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  1. There is several things wrong with the WSJ graph shown above.

    1. Most importantly: a comparison over a short period (less than about
    15 years, which applies at least to the last two IPCC curves shown) is
    not very meaningful. This is because short-term variability due to
    various factors (El Niño, volcanic eruptions, solar variability) have
    a similar magnitude to the global warming signal over such short
    periods (over longer periods the warming signal dominates, because it
    only goes upward rather than wiggling up and down). Due to these
    short-term wiggles you can get a 10-year period with very strong
    warming trend or with very little warming trend, depending on which
    time interval you pick, but this has nothing to do with an under- or
    overestimated warming trend due to greenhouse gases. A proper
    comparison for a sufficiently long period (i.e. for the projections of
    the third assessment report) is shown here:
    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~stefan/update_science2007.html as update to
    our Science paper of 2007.

    2. In Foster&Rahmstorf 2011
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022 we have shown that if
    you take the known short-term variability effects out, you’re left
    with a completely steady warming trend. The IPCC lines shown are
    projections that do not account for future solar variability,
    volcanoes or a specific sequence of El Niño or La Niña. The
    projections are the smoothed, averaged effect of the rising greenhouse
    gases. So they should be compared with the warming signal as computed
    by Foster&Rahmstorf, after the variability factors are removed. This
    actually allows comparison also for shorter period, and then again you
    see good agreement of observed warming with projections.

    3. The WSJ graph cherry-picks the HadCRUT3 data, which show the least
    warming of any surface temperature data set over the period shown. The
    reason for the discrepancy with other data has been shown to be the
    lack of coverage in the Arctic, which has warmed most strongly over
    this period. In fact these data are being replaced now with the
    HadCRUT4 data where the data coverage has been improved and the
    warming now agrees better with the other data sets.

    4. Even more minor point: the vertical positioning of the IPCC lines
    is wrong. They are tacked onto those years in the data where the IPCC
    reports appeared. This is not actually the years where the IPCC
    projections start. E.g. the projections of the 3rd assessment report
    start in 1990 and of the 4th report in 2000. Also, because the
    projections do not account for interannual variability, they should
    not be tagged onto single years, no matter what year one chooses, but
    to the smooth temperature evolution. Many readers of WSJ would not
    realise that what counts here is not whether the red curve is below
    the IPCC lines (which completely depends what year you tag the IPCC
    line to), but whether the average slope agrees (and that only after
    subtracting short-term variability as explained above).

    Comment by stefan — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:20 AM

  2. For the “Science and the Media” column at Physics Today online, I’ve long followed the WSJ opinion page concerning climate science. FWIW, I think we’re now seeing a special election-year escalation of the WSJ’s hostility to the climate consensus. Six years ago, in the often-cited posting called “The false objectivity of ‘balance’,” (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/the-false-objectivity-of-balance/) RC declared that granting “a handful of ‘contrarian’ climate scientists … equal time or space in public discourse on climate change out of a sense of need for journalistic ‘balance’ is as indefensible as, say, granting the Flat Earth Society an equal say with NASA in the design of a new space satellite.” Many in journalism buy that principle. James Fallows, for example, has recently been citing a version of it. (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/the-false-equivalence-watch-good-news-and-bad-and-good/253296/) Now, it’s not news to say that the WSJ emphatically disagrees about false balance. In fact, their disagreement is obviously reiterated in the 21 February op-ed discussed here. Nevertheless I believe what we’re seeing is an escalated effort to chase the false-balance principle right out of the nation’s election-year technocivic discourse — and to replace it with the notion that much about climate science remains distinctly unsettled. My more detailed two cents’ worth about this appears at http://www.physicstoday.org/daily_edition/science_and_the_media/em_wall_street_journal_em_presses_to_have_climate_change_seen_as_an_open_scientific_question Thanks

    Comment by Steven T. Corneliussen — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:35 AM

  3. Barry Bickmore wrote: “The level of deception by the WSJ authors and others like them is absolutely astonishing to me.”

    Thank you for being clear, blunt and unequivocal in stating that this is deliberate deception.

    These people are not “skeptics”. They are not “contrarians”. They are deliberate, calculating liars.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:38 AM

  4. Any thoughts about where do they get the idea that Ocean Heat Content is “perhaps not increasing at all”. Are they living in some kind of bizarro world where this (http://i.imgur.com/k3Rre.gif) is not an increase in OHC?

    Comment by Daneel — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:39 AM

  5. Thanks for this– it helps us who are not trained in the math and science to understand what is deceptive, and to be able to call it out!
    More!

    Comment by John Atkeison — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  6. Great response to the intellectually dishonest hijinks in the WSJ and very informative first comment by “stefan” (thanks for the article links). This is why I come to this site.

    Comment by Larry Gilman — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:06 AM

  7. As a non-climate scientist but as someone who uses technical information professionally, I have been completely dismayed by the whole Gang of 16 affair and their followups. From the Lysenkoism reference (heck, why didn’t we throw in the Piltdown Man hoax?) to the martyrdom of Chris de Freitas to the graph referred to above, this motley crew has made further serious policy discussion (are you listening, Rogers Sr. and Jr. and Judith C.?) even more unlikely, if that is possible. Can you imagine a Republican majority in the Senate and a continued House majority after the 2012 election? Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and our third president wrote in his “Notes on the State of Virginia” , “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” He was writing about the corrosive effects of the institution of slavery. I think if we reflect instead on physical processes that we understand reasonably well and the changes we have set in motion, the quote may have new meaning–and the Gang of 16 will have explaining to do down the road. Small comfort, that.

    Comment by David Graves — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:12 AM

  8. “The individual models actually predict that the temperature will go up and down for a few years at a time, but the long-term slope (30 years or more) will be about what those straight lines say.”

    So, out of any 30 year period moving forward the global average temperature of 15 of those years (give or take depending on magnitude of departure + or -) should be above the long term slope line?

    According to the IPCC AR4 individual realizations graph above, the global average temperature has been below the average of the ensembles for about 6 years with varying degrees of variance. This is an unprecedented departure since 1980. Is there a graph that goes further back in the hindcast such that we could see if there were similar departure episodes that eventually “worked out” to the ensemble average over the long haul (30 year period)?

    Comment by John West — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:32 AM

  9. I appreciate such a thoughtful and well crafted response. One of the problems many non-climate scientists like myself have in trying to follow authoritative arguments by people who make their living in the field, is that we get lost in the jargon.

    In viewing the charts you provide and reading the accompanying explanations, the WSJ authors remind me vividly of Marty Feldman’s hunchbacked character Igor in Young Frankenstein. When offered help for his obvious deformity, he replied in innocent surprise, “What hump?”

    Comment by J Roach — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  10. Responding to a comment by AIC at 328 of February Unforced Variatuons, I tapped out a Blow by Blow Precis of this WSJ letter (Comment link – http://www.realclimate.org/?comments_popup=10823#comment-228620 ), cutting it down from 2,000 words to 200 Thus exposed, their argument is evidently laughable.
    One point not mentioned in the post here is the figure given for the rate of warming. Despite their assertions about small surface temperature increases, they manage to come up with the rise bring perhaps 0.2 deg C over ten years, a figure that is surely rather high. But that is the point in their argument when they summon up the Little Ice Age and and its chum the MWP when Eskimos exported wine to England or some such.
    Maybe that is the same wine these retired space cadets have been imbibing coz with a letter as trashy as this they sure do need an excuse.

    Comment by MARodger — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  11. David Graves wrote: “… this motley crew has made further serious policy discussion … even more unlikely, if that is possible …”

    Well, that’s the whole point — to make sure that any serious effort to address AGW is “off the table” for the foreseeable future.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:52 AM

  12. Thank you for this response

    Copying part of my posting over from #334 in Unforced Variations: February 2012

    When you get down to it, the WSJ letter needs response on four levels:
    1) AGW is happening.
    2) If fossil fuel CO2 emissions are continued at a rapid rate it is going to be very bad for our civilization
    3) We can develop substitute sources of energy for our civilization at a cost less than the cost of continued AGW
    3a) The sooner we get working on developing non-fossil-fuel sources of energy for our civilization, the easier it will be.

    Comment by AIC — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  13. John West,
    Huh? No. Barry says nothing of the kind. Here is an exercise for the reader. Go to Woodfortrees. Plot global temperature trend 1967-1977, 1977-1987, 1987-1997. Now 1967-1997. Any questions?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:29 PM

  14. #3, Secular Animist,

    “These people are not “skeptics”. They are not “contrarians”. They are deliberate, calculating liars.”

    The fact that they must be aware that a reasonable level of education allows people to see the paucity of their argument shows another thing: They fully expect their target audience not to think critically about what they write. i.e. they’re hoodwinkers relying on the ‘one born every minute’ principle.

    From the title (Wall Street Journal) I’d assume that people use the WSJ to make help them make financial decisions. Would you take investment advice from an advisor who dissembles and thinks you’re stupid?

    Comment by Chris R — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:40 PM

  15. Your error bars comment is scary. I mark first year undergraduate lab reports, and if they had made those conclusions without reporting their error bars I would have put a big red circle around it and written ‘ERRORS!!!’ next to it, then knocked off marks.

    Weren’t these scientists and engineers trained in uncertainties? I thought it was standard practice in undergraduate degrees.

    It seems quite a common thing to do though: Spencer & Braswell got PUBLISHED without properly reporting uncertainties.

    Comment by MieScatter — 24 Feb 2012 @ 12:42 PM

  16. #14

    “From the title (Wall Street Journal) I’d assume that people use the WSJ to make help them make financial decisions. Would you take investment advice from an advisor who dissembles and thinks you’re stupid?”

    This would make a perfect letter to the editor of the WSJ. It cuts to the quick.

    Comment by Tom Rooney — 24 Feb 2012 @ 1:19 PM

  17. SA: Well, that’s the whole point — to make sure that any serious effort to address AGW is “off the table” for the foreseeable future.

    It’s fun to imagine a world where tomorrow or a month from now the last remaining reserves of hydrocarbons were finished being monetized. Exactly how quickly would the contrarian universe collapse? How many “Fellows” from how many “thinktanks” would find themselves looking for their next opportunity for carpetbagging? How many unpaid volunteer chumps would be looking for another hobbyhorse to ride?

    Comment by dbostrom — 24 Feb 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  18. Prof. Bickmore asks why the authors of the letter compared long term projections to short term data, while omitting the bars on the projections. He is too polite to answer the question, but I am not. Their intent was to mislead, in short they were lying.

    Prof. Bickmore further states that he is astonished by the level of deception exhibited by the authors in the letter. I am not, for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is a cesspit. The only advantage of reading it might be to educate the more naive among us in the interests and motives of the few thousand families who run the USA.

    Naomi Klein has pointed out that denialist positions are not necessarily based on ignorance or misunderstanding of the science. Quite often they spring from the accurate perception that the measures to mitigate fossil carbon release must invoke increased regulation, increased governmental power, increased costs of production as the costs of CO2 release are internalized, and redistribution of resources from the developed countries to the developing world. All these are anathema to to a robber-baron’s soul, such as it is, to be resisted by every means possible. Some of these means include paying shills to mouth propaganda in exchange for their thirty pieces of silver. Some involve legal attacks on climate scientists. Others might be orchestrating sock puppets on web fora, such as this one.

    sidd

    Comment by sidd — 24 Feb 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  19. Whatever the Journal’s desire, Romm says
    http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2012/02/24/431830/bipartisan-support-carbon-price-debt-deal/#more-431830

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  20. Barry Bickmore -

    The line for the IPCC First Assessment Report is clearly way off, but back in 1990 the climate models didn’t include important things like ocean circulation, so that’s hardly surprising

    I was interested that you said the above – even though it would be very strange to deny it. I’ve been reading a SkepticalScience post – http://www.skepticalscience.com/lessons-from-past-climate-predictions-ipcc-far.html – about the predictions of the IPCC FAR, and it seems to exceed the deceptions of the WSJ article by an order of magnitude.

    I recommend open-minded readers have a look bearing in mind that they refuse to put up a graph showing the FAR predictions. Their baffling and tortured excuse for an apologetic ends with this quote

    “..even two decades ago, global climate models were making very accurate projections of future global warming”

    I’m glad you were able to tell it like it is. It’s quite refreshing in these partisan times.

    Comment by Anteros — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:02 PM

  21. I notice that the “l-word” has been used emphatically above. Let’s remember that cranks exist as a normal part of the human landscape. And the WSJ 16 are a cranky lot aren’t they?

    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=ebd65ed3-80c2-441b-98ca-c4fbc7233e96&p=1

    for example.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:03 PM

  22. @1…
    Disagree with point 4 being “minor”. By starting the prediction line at a local max, even a totally correct prediction line of the correct slope will be assured of being above the measured values. It give the appearance but not the reality of “serious underprediction”.

    Example R snippet showing what I mean:

    x <- seq(0,10,by=.01)
    y <- 2*cos(5*x) + .2*x
    plot(x,y)
    abline(2,.2)

    Note the trend is "obviously" mispredicted.

    This is one of those small deceits that actually fools people–as I think @8 is fooled if I understand that post.

    Comment by jgnfld — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:32 PM

  23. The warming Arctic is so strong that it not only makes this WSJ op-ed look like its made by US isolationists not looking beyond the contiguous USA, again a dishonest presentation, for those who don’t know I showed on my website melting small glaciers since 2006! (scroll down please). Taking at face value the graph they presented would mean that these glaciers should have remained in a quiescent state, why? Because the High Arctic is mostly dark during winter, and has a low sun during summer. A sun elevation much like the one at 45 degrees latitude North at mid winter. This means that Arctic heat is dominated by advection coming from the South either from sea currents or warmer Northwards migrating Cyclones. The mock Intellectual freedom posted by WSJ here is the equivalent of propaganda during war time. The only battle they want us to do is to argue on their lala land field of our planet in no dire warming straits, the temperature graph they displayed looks similar to the real one adding on purpose a deception illusion, I strongly suggest we respond with the overwhelming evidence we have at our disposal. Exposing the truth in more than one way reveals the lies even better.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 24 Feb 2012 @ 2:49 PM

  24. Who drew the graph?

    The 16 signatories?

    The WSJ art department ?

    David Graves’ invocation of Jefferson’s fears for the State of Virginia makes one suspect its perpetration by the Association of Confederate State Cimatologists.

    Comment by Russell — 24 Feb 2012 @ 4:04 PM

  25. Anteros, your link shows several graphs of FAR estimates, did you have the wrong link? Or am I misunderstanding your accusation?

    Comment by Utahn — 24 Feb 2012 @ 4:58 PM

  26. I just realized the humor in this: “…there really is a lot of disagreement about how much humans contribute to the total. ”
    Given long term geologic trends that say we should be entering a new ice age soon, easily 110% of the observed warming can be attributed to anthropogenic CO2 (Ie, without man-made green house gases, the Earth might be in a natural cooling trend leading to an ice age, hence our GHCs trap enough heat to cause the observed temperature rise, plus the heat to compensate for the natural cooling.

    Comment by Dennis — 24 Feb 2012 @ 5:05 PM

  27. Look guys, you can pick apart any analysis of the temperature trends with a “it hasn’t been 30 years yet” or “we already fixed that problem in the latest model run”. But everyone can check out current performance and make some observations.

    1. The measured temperature trends are below expected. It may or may not correct itself. But 12 years is enough to say “it is running low” at the moment. If you want to cover your eyes until the 30 year timer expires, go ahead. I sure hope the modelers aren’t doing so, or the the model update iteration loop will take forever.

    2. The high level theory for positive feedback expects that both sea level and temperature will begin to rise in an ACCELERATING fashion giving linear or greater CO2 increases in BAU expectation. Well CO2 has been more or less BAU and there is no evidence of an accelerating temperature rise, or sea level rise (satellite measurements) over the past several decades. In fact the trends are opposite of this. I consider this the most important parameter measurement of all, am I wrong?

    Things may change in the next 10 years, one way or the other. But to sit back and pretend that no-one but a climate scientist can correctly read and interpret a graph is an insult to an engineer’s intelligence. It’s very clear all things being equal that CS is being over-estimated given the actual measurements to date.

    [Response: Lovely bit of spin - "things may change" to "it's very clear that CS is overestimated". It's not clear at all in fact - if we had better data on aerosol forcings, if we had better coverage and less uncertainty in the OHC numbers, then perhaps the recent decade would be marginally useful in constraining CS, but we don't. Your 'very clear conclusion' is only possible if you are not looking at the whole picture. - gavin]

    Worried about La Nina / El Nino causing errors? That’s not an excuse, feel free to correctly model and predict this, it’s just physics, right?

    Seriously, though, I am curious as to how to modelers make interim judgments on model quality. They must have some mechanisms, I would be very interested in posting these internal variables vs actual measurements.

    [Response: Models are assessed based on matches to satellite-era climatologies for the most part - read Schmidt et al (2006) for a discussion. - gavin]

    I suspect many will assume this type of data will only be used to attack the integrity of the models if it is released, and you would probably be right. However I think that most people (myself included) have little faith in these things to start with, so there is little ground to lose.

    I’m also curious as to how the models hold up over time at the regional level and smaller. I assume these models must map out large weather systems, pressure systems, ocean currents, etc. We all know they are quite sensitive to initial starting conditions. So it seems to me that you can compare the actual measurements of the larger systems to the models and at some point the divergence becomes so large that running the model further becomes effectively meaningless against reality. The question is: How long does that typically take? 1 month, 1 year, 10 years? I have no idea, but it seems like the model that can go the furthest has the best chance of being correct.

    I understand at a high level that the models really can’t be held to this standard to be “useful”, with chaos and probabilities taking their toll. However until the models get a track record with good prediction skill against a reasonable null model (1C per century) than they really aren’t telling us much.

    [Response: You can tell yourself this as many times as you like, but it won't make it true. - gavin]

    Comment by Tom Scharf — 24 Feb 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  28. The rough market evaluation of the top one hundred petroleum companies along with the top one hundred coal companies totals something like eight trillion dollars. Double or triple this to include sovereign, nation-state reserves and you have something like $20 trillion. This market perception is entirely based on the future prospect of mining and setting these substances on fire.

    If you wanted to prevent a market revaluation like you wouldn’t believe (with geopolitical ramifications), wouldn’t you put forward supposed learned spokespeople (usually older white males) such as this Murdoch enabled group?

    Then there is Heartland and countless other protectors of vested, invested and nation-state interests. They can all say what they want in our post-Fairness Doctrine world. Welcome to the fossil end-game, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. By the way, global fossil profits are on the scale of the half-trillion per year of public financial handouts (IEA, 2011).

    Comment by Solar Jim — 24 Feb 2012 @ 5:50 PM

  29. Tom Scharf throws out an el Nino/la Nina dismissive. What he fails to see is that successive la Ninas (the cool ones) keep getting warmer. And that includes the 12 years or so where ‘warming stopped.’ If warming stopped, why do the cool years keep getting warmer?

    Comment by muoncounter — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:15 PM

  30. Tom Scharf wrote: “But 12 years is enough to say ‘it is running low’ at the moment.”

    Actually, no, it is not.

    Gavin replied to Tom Scharf: “… read Schmidt et al (2006) for a discussion …”

    Tom might also want to read a recent RC article: 2011 Updates to model-data comparisons

    Tom Scharf wrote: “I think that most people (myself included) have little faith in these things to start with”

    Or, Tom might prefer to avoid reading that article, and just stick with what his “faith” tells him about climate science and about what “most people” think.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:16 PM

  31. #26 Gavin: “Your ‘very clear conclusion’ is only possible if you are not looking at the whole picture. – gavin”

    Well you are right about that, it is admittedly clear as mud. If the trend is low, one has to include the possibility that CS is too high. Your other comments may be correct as well of course. It is scrambled eggs, and unscrambling them is no doubt difficult in the extreme.

    I sometimes wonder if effectively reducing CS in the model is considered a “radioactive” change consciously or subconsciously. Consider that if we had versions of the 2000 models with effective lower CS, they would be forward tracking better against the current lower trend, and thus be seen as “more correct”. That would be a political liability.

    Are there model runs with lower CS being performed for the next IPCC report?

    Hansen made a comment about 40% changes in aerosol forcings, and that seemed like quite a lot. The large uncertainty in aerosols could be used as kind of get out of jail free card with regard to forcings.

    [Response: GCMs don't have their CS value set ahead of time - the CS is an emergent property of the model. You only get to diagnose it afterwards. Emulators like MAGICC can set their CS to whatever they like, and can be used to explore some other parts of phase space, but the uncertainty in the aerosol forcing precludes any real constraint on CS from the recent record. It is not as if we are not trying to do a better job with the aerosols - cf. Glory - but we have to work with the conditions that we have. - gavin]

    Comment by Tom Scharf — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:18 PM

  32. Re. 13 Ray Ladbury

    What you suggested with some extra.

    Comment by J Bowers — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:47 PM

  33. Whoops, here’s the one I meant to post.

    Comment by J Bowers — 24 Feb 2012 @ 6:50 PM

  34. Utahn @ 25

    The SkS article I linked to has some graphs but they are made up by SkS themselves. They don’t deal with the FAR predictions at all. The prediction the FAR made (and the one that Barry Bickmore says, correctly, was way off) was that temperatures would rise by about 0.3 degrees per decade if few or no steps were taken to reduce greenhouse gases (their definition of BAU) The uncertainty limits are described as 0.2-0.5 degrees per decade which corresponded to climate sensitivities of 1.5 and 4.5 degC/2xCo2. The main prediction being based on a sensitivity of 2.5 degC/2xCo2.

    That’s it – that’s what the FAR told the world in its summing up of climate science at the time. I have no problem with that, and the fact that it was ‘way off’ (at least so far) is not the point. Much has been learned since then and science progresses by making mistakes.

    However, there is something very wrong with even partisan advocates like those at SkS misrepresenting the whole report by failing to mention not only the central prediction but any prediction at all. Check it out – not a single mention of a prediction. It’s like the systematic revisionism in 1984 – which means that they can end their little fantasy piece by claiming that

    “..even two decades ago, global climate models were making very accurate projections of future global warming”

    The internet is a very strange place, [edit - no name calling please]

    [Response: Note that projections are a function of two things - the scenario and the model. What was wrong in FAR was the scenario (too fast growth rate of GHGs, no aerosols, no ozone, no BC etc.), not the model (though the projections were with simple emulators not GCMs). Indeed, models today have similar sensitivities and with the same scenario will give the same temperature rise. - gavin]

    Comment by Anteros — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:00 PM

  35. Tom Scharf wrote: “That would be a political liability.”

    So, you begin with the assumption that the design of climate models is politically motivated.

    And from that assumption, you reach the conclusion that the models have a predetermined CS which is set to a politically correct value that will produce predetermined politically correct results.

    However, as Gavin has just explained, the models don’t have a predetermined CS.

    Might this cause you to reevaluate your starting assumption? Might you consider the possibility that the scientists who design the models are actually, in good faith, trying to figure out how the climate system actually works?

    Might you consider the motives of whoever has been telling you that climate modeling is politically motivated?

    Might you consider being a little more, shall we say, SKEPTICAL of such claims?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:07 PM

  36. Chris R @ 14

    “From the title (Wall Street Journal) I’d assume that people use the WSJ to make help them make financial decisions. Would you take investment advice from an advisor who dissembles and thinks you’re stupid?”

    Weird, huh? Dating back to before Murdoch, the WSJ has long had a split and contradictory reputation between its reporting and its asinine fulminations in the op-ed section. It’s not just the WSJ of course, but I think what we’re looking at is the ossified world view of 19th century oligarchs.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:10 PM

  37. Any help coming with better aerosol forcing estimates?

    Comment by Andy — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:28 PM

  38. #27 Tom Scharf

    I note that objections about the veracity of climate science often come from engineers, which in some cases seem less capable of seeing the bigger picture, but as Gavin mentioned, you can’t change reality with your beliefs just because you don’t have enough knowledge or understanding.

