The Best Thing About Joe Romm…

…is his ability to carry people over with him towards the realm of pure silliness.

Of course I still think that Gavin Schmidt should be considered as the best thing that ever happened to climate skeptics. But while Schmidt’s innate ability is to undermine his own arguments to no end (I am sure they guy would lose a debate about UFOs against an astrologer), Romm is becoming an inspiration for a great number of his followers to go along wherever he takes them.

There we have, for example, Tom Friedman’s obsession with praising Dick Cheney (!) and China (who cares about its treatment of journalists, when it’s investing in “clean energy”?). Yes, Friedman believes every word Romm says. Now however the game is reaching new heights, so to speak, with the most incredibly stupid rhetorical attack this side of Philipp II of Macedon threatening Sparta. The attack, that is, against solidly-warmist Scientific American for the one and only reason of having spoken about Judith Curry.

Romm takes a long long road around the problem, of course, but the main trouble (what? An article about Curry?) is never far…suffice it to say that the article’s own author, writing in Climate Central of all places, goes straight to the point, and tries to justify why he “wrote about Judith Curry” and if it is “irresponsible to discuss Curry’s views” (rather than deal with Romm’s empty complaints about online polls and the use of the IPCC AR4 report).

Lemonick keeps hammering on and on about his crystal-clear orthodoxy…of course, Curry’s “valid points” are “often points the climate-science community already agrees with”. And of course, “some of her other points are not very persuasive at all”. So for Lemonick, Judith Curry either talks trivial, or stupid. Tertium non datur. We’re back among miracles.

None of that will ever be enough now that Romm is on the case. And his believers: Salon.com wonders about a “new barbarism” (cue the usual, trite conspiracy theory), whilst the FAIR blog denies there is any (any) “worthy argument” ever made by any climate skeptic (or Judith Curry). So for Jim Naureckas Scientific American did something pretty bad, as “skepticism” is “not a respectable scientific position” because everything the mainstream scientists do is right from day one, and everything the non-mainstream scientists do is wrong by definition. This will go into the miracles list as well.

I tell you, one day Romm or somebody in his coterie will come up with the equivalent of the GIA’s 1996 declaration that the whole of Algerian society (apart from a few people) were to be massacred as some kind of “fake Muslims”. Even Osama bin Laden could not stomach as much, and we only have to wait until even the most rabid AGWers will have their “Zouabri” moment and wake up to the only possible consequence of Romm’s scorched-earth policy: complete and absolute inaction about anything that is climate-related.

And that’s why Romm’s attack against Scientific American is so incredibly stupid.

Romm's "Smoking And Cancer" Fallacy

Joe Romm is not the only one making the absurd analogy between the smoking-lung cancer link and the carbon emissions-global warming connection:

Everyone knows you can’t make a direct connection between carbon emissions and this January in Vancouver which is so damn warm it crushed the record set so long ago that toddlers can’t even remember it. It’s just a coincidence that we are now in the warmest winter globally in the satellite record.

It’s just like that chain-smoking guy who got lung cancer. The fact that he smoked two packs a day is a coincidence. You can’t prove it — so keep smoking, already. Sure the statistics show the warming footprint — Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S. — but individual events are just coincidence. I’m telling you.

Romm’s sarcasm is wholly inappropriate. The  Relative Risk (RR) of developing lung cancer is around 23 for habitual (male) smokers. There is no reasonable “you can’t prove it” argument: indeed, here’s a checklist of what is needed to understand a phenomenon where most data are of a statistical nature:

  1. Epidemiology should find a strong association (i.e. a high value for RR, e.g. above 3)
  2. A very specific disease should be involved
  3. There should be a consistency between studies and with data from laboratory work, disease incidence trends and other sources
  4. The results should be preferably not involve a rewriting of biology and physics

(you can read more about the complexity of dealing with a statistical understanding of the world at this link)

In the case of smoking and lung cancer, every single point of the checklist is fulfilled. In the case of carbon emissions and global warming:

  • Point 1 is still ill-defined – notably, the fork between maximum and minimum expected warming has not decreased between the IPCC TAR and AR4. That’s a far, far cry from a RR of 23…
  • Point 2 is still ill-defined – we are given very generic statements “it’s going to get warmer”, “it will likely be a warm winter”, “the likelihood of heavier snowstorms and rainfalls will increase”, almost value-free if there’s no number attached to them

No need to talk about points 3 and 4. If there’s no well-defined data to work on, everything else is a moot point. All in all, it is sad to see just how misinformed somebody like Romm can be, when one is unwilling to find the time to understand the topic at hand. Hasn’t he got anybody helping investigating his own arguments???

