Five rules for evidence communication

by Judith Curry

“Avoid unwarranted certainty, neat narratives and partisan presentation; strive to inform, not persuade.”

I just spotted this Comment in Nature: Five rules for evidence communication.  Once I spotted co-author David Spiegenhalter, I knew this would be good.  I have definitely been in need of an antidote to the Covid-19 and global warming propaganda that I’ve come across lately.  I’m also working on a new climate change presentation; this provides an excellent check list.

Here is a [link] to the article (freely accessible).  Excerpts:

<begin quote>

There are myriad examples from the current pandemic of which we might ask: have experts always been explicit in acknowledging unknowns? Complexity? Conflicts of interest? Inconvenient data? And, importantly, their own values?

Our small, interdisciplinary group at the University of Cambridge, UK, collects empirical data on issues such as how to communicate uncertainty, how audiences decide what evidence to trust, and how narratives affect people’s decision-making. Our aim is to design communications that do not lead people to a particular decision, but help them to understand what is known about a topic and to make up their own minds on the basis of that evidence. In our view, it is important to be clear about motivations, present data fully and clearly, and share sources.

We recognize that the world is in an ‘infodemic’, with false information spreading virally on social media. Therefore, many scientists feel they are in an arms race of communication techniques. But consider the replication crisis, which has been blamed in part on researchers being incentivized to sell their work and focus on a story rather than on full and neutral reporting of what they have done. We worry that the urge to persuade or to tell a simple story can damage credibility and trustworthiness.

So how do we demonstrate good intentions? We have to be open about our motivations, conflicts and limitations. Scientists whose objectives are perceived as prioritizing persuasion risk losing trust.

  • Inform, not persuade
  • Offer balance, not false balance
  • Disclose uncertainties
  • State evidence quality
  • Inoculate against misinformation

When zoologist John Krebs became chair of the UK Food Standards Agency in the 2000s, he faced a deluge of crises, including dioxins in milk and the infectious cattle disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy. He adopted the following strategy:

  • say what you know;
  • what you don’t know;
  • what you are doing to find out;
  • what people can do in the meantime to be on the safe side; and
  • that advice will change.

Quick tips for sharing evidence

The aim is to ‘inform but not persuade’, and — as the philosopher of trust Onora O’Neill says — “to be accessible, comprehensible, usable and assessable”.

  • Address all the questions and concerns of the target audience.
  • Anticipate misunderstandings; pre-emptively debunk or explain them.
  • Don’t cherry-pick findings.
  • Present potential benefits and possible harms in the same way so that they can be compared fairly.
  • Avoid the biases inherent in any presentation format (for example, use both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ framing together).
  • Use numbers alone, or both words and numbers.
  • Demonstrate ‘unapologetic uncertainty’: be open about a range of possible outcomes.
  • When you don’t know, say so; say what you are going to do to find out, and by when.
  • Highlight the quality and relevance of the underlying evidence (for example, describe the data set).
  • Use a carefully designed layout in a clear order, and include sources.

Trust is crucial. Always aiming to ‘sell the science’ doesn’t help the scientific process or the scientific community in the long run, just as it doesn’t help people (patients, the public or policymakers) to make informed decisions in the short term. That requires good evidence communication. Ironically, we hope we’ve persuaded you of that.

<end quote>

The Supplementary Information is a longer version of this, well worth reading also.

165 responses to “Five rules for evidence communication

  1. Hi Judith,

    I suspect I tend to break some or even all of these but would be happy for you or anyone else to shoot holes in the following (style or content wise) I wrote for the Climate Coalition on food security:

    https://climatecoalition.org/future-food-security-must-focus-on-supplies/

    Regards,

    Iain Climie

    • Brexit of the UK might be a precursor for the food shortages you write about. I’ll miss the fresh salad produce as I have it twice a day. We as a nation are not very self-sufficient in producing own own food.

      • HI Alan,

        One statistic I saw was that the UK imported about 46% of its food in 2018 although we exported some too. The belief that we (or any country) can always import food could be suicidal. Somalia (and other countries nearby) suffered massive crop losses to locusts this year, for example, and might not be able to afford imports while Russia’s 2010 grain export ban following a heatwave and drought could be the shape of things to come. Economists quote Ricardo’s law on the benefits of trade but they will be list if countries decide to put their own food security first. Food for food trade would still work but relying on cash crops like tea, coffee, tobacco, flowers and even (illegally) coca is tempting providence.

      • Hi Iain, thank you for the interesting reply. The first thing I thought of was cyclone Gati which formed in the bay of Bengal and is tracking towards Somalia (!)

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/55034547

        Yes, I think you’re right. Food security is going to be a major issue with increasing climate change.

        I drink tea and coffee all day but would willing sacrifice these luxuries for a self-sufficient UK in which we can provide the staples of our food requirements.

    • Iain, successful farming should be, as much as possible, a lossless nutrient and energy web. It should be based on this and not be micromanaged. Example: Thinking that humans, rather than fowl, should eat insects; which for humans have large masses of inedible chitin, that fowl can digest. “Primitive” farming mimics that natural web. The complexity and waste arises from humans using the produce from neighboring farmlands and forests to build and maintain large, dense populations breaking the nutrient and energy web.

      Large, dense populations means that most human waste systems remove nutrients/energy from the web that has to be replaced. This is especially true in the West where large amounts of energy intensive nutrients are landfilled. “Primitive” farming is the most efficient by conserving this web. “Modern” farming is most effective by consuming energy. A fundamental cause of this is that steak is worth a lot of money, but human waste is considered a cost. This is the result of breaking the natural web. It also highlights why a command down system will not work. The command structure is in the large, dense population centers and will use its power to ensure the status quo.

      A cultural aspect, that is a problem, is expecting stasis from humans by their respective governments, whereas adaptation is necessary. Examples are the encouragement of traditional local food sources, rather than obtaining seed and stock from other locales. Combined with tax relief for failure by governments, the tendency to grow food that is marginal, rather than already adapted, results in larger than necessary waste and misuse of land that could be better utilized more often. The organized societies will continue this behavior as it supports and benefits the large, dense urban areas.

      These are just a few and obvious problems concerning this fundamental and extremely complex human activity of food acquisition.

      • HI John,

        I wholeheartedly agree with your view here and the lessons that can be learned from old-fashioned farming (see Native American 3 sisters method, integrates methods and not giving rabbits disgusting diseases), game ranching (e.g. bison in US) and other ideas like reducing waste which seems the simplest starting point. I hoped those came across in the article; if you think otherwise, please let me know and I’ll consider revising it.

        Would you like to copy your views into the area on the Climate Coalition website if you haven’t already done so? Colin Tudge’s ” enlightened agriculture ” is also relevant here. Many thanks though!

    • Iain, what’s your opinion on this article, related to additives given to animal feed in foreign countries which is then imported:

      “Thousands of people marched in Taipei’s streets on Sunday demanding the reversal of a decision to allow U.S. pork imports into Taiwan, alleging food safety issues.”

      https://apnews.com/article/global-trade-tsai-ing-wen-trade-agreements-taiwan-food-safety-cf76e2db33063462632bfd383e0b7dbf

      • HI Alan,

        I’d want to know more about why the additive is OK in the US but not in Europe (I’m in the UK) and what the approval (or not) is based on. The routine use of antibiotics in factory farming has been widely criticised as helping create conditions for resistant bacteria but adding Asparogopsis taxiformis (a red alga) at the right concentration to cattle feed can massively reduce methane emissions. Additives and medication can have benefits, with Bovine TB and other livestock diseases a scourge in some places. I’d hope to be sensibly cautious here, rather than complacent or hysterical, but who is benefitting? If it is just to cut prices and reduce fat content to placate consumers worried about bacon being fatty, then I’d be very unhappy – they could always eat less bacon or trim bits off. If there are genuine benefits that would be different.

        I would want more info but would tend towards not using the additive unless really necessary.
        Feel free to shoot me down for fence sitting! I suspect that calm assessment and debate is unlikely on this one (and many other issues) though. Fire away but thanks for that.

      • Hi Iain, I’m pleased with your in depth answer. I agree with your cautionary stance. Taiwan is presumably a well educated country so I suspect that the opposition isn’t unduly founded. Another angle is the military assistance that is required to fend off the threatening CCP.. perhaps a side deal on arms trade etc.

      • Alan,

        Thanks for that. I try to remember the comment from E O Wilson the Harvard biologist: I must always remember I might be wrong. I’ve got a wife and grown-up daughters though so it can be something of a default setting for me!

  2. In the aftermath of Katrina, Gov Barbour of MS did an outstanding job of communicating:
    What he knew,
    What he didn’t know,
    When he’d find out,
    And promising – and keeping the promise – to come back with the answer.

    Gov Blanco of LA really did none of these. Surprise, surprise! MS recovered sooner than LA, even though much the poorer state. Given good information and trust, people will figure out the right things to do – and generally do them. We’re seeing the same thing now in Covid communications. Compare FL, SC, SD, GA and others to NY, NJ and PA.

  3. > have experts always been explicit in acknowledging unknowns? Complexity? Conflicts of interest? Inconvenient data? And, importantly, their own values?

    Is Nic Lewis an expert?

  4. “Inform but do not persuade” was the method I used when successfully selling securities and financial products — products that always included a measure of uncertainty. One client (husband and wife) sat down at my desk while we were in the depths of the last financial crisis and started by saying, “We know you told us this could happen but that doesn’t make it feel any better.” They didn’t fire me.

