Why Climate Journalism is a Rotting Carcass

UPDATE: Do check out the dynamic comment thread, where Andy Revkin makes a confession (and also a tart observation on journalistic peer review); John Fleck calls out a frequent critic of the science press; and Judith Curry corrects some blogospheric “misconceptions” of the media’s coverage of climate issues.

Let me make this quick, because according to Joe Romm, your eyeballs are already starting to wander:

As I’ve noted many times, a lot of people don’t actually get far past the headline and subhed.

So, are you ignoramuses still with me? Now a common refrain on Romm’s blog is that the mainstream media is just drop-dead dumber than dumb when it comes to reporting and writing on climate change.  At least once a week he calls attention to another supposed foul-smelling abomination (in a subhead, of course):

Worst News Article Ever Published on Global Warming?

Many climate advocates and climate scientists couldn’t agree more with Romm. One climate blogger, who is starting to sound like Howard Beale, thinks the press is easily manipulated. An environmental ethics philosopher is sympathetic to “Hide the Decline” climate scientists because…well, you read (emphasis added):

More likely to me, and more defensible in many ways, is that Mann and others were fudging the findings in order to “smooth them out” so that they were easier to read, so that their findings would not be misinterpreted by a lazy and apathetic press, so that an anomalous line wouldn’t distract from the overarching observation, which is that there is persistent change.

What ungrateful bastards we are!

At this point, you might be tempted to conclude that journalists are screwing up the biggest story of the century, that the world is on a collision course with climate doomsday because a bunch of hacks are falling down on the job. Or rather, is it because we’re not imploring everyone to stick their heads out the window every night and scream:

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

But wait, the Air Vent’s Jeff Id, no doubt speaking for many climate skeptics, says we are doing exactly this. And by god, it’s costing us our jobs, too! Here he is, explaining:

Perhaps if reporters stopped turning out a constant stream of alarmist, envirowhacko drivel like this link, they and the NY Times, LA Times, MSNBC, CNN, ABC and every other politically left media outlet wouldn’t have such financial difficulty.

Yeah, I guess the internet has nothing to do with that, after all. Whew. What a relief. All we have to do is stop spitting out “alarmist, envirowhacko drivel” and funders will magically reappear! Yay.

So there you have it. I now hope you understand, courtesy of Joe Romm and Jeff Id, why climate journalism is a rotting carcass.

[UPDATE: Jeff Id is pissed that I’m equating him with Romm. We’ve had a spirited exchange over at his site.]

292 Responses to “Why Climate Journalism is a Rotting Carcass”

  1. Brian Smith says:

    The history of science and mass market journalism is mixed at best. Understanding the complexities of climate science make it difficult to understand and digest in a 30 second spot and people who aren’t already pre-disposed will not read the articles longer than 6 inches.  Without a primer on the part of the advocates and without some dedication on the part of the audience, it will be difficult, if not impossible to get any real attention on the part of the public to the issue at hand.
    Long ago I worked with journalists at a very well respected scientific weekly.  Their usual lament was how science issues were so poorly portrayed in the mainstream press and how they labored to make science issues more digestible by the public.
    Now if climate changes the price of beer or interrupts their TV programs, you might have a chance.

  2. Tim Lambert says:

    Are you trying to prove Michael Tobis’ case for him? Just because both sides are criticizing you, it doesn’t mean you are on the right track.

  3. Keith Kloor says:

    Brian,

    “The history of science and mass market journalism is mixed at best.”

    No argument there. It might seem that I come across as an apologist for my peers, when in fact, there’s plenty of criticism to go around. But the hyperbolic tone of press criticism on the two extreme sides of the climate spectrum is counterproductive.

    The other part of the problem is that many (on the climate advocate side) who have bought into the journalism-is-failing-us-meme lump all media together. So a headline is a headline is a headline and a magazine story is no different than a newspaper story, etc, etc. (The much dissected Freeman Dyson profile in the NYT magazine is a classic case of a story completely misunderstood by climate advocates.)

    I think it’s time my science journalism colleagues started talking more about these genre and stylistic differences so people can better adjust their expectations.

  4. Keith Kloor says:

    Tim,

    To get my point: here’s what I wish: that Joe Romm & and Jeff Id become guest editors at a newspaper (at different times, of course), where they are put in charge of assigning and editing all climate related stories.

    It would be eye-opening for all to see how those stories turned out.

  5. Thanks Tim. I was going to set off a long rant here, but you have stated my point succinctly enough. I can’t resist elaborating a little, though.
    Keith, a compulsive balance-seeking press will earn the contempt of both sides. Mission accomplished.
    This doesn’t excuse the press from actually weighing the evidence.
    As long as everything is reduced to politics, the press can stay on safe, familiar, neutral turf. Unfortunately, that means the politics is driving essentially blind to any information that isn’t political. Decisions are made on a basis of sentiment.
    Editorial control by one or another set of sentiments is not better than editorial control by averaging the sentiments of both sides, but it isn’t much worse. That’s the point.
     

  6. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael,

    You obviously have missed my point: the msm press already has “the contempt of both sides” precisely because the stories don’t reflect the dominant sentiments of the two sides at their extremes.

    So if there’s a record flood in the Midwest or a catastrophic wildfire in Australia and if a MSM story doesn’t weave in a mention to climate change (as in, here’s what to expect down the road), that’s an egregious failure, according to Joe Romm.

    On the other side of the ledger, Jeff Id can’t abide any mention of climate change and disasters in the same sentence.

    There is an advocacy media/opinionsphere to satiate these sentiments. I wish you were more satiated by them.

  7. Steve Bloom says:

    The problem with your reasoning, Keith, is that the science actually has something to say about the relationship between AGW and extreme weather events.  Not mentioning it where appropriate is advocacy journalism.  

    Also, equating Joe Romm and Jeff Id is pretty funny.  Now pull the other one, it’s got bells on. 

  8. thingsbreak says:

    The fallacy of the golden mean is no less false employed under the belief of “both sides yelled at me so I can’t be getting it so wrong” than it is in its more common “he said, she said” form.
    Joe Romm is an occasionally hyperbolic policy expert who believes that media is complicit in the failure to communicate the seriousness of the problem to the public.
    Jeff Id is a deranged conspiracy theorist who literally believes that the media is actively colluding with teh evil climate scientists in order to usher in a socialist one-world government.*
    Romm’s position- whether one agrees with it in every instance he invokes it- is supported by actual scholarship. Id’s is tinfoil hattery with no basis in reality.
    Are we supposed to believe that you really find both of those positions to be equally credible? If not, why are you creating the implicit equivalency?
    It seems to me that a media more interested in, say, flogging Judy Curry’s opinion when she’s criticizing the IPCC and some of its lead authors than it is in actually covering her contributions to the field or pushing back against her unsupportable assertions bears a great deal of resemblance to the media that Romm derides.
    *”No global warming again but that won’t stop the media onslought.  The media won’t let the data slow them from continuing our march toward world-wide socialist governance.  You may find that statement extreme, in which case my opinion is ““ you aren’t paying attention” Jeff Id: http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/data-or-politics/

  9. You obviously have missed my point: the msm press already has “the contempt of both sides” precisely because the stories don’t reflect the dominant sentiments of the two sides at their extremes.
    Stipulated.
    So if there’s a record flood in the Midwest or a catastrophic wildfire in Australia and if a MSM story doesn’t weave in a mention to climate change (as in, here’s what to expect down the road), that’s an egregious failure, according to Joe Romm.
    Well, I’d say that if the MSM stories NEVER mention it regardless how unusual the event (as in the recent Nashville event, which was truly bizarre) the press is failing to give the public a reasonable view of the situation.
    However, this is a case where you at least have a leg to stand on; it’s certainly a debated point regarding individual storm events.
    In the matter of the CRU hacking, there is something very different happening. The press swallowed a smear campaign whole, divided everything in half (“some people say otherwise”) and contented itself with that.
    The moment I stopped being exasperated at the press and changed to being angry was the moment Andy Revkin created a tediously shallow false balance story comparing Al Gore and George Will. If Revkin does not know better I am very surprised. Either he is nowhere near the reporter he thinks he is, or he behaved unethically in his “balance”.
    False balance in the press is an ideal weapon in the hands of a propagandist, who merely has to say things exactly twice as delusional as he wants the public to believe. Assuming the propagandist has a responsible opposition more or less in tune with reality, the press will guide “reasonable” opinion to pretty much exactly the midpoint of no lie and a double lie.
    Is it any wonder the opposition starts down the road of exaggeration as well? There’s really no advantage to telling the truth here, and it is the fault of the fact that there is no institution delivering any news that isn’t political, in other words, nothing seriously resembling scientific or environmental journalism.
    It’s as if all I had to do to get an innocent person I dislike condemned for murder is to accuse him of two murders. If the judge and jury were journalistically minded, it would be a pretty simple matter to get them to split the difference.
     

  10. thingsbreak says:

    So in kkloor’s world, someone like Orac is just as “bad” as (and no more supported by the evidence than) Jenny McCarthy, and the media bears no responsibility for perpetuating the idea that vaccines might cause autism by covering the “controversy” rather than the actual evidence- is that about right?

  11. This balance thing is much more of an American approach to journalism than it is in other parts of the world — for better or worse. The balance concept works ok for covering politics, religion and few other things. In science coverage it works for breakthroughs, totally new findings…but seems pointless when the science is pretty well established ie I can find a flat-earther on any topic but what’s the point?
    So 20 years ago CC was new jurnos asked everyone what they thought. Ten years ago I stopped interviewing the ‘other side’ unless they had compelling evidence and data. They mostly didn’t.
    That Boston Globe piece was frankly dumb and pointless –   and frames climate science as a political debate because the jurno doesn’t understand the science. And that’s why her ‘referee’ in the piece is Pielke Jr and not a climate scientist.

  12. Sashka says:

    I don’t see how a journalist who strives to be either fair or balanced could mention Joe Romm and Jeff Id in the same sentence. Jeff seems to be a bit exasperated with the state of the world where too many people are duped by AGW alarmists but at least he is sane. Joe Romm is, excuse me, completely nuts crazy meshugas. Even the certified spinsters of RC, including Michael Tobis as a an occasional contributor, would not defend the links between the individual weather events and climate. What scholarship are you possibly talking about, thnigsbreak? Romm has no education in or contribution to climate science. His main specialty is panic mongering.

    Michael Tobis: it is demonstrably not true that the press never mentions the unproven (probably nonexistent) links between local weather extremes and climate change. I saw it often, for example regrading the heat wave in France a few years ago.

    You are free to complain about false balance, of course. But in reality it is your lies against theirs. So who is to say where the true balance is?

  13. […] Why Climate Journalism is a Rotting Carcass […]

  14. Although, back in the Sokal hoax days, I predicted it would happen, it still is remarkable to see erstwhile conservatives spouting deconstructionist relativism.
    The true balance is where the truth is.
    Journalists covering these matters should be expert in these matters. They should be familiar not just with assertions about the balance of evidence, but about the evidence itself. Good journalists will reliably make good judgments, and poor journalists will often make bad ones.
    Mostly, these days, we see the institutions of journalism happy to take RP Jr’s advice, reduce everything to politics, and fail to help society weigh the evidence. The process is not expected to be infallible, but it is really not optional.
    Elizabeth Kolbert is the model we need, not Andy Revkin. This is not primarily because she agrees with me. It’s because she takes her work seriously.
    There aren’t enough Kolberts around. So I think we need to pull some significant number of underemployed postgrads and postdocs out of the academic track, teach them to write, and help them make a living at it.
     

  15. Steve Bloom says:

    Keith, Sashka just gave you all the validation you deserve.

     

  16. John R T says:

    Stop.
    Take a breath.
    Read Godwin´s Onecosmos blogspot:   today,  for instance,  he addresses  Truth.   Reality.
                                                 
    Who looks to journalists for Truth?

  17. Jeff Id says:

    <b>On the other side of the ledger, Jeff Id can’t abide any mention of climate change and disasters in the same sentence.</b>
    Really Keith, I can’t believe you would compare tAV to Romm.
    While I don’t agree that you or anyone else can name a single disaster which can be attributed to CO2 climate change, any comments on the topic are tolerated at tAV.  I’ve snipped under 30 comments in almost 30,000 since tAV’s inception and those were for cussing and threats mostly.
    Perhaps the real answer is for you to figure out that Romm is a propagandist, while tAV, widely considered a denialist blog by the uninformed, has posted the single highest warming trend from GHCN data on record as well as multiple posts explaining the effects of CO2.
    The difference between tAV and Romm is honesty vs propaganda, not that I don’t have opinions.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/supply-and-demand-in-journalism/
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  18. Keith Kloor says:

    Thingsbreak (1o):

    I happen to be a big fan of Orac (and PZ). I’ve also written about the  vaccine/autism nuttiness on this blog (see here, and here, for two examples).

    I think Stephen Leahy (11) pretty well captures things, though I disagree that the Boston Globe piece was dumb. (But I agree that a climate scientist would have been better to quote that Roger Pielke, Jr.).

    Additionally, Thingsbreak (8), I have no problem equating the hyperbole of Romm and Id. Just because Romm is smart and knowledgeable and an expert on energy doesnt give him a free pass from overheated rhetoric, be it his slash & burn attacks on journalists and other experts (such as pielke, Jr).  Also, I’m not the only one to call out Romm on his hyping of climate impacts. As you well know, I’m in good company there.

    Michael (13):

    You’re still stuck in that deniers-and-journalists-are-the-biggest impediment silo. When you break out of that, you’ll see that the policy problem is a political one, not scientific. The irony is that if you really, really wanted to do something about greenhouse gases, you’d stop bitching about the things you can’t change (like msm journalism and skeptics) and start thinking of new ways to reframe the issue.  (Hint: Climate catastrophe is not working. So how long you want to stay with that one? Another couple of decades?)

    Kolbert is great for the New Yorker audience.  What Revkin does at Dot Earth is infinitely more productive for fostering debate on a range of issues related to sustainability and climate change.  Every science reporter working at a local/regional paper should be doing some web variation of what Andy does.

  19. manuelg says:

    Keith, you turn criticism of the “he said/she said” journalistic device by your betters into an _example_ of the “he said/she said” device as you shrug off responsibility to differentiate the two sides.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/another-rock/
    My lack of compulsion to frame the world as “he said/she said” makes it difficult to see equivalence between the extremes of  Joe Romm and Jeff Id.  The above by Jeff Id is classic bed-wetting 9/12 conspiratorial agitprop (if I may use the word out of historical political context).
    Getting back to the beginning of my comment: the issue is shrugging off responsibility.

  20. Jeff Id says:

    #18  I do have a political side, at least I don’t pretend I don’t, we know where you stand.  However, contrast the following posts stuck in the header bar at tAV.
    A method to statistically improve global warming trends – which will always result in an increased trend
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/thermal-hammer-part-deux/
    A complete destruction of Mann08’s hockey stick, entirely different from Steve McIntyres M99 PCA issue.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/hockey-stick-cps-revisited-part-1/
    There is science and there is politics, Romm cannot separate them.

  21. Steve Bloom says:

    h, of course Michael knows the problem is political.  Why would you ever have thought otherwise?  Your assertion that a realization of the political nature of the problem will somehow make deniers and journalists less responsible for their contribution to it is simply nonsensical. 

    Unintended irony:  “What Revkin does at Dot Earth is infinitely more productive for fostering debate on a range of issues related to sustainability and climate change.”  Yep, more debate is what we need.

  22. Keith Kloor says:

    “Yep, more debate is what we need.”

    That obvious sarcastic remark by Steve Bloom takes my breath away. But it also is unintentionally revealing.

  23. Maple Syrup says:

    Keith, what you fail to realize is that debate is not needed on climate change because the facts are in.  The media does not debate the existence of the Holocaust, gravity or AIDS.  Feeding debate simply reflects a failure to acknowledge objective reality.  The media’s job is to sustain civilization, not enable its destruction.   Care to explain why it is OK to debate climate change but not AIDS?

  24. re Steve Bloom 8:08 PM, yes, what he said. Well said.
    As for Revkin, he started out doing something useful, but in his refusal to move off the dime he long ago ceased.
    If journalism is incapable of learning new ideas, then society needs to find a new voice. Otherwise society is similarly  incapacitated.
    Keith, do you really not see what we are complaining about?  How about if you rephrase it back to me before you say what’s wrong with it. I feel like I’m talking past you.
     
     

  25. Andy Revkin says:

    Many here appear to be conflating how to shape coverage of climate science and coverage of *responses* to the science (policy).  Some basics are in this 2005 book chapter:
    http://www.onthemedia.org/episodes/2006/12/08/chapter.html
    In assessing sea ice trends, talk to people publishing on (and preferably camping with some frequency on) sea ice.
    In the far uglier discourse over how to gauge a response to the science, there’s a far wider array of legitimate (if unpleasant, even duplicitous) voices. There, the need is for labeling, but everyone gets a seat at that table.
    As for Michael T in comment 9, feel free to home in on the Gore-Will story, which was absolutely flawed, as was my page-one story on evidence of industry knowingly ignoring its own expert advisers pointing out climate risks. Welcome to journalism, where the peer review comes after the fact. I still stand by my body of climate coverage from 1985 onward as just about the best anyone could hope to do on this insane beat.

  26. Keith Kloor says:

    Michael,

    Dot Earth is exactly the kind of forum that showcases new journalistic  ideas in the web age. Your breezy dismissal of Revkin–among the best and most thoughtful of climate journalists– because of one story you took great issue with, is astonishing.

    As is your assent with Bloom’s caustic comment: “Yep, more debate is what we need.”

    We need much, much more debate on a whole range of issues related to climate change–specifically what’s the best way to address it and how to educate a citzenry on uncertainties and future risk, a debate on values, and so on. I mean, it’s mind-blowing to me that anyone could claim that there’s no more debate needed on how to achieve a sustainable world and how best to decarbonize the world economy.

    So at this point, I’d have to say, yeah, we most definitely are talking past each other.

  27. “I mean, it’s mind-blowing to me that anyone could claim that there’s no more debate needed on how to achieve a sustainable world and how best to decarbonize the world economy.”
    I hope this makes no reference to me! I certainly have no such belief and make no such claim!
    I claim that the IPCC first working group has produced results that are sufficiently sound to begin the discussion of the many other topics you raise; further, that pretense to the contrary is not only unfounded by largely malicious; further than a very large segment of the society believes otherwise, and finally, that the press is largely at fault for that confusion.
    The press’s incapacity for making judgments of scientific veracity on matters where the scientific community has no meaningful doubts is not facilitating the debate on matters that remain legitimate matters for political, ethical and cultural discourse. To the contrary, it is enabling the red herring fishery to stay in business.
    The press does this by redusing to make judgments, leaving the reader with the impression that things that really ought to be settled are still substantively debatable.
    Perhaps I could prevail on you and Andy to look at this:
    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/02/big-big-picture.html
    I am trying to ask this question:

    “Now IPCC working group I deals with the climatology and geochemistry parts of the system. These parts are relatively mature science. I would maintain that at the level of the Big Big Picture these are the best understood components of the system by far. Yet these are the parts that are the target of most of the controversy. Why is this?”
    I agree with you that there is much to discuss. So why are we still discussing the parts that are least uncertain, least complex, and least fraught with ethical and philosophical implications? I’d say that society is collectively avoiding the very issues we both want to discuss, and focusing on minutiae about tree rings and such that make essentially zero difference.
    We find ourselves publicly discussing, not how to decarbonize or when to decarbonize, but whether to decarbonize. This is crazy.
    This means that people still don’t get it.  My theory is you guys don’t have the chutzpah to tell it like it is. What’s your theory?
     

  28. Raven says:

    Keith,

    Getting beaten up by both sides is usually a good sign that you are getting something right. However, I think the bigger issue is there are fewer and fewer people that want to hear things that they disagree with which means our news sources are fragmenting into echo chambers and this is making it virtually impossible to have a rational civil discourse about anything.

    The people who I find most credible are people who are willing to look beyond their ideological biases and stand up for principle even if “their side” does not like it. Curry, McIntrye and Jeff Id fall into this category. Romm, Tobis and Real Climate do not.

  29. Stephen says:

    If sports reporting were like the current state of science reporting, half of every post-game summary would be composed of the losing team claiming that the score was actually in their favour, and that the game was rigged because the rules were being kept secret.

  30. Raven says:

    Michael,

    I have seen no compelling evidence that shows that the potential harms caused by climate change will likely exceed to harms caused by massive government regulatory schemes that will inevitably fail to achieve their stated objective.

    I realize that you are someone who does not understand the dangers of excessive government regulation but you should be able accept that many people do see governments as a necessary evil and do not believe that the evidence provided by science is sufficient.

    The only way forward is to have a real debate about policy choices which includes ‘doing nothing’ as a viable option.

  31. willard says:

    If debate is what we need, we’re left (ok, let’s balance out and say we’re right too) in the usual quandary: if we simply debate, it gets boring.  To spice things up, say for the sake of a lead, or more generally a story, journalists need to enrol some villains, maybe some heroes too, but definitely some villains.  (To be sure, we all should know they’re not real villains, just persons playing the role of villains.)  And so we need a delicate balance between dramatization and dialogue.
    Keith’s villain, in this very story, and yet again, is Joe Romm.  Could he write up the story without Romm?  Yes, but he would need another villain, or else I am afraid I am out of here.
    But then a problem emerges: the villain can become blown up out of proportions by being mentioned so oftenly.  And then all the possibly fruitful discussions are then sidetracked to become discussions about characters blown out of proportions.
    When Joe Romm ever gets under Keith’s storytelling, at the point of being controlled by him, may I suggest that he seek up other villains?
    Hopefully, after a while the Overton window will shrink all by itself.
    PS: That was the first time and hopefully the last time I mention the name of Joe Romm.
     

  32. caerbannog says:


    Are you trying to prove Michael Tobis’ case for him? Just because both sides are criticizing you, it doesn’t mean you are on the right track.

    To illustrate this point a bit…

    If a journalist writes an article about vaccines and both the American Medical Association and Generation Rescue complain about it, should said journalist conclude that he did a good job?

  33. cbp says:

    @Stephen
    If sports reporting were like the current state of science reporting, half of every post-game summary would be composed of the losing team claiming that the score was actually in their favour, and that the game was rigged because the rules were being kept secret.
    Lol – it wouldn’t even be the losing team interviewed though – it would be a handful of the losing team’s supporters who had watched the game on television from the other side of the world.

  34. What mt said.

    Let’s distinguish the following main issues:
    – To what extent is climate change occurring, and to what extent is it man-made?
    – To what extent is that (going to be) a problem?
    – What can or should we do about it?

    The first questions are strictly scientific; the middle has a judgment value to it, and the latter is primarily a political/moral judgement (and has more to do with technology than with climate science).
    The public debate makes most sense on the third issue, whereas in reality, it’s centred around the first.

    We have made much more progress in addressing the first question than in addressing the last one. The limiting factor in addressing the issues relating to climate change is not a lack of knowledge about the exact nature of the changes; rather, it is the unwillingness of society to deal with (the consequences of) this knowledge. Even if climate change is less bad than currently expected, we need to dramatically step up our policy response.
    I don’t say this to downplay the uncertainties in climate science; there are many, and many of them are large (scientifically speaking). However, within realistic boundaries of the uncertainty, we still don’t do enough to deal with the issue: Any realistic change in our scientific understanding is not going to change the needed policy response, at least not in the short to medium term (~decades). As Herman Daly noted: “If you jump out of an airplane you need a crude parachute more than an accurate altimeter.” 