    Mankind emitted more GHG’s, that will trap more heat. Just because Oceans are very good at not only absorbing that heat and turning it over to deeper ocean, which btw is a very good lead suspect in this case does not help your case.

    Natural variation of the ocean cycles can take heat down under, so to speak, but that does not change the fact that the forcing levels have been increased. Would you wait until a cancer has nearly killed you or grown to a point where recovery is extremely unlikely before you sought treatment, though you had clear knowledge of its presence, or would you upon learning early of the cancer seek treatment?

    What you are saying is let’s wait till it gets worse.

    I have but one question for you, can you prove increased GHG’s are not warming the planet?

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:33 PM

  39. The uncertainty limits are described as 0.2-0.5 degrees per decade which corresponded to climate sensitivities of 1.5 and 4.5 degC/2xCo2. The main prediction being based on a sensitivity of 2.5 degC/2xCo2.

    However, there is something very wrong with even partisan advocates like those at SkS misrepresenting the whole report by failing to mention not only the central prediction but any prediction at all.

    Anteros needs to learn to read the graphs presented in the SkS piece and understand what they mean …

    Like this one which compares the GISTemp record with the FAR’s low, best and high sensitivity estimates – “predictions” in Anteros’s lexicon – under a BAU scenario.

    The comparison that Anteros claims was not done …

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:57 PM

  40. Anteros:

    … and it seems to exceed the deceptions of the WSJ article by an order of magnitude.

    I suggest people follow his link to SkS, read carefully, and judge for themselves if it is really “an order of magnitude more deceptive than the WSJ op-ed”.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Feb 2012 @ 7:59 PM

  41. Don’t ya just love irony. Tom Scharf says, “But to sit back and pretend that no-one but a climate scientist can correctly read and interpret a graph is an insult to an engineer’s intelligence. ”

    He then proceeds to show that that he, as an engineer, cannot correctly interpret a graph. He then almost get it right, “It’s very clear all things being equal…” Ah yes, ceteris paribus… But Tom, who says ceteris is paribus? It ain’t. That is what those error bars are for…or didn’t they teach you that in engineering school?

    Tom, there’s really good documentation on the models. You could probably understand it with a few months effort at least well enough to find out why you were wrong.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:21 PM

  42. Gavin – thanks for your response. Yes, the reason for the over-estimation in FAR is clear enough. I don’t think there’s much controversy over it [if that is possible in the climate debate..] but I suppose my reason for mentioning it is that to identify the reason for predictions being ‘wrong’ it is necessary to accept that they are ‘wrong’ in the first place – which SkS very much fail to do.

    I’m surprised at the editing of my comment and the insistence on no ‘name calling [I think it was a defensible description] I suppose consistency is what I’m looking for – I noticed this on my way here @6

    Great response to the intellectually dishonest hijinks in the WSJ

    Incidentally, my reason for believing my comment was very mild was this description of working scientists @2

    These people are not “skeptics”. They are not “contrarians”. They are deliberate, calculating liars.

    - which is the kind of thing I read quite frequently here directed at dissenters from the IPCC position.

    Dhogaza @ 38. It is not ‘my’ lexicon that prompts the use of prediction it is the IPCC’s. Which you’d discover if you read the FAR. Would you disagree with Barry Bickmore that the predictions were “way off”?

    Comment by Anteros — 24 Feb 2012 @ 8:58 PM

  43. Dhogaza @ 38

    I think you have mixed up the future and the past. The predictions the FAR made were for the future. You linked to a graph going 110 years back into the past.

    You’ll also find the graph is not a representation of the BAU scenario and the FAR predictions because even the Gistemp data runs beneath the lower uncertainty bound [the 1.5 degC/2xCo2] which is why Barry Bickmore describes it as “way off”.

    Comment by Anteros — 24 Feb 2012 @ 9:24 PM

  44. which Liu paper?
    One of these, probably
    https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Arealclimate.org+liu

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Feb 2012 @ 9:49 PM

  45. Speaking of the WSJ Op-Eds, Brian Angliss wrote an open letter to engineer signatory Burt Rutan in response to the first “Gang Of 16″ Op-Ed. It’s well worth a read.

    It got even more interesting when Burt turned up in comments, apparently trying to defend the Op-Ed (and his 98-slide “there’s nothing to worry about, the concern is all due to ‘data presentation fraud’” slide deck).

    Have a read for yourself and see if you think Burt’s claims are justifiable, whether his position in comments matches that of the Op-Ed (and slide deck), whether he demonstrates scientific understanding at a sufficient level to make the published claims that bear his name, and – given the critiques of his claims in comments – whether he demonstrates honesty in the light of additional evidence or engages in dismissal and avoidance.

    It might also be interesting to see if any of the claims in the new WSJ Op-Ed have been refuted in comments made to Burt prior to that Op-Ed’s publication date.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:06 PM

  46. Anteros,
    Well, first, I think you would have to understand that these are not predictions, but scenarios. Once you’ve got that, come back and we’ll walk you through the rest.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:11 PM

  47. Anteros, I’m having trouble understanding what your saying. You write, “I recommend open-minded readers have a look bearing in mind that they refuse to put up a graph showing the FAR predictions.”

    I’m trying to be open-minded here, but when I look at the link you provided I not only see several grapha of predictions. There is a predicted forcings due to CO2 emissions, also a graph of predicted temperature rise. And another graph of the IPCC 1990 temperature predictions along with a superimposed observed temperature (Figures 4 & 5).

    You also write, “I think you have mixed up the future and the past. The predictions the FAR made were for the future. You linked to a graph going 110 years back into the past.”

    I think you need to look again at the graph. It only starts in 1880, it ends in the 2000s, probably around 2010-2020. Further, if you click on the link you provided, Figure 5 is a graph starting at 1990 and going forward only. I think it is simply a “zoom & crop” of the graph that dhogaza linked (which is Figure 4). So just scroll down in your link and you’ll see the “graph showing the FAR predictions” that you claim SKS refused to provide. What am I missing?

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:39 PM

  48. Ray,

    Sorry, yeah, I used the word prediction when really it’s “projection”, but I think that it fits with what Anteros is claiming to be a prediction. Figure 2 in the link provided by Anteros seems to me inline with the graph provided in the IPCC Figure 6.11.

    Anteros you wrote: “The SkS article I linked to has some graphs but they are made up by SkS themselves. They don’t deal with the FAR predictions at all. The prediction the FAR made (and the one that Barry Bickmore says, correctly, was way off) was that temperatures would rise by about 0.3 degrees per decade if few or no steps were taken to reduce greenhouse gases (their definition of BAU) The uncertainty limits are described as 0.2-0.5 degrees per decade which corresponded to climate sensitivities of 1.5 and 4.5 degC/2xCo2. The main prediction being based on a sensitivity of 2.5 degC/2xCo2.”

    SkS actually wrote: “Figure 2: IPCC FAR projected global warming in the BAU emissions scenario using climate models with equilibrium climate sensitivities of 1.5°C (low), 2.5°C (best), and 4.5°C (high) for double atmospheric CO2.”

    I mean, it reads almost exactly the same. 1.5-4.5 degrees. What exactly is wrong the SkS article? Looking at it and the 1990 IPCC Chapter 6 I am unable to find the discrepancy.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 24 Feb 2012 @ 10:47 PM

  49. Anteros:”They don’t deal with the FAR predictions at all. ”

    Perhaps you should read the article more carefully before accusing them of deception.

    Comment by Utahn — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:02 PM

  50. Ray Ladbury,

    You say they are scenarios, the IPCC says they are predictions.
    I’m sorry to say I have to go with the IPCC version.

    Utahn,

    The SkS article is very clear in not mentioning any predictions at all. Are we talking about the same article?

    Comment by Anteros — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:26 PM

  51. What is unfortunate for both society and scientific certainty, is that the prior 34 years of climate changes lie within the boundaries of both CAGW narratives and solar-dominant theories. As time and ARs have progressed, the less alarming forecasts are becoming more likely, with sea-levels rises, as well as temperature rises, dropping to moderate – but still higher than skeptical – positions. In order to attain the catastrophic levels of 6* and >2 m of sea-level rise by 2100, within the next decade multiples of current warming and melting rates must occur. This looks unlikely if today is a reasonable predictor of the near-future.

    The Earth’s fate hangs in the balance, with Man a minor bit of flesh to be wiped from the scene. That is how the alarm is given to drive the significant economic, political and lifestyle changes that are proposed to deal with the “pollutant” CO2. Without the catastrophic outcome, the uniqueness of CO2 as a villian disappears. The radiative properties, especially the water vapour feedback, in the essence of CAGW cannot exist. “Normal” heating and cooling cycles gain in credibility as the superpowers of CO2 wane.

    Error bars on both sides: nature is still within the error bars. Nature is at the low end of the CAGW scenarios, however, over the past 10 years. How many more years will it take to falsify one or the other side? I think 3: due to the linear nature of CO2 growth, the potential disconnect between temperatures and sea-levels will be significant by 2015 if current trends continue. This does not mean that CO2 is off the hook, but that the natural elements have more impact than they are supposed to have in CAGW/IPCC theory. And you can’t have it both ways. If nature can defeat CO2 powers, but you say that, relative to CO2, nature is weak, then you have a Catch 22.

    The models are either certain and the science, settled, or they are not. CO2 is dominant, or it is not. If unknown, i.e. subtle, natural variations stop CO2 effects, and an 18-year trend is not in the vision, then the models, the science and the power of CO2 are misunderstood. The science is then not settled, the outcome not certain and the threat to the world either overblown or simply indeterminable at this time.

    Don’t worry,all you who hope to correct Man’s ways through CO2 control. The Precautionary Principle still applies, though the force of argument is less. Just mind that some political leaders don’t use the Precautionary Principle against your causes. Considering the expense and the trouble to come through CO2-based legislation, changing the world’s governments, social behaviour and individual freedoms are very large, dangerous and expensive operations that might, on a Precautionary basis, be considered too harmful to continue.

    Comment by Doug Proctor — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:33 PM

  52. Would you disagree with Barry Bickmore that the predictions were “way off”?

    Yes, actually.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:53 PM

  53. Anteros:

    I think you have mixed up the future and the past. The predictions the FAR made were for the future. You linked to a graph going 110 years back into the past.

    And up to the present as of the time the SkS article was published, showing a nice in-bounds match going 20 years forward of the FAR projection.

    “future” for FAR was 20 years of history for the graph I linked.

    I’m sure this is far to subtle for your brain to understand.

    I don’t care.

    The non-brain damaged people here will understand.

    Comment by dhogaza — 24 Feb 2012 @ 11:57 PM

  54. #43–Anteros, you are not making any sense. Perhaps your insistence on the word ‘prediction’ is confusing you?

    Yes, I read that you took that term from FAR; but the graphs in the SkS post, which I took from your link as posted above, show simulations starting at 1850 and running through 2100. They are thus both ‘hindcasts’ and (whatever FAR may have called them in 1990) projections.

    I insist on “projection” because that is in accordance with current usage; implied is that fact that projections assume certain conditions, and if–as in the case of the radiative forcings assuming in FAR–those conditions do not materialize, results will differ. That’s the central point that the SkS post is making; and you say you understand it–”the reason for the over-estimation in FAR is clear enough. I don’t think there’s much controversy over it…”

    I really don’t understand why you say that the post didn’t deal with the FAR projections/predictions. That’s exactly what Graph 2 is, and according to the text, Graph 3 is a digitization of the same curves done by the SkS writer. Do I really have to Google up FAR and compare?

    Sigh. OK then…

    Chapter 6, page 190.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_06.pdf

    “The choices made for these projections…”

    Hmm. Guess that “prediction was the FAR term” thing was erroneous.

    Boy, that graph in Figure 6.11(a) sure looks like the one from the SkS post…

    Anteros, after checking back with FAR you make still less sense than before. Sorry, but there it is–you’re wrong about the terminology, and you’re wrong about SkS not dealing with the projections as given in FAR.

    Still, I did learn something; the experiments that were the subject of all this weren’t ‘straight out of the model,’ if I’m reading FAR Chapter 6 correctly; rather, the model output was used to drive a simpler parameterized model of the oceanic response to get the actual temperature projections.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:03 AM

  55. It seems pretty clear that some people are pretty edgy about reading anything on SkS or, for the matter of that, here, and believing it. They feel they need to handle it with care, or they will be polluted.

    I hope you (Sharf and Anteros, who seems a mite more open-minded, which ain’t sayin’ much) will consider the possibility that it is the closed mind about legitimated sources that is the problem, and not the recommended sources. You also need to read Mike Mann’s book with an open mind, or other stuff like that.

    If you could, for a moment, put yourselves in the shoes of scientists who do this for a living (having dedicated their lives and a considerable amount of education and hard work to arriving there) trying to be patient and provide information to a person who is, essentially saying, “eek, a mouse” to them about real information, you might make some progress.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:35 AM

  56. Anteros @ 11:02pm,

    You write: “You say they are scenarios, the IPCC says they are predictions.
    I’m sorry to say I have to go with the IPCC version.”

    Well, they actually call them projections if you want to be picky. But let’s be honest, you haven’t read the IPCC report, otherwise you’d know that the word scenario is used far more frequently than the word prediction, as in this sentence, “This result compares reasonably well with the estimate of 55% obtained by running the box diffusion model of Section 6.6 with similar scenario of radiative forcing and a climate sensitivity of 4°C for a doubling of CO2 (see Figure 6.7 later).”

    Also from IPCC: “Also shown (Figure 6 11) are projections of future climate change using radiative forcing from IPCC Business-as-Usual and B-D emission scenarios, for values of the climate sensitivity AT2x equal to 1.5, 2.5 and 4.5°C”

    I’m not sorry to say I have to go with the IPCC and not your flawed interpretation.

    In fact, Anteros, the word prediction is used only twice in that chapter, and the sentences it occurs in do not include numbers.

    You also write: “The SkS article is very clear in not mentioning any predictions at all. Are we talking about the same article?”

    I don’t think we are anymore. I’m talking about the article you linked.

    PS – I apologize for typos in quotes from IPCC, the OCR isn’t perfect.

    PPS – Got the captcha wrong last time, so sorry if this is a duplicate posting.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:41 AM

  57. @Barry Brickmore. You wrote: If you were to calculate the slope of the data WITH error bars, the model predictions would very likely be in that range.
    But the model predictions have even greater error bars so which slope of the model prediction (which model) do you use to compare ?
    The problem of model verification reminds me of the debate between Judith Curry et al. and Hegerl et al. on the attribution study of the IPCC report (Figure 9.7 in AR4). If I understand corrrectly, J.A. Curry and P.J. Webster in their paper: Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster, Bulletin of the American Society 2011) argue that climate models underestimate long term natural variations. G. Hegerl, P. Stott, S. Solomon et F. Zwiers wrote a reply paper also in BAS stating that the model predictions were within the error bars of the data. Eventually Judith Curry stated that the error bars were too large to really say whether or not the climate models can predict natural fluctuations. Comments anyone ?

    Comment by RaymondT — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:18 AM

  58. #38 John P. Reisman “What you are saying is let’s wait till it gets worse.”

    After years of unnecessary and premature surgery this approach (Managed Surveillance) is now the preferred treatment for prostate cancer.

    Comment by simon abingdon — 25 Feb 2012 @ 4:39 AM

  59. Doug Proctor- you sound like a repeat performance from the WSJ. I suggest you check into paleo climate records on sustained levels of C02 at the current level of 394ppm- go back to the Pliocene, or beyond that the Miocene- it was a very different planet. Lat time C02 levels where around 800ppm- in the early Eocene the planet was ice free and alligators where in Greenland.

    [edit - less speculation about motive please]

    Comment by Peter — 25 Feb 2012 @ 7:14 AM

  60. Anteros @20 started a bit of an altercation running down this thread. His was a call for honesty, congratulating Barry Bickmore for describing the FAR being “way off” and criticises SkS for an item that “seems to exceed the deceptions of the WSJ article by an order of magnitude.
    I am inclined to strongly disagree with Anteros’s assertion to the point of calling him badly wrong. Whether they contain ‘deceptions’ or not, I would argue that the WSJ letter is the more excessive in its mis-representations.

    In fig 5 of the SkS item linked by Anteros, the IPCC FAR temperature rises are graphed at what appears to be approx 0.20 deg C / decade. Yet fig2 of that SkS item (& IPCC FAR fig 6.11b) approximates to 0.23 deg C / decade. (Note that these graphs fig 2 & fig 6.11b were never intended for such detailed analysis.)
    A difference of 0.03 deg C / decade would be noticeable on the SkS fig 5 but not to the extent of undermining the SkS conclusions. Indeed the difference would be likely unnoticeable in SkS fig 2.

    The WSJ graph differs from the SkS graph in using HadCRUT3 rather than GISS. The deficiencies of the former are well documented. Over the two decades in question, the HadCRUT3 record has dropped behind the GISS record at a rate of something like 0.018 deg C / decade.
    Further the FAR temperature rise as graphed in the WSJ letter is something like 0.30 deg C / decade, a value significantly more difficult to support.
    (One could also discuss the validity of the manner of the IPCC lines being positioned on the WSJ graph, being fixed to abnormally warm years & with IPC AR 2,3&4 plotted past the temperature record.)
    All this does not amount to “an order of magnitude” difference in error/mis-representation/deception although that difference of 2.5 – 3 times the mis-representation applies to the WSJ not SkS. (Note the WSJ letter is not free from other mis-representations.)

    Barry Bickmore likely pronounced IPCC FAR “way off” without considering that the WSJ graph may have been even more “way off.” SkS is being very generous describing the IPCC FAR as “very accurate.” However, given the assumptions made within FAR, the accuracy it did achieve is remarkable.

    Comment by MARodger — 25 Feb 2012 @ 7:16 AM

  61. @simon abingdon #58:

    #38 John P. Reisman “What you are saying is let’s wait till it gets worse.”

    After years of unnecessary and premature surgery this approach (Managed Surveillance) is now the preferred treatment for prostate cancer.

    Because many more men die with prostate cancers than of prostate cancers; and prostate cancers are sufficiently slow-acting that delay has less implications for the outcome than unnecessary premature treatment.

    The best evidence is that the longer we wait before doing anything about anthropogenic CO2 induced global warming, the more warming we lock in and therefore the worse the outcome – and the greater the dislocation caused to our civilisation in trying to adapt to the warmer world we have caused. The prostate cancer model is not helpful…

    Comment by Robin Levett — 25 Feb 2012 @ 9:59 AM

  62. http://www.monbiot.com/2012/02/24/anything-to-declare/

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 25 Feb 2012 @ 10:00 AM

  63. If I understand corrrectly, J.A. Curry and P.J. Webster in their paper: Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster, Bulletin of the American Society 2011) argue that climate models underestimate long term natural variations…

    Eventually Judith Curry stated that the error bars were too large to really say whether or not the climate models can predict natural fluctuations. Comments anyone ?

    If you’re right, the second claim by judith contradicts the claim she made with Pj Webster in the Uncertainy Monster paper. I’m so disillusioned by Curry that I’m not going to bother to verify your conclusion. It sounds like just about what I’d expect.

    Comment by dhogaza — 25 Feb 2012 @ 10:01 AM

  64. As a former Wall Street Quant, all I have to say is, this is some pretty poor quantitative analysis on the part of the WSJ. If you analyzed financial trends as poorly as the climate trends were analyzed here, you would lose your shirt. Oh wait a minute… that’s exactly what happened to so many Wall St. professionals in 2008.

    Comment by Bob F — 25 Feb 2012 @ 10:10 AM

  65. Unsettled Scientist (and others)

    Firstly, you could all direct your questions at Prof’ Bickmore or query why he says the FAR predictions are “way off”. In agreeing with him I’ve given a link to an SkS article which claims something very different.

    U.S. you say

    And another graph of the IPCC 1990 temperature predictions along with a superimposed observed temperature (Figures 4 & 5).

    This is the heart of the matter and fundamentally not true. It is also the reason why SkS do not use the word prediction once in the whole article – they would be obliged to actually refer to the FAR prediction, which they do not.

    The deceptive graph (fig 5) is not a graph of the 1990 temperature predictions. It is something made up by SkS – what the FAR temperature predictions might have been had their emissions scenario not been wrong – which it was. They have not, in any way, shown a graph of the IPCC 1990 temperature predictions – that would have ruined their article completely!

    To get a rough idea of the reality of the FAR prediction, look at the graph Prof’ Bickmore discusses above and from which everyone can see clearly that the FAR prediction was way off. Compare that to the SkS figure 5 and I’ll leave it to you to describe what you think they’ve done. Perhaps you’ll agree with SecularAnimist @ 3

    Comment by Anteros — 25 Feb 2012 @ 10:29 AM

  66. Anteros, Kevin McKinney has provided a link to the relevant chapter in the FAR, and a simple search shows that the word “prediction” features twice in some basic text, but the chapter consistently uses “projection” when referring to the various scenarios (see figure 6.11, page 190). In fact, the word “projections” is even in the TITLE of the relevant section!

    Your claim about SkS is therefore, to put it mildly, just plain wrong.

    Moreover, SkS DOES show a graph of the 1990 temperature “predictions” (in reality projections). It is Figure 2 in the blogpost:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/FAR_projections.png
    They then made a new figure that uses the best estimate (climate sensitivity 2.5 degrees per doubling), added the confidence interval, and added the data for GISTEMP resulting in Figure 3:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/IPCC_FAR_Since_1880.png

    Figures 4 and 5 have been made with the measured forcing. You call that deceptive, I call that appropriate. In essence it shows that it is not the model that is so bad, but rather the BAU in FAR was not the BAU as we have seen.

    Comment by Marco — 25 Feb 2012 @ 11:42 AM

  67. Anteros,

    I object strongly to your use of words like “deceptive” in reference to the SkS author or post.

    The SkS article is very clear in stating what it is presenting. There is nothing deceptive about it… it is perfectly clear, unless you choose not to read the text.

    They say, before presenting figures 4 and 5 (emphasis mine):

    However, as noted above, the actual GHG increase and radiative forcing has been lower than the IPCC BAU, perhaps because of steps taken to reduce emissions like the Kyoto Protocol, or perhaps because their BAU was too pessimistic.

    Regardless of the reason, we’re not really interested in how well the IPCC scenarios projected the GHG changes; we want to know the accuracy of the model temperature projections. We can take the observed atmospheric GHG changes into account, and see what the model would look like with the up-to-date estimates of the GHG forcings from the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (Figure 4).

    Unless someone has a serious reading deficiency, it should be clear to them that the SkS article is saying that they are showing what those predictions would look like if the proper GHG changes had been taken into account (i.e by removing the flawed emissions scenario and replacing it with a reflection of what really happened).

    Why is this so difficult for you to understand, or accept?

    Please stop (immediately) with the accusations of dishonesty on the part of SkS. Your own inability to understand and read is not a reflection on their character, and your projection of malfeasance on their part is insulting and unsupported by the facts.

    Comment by Sphaerica (Bob) — 25 Feb 2012 @ 11:56 AM

  68. Re Curry and the uncertainty monster. It seems to me that the paper Foster and Rahmstorf (2011)demonstrated that the major causes of “natural variation” could actually be quantified and corrected for. We may not be able to predict what these will do in the future with great certainty, but we can identify and remove their influence from the overall climate response. This mightily decreases any uncertainty we might have on what CO2 is doing to the climate response — it is doing what models say it should be doing based on physics.

    F & R did what scientists do when faced with uncertainty; Curry does what a propagandist does.

    Comment by Gator — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:11 PM

  69. Anteros,

    As I think Gavin noted above and I can confirm from my own experience in modeling elsewhere… you use a model by giving it a scenario to run. The validity of the scenario is a separate question from the validity of the model.

    There is no one claiming (nor should they be) that they can forecast human activity, (CO2 emissions, particulate emissions), or volcanic activity. We don’t forecast weather to predict ENSO with any certainty. These things are what we give a climate model as part of the the scenarios it runs, the run parameters.