    Scientists, prognosticators and futurists who claim to know anything with absolute certainty are lying and should be treated as unreliable sources.

    I’m certain of that :)

  5. Freeman Dyson has been more clear than most on the proper scientific way to look at things but no one will listen to him until they at the least know that political bias, self-interest and fear-mongering must be put aside first.

  6. This all sounds nice but if the issues are complex then most of it is impossible. There may be hundreds of uncertainties and a vast array of what we don’t know. For example, nothing about climate change could ever be written if it had to meet this standard. Same for Covid.

    I touch on this here: https://www.cfact.org/2020/11/17/the-structure-of-complex-issues/.

    • Here is an example. A modeling group wants to report some of their CMIP6 results, especially that their ECS is higher than it was in CMIP5. The uncertainties with the models are legion. The uncertainties with ECS are if anything worse. The unknowns are varied and deep. The article is limited to a few pages.

      The only issues this proposed standard applies to are important ones and important issues are almost always complex, where this standard makes no sense.

      • Just in that statement haven’t you ‘Discloseded the Uncertainties’ (though not in detail) and ‘Stated the Evidence quality’?

      • *A modeling group wants to report some of their CMIP6 results, especially that their ECS is higher than it was in CMIP5. The uncertainties with the models are legion. The uncertainties with ECS are if anything worse. The unknowns are varied and deep.*

        If what is said here, *The uncertainties with the models are legion. The uncertainties with ECS are if anything worse. The unknowns are varied and deep* is true, then how do they know that their ECS is higher than it was in CMIP5, and since the uncertainties are worse and the unknowns varied and deep, why would they want to make that report? The more I ponder it, the more obvious it becomes that these hypothetical modellers *Believe* that ECS is a problem, and they want to leverage the number that popped out of their model to raise alarm, whether the number is true or false.

      • The great Harvard biologist E.O.Wilson put it nicely: “I must always remember that I could be wrong” (Consolience).Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S7 – powered by Three

      • David – be aware that climate sensitivity is based on the assumption of radiative forcing as the only external driver of climate change. I make a good case that gravity forcing will be the new talking point in the near future. Gravity theory isn’t settled therefore climate science isn’t settled.

      • “…this standard makes no sense.”

        Except for this:
        Inoculate against misinformation

        …and then up pops Alan with: its gravity what done it. You may be right about “complex issues” David but there is no excuse, none, ( is that being too certain?) no its not, NONE for misinforamtion and disinformation both of which are on display on ‘contrarian’ blogs like this. All too frequently this sort of complete rubbish go unchallenged let alone uncorrected – and then rarely by any of the regular cheer-squad. No, its the so-called “alarmists” who ironically do most of the debunking.

        Alan, there is no evidence that gravity has caused modern global warming. If you’ve recently read some credible research, post a link. You won’t because you can’t, there is none. You’ve put two and two together and come up with five and as such you are peddling misinformation. Don’t worry, you’re not Robinson Crusoe.

        Is CO2 a radiative gas that can act to increase surface temperature?
        Has the concentration increased in the last 200 years?
        Is the increased CO2 concentration due to human activity?
        Has it warmed as a result?

        These fundamental questions have all been repeatedly answered and there are thousands of highly credible research papers that add support.
        A massive body of work. None of them even remotely contraversial, so uncontraversial in fact that even Judith will give tacit assent.

        There are really only two important, objective but complex unsettled climate science questions: How much more will it warm? And for how long? Niether of which have anything to do with the sun, cosmic rays, polar bears or gravity.

        So I would say to you Judith, if nothing else, at least show a little less tolerance of what is patently bs.

      • Loydo – I welcome your intellectual banter on the issue of tidal forcing as a driver of natural climate variability which Judith agrees is at least 50% of current climate change. Your response of ‘it’s not in a peer-reviewed paper therefore it’s not valid’ is the kind of response one gets from the Skeptical Science blog site.

        Some key points which lend itself to consider the tidal forcing hypothesis:

        (i) the ocean tidal range is increasing at an alarming rate.
        (ii) the solid body Earth tides haven’t been checked to see whether they’re increasing.
        (iii) sea-level rise measured by satellite *assumes* solid body Earth tides are constant.
        (iv) the ocean tropical waters are widening.
        (v) the deep ocean abyssal plane is warming.
        (vi) equatorial waters are cooling.
        (vi) pacific cold tongue upwelling mechanism of increased easterly winds not supported by data. (vii) indian cold tongue *exactly* on the line of equator.
        (viii) pacific cold tongue *exactly* on the line of the equator.
        (ix) net zero temperature change in sweden over last 70 years.
        (x) current gravity theory unable to dovetail with quantum mechanics.

        I could go on..

      • You do go on – and all of it complete nonsense.

      • Robert – your responses are unscientific and laughable. Let someone else take over..

      • Lol!! Let’s keep each other amused because I think we’re all gonna need it come the Great Reset agenda

      • You’re not really helping to foster rational discussion. It would be better if you left it to the adults.

      • No, I avoided the “peer” phrase for that very reason, it frustratingly triggers libertarians and Dunning-Krugers. But bugger me you still got triggered.

        D. AnythingbutCO2, var hopefulnutter, known locally as Alan ‘It’s the tides’ Lowey

        Alan it is not gravity and it not tidal, it is CO2. Your CO2 and my CO2.

        Please re-read my four questions above. You need to aquaint yourself with that body of scientific evidence as starting point for any helpful banter. And yes there is plenty to banter about, but until then you seem destined for a nasty surprise.

      • There is rather a dominant scientific paradigm of greenhouse gases in a complex dynamical system.

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

      • Experiencing the climate roll under the sofa is going to be a nasty surprise for all of us, not just Alan.

      • Lol!! Loydo – you’re even more amusing than Robert – and that’s saying something! Lol..

      • And here I was thinking that any joke was beyond him.

      • Alan

        i) the ocean tidal range is increasing at an alarming rate.

        Do you have a citation?

      • cerescokid – the links are given in the article:

        “Between 2000 and 2015, high-tide flooding in the U.S. doubled from an average of three days per year to six along the Northeast Atlantic, according to a 2018 NOAA report. It is especially common along the East Coast and Gulf Coast, where the frequency is up by roughly 200% over the last two decades. In some areas like Annapolis, the numbers are even more extreme. Annapolis had a record 18 days of high-tide flooding from May 2019 to April 2020, according to flooding thresholds for the city established by NOAA. That’s up from the previous record of 12 days in 2018. Before 2015, the record number of high-tide flood days in one year was seven, and the yearly average of high-tide floods from 1995 to 2005 was two.”

        https://sealevel.nasa.gov/news/203/beating-back-the-tides

      • cerescokid – In the western isles of Scotland the tides are reported to encroach upto 5m a year, threatening the airstrip. The local crofter tells of increasing winds that last for days.

        An increase in tidal energy is a better fit than meltwater runoff:

      • cerescokid – the second paper linked to in the article has very interesting data in Figure 7a. It shows the different flooding areas prone during the phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation. This to me is further evidence which lends itself to an orbital inclination cycle of the Sun’s dark matter core. There are three phases of ENSO. The neutral phase would be when the inclination is changing from one direction to the other, analogous to the bipolar seesaw in glacial data.

        A lot can be deduced from this data with respect to ocean currents and the effects of tidal forcing on slightly different angles of inclination..

    • Since Loydo hijacked my thread I reply here to this comment:
      “Matthew Bruha | November 21, 2020 at 6:09 pm |
      Just in that statement haven’t you ‘Discloseded the Uncertainties’ (though not in detail) and ‘Stated the Evidence quality’?”

      No, I am sure simply saying “there’s lots of uncertainties and unknowns” does not satisfy their implied standard. For major complex issues their to-do list is simply impossible.

  7. 4 principles of ‘corridors of clarity’ – https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biaa115/5936130

    (1) follow the strongest and most direct path between policy decisions on outcomes

    (2) focus on finding sufficient evidence for policy purpose

    (3) prioritize no-regrets policies by avoiding options with controversial, uncertain, or immeasurable benefits

    https://www.excellentdevelopment.com/our-strategy

    (4) aim for getting the big picture roughly right rather than focusing on details.

    People in the 21st century are pushing at nonlinear planetary boundaries – the world is – not might be or in future – in great peril.

    • >” … aim for getting the big picture roughly right rather than focusing on details”

      If the details are wrong, then the big picture is stuffed, isn’t it, sport ?
      You remind me of Mann when he decided that the stratigraphy of varved shales could be interpreted accurately even when the sequence was inadvertently read upside-down … oh, well.

      • Do you have any evidence that the big picture on planetary boundaries or crashing wildlife populations is wrong? Start with what is reasonably well known and proceed to rational responses. We can add to the babbling incoherence rife here or not. You have made your choice.

      • Ianl

        “If the details are wrong, then the big picture is stuffed”

        You are absolutely correct on that. Here’s an example.

        If not for the irrational fear of nuclear power – caused by the belief in the false LNT hypothesis [1] and the anti-nuclear protest movement [2] – the cost of nuclear power could now be around 10% of what it is and it could be supplying most of the world’s electricity [3]. “Nuclear power is and always has been the safest way to generate electricity. In the USA and Europe electricity generation with coal causes 150,000 more deaths per TWh than nuclear, natural gas 40,000 more and wind 1,500 more.” [4]

        Furthermore, by now it could be supplying a significant proportion of the world’s transport fuels [5].

