Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system
This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.
Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:
In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).
For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.
Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing – it isn’t.
Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:
One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.
One of the most popular claims concerns the depiction of Muller as some kind of “reformed skeptic”, some pretty soul who’s finally seen the data, and the light alongside. Here’s the UK’s Independent repeating the party line, for example.
Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been an outspoken critic of the science underpinning global warming, said that there is little doubt in his mind the phenomenon of rising land temperatures is real.
back in the early ’80s, I resigned from the Sierra Club over the issue of global warming. At that time, they were opposing nuclear power. What I wrote them in my letter of resignation was that, if you oppose nuclear power, the U.S. will become much more heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and that this is a pollutant to the atmosphere that is very likely to lead to global warming
Muller estimates 2 in 3 odds that humans are causing global warming
Well, I can now report (with no worry of being refuted) that Richard Muller has been a climate skeptic all along. And he has not. At the same time!
The important point, in fact, is the definition of “climate skeptic”.
In a saner world, a “climate skeptic” would simply be any person approaching the field of climate change with a critical eye, and especially about the more outlandish claims of impending catastrophes caused by humans burning “fossil fuels” and doing all the other nasty things humans do. Of course, in a saner world 99.999% of the people would be “climate skeptic” and there would be little or no discussion about “global warming” or “climate change” being the “the world’s greatest challenge“.
From the sane point of view then, Muller, a guy who resigned decades ago about the “global warming” issue and believes humans are quite likely causing it, is no skeptic at all. From Muller’s own “Physics for Future Presidents” (chapter 10, page 18):
Humans have very likely contributed to global warming, and that suggests that
the worst effects are still ahead of us.
Coming back instead to the insane world we live in, definitions change. In particular, in the eyes of AGW True Believers a “climate skeptic” (aka “climate denier”) becomes anybody that questions anything about the IPCC-led climate change orthodoxy. And by that I mean, anything. It doesn’t matter if one surmises the world has been warming (the very definition of “global warming”), and that humans are “very likely” causing that (the very definition of “anthropogenic global warming”): all it takes is an expression of uncertainty or doubt about whatever topic, and immediately the brainless hordes will descend in full fascistic gear.
In fact, much of what you hear every day is exaggerated, often on purpose.
People feel so passionately about climate change, and they are so frightened about
what is coming, that they overstate their case (either pro or anti) in an attempt to
All in all, it looks like nobody knows who Richard Muller actually is. Expect surprises.
Professor Chris Rapley CBE, Director Science Museum
There is evidence to suggest that human activities are driving climatic change. This will be presented, along with the risks that the changes pose to human wellbeing. Professor Rapley will also outline the underlying link to human energy needs, and the nature of the challenge to achieve a “low carbon” future
Starting now – around 50 people, few spring chickens
Science Museum infamous for disaster internet poll on global warming – so I don’t expect that much really
Wrong after 10 seconds – MMU was from 1984 IIRC definitely not 1981
“Astronauts don’t overload their life support system” – apparently that’s tonight’s theme
Earth is a “highly interconnected object” – “spacecraft transporting 7 billions of us “
Climate science and change have dropped out of the news since a year ago
Rapley reports recently media science people told him there’s no story on climate change, nothing to do
Innocence, unwitting consequences, mystery, cliffhanger – that’s the “plot”
Story of climate science fascinating by itself
Quite some caution expressed so far – mentioned possibility data might be found falsified
Primer on physics starting from the Sun – starts good but claims planet generally in radiative balance (???)
Mentions variations during geological times
Complexities explained using a management style diagram
Mentions “tribal instincts” about scientists too
Claims Earth “most complex object in the universe” and has no user’s manual; finite, no spares
“Ecosystem services essential for life” but “increasingly compromised by humans”
Mention estimates of building a similar ecosystem as 40T$ a year
Temporal and spatial scales span enormous ranges
Need to be smart to properly use the scientific resources
“Hubris” to claim we know how the planet works but we have an idea of where it is going (???)
Envisat, Argo floats
Many not aware amount of effort put to study the planet
Understanding the Earth system is a jigsaw puzzle
Unprecedented scientific coordination and cooperation worldwide – huge management and logistical challenge
Example international polar year >200 projects and 60k scientists
Abruptly now into “energy” – 1 barrel of oil = 3500 people pedaling for 1h and much cheaper than them
It’s now in the UK as if we all had 87 slaves each
Oil and coal burning changed the atmosphere
Longest ice core goes back to 800k year. Shows graph of CO2 going up and down
Last two transitions quite abrupt with max around 280ppm of CO2
Mentions temps go up and down 800 years before CO2 does. The guy has read his share of climate questions
Dramatic increase of CO2 concentration in recent times – but he’s spliced the graphs together
Graph bot as dramatic – top is values expected for 2100
Seems convinced values have gone up vertically
Mentions Tyndall of 1859 studying transfer of heat through atmosphere
Says the greenhouse effect is poorly named – very good
Claims Moon temp -15C am not sure about it
Long digression in sea level rise as evidence of warming but no mention of latest data
Says 3.8mm/y is a third of postglacial rise
Claims evidence of AGW is the “pattern of evidence” but individual pieces of evidence not enough on their own
Change in radiation going to space, more downward radiation, winter warmin
G”Clincher” is land-temperature data whilst upper atmosphere is cooling but statistical significance is debatable
There could be problems even if average temps don’t go up but their distribution changes
Example of Sahara with climate shift in 5000 year with two metastable states
Modern world “depends” on climate system of now (???)
We’re already susceptible to natural variations so why poke the system?
Goes into Stern Report – major #FAIL – and Queensland too
Sea ice cover in the Arctic as of yesterday
“Huge consequences already playing out”
Consensus of 2C is “built up among politicians of the world” as maximum desirable increase – associated to 450ppm
Quite clear on political issues around decarbonization
Describes most optimistic future as everybody convinced and.working together – with end value around 630ppm
“Scramble” leads to 1000ppm – now graph describing emission challenge
Says “planet is responding even more strongly” – another #fail as there’s no scientific paper saying that
Claims there’s technology to be used, misunderstands the money that went into “saving the banks” – not good
Climate change “uniquely vexatious issue” – massive changes, people against it as governmental interference.