     

     

     

     

     

  35. Keith Kloor says:

    Bart (33):

    I largely agree with all you say, except I differ on the limiting factor. I’ve argued often on this blog that the single biggest limiting factor is that humans are a reactive species. Climate advocates know this in their hearts but refuse to deal with it.

    So until the issues raised in this NYT magazine story are fully engaged, we’ll probably be going around in circles for some time, or until impacts of climate change are felt viscerally by the general populace.  Or until a new approach is embraced, which seeks to make energy innovation the central front rather than future and (uncertain) climate catastrophe.

  36. AMac says:

    What Raven said #27.
    What Bart said #33.
     
    The loudest voices in this debate already have their answer to Bart’s question #3 — they <i>know</i> what we should do about it.  But as Raven alluded, the 20th Century was largely composed of a series of massive experiments, wherein a self-appointed elite had arrived at <i>their</i> answer to <i>their</i> favorite Question Number Three.  And by golly, they weren’t about to let the little people obstruct Progress with their little ideas.
     
    To look at the weak areas of climatology is to pass through the Looking Glass.  Every cog, every insight, every epicycle of the AGW Consensus is Perfect; it must not be questioned–unless the result is a new discovery that It’s Worse Than We Thought.  Particular outrage is reserved for Little People.  There is scorn, often justifiable, for the many skeptics who lack the insight to understand the physical processes of climate change, and the tools used to explore and model it.   Yet it is telling that the most passionate of the AGW Consensus advocates reserve so much of their venom for <i>scientifically literate</i> critics of the Consensus.  And that the scientific leaders of AGW Consensus thought are so refractory to examining and revising the flaws in the underlying science, as they are uncovered.
     
    Oh, let’s not forget Journalists.
     
    The actions of the Other Side are best understood as a Conspiracy, directed at thwarting Our Side’s faultless endeavors.  Those journalists:  either Fellow Travelers, or Useful Idiots.  Take that, K. Kloor and A. Revkin!

  37. Raven says:

    #33 – Bart, you say:

    Even if climate change is less bad than currently expected, we need to dramatically step up our policy response.

    This is nothing but a value judgement on your part because you implicitly presume that it is possible to craft policies that will accomplish anything useful. i.e. many people agree with you on the state of the science but simply feel that government regulation of CO2 production will be an economic disaster that will cause more harm than climate change itself.

    There can be no meeting of minds on the climate issue as long as alarmists keep insisting that governments are these infalliable beasts that can do no harm.

  38. Keith,

    I only skimmed the NYT article you linked to limiting factors in addressing climate change are psychological in nature: single issue bias, the long timeframe of the problem, the tragedy of the commons, etc. “Humans are a reactive species”: I guess you mean that humans won’t easily address a problem that will only manifest itsefl in its full proportion far in the future.

    As with smoking: Quitting smoking is hard when the adverse health consequences are far down tha road, whereas the ‘beneficial’ consequences are right there when you take a drag.

    Yes indeed, these are very important issues that impede tackling these issues.
    Indeed, human nature makes it a very hard problem to deal with.

    That’s pretyy much what I meant as well when I wrote:
    “The limiting factor in addressing climate change is the unwillingness of society to deal with (the consequences of) this knowledge.”

    You need a lot of willpower to overcome the difficulties in quitting smoking.

    I.e. the limiting factor is intrinsic to ourselves as humans, rather than ‘externally forced’ as in not enough knowledge or physically impossible.

    Recently I read a blog post whose title summed it up perfectly: “The problem is that it’s not our problem”.

  39. Raven,

    I have made no claim about governments, least of all that they’re “infalliable beasts” (whatever that may be).

    Yes, that statement is partly a value judgement, as it is in the realm of the second theme I described above. (“To what extent is that (going to be) a problem?”)

    But it’s *not* based on the assumption that useful policies can be crafted. I argue in the different direction:
    What’s happening? AGW
    Is it a problem? Yes
    What are we going to do about it? Hmmm…
    I have a feeling that many people who oppose doing anything are argueing in the opposite direction, starting at the third, then answering ‘no’ to the second and ‘nothing (human related)’ to the first question. With people like that, there can be no meeting of minds.
    There are preciously few people who accept the science and still argue strongly against doing anything about it.

    But of course, a discussion on which strategies are better than others is highly needed, and indeed a comparison between the problem we’re set out to prevent and the potential problem we may create should be part of that discussion. Whether a traditional economic cost-benefit analysis is up to that task I’m not so sure of. I feel that it has a place, but it doesn’t have the throne.

  40. Raven says:

    #37 – Bart

    There is no anology between climate change and smoking because smoking is known to cause harm. Climate change is simply a hypothetical problem that could easily be a net benefit rather than a net harm.

    A better analogy is a 20 year old woman with a gene that gives her a 25% chance of getting  breast cancer by the time she is 60. Some women might choose to have a double masctomy but others will not. Both decisions are perfectly rational responses to the scientific evidence.

  41. Raven says:

    #38 – Bart

    I have a feeling that many people who oppose doing anything are arguing in the opposite direction.

    Most people follow an interative decision making process where the cost of the problem is constantly compared to the cost of various solutions. i.e. people start from the scientific evidence and evaluate the cost of the solution. If the cost of the solution is too expensive they will go back and re-evaluate the scientific evidence. If the evidence is strong then they may ignore their concerns about the cost of the solution. In the case of climate science the evidence for catastrophe is remarkably small (note evidence for warming is not evidence for catastrophe).

    Also cost benefit analyses largely depend on values which means there is no possible way to use them to create a consensus in world where people have fundementally different values.  

  42. Keith Kloor says:

    Raven,

    Can we please keep the conversation focused on the journalistic aspect of the post? Thanks

  43. thingsbreak says:

    @17 kkloor: “I have no problem equating the hyperbole of Romm and Id.”
     
    Wow. Just… wow. Let’s review the bidding, shall we?
     
    Joe Romm is an occasionally hyperbolic policy expert who believes that media is complicit in the failure to communicate the seriousness of the problem to the public.
     
    Jeff Id is a deranged conspiracy theorist who literally believes that the media is actively colluding with teh evil climate scientists in order to usher in a socialist one-world government.*
     
    Romm’s position is rooted in documented, real world events and data, documented by- among others- KM Wilson, the Boykoffs.
     
    Id’s position is , Coast-to-Coast AM radio, Black Helicopter, tinfoil hattery.
     
    And to kkloor, they are equivalent. Rotting carcass of journalism indeed.
     
    *”No global warming again but that won’t stop the media onslought.  The media won’t let the data slow them from continuing our march toward world-wide socialist governance.  You may find that statement extreme, in which case my opinion is ““ you aren’t paying attention” – Jeff Id:
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/data-or-politics/

  44. thingsbreak says:

    Also, my comment about Curry may have gone unnoticed or was perhaps too buried within my comment to catch your notice, but let’s look at how she provides an incredibly clear demonstration of the institutional problems that plague journalistic coverage of climate change.
     
    Curry published a paper highlighting a link between modoki El Niños and Atlantic TCs. This is her field, something she’s well-qualified to discuss. Modoki El Niños are becoming more frequent in a warming world, something covered in other recent papers. Taken together, these two ideas might suggest something about TCs in a warming world, but there’s not much explicit there to drag in eyeballs. So it’s a dog bites man story.
     
    Alternatively, we have her criticizing the IPCC and disparaging Jones and Mann’s work- none of which she offered substantive supporting evidence for and none of which is within her field. She also lauds denialists without ever noting the instances in which they’ve been thoroughly refuted or shown to be acting in bad faith. But it’s a man bites dog story.
     
    So we both know which is likely to garner more eyeballs and thus be covered at length by a press that is more interested in pageviews than communicating the state of knowledge about climate change.
     
    The press is- after being hammered for it over and over again both in scientific publications and by people like Romm- finally starting to understand the “balance as bias” problem. (It obviously still hasn’t overcome it, the Boston Globe piece demonstrates that clearly.) However the press has largely done nothing to recognize the hazardous nature of its addiction to “man bites dog” and “conflict is story” crutches, which may or may not have their uses in human interest pieces, but are absolutely toxic in communicating science to the general public.

  45. Sashka says:

    Bloom (20)

    That was a fantastic comment. If only you had a sense to understand that you are shooting yourself in the foot.

    Maple Syrup (20)

    You fail to realize that “facts are in” is a big lie. Some facts are in (and not all of them to your liking) and other facts are not. Learn to deal with it.

    Tobis (26)

    I disagree with your characterization of the current situation as

    “We find ourselves publicly discussing, not how to decarbonize or when to decarbonize, but whether to decarbonize.”

    I believe all of the above are discussed in the various segments of the public discourse. A big part of the problem with your statement is that it contains a built-in assumption that we can decarbonize. That in itself is uncertain at best. We can work on improving energy efficiency (and we’ll find few voices against it), we can work on renewables but fossils are not going anywhere. Any pretense to the contrary is essentially a lie.

    The real question is how much we are willing to pay for given amount of decarbonization. Before answering that, some people would like to know what is going to be achieved. Is there a quantitative answer to that? No, there isn’t. Because the picture is dominated by uncertainties.

    “This means that people still don’t get it.”

    Oh yes we do. We are just unwilling to take your word for it.

    “My theory is you guys don’t have the chutzpah to tell it like it is.”

    This is where  the problem is, Michael. The more you pretend that you know how it is the less people will believe you.

  46. Keeping the focus on the “journalistics aspect” is not entirely straightforward per your #41.
    Let’s acknowledge that there is a divergence of political philosophy about which American-style journalism needs to remain neutral. I don’t want to discuss that model here; let’s accept it for the moment. I want to focus on matters of objective reasoning, without prejudice to matters which are legitimately in the sphere of debate as to values, preferences, goals, ideals etc.
    Raven and AMac are smart folk and I am willing to believe that they are well-intentioned, but I assert with confidence that they are really quite thoroughly wrong about matters of evidence and reason. A priori since they say essentially the same about me, we can probably agree that somebody, anyway, is quite thoroughly wrong.
    The events of the past few years and especially the last few months have made it absolutely clear that when there are such disagreements, it is the job of journalism to get to the bottom of it.
    For instance, the assertion that Obama was born in Kenya is incoherent with the evidence. The press has correctly made that judgment and has moved on. This is a useful data point, I suppose. We have found how ridiculous an assertion has to be before the press makes a judgment.
    In the present case, we have a matter of enormous consequence. It matters a great deal whether (insert list of every major scientific body on earth) is correct or Raven is correct. This is a topic where objective evidence applies.
    It seems the press is confusing objectivity with indifference.
    I am not saying you guys (Keith, Andy as representative) are uninterested in the question. Clearly that’s not the case. But you seem uninterested in resolving the parts of it that are already quite resolvable and moving on.
    As long as there is controversy, you report on the protagonists (as in Lindzen vs Emanuel or Gore vs Will) and not on the credibility of their positions.
    By doing so, you essentially promote the incorrect set of opinions (whichever that might turn out to be) and prevent the conversation from moving forward. This is the opposite of your role in society. This is why you have failed. This is why I am angry. And this is why I am looking not just for new business models for science and nature journalism, but for ways to encourage new practitioners who have deeper connections to the scientific worldview.
    Science makes progress. Society used to do so as well, largely as a consequence. I believe that the failure of science journalism to effectively communicate and model the intellectual progress of science plays a large role in the decline and arguably the reversal of progress in society.
    A suitable occasion for examining the role of the press is at hand. Please re-examine your collective role in the CRU email fiasco in the light of who is mostly doing science and who is mostly doing politics. Consider how these minor embarassments are being played in some circles as the “collapse” of the “hoax”.
    The role of the press in the larger context is crucial. You are not passive observers and never have been. Since the mass press was invented, nobody has believed for an instant that it was anything but a major player in power politics. Stop hiding behind that pose, please, and take responsibility appropriate to the gravity of the situation.
    In short, please stop acting indifferent to who is right and who is wrong on matters of substance.
     

  47. Jeff Id says:

    “Jeff Id is a deranged conspiracy theorist who literally believes that the media is actively colluding with teh evil climate scientists in order to usher in a socialist one-world government.*”
    Do not.
    #45, Nice post.
     
     
     

  48. Tom Fuller says:

    As a journalist who wants to go where the information leads me, I have interviewed Schneider, both Pielkes, Lomborg, Curry, Tol and Michaels. I didn’t publish Michaels. The factual description of climate change didn’t vary between them. The amount of time spent discussing them did.
    The difference in information content between what they said and what is written on the internet is striking, especially when it comes to discussing uncertainty. Schneider said that, if we’re lucky, we’ll get away with 2 degrees C in warming this century and discussed why. I don’t see that elsewhere.
    The three main factions of the internet wars are driven primarily by each of Bart’s three propositions. The consensus side says that because we understand the physics of anthropogenic contributions to warming, we can take the lead in prescribing policy mechanisms, and are free to insult people who don’t agree with the mechanisms as denialists refuting the science. This conveniently allows them to dismiss criticisms from Judith Curry in the same breath as Viscount Monckton. Which saves them from having to think.  As a journalist I have normally seen more of this in election campaigning, and staying in the middle of people like Tobis and Monckton (tired of the Romm vs. Id description) is correct journalism, because you are reporting on advocacy, and journalists should present balance in that case. Note I’m not saying journalists should balance views on the science–but there’s precious little discussion of that these days.
    The ‘lukewarm’ community is trying to balance imperfect knowledge of warming’s effects, imperfect knowledge of costs of mitigation and adaptation, which leaves them at a disadvantage in discussion, as they don’t have the religious quality of perfect knowledge that characterizes so many at either end of the rope, but certainly makes them easier to humanize–it’s no wonder I think they get sympathetic coverage.
    Journalists writing about the skeptics have an easy job on the one hand–Republicans just picked up the position as an additional club to beat Democrats with in US domestic politics, and their understanding of the issues is pathetic and hence easy to expose. Maybe too easy, as a matter of fact. It’s much tougher looking at practicing scientists like Lindzen and the like, as the sources (at least my sources) that vet the science cannot commit to endorsement or rejection of their papers and statements. And so we are necessarily guarded about their pronouncements.
    I’ve written before that Romm is the worst enemy of his own position, followed by other, similar weblogs like Tim Lambert’s Deltoid. Monckton is his position’s worst enemy–he is the reincarnation of Elmer Gantry, and when the skeptic public learns about his role in elevating the problem of global warming to a priority policy issue, he will severely disappoint his congregation.  In the meantime, he’s doing a pretty little song and dance.
    There are people on all three sides behaving badly. That’s not really new to most journalists.  The real problem with getting a good picture of this in front of readers/viewers/listeners is short staffing in newsrooms, and that’s all our fault. We like the blogs.
     

  49. AMac says:

    Michael Tobis #45 wrote, ” I assert with confidence that [Raven and AMac] are really quite thoroughly wrong about matters of evidence and reason.”
     
    Would that it were true.  If the fundamentals of climatology were as “settled” as are equivalent fundamentals in other physical sciences, there would be every reason to jump ahead to the Question Three posed by Bart Verheggen (#33):  “What can or should we do about Climate Change?”
     
    But the science isn’t settled.  E.g., the power of the claim that the Earth’s current warming is “unprecedented” is dependent on our understanding of the climate’s changes in the recent past–say the last couple of millenia.
     
    Unfortunately, there are big problems with that understanding.  Problems that are accessible to any scientifically-literate citizen with web access and an interest in the subject.  One such example is the “Divergence Problem,” the subject of so much spilled ink as a result of the hacked Climategate emails (the DP summarized <a href=”http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/05/19/proxy-methods/#comment-28906″>here</a> as a blog comment).
     
    The challenge for climatology ought to be to address weaknesses in the science, as they are discovered.  Too often, the response of the AGW Consensus establishment  is to circle the wagons.  Dismiss the criticism, criticize the critic, shout louder:  “The Science *is* sufficiently Settled; society must move quickly to take the urgent and drastic action that the relevant elites  have deemed necessary.”
     
    (1) It’s prudent to be concerned about AGW.
    (2) To be trustworthy, climatology will have to disengage from policy advocacy and return to good scientific practices.
    (3) Many citizens are unwilling to endorse urgent and drastic actions that are based on untrustworthy factual premises.
     
    To the extent that journalists climb on board this “Save the Planet!” bus, they risk diminishing their own credibility.

  50. AMac says:

    Rats.  In #45 supra, make that, “(the Divergence Problem summarized in
    http://tinyurl.com/tAV-Divergence
    as a blog comment).”

  51. thingsbreak says:

    @46 Jeff Id: “Do not.”
    You might want to tell that to…  Jeff Id:
     
    “No global warming again but that won’t stop the media onslought.  The media won’t let the data slow them from continuing our march toward world-wide socialist governance.  You may find that statement extreme, in which case my opinion is ““ you aren’t paying attention” – Jeff Id:
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/data-or-politics/

  52. Jeff Id says:

    There is no collusion going on between media and science in a conspiracy sort of fashion, just people who see the world from the left working together to get the same message out and pushing for the copenhagen/IPCC world government ideal.
    See the Revkin emails in climategate, not that I expect you to be open minded.
     

  53. thingsbreak says:

    @51 Jeff Id: “people who see the world from the left working together to get the same message out and pushing for the copenhagen/IPCC world government ideal.”
     
    I’m not familiar with this “copenhagen/IPCC world government ideal” that the media is working to promote. Can you please elaborate on that ideal and how the media is advancing it? As it stands, I can’t see the difference between your objection and my paraphrasing of your quote.

  54. Jeff Id says:

    Copenhagen documents and proposals were intended to put into place a body of unelected people who would manage a large fund which redistributed wealth to small countries for climate mitigation, all the while forcing the paying countries to mitigate their own energy production.  It’s right in the paperwork, if you read it.
    This was pushed heavily by the media, Chaves was given a standing ovation by the attendees as he bashed capitalism as the root of the worlds evil stating that this policy must be enacted. The press gave him and the rest a full pass on their intended goals, this does not require a conspiracy. Just bad journalism.
    Open mind..
     

  55. Heh. Oh great. Tobis and Monckton. Thanks, Tom.
    Fuller never seems to have noticed that I am not advocating any particular policy. Because I am strident about some things, I am perceived as strident about policy. It’s interesting.
    What I’m strident about is scientific literacy. About not conceding public communications to PR people and press releases. About having facts and realistic uncertainties rather than fantasies and vague doubts and fears drive the public conversation. About finding a strategy that is tuned to available evidence, not to wishful thinking. Sorry.
    (Monckton is a wonderful caricature of arrogance, by the way. It’s fascinating how all the people who are so fond of treating real science as closed-minded, self-congratulatory and condescending just love to listen to that man. On the other hand, I suppose if you got me and Monckton together we would spend a lot of time sneering at each other, proving that in a way we are alike.)
     

  56. Wow, talk about *Id* — this seems a direct dispatch from someone’s, with no superego filtering:
    “Leftist scientists like Gavin and Briffa, don’t even know they are being used.  It’s all a good idea to the protected elite, but America has reached the limit under Obama, Pelosi and Reed, the constitution is a rag without a home.  A document to be reinterpreted for ever greater central government power, ever greater control and theft of our money. It is theft too, it’s your damned money not theirs!
    Wake up America, the end is neigh.  Or will the next economic collapse, just be another emergency which requires more government intervention, mass unemployment and wide spread poverty.”
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/05/06/another-rock/
     
    *the end is neigh*
    Looks to me like JeffId trades climate ‘catatrophism’ for the good ol’  paranoid socio-politico-economic variety,  latterly embraced by the Teabaggers.
     
     

  57. thingsbreak says:

    “a large fund which redistributed wealth to small countries for climate mitigation, all the while forcing the paying countries to mitigate their own energy production”
    “This was pushed heavily by the media, Chaves was given a standing ovation by the attendees as he bashed capitalism as the root of the worlds evil stating that this policy must be enacted. The press gave him and the rest a full pass on their intended goals”
    Wait, are you talking about CDMs and emissions allocation credits?
     
    Who is “Chaves” and what role does he play in the UNFCCC/IPCC or media? I’m not familiar with that name. Was he one of the negotiators?

  58. thingsbreak says:

    @55
    But that’s exactly the same as Romm, because they both… erm, exaggerate. Or something. Also, I bet they both eat food. Don’t you see? They’re identical!
     
    kkloor had his chance to walk away from the awful crutch of false equivalency and instead he doubled down on it. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m certainly learning a lot about the state of climate journalism in this thread.

  59. Jeff Id says:

    #55 That post was about the government spending at 150 billion per month more than they take in.  If you aren’t alarmed at that, you are nuts.
     
     

  60. Hank Roberts says:

    “staying in the middle of people like Tobis and Monckton  … is correct journalism”  — Tom Fuller
    Sometimes the middle is past the edge, Mr. Fuller.
    http://lauriej.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a5cd70e9970c0120a5936fab970b-pi
     
     

  61. Keith Kloor says:

    Sullivan (55) highlighted something important there which doesn’t seem to have registered on Jeff Id’s hypocrisy meter. But the larger strain of Republican catastrophism talking points were certainly on display during the health care and stimulus debates during Obama’s first year.

    Remember, Jeff, I told you that hyperbole has a way of undermining whatever legitimate points you might be making about climate catastrophism.

    As for thingsbreak (57), you gotta lay off the Romm kool-aide. It’s just not healthy in such large doses. You obviously are filtering out much of his ouvre.

    And no, you’re definitely not learning anything, but you are reinforcing your own biases.

    Michael (45): we’re going round in circles on this one. If only climate change were as simple as a birth certificate. In six months from now, when no one is talking about Climategate, you’ll still be blaming the press for dereliction of duty, and for bringing the world that much closer to doomsday. But I doubt you’ll be blaming any of your cohorts for driving the policy conversation into another dead end.

  62. Jeff Id says:

    #60 I fail to see where a couple of people criticizing some of the political posts in small out-of-contextchunks affects my credibility.  Of course if I was a leftist  who didn’t like a conservative message, I might write that it affects the messengers credibility.
    All I see is a blog owner who was/is?a journalist trying desperately to assign Romm like traits to my postings.  To which I say, you have made an improper comparison and have failed to grasp the problems I have repeatedly pointed out in your logic.  I’m not surprised as that was the key point in my criticism of this post.
    I don’t pretend to be fans of the republicans either, you should have seen how much crap I took for criticizing Imhoffe. tAV is an equal opportunity complainer.
    Also, you should be careful on the health care and stimulus comments, your leftism is showing again and I’ve heard what that can do to your credibility. 😉
     
     
     

  63. JimR says:

    Another good example of the AGW tribe turning on a journalist is the case of Fred Pearce. He has long been a champion of the environment, however his reporting on Climategate made him a target of the bad journalism meme. This isn’t a problem with journalism, the AGW tribe expect, no demands that journalists fully support them regardless of their position. With Climategate one extreme claim it shows climate science is fraudulent, the other that is was simply private communications taken out of context. In this case the truth is somewhere in the middle as reported by journalists such as Pearce.

  64. Keith Kloor says:

    Jeff (61):

    I used one frothy passage from a recent post of yours to make my point about the wild-eyed, fist-shaking attitude that you and Romm have towards the msm. Then you reinforced my point in a string of comments at your site and here. Your lack of self-awareness on this is staggering.

    And what about my comments on some of the hyperbolic Republican response during those debates indicates I’m a leftist? I guess you didn’t hear the full throated death panel charges or that Obama was a fascist socialist, leading the country down the path of ruin, etc, etc.