Stress Vs. Credibility: Modern Science At A Crossroads

Steven Wiley talks about Biology, but his words explain the one long-lasting damage Climategate has done to mainstream (AGW) climatology, whatever the outcome of the ongoing investigations: an increasing number of skeptics because emotional outbursts destroy confidence in the very data:

it is essential that we maintain respect for each other in our public discourse. Respecting each other is essential for real scientific dialog. If you dismiss someone’s opinion based on your feelings, you lose your objectivity. But being dismissive and emotional during public discussions also makes you look bad to other people and erodes your credibility.

Ideally, a scientist should be a dispassionate observer of the world who weighs the evidence and provides a thoughtful, well-reasoned judgment. This is clearly an idealistic vision of our profession to which we frequently fall short, mostly because scientists find it difficult to be dispassionate about anything. Yet, we should strive for this ideal if we expect that scientific opinions should be given special consideration in society.

This is important because we want people to believe in the data gathered and evaluated using the scientific method. If people aren’t confident in the people who are gathering the data, they won’t believe in its veracity.

[...] Most people can tell the difference between reasonable assertions and unsupported conjecture. The problem is that when emotional outbursts are injected into a situation, any pretense of objectivity becomes lost.

In these times where science offers the best hope for progress in an increasing complex and fractious world, it would be a real tragedy if the bad behavior of some scientists compromised our reputation as neutral seekers of truth. Whether we like it or not, the behavior of each of us colors the popular perception of scientists as a whole.

There’s going to be a need for a huge amount of “the science is settled” declarations before AGW climatology will start to look again as anything remotely objective, in the eyes of the general public. In the meanwhile, it will remain caged within politics and silly holier-than-thou discussions bordering on fundamentalism. And that’s no place for a scientific discipline.

—-

Here two examples of pretty damaging “emotional outbursts”:

(1) Professor Andrew Watson making the cheap shot of calling Marc Morano an “asshole” at the very end of their BBC Newsnight exchange, i.e. when Morano had no way to respond

(2) The LSE’s Bob Ward going hysterical and literally off on a tangent on Spectator’s Editor Fraser Nelson, during a Sky News debate

Be Good At Christmas – Help Save The AGWer

(Love the WWF)

If the consensus disappears then it will be game over for the AGWer.

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A continuous struggle…

Reality is causing the Global Warming consensus to melt and what remains is thinner and more treacherous. AGWers need the consensus to hunt so they are having to travel further and further to reach their prey. As the consensus melts the area is also opened up to proper debate and free discussion and scientific exploration adding independent thinking to the many threats the AGWers already face.

Adult AGWer with two members of the public (AGWers-in-the-making)

Did you know…

…AGWers shelter the public from independent thinking in the safety of their “the debate is over” dens when they go hunting for skeptics. But as the consensus melts, these dens are collapsing – leaving the public vulnerable to skepticism and exposed to extreme discussion conditions.

…experts predict that Global Warming consensus could disappear completely in summer by 2011.

AGWer adoption/gift/present pack

Adopt an AGWer today…

…by adopting an AGWer you can help us save the AGWer and its home from the effects of reality and free discussion.

We must act now to try and save the AGWer from extinction.

What Ever Remains Of Joe Romm?

Earlier today I posted a comment at Stoat’s “Oh no! More snarking” blog. Little I imagined how quickly the situation would evolve in the expected direction.

This is my first comment (#14):

People defending Romm (and I don’t mean the way Connolley has mentioned the Caldeira miquote “incident”) remind me of that old saying, “He May Be a Bastard, But He’s Our Bastard“.

I have stopped reading Romm long ago when I realized his only goal is to preach to the converted. I might be missing “much on the political aspect of AGW or on the solutions” but then it is a fact that it is very hard to understand when Romm is right and when he is wrong, given that all critical replies have to be searched via Google (this is a problem on RC as well). And to anybody with Usenet 1990’s experience, vitriolic attacks must surely appear supremely boring.

I don’t mind if people want to become the Pope of AGW but given the size of the climate problem, I just do not see how any “useful truth” can be produced by somebody’s utter unhelpfulness in bringing people together rather than split them in “144k vs the damned”.

What can be in Romm’s future, in fact, if not more occasions to “overreach” against more and more people, as soon as they will say anything not of his liking. Just wait…one of this days, it will happen to Connolley too.

And so it is just a matter of time before Romm will only be talking to himself.

And there we went in fact. Romm intervened (#26) in what quickly became a disaster, as pointed out by Connolley in his inline replies.

Basically, Romm has been caught providing “out-of-context quotes“, so much so “that no-one is going to trust [him] any more” (presumably Connolley just referred to not trusting Romm any more about quoting, but there’s little preventing one from expanding the lack of trust to whatever topic about which Romm over-reacts)

Romm has also been found wrong about a remark by Keith Kloor, and invited to stay quiet rather than being impolite. So as somebody keeps claiming, Romm is still “not a liar” but it looks like the only thing saving Romm’s (AGW) soul at this point is his “substance“.