Delingpole pops up on screen
Goes into denial tirade described in pop-psychology terms
Says debate/advocacy is wrong as tries to find THE answer. Says dialogue is needed. (With people in denial?)
Says scientists should not be advocates or activists – otherwise audience has obligation to challenge back
“Enable people to make up their own minds”
“World is being compromised by our activities”
Q&A peak carbon? Huge amount of accessible coal.
Q&a: overpopulation? Important point but politically challenging.
Quite keen on population control
Q&a more.scientists should.speak out? Politicians not listening
Apparently I have inspired with my “sea wall question” a great answer about risks and uncertainties.
I hope I can write that down tonight. Nature magazine, best thing that happened to seismologists etc etc
Question challenges CO2 consensus. I find these useless in this context.
Questioner saying Milankovitch cycles more important. Good reply, Rapley is no alarmist
Q&a what if one believes in AGW but also in free markets? Are alternatives going cheaper?
“It’s a thriller”
Speaks about overpopulation taboo and hate mail received and even people rewriting history
Looks for optimistic ending …people feeling powerless?
Positive thing is chairman of GE going green and finding positive results
19 Oct Favorite Retweet Reply
Group helps you send message to MPs about climate change. 400k did. is that activism?
Some additional considerations are at Bishop Hill’s blog. I hope I’ll have some time to elaborate, especially on Rapley’s seemingly inconsistent behavior between the BMJ conference on Oct 17, and the IOP speech two days later.
The climatology of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (cAGW) is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the future of the Earth’s climate. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of its computer-based operations… But cAGW has no immediate influence on the great majority of mankind; it interests only a small number even of the thin upper stratum of intellectuals, while all the rest find it beyond them.
…………. Scene 1 – Andy is sitting in his office doing some routine temperature extrapolation, a nervous looking colleague pokes his head round the door…………
“Andy, Big Jim wants ya in da basement right now, some of de udder guys is there sez it won’t wait”
………..Scene 2 – Andy enters the windowless basement room, Big Jim is sitting at the table, the others lounge around, avoiding eye contact but ostentatiously polishing their knuckle dusters….
Big Jim – “Andy, Kev tells me de deniers over de Bish’s patch are all over town puttin it about dat you’ve bin sayin we’re all washed up ‘n our racket is blown. Thats real bad Andy”
Andy – “Don’t listen to him Jim, it’s all crap – you know I’m one of your main men”
Big Jim – “But Kev’s bin over there and seen what you wrote with his own eyes – you said the AR4 racket was ‘beyond redemption and should be deleted’ – dat makes me very unhappy Andy”
Andy – “OK OK, I blew it Jim, I’m real sorry I was drunk and trying to impress this broad….”
Big Jim – “Shut it! This is serious Andy and your gonna have to make amends. I want some blood spilt over at the Bish’s place to even the score”
Andy – “I can’t go over there Jim, it’s up ta here with hardcore deniers – I’d be blown away before I even got in da door”
Big Jim – “ OK, I got anudder plan. There’s always deniers over at Loose Judy’s place – you can get in there and waste them. Judy ‘n me go back a whiles ‘n she owes me a couple of favours – she’ll get you in there and give you some cover , you can take Gav as back up. ”
Andy – “You don’t know what your askin Jim, Loose Judy’s isn’t like it used to be – it’s crawlin with deniers , just sittin drinkin ‘n waitin for trouble to kick off – we could be massacred”
Big Jim – “You’ve offended me Andy and risked the whole racket. Either there’s denier blood on the floor at Loose Judy’s Sunday night – or you take a drive in the Buick into the forest Monday with Gav and Pierre. D’ya understand me”
The Kings Hill Forest Act passed on St Vincent in 1791 was a remarkable piece of legislation. Above all, it was based on a novel climatic theory, that deforestation might cause rainfall decline. The objective of the Act was to “appropriate for the benefit of the neighbourhood the Hill …….and for enclosing the same and preserving the timber and other trees growing thereon in order to attract rain”. The fact that the Act was highly innovative was clearly recognised at the time. Governor James Seton commented that the Act is “of an unusual and extraordinary character”, not least in the powers which the state arrogated to itself to control land and to impose penalties for its misuse. In the language of today the Act thus conceived of two kinds of sustainability, at a local level, in terms of timber supply; and in a much broader climatic sense. It thus enshrined in legislation a highly sophisticated set of principles and was, in short, based on ‘scientific’ theory rather than on social structures or assumptions.
Environment worries? Check. Impending climate catastrophe caused by human greed? Check. Evil deforestation? Check. Strong-armed governmental intervention? Check. And yhe idea was not new. Already in Tobago (1764), Barbados and Dominica (1765) local authorities had been busying themselves in planting trees in order to get more rains:
an ordinance was passed in 1764 designating the mountainous part of Tobago a protected forest, “reserved in wood for rains.”This protected forest still exists within its original boundaries. The legislation that created it marked a critical watershed in the history of environmental concern, since it applied a universal scientific theory about earth-atmosphere processes (since shown to be substantially correct) to a local environment. It was thus the forerunner to all subsequent national and international attempts to control rainfall and climate change. The 1764 Tobago ordinance specifically recognized the need to restrict profits to sustain an environment in the long term. Moreover, the mechanisms used to set up forest reserves under the ordinance justified the alienation (in the face of much local litigation) of large tracts of private plantation land to colonial state control and implied a permanent role for the state, rather than the individual, in conserving forests and the atmosphere. In 1765, identical ordinances were applied to Barbados and Dominica.