    If the FAR group got their scenarios wrong, so what? For me the question is what the model does when given the right scenario. Is there some reason you believe that having made a bad choice of scenarios back then matters?

    So I see no contradiction between Professor Bickmore using FAR with its original scenarios vs latter IPCC models running with theirs, vs SkS giving the FAR model the actual circumstances that happened in the future of the FAR model. Nor do I see any deception. I do see what I think is an arbitary and bizzare standard being set by you.

    Comment by Dave123 — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  70. No one has responded to Doug @51. Maybe there is bad past history. But I’ll bite anyhow, hoping I’m not feeding a troll. What solar dominant theories? Who has published GCMs and corresponding scenarios with solar dominant theories and what do they predict? How well do they hindcast? Reference(s) please!

    For that matter, how does a solar dominant theory account for the hottest La Nina year on record? (2011)

    And finally, GCMs do not model solar activity. Solar activity is a scenario component. If the sun suddenly drops its output and the earth cools… this is an unpredictable event that in no way damages the credibility of GCMs.

    Comment by Dave123 — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:21 PM

  71. Apologies for misspelling Scharf. Glad to see you’re coming to learn from the experts. Hope you don’t let your ego and self-conviction get in the way of checking out what is going on here.

    I’d love a clear definition of the qualifications and/or educational disciplines needed to continue to develop in climate science. We are getting a lot of faux “experts” with top honors from other fields (Stott, for example). I know it’s impossible, as climate science is a relatively new discipline and encompasses so many different areas of expertise, but a partial list would do.

    Things like paleoclimatogy, water resources, weather/meteorology, geology … even the social scientists, anthropologists, historians, to figure out where historical anecdotal and physical evidence might be found, how the brain works and why it is so stubborn, the list goes on. Stephen Schneider’s on the IPCC and he and Mann on their formation and work show how various disciplines were pulled in.

    We are getting an awful lot of physicists outside the field (and the old emeritus problem, but not all emeriti have ego and perception problems) and mathematicians who claim they know everything. The layperson is confused by this, and will take (sometimes hoary) eminence as authority.

    Among other problems, many of them have a reductionist view that limits the interface with an ever-changing and fascinating world, a point of view that is a handicap for a scientist trying to understand and describe the real world.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 25 Feb 2012 @ 12:49 PM

  72. Dhogaza @ 52 & 53

    You say you “would” disagree with Prof’ Bickmore. Please do then, and perhaps you could say to him exactly what you said to me – on the grounds that I agree with him -

    I’m sure this is far to subtle for your brain to understand.

    If he is not around you could try Gavin, who (reasonably) agrees with me about why the FAR predictions were wrong.

    To others -
    Some of you are still insisting that the FAR didn’t make predictions. This is tedious – the SPM and Overview both have a central statement saying We predict and the prediction is that if few or no steps are taken to limit GHG emissions, there will be 0.3 deg of temperature rise per decade [1 degree C specified by 2025] This not a projection, it is a prediction (which makes SkS’s use of projection as very very dubious)

    Someone mentioned that the ‘model’ was not wrong. I – and Prof’ Bickmore – claimed that the prediction was way off. It was. If you’re not interested in that, then fine. It was what was presented as the best science could offer to the leaders of the world – that unless significant steps were taken to reduce GHG emissions there would be a temperature rise of 0.3deg per decade, which as Gavin notes, was wrong. You can offer up the 0.2 deg per decade but that lower limit of uncertainty was made with a sensitivity of 1.5deg/2xCo2. I don’t think many of you want to go there.. and remember that even after 22 years the Gistemp trend is still below that 0.2degC per decade.

    You can talk about why the prediction was (or its model inputs were) wrong, but the FAR made a central prediction for the world’s leaders to consider. It was way off, and accepting that it was so is the first step to making better predictions.

    Comment by Anteros — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:15 PM

  73. That is, books by Schneider and Mann. The former is:
    Stephen Schneider, Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save the Earth’s Climate

    It is among other things an insider picture of early IPCC work, and IMNHSO a “must read” particularly for those who would like to or fail to comprehend the work and role of the IPCC. Scientists are not white knights, but at the higher levels they tend to be intelligent as well as smart, and they work hard to find ways to create understanding and work with that understanding.

    Mann, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (yes, I know nobody here needs this info, but just in case)

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:34 PM

  74. Of course, Judith Curry says the op-ed “hit the nail on the head.”

    How surprising. I wasn’t too nice about that on her blog.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:36 PM

  75. Anteros #71 – actually, we want to go wherever the evidence leads. I’m looking forwards to knowing more about the heat absorption capabilities of the planet, especially with the amount of energy taken up melting ice in the Arctic.

    Comment by guthrie — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:43 PM

  76. Anteros,

    What is your opinion of Foster and Rahmsdorf (2011), which seems to me to show that 5 major temperature tracking groups show about 0.2 C/decade from 1980 to 2010?

    Comment by Dave123 — 25 Feb 2012 @ 1:48 PM

  77. #58 simon abingdon

    Simon, I truly look forward to the day when you cease your focus on non sequitur arguments and focus on relevance.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:06 PM

  78. The devolving neaderthals deniers scored just because the WSJ published their gibberish. Murdoch owns the WSJ. Maybe all he cares about is whether he sells more papers. Its hard to believe he actually wants to cause a civilization threatening crisis, but its becoming easy to believe he could care less if he did.

    I would find what the authors of the article did as astonishing as Bickmore does, but I’ve been contemplating similar things for more than twenty years. The first time I realized there were people capable of doing things like this I experienced the horror that our species cannot survive.

    Comment by David Lewis — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:31 PM

  79. This is an interesting puzzle. For what it’s worth here’s my opinion:

    Barry Bickmore said:

    “The line for the IPCC First Assessment Report is clearly way off, but back in 1990 the climate models didn’t include important things like ocean circulation, so that’s hardly surprising.”

    This is clearly a correct statement given that projection.

    Now the line is what the model produces given specified forcings. I think SKS show that the specified forcings were out and that once adjusted for, the line (projection) agrees well with observations. So my conclusion; the forcings were out, but the model was correct. Compared to getting the model correct (a hard task in itself) getting the forcings correct into the future is an almost insurmountable problem. We will hit this issue again throughout this century.

    I see what you mean regarding the words projection and prediction, I’ve had a similar problem recently with a paper that was published in the publication “Doklady Earth Sciences”. The paper concerned was entitled “Predicted Methane Emission on the East Siberian Shelf.” However upon reading it (AFTER paying £35 for the privilege >:| ), it became apparent that whilst the paper’s title refers to ‘prediction’, and that word is used many times throught the paper; as I understand it, this isn’t what they’re doing: The paper uses scenarios of methane emission and considers the radiative/temperature impacts of these scenarios. So I conclude that this is a ‘lost in translation’ issue; where they say _prediction_ I understand them to mean _projection_ because scenarios are involved.

    I’m not a qualified scientist, just some bloke who reads the science, so my understanding may be wrong. But in my opinion if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a duck, even if someone calls it a goose. So when I read ‘prediction’, and I see that models and scenarios are involved, I interpret the word as ‘projection’ because I understand a projection to be a combination of model + assumptions.

    Comment by Chris R — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:39 PM

  80. Anteros @71
    You seem rather keen to agree with people. You say more than once that you agree with Barry Bishmore & @64 you say we should direct our questioning at him. This is of course a cop out.
    Barry Bickmore stated “The line for the IPCC First Assessment Report is clearly way off, but back in 1990 the climate models didn’t include important things like ocean circulation, so that’s hardly surprising.” He made no big thing about it. You on the other hand do make a big thing out of it. That is going well beyond agrement with him.

    Your “way off” line in the WSJ graph is inappropriately used to test the IPCC FAR temperature projections/predictions or whatever they are.
    IPCC FAR is saying there will be an average rise of 0.3 deg C / decade over the whole century. The 1 deg C rise 1990-2025 would average 0.28 deg C / decade. The 1990-2010 rise shown on fig 6.11 is 0.23 deg C / decade.
    SkS fig 5 gives 0.20 deg C / decade & Sphaerica @66 explains why there is a variation (as does the SkS item if folk read it properly, unlike me @59). This small variation from FAR fig 6.11 (& from SkS fig 2) seen in SkS fig 5 is thus explained if not justified.

    What remains entirely unexplained or justified is the far larger variation exhibited by the “way off” line in the WSJ graph.
    As you seem to be in strong support of it, perhaps you could oblige.

    Comment by MARodger — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:45 PM

  81. Be careful of binary positions regarding IPCC modeling.

    The following is a graph of “model projections” of global temperatures as depicted in the IPCC AR4.
    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-ts-26.html

    And here is the same chart with updated observations.
    http://www.rhinohide.org/gw/publications/ipcc/ar4/img/ts26-updated-2011.jpg

    The added observations are HadCRUTv3 and are only ‘hand-fitted’ to the chart via an image editor.

    Comment by Ron Broberg — 25 Feb 2012 @ 2:53 PM

  82. #76 John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation)

    Hi John, good to hear from you again. simon

    Comment by simon abingdon — 25 Feb 2012 @ 3:12 PM

  83. John West @ 8 said “According to the IPCC AR4 individual realizations graph above, the global average temperature has been below the average of the ensembles for about 6 years with varying degrees of variance.”

    This assumes that average of the ensembles will give the average global temperature (anomaly). However, there is no valid reason to believe that. In fact given all the possible outcomes it is extremely unlikely that it would happen.

    Comment by Turboblocke — 25 Feb 2012 @ 3:58 PM

  84. I have several questions concerning the model from the first IPCC assessment report. Bickmore states that “The line for the IPCC First Assessment Report is clearly way off, but back in 1990 the climate models didn’t include important things like ocean circulation, so that’s hardly surprising.” However, the error range was not shown for this model in the WSJ article either. Has the averaged surface temperature trend left the error range for this model? Moreover, how do newer averaged models compare to the first IPCC model in their ability to hindcast? Finally, other than ocean circulation what factors have changed the models the most since 1990?

    Comment by Jeffrey — 25 Feb 2012 @ 4:46 PM

  85. Anteros @64 writes, “This is the heart of the matter and fundamentally not true. It is also the reason why SkS do not use the word prediction once in the whole article – they would be obliged to actually refer to the FAR prediction, which they do not.”

    You’re simply wrong. I assumed you had carefully read the SkS post you linked, as well as the IPCC FAR, since you are critiquing them, but it appears my assumption was incorrect. Simply using the search function of a web browser will allow one to see that your claim that the word prediction is never used ev once in the SkS article is false. Further, as I pointed out, the word prediction is only used twice int he relevant chapter of the 1900 IPCC report.

    More the point, I started studying climatology after the CRU email controversy. In reading the complete emails for myself I realized that focusing on this word play is not used to illuminate the science, but rather to obscure it. I will no longer play this Scrabble game with you. I’m here to discuss the substance of the science, not get into tiresome semantical arguments.

    If you wish to have a serious and engaging discussion, and you claim that SkS is misrepresenting the FAR, please don’t just state it, provide a citation. Please point out the relevant graphs, or lines and provide the pages from the IPCC FAR. Continuing this nonsense about the word prediction is not productive or meaningful.

    PS – again, sorry if I dupe, keep messing up on recaptcha.

    Comment by Unsettled Scientist — 25 Feb 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  86. RaymondT @57

    So was it legitimate for the WSJ authors to say that trends don’t match the data, or not? The answer is NO. The question of model testing in general goes way beyond that question.

    From my point of view, it seems like there are any number of ways for the models to get the right answers in the short term for the wrong reasons, so if the models do happen to be off significantly at some point, it wouldn’t surprise me. It may just mean that certain short-term effects (aerosols, ocean circulation, whatever) are treated incorrectly. In the long term, though, the final state of the climate is already constrained by paleoclimate data, with which we can look over much longer time periods, where those short-term effects can’t play much of a role. Yes, there’s uncertainty there, too, but it’s of a different type. And guess what? The paleoclimate data tells us that it’s very improbable the climate is so insensitive that we don’t have to worry about cutting emissions. People like Dick Lindzen can only come to the conclusions they do by ignoring this entire field.

    Comment by Barry Bickmore — 25 Feb 2012 @ 5:39 PM

  87. > simon … prostate

    Sounds like a “they’re all going to die of something else anyway, why rule out that are profitable in the short run” approach.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 25 Feb 2012 @ 5:52 PM

  88. It is true that the FAR SPM uses the term “prediction” more than does Chapter 6 of the Assessment Report itself. And it appears, looking at the SPM, that that is the source of the exact graph reproduced in the SkS post we’ve been discussing. (For some reason, it goes back to 1850, whereas the version in Ch. 6 goes back only to 1875.)

    (By the way, the FAR SPM can be found here.)

    Nevertheless, by whatever terminology, it was made clear in the FAR discussion–and revisited in the SkS piece reviled by Anteros–that correspondence between predicted/projected temperatures and observed would depend critically on the evolution of emissions and other factors affecting GHG concentrations.

    In the event, the Scenario A emissions pathway did not materialize–thankfully. Needless to say, that leaves the corresponding result in FAR untested–not refuted, as Anteros claims.

    SkS tries to draw conclusions about the FAR models, relatively crude as they were, by taking into account the actual forcings. As has been pointed out, they explain what they do, and why. I fail to see anything deceptive in that–unlike the WSJ piece.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 25 Feb 2012 @ 5:57 PM

  89. An earlier poster wrote “The devolving neaderthals deniers scored”

    It seems to me that using terminology such as neaderthals misleads and confuses without any countervailing benefit. I believe that best way to counter the WSJ op-editorialists is to assume that they are sincere and to try to understand why they take the position they do and what actions one could take to allow them to become better and more accurately informed.

    One may be better able to influence the debate if one thinks of them as really smart guys who observe various facts reach the conclusions that they state.

    For example, one of the signers, Ed David, is a member of both the NAS and the NAE (elected at about age 40–41) and was director of research at Bell Labs. It is highly likely that he is extremely smart. Similarly, Harrison Schmitt got his BS from Cal Tech, his PhD from Harvard. I could probably go on down the list with similar observations, but I happened to know something about the background of these two.

    Dumping on these guys rather than trying to understand why they say what they do may make one feel good but it looks a little tacky, and, as best I can tell does not advance the ball.

    Observer,

    PS, it is usually spelled neanderthal

    [Response: You may know something about the background of "these two," but you're hardly giving a complete picture of Ed David's career. In fact he left Bell Labs way back in 1970, and after a few other things (like being Nixon's science advisor) he wound up as head of research for Exxon, from 1977 to 1986. He hardly qualifies as a disinterested physicist. And anyway, this is a guy who was born in 1925, hasn't been involved in any real research since around 1970, and has never had anything significant to do with the core areas of physics necessary to understand climate science. OK, so maybe Ed David did something significant in science or engineering 40 years ago, but I hardly see that that is prima faciae evidence that his sweeping pronouncements about public policy today deserve to be taken seriously. --raypierre]

    Comment by observer — 25 Feb 2012 @ 5:58 PM

  90. I believe that best way to counter the WSJ op-editorialists is to assume that they are sincere and to try to understand why they take the position they do and what actions one could take to allow them to become better and more accurately informed.

    They are well informed. Nobody with those kinds of credentials can claim that they are uninformed in this matter. They’re disbelief is a matter of faith.

    Comment by Thomas Lee Elifritz — 25 Feb 2012 @ 6:14 PM

  91. Susan Anderson

    A most interesting series of comments on this and the previous thread.

    While we are on the subject of personalities, I wonder if P.W. will remember one of the sixteen signatories to this op-ed? I was interested to see his name there. He is not an extremist like Lubos, but my guess is that he may have limited his spare time reading. All I have seen from him ,since Oxburgh, are bits of Wegman, McIntyre, Akasofu and Pat Frank. Thats not a balanced set of experts from whom a a beginner can obtain a good overview of the subject.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 25 Feb 2012 @ 7:00 PM

  92. Jeffrey @ 83, I too would like to see compiled information regarding the evolution of climate models and their comparative strengths and weaknesses.

    Comment by Ron Broberg — 25 Feb 2012 @ 7:27 PM

  93. Ron Broberg – You might check the Index link at top of the page which will yield this list, or the ‘Category’ link to the right, which finds this post by Gavin. Maybe not as much detail on the design as you’d like,but enlightening.

    Comment by flxible — 25 Feb 2012 @ 7:45 PM

  94. I too would like to see compiled information regarding the evolution of climate models and their comparative strengths and weaknesses.

    Try this:

    Climate Models and Their Evaluation

    For a broader brush, try:

    A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming

    Comment by dbostrom — 25 Feb 2012 @ 8:22 PM

  95. 89:
    “They are well informed. Nobody with those kinds of credentials can claim that they are uninformed in this matter”

    A few years ago , I encountered WSJ Opinion editor and occasional science commentator James Taranto at a Harvard journalism seminar.

    To illustrate a point, II afterwards handed him my copy of that week’s Nature which had an article on the matter.

    He examined it with some astonishment, turning the pages to and fro as we conversed, until I asked him the obvious question- had he ever laid hands on a copy before ?

    He replied that he had not.

    Comment by Russell — 25 Feb 2012 @ 8:33 PM

  96. I believe that best way to counter the WSJ op-editorialists is to assume that they are sincere and to try to understand why they take the position they do and what actions one could take to allow them to become better and more accurately informed.

    There is some data that should allow you to test that assumption for at least one signatory. Read the Brian Angliss open letter to Burt Rutan (after the first WSJ Op-Ed), and all of the comments.

    Note the copious comments that provide better and more accurate information to Rutan, and measure the evolution in Rutan’s positions (both in comments there, and in the WSJ Op-Ed that is the subject of this thread).

    I’m rather interested in your conclusions regarding your assumption as it applies to this signatory.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 25 Feb 2012 @ 8:48 PM

  97. I’d like to take a few moments to respond to Doug Proctor’s post at #51. I won’t cover everything, just a few items to demonstrate why I believe that this reasonable-sounding post is in fact way wrong. Let’s start with the first sentence:

    the prior 34 years of climate changes lie within the boundaries of both CAGW narratives and solar-dominant theories.

    This is not true, unless Mr. Proctor is referring to some oddball ‘solar dominant theory’. Solar output has not been shown to correlate with surface temperatures. Even if you factor in some sort of delayed response, you still don’t get any correlation. Moreover, the changes in solar output that we have observed are not large enough to cause the changes in temperatures that have been observed.

    The second sentence:

    As time and ARs have progressed, the less alarming forecasts are becoming more likely, with sea-levels rises, as well as temperature rises, dropping to moderate – but still higher than skeptical – positions.

    This is not how I perceive the data. My perception is that we started off pretty conservatively and have been driven by the data to ever more pessimistic assessments of the situation. Can you offer some sort of basis for your statement?

    Third sentence:

    In order to attain the catastrophic levels of 6* and >2 m of sea-level rise by 2100, within the next decade multiples of current warming and melting rates must occur.

    I see no basis for this statement; it’s certainly possible to fit a number of curves with positive second derivatives to the data for temperature and sea level, all of which would yield those high levels. As yet there remains considerable uncertainty, but it is incorrect to suggest that these scenarios have been rendered unlikely by current evidence.

    Fourth and fifth sentences:

    The Earth’s fate hangs in the balance, with Man a minor bit of flesh to be wiped from the scene. That is how the alarm is given to drive the significant economic, political and lifestyle changes that are proposed to deal with the “pollutant” CO2.

    It’s interesting that opponents of ACC are always connecting the politics with the science. Let me remind you that, in a rational polity, the facts drive the policy, not the other way around. FIRST you obtain the best information you have about the true situation, THEN you decide what, if anything, you’re going to do about it. I suggest that we focus our attentions on the science in this venue; after all, the authors here are scientists, not politicians. The scientific evidence that climate change presents a serious threat to our future well-being is now quite strong. How we respond to that threat, however, is a different matter.

    There follow a number of vaguely-phrased sentences that are difficult to figure out; then comes this statement:

    How many more years will it take to falsify one or the other side? I think 3: due to the linear nature of CO2 growth, the potential disconnect between temperatures and sea-levels will be significant by 2015 if current trends continue.

    I disagree that any period so short could be decisive. After all, the relaxation time for the heat content of the oceans on this scale is something like 30 years. We already have 30 years of data showing undeniable temperature increase; in that sense, the basic question of temperature rise has been solidly answered in the affirmative. In any case, whatever happens in the next 3 years will do nothing to change the situation either way. If we get three decades of deviation from existing pattern, then we can treat that as serious evidence against the ACC hypothesis. So far, though, the evidence favors ACC.

    There are again some vague statements, but then comes this:

    The models are either certain and the science, settled, or they are not. CO2 is dominant, or it is not.

    No. In science, nothing is ever certain or settled. There’s always room for new evidence to change things. However, the great preponderance of evidence supports the ACC hypothesis. Certainly in terms of the level of certainty we need to take political action, it’s safe to say that the we have solidly established the fact that inaction is more dangerous than action; at this point, the question is, how rapidly and how strongly must we take action?

    A few sentences later we come across this:

    Don’t worry,all you who hope to correct Man’s ways through CO2 control.

    I can’t recall anybody here who fits your description. The people here are scientists who are exploring a scientific question. I can never recall seeing anybody who had an apparent political motive for supporting the science of ACC. I can recall seeing lots of people here who had an apparent political motive for denying the science of climatology.

    Considering the expense and the trouble to come through CO2-based legislation, changing the world’s governments, social behaviour and individual freedoms are very large, dangerous and expensive operations that might, on a Precautionary basis, be considered too harmful to continue.

    I have certainly NEVER seen any comments here recommending regime change in any country. Indeed, I have seen very little discussion of the specifics of any legislation to address climate change. Yes, there has been a little, but it is swamped by the discussion of the science. Yes, the adjustments humanity might have to make in order to reduce CO2 emissions could well be expensive. We must balance the costs of action to prevent serious climate change against the costs of inaction. The current scenarios all project costs running into many trillions of dollars; already we are seeing annual costs in the hundreds of billions. It therefore seems appropriate to consider preventative measures on the same order of magnitude in cost. The details, of course, are the subject of a very different debate.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 25 Feb 2012 @ 9:54 PM

  98. Further to the illustrative explanations in Barry’s original post, when pointing out to Joe Public (and even to non climatologically-specialised scientists) the misrepresentations of the likes of Monckton and the Wall Street Journal’s 16, Alden Griffith’s excellent analyses are worth referring to.

    Comment by J B — 25 Feb 2012 @ 10:06 PM

  99. Mr. Proctor is referring to his own explanation; look up “doug-proctor-climate-change-is-caused-by-clouds-and-sunshine” for the long version. It’s got its own discussion forum already in progress. It’s not related to the WSJ topic.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Feb 2012 @ 12:19 AM

  100. Thanks number #93, this was just what I was looking for minus a discussion of the models in FAR.

    [Response: At the time of FAR (~1989/90), there were very few transient simulations with GCMs (Hansen et al, 1988 was pretty much it). 2xCO2 simulations were a little more plentiful. So all the transient projections used much simpler models with variable CS, ocean mixing etc - but that didn't have any 'weather'. - gavin]

    I have a few new questions perhaps someone can help me with. Considering that models are based on ‘tuned’ physics based predictions, why was the physics not able to predict that the deep ocean would store heat from a net energy gain to our climate over the last decade?

    [Response: Models are tuned based on climatology, not based on predictions. But your question is not really clear - models do predict that you will have period of surface temperature slowdowns and that this is associated with anomalous fluxes of heat into the deep ocean (Meehl et al, 2011) - but these events are a function of the weather noise/ (i.e. unforced variability), not a direct response to a (relatively predictable) forcing. - gavin]

    Is this observation changing the physics that the models are based on?

    [Response: Not really. The physics of the ocean models are being improved all the time, but because of observations of specific processes (eddy related mixing, deep overflows etc.), not because of the transient behaviour. To see why that is, try and think of some piece of physics in the ocean code that one might change that would affect the transient or the internal variability without changing something in the base state for which we have more information. It's really hard, if not impossible. - gavin]

    Moreover, while I understand the constraints on tuning within the modeling process, does it not allow for bias withing the process on the part of the tuner. I understand the the tuning is to create better simulations both in hindcasting and in predicting current phenomenon but is it not possible to have two vastly different sets of tuning both collapse towards better simulation ability?