Good luck with that!

Climate Is Weather When It Is Not Climate, Weather Is Climate When It Is Not Weather. Or Not?

or…”Climate Belief In Disarray”

Front-page article today by Andrew C Revkin on the International Herald Tribune about the problem of “selling” any urgency for warming-stopping CO2 emission cuts to the public in a non-warming planet (now that that concept has been accepted even by the hardest climate integralist).

Parts of what is reported by Revkin is interesting as it appears there is no shortage of scientists providing all sorts of opinions on why the world has not been warming as expected. Trouble is, if the recent 10-year-long set of observations showing “non-warming” cannot be used to falsify AGW, then no 10-year-long set of any observation showing anything can be used to demonstrate AGW either.

Therefore there is no meaning in the just-released climate forecasts by the Met Office talking about “the odds of a 15-year pause” after analysing “how often decades with a neutral trend in global mean temperature occurred in computer modelled climate change simulations” (my emphasis).

In fact, some are fond to say that climate is a 30-year-long average of weather. Well, if that is true, all we should be scientifically able to talk about with any amount of knowledge, is the climate trends for… 1979.

Everything else is (interesting, but just) speculation.

ps Dr Mojib Latif says he “gives about 200 talks to the public, business leaders and officials each year“. There are 365 days, in most years. At what times during the year is then “climate science” studied at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, Germany? And shall we worry about the absence of private life for AGW scientist-advocates?

pps Shame to Revkin for publishing this absurdist remark by Joe Romm: “We need all the unmuffled warnings we can get“. Why? Because Romm is a known “muffler” himself.

How Much Wrong Can Joe Romm Be? That Moon Hoax Again…

I have already blogged some time ago about the flawed comparison between AGW skeptics and people believing in the Moon landing hoax. It takes just a sentence: the Apollo mission are historical events (i.e.: they belong to the past, they have already happened), global warming is a forecast projection (i.e.: it is about the future, it has not happened as yet).

Or to explain it the way of Donald Rumsfeld: arguing if an apple that is already on the ground, is on the ground, is absolutely different than arguing if apple that is still on the tree, will or will not eventually be on the ground.

With the usual bottom scraping and blatant headline-following that characterizes his blog, it is now Joe Romm’s turn to recycle the same logic-free pontificating, on the back of the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo lunar landing. Only this time, the point appears to be about an “overall conspiracy“.

According to Romm in fact, claims for a “large conspiracy” would be needed to keep AGW skeptical arguments alive, just as they are fundamental to all Moon-hoax accusations. Citing Harold Ambler by way of Anthony Watts, Romm writes:

Watts approvingly reprints denier manifestos that claim global warming “is the biggest whopper ever sold to the public in the history of humankind” — see here. As I’ve written, such a statement is anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense. It accuses the scientific community broadly defined of conspiring in deliberate fraud

But that is simply not true: it is just a form of reductio ad absurdum (as if one needed any more evidence of Romm’s inability to properly argue a point without infantile rhetorical attempts).

——————–

In general, the fact that people sell a “whopper” does not necessarily mean they are knowingly participating in a conspiracy and/or committing fraud: otherwise, jails the world over would be full of astrologers, wizards, sorcerers, and most probably experts in homeopathy and chiropractic practitioners.

And very pertinent to the AGW skepticism case is that the history of Science is full of examples where quite large “whoppers” have been “sold to the public” by scientists building up and then defending a flawed consensus. Perfectly honest scientists, one can safely assume, with a deeply-held belief that their consensual understanding of the world was the right one.

We know now that such a “consensus” attitude has hindered the scientific careers of scientists, among them Galileo Galilei, Alfred L Wegener, J Harlan Bretz, Sir Gilbert WalkerJohann Ludwig Wilhelm Thudichum, Reg Sprigg. Recent Nobel Prize winners Barry Marshall and J. Robin Warren may have been just lucky to see their consensus-busting findings recognized whilst still alive.

Still, the fact that scientists fall repeatedly and across the centuries in the trap of “consensus” needs no conspiracy. It cannot be interpreted in any other way than as demonstration that scientists are human beings and that like all other human beings they introduce their subjective feelings, emotions, tribal drive, and who knows what else in the purportedly objective scientific process.

Nobody needs a “large conspiracy” to explain why it is so difficult to publish anything that does not include the customary “this may be caused by global warming” statement. All it takes is a large enough amount of scientists and science-related people convinced of the “truth” of Anthropogenic Global Warming, determined to read and to support only whatever confirms their prejudices.

The “consensus” behavior in AGW is exacerbated further by so many AGWers living under the impression that they are saving the planet. Under those circumstances, the esprit de corps is understandably as strong as it can be (this explains the existence of anti-skeptic rants such as Romm’s).

