I like your point. I wish “science journalists” routinely published errata, corrected mistakes, and commented on their own ambiguities when something they wrote fails by being easily misinterpreted. And I sure wish they could rise in their profession by pointing out where other people covering the story got it wrong, pointedly correcting and citing past stories to update them.
Nitpick, for “(scientists are roughly 3 times more ‘trusted’ as lawyers)” I suggest: (Harris Poll: 77% trust scientists; 27% trust lawyers) to avoid fixing “more … as” — writing around the problem.
Sadly, there is nothing unbelievable about it. Mr. Horner is a populist-type author/spokesman who plays to a polarized constituency that tends to want hear things that agree with their often erroneous and/or dogmatic preconceptions. His book on Islam could easily be viewed as hatemongering. His book on American History appeals to sensibilities that are outraged by uncomfortable facts. His book on Darwinism, though, is a real gem: it stands out as a classic example misrepresenting science in favor of reinforcing dogma, taking the “best” arguments Creationists and Intelligent Designers have to offer in order to show science has it wrong.
I bring this up only to echo a sentiment I’ve seen repeated from time to time on these boards and which I agree with: the “debate” over Global Warming has taken on the character of the “debate” over evolution. The same kinds of tactics can be seen at play: misinformation, obfuscation, mischaracterization and general disingenuous behavior.
It might be helpful if Climate Scientists had an organization behind them much like the National Center for Science Education, actively taking on the denialists. Another thing that might be helpful is a website along the lines of talkorigins.org, in particular their extremely helpful webpage that outlines Creationist’s arguments and debunks them point by point. I have found it is an great way to learn for the non-expert.
That said, my ongoing thanks to this site for the information is provides.
Demiers of anything will always find areas of uncertainty to mine. During my research of WWII for a book, I unfortunately ran into a holocaust denier. They use a series of false causes basically, in which they attribute the blame to some kernal of truth, and discrediting the evidence of certain intra-events is a key part.
Perhaps it’s time for climate scientists to deliver their messages directly to the general public, rather than allowing them to be filtered by the news media. Here’s an idea for how this could be done using product labels as a tie-in campaign to Al Gore’s 7-7-07 Live Earth Concerts: http://www.liveearthproducts.net
Gavin, to me the most amusing thing about the “framing” is one thing you failed to point out – that they chose to “balance” you with a guy who’s not even another scientist. In other words, it’s someone who knows something against someone who doesn’t.
Every contrarian story about climate change with the frame “are researchers overstating the science” or “are politics are play” requires at least a comment or two from conservative fave Roger Pielke Jr.
I wonder what’s wrong with the guys are Bloomberg.
The public discussions by scientists never acknowledge the positive aspects that fossil fuels have on civilization in general. The average person looks around and sees that his house is heated with oil or gas, his electricity is generated with coal, his car is fueled by gasoline, and the company he works for uses large amounts of energy. We are in large part comfortable and happy with our carbon-based lifestyles. Furthermore, most Americans would prefer to live or retire in the southern US because, well, most people prefer warmer to colder. Lastly, the public has been continually bombarded with scientific news stories of various impending disasters over the past 40 years. Over the past decades, history indicates that the real problems eventually get addressed and we move on. People, appropriately so, have a tremendous built in faith in man’s ability to adapt and create.
With all this as a backdrop, I think it is unlikely that the public will fully embrace the global warming disaster scenario until it is upon us.
Science is about ‘truth.’ Why doesn’t the public trust ‘scientists’ 100%? Why do the ‘gate keepers’ treat some science issues as political, rather than as facts to proven or disproved?
I think it is because of the way we teach science. (With all due respect to science teachers.) We teach science as a series of half-truths and half-fallacies, each of which must be corrected in some later teaching. If a student drops out of their science sequence before learning the last teaching, then they take some half-truths and half-fallacies with them into the real world. And, the process of unlearning half-fallacies and learning more half-truths leaves some with a deep resentment, and even distrust of science.
For example, the young student learns that the Earth spins on its axis and goes around the sun. However, in Physics 1, they are taught Newton’s Laws, and on the exam is that classic question, “A book is sitting on a table, what are the forces on the book?” THE CORRECT ANSWER IS, “F=MA; the book is not moving, therefore A=0, and F=0; the forces on the book are 0.” The teaching assistant says F=0. That is what she has been told to say, and her Ph.D. in Physics depends on her teaching freshmen that F=MA. The encyclopedia says that everything on Earth is accelerating. Who does the freshman believe? This imposes an immediate cognitive dissonance, which will not be resolved until the study of “Frames of Reference.” If the student does not get to study Frames of Reference, then the student is going to walk away from science thinking that science has real internal conflicts within it, and therefore cannot really be trusted. Moreover, in the discussion of Newton, the lecturer said that balls of different density fall at the same rate, and the students most likely used a computer to “prove” it. If the student leaves science at that point, they will go into the world thinking that “scientific theories” just do not work in the real world. I mean like; the real world has things like air friction!
Now! We want that student that transferred to Journalism after one year of science to believe our “theories” about future climate as “proved with a computer”? Fat Chance!
Re 3: Most polls indicate that there are two classes of people who are distrusted even more than lawyers, journalists and politicians. Trust of scientists would be better if there weren’t so many who are 2d or 3d rate, and whose work is driven by public policy agendas rather than science.
[Response: It's much more difficult than this. Precisely because science is trusted more than politics, politicians and other advocates try to use 'science' to bolster their cases. Since this abuse of the process is often seen by the public as coming from scientists themselves, it devalues the 'brand' (if you like). Plus, there are lots of cases where real, but minority, scientists have been wildly wrong when discussing issues of public concern (Mad Cow Disease, MMR vaccines, tobacco apologists). This obviously does not help the reputation of science. So, I'm happy that scientists are not unquestioningly trusted, but I'm also conscious that maintaining the credibility we do have requires a certain careful approach. - gavin]
Re # 13.
Even the folks that say that they trust scientists do not trust scientists whole-heartedly.
Science works, which is why I trust it. But, the science that I learned in Physics 1 does not work when I throw a box of nails and a bundle of insulation off my roof at the same time. The biology that I learned in Biology 1 is not going to help me grow an orchid from seed.
So, do I trust the scientist with a computer that says that the Arctic Sea Ice will be gone in 40 years? No! I do not think his slab ocean model reflects the currents and thermohaline structures in Arctic waters in a time of AGW.
[Response: FYI. None of those model results use slab oceans. - gavin]
I think, that if you want to go play on the Arctic Sea Ice, you better go soon! And, that includes those huge ice shelves that are supposed to last for thousands of years.
A recent study from the University of Chicago (by economists Jesse Shapiro and Matthew Gentzkow) showed that the slant of newspaper articles depended much more on the audience than on the individual beliefs of the editorial staff. There is probably only so much good you can do in educating reporters/editors. You also have to show them that their coverage is going to translate into dollars. This is a much more difficult proposition, however, the producers of Al Gore’s documentary hit upon a great solution. That movie’s box office numbers (over $45 million worldwide) and Oscar win no doubt were primary factors leading to Time Magazine’s recent cover story on global warming. Maybe it’s time to start working on a treatment about the exploits of daring climate scientists trekking around the world …
Perhaps a way of dealing with folk like Horner starts by stopping him as he gets into his litany and pointing out that anyone who has come up hard and fast against reality understands that there is neither a theory or a model that explains everything. There are always residuals, unexplained anomolies and people on the fringes who will hold onto those for dear life, weaving webs of conspiracy theories that focus only on what remains unexplained. This throws the baby out with the bathwater: the fringe theories might explain the residuals, but they can’t deal with the basic facts of the situation.
