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  1. A very thoughtful post, Rasmus. Thank you for this.

    Comment by Kate — 12 Feb 2012 @ 2:05 PM

  2. Lest we forget, climate modeler Vladimir V. Alexandrov was remanded into Soviet embassy custody in March 1985.

    He has not been seen since.

    Comment by Russell — 12 Feb 2012 @ 2:59 PM

  3. Anybody who makes death threats for any reason is an evil asshole. No question.

    Death threats by individuals is not government oppression. In making the comparison to government oppression you skip over the fact that many climate scientists are government funded. Many climate scientists advocate government action against people. Not persuading people to change their ways, but persuading government to force people to change their ways. Or punish them if they don’t. Try suing someone for harm from CO2 emissions in a court of law, based on facts and not any special laws and see how far you get. Whereas heavy metal poisoning in your water would be a legal cakewalk in comparison, based on facts without any special laws. Your analogy of government oppression is at best hollow, at worst hypocritical.

    “the terrorist also disrespected climate science”

    All your fine words against propaganda and then you mention that a murderer, a terrorist (but I repeat myself) “disrespected climate science”.

    If you want the conversation to be about facts and calm and rational and free from propaganda, don’t engage in it yourself. Don’t ratchet up the rhetoric yourself. Color me not impressed by your objection to propaganda and rhetortic.

    Consider this fellow:

    “It is time we had a law against climate change denial, in the same way we have laws against holocaust denial. Both of these things can cause real harm to others by propogating untruths.”

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/2011/06/07/emails-reveal-nature-of-attacks-on-climate-scientists/comment-page-1/#comment-7614

    [Response: No-one here is calling for such a thing, and we are repeatedly on record as supporting the idea that the best way to oppose bad information is with better information.- gavin]

    Oppression and aggression have nothing to do with what you believe on any issue. And everything to do with the person you are. Aggressive people use arguments to justify their aggression, but their arguments are not the cause of their aggression. They are.

    Comment by Antonio Lorusso — 12 Feb 2012 @ 3:32 PM

  4. I think comparing death threads with the Soviet Union oppression is way off base. Western governments guarantee freedom of speech and prosecute people who utter death threads. Whereas in Soviet Union all levels of government, law enforcement and the legal system worked hand in hand to oppress freedom of speech.

    The situation of climate scientists is in no way similar to those who had to suffer under Soviet oppression.

    Comment by Michael — 12 Feb 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  5. Freedom of speech does not involve the IPCC chairman making inaccurate, incorrect statements which can affect government decisions without being held accountable!

    [Response: Actually freedom of speech allows anyone to say almost anything, whether true or not - and this facility is often taken up even by politicians who can affect government decisions. On the other hand, people have the same freedom to call BS on inaccurate statements whoever they are by. - gavin]

    Comment by Bob B — 12 Feb 2012 @ 3:56 PM

  6. Rasmus, while I appreciate the sentiment, I’m not sure how profitable it is to compare the denialati to soviets, communists, fascists or nazis. The fact is that these idiots demonstrate that despite the profound economic and even social revolutions attributable to science, scientific thinking has only penetrated a tiny bit into the human psyche. For most of the human species, ideological purty–whether that ideology be political, religious or economic–trumps truth.

    Ideological purity has the advantage that adherents can tell each other the same comforting lies and project the same fears onto the same enemies–forming a basis for social cohesion. Science offers truth, and truth is often neither comfortable nor comforting. It is, however, the only antidote to the opiates that currently blind the majority of humanity to both the perils that threaten them as well as the beauty that surrounds them.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2012 @ 4:16 PM

  7. Here is a photo of Alexandrov on page 10.
    http://www.foia.cia.gov/docs/DOC_0000284025/DOC_0000284025.pdf

    The FBI seems to think they are experts on nuclear winter. Who knew? They cite a really ignorant journalist’s book in an FBI white paper. The anonymous FBI “expert” even mischaracterizes the journalist’s dumb book. The book cites a KGB defector who claims that nuclear winter was a KGB hoax. an old KGB guy is what passes for an authoritative FBI source on climate science? It makes me want to put my head through a wall every time I think of it.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2011/06/higher-education-and-national-security.html

    Russian scientists aren’t the big stooges some people claim. That’s why Pravda has to get a 9-11 Truther to write about climate science and Russia Today has to get John O’Sullivan, Pat Michaels, and some other weirdo from England with big hair named Piers Corbyn.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEmUS7PAWFw

    Comment by Snapple — 12 Feb 2012 @ 5:28 PM

  8. Free speech must include the freedom to offend, else the oppressors can simply declare speech they don’t like – that insults them or threatens their continued domination – to be offensive, and hence to be outlawed.
    Free speech must include the freedom to lie, else the oppressors can declare our truths to be untrue, and silence the truth. All voices must be heard, and the truth must join the race “where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat”.

    Free speech must include the freedom to hate, else the hate-worthy can hide their crimes and escape justice. Or else hate can fester in resentment, hidden and secret, its fallacies and errors left unchallenged. Wickedness thrives in darkness. Rumours whispered uncontrolled.

    That does not mean it is good, or wise, or right to say these things. That does not mean we should pass over it in silence. We have free speech so that we may expose it, challenge it, offend it, hate it ourselves. And know that they may feel the same about us because of the way we respond.

    People fear to speak their minds in public, self-censoring, for this is their oppressors dream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FkB4uiizVo

    Comment by Laogai — 12 Feb 2012 @ 5:41 PM

  9. If you really study how the Russian political operatives manipulate mass opinion, it’s not so different than what some politicians and their operatives do here. They put lies in the paper and incite the public so that “the people” demand government action. Climategate is exactly like Russian kompromat.

    Comment by Snapple — 12 Feb 2012 @ 5:42 PM

  10. Correction–the FBI doesn’t actually say nuclear winter is a KGB hoax. The book they cite has a KGB defector make this claim. Still, the FBI white paper seems to accept the defector’s view. I complained and the FBI guy said that I should complain about the KGB instead of the FBI. Well, I was complaining about both of them.

    The FBI white paper doesn’t really have an accurate history of the nuclear winter research at all. It’s a kind of smear of “gullible” climate scientists who are supposedly duped by the KGB.

    I told an FBI guy who bragged about this paper that it was ignorant. He told me that I couldn’t prove that nuclear winter was true. Well, gee, maybe the FBI should get out a little more and see what the government and scientists say.

    Comment by Snapple — 12 Feb 2012 @ 5:48 PM

  11. Good to finally see some decent climate reporting in Teknisk Ukeblad, as it has catered heavily towards denialism over the past few years. The readers are not happy, it seems, as the comments section is filled with drivel from the usual suspects. Norway probably has more deniers per capita than any other nation on earth. Being a major exporter of fossil fuels probably explains some.

    Comment by esop — 12 Feb 2012 @ 5:59 PM

  12. Gavin, you can speak freely but also be held accountable for what you say, especially if there is a huge financial loss linked directly to your free speech.

    [Response: Your imagining of the power of words from climate scientists is flattering, but not tightly coupled to reality. But here's a hypothetical for you though: Imagine for an instant that mainstream climate science is basically correct, and that the costs of climate change in future decades are large and dramatic. How would you suggest we 'hold accountable' the people who kept stating loudly (within the earshot of politicians!), that climate change science was a 'hoax' that was not worth paying attention to? I'm not interested in arguing with you whether you think this hypothetical is likely, but I am interested in what mechanisms you have in mind for this accountability. - gavin]

    Comment by Bob B — 12 Feb 2012 @ 5:59 PM

  13. The annoying FBI official is in Florida. He has a newsletter that offers prophylactic national security advice to gullible climate scientists so they won’t be duped by the Russians who somehow put propaganda in Ambio. I don’t know what the Russian disinformation in Ambio was because the FBI kept that part secret. They just say a Swedish journal, but they mean Ambio.

    If there is propaganda in Ambio, just come right out with it and tell what the propaganda is. That’s what correcting disinformation is all about–telling what is true.

    I am all for good national security information, but this isn’t it.

    The FBI writes: “”The KGB had the report published in a Swedish journal. In the intelligence world, this is called disinformation.”

    Somehow, the FBI could never say what the disinformation was or what the Swedish journal was. Still, they are hinting it is Ambio. You can look at the book Comrade J and see what is going on.

    Here is his newsletter and contact information on the lower left. The top item links to the white paper. Read it and my criticisms.
    http://www.partneringforcompliance.org/documents/FBI_Tampa_CI_Strategic_Partnership_0711.pdf

    The FBI should fix this white paper on the nuclear winter “history.”

    If you know about nuclear winter, maybe you can ask him some good questions so he will see through this silly paper that is an embarrassment for a security agency. The white paper’s big source is nothing but a dumb book by a journalist who hasn’t researched the topic. If nobody in Moscow believed in nuclear winter, how come Gorbachev talked about it when he made a weapons treaty?

    Comment by Snapple — 12 Feb 2012 @ 6:25 PM

  14. Gavin, it depends if you are in a position of power or authority. Certainly someone working at NASA would be held to a higher standard. If someone like yourself for instance worked for a drug company, say J&J and you stated a drug was safe and ended up killing someone, you would be liable. If the Chairman of the IPCC made a statement of fact in his capacity and it turns out to be false and there is a financial loss, he should be held accountable. Right now there is no accountability at all in “Climate science”
    I had to argue with my son’s teacher some time back that certain glaciers would not disappear by 2035. So there is now a whole class of children repeating climate garbage. In many industries someone prominent like the IPCC chair would be fired. But like I said there is NO accountability in climate science!

    [Response: Nonsense. First off, no 'huge financial decision' was ever made based on that single line in the (3000 page) IPCC report, and the amount of media attention to that error (and tedious repetitions of the point in blog comments everywhere) demonstrates plenty of the consequences of making mistakes in such a high profile document. However, many glaciers will disappear by 2035, so I hope you were properly contextual and specific in your arguments - though frankly I'm unaware of any school curriculum that ever included that factoid. But you didn't answer my point - so try again: If someone claims that the science is a hoax but in fact it turns out to very real and very impactful, what 'accountability' should be applied? Surely you must be claiming that all untrue statements from public figures should be held to the same standard? In which case what should happen? - gavin]

    Comment by Bob B — 12 Feb 2012 @ 6:38 PM

  15. So Gavin, when is the sky going to fall exactly? When will your models actually be testable? Please define impactful. It is impactful right now that so much money was lost on the carbon trading markets. I am waiting for the lawsuits to start.

    [Response: Well technically the sky has been falling for a while now... And the models are testable, and have been tested since the beginning. But you still didn't answer my question. I imagine any readers of this exchange will notice and draw their own conclusions. - gavin]

    Comment by Bob B — 12 Feb 2012 @ 7:13 PM

  16. when is the sky going to fall exactly?

    The sky falls all the time, Bob, it’s called precipitation, or more precisely, rain and snow. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon your preference or perspective) we live on a planet where carbon dioxide doesn’t precipitate out of the ‘sky’.

    Can you tell us why that is, Bob?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 12 Feb 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  17. Yes, Gavin, readers are drawing conclusions from the objections some are posing here. This is a question I’m hopeful of living long enough to see answered – where accountability resides when it comes to folks like Inhofe, Monckton, Wegman, Mc & Mc et al. I am interested in hearing your answer BobB, if it turns out that the delay in addressing mitigation and adaptation results in immense costs on every level, will you blame the collapse on science? Lax risk assessment by insurers? Misdirection from your financial advisor? “Natural variation”? Or are you assuming it can’t create any problems in your lifetime?

    CAPTCHA wonders and howebru

    Comment by flxible — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:06 PM

  18. Bob B., you must have missed these:
    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    Also, do you realize that 27% more of the planet’s land area is in drought than 30 years ago. That doesn’t concern you?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:08 PM

  19. The first RealClimate post where I feel the need to complain :)
    The thick feather effect around the pictures is a bad artistic choice in my opinion. It makes them visually unstable, the viewer’s eye feels like sliding off and grabbing for something bold and sharp again, like the text. Sorry for being smug and artsy-fartsy :) Love the site.

    Comment by Ole — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:22 PM

  20. Gavin, I asked you to define impactful in your question. I can point to billions of dollars spent based on CAGW predictions. No one here can point to “PROOF” there has been any impact from AGW.

    [Response: Oh well, it was fun for a while. Now you are back to trolling, which kind of precludes any kind of grown-up discussion. Have a nice evening. - gavin]

    Comment by Bob B — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:30 PM

  21. Folks, look up the “Bob B” userid and climate.

    That userid has been used to flood discussions to the point everyone else gives up — it’s been done for years now.

    E.g. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2008/08/26/best-of-i-am-so-damn-sick-of-climate-skeptic-radio-callers/

    That’s the Bob B approach to free speech.

    Eschew. And bless you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:33 PM

  22. This is an interesting and informative article – kudos to Rasmus.

    A couple of typos, though: ‘prerecuisite’ should be ‘prerequisite’, and ‘discource’ should be ‘discourse’.

    Comment by VM — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:46 PM

  23. I grew up the other side of that Iron Curtain, where the state religion was atheism (dialectic materialism), which “scientific” basis of the Marxism and Leninism ultimately lead to the inevitable victory of the proletariat’s revolution. Perhaps this experience made me to be very sensitive to the abuse of science as a means to make scores in ideological disputes (evolution disproving religion or climate science dictating our lifestyle choices are obvious examples). I would just as vehemently oppose religious people to assume monopoly on morale.

    Nürnberg type trials don’t strike me as particular good examples of defending free speech and trials could go both ways. How about a trial on behalf to those millions who die of hunger as a consequence of growing use of biofuels.

    As far as I understand, the so call deniers are not immune to death threats either, which tells me that there are idiots on both sides of this debate.

    Comment by Balazs — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:48 PM

  24. Speech must be free because society needs the fullest expression of information in the marketplace of ideas. This talk of accountability is a transparent attempt to stifle freedom of expression. The Iraq War cost the US taxpayer more than a trillion dollars — should we require those who supported that war to pay a trillion dollars to those who opposed it? Of course not!

    In like fashion, scientists present their best judgement on the issues before them, and so long as they do so in good faith, the notion of accountability is inapplicable to them.

    The only time that accountability applies to speech is when a person makes statements in a legally defined forum with legally defined standards of truth. If a person lies in such a context, they are subject to various sanctions including obstruction of justice and perjury. In the absence of such a legally defined context, claims of accountability amount to harassment.

    There is, however, a softer criterion. I would never tolerate sanctions against these despicable liars who deny climate change, nor would I tolerate any threats against their well-being. But I strongly encourage the opprobrium that they so richly deserve. It’s perfectly appropriate to call Mr. Monkton a charlatan and Mr. Inhofe a prostitute to the oil industry.

    This applies in both directions. Denialists are welcome to hold science in contempt and to verbally abuse scientists in public statements. But denialists who attempt to threaten or harass scientists (such as the Virginia Attorney General) are contemptible, as are those who defend these people.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 12 Feb 2012 @ 8:56 PM

  25. Hi Gavin,

    “First off, no ‘huge financial decision’ was ever made based on that single line in the (3000 page) IPCC report”.

    That 3000 page IPCC report is the basis of all renewable subsidies (including biofuels). Developed countries already devoted significant resources to wind turbines, solar panels etc. Several countries already set up carbon trading schemes that largely became the source of vast corruption. All these action was the result of politicians “listening” to climate scientist.

    [Response: Not really. These decisions were made by policy makers taking science into account, but they were not dictated by any of the science, nor by the scientists as a whole (obviously individual scientists have personal policy preferences like everyone else). Climate science has correctly (IMO) highlighted (for instance) the role of increasing CO2 emissions in causing climate change that will likely be deleterious in years and decades to come. Policymakers can choose to act (in the EU) to try and reduce the emissions, or not (in the US). The idea that climate scientists suddenly deprive policymakers of their free will is a little odd. - gavin]

    Comment by Balazs — 12 Feb 2012 @ 9:04 PM

  26. Bob B:
    What about the $50 billion dollars in damage from extreme weather in the USA alone last year? Who should be held responsible? As these real damages continue to accumulate when will you admit that Gavin’s models have been to optimistic, as they were designed to be. The deniers are responsible for these damages.

    It is a scandal that scientists are threatened by politicians and nothing is done. Good luck to all on the Real Climate team!

    Comment by michael sweet — 12 Feb 2012 @ 9:10 PM

  27. Bob B., what legal theory do you imagine exists which holds all speech to create a contract? I’ve never heard of even such a theory much less an actual element of law. (Either statutory or common.)

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 12 Feb 2012 @ 9:12 PM

  28. “It’s perfectly appropriate to call Mr. Monkton a charlatan and Mr. Inhofe a prostitute to the oil industry.”

    Just as a thought experiment, how many years of no warming would justify calling James Hansen a charlatan.

    The sad part of the story is that I am convinced that warming will resume sooner or later, but the rapid backslash as a result of overblowing climate change in the last 20 years will be difficult over turn. I think, climate change was prematurely over hyped and by the time the climate science community sorts out uncertainties nobody will listen.

    Comment by Balazs — 12 Feb 2012 @ 9:15 PM

  29. Gavin, you asked me a question and I asked you to clarify as to what meant impactful? I don;t believe you can answer with any real impactful results from climate skeptics, but I can point to direct $$ results from rampant CAGW. And yes since you can’t answer a simple question and have to answer with Ad homs I am out of here.

    [Response: Impactful. I can't find a definition for "rampant CAGW" though. - gavin]

    Comment by Bob B — 12 Feb 2012 @ 9:49 PM

  30. So you think Skeptics don’t get threatened?Didn’t Santer want to beat the crap out of Pat Michaels?And why shouldn’t skeptics be allowed free speech instead of the warmists trying to silence them?

    Comment by Billy — 12 Feb 2012 @ 9:51 PM

  31. Sorry, but trying to paint climate scientists as persecuted victims won’t wash. There are crazies on all sides who make death threats – who knows, one day one of them may even be crazy enough to carry it out (and it could be a nutcase from either side). I am not making light of death threats or condoning them in any way.

    But to present climate scientists as a persecuted group bravely speaking up in spite of assaults on their freedom of speech – please. Millions if not billions have been spent on research grants, conferences, the IPCC etc etc etc. The media has latched on to climate change and it is taught in schools, climate scientists have the ear of the most powerful people in the world (even if they don’t seem to take what they are hearing very seriously). On the other hand, those of us who are sceptical about what we see as alarmist hype get branded “denialists” or “deniers”.

    Sounds like you are trying to make people feel sorry for you now that the tide of public is turning.

    Comment by Annabelle — 12 Feb 2012 @ 11:35 PM

  32. Balazs: Well, I believe there was a recent study that said you need about 17 years of data to establish a trend in climate.

    And even then, I’d only consider calling Dr Hansen a “charlatan” if he stuck with his current predictions of imminent strong warming and never once changed his opinion, despite evidence to the contrary.

    In the (extremely) unlikely event we got a whole 17 years of stagnant or declining temps, I’d expect Dr Hansen to be among those scientists trying to figure out what was going on with the climate, and proposing better models to explain what was happening. In that case, he’d definitely not be a charlatan.

    In any event, I don’t think he’d come anywhere close to Lord Monckton’s position of being proven to be wrong in nearly every statement he made to support his position.

    Comment by Bern — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:32 AM

  33. > Death threats by individuals is not government oppression.

    It quickly becomes that when the individuals gain political power. Is James Inhofe an individual? Is Ken Cuccinelli an individual? Are any of the Republican presidential candidates individuals?

    Currently they are stopped by a functioning judiciary. Let’s hope it stays that way.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:16 AM

  34. It seems clear enough to this casual observer that Bob B isn’t going to answer Gavin’s question.

    But both Bob B and Gavin seem to be missing one pertinent point: isn’t is relevant, for the issue of accountability, whether the statements in question were, or were not, made in good faith?

    I for one don’t see how it could not be relevant…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:22 AM

  35. Just as a thought experiment, how many years of no warming would justify calling James Hansen a charlatan.

    More years than there will be, as you yourself know damn well too:

    The sad part of the story is that I am convinced that warming will resume sooner or later,

    Yep, the house wins in the end. Get statistics literate. Your intuition already is.

    …and you might want to address the ‘good faith’ issue when comparing Hansen and Monckton.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:32 AM

  36. Intimidation by violence (or the threat of violence) or by harassment (legal or otherwise), and the use of the repeated Big Lie are both good old Fascist techniques–all of which makes it more ironic that the likes of Rush Limbaugh have long ago played the (eco)-”Nazi” card.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:05 AM

  37. In the UK, Phil Woolas was ousted from Parliament and banned from running for office for three years, and subject to criminal punishment, for knowingly uttering falsehoods about another candidate before the election.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8114108/Labour-MP-Phil-Woolas-loses-seat-over-election-lies.html

    How refreshing. If we had this law in America, do you think there would be more than or fewer than a hundred new by-elections in Congress?

    Comment by Jaynicks — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:08 AM

  38. I don’t believe that society is prepared to make significant sacrifices in the short term, and the fossil industries take advantage of this. People’s beliefs tend to align neatly with their interests, and in the absence of indisputable proof (and to non-scientists that means the equivalent of a ten-foot rise in sea level inundating South Beach) it is more “convenient” for people to use cheap oil, natural gas and coal.

    Comment by Mike H — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:07 AM

  39. and related to this topic, there was a study done by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire where they measured americans knowledge about the polar regions and also their concern..ie global warming. Conclusion there was a very modest improvement in people’s knowledge about the poles but absolutely no change in peoples concern about them which putting it politely has always been lacklustre. The disinformation mob have done their job very well haven’t they! America seems to be well and truly bogged down in a quagmire of scepticism, falsities, mistruthes, downright lies and malignant cynicism. Now the waters are soo completely muddied it will be almost impossible to clear them again. So shall we look outside of the US for leadership in this issue of paramount importance?. The europeans have a much better understanding of climate change and it’s current and future impacts on society.
    As a scientifically inclined layperson what I perceive to be the biggest ‘fault’ in the whole argument is this. As scientists you are quite correct in saying one cannot be 100% sure that this or that causes climate change. Or that the current deep freeze in europe is caused by less sea ice etc. There is no one single cause to anything in this field. One event causes to ‘greater or lesser’ degrees forcing to everything else onh this planet. People take this as uncertainty or vagueness on the part of scientists. Sorry but in this instance we have all got to be a hell of lot more decisive..scientists understand the uncertainties of climate..the man in the steet does not!. I’m afraid it is very much up to you to unequivocally nail your flag on the post and state that Yes modern climate change IS manmade. Climate IS changing at an accelerating pace. Sea level rise IS locked in now for centuries to come and we all have to help to try to reduce it’s future impacts by acting now as a unified people, in a unified voice.
    No more technowaffle by scientists! The head climate scientists of the world should be allowed to directly address their respective nations on as many media outlets as possible.

    Comment by Lawrence Coleman — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:14 AM

  40. Bern: “Well, I believe there was a recent study that said you need about 17 years of data to establish a trend in climate.”

    I won’t be surprised if 4 years from now, there will be a new study that will state that 21 years of data are needed. I did not look at the particular study that claimed 17 years, but it sounds somewhat arbitrary.

    Bern: “And even then, I’d only consider calling Dr Hansen a “charlatan” if he stuck with his current predictions of imminent strong warming and never once changed his opinion, despite evidence to the contrary.”

    James Hansen indeed changed his position on “renewable energy”. His book “The Storm of my Grandchildren” indeed endorses nuclear power and his blog
    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110729_BabyLauren.pdf recognizes that the main reason for the lack of progress in decarbonization our economy is chasing the renewable “tooth fairy”. Unfortunately, I did not see him in front of German anti nuclear protesters telling them to go home.

    Martin Vermeer:
    “…and you might want to address the ‘good faith’ issue when comparing Hansen and Monckton.”

    Perhaps the mutual respect could start with good faith in both. I have no doubt that Hansen is absolutely honest driven by good faith but I would not question Monckton’s motivations either.

    Comment by Balazs — 13 Feb 2012 @ 6:55 AM

  41. “Annabelle says:
    12 Feb 2012 at 11:35 PM
    Sorry, but trying to paint climate scientists as persecuted victims won’t wash [...]
    Sounds like you are trying to make people feel sorry for you now that the tide of public is turning.”

    Infofe is a political bully of the worst type. So you don’t think that’s worthy of comment or even slightly worrying?
    As for the tide of public (what?) turning. You’re welcome to your fantasies.

    Comment by Dr Tom Corby — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:16 AM

  42. Mike H @ 36: “I don’t believe that society is prepared to make significant sacrifices in the short term, and the fossil industries take advantage of this.”

    What is it that makes that true for the USA, but not for other countries?

    Comment by turboblocke — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:19 AM

  43. 28: “The sad part of the story is that I am convinced that warming will resume sooner or later”

    Resume? When has the Earth quit warming?

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:27 AM

  44. Annabelle says in #30:
    Sorry, but trying to paint climate scientists as persecuted victims won’t wash. There are crazies on all sides who make death threats – who knows, one day one of them may even be crazy enough to carry it out (and it could be a nutcase from either side).

    OK, I have to call you on this one. The OP links to a number of death threats against climate scientists.

    Please document for us here a single instance of ‘the other side’ receiving a death threat for their position on climate change.

    Recaptcha: which knonis. Indeed

    Comment by David Miller — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  45. … but I would not question Monckton’s motivations either

    There’s one born every minute. Sigh.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:18 AM

  46. David Miller says:
    13 Feb 2012 at 8:30 AM
    “Please document for us here a single instance of ‘the other side’ receiving a death threat for their position on climate change.”

    “Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards” who were members of what he termed the global warming “denial industry.”

    Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.” (http://gristmill.grist.org/print/2006/9/19/11408/1106?show_comments=no )

    Comment by DirkH — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  47. Bob B’s gone so it’s too bad he wasn’t called on his baloney while he was still here:

    That 3000 page IPCC report is the basis of all renewable subsidies (including biofuels).

    No, in the US, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil is cited by many as being the major reason for increasing biofuel production. The same argument is made (but less dominantly) for other renewables.

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  48. Balazs:

    I won’t be surprised if 4 years from now, there will be a new study that will state that 21 years of data are needed. I did not look at the particular study that claimed 17 years, but it sounds somewhat arbitrary.

    Arguing from ignorance is *so* boring. No, it’s not arbitrary. At least you’re honest enough to admit that you couldn’t be bothered to look at the study before pontificating on something you have no knowledge of. Do you really expect serious people to pay attention if you can’t bother to take the time to learn at least enough to not make silly claims of arbitrariness?

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:44 AM

  49. It’s a complicated situation. Certainly death threats are totally unacceptable, especially toward people who are just doing their jobs, like the vast majority of climate scientists.

    There are however, a very small minority of climate scientists who appear to have become the captives of the oil corporations, and who have become climate propagandists. This report lists several such scientists:

    Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air- How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco’s Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science

    Those scientists should not be able to hide behind academic freedom to escape criticism for their misdeeds.

    Comment by Leland Palmer — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:53 AM

  50. RE “I think comparing death threats with the Soviet Union oppression is way off base”….

    Rasmus is speaking of all aspects of climate repressive denialsphere — individuals (including the ones making the death threats) AND government officials openly silencing and intimidating scientists.

    People in the Soviet Union were afraid to speak out about injustices and other issues that threatened the party line. It’s getting to be that way with climate scientists and climate change accepters, at least in the U.S. (I can’t speak for other countries). Aside from government-ordered muzzling on climate scientists (as happened to Hansen and others), there is a “chilling effect” on people’s speech regarding climate science. They are bullied, harrassed, job & life threatened, and made to endure ad hominem insults and verbal attacks. The perps are both individuals acting on their own behalf (some funded by big business) and by government employers, co-workers and officials supposedly acting on behalf of the government or the government-funded institutions to which they belong. It has happened to me, and it is exceedingly deplorable. This is NOT open and honest debate as to whether climate change is happening and what its effects are when people who are not climate scientists have louder voice on the science.

    We live in a repressive society that aims to suppress the truth, an Animal Farm with mannerless goats bleating falsehoods about climate change accepters being out to destroy the economy and bring about a totalitarian regime.

    Wake up! We already live in a totalitarian regime controlled by the multinationals — big nonliving beasts (but granted rights as persons) rapaciously consuming resources and excreting products and pollution. They have bought and paid for the politicians, the government, the media, the educational institutions, and the churches. And they are out to cover up the truth about climate change and anything thing else that is seen to threaten their very short-term profits.

    I ask, how is getting into alt energy and living off the grid, or buying a Chevy Volt and plugging into $100 wind-generated electricity (we just got our Volt!!!) taking away our freedoms or harming our livelihoods?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:54 AM

  51. > Bern says: 13 Feb 2012 … I believe there was a recent study
    > that said you need about 17 years of data to establish a trend in climate.

    No. That’s way overgeneralizing and will confuse people.

    There’s a method in statistics — used when collecting any kind of data by measuring something over and over — to decide how many measurements you’ll need to make to say whether what you’re measuring is changing over time.

    This is basically arithmetic.

    Something goes up and down over time. Is it slowly going more up, or more down, or just up and down around the same number?

    This isn’t magic, it isn’t something mystical that can be changed by someone’s new study.

    If what’s happening in reality is changing, how will you be able to tell?

    Cite sources instead of telling people what you believe.

    Nobody cares what any of us “believe”

    Some people care about arithmetic; those will pay attention to how trends are detected. Those who can’t understand will just “believe” what they want.

    If you’re flipping coins, you’ll need a number of coin-flips before you can say with confidence that the coin is, or isn’t, fair.

    If you’re collecting global annual temperatures, you’ll need a number of years’ numbers before you can say with confidence that that particular measure is, or isn’t, changing over time.

    Yes, it’s complicated.

    “Monday, November 30, 2009
    Data set reproducibility
    Data are messy, and all data have problems. There’s no two ways about that. Any time you set about working seriously with data (as opposed to knocking off some fairly trivial blog comment), you have to sit down to wrestle with that fact….”
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2009/11/data-set-reproducibility.html

    But it’s doable. It’s done all the time. Most of what you use every day is built using these sorts of methods. http://boards.fool.co.uk/grumbine-science-11185921.aspx

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:05 AM

  52. Dirk H., Sweetie, calling for a trial of those who are ultimately responsible for the deaths of millions isn’t a death threat. Waving a noose around in front of a speaker–that’s a death threat. Sending an email saying that you are going to shoot the recipient–that’s a death threat. Rush or Glenn Beck calling for their minions to kill climate scientists–that’s a death threat, especially given the mental stability of the average dittohead.

    Frankly, though, I think Nuremberg is not a good model. I think things will go the way of the tobacco trials. We even have industry documents showing that the oil companies opted not to heed the advice of their own scientists that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change was incontrovertible. I suspect that by 2030 or so, oil and coal companies will be held financially responsible for all damage that could have been mitigated had we started taking the threat seriously in the 1990s. The lawyers are already salivating for a piece of that class action.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:14 AM

  53. RE #14 & “I had to argue with my son’s teacher some time back that certain glaciers would not disappear by 2035.”

    So glad to see someone else was reading Ch. 10 Asia of AR4′s WGII on impacts BEFORE the mistake was found. And I had thought I was the only one who really cared about CC’s impacts on Asia, that the rest of the developed world had written off Asia & Africa. This sort of helps restore my faith in humanity….at least a tad. What a great and humanitarian teacher.

    I my case I had been working on a futuristic screenplay earlier, and had contacted climate scientists directly about sealevel rise, etc, so when I read “2035″ on page 193, I thought it seemed questionable. I looked up the source, WWF, which got it from a New Scientist editorial, so I decided NOT to include that tidbit in a paper I was writing — so no harm done in my case.

    However, I’m sure your son will eventually recover from hearing that mistake. Of course, if he was extremely concerned about climate impacts on Asia, it might take him some time to recover from his initial shock and horror that the glaciers would all melt by 2035 to a modicum of relief that it would take much longer for them all to melt. I’ll be praying for his speedy recovery. And tell him I really do appreciate his concern about Asia. There should be more people like him.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:19 AM

  54. Dirk@46 – Very poor attempt, the request was to provide an actual death threat, not a proposal to hold denialists to account when it has become obvious they’ve been obstructing the response to an existential threat. Various people, like Fred Singer who make a living “spreading the joyous news” that there is no risk, should be held to account.

    Comment by flxible — 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:45 AM

  55. Bob B wrote: “… you can speak freely but also be held accountable for what you say, especially if there is a huge financial loss linked directly to your free speech.”

    I look forward to deniers being held accountable for the astronomical financial losses that will result from the generation-long failure to address global warming, that is the direct result of their deliberate deceit, denial and obstruction.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  56. DirkH, perhaps you missed the words death threat?

    Otherwise it’s difficult to fathom how you could possibly compare them with a speculative, albeit intemperate, call for some future legally constituted tribunal.

    Your reply did not come anywhere near meeting David Miller’s challenge, which still stands.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:18 AM

  57. Thanks very much Rasmus for addressing this important topic. You express everything so mildly in proportion to the attacks on scientists, leaving the stronger words to your linked references , for instance:

    A number of Australia’s leading climate scientists have been moved into safer accommodation after receiving death threats,….

    The professional deniers and their allies go after scientists and their families. I have not kept a list of incidents but I recall many more than Rasmus gave. Disagreeable bloggers have published scientists email addresses, phone numbers and even home addresses along with language that could incite violence.

    As Rasmus indicates,
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2010/02/25/205560/sen-inhofe-inquisition-seeking-ways-to-criminalize-and-prosecute-17-leading-climate-scientists/

    influential government officials are also involved. And our major news outlets seem to be significantly influenced by thier advertisers – Big Carbon and auto makers. And one defective personality controls much of the “news” throughout the English speaking world. These things combine to make free speech not so free and public understanding suppressed.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:19 AM

  58. Balazs,
    The 17-yr claim was presented by Santer in this paper:
    http://muenchow.cms.udel.edu/classes/MAST811/Santer2011.pdf
    The conclusion at the time, was that “temperature records of at least 17yrs in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.”

    For those unfamiliar with this work, they calculated that 17 years was the minimal timeframe necessary to seperate a warming signal from the noise. The work was also performed on data during the period of rising temperatures only (1979 – present). Using data through 2010, they found the lowest range of 20-year trend was 0.151 – 0.257C/decade. Adding data from 2011, the most recent 20-year RSS trend falls to 0.117C/decade, which is lower than the lowest range in the data they reported, not significantly different from 0.

    The temperature trend of the lower troposphere for the past 17 years was 0.05C/decade from RSS and 0.12C/decade from UAH. It is appararent from the data, that while human effects could be identified at the time of his work, recent data do not show that a signal can be seperated from the noise during the most recent 17-year interval.

    Comment by Dan H. — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:19 AM

  59. DirkH:

    David Roberts’ call for “Nuremberg-style” trials to hold deniers legally accountable for the consequences of their deliberate deceit is not a death threat, any more than wrongful death lawsuits against tobacco companies are “death threats”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  60. Big Tobacco knew for decades that their product gave their customers cancer. They lied and set up fronts (so called think tanks, foundations and so forth) to lie for them. Can anyone suppose that Big Carbon doesn’t know?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:32 AM

  61. 46 DirkH: Calling for Nuremberg-style trials for David Koch, Exxon-Mobil, the CRU crackers/hackers, etc. is not a death threat. They could be acquitted. And they would clearly get a fair trial. But David Koch will probably die of old age before Americans will start dying of GW induced starvation. David Koch is over 70 years of age now. Is it fair for David Koch to cheat the hangman by dying of old age?

    This is in support of the scientists.

    As for the average humans, see “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer. Just take out the word “Religion” and you have an explanation of all kinds of nonsensical thinking. Boyer doesn’t go for the insanity model. Instead, Boyer says that nonsense is caused by the fact that the human brain has sub-processors that act below the level of consciousness. In particular, the human brain has a very powerful sub-computer for dealing with social interactions. It is the “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” problem.

    Science is a new method of thinking; and guess what: Science actually WORKS! Science was invented only 400 to 500 years ago. Very few people are able to learn to do science, and it takes about 10 years after high school. Science is not easy.

    Most people find nonsense much easier than science, even if they can do science. So, most people do the easy thing. The problem is that the problems we face right now can only be solved by doing science, yet scientists are a small minority. Is it possible for scientists to rescue civilization in time, or will civilization fall into disaster?

    Will Homo “Sap” survive and evolve into a sapient species?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:33 AM

  62. To those who want examples of threats made against “deniers”: how about James Jay Lee, who took hostages at gun-point in 2010 because he believed the Discovery Channel was not doing enough to highlight various environmental problems, including global warming?

    Or the Greenpeace activist who said “We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few”? Rapidly removed from the Greenpeace website after an outcry, but not very charming all the same.

    As I said, there are nutters on all sides.

    Comment by Annabelle — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  63. Some of the commentary here should be great data for someone interested in studying irrational thought processes. One winner should be DirkH (at ~#46) proclaiming that an emphatic suggestion that someone should be brought to trial is equivalent to a direct death threat. Sheesh!

    Steve

    Comment by Steve Fish — 13 Feb 2012 @ 11:43 AM

  64. Is the vitriol, and the skepticism real? I guess that’s the minor issue I have about this post. From the perspective of the individual receiving the smears it really doesn’t make a difference if it’s some shadowy organization smearing them by email and on the web, or if it’s individuals, concerned (and, potentially misinformed) about climate change and the implications of policy meant to minimize its effects. But it does make a difference from a policy perspective. If all this vitriol is being generated by individuals, then we have free (misguided) speech being practiced (in an anti-social manner), and it indicates that there is a potential solution through continued outreach and education. If it is being generated by vested interests then it may well be the other side of the curtain, as you so rightly put it since it is more about economic goals than scientific reality. Of course, it is more than likely a mixture of the two.

    (shameless plug) I’ve got a post up on my blog that presents a few scenarios with regards to trolls and threats that might shed some light on where the harassment is coming from. Of course, it’s not exclusive to threats to scientists by skeptics, the same methodologies could be applied to threats on skeptics, as these do exist (pointed out earlier in the thread). Maybe it’s all been done before, but it’s an interesting mental exercise.

    Comment by Simon — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:01 PM

  65. >i>some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

    Not a death threat, and would allow for a full legal defence and due process in a court of law.

    Comment by J Bowers — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:06 PM

  66. ” This also means that all relevant information must be included – not just those which support one stand. ”

    Is this why you have such a wide spread of views represented in the blogs linked in the right hand panel?

    Comment by PaulM — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  67. Climate change debate has extremists from both sides that need to be bought to heel.

    It is unacceptable to have climate scientists receieve death threats but it is also unacceptable to have oil company executives, politicians and even the much hated Anthony Watts receive then either which a few in the green groups would have no problem with.

    Freedom of speach cuts each and every way, no one should face death threats.

    Read the “climate of fear” article again how many of those issues have been addressed … exactly none.

    UAE exchanges still not fully investigated, I know Gavin and the team have attempted to provide background here but that really isn’t good enough given the issues.

    On the other side the article is quite correct the basics of AGW haven’t changed and it should be more rigorously defended by politicians and public officials.

    The problem is that many of them dont trust climate scientists and that underlies the real problem. Some may never be convinced because of beliefs of vested oil interests etc but those not in that position should have absolute faith in climate scientists and they simply don’t.

    Comment by LdB — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  68. Dhogaza:

    “Arguing from ignorance is *so* boring. No, it’s not arbitrary. At least you’re honest enough to admit that you couldn’t be bothered to look at the study before pontificating on something you have no knowledge of. Do you really expect serious people to pay attention if you can’t bother to take the time to learn at least enough to not make silly claims of arbitrariness?”

    I am in the science business long enough to know that one study is by no means the last word on most issues. I will read the “17 year” study, when there will be other ten suggesting different time spans. Quoting the 17 year to dismiss the lack of warming in the last 15 years (at least the muted warming compared to climate predictions despite carbon emission exceeding all expectations) is just as boring ignorance.

    At current warming rate, we might be well within the feared 2 degC temperature rise for a Century or so without cutting carbon emission. It might turn out that Spenser, Lindzen and other skeptics were right about positive feedbacks, which does not mean that we are off the hook. Even if tripled or quadrapuled CO2 concentrations was not enough to cause dangerous climate change, I would still wonder how far burning fossil fuels can go. I suppose, we could burn all the oxygen in the atmosphere as one extreme, but more imminent might be the exhaustion of the existing carbon sinks. So far, we were lucky that exponential growth in carbon emission did not lead to exponential growth in CO2 concentration. Much of the released CO2 is captured by various carbon sinks that are likely fill up some day.

    By no means, I would dispute the necessity to decarbonize our economy, but it is clear that move will be difficult. Particularly, if we want to allow 75% of the population (which is responsible only to 1/3 of the current global energy use) to have civilized life. The life style choices are not whether some drives a Toyota Prius or an SUV, but if you live in heated room and take shower every day or you live in a slum without electricity.

    Comment by Balazs — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:45 PM

  69. #29–”And yes since you can’t answer a simple question and have to answer with Ad homs I am out of here.”

    I will try manfully to contain my sorrow.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:46 PM

  70. This is hardly a full solution, just a nice thought. HT Romm.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:47 PM

  71. #46–So, in your mind, suggesting the possibility of a fair trial for unnamed individuals in an unspecified future is the same thing as issuing anonymous death threats to specific individuals now?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Feb 2012 @ 12:58 PM

  72. “Millions if not billions have been spent on research grants, conferences…”

    Accepting for a moment the numbers Annabelle conjectures, let’s remember that in the first 10 years of this century the top five global petroleum firms alone enjoyed profits of ~$1 trillion. In 2011 this same fraction of the global fossil fuels industry spent some $65 million on lobbying the US Congress, in self-interest and undoubtedly not with the disinterested pursuit of knowledge as their central intent.

    Just as a point of reference for those of us with a fuzzy grasp of magnitudes, $1 trillion is one thousand billion dollars.

    Annabelle’s remark is ruefully amusing even as it is informative. We may be thankful for the perennial use of her line of argument, instantly reminding us as it does of the vastly larger incentives for the fossil fuel industry to mount much more easily constructed and maintained campaigns of deception than the far less likely hypothesis she presents.

    One of the few bright spots in this dismal scenario is the axiomatic recruitment of incompetent defenders of the fossil fuel industry thanks to that industry’s tendency to deceive in pursuit of their interests. Volunteers inspired to rise to the defense of the status quo by uncritical acceptance of deceitful propaganda are automatically poorly equipped to competently perform the sort of detail work needed to sustain the industry’s campaign.

    Comment by dbostrom — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:06 PM

  73. “Free speech” is by no means a universal tradition. Within western democracies, its precise contours vary from country to country. In the U.S., for example, the “right of free speech” is actually a limitation on the government’s ability to regulate private citizen speech. Consider, for example, an employee of a private timber company who writes a letter-to-the-editor criticizing his company’s forestry practices. The company can fire the employee for her speech. She has no government-protected right that protects her speech from private party sanction.

    On the other hand, her employer cannot use the government-created court systems to extract financial damages or injunctions against her speech critical of the company’s practices. The courts would refuse to hear the case because doing so exceeds the limits on government regulation of speech imposed by the U.S. Constitution.

    But what if the employee resides in Canada? There she could be prosecuted in a government court by a private party for “hateful” speech. Canada simply has no robust constitutional limits on the government’s ability to regulate private citizen speech.

    When most academics talk about “free speech,” they are not referring to the law or the constitution. They think of free speech as an ethical norm to which they and their intellectual colleagues subscribe. They also (sometimes naively) think their employers subscribe to the same high principles of academic freedom to say what one thinks. One hopes that is so. But no where is the academic’s notion of “free speech” codified in law.

    Comment by Andy Stahl — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:07 PM

  74. “Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the “bastards”

    Just for the fun of it I googled that phrase, and it turns out that it’s a meme that has been repeated verbatim across the web literally hundreds of times.

    HERE is the original short article.

    HERE is the article he was responding to.

    Here is the exact quote :

    “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

    That is not a death threat first of all, and secondly, when we finally got serious about the tobacco industry, they were suedhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Master_Settlement_Agreement to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. I notice they still sell tobacco though.

    Now do you think lawsuits will compensate the public properly for the loss of agricultural productivity, existing shorelines and glacial ice when we finally maybe in a few decades get serious about global warming?

    If you are innocent, you have nothing to worry about. Where have I heard that before?

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  75. So, DirkH, you equate a magazine writer saying
    “When we’ve finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we’re in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg.”

    with specific threats of death and violence against the scientists?

    Really?

    A magazine guy says “after it’s clear to all what destruction these bastards have caused we should try them” and you equate it to “I’m going to kill you” ???

    Get real.

    Comment by David Miller — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:14 PM

  76. I agree that mutually respect is essential to any truly open debate. Intimidation only squashes the opportunity to hear all sides, but this is not a science debate, this is a values debate. Something that science is ill-equipped to deal with. Here is where I believe have a hard time with the current attacks on climate science. They respond with answers about the inherent logic of the scientific method and the objective of science, but that is not really what the debate about climate change is about. It is about human’s relationship to the earth, future generations, uncertainty, and who’s voices should guide our decision-making. These are value decisions that don’t have black and white answers. Since the enlightenment, science has gained more and more prominence in our societal decision-making creating the illusion that many of our societal decisions are based on hard numbers of scientists, engineers, and economists, but in reality decisions are informed by those hard numbers as well as the values that decision-makers (e.g. politician, bureaucrats, business leaders, etc.) bring to the decision. I believe we need to return to a discussion of those values, because that is our path forward. Until we can agree in some way on the values that inform our decisions it really doesn’t matter what hard numbers we bring to decisions.

    Comment by Jason — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  77. I have to say, as I hear it, much of the current rhetoric has unpleasant echos from other eras. Frame it as best you can, those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it…

    “I think that the science community needs a louder voice in the society, and there is a need for bringing some of the science-related debates closer to true science.”

    Amen. But good luck with that. How to effectively triage the morbidly obtuse once and for all? In the press, for instance, there’s a recognition that decision making has an emotional component, but better for the business model to coddle it rather than work like the dickens to offset it.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 13 Feb 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  78. Richard Black gives a more balanced view here
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/07/the_apologies_issued_by_two.html
    and here
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/09/something_new_and_not_altogeth.html
    There are seldom just saints on one sdie and only sinners on the other in these matters

    Comment by one step beyond — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:05 PM

  79. Bob B

    Points to ponder:

    1. You have not answered Gavin’s question and I’m confident many here would like to hear you’re answer. If all those, or even just those in a position of power such as politicians are wrong about calling human climate change a hoax. How should they be punished?

    2. If you’re such a fan of accountability, why don’t you post your full name and take public responsibility for your own words?

    3. Most people here in this thread can point to proof of impacts form global warming. Here are a few though:

    - Accelerating sea level rise
    - loss of Arctic Ice Mass
    - shifting temperature zones
    - seasonal shift
    - temperature trend changes
    - acceleration in global land based glacial ice mass loss
    - PH balance changes in the ocean

    et cetera…

    In your post #29 you bring up the fact that congress is not great and making smart decisions. What you don’t realize is that what congress does due to their own issues is a separate issue. Math and physics are not partisan and you are trying to judge science by political interpretation. Ever heard of a non sequitur?

    That only makes you look foolish though. Try to separate the different realities of
    politics and science. You will feel better.

    One more question, why is it that persons such as yourself exhibit little to no integrity and love to call out others about your perception of their faults and yet can not recognize the log in your own eye?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:23 PM

  80. @DirkH #46,

    Threats of trials are not threats of death. In fact, the point of the Nuremberg Trials was to avoid execution “for political purposes” as Churchill put it. Churchill denounced the idea of “the cold blooded execution of soldiers who fought for their country” and that he’d rather be “taken out in the courtyard and shot” himself than to partake in any action. Note that not everyone tried in the Nuremberg Trials were found guilty, and not everyone found guilty was executed. Sorry, your example doesn’t count as a death threat.

    Comment by Nuremberg — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  81. #46, DirkH,

    As I read it, that was not a death threat. He was threatening Denialists with a trial as a way of getting some accountability, the same as advocated by Bob B and the implied outcome would be to expose them.

    I can see where it would throw some folks into a panic, though.

    Comment by Charlie H — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:45 PM

  82. Andy Stahl wrote:

    Consider, for example, an employee of a private timber company who writes a letter-to-the-editor criticizing his company’s forestry practices. (…I)n Canada (…) she could be prosecuted in a government court by a private party for “hateful” speech.

    No, she couldn’t. A timber company is not “distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation”, and criticizing its forestry practices is not incitement to hatred or genocide. Besides which, truth and public interest are both valid exeptions under Canadian hate-speech law.

    When most academics talk about “free speech,” they are not referring to the law or the constitution.

    You’d be surprised. Academics look stuff up.

    Comment by CM — 13 Feb 2012 @ 2:47 PM

  83. I’m sort of thinking about those death threats — which have to be taken seriously and cause great upheavals in a person’s life.

    It sort of fits that those who would risk killing off life on planet earth through CC, would also be into willy nilly killing people. It seems the denialists have a penchant for killing.

    It’s sort of an unfair battle, bec those who value life would be more likely to accept climate change and into mitigating it, and less into sending out death threats or killing people….but more likely to receive death threats for their stance on the side of life.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  84. “The absence of oppression and [harassment] is a [prerequisite] for sound and functioning science.” [typos corrected]

    I couldn’t agree more! I would characterize peer-pressure, ad hominem attacks, attempts to get scientists/editors fired for “skeptical” conclusions/views, machinated funding competition, and McCarthy style lists [edit] as oppressive and harassing. Since these harassment techniques have been employed by “main stream” climate scientists and those that desire the actions supported by their conclusions, how could one be confident that sound science is functioning in the field?

    [Response: We can all agree that ad hom attacks and McCarthyite persecution should not be part of the debate. Though I think we might disagree on where they are coming from. However, no-one is immune from criticism and re-framing the debate so that justified criticism of poor science (Soon and Baliunas, McLean et al, Scafetta, Michaels etc.) is supposedly 'oppression' has a large degree of chutzpah. Nonetheless, we can either spend all the time upping the levels of faux outrage over something someone once said to someone (a game anyone can play!), or we can try and move forward. - gavin]

    “I think that the science community needs a louder voice in the society”

    Yes, scientists should get two votes! /sarc

    Comment by John West — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:23 PM

  85. #73 Andy Stahl: I’m a Canadian though not a lawyer and this quote appears to be incorrect:

    “…But what if the employee resides in Canada? There she could be prosecuted in a government court by a private party for “hateful” speech. Canada simply has no robust constitutional limits on the government’s ability to regulate private citizen speech…”

    Hate speech is usually defined as being hatred promulgated against an identifiable group, based on colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation:

    http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/online_hate/when_is_hate_a_crime.cfm

    There are examples of hate speech litigation; I don’t think there have been that many cases. Canadians’ right to freedom of expression is protected in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but with reasonable limits.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/10/12/f-free-speech-hate-crimes.html

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/there-are-limits-to-free-expression/article2216380/

    Comment by Holly Stick — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  86. Comment from Greenpeace former India’s communications director, Gene Hashmi
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/apr/06/greenpeace-gene-hashmi-climate-sceptics
    Relevant part is
    “The proper channels have failed. It’s time for mass civil disobedience to cut off the financial oxygen from denial and scepticism. If you’re one of those who believe that this is not just necessary but also possible, speak to us. Let’s talk about what that mass civil disobedience is going to look like. If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fuelling spurious debates around false solutions and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this: We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work. And we be many, but you be few.”
    The Real Climate article is taking the moral high ground, the last sentence being ‘Focusing on the real questions and doing science means being free, critical and sceptical – and not a climate of fear.’ It perhaps needs to look closer to home before casting the first stone.

    [Response: How is the Greenpeace office in India 'close to home'? Let's be extremely clear here, threatening people has no place in scientific discussions. But mainstream climate science is not the world's policeman, nor is it responsible for what any individual says. Those individuals are responsible for their own words, and in that case, the apology from Greenpeace was sincere, and the original statement ill-advised. - gavin]

    Comment by one step beyond — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:29 PM

  87. There is a good post here about the different viewpoints of climate analysts and climate activists:

    http://greenpolicyprof.org/wordpress/?p=790

    Comment by Holly Stick — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:33 PM

  88. John,
    I agree with your assertion that we seperate politics and science. Few politicians know very much about science. Indeed, math and physics are nonpartisan. However, mathematicians and physicists are. I know many a scientist who could not see past their own blinders.

    While many of us can point to proof of all of your items during the 1980s and 90s, there is less evidence to confirm them since. For instance:
    While sea level rise accelerated during the 80s and 90s, it has decelerated since. (still rising thought).
    Arctic ice loss is one of the few that accelerated during the 2000s. While we did experience some seasonal shifts, namely earlier thaws, there has been very little shift in actual temperature zones. While there was a significant loss of glacial ice starting around 1980, the loss has slowed in the recent decade. Measurements of ocean pH are still in their infancy, with uncertainties exceeding measured changes.

    Few would question that the greatest warming occurred in the 1990s. The results you listed are a consequence of such. However, few would maintain that warming has continued, except for the Arctic regions. During the previous warming episode, the Arctic was the last to warm, and the last to start cooling. Whether this pattern continues, we will have to wait and see.

    Comment by Dan H. — 13 Feb 2012 @ 3:57 PM

  89. agricultural libel is also a concern.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2012 @ 4:06 PM

  90. #84–Yes, I think the Charter has proven quite robust in practice. Perhaps Andy is living in the early 80s?

    And just what is a “government court?” The only alternative I’m aware of is Judge Judy, et al., so the term seems redundant at best.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 13 Feb 2012 @ 4:08 PM

  91. Balazs wrote: “I would dispute the necessity to decarbonize our economy, but it is clear that move will be difficult … The life style choices are not whether some drives a Toyota Prius or an SUV, but if you live in heated room and take shower every day or you live in a slum without electricity.”

    Absolute rubbish.

    People post utter nonsense like that, and have the nerve to accuse climate scientists who make careful, cautious, conservative understatements about the seriousness of AGW of being “alarmists”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Feb 2012 @ 4:26 PM

  92. Thanks, Rasmus, and I disagree with the commenters here who don’t see the similarities between Russia in 1989 and the US today. Yes, we have the rule of law here, but if the real powers in this country- the fossil fuel companies, banks, and media who obey them- act to suppress knowledge, the result is the same.

    Scientists are already justifiably frightened today, and are only a Republican president away from a crackdown on their work. It will become politically correct to always feed the controversy, something our media is already quite adept at doing.

    [edit - please stay substantive]

    Comment by Mike Roddy — 13 Feb 2012 @ 4:59 PM

  93. #88 Dan H.

    Dan, as usual you are having trouble seeing the forest because all thosue darn trees are in your way.

    1. TEN YEARS IS TOO SHORT A TIME SPAN TO DISCERN THE HUMAN CLIMATE SIGNAL FROM THE SHORTER TERM NATURAL VARIATIONS.

    2. Sea level rise has multiple factors, which include La Nina and other related factors, which distribute more water over land thus causing a variation in the sea level rise signal.

    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-262

    http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/whatonearth/posts/post_1323211578062.html

    3. Arctic ice MASS loss is continuing at a strong pace and ice extent is scraping the 2007 minimum line:

    http://ossfoundation.us/the-leading-edge/projects/environment/global-warming/current-climate-conditions/arctic

    4. temperature zone shifts continue on trend and I was at a nursery recently where it was pointed out to me that the types of plants they sell have had to change due to the zonal shifts.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/blogs/earthmatters/2012/01/29/news-roundup-a-less-hardy-hardiness-map-arctic-freshening-and-more/

    5. How is it that you think glacial ice mass has slowed?

    http://ossfoundation.us/the-leading-edge/projects/environment/global-warming/current-climate-conditions#section-17

    6. on ocean acidification, keep your erro bars close, but keep your trends and observations closer

    http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/image/2010/ocean-acidification-today-and-in-the-future

    7. As far as you’re ‘wait and see’ attitude… is it possible you were reincarnated from a lemming?

    8. It would nice just for once to see you raise an actual valid point.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:03 PM

  94. Scientists doing science:
    New NASA study of global glaciers
    http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-036#4

    February 08, 2012

    PASADENA, Calif. – In the first comprehensive satellite study of its kind, a University of Colorado at Boulder-led team used NASA data to calculate how much Earth’s melting land ice is adding to global sea level rise.

    Using satellite measurements from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), the researchers measured ice loss in all of Earth’s land ice between 2003 and 2010, with particular emphasis on glaciers and ice caps outside of Greenland and Antarctica.

    The total global ice mass lost from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps during the study period was about 4.3 trillion tons (1,000 cubic miles), adding about 0.5 inches (12 millimeters) to global sea level. That’s enough ice to cover the United States 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) deep.

    “Earth is losing a huge amount of ice to the ocean annually, and these new results will help us answer important questions in terms of both sea rise and how the planet’s cold regions are responding to global change,” said University of Colorado Boulder physics professor John Wahr, who helped lead the study. “The strength of GRACE is it sees all the mass in the system, even though its resolution is not high enough to allow us to determine separate contributions from each individual glacier.”

    Glaciers on youtube.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:05 PM

  95. Andy Stahl @73 appears to not be aware of the existence of the Labor Relations Boards in Canada …. when an employee of a private timber company who writes a letter-to-the-editor criticizing his company’s forestry practices is fired for it, that employee has the right to file a complaint with the Board, and beyond that, initiate civil action for wrongful dismissal – “whistleblower” protections may also apply. One would expect the same remedies/protections of “free speech” would be available in some form in the US.

    Comment by flxible — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:25 PM

  96. Onestepbehind@86
    Oh FFS! Dude, you you even know what civil disobedience is? We are not talking firebombs here. We’re talking sit-ins. The fact that you equate this with scientists getting death threats for doing their fricking jobs speaks volumes about you. Jebus!

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:43 PM

  97. > Dan H …
    > … many a scientist …
    > … many of us …
    > … point to proof …

    “us”?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:45 PM

  98. Andy Stahl @73 appears to not be aware of the existence of the Labor Relations Boards in Canada

    Why would you say that? He did preface that example with “in the US …”.

    Nice to see Andy Stahl here …

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:51 PM

  99. Eh, didn’t read all the way through Andy’s post …

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:52 PM

  100. Those individuals are responsible for their own words, and in that case, the apology from Greenpeace was sincere, and the original statement ill-advised

    Also, Greenpeace India is not Greenpeace, International. Nor Greenpeace USA. Nor Greenpeace Germany. You get the idea.

    One spokesperson for one national chapter of Greenpeace doesn’t speak for Greenpeace, per se, much less the community of climate scientists …

    Comment by dhogaza — 13 Feb 2012 @ 5:59 PM

  101. I think saying Norwegian terrorist Breivik “disrespected climate science” is a bit weak. He cast it as Marxist propaganda aimed at creating a UN-led world government. Loons aplenty think the same. Climate change denial was not Breivik’s big cause, Islamophobia was. But the associated conspiracy theories have some things in common, and the milieus that cultivate them overlap.

    Comment by CM — 13 Feb 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  102. The Canadian discussion well illustrates the differences between even adjacent countries when it comes to “free speech” philosophy. In Canada, the government (its legislature, courts and administrative branches) are actively involved in regulating speech by private parties. For example, as #95 points out, the government Labor Relations Board has jurisdiction to hear disputes between private parties (e.g., a private employer and its private employee) regarding whether an employee’s speech constitutes grounds for dismissal. The U.S. has no comparable statutory regulation of speech (the closest the U.S. comes are restrictions on employers interfering with employee unionizing-related speech). The U.S. does have common law restrictions on speech, e.g., defamation and libel, which are actionable in court as torts and are restricted in their scope by the Constitution.

    Canadian government also regulates the content of speech by, for example, banning speech that denies the Nazi Holocaust, e.g., a noxious movie review of Schindler’s list led to litigation under the “hate speech” laws that put the magazine out of business.

    In the U.S., the Constitution restricts government’s ability to regulate speech by rule or statute. These limits on the power of government to regulate speech find no parallel in Canadian law. This reflects a fundamental difference between the U.S.’s streak of rugged independence (and distrust of government — remember the original Tea Party?) as contrasted to Canada’s more communitarian views. That’s not to say one approach is right and the other wrong. But to ignore these differences, between two nations that most observers regard as congruent in many respects, is naive.

    Free speech is also often misunderstood within the U.S. For example, many public employees believe they enjoy Constitutional protection for their on-the-job speech. Not so. The U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the Constitution affords zero protection for speech made as a public employee. What you say on-the-job can be regulated by your government agency employer. Only speech made as a “private citizen” is protected from government regulation by the Constitution.

    Comment by Andy Stahl — 13 Feb 2012 @ 6:12 PM

  103. In memoriam Steve Schneider, one has a duty to exhort Canadian’s unversed in the US First Amendment’s more robust aspects to show a little backbone if, as does happen, some fail to keep their sticks on the ice.

    It’s not, after all, as though they were reading other people’s mail, which is a matter not for civil libertarians, but the postal authorities.

    Comment by Russell — 13 Feb 2012 @ 6:20 PM

  104. Dan H.

    Just for fun, and this is not a scientific point as I know of no paper to support it, but i took this recent shot of the Piz Kesch Glacier for a glacier pair:

    http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/myths/images/glacier-retreat/piz-kesch-glacier-switzerland-1930-2010/image_view_fullscreen

    If ‘some’ glaciers are slowing down their shrinkage, it might just be because they don’t have that much mass left to give.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 13 Feb 2012 @ 6:44 PM

  105. I am very surprised that a comment I left at around 3.40pm was moderated off. I thought Realclimate had stopped removing posts that were not fully supportive. More surprisingly in the post I suggested that moderate language on both sides of the argument would be beneficial which was essentially what Gavin said at 3.23pm. [edit - this isn't just another place to insult people]

    Comment by Ian — 13 Feb 2012 @ 7:08 PM

  106. Great article, Rasmus. You should send it to that Norwegian magazine Teknisk Ukeblad or to one of your national newspapers. Go for it!

    Comment by Gyro — 13 Feb 2012 @ 7:18 PM

  107. OK, maybe it isn’t a death threat, but telling someone to commit suicide is pretty damn close. This is what our Prime Minister said about climate sceptics
    I’m prepared to keep an open mind and propose another stunt for climate sceptics – put your strong views to the test by exposing yourselves to high concentrations of either carbon dioxide or some other colourless, odourless gas – say, carbon monoxide.

    You wouldn’t see or smell anything. Nor would your anti-science nonsense be heard of again. How very refreshing.