    [Response: It's conceivable that multiple tunings might have similar skill for the climatology, though in practice it is very difficult to find them (approaches like a 'perturbed physics ensemble' will likely help, but this is enormously computer intensive, and is not being done on systematic basis yet). But again, note that the tuning is done with respect to the average conditions, not the transient response. - gavin]

    Comment by Jeffrey — 26 Feb 2012 @ 1:39 AM

  101. Barry Bickmore say that the “individual models actually predict that the temperature will go up and down for a few years at a time, but the long-term slope (30 years or more) will be about what those straight lines say.” I’ve plotted annual temperature for 23 models in my site here which show that both parts of the statement (that predictions go up and down for a few years and that the 30-year trend is followed) are both true.

    What is surprising is the difference between the models. The average temperature of the ‘hottest’ model is 15.4 °C and of the ‘coolest’ is 12.4 °C. I’ve also plotted precipitation and there are similarly large differences. The ‘wettest’ model has an average precipitation of 1184 mm/year and the ‘driest’ a precipitation of 918 mm/year. These represent large differences in forcing.

    I’ve got two questions:
    1.Do the differences between the models matter; if not, why not?
    2.Why does the IPCC almost completely ignore precipitation which is as important as temperature for climate prediction?

    Comment by Ron Manley — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:33 AM

  102. While the criticism of the WSJ article is well justified, the comment on error bars raises an obvious problem – the readers of the WSJ are unlikely to have the faintest idea of what an error bar means. Ideally our institutions of higher learning would be dealing with this problem, but I fear they are falling short. When I checked the otherwise excellent text “Global Warming..” by Archer, I failed to find any discussion of error bars or statistics. Apparently the students of a prestigious institution of higher learning are not expected to understand such basic concepts as standard deviation and normal (Gauss) distribution. I did find one “bell” curve, but sad to say it described the expected production of oil by year. Surely it would have been more useful to show how the IPCC uses the bell curve to estimate the probability distribution for climate sensitivity. Might I suggest that the NSIDC data on Arctic Ice Coverage could be used to provide a very nice illustration of how to determine trend curves { even if you can only find the error bars in the responses to FAQ’s}. A minor peeve with the climate community – ppm vs. ppmv. Archer quotes CO2 concentrations as ppm while most of the literature uses ppmv. Students who have a hard time with standard deviations are unlikely to see that, assuming Avogadro was right, ppm and ppmv are equivalent. So could we please standardize on one or the other unit.

    Comment by Dave Griffiths — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:44 AM

  103. Q:

    If we assume the earth is absorbing more energy due to increased CO2 levels, then some parts of the earth must warm. Since the oceans are the largest potential heat carrier we expect them to carry most of this burden if we had an equilibrium state (do we ever expect this?). Since humans live on land we are interested in the air temperature a few feet off of the ground, but that doesn’t carry much heat.

    So, an interesting question is how much temperature variability of this low atmosphere measurement can be due to heat just sloshing around the globe, from ocean to air and back, without increasing or decreasing the total heat content? What time constant would this have?

    I suppose this is one type of “natural variability”. Another is variations in cloud cover, or moisture content of the atmosphere. What time constant does this have?

    Why don’t we measure or estimate overall heat content of the globe instead of the temperature of something like the atmosphere 6 ft off the ground with a tiny heat capacity? Why is this the headline number? Is it a good proxy for heat content? Is there a less noisy measurement possible with better instrumentation?

    Comment by CPV — 26 Feb 2012 @ 10:21 AM

  104. CPV, I’ll take a stab at answering your questions. You have hit the nail on the head in noting that ocean temperatures are the ideal measurement of the earth’s heat content, and that air temperatures are less useful. Our problem is a pragmatic one: we have lots more air temperature data and ocean subsurface temperature data. This breaks down into several dimensions:

    Historical: we have widespread reliable air temperature data going back more than a hundred years for many different locations on the planet; our ocean temperature data only goes back to (roughly) the 1950s, and even that is patchy.

    Proxies: we have lots of proxies for air temperature in tree rings, isotopic ratios in ice, and various biological markers. The only proxy we have for water temperatures is coral, and that doesn’t go back very far, is limited to warm areas, and doesn’t go very deep.

    Depth: Most of the ocean’s water is far below the surface and so participates in climate with a very long time constant. That time constant varies greatly with the degree of mixing, both lateral and vertical, but is on the order of decades.

    Satellites: our best modern data comes from satellites, but they can measure only surface temperatures, which again are not good representatives of overall water temperatures.

    The ‘sloshing around’ of heat that you mention is in fact observed in the various decadal oscillations. Obviously, these complicate the analysis.

    Here’s another kicker: the greenhouse effect serves to directly increase surface temperatures, which increases are then communicated to the ocean depths by a slower, indirect process.

    The ideal measurement, which is only now becoming feasible, would be obtained by a large set of globally distributed thermometers deep in the ocean. The weighted average of these readings would give us a stable, almost noiseless long-term measure of the overall heat content of the earth’s thermodynamic system. However, it would suffer from its disconnect from what we actually experience. After all, the “weather” deep in the ocean isn’t what we worry about; it’s the weather we experience on the surface.

    BTW, this suggests one simpler measure of ocean heat content: average global sea level. Sea level rise comes from two components: melting ice and thermal expansion. That thermal expansion component is an excellent measure of overall ocean heat content. But disentangling it from the ice melt contribution is a bit tricky, and only recently have we started getting satellite data good enough for this task.

    [Response:Actually radiation comes from the atmosphere, not from deep in the ocean, and the atmospheric temperature profile scales pretty well with changes in near-surface air temperature. So, the temperature that will warm to bring the Earth back into equilibrium is the surface temperature. The deep ocean is important only as a delay mechanism, determining how long it takes for the surface ocean to warm up. Measurements of the deep ocean heat storage are important since they give a direct indication of how much the oceans have delayed the approach to equilibrium, but the air temperature measurements are of prime importance since we live in the air, and it's the air temperature changes that will get us most directly. --raypierre]

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 26 Feb 2012 @ 11:55 AM

  105. CPV @103
    Addressing your first couple of questions, Foster & Rahmstorf 2011 show what happens when you extract the impacts of ENSO, TSI & volcanic aerosols from the surface temperature record. The ‘sloshing heat’ of ENSO is by far the biggest cause of temperature wobbles. I add a link to a graph I maintain to demonstrate the point.

    Foster & Rahmstorf 2011
    http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/files/rahmstorf-vraies-temp%C3%A9ratures.pdf

    A wobbly graph (two clicks down link).
    https://1449103768648545175-a-1802744773732722657-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/marclimategraphs/collection/G09.jpg?attachauth=ANoY7cohb1ILqnK1chNctcIAnvynh7pkWLTPzYtyWWzbseaIJ4EjD2OO0LO0tTkriGuEfbg1Rg8Zuywu8IRZo2KSB8Z5JMqXKMXKOvwGwusY8xkxj–sNxBLal4TX4EPJkFcyvXKtHWJNfRLDjsxDNyyXBWRkJPHqlHyqkeLlrIOogzVkDqXwiAbJ16dtOhmssKIyJtVoKQd51QmwhbDSdkm9hHD5V8vHg%3D%3D&attredirects=0

    Comment by MARodger — 26 Feb 2012 @ 12:43 PM

  106. Thanks, Chris (#104)!

    The measurement problem seems hard. I can see how it leads to disputes in interpretation, especially in the short term. I don’t think the critical need for much more sophisticated or widely deployed instrumentation gets heard out of this noisy debate. Is there a good summary somewhere of what instrumentation is in the pipeline?

    Without any measurements you can start with the baseline zero feedback approach, that seems plausible to me ceteris paribus, and seems to match the rough magnitude of the long term trend data, such a it is. It would then be up to feedback models to match some type of atmospheric observable or other better quality data to be validated, IMO. Is there a scientific counter argument to this?

    Comment by CPV — 26 Feb 2012 @ 12:46 PM

  107. There aren’t many serious disputes over the basic temperature record; we have so many different sources that agree with each other that there is no question about the basic conclusion that the earth’s temperatures have been rising. The complexities arise from noise and lag. In the case of global temperatures, the signal to noise ratio is now high enough to reject any hypothesis that temperature changes we have seen in the last century are attributable to noise. But we always like to get every detail nailed down, and so much work continues in cleaning up the signal.

    The lag issue arises from the fact that the oceans are lagging the atmosphere in their response to the greenhouse effect. This means that they are holding back temperature increases that we would be experiencing were there not so much water soaking up heat. To put it in stark terms: the temperatures we are now experiencing reflect the state of affairs several decades ago; were we to stop all carbon emissions today, the earth’s temperature would continue to rise for some time. That’s a truly pessimistic thought.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 26 Feb 2012 @ 2:16 PM

  108. CPV:

    I don’t think the critical need for much more sophisticated or widely deployed instrumentation gets heard out of this noisy debate.

    And when it is stated, it’s frequently taken out of context and twisted by the denialist community. For instance, Kevin Trenberth’s “travesty” e-mail was about the lack of observational data and our need to improve monitoring, as was clear if you read the paper of his that he referred to, but has been spun as being something very different by denialist interpreters of “Climategate”.

    Without any measurements you can start with the baseline zero feedback approach, that seems plausible to me ceteris paribus

    Physics argues against this, hard to get around the fact that warmer temps tend to lead to greater evaporation from the oceans therefore higher absolute humidity, which leads to water vapor generating a positive feedback.

    and seems to match the rough magnitude of the long term trend data, such a it is.

    That’s not what the professionals seem to think. Do you know something they don’t ???

    Comment by dhogaza — 26 Feb 2012 @ 2:20 PM

  109. Thanks MA Rodger!

    A lot of the trend arguments seem to revolve around one side or the other picking these peaks or valleys as a starting point for some calculation that fits an agenda!

    Comment by CPV — 26 Feb 2012 @ 2:25 PM

  110. I am having trouble sorting out several issues when it comes to OHC and how it relates to decedal osscilations verses OHC as an explanations for the radiation imbalence. As I understand it, in regards to the earths radiation imbalence the ocean has a great potential to alter its baseline heat content state, which could help explain why there has not been surface warming in the last 10 years despite net intake of radiation. On the other hand there is a decadal trend whereby the atmosphere and the ocean trade heat content over roughly 10 year time periods.

    To what extent is the former true? How much heat that one might expect to affect surface tmeperature could be absorbed by the ocean? If that heat is not going to be returned to the surface does that mean we should be less concerned about surface tmeperature warming and more concerned about sea level rise?

    In regards to the decadal osscilations, have we just gone through a period whereby heat has been traded into the ocean and should we expect it to oscillate back to the surface temperature in the next decade? It seams like there are a number of noise variables potentially working against a current trend in surface temperature warming. To what extent can we model el nino/el nina events or decadal oscillations (the noise) in future predictions?

    Would it be possible to differentiate forcing events to surface temperature from forcing events to the earths temperature?

    Comment by Jeffrey — 26 Feb 2012 @ 2:46 PM

  111. The key line in Doug Proctor’s comment (#51) is this:

    “all you who hope to correct Man’s ways through CO2 control”

    Based on that, you could pretty much predict how the rest of his comment will go.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 26 Feb 2012 @ 3:06 PM

  112. Is there a good summary somewhere of what instrumentation is in the pipeline?

    One place to look, find other places to look:

    Argo

    Comment by dbostrom — 26 Feb 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  113. Forgot to mention, with regard to Argo, other programs of that type the currently dominant party in the US House of Representatives is quite desperate to defund these activities. Good thing to remember when making choices as a voter.

    Comment by dbostrom — 26 Feb 2012 @ 3:31 PM

  114. > the baseline zero feedback … seems plausible to me ceteris paribus,

    Translating:

    “baseline no feedback seems plausible [assuming no feedbacks, no changes]”

    Why assume what always happened in the past won’t happen now?

    Scholar “climate feedbacks” — Results … about 1,580,000.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Feb 2012 @ 3:39 PM

  115. I am unclear as to the difference between: 1) due to higher than expected (but still within the uncertainty range) sea level rise we need to revisit the way we model future SLR and 2) due to the lower than expected (but still within the uncertainty range) surface temperature rise, we need to revisit the way we model future surface temperature change.

    It seams that while it is ok for Stefan Rahmstorf to take this line of logic in regards to SLR it is not ok when applied to surface temperature modelling.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/315/5810/368.full

    Now granted SLR modelling is a lot more challenging and a lot less mature than surface temperature modeling and probably does need revision. I also understand the timelines are different. Nevertheless it strikes me as inconsistent. It comes down to the confidence you have in the underlying physics and the methods used to create the model not what the tendline is at any given moment. It is so easy to make a graph look like it is accelrating/decelerating or not by adjusting the smoothing and the starting point.

    [Response: Any kind of mismatch is interesting from a research point of view - and going in, you have no idea whether the mismatch might cause you to rethink some (or all) of your initial assumptions. Each case needs to be investigated separately. Sometimes it's quickly clear that something important was left out (dynamic ice sheet effects for SLR for instance, or aerosols as in some of the early work on transient predictions), other times, it is related to a mismatch in the forcing scenario (CFCs were discontinued in the 1990s - something not envisaged in the 1980s predictions, which makes them harder to evaluate), sometimes the observed data itself is wrong (i.e. the MSU 'cooling' error), other times it is the nature of the comparison that is at fault (i.e. comparing ensemble means to single realisations over short periods). It is never as simple as just comparing two trends and deciding. - gavin]

    Comment by Jeffrey — 26 Feb 2012 @ 3:41 PM

  116. CPV, We have all the data we are willing to pay for. We don’t have more data because although climate change is the most important thing going on it gets only a small fraction of the research budget. Some potentially valuable data collection is just too much for some in Congress to allow. We don’t use our most reliable launch vehicles for climate satellites and some that have been launched did not survive. We measure surface temperatures a lot because that’s where we live.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 26 Feb 2012 @ 4:02 PM

  117. Gavin,

    It is very clear that sceptics are using the recent pause in warming to successfully attack the models, which of course we agree is very premature, as the sample period they refer to is not long enough to exclude short term natural variations.

    But, just for the record, how many more continued years of ‘no warming’ would it take for you to start doubing the models ? (Assuming no large volcanic eruptions). Personally, I would be concerned if the trend remained flat until 2020 (Of course I don’t expect this to happen). But, putting a timeframe on this might help squash the sceptic’s argument.

    [Response: Well it might if it was a serious argument, but since it isn't, it won't. But I've made such statements in the past - here - here etc. - and I'm happy to be held to those ~4 year old opinions. - gavin]

    Comment by Roger Gee — 26 Feb 2012 @ 4:39 PM

  118. Pete: We don’t use our most reliable launch vehicles for climate satellites…

    Recycled missile boosters with a positively wretched (25%) “success” rate* used when data necessary to assure safety for millions of people is in play, human-rated vehicles absolutely mandatory when one or a handful of lives are at risk.

    Human nature is sometimes very difficult to figure out.

    *Although to be fair the last two climate research satellites going to their graves in the ocean were killed by el-cheapo aerodynamic fairings. Still, Orbital describes these botches as “cost-effective”; how does the definition of “cost-effective” include “does not actually work?”

    Comment by dbostrom — 26 Feb 2012 @ 4:51 PM

  119. Hank Roberts in #99 suggested that I look up a blog post presenting Mr. Proctor’s ideas on the effects of clouds on climate. I found it readily enough and read Mr. Proctor’s piece. It was embarrassingly bad, riddled with pedestrian blunders. I posted a criticism of just the first paragraph, which was rejected by the moderators on the grounds that it constituted libel. Surprised at their response, I rewrote my post to remove all references to Mr. Proctor, relying heavily on passive tense and references to quotations from his piece. This too was rejected on the grounds that it was “attacking”. Ironically enough, the blog declares that its only rule is that there are no rules.

    Except, of course, for the rule banning critical commentary. ;-) I should have known better — it’s a denialist website.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 26 Feb 2012 @ 5:20 PM

  120. Ack! “passive VOICE”, not “passive TENSE”. I’m covered with shame!

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 26 Feb 2012 @ 5:49 PM

  121. dhogaza:

    Last 100 yrs temperature rise is 1.2 C, CO2 goes from 280-390 ppm. That fits an equation like 1.9 C * ln(CO2(2)/CO2(1))/ln(2), which I think is pretty close to zero feedback estimates. If this is not a reasonable way of looking at the record, why not?

    [Response: It's not a reasonable way to look at it because (a) you haven't allowed for aerosol cooling effects (or for that matter any non-CO2 effects), and (b) you haven't allowed for ocean heat uptake, which has caused the warming to lag the equilibrium value. Before going off half cocked, you should read some of the extensive literature on estimating climate sensitivity from data. Knutti and Hegerl is a good place to start. --raypierre]

    Comment by CPV — 26 Feb 2012 @ 5:49 PM

  122. dhogaza:

    That’s not an argument. That’s a political statement of some sort. No credit.

    The 1.2 C rise over past 100 yrs matches a simple no-feedback logarithmic model pretty well. Given the certificates in the measurements, I’d be inclined to use the longest data set we have and take guidance from that.

    [Response: No it doesn't - with such a scenario you wouldn't see anything like as much ocean heat content change. - gavin]

    Comment by CPV — 26 Feb 2012 @ 5:52 PM

  123. Is there a good summary somewhere of what instrumentation is in the pipeline?

    A rhetorical question, apparently, and yet another red flag missed.

    Comment by dbostrom — 26 Feb 2012 @ 6:17 PM

  124. In their first op-ed the sixteen made a point which seemed quite plausible
    at first sight.

    This is no surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10 times larger than they are today.

    where ‘this’refers to the CO2 fertiliser effect. But is it true that the major foods evolved so long ago? It is absurd for me to become an expert in about two minutes of searching on Google ; furthermore using Google involves some typical problems such as the need to navigate around this sort of web page:

    “Liberals, how does evolution explain the Irish potato famine?”

    so I hope others will help me. Potatoes seem to be quite simple, it appears that they are supposed to have emerged in Peru about 7,000 years ago when CO2 was far lower than claimed in the quote. So I now have doubts about the other crops. How about the emergence of the modern forms of rice, maize, wheat and sorghum? I did find this

    http://www.pnas.org/content/101/26/9903.long

    which I have not digested yet.

    Incidentally I hope creationists will accept my assurance that I did not originally set out to open up a split between them and these authors. I am more concerned with ensuring that all sixteen of them have checked their article for accuracy. That is supposed to be an advantage of multiple authorship.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:32 PM

  125. CPV:

    Last 100 yrs temperature rise is 1.2 C, CO2 goes from 280-390 ppm. That fits an equation like 1.9 C * ln(CO2(2)/CO2(1))/ln(2), which I think is pretty close to zero feedback estimates.

    The no-feedback sensitivity to CO2 doubling alone is about 1C, so with a zero feedback scenario we wouldn’t expect to get 1C warming until CO2 rises from the late 1800s value of 280 to 560. Yet here we are with a 1.2C rise with much less than a doubling of CO2.

    1.9C’s about mid-way between the zero feedback and IPCC best estimate for sensitivty. And that ~3C estimate is for *equilibrium* sensitivy, we’ve not seen all of the warming that is expected for the rise we’ve seen thus far. And there are other non-feedback factors involved – higher TSI in the first half of the 19th century, solar minimum the last decade, increased aerosol output due to human industrial activity, etc. These factors (and more) need to be teased out rather than handwave as though CO2 and feedbacks are the *only* factors that affect climate.

    Comment by dhogaza — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:39 PM

  126. CPV,

    Your argument assumes we know the total radiative forcing with good enough accuracy and that the system has re-established radiative equilibrium. Neither are true.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:50 PM

  127. deconvoluter, plants and animals have been evolving for hundreds of millions of years. So what?

    http://www.washington.edu/news/articles/models-underestimate-future-temperature-variability-food-security-at-risk

    Ocean acidification? Don’t worry, evolution has been going on for a long time. Don’t worry, sea life has been evolving for a long time. Yes, hasn’t it.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:53 PM

  128. denconvoluter #124 asks about the observations that plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about ten times higher than they are today. There are indeed some problems with this statement. First, it appears to confuse photosynthesizing creatures, which arose more than 3 billion years ago, with non-photosynthesizing creatures. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and focus exclusively on photosynthesizing creatures. Yes, the early atmosphere in which they evolved was quite different from the modern atmosphere. In the first place, it had no oxygen. The oxygen in our atmosphere came from all the photosynthesis. I’m not sure that they would prefer such an atmosphere. Their basic point, that higher concentrations of CO2 promote faster growth rates of plants, is solid. What they don’t mention is that an earth with lots more CO2 in its atmosphere would be a very different place than today’s earth. Most of its surface would enjoy tropical conditions and the sea level would be quite a bit higher. I’m tempted to suggest to them a temporal variation on the old line “love it or leave it”: if you want to live in the Carboniferous Period, build a time machine and go there! ;-)

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 26 Feb 2012 @ 7:54 PM

  129. Seeing how the WSJ has been so wrong about the subject it claims to be expert in (economics, high inflation as a result of the stimulus, etc.) it’s not surprising they are also clueless about climatology.
    I am not a scientist, but have been following this as closely as I can. My understanding of what Dr. Hansen at GISS has said is that La Nina and the solar minimum during the past 3 years have prevented temperatures from rising as much as during an El Nino and solar maximum, both of which we will probably see during the next few years. Did the WSJ take Nino/Nina and solar cycle into account?

    Comment by Jack Gibson — 26 Feb 2012 @ 8:32 PM

  130. CPV, were the temperature record of the past 100 years all we had to explain, and were the system we are dealing with not a complex, interconnected one with various delays and couplings, your suggestion might be a reasonable one. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look much like Earth, does it. It turns out that we cannot explain a broad range of phenomena–from climatic response to volcanic eruptions to temperature swings from glacial to interglacial to… unless the climatic system has significant positive feedback.

    What is more, we know that strong positive feedbacks exist in the system, and we know that heat is exchanged with the deep ocean. You need to look at ALL the evidence and then look at the successful predictions by the theory that best explains ALL the evidence. You will notice that the so-called skeptical scientists are not proposing alternatives.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 26 Feb 2012 @ 9:04 PM

  131. I am still stunned when I read some commenters claiming no warming or a stall in GT’s, or even a cooling since 1998. We must present things differently in order to make it very difficult for them, so gullible or ignorant, who try to claim likewise. “There is no lull” alternate presentation is badly needed. Sort of like a standard referring link which needs to be explained wrong before anyone can claim that ice melts more when temperatures cool.

    I must remind that we live at the bottom of an hydrostatic atmosphere, when even cooling so far up
    has an impact on us bottom dwellers. An apparent cooling on the surface may not match what is going up above. Everything shifts in our atmosphere constantly seeking equilibrium. The temperature record is one but many ways of measuring warming. True cooling requires strong evidence, the best metrics are not thoroughly measured, 3d ocean temperatures, small glaciers, the true surface temperature for melting sea ice having shifting total sea water thermal signatures, the effects of wind sublimation, all these are important, yet I read again and again that it hasn’t warmed in ten years. Time to change gears and focus on making the case unassailable.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 26 Feb 2012 @ 9:18 PM

  132. Previously in this thread somebody asked for leads on information to do with gathering data on heat content of the ocean-atmosphere system. There’s no such thing as bad ink, even if the original question was simply part of the theatrical setting for subsequent drama; delving into the UCSD Argo site reveals detailed records of Argo meeting reports. This is quite fascinating stuff.

    Reading the Argo meeting reports makes contemplated vandalism by the party in control of the US House even more irritating to imagine, sort of like picturing malicious adolescents equipped with spray paint being let loose in a museum of fine art.