        The result would be that the global economy and human well-being would be much greater than they are. The poorer economies would be growing faster and the poor would be emerging from poverty much faster than they are.

        1. See four comments starting here: https://judithcurry.com/2020/11/19/cultural-motivations-for-wind-and-solar-renewables-deployment/#comment-933017

        2. Daubert, V.; Moran, S.E. Origins, Goals, and Tactics of the U.S. Anti-Nuclear Protest Movement; Rand Corporation: Santa Monica, CA, USA, 1985. https://www.rand.org/pubs/notes/N2192.html

        3. Refer to Sections 3.3 and 3.4, Table 3 and Figure 7 here: https://doi.org/10.3390/en10122169

        4. See four comments starting here: https://judithcurry.com/2020/11/19/cultural-motivations-for-wind-and-solar-renewables-deployment/#comment-933019

        5. See this comment: https://judithcurry.com/2020/11/19/cultural-motivations-for-wind-and-solar-renewables-deployment/#comment-933048

      • “A robust nuclear power industry is important for the national and energy security of our country. If the US is going to lead the world into a future of nuclear power, we must develop advanced reactors based on new
        technologies that meet all of the criteria you established in the FY 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bill: namely, that they would “dramatically improve nuclear power performance including sustainability, economics,
        and safety and proliferation resistance.” Christina Back

        The starting point is today and finding simpler ways to communicate with an overwhelmingly skeptical public.

    • Regarding this one: “prioritize no-regrets policies by avoiding options with controversial, uncertain, or immeasurable benefits.” In the climate case there are no such policies because the very existence of the threat is controversial.

      • Rotational grazing is a practice that improves farm productivity and environments. That it sequesters massive amounts of CO2 in soils is almost beside the point. You may hold on to your delusion that climate risk is debatable – but it really doesn’t matter.

      • Hi Robert,

        Good stuff and I corresponded briefly with Gave Brown who appears in the film. I asked him if he used methane-reducing feed additives like Asparogopsis taxiformis in livestock feed. He didn’t totally discount them but reckoned the methanotrophic bacteria his methods built up in the soil meant the value they added was limited. Some boost growth though (see work at the Rowett Institute a while back) so maybe still worth a look. The carbon capture in soil is a win-win situation though.

  8. In March the US surgeon general advised the public that masks were ineffective because it was feared the public would dry up the supply of N95 respirator quality masks that were urgently needed by medical staff. That advice quickly shifted once the washable fabric and cheap disposable alternative masks became available. The reasoning was based on the assumption of large particle mode of transmission, the six-foot travel type, which we know now is largely incorrect.

    But if mask wearing still offers even minimal protection to the wearer, and possibly very significant protection to others when and infected person is masked, it can still be argued to be efficacious. This all seems straight forward and reasonable. So why the huge controversy? It’s because of a breakdown in trust from dissemination of filtered information from authorities based on a seemingly default lack of trust of the public. This dynamic is a vicious spiral leading to overstepping of authority met by civil resistance, all exacerbated by political scapegoating and tribal vilification.

    How do we break the cycle? Authorities could try Spiegelhalter’s 5 points. Why not?

    • Ron – the problem is often not the original officials who communicate, but the amplification taking place through ‘media outlets’.

      If you ever looked in the past at how a right wing newspaper communicated vs a left wing newspaper (presumably based on the same briefing by officials), you immediately learn that the media do not follow these rules. Not at all. In the UK, there is hardly any left wing newspaper left at all, it is now a variety of neocon brands, all owned by tax-avoiding men with closer to billions than millions in wealth.

      The reason is simple: media outlets are for-profit entities with decades of experience in how to make the most money from their readers.

      They are, in my experience, emotional drug dealers who want their junkies coming back day after day for their next ‘fix’.

      ‘Headlines’ are always inflammatory.

      When was the last time the front page said: ‘All’s well, have a good weekend’?

      Never.

      It is one manufactured crisis after another, often with the manufactured crisis being a misdirectional ploy so that other underhand activities do not get reported when there is still a chance of the crucial activities being stopped.

      Go look at 9/11 reporting and how it rapidly turned from reporting into propaganda.

      Go look at Russia bashing.

      Go look at Covid19.

      Go look at the way Trump was reported in the media since 2016.

      The media, in my opinion, are the biggest problem in the ‘free world’. They do not abide to standards which promote societal health, but our cultures say we should interfere with how they operate.

      It would be very interesting to see a scientific study carried out on those who religiously read MSM output every day (and believe it) vs those who read it occasionally (mostly disbelieving it) vs those who live free of all contact with the MSM for five years.

      I would be amazed if those in constant communion with the MSM were healthier than those who ignored it like the plague, but I don’t have any data to back up that strongly felt hunch right now.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        rtj,
        When considering matters like these, I tend is refer to a yardstick question about popular communications, that question being “How did the gun come to figure in such a high % of Americal movies?”
        There is no benefit that is easily seen. The gun has become unevenful in movies, when innocent bystanders might wonder what on Earth the gun has got to do with anything they are likely to meet. It is irrational, yet it displays the force of heavy repetition by media, who do not even seem to know anymore that they continue to push a destructive influence.
        If you can work out this gun puzzle, you might ask if similar plays are at work with global warming. Geoff S

      • RTJ,
        Yes. We need our journalists not to be corrupted into being entertainers and propogandists just like we need doctors not to turn into drug pushers and lawyers not be… well you know.

        What are the governors against such societal decay? Good education? Maybe that is the starting point. How do we bring open thought and critical thinking back into education?

  9. I haven’t commented here in a long time but this bears noting:

    I have made what is for me a fairly discouraging discovery about social media.

    I’m a writer (definitely not the day job – and worse the writing is poetry), I have grown kids with whom I am in contact, constantly teasing and joking and I have a brilliant wife. This all contributes to me being blessed with an environment which supports and encourages facile language and quick repartee.

    I tried for a long long time to use reason, to try to understand the other person’s position repeat it back to them and then suggest that there might be another legitimate perspective. I’d show them how their argument didn’t follow, yada yada. I eventually decided that it was all futile and gave up.

    Then one day I was on a page and someone was being arrogant and wrong all that the same time (and this time it wasn’t me). As arrogant is a favorite hot button of mine, I let go. I flogged the guy with a flurry of insults and memes, some of which contained crumbs of a data but not much…After some pretty vitriolic back and forth (I like to think mine was at least pretty funny) he apologized and said that he could see that maybe I had a point. I almost had a heart attack. That was the first time anyone had indicated on FB (or social media in general) that they might be open to changing their mind. We had a civil back and forth after that point.

    Okay, that’s a one off. However, that’s happened twice since. And that has been the only context in which I’ve seen people want to engage with anything like an open mind. WTLH???

    My wife’s take on this is: “Yes. But at what price your soul?”

  10. Energy and climate are two topics that go hand in hand, obviously. This commentary seems mainly on climate science. I plead regularly for better evidence for future energy science, technology and strategy. Just this morning I dropped this on Twitter: “I hate seeing #energy policies based on little more than speculative projections for #renewables that rely on motivated reasoning. OK, I might well be wrong. But please take these concerns seriously! Energy is just too important.” My expectations for responses are low but I refuse to give up. And by the way, the reaction is often that people who don’t have faith in solar and wind energy must also be “climate deniers”. It’s grim out there.

  11. The evidence communication style of this presentation is compelling and the final footage of German armed forces breaking into a doctors livestream is ‘one of those moments’:

  12. Surely, if we all think rationally, we should all arrive at the same conclusion when presented with the same evidence. If we don’t then whatever we are being told should be ignored.

    • Easier said than done.

      • Too true, especially as I suspect most of us have mental baggage and preconceptions about what constitutes rational. I certainly do.

    • Depends what subject you are talking about, depends what your fundamental values are. When assigning absolute value to different scenarios are all but impossible, behaving exactly rationally is probably a pipedream.

      For example: how do you value an unborn foetus vs the life of an adult who got raped, was made pregnant, was not in a position to support a child financially and would be a much better mother if they could have their first child in four or five years following consensual sex with a supportive partner?

      The history of the USA since 1950 suggests that you will not get unanimity on what is more important….

    • No NIMN, that is what I call the Lockean fallacy. In complex cases intelligent people can look at the same evidence and come to opposite conclusions. The reason (Wojick’s first law) is that the weight of every piece of evidence is relative to the observer.

      For example in the climate case, some people regard the modeling results as very strong evidence, while others consider it very weak. More broadly some people already believe that humans are destroying the environment while others do not believe this.

      This relativity of weight extends to and explains multiple party political systems. The US Founding Fathers were big fans of Locke. So they failed to anticipate and were shocked by the rise of the two party system.

  13. “Avoid unwarranted certainty, neat narratives and partisan presentation; strive to inform, not persuade”

    And don’t get emotionally involved with the subject??

    • Spot on! Trying to get it right should be the aim but trying to prove I’m right is always the temptation!

    • It’s actually quite hard not to get emotionally involved and still be motivated to reach sufficient levels of professionalism, accuracy and reliability.

      Particularly where injustice is clearly currently prevalent, the reason people actually become active in some field is usually because some strong emotional response was triggered, be it pity, anger, sympathy, sadness, sorrow, outrage etc.

