Magical #AGW Thinking

A shameless copy-and-paste of a great comment by Willis Eschenbach at Judith Curry’s blog, that ties up nicely with my “AGW is logically impossible” page. Who knows how many superb considerations are missed in the vast oceans of the internet simply because they are “just” comments?

it’s great that you have declared yourself to be against “magical thinking”, Judith. My suggestion is that you apply that excellent mantra to:

1. Moonbat. Anyone who plans to save the world through economic collapse is heavily into magic. Or mentally disturbed, but I’m going with the former.

2. CO2. The change in forcing from a doubling of CO2 is less than a 1% change in total forcing. The idea that a 1% change in a complex natural system will throw the system totally out of balance is “magical thinking” at its finest, and one that I would love to see you (or anyone) defend with examples. This one involves what I call “kid magic”. This is the kind of magic where we imagine ourselves to be much more powerful than we are, we are the “sorcerer’s apprentice” and we’re able to control things that we can barely understand.

3. Renewables. It would take a very heavy dose of magic for them to take over any amount of the requirements for just industrial power, much less total power requirements.

4. Climate mathematics. You see, you just substitute what you want, and the answer magically comes out the way you want it. (There is a subsidiary magic here, which causes problems in the mathematicians’ spines when it comes to objecting to this kind of nonsense … but I digress).

5. Climate models. Somehow, despite being unable to model the climate at annual or multi-decadal timescales, they magically can predict the climate at hundred-year scales … I see these as the modern version of “sympathetic magic”, where the power lies in the resemblance or similarity of the object to reality. If the model results look enough like the climate, it is just as magically effective (through “sympathy” or similarity) as sticking pins in a doll that looks kinda like your enemy … magical thought at its finest.

6. Mitigation of CO2. No one has ever shown that a) mitigation is practical or b) mitigation is cost-effective or c) mitigation will work. Experiments such as Kyoto have been a total failure. Despite that, mitigation is being pushed, and pushed hard, as a “solution” to your imaginary problem … and that is a point of view so heavily imbued with wishful and magical thinking as to not come close to passing the laugh test.

7. Fixing bad science through communication. This is what I call “modern magic”, where everything that is wrong is assumed to be a failure of communication. Believing that we can fix bad science through communication is magical ideation of the highest order.

And you claim to be agains “magical thinking”?

Because if you actually acted against that kind of magical thinking, Judith, you might be more credible. As it is, though, you believe in and espouse enough magical claims to give Chris Angel a headache or to make Teller speak out loud … and that’s heavy magic indeed.

Lomborg Cools It In London

Live microblogging of the screening+Q&A of Bjorn Lomborg‘s “Cool It“, organised by Legatum at London’s Soho Hotel on May 5:

  1. Almost ready to go for #Lomborg and #cool_it – Lord Monckton just sat next to me
  2. Legatum explain their interest as climate change “unfortunately” an ideological debate
  3. Climate change alarmism “one of the biggest threat” to a free society -
  4. The Man starts as usual with a T-shirt – flew out of Los Angeles yesterday – 86 minutes
  5. What if fear IS the point?
  6. Wave power in Scotland … 35 years ago, same as the Climategate inquiries
  7. Stephen Schneider comes out of this movie really badly – mostly because of himself
  8. So I agree with Gore – geoengineering is nuts
  9. Movie ends – around 100 attendees – refreshments now
  10. I suggested to reframe the solution in terms of a worry otherwise none will listen -
  11. Does he trust the science? Mentions Pielke Sr – says IPCC is broadly trusted
  12. Times journo asks why no mention of targets – L says q is ill posed as cuts depend on costs
  13. L says prob is Kyoto solutions cost more than future climate – current policies are “incredibly poor investment”
  14. Green taxes a bad idea. R&D a waste most of the time? Allocation a prob for Copenhagen Consensus 2012
  15. Governments pick “right” solutions instead of allowing researchers to work in different directions
  16. We should address specific ideas – example is X Prize. solution in numbers
  17. Economist from DECC – economies of scale? Cost of.behavioral changes? Talks of computers with vacuum tubes
  18. We should go for scale when technology is ready not too early
  19. Shame people for doing what they do or use prices? Opts for prices. Dramatic choices not using propaganda
  20. What is the proof of AGW for L? Apart from computer models? Refuses to answer directly
  21. Poor Bioengineering is getting cornered. Benny Peiser buys him some time
  22. Poor Bjorn not Bioengineering thank you Android
  23. Strongest argument finally: warming is coming but doesn’t know what feedbacks there will be
  24. Makes argument by authority and separation of careers! Yikes!
  25. Voice falters – should stick away from climate science in these occasions
  26. Monckton says mitigation cost effectiveness is an almost unknown topic. Done any calculations?
  27. Sends effusiveness towards the Lord. Debate starts on metrics
  28. “If it made money somebody would have done it”
  29. Chemtrailer spoils the night. L doesn’t believe in conspiracy but in people trying to make things more dramatic
  30. “You cannot scare people for 100 years”.
  31. Peiser ends thanking Lomborg for contributing to a calmer debate

BBC Science Coverage: It's Worse The We Thought

BBC News’s “Science & Environment” pages have seldom been a paradigm of in-depth, unbiased, trustworthy coverage. Yet, they’re now sinking to new, sensationalistic lows. And it’s not just climate change.

Latest offerings: Richard Black on absurdist claims that million-year-long processes are changing right now; Black again telling the world that coal is now good (and reporting the energy policy ideas of a Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology); Mark Kinver crying that penguins are “suffering” (whilst whales and seals are thriving, as reported well hidden in the same article); Pallab Ghosh fantasizing about Soviets getting the Moon before the Americans (forgetting that the key technological factor was the development by the US of combustion chambers able to withstand enormous pressures, so the Saturn-V could do with 5 engines on the first stage instead of 30).

Expect soon articles on how people feel about string theory, and the dangers to the fabric of the Universe caused by pesky European particle accelerators (oh…nevermind)

Andy @Revkin Points To The End of The Line For The IPCC And Its Lot

Thanks Andy!

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”

  1. dramatic (“claiming to have invented the psychological equivalent of the telescope qualifies”)
  2. a tad too clear-cut (“devoid of qualifications about when propositions do and do not hold”)
  3. doubt free (“portraying findings as beyond reasonable doubt and one’s measure as 100 percent pure”)
  4. universal (“implying that one is tapping into powerful unconscious forces that, hitherto unbeknownst to us, drive all human behavior”)
  5. palatable (“likely to appeal to one’s favorite ideological constituencies”)
  6. receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (“widely covered in the mass media and millions have visited the website”)
  7. 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:

  1. dramatic (having reached the computational power needed to project future climate just as CO2 emissions got to a previously-unknown “dangerous” level)
  2. a tad too clear-cut (with climate change almost completely due to a “thermostat” called CO2)
  3. doubt free (the IAC spent an inordinate amount of time complaining about the absurd IPCC policy of underplaying uncertainties)
  4. universal (everybody will feel the (bad) consequences of climate change, and everybody is guilty of it)
  5. palatable (as it happens, the usual evils of capitalism and freedoms are the underling cause of climate change)
  6. receiving “a lot of positive” media attention (shall I really comment this?)
  7. 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)

Disasters Caused By (Fear Of) Climate Change

Climate change has caused incredible suffering already.

Actually, climate change hasn’t done much, or perhaps anything at all (yet?). The reason for the “incredible suffering” has been the fear of climate change. For example:

How many more victims of AGWers are needed, before the catastrophists see what they’re doing to our world?

Nuke The Toxic Humans!

Recent entries from the Warmist camp:

  1. Genghis Khan was good regarding CO2 emissions, in particular due to his mass-killing attitude
  2. Nuclear war is good for global warming, as it reverses it for a while (no prob there, we can start a new war when needed)
  3. Exploding people including children is good for action against global warming/CO2 emissions/climate change

Who’s going to join the dots and push the appropriate nuclear button, for the good of the planet of course?

So You Believe In Computer Models…

Shub Niggurath tries to explain what makes Nature magazine reluctant from asking authors to make their computer code public. I am not too convinced by the arguments listed as possible reasons, and prefer to blame sheer ignorance on the part of people with little experience in programming.

On the other hand, SN’s post has made it very clear to me what’s wrong with my approach to “climate science”. The problem is that I became a “computer scientist” before I became a “scientist”. This makes any computer code highly suspicious in my eyes, and therefore it also makes next-to-impossible for me to trust “computer models” of any kind.

Nowadays, more than 18 programming years later, I am amazed at learning that there are intelligent people out there unaware of the infinite range of results that can come out of a relatively simple group of programs. Those people have never supported an application written by somebody else. They have also never experienced the frustration of having to debug a piece of code.

A computer, as the saying goes, is an ass, i.e. it will only do what asked and will only do it literally. Anybody programming it without the necessary level of expertise is bound to be lead around by the ass. In other words, the vast majority of scientific papers based on computer models are very likely to be elegantly-thought garbage.

For Green "Science" (and The Guardian and The New York Times), Any Rubbish Will Do

As I get labeled “most controversial” (thank you, whoever), let me mention a perfect yet extraordinary example showing how any claim, however far-fetched and based on little or no science at all, can be dressed as the latest scientific warning about impending doom caused by humanity’s excesses, without of course anybody involved showing any sign of critical thinking.