    [Response: As indicated above, we could trade similar idiocies said by other people all day. If the goal is to validate your position by assuming a mantle of victimhood, fine, that works for everyone. But if the goal is to move forward in a grown up way, the endless airing of grievances is pointless. - gavin]

    Comment by KeithWoollard — 13 Feb 2012 @ 7:29 PM

  108. RE talk of suing the CC denialists once the damage is done.

    The problem is the great time factor involved in the unfolding CC harms over 100s & 1000s of years or more.

    You can’t sue dead people. I guess one could spit on their graves, but that might be spitting in the ocean….if it’s in a sealevel rise area.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:43 PM

  109. Gavin’s response to my #107
    David Miller @#44 wanted one example. I gave him one

    Comment by KeithWoollard — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:46 PM

  110. So I trust I can post this as my right to “free speech” ?

    [edit]

    [Response: Just so we are clear, you do not have an absolute right to post the same nonsense over and again on this blog. You do have a right to start your own blog, carry a sign in the street, write letters to the editor, print pamphlets with your ideas, run town halls, buy ads for political candidates that agree with you etc. etc., but this is a moderated blog with a clear comment policy, and one whose participants have no interest in your pet 'theory'. There may be other hosts that are more indulgent, and I suggest you comment there. - gavin]

    Comment by Doug Cotton — 13 Feb 2012 @ 8:53 PM

  111. Hard to skirt the politics on some points, but this is a big issue. Rasmus telling it like it is:

    “So it is important to keep in mind: Don’t shoot the messenger who is only doing her/his job. It would really be a disservice to the society. Any open and free democracy has to be based on true information and knowledge. When big and powerful media corporations start to look like past state-run propaganda machines, where slogans have replaced common sense and expert knowledge, then we’re heading in the wrong direction.”

    And he’s not alone in that sentiment. It goes across the spectrum. “I refuse to believe that I am the only Republican who feels this way,” says conservative David Frum:

    “Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics…
    “…The conservative shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology has ominous real-world consequences for American society.”

    And Paul Krugman, touching on the climate change “hoax”: For example

    last year Mr. Santorum made a point of defending the medieval Crusades against the “American left who hates Christendom.” Historical issues aside (hey, what are a few massacres of infidels and Jews among friends?), what was this doing in a 21st-century campaign?

    Nor is this only about sex and religion: he has also declared that climate change is a hoax, part of a “beautifully concocted scheme” on the part of “the left” to provide “an excuse for more government control of your life.” You may say that such conspiracy-theorizing is hardly unique to Mr. Santorum, but that’s the point: tinfoil hats have become a common, if not mandatory, [PREEMTIVE EDIT] fashion accessory.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:33 PM

  112. Is there any value in allowing the cranks (I almost said “loonies”, but that might suggest an anti-Canadian bias, while Hungarians, unfortunately, seem to be leading the field) to continue posting on RC? Many of us have pretty much stopped reading the comments because of the low signal to noise ratio. I don’t object to the large number of posts with no scientific content: responding to the attacks is necessary. But why invite the attackers into your living room? To mock them? To show how foolish they are? Anyone who doesn’t already see that is unlikely to be enlightened.

    Comment by S. Molnar — 13 Feb 2012 @ 9:58 PM

  113. I think I can offer some simple physics to clear up this confusion about the response time of the earth to changes in its thermal equilibrium. The heat capacity of the oceans is about 10^23 Joules per degree Fahrenheit. In other words, it takes 10^23 Joules to heat the oceans by 1 degree Fahrenheit. The amount of sunlight hitting the earth is about 2 x 10^17 watts. Suppose, then, that the sun simply vanished in the blink of an eye. Because the earth is in thermal equilibrium, the outgoing heat is equal to the incoming heat, so the earth would still be losing 2 x 10^17 watts of heat. At that rate (not taking into account changes in radiative heat transfer due to declining temperature), it would take about 5 months for the oceans to freeze.

    Now let’s put those numbers into a context more appropriate to our situation. Let’s suppose that the greenhouse effect were increased by additional CO2 to the degree that outgoing thermal radiation were diminished by enough to, ultimately, increase surface temperatures by 2ºF. Let’s suppose that this change in the atmosphere happened instantaneously. How long would it take for the earth to warm up in response? The strict answer is “Forever” because the earth would asymptotically approach the terminal temperature. But we can get really gross and assume a linear trend, producing a too-quick answer that still gives an idea of just how slow this process is.

    The linear calculation yields an answer of about 30 years. Remember, that’s quicker than the truth. What this means is that, if climate change were ultimately going to produce a change in temperature of only 2ºF, it would take more than 30 years for that change to manifest itself.

    The point of this is that the oceans have so much heat capacity that they tend to retard changes in temperature. They act like shock absorbers for temperature.

    Suppose that you were a creature that lived at a frenetic pace a thousand times faster than humans. For you, the passage of one second would seem like a thousand seconds. You’re driving a car down the road, and you see a nasty bump ahead. The car hits the bump, but the shock absorbers absorb some of the impact. After 10 seconds of your accelerated time (10 milliseconds of human time), you still haven’t felt much of a bump. So, are you justified in concluding that the bump really wasn’t so big after all? Of course not! It’s going to take a lot longer for the size of that bump to show up because the shock absorbers are soaking it up for the first few hundred milliseconds. After a few hundred milliseconds, you’ll feel it at full strength.

    That’s exactly what’s happening with climate change. We’re warming up the earth, but the oceans are acting like huge shock absorbers, and the nitwits are all grinning broadly and saying, “I don’t feel no bump!” By the time we actually feel how big this bump is, it will be far too late.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 13 Feb 2012 @ 10:01 PM

  114. Jeffrey in @114:

    “Let us question why the editor of a journal resigns and a manuscript is taking out of print when it has been through a fair review process (even despite its clear limitations- many many published papers have strong limitations).”

    The paper was not merely possessed of limitations: it was flat plain wrong. The editors resigned because they permitted an egregiously flawed paper to slip past them. The peer review process only works properly when the editors do their jobs properly. They screwed up and did the honorable thing and resigned.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:11 AM

  115. Dear Rasmus,

    Thank you for writing about this somewhat delicate topic. I agree that much of the behavior of the for-hire deniers gives one pause and brings to mind the creeping fascism of the 1930s.

    The mere fact that people like James Taylor on Forbes and Patrick Michaels everywhere feel that it is perfectly fine to use patent untruths to mislead and misguide in public spaces like the major network TV channels and leading publications means that a certain line was already crossed years ago when they were permitted to do it again. And again. And again. Why were they not shamed and stopped? I am perplexed.

    Such an atmosphere leads to more unseemly conduct by radical deniers. Apparently, it is perfectly ok to threaten climate scientists. An outsider looking in at this situation would surely get that impression due to the lack of any successful response to stop such immoral behaviors.

    We can always blame the media, but scientists have to put up a fight, too, or this situation will only worsen.

    Comment by Tenney Naumer — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:35 AM

  116. 91 (SecularAnimist):

    Balazs wrote: “I would dispute the necessity to decarbonize our economy, but it is clear that move will be difficult … The life style choices are not whether some drives a Toyota Prius or an SUV, but if you live in heated room and take shower every day or you live in a slum without electricity.”

    Absolute rubbish.

    People post utter nonsense like that, and have the nerve to accuse climate scientists who make careful, cautious, conservative understatements about the seriousness of AGW of being “alarmists”.

    I am sorry, I meant to say, I don’t dispute the necessity to decarbonize economy.

    The rest is not rubbish but reality. 1.7 billion people has no access to electricity. One third of the human population lives under a couple of dollar income per day. The inequity between the bottom third (living under $1000/yr) and the top third in the developed word (earning 5-6 digit income) is just as large (two orders of magnitude) as the income difference between the middle class in the developed word and the wealthiest one percent (above 7-8 digit income).

    The recent accelerated carbon emission has nothing to do with big oil’s tobacco style conspiracy, but the developing world coming out from poverty. To do so, they will need cheap energy that is fossil at the moment. People at the bottom third live in conditions that is not any better than Europe was in the middle ages. Even if they double or quadruple their energy use they will still be well bellow the global average. The per capita energy use in the US is 10000W (8000W in the EU) and 200W in Bangladesh, while the global average is 2200W. I can see the possibility to live civilized life at 5000-6000W, but I have hard time to see it at 2200W level (which is Chile and Lebanon). I pointed out on the blog before that a round trip New York – Los Angeles flight to go to AGU (that takes about 300kg kerosine) is the equivalent of 400W energy use for a whole year (that is the energy use of two people in Bangladesh). I did not make the exact calculation, but the 400 gallon heating oil that my family burns in a year is probably about 2000W. That would be energy use allowance for one person in my family of four at the current global average.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/a-guest-post-some-back-of-the-envelope-calculations-about-energy-by-balazs-m-fekete/

    Comment by Balazs — 14 Feb 2012 @ 1:45 AM

  117. If you believe in free speech in climate science, you could start by not systematically deleting uncomfortable comments on your own comments section.

    To compare AGW scepticism with death threatens and Soviet totalitarianism is pure propaganda. The same approach as labeling AGW sceptics as “deniers” with the intention of aligning them with holocaust deniers. Many many high profile and famous people routinely receive some form of death threat, especially in the age of mass and anonymous Internet communication, so using this one does not hold water.

    AGW sceptics are routinely vilified and ridiculed simply because they support genuine scientific debate. For climate science to progress and regain credibility, the approach of AGW supporters – as represented in this website – needs to grow up. Climate science is currently suffering from th ‘cry wolf’ effect of too much alarmism. You only have yourselves to blame.

    The propaganda of this posting is preaching to the converted, and holds no,credibility for anyone else.

    Comment by Oakwood — 14 Feb 2012 @ 2:54 AM

  118. Re your response to my post 86
    “[Response: How is the Greenpeace office in India 'close to home'? Let's be extremely clear here, threatening people has no place in scientific discussions. But mainstream climate science is not the world's policeman, nor is it responsible for what any individual says. Those individuals are responsible for their own words, and in that case, the apology from Greenpeace was sincere, and the original statement ill-advised. - gavin]”
    To start it would help if you did not change my words, I said ’closer to home’, not ‘close to home’, they have different meanings. Since you asked me to explain I suggest a high ranking official in a prominent environmental group in India is closer to home than anonymous idiots who make threats to the head of the IPCC, who by chance also is based in India.
    The statement closer to home should also be read in conjunction with my earlier post 78
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/09/something_new_and_not_altogeth.html
    It is an interesting perspective from someone who in no way can be described as sceptic, it is worth reading to give balance, I include part of it here
    “Joe Romm, the physicist-cum-government-advisor-cum-polemicist, posted a blog entry highly critical of the Arctic ice article I wrote last week.Headlined “Dreadful climate story by BBC’s Richard Black”, it takes me to task, essentially, for not mentioning human-induced climate change explicitly. At least, that is the surface complaint; what my omission hides, he hints heavily, is an agenda aimed at downplaying the impacts of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions. He then gives my email address and invites his readers to send in complaints. Many have, perhaps swayed by judgemental terms in his post such as “spin”, “inexcusable”, and “mis-reporting”, with several citing his interpretation as gospel truth.”
    I am against the attacks on people from both sides of the debate, but it really does not help to suggest it is only on one side

    Comment by one step beyond — 14 Feb 2012 @ 3:39 AM

  119. The comment by Antonio Lorusso@3 stuck out (probably because it is in the first few). I recently read a comment at Scientific American that made the same old tired (usually American) point that climate scientists are funded by governments and that is a cause for concern. The author suggested wealthy ‘green’ people should fund the recently cancelled NOAA research.

    The point of course about this logic is that such patronage would be even more unacceptable by the ‘skeptics’ if it were to be used to effect public/national/international policy. The author I presume would still be critical of the research or would rather remain ignorant.

    Indeed, one of the most powerful political tools is to maintain ignorance and is used mainly by politicians, sales people and those with vested interests. To not research something, implies fear of what the knowledge may produce.

    Comment by Paul D — 14 Feb 2012 @ 5:32 AM

  120. Jeffrey: “This type of message control minimizes diversity of opinion and treats alternative theories as an attack instead of a debate.”

    What other theories? There are none. The denialists have failed utterly to articulate any sort of theory that explains the overwhelming majority of Earth’s climate history and avoids anthropogenic warming when we burn fossil fuels.

    This point cannot be emphasized enough. Anthropogenic climate change IS NOT a theory. It is an inevitable consequence of the consensus theory of Earth’s climate. It is the consensus theory because it works. “Anything but CO2″ does not rise to the level of theory. At best it is contrarianism and at worst delusion and denial.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 14 Feb 2012 @ 7:09 AM

  121. John,
    I will address your points in order, without mentioning any trees.
    1. The particular length of time is irrelevant. Long term (130+ years), temperatures are rising at ~ 0.6C/century. During that timeframe, several periods of higher and lower rises have occurred. We went through a two-decade period of higher rise during the 1980s and 90s, peaking during the EL Nino year of 1998, reaching almost 0.5C above the trend line. Since then, temperatures have trended towards the long term trend line, and are currently bellow the trend.
    2. La Nina has been cited as a possible cause for the recent deceleration in SLR. As with temperatures, SLR has increased and decreased during the past century plus, but has not deviated significantly from the overall rise of the past 80 years.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/sea_level_reservoir.gif
    3. I do not see any disagreement here.
    4. Questionable. Much of the movement has been related to the frost/freeze zone during the past few decades. Of course, mankind has moved plants much further than would occur naturally.
    5. Your second point goes more towards my earlier statement. The recent glacier melting was a removal of the added ice accumulated from years of growth. There simply is not as much left to melt.
    6. Again, this is an issue of measurement vs. uncertainty, with uncertainty having the upper hand here. While this may be the case, we cannot accurately make that determination.
    7. http://www.mycuteanimals.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/big_6-5-06-lemming.jpg
    8. All the above are valid points. The only thing acceleration currently is political spin.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2012 @ 7:24 AM

  122. Woollard: “This is what our Prime Minister said about climate sceptics”

    I agree that the quote should not have been said. However, a google search suggests that it was not said by your prime minister, but rather by an Aussie journalist (Jill Singer).

    (also, as a note: generic statements of death, while highly inappropriate, are less so than direct threats against specific individuals)

    (another minor note: Hayhoe’s first name is Katharine, with an a, and Inhofe doesn’t have an r in his name)

    Comment by MMM — 14 Feb 2012 @ 9:38 AM


  123. 31
    Annabelle says:
    12 Feb 2012 at 11:35 PM

    Sorry, but trying to paint climate scientists as persecuted victims won’t wash. There are crazies on all sides who make death threats….

    If skeptics/deniers were receiving the sort of threats that climate-scientists have been receiving, then Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, etc. etc. would have told us, and told us, and told us, and told us …. all about those threats. And then they would have told us again.

    Look at all the attention that Fox-News and Hate-Radio(tm) gave to Dr. Ben Santer’s little quip (in a private email) about being tempted to “beat the crap” out of Pat Michaels…. If skeptics were getting anywhere near the same treatment that legitimate scientists have been getting, you wouldn’t be able to turn on Fox News or Hate Radio(tm) without hearing all about it.

    Comment by caerbannog — 14 Feb 2012 @ 10:17 AM

  124. Regarding denialists’ conduct, here’s another data-point:

    Dan Farber
    February 13, 2012 6:17 pm
    We have had to supply police protection for speeches by climate scientists. It’s a sad reflection on the state of affairs when scientists risk harm because of their views

    Linky: http://legalplanet.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/whats-it-like-to-be-climate-scientist-michael-mann-think-bounty-not-the-good-kind/

    BTW, Dan Farber isn’t just your run-of-the-mill “nobody” on-line commenter — he’s a professor at UC Berkeley.

    Comment by caerbannog — 14 Feb 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  125. Jason wrote (#76): “this is not a science debate, this is a values debate”

    No, actually the entire point of the denialist propaganda campaign is to AVOID a values debate.

    Once we acknowledge the facts — the reality of anthropogenic global warming and the grave danger it presents to human civilization and to the Earth’s biosphere as we know it — then, of course, our values drive the choices we make about how to respond to those facts.

    And given that different people value different things, different people will prefer different choices, as they wish to realize different values. And then it is entirely legitimate, indeed necessary and inescapable, to have a real “values debate” where everyone honestly acknowledges both the facts and their particular values, and argues for the choices that they believe will realize those values.

    The problem for the fossil fuel corporations is that their role in that honest values debate would be to say “We value the trillions of dollars in profit that we expect to rake in from a few more decades of business-as-usual consumption of our products, and we couldn’t care less whether hundreds of millions of people suffer and die, and species go extinct, and entire ecosystems collapse as a result of global warming, because by then we’ll be rich and powerful enough to ride it out. Or at least we are willing to take that chance. So we advocate not only continuing, but increasing, the combustion of fossil fuels.”

    It is exactly to avoid making that honest, values-based, LOSING argument that the generation-long campaign of deceit, obstruction and denial of the science has been so successfully waged.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  126. Life without lights

    “The faces of some of the 1.4 billion people
    who live without electricity,
    illuminated with flashlights.”

    http://lifewithoutlights.com/contents/Global%20Flashlight%20Portraits/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2012 @ 11:36 AM

  127. Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2012 @ 11:15 AM

    Great insight, thank you.

    Comment by dbostrom — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  128. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X11007606
    Earth and Planetary Science Letters
    Volumes 321–322, 1 March 2012, Pages 74–80
    Continuously accelerating ice loss over Amundsen Sea catchment, West Antarctica, revealed by integrating altimetry and GRACE data

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  129. Thought and interesting post, thank you,
    For what it’s worth there are some videos with Stephen Schneider in which he talks about receiving threats himself as well as members of his family (in part 4)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWgLJrkK8NY

    Comment by Richard D — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:17 PM

  130. Thoughtful and interesting post thank you.
    For what it’s worth there are some videos with Stephen Schneider talking aout receiving threats himself as well as his family
    (in part 4):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWgLJrkK8NY

    Comment by Richard D — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  131. Thoughtful and interesting post thank you,
    For what it’s worth there are some videos with Stephen Schneider talking about receiving threats himself as well as his family (in part 4)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWgLJrkK8NY

    Comment by Richard D — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  132. #121 Dan H.

    Sorry Dan, still too many trees in your way, Either that or your just not looking deep enough.

    1. Length of time is relevant. Just because ‘you’ don’t understand the attribution regarding increased RF is doesn’t change the reality that is 90+% understood in the scientific community.

    2. The understanding in natural variation is always improving but tie that to precipitation values as measured and increased RF, and other factors, and suddenly the ‘trend’ picture to short term change becomes more clear, and can be placed in context of noise vs. signal (natural/human influence)

    Are you saying there are other possible causes for the SLR drop? Please cite.

    3. http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/arctic-polar-amplification-effect

    4. Not so questionable when you consider the latitudinal and altitudinal increase trend in the Hadley cell

    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/bibliography/related_files/jlu0701.pdf

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/316/5828/1181.short

    All you have to do to reason this out is recognize the increase in RF and the extreme likelihood that the RF will not be decreasing soon as there is currently no mechanism to reduce it on scale.

    5. Re. glacial ice mass? As I pointed out in #104 “If ‘some’ glaciers” the point is the chart tracking overall glacial ice loss hardly give any strong indicator of a decadal slowdown en masse.

    6. You questioning by singling out uncertainty without considering other relevant facts and likely other relevant papers. Fossil fuel burn is quantified. estimates put 50% of that CO2 going into the ocean. PH balance is changing. consider the null hypothesis at current understanding. Then, can you prove that the PH balance change on trend is not due to CO2 or that it is not trending with expectations due to CO2? Have fun with that.

    As to valid points:

    No, your points are not really valid, because they are relying on not only facts out of context with the bigger picture, your points also rely on reasoning out of context with those facts you are not including. Just pulling a Curry, does not make your point valid.

    It’s not a bout a single paper or a few papers. It’s about the body of evidence weighed together.

    Understanding climate change actually requires thinking and reasoning as well as evidence and physics in the bigger picture of the body of evidence. Reliance on ‘uncertainty, when using facts out of context of their apparent confluence realities is not being reasonable, in fact quite the opposite.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Feb 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  133. Jeffrey:

    This type of message control minimizes diversity of opinion and treats alternative theories as an attack instead of a debate.

    Revkin made a simple factual error because he misunderstood what had been said.

    Pointing out his error – which he agrees was an error, and which he promptly corrected – is “message control” , “minimized diversity of opinion”, and “treats alternative theories as an attack rather than debate”?

    This notion that errors shouldn’t be corrected but rather treated as “diversity of opinion” etc leaves me breathless …

    Comment by dhogaza — 14 Feb 2012 @ 1:11 PM

  134. #125–

    SA is so right. One of the enduring constants of the human condition is “cognitive dissonance”–the psychological discomfort resulting from holding incompatible constructs in mind simultaneously.

    Currently we have the potential dissonance:

    1) I’m a good person;
    2) I like my comforts.

    Not too bad, on the face of it, but when we add:

    3) My comforts depend upon the burning of fossil fuels; and
    4) Burning fossil fuels is increasingly dangerous and–since it is in effect predominantly at the expense of poorer and younger people than myself–selfish;

    then 1) & 2) start to clash.

    Proposition #3 is pretty hard to argue with, so #4 is the one that tends to give. (Of course, reality doesn’t give a damn what is convenient for us, either psychologically or practically.)

    All of which is basically to restate what SA said in other terms: denialism is about refusing to face values (and consequences) squarely. As such it’s a tempting, but morally and practically dangerous, choice.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 14 Feb 2012 @ 1:14 PM

  135. John,
    I find it rather convenient that every short-term drop you attribute to natural variation, but every short-term rise is somehow manmade. Do you think that nature is incapable of heating this planet? Natural variation is just that, forces which will result in warming for periods, and forces that will result in cooling over others. Maybe if you understood the climate as well as the rest of us, you would understand this and not be so smug in your comments. By all measures, natural has helped to warm the planet during the two prolonged warming periods during the 20th century, and acted to cool the warming trend during those preceding and following (yes – one is occurring now, whether you coose to believe that or not is immaterial). Remember, we are talking about the big picture here, not just short-term variations. This requires looking at all the evidence, not just that with which you agree. Be careful, lest you mimic the group you call “deniers,” which only use reports which satisfy their own beliefs.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2012 @ 2:05 PM

  136. 1) I’m a profitable corporation or individual corporate owner.
    2) I like my wealth.

    Since corporations have no ‘souls’, an identical result follows.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 14 Feb 2012 @ 2:32 PM

  137. Meanwhile, Canada’s Conservative govt appears to be shutting down climate data collection, so they don’t have to listen to the bad news resulting from their policies promoting BAU. This in addition to their whining about “foreign funded radical groups” [environmental organizations] interfering with proposed pipelines for petro exports – although they don’t seem to have objections to foreign funded petro companies trying to buy off First Nations groups. Free speech tangles with govt support of Big Petro. :(

    Comment by flxible — 14 Feb 2012 @ 3:05 PM

  138. 39-Lawrence Coleman says basically “Public misunderstanding on this subject” is easily manipulated when Climate Science are not explained in black and white terms.

    “I’m afraid it is very much up to you to unequivocally nail your flag on the post and state that Yes modern climate change IS manmade. Climate IS changing at an accelerating pace. Sea level rise IS locked in now for centuries to come and we all have to help to try to reduce it’s future impacts by acting now as a unified people, in a unified voice.
    No more technowaffle by scientists! The head climate scientists of the world should be allowed to directly address their respective nations on as many media outlets as possible.”

    I must concur more definitive forthright statements should be made immediately by the “world at large” if necessary a power point to the masses whatever it takes — the time to get done is NOW!

    Thanks

    Comment by Roger R. Hill — 14 Feb 2012 @ 3:08 PM

  139. Dan H. wrote: “Remember, we are talking about the big picture here, not just short-term variations”

    Your use of the word “we” is as dishonest as the content of your comments.

    What YOU are “talking about here” is denialist bunk. Distortions, misrepresentations, irrelevancies, and outright falsehoods.

    Everyone knows it. And you know it.

    And these juvenile rhetorical gambits that were old when USENET was new — like repeatedly asserting that other commenters who have rebuked falsehoods in your comments are “in agreement” with you — are fooling no one.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 14 Feb 2012 @ 3:51 PM

  140. Dan H @133 attempts to dismiss climate change as nothing more than natural variations in global temperature. He also claims that temperatures are currently declining. He also refers in first person to those who understand climate change.

    These three statements are incompatible. You don’t even have to understand climatology to be able to conclude from the temperature graph over the last century to know that temperatures are rising. And if you DO understand climatology, you’ll understand WHY temperatures are rising. Dan H, you fit into neither group.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 14 Feb 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  141. “Yes, scientists should get two votes! /sarc”

    CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs IR, and reemits it isotropically, warming the surface – one vote.
    Increased surface temperature increases water vapor in the atmosphere; it absorbs IR, and reemits it isotropically, further warming the surface – another vote.
    Surface warming melts winter snow earlier, and glaciers[1], and decreases summer sea ice at the poles, decreasing albedo which further warms the surface – several more votes.
    Scientists don’t get votes – they only get to tabulate nature’s votes, and try to discern which votes are larger than others.

    A policy vote that “global warming is a hoax” is comparable to a vote that “pi = three”, or commanding the sea not to rise. We don’t make our own reality, despite denialist claims to the contrary.

    [1] http://www.wgms.ch/mbb/mbb11/Fig2_2009.jpg Where is the evidence that glacial “loss has slowed in the recent decade?” The Nature article Recent contributions of glaciers and ice caps to sea level rise Jacob et al, – which used GRACE satellite data, instead of extrapolating sparse ground measurements, found that “The GIC rate for 2003–2010 is about 30 per cent smaller than the previous mass balance estimate that most closely matches our study period”. This doesn’t mean that the rates have fallen by 30%, but that different methods differ by thirty percent; the WGMS graph vertical axis should be scaled by ~ 0.7, but it still won’t show slowing loss.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 14 Feb 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  142. #133 Dan H.

    Facts out of context seem to be your modus operendi.

    First, I never said what you infer I said.

    What I’m saying is that short term natural variation (warmer /cooler) is largely driven by related ocean cycles and feedbacks. Current long-term warming is driven by the increase in radiative forcing. And no I’m not disregarding the long-term Milankovitch cycles.

    You seem simply unable to parse these issues which is why your analysis is inherently flawed. Now wonder you don’t post your full name.

    You continue to cherry pick your warming and cooling periods and overestimate your cause factors out of context. And you are not looking at the big picture you are focusing on your cherry picked little pictures.

    What you are inferring incorrectly is that short-term natural variation will override the long-term warming due to the increase in radiative forcing. Unfortunately you have no scientific case for that due to our current circumstance.

    I have never inferred, stated or otherwise claimed that short-term natural variation can push global temperatures up or down. That is a spin you seem to wish others to believe.

    As to whom is being smug, pot meet kettle.

    One question for you. Can you say right now, based on all the science in context that Earth in the year 2050 or 2100 will be cooler than current temperature and please cite your source.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Feb 2012 @ 4:33 PM

  143. #135 flxible, Yes, Canada’s dreadful current government is anti-science, anti-statistics and anti-reality. It is sinking further into the tar sands with every step and every obnoxious remark.

    The Conservatives are alienating many people with their blustering arrogance, including most of BC, and hopefully we can turf them in the next election. Meanwhile they can cause much damage.

    Another article about the cuts to Environment Canada monitoring: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/02/13/pol-scientists-warning-ozone-monitoring-custs.html

    Comment by Holly Stick — 14 Feb 2012 @ 4:33 PM

  144. Oops

    “I have never inferred, stated or otherwise claimed that short-term natural variation can push global temperatures up or down. That is a spin you seem to wish others to believe.”

    should be:

    I have never inferred, stated or otherwise claimed that short-term natural variation can not push global temperatures up or down. That is a spin you seem to wish others to believe.

    In other words, of course short-term natural variation can push global temperatures up and down. That is a separate issue form the long-term temperature rise based on the increase in radiative forcing.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 14 Feb 2012 @ 4:41 PM

  145. Chris,
    Where did you get the idea about climate change being just natural variability? You may also want to check a temperature graph. You seem to be missing something.

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  146. John,
    You seem to be doing exactly what you claim that I am doing, with your inferences.

    There is no cherry picking going on, unless you think that using the entire data set is somehow cherry-picking. In that case, everyone is cherry-picking, because we only have temperature data since about 1880. The long term trend since then is ~0.6C/century, and the most recent temperature data falls right on that trend line. That is the big picture. Call it cherry-picking, if you like, but if you are using other data, then perhaps, that is why we cannot see eye-to-eye.

    Funny, how you will make all sorts of erroneous inferences about what I say, but when I infer from your posts, you get all hot and bothered about facts taken out of context. First, you seem to infer that short term variations, namely ENSO, have resulted in the deceleration of SLR and temperature decreases recently. Am I correct? Secondly, if this is the case, then you must be able to attribute some warming influences during the opposite phases. The same would be true about any natural variation, unless its timeframe is sufficiently long compared to the themometer data.
    I do not know where the idea that short-term variations can predominate in the long term – I never made that claim. IS that part of your spin? However, short-term variations can predominate over the short term. Witness recent SLR and temperatures, and the period between WWII and the 1970s.

    With regards to your final question, the answer is a resounding no. While temperatures may cool for the next decade or so, natural variations will reverse, and combined with manmade influences, will push global temperatures higher, likely surpassing recent highs by 2050 (unless some major event occurs before then).

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2012 @ 6:39 PM

  147. “Spreaders” allow multiple baited hooks or lures to be trolled from a single line. There are many inventive spreader designs ….
    – wikipedia

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  148. DanH: “Do you think that nature is incapable of heating this planet? Natural variation is just that, forces which will result in warming for periods, and forces that will result in cooling over others. Maybe if you understood the climate as well as the rest of us ….”

    DanH: “Chris, Where did you get the idea about climate change being just natural variability?”

    DanH: “By all measures, natural [sic] has helped to warm the planet during the two prolonged warming periods during the 20th century, and acted to cool the warming trend during those preceding and following”

    So in the last quote you’re saying ‘natural variability’ isn’t very important? Or that it is just a distracting influence? Doesn’t really change the trend? That there really is a long term warming trend? Is that “natural”?

    Comment by flxible — 14 Feb 2012 @ 7:34 PM

  149. Dan, I have no idea what you’re referring to. The temperature graphs I have seen plainly show a secular rise in temperature. Do you have something else?

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 14 Feb 2012 @ 8:46 PM

  150. http://tamino.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/skepticsvrealistsv3.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2012 @ 10:20 PM

  151. Chris,
    Try this:
    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/gistemp/plot/gistemp/trend
    Natural variability about a linear trend. Notice the periods of higher rises and declines?

    Comment by Dan H. — 14 Feb 2012 @ 10:30 PM

  152. Dan H. @149 — Not periodic, merely oscillations.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 14 Feb 2012 @ 10:52 PM

  153. Sorry for the digression, but don’t assume that all the variability is “natural variability” — the linear trend Dan H. posts is supplied by the woodfortrees software. Climate isn’t expected to warm _steadily_ from fossil fuel use; ups and downs are part of that response.

    What’s the actual data doing? There’s some variability.

    Are there detectable declines in global annual temperature in that data?
    You’d look at the statistics to say — variability is part of the data.

    Or, if you don’t do statistics, you might trust your lying eyes, if you didn’t know better than to do that.

    As Tamino put it recently, in an analysis removing much of the known natural variations:

    “None of the data sets shows any evidence that the global warming rate has changed recently. A truly fascinating result is that increased precision enables us to establish the statistical significance of a warming trend using a shorter time span than with unadjusted data. All five data sets show statistically significant warming since 2000….

    … That shows, with great clarity and impact, the real global warming signal.

    And, it should put an end to real skeptics claiming that global warming has recently stopped or slowed down, because real skeptics base their beliefs on evidence. I don’t expect it will have much effect on the behavior of fake skeptics.”
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/the-real-global-warming-signal/

    —-
    Sorry for following up the digression, folks.
    I just love the smell of red herring in the morning.
    I’m apt to follow it, any time, anywhere.

    Academic freedom and free speech.
    One big problem for that is people who take over a meeting and want their agenda, not the one people agreed to meet to talk about.

    Stuff happens.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Feb 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  154. I rarely comment on these articles, preferring to read the discourse and hopefully learn something, however

    Dan H – I am really struggling to work out what sort of argument you are putting forward, as it appears to lapse into incoherence at times. Can you be more clear? It appears that you are deliberately prolonging this argument for no other reason than argument itself

    Comment by George Fripley — 15 Feb 2012 @ 12:05 AM

  155. Dan (@149), I looked at the chart of GIS temperatures you linked to; I’ve seen that data many times before. It’s quite clear: there’s a solid, undeniable upward trend. Sure, there are ups and downs; nobody denies the existence of natural variability in the measurements. What’s significant here is the strong upward secular trend.

    I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make. The obvious conclusion to draw from the graph is that temperatures are rising. If you’re arguing that there’s some variation in the data, and that this variation is somehow significant, then you are in need of a LOT of scientific training; those variations are what is called “noise” and they don’t mean much at all, because we’re talking about climate, not weather. Climate concerns what will happen over the long run, over time scales exceeding perhaps 30 years. The noise you see is all short term stuff.

    Moreover, I urge you to re-read my earlier post explaining the physics of heat capacity and the role that the oceans play in modulating surface temperatures. That should disabuse you of whatever misconceptions are motivating your concerns about the short-term fluctuations.

    Perhaps I have misinterpreted your statements; it would be good if you presented a clear statement of precisely what you think those fluctuations mean, or whatever you see in the GIS temperatures graph.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 15 Feb 2012 @ 1:09 AM

  156. “This type of message control minimizes diversity of opinion”
    ” ‘ This also means that all relevant information must be included – not just those which support one stand.’ Is this why you have such a wide spread of views represented in the blogs linked in the right hand panel?”

    Opinions aren’t facts; views aren’t information; belief isn’t reality; lying isn’t debating; and the conspicuously contrived and often self contradictory denialist arguments aren’t a plausible alternate scientific theory, but barely a bag of handleless hammers.

    Limbaugh, Watts, Monckton, Lindzen, Inhofe, Cuccinellli, Santorum, and the rest of their ilk have global warming opinions derived from their political, social, religious, and economic beliefs, and they are free to express them – and I am free to point out that they are lying when they present these opinions or other made up Scheiße as fact, or science. All the National Academies of Science, major scientific societies, government advisory panels, and other groups have concluded based on the science that global warming is being driven by fossil fuel CO2 emissions and poses a threat to society worldwide.

    Even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists admits that “growth in human population has increased energy use. This has contributed additional carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases to the atmosphere,” “…climate simulation models predict that the warming trend will continue, as reported through National Academy of Sciences, American Geophysical Union, American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and American Meteorological Society.” and “…as a group we have no particular claim to knowledge of global atmospheric geophysics through either our education or our daily professional work.”

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 15 Feb 2012 @ 5:06 AM

  157. George,
    John and I went back and forth concerning seven “proofs” he put forward concerning global warming.
    - Accelerating sea level rise
    - loss of Arctic Ice Mass
    - shifting temperature zones
    - seasonal shift
    - temperature trend changes
    - acceleration in global land based glacial ice mass loss
    - PH balance changes in the ocean

    I agreed with him on 2 and 4; Arctic Ice loss and seasonal shifts, countered that there is not enough evidence to make claims on two, temperature zones and pH, and disagreed on the other three. SLR is not accelerating (recent data shows deceleration). The temperature trend change is lower, not higher. Glacial ice mass loss has eased recently, although we agree that this may be due to higher losses in the recent past, reducing the amount of ice available for melting.

    A few others have chimed in making erroneous assertions, but that is the gist of the argument.

    My main point is that if you want to convince people (i.e John to Balasz), you have to put forth credible arguments.

    [Response:Yeah, why don't you try that Dan.--Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Feb 2012 @ 7:00 AM

  158. I’m sorry that this post has collected so many fervent trolls. Threats against climate scientists are real, and they are dangerous. Each of those threats costs those who are threatened energy, time and often money they can ill afford to spare. That so many of them continue to speak up in spite of the threats they receive makes them heroes in my mind.

    It’s true that on an individual basis, each of us must do what he or she can to mitigate his or her own contribution to global warming, but for humanity as a whole, it will clearly require the resources of government to avert calamities not yet experienced. But with Pappy O’Daniel populism proliferating, I am not optimistic.

    Comment by notjonathon — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:09 AM

  159. George, Regarding Dan H.’s argument, perhaps this will help:

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gish_gallop

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:11 AM

  160. #155 Dan H.

    You can’t understand the long-term effect on what the data is showing until you assimilate the impact of increased radiative forcing, which NASA estimates around 1.8 W/m2. All the evidence points listed have various degrees of validity in the scientific literature.

    Once you add the RF things begin to make sense. But you still don’t understand why the oceans ph balance changes when you add gigatons of CO2 each year.

    You’re still not seeing the big picture.

    The credibility is in the science papers. Your red herring festivals and straw-man building contests hold no credibility whatsoever. You’re just juggling air balls to distract from the radiative forcing.

    I’m inventing a new word for you: confusionist

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:38 AM

  161. I suspect censorship for ideological reasons is on the rise as well. Some time ago, Andy Revkin censored a post of mine because he thought I was revealing that Bjorn Lomborg is homosexual, something that was not my intent (I didn’t know, but it seems to be well known now) and my words might have been read that way and the post could have been offensive. Andy was doing his job (and protecting his friend) and I reworded.

    But this week, It happened again, this time with Andy protecting his friend Roger Pielke, but this time from criticism of his methodology, nothing personally offensive. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/whats-a-science-teacher-to-do/?comments#permid=115

    Now, Andy is definitely influenced by flattery, he takes a shine to people who butter him up like Lomborg, Pielke, Norhaus or Smil and it is often not the quality of their ideas which bring them to prominence on his blog. And, he seems to have developed a personal animosity towards James Hansen who brushes Andy off when Andy is posturing. So, personal issues can be quite influential.

    But, when Andy starts to prevent other people from expressing ideas on the set topic (which ironically happened to be a take off on the recent realclimate post on teaching science) a deep betrayal of principles is going on. It is time to brush up on civics. Censorship is a no-no just like intimidation and death threats.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:00 AM

  162. > confusionist

    “spreader” — used for trolling multiple baits, simulating schooling.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:45 AM

  163. See, this brings us around to the topic.

    What to do in a lecture, or classroom, or meeting, when there’s one or two people present whose interest is in delay and confusion, who aren’t known to most of those present, and who are muddying the water while trying to sound like they are moderate, informed, helpful people? How do you handle it when the really good mimics show up, the smooth salesmen? These are paying jobs, for businesses threatened by good science or public health.

    This happens in public speech, in academia, and in work environments, as well as in lightly moderated shared writing like blogs.

    Someone whose interest is in dominating the discourse, hoping to fool enough of the participants by mimicry, copying the words and phrases used by informed people, but slipping in counterfactual claims.

    It’s often a dilemma.

    The high point of online writing — Usenet newsgroup software — handled this with killfiles. Each individual user maintained his or her own list, so it was possible to ignore any number of spreaders and keep a conversation going only with those interested in the subject. It was like being able to talk in a hurricane without being deafened. Wonderful tool.

    That’s not available in real academic meetings, or most blogs. And in a forum like this, done for an audience that (some of them) do want to learn the science, with participants like most of us who are trying also to learn and sometimes (like John R.) to teach — having the disrupters present is part of the exercise.

    Regrettably responding to the crap also educates the disrupters, particularly the clever mimics who are there to learn how to sound like scientists and pretend to be scientists.

    As they improve their act, they will lard in more and more false statements in each response, Gish-style.

    Pharyngula handles it explicitly:
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/plonk.php

    For any given forum, any time spent chasing red herring is distraction from the discussion. Damned hard not to go for the stuff when done in quantity.

    “For many species, the exertion expended to attack and consume a single baitfish is not worth its energy cost. But a single spreader rig can imitate 20 or more baitfish. Troll four of them and you have 80 lures in the water. Contrast this to your typical trolling pattern of 3 to 6 single lures. If you were a desperate, competitive, greedy, opportunistic predator, which would you find most attractive?”
    http://www.bongossportfishing.com/spreader%20bars.html

    Sad to say chasing widely spread bait encourages use of fake schooling tools.

    “Blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah ….”
    Woof.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Feb 2012 @ 11:03 AM

  164. There is a Harvard Physicists that decided to run for a seat MA as a GOP politician. He just wrote this piece claiming that CO2 is not responsible for global warming. I am looking to see if anyone has already debunked his little article : http://www.mikestopa.com/2012/02/sixteen-concerned-scientists/

    Comment by FP — 15 Feb 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  165. #161 Hank Roberts

    I think it’s harder to deal with online. Especially when one must address an anonymous puff of airball fluff.

    When I’m in a room in person, people are willing to argue a point but as soon as it is put in context, all but the most hard core conspiracy theorists and ‘confusionists’ will still attempt to stand their ground.

    I’m not sure but I think the public nature prevents a great deal of attempting to stand on unsound conjecture.

    I have another talk this weekend to a private group and will poll the audience before and after.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 15 Feb 2012 @ 12:13 PM

  166. Being plonked by PZ is an asset, not a liability, Hank.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 15 Feb 2012 @ 12:28 PM

  167. Hank Roberts @161 raises an excellent point. I have been participating in online discussions since about 1988 (when we were using dialup at about 2400 baud) and this is a perennial problem. The most effective strategy I have seen is an activist moderator who enforces rules about comment relevancy combined with a clear policy about topic drift. That wasn’t too difficult way back then when there weren’t so many participants. Nowadays, with the large number of commentators, it’s much more time-consuming to pull that off.

    Daily Kos implemented a complex plan for crowd-sourcing the evaluation of commentary, and it doesn’t work that well.

    I think that the best overall strategy is to deny absolute anonymity to commentators. They should be able to remain anonymous publicly, but their identities should be established by the moderators. In other words, readers of this blog would not know the identities of others, but the moderators would maintain a database of IP addresses of all commentators. This would, of course, require sturdy protections against hacking, which adds to the effort required.

    There are some blogs that require logging in via Facebook, WordPress, or Twitter accounts; these might be ways of confirming the true identities of commentators.

    The value of this lies in the threat of denying access to those who engage in FUD tactics. You can’t really come down hard on somebody for any single post, but it is possible to identify an overall pattern of behavior by an individual, and I think that a moderator could wield the banishment threat so effectively that the actual implementation would not be so onerous.

    Most importantly, this would prevent the use of multiple accounts by deniers. We know that there are paid disrupters hiding among the ideologically-motivated denialists; we’d want to identify and block these paid disrupters, which could be accomplished by seeing past all those multiple identities.

    While the elimination of anonymity from the Internet as a whole is a highly controversial issue, I think that the elimination of anonymity from selected regions of the Internet would do much to improve the quality of the information in those areas. RealClimate is a valuable resource of reliable scientific information, and I think it appropriate for the moderators here to exercise a firmer hand in maintaining a high signal to noise ratio.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 15 Feb 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  168. Since we are on the topic of press coverage and the fact that the article quoted was in a Norwegian magazine: Today Norways major newspaper, Aftenposten, happily proclaimed over basically its entire front page that climate change had completely fallen off the radar for young people. The paper used to have a most excellent coverage of climate science, but has turned into something resembling a bona fide denialist rag over the last couple of years. According to the research quoted, concern over climate change had rapidly fallen from 2nd place and out of top 10 on the list of issues that concern the youth. Not surprising at all, unfortunately. If a topic isn’t somewhat related to FaceTube, it is of no interest to most young folks. In addition, the people interviewed for the article seem to have willingly absorbed most of the denialist propaganda: That there is still major “debate” among the scientists, cold winters, volcanoes emit more, etc. The only real science quoted was the latest info on the Himalayan glaciers. How odd.
    The paper is basically reporting on the effects of its and the rest of the MSMs substandard and misleading reporting over the past few years.

    Anything to discredit the science, it seems. Wonder if they will allow as much space for coverage of the developing Heartland scandal. I’m not holding my breath.

    Comment by Esop — 15 Feb 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  169. I have also participated in online discussions since the early 1990s starting with USENET newsgroups.

    FWIW, I think the best way to deal with deliberately disingenuous time-wasters is to stop pretending that they are “arguing” in good faith when you know that they are not. Don’t waste your time engaging with their repetitive dishonesty — that’s what they want, is to get you to waste your time. Just point out the fact that they are knowingly, deliberately and repetitiously dishonest.

    As the story of Rumplestiltskin illustrates, sometimes calling out a “troll” by his true name is enough to make him go away.

    Someone like “Dan H” knows that he’s not going to confuse or “convince” the regular readers here with any of his misleading and obfuscatory denialist claptrap. But he also knows that he can take advantage of readers’ desire to correct the “misstatements” that fill his comments to get them to waste their time on endless, pointless “arguments” over the most basic facts about climate change.

    Which is, of course, exactly where the Koch Brothers and the Heartland Institute and their ilk want everyone to be stuck, for as long as possible — rather than talking about what we urgently need to do given those facts.

    In the time it takes to compose a point-by-point rebuttal to the claims that Dan H. posts here — claims which he, of course, is already well aware are bogus — you could write a couple of emails to your Senators or Representative urging them to take action on AGW in whatever way you advocate.

    Which is a better use of your time?

    Which way do you suppose Dan H. — and the people who spoon-feed him his talking points — would prefer you spend your time?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Feb 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  170. > plonked by PZ is an asset

    Glad you think so :-)

    Seriously, there are various ways that respect the person while not letting the mistakes be propagated, all better than just hosting a catfight blog.

    Pharyngula and Deltoid handle bunk-spreaders differently:
    Pharyngula lists those plonked and why, with a link to their blogs if any; Deltoid creates a personal topic and restricts them to that one.

    Those get used once the host tires of dealing with the person (or for using sockpuppets, or other offenses), they’re filtering the person out.

    RC’s Contributors — often responding inline — focus on education or rebuttal about specific assertions or beliefs (they’ve corrected stuff I got wrong or didn’t understand well, which I’ve much appreciated). The RC sidebar “…With Inline Responses” links to those are most helpful.

    Tamino occasionally promotes some persistently mistaken idea to a topic to sort it out, as in Trend and Uncertainty

    All those, I think, work fairly well.

    They must take an awful lot of work by the hosts, though.

    I hope someone competent to recognize good programming eventually proposes somehow crowdfunding a better blog tool for this, I’d sure contribute. There are ways
    http://cultureconductor.com/2011/02/kickstarter-fundraising-myths-facts-and-alternatives/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Feb 2012 @ 1:19 PM

  171. Regarding the Dan H.s of the world, and their masters, how despicable can one be to attempt to delay action on a life or death issue like this? It’s like deceiving the occupants that there’s no fire in a burning building.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 15 Feb 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  172. FP,
    Mr. Stopa’s effort is pretty poor. Frankly, I think the U. of MD should hang its head in shame for giving him his degree.

    Basically, Stopa trots out the usual denialist tactics:
    1)Say CO2 is a “trace gas”, and hope nobody sits down and does the math and finds that a typical 15 micron IR photon would pass within a wavelength of 10^15 CO2 molecules on its way out of the atmosphere. I know. I did the math. Did Mikey?

    2)Then he cites an absolutely meaningless measurement of a short-term trend–H2O in the fricking tropopause. Really, Mike? Really?

    3)Then he accuses climate scientists of “just going along”. This right here makes it really hard to imagine Mikey is a real scientist. Scientists are not known for being accommodating. Just ask my wife.

    4)And then he cites the Wall Street Urinal Letter, as if to say, “Look, I’m not the only moron.”

    Really, this is just a sad effort. I hope voters in MA have more sense than this.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Feb 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  173. #170 Walter, the science says the globe is warming and we play a role. Calling it a life or death issue is hyperbole. Right this moment there are people dying from many things preventable. My cause is to bring food, housing, medicine, education, employment to people who need it (using all energy options available-I might add). I don’t come here saying “Walter you don’t support my cause and therefore you’re despicable.” Tolerance for other ideas will go a long way in moving the global warming conversation forward.

    Comment by Michael W — 15 Feb 2012 @ 2:42 PM

  174. Another zinger by SecularAnimist:

    In the time it takes to compose a point-by-point rebuttal to the claims that [self-debasing chump] posts here — claims which he, of course, is already well aware are bogus — you could write a couple of emails to your Senators or Representative urging them to take action on AGW in whatever way you advocate.

    Catharsis in comments threads should be budgeted so as to leave energy for effective communication.

    Oh, and money helps, too: Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. It takes just a little over two minutes to help emulsify some of the oily, litigious mess now gumming up the work of folks such as Michael Mann, if you can afford it. If we’re learning anything from the Heartland Hemorrhage, it’s how relatively little money is required to steer the future. Should you have time and money, put a little of it where it counts.

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Feb 2012 @ 3:00 PM

  175. #168 SA I am grateful Realclimate engages people like Dan H, and Jeffrey. Blog authors with like minded commenters are a waste of time IMO. Let people throw questions out there regardless of their motivation.

    [Response:Negative. We ain't here for fun and games and we have every right to judge the intent behind questions and respond accordingly--Jim]

    The longer an idea stands up to criticism, the stronger it gets. If Gavin & Co. aren’t getting dissenters commenting, it would be in their best interest to go find them. Don’t look this gift horse in the mouth.

    Comment by Michael W — 15 Feb 2012 @ 3:36 PM

  176. Amazing trove at The Heartland Institute (see update to the OP).

    Let’s use it wisely…

    Comment by Jaime Frontero — 15 Feb 2012 @ 4:05 PM

  177. Michael @174: you’re quite right that lively discussion, including serious disagreement, is vital to intellectual health. If you read some of scientific posts around here, you’ll see just that kind of thing. The problem arises when people with a political agenda invade a science blog and raise stupid issues that do not bring up any interesting scientific questions. If they would just peruse the pages of this blog, they’d find the answers to all their questions. But they’re not raising these questions out of scientific curiosity, they simply want to disrupt the conversation.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 15 Feb 2012 @ 4:13 PM

  178. #172–”Calling it a life or death issue is hyperbole.”

    No, Michael W. It’s factual. The main uncertainty is, “life and death” for how many, and where. (Not that these uncertainties aren’t import.)

    For example, consider the heatwaves in Europe in 2003 (30,000 premature deaths) and in Russia in 2010 (11,000 premature deaths.) These events most likely would not have occurred without the warming trend induced (in large part) by human GHG emissions. And it’s virtually certain that we’ll see many more such events in the future. That’s clearly a “life and death” issue.

    Similarly, widespread precipitation and drought anomalies–already apparently being observed, but in any case reliably expected to increase in a warming world–threaten to put agriculture under significant new stresses and pressures in the future. (As a current example, you may wish to Google the words “Mexican drought.”) Again, that’s clearly a matter of “life and death”–as perhaps you appreciate, given that you list bringing food to those who need it is one of your ’causes.’

    We don’t know what all the consequences are, and we won’t until we actually see what all happens. But there’s more than enough scientific information on potential consequences to know that “life and death” is a real stake in this global game of chicken. Some of the more ‘lurid’ predictions may be ‘hyperbole.’ But that the issue of climate change is a “life and death” one is certainly not.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Feb 2012 @ 4:14 PM

  179. Michael W at 172, we disagree on whether global warming is a life or death issue. If you heed the science, it clearly will be a matter of life or death for many humans within a very short time frame and, in fact, already is for many species. Closing your mind and calling it hyperbole doesn’t make it so.

    What really interests me is that your post seems to advocate lying to advance or stall a course of action. How do you defend that?

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 15 Feb 2012 @ 4:23 PM

  180. Walter, go ahead, ask the experts here if the body of science supports the claim of “deaths for many humans within a very short time frame”.

    Comment by Michael W — 15 Feb 2012 @ 4:55 PM

  181. Michael W

    Calling it a life or death issue is hyperbole.

    Well it’s not a politically correct thing to say, not a phrase I would use myself. But let me ask you, in what way is it not a life or death issue? Do you respond negatively to the phrase because the time scale is not immediate and the problem only inexorable?

    “If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?” — Steve Wright

    Rhetoric and buzz phrases which target psychological weaknesses in reasoning require little effort to generate, and when applied with enough persistence and energy they can have an edge in the naive mind over the subtle difficulties of hard science.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 15 Feb 2012 @ 5:11 PM

  182. Michael W wrote: “Tolerance for other ideas will go a long way in moving the global warming conversation forward.”

    Repetitive, deliberate lies are not “other ideas”. They are just lies.

    Michael W wrote: “The longer an idea stands up to criticism, the stronger it gets.”

    Repetitive, deliberate lying is not “criticism”. It is just lying.

    Look, I agree that there are people who comment here who have been deceived by deliberate liars, and are merely repeating what they’ve been told by others whom they mistakenly trust.

    And the moderators of this site, as well as the scientifically-knowledgeable commenters, have always given such people the benefit of the doubt — the assumption that they are themselves misinformed, and not deliberate disinformers — and have demonstrated the patience of saints in gently, politely, carefully and respectfully communicating the scientific facts to them. They’ve devoted a great deal of their time to that effort, in fact — so any suggestion that they are intolerant of actual “skeptics”, however ill-informed those “skeptics” may be, is baseless.

    But beyond a certain point, it becomes obvious that someone is not merely misinformed, but is a deliberate disinformer who is here to knowingly and intentionally repeat tiresome, thoroughly debunked falsehoods, distortions, irrelevancies, obfuscations and nonsense.

    And Dan H. has long since passed that point.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 15 Feb 2012 @ 5:32 PM

  183. Heartland Institute stuck in the same old rut:

    “Those cigarettes may not be linked to cancer… that C02 may not be causing warming… our documents may have been altered.

    They don’t really know much, do they? Except, how to reliably feather their own nest with donor dollars. Sweet gig.

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Feb 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  184. #175 Jim, setting aside the obvious junk posts, what you call “fun and games” is my reason for coming here. I tend to think more along the lines of Dan H. and I like to see my issues objectively discussed. You can’t solve this climate crisis alone. Your going to have to speak to a lot of people who don’t agree with you. I don’t think this blog is here to convince the already convinced.

    [Response:You're missing the point. All these kinds of questions he raises have mostly been raised, and answered, over and over again until people are sick of it, as anybody knows who's been reading this blog for a while. We're not here to repeat the same stuff over and over to a new group of people with the same types of questions every other day, especially when those questions display a certain shall we say, detectable attitude or level of awareness. People are responsible for educating themselves to some level of awareness, and making an honest effort to understand some fundamentals, before they bring their questions. It perhaps appears to you that Dan H. is asking sensible questions, but the rest of us know the kind of malarkey, simplistic reasoning, opinions passing as scientific evaluation, and outright falsehoods that he often brings to the discussion. There's a huge amount of information available to the general public on this stuff, and you have to take the primary initiative to educate yourself.--Jim]

    Comment by Michael W — 15 Feb 2012 @ 5:46 PM

  185. “…ask the experts here if the body of science supports the claim of “deaths for many humans within a very short time frame”.”

    Experts here, not so much, maybe. Experts elsewhere? A very short search reveals:

    An analysis led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health calculated that the city of Chicago could experience between 166 and 2,217 excess deaths per year attributable to heat waves using three different climate change scenarios for the final decades of the 21st century. The study was published May 1 edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

    “Our study looks to quantify the impact of increased heat waves on human mortality. For major a U.S. city like Chicago, the impact will likely be profound and potentially devastating,” said Roger Peng, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Climate Change Analysis Predicts Increased Fatalities from Heat Waves

    What’s brief? What’s many? How many Chicagos are sprinkled over the surface of the globe, and can we confidently divide the continuum between now and the end of this century such that we may say many did not die in a very brief time?

    We’re immersed in a vast ocean of numbers. Learn to swim in statistics, or be ok with drowning.

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Feb 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  186. Your top link links to my recent post on recently released Heartland Institute documents (generating a lot of interest today). The post covers a number of topics, almost all of which remain in the current version (key projects, funding etc.)

    But all references to the “2012 Climate Strategy” document have been removed, as that one document’s authenticity has been vehemently rejected by Heartland. In most cases, it was a question of replacing the project description from one place with one from another place. However one quote (halfway down) dealt with Forbes magazine and “keeping voices out”. As the underlying document is in dispute, that quote has been removed.

    So the link may well be irrelevant now. (No need to post this if you don’t want to).

    Comment by Deep Climate — 15 Feb 2012 @ 6:10 PM

  187. “But all references to the “2012 Climate Strategy” document have been removed, as that one document’s authenticity has been vehemently rejected by Heartland.”

    Evidently, they don’t like it when people tell lies about them–if that’s indeed what happened.

    Imagine that!

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 15 Feb 2012 @ 6:31 PM

  188. Jim’s reply to Michael W. #184:

    [...There's a huge amount of information available to the general public on this stuff, and you have to take the primary initiative to educate yourself.--Jim]

    Michael, much of that information is available from this very website. It’s waiting for you to avail yourself of it.

    Comment by Mal Adapted — 15 Feb 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  189. Michael W @184 “Setting aside the obvious junk posts…”

    Indeed.

    “I don’t think this blog is here to convince the already convinced.”

    I actually agree with that. Not being a mind reader, I suspect at least a portion of the motivation behind the blog is to give the interested layperson a window into developments in the field, including where the real debates are occurring.

    We’re well beyond the point of debating the role and effects of increasing CO2 concentrations. If you need that kind of convincing, well, maybe you need to take it upon yourself to get the education required to be a responsible citizen.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 15 Feb 2012 @ 7:07 PM

  190. Just catching up on Heartland, very nasty, DeSmogBlog crash and all. Seems to be a mainstream news blackout on this. This needs publicity of every kind, it’s really horrible.

    Thanks, Doug Bostrom, you’re right it would make more sense to pursue people that matter rather than massaging my sense of outrage and talking about it to the choir.

    Nice trove at Tenney’s place, and no doubt elsewhere.
    http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/

    DotEarth has a brand new post on it
    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/documents-appear-to-reveal-broad-effort-to-amplify-climate-uncertainty/#more-42763

    which appears at first glance to give undue weight (above the fold) to Heartland’s apology to its people rather than the substance of the rather horrifying (but not surprising) material. He says, too bad this attitude didn’t apply to the CRU hack, but goes on to give a sympathetic in-depth interview to Craig Idso.

    My amateurism is not up to properly calling this, but will go over there and try anyway, hoping not to do any harm on the way.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Feb 2012 @ 7:26 PM

  191. Michael W., Ah, I see someone hasn’t been paying attention. Did you know that areas in severe drought have more than doubled since the ’70s?

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JHM-386.1

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/catalog/climind/pdsi.html

    Did you know that this trend was predicted by climate models and is expected to worsen as warming intensifies? Now, Michael, what do you think will happen when a significant portion of the planet is in drought in 2050 and we have 10 billion mouths to feed? Now add in severe and unexpected rainstorms that wash away harvests and topsoil, CO2 dissolved in the oceans that bleaches coral and leads to dead zones, depleted aquifers and a dearth of cheap energy. Do you really think a population of 10 billion will be sustainable under those circumstances? What population doyou think would be sustainable? Is the difference sufficient to get your attention?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Feb 2012 @ 7:33 PM

  192. Deep Climate: “But all references to the “2012 Climate Strategy” document have been removed, as that one document’s authenticity has been vehemently rejected by Heartland.”

    Hmm, anybody else reminded of the scene in Austin Powers where he keeps telling Liz Hurley, “It’s not mine, Baby?”

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 15 Feb 2012 @ 7:37 PM

  193. Thanks for the link Ray…it certainly fits the bill for Dan H

    Comment by George Fripley — 15 Feb 2012 @ 7:53 PM

  194. Andy Revkin describes the person he is going to interview about Heartland:

    ‘Craig D. Idso, one of the scientists whose financial relationship with the Heartland group…’

    A journalist describes a person about be interviewed about governance of Syria:

    ‘Bashar Assad, medical doctor whose financial relationship with the Ba’ath Party…’

    It does not seem as though the most informative descriptor of Craig Idso is that of “scientist.” Sure, Idso’s got his PhD in geography, but that has about the same relevance to his current career trajectory as does Assad’s MD to Assad’s role as regional secretary of the Ba’ath Party and President of Syria. Both men now seem primarily concerned with political ideology and its material benefits, not their original academic and professional pursuits.

    Comment by dbostrom — 15 Feb 2012 @ 8:20 PM

  195. On second thought, none of my business, but leave it alone, maybe? If we all leave DotEarth alone, it will be such an obvious hangout for the phony skeptic choir and they won’t have us to practice on.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Feb 2012 @ 8:30 PM

  196. My amateurism is not up to properly calling this

    Then I can call it. He’s called an apologist.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 15 Feb 2012 @ 8:35 PM

  197. Michael,
    Do you not find it ironic that the same people claiming others are spreading misinformation go on to claim that drought is on the rise, even though it has clearly decreased.

    [Response:Decreased where Dan? At what rate and since when? With what likely cause? Based on what drought definition and what data and what studies?--Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:18 PM

  198. Stopa recalls Lubos Motl . He writes code and administers the computers used in condensed matter modeling by Harvard’s nanotech group, and on his own time runs writes deathless political essays like :

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/12/obamacare_and_the_ratchet_theory_of_history.html#ixzz1j6gTR5UG.

    He also runs for Congress. Does that make him a politician ?

    Comment by Russell — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:26 PM

  199. Sorry,
    Forgot the attachment.
    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/catalog/climind/pdsi_old.html

    [Response:Ah! Based on a web page describing a 15 year old paper citing 17 year old data! Why of course!--Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:37 PM

  200. DanH – The cites for your contention that “drought has clearly decreased”, and the time and spatial scale please. Or is this from “personal research”?

    Comment by flxible — 15 Feb 2012 @ 9:53 PM

  201. Dan, when you make these kinds of (extremely simplified) claims in a scientific forum inhabited by literate fauna, it is customary to accompany those claims with at least one reference, for instance :

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6046/1093.5.full

    [Response:Or perhaps this one...--Jim]

    As the literate members of this forum can see by a simple perusal of the relevant modern subject literature, your claim is vastly oversimplified.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:02 PM

  202. Michael, it’s apparent that you have approached this problem with objectivity; if you are open to the facts, I strongly urge you to peruse some of the excellent material on this site, especially the stuff in the “Highlights” section of the right sidebar. There’s lots of other great information; on YouTube there are some excellent videos entitled “Climate Denial Crock of the Week”. This is a complicated subject and it’s way too easy to get inundated in one point of view. Just as you applaud a breadth of opinion here on this blog, I recommend that you expose yourself to a breadth of opinion on various websites. Peruse some of the other blogs listed on the right side panel. And yes, you should look at some of the denialist sites, such as wattsupwiththat. I believe that the denialist sites are nests of lies, but you should be able to make that decision for yourself if you expose yourself to a breadth of sources of information.