  65. Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.newscientist.com/special/living-in-denial is a good journalistic overview of the process going on here.
    “… the right form of taxation or government cannot be answered with more data and better theory. They are ideological positions that are established by subjective debate…. and in most cases disputes are resolved not through experiment and hypothesis testing but through democratic election.
    What sometimes happens is that people confuse these two types of questions – scientific and ideological. Sometimes the confusion is deliberate. Denial is one outcome….”
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627606.000-living-in-denial-when-a-sceptic-isnt-a-sceptic.html

  66. thingsbreak says:

    “you gotta lay off the Romm kool-aide. It’s just not healthy in such large doses.”
     
    Seriously? This is your idea of substantive discussion on your own blog? I provided a number of possible points of either disagreement or confirmation, and you respond with a played-out “kool-aide” [sic] jab? You’ve got the opportunity to either demonstrate why the equivalency is valid or withdraw it, please take it.
     
    And take the Curry examples I gave you. It’s understandable why the press may be more interested in covering her latter day IPCC/Jones/Mann criticism and denialist boosterism than her most recent publications. Do you agree that this highlights the structural problems that complicate trusting journalism as a proper conveyor of scientific information?

  67. Keith Kloor says:

    JimR (62):

    Yes, Pearce is a good example of that. And your assessment of the journalistic significance of Climategate is just about right.

    That said, the coverage was far from perfect, but as Revkin noted earlier on this thread, our peer review comes after the fact.

  68. Sashka says:

    Tom Fuller (47) – good stuff!
     
    Tobis(54)

    “What I’m strident about is scientific literacy. About not conceding public communications to PR people and press releases.”

    Is that so? Where is your criticism of Al Gore then?

    “About having facts and realistic uncertainties rather than fantasies and vague doubts and fears drive the public conversation.”

    OK.  And what is the realistic uncertainty?

    “About finding a strategy that is tuned to available evidence, not to wishful thinking.”

    That’s wonderful. But we are not so much looking for a strategy as trying to push (off) idiotic climate bills.

  69. I don’t owe Sashka a litmus test, but it turns out this one is easy to pass. First, here is an example of my criticism of Al Gore:
    http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2009/04/failure-of-short-run-strategies-in-long.html
    Second, the realistic uncertainty is that the sensitivity is 95% likely in the range 1.5 – 6 C per CO2 doubling equivalent. Surely you knew this by now.
    Finally, as for “idiotic” climate bills, by definition I do not like them. I will quote a conservative fellow from Utah, Barry Bickmore, on this.
    “[a Utah state representative] seems to think that the science has “already been politicized” because some people have used it to support political agendas. So does this mean that policy makers should never use scientific arguments to support their agendas? … if science indicates there is a “big problem,” people who favor enacting some particular type of political solution can legitimately point to the science to support their views. If there’s no problem, there’s no need for a solution, after all. Does the fact that there is a problem mean that any given political solution is a good idea? Of course not. However, that doesn’t justify people who do not favor such political solutions in denying that there is a problem.”

  70. Tom,

    You wrote:
    Consensus types “take the lead in prescribing policy mechanisms.”

    No, those supporting the scientific consensus (the first of my 3 points) take the lead in doing and communcating science.

    Of course, they too may have individual policy preferences, but that’s besides he point. You conflate the first and third points I made (where the first one was on climate science, and the third on society’s response).

    Amac,

    You seem to suggest that only when the science is 100% settled (when is that? Ever?), can we move on to the next  point, of how to respond. I sure hope you never get seriously ill.

    I see it more as an iterative process: Our scientific understanding gradually increases, and (ideally) based on that we devise our actions. We continue to build up our knowledge base and understanding, and adapt or finetune our response strategies accordingly.

    And I see a big gap between out current understanding (not complete by any means, but fairly comprehensive nevertheless) and our response (largely absent). It’s time we move on to the next step in this iterative procedure.

  71. Tom Fuller says:

    Bart, I was not referring to you in my previous comment. By the consensus holders I am referring to people ranging from Jim Hansen and Al Gore to Tim Lambert and Joe Romm.
    Nor am I conflating the 1st and 3rd point of your three, although I glided by them in the interests of brevity. Consensus holders use the first point as both shield (eg Tobis never having to indicate a policy preference, content to whine about everyone else) and sword (Romm excommunicating those insufficiently doctrinaire).
    As for the third point, so far what we’ve seen is cap and trade, geoengineering and mandated fuel portfolios. Shows a paucity of thinking, IMO.
    Meanwhile, the journalist in me can’t help but pointing out that CO2 emissions are down 2.6% worldwide, 7% in the U.S. and 15% in Spain. Only a third of that is due to the recession in the U.S.–the rest coming from converting from coal to natural gas and efficiency and innovation. What I see is a lack of discussion of this on either side, although I think it is hugely important. Maybe it’s just more fun to slam journalists. The news got reported–but nobody on either side seems to want to do any analysis of this development. It’s Kloor’s fault!

  72. Hank Roberts says:

    Citation needed for:  “CO2 emissions are down 2.6% worldwide, 7% in the U.S. and 15% in Spain. Only a third of that* is due to the recession in the U.S.”“the rest coming from converting from coal to natural gas and efficiency and innovation.”
    *which?
    http://www.google.com/search?q=co2+emission+down+Spain
    Fewer heating days and the recession according to those results.

  73. AMac says:

    Bart Verheggen (#69) wrote, “Amac — You seem to suggest [in #48]  that only when the science is 100% settled (when is that? Ever?), can we move on to the next  point, of how to respond. I sure hope you never get seriously ill.”
     
    My family has had brushes with serious illness, alas.  Fortunately, while the relevant medical sciences are *far* from settled (when would that be? Ever?), they have been improving, albeit in fits and starts.
     
    Michael Tobis and I would scuffle less, if I could score climatology  in similar fashion.
     
    I can’t base an opinion on general knowledge of climatology.  It’s not an area of expertise for me.  But I can recognize how areas of controversies move towards resolution in healthy, vibrant physical sciences.  When I have looked, climate science has not passed that test.
     
    As an example, here is a link to how the Divergence Problem is being handled — unacceptable.  http://tinyurl.com/tAV-Divergence
     
    Here is a retrospective piece about medicine’s retreat from error with respect to adjuvant therapy for breast cancer — acceptable.  http://tinyurl.com/Wolmark
     
    Medical science:  not settled (of course), error-correction protocols are largely working.  Its practitioners may contribute much to public policy, e.g. in drug and device regulation.
     
    Climate science:  not settled (of course), error-correction protocols often not functioning properly.  As long as that situation pertains, the extent to which its practitioners will contribute usefully to public policy is open to question.  In my opinion.

  74. Hank Roberts says:

    Oh, and also outsourcing:
    http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/03/europe-outsourcing-co2-emissions-to-developing-economies.ars
    This is the consistent problem — assertions of belief by journalists as though they were factual, but without cites, with assumptions that may seem unbiased from the journalist’s worldview but seem to be leaning, if not spinning, viewed by the outside reader.
    Citations would always help, if facts matter.

  75. Id wrote:
    “#55 That post was about the government spending at 150 billion per month more than they take in.
    Really? Funny then that you managed to  shoehorn in Gavin Schmidt, Ken Briffa, and ‘leftist scientists’ generally, as if they had anything much to do with the recent expansion of deficit spending.
    “If you aren’t alarmed at that, you are nuts.”
    It’s possible to be alarmed by it without being a nut about it.
     
     

  76. Hank Roberts says:

    > As an example, here is a link to how the Divergence Problem is being handled “” unacceptable.
    Er, that’s a link to one of your own postings of opinion at airvent.

  77. Tom,

    I didn’t take your comment to be about me, but indeed about those in general who support the scientific consensus position.
    And for most of those I gather they indeed start from the first point (the science), and are quite open to disagree on preferred policies, as long as the science is not twisted/denied in order to support a BAU path. Because that’s the one thing that many science minded folks -me included- are allergic to.

  78. AMac says:

    Hand Roberts (#75) — Yes, the link in #72 goes to a synopsis of the Divergence Problem that I wrote.   I didn’t make that clear, you’re right to note it.  Apologies — I used  tinyurl to simplify the plaintext (formatting is tricky for me in this comment section).

  79. Tom Fuller says:

    Bart, BAU (ably assisted by policy efforts to date, I’m sure) have produced a leveling off of energy use in the developed world, two years of CO2 emission reductions in the U.S., emission reductions elsewhere. Global consumption of jet fuel dropped by 14% in the first quarter of this year–before the Iceland volcano.
    Business as usual is not your enemy–business as usual is to innovate and become more efficient as quickly as possible.  When government can help BAU to do it more quickly, that’s a very good thing. However, usually, the help it can realistically provide is a lighter bureaucratic touch and fewer taxes. That really isn’t what’s being proposed.
    Now, look. We do have to do something, and it’s much better to start now. But the confused hodgepodge of contradictory policy tools coming from the consensus side, backed up by militant enforcement of the status quo, isn’t going to get you where you want to go. What BAU wants is consistency enough to make long term plans. If you want to subsidize clean energy, do it long term. Ditto for conservation measures. Finally, lay out a funded road map for distribution improvements. The world needs to spend between $6 and $8 trillion on the various grids–the difference between the two figures is how smart we want them to be.

  80. Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-cyber-bullying&page=2
    “‘In science there’s a whole lot of facts and basic information on the nature of climate change, but it’s not being treated that way. It’s being treated as opinion.’

    The attacks are not limited to climate research, either. Researchers working on Atrazine, a widely used herbicide, bisphenol-a, a common plastic additive, and other environmental pollutants have received similarly intimidating e-mails and even threats.”
    (hat tip to:  http://theclimatescum.blogspot.com/2010/05/fourth-international-conference-on.html  )

  81. Judith Curry says:

    To thingsbreak
    Your misconceptions about the media attention given to me motivates me to make a broader point.
    The paper that you find so inconsequential was actually #47 on Discover Magazine’s top 100 science stories for 2009 (one of the few climate stories that made it into the top 100).  It got pretty good play in the MSM, but was barely mentioned on the climate blogs.  By contrast, my blogospheric essays and interviews have gotten fairly big play in the blogosphere but little mention in the MSM.  The MSM is interested to some extent in new scientific ideas and understanding, and technological breakthroughs.
    The story for the past 9 months or so on the climate topic hasn’t been about the science but rather the issues of mixing climate science and politics, energy policy, and the social psychology of scientists disagreeing with each other. Not really fodder for the MSM (unless it directly impacts energy policy), but the blogosphere certainly salivates over this stuff.
    Thingsbreak inferred from this comparison that I (and possibly generalizing to the larger population) get more “attention” by talking about things i know nothing about rather than within my area of expertise.  Scientists pick a research problem to satisfy their curiosity and/or because the think it is important and/or because they have funding to work on the problem.  This method of selecting research problems doesn’t often intersect very well with what the public actually cares about.  Any scientist that is making efforts to communicate with the public will be stretched to address issues that are outside of their personal expertise and comfort zone.
    Climate researchers learning about and commenting on the broader climate narrative (outside of their personal expertise) is really important.  Most climate researchers that I talk to mostly accept the IPCC WG1 Report, say at the 90% confidence level.  The element of the WG1 Report that an individual scientist (that wasn’t involved in writing the IPCC report) is most likely to be skeptical of are the topics closest to their own research expertise.  For example in my case, I was not happy with the IPCC FAR treatments of climate sensitivity and feedbacks, clouds and aerosol indirect effects, and sea ice (i thought that they got the hurricane issue about right).  And then I implicitly assumed the rest of the report is ok.  So if each scientist (with their own different area of expertise) has the same reaction– skeptical of the section closest to their research area, but trusting the rest –then we end up with individuals having 90%+ confidence in a document that we should collectively have less confidence in if individual scientists had a better grasp of the range of issues and the overall narrative.
    So the challenge to scientific journalism on this topic is, well, challenging.  If individual scientists have difficulty grasping the diverse topics and disciplines that integrate to form the climate narrative, how can we expect journalists to do this?  It is much easier for journalists to pick off pieces that have some human interest or policy relevance.
    After taking a closer look and digging into topics outside of my established expertise, in my opinion the IPCC has provided a narrative that is too certain and unconvincing.  While I haven’t yet finished reading the whole thing, it seems that “America’s Climate Choices” has done a somewhat better job than the IPCC.  I have no idea how we can expect journalists to sort all this out.

  82. Tom Fuller says:

    Dr. Curry, one way journalists can sort this out is for you to keep doing what you’re doing.

  83. It doesn’t matter what aspect of climate you start out discussing. If the discussion is not tightly moderated, in the end you will be arguing rings; tree rings, red herrings, some kind of rings.
    I think we need to look at the balance of evidence in climate science. Millenial scale reconstructions can’t tell us very much. It was a very quiet millenium after all.  Tree ring counting is not tightly integrated with climate science or representative of its intellectual traditions. The fuss over it isn’t justified either in its intrinsic value nor in what it tells us about the practice of climatology. It is a deliberate distraction.
    As this thread shows, tree rings are an all-purpose climate discussion derailing device.
    What the press should be doing is asking how and why any effort at serious conversation gets derailed by these and similar trivialities, of which the stolen  CRU emails are a primary example.
     

  84. thingsbreak says:

    @Judith Curry-
    I was pointing out that some in the media (or a kind of media, if you prefer) paid more attention to your criticisms than you recent papers. I wasn’t naming names, but I assumed that the host of this blog would recognize himself among those. Perhaps I should have been more explicit.
     
    As long as you’re here, perhaps you could provide me with a citation I’ve asked about several times (the “backstory” and “finale” threads)?
    @ 66 Judith Curry writes:
    But the biggest issue that I have with the attribution of 20th century temperature trend is the neglect of the ocean multidecadal oscillations. For example, the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. If that is true, then the warming in the last decades of the 20th century should be partly attributed to the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

    I was unaware that anyone in the field (or anyone outside of the “skeptic” crowd) had been claiming that “the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation”. Could you please provide a citation?
    I’d also be curious to hear your thoughts on Mr. Watts assertions re: NOAA falsifying its data in order to advance domestic climate legislation. I understand that you’ve of late acknowledged some  degree of unfamiliarity with the actual contents of his blog. Perhaps these claims might provide you with some insight into its content, as well as the reason why he is promoted by “technical blogs” you’ve expressed admiration, for like Climate Audit.
    @78 Tom Fuller
    Politely, is it possible that you’re not aware of what BAU means in the context of emissions trajectories?

  85. Tom Fuller says:

    The leaked emails are a primary example, but not of trivialities. Since you brought them up, I feel free to say that they are a primary example of unethical behaviour specifically intended to pretend to certainty in their presentation to policy makers, a certainty that certainly does not exist.
    They chose treerings, not ice cores. They hid a decline in treering data specifically so that they would not have to explain the uncertainties in the data.
    If you don’t want to talk about it, quit bringing it up. If you want to put Climategate behind you, acknowledge the errors in their behaviour.

  86. James Annan says:

    Judith,
    While I share some of your concerns over the IPCC process, I submit that if you are sceptical about the aspects that are closest to your research, but did not get involved, then you only have yourself to blame – there are widely publicised calls for comments. At least I told them when I disagreed with the early drafts, and while I don’t necessarily endorse the final version 100% I like to think it is significantly improved, perhaps part in response to what I said.

  87. Tom Fuller says:

    thingsbreak, Yes, I am aware of how BAU is used–I was actually trying to show that there is more than one interpretation. The IPCC gives very short shrift to the potential of technological innovation in its SREs, as does Stern in his report. And government can actually choke it off, should they want. The point I’m trying to make is that it is innovation that is currently doing all the heavy lifting, absent coherent policy.

  88. AMac says:

    Michael Tobis (#82)
     
    > It is a deliberate distraction.
     
    You  know what is in the hearts of those who disagree with you.  You don’t like what you see.
     
    OK.  Noted.
     
    It may be true that the climate of past centuries and millenia provide no useful context for understanding current-day climate issues.  In that case, it would seem your complaint is with those who have conflated the two issues.
     
    Here’s the table of contents page for IPCC AR4 WG1 (2007).
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html
     
    Most sections aren’t concerned with paleoclimate.  Some are.

  89. Even if one were to stipulate that tree rings are worthless, that “hide the decline” was egregious, and that IPCC should not have included anything about millenial reconstructions, (none of which I am qualified to speak on, one way or the other) the balance of evidence about climate sensitivity and rates would barely suffer a tiny scratch. That’s the take home point about climate, and it’s all I have to say about McIntyre’s and AMac’s hobby horse.
    Regarding IPCC, I think the WG I reports have historically been good, reasonably well balanced and reasonably clear, given the many constraints that they are constructed under. I think Dr. Curry’s observation is reasonable – of course one trusts one’s own judgment more than a consensus in matters where one is expert. I am not sure that her conclusions about the report as a whole follows. An effort was made to convey the respective confidence level throughout. Pressures to understate as well as to overstate climate risks exist.
    I agree with Dr. Curry that we are asking a lot from the scientific press. We should, therefore, find some way to pay them a lot, and we should expect them to work much harder in return. In particular, they need a good grasp of scientific and technical reasoning in a few fields. They should also be willing to apply that grasp.
     

  90. Judith Curry says:

    The significance of the hockey stick is not its importance to the overall global warming narrative (it isn’t very important), but rather its iconic status.  Sir John Houghton used the hockey stick image as a back drop in his press releases for the IPCC 3rd assessment report, and it featured prominently in Al Gore’s movie.
     
    Andrew Montford has an interesting take on this in his book “The Hockey Stick Illusion.”     Here is a quote from his book (i highly recommend it):
    “The fact that the IPCC promoted a hockey stick that was not central to the scientiic debate simply because it was a good sales tool, and then defended it in the face of all criticism shows us that it is not a disinterested participant in the debate.  It has chosen to be an advocate rather than a judge.  It has an agenda. How then, can those who are undecided on the global warming issue accept anything it says as an unbiased judgement on the facts rather than a statement of a political position?  They can no longer be sure.”

    So again the real story is the social psychology of the promoters of the iconic hockey stick (this is why people are fascinated by the CRU emails).  While it is unimportant to the overall scientific narrative, it is hugely important in terms of the public understanding of the climate change issue, since it was a key part of the sales pitch.

  91. Hank Roberts says:

    > innovation that is currently doing all the heavy lifting
    Tom Fuller, asking again, citations needed for these claims you make.   For the current drop in fossil fuel burned, I find mention of the economic slump, and of a reduction in home heating days due to warm winters, and a large export of emissions to production done in China, but no attribution to reduced use due to innovation.  What’s your source?

  92. Keith Kloor says:

    Judith (82):

    For a non-journalist, you’ve pretty much explained the way things work in my biz, esp this:

    “It is much easier for journalists to pick off pieces that have some human interest or policy relevance.”

    I should say it’s not only “much easier,” it’s also the way we operate. It’s part of a mentality about what constitutes a “story.”

    So for example, what I’m doing here–what I did with those interviews with Judith a few weeks back, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn’t get permission to do it if I worked on staff at a science magazine. This conversation–these exchanges, which in sum, I consider edifying on some level, are not valued as journalism in a traditional sense. (It’s just a blog!) I know this, because I make my living from that traditional world. (Dot Earth, whose host is much smarter than me, is a very big exception to the rule. I’m fairly certain it only exists because of Andy’s passion and knowledge and willingness to also facilitate wide-ranging discussion on related topics.)

    But I’m convinced the web can play a much greater role in advancing intellectual debate and bridging differences, despite the blog silos we all naturally retreat to.

    The oddest thing is how this blog has come to define me as a journalist in the climate blogosphere. Whereas in the professional world I mostly inhabit, I’m defined as a magazine editor and writer.

    But I’m hoping to demonstrate that these Q & A’s and vibrant threads are a kind of journalism that can become more accepted and even encouraged at conventional outlets.

    To that end, I echo what Tom Fuller says (83) RE: Judith’s continuing participation.

  93. Tom Fuller says:

    Hank Roberts, I actually pay attention to what people like you say about me and other people I actually respect. I wouldn’t look at my watch to give you the time of day. The citations you ask for are readily available. If you’re curious, feel free to find them. Or continue cherry-picking the quotes that suit your pseudo-philosophy.

  94. Hank Roberts says:

    Tom Fuller, journalist.

  95. Hank Roberts says:

    Dr. Curry, you write:
    “The significance of the hockey stick is not its importance to the overall global warming narrative (it isn’t very important), but rather its iconic status.”
    What I see is a slop-over from one particular chart in the old 1988 paper, to every chart that shows a change in the rate of change — and that’s quite a few different charts. They all get dismissed because they look superficially like ‘hockey sticks’ to people.
    It appears every climate chart can be dismissed because one can say it looks like a “hockey stick” — do you have any other term to suggest to people, for other data sets unrelated to the old one from that early paper?
    This one for example:  http://www2.ucar.edu/news/arctic-warming-overtakes-2000-years-natural-cooling
    What does this look like?  http://www2.ucar.edu/sites/default/files/news/2009/Fig.final_11_crop.jpg
    Can it be described in some other terms, so people won’t dismiss it just because it looks like a you-know-what?
    Or this one?  http://chriscolose.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/turleyph.gif?w=448&h=206
    blogged here: http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/corals-in-peril/
    Other imagery doesn’t suggest anything in particular, but usually that means it’s harder to interpret, e.g.
    this one:  http://projectgroundswell.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/co2-ph-hawaii.jpg
    from this paper: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2009GL040999.shtml
    as blogged here: http://projectgroundswell.com/2010/01/24/ocean-acidification-ocean-in-peril/
    Or this one:  http://www.climatechange.sa.gov.au/uploads/images/carbon_level.gif
    What do you say to people who don’t believe these data?

  96. Tom Fuller says:

    Sorry, dude–don’t slime people for months and then ask them for cites.

  97. It’s “the way we operate” that is exactly the problem. People need the news that is important, not the news that suits your business model.
    In global sustainability questions, the mismatch is spectacular. So something has to change. Hopefully that will be something other than a global failure to sustain.
     

  98. Tom Fuller says:

    Michael, who judges what news is important? Want to nominate someone? Also, in a world with rapidly proliferating sources of information and news, one would think that there would be no problem in getting the ‘right message’ out. Indeed, it would appear that the right message has gotten out repeatedly. In other comments you seem more upset that the ‘wrong message’ is escaping quarantine, and you seem very sure that you know what the wrong message is. Would you obstruct sources of what you consider misinformation?
    Do you think Freeman Dyson should not have been interviewed by the NYT? That Richard Lindzen should not appear in the popular media? That John Christy should not have access to the press?
    It could be done. We could call it the Ministry of Information and just have everything pass through it prior to publication.
    I  honestly don’t think you want that. I think what troubles you is not what is being printed, it’s the effect that it does or does not have. That’s why you get upset with Judith Curry and others who come forward with criticism, saying time and again that ‘this is not the moment.’ But Michael, life is messy that way.
    If your Team had not tried so desperately to enforce message discipline and to limit criticism, none of what Judith is saying now would be of interest outside the blogosphere.
    Your team is losing because it is playing poorly. But this is a long battle–plenty of time to get it right.

  99. dhogaza says:

    Tom Fuller, slime machine extraordinaire, sayeth, ironically:
    “Sorry, dude”“don’t slime people for months and then ask them for cites.”

  100. Tom Fuller says:

    It was only a matter of time before the master of slime appeared to rescue his apprentice.