I am talking about the “Guardian news” (from Sep 12, 2007) that “man-made chemicals [should be] blamed as many more girls than boys are born in Arctic” (that is, twice as many girls as boys). This is specific to the Guardian as every other link I have found about it, can be traced back to a Paul Brown reporting from Nuuk, Greenland, that

Twice as many girls as boys are being born in some Arctic villages because of high levels of man-made chemicals in the blood of pregnant women, according to scientists from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (Amap)

[...] The scientists measured the man-made chemicals in women’s blood that mimic human hormones and concluded that they were capable of triggering changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestation. The chemicals are carried in the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta to the foetus, switching hormones to create girl children.

This would have been an incredible finding, shattering a lot of established ideas on the roles of chromosomes in humans. And it was picked up as such by treehugger.com (no comment) and a scienceblogs site called (the irony!) “Island of Doubt. Its author James Hrynyshyn wrote on Sep 13, 2007, that the news was “not good“, proceeding then to equivocate when pointed out how outerwordly it all sounded.

What makes this all exemplary is that it would have taken just a few minutes to figure out the holes in the story. First of all, the “findings” were:

disclosed at a symposium of religious, scientific and environmental leaders in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk,…organised by the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I, which is looking at the effects of environmental pollution on the Arctic.

More importantly, there was very little about the “findings” in the AMAP communications at the time (and even less, today). The 2006 State of the Arctic Environment Report (SOAER) says nothing at all about skewed sex ratios. An AMAP report from 2001 titled “Human Health” mentions two works by Mocarelli and others showing a change in the boys/girls ratio due to exposure to dioxin by the fathers (and so it would have nothing to do with the Guardian’s claim)

Mocarelli P, Brambilla P et al. Change in sex ratio with exposure to dioxin. Lancet 1996; 348: 409.

Mocarelli, P., P.M. Gerthoux, E. Ferrari, D.G. Petterson, S.M. Kieszak, P. Brambilla, N. Vincoli, S. Signorini, P. Tramacere, V. Carreri, E.J. Sampson, W.E. Turner and L.L. Needham, 2000. Paternal con- centrations of dioxin and sex ratio of offspring. The Lancet 355:1858-1863

There is also an AMAP report from 2000 (mentioning the excess girls as per the Mocarelli’s studies, but also the absence of such an excess in a similar situation in Taiwan). An AMAP poster from 2002 mentioning a decrease in the number of male newborns in whales (from 56% to 44%, far far less than what claimed about humans).

What would explain the enthusiasm leading to the…unorthodox announcement at the Orthodox Church symposium rather than through the usual scientific channels (or even, an official press release), is the AMAP report from 2006 saying that “Two new special projects have been initiated: one investigating contaminants in relation to sex ratio (based on the results from the PTS report)“. Hoever, in the Conclusions and Recommendations of the PTS report one reads something extremely vague:

Statistically significant associations have been found between blood concentrations of total PCBs (Arochlor 1260), lead and a number of non-specific reproductive and developmental health effects such as the prevalence of low birth weight, premature births, stillbirths and major structural malformations. Serum concentrations of total PCBs in maternal blood also appear to be associated with impacts on newborn sex ratios.

Anybody with a half-curious mind would have also read the literature mentioned by AMAP, for example this article from 2006, “Pathways of endocrine disruption during male sexual differentiation and masculinization“, where the abstract ends:

There is currently no definitive evidence that exposure of humans to environmental chemicals can induce testicular dysgenesis and/or impair masculinization, though pathways via which this could potentially occur are established.

It should have gone without saying that even if AMAP had found that “definitive evidence“, of course they wouldn’t just have seen two girls for every boy, but an enormous number of boys with various degrees of “endocrine disruption“.

====

There’s more, thanks to our hindsight of 2011. Of course the Guardian article has never been followed by any update (you know there’s something particularly fishy when all mainstream media but one refuse to report a story). How about AMAP? Here’s from their 2009 report, with some added emphasis:

POPs exposures have been suggested as the reason for observed alterations in birth sex ratios in animal populations and occasionally in human studies. New research results with pigs, which have a similar reproductive system to humans, indicate that exposure of sperm to environmentally pertinent organochlorine mixtures in vitro adversely affects oocyte development, polyspermy, sperm fertility and embryonic development. However, a comparison of existing population studies, one including Arctic countries, did not reveal any definitive or consistent relationship between POPs, sperm X:Y ratios or male:female birth ratios. Emerging data from a larger cohort in the Russian Arctic indicate that increasing maternal PCB concentrations may be associated with an initial effect of increasing the male:female newborn ratio; however, causality has not been determined and the increase in the ratio appears to disappear in the highest concentration group. The possible effects of other contaminants have not been determined. Systematic epidemiological studies, including all possible confounders and other relevant contaminants, must be performed before any conclusive statements can be made about contaminants and sex ratios in Arctic populations

[...] Results from the INUENDO study…This study indicates that POP exposure might be involved in changing the proportion of ejaculated Y-bearing spermatozoa in human populations. Inter- country differences, with different exposure situations and doses, may contribute to varying Y:X chromosome ratios. However, the higher proportion of Y sperm did not support the observed increase in the female:male ratio reported previously

[...] In general, no definitive conclusion could be drawn from these studies. Emerging data from a larger cohort in the Russian Arctic indicate that increasing maternal PCB concentrations may be associated with an initial effect of increasing the ratio of male:female newborns. The Russian results appear to confirm the trend reported in the previous AMAP Human Health assessment (AMAP, 2003); however, causality has not been determined and the increase in the ratio appears to disappear in the highest concentration group

Good luck with finding any of that in the Guardian. In the meanwhile, the initial rubbish gets repeated verbatim, for example in a highly-praised book by Sara Wheeler, titled “The Magnetic North” and reviewed with the brains fully shut by Holly Morris for the New York Times:

One boggling case in point: “Endocrine-­disrupting chemicals handed up the food chain have triggered changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestations, resulting in the birth of twice as many girls as boys in some villages in Greenland and among the Inuit nations of eastern ­Russia.”

No prize if you notice the full certainty of Wheeler (and Morris): HAVE TRIGGERED CHANGES. I am sure AMAP has written to the New York Times protesting already.

Denier-in-Chief

Has skepticism invaded the Oval RoomOffice? Just as the Climate Czarine finds something better to do with her life, President Obama allocates six-thousand-eight-hundred words to the State of the Union, in which we can notice:

  1. Zero instances of “climate change”
  2. Zero instances of “global warming”
  3. Zero instances of “climate”
  4. Zero instances of “environment”
  5. Zero instances of “sustainability” (in the greenish sense)
  6. One instance of “protect our planet”

The one or two optimists among the climate alarmists will find solace in the concept that one is infinitely more than zero.

Notably, Obama’s “Sputnik moment” (what a lame analogy…as if China had just come out with a 100-TW solar power station the size of a football field…) concerns itself with getting 80% of electrical (only electrical) power by 2035 using clean (that is, not necessarily sustainable) means.

Then it’s time for “clean coal” and the curtains closing down on the Romm- and Gore-esques of “the defining challenge for our generation”.

Dear Tamino’s, Greenfyre’s, McKibben’s, Skeptical Science’s, Connolley’s of the world: stop wasting your time with us dull, pea-brained, big-oil-paid skeptics, and try to get at least the consensus of One.

Until you manage that, everything else will be a joke.

Climategate, or The Self-Destruction of Climate Science – From The Italian Translation Of The GWPF Report

Italian think-tank Istituto Bruno Leoni publishes today Jan 25, 2011 the Italian translation of Andrew Montford/Bishop Hill‘s report “The Climategate Inquiries” for the GWPF.

Yours truly is the translator and has been kindly asked to write the Introduction, hereby translated back into English.

Many thanks to Carlo (and David, and Benny) for helping making all of this possible.

The Self-Destruction of Climate Science
by Maurizio Morabito

The science of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is dying, reduced to its last breaths by ‘Climate Pasdarans’ who forced it to become an ideological fetish, going as far as to conspire behind the scenes to defend its dogmas at all cost. Some of the most important characters in the AGW story have committed the greatest sin: they got themselves caught out red-handed, when someone (one of them?) decided in November 2009 to publish on the internet a ‘treasure trove’ of documents and emails about the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Those are the documents and messages whose content is now known as ‘the scandal of Climategate’.

The outcome, rather than a direct undermining of the science of AGW, has been the crushing of the interface between science and policy, with consequences on the science itself, self-defeated and therefore now less relevant and more subordinate to policymaking. Whatever the unassailable evidence they might be able to collect, scientists will find it difficult in the future to persuade politicians to act in a concerted way on any global issue, unless the problem is imminent if not declined in the present tense, immediately relevant and more than certain. In other words, thanks to the ‘Climate Pasdarans’ much or maybe even all hopes of medium- and long-term global risk management have been eliminated before they were even born.

