Flogging the Climate Dog

At first I dismissed this crude post from Brad Johnson at Think Progress on Thursday as just another unfortunate example of an overexcited climate blogger looking to score some cheap political points. Then, on the same day, I read this from scientist Peter Gleick at the Huffington Post:

Violent tornadoes throughout the southeastern U.S. must be a front-page reminder that no matter how successful climate deniers are in confusing the public or delaying action on climate change in Congress or globally, the science is clear: Our climate is worsening.

Roger Pielke, Jr. deconstructs the Gleick article here.

Then, yesterday, Johnson followed up with another post that includes this:

In an email interview with ThinkProgress, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, one of the world’s top climate scientists, who has been exploring for years how greenhouse pollution influences extreme weather, said he believes that it is “irresponsible not to mention climate change” in the context of these extreme tornadoes.

There are are also quotes from Michael Mann (who says that “climate change is present in every meteorological event”) and Gavin Schmidt, the latter who Johnson describes as concurring with Trenberth and Mann, which I’m not seeing, based on Schmidt’s quote. (Gavin, if you’re reading this, feel free to correct me or clarify.)

Over at Climate Central, Andrew Freedman injects some much needed sanity into the discussion:

Those of us who write about climate change are often accused of attempting to link every unusual weather event to climate change, as if increasing air and ocean temperatures can explain everything from hurricanes to snowstorms. In this case, with the worst tornado outbreak since at least the 1974 “Super Outbreak”, and with the most tornadoes for any April since records began in the early 1950s, it’s important to understand that the scientific evidence indicates that climate change probably played a very small role, if any, in stirring up this violent weather. This might disappoint some advocates who are already using this to highlight the risks of climate change-related extreme weather.

It might, but that won’t stop them from flogging this climate dog.

47 Responses to “Flogging the Climate Dog”

  1. Tom Gray says:

    I have read many comments from climate scientists and blog commenters about the large number of gigatons of carbon dioxide that is being emitted by human activity. Since this is gigatons and gigatons are a large amount this is supposedly  ” a very bad thing”.  I also read from o”skeptics”  that the amount of carbon dioxide emitted is just a tiny tiny percentage of the mass of the atmosphere. So  the emissions raise the concentration of a trace gas by only a trival amount.
    Both of these statements are true and both are totally useless. They are both provide accurate information but spun in a way to make them seem to be saying something that they do not.
     
    A reader will be affected by these statements. However when they later learn that they have been spun, they will learn something that the commenters did not intend. They will learn that they cannot trust any statement that these people make.  They will not beleive or be affected by any statement. So we get into an arms race.  People have stopped being affected by the previous level of statement so their must be new an more strident claims. It must be “wore than we thought” of a fraud and a hoax”. Jut like in an arms race, there is nothing to stop it until it collapses of its own contradictions
     
    Why don;t these people just tell the truth accurately. They don’t have to be all used car salesmen. People might just start to believe and trust them

  2. PDA says:

    Gavin: It is a truism to say that everything has been affected by climate change so far and therefore this latest outbreak must in some sense have been affected, but attribution is hard
     
    Andrew: Climate change is already changing the environment in which severe thunderstorms and their associated tornadoes form, and it’s bound to have some sort of influence on tornado frequency or strength. But as of now, no discernible trend has been detected in the observational data
     
    They are making the exact same point. Why is one “flogging” and one “sanity?”

  3. grypo says:

    The media still thinks it has no reason to make sure it’s reading public is aware of the risks of climate change that the scientists are trying to get across here.  Instead, they are referred to as ‘advocates’.  If the effect of climate change on these tornadoes is small, and the results are this horrific, perhaps getting our heads out of asses and thinking about what the effect will be over the next few oscillation events over the next decade will be like.  Do you people get the point yet?  If not, no big deal.  I’m just an advocate.

  4. Keith Kloor says:

    PDA,

    Go back and read my post again. Does it look to you that I am saying that Gavin Schmidt is flogging this dog?

