (and Fabius) miss the subtlety. If it makes falsifiable predictions, but fails to be falsified then it remains, ironically “tentatively true forever” (and if you run out of falsifiable predictions and it remains falsified then you have an falsifiable theory).

        I was dealing with Jim D’s suggestion that if you find a confirming case you have established your theory.

      • I’ll try that again: “(and if you run out of falsifiable predictions and it remains unfalsified then you have an unfalsifiable theory)”

      • Jim D: This is about testing hypotheses, not statistical extrapolations with no theory behind them, which amounts to numerology. Popper wasn’t talking about statistical extrapolations.

        In reverse order: (1) it is seldom clear from Popper’s writing what does and does not count, for him, as a severe test or “risky” prediction;

        (b) surely a scientific theory ought to be more accurate in the long run than statistical extrapolations with no theory behind them; on the other hand, such things work well in insurance and (less well) econometric forecasting. Scafetta has publiished a statistical model according to which the Earth now has been warming just about “on time”. Surely a scientific theory ought to make a better prediction than that over the next 3 decades if it is to be taken seriously as a model for public policy planning.

      • This posting is about Popper and what constitutes a testable theory, and it does him a disservice to count statistical extrapolation as a theory. A theory would not only relate something to warming, like the inverse number of pirates, but would also have an idea of why that is so. Statistical extrapolation is an even worse mistake than correlation is causation, because it just says it will warm because it has been warming on some carefully selected time scale. No science, just numerology on the temperature series.

    • Fabius Maximus: Read point (6).

      • For point (6) how would you try to falsify the idea that increasing GHGs lead to warming? In their models they turn off just the GHG increase and find that there is no other pathway to the warming. This is a common test to this day. It falsifies the null hypothesis that GHGs don’t lead to that much warming.

    • JimD

      Did you win the CE posting title for 2015?

    • JimD

      The fatal flaw in all of this is the notion of what a “risky” prediction is.
      Popper’s definition is operationally flawed, it’s not even quantifiable.

      The issue is pretty simple. We would like guidance on what the future will be.

      In modelling terms there are three different approaches:

      A) pure statistical approaches
      B) Physics based modelling
      C) Semi empirical approaches.

      In most uncertain disciples analysts might look at all three. And they would simply indicate the relative skill of each against the NAIVE forecast that the future will be like the present. A good decision support analyst would reference all three ( if possible ) and would present the pros and cons of each and CYA.

      • The risky prediction argument is more relevant for attribution. If the AGW hypothesis is correct, then you would expect to see substantial amplification of the warming trend relative to the early 20th century, and the 19th century. There has been a little amplification. To predict continued warming, in the face of an overall 200 year warming trend, does not in any way vindicate AGW hypothesis. Lenny Smith showed that a naive data based model (nothing to do with AGW) was doing a better job of prediction on decadal scales than the climate models
        http://www.lse.ac.uk/CATS/Publications/Publications%20PDFs/Suckling-and-Smith-2013.pdf

      • dikranmarsupial

        ” To predict continued warming, in the face of an overall 200 year warming trend, does not in any way vindicate AGW hypothesis.”

        When Hansen et al made their prediction in 1981, they didn’t make it in the face of an overall 200 year warming trend, they made it after a 35 year “hiatus” with no statistically significant warming (1945-1980) which followed a 35 year period of warming 1910-1945.

        http://woodfortrees.org/graph/gistemp/to:1945/plot/gistemp/from:1945/to:1980/plot/gistemp/from:1980

        (1910 and 1945 dates picked by jcurry, 1980 represents a realistic end of analysis period for a paper published in 1981).

        ” If the AGW hypothesis is correct, then you would expect to see substantial amplification of the warming trend relative to the early 20th century, and the 19th century.”

        On what basis?

      • JC, thank you for a weekend of reading. Hopefully I’ll understand half of it ;-)

      • Dr. Curry: The problem is that we don’t know when the anthropogenic climate signal started to overwhelm the natural variation signal. The M-cycles presented on this thread speculate we should still be in the LIA, therefore the amplification could be masked. These are all nice academic trivialities.

        It’s time to stop pooping all over ourselves.

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/09/16/jason_box_s_research_into_greenland_s_dark_snow_raises_more_concerns_about.html

      • curryja: Lenny Smith showed that a naive data based model (nothing to do with AGW) was doing a better job of prediction on decadal scales than the climate models

        Thank you for the link.

      • If the AGW hypothesis is correct, then you would expect to see substantial amplification of the warming trend relative to the early 20th century, and the 19th century. There has been a little amplification.

        Dr. Curry do you think these two trends look similar?

        http://temporary-link-x-use-i-dot-snaggy-for-hotlinking-x-3295a434ffc3.snag.gy/HNmby.jpg

        http://temporary-link-x-use-i-dot-snaggy-for-hotlinking-x-3295a434ffc3.snag.gy/K0iv0.jpg

      • For one thing, due to the Temperature to the fourth term, it takes more and more energy to continue a trend, so if the current trend continues indefinitely, then you have either AGW or no AGW depending on which metric you are using.

        Although the satellites have recorded three consecutive warmest months, so they may be coming around, though if you correct for ENSO and other variables they seem to correlate nicely with GISS, see Tamino.

        But what would change your mind?

        If I saw GISS temperatures flat from 2000 to 2030, I will change my tune.
        Or an Arctic sea ice minimum above 5 million sq. kilometers.

        If GISS or even one of the satellites trend goes past 0.2 C per decade over 30 years would you change your mind?

        Give a risky prediction that would change your mind.

      • http://berkeleyearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/land-and-ocean-sea-ice-comparison-1950-large-1024×788.png

        Joseph, your charts treat arctic sea ice as land. Land doesn’t melt in the summer.

      • The assumption of a 200-year warming trend is a bit shaky in the first place. There was no statistically significant warming in the 19th century according to the 95% confidence limits for BEST-land, and I know of no other attempts to get the whole 19th century trend. Anyway, there was a multi-millennial cooling trend according to paleo estimates, and those agree with the theory of Milankovitch. One example here shows that it is significant. Milankovitch would have expected a continuation, not a warming.
        http://www.realclimate.org/images//Marcott.png
        So, in summary we have two theories explaining this time series: those of Milankovitch and Arrhenius. No further explanation is needed, so science moved on, except in some blog circles.

      • PA

        “Joseph, your charts treat arctic sea ice as land. Land doesn’t melt in the summer.”

        Boy did you misunderstand that chart. Sorry. If you want an explanation I will let you know..

        ahh well here goes

        1. Ocean is always treated as Ocean. So when Ice melts we have
        Ocean temps.
        2. The question we asked was this ” How do we handle the AREA over Ice. There are two Options

        A) USE the temperature of the water UNDER THE ICE and put it
        in the SST Fields. Why? That temperature is constant..

        B) Pretend the Ice is land and compute the temperature of the air over ICE as if it were land ( its a function of latitude and altitude)

        So you can see the SENSITIVITY to this CHOICE in how to treat
        ICE.. Since the global index adds SAT and SST the question
        is what do you do when you have ICE?
        Add the temperature of the water below the ice to SST
        estimate the air temp over the ice as if it were land

        see the two answers? choose and defend one

      • David Springer

        bobdroege | January 29, 2016 at 6:02 pm |

        “If GISS or even one of the satellites trend goes past 0.2 C per decade over 30 years would you change your mind?”

        Yes. As measured by lower troposphere temperature from satellite MSU instruments. Starting in the year 2000 when the AMDO was peaking on the warm side. After 16 years into that 30-year window there is no significant rise in lower troposphere temperature measured by satellites. If there’s 0.6C+ of warming in the next 14 years I will be persuaded. After that I need to see a credible impact study showing net effect of higher CO2 is worse than the cost of doing something about it. Given there’s been no increase in severe weather, sea level not rising fast enough to cause widespread harm, no great harm found from ocean acidification, along with rising agricultural output and earth getting greener, and the huge dependence on affordable energy in bringing living standards everywhere up to that enjoyed by the western world, it appears that the benefits of fossil fuel use vastly outweigh any adverse consequences. Thus my only real concern is that fossil fuel supply is finite and we need alternatives that are, preferably, at least as affordable if not more so.

      • UAH was giving a strong warming trend until they adjusted it. WfT still has the old version. RSS for reference is closer to what the new UAH does. They must have been embarrassed to make such an adjustment and that WfT still displays their old one.
        http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/from:1997.5/trend:120/plot/rss/from:1997.5/trend

      • David Springer

        Old or new UAH doesn’t make any significant difference to my points.

      • Jim D | January 29, 2016 at 9:44 pm

        Jimbo, how many times has it to be pointed out to you – including links to skepticalscience – that the Marcott hockey stick is totally discredited and even Marcott himself has categorically stated that the graph you keep on posting is not representative of 20th century temperature?

        Do you have learning difficulties?

      • They only complained about the spike at the end because they don’t believe the temperature in the proxies show it. Luckily we also have thermometers that show it too (red line supports the spike). I never understood that complaint. The main part of the Marcott plot is the trend over the past few thousand years and there have been no problems mentioned about that part. It was one of those mud-slinging exercises where they hoped by attacking the modern temperature added for a press release, they could discredit the paper itself. I show it for the long-term trend. You can get the spike from other sources if you want.

      • JimD, One of the reasons I keep coming back to Climate Etc. is the humor, you rarely let me down :)

      • I think the skeptics are humorous. UAH is the best temperature data we’ve got, oops, let’s adjust the trend 100% down, OK, now it’s the best. Hilarious.

      • David Springer

        Steven Mosher | January 29, 2016 at 10:36 pm |

        “Add the temperature of the water below the ice to SST
        estimate the air temp over the ice as if it were land
        see the two answers? choose and defend one”

        I choose lower troposphere temperature measured by satellites. No need to quibble over what kind of surface lies beneath it.

        Thanks for playing but please play harder next time.

      • David Springer

        Jimmy D, whoever you are, I’ve consistently used RSS so as to avoid having to listen to religious aspersions cast upon scientists responsible for UAH. I used both this time because it was you and I know you’ve taken quite a fancy to UAH since it has a slightly greater recent trend.

        The bottom line however remains that my point is supported by RSS and/or the older UAH and/or the newer UAH as they all show a trend since 1998 below the significance level of 0.1C/decade and they all show a 37-year trend under 1.5C/century. All satellite MSU records data show a “hiatus” and they all show a trend that will not breach the dreaded 2C total warming by the year 2100. Those are my points and they remain undisputed.

        Write that down.

      • JimD, “I think the skeptics are humorous. UAH is the best temperature data we’ve got, oops, let’s adjust the trend 100% down, OK, now it’s the best. Hilarious.”

        No UAH/RSS are lower troposphere estimates which is what the models actually try to project. There was a recent paper that pointed out that comparing surface temperature to modeled tas was apples and oranges. That was pretty funny since that has been an issues since FOREVER.