Yet everything seemed to go full speed from 2007 onwards, with Al Gore winning the Oscar in the Peace category, and the Nobel Documentary Prize (or vice-versa) together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); a relentless propaganda at all levels to convince everybody to lower CO2 emissions; and dozens of international meetings in often-pleasant locations, aimed at organising the largest ever UN Summit, in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. But that very Summit proved a disaster broadcasted on live TV, the greatest ever UN Anti-climax followed by just as vapourous an agreement in 2010 in Cancún, Mexico. In the meanwhile, silence has greeted the demise of CO2 exchange trading in Chicago, that had started not long ago also thanks also to some Barack Obama.

The IPCC itself has been at the received end of heavy criticism by a super-authority called InterAcademic Council (IAC), an organization that brings together the most prestigious Academies of Sciences in the world. However, the main pivot of the climate science disaster has been the ‘treasure trove’ called Climategate. Some call it a case of hacking, computer piracy, but after a year of investigation the only crime is the almost certain failure by the University of East Anglia to comply with UK freedom-of-information (FOI) legislation. For others, the published material is old stuff, easily manipulated. But some of the information is very recent, and Ralph Cicerone, President of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and well-known AGW supporter, had no hesitation at the beginning of November 2010 to declare of having no problems with the media coverage of Climategate, because it was’ news’, in other words not just a manufactured issue.

Some say, there were three Commissions of inquiry in Britain and they did not reveal anything untoward. And why they did not! Exactly those investigations proved to be incomplete almost to the point of reticence, for example focusing on the behavior of scientists, rather than on the consequences to science. Indeed, the Science Assessment Panel of Lord Oxburgh did not concern itself with reviewing the science, and later on the head of another Commission candidly revealed to the British Parliament that he had not probed certain aspects because in some ways they could have seen the emergence of allegations of criminal offences possibly committed by the scientists involved. And if he suspected as much …

It is precisely to understand what has happened with the UK Inquiry Commissions that the Global Warming Policy Foundation, founded by Lord Lawson, has appointed Andrew Montford, bloggers and author of a book on Climategate, ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ , to produce the report ‘The Climategate Inquiries’, published today in Italy in exclusive by Istituto Bruno Leoni. So what has Montfort reported? It is possible to identify four main areas: some problems recognized by all, some cunning plans and stonewalling on the part of the British Establishment, a bunch of still unanswered questions and accusations, and the crumbling of the science of climate change.

Climategate, as amply documented by Montford, has revealed errors and omissions about which everyone agrees, including the Inquiry Commissions. For example, the ‘disappointing’ lack of involvement of statistical experts in the CRU work (paragraph 131 of Report), and a kind of ‘authority’ temptation regarding the IPCC, that transformed scientists well aware of the limitations of their research (paragraph 140) in misleading advisers (167), too sure of themselves (140), and totally against making their raw data publicly available (74) to the point of negatively affecting the IPCC itself (135).

Then there is the ‘craftiness’ question, with countless examples of small interpretative changes and minor omissions here and there that always end up pushing the reader towards believing in the existence of absolutely grave dangers caused by global warming and its anthropogenic origin, and in the complete absence of anything unusual in the work at the CRU and in general of scientists that are also activist campaigners against global warming. A prime example is the ‘hide the decline’, where differences in tree ring growth data and measured temperatures after 1960 have been papered over: a so-called ‘trick’ that is to some extent legitimate when accompanied by an open justification in peer-reviewed scientific articles. But that transforms also into something of the night when that same justification does not appear in publications made available to the public and to policymakers. And how is this apparent inconsistency solved? Why, with the absurd notion that policymakers and the public should always go back and read the original articles (39, 41), thereby undermining the very idea that scientists could be any useful in helping design public policy.

Similar problems occur about the ‘data adjustments’ (aka ‘fudging’ and ‘bodging’), explained in some scientific articles, but not in others (48). The Commissions have also declared of not being able to ‘consider accusations of dishonesty against CRU’ (70), after refusing to deal with the documentation provided in that regard. And we could go on and on: the blatant composition of the Commissions (98, 99, 157, 160); the failure to invite the main critics of the CRU work to testify in person (90); the fake list of scientific papers to be examined, prepared not by the Royal Society as stated, but by the UEA, as if the accused were given the task of presenting the evidence against them in court (114-117); the lack of probing questions (181, 188, 197), as if one trusted the fox declaring itself innocent after the chickens have disappeared; demonstrated lies taken instead as confirmed truths (225, 226); the Commissions’ work conducted informally and non-professionally (127), with ignored experts’ advice (171, 176), and abrupt, very convenient misunderstandings of the way the IPCC works (185), etc etc.

It is against this ‘wall of stones’ that all the still-unanswered questions and accusations stand out, thus preventing any real closure of the Climategate scandal. On what basis did the CRU Director refuted in the IPCC report a scientific article (59)? Why did the same Director not distance himself from some dubious data (65)? What has led scientists to reject in principle the public sharing of CRU data (73)? Why isn’t there much clarity as yet around tree ring growth data (130)? It gets worse, though, and this is the very large wound left over by Climategate: the crumbling of the science of climate change itself.

Let’s ask ourselves what is is, that science … is it perhaps the balance of evidence and theories concerning the mechanisms of those climatic changes that have already happened? Then some ‘little question’ might be honestly asked, after Climategate, and woe to the ‘science’ that considers some ‘little questions’ too uncomfortable to ask. Or is it the attempt to understand how the climate will evolve in the future? In that regards, Climategate has changed many things: the ‘little questions’ are too many to mention. But in truth, the ‘science of climate change’ is something bigger, because it includes its presentation to policymakers in an updated, comprehensive and authoritative way: the task, that is, of the IPCC.

Regarding that, Climategate really has changed everything. The IPCC was created at the interface between science and policymaking and its output is a report, not an encyclopaedia, aimed at relevance for policy response to anthropogenic climate change. It therefore contains what scientists (and politicians…it’s an ‘intergovernmental’ panel, not ‘interacademic’ or ‘interdisciplinary’) consider essential to state regarding those policies. But Climategate has destroyed that interface, showing how the same scientists who wrote carefully-worded articles in professional journals (140) went instead for bombastic statements in the IPCC reports and other publications that were policy-relevant and/or for the general public (131, 167). The IPCC itself has been shown guilty of oversimplifications, even according to most gentle Inquiry Commissions, and of omitting uncertainties that were clearly spelled out in the scientific literature. After Climategate, policymaking can no longer trust a ‘science’ that finds itself enslaved, forever forced to be useful, usable, accurate, focused on CO2 emissions of human origin and never to be questioned. This kind of science ends up being subordinate, a mere tool instead of a partner in policymaking: and that’s exactly what happened at Copenhagen, and has been admitted by Mike Hulme in the pages of The Guardian on 16 November 2010.

Perhaps the clearest sign that Climategate is much more serious than what some people keep repeating, is the absence of defamation trials against the GWPF, Montford, McKitrick, McIntyre, Holland, Keenan, no shy of making serious allegations against some of the scientists involved in Climategate. English law in this area is particularly onerous in respect of the defendant. Yet, nobody has come forward. Possibly, those at the receiving end of the allegations are convinced that the backstage of climate science shouldn’t be scrutinised too much. And if they themselves do not trust climate science, what should we infer?

Non-technical Comment For Curry's Technical Thread

This comment of mine in reply to Judith Curry’s “Pierrehumbert on infrared radiation and planetary temperatures” might or might not survive the night at Climate Etc: 8-)

Well, if you are wondering whether any progress in understanding of an issue like this can be made on the blogosphere you can’t leave this thread as purely technical can you?

raypierre is the perfect example of what has gone wrong between mainstream climate scientists and the rest of the world, starting from the “blogosphere”. One can be the smartest kid this side of the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies, but if in one’s mindset questions are considered as instances of lèse majesté and examples for the general public are routinely simplified in the extreme, so as to make them pointless, well, one will only be able to contribute to the hot air: because the natural reaction of most listeners will be to consider whatever one says (even the good stuff) as just a lot of vaporous grandstanding.

From this point of view, SoD‘s work should be more than highly commended.

R.I.P. Climate Change Mitigation (1988-2011)

Richard Black came back yesterday to the Land of the Writing with the uncharacteristic words of a Climate Realist, clearly undermining the mitigation side of climate change…

No-one acknowledges the limitations of computer climate models more readily than modellers themselves, who will frequently bemoan the roughness of the resolution at which they have to work given the tools available.

How fast models’ capabilities will increase is anybody’s guess – partly because funding for new big science projects is scarce in many nations, partly because there are still big gaps in understanding of how oceans and the atmosphere work, and partly because when it comes to projecting trends such as glacier loss, the path human society takes in terms of economic development is a key factor, and that’s certainly a known unknown.

There is not enough detail to know what the impact is going to be, where it is going to hit and when. Worse, it might take a long time to go from Global to Regional level, and then even that might not be detailed enough to be “useful”, with more years still to go from Regional to a “useful” level (whatever that might be).

All mitigation efforts might be just right, or too much, or too little, just in-time, or too soon, or too late, and we simply have no clue to tell what they really are.