    Dan H @197 disputes the veracity of information about increasing droughts, even though that information is documented with two links, one of which is a scientific paper. By contrast, Dan H. offers no support for his own claim. This, I think, presents us with one more example of denialist mendacity.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:08 PM

  203. 25 Balazs says:
    12 Feb 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Hi Gavin,

    “First off, no ‘huge financial decision’ was ever made based on that single line in the (3000 page) IPCC report”.

    That 3000 page IPCC report is the basis of all renewable subsidies (including biofuels). Developed countries already devoted significant resources to wind turbines, solar panels etc. Several countries already set up carbon trading schemes that largely became the source of vast corruption. All these action was the result of politicians “listening” to climate scientist.

    [Response: Not really. These decisions were made by policy makers taking science into account, but they were not dictated by any of the science, nor by the scientists as a whole (obviously individual scientists have personal policy preferences like everyone else). Climate science has correctly (IMO) highlighted (for instance) the role of increasing CO2 emissions in causing climate change that will likely be deleterious in years and decades to come. Policymakers can choose to act (in the EU) to try and reduce the emissions, or not (in the US). The idea that climate scientists suddenly deprive policymakers of their free will is a little odd. - gavin]”

    Pretty specious argument, Gavin. When you make claims that result in the IPCC saying “the rise in CO2 is highly likely to due to human activities” and list many potentially catastrophic events caused by higher CO2 you can’t hide behind a claim that you didn’t affect the positions chosen by politicians. Paricularly when the the whole IPCC apparatus was set up to “summarize the scientific evidence of human caused climate change” and what could be done about it. Somehow I’ve missed all the published papers saying that while CO2 is rising and so are global temperatures it really isn’t all that much and won’t have catastrophic effects, so tremendously expensive, ineffective policies aren’t needed. Adaptation is the key to coping with any effects.

    [Response: Love the way you twist things! Maybe you should join a dance troop? Perhaps we can just posit that "the rise in CO2 is highly likely to due to human activities" != "the himalayan glaciers will disappear in 2035" and that "reducing emissions" != "tremendously expensive, ineffective policies", or that if there wasn't any evidence that humans caused climate change, the IPCC reports would be a lot shorter? If you'd like to have a serious conversation, stop playing word games, but if you just want to vent, take it elsewhere. - gavin]

    Comment by George M — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:10 PM

  204. Drought decreasing: huh?

    Texas? The Horn of Africa? Australia (it’s a big country, but lots of it is dry)? China? just for starters …

    Wildfires on the increase?

    Point is, extremes. More floods where floods are normal, more drought where drought is expected. More energy in the system and more water vapor, but that doesn’t work out to be wet everywhere.

    The evidence is against you and wishes aren’t horses.

    Try Earth Observatory for real observations:

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:32 PM

  205. Another anecdotal drought item:

    I spend a lot of time in a part of New Jersey (near Princeton), which has a history of alternating drought and flood. Lately, these alternations have become more extreme. Weeks have turned into months. More water sometimes, less other times. You could ignore the detail and assume it’s all even, but it’s not. It’s wreaking havoc on nature, which heals for a while but begins to display trauma as it accelerates. Climate change in a layperson’s nutshell!

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 15 Feb 2012 @ 10:39 PM

  206. Justin Gillis, NYTimes, has now produced a good summary:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/science/earth/in-heartland-institute-leak-a-plan-to-discredit-climate-teaching.html

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:06 AM

  207. George @203, apparently you misunderstand how policy is made in a rational polity. There’s a basic causal relationship in rational policymaking:

    information => policies

    First, you figure out everything you can that might affect your situation. That’s done by experts who understand the material. So if you’re thinking about economic issues, you consult economists, not burger flippers. If you’re thinking about military issues, you consult military experts, not dentists. And of course, if you’re thinking about climate change, you consult climatologists. Makes sense so far?

    Having assembled the best available information, you then consider your options. This is a policy decision, and policy decisions are made by politicians. Climatologists don’t make policy decisions and politicians don’t make climatology decisions (although Mr. Inhofe seems rather confused on this point.)

    So here’s the causal chain with respect to climate change:

    Climatologists provide information that politicians use to make policy.

    Clear enough? If you’re worried about policy, talk to politicians. If you’re worried about climatology, talk to climatologists. Render unto Caesar and all that.

    Can you now see why it’s muddled to mix politics into climatology? Climatology informs politics, not the other way around (although again, most deniers are in fact using political opinions to draw scientific conclusions, a striking non sequitur.)

    Of course, climatologists, like any other citizens, are entitled to their opinions regarding policy, and they are free to make whatever recommendations they see fit, just as you are. But the fact that they give voice to their opinions does not alter the results of their scientific research, and in fact their political opinions are given no more weight than those of any other citizen. It’s their SCIENTIFIC RESULTS that prudent politicians take into account — if only we had some prudent politicians in the USA.

    Finally, blaming climatologists for any policy results that emerge from their information is just shooting the messenger. The scientists provide the information, not the policies. Yes indeed, if we heed the information being provided by scientists we will take actions that cost us money today — but if we make prudent decisions, the money we lose today will be far offset by the amount of money we save in the future.

    That’s what we should be debating vis-a-vis climate change: how much should we be willing to sacrifice today to provide for the future? At heart, it’s a simple matter of future happiness versus current happiness. It is greatly complicated by the many uncertainties about how serious the damage will be and how much it will cost us to avert those future damages. We’ve now established that the future costs will run into the trillions of dollars per year late in this century, and could well rise that high much sooner. We have not adequately developed cost estimates for the policies required to avert such future costs, and that should be our priority now. Instead, we’re wasting time engaging in “information overkill”, assembling megatons of data to overcome the megadollars of PR being spent by corporate interests. Unfortunately, it appears that, in this country at least, a dollar of PR money has more political sway than a megabyte of information.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:16 AM

  208. Some Heartland Institute funders particularly puzzles me, Microsoft??? ATT??? Giant Techno companies totally owing their very existence to the science they are now funding to deny… Amazingly sad, incomprehensible…. WUWT getting cash from Heartland is no surprise, completely part and parcel of their mantra, rabid anti-science propaganda needs funding, otherwise it ceases to exist.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 16 Feb 2012 @ 4:44 AM

  209. Scientists already have a route to a larger voice in society: they can run for office or take higher level administrative positions in government. Beyond that, their roles are and should be limited to regulatory issues in given areas. While it’s important that they have freedom of speech, it’s equally important that policy makers are in positions where they are directly responsible to voters.

    Comment by Jim Harvey — 16 Feb 2012 @ 6:17 AM

  210. “Paricularly when the the whole IPCC apparatus was set up to “summarize the scientific evidence of human caused climate change” and what could be done about it.”

    One of the most persistent fallacies: that devoting attention to a (potential) problem implies prejudging it as well.

    But if you compare (say) IPCC and NIPCC reports, it is very obvious indeed who is doing serious inquiry–signs of this include careful consideration of a wide range of possibilities, clear characterization of uncertainties, and comprehensive bibliography–and who is doing spin.

    [ReCaptcha: "imprimis. tablejo"]

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 16 Feb 2012 @ 6:26 AM

  211. If it’s possible to get a further comment…

    When it is said that: [..."reducing emissions" != "tremendously expensive, ineffective policies", ... - gavin]

    I’m envisioning the idea that the IPCC is reporting the state of the science, but in no way either advocates, endorses, recommends, suggests, or even ‘has’ a particular strategy to achieve what it says needs to happen (ie, “reducing emissions”).

    I recall the issues where there are a number of NGOs and other advocacy groups that are represented at high levels of IPCC processes and authorships– a lot of those groups have policies in mind to advocate. I’m assuming these folks inovlved in the IPCC need to check these at the door, rather than weaving them into its literature?

    Remember the Greenpeace model simulation memo that dictated xyz may be possible “if the political will exists”? I guess I’m wondering if certain policy proposals that arise in response to IPCC reports can ‘get a pass’ if they are NOT enacted because they are deemed “Tremendously Expensive”? It seems like the only solutions that will work to meet what the IPCC indicates is necessary are ones that have tremendous costs (though not as costly as doing nothing– but still not cheap).

    Comment by Salamano — 16 Feb 2012 @ 6:27 AM

  212. George M.,
    You place a tremendous amount of faith in “adaptation”. How, precisely, does a farmer adapt to unpredictable floods washing away his fields before he can harvest? How would you suggest the people of Texas adapt to year after year of drought and brush fires. How would you suggest fishermen adapt to more and more dead zones in the oceans? How would you suggest we grow wheat on the Canadian Shield, since winter wheat will likely no longer germinate on the Great Plains of the US? How would you suggest we produce food when more and more of the planet is moving into severe drought?

    And how would you suggest we feed 10 billion people who will occupy the planet by 2050 when global agriculture infrastructure is collapsing? It is very, very easy to type those 5 letters a d a p and t, but there’s one helluva mean-assed devil in those details. To paraphrase Darth Vader–I find your naive faith disturbing.

    What is more, the development of a new energy infrastructure will be essential in any case as fossil fuels run out this century.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Feb 2012 @ 7:18 AM

  213. Some Heartland Institute funders particularly puzzles me, Microsoft??? ATT??? Giant Techno companies totally owing their very existence to the science they are now funding to deny…

    The donors list in the Heartland documents indicates which Heartland project each donor is funding; the tech companies seem to be mostly interested in Heartland’s Infotech and Telecom newsletter. Still disappointing to see them there, but at least it doesn’t seem that they’re actively interested in the climate denial side of things.

    Comment by MartinM — 16 Feb 2012 @ 8:12 AM

  214. Perhaps as genuine uncertainty has petered out, and sufficient evidence has been assembled that even piles of money can’t overcome, the fossil fuel industry and its servants are turning increasingly to threats — the last resort.

    Progress?

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 16 Feb 2012 @ 8:15 AM

  215. One of the frustrations I have with denialati is their insistence on examining only a tiny portion of the evidence (e.g. only the temperature record, or a few years of sea level rise, or a few years of a particular sensor on a particular satellite). THAT IS NOT SCIENCE!!! Science requires looking at all the evidence in aggregate and provisionally working with the model/theory that best explains ALL that evidence. This isn’t a matter of choice. It isn’t a matter of belief. If you aren’t working with the best model–or otherwise proposing an alternative model that you contend better explains ALL the evidence, you are not doing science.

    Likewise on the policy front, those advocating complacency focus only on the cost of developing a sustainable energy economy and attribute ALL that cost to the exigencies of climate change. WRONG!!! Even if we weren’t changing the climate, we would need to develop a new energy infrastructure because the basis for our current infrastructure is cooked. It’s done. Stick a fricking fork into it. This is an ex-infrastructure!!!

    Climate change increases the urgency of the needed changes. It requires more rapid action. It rules out some options (e.g. coal, tar sands…), which are already undesirable from a point of view of finitude, environmental risks, etc. So, please realize that when you say climate change will require large expenditures that such expenditures would be required in any case. In other words: you are lying.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Feb 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  216. Beyond that, their roles are and should be limited to regulatory issues in given areas.

    Why should anyone in any position be ‘limited’. Isn’t that un-American?

    Their views and positions should be critically examined in an open forum at the very least. No, wait, sorry, that’s called ‘science’. Why should we base policy and administration on something as weak and controversial as science.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:06 AM

  217. Susan,
    Compare the drought indices for Texas (and the entire US) since the beginning of the 20th century (not just 1950), and the variations show no general trend.
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VnN4Ab8uVjo/Tk5o0Key2YI/AAAAAAAAB44/86pigRc1jAY/s1600/Screen+shot+2011-08-19+at+9.43.51+AM.png
    https://www2.ucar.edu/sites/default/files/ucar_magazine/2012/step5both_large_CEI_1.12.jpg

    Rainfall in Australia is largely governed by ENSO.
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2009MWR2861.1

    Global drought index from UCAR:
    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/ScreenShot2447.jpg

    Compare global drought and temperatures:
    https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/sites/default/files/imagecache/LightBoxDisplay/key_figures/eof_pdsi-1_0.png

    While the drought index has certainly increased since 1950, choosing that particular starting point is misleading. Globally, the drought index was higher during the beginning of the 20th century, so starting from 1900 would yield a vastly different perspective. Also, there appears to be no correlation between gloabl temperatures and global drought.

    Comment by Dan H. — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:07 AM

  218. #208 Wayne “Amazingly sad, incomprehensible…”
    Many commenters here seem to have a political model built from a civics class or something.
    I don’t know if it’s true that Microsoft is funding Heartland but it wouldn’t surprise me.
    Microsoft is an extremely wealthy corporation led by extremely wealthy individuals. Its business model relies on monopolistic practices and policies as well as network effects caused by its customers failure to act in their common interest. Microsoft is therefore going to tend to support policies, politicians and ideologies which defend and further narrow private interests at the expense of the public interest.
    Whether that logic would lead Microsoft not merely to share some goals with Heartland but to actually fund them would I assume depend on particular political alliances. If Microsoft’s political operatives are trying to cement relationships with politicians who are broadly allied with Heartland for instance, they may support Heartland’s funding requests.

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:10 AM

  219. Dan, Australia and Texas are not the world, and the cited drought summary clearly outlines the importance of the Amazon and Africa when calculating global drought indices. Also, there are many different drought indexes calculated using a variety of physical parameters, temperature being only one of them, which the modern papers and review cited discuss extensively. The global PDSI, which is clearly not the final word, unambiguously displays a dramatic increase in global drought tracking modern emissions quite well.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:22 AM

  220. Dan, 1950 is NOT a cherrypick. You get the same answer if you choose 1970. You get the same answer if you choose 1940. Drought is increasing. Impulsive precipitation events are increasing. Facts, Dan, facts. Not spin.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:28 AM

  221. Paste this into Google
    > no correlation between gloabl temperatures and global drought.
    And see what pops up.

    Once again, another uncited claim easily refuted.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/jhm544.1

    “… the observed drying trend (decreasing PDSI) since 1952…. analysis shows that there is a significant influence of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses and sulphate aerosols in the production of this drying trend….”

    Why do they say that? Read the cites in the paper, they’re in footnotes.
    E.g. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.81/abstract;jsessionid=4FAC958D15346DA994DBB8F4F6734C69.d02t03

    And have greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols have changed since around 1950? A clue how to find that out is available at the Start Here button, top left of each RealClimate page.

    Woof.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:40 AM

  222. Remembe, watch for bogus “cites” picked to support beliefs. Above, Dan H cites ‘icecap’, a denial site like CO2Science that spins facts to suit claims, for a picture of something from UCAR. Check it to see how it’s spun, but —

    To find UCAR info, go to the source. It’s easy to find. Paste the claim into Google to start with, often that’s enough to see what’s being lied about.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Global+drought+index+from+UCAR

    https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/news/2904/climate-change-drought-may-threaten-much-globe-within-decades

    Dan, don’t be just a tube transferring stuff from wherever you’re getting it and pasting it in here uncritically.

    Think, man. Use what you’ve got to do more than carry nonsense in here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Feb 2012 @ 10:02 AM

  223. Wayne Davison:

    Some Heartland Institute funders particularly puzzles me, Microsoft???

    Keep in mind that Microsoft makes free software available to qualifying 501(3)(c) non-profits. This could explain the MS donation …

    Comment by dhogaza — 16 Feb 2012 @ 10:44 AM

  224. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328512.200-uncharted-waters-probing-aquifers-to-head-off-war.html?page=3
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2010GL046442.shtml

    Enough in this digression? All you need to know is it’s easy to look up.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Feb 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  225. “IPCC report is the basis of all renewable subsidies”

    The IPCC was founding in 1988 it first report was published in 1990. There were wind farms build with tax incentives in the late seventies and early eighties prompted by the oil shortage of the early 1970s. In 1974 the U.S. started the Solar Energy Research Institute which funded the development of many different solar project.

    Comment by Lee — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:04 PM

  226. Hank – I also immediately wondered why DanH would choose to cite the icecap site as being UCAR data.
    Note how DanH always throws in tidbits after his pseudo-cites, like “Also, there appears to be no correlation between gloabl [sic] temperatures and global drought” to leave the impression with neophytes that he has given the “facts” his studied and expert consideration, so they need not.

    And folks, there may be a lot of reasons to pick on Microsoft, but making contributions in kind to legal non-profits [even underhanded ones] isn’t really one of them – they also donate software and even hardware, to various school systems around the world, with the only real agenda being self promotion.

    Comment by flxible — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:07 PM

  227. Chris @207,

    Nicely laid out. But, you should be careful. If you say “At heart, it’s a simple matter of future costs versus current costs.” then things roll as you propose. But you said “At heart, it’s a simple matter of future happiness versus current happiness.” For many many of us, current happiness is about providing future happiness, we’re pleased to invest in the education and well being of children. So, happiness does not really balance as you propose. It is forward leaning.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  228. It is very sad that bogus arguments are so easy and providing answers to every quibble hundreds and thousands of times doesn’t make a dent. I would remind drought quibblers of the Horn or Africa, but also offer an apology for anecdotal evidence from a layperson that provides a target for working phony skeptics that hardworking scientists and others with expertise in the field have to scramble to re-re-re- ~ad nauseam~ -clarify.

    This on water:
    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/tracking-how-the-world-guzzles-water/
    —-
    I was thinking about the disconnect between logical and truthful posts and the tsunami of at best incorrect arguments that the likes of SkepticalScience works to organize in a logical and useful format. It is so easy to react, but if one gets outside one’s frustration, anger, irritation, hopelessness, etc. and parses the connections it becomes clear that the response is to some extent intended to evoke just those emotions. It’s very clever; by subtly changing the focus the conversation is removed from the true subject matter to some quibble about attitude. Words are misquoted, but only slightly, or taken out of context, so they can seem to be different from what they were.

    In addition to promoting false information, this tactic unfocuses material that might otherwise successfully penetrate the fog.
    —-
    Anonymous coward @218 (9:10 am) nails the problem about concentrating wealth into hands that use it to promote further concentration. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  229. Jim wrote in reply to Michael W (#184): “We’re not here to repeat the same stuff over and over to a new group of people with the same types of questions every other day …”

    Actually, my observation is that both the moderators and the scientifically knowledgeable commenters here have been extremely generous with their time, and very patient, in explaining “the same stuff over and over” to NEW people who come here with “the same types of questions”.

    They will often point such visitors to resources on this and other sites that specifically address such “frequently asked questions” and that provide scientific overviews of anthropogenic global warming and climate change that are intelligible to general readers. And beyond that, they will often take the time to give extended and admirably clear answers to such questions in comments here.

    But Dan H. is not a “new person” who comes here with “questions”. He is simply a tiresome old troll who comes here with scripted denialist talking points, distortions, misrepresentations, obfuscations and irrelevancies — the type of deliberately dishonest pseudoscientific propaganda that the Koch Brothers pay the Heartland Institute to pay Anthony Watts to spoon-feed to the denier blogosphere — which he posts over, and over, and over again.

    That’s the kind of crap that floods AGW discussions on general-interest blogs everywhere, and which makes me appreciate this blog’s moderation.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:13 PM

  230. Chris Crawford says:
    16 Feb 2012 at 12:16 AM

    information => policies

    First, you figure out everything you can that might affect your situation.

    Well said. What’s truly astounding is how the current GOP-dominated House is trying to zero-out certain avenues of research which are intended to gather information necessary to creating informed policy, namely research related to climate change and other forms of inadvertent environmental degradation.

    Confronted with a situation wherein research is revealing information leading to uncomfortable and challenging conclusions, the House is responding in a way that is so irresponsible as to defy words of description. Instead of encouraging our harvest of information used to craft policy that will lead us forward, the House is instead intent on stopping the clock of knowledge.

    The House would have us only able to scratch our heads in wonder as the world changes around us, pushed willy-nilly by forces we control but have chosen not to understand. “Irresponsible” hardly begins to describe this situation; is there a word that synthesizes vandalism, fear, greed, ignorance, and disinheritance of descendants?

    Comment by dbostrom — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:26 PM

  231. Pakistan has essentially lost 2 years in a row due to the change in the monsoon and its attendant flooding.

    How does one “adapt” to the collapse of agriculture. Other than by dying, of course.

    The civil unrest of the “Arab Spring” was spawned by the global hike in food prices more than by the brutalities of the regimes.

    How does one “adapt” to a culture of civil war? Other than by dying, of course.

    The sophistry of urging “adaptation”.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 16 Feb 2012 @ 12:50 PM

  232. Lee@225: Yes, and let’s not forget all those ethanol and methanol subsidies in the 1970s!

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 16 Feb 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  233. Why would Microsoft give money to Heartland? Same as any other large donor – vested interests in broad-ranging investments:

    In the third week of August 2008, two of the richest men in the world took a brief tour of the tar sands. As Warren Buffett (of Berkshire Hathaway) and Microsoft’s Bill Gates viewed the immense strip-mined bitumen fields and the vast infrastructure for tar sands development, much of the business press made it seem as though this was just another celebrity tour of a region that has seen many celebrities come to marvel at the size of the tires on the big yellow trucks.

    Just months previous, however, in an interview with the Financial Post (Feb. 7, 2008), Buffet had compared the tar sands to Saudi Arabia and stated: “The tar sands are probably as big a potential source of production 15 to 20 years from now. It would surprise me if the world wasn’t wanting to use 200 million barrels per day [of oil] in 15 or 20 years. The tar sands are the biggest single possibility to fill the gap that, it looks like, will otherwise develop in the next decade or two.”

    Obviously, blocking development due to pollution and high emissions would be costly for those with vested interests (leases), so why not pay Heartland to run a PR (‘public relations’ / GR (‘grassroots’) operation? Operation Angry Badger, etc.? Private foundations linked to Microsoft have a record of behaving the same way, and still do:

    The Gates Foundation . . . has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

    The efforts to block the teaching of science in the classroom are pretty sleazy, but then so are the efforts to push hydraulic fracturing across the U.S., regardless of damage to watersheds. It’s no wonder the corporations and individuals involved in financing this ‘nonpartisan non-profit’ don’t want their names made public – it’s a case of hiring someone else to do the dirty work while preserving your carefully cultivated ‘good corporate citizen’ image. An argument for public transparency with respect to ‘independent’ non-profit funding if there ever was one.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 16 Feb 2012 @ 1:40 PM

  234. #191 Ray, thanks for the links. So what is your take on the study? Do you have any criticisms?

    Comment by Michael W — 16 Feb 2012 @ 1:57 PM

  235. Re flxible #226 and Ike Solem #233:

    Having some decades of familiarity with Microsoft’s business practices, and some knowledge of the Gates Foundation’s “charitable” investments in areas that just happen to promote Bill Gates’ financial interests, it would not at all surprise me to learn that Microsoft has supported the Heartland Institute’s pro fossil fuel propaganda campaign.

    Having said that, Microsoft does in fact donate a lot of software to nonprofit organizations that need only meet some very generic criteria.

    So it’s entirely possible that Microsoft’s “contributions” to Heartland Institute consisted of nothing more than Heartland taking advantage of Microsoft software donations that are readily available to any nonprofit org.

    That is apparently what Microsoft is officially stating about the $60,000 “contribution” reported in the Heartland documents — and Microsoft’s “gold sponsorship” of a Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity conference featuring prominent deniers last November — while reaffirming Microsoft’s corporate position on AGW:

    “Microsoft believes climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly. We are pursuing strategies and taking actions that are consistent with a strong commitment to reducing our own impact as well as the impact of our products. In addition, Microsoft has adopted a broad policy statement on climate change that expresses support for government action to create market-based mechanisms to address climate change.”

    Take that with appropriate skepticism.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Feb 2012 @ 2:40 PM

  236. Congrats to, Dan H, you’ve earned your own personal slap-down at Tamino’s place.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 16 Feb 2012 @ 2:46 PM

  237. Excellent blogpost by David Roberts at Grist:

    “…When it comes to climate change, advocates and activists start with huge, built-in disadvantages…”

    http://grist.org/climate-change/climate-analysts-are-from-mars-climate-activists-are-from-venus-but-they-both-live-on-earth/

    Comment by Holly Stick — 16 Feb 2012 @ 5:01 PM

  238. [Microsoft] also donate software and even hardware, to various school systems around the world, with the only real agenda being self promotion.

    Well, that and laundering profit into tax-free status by giving away what costs very little to replicate. The software industry enjoys a nearly unique advantage in this regard; Boeing can’t give away aircraft to make profits vanish on paper because aircraft cost a lot to replicate, while the marginal cost of another copy of Office is very little indeed but counts at full retail value as a deduction.

    Comment by dbostrom — 16 Feb 2012 @ 5:27 PM

  239. Congrats to, Dan H, you’ve earned your own personal slap-down at Tamino’s place.

    er, that would be here.

    Comment by llewelly — 16 Feb 2012 @ 5:40 PM

  240. ..just curious if there will be any comment from Realclimate concerning the breaking Heartlandgate scandal.

    Comment by rykart — 16 Feb 2012 @ 6:15 PM

  241. It is amazing how every single thread becomes an attack by those who deny AGW, or at the very least the impacts of that warming. It does not matter what the post originally states, the same folks come on here again and agai and post what often is pure gibberish.

    This original post was about how climate scientists were receiving death threats – with a discussion of free speech issues. There were some posters that argued that so too were “skeptics” threatened with death, but much of those arguments were quickly dispelled. There were others that argued that Gavin et al. limited their free speech on this site – again quickly dispelled.

    But time after time, arguments turn Contrarian, with at times bizarre claims about AGW – and not at all about the original post. Shouldn’t these arguments be in the “open thread” posts?

    Gavin, thank you for your seemingly tireless patience in answering many of these absurd posts. I for one benefit greatly when posters are asking serious questions to try to understand the research better. Your response almost always makes me better see the picture (except when it flies right over my head). When I first came here many years ago, I thought that was what this site was about, a better understanding and discussion of the science of climate change. And indeed, I have gleaned much from this site.

    The other stuff is mostly just noise.

    Comment by Steve E — 16 Feb 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  242. #199, DanH, Where did you get that link? Who pointed it out to you? Did you notice that the link itself includes the string “old” as part of the URL?

    Comment by Charlie H — 16 Feb 2012 @ 7:05 PM

  243. Charlie,
    Had to search hard for that link, because most of the newer ones lack the data from the early 20th century.

    Comment by Dan H. — 16 Feb 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  244. Sorry llewelly, obviously I completely messed that link up. Thanks for the save.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 16 Feb 2012 @ 9:01 PM

  245. Russell @~198:

    Lubos Motl is, if I am not mistaken, a string theorist. Though I understand string theory may be a way of visualizing how things work, remember that Feynman (who in true skeptic spirit, admitted he might be wrong) thought string theory “not even wrong”. My problem with string theory (aside from insufficient knowledge of why and what it is) is that it violates common sense. Got a problem? Invent some more dimensions.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 16 Feb 2012 @ 10:23 PM

  246. I am interested in what mechanisms you have in mind for this accountability. – gavin]

    Many years ago the same concerns were held for the delivery of information from corporations to potential investors. So a license category was created to certify accountants to opine on financial information. These license holders are fully accountable for doing a diligent job and fully documenting their work. Quite a few volumes of standards have emerged to define diligence. A license holder has at risk his personal fortune and license to do business. Thus a profession was founded.

    Science should have a greater voice in policy but to get there it will need to go hand in hand with accountability.

    Comment by Bill Hunter — 17 Feb 2012 @ 12:12 AM

  247. Susan Anderson @245 — However, so-called common sense quickly leads to wrong predictions, even in macrophysics. A good explanation may defy common sense until one better understands a more accurate portrail of what is happening; the early hisotry of science is full of examples of such.

    That said, my view of string theory is much closer to that of Feynman; string theory has never yet made a non-obvious prediction that can be tested experimentally. On the other hand, climatology has in the past made non-obvious (at least to me) predictions which have subsequently been verified. Even more, climate models have suggested misinterpretations of existing proxy data; a more careful analysis of the prox6y data indeed showed that the climate models were right; that is very impressive as it rarely happens (anymore) across all the sciences.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Feb 2012 @ 1:37 AM

  248. #246, Bill Hunter. Sorry, but this is absurd. Science has plenty of mechanisms, such as peer review, to ensure robust accountability. Any voice it has in policy is expressed by policy makers wise enough to heed it. The mud being slung at legitimate climate science provides the fig leaf desired by some to question evidence that, in most other fields, would be regarded as nearly irrefutable.

    And really, I can’t let your financial license analogy pass without a huge guffaw. Without besmirching the integrity of the majority in the profession, the failure to assess any accountability for the recent Wall Street scandals puts the practical value of your standards and licenses into serious question.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 17 Feb 2012 @ 9:19 AM

  249. #246–

    “Thus a profession was founded.”

    But my perception is that scientists are professionals, and are viewed as such–for example, despite the efforts of denialism to attack science in general, generic credibility is of scientists is quite high:

    http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/Veracity2011.pdf

    (Note: UK poll.)

    Professions have their own specific norms, standards, and expectations, and these generally exist for good (ie., ‘adaptive’) reasons.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Feb 2012 @ 10:56 AM

  250. Bill Hunter @246 suggests the possibility of licensing scientists as a means of assuring accountability, using CPAs as a model. Actually, there’s an even better way: assembling an institute of the very best scientists that is legally required to provide Congress with the best scientific advice (when asked), and which jealously guards its reputation, and whose continued funding depends upon maintaining a solid reputation. In fact, there has been such an institution for nearly 150 years: the National Academy of Sciences, which during its entire history has never been shown to have made a mistake in its official reports to Congress. It has a perfect track record. And can you guess what the NAS official reports say about climate change? Yep. So why doesn’t Congress accept the conclusions of the institution it set up to provide it with the best available advice? Because Congress is populated by idiots.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 17 Feb 2012 @ 11:11 AM

  251. > certify accountants

    Sorry, you’ve fallen for a line the historians have long known is bunk.

    ‘Certified public accounting’ was the 1930s financial industry’s alternative to avoid controls during that Great Depression. They did avoid the controls.

    Anyone can be a ‘financial professional’ — unlike being a doctor, well driller, plumber or electrician, where as it became obvious how much damage incompetents and frauds could do, those became licensed and regulated professions.

    The same licensing and regulation were proposed as part of the New Deal.

    “Public accounting” allowed the financial industry to avoid most proposed New Deal laws and most regulation:

    The Value of the SEC’s Disclosure Requirements
    http://www.jstor.org/action/showArticleImage?image=images%2Fpages%2Fdtc.71.tif.gif&doi=10.2307%2F244430
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/244430

    Find this next one in a library; it used to be publicly available in years before the recent financial crash; it’s since been paywalled and as far as I know there’s no text online anywhere.

    Reading this will help you toward becoming cynical enough, if that’s possible:

    Securities legislation and the accounting profession in the 1930s: The rhetoric and reality of the American Dream
    Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 12, Issue 4, August 2001, Pages 501-526, Barbara D. Merino, Alan G. Mayper
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045235400904325

    Brief excerpts from the Abstract:

    “… symbolic legislation might be sufficient to restore investor confidence…. securities legislation can best be understood as an effort to reestablish the viability of what has been labeled the “American dream”…. passage of the securities legislation must be examined as a response to a moral crisis of capitalism, generated by the “immoral behavior” of the capitalist elite…. the first priority of any regulation had to be to establish the moral legitimacy of capitalism by restoring trust in the existing system…. it would merely be symbolic and used as propaganda to maintain the status quo.

    … examining the private correspondence and the actions of the regulators during the early years of the SEC act…. the early SEC commissioners had a commitment to the private property rights paradigm, and were unwilling to confront the monied interests. We support our position in a historical analysis …. We interpret the historical evidence as a desire by the regulators to maintain the status quo. Thus, even if we believed the legislation was intended to cause a “real” change, the enforcement was not performed in an activist manner to initiate the change….

    … the rhetoric used by the New Deal was intended to restore trust and fairness in American society … the political persuasion was the restoration of the American dream …. the New Deal was doomed to failure since it would be viewed as protecting the status quo … with the accounting profession … being ‘captured’ ….”

    And so it has been captured. Remember Enron and Arthur Andersen? Gone.

    “… disclosure was but one of several modes for resolving the contradiction between an individualistic, market-based public philosophy and increasing economic concentration and centralization…. the securities acts are seen not as fundamental changes in public policy but as part of an ongoing attempt to maintain an ideological, social, and economic status quo.”
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0278425482900059

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Feb 2012 @ 11:25 AM

  252. Susan Anderson,
    Actually, the idea of compacted dimensions did not originate with string theory. Einstein was an advocate. The idea is that since we know 3 spatial dimensions of the Universe are expanding–while prior to the Big Bang, they were not–how do we know that there are not other compacted dimensions. In fact it may be that compacted is the natural state of space-time, while inflation is a result of fluctuation.

    The nice things about the extra demensions–be it in string theory or any other theory–is that they resolve many of the computational and heuristic issues with quantum theory. At present, the candidates are a 10-dimensional Universe or a 26-dimensional Universe. An interesting coincidence–the largest of the exceptional groups (dubbed the Monster by group theorists) represents a symmetry transformation in 26 dimensions.

    Regarding a lack of verifiable predictions: When Pauli originally posited the existence of the neutrino to acccount for nonconservation of energy and momentum in beta decay, he said, “I have committed a great sin. I have proposed the existence of a particle that cannot be observed.” As you know, it was eventually discovered.

    And Dirac favored heuristics as a criterion for truth in a physical theory. So, while I do agree that the lack of verifiable predictions by string theory is problematic, it does not mean string theory is anti-science or even non-science.

    Lubos is just an idiot.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Feb 2012 @ 1:36 PM

  253. Bill Hunter,
    Among scientists, certification is neither needed nor desirable. Among laymen, the surest guard against charlatans is to go with scientific consensus…rather than picking and choosing the cranks who happen to agree with you.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Feb 2012 @ 1:39 PM

  254. I applaud RC for not jmuping on the bandwagon regarding the supposedly-leaked Heartland document.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/16/heartland-documents-whose-biases-are-being-revealed-here/

    [Response: I have consistently stated that the reason Heartland et al deserve to be ridiculed is for their appalling and consistently incorrect interpretations of the science, not for their funding. However, it would have been refreshing occasionally for some of these supposedly libertarian think tanks to actually think about solutions and policy responses that fit with their value system rather than launching repetitive and tired attacks on the science and specific scientists. On a broader scale, whether the information revealed is potentially deleterious to their 501(c)3 status is interesting, but that is a matter for the IRS, not a climate science blog. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 17 Feb 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  255. Ray Ladbury, thanks and chuckles.

    I’d best desist declaiming about stuff I really don’t understand, though I liked Feynman’s quote on it (below). I have trouble with anything that proposes something for nothing or goes into what looks like la-la land to explain things, but this one is way above my head. Though sometimes I’ve been proven right, looks like I should quit while I’m ahead, dunnit? We have a lot of trouble with a guy who claims he’s a mathematical physicist (professor, verified) but posts the most awful lies on climate change with great authority, misleading naive commenters on both sides, some into taking his stuff as authority, and others into suggesting he study high school physics.

    Too bad we can’t harness all this bad energy and wasteful nonsense from the commentariat – what a power source that would be!

    I’ll have to find another metaphor for high academic idiocy.

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/reading_list/indices/book_502.html

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Feb 2012 @ 3:28 PM

  256. Susan,
    Actually, Pauli was the original source of the “not even wrong” quote. He was reviewing a paper and was heard to cry, “This is terrible. It’s so bad, it’s not even wrong.” Don’t get me wrong. String theory is problematic, but I don’t discard the idea out of hand. I’m also not sure how I feel about aesthetics as a criterion for accepting physics–only geniuses like Feynman and Dirac really do it beautifully.

    Unfortunately, the power of physics methodologies in the limited domain of physics gives some physicists the illusion that they understand things more deeply and broacly than they do. This is usually a sign that they need to get out more.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Feb 2012 @ 4:23 PM

  257. The main reason i have such a hard time buying into the AGW theory is that the scientists seem so totally disconnected from reality outside the confines of their universities.

    Europes biggest domestic threats … [edit - off topic, but why you think climate scientists specifically would disagree about such issues is a little odd]

    There are idiots on both side of the story, but climate scientists assuming the victim role is just utterly ridiculous. Skeptics dont want to see scientists die ! Most of them just want more than ‘consensus’ before we obliterate our economy.

    [edit - offensive]

    [Response: Strawman arguments: no scientists want to 'obliterate our economy' - and the idea that scientists agreeing on a problem is somehow less of a reason to do something about it is logically odd. The rest of your comment has no place here. - gavin]

    Comment by Tietjan berelul — 17 Feb 2012 @ 4:57 PM

  258. David Benson @247 or thereabouts:

    Thanks. I regard climate science as a miracle of coordinated intelligence and hard work, coincidentally helped by the advent of satellite observations, of which there should be more and better, rather than Mars and manned moon trips. I tread on eggshells, relying on instinct and familiarity with scientists more than with science, despite having more education than most of our benighted citizens. See Schneider, for example, and am enjoying the beginning of Mann’s new book which describes his formation. Talk about brilliant, he’s got it, and more.

    Ray Ladbury @256

    Yes, I knew it was Pauli and find “not even wrong” a helpful category in dealing with denial, though its original use was different. It also works for what is in essence corrupt “science” and its megaphonic proponents. I certainly don’t regard aesthetics as a criterion, but knowing that scientists make good drawing students lets me know they are good at thinking hard with an open mind and honesty. I don’t think common sense is a bad metric, it should just be applied with skepticism (the real kind that questions the self first and looks for verifiable evidence).

    Certification, really? There’s a little thing called a Ph.D. and it does a superb job of winnowing many of the best of the best. Over a decade of hard work these days, and tons of money or scholarship help. Qualifications galore. But still we need to be aware that qualification in one discipline does not give authority in another.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Feb 2012 @ 5:22 PM

  259. Article and interview describing absurd travails and torment arising from Michael Mann’s production of a graph, in today’s Guardian: The inside story on climate scientists under siege

    Comment by dbostrom — 17 Feb 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  260. #257–

    “. . .scientists seem so totally disconnected from reality outside the confines of their universities.”

    I’d emphasize the “seem.” Scientists whom I’ve known were very alert to the wider reality. Some were even quite interested in, and knowledgeable about–shudder!–politics, popular culture and entertainment (in varying proportions.)

    So I wonder–how many scientists have you actually met? Perhaps you should seek out some in your area? Attend some talks, ask a few questions?

    And I also wonder–what bearing does the ‘geekness’ or otherwise of scientists have to do with how correct their conclusions may be? Surely that is a product of good data, good theory, and good analysis, not charisma or fashion sense.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 17 Feb 2012 @ 6:03 PM

  261. Tietjan berelul,
    See, this is the sort of ignorant statement that makes me question whether you’ve ever even seen the inside of a university science department. Scientists run the gamut from saintly to foolish, from introvert to extrovert, from integrated to insulated. What do they have in common? They all have a passion to understand their field of study. This curiosity driven research is the strongest guarantee against fraud and other malfeasance.

    However, even if you were correct about scientists being disengaged, how, pray tell, does this translate into their being wrong about their particular area of expertise. This strikes me as a classic use of ad hominem fallacy.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 17 Feb 2012 @ 6:52 PM

  262. Tietjan berelul, what exactly would count as a consensus in your mind? Currently 97% of the experts agree that AGW is occuring. To cry that there is not enough consensus at the moment is either to be mis/uninformed, or blindly following your faith. Last time I saw you commenting here you claimed that only liberal climate scientists were advocating AGW. You were given numerous examples of Conservatives and practicing Christians who understood and advocated for AGW. Have you taken the time to read their material yet? It’s not just your child’s liberal teacher, it’s the vast majority of scientific experts.

    Comment by Consensus — 17 Feb 2012 @ 7:04 PM

  263. Susan Anderson & Ray Ladbury — I haven’t the time (nor probably the skill) nor is this perhaps the best venue, but aesthetics is an important part of especially mathematics and (parts of) physics and less obviously of all the sciences as it is in other aspects of human existence. What is true is often beautiful and often enough the converse holds as well.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 17 Feb 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  264. This might belong at unforced variations? h/t Tenney Naumer

    Nice work!

    “Heartland Institute faces fresh scrutiny over tax status”

    “Whistleblower made complaint to IRS over climate science attack machine’s tax-exempt status, Guardian learns”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/17/heartland-institute-fresh-scrutiny-tax

    “John Mashey, a retired computer scientist and Silicon Valley executive, said he filed a complaint to the IRS this week that said Heartland’s public relations and lobbying efforts violated its non-profit status.

    “Mashey said he sent off his audit, the product of three months’ research, just a few hours before the unauthorised release of the Heartland documents.”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 17 Feb 2012 @ 10:38 PM

  265. > … scientists seem so totally disconnected from reality
    > outside the confines of their universities.

    The problem may not be your scientists wanting to be disconnected.

    In the alternative you may need to adjust your government:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16861468
    “The AAAS meeting’s discussion on muzzling is organised by freelance science reporter Binh An Vu Van. She says fellow journalists across Canada are finding it “harder and harder” to get access to government scientists.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Feb 2012 @ 10:53 PM

  266. http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2012/webprogram/Session5376.html

    “Friday, February 17, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
    Room 201 (VCC West Building)

    “… Across Canada, journalists are being denied access to publicly funded scientists and the research community is frustrated with the way government scientists are being muzzled. Some observe that it is part of a trend that has seen the Canadian government tighten control over how and when federal scientists interact with the media. …
    … the situation is somewhat similar in the United States. A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review details how restrictive practices established by George W. Bush’s administration still hold under the current government. …”

    http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/an_empty_seat.php?page=all
    “… Oct 12, 2011 – Government fails to show for science news, transparency event … only marginal improvement over the dark days of the Bush administration …”

    http://www.cjr.org/feature/transparency_watch_a_closed_door.php?page=all
    “… Sep 14, 2011 – The Bush administration had earned a reputation for quashing the free flow of scientific information….”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Feb 2012 @ 10:59 PM

  267. This pic was taken at the Aquarium of the Pacific (right after Dr. Mann’s talk). It pretty much sums up what climate-scientist have been putting up with these days… http://img651.imageshack.us/img651/8421/sadcommentary.jpg

    Mind you, adult admission to the Aquarium is about 25 US bucks — so that filters out the worst of the riff-raff.

    Comment by caerbannog — 17 Feb 2012 @ 11:27 PM

  268. Stupid typo correction (I hate it when that happens):
    It pretty much sums up what climate-scientists….

    Comment by caerbannog — 18 Feb 2012 @ 1:28 AM

  269. That symposium at the AAAS meeting is excellent; it was recorded and is linked to here along with the letter to PM Harper and a press kit about muzzling of scientists:

    http://www.sciencemediacentre.ca/smc/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=254:ec-feb17-2012&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=49&lang=en

    And a link to the actual recording:

    http://hosting.desire2learncapture.com/StellarJay/4/watch/28.aspx

    Comment by Holly Stick — 18 Feb 2012 @ 1:38 AM

  270. Climate activist puts ‘Baby in Womb” to protest Co2 emissions

    http://www.maydaily.com/2012/02/18/baby-in-womb-protests-co2-emissions/

    Comment by dan bloom — 18 Feb 2012 @ 7:09 AM

  271. The comments from the AAAS meeting are a reminder that tenure exists to protect academic freedom — and that government scientists have neither.

    Thanks, Holly, for the links above to the details.

    The BBC reporter describes it as Orwellian:

    the “media protocol introduced by the Conservative government shortly after it was elected in 2008…. requires that all interview requests for scientists employed by the government must first be cleared by officials…. The protocol states: ‘Just as we have one department we should have one voice.’”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Feb 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  272. way OT:

    David Benson (and Ray L): yes, I know. PW (the thoughtful curmudgeon) is my father (my cover art on his latest book so am no longer hiding behind my common name). Please don’t get excited, I just do the laundry and cooking these days. However, I was struck by some similarities between what he says about things and how Michael Mann got his start, and the “not even wrong” book was from his shelves.

    [Response: Susan--what an honor this is. Your father was one of the heroes of condensed matter physics whose worked I studied back in graduate school. He must be pleased at your passion for science, and for your efforts to defend science when under attack. I want to personally thank you both for your efforts. - mike]

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 18 Feb 2012 @ 12:45 PM

  273. The AAAS have been discussing this in Vancouver.
    Add Canada to that list.

    “It’s pretty clear that for federal scientists, Ottawa decides now if the researchers can talk, what they can talk about and when they can say it,” senior science journalist Margaret Munro, with Postmedia News, told a group at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. http://news.aaas.org/
    The views were aired in tandem with the release of an open letter by a coalition of six science and communications organizations, jointly calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “tear down the wall” that’s been raised over the past four years separating scientists, journalists and the public.
    It was signed by several groups, including the Canadian Science Writers Association, World Federation of Science Journalists, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the union that represents 23,000 federal scientists.
    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/tory-muzzling-of-scientists-blasted-139568143.html

    Comment by dz alexander — 18 Feb 2012 @ 1:47 PM

  274. This has been a weird week. On Monday, I had capped work on the 200-page “fakery” in progress for 5 months, had written an IRS complaint, had jury-selection duty the next day, planned to write the blog post and iterate with the DSB editor and publish Thursday. Then life went crazy Tuesday, and I ended up doing a quick blog post while in the courthouse. HeartlandInsider could have waited a week. :-)

    The documents were interesting, but certainly fitted the existing patterns I’d been studying for the last few months. I was slightly surprised that Joseph (“Joe Camel is Innocent!) Bast was getting even more money in 2011 from Big Tobacco ($50K from Altria, $110K From Reynolds American), than during the 1993-2001 period covered by tobacco archives.

    For the international audience here, especially European, there is a curious connection.
    People may recall Australian Jo Nova’s Skeptic’s Handbook.
    It turns out that was likely paid for, at least in part, by Heartland (“Fakery” pp.63-64.), and possibly the Translations item mentioned there helped pay for translations, which cover most European languages.
    If one of those is yours, you might Google the local title. I’ve checked German and French, and there are lots of copies.

    SO:
    1) a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Heartland
    2) sends funds to foreign non-charities
    3) one of which is likely Nova, to produce anti-science translated into many languages.
    4) Heartland sent 14,000 copies to US school board presidents.

    Meanwhile, Eli makes a find in Germany.

    Comment by John Mashey — 18 Feb 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  275. Freedom of speech in the defence of the truth is a fine and noble thing. It’s use in the defence of lies and misinformation to prevent timely and effective actions to avoid great future harm is something else.

    These freedoms – of ideas and speech – are being treated by the opponents of action on emissions as weaknesses to be exploited. I want to see more people using them to expose the dangerously irresponsible and immoral actions of organised climate science deniers rather than defending them. Those participants in the climate denial scam who hold positions of public trust and responsibility are a disgrace; they have enormous resources at their disposal for commissioning and seeking expert advice but choose to dismiss and ignore that near unanimous advice. Whether for greed – for the future revenues from fossil fuels – or for fear of the immensity of the task of transforming energy infrastructure, there is nothing noble or inspiring in the deliberate denigration of our climate scientists in the face of this unprecedented global crisis.

    I think the body of knowledge that has been built up about our climate is a true jewel in the crown of human achievement. The timely warning it gives us is something beyond price. The squandering of the window of opportunity climate science has given us to act is something we are surely going to regret deeply.

    Comment by Ken Fabian — 18 Feb 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  276. “What is true is often beautiful and often enough the converse holds as well.”

    Given the success of ridiculously complicated and truly hideous theories such as quantum chromodynamics, how on earth do people believe this?

    No, the overriding lesson of the last 100 years of science has been that while beautiful, elegant formulas are often very nearly correct in many important situations, and indispensible savers of finite time and calculating resources, they almost always contain all manner of ugly corner cases where they are badly wrong.

    And in fact I think that’s one of the underlying (but not primary) difficulties in conveying climate science. The elegant relationships are only mostly true, and only in certain regions. The logarithmic relationship between CO2 and global equilibrium temperature doesn’t hold for all possible CO2 values – if it’s too high, or too low, the relationship changes quite a bit. It’s also not clear that it holds if one must take into account ice sheets and carbon cycles. You can say CO2 acts like a heat trapping blanket, and that works for explaining some things, but there are all sorts of corner cases in which it doesn’t work. Every simplified explanation you might use to convey it to a non-expert is full of little corner cases where it isn’t 100% right, and many denialists are quite skilled at leveraging all sorts of confusion out of those corner cases.

    Comment by llewelly — 18 Feb 2012 @ 11:36 PM

  277. Thank you Michael and all climate scientists for your diligent work. Here is a satirical video about the reality of how climate science is treated on the main stream media. The link is below:
    http://youtu.be/us2spZqtMGU

    Comment by The Young Armachians — 19 Feb 2012 @ 3:12 AM

  278. #275, Llewelly,

    …ugly corner cases…

    A farmer goes to a physicist for advice because his chickens have stopped laying eggs. The physicist says he’ll think about the problem. Two weeks later the physicist arrives at the farm and confidently announces that he has a solution, however there’s a caveat; the solution only works for spherical chickens in a perfect vacuum.

    Comment by Chris R — 19 Feb 2012 @ 3:29 AM

  279. “. . . the solution only works for spherical chickens in a perfect vacuum.”

    Better start fattening them up right away! Oh, wait. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Feb 2012 @ 8:15 AM

  280. Susan Anderson, #245:
    16 Feb 2012 at 10:23 PM

    The “not even wrong” judgment on string theory was made by Peter Woit, who wrote a book with that title.

    I believe Pauli passed this judgment after a tour of AT&T Bell Labs: He was not impressed with their topics of study. Not a big fan of applied physics, I guess.

    The nastiest thing on string theory I’ve heard attributed to Feynman is: “Scientists make predictions; string theorists make excuses.” This would have been prior to the proposal of M-Theory in 1995.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 19 Feb 2012 @ 8:41 AM

  281. Big surprise on aerosols — not only do we know very little, a lot of what we knew underestimated what’s in the air. Both health and climate are affected.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/science/earth/scientists-find-new-dangers-in-tiny-but-pervasive-particles-in-air-pollution.html
    —-excerpt follows—–

    The Irvine study of the formation of secondary compounds in the atmosphere, which will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, upends previous assumptions about the fate of the byproducts of the pollution from internal-combustion engines. These gaseous byproducts were thought to incorporate themselves into tiny airborne drops of liquid that would then dissipate quickly as the drops evaporated.

    The new study finds instead that they attach themselves more tightly to airborne organic particles, creating tiny tar balls that evaporate more slowly and persist longer than anyone had thought. E.P.A. models built on these assumptions now appear to understate the total amount of fine particles, according to Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts, a professor at Irvine and one of the study’s authors.

    “If you’re going to use models in a predictive sense, you need to make sure they are getting the right answer for the right reasons,” she said. “Right now most models are not getting the right answer.”
    —-end excerpt—

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Feb 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  282. Chris R:

    A farmer goes to a physicist for advice because his chickens have stopped laying eggs. The physicist says he’ll think about the problem. Two weeks later the physicist arrives at the farm and confidently announces that he has a solution, however there’s a caveat; the solution only works for spherical chickens in a perfect vacuum.

    Finally some clear progress on space exploration …

    Comment by llewelly — 19 Feb 2012 @ 12:51 PM

  283. #273–More on the Canadian scientific ‘freedom of speech’ issue:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2012/02/17/science-federal-muzzling-scientists.html

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Feb 2012 @ 1:17 PM

  284. Gavin et. al, wondering if you could explain why you had Aaron Heurtas, the PR guy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, write your Open Letter to Heartland?

    http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2012/02/17/heartland.pdf

    In the letter, you say you want “an honest, fact-based debate about the policy responses to climate change.”

    Since you (and by you I mean most the “signers” of this open letter) were invited to the climate conferences sponsored by Heartland, and chose not to attend, does this mean that you all are now ready to engage in the Heartland climate conferences to debate the “deniers” and the “anti-climate” and “anti-science” people?

    [Response: If Heartland was actually interested in debating policy options I wouldn't have any problem with them, and I would encourage others with ideas about policy to engage with them to their heart's content. Instead they spend their time throwing around false accusations, mangling the science, and attempting to shoot the messenger - and I strongly doubt they will suddenly stop doing so because I go to one of their meetings. In a world where we only have limited time to do the things we need to, arguing with people who think that every word I say is a lie is completely pointless. (PS. The letter was written by the people who signed it, and it's publication was coordinated by Aaron Huertas at UCS, a group (of which I'm a member) that has been very helpful in making making media connections for the scientists - you might have a list of editors of major news organisations at your fingertips, but I don't). - gavin]

    Comment by Curious — 19 Feb 2012 @ 2:39 PM

  285. Neal J King. I cited Woit’s book in my comment 256. I enjoyed the discussion but it is clear I should have been more careful in talking about things to be very precise and accurate.

    Bells labs at Murray Hill may have done some applied science but my family’s friends were mostly theoretical at a fairly high level. Not sure what all that was about.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 19 Feb 2012 @ 3:23 PM

  286. Some otherwise thoughtful people have closed their minds because they’ve been told that the Union of Concerned Scientists is a “liberal” organization. One of its primary goals is to defend the integrity of science, an admirable purpose. In this case, it does indeed seem that truth has a liberal bias. The organization would not need to exist were science treated honestly in the public domain.

    It is frustrating to try to communicate with people who have closed their minds so absolutely that they are unwilling to go and take a look for themselves, but instead disseminate views that are not a million miles removed from the mindset of a type like Rush Limbaugh as received wisdom.

    This discussion began with some talk about threats, and proper recordkeeping of those threats to honesty and our futures is a job I am grateful UCS attempts to do.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 19 Feb 2012 @ 3:40 PM

  287. Heads should roll on K Street.

    Bast’s outfit has been God’s gift to carbon and tobacco prohibitionists by turns disengaged and ineffectual in both climate policy debate and the advocacy of smoker’s rights.

    Comment by Russell — 19 Feb 2012 @ 3:54 PM

  288. Curious:

    In the letter, you [gavin] say you want “an honest, fact-based debate about the policy responses to climate change.”

    Since you (and by you I mean most the “signers” of this open letter) were invited to the climate conferences sponsored by Heartland, and chose not to attend, does this mean that you all are now ready to engage in the Heartland climate conferences to debate the “deniers” and the “anti-climate” and “anti-science” people?

    I don’t think Gavin’s response was clear enough.

    Curious: gavin wants an honest fact-based debate about policy responses to [anthropogenic] climate change.

    Heartland denies that AGW exists, and (as gavin says in his response), that everything mainstream scientists say is a lie and that the whole field is a fraud. It is impossible to have a fact-based debate about policy responses when people insist that the entire field is a fraud and that there is nothing for policy-makers to respond to.

    And, curious, you yourself moved the goalposts by asking if Gavin’s willingness to debate fact-based policy discussions means he’s ready to engage Heartland and their denialist (no need for quotes) anti-science (no need for quotes) conferences. That’s simply a waste of time. It would be like debating plate tectonics with people who believe the earth was created in 7 days ago a mere 6,000 years ago. What’s the point?

    Comment by dhogaza — 19 Feb 2012 @ 8:38 PM

  289. We return to the issue of free speech: Heartland is pushing the envelope (h/t, as usual, Tenney Naumer):
    http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/

    Heartland Demands DeSmogBlog Remove ”Climate Strategy” Document
    http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-demands-desmogblog-remove-climate-strategy-document

    Heartland Institute threatens 71-year-old veteran
    http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/2012/02/19/heartland-institute-threatens-71-year-old-veteran/

    Dr. Mann, you are on the point of the arrow (I’m sure you wish you weren’t) and our hats are all off to you! (mixing metaphors with the finest!)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 19 Feb 2012 @ 8:44 PM

  290. llewelly @276 — I find the formulation of quantum chromodynamics quite beautiful. But the observation than explanatory theories have to explain to people and so need contain aesthetic elements is not original with me.

    I’ll agree that there is much which is explained (for engineers, made to work) by rather arbitrary, even mundane, considerations. I take that as a challenge to scientists and engineers to understand even better why such situations are the result of aesthetically based considerations and so contain some beauty.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 19 Feb 2012 @ 9:51 PM

  291. “…wondering if you could explain why you had Aaron Heurtas, the PR guy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, write your Open Letter to Heartland?”

    Folks such as “curious” leak their perspective like somebody trying to tell a joke and being unable to keep a straight face through to the punch line. A connection with the Union of Concerned Scientists appears to be some sort of black mark in the world of “curious,” maybe because of confusion about what sort of “union” it is, perhaps because “union” is synonymous with “communism” for some confused people, or possibly because the Union of Concerned Scientists is avowedly less concerned with conformity to subjective dogma than it is in the productive application of facts to the human condition.

    Nagging the rest of us about such things as our insanely bloated nuclear arsenal appears to be some sort of unforgivable sin in the eyes of some. Curious, truly.

    Comment by Doug Bostrom — 20 Feb 2012 @ 1:51 AM

  292. The George C Marshall Institute was primarily founded to defend Reagan’s SDI programme against the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Cold War ended a long time ago. SDI was also ridiculous.

    Comment by J Bowers — 20 Feb 2012 @ 5:26 AM

  293. Spotted in comments at the Guardian:

    “Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two equals four.” — George Orwell.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Comment by J Bowers — 20 Feb 2012 @ 5:28 AM

  294. “curious” was a drive-by, imagine that? :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 20 Feb 2012 @ 1:03 PM

  295. Ray Ladbury @191

    OK, agriculture may have a harder time in the future but we should remember that the rich consume much more food-related resources than the poor. For example, eating beef and lamb consumes an enormous amount of resources and causes the release of huge amounts of green house gasses. See NoBeef.org.

    10 billion people could be fed. There would not even be one person per hectare. Before the famine the Irish had 10 people per hectare. They had a diet that was arguably more healthy than ours. See It’s the poor that starve. For other details see Food: Scientists vs. amateurs

    “What population do [I] think would be sustainable?”. If we really wanted it the world could sustain two persons per hectare or about 20 billion, perhaps more.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 20 Feb 2012 @ 3:13 PM

  296. Still here Dhogaza.
    Gavin, while understand your reasoning in regards to Heartland, I can see the other side as well. Let me explain.
    In order to debate policy, the science should be settled.

    [Response: What nonsense. Policies are always decided in the face of uncertainty - whether they are health related, economics related or climate related. Unless you have a particularly perverse definition of 'settled', that implies that no science that has any kind of active research component can ever be used in policy. That would of course throw out any evidence-based medical advice. Thus, one must conclude that you only want this statement to apply to science you personally find offensive - which frankly is not really a sound basis for policy making. - gavin]

    In fact, it is not, or there would be no need for a GISS Model E. Also, were the science settled, we wouldn’t see the publication of research concerning aerosols (like what was published some comments above) or about clouds, like this recent article: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2011GL050506.shtml

    [Response: Again, nonsense. Equated the existence of continuing uncertainty in aspects of the science with zero knowledge of everything is a logical fallacy. - gavin]

    So it seems to me there are still many reasons to debate the science and many reasons to include policy in that debate.

    [Response: You neglect the fact the uncertainties in the science might be completely orthogonal to issues that might determine policy. There is uncertainty related to Permian/Triassic extinction event, but it is far from obvious that any actual policy proposal is tied to this uncertainty. - gavin]

    Now I wasn’t familiar with Heartland until this kerfuffle occurred. Perhaps they lie. I don’t know. But when I hear them described as “anti-science” and “climate-deniers” I have to admit my red flags go up as this is traditional alarmist lingo.

    [Response: Try reading some of their stuff, it is textbook denialist stuff - for instance - an incoherent mish-mash of complaints that exist only to come to the pre-determined conclusion that nothing should be done about CO2 emissions. - gavin]

    Considering the AGW PR arms are many and varied and receive hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars in funding, it seems unlikely that Heartland, with its meager funding, could have a considerable affect on public perception, especially if they are using lies.

    [Response: Well, your assessment of the amount of money spent on AGW 'PR' is orders of magnitude off, and I think you underestimate the power of lies to affect public perception ('Iraq has WMD', 'death panels', 'Obama is a muslim' etc...). That is of course unfortunate, but this is the world we live in. - gavin]

    In fact, just the opposite seems true. If the AGW science is settled, then it seems probable that the scientists that signed the Heartland Open Letter would have no problem winning any debate with the Heartland “climate deniers.”

    [Response: This is an old issue - go back and read Gorgias on the power of rhetoric over facts. Why you think stand up debates are somehow a substitute (and should supplant) the reflective and thorough peer reviewed literature and the dozens of NRC, WMO, IPCC, RS, NAS assessments is a little odd. - gavin]

    I understand that you are busy people and you cannot be in all places at once and undertake every endeavor presented. But if Heartland has such a profound influence, and the science is 100% settled, then it seems to me that you would welcome that debate, if only to prove that HI is wrong, silencing them for good.

    [Response: Heartland's influence is not profound - they are just typical of any number of like-minded groups, and we have never claimed that the 'science is settled' - indeed I am on record clearly stating the opposite (which is kind of obvious since I am a research scientist). Your suggestion that once HI were proved wrong it would silence them for good, is however, very amusing. I may quote it. - gavin]

    Comment by Curious — 20 Feb 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  297. And the good news Lab-grown meat is first step to artificial hamburger.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 20 Feb 2012 @ 3:42 PM

  298. Gavin, thanks for the response. Feel free to quote me, even if you find it to be amusing.

    I do appreciate your response, as well as the link to your article about the science not being settled.

    Comment by Curious — 20 Feb 2012 @ 4:34 PM

  299. “every word I say is a lie” – Gavin

    /context distortion

    “arguing with people who think that every word I say is a lie is completely pointless” – Gavin

    Sometimes it’s not the people you’re arguing with but those within earshot (blog shot) that gives such a situation purpose. Yes, I agree, those that think you’re lying won’t be convinced, but there may be others listening (reading).

    The letter suggests a discussion of policy options. I have concerns with the general direction that seems to be approved of here though maybe not expressly indorsed; that cap-n-trade schemes or carbon taxes are viable methods of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and/or atmospheric accumulation.

    In my opinion cap-n-trade will only serve to enrich “traders” while overall global emissions remain the same. There doesn’t seem to be an effective way to control a high enough percentage of countries to keep carbon dioxide emissions from just being shifted from one part of the world to another.

    A carbon tax in it’s typical manifestation is IMO a hidden regressive tax (my least favorite kind of tax). Any increase in tax burden to large emitters of carbon dioxide will simply be conveyed to the consumer, some of which could easily afford it, but others may not. If we’re going to tax carbon dioxide we should at least make it a progressive tax by taxing individuals on their carbon dioxide equivalent footprint and having tiered income thresholds that reduce/eliminate the tax burden for those with low incomes; but this would of course mean another tax. Who wants a new tax? A tough “sell” at best.