——————–

All in all, it is deeply ironical to find that it is Romm’s statement the one “anti-scientific and anti-science in the most extreme sense“, deep in its core. Because if there is one thing everybody in the scientific community should be well aware of, it is that whatever they will tell the public, it is likely to be wrong one way or another. As per this Bertrand Russell quote:

Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man. Every careful measurement in science is always given with the probable error… every observer admits that he is likely wrong, and knows about how much wrong he is likely to be.

Nothing to Show: AGWers' Big Stumbling Block

UPDATE NOV 29: William M Connolley says he is not impressed by Romm’s list either

There’s an underlying feeling of desperation in Joe Romm (ClimateProgress)’s “What are the near-term climate Pearl Harbors?, a list “of what might drive action strong enough to avoid the worst“.

The list includes the Arctic “ice-free before 2020“, “superstorms like Katrina“, “a heatwave as bad as Europe’s 2003” , and the 2012 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (perish the thought it might be less catastrophiliac than the Fourth Assessment Report…).

Note that Romm’s blog has been echoed by Heliophage, on Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth, and in Nature’s Climate Feedback. An unwise move, if you ask me: one wonders what people would make if they knew that those claiming to work towards saving Planet Earth, are actively hoping disasters of all sorts befall upon us.

Talk about striving for unpopularity!!!

The desperation is evident in the fact that a person allegedly as well-informed on climate stuff as Romm, comes up with wholly inappropriate examples. Katrina was a big storm but not more superstorm than other hurricanes (Romm even acknowledges this point), and the destruction of New Orleans was evidently a matter of bad engineering and incompetent relief management. Didn’t he have anything better to put forward?

Likewise for the European heatwave of 2003. And even more importantly: neither Katrina, nor the European heatwave, can be linked to Climate Change and/or Global Warming. And so if, say, another heatwave will materialize, it will tell us absolutely nothing about Climate Change and Global Warming.

Actually, looking at the list of 9 items posted by Romm, the only ones that may provide ammunitions to the AGW cause may be the ice-free Arctic, and “accelerated mass loss in Greenland“.

Most likely, Romm is simply and perhaps unwittingly acknowledging the fact that for all the huffing and all the puffing, there is very little that AGWers can show to support their claims.

Look at when Revkin (a journalist I am grudgingly but steadily learning to respect) makes a very clear point to Romm:

As I [Revkin] wrote in 2006 (”Yelling Fire on a Hot Planet“) problems that get people’s attention (and cause them to change) are “soon, salient and certain” and the dangerous aspects of human-forced climate disruption remain none of those things

In other words, the dangers of AGW are not about to happen, they are not strikingly conspicuous, and they are not sure or inevitable.

And what has Romm got to reply to that? Very little. Actually, almost nothing: he spells out some kind of humanitarian deathwish, a desire for a big climate crisis; makes a critical point against journalists (who doesn’t); and decries how he understands things but most people don’t:

Multi-hundred-billion-dollar-sized government action happens only when there is a very, very big crisis [...] labeled as such by very serious people who are perceived as essentially nonpartisan opinion leaders [...] bad things must be happening to regular people right now [...]

Better journalism would help. [...] We simply don’t have a critical mass of credible nonpartisan opinion leaders who understand the nature of our energy and climate problem.

Revkin’s “soon, salient and certain“, by the way, is a quote originally from “Helen Ingram, a professor of planning, policy and design at the University of California, Irvine.

Won’t Prof. Ingram be excited upon hearing that salience is not a problem, but persons not being bright enough is…

The supreme pinnacle of irony, in the Romm/Revkin exchange, lies in the former’s misunderstanding of the latter’s point about “certainty“. In 2006, Revkin noted that:

Projections of how patterns of drought, deluges, heat and cold might change are among the most difficult, and will remain laden with huge uncertainties for a long time to come [...]

While scientists say they lack firm evidence to connect recent weather to the human influence on climate, environmental campaigners still push the notion [...]

Romm’s reply? Another accusation, refusing to acknowledge Revkin’s first point (emphasis in the original):

You [Revkin] understand this but you don’t convey this to your readers: Doing nothing or doing little eliminates the uncertainty.

Romm’s near-term climate Pearl Harbors post, actually, does look suspiciously as a way of “pushing a notion” the non-scientific notion of connecting recent weather to (future?) climate change.

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The above doesn’t look very promising for the AGW movement.

I am actually starting to think that the problem is in the fact that most AGWer haven’t grasped the nature of the issue they are concerned about. And so they use the tools learned to protect pandas or clean up the Hudson river. And for most intents and purposed, they fail: because, as Revkin has realized, Anthropogenic Global Warming, aka Climate Change, truly is a completely different beast.