        Now we have the land or sea sea ice adjustment. Land as sea ice gives you a larger anomaly trend but a lower absolute temperature and all that silly physics stuff should be based on the absolute temperature thingy. That is funny as all heck to me :)

  55. The other statement that is hard to support in this article is that the background trend was upwards. If you look at the long-term record, it was downwards, including over the last 2000 years with the LIA being colder than any time since the Ice Age recovery. In fact this downward trend is understood in terms of Milankovitch cycles which also predict continued cooling for more millennia, so any warming prediction would be considered risky with that background, assuming no one knew about the effects of GHGs, of course.

    • The rebound from the LIA defies falsification. It could get cold for as long as 18 years, even longer, and LIA rebound theory rebounds every time. Seems like they could have come up with a more appropriate name.

      • …and it defies Milankovitch which actually is a theory. The skeptics put it on an equal footing even though it is not even a hypothesis. They need to look at Popper a bit more.

    • Jim,

      The relevant trend was the strong warming since 1880. Yes, over longer time horizons there are different trends, up to the cooling since the big bang.

      • There was strong cooling until 1910 too. These could be natural variation. Why do you consider the warming more important than the cooling in that period? The 1910 decade could have been colder than at any time since the early 1800’s, so that century was quite flat, and those two periods are marked by low solar activity.

      • Every time I see a graph where the temp jumps just before 1910, I jump along with it.

        Terrifying stuff this climate change, but I think I have the answer to what has caused our post-1909 warming (please suspend all skepticism just long enough to believe that min/max isn’t utterly mangled by cloud and other factors).

        1909. Bakelite.

        Do I have to draw you all a picture?

        BIG BAKELITE.

        – And Then There’s Cloud

    • David Springer

      This interglacial is unusual in that the Younger Dryas came along and stopped the Greenland Ice Sheet from melting down. Sea level in the Holocene interglacial (so far) topped out 9 meters below normal. This appears to have had the effect of delaying the long slow drop in temperature into the next glacial epic. So there is no long term downward trend yet associated with Milankovitch-timed glaciations and your comment, relying on that non-existent downward trend for its conclusion, is mistaken as usual.

      https://en.wiki2.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f8/Ice_Age_Temperature.png/im344-Ice_Age_Temperature.png

      • So maybe you don’t believe in the 65 N forcing idea of Milankovitch. It is on a downward trend, same way the temperature is (was).
        http://www.donsmaps.com/images28/insolationiceages.jpg

      • Springer, did you forget about the apsidal precession?

        http://theinconvenientskeptic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/LI-End-of-Eemian.png

      • David Springer

        None of the four interglacials cycles preceding the Holocene have a noisy flat top on them. All four peaked 2C to 4C higher than the Holocene. Greenland became ice-free and sea level some 27 feet higher in the preceding interglacials.

        There is no downward trend established yet for the Holocene. It remains locked in a flat noisy plateau about 3C cooler than the four interglaicals preceding it.

        These are observations not hypotheses. Deal with the facts please.

      • Jim D:

        So maybe you don’t believe in the 65 N forcing idea of Milankovitch. It is on a downward trend, same way the temperature is (was).

        Your graphic is originally from Shakun (2012) which was an attempt to correlate CO2 with end of glacial temperatures. Therefore, the study’s data stopped several thousand years ago, as do the Milankovitch curves on your graphic.

        As ordvic hints, several factors go into orbital forcing of the climate system. Yet even when we can precisely calculate orbital forcing for a given date it does not reveal to us exactly what that date’s climate is. The inherent complexities of the ocean-atmospheric (and ice sheet) climate system is such that computing a single global temperature anomaly does not reveal the exact climate impacts on all temporal or spatial scales. I suppose that’s why it leaves us so much room for argument.

        Absent the application of statistical smoothing, climate trends fluctuate in jagged, stair-stepping fashion. Up, down and sideways. In other words, we may not know the true ramifications of increasing GHG for, perhaps, decades to come.

        All I really know is that it’s complicated.

        From Wikipedia:

        Currently the Earth is tilted at 23.44 degrees from its orbital plane, roughly halfway between its extreme values. The tilt is in the decreasing phase of its cycle, and will reach its minimum value around the year 11,800 CE ; the last maximum was reached in 8,700 BCE. This trend in forcing, by itself, tends to make winters warmer and summers colder (i.e. milder seasons), as well as cause an overall cooling trend.

    • Jim D,

      “In fact this downward trend is understood in terms of Milankovitch cycles which also predict continued cooling for more millennia, so any warming prediction would be considered risky with that background, assuming no one knew about the effects of GHGs, of course.”

      FWIW, I agree

      • David Springer

        Milankovich is a hypothetical explanation for interglacial timing. It has unresolved problems.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles#Problems

        Even if the problems didn’t exist it doesn’t predict the peak temperature nor the length of interglacial periods. The fact remains that the Holocene interglacial is different than the four that preceded it in that it peaked in a several thousand year (and counting) plateau that is a few degrees C cooler than the spiked peaks of previous interglacials.

        Deal with the facts not your own personal predictions based on what you think should happen. What you think should be happening is disputed by observations. For Jimmy D that’s understandable as AGW is based upon hypotheses that have failed to explain what is actually observed.

      • Milankovitch is considered to be scientific theory. The fact that the eccentricity, axial tilt and precession can explain the difference in temperature and range of interglacial periods.

        “[3] During the peak of the last interglacial, eccentricity was much greater than today (0.0394 as compared to 0.0167) and, in fact, greater than at any other time during the past 150,000 a, and perihelion (longitude of perihelion with respect to vernal equinox: 95.41° as compared to 282.04°) took place in northern summer (June) instead of northern winter (January). Obliquity, the tilt of the Earth’s axis (24.04° as compared to 23.45°) was also slightly greater than today (all orbital element data are for 127,000 a BP and AD 1950, respectively [Berger, 1978]). The near-minimum precession during the Eemian (perihelion was quite close to the summer solstice, 90°) enhanced the seasonality in the northern hemisphere and weakened it in the other (Figure 1; Tuenter et al., [2002]). The difference in obliquity added another small contribution to these seasonal insolation changes, by strengthening the contrast between the hemispheres during summer and winter, anti-symmetrical to the equator. A stronger seasonal contrast might therefore be expected for Eemian climate records from the northern hemisphere.”

        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2002GL016275/full

      • I didn’t phrase that well:

        The fact that the eccentricity, axial tilt and precession … ARE NOT IN SYNC.

      • David Springer

        Observations trump theory. The Holocene interglacial has yet to begin cooling contrary.

        Please deal with facts and predictions as different things. Conflating observations and predictions is what global warming junkies do wrong. I expect it of Jim D but not some others.

        The fact is that orbital eccentricities Milankovitch uses to explain the timing of glacial cycles have been a characteristic of the earth for billions of years but the ice age characterized by glacial/interglacial cycles has only been happening for the past few million years. Moreover, during those scant few million years the cycle length was predominantly 45,000 years not the current 100,000 years. The 100ky cycle time has only been happening for the past 1 million years.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_temperature_record

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Five_Myr_Climate_Change.png

        The $64,000 question is then, keeping in mind orbital eccentricity did not change, what did change 3 million years ago to cause the temperature drop into an ice age and what happened 1 million years ago to change the cycle time from 41ky to 100ky.

        You boys are assigning too much climate change causality to orbital eccentricity. It has only been correlated with climate change for a few million out of billions of years.

        GIven you can’t explain why for the vast majority of earth’s history orbital eccentricity did not cause climate change then it’s weak tea when you use it to predict future change. For all you know the Holocene interglacial may be the end of the ice age.

        Get back to me when you know more and are prepared to treat observations and predictions separately.

  56. Just so everyone knows what criteria TPTB want to apply,
    one should scrutinize the Earth Charter carefully.
    eg

    Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.

    Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
    Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
    Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
    Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
    Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.
    http://earthcharter.org/discover/the-earth-charter/

  57. When yr guvuh-mint adopts policies that cost $$$$$$…
    $$$$$$$ … yer’d like ter think there’s more behind them
    than phantasmagoria. Yer’d like ter think that Hammurabi
    rules apply, kinda’ like engineers sleeping under their own
    bridges, whereass yer Ehrlichean ‘n Oreskean predictors
    ain’t obliged ter sleep under the collapsed theories of their
    own construction, but keep on keeping on and costing.

  58. Pierre-Normand Houle

    There was a question that was being asked to ‘warmists’ over and over on this and other skeptical blogs up until a few months ago. The question was: How long must the pause in global warming continue before you will admit that the theory of CAGW is falsified. This question isn’t being asked anymore, for some reason. The focus now seems to have shifted to the dwindling model/obsevation discrepancy.

    • David Springer

      Pierre, the SST record predating ARGO (2003) is a joke. Almost exclusively confined to a few narrow shipping lanes, from disparate, inaccurate instruments and methods never intended for the task (water scooped up with a bucket on a rope or, possibly worse, engine cooling water intakes at different (unspecified) locations and depths on the ships.

      This laughingly spare record was “cooled” in the past through pencil whipping, a.k.a. adjustments, and thus the readings from the modern, global instrumentation, only deployed a bare 10 years, designed for the task, is made warmer in comparison. In forming a land-ocean global average temperature the ocean surface is of course weighted 71:29 in favor of water temperature because that’s the ratio of ocean to land surface.

      So phuck you very much. For *decades* RSS and UAH lower troposphere temperatures were the metric by which global warming trend was judged. Suddenly it’s not good enough anymore. Those are designed for the task for measuring GAT within a gnat’s ass, they actually cover the entire globe, and the pause is uneffected by bullsh1t SST pencil whipping.

      I believe you are bright enough to know that’s all true. The pause is alive and growing in the satellite record and there’s still no explanation for why it’s there from the usual suspects. So phuck you very much for asking into it.

      • “This laughingly spare record was “cooled” in the past through pencil whipping, a.k.a. adjustments, and thus the readings from the modern, global instrumentation, only deployed a bare 10 years, designed for the task, is made warmer in comparison. In forming a land-ocean global average temperature the ocean surface is of course weighted 71:29 in favor of water temperature because that’s the ratio of ocean to land surface.”

        The past was WARMED
        slide 6
        http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/noaa_nasa_global_analysis_2015.pdf

        or

        https://twitter.com/hausfath/status/564921572096348160

      • Steven, “The past was WARMED.”

        Was that pre Karl et al.? Hard to keep up some times.

      • They were happy to reduce the long-term warming trend a tetch, to erase.. wait for it ..
        the pause that is killing the cause.

        The Congressional oversight committee investigation will clear this up as soon as the Trump DOJ backs up their subpoena powers with enforcement power.

      • “as that pre Karl et al.? Hard to keep up some times.”

        yes it was pre karl and its a feature of all ocean products.

        In fact Karls new stuff decreases the LONG TERM TREND as well.

        But look skeptics played the card that you could read motives from the directions of adjustments.

        great skeptical minds, they.

        Now skeptics have to OWN that argument.

        No debate mulligans
        No do overs

      • steven, “But look skeptics played the card that you could read motives from the directions of adjustments.”

        Well you pretty much can. Adjustments though tend to stay inside the magic previously established uncertainty margins so it is the hype that is the issue. Warming the past, pre-1950 in the oceans at least, is consistent with biasing towards expectations and when there is a need to adjust tends to be driven by model expectations. All God’s chillin’s got biases.

      • capt.
        This whole notion of cooling the past or warming the present is silly.