    Yes, Gavin and Andrew are making the same point about the evidence for attribution, whereas Gleick and Trenberth want to go further than the science offers to make the connection.

  5. grypo says:

    No they are not.  They are saying that climate change, ie more energy in the system, changes the way the system works, and therefore, because it is interconnected, it will change the way in which weather happens everywhere, all the time.  Here is what Trenberth thinks about he link in torndoes and scientific research.

    “Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research:
     
    In Congressional testimony is 2009 I wrote:
     
    The record breaking numbers of tornadoes and deaths in the U.S. in 2008 probably also has a modest global warming component. Tornadoes are most common in the spring and early summer in weather systems moving across the U.S. that bring warm moist low-level air flowing from the Gulf of Mexico into the storms, while drier westerly winds aloft create wind shear that leads to rotation and thus tornadic thunderstorms. Because the Gulf air is warmer and moister than it would otherwise have been 30 or more years ago, the instability of these storms is enhanced. The effect is not measurable owing to the nature of tornado statistics which mainly reflect increasing numbers of people in more places.
     
     
    Not sure what you have got but a few comments.
    1) Statistics on tornadoes are unreliable and exhibit spurious upward trends that are known to correspond to more people being in more places to see them. We have comments on this in the IPCC report. There have been some attempts to adjust them but none are entirely satisfactory.
     
    2) As Howie notes, the large-scale characteristics needed for tornadoes are reasonably known: strong buoyancy (high temps and plenty of moisture) at low levels, and wind shear that creates the vorticity for rotation. These come together in the US east of the Rockies more than any where else: warm moist air out to the Gulf (Southerly wind component), with westerlies aloft and air that is dry and which has come over the Rockies. So the wind shear is present, and so is instability in the atmosphere.
     
    3) The juxtaposition of these 2 things varies a lot from year to year and storm to storm. If I recall correctly it was two winters ago in 2008 when these conditions became optimal and the US had an all time record number of tornadoes and deaths from tornadoes. It was La Nina conditions but the storm track was just right to hook up with the moisture in the Gulf. [Further south and you lose the wind shear; further north and you lose the connection to the moisture]
     
    4) The effects of climate change are to raise the availability of moisture and buoyant air out of the Gulf, as sea surface temperatures rise. This was a factor in the big outbreaks. But the effects on wind shear and storm tracks are less clear.
     
    5) Tornadoes are not resolved in climate models nor are the severe thunderstorms from which they emanate. There have been some studies on possible changes in tornadoes based on model environmental changes, mainly by David Karoly when he was at Oklahoma.
     
    He had a paper with Marsh, and Brooks in ASL 2007 (abstract):
     
    Annual and seasonal cycles of convectively important atmospheric parameters for North America have been computed using the Community Climate System Model version 3 (CCSM3) Global Climate Model using a decade of CCSM3 data. Results for the spatial and temporal distributions of environments conducive to severe convective weather qualitatively agree with observational estimates from NCAR/NCEP global reanalyses, although the model underestimates the frequency of occurrence of severe weather environments. This result demonstrates the possibility for future studies aimed at determining possible changes in the distribution of severe weather environments associated with global climate change.
     
    Hence the biases in climate models in reproducing the basic conditions ripe for tornadoes is not as well reproduced as one would like, and how one “corrects” for those biases (downscales) is subject to problems.
     
    6) Rit Carbone at NCAR (a mesoscale and radar meteorologist expert) has raised the question about whether the environmental conditions might change in ways to greatly reduce the strong summer half year diurnal cycle and associated storms, by dealing with other details not resolved by climate models.”
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/29/killer-tornadoes-horrible-and-still-unknowable/

  6. Matt says:

    Ack. This stuff is boring.
    1. No single weather event can be definitively attributed to climate change (that’s why it’s called weather, not climate)
    2. Climate change may well ‘load the dice’ in terms of severity or frequency of extreme weather events, but quantifying this effect ain’t easy. Think wave height on a rising tide.
    Of course sceptics emphasize (1) and climate activists emphasize (2), but the basic idea’s not so hard to grasp. I don’t think it’s even really in contention in any of the linked posts. Neither do any of these articles discuss any new science- it’s just that a tragic tornado outbreak has re-ignited a tired old debate. So Keith, who’s doing the flogging here?