The best theories and models deal with the largest extent of the evidence available using intellectually valid and understandable ideas with predictive power. Those with no tolerence for ambiguity are doomed to a life of carping.
Re # 17
Then the general description on the CCSM website should be updated.
[Response: It seems pretty clear to me: "As recently as the 1990s, most climate models used a “slab” ocean—one that behaves as a single unit. Today, the CCSM and other sophisticated models include a much more dynamic depiction of the ocean that tracks changes in ocean currents, temperature, and salinity." http://www.ucar.edu/news/features/climatechange/ccsm-text.jsp . -gavin]
Most journalists haven’t got a clue as to what Science is about. They think that You are an “authority”. They probably think that scientists decide what is true by voting. They don’t realize that all of your friends are “opposing councils”. Good luck on giving them a 4 year education in 5 minutes.
Nature isn’t just the final authority on truth, Nature is the Only authority. There are zero human authorities. Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person's head isn't public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or another instrument.]
Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments and a simple absolute lack of faith in everything else.
This is what needs to be taught in those “Intro to Science” courses for humanities majors. “Intro to Science” courses for humanities majors need to be heavy on laboratory to get the point across.
“Science and Immortality” by Charles B. Paul 1980 University of California Press. In this book on the Eloges of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1699-1791) page 99 says: “Science is not so much a natural as a moral philosophy”. [That means drylabbing [fudging data] will get you fired.]
Page 106 says: “Nature isn’t just the final authority, Nature is the Only authority.”
One outcome of AGW is that just about everyone with half a brain is about to become a climate junky of some kind or another. Those that try to ignore the issue in the hope that it will go away are going to come across as ignorant and useless. Those that follow along with the science and data will be in a position to assume leadership (if only locally) as their communities try to cope. The cream will rise to the top.
OTOH, we might be in for a bumpy ride; the ignorant will shortly turn to their favorite demagogue for validation and a promised return to “our cherished American way of life”. It ought to be good times for the neo-con pundits as they fight the good fight against leftist pinko anti-Democracy tree-hugging enviro-freaks. And you all know who you are. ;)
We must read different scientists. Or at least different policy experts.
Every discussion, including the IPCC, is couched around continuing economic growth and therefore use of fossil fuels (except perhaps the Peak Oil crowd).
I agree with you about the human connection ‘warmth=good’ making it hard for the global warming story to raise alarm. Tim Farrell makes this point very well in The Weather Makers. There is a lack of what psychologists call ‘strong affect’ in the understanding of global warming (at least there was before Katrina), ie strong visual and emotionally charged images of what global warming might be like.
> …daring climate scientists trekking around the world …
Easier to do that than one about the modelers, I guess (sigh).
“Quick, get the drill into that icecap — before it melts!”
“Wait, what’s that rumbling noise? Oh Nooooo, an ice quake.
[a two-mile fall to the bottom, just as the ocean rushes in from all sides]
“Thank goodness you landed on your feet, Dr. Daring.”
“Never mind that, get the drill out of the hole, back to work!”
Clear directives anyone? Like get clean-coal tech installed on as many of thousands of coalgen plants as possible,[ China, India,USA], and a switch to EVs.
Be sure to see or rent **Who Killed the Electric Car**. Provided you are not a Liberal with brain-freeze, it could lead you to a fortune.
The following could improve your life and lungs, clear cities of smog, and defeat Acmahdinejad.
Three facts – The EV wave has started
 General Motors were shocked that their trial electric car of 1993, the EV1, was a wild and addictive public success. Indicating the death of the ICE engine. So much so, that they gathered every last EV1 and crushed them in a secure GM compound. [Rent the video, *Who Killed the Electric Car*.]
 Chevron / absorbed Texaco and gained control of patents for the large format NiMH battery. The ideal BATTERY FOR AUTO-MOTION. For nay, they have no wish to keep us dependent upon products of their 8 to 12 Billion$ refineries and their giant distribution networks.
 Suspect ye not the governments, who, [at the moment], have no idea how to bring in tractor trailer loads of money on the 8 to 16 cents of charge required by EVs that can plug in anywhere anytime.
The Electric Vehicle wave has started and is well under way. The range of the GM *93 EV-1 was 130 miles. Today, a range of 250 miles between charges is reasonable, however smaller NEVs [neighbourhood electric vehicles], of a 40 mile range are popular and sell for only 12 to 14k.
RE #2, “Do you seriously believe these four issues are free of politics?”
Nothing is free of politics (which I take to mean power relations). And as Foucault said, “Power is knowledge.” And the big industries, fossil fuels, and the government & media bought by such, have quite a bit more power than scientists, who still have some power in our technocracy — which is more than what environmentalists or the victims of AGW have (many yet to be born), which is nil.
Which brings me to the point that this is not a 2-sided debate, but a 3-sided debate. However, the voices of environmentalists have been almost totally silenced in this country (though not as much in the rest of the world). So much so, that any environmentalists who make it to the big time (like Al Gore) come off sounding close to scientists. That is, somewhat cautious in making claims; they try to stay within the outer bounds of science.
And scientists, who require 90-95% confidence to make claims (to protect their reputations, so people continue to believe them), are not too far from skeptics, who need 99% confidence, though admittedly they are worlds away from contrarians who need 101% confidence. On the far other side of the trilateral discussion, people trying to avoid harm would refuse the drink of poison, even if it were only 85% certain to kill them. Their standards of precaution are very different from scientific standards of proof.
Let me put it this way, there was plenty enough evidence/theory/proof back in 1990 and before re AGW & its harms for environmentalists (and anyone else concerned about life on planet earth – which should include gov policy-makers, you’d think) to start mitigating GW. It is a crying shame that only now more and more non-scientists are beginning to say, “the evidence is now in [with AR4].” You know the first studies to reach 95% certainty on AGW came out in 1995, but oh no, we need over 99% of scientists to be on board, not just a few scientists reaching 95% certainty on this extremely serious problem we’re facing.
History is NOT going to judge this generation kindly. Assuming the 3 Rs are still being taught in the future and there is history. 2nd to the worst case scenario, we could eventually go into a post-history phase, perhaps hundreds of years from now, sort of like prehistory — no one left able to write things down or read it — assuming we don’t go into the worst case scenarios and there are no people left at all (I personally assume there will be people left, and even some who can read & write, but I could be wrong).
So, how’s that for an environmentalist perspective? See the difference between scientists and environmentalists? I dare any media source in the U.S. to include environmentalists in their supposedly balanced — but grossly tilted to the false positive avoiding side — discussions of global warming.
Given the difficult issue of communicating science to the public, the IPCC and Al Gore do a great disservice to science by interjecting their “mediated” layers.
Sometimes removing complexity from a complex issue does not result in a benefit. I think the  “end run” type of ploy, such as that by Al (I had to warn them!) Gore, is a very bad display by someone who should know better.
[Response: Frankly, I think you are completely wrong. First off, the IPCC is not a mediated layer to the public - it is an assessment of the science for governments. That is vital if governments are to have any confidence that they are getting a considered opinion from the community rather than just a few loud voices. Al Gore is clearly working on taking the science to the public. Two years ago, the idea that anyone would have paid good money to see a powerpoint presentation on climate change would have been laughed at. Now it doesn't seem so strange - and has lead millions of people to look into the issue more closely. If that isn't a good example of science communication, we aren't talking about the same things at all. -gavin]
When the second IPCC Summary came out earlier this month, I watched as much of the media coverage as I could, and also checked out internet news services. As such things go, the coverage was unusually good, and the message was that this is the best inforamtion summary from climate science to date. I was really positively impressed. Coverage was not perfect, but it was good.