    Consider for a moment, Mt. Pinatubo eruption effectively stopped (or nearly so) the carbon dioxide concentration increase by increasing primary production 8-20% (most likely, diffuse light efficiency increase). Instead of attempting global control of emissions, couldn’t regional stimulation of primary production be an effective component of a global atmospheric CO2 accumulation reduction effort? Development of increased irrigation in the third world, for example, would not only increase global primary production, reducing carbon dioxide accumulation but have immediate benefits regionally of increased food production. An easy sell by comparison. I suspect there are hundreds of such “win now” + “reduce accumulation” projects that could be “sold” to the population of a region much easier than trying to police global outputs. It seems to me if we put forth half the resources we’re burning up bickering and trying to get global agreement on finding, funding, and executing “doable” projects we’d actually get something accomplished other than sowing animosity and wasting time.

    Also, the letter referenced “independent investigations” could you summarize the characteristics that made the investigations independent? Would impartial have the same characteristics?

    Comment by John West — 20 Feb 2012 @ 5:25 PM

  300. Seems several leaps of faith there, from

    > Pinatubo … increasing primary production 8-20%

    What’s your source for this? It seems an overbroad claim.

    If your source is referring to Gu et al., they “estimated that this increase in diffuse radiation alone enhanced noontime photosynthesis of a deciduous forest by 23% in 1992 and 8% in 1993 under cloudless conditions.”

    Those are close to your numbers, but yours suggest a range of overall increase. What source did you get your numbers from?

    Hmmm. Searching, the first full page of results about that is co2science.
    More for the annals of climate misinformation

    The similar numbers from Gu et al. are their estimates for two years, at noon, on cloudless days.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/299/5615/2035.abstract

    Atmospheric effects of the Mt Pinatubo eruption

    Increasing irrigation isn’t equivalent to increasing diffuse light.
    Primary production — half or thereabouts — is from the oceans.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2012 @ 6:34 PM

  301. Ethical Analysis of the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign: Introduction to A Series.

    Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign’s Tactics: (1) Reckless Disregard for the Truth, (2) Focusing On Unknowns While Ignoring Knowns, (3) Specious Claims of “Bad” Science, and (4) Front Groups.

    Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign’s Tactics: (1) Think Tanks, (2) PR Campaigns, (3) Astroturf Groups, and (4) Cyber-Bullying Attacks.

    Ethical Analysis of Disinformation Campaign’s Tactics: Reckless Disregard for the Truth, Specious Claims of ‘Bad’ Science

    Irresponsible Skepticism: Lessons Learned From the Climate Disinformation Campaign

    Comment by J Bowers — 20 Feb 2012 @ 6:35 PM

  302. Curious,

    The recent public “debate” about anthropogenic global climate change (and to a lesser extent, the “debate” about evolution) has made it painfully clear that most people do not understand the scientific process as it currently exists (or worse – they don’t understand science at all). This process has evolved over many centuries (with lots of fits, starts, and outright disasters) specifically to burn away the politics that crop up whenever two or more humans gather to discuss an important issue. The ideal scientific process should leave only the truth as best as we can now ascertain it. The increasingly rapid technological advances made by Homo sapiens in the past few centuries are proof that this process is working extremely well.

    The best scientific evidence tells us that the earth is warming, and that the human release of CO2 into the atmosphere is driving this warming. If this continues, it will very likely do significant damage to human civilization and the biosphere of the planet in the near future.

    Only a small minority of scientists disagrees with this very general statement.

    The details about exactly how AGCC will affect our planet are still emerging, and they are scientific questions, not political ones. That has not prevented politicians and corporate interests from trying to hijack the conversation, because they do not like the changes that will have to be made to avoid major upheaval.

    Exactly how we use this scientific information to plan our future is now mired in politics, but the time to do something is growing short. How short, no one knows for sure, but why take a chance, considering what is at risk? If the majority of the best doctors that you visit were telling you that you have cancer and that, without treatment, you have less than a ten percent chance of surviving for more than a year unless you get treated, what would you do? Some people seem willing to claim that the majority of doctors don’t know what they are talking about. The may claim they are not sick. They might even say that death is not as bad as it is claimed. These people won’t get any treatment, and they will probably die within a year.

    Unfortunately, in the case of AGCC, this will have to be a group decision.

    The richest companies that have ever existed have trillions of dollars (that is no exaggeration) invested in infrastructure to continue to make many billions of dollars profit each year by selling carbon fuels to be burnt, producing millions of tons of CO2. These powerful business interests and their political allies are spending billions of dollars to denying the science, and the Heartland Institute is one of their mouthpieces. The scientists here cannot possibly match their reserves of time and money, but the truth is on the side of science, by the very definition of what science is.

    Would you expect a scientist to think otherwise?

    So with which of the above statements do you disagree?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 20 Feb 2012 @ 7:15 PM

  303. http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/first_post.png

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Feb 2012 @ 7:23 PM

  304. #299–”Any increase in tax burden. . .”

    The British Columbia carbon tax has been slightly revenue-negative in practice, amounting to a tax cut. And since the “rebating” mechanism is a tax credit, the effect is arguably progressive rather than regressive, in that the credits generally give the largest proportional benefits to those with lower incomes.

    A lengthy discussion from an American perspective (and nearly a year ago):

    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/03/22/22climatewire-british-columbia-survives-3-years-and-848-mi-40489.html?pagewanted=all

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 20 Feb 2012 @ 7:25 PM

  305. Curious,
    I hope you remain true to your handle and read fully the “Unsettled Science” link Gavin provided. What is a crucial point made in his post is that the idea of “settled science” is an oxymoron. The science of Gravity is not settled, yet we have put men on the Moon. So the refrain of claiming “the science is not settled” is a diversion from facts. Science will never be settled, that is the nature of science.

    Gavin says it perhaps more eloquently than I can: “The reason why no scientist has said this is because they know full well that knowledge about science is not binary – science isn’t either settled or not settled. This is a false and misleading dichotomy. Instead, we know things with varying degrees of confidence – for instance, conservation of energy is pretty well accepted, as is the theory of gravity (despite continuing interest in what happens at very small scales or very high energies), while the exact nature of dark matter is still unclear. The forced binary distinction implicit in the phrase is designed to misleadingly relegate anything about which there is still uncertainty to the category of completely unknown. i.e. that since we don’t know everything, we know nothing.”

    What matters with scientific understanding is not that it is “settled” but that it provides useful tools for understanding the world we live in. So next time someone tries to tell you that Climate Science isn’t settled, tell them they have said nothing meaningful.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 20 Feb 2012 @ 7:53 PM

  306. Susan Anderson wrote: “Some otherwise thoughtful people have closed their minds because they’ve been told that the Union of Concerned Scientists is a ‘liberal’ organization.”

    With all due respect, people who have been programmed to reject out of hand any information from a source that they are told is “liberal” — for no other reason than that someone tells them it is “liberal” — are by definition not “thoughtful” and their minds are already closed.

    A great deal of money has been spent over the last few decades to propagandize and brainwash a certain audience to unquestioningly and absolutely accept, embrace, believe, do and say whatever is branded “conservative” and to unquestioningly and absolutely reject, scorn, deny and abhor whatever is branded “liberal”.

    And once you’ve got a group of people programmed that way, it’s easy enough to tell them that climate science — or anything else that potentially threatens your profits — is “liberal” and that rejecting climate science is “conservative”. And as utterly nonsensical as that is, they will obey.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 20 Feb 2012 @ 8:01 PM

  307. FYI,
    Peter Gleick has just confessed to being the solicitor and leaker of the Heartland docs.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-h-gleick/-the-origin-of-the-heartl_b_1289669.html

    Comment by Chas — 20 Feb 2012 @ 9:40 PM

  308. peter gleik :(

    Comment by simon — 20 Feb 2012 @ 9:42 PM

  309. @J Bowers. In the wake of Gleick’s confession, that’s quite a list of links you’ve posted. It seems there’s irresponsibility, disinformation, cyber-bullying, reckless disregard for the truth, etc, on all sides of the debate.

    Comment by DGH — 20 Feb 2012 @ 10:25 PM

  310. @J Bowers. In the wake of Gleick’s confession that’s quite a list you’ve posted. It seems there’s disinformation, reckless regards for truth, irresponsibility, cyber-bullying, and other unethical behavior on all sides of the debate. What a shame that this incident will only harden the various camps’ positions.

    Comment by DGH — 20 Feb 2012 @ 10:34 PM

  311. So on our side, the perp has revealed themselves.

    While on their side, the CRU hacker remains anonymous.

    Values, values, values …

    We know the denialsphere will lambast the self-revealing Gleick as being the epitome of evil.

    While they’ll continue to parade the anonymous CRU hacker as being the epitome of virtue.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:24 AM

  312. Hmmm. In the wake of Gleick’s confession, I think that I’ll refrain from responding about debate, ethics, programmed people, settled science, lies, etc. Perhaps we should all sleep on it, eh?

    Comment by Curious — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:27 AM

  313. DGH:

    In the wake of Gleick’s confession that’s quite a list you’ve posted. It seems there’s disinformation, reckless regards for truth, irresponsibility, cyber-bullying, and other unethical behavior on all sides of the debate.

    While Peter’s actions are indefensible, where’s the “reckless regards for truth”? Heartland has verified the meat of the revealed e-mails, and those named as being recipients of Heartland funding have confirmed that they’re receiving such funding.

    “reckless regard for honor” I can see, but the truth’s out, even if it was outed by a trick.

    :cyber-bullying: where’s the cyber-bullying? Specific examples, please.

    I’ll give you “irresponsibility” … he irresponsibly obtained the truth of Heartland’s funding of people, some of whom, have in the past denied being funded (Watts, for instance). Watts clearly is exposed of having a reckless regard for truth regarding funding.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:29 AM

  314. He was appointed to the AGU’s ethics committee in November http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011EO470009.shtml

    BTW, well done to realclimate for not getting involved in commenting on this mess, Koudo’s to Gavin & the others.

    Comment by simon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:37 AM

  315. @DGH 313

    This is a very sad event and really highlights the primary issue of distrust on both sides of the arguement. IMO your reaction fully illustrates the issues at hand, Gleick has stolen the documents effectively from HI, as to the memo he “received”, well, I feel this situation will only get worse for him as time goes on.

    There is no trust, you calls us fools, we call you fools the circus continues. This isn’t a game, somewhere between our polar views lies an answer I hope, I just can’t see it however.

    As for Watts, a $44000 or $88000 grant is the stuff of University projects, it is senseless to bring that up when one considers funding amounts for ANY science worldwide.

    Where will all of this end?

    And yes, the UEA emails were stolen, and this was wrong, its like nobody cares anymore, tit for tat, children, dogma are we really all that hopeless?

    Comment by simon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 1:05 AM

  316. http://www.scambusters.org/pretexting.html

    “… You might be wondering: isn’t pretexting illegal? There is a law in the US, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. According to the Federal Trade Commission, this act makes it illegal for anyone to:

    – “use false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.

    – “use forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.

    – “ask another person to get someone else’s customer information using false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or using false, fictitious or fraudulent documents or forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents.”

    In addition, the Federal Trade Commission Act also basically prohibits pretexting for sensitive consumer information.

    Unfortunately though, the boundaries of these laws are ambiguous….”

    He was naughty. It was delicious.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2012 @ 1:08 AM

  317. I very much doubt Heartland was on Secretary Stimson’s mind when he observed that gentlemen do not read each others mail.

    Comment by Russell — 21 Feb 2012 @ 1:30 AM

  318. Hank Roberts,

    I think the word you are looking for isn’t “delicious”, its “unethical”.

    Comment by Zeke Hausfather — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:19 AM

  319. Politico writes;
    ” Two sources in California — longtime Democratic operative Chris Lehane and Corey Goodman, a member of the Pacific Institute board of directors — confirmed to POLITICO that Gleick authored the Huffington Post blog confessing to be the source of the leak.

    Lehane, Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign press secretary, is helping Gleick pro bono with communications issues. Gleick is represented by John Keker, a prominent San Francisco-based white collar criminal defense attorney.”

    Comment by Chas — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:20 AM

  320. Curious

    While you are sleeping I hope you don’t have nightmares about the frontiers of the “unsettled science”, the missing feedbacks from the climate models:

    methane emissions from Arctic wetlands

    substantial methane release from Arctic ocean hydrates.

    permafrost thawing releasing large amounts of additional carbon

    The science isn’t settled – it hasn’t caught up with the real world yet.

    My sleep is definitely unsettled.

    Comment by Geoff Beacon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 3:07 AM

  321. Susan Anderson, #285:

    “Bells labs at Murray Hill may have done some applied science but my family’s friends were mostly theoretical at a fairly high level. Not sure what all that was about.”

    Pauli was a famously persnickety character. Also, Pauli was a front-row participant in the invention of quantum mechanics, and taught Einstein a thing or two about relativity in his extensive “encyclopedia” article, published when he was 21. After that, almost anything else is going to look a little bit “applied”.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 21 Feb 2012 @ 3:34 AM

  322. Is there a Soviet equivalent of Godwin’s law? Perhaps we need a Godwin’s right-hand law and a Godwin’s left-hand law.

    Comment by Neil McEvoy — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:29 AM

  323. @ DGH

    Gleick says he altered nothing, and don’t forget that he was honest enough to own up. It would seem the list I posted is pretty spot on, in that case.

    Comment by J Bowers — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:28 AM

  324. The endemic phone hacking within UK tabloid journalism may provide some pointers on the H.I./Gleick affair.
    As well as the law, the public can also do a very good job of public prosecutor/executor. When it was the phones of bumptious politicians or footballer’s wives being hacked, the public didn’t care & the law was never set onto how the papers obtained these personal phone numbers. Yet the hacking process was all highly illegal.
    When the odd celebrity did take it to law, it would be settled out-of-court for undisclosed payments.

    Of course, this all changed when a young high-profile murder victim’s phone was apparently hacked. Newspaper owners now dance to the public tune, leaving their employees to defend themselves & the numbers facing prosecution and a holiday at Her Majesty’s pleasure are growing by the month.

    H.I. may have the inclination to prosecute but that will give Gleick his day in court. Would the H.I. be wise to grant Gleick such an opportunity? Their backers (like the newspaper owners) would find that most uncomfortable and the public may react badly putting the H.I.’s charitable status and their very future in jeopardy.

    Comment by MARodger — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:30 AM

  325. If Gleick’s confession shows that the so-called fake memo was not fake aren’t the HI guilty of fraudulently soliciting donations to their legal fund?
    We are creating a legal defense fund to support litigation, starting immediately, to demand that false and defamatory material be removed from blogs and Web sites and publications, and that the true criminals in this case be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
    Can you make a charitable contribution to our legal defense fund?

    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/02/heartland-institute-documents-climate

    Comment by Turboblocke — 21 Feb 2012 @ 7:28 AM

  326. …putting the H.I.’s charitable status and their very future in jeopardy

    If John Mashey’s investigations (that relied on publicly available documents) are correct, Heartland may have put their charitable status in jeopardy all on their own-some by apparently violating various 501c3 laws. And if that turns out to be the case the legal consequences for the responsible parties may be more severe than those for Gleick.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 21 Feb 2012 @ 7:51 AM

  327. Curious, et. al.,
    I am not sure who originated the phrase, “the science is settled,” but it has been attributed to both Al Gore and Tim Wirth. Some of you may remember this:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/
    As Gavin said, scientists have probably never said that. However, that has not stopped politicians and activists from using that term, and it is not primarily used by contrarians. This term is misused almost as much as “consensus.”

    Politicians and activist like to use these terms to defend their actions. Groupthink and appeal to authority seem to gather more followers that way. The other tactic used by this group is to call their opponents ignorant, misinformed, or liars. Unfortunately, this has spilled over into the scientific community, such that ethics seems like a medieval religious following that can be ignored.

    Is HI any worse than ATI, 350.org, the Global Warming Coalition, Greenpeace, The John Locke Foundation, The Citizen Engagement Lab, Oxfam, or any number of other activist organizations? There is a ton of money being spent by many activist groups to sway the politicians and the public to see things their way.

    Comment by Dan H. — 21 Feb 2012 @ 9:20 AM

  328. https://www.google.com/search?q=pretext+obtaining+information turns up quite a bit worth reading.

    Spoofing, phishing and other kinds of pretext are described as ‘little white lies’ — naughty but not illegal — to legitimate investigative techniques.

    That search will find discussions of pretext in, e.g., a 1950s FBI instruction manual; Hewlett Packard’s investigation of their own Board, which led to recent law penalizing pretext used in obtaining financial institution customer records; use by attorneys and investigators generally under their professional codes of conduct; and many more.

    “Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you” seems to cover most situations — it’s something you have to watch out for because people do it and you as an individual or company have very little protection under the law if you let someone fool you by pretending to be someone else.

    “… as long as investigators contact low level employees and approach the target of their inquiry as any other consumer would in asking about the sale of goods and services (even if they use a pretext identity) then the courts have said there is no violation of law or ethics….”
    http://www.dbaip.com/monthly_cle/2010%20Materials/Taylor%20Paper.pdf

    Glieck did something you’d expect from a lawyer or phone-sales person. Which is sinking qlow. As a journalist by profession, I gather he may indeed catch heck for doing it. Seems journalists aren’t supposed to do that. Could’ve fooled me, I thought journalists were like other investigators, who may do that sort of pretext routinely.

    _____________________________

    This Is Just To Say
    by William Carlos Williams

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    saving
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  329. > Is HI any worse than

    Yes.

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 21 Feb 2012 @ 9:49 AM

  330. Dan H @327
    It may not be a very scientific thing to say that “the science is settled.” Yet there are scientific findings that are sat on very solid foundations and such findings can be said to be “settled.”
    This is true enough for many of the findings of climate science, such that when commentators are heard repeatedly contradicting those findings, these commentators can be considered as “ignorant, misinformed, or liars.” So why not call it how it is?

    Perhaps we should run a little test to seek the limits of this “settled” climate science. Perhaps thses ignorant misinformed liars need better labelling.

    Comment by MARodger — 21 Feb 2012 @ 9:57 AM

  331. Dan H: “Oxfam, or any number of other activist organizations?”

    Oxfam is a humanitarian organization, orginially faith-based. Oxfam helps people who are starving or chronically malnourished. And you dare to compare it to Heartland? Unbelievable!

    Comment by Anonymous Coward — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:05 AM

  332. Warren Meyers posted a thoughtful comment on the Gleick incident here…

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/21/peter-gleick-admits-to-stealing-heartland-documents/

    He writes, “When we convince ourselves that those who disagree with us are not people of goodwill who simply reach different conclusions from the data, but are instead driven by evil intentions and nefarious sources of funding, then it becomes easier to convince oneself that the ends justify the means. And before skeptics revel in too much schadenfreude here, they are susceptible to falling into exactly the same trap.”

    [Response: Schadenfreude is a cheap thrill: fun but ephemeral. Gleick's actions were completely irresponsible and while the information uncovered was interesting (if unsurprising), it in no way justified his actions. There is an integrity required to do science (and talk about it credibly), and he has unfortunately failed this test. The public discussion on this issue will be much the poorer for this - both directly because this event is (yet) another reason not to have a serious discussion, but also indirectly because his voice as an advocate of science, once powerful, has now been diminished. - gavin]

    Comment by DGH — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:08 AM

  333. “Is HI any worse…” Love the false equivalency. The difference between 350.org and HI is that 350.org isn’t attempting to deceive the public regarding global warming.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:13 AM

  334. Peter Gleick has nothing to apologize for. Remember this: The jury has the right to nullify any law it deems wrong. Get on Peter Gleick’s jury and assert that the Freedom Of Information Act applies to corporations.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:22 AM

  335. agree with gavin @332

    No one with half a brain is unaware of the political campaign against the science of global warming. What this event will do is sidetrack the whole discussion into purely the public/political arena even more so.

    The only possible response is to stick entirely with climate facts–as many here did after the 2009 release–and completely ignore the HI release.

    Fat chance of that happening in enough numbers, however.

    Comment by jgnfld — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:27 AM

  336. Gavin: Gleick’s actions should be construed as self defense. GW may kill or injure Gleick’s descendants. There comes a time when strong action is called for. That time is now.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:30 AM

  337. Unsettled Scientist wrote: “The science of Gravity is not settled, yet we have put men on the Moon.”

    I would say:

    The science of Gravity is not settled — but apples fall.

    Likewise, the science of anthropogenic global warming and climate change is not settled — but CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are warming the planet.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:44 AM

  338. jgnfld wrote: “What this event will do is sidetrack the whole discussion into purely the public/political arena even more so.”

    “The whole discussion” is already in the “public/political arena”.

    “The whole discussion” is not really about science. There is, in fact, little to be “discussed” about the science at this point — except to say that THE SCIENCE IS OVERWHELMINGLY CLEAR, AND THE DENIERS ARE DELIBERATELY LYING ABOUT IT.

    And that’s the point that I believe Gleick wanted to make.

    Scientists need to stop playing by the rules of legitimate scientific debate in this “discussion” — for the simple reason that it is NOT A LEGITIMATE SCIENTIFIC DEBATE.

    It is about entities like the Heartland Institute, with millions and millions of fossil fuel corporation dollars to spend on nothing but LYING.

    Gleick has dragged the Heartland Institute’s heartless lies out into the light of day.

    That’s not “sidetracking the discussion”. On the contrary, it’s getting to the heart of the matter.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:55 AM

  339. Warren Meyers was quoted above: “When we convince ourselves that those who disagree with us are not people of goodwill who simply reach different conclusions from the data, but are instead driven by evil intentions and nefarious sources of funding …”

    That’s nice. At least it sounds nice. But it’s an utterly dishonest false equivalency.

    The paid propagandists at the Heartland Institute are NOT “people of good will who simply reach different conclusions from the data”. They are professional liars.

    And they ARE driven by evil intentions. And they ARE driven by “nefarious” sources of funding.

    Those are objective facts. Period.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 11:01 AM

  340. Dan H once again tries to muddy the issues. Once again he applies the standard tactic of ‘we don’t know everything so we don’t know anything’.

    I am not sure who originated the phrase, “the science is settled,” but it has been attributed to both Al Gore and Tim Wirth. Some of you may remember this:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/

    Yes, I remember that well. What you’re deliberately missing, Dan, is that the phrase “the science is settled” is used in two very different contexts by scientists and public policy advocates. Scientists know that everything is not settled. The exact climate sensitivity remains to be seen, though it’s very likely to be about 3oC. Responses to increased CO2, changes in weather patterns, melting of glaciers – the scientists all say they need more research.

    The policy advocates, such as Gore, realize full well that the temperature is going to rise with increased CO2. Furthermore, they realize that betting civilization that climate sensitivity is a low and manageable number is a real long shot.

    Similarly, they realize that if the timing and distribution of precipitation changes much, agricultural output will decline, just as population is peaking. The scientists don’t know how much it will decline, or exactly which areas will be desertified or when, but it’s not that hard to figure out that any changes will be bad.

    As Gavin said, scientists have probably never said that. However, that has not stopped politicians and activists from using that term, and it is not primarily used by contrarians. This term is misused almost as much as “consensus.”

    So, Dan, do you really believe that if scientists say “the science is unsettled” that the climate could cool in response to increased CO2?

    Politicians and activist like to use these terms to defend their actions. Groupthink and appeal to authority seem to gather more followers that way. The other tactic used by this group is to call their opponents ignorant, misinformed, or liars. Unfortunately, this has spilled over into the scientific community, such that ethics seems like a medieval religious following that can be ignored.

    So what do you suggest we call those people and organizations that spend millions of dollars promoting non-science to the detriment of all humanity?

    What would you call these same people when they spend decades denying their own research showing that tobacco is both addictive and carcinogenic? What do you call these people who absolutely, positively know better but who are willing to sacrifice millions of lives in order to make a profit?

    Is HI any worse than ATI, 350.org, the Global Warming Coalition, Greenpeace, The John Locke Foundation, The Citizen Engagement Lab, Oxfam, or any number of other activist organizations? There is a ton of money being spent by many activist groups to sway the politicians and the public to see things their way.

    Yes, without any question.
    Were the tobacco companies any worse than the ‘activist’ groups who said smoking causes cancer? Were they worse than the politically appointed Surgeon General who took a stand based on the science (never settled, of course. Science wants to know why only some people get lung cancer)?

    Of course they were. There was an objective right and wrong; even if the science wasn’t ‘settled’ to the scientists minds it was certainly settled enough to know that many people who smoked were going to suffer serious, life changing, health effects.

    In the same way today there’s an objective right and wrong. Increasing CO2 will lead to global warming. Global warming inevitably leads to changing weather patterns, sea level rise, migrating species, and declines in production of food.

    There’s the science that makes this all very clear, even if it’s ‘unsettled’ to the point that we don’t know if we’ll have 3oC or 6oC temperature increase this century. To equate groups raising awareness of the consequences of our actions to those who are designing programs for grade-schoolers denying the things that we completely understand is morally repugnant.

    Comment by David Miller — 21 Feb 2012 @ 11:03 AM

  341. I suggest that we consider the comparison between Mr. Gleick’s actions and those of Mr. Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 21 Feb 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  342. http://ebyline.biz/2011/12/what-a-private-investigator-can-teach-you-about-interviewing/ — by a working journalist — is worth reading, as a reality check. “They can’t do that, can they?” isn’t realistic; they can and do pretext calls, and you have to check. Get a number, call back, verify who you’re talking to. Because this stuff gets imitated when it succeeds.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2012 @ 11:49 AM

  343. @Edward Greisch # 336: I agree with the principle of self-defense, but I fail to see how shooting oneself in the foot accomplishes that goal.

    Comment by Horlinrot — 21 Feb 2012 @ 11:52 AM

  344. Dan H wrote: “Is HI any worse than …”

    Yes, in fact the Heartland Institute is “worse” than the advocacy groups you list. Those groups advocate policies for dealing with anthropogenic global warming. The Heartland Institute, in contrast, simply LIES.

    Just as you are worse than a long list of other commenters who post here frequently — and for the same reason. They discuss climate science, while you tell lies.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:06 PM

  345. DGH,
    I agree with Gavin. Gleick’s action will undermine his credibility.

    Several posters seem to think that those activist groups which oppose their views are spreading misinformation, while those that support their views are beyond reproach. All these activist groups are spreading information that lies on the extreme ends of the scientific understanding (and quite possibly beyond).

    [Response: That's nonsense. Activism does not equate to extremism. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  346. Chris Crawford: I suggest that we consider the comparison between Mr. Gleick’s actions and those of Mr. Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.

    Ellsberg was indicted and tried, but the Nixon administration had broken into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office and the prosecution was unable to prove that its case was totally independent of the illegally obtained information from the psychiatrist. So you might want to consider the parallel between Gleick and the administration agents who broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrists office, as well as the fact that Ellsberg was probably guilty of the crime for which he was indicted.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 21 Feb 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  347. Re : Comparisons with the USSR..

    It was not a perfect analogy because, fortunately, the anti-science forces have not won in the US and the UK and they could not send climatologists to the Gulag, but that does not mean that there are no similarities.

    In the USSR there was the promotion of an ambitious, ideologically motivated non expert into a position of great power where he would systematically undermine one of the countries’ best research organisations and replace it by an empty shell doing bogus experiments of no practical or theoretical value. Soviet agriculture was badly weakened.

    Of course that was Lysenko. His modern ideological and commercial counterparts in the US and UK do not have so much power , but they do have wealthy and often bullying supporters who promote PR outfits such as Heartland, until their influence is out of all proportion to the significance of their ‘research’. On the other hand, another breakdown of the analogy is that the damage done by such anti-scientific activity will not be restricted to the host countries such as the US and UK.

    Reference

    Comment by deconvoluter — 21 Feb 2012 @ 1:46 PM

  348. #322 Re. Gavins response

    Gavin, In part I agree and in part I disagree. If I may parse issues to give context. From a scientific perspective it was irresponsible. but from other perspectives it can be seen as responsible, because it’s not the same as publishing a false scientific paper, though it will be painted that way by some.

    - Peter brought truth to light.

    I interpret that as a responsible action. Heck, that’s even what science is about. True he did it in an unorthodox manner from the perspective of the scientific community.

    There is an integrity required in doing science, but Peter getting an e-mail has nothing to do with the scientific method.

    1. Heartland is not doing science, while claiming they are representing science

    2. Peter did not do any scientific fraud or attempt to publish or push any unscientific information in science journals.

    3. Peter effectively did what any ‘good’ reporter would do and verify the origin of the material by means that are typically employed.

    His method has in fact resulted in revealing that the claims that the documents were fraudulent as stated by Heartland, is an incorrect assertion as well.

    I’m against scientific fraud on every level, but I don’t see this as scientific fraud, I see Peters’ actions as standing up for honor and integrity by bringing truth to light, if in fact the documents are from Heartland. At this point I see no reason not to believe the documents are authentic.

    As to double standards, I think what climate scientists do in science, is different that what they might do in what little personal life they get these days.

    The CRU was hacked. Peter may have deceived Heartland into giving him evidence, but as far as I know can tell the calibers are different and context is key. One is a 44 magnum hollow-point crime and Peter seems to be using a BB gun.

    The worst part is that now everyone will try to make the BB welt look like it’s worse than being hit with a 44 magnum hollow-point center mass.

    I don’t know the legal issues, but in my view Peter has not committed any scientific malfeasance in this particular action. I do understand your point of view and respect it. At the same time, I’m glad Peter brought this to light and if the documents are verified as authentic, there is value in knowing the true intentions of the Heartland Institute in a bonifide evidentiary manner.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Feb 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  349. SecularAnimist,

    While your analogy is also valid, I chose putting men on the Moon for a specific reason. As your analogy and subsequent application to climate illustrate, incomplete understandings of Nature allow us to explain natural phenomena. I was making the point that incomplete scientific understanding allows us to utilize the natural phenomena.

    Let me use another physics (because it’s my background) analogy to illustrate this point. Anti-matter always existed, even before Paul Dirac’s Equation suggested its existence. Currently we still don’t quite understand the differences between matter and anti-matter. However, after Dirac wrote his equation, positrons (anti-electrons) were discovered in cosmic rays. This fits with your analogy… positrons were always raining down on Earth from cosmic rays and still do even with our incomplete understanding, our “unsettled science.” Cosmic positrons are apples falling. Putting men on the Moon, in the anti-matter analogy, would be PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. Although the science of matter and anti-matter is “unsettled”, we can use positrons to create images of people’s brains while they are lying on their backs in a tube.

    I wanted to make this point because even with an incomplete understanding of climate science we can not only explain the natural phenomena of CO2 and other greenhouse gases trapping energy and warming the planet, but we can also use the tools this understanding gives us to avoid the excessive warming that is an unintended side effect of industry.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:00 PM

  350. I have another point about “unsettled science” that I would like to make. It is rare that greater understanding, even revolutions in scientific thought, lead to a complete reversal of the conclusions of the previous ideas. Again, I’ll use a physics analogy.

    When Newton came up with Universal Gravitation, that is gravity is not just something that applies to us here on Earth but extends throughout all of space and acts on all bodies, gravity did not suddenly become a known attractive force. That gravity pulled things together was already known. Similarly, when Einstein came up with the idea that gravity is a warping of Spacetime, Newton’s relationship of the inverse square of the distance between the bodies was not tossed asunder.

    Greater understanding of the climate is not going to suddenly make CO2 not a greenhouse gas that causes the Earth to warm. Like Newton and Einstein, our future advancements will extend the knowledge further, and explain corner cases that currently pose as fascinating questions to the scientific community.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  351. To my judgement, the most harm that is comitted by contrarians in our time is by that quite general “war against science” and regardless. Many of us are quite dependent on rather elementary scientific procedure and knowledge in everyday life. It is our culture and way of life.
    I suddenly sat in a Jumbo- jet for 8 hours over the atlantic and could reat “Altitude 11500..12000 M, T -65..-70 C!”

    Now what on earth is that? In bright afternoon sunshine, Colder the the winter night records i Sibiria?..It must! have a natural explaination. Else, my very belief in Lufthansa and inj Nature will be torn apart.

    Even worse, a contrarian did claim again and again and again that climate change in recent years come because of the natural rocking of the earth axis in quite recent decades, and not because of CO2. (What about amateur astronomy then? it will have to be disqualified!)

    But in Tromsø, the first you do when you go out and piss in the morning is to look after whether the Earth Axis stands up right as usual, and then for the other stars to see what time it is in the morning. The Earth axis standing right is allways a good first sign. That will be a good day. But if it has tilted over, then it is a bad sign because then the world has gone under while you were asleep.

    Just think of messing up with such important things (Basic control referencfes of Nature) to have their right, And they do!

    That kind of political propaganda does ental rather severe damage to possible culture, civilisation, freedom, and independence. You will rather have to rely on the experts in rather elementary things. And that is dangerous because they may fool you.

    Comment by S.K. (Carbomontanus) — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:11 PM

  352. About Gavin’s view of Peter Gleick’s actions: I feel strongly both ways. I suppose Gavin is right that Gleick’s credibility as a scientist and as an advocate of science is diminished, but I think what he did is justified. He used deception to expose the actions of an organization that both uses and finances deception. He used deception to expose “merchants of doubt.” More people should do that. If scientists can’t do it and remain scientists, then they should appreciate the sacrifice Gleick has made, whether he knew it would develop this way or not.

    Comment by Martin Smith — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  353. “extreme end of scientific understanding…” Dan H,given your laughable misreading of PDSI, (and failure to own up to the implication of that misreading), as well as propensity to post misleading links, why would a reader place credence in your definition of what is extreme?

    Despicable. And…Woof.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 21 Feb 2012 @ 2:22 PM

  354. Septic Matthew writes: consider the parallel between Gleick and the administration agents who broke into Ellsberg’s psychiatrists office, as well as the fact that Ellsberg was probably guilty of the crime for which he was indicted.

    The comparison of Mr. Gleick’s action with the government agents who broke into the office of Mr. Ellsberg’s psychiatrist is a poor one. More important, I think, is the fact that, with 40 years’ hindsight, most people agree that Mr. Ellsberg’s actions were laudable. Regardless of the legal evaluation of Mr. Gleick’s actions, I think that they are similarly laudable. He shone light into the inner workings of a nefarious organization.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 21 Feb 2012 @ 3:23 PM

  355. I’d assume Gleick has kept the digital record of the email that he was attempting to confirm before releasing it. What Heartland should be most concerned with is where the information originated, not on the successful attempt to authenticate same. Mr Gleicks authentication of the material before releasing it is actually commendable, regardless if some find the exact technique of questionable legality.

    Comment by flxible — 21 Feb 2012 @ 3:47 PM

  356. 350, Chris Crawford,

    The distinction I was trying to draw in the two parallels was between government information that the public arguably has a right to know (and I agree that Ellsberg did the right thing), and private information which the public arguably has no right to know (and for which Congress has written generally popular laws to protect privacy.)

    I expect the CRU hacker/whistleblower (if found) and Peter Gleick to be indicted or cop a plea. After that, I don’t know.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 21 Feb 2012 @ 4:00 PM

  357. Septic Matthew wrote: “I expect the CRU hacker/whistleblower (if found) and Peter Gleick to be indicted or cop a plea.”

    There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to even suggest that the person who stole the CRU emails was a “whistleblower”.

    Nor have NINE SEPARATE INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS of the stolen CRU emails produced any evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing about which to blow a whistle.

    Tell me, though — do you “expect” the person(s) who stole the CRU emails to publicly confess and take personal responsibility for doing so, as Peter Gleick has done for releasing the Heartland documents that were sent to him? If not, why not?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 4:30 PM

  358. I find most of these comments disturbing, SOME posters here are effectively CONDONING the climate gate saga by their acceptance of Gleiks actions. And NO, you can’t say his actions were wrong…but.

    What is the law for? Once you start making exceptions where do you stop?

    This information was pretty much avaliable as public record, think about that, yet how did Gleick decide to obtain it? By breaking the law. The same applies to the UEA issue, the exact same response from skeptics, yes ..but…

    Gavin nailed this issue in an earlier post, irs not acceptable, its wrong, its illegal, it should not be done. This applies to both sides of the arguement.

    You don’t understand how much damage Gleick has done, this will only get worse, do I need to join the dots for you?

    Its time both sides stopped acting like juveniles and started working together. I am a skeptic, but I see both sides of the arguement, I read, have not closed my mind and if further information becomes avaliable that prods me to change my opinion, then I will.

    Kudo’s to the mods for not driving this subject until more information became avaliable, perhaps its time that we as posters adopted their attitude.

    Let ALL science speak and make your own mind up.

    Comment by simon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 4:39 PM

  359. #358 simon

    I admit I am only slight conflicted. I can not see that the action of Peter Gleick is on the same level of intrusion as the CRU hack. He merely asked for some documents, while the CRU hack was much more easily identifiable as a cyber crime.

    That said, I for one know that Heartland has participated in dissemination information that is not scientifically based and yet they are still selling it or inferring that thier views justify doubt in the strong and wel lvetted aspects of cliamte science.

    Outing such an organization is a favor to society, not a disservice. And no, I’m not condoning criminal behavior, but I’m not even sure that what Gleick did was a crime whereas it looks more to me as something an investigator or investigative reporter might do, and as we new do do on a regular basis.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:09 PM

  360. > what is the law for?
    The law is for protecting personal financial records, explicitly.
    Good thing we have government agencies, eh?

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre10.shtm

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:13 PM

  361. I am a skeptic, but I see both sides of the argument,

    Both sides eh? That pretty much says it all.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:13 PM

  362. simon wrote: “What is the law for? Once you start making exceptions where do you stop?”

    I have yet to see a single commenter here say that an “exception” to “the law” should be made for Gleick.

    And as far as I know, neither has Peter Gleick himself asked that any “exception” to “the law” be made for him.

    Instead, Gleick has publicly acknowledged and publicly taken personal responsibility for his actions — conspicuously UNLIKE the person(s) who stole the CRU emails.

    Speaking of which, it would be most interesting to re-read some of the comments that deniers like yourself posted about the CRU email theft. I don’t seem to remember deniers raising a righteous clamor about the sanctity of “the law” at that time. Instead, it was all about the “courageous whistleblower” (even though there is not one shred of evidence that the CRU emails were released by a “whistleblower”).

    Indeed, I don’t seem to remember the Heartland Institute standing up for “the law” and demanding that the person(s) who stole the CRU emails be brought to justice. They were much too busy lying about the content of the stolen emails, and slandering the scientists whose emails were stolen.

    simon wrote: “You don’t understand how much damage Gleick has done”

    Not nearly as much damage as the Heartland Institute’s well-funded campaign of deliberate deceit and malicious, dishonest attacks on climate scientists has done, that’s for sure.

    As to how much damage Gleick may have done TO the Heartland Institute’s campaign of deceit, I don’t know — but I hope it is fatal.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:18 PM

  363. Speaking of delicious, I was thinking of Gleick in the context of Deep Throat.

    On thoughtful people and the UCS, I had a particular thoughtful person in mind, and he was truly thoughtful, but I have to admit we finally parted company over his obduracy. What baffles me, to provide an example – reading and trying to absorb Mann’s new book, is how anyone can not be hit between the eyes by fine work, if they read with an open mind. Same with UCS – their work is largely unimpeachable.

    on Pauli vs. Bell Labs, sorry, I’m not going there. I do like judgmental people if they are clever with it, though, sometimes.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:36 PM

  364. @359 John

    Thanks for the response John. Its not for me to tell you what is right or wrong, thats your perspective, I wont eat your lunch for that.

    This is why I mentioned the rule of law, this determines from a legal perspective what is right and wrong, note that I through the UEA in there as well, another breach of the law, no exceptions.

    “Outing such an organization is a favor to society, not a disservice. And no, I’m not condoning criminal behavior..”

    And who determines this, you? Me? Gavin? Watts? Are any of us in a position to determine what is best for soceity, who should be allowed to have views, who shouldn’t? Thats a dangerous path you are treading on, consider that. Yes you are condining illegal actions, but you are prepared to make an exception, just like many skeptics with regard to the UEA, its wrong..but..

    “I’m not even sure that what Gleick did was a crime whereas it looks more to me as something an investigator or investigative reporter might do, and as we new do do on a regular basis.”

    Ley me clarify this, it is a crime, and if an investigator or reporter did this it would also be a crime, same with UEA, this is not somthing I would do, do people do this on a regular basis, god help us if they do.

    What is right, what is wrong, thats for the law to decide, with a good dash of morals thrown in, once you start making exceptions when do you stop.

    All of this applies to UEA, there are no exceptions, there can be no, its wrong…but, both Gleick and the UEA culprit are one, you cannot insert a degree test.

    Let ALL the science speak, let people make up their own minds, let people keep their minds open, subject to change.

    [Response: That is all very well, but not really as a general and universally applicable rule. There have certainly been times in history, and places on earth now, where there has been/is a clash between doing what was/is morally right and what was/is legal. We can all think of plenty of examples. However, breaking the law in the service of a higher morality requires a number of conditions before it makes sense - that the law itself is immoral (rather than simply the ends justifying the means), that responsibility is taken, that people are conscious of the potential consequences, and finally, that the end result actually makes things better (Note, this is a brief summary of my thoughts but I am sure there are more cogent defenses of this in many philosophy texts). I reject absolutely "the ends justifies the means" as a practical philosophical principle - that way lies disaster. Overall, I do not judge this instance to have met the criteria, but there may be circumstances that would. - gavin]

    Comment by simon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:56 PM

  365. #362 SecularAnimist

    This is a very good point. I applaud Peter for taking his stand and for taking responsibility for his stand.

    When will the CRU hackers claim responsibility for what they did?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Feb 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  366. If the most likely climate change scenario for year 2100 does happen, including that we begin this year trying to stop it, is there a way to quantify the number of human deaths that will occur in 2100 because we waited this long? And then can we re-estimate given that the deniers successfully prevent us from taking action for 1 year, for 2 years, for 3 years, and so on? If AGW is bad for the human race, then at some point, the successful efforts of organizations like the Heartland Institute will be causing lots of deaths in 2100, and the longer we delay, the bigger the death toll. Heartland Institute-type organizations aren’t going to stop creating FUD because scientists above suspicion debate them into stopping. In the first place, they already believe there are no climate scientists above suspicion. You’re all in it for the grant money; you all have conflicts of interest; you all fudge results and hide bad data. They have already succeeded in spreading those memes. I think Peter Gleick decided it was time to go rogue. I think he was right to fess up, but I think he should have been positive about what he did, and I think he should have added, “and I will be doing this for the rest of my life.”

    Comment by Martin Smith — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:00 PM

  367. @362

    “Speaking of which, it would be most interesting to re-read some of the comments that deniers like yourself posted about the CRU email theft. I don’t seem to remember deniers raising a righteous clamor”

    I agree with you, I posted that above, skeptics jumped all over it and made it an exception. its wrong…but, the hacker is a hero, so its okay..

    May I ask why you called me a denier?

    “Not nearly as much damage as the Heartland Institute’s well-funded campaign of deliberate deceit and malicious, dishonest attacks on climate scientists has done, that’s for sure.”

    You can prove that? You have evidence?

    Looks like there is no hope for change.

    Thank you for your time people and for allowing my comments Gavin.

    Comment by simon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:03 PM

  368. The responses on the blogs have been fairly predictable, with the “leak” serving largely as reinforcement tools, and the responses generally correlating with an individuals views about climate change. However, there needs to be broader perspective on this:

    1) First, we should never condone the illegal obtaining of documents (or falsification of documents if this happened). The actions by Peter Gleick were immoral, irresponsible, and possibly illegal. They should not serve as a template for future “debate tactics.” After all, some can appreciate the difficulties that Heartland must have encountered over the last several days, given the attack on their credibility in the face of possibly artificial or misused documents and claims. This was the same difficulty that many of the scientist victims of “climategate” had to endure for years when they had their personal e-mail discussions publicized and mangled to no end. Many of these persecutions based on misrepresentations of the e-mails were led by Heartland, but it does not mean we need to play tag with them. In both cases, this style of attack serves no scientific purpose and has the sole characteristic of character assassination.

    Nonetheless, some documents reveal interesting and troubling aspects of the Heartland initiative, including the intention to spread climate misinformation to K-12 classrooms. This should be kept in mind in the future.

    2) There should also be no double standards attached to the assault on climate scientists or on an organization with a “skeptical” agenda. The climategate leak was just as unethical and irresponsible as the release of Heartland documents. Judith Curry, for example, is on record of saying “The Uncertainty Monster Rests Its Case (thank you hacker/whistleblower)” in reference to climategate, yet was very quick to attack Gleick’s integrity.

    3) Many of us can sympathize with Gleick’s frustration over the lack of transparency by such private organizations, the absence of standards that skeptics are held to, as well the the growing spread of misinformation concerning climate change. This may be unavoidable, but the peer-reviewed literature is the best way to establish where there is and is not legitimate scientific argument. That strategy may be less effective in the popular media, but it is possible to develop efficient communication with the public while retaining honesty and integrity, maintaining consistency with the scientific literature, and not lowering to the standards of some of these anti-climate organizations.

    4) It should be clear that the physics of the atmosphere doesn’t care about any of this, nor does this impact that thousands of scientists that have the courage to tackle the uncertainties that exist in the Earth system. The science of radiative transfer, or the methodologies developed to diagnose climate sensitivity are in no way affected by events such as “leaked documents” or e-mails. Sea ice extent will not care about professional decisions, nor will altered animal migration patterns listen to the harsh words that opposing members of the debate have for each other.

    The reality of global warming, as well as a dominant human influence causing that warming, has now been established with high confidence. The evidence of a new climate and the associated concerns are compelling, and this alone will serve as testament to the power of physics, observation, and hard work by researchers over the next few decades. Whether humanity listens to this evidence is a tough matter, but the evidence does not need to be supplemented with “gotcha” games of this sort.

    Lastly, there have been several references by Gleick and Heartland with respect to “debating” the science. Interrogating the many mysteries and complexities of how the Earth system works is one of the greatest endeavors that can be pursued by a scientist, right along with studies investigating the origin of humans, or the possibility of life on other planets. Moreover, the science of climate is a fascinating multidisciplinary field involving work at the interface of paleoclimate, ice sheet dynamics, sea ice physics, observations from multiple pieces of information, modeling, carbon cycle work, cloud and aerosols, etc. There is no end to the legitimate discussions that those with a passionate interest in climate can have, without the need for personal attacks. It may be naive to suspect Heartland has any intention of pursuing this legitimate line of inquiry, but they will demonstrate that themselves over time; no one should try to expose them by such methods.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:12 PM

  369. Dan H (at 327) This internet thing is useful
    (whoever you are, however much they pay you)

    Google “Al Gore” and “the science is settled”, and you get an NPR report from 2007 about specific testimony Mr Gore gave at a congressional hearing.
    (at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642)
    ==================================
    “The science is settled, Gore told the lawmakers. Carbon-dioxide emissions — from cars, power plants, buildings and other sources — are heating the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Gore said that if left unchecked, global warming could lead to a drastic change in the weather, sea levels and other aspects of the environment. And he pointed out that these conclusions are not his, but those of a vast majority of scientists who study the issue.”
    ==================================
    There’s no smoking gun; nothing open to challenge here, for those of us paying attention, who don’t have competing personal or political agendas.

    There are the big questions, and there are the details. Chasing the unsettled details is what most scientists do – and occasionally those details add up to big new answers, usually with more questions.

    The “science is settled” for many big questions: gravity explains what keeps us standing on this spinning ball, evolving life explains how we beat shifting viruses and bacteria, the kind of life we know best requires liquid water, but isn’t the only kind of life…
    Global warming is real, and tracks directly with increased CO2 concentration, which is linked to our modern lifestyle. That science _is_ settled, if 97% of the relevant experts constitute a consensus. The rest is details.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:24 PM

  370. Looking at this as a complete outsider, I agree with someone who earlier said these comments are disturbing. I also am disturbed that these comments seem to reflect the tone of some of the other articles and blogs I have read.

    From my perspective, I see a scientist who impersonated someone else to get documents, after which he included a document which was not part of the provided documents which resulted in misleading others. The issue of impersonating someone is wrong, but the misleading aspect is in my opinion the greater worry I have in this story. My question is that there doesn’t seem like much of a step here from adding a document out of context to creating misleading results in a scientific context.

    [Response: He states that the extra document was sent to him anonymously at the beginning of the process. Allegations of other actions are just allegations, and I would be very surprised if they were true. Opinions obviously differ on this point. - gavin]

    Comment by Andy — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:31 PM

  371. Gavin, and all the others who replied to my post,

    I hold a bs in applied math. I hope that answers your question. There is no doubt in my mind that climate scientists are among the brightest scientists. In fact, reading the posts on most of the articles here leads me to believe that most people here are a lot smarter than I am. I most certainly did notmmean to insult anyones intelligence.
    As I have said before, i do not have the education to argue the science behind the AGW theory. However it is beyond me why people on this site cant understand that a lot of what is going on in climate science field just does not pass the smell test. I dont want to drag this out by beating a dead horse, but climate scientists have made quite a few poor judgement calls. The reason they have such a hard time communicating with the public is that they make it look like sometimes they want to be scientists, sometimes activists, sometimes politicians or bussiness people. The reason people like marc morano are having a field day with climate science is that that scientists continue go step outside their skope of expertise.

    What I was trying to say is that being a climate scientist is not anything like what people living behind the iron curtain had to go through. If skeptics had it their way, climate scientists would not live like the people behind the iron curtain ! To me that sounds like either you dont know what skeptics want or you dont know what life behind the iron curtain was like. You could not be more wrong if you believe that voicing liberal talking points In Europe could get you hurt. It probably sounds good with scientists battling skeptists, but it just not compatible with reality.

    The people who lose sleep over global warming, are the same people who think that some wingnut in Iran or North Korea with nukes is not something to worry about. The same naive people who think that starving people in poor countries care about global warming, and if we just send them enough money theyll start making solar panels.

    And of course 97% of people who choose to study climate science believe in global warming, what kind of argument is that ?

    [Response: A pretty silly one actually. Do all people only become doctors if they believe in the germ theory of disease? Or engineers because they believe in Newton's Laws? Surely if you thought that climate science was wrong and you were a beginning scientist, it would be a huge incentive to disprove an entire field. Nobel prizes etc. You are simply wanting to ignore the real reason why climate scientists agree on the main aspects - it's because there is a huge amount of convincing evidence for it. You keep trying to make the science about political worldviews, but it really isn't. CO2 doesn't care who you vote for. - gavin]

    Comment by Tietjan Berelul — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:43 PM

  372. Martin Smith wrote: “Heartland Institute-type organizations aren’t going to stop creating FUD because scientists above suspicion debate them into stopping.”

    Exactly. Indeed, the whole and entire reason that organizations like the Heartland Institute exist, and receive millions of dollars in funding from fossil fuel interests, is precisely because scientists have already won the “debate”.

    That’s exactly why Heartland is not “debating” — they know they have lost the “debate”, so they are LYING.

    And yet, it seems that almost without exception, climate scientists continue to believe, and to behave as though, they are engaged in a scientific debate.

    To the extent that there ever was a legitimate scientific debate about the reality of AGW and the threat that it presents, that debate ended at least 20 years ago.

    What’s been going on ever since is not a legitimate debate — it’s a campaign of deliberate LIES by the losers of that debate.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 21 Feb 2012 @ 6:56 PM

  373. 357, SecularAnimist: Tell me, though — do you “expect” the person(s) who stole the CRU emails to publicly confess and take personal responsibility for doing so, as Peter Gleick has done for releasing the Heartland documents that were sent to him? If not, why not?

    [edit - please try not to assume motivations]

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 21 Feb 2012 @ 7:06 PM

  374. TB:

    As I have said before, i do not have the education to argue the science behind the AGW theory. However it is beyond me why people on this site cant understand that a lot of what is going on in climate science field just does not pass the smell test.

    Maybe it’s because we do understand the science behind the AGW theory better than you. And you’ve explicitly set a very low bar … who are you to be lecturing to a practicing scientist like Gavin that his work doesn’t pass the smell test when you admittedly aren’t capable of arguing the science?

    That’s hubris of a special form usually abbreviated “D-K” …

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  375. Andy@369

    In truth Andy the skeptic blogs were similar with regard to the climate gate issue.

    The attidue seemed to be, yes it was wrong to steal the emails but, the hacker is a hero, or the truth comes out or, for the greater good…

    The emails were private discussions and thoughts over a period of time which is what people do. Now, if the emails were requested as part of a FOI issue and NOT provided that would be a different story.

    The UEA thief is no different to Gleick IMO, and frankly anyone posting here who can “kinda” understand why Gleick did this, and maybe its not so bad, must in truth apply the same reasoning to UAE email thief.

    Glieck has acted shamefully, that does not make climate change proponents guilty, only Glieck is guilty, and anyone who may have assisted him. He made a bad call, he will regret for the rest of his life.

    As for that budget memo, lets be clear, its a fake, this is only just starting and I suspect Mr Gliecks problems are only going to grow.

    But they are his problems, not the problems of AGW science, its just that proponents of same now have to deal with the mud being flung.

    Comment by simon — 21 Feb 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  376. From Daily Climate:

    “Those who applaud his [Gleick's] actions can only do so if ethics no longer matter.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Comment by Bill Jamison — 21 Feb 2012 @ 8:06 PM

  377. TB:

    The people who lose sleep over global warming, are the same people who think that some wingnut in Iran or North Korea with nukes is not something to worry about.

    Maybe your brain is incapable of worrying about multple threats simultaneously, but don’t assume you’re right about the rest of us, buster. If you don’t mean to insult people here, why are you insulting us?

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2012 @ 8:06 PM

  378. chriscolose “It may be naive to suspect Heartland has any intention of pursuing this legitimate line of inquiry, but they will demonstrate that themselves over time; no one should try to expose them by such methods.”

    Naive?
    You have to deliberately avert your view from what is known about Heartland to be this naive. It’s a bit like the artificially contrived naivety of juries who are not allowed to know a defendant’s previous history of law-breaking to go this far.

    We are much more in the position of a judge who’s been given all the known information about someone before the court. Or better, to get closer to the sphere of professional behaviour, like a panel determining fitness to practise for a doctor or a lawyer. What they look at is past lapses of skill or judgement and any evidence of improvement or appropriate action that would justify allowing these wrongdoers to have any professional standing with the public.

    “they will demonstrate that themselves over time”
    They’ve already had plenty of time in the public sphere in relation to public health and other issues. If there’s any instance, ever, where they’ve been in the right about tobacco, asbestos or any other matter, I’ve not heard of it.

    They’ve been around for a very long time. If they want to advance a new method of operations, ie “pursuing this legitimate line of inquiry”, they should be explicit about how they will a) do that, b) demonstrate that their behaviour to date should be ignored in the future.

    Like all drug counsellors and parole officers, I’d be glad to see a positive outcome. Although, just like those people, I’ll be completely unsurprised to see things go on much as before.

    Comment by adelady — 21 Feb 2012 @ 8:16 PM

  379. #364 simon

    I agree with Gavin’s response.

    Further, if Peter is found guilty of a crime then so be it. If I had done the same as he and been found guilty, then so be it. It was Peters choice in this case to do what he did. And if you are arguing that his outing Heartland is the same as hackers and Watts and Heartland quoting cherry picked statements of science out of context ultimately misleading the public are the same, the I strongly disagree.

    There is something called contentious objection and laws change based on knowledge understanding and evolution of understanding. There there is justice to consider, of which a judge may find someone guilty and still not punish depending on circumstance.

    How do you know I am condoning illegal actions? Who already determined a crime was committed. If Heartland sent him the documents, then I’m having a hard time finding a crime here, even if there was a misrepresentation (possibly that was a crime but I do not know). Or would you say he is guilty also because Heartland was not smart about their own security protocols?

    You are acting as judge and juror of Peter Gleick though. He has not even been charged with a crime as yet and since I’m not a lawyer, I still don’t know if what he did was illegal, or merely a deception that he used to get at a particular truth.

    What is right and what is wrong is not only for the law to decide, it is for the evolution of human kind to decide. And through time, laws change as we attempt to create a better sense of right and wrong.

    Oh, and I don’t know how right or wrong I am. Such things can be somewhat amorphous. Sort of like climate models with an estimated mean and error bars around it. But that does not mean that I am wrong just because there is uncertainty, nor does it prove how right I am.

    But I still think Peter made a brave decision for what he thought was the right thing to do. I wonder what I would have done in the same circumstance. One can never truly know such things though.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Feb 2012 @ 8:26 PM

  380. I’d like to correct Simon on a misconception:

    What is right, what is wrong, thats for the law to decide, with a good dash of morals thrown in, once you start making exceptions when do you stop.

    No, the law determines what is legal, not what is moral. We attempt to codify our moral standards in our laws, but all jurists recognize that the law is but an approximation of justice. There are plenty of situations in which the law condones something we know to be patently immoral; there are a few situations in which the law punishes an action that we know to be morally admirable. I believe the Mr. Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers provides us with an excellent example of a morally admirable action that was also illegal. I further believe that Mr. Gleick’s action is in the same class. I recognize, however, that moral standards are completely subjective and that it is futile to argue over different moral standards.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 21 Feb 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  381. Those that use tactics and methods of intimidation to suppress others from addressing wrongs as they are identified should have those methods set in the light of day. The documents Peter was sent are one thing. There there is this:

    http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/2012/02/19/heartland-institute-threatens-71-year-old-veteran/

    Where Heartland had the gaul to threaten a Col. USAF Ret. This I found upsetting and I responded and cc’d the Colonel:

    http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/2012/02/20/28790/

    This intimidation tactic is as old as lawyers have existed I imagine. I have had it lobbed at myself and those I know more than once.

    They just figure, what can these puny people do to us, we have five lawyers. We can scare them away by intimidation saying they are the ones committing crimes and we will put it in language that sounds scary and official.

    The last case I was involved with under these circumstances, the corporation lost, plus interest. But the scary letters, I remember each one, and each time I read one upon arrival, I just laughed.

    Philosophers have made their cases that though unscientific, there is a rationality that can be argued for, and that without rational argument the truth itself might suffer.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 21 Feb 2012 @ 8:43 PM

  382. Tietjan Berelul @370

    “However it is beyond me why people on this site cant understand that a lot of what is going on in climate science field just does not pass the smell test.”

    Like you, I am not a climate scientist. Nor am I as smart as many of the people here. That’s precisely why I’m very suspicious of “smell tests”, especially when they’re flogged by the inexpert. If you have a BS in applied math, you certainly know enough to understand that much in this world doesn’t conform to gut instinct. In fact the whole history of math and science is pretty much a testament to that, both scientifically and socially.

    Further, if you put sufficient energy into honest analysis of the so-called “debate” you will do a better job of discerning where the really bad smells are actually coming from. That is to say, if you understand who is lobbing the stink bombs, what is at stake, and why scientists get pretty damned upset over things like death threats, you will be in a better position to evaluate the issues both of science and of policy without getting caught up in all the peripheral distractions. That goes for me, you, and any concerned citizen doing due diligence.

    “The people who lose sleep over global warming, are the same people who think that some wingnut in Iran or North Korea with nukes is not something to worry about. The same naive people who think that starving people in poor countries care about global warming, and if we just send them enough money theyll start making solar panels.”

    Utter twaddle. Not true of anybody I know, and totally irrelevant to the implications of the science. Are these snide caricatures really the best you have to offer on the subject? It’s as though you’re straining to push an agenda without having any substantive opinion to offer. If so, perhaps it’s time to start asking some sincere questions and to avail yourself the unique opportunity to interact here with genuine experts in the field. The result could be refreshing after all the radio talk show dreck you’ve apparently been exposed to.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 21 Feb 2012 @ 9:00 PM

  383. [Response: That is all very well, but not really as a general and universally applicable rule. There have certainly been times in history, and places on earth now, where there has been/is a clash between doing what was/is morally right and what was/is legal. We can all think of plenty of examples. However, breaking the law in the service of a higher morality requires a number of conditions before it makes sense - that the law itself is immoral (rather than simply the ends justifying the means), that responsibility is taken, that people are conscious of the potential consequences, and finally, that the end result actually makes things better (Note, this is a brief summary of my thoughts but I am sure there are more cogent defenses of this in many philosophy texts). I reject absolutely "the ends justifies the means" as a practical philosophical principle - that way lies disaster. Overall, I do not judge this instance to have met the criteria, but there may be circumstances that would. - gavin]

    There have been many examples of people taking actions which they believed to be morally right but contrary to the law of the land, others’ opinions of that action depends on what side of the fence they are on. Several centuries ago a member of my family posted a papal bull in opposition to the then monarch because he believed it was the right thing to do. The monarch thought otherwise and he was executed, he knew that was the risk but he was prepared to take. Subsequently he was beatified by the church, which clearly agreed with his actions!

    Comment by Phil. — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:10 PM

  384. Simon

    I appreciated your answer as well as Gavin’s although sadly this is not what my take has been based on my reading of other responses here as well as elsewhere. My take on it is that there seems to be some type of a “justification” for this behavior, and any type of comparison to the pentagon papers seems like a huge stretch. My main issue still is the combination of the anonymous document with the authenticated ones. Even assuming the initial behavior was acceptable, and the allegations are false, I can’t see any reason to combine the documents other than to mislead.

    On a more practical point, I don’t think defense of this behavior is going to play out to well with the public in general, but who knows maybe society really has degenerated into completely polarized groups with a skewed moral compass

    Comment by Andy — 21 Feb 2012 @ 10:28 PM

  385. The attidue seemed to be, yes it was wrong to steal the emails but, the hacker is a hero

    Sorry, but I read many denialist blogs at the time, and your first clause (“the attitude was that it was wrong”) is not supported by the evidence.

    FOIA is regarded as a hero. Any effort to uncover FOIA (such as seizing Bishop Hills’ computer) is treated as a crime against humanity.

    Comment by dhogaza — 21 Feb 2012 @ 11:39 PM

  386. 343 Horlinrot: Dr. Gleick did not shoot himself in the foot. Dr. Gleick provided necessary information. There are cases when a lie is justified. There are cases when a court will ignore a law or ethical precept to get information. This is one of those cases.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:57 AM

  387. Back to the real world. Many people were surprised either:
    a) To see Heartland planning a K-12 “education” campaign.
    b) Or, given that fact, that they were receptive to David Wojick’s proposal

    Actually, Heartland has been trying for years to inject their beliefs into K-12, ineptly enough that Wojick may have seemed a step up.
    See Fakeducation For Years From Heartland” for the history and examples of their attempts.

    Do not miss the 5-minute trailer that starts
    “Like you, I’m not a scientist, but I have worked for one.”
    The 8-page backup has many more examples. (The scientists she worked for predicted 9-11, for instance.)