        It’s part of the adjusters dilemma.

        A simple example.

        The doctor puts you on a diet

        you weigh yourself daily for a year.
        for the first 4 months you wear work boots
        for the next 4 months you wear tennis shoes
        for the last 4 months you go barefoot.

        your workboots weigh 3 lbs, your tennis shoes weigh a pound

        Now, create a CONSISTENT time series of your weight

        1. rawist philosophers will say No adjustments.. and you impose a false trend of losing weight.
        2. You could subtract the weight of foot wear and people will say you
        changed the past
        3. you could subtract the difference of boots and sneaker and add the weight of sneakers and adjust months 1-4 and 9-12

        4. you could add the differences. and now your current weight has boots built into it.

        options 2-4 are ugly but correct. each has something to be said for it.
        pragmatic decisions

      • Seems like the largest offense was monkeying with buoy data to match ship intake data.

      • Steven, “This whole notion of cooling the past or warming the present is silly.”

        Yes and no. Siting issues, UHI, suburban heat island and/or land use all combine to some small influence of say 0.15 C of say 1.0 C which would be worth something like 600 billion dollars in mitigation. “Normal” biasing as in not a conspiracy without accurately representing uncertainty can be pretty expensive. BEST land had two important features, 1) big ass uncertainty in pre industrial and 2) the unexpected DTR shift in trend. That DTR shift is most likely problems with Tmin which should indicate another source of uncertainty. Well, three actually, the global absolute land temperature estimate. btw, Marvel et al. compared to BEST “pre-industrial” could be entertaining.

        There is absolutely no need for noble cause corruption for there to be screw ups, but it helps. We are talking about some fairly big money to save the world this time around.

      • “Now, create a CONSISTENT time series of your weight”

        In your example, any weight change of three pounds or less isn’t real. And all that matters is how close you are to your goal of 20 pounds. At this point, the warm have a goal of 20 pounds, they have 1.5 pounds and they’re pulling their chins about footwear in an attempt to make the number meaningful. The doc would say it’s time to get serious.

      • Mosher

        “The doctor puts you on a die…t”

        The fallacy of your example assumes the accuracy of the measurements are the same. That is, using the same scale for each set of measurements. Of course that is wrong. Engine water intake, and the various types and depth of buckets are all different. The error scale for each set of measurements are also different. The uncertainty is large.

        There is the issue of course that you know that the the measurement was with a boot or tennis shoe or barefoot. The uncertainty is large.

        At some point, the attempt to make sense of the measurements have such a large error spread that maybe even gross generalities are not warranted.

        Just using ARGO with all its warts and forget the water bucket/engine intake past, may provide an estimate of the range and variations in sea temperatures as a place to start to design the next measurement array.

        No politically opportune pronouncements.

      • Seems like the largest offense was monkeying with buoy data to match ship intake data.

        The largest offense is thinking the above is an offense. It’s simply below-the-belt smearing.

        And Trump is a New York liberal Republican. This is hilarious.

      • JCH,

        “The largest offense is thinking the above is an offense. It’s simply below-the-belt smearing.”

        Sad but true. And perhaps unavoidable given the collapse of trust by Americans in the institutions (esp our governing institutions).

        That’s spilt milk. How do we get the public policy debate running again. 370+ comments here, and almost nobody expresses any interest in this — let alone offering suggestions. Typical was Mosher’s wish that everybody would listen to him and ignore those who disagree (” Ignore skeptics.”).

        Until something changes in this situation “hope” remains our plan.

      • Editor: How do we get the public policy debate running again.

        When has the debate ever stopped? Marcia McNutt, PhD, editor of Science Magazine, said that “The time for debate is over”, but that did not put a stop to it.

      • Don you remind me of one of the old guys in the Muppets that sat up in the gallery throwing around barbs with little to no substance. It looks like you have already decided Karl and the other NOAA goons are guilty.

      • Editor: When I say the debate is “gridlocked” and we need to “restart” it, or get it “running again” I refer to results. Yes, there is chatter and bickering. But no policy action.

        Are you rescinding your claim that the debate ended and has to be restarted? The debate may end with no action, if the public remains convinced that CO2 does not present urgent problems (or unconvinced that it does). At some point, say 2050, the best climate model may pass severe tests and forecast 0.5C warming or less over the subsequent century. I doubt that would end the debates (unless there is a clear cooling trend leading up to it), but it would support the sides in the debates who are calling for non-action against CO2.

      • @TE
        “Seems like the largest offense was monkeying with buoy data to match ship intake data.”
        1. Go look at the papers again
        2. Your comment is NOT RELEVANT to the Point. Adjustments COOL the record.

        @ Capt “Yes and no.”
        1. You side stepped the issue. Nice try
        2. My contention: When you adjust you have choices about
        which segments to adjust. Whining about cooling the past
        is silly. Some part of the series will go up. some part will go
        down. There are good arguments about which is preferred.
        “Yes and No” is not a good argument.

        @Jeffnsails85o
        “In your example, any weight change of three pounds or less isn’t real.”

        1. The question is not whether it is significant to your weight loss goal.
        2. The point is this: Adjusting means move segments of the time series up or down. That cannot be avoided. arguing about cooling
        the past is silly.

        @ Rihoo8

        “The fallacy of your example assumes the accuracy of the measurements are the same. ”

        1. Wrong. in my example the scale is perfect.
        2. I am not talking about SST adjustments
        3. I am talking about the dilemma of adjustments IN GENERAL
        4. Whining about cooling the past — or warming the past as they actually did is SILLY.
        5. Some part of the time series will be shifted when you adjust
        6. There are Good arguments to be had here. YOU didnt make one.

        And for the record

        The debate is over. folks calling for a re start admit it.

      • David Springer

        @Mosher

        No. The period cooled by Karl (2015) in order to erase “the pause” was 1998-2008. That level of detail can’t be seen in the graph you presented which goes back into the 1800’s. Try this one instead which shows the “hiatus” years with enough resolution in the vertical access to see the result.

        http://www.thegwpf.com/content/uploads/2015/07/Whitehouse-1.jpg

      • “The debate is over. folks calling for a re start admit it.”

        When an inveterate clown keeps declaring the debate to be over, you know it’s still on.

        Andrew

      • Mosher, ““Yes and No” is not a good argument.”

        It is really. The motivation to look for adjustments is one issue and the actual adjustments another. Making adjustments while staying inside acceptable error margins and using acceptable methods is defendable i.e. use a crappy method you have to adjust which sidesteps the issue of why use a crappy method to begin with.

        Climate Science has developed a cottage industry of defending crap and rationalizing motives.

      • David Springer

        @Mosher

        P.S. The satellite record of lower troposphere temperature was good enough for the usual suspects from 1979 to 2005 when it more or less agreed with their AGW predictions. As soon as it became apparent it was no longer copacetic with “the cause” it was abandoned.

        I’m not playing that game. The satellite record is still the gold standard for GAT as far as I’m concerned and the pause is alive and well it thank you very much.

        For the whole 37 year satellite temp series the warming trend is 0.12C/decade for RSS and 0.14C/decade for UAH.

        This is not an alarming rise rate as it amounts to less than the dreaded 2C if is sustained for 100 years. These are the facts. They are not credibly disputed by other instrument records. Period. Write that down.

        http://woodfortrees.org/graph/rss/every/mean:24/plot/rss/every/trend/detrend:0.455

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/every/mean:24/plot/uah/every/trend/detrend:0.527

      • David Springer

        @Mosher

        18 years of “hiatus” in UAH sat record 0.09C/decade and -0.02/decade in RSS.

        These are the facts and they are not credibly disputed by alternatives to satellite-borne instrumentation. Period. Write that down.

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/uah/last:216/mean:24/plot/uah/last:216/trend/detrend:0.164

        http://woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/last:216/mean:24/plot/rss/last:216/trend/detrend:-0.028

      • Mosher

        “3. I am talking about the dilemma of adjustments IN GENERAL”

        When combining a collection of related sets of information like temperature measurements from engine water intake, buckets and ARGO, the error of the least accurate measurements methodologies influences what can be said regarding the final product; i.e., their relatedness to one another.

        Using your analogy, all boots are not the same, all tennis shoes are not the same nor are bare feet all the same. Then measuring each using different technologies adds further to the potential errors, and, again, what can be said of the final product.

        Making adjustments to one data set, combining said adjustment with another and then another does not provide necessarily a more realistic temperature picture.

        Statistics for adjustment purposes works BEST when the data sets are the same and the assumptions about the data sets are the fewest; but you probably already knew this.

      • “No. The period cooled by Karl (2015) in order to erase “the pause” was 1998-2008. That level of detail can’t be seen in the graph you presented which goes back into the 1800’s. Try this one instead which shows the “hiatus” years with enough resolution in the vertical access to see the result.”

        Your claim was they Cooled the Past.
        That is wrong. Looking at the entire record ( you know the past)
        it shows that they warmed the past.

        For the “pause era” yes they erased the pause. Now that part of the record is in better agreement with a bouy only record, with a satellite record, and with re analysis.

        You see. Not only are you demonstrably wrong about cooling the past,
        you will soon see ( forthcoming ) that the new Karl record for the “pause” era will be shown to be in agreement with other more trusted
        records.

        Thank you for stepping into the trap.. that was fun

      • Mosher

        “There are good arguments about the adjustments. Go find one.”

        I did and you did not address it. “Measurement.”

        See. I can be just as abstract as yourself.

        Do you call this science?

      • David Springer

        Mosher waves his hands and makes a unilateral declaration of victory even after admitting the recent past (1998 – 2008) was cooled by pencil whipping in order to erase the pesky cause-killing pause.

        He ends with a “just you wait and see” it will agree with other records soon. Lovely. Plans in the work to pencil-whip other records into compliance.

        Good luck pencil-whipping the satellite record you ridiculous babbling wanabe scientist.

        P.S. I got a notification from LinkedIn asking if I know Steven Mosher, Berkely Scientist. Actually I don’t. I know Steven Mosher with an undergraduate degree in English who likes to pose as a scientist and that’s the only one. ROFLMAO

        Stop it, Steven, You are not a scientist and you’re just making an ass of yourself trying to be one.

    • The largest offense is thinking the above is an offense. It’s simply below-the-belt smearing.

      Critical thinking much?

      The older ship data tend to be higher than the newer buoy data, so naturally one must correct the buoy data.

      Hard to assess data when data monkeys change it to their liking.

      • if you correct the buoy record the complain will be: They are adjusting the more accurate device.
        if you correct the ship record the complaint will be: theya re changing the past.

        This is why focusing on which segment they adjust is silly.

        There are good arguments about the adjustments. Go find one. I will wait and see if you can figure it out.

    • Matthew,

      “When has the debate ever stopped?”

      When I say the debate is “gridlocked” and we need to “restart” it, or get it “running again” I refer to results. Yes, there is chatter and bickering. But no policy action. As Mosher said at here in 2014.:

      “We don’t even plan for the past.”

      • David Springer

        For those happy with no policy action, gridlock is a good thing. “We” don’t need to restart it.

      • David,

        “For those happy with no policy action, gridlock is a good thing. “We” don’t need to restart it.”