I also saw that a recent Pew Poll indicated that 75% of Americans now accept that climate change is happening. In spite of attempts at misdirection by some well funded individuals and groups, the truth is getting out.
The public still isn’t good at science, but this is one physics teacher who nearly always tells students when they are getting information that is only approximately correct and why. There is a substantial movement in physics education to avoid science by formula in favor of doing more to develop and check ideas. It will still be a long time before a majority of people understand what science is about.
Re #23: [...they fight the good fight against leftist pinko anti-Democracy tree-hugging enviro-freaks.]
Err… What about us tree-hugging enviro-freaks that aren’t of the leftist pinko persuasion? Who might, on other issues, be found much closer to the libertarian or even (shudder) neo-con corners?
Maybe it’s time to start seeing environmentalism as something apart from the so-called liberal agenda. Indeed, I have a hard time understanding how they came to be conflated, because to me environmentalism seems at base a very conservative philosophy. Don’t go around messing up the Earth, especially those bits of it you happen to own, or expect to be breathing any time soon. What could be more conservative than that?
This post brings up some good points. The framing has to be considered along with the venue. If the venue is a major media outlet, the management is going to do most of the framing. It does not help when some major influential media outlets are intentionally framing the science in a way that casts doubt on it. Blogs change this because scientists can create blogs and frame the science themselves.
Lynn Vincentnathan (#28) is one person who makes up a very varied group of people who call themselves environmentalists. The environmental groups are not being silenced and shut out of the debate or politics. The people who are actually working on political and legal issues for environmentalist groups do use science to make decisions on the goals they will pursue. Because they need to convince people to act who do not share environmentalist values, they try to use scientific facts.
Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 9 Apr 2007 @ 7:16 PM
Due to Global Warming, one of the predictions for the changes we’d see is for greater variability in weather due to more energy in the atmosphere. Hotter hots. Wetter wets. Dryer dries. And even, in places, colder colds.
[Response: Actually, I don't think this is a fair statement. There is evidence for the dry places getting dryer, and wet places getting wetter - mainly in the tropics and subtropics. And there is evidence for greater intensity of rainfall events due to increased specific humidity. Evidence for greater variability per se is much weaker if it exists at all. What we are seeing this month are extreme excursions of the jet stream - but in most of the models there is a weak increase in the 'NAO' pattern, which is actually associated with less winter variability in the jet stream and reduced extreme cold outbreaks. I am not aware of any study suggesting that extreme cold events should be more likely or more extreme. Be careful not to fall into the contrarian trap of blaming everything (and therefore explaining nothing) on global warming.... - gavin]
Re: comment by Jeffrey Davis 9 Apr 2007 7:19 pm and the response
“There is evidence for the dry places getting dryer, and wet places getting wetter – mainly in the tropics and subtropics. And there is evidence for greater intensity of rainfall events due to increased specific humidity.”
Is this not the same as greater variability ? Let us say we had the data for temperature and humidity worldwide. If we look at the moments of the distribution, will we not see an increase due to outlier events becoming more common ?
[Response: Not necessarily. For precipitation maybe, but without further information, I would estimate that the temp and humidity distributions will simply show a shift towards higher values. For instance, if you look at daily weather records, they are running about 6 to 1 towards new warm records compared to cold records (this is a remembered factoid - I can't find the reference for it though... anyone?). That would be consistent with a simple shift in the mean, not in the higher moments. - gavin]
Sorry to hear about your experience. Frames are hard for some people to appreciate and manipulate because they are basically metaphorical ways of thinking. Telling stories. I’d reccommend Lakoff to you. Start with “metaphors we live by” He’s done some work since then, primarly in the politcal space. A strong “framist” ( I made that up) would argue that all communication happens in a metaphorical context. We are always telling stories.
Anyways, a strong rhetoritician can always reframe a frame.
Let me give you a cartoon example.
FRAME: climate skeptic is a holocaust denier ( metaphor)
REFRAME: I am not a holocaust denier, I am more like Galileo fighting against the religion of global warming.
So, he reframes and tells a better story. So people identify with him as a hero rather than villian. They SEE people attacking him, so his reframe is grounded and tied to some observational content.
FRAME: Nobody agrees with this guy. He is out of the mainstream. 2000 of us agree.
REFRAME: I am like einstein. in the end he was right.
Again, the reframe wins. We love the underdog. and lots of people have heard the story
Now, ‘facts’ and truth have nothing to do with this rhetorical moment.
One speaker tries to make the guy into an outcast( we’ve all felt the pain of that) the outcast comes back and compares himself to an Icon.
Who do you think “wins” this debate?
So. In your first two interviews you were brought on as the expert.
PRIEST. And the questioner plays a role. ENLIGHTEN US. That’s the Frame.
You Priest. They disciple. You Yoda, they skywalker. And of course the story ends nicely.. And here your concern is will they get it. Now, you didnt create this frame, and you dont want to change it. In these cases you were preaching to the choir. Not winning new souls.
Now onto Bloommberg. By bringing in a sceptic they set up the following frame. Priest:disbeliever. So, he asks a bunch of questions, throws out bogus facts, interupts you ( what priest would stand for that) and if you lose control of the situation, then you lose your status as the speaker of truth. Have your ever had a student who badgerred you with endless stupid questions? Kinda ruined the pedagocial moment. Anyways, I think this is one of the toughest frames to reframe. Doubters almost always win these debates. Not because “truth” is on their side, but because “Question authority” is a powerful ethic in some cultures.
I’ll ponder how to Reframe, but it might be best to avoid these types of situations altogether, because the frame is so hard to break. Think of it like negotiating with a terrorist. his whole point is to get on the same level. You talk; you lose. because its a status war, not a truth war. make sense?
I think Tony Guitar’s post on electric vehicles is a total non-sequitur considering this discussion. For one thing, it’s not really about climate change, but about US energy independence — getting us “free from Ahmadinejad,” as Tony puts it. And while US energy independence and curbs on CO2 emissions are both good ideas, the one issue isn’t necessarilty congruent with the other.
Beyond that, the idea of using electric vehicles or EVs to curb global warming may be worse than a non-sequitur, it may be an oxymoron, for there’s a good chance that if western societies replace gasoline-powered cars with the wrong kinds of EVs, the change will make national CO2 emissions higher and accelerate global climate change.
If the electricity used to power electric vehicles comes from coal-fired electricity generating stations, which now provide much of the electricity generated in the United States, then we will be replacing petroleum with coal as the main energy source for our transportation system. This is something the coal companies would like to see, as Jeff Gooden points out in his recent book BIG COAL. But unfortunately, coal generates much more CO2 per BTU than petroleum, so just by itself, the switch from one fuel to another could produce far more global climate change.
Secondly, in many cases electricity generated from coal has to travel hundreds of miles by high-tension wire before it gets from the power plant to the end user. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed under most conditions, true, but it can be transmuted into a non-useful form, into waste heat or entropy. And for every mile that electricity travels, there’s some effective power lost in this fashion, although running the electricity through the wires at ultra high voltage does minimize this loss.
In any case, a fair amount of the potentially useful chemical energy in the coal will be squandered in the form of energy inefficiency AKA entropy before the coal is converted to steam, which is then converted to the rotary motion of the dynamo, which is then converted to electicity, which is then shipped a really long distance to be converted back into rotary motion again.