In a law of 1769, called the Reglement Economique, and in later laws passed after Poivre had left the island in 1772, an extensive system of forest reservations and riverside reservations was established in Mauritius, on the basis both of climatic arguments to protect the rainfall and to provide a sustainable timber supply
Pierre Poivre, Commissaire-Intendant of Mauritius from 1766, is in fact a key person in this story (that can be traced back to “the pupil of Isaac Newton“):
Pierre Poivre had already been extensively involved in attempts to transfer spice trees from the Dutch East Indies to Mauritius. In the course of trying to develop these and other objectives Poivre set up what was effectively a physiocratic state on the island. However, partly as a result of his experiments in plant transfer Poivre was already very interested in soil conditions and the effects of deforestation on moisture and local climate. He had developed these ideas in Lyons in the context of agricultural society meetings during the 1750s and in a paper written in 1763 made direct reference to what he thought were now well-established connections between deforestation and rainfall change. The provenance of these notions is not clear and further research would be needed to establish the source of Poivre’s very definitive desiccationist convictions. But it seems likely that the main source of inspiration for Poivre’s climate thinking came from the arboricultural handbooks written by his contemporary, Duhamel de Monceau. De Monceau, an anglophile, had in turn been very much influenced by the thinking of Stephen Hales, the pupil of Isaac Newton and the discover of the principle of transpiration. A Newtonian linking of trees and atmosphere was thus essential to early environmentalism.
Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates in the hands of man. He forces one soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruits of another. He mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down, he disfigures everything, he loves deformities, monsters. He wants nothing as nature made it, not even man himself. For him man must be trained like a saddle- horse; he must be shaped according to the fashion, like trees in his garden.
There we go then: climate and geoengineering legislation officially based on science, but on a “science” in turn based on activism takings its inspiration from the science-free humanity- and material-progress-hating thoughts of a distant philosopher (Rousseau).
Nothing new under the sun. Science-based policy, it ain’t.
We’re coming to the conclusion of a time of record-setting September and October high temperatures in several parts of Europe, England included. It’s news, and of course it is. However, keen readers of the local docufiction that passes for British news articles may have noticed something very odd about the latest heatwave.
Over the short term the weather is caused by currents over the land and oceans. This week’s high temperatures were caused by high pressure over central Europe sucking warm wind up from the Mediterranean.
This week’s record temperatures have been caused by an area of high pressure, anchored off the east coast of the UK, dragging in warm, dry winds from the Sahara. Records have already been set for the hottest 29 September – breaking one set in 1895 – and 30 September
This is so much different than with previous heatwaves. In August 2003 the British newsmedia seemingly couldn’t avoid mentioning global warming and climate change whenever possible. This is from the Aug 13, 2003 transcript of a BBC radio broadcast with Dr Chris West, “Director of the UK Climate Impacts Programme”
[…] Temperatures are approaching 30C plus, and the hot spell is expected to last into next week. The heatwave could be a sign that global warming is speeding up, according to Professor John Schellnhuber at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. […] What’s causing the extreme weather? Is global warming accelerating? What are the consequences for the UK? […]
Dr Chris West: […] So I think this is a blip yes maybe but it’s a good warning that this is the sort of thing we can expect more of. […]
Two days earlier there was Nigel Reed, “the Met Office’s chief weather forecaster” again on the BBC:
He said the recent hot weather was “consistent” with global warming, although it was impossible to prove an exact link. Summers this hot or hotter may even become fairly “routine” within 50 or 70 years, he said. “In the years to come, as the earth’s atmosphere does heat up through global warming, we would expect to see these hot weather events happening with greater frequency,” he said.
One heat wave does not prove that the world is getting hotter, but this week’s weather fits a global trend which has seen previous records shattered with increasing regularity. In nine out of the past 12 years, average temperatures worldwide have been higher than at any time since records began in the 19th century and it is very likely that the 1990s were the warmest decade for 1000 years.
It took two at the Independent to write the same claims on Aug 11, 2003:
Although there can be no direct proof that yesterday’s record temperature was the result of climate change, many observers see it as part of a steadily warming pattern affecting the world, not least because of the margin by which the previous UK record was broken – nearly a whole degree centigrade and nearly a degree-and-a-half fahrenheit.
As for this month’s heatwave, physicist Prof John Schellnhuber, research director at the Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, believes it could fit the medium predictions of climate change but might signal warming beyond IPCC estimates – up to 9C. “It could be an extreme expression of moderate global warming, or a standard feature of accelerated global warming.”
Research that backs this view was published recently in the journalScience from Dr Peter Stott at the Hadley Centre, which has investigated if global warming also works at the continental level. This shows that the rising temperatures in Europe must be partly due to man-made pollution, though falls short of blaming all the warming over the UK on human activities.
Out of competition, who else, George Monbiot in The Guardian, as usual (Aug 12, 2003):
Of course, we cannot say that the remarkable temperatures in Europe this week are the result of global warming. What we can say is that they correspond to the predictions made by climate scientists. As the met office reported on Sunday, “all our models have suggested that this type of event will happen more frequently.”
Can we attribute the difference in reporting between 2003/2005 and 2011 to an increased awareness about British journalists that weather is not climate, maybe as a result of spectacular advances in scientific communication thanks to the IPCC? I think not.
As recently as last year, the BBC and the Met Office were not shy of linking warm weather to climate change. Here’s a report dated August 10, 2010 by Katia Moskvitch, a presumably rather local-minded science reporter, about the Moscow heatwave:
Global climate change is partly to blame for the abnormally hot and dry weather in Moscow, cloaked in a haze of smoke from wildfires, say researchers. The UK Met Office has said there are likely to be more extreme high temperatures in the future.
The inference that any day’s weather is related to the slow progress of global warming is one of the things that scientists find most frustrating – although comedian Bill Maher probably expresses that frustration more pithily than most scientists, commenting that not believing in climate change because it’s snowing “is like saying the Sun might not be real because last night it got dark”. […] From an individual weather event, the impact is small; but heatwaves are projected to become more frequent in parts of North America where they already occur as the global average temperature continues to rise […]
In fact, there is a more mundane explanation to Monbiot’s newly-found climate reticence alongside pretty much all of his colleagues’. It’s all due to pleasantness: not on their part, of course, but on the weather’s.