  14. Pingback: Five rules for evidence communication |

  15. Pingback: Five rules for evidence communication | | Climate- Science.press

  16. The biggest glacier in Greenland, Jacobshavn, in 2016 reversed from shrinking to growing. Dramatically. This was covered until 2019.

    But in 2020 there is silence on the current status of the glacier.

    Does anyone know the current status of Jacobshavn? Is it still growing? Ocean based trends are typically slow so rapid back and forth is unlikely.

    The stony media silence that has fallen over Jacobshavn is curious. Anyone have any updates in the last few months of 2020?

    • Interesting. Tambora’s eruption in 1815 shows that climate could (although improbably) take an unexpected turn although the undersea methane escapes in the Laptev sea and elsewhere give huge cause for concern. Changes in the Gulf Stream and the Beaufort Gyre might even cool the UK and Ireland in a warming world.

      The obvious solution (to me anyway) involves adopting measures like reducing waste, restoring fish stocks, silviculture and combining conservation with careful usage all of which make sense regardless of what happens next and which also help if (say) a
      major food crop collapsed. Grassy stunt virus was a massive concern in the 1970s as a threat to global rice supplies. Unfortunately the last 30-40 years have seen huge debate on climate change instead of adopting such win-win options. I despair at times.

      • The reality is that if you use narrow profit-based motives for doing anything, you are unlikely to find holistically optimal solutions.

        I personally think the major debate globally right now should be around at what size of organisation the healthy profit motive (from start-up to a 250 employees certainly) starts to become less healthy and at what point maximising profits through tax avoidance introduces fissures sufficiently great in society that the whole basis for capitalism comes under scrutiny…

      • An economic system boiling down to “make more money, buy more stuff” is likely to misfire sooner rather than later. One recent estimate (Professor Gordon Marshall at the Leverhulme Institute was that eleven (!) fully used planets would be needed for everyone to have well-off US lifestyles and jobs to afford them. Ouch!

      • “I personally think the major debate globally right now should be around at what size of organisation the healthy profit motive (from start-up to a 250 employees certainly) starts to become less healthy..”

        I used the same methodology and put the figure at 2000 employees max. A CEO has to take full responsibility and can’t use the infamous “I didn’t know how my company works” etc or “We’re too big to fail” aka the financial crash 2008.

      • Thanks for your comments, I agree that endless growth is the model of a cancer, not a healthy organism with a future. But the corporate suits just can’t let go of those growth targets. Everything is built around them.

      • There are suggestions that capitalism has intrinsic flaws that make the complete dismantling of markets necessary. It always begs the question of what it is to be replaced with. The usual suspect is that capitalism requires growth and perpetual growth is impossible in a finite world. This is an idea based on a mathematical abstraction that lacks essential real world parameters.

        We may recycle, substitute for finite resources or innovate in products and services that minimise resource use – entertainment, education, finance. We may expand the resource base beyond the planet. We are at any rate at a point where development is sorely needed in the world – and economic growth is still self-evidently possible.

        Thomas Piketty suggests that wealth tends to concentrate in capitalist markets if the rate of return on capital exceeds economic growth. Although we should include interest rates, inflation and redistribution in the Piketty inequality. Inflation and interest rates should be managed to vary within a tight range. We should perhaps tinker with redistribution – as Piketty further suggests – before advocating the overthrow of capitalism.

      • Hi Robert,

        Capitalism certainly beats communism as shown by Mao’s infamous famine (1958 to 1962) and North Korea’s problems. “Make more money, buy more stuff” is also difficult to fight against unless we can do that by carefully and productively using nature instead of either looting it or naively hoping to have no impact on it. E O Wilson’s “The Diversity of Life” not only argued eloquently for careful usage of rainforests, he costed the potential benefits and suggested that far better returns over a longer period could be achieved than by short-term vandalism. I think this is worth a try; what do you reckon? Silviculture, aquaponics, silvo-pastoral methods, other integrated systems and not regarding Myxomatosis and RHD / RVHD in Europe & Australia as more sensible than eating rabbits all strike me as obvious ides, together with restoring fish stocks or even having fruit trees in the garden.

        Regards, Iain

      • Experience teaches us that there are ways to manage global resources beyond the tragedy of the commons. There is an Elinor Ostrom video on how that’s done linked below. The Iriai are here to help and give understanding to people.

    • Here is the relevant nasa report. It says that the growth since 2016 has continued till 2019.

      https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2882/jakobshavn-glacier-grows-for-third-straight-year/

  17. Willis Eschenbach is admired by more than just a couple of online “skeptics” for his approach to presenting evidence.

    Well, here we go…

    > So I would consider 0.085% of the population dying to be a hard upper limit on what the disease does when you do nothing. No country to date has gotten there, and there is no sign that any country will get there after the virus subsides.

    https://judithcurry.com/2020/06/21/did-lockdowns-really-save-3-million-covid-19-deaths-as-flaxman-et-al-claim/#comment-919556

    Now I tried to tell Willis, as the time, that he was underestimating the impact of uncertainty…but he didn’t want to listen.

    For the US, if we project from current numbers who have already died from COVID and add a projection of those that are currently infected and are likely to die… (let’s say 300k total)… we will likely be at 0.09% at a minimum.

    Belgium is already at 0.14%

    And BTW, here’s what Nic Lewis said at the time…

    > the convergence in your graph of lines approaching the 0.085% of population deaths level is certainly suggestive of somewhere near that being a possible upper limit.

    https://judithcurry.com/2020/06/21/did-lockdowns-really-save-3-million-covid-19-deaths-as-flaxman-et-al-claim/#comment-919633

    • This is useful for evaluating Willis’ nutty theory about COVID deaths that Nic apparently found plausible – and which gives us a window into the treatment of uncertainty by two prominent online “skeptics”:

    • Joshua: Willis Eschenbach is admired by more than just a couple of online “skeptics” for his approach to presenting evidence.

      Did lockdowns really save 3 million COVID-19 deaths as flaxman et al claim?

      No.

      Willis’ presentation of the evidence was quite clear. His estimated upper bound was a little low for Belgium and the US. As you noted, but think vacuous or something, everyone makes mistakes. But his presentation of the data at the time was admirable, and quantitatively, that error was smaller than most errors of COVID forecasts.

      Now I tried to tell Willis, as the time, that he was underestimating the impact of uncertainty…but he didn’t want to listen.

      Now your estimate for the US is 0.09, compared to his estimated upper bound (so far, at the time) of 0.085. Does your estimate support the claim of Flaxman et al?

      • > Willis’ presentation of the evidence was quite clear. His estimated upper bound was a little low for Belgium and the US.

        A little low? Lol. We aren’t done yet. Belgium has already blown through it. And it’s considerably higher already in a number of other countries as well. And part of the reason why it hasn’t already gone considerably further past the magical 0.85% in each of those countries are the interventions which have been put into place (even if you believe that the deaths would have reached the same point eventually, obviously the interventions have reduced the deaths in the short term as of now and as reflected in the current number of deaths relative to the population). Willis’ nutty theory was that absent any interventions deaths would cap out at 0.85%. Willis put a theoretical “hard” limit on deaths from COVID and obviously his theory was just WRONG. There is no magical mechanism by which the deaths from the virus cap out at 0.85%, as Willis thought. Willis just believed in magic.

        Now that’s not entirely surprising as (1) Willis had no idea what he was talking about and was just pulling stuff out of his a$$ after looking at a graph of short term tends and making up a causal mechanism to explain the pattern of the lines and (2) Willis is highly triggered, and thus “motivated” on the topic.

        > Now your estimate for the US is 0.09, compared to his estimated upper bound (so far, at the time) of 0.085.

        My “estimate” is based on the number of deaths ALREADY in the pipeline as the result of those already infected. A vaccine will be helping us to keep the total number infected down, but given the logistical obstacles of rolling the vaccine out, the % infected is quite likely in reality to go above the 0.09% of my “estimate” because between now and when the vaccine is distributed more people will get infected and thus die from that infection.

        The bottom line is that Willis’ theory was a nutty belief in magic, and Nic is on record as thinking a magical mechanism limiting deaths from COVID was plausible.

      • Early on it was clear that the IFR in nursing homes was very high …about 30%. There are 1.5 million people in nursing homes in the USA. That by itself would result in 500,000 deaths just in the USA. People are failing to consider the exponential increase in IFR based on age. It is so pronounced that a population wide IFR is difficult to calculate and not that meaningful IMO. I am reminded of the caution Dr. Ioannidis stated in his early NEJM article…the common cold CV can have an 8% IFR in nursing homes.

        Herd immunity for most viruses is a myth. Viruses change sero-type too quickly.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        dougbadgero,
        You are right about a population wider IFR being not useful. It varies from very near zero for people under 30 to near 30% for those over age 85 (data from 52,000 confirmed Florida cases). Worse, many asymptomatic cases will be missed, especially among younger people, so even estimating the age specific IFR is very difficult. It is futile to try to place an upper bound on number of fatalities without examining the age profile of the population and the age specific infection fatality rate. Many countries with median ages below 20 have so few deaths that covid-19 can’t even be considered much of a public health problem.