When Amory Lovins thought about the abstract efficiency of cars fired by the power of coal-fired electric power stations versus the abstract efficiency of cars powered by gasoline in his 1978 book “Soft Energy Paths,” he concluded that given all the problems with transmission, etc., coal-based electric power was likely to create more environmental problems per BTU of transport energy used than the more direct combustion of gasoline.
I don’t know if “Soft Energy Paths” still represents cutting-edge thinking on this issue, if it ever did, but Lovins’ argument certain suggests that EVs will never be some kind of climate panacea.
BTW, for those with an interest in transportation history, it’s a fact that the electric utility grid of the United States and a good many European countries was originally built around the provision of electricity to the electric streetcar lines of approximately the 1890 – 1930 period. The American utility genius Samuel Insull, a transplanted Englishman who served some time as Thomas Edison’s private secretary, was the man who basically put together the idea and the economics of connecting electric generating companies and streetcar lines in a single integrated system.
If the United States now decides to retreat from the gasoline-powered automobile, the transport technology that replaced the streetcars, and if we create a new integrated system that once again links electricity generation to transportation, won’t we essentially be going back to Sam Insull’s system? Explaining, perhaps, why certain people in this country — e.g., the coal companies and the private electric utilities — are displaying such a fervent enthusiasm for EVs?
And if we use coal to power the electric generating plants that support the entire system, won’t we essentially be subsidizing the coal mining industry and the private electric utilities — with some benefit to urban air quality, maybe, but at a major cost in terms of increased global warming?
Of course, we could as an alternative power the EVs with nuclear fission reactors, a solution which would have its own problems. Or, possibly, we might power them with wind, solar, biomass power and other forms of renewable energy. But even with “green” energy sources, I submit that the price we would pay in terms of increased waste heat aka entropy might make the electric vehicle era far more environmentally destructive than we now imagine.
One more note. confidence is not encouraged by the following.
Found in FAQ about your climate model.
7) The model crashed in the dynamics near the pole. What should I do?
Occasionally (every 15-20 model years), the model will produce very fast velocities in the lower stratosphere near the pole (levels 7 or 8 for the standard layering). This will produce a number of warnings from the advection (such as limitq warning: abs(a)>1) and then finally a crash (limitq error: new sn < 0″). There are a number of things you can do to get past such an error: i) Go back to the last monthly rsf file and use ISTART=4, ii) change DT to a smaller value (like 180 sec), run past the crash for a couple of days, and then increase DT back to normal afterwards.
The second option is more straightforward and can be dealt with automatically (see here for more details). The first option is not guaranteed to work unless the number of hours that have elapsed from the start of the run to the end of the last month are not an integer multiple of NRAD. (This is to ensure that the model will follow a different path). If there is a problem, then going back to the previous months restart file generally works.
Please make a note in the rundeck that this happened, and how you fixed it.”
Ok. how does this frame you?
Hmm. Imagine your next Interview. Imagine the other guys says. ” I ran the professors model. It crashed! I went to his web site. He suggested that when it crashed people should tell HIM how they fixed it.”
Now you are sputtering. ya but, ya but. Truth does not matter. You get skewered.
Now, when you develop software to fly an airplane, You have to follow standard proceedures. Mil.std 2167A/T. Inputs Can’t crash the models. It’s a plane. A guys life is at stake.
So dang. You write a model about the climate future of the planet and it crashes. Yikes. It does not matter that this is a boundary condition.
Now, I’m not serious here. I’m just needling you. But seriously dude, don’t publish code that crashes. nasa and crash should NOT be in the same frame.
Ok, watch me reframe. “Here is this Nasa expert. He publishes climate code that crashes. And then he wants to tell us what to do! Challenger go with throttle up. Rememeber the challenger. These nasa guys destroyed that vehicle, and columbia too. and now they are telling us to believe their climate models and their own websites they document that these models crash. Trust them with our future?”
So see how someone can reframe your expertise as bumbling. This guy works for NASA. He published code that crashes. maybe he worked on the shuttle.
See how that reframe works. Unfair, biased, wrong, diabolical, but it puts you in a frame. Nasa EXPERT. His code crashes. Priest screws alter boys. See how reframes work. Now this is tough, because it is emotional and illogical warfare. Frames are metaphors. Like “the planet has a fever.” Like “bush is hilter.” Frames. Angry yet?
Unfair? You bet. Biased. Yes. Obnoxious. Yes. But that is how reframing works.
Seriously, fix the code. Ah.. you probably have already.
“lots of requests for media appearances for climate scientists”
I’m surprised at this. As I understand it, WG2 covers a much broader school than just climate science – indeed looking down the author list there are very few familiar names (to me). I wouldn’t have thought that climate scientists are the most obvious people to talk about resource management and economic/social/technological development.
I think the issue is most scientists (ok some scientists) don’t know how to tell stories well. Some do, Feynman, bless his precious soul, did. Remember that. Show. don’t tell. He could have worked up a bunch of charts and graphs and error bands and elasticity verus temp, and tensile strength and and and and.. But he told story. “I put the Oring in the ice water.”
See? He didnt blather on about consensus and forcings and tree rings and etc etc
He put the oring in the ice water. And we all knew how our friends had died.
That man knew how to control a frame and play the bongos.
When it comes to science communication, it is worth looking at articles by people who do it well; the best example I’ve seen recently is by Wally Broecker in Science:
Wallace S. Broecker
“If we are ever to succeed in capping the buildup of the atmosphere’s CO2 content, we must make a first-order change in the way we view the problem. Most policies that have been discussed, including cap-and-trade systems and the Kyoto treaty, have treated the problem exclusively in terms of incremental reductions in CO2 emissions. These, however, will not stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels; they only slow the rate of increase. Instead, to actually stop the increase, we must develop the concept of what might be called a “carbon pie.” Currently, for each 4 gigatons (Gt) of fossil carbon burned, the atmosphere’s CO2 content rises about 1 ppm; including deforestation, we now emit about 8 Gt of carbon per year. Further, this four-to-one ratio will only change slowly in the coming decades. Hence, if we set a desirable upper limit on the extent to which we allow the CO2 content of the atmosphere to increase, then this fixes the size of the carbon pie. If, for example, this limit were to be double the preindustrial CO2 amount (i.e., 560 ppm), then the size of the pie would be 720 Gt of carbon [i.e., 4 (560 - 380)]. Were the limit to be set at 450 ppm, the size of the pie would be only 280 Gt.
Once the size of pie has been established, each of the world’s nations would be allocated a slice. In an ideal world, the size of these slices would be based on population. In this case, the world’s rich countries would get only about 20% of the pie. If the limit agreed upon were 560 ppm, then the rich nations’ share would be about 150 Gt. As these countries together currently consume about 6 Gt of fossil carbon per year, if they continued at this pace, their allotment would be consumed in just 25 years. Faced with this limit, each of these rich nations would be forced to rapidly reduce its emissions (see figure). Poor nations would be able to sell portions of their pie slice to the rich countries and still have enough left to permit them to industrialize.”
Now, if reporters and editors would only try and include a similar level of detail in their news reports – there’s nothing in the above piece that your average high school student would have any problems understanding. Also – unless you want to depress and begloom your audience, tell them about solutions to problems as well as about the problems themselves!
Try a Margaret Thatcher technique: when a journalist asked her something ‘off message’, she would say ‘I don’t think that’s the right question to ask. The question you should have asked is …. ‘ and then she would reply to that.
FRAME: i am Einstein/Galileo exposing the failures of the great left-wing scientific conspiracy.