The problem is that climate science as it is now asked to help manage the climate risk of the year 2100 is like XVIII century chemistry being asked to develop a nuclear bomb. We know it did, eventually, and science and knowledge moved forward. We also know it would have been absurd to base any policy on what XVIII century chemistry knew about nuclear bombs. And we know that, albeit fundamental to the building of nuclear bombs, XVIII century chemistry studies would have been of very little help in that regard.

So it’s not a matter of pessimism, but (using a similar analogy) of acknowledging that we can’t go to the Moon yet if all we can build is hot-air balloons.

Richard proceeds to ask:

So what should policymakers do?

What does one do if one loses one’s sight? Await in hospital the invention of an artificial eye? Pretend nothing has happened, and try to walk as before? Or does one protects oneself against accidents (=builds up adaptation) by using a white cane, a guide dog, and all available mobility aids?

Risk management under these “blind walk” conditions has to start from adaptation instead of mitigation, building up everybody’s resilience against present and future climate (or better yet, weather) events. There are enough weather disasters already as things are, despite CO2 levels being far from the projected values, and global temperature anomaly still in the 0.7C region.

 

Double-Whammy Befalling London, Jan 19, 2011

As it happens, Polly Higgins and Lord Martin Rees will both be speaking in London on Jan 19, 2011.

Apologies of course to Polly…rather than deranged statements in support of a new Committee of Public Safety (please nobody tell the warmists how little CO2 is emitted by guillotines!), I’ll most likely opt for a relaxed evening about “the search for planets around other stars” and in general anything apart from the world I left behind me.

  • Ecocide – Polly Higgins, international environmental lawyer and activist, is leading a campaign to declare the mass destruction of ecosystems an international Crime Against Peace – alongside genocide and crimes against humanity. Join us to explore how the crime of Ecocide can be implemented, how it can be applied internationally and nationally within a short timescale, and what the implications for global health may be. Roberts G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, Malet Place, UCL, Wednesday 19th January 2011, 3-4.30pm with drinks to follow
  • Life’s Future in the Cosmos – Prof Martin Rees – The talk will summarise current developments in understanding cosmic evolution and in the search for planets around other stars, as well as speculating on what may lie beyond the horizon of our observations. Conference Room at 27/29 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1SZ, The British Interplanetary Society, 19 January 2011 7 – 8.30 pm

Addendum to Skeptic's Dictionary: Hidden Persuaders Of Anthropogenic Global Warming

(original here of course, with plenty of links to explore each dictionary entry below in depth)

(the text outside < blockquote > is (mostly) mine)

hidden persuaders: A term used by Geoffrey Dean and Ivan Kelly (2003) to describe affective, perceptual, and cognitive biases or illusions that lead to erroneous beliefs.

A NOTE TO THOSE OF AGW-BELIEVING ATTITUDE:

The hidden persuaders sometimes seem to affect people in proportion to their intelligence: the smarter one is the easier it is to develop false beliefs. There are several reasons for this: (1) the hidden persuaders affect everybody to some degree; (2) the smarter one is the easier it is to see patterns, fit data to a hypothesis, and draw inferences; (3) the smarter one is the easier it is to rationalize, i.e., explain away strong evidence contrary to one’s belief; and (4) smart people are often arrogant and incorrectly think that they cannot be deceived by others, the data, or themselves

And now for some examples:

 

ad hoc hypothesis: An ad hoc hypothesis is one created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s belief or theory. Ad hoc hypotheses are common in paranormal research and in the work of pseudoscientists. It is always more reasonable to apply Occam’s razor than to offer speculative ad hoc hypotheses.

AGW example: The discovery that aerosols have cooled the Earth just when the Earth was cooling, miraculously declining their action exactly when the Earth was warming due to CO2 emissions.

AGW example: The discovery that heavy (winter) snow and cold temperatures are exactly caused by temperature increases

 

affect bias: Our judgment regarding the costs and benefits of items is often significantly influenced by a feeling evoked by pictures or words not directly relevant to the actual cost or benefit

AGW example: Justifying reduction in CO2 emissions by way of how “green” things could become, and civilization “sustainable” in “harmony” with nature.

 

apophenia: Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. “The propensity to see connections between seemingly unrelated objects or ideas most closely links psychosis to creativity … apophenia and creativity may even be seen as two sides of the same coin”. In statistics, apophenia is called a Type I error, seeing patterns where none, in fact, exist.

AGW example: The propensity to see Anthropogenic Global Warming at work in each and every (bad) thing that happens anywhere on Earth, including in earthquakes

 

autokinetic effect: The autokinetic effect refers to perceiving a stationary point of light in the dark as moving

AGW example: The incredible inability of past and present temperature measures to record the actual values, leading to contemporary researchers having to continuously adjust the figures (lowering the old ones, increasing the new ones)

 

availability error: availability heuristic, determining probability “by the ease with which relevant examples come to mind” (Groopman 2007: p. 64) or “by the first thing that comes to mind” (Sutherland 1992: p. 11)

AGW example: The IPCC declaring in 2007 that tens of thousands of indicators were all compatible to global warming, even if the overwhelming majority of those indicators was about Europe alone

 

backfire effect: The “backfire effect” is a term coined by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler to describe how some individuals when confronted with evidence that conflicts with their beliefs come to hold their original position even more strongly

AGW example: AGWers patting each other in the back about climate science remaining totally unscathed by the Climategate e-mails

 

change blindness: Change blindness is the failure to detect non-trivial changes in the visual field.

AGW example: The obsession with computing linear trends, making it impossible even to fathom the step-function behaviors (=”tipping points”) the very same AGWers like to talk about

 

Clever Hans phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Journalist AGWers crowding RealClimate to know how long to count for

 

Clever Linda phenomenon: A form of involuntary and unconscious cuing

AGW example: Climate scientists writing to journalists making sure they conform, because fortunately, the prestige press doesn’t fall for this sort of stuff, right?

 

clustering illusion: The clustering illusion is the intuition that random events which occur in clusters are not really random events

AGW example: All the global village idiots that will tell the world how climate change is upon us, as shown by the year’s news, rather than by relying on properly conducted scientific research capable to isolate climate-change effects from others such as poverty

 

cognitive dissonance: Cognitive dissonance is a theory of human motivation that asserts that it is psychologically uncomfortable to hold contradictory cognitions. The theory is that dissonance, being unpleasant, motivates a person to change his cognition, attitude, or behavior. What distinguishes the chiropractor’s rationalization from the cult member’s is that the latter is based on pure faith and devotion to a guru or prophet, whereas the former is based on evidence from experience. Neither belief can be falsified because the believers won’t let them be falsified: Nothing can count against them. Those who base their beliefs on experience and what they take to be empirical or scientific evidence (e.g., astrologers, palm readers, mediums, psychics, the intelligent design folks, and the chiropractor) make a pretense of being willing to test their beliefs. They only bother to submit to a test of their ideas to get proof for others. That is why we refer to their beliefs as pseudosciences. We do not refer to the beliefs of cult members as pseudoscientific, but as faith-based irrationality. The chiropractors’ misguided belief is probably not due to worrying about their self-image or removing discomfort. It is more likely due to their being arrogant and incompetent thinkers, convinced by their experience that they “know” what’s going on, and probably assisted by communal reinforcement from the like-minded arrogant and incompetent thinkers they work with and are trained by. They’ve seen how AK works with their own eyes. They’ve demonstrated it many times. If anything makes them uncomfortable it might be that they can’t understand how the world can be so full of idiots who can’t see with their own eyes what they see!

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming

 

law of truly large numbers (coincidence): The law of truly large numbers says that with a large enough sample many odd coincidences are likely to happen.

AGW example: Romm scouring the planet’s press agencies to list all sorts of disasters that might somehow be connected to anthropogenic global warming

 

cold reading: Cold reading refers to a set of techniques used by professional manipulators to get a subject to behave in a certain way or to think that the cold reader has some sort of special ability that allows him to “mysteriously” know things about the subject

AGW example: The popularity of climate models’ ensembles among politicians looking for something to confirm they need to be voted for, and in the process getting convinced science can really tell us something about the climate of 2100

 

communal reinforcement: Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community

AGW example: The tendency of warmist websites to censor dissenting comments away, leaving readers (believers) with the impression there is really a huge huge number of them, and just a handful of nasty skeptics

 

confabulation: A confabulation is a fantasy that has unconsciously emerged as a factual account in memory. A confabulation may be based partly on fact or be a complete construction of the imagination

AGW example: The decade-long fight to remove from collective memory the substantial agreement among scientists about global cooling (potentially, an ice age), a consensus that lasted at least between 1972 and 1975.