    Comment by John Mashey — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:03 AM

  388. Its all about the changing climate, not reputations, but there is absolutely no ethics with those who deny AGW’s reality. Best way to describe them is they completely ignore overwhelming evidences even when it shows in their backwards.. I live where its happening most acutely, since 2001 I’ve tracked it with thousands of sun disks measurements (a different most original method of measuring Global warming). I am a nobody, but mr no one can study, the topic is the reputation we should be talking about.

    Since I dont know his works, I am interested in Gleicks contributions though, his piece in the larger effort to understand the climate puzzle. I already know that he is human, and behold climate scientists are people, nor are they a collective like the Borg. The science has become much evolved and very capable of predicting the future. Wish I could say the same about those who dont listen, its warming big time contrarians! Believe it with your own measurements. If you find otherwise let us know. Only then should schoolchildren know about your findings.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:11 AM

  389. I had a discussion with my wife over this issue, and I have altered my thinking somewhat as a result. The morality of such behaviors as Mr. Gleik’s, Mr. Ellsberg’s, or the CRU hacker depends on the social value of the revealed information. In Mr. Ellsberg’s case, the revealed information proved to be useful in the ongoing policy debate about the war in Vietnam. It’s not that the information supported one side or the other: the crucial factor is that it informed the debate and improved its quality.

    Applying this reasoning to the CRU emails, I think that released information did not inform the debate about climate change. It did not reveal skulduggery on the part of the practitioners; it did not reveal anything that would undermine our confidence in the science. Thus, the CRU hacker cannot claim any moral merit to their actions.

    Lastly comes the Heartland Institute material. Does it provide information that informs the overall debate on climate change? Ironically, it shouldn’t; were the American body politic engaged in a mature debate over climate change, then none of the material in the Heartland Institute documents would have any bearing on the debate. However, the material does serve to establish two points that ARE relevant to the current, deformed debate: 1) That the Heartland Institute is pursuing an agenda not primarily concerned with scientific truth; and 2) that some deniers are paid to present their case. The overall impact on the debate is to discredit a major voice in the political debate on climate change.

    However, the significance of these revelations is, in my judgement, too small to provide much in the way of moral justification for Mr. Gleik. The information is embarrassing to the Heartland Institute, but ultimately does not constitute evidence of egregious misbehavior. Yes, they’re trying to disseminate information reflecting their own views — that in itself is not misbehavior. Yes, some bloggers have been revealed to be in their pay. That’s embarrassing but doesn’t constitute misbehavior. Unpaid bloggers can claim higher moral ground but not much more.

    I therefore conclude that Mr. Gleik’s actions were morally questionable. Not as condemnable as the CRU hacker’s, and not as defensible as Mr. Ellsberg’s actions.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:16 AM

  390. Gavin @364,

    However, breaking the law in the service of a higher morality requires a number of conditions before it makes sense – that the law itself is immoral (rather than simply the ends justifying the means), that responsibility is taken, that people are conscious of the potential consequences, and finally, that the end result actually makes things better .

    The first criterion, “that the law itself is immoral”, would cover e.g. such a classical case of civil disobedience as Rosa Parks sitting in the whites-only section of the bus. It would (in my view unreasonably) rule out many others, e.g. Jim Hansen getting arrested at the White House pipeline protest. The laws requiring protesters to obey police orders to disperse, etc. are not in themselves unjust or immoral, but sometimes people break them to express the depth of their convictions about the immorality of something else, and to open up a channel of communication with the public and decision-makers. Not all supporters of civil disobedience would agree with me on this, I think; some take the ‘high ground’ that only direct disobedience of unjust laws is justified, or at least very much preferable to the other kind.

    This is just a side note – I don’t think it has much bearing on Gleick’s actions, and I haven’t seen him try to justify them in these terms.

    Comment by CM — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:41 AM

  391. 372, [edit - please try not to assume motivations]

    Point taken, but he did ask me why I might expect something or not expect it. A succinct and accurate reply might have been “I have no idea”.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 22 Feb 2012 @ 2:57 AM

  392. The Gleick case is interesting because of his duel role as a scientist and a journalist. As a journalist you could argue that the techniques he used (not uncommon in journalism) pass the ‘public interest’ test and are justified as he brings hidden corrupt practices into the public domain. Tick for good practice.

    As a scientist it grates ethically and is completely alien to the subject domain. Debit for poor practice

    Comment by Tom corby — 22 Feb 2012 @ 4:31 AM

  393. @327, Dan H said: “This term [settled science] is misused almost as much as ‘consensus.’”

    On another blog, Dan, you consistently denied that there is a scientific consensus that the human release of CO2 is the main driver of the currently observed warming.

    Is this what you mean by the misuse of the word “consensus”? Or has your opinion changed?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:00 AM

  394. They follow their interests. They are not interested in climate behavior as long as they get lots of money. So they harass the scientists.

    Comment by Hugh — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:09 AM

  395. simon wrote: “As for that budget memo, lets be clear, its a fake”

    Actually, it is not the “budget memo”, but the “2012 Heartland Strategy Memo” that Heartland claims is a fake. The strategy memo is the one that was sent to Gleick anonymously. The budget memo was sent by Heartland to Gleick, and its authenticity has been confirmed.

    And Heartland has presented absolutely no evidence whatsoever to prove that the strategy memo is a fake, except their assertion. And whether the strategy memo is “fake” or not, most of its substantive content has been confirmed as true by the information in the other materials that Heartland sent to Gleick, which everyone involved have acknowledged to be authentic.

    Somehow, it does not surprise me that you are willing to declare what is “clear” when you don’t even know which memo is which, nor does it surprise me that you are prepared to accept Heartland’s assertions without evidence.

    Your “skepticism” is very selective.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:07 AM

  396. Simon @375 and dhogaza @385,

    Like dhogaza I have seen little evidence on pseudo-skeptical blogs that they thought the hack was wrong. The one thing that may be seen as such was the search for anything that may be taken as a clue that it was a whistleblower. That would suggest that some needed that consolation to justify reading the e-mails.

    And then you have people like Judith Curry, who explicitely thanked the “hacker/whistleblower” and now scolds Peter Gleick for doing what he did. Funny to see her lap dogs lapping it up, attacking anyone who points out this hypocrisy (Nick Stokes and Chris Colose in particular). Funny in a sad way.

    Comment by Marco — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:31 AM

  397. Is anybody really that surprised or horrified by what Gleik “uncovered”? The HI are a PR, political blogging and lobbying group and the documents reveal that they raise money from parties with a financial interest to do the PR, blogging and lobbying. To be honest they raise not a lot of money either. Greenpeace and WWF do PR and lobbying too, rather more successfully and raise considerably more cash using ostensibly very similar methods (albeit with a more attractive cause). So where is the controversy?

    It seems to me that Gleik has destroyed his scientific reputation and career in order to reveal something not very surprising that is likely to meet with nothing more than a shrug and a “so what?” from the majority of citizens.

    The real tragedy is that he will very likely lose, if not his job, at least research project opportunities as funding bodies steer clear of somebody with a “record”. I think it is a salutary lesson to anybody with a career to lose to be VERY careful how involved in climate politics they get.

    You need to be reputation-free and have a very thick skin to be a PR, political blogger or lobbyist. Very few of them have another career they are in danger of losing.

    By the way, I must admit to having a sneaking admiration for this guy:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/09/understanding-the-global-warming-debate/

    Although I am a lot more convinced on the destructive effects of AGW than he is, he talks a lot of sense about the two sides of the argument “talking past each other”. It seems to me that many of the prominent “sceptic” scientists (Lindzen, Spencer, Christy etc) are simply doing what Gavin is always saying they should do and that is research to try and disprove the predictions of “catastrophic” global warming in order to get their Nobel Prizes.

    They all agree that the globe has warmed / is warming and that some of that can be attributed to human emissions of CO2. In his blog, Spencer seems to spend most of his time explaining the greenhouse effect to the lunatic fringe!

    These scientists dispute the extent of positive feedback amplification and the role of natural climate variability and clouds in the current models. Theirs is a valid field of scientific enquiry. To call them “deniers” just leads to resentment and angry shouting that obscures the scientific discussion.

    I also think it is a mistake to “peer review” their scientific papers out of the journals. Let them publish and be damned! If they do bad science it will quickly be found out and the debate can move on. By trying to prevent them publishing bad science it simply “martyrs” them and gives ammunition to the loony fringe view that there is a “climate conspiracy”.

    I think you have to distinguish between scientists sceptical of the predictions of catastrophe and the loony fringe of non-scientist bloggers. Just my 2p!

    Comment by Matthew L — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:34 AM

  398. Craig,
    Yes. While there is enough support to claim that there is a “scientific consensus” that the Earth has warmed, mankind has helped to alter the climate, CO2 has risen, and is a greenhouse gas, there is not enough evidence to claim that a “scientific consensus” exists in support of CO2 being the main driver of climate.

    [edit - posting that kind of rebunked nonsense here does not help your case]

    [Response: What does your claim even mean "CO2 being the main driver of climate"? Are we talking about the 20th C? Glacial cycles? the Cenozoic? Or is it just a vague hand wavy kind of thing that sounds sciencey enough to fool someone into thinking it actually had some content? Please up your game. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:47 AM

  399. The situation I think of after looking at Andy Revkin’s partial quoting of the NYT rules for reporters (he ignored exceptions) is the undercover investigation of Food Lion. Wikipedia has this:

    “In the 1990s, Food Lion gained a degree of notoriety when it was the subject of an ABC News investigation. ABC had received a tip about unsanitary practices at Food Lion. Two ABC reporters had posed as Food Lion employees, and witnessed the unsanitary practices at Food Lion. Much of what they had seen was videotaped with cameras hidden in wigs that they were wearing. The footage was then featured in a segment on the news magazine Primetime Live, in which Food Lion employees described unsanitary practices, which included bleaching discolored, expired pork with Clorox and repackaging expired meats with new expiration dates, and the use of nail polish remover to remove the expiration dates from dairy item packages.

    The company responded by suing ABC for fraud, claiming that the ABC employees misrepresented themselves; for trespassing, because the ABC employees came on to Food Lion property without permission; and for breach of loyalty, the ABC employees videotaped non-public areas of the store and revealed internal company information. During the court battles between Food Lion and ABC, over 40 hours of unused footage were released that helped Food Lion’s case. In the unused footage, two undercover producers are seen trying to encourage violations of company policy; however, employees resisted and correctly followed sanitary practices.[18]

    Food Lion was awarded USD$5.5 million by a jury in 1997. The award was later reduced by a judge to $316,000. The verdict was then overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. According to the court, even though ABC was wrong to do what they had done, Food Lion was unable to show that they had been directly injured by ABC’s actions – essentially that it was the actions of Food Lion that caused the damages, not the publication of those actions.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_Lion

    So, it sounds like ABC was primarily dinged for trying to entrap. It is not clear the Gleick was trying to encourage Heartland to commit tax fraud, he was uncovering evidence that they are doing so. It is not clear that his method was the only way to uncover that information, and perhaps a more experienced journalist could have done something different, but it may have been the only way he could think of.

    It concerns me more that this story was not uncovered by more established media much sooner.

    Comment by Chris Dudley — 22 Feb 2012 @ 9:20 AM

  400. Matthew L:

    It seems to me that many of the prominent “sceptic” scientists (Lindzen, Spencer, Christy etc) are simply doing what Gavin is always saying they should do and that is research to try and disprove the predictions of “catastrophic” global warming in order to get their Nobel Prizes.

    The problem is that they – Spencer in particular – have a history of churning out papers in defense of their thesis that are so obviously wrong that it’s hard to imagine they’re offered in good faith.

    At some point, when your pet ideas that you advance in order to influence public opinion are repeatedly shot down, a scientist should be willing to say “yeah, I’m wrong” and move on.

    These people don’t do so.

    But I’m sure they’re smart enough to know that publishing junk isn’t going to win them their Nobel …

    These scientists dispute the extent of positive feedback amplification and the role of natural climate variability and clouds in the current models. Theirs is a valid field of scientific enquiry. To call them “deniers” just leads to resentment and angry shouting that obscures the scientific discussion.

    They’re labelled deniers not because they dispute the extent of positivie feedbacks, but because they put forward really terrible and easily refutable arguments to support their positions. Lindzen’s “Iris effect” was apparently interesting enough and plausible enough to some that observational evidence to support it was sought by the wider scientific community, but observational data refuted it. That was … 15 years???? … or so ago and no one has put forward any argument in favor of there being no net positive feedback that rises to that level of being interesting.

    If they want to shed the label “denier” they’ll have to quit acting like deniers. Spencer, in particular, has a tendency to refuse to accept criticism of even his whackier stuff as being valid.

    I supposed they could be labelled “cranks” rather than “deniers”, but to technical types, including scientists, “crank” is no complement …

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Feb 2012 @ 9:28 AM

  401. Gavin,
    It is not my claim, but originated by Craig in post #393. Maybe that claim is just hand waving, as I am not supporting it.
    The rest was an attempt to show Craig exactly what scientists agree upon. I cannot tell from your response whether you think there is more or less agreement.

    [Response: Huh? Craig's claim was "the human release of CO2 is the main driver of the currently observed warming." - this is indeed well accepted. Your statement was far more vague "CO2 is the main driver of climate". Surely you can see a difference? If you want to argue with people here, just be precise and leave the vague hand waving to venues more suited to it. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Feb 2012 @ 9:41 AM

  402. ROTFLMAO
    Awful picky today, aren’t we? I thought my wife was the only one who acted like that. BTW, that is not as well accepted as you may think. If that were the case, then there would not be such a raging debate about it occurring today [edit - irrelevant distraction]

    [Response: Unless you have been living on Mars, perhaps you hadn't noted that it is precisely the fact that well-accepted scientific findings are portrayed as controversial that demonstrates the political nature of the 'debate' you perceive. Something isn't 'controversial' in science just because a talk radio host or a blog commenter doesn't like it. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Feb 2012 @ 9:57 AM

  403. #401 “an attempt to show Craig exactly what scientists agree upon…” This from a guy who can’t read a graph. Still awaiting a glimpse of intellectual honesty. “Up your game” indeed.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:09 AM

  404. It is interesting to watch this play out. While I don’t approve of Gleik’s tactics, it is fun to witness the outrage among the ersatz-skeptics over the release of the documents even as they ignore Heartland’s plans to lie to children. I notice that many of those who are trumpeting their outrage the loudest are the very ones who tried to fan the flames of the nontroversy following the UEA hack.

    Let’s be clear. Scientists would love–absolutely love–to make this about science. If it were about science, the scientists would kick your pasty, white posteriors to Mars and back. The denialists have no science. None. They have no consistent position or logic. They have only character assassination, lies, deceit and self-delusion.

    Now, frankly, I think it’s a mistake to descend to their level. We should simply keep presenting the science and telling the truth. So, tell ya what, guys. I’ll offer you the same deal Gordon Gecko did in “The Money Never Sleeps.” You quit lying about the scientists and the science, and we’ll quit telling the truth about you. Deal?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  405. Re: #389

    The information is embarrassing to the Heartland Institute, but ultimately does not constitute evidence of egregious misbehavior.

    The authenticity of this document has not been challenged

    So are your suggesting that planning to teach lots of childen

    natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions

    is not egregious? Is that a good introduction to accounting for young people?

    Inline comment by Connolly

    Its everywhere

    Even the electrons are doing it

    Comment by deconvoluter — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:18 AM

  406. Gavin, do you really believe that Gleick did not fabricate that memo? I have followed this site for a long time but if this is really your position I have lost all respect for you and can no longer take you seriously.

    [Response: I don't find the amateur sleuthing on this particularly compelling, nor does the purported motivation make much sense. Gleick's version of events seems far more likely. But I have no actual knowledge here, and so I am not going to definitively state anything with certainty. And, with all due respect, I don't make up my mind on issues based on the what blog commenters do or do not agree with, or how they perceive my seriousness. Sorry to disappoint. - gavin]

    Comment by Joey — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:35 AM

  407. Matthew L.,
    You have a rather odd idea of how science should be done…that “skeptical” scientists should be trying to actively disprove a prediction of the consensus theory rather than present a coherent theory of their own…that they should be able to publish whatever crap they want without peer review. This doesn’t sound like you’ve done much science.

    The problem is that while real climate scientists have been trying to advance understanding of the planet’s climate, so-called skeptics like Spencer and Lindzen have been playing Calvin ball–analyzing short, misleading and poorly controlled data, mischaracterizing the research of others and frankly flat lying to lay audiences.

    And frankly, far more of their crap has been published than is really warranted. If anything peer review has bent over backwards to include their views. This is unfortunate, as crappy research never truly vanishes. In my own field, we are dealing with bad results published years ago that naive researchers still cite to explain some of their results rather than discovering real issues with their testing.

    It truly astounds me how the denialati seem to cast the entirety of climate science as revolving around climate change. The reality is far richer and more productive–and more beautiful. It is a pity that ideological blinders prevent them from seeing the current state of the science and obsessing instead on a 116 year old prediction.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:54 AM

  408. Dan H.,
    Precision matters. A real scientist would understand that. Just sayin’.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:57 AM

  409. > Even the electrons are doing it

    Deconvoluter #405, a better metaphor is the counterfeiter who told the good judge that, since the number of banknotes he had printed was completely insignificant against the millions of banknotes people around the country are spending every single day, he should be acquitted…

    Comment by Martin Vermeer — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:00 AM

  410. “The denialists have no science. None.”
    #404 Ray, as someone sitting on the sidelines watching climate science unfold, I have to call you on this. The science says the globe is warming and we play a role (ie the ‘denialist’ position). To say that the climate situation is dire is to go beyond the body of evidence and into a less supported area of science.

    Comment by Michael W — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:05 AM

  411. #402 Dan H.

    I see you still have that tree problem in the way of the forest.

    You think there is a raging debate because people like you don’t understand what is going on. The consensus is clear that increasing GHG concentration during the industrial age has increased the radiative forcing.

    Just because you’ve got a big plastic tree that was placed in front of your face, or that you have parked your self behind so you can’t get a better view, does not change science… It only insures that you will remain naive and/or ignorant of the actual science and the relative confidence levels that have been and are being established quantitatively.

    As they say, there are none so blind as those that choose not to see.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:10 AM

  412. I’m under the assumption that the CRU hack consisted of snippets taken out of context. This morning I was told that I was wrong and that the entire emails were released and that I was repeating an urban legend. Were the entire emails put forward at the time or did they wait until the denier blogs could get things stirred up making it more difficult to get the real truth out? I realize it makes little difference but I used that point referencing a post here at RC on Gleick and how he didn’t present snippets out of context but rather the whole enchilada.

    Comment by Dale — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  413. deconvoluter @405

    The authenticity of all the HIgate documents remains in doubt, and thus challenged. As of just now, the HIgate ‘stolen’ documents are still unauthenticated by H.I. They admit documents such as these were e-mailed but they cannot say if they are now presented in an unaltered state. H.I. are still (presumably) trying to find personnel available with enough of those rare skills in literacy to check the ‘stolen’ documents match the ones they were daft enough to send off to an unknown e-mail address.

    The alternative version is that the ‘stolen’ documents (and likely also the ‘fake’ document) contain many embarrassing truths which, if the waters are kept muddied, can remain apparently (and thus arguably) false.

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:35 AM

  414. Michael W.
    The science says that the planet warms somewhere between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2, with a favored value of 3 degrees per doubling. Period. The science tells us that increased warming will increase drought significantly and that more of the precipitation that does fall will do so in impulsive events. It says that the oceans will acidify, reducing breeding areas for important fish stocks. These predictions are already confirmed in the trends we see.

    That is where climate science ends. That we are in deep kimchee emerges from the fact that by 2050 we will have to support ~10 billion people–roughly 50% again as many people as we currently have–in an environment that is significantly degraded in terms of its capacity to meet those needs. That we will have to do so without cheap fossil fuels and petrochemical insecticides and fertilizers adds to the concern. This is simple extrapolation of climatic trends and examination of their implications for demographics. It is not climate science.

    To look at these trends and conclude that “the market will provide” or “there’s nothing to worry about” is not science at all. It is self-delusion. I hope that clears things up.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  415. 408, “a less supported area of science…” You’ve been called on this and received authoritative links flatly contradicting this and your earlier statements. Try moving towards greater understanding.

    And, if I may be so bold, Ray and others are saying that a huge problem with the “climate skeptics” is that they have offered no coherent alternative explanation for the warming we are seeing. To me, this is reason enough to doubt not only their incessant nitpicking, but their sanguinity regarding future developments.

    To see real intellectual honesty in operation, read the recent posts and commentary on methane. Quite the contrast to the merchants of doubt of whom Dan H. and others seem enamored.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:46 AM

  416. #409 Michael W

    The word ‘dire’ is ambiguous unfortunately.

    Instead of focusing on whether or not the situation will be dire, think about it this way. The hydrological system is being influenced by the current warming. That will change regional hydrological as well as thermal patterns which will affect crop productivity. Crop yield losses will result in not only inflation, but increasing food scarcity.

    The question then becomes, how bad does it have to get before you consider it dire?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:51 AM

  417. Here is a quote from Megan McArdle of the Atlantic: After you have convinced people that you fervently believe your cause to be more important than telling the truth, you’ve lost the power to convince them of anything else.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 22 Feb 2012 @ 11:58 AM

  418. #411 Dale

    The e-mails could not possibly represent the science because there were merely conversations between scientists that actually understood the contexts of what was being discussed.

    They were then used out of context by those promoting the idea that the scientists are making up stuff or hiding things.

    So yes, they were taken out of context. Unfortunately some people don’t understand how important that context is.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  419. John,
    Maybe it is because you do not understand the extent of the consensus that you cannot see past your own plastic tree. No one is contending that increasing GHG concentrations have not increased the RF. The raging debate, which you deny is occurring, is over the feedback processes.
    All name calling aside, you would be blind if you cannot see this occurring. Maybe this will help you:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenmeyer/2012/02/09/understanding-the-global-warming-debate/

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:11 PM

  420. One man’s “dire” is another man’s profit. One billion peoples’ “dire” is someone’s very large profit.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  421. Dale:

    Were the entire emails put forward at the time

    Well, there was a second release recently of several thousand additional e-mails. This was like a year or so (or longer?) after the initial release.

    Therefore the answer to your question is obvious: no, the entire set of e-mails was not put forward at the time. QED.

    If I were you, I’d ask your person claiming that it’s an urban legend “how is it possible, then, that there was an additional release of thousands of e-mails, with hints that more may follow?”.

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:28 PM

  422. Dan H wrote: “The rest was an attempt to show Craig exactly what scientists agree upon.”

    No, the rest was just another one of your attempts to foist dishonest garbage on readers who don’t know any better.

    If I were paying you to troll this site with plausible-sounding denialist propaganda, I would have fired you for incompetence already.

    [Response: Please tone it down. - gavin]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  423. Ray,
    Precision is important in the right context. Taking a phrase from a larger comment is akin to misrepresenting Gavin’s comment as “every word I say is a lie.” in Post #299.

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  424. Dale, about CRU hack, where did you get that bundle of ideas?

    I’m not current on it, last I recall nobody had been able to say for sure exactly how much data or from where had been stolen; the first release sent out had a cover text that claimed they’d sent out a “random” sample, which had to be bogus (a random sample would have a lot more randomness than what was released).

    A second release of other stuff happened before a second climate conference recently; there’s likely more out there. But that’s an impression from memory. Don’t trust such.

    I’d suggest you start reading here, and check each of the claims and assumptions and stories against what’s on this page:

    http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/

    Don’t trust some guy on a blog to read and summarize for you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:33 PM

  425. Michael W wrote: “To say that the climate situation is dire is to go beyond the body of evidence and into a less supported area of science.”

    No, to say that the climate situation is dire is to simply look around you at what is happening all over the world right now.

    It’s getting to the point where deniers can’t simply make obscure pseudo-scientific claims about the radiative properties of CO2 or about sunspots or about cosmic rays. They have to cover their eyes and ears and ignore the blatantly obvious large-scale effects, and the massive harm that anthropogenic global warming and climate change are already causing.

    It’s one thing to “argue” that no causal link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer has been “proven”. It’s quite another thing to make that argument while ignoring the fact that you are already coughing up blood.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:38 PM

  426. “To see real intellectual honesty in operation, read the recent posts and commentary on methane. Quite the contrast to the merchants of doubt of whom Dan H. and others seem enamored.”

    Thanks for that, Walter. That is why I am dismayed that so many are still using up so much of their precious time and thread space on feeding such trolls rather than grappling with the actual ranges of scientific dispute and real, pressing issues.

    Can we leave it to the rest of the blogosphere to (faux-)debate about whether GW is actually going on, and reserve at least this space for the actual range of scientific uncertainty that is being seriously discussed in the major journals and universities…?

    I personally would like to see more discussion on the following questions:

    What are the long and short term risks from sea bed methane? (Can we get a guest post from Shakhova or Semiletov, for example?)

    What level of temperature range are we already committed to (the MIT study a couple years ago said 3C, publication of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society a bit over a year ago was talking about 4C, but admitted that they were still leaving out carbon cycle feedbacks–so where are we?)

    What are the likely effects (atmospheric and on ocean currents) of an Arctic Ocean that is now mostly ice free and may soon be nearly or completely ice free for at least part of the year? Are we already seeing them?

    What is the currents state of our knowledge of changes in ocean currents?

    How effective could the new effort to limit non-CO2 GHG’s be?

    Are we getting better at attributing specific extreme weather events to GW?
    .
    .
    .
    There are so many pressing issues to discuss amongst well informed and sincere scholars and concerned citizens, activists and policymakers, I don’t see how we can afford to spend time swatting at obviously insincere artists at distraction.

    (reCAPTCHA: “cried luxpart”)

    Comment by wili — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  427. Ray, Walter, if I simply take the position that ‘the globe is warming and we play a role’, I will be labeled a ‘denier’ unless I add ‘and the situation is dire’. If my position is more completely supported by the science, why the statement “The denialists have no science. None.”?

    This is almost a repeat of my earlier post, I don’t know how to make it clearer. Notice the comments of “Yes, it is dire. Look here.”, misses the point of whether I have any science or not.

    Comment by Michael W — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  428. #416 John, thanks for the question, I think it points us in an interesting direction. But if we want to know what our future looks like, we have to ask the question “Is a warmer planet with more CO2 preferable?”, a list of negatives simply doesn’t suffice. You have to weigh the negatives and the positives. I get the impression that this exercise is extremely painful for you.

    Question to the moderator: I did a scan of RC and haven’t come up with a “global warming positives vs negative analysis”. Could you point me in the right direction?

    Comment by Michael W — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:50 PM

  429. In #410 Mike says

    “The denialists have no science. None.”
    #404 Ray, as someone sitting on the sidelines watching climate science unfold, I have to call you on this. The science says the globe is warming and we play a role (ie the ‘denialist’ position). To say that the climate situation is dire is to go beyond the body of evidence and into a less supported area of science.

    Logical failure here Michael.

    If you want to ‘call’ Ray on his statement “The denialists have no science. None.” the appropriate thing to do is provide some real science supporting the ‘denialists’

    You tacitly agree that some of the science is right (globe warming, we play a role), then attribute it to be the ‘denialist’ position, then change the subject to a strawman that you can conveniently knock down (climate situation is dire).

    Two points; ‘denialists’ have hardly provided the science that the globe is warming and that humans play some role in that. Rather, they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming, spreading FUD about the science, the process, and the scientists themselves. Indeed, there are many denialist sites around that dispute both of your points.

    Second, introducing the strawman of a dire future, you have a logical failure. Doubting what some people think about the future is hardly presenting science from the ‘denialist side’.

    What’s been pointed out multiple times is that there is no alternative theory being proposed by skeptics that supports all the data we’ve collected over the last few decades and still follows known laws of physics. Ray may have abbreviated that statement slightly, but it doesn’t change the complete lack of alternative theories.

    Comment by David Miller — 22 Feb 2012 @ 12:51 PM

  430. #412, 419, 421–

    Depends what you mean. Entire email threads were released, so there was quite a bit context available:

    The material comprised more than 1,000 emails, 2,000 documents, as well as commented source code, pertaining to climate change research covering a period from 1996 until 2009.

    (Wikipedia)

    If I recall correctly, there was also from pretty early on at least one site indexing the material. And there was more of it by far than in the current Heartland affair.

    So, in this respect, I would (for once!) agree with the fake skeptics, that there is rough symmetry between the two cases–the material is substantially complete in itself, though not necessarily representative of everything that might have been written. To summarize, I think dhogaza answered a different question than you asked. Your question was, “Were entire emails put forth?” The answer is “yes.” However, as dhogaza wrote, the entire *set* was not put forth.

    Of course, although the context was often there in the primary release if you read the whole email or thread, the use of excerpts in the blogosphere was quite relentless: in that realm, context was stripped away relentlessly. (Eg., “Hide the decline!”)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:18 PM

  431. @ 412 Dale

    The last zip release (2011) contained all of the emails, but the vast majority are locked within the archive behind a password known only to FOIA2011, IIRC.

    Comment by J Bowers — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:18 PM

  432. #401, #402 Dan H.

    When it comes to relevant scientific information, yeah, scientists can be quite picky.

    What is interesting is that you apparently have a problem with scientists being accurate in statements about science; whereas you have no problem at all being ridiculously ambiguous and extremely incorrect in your beliefs and assumptions.

    You see, they rely on physics and evidence and stuff like that. You rely on ‘stuff’ in general.

    I know, I know, you don’t see the difference.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:39 PM

  433. Matthew L, #397, admits to a sneaking admiration for Warren Meyer, at the linked commentary on Forbes.

    Yes, Meyer uses a reasonable tone, and for all I know, might be persuadable by additional evidence. But for a guy writing an extended essay published in a prominent venue on a well-known public issue, he’s pretty lame. For example, he takes seriously the argument that we are halfway to doubling CO2, so going by the supposed best estimates, we should be halfway to +3 deg C, and we’re not, only about a quarter of the way. Umm, please look up how heat gets stored in the ocean, and get back to us.

    Also, in his very reasonable tone, he sets up a nice debate between GW proponents (oy vey, I hate GW, I’m an *opponent* of it) and skeptics, and tries to weigh the arguments for that ol’ CAGW theory. It would be interesting to track the use of “Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warning”, but I’m pretty confident you would find that it is used mostly by the denier end of the spectrum. It’s a nice diversionary tactic, because it lets you spend a lot of time arguing over whether we are in a crisis or not, or just what would be catastrophic and just when do you expect your favorite catastrophe. That leaves no time for acknowledging where we are and deciding what we might do about it.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 22 Feb 2012 @ 1:48 PM

  434. Ray Ladbury:
    OK, I take your points. You know more about these guys than I do. In the end the progress of temperatures, Arctic ice cover and sea levels will show how good the models are. This is even more likely because I think there is not the political will to get off the “business as usual” CO2 emissions track, particularly in places like India and China – so the result of this vast global experiment we are engaged in will be obvious to all in a decade or three.

    Just a couple of points:
    “that “skeptical” scientists should be trying to actively disprove a prediction of the consensus theory rather than present a coherent theory of their own…”

    I have always thought it a perfectly valid (if limited) scientific aim to prove that somebody else’s theory as either wrong or impossible. You don’t necessarily have to have a fully blown theory of your own to replace it.

    In reply to Michael W:
    “The science says that the planet warms somewhere between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2, with a favored value of 3 degrees per doubling. Period.”
    The tone of this suggests the science is more “settled” than it is Ray. There are still plenty of uncertainties in the climate models. A more balanced statement would be that “our best prediction of temperatures for a doubling of CO2, given the current state of the models and climate data available to us, suggests between 2 and 4.5C with a favoured value of 3.” It has not always been at this level. Previous models have predicted a wider range of results and there is nothing to say that more refined models in the future will not give us different figures.

    My take on the “cranks”, as you term them, is that they are mainly just stating a contrary position to the real climate scientists because that is what they hope will happen. They use bland statements that the climate sensitivity is lower than current estimates with no evidence to back those assertions. If they do turn out to be correct, and temperatures fall rather than rise, it will have nothing to do with science, just pure luck.

    Prediction is very difficult, particularly of the future!

    Comment by Matthew L — 22 Feb 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  435. #428 Michael W

    There are a few positives, but the bulk of the evidence indicates negative. You simply have to keep researching. Use Google scholar.

    Look up

    - crop yield, thermal limits, climate change
    - fires, trends, climate change
    - soil moisture content
    - ocean acidification

    You see, CO2 is a loved molecule of plants, but warmer temperatures cause fires and fires are the mortal enemy of plants.

    As to productivity, evidence indicates that plants do grow more with increased CO2, but anything that doesn’t fix nitrogen drops proteins. So if we lose the proteins, does it matter that the plat got bigger?

    Some areas will benefit form warmer temperatures, but don’t forget, it’s called global warming for a reason and the deeper you dig, the more you will understand what dire means.

    Also check out any interim reports coming our of IPCC WGII

    http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 22 Feb 2012 @ 2:29 PM

  436. Michael W., Science gives us facts. Looking at the implications of those facts and trying to avoid worst-case outcomes–that is the realm of other disciplines…e.g. risk analysis, engineering, etc.

    I know of no experts in these disciplines who are aware of the current precarious state of global food production and distribution and who do not look upon the changes likely to occur in the next 50-100 years with extreme trepidation. You ask for consideration of “benefits”.

    Well, we may be able to access fossil fuels currently under polar ice. That may ameliorate immediate food shortages in some areas by allowing control of pests and weeds using petrochemical insecticides and herbicides as well as fertilizaers, but at a cost of signficant additional environmental degradation.

    We may be able to bring into cultivation some areas of Siberia and Canada. Unfortunately, we will lose much of the globe’s breadbasket for production of winter wheat, rice, etc. The net effect is negative.

    Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the net effects are going to be negative. That is the conclusion of the experts. Simply saying, “Oh, it will be OK!” isn’t science. It is self delusion.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 22 Feb 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  437. #427-Ray, Walter, if I simply take the position that ‘the globe is warming and we play a role’, I will be labeled a ‘denier’ unless I add ‘and the situation is dire’.

    No, you would usually be termed a “lukewarmer” in such a case.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:08 PM

  438. Immoral? Indefensible? Completely irresponsible? “The public discussion on this issue will be much the poorer for this”

    Stier Kot.

    The public discussion is already much the poorer because Science has until now let Politics control the debate, break the rules, and bring PR guns to a policy knife fight.

    “Treason is any attempt to ….. impair the well-being of a state to which one owes allegiance.” dictionary.reference.com

    Global Climate Change National Security Implications Edited by Dr. Carolyn Pumphrey. http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=862

    “Chapter 1 addresses the growing historical awareness of the threat and outlines the science of climate-change. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on how climate change might affect human societies and the degree to which it might cause or exacerbate violence and conflict. Particular attention is paid to the implications for the security of the United States. Chapters 4 and 5 consider a variety of potential solutions, ranging from international diplomacy to the development of efficient technologies. Chapters 6 and 7 focus on the role of the U.S. Armed Forces. What can they do and what should they do to mitigate climate change or prepare to meet the threat? Chapter 8 summarizes and concludes. Contributors to this volume agree that climate change is a threat deserving of serious attention.” (emphases mine – BD)

    “For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

    (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity[scientists, climatologists, environmentalists] on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious,[e.g., they're ag'in the godless sosh ialists econazi worldwide liberal Obamuslim conspiracy] gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds…”

    The Department of Justice isn’t going to investigate the misdeeds of Koch et al funded web of professional liars, or catch the climategate hacker – google Monica Goodling to see why.
    It was likely a Bush political hack who burrowed into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), formerly the Minerals Management Service (MMS), whose job was to oversee safety in offshore drilling, but who instead overlooked the shortcuts taken on the Deepwater Horizon.
    It was likely another Bush crony in BOEMRE who anonymously started the witch hunt against Dr. Monnet over the polar bear drowning paper.

    When professional liars that have bought or burrowed their way into government positions are subverting justice for the benefit of the one percenters, actions like Gleick’s are necessary.

    If you think what I say is overheated rhetoric that is getting in the way of honest debate, I have a suggestion-
    Go talk to the surviving relatives of the 30,000 who died because of the European heat wave, and the 15,000 Russian dead from their heat wave, and the survivors of the floods in Thailand, Pakistan, Australia, the United States, Brazil, and Columbia. Along the way, you might ask about the impacts of 900+ tornadoes in the US April-May 2011, and whether record drought and wildfires in Texas and Mexico(Hadley cell expansion doesn’t stop at the border), plus record floods in the Mississippi valley average out to a good time to be in agriculture; it might be educational to see if the Australian farmer’s perspective on drought plus flooding is any different. While you’re in Europe, stop in at Munich Reinsurance – they have to put their money where their mouth is – and get their perspective. Don’t forget to visit Bangladesh – but be sure you have your Wellies on.

    When you’re finished educating yourself, then we can debate whether Heartland, Competitive Enterprise, and the Marshall institutes, and their various cronies and fossil fuel/big business sugar daddies are honestly expressing a difference of opinion on policy choices(how much profit they internalize, and how much damage they externalize), or LYING about the FACTS and hoping you won’t notice they already have blood on their hands.

    “Judith Curry, for example, is on record of saying “The Uncertainty Monster Rests Its Case (thank you hacker/whistleblower)”
    ““Those who applaud his [Gleick's] [climategate hacker's] actions can only do so if ethics no longer matter.” Thank you for confirming what we ‘alarmists’ already knew.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  439. 427, Michael W. I didn’t label you a denier. And I certainly don’t want to discourage you from comparing the potential positives and negatives that our current CO2 trajectory will likely yield. On the negative side, I suggest you peruse “6 Degrees” by Mark Lynas and “Eaarth” by Bill McKibben. For the positives, uh…maybe someone else on the site here can suggest something.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:09 PM

  440. Michael W wrote: “if I simply take the position that ‘the globe is warming and we play a role’, I will be labeled a ‘denier’ unless I add ‘and the situation is dire’. If my position is more completely supported by the science, why the statement ‘The denialists have no science. None’.”

    Because your position is not, in fact, more completely supported by the science.

    To claim that the current situation with ongoing anthropogenic warming and climate change is not “dire” is to ignore the overwhelming scientific evidence from events occurring all over the world — let alone the overwhelming scientific evidence that far worse consequences are in store.

    To ignore that evidence is to deny that evidence. That’s why the term “denier” is entirely appropriate.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:14 PM

  441. #428–I’d start with the Working Group II Summary for Policy-makers:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-spm.pdf

    It’s a good, and succinct, discussion about benefits and costs. You will probably want to follow up by tracing the SPM references (for points of particular interest) to their fuller discussion in the Synthesis Report, which is easy enough to Google up.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:22 PM

  442. > raging debate is over the climate feedback

    You’re listening to AM radio as you type, eh?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=climate+feedback

    No raging, and no debate–real work going on.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  443. #419–”No one is contending that increasing GHG concentrations have not increased the RF.”

    Oddly, a denialist whom it seems to be my recurring cross, or pleasure, to attempt to school, said pretty much that, just today.

    Then he said (as nearly as I can quote it) “. . . it’s clearly evident that global warming doesn’t exist, only localized warmings.”

    So, yeah, there are still those who haven’t got the memo (or haven’t internalized its contents) that the new meme is “but it won’t be bad.”

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:39 PM

  444. Michael W @427 & @428
    You say @184 your reason for ‘coming here’ is “what you call ‘fun and games.’” Given you also say @175 – “like minded commentors are a waste of time IMO,” are we then to treat you as a trouble-making contrarian nonsense-pedlar?

    Yes you are entirely correct @427. To state “the globe is warming and we play a role” will gain you the label “dim-witted denier.” This is because the ‘warming’ is significant and ‘our role’ in causing it is (over the last 50 years) that of the only player on the field.
    You will also find that the consequences of ‘significant warming’ resulting from ‘anthopogenic causes’ is “dire” unless those causes are addressed. (The level of’direness’ has yet to be determined accurately.)
    The science supports these views. Denialsist and contrarians disagree but they spout unscietific nonsense. They also waffle on about the” benefits” of AGW that you mention @428. These benefits remain a bit of mystery. Michael W. – if you manage to find some ‘benefits’, do come and tell us, coz we all enjoy a good laugh. (My personal favourate ‘benefit’ is the end to all those international disputes caused by low lying islands having multiple sovereignty claims.)

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Feb 2012 @ 3:43 PM

  445. Kevin,
    That comment was meant to correspond to the dialogue here, not the wider community. Most scientists would agree with that. If you are waiting for every man, woman, and child to agree, it will be a very long wait. Is your opponent a scientist? If so, ask him why he feels that nothing has changed.

    Comment by Dan H. — 22 Feb 2012 @ 4:51 PM

  446. “Along the way, you might ask about the impacts of 900+ tornadoes in the US April-May 2011. . .”

    The tree that hit our house wasn’t felled by a tornado, but rather an anomalously strong straight-line wind associated with one of the many thunderstorms producing some of those tornadoes. It was April 5, 2011.

    The impact? Serious disruption to our lives, and $100K in repair costs. The cascading inconveniences have not yet ended, and probably won’t in the foreseeable future, though they are much diminished, thankfully.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 22 Feb 2012 @ 5:08 PM

  447. #444 MARodger, I think we can agree that generally speaking, predicting the future is a sticky business. Often the best and brightest fall on their faces. Now generally speaking (eg not just climate related) if you tell me you have a handle on our dire future, but can only argue the negatives, I’m not going to put much faith in your predictions. Anybody can list negatives. Until you can argue the positives with as much gusto, you’re just an advocate for an ideology, and not a skillful future predictor.

    I would like an objective opinion on Working Group II Summary for Policy-makers. It looks so one-sided. Take the following for example (from WG II):

    “decreasing fisheries resources in large lakes due to rising water temperatures, which may be exacerbated by continued overfishing”

    But if the fish population is managed properly (like our beloved DNR does in Minnesota) this point is moot! You could amend it by saying “but proper management of resources could result in healthier fish populations than currently exist” But you wouldn’t add that statement because it doesn’t make sense in a document that’s meant to be a warning.

    Comment by Michael W — 22 Feb 2012 @ 5:19 PM

  448. The raging debate, which you deny is occurring, is over the feedback processes.

    I for one would be interested in actual scientific white paper links to the ‘raging debate’ over feedback processes other than an idiotic Forbes article.

    I’d just be interested in what you think is raging. Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 22 Feb 2012 @ 5:42 PM

  449. Michael W. “Until you can argue the positives…” Sure, argue the positives of smoking. Argue the positives for lead in gasoline. Argue the positives of jumping off a 100-storey building.

    Argue the positives for a demonstrably negative course of action and you look like, well, a nitwit. I’m hearing the lovely Monty Python ditty, “Always look on the bright side of life.” They’re up on crosses, of course.

    Sorry, but many situations really are one-sided. To posit a false balance is to be, as you put it, an advocate for an ideology. What’s yours?

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 22 Feb 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  450. Michael W, since when does Minnesota border salt water that it shares with the rest of the world?

    You need to give your keyboard a rest and read up on how well the ocean fisheries have been managed to date.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 22 Feb 2012 @ 6:03 PM

  451. Meyer, discussed above, is a denier as explained here.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 22 Feb 2012 @ 6:07 PM

  452. #447 “But if the fish population is managed properly (like our beloved DNR does in Minnesota) this point is moot!”

    “Decreasing fisheries resources in large lakes due to rising water temperatures” means there’s less to manage. Proper management of resources is a completely different issue.

    Comment by Cugel — 22 Feb 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  453. Michael W wrote: “Anybody can list negatives.”

    That’s true. For example, here is a discussion of some “negatives” by meteorologist Jeff Masters (emphasis added):

    The tally of billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. during the crazy weather year of 2011 has grown to fourteen, and may reach fifteen, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center announced last week. The fourteen billion-dollar weather disasters in 2011 easily surpass the previous record of nine such disasters, set in 2008. Since 1980, the U.S. has averaged 3.5 billion-dollar weather disasters per year … The total costs of these fourteen disasters is $55 billion …”

    And more:

    “Stronger hurricanes, bigger floods, more intense heat waves, and sea level rise have been getting many of the headlines with regards to potential climate change impacts, but drought should be our main concern. Drought is capable of crashing a civilization. To illustrate, drought has been implicated in the demise of the Mayan civilization in Mexico, the Anasazis of the Southwest U.S., and the Akkadians of Syria in 2200 B.C. The Russian heat wave and drought of 2010 led to a spike in global food prices that helped cause unrest in Africa and the Middle East that led to the overthrow of several governments. It’s likely that global-warming intensified droughts will cause far more serious impacts in the coming decades, and drought is capable of crashing our global civilization in a worst-case scenario, particularly if we do nothing to slow down emissions of carbon dioxide … we are just now experiencing the full effect of CO2 emitted by the late 1980s; since CO2 has been increasing by 1 – 3% per year since then, there is a lot more climate change ‘in the pipeline’ we cannot avoid.”

    So, yes — there are plenty of “negatives” that “anybody can list”, including tens of billions of dollars in damages from extreme weather in a single year in the USA alone, and prolonged intense droughts that could “crash our global civilization”.

    Michael W wrote: “Until you can argue the positives with as much gusto …”

    Well, Michael, since you are the one who keeps hand-waving about these supposed “positives”, why don’t YOU tell us exactly what they are — with gusto?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 6:30 PM

  454. 414,Ray Ladbury: The science says that the planet warms somewhere between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2, with a favored value of 3 degrees per doubling. Period.

    Some other science is presented at Isaac Held’s blog:
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/10/26/19-radiative-convective-equilibrium/

    From that, you can not tell how an increase in CO2 concentration will alter the transfer of heat from the surface and lower troposphere to the upper troposphere. It could increase that rate of transport, with a consequent decrease in surface and lower troposphere mean temperature, and an increase in upper troposphere mean temperature or cloud cover. What you called “the” science was a selection.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 22 Feb 2012 @ 6:50 PM

  455. 433 et seq.

    It takes more than commitment to the Precautionary Principle to quantitatively inform prudent action.

    Meyers acting as a PR factotum does not reduce our need to know , and narrow the range of uncertainty, of such priors as the climate sensitivity .

    Comment by Russell — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:13 PM

  456. Septic Matthew’s linked blog post does not suggest that the modeling results presented there (much of which is historical) challenge the consensus view that sensitivity lies between 2 and 4.5 degrees per doubling of CO2.

    From that, you can not tell how an increase in CO2 concentration will alter the transfer of heat from the surface and lower troposphere to the upper troposphere.

    You’re right! He said that he’d take that up in a later blog post.

    Your point?

    What’s the deal here, someone floating a link to that blog post on the denialist sites and you’ve picked it up without studying it closely?

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:17 PM

  457. Michael W @447
    I thought Dan H was a light-weight but perhaps I was being unkind on the poor chap.

    Predicting the future is what intelligence is all about. Then perhaps that is something you fail to grasp. When discussing climate, why you should characterise such predictions as “sticky” I know not. There are those who conflate our abilities to predict things like our economic futures with our abilities to predict climatic futures. This is not just an error. It is a singularly bad error. Guess what, Michael W.? I espy such an error being made by you!
    Regarding AGW, perhaps you can explain why you insist it is up to others to prove they “can argue the positives with as much gusto ” as the negatives, while you feel not the slightest need to do so? Forget WGII. You give us your positives. Demonstrate that they are not a laughable joke. (Perhaps I was not clear enough for you @444. Then, I did not appreciate how obtuse the target audience was!!!)
    All I see from you is an empty insistance on providing you with answers within your self-defined agenda. You do not engage with the propositions of others. You do not even engage wth the porpositions you laid down yourself but hours before. Michael W – this is definately not a good start you have made here.

    Comment by MARodger — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:18 PM

  458. 454 Septic Matthew,

    //From that, you can not tell how an increase in CO2 concentration will alter the transfer of heat from the surface and lower troposphere to the upper troposphere. It could increase that rate of transport, with a consequent decrease in surface and lower troposphere mean temperature, and an increase in upper troposphere mean temperature or cloud cover. What you called “the” science was a selection.//

    Sorry, but no. The concept of radiative-convective equilibrium and how that relates to CO2 warming has been conceptually understood since at least the 1960′s with Manabe and Wetherald. The point of Isaac Held’s post, among other things, is to understand that to first order the tropospheric temperature profile lies very close to a particular family of curves (so that if you know the temperature at one point you can specify the temperature at any point over the troposphere). This is all accounted for in any credible estimate of climate sensitivity, including those found in the AR4.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:21 PM

  459. > 454 Septic Matthew

    And you could have asked Isaac Held if you’d understood him correctly, rather than quoting his words without understanding and misstating the sense of it.

    C’mon. You’re an academic yourself, aren’t you? You know better.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:44 PM

  460. Michael W wrote: “predicting the future is a sticky business”

    Yes, it is much easier to predict the past.

    For example, the 30,000 people who died in the unprecedented 2003 European heat wave, or the tens of thousands more who died in the unprecedented 2010 Russian heat wave, or the $55 Billion in damages caused by an unprecedented 14 billion-dollar-and-up extreme weather events in the USA, or the billions of dollars (and counting) lost due to the ongoing mega-drought in Texas, or the 4.3 trillion tons of ice mass that melted away from Greenland, Antarctica and Earth’s glaciers and ice caps between 2003 and 2010.

    Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for you to venture a prediction about the “positive” effects of AGW that you keep vaguely referring to.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 7:54 PM

  461. Skeptic Matthew, your selection (no quotes) wasn’t a very good one. Why not link to the post by Isaac Held that directly deals with cumulative CO2 emissions and its effect on surface temperature?
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2012/02/13/23-cumulative-emissions/

    The discussion is about how surface temperatures might react to different societal behaviors with respect to CO2 emissions, however he point out, “The ease of communicating this result is also worth emphasizing. Only one number is needed — ‘A’ — the warming per unit cumulative emissions. Typical central estimates for ‘A’ in the papers listed above are in the range 1.5-2 degrees C per trillion tons of carbon emitted.”

    Now before you go jumping at the simple retort that 1.5-2 is smaller than 2-4.5, make sure you look at the units. Isaac Held is using “per trillion tons of CO2″ and Ray Ladbury is using “per doubling of CO2″.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:08 PM

  462. Skeptic Matthew, your selection (no quotes) wasn’t a very good one. Why not link to the post by Isaac Held that directly deals with cumulative CO2 emissions and its effect on surface temperature?
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2012/02/13/23-cumulative-emissions/

    The discussion is about how surface temperatures might react to different societal behaviors with respect to CO2 emissions, however he point out, “The ease of communicating this result is also worth emphasizing. Only one number is needed — ‘A’ — the warming per unit cumulative emissions. Typical central estimates for ‘A’ in the papers listed above are in the range 1.5-2 degrees C per trillion tons of carbon emitted.”

    Now before you go jumping at the simple retort that 1.5-2 is smaller than 2-4.5, make sure you look at the units. Isaac Held is using “per trillion tons of CO2″ and Ray Ladbury is using “per doubling of CO2″.

    DOH: Duplicate comment because of recaptcha failure. Not sure if the mods can manually approve this post, thanks.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:11 PM

  463. Chris Colose:

    Sorry, but no. The concept of radiative-convective equilibrium and how that relates to CO2 warming has been conceptually understood since at least the 1960′s with Manabe and Wetherald.

    When Septic Matthew said “from that” I was assuming he meant the blog post, which laid the background for the question “how does an increase in CO2 concentration alter the transfer of heat from the surface and lower troposphere to the upper troposphere?” without answering it.

    But he laid a sound foundation (as you point out) for a further post, as he promised would be forthcoming. He made clear it was the first post of two (though I don’t see the second, too bad, would be good).

    Maybe I was being too kind to SM, though. Maybe by “that” he meant the MW paper and other work referenced in the post, which would make him even more wrong.

    Just how wrong were you, SM?

    SM, which was it?

    Comment by dhogaza — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:13 PM

  464. Skeptic Matthew, here is Isaac Held on CO2 using the same “per doubling” as Ray Ladbury was using.
    http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/03/05/2-linearity-of-the-forced-response/

    “if we double the CO2 in the CM2.1 model and integrate long enough so that it approaches its new equilibrium, we find that the global mean surface warming is close to 3.4 K.”

    So Skeptic Matthew, thank you for pointing out another scientist in agreement with the consensus. He actually bolds the statement I quoted in his post.

    Mods, I think I double posted my previous comment so please feel free to not approve/delete the second one as the first is now approved

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 22 Feb 2012 @ 8:46 PM

  465. @circa 404, Ray Ladbury: Hope you don’t mind, I stole your comment for DotEarth latest, unattributed in quotes. Priceless:

    You quit lying about the scientists and the science, and we’ll quit telling the truth about you. Deal?

    It should show up tomorrow.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 22 Feb 2012 @ 9:28 PM

  466. 460: 30,000 people who died in the unprecedented 2003 European heat wave

    Just for the record, 30,000 people as a fraction (0.006%) of the number of the people living in the EU (500 million) pales to the 2 million people mostly children (0.029% with respect to the global population, 7 billion) who die due to lack of access to clean water. That is five times more each year than one heat wave eight years ago. Actually, I did have discussions along these lines with Peter Gleick, because I never understood, why he was so obsessed with climate change, when water related problems seemed to be much more imminent. I certainly would side with Bjorn Lomborg, who argued that the resources invested in combating climate change would have been much better spent on providing clean water and proper sanitation to the poor.

    When I grew up, we used to worry about hunger, illiteracy and population growth (perhaps because I grew up in a communist country, which needed justification to promote the big proletariat revolution). The last two or three decades almost eradicaded these concerns, instead we entered into an a world view, where humans are regarded as cancer on this planet threatening “mother nature”.

    [Response: providing everyone with clean water would cost ~50bn and use entirely existing technology. Given that governments spend over $1 trillion on the Iraq war, or similar amounts on bailouts for banks, it is clear that the small amount of money spent on climate change mitigation is not the impediment. Your error is in thinking that if we suddenly stopped doing anything about climate everyone would suddenly spend it on water. This is a lomborgian fallacy. - Gavin]

    Comment by Balazs — 22 Feb 2012 @ 9:54 PM

  467. 464, Unsettled Scientist: “if we double the CO2 in the CM2.1 model and integrate long enough so that it approaches its new equilibrium, we find that the global mean surface warming is close to 3.4 K.”

    I hope nobody interpreted me as saying that Prof Isaac Held disagreed with the consensus. What I referred to was the fact that the simulations can not predict the effect of increased CO2. One of the papers referred to at the site avers that the CO2 increase might reduce surface temperature.

    You site the CM2.1 model. That model has not yet been shown to make accurate predictions over a long time span, though it also hasn’t been shown to be inaccurate. . It assumes the result that I said could not be computed from the simulations presented at Isaac Held’s blog.

    459 Hank Roberts: And you could have asked Isaac Held if you’d understood him correctly, rather than quoting his words without understanding and misstating the sense of it.

    I did not quote Prof Isaac Held’s words, and I don’t see where I claimed to have. I referred to the simulations, and the other links, as “other science”. I did ask him some questions via email.

    458 Chris Colose: The concept of radiative-convective equilibrium and how that relates to CO2 warming has been conceptually understood since at least the 1960′s with Manabe and Wetherald.

    Sure: Conceptually Understood. But it is still not possible to show what the effect of doubling CO2 concentration, from the present atmosphere, would be.

    This is all accounted for in any credible estimate of climate sensitivity,

    “credible” to you. I have not yet read a complete and accurate demonstration that the “climate sensitivity” is either accurately known OR known to be constant. The approximate constancy falls out from some quasi-steady state thermodynamic approximations; how accurate they are for forecasting the evolution of a nowhere and never stationary process has not been demonstrated. I also have not seen where it has “all” been accounted for, given that cloud formation is an unsettled research area.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 22 Feb 2012 @ 10:27 PM

  468. Sceptic Matthew – we’re waiting for an apology.

    Are you capable of doing so?

    Being wrong is no sin. Insisting on continuing to be wrong after your errors are pointed out … not so much.

    Just sayin’

    Don’t duck and run now.

    RC: in a few years (I’m 58 now) I’ll probably be looking at filing ADA suits against reCAPTCHA sites. reCAPTCHA is, in no imaginable way, ADA compliant.

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Feb 2012 @ 12:10 AM

  469. Dan H (#401-2),

    So you still deny that there is a strong scientific consensus that the human release of CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere is driving the recent observed warming of the earth’s climate? Fair enough. Is this just your opinion, or do you have any factual (and by that I mean peer-reviewed science) to back that up?

    That evidence could include a peer-reviewed opinion survey; a plausible, logical, alternate scientific explanation that would account for the observed warming; or any peer-reviewed science that would demonstrate conclusively that the consensus explanation couldn’t be true.

    If you can’t provide any of that, then why is your denial anything other than opinion?

    Over the years, I have provided you with links to peer-reviewed surveys that show that the great majority of researching climate scientists support the consensus opinion, as well as most credible professional organizations of scientists that research climate. I have shown you peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed study that supports the consensus opinion. And the consensus explanation for the observed warming makes sense, it is logical, and it is strongly supported by the research.

    Dan, it’s time to lay down all your cards.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 23 Feb 2012 @ 4:26 AM

  470. Pete Dunkelberg — 22 Feb 2012 @ 6:07 PM
    Pete, many thanks for the link to the SkS article commenting on Meyers article at Forbes. Puts his otherwise vague hand waving into a scientific context.

    I have a couple of questions on the SkS article and will raise them there rather than here where they would be off topic.

    Comment by Matthew L — 23 Feb 2012 @ 8:26 AM

  471. Well, Michael, since you are the one who keeps hand-waving about these supposed “positives”, why don’t YOU tell us exactly what they are — with gusto?

    Vikings will return to Greenland and found award-winning wineries …

    (… until glacier-fueled floods wash them away.)

    Comment by llewelly — 23 Feb 2012 @ 8:45 AM

  472. Craig,
    Yes, you have shown peer-reviewed papers that support your position. I have shown you peer-reviewed papers that support mine.
    With regards to a “consensus” on the subject, I have only seen one peer-reviewed survey, and that was woefully inadequate concerning AGW (The Doran paper). There have been many documents provided to various scientific statements signed by numerous scientists supporting both your view and mine. I see nothing that hints that this so-called “consensus” exists, although it may have a decade or so ago, before much of the in-depth scientific research was performed. Remember Craig, I am saying that it is not happening, and temperatures will not rise 2C this century. Rather, that we cannot conclude that it is happening as laid depicted by posters here.

    [Response: There are none so blind as will not see. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Feb 2012 @ 8:53 AM

  473. #472–And the Doran paper was “woefully inadequate” because–?

    And perhaps you missed Anderegg et al (2010)–PNAS–and Farnsworth and Lichter (2011)–International Journal of Public Opinion Research?

    And surely the fact that no professional scientific association has disagreed with the mainstream view on climate change, while explicit official statements in agreement are very numerous, has something to say about the state of the ‘consensus?’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  474. I have shown you peer-reviewed papers that support mine.

    Dan, citing an illucid Forbes article by some guy named Warren Meyer – a self described small business owner from Phoenix, does not help your scientific and technical credibility anywhere, not just here.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Feb 2012 @ 10:12 AM

  475. Sorry,
    There should be a not inserted between I am and saying. Makes a bit of a difference.

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Feb 2012 @ 10:25 AM

  476. Ray Ladbury, Hank Roberts, gavin (who knows),Chris Colose, Barton Paul Levenson (if you are reading here today), John P. Reisman, others who post under their own names like Raymond T. Pierrehumbert (and whose excellent book I read), this looks like a good time to acknowledge that I am Matthew R. Marler, Ph.D. (statistics, Carnegie-Mellon University.)

    You could be right about the role of anthropogenic CO2 in global warming, but to me you read like religious zealots. The most important thing that remains to be demonstrated is that climate scientists can predict the future effects of future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations with sufficient accuracy to guide public policy.

    Comment by Septic Matthew — 23 Feb 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  477. Septic Matthew, I do not cite the CM2.1 model, Isaac Held does. Notice what you quoted from my post was already in quotes.

    You write: “What I referred to was the fact that the simulations can not predict the effect of increased CO2. One of the papers referred to at the site avers that the CO2 increase might reduce surface temperature.”

    Which paper exactly? I hope it is not one of the papers from the 60s or 70s initially linked at the top. I think you are misunderstanding the information you are reading. It would help if you would cite your sources instead of being vague about your assertions. From the link you provided Isaac Held wrote: “Increasing the CO2 the surface and troposphere warm by the same amount, by construction, while the stratosphere cools and the tropopause rises, as described in MW.”

    Looking at the recent papers referred to in the link you provided I find these figures.

    “The three simulations (140, 280, and 560 ppmv) equilibrate at sea surface temperatures of 297.5, 300.1, and 303.0 K. This reflects a climate sensitivity in these simulations of about 2.6–2.9 K per doubling of CO2.” Romps, 2010

    Again, the papers you reference do not fit with your claims and only further show the consensus. Please cite your sources if you wish to make a claim so that everyone can verify the accuracy of your statements.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:04 AM

  478. Septic Matthew writes: “You could be right about the role of anthropogenic CO2 in global warming, but to me you read like religious zealots.”

    Please, you are the one making claims without citing your sources. When you do provide a source it does not match your claims. Rather than lowering yourself to a personal attack like this, please try to discuss the science without injecting emotional insults like this.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:08 AM

  479. “it is clear that the small amount of money spent on climate change mitigation is not the impediment”

    Gavin, it’s not logical to think this big problem can be solved with a small solution. There are those who say the climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our generation. If this is the case it’s going to take a great amount of human resources. After all, moving an entire planets energy appetite away from fossil fuels is not a small undertaking. There are those who think there are greater challenges and our focus is best placed elsewhere.

    [Response: The fallacy is that you think 'focus' can only be on one thing. This is nonsense. Governments manage to deal with multiple issues all the time - health care, retirement, employment, foreign policy, international aid, whether someone swore at an awards ceremony, mileage standards, competition policy etc etc. Why are you not arguing that governments stop paying attention to all of that to support improving access to water in the developing world? Why is it only the pitiful amount being spent on climate change that is your target? I would of course be fascinated to read your no-doubt extensive oeuvre arguing for the higher prioritisation of water access in forums other than those dealing with climate. This whole line of argument reeks of post-hoc reasoning. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:17 AM

  480. Kevin,
    You may be interested in the changes that have occurred as a result of the uproar at APS.
    http://americanphysicssociety.net/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
    Of course, even these changes were not enough to keep some esteemed physicists from resigning in protest.