    Comment by dbostrom — 26 Feb 2012 @ 9:33 PM

  133. I am more concerned with ensuring that all sixteen of them have checked their article for accuracy.

    You might also consider whether all sixteen had suitable skills to apply those checks – and this might not be entirely obvious from the descriptions given by the WSJ.

    (I’d say Burt Rutan has ruled himself out on that measure over at Scholars & Rogues although he continues to imply otherwise – e.g. most recently by posting a link to a rehashed piece by David Evans claiming it answers critiques of his claims. Evans’ piece claims amongst other things that climate sensitivity is about 0.6 C per doubling.

    Not sure about the other fifteen.)

    Comment by Lotharsson — 26 Feb 2012 @ 9:47 PM

  134. An asside, but going to the general issue raised in the 1st paragraph of the response of the WSJ16, “expertise is important … in any matter of importance to humans or our environment.”

    Revkin headlined a post on his blog about the original WSJ16 OpEd of Jan 27th with, “…[They].Appear to Flunk Climate Economics.” He solicited a reaction from economist William Nordhaus who, in their Jan OpEd, the WSJ16 explicitly sourced for their statement “… nearly the highest benefit-to-cost ratio is achieved for a policy that allows 50 more years of economic growth unimpeded by greenhouse gas controls …. And it is likely that more CO2 and the modest warming that may come with it will be an overall benefit to the planet.”

    Nordhaus replied, “The piece completely misrepresented my work …. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings.”

    This time around, they confine themselves to two paragraphs on economics and abandon any effort at claiming support of an “economist”, instead relying on variations of the self-evident, to them, argument that if atmospheric CO2 abatement were economically “efficient”, it would be happening now through the agency of Adam Smith’s farsighted fairies.

    Comment by WhiteBeard — 26 Feb 2012 @ 11:25 PM

  135. Speaking of the skills of some of the other fifteen, this:

    I looked up the 16 scientists in the Web of Science, which counts only peer-reviewed publications and is thus more restrictive than Google Scholar. I searched for author and topic “climate change” in the Expanded Science Index.

    1. Armstrong has one publication, on the subject of polar bears. It was roundly debunked.
    2. Cohen has two, one of which has 55 authors. Both are on technical subjects.
    3. Lindzen has four and as we know, is widely published in meteorology. But he still has never written an article falsifying anthropogenic global warming.
    4. Score for all the others: zero.
    .
    Not one of these 16 has ever published a paper showing that anthropogenic global warming is false, or even presenting any evidence that it is false.

    and this:

    …the bureau has now confirmed to me in an official statement that during his time as head of the climate centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, Mr Kininmonth’s department didn’t actually do any research on climate change – change being the operative word.

    Rather, the department was engaged in gathering and improving weather observations which, as it turned out, established Australia had “significantly warmed” since 1910. Mr Kininmonth’s former position, it now appears, is of very little to no relevance on the issue of human-caused climate change.

    may prove useful.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 26 Feb 2012 @ 11:47 PM

  136. And this also surveys the climate change research credentials of the 16 (within a larger article also looking at the credibility of some of their claims and more…).

    Comment by Lotharsson — 26 Feb 2012 @ 11:54 PM

  137. Perhaps the owner of the WSJ needs to be pressured into applying his new ethical standards for the SUN, to the WSJ as well.

    Which journalistic standards and ethics were violated by the WSJ in the Oped in question?

    The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal.

    Sun on Sunday hits news stands with ethics pledge

    Rupert Murdoch’s Sun on Sunday tabloid hit news stands on Sunday, replacing the defunct News of the World with a pledge to meet high ethical standards after a “challenging” chapter in its history.

    Inside, an editorial titled “A new Sun rises today” said the newspaper was appointing a so-called Readers’ Champion to deal with complaints and correct errors, while also vowing that its journalists would be ethical.

    “Our journalists must abide by the Press Complaints Commission’s editors code, the industry standard for ethical behaviour, and the News Corporation standards of business conduct,” the editorial read.

    Comment by vendicar decarian — 27 Feb 2012 @ 1:00 AM

  138. 102 Dave Griffiths: “Global Warming” by Archer is intended for non-science majors. I agree that everybody should be required to take the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum plus a laboratory course in probability and statics. Push for it, but don’t count on it happening any time soon. The innumerate humanitologists and people in general do not have that much math IQ. Maybe when we become the Borg…. There is a statistics book that is suitable for third graders. The title is “Probability” and the author is Jeanne Hendrix or Bendix or something like that. My daughter liked it so well that she made a histogram when she was 8 years old. Then the public school teachers convinced her that she didn’t like math.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 27 Feb 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  139. Evans’ piece claims amongst other things that climate sensitivity is about 0.6 C per doubling.

    Actually, it’s arguably worse than that. In the article text it claims:

    The feedbacks dampen or reduce the direct effect of the extra CO2, cutting it roughly in half.

    It provides no citation for the claim, although it does have a footnote at that point – but it says, in entirety:

    The effect of feedbacks is hard to pin down with empirical evidence because there are more forces affecting the temperature than just changes in CO2 level, but seems to be multiplication by something between 0.25 and 0.9. We have used 0.5 here for simplicity.

    So Evans argues – without evidence – that a doubling of CO2 may lead to as little as 0.275 degrees C warming.

    And then there’s the absolute howler of a deliberately deceptive claim that:

    If a system instead reacts to a perturbation by amplifying it, the system is likely to reach a tipping point and become unstable (like the electronic squeal that erupts when a microphone gets too close to its speakers).

    This, from a guy who is touted as having a Stanford Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, a discipline about which the article claims:

    The area of human endeavor with the most experience and sophistication in dealing with feedbacks and analyzing complex systems is electrical engineering, and the most crucial and disputed aspects of understanding the climate system are the feedbacks.

    All of this means that he must have studied automatic control theory (likely to an advanced level) and knows that positive feedbacks with gain below unity are stable – and should know that net feedback in the climate system is considered to have a gain of well below 1.

    And yet he has the unmitigated gall to argue that:

    The earth’s climate is long-lived and stable — it has never gone into runaway greenhouse, unlike Venus — which strongly suggests that the feedbacks dampen temperature perturbations such as that from extra CO2.

    I think Stanford might want their Ph.D. back.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:40 AM

  140. Doug posits “CAGW narratives and solar-dominant theories” and Dave123 asks “What solar dominant theories?”

    I think Doug means the Svensmark/Lindzen theory where less solar activity causes more GCRs which cause more clouds and that causes cooling which counteracts trace gas CO2 forcing which is saturated or minor or something and so the increasing temperatures aren’t the result of fossil fuel combustion.

    Which means that we don’t have to change anything about our fossil fueled society by changes which he alleges are “considered too harmful.”

    Until the fossil fuel runs out.

    At which point society will have to convert to renewable energy sources. Hubbert predicted peak oil and increasing fuel prices back in ’56 about the same time Gilbert Plass was expanding upon Callendar’s work on global warming, infra-red radiation and anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Which was in turn based on Svante Arrhenius’ 1896 work. All part of the soc Zialist econazi conspiratorial CAGW hoax, no doubt.

    “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely,” Rick Santorum said in an interview with Glenn Beck. “The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.” I’m surprised he didn’t note that reality has a liberal bias, hence the need for conservative Republicans “to create our own reality”.
    Liberals are the most educated group with 49% being college graduates compared to an average of 26.5% among all the conservative groups.
    College graduates (59%) and those with some college experience (55%) are more likely than those with less education to view the Republican Party as more extreme.
    According to Pew Research 70% of college grads view global warming as a somewhat or very serious problem; 58% of Republicans think GW is not a problem(which probably boils down to “not MY problem”).

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 27 Feb 2012 @ 3:45 AM

  141. deconvoluter @124
    While worries about the combined impact of higher CO2 & climate change on most plants is often dismissed with the silly ‘they-evolved-when-CO2-was-much-much-higher‘ argument or the ‘plant-food‘ argument, the case of C4 grasses does tend to point out the silliness at it directly contradicts their statements.

    While grasses as a whole began to thrive under ‘low’ CO2, C4 grasses appear to have actually evolved under such conditions. There are relatively few species but they account for 30% of terrestrial carbon fixation, are predominantly tropical & include major food crops maize, sugar cane, sorghum, and millet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C4_carbon_fixation

    Comment by MARodger — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:48 AM

  142. (I should clarify that I’m talking about “loop gain” being below unity to amplify without triggering runaway feedback; Evans talks first about the mainstream conclusion that net feedbacks result in a net amplification which is finite and positive (e.g. ~3x) and therefore indicates positive feedback with a loop gain < 1, e.g. ~2/3 if I recall my geometric series correctly.)

    Comment by Lotharsson — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:56 AM

  143. re: my #124 (after some sleep)

    I still think that the sixteen’s attempt to invoke evolution as an argument that food production will be assisted by increasing CO2 is highly non-rigorous. Contrarians are all too quick to drop their usual argument that it is impossible to predict anything because there are too many variables.

    [I am open to correction in the following]
    Very roughly natural selection tends to optimise numbers whereas artificial selection following domestication optimised what humans require such as food and protein. As just one example, it appears that most of the grasses used for foods emerged during the holocene and were then further modified by artificial selection and both stages occurred at relatively low levels of CO2. By the way I am aware of the CO2 fertilisation effect.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 27 Feb 2012 @ 6:24 AM

  144. Perhaps the owner of the WSJ needs to be pressured into applying his new ethical standards for the SUN, to the WSJ as well.

    How about Fox News?
    Anyway the trouble is that these standards refer to a promise not to bribe the police for private information or to continue with phone hacking on an industrial scale, it may not extend to telling the truth about science and health.

    Comment by deconvoluter — 27 Feb 2012 @ 7:39 AM

  145. Saw this recently on Paul Krugman’s blog (of course mentioning that will send certain folks into denial sphere – anyone who reads that is a xxxx and thus should not be listened to – but the comment was very valuable in understanding some of what is going one the very perilous situation we are in where some people who ought to be part of finding solutions/mitigations aren’t even seemingly able to face the evidence in front of them.
    From Krugman’s blog – “Digby sends us to Chris Mooney on how conservatives become less willing to look at the facts, more committed to the views of their tribe, as they become better-educated:

    For Republicans, having a college degree didn’t appear to make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better-educated Republicans were more skeptical of modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college-educated Republicans.

    But it’s not just global warming where the “smart idiot” effect occurs. It also emerges on nonscientific but factually contested issues, like the claim that President Obama is a Muslim. Belief in this falsehood actually increased more among better-educated Republicans from 2009 to 2010 than it did among less-educated Republicans, according to research by George Washington University political scientist John Sides.

    The same effect has also been captured in relation to the myth that the healthcare reform bill empowered government “death panels.” According to research by Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan, Republicans who thought they knew more about the Obama healthcare plan were “paradoxically more likely to endorse the misperception than those who did not.””"

    If being eduacated and supposedly being versed in what a bill contained provided little to no protection from taking a really weird stance, then how can we address the problem? Note – these stances make the person seem less educated/informed etc and makes their criticisms less likely to be heard because it then becomes hard to take them seriously.
    So education, facts, what you would think would be a need to appear credible has little impact on getting these folks to change thier minds – what is left?
    By the way – I don’t see this as an indictment of conservatives, I am sure that the same thing would be found if certain other groups were checked – th eissue is how to reach people and get them to see the problems/facts.

    Comment by Donna — 27 Feb 2012 @ 8:31 AM

  146. @97…I realize this is not science, but the “the cost is prohibitive therefore do nothing” argument has a lot of holes in it. There are a number of rather cheap things that we could be doing that could have significant impacts on ultimate costs. As a couple of examples (which are occurring in some places already), zoning changes can be made to stop building in what will become flood zones. Subsidized property insurance for zones with a high likelihood of flooding could be stopped. These 2 alone could save many, many billions world-wide and cost very little up front–well except to property speculators and truly committed denier types! There are any number of additional relatively cheap things we could experiment with right now. To not do so actually risks “prohibitive costs” rather more than not doing so in my opinion. More sophisticated economic modeling could probably identify specifics in fairly short order.

    Comment by jgnfld — 27 Feb 2012 @ 9:17 AM

  147. Lotharsson

    The claim by Evans is ridiculous. As it happens, I just did a post discussing why positive feedbacks don’t necessarily lead to a runaway effect (using some of the ccm radiation code from Ray Pierrehumbert’s online supplement to his book). It’s even possible for the feedback factor to exceed unity locally to bifurcate into some new climate regime that is not necessarily a runaway. Perhaps he should have bothered to even work out the problem.

    Comment by Chris Colose — 27 Feb 2012 @ 9:19 AM

  148. Contrarians are all too quick to drop their usual argument that it is impossible to predict anything because there are too many variables.

    Yep, reliable prediction in the face of uncertainty for me, but not for thee…

    This observation needs a memorable name and needs to be pointed out over and over and over again.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 27 Feb 2012 @ 9:25 AM

  149. “This observation needs a memorable name and needs to be pointed out over and over and over again.”

    Hard to think of something pithy, how about
    “the uncertainty flip”? Or “the uncertainty U-turn”?
    Maybe “Uncertainty U-ey?”

    I think it is something broader than just regarding prediction. Just that YOU can know nothing due to all the uncertainties, but I’M certain it’s X, or that it can’t be what you say…

    ReC:gentlemanly sicsat

    Comment by Utahn — 27 Feb 2012 @ 9:53 AM

  150. So someone is claiming in writing that positive feedbacks must lead to a runaway climate? That’s just plain ordinary dumb.

    Link for Donna’s comment:
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/this-tribal-nation/
    When the denying gets harder, deniers deny harder.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 27 Feb 2012 @ 10:08 AM

  151. Donna,
    It has been well known for a long time that conservatives tend to value social cohesion more than do their counterparts on the left. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Social cohesion is good. The problem is that certain factions on the right have equated being a good conservative with believing in a lie about science. And as they have managed to convince the faithful that everyone but Faux News and Rush are lying, they’ve acheived epistemic closure. I wonder if conservatives realize how silly it makes them look to predicate their political philosophy on the rejection of established science.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Feb 2012 @ 10:16 AM

  152. Roger Gee wrote: “It is very clear that sceptics are using the recent pause in warming to successfully attack the models …”

    There is no “recent pause in warming”. So those who use the false claim that there has been a “recent pause in warming” to “attack the models” are by definition not “skeptics”.

    I’ll leave it to you to think of a more appropriate term for those who use falsehoods to attack science.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 27 Feb 2012 @ 12:10 PM

  153. I agree that everybody should be required to take the Engineering and Science Core Curriculum plus a laboratory course in probability and statics. Push for it, but don’t count on it happening any time soon. The innumerate humanitologists and people in general do not have that much math IQ.

    An aerogel proposition, more hole than substance. Look no further than Burt Rutan and Harrison Schmidt for examples of the fallacy of believing in a technical education as inoculation against becoming a useful idiot.

    What of the routine pronouncements of “I’m an engineer, and [I've woven/adopted this embroidered counter-factual cozy for keeping my ideology incompatible with selected outcomes of physics warm and comfy]? Meanwhile, what of those who saw the university experience as an opportunity to immerse themselves in liberal arts but understand how belief and faith in what we personally don’t know may be reliably rooted in concrete understanding thanks to the scientific method?

    Unless one’s mathematical and scientific training allows one to fully reach the current horizon of inquiry in any particular field, one is placing faith in others. Evaluating the relative merits of placing faith in one person or another is in the arena of critical thinking , a subject of study apparently in chronic dire shortage, given the behaviors we see displayed by university graduates of all stripes.

    For any university offering degrees in any subject field, allowing students to pass into the world with a post-secondary degree and yet still bereft of critical thinking skills is a badge of failure. This blot can be found everywhere; look at the “WSJ 16 Signatories” if you want to hand out flunking grades in the basic fundamentals of Enlightenment thinking to a bevy of top schools.

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  154. #153–Thank you, doug. Just so.

    “Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.” (Although I think it is *not* vain, just unending–rather like weeding, or washing.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2012 @ 12:56 PM

  155. The WSJ 16 say that climate models have been falsified. Barry Bickmore says they have not. Bickmore makes some points, but to me, the temperature trends seem pretty flat. I’ve searched the site for the terms falsify and falsification, and found very little, most of them being posts in which Gavin says skeptical articles have been falsified. Nothing I’ve found talks about falsifying GCMs.

    Can someone just point me to the criteria for how climate models are falsified? I’ll read them and decide for myself. Just the criteria for the top two or three models are necessary. I don’t need all of them.

    [Response: The reason it isn't discussed much is because it doesn't make a lot of sense. It is trivially correct to say that GCMs are not 'true' - how could they possibly resolve every single last thing that is going in the climate? They are instead approximations to what the modelers consider to be the most appropriate physics/chemistry etc. Thus the right criteria are whether the models are skillful - i.e. better than some naive hypothesis that you could have come up with without the models - and they are. The models do make predictions - some of which can be tested (i.e. what are the tele-connections associated with an ENSO event? what is the impact on climate of a large volcanic eruption etc.), and some of which determine the limits of the predictability - e.g. what is the range of short term temperature trends consistent with a long term trend driven by GHG increases? With respect to the WSJ 16 claims, they seem to be basing this on complete ignorance of what single realisations of climate models show, and which is seen in the figure to be so large as to preclude any such conclusion. Of course, the longer the mismatch, the more the observations will diverge from the models and the more likely it is that something is wrong. But we are nowhere near that point. - gavin]

    Comment by Mickey Reno — 27 Feb 2012 @ 1:39 PM

  156. I speculated recently that usage of “CAGW” and the like stems mostly from the denialist end of the spectrum. That is holding true in this thread. Introduced here only by Doug Proctor in #51.

    Such usage, by and large, is symptomatic of straw-man arguments and trolling. It’s a very clear warning flag.

    Comment by Ric Merritt — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:03 PM

  157. dbostrom @ 153

    I don’t think anybody’s claiming a panacea. There will always be a hard core of nutters in any profession, although I’d be curious to know what percentage of engineers jump on the denialist bandwagon and how that compares to the general population. In any case, a well executed science/engineering curriculum should at least help raise the level of the discussion. Personally I’m flabbergasted at the number of people I’ve run into who are completely, and I do mean completely, clueless about the most basic concepts of statistics and probabilty for instance.

    I agree with you that critical thinking course work is necessary, but maintain that it is insufficient to bridge the cultural gap between the arts and sciences. I’d go further and suggest that science skills are now pertinent to just about every field of endeavor, and that no one can call themselves broadly and liberally educated without calculus, statistics, and historical geology (including evolutionary biology) under their belts.

    (I wish I could find the quote, but I think it was Feynman (“Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman”??) who noted back in the day that he found more bigotry on campus in the so called humanities departments than in the science departments. Just sayin’.)

    Comment by Radge Havers — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:29 PM

  158. Mickey Reno, try Climate Models and Their Evaluation and in particular section 8.1.1.

    The “Evaluation” writeup usefully elaborates on the points Gavin makes.

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  159. Lotharsson and Utahn recently ruminated:

    [“This observation needs a memorable name and needs to be pointed out over and over and over again.”
    ...
    I think it is something broader than just regarding prediction. Just that YOU can know nothing due to all the uncertainties, but I’M certain it’s X, or that it can’t be what you say…]

    Why not a derivation of Heisenberg’s version for quantum physics?
    “Climate Change Uncertainty Principle”:
    Accurate measurement and modeling of indices and proxies of climate change will interfere with simultaneous certainty that climate change is not a problem and/or we didn’t do it.

    Phil

    Comment by Phil Mattheis — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:35 PM

  160. Whoops, that was section 8.1.1-8.1.24.

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:41 PM

  161. Ric Merritt:

    I speculated recently that usage of “CAGW” and the like stems mostly from the denialist end of the spectrum. That is holding true in this thread. Introduced here only by Doug Proctor in #51.

    It’s not speculation, it’s the truth. It’s a “lukewarmer” thing, “yes, there will be some warming, but it won’t be bad”. And you’re right, it’s often symptomatic of strawman arguments, i.e. “mainstream science tells us that we’ll see 6C warming by 2100, but we think sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is only about 2.5C to 3C, therefore it won’t warm so much, therefore the predictions of difficulty are bogus”. Strawman because the “lukewarmers” proclaimed belief in climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 of 2.5C-3C is right in line with best estimates and worries about the rapidity of climate change are based on these best estimates, no matter what your “I don’t believe in CAGW” person claims or believes.

    Do some looking around, you’ll see it at play. Tom Fuller had an entire thread on this at WUWT a year or two ago.

    Comment by dhogaza — 27 Feb 2012 @ 2:54 PM

  162. Re the uncertainty monster, who appears to be a cyclops with its only eye magnifying the error bars on global warming, and who cannot see any uncertainty in the predictions of financial disaster if we do anything to combat global warming, or that more CO2 is better for plants and people. How to label the one eyed denialists who see thing the same way? How ’bout -

    hypocrisy
    “Part of Speech: noun
    Definition: deceitfulness, pretense
    Synonyms: affectation, bad faith, bigotry, cant, casuistry, deceit, deception, dishonesty, display, dissembling, dissimulation, double-dealing, duplicity, false profession, falsity, fraud, glibness, imposture, insincerity, irreverence, lie, lip service, mockery, pharisaicalness, pharisaism, phoniness, pietism, quackery, sanctimoniousness, sanctimony, speciousness, unctuousness

    Antonyms: forthrightness, honesty, righteousness, sincerity, truth”

    Denialists can’t see that “subjective truth” is an oxymoron. To science, truth is inherently objective, analytic, and rational.

    If the WSJ 16 believe the crap they’re saying, it doesn’t mean they’re not lying to us. It just means that they’re lying to themselves as well as us. They either can’t differentiate between truth and lies because of their social/political/religious/economic beliefs, or they’re being deliberately mendacious. They aren’t stupid, and are certainly capable of understanding confirmation bias, Dunning-Kruger effect, statistical uncertainty, signal to noise ratio, cherry picking, and the difference between quantifiably inaccurate (doubling CO2 will cause global T to rise between 2 and 4.5 degrees C) and conceptually wrong(the prior 34 years of climate changes lie within the boundaries of both CAGW narratives and solar-dominant theories.) Willful ignorance or the pretense thereof is no excuse.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 27 Feb 2012 @ 3:10 PM

  163. Re 155

    Gavin himself gave a very clear description of what the models say (back in 2008)..see fine print

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/05/what-the-ipcc-models-really-say/

    How soon we should expect a new unambiguous record? ie. how soon trivially correct might become significantly correct,

    This article also shows how it is ‘trivially correct’ to say the GCM predicitons remain within the confidence intervals for a wide range of models some of which stay above and some of which stay below the ensemble mean, which shows individual realisations are not all consistent with the ensemble men over quite long periods, so lots of wriggle room for the meantime

    see

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/surface-temperatures-cooler-than-multi-model-mean/

    Respecting the science and expert opinion (but remaining sceptical of the models) an update of this article would be very interesting , ‘res ipsa loquitur’ applies anyway,.. Maybe after AR5

    Comment by PKthinks — 27 Feb 2012 @ 3:12 PM

  164. Having used Harrison Schmitt as an example of how a technical or scientific education is no protection against gullibility, I’ve got to say it’s a deep disappointment to see this otherwise thoughtful person going so far off into the weeds. Looking into his recent past is depressing.

    I’ve previously read Schmitt’s history at NASA with admiration; Schmitt was singular among the people who visited the moon in having the real chops to do field geology (carried the only -real- hammer!), as opposed to a necessarily more hasty and superficial remedial education for this purpose, and he was filled with curiosity and enthusiasm for his extraterrestrial. Perhaps more importantly, Schmitt was able to muster the enthusiasm of his colleagues into better exploiting for the purposes of their visits the unique faculties of human eyes attached to a human neocortex. Most of his fellow travelers were naturally and primarily focused more on the key requirement of making a round trip, but Schmitt was able to stimulate the curiosity found in all highly intelligent people to help make spacecraft crew into more effective observers.