 

confirmation bias: Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs

AGW example: Briffa’s uncanny ability to avoid for years any mention of the misbehaving trees he had himself published a paper about, in the Yamal saga

 

file-drawer effect: The file-drawer effect refers to the practice of researchers filing away studies with negative outcomes. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Negative outcome may also refer to finding something that is contrary to one’s earlier research or to what one expects

AGW example: Extreme lack of interest among prominent climate scientists to publish anything (not even an Op-Ed) about the “travesty” that was (is) their inability to explain why temperatures (actually, the averages of the global temperature anomaly) have not risen since 1998

 

Forer effect: The Forer effect refers to the tendency of people to rate sets of statements as highly accurate for them personally even though the statements could apply to many people

AGW example: The worldwide phenomenon that sees most Ministers and Prime Ministers announce that their own particular country is being affected by climate change at twice or more the planetary average

 

gambler’s fallacy: The gambler’s fallacy is the mistaken notion that the odds for something with a fixed probability increase or decrease depending upon recent occurrences

AGW example: Tamino’s (?) absurdist blog about the probability of having consecutive hot periods being astronomically low

 

hindsight bias: Hindsight bias is the tendency to construct one’s memory after the fact (or interpret the meaning of something said in the past) according to currently known facts and one’s current beliefs. In this way, one appears to make the past consistent with the present and more predictive or predictable than it actually was.

AGW example: The Met Office discovering in January how it had forecasted a cold December in October, as shown by a statement nobody did read, and nobody has read

AGW example: The silly notion that Anthropogenic Global Warming has been consensually recognized in the 1970’s or even earlier

 

inattentional blindness: Inattentional blindness is an inability to perceive something that is within one’s direct perceptual field because one is attending to something else

AGW example: Lancet publishing an incredibly misleading Climate Change report with little mention of the huge difference in the number and type of deaths of people during cold and warm snaps

AGW example: The complete lack of interest about linking the generalized Northern Hemispheric cold and the silent Sun

 

magical thinking: According to anthropologist Dr. Phillips Stevens Jr., magical thinking involves several elements, including a belief in the interconnectedness of all things through forces and powers that transcend both physical and spiritual connections. Magical thinking invests special powers and forces in many things that are seen as symbol. One of the driving principles of magical thinking is the notion that things that resemble each other are causally connected in some way that defies scientific testing (the law of similarity)

AGW example: CO2’s mysterious ability to free the Arctic from the ice, and to increase the amount of ice in Antarctica, plus its long hand into anything and everything that ever happens and has bad consequences.

 

motivated reasoning: Motivated reasoning is confirmation bias taken to the next level. Motivated reasoning leads people to confirm what they already believe, while ignoring contrary data. But it also drives people to develop elaborate rationalizations to justify holding beliefs that logic and evidence have shown to be wrong

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural swiftness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions

 

nonfalsifiability: Scientific theories not only explain empirical phenomena, they also predict empirical phenomena. One way we know a scientific theory is no good is that its predictions keep failing. Predictions can’t fail unless a theory is falsifiable. Some pseudoscientific [theories] can’t be falsified because they are consistent with every imaginable empirical state of affairs. Karl Popper noted that psychoanalytic theory, including Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex, is pseudoscientific because they seem to explain everything and do not leave open the possibility of error. Even contradictory behaviors are appealed to in support of the theory.

AGW example: Thousands and thousands of words written by journalists, scientists and activists about anthropogenic global warming, and not one of them indicating what if anything could falsify…anthropogenic global warming

 

positive-outcome (publication) bias: Positive-outcome (or “publication”) bias is the tendency to publish research with a positive outcome more frequently than research with a negative outcome. Negative outcome refers to finding nothing of statistical significance or causal consequence, not to finding that something affects us negatively. Positive-outcome bias also refers to the tendency of the media to publish medical study stories with positive outcomes much more frequently than such stories with negative outcomes

AGW example: The amount of time some highly-functioning minds have spent to justify scientifically the reasons for the “hide the decline”

 

post hoc fallacy: The post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this therefore because of this) fallacy is based upon the mistaken notion that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event was a cause of the second event. Post hoc reasoning is the basis for many superstitions and erroneous beliefs

AGW example: The Anthropogenic Global Warming’s crowd supernatural completeness in explaining every (bad) phenomenon as a consequence of human CO2 emissions

 

pragmatic fallacy: The pragmatic fallacy is committed when one argues that something is true because it works and where ‘works’ means something like “I’m satisfied with it,” “I feel better,” “I find it beneficial, meaningful, or significant,” or “It explains things for me

AGW example: The inane request to publish via peer-review a scientific alternative to mainstream Anthropogenic Global Warming theory because “it works”. One doesn’t need to be a leader or a tailor to see if the Emperor is naked.

 

regressive fallacy: The regressive fallacy is the failure to take into account natural and inevitable fluctuations of things when ascribing causes to them

AGW example: The general agreement that natural variability doesn’t count much for Anthropogenic Global Warming, even if the very same people go on to claim temperatures have not increased in a decade because of natural variability

 

representativeness error: In judging items, we compare them to a prototype or representative idea and tend to see them as typical or atypical according to how they match up with our model. The problem with the representativeness heuristic is that what appears typical sometimes blinds you to possibilities that contradict the prototype

AGW example: The sterile obsession with studying climate science by climate models alone

 

retrospective falsification: D. H. Rawcliffe coined this term to refer to the process of telling a story that is factual to some extent, but which gets distorted and falsified over time by retelling it with embellishments

AGW example: The abuse of Arrhenius’ “greenhouse gas” works, with the first one continuously mentioned exactly as the second one gets forgotten, being a more sober rethinking of the original ideas

 

selection bias: Selection bias comes in two flavors: (1) self-selection of individuals to participate in an activity or survey, or as a subject in an experimental study; (2) selection of samples or studies by researchers to support a particular hypothesis

AGW example: Mann’s obviously irrelevant pick-and-choose of which series to use for the Hockey Stick

 

selective thinking: Selective thinking is the process whereby one selects out favorable evidence for remembrance and focus, while ignoring unfavorable evidence for a belief

AGW example: Any post at Skeptical Science, with its incredible list of peer-reviewed all-mutually-consistent scientific papers

 

self-deception: Self-deception is the process or fact of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. Self-deception, in short, is a way we justify false beliefs to ourselves

AGW example: Connolley et al publishing an article about a “Myth” of global cooling consensus in the 1970’s despite providing themselves ample evidence to support the same “myth”

 

shoehorning: Shoehorning is the process of force-fitting some current affair into one’s personal, political, or religious agenda

AGW example: Also known as “decorating the Christmas tree”…at every climate negotiation for the UN, thousands of people try to add their pet project to the cause, including “forest protection, poverty alleviation, water equity, women’s and indigenous rights

 

subjective validation: Subjective validation is the process of validating words, initials, statements, or signs as accurate because one is able to find them personally meaningful and significant

AGW example: Anthropogenic Global Warming causing a (temporary?) shutdown in critical thinking among those worried about getting the world “greener”

 

sunk-cost fallacy: When one makes a hopeless investment, one sometimes reasons: I can’t stop now, otherwise what I’ve invested so far will be lost. This is true, of course, but irrelevant to whether one should continue to invest in the project. Everything one has invested is lost regardless. If there is no hope for success in the future from the investment, then the fact that one has already lost a bundle should lead one to the conclusion that the rational thing to do is to withdraw from the project

AGW example: The UN’s COP bandwagon, moving a lot of people a lot of times in a lot of different locations (but never in Moldova or North Korea, for some reason) even if everybody agrees it will never mean anything substantial

 

anecdotal (testimonial) evidence: Testimonials and vivid anecdotes are one of the most popular and convincing forms of evidence presented for beliefs in the supernatural, paranormal, and pseudoscientific

AGW example: Monbiot’s famous February floral musings brought to the world as evidence of anthropogenic global warmings, back when Februarys were still warm

 

Texas-sharpshooter fallacy: The Texas-sharpshooter fallacy is the name epidemiologists give to the clustering illusion. Politicians, lawyers and some scientists tend to isolate clusters of diseases from their context, thereby giving the illusion of a causal connection between some environmental factor and the disease. What appears to be statistically significant (i.e., not due to chance) is actually expected by the laws of chance

AGW example:Pretty much any Al Gore speech

 

wishful thinking: Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence

AGW example:Pretty much any warmist blog or statement

=======

Obviously there’s much better examples out there, so do send them across if you see any…

The Ike Nobody Mentions

In a few short days, it will be 50 years since President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (Jan 17, 1961), truly world-famous for its criticism of the “military-industrial complex“. However, a few moments later Ike moved on to a different “complex“, eerily predicting the rise of organizations like the IPCC, and of scientists just too eager to be useful to politicians:

[...] The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.[...]

As expected, he had no time for those that put science/technology/whatever else ahead of the democratic system:

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

President Eisenhower even mentions the problem of dwindling resources (Andy Revkin must have heard him as a toddler)

As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

One should note though, that the currently fashionable scaremongering had no space in Ike’s worldview either

this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect

Finally, what were the enemies to be fought? Why, “scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance“. Perhaps one day a former NYT journalist will recognize how fundamental these are…

Climate "Extremes" In 410AD

Curiously, St Augustine of Hippo‘s Sermon 25 “Sermon on the verse of Psalm 94: Blessed the one whom You instruct, Lord, and whom You teach from Your law” is available online in Latin and Italian, but only inside a Google Book in English (p. 82).

Anyway, just in case anybody was wondering if anything were new under the sun (p. 83):

Practically every year when we feel the cold we say ‘It’s never been so cold!”. ‘It’s never been so hot!’