REFRAME: I don’t think you are. Where do you propose 10Gt of CO2 goes each year? As the Supreme Court might say ‘Do you have scientific proof that it is doing no harm in the atmosphere?’ Al Gore’s original thinning-icecap data came from the US Navy: are they alarmist left-wing anti-captialists? If insurance companies think it is risky to build in lowlying coastal areas, perhaps you could reassure viewers that actually they are completely safe?
Please note this is a rhetorical not a scientific technique: don’t leave time for him to reply, just set out a load of questions designed to show in the short time of the interview that you have a handle on risks we face and he doesn’t. It’s not just a consensus of greenies, scientists and certain politicians: there is agreement from a far more diverse section of society. Extrapolate his views to the ridiculous extreme: ‘Ah now I understand! – the US Navy invented Global Warming to make lots of money and win more oscars.’
FRAME:people who believe in AGW are gullible wacko extremists who will believe anything as long as it involves raising taxes.
REFRAME:people who respond to AGW by planning for the future are being cautious and conservative.
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore testified about possible solutions to mitigate anthropogenic climate change at two 21 March hearings held before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. His 10 recommendations to reduce U.S. carbon emissions:
[Response: If you saw how much spam there is, you'd understand. If you avoid anything to do with gambling, loans and pharmaceutical products you are usually ok. In this case it was the word 'mortgage'. - gavin]
Gavin, if you make people think for themselves the job is done. There is not enough personal interaction. ie placing the viewer into the thinking, it starts from their knowledge being involved in a process of recognition, for instance the first step is to introduce their experiences as scientific fact, it was colder then, they know that, that is a crucial start. Then why is it warmer now? This unstoppable question of interest needs an evaluation which includes the near future. Being correct for the near future helps reinforce AGW theory presented has no other alternatives. The 100 year estimates are fine, but are vague by temporal distance, and meaningless as there is no hope in seeing them come through. Contrarians have fun with long term projections, and muddle the short term by assuming that it will be very cold one day, but this is insulting to the intelligence of the viewer, the entire Earth has to be put in perspective and connecting the climate experiences of the people of the world is the only way to make the subject more compelling.
“Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore testified about possible solutions to mitigate anthropogenic climate change at two 21 March hearings held before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. His 10 recommendations to reduce U.S. carbon emissions:”
1. Immediately freeze carbon dioxide emissions and then begin a program to reduce them by at least 90% by 2050.
2. Replace the payroll tax for Social Security and Medicare with a tax on pollution, particularly carbon dioxide.
3. Use a portion of the tax on pollution to help low-income individuals adapt as carbon emissions are reduced.
4. Work towards de-facto compliance with the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change, and create a new, strong international treaty with a starting date of 2010 instead of 2012.
5. Enact a moratorium on the construction of any new coal-fired power plants that are not compatible with carbon capture and
6. Create an ‘Electranet,’ a smart grid in which power generation is widely distributed. Homeowners and small businesses
could use solar and wind energy generators and sell that energy into the grid at a rate that is determined by the market.
7. Raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for automobiles, and set energy standards for other industries.
8. Set a date for a ban on incandescent light bulbs.
9. Create a ‘Connie Mae,’ a carbon-neutral mortgage association that would help homebuyers pay for energy reduction measures such as insulation and energy-efficient windows that can have high upfront expenses.
10. Have the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) require the disclosure of carbon emissions in corporate reporting.
If a news station is framing an issue badly, it could help to pick up the phone and tell them so. When I heard a local radio station give an AGW skeptic equal time and the last word in response to an AGW news item, I called them up and told them that by giving equal time to the skeptic, they were practicing irresponsible (and I should have said lazy) journalism and misrepresenting the scientific consensus. The person I was talking with said they would think about it for the next time.
Just another source for your “lawyer / scientist” trust levels. Look at the latest Edelman Trust Barometer (http://www.edelman.com/trust/2007/). This gives lawyers a 41% (developing country) and 27% (developed) credibility. Although no specific mention of scientists – financial analysts; academics; health care specialists etc. all scored considerably higher than lawyers.
Your logic is good, but you give the average journalist and editor, let alone the average newspaper reader, *let alone* the average TV watcher, far too much credit.
Studies show as much of half the population is functionally innumerate. Put a number in an argument, and their eyes glaze over.
You’ve got to remember 90% of people don’t take science or math beyond a high school or freshman level, and I’ve know Phd level biologists and medical doctors who have trouble with math. And even those with that level of quantification in their education, never really learn how to apply it.
You can see it in the US mutual fund data. Most people don’t realise that a fund that returns 50% and then loses 50% in 2 successive years has lost them 25% of their money.
Financial reporters, in my experience, are innumerate. Let alone general reporters.
One of the most common questions I get, btw, on global warming, is ‘why are scientists only 95% certain’?
Human beings don’t think like actuaries or economists. To the latter, 95% certain is a truth. But the average person thinks 95% certain means that there is a lot of doubt. After all, people play the lo–ery (edited for spam blocking). And they will not install an energy saving measure in their homes, that has a 3 year payback (so 12-15 times the after tax return of money in their bank account).
“In court filings, automakers have argued that regulating the emissions will increase pollution, cause more traffic deaths and lead domestic automakers to stop selling most of their passenger models in states that adopt such regulations.”
“Among other points, the industry says more fuel efficient cars could be dangerous, because they will be cheaper to drive and lead people to drive more and potentially have more accidents.”
Comment by Fernando Magyar — 10 Apr 2007 @ 6:11 AM
I don’t understand the lawyer/scientist comparison. A lawyer only has the obligation to not lie, not to be truthful. A criminal defense attorney who advises his client to call the police and tell them the truth is a BAD attorney. If you were being sued and in need of a defense, it would be a bad decision to hire such an attorney.
Most of the population being functionally innumerate: Probably true but deeply frightening. Why do we send our kids to school if they are not going to be taught anything? Is it just to entertain them so they would stay off the streets? What is terrifying about a number? I try to be a kind and approachable teacher, but telling me one has math phobia doesn’t win my sympathy. Because take those innumerate people and ask them about how much interest their money would earn in so and so bank and in so much time, and you get an accurate answer in seconds..
How do frames shift then? Despite what some might think, it is a matter of education – not of the general public though (as welcome as that would be) – but of the gatekeepers: the journalists, editors and producers.
About the time that Al Gore’s book made the best seller’s list and record floods were happening in the Midwest (1993), journalists were being told not to bring up global warming in doing interviews with National Weather Service (NWS) supervisors about the heavy rains that summer.
That’s what I learned from my NWS supervisor, the Hydrologist in Charge (HIC) of the North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) after I told him I planned to make a comment about global warming at an inter-agency Spring Flood Outlook meeting in January of 2000 in St. Paul, MN.
The NCRFC HIC said I needed to behave like he did in 1993 and to not bring up global warming in talking with people who communicate with the public.
I did anyway, as shown in a brief summary of the inter-agency meeting, below.
Subject: Spring Runoff Outlook Interagency Coordination Meeting
Author: Pat Neuman at W-CR-MSR
Date: 1/27/2000 9:55 AM
The subject meeting was held at the St. Paul Corps of Engineers in St. Paul, Minnesota on 1/26/2000. The three hour meeting was attended by 40 people representing federal and state agencies in the Midwest. The State of Minnesota was especially well represented.
Precipitation, soil moisture, frost, snow, and flows were discussed. Several attendees made presentations on their procedures and operations. Staff from the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices in Grand Forks, ND and Chanhassen, MN, and the North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC) in Chanhassen, MN summarized the hydrologic, summarized the hydrologic conditions as dry, with concerns for water deficits, rather than flooding.