  101. Tom Fuller says:

    Hoseman, tell Mr. Roberts his info is here:

    Spain used about 6.5 quads of primary energy in 2006, without about 0.5 of that being produced by renewable energy.
    Spain has set a target of generating 30% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2010, with half of that amount coming from wind power. They have currently reached about 20%.
    Electricity demand fell 4.6% in 2009, to 251,305 GW. Installed power increased by 3%, with most of that coming from new wind power facilities, which grew by 2.6 GW to a total of 18.1 GW by end 2009. The fall in demand, decomissioning of two fuel power plants and the rise in renewable electricity all contributed to a 15.5% decrease in CO2 emissions in 2009. (Preliminary Report 2009, RED Electrica de Espana)
    · Drought has had a multi-year impact on Spain’s energy production, with hydroelectric power at 21GWh, 25% lower than its historical average. However, 2009 was actually 12% higher than 2008.
    · Wind provided 13% of Spain’s electricity last year (35,812 GWh), compared to 11% in 2008.
    · Solar provided 3% of Spain’s electricity last year, compared to 1% in 2008.
    · Spain added 800 kilometers of high voltage transmission lines to its electricity grid in 2009.
    Not taking pity, but thinking he may not read Spanish.

  102. RB says:

    Hank Roberts,
    The fall in emissions was indeed due to the <a href=”http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/20/AR2009052003655.html”> recession </a> and <a href=”http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/04/dot-vehicle-miles-driven-decline-in.html”> fall in vehicle miles driven </a>. You can see how economic slowdowns have always induced a drop in emissions in the chart <a href=”http://gregor.us/fossil-fuels/reducing-carbon-the-old-fashioned-way/”> here </a> – notice the big drop during the ’80-’82 recession and the dot-com bust and minor drops during the ’90 recession.
     
     
     

  103. Keith Kloor says:

    Okay, enough with all the slime. Please check your prior disagreements at the blog door.

  104. Tom Fuller says:

    Changes in carbon dioxide emissions can be decomposed into changes in four major contributing factors: population, per capita GDP, energy intensity of the economy, and carbon intensity of the energy supply*. All of these fell in 2009 except for population.  Population grew 0.9 percent.** The downturn of the economy caused per capita GDP to fall (3.3 percent) resulting in a total GDP decline of 2.4 percent.  Energy intensity and the carbon intensity of the energy supply also both fell more than 2 percent.  These three factors (GDP, energy intensity, and carbon intensity) combined in roughly equal proportions to cause emissions to fall by 7.0 percent.

    Thank the EPA.

  105. Tom Fuller says:

    See guys, there’s this thing called Google. Instead of getting all righteous and demanding citations on a blog, you could use it.

  106. Jeff Id says:

    Keith, Judith, James and Michael,
    Your points are well spoken all, however from my perspective, a clear statement rejecting the bad science in the hockey sticks and paleo would be highly destructive to any ‘denialists’ points.  In fact, it was the subject of an extended conversation between Steve McIntyre and myself over the past ICCC weekend.  The ‘unprecedentedness’ presented in hockey stick recons are entirely unnecessary to the IPCC  AGW story.
    Just think for a moment where the IPCC report would be without it..  Reject bad science and many of us will have nothing to discuss.
     
     
     
     

  107. Tom Fuller says:

    Whoops! Sorry all–that was the EIA not the EPA: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/environment/emissions/carbon/

  108. Keith Kloor says:

    RB (107)

    Highlight your text, click on third icon from right.

  109. Hank Roberts says:

    Keith, your take on asking for sources?  I don’t believe it’s out of line to ask, but I do have a history of doing that.  Appropriate here?
    I notice Andy Revkin asking commenters to provide them when they make assertions in his comment threads more lately.  I think it’s helpful and to be encouraged.  Your thoughts welcome, it’s your blog.

  110. John Fleck says:

    MT says: “In the matter of the CRU hacking [t]he press swallowed a smear campaign whole, divided everything in half (“some people say otherwise”) and contented itself with that.”
    This is simply false, Michael. Some of the press did exactly as you describe, and it was troubling, and worth discussing. Much of the press did not, instead digesting the emails and reporting the conclusion that they did not change our fundamental understanding of the science.
    For you to generalize the way you have is the equivalent of building an igloo on the Washington Mall – arguing from the anecdotes that support your narrative while ignoring that which does not. Your persistence in doing that is the reason I went from being annoyed at your analysis of news media coverage of climate change to largely ignoring it. (Well, until today, ’cause I like Keith’s blog.) You’re nothing if not predictable, and as a smart friend of mine recently observed, “Information theory says that the less likely a message, the more information it carries. Why listen to predictable opinions?” 🙂
    But we’ve been through this before, right? Last time we had this argument, you made testable assertions, I conducted the test and presented actual data, as opposed to anecdotes, that I thought showed you were wrong.* It didn’t seem to have much effect, so I spent less time today gathering data. But the release of the package of NAS reports offers a cheap and easy test. I read the first bunch of top-rank MSM stories I found – AP, Reuters, USA Today, LA Times, NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, NPR. I found none of the split-the-difference coverage that gets you so ticked. The closest I found to even discussing the CRUmail stuff was language that waved the whole thing off as irrelevant in the face of the weight of scientific evidence.
    Compare that with the coverage of the Heartland conference, which ought to be a reasonable test of your assertion that the media is doing a “split the difference” thing between real science and bunk. By Newsbusters’ count, the conference got zero coverage from major mainstream media. That’s technically wrong, because I found a Fox News story. But you get my point. Real science (NAS) got solid coverage. Bunk, even a well packaged bunch of it (Heartland) did not.
    This does not mean there are not important issues to be discussed about media coverage of climate change. I believe some of the coverage of the CRU emails was awful. But, as I have tried to argue with you previously, the discussion has to be based on what the media actually does, rather than your anecdotal igloos.
    * http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/?p=3968

  111. Steve Bloom says:

    Fuller:  “Do you think Freeman Dyson should not have been interviewed by the NYT?  That Richard Lindzen should not appear in the popular media?  That John Christy should not have access to the press?”

    None are legitimate expert sources on climate change, Dyson because he’s just a cute old guy with an exotic history in other fields, Lindzen and Christy because they’ve been too wrong for too long.  Interestingly Andy Revkin would not (I think) quote Dyson, does not quote Lindzen, but keeps Christy in his stable of regular commenters, I suspect because he’s got to have someone to go to for a reliably contrarian quote.  IMHO that’s a bit lazy.

    Jeff Id:  “The “˜unprecedentedness’ presented in hockey stick recons are entirely unnecessary to the IPCC  AGW story.  Just think for a moment where the IPCC report would be without it.”

    Getting attacked about the modern temp record, safe to say, and if that becomes unavailable it’ll be replaced by something else.  That’s why it’s the journalists, not the denialists, who are the fixable part of the problem.  Fortunately, I expect the denialist tide (such as it is) to recede considerably as soon as the tea party thing has run its course. 

    Of course this illustrates what Judy seems not to understand.  The fact that McIntyre and some of the other objects of Judy’s attempted persuasion were happy to share a venue, and in at least McI’s case a stage, with the likes of Don Easterbrook proves that there’s little point in courting them. 

    I wanted to note how pleased I am that the NAS has finally bitten the bullet and gotten into the business of telling Congress what it needs to do (cap-and-trade or carbon tax).  The best way to get the focus onto Bart’s third question is to start focusing on the answers to it.  Imagine that.  And the best thing about it is that nobody can blame the NAS since *Congress asked the question*. 

  112. Nosmo says:

    Tom,  the reason you give citations is not for Hank, but for people like me who do not yet have a firm opinion about your credibility.   You weren’t helping yourself in that regard.  I’m taking your argument a bit more seriously now that you did provide some back up.
     

  113. Steve Bloom says:

    JF:  “I read the first bunch of top-rank MSM stories I found ““ AP, Reuters, USA Today, LA Times, NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, NPR.  I found none of the split-the-difference coverage that gets you so ticked.  The closest I found to even discussing the CRUmail stuff was language that waved the whole thing off as irrelevant in the face of the weight of scientific evidence.”

    Perfect, fantastic, and thanks for checking.  More like this, please.

    My two cents on the CRU coverage on this side of the pond was that it wasn’t that bad.  Limbaugh was Limbaugh and Fox was Fox, as were the Murdoch-owned NY Post and the Washington Times, but their audiences were pre-saturated with denialism.  IMHO the only real damage was done by Andy Revkin’s front-page NYT story.  The notoriously scandal-driven Brtish press was a whole other deal, but the British public seems more than aware of that tendency and subsequent poll results don’t show any obvious effect.

  114. Tom Fuller says:

    Nosmo,  thank you for your comment. However, I think that credibility cannot be ascertained in the comments of a weblog–even as good a one as this. My history with two of the commenters here leads me to believe that they won’t look at what I cite at all, and will just continue to disparage me at their usual habitats.
    It took about 15 seconds to find the EIA quote about emissions drop in the U.S. It was, as I said above, widely reported before vanishing down the memory hole. No matter what my credibility or lack thereof in your eyes, you could have checked easily. But so could have Roberts, which is why I had no interest in playing his game.

  115. Hank Roberts says:

    No game on my part. Citing sources is a courtesy for the benefit of whoever comes along later reading this, who may have no idea what people here are talking about if we don’t give our sources.  This isn’t a zero-sum game; it’s a sometimes rough collaborative attempt to find the best information and share it on an ongoing basis.
    Today’s news,  with some fresh numbers:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64H23Y20100518

    (Reuters) – The European recession last year slashed more than 11 percent off climate-warming emissions from heavy industry, the European Union’s executive said on Tuesday.

    Green Business
    The EU said carbon dioxide emissions from more than 12,600 installations regulated by its Emissions Trading Scheme fell by 11.6 percent to 1.873 billion tonnes.
    The decrease was also helped by low prices encouraging greater use of natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than the coal it replaced to generate electricity.
    “Because of the crisis it suddenly became easier to reduce emissions,” European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement.*
    “Unfortunately that also means that European business did not invest nearly as much as planned in innovation, which could harm our future ability to compete on promising markets,” she added…..
    ——–
    * http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/576&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
    found here:  http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/hedegaard/index_en.htm
    searched: http://www.google.com/search?q=European+climate+commissioner+Connie+Hedegaard

  116. Raven says:

    #96 – Hank Roberts

    You linked to paper claiming arctic temps were stable for 2000 years which is utter nonsense if one looks at the other data available such as the GISP cores:
    http://mclean.ch/climate/Eye_opening.htm

    You will, of course, argue that the study you linked to is a better reflection of reality but the question becomes: why should anyone take your claim seriously when scientists have demonstrated that they are willing to defend any kind of junk science as long as it supports the catastrophe narrative?

    Credibility matters and the defend of the hockey stick and the climategate letters show that climate scientists don’t have much credibility.

  117. jr says:

    #116 – Tom
    I think the point is not whether anyone thinks you are credible as an individual or not, but if the figures/data you presented were credible or not. If you don’t provide cites then it makes it more difficult to tell. I would have thought it simply good manners to provide cites to primary sources.

  118. Sashka says:

    Tobis (68)

    I don’t quite agree that you don’t owe me. In the blogosphere, you are weighting into a public debate using your scientific credentials. Those are established and indeed all your livelihood is supported by my tax dollar. Therefore I feel like I am, to some extent, entitled to make sure that your positions are sound and consistent.

    In your linked blog post you are rightly (but too obliquely) criticizing Gore’s lies about green jobs. Some of your points are very strange, e.g. “weakening collective reasoning”. If you are accusing Gore of such a “sin” then you must be joking.

    “the realistic uncertainty is that the sensitivity is 95% likely in the range 1.5 ““ 6 C per CO2 doubling equivalent. Surely you knew this by now.”

    No I don’t know this, not in the sense that I know that 2*2=4. I don’t believe that this probablility was scientifically established. Nor do I believe that we have means to calculate the probability distribution. This may not be the right venue to debate this point, though. I’m sure Jeff would be happy to host it though.

    More relevant to this discussion is that taking your statement at face value translates into a huge uncertainty ranging from benign to potentially dangerous. Given that, I expect you and you colleagues to be honest and admit that this means that the science is NOT settled and throw it in Gore’s face.

  119. Paul Daniel Ash says:

    #117 – Raven
    Credibility matters and the defend of the hockey stick and the climategate letters show that climate scientists don’t have much credibility.
    This question might be a bit OT, but I’m just puzzled by that line of thinking.
    If you’ve made up your mind that science has lost all credibility, then how do you judge a particular claim about the physical world? Whether or not it comports with your preconceived notions? And if so…. how does that differ from faith?
    It just seems like if things veer off into the realm of religious argument, we’ve got rather a different problem on our hands…

  120. Raven says:

    #120 – Paul Daniel  Ash

    If you’ve made up your mind that science has lost all credibility, then how do you judge a particular claim about the physical world?

    I feel that climate scientists have lost all credibility. Not science. I have no issue if claims can be backed up with experimental evidence that can be independently verified. I only have issue with claims which are really nothing more than a judgement call by scientists. e.g. proxy reconstructions which depend heavily on the selection of proxies and the choice of statistical analyses tools or complex climate models with numerous tuneable parameters like aerosols.

    In fact, I find that most alarmists approach science with an attitude that differs little from a religious believer. For example, Tobis is on the record saying he understands nothing about the statistical problems with the hockey sticks but since be has *faith* in the climate scientists he feels be can dismiss all criticisms. Why don’t you tell me how Tobis et. al. opinions is different from a religious argument?

  121. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #121:  The science Raven likes is credible.  The science he doesn’t like isn’t.  Simple, see? 

    Re #119:  “I don’t believe that this probablility was scientifically established. Nor do I believe that we have means to calculate the probability distribution. This may not be the right venue to debate this point, though. I’m sure Jeff would be happy to host it though.”

    I’m sure he would!  The problem is, he (and you) aren’t qualified to have a useful opinion on the subject.  If you were serious, you’d want to have this discussion with a subject matter expert, one of whom actually has a blog.  But it would be a short conversation, wouldn’t it? 

  122. Kevin Anchukaitis says:

     
    Michael Tobis (84):
    Your statement (#84) that ‘Tree ring counting is not tightly integrated with climate science or representative of its intellectual traditions.” is entirely incorrect.
    Dendroclimatology is not ‘counting’ anymore than any science is stamp collecting.  It is a field and laboratory science with a substantial quantitative component and has long-standing standards and practices developed over nearly a century, and is indeed well integrated with the earth sciences.  Some of us are biogeochemists or ecologists or climatologists or even modelers as well.
    As to our ‘intellectual traditions’, A.E. Douglass, who founded the discipline, published the first volume of his ‘Climate Cycles and Tree Growth’ in 1919, two decades before Callendar was publishing on CO2 and quite a bit before the first climate model.  I’d say our intellectual tradition in climatology is pretty solid.
    Anyone really interested in critiquing some particular aspect of paleoclimatology would do well to actually talk to, you know, a paleoclimatologist — attend a meeting or an AGU session, read our papers, come in the field with us — We’re friendly and only a few of us bite.  But caricatures of what we do and how we do it or relying on certain blogs for ‘knowledge’ about our discipline accomplishes little.

  123. Judith Curry says:

    Steve Bloom,  you raise some interesting points regarding who is qualified to discuss certain scientific topics, and also regarding loss of credibility (of McIntyre) for appearing in the same conference as Easterbrook.  You are making fallacious arguments (ad hominem), and reinforcing tribalism by making these statements. Unfortunately, it is the people making ad hominem attacks and enforcing tribalistic behavior that are losing credibility (rather than the people that are being dismissed).
    Lets look at the argument instead.  Raven makes a good point that the probability was not scientifically established.  Well, the range was established based upon multiple simulations from imperfect models, and the confidence level was done by “expert judgement,” so it is borderline scientific but not a very credible statement.  We should be doing a much more rigorous job in such assessments.
    People with a technical background from outside the climate research field often have good points to make that climate researchers should consider.  Sure, there are a lot of bad arguments out there, some of which even get published.  But in my experience (and I spend ALOT of time reading what skeptical scientists write, including papers sent to me via email),  i have found that probably 30% of the papers/critiques i encounter from people making a serious effort make a valid point that deserves further consideration/examination.  Sure there are mistakes and misconceptions, but nevertheless some valid points.
    So blanket dismissal of statements and arguments that are made by people that are not card carrying members of the IPCC-related climate establishment is a bad idea.  Not only does it unnecessary inflame the situation, but it is bad for the science.
    Here is an exercise.  If you are a scientist and like to regard yourself as having an open mind, go to the heartland conference website, listen to the scientific talks (they were much better this year than they have been in previous years), and try find one point in each of the presentations that is interesting and provides food for thought and is deserving of further examination.    Yes there is alot of noise, but there is also some signal.   Tribalistic behavior by many climate scientists results in missing some valid signals, and this is not good for science.

  124. Keith Kloor says:

    I echo Kevin’s (123) point about Paleo scientists being friendly and super helpful. I’ve been out in the field with a bunch for various stories. They’ve also spent many patient hours with me over the phone.

  125. Hank Roberts says:

    > there is a lot of noise, but there is also some signal.
    Dr. Curry, for those of us who are nonscientists reading, a simple two-column list distinguishing noise from signal would help.
    Do you have time to do that?  Otherwise this will lead to more opinionated argument of the “pony here somewhere” sort.
    Just saying directly what’s noise and what’s signal, leaving the remainder unlabeled, would pull out the best and worst items.

  126. Hank Roberts says:

    Raven points to pictures at the website of “John McLean, Computer consultant and occasional travel photographer” to refute climate science.  Do you know where he got his pictures? Is the text he gives you to explain them consistent with the text at wherever he found them?
    This illustrates a common problem I’ve heard called “retrospective research” — an increasing problem in high school and undergraduate eduation, where the youngster writes his opinions first, then goes to Google and finds links he can put in as the reference list — without reading them carefully, without context, and without actually citing sources for the claims made but instead listing something superficially similar that might pass inspection without a lot of effort by the reader to check the details.
    Cite to the original source so people can actually look at the original material and its context.  It’s a kindness to all who want to actually learn real facts about the real world.

  127. Sashka says:

    Tom Fuller (99) – exactly what I want to reply to Tobis myself. It is as if he never read Orwell.

    Bloom (113)

    You got no shame. Dyson is not “just a cute old guy with an exotic history in other fields”. He is one of the leading physicists of the XX century, awed and revered by his peers. Lindzen had not been “wrong for too long”. Too long for what and by whose count? Yours? On the other hand, the “opinion leaders” of the warmist camp Gore and Schneider have, respectively, none and tiny credentials to speak about climate science. But I suppose it is just fine when they speak to the media. Funny that.

  128. afeman says:

    Dr. Curry,
    Could you provide the references for any of those papers you felt had made valid points that should be followed up on, and what you thought deserved attention in them?  Specifying what you thought was worthwhile in those talks would be helpful as well.

  129. Hank Roberts says:

    Raven, compare those pictures you point to, to these.
    Also an amateur* website — but it cites to sources.  And compare the Greenland temperature charts.  Why do you suppose they’re so different?  Well, if you look at the cites to the originals, you can make up your own mind.  If you have the cites.
    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/temperature/
    That’s what cites are for, helping you find good information in the original, and look at the references and footnotes, and look up the citing papers to see what’s new on the subject.
    ____________
    * as a climate blogger; as a physicist, he’s quite well known
     

  130. Judith Curry says:

    A few of you have asked about worthwhile things at the Heartland Conference.  Too much for me to take on at the moment, but Lucia at the Blackboard, Steve McIntyre at Climateaudit and Jeff Id at the Air Vent all attended the meeting and plan on blogging about it.  I will chime in on those blogs to discuss the worthwhile points.

  131. afeman says:

    Dr. Curry,
    How about those papers you mentioned?  We wouldn’t have to wait for those.

  132. Hank Roberts says:

    Dr. Curry, if you think this is publishable — why not offer to help him get it in shape to publish, perhaps with yourself as a coauthor?
    If you think it’s not publishable, what’s lacking?
    “A complete destruction of Mann08’s hockey stick, entirely different from Steve McIntyres M99 PCA issue.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/hockey-stick-cps-revisited-part-1/

  133. Paul Daniel Ash says:

    Raven, 121:
    I have no issue if claims can be backed up with experimental evidence that can be independently verified. I only have issue with claims which are really nothing more than a judgement call by scientists.
    Unless I am to assume that by that statement that you “have no issue” with the vast majority of climate science, my suspicion is that the devil is in the details of how you define “experimental evidence” and “judgement [sic] call.”

    If you have specific critiques of the methods used to try and learn about things we cannot test experimentally because they are in the past (palaeoclimate) or the future (modeling), then that’s all to the good, in the spirit of Dr. Curry’s call. If you’re saying that things like historical reconstruction and prediction are so complex that you don’t think they can be attempted, that’s rather a different thing.

  134. Steve Bloom says:

    Judy, feel free to march over to James Annan’s blog and argue with him about sensitivity where we can all see.  Or maybe just drop Gabi Hegerl a line informing her that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  Or heck, just write a paper.  Oh, not your field?  Imagine that.
     
    BTW, your misuse of ad hominem is a sign of having spent too much time on denialist blogs; it’s not a synonym for criticism.  This statement about McIntyre was not ad hominem:

    “The fact that McIntyre and some of the other objects of Judy’s attempted persuasion were happy to share a venue, and in at least McI’s case a stage, with the likes of Don Easterbrook proves that there’s little point in courting them.”

    It would have been ad hominem had I said that McIntyre’s attendance was evidence of the incorrectness of his views.  I don’t even agree that it was enforcing tribalism, since among other things I’m in no position to enforce anything in that regard.
          

  135. Steve Bloom says:

    BTW, Judy, speaking of it not being your field, this statement of yours is factually incorrect:

    ‘Well, the range was established based upon multiple simulations from imperfect models, and the confidence level was done by “expert judgement,” so it is borderline scientific but not a very credible statement.’

    You may want to check up on that.

  136. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve, (135):

    I fail to see how McIntyre’s attendance at the Heartland conference as a speaker proves anything.

    Can you eleborate on that one, with the least amount of sarcasm you can manage?

  137. Kevin Anchukaitis is entirely correct in his criticism of me. I should not have said  that “˜Tree ring counting is not tightly integrated with climate science or representative of its intellectual traditions.” I apologize for the overstatement.
    I can say that in my doctoral education in meteorology, physical oceanography, and geophysical fluid dynamics it did not appear. Nor, during my three years at the University of Chicago Geosciences department, one of the world’s leading paleoclimate research facilities, did it come up, except for once at a graduate seminar. Mann had been in the news and one of the students introduced the topic form journal readings. No faculty member at U Chicago at that time had any familiarity with the subject.
    But my experience is not enormously broad, and I may be missing connections elsewhere.
    I believe the way Mann and Jones have been treated is shameful, and I have no doubt that they and the rest of the field have honorable intentions.
    That said, I find it entirely possible that a relatively isolated research community can more or less go off the rails. (I believe that about most of economics, a much larger and higher profile discipline.) I do not have enough context to vouch for the results of the tree ring community, nor enough interest or motivation to pursue the matter. I remain agnostic. My position is that it is of very limited importance either to my day-to-day work or to the larger issues that interest me.
     

  138. Hank Roberts says:

    “Global cooling from 1999 to 2009. No global warming has occurred above the 1998 level.” — Don Easterbrook
    http://myweb.wwu.edu/dbunny/research/global/CO2_past-century.pdf

  139. Sashka says:

    Bloom (138)

    You have no idea what you are talking about and you are criminally full of yourself.

    Dr. Curry’s statement is absolutely correct.

    You do need to get into habit of check things out before talking, especially to experts. The way I see it you have two honorable choices: (1) to apologize and shut up; (2) back up your claims. Or you can continue ranting as usual.

    Tobis (140)

    Your believe against mine. I beliеve the way Mann and Jones have been treated too mildly, and I have no doubt that they are dishonest people who ashamed the whole scientific community and caused irreparable harm to the science that they represented.

