Tag Archives: Roger Pielke Jr.

Socrates, Or Pointing The Way For The Future Of Climate Science

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system

Actually, it was December 2009 when I wrote in the pages of the Spectator (UK):

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:

"BEST global surface temperature estimates. Gray bars show what BEST says are the 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each datapoint"

And what do we understand about the future? Patrick Frank in Skeptic.com’s Reading Room:

"The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 showing the physical uncertainty of the projected temperature trend when including ±10.1% cloud error (light shading), or the uncertainty in greenhouse gas forcing (dark shading). Inset: A close-up view of the first 20 years of the A2 projection and the uncertainty limits."

In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).

For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.

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Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing – it isn’t.

Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:

Socrates was wise in that he knew the he knew nothing, whereas others were unaware of their own ignorance.

If and when such a realization will become widespread, only then climate science will be able to mature away from silly manipulations, towards the approach so nicely described by Professor Sir Bernard Lovell to David Whitehouse:

One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

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

It's All CO2! It's All AGW!

There is a beautiful discussion going about “Hockey Stick Redux” (HSR), the Oct 1 entry of brand-new blog “Cruel Mistress – Being Human on a Harsh Planet” by Dr Ben Hale (I reached it by following Roger Pielke Jr.’s recommendation to visit “Cruel Mistress).

And that’s a great blog name, by the way…finally somebody recognizes how Earth is not made of fragile crystals and china…

Anyway…the beauty of the discussion is three-fold.

(1) Ben Hale is no AGW skeptic, and yet he has not imposed any censorship, whimsical or otherwise (by the way: let’s welcome Ben to the Joe Romm (dis-)Appreciation Society! – with Romm now openly toying with Fascist character-assassination techniques).

(2) For the time being, HSR is a place where AGW believers and skeptics can exchange disagreements rather than outright insults. One suspects, that is because of the absence of the “usual suspects”, the clique of self-appointed AGW True Believers, the Osama bin Climate‘s fond of censorship and coprolalia

(3) The HSR comment area is the best place where to see AGW skepticism at work, with plenty of nuances, disagreements, sentences at the opposite ends of some scales on the part of people that only agree that the AGW brouhaha is a wild overstatement. If that doesn’t disprove the cretin label of “Denialists”, I don’t know what will.

There are plenty of gems among the HSR comments (also some funny ones I have already written about). For example there is a great explanation by a PhysicsGuy (Oct 3, 10:31am) of what peer-review is and is not, and how it all went wrong regarding AGW, ending with the following:

To summarize, a pro-AGW paper being peer reviewed by other climate scientists is probably (like Briffa appears to have been) being considered favorably because of its results, is being reviewed by reviewers who know and often have co-authored with the paper’s writer, likely contains undisclosed data treatment that influences the result, is being reviewed by reviewers who do not have the mathematical background to spot subtle statistical errors, and is being judged on “conformity to accepted practices in the discipline” in a discipline that is evolving so quickly that the “accepted practices” themselves are not well validated.

I’m not sure that this kind of peer review means what many of us appear to think it does.

And now for one of my own little contributions. I have had an exchange with Ben Hale about my use of the slogan “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW” as the defining one for the current scientific consensus/dogma on AGW.

Ben replied:

Are reputable people actually saying this? Even with my basic and flawed understanding of AGW, this is expressly not what people are saying. I call straw man.

That led me to elaborate more on the topic (see here and here and here). I am putting it all together below.

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The overwhelming importance in contemporary mainstream climatology of CO2/GHG warming, and of the human contribution to it, can be read in a Jan 27, 2005 blog (“What If … the “Hockey Stick” Were Wrong?” by stefan) on Real Climate:

The main reason for concern about anthropogenic climate change is not that we can already see it (although we can). The main reason is twofold.
(1) Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly in the atmosphere due to human activity. This is a measured fact not even disputed by staunch “climate skeptics”.
(2) Any increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will change the radiation balance of the Earth and increase surface temperatures. This is basic and undisputed physics that has been known for over a hundred years.

The key words are main, concern, anthropogenic climate change, due to human activity. That is, RealClimate and (by simple logical extension) the scientific consensus on Climate Change, are concerned because human activities are increasing ghg’s (and especially, CO2) in the atmosphere.

What was the IPCC established for, after all, if not to investigate the warming effects of CO2/GHGs emissions from human activities? Here’s from the FAR (1990) as per Wikipedia:

…emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases: CO2, methane, CFCs and nitrous oxide. These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface…

The key words there are human activities, increasing the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, additional warming.

Hence: “It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!”…a slogan that has all the defects of a slogan (e.g. simplification), and yet conveys the two most important aspects of the AGW scare and dogma. “Most important” by a long shot.

Let’s look at how long a shot, from a purely logical point of view. What would happen if human activities would not be emitting CO2/GHGs? There would be no IPCC. What would happen had it been thought there were no AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming? There would be no IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are necessary conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

What would happen if the only driver for climate change were human emissions of CO2/GHGs? There would still be an IPCC. What would happen if the only climate phenomenon of note were AGW? There would still be an IPCC.

That is, CO2/GHGs and AGW are sufficient conditions for the whole IPCC/AGW scientific consensus to exist.

Therefore, since CO2/GHG emissions and AGW are (together) necessary and sufficient for the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus to exist, the IPCC and the AGW scientific consensus are for all intents and purposes exclusively dedicated to CO2/GHG emissions and AGW.

“It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW”. QED.

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That’s why, as remarked by another commenter “MrPete”, the “primary policy push” is about GHGs, and in particular about CO2.

In a saner world, in fact, we would have gone a long way already to eliminate that other, and shall I say even more established source of climate change and untold numbers of respiratory diseases and deaths, namely soot. And especially the soot generated by primitive cooking stoves.

It is one of the biggest tragedies of the AGW consensus: we could have in a month a 10-year worldwide plan to physically eliminate all human emissions of soot at a relatively minor cost…look instead how many person-years are being wasted for a Copenhagen deal that everybody well knows it will be ineffectual and costly at best.

But what can we do? After all…It’s all CO2! It’s all AGW!

Prayer to God: on the Climate Debate…

…please protect me from my friends. I can defend myself from my enemies

(original quote attributed to Voltaire, Claude-Louis-Hector de Villars.  or Jean Hérault, sieur de Gourville)

Just to point out a disastrous attempt at demonstrating the lack of scientific consensus about Global Warming. The attempt, by a group including

Dr. Frederick Seitz, now deceased, and […] now led by Dr. Arthur Robinson and his son, Dr. Noah Robinson, both members of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM)

is torn apart decisively and conclusively by Gary J. Whittenberger Ph.D. in this week’s eSkeptic, the weekly newsletter the Skeptics Society.

As Roger Pielke, Jr. wrote a few days ago:

What is it about the climate change debate that causes previously excellent scholars to go absolutely insane and disregard all standards of research integrity? 

Yes, one should always call things for what they are, independently from which side the person saying them is. Otherwise there is no chance to learn anything, and it’s not even a debate, but some kind of stupid shouting match.

Hats off to William Connolley then for doing the same with Naomi Oreskes et al.’s  “wrong, or overblown” attack against William A.(Bill) Nierenberg.