        Yes, there are people on both sides of the policy debate (as usual) who benefit from gridlock, in a narrow sense. History shows many cases where this minority make the polity dysfuncational, unable to address critical issues. It seldom ends well.

        But in a wider sense that is an odd stance even for those who want no climate policy action. They have their own policy goals, and a test that leads to their win would both increase their momentum and clear the decks so that their issues can be considered.

      • Yes, there are people on both sides of the policy debate (as usual) who benefit from gridlock, in a narrow sense. History shows many cases where this minority make the polity dysfuncational, unable to address critical issues. It seldom ends well.

        Well, I can do best by quoting Thoreau:

        I heartily accept the motto,—“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.

        —Thoreau, Civil Disobedience[17]

        It’s all very well (and probably true) to talk about a “dysfuncational” polity, “unable to address critical issues.” And the proportion of times it doesn’t “end[…] well” when the issue actually is critical may be low.

        But what about the much larger number of times the issue isn’t “critical”? How often does a polity that isn’t “dysfuncational” attempt to “address critical issues” that ain’t? That, also, “seldom ends well.

      • AK,

        First, that passage by Thoreau would be considered bs even in a college bull session. You omitted the part where he says “That government is best which governs not at all.” Shall we disband the police and army?

        Building infrastructure to protect against weather has been a public policy priority in the West for three thousand years — no matter what Thoreau says. Climate is just weather in motion. Civilizations that have not adapted to climate change tend to suffer, and sometimes collapse. We need answers, not displays of sel-confidence.

        Second, thank you for illustrating what I said in my concluding comment:
        http://judithcurry.com/2016/01/28/insights-from-karl-popper-how-to-open-the-deadlocked-climate-debate/#comment-761472

        People seldom quote Thoreau in serious policy discussions, such as about need for a new sewage treatment plant or flood control infrastructure. They want tests (of some sort) to determine if the advocates’ experts are correct — so that the policy debate can be resolved, and people move on to the next item.

      • People seldom quote Thoreau in serious policy discussions, such as about need for a new sewage treatment plant or flood control infrastructure.

        Wrong!

        Although usually if they actually quote it they attribute it “to either Thomas Jefferson[15] or Thomas Paine” [from the same Wiki link]. But Ronald Reagan got elected president with paraphrases of that statement.

        As an anarchist I certainly agree with the “That government is best which governs not at all” point, although even Thoreau adds the caveat “when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” I’m certainly not in favor of “disband[ing] the police and army”.

        Let me give you an example from a situation I’m very familiar with: the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act:

        At the time I was working for a large multinational bank (that had actually merged with a large insurance company ahead of the act; I won’t name it but anybody interested won’t have any trouble figuring it out). I was in IT, supporting mortgage origination, and thus kept up with the regulatory situation around risk management and the money supply. (Securitized home mortgages at the time represented the single biggest pool of “money” in the US, AFAIK.)

        Despite (as an anarchist) being opposed in principle to regulations of this (Glass–Steagall) type, I foresaw (correctly IMO) only disaster from this abrupt change. The very large corporate banks and insurance companies had been evolving for decades under the Glass–Steagall-based regulatory environment, with strong internal incentives to “push” against the regulatory barriers to action.

        With the release of this pressure, many (most AFAIK) of these large companies ended up acting in ways that benefited neither themselves nor the systemic economy.

        Analogous principles apply to “disband[ing] the police and army”. A system based on voluntary private militias might work if it had evolved in place, that certainly doesn’t mean it would work if the current controls were simply released.

      • AK,

        “But Ronald Reagan got elected president with paraphrases of that statement.”

        I stopped reading there. Fantasy is on the second aisle on the left.

      • I stopped reading there. Fantasy is on the second aisle on the left.

        I figured you were living in your own little dream world, but I hoped I was wrong.

        Guess not.

      • Building infrastructure to protect against weather has been a public policy priority in the West for three thousand years […] Civilizations that have not adapted to climate change tend to suffer, and sometimes collapse. We need answers, not displays of sel[f]-confidence.

        Actually, AFAIK the majority of cultures (“[c]ivilizations”) that have collapsed had become top-heavy with parasitic ruling “classes”. At least, that’s what the Marxist-oriented sociology I’ve read seems to conclude. (Or perhaps I’ve concluded from it.)

        I’m not against “[b]uilding infrastructure to protect against weather”, but I bet if I spent the time I could find plenty of examples of cultures creating such infrastructure without the need for formal “government”.

        OTOH, any time a hierarchical “government” has risen, part of its necessary legitimization has included taking over whatever “[b]uilding [of] infrastructure to protect against weather” was already customary (and usually expanding it).

        But the biggest issue in the “climate” debate involves the proposed supposed “urgent” need to quickly migrate away from burning fossil carbon. Proponents of such rapid migration often (AFAIK) oppose efforts to adapt to “climate change”, or prepare for such adaption, because it will detract attention from their own agenda of very rapid mitigation.

        The issues of relative risks (from “anthropogenic climate change” vs. economic destabilization) mix with issues of world government, “capitalism”, and “national” sovereignty in very complex ways. A key question is whether the risk from “anthropogenic climate change” justifies their (CAGW types’) agenda of massive socio-political realignment.

        “Fixing” climate science isn’t going to do much for debate over this issue, unless the “fixed” climate science can provide very great certainty regarding the future evolution of the climate. Which it can’t.

        OTOH as the development of technology, and the scientific study of it, continues, the increasingly apparent likelihood that the current system of “capitalism” and nationally sponsored technology development will be able to replace fossil carbon use within a few decades will probably render the whole issue moot.

        The “watermelons” will abandon “anthropogenic climate change” since it won’t further their agenda, the resistance to adaptation such as flood control, wave control, rationalization of insurance, etc. will dissipate, and people will start acting more rationally.

        A good indicator is the current break-up of the CAGW “front” into pro- and anti-nuclear factions.

      • David Springer

        Kummer, were you born an ass or did you grow into the role?

  59. Too many people confuse “prediction” with “corollary”.

    Einstein did not predict that light would deflect near stars. Light’s deflection near stars was an inherent corollary of the axioms on which GR rested. There are other corollaries that other’s found after Einstein’s passing. We would not save of these that he “failed” to make these predictions.

    This is an important distinction.

    Science is not about prediction. The sum total of Popper’s contribution to philosophy can be stated as, “A theory that explains everything, explains nothing.” However, this is due to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem (and the self-reference paradox) and not Popper’s Critical Rationalism.

  60. Multiple Voluntary Science Courts
    Roger Knights

    Here’s an initiative any college or scientific society could take that would end the gridlock. Let there be two, three, many voluntary science courts! I.e., dozens. Universities and/or scientific societies and/or think tanks and/or a collaboration of them would sponsor one or more independent science courts. Most of these courts would specialize on a single topic or group of related topics. A university’s professors would usually hear cases over the summer vacation; emeritus professors could be active year-round. Cases could be “in session” for months, as each side responds to the other side’s claims or thinks of improvements to its own case. Cases could be re-opened after two or three years, say, if important new findings or interpretations have occurred.

    Science courts specializing in the same topic could collaborate (i.e., supply judges for the same case). Everything, or almost everything, could be done over the Internet, using sophisticated software, and be archived there. Georgia Tech could be the pioneer (Judge Judy already works there!). It needn’t supply all or most of the judges—it would just supply the sponsorship, the technical infrastructure, and the initial Oomph to get things rolling. Maybe it could collaborate with the Climate Dialog site. A science court could be built on that site’s software, modifying it to include judges as part of the process.

    If one of the sponsors of a science court appointed biased judges, another sponsor could have its judges review the transcripts and issue its own decision, criticizing the prior court’s ruling. Fear of being publicly corrected in this way, and being proved wrong later in public, would tend to keep biased panels closer to the straight and narrow, and to keep universities from appointing biased members.

    In the debate over global warming, cases should be broken down to manageable subtopics, like the Hockey Stick, acidification, UHI, arctic ice, corals, storms, CO2 fertilization, peer review, bias in govt. funding and publication, purported Big Oil funding of a “well-funded, well-organized” skeptic movement, the 97% consensus, warmist predictions, the hot spot, the stratosphere, oceanic cycles, the efficacy of wind and solar power, nuclear power, extinctions, aerosols, methane, arctic permafrost, polar bears, feedbacks, isotonic adjustments, Antarctic ice shelves, the Pause, flooding and drought, snowfall, glaciers, sea level, volcanoes, wildfires, beetles, homogenization, temperature records, ocean cycles, the sun, geo-engineering, diseases, refugees, etc.

    Transcripts of these hearings could be posted on the Internet. Getting all of both sides’ arguments together online would be the greatest benefit of such courts, more than their judgments. And science fans could get hooked on reading them. The controversy would spice up the topics treated, so it might also tempt members of the public to read them (and thereby to indirectly learn more about science).

    Hearings needn’t be about socially important and hotly contested matters. They could be scientifically valuable anyway, as a way of clearing the air, getting tidbits of new ideas on the record, and getting a feeling for current thinking on a topic. These hearings would presumably be conversational and low-key. (Or maybe not!)

    Science courts are needed because there are no formal forums for extensive debate about scientific topics, especially ones where “received opinion” reigns supreme. Journals do not provide one; they are interested in findings and review papers instead.

    Universities OTOH would worry about damage to their reputation in the future if they were to endorse currently favored dogmas that had weak points that might in time prove fatal, or that competing science courts might consider to be disconfirming. So they’d be inclined to be cautious and hedge their conclusions. They’d tend to avoid hopping on bandwagons. (Importantly, their thorough findings and meticulous reasoning, with all cards on the table, would help to sink “fringe” claims too, and strengthen valid consensus POVs.)

    If multiple science courts were in existence, many erroneous claims in many fields would have been refuted, weakened (or strengthened), modified, or at least clarified, much earlier than they were. (Even if a court’s main finding were only that more research is needed in certain areas, that would be greatly beneficial.) These include claims, many still active, for and against these topics:

    SCIENCE:
    Continental drift.
    Uniformitarianism in geology.
    Raymond Dart’s important 1924 fossil (ignored by the mainstream).
    Piltdown man (skeptics were marginalized).
    Rogue waves (anecdotal reports ignored or denied by experts).
    ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT:
    Cold fusion / Low Energy Nuclear Reactions.
    Forest fire management.
    Biofuels.
    DDT.
    Acid rain.
    GMOs.
    PSYCHOLOGY:
    Psychoanalysis’s effectiveness.
    Behaviorism, which was dogma for decades in American psychology departments.
    Hypnotism.
    Lie detectors. (Pretty much settled by a scientific society’s report on the topic.)
    HEALTH:
    The government’s anti-fat, anti-salt, pro-starch nutrition advice.
    Tobacco. (I.e., science courts could have been warning about it a decade before the surgeon general’s report.)
    “Pseudo” sclerosis (denial of the reality of multiple sclerosis).
    Lyme disease (severe underestimation of the number of victims).
    Drown-proofing technique (underplayed by expert consensus).
    Heimlich hug (opposed and underplayed by expert consensus).
    Biological cause of stomach ulcers (opposed by expert consensus).
    Asbestos.
    Breast implants.
    Swine flu, SARS, Mad cow disease, Ebola.
    Vaccinations.
    Radon.
    POLITICAL-RELATED:
    Nuclear winter.
    Topics in criminology, such as gun control, the drug war, mandatory minimums, etc.