  140. Hank Roberts says:

    138 isn’t Bloom, and 140 isn’t Tobis.

  141. Hank Roberts says:

    > worthwhile things at the Heartland Conference.  Too much …
    Well, how about just telling us a handful of what you found worthwhile?  Just five minutes’ worth.

  142. Judith Curry,

    You stated that most criticism from “skeptical” directions contains some valuable insights to consider, besides a lot of noise.

    I’m wondering though, is the signal amidst the noise something new that would advance our understanding (however little), or is merely a ‘true’ statement amidst many less than true statements? I.e. that it’s not 100% incorrect? I have a feeling that often ‘half truths’ /truisms are being mentioned.

    In other words, does the scientific field miss out on important insights by dismissing the ‘skeptical’ criticisms? If so, that would be important, but so far I haven’t seen much evidence of it being the case. Could be of course that I haven’t been looking hard enough.

  143. intrepid_wanders says:

    145 – I think more than a few people may find it important if there is a solar-climate “half-truth” effect that had been ignored by the “consensus”.
    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/
    Looks like more modeling trouble… as usual.  Thats alright, we are all learning “together”.

  144. Kevin Anchukaitis says:

    Michael (140),
     
    Thank you for that.  The earth sciences are of course broad enough that it is difficult to encounter all of it (one need just look at the size and scope of AGU every year to see that this is true), even during a multidisciplinary graduate education.
     
    And while my previous ire may have been directed specifically at your comments, I’m more generally interested in a larger point (this one not directed toward you at all):  Much of what has been presented about the scientific aspects of research on the paleoclimate of the last 2000 years, here at Keith’s and in other online forums, has very little resemblance to how the majority of the discipline actually functions (one thing that highlights this are the ungrounded aspersions about the tree-ring research done at CRU).  Reading these, I am reminded of a quote from an article written by Stephen Schneider [1]:
     
    ‘I want people … to poke around climate science and help us to see implicit assumptions and hidden paradigms. However, to get the attention of such a community, the detailed critiques need to be representative and fair and the technical details recognizable, not coming across as caricatures.’
     
    Assuming that any given critique of the community is in good faith and borne of an interest in improving understanding (as opposed to obfuscation), the best way for one and all to go about this is by understanding — and for science particularly, understanding in some accurate and precise details — that which is being critiqued.  To quote Schneider, ‘I realize that this is no trivial assignment’ but how else could it genuinely be done?
     
    [1] Schneider, S.H. 2001, A constructive deconstruction of deconstructionists: a response to Demeritt. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91, 338″“344.

  145. JimR says:

    Kevin(147),
     
    Thanks for your participation here. You definitely raise the signal to noise ratio.
     
    I have to wonder if some of the attitudes towards dendrochronology are related to the very high profile multiproxy reconstructions and the controversies that surround them. I see that you’ve published on the divergence problem. Do you have any comment on the divergence problem as it relates to the large multiproxy reconstructions?
     
    Thanks

  146. Steve Bloom says:

    Keith, the underlying point is that Judy is on a fool’s errand.  I think this is proved by the fact that McIntyre makes no effort to separate himself from the obvious crazies like Watts and from the fossil fuel-funded campaign to keep heating up the climate.  He also presents himself as being much more open-minded than is actually the case.  My proof for this latter is his lack of interest in other aspects of climate research (e.g. on the Pliocene) that render quibbles about the surface record and late-Holocene climate variability pretty secondary.

    While I’m on the subject, I think Judy demonstrates that she’s a victim of Stockholm Syndrome when she attacks the validity of a scientific field not her own without having first made a serious study of it.  In fact, the main anchor of the case for ~3c sensitivity and against the possibility of sensitivity low enough to solve our problem is the Pleistocene glaciations.  I was suprised that Judy didn’t seem to know that.  (As long as you’re interviewing people, BTW, why not interview someone like James Annan or Gabi Hegerl?)

    While I’m on the subject of sensitivity, I should mention that the kind of sensitivity discussed here and generally is the Charney sensitivity, which by definition gives a lower temp increase than reality since it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks.  Putting that in concrete terms, the central Charney sensitivity is ~3c for doubled pre-industrial CO2 (560 ppm), but Pliocene climate results show that our present CO2 climate of ~390 ppm is sufficient to get us to ~3C, *assuming* it doesn’t get worse than that because the temperature excursion is sharp enough to get us a big pulse of permafrost methane (which if it’s big enough will probably melt all of the ice in turn and, worst case, trigger the “clathrate gun”).  All of this should sound familiar, as it’s basically Hansen’s argument.
         

  147. Sashka says:

    Bloom (149)

    “I should mention that the kind of sensitivity discussed here and generally is the Charney sensitivity, which by definition gives a lower temp increase than reality since it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks.  I should mention that the kind of sensitivity discussed here and generally is the Charney sensitivity, which by definition gives a lower temp increase than reality since it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks.”

    According to RC

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/climate-sensitivity-plus-a-change/

    Dude, I really think you need to march to Gavin and tell him how clueless he is.

  148. Sashka says:

    Sorry, the quote from RC didn’t get pasted:
    “Jule Charney made the first modern estimate of the range of climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2. He took the average from two climate models (2ºC from Suki Manabe at GFDL, 4ºC from Jim Hansen at GISS) to get a mean of 3ºC, added half a degree on either side for the error and produced the canonical 1.5-4.5ºC range”
     

  149. AMac says:

    Kevin Anchukaitis (5:29pm, currently #147) —
     
    This is a follow-on to JimR’s comment of 6:23pm (currently #148).
     
    Many thanks for your thoughtful contributions, and the quote from Dr. Schneider.  His assignment is indeed non-trivial.  But this is partly because of the diversity of voices and the cacophony of interests–consider how many distinct points of view are represented on this thread of C-a-s alone.
     
    In the context of the Present Unpleasantness, I’ll suggest one task.  Its accomplishment would be meaningful to some (“people-like-me”).  Granted, many will be unmoved.  On the one side, because some see the task as accomplished well before Keith opened this thread.  And on the other side, because distrust of the climatology mainstream is so pervasive that nothing will change minds.
     
    That task would be to walk through Steven McIntyre’s just-posted Heartland Society talk, and demonstrate why the particular narrative that he presents ought not be damaging to the public’s trust in climate science.
     
    The context is provided by the conclusion of the Demerrit paper that Schneider critiques in your reference:
     
    “The proper response to public doubts is not to increase the public’s technical knowledge about and therefore belief in the scientific facts of global warming.  Rather, it should be to increase public understanding of and therefore trust in the social process through which those facts are scientifically determined…”
     
    McIntyre’s post is herehttp://tinyurl.com/CA-Heartland
    The script for his presentation (21-page PDF with some illustrations) is here.   http://tinyurl.com/McI-PDF
    (Dunno if the links will come through; tinyurls as backups.)
     
    Since it’s unlikely that a practicing dendrochronologist and a “lukewarmer” will view McIntyre’s work similarly, some context from this side of the divide might help.
     
    McIntyre’s talk does not engender “belief in the scientific facts of global warming” (as seen from the Consensus POV).  This is the case because he outlines a series of events–publications of papers and the assembly of part of the IPCC TAR WG1 report–that are out of accord with the scientifically-literate public’s understanding of the social process through which facts are scientifically determined.
     
    So what is eroded isn’t trust in the scientific process as such. Instead, what’s diminished is  trust in the social processes by which those who are “warranted” to generate scientific knowledge are operating.
     
    It may be that McIntyre’s assessment is largely correct, and that erosion of trust is a justified response to the story he relates.  In that case, what steps should the community of Consensus climate scientists take to acknowledge shortcomings and correct mistakes?
     
    Or, it may be that McIntyre’s assessment is factually in error, or sufficiently out-of-context that the impression of improper conduct is misleading.  In that case:  what steps should the community of Consensus climate scientists take to demonstrate the factual or conceptual problems with this narrative, and supplant it with a correct one?
     
    My presumption is that two end-states are desired:  that scientific understanding approximate physical reality, and that climate science enjoy the (justified) trust of as much of the public as is possible.
     
    This is *not* an invitation for (another) multi-hundred-comment C-a-s thread, with endless back-and-forth on the topic I broached.  That choice of venue guarantees failure.  If such a task is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
     
    McIntyre has logically developed a narrative of events that is in plain English, full of specifics, and relatively easy for non-specialists to understand.  Footnoted and referenced.
     
    It’s not clear to me that “your side” has done the same.
     
    To my mind, this explains some of the features of the debate, as seen from a “lukewarmer” perspective.

  150. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #150/1:  Sashka, as you desperately need a clue:  When you see the phrase “Charney sensitivity” it refers to the Charney committee’s *definition* of sensitivity, not to their particular calculation of it (which note still looks pretty good notwithstanding the limited data available to them).  

  151. Tim Lambert says:

    I read all the slides and watched the videos of all the keynotes to produce write a  summary of the 2009 Heartland Conference. If folks think there are worthwhile presentations in this years could they point to them?  I did find one from Denning, but it was making the case for the mainstream climate science.
     

  152. thingsbreak says:

    So can I assume that this will be yet another thread where Judith Curry doesn’t feel like answering what seems to be a fairly trivial request given the import of her statement?
     
    @ 66 Judith Curry writes:
    But the biggest issue that I have with the attribution of 20th century temperature trend is the neglect of the ocean multidecadal oscillations. For example, the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. If that is true, then the warming in the last decades of the 20th century should be partly attributed to the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
     
    I was unaware that anyone in the field (or anyone outside of the “skeptic” crowd) had been claiming that “the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation”. Could you please provide a citation?

  153. Hank Roberts says:

    Dr. Curry is, I’m guessing, referring to the people posting at ‘icecap’ and ‘wattsup’ sites — it’s the old confusion of cycles and trend, that Tamino has debunked repeatedly.  Is there someone else saying it?
    http://www.google.com/search?q=the+recent+cooling+is+being+attributed+to+switching+to+the+cool+phase+of+the+Pacific+Decadal+Oscillation

  154. intrepid-wanders,

    There’s a whole body of scientific literature dealing with solar-climate realtions, so you can hardly claim it’s being ignored.
    Whether the conclusions usually reached are to your liking is a different matter of course.

  155. Magnus W says:

    More research on media and reporting on climate change:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090225073213.htm

  156. thingsbreak says:

    @146
    Excellent question, Bart. It would be wonderful to see it addressed.
     
    @153 AMac:
     
    As a “lukewarmer”, could you explain your reasoning for believing that climate sensitivity is both low and well-constrained? If you don’t believe both, can you explain why you consider yourself to be a “lukewarmer”? Thank you!

  157. AMac says:

    thingsbreak (8:44am, currently #161) —
     
    In my case (at least), take “lukewarmer” to mean uncertainty as to the confidence ascribed by the AGW Consensus to the direction and magnitude of the indirect forcings that will result from increasing CO2.
     
    I’m confident that the instrumental record shows global warming of about 1 C in the past century (e.g. recent post by  Zeke Hausfather at The Blackboard).
     
    I’m confident that the physics of RTE forecasts a direct forcing of 1 C to 1.5 C upon doubling of [CO2] (e.g. Jeff Id, to pick a skeptic).
     
    I’m confident that application of the scientific method is the best way humans have yet invented for describing and understanding the physical world (e.g. Feynman’s musings on the subject).
     
    Per comments earlier in this thread, I am not confident that all areas within climatology are adequately disinterested — adequately engaged in error recognition and correction — adequately applying statistical methodology — suitably humble about the uncertainties that current approaches (should) yield.

  158. Keith Kloor says:

    Magnus:

    Thanks for reminding us of this important research and the AAAS panel.

    I don’t entirely agree with either assessment, because it’s a snapshot in time. I bet If we looked at the media coverage after Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and Hurricane Katrina, I’d say that much of the focus was not on climate science but the considered consequences of climate change–the scary stuff. I wasn’t paying as close attention then to the trench battles, but I don’t recall there being this much anguish by climate advocates over media coverage of climate science.

    And just to give people some additional perspective of me, here’s what I was doing around this time in my capacity as a senior editor of Audubon Magazine–conceiving and assigning this profile.

    And so 2009 was a big year for climate change news stories–what with the lead-up to Copenhagen, fiery debate over congressional cap & trade climate bills. It’s worth noting, too, that the msm coverage of Copenhagen and cap & trade bills did not question the science of climate change.

    But then we get the Climategate wave and the row over IPCC mistakes. Now, because the latter two news events were science-related, you saw stories examining issues related to climate science (with juicy political-related angles).

    So there’s this assumption by folks like Michael Tobis  that the press’s recent coverage of climategate and the IPCC is just a continuation of bad, bad msm coverage, which in sum, is responsible for policy and political paralysis on climate change.

    I have argued that the outcomes at Copenhagen and in the U.S. Congress would have been just the same had that coverage of Climategate and the IPCC never existed. So the press is a convenient scapegoat, number two on the list, after those dastardly climate skeptics. (Or which is it, Michael? Do we rank higher or lower than the skeptics on the here’s-where-the-fault lies meter?)

    But Michael finally seems to be grasping the institutional limitations and imperfections of msm journalism.

    Remember, folks, there’s a reason why newspapers are called the first draft of history. (And I include spot broadcast news coverage in this category.)

  159. thingsbreak says:

    @162 AMac
     
    As a “lukewarmer”, does your belief that climate sensitivity is poorly constrained mean that you strongly favor, from a cost-benefit perspective, mitigation vs. inaction?
     

  160. willard says:

    Keith,
    If I understand you correctly, MT’s contention has been properly deconstructed, and even clinically demolished, by an evening zapping of a few NYT articles, but now an AAAS’ assessment is doubtful because it is only a snapshot in time.  These kinds of studies are what we need, however snappy they may be.  Minimally, they might show that the institutional limitations are to be discussed not as imperfections, but as proper functions of journalism in general.
     
     
     

  161. Keith Kloor says:

    Willard (165):

    Excellent point.

  162. AMac says:

    thingsbreak (10:19am, currently #164) —
    Re: mitigation vs. inaction, Roger Peilke Jr. has written extensively on two closely-related topics:  policy formulation under conditions of uncertainty, and the role of scientists in policymaking.  His blog has a very liberal comments policy and a pretty broad spectrum of readers, thus informative debates in some threads. I’d turn there to explore that question.

  163. thingsbreak says:

    @167 AMac
     
    Is it too much tr0uble to answer a straightforward question, i.e. does your belief that climate sensitivity is poorly constrained mean that you strongly favor, from a cost-benefit perspective, mitigation vs. inaction?
     
    I’m not interested in Pielke Jr.’s opinion, I’m interested in your position as informed by your belief that climate sensitivity isn’t well-constrained.

  164. #165-166 (Willard and Keith)
    Huh? I can’t parse that. Please explain slowly for a bear of little brain…
    Thanks in advance.
     

  165. AMac says:

    thingsbreak (#168)
     
    > does your belief that climate sensitivity is poorly constrained mean that you strongly favor, from a cost-benefit perspective, mitigation vs. inaction?
     
    You’re pressing for an opinion, on a complex subject that seems a bit off-topic.  For what it’s worth:  No, I do not think that the one follows from the other.
     
    I’m aware of arguments to the contrary.

  166. thingsbreak says:

    @170 AMac
     
    Thank you for confirming that. It’s an interesting dynamic that I’ve noticed among self-described “lukewarmers”.
    They (in general) appear to reject all of the following:
    1. Climate sensitivity is very likely ~3°C.
    2. Climate sensitivity is well-constrained by the evidence.
    3. Uncertainty in the value and/or constraint of climate sensitivity increases the value of insurance/mitigation.
     
    It’s endlessly fascinating, almost as though working with a different set of norms or from a different starting point entirely. Of course speculating as to why this seems to be is off-topic, so I’ll leave it for a different time and place.

  167. sturat says:

    I posted this on May 12th in the “Curry: The Finale” post on this blog. It never got a reply.

    Since Dr. Curry appears to be responding to this thread, I thought I’d try again.

    Keith,
    Would you be willing to ask Dr. Curry to comment on her suggestion that “pro-AGW” (my words) proponents spend more time on “anti-AGW” blogs after the recent two Venus posts on WUWT by Goddard?
    It would be interesting if she had some suggestions on how to respond to Goddard and the numerous commentator’s who think they have overturned science.
    The point I’m trying to make is that “anti-AGW” commentators could exhibit much more credibility if they helped to educate the passionately interested non-scientists when especially nutty ideas are proposed. That is what the “pro-AGW” bloggers (at least some of them & some of the time) try to do.

    I know I am picking on WUWT, but I have never seen any consistent push back by his stable of commentator’s to try to correct false understandings of science. It seems like the opposite is preferred to cast as much doubt on everything to keep people agitated.

    So, Dr. Curry, how should we handle these forays into scientific fantasy? What would you say to one of your students if he/she stated that the surface temperature of Venus can be explained “like pumping up a bicycle tire”?

  168. Tim Lambert says:

    Following Judith Curry’s suggestion I looked at Don Easterbrook’s talk at the Heartland Conference.  Was it a fudge or was it a fraud?

  169. Lewis says:

    I know this is a long and well out of date missive, Keith, but there is some dignity in being a’ journalist’! In another age you might have been called a thinker, an ‘attempter’ at the windmills of thought. A confession: I loved my Montaigne but could never  say goodbye so I refused to read his final essay – we can never say goodbye to what is best in us!

  170. Hank Roberts says:

    Dr. Curry, I checked in to ask the same question Tim Lambert asks
    If you don’t have time to list the many good points you think people can find in the program — can you rule out Easterbrook completely as of any use, after looking at what he did with those charts?   Do you find any  grain of truth in his presentation you can recommend?

  171. Lewis says:

    Just a last point – when I was young I gained a deeply pessimistic view of history – that the grinding wheels will ever grind on – too much reading of Marx – but, deep down, I knew what Vaclav H avel has said – that the ‘powerlessness’ of the people is just a matter of not acting – not to just begin with the heart but begin with actions – but in a liberal and consensual way. I think that’s my politics.

  172. Hank Roberts says:

    Raven, did you ever find a cite for the pictures on that McLean page you referred to above  ( Raven Says:
    May 20th, 2010 at 4:33 am) ?  claiming to be based on Greenland, but not giving any actual source?
    Turns out that claim has already been debunked, here, by Andy Revkin and Richard Alley, because it was made a lot on blogs by septics:
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/rich

    “February 8, 2010, 3:36 pm
    Reality Check on Old Ice, Climate and CO2
    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    Richard Alley’s name has been thrown around a bit by bloggers asserting that ice-core records from Greenland show that carbon dioxide has scant, if any, influence on climate….

    I sent a query to Dr. Alley about such interpretations of his work and the ice-core record and he sent a reply, the heart of which is pasted below….”

  173. Sashka says:

    thingsbreak (171)

    It’s an interesting dynamic that I’ve noticed among warmers:

    They accept all of the following:
    1. Climate sensitivity is very likely ~3°C (even though they cannot constrain the probability any better than to say that it’s greater than zero)
    2. Climate sensitivity is well-constrained by the evidence (even though they don’t know of any such evidence)
    3. Uncertainty in the value and/or constraint of climate sensitivity increases the value of insurance (As if reducing CO2 make the future climate outcome certain. In reality, of course, the probabilities are are unknown under BAU as well under any mitigation scenario.)

  174. willard says:

    Michael,
    .
    Here is the context: John Fleck, in #112, where he contested your claim that during the CRU affair the mainstream medias “swallowed a smear campaign whole”.   He recalls an argument he had with you and says he tested one of your claim.  Here is the link he offered as evidence:
    .
    http://www.inkstain.net/fleck/?p=3968
    .
    In that post, we can see his methodology:
    .
    > I went back through the last 100 hits on the Times’ search engine before I got bored.
    .
    Interestingly, one of the two comments is a trackback by Keith, in an article that starts with:
    .
    > John Fleck clinically demolishes Michael Tobis’s straw man critique of climate change-related journalism.
    .
    In fact, this is one of the two sentences of the post.
    .
    Now, compare that with the AAAS’ article, and Keith’s reaction to it.  Interesting, isn’t it?
    ***
    I think what I am saying so far can make you understand all I said, except for the last sentence.  In that last sentence, I am merely recalling that analyzing media coverage can make realize that looking for “balance” or “fairness” might be taken as looking for the impossible, which might turn into a fallacy akin to ask for certainty in science.
    .
    As a general principle, sure, a media seeks fairness and balance.  Even Fox does, in its own peculiar way.  But as to describe how journalistic institutions work, that is simply an procrustean bed that cut any mainstream media’s feet.  For the mainstream media is a corporation like any other one else.   Its behaviour is better explained by its main objective, which is to serve its shareholders, then the corporations that buys publicity, and after that its subscribing readership.
    .
    Mainstream media’s proper function is there to promote and defend some establishment’s conceptual framework.  A media that does not function that way will never become mainstream.  That’s what properly defines being mainstream.
    .
    That said, I am not siding against your point of view.  Nor do I am siding against Keith’s and Fleck’s.  Since that explanation has taken some time already, I will venture this suggestion: instead of deploring the msm as you do, it might be better to focus on what specific talking points some media should improve, talking points that are observable by analyzing msms’ content in the same vein as the AAAS study.  If not, it might be better to refrain from inducing too much from a too small sample.
    .
    In a nutshell, if you have a beef against Andy Revkin, go after him, not the NYT or the journalists in general.  Going after journalists takes a different cattling technique.

  175. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #178:  Such ignorant sarcasm is unbecoming in a thread where you were shown to understand not even the most fundamental concept pertaining to climate sensitivity.  I’d call it criminal ignorance, except that it’s more suitable for pointing and laughing.  

  176. thingsbreak says:

    @178 Sashka
    1, 2. The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes
    3. Uncertainty associated with the environmental and economic effects of greenhouse gas emissions increases the value of mitigation, assuming some level of risk”aversion.
    This isn’t a personal opinion, or one isolated to “warmers” (not sure what that means- that I accept the conservation of energy and blackbody radiation?)- it’s the overwhelming opinion of economists.

  177. Judith Curry says:

    Easterbrook’s presentation certainly has some very bizarre plots.  But in the context of my proposed exercise of trying to find something of interest even in a presentation that is mostly wrong, there is one issue raised by Easterbrook (as well as others), regarding the impact of AMO and PDO on global temperatures.  This issue has not yet been addressed satisfactorily, and is likely to be associated with Kevin Trenberth’s “travesty” issue.
     
    Re climate sensitivity.  The IPCC party line values address the known unknowns, i.e. the range of values associated with different methods of determining sensitivity.  The confidence level in the IPCC neglects the unknown unknowns; that is, the things  we suspect but can’t quantify.  The unknown unknowns include inadequacies in all of the methods (model and observational inadequacies, lack of climate system equilibrium, etc.), interactions with glaciers and ecosystems, carbon cycle on land and in oceans, etc.  The unknown unknowns should be included in assessment of the confidence level in the range derived from the known unknowns; I am arguing that the range should be increased and the confidence level reduced.

  178. JimR says:

    thingsbreak, the Knutti and Hegerl paper seems to support the idea that climate sensitivity is poorly constrained by the observational evidence.  They specifically state that in the section “A Lack of Progress?”.