        That the severity of outcome is so dependent on age is both a problem and an opportunity: the opportunity is that the population in real need of protection/isolation is only a smallish fraction of the total. My critique of public policies in most places is that those policies are not ar all designed to minimize exposure of those at risk, but rather minimize exposure mainly to those not at risk. I find it very odd.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        “ Herd immunity for most viruses is a myth. Viruses change sero-type too quickly.”
        .
        The rate of change seems to vary quit a lot depending on the virus. We are about to do a very large world-wide test, and then we will know whether or not long term herd immunity to covid-19 is possible. There is some conflicting data, of course, but the tiny number of documented cases of re-infection (I think 5 or 6 worldwide) does suggest the virus does not change very quickly. The worst case outcome is a need to update vaccines if the viruse changes significantly.

      • I would expect the IFR for COVID 19 to drop as it does during other pandemics. Herd immunity, as usually discussed, is misunderstood though. The popular equation is for a homogeneously mixed population with constant connectivity and an unchanging virus. A situation that simply doesn’t exist in the real world.

      • stevefitzpatrick

        dougbadgero,
        The simple models of infection spread are all terribly wrong, of course, for the reasons you noted plus others. I think the suggestion that models provide useful policy guidance is risible on its face.

      • Doug –

        > Early on it was clear that the IFR in nursing homes was very high …about 30%.

        So you have a link for that. I have to wonder if that is a CFR.

        I agree that an aggregated IFR is of limited value – and not only because of the age stratification. The importance of all of influencing variables, such as race/ethnicity or SES or even the interaction of other correlates to those variables such as baseline health status and # of comorbidities or housing status, all tend to get lost in an aggregated IFR.

        And them there’s the problem whereby the % of true cases ascertained has changed dramatically over time, laefely resulting from only the more severe cases being identidied early on.

        One problem I see is that some people tend to over-evaluate the effect of improved treatments when they look at the higher ratio of identified cases to deaths now as compared to months ago when probably a good chunk of that increase in the ratio is because a higher % of true cases are being identified.

  18. I am minded to suggest that until Nature (and Science) for that matter change their editorial policies to remove the flagrant bias toward articles pushing particular agendas that publishing a comment such as the one described in this article is not really going to change their known credentials for climate alarmism and other partisan positions.

  19. There is a new article from the Stockholm Resilience Center on four principles of ‘corridors of clarity’.

    https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biaa115/5936130

    The four principles are:

    (1) follow the strongest and most direct path between policy decisions on outcomes

    (2) focus on finding sufficient evidence for policy purpose

    (3) prioritize no-regrets policies by avoiding options with controversial, uncertain, or immeasurable benefits

    (4) aim for getting the big picture roughly right rather than focusing on details.

    The global economy is worth about $100 trillion a year. To put aid and philanthropy into perspective – the total is 0.025% of the global economy. If spent on Copenhagen Consensus smart development goals such expenditure can generate a benefit to cost ratio of more than 15. If spent on the UN Sustainable Development Goals you may as well p!ss it up against a wall. Either way – it is nowhere near the major path to universal prosperity. Some 3.5 billion people make less than $2 a day. Changing that can only be done by doubling and tripling global production – and doing it as quickly as possible. Optimal economic growth is essential and that requires an understanding and implementation of explicit principles for effective economic governance of free markets. So what are these laws of capitalism? Aiming to avoid bubbles and busts is the core.

    https://watertechbyrie.com/2016/03/11/all-bubbles-burst-laws-of-economics-for-the-new-millennium/

    The big picture on planetary boundaries shows us what to focus on to avoid running out of planets. Excess nutrients in waterways results in blue-green algae, lake eutrophication and coastal zone anoxia. Fixing excess export of nutrients involves water management in urban centers, minimizing wind and water erosion, increasing the carbon content of soils and vegetation through cover crops and rotational grazing, precision application of farming inputs, etc – in a highly productive farming system that secures the global food supply. Conserving and restoring wetlands, forests and rangelands and reclaiming deserts can reverse crashing populations of 1000’s of species that we know of.

    The late, sainted Elinor Ostrom explains how to move beyond ‘the tragedy of the commons’.

  20. Scnhieder has passed, of course,
    but consider the old quote in the context of the rules:

    Inform, not persuade
    Offer balance, not false balance
    Disclose uncertainties
    State evidence quality
    Inoculate against misinformation

    “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.”

  21. stevefitzpatrick

    Judith,
    I am reminded of the old joke that the cure for cancer is robust good health. Advocate scientists are a bit like that cancer…. they are not ever going to suddenly behave differently, and brung “good health” to science, because they don’t want to…. they want their personal policy preferences instituted, and that is all.

    • Steve –

      > they are not ever going to suddenly behave differently, and brung “good health” to science, because they don’t want to…. they want their personal policy preferences institute

      How ’bout Nic? I mean when he gets out of the witness protection program, that is.

      • Nic has much better things to do than respond to a nuisance anonymous non-scientist on the internet who never really does more than give random quotes and lengthy monologues with little real content. Grow up and do something someone else will value.

      • I would think he’d want to clarify why Sweden currently has among the highest rates of COVID infection, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and at least for now the highest death rate among Nordic countries even though he said they’d reached a HIT six months ago.

        I’m sure people who are smarter and less of a nuisance and who do things ofote value than I would appreciate an explanation as to whether his theories have been falsified.

        After all, as a leading light of fanatical online “skeptics,” it might carry some meaning if his analysis turned out to be just flat out wrong.

        I mean it could be troublesome, on top of his mistaken conclusion that Willis’ nutty theories about a cap on the population fatality rate of COVID were plausible. Don’t you think it’s important that Nic at least clarify whether his many posts about herd immunity had fatal flaws?

        Judith always points out the importance of respecting uncertainty. I mean as a non-anonymous, non-nuisance scientist who writes concise comments with non-random quotes while also doing things of great value to humanity, don’t you think it would be ironic if Nic put up posts at Climate Etc. that were fatally flawed in their lack of accounting for uncertainties?

      • And David –

        As always I just want to note my appreciation for your high standards and refusal to engage in ad homs. If you didn’t uphold such a high standard, one might be tempted to consider your frequent complaining about ad homs as whiny hypocritical bleating.

      • Joshua, you are a doofus. You have repeated ad nausium that one can’t compare across countries or states (unless you want to do it). You just compared the Nordic countries. Which pseudo-science do you want us to adhere to?

        You have a short memory. A week ago or so you posted a tweet pointing out that R0 will change seasonally. It is quite possible that during the summer Sweden did reach herd immunity. Now that winter is here, that is not the case anymore.

        Nic would be foolish to respond to you until you produce something substantive worth responding to. Nic is very willing to engage any and all constructive commenters. He won’t do that with you. Why do you think that’s true. You are wasting your own time.

      • > Joshua, you are a doofus. You have repeated ad nausium that one can’t compare across countries or states (unless you want to do it). You just compared the Nordic countries. Which pseudo-science do you want us to adhere to?

        Comparing among the Nordic countries makes a lot more sense than comparing Sweden to a country like the US or the UK. But sure, there are dissimilarities there as well. But when you have 10 X as many negative outcomes per capita in Sweden as in Finland, and a much faster rate of spread currently in Sweden, and a much faster rate of hospitalizations, and then try to say that Sweden reached herd immunity six months ago and WE SHOULD HAVE FOLLOWED THEIR POLICIES because six months ago you and Nic looked a flat infection rate in Sweden and tried to extrapolate, then it actually makes sense to point out that currently Sweden is experiencing much, much worse COVID outcomes with no apparent economic benefit from their policy as compared to the most similar countries that also had a flat rate of spread during that exact same period.

        > You have a short memory. A week ago or so you posted a tweet pointing out that R0 will change seasonally. It is quite possible that during the summer Sweden did reach herd immunity. Now that winter is here, that is not the case anymore.

        Right. “Seasonal” herd immunity. So I guess Finland and Norway and Denmark and practically every country in Western Europe also reached summer herd immunity – because they also flattened out in COVID transmissions.

        Lol.

        > Nic would be foolish to respond to you until you produce something substantive worth responding to. Nic is very willing to engage any and all constructive commenters. He won’t do that with you. Why do you think that’s true. You are wasting your own time.

        A bunch of weeks ago he suggested that the increase in disease transmissions in Sweden might be a “blip.” Then he suggested it was only an increase in infections but might not be related to an increase in deaths. Then he suggested that there might not really be a lag time between hospitalizations and deaths in Sweden so the deaths actually might not go up….

        And he thought that Willis’ nutty theory about the death rate capping at 0.85% was plausible.

        I love it.

        And all of this from you, someone who said the pandemic in the US was over during the summer, and wrongly claimed that the spike in cases this summer was only because of increases in asymptomatic capture or identifying cases among young people, etc.

        Thanks for coming back around, David. Your comments are always amusing to read.

      • And David –

        I’m sure that in your non-anonymous, non-nuisance scientist way of writing concise comments with non-random quotes while also doing things of great value to humanity, you recall that you were kind enough to explain to me in your infinitely greater wisdom how it was very unlikely that a vaccine would be developed in time to cap off deaths before the theoretical limit reached by (non-vaccine influenced) community herd immunity?

        I have a question for you. Do you ever learn from your previous mistakes? Maybe at some point you should consider that appealing to your own authority might not be a great way to discuss different views in complex questions?

  22. I’m still having trouble understanding the logic of attributing climate change to us humans – rather than to, say, termites.
    What seems incontrovertible is that
    1. climate change is happening – or rather, hasn’t stopped happening, and
    2. we do not have control of climate change and
    3. CO2 does not have control of climate change.
    A true scientist would look at the natural experiment in 1929-1931, when global human CO2 production went down by 30%, CO2 did not change its indolent rise, and temperature kept rising… until it dropped 10 years later, through WWII and the post war reconstruction CO2 production.