    Comment by Dan H. — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:24 AM

  481. Dan H., Really? Really, Dan H.? You dispute the scientific consensus when:
    1)A PNAS study shows 97% of climate experts say we’re warming the planet
    2)Several other studies show similar levels of support (e.g. Bray and von Storch 2008)
    3)Over 32 National Academies of Science have taken a strong position that climate change constitutes a serious threat–including every industrial nation.
    4)Not one single professional organization of scientists dissents from the consensus, and most go further to assert that climate change constitutes a serious threat.
    5)Oh, but wait! Don’t answer yet. There’s also the much higher levels of productivity of consensus scientists vs. dissenters
    6)Then there is the fact that dissenters lack a coherent theory that explains much of anything about Earth’s climate.

    Given all this, Dan, you still dispute that there is a consensus? Just curious, dude. What exactly constitutes consensus in your mind?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  482. Septic Matthew: “The most important thing that remains to be demonstrated is that climate scientists can predict the future effects of future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations…”

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    So, you are suggesting we pretend the successes of the past 30 years didn’t happen?

    One difference between the consensus position and religion: we have the evidence on our side. Funnily, that also distinguishes our position from yours. Project much?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:31 AM

  483. “but to me you read like religious zealots.”

    OK. Is there anything you can add to that that will make it less pointless? For all I can tell you’re just projecting.

    “The most important thing that remains to be demonstrated is that climate scientists can predict the future effects of future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations with sufficient accuracy to guide public policy.”

    So, for all the time you’ve spent here stirring the pot, have you actually done anything meaningful to move that process along?

    O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An’ foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
    An’ ev’n devotion!
        To a Louse, Robert Burns

    Comment by Radge Havers — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:33 AM

  484. Ah, Septic Matthew it’s called fossil fuel-sourced CO2. Anthropogenic CO2 (which means what, CO2 in the breath?) is a fuzzy term that ignores the central problem – reliance on fossil fuels for energy production. There’s no way to avoid non-neutral CO2 emissions if you want to burn fossil fuels.

    As far as predictions, you need to go back and read climate science papers from, say, 1970-1990 and then compare their predictions to recent data on things like polar temperature trends, snowmelt trends, extreme weather trends, etc. Yes, the predictions are in line with outcomes – and you also had a nice semi-experimental test case for climate science, the Pinatubo volcanic explosion. If projections match results, what then?

    https://www.sciencemag.org/content/296/5568/727.short

    Denial of scientific fact in the name of protecting corporate fossil fuel profit margins is a dirty game, but that’s what’s going on – just take a look at this plan from the Heartland Institute, 2012 Fundraising Plan:

    Dr. Wojick [a DOE consultant] proposes to begin work on “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”), climate models (“models are used to explore various hypotheses about how climate works. Their reliability is controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial. It is the global food supply and natural emissions are 20 times higher than human emissions”). Wojick would produce modules for Grades 7-9 on environmental impact (“environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”), for Grade 6 on water resources and weather systems, and so on.

    We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $5,000 per module, about $25,000 a quarter, starting in the second quarter of 2012, for this work. The Anonymous Donor has pledged the first $100,000 for this project, and we will circulate a proposal to match and then expand upon that investment.

    The fossil fuel-protecting PR agenda here is pretty obvious, if you read the next section of the Heartland Institute document:

    Heartland has been one of the most outspoken defenders of fracking in the U.S., using Environment & Climate News, its Web sites, and its PR and GR operations to comment repeated on the issue and reach large audiences.

    Isn’t transparency and openness what science is all about? That includes revealing private donors and dirty little plans, too.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  485. #475 Dan H.

    I noticed what you meant as I am sure did others. But it makes no difference on your consensus argument about climate scientists. Go to a science meeting where climate scientists go, and test the idea that there is no consensus regarding the quantified work.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:36 AM

  486. #476 Septic Matthew (Matthew R. Marler, Ph.D.)

    What is religious about discussing science based on the peer reviewed literature?

    Answer me one question: What would the temperature of Earth be if you remove the tiny fraction of CO2?

    If you answer that one question, you will possibly understand the role of any CO2, let alone anthropogenic, in our atmosphere.

    P.S. gavin = Gavin Schmidt (NASA/GISS)
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/gavin-schmidt/

    It often helps if you look.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  487. [Response: providing everyone with clean water would cost ~50bn and use entirely existing technology. Given that governments spend over $1 trillion on the Iraq war, or similar amounts on bailouts for banks, it is clear that the small amount of money spent on climate change mitigation is not the impediment. Your error is in thinking that if we suddenly stopped doing anything about climate everyone would suddenly spend it on water. This is a lomborgian fallacy. - Gavin]

    Hi Gavin,

    I am not that naive to believe that stopping renewable subsidies would mean that all the money would flow to provide clean water to the poor. I am also willing to accept that the halving of foreign aids in the last few decades (according to Bjorn Lomborg) cannot be entirely attributed to the efforts to combat climate change. Nevertheless, it would be hard to deny that climate change diverted attention from problems that I would consider more imminent and and certainly more easy to solve in the near future than climate change.

    I know, my views will be unpopular, but I have no objection “spreading democracy” even at the $1 trillion level, but I find it highly disturbing, when this desire is restricted to countries with huge oil reservers. I wish if the US and the rest of the developed world would have been willing to spread democracy by stopping genocide in Rwanda or stopped the Balkan war for other reason than some president needing to divert attention from his misconducts.

    I don’t think that the money spent on climate change mitigation is that small. I suspect that when fully accounted it could be easily in the tens of billion $$, if not in the trillion $$ level (globally). Even if it does not show up as “spending” requiring utilities to provide certain amount of electricity from renewables undoubtedly raises energy prices. Requiring the addition of biofuel to gasoline is clearly a hidden subsidy to the corn industry that I actually find unethical. I would support full heartedly, if corn subsidies were justified by the need to provide food for the hungry, but it should make everybody puke when biofuels are burned in our vehicles.

    I have no doubt that pumping CO2 to the atmosphere is a problem that everybody needs to be aware of and at some time we have to stop using fossil fuels entirely (if not for other reason, but because they will run out). The AGW fallacy is that we have the technology to start that shift now. All studies that showed renewable and improved energy efficiency will solve the problem (starting with the infamous Pacala and Socolow wedges) assumed that the global energy use (from 15TW) can be reduced to 11TW. While this is possible for the 20% richest part of the world, but “leaves the rest in the dark” (as Pielke Jr. would phrase it). Allowing the 80% to come up even to a much more efficient level than the United States still needs a tripling or quadrupling of the global energy use in the upcoming decades. At that level, renewables are simply not enough.

    James Hansen knows this well and he realizes that without nuclear energy there is no way to solve climate change, yet he is less vocal expressing this realization then blaming big oil (as evidenced in his recent performance at the AAAC panel meeting in Vancouver http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2012/0209am_webcast.shtml). If the Heartland Institute saga proves anything, it is that big oil don’t even care (considering the laughable amount of support they provide to spread “misinformation”). The 20+ years lack of progress is a testament that we don’t have the technology to replace fossil fuels.

    Comment by Balazs — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:53 AM

  488. > read like religious zealots

    People who study ecology have, for many decades, read that way. You’ve read Aldo Leopold?

    How do you read the people at CMU who write about ecology and biology?

    I try to read like a reference librarian here, actually. It’s tedious and boring and not very much fun.

    But it’s a way to resist the temptation to argue like a “religious zealot” justifying it by thinking “they did it first so I can too, double.”

    It’s an easy pitfall. There’s loads of distorted info available to feed that kind of argument — CO2Science is a font of it, so is Heartland.

    Trying to bring the good habits of academic reading and writing into blog conversation isn’t fun or easy.

    If you’re convinced there’s nothing to the science, you won’t bother.

    Is there anyone at CMU you consider a reliable source on ecology and climate?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:54 AM

  489. #476 Septic Matthew (Matthew R. Marler, Ph.D.)

    The science give strong enough indication for policy (more CO2 = worse/less = less worse). The most important thing that remains to be demonstrated is will policy-makers make the best choices regarding the future effects of future increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations with sufficient accuracy so as to minimize the relative costs to society.

    That is what remains to be seen.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:59 AM

  490. “You do not engage with the propositions of others. You do not even engage wth the porpositions you laid down yourself but hours before.”

    #457 MARoger,
    Ray, Kevin, Walter, and yourself have added nothing to the conversation, and keep repeating the same information, totally missing the concept. Listing only studies that support your narrow view is not a balanced analysis. The conformation bias is pretty evident. For instance if I were to point to a study such as

    http://www.geogsci.com/EN/abstract/abstract530.shtml

    and say a warmer planet is a greener planet, I am sure it would be analysed, criticized, and picked through, but if I were to point to a study like Ray posted as

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JHM-386.1

    it’s just more or less accepted, because it agrees with the narrative.

    Roger, setting aside the debate, for your own curiosity, aren’t you the least bit interested in what the temperature would be optimal for the planet?

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 12:02 PM

  491. #476 Septic Matthew (Matthew R. Marler, Ph.D.)

    Furthermore, I find it incredibly arrogant (unwarranted confidence) of you to accuse me and many on your list of being religious on this matter. Would it not be more accurate to describe yourself as attempting to remove the splinters from our eyes while ignoring the log in your own (to paraphrase a known bible quote).

    Do please answer me this: Exactly how is a discussion based on the peer reviewed science religious?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Feb 2012 @ 12:03 PM

  492. Septic MAtthew (476)

    Look, no one is happy that climate sensitivity estimates have centered around ~3 C with large (50% or so) uncertainties on either side, or that relatively little progress has been made over the last couple decades in making that 50% number smaller. There are constraints however. Unless you want to play Judith Curry, you don’t get the freedom to make up whatever physics you want or misrepresent other articles in the name of ‘uncertainty.’

    Instead of name-calling, you should re-read Isaac Held’s post, re-read the section of raypierre’s book where he talks about convective adjustment, or perhaps the Manabe and Wetherald paper.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:03 PM

  493. #485 Michael W

    Context is key. As I’ve said before there will be some advantages but there is plenty of data that indicates while certain growing areas are increasing in size and seasonal length. What good is it to the crop yields if soil moisture content drops and hydrology changes in such a way as to impede crop yields and nutritive values?

    Start studying crop yields in relation to warming, fire, drought, food and other related factors and then you might start to get the picture.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  494. As a corrective to the poisonous ego of guest commenters who assume they have the right to lecture scientists and promote dubious pseudoscience, here are two excellent videos:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/a-chat-with-realclimate-blogger-gavin-schmidt/

    Considering that the purpose of this blog is to disseminate information and promote discussion amongst those who know something about what they are talking about, stirring the pot with assertions of superiority while demonstrating ignorance should make the poster want to crawl with shame. Unfortunately, it does not seem to have that effect. That, however, is not a sign that our hosts and their community have not responded with multiple resources and almost too much tolerance of recycled politics. Nature has the last and only vote, and those working hard to understand and work with it are worthy of respect, not sneering dismissal.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:31 PM

  495. > warmer planet is a greener planet

    No question about that.
    Weeds, more than food plants, benefit fastest.
    Grains are mostly already near their heat stress limit.
    Soils in Canada are thin over rock, not suitable to grow wheat.

    A warmer planet is greener, and hungrier.
    All these have been cited repeatedly here.
    You know how to find this stuff.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:36 PM

  496. Dan H.

    Of course, even these changes were not enough to keep some esteemed physicists from resigning in protest.

    A fraction of much, much less than 1%, yes. And, no wonder – the 2010 statement you refer to supports the original 2007 statement they objected to. The only difference is that it’s several times longer, giving spaced for a more nuanced argument that’s totally supportive of mainstream climate science.

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:47 PM

  497. #490 John, despite the problems of ‘dropping soil moisture content, fire, drought, food, and other factors’ during the time the earth has warmed in the last half century, crop yields have increased. Why do you assume the reasons we overcome these negative factors won’t continue into the future?

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:51 PM

  498. Uh, Dan H., have you read the APS 2010 statement? It really does not support your case. All it does is reiterate the 2007 statement and expand on detail. I’m starting to worry about your reading comprehension. Have you been tested?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:51 PM

  499. Michael W.,
    OK. Let me see if I’ve got this right. You are reassured by the fact that plants can grow in what was previously permafrost or snow cover? Dude, that’s not where we farm. Wheat doesn’t grow there. Do you even bother to read the stuff you cite?

    Moreover, “greener” is not necessarily good. Weeds are green–as you would know if you saw my garden. So is mold. Don’t confuse fertile with fetid. The evidence shows decreasing yield with temperature. You’ve shown nothing that mitigates the concern.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:03 PM

  500. Indeed, anything this well vetted that predicts 1 – 3 degrees global temperature rises on multi-decadal timescales is a force to be reckoned with.

    Climate scientists know it is well past time for society to own up to this.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:09 PM

  501. #489–”Ray, Kevin, Walter, and yourself have added nothing to the conversation, and keep repeating the same information, totally missing the concept.”

    Ooh, cut to the quick. Still, one can but try to add to the conversation.

    I’m trying, Michael–are you? As I recall, you asked for specific information about where one would look for evaluations of ‘positives versus negatives.’ I pointed you to the SPM (AR4 iteration) where there was a discussion of precisely this issue that I found helpful. I even offered hints that I know some would find useful in pursuing that lead. I don’t see any acknowledgment of this comment, beyond a dismissal of the SPM in #447 because it “seems so one-sided.”

    Just as a lesson in human dynamics, Michael, when people respond specifically to your requests for information, taking some time and trouble to do so, it’s a bit ungracious to accuse them of ‘adding nothing to the conversation.’ And it is ironically so when you choose to simply dismiss those answers, based on nothing more than how they ‘seem’ to you.

    You want an ‘objective opinion’ on the SPM. Well, my opinion is that it is a serious and credible assessment of positives and negatives. But you seem to have made up your mind that my opinion can’t possibly be ‘objective.’

    Guess that means I would be wasting my time by responding further to your comments.

    Too bad. But I imagine I’ll find other ways to add to the conversation.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  502. Dan H,

    I also showed you the Anderegg paper – you apparently forgot.

    You did not provide me with the information I asked – you just provided me with your opinion.

    Well, then tell me this – what do you think of this article, and the studies to which it links?

    http://www.alternet.org/story/154252/the_republican_brain%3A_why_even_educated_conservatives_deny_science_–_and_reality?page=1

    The article is in a partisan context, but if you can look past that, the research is pretty interesting.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  503. > the 2010 statement … supports the
    > original 2007 statement they objected to

    “Hoist with his own petard” — over and over again.

    —–
    For Dr. Marler — did you coauthor the hours-of-sleep study a while back?
    I found that one rather reassuring.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  504. 489 “confirmation bias.” Not at all. We’ve weighed the available evidence presented here and elsewhere and concluded that on balance the trajectory is highly negative.

    You, meanwhile, haven’t done your homework, want others to do it for you, but get upset that we won’t put a big smiley face on the situation.

    “A warmer planet is a greener planet.” Catchy but empty.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:26 PM

  505. #480–”Kevin,
    You may be interested in the changes that have occurred as a result of the uproar at APS.
    http://americanphysicssociety.net/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
    Of course, even these changes were not enough to keep some esteemed physicists from resigning in protest.”

    Thanks, Dan, but I was well-aware of this ‘uproar’–which might be better characterized as a tempest in a teapot. And wasn’t the ‘some esteemed physicists’, actually all of one APS member? (True, he was a Nobel winner back in 1973, which makes him ‘esteemed’ by more or less by definition. Still, it’s perhaps worth noting that his salad days as a researcher were 50 years ago now.)

    As to the upshot of the affair, previous comments have dealt effectively with that.

    But, tell me, Dan–does the lack of response to the other papers I cited say anything in particular? Do you plan to ignore them, or are you just taking time to read and digest them thoroughly?

    And you still don’t explain your dismissal of Doran et al. You made a positive statement; surely it had some substantive basis?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:48 PM

  506. #479 Gavin, I am going to cast my ballot in November for someone with global warming action at the bottom of their priority list. I will be mislabeled anti-science and anti-environment not because I am, but because of peoples intolerance of differing viewpoints. It matters what gets on that list and what sits at the top. You move things up on the list at the cost of others.

    (ps I assure you my reasoning is the opposite of ad-hoc; full of nuance and deep meaning – like a portrait of Pamela Anderson at the Louvre titled ‘re: 1886′)

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:52 PM

  507. #494–”Soils in Canada are thin over rock, not suitable to grow wheat.”

    Sorry, Hank, a rare mis-statement on your part. You must have meant “soils in Northern Canada.” (Ie., over the Canadian Shield.)

    http://daniel-workman.suite101.com/us-and-canadian-wheat-exports-by-top-10-countries-a270163

    Of course, your larger point stands, as the Canadian soils suitable for growing wheat are already doing so; further North, where the limiting factor is the growing season, the soils are as you suggest, by and large.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  508. Balazs wrote: “I never understood, why [Peter Gleick] was so obsessed with climate change, when water related problems seemed to be much more imminent …

    For one thing, because climate change is already aggravating “water related problems” and will cause much worse “water related problems” that make today’s quite serious “water related problems” look trivial by comparison.

    Balazs wrote: “… humans are regarded as cancer on this planet threatening ‘mother nature’ …”

    That’s offensive nonsense worthy of Rush Limbaugh. Anthropogenic global warming is threatening the lives, livelihoods and well-being of billions of human beings.

    Balazs wrote: “The AGW fallacy is that we have the technology to start that shift now.”

    More nonsense. Of course we have the technology now to “start” the shift away from fossil fuels — as demonstrated by the fact that such a “shift” has already started. In 2011 the USA installed more new wind-powered electrical generating capacity than coal and nuclear combined. Wind and solar are already the fastest growing sources of new electricity generation in the world and their growth is skyrocketing, setting new records every year. We can easily phase out virtually all fossil fuel use within a few decades if we choose to do so.

    Balazs wrote: “James Hansen knows this well and he realizes that without nuclear energy there is no way to solve climate change …”

    James Hansen is a brilliant climate scientist who is ill-informed about energy technologies, and he is simply wrong about the need for nuclear power.

    But so what? If Hansen were right — that WITH nuclear power there IS a “way to solve climate change” — then you have just contradicted your own subsequent assertion that “we don’t have the technology to replace fossil fuels”.

    With all due respect, your comments read like you are not even giving them much thought. You are just lazily stringing together bogus — and deliberately offensive — talking points like the ones that the fossil fuel corporations pay the Heartland Institute to cook up and spoon-feed to deniers.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Feb 2012 @ 3:11 PM

  509. Susan Anderson wrote: “… stirring the pot with assertions of superiority while demonstrating ignorance should make the poster want to crawl with shame …”

    I think you are mistaking deliberate dishonesty for “ignorance”.

    Someone who is shown to be ignorant might well be “ashamed” of having asserted “superiority”.

    Someone who is deliberately lying probably won’t be ashamed.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 23 Feb 2012 @ 3:14 PM

  510. It’s a curious thing, but I was thinking that Michael W bloke was trying to tell me somthing @489.
    But he wasn’t. He was on to some fella who was “listing only studies that support a narrow view.” and as I’ve never cited any reference at Michael W, it must be somebody else. The fella appears to be called Roger so if anyone bumps into Roger, do tell him.

    There is a certain irony @489. Beneath a quote he pastes up complaining about his unability to stick to the point, Michael W manages to lose the thread of what he’s mouthing off at more than once and all within the space of a hundred words or so.

    Steady on, thought. Am I “totally missing the concept?” Perhaps Michael W is a real genious and only appears as a total dim-wit to those who cannot understand him.

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Feb 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  511. There are those who think there are greater challenges [than C02 mitigation] and our focus is best placed elsewhere.

    But we actually don’t focus on other things with effort of the grand scale we all agree is necessary for C02 mitigation, do we? We -could-, but we don’t. Where’s the demonstrated dilemma of zero-sum choice? Where’s the conundrum, in reality?

    I can’t help but wonder about the sincerity of people who passionately argue against the improving instincts of others while not themselves exerting equal or greater passion in doing rather than opposing. Why is it more important to infectiously promote paralysis and less compelling to act in the other ways described as at risk because of C02 mitigation?

    Comment by dbostrom — 23 Feb 2012 @ 3:18 PM

  512. … to me you read like religious zealots.

    But with an important difference. With regard to scientifically derived beliefs, outside of our particular provinces of knowledge we can disbelieve what we don’t personally know or experience or we can place faith in the discoveries of others. Unlike religious faith, if we so desire we can then test our faith’s reliability or the worthiness of our skepticism by devoting effort to specialized learning.

    Because of factors unrelated to scientific research it’s difficult to recall a province of thought where many of us place our faith that has been more sorely tested yet still found deserving than climate science. This is not so surprising, really, as climate science is largely built on other indisputably reliable arenas of learning and knowledge; to find our faith in climate science shattered would be to find our entire state of knowing turned upside down.

    Comment by dbostrom — 23 Feb 2012 @ 3:31 PM

  513. I would like to point out for the RC audience that Anthony Watts has a nice post up showing how he practiced ethics when he was presented with a direct link to private information via the ClimateGate 2.0 emails. I think it sets a good example. Thanks.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/23/an-example-of-a-different-ethos-when-you-have-access-to-private-documents/

    Comment by Dudenbostal — 23 Feb 2012 @ 4:05 PM

  514. #502 Walter, believe it or not I am here to learn and put my ideas to the test. When you say you have weighed the evidence, tell me how that works. I posted 2 links on #489, and you have the question before you “Is a warmer planet with more co2 preferable?”, how do you assimilate these two studies into your thinking?

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 4:06 PM

  515. #499 Kevin, I apologize for dismissing your comments, maybe I’m the one who’s not clear. My query has more to do with how you weigh information and less to do with what information you have. Ray posted a study on drought, and the comment I felt was helpful was actually over on Tamino’s blog

    MMM says:
    “…Having said that, I’m not sure that the PDSI plot is the last word on increasing drought, I feel like recently the confidence in past drought trends has decreased – for example, the SREX report seems to indicate only medium confidence for some regions – eg, “There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, in central North America and northwestern Australia. [3.5.1]”

    (Compare to the AR4 statement: “More intense and longer droughts have been observed over wider areas, particularly in the tropics and subtropics since the 1970s”, based presumably in part on the Dai et al. 2004 PDSI analysis)”

    Back to you, you say the SPM is a serious and credible assessment. Do you have any criticisms at all? Do you think it will hold up over time? Why?

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 4:19 PM

  516. Nevertheless, it would be hard to deny that climate change diverted attention from problems that I would consider more imminent and and certainly more easy to solve in the near future than climate change.

    If we were really concerned about the human condition, we might start with hair gel, mascara, pointless chrome on cars, “the fashion cycle,” professional sports, tooth whitener, window treatments, drive-through-coffee, Facebook, funeral corteges, luxury yachts, rarely used vacation homes, bathroom televisions, unused stationary bicycles, USB coffee warmers, aerosol cheese in cans and the almost numberless plethora of other expenditures we habitually and mindlessly dissipate on entropy-intensive wastrel behaviors before we choose to slice away more important ambitions that actually do have a hope of delivering an improved future.

    The problem here is not the available amount of money– of which we have plenty, obviously, or we would not enjoy having aerosol cheese in a can ready for our purchase– but rather its distribution, or more specifically the diversion of money from pockets accustomed to its presence to other, new pockets. The currently bulging yet still insatiable pockets don’t want things to change and are putting up quite a struggle to make sure they stay fed.

    Comment by dbostrom — 23 Feb 2012 @ 4:33 PM

  517. #509 MARoger, not only do I appear to be a dim-wit, I am one. But educate me anyway. Do you have any thoughts on confirmation bias? Quoting Rasmus “This also means that all relevant information must be included – not just those which support one stand.”

    Or maybe a comment you made earlier “There are those who conflate our abilities to predict things like our economic futures with our abilities to predict climatic futures.” Lets say you nail down climate sensitivity exactly, future natural variation exactly, future human co2 emissions exactly, you still have a pandora’s box of wild cards like nuclear war, volcanoes, asteroids, etc. While climate projections are interesting, they are only a small part of the ‘future picture’.

    Comment by Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:05 PM

  518. Michael W:

    I posted 2 links on #489, and you have the question before you “Is a warmer planet with more co2 preferable?”, how do you assimilate these two studies into your thinking?

    Well, quoting from your favorite:

    LAI has prominently increased in Europe, Siberia, Indian Peninsula, America and south Canada, South region of Sahara, southwest corner of Australia and Kgalagadi Basin; while noticeably decreased in Southeast Asia, southeastern China, central Africa, central and southern South America and arctic areas in North America.

    It looks as though if the pattern seen through the relatively modest warming we’ve seen thus far were to continue, the historical hungry developing and third world countries will get screwed, while we industrial countries will see a modest increase in food production *if* changes in LAI correspond to changes in food production.

    If that fits your description of a better world, well …

    Of course, there’s no particular reason to expect that pattern to continue, and there are plenty of studies out there that make such a sanguine outlook – if that fits your a sanguine outlook – to continue.

    Tell us, though, do you think that a world with lower ag output in the bolded areas would be a better world?

    Comment by dhogaza — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:24 PM

  519. SA, I was just being polite – I thought the rest of my screed made that clear.

    In general, I have little to contribute here apart from being a fan but relish the real science to and fro and pick up a titbit from time to time, and appreciate the tolerance. It is amazing how much expertise many of the self-identified “laypeople” who post here demonstrate.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:29 PM

  520. >“Is a warmer planet with more co2 preferable?”
    Rate of change is the problem.

    Two thousand mostly science journal results on the question:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=warmer+planet+“rate+of+change”+co2

    Don’t rely on some stranger on a blog to read them for you and tell you what they say.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:35 PM

  521. dbostrom @~515

    Thanks for that little list (it would be fun to do a Gilbert and Sullivan patter). Also, the biggest fireworks and sports events ever, biggest salaries for entertainers (which nobody ever mentions except in admiration), ever more elaborate entertainment, and the scream track (real or feigned). I call it the Roman Circus – with much the same effect, to pacify and dull awareness of an exploitative polity. (Though I admit I rather like Lin.)

    Recaptcha in Hebrew script, oomsap huh! (ferludsake)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:38 PM

  522. > SPM … AR4 …
    > Do you have any criticisms at all?
    > Do you think it will hold up over time? Why?

    No chance it’ll survive much longer.
    There’s an AR5 coming out fairly soon.
    They actively solicit criticism,
    and write a new repor that will replace the old one.

    That’s how it works.

    In between, you have to read the journals to see what’s new and what’s better understood. The big review articles come along years apart.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:38 PM

  523. Michael W. @513. I evaluate new information within the context of what I’ve already assimilated. There’s a wealth of resources appropriate to the layman in the right sidebar as well as “start here” link at the top left which is meant for you and me. I’m sure moderators and commenters alike will be happy to suggest additional material relevant to your interests and expertise.

    There’s no substitute for doing the reading yourself, but fortunately there are many popular books on the topic. One of my favorites, first recommended here, is Thin Ice by Mark Bowen. It brings together the wonder and adventure of science, how true scientific disputes arise and are worked through, and one of the best histories I’ve ever read of how the concept of climate change first began to be seriously investigated. And don’t miss the passages on the Tiwanaku and the Moche.

    To your article links…I’ve learned from earlier discussions to look for the number of citations for a given scholarly article — a measure of whether the article is helping to move the science forward. According to Google, your Liu article has been cited by 1, while Dai has been cited by 473. That’s important context in assessing contradictory claims.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 23 Feb 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  524. 507: “For one thing, because climate change is already aggravating “water related problems” and will cause much worse “water related problems” that make today’s quite serious “water related problems” look trivial by comparison.”

    Since, I happened to be hydrologist, who studied global water resources for almost twenty years and published a number of peer-reviewed paper on the matter (including water resources under future scenarios), I would like to believe that I know a few things about water. Water resources are under numerous anthropogenic threats that are far more prevalent than climate change will ever be. The major driver is population everywhere and we need to face the dilemma of promoting people to live in dense cities that requires investment in energy intensive infrastructure or spread out to live village life and rely on ecosystem services. While the later may seem to be less damaging, but by the time one would spread 7-10 billion people not much will be left for biodiversity. The primary reason for lost biodiversity has little to do with climate change and the dominant cause is land use change, pollutions, engineering works and other direct human impacts. Anybody, who is concerned about water resources, must look at these direct impacts first.

    507: “More nonsense. Of course we have the technology now to “start” the shift away from fossil fuels — as demonstrated by the fact that such a “shift” has already started. In 2011 the USA installed more new wind-powered electrical generating capacity than coal and nuclear combined. Wind and solar are already the fastest growing sources of new electricity generation in the world and their growth is skyrocketing, setting new records every year. We can easily phase out virtually all fossil fuel use within a few decades if we choose to do so.”

    As far as, investment in renewable energy exceeding conventional energy sources in the US as a proof that any sort of transition is already happening is highly misleading. Both the United States and Europe had stagnant energy use in the last couple of years, partly due to the weak economy and partly, due to exporting energy intensive manufacturing to developing countries (primarily to China). I doubt, if China’s new coal reactors on the weekly basis would be match by their wind or solar installations. If the world was on the path of any sort of transition, why did carbon emission soared last year?

    While nuclear energy seems to be the ultimate solution, current generation nuclear power plants apparently have too many problems. James Hansen talks at length in his book (Storm of my Grandchildren) about fast breeding reactors (whatever that means, but it sounds like nuclear explosion at first glance) and there are also plenty of discussions elsewhere about thorium reactors. I don’t fully understand the details, but these new type of reactors are not ready and clearly cannot compete yet with fossil fuels.

    If we wanted to start to make a shift away from fossil fuels, the imperfect nuclear reactors would have been a better first step, but nuclear was a tabu in the last three decades and still is. There is just as much rejection of science in the environmental movement when it comes to nuclear power as conservatives rejecting climate change.

    Comment by Balazs — 23 Feb 2012 @ 6:01 PM

  525. Michael W., One of the many things you seem not to comprehend is that all the infrastructure of civilization dates from the current period of remarkable climatic stability. This was when all of our major food crops were domesticated, when all of our domestic animals were domesticated, when we ceased to be wandering hunter-gatherers and started an enterprise we refer to as human civilization. Do you think that this was some magic coincidence–that it happened independently in the Middle East, India, China, the Americas and Africa all at about the same time by accident?

    Now we have reached a point where we will have 10 billion people to support by midcentury–1.5 times the current number, many of whom are already plagued by food insecurity. We do this in a time of depleted resources–especially petroleum, which is critical to modern, high-yield agriculture-and damaged environmental health. Oceans are degraded. Soil is degraded. Aquifers are depleted–never to flow again. Now add to that a warmer climate. That means pests don’t die as readily and may live throughout the year as in tropical agricultural. Likewise weeds. Yield for nearly all of our critical food crops falls with increasing temperatures. Some will cease to grow at all in their current ranges. Toward the poles from those ranges, glaciers have pretty much scraped away most of the topsoil–e.g. the Canadian Shield.

    The articles you have cited do not equate to increased agricultural productivity. They say plants grow. They don’t say what plants. Did you think of this? Evidently not. Maybe that is why it is a good idea to look at what the experts in a field say–and Michael, they aren’t optimistic.

    Look, Michael, risk mitigation is what I do for a living. When you are presented with a credible risk, the scientists have done their job. Then folks like me take over. Our job is to figure out how bad it could be–to bound the risk. I cannot go to a satellite maker and say, “Well, your satellite is in flames over the Pacific somewhere, but your batteries are still holding a charge.” I have to assess the threats or the threats come true. So far, I have not yet found a realistic way to bound the risk wrt climate change. I cannot with high confidence rule out the possibility that it could contribute significantly to serious degradation in human civiliztion and possible to a large-scale collapse of human population. Other risks, I can mostly bound. Disease will kill thousands, perhaps millions. Lack of clean water, likewise. Climate change in combination with overpopulation, diminished resources, etc…. I cannot establish a limit. As a risk professional, that worries me.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2012 @ 6:24 PM

  526. Balazs: “Water resources are under numerous anthropogenic threats that are far more prevalent than climate change will ever be.”

    This from a man who is utterly ignorant of the theory of Earth’s climate. Absolute uncertainty combined with profound ignorance… a dangerous combination

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 23 Feb 2012 @ 6:26 PM

  527. #513 Dudenbostal

    Keep in mind, while there is a clear ethical issue, the moral issue is one that line that, in my opinion, from a conscientious objection point of view has not been crossed. And I still don’t know if there was a crime as a court has to determine that.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 23 Feb 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  528. michael@ 497 “during the time the earth has warmed in the last half century, crop yields have increased. Why do you assume the reasons we overcome these negative factors won’t continue into the future?”

    The last half century’s results were achieved by the application of technology combined with reorganisation of cropping practices. The technology in question was converting oil into fertiliser for crops and pastures for food.

    This can’t continue into the future because the quantities of oil required just won’t be available – either at a reasonable cost for this purpose, or at all. We expect a population of 10 billion+ by mid-century. In 50 years time do you really expect there to be enough oil products for anything but the most expensive, high tech applications?

    If we can maintain (or attain) adequate food production it will only be because of new technology and imaginative, large-scale reorganisation of agriculture. It certainly won’t be by continuing with the technology that got us to where we are now.

    Comment by adelady — 23 Feb 2012 @ 7:16 PM

  529. Michael D-less W @517
    You are a dim-wit? Well I am a small-brained mammal, so I know very well that education does have it’s limits.
    Concering your first point:-
    I was never taught about “confirmation bias” because I was simply taught to study the literature. A single piece of peer-reviewed literature does not suddenly become irrefutible fact. (Ha.Remember Lords Monkton & Blaby are peers and I wouldn’t trust them with the time of day!!) Such literature simply enters into a process. Thus citing a peer-revied paper, say Smart & Clever 2010, does not entirely trump say Gobby & Git 2001 which may not be peer-reviewed & which pre-dates S&C 2010. To cite G&G 2001 in such circumstances would take some explaining but it is not entirely wrong. Yet imagine that another paper Git & Gobby 2012 is peer-reviewed and directly disputes (without contradiction) S&C 2010. In that circumstance, to cite S&C 2010 without mention of G&G 2012, that would be entirely wrong.
    It is only with un-knowledgable scholarship (& other dim-witted activity) that “confirmation bias” or cherry-picking becomes a real issue. In the exteme, that could mean reliance on the veracity of say a single comment posted anoymously on an open blog site. That is what you did Michael W @ 514.
    If that lesson has been learnt, you will be able to say what else is badly wrong @514. So what is it?

    Comment by MARodger — 23 Feb 2012 @ 7:29 PM

  530. Ray (526): This from a man who is utterly ignorant of the theory of Earth’s climate. Absolute uncertainty combined with profound ignorance… a dangerous combination

    With all due respect, I don’t’ think I am more ignorant than your lacking appreciation of the degree to which humans already have altered directly all other elements of the Earth system. The Earth’s climate might be under severe stress, but polluted rivers, paved cities already have much more profound impacts.

    Comment by Balazs — 23 Feb 2012 @ 7:41 PM

  531. Michael W yaps about much like a small dog, bothering ankles until someone stumbles.

    He asks someone named Roger, (who is not MA Rodger) “for your own curiosity, aren’t you the least bit interested in what the temperature would be optimal for the planet?”

    Where to begin in guessing the meaning of this one? …”optimal for the planet” requires more definition of terms and intent.
    “the planet” as Gaia has some capacity to buffer and respond in maintenance of equilibrium, if you accept the premise of an equilibrium-seeking meta-entity. But that buffering capacity is pretty limited, as we are starting to notice with ocean absorption of CO2 and heat.

    “the planet” as its current mix of species and ecosystems, has by definition evolved within a relatively narrow range of temperatures – move very many degrees above or below that range, and “optimal” is not likely to apply, since species migration and extinctions will multiply, to reduce total numbers and diversity by orders of magnitude.

    If “the planet” means “human residence”, the “optimal” temperature may require going back down a few and reducing the variance, since carrying capacity is overwhelmed as we are…while we may be traveling on a short term diversion to reach a more reasonable load, it is hardly a controlled experiment. The wealthy few may assume they will survive on their Paraguayan mountain estates, but I think the brakes may not be too dependable, and no one seems to be steering.

    Earth will continue to spin regardless of what we do, but the number of human passengers depends upon how we clean up after ourselves.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 23 Feb 2012 @ 8:04 PM

  532. Phil Mattheis @ 530, Earth will continue to spin regardless of what we do, but the number of human passengers depends upon how we clean up after ourselves.

    Congratulations, you made the quote file.

    Comment by p — 23 Feb 2012 @ 9:13 PM

  533. re: confirmation bias

    They only imitate. That’s why as soon as you find a creative way to describe what’s going on, you will find it twisted and manipulated as soon as they figure out what it means and a way to use it.

    It is easier to destroy than to build.

    Speaking of creativity, I believe most of you know about Kate and ClimateSight. This is superb, geared to a younger audience:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=M2Jxs7lR8ZI

    from:
    http://climatesight.org/2012/02/05/breaching-the-mainstream/
    “today I’m gonna give it to you straight about climate change … perhaps you’ve heard of it … coming to blow up your house and eat your dog …”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 23 Feb 2012 @ 10:11 PM

  534. #515–”. . .you say the SPM is a serious and credible assessment. Do you have any criticisms at all? Do you think it will hold up over time? Why?”

    Do I have ‘criticisms?’ Not really. No doubt I could find something to complain about, were there much of a point to doing so. But that’s a counterfactual; no-one previously has given a tinker’s curse what I think about the SPM–and no offense, but I doubt you give one, either.

    My impression of the SP as a reader is that it synthesizes a great deal of information in a very careful and conscientious manner. It seeks to concentrate information greatly, while still attempting to be clear about the uncertainties. Doing that is a tough row to hoe, as any report writer could probably tell you; but all in all I think they did a pretty good job. There’s a certain ‘wooliness,’ but I think that’s mostly a function of the amount of detail, combined with all the caveating.

    Do I think the SPM will ‘hold up over time?’ I find that a curious question. Do you mean, ‘do I think it’s entirely correct and no errors or further developments will show up?’ Of course not. It’s a summary of the state of the art as of 2006, when the cutoff for inclusion was. As such, some things will of course be wrong (mostly probably in detail); others will prove incomplete. But if you mean, ‘do I think it will still look like a good effort a decade or more hence?’ then yes, I think it will ‘hold up’ in that sense.

    And actually, the fact that I cited it shows that, in my mind at least, it has already held up well for 5 years.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:10 PM

  535. I should add that, the purpose of citing the SPM was not just to put it forward; it can also serve as entree into the Report itself, and particularly into the question you asked about.

    For example, see page 11 of the SPM. Many of the consequences are indeed negative–after all, nobody’s so far come up with advantages to more flooding, more drought, ocean acidification, or decreased biodiversity. Call it ‘one-sided,’ but there it is.

    But under “Food, fibre and forest products” we read that:

    “Crop productivity is projected to increase slightly at mid- to high
    latitudes for local mean temperature increases of up to 1-3°C
    depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that in some
    regions. * D [5.4]”

    Not satisfied with this bald summary of a (part) positive, I refer to Chapter 5, Section 4 of the AR. It’s here:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch5s5-4.html

    Proceeding forward, one finds three paragraphs detailing the basis for enhanced productivity due to increased CO2–even the IPCC recognizes that CO2 can act as ‘plant food’; two paragraphs on the interaction of higher CO2 with higher temps and changes in precipitation; and so forth. In each case, the summary cites studies showing what is claimed.

    Again, uncertainties are clearly acknowledged–for example:

    Finally, the TAR concluded that the economic, trade and technological assumptions used in many of the integrated assessment models to project food security under climate change were poorly tested against observed data. This remains the situation today…

    In short, you can drill down and see what the scholarship says.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:31 PM

  536. Michael W asks “aren’t you the least bit interested in what the temperature would be optimal for the planet?”

    Which is an astoundingly stupid question.

    One that I’ve repeatedly heard asked by those who have already asserted that climate is too complex for us to know nearly enough about earth’s climate system to be able to predict how much warming we can expect–if any, let alone predict what the consequences of that warming might be, or that those consequences will be harmful.

    Yet the question assumes that we can know enough to not only decide what temperature would be optimal–never mind for whom, but to actually aim for that temperature, i.e. to actually control climate.

    It’s a monumentally stupid question.

    Now, a smart question would be to ask what temperature would be optimal to maintain the immense and incredibly rich and diverse range of life that currently exists on the planet, here, now, today, and how to go about preserving the climate regime that produces that temperature.

    Now that’s a question I’ve never heard asked by the likes of Michael W.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:56 PM

  537. Kevin:

    Do I think the SPM will ‘hold up over time?’ I find that a curious question.

    Yes, indeed, because it presumes that knowledge is static, rather than growing.

    Obviously, things might be a bit worrse, or a bit less worse, than is outlined in the SPM.

    The SPM would only be “overthrown”, if that’s the point, if the underlying physics behind climate science is overthrown.

    I’m even less doubtful than before reading today that the CERN results showing faster than light travel by neutrinos might be scuttled by a loose fiber optics connection.

    Overturning mainstream science is difficult.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:07 AM

  538. 508 SA said, “I think you are mistaking deliberate dishonesty for “ignorance”.

    Someone who is shown to be ignorant might well be “ashamed” of having asserted “superiority”.

    Someone who is deliberately lying probably won’t be ashamed.”

    That is almost as ridiculous as your claim that we could replace 25-45% of fossil fuels with renewables in 5 years. I’m sure you think we could design new systems, build the factories, work out all the kinks, build all the windmills and solar collectors, find and purchase land and right of way, and install everything, including massive amounts of transmission lines and storage. Of course, you’re just plain wrong. Even at 2.3%, we’re having problems absorbing wind power peaks. Many components are built overseas and their availability won’t increase fast enough no matter how much you want it to. Multiplying our capacity by ten times in 5 years is just plain loony tunes, what with transmission lines alone taking 6 years or so to approve and build (ie, your plan must do without new transmission lines!), and smart grid appliances needing at least another decade to incorporate in significant quantities. Remember, the first 2.3% of sites selected were the best sites. Every 2.3% additional will be on worse sites with longer and more tenuous transmission routes. I saw one quote that 40TWh of wind power was curtailed (destroyed/not-generated) in 2011, while a mere 95 TWh was produced. Yes, over 40% additional wind production was just dumped because 2.3% of total production was just too big to incorporate in the current system. (I welcome better data – the numbers seem too high, but it’s the only data I found)

    The above doesn’t make you dishonest. In the same fashion, skeptics believe what they say. Like you, skeptics aren’t dishonest, just wrong. You do the debate much harm by calling 50% of the population of the USA dishonest enough to deliberately bring about great harm to humanity and the planet. No, skeptics aren’t some evil mutation bent on the destruction of “your” planet, just as you aren’t trying to destroy the economy of the USA, even though your plan would surely result in just that. Skeptics just believe that negative feedbacks likely equal or exceed positive feedbacks, which is certainly more reasonable than your 5-years-to-renewable-nirvana theory.

    Comment by RichardC — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:43 AM

  539. Balasz–After stating your expertise in hydrology, you write: “Water resources are under numerous anthropogenic threats that are far more prevalent than climate change will ever be.”

    I fully accept that human impacts are severe–that, for example, some rivers now may fail to reach their natural outlets due to human withdrawals and other interferences. (Off the top of my head, I believe that the Rio Grande comes close to this at times, and I know I’ve read of other cases, some more severe.) Many, many other waterways are fouled with various toxic substances, or eutrophied to the point of anoxia. And then there’s the issue of groundwater; in many places unsustainable agricultural practices see water tables dropping steadily. In others, ground water may become contaminated with salt or industrial chemicals.

    I know this; you know this (and, I’m sure, could add much more detail.)

    Yet–as a hydrologist, tell me–how much water is transported annually by the Hadley cells? They’ve shifted poleward by up to 5 degrees so far since 1979:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/papers-on-hadley-cell-expansion/

    That’s something on the order of 350 miles.

    How much water stress has this already created for people?

    I note that the subtropical arid zone tends to be located equatorward of about 30 degrees, subject to various modifications due to circulation and hemispheric assymetry and whatnot. In the USA, that’s middle Georgia in the east, or, a bit further west, Austin, Texas; in Egypt, it’s Cairo, more or less; and in China, it’s Shanghai. Clearly, a lot of people are going to be affected by another 560 km poleward migration of the arid belt, which we may reasonably expect to see over the next 30 years.

    And what are the effects like on the ground? Well, we can’t be sure that the current Tex-Mex drought is attributable to climate change. It may be, or not–but it looks like what we can expect to see, so even if it’s ‘really’ due to natural variability, it nevertheless offers us a preview of what climate models tell us we can expect to see. This report–an official one from the Texas comptroller, which carefully avoids mentioning any link to climate change, citing AMO, PDO, and ENSO cycles–gives the drought cost for 2011 as $8.7 billion. It says that the costs by 2060 could reach $116 billion, and could result in net population loss for the state. This, from a report that ignores the points I raised above, and which is made in the context of one of a fairly wealthy state in the Union. (#24 in GDP per capita, to be precise.)

    Further south and west in Mexico, where the drought is also described as ‘the worst on record,’ the government is spending a planned $2.6 billion in assistance:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-31/carstens-watchful-for-impact-of-mexico-s-worst-drought-on-record.html#

    There doesn’t seem to be a readily-accessible accounting of the cost so far to the Mexican economy, but this story tallies a minimum of 60,000 head of livestock dead, with many more to follow, states that some small towns have been deserted, and adds helpfully that no-one is known to have died yet:

    http://current.com/green/93670998_mexico-drought-chokes-cattle-crops.htm

    So–if this is a preview (on a relatively small scale) of what we can reasonably expect from climate change, why are you so convinced that it’s nothing to worry about? Can you point to some study that constrains the effects I’m talking about? So far, you’ve only made unsupported assertions. Is there more? I wouldn’t mind some reassurance.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:44 AM

  540. “This report. . .”

    Didn’t link it. It’s here:

    http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/drought/pdf/96-1704-Drought.pdf

    And I notice that I misspelled “asymmetry.” Oh, well, out of today’s spelling bee.

    (Captcha opines “irksome.”)
    (And apparently I got the Captcha wrong, too!)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:52 AM

  541. Balazs,
    What I object to is your insistence that a decision to mitigate climate change necessarily precludes tackling other critical issues. This is utterly false. Indeed, climate mitigation should be part and parcel of a strategy for developing a sustainable global economy–and there is no inherent obstacle tosuch a strategy. A warming climate will certainly worsen many other problems, and the pursuit of fossil fuels in ever more remote, hostile environments will also lead to severe environmental degradation.

    Want to address water quality issues? Great, let’s start by keeping the coal in the ground, as I have seen firsthand what mountain-top removal does to streams. Let’s start by decreasing impermeable surface–an action that mitigates the increased impulsive rainfall events while at the same time decreasing erosion, saving topsoil, recharging aquifers and decreasing polluted runoff into streams and estuaries. Let’s develop alternative energy resources and an energy infrastructure to accommodate them so that we don’t have to drill in the deep oceans and in the pristine waters of the Arctic.

    But when you simply assert that climate chante poses no threat–in contravention of the overwhelming majority of the evidence–you are speaking from ignorance. That I take issue with.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 9:10 AM

  542. I think that one of the problems Michael W. has is a lack of understanding of the IPCC process. The IPCC does not define the consensus. Rather it cites relevant research defining the current state of science and thereby reflects the consensus that exists already in the scientific literature. I will hope that this distinction is not too subtle to make an impression on him.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 9:13 AM

  543. Richard C.,
    So you do not think that refusal to consider the evidence is dishonest–especially when that refusal is motivated by ideology? As nearly as I can tell, the denialist’s argument reduces to the fallacy of argument from consequences. Were they honest, they would consider the evidence and then propose solutions consistent with their ideology. Instead they refuse to consider the evidence. Is their political philosophy so bankrupt that they must reject reality to maintain its validity?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 9:17 AM

  544. Michael W wrote: “I am here to learn and put my ideas to the test.”

    As far as I can tell, you are here to repeat bogus denialist talking points (which you call “ideas”), aggressively ignore information that shows them to be wrong, and insult and denigrate other commenters who have patiently and politely tried to help you “learn”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:49 AM

  545. RichardC says:”That is almost as ridiculous as your claim that we could replace 25-45% of fossil fuels with renewables in 5 years.” [further statements of dubious accuracy deleted]

    A look at Germany says what is definitely possible: (source wikipedia)

    Electricity generation from renewable sources has gone from 6.3% to 20% in 11 years (2000 – 2011)

    This leaves transportation out of course.

    Germany is planning for 35% renewable for electricity and 18% total
    energy by 2020.

    Your point is well taken, logically this means that since conversion to renewable sources can’t be done quickly we must start ASAP. :)

    Comment by t_p_hamilton — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:59 AM

  546. Clearly, the water problem wouldn’t be nearly so bad were it not for all those humans mining aquifers, polluting surface waters and so forth. We don’t need a long debate over this.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:09 AM

  547. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17617-wheat-gets-worse-as-co2-rises.html

    Not all the changes are bad however, says Högy: “The heavy metal cadmium also decreased by 14 per cent, which might be positive,” she says.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:10 AM

  548. Heat’s not good for wheat. What a surprise.
    http://www.environmentportal.in/files/file/Extreme heat effects on wheat.pdf

    Extreme heat effects on wheat senescence in India

    An important source of uncertainty in anticipating the effects
    of climate change on agriculture is limited understanding
    of crop responses to extremely high temperatures1,2. This
    uncertainty partly reflects the relative lack of observations
    of crop behaviour in farmers’ fields under extreme heat. We
    used nine years of satellite measurements of wheat growth
    in northern India to monitor rates of wheat senescence
    following exposure to temperatures greater than 34 C. We
    detect a statistically significant acceleration of senescence
    from extreme heat, above and beyond the effects of increased
    average temperatures. Simulations with two commonly used
    process-based crop models indicate that existing models
    underestimate the effects of heat on senescence. As the
    onset of senescence is an important limit to grain filling, and
    therefore grain yields, crop models probably underestimate
    yield losses for +2 C by as much as 50% for some sowing
    dates. These results imply that warming presents an even
    greater challenge to wheat than implied by previous modelling
    studies, and that the effectiveness of adaptations will depend
    on how well they reduce crop sensitivity to very hot days.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  549. 507 Kevin McKinney: Yes, the question is how will GW affect food production? Part of that is: can farming just move poleward, and up to how much GW? I would like to read a RealClimate article from some Department of Agriculture types on that. I expect the problem to be difficult. You can’t assume that you can chop down boreal forest, plant corn and get a good crop.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:15 AM

  550. RichardC wrote: “That is almost as ridiculous as your claim that we could replace 25-45% of fossil fuels with renewables in 5 years.”

    You are referring to a comment I posted January 31 on the discussion of “An online model of methane in the atmosphere”.

    First of all, it was not “my claim”. I was citing the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

    Second, you misrepresent my comment — and the NREL study that I cited. Neither the NREL study, nor my comment, asserted that we could “replace 25-45% of fossil fuels with renewables in 5 years”.

    As I accurately reported in that comment, the NREL study found that “it is ‘technically feasible’ for wind and solar to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation by 25% to 45% in five years — without ‘extensive additional infrastructure’.”

    So, what we have here is not me making a “ridiculous claim”. What we have here is YOU presenting a ridiculous distortion of my accurate report on a NREL study.

    Third, you then proceed with a litany of incorrect and inaccurate assertions about the wind and solar industries, for which you cite NO sources whatsoever — except for “one quote” that you “saw”, but which you are apparently unable to cite — which appear to be based on nothing more than ill-informed assumptions.

    For example, you assert — without evidence — that “multiplying our capacity by ten times in 5 years is just plain loony tunes”.

    In reality, as I also reported on that same thread, in the first three quarters of 2011 the USA installed over 1 Gigawatt of grid-connected PV, for a cumulative total of 3.1 GW — ten times the cumulative PV capacity installed as of 2005. So what you all “looney tunes” is, in fact, already happening.

    Please, try to more accurately inform yourself about the reality of today’s renewable energy industries — and if you are going to argue with me, please argue with what I am actually saying, and not ridiculous distortions of it.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:26 AM

  551. http://www.livescience.com/18624-collapse-mayan-civilization-climate-change.html

    The scientists found that rainfall in the region decreased episodically for periods as long as a decade at a time.

    “Our results show rather modest rainfall reductions between times when the Classic Maya civilization flourished and its collapse between 800 to 950,” said researcher Eelco Rohling, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Southampton in England. “These reductions amount to only 25 to 40 percent in annual rainfall, but they were large enough for evaporation to become dominant over rainfall, and open water availability was rapidly reduced. The data suggest that the main cause was a decrease in summer storm activity.”

    It appeared to Rohling that the ancient Maya had become reliant on continuous rainfall supplies, and had stretched the capacity of their farmlands to a fine limit based on normal levels of rain.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  552. Ray, I have to agree slightly with Richard C. here. I think it feels good in some way to call people in denial of climate change and it’s consequences dishonest.

    In truth, I think it’s much more prevalent for delusion to be the source of error than dishonesty. In some ways it actually feels better for me to believe its delusion, or self deception, because I feel like it allows for forgiveness and possibly a way foreward more easily than dishonesty does. And I do think it’s accurate.

    I do agree that ideology, especially when one is very certain or absolute in belief of it, drives the delusion, be it climate change delusion, delusions about the necessity to suppress free speech or academic freedom in the USSR, or whatever.

    Comment by Utahn — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:47 AM

  553. Utahn,
    The difference between deluded and dishonest is that one who is deluded lies to oneself as well as others. I do not buy that this makes them appreciably more honest–particularly when the cure for their delusion is readily available and their rationalization for not partaking of it is political or ideological.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  554. SA on MichaelW: As far as I can tell, you are here to repeat bogus denialist talking points (which you call “ideas”), aggressively ignore information that shows them to be wrong, and insult and denigrate other commenters who have patiently and politely tried to help you “learn”.

    Not picking on MichaelW personally but rather considering him as an archetype, a matter of interest is the anachronistic and stale nature of his remarks. Michael’s thoughts and opinions are generally redundant with those being expressed here by self-avowed skeptics many years ago. Despite the state of our understanding of climate moving forward, few if any of those choosing to disagree with this research ever seem to have anything new to offer.

    By itself this is an interesting phenomenon to think about (and less boring and frustrating) if we leave aside the subject of dispute and instead consider just the odd nature of these attempts at communication. We hear stale arguments being rebutted with ever more fresh and useful information only for those tired misunderstandings to be repeated yet again, as though nothing had changed. It’s as if the conversation were taking place across a gulf of time, with one end static, frozen and dead and the other alive and moving steadily into the future.

    “Can you hear me now?” “No, not as well as I could a year ago.”

    It’s actually quite a bizarrely fascinating situation, like talking to a corpse, or to a whole population with serious derangement of the hippocampus.

    Presumably this frozen moment of time quality is down to the extreme disconnect between steady scientific progress as exemplified by climate research versus fundamentally primitive and dogmatic talking points adopted long ago by contrarians, which by their nature are impossible to update. Denying a slew of established physical principle in a selective way to apply only to certain outcomes is arbitrary in a way that is not friendly to improvements.

    Comment by dbostrom — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:41 PM

  555. Michael W @497:

    despite the problems of ‘dropping soil moisture content, fire, drought, food, and other factors’ during the time the earth has warmed in the last half century, crop yields have increased. Why do you assume the reasons we overcome these negative factors won’t continue into the future?

    There are several reasons for the increase in crop yields since the 1950s. One is the vast increase in the use of fertilizers. It is unlikely that there will be much additional increase in yields from this source, especially given the rising cost of oil. BTW, the much-touted use of genetic engineering to enable wheat, for example, to fix nitrogen ignores the fact that fixing N requires a lot of energy that would otherwise go into producing grain (IIRC, about 30%).
    Pesticide use also increased from virtually zero, but many pests are developing resistance and it’s questionable how much scope there is for further increases.
    Irrigation has also increased, but many water sources are already over-taxed even before considering the effect of shifts in climate zones.
    The plant breeding that resulted in the Green Revolution was essentially a once-only event. There was little or no change in total plant productivity, but a shift from about 40% grain, 60% stem, leaf, etc to about 60% grain, 40% the rest. In part, the shorter stature allowed heavier heads of grain to be carried without the plants falling over with massive fertilizer applications. However, it relied on good (usually chemical) weed control as the plants are less competitive against weeds.
    AFAIK, there are no similar technologies on the horizon that could provide an equivalent boost to yields. On the other hand, heat stress causing poor pollination, and hence fewer grains, and early senescence in crops such as corn, rice and wheat has been reported and is likely to become worse. There is also the polewards shift of climate zones (reflected in the recent USDA update of plant hardiness zones) into areas that have neither the soils nor the infrastructure for crop growing.

    Michael W @506

    I am going to cast my ballot in November for someone with global warming action at the bottom of their priority list. I will be mislabeled anti-science and anti-environment not because I am, but because of peoples intolerance of differing viewpoints.

    The crucial point is not that people have a different viewpoint, but that they are unable to justify it and maintain it in the face of the evidence.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  556. dbostrom – I believe your observations relate to the “joys” of the internet – the recurrent iterations of stale contrarian talking points here have to be seen as the slow uptake by individuals previously oblivious to the real science, having been “finally” goaded by continuous media mentions to think a bit – there are only a few [obvious but unnamed] here that have stubbornly persisted in hand waving for extended periods, most are just drive bys that clutter the threads for a few days and disappear, they may have learned something?
    CAPTCHA: reduce irate :)

    Comment by flxible — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:37 PM

  557. Ray, “I do not buy that this makes them appreciably more honest…”
    I think you’re right objectively speaking, they’re not being honest with themselves, so it’s still dishonesty.

    But if I think of someone as “deluded” I want to help them, if i think of them as “dishonest”, I get angry with them. Probably because when I call someone dishonest, I’m thinking they are deliberately, connivingly trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I think that does occur, but much more rarely than delusion.

    Comment by Utahn — 24 Feb 2012 @ 3:37 PM

  558. Here is an interesting take on what I believe is the significant point of the Heartland exposé:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/23/behind-the-controversy-an-effort-to-rewrite-curriculum-on-climate-change/

    Being a teacher, I have woked very hard to try and make sure that what I teach students is both relevant and truthful. Any organization which works against these goals, something that Heartland is clearly doing, is incredibly offensive to me. I am glad to know about it, who is funding it, and to what extent they are able to get away with it.

    Peter Gleick may well have hurt his standing as a scientist. But there is another battle going on that must be won, also, if we are to avoid calamity, and a part of that battle hinges on good teaching. In the end, the second battle may prove itself to be more determinant of the future of this planet than the first.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 24 Feb 2012 @ 3:56 PM

  559. #534, 535 Kevin thanks for the comments I agree that it’s a quality document put together by competent people, I just don’t know how useful it is.

    What are your thoughts on the section on ocean acidification? They state there is a medium confidence on the negative aspects. Do you think they are being reticent of a clear and present danger? It almost looks like a new and developing area of research.

    Comment by Michael W — 24 Feb 2012 @ 4:07 PM

  560. #555 Richard, I think you’re missing a big part of your analysis: you could say a big part of the increased agricultural productivity is due to automation. Considering much of worldwide agriculture uses minimal amount of technology, I would say we have a lot of area for expansion.

    As to your last point, these are complex and nuanced problems we’re talking about. There are countless ways to use the data, and countless perspectives and approaches. The claim that there is only one correct viewpoint is false.

    Comment by Michael W — 24 Feb 2012 @ 4:17 PM

  561. #525, 542 Ray, the SPM is one sided because it looks at all of these crises from a climate mitigation/adaptation point of view. Which is fine – it’s useful. But read through them and tell me why most of them are not better viewed from a resource management perspective. Over the last century we have had to deal with resource scarcity, agricultural booms and busts, droughts, floods, dust bowls, wildlife management issues, etc. These are not new problems, and we know how to deal with them. And up to this point none of the solutions have been climate mitigation.

    I agree with you the reality of 10 billion people scares the pants off of me. But back in the mid 70′s when I was born, I would have been just as scared to know we would go from 4 to 7 billion in my lifetime (assuming I was a very world conscious baby of course). There are reasons to think we will cope.

    Comment by Michael W — 24 Feb 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  562. Michael W @ 560

    Richard, I think you’re missing a big part of your analysis: you could say a big part of the increased agricultural productivity is due to automation.

    It’s probably not as great as you think. Automation tends to be associated with extensive agriculture and reduced input of human labour, but I am far from convinced that it contributes much to increased yields per unit area of land. Can you give a documented example? The more productive systems of agriculture use intercropping that is difficult to automate. In a system in which, for example, corn is intercropped with watermelons (harvested before the corn) and the weeds are harvested for ‘spinach’, how would you implement automation and increase yields?

    There are countless ways to use the data, and countless perspectives and approaches.

    This is the same argument used by creationists when the evidence does not support them. Can you give even one example of data that can be used to support two contrasting perspectives, unless by ignoring relevant information? By ‘ignoring relevant information’, I include claims such as a glacier increasing in length providing evidence for colder conditions, while ignoring the increased snowfall that has resulted from warmer, moister air.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:10 PM

  563. Michael W wrote: “These are not new problems, and we know how to deal with them.”

    Given that the “old problems” you list continue to cause large-scale human suffering, and in many cases continue to worsen, it is far from evident that we “know how to deal with them” — except by suffering the consequences.

    Anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change IS a new problem, and in terms of adaptation, we do NOT know how to deal with it. (In terms of mitigation, we do, of course, know how to deal with it — easily, and at low cost, with numerous positive “side effects” for human well-being.)

    Your argument is that global warming is not a problem that we need to deal with, so our inability to adapt to it is not a problem.

    In support of this assertion, you offer repetitions of the assertion, and a complete absence of substantive response to the several commenters who have patiently explained to you why you are wrong.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:26 PM

  564. #562 Richard, here’s a quick example of the type of automation I’m referring to:
    http://www.igovernment.in/site/india-needs-farm-automation-pep-yield-38496
    It also looks like India has a lot of agriculture losses from poor infrastructure and lack of organized retail. Regardless, at least in India’s case, it’s not hard to see room for improvement, automation-wise, or otherwise. But I think we’re getting too far down the rabbit hole with this topic.

    “give even one example of data that can be used to support two contrasting perspectives, unless by ignoring relevant information?”
    We have data that the climate is warming, and we play a role. I think the following can both be responsible positions:

    1. Urgent action is needed. Continue pressure to limit emissions worldwide to a predefined limit (say 450ppm). But within guidelines that protect economies.

    2. More aggressive action is needed. Shut down all coal plants ASAP, switch utilities over to renewables, convert to EV’s and rail, drastically reduce air travel. Economic sacrifice is warranted.

    I can think of countless positions depending what importance you place on climate change. Regardless of what the data is, can we agree that our personal values determine our perspective?