  179. dhogaza says:

    “Re climate sensitivity.  The IPCC party line values address the known unknowns, i.e. the range of values associated with different methods of determining sensitivity.  The confidence level in the IPCC neglects the unknown unknowns; that is, the things  we suspect but can’t quantify.  The unknown unknowns include inadequacies in all of the methods (model and observational inadequacies, lack of climate system equilibrium, etc.), interactions with glaciers and ecosystems, carbon cycle on land and in oceans, etc. ”
    Huh … it’s sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere, not to a doubling of emissions, therefore carbon cycle impacts aren’t relevant …

  180. Sashka says:

    Bloom (178)

    Before you start talking about ignorant or sarcasm, but especially both, you need to take a look in the mirror. For example, from the popular lately paper linked  thingsbreak in 181:

    The classical “˜Charney’ sensitivity that results from doubling CO2 in an atmospheric GCM coupled to a slab ocean model includes the feedbacks that occur on a timescale similar to that of the surface warming (namely mainly water vapour, lapse rate, clouds and albedo feedbacks).”

    I don’t really hope that you will develop any sort of cognitive dissonance comparing this with the pearl of your wisdom in 151.

    “I should mention that the kind of sensitivity discussed here and generally is the Charney sensitivity, which by definition gives a lower temp increase than reality since it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks.”

    So it’s more to everybody’s information/amusement and to appreciate what kind of an “expert” we are having on board here.

    thingsbreak,

    1.2. The way I understand the Knutti&Hegerl paper (sorry – not much time to dig) is that they apply a simplified model to study sensitivity. I don’t believe such an approach is valid as long as the model itself is not validated. But I’ll to take a second look.
    3. I’m not against mitigation. I’m just saying that uncertainty increases the value of mitigation has no implications for policy until quantified. E.g. increases by a penny or by a trillion dollar per ton?

  181. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve (180)

    Your persistent sarcasm is wearing thin. I’ve become inured to it over the last year, when directed at me. But if you can’t refrain from being polite with those you disagree with, then take it elsewhere.

  182. Steve Bloom says:

    So let’s see, Keith, Sashka started things off in 143, which BTW was in response to a perfectly polite comment directed to Judy:

    “You have no idea what you are talking about and you are criminally full of yourself.
    “Dr. Curry’s statement is absolutely correct.
    “You do need to get into habit of check things out before talking, especially to experts. The way I see it you have two honorable choices: (1) to apologize and shut up; (2) back up your claims. Or you can continue ranting as usual.”

    “(C)riminally full of yourself” and ranting as usual are rather strong language, don’t you agree?  As you said nothing to him, I assumed this was the standard for discourse on this thread. 

    And of course, Sashka’s confusion about sensitivity shows that he had no idea as to the facts of the matter.

  183. thingsbreak says:

    @JimR
    The point is that while climate sensitivity is very likely to be ~3°C, it isn’t known with absolute confidence. And that uncertainty actually increases the value of mitigation from an economic perspective.
     
    @182 Judith Curry
    there is one issue raised by Easterbrook (as well as others), regarding the impact of AMO and PDO on global temperatures.  This issue has not yet been addressed satisfactorily
    Hi! This is directly relevant to a question that I’ve been politely trying to get answered for the last 3 or so threads you’ve been in.
    @ 66 Judith Curry writes:
    But the biggest issue that I have with the attribution of 20th century temperature trend is the neglect of the ocean multidecadal oscillations. For example, the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. If that is true, then the warming in the last decades of the 20th century should be partly attributed to the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
     
    I was unaware that anyone in the field (or anyone outside of the “skeptic” crowd) had been claiming that “the recent cooling is being attributed to switching to the cool phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation”. Could you please provide a citation?
    —–
    As you’ve brought this up again, perhaps you could provide a citation to something specific?

  184. Steve Bloom says:

    Sorry, “ranting as usual” was Sashka’s phrase and should have been in quotes.

  185. Hank Roberts says:

    This abstract appears to cover what you’re asking for, no?
    ——
    Global temperatures are known to have varied over the past 1500 years, but the spatial patterns have remained poorly defined. We used a global climate proxy network to reconstruct surface temperature patterns over this interval. The Medieval period is found to display warmth that matches or exceeds that of the past decade in some regions, but which falls well below recent levels globally. This period is marked by a tendency for La Niña”“like conditions in the tropical Pacific. The coldest temperatures of the Little Ice Age are observed over the interval 1400 to 1700 C.E., with greatest cooling over the extratropical Northern Hemisphere continents. The patterns of temperature change imply dynamical responses of climate to natural radiative forcing changes involving El Niño and the North Atlantic Oscillation”“Arctic Oscillation.
    ——
    That’s from
    Reports, page 1256, 27 NOVEMBER 2009, VOL 326,  SCIENCE
    http://www.seas.harvard.edu/climate/seminars/pdfs/MannEtAl2009.pdf

  186. Steve Bloom says:

    Good, Sashka, you’re learning something.  On to the next lesson.  First to repeat the phrase you quoted: 

    The classical “˜Charney’ sensitivity that results from doubling CO2 in an atmospheric GCM coupled to a slab ocean model includes the feedbacks that occur on a timescale similar to that of the surface warming (namely mainly water vapour, lapse rate, clouds and albedo feedbacks).”

    OK, so we know what feedbacks the Charney sensitivity includes, but which does it *not* include, i.e. which of them don’t operate on that timescale?  These are the feedbacks that I described as “lurking,” BTW. 

    And if I may say so, you need to read what people write more carefully before going into attack mode.  I’m sure Keith would agree. 

  187. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #184:  dhogaza, the carbon feedbacks are very relevant, although not to the Charney sensitivity as I’ve been discussing with Sashka.  Michael would be able to say much more, but as I understand it the modeling teams will be using an expanded definition of sensitivity for the next AR.  IIRC it had been assumed until recently that only the Charney feedbacks would be an issue for 2100, but that no longer seems to be the case.  Of course we also care about what will be happening with the climate in 2150, 2200 or later, so as I understand we’ll be seeing more of that information too.

    An important point to note, and one of the reasons for the shift in emphasis for the next AR, is that studies of the mid-Pliocene and mid-Miocene warm periods (recent enough so that the configuration of the continents and oceans was quite similar to the present one) show that equilibrium sensitivity in the real world is such that our current level of CO2 is sufficient to raise global average temperature by ~3C.  At 560 ppm things are rather worse than that. 

    Also, there’s at least one potential feedback, the permafrost methane, that will remain a question mark until there’s some sense of how quickly it will respond to a warming climate.  There’s no paleo analog for this since under natural conditions such a mass permafrost melt probably hasn’t happened.

    That unpleasant worst case aside, there’s not much question as to where we’re headed if we maintain our present course of emissions, but we very much need the models to tell us how fast the transition will be.         

  188. JimR says:

    thingsbreak,
    The point is that while climate sensitivity is very likely to be ~3°C,
    That’s an overstatement. Very likely is defined as more than 90% probability and that corresponds to the range of climate sensitivity, 2 C – 4.5 C for AR4.

    it isn’t known with absolute confidence.
     
    And that’s an understatement. Far from absolute confidence according to Knutti and Hegerl little progress has been made in constraining climate sensitivity. There is empirical evidence showing varying ranges of climate sensitivity and climate models that give a similar range of climate sensitivity.  Yet there is still a poor understanding of all the factors involved. If I understand Dr. Curry the current wide ranges are based on the known unknowns, but without an understanding of all the factors involved there are unknown unknowns that aren’t being considered thus confidence levels should be reduced.

  189. Hank Roberts says:

    > Knutti and Hegerl little progress has been made in constraining
    This is why y’all don’t cite your beliefs to actual sources, again.
    Because if you cited sources, people can see you’re lying.  When you don’t cite sources, you may mislead people who don’t know how to look things up, then claim you meant some other paper.
    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf
    “The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes
    The Earth’s climate is changing rapidly as a result of anthropogenic carbon emissions, and damaging impacts are expected to increase with warming. To prevent these and limit long-term global surface warming to, for example, 2 °C, a level of stabilization or of peak atmospheric CO2 concentrations needs to be set. Climate sensitivity, the global equilibrium surface warming after a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration, can help with the translation of atmospheric CO2 levels to warming. Various observations favour a climate sensitivity value of about 3 °C, with a likely range of about 2″“4.5 °C. However, the physics of the response and uncertainties in forcing lead to fundamental difficulties in ruling out higher values. The quest to determine climate sensitivity has now been going on for decades, with disturbingly little progress in narrowing the large uncertainty range. However, in the process, fascinating new insights into the climate system and into policy aspects regarding mitigation have been gained. The well-constrained lower limit of climate sensitivity and the transient rate of warming already provide useful information for policy makers. But the upper limit of climate sensitivity will be more difficult to quantify.”
    — Reto Knutti and Gabriele C. Hegerl
    ——–
    Why, our host could have called you out on that poisoned canape’ if he’d wanted to.  You should lie better than that, it’s too easy to debunk.
    Am I going over the line here?  Or was he?

  190. Hank Roberts says:

    > impact of AMO and PDO ….
    What’s lacking here?  Seriously, what’s missing?  Specifically?
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Is-Pacific-Decadal-Oscillation-the-Smoking-Gun.html
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/pdo_temp.gif
    Figure 3: Monthly PDO index (blue) versus monthly global land ocean temperature anomanly (red). Smoothed data and trend lines are added.
    While PDO does have some degree of correlation with short term variations in global temperature, the striking feature of Figure 3 is the contrast in trends between PDO and global temperature. Obviously the PDO as an oscillation between positive and negative values shows no long term trend. In contrast, temperature displays a long term warming trend. When the PDO last switched to a cool phase, global temperatures were about 0.4C cooler than currently….”

  191. Sashka says:

    Bloom (191),(187)
    It is not going to work, and I think you know it. I’ll quote you again:
    “I should mention that the kind of sensitivity discussed here and generally is the Charney sensitivity, which by definition gives a lower temp increase than reality since it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks.“
    The point here is, Bloom, that it does include the most important feedbacks. And since it does, the jury is still out whether these are overstated or understated. By definition, we don’t know.
    It is possible that it doesn’t include some positive feedbacks. It is also possible that it doesn’t include some negative feedbacks. Net-net – we don’t know which way it is biased.
    Is this clear enough? Please, don’t answer. I know it isn’t. Ambiguity is so hard to grasp.
    Oh, BTW. No apologies on the etiquette. The person who confidently proclaims certifiable BS in the face of the experts is criminally full of himself. That’s by definition, Bloom.
     

  192. Sashka says:

    I’ve read Knutti and Hegerlon on my way home a bit more. This is no more than a review article. It seems like they rely in their conclusions on some other papers. Be themselves they did nothing or close to that.

  193. Steve Bloom says:

    Sashka’s rubbing your nose in it, Keith.  Gonna let him get away with it?

  194. JimR says:

    Hank Roberts, Wow… you are one of the people here who should really lurk more and pause, giving careful consideration before you do post. These type discussions shouldn’t be personal, if I’m wrong I’m always happy to be corrected. It’s the difference between discussion and trying to put down people you disagree with.
     
    In this case a cite wasn’t necessary if you were following the discussion. thingsbreak had posted a link (181) to that same Knutti and Hegerl paper and it was apparent that was the paper we were discussing.
     
    Now you’ve called me a liar twice in your post. What you seem to object to is my statement “Far from absolute confidence according to Knutti and Hegerl little progress has been made in constraining climate sensitivity”. Oddly in your attempt to show I’m lying you post the K&H abstract which includes ” The quest to determine climate sensitivity has now been going on for decades, with disturbingly little progress in narrowing the large uncertainty range”.
     
    IMO yes, you’ve crossed the line here. Corrections to information are always welcome if you take the time to follow the conversation and understand. If you focus on accusations and attitude with little understanding it becomes more of the empty rhetoric that several of you in the blogosphere have become infamous for.

  195. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #195:  That’s really very sad, Sashka.  To borrow a phrase from Al Gore, every bit of that is wrong.  But please explain, since you’re so confident:

    “The point here is, Bloom, that it does include the most important feedbacks.”  I didn’t characterize either set as more important than the other.  What’s your basis for doing that if you don’t even know what all the feedbacks are?

    “And since it does, the jury is still out whether these are overstated or understated.”  This is a non sequitur.  Do you have an actual point to make?

    “By definition, we don’t know.”  What definition?  Reference, please.

    “It is possible that it doesn’t include some positive feedbacks.”  Didn’t we establish that you can’t even name them?  FYI they’re named all over the literature, so you could inform yourself easily.

    “It is also possible that it doesn’t include some negative feedbacks.”
    Probably, since some negative feedbacks are bound to be slow.  But can you identify them and make some sort of case as to why they’re not small relative to the larger positive ones?

    “Net-net ““ we don’t know which way it is biased.”  Could we hope for some sort of analysis to support this amazing assertion?

    Hmm, all that and no pony.  Oh well.

    Re #196:  Oh, a review article by two of the leading scientists in the field?  And all they did was to synthesize prior results?!  Shocking, shocking. 

    FYI, review articles are written for people outside a particular field so they can know what the state of the science in that field is.  Such articles *never* include new research.  So now you’ve learned something else about the basics of scientific practice.

  196. Keith Kloor says:

    Steve, the problem is you can’t leave well enough alone. It’s fine to have a strong opinion but too often you end your comments on a snarky, borderline nasty note. All that does is incite people, including me.

    That said, Sashka, you’ve got some pretty strong opinions too, which is also fine. But they are often delivered with contempt or a sneer. I’d like you to keep participating, but you can please tone it down, even if you feel baited.

    Jeez, I know this is such a tired cliche, but what the hell: can’t we all just get along? At least enough to carry on a conversation without insults.

  197. thingsbreak says:

    @193 JimR:
    That’s an overstatement. Very likely is defined as more than 90% probability and that corresponds to the range of climate sensitivity, 2 C ““ 4.5 C for AR4.
    Are you, perhaps, unfamiliar with the symbol “~”?
     
    And that’s an understatement.
     
    Indeed, although more specifically an exaggeration for effect re: the increased weighting of insurance under uncertainty.
     
    according to Knutti and Hegerl little progress has been made in constraining climate sensitivity. There is empirical evidence showing varying ranges of climate sensitivity and climate models that give a similar range of climate sensitivity.  Yet there is still a poor understanding of all the factors involved. If I understand Dr. Curry the current wide ranges are based on the known unknowns, but without an understanding of all the factors involved there are unknown unknowns that aren’t being considered thus confidence levels should be reduced.
     
    This is one of those things that is both superficially true and functionally not. Judith Curry might believe that the “unk unks” dominate climate sensitivity or she might be tortured to agree that the evidence points pretty strongly to ~3°C. The wages of contrarianism are such that she’s rewarded for not giving specific answers to specific questions, which I assume explains her reluctance to engage on the alleged Easterbrookian PDO exaggeration of modern warming attribution claim, as well as the brushing aside of the general bad faith behavior/content of some of the technical-skeptic blogs she has previously praised.
     
    If Judith Curry can propose a reasonable model of a current/Holocene/Cenozoic climate sensitivity markedly lower than 1.5°C, she is most welcome to and is aware that this is a significant contribution to the literature. As it stands, she is well aware of where the evidence points, and as mentioned previously in terms of policy additional uncertainty increases the value of mitigation as opposed to inaction, which [inaction] is what most every “lukewarmer” somehow seems to favor.

  198. Steve Bloom says:

    JimR, abstracts necessarily lose nuance.  When K+H talk about little progress having been made, they’re referring to the fat tail.  There’s high confidence in the ~3C central tendency and the low end, and the presence or absence of the fat tail won’t affect that confidence.  K+H talk about a lack of progress in constraining the *range* of sensitivity, whereas you (quite inadvertently I’m sure) referred to constraining sensitivity itself.  That mean something quite different, which is why Hank picked up on it.  Hopefully this is all clear, but if not read the lack of progress section starting on page 739 to see the details.

  199. JimR says:

    Sashka, yes the Knutti and Hegerl paper is a review of climate sensitivity drawing on previous work. What I find interesting is that Bloom’s claims are oddly similar to Judith Curry’s. Bloom claims that climate sensitivity is lower than reality because “it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks”. Dr Curry talks about the known unknowns which are considered in climate sensitivity along with the unknown unknowns which haven’t/can’t currently be considered. The difference is that while Bloom somehow knows that these unknown unknowns will be positive Dr Curry feels that “the range should be increased and the confidence level reduced” due to these unknown unknowns. Not exactly the same, but they are both talking about the things that can’t currently be taken into account in climate sensitivity. The difference is that while Dr Curry realizes that unknown unknowns are… well unknown Steve Bloom somehow knows these unknown unknowns will be positive.

  200. Steve Bloom says:

    Their are reasons why they’re thought to be largely positive, Jim.  The most obvious one is that we know from paleoclimate studies that it takes only a very small forcing to tip the climate into a different state, especially when ice is present.  We’re applying a rather larger forcing than that already.

    Another is that we do know rather a lot about the candidate forcings that could have large future impacts, and the “big three,” permafrost, clathrates and the ice sheets, are well-understood to be more strongly positive than we’d like to think about, although all three are “known unknowns” to the extent that we don’t know enough to predict their response accurately.  In any case, there’s no candidate “known unknown” large negative forcing, and if Judy can think of any significant “unknown unkown” I’m sure her fellow scientists would give her a prize.  I won’t be holding my breath on that one, though.

  201. JimR says:

    thingsbreak (currently 201), yes I’m familiar with “~” and if you will notice I had no objection to that. However as I pointed out “very likely” has a specific meaning in discussing these values and “very likely” applies to the range of sensitivity and not the most likely value. This is probably what you called “exaggeration for effect”, but since this is a science based subject such an exaggeration makes your statement incorrect.
     
    And your aspersions toward Judith Curry aside (but was that really necessary???), I’ve not seen her arguing for a low climate sensitivity. Her point seems to consistently be  “the range should be increased and the confidence level reduced” as she stated above.
     
     

  202. Steve Bloom says:

    And BTW, Jim, this has nothing to do with me.  Judy’s way out of step with her colleagues on this stuff, a fact of which she is well aware. 

  203. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #205:  Jim, bear in mind that you will change the range if you change the central estimate.  They’re a package.

    Also, aspersions?  I would take “wages” to be a figure of speech in that context.

  204. Keith Kloor says:

    Hank (194):

    It was late last night and was already distracted, so I didn’t catch this until now.

    JimR (198) is right. Why must this back and forth always degenerate into such nastiness? There’s no reason to make it so personal.

    This thread has officially gone way off topic. I’m fine with you all trying to outdo one another, but please try to be civil.

  205. willard says:

    Not wanting to disturb the renewed openness of the dialogue, there is still the need to point out that if an unknown is thoroughly unknown, then there is nothing we can say about it.  For an unknown unknown, if that epistemic state makes sense at all, should be truly unknown, no?  Kinda reminds me of freudism, actually.

  206. oneuniverse says:

    Steve Bloom, you need to apologise to Sashka and admit that your explanation of the Charney sensitivity was wrong.  At least, if you want to be credible and polite.
    I haven’t found a copy of Charney’s 1979 paper, but eg. from Hansen et al. 2008 “Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?” :
    “Charney [13] used climate models to estimate fast-feedback doubled CO2 sensitivity of 3 ±1.5°C. Water vapor increase and sea ice decrease in response to global warming were both found
    to be strong positive feedbacks, amplifying the surface temperature response. Climate models in the current IPCC [2] assessment still agree with Charney’s estimate.”

    thingsbreak,
    In response to the request for some citations on PDO and temperature trends, please find the following papers. (I provided these in the ‘Finale’ thread, but you must have missed them).  I haven’t studied these papers, but since you were querying whether any existed :
    “Pacific decadal oscillation hindcasts relevant to near-term climate prediction”
    Mochizuki et al. 2010

    Concluding sentence : “This suppression [of the rising trend in surface air-temperatures] will contribute to a slowing down of the global-mean SAT rise.”
    “Interdecadal climate variability and regime-scale shifts in Pacific North America”
    Gedalof and Smith 2001
    Conclusion: “Our analyses have shown that regime shifts in the North Pacific have occurred 11 times since 1650 and are therefore unlikely to be either artifacts of either SST data [Guilderson and Schrag, 1998] or an effect of beat harmonics in lowfrequency oscillations [Ware, 1995]. The average duration of a single phase is 23 years. Given this understanding, and accepting that the paleo-record is a reliable analogue for current variability, then another regime-scale shift in the North Paci c is almost certainly imminent [Ingraham et al., 1998; Hare et al., 1999].”
    Can anyone answer the question also raised by Judith earlier, paraphrased here :
    The recent 10yr+  lack of significant warming has been explained as a manifestation of “natural variability” ie. a shorter-term natural cooling phenomonon has temporarily masked a longer term trend.
    Since natural variability will exhibit both cooling and warming, the question that naturally follows is : how much of the warming of the last few decades is due to natural variability ?

  207. Keith Kloor says:

    Nobody needs to make apologies on this blog. It drives me crazy when I see other bloggers saying this journalist or this person should apologize for something. It’s silly.

    If somebody believes they’ve erred, then they can say “I was wrong” and leave it at that.

    So far, in these debates, the only person I know of who has the humility to admit when he’s wrong or has mispoken is Michael Tobis. But even Michael can’t seem to bring himself to acknowledge John Fleck’s points.

  208. oneuniverse says:

    Keith, ok, “need” was too strong – I apologise.
    An apology would be polite (as per MT), and an admission of the mistake would help Bloom’s credibility.

  209. Sashka:
    “1.2. The way I understand the Knutti&Hegerl paper (sorry ““ not much time to dig) is that they apply a simplified model to study sensitivity. I don’t believe such an approach is valid as long as the model itself is not validated. But I’ll to take a second look.”
    Alas, your summary of the content of the paper is incorrect. Did you really take a first look?
     

  210. Tim Lambert says:

    Except that Bloom is correct about Charney sensitivity — it doesn’t include slow feedbacks like melting ice sheets.

  211. Tim Lambert says:

    Continuing to work my way through the Heartland Conference: Heartland’s own James M Taylor claimed that the globe was cooling because snow is increasing when the data source he cited shows that snow  is in fact decreasing.

  212. thingsbreak says:

    “oneuniverse”
     
    I’m not particularly interested in what other people can dig up to post facto fit Judith Curry’s assetions, I’m interested in what prompted then in the first place. It’s a pretty significant difference, as I’m sure you can understand.
     
    What’s fascinating to me is the way that some (most?) of her claims tend to radically evolve or evaporate when they’re made about things that others can and do actually sink their teeth into, e.g. her bizarre comments about “attacks” on the Wegman report, her momentary boosterism of Watts’ hub of conspiracy rubbish and defamation, etc.
     
    It would be wonderful if someone like kkloor did this, but he seems to be more interested in maintaining a congenial relationship than actually challenging her dubious assertions. Understandable of course, but unfortunate for anyone seeking illumination rather than entertainment/reinforcement nonetheless.

  213. thingsbreak says:

    can dig up to post facto fit Judith Curry’s assetions, I’m interested in what prompted then
    assertions, prompted them
     
    I apologize to all for my hasty, sloppy typing.

  214. The distinction between the Charney sensitivity and other sensitivities is NOT the same as the difference between known unknowns and unknown unknowns.
    Longer term sensitivities are not “by definition” higher than the Charney sensitivity, so that’s a technical error on Steve’s part. But it’s not really a substantive error in this sense: there is plenty of evidence that they are in fact higher.
    Unknown unknowns can cut both ways. Anything that can cut both ways is an argument for stringent policy, because costs rise faster than temperature changes.
     

  215. Since we are already warming and we have strong reasons to expect to be warming too much,  the only argument for continued laissez faire greenhouse gas policy is strong new evidence that the warming is overestimated.
     
    Arguments for large uncertainty are definitely of scientific interest, but do not weigh against vigorous policy. Rather, quite the contrary.
     
    Interestingly, there is a large overlap between those arguing for uncertainty and those arguing for laissez faire greenhouse gas policy. That position is fundamentally incoherent.
     