  7. Keith Kloor says:

    Grypo,

    Look at the quotes that I’m highlighting from Gleick and Trenberth–and the headline on that first Johnson post. That’s what I mean about flogging.

  8. PDA says:

    No. Gleick also makes the exact same point about attribution
    More extreme and violent climate is a direct consequence of human-caused climate change (whether or not we can determine if these particular tornado outbreaks were caused or worsened by climate change).
     
    So everyone in the linked article says that climate change is going to have an impact, and Gleick, Schmidt and Freedman are explicitly quoted as saying the impact is going to be extremely difficult to quantify. The only difference appears to be that one of them made the requisite disdainful remark about “advocates.”
     
    This is a genuine question: if one sincerely believes that climate change will potentially increase the likelihoods of events like the tragedies we saw this week, then what should one do? If one genuinely believes danger is coming, isn’t one then pretty much morally bound to sound an alarm?

  9. Matt B says:

    In my industry there is a leading figure that over the last 5 years has consistently talked about the connection between the number of research papers on the technology and the growth of the industry. The number of papers has been falling, ergo the industry has “topped out” and will start to decline. One problem – all data (and all industry participants) know that the industry is growing quite well and in this case, his “theory” has absolutely no basis in fact.
     
    It makes him look silly, but everyone knows why he’s doing it; he’s a researcher & is looking to scare participants into ponying up more money. Is it working? No. Does everyone know why he’s doing it? Yes. Will he stop? I certainly hope so, because he’s a bright guy, has done a lot of good work for the industry and can contribute more. But, this episode of horse flogging is turning off people who don’t know his past contributions, they only see the silliness.
     
    As an advocate, he’s doing a terrible job.

  10. grypo says:

    Keith, the scientists here are merely saying that all events are changed by the energy –>  heat  –>  moisture in the atmosphere.  Perhaps we should wait until the next few energy exchanges between the ocean and atmosphere to test that obvious theory, then wait for some super genius to come up with a way to find direct attribution for each event.  Meanwhile, people making obvious warnings aren’t the problem.  I think the problem here is that “flogging” and “advocates” talk is playing into the silly balance nonsense that media now plays a little bit differently.  We know that attribution is hard.  We know climate change will change every event in the weather system.  Brad reported both.  One of those two things is a scientific question.  The other is warning that people should be very aware of.
     
    This was also in Freedman’s piece:
    “Another broader factor that may be aiding and abetting the destructive weather is a very warm Gulf of Mexico, where sea surface temperatures have been between 1 and 2.5°C above average for this time of year. This is important because it means there is more moisture flowing northward off the Gulf, and a humid environment is necessary for severe thunderstorms to form.: “

  11. Matt says:

    PDA,
    Good question. Try this analogy for size. You are the chief of your town’s fire department, and you are concerned that faulty wiring in your town’s residential homes may increase the risk of fires. There is big fire in a neighbouring town affecting numerous homes- probably caused by faulty wiring, although perhaps not. Sure, it’s valid to say “if we don’t sort out our residential wiring problems, we could have a fire like that here”, but you’d be on shakier ground to say “faulty wiring in that town caused that fire, and will also cause one in ours”.
    <p>
    Ultimately though, you want to find out more about if, how, and why faulty wiring causes fires in the first place, and develop an evidence base for potential remedial actions. Systematic new studies on faulty wiring and fire attribution would be more useful to you than the immediate publicity value of one off ‘fire events’  (if not more newsworthy).