    Comment by Michael W — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:00 PM

  565. Michael W.: “Over the last century we have had to deal with resource scarcity, agricultural booms and busts, droughts, floods, dust bowls, wildlife management issues, etc.”

    Certainly, but NOT ON A GLOBAL SCALE. The key to dealing with crop failures has been the ability to transport in food from elsewhere or to accommodate refugees. What we are seeing with climate change is decreased productivity in precisely those lands we have most counted on for agricultural surplus. On the US Great Plains, for instance, agricultural productivity has been maintained by massive application of petrochemical fertilizers and water from the Ogalala aquifer. These are both finite resources that are running out (and in the case of an aquifer, once dry, it will never flow again). The same is happening in the Punjab.

    Resource management assumes one has resources to manage and ability and leisure to transport them. That is precisely what climate change threatens. Michael, the IPCC draws on a wide range of expertise. They will not reject a good idea for mitigation or adaptation if it comes their way. Such ideas are scarce when dealing with such a global degradation. Even Bjorn Lomborg now says we need to address these threats.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:03 PM

  566. Utahn,
    Or as Napoleon said, “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.”

    The thing is that stupidity can explain anything–which means it really explains nothing. What we need to understand is the reason behind the stupidity.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:08 PM

  567. #563 SA, your comments tend to be a bit abrasive, and I tend to pass over your them. Just so you know I can’t prove to you my ideas aren’t just a list of talking points.

    “Your argument is that global warming is not a problem that we need to deal with, so our inability to adapt to it is not a problem.”

    I don’t have the info to make the argument that “a warmer planet with more co2 is not preferable” because all I have is a pessimistic list of alarmist what-ifs. The climate situation may in fact be dire, but until I can do an honest analysis that includes the positives, I can’t make this argument to myself or other people. Did you know about the study by Liu Liu & Liu?

    Comment by Michael W — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:17 PM

  568. #409

    A better metaphor …

    Not entirely. The accounting involved with the carbon cycle is similar to the standard situation in transport theory. In the latter case, thermodynamic equilibrium consists of a huge but balanced two way flow of particles and or energy, in the former you can still have a medium term steady state in the reservoirs. The dynamics are caused by a relatively small imbalance leading to a net flow and a change with time in the reservoirs.

    Heartland were apparently encouraging Wojick to tell the children about one of the large flows, while pretending that it is not cancelled by the equal and opposite one. If that happened in the real world there would be a catastrophic imbalance involving a huge rise in atmospheric CO2 brought to an end by the complete depletion of the carbon stores in the ground.

    Re #413.

    It would be interesting if Heartland claimed that the document from which I quoted is yet another fake. Would they use the opportunity to renounce the use of such accountancy tricks?

    Comment by deconvoluter — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:37 PM

  569. 550 SA talked about incorporating renewables into the grid.

    Actually, you said, “So it is “technically feasible” for wind and solar to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation by 25% to 45% in five years — without “extensive additional infrastructure”. That’s huge.

    I would add that distributed, end-user solar photovoltaics can have an even greater impact than this type of analysis suggests. Why? Because there is no need for the utility to “integrate” them, as there is with utility scale solar. As far as the utility is concerned, distributed solar simply looks like a reduction in peak demand.”

    I did NOT contend that 25% renewables could not be incorporated in 5 years. That’s a mere 5% more than the 20% do-nothing estimate that has been around. The “to 45%” I disagree with, but let’s just talk about your lesser claim. Your comment was that we could actually build it, not that such a percentage could be integrated. You said the 25-45% was TOO LOW since distributed solar “magically” doesn’t affect grid stability. Go ahead, tell us how distributed solar is in any way different than industrial solar with regards to grid integration. I’m waiting.

    Now, if you’re actually saying that the 20% potential integration is a wee bit low for the current grid but actually doing it is impossible in five years, then sure, you’ve added nothing and your comment confused the issue (and insulted me for no reason), but OK. Next time, you should say that we could do 25% instead of 20% in five years, yet even that is impossible due to other factors.

    So really, what was your point, other than to say that something that is impossible is possible except for reality?

    Comment by RichardC — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:39 PM

  570. Ray, I agree. The reason behind the delusion is usually being wedded to an ideology, fixing that no picnic.

    Comment by Utahn — 24 Feb 2012 @ 9:23 PM

  571. Michael W., you seem to presume that no one has ever thought of just “looking on the bright side” of climate change. Don’t you think that if there were significant advantages, somebody would have published them–or at the very least, placed themselves to profit from them? Do you really think that the ability to get a PhD is anti-correlated to optimism?

    Consider: All of the infrastructure of human civilization dates from the last 8000 years–the Holocene climate optimum, a period of abnormal climatic stability. It is adapted to–indeed, often entirely dependent–on that environment. Introducing rapid, chaotic change is most likely to adversely affect such highly adapted infrastructure. THAT is why the assessments of effects are predominantly negative. You may as well tell us to look on the bright side of Ebola virus.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:08 PM

  572. Michael W., this page has listed some (and been open to suggestions of more) peer-reviewed positive (and negative) impacts of global warming for the last two years.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:12 PM

  573. (reCAPTCHA problems – may be duplicate comment.)

    Michael W., this page has listed some (and been open to suggestions of more) peer-reviewed positive (and negative) impacts of global warming for the last two years.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:14 PM

  574. Mike W says:

    I don’t have the info to make the argument that “a warmer planet with more co2 is not preferable” because all I have is a pessimistic list of alarmist what-ifs. The climate situation may in fact be dire, but until I can do an honest analysis that includes the positives, I can’t make this argument to myself or other people.

    So you sum up every peer reviewed study you’ve been referred to in this thread as, and I quote “a pessimistic list of alarmist what-ifs”. You then proceed to say that you need to know all the so-called ‘positives’ before you can make an honest analysis.

    So, Mike, where are the positives? Point us to some peer-reviewed studies that haven’t been completely refuted by other scientists.

    Now, you may choose not to ever spend time looking for those, and that’s your perogative. Expecting the rest of us to wear the same blinders is, shall we say, unrealistic. And telling the people here who *have* studied it that they’re wrong – when you haven’t studied it yourself yet, is arrogant, insulting, and childish.

    Did you know about the study by Liu Liu & Liu?

    No, do tell. See, if you want people to take you seriously you need to provide some links – as so many others have to you in this thread. Maybe “the study by liu liu & liu’ would be enough for google to find unambiguously. I’m not going to waste my time looking for something that generic.

    Comment by David Miller — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:19 PM

  575. “during the time the earth has warmed in the last half century, crop yields have increased. Why do you assume the reasons we overcome these negative factors won’t continue into the future?” Michael W — 23 Feb 2012 @ 1:51 PM

    “Yet, if we look at the growth of irrigation in another way – as total area per thousand people on the earth – irrigated land leveled off sharply beginning in about 1962 and has even begun declining in recent years. World population keeps increasing at a frightening rate. Most of the major rivers that can be dammed have been dammed. So much water from rivers is being diverted that rivers like the Colorado, the Ganges, the Indus, the Nile and the Yellow and Fen rivers in China are running dry. Lakes are shrinking, like the Owens in California, the Galilee and Dead Sea in the Middle East, the Aral in Kazakhstan and Lake Chad in Aftrica. Underground water tables are dropping and irrigation pumps are being turned off in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, India and China. ” http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe50s/water_02.html

    Maybe Balazs would like to comment on whether he thinks, as an expert hydrologist, that continuing increases over the current ~60% irrigated cereals with concomitant yield increases is likely?

    In August 2001 International Food Policy Research Institute looked forward to 2020, and projected these prices – but the actual prices paint a less optimistic future.
    Crop……1997……proj 2020……observed Dec 2011
    (US$/metric ton)
    Wheat……133……..123……………..268
    Maize……103…….102……………..278
    Rice…….285…….250……………..580

    GLOBAL FOOD PROJECTIONS TO 2020 EMERGING TRENDS AND ALTERNATIVE FUTURES http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/books/gfp/gfp.pdf

    Kevin McKinney — 23 Feb 2012 @ 11:31 PM quoting AR4 – “Finally, the TAR concluded that the economic, trade and technological assumptions used in many of the integrated assessment models to project food security under climate change were poorly tested against observed data.” Naaaiiiiled it!

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:05 AM

  576. I can’t count the number of comments regarding the 25-45% renewable energy that could be installed in the next five or more years. I think, these are misleading calculations. The solution to climate change (that I don’t dispute as a serious problem, but I don’t necessary see it as the most urgent) is completely phasing out fossil fuels, therefore the question is not whether we can replace a tiny or not so tiny fraction of our current fossil usage, but if we can replace all. Going from minuscule to tiny (in other words raising the renewable’s contribution form a few percent to 10 or more is trivial, going all the way to the 100% is challenging. When I do the calculations, as I demonstrated in my earlier posts, renewables just fall short by all means if our goal is to allow civilized life not only for the developed few but the poor majority.

    I actually calculated and published paper on hydropower potential, which was overestimated in the past. All previous estimates (some of them published in Nature) estimated a total of 7-10TW potential hydropower capacity globally. This calculation is fairly easy to make and it was surprising for me that nobody did it before. Evidently, the potential hydropower is equal to the potential energy of the runoff, which could be calculated easily if one calculates the product of the global continental freshwater fluxes to oceans (~40 000km3/yr), the runoff weighted average elevation (275), density of water and gravitational acceleration. The end result is about 3TW. The disagreement with previous estimates probably comes from the likely simplification that previous estimates applied by taking the average elevation (which is about 550m) instead of the runoff weighted elevation.

    I intend to make similar calculation hopefully in the not too distant future about the potential hydro-storage capacity (either for some region or for the whole globe) that could balance the intermittency of the renewable power generation. I am not sure, if there will be enough potential sites to allow complete balancing between energy demand and availability. By all means, what I see is that renewables at scale that is needed are not pretty. Somebody argued in earlier post for decentralized PV installation. As I pointed out before James Hansen already did that and burned over $150K on his and his daughter’s house with disappointing results. I tried my own experiment at a much smaller scale, by installing a 9 sq.ft solar panel to run a garden fountain. So far, this experiment failed at the coast of $200 and I could not make this thing run water fountain in a little garden pond for more than five minutes. Recent PNAS paper assessed the hurricane damage to off shore wind turbines if they were built along the east coast. I did not fully digest the paper, but the claim was that all of them would be hit by hurricane at some time in the next 50 years.

    I am all for actions to combat climate change that are realistic. I would support full heartedly an open letter to presidential candidates to urge them to promote nuclear energy, which seems to be the only viable solution and educate people that they have a choice of either adopting life style of the Pennsylvania Amishes or accept the risks of nuclear power (that are similar with respect to alternative energy sources to the risk of flying commercial airlines vs. driving).

    Comment by Balazs — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:19 AM

  577. #559–Michael, I’m flattered that you think I’m worth asking about ocean acidification; I do the best I can to get as much of this straight as possible.

    But my doctorate is in music–composition, to be precise. I’m a smart guy, I take trouble, and I know something about how scholarship in general is supposed to work–professional literature, peer review, yadda yadda. But my background is grossly deficient, particularly compared with the ‘competent people’ who put together the SPM. So it’s really strange to be asked to critique it. As Hank likes to say, “I’m just a guy on a blog.”

    Perhaps I can give a reaction, however, as I did for the general case. So–

    There’s just a sentence in the SPM, so referring to the AR, I find this:

    Surface ocean pH has decreased by 0.1 unit due to absorption of anthropogenic CO2 emissions (equivalent to a 30% increase in hydrogen ion concentration) and is predicted to decrease by up to a further 0.3-0.4 units by 2100 (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003). This may impact a wide range of organisms and ecosystems (e.g., coral reefs, Box 4.4, reviewed by Raven et al., 2005), including juvenile planktonic, as well as adult, forms of benthic calcifying organisms (e.g., echinoderms, gastropods and shellfish), and will affect their recruitment (reviewed by Turley et al., 2006). Polar and sub-polar surface waters and the Southern Ocean will be aragonite under-saturated by 2100 (Orr et al., 2005) and Arctic waters will be similarly threatened (Haugan et al., 2006). Organisms using aragonite to make their shells (e.g., pteropods) will be at risk and this will threaten ecosystems such as the Southern and Arctic Oceans in which they play a dominant role in the food web and carbon cycling (Orr et al., 2005; Haugan et al., 2006).

    To me, that seems straightforward. The implications are alarming, but the language is “flat.” I have no idea, speaking first-hand, whether those facts are correct, but they are consistent with results I’ve read elsewhere; I have no reason to doubt them. I don’t feel that the authors are either ‘ducking’ (was that your word?) the dangers, nor overstressing them. It’s just a bald statement of probably consequences.

    Past reading makes me feel that the ocean acidification issue is relatively new science. I could (and should–but it’s late!) check that by reviewing the publication data of the supporting papers in the chapter bibliography. But, FWIW, this guy on a blog expects we will see much more research on the acidification question. For example, there was a paper fairly recently about getting a much more precise ‘map’ of the pH levels, which can differ quite a bit. That paper, and others no doubt, will likely make an appearance in the forthcoming AR5. It’ll be interesting to compare, to be sure. Maybe alarming, too–but we’ll see.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:31 AM

  578. #575–Brian, did you correct the dollar amounts for inflation? I’m hoping not, because it wouldn’t be quite so discouraging then… $133 in 1997 dollars is roughly $180 in 2010 dollars, so if no correction has been applied already, the picture’s about a third ‘less bad’ than would first appear.

    Of course, when the sign of the projection is wrong, the magnitude of the projection can only offer so much consolation–that is to say, not much at all.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:49 AM

  579. 575: Maybe Balazs would like to comment on whether he thinks, as an expert hydrologist, that continuing increases over the current ~60% irrigated cereals with concomitant yield increases is likely?

    I don’t have much to comment besides that these are exactly my reasons for objecting biofuels. The limited amount of arable lands are too prestigious to grow energy crops. There are talks about the next generation cellulosic biofuels, which could be produced from lower quality biomasses. While that sounds great at first glance, but those lower quality biomasses are the last refuges that we left more or less intact for natural ecosystems.

    Considering that the United States already burns 40-50% of the corn as biofuel and the fact the half the food produced are thrown out, I would argue that we can grow enough food to feed the world’s population. I was raised to regard throwing out food as a sin. While population went through a rapid growth in the last hundred years (doubling roughly every 40 years) the rapid growth has stopped about the time Paul Ehrlich published his famous “Population Time Bomb”.

    It is indeed an irony that the first sign of sub-reproduction fertility rate (less then two child per woman) was first reported exactly at the same time in Sweden, when Paul Ehrlich published his book. Demographers did not want to believe their eyes and assumed that this is only a hiccup due to life style changes longer time to complete education, improved family planning, etc. It wasn’t. Instead, other developed nations followed (Germany at 1.6, Italy at 1.4 child per woman). Developed nations are facing the problem of declining and aging population.

    The latest UN population projections for 2050 is 9billion and 10billion for 2100. Only 18% of the population maintains high fertility rates (3+ children per woman) and the two child is the norm even in developing countries. Everybody on this list should watch Hans Rosling on http://www.ted.com, who was one of the panel member at the AAAS conference in Vancouver, Canada that I referred before. Incidentally, that 18% is the remaining poorest part of the population.

    I think, I said this before in my earlier posts, that wealth appears to be an efficient contraceptive, or to put it more bluntly, man with remote control make fewer babies. I tend to believe that we are lucky that the world did not listen to scientists in the last twenty years and the developing world chose economic growth, which elevated billions out of poverty. It also allowed the steady reduction of their fertility rate, which does not have immediate impact because population is still growing fast primarily due to continued increase in life expectancy, but ultimately people will start to die and the population will level out. The rapid growth allowed a leveling at 10billion (according to the latest estimates) as opposed to 12-14billion that was predicted in the past, that is significantly fewer people to feed down the road. I realize that I would be naive to say that the renewable subsidies would have been better spent to expedite the economic growth of the poor, so the population would have peaked at 8-9billion.

    The developing world seems to be on the right path in a number of ways. Many countries with significantly lower GDP or energy use than the US achieved comparable life expectancy and child mortality to countries in the developed world. They seem to follow a much more dampened environmental Kuznets curve (roughly speaking environmental pressures increase until nations reach certain level of GDP, when they can start to afford to invest in preventing environmental degradation). In other words, they do less damage before they start to care about their environment.

    Comment by Balazs — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:04 AM

  580. Upthread: Peter Gleick may well have hurt his standing as a scientist.

    Some part of Dr. Gleick’s conscience appears to have summed up a risk assessment of the grand multi-body problem of colliding facts, ideology, policy and animal appetites we’re now facing and concluded that despite other compunctions the time has passed to play like a perfect gentleman. Faced by dirty fighters who are neither inclined nor compelled to fight according to Marquis of Queensbury rules, what are we to do, after all?

    Any given person’s anxiety will eventually succumb to their apprehension of growing risk willfully imposed by others. Individual responses will vary; some will head for the hills like cowards, some will fight against that risk by various ways and means frequently chosen by the opposition itself.

    Dr. Gleick’s highly informed perceptions of the specific risk we’re facing from climate change makes his transition from calm discussant into a more active role quite notable. We’ve had it repeatedly explained to us in painful detail that our behavior with regard to carbon dioxide emissions will certainly impose a cost measured in acute human misery along the full spectrum from death through to impoverishment. We can’t see into Gleick’s mind, but it seems as though fear for the future overrode his inhibitions against fighting, even as the option of flight proved lacking.

    Despite what we know of the risky behaviors being actively and perniciously promoted by such as the Heartland Institute, we hear from numerous and otherwise unlikely quarters gasping complaints that Dr. Gleick has somehow transgressed beyond the pale, has suffered a serious lapse of comportment. Indeed, only today the Washington Post described professional ethicists experiencing the vapors and decrying Gleick’s actions, even as they’re oddly silent on the far worse costs being imposed on us all by the Heartland Institute and its ilk. Meanwhile others with much more practical involvement in the disputes arising from being forced to live on the planet with greedy liars are also finding their apparently dainty feelings offended by Gleick’s action; many in the scientific community are being quite quick to tut-tut Gleick, faster even than they are at thinking. The lopsided viewpoints on display here are simply flabbergasting. Where are the squeals of outrage against the continuous, steady stream of lying fossil fuel lobbyists slithering between the Senate and the House and molding scientific funding and public policy into fiction purely for personal gain? Which ethicists have gone on record condemning AEI’s perversion of truth and the law in pursuing climate scientists via spurious litigation?

    Presumably we’re supposed to understand that Gleick’s scientific work is somehow going to suffer from faulty compartmentalization, that his willingness to use trickery in exposing Heartland’s heartless activities infects his work. Does it? How about Richard Feynman, then? Feynman was celebrated for his prowess with cracking safes, but in point of fact a little deception was involved in that work. Here is gratuitous untruth employed by a scientist with a stellar career, deception practiced only for the purpose of mystifying and impressing an audience; is Feynman’s reputation and more importantly his body of professional work sullied because he was sometimes economical with the truth in his private life?

    So what of the moral and ethical calculus needed to transgress boundaries of acceptable behavior, the hubris of concluding that rules cannot apply in certain situations? Again, let’s look to Feynman, who performed his safecracking feats while busily working on a weapon of mass destruction he was certainly intelligent enough to understand would not confine its horrific effects to willing combatants. Feynman performed some equations in his head that lead him to believe this behavior to be acceptable even as his compunctions told him he was doing wrong. In Gleick’s case, his action seems to be directed to an outcome arguably at least as positive as that which caused Feynman to ignore certain signals from his own conscience; is Feynman morally and ethically the better or the inferior compared to Gleick?

    I frankly don’t understand why Gleick is being pilloried for following to its logical and arguably ethical conclusion his full understanding of both the risks we’re facing and the asymmetric nature of the struggle for and against CO2 mitigation. The world of facts tells us that a huge toll of human suffering is virtually certain without forceful mitigation action even as the same facts say that the opposition to dealing with this problem is perfectly okay employing lies and deceit in pursuit of their objective. Yet despite this we’re supposed to get our shorts in a twist over Gleick’s minor trickery in shedding some light on the Heartland Institute? Come again?

    It would be ever so nice if “thinktanks” such as Heartland were compelled to tell the truth, if they were made to be more transparent, if many trillions of dollars per year had not been found to have a vast, previously hidden cost, if the people controlling that money were reasonable, if the world were much more perfect. It’s not a perfect world; the fossil fuels revenue at stake here has thoroughly corrupted the people in charge of it and attempts to reason with them or treat them with the same ethical and moral compunction we apply to nuns and orphans is about as effective as suggesting another meal to a hungry crocodile staring you in the eye. Pretending and behaving otherwise is simply to be a meal. Run or fight, but don’t imagine that playing nice is going to work.

    Comment by dbostrom — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:39 AM

  581. 558 Craig Nazor: Thank you.

    564 Michael W: Personal values: I value the lives of my descendants.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:06 AM

  582. I took my lead on this issue from this very website. Anything less than 50 years and you are looking at weather patterns NOT climate change. The short term thinking and vested interests of those with power, and those with hidden agendas, point to the weather patterns and say “this is your evidence?” Because of democracy, freedom of speech, and a change in government every 5 years, there can be no long-term planning. By long term I mean several generations. That will take a big paradigm shift for something like the United Nations to take a “world” lead on behalf of the all nations who will be impacted if nothing is done.

    Comment by Rayg — 25 Feb 2012 @ 8:03 AM

  583. RichardC wrote:

    “… let’s just talk about your lesser claim … Your comment was … You said … if you’re actually saying … your comment confused the issue … you should say that … what was your point, other than to say that something that is impossible is possible except for reality?”

    With all due respect, you are going on and on and on about “MY” claims, and what “I” said — and you are ignoring the fact that everything that “I” wrote was a direct quote from a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, which your replies have conspicuously failed to acknowledge. None of it was “MY” claims.

    I have linked to that study repeatedly. I encourage you to read it. If you then wish to make a case that the NREL’s analysis of the potential for reducing GHG emissions by integrating more wind and solar into grid over five years is out of touch with “reality” and “impossible”, please do so.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 25 Feb 2012 @ 11:40 AM

  584. RichardC wrote: “tell us how distributed solar is in any way different than industrial solar with regards to grid integration”

    Because in the distributed applications that I am referring to, the solar-generated electricity is used on-site, and never enters the grid, so there is no need to “integrate” it.

    As far as the grid is concerned, it’s simply a reduction in demand. And moreover, it’s a reduction in demand that is very predictable, and that generally occurs during times of peak demand (e.g. hot sunny days when air conditioning use is high).

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 25 Feb 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  585. free speech; academic freedom; advocacy science; freedom of the press.

    Free speech may be lies and deception — no problem, it’s protected (US law), including very loud speech by corporations drowning out meat people.

    Academic speech can be free but if deceptive, or even if left uncorrected once evidence is available, problems arise.

    Advocacy science can be deceptive, and can be left uncorrected despite the availability of evidence, it’s high paying work, nobody does it for free.

    The press is free to print, and to dig for, whatever it can discover.

    These are not all the same thing.

    It’s which hat you’re wearing that determines the rules you’re playing under.

    Now — can Glieck claim the privileges of a journalist?
    Can Heartland claim Glieck is an advocacy scientist?
    Can Heartland claim free speech so they can make up anything they like, and no fault no foul?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2012 @ 11:48 AM

  586. Oho. Payola is the word for it, in journalism:

    “… he conceded that he had in fact received an honorarium of $1,000 from the Heartland Institute, and that it had also paid his airfare and hotel bill.

    So why did he not declare these interests when he wrote his glowing article about the Heartland Institute’s conference?

    He replied: “How the hell can you accuse me of having undisclosed interests when I haven’t hidden a thing?”

    I pointed out that Private Eye takes a rather different attitude.

    “I don’t believe that you’re writing this,” he replied. “The amount of money was so unimportant. It all vanished in a week. Like many other people in this world, I am under no obligation to declare an interest when it is not strictly relevant to the matter in hand.”

    “But this was strictly relevant to the matter in hand,” I said.

    At this point, with characteristic understatement, he started comparing me to the Gestapo and the Stasi. Perhaps he now sees the magazine he founded in the same light.

    But this is not quite the end of the matter. …”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2012/feb/24/christopher-booker-heartland-climate

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2012 @ 11:54 AM

  587. Michael W @564

    here’s a quick example of the type of automation I’m referring to:
    http://www.igovernment.in/site/india-needs-farm-automation-pep-yield-38496
    It also looks like India has a lot of agriculture losses from poor infrastructure and lack of organized retail. Regardless, at least in India’s case, it’s not hard to see room for improvement, automation-wise, or otherwise.

    The link was to a puff piece that made no specific mention of just how automation could increase yields. If it’s not hard to see how automation could improve yields, please give a specific example (yes, I know minor improvements are possible, but you have been implying improvements on the scale of those during the second half of the last century).

    I can think of countless positions depending what importance you place on climate change.

    Ah! So you are referring to the possible responses to a critical situation. I thought you were arguing that, depending on how you viewed the situation, the situation could seem trivial.

    Michael W @567

    The climate situation may in fact be dire, but until I can do an honest analysis that includes the positives, I can’t make this argument to myself or other people.

    Why do you assume there is a vast array of positive effects that people here are keeping secret?

    Comment by Richard Simons — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:18 PM

  588. I tried my own experiment at a much smaller scale, by installing a 9 sq.ft solar panel to run a garden fountain. So far, this experiment failed at the coast of $200 and I could not make this thing run water fountain in a little garden pond for more than five minutes.

    The technical term for the failure is “embarrassing localized incompetence.” “Couldn’t run for more than 5 minutes” reveals you had no clue about sizing the various components of your system, didn’t really think out your objectives. The funny part of the experiment is your conclusion that your own ignorance is descriptive of the rest of the world.

    Crusty, pragmatic ranchers and farmers have long been using PV pumps to raise water for stock. Maybe you should look at some ag journals for help and then have another stab at it?

    Comment by dbostrom — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:36 PM

  589. Ray Ladbury quoted Napoleon:
    [“Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” The thing is that stupidity can explain anything–which means it really explains nothing. What we need to understand is the reason behind the stupidity.]

    As a developmental pediatrician, I’m leery of guessing too quickly about cognitive ability when folks do or say things that seem … misguided. My preferred definition for ‘Stupidity’ is: “the trouble people make when they really do know better”. Motive is key, as in Ray’s “need to understand the reason behind the stupidity”.

    In this sense, malice may well be one of the reasons, along with self interest, self promotion, attention-seeking, intimidation, peer pressure, etc. People with mild brain injury, who may “know better”, often end up with a lot of trouble, usually through poor impulse control fed by peer pressure – but there may be less blame when physiology is part of the answer.

    The best application of the term here is for the folks who come prepped with contrarian talking points, and despite efforts to provide multiple sources of corrected information, choose to stick with their initial beliefs. Even there we can give some slack, if they go off to WUWT and leave us alone.
    But, there is that core few, who stay to lurk, waiting for chances to leap out with their same tired and discredited propaganda, who should not be surprised or offended to find their motives questioned, since they are so clearly choosing to be stupid.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 25 Feb 2012 @ 3:04 PM

  590. #589 Phil Mattheis

    Yes, it is hard to fathom the reason one would ignore information that is to ones benefit. Especially after repeated exposures to higher reason and stronger evidence. Thus the term denialist is applicable in such circumstance.

    [edit - less name calling please]

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Feb 2012 @ 7:00 PM

  591. re: 585 Hank
    Heartland is accorded the privilege of tax-exempt operation and its donors the privilege of getting charity deductions … and there are rules. See Fake science, …, section 0.4 which quotes some of them, especially IRS-1E – IRS-4E.

    Comment by John Mashey — 26 Feb 2012 @ 1:14 AM

  592. > I took my lead on this issue from this very website.
    > Anything less than 50 years and you are looking at
    > weather patterns NOT climate change.

    Bzzzt! cite needed.
    What “this very website” info are you referring to?
    Where do you get “50 years”?
    Where do you get “weather patterns NOT climate”
    It’s not like there’s a simple change at 50 years for everything.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Feb 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  593. On free speech and all that.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 26 Feb 2012 @ 4:22 PM

  594. John, Ray, Kevin, and dhogaza,
    Since we all claim the APS statement supports our viewpoint on AGW, it is time to compare just what these viewpoints are. While I cannot say that the entire statements support my views, I agree with the following:
    “While there are factors driving the natural variability of climate (e.g., volcanoes, solar variability, oceanic oscillations), no known natural mechanisms have been proposed that explain all of the observed warming in the past century.” The key word in this sentence is ‘all.’ I have never claimed that ‘all’ the warming was natural, but that a significant portion was.
    “The uncertainty in the estimates from various climate models for doubling CO2-equivalent concentration is in the range of 1°C to 3°C.” Interestingly, when I present research showing climate sensitivity is in the middle of this range, I am labeled a ‘denier.’
    “it is increasingly difficult to rule out that non-negligible increases in global temperature are a consequence of rising anthropogenic CO2.” Not exactly a hearty endorsement, but I have no issues with this.
    “an enhanced effort is needed to understand both anthropogenic processes and the natural cycles that affect the Earth’s climate.” Most definitely! But why do so many claim that natural cycles are irrelevant or figments of someone’s imagination.
    “more extensive and more accurate scientific measurements are needed to test the validity of climate models to increase confidence in their projections.” Agreed! Especially since the climate models have predicted higher temperatures than observed.
    I ask you, do you agree?

    Comment by Dan H. — 27 Feb 2012 @ 11:50 AM

  595. #587 Richard, let’s take rice as an example. According to Wikipedia, a lot of rice is harvested by hand and would benefit from mechanical harvesting (automation).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice
    “In most Asian countries, where rice is almost entirely the product of smallholder agriculture, harvesting is carried out manually, although there is a growing interest in mechanical harvesting”

    According to the FAO,
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/T0522E/T0522E05.htm

    “…80 to 160 man-hours per hectare are calculated as the average time required for manual harvesting of rice.”

    vs

    “…work capacity of these machines…about 2.7-4.5 hours per hectare…”

    So at least speaking in terms of productivity there is definitely room for growth. This doesn’t necessarily convert directly to an increase total output, but I would put my money on more output as much of the worlds agriculture gets mechanized. This seams elementary, and not hard to imagine, and I would not like to spend any more time on this subject.

    Comment by Michael W — 27 Feb 2012 @ 1:24 PM

  596. #571 Ray, I would argue that the climate is not as stable as you portray. It is better characterized as chaotic, episodic, and nonlinear (eg Pete’s example at 551). Especially at the local and regional level. I imagine your next point would be that climate is more stable and on longer time frames, and at the global level. But in terms of stress to most ecosystems, the local and short term effects(maybe time frames of 2-10 years) matter more.

    Comment by Michael W — 27 Feb 2012 @ 1:37 PM

  597. #571 Ray,
    ” you seem to presume that no one has ever thought of just “looking on the bright side” of climate change. Don’t you think that if there were significant advantages, somebody would have published them–or at the very least, placed themselves to profit from them?”

    From what I see, there are actual studies that show positives. You just won’t get wind of them from people pushing for climate action.

    Comment by Michael W — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  598. Michael: the example you gave was of increasing output per hour of labour. I have yet to see an example of automation that could make a non-trivial impact on yield per unit area in the third world. The one possible benefit I see is in ground preparation before planting. Remember, in most of these countries there is plenty of labour around, while automation leads to the transfer of wealth from areas of subsistence farming to industrialized and oil-producing areas. I see the idea that automation will result in a useful improvement in crop yields as being a widespread, well-promoted fallacy. Hoping there will be gains from automation seems a very tenuous reason for assuming that yields will continue to increase, especially when other factors (e.g. soil erosion, failing water supplies, increasing fuels and fertilizer costs) are also taken into account.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:14 PM

  599. > chaotic, episodic, and nonlinear

    Citation unlikely.

    An ecology text will describe natural variation, from the paleo record on what lived where under what conditions over a very long time span, and how fast changes occur.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:21 PM

  600. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/02/06/1116619109.short
    February 13, 2012
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1116619109
    PNAS February 13, 2012

    Global climate evolution during the last deglaciation

    “… Here we summarize a major effort by the paleoclimate research community to characterize these changes through the development of well-dated, high-resolution records of the deep and intermediate ocean as well as surface climate. Our synthesis indicates that the superposition of two modes explains much of the variability in regional and global climate during the last deglaciation, with a strong association between the first mode and variations in greenhouse gases, and between the second mode and variations in the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. “

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:28 PM

  601. #595 Michael W

    You are merely arguing a semantic perspective bias.

    Climate is both inherently stable and predictable whereas weather is chaotic.

    I think your reference to linearity is misplaced here.

    It is easy to predict that winters are generally colder than summers… or have you found it otherwise on the planet you are from?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:46 PM

  602. Maybe I should say becoming increasingly predictable, based on the aspect of climate in question, time parameters, forcing, and resultant expected.

    The word predicable seems to have become a topic of dispute and certainly indicative is a more accurate term, but still a particular regions winter is generally colder that it’s summer.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:53 PM

  603. But in terms of stress to most ecosystems, the local and short term effects(maybe time frames of 2-10 years) matter more.

    The older we become, the more often a reasonable answer seems to be “it depends.”

    Global Extinction: Gradual Doom as Bad as Abrupt

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:55 PM

  604. Michael W wrote: “From what I see, there are actual studies that show positives.”

    And in your comments here, you have cited exactly how many of these studies that you “see”?

    Compared to how many studies cited (and linked) by other commenters here, showing that “negatives” will overwhelm any “positives”, which your comments have consistently ignored?

    Michael W wrote: “You just won’t get wind of them from people pushing for climate action.”

    Yes, you have made it quite clear that you are accusing the climate science community — or climate activists, or whoever it is you mean by “people” — of deliberately hiding all the studies that show global warming will be “positive”.

    But it’s hard to take that accusation seriously when you haven’t showed that such studies exist.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Feb 2012 @ 3:01 PM

  605. Michael W. @596. Still trolling, I see. You’ve already been brought up short on your Liu study; why not take the good advice given by numerous others and stop being contentious long enough to do some serious study of the recommended resources?*

    *Rhetorical question. Serious answer not expected.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 27 Feb 2012 @ 3:07 PM

  606. Michael W: “I would argue that the climate is not as stable as you portray. It is better characterized as chaotic, episodic, and nonlinear…. Especially at the local and regional level ….”
    The “local and regional level” isn’t the climatology discussed here, that’s “meteorology” – appears what you mean by “the climate” is actually the weather

    and “From what I see, there are actual studies that show positives. You just won’t get wind of them from people pushing for climate action.”

    Would you please give us some links to these studies “you see”? As an agriculturist who’d like to see some climate action, I’d very much like to “get wind of them”.

    Comment by flxible — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:16 PM

  607. #597 Richard, as long as there is expansion of arable land, yield per unit area doesn’t have to increase. Both, however, appear to be on the increase. (India is an exception – not much room for arable land expansion.)

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/004/y3557e/y3557e08.htm
    “It is often suggested that the world may be heading towards shortages of suitable agricultural land. FAO studies suggest that this will not be the case at the global level, although in some regions and areas there are already serious shortages, and these may worsen.”

    As for the rest of your comments you may have good points, but they are rife with pessimism. With that mindset, you wouldn’t have been able to predict great strides forward like the Green Revolution (for instance).

    Comment by Michael W — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:25 PM

  608. Michael W. says, “With that mindset, you wouldn’t have been able to predict great strides forward like the Green Revolution (for instance).”

    OK, I think I see your problem. You do not just “predict” something like the Green Revolution, because the Green Revolution doesn’t just “happen”. Scientists create it–and they create it because they see a threat, are pessimistic about the capabilities of existing techniques to meet it and work desperately to find ways to mitigate it. Some of those mitigations have unintended and undesirable consequences in and of themselves–e.g. accelerated depletion of one-time windfalls like aquifers and fossil fuels because what the Green Revolution did is turn these one-time windfalls into a one-time surplus of food. It is not sustainable.

    As to positives of climate change, yes there are a few. Growing seasons may be longer in parts of Russia. We will be able to ship across the North pole for part of the Summer, saving fuel. These advantages are very limited and mostly local. They do not offset the loss of much of the most productive lands for cereal production due to climate change–a threat, I notice, that your FAO blurb utterly failed to consider.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:37 PM

  609. #603 SA & 605 flxble the two studies I’ve been talking about are:

    http://www.geogsci.com/EN/abstract/abstract530.shtml …showing a warmer planet is a greener planet.

    and
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/JHM-386.1 …showing drought severity and its relationship with global warming.

    How do you personally incorporate these examples of positives and negatives into your thinking?

    Comment by Michael W — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  610. “From what I see, there are actual studies that show positives. You just won’t get wind of them from people pushing for climate action.”

    Hey, Michael, weren’t you asking us where the ‘positive studies’ were? If you don’t know *where* they are, how do you know *that* they are?

    In short, “cite, please!” I love to hear positive news.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:45 PM

  611. Michael W, I followed you link and continued to read after your quote.

    It continues: “Of course, much of this potential land is in practice unavailable, or locked up in other valuable uses. Some 45 percent is covered in forests, 12 percent is in protected areas and 3 percent is taken up by human settlements and infrastructure. In addition, much of the land reserve may have characteristics that make agriculture difficult, such as low soil fertility, high soil toxicity, high incidence of human and animal diseases, poor infrastructure, and hilly or otherwise difficult terrain.”

    They also write: “Data suggesting that food is getting cheaper may be flawed, because they do not reflect the environmental costs of expanding and intensifying agriculture; moreover, the failure to internalize resource costs may curb investment in agricultural research, holding back the potential for future growth in yields.”

    PS – gah, I may have duped again to forgetting the recaptcha

    Comment by Unsetteled Scientist — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:57 PM

  612. …you may have good points, but they are rife with pessimism. With that mindset, you wouldn’t have been able to predict great strides forward like the Green Revolution (for instance).

    Not even with the Haber process in plain sight, presumably? Too bad it can’t be invented again.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing out FAO. FAO’s own one-line summary of FAO’s thinking on climate change:

    “Ensuring food security will require substantial investments and action to adapt agriculture, forestry and fisheries to climate change challenges.”

    Rotten pessimists. Notice how FAO leans on the the phrase “will require,” as though even if climate change existed we might have to confront the problem or take some other such wet-blanket approach. “Action is needed now, inaction will significantly increase future costs” and other such defeatist thinking seems to pervade their worldview; they don’t seem at all infected with the sort of optimistic wishful thinking we all know will see us through.

    More pessimism can be found here.

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:09 PM

  613. #608–Huh?

    All your ‘positive’ link shows is that there has been a smallish increase in the Leaf Area Index over the last few decades. It’s not linked to warming in the abstract at all. Yes, of course there has been global warming during the same time-frame, but the increase in LAI in North America and Europe, coupled with decreases in (for instance) Southeast Asia, seem to suggest that land use has more to do with it.

    Where’s the ‘beef’–or soy?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:17 PM

  614. Michael W wrote: “SA & 605 flxble the two studies I’ve been talking about are: …”

    The first study, “Spatial and temporal variation of global LAI during 1981–2006″ (full text available here), finds that global “Leaf Area Index” data shows a very small increase (0.0013 per year) for the years 1981-2006, though with significant regional variations (e.g. strongly negative trends in areas subject to heavy deforestation like the Amazon and Congo basins, as well as “significantly” negative trends in “central Canada, west Canada, Alaska, Southeast Asia, southeastern China, central Africa, and central and eastern Argentina”).

    The study does not attribute the very small increase in global LAI to anthropogenic global warming. Nor does the study suggest that this very small trend is of any “positive” consequence to humanity.

    Nonetheless, this study has been widely cited all over the AGW denialist blogosphere as “proof” that AGW is a “good thing” because it will produce a “greener Earth” — all of which is hype, and none of which is supported by the study itself.

    The second study, “A Global Dataset of Palmer Drought Severity Index for 1870–2002: Relationship with Soil Moisture and Effects of Surface Warming” (full text available here), concludes, “These results provide observational evidence for the increasing risk of droughts as anthropogenic global warming progresses and produces both increased temperatures and increased drying … global warming not only raises temperatures, but also enhances drying near the surface, as is captured by the PDSI. The increased risk of drought duration, severity, and extent is a direct consequence.”

    Which is exactly what other commenters here have been trying to tell you. Why you think this study is an example of “positive” effects of AGW, I cannot imagine.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:47 PM

  615. Michael W, would you be so good as to take a look at this map (scroll down) and venture a guess as to how much of the blue hatched area is actually be suitable for growing wheat?

    Before you give us your best guess you might want to look up something called the Canadian Shield and contemplate the fact that Canada’s first export to the United States was most of the topsoil that once overlaid the shield.

    Next, could you take a look at this map (scroll down) and hazard a guess as to how much of the dark green area not coinciding with the blue hatched zone in the first map will actually be suitable for growing wheat within the next 30 years?

    But before you do you might want to consider how much carbon is presently sequestered in the boreal forest and it’s muskeg and peat soils.

    And finally, could you hazard a guess as to how much wheat that portion of the blue hatched area that would actually be suitable for growing wheat will in fact be able to produce in 2050 compared to how much wheat the yellow hatched area currently produces?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:52 PM

  616. With regard to helping Michael W., we’re taking the wrong approach but unfortunately due to circumstances of reality beyond our control it’s likely impossible to fix the problem.

    Based on experimental results, Michael’s basic problem appears to be that his brain is plugged in backwards, that his perceptions are nearly perfectly out of phase.

    Knowing as we do that all inputs to Michael’s primary cognitive functions end up pointing 180 degrees in the wrong direction, we may conclude that we need to provide Michael with extensive cites showing the significant positive benefits of climate change. Michael’s processing would then behave predictably, leading him to conclude that climate change will have significant negative, detrimental effects. Via this tortuous path Michael could then experience the world in a way that will stop him doing the equivalent of plunging off a precipice when he imagines he’s about to climb a staircase.

    Lacking the necessary research findings to provide the necessary opposite inputs needed for Michael’s net understanding to be synchronized with the real world, it’s a sad conclusion that Michael must remain stuck in his strange, confusing rut.

    On the other hand, it seems that Michael’s quite happy so perhaps it’s all for the best.

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 6:21 PM

  617. #613–My first thought was the same, SA, but I believe upon reflection that the second cite was the ‘negative’ one. Michael has been calling for ‘balance.’

    Personally, I don’t find much balance between the two–the latter has much more bad news than the former has good.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2012 @ 6:40 PM

  618. > cites showing … benefits

    No problem with that. The benefits have been enormous, and they’re going to be paid for by the world’s grandchildren.

    I’ve been raking in the benefits my whole long life. Drive across the country as a youngster, gas three gallons a dollar. Food cheaper than dirt.

    Ignorance was bliss, history was being written by the survivors, and whatever happened to get _us_here_now_ was all right with us.

    Ignorance was bliss while it lasted.

    Omelas

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2012 @ 6:45 PM

  619. I wrote “dark green area not coinciding with the blue hatched zone in the first map

    Sorry, that should have been “not coinciding with the Canadian Shield.”

    Comment by Jim Eager — 27 Feb 2012 @ 7:02 PM

  620. Michael W – those links are a fail, nothing positive there.
    As someone with actual experience of agriculture in one area cited to have 0.0013 increase in the LI, I can assure you there have already been more than enough negatives to offset that “positive”. One case being that years of increased lush leafage in southern Canada easily result in lavish propagation of tent caterpillars and leaf rollers, and attendant loss of tree crops – and the milder winters involved aid the over-wintering of said pests. Another major case in point is the Mountain Pine Beetle, steadily killing a lot of Canadian forests and aiding attendant forest fires, which of course could make turning the land to some type of subsistence agriculture easier, if you consider that “positive”.

    Others above have said it well enough, but I can’t imagine there’s going to be much advantage in the future to a climate where it’s difficult to produce the crops we need to produce in the places we’ve established to produce them – think infrastructure, the cost to establish a productive [if not profitable] orchard isn’t something many farmers can do every few years.

    Comment by flxible — 27 Feb 2012 @ 8:36 PM

  621. Yup.

    Read it and weep. Benefits of global warming?
    Why of course.. They were excellent.
    I’m afraid we haven’t left much for you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2012 @ 10:40 PM

  622. Climate Progress has apparently cut out comments. I will be coming to Real Climate now because I like to comment and read other comments of the community – instead of the ideas of one person. This should be a community effort and treated as such. I hope Real Climate accommodates feedback from readers in new and welcoming ways. Thanks.

    Comment by William P — 28 Feb 2012 @ 4:15 AM

  623. flxible @ 620, Mountain Pine Beetle, steadily killing a lot of Canadian forests and aiding attendant forest fires….

    Or is warming stimulating fire, not insects?
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/pine-beetles-and-fire-hazard-in-the-black-hills/

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 28 Feb 2012 @ 6:06 AM

  624. Or is warming stimulating fire, not insects?

    Both elevated temperatures and dead stands “stimulate”, or as I put it “aid”, neither are likely to be the proximal cause, which would mostly be increased lightening extremes and drying – talking about Michaels’ concerns, there are really no net positives for the forests in climate change.

    [Response:That's not true. There are several potential positive effects of climate change on forests, depending on location, forest type and climatic variable. It's not all negative.--Jim]

    Comment by flxible — 28 Feb 2012 @ 10:54 AM

  625. Climate Progress has apparently cut out comments…

    Are you sure? Comments at CP are working for me, anyway.

    Climate Progress does have a baroque design, is not so rarely loaded with scripts, extraneous DNS lookups etc. to the point that it’s effectively borked. Maybe there’s some bit of fluff or tinsel hanging up display of comments for you?

    Comment by dbostrom — 28 Feb 2012 @ 12:32 PM

  626. Rasmus writes, “Focusing on the real questions and doing science means being free, critical and sceptical – and not a climate of fear.”

    Indeed. And given that this comment thread was hijacked by the Gleick incident one wonders why Rasmus hasn’t amended the post or provided comment on the matter. Heartland Institute may not have been focused “on the real questions and doing science,” but does HI have the right to operate in a climate free of fear?

    Friends and colleagues of the contributors to RealClimate argue that Gleick’s tactics are ethically justifiable. Scott Mandia laments the fact that it was a scientist as opposed to a journalist who perpetrated fraud against HI. He recently tweeted, “Yes, but wish it were not a well-known climate scientist. Journalist would be so much better.”

    Gavin Schmidt has condemned Gleick’s behavior, “Gleick’s actions were completely irresponsible…” See above. IMHO, rightly so.

    Does Rasmus endorse Mandia’s position or Schmidt’s?

    Comment by DGH — 28 Feb 2012 @ 10:43 PM

  627. DGH,
    Many here have said Gleick’s impersonation was unwarranted and ill advised. This should be about the science. Having said that, I notice that all those who are “Shocked! Shocked!” were at best silent and in most cases actively gloating after the hack at UEA/CRU. I wonder at their newly found capacity for outrage.

    What is more, I would be interested in your take on what the documents reveal about Heartland–the narrowness of the financial support, the lack of scientific integrity and the plans to lie to children…well, they all sound just like the Discovery Institute’s campaign against evolution. I wonder where the outrage is wrt that. So, while were all expressing outrage care to comment on your feelings about UEA/CRU and the Heartland strategy for lying?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:36 AM

  628. #627–”I notice that all those who are “Shocked! Shocked!” were at best silent and in most cases actively gloating after the hack at UEA/CRU.”

    Yes. I haven’t actually ‘done the math,’ but I suspect there are those who have, against all odds, managed to increase their HQ–’hypocrisy quotient’–yet further.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Feb 2012 @ 9:23 AM

  629. DGH
    Gleick’s primary error was to do the dirty himself. Had he passed the first post off to an effective investigative journalist for fact-checking and expansion, the “irresponsible” charge” would not have been relevant – he’d still be doing all his day jobs; ‘Deep Throat undiscovered’. The comparison/contrast to East Anglia’s circus would have been even more stark. Heartland’s legal and moral failings would have been the focus, rather than sideshow.

    This society functions best with lots of sunlight shining into the dark corners. Scientific method is one source of that light; scientists do best when they look beyond expectations, at everything within and around the beam, observing, tweaking the model, making an adjustment and watching reactions…

    On a sporadic basis (no clear pattern), the things discovered accumulate into shifted paradigms for those paying attention. When the impact extends beyond the narrowed sphere of the investigators and across disciplines, the implications may be more political than scientific, and the non-scientists start asking questions (“global whatnow?”)..
    When political games appear to trump consistent, accurate, and honest science, the impact of powerless frustration can be intense.

    Besides, how do you go about finding an “effective investigative journalist” these days?

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 29 Feb 2012 @ 9:31 AM

  630. > about finding an “effective investigative journalist” …?

    I’d start by asking for ideas and help from these guys, they’ve proven they can do it well.
    http://theyesmen.org/

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Feb 2012 @ 11:48 AM

  631. P.S., be careful who you ask for help, some journalists are already ‘taken’:

    “… alliance between Stratfor and a number of mainstream journalists ….” http://theyesmen.org/stratfor

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Feb 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  632. Oh, and the YesMen page also leads to much else of interest.
    For example, about intentionally faking documents:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/feb/16/anonymous-internet

    “… the firm proposed to (according to a leaked document) “create a false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information, …. “create a fake insider persona and generate communications” …. even “create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second”….. passing off the faked documents they’d created as the fabrication of Change to Win.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Feb 2012 @ 11:59 AM

  633. DGH wrote: “does HI have the right to operate in a climate free of fear?”

    A liar is never free of the fear that his lies will be exposed.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 29 Feb 2012 @ 12:08 PM

  634. Lots of distracted flailing on Gleick. James Annan seems exemplary of many who have laid down law to the effect that sanctity of property trumps the value of lives and that we must defer to the wisdom and will of our politicians even when our politicians cannot or will not help us:

    His transgression cannot be condoned, regardless of his motives.

    I’m not going to bother rewriting comments I made at Annan’s site because the topic is growing stale, for me anyway:

    Even if one takes the position that the threat posed by climate change is exaggerated tenfold, the amount of dislocation imposed on subject populations will be notably costly in terms of additional misery and unhappiness. Heartland is selling the increased probability of such poor outcomes. We see that Heartland is not inclined or compelled to behave better, our politicians are no protection against Heartland’s transgressions. When is it permissible to commit acts of civil disobedience against Heartland of the most mild and nonviolent style, such as purloining documents?

    On a continuum of suffering imposed by the activities of an outfit of Heartland’s type, when -would- it be permissible to act against them, using deception if necessary? Is anybody willing to cast a judgement on that, in dollars or lives? Or is James’ requirement for virginal ethics absolutely binding in all cases?

    If it were not Gleick who’d done this but rather the outfit “Anonymous” (thus allowing the rest of us to arguably remain as anonymous cowards) would James object?

    and in response to a comment on my comment:

    “Can I can burgle Greenpeace if I happen to think they’re bringing misery on poor South Africans for opposing a coal-fired power station. We can’t be our own judge and jury on these things.”

    If our politicians refuse to protect us even while the preponderance of evidence says significant harm is being caused, there’s a case to be made for civil disobedience. That’s the situation at play here, while your hypothetical case does not compare to the case at hand. I’m sure there are better models you could use for comparative purposes.

    A simple reading of James’ rules seems to say that it would have been wrong for kulaks to have stolen documents from the NKVD in order to protect innocent lives. The risks in terms of lives at play in this case are similar.

    So, to be a complete jerk, I’ll ask if Stalin’s sanctity of property was more important than the lives of kulaks? If not, why is Heartland different?

    Comment by dbostrom — 29 Feb 2012 @ 1:00 PM

  635. Shorter Gleick: There’s a difference between Rosa Parks and a disruptive drunk on a bus. Refusal to acknowledge this is peculiar.

    Comment by dbostrom — 29 Feb 2012 @ 1:12 PM

  636. @Ray Ladbury

    If you haven’t seen it, check out Andy Revkin’s post with the illustration of the activist pushing the Status Quo boulder up hill. http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/the-other-false-balance-in-the-climate-fight/

    I like the simplicity of the drawing, but I disagree with the illustrator’s description that the opponent on the high side of the boulder has anything to do with the difficulty and that the activist experiences. The boulder has its own tremendous momentum that overwhelms any force the opponent might apply. The frustration with the opponent that the activist experiences is misplaced.

    More than a billion people live off the grid, billions more suffer a standard of living below mine and yours. Will they be denied access to light, heat, healthcare and communications? The grids in China and India are expanding. So what’s going to happen as more people, outside theinfluence of HI, gain access to electricity? Status quo seems tame compared to the potential of just that portion of a large boulder.

    In the case of CAGW, the Heartland Institute is but an ant beneath the boulder – Anthony Watts another ant, the Koch foundation another. You might be impressed by the ant army’s strength and organizaiton, but push as they might all of the ants in the ant hill couldn’t affect that mass. Along with the ants, you’d be advised to keep your eye on the threat of the boulder.

    According to consensus science, catastrophe looms for the village below. Yet, many activists and activist scientists demand to know “who is pushing the boulder” instead of worrying about how to save the village. Peter Gleick sacrificed his career on that point; he finds like minded people on this thread and elsewhere.

    Comment by DGH — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:13 PM

  637. @Phil Mattheis

    Except investigative journalists who have commented on the matter indicate that Gleick’s technique, being illegal, is beyond what would be sanctioned by their employers and their trade. His style is more the stuff of the Murdoch rags that were hacking phones and such. How did that work?

    Comment by DGH — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:22 PM

  638. DGH:
    “Except investigative journalists who have commented on the matter indicate that Gleick’s technique, being illegal, is beyond what would be sanctioned by their employers and their trade. His style is more the stuff of the Murdoch rags that were hacking phones and such. How did that work?”

    You make my point for me so well… thanks. An effective investigative journalist would have done it legally, and probably more completely, without all the distraction.

    But, would that have changed _your_ opinion of Heartland in any way?

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:35 PM

  639. DGH,
    I commend your concern for those less fortunate. What specifically have you done about their plight? Personally, I lived for 2 years in Africa doing development work.

    I will turn your question around. What are those newly on the grid to do when we run out of fossil fuels? How shall they cope with respiratory illnesses and heavy-metal poisoning brought on by burning of coal so they can be on the grid? And what good will being on the grid

    Ever seen the sun come up over an Indian village full of smelters? I have. The colors of the sun were pretty, but I coughed for days. Ever see what happens to a stream in Appalachia near a coal mine? I have. Ever hear of the Broadform Deed? Everybody in Appalachia has.

    The contention that we cannot deal with climate change and development is simply false. Hell, development is part of dealing with it. And it is not as if we have the choice of staying on fossil fuels indefinitely–they are finite. If we want civilization to last beyond the end of this century, we’d better figure out how to do sustainability. Climate change is part of that. Development is part of that. Maintaining economic growth with static population and limited resources is part of that. It is the way things have to change–and soon.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Feb 2012 @ 8:51 PM

  640. > investigative journalists who have commented on the matter
    Who?
    Where?

    > indicate that Gleick’s technique, being illegal
    Are you’re assuming this?
    Did you get a legal opinion from those journalists?

    Citation lacking.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Feb 2012 @ 10:38 PM

  641. Has anyone read Mashey’s recent report yet?
    Heard anything about it in the media?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 1 Mar 2012 @ 12:18 AM

  642. DGH,

    Gleick’s recent actions are going to be a very, very small footnote in history.

    However, recent history is FULL of egregious examples of unethical leaders and powerful political interests making claims that directly contradict known scientific facts to support their own grasp on political and/or economic advantage, usually to the detriment of all of those people about whom you claim to care. The Heartland Institute is a tool of those who wish to manipulate society for personal advantage by disseminating scientific misinformation. I find such acts far more despicable than anything Gleick may have done.

    The Heartland Institute, of course, is legally permitted to lie just as much as they would like, as are we all. However, I’m really suprised that you would defend such action, and one has to wonder why.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 1 Mar 2012 @ 2:50 AM

  643. I have to agree with DGH here. Looking at this incident from a public relations standpoint, it was a major case of self-destruction. Relate this to a political campaign. What causes more damage to an individual’s run for office, what his opponent says (which is often a wide stretch of the truth), or his own personal gaffes? The opposition is expected to present only that which supports their case. These types of mistakes only fuels their case. What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Rick Perry? IS it something an oppenent said, or does it have something to do with three government agencies?

    Comment by Dan H. — 1 Mar 2012 @ 7:09 AM

  644. Dan H., The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Rick Perry is that we have something in common: We’d both like to rescind the Treaty of Apamattox.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2012 @ 9:42 AM

  645. DGH wrote: “More than a billion people live off the grid …”

    Fortunately, there is a revolution in rural electrification in the developing world going on right now — with low-cost, village-scale solar photovoltaics bringing electricity to places in in rural Africa, India and elsewhere that have never had electricity before, and bringing with it enormous improvements in health, access to information, and economic opportunity.

    Electric lights instead of kerosene lamps. Refrigeration for food and medicines. Cell phone charging. Satellite radio and TV — and even computers and Internet access. Distributed, locally-owned solar power makes all of this possible for hundreds of millions of people in rural areas of the developing world who have NO prospects whatsoever in their lifetimes of getting grid-distributed power from large centralized power plants.

    This is one of the most important applications of distributed, low-cost, mass-produced PV — and it is occurring largely “under the radar” of most people in the developed world.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 1 Mar 2012 @ 11:40 AM

  646. 645 comments (and counting), and still very much on topic! Good on us all.

    Dan H -
    Public relations consequences may be interpreted variably, but have most impact on those new to whatever the topic may be.
    Personal ethics of one man vs self-serving ethics of an institute is a standard American plot line and usually favors the man as underdog.

    I suspect Heartland would prefer to have avoided the mess, rather than have to spin the notion that it’s all Dr Gleick’s fault, somehow.

    Absolute personal tragedy for him; Too. Much. Sunlight. for Heartland. By next week, ‘Gleick’ will have faded into background, while ‘Heartland’ is likely to dance around on the desktop for a while longer, as should be.

    (I should note that my previous comments about Dr Gleick should not be taken as assigning guilt for illegal actions – that still seems pretty unclear to me…)

    I’m hopeful that there are in fact a few “effective investigative journalists” now hard at work aiming to keep Heartland Institute in view, without distractions of layman like us arguing legalities, as if we knew. “Legal” these days seems to boil down to ‘whatever you can get away with’.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 1 Mar 2012 @ 1:50 PM

  647. Dan H,

    I think that politicians and/or corporate interests trying to force scientists and/or teachers to teach lies in a science class is far worse than anything you have mentioned in your post. So I would say that you and I have a substantial difference of opinion.

    Rick Perry is the governor of a state which is facing the severe effects of drought caused by anthropogenic global climate change. Yet Perry will not allow any scientist working for the state to mention this in any of their reports that provide information for intelligent planning of the use of water resources. This will severely impact Texas in very bad ways, and the process has already begun.

    So I would say that Rick Perry is the best example of scientific ignorance and denial among political leaders in the US today.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 1 Mar 2012 @ 2:17 PM

  648. By this point in a comments section, I have to wonder if there is anyone still out there…and had decided to leave it be. But, it really is too much of a perfect fit for the purpose, with Academic Freedom, Free Speech, Heartland, and Climate Change all in equal measures. It could even be taken as closure for this section; a logical extension of unmitigated contrarian escalation.

    ClimateSight.org has the story (among other places), about Carleton University in Ottowa (“Canada’s Capital University”, ranked as 7th in comprehensive universities in the country).

    CASS (Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism) released on Tuesday (2/28), an audit of a course at Carleton on “Climate Change: the Earth Sciences Perspective”. Their report can be found at their website: http://scientificskepticism.ca/sites/default/files/pressreleases/CASSREPORTClimateChangeDenialintheClassroom.pdf

    The CASS authors ( _legally and without pretense_) obtained transcript/video of the 12 lecture course by one Tom Harris, who counts among his credentials: Heartland Institute, Expert (as well as oil industry lobbyist…)

    They found 142 examples of unsupported claims about climate change made by Mr Harris or guest lecturers (each with his own Heartland connection), and have provided an extensive bibliography to counter the arguments, many of the same old we see here and elsewhere…

    Page 12 is the most directly relevant to this discussion, as it includes the university definition of academic freedom, which is meant to ensure that no one is prevented from expressing an opinion. However, that policy includes a responsibility, “Academic freedom carries with it the duty to use that freedom in a manner consistent with the scholarly obligation to base research and teaching on an honest search for truth.” The CASS authors released their audit as a way to bring some peer review into the process.

    Student responses credited the class for its clarity.
    No response was provided from the University, I imagine they’ll be a few minutes…

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 1 Mar 2012 @ 11:46 PM

  649. Phil Mattheis says:
    1 Mar 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Harris:

    Over $1100/credit hour to be fed rubbish from a person not remotely interested in conveying reliable information. A cursory check before giving Harris this responsibility would have avoided the fraud. Carleton ought to volunteer a refund for students who were victimized in this way.

    Comment by dbostrom — 2 Mar 2012 @ 3:14 AM

  650. Craig,
    I have a big problem with politicians forcing teachers to teach lies in a classroom. While I cannot say what is happening in your state with this regard, Michigan is taking a more objective stance. Recently, a text book was removed from classrooms because it promoted an activist’s agenda, rather than the science. Sounds like you may be dealing with the opposite extreme.

    Comment by Dan H. — 2 Mar 2012 @ 6:55 AM

  651. dbostrum:
    “Carleton ought to volunteer a refund for students who were victimized in this way.”

    There may be a pattern: Harris replaced Professor Tim Patterson, described as: “a trained scientist with an extensive publication record and numerous large research grants.” But, Prof Patterson shares other linkage with Mr Harris; he is also a Heartland “expert”, and both are members of several other contrarian organizations, which are described in some detail.
    (The thing maybe has deeper roots, with many more HI experts scattered about, sharing lesson plans and corrupting the innocent…another vast conspiracy – is it just me, or did yesterday seem like _April_ first, and again today? Maybe an earlier spring brings earlier foolishness? Is it CAGW?!?)

    The CASS authors were careful to note that they did not have access to material related to the Patterson version of the course, and would not speculate.

    University response will be interesting to watch – academic freedom in action, aiming for responsible consequences, without treading into censorship or worse. Maybe a campus-wide forum with real ‘balance’ and real science? This could be a compelling case study for a course in professional ethics.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 2 Mar 2012 @ 8:04 AM

  652. Michael W @607

    As for the rest of your comments you may have good points, but they are rife with pessimism. With that mindset, you wouldn’t have been able to predict great strides forward like the Green Revolution (for instance).

    I was a student before the main part of the ‘Green Revolution’ hit. Proctor barley had already demonstrated that increasing the harvest index could have a dramatic effect on yields compared to its predecessors, Cappelle Desprez, for example. It was fairly obvious that shorter wheat varieties could have a similar impact on wheat yields (long straw was no longer an advantage, with better weed control and little call for thatching straw). They were exciting times. I see nothing comparable now.