    There is not even a theoretical justification for CO2’s control, since as noted by Arrhenius its GHG effect drops exponentially, with 50% in the first 20 ppm. We are in the 5th half-life of that decline. So CO2 may be one of the least effective forcings, at this time, at these levels.

    Luckily, previous warmings in this Holocene have been very beneficial for our species and not particularly detrimental to others. Let’s not mitigate CO2, rather let’s clean up the air and the water, improve sanitation (especially in those West Coast cities), get the plastics out of the rivers and oceans and prevent it from getting into them, and promote carbon sequestration through agriculture. After all, 30% of the increase in agriculture since 1950 has been attributed to CO2.

    • The 1910 rising temp did not stop until 1941 and the decline did not reverse until the 60s

      • Hi Jimmww,

        A guy called Anthony Bush flagged the slowdown from 1940 to 1960 tp me (and he reckoned as far as 1980). One reason is that much lignite (sulphur rich coal) was burned in that time and sulphur dioxide (often spewed out by volcanoes e.g. Tambora in 1815) can reduce solar input; 1816 was described as a year without a summer.

        I think that the effects of carbon dioxide in terms of trapping IR can be demonstrated in the lab but there is a simpler way forward as I’ve pointed out elsewhere. Many ideas essential if mainstream views are correct make sense if the whole process is completely natural, if it were a damp squib, if temperatures crashed or a major food crop failed e.g. due to disease. Examples are restoring fish stocks, less waste, silviculture, integrated methods involving soil restoration (which improves yields anyway), combining conservation with careful usage, cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels and adopting measures which can dramatically reduce the impact per head of conventional livestock. I accept that this could get me abuse from both sides of the debate as I spoil the argument about who is right by proposing win-win measures which render the question less important. I apologise for being a spoilsport here!

        Regards (and keep well), Iain Climie

      • Decadal to millennial variability emerges from the Pacific Ocean. The energy dynamic involves positive low level marine stratocumulus feedback to sea surface temperature.

        But definitely add ‘blue carbon’ to the mix. Conserving and restoring mangroves enhance fisheries, provides a timber resource for local communities, protects coastlines from storm, surge and sea level rise and sequesters immense amounts of carbon as sediment settles at high tide slack water.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPiK9zthe high tide eX2OY&ab_channel=BlueCarbonLab

      • But Iain, that doesn’t address my discomfort. No one, including you, is taking note of the undisputed facts that I stated. The maybe there was some coal dust or SO2 in the air doesn’t seem apposite.

      • HI again,

        Aren’t you looking at explanations for past phenomena though when the focus should be more on focussing how to move forward? I apologise if that sounds cynical or suggests I don’t give two hoots about what is true but, if we have win-win options to go with, shouldn’t we pursue those regardless given the range of risks we face. You can tell I’m not a pure scientist to be fair; I work in engineering risk assessment although my academic background originally was statistics. I strayed into engineering on a whim and my employers realised I could answer “Is this piece of kit sufficiently unlikely to crash this aircraft by accident?” well enough and kick up a fuss if not, while helping to find solutions. No I didn’t work on Boeing’s 737 Max 8 where insufficient backup had predictable consequences.

        The food security issue is a sideline but rather more important than the day job. I sympathise if you think I’m trampling horribly on scientific rigour here though.

      • Ellison, your chart shows temps declining through the early 70s, consonant with the famous predictions of The Coming Ice Age. That doesn’t address the facts I’ve cited.

      • It shows natural decadal variability. And I don’t thin your ‘facts’ mean much.

      • Iain – I’m not looking for “explanations for past phenomena”, merely pointing out that there is nothing in past history or in theory to support the notion that CO2 at these levels is in control of climate change – not to the upside, and certainly not to the downside when prior ice ages have had CO2 levels in the thousands.
        Where then does the notion come from then? Perhaps from the idea, which you imply, that doing something is better than doing nothing. There’s no historical justification for that, either.

        Ellison – My facts don’t mean anything to you because you refuse to accept anything as fact which causes cognitive dissonance. Quite understandable. Entirely human.
        Or you could turn the scientist switch and decide to refute one of those facts. Easy enough, eh?
        Left to stand they indicate that CO2 is not in control of climate change, and we are not in control of CO2.
        Climate change is a given, not a problem. CO2 mitigation is not a solution, it is a problem.

      • HI Jimmww,My point is that action to ensure food security makes sense regardless.  Look at Tambora’s effects, grassy stunt virus and this year’s massive locust damage in Kenya, Somaloia and other countries.   Yet there is no defined responsibility for food security and gluts misfire in free markets.  So the precautions I noted make sense regardless and it makes further sense to adopt measures which are effective if mainstream climate science is valid.  I accept nobody will want the job or the bill but I’d be arguing for sensible policies here even if there were no worries about heating.Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S7 – powered by Three

      • HI again,

        Inaction is always tempting but assume that climate change is a damp squib. A major crop disease, pests (e.g. African loxust swarms the year) or a VEI 7 event could still create havoc. Yet there is no defined responsibility for food security and gluts misfire in free markets as prices crash. Fish stocks are depleted, land usage is driven by financial considerations and nobody wants the job or bill for storing gluts.

        The measures I’m suggesting (e.g. less waste, restoring fish stocks, silviculture, soil carbon capture) make sense here regardless; look at the US dustbowl for example. It is just a question of covering all bases and cutting food supply risks to an acceptable level. I realise that Yellowstone’ s volcano erupting or a large asteroid impact won’t be survivable. Nobody wants to pay the insurance premium of course, but do you really object to the idea?

      • Based on decades of observations and line by line radiative transfer equations. It is known more or less precisely what has been emitted – I list it below – dispute it if you will – and where more or less it ends up. This warming is superimposed on perpetual change in Hurst-Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics.

      • Yes indeed, Iain: “The measures I’m suggesting (e.g. less waste, restoring fish stocks, silviculture, soil carbon capture) make sense here regardless” Doing the right thing regardless of whether it might benefit climate is very rational indeed.
        As Klaus-Ekhart Puls said, “Scientifically it is sheer absurdity to think we can get a nice climate by turning a CO2 adjustment knob. Many confuse environmental protection with climate protection. it’s impossible to protect the climate, but we can protect the environment and our drinking water. On the debate concerning alternative energies, which is sensible, it is often driven by the irrational climate debate. One has nothing to do with the other.”
        And as I said, getting plastics out of the waters may be the most important thing on the proper agenda.

      • Thanks for that and take care at this difficult time. Good to find common ground.

  23. But Alan, GHG theory predicts that warming from GHG will be
    -more at night
    -more in winter and
    -more at the poles

    • The article is about Arctic ocean warming models not predicting mid-latitude cold winters:

      “Screen added that “what we’re saying, really, is if you take the trends from the 1970s to the present, the trend lines are flat and the models show a muted response.To reconcile that, you have to say the models are wrong. And there is research suggesting that models are underestimating the predictability of things like changes to atmospheric circulation.”

      “Marilena Oltmanns, a climate researcher with the National Oceanography Centre in the United Kingdom, said that one weakness in the models might be that they can’t accurately show a specific mechanism that makes the warming Arctic affect the mid-latitudes.”

  24. Dr Curry,

    …and others.

    This should sound very familiar to you. THIS is how I like my science communication – balanced, and nuanced, but CLEAR.

    “Anyone who says ‘the science is simple’ is either lying or they don’t know what they are talking about”.

    Nic Lewis will be pleased to see population inhomogeneities as a factor in HIT addressed really clearly.

    • I posted that a long time ago. She’s good with regard to covid but knows too much on her own subject to be open minded enough to consider dark matter at Earth’s core.

  25. RTJ,
    Yes. We need our journalists not to be entertainers and propogandists just like we need doctors not to be drug pushers and lawyers not be… well you know.

    What are the governors against such societal decay? Good education? Maybe that is the key to it all. How do we reform education and bring back open thought and critical thinking? If we grant any authority to do the reform how long before that authority is corrupted and the opposite of the original intention is realized?

  26. HI Alan,

    I’d want to know more about why the additive is OK in the US but not in Europe (I’m in the UK) and what the approval (or not) is based on. The routine use of antibiotics in factory farming has been widely criticised as helping create conditions for resistant bacteria but adding Asparogopsis taxiformis (a red alga) at the right concentration to cattle feed can massively reduce methane emissions. Additives and medication can have benefits, with Bovine TB and other livestock diseases a scourge in some places. I’d hope to be sensibly cautious here, rather than complacent or hysterical, but who is benefitting? If it is just to cut prices and reduce fat content to placate consumers worried about bacon being fatty, then I’d be very unhappy – they could always eat less bacon or trim bits off. If there are genuine benefits that would be different.

    I would want more info but would tend towards not using the additive unless really necessary.
    Feel free to shoot me down for fence sitting! I suspect that calm assessment and debate is unlikely on this one (and many other issues) though. Fire away but thanks for that.

  27. The Central England Temperature (CET) record is an instrumental record fortuitously located in a region affected by excursions of the polar annular mode. Excursions drive storms and snow into lower latitudes in response to surface pressure variation.