  12. Tom Gray says:

    re 10 and elsewhere
     
     
    Peilke Junior shows that there is no upward trend in tornadoes. So the effect of AGW on the frequency of tornadoes must be negligible scientifically, The effect of AGW would make no difference is a calculation done to predict tornado frequency. So just what are these people saying? More importantly, of what use would it be to anyone concerned with AGW policy making.  Damage from tornadoes does not appear to be something that would be affected by AGW policy one way or another.
     
    These statements  are just more arm waving arguments like the gigaton argument that i Noted in my comment at 1 These are yet another step in the arms race.

  13. grypo says:

    “Peilke Junior shows that there is no upward trend in tornadoes.”
     
    He shows a chart with tornado deaths.  Many factors besides strength and frequency contribute to that number.  But the chart doesn’t include what happened this week.
     
    “So the effect of AGW on the frequency of tornadoes must be negligible scientifically, The effect of AGW would make no difference is a calculation done to predict tornado frequency”
     
    You must have something to back that up that no one else knows to make such a strong statement.  Can we see it so we don’t have to worry about it anymore?

  14. Paul in Sweden says:

    “Good question. Try this analogy for size. You are the chief of your town’s fire department, and you are concerned that faulty wiring in your town’s residential homes may increase the risk of fires. There is big fire in a neighbouring town affecting numerous homes- probably caused by faulty wiring, although perhaps not. Sure, it’s valid to say “if we don’t sort out our residential wiring problems, we could have a fire like that here”, but you’d be on shakier ground to say “faulty wiring in that town caused that fire, and will also cause one in ours”.

    Clearly the obvious solution would be to place punitive tax on wiring and require home owners to purchase beeswax candles & wood burning stoves.

  15. PDA says:

    Peilke Junior shows that there is no upward trend in tornadoes. So the effect of AGW on the frequency of tornadoes must be negligible scientifically
     
    So, in other words, the science is settled?

  16. kdk33 says:

    More extreme and violent climate is a direct consequence of human-caused climate change (whether or not we can determine if these particular tornado outbreaks were caused or worsened by climate change).

    Climate change is already changing the environment in which severe thunderstorms and their associated tornadoes form, and it’s bound to have some sort of influence on tornado frequency or strength. But as of now, no discernible trend has been detected in the observational data.

    This is religion, not science.  It (CAGE) is true regardless of whether we can actually measure it or not.  It’s true because we BELIEVE it to be true – AGW is hepenning, it’s bad, any bad thing is a result of AGW.  The fact that we can’t actually measure this badness it is… unimportant.

     This is NOT science people.  How can anyone be confused about that.

    My only question: at what point do we shut these people down; stop all government funding.  I am coming to believe that it will take a generation to restore science to *climate* science.

    Sad,

  17. kdk33 says:

    BTW,

    Since CO2 driven climate change acts more on low temperatures (night time, near the poles, etc) than on high temperatures, it reduces delta-T – one of, if not the, main weather drivers.

    Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to think that CO2 driven climate change will REDUCE severe weather events.  And the evidence that this is hapenning is equal to the evidence that weather is getting worse:  no discernable influence.

  18. Tom Fuller says:

    It is ghoulish to hover around the fringes of a disaster and attempt to exploit it in the promotion of a cause. That is what Brad Johnson and Peter Gleick are doing.
     
    It is a cynical power play to continue to try and rewrite the rules of science to make an overly facile interpretation of uncertain data about global warming into the defacto ‘null’ hypothesis, as Trenberth has tried to do for months now.
     
    They are baking the assumption of climate change into CNN reports on the weather. This eliminates the need for further observation or data gathering, apparently. Trenberth has declared the answer and Mann has essentially become his prophet, Phil Jones having gone past his sell-by date, I guess.
     
    They were actually making the same arguments about hurricanes–more energy in a closed system, blah-blah-blah, until the impact of landfalling hurricanes dropped to zero.
     
    The crucial thing to note is that they shut up and moved on to other arguments when hurricanes inconveniently happened out at sea. They revived this argument most cynically, just in time for three hundred or so funerals.
     