    Lindzen and Spencer do not fall into this trap – they advocate for a low sensitivity with high confidence, a confidence that does not seem justified but at least is consistent with their policy positions. Broecker on the otehr hand argues for a very high uncertainty and very vigorous policy response. So climate scientists align coherently.
     
    But people from outside the field often take the position that “this science is unsound, so how can we take action?” This nonsensical position is common among the people sidetracked by the millenial data sideshow. It is seen from several participants  in this thread.
     
    Many of the people taking an interest in what they think of as climate science do so not out of intellectual curiosity but out of resistance to the policy conclusions.
     
    Judith is sympathetic to the claim that the IPCC tends to overconfidence. IPCC ARs are not scientific documents in the ordinary sense. They are an interface between science and policy. As such the emphasis has to be on the uncertainties from a policy perspective. Should this make a difference? I would say yes. IPCC can’t say everything without just shipping every journal published in the last six years. They have to choose. Such choices inevitably can be criticized, and strictly speaking have an infinitesimal probability of being exactly optimal.
     
    This isn’t to say that such choices shouldn’t be criticized. It is to say that the criticism applies in a very different context than normally applies to science. The ethic is much more complicated and the outcomes are much more consequential.
     
    Many of the critics of IPCC are well-intentioned, but they are applying inappropriate criteria to IPCC.
     
    At this point, nobody knows how to handle the boundary between science and democracy. We’re all stumbling in the dark; the correct principles have not really emerged, and yet, bad advice delivered in tones of great authority abounds. So much as I’d love to give Judith some advice, I don’t really know exactly what it is.
     
    (Of course, as an also-ran appealing to a successful researcher, in the context of academia this is impertinence. But no matter, this really is a different game.)
     
    I will limit myself to a plea to tread carefully. To my eye you are falling into some of the same errors the smarter and more serious skeptics are making. With all due respect, please remember that this isn’t about pure science in the end, but about applying science to collective survival.
     

  216. oneuniverse says:

    thingsbreak, you asked for citations concerning the PDO and its effect on recent temperature, and I provided some. How do you translate that into “dig[ging] up to post facto fit Judith Curry’s assertions”  ?
    Tim Lambert, good point – he didn’t say that it didn’t include any feedbacks – my mistake from a too-quick reading. However, his assertion that the Charney sensitivity “by definition” gives a lower estimate is incorrect, as far as I’m aware – we don’t have nearly enough data, or of sufficient accuracy, to be able to conclude that the missing feedbacks will be positive, and that these feedbacks were caused by increased CO2.
    By the way, McIntyre and McKitrick’s published work on the MBH ‘hockey stick’ remains unrefuted. It’s ok to criticize the Wegman report for its poor attribution of the background material, but what seems to be argued by the critics is that this somehow invalidates the central statistical  analysis in the report of MBH98/99’s work). This doesn’t logically follow, and as it happens no-one has refuted the analysis, or the McIntyre and McKitrick papers themselves.

  217. thingsbreak says:

    @220:
    I was asking Judith Curry for a citation for a claim that she made and has subsequently chosen not to back up for at least 3 threads and several weeks on this blog. I am not interested in what you can dig up that fits her assertion. I’m interested to hear what she herself believes justifies her claims. Call me crazy, but I don’t think this a particularly difficult distinction to grasp, nor is it an unreasonable request given that she believes that the attribution of anthropogenic warming has been overstated in light of this alleged issue.

  218. oneuniverse says:

    Michael Tobis: “IPCC ARs are not scientific documents in the ordinary sense. They are an interface between science and policy.
    .
    Not so – they’re meant to be scientific review documents, even if the peer-review process is non-standard. The IPCC’s statement of principles says (para 2, quoted fully below) that it’s to provide a comprehensive and objective scientific assessment. They’re not meant to be the interface between science and policy, rather the scientific basis upon which governments base their policy decisions.
    .
    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.

  219. oneuniverse says:

    thingsbreak, perhaps the citations which I provided are not the ones that Judith Curry had in mind, even though their results support her statement. You’ll have to take it up with her to make sure.

  220. Steve Bloom says:

    I wrote above:  “… by definition gives a lower temp increase than reality since it doesn’t include a number of lurking positive feedbacks.”  I should have said axiomatically rather than by definition since my conclusion depends on knowing something about the feedbacks.

    Re #220:  “we don’t have nearly enough data, or of sufficient accuracy, to be able to conclude that the missing feedbacks will be positive, and that these feedbacks were caused by increased CO2.”

    Except we do know those things, as Michael points out, the paleoclimate evidence being IMHO the strongest part of the case. 

    Your last phrase indicates a certain confusion, since feedbacks don’t especially care what caused the warming that drives them.  In the case of the glaciations, the initiating forcing is orbital cycles and CO2 is one of the amplifying feedbacks.  FYI at a sufficiently high CO2 level (450 ppm or so) the orbital cycles cease to be able to initiate glaciations at all; even with our CO2 levels the glaciations are dwarfed.  Anyway, I would suggest some background reading on all of this; AR4 WGI Chapter 6 and Hansen et al.’s Target CO2 would give a good overview.     

    Re #222:  You need to read more carefully.  That the ARs are written to be policy-relevant doesn’t mean they include policies and are indeed out of the ordinary for scientific documents.

  221. thingsbreak says:

    @223

    You’ll have to take it up with her to make sure.
     
    If only I had thought of that! And others acted more as journalists than stenographers.
     
    their results support her statement
     
    That’s premature to say the least. As I said, not interested in post facto justifications. Interested in genesis (or more accurately origin of meme).

  222. oneuniverse says:

    Steve Bloom: “Except we do know those things, as Michael points out, the paleoclimate evidence being IMHO the strongest part of the case. ”
    What proxy data do we have for changes in surface albedo caused by biological and geological processes, and for changes in albedo caused by cloud variations?
    Steve Bloom: “Your last phrase indicates a certain confusion, since feedbacks don’t especially care what caused the warming that drives them. ”
    We care, though – how much of the changes in feedback are due to CO2 changes?

  223. Steve Bloom says:

    Now you’re just flinging ink, oneuniverse.  Google “Gish Gallop.”

    BTW, I looked over those PDO papers.  The earlier one isn’t relevant to this discussion, and the second one disproves you since its projection for the next decade shows warming proceeding apace even with the PDO taken into account.     

  224. oneuniverse says:

    Steve, don’t be ridiculous – it’s impossible to ‘disprove’ me on this , because all I did was present the citations in response to a request made by “thingsbreak” in this thread and an earlier one – I didn’t make a statement one way or another about the PDO. I said here that I hadn’t studied the papers, and I said so in the earlier thread as well.
    You didn’t answer the question : What proxy data do we have for changes in surface albedo caused by biological and geological processes, and for changes in albedo caused by cloud variations?

  225. Hank Roberts says:

    > willard Says:  May 22nd, 2010 at 9:33 am … if an unknown is
    > thoroughly unknown, then there is nothing we can say about it.
    Not so; for example, we can say this:
    If one mysterious unknown forcing is actually causing the observed warming, there also has to be another mysterious unknown forcing subtracting the known warming effect explained by the change in CO2.
    The “unknown unknowns” is the same as the “god is in the gaps” explanation that eventually failed the people contending against Darwin.  They used exactly that kind of reasoning, saying the unknown unknown had to be doing its magic in the areas where there was not yet any fossil evidence.
    Over time, science slowly reduced the gaps and each time, the new information was consistent with evolution; eventually the gaps start to disappear.

  226. Steve Bloom says:

    Your thesis was that the papers supported Judy’s point.  They don’t.

    As for your ink, what the hell:

    We have a lot of proxy data on past changes in surface albedo.  I commend you to the literature.

    Re cloud albedo proxy data, I don’t know of any, nor I am aware of any reasonable hypothesis that cloud albedo would vary on climatic timescales in unknown ways.  If you can think of something, please let Dick Lindzen know as he’s getting rather desperate.

  227. willard says:

    Hank,
    > If one mysterious unknown forcing is actually causing the observed warming, there also has to be another mysterious unknown forcing subtracting the known warming effect explained by the change in CO2.
    The first forcing is unknown; the second forcing is also unknown; I fail to see where you have an unknown unknown.
    We suspect that something undefined going on: that we know.  If we know that there must be something there, we know at least that.  Something is known there.  Knowledge is something we know, not something we don’t.
    So what is called the “unknown unknown” is actually a known (unknown) unknown.  God knows what you can do with unknown unknown unknowns.
    A known unknown unknown is not very different from a known unknown, unless you come up with a very intriguing epistemic logic.  The distinction is interesting if you’re a Secretary of defense indulging in spelling out a Johari window.
    Strictly speaking, the only thing you can say about unknown unknown is that we don’t know nothing about that.  And even that, we know.
    If you prefer, please refer to this:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemic-paradoxes/
    For a more opiniated opinion:
    http://blog.mindcycle.org/files/papers/unknown_2.pdf
     

  228. Hank Roberts says:

    > Wegman … no one has refuted
    Use Google Scholar and click on the citing papers; you’re trying to keep fighting over ancient history. Science doesn’t rely on a great single founding paper on which all else relies that can be knocked over.  Science works at the edges where the new papers are being written. Occasionally you find major summaries that bring you up to the recent work, e.g. http://www.epa.gov/oppeoee1/climatechange/endange
    see Response (2-66) there to the commenter on Wegman.
    > epistemic
    A recent blog favorite, but unconvincing as a reason to do nothing
    http://www.google.com/search?q=epistemic+“global+warming”
     

  229. Girma says:

    (please delete my previous post)

    Easterbrook is correct.
    Projection of global mean temperature by the IPCC is incorrect as shown in the following chart:
     
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/orssengo1.jpg
     
    Note that the observed temperatures are LESS than projections if CO2 emission had been held constant at the 2000 level.
     
    Projection of global mean temperature by Hansen et al 1998 is also incorrect as shown in the following chart:
     
    http://climateaudit.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/hansen20.gif
     
    Note that the observed temperatures are LESS than projections if CO2 emission had been held constant at the 2000 level.
     
    The pattern of global mean temperature is cyclic as shown in the following chart:
     
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/orssengo3.png
     
    As a result, the effect of CO2 on global mean temperature is nil, zilch, naught.
               
    As shown in the above chart, the global mean temperature has started its cooling phase until 2030.
     
    As a result, Easterbrook is correct.
     

  230. oneuniverse says:

    Steve Bloom: “Your thesis was that the papers supported Judy’s point.  They don’t.”
    .
    As I said, I haven’t studied the papers, but their conclusions support the statement that the current state of the PDO is imposing a cooling trend:

    Gedalof and Smith 2001: “Given this understanding, and accepting that the paleo-record is a reliable analogue for current variability, then another regime-scale shift in the North Paci c is almost certainly imminent [Ingraham et al., 1998; Hare et al., 1999].”

    .
    Mochizuki et al. 2010: “”This suppression [of the rising trend in surface air-temperatures] will contribute to a slowing down of the global-mean SAT rise.”
    .
    Steve Bloom: “We have a lot of proxy data on past changes in surface albedo.  I commend you to the literature.”
    .
    Thanks, which papers? My preliminary search hasn’t found anything. What are the physical proxies?
    .
    Steve Bloom: “Re cloud albedo proxy data, I don’t know of any, nor I am aware of any reasonable hypothesis that cloud albedo would vary on climatic timescales in unknown ways.”
    .
    We can’t model cloud variations in the present (“in known ways”, to use your phrasing), and our understanding of cloud mechanics is poor.  Yet you’re trying to argue that we know what the cloud albedo was in past.

  231. oneuniverse says:

    Hank Roberts: “Use Google Scholar and click on the citing papers; you’re trying to keep fighting over ancient history.”
    .
    Hank, counting citations is not the scientifically-accepted way way of determining the validity of a paper.
    .
    By the way, using your citation-counting technique :
    “Hockey sticks, principal components, and spurious significance”, McIntyre & McKitrick 2005 – 105 citations
    .
    “Robustness of the Mann, Bradley, Hughes reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures: Examination of criticisms based on the nature and processing of proxy climate evidence”
    Wahl and Amman 2007 – 34 citations
    Does this mean that the MM 2005 is better than WA 2007? It doesn’t follow. So please don’t use this argument.

  232. Judith Curry says:


    At the House Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming hearing last week on Climate Science in the Political Arena, the testimony of William Happer provided an interesting point:
     
    “We need to establish a Team B of competent scientists, charged with questioning the party line. The DoD and the CIA do this, there was a devil’s advocate (promoter fidei) for sainthood, why not the same for climate change?”
     
    Well arguably the closest thing we have to a “Team B” is the Heartland Climate Conference on Climate Change, which was held last week in Chicago. The conference received almost no coverage by the MSM.
     
    Here is my take on some things worth pondering and worth further discussion from the Heartland Climate Conference, of relevance to the physical climate system:
     
    Interpreting the surface historical temperature record.
     
    Pat Michaels: slides 30-32, changes in the CRUT temp anomalies with time, these are unexplained.
     
    Craig Loehle: historical surface temperature records. Makes the same point as Pat Michaels about strange changes in subsequent versions of CRUT temperature analysis. Makes PDO type arguments.
     
    Roy Spencer: inadequacy in urban heat island analysis.
     
    Joseph D’Aleo: describes a number of global data base issues. The impact of these issues (individually and collectively) on the global temperature data record is unknown.
     
    Christopher Monckton: see slides 12-14 re trends in the historical temperature record. Hard to disagree with his analysis that the “accelerating trend of global temperature increase” in IPCC (2007) is based upon faulty statistical analysis.
     
    Chip Knappenberger: Modeled vs observed temperature trends over the last decade. Good study with appropriate analysis methods as far as I can tell.
     
    Ross McKittrick: tropospheric temperature trends. Discrepancies between models and observations. This issue is not going away, it is gaining more traction. Santer (2008) statistical methods are criticized.
     
    McIntyre: the “decline”. Yes I’ve read DeepClimate’s analysis, but it does not detract from McIntyre’s analysis that this is not good scientific practice.
     
    Note: David Douglass made a presentation, but it is not available
     
     
    Feedback issues:
     
    Lindzen: usual stuff, but he takes on a new issue, Arctic sea ice. He commits a howler by claiming that summertime loss of arctic sea ice cannot be related to warming since the summertime ice surface temperature has remained constant for decades (he forgot about the latent heat of melting).
     
    Roy Spencer: cloud feedback issues, mentions a new paper coming out in JGR.
     
    George Kukla: some issues related to long time scale feedback processes. global cooling in early interglacials, and global warming in early glacials.
     
    Bill Kinninmonth: coupling of water vapor and ocean surface latent heat feedbacks. Aspects of his actual analysis are not correct, but he raises an important issue in terms of likely climate model deficiency in this regard.
     
    Arctic sea ice:
     
    Fred Goldberg: historical ice observations in the Arctic. Describes low amount of arctic sea ice in the 1920’s. Projects future arctic sea ice based on natural variability.
     
    ——-beyond this point I have no particular expertise, but think these presentations may be of interest, and I personally would be interested in blogospheric discussions on these papers.
     
    Solar variability:
     
    Abdussamatov: An interesting new twist, associated with cyclical variations in the radius of the sun. Predicts beginning of a new little ice age in 2014, with temperatures in 2100 about 1.2 degrees cooler than current owing to solar forcing. His theories are linked to recent changes observed other planets. The only debunk I’ve seen was unconvincing (by chuck long) about observations of global dimming/brightening.
     
    Victor Herrara: solar cycles. Seems to be onto the same thing as Abussamatov, 120/240 year cycles.
     
     
    Carbon issues:
     
    Craig Idso: ocean acidification. I’m not an expert in this area, but these arguments should be examined, particularly the Tans (2009) paper. A quick google blogs search did not identify a debunk of this paper.
     
    Tom Segalstad: CO2, challenges measurements and attribution to fossil fuels. Addresses the “mysterious missing carbon sink.” Haven’t been able to find an online debunk.
     
    Sea level rise:
     
    Nils Axel Morner: local sea level rise. Discusses the complexity of issues that go into determining local sea level rise. Claims no sea level rise in the Maldives, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Bangladesh, Qatar, Venice, NW Europe. Questions calibration of satellite altimeters. I don’t know much about this topic, would be interested in further discussions of this.
     
    Bob Carter: another paper stressing the importance of focusing on local sea level rise at coasts rather than global average values
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  233. oneuniverse says:

    Hank, sorry if I’ve misunderstood what you were saying – you’d previously asked me to count citations, and I assumed you were going down the same path again. So .. “click on the citing papers” .. and then what? Will that lead me to a paper showing that their analyis is wrong?

  234. oneuniverse says:

    Thank you for your informative take on the conference, Dr. Curry
    Happer’s reply to the select committee’s second question is interesting too:
    Question 1: To what extent does CO2 lead to global warming?
    Answer: Doubling CO2 will probably lead to less than 2C surface warming.

    “[..] With each passing year, experimental observations further undermine the claim of a large positive feedback from water. In fact, observations suggest that the feedback is close to zero and may even be negative. That is, water vapor and clouds may actually diminish the relatively small direct warming expected from CO2, not amplify it. The evidence here comes from satellite measurements of infrared radiation escaping from the earth into outer space, from measurements of sunlight reflected from clouds and from measurements of the temperature the earth’s surface or of the troposphere [..]”

  235. sturat says:

    Dr. Curry, I can’t believe you actually believe this:
    “We need to establish a Team B of competent scientists, charged with questioning the party line.”
    While we’re at it here’s a few other “B” teams that need t be established:
    Vaccines cause autism
    Smoking is good for you
    Oil companies can set their own safety procedures
    The earth looks flat to me
    The earth is only 6,000 years old
    Still looking for your take on the WUWT post concerning the surface temperature of Venus. Sounds like a good start on a B team to me.

  236. Hank Roberts says:

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20100520/0153549505.shtml

    Turns Out People Really Like It When The Press Fact Checks, Rather Than Just Reporting What Everyone Said
    from the duh dept
    This really shouldn’t surprise anyone, but hopefully this means that more folks in the press will realize a simple point: their job isn’t just to report on what both sides said, but to say directly when someone is lying or being misleading. The AP, which has had some issues in this department in the past, has started aggressively fact checking politicians and now claims that those fact check pieces are the most popular pieces they do [ click the link in original article] . They’re the most clicked and the most linked to stories. This is good news. One of the major frustrations with the press is how they seem to just reprint press releases and talking points, rather than challenging questionable claims. If they start to realize that people really do look to the press to tell them who’s being truthful, perhaps some of these publications wouldn’t be struggling quite so much.”

  237. Hank Roberts says:

    > the Tans (2009) paper
    Scholar search – ocean acidification author:tans – did not match any articles published in 2009.
    This one? http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009BGD…..6.2163A
    Cited by one: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=14829127816159241965

  238. Hank Roberts says:

    > oneuniverse
    I suggested you _read_ the citing papers.  Yes, over time,  more cites indicate that a paper has led other scientists to interesting and publishable results.  You have to read them. Or ask someone — say ask Dr. Curry’s opinion, as she’s here and responding to questions.
    ——
    Who’s this Taylor guy?  Not one of the people whose work Dr. Curry has recommended as worth looking at.  More cites would help, if anyone has them.

  239. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #234:  You mean to say that the cool phase of an oscillation defined by its effect on surface temperatures results in a global trend slightly cooler than would be the case if it were in its warm phase, all else equal?  Shock!  You really are a Galileo.  Actually if you were to read the recent paper you cited you’d see that not only is the bleedin’ obvious true, it’s also trivial.  In any case I think Judy may have been claiming something a bit stronger than that in Easterbrook’s behalf, although she might be well-advised to keep her distance from him given his tendency toward obvious fraud.

    Regarding proxy data, my favorite is the mid-Pliocene.  Google USGS PRISM and that’ll turn up the relevant page.

    Re past cloud albedo, it’s more like we know what it wasn’t.  Whatever was happening with clouds, we still got the Pleistocene glactiaions, we still got the Pliocene and Miocene warm periods, etc., etc.  Now, like Lindzen you can try to argue for a negative cloud feedback, but if there was one it didn’t stop those changes.  Given also that all of the modern evidence is toward a significant positive cloud feedback, you and Dick are wandering down a very dark but very short alley, at the end of which William of Ockham awaits you with his razor-sharp switchblade.    

    Re #238:  Oh, another crackpot physicist!  They’re my favorite.      

  240. Steve Bloom says:

    Here‘s the Tans paper, Hank.  The short answer is that Judy found nothing debunking it for the simple reason that there’s nothing to debunk.  Tans did a comparison of one low and one high(ish) scenario for total CO2 emissions, and Idso happily picked out the low one and presented it as the only scenario.

    It’s disturbing that Judy is willing to promote such work without first taking the few minutes needed to look for this sort of obvious porkie.  It also says something about “Team B” that they’re happy to accept this quality of scholarship from each other, and that there are no consequences for someone who gets caught in the act.

    BTW, this paper is well worth a careful read since it’s a very well-written and not-too-technical exposition of the big-picture relationship between emissions, sensitivity and consequences.  Our friend oneuniverse will like this in particular from Tans’ conclusion: 

    “If there should be significant net emissions, out of our control, from permafrost carbon or other sources, CO2 will become much higher than in our scenarios.  Because those emissions are not point sources, it may be imperative for society to have developed by that time techniques for extracting CO2 from free air.”

  241. oneuniverse says:

    @242 Hank : “I suggested you _read_ the citing papers.”
    .
    I know, and I asked you why – none of them refute MM05’s or Wegman report’s criticism of MBH98/99. Mann et al. haven’t published a rebuttal.
    .
    As quoted in the first thread, Ian Jolliffe, an authority on PCA, said of MBH hockey stick :
    “I am by no means a climate change denier. My strong impressive is that the evidence rests on much much more than the hockey stick. It therefore seems crazy that the MBH hockey stick has been given such prominence and that a group of influential climate scientists have doggedly defended a piece of dubious statistics.“
    Above comment left by Jollife on Tamino’s blog, who was attempting to defend Mann’s work by misrepresenting  Jolliffe’s.

  242. oneuniverse says:

    @245 Steve Bloom :
    Thanks for the PRISM page, it has no paleo data on surface albedo though. Still waiting, metaphorically.
    .
    We have no cloud albedo for paleo data, yet it’s one of the most significant variables for the terrestrial energy budget. You say: “it’s more like we know what it wasn’t” – cite please for derived values for cloud albedo, and let’s see how good they are.

  243. Steve Bloom says:

    If you can’t find anything on glacial coverage or land cover, email them, although since the actual proxies for those tend to be things like dust and pollen in sediments it seems unlikely you’d be able to make much sense of them.  More constructively, you’ll find discussion of those (and probably urls for the data) in some of the papers, plus you’ll learn something.  Also, the PAGES site is worth checking out on this subject.  And have you even bothered reading AR4 WG1 Chapter 6?

    Re cloud albedo, there’s no plausible hypothesis that clouds behaved meaningfully differently in the past than they do at present.  If they had, we would have to imagine not only a mechanism for a negative cloud feedback (noting again that current evidence all points to a positive one) but an unknown countervailing positive forcing that would have been needed to keep keep the cloud feedback from damping the effect of the known forcings and feedbacks (which BTW are sufficient to explain past climate).  Deal with it.  As far as current cloud albedo values go, you’re perfectly capable of finding those without my help.

  244. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #247:  I agree it’s crazy that it’s been given such prominence, since the most it does is very slightly constrain sensitivity.  Re the statistics, Mike agrees that he wouldn’t do it that way today, speaking of which we should now be discussing his 2009 paper and other recent work.  Why aren’t you? 