    From your link to a greener planet:

    The strongest increasing trend [in leaf area index, LAI] is around 0.0032 per year in the middle and northern high latitudes

    Do you know what is a reasonable value for LAI? It varies greatly, but is usually between about 2 and 6. So the authors are talking about a 0.1-0.2% change per year in the fastest changing areas. Hardly enough to assume it presages a second Green Revolution.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 2 Mar 2012 @ 10:29 AM

  653. This could be a compelling case study for a course in professional ethics.

    No, professional ethics are only expected of a selected few, depending on who manages to set the tone of chatter. Openly steal money from university students while maliciously stirring their brains, no problem. Gull the staff of a firm that vends dangerous lies as their business model, expect the worse, experience the withering fire of gossip-mongers.

    Comment by dbostrom — 2 Mar 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  654. Ever notice that in the eyes of Dan H. and his ilk “activist” is a dirty word. It seems that science is fine as long as nobody ever acts or even advocates acting on it. We should all be good and watch civilization crumble.

    [Response:The Roger Pielke Jr. approach to scientific behavioral norms in other words.--Jim]

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Mar 2012 @ 12:19 PM

  655. Dan H:
    “Michigan is taking a more objective stance. Recently, a text book was removed from classrooms because it promoted an activist’s agenda, rather than the science.”

    Since you have followed your consistent pattern, and refused to provide citation, (which I recall do not always, in fact exist, or say what you claim), I tried to find this recent ‘textbook removal in Michigan’.

    Not much luck in figuring out what you might be referencing:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/01/18/books-a-banned-michigan-school-district-considers-waterland-beloved/
    … relates to two books, Beloved by Toni Morrisson, and Waterland by Graham Swift, which are not banned (yet), but under review in Wayne County, MI. The issue here was not science, but sexuality; since one dealt with slavery along the way, the complaining parent recommended a nonfiction book about slavery as alternative for the English literature class. Community parents “overwhelmingly opposed the ban” according to that reference.
    The rest of the google search covered old news, texting while driving… can you help us out here, Dan?

    [There was this:http://mittenlit.com/2010/09/somewhere-banned-a-book-somewhere/
    but is a Michigan book-likers site describing "book banning as an author's dream" because of all the attention - probably not it either, huh...?]

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 2 Mar 2012 @ 2:11 PM

  656. Daylight at Last for Study of Diesel Lung Cancer Risks
    by Sam Kean on 2 March 2012

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/03/daylight-at-last-for-study-of.html

    “After 20 years of research and almost as many years fighting industry groups in court for control of their data, government scientists can finally publish two papers showing that underground miners exposed to diesel fumes have a threefold increased risk for contracting lung cancer. The study could have a significant impact on an upcoming review of federal and international safety regulations for exposure to diesel fumes.”

    Odd word to use — “fumes” — small particles, black carbon, aerosols?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2012 @ 7:40 PM

  657. P.S. to the last item:

    ScienceInsider – breaking news and analysis from the world of science policy
    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/02/journals-warned-to-keep-a-tight.html

    Journals Warned to Keep a Tight Lid on Diesel Exposure Data
    by Sam Kean on 17 February 2012

    “A protracted legal battle over an $11.5-million health study into whether diesel exhaust damages the lungs of miners has suddenly widened to take on scientific peer review. Editors with at least four research publications say they have received a letter advising them against “publication or other distribution” of data and draft documents. The warning, including a vague statement about “consequences” that could ensue if the advice is ignored, is signed by Henry Chajet, an attorney at the Patton Boggs firm in Washington, D.C., and a lobbyist for the Mining Awareness Resource Group, which works on behalf of the mining industry.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2012 @ 7:42 PM

  658. Hank: Editors with at least four research publications say they have received a letter advising them against “publication or other distribution” of data and draft documents. The warning, including a vague statement about “consequences” …

    Where are the squeals of outrage from The Auditors about chilling effects, intimidation?

    Oh, right, Patton Boggs is defending combustion. Burning=Good.

    Comment by dbostrom — 2 Mar 2012 @ 7:58 PM

  659. I’d guess Dan H. is referencing one of the “agricultural libel” stories:

    Pending “Veggie-Libel” Laws: Legislative Update
    Two food-disparagement bills are currently pending in the Agriculture Committee of the Michigan Legislature. One proposed measure, HB 4660, is a comprehensive food-disparagement bill with, among other things, a “scientific evidence” standard.
    http://cspinet.org/foodspeak/laws/pending.htm

    Or else he’s using his old tactic of asserting something he wishes for, figuring that others will find some citation for him.

    Dang, hooked again.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 2 Mar 2012 @ 8:11 PM

  660. Phl,
    The text book was titled “A Hot Planet needs Cool Kids.”

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/global-warming-book-for-seventh-graders-recalled-by-michigan-math-and-science-center/

    Comment by Dan H. — 2 Mar 2012 @ 10:25 PM

  661. Dan H,

    To be perfectly clear: there is a strong scientific consensus that anthropogenic global climate change is real and is happening now. The direct and indirect effects of the accellerating human release of CO2 into the atmosphere is driving the current observed warming of the earth. If this warming continues, on the whole it will not be beneficial to human civilization or vital planetary ecosystems. This is what science tells us. This is what should be taught in science classes at the appropriate age level (certainly by high school). Do you agree with all of that? You have very recently stated that you don’t. I believe that you and I have a significant divergence of opinion.

    There can be no such thing as “academic freedom” if teachers are prohibited from teaching a consensus opinion as what it is: a consensus opinion, or if unaccepted or discredited science is forced to be taught as legitimate proof of a significant controversy.

    What we are dealing with here in Texas is a governor who doesn’t even believe in evolution. (He has supported a state school board attempt to get “Intelligent Design” (aka Creationism) put in biology textbooks.) He also denies AGCC, and has censored, through various means, scientists employed by the state from including any mention of AGCC in their reports. Do you support that?

    With Governor Perry, whose background as a Texas A&M graduate (BS in animal science) would imply a certain basic understanding of science, it would be reasonable to assume that his currently stated political position on AGCC is a willfully ignorant point of view.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 3 Mar 2012 @ 3:09 AM

  662. Hank Roberts @659
    Should we be referring here to Dan H in the present tense?
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=11066#comment-229368

    Comment by MARodger — 3 Mar 2012 @ 4:33 AM

  663. dbostrom (#658):
    You are, of course, comparing apples and oranges. However, I for one would argue for the release of all the data, all the code and all the papers. Where is the problem?

    Comment by Bernie — 3 Mar 2012 @ 7:48 AM

  664. “Book removed from classrooms”–the story doesn’t quite match Dan’s description, though it’s somewhat close. (This presumes–which I don’t necessarily concede–that we can trust the story in the first place; when I followed that link, I was treated to a pop-up ad inviting me to sign up for “Glenn Beck-related items” or some such. Well, I will say that the “no thanks” button worked, at least.)

    Anyway, while the book may have been literally ‘in classrooms,’ it was not (according to the story) a textbook, nor part of the regular curriculum; it was a part of a supplemental kit sent out by a ‘science center’ in Battle Creek. And it wasn’t ‘Michigan’ taking action; it was said science center, responding to complaints of inaccuracies.

    None of which is particularly earth-shaking, but I have this old-fashioned conviction that the details matter, and are worth taking a little trouble over, even in a blog site comment.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Mar 2012 @ 8:24 AM

  665. Craig,
    We do have a difference in opinion. I do not believe that the opinions of a small group should be taught as the opinions of the whole. They may certainly be mentioned, and expressed as such, just as any other, but should not be made out to express the opinion of the whole. I get the impression that you feel that your opinion is the only one you wish to be taught. Are you not doing exactly what you claim that teachers should not do? Science is about teaching students to examine the world around us, and seek out answers. You seem to be trying to deny them this procedure, by forcing them to believe what you believe. While your beliefs may be correct, they may not. This process will allow the students to think logically, and understand the scientific method; hypothesis, experiment, results, and most importantly, revise and repeat when necessary.

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 Mar 2012 @ 8:29 AM

  666. Dan H. (whether still here, or not)
    =====
    “The text book was titled “A Hot Planet needs Cool Kids.”

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/global-warming-book-for-seventh-graders-recalled-by-michigan-math-and-science-center/

    Comment by Dan H. — 2 Mar 2012 @ 10:24 PM
    ================

    See? that wasn’t so hard, was it?

    If Dan H. goes away, but you follow that simple rule here under some other name, we may not recognize you.

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 3 Mar 2012 @ 8:51 AM

  667. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/global-warming-book-for-seventh-graders-recalled-by-michigan-math-and-science-center/
    to recap: The Michigan Farm Bureau complains about a book that had been offered for use in schools, because it included: “erroneous information based on opinion rather than science” . The resource clearinghouse that had distributed the book, after review, agrees to a recall, because it includes “pieces in there that are not based on fact”.

    Can we, all of us, hold ourselves to that combination of standards (accurate information, based on science, not opinion)?
    (wherever we sit, whatever name we post)

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 3 Mar 2012 @ 9:24 AM

  668. Should we be referring here to Dan H in the present tense?
    http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=11066#comment-229368

    We shouldn’t, but unfortunately our bleeding-heart liberal moderators (just joking) appear to be a bit weak on enforcing that which they proclaim :)

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Mar 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  669. “I do not believe that the opinions of a small group should be taught as the opinions of the whole.”

    It appears from this unfortunately typical comment that you believe expertise should be left to the population, not to the experts, and it is subject to “vote” in the American Idol sense. If our history was run this way, you would not have electricity, hot and cold running water, a car, a computer, or a variety of other mod cons. The planet isn’t subject to vote, and scientists study it as it is for clues to understanding.

    It might be worth mentioning that intelligence matters and it is not easy to do all the learning and work to master a field of knowledge; even with will and dedication, it still takes intelligence. For example, I’d love to understand weather, which I find both fascinating and beautiful, but am still struggling to get the ideas of meteorology, even at the most basic level, in my knowledge box the same way I know 2 + 2 = 4 or that the square root of minus one cannot be found. (Setting aside the areas where understanding will always be asymtotic, always approaching but never arriving at an exact answer, a favorite indefinition for fake skeptics to exploit.) These guys have done their homework. It appears your idea of homework is to find something that leads people away from facing reality.

    You and your colleagues are fond of grabbing snippets of information and inflating them into something that sounds good,

    “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”

    My apologies to all: I have no doubt exhibited just now exactly why Dan grabs what I say and inflates it to support his arguments. A gift to trolls, that’s me!

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:10 AM

  670. #666 (appropriately?)–”I do not believe that the opinions of a small group should be taught as the opinions of the whole.”

    Well, so much for ‘teaching the controversy.’ I guess it’s straight mainstream science on climate change from now on, huh?

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:16 AM

  671. Yeah, it was an opinionated book by a poet and a liberal, written for kids.
    But it wasn’t questioned on climate change.

    It was questioned as agricultural libel by the cattle industry PR folks.

    (responding in chunks as the spam filter’s unhappy with this subject)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:21 AM

  672. ————–
    http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/Curriculum-developers-agree-to-pull-book-that-defames-agriculture-132332788.html
    ….
    … MFB first voiced concerns about the self-published book’s content in July, drawing attention to what the organization believed to be biased opinions and grossly inaccurate, non-scientific information about modern agricultural practices.

    “We’ve said from the beginning that the science curriculum which included the book was sound,” said Deb Schmucker, manager of the MFB Promotion and Education Department. “We never attempted to challenge or debate the theoretical soundness or lack of soundness of human-caused global warming. But we have consistently criticized political statements in the book that were disguised as science.”

    “When a book quotes — and teaches children as fact — opinions from anti-farming, extremist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Worldwatch Institute, the credibility of the information must be questioned. I look at that as the duty of every parent.”
    ———————

    There ya go. Those Human Society extremists have been defeated again by the beef industry.

    Dan H. managed to obscure the content of the complaint made, spin it as though it was a climate science complaint, and even when he came back with a cite, misrepresented the contents.

    Dan H. is truly doing a professional job here. Never responds personally, never gives an inch on anything that might contradict his talking point.

    Why I get dizzy just trying to follow his spin.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:22 AM

  673. ————lose the spaces, the spamfilter won’t allow the link——–
    ht tp:// www. mlive. com/ news/ kal ama zoo/ind ex.ss f/2011/10/fa rm_bur eau.ht ml

    …. “industrial farms” and livestock production as major culprits in climate change and describes them as “out of balance” with nature.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:28 AM

  674. Sorry that got chunked up. Look at any of the stories about this and you’ll see how Dan spun it to make it sound like there was a climate change question raised. There wasn’t. It’s a cattle farmers’ complaint — an ag libel issue.
    (That’s an ongoing story in that and other states).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  675. Dan H:

    “I do not believe that the opinions of a small group should be taught as the opinions of the whole. They may certainly be mentioned, and expressed as such, just as any other, but should not be made out to express the opinion of the whole”

    So you’re insinuating that the the “consensus” view of climate is an opinion? Or that this “small group” is the contrarians, who present no actual science, and their opinion that the climate is of no concern should be put forward in a science classroom? Or that the climate scientists who support the “consensus” are a small group? That science is about opinions?? That teaching about opinions has a prominent role in science education?

    I think I’d agree that educators should teach the science, and mention -in passing- that there is a small group who have an opinion contrary to the actual science supporting the consensus view, while themselves presenting little or no actual science.

    Comment by flxible — 3 Mar 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  676. Bernie says:
    3 Mar 2012 at 7:48 AM

    Where is the problem?

    The problem is that practicing scientists have no issue with Mann’s methods or conclusions that they have not dealt with in the accepted, functional manner developed and refined over the past few centuries. Mann’s publications are quite sufficient for the purpose of advancing understanding of his topic.

    The problem is people like AG Cuccinelli, who are (assuming they’re of normal intelligence and reasonably educated, both generally true) concocting fictions unrelated to science in order to further causes, variously those of political ambitions, commercial interests or promotion of ideological dogma. Mann represents for these people an opportunity or a obstacle, to be treated as such.

    What folks tend to forget is that somebody (whether it be Mann or another) would have bumped into his findings regardless of whether they were fraught with policy implications or absolutely mundane. The physical facts of the matter are aloof from ambition, greed or mania. Unfortunately the people who encounter these facts are not.

    Comment by dbostrom — 3 Mar 2012 @ 12:17 PM

  677. Phil,
    Agreed.

    Comment by Dan H. — 3 Mar 2012 @ 12:47 PM

  678. I find this post simply amazing, and falling foul of the errors normally
    attributed to ‘the other side’. As one of the 16 who signed the WSJ, I can
    confirm that we all know and agree that the world is warming -it has been
    since 1700. (We question the idea that the last 30 years are out of the
    ordinary). How can I take a piece any further with question 1 as the
    starter? As so many people have commented, we must share the facts, but our
    interpretations may vary. We have used the factual details of the analysis
    of Professor Nordhaus and come to a very different conclusion to him. I am
    even more worried by the mis-investment of millions of dollars on the
    deployment (as opposed to the development) of wind farms, solar panels,
    electric cars, … They get a bad reputation, as solar thermal panels did
    in Japan in the 1970s, where they have not forgotten yet, forty years on.
    Nearly everything we would to for an orderly reduction is carbon emissions
    is being sabotaged by climate alarmism.
    Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering.
    Michael Kelly

    Comment by Michael Kelly — 3 Mar 2012 @ 4:28 PM

  679. dbostrom (#677)
    I thought the issue was transparancy and publication of data on a study of the effects of diesel fumes on miners. I say make the papers and data available. Again, what is the problem?

    Comment by Bernie — 3 Mar 2012 @ 5:20 PM

  680. I would expect nothing less from the “Prince Philip Professor of Technology, Dept of Engineering, Cambridge Uni.” It’s all very well discussing freedom of speech, but should this one be allowed out on his own?

    Michael Kelly @679
    Are you in the right post? This is so Prince Phil of you!! You should be posting you comments where they are actually discussing your silly WSJ letter(s) which is here – http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/bickmore-on-the-wsj-response/

    Comment by MARodger — 3 Mar 2012 @ 5:25 PM

  681. How remarkable that the WSJ would allow its voice to be dominated by people who sound like nothing so much as the garden variety chumps heard from so often on the comments threads at RC.

    Solar thermal panels failed? Remove all of them, from around the globe, then substitute with conventional generation. Good luck finding the financing for that fantasy.

    Join the 21st century.

    Comment by dbostrom — 3 Mar 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  682. Michael Kelly:

    As one of the 16 who signed the WSJ, I can
    confirm that we all know and agree that the world is warming -it has been
    since 1700.

    delusion reigneth

    Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering.

    So much for the modern airplane and internet, then, both of which have their roots in what today would look like “premature technology”. *All* emergent technology is “premature”, and if people like you were in charge we’d still be riding horses and buggies.

    Comment by dhogaza — 3 Mar 2012 @ 6:05 PM

  683. For Michael Kelly, posting “As one of the 16 who signed the WSJ,” I’m guessing you meant to post in the topic about that? It’s
    Bickmore on the WSJ response

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 6:23 PM

  684. @Michael Kelly #679:

    I have just spent the guts of two days patiently reading through this entire thread, and was about to praise dbostrom’s post at #580 for summing up the Heartland/Gleick affair most nicely.

    However, since your post happens to be the last one I found here, and since you are one of the illustrious signatories of the WSJ article… you would apparently be of the opinion that mankind’s current collective annual spewing of 30 billion metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere has no apparent effect on Earth’s radiative balance, though physics dictates otherwise. Please explain how this can be. If you can, I’d like my free lunch to go with it.

    Comment by Steve Metzler — 3 Mar 2012 @ 7:10 PM

  685. Michael Kelly, I looked you up because your comment was odd. An engineer at Cambridge University with a small respectable list of publications, especially nanotechnology, interesting. It appears you know your own subject, but what you don’t acknowledge is what you don’t know all subjects. That’s the problem, the world is full of inexpert “experts” who will support any line of talk.

    Here’s an interesting sidelight on the subject in question (not your specialty, but worth a listen if you want to learn something):
    http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=10309

    Seems your colleagues are pretty worried, even if you aren’t.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 3 Mar 2012 @ 8:14 PM

  686. …falling foul of the errors normally attributed to ‘the other side’.

    Perhaps you could explain what specific errors you believe it makes, given that your comment was exceedingly short on details pertinent to that claim.

    In my experience your co-signer Burt Rutan tends to operate along the same lines – he has no difficulty claiming that other people’s claims are wrong and that his are correct, but frequently fails to even attempt to substantiate his position, and when he does make the attempt it (almost?) always turns out to be deeply flawed. (You state that “we must share the facts” – but in many cases it appears that Burt does not even do that.) Do you think you can support your case any better?

    How can I take a piece any further with question 1 as the starter?

    You might wish to elaborate – I don’t understand what you are trying to say here, and I suspect I won’t be the only one.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 3 Mar 2012 @ 8:22 PM

  687. Michael Kelly,

    The most common modern first-world energy distribution model is to create energy at a single source, and then transmit this energy to the users. One of the biggest energy losses in this system is through the transmission grid, which is also very expensive to build and maintain. Some of the technologies you have mentioned – particularly wind and solar power generation, coupled with battery technology – can be used as small units and can largely negate the need for a power grid. Not only does this reduce the potentially massive loss of energy through the grid; it is a huge economic savings for millions of people who lack power around the world. Using these renewable energy sources, even though they may not be as well developed as you would like, helps these people to have energy now in a much more efficient way than with a large single source generator coupled to an extensive, expensive, and relatively inefficient grid. This approach helps to reduce the carbon footprint of emerging economies without denying them access to the abundant energy that you have enjoyed for most of your life. I would argue that much of the current use of these new technologies is not a “mis-investment” at all.

    Might the charge that the use of these clean technologies is “premature” itself be premature?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 3 Mar 2012 @ 9:11 PM

  688. Michael Kelly says:

    (We question the idea that the last 30 years are out of t
    ordinary). </I

    So, please, show us other 30 year periods out of the last thousand that match the warming we've seen.

    You can 'question' all you want, but without evidence it's just your opinion. I, for one, would love to know that .5*C swings in a few decades is perfectly normal. Go ahead, please, I'll wait. Between your opinion and the work of the majority who study it for a living I think I'll go with the latter – until you provide some convincing evidence.

    I am
    even more worried by the mis-investment of millions of dollars on the
    deployment (as opposed to the development) of wind farms, solar panels,
    electric cars, … They get a bad reputation, as solar thermal panels did
    in Japan in the 1970s, where they have not forgotten yet, forty years on.
    Nearly everything we would to for an orderly reduction is carbon emissions
    is being sabotaged by climate alarmism.
    Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering.

    Pure Lomborg. Gee, the ‘technology isn’t ready’, guess we’ll have to keep burning fossil fuels until it is.

    How do you propose we develop it if not to develop a market and implement it? Just keep it confined to a research lab until it’s ‘ready’ ?

    Didn’t the renewables market grow like 40% last year? Hmm, what’ll it be like when it’s ‘ready’ ?

    reCaptcha: entstyn I am

    Comment by David Miller — 3 Mar 2012 @ 10:11 PM

  689. Michael Kelly: “We question the idea that the last 30 years are out of the ordinary”

    Fine. Where is your evidence. I certainly see nothing remotely resembling the current period of warming in the instrumental period. I see nothing like it in the paleoclimate reconstructions, nor in speleothermal studies, nor borehole studies nor anything else.

    And even if you could find something like the current warming in the record, that doesn’t change the fact that on a planet currently bristling with instrumentation, the energy has to be coming from somewhere. It ain’t the sun. It ain’t the sea. It ain’t the ground. I’m guessing that leaves the air, right?

    Now as to your worries about “mis-investment”, do you deny that we are rapidly depleting fossil fuel reserves and need a new energy infrastructure independent of the exigencies of climate change? And are you not at least aware that argument from consequences is a logical fallacy? The truth is the truth, regardless of its consequences.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Mar 2012 @ 10:41 PM

  690. Dan H.: “I do not believe that the opinions of a small group should be taught as the opinions of the whole.”

    And what small group would that be, Dan? Certainly not the 97% of climate scientists that agree with the consensus position that Craig articulated? Or the majority of scientists in relevant, related disciplines who, through their member societies, endorse this consensus? Or the National Academies, which have consistently and explicitly endorsed the consensus.

    Are you seriously contending that what is taught is science class should be decided by public referendum? Are you next planning to proclaim that the majority is the minority and vice versa as the “Bolsheviks” did?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 3 Mar 2012 @ 10:46 PM

  691. To be more kind to Michael Kelly w/regard to the “let’s look at it a bit longer” fallacy, he is from “R&D” as in “Research and Development” with its chronic problem of the perfect being the enemy of the good enough. Batteries for automobiles are indeed not yet fully cooked enough, but other things he mentions are quite adequate and are widely deployed.

    Choosing solar water panels was a particularly unfortunate mistake as they’ve been in use for decades, with other choices being distinctly weird as substitutes in many locales. Israel for instance has over 80% penetration of domestic solar hot water. There are no fundamental barriers to it working in Britain, either.

    It’s to easy to lose track of “R&D” as in “Ready and Deployed.”

    Unfortunately when he dips his toes in the climate stuff he’s straight off into boring old la-la land; we’ve seen it all before. Always best to get educated a little bit before shooting one’s mouth off. Kelly would do well to bone up on his Spencer Weart before touching on the climate topic again. No use needlessly playing the fool and only a few hours are needed to avoid so doing.

    Comment by dbostrom — 3 Mar 2012 @ 10:57 PM

  692. #691–Well-asked. Denialism is a through-the-looking-glass affair: an inquiry into CO2 becomes evidence of social engineering on the largest scale; a CV item which ought to be a crown jewel becomes pretext for a witch hunt; teaching falsehoods to undergrad arts majors becomes a noble challenge to complacency.

    Down is up, and black is white.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:04 PM

  693. I really and truly laughed at Kelly’s “solar thermal” faux pas. When I was young I had a friend who lived in Altadena Glen in the LA area. He lived in a house which was about a century old and had a century old solar hot water system. When I was up there visiting I would take showers with solar heated hot water unless it was cold and rainy. In Southern California many, many people successfully heat their pools, if nothing else, with solar thermal panels.

    And while solar PV may have not reached it’s ultimate efficiency it is certainly good enough to deploy.

    Comment by Rattus Norvegicus — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:31 PM

  694. > Michael Kelly
    > Japan … solar thermal … bad reputation …

    What? Citation needed.
    What’s the basis for your claim, please?

    Not this? http://www.nef.or.jp/what/whats02.html
    http://www.geni.org/globalenergy/library/energytrends/currentusage/renewable/solar/japan/solarthermal/solar%20thermal%20pic.gif

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:41 PM

  695. dbostrom @580 — Well done.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 3 Mar 2012 @ 11:42 PM

  696. How do you propose we develop it if not to develop a market and implement it? Just keep it confined to a research lab until it’s ‘ready’ ?

    Thus my comment about aviation and the internet.

    Aviation, in particular, developed in a “premature technology” environment, with safety records far, far below what would be acceptable today.

    Kelley seems to think this was a mistake.

    I’m flying to San Francisco on Monday. The hell with Kelley …

    It also appears that he’s a drive-by, no surprise.

    Comment by dhogaza — 4 Mar 2012 @ 12:06 AM

  697. 679 Michael Kelly said, “Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering.”

    I agree. Some people are concentrating on getting as much deployed as soon as possible, but that risks ending up with obsolete and overpriced systems, just at the time when we really know how to do the job. Amory Lovins has long advocated the negawatt. A case can be made for reducing emissions through efficiency while increasing our renewables R&D investment. Such a plan could resonate with both AGW believers and skeptics.

    Your WSJ article was obviously written with a lot of emotion. Words like “embarrassment” and “Lysenko” pepper the piece. I can understand that from a single author, but I’m amazed that 16 people felt so strongly as to write such a piece so publicly in a professional setting. It takes a lot to get 16 people to agree on the wording of such a document, and it especially takes them time and reflection. You guys believe what you say and you’ve obviously spent time educating yourselves about the subject, though I’m suspicious of the sources you use for your education. Since you commented here, I’ll assume you read RealClimate, so I’d like to hear your comments on:

    The Foster and Rahmstorf analysis which shows a glaringly obvious CO2-forced(?) trend once natural forcings were removed. Is the trend real, what is causing it, and will it continue?

    RealClimate says of the WMO, “They find…that La Niña conditions have made 2011 a relatively cool year – relatively, because they predict it will still rank amongst the 10 hottest years on record. They further predict it will be the warmest La Niña year on record”

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by JimLarsen — 4 Mar 2012 @ 1:16 AM

  698. Dan H, commenting at, of all possible numbers, 666:

    I was talking about a scientific consensus, which you deny. But rather than own up to that, you have just substituted “consensus “ with “opinion,” and illogically plowed right ahead. I did not say that I wanted my “opinion” taught in science classes. I want the scientific consensus (which you deny) taught in science classes. By substituting the word “opinion” for “consensus,” you completely misrepresent what I said, and that’s being charitable. So your “impression” of what I want to be taught in science classes is totally false. I am not doing what “I claim that teachers should not do.” I am not denying or forcing anything. Understanding the scientific method INCLUDES an understanding of how a scientific consensus is reached. And that includes understanding that an opinion is different from a consensus, a concept you appear not to have mastered.

    Saying that we disagree is perfectly fine. But substituting words I have said with words that I have not said is just a cheap rhetorical trick, which no one here is buying. It leads one to wonder whom you are trying to impress.

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 4 Mar 2012 @ 2:41 AM

  699. I repeat my amazement – people putting words on my mouth that I have not uttered and don’t hold to be true. I do not like the CO2 going into the atmosphere unnecessarily, but a panic reaction does no one any favours. All the ad-hominem attacks instead of issue debating.

    Non-technologists pronouncing on technology having castigated me for studying the climate science steadily for five years before opening my mouth.

    My climate science friends, and I do have some, recommended this blog for dispassionate debate on the issues. Where is the dispassionate debate of the issues these days, or is than an impossible dream?
    Michael Kelly

    [Response: This blog is mostly focused on the science issues that underlie the policy responses you appear to be concerned about, but although policy issues obviously arise in the comments, they are not usually part of our main posts. I am a little confused as to why you think that anyone here (principals or commenters) is advocating panic as a policy response though. Perhaps if you could be a little more specific about what you consider to be problematic, a more constructive discussion could ensue. I might point out that attribution of climate change over the last 30 or so years is not dependent on the unusual nature of the trends, and that policy choices are driven by potential future changes not from what has already happened. - gavin]

    Comment by Michael Kelly — 4 Mar 2012 @ 3:17 AM

  700. It might be time to lighten up on Dr. Kelly and/or move on. I think you’ve made your points, all of them valid. Though one would have to ask why he chose to drop in and make such a poorly written comment. The English is so bad one might even ask if he actually wrote it himself. It looks like a paste job.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 4 Mar 2012 @ 10:12 AM

  701. The “Dan H.” of @666 is the Dan H we know, full of unearned authority, and applied rhetorical dishonesty.
    The “Dan H.” of @678 either underwent an epiphany and conversion (he _was_ briefly touched by the mark of the beast…), or much more likely, responded in character, with a vague answer apparently meant to imply he’s playing by ‘the rules’. But it occurred to me he didn’t limit or direct his agreement. That words appear when you type? Not much else.

    I’ll add a vote for bore hole status to the old “Dan H.” If @678 is a new man, very recently reborn into honest and productive contribution, he can change his name to aid the healing of our past trauma, and to facilitate his acceptance as/if he avoids past practice.
    (also voting we retire “666″, in memory)

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 4 Mar 2012 @ 10:25 AM

  702. Michael Kelly wrote: “… I am even more worried by the mis-investment of millions of dollars on the deployment (as opposed to the development) of wind farms, solar panels, electric cars …. Premature technology deployment is thoroughly bad engineering.”

    With all due respect, your comment indicates that you are extremely ill-informed about today’s powerful, mature wind and solar technologies, which are the fastest-growing sources of new electric generation capacity in the word, and which are being widely, successfully and profitably deployed at all scales all over the world, from utility/industrial scale to residential scale in the developed world, and village-scale in the developing world (where cheap mass-produced photovoltaics are already creating a revolution in rural electrification).

    Denial of the problem of AGW is, of course, the cornerstone of the fossil fuel industry’s deceitful propaganda campaign to delay and obstruct the urgently needed phaseout of their destructive products.

    But equally important is the equally deceitful denial that any alternative exists: not only is there no problem, they claim, but there is no solution to the problem. Thus, disparaging and denigrating wind and solar energy is a core strategy.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Mar 2012 @ 11:40 AM

  703. dbostrom @692

    There are no fundamental barriers to it [solar water panels] working in Britain, either.

    The Centre for Alternative Technology, situated in one of the cloudiest and wettest areas in the country, has been using them since the 70s to halve their heating bills.

    Comment by Richard Simons — 4 Mar 2012 @ 2:25 PM

  704. Dan H.,
    Care to point out where there is even a sliver of daylight between the IPCC conclusions and the APS position?

    I guess when there is no real controversy to teach, you just manufacture one out of thin air by taking quotes out of context?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Mar 2012 @ 2:47 PM

  705. Michael Kelly,

    Again. You have taken issue with science that has been established for decades because you do not like the policy implications–that is the logical fallacy of argument from consequences.

    You also seem not to understand what the ad hominem fallacy is. No one has attacked you personally and said that because of YOUR personal failings we should ignore you. Rather, they have taken you to task for ingoring evidence–a valid criticism that you also chose to ignore.

    Please get serious. Your 5 years of study might have served you better if you had sought out the best science, rather than that you and your colleagues could twist and deform to support your position.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Mar 2012 @ 2:54 PM

  706. Dan H wrote: “I thought you wanted the IPCC consensus taught in class, with which I disagree. That is significantly different from the scientific consensus, with which I agree.”

    I don’t intend this as a criticism of our hosts, but I am genuinely curious to know why such blatant trolling with offensively dishonest nonsense like this is not consigned to the Bore Hole.

    [Response:You are absolutely correct--Jim]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 4 Mar 2012 @ 3:16 PM

  707. Ray,
    For starters, the APS range for climate sensitivity is 1-3C/doubling, while the IPCC range is 2-4.5.

    [Response: That's curious. They actually state that climate models show a range from 1-3C, which is news to me, and frankly, I doubt has any actual source. The language is not actually that clear, and it is conceivable that they really mean the transient climate response (warming at a time of 2xCO2 in a 1% increasing CO2 simulation) which in AR4 was 1.5 to 2.8ºC. Since the APS did not actually do any of their own climate modelling, their source for these numbers must be IPCC (or CMIP5), and so their lack of tracability of their statement, and probable confusion on what they are referrring to, doesn't fill one with a great enthusiasm to use it as a source text in an educational context. - gavin]

    The APS mentions both matural and manmade contributions to the observed warming, without stating which has been the larger contributor. The IPCC clearly states manmade causes as the most significant. The APS statement raises much more uncertainty in both the understanding and projections than does the IPCC.

    [Response:However that may be, the reason you would like the APS stance in that situation is because their numbers are lower, not because of this supposed superior objectivity you would like to portray.--Jim]

    Comment by Dan H. — 4 Mar 2012 @ 3:22 PM

  708. Re #701. Perhaps as part of the healing process, the new Dan H. could describe any epiphanies he’s had as a result of getting caught up short with his drought caper, and how his thinking about global warming has evolved as a result.

    Not that get a vote, but I agree with you about bore-holing the old Dan H.

    Comment by Walter Pearce — 4 Mar 2012 @ 3:48 PM

  709. Gavin,
    All the scientific facts on climate change are capable of another, non-Malthusian, interpretation.
    Malthus got it wrong on food: Jevons got in wrong on coal, many since 1895 got it wrong on oil; the Club of Rome said in 1970 we would be out of minerals by 2000.

    [Response: You might be surprised to hear that when discussing climate change, attribution, drivers, paleo-climate records, cloud physics, radiative transfer and the like, neither Malthus, Jevons or the Club of Rome are even mentioned, let alone determinative of the understanding. If you want to discuss them, I suggest you talk to economists - like Nordhuas for instance - climate scientists are not really the right people for this. - gavin]

    As an engineer I have to take the scientific projections of the solar physics community alongside the CO2 community to decide what is the wise cause of action, and they are predicting cooling.

    [Response: This, on the other hand, is an climate science issue. But for this to be remotely relevant, you have to demonstrate that solar effects - even another Grand minima (which despite what you might hear is not a prediction 'of the solar community') - has a radiative forcing and/or enhanced sensitivity that is even close to that expected from GHG increases. As far as I am aware, there is no such evidence that rises to the level required. Perhaps you'd care to point to the evidence that you find compelling? - gavin]

    Indeed we may be grateful in 20 years for every tonne of CO2 that is staving off low temperatures and mass starvation that happened 300 years ago with only 1B on the planet.

    [Response: Argument by unlikely scenario is not particularly persuasive. - gavin]

    Any serious and large reduction of CO2 before technologies are ready – note the bankruptcies in the US – is because the alarmist have had their say in policy circles.

    [Response: Huh? As someone complaining about name-calling above, this seems like an odd statement. Not least because the 'alarmists' (who are they?) have not actually engaged in some imagined wholesale effort to decarbonize the US economy. I'm sure I would have noticed. - gavin]

    Those in the climate community who have not advocated alarm are fellow travellers if they have not denounced extreme alarm=panic for the good of humankind going forward.

    [Response: Now this is actually offensive. And I'm a little unclear how the language of 'fellow travellers' and 'alarmists' is conducive to a 'dispassionate' analysis. - gavin]

    From 1912 to 1962 the temperature went up by more than it did in the 50 years to 2012 even though there was three times as much CO2 in the latter period.

    [Response: This is not actually true. OLS trends 1912-1961 (inclusive) are 0.06ºC/dec, compared to 0.14ºC/dec 1962-2011. That is true with either GISTEMP or HadCRU3. Your second statement is a little unlcear - there certainly wasn't '3 times' as much CO2. CO2 increased from 301 to 318 in the first period, and 318 to 391 in the second. That is a difference of a factor of 3 in the forcings (0.3 compared to 1.1 W/m2). - gavin]

    It simply cannot be all or only CO2.

    [Response: Who has claimed otherwise? Certainly not the climate modellers who use 14+ distinct forcings over the 20th Century or run simulations showing the impact of any number of drivers of paleo-climate - ranging from orbital variability, lake drainage events, solar variability, ice sheet boundary conditions etc. It is worth pointing out that CO2 increases completely dominant the year-on-year increase in the radiative forcing and that is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. ]

    Akasofu’s projections (more temperature rise this century like the last, and not more than that) are outperforming all the climate models for 20 years: the data on d2T/dt2 has been negative since 1995 and the IPCC models have d2T/dt2 positive. If this divergences continues for another 15 years when will we say the the models have to be revisited?

    [Response: You are confusing single realisations with the ensemble mean, and I'm perfectly willing to predict that this will not continue for 15 years - though if it did (without some obvious external cause like a couple of big volcanoes), it certainly would put the observations well out of the ensemble spread of model predictions - that has not happened yet - not even close. - gavin]

    The storm intensities are down, not up, the ocean is not warming, the sea level rise has halted, the ice levels in the Sierra, the total ice at Antactica, ……

    [Response: This is rag-bag of talking points, all of which are cherry-picked in time or space, or simply wrong. I expect better from people who want to have a serious conversation. The ocean quite clearly is warming - both at the surface and at depth, Antarctic sea ice has a slight, non-significant, upward trend which is interesting, but Antarctica as a whole is losing ice sheet mass, as is Greenland, as is the Arctic sea ice. Sea levels are affected by short term variability in ocean patterns but the long term trend is a pretty steady 3mm/yr (though if you think this has stopped, perhaps we could arrange a bet on the subject?). - gavin]

    The most humbling real word data is the central England temperature since 1650. There was a temperature rise there from 1700 to 1730 which is 50% bigger than that from 1975 to 2012, and no-one suggests that was man-made CO2. Similarly from 1910 to 1940. What exactly was it, and how can we rule that out again now?. Do not quote model calculations. They are only as good as the input and how far the real-word data tests the predictions/projections.

    [Response: Now this is funny. You ask me to attribute a local temperature signal while, presumably, knowing full well that any kind of attribution involves a model, but then tie my hands by insisting that I not use a model. An impartial observer might conclude you don't actually want me to answer. Your framing of this is also a little strange - it is clear to me that attribution of events increasingly far back in time must perforce become harder - since there is increasing uncertainty in the data itself, the relevant forcings, and anciliary data that would provide confirmatory evidence (or not) for any result. For the last fifty years we have good estimates of all relevant forcings (with the possible exception of aerosols), much higher confidence in the global mean anomalies, multiple other parameters which help constrain cause and effect (stratospheric temperatures, ocean heat content etc.), and that allows us to make a confident attribution. This is not true for 1910-1940 and certainly not for the 18th C. That uncertainty in cases where there is less data should lead to a decrease in confidence for cases where you have lots more data is perverse. It would be like a burglar caught red-handed breaking into a house using the fact that there are other unsolved burglaries as a defense. No jury is going to give that argument much credence. - gavin]

    Having spent 75% of my career on modelling and simulating semiconductors, I and my community know just how fragile modelling and simulation can be. We have been saved by being able to test our predictions again experiments on a daily basis. You can do that for weather forecast but not future climates.

    [Response: That's great for your field. But sciences like cosmology and climate and archeology etc. have to do it differently because of the nature of their object of study. Predictions can be made for things that have happened already, but that haven't yet been detected for instance. Predictions can be made that existing datasets are inconsistent (and validated when revisions to the data for problems in the synthesis end up removing the inconsistency). And in some cases real future predictions can be made and verified - Hansen et al 1992 for instance, correctly forecasting the climate impacts of Pinatubo, or even the skillful predictions from Hansen et al 1988. Indeed, the vast bulk of climate model analysis is specifically to try and find testable predictions - your field is not unique in that endeavour. - gavin]

    There is another interpretation of the data, that is less alarmist than the least alarmist of the IPCC, and the real world data is consistently backing it up. What has happened in the last 10 years that is worse than the average of the IPCC models, as opposed to those I have cited that are not worse than the avaerge projection?

    [Response: Arctic sea ice loss is an obvious one. - gavin]

    I repeat that I am very disappointed at the poor quality of technical and scientific debate and the ad hominem attack. I have not crawled out of a hole to make my statements as some of your bloggers suggest. I have had them thoroughly tested locally.

    [Response: I strongly advise that if you are in search of a serious conversation, you cease claiming that everyone is an 'alarmist', that they are 'fellow travellers' of extremists, and focus on actual issues that you care about, instead of dragging in a boatload of irrelevant talking points from the contrarian litany. - gavin]

    My personal interest, having advised the UK government in an official capacity for three years is the increase in the energy efficiency of buildings. Energy security is a serious issue in the UK in the next decade, and almost half of our emissions come from buildings. The UK has decided that 30% of its generating capacity must be replaced by 2020 – half because of carbon emissions from oil and coal fired electricity power stations, and half because of the end-of-life of the nuclear fleet. That will not happen in time. The former is madness, and would not have happened if climate alarmism had not had its day. When the lights go out, I, not your colleagues, will be hauled before Parliament to explain.
    There must be somewhere for a sober and dispassionate debate to be had for the good of mankind.
    Michael

    Comment by Michael Kelly — 4 Mar 2012 @ 4:50 PM

  710. > I thought you wanted the IPCC consensus taught in class

    It’d be foolish to teach “a consensus”; teach there are consensus statements in many areas; they exist, they change, and it’s good to develop the habit of checking for what’s known when you want to know something.

    It’s a poor memory that only works backward.
    That’s all you get from “facts” learned in grade school.

    It’s no education if kids are taught facts to remember — rather than to do research, that is, to ask a librarian for help finding good information.

    If you think you remember the answer — it’s likely you’re way out of date.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Mar 2012 @ 4:57 PM

  711. I say make the papers and data [research on effects of diesel emissions on human health] available. Again, what is the problem?

    Yes, agreed, but that’s exactly what the journal editors are being threatened not to do, by Patton Boggs acting on behalf of their industrial clients.

    Comment by dbostrom — 4 Mar 2012 @ 6:36 PM

  712. Michael Kelly: I repeat my amazement…

    Amazement about equal to that of many here, doubtless, who can’t understand why a person who has so obviously not done his homework would presume to advise the general public on a matter obviously outside of his competence.

    Announce with confident emphasis how sure you are that 2+2=5 and that we should all behave accordingly and you will certainly not receive a respectful hearing; introduce yourself with flatfooted wrongness even to a punctiliously polite and tolerant crowd (not this one) and you’ll hear instead responses consisting variously of amusement, dismay, annoyance, disrespect. Is this any surprise?

    Comment by dbostrom — 4 Mar 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  713. Mike Kelly,
    All I can say is that I find it terribly sad that you are so irony impaired that you cannot appreciate the irony in your using a wonder of semiconductor technology to proclaim not just that semiconductor physics doesn’t work, but also to pontificate on a field that is clearly well beyond your expertise. Models are not there to give answers. They are there to give insight. Climate models do an excellent job providing insight into how climate works. They have a long record of validated predictions. I would have thought that a scientist would want to be familiar with that before dipping a toe in an unfamiliar field.

    Sir, if this level of misunderstanding is all you have to show for 5 years of effort, then it was a sad effort indeed.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 4 Mar 2012 @ 9:22 PM

  714. Those in the climate community who have not advocated alarm are fellow travellers if they have not denounced extreme alarm=panic for the good of humankind going forward.

    FWIW, this is a very similar line to the one Burt Rutan tries on at Scholars & Rogues. The trouble is that he repeatedly has failed to substantiate the essential prerequisite, i.e. that claims that are being made are not in fact based on reasonable scientific understanding derived from the full set of evidence (including consideration of the range of uncertainties) and are therefore actually “alarmist”. (If anything, his limited attempts to do so have repeatedly demonstrated that his own understanding of climate science is not soundly based on the full set of evidence, and it seems likely that all of his claims to have detected uncountered “alarmism” which he then uses to condemn climate scientists as “frauds” are due to the gap between his beliefs about the scientific evidence and the actual evidence. But that is a possibility that he appears entirely unwilling to consider.)

    From 1912 to 1962 the temperature went up by more than it did in the 50 years to 2012 even though there was three times as much CO2 in the latter period.

    FWIW, Burt Rutan made the same claim. It took him quite some time to admit that it was factually wrong after it was pointed out to him – never mind the issue that comparing endpoints rather than trends is erroneous and (often deliberately) misleading.

    Akasofu’s projections …

    Also cited by Rutan (at least in his 98-slide PowerPoint), although not by name, and without any explanation of why one should believe them when they are solidly out of line with much of the historical evidence.

    Rutan also cites a similar “ragbag of talking points” as Michael Kelly does here.

    Perhaps Michael Kelly should peruse the evidence provided at the Scholars and Rogues thread and test his views in light of it before he re-asserts more of those claims here?

    Comment by Lotharsson — 4 Mar 2012 @ 9:51 PM

  715. Michael Kelly @ 709:

    The most humbling real word data is the central England temperature since 1650. There was a temperature rise there from 1700 to 1730 which is 50% bigger than that from 1975 to 2012…

    Yes, that should indeed be quite humbling, seeing as he is citing a period of the Centrtal England Temperature record consisting of discontinuous instrument records made complete by non-instrument records from Uthrecht, and a period where some of the CET instrument measurements were taken indoors.

    Is this the sort of “real-word data” Michael Kelly normally refers to as an engineer?

    And he expects to be taken seriously? Really?

    Comment by Jim Eager — 4 Mar 2012 @ 10:04 PM

  716. All the ad-hominem attacks instead of issue debating.

    That’s a bit rich coming from one of the signatories of the WSJ Op-Ed that charged that Lysenkoism reigns in climate science, verballed Trenberth, misrepresented Nordhaus’s work, badly misrepresented the FAR’s projections, alleges that national science academies’ positions are at odds with evidence due to “authoritarian academy bureacrats”, claims that “motives other than objective science are at work in much of the scientific establishment”, implies that climate scientists and/or national science bodies will produce fraudulent claims for money, – and attempts to appeal to some form of “hominem” authority for their “second opinion” by noting that “…we all have enjoyed distinguished careers in climate science or in key science and engineering disciplines (such as physics, aeronautics, geology, biology, forecasting) on which climate science is based”.

    Especially since people have engaged with the substantive issues, regardless of any ad hominem attacks you might feel you have received in addition.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 4 Mar 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  717. > Michael Kelly … CET since

    Compare the results you see when you use
    Google: “central England temperature” “since 1650″
    (be careful you’re not seeing personalized search results, as they’ll feed you more and more of what you like, despite the fact that reality is available)

    Compare that to
    Google Scholar

    You’ll notice something very interesting.

    Most of the Google hits are from well known climate denial PR sites.
    Perhaps you’ve been reading in the echo chamber instead of the science journals?

    And what Scholar finds?
    The exercise is there to do. Try it and see.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 4 Mar 2012 @ 10:22 PM

  718. Michael Kelly — I strongly recommend your studying Ray Pierrehumbert’s Principles of Planetary Climate from Cambridge University Press. Then if you need more specifically about GCMs, try Climate Change and Climate Modeling by J. David Neelin and then Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling 2nd Edition by Warren M. Washington and Claire Parkinson. You will then be equipped to discuss the finer points of climatology as I assume you have aalready read The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer Weart, first link in the science section of the sidebar.

    Real Climate concentrates on just climatology; by doing so it ranks very high amoung the science blogs IMO. There are other blogs which are more oriented towards discussing low carbon energy technologies and their deployment. I only have time for two, physicist Joe Romm’s Climate Progress and climatologist Barry Brook’s Brave New Climate. At the latter there are several practicing and also retired engineers who regularly comment and help keep the discussion oriented towards practical and economic solutions. Neither blog tolerates denial of the seriousness of the problems to be faced of the course of this century.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 4 Mar 2012 @ 10:33 PM

  719. Michael Kelly might also wish to pay a visit to refreshingly polite Skeptical Science as well as the amusingly named but pedagogically excellent Science of Doom.

    In particular, systematically going through the points brought up in the ill-fated WSJ letter via Skeptical Science’s resources would help avoid future embarrassments.

    Comment by dbostrom — 5 Mar 2012 @ 1:59 AM

  720. Michael Kelly @ 678, 699 &709
    As the earliest to reply robustly to your comment @678, I feel you mistake an attack on stupidity for an attack upon yourself. Your comment begins by accusing this post and its commenters of ‘amazing error.’ You continued by introducing a subject that is clearly more appropriate on a different thread. This begs the question as to whether you had even read any of this post with its thread of 677 preceding comments!!
    I contend this is evidence of serious stupidity & thus I remain wholly unapologetic for my comment @680.

    You ask @709 for a “sober and dispassionate debate” on the issue of AGW “for the good of mankind.” We all wish that. The difficulty is the incompatible baggage lugged into the debating chamber by the differing sides. For one lot, AGW is the problem we face. For the other, the whole problem is the drastic actions required to address AGW.
    It is obvious such a debate is a scientific one. So how is someone to react when Akasofu is wheeled in to refute the entirety of the IPCC? Does Akasofu’s theorising (& 4 year-old predictions) even stack up? I say ‘no’ and see his citation as an act of yet more stupidity. (This is but an exemplar. See also the many Responses @709.)

    @709 you talk of the UK energy policy which is a tad off-topic on a science forum. But you talk of “madness.”
    The cost of energy efficiency measures that you are happy to be associated with (measures designed to keep the poor & vulnerable a bit warmer for less cost) stands at £60 per household per annum. The equivalent cost of the much-criticised policies to reduce emissions totals £20. In just a single year, the equivalent rise due to world fossil-fuel prices was £27
    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/publication/finish/5-research-and-reports/433-nera-energy-supply-margins-september-2011.html
    a rise significantly lower than the rise in the previous few years.
    I think we would agree there is “madness” but again disagree on where to affix the label.

    Comment by MARodger — 5 Mar 2012 @ 7:13 AM

  721. Michael Kelly: “the Club of Rome said in 1970 we would be out of minerals by 2000.”
    “Limits to Growth” (1972) made no predictions – only projections based on various scenarios. Club of Rome published the work – the world 3 model for this book was developed at MIT under the leadership of Dennis Meadows, one of Jay Forrestor’s former PhD students. This model gave results not very different from the world 2 model developed by Forrestor in his 1970 book World Dynamics. see http://www.systemdynamics.org/DL-IntroSysDyn/origin.htm
    The projections for the “business as usual scenario” have been remarkably on target as was shown in follow-ups 30 years later.

    Comment by Hugh Laue — 5 Mar 2012 @ 9:23 AM

  722. Michael Kelly:

    All the scientific facts on climate change are capable of another, non-Malthusian, interpretation.
    Malthus got it wrong on food: Jevons got in wrong on coal, many since 1895 got it wrong on oil; the Club of Rome said in 1970 we would be out of minerals by 2000.

    Indeed we may be grateful in 20 years for every tonne of CO2 that is staving off low temperatures and mass starvation that happened 300 years ago with only 1B on the planet.

    This may just be the most bizarre own goal by a denialist that I’ve ever seen …

    Climate science is wrong because Malthus and others were wrong about disasterous predictions and 20 years from now we’ll be glad all of this CO2 is saving us from Kelly’s disasterous prediction …

    Comment by dhogaza — 5 Mar 2012 @ 9:30 AM

  723. dbostrom:
    What makes you think that “auditors” like those at Climate Audit would support Patton Boggs and the quashing of legitimate papers and data?

    Comment by Bernie — 5 Mar 2012 @ 10:43 AM

  724. What makes you think that “auditors” like those at Climate Audit would support Patton Boggs and the quashing of legitimate papers and data?

    How about fundamental inconsistencies driven by ideological loyalty? Search “Monckton” on CA, see what you find.

    A CA lead article by an auditor working under the handle “JohnA” quotes Monckton:

    Monckton: I’ll show how the UN undervalued the sun’s effects on historical and contemporary climate, slashed the natural greenhouse effect, overstated the past century’s temperature increase, repealed a fundamental law of physics and tripled the man-made greenhouse effect.

    CA auditor JohnA: [Monckton's] backgrounder in particular is a pretty good overview of the current state of the science, such as it is…

    Errors on Monckton’s part are attributed to “slips of the keyboard.” Terrific audit, really incisive.

    Search CA for “Don Easterbrook.” Nothing.

    Search CA for “Willie Soon.” Do you find an audit revealing the glowing cash trail between Soon’s climate activities and the fossil fuel industry?

    My idle fling about CA is because the outfit seems to be in reality the “Ideology Audit,” glaringly obvious given their approving stroking of Christopher Monckton’s comic antics. It’s true that diesel emissions are not within CA’s purview, so right you are that I might have found a better target.

    How about Watts’ site? WTFISUWT is a pretty eclectic. Let’s search “Patton Boggs:”

    Nothing Found
    Sorry, but nothing matched your search criteria.

    Search on diesel?

    The president’s fuel from algae idea – “Lower Than Pond Scum”

    Craziest carbon credit scheme yet – shooting camels in Australia

    Etc. So high on entertainment value, all over the map, but again basically ideologically driven.

    Comment by dbostrom — 5 Mar 2012 @ 11:58 AM

  725. There must be somewhere for a sober and dispassionate debate to be had for the good of mankind

    Ok start with your state and federal congressional committees, maybe they can take some time out from their world shattering work of determining and intervening into the affairs of womenkind, to look at the affairs of mankind.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 5 Mar 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  726. Michael Kelly,

    Among all the responses to the substance of your comment, many of them filled with information, and all the irritable responses to the style of your entry into this community, the most useful piece of advice, I think, is for you to take each of your scientific points over to SkepticalScience which has attempted to collate and enlarge on these oft-repeated memes.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/

    People who have been threatened in every possible way for doing their jobs and telling the truth no longer have patience for public advocates who promote disinformation, no matter how convinced those advocates are they have done their homework. I suggest a return to primary sources. I am of course guessing as to where you have acquired five years’ worth of knowledge without happening on mainstream science, but certainly you should take a good hard look at the IPCC, the real one, setting aside the transposition of 2350 for 2035 and other minor errors, and at books like Stephen Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate and Mike Mann’s latest, and check out either Mooney’s Republican War on Science or Oreskes’ Merchants of Doubt. As long as you treat the substance of these materials as a tissue of lies, you are depriving yourself of real knowledge. Opinion sources such as Lomborg, Montford, and Monckton are worse than useless; on the latter you should take a good look at John Abrahams’ excellent sourcing of the material which exposes the many failures of fact in Monckton’s material.
    http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham/

    You with your academic skills should be better able than I am to distinguish between opinion and fact, but it appears to me that you might have bought the CRU hack wholesale and ignored the nine separate investigations, buying into the explanation that it is all one big conspiracy. If you wish to look seriously into the history, this site was hacked at the same time, and the top guys here spent all their free time for days answering attacks, here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/11/the-cru-hack/
    (There are two more; remember this is about free speech!)

    It is our collective opinion, I believe, that you have bought a pig in a poke. You meet here a community under siege, who believe (and I with them) that real science is under attack, particularly in the US, and the methods of attack are as varied as some clever people can make them. One of these, “first among equals” is Frank Luntz; my quick search found this excellent Wikipedia article:

    “In 1994, according to a leaked memo, the Republican strategist Frank Luntz advised members of the Republican Party, with regard to climate change, that “you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue” and “challenge the science” by “recruiting experts who are sympathetic to your view.”

    What people are talking about here is able described in Wikipedia, while crowd sourcing is imperfect, it’s a good resources for community knowledge.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 5 Mar 2012 @ 12:30 PM

  727. Speaking of Frank Luntz, he advised Republican politicians to call it “climate change” instead of “global warming”, because climate change is more neutral and less scary – after all, climate could change for the better, right? The denialists got hold of this, and accuse “warming alarmists” of using the term climate change to downplay the fact that warming has stopped, er, paused, er, uhm, slowed down. None of the denialists I’ve ever asked “when did the International Panel on Global Warming (IPGW, or IPCAGW if I’m feeling really snarky) become the International Panel on Climate Change(IPCC, since its inception under Republican President Ronald Reagan)?” has ever answered.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 6 Mar 2012 @ 1:05 AM

  728. Susan Anderson @276 — Well done.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 6 Mar 2012 @ 1:23 AM

  729. Brian: Speaking of Frank Luntz, he advised Republican politicians to call it “climate change” instead of “global warming”, because climate change is more neutral and less scary…

    Sort of like the inaudible shift in airline safety briefings from “should the cabin depressurize” to “should cabin pressure change.”

    Nice point about the IPCC.

    Comment by dbostrom — 6 Mar 2012 @ 1:38 AM

  730. What was really interesting about the Wikipedia article was the part I left out to make my point; it appears Frank Luntz has changed his mind. Does anyone know if this is true? My screed was long enough without bringing this up – I was not fudging – but if true it is truly mindboggling.

    “In 2006, Luntz stated that he still believes “back [in] ’97, ’98, the science was uncertain”, but he now agrees with the scientific consensus.”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 Mar 2012 @ 8:01 PM

  731. Focusing on completing the thought, the Wikipedia footnoted this:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/luntz.html

    “So would you not back this paragraph if you were asked today?

    “Today I would not have that paragraph in a document I put out about the environment or about energy, because I think the two are very much intertwined.”
    ….
    “What would you do today? Say a group — doesn’t have to be a politician — hired you and said, “All right, Frank, now we need some language.”

    I’ve done it. I’ve done it in the last year. I’ve worked for a number of environmental groups. That would surprise people who know my career, who recognize me from Frontlines that I’ve done before. They’d be shocked at some of the organizations I work for.”

    “I believe in common ground, and I believe in a consensus. There has to be a way that we can be environmentally protective and not be anti-economy. There has to be a way that those who care about the future both from an economic standpoint and a environmentally responsible standpoint can be in the same room and find agreement that moves us in the right direction.”

    Then he backs off and denies responsibility … a true likewarmer

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hotpolitics/interviews/luntz.html

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 6 Mar 2012 @ 9:24 PM

  732. First non-scientist Burt Rutan and now non-scientist Michael Kelly has chosen to post to climate science blogs, publicly demonstrating their level of knowledge, intellectual honesty, and grasp of logic. I hope that the rest of the sixteen “scientists” who authored the WSJ editorials will likewise expose the world to their qualities. As an illustration of the quality level of these signers, let me summarize one of the most potent arguments given here by Mr. Kelly:

    It warmed locally somewhere a while back and we don’t know why, so it follows that we don’t know why the globe is warming now.

    Comment by Marcel Kincaid — 6 Mar 2012 @ 11:19 PM

  733. The former is madness, and would not have happened if climate alarmism had not had its day. When the lights go out, I, not your colleagues, will be hauled before Parliament to explain.
    There must be somewhere for a sober and dispassionate debate to be had for the good of mankind.
    Michael

    With your “alarmist” ad hominem, you make it clear that by “dispassionate debate” you mean “agreement with me that there’s no need to be concerned about global warming”. But as you know from your five years of reading them, there are numerous forums where that sort of thing is available. If you want real dispassionate debate, change your habits and read the peer-reviewed climate science literature …

    Comment by Marcel Kincaid — 6 Mar 2012 @ 11:45 PM

  734. I’m not sure if Susan meant to coin a term, but “likewarmer” has -got- to have a niche in the lexicon of the climate change zoo.

    Comment by dbostrom — 7 Mar 2012 @ 12:35 AM

  735. “What has happened in the last 10 years that is worse than the average of the IPCC models…?” Michael Kelly — 4 Mar 2012 @ 4:50 PM

    They’re not the IPCC models, they’re models from various research climatology groups that the IPCC reports cite.*
    And those models have underestimated the observed expansion of Hadley cells and (probably physically related) the decline in subtropical relative humidity – which BTW gives a positive cloud feedback.

    *(And I’ll note in passing that no one has come up with a model that shows global warming ain’t dangerous, ain’t happening, ain’t due to CO2, or that the CO2 ain’t anthropogenic. If the Heartland Institute “a national nonprofit research and education organization” spent some of the money they get from the Koch Brothers on research to develop a model, instead of antiscience propaganda, they would probably get cited too. Basic physics says that they likely can’t come up with a radically different answer; the fact they haven’t published their model confirms that.)

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 7 Mar 2012 @ 11:42 AM

  736. Marcel Kincaid,

    Michael Kelly is a a senior professor at Cambridge University:
    http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/network/michael-kelly/

    Perhaps you meant “climate scientist”. No matter how angry their peregrinations make you (and me), characterizing other people in a way that does not fit prevents communication and turns off bystanders. I agree with you about the unhelpfulness of Dr. Kelly’s assumption of authority, but the problems with that lie elsewhere. There is too much namecalling between scientific disciplines, especially engineering.

    This business of who is qualified to practice and describe climate science is tricky. For example, physicists don’t agree even within physics. I think it important to limit oneself to saying people should not assume they have knowledge outside their own field unless they put in an equivalent effort to those practicing in the field.

    Doug Bostrom, yes, a typo. I’m not sure what “likewarmer” might be; while I like a good laugh this one eludes my sense of humor. You just reminded me I used to be fond of the phrase “faux angst” to describe artists who capitalize on negative emotion for fun and profit.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 7 Mar 2012 @ 6:58 PM

  737. For example, physicists don’t agree even within physics. I think it important to limit oneself to saying people should not assume they have knowledge outside their own field unless they put in an equivalent effort to those practicing in the field.

    I’d go further myself, adopting a maxim I saw elsewhere, because effort doesn’t automatically translate to competence.

    To paraphrase it: “If you haven’t published a peer-reviewed paper in a field, you aren’t qualified to buck the field’s consensus”.

    This sets a basic competence bar (arguably even too low, but you’ve got to start somewhere). You must be able to demonstrate that you are at least competent enough to publish once. And anyone who believes they have the competence to identify genuine issues with the consensus should be able to publish a paper specifically on those issues, which meets the bar.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 7 Mar 2012 @ 7:56 PM

  738. Susan: I’m not sure what “likewarmer” might be…”

    Well, we have “lukewarmers,” those who kinda-sorta-agree w/climate prognostications in a precarious balance. There are the “denialists/contrarians” who fell off the fence onto the wrong side.

    Then there’s the “sure it’s warming but C02 is good for us” crowd, not deniers but “likewarmers?”

    Comment by dbostrom — 7 Mar 2012 @ 7:57 PM

  739. dbostrom:

    Excellent. The filters in my brain were working overtime not to see that.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 8 Mar 2012 @ 1:28 PM

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