    Here are additional topics Henry Bauer thinks are not getting a fair evaluation (from his book, Dogmatism in Science and Medicine): “Unwarranted dogmatism has taken over in many fields of science: in Big-Bang cosmology, dinosaur extinction, theory of smell, string theory, Alzheimer’s amyloid theory, specificity and efficacy of psychotropic drugs, cold fusion, second-hand smoke . . . .”

    Unofficial science courts finesse the objections many people have to an officially designated court. And I sense that the time is very ripe for such science courts. There are thousands of colleges worldwide. I can easily see 0.1% (20) jumping on this—as a start! I can see it getting to 1% in five years, and becoming an established institution.

    I Googled for: “Science Court: A bibliography” and got four useful links at the top of the page:

    1. Science Courts… and Mixed Science-Policy Decisions
    http://ipmall.info/risk/vol4/spring/taskfor.htm
    The Science Court Experiment: An Interim Report*:
    (* Reprinted with permission from 193 Science 654 (1976))
    Task Force of the Presidential Advisory Group on Anticipated Advances in Science and Technology**
    (** The task force is composed of three members of the presidential advisory group — Dr. Arthur Kantrowitz (chairman), Dr. Donald Kennedy and Dr. Fred Seitz – and [16 others])

    2. The Science Court is Dead; Long Live the Science Court!
    http://ipmall.info/risk/vol4/spring/field.htm

    3, Symposium Index – The Science Court – Pierce Law Center IP Mall
    http://ipmall.info/hosted_resources/RISK_Symposium_ScienceCourt.asp

    4. The Science Court: A Bibliography. Jon R. Cavicchi*.
    http://ipmall.info/risk/vol4/spring/bibliography.htm

  61. retrograde-orbit

    Oh please, David.
    Why these hateful comments?

  62. retrograde-orbit

    The main issue I have with the post is that it assumes the cause of the gridlock is a lack of credibility of the science behind climate change.
    It’s not that simple, unfortunately.
    In reality there are 2 orthogonal issues. The climate science is one, the policies to combat it is the other. It is perfectly reasonable to accept that there is climate change yet to do nothing about t. Maybe not ethical but perfectly reasonable.
    On the other hand there is no amount of scientific evidence that would convince someone of global warming if the person insists on relying n common sense to assess it’s validity.

    • retrograde orbit,

      The climate science is one, the policies to combat it is the other. It is perfectly reasonable to accept that there is climate change yet to do nothing about t. Maybe not ethical but perfectly reasonable.

      I disagree. There is a third axis – the impacts (measured in economic terms). This is what’s important. If the impacts are insignificant or even net beneficial, then we should not be wasting money on the climate industry.

      Climate change is not problem unless you can demonstrate it is and quantify the magnitude of that problem in $. It’s definitely not dangerous, so the issue is about costs and benefits. Are GHG emissions doing more harm than good? The case has not been made. Temperature is irrelevant if you can’t convert it to impacts and estimate the costs and benefits of those impacts.

      • Peter Lang,

        What I see is that politicians give lip service to the ecology movement, but that’s about all. No politican can point a gun at his country’s economy and pull the trigger, and live (politically) to talk about it.

        We’ve certainly seen this in Latin America, first in Ecuador when Rafael Correa did an about face in regards to oil drilling in the Amazon’s Yasuni national park. Other political heads of state in Latin America followed suit.

        The poster child for the buen vivir or “circular economy” movement was Bolivia’s Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) party, which rode to victory with the election of Evo Morales in 2005.

        Bolivia, with it’s large indigenous population that retains many cultural priorities which are at odds with those which underpin Western capitialism, provided the perfect backdrop to road test the circular economy doctrine.

        But it looks like the circular economy is much more difficult to achieve in practice than in theory.

        A recent article in The Journal of Sustainable Development breaks the bad news:

        The outcomes of MAS’s rise to power have been disappointing for Bolivians and onlookers who hoped that Bolivia (and other Latin American countries undergoing similar processes) would become the site of lasting anti-capitalist experimentation for large-scale and long-term system change.

        The initial commitments by President Morales to improve well-being without replicating historically unsustainable and destructive pathways to industrial development created a politics of possibility around these proposals, as did notable redistributive economic policy measures, nationalized natural resources, constitutionalization of principles of sustainability (e.g. rights of Mother Earth, plurinationality, noneconomic conceptions of quality of life such as Buen Vivir, etc.), spearheaded regional integration through ALBA, UNASUR, CELAC, etc., and upheld environmental justice agendas in international arenas (e.g. equal but differentiated responsibilities, prior informed consent, right to development, climate debt, etc.).

        However, notwithstanding these achievements, Bolivia continues to be characterized by fiscal dependence and macroeconomic prioritization of growth-centric policies sustained by natural resource extraction.

        http://www.consiliencejournal.org/index.php/consilience/article/viewFile/448/275

  63. CO2 warms stuff and we’ve added more C02 therefore we should get extra warming as a result.This sounds more like a line of reasoning than anything else.
    The evidence supporting this line of reasoning is produced in a process that involves subjective choices. These choices almost always bolster the evidence.
    Using this, in my POV reasonable approach, to the issue, it seems reasonable to have some misgivings.

  64. To me, even one of the main headline’s misses the key points.

    What test of climate models suffices for public policy action?

    Currently climate science is a essentially just a science; climate scientists use observations, measurement, models to try and understand our climate; what physical processes are involved, what’s happened in the past, what might happen in future, what can we tell from what’s happening now, what will happen if we do X, or what will happen if Y occurs? That’s really all that scientific research is about. There are many different methods and techniques. Some are good, some turn out to be poor, some researchers are very thorough and careful, some not so much. Our understanding, and the techniques that are used typically evolve with time. At the end of the day, it’s the collective knowledge/understanding that’s important, rather than any specific detail.

    Climate scientists, however, are not typically people who go around trying to establish what they can do to better convince the public or policy makers. In a sense, this should actually – in may view at least – be discouraged. The scientific method is not there to provide a mechanism for selling your research results, it’s there to try and optimise the chance that we tend towards an understanding that is consistent with all the evidence available.

    So, as we stand now, we have an understanding (which you can get from the IPCC reports if you wish to read them) that climate change (specifically our continued emission of GHGs into the atmosphere) presents a risk of potentially severe negative outcomes. Should we do something about this, or not? That’s for policy makers – on behalf of the public – to decide. If they’re undecided, or if there is a gridlock in the public policy debate, then it’s not – IMO – the responsibility of scientists to work out how to make their research more convincing to the public and to policy makers.

    It’s the responsibility of policy makers to try and determine if the information we have now is sufficient for action and, if not, whether we should provide more resources so as to improve our overall understanding, or not. We could potentially introduce a new style of science which is associated with formally providing actual validated and verifiable information to policy makers (similar to how engineers who design and build bridges/building/cars/planers are expected to provide a very precise and accurate description of the risks associated with whatever they’re designing and building). This, however, may simply not be possible. We can’t go back and collect more data from the past, we can’t go forward and collect data from the future, and we can’t build and run planetary scale experiments.

    • and Then There’s Physics: Climate scientists, however, are not typically people who go around trying to establish what they can do to better convince the public or policy makers

      Maybe not “typically”, but Gavin Schmidt won an award for just that (for the blog RealClimate), and Stephen Schneider rather famously recommended exaggeration in order to convince the public or policy makers. There are a lot of examples.

      • but Gavin Schmidt won an award for just that

        I think he won an award for being a good science communicator. Good science communication is not quite the same as “find ways to convince the public/policy makers”.

        Stephen Schneider rather famously recommended exaggeration in order to convince the public or policy makers.

        No, he didn’t. However, this is such a “sceptic” meme that I don’t you’ll accept that.

      • Stephen Schneider rather famously recommended exaggeration in order to convince the public or policy makers.

        No, he didn’t. However, this is such a “sceptic” meme that I don’t you’ll accept that.

        I know you’ve seen it before, but just in case one more time allows it to get past your denial:

        “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.

      • TE,
        I genuinely thought better of you.

        To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

      • attp, “Stephen Schneider rather famously recommended exaggeration in order to convince the public or policy makers.

        No, he didn’t. However, this is such a “sceptic” meme that I don’t you’ll accept that.”

        So are we doing a little hair splitting here? It takes a pretty charitable interpretation to say that he didn’t. Pointing out that crisis sells, pretty much like sex sells is basic marketing and the product Schneider was selling was potentially catastrophic global warming.

        How about this one, ” Giving society cheap, abundant energy … would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun”. – Paul Ehrlich

        See, a little hyperbola helps sell the notion. “And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” Steven Schneider He didn’t follow that with a /sarc He did do a two step later, but he owns that comment.

      • Matthew and Eddie,

        Dr Schneider’s famous quote is from a 1988 interview in Discover magazine. Here is the full quote and his explanation of what he meant, posted at his website:

        http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Mediarology/Mediarology.html

      • ” Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” doesn’t exonerate Schneider – it does just the opposite – it offers up justification for falsifying.

        Whatever scientific method one has, I’m pretty sure the actual science part means being honest and not lying in order to be effective at political change.

      • Dr Schneider’s famous quote is from a 1988 interview in Discover magazine. Here is the full quote and his explanation of what he meant, posted at his website:

        The words of his interview go on for paragraphs. There’s no particular point of misunderstanding. If you choose to believe his follow up back-peddling, inspired by his recognition of how offensive his ideas were, it may be because you don’t want to believe that he believed lying in the form of exaggeration was justifiable.

      • Whatever scientific method one has, I’m pretty sure the actual science part means being honest and not lying in order to be effective at political change.

        There was – I think – no mention of “political change”, but if you read the full quote you’ll note he said I hope that means being both.

        capt,

        It takes a pretty charitable interpretation to say that he didn’t.

        In my opinion, it takes a completely uncharitable interpretation to say that he did. Lacking in charity is, however, a hallmark of the online climate debate, so no great surprises there.

      • In my opinion, it takes a completely uncharitable interpretation to say that he did. Lacking in charity is, however, a hallmark of the online climate debate, so no great surprises there.

        “I hope that means being both.”
        means:
        “I hope things are bad, because if not, I’ll have to lie about it.”

      • “I hope things are bad, because if not, I’ll have to lie about it.”

        Only if you add a bunch of words that weren’t there in the first place. If you don’t do that, it simply means I hope it means being both.

      • attp, “I hope that means both” would be a bit of each. Schneider was fond of “using the atmosphere as a sewer.” and giving a number of opinions on his version of “social costs”. His “social cost” arguments tended to frequently mention “catastrophic” climate change. He stuck to science the majority of the time but did have those effective buzz phrases. It is perfectly fine to be passionate about your “cause” and know how to market it, but to deny he was marketing is a bit naive.

      • It might be even more naïve to believe that maxims of conversation don’t conflict from time to time:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooperative_principle

        As far as buzz phrases are concerned, Cap’n, Schneider might need to bow to you. You just succeeded in peddling the CAGW meme. Congratulations!