There is simply no way to present the recent heatwave in a negative light.
Not even the BBC was able to manage to do that, in the absence of buckled trainlines or homes without electrical power or square miles of burned forests or queues of distressed elderly at A&E departments. Because (and of course) if Britain were to become hotter than it is now, nobody would complain. You can’t scare people in acting against a change that feels, sounds, looks and is pleasant.
The problem with persuading people in the UK to take climate change seriously is that, as far as we are concerned, it sounds quite attractive. The government’s new climate projections predict drier summers and a possible 5C temperature rise in the south of England by 2080. Isn’t this what we have spent our lives hoping and praying for?
It’s a situation I described a few months later as the “Attach of the Killer Orange Groves” or “The Day of The Palm Triffids”, in a post titled “The National Trust Wants You To Emit Greenhouse Gases“. It goes without saying that the landscape changes expected by the National Trust would not horrify anybody, and might even entice people to pump more CO2 in the atmosphere:
Paradoxically then, and quite ironically, our beloved (?) reporters are forced during a heatwave to admit defeat or ignore “climate change”, losing the chance of driving the climate-is-dangerously-warming message home.
Amongst an infinity of others, this programme is just one more example of a policy of systemic bias within the BBC. It might be tempting to add ‘in relation to so-called environmental reportage’. Upon reflection, of course, that is not true. BBC partiality and prejudice is evident across the entire spectrum of its journalistic output. In fact, the notion that BBC ‘journalists’ should report in such a way as to avoid any suggestion of insinuating personal opinion is now as moribund as the Corporation’s founding father himself or, indeed, as the Corporation’s own notional Editorial Standards.
It is quite evident that news reporting/commentary is no longer a matter of providing dispassionate and, as far as possible, carefully verified, accounts of matters of current concern. Rather, BBC news coverage is effectively little different from any other form of ‘reality television’. ‘Journalists’, laughably so termed, are no longer content to provide principally facts for listeners/viewers to absorb and interpret for themselves. On the contrary, instead they consider it encumbent upon themselves to pontificate. They do so, moreover, often with an arrogant disregard for the basic courtesies of civilised exchange. Indeed, impertinent interruption of interviewees now constitutes a mark of supposed independent thought and a tough interrogatory style. Presentational techniques display a uniformity, which denote the hallmarks of institutional in-house training. With few exceptions – and they, by and large, from an older generation – exaggerated gesticulation and extravagant body language are deployed to convey an aura of authority for output that, in truth, is merely glib. Radio has its own counterpart techniques for achieving the same objectives – frequently repeated interruption being especially favoured. The adoption of an endemic ‘corporate speak’ reinforces the perception of shallowness, not to mention of professional indolence. Of course, we now know that much of this froth amounts to little more than rehashes of press releases issued by leftist pressure groups and vested interests – such as organs of pseudo-environmentalism, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Worldwide Fund for Nature, The National Trust, by way of example.
This programme was no exception. Thus, with excruciating inevitability, we had trotted out for the millionth time the fashionable mot juste of the moment, ‘iconic’, in this case to describe Woodstock. What, pray, is ‘iconic’ about Woodstock? How, might one now go on to ask, did the BBC ever survive the preceding eight or nine decades with only rare and selective recourse to what has now been rendered a facile and hackneyed choice of adjective?
But, though irritating, this type of derivative, copycat reporting is but a symptom of a far deeper and more insidious underlying malaise marked, in particular, by a wilful rejection of objectivity. Repudiation in favour of what? Why, to be sure, in favour of ‘emotional truth’, to borrow the specious and fatuous terminology offered by editors of The Times Comprehensive World Atlas. In short, mere assertion is no longer to be challenged. Demonstrable evidence of a contra-indicative character is to be simply ignored or wilfully misrepresented. Data are to be cynically manipulated within computers programmed to deliver predetermined outcomes. Such outcomes are to be so ordered that any and all observable phenomena in the real world are to be construed as confirmation of a contrived and perverted orthodoxy. Indeed, computer modelling is always to trump actual observation. And it is to this garbage that the BBC lends the weight of its authority – paid for, of course, by the license fee payer. Truth is to be the preserve of a consensus.
So it is with this programme. So-called ‘climate change’ attributable to CO2, human generated in particular, was not to be treated as an unproven assertion but as established fact, to be marshalled to inform programme content with as much certainty as blood circulation informs medical diagnosis. That scientific practitioners in thousands, many of immense achievement and distinction, regard climate change science as a fraudulent contrivance is a fact simply to be ignored, as is the associated chicanery attendant upon it.
Underlying institutional prejudice was carefully re-inforced by repeated references to ‘carbon’, notwithstanding its questionable contextual relevance. The shameless appeal to ‘emotional truth’ was also carefully structured in such a way as to create a putative link between emissions of CO2 (in the programme maker’s eyes, a pollutant) with other wholly unrelated – and, for a change, possibly even genuine instances of pollution as, for example, in China and Hungary. It is noteable that One Planet made (and, one suspects, makes) little of massive pollution created in China, but brought about solely as a consequence of shrill Western pseudo-environmentalist demand of battery operated vehicles. But then, of course, the welfare of third world citizens and their living environments are to be regarded as expendable on the altar of AGW religiosity.
Like most BBC science/eco coverage, this programme was/is meretricious and hypocritical.
But, hasn’t it always been that way since the very beginning of the issue? The combination of perceived moral high ground mixed with the educated liberal mindset, combined with a dash of anonymity, in my opinion, leads AGW proponents to revert to tribal mannerisms in dealing with others whom they perceive as inferior in intellect and creed.
On the plus side, this very behavior, which seems to be omnipresent in AGW proponent circles, (though skeptics have a few bad examples too) is part of the reason why skeptics are winning the war of public opinion.
There is one important bit missing in the above. It’s not just perceived moral high ground mixed with the educated liberal mindset, combined with a dash of anonymity: there is also a strong war-like mentality, since the Cooks and dana1981s and taminos of the world are literally (in their view) protecting the planet against us evil skeptics.