    A cautionary tale if there ever was one; if it could happen to Schmitt, it can happen to anybody. How does one map a route from successfully defending a geological PhD thesis at Harvard, then to the Moon, only to wind up parroting twaddle for the Heartland Institute while presiding over the process of moving New Mexico from the world of scientific facts and into the wonderland of ideological fantasy?

    Comment by dbostrom — 27 Feb 2012 @ 4:40 PM

  165. deconvoluter @91 (mildly OT and rather late)

    We’re not sure who you meant, but if you’ve read my comment you will know that I am more amateur than most of the amateurs here, do caregiving, cooking and cleaning mostly, and try to self-censor when the conversation gets good, as it often does at RC.

    I *would* like to see any list that might have been made of the areas of expertise that are relevant to climate science. One particular beef from the curmudgeon is that people pronounce outside their fields. He is very busy with his own work and suggests that the basic science is simple and obvious, which I thought was a good point. Not “settled” but “obvious”! Obvious enough that even I can mostly follow it, until it gets complicated – but those are the offshoots, not the basics.

    Rutan is a puzzle; you’d think someone who helped make Winged Migrations possible would care about our planetary health.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:07 PM

  166. Ray – 151 – what struck me as interesting was that the more educated, the more likely to beleive the false statement. I see a number of posts saying that we should improve education, that we should insist on the error bars etc being shown. The belief is that with the proper education then the resistance to understanding the science goes down. But the evidence says that as the education goes up, the resistance goes up not down.

    [Response: Note however this is not a relationship of before and after having been educated about climate, rather it might be a reflection of a difference in where educated republicans get their information or what social and informational networks they inhabit. Whether education on climate issues would shift any specific sub-groups opinions on the science cannot be answered by that study - though it would certainly be worth exploring in more depth. Some of the work by Gail Sinatra is going in this direction (I am told). - gavin]

    I don’t know if its social cohesion or some other factor but I think that we had better figure out something other than education to move people to realistically look at the solution.
    My guess is that until something really bad happens that can be clearly linked to climate change without any caveats, then the opinions won’t change. That itself is a frightening thought.
    Those who wrote the op-ed are sitting there pretty impervious to any sort of education, discussion, proof – most likely until an event that they cannot deny was due to climate change happens. And that is a formula for needless suffering.

    Comment by Donna — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:12 PM

  167. #164–That’s two astronauts in denial now, that I know of–the other being Walter Cunningham. He did a very ill-informed op-ed a while back, which was nonetheless picked up here & there in the denialosphere.

    I broke one of Hank’s rules to make it the occasion of a history lesson, here:

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Global-Warming-Science-A-Thumbnail-History

    (The rule being “don’t repeat nonsense, even to refute it.” It’s a good rule in general, even if I made an exception in this case–hopefully a benign one.)

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 27 Feb 2012 @ 5:26 PM

  168. Donna, I think that we need to distinguish between “educated” and “stupidity sent to college”. An education is incomplete without an appreciation that experts, while fallible, tend to know best–especially when they are in consensus. A true education includes an appreciation of the sorts of logical fallacies we see rampant in the denialosphere–e.g. the ad hominem fallacy, argument from consequences, etc.

    Among the advantages of going through the trial of getting a PhD is that it acquaints you with the fact that merely having a PhD doesn’t preclude the possibility that you are an idiot, and that the surest way of becoming an idiot is pontificating outside your sphere of expertise.

    Unfortunately, the sort of education many students receive emphasizes the ability to bullshit. They don’t care if they are right as long as they are never proven wrong. As a result, they get a degree without learning much of anything.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 27 Feb 2012 @ 8:32 PM

  169. #166 Donna

    My own experience continues to show that the bias and belief is merely based on the sourcing and trust. Once educated on the contexts and basis of bias source, the belief tends to fall away rather easily.

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 27 Feb 2012 @ 8:51 PM

  170. Donna @ 166

    “I don’t know if its social cohesion or some other factor but I think that we had better figure out something other than education to move people to realistically look at the solution.”

    Probably lots of factors all at once. Perhaps empty and formulaic repetition of dogma replaces creative philosopy as social institutions fail and die away. At any rate, I don’t see other approaches as mutually exclusive with education, which is perhaps a longer term but necessary application.

    Comment by Radge Havers — 27 Feb 2012 @ 8:54 PM

  171. Perhaps he should have bothered to even work out the problem.

    That might have helped, if he was interested in being right.

    It’s an elementary fundamental that must be learned by all electrical engineers (in electronic design and automatic control ) that positive feedback with loop gain below 1 leads to amplification (and the amount of amplification is defined by the sum of a geometric series based on the loop gain).

    This is so elementary to EE that observing an EE Ph.D. claiming otherwise makes it challenging to conclude anything other than he is deliberately deceiving his audience – or lying about his academic achievements. (Especially since his claims about positive feedback have been quite publicly corrected a number of times.)

    Comment by Lotharsson — 27 Feb 2012 @ 9:48 PM

  172. My own experience continues to show that the bias and belief is merely based on the sourcing and trust. Once educated on the contexts and basis of bias source, the belief tends to fall away rather easily.

    John, do you think this approach might work with Rutan? If so, what do you think is missing from or could be done better on the Rutan-Angliss exchange and full comments thread?

    Comment by Lotharsson — 27 Feb 2012 @ 10:05 PM

  173. > The rule being “don’t repeat nonsense, even to refute it.”
    Cite that one to
    – scienceblogs blogger Tara Smith
    Correcting misinformation can backfire.

    Her blog post cites the Washington Post, which cites a paper from the Centers for Disease Control that demonstrated the effect.

    Notice how septic bunk is repeated so often, and comes back from new people yet rarely seems to change over years? Repetition works, for those doing it.

    Longish excerpt posted back on: 24 Feb 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Feb 2012 @ 11:20 PM

  174. Editors Code of Practice that Rupert Murdoch claims his newspaper editorial staff will follow.

    Has the WSJ editorial staff followed these rules?

    If not then Rupert Murdoch is a liar, and should be exposed as such.

    http://www.pcc.org.uk/cop/practice.html

    i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

    ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.

    iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

    iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.

    Comment by vendicar decarian — 27 Feb 2012 @ 11:42 PM

  175. What is behind the tendency of the better educated parts of the right to be denialists? Th better educated you are the more arguments you have available to rationalize with. This is not exclusive to the right.

    You need some self critical element to avoid this trap. I’ve noticed that on the right denialism is more common among users of science than practitioners of science. Engineers and IT people are users of science. They see the results of science, not how it is done. They tend to see science as more cut and dried than do scientists who see it as a work in progress and are comfortable with qualifications and uncertainties. I do not see much denialism on the right from physical scientists. They know what goes on in science.

    Comment by Lloyd Flack — 28 Feb 2012 @ 12:16 AM

  176. Not all doom and gloom for climate scientists hoping to alter the opinions of conservative skeptics.

    Here are 6 ways that my opinion that was formed on the bases of ill informed sources has changed since becoming obsessed with this blog. Some of these are not easy to admit:

    1. I used to believe that the urban heat island effect significantly distorted the surface temperature record.

    2. I used to believe that because the correlation between atmospheric CO2 and surface temperatures has a relatively low R value one should question the anthropogenic CO2-warming hypothesis.

    3. I used to minimize the effect of interests groups ability to alter public opinion.

    4. I used to not value the opinion of the majority of climate scientist at all. Now, I value their opinion greatly and seek to understand why it is held. I have come a great length in this regard. (Although I don’t think Ray will believe me). However, that does not mean I accept the consensus opinion without reservations or persisting concerns.

    5. I used to believe that revelations from ‘climategate’ made climate science untrustworthy.

    6. I used to believe that due to persisting areas of uncertainty when it came to certain feedbacks such as cloud cover, that all forcings and sensitivities were vulnerable to dramatic future changes.

    However, I have some skeptical viewpoints (otherwise known as opinions to all you defensive freaks out their) that for the time being remain. These are them:

    1. I believe that Climate scientists on average are overly concerned about ‘the message’ and thus are unable to have fully transparent and weighted conversations about issues that arise in climate science due to a fear of their discussions being used against them unfairly. Many climate scientists take defensive postures and have trouble staying level headed and above the fray.
    I do acknowledge that this opinion derives itself primarily from the climate gate emails as well as the actions of one Dr. Gleick. I do also worry about the ability of peer reviewed journals to avoid the pressure of appeasing top scientists, however, I do not think that a rash of alternative viewpoints are being suppressed due to this issue.

    2. I still maintain the position that a model is a evidence based hypothesis that needs the support of future based predictions to be validated. However, I have come some distance to believing in the hypothesis. I also believe that unqualified attribution based claims should be avoided in climate science do to the lack of direct ‘causal evidence’. I know that this is difficult in climate science because the evidence is strong yet it cannot be directly qualified. For instance it would be lovely if one could know that a particular period of warming had less than a 5 % probability of not being caused primarily by CO2 increases. However, that null hypothesis is untestable.

    3. I have unresolved concerns about the process of modeling that may just relate to my relative ignorance. For instance, I don’t understand why decadal trend precision is valued in simulations that hindcast climate models if it is known that the models don’t have decadal precision due to ‘weather’ noise (as emphasized here all the time). Why do modellers artificially play with variables to neatly fit the past if it known that the physics the model is based on are unable to provide the type of resolution that we see in hindcasts. For instance if there was a strong El Nino event or a clear decadal oscillation, what value would there be in a model simulating those events if the physics behind the models don’t address those types of variations.

    Not that my opinion matters more than any other opinion outside of climate science but it may be nice to know that one of the ‘irrational skeptics unable to see the forest for the trees’ can, in many meaningful ways, change.

    Comment by Jeffrey — 28 Feb 2012 @ 1:43 AM

  177. In my previous comment, #101, I linked to some graphs showing the simulations of 23 models for temperature and precipitation, which, inter alia, showed big differences between the models. I then asked two questions:

    1.Do the differences between the models matter; if not, why not?
    2.Why does the IPCC almost completely ignore precipitation which is as important as temperature for climate prediction?

    It seems to me these are important questions but so far they have gone unanswered.

    [Response: well the first point is interesting and is pretty much the only thing climate modellers are discussing these days (I'm going to aceorkshop on this tomorrow). But your second point is just silly - rainfall changes are discussed throughout the ipcc reports. - gavin]

    Comment by Ron Manley — 28 Feb 2012 @ 3:19 AM

  178. #177, inline–”. . .rainfall changes are discussed throughout the ipcc reports. . .”

    For example, the Summary for Policy-Makers (wg 2) (page 11) says:

    By mid-century, annual average river runoff and water availability
    are projected to increase by 10-40% at high latitudes and in some
    wet tropical areas, and decrease by 10-30%over some dry regions
    atmid-latitudes and in the dry tropics, some of which are presently
    water-stressed areas. In some places and in particular seasons,
    changes differ from these annual figures. ** D10 [3.4]
    Drought-affected areas will likely increase in extent. Heavy
    precipitation events,which are very likely to increase in frequency,
    will augment flood risk. **N[WorkingGroup I FourthAssessment
    Table SPM-2,Working Group II FourthAssessment 3.4]

    Just the first of several mentions of precipitation-related issues in the wg 2 SPM. If more detail were wanted, one could refer to Chapter 3 of AR4 (wg 2), referenced in the quote above.

    Or, if one is more interested in the fundamentals of the physical processes and less in the impacts, the 1st working group talks about it in their SPM, too (p. 7):

    Long-term trends from 1900 to 2005 have been observed
    in precipitation amount over many large regions.11
    Signifi cantly increased precipitation has been observed
    in eastern parts of North and South America, northern
    Europe and northern and central Asia. Drying has been
    observed in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern
    Africa and parts of southern Asia. Precipitation is
    highly variable spatially and temporally, and data are
    limited in some regions. Long-term trends have not
    been observed for the other large regions assessed.11
    {3.3, 3.9}
    • Changes in precipitation and evaporation over the
    oceans are suggested by freshening of mid- and highlatitude
    waters together with increased salinity in lowlatitude
    waters. {5.2}

    Again, that’s just the first mention of several, and again, one can follow up in the main Report.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 28 Feb 2012 @ 8:06 AM

  179. Jeffrey, First, I am a hardass when it comes to cranks and antiscience. I am a firm believer that the professionals who study a field are by far the most likely to have a firm grasp of that field. I believe in expertise, and I believe in consensus of experts. These are all provisional beliefs based on my experience that they work.

    It is clear that you have made progress. However, I wonder if you appreciate certain things about climate science:

    1)The idea of anthropogenic warming is 116 years old. It is accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists, and those who reject it fit very nicely into John Baez’s classification of cranks and crackpots.

    2)As important as global climate change is, it is only one tiny aspect of current research into the planet’s climate, and while most research has some implications for climate change, relatively little research is directly related. It is worth noting that most of the research supporting significant positive feedback in the climate system comes from outside the subcommunity specifically researching anthropogenic climate change.

    3)The IPCC does not define consensus. Consensus is established in scientific journals and at scientific conferences, just as in the rest of science.

    4)The discipline of climate science has received unprecedented scrutiny from scientists outside of the immediate field–from physicists, chemists, geologists,…, as well as from National Scientific academies the world over. The result is that nearly every professional scientific organization has endorsed the consensus view.

    Now as to your remaining reservations:

    1)Climate scientists defensive? Gee, now why would that be? I don’t suppose it could have to do with a smear camapign by the same anti-science assclams who kept tobacco unregulated for a couple of decades, could it? Or the death threats from rightwing wackos or the fact that climate scientists have to hire lawyers and face investigations by Senators and States Attorneys General for the crime of doing their jobs? Naah! That can’t be it.

    2)A model or a theory is NOT a hypothesis. Rather it is a higher level construct that may contain or use many hypotheses. These hypotheses may come or go depending on whether they are supported by empirical results–and it is quite possible that none of this will alter the basic structure of the model. Once you get beyond the simplest observations, a model is indispensible for doing science. The model suggests lines of experimental/observational inquiry (e.g. what is intersting) and is in turn subject to modification or if sufficiently flawed overturning by empirical results. The current consensus model for Earth’s climate has served very well, and no one has proposed any model that poses a threat to it. Until they do that, they aren’t doing science.

    3)I can only recommend you look into climate modeling in particular and into dynamical modeling in general. As to your particular question about hindcasting, you need to understand that there are many inputs and forcings in the model that cannot be predicted–e.g. El Nino, volcanic eruptions, etc. It is a test of the models skill if it can reproduce the trends observed when you put in the actual scenario of what happened. This does not mean that the models are being “tuned”. It is the same model–just responding to real forcings. Good luck with your studies. I am always happy to try to answer questions if I can within my own limited expertise.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2012 @ 10:39 AM

  180. Donna wrote: “… until something really bad happens that can be clearly linked to climate change without any caveats, then the opinions won’t change.”

    There are plenty of “really bad” things happening now that can be clearly linked to climate change — or rather, that ARE climate change, that can be clearly linked to anthropogenic global warming.

    That’s exactly why we are seeing an escalating onslaught of denialist propaganda — it’s taking more and more noise to drown out the ever-louder signal.

    And as the “really bad” things become worse, and more frequent, the denial will only increase.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 28 Feb 2012 @ 10:46 AM

  181. #177 Ron Manley

    Have you considered actually reading the IPCC reports before you make claims about what they do and do not say?

    Since it is obvious you are less aware than needed regrading the content, I can only imagine that your source for your claim was someone said something on the intertubes…

    Comment by John P. Reisman (OSS Foundation) — 28 Feb 2012 @ 10:57 AM

  182. “Rutan is a puzzle; you’d think someone who helped make Winged Migrations possible would care about our planetary health.”

    Susan Anderson,

    One of the reasons I am a CO2GW skeptic is because I care about planetary health, maybe Rutan feels the same.

    Comment by Edim — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:09 AM

  183. I’d like to offer my applause for Jeffrey in #176. The process you went through strikes me as a straightforward process of proceeding from less knowledge to more knowledge. The crucial factor at work, I suspect, is that you did not bring ideological baggage to the process; you gathered information and altered your assessment to comport with the new information. This is exactly what any good scientist does.

    The reservations you describe are all entirely reasonable, it seems to me. I don’t think that there are any competent scientists who are as wedded to the ACC hypothesis as the deniers are opposed to it. That is to say, no amount of evidence will change the mind of most deniers, but a single compelling datum could change the mind of competent scientists. This is one of the problems that beset reasonable people dealing with ideologues: a reasonable person always entertains doubts, but ideologues act with complete certainty. That difference gives ideologues political impact far beyond their numbers.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:34 AM

  184. [my entire comment was rejected on the grounds that the spam filter caught a forbidden character string, so I'm breaking it down into pieces so that I can identify the offending text.]

    Addressing your reservations specifically:

    1. I agree that the intense polarization of the issue has damaged the quality of the discussion. It is only natural that scientists would react to the adversarial scrutiny to which they are being subjected with greater reticence. Indeed, I am impressed that Gavin and the other participants in this blog are so open-minded about uncertainties, given the knowledge that a hundred denier lurkers are waiting to pounce on anything they say. The example of Dr. Jones’ careful statements about the statistical reliability of temperature changes over short periods of time being misquoted to the point of reversing his meaning must surely haunt every climatologist contemplating a public statement. And the knowledge that even private communications are no longer private must surely inhibit free expression. It is not too absurd a leap to imagine two conversing scientists glancing around to ascertain that their words are not being recorded.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:36 AM

  185. [my entire comment was rejected on the grounds that the spam filter caught a forbidden character string, so I'm breaking it down into pieces so that I can identify the offending text.]

    2. Indeed, the chain of reasoning in support of ACC is lengthy and often indirect. Ah, for the good old days when a hypothesis could be shattered by a single observation (Michelson-Morley) or strongly substantiated by a single observation (gravitational lensing in the eclipse of 1919). Those days are gone; as science has delved more deeply into the complexities of nature, it has been forced to rely on large quantities of indirect evidence. This in turn increases the importance of judgement based on a grasp of the entirety of the evidence. It is easy to explain to a student why Michelson-Morley obliterated the luminiferous aether hypothesis; it takes a lot of time to explain the complexities of climate change. Combine this with the common misconception that science relies on logical proofs in the style of mathematical reasoning, and it is easy to understand why some people just can’t understand climate change.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:37 AM

  186. [my entire comment was rejected on the grounds that the spam filter caught a forbidden character string, so I'm breaking it down into pieces so that I can identify the offending text.]

    3. [I simply can't figure out what in my statement offends the spam filter, so after several tries I am surrendering.]

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:41 AM

  187. Lotharsson (et al.),

    Regarding the investigations into the credentials of the 16 WSJ signatories, some more backgrounds:

    Henk Tennekes, as listed in the op-ed, is a former director of the Dutch national bureau of meteorology (KNMI). Prior to this tenure he was a professor of Aeronautics at Penn State University, and of Meteorology at the Amsterdam Free University. He has published in the areas of aeronautics, forecasting and turbulence, but not since 1990. On the other hand, he has since contributed to the SEPP and the SPPI institutes.

    According to himself, he was forced to resign from his position at the KNMI because of his skepticism of (the modeling of) climate change, a factoid of course loudly reverberated by some of the usual suspects in the denialosphere.

    A former colleague, however, suggests that his personality and solitary views played a much bigger role; notably Tennekes has publicly said of himself “I was stubborn and have a terrible temperament”. The colleague further relates an example where Tennekes opposed the purchase of better computers for the ECMWF forecasting service. He considered this unnecessary as he thought it unimportant to further improve weather forecasting, and allegedly supported this with passages from the Bible. Compare also his essay “The limits of predictability”. This is not the only record of his firm conviction that the world is simply too complex to model. And, you guessed it: that hence there can be no solid basis for policy measures concerning climate change!

    Apparently, for him, the world is too complex to try to predict, yet simple enough to draw such definitive conclusions regarding said complexity? I personally view complexity as excellent and durable (and non-fossil!) fuel for scientific research.

    Comment by Steven Franzen — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:43 AM

  188. In addition to my above comment, Tennekes’ essay on Pielke’s climate blog may provide some more insights into this man’s logic. Especially if one also considers his following quote: “I was brought up in a fundamentalist protestant environment, and have become very sensitive to everything that smells like an orthodox belief system.” Perhaps hypersensitive?

    I’m sorry, I just never tire of attempting to get into these colourful people’s minds.

    Comment by Steven Franzen — 28 Feb 2012 @ 12:12 PM

  189. Edim says, “One of the reasons I am a CO2GW skeptic is because I care about planetary health, maybe Rutan feels the same.”

    Ah, what a wonderful example of the fallacy of argument from consequences. Note the logic. Edim cares about planetary health. He perceives (incorrectly) that climate change will lead to lack of attention to other critical needs. Therefore he rejects the evidence for climate change. Classic, idealistic and wrong.

    I suspect Rutan’s motivation is somewhat different. He has a vision of Man soaring toward the stars, not struggling for survival on degraded planet. Climate change doesn’t fit that vision, so he concludes it must be wrong. (Note that I suspcet Freeman Dyson’s motivations are similar.) So desperate to be a man of vision that he embraces a hallucination.

    Nature doesn’t give a rat’s furry tuckus what the consequences are. What matters is the physical reality as reflected in the evidence. Period.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 28 Feb 2012 @ 12:23 PM

  190. Comment by Edim: One of the reasons I am a CO2GW skeptic is because I care about planetary health …
    Could you explain that?? Is a “CO2GW skeptic” one who doubts that CO2 contributes to global warming? Why would that be influenced by “caring about planetary health”? Does one who “cares about planetary health” assume no risk is great enough to justify an attempt to understand how the planetary biosphere functions?

    Comment by flxible — 28 Feb 2012 @ 12:24 PM

  191. Edim:

    Then you need to go back and learn about greenhouse gases. The physics is simple enough and established enough that your statement calls into question where you got your information. With an open mind, an adequate high school education, and a little background, it’s easy to comprehend. It has been presented so many times in straightforward ways that your resistance begs the question of where you have been – tempting to assume it’s the likes of WUWT.

    I readily confess to being a layperson because I think scientists and others need to understand it does not take a Ph.D. or physics background to get the basics. Somebody above commented that it’s not the science but the prejudices that make the roadblock. But the planet does not practice politics, and inasmuch as scientists have explored how it works, this is it.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 28 Feb 2012 @ 1:41 PM

  192. Susan,

    I studied mechanical engineering and was always very good at physics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, chemistry and other relevant subjects. I also was extremely good at solving problems in textbooks, both theoretical and practical. I also did some scientific research (emissions). I am ~liberal/communist/anarchist and motivated only by love of science when it comes to AGW. I have been an AGW skeptic for almost 15 years, but stopped following the controversy around 2005 and came back after climategate. My mind is wide open. I agree very much that the planet does not practice politics.

    I see there are more replies, but I have to go now. I will try to respond later, if I’m allowed.

    Comment by Edim — 28 Feb 2012 @ 3:27 PM

  193. Right now, NewCorp is weak because of the ethics related scandals it has created for itself.

    The WSJ has also had it’s share of ethics related problems in the way it has been caught padding it’s subscriber numbers.

    If the goal is to alter the journalistic integrity (or lack thereof) of the WSJ those are the tools to use.

    Can no one here think strategically?

    Comment by vendicar decarian — 28 Feb 2012 @ 3:35 PM

  194. Edim, I for one would very much like to hear why you are skeptical about ACC. Could you outline your reasoning?

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 28 Feb 2012 @ 4:38 PM

  195. Edim, Go to the top left of the RealClimate home page, click “Start Here” and follow the various links at the level of complexity you like. You will work up to a sound understanding of the current thinking on Climate and its changing. All the articles are thundering good reads – enjoy!!!

    Comment by James Albinson — 28 Feb 2012 @ 4:53 PM

  196. @155 Thanks for your quick response, Gavin. It’s been a day or two, but I had work to do on this post, and it took some time. Sorry about the length of this posting.

    If I understand you correctly, you’re saying there’s no real point in even trying to judge a GCM for immediate falsification. While frustrating to those who want a more imperical sort of experiment, I guess I had always intuitively though that to be the case, from having followed this debate for so long.