Incredibly Accurate Climate Forecast For 2011

(no £33M supercomputer was harmed in the making of this blog)

  • All atmospheric, oceanic, glacial, geological and public-health phenomena with any kind of negative impact will be linked to (anthropogenic) global warming with no shortage of experts confirming how we’d known that all along, and of computer models showing how obvious those consequences have always been
  • No atmospheric, oceanic, glacial, geological and public-health phenomena lacking any kind of negative impact will be linked to (anthropogenic) global warming
  • Romm will continue his fishing expeditions, hoping this or that weather-related mass killing can be taken advantage of, in order to promote the concept of anthropogenic global warming
  • Hansen will get (willingly) arrested once or twice, ready to proclaim 2011 as the warmest year ever, mostly due to extremes of heat in faraway places devoid of people and weather stations
  • McKibben will get even thinner, and just as ineffectual, while identifying new enemies forever closer to himself
  • RealClimate will keep its absurdist censorship policy, and in post after post the Team will “demonstrate” their intellectual superiority
  • Skeptical Science will keep building climate salad surgeries to no end, sprinkling statements of various robustness with seemingly limitless references to the Literature, to be used by the lazy and most scientifically-ignorant among its readership (i.e. the journalists)
  • The Climate Change Rapid Response Team will say nothing of relevance that hasn’t been already said
  • The nastiest criticisms by rabid AGWers will be thrown in the direction of Curry
  • Revkin will keep reaffirming his absolute confidence in mainstream AGW science despite the evidence to the contrary presented in Revkin’s blog
  • Pielke Jr will be distracted by other things, thereby avoiding Revkin’s problem
  • The IPCC will make sure nothing really is changed in its procedures or results
  • McIntyre will be made privy to secret information showing how deeply unpopular in the mainstream climate community is anything remotely linked to McIntyre
  • Goddard (S.) will publish his 25,000th blog post
  • Goddard (NASA’s) will discover that recent thermometer readings must be adjusted upwards, and past ones downwards, for purely scientific reasons of course
  • Watts will be criticized (for being Watts and) for providing web space to people with strange theories
  • ScienceOfDoom will busy himself with explaining the first law of thermodynamics (again!) thereby missing all the fun
  • Connolley will not notice the rest of the planet
  • Tamino will pop up once around here and other places, posting an inane, canned comment that could be written in reply to any other blog post written by anybody on any topic
  • Some people with a very nasty mindset will suggest that the glowing comments to Tamino’s posts might as well have been written by people sharing the same identical DNA with Tamino
  • The recipient of the 2010 Edward Davis Wood, Jr.’s Climate “Blogging Turkey” Award will sink to new lows
  • The art of obfuscating FOI and non-FOI answers will be perfected by the CRU and the BBC
  • Popular media will be filled by photographic reports about a changing climate, with no picture showing anything remotely connected to climate change in a proper scientific way
  • Popular media will be filled by countless breakthroughs in climate science showing how worse it is than we thought
  • Scientifically speaking, there will not be any breakthrough in climate science
  • A very large number of well-known and otherwise knowledgeable scientists will make complete asses of themselves by appearing on TV and in print with idiotic regurgitations of mainstream AGW theory, mostly inconsistent with the very statements made by the IPCC
  • If the weather will keep cold, a major European scientific institution will break ranks with mainstream AGW theory before the summer
  • Popular interest will wane as most people will be titillated about the 2012 “end of the world” instead
  • The EU will find new ways to use climate change to transfer money to the rich, and to China
  • China will happily go along the EU cash-transfer schemes
  • The US Congress and President will strike a united front in protecting climate-change-related pork (money not meat)

And finally for the real world…

  • It will rain, otherwise it will be sunny, foggy, cloudy or overcast. It will snow in places, with sandstorms in other places (or the same ones). It will be cold, then hot, then cold again, or viceversa more or less overall. Some droughts, some floods, and places experiencing drizzle. Unprecedented weather will be experienced for the 200,000th year running, with lack of morals among humans indicated as main culprit for the 200,000th time as well
  • Many people will die of poverty in weather-related events around the world, with the keys being “poverty” and “weather” but all action concentrated on “climate change”
  • Children will keep dying of soot, while the world concerns itself with CO2 emissions only
  • Elderly people will keep dying of fuel poverty, while the world concerns itself to increase fuel prices in order to reduce CO2 emissions

Climate Science, To The Edge Of Irrelevance

After days of extremely-silly reports trying to argue that a warming world means a colder world or part of it, as if a winter or two meant anything in the context of climate (usually defined as a 30-year average), a ray of hope for the serious parts of climate science has shone at DotEarth. After all, whenever a rabid warmist claims success after having fished around for any instance of weather extreme anywhere in the world, it’s hard to tell the ensuing climate looting from any claim about Nostradamus.

The whole brouhaha about the cold weather of December 2010 actually highlights three issues that are pushing climate science towards irrelevance:

  • If somebody like Judah Cohen publishes a NYT Op-Ed focused on explaining how to “reconcile” the “snow and record cold” with “a World Meteorological Organization report showing that 2010 will probably be among the three warmest years on record“, then what exactly are climate projections for?

As every newspaper reader outside of North Korea should know by now, a warmer world is expected to be a world perhaps with more snow, perhaps with less snow, perhaps with both; perhaps with more floods, perhaps with more droughts, perhaps with both; perhaps with more cold, perhaps with more heat, perhaps with both…That covers more or less every possibility, apart from “no change at all”, hence it is similar to expecting at the roulette table any number between 0 and 14 and between 16 and 36, having seen “15” come out several times in a row. There is no need of peer-review or statistical analysis to do that. There is not even any need to model the roulette wheel and its pockets. And as any trip to the Casino can show, there is no reward at all in betting upon such an extremely-wide-ranging set of “projections”.

  • In a new blog, Revkin mentions “Jay Fein, program director in N.S.F.’s climate dynamics program” as saying “weather impacts peoples’ lives and the global economy on a daily basis

Why then should anybody care about 30-year averages? What is the meaning of spending considerable resources to mitigate or even adapt to some hard-to-tell thing that might or might happen in 2050AD when the impact of atmospheric patterns is felt “on a daily basis“? Imagine asking anybody in 1900 to put aside money for good use in 1940…

  • And even if one willingly forgets the two objections above…as mentioned here already a few weeks ago, and independently reaffirmed at Real Science, the very concept of a “global anomaly” by which we can measure a “warming planet” might be meaningless, as an unevenly-warming world might see everybody having to face a life of cold

Imagine if a cold place where the average temperature is -20C warms by 4C, and a temperate place where the average temperature is 10C cools by 2C. Obviously the resulting “average anomaly” is +2C and people can run around screaming about “global warming”. Apparently logical…and yet: the result is that people will have a choice between living at -16C or leaving at 8C, i.e. between where it’s still as cold as ever, and where it’s not warm enough any longer.

In such a situation, as in trying to build an effective policy from an extremely-wide range of expected scenarios, and as in trying to convince the people of today to suffer for something that we don’t know and might or might not happen far in the future, politicians actively applying what contemporary climate science tells them will find themselves victims of unintended consequences at best, and of complete misleading at worst. The most likely outcome? Nobody in their right mind will ever listen to a climate scientist again…

Science Should Better Do Without "Defenders of the Faith"

A comment I have posted at Scientific American’s “Cross-check” blog by John Horgan, in reply to the entry titled “The truth we’ll doubt: Does the “decline effect” mean that all science is “truthy“?“. Reposted here for future memory:

> Jonah Lehrer dismisses the notion that “The Truth Wears Off”
> implicitly undermines the status of the theory of
> evolution by natural selection and global warming,
> which are “two of the most robust and widely
> tested theories of modern science.”

I wish people were more confident in their science and less defensive on subjects that they consider “robust” and “widely tested”. To me, it is obvious that the “Truth that wore off” about evolution was Eugenics. It has all the characteristics indicated by Lehrer, including Galton’s “dramatic correlation” and a huge bandwagon that was eliminated only by the horrors of WWII.

Likewise for “global warming”: a misnomer as everybody now agrees, should be “climate change” at least, and it has evolved from simplistic claims of an increase in temperatures everywhere to a whole load of nuances and lots of studies still to be carried out at a regional (and even more, local!) level. The “Truth” that is wearing off “climate change” is the idea that it only takes a few years to properly understand the behavior in the free atmosphere of something that can be seen in the lab. Other “global warming Truths”/bandwagons that are slowly disappearing include the notions that (a) every environmental phenomenon is caused by increases in CO2 emissions, (b) we have all the technology we need to stop emitting CO2, (c) cap-and-trade is the solution to CO2 emissions, (d) it is ok to present data devoid of uncertainty for policy reasons, (e) reconstructions of past temperatures can be done without involving statisticians, etc etc.

Please do note that Evolution (in a modern form) has survived the demise of Eugenics, just like “climate change” will likely survive (in an updated form) all semi-idiotic studies forever linking it to the disappearance of mostly-cute animals.

Sometimes I feel like we have learned nothing of the useless debates of old, Newtonians vs Leibnitzians, light-is-a-particle vs light-is-a-wave, relativity vs quantum mechanics. Science shouldn’t be a place where people sacrifice themselves and their principles for pet theories, closing their minds rather than accepting the challenge: rather, Science should be an open battlefield where the truly powerful ideas don’t even need defending. But I suppose that might not chime right if the worry is the preservation of the status quo.