      • attp, btw, I watched a few of Scheinder’s youtube presentations and other than is biases on what energy technologies he approved of they are good. Ironically, his stance on nuclear and hydrogen were less than scientific. The only state where nuclear is cost effective now with the natgas boom is California and that is because of the cost of their renewables efforts. Artificially inflating the cost of other energy sources makes nuclear competitive. On hydrogen he was stuck on the coal to hydrogen when there is are perfectly viable hydrogen to liquid fuels processes. This is a probelm I have with plenty of climate science types, the state the problem then try to steer the solution. There are lots of potential energy and energy efficiency game changers.

      • Willard, “You just succeeded in peddling the CAGW meme. Congratulations”

        Thank you but Schneider deserves the credit. In just about every presentation he got in the catastrophic fat tail and 30 meters of sea level rise due to Greenland and Western Antarctic complete melt down. Of course he followed that with “2 C is scary enough”. He did a great job of fine tuning his presentations. I doubt you would appreciate that thought :)

      • and Then There’s Physics: If you don’t do that, it simply means I hope it means being both.

        The “both” parts are accuracy and exaggeration. He left the balance up to his listeners, but he clearly advocated some exaggeration.

        As to Schmidt’s award, he won it for omitting serious consideration of anything that might qualify the extreme alarmism of Hansen, Ehrlich, Holdren et al. My first rejection there, before the award was given him, was for citing a peer-reviewed (in Science Magazine) review of the cloud uncertainties. ClimateEtc presents more science each year than does RealClimate. If the award is ever given again. Prof Curry would be more deserving than Dr Schmidt.

      • > Thank you but Schneider deserves the credit.

        For acting as a bait for your switch to your favorite meme on this very thread, Cap’n?

        That’d be another meaning of climate zombies.

        Did someone just said “climate zombies”:

        Here:`

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O019WPJ2Kjs

        Cimate zombies deserve the credit for me bringing them here.

      • Willard, I particularly like the “10 C is much more catastrophic than 3 to 4 C”.

      • You know, “much more catastrophic” is kind of like deader. If we don’t change our fossil fuel ways, it could be apocalypticer.

      • I hope you’re not disgreeing, Cap’n, otherwise I’d be forced to drink down another zombie.

        Did someone say zombie?

        Here:

      • Williard, OMG! It is worser than we thought! You have been zombified. If you can get back on track, this sub-thread was on Steven Schneider’s famous quote on climate science sales (er. communication). His videos tend to show he uses the both method, honesty and a tad of exaggeration. He even has his own version of catastrophic ebonics, “much mo’ catastrophic”. There is nothing wrong with fine tuning your sales pitch, I think he cut the “much mo'” in the final take. :)

      • > OMG! It is worser than we thought!

        Don’t be such an alarmist, Cap’n.

        I’d be more worried if the Editor left the thread. You know why?

        Because I’m still waiting for him to read the second sentence where Katzav mentions severe testing, and also because that would mean this thread would be zombified.

        Did somebody mentioned zombifcation?

        https://twitter.com/Robotbeat/status/693265700207460352

      • Context:”Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both. But we got to do what we got to do to save the children. I am calling on my fellow scientists to err on the side of scaring the crap out of people. We have to save humanity. Our personal and professional honor is secondary.”

        Without that last part there would be no double ethical bind to worry about. Just telling the freaking truth is what is ethical. No double bind. Get it?

      • More context:

        “Al Gore”:

        https://youtu.be/16_IupUxG8M?t=1m15s

        And zombies.

      • willy,willito
        If you had any hope left of being the legit linguistic leviathan that you once aspired to be, you would stop with the parade of canned video distractions and straighten out your boss kenny on Schneider’s entreaty to his fellow scientists to find the proper balance between being ethical and unethical. I will help you:

        ethical:
        (1)On the one hand we scientists are ethically bound to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

        unethical:
        (2)On the other hand, we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.

        unethical:
        (3)Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective (see 2) and being honest (see 1). I hope that means being both.

        Conclusion:
        It’s like pregnancy. You can’t be both pregnant and unpregnant at the same time. There is no balance between pregnant and unpregnant. You are either pregnant, or you ain’t. You ethical, or you ain’t.

        PS:
        (2) “we have to” be unethical
        (3) “I hope we” can be both ethical and unethical

      • Dear Don Don,

        It’s great to see you do something that looks like a conceptual analysis. It seems to rest on contextual cues that seem to have been expressed as quotes, and yet feels so natural, so clear, so touching, so straight-and-to-the-point, that it’s as if teh Donald was speaking through Schneider’s mouth. Perhaps was it his Holy Spirit, by which I mean you, Don Don?

        If that’s the case, I think they would illustrate exactly your point about the ethical pregnancy of balancing truth and drama.

        ***

        There are many studies on Grice’s maxims, showing that they may vary and even conflict according to audiences, communication objectives, and pragmatic situations. They’re just maxims, after all.

        ***

        You should consider leaving yourself a bit of hope regarding my comments. As it is, they hit lower than rock bottom in your esteem at least twice a day. Emulating Zeno’s examples should help you to downgrade them indefinitely.

        That’s not science, but it’s important. More so if teh Donald can’t appear on debates anymore. This would leave you more time to come back here to tell me you don’t have more time to give me.

        ***

        Meanwhile, zombies:

      • The cocktail hour has stretched into a quarter-day now, so I am not sure what all that wordsmithing is about. But I think that I have rekindled your hopes of being a legit linguistic leviathan. Keep at it, willito. I am rooting for your rehabilitation.

        The Donald is probably the first character in political history to win a debate by not showing up. That Canadian-Cuban Cruz is sinking fast. The Donald just called him an anchor baby. What a monster. Got any video of Godzilla with a red baseball cap, willito? I’ll see that it gets in a commercial. We’ll photoshop the hair.

        I was supposed to go over there yesterday, but I like to have an actual itinerary of things to do.

      • Willard, you laughed about Zombie voters.

        http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/son-killed-father-trained-zombies-article-1.2505575

        Now look at what another Hollywood lie has turned into.
        AGW is washed up from the looks of: Things to Come.
        They called it Wandering Disease, but what did they know in the Thirties

      • > I am not sure what all that wordsmithing is about.

        Secondarily, about the fact that your argument opposing truth and drama consisted mostly of drama.

        Firstly, zombies:

        The U.S. Center for Disease Control, folks not known to be a barrel of laughs or particularly prone to stunts, created a guide called “Don’t be a Zombie, Be Prepared.” It contains information that also happens to be useful for preparing for a hurricane, which tends to be a bigger problem than zombies.

        People were used to much drier, more sober materials from bodies like the CDC, and the first reactions to the zombies were negative.

        The CDC didn’t panic and within a week the site had more than two million views. Furthermore, a survey revealed that people did actually learn from the zombie booklet how to make an emergency kit.

        http://timetowrite.blogs.com/weblog/2011/11/book-marketing-how-zombies-helped-save-lives.html

      • Willard, Now the CDC only needs a marketing campaign for broke. You now how to do without with affordable basic services like lead free water and electric heat formerly provided by the benevolent government.

        The CDC used a novel marketing concept known as humor. Schneider had some schtick in his presentations but is was often class based, kinda like the Envirostocracy he used to counter the “big” ideology. He was selling his science, which is fine, but also sold his belief along with it, not fine.

        Kind of like Mosher, Temperatures are warming (fact) we should spend 50 billion to leave coal in the ground (speculation). Schneider, we need to ween off fossil fuels with renewables (fact) Nuclear will never be cost effective (fiction). There is a lost virtue of knowing when to shut up.

      • > Kind of like […]

        Playing squirel again, Cap’n.

        Look, zombies!

      • Willard, “Playing squirel again, Cap’n.”

        Not intentionally, it is just a personal observation of the red wine and Starbucks mentality. I make some pretty kick butt cafe con leche in my moka pot for about 50 cents a cup (real cup, not a thimble) and the guys that drop $7.5 a cup are telling me how to be frugal.

    • You must have missed it, willito. Schneider was all about grand drama:

      “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.“

      “Stella! Stella! This double ethical bind is killing me. Bwahahaaahaaaa!”

      Try to keep somewhat up to speed, willito. You are spending too much time searching out goofey videos. You can do better than that. Show us what you can do without relying on other peoples’ stuff.

  65. How is all this chat about climate predictions significant when there is little work going on to find out whether GHG emissions are net damaging or net beneficial. My concern is with policy. We are spending $1.5 trillion per year on the climate industry and there is no evidence at all of what benefits we are getting for that money … or ever likely to. I suspect it is nearly all wasted. I also have no idea whether GHG emissions are increasing or decreasing the risk of the next abrupt climate change.

    Therefore, I do not support spending a dollar on mitigation policies.

    • Peter Lang said:

      Therefore, I do not support spending a dollar on mitigation policies.

      I would be interested in where the $1.5 trillion figure came from when you said, “We are spending $1.5 trillion per year on the climate industry.”

      Bloomberg, for instance, shows global investment in renewable energy sources of about $350 billion in 2014, which is down slightly from 2011.

      http://about.newenergyfinance.com/content/uploads/sites/4/2015/10/Liebreich_BNEF-Summit-London.pdf

      The first out of the box to throw gasoline on the flames of the “renewables revolution” — Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia, the UK — are all now in full retreat. It’s called sticker shock. They are all dialing back renewables subsidies.

      So far, renewables have not been able to withstand the acid test of economics. When the subsidies and other state mandates and interventions go, investment in renewables plummets, We see this everywhere.

      The exceptions — two countries which still have the peddle mashed down when it comes to subsidies and mandates for renewables — are China and the United States. In the US, the investment in renewables has been pretty much flat for the past eight years. But this too I believe will pass. California ratepayers are only now starting to get a taste of the sticker shock.

      Americans are notoriously pragmatic, and I doubt the mitigation strategies, justified by some highly abstract and iffy “scientific” predictions, will withstand political scrutiny once their true costs start hitting home.

      • I would be interested in where the $1.5 trillion figure came from when you said, “We are spending $1.5 trillion per year on the climate industry.”

        Why don’t you google it. Isn’t that what you do if you actually want to know.

        http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2015/07/30/377086.htm

        http://www.climatechangebusiness.com/

      • ‘Climate Change Business Journal estimates the Climate
        Change Industry is a $1.5 Trillion dollar escapade, which
        means four billion dollars a day is spent on our quest to
        change the climate. That includes everything from carbon
        markets to carbon consulting, carbon sequestration,
        renewables, biofuels, green buildings and insipid cars. For
        comparison global retail sales online are worth around $1.5
        trillion. So all the money wasted on the climate is
        equivalent to all the goods bought online.’
        – Jo Nova 31/07/2015.

      • Beth,

        Thanks you for putting the $1.5 trillion per years spent on the climate industry in perspective. That helps. What a massive waste of money. This what could be done with that money to improve peoples lives.

      • Peter,
        From the productive to the Slough of Phant-ass-magoria.

      • Peter Lang,

        You will have to excuse my incredulity, but $1.5 trillion is a tremendous amount of money.