    It is blatantly cynical. It is destructive of science. If communications between the camps had not already sunk well below the nadir, this would have torpedoed any chance of productive dialogue (No, that’s not true–some will continue to talk, and I probably will be among them.)
     
    There is absolutely no difference between Trenberth’s attempt to plant a stake in the ground saying ‘The Null Hypothesis rests here!’ and Al Gore saying the debate is over.
     
    Both statements are wrong. Both statements are made strictly for political reasons. One statement has turned on its owner. I truly hope the other one does too.

  19. Tom Gray says:

    re 10
     
    PDA writes
     
    =================
     
    Peilke Junior shows that there is no upward trend in tornadoes. So the effect of AGW on the frequency of tornadoes must be negligible scientifically
     
    So, in other words, the science is settled?
     
    ===================
     
     
     
    What I am concerned about is the effect of AGW and how we as a spiecies and a society will be able to cope. I am interested in science.  Good science is not science “that is settled” but science that is useful. If AGW science gets sidetracked into a political arms race then it will not be useful.
     
    What I see now is that climate science is not useful and that is very bad for all of us.
     
    I really don’t care about the petty  common room squabbles of academic scientists. I care about the possible effects that AGW will ahvfe on all of us. If it looks like extreme events like tornadoes, hurricanes will not be worsened by AGW, then I am happy.  I  regard this  as a very good thing. I don’t care that it affects the political objectives of a bunch of activists and their scientists colleagues.
     
    I just want useful science. Why is this a bad thing? Why can’t these scientists deliver it?

  20. PDA says:

    “CAGE?”
     
    kdk33, I respect your right to hold whatever belief you wish, and further to work to have your beliefs represented in government. I wouldn’t want to live in a country where only one point of view held sway, even if that point of view comported with my own.
     
    I think you tread on dangerous ground with talk of “shut[ting] these people down,” however. Shut who down? On what charge? Who is to sit in judgment of these people, and who is to take the places of those who have been shut down?

  21. grypo says:

    “What I am concerned about is the effect of AGW and how we as a spiecies and a society will be able to cope.”
     
    This is what everyone cares about, and why scientists are not discussing definates, they are discussing risks.  Some warming factors will increase the possibility of larger tornadoes, some will decrease the possibility. How that turns out in the end, they can’t tell us that.  It’s hard.  But it’s a risk we are taking if we arbitrarily decide that it won’t be worse.
     
    “I don’t care that it affects the political objectives of a bunch of activists and their scientists colleagues.”
     
    Do you have knowledge of these particular scientists political objectives?  Or do their warnings conflict with yours?
     
    “I just want useful science. Why is this a bad thing? Why can’t these scientists deliver it?”
     
    Is this a serious question?

  22. Tom Gray says:

    The Ptolomaic model of the solar system used a system of epicycles to describe the motion of the  Sun and the planets. There are rings within rings to accommodate the varied motions of these bodies. This model is like the Fourier series. It one is allowed to use enough epicycles then one can create a model of the solar system in which one can calculate the position of a planet in the sky to any degree of accuracy desired.
     
    So in the sense of prediction and accuracy, the Ptolomaic model is correct. I suppose that one could say that the Ptolomaic core science is correct. Yet it is now deprecated in favor of a new model of Kepler and Newton. These scientific models cannot be differentiate by correctness since they both make the same predictions for the positions of the planets in the sky. Newton’s science is favored because it is more useful
     
    I wish the participants both sides in this debate would realize this. It is not about being correct or fostering a favored political inclination.  The quality of a science is set by the extent to which it is useful.
     
    This brings up the interesting, to me anyway, question : Is climate science, in its current state and with its current participants, useful?  Does it usefully inform our decision makers? If not, why not?

  23. Tom Gray says:

    re 20
     
    =================
    <i>”I just want useful science. Why is this a bad thing? Why can’t these scientists deliver it?”</i>

    Is this a serious question?
    ==========================

    I think that it is one of the most serious questions that the world is facing.