When one believes to be at war, a war for survival no less, then there is little time for niceties and considerations about the feelings of fellow human beings. And just as well, the first casualty of war is truth and that’s why there isn’t much of it alive at Skeptical Science, or RealClimate, or Tamino, etc etc.
Of course, those were and still are jokes. As I said elsewhere, if your website is abbreviated CCCP don’t get upset if Stalin gets a few mentions…
—- As an aside, there is an unnerving possibility. The site name is “Skeptical Science” and is apparently meaningless as not directly related to its content (in Cook’s world, there is no such a thing as skeptical science – imagine a pro-Tibet site named “List of the Chinese Government’s Human Rights Defence Efforts“). It the name has been chosen for sarcastic effect, little or no sarcasm is actually present in the site. So it might as well be that SS was originally devised so that one could have later labelled all skeptics and skeptical scientists as “SS members”, with the underlying Nazi joke in full force… —-
I do not think Rattus or Mark S have dared to open the Wayback Machine link, showing how the SS team didn’t just “update” a blog post.
Having rewritten the “argument”, SS could have removed the old comments; or leave them with a note saying they had become out-of-date; or a different note specifying that the new version of the page addressed the issue highlighted by the commenter, eg AnthonySG1’s.
Instead, the SS team decided to rewrite history (the Ahnenerbe would have been proud). SS opted for tampering with the contribution of commenters such as AnthonySG1 and PaulM (members of us skeptical and therefore inferior race), transforming them into total trolls in a way that that shows not a jot of attempt of respecting fellow human beings.
Why would the SS do that? Total disregard for skeptical visitors of course means SS is completely focused on indoctrinating the believing masses, and especially the scientifically-illiterate journalists visiting the site. Therefore the SS “narrative” has to be linear, clean to the point of being spotless, with not a single error or omission, and not a meaningful point by any skeptic in a million years.
All together now…Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…
Where is the German-language bit from? I thought, let’s conclude the comment along the Himmler joke, perhaps by quoting the SS (Nazi) anthem. And an amazing finding ensued:
Wenn alle untreu werden, so bleiben wir doch treu…
If all become untrue, true we remain..
Couldn’t have been more appropriate. If all of catastrophic AGW will become untrue and rejected by most scientists, SS (Climate) will remain there unchanged, I am sure.
ps please refrain from mentioning Godwin’s Law. The Nazi reference is appropriate…
UPDATED: Sort of a confirmation for the below as Hanlon at the Daily Mail has posted an article where HarperCollins, the publishers of the Times Atlas Greenland fiasco, try to argue that they only depicted white the areas with ice>500m thick.
Strange things are always afoot, in matters of climate.
“But a spokeswoman for Times Atlas defended the 15% figure and the new map. “We are the best there is. We are confident of the data we have used and of the cartography. We use data supplied by the US Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.”
As the story unfolds, I would like to point to something about the new map that is strange indeed: the level of detail. See for example this comparison from Real Science:
There are two possible interpretations for that: either some people at the Times Atlas have decided to reinvent the world adding fantasy features to a previously fully white map; or, much more likely, they have used some other, existing map of Greenland, embellishing to conform to the Times Atlas style.
Look for example at the outline of Eastern sides of Kong Christian IX Land and Kong Christian X Land, the nearest to Iceland (brown on the Times Atlas to the left, green on Wikipedia to the right).
Look now at the Times Atlas’ Greenland map of 1999 (below, to the left) and the fact that their 2011 map (center) is so much alike the Wikipedia Greenland ice-sheet thickness (right) becomes even more evident.
So the following series of events is consistent with the observations:
Times Atlas personnel read or listen from somewhere that the Greenland ice sheet is melting
They open the Wikipedia page on the Greenland ice sheet
As if by magic…that page contains a map of Greenland
Times Atlas personnel convert that map to the Times Atlas high-quality standard
Now where’s the evidence for it? Where is it indeed, as Michael Corleone would have asked.
This doesn’t look like a good way to enhance the reputation of a publication like the Times Atlas. As usual, it’s the stubborness of their response the real problem, perhaps even more than the original error. One is left wondering how many more mistakes have been made (perhaps them too, miraculously similar to maps posted on Wikipedia), mistakes simply too small to immediately notice. And the publishers and editor will never admit one anyway.
As if to underline how its bias on climate change ruins its reporting on the topic, Nature magazine has come up this week with an incredibly good couple of articles about the upcoming L’Aquila trial against the “experts” who (allegedly!!) failed to predict the 2009 quake (or actually, who didn’t communicate risks properly to the population).
In the following, some memorable quotes (and lest we forget, again from Nature: “Researchers failing to make raw data public“, with “The findings come amid a growing push for sharing raw research data — both to facilitate further research and to better prevent fraud or error“).
Prosecutors and the families of victims alike say that the trial has nothing to do with the ability to predict earthquakes, and everything to do with the failure of government-appointed scientists serving on an advisory panel to adequately evaluate, and then communicate, the potential risk to the local population. The charges, detailed in a 224-page document filed by Picuti, allege that members of the National Commission for Forecasting and Predicting Great Risks, who held a special meeting in L’Aquila the week before the earthquake, provided “incomplete, imprecise, and contradictory information” to a public that had been unnerved by months of persistent, low-level tremors. Picuti says that the commission was more interested in pacifying the local population than in giving clear advice about earthquake preparedness.
In other words, the trial is about establishing who is at fault if and when bad decisions are taken because politics trumps science.
Selvaggi, one of the indicted scientists, says that the charges serve as a “dangerous” warning to researchers, who may find themselves in legal trouble because of the way that non-scientists such as public officials or journalists translate their risk analyses for public consumption.
This means that scientists can’t ignore it when their findings are manipulated in the media.
Thomas Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and chair of the International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting (ICEF) […]: “The public expects authoritative, transparently available information […] and we need to say what we know in an explicit way.”