AGW Miracle #13 On The New York Times (Oh Gould Were Art Thou?)

What’s wrong with chinstrap penguins, fur seals, krill and leopard seals? Does anybody know?

Perhaps Elizabeth Royte, Fen Montaigne or Bill Fraser do, since it almost goes without saying that “warmer winter air and sea temperatures” around the Antarctic Peninsula are a Bad Thing because (by some quasi-magical mechanism) they negatively affect lovely Adélie penguins, leaving those other species to thrive amongst our indifference.

This is exactly what I described as “AGW miracle #13” on Oct 31:

As the world gets warmer, plenty of Bad Things proliferate whilst plenty of Good Things dwindle in number or occurrence (popular species disappear whilst unpopular ones like jellyfish expand, and so on and so forth)

Hard not to notice that (just in case readers might get their attention diverted from the rapidly-vanishing Adélies) Royte/Montaigne go as far as to suggest that the brown skuas, dependent on the Adélie colonies and therefore equally doomed, exert a “Mafia-like domination” with gruesome chick-killing feeding habits. In the meanwhile, saintly Adélies “almost cut in half by leopard seals stagger back to the colony to deliver their load of krill“.

Is that an aureola I can see radiating from the Adélies’ heads? “For Fraser, the warming has a moral dimension“, we are told. One suspects, warming has a moral dimension to Montaigne and Royte as well, and the scientific or documentary value of a book like “Fraser’s Penguins” dubious to say the least. We are basically back to the XIX century, antropocentrists, looking for moral examples that involve something as absolutely nonmoral as Nature. And Stephen Jay Gould has written wonderfully complete essays against that very idea, for nothing.

NASA's Arsenicgate Vindicates Years Of AGW Skepticism

You’re unlikely to find any “mainstream science blogger” admitting it, but the backlash against NASA’s hyped-uparsenic life” press-conference-cum-discovery is not similar, rather pretty much identical (apart from a “tiny” detail I’ll talk about in a moment) to what many AGW skeptics have been saying about that other NASA’s hyped-up field, (catastrophic) climate change.

Take these words by Chris Rowan and tell me why they couldn’t be written as critique to the Hockey Stick or any other Climategate-related bodging or fudging:

[...] That’s what I consider to be real peer review. The pre-publication stuff is just a quality filter, a check that the paper is not obviously wrong – and an imperfect filter at that. The real test is what happens in the months and years after publication. Sometimes, after further research, the ideas in the paper do stand the test of time, and form a firm foundation for further research in that area. Sometimes it turns out to be wrong, but in interesting ways that increase our understanding of how that little bit of the world works. Sometimes it turns out to be simply wrong.

[...] the discussion is taking place in a much more public manner than is usually the case – something that NASA and the authors of the paper don’t seem to like very much. Well, tough cookies. You wanted the publicity. If you’re presenting your research at a NASA press conference in the wake of a firestorm of excitable media speculation, you definitely wanted the publicity. It’s a bit late to claim that you want discussion of your research limited to the peer-reviewed literature.

[...] I’ve actually written before about the real issue here: in this new media world of blogs and twitter streams, it’s much harder to control a story, because other scientists now have the tools to make their criticism just as public as your press releases.

[...] burying one’s head in the sand is counterproductive; you should robustly engage the criticisms, just as you would if it were a comment-and-reply in a journal, or a challenging question at a conference. The new reality is this: if you announce the research in a public venue, the debate should – and increasingly will – take place in that same public venue. The real challenge is how to have these debates – and report them – effectively.

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So what is different? Why can’t Rowan make the link between the above and the obtuse behavior by so-called “leading climatologists” that to this day refuse to make their raw data public? Here’s why: because “climate change” is not a scientific debate, and so it is impervious to scientific skepticism. As von Storch (no climate skeptic, him) wrote more than five years ago:

The concern for the “good” and “just” case of avoiding further dangerous human interference with the climate system has created a peculiar self-censorship among many climate scientists. Judgments of solid scientific findings are often not made with respect to their immanent quality but on the basis of their alleged or real potential as a weapon by “sceptics” in a struggle for dominance in public and policy discourse.

More Evidence Of AGW Obsession In The UK (It's Stephen Hawking's Turn)

Sometimes I do wonder if I am writing too much stuff about AGW…but then what should one have to do when it pops up more or less everywhere, for inhabitants of the United Kingdom?

Take for example…Stephen Hawking’s “George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt” (written with Lucy Hawking). It’s a great story of kids traveling from Earth to Mars to Titan to Alpha Centauri B to 55 Cancri (!) with plenty of in-depth explanations and has been for the past few weeks bedtime reading for astronomy buff “Junior” Morabito.

What would AGW have to do with all of this? Nothing at all, one would expect. And yet…as one of the subplots, the parents of one of the kids all of a sudden decide to join eco-warriors in the South Pacific in order to record the rising waves before it’s too late and other pseudoscientific rubbish of the sort. There is no obvious reason why they would be eco-warriors, and more importantly, this has no relationship whatsoever with anything else in the book. Even after one of the parents gets lost in a boat and satellites are called in for the rescue, the authors almost forget the sub-plot and merely mention the rescue itself near the end of the book.

All in all, it looks like somebody took a space-mystery-kids story and pasted in some gratuitous reference to AGW for no other reason than to mention AGW. It reminds me of those inscrutable dance routines suddenly waking up the audience in the middle of Indian movies, or of scantily-clad actresses voluptuously falling prey of mass-murderers in gory movies marketed to teenage audiences; or of a couple of authors opting for sterile mannerism and conformism, even when free to write about the whole universe.

On my part, I am not reading those chapters to Junior (well, it’s one half-chapter, plus a page or two and a couple of lines). As I said, the rest of the story is wholly unaffected, and with all the things I’d like to talk about (alien life, relativity, planetary systems, cryovolcanoes etc etc) the last thing in my mind is to divert a young mind’s attention towards worrying about maybe, perhaps, who know, are we sure sea rises in the South Pacific.

He needs to learn the tools of physics now, not the worries of a would-be science.

We Have To Cure Ourselves From The Itch For Absolute Knowledge And Power

As I find myself repeating, AGW has been so far impossible to falsify, in the sense that nobody has any idea of what kind of observation or observations would be needed to disprove it, either as-is or in its catastrophic form.

This is no small detail, as the very existence of catastrophic AGW is used by many people in blatant violation of Cromwell’s Rule:

if a coherent Bayesian attaches a prior probability of zero to the hypothesis that the Moon is made of green cheese, then even whole armies of astronauts coming back bearing green cheese cannot convince him

How many AGWers would be able to accept the famous exhortation, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken“? Very very few, especially among those of an activist variety. And this brings one straight back where I started for tonight’s research, a chance view (via the concept of “scientific allegiance“) of a short, emotional clip from “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, author of the quote that is the title of this post.

Bronowski makes a very poignant point, inviting each and every one of us to reach out to people, instead of transforming them into numbers. And what is the accusation of “denialism” but an attempt to de-humanize anybody that is not an AGW True Believer?

The world being built anybody using the term “denialism” in an AGW context ain’t pretty. Bronowski again:

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.

Is Global Warming A Hoax?

It’s just a tad harder to update this blog with anything meaningful during the yearly UN Climate Hugfest (aka Cancun – COP16): simply put, the unbearable nakedness of climate change is being broadcast right now on each and every channel (follow Real Science for a daily feast of the stupidest statements Cancun has seen outside drunken Spring Breaks).

Let me clarify then, in case anybody cares apart from my 23rd century graduate student readers preparing dissertations on bright relatively bright overestimated talkative bloggers from the early 21st century, what my thoughts are about conspiracy theories of the skeptical variety, aka “global warming is a hoax“.

Simply put, I am mildly annoyed by those claims.

I find all “hoax” and “fraud” discussions distracting if not completely beside the point.  Yes, we face the overwhelming support esp. by the Scientific Establishment of a still-infant idea such as AGW, that despite being as yet impossible to falsify is presented to the public as a highly-certain prediction of impending catastrophes unless we renounce our liberties and go back to live in the caves we came from. Or maybe up the trees.

And yet, following Ockham’s razor, there is no need to imply a “hoax” or “fraud” when good old “scientific dogma” can be at play. Many, many, many people including scientists possess the innate ability/compulsion to follow the crowd, even when something as objective as science is involved.

My favorite example for that is the dogma against preCambrian complex life, that lasted 93 years in the face of overwhelming evidence. That dogma ended only when a suitable authority was open-minded enough to accept in 1959 what the rocks had been screaming since 1868.

In total there had been three previous attempts at getting the fossils to speak for themselves, but nobody was listening. In hindsight, one might say there were plenty of attempts to falsify information (patently clear animal body traces passed as mineral formations), and at least one case of corruption of the peer review process (Nature magazine refusing to publish Sprigg’s letter, only to accept Glaessner’s, with the only difference being Glaessner’s fame).