    I should mention that one reason the purely statistical attacks on MBH 98 never got any traction with scientists (as in the NRC report) is that it demonstrated superb physical intuition.  The results weren’t perfect, but they were basically correct and represented a major breakthrough.

    Another point to bear in mind is that statistics isn’t mathematics.

  245. Thanks Judith Curry, for specifying some issues brought up at the Heartland gathering worthy of consideration.

    It seems to me that most of these fall in the category ‘interesting indeed, and they have been and are being studied’.

    It means that indeed not everything that is being said at the ICCC shoudl be dismissed out of hand. OTOH, I don’t think the scientific community would miss out on much if they wouldn’t listen to the things said at that meeting, as these issues are being considered anyway (though perhaps not leading to the conclusions that many Heartland-fans would like to see).

    In the end, it’s mostly about how these issues are framed: As *scientifically* interesting and important points, or as landslide changes in the AGW paradigm/falsification. If the latter, it naturally raises suspicion and resistance even from mainstream scientists and their supporters.

    The resistance to the Heartland type arguments, even when some points they make are worth considering, is on the frame in which they put it. Which suggests that they talk politics through science. Indeed, it is the type of argument encountered most often: “Because of X,Y and Z are so uncertain, we don’t know enough to take action”. Allright, X,Y and Z are uncertain, but as Michael Tobis put it so succinctly, that is hardly a reason not to take ation; to the contrary. But in any case, at that point the discussion has already moved away  from science to politics.

    E.g. local sea level rise. I’ve had a discussion with a ‘skeptic’ who claimed there’s no problem, since sea level at Ecuador was rising. Similar style argument as saying it was a cold winter in Holland. It’s both true, and both meaningless for global climate change.

    In short, besides the many obvious falacies and erroneous arguments made, the problem many people have with Heartland type arguments is the spin put on it; not that necessarily everything said is wrong.

  246. […] tendencies of a subset of the climate science community. So I’m not surprised to see her echo this sentiment by William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University, in his recent […]

  247. Eli Rabett says:

    OK, so you don’t appreciate humor.  Other than that what makes you think that people have not been looking to replace burning of dried manure for cooking and heating in S and SE India for a long time (health as well as climate reasons) and FAILING.  Why they fail tells you something about how to succeed but it also means that the costs will NOT be cheap.
    1.  Lots of people depend on gathering the manure and drying it for a living.  The solution has to make them richer
    2.  The stoves have to cost about what they do now.  NOTHING
    3.  What are you going to do with all that manure???
    FWIW the first person to suggest replacing the manure burning was James Hanson.  You know, your typical Climate McCarthy

  248. Keith Kloor says:

    Eli,

    1) You’re on the wrong thread, and 2) I don’t know who you’re referring or 3) what your point is.

  249. Eli Rabett says:

    Judy, you are naive enough not to know about the outcome of <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_B”>Team B exercises</a>, but Happer is not.  In the early 1970,  the intelligence community (mostly the CIA) had come up with an evaluation of the Soviet Unions military capabilities which was not scary enough for the hawks.  They demanded appointment of a “Team B” which was hand picked by the CIA director George Bush to ensure that it came to a scary enough set of conclusions that US defense spending would explode.  The Team B report drove much of the wasteful and fanciful defense spending of the Reagan administration.
    In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union it was discovered that Team B was wrong about everything.  We don’t need another Team B exercise.

  250. Eli Rabett says:

    Wrong thread.

  251. Hank Roberts says:

    Thanks Steve Bloom for finding Tams, and for pointing out the cherrypicking by presenting only half of a good paper to get to a desired conclusion.
    ‘oneuniverse’ claims lack of “paleo data on surface albedo” — which is nonsense.  That would be derived from the paleo data describing individual sites over time — when were they covered by grassland, or deciduous or coniferous forest, or water; and on the paleo information about runoff (snow vs. rain timing, look up “varves” for details) and open water vs. ice (look up the ANDRILL work).
    It’s being done.  This is what science does, detailed work on specific information. Pulling all the detail together is what review authors do, and what the IPCC reports do.
    No, nobody has described a direct proxy record that records surface albedo of the planet over time.  You could wait and hope for some paleo trace on the surface of the Moon that records something correlated with Earthshine, if you really wanted an excuse for more delay. But that would be wrong.

  252. oneuniverse says:

    Eli Rabett: “FWIW the first person to suggest replacing the manure burning was James Hanson. ”
    .
    He wasn’t the first. For example, the Indian government in the 1940’s  commissioned Ram Bux Singh to develop methane gas digesters in order to counter the increased use of raw cow manure for fuel, with its associated health problems. (Large-scale deforestation in India had led to a lack of wood fuel.)
    .
    Steve Bloom, re: surface albedo
    .
    We have some incomplete paleo-data about ice-cover changes, pollen and dust. These variables aren’t enough to fully determine global surface albedo in the present, so why should they be enough to calculate it in the past, where the data is more unreliable and patchy?
    .
    Steve Bloom:: “Re cloud albedo, there’s no plausible hypothesis that clouds behaved meaningfully differently in the past than they do at present.”
    .
    Most physical mechanisms are processes are assumed to be operating much as they were in the past (unformitarianism). However, this doesn’t mean that we know the quantitative variations, or even the nature of the processes (as with cloud physics).

  253. oneuniverse says:

    Correction to first sentence of last paragraph above :
    “Most physical mechanisms and processes ..”

  254. oneuniverse says:

    Sure Hank, we have incomplete regional data for past surface albedo (inferred), and none for the significant cloud cover albedo.
    .
    We can’t model cloud cover properly, not even understanding the physics yet, and we don’t have any paleo-data for it.

  255. Sashka says:

    Keith (200)

    I don’t really have any strong opinions in the realm of science (as opposed to policy matters) except I know very well (as opposed  to have an opinion) the difference between what’s known and what’s (somewhat plausibly) guessed. When you spend your whole career in hard science you necessarily develop the facilities to see the difference. That’s why I have little patience (I do admit to that sin) with loudmouth ignoramuses who would argue the most obvious point ad infinum. The exchange with Bloom was not exchange of opinions. He tried to attack the facts and he got back what he deserved. This is not the first time and probably not the last.

    The opinions are what Tobis expresses in 218-219. His opinion is that “there is plenty of evidence that they are in fact higher.” He goes on to quote Wally Broecker (a top expert and not a skeptic) who thinks that uncertainty is very high. One should infer that since Wally doesn’t see evidence for well constrained sensitivity is most likely because the evidence is not there. You don’t even need to understand the science to get it. Of course, it is best to understand how this science work on your own. Then you can arrive for the same conclusions independently. One needs to understand that this is not a hard science even when compared to other climate related subjects. That’s why there is so much room for interpretation and exaggeration that people like Bloom are trying exploit. So you have Tobis and Bloom on one hand and then you have Curry and Broeker on the other.

    Back to Tobis. Your general point is qualitatively valid. More uncertainty does justify more action. However without quantifying the costs and benefits the conclusion is hollow. It provides no guidance between multiple approaches to mitigation and adaptation. It doesn’t support any tax or cap-and-trade schemes to any extent.

    BTW, in case you are still arguing with Jeff maybe I can provide a helpful comment. The way he sees it (certainly the way I see it) the proper counterpart to Romm is Inhofe or maybe Moncton but not Jeff.

    JimR (203) Exactly. That’s the difference between a scientist and the opposite. One understands the complexities, the other knows the answer.

  256. willard says:

    > That’s why there is so much room for interpretation and exaggeration that people like Bloom are trying [to] exploit.
    That kind of argument can cut many ways.  For example:
    > That’s why there is so much room for interpretation and minimization that people like Sashka are trying to exploit.
    This kind of argument is self-defeating.

  257. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #258/9:  You need evidence for a change.  You don’t have any.  Dick Lindzen, who all said and done is a pretty smart theoretical meteorologist, has been unsuccessfully beating his head against that wall for 20 years, even as the evidence all points in the other direction.  Aside from an overactive imagination and a tendency toward denial, you got nothin’.

    Re #262:  It’s the sort of cloud o’ ink emitted by someone whose arguments have been demolished in detail.  Trying to enlist Wally (“Climate is an ornery beast and we are poking it with a stick”) Broecker’s arguments in support is the cherry on top.

  258. Hank Roberts says:

    > oneuniverse
    Uncertainties are being reduced.  We have an increasingly good idea of the range of uncertainties.  http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/fig/figure-6-10.jpeg
    Low probability extreme possibilities are beginning to be dismissed as relevant to policy.
    We know what CO2 does (do you understand that? there’s no point discussing the details if you don’t get the basic physics figured out a century or more ago).

  259. […] qui, e risorse per farle da sé come suggerisce Judith Curry (a sinistra), ammiratrice del bell’Anthony (Watts, a destra). Se ogni volta che un […]

  260. Hank Roberts says:

    This is, I think, an appropriate challenge to environmental journalists.
    It’s from a longterm oil industry expert, on what is and isn’t taught about capturing oil.

    BP Fails Booming School 101
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6ZN6r5-1QE
    Language NOT SAFE FOR WORK
    The author explicitly challenges journalists to do their homework.

  261. GFW says:

    Eli pointed out what I was going to – that the most famous “Team B”, the one for which the concept was named, was a complete and utter failure, precisely because it was biased towards a certain result – that the Soviet Union was far scarier than the regular old CIA analysis said it was. So naturally, Team B got that result. It turned out that the Soviets were weaker than the standard CIA analysis, let alone the Team B analysis. “In retrospect, the Team B report (which has since been declassified) turns out to have been wrong on nearly every point.”

    A more recent example was the 2003 Iraq prewar intelligence failure (well, success if the point was to distort the intelligence to support the case for war) See http://www.pitt.edu/~gordonm/JPubs/TeamBqjs.pdf – there was a deliberate use of the Team B model, again biased to a particular result.

    So imagine who would staff a climatological Team B. The entire point of the exercise would be to cast doubt on the mainstream science, just as industry did with tobacco, asbestos, and other inconvenient facts.

  262. Eli Rabett says:

    OK, AFAEK, Hansen was the first to suggests dumping the manure ovens for climate reasons.  Seriously tho, good to know that the problem was obvious early.  Sad to know that it was not cracked.

  263. Sloop says:

    An interesting thread. I work in state government on water resources management. I interact a fair amount with federal and other state officials re: climate change mitigation and adaption policies. Executive government, in this country and elsewhere, is focused, nearly exclusively, on issues of AGW adaptation and mitigation. Much of the debate I observe on this and kindred blogs is no longer that relevant to this work. Tobis’s posts here have it about right in terms of how the policy community has  ample evidence to be obliged to move forward on mitigation and adaptation (Especially as the suite of ‘solutions’ are easily justified for other reasons and are not as deleterious economically or socially as some would claim.) This is not to say that transforming global energy production and consumption isn’t a massive set of challenges. But no one could dispute that the pace of technological and scientific evolution has been extraordinary since WWII (if not since the late 19th cent.). Why would one assume that pace is going to slow now? It will continue to be rapid, perhaps even more so.
    From the perspective of government in general, the risks of inaction on CC are huge and must be addressed now as best as possible. The science issues that inspire so much angst among the skeptics, eg Mann et al.’s composite proxies work, or analysis of met station data globally , simply don’t have much play in our current concerns and calculations.
    I don’t agree with Dr. Curry’s theses, but, given her sincerity she provides a useful triangulation point for policy folks seeking to assess the impact of scientific uncertainties on current and future policy, management, planning decisions, including how ideologues of all stripes respond to and manipulate those uncertainties. With all due respect (it’s not easy!) such triangulations could be done better, and are being done better by others. Those others just don’t spend a lot of time playing in the blogosphere. Despite all yr energy and interest, much of the blogosphere discussion on climate science is a little limited with regard to how science/policy interfaces work and continue to evolve. Many of you must realize that those who write incessantly about climate change  on blogs don’t number more than a couple of hundred. Those observing are larger in number and many, I hope, are those who actually will have to make the legislative and executive decisions that over time will determine our collective future. It would good to keep in mind that such readers are pretty skilled and experienced at separating the wheat from the chaff, and in assessing risks to public health, safety, and welfare from a systemic perspective. Fundamentally, the use of science to advance particular political positions is hardly unique to climate policy. It occurs continually in every public policy domain.
    Having said that, here’s my truncated take on the sciences relevant to CC: In my experience, with regard to AGW the policy consequences of our current state of scientific knowledge and data, the risk spectrum, are unusually clear. The debates y’all are engaged in are particularly heated because the outputs of contemporary climate and geosciences are extraordinarily consequential for human civilization, not because the science itself is imbued with unusually significant uncertainties (and certainly not fraud).

  264. Keith Kloor says:

    GFW (267):
    I get the Team B historical reference, as you and Eli characterize it. I certainly wasn’t thinking of it as it was set up to be then. Perhaps the term is not apt, then, if this is how people think of it.
    I was thinking of it as simply an alternative to conventional wisdom. Hence I wasn;t even thinking of it in terms of climate science, but in terms of policy. As in, if a particular policy approach isn’t working, then perhaps another set of experts–not one set up specifically for ideological reasons, as the original Team B was–can offer alternative approach.
    So I pointed to the Hartwell group as kind of Team B, but perhaps me characterizing them as such is incorrect.

  265. In the realm in geoengineering, David Keith has argued that besides a ‘red’ team (strongly critical of any geoeng approaches) we need a ‘blue’ team (who investigate the possibilities without judging it). My paraphrasing, mind you, and this terminology has its obvious problems as well of course.

  266. Well I am dizzy from reading all this.  Hanging around newsrooms for 30 years I can tell you it’s not ALL laziness but just the opposite- lack of time. Lack of time to learn enough about the subject to report on it properly and lack of time to hunt up the proper people to talk too.
    Especially on the TV side of things. (I’m referring to real news organizations not fox news of course)
    I also want Stephen  to know that i’m stealing his quote. I promise attribution of course 😉
    Stephen Says:
    May 19th, 2010 at 1:20 am
    If sports reporting were like the current state of science reporting, half of every post-game summary would be composed of the losing team claiming that the score was actually in their favour, and that the game was rigged because the rules were being kept secret.
     

  267. Larch says:

    Keith Kloor Says:
    May 23rd, 2010 at 11:10 pm
    GFW (267):
    I get the Team B historical reference, as you and Eli characterize it. I certainly wasn’t thinking of it as it was set up to be then. Perhaps the term is not apt, then, if this is how people think of it.
    I was thinking of it as simply an alternative to conventional wisdom. Hence I wasn;t even thinking of it in terms of climate science, but in terms of policy. As in, if a particular policy approach isn’t working, then perhaps another set of experts”“not one set up specifically for ideological reasons, as the original Team B was”“can offer alternative approach.
    So I pointed to the Hartwell group as kind of Team B, but perhaps me characterizing them as such is incorrect.

     
    But science is continually ‘b teaming’ itself.  If someone could come up with a conclusive debunking of AGW, they would go down in history.  To date, the ‘debunking’ has been pitiful.  For example, the best Lindzen could come up with his Iris theory was a paper that came to conclusion he couldn’t prove anything about it.  His next best effort was debunked by Spencer.  Apart from that, Heartland is just so much handwaving or ineptitude.

  268. Girma says:

    Larch on debunking AGW:
     
    The Global mean temperature pattern is cyclic as shown below:
     
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/orssengo3.png
     
    Human emission of CO2 is NOT cyclic.
     
    This debunks AGW!
     

  269. Steve Bloom says:

    Keith, you talk about a particular policy approach (by scientists) not working, but what would that be?  The approach that’s been tried and has arguably failed is expecting policy makers to recognize the problem and move forward using the variety of policy tools that lay thickly upon the ground.  Only very recently have we seen a change in that approach to one of getting specific about policy options.

    As Larch points out science is continually “B-teaming” itself, but even with further tuning or a better set of messengers the Lomborg/Breakthrough/Hartwell approach would have no future.
       

  270. willard says:

    To have a team, we need teammates that act like a team.  That is, players that play for one another, players that aim at the same objective with the same game plan, that participate as one mind, each according with his or her specific role.  Good teams share more than a common cause: they share common values, memories from adversarial events, rituals, functional roles, and many more traits.
    To stay away from tribal traits, there’s nothing better than building team spirit.

  271. Sashka says:

    willard (262)

    You are right that it could cut both ways. But then again it may not. As in this case it doesn’t. You may have noticed that I didn’t really say much other than pointed out to the actual definitions. This is very different from lying about what the definitions mean and axiomatically assuming things that may well prove wrong. Any non-existent symmetry is strictly in the eyes of the beholder. I am writing for people who can actually follow the arguments. Those who judge the blog arguments  based on who is louder are Bloom’s audience.

  272. Hank Roberts says:

    Text, images, and followup on “BP Fails Booming School” (hat tip to Metafilter) — here’s the original if any journalist is looking for it.  It’s the best example I’ve seen lately of why journalists need to talk to field workers, after writing down what they’ve been told by the suits and ties, about climate and environment stories.
    <a href=”http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/5/11/865387/-Fishgrease:-DKos-Booming-School“>It comes from this Kos diary.</a> <a href=”http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/5/14/31041/9176“>(Part II)</a>

  273. willard says:

    Sashka,
    If you accuse someone of exagerating, what prevents that person of replying that you are minimizing, de-emphasizing or outright denying?  That kind of claim can only take place in an editorial mode.  This editorial mode has no constructive bearings on the alleged “axiomatic” points you are trying to convey.
    Do you really think the points you are making are simply axiomatic anyway?
     
     

  274. Sashka says:

    Again, nothing prevents that person from anything simply because the (electronic) paper will bear anything. It is the responsibility of the reader to make a judgment.

    You misunderstood me. I don’t make “axiomatic” points (someone else does, look at 224). I only point to sources, cite the checkable facts and apply logical reasoning. People who are not amenable to those cannot be helped anyway.

    If you feel that this (for lack of better word) discussion was not constructive I could sympathize. What you need to appreciate is that constructive discussion is simply impossible. We are dealing with people who already know the answer (by definition, by axiom, by hook or by crook). Everyone who dares to have doubts is an enemy, a denier, a skeptic. I would be more than happy to have a constructive conversation. Dr. Curry most certainly tries her best. I don’t see any interest on the part of the “advocates”.

  275. willard says:

    Sashka,
     
    Thank you for recalling me that the “axiomatic” was Bloom’s.  That said, I don’t think I misunderstood you.   You’re selling yourself as someone who spent all his career in the hard science, yet you coatrack discussions of lies (#45), idiotic climate bills (#68), tax dollars (#120) , Fuller (#129). criminal acts (#143), and warmers (#178).
     
    With or against Bloom, you’re playing with the game of the hard science, definitional details, and scientific citations, in a thread concerned with journalism.  The only reason I can understand why people keep talking about Charney’s stuff here is to “outdo each other”, as Keith correctly describes.  The only effect this discussion has is to turn this thread in a food fight.
     
    In a food fight, all the participants are at fault, not only the one who started it.

  276. Sashka says:

    I already admitted above that I am not devoid of political views. Since any discussion of climate change is at least as much about politics as about science, political views inevitably mix into discussion. Personally, I don’t need this. I would be happy to talk about the science itself (accept I’d talk with someone else then) but the “advocates” don’t just discuss science. They have a vast and potentially very harmful agenda. They are blogging to push their agenda and I am blogging to prevent them to the best of my ability. If it looks like a food fight to you then maybe it is because you are right or maybe because you don’t pay enough attention to the substance. Either way – no apologies. I’m just doing what I can. I’ll remind you that I didn’t bring up Charney. I only responded to what Bloom said about Charney. Generally, my mode of operation is reactive. If I see BS I’m pushing it back. Otherwise I rarely comment.

  277. willard says:

    Ok, Sashka, I share your reactivity, so I guess I should not judge.  The positive outcome of this exchange is that I could read one comment where I truly could entertain the feeling that we could have a conversation.  Thank you for reminding me what it feels like.
     
     
     

  278. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #282:  Sashka forgets that he picked the sensitivity fight with Michael, not me:

    MT:  the realistic uncertainty is that the sensitivity is 95% likely in the range 1.5 ““ 6 C per CO2 doubling equivalent. Surely you knew this by now.
    Sashka:  No I don’t know this, not in the sense that I know that 2*2=4. I don’t believe that this probablility was scientifically established. Nor do I believe that we have means to calculate the probability distribution. This may not be the right venue to debate this point, though.

    It’s amazing how Sashka could so firmly not know these things given that he didn’t even know what the Charney sensitivity was.  But as he said, he’s interested in a debate, not the scientific facts.

    Now, I’m an amateur studying this stuff, albeit in consider detail, so when I make a mistake I’m quite happy to accept a correction from a somebody with a relevant PhD and experience, e.g Michael.  In 213 and 218,  Michael gave me a slight terminological correction but said I was correct on substance.  Sashka’s response was to keep arguing, providing no specifics and no scientific links to back up his claims, although I must say that the irony of him having fetched the Charney sensitivity definition from Hansen’s Target CO2 was exquisite, since pretty much everything I said above regarding sensitivity was based on the conclusions of that paper.

    Speaking of which, Willard, if you haven’t read Target CO2 yet you really ought to.

  279. willard says:

    Steve Bloom,
    You could just cut to the chase and say that Sashka picked the sensitivity fight with Michael, provide the quote, and tell us why it matters.  Compare:
     
    > Re #282:  Sashka […]  picked the sensitivity fight with Michael, not me:
    > MT:  the realistic uncertainty is that the sensitivity is 95% likely in the range 1.5 ““ 6 C per CO2 doubling equivalent. Surely you knew this by now.

    > Sashka:  No I don’t know this, not in the sense that I know that 2*2=4. I don’t believe that this probablility was scientifically established. Nor do I believe that we have means to calculate the probability distribution. This may not be the right venue to debate this point, though.
     
    ***
     
    Suppose I am your adversary in a rhetorical debate.   I can honestly tell you that I would certainly prefer the comment you said, as it provides all kinds of hooks: “forgets”, “amazing”, “not know”, “he’s interested”, “irony”, “exquisite”, and I am afraid I could even put an et cetera.

  280. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #284:  It’s been a long thread, Willard.  Think of it as a summing up.  But you’re right, with the correct debating techniques dishonest people often can win debates.

  281. Ron Broberg says:

    Curry: Joseph D’Aleo: describes a number of global data base issues. The impact of these issues (individually and collectively) on the global temperature data record is unknown.
    My response here:
    http://rhinohide.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/daleo-at-heartland-an-apple-a-day/
     

  282. Sashka says:

    Bloom (283), (285)

    We are already aware of your infinite capacity in self-embarrassment. Why continue?

    dishonest people often can win debates

    Possibly so, but you won’t be among them.

  283. Steve Bloom says:

    Re #287:

    I said potayto, you said potahto.

    I said Charney sensitivity, you got confused and responded with a stupid snark about the Charney committee’s calculation because you were entirely unfamiliar with the term and didn’t even realize it was what was already under discussion.  

    Better luck next time, babycakes.

    And oh yes, don’t forget to read Target CO2.

  284. […] works in U.S. state government on water-related issues (likely in the West). The comment is part of this thread, which was lively until all the typical jousting and preening by combatants overwhelmed it.  […]

  285. Hank Roberts says:

    Good post linked above by Ron Broberg  (“Response: If it is D’Aleo’s intent to imply that losing “˜colder stations’ necessarily imparts a warming trend, this is a mathematical fallacy. D’Aleo provides no estimates on the change in trend due to the station drop….”
    Can we go back to discussing the material?
    Perhaps the individual responses are being better pursued and collected in the more organized and focused post over there:
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/05/judith-curry-debunding-room-is-open.html

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