    I do not see science as failing us. I see that scientists  are failing us badly.

  24. Tom Gray says:

    re 22
     
     
     
    One more comment to add.
     
     
     
    I recall being at an IETF meeting. The4 Internet Engineering Task Force is the stnadards body that decribes technology for the Internet. One of its working groups had divided into two warring camps. The meetings consisted of adherents shouting accusations at each other. Hey even had favored positions in the meeting room. One camp took  the right side and the other cap stationed itself of in the middle of the room. Eventually IETF management became fed up and replaced the working group chairs with a handpicked successor. She told the next meeting that if progress did not start being made,  the IETF management would shut the working group down.
     
     
     
    Oftentimes, I would like to do the same thing for this whole climate science fiasco.  I’d just like to get them all together and tell them that this is a serious issue. and if they do not start making  serious progress right quick then this entire effort will be shut down. The threat of shut down worked in this IETF group. They actually produced something that was marginally useful. Is climate science?

  25. PDA says:

    I’d just like to get them all together and tell them that this is a serious issue. and if they do not start making  serious progress right quick then this entire effort will be shut down.
     
    I’m curious what, specifically, you’d like to see “serious progress” in. And I’d like to redirect the question to you that I posed to kdk33: what does “shut down” mean? What do you propose to put in the place of “this entire effort?”

  26. kdk33 says:

    “I think you tread on dangerous ground with talk of “shut[ting] these people down”

    I should have been more clear.  When I say shut down, I am refering to government fuding for climate science – I’m not advocating any restrictions on free speech (sorry if that was not clear).

    The *science* is so confounded with policy perferences and politics that it has ceased to become science. 

    Just read some of the comments on this thread:  we don’t know if it will be bad; why, it might even be good; we can’t really measure any change; but gosh it might possibly be bad, so we need to warn people of the dangers.  This is simple silliness playing on irrational fears of the unknown.  And it’s put out there to further a preferred energy policy.  It has nothing to do with science. 

    The only scientifically meaningful atatement is:  as far as we can tell, CO2 is not affecting extreme weather events.  That’s it.  No more, no less.

    Yet every spat of bad weather brings another round of this nonsense.  To include Gavin, who out one side of his mouth says “attribution is hard” and out the other side of his mouth touts modelling studies showing that climate change might maybe make bad weather somehow more likely.  (‘course, you gotta hand it Gavin, he’s got gumption).

    These non-falsifiable, a posteriori attribution claims are the hallmarks of charlatans and carnival seers and they simply should not be tolerated.

  27. Tom Fuller says:

    A quote from Howard Bluestein lifted from Andy Revkin’s Dot Earth:
    “I think that Jeff Trapp (at Purdue) has done some studies showing how vertical shear and buoyant energy (CAPE) may vary in the future based on climate models, but even if the climate models were correct, we simply don’t know how the change in the environment would affect tornado intensity. I suggested doing such a study a number of years ago, but my colleague Kevin Trenberth questioned the ability of climate models to deal well enough with moisture, so that the estimates of buoyant energy would be seriously questioned.”

  28. grypo says:

    Trenberth says the same thing about tornado models in my comment above, but don’t let that stop your null attacks on him.

  29. Tom Fuller says:

    Russian fires! Katrina! Tornadoes! Pakistani floods! Japanese earthquakes and tsunamis! Run for your lives!
     
    This is exploiting people’s fears. It is not science. It is politics. It is simply the sequel to Himalayan glaciers! The polar bears! The Amazon! African agriculture!
     
    Occasionally I have tried to understand why the Hockey Team behaves as it does. Sometimes I have felt a glimmer of compassion. Not often, I’ll admit.
     
    These two-bit bozos are busy validating skeptics’ worst fears about the forces arrayed against them. When Brad Johnson can fulminate about tornadoes being visited upon the states with Republican leadership, sounding for all the world like a biblical prophet calling forth the plagues, somebody has to call bullshit. It is the cheapest of political scare talk propaganda, and I truly hope this will follow them around for the rest of their time in the public eye.