The NCRFC (by Pat Neuman) echoed remarks made last week on CBS News by Dr. James Baker head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “The world continues to get warmer. There is no question we are seeing global warming.”
I appreciate the correction, but would like to salvage my pride and remark that 3 out of 4 of my examples of variability stand.
I based my remarks on 3 things. First, the increase in variability in a system when more energy is available. That’s just standard. Second, the readily available predictions about heat, drought, and rainfall. And third, I remembered a map which showed projections of temperature changes due to GW. There were, I remember, dimly, 2 areas on the globe, like the “eyes” on the wings of a cecropia moth, where temps could be expected to decline. (It seemed to me that if the poles were “hogging” the temperature increases above the mean, then some areas would get short changed. That could mean simply less of an increase, but it could also mean an actual decline in places. Obviously, the greater the actual temperature increase globally then record cold temps would likely be a thing of the past.)
Unfortunately for credibility, people don’t distinguish who exactly the talking head on their TV is. Whether it’s a scientist, lawyer, or hack author doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is what the person is saying. And unfortunately purveyors of doom-and-gloom have a bad track record. From limits-to-growth “experts” in the 1970s, to ice-age-a-comin, to WWII, to AIDS-will-kill-us-all, to peak oil, to global warming. There is a steady flow of this stuff on our TV screens.
It’s tough then to present a coming danger. What might happen in 100 years is much less important than what’s going to happen in the next 20. Not sure what to suggest, except that any whiff of alarmisms hurts credibility.
Gavin replied: “Al Gore is clearly working on taking the science to the public. Two years ago, the idea that anyone would have paid good money to see a powerpoint presentation on climate change would have been laughed at.”
Since powerpoint is lowercase, I assume you were using the term generically. But not to miss an opportunity to be pedantic, Al Gore did not use PowerPoint, but Apple’s Keynote. This article list what Al Gore did right when making an effective presentation aimed at the wider public regardless of the software.
I couldn’t agree more strongly, as I use this same technique with peak oil deniers. While I normally try very hard not to get into debates in a social setting, sometimes I just can’t muster the will power, especially when I hear someone dismiss “high” oil prices by saying, “The oil companies are just screwing us–there’s plenty of oil.”
I ask them how much oil the US and the world uses per day, where it comes from, how much high quality oil is in the ground, how quickly we can extract it, etc. I find that the most effective way to do this is to be as non-confrontational and casual as possible–make it sound as if you’re seeking answers to those questions, and frame the discussion in terms of the points you’re asking about. If pressed for answers, give them, and then add, “But if it’s just he oil companies screwing us, then I guess all that information must be wrong. What numbers are you working with?”
In global warming I think this would be equally successful. Press people to back up their sweeping conclusions with facts, and focus on the key issues, like what happens to all the carbon we spew into the air, etc.
Re #46: [Because some sorts of conservatism conserve entrenched privilege, and that, any serious response to environmental issues will not do.]
Err… Why not? Except by the circular argument that a lot of our present-day “greens” might more aptly be called “watermelons” – green on the outside, red on the inside :-)
I’d argue that entrenched privilege would, at least in some circumstances, act in support of environmental issues. Consider for instance Britain during the Industrial Revolution: much of the land was owned by the aristocracy, whose entrenched privilege gave them an interest in preserving it, while the new industrialists, unprivileged except by the wealth they made, had a powerful incentive to destroy the land if they could profit thereby.
Indeed, you see much the same thing these days, with for instance real estate developers swallowing up land that the owners don’t have entrenched privilege enough to keep.
“Many prestigious mathemeticians are beginning to question the relevance of Pythagoras’ Theorem in geometry and are being censored by Pythagorists in government positions”
Pythagoras’ theorem only applies to Euclidean geometry, ie. when you’re working on a flat plane. There are plenty more geometries in which it doesn’t hold, probably including the real world in which we live (thanks to Einstein complicating matters.)
I’m not trying to be difficult, but we do need to strive for truth!
[Response: I can see the headlines now 'Mathematicians dispute Pythagorean theorem: Lobby groups call for repeal of NAFTA claiming "Area" to be an undefined concept.'.... - gavin]
Thanks, Gavin, for posting my rather piqued complaint, but more importantly for posting my effort, #47, to introduce Al Gore’s recommendations into the record, if not the conversation. I see the workaround for the spam filter can be relied on. It’s often been noted that in “An Inconvenient Truth” Mr. Gore was light on telling us what to do. Seems to me that the part of the congressional testimony I posted answers that complaint. Perhaps at some point your evaluation of Gore’s points will become instructive.
I do recommend copying one’s message before clicking the “post” button, just in case a rewrite becomes necessary.
Re #58: “Re #46: [Because some sorts of conservatism conserve entrenched privilege, and that, any serious response to environmental issues will not do.]
Err… Why not?”
In principle, James is right – entrenched privilege can in some circumstances favour environmental preservation. However, to deal with major current environmental issues successfully (AGW being the biggest but by no means the only one), we need very widespread cooperation, setting aside short-term interests, across states, ethnic groups, social classes, sexes and age-groups. That will only come about if the distribution of benefits and burdens is perceived as fair – a robust finding of social psychology. That won’t happen unless such benefits and burdens are much more evenly shared than they are now.
The only possibly workable alternative is to exterminate billions of people using genetically modified pathogens – and I assume no-one here favours that.
The hard problem is to know when the model has captured enough detail to be accurate enough for the purpose at hand. When the purpose is convincing the public in general, this is a very high hurdle, because the public always thinks that you are ignoring something in the real world – particularly when you are predicting something outside of their experience. (Extraordinary claims DO require extraordinary proof.) Ice concentrations in parts of the Arctic have changed by 6 standard deviations since 1979. That is a lot of change. Is more change coming? How fast?
Do our models capture what is going on? Is everyone happy with the correlation between model predictions and currently observed ice extant and competence? We have had a good bit of change in the Arctic, and we should be able to say, “Yes our models are absolutely correct” or “No, our models are missing things.” Is there anything to Walt Meier’s (National Snow and Ice Data Centre) statement that “The model forecast may be underestimating what we could expect in the future years.” Do we have to wait for better models? Or, is Dr. Meier talking about old models that are no longer in use? If so, are current models really any better?
My task for this week is to prepare for meetings on California water supplies. Do I tell those lawyers, engineers, and bean counters that they should invest huge sums on infrastructure based — not on years of engineering experience and weather records, but on basis of a computer climate model? Must they discard all that expertise because climate is changing at X Standard Deviations per decade, and that rate of change may increase in the future? Must they rely on some “pointy-headed” scientist’s computer model? If that model over estimates changes in California’s climate, then they will waste millions of dollars. If they under-invest for the actual climate effect, then the costs could be huge.
Engineers like experience. Lawyers like precedent. Accountants like paper trails that lead to “the correct number.” These are not the prime characteristics of the current generation of climate models. Anybody that thinks that those meetings are going to be fun has not spent much time sitting across the table from lawyers, engineers, and bean counters.
I finally saw Gore’s Movie a few weeks ago at the neighborhood library. After seeing it I it seemed to me that the political humor should have been left out of the movie.
Recently I got into a discussion at a thread about an article titled:
Forecaster blasts Gore on global warming
which includes this excerpt about Al Gore:
“He’s one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he’s doing a great disservice and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Dr. William Gray said in an interview with The Associated Press at the [NWS] National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, where he delivered the closing speech.
That got me digging back into my archives from year 2000, while Clinton and Gore were in there final year at the White House and Dr. Baker was NOAA Director and my becoming aware of what National Weather Service (NWS) supervisors were telling national media stations in 1993 about no questions dealing with global warming and the 93 floods (#53).