“Authoritative, transparently available information” indeed. Then about a “risk commission” meeting a few days before the L’Aquila earthquake:
the scientific message conveyed at the meeting was anything but reassuring, according to Selvaggi […] But there was minimal discussion of the vulnerability of local buildings, say prosecutors, or of what specific advice should be given to residents about what to do in the event of a major quake. […] Even Boschi now says that “the point of the meeting was to calm the population. We [scientists] didn’t understand that until later on.”
So there’s where (allegedly) public policy took precedence over science.
The suggestion that repeated tremors were favourable because they ‘unload’, or discharge, seismic stress and reduce the probability of a major quake seems to be scientifically incorrect […] “It was repeated almost like a mantra: the more tremors, the less danger.” “That phrase,” in the opinion of one L’Aquila resident, “was deadly for a lot of people here.”
That is where the “high-school physics” models went wrong, so to speak.
“That night, all the old people in L’Aquila, after the first shock, went outside and stayed outside for the rest of the night,” Vittorini says. “Those of us who are used to using the Internet, television, science — we stayed inside.”
In other words, to trust the scientists blinding is not a good move.
As for the statement that seems to have resonated most with the residents of L’Aquila — De Bernardinis’s claim that during seismic swarms, repeated tremors were “favourable” — Dinacci says of his client: “He’s not a seismologist, he’s a hydraulic engineer,” and that he had only relayed what the scientists had told him.
The parallels with Pachauri are striking…
As Vittorini told Picuti after the earthquake, the messages from the commission meeting “may have in some way deprived us of the fear of earthquakes. The science, on this occasion, was dramatically superficial, and it betrayed the culture of prudence and good sense that our parents taught us on the basis of experience and of the wisdom of the previous generations.”
Presumably, if seismology is “dramatically superficial”, climatology is not that far out either from that decision.
The trial is so important, Nature has a column dedicated to it under “Check your legal position before advising others”:
What is to be done? It is always difficult to convey scientific uncertainty without giving the impression that nothing useful is known, but overstating scientific certainties can be more dangerous.
“overstating scientific certainties can be more dangerous”. Indeed. Well, at least there is now two Nature articles making the point.
Is that for real? Check the collection at WUWT. Yes, says the University of Bremen. No, according to AMSR-E. Maybe, according to NSIDC (it’s a tie). No, according to the DMI. No, according to Arctic ROOS. Maybe, according to NOAA (another tie). No, according to Cryosphere Today (anomaly of -1.797, a far cry from the Sep 2007 anomaly of less than -2.5 million sq. km).
Funny thing, they are all right, since each graph doesn’t necessarily measure what the other graphs do
So one can pick-and-choose whatever convenient to report. Confusion reigns, but I guess such a flexible piece of news is vert welcome by journalists the world over. In the meanwhile the absurdity of focusing on a day-by-day Arctic melt account in the context of multi-decadal climate change, gets completely lost.
Anecdotes Do Not Make a Science: The ThisShouldBeWhatSkepticsAreAbout Reply by non-Michael Shermer, non-Arthur Benjamin & non-James Randi
We realize that hour-long “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) demonstrations” do not a scientific experiment make, but there is no question that you warmists present them as if it were a scientifically known fact that “we are experiencing or going to experience Catastrophic AGW” to some degree. In your blog posts and articles, in fact, you state that these “physical phenomenon” is “something that is happening to us all,” thus stating your support of the “fact” of the existence of catastrophical man-made global warming. But scientifically speaking, the “facts” of the matter are that there is no positive evidence whatsoever for the existence of any of the increase in exceptional weather you discuss, when records are compiled in controlled scientific conditions.
Even the pro-AGWers who do serious responsible research on the matter are now admitting that their entire research program, after over fifteen decades of data collection, has produced nothing statistically significant. The few “blips” in the data that appear, quickly disappear when conditions were instead expected to replicate. This is one of the beautiful components of the scientific method—its self-correcting nature. For those who are corrected, however, it may not seem so attractive.
(Of course, Mr. Warmist, if your arguments for the validity of CAGW claims are based upon religious, rather than logical, scientific reasoning, many of these arguments may not apply to your statements. In that case we are arguing about a preferred belief system rather than a provable—or disprovable—claim).
Our position is not meant to be scornful or condescending. We only want to make the point that under controlled measurements over many decades, there has never been a proper and statistically significant finding of catastrophic increase in exceptional weather events. What CAGW people have are anecdotes about hurricanes or Arctic sea ice, and anecdotes do not make a science. Anecdotes are stories related by participants: “I saw a tornado and thought ‘this is what CAGW is about’.” Or: “I spotted some maybe-dead polar bears and made a guess about how many more have died because of CAGW.” And so on.
The simple fact is that thousands and thousands of CAGW stories, as impressive as they may seem, do not make a science. Ten anecdotes are no better than one anecdote, and a hundred anecdotes are no better than ten. Actually, a hundred anecdotes are worse than ten, if you do not also have statistically significant data showing a worrisome change in weather patterns and events somewhere in the world. It is a fact, Mr. Warmist, that NO results shown so far have been adequately obvious and clear-cut. In the case of old data—and the reputation of CAGW rests almost entirely on old, dubious paleoclimate data—those requirements often cannot be applied, obviously. But if your CAGWers are able to NOW produce data, we can show you how standard statistics can be applied. We await, with interest, your response to this suggestion.
Anecdotes are only useful to illustrate a phenomenon that already has been proven scientifically, in this case, statistically. If you do not have this, and as far as we can tell you do not, then all those anecdotes indicate is that there is something else going on that has absolutely nothing to do with CO2 emissions. To repeat the six-word phrase that should be memorized by every CAGWer and skeptic (it is difficult for all of us to understand), and repeated every night before bed:
How many times can the same concepts be regurgitated before people recognize they don’t lead anywhere?
The report says “A delay—of even a decade— in reducing CO2 emissions will lock in large-scale, irreversible change“. Ironically, this same sentence has been heard first more than TWO decades ago.