    Thanks to ‘dbostrom’ @ #158 for pointing me to Chapter 8 of the IPCC report on climate model evaluation. Like everything in this field, nothing comes easily for me. I downloaded it and read though a lot of it. After reading, I did a search for the term ‘skill’ and gave each area where that term cropped up a more thorough reading. I also reviewed abstracts of three cited papers that contained the term ‘skill’ in the appendix. Of the three papers cited, two of them said models had certain problems that inhibited their skill (one with land temps, the other with SSTs which noted seasonal barriers), and the third claimed significant skill, but this was a paper dealing with effects in the Stratosphere during arctic winters, when presumably effects due to water vapor would be lower, less radiation at all freqs, and fewer clouds. (i.e. find the place on the planet the most closely resembles the laboratory, to eliminate the non-CO2 forcing signals). Two of the papers were paywalled. I’m very interested, but I can’t justify paying for all the articles I’d need to read to keep up. So, I hope the abstracts were concise, and my understanding of them reasonable.

    So after all that, my understanding is that skill is a somewhat subjective term, not without meaning, but not particularly imperical either. Most of the determination of a model’s skill seems to come up front, from unit testing, historical confidence or model evolution (if you will) and specific tests against known occurences, and short term “test runs” against known results from the instrument era. It also seems (but this is a question as much as it is a statement) that not as much of the evaluation of skill comes from a long term, let’s wait and see comparison against reality well after the fact. Is that an reasonable statement?

    Which brings us back to the falsification claims of the WSJ 16, and Bickmore’s response. Your statement “we’re nowhere near that point” clearly implies you’ve done some type of analysis of some models. I presume from your post that models could eventually diverge from reality to the point where they’re more flatly wrong (poorly skilled). And if so, I guess what I’m asking is what threshholds are deterministic? Are these thresholds a formal thing? Do they exist in writing? Are they generated beforehand as part of a formal hypothesis? If not, what’s happening instead? If it’s informal and casual, wouldn’t that be somewhat problematic (sort of like saying we’re going to hold an election, and we’ll write the rules for voting after we count the ballots)?

    Finally, if you will indulge one more set of related questions. Has it ever been tried to use a whole variety of CO2 feedback forcing assumptions in many models, from highly positive to highly negative, using small steps to cover the entire range, and then seeing which feedback value best fits the measured reality across the models? If not, do you think it would be a good idea to do so (let’s assume free and unlimited computer time)? And how many years after generating such a spread of scenarios would be needed to decide the best fit, in your opinion? I’ve heard the number 15 years talked about recently, but it seems like some of the more political types, who argue in favor of the “settled” premise, would be quite aghast at the idea of waiting 15 years for any feedback number to prove itself more skillful (I’m not sure if a specific variable or component is properly called skillful, so apologies if I’m using the word incorrectly here).

    Okay, done. Thanks for any thoughts on the topic (from anyone, not trying to monopolize Gavin)

    Comment by Mickey Reno — 28 Feb 2012 @ 6:22 PM

  197. Micky (#196), I have some thoughts to offer on the subject of modeling. First, there’s nothing to accomplish by setting some sort of threshold of skill (or any other metric) and discarding anything that falls below that threshold. A model is just a complicated way of thinking about a phenomenon. No model ever achieves perfection. Every model offers something of intellectual utility. Indeed, it is entirely possible to devise a model that is less skillful yet more illuminating.

    Which brings me to another question you asked regarding the use of variable terms in models. Yes indeed, that is one of the great values of any model: we can experiment with lots of variations. The way that the results vary with respect to a changing independent variable can reveal a great deal about the subject. In many cases, we don’t actually put our money on the results of any particular run; instead, we draw conclusions about the sensitivity of the model to changes in this independent model. For example, all the models agree that we get larger changes in climate if we put more CO2 into the atmosphere. That, of course, is a trivially simple result, but more sophisticated variations can be explored with models.

    None of the current models are “production units” in the sense that none of them are good enough to give us results that we can hang our hats on. They aren’t even prototypes. They’re research projects no different from physical experiments. The physicists who carried out the first experiments demonstrating nuclear fission established a solid basis for making a public policy recommendation to build the atomic bomb. They didn’t have a working bomb, they didn’t even have a working atomic firecracker, but their experiments provided enough evidence to act on. In the same way, the work of climate modelers doesn’t permit us to predict future temperatures, but it surely gives us enough to make informed judgements regarding policy.

    It’s interesting to take the analogy with the atomic bomb in the other direction. What if there had been pacifists back then who, because of their opposition to war, had furiously denied the feasibility of an atomic bomb? I could build a pretty good case in support of the claim that, based on the knowledge available in early 1942, an atomic bomb was not feasible. I think I could do a much better job than the deniers have done with climate change. Had there been “atomic bomb deniers” back in 1942, the first American A-bomb might not have been ready until much later — perhaps after the first Soviet bomb. Snuggle up with THAT thought!

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 28 Feb 2012 @ 7:10 PM

  198. Also important to realize a model isn’t like clockwork — it gets run multiple times, and you get back a range of results (and each run takes a lot of computer time). Maybe someone could describe that a bit better.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2012 @ 7:30 PM

  199. Mickey: …but it seems like some of the more political types, who argue in favor of the “settled” premise…

    Careful of those semantic tripwires, Mickey. Something that’s hard for those of us not in the field to fully appreciate (even us politically inclined types) is how completely boring and thus frustrating it is to hear phrases that might be redolent of accusations of scientists cooking conclusions in favor of particular outcomes. It’s an almost sure way to see an otherwise fruitful conversation swerve off into a slagging festival.

    As a instructive anecdote on the level of actual “controversy” surrounding climate change research, I’ll mention that I happen to be acquainted with one of the IPCC lead authors for the upcoming installment. Learning of this and thinking I’d be touching on a topic of great interest to him, I queried about his thoughts about upcoming meetings, what was in play, etc. The response I got was a distinct lack of enthusiasm, even ennui. “There’s hardly any appropriate role left for scientists in the matter” is a fair summary of this fellow’s remarks; there’s plenty of investigation left to do but nothing’s likely to come up that should affect public policy outcomes of the research already accomplished.

    For many scientists the need to go on parade once more as showdogs for deadlocked politicians is a deadly bore, a distraction from more productive work. In fact, for many researchers the whole mess is a bit of an incidental outcome of activity completely divorced from worldly matters to do with public policy, work that would be done regardless of whether we knew or cared of the consequences that emerge from the sort of grand synthesis performed by the IPCC.

    All this said in hopes of avoiding more off-topic ragging.

    Comment by dbostrom — 28 Feb 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  200. Simply whining about dishonest editorials at the WSJ clearly isn’t working.
    Whining more the next time it happens probably won’t help either.

    WSJ’s Newscorp ‘tried to subvert’ murder probe

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/3b875d3e-6216-11e1-807f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1niepfhnB

    WSJ’s Newscorp Inquiry Covers Four UK Newspapers

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/46558460

    Wall Street Journal Caught Padding European Circulation By Nearly Half

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/bickmore-on-the-wsj-response/

    Comment by vendicar decarian — 28 Feb 2012 @ 9:10 PM

  201. > “There’s hardly any appropriate role left for scientists in the matter”

    That’s Cassandra talking.
    Someone could write a book on early warnings that have been disregarded.

    Oh, wait — someone did:

    Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896-2000

    Septics, of course, kneejerk “p-p-p-p-pre-preca … ” and don’t read it or anything with those words in it.

    Pity.

    Conservatives who have something to save could have learned a lot by now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Feb 2012 @ 9:40 PM

  202. Susan,
    It does not take a degree in physics to understand the basics. The basics are straightforward, a doubling of CO2 result in ~1C of warming. But the planet is much more complex than that, and the real-world result may be much different. What Edim appears to be saying, is that he has the understanding to go much deeper into the subject matter, than just the basics. It is at this point, that some scientists are calling into question what other people are presenting.
    Your response seems to be patronizing.

    Comment by Dan H. — 28 Feb 2012 @ 9:53 PM

  203. Hank: That’s Cassandra talking.

    Yep. Cassandra has made her predictions on climate, unheeded as required in the tragedy. Notably there’s actually nothing in the myth about her having to get stuck in a groove, repeat herself endlessly.

    Who plays Ajax? Inhofe?

    Comment by dbostrom — 28 Feb 2012 @ 11:12 PM

  204. #203–And Cassandra was always right–that was the other ‘horn’ in her curse of prophecy.

    Never tick off Apollo.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:02 AM

  205. #202–”Your response seems to be patronizing.”

    Only if you read the comments out of order, or so it seems to me.

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:05 AM

  206. dbostrom #199 – I find your friends comment to be interesting, would it be ok to quote it and your comments elsewhere?

    Comment by guthrie — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:07 AM

  207. Edim, OK, now let me get this straight. You are saying your BS in Mechanical Engineering and the fact that you were “very good at physics…” trumps the decade or more of study followed by decades of research by hundreds if not thousands of climate scientists who constitute the consensus? Is that about right? When you consider the level of effort you have put in to understand the planet’s climate versus the level of effort of 97% of the publishing climate scientists on the planet, doesn’t that sound a little…well, silly? And that doesn’t even begin to consider the fact that the consensus is endorsed by all major National Academies of Science, every professional organization of relevant scientists and that even the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has withdrawn its opposition. Hey, I’m with Chris. I’d love to hear your rationalization of your position.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:50 AM

  208. Dan H. puts up a comment on basics which manages to ignore most of the basics. It seems that Dan buys the basic radiative physics of CO2. Unfortunately, he ignores the Claussius-Clapeyron equation, which says that when you raise the temperature, you evaporate more water, a positive feedback. Thats pretty basic, Dan. You also ignore the fact that snow melts as you warm things up, decreasing planetary albedo and warming things further–again pretty basic.

    And you manage to ignore most of the planet’s climate history–which tells us that you really can’t explain things unless you have a significant positive feedback that amplfies the small forcings that plunge Earth in and out of ice ages, occur when there is a volcanic eruption, etc. Gee, Dan, maybe you and Edim can go back and review the basics together. Naah! On second thought, I think he needs a much better teacher than you.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:58 AM

  209. “Your response seems to be patronizing.”

    This from a fellow who couldn’t read a graph of the Palmer Drought Severity Index without help.

    Sorry, you’ve shown no indication that you even know what the word patronizing means.

    Comment by Jim Eager — 29 Feb 2012 @ 8:30 AM

  210. Mickey Reno,
    You have raised some interesting questions in your post 196. Unfortunately, I think that to some extent your questions are motivated by a misunderstanding of scientific modeling. In scientific modeling, the goal is not so much to “get an answer” or even to “match data,” but rather to gain understanding of the object of study. Now in so doing, we often produce models with sufficient skill that we get good answers or make skilled predictions–and that is the ultimate test of the model.

    In understanding scientific modeling, I find that it is useful to start with George Box’s dictum: “All models are wrong; some models are useful.” So, you see that it really doesn’t make sense to talk of falsifying a model–they are already “false” in the sense that they do not include every influence, forcing, etc. Indeed, the simplicity is in part what makes them useful. It allows us to identify the most important effects that drive the dynamics of the system. If a model diverges from reality in a significant fashion, you don’t “falsify” it, you replace it with one that works better. The new model may closely resemble the old, with a few tweaks or additions. Or it may be radically different.

    So really, the refutation of the WSJ-16 (or as I call them, the Urinal-16)is that ain’t how science works. If they were serious, they would be proposing an alternative model that not only fit the temperature profile better, but also did at least as well reproducing the paleoclimate, explaining transient response to volcanic eruptions, etc. No such constructive proposal has been forthcoming. These guys aren’t interested in science. Rather they are experts trying to persuade idiots to their point of view by Gish Galloping around the entire phase space of denialist zombee arguments.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Feb 2012 @ 9:44 AM

  211. Vendicar @200, here is a cheering note for you:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/feb/29/leveson-inquiry-williams-maberly-surtees-live

    H/T DK

    But elsewhere there are pollution problems.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 10:47 AM

  212. We have an interesting sideline on the matter of models in this morning’s news: some fellers have announced that their computer models of the operation of the jaw of T. Rex demonstrate that it had much larger bite force than was previously thought, bite force larger than any existing creature, and that the bite force increased dramatically after maturity.

    Now I’m certain that a T. Rex denier could assemble a case that computer models of T. Rex skulls are obviously flawed because we don’t have a statistically significant set of T. Rex skulls to work with, none of the skulls we have are undamaged, we can’t assume that bone strength and muscle cells 100 million years ago were the same as today, their assumptions about the size and placement of muscles are not justified, we cannot know if the connecting tissue was strong enough to maintain the claimed forces, there was no selective advantage in having such powerful bite forces, there’s no evidence that T. Rex teeth were strong enough to stand up to such forces – and those are only the objections I can think of off the top of my head. Perhaps some of these objections will appear in the scientific literature in coming years. Perhaps it will take some time to resolve these issues.

    But once the issues have been figured out, paleontologists will not be burdened with a hardcore of deniers continually repeating the long-debunked objections. They will not be denounced in Congress, they will not receive death threats, they will not face a well-funded campaign from oil companies seeking to discredit their work, they will not have their emails hacked, published to the world, and pored over word by word seeking something embarrassing. They will not face an army of Internet activists who have memorized but don’t understand a long list of bullet points.

    Unless, of course, the bite force of T. Rex takes on political significance with implications that conservatives don’t like.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 29 Feb 2012 @ 11:11 AM

  213. New Paper from NASA GISS
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2011GL050720.shtml
    WE PROPOSE that the Arctic/North Atlantic Oscillation (AO/NAO) can amplify small solar fluctuations , producing the reconstructed hydrological variations. The Sun may be entering a weak phase, analogous to the Maunder minimum, which could lead to more frequent flooding in the northeastern US at this multidecadal timescale.
    my emphasis in the above.
    Dr. Schmidt could you explain what is this amplification they are talking about, how does it work?

    What is mechanism?
    No mechanism, no theory !
    Mechanism with full data (plotted in red) available here:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET-NVa.htm
    Arctic is in darkness for 3 months of the year, and most of the temperature rise happens in the winter:
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETsw.htm
    Any questions? Happy to answer.

    Comment by vukcevic — 29 Feb 2012 @ 12:20 PM

  214. Edim:
    One of the reasons I am a CO2GW skeptic is because I care about planetary health….

    Makes no sense.

    I am ~liberal/communist/anarchist….

    All at the same time? multiple personalities? So is there one of you who is good at physics, and another who doesn’t get greenhouse warming? :)

    Seriously Edim, if you are good at physics you should love planetary physics. Climate and weather are the effects of the sun’s energy as it moves through our environment and then continues its journey through space. It’s not all physics; outside of school all the “subjects” run together. It is the carbon cycle, the placement of continents, albedo feedback and more. But start with Fourier (1, 2, 3). But don’t stop there. Come to appreciate that planetary physics (working out the consequences of standard physics on a planetary scale) is a large and challenging subject in its own right. Appreciate that planetary thermodynamics is rather more dynamic than what you learned in school. Nothing holds still, and advection is a very major player. Why does not the Arctic temperature come close to the temperature of space during the long Arctic night? Not knowing how dynamic planetary thermodynamics is, Fourier concluded that space must be a couple hundred degrees warmer than it is!

    1. http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/The-Science-Of-Global-Warming-In-The-Age-Of-Napoleon

    2. http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/73/14051961/1405196173-38.pdf

    3. http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/papers/NatureFourier.pdf

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 12:22 PM

  215. Ray @ 179 2)As important as global climate change is, it is only one tiny aspect of current research into the planet’s climate, and while most research has some implications for climate change, relatively little research is directly related. It is worth noting that most of the research supporting significant positive feedback in the climate system comes from outside the subcommunity specifically researching anthropogenic climate change.

    Interesting. Could you elaborate?

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 12:27 PM

  216. guthrie says:
    29 Feb 2012 at 7:07 AM

    would it be ok to quote it

    Sure. Bear in mind that the quote is a paraphrase summary of a longer conversation, but I’m sure I captured the essence accurately. It was an eye opener for me but on reflection I shouldn’t have been surprised.

    Comment by dbostrom — 29 Feb 2012 @ 12:39 PM

  217. Mickey Reno, so far so good. But do appreciate that climate science is by no means just the GCMs

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/01/our-books/#Schmidt09

    I think you are trying to find out something, but more or less think of climate science as just this one part of itself, and for that and other reasons are still not asking the right questions to find out what you are trying to find out. Can you state your real question without using the word “model?”

    But anyway
    Gavin’s statement clearly implies you’ve done some type of analysis of some models.
    Understatement.
    Has it ever been tried to use a whole variety of CO2 feedback forcing assumptions in many models,
    The models are used for endless experiments.

    You seem to be stimulated by the WSJ boys smearing models (the word model means essentially doing the math). Those boys are not doing science in that WJS letter. They are doing propaganda. They know very clearly that if they had something scientific to offer they would write it up for a scientific journal. However, for a bit of background,

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/going-down-the-up-escalator-part-1.html
    don’t skip it

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/2011-updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    Finally, to support the slur made by the WSJ bunch you have to do the right sort of statistical hypothesis testing. See the paper mentioned here
    http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2011/12/on-observational-assessment-of-climate.html
    if you can. If you have an email address maybe someone will send it to you.

    p s This will often help you get papers:
    http://scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 1:15 PM

  218. Busted ‘pollution problems’ link. . .

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:12 PM

  219. Jim,
    You remind of one of the groups to which Fred Singer referred.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/printpage/?url=http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/../2012/02/climate_deniers_are_giving_us_skeptics_a_bad_name.html

    Comment by Dan H. — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:16 PM

  220. Trying to stick to what I know and where I have experience, another thought. Having successfully taught many beginners to draw, a large number of them scientists, I get a good look first hand at what hinders people.

    The advantage real scientists have is that they know what they don’t know and are willing to expose themselves and look “stupid” (which is the opposite of being stupid).

    A lot of the people here who have bought the phony skeptic line think they know a lot. It’s similar to the difference between some art students who are more interested in promoting their status, point of view, what have you, and make lousy students, badly blocked, and scientists who come in ready to take the risk of not knowing.

    Those who have something to prove are not going to learn.

    This only tangentially related:

    I’ve asked a lot of questions over the years about why engineers, who should be good thinkers, often get the big picture wrong (at first I thought it was insider prejudice, so I really wanted to know), and I think it’s a variant on:

    “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:24 PM

  221. dbostrom @199, thanks. Those are almost the exact words I got from the curmudgeon, which resulted in my remark about not “consensus” but “obvious”. “Settled” has become so loaded people have forgotten what it means.

    “There’s hardly any appropriate role left for scientists in the matter” is a fair summary of this fellow’s remarks; there’s plenty of investigation left to do but nothing’s likely to come up that should affect public policy outcomes of the research already accomplished.

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:34 PM

  222. Re: 211

    The key issue, which everyone seems to be missing is the fact that the corrupt NewsCorp owns the Corrupt WSJ.

    Since NewsCorp can correctly be tarred for violating journalistic standards in it’s British operations, the WSJ can be held up as an example of similar violations of ethical and journalistic standards in the U.S. for the distortions and lies in it’s editorial pieces, and elsewhere like the dishonest padding of it’s circulation numbers.

    These are tools. Use them.

    Comment by vendicar decarian — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:38 PM

  223. Sometimes one should revisit material from the past to refocus on and possibly reframe the issue. I am not saying anything critical here, just reminding those that chose to attempt the leveraging of smaller detail into some point, that there is plenty of ‘big picture’ support available.
    Cheers!

    http://www.ccme.ca/assets/pdf/cc_ind_full_doc_e.pdf

    Comment by Doug Thrussell — 29 Feb 2012 @ 2:44 PM

  224. pollution problems link fixed: all you need is
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/28/1066097/-China-Is-Imploding

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:39 PM

  225. Chris Crawford @ 212, There is a bug in that pie. T. Rex is a theropod dinosaur, and there are deniers of the theropod origin of birds. Nothing as bad as climate change deniers though.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:45 PM

  226. Link for the Hydroclimate paper.

    Comment by Pete Dunkelberg — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:48 PM

  227. There are many things in nature that are very complex. Often, there is very little historical data that describes this complexity especially in the pre-scientific past. Proxies for the lack of data are useful but these estimates are subject to greater uncertainty.

    When it comes to making policy decisions, accurate forecasts are needed. These forecasts must include uncertainty. Typically, the forecast performance must be measured out-of-sample. In-sample measures are folly with respect to forecast performance. The effort related to ‘hindcasts’ are useful for model building and for interpreting results; but a not very useful for future forecast performance.

    If you build a model and it does not predict the future, then you have a problem. Your model may be valid a hundred years in the future; but, you have proved little for policy makers who live now. Everyone alive today will be dead (or near dead) a hundred years from now. Hundred year policies used to be left to some divinity.

    Having built many mathematical models for many years for a variety of scientific disciplines, I hope to warn others against sweeping and grandiose statements about their theoretical and mathematical creations. Do not love your creations too much. They may die and make you broken hearted. You do not want to be in a situation where you run around saying that the ‘dingo stole my baby’. Any scientific forecast must be validated going forward (not backward). Do not break your heart. Do the due diligence with out-of-sample analysis.

    I am not ‘denying’ the impact of humanity on the climate, the environment, the survival of other creatures, etc. All human activity changes this planet just as it has in the past and as it will in the future.

    Proper and balanced policies are needed to simultaneously minimize the human impact on the planet while maximizing the prosperity of human condition. These policies need accurate and provable forecasts.

    Comment by OldNavy — 29 Feb 2012 @ 7:59 PM

  228. Pete,
    I’m referring mainly to the paleoclimate stuff–there is no way for Milankovitch cycles to swing the planet from ice age to interglacial without significant positive feedback. Indeed, there is no way to get 33 degrees of warming over blackbody temp out of H2O + CO2 without significant positive feedback. I am sure it is possible to construct a climate model without positive feedback–it just won’t look like Earth.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 29 Feb 2012 @ 8:37 PM

  229. Susan: I’ve asked a lot of questions over the years about why engineers, who should be good thinkers, often get the big picture wrong…

    I’m a huge admirer of engineers and engineering, particularly of things such as bridges that allow expression of functional artistry. Thus for me it’s distressing how often we hear words to the effect of “I’m an engineer and [uncalibrated, insufficient conclusion to do with climate change].

    When I think of competent engineers, I picture people who are proficient with mathematics, are accustomed to dealing with highly defined material properties and are used to making predictions intended to produce very high degrees of confidence, beyond 100% (think safety factors) when it comes to things such as structures intended to preserve human life or economically viable mass manufactured items. It’s thus maybe no surprise that when wearing an engineering hat, confidence in climate research results sounds uncomfortably low, too low for application.

    Thinking of the problem in terms of safety factors, for an engineer creating a bridge it would be unthinkable to implement such a structure with a 50% probability of its collapsing under normal load within its intended useful life. Rejecting public policy applications of climate research is pretty much akin to making such a choice, with the odds being arguably better or worse but still outside of the threshold of acceptability. We -might- get away with it, just as an engineer -might- get away with skimping on expensive structural connections or the like, but the potential cost is too high

    Comment by dbostrom — 29 Feb 2012 @ 9:20 PM

  230. OldNavy:

    You do not want to be in a situation where you run around saying that the ‘dingo stole my baby’.

    Why?

    A dingo *did* steal her baby.

    Comment by dhogaza — 29 Feb 2012 @ 10:06 PM

  231. OldNavy, I think you go too far when you write:

    These policies need accurate and provable forecasts.

    In the first place, there is nothing outside of mathematical theory that is provable. We never proved that E=mc^2, but atomic bombs still go boom. We have never proved Newton’s laws of motion, but we still got men to the moon and back. Theories don’t have to be proven, just close enough to do the job.