  30. PDA says:

    When I say shut down, I am refering to government fuding for climate science – I’m not advocating any restrictions on free speech (sorry if that was not clear).
     
    No, that’s what I thought you meant, but explicit clarifications are helpful; thanks.
     
    The *science* is so confounded with policy perferences and politics that it has ceased to become science.
     
    Well, that’s a statement of belief, which is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t lend itself well to quantification. Is all science so confounded, or just some? Is it possible come up with a metric for the level of political confoundage in different scientific endeavors?
     
    I’ve read assertions made over and over again that preconceptions affect the subjects that are studied, that confirmation bias inevitably creeps in. However, it’s hard for me to see how such a thing could ever be proven. And even if it were proven… isn’t the cure for that more science, better science, rather than shutting science down?
     
    Just read some of the comments on this thread:  we don’t know if it will be bad; why, it might even be good; we can’t really measure any change; but gosh it might possibly be bad, so we need to warn people of the dangers.
     
    If the justification for federal funding of science is to be found in the quality of blog comments , we may as well shutter the National Science Foundation right now… and probably the Departments of Energy and of the Interior as well.
     
    How taking such an action would improve public understanding of science is a mystery to me, though.

  31. Tom Fuller says:

    PDA, if it would eliminate the hyperbole from Trenberth, Mann, Schmidt–if it would remove the impetus for garbage from Joe Romm and Brad Johnson–it would indeed improve public understanding of science.
     
    That’s harsh. And there are voices on the skeptic side that I wish would either shut up or moderate the content of what they write, like Monckton and Morano.
     
    But my perception of all the people I name in this comment is that they are riding a horse for all it is worth and don’t really care about the direction in which it is going. The bugles have sounded and the call to glory has been answered.
     
    And science has nothing to do with it.

  32. Tom Gray says:

    re 25
     
     
     
    PDA writes
     
     
     
    <i>I’m curious what, specifically, you’d like to see “serious progress” in. And I’d like to redirect the question to you that I posed to kdk33: what does “shut down” mean? What do you propose to put in the place of “this entire effort?”</i>
     
     
     
    By “shut down” I mean that I would reconstitute the IPCC. I would turn it not a program more like teh Manhattan Project was. It would not be a mere recorder of climate science in creating a survey paper every four years. I would have it actively identify problems and issues and to commission work to resolve them. I would have it in direct contact with policy makers and direct work to the issues which are of most concern for policy makers.
     
    Of course this opens the problem of who would be the new Robert Oppenhiemer. Given the political fiasco that climate science is, this would probably be impossible

  33. kdk33 says:

    “How taking such an action would improve public understanding of science is a mystery to me, though”

    Uhhhm, because government funded scientists are promulgating nonsense.

    It is a common misconception that when government pays people to do something that they actually do that thing (in this case science).  It is more common to learn that they do whatever will get them more money (in this case ramp up the fear – although this strategy is beginning to fail rather spectacularly).

    PDA, you are free to defend or excuse these claims as you see fit.  Just don’t be surprised when the shout to “shut these guys down” grows louder.

  34. willard says:

    >  Just don’t be surprised when the shout to “shut these guys down” grows louder.

    Join the bandwagon!
     

  35. mondo says:

    Looks like the Emperor has no clothes on!!

  36. PDA says:

    @Tom F, I don’t think you’re serious when you talk about putting Judith Curry out of work just to get rid of your Blue Meanies. But then again, Michael Tobis would be on the dole too, so maybe I’m wrong in my assessment.

  37. Tom Fuller says:

    Well, PDA, your assertion that more science equals better science looks equally suspect at this point.
     
    We have been throwing studies at the wall in the name of global warming. I don’t think a lot of them are going to stick. Which I guess is true of science in general, but seems a bit exaggerated in some areas of climate science.
     
    I wonder how many citations Prall, Schneider et al 2010  will get over the next few years?