That led me to wondering if Al Gore’s book on Earth in the Balance influenced orders at NOAA’s NWS not to bring up too political subject of global warming, but I didn’t’ know the date Gore’s book became popular. I did a search and found that Gore was working on the book during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Thus, it seems Gore’s book did have an influence on NWS staff not being allowed to talk with media about global warming in 1993.
Now I’m curious, with NWS having a staff of 5500 meteorologists and technicians and about 120 Weather Forecast Offices who’s staffs talks to media, universities, local governments and the public on a day to day basis pretty much, mostly off the record, it seems likely to me the NWS supervisors got all bent up about Al Gore’s book in the the mid-late 1990s and 2000, which probably cost Al Gore the election in 2000. The arrogance of National Weather Service government workers, in their views about a non meteorologist speaking his views about atmospheric and global warming, probably cost Al Gore the election, in my view.
… We must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization. .
Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit
Re #62: Aaron Lewis — I wouldn’t find it fun either! While just an amateur at this, I know that Hadley Centre prepared a region-by-region prediction for 2050 which is being used locally by air quality and agricultural scientists for this region.
Also, I happen to know of some changes already occuring in California: San Diego is becoming sub-tropical and snowpacks are declining in the Sierra Mountains. (The snowpacks were mentioned in comments on the thread about snowpacks in the Cascade Mountains.)
But fundamentally, yes, you need to rely on the climate modelers work. Plural, not just one model, as in the recent IPCC reports. If I had your task, I would use the above changes to California climate to start right off by noting that neither experience nor precedent are going to be of much use as we are taking the climate into an artificial regime about which little is known…
Comment by David B. Benson — 10 Apr 2007 @ 4:25 PM
Re #61: [That will only come about if the distribution of benefits and burdens is perceived as fair - a robust finding of social psychology. That won't happen unless such benefits and burdens are much more evenly shared than they are now.]
Except that you then have the problem of getting everyone to agree on your definition of what’s fair – or of course getting you to agree with someone else’s definition. I’m pretty sure this is not a solvable problem. I’m sure, just to continue the example, that your average aristocratic landowner, family farmer, or member of an indigenous people will not think it fair when their lands are taken by developers, just as the developers won’t think you’re being fair when they’re blocked from doing so.
re #43: Ed, insurance companies will raise their risk premium for any illusion they can get buy with — reality and reason have little to do with it, unless they get called. Don’t use them as more proof of AGW.
If you check out this link, you will find the latest NZ news report in which scientists slam the ICPP report as unscientific. Us lay people need help in refuting these sort of arguments; any suggestions?
“Update 15 Dec 2006 ******************************
Due to a dumb mistake, the values for MT were in error when loaded up
for the period ending Nov 2006. Rather than eliminating NOAA-16 data
(the bad satellite) I had eliminated NOAA-15 (the good satellite)
after Sept 2005. So, the values for MT have all been rerun and replaced….”
You got your point across, but not in the sense that you thought. Anytime you call a tv or radio station, it confirms that you are tuning in. (Ratings!) They will then adjust their programs to make you keep calling back! They know you are watching now.
I second that! My wife works in insurance regulation doing rate research. They slip anything they can into getting a rate increase. It can be comical in what they list as reasons for a rate increase. Some food for thought. What is more risky to insure in florida with seasonal storms, or to insure in california where the earthquakes will come? Or last, to insure in tornado alley with twisters every year and big cities that can be struck by those twisters?
I just haven’t had time to read all these comments, so forgive me if I’m just repeating someone else’s idea, but -
When someone brings up Copernicus or Einstein, the idea that the consensus was against them and they turned out to be correct, here’s what I would say:
“So, if someone now goes against the consensus and says relativity is wrong, or the sun really does go around the earth, should I expect that the consensus will be overturned yet again in favor of that person’s idea?”
(PS Newt Gingrich brought up Einstein in a debate with John Kerry today. But Kerry later got him to agree to a statement about the urgency of anthropogenic global warming. (I wonder then if Gingrich meant his Einstein reference (despite it’s placement in the debate) to apply to the focus of the debate – cap and trade verses prizes and tax breaks and other incentives.))
>_____ years of engineering experience and weather records,
And offer them the following:
Based on the past 10 years of engineering experience and weather records,….
Based on the past 100 years of engineering experience and weather records,…
Based on the past 1000 years of engineering experience and weather records,…
Possibly you ought to invite a professional gambler along, if they have trouble with risk probabilities.
Below are not best examples by any means, just from a quick and lazy search for samples. Any professional in this research area can come up with plenty of climate records — not models, actual physical records laid down layer upon layer — documenting the range of drought and length of drought common in the past.
You don’t need the change from global warming to scare a water planner, that’s gravy.
You’ll have to explain just a little bit about things like the sediment record from the California lake beds, but not too much for any lawyer or engineer to understand.
If you need help before the end of the week, post again.
I’ve worked with people in those professions for decades. There are some who know the answer they want and won’t hear anything else. If you’re fortunate, you’ll be talking to those who stop, look, and listen before making major decisions.
I assume you know the record I’m talking about, right?
#59 and #74: Amusingly enough, one of the books in that Regnery series, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science,” was written by a guy who previously wrote in The American Spectator denouncing Einstein’s theories of relativity as left-wing obscurantist nonsense.
Another for Aaron. I hope you follow up on this upcoming meeting; if it’s true that the people you work for are insisting you provide modeling information, and insisting that modeling information has to be perfect, they’re just using you to pretend to consult without actually wanting facts; if it’s your choice to present them with modeling info as best available, pray reconsider.
Follow the citations and count them; that’ll help. Don’t miss this one, a couple jumps away in the lists of cites from one of those I posted earlier, as another example:
Re #65 “Except that you then have the problem of getting everyone to agree on your definition of what’s fair – or of course getting you to agree with someone else’s definition. I’m pretty sure this is not a solvable problem.”
Not solvable in the sense of having a solution everyone will agree, true – but you don’t need everyone to do so, just as not everyone needs to agree particular laws, tax regimes etc. are fair for them to be enforceable – although if too many people disagree, they are not. So basically you need a combination of voting and negotiation of compromises between interest groups, as already happens both within and between states. The hard point is that this needs to be done globally – or at least, including enough of the world to make enough difference. The reason for (guarded) optimism is that is really is objectively better for everyone concerned about what happens more than a few decades hence to come to an agreement, even at the expense of accepting significant sacrifices. Of course, you may be right that individual and/or collective selfishness and short-termism will prevent agreement. If so, we’re stuffed – and I’d expect the resulting turmoil to result in global nuclear and/or biological warfare.
As you can see, it is a remarkable tool in that it allows anyone desiring solid cited information regarding why claims made by the other side are wrong or even outright fraudulant to get the right answer with relative ease.
If I have one complaint with Real Climate, it is it lacks this mechanism that allows the layman to comprehend specifics within arguments in a concise fashion.
I think the issue we are discussing here goes deeper than simply the way science is presented in the media. This goes more towards how scientific information is produced and consumed in our society today.
A meteorologist, for example, sees a storm in Nebraska and predicts that it will move east towards the US east coast and then out to sea. Maybe they are not sure exactly where it will cross the coast because of a wind out of Canada. So they predict that there is a 60% chance of rain in New York for a given day. Now, lets say the storm moves a little to the south and New York stays dry. The meteorologist was got things generally correct. The storm moved east, then out to sea just like they said it would. It hit the coast more or less where the prediction stated. The possibility of the winds pushing south were acknowledged even while the storm was way to the west. But 20 million viewers in New York wind up with the mistaken impression that the person on TV was dead wrong. People who consume the science for the most part donâ??t really care one way or another about what kinds of clouds are overhead or where the frontal boundaries are. They just want to know if they should pack a picnic lunch or not.