    Polar excursions have been linked to low solar activity correlating with cold English winters, solar UV interacting with ozone, solar winds interacting with the global electrical circuit, changing geopotential heights in a world in which the Arctic is warming fastest, declining Arctic ice cover… I’d suggest that all these things modulate turbulent ocean and atmosphere flows in a completely deterministic – governed by inertia and viscosity – but seemingly random manner. We really don’t know in anywhere near sufficient detail what’s happening and can’t predict the future. But the turbulent Earth flow field is nonlinear – a small change can precipitate a large shift in the state of the system.

    “Luckily, previous warmings in this Holocene have been very beneficial for our species and not particularly detrimental to others. Let’s not mitigate CO2, rather let’s clean up the air and the water, improve sanitation (especially in those West Coast cities), get the plastics out of the rivers and oceans and prevent it from getting into them, and promote carbon sequestration through agriculture. After all, 30% of the increase in agriculture since 1950 has been attributed to CO2.” Dear little Jimmy

    Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement production – from 1750 to 2011 – was about 365 billion metric tonnes as carbon (GtC), with another 180 GtC from deforestation and agriculture. Of this 545 GtC, about 240 GtC (44%) had accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 GtC (28%) had been taken up in the oceans with slight consequent acidification, and 150 GtC (28%) had accumulated in terrestrial ecosystems. Carbon losses from soils and vegetation has been some 500 GtC since the advent of agriculture at the beginning of the balmy Holocene. Returning some of that to soils and ecosystems is the key to bringing us back from the brink of catastrophe.

    • So, to wrench the dispute back to the imputed control of CO2 on climate change at this time, at these levels…
      1. Granted that water vapor and CO2 and the other GHGs are essential to warming the world above the Stefan-Boltzmann equilibrium, why don’t they correlate properly (i.e. causatively) with the major swings in climate over the past 3 million years? The end-Ordovician (Hirnantian) Ice Age, 440 million years ago, began when CO2 was over 4,000 ppm and lasted a little more than a million years. At the end of that time, with 85% of marine life extinct, when the frigid oceans had inhaled atmospheric CO2 to around 3,000 ppm, the globe suddenly began to warm up, getting back to the 21°C with astonishing speed. We don’t actually know why it cooled so fast and so far, or why it warmed so fast and so far. After all, that was the time of the Cool Young Sun, 96% of today’s irradiance. It’s not just The Pause that doesn’t fit the model.

      2. The earth has spent half of the previous 550 million years around 23°C (20-26C), looking like there’s a tight lid around 25C. Doesn’t that entail strong negative feedback and no “tipping point”?

      3. We don’t know why the P-T extinction warming (to at least 28°C) occurred so fast, nor why it was so brief. What brought the temperature down to 25°C again? Why didn’t it “run away”?
      [[But — Cold extermination: One of greatest mass extinctions was due to an ice age and not to Earth’s warming – “Summary: The Earth has known several mass extinctions over the course of its history. One of the most important happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary 250 million years ago. Over 95% of marine species disappeared and, up until now, scientists have linked this extinction to a significant rise in Earth temperatures. But researchers have now discovered that this extinction took place during a short ice age which preceded the global climate warming. It’s the first time that the various stages of a mass extinction have been accurately understood and that scientists have been able to assess the major role played by volcanic explosions in these climate processes.”]]

      4. Why is the lowest temperature around 12°C? When “snowball earth” occurs, with glaciers almost down to the equator, why doesn’t the albedo force more cooling, more ice, more albedo, and more cooling down to the Stefan-Boltzmann equilibrium of 255K (0°F)?
      [Here’s an interesting discussion of that:
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/09/an-engineers-explanation-of-climate-change/%5D%5D

      5. In other words, why has the earth’s temperature been so stable, mostly ranging from 285K to 295K [excluding excursions of 280-300K] since the end of the Archean Eon 3.5 billion years ago? That’s a median of 290K (62°F), ±2% or so. Climate stability needs an answer, not climate change.


      Over the last 150 years, the average temperature has only varied by plus or minus 0.3%. For a system as complex and ever-changing as the climate, this is nothing short of astounding.

      6. And then, if CO2 is currently close to the lowest it’s been for the last 550 million years, why is it dangerous to produce more?

      7. The emergence from the last glaciation 14,500 years ago was not preceded by CO2 change. The Younger Dryas a few thousand years later was a very rapid cooling succeeded by a very rapid warming, neither reversal preceded by CO2 change. The Holocene Optimum was not preceded by CO2 change, and we’ve been cooling since then. The interval Minoan Warm, Roman Warm, and Medieval Warm and the current Modern were not preceded by CO2 change.

      There is, of course, the magical thinking that leads to Cargo Cult Science. That could be simple devotion to the Climate God — if we build it He – She? – will come.

      The morality of the desired end justifies any necessary deceit, fraud, and coercion along the way. The corollary is “It is immoral to interfere with this care for the planet’s welfare by dissenting on the evidence.” And of course it’s flattering to our notion of self-importance to think that WE can change the climate of the earth. Another version of the Ptolemaic system. We’re special. Cf: Canute, King.

      • You collect snippets and apply them to a political agenda. I am not your stereotype. I have many detailed comments on system operation – and indeed on economics, energy, agriculture and environments. Address these rather than insisting I debate your snippets.

        The goal is prosperous and resilient communities in vibrant landscapes.

      • Thank you Ellison.
        I am relieved to know that you do not dispute the facts that demonstrate that CO2 is not in control of climate change and that we are not in control of CO2. You do indeed have other fish to fry, all of them useful and tasty.

        I am indeed a one-trick pony, intensely concentrated on the pervasive faith in the control that CO2 should have over climate, but doesn’t. It’s quite religious, medieval even, neh?
        My agenda of course is in no way political. Politicians of all stripes – except, it seems, the communists – have that same faith.

        I’m very glad we’ve finally come to agreement. Peace, brother.

      • The rational scientific paradigm is of course nothing of the sort. The evidence is there but you simply tell stories with snippets from skeptic curmudgeon websites that end with disparagement and ridicule of the other in your particular groupthink. Fair enough – sport?

      • No, sport, neither fair nor enough. I give facts certifiable on multiple sites. You haven’t disagreed. You can’t. There is nothing you can say, is there.
        You have already acknowledged that CO2 does not control climate, and we cannot control CO2. Now you seem to want to disparage the paradigm of logic and reason as an oppressive tool of the patriarchy. Well, good luck, cobber. You are the tool. And you know it, in your heart.

    • Robert:
      “Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and cement production – from 1750 to 2011 – was about 365 billion metric tonnes as carbon (GtC), with another 180 GtC from deforestation and agriculture. Of this 545 GtC, about 240 GtC (44%) had accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 GtC (28%) had been taken up in the oceans with slight consequent acidification, and 150 GtC (28%) had accumulated in terrestrial ecosystems. Carbon losses from soils and vegetation has been some 500 GtC since the advent of agriculture at the beginning of the balmy Holocene. Returning some of that to soils and ecosystems is the key to bringing us back from the brink of catastrophe.”

      Ocean is the most powerful carbon dioxide sink.
      So how it comes the carbon dioxide is mostly accumulated in the atmosphere? What makes you believe ocean has “difficulties” to absorb.

      Robert:
      “…Of this 545 GtC, about 240 GtC (44%) had accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 GtC (28%) had been taken up in the oceans… ”

      http://www.cristos-vournas.com

    • I was discussing CET, the polar annular mode and Navier-Stokes. And you take it down your particular rabbit hole. It’s Dunning-Kruger – you have attained your level of incompetence at a very low bar.

      I gave you the opportunity to politely let it go – but your type never can.

      https://scied.ucar.edu/image/radiation-budget-diagram-earth-atmosphere

      • Robert:
        “Polar excursions have been linked to low solar activity correlating with cold English winters, solar UV interacting with ozone, solar winds interacting with the global electrical circuit, changing geopotential heights in a world in which the Arctic is warming fastest, declining Arctic ice cover… I’d suggest that all these things modulate turbulent ocean and atmosphere flows in a completely deterministic – governed by inertia and viscosity – but seemingly random manner. We really don’t know in anywhere near sufficient detail what’s happening and can’t predict the future. But the turbulent Earth flow field is nonlinear – a small change can precipitate a large shift in the state of the system.”

        What do you think might happen?

        “We really don’t know in anywhere near sufficient detail what’s happening and can’t predict the future.”

        “But the turbulent Earth flow field is nonlinear – a small change can precipitate a large shift in the state of the system.”

        How much large?

        http://www.cristos-vournas.com

      • σT⁴ is nonlinear
        Te = [ (1-a) S / 4 σ ]¹∕ ⁴

        Any change will result in a much smaller in fourth root shift.

        http://www.cristos-vournas.com

  28. Nine articles regarding renewables and green policies in Europe
    https://mailchi.mp/2ff1be44966c/europes-green-deal-in-limbo-as-poland-demands-further-cost-analysis-179378

    Europe’s Green Deal in limbo as Poland demands ‘further cost analysis’

    Boris’s green jobs for China

    1) Europe’s Green Deal in limbo as Poland demands ‘further cost analysis’
    EurActiv, 20 November 2020

    2) Europe’s largest employer’s association questions EU climate policy cost modelling
    EurActiv, 23 November 2020

    3) Germany’s climate consensus cracks as costs mount
    Bloomberg, 21 November 2020

    4) Germany plans ‘turbine-free zones’
    EurActiv, 22 November 2020

    5) Boris’s green jobs for China
    The Times, 23 November 2020

    6) From Hyundai to Tesla and BMW, battery fires turn the heat on electric cars
    Reuters, 19 November 2020

    7) Matt Ridley: Ten reasons why Boris’s green agenda is just plain wrong
    The Sunday Telegraph, 22 November 2020

    8) Michael Kelly: Boris’s green industrial revolution is doomed to fail
    The Spectator, 21 November 2020

    9) Neil Collins: This green fantasy will bankrupt us
    Neil Collins XXX, 21 November 2020

  29. ‘Why climate scientists LOSE debates’:

  30. Synonyms for skeptic: disbeliever, doubter, doubting Thomas, questioner, unbeliever

    Near Antonyms for skeptic: chump, dupe, gull, pigeon, sucker

    Which are you?