        We’re talking over 2% of the world’s entire GDP, and over 23% of the entire amount ($6.4 trillion) the world spent on energy in 2010.

        http://www.leonardo-energy.org/blog/world-energy-expenditures

        Also, $1.5 trillion is 50x the amount the United Nations estimates would be needed to end world hunger, and more than double the U.S. defense budget – $737 billion in 2012.

        http://borgenproject.org/the-cost-to-end-world-hunger/

      • You asked for the link. I provided it. Have you found any significant errors in it? if you haven’t, then you have no valid reason to criticise it. You can bet it has already been very thoroughly investigated

        I agree it’s an incredible amount of money. It’s a ridiculous amount of waste. But that’s what happens when cultists get in control. Rational policy goes out the window and is replaced by command and control policies driven by irrational advocates who accept cultists’ beliefs and entrench them in laws and regulations. Then, human nature being what it is, business will find and grab every opportunity to use the laws and regulations to their advantage.

      • Peter Lang said:

        …you have no valid reason to criticise it.

        Did I do that? Did I criticise it?

        I merely asked for a citation, since I had never heard that $1.5 trillion figure before.

        I think this previous post on this blog is germane:

        On distinguishing disbelief and nonbelief

        “Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America”

        http://judithcurry.com/2016/01/09/on-distinguishing-disbelief-and-nonbelief/

      • Glenn,

        Well now you know. The Climate industry is a $1.5 trillion per year industry and growing fast. Further more, it’s delivering no quantifiable benefit in terms of avoided climate damages. Now that you know, you are better informed and will tell others, right?

  66. Validate the science. From today’s Wall Street Journal …

    The Food Pyramid Scheme

    The feds’ dietary guide is based on dubious science—and now Congress wants an impartial review.
    [ … ]
    But a serious course correction may finally be on the horizon. Congress, concerned about the continued toll taken by nutrition-related diseases, recently mandated the first-ever outside review of the evidence underlying the dietary guidelines and the process that produces them. The National Academy of Medicine will conduct the review this year. Yet this effort could do more harm than good if the academy endorses the weak science that has shaped the guidelines for decades.
    [ … ]
    … as part of the budget bill that passed Congress in December, lawmakers appropriated $1 million for an independent review of the dietary guidelines. Congress wants to ensure that the next revision, due in 2020, will “better prevent chronic disease.” But we fear that the review, like the guidelines, will be dominated by epidemiology. Several members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are also on the National Academy of Medicine, and Congress has asked them to recuse themselves.

    The academy might go further by appointing a disinterested referee, someone from outside the field of nutrition, to lead the review. Ideally, this person would have a background in systematic methodology or evidence-based medicine, fields that focus on how to evaluate and prioritize varying results from scientific studies. This expertise would assure the public that the review is to be a serious, objective weighing of the evidence.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-food-pyramid-scheme-1454022514

  67. Tom Choularton

    I must say I don’t see any deadlock that requires some kind of debate to resolve it. It is clear that the climate is warming and that human induced climate change is likely to be ‘dangerous’ over the next century. I am not sure what is meant by catastrophic in this context. The uncertainties in the predictions need to be reduced and a much better understanding of the likely changes in various regions of the globe is needed. These will come from research into the physical science by experts in the relevant field.

    • Tom,

      “I don’t see any deadlock that requires some kind of debate to resolve it.”

      I refer to the public policy debate in the US about the response to climate change. What do you actions do you see the Federal government doing?

      Most observers report that the debate is deadlocked. As Steven Mosher said so aptly, we are not even preparing for repeat of past weather — let alone future weather.

    • Tom Choularton: ” It is clear that the climate is warming and that human induced climate change is likely to be ‘dangerous’ over the next century.”

      No, it is nothing of the kind.

  68. There has been a deal of loose talk about Popper in this thread. Falsification was only one string in his bow, and indeed experimental or observational testing is just the empirical part of the critical method that was the linchpin of his thinking (his term).
    He was equally interested in explanation and testing. The point is to test our explanations. Einstein did not just refute Newton with a theory, there was a critical test by Eddington which supported Einstein and refuted Newton (more or less).
    As for Kuhn’s revolution, Popper pointed out in 1945 (chapter 23 of The Open Society) that science is a social activity and whatever objectivity or rationality we can manage is due to the give and take in public discussion, especially if we speak as clearly as possible and adopt the attitude “your may be right and I may be wrong, and with an effort me may be able to get nearer to the truth”.
    In the debate with Popper, Kuhn conceded that Popper’s method of testing is appropriate during times of crisis, as opposed to normal science when nobody is challenging the paradigm.
    In The Poverty of Historicism (1944/1957) Popper suggested that we should look to the social and institutional context of science to explain how it is progressive and he speculated that scientific progress could be arrested by government control of the laboratories and the journals, plus restriction of free speech.
    And a good deal more, that will do for a start.
    Rafe Champion
    Sydney
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=rafe+champion

  69. Pingback: Rafe’s Roundup 29 Jan | Catallaxy Files

    • The cost of panels is only a fraction of the cost of solar, as has been argued at length elsewhere. I trust someone else with more expertise will go into more detail on this matter.

    • If solar were really cheaper, there would be no policy deadlock. It isn’t, so there is.

    • The good thing about being ‘on-the-grid’ is that the grid is de-centralized. To the customer, the electricity is pretty much the same, regardless of production. The only factors the customer observes are availability, reliability, and cost.

      Solar production does seem to be coming down, however, I’m not sure that’s the case if one includes availability and reliability. Electricity has to be available 24/7. Solar at night means either storage, which raises costs, or backup with fossil fuel, which should be included in the total cost and is inefficient because of duplicated infrastructure. Some other factors, including additional infrastructure and replacement costs.

      That being said, the cost may be exaggerated, and like most customers, I don’t care so much about how the electricity is generated. But then, electricity is still only a third or so of US emissions:
      http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/images/ghgemissions/gases-co2.png

      • Point is, if you look at what happened to Kyoto, nobody wanted it. They may say they want action on fossil carbon (“climate”), but they simply aren’t going to destroy the Industrial Revolution for it.

        But the cost of solar PV is decreasing exponentially, and seems to bid fair to continue. Not only that, but according to this story, based on this new research, it’s only one of over 50 technologies demonstrating such exponential growth/price decline.

        Basically, if storage technology such as power→gas/liquid fuel follows the same exponential behavior, there’s no need to put the Industrial Revolution at risk to deal with the risk from fossil carbon (climate mediated or otherwise).

        This means policy-makers can get over using linear growth models, which means they may well be able to craft policies that solve the problem without any substantial impact to energy costs. Which is why the deadlocked debate is (IMO) freeing up.
        http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0048733315001699-gr1.jpg

      • Yes, if you take in toto:

        falling solar prices
        increasing energy efficiency
        falling fertility rates
        falling populations in many areas

        there are many secular forces indicating declining carbonization going forward.

  70. Seems like a lot of discussion on a religious topic. Popper is clearly (to me) making a statement of how science ideally should function. Feynman as well. That doesn’t mean that in the real world of science in the trenches, you can’t have things that are hard to test, or that the tests haven’t worked well yet.
    We have these climate models. There is discussion on whether they were tuned on past data; probably they were without even trying – it’s hard to avoid. Now we’re testing them on future data and they haven’t done that well. It’s hard, because the main prediction that people test them on is global temperature. You get approximately _one new data point per month_. Gonna take a while to complete the test.
    Once you complete the test and they fail (meaning skeptics get lucky that the global temperature doesn’t go up quite fast enough), what do you do next? Make some better models! And start testing them. Probably another couple of decades? Pathetic. Nothing to do with Feynman. The whole idea that you can test complex models with a single trend number like this, which wasn’t all that different in 1950, is pathetic.
    I would like some reason to believe that climate models can predict anything at all. So far they haven’t done that well on the future and their hindcasts are irrelevant. We know weather is chaotic; do we know that climate is not? Maybe the deep ocean heat sink is more important than everything put together. Maybe not. Convince me – find me a larger set of climate variables that you think you can predict. Is there actually a claim that every aspect of climate is chaotic except for overall energy in the atmosphere?

    In the meantime, there are commentators everywhere: “hottest year ever!” “no temperature change for ___ years!” “We need to act now!”
    In the meantime, politicians have settled on a simple formula for how to deal with all this: “If you are in Europe, get rid of your energy sources till you need them, close your eyes and grit your teeth. If you are anywhere else, continue with business as usual. In both cases, give lots of speeches about how the science is settled and it’s incredibly important to do something about it immediately.” This is what Mosher means when he says that politicians have accepted the models.

  71. Re: Insights from Karl Popper, 1/28/2016:

    Popper said scientific theories must be falsifiable, and that prediction was the gold standard for their validation. Larry Kummer, 8th ¶.

    Econ writer Nathanial Popper talked about the gold standard, but where did Karl ever use that expression? More importantly, this sentence, and hence the article, completely overlook the origin of Popper’s deconstruction of Modern Science. Popper misunderstood science, and with it the inextricable concepts of induction, causation, definitions, facts, objectivity, and prediction, and, of course, F. Bacon, the Father of Modern Science.

    Looking no deeper than Popper’s writings, the origin of his error is his presumption that scientific propositions are equivalent to Universal Generalizations, a notion he famously typified as All Ravens Are Black. Because UGs require the impossible, infinite regress, to establish pragmatically, but only one contradiction to disprove, Popper deduced that scientific propositions could only be falsified.

    His underlying error was a presumption, one shared with his contemporary adversaries, Wittgenstein and the whole of the Vienna Circle, and one that was a sufficient cause for their failure. It was that scientific propositions were logic statements. They are not. Ultimately, they are numerical predictions, each understood to imply a probability distribution. Just as no scientific model is known to contain a falsification clause, no meaningful model is known that is a true-false statement.

    UGs are found in science, but as definitions, not models. To make room for his model and to preserve induction in his model of science, Popper rejected definitions, causation, and Bacon’s 1620 Real Induction, i.e., deduction in today’s language.

    Kuhn and Feyerabend are on one side of the Science Wars … and Popper the other. Glenn Stehle, 1/28/16, 5:37 pm.

    In a more general, top down view, Popper, Kuhn, and Feyerabend, plus Lakatos, are honored collectively as the late Prof. D.C. Stove’s Four Modern Irrationalists. Indeed! And irrationalist is neither a term of honor nor respect, even among philosophers. The subjective (especially relevant. Popper’s intersubjective testing of scientific models), the supernatural, and the irrational are each incompatible with science.

    Popper’s creation is Post Modern Science. It is practiced by the climatologists in the IPCC fold, and most notably it has no requirement that models actually work. As Popper confessed, I am an opponent of pragmatism as a philosophy of science … . “Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, 1979, p. 311.

    • Jeff,

      “where did Karl ever use that expression?”

      He did not, which is why “the expression” is not in quotes.

      At the original post on the FM website I show the relevant 1600 word excerpt from Popper’s Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963).

    • Jeff Glassman said:

      And irrationalist is neither a term of honor nor respect, even among philosophers.

      So why don’t you enlighten us as to what the one true way is?