Yet all that, it was done in perfectly good faith by people that should have known otherwise, but couldn’t. And one might accept a falsehood for the simple fact that one has to accept that falsehood, because one doesn’t realize it’s a falsehood. There’s no need to invoke fraud in there either.

People’s instinctive refusal to rely on their own judgement, “passing the buck” to a Higher Authority and thereby having a much easier life, will suffice. See Revkin’s support for Skeptical Science as a glaring example of this “slave brain” attitude.

Climate Scientists Fight Back (Minus The Climate Scientists)

Funny people, the climate scientists. One would expect, for example, that behind a website sporting a “new rapid response team of climate scientists [that] promises to connect reporters and editors with a team of experts” (in the words of The Guardian), there would be at least the one climate scientist ready to put their face where their internet connection is.

Alas, one would be wrong. For who’s organizing the Climate Rapid Response?

  • Dr. John Abraham, “Associate Professor of Thermal and Fluid Sciences at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering.[1][2] His area of research includes thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid flow, numerical simulation, and energy“(from Wikipedia)
  • Scott A. Mandia,  “Professor of Earth and Space Sciences and Assistant Chair of the Physical Sciences Department [...] He received his M.S. – Meteorology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1990 and his B.S. – Meteorology from University of Lowell in 1987” (from Wikipedia)
  • Dr. Ray J. Weymann, “Staff Member Emeritus and Director Emeritus, Carnegie Observatories” (as far as I can tell, an astronomer)

As far as I can tell, the combined scientific output of the public faces of the Climate Rapid Response Team is zero. Or maybe one, by stretching things a bit.

This is not to criticize anybody, esp. Prof. Mandia, who after a couple of decades of teaching introductory climatology may know a thing or two, so to speak. But in absence of original research by its leaders, we can only expect the  Climate Rapid Response Team to be a campaigning (political) platform, not a scientific one.

Greenfyre Loses The Plot

I’ve just been honored by Greenfyre dedicating his very first blog in a long time to a couple of blog posts in my very successful “1970s Global Cooling Consensus” series. There’s the usual litany of insults, of course, yawn, and that’s fully compatible with the idea that poor Greenfyre and his acolytes have a strong urgency to repeat the same old concepts to themselves, somehow deluding themselves they’ll be stronger concepts.

In the real world, meanwhile, there is a peer-reviewed paper stating “By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972), THE NOTION OF A GLOBAL COOLING TREND WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED, albeit poorly understood“. I wrote that sentence in big bold letters a few days ago, in a post sadly forgotten by all-singing all-dancing shouting, debate-challenged Greenfyre.

Well, if Greenfyre has an argument with that peer-reviewed article, he might want to exchange a couple of words with Connolley himself, thank you.

Oh, the bother.

The Current State Of AGW Science

Whilst blog posts are quite visible for whomever wants to read them, very good comments are more often than not lost unless they appear near the top of the heap. One example is the following extract from note #16 written by commenter Max (“manacker”) at Harmless Sky’s BBC impartiality review post, and IMNSHO one of the best summary of the current state of AGW science:

[...] The scientific method involves four steps geared towards finding truth (with the role of models an important part of steps 2 and 3 below):

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena – usually in the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
  3. Use of the hypothesis to quantitatively predict the results of new observations (or the existence of other related phenomena).
  4. Gathering of empirical evidence and/or performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments, in order to validate the hypothesis, including seeking out data to falsify the hypothesis and scientifically refuting all falsification attempts.

How has this process been followed for AGW?

  1. Warming and other symptoms have been observed. – DONE
  2. CO2 has been hypothesized to explain this warming. – DONE
  3. Models have been created based on the hypothesis and model simulations have estimated strongly positive feedbacks leading to forecasts of major future warming. – DONE
  4. The validation step has not yet been performed; in fact, the empirical data that have been recently observed have demonstrated (1) that the net overall feedbacks are likely to be neutral to negative, and (2) that our planet has not warmed recently despite increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, thereby falsifying the hypothesis that AGW is a major driver of our climate and, thus, represents a serious future threat; furthermore, these falsifications have not yet been refuted scientifically.

Until the validation step is successfully concluded, the “dangerous AGW” premise as promoted by IPCC remains an “uncorroborated hypothesis” in the scientific sense. If the above-mentioned recently observed falsifications cannot be scientifically refuted, it may even become a “falsified hypothesis”.

So the flaw of the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis is not that several scientific organizations have rejected it, it is simply that it has not yet been confirmed by empirical evidence from actual physical observation or experimentation, nor has it successfully withstood falsification attempts, i.e. it has not been validated following the “scientific method” (and has thus not yet become “reliable scientific knowledge”).

And this is a “fatal flaw” (and there certainly is no sound scientific basis for wrecking the global economy with draconian carbon taxes and caps as long as this “fatal flaw” has not been resolved using the scientific method). [...]

Martin Luther, Here I Come!

The “AGW is logically impossible” list (aka Global Warming Miracles) has suddenly jumped to 52 items, doubling in size in a little less than three weeks. As commented at the Italian version of the page, I am now only 43 items away from putting a poster at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Or perhaps I should find out where the bulletin boards are, at the University of East Anglia…

Why The Global Cooling Story Is So Important…In The Anthropogenic Global Warming Debate

On the face of it, the whole debate about “global cooling in the 1970’s” is a matter of despair. If we can’t agree on what has happened less than 40 years ago, and is still remembered by many people, despite the avalanche of available snippets of information, a great deal of them accessible to all via the Internet…then what can we agree on? And what is the meaning of “history” at all??

So the only way to rescue our knowledge of the Renaissance, Ancient Rome or the Pharaos is by establishing that there is something special about the “global cooling the 1970’s debate“, something the unfortunately gets in the way and prevents people from recognizing what has happened within living memory. What is it?

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The story so far…Did the scientists believe in the 1970s that there was global cooling? Yes. A paper by Mitchell in 1972 consolidated the idea. The Peterson, Connolley and Fleck article usually paraded around, it says just as much. Here I quote them again, with some added emphasis for those hard of seeing:

By the early 1970s, when Mitchell updated his work (Mitchell 1972),

THE NOTION OF A GLOBAL COOLING TREND WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED

, albeit poorly understood

In fact, we now know that “the world” was not cooling at the time, but “the Northern Hemisphere” was. Only thing, the scientists in 1972 had no way to know it was just a Northern Hemisphere thing. All of this is actually quite inconsequential wrt the original question (once again: “Did the scientists believe in the 1970s that there was global cooling?“). Anyway: in the published scientific literature, the global cooling idea started in fact evaporating in 1975, and had been replaced by global warming at full speed from 1979 or so (curiously, in sync with the PDO…). The same happened but much more slowly outside the world of research, so most people have been exposed to “global cooling” (actually, to global cooling consensus) well into the 1980s.

I am not saying I have found the last word on this, but the story above makes much more sense than the usual worldwide newsmedia sensationalism conspiracy as suggested by those adamantly opposed to any memory of the global cooling scare. What is it, that they can’t digest, to the point of denying recent history even if it stares at them from the ink of their own writing?

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If one believes in contemporary global warming, the most obvious and logical reply to anybody saying “there was a global cooling consensus in the 1970s” should be “Yes, but…” followed by a long explanation on why the consensus is right this time and was wrong at the time. After all some consensuses have been right in the past, and some wrong.

This would cut off all sorts of sterile polemics and actually contribute to an increase in reputation of the average warmist daring to launch into such an argument, facing reality rather than fudging it. But nobody goes in that direction. Why?

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As far as I can understand it to date, there are two main reasons for such a peculiar behavior: the AGWers’ unhealthy attachment to catastrophism (that forces them into defending absurdist ocean-boiling claims), and their single-minded determination not to allow the mere possibility of anybody uttering any suggestion that anything about AGW could be wrong, unless “it’s worse than we thought!” (that forces them into trying to rewrite history, personally attack any disbeliever, blowing up schoolchildren in comedy videos, and all sorts of nasty stuff).

In the AGWer world it is worse than blasphemous even to try to remember that, not so many years ago, there was indeed a climate worry, only it was a worry about the world getting cooler, rather than warmer. With so many easy-to-spot mirror claims (eg Pakistan floods because of cooling then, Pakistan floods because of warming now) logic dictates that the wall of evidence needed to convince people to really care about AGW becomes taller by the minute. And the one needed to acquire the political will to work against catastrophic climate change, it becomes impassable.

This explains why the discussion about global cooling in the 1970s often degenerates with people stupidly claiming “there was no consensus in the 1970s about an ice age“. Yes, there wasn’t. But who cares? Even a cooling of a few degrees, not exactly an ice age, was presented as very worrying, and potentially as harbinger of catastrophes.

Hence, the “ice age” mention is pointless.

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Like the “AGW is a logical impossibility” page, the discussion about the global cooling consensus in the 1970s on this blog by itself will never be enough to put the antiscientific claims about upcoming catastrophic AGW to rest. At the end of the day, those pages are “just” reminders that we should avoid leaps in the dark, and always be very aware of our hubris.

Anyway…for me at least, these two subjects are evolving into a kind of “litmus test” that will help to tell the honest warmers from the rabid ones. The honest ones, you see, don’t worry about facing reality, including history.