    Indeed, many of our most important policy decisions are made with very little certainty. How much certainty did we have that Mr. Hussein possessed WMD? We invaded a foreign country, expended more than a trillion dollars (and the costs are still rising), 5,000 American lives and at least 100,000 Iraqi lives, all on the basis of — what? I think we can all agree that the evidence supporting the invasion of Iraq was far weaker than the evidence supporting ACC theory. So if we could make the decision to invade Iraq on such flimsy evidence, why can’t we make a decision about climate change?

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 29 Feb 2012 @ 10:37 PM

  232. OldNavy:

    You do not want to be in a situation where you run around saying that the ‘dingo stole my baby’.

    Addendum: you do not want to be in a situation where you run around telling the truth …

    Own goal, I’d say.

    Comment by dhogaza — 1 Mar 2012 @ 1:03 AM

  233. Dan H (@219):

    Here’s the first paragraph from your Singer link:

    “Gallia omnia est divisa in partes tres. This phrase from Julius Gaius Caesar about the division of Gaul nicely illustrates the universe of climate scientists — also divided into three parts. On the one side are the ‘warmistas,’ with fixed views about apocalyptic man-made global warming; at the other extreme are the ‘deniers.’ Somewhere in the middle are climate skeptics.”

    If I saw a piece of pie in the refrigerator with two pieces of crust lying on the plate with it, I could not really honestly claim that there were three pieces of pie in the refrigerator. So Singer implying that climatologists are divided into “three parts” is more than a bit of a stretch. Of course, he provides no statistics to back up this claim. This really doesn’t help his credibility (or yours), does it?

    Dan, do you continue to deny that there is a strong consensus among actively researching climatologists that anthropogenic global climate change is real and is happening now?

    If that is still your opinion, then I would really like to know on what information that opinion is based. Until that is settled, why would anyone believe your completely unsupported claim about the value of the climate sensitivity (@202)?

    Comment by Craig Nazor — 1 Mar 2012 @ 2:29 AM

  234. Ray Ladbury @210
    You quote George Box – ‘All models are wrong, some models are useful.’
    I am myself more acquainted with Box’s colleague Gwilym Jenkins via his academic successors who would certainly point out that the function of the human brain is to provide us with our very own in-built model of the world. As models, it would then be logical to suggest that some (indeed many) of these brains will prove to be not “useful”.
    In the field of AGW, we see strong supporting evidence for such a logical suggestion.

    Susan Anderson @220
    bdostrom @229
    As an engineer myself (& my ‘acquaintance’ mentioned above), I would suggest you both have failed to capture the main cause of professionals like engineers acting like total morons when faced with the issue of AGW.
    “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is too general a statement.
    It is certainly nothing to do with incompetance within low probability situations. Engineers well understand such things as their designs will indeed consider such low-probability, potentially damaging/catastrophic situations.

    Engineers are trained to be myopic. They are trained to provide technological solutions often of a very narrow type and people who deal with engineers really should understand that fact when they approach an engineer professionally.
    A famous anecdote that illustrates this well concerns a high-rise appartment manager finding himself with multi-million $ costs to increase the speed of the lifts due to rich residents’ complaining of delays. A chance meeting with a psycologist friend found a perfectly acceptable solution costing just 0.1% the price quoted by the engineers – full length mirrors beside every lift door.

    Comment by MARodger — 1 Mar 2012 @ 5:40 AM

  235. Singer’s American Thinker article has multiple claims that are false, and can be demonstrated to be false very easily. Eg, ‘no warming from 1978 to 2000′ in the satellite temperature record is scotched with a quick trip to woodfortrees. Same goes for Ocean Heat Content (700 metres or 2000, take your pick).

    I’d not noticed Dan H’s contribution prior to this thread and I’ve tried to give him the benefit of the doubt reading along. I can’t tell whether he’s gaming the discussion or subordinating rationality because he cannot let go of his position, but it is clearly pointless trying to reason with him.

    Comment by barry — 1 Mar 2012 @ 5:56 AM

  236. Craig,
    If a small, homogenous sample is chosen, then the possibility of reaching a consensus is much greater than when using the population as a whole. Consequently, if you chose a population with a pre-disosed opinion, the chances are also high. Using the IPCC as your starting point, does just that. When starting with a group which already believes in the outcome, as Anderegg did, then it should come as no surpise that a consesus was reached. Your idea of consensus centers around the smaller group that already believes this way. My idea of consensus is the broader scientific community. I disagree with the opinion of the smaller scientific community, but agree with the broader community. Maybe this will resolve the whole “consensus” issue. As Singer mentioned, there are no sharp distinctions between the sceintific community as a whole, but rather a slight gtradation from those adhering to the higher climate sensitivity down to those claiming none at all.
    Contrary to your claims in your last paragraph, the direct warming caused by a doubling of CO2 is well-known to be ~1-1.2C. This is well-supported in the literature, and I could list a mulititude of references.

    [Response: You are grasping at straws. Whether veterinarians and dentists have opinions about climate change is not in the least bit relevant to whether there is a broad consensus on a topic. For instance, I guarantee most of them won't give the right answer if you asked them to explain what you mean for the 'direct effect' of CO2 - but you are happy to take that as a consensus. It is also worth pointing out that your 'direct effect' is actually just a mathematical fiction that is something that is relatively easily to calculate, but not measurable or observable in the real world. You (and Lindzen) do like to focus on that number though and imply that the actual sensitivity could be more or less depending on the feedbacks letting listeners get the impression that this is the actual mid-range of sensitivity - when all the real world constraints (including water vapour and ice-albedo feedbacks, and paleo constraints) point to a number 2 to 3 times as large. Again, neat rhetoric, but not honest science. - gavin]

    Comment by Dan H. — 1 Mar 2012 @ 6:53 AM

  237. #233–”Three parts. . .”

    Based upon relative magnitudes, wouldn’t that imply that Singer is calling his “denialista” colleagues ‘crumbs?’

    Comment by Kevin McKinney — 1 Mar 2012 @ 7:46 AM

  238. William Nordhaus weighs in.

    Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong

    Comment by J Bowers — 1 Mar 2012 @ 8:14 AM

  239. Old Navy, I strongly support your admonition for researchers not to “believe” in their models. I continually counsel my colleagues that the goal of scientific modeling is not answers but rather insight. However, I think that in addressing climate modelers you are preaching to the choir. The climate scientists are very careful to point out that the model runs are “scenarios,” not predictions. The predictions come from the insight gained from the models.

    That doubling CO2 will give you about 3 degrees of warming is a very robust result. It is based not just on models but also on observations of the modern and paleoclimate. What is more, the models do have a strong record of confirmed predictions. Perhaps most important–there are no models that come even close to yielding understanding of the climate that do not indicate significant warming and significant issues being caused by it. What we do not know does not invalidate what we do know.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2012 @ 9:33 AM

  240. Dan H.,
    Complete utter nonsense. Scientific consensus is defined by those actively publishing in a field. Who else do you expect to be familiar with the science? The only thing you get from considering the broader scientific community is an indication of whether what the active practitioners of a field are doing is recognizable as science by other scientists. The imprimatur of the National Academies carries weight in this regard, as would AGU, APS, ACS… OISM means bupkes. Good Lord, man, you expect us to believe you are a scientist when you haven’t even the vaguest understanding of how science actually gets done?

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 1 Mar 2012 @ 9:39 AM

  241. Dan H. wrote: “My idea of consensus is the broader scientific community.”

    With all due respect, please stop insulting everyone’s intelligence

    [edit - please don't attack other commenters]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 1 Mar 2012 @ 11:01 AM

  242. Re Engineers: I have worked with quite a few engineers and scientists over the course of my career, and I think there’s one sharp distinction between them: engineers are much more confident in their beliefs than scientists. It is surely the case that scientists are an intellectually conservative lot and are always ready to countenance doubt. By contrast, most engineers are quite certain of themselves.

    The difference is explainable by the dynamics of the cultures in which they operate. Scientists are proficient nitpickers, always seeking to criticize each other. Since so much scientific output is carried out in writing, a mistake once made is a permanent blot on your record. Every scientist is prey to a hundred lean and hungry critics eager to climb the ladder over each other’s bodies.

    By contrast, engineers operate in a strict meritocracy mediated primarily by oral communication. Engineers make their reputation in group meetings where it is easy for the big fish to dominate the smaller fish. Credibility is achieved by the image of confidence and certainty, not by being actually right. Since the engineer operates in small groups, the fear of somebody, somewhere, finding a mistake is much reduced, encouraging a more assertive stance.

    For these reasons, we are well advised to render science to scientists, and engineering to engineers. When engineers venture into science, they often make fools of themselves with their sophomoric certainty. But they never realize that they’re making fools of themselves.

    There are also variations by engineering field. My impression — although my statistical base for these impression is small — is that electrical engineers tend to be the least sophomoric and mechanical engineers to be the most sophomoric. There seems to be something about the level of theoretical knowledge required at work here. Programmers are a wildly mixed lot.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 1 Mar 2012 @ 11:30 AM

  243. Doug Bostrom @~229,

    Thanks very much for the well reasoned and temperate response. I think those who are accustomed to solving problems – a superb ability – sometimes don’t realize that expertise in any field requires study of that field and think if they are skilled and intelligent in their own area of expertise that should be enough. The more I learn about what goes into ongoing work on climate science, the more intriguing and difficult it gets (once you get past the “basic” physics mentioned earlier).

    For those still sticking to their “skeptic” arguments here, they might do a whole lot worse than read some of his articles on SkepticalScience. I’ve been enjoying his comments here and google led me to these that might answer some people’s questions, if they are honestly seeking. Some homework for me, too. Of course if their questions are only meant to provide an entry point for their material, this won’t float their boats:*

    Blog posts matching the search ‘doug bostrom’:
    Climate cherry pickers: cooling oceans
    Explaining Arctic sea ice loss
    Return to the Himalayas
    Sea level rise: the broader picture
    September 2010 Arctic Ice Extent Handicapping Via ARCUS
    Skeptical Science housekeeping: Contradictions, URLs and getting hacked
    University of Queensland talk wrap-up
    Waste heat vs greenhouse warming


    *Evidence of the campaign starkly presented in things like this:
    “Probably the most significant thing to happen to Skeptical Science over the last few weeks was the website got hacked! The first time it happened, content was changed in the skeptic arguments and one comment was overwritten (sorry, Peter Hogarth, you were the unlucky victim). A week later, they managed to remove most of the blog posts off the homepage. I am deeply indebted to Doug Bostrom who was able to figure out how the hacker got in, where they came from and offer a mountain of very wise and helpful advice on how to secure the website.”

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 Mar 2012 @ 11:43 AM

  244. Chris Crawford @241
    Perhaps @234 I should have written “As a mechanical engineer myself…” (And apologies to dbostrom for the careless typo.)

    Comment by MARodger — 1 Mar 2012 @ 12:05 PM

  245. Thanks for the further elucidation about engineers. Very useful. How to get the stubborn brain to open up?

    Comment by Susan Anderson — 1 Mar 2012 @ 12:14 PM

  246. Can we please just consign Dan H to the Bore Hole? He stinks the place out. [agreed. done]

    Comment by Joe Cushley — 1 Mar 2012 @ 12:59 PM

  247. Ray: Engineers are trained to be myopic. They are trained to provide technological solutions often of a very narrow type and people who deal with engineers really should understand that fact when they approach an engineer professionally.

    Hah!

    I’m currently assisting in the creation of a robot, my focus being software on this project. Earlier in the process some motors were added to the machine. At the time I suggested we add encoders to these motors as it seemed likely we’d need feedback from them even though no obvious need was apparent at that stage. “No, I don’t really see why we’d need those” was the response from the engineer I was working with, the motors clearly already able to provide what he saw as their function, namely motive power only. No big deal. Yesterday(!) very late on the chart I received an email from this same engineer, urgently wondering if we process encoder data from these same motors, in accordance with “unforseen” evolving requirements. The encoders are going to have be added in the field so no embarrassment-free testing possible; we’re going to be adjusting our hems right on the dance floor.

    Comment by dbostrom — 1 Mar 2012 @ 1:28 PM

  248. Susan, I’m indebted to John Cook for teaching (reminding?) me of the value of reasonably polite behavior. His insistence on civil discourse is a huge plus for the value of his site, even as constructing elliptical and often better descriptors for terms such as “lie” and “deceit” is a valuable exercise in itself.

    Comment by dbostrom — 1 Mar 2012 @ 1:38 PM

  249. Looks like a fine case of engineer bashing going on here. Just to be clear, I are an engineer. ha ha. 30 years EE with a fair amount of signal processing background.

    This post is simply one man’s guide to how an engineer evaluates this problem. It is mostly opinion on what I have seen and read.

    I think engineers are a special case because many do in fact have the capability to understand the math involved with the modeling and the statistics. And they have many times used both in their work so also have experience to bring to the table. Why is this a special case? Because the “appeal to authority” argument is much less effective with this group. The response is going to be “I don’t care what someone else believes, show me the data and convince me”.

    Clearly there is specific knowledge in separate fields of science that make those in the field the experts. However if your theory is heavily mathematically based and you cannot make a convincing argument to other fields of science (and engineering) than you have a problem with your argument, not their ability to understand it. It is noted that some problems are too difficult to convey easily (quantum mechanics).

    Clearly this works on a case by case basis, depending on the strength of the argument and the competence of the receiving engineer or scientist. Many would argue that my failure to accept the prognostications of climate models to be due to my own incompetence, or the brain damage that is clearly proven by my occasional vote for a Republican candidate. So be it.

    I have examined and accept the temperature records since 1850, I accept that CO2 will cause some warming and that humans emit CO2 as a by product of their civilization. I have examined and believe trees make poor thermometers and this data is unreliable. I believe that tree rings are also largely irrelevant to the issue of where the climate is going, which is what really matters. I accept that there has been an “impulse” of CO2 presented to the environment and believe that the environment’s “impulse response” is largely unknown, and accept it could have negative, possible very negative effects.

    Impulse response: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impulse_response

    So as you see, I agree with most on the main points, possibly even a member of the coveted 97%. However when the rubber meets the road, this is what turns me into a “denier” in the minds of many:

    I don’t believe the scientists have the answers to where the climate is going. They simply don’t have enough data and don’t know the answers. This is the crux of the issue. Don’t confuse this with believing the modelers are “wrong”.

    Why? Complexity of the problem is scary hard. Examination of model results is not encouraging. Science is relatively new compared to time scales required for model validation. The modelers themselves don’t exude confidence and don’t present a convincing case as to why I should trust the models at this early stage.

    But also there is a significant “irrational” input that is difficult to explain properly, but that is I intuitively know from my 30 years of work, that this problem is too complex for a team to solve without a lot of model iterations and really good input data. I also intuitively know that the only way the model team can convince themselves it is working is by successful results.

    Of course I could be wrong, so sue me.

    Arguments about what to do in this situation (precautionary principle, wait and see, etc.) are interesting arguments, but are more value based. I’m for wait and see, but my cultural experience of running my own small business for 15 years makes me more comfortable with risk than most, so that me be part of it. I also see a lot of very poorly thought out solutions that are ineffective and expensive.

    I am of course for the low cost solutions, moving away from fossil fuels gradually, and support nuclear power.

    And one final note, engineers tend not to be impressed by argument by analogy as well.

    Comment by Tom Scharf — 1 Mar 2012 @ 2:34 PM

  250. MARodger, remember that all generalities are laden with exceptions; generalities about human beings are doubly cursed; and generalities based on my tiny data set are triply cursed. While I maintain that there is certainly a germ of truth in my generalities, I certainly wouldn’t apply them universally.

    Susan, my experience suggests that those who do fit my nasty description are unreachable by evidence and reason. The most constructive thing you can do with such people is walk away. It is possible to use one as a foil with which to demonstrate to a peanut gallery just how unreasonable deniers can be. The problem here is that such people have a long list of arguments that sound technically sophisticated, but are in fact pretty stupid. We’ve seen a bunch of those arguments here. It takes special rhetorical talent to explain the science clearly enough to discredit the pseudo-scientific arguments.

    Comment by Chris Crawford — 1 Mar 2012 @ 2:42 PM

  251. Well, there are engineers and then there are engineers. Some are more open to received wisdom than others.

    Comment by David B. Benson — 1 Mar 2012 @ 10:40 PM

  252. However if your theory is heavily mathematically based and you cannot make a convincing argument to other fields of science (and engineering) than you have a problem with your argument, not their ability to understand it.

    That presumes the audience is honestly applying suitable skills to the case and data that you bring. I would suggest that many “skeptical” engineers are not. Hopefully I’m not applying overkill via repetition, but for a recent and impressive case study go see Burt Rutan in action (including the comment thread) denying almost entirely the robustness of the critiques of his horribly flawed “anti-case” and almost the entirety of the scientific case, despite having been provided with large amounts of quality evidence and argument.

    Complexity of the problem is scary hard.

    This is probably only true if you want detailed predictions. The basics of radiative equilibrium constrain the system in ways that are not difficult to understand – especially for engineers – and that have some fairly straightforward consequences. You can probably do a reasonable analysis of the risks of consequences inferred at that level of analysis without recourse to a detailed model. (Most “skeptics” don’t as far as I know…)

    And then if you think the information at hand is too uncertain and/or the system is to complex (often considered to be two sides of the same coin) to be sure what’s going to happen, you should apply standard risk mitigation analysis: do you screw with atmospheric composition in ways that you know will have an effect and then hope like heck it turns out OK, or do you stay within an envelope where you know humanity and the ecosystem it relies upon for survival and prosperity have done well over the last few thousand years?

    Uncertainty and complexity is not the friend of the “let’s screw with it and hope things will be fine” strategy.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 2 Mar 2012 @ 2:11 AM

  253. Oh, and BTW and FWIW “I are also an engineer”.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 2 Mar 2012 @ 2:13 AM

  254. A bit late, but I wanted to point out that the first signer, Claude Allègre, forgot to mention something. He is not only a former director of a science institute, he has integrated the political staff of the president-candidate Sarkozy.
    But don’t forget, he is a “free thinker” “outside the politics” [/sarcasm]. Double standard to the extreme.

    Comment by bratisla — 2 Mar 2012 @ 5:46 AM

  255. Remember engineers and IT people are users of science, not practitioners of science. From the outside science looks much more cut and dried than it is.

    I’m more familiar with the blind spots of IT people than I am with those of engineers. IT people are thinking in terms of the single error which will propagate and bring everything down. The systems that they work with can have this. They aren’t used to thinking in terms of things that are only approximately right, of systems that are like jigsae puzzles where most pieces fit imperfectly but well enough. And they look for a single conclusive line of proof. Scientists look for multiple independent proofs. They think in terms of consilience. That is not in the intuitons of IT people. I can understand why so many of them can get fooled by denialists.

    Comment by Lloyd Flack — 2 Mar 2012 @ 6:47 AM

  256. Dbostrom, I did not claim that engineers were myopic (that was MA Rodger. I feel it necessary to correct this misattribution so that I do not get in (more) trouble with my wife–who trained as an EE and then became an environmental scientist.

    I think all this speculation of why engineers or IT types or physicists, etc. fall victim to crank theories misses the point. The real point is that one can obtain an advanced degree in science, engineering, IT, etc. without really having the foggiest idea of how science works. Hell, one can even have a fairly successful career in science without fully understanding why the techniques you are applying work. In some ways, this is both the strength and the weakness of science–the techniques of science are relatively easy to learn and apply, but understanding why they work is a deep epistemological exercise. There aren’t a lot of folks with the patience for such an exercise. When such an impatient scientist is also an arrogant one, then you get a recipe for idiocy every time he ventures out of his narrow area of expertise.

    Comment by Ray Ladbury — 2 Mar 2012 @ 12:58 PM

  257. If anyone remembers Anteros’ comments upthread and was confused, SkS has posted on this. In sum, Anteros was either confused or deliberately misleading:

    Wall Street Journal ’Skeptics’ Misrepresent the IPCC
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/wsj-skeptics-misrepresent-ipcc.html

    Comment by Utahn — 2 Mar 2012 @ 1:49 PM

  258. Ray: Dbostrom, I did not claim…

    Sorry!

    Comment by dbostrom — 2 Mar 2012 @ 1:57 PM

  259. CO2 effects on climate are an impulse response only on geological time scales. “…20–35% of the CO2 remains in the atmosphere after equilibration with the ocean (2–20 centuries). Neutralization by CaCO3 draws the airborne fraction down further on timescales of 3 to 7 kyr.” As far as human society from an historical perspective, it’s a step response.

    Comment by Brian Dodge — 3 Mar 2012 @ 1:26 AM

  260. If anyone remembers Anteros’ comments upthread and was confused, SkS has posted on this.

    Anteros has appeared in comments over there, arguing much the same as here IIRC (and asserting that the authoritative FAR predictions are the textual descriptions and NOT the graphs, which is a curious position to take unless he has some supporting evidence).

    And he’s still making a great deal of noise about prediction vs projection, and is now claiming that “the emissions scenario was the big error in 1990″(!) and so forth.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 3 Mar 2012 @ 7:13 AM

  261. If I understand Anteros’ “argument” correctly, it is that the FAR made “predictions”, and the textual description of them trumps the graphs, and the trend over the century validly applies to each decade including the early ones, and the BAU scenario [despite not eventuating] is a valid choice to use when comparing “predictions” to subsequently observed temperatures [in fact, he seems to argue that it is the only scenario for which a "prediction" was made despite commenters providing quotes that refute this], and that all of that means the trend line depicted in the WSJ was an eminently reasonable choice (and under no circumstances was it the “highest” choice they could have made because the high sensitivity model went even higher under BAU).

    Trouble is, if we use an emissions scenario close to what was realised the WSJ trend line was significantly higher than the highest choice on offer (i.e. the high sensitivity model), no matter whether you go by the text or the graphs.

    Comment by Lotharsson — 3 Mar 2012 @ 7:43 AM

  262. > the IPCC says they are predictions.

    When they did use that word, they used it to describe what nowadays are called scenarios.

    The IPCC does, at 5-year intervals, report on the current state of the science.

    What do you think they call that kind of thing nowadays?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 3 Mar 2012 @ 6:29 PM

  263. Interesting exchange on the topic of engineers. I must add my (late) €0.02, because I’m currently doing my MSc thesis work in engineering fluid dynamics, a postgraduate degree of mechanical engineering at my university. And I also don’t recognise myself in the image of stubbornness that emerges now and then.

    Since I’m Dutch, I think I should elaborate slightly on our education system, as there may be differences with the Anglophone world. Engineering degrees can be obtained at “HBO” level (tertiary vocational education/college) as a 4-year B-Eng curriculum, distinguished from university level, where it is a 3yr BSc + 2yr MSc programme. The former degree is more focused on direct application of the engineering sciences, places lighter requirements on prior high school education and is taught in classes with (often) mandatory attendance. The latter is inherently academic, and hence requires students to become deeply familiar with the theoretical backgrounds. Consequently, a much heavier demand is placed on mathematical knowledge, and students are advised to choose their high school curriculum accordingly.

    So, one could say these are two different types of engineers, although it is possible to complete a university MSc degree with a HBO B-Eng degree, after following a 1-year deficiency (“pre-master”) track.

    In other words, students who want to work in the field of engineering, but are less interested in where the technology comes from (research), will generally go for the B-Eng degree, and I think that is the biggest distinction between people’s mindsets (as Ray also points out above). Because, speaking for myself, the academic degree requires and trains you to constantly evaluate your assumptions; especially in fluid mechanics you can’t take much for granted. There is no solid ground in the form of generally valid rules of thumb, tables of data, etc. that you can fall back to when researching new technology. It must first hold up to the remorseless scientific method, you can’t skip any steps in the chain of evidence. It is hence a thorough exercise in humility, which usually expresses itself in the subtle and careful way scientists communicate. Never 100% sure. Or, the more one knows, the more one knows how little one knows. I have learned to be cautious about people who appear incredibly confident or treat scientific findings as Boolean values. This is, however, all too often the way these are presented in mainstream media.

    Comment by Steven Franzen — 8 Mar 2012 @ 12:51 PM

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