      • Jeff Glassman has enlightened you enough, already. His comment should replace this post, which is not going to open any debate except like the one we are seeing now, on the uselessness of Popper in opening the climate debate.

        Thanks, Jeff.

    • @Jeff. Nice Post. Most people don’t quite get the fact that Popper approached philosophy and science from the point of Rationalism. And in this, he was not quite as “radical” as he seemed. Though he was influenced by Peirce, and he was right to criticize the Vienna Circle, he did so for the wrong reasons.

      “You can say of an idea either that, “It is useful because it is true” or that, “It is true because it is useful. Both of these phrases mean exactly he same thing.” – William James

      • No, the first true is true the second true is subjective.

      • jmarshs,

        Nietzsche certainly disagreed.

        Man, according to Nietzsche, has been an incorrigible pragmatist, ever maintaining the truth of those beliefs which seemed to help him survive.

        “We are knowing,” Nietzsche said, “to the extent that we can satisfy our needs.”

        That truth is always best for life, however, is a moral prejudice. Falsification has been shown to be essential; truth is often ruinous, and sheer illusion helpful, as experience testifies. And of course there is no certainty about even the pragmatic value of our beliefs; there is merely the fact that we have survived so far. Beliefs not immediately harmful may yet be fatal in the long run.

        Thus the problem with truth is double-edged: it involves a conflict between the demand for absolute truth and its frustration by the nature of things, and a conflict between the desire to know and the desire to survive: it seems impossible to live with truth or to live without it.

        This is one of the chief issues in The Birth of Tragedy.

        Hence a new quesiton — “a problem with horns” Nietzsche calls it: what is the value of truth, or of its pursuit? Why not be deceived? May not illusion be worth more? Is not truth in any case a relative, not an absolute value?

      • @Glenn,
        In my profession (Architecture) I don’t really care to much — or have the budget to care about — the Absolute Truth! Plus or minus an inch or two is usually good enough.

        I don’t mistake blueprints for buildings, maps for territories or models for reality. They are tools, nothing more. Use’em and lose’em. If they get the job done, then they are true enough.

        I’ll stick to James and Mach : )

      • You can say of an idea either that, “It is useful because
        it is true” or that, “It is true because it is useful. Both of
        these phrases mean exactly he same thing.”
        – William James.

        – True ‘ because it’s useful?’ Like Plato’s useful ‘noble lie’
        or other tyrants’ useful myths?

        Truth to data to keep you grounded or else, like in the song,
        ‘anything goes, tra la.’

      • @beth
        Popper’s called his philosophy Critical Rationalism. All variants of Rationalism posit that there is a noumenon/phenomenon gap which can never be closed (think Plato’s cave, if you are unfamiliar with Kant’s more modern Transcendental Epistemology/Idealism). Popper believed that the more we subjected our ideas to “critical tests” the closer we come to “Absolute Truth(!)” or the noumena(!) – but that “truth” would be forever just beyond our reach.

        William James, being the good Anglo-American, New England, Puritan Empiricist that we was ; ) rejected the muddled, mystical “German” noumenon/phenomenon gap of Rationalism. His philosophy is called Pragmatism – and a last collection of essays before his death were titled Essays in Radical Empiricism.

        James believed that we apprehended reality directly through the senses, but our ideas, models, math, Mechanics etc. were abstractions – in the sense that a “Map is not the Territory”. But he understood that we could create good enough maps to make it to our destination.

        If you are visiting a strange city, and trying to find a way to your friends house, you don’t need a map that shows every crack in the sidewalk and all the pot holes in the street. You only need a map with a level of precision necessary to accomplish your goal. Precision for the sake of precision is fruitless endeavor.

        So too, is trying to “model” the climate.

        There is a difference between “modeling” a complex, nonlinear, dynamic system and constructing a model that allows you to control a complex, nonlinear, dynamic system. The former is impossible, but the latter is something that engineers do every day -with less than complete information or understanding of the system.

        The question is, can we control the “climate” ? I say no. I made a post further down too, regarding this issue.

      • G’day, jmarshs,

        I’ll respond ter you termorrer as best I can.

        beth the serf.

      • jmarsh,

        Well this just goes to show how confusing things can get.

        You say Popper was a “rationalist,” a sentiment I agree with.

        But in Glassman’s comment above, he says Popper is one of the late Prof. D.C. Stove’s Four Modern Irrationalists. I disagree. I do not believe that Popper fell in the irrationalist camp.

        In the noumenon/phenomenon gap which you speak of, a rationalist is someone who comes down on the noumenon side of the ledger. An empiricist, on the other hand, is someone who comes down on the phenomenon side of the ledger. Here’s how Hannah Arendt describes the difference in The Life of the Mind:

        What science and the quest for knowledge are after is irrefutable truth, that is, propositions human beings are not free to reject — they are compelling. They are of two kinds, as we have known since Leibniz: truths of reasoning and truths of fact. The main distinction between them lies in the degree of their force of compulsion: the truths of “Reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible” while “those of Fact are contingent and their opposite is possible.” The distinction is very important although perhaps not in the same sense Leibniz himself meant. Truths of fact, their contingency not withstanding, are as compelling for anybody witnessing them with his own eyes as the proposition that two and two make four is for anybody in his right mind. The point is only that a fact, an event, can never be witnessed by everyone who may want to know about it, whereas rational or mathematical truth presents itself as self-evident to everyone endowed with the same brain power; its compelling nature is universal, while the compelling force of factual truth is limited; it does not touch those who, not having been witnesses, have to rely on the testimony of others, whom they may or may not believe. The true opposite of factual, as distinguised from rational, truth is not error or illusion but the deliberate lie.

        Rationalism and empiricism are therefore two very different ways of knowing. But the way you describe Popper’s philosophy, “Critical Rationalism,” it is a synthesis of rationalism and empiricism. According to Popper, we use our reason to come up with theories, but then we put them to the acid test in the factual world.

        So was Popper a “rationalist” or an “irrationalist”? One begins to see what inspired the nominalist revolution of the 14th century.

        William James’ pragmatism is another can of worms. Glassman quotes Popper as having said, “I am an opponent of pragmatism as a philosophy of science …” So James and Popper, when it comes to pragmatism, are in opposing camps.

        Pragmatism was the brain child of the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. As Jonathan Haidt explains in The Happiness Hypothesis:

        Jeremy Bentham challenged Kant for the hypothetical prize…

        He set out…by stating clear goals and proposing the most rational means of achieving these goals. The ultimate goal of all legislation, he concluded, was the good of the people; and the more good, the better. Bentham was the father of utilitarianism, the doctrine that in all decisionmaking (legal and personal) our goal should be the maximum total benefit (utility), but who gets the benefit is of little concern.

        The argument between Kant and Bentham has continued ever since. Decendants of Kant (known as “deontologists” from the Greek deon, obligation) try to elaborate the duties and obligations that ethical people must respect, even when their actions lead to bad outcomes (for example, you must never kill an innocent person, even if doing so will save a hundred lives). Descendants of Bentham (known as “consequentialists” because they evaluate actions based only by their consequences) try to work out the rules and policies that will bring about the greatest good, even when doing so will sometimes violate other ethical principles (go ahead and kill the one to save the hundred, they say, unless it will set a bad example that leads to later problems).

        But, as Haidt goes on to explain, both deontologists and consequentialists “shun the particular in favor of the abstract,” so both fall more in the rationalist camp than the empiricist camp.

        Therefore, I’m not sure it’s a good idea to conflate pragmatism with empiricsm, for instance as you implied when you said: “His philosophy is called Pragmatism – and a last collection of essays before his death were titled Essays in Radical Empiricism.”

        And if one goes too far down the pragmatist trail, then how does one explain this discussion by Neil Degrasse Tyson, speaking of Albert Einstein, who was the quintessential Kantian with his belief that the practice of science was a highly spiritual, religous-like endeavor?

        “My favorite equation of Einstein’s is when he derived the stimulated emission of radiation,” deGrasse Tyson said during the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate in 2012. “We study that in astrophysics and that’s the equation that enables the construction of lasers.”…

        Since they were on the topic of equations, deGrasse Tyson shared his favorite equation of Einstein’s — an equation that today supports a multi-billion dollar industry involving barcode scanners, laser eye surgery, and DVD electronics….

        Stimulated emission is a special way in which atoms can make identical particles of light that Einstein first predicted in 1917. But it wasn’t until the the late ’50s when physicists actually built the first lasers….

        DeGrasse Tyson uses this example during the debate to emphasize the importance of “basic research” that might not necessarily have any immediate application but could set the stage for future, fundamental technology.

        http://www.businessinsider.com/neil-degrasse-tysons-favorite-einstein-equation-2015-3

      • @Glenn,
        The fundamental distinction between Rationalism (of the modern, Kantian, German variety) is the belief in a priori knowledge, as opposed to knowledge gained solely by evidence of the senses – which is largely the British Empiricism tradition of Locke, Berkeley, Reid, Hume – and James.

        Kant “woke up” after having read Hume. Hume gave what can be understood to be a naturalist and/or psychological account of epistemology – meaning there is no appeal to divine revelation (such as found in RC Church Scholasticism) – for this, he was often accused of being an Atheist.

        Kant, who was a scientist/mathematician, and a huge supporter of Newton, tried to give what also can be understood to be a more modern, rational account of epistemology, also in opposition to RC Church Scholasticism, via such ideas as a priori/a posteriori, analytical/synthetic – categories.

        Popper was not a “rationalist” per se (and I don’t believe I called him this or implied it). His philosophy was a variant of Rationalism – meaning that there are some truths that are not dependent on empirical evidence.

        Bentham can called “pragmatic” in a sense. But Pragmatism as a philosophy is specific to James and can also be somewhat more loosely applied to Dewey and Peirce and a few others..

        This Rationalim/Empiricism is, IMHO, important because it highlights the nature of “first principle” models — such as climatology’s GCM’s, as opposed to Empirical models used by the applied sciences. But that is a much longer post!

      • > The fundamental distinction between Rationalism (of the modern, Kantian, German variety) is the belief in a priori knowledge, as opposed to knowledge gained solely by evidence of the senses – which is largely the British Empiricism tradition of Locke, Berkeley, Reid, Hume – and James.

        Which is why we call the distinction between a priori and a posteriori Hume’s fork:

        Hume’s fork is an explanation, developed by later philosophers, of David Hume’s aggressive, 1730s division of “relations of ideas” from “matters of fact and real existence”. On the necessary versus contingent (concerning reality), the a priori versus a posteriori (concerning knowledge), and the analytic versus synthetic (concerning language), truths relating ideas (abstract) all align on one side (necessary, a priori, analytic), whereas truths on actualities (concrete) always align on the other side (contingent, a posteriori, synthetic).

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hume%27s_fork

      • Thanks for the link Willard. I’ve never heard that term before.

      • jmarshs said:

        This Rationalim/Empiricism is, IMHO, important because it highlights the nature of “first principle” models — such as climatology’s GCM’s, as opposed to Empirical models used by the applied sciences.

        I believe the Rationalism/Empiricism distinction is important too, because it looks like the climatologists may have slipped back into Cartesian rationalism, which is entirely subjective.

        But even Kant’s categories aren’t faring well under recent research, and look to have onl