  38. PDA says:

    it was not an equation, it was a set, an intersection: {more science ∪ better science}

  39. kdk33 says:

    The real question is:  does more government money beget better science. 

    One has to consider how the money is doled out and how that doling influences the science and how the results are tailored to beget more money. 

  40. Tom Fuller says:

    kdk33, it often has in the past. There used to be a sort of informal mechanism which had government funding broad general areas that needed research via academia, then passing the torch to private enterprise when goals were in sight. It worked for a lot of things.
     
    I wonder what happened to that?

  41. PDA says:

    The real question is:  does more government money beget better science.
     
    Well, that is a question. It is not, in my humble opinion, a particularly interesting question: is there someone out there who is suggesting that science is delivered as a product like tons of coal or miles of rail? My point was not that money guarantees good science, just that the absence of money does not guarantee good science.


    One has to consider how the money is doled out and how that doling influences the science and how the results are tailored to beget more money.
     
    One should, even if one literally does not have to, however money is doled out. Removing any public role in the doling, though, doesn’t seem like a promising way to fund any basic research not directly connected to commerce. It’d also close off for good any prospect of increasing openness, as you can’t FOIA a corporation or an NGO.

  42. kdk33 says:

    As a tax payer, if I’m funding scientists and what I’m getting in return does not appear to be science, the question is not only interesting, but necessary.  If I’m spending money and not getting science, I’d much prefer to not spend money and not get science – but that’s just me.

    BTW, I belive I was clear that I was referring to the climate science and not all government funding of all science.  All government funded science suffers from “the funding feecback loop”.  But climate science got entangled in decarbonization and UN panels and global treaties and saving the world and… it just seems to have gone off the rails and out of control. 

    If I were king, I wouldn’t halt all climate funding (I think CO2 may pose risks and that needs to be understood), but I would scale back and scale back a lot. 

    Maybe an interesting discussion would be:  if you had to reduce funding 75% (for whatever reason; capricious monarch for example) who would you continue to fund, who would you cut off, how would you decide?  (I don’t have an answer, just think it’s an interesting question). 

  43. Menth says:

    Anytime one of these wacky attribution stories pops up I remember this little chestnut by sociologist Frank Furedi, he wrote:

    “Throughout history people have sought to blame unusual climatic conditions on demonic forces. The association of witchcraft with weather-making accomplished one thing in particular: it mobilised people’s fears against the evil forces of heretics and non-believers. Scaremongering about witchcraft promoted the idea that its demonic powers could literally dominate nature. Father Friedrich Spee, a Jesuit critic of witch-hunting, noted sarcastically that “˜God and nature no longer do anything; witches, everything’.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTUIHK7gHRE

  44. stereo says:

    <i>

    Keith Kloor Says:
    April 30th, 2011 at 9:34 am
    Grypo,
    Look at the quotes that I’m highlighting from Gleick and Trenberth”“and the headline on that first Johnson post. That’s what I mean about flogging.</i>

    You changed your mind about Gavin, the first quote was pretty well out of context and selected to suit the ‘flogging’ theme of the post.

  45. Tom Fuller says:

    Hey what–did everyone go to the beach? No posting, no comments…
     

  46. Keith Kloor says:

    End of semester–too busy editing feature papers. And reading all the Osama stuff. But look for something later in day…

  47. Sashka says:

    @ Matt (6)

    Climate change may well “˜load the dice’ in terms of severity or frequency of extreme weather events, but quantifying this effect ain’t easy.

    This is correct but until the effect is quantified there is no science done. This is no more than a sound-bite akin to those you can hear on Bloomberg TV (the price of XYZ may well go up).  Hard sciences do not deal with statements containing “may well”. No matter how hard the activist scientists try to overstate their case they will only succeed in damaging their own reputation.

    The most precious currency in the ongoing the debate is trust. Having lost as much of it as they have, I am really surprised that they are trying to lose some more by trying to defend the indefensible.

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