It then goes on to “Carbon “sinks” are disappearing” but “the proportion of total emissions soaked up by the oceans between 2000 and 2007 _MAY_ have declined by as much as 10 percent.” I am afraid such weaselry with words is very 2008.
“the more CO2 [the seas] absorb, the more acidic they become“: a physical impossibility due to all that salt. Seawater could become less alkaline, but to call that “more acidic” is again a trite, old way of playing with words.
The pages on “impacts” only deal with future stuff that “may“, “is likely“, etc etc happen. That means it “may not”. “Estimates” are so 2008 too.
It gets even more ridiculous when the Permian extinction is linked to a “methane burp” by way of a Baltimore Sun article of 2004. Is that a joke? And the authors proceed to mention two studies that depict adaptation in worse terms than even the Stern Review, thereby forgetting all the research that points in the other direction.
In conclusion the Climate Works report shows exactly why so many people are so unperturbed. The case for mitigation against climate change should be made in a less amateurish, less partisan, and decidedly more scientific way. IF that’s possible, that is.
A comment of mine “disappeared” from Liescience. Surprise, surprise! Here it is then:
Sometimes I do despair..it all looks like a theater where everybody feels they need to play their usual, tired characters…
Noaa _cloud_ researcher; “it is not newsworthy”
Once upon a time we were told only peer-reviewed research was important. Now there is a peer-reviewed paper with a brand new tack on clouds&climate. If that is not newsworthy then what is?
Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at texas a&m university: “he’s taken an incorrect model, he’s tweaked it to match observations, but the conclusions you get from that are not correct”
Talk about having an a priori, unchangeable opinion…
Dessler, the A&M climatologist said that he doubted the research would shift the political debate around global warming.
Do clouds care about what a climatologist has to say about the political debate around global warming? Is this ‘Livescience’ or ‘Livepolitics’?
Gavin Schmidt, a NASA goddard climatologist: “Climate sensitivity is not constrained by the last two decades of imperfect satellite data, but rather the paleoclimate record.”
Lord Oxburgh of Oxburgh Climategate Review fame told the UK parliament that “it probably would have been true” to say that “it was actually impossible to reconstruct temperatures over the last thousand years”
Kevin Trenberth: “I cannot believe it got published,”
Of course he cannot. Trenberth is in the scientific dissent suppression business.
Scientists have shown that as the planet warms water vapor, and thus clouds, will increase, trapping even more heat
Have shown? Talk about prejudice…shouldn’t reporting remain separate from a journalist’s opinion?
The study, published july 26 in the open-access online journal remote sensing, got public attention when a writer for the heartland institute
the paper was mostly unnoticed in the public sphere until the forbes blogger declared it “extremely important.
It’s just two days!! And the paper was mostly unnoticed because Livescience fails at his mission “to satisfy curious readers” and never reports on papers that don’t agree with mainstream climate science.
University of Alabama, Huntsville researcher Roy Spencer, is a climate change skeptic and controversial figure within the climate research community
No climate scientist contacted by Livescience agreed.
Spencer is a climate scientist himself. Was that too difficult to report?
Shub Niggurath has just made the startling (?) discovery that PR people think the problem with AGW not having become a religion for the masses can be solved by…PR people.
Talk about a hammer convinced the whole world is a nail. Or turkeys consensually rejecting the notion of Christmas.
Sarcasm aside, there is a grain of truth even in the most mendacious Desmogblog statement, and so there is here. In fact, “communication” implies a source, a destination, a medium and a message. Failure of any of those components is a failure at communication.
The issue of course is that close-minded PR people will rationalize their problems as some issue related to the medium, and act accordingly, and quite wrongly (they remind me of Father Dougal panicking in “Speed 3” and so resorting to the one thing he knew how to do, celebrating Mass).
In the real world instead, the real communication failure has been at the level of the message. As I wrote in Nov 2008, AGWers have nothing to show:
for all the huffing and all the puffing, there is very little that AGWers can show to support their claims
This doesn’t necessarily mean AGW is nothing and will have no consequences. What it means is that True Believers behave as if they have yet to understand what the issue is about, and keep reverting to type in the face of absolute cluelessness:
they use the tools learned to protect pandas or clean up the Hudson river. And for most intents and purposed, they fail: because, as Revkin has realized, Anthropogenic Global Warming, aka Climate Change, truly is a completely different beast
Expect plenty of claims for the foreseeable future then, about this or that phenomenon as evidence of global warming or climate change. Luckily though, due to the intrinsically inflationary nature of their approach, everything they say will quickly lose in importance.
350.org is thus called because 350 is the cumulative IQ of the members of that organization.
A motion has been tabled last year to change the name to 352.org as lifelong member Mrs Rogers of Bluff, AZ remembered to lock the front door of the house after letting the cat in, thereby single-handedly increasing the IQ of McKibben’s group by two points.
However, the motion’s text has since been misplaced, and unless they get to 355 at least, nobody will have a clue where to find it.
Let’s forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
Averages can only tell you so much, and that’s quite little. As “global warming” is based on worldwide averages, it should be then always looked at judiciously and with a good deal of curiosity to figure out what is happening above and beyond the simple figure that is an average temperature.
Say, one lives in Placeville, a town where it’s -20C in January, +20C in July. Average is zero C (32F).
Imagine now, winters warm by 10C, summers cool by 5C. So it’s -10C in January, +15C in July. Average is 2.5C (36.5F).
Headline news: “Placeville heavily hit by global warming, average temperatures up by 2.5C“. When the real-life news is, it’s much cooler than before: still very cold in January, and now not even warm in July.
This is such a simple concept, I am always amazed how many people don’t get it. But then few grasp the most elemental aspects of statistics. And I wish three people in the world understood what “global warming” might be about.
It is not sinking because storm surges are expected to happen less often
Such expectations are due to climate change.
QED: Venice is not sinking…due to climate change.
Next: why it is legal for the UK Government to collect VAT on fuel duties; how President Obama has started decreasing the Afghanistan war effort by sending in more troops; why banks too big to fail must be encouraged to get even bigger.