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/skeptic

    • Can you be both?

      For example, could a sceptic on climate change be a dupe for the fossil fuel industry?

      • Like it! The best solution is surely to be questioning of anything or maybe go for win-win approaches e.g. if alternatives to fossil fuels make sense even if climate change were a damp squib. See also my thoughts on food security where less waste makes sense regardless if what the future throws at us.

    • HI Jim2,

      You don’t blog on Bobby Wolff’s bridge site do you? I’m assuming a different Jim2 but you never know.

  31. Maybe one more rule
    Avoid Biblical interpretations

    https://wp.me/pTN8Y-5qg

  32. “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life. Is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Shakespeare

    I am listening to the original IQ debate – and not the talking head decomposition Alan introduced. I’ll let you know who act9ually won when I find out. I read all Peter’s GWPF links. Neither Alan’s video or Peter’s articles lend any clarity or depth. It is classically the fog of war. Creating confusion for strategic tribal ends. And of course the first casualty of war is truth.

    Climate is not a crisis? Thank God for that. There are enough crises to be getting on with. Although it can’t be said that it doesn’t have the makings of one. Disappearing low level marine stratocumulus in a warmer world is a factor the physics suggests.

    It is sufficient to justify no regrets policies – the 4th ‘corridor to clarity’. “This pragmatic strategy centers on efforts to accelerate energy innovation, build resilience to extreme weather, and pursue no regrets pollution reduction measures — three efforts that each have their own diverse justifications independent of their benefits for climate mitigation and adaptation.” https://thebreakthrough.org/articles/climate-pragmatism-innovation

    I’d add cows to the mix. Mmmmm…

    The skeptic curmudgeons won the debate by a 4% margin. But then American attitudes to climate change depend on the time passed since the last natural disaster. And some people will believe they have debunked general relativity or invented a new physics law.

  33. Douglas Walton has a book out for $47 called “Ethical Argumentation.” It’s on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Argumentation-Douglas-Walton/dp/0739103490/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ethical+argumentation&qid=1606203888&s=books&sr=1-1. It’s blurb reads:

    “Bridging the gap between applied ethics and ethical theory, Ethical Argumentation draws on recent research in argumentation theory to develop a more realistic model of how ethical justification actually works. Douglas Walton presents a new model of ethical argumentation in which ethical justification is analyzed as a defeasible form of argumentation considered in a balanced dialogue. Walton’s new model employs techniques such as: asking the appropriate critical questions, probing accepted values, finding nonexplicit assumptions in an ethical argument, and deconstructing emotive terms and persuasive definitions. This book will be of significant interest to scholars and advanced students in applied ethics and theory.”

  34. So please follow these rules of unbiased and objective scientific inquiry unless of course the catastrophe and urgency of the matter are more important than silly stiff collar kindergarten rules for kids.

    https://wp.me/pTN8Y-5qg

  35. Listen to how the ‘consensus’ is the new curse of humanity. It prevails in dark matter, climate science & covid-19 lockdown strategy. It’s getting harder and harder to break out of groupthink consensus and consider outlier alternatives:

    “Ever since astronomers reached a consensus in the 1980s that most of the mass in the universe is invisible — that “dark matter” must glue galaxies together and gravitationally sculpt the cosmos as a whole — experimentalists have hunted for the nonluminous particles.”

    Listen to the non-sensical language that arises from incorrect groupthink:

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/physicists-are-expanding-the-search-for-dark-matter-20201123/

    • The plight of physics is highlighted in this article:

      “That brings us to the second argument. Recent advances in cosmology allow us to state, with a fair amount of certainty, that 95 percent of the universe is missing. These missing parts consist of dark matter and dark energy, both equally mysterious forms of new physics. As long as such mysteries remain — and there are others — the work of physics will not be complete. (I might also add that understanding 5 percent of a subject is in itself a wonderful achievement.)”

      https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-end-of-physics-20201124/

  36. Extinction Rebellion creates new campaign to urge believers into purposely taking out mortgages and then not repaying.. ! .. in order to force the government to stop CO2 emissions

    This is the kind of action that happens due to people like Robert I. Ellison who constantly hinder the voices of outlier scientific opinion:

  37. The Arctic used to be described as warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet but now it’s *three* times faster.

    Despite lockdown reducing manmade CO2 emissions, warming has accelerated. Ever consider the outlier opinion that it’s something else altogether driving climate change?

    https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/climate-change-arctic-temperatures-warmer/

  38. Evidence communication of a crisis in leadership of the western world. Boris Johnson self-isolates just as a precaution despite having T-cell immunity:

  39. My apologies, but here’s evidence that lends itself to the spinning helical corkscrew graviton force-carrier particle as opposed to Einstein’s spacetime. The graviton can travel around a hypersphere to act as a force of repulsion relative to it’s place of origin. It’s a crucial part of the tidal forcing inclination hypothesis for climate change:

    “Cosmologists say that they have uncovered hints of an intriguing twisting in the way that ancient light moves across the Universe, which could offer clues about the nature of dark energy — the mysterious force that seems to be pushing the cosmos to expand ever-faster.”

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03201-8

  40. Extinction Rebellion creates new campaign to urge believers into purposely taking out mortgages and then not repaying.. ! .. in order to force the government to stop CO2 emissions

    This is the kind of action that happens due to people like Robert I. Ellison who constantly hinder the voices of outlier scientific opinion: Alan Lowey

    Debunking general relativity, inventing new physical laws, cherry picked ‘facts’ overthrowing paradigmatic science – it is a great tower of Babel in which every norm of communication is discarded. Disagreement is ignorance – rather than an opportunity to learn – and their job is to beat people over the head with their oddball beliefs. The facts support their views and their views inform the facts. What could go wrong. There is clearly no lack of certainty. The other is responsible for lies, fraud, deceit and ER loan defaults – and add insult to injury. 5 rules for confusion and misunderstanding.

    5 rules for evidence communication
    (1) Inform, not persuade
    (2) Offer balance, not false balance
    (3) Disclose uncertainties
    (4) State evidence quality
    (5) Inoculate against misinformation

    But real people know what they want. They want clarity of policy on fundamental environmental problems.

    https://www.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/ft_2020.04.21_earthday_01.png?resize=640,462

    There are ways to a bright future for the planet, its peoples and its wild places – but these need to be consciously designed in a broad context of economics and democracy, population, development, technical innovation, land use and the environment.
    How do we get there? This might help.

    4 corridors of clarity
    (1) follow the strongest and most direct path between policy decisions on outcomes
    (2) focus on finding sufficient evidence for policy purpose
    (3) prioritize no-regrets policies by avoiding options with controversial, uncertain, or immeasurable benefits
    (4) aim for getting the big picture roughly right rather than focusing on details.
    https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biaa115/5936130

  41. “By ‘Noah Effect’ we designate the observation that extreme precipitation can be very extreme indeed, and by ‘Joseph Effect’ the finding that a long period of unusual (high or low) precipitation can be extremely long. Current models of statistical hydrology cannot account for either effect and must be superseded. As a replacement, ‘self‐similar’ models appear very promising. They account particularly well for the remarkable empirical observations of Harold Edwin Hurst. ” Benoit B. Mandelbrot James R. Wallis, 1968, Noah, Joseph, and Operational Hydrology

    Long before there was climate change there were extremes of climate in a chaotic Earth system. Chaos used to be the poster child of ;climate skeptics’ – until they realised it implied tipping points.

    There is so little doubt that carbon dioxide is a control variable in the system. Based on decades of spectroscopy and line by line radiative transfer math. To deny it based on arm waving – and ‘skeptics’ don’t in general – Judith Curry, Roy Spencer and John Christy are part of the 97% – you have to be really, really out there not to – is utter lunacy.

    • Very carefully phrased, Ellison. Bravo.
      “There is so little doubt that carbon dioxide is a control variable in the system” Indeed it is a control variable – ie a forcing – just like the other eight forcings. Unlike them, it’s effect declines exponentially with 50% of the ghg effect in the first 20 ppm. We are in the fifth half-life of that decline. Do the math. Its GHG effect at the next doubling to 800 ppm will be increased by less than 2%

  42. The ancient riverbeds of the western Sahara become more alive with recent deluges of more northern Africa:

    “A vast river network that once carried water for hundreds of miles across Western Sahara has been discovered under the parched sands of Mauritania.

    Radar images taken from a Japanese Earth observation satellite spotted the ancient river system beneath the shallow, dusty surface, apparently winding its way from more than 500km inland towards the coast.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/nov/10/ancient-river-network-discoverd-buried-under-saharan-sand

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