No, I am not talking about this Fish. Or that Phish. I am talking about fish of the swimming variety, recently in the news as under multiple lines of attack by (you guessed it right) increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
In the meanwhile, though, there are some indications that, at least for now, great white sharks are into AC/DC. That could be useful news (if under threat of attack, just convince a fellow diver to burst into a watery version of “Back in Black” and you’ll be fine. You, that is, not the fellow diver).
Why stop there, though? We can combine all these pieces of evidence to come up with a realistic scenario (as realistic as anything ever written by the likes of David Suzuki or Paul R. Ehrlich, that is): with human-caused CO2 emissions apparently unstoppable, fish the world over will experience irregular heartbeats, and hearing difficulties causing a decline in musical taste.
For those not in the know, Prof (Ha!) Brown has used lots of words to argue that “Ethics Requires Acknowledging Links Between Tornadoes and Climate Change Despite Scientific Uncertainty“. Basically, even if science says there’s no link (perhaps, just perhaps, there’s a negative link), Prof (Ha! Ha!) Brown argues that the link must be done because in the face of possible future disasters, it’s ethical (??) to lie now to the public.
By overusing the AGW concept, [they] will cheapen it to oblivion. Furthermore if AGW is a moral cause, then it’s demonstrably non-scientific, as science will only take the third place after ethics and politics. So the IPCC becomes even less important, or meaningful.
Go, go, AGW go…one stupid claim at a time, and AGW will soon be gone!!
Beginning in the 1980s, [University of Pennsylvania Professor Philip] Tetlock examined 27,451 forecasts by 284 academics, pundits and other prognosticators. The study was complex, but the conclusion can be summarized simply: the experts bombed. Not only were they worse than statistical models, they could barely eke out a tie with the proverbial dart-throwing chimps. […] The least accurate forecasters, [Tetlock] found, were hedgehogs: “thinkers who ‘know one big thing,’ aggressively extend the explanatory reach of that one big thing into new domains” and “display bristly impatience with those who ‘do not get it,’ ” he wrote. Better experts “look like foxes: thinkers who know many small things,” “are skeptical of grand schemes” and are “diffident about their own forecasting prowess.”
So there we have it…experts of the “big thing” called “climate change”, aggressive (to the point of hiding declines, preventing publication of competing ideas, inserting unsubstantiated critiques in the IPCC report, etc etc) and definitely “impatient” with us little humans wondering aloud about their certitudes (any post at RC, Connolley, Deltoid, Romm, etc etc keeps confirming this point).
Note how none of the above can be defined as “gross negligence” or “conspiracy”, and yet despite all the whitewashing by the Climategate inquiries, there is a scientific consensus, and the best of our scientific knowledge demonstrates, that all that bunch, and pretty much all the bigwigs around the IPCC, they ARE “least accurate forecasters”. QED.
For more discussion about “wrongology”: here and here. Read also here a critique-essay by Tetlock himself, listing a set of criteria suggested by David Freedman, author of Wrong: Why Experts* Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them as signs of claims we should be “especially wary of”
dramatic (“claiming to have invented the psychological equivalent of the telescope qualifies”)
a tad tooclear-cut (“devoid of qualifications about when propositions do and do not hold”)
doubt free (“portraying findings as beyond reasonable doubt and one’s measure as 100 percent pure”)
universal (“implying that one is tapping into powerful unconscious forces that, hitherto unbeknownst to us, drive all human behavior”)
palatable (“likely to appeal to one’s favorite ideological constituencies”)
receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (“widely covered in the mass media and millions have visited the website”)
actionable implications (“claims about what employers now need to do to guarantee true equality of opportunity in workplaces”)
Let me now make a statement that is dramatic, very clear-cut, doubt-free, universal, palatable (to most of my readers), yet likely media-ignored and hardly actionable: the “scientific consensus” on climate-change (rather, the unscientific stuff that constitutes the IPCC–led propaganda bandied about as “scientific consensus”), scores 7 out of 7 on the Freedman scale and therefore should lie at the bottom of anybody’s trust level:
dramatic (having reached the computational power needed to project future climate just as CO2 emissions got to a previously-unknown “dangerous” level)
a tad tooclear-cut (with climate change almost completely due to a “thermostat” called CO2)
doubt free (the IAC spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the absurd IPCC policy of underplaying uncertainties)
universal (everybody will feel the (bad) consequences of climate change, and everybody is guilty of it)
palatable (as it happens, the usual evils of capitalism and freedoms are the underling cause of climate change)
receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (shall I really comment this?)
actionable implications (every ha’penny worth of a politician understands how many things can be pinned upon the bandwagon called “climate change”)
And I find one sentence by Tetlock as especially relevant to the climate debate:
Whatever may be the merits of the underlying science in the peer-reviewed literature, in the public forum, the ratio of pseudoexpertise to genuine expertise is distressingly high.
ps Yes, I might be wrong. On the other hand, I am not asking for billions of dollars for dubious research, have never attempted to restrict anybody’s liberty, don’t use the ‘net to show off my superiority complex, do let almost every comment free on this website, etc etc)
This is why @mims and @grist will forever be the smog instead of the beacon http://bit.ly/g02bVe. #tsunami #climate #agw #japan #quake
…little did I expect of having tapped (for once!) at a currentlyspreadingmeme, namely the abject absurdity and dubious ethics of linking crustal movements to CO2 emissions.
As noted by Shub Niggurath though, the problem is not Grist, or TreeHugger or anybody else. The problem is that the collection of “yellow journalism” about climate change is constantly enriched by blatantly absurd climate change claims going in all directions.
The challenge to the Yulsmans and Kloors of this world is to make good use of the experience with Grist, and have no more qualms at criticizing whatever is written about climate change, when it is completely speculative and especially when it is just or mostly a manipulative attempt at changing public opinion with half-truths and baseless conjectures. Where to start from? Well, Numberwatch is as good a list as any.