I think the majority of the US population still looks a climate science the same way the look at the weather report. They are looking at how it will effect them and thinking that the climate scientists are about as reliable as their perception of the weather report on TV. If we, as a society want to do something real about climate change, we have to educate people not just in how climate works, but more importantly, how to understand and interpret scientific data. Thatâ??s why realclimate is so important. Every time we allow the media or anyone else to present watered down versions of science to us, we do a great disservice to the public. Keep presenting complete information simply, but without watering it down and let the public rise to understand what you are saying. They can, and will. We donâ??t need to be entertained by the news. We need to be informed.
Comment by Jacob Tanenbaum — 11 Apr 2007 @ 2:01 PM
68 & 69, Dr Paul Harris. A quick web search of the two “expert” sources in your cited article will reveal to you what you need to know about their credibility. One is a chemist, the other a geologist. Neither has any publications in peer-reviewed climatology journals. They appear to be respected and published within their own fields of expertise. They also appear to have financial connections to organizations that have vested interest in retaining the status quo with respect to current CO2 emissions.
With respect to their specific criticisms of AGW, lurk on this site for a few weeks and you will soon learn to recognize and debunk the hackneyed arguments that these gentlemen and their ilk circulate again and again.
I suppose the fear of numbers is partially true, but I think in terms of ‘framing’ the issue of the need to eliminate fossil fuel CO2 emissions, a carbon pie is about as good an image as you can come up with. It’s simple, and everyone understands that there is only so much pie to go around, and that if you eat too much pie you’ll get sick. You have to make the pie last for about a century, so eat it very slowly – what better way to frame the issue is there?
The numbers can be confusing, but with respect to Wally Broecker’s article in Science, it’s just simple arithmetic, not compound interest. Everyone understands pie, after all. :)
Re #83 So they predict that there is a 60% chance of rain in New York for a given day.
According to a meteorologist who writes a column in the local newspaper, that prediction means that 60% of the area covered by the forecast is expected to receive rain. The forecast can still be wrong, of course, but 40% of the area would not have received rain even if it were right, and no one knows for sure if they are in the area that will receive rain, or the area that won’t receive rain. Of course, some people will complain about the forecast no matter what happens.
Re #32 to me environmentalism seems at base a very conservative philosophy.
You only have to look back to James G. Watt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan to see how the current liberal/environmentalist vs. conservative/anti-environmentalist dichotomy became entrenched in the U.S.:
“We will mine more, drill more, cut more timber.”
“I never use the words Democrats and Republicans. It’s liberals and Americans.”
re: 87. That meteorologist does not know what he is talking about. “60 percent chance” means that there is a 60 percent chance of measurable precipitation (0.01 inch or greater) at a particular location, say an airport. It does not mean that 60 percent of an area will receive precipitation. That is fundamental meteorology and I very seriously question that meteorologist’s credentials.
After reading your comment in #89 about Gore’s Live Earth concert, I’ve changed my mind on what I said in #63 about Gore’s movie. I now believe that the political humor in Gore’s movie was in fun and in good taste. Thanks.
[[Writing in National Review,he warns Mr. Gore's Live Earth concert risks acceleration of global warming in response to the mass exhalation of CO2 by the assembled crowd. ]]
Some allegedly humorous comments come off as more stupid than anything. People will exhale pretty much the same amount whether they are at home or at a concert. And in any case, the respiration-plant decay-photosynthesis cycle is nicely balanced. The extra CO2 that’s building up in the atmosphere comes primarily from burning fossil fuels.
I have read the most recent IPCC report and it includes shocking admissions like this footnote:
“7 A subset of about 29,000 data series was selected from about 80,000 data series from 577 studies. These met the following criteria:
(1) Ending in 1990 or later; (2) spanning a period of at least 20 years; and (3) showing a significant change in either
direction, as assessed in individual studies.”
What the scientists did was selectively mine only data that supports the Global Warming theory. Sounds like science to me.
re: 93. Then you do not understand how science research is conducted. One does not simply select data series from, for instance, 50 years ago that end in 1980. You want to investigate current warming, with data series that end during the period of greatest warming. The warming that has occurred since about 1970 is outside the range of natural forcings alone. The science behind global warming is basic physics and is quite strong. The idea that a layman knows something that literally thousands of climate science researchers who publish peer-reviewed studies do not is absurd.
Re #88: [You only have to look back to James G. Watt, U.S. Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan to see how the current liberal/environmentalist vs. conservative/anti-environmentalist dichotomy became entrenched in the U.S.]
The basic mistake there is in holding up Watt as typical of conservative ideas; about as realistic as claiming Warsaw Pact industrial policy makers as representative of liberals. As I recall, he was in fact the sort of religious extremist who believed that the world would end sometime around Y2K, which of course would make conservation fairly pointless.
re: #94 & #95
Numb Nuts quoted a footnote, somehow without the statement to which it was attached:
“Of the more than 29,000 observation series (7), from 75 studies, that show significant change in many physical and biological systems, more than 89% are consistent with the direction of change as a response to warming. (Figure SPM-1 [1.4]).”
Figure 1.4 shows a nice analysis of the types (physical/biological) and geography of the data sets.
From that chart:
Of (765+28,671) = 29,436 total, ~(719+25,804) = 26,523 Warmings, versus
~(29,436 – 26,523) = 2,913 Coolings, a 9:1 ratio.
Of the ~(80,000 – 29,000) = 51,000 data series that were not used:
a) Let X be the number that dropped out as ending before 1990 or being <20 years.
b) That means that S = (51,000 – X) dropped out because there was no significant change. I have no idea what X and S are (presumably the full report will say more), so back-of-the-envelope sensitivity analysis
Given W(arming) = 26,523 and (C)ooling = 2,913 (9:1 ratio)
Given the amount of work it takes to get good 20-year series, I’d guess X bigger than smaller, but the conclusion is the same, varying only from a strong conclusion (17:9:1) to an overpowering one (2:9:1).
Consider: would you invest in a stock market where 63% of stocks were staying about the same, 33% wee going up, and 4% were going down? I would! And the odds only go up from there…
[[The basic mistake there is in holding up Watt as typical of conservative ideas; about as realistic as claiming Warsaw Pact industrial policy makers as representative of liberals. As I recall, he was in fact the sort of religious extremist who believed that the world would end sometime around Y2K, which of course would make conservation fairly pointless. ]]
I’ve heard that was a misquote and that he actually stated that he was for preserving the environment, although, of course, his policies didn’t match the statement.
Congratulations on a stimulating and educational site.
From what I’ve gathered on the (unscientific) fora I post to and in the media skeptical of AGW, it’s not that people distrust scientists, it’s that they distrust science. Politics and science have in common complexity and (seeming) ambiguity. People trust maths because it is (thought to be) about ‘proof’. People who are not well-versed in science defend their skepticism on AGW by conflating science with politics.
I debate some people who hold that climate science models are too inexact to be of use. The same people hold that climate scientists are avaricious and/or trapped in some kind of group think. I’ve asked them to produce models that support their theory, preferably more valid than the models used in climate science, but no one has taken me up on it yet.
John Mashey states: “Given the amount of work it takes to get good 20-year series, I’d guess X bigger than smaller, but the conclusion is the same, varying only from a strong conclusion (17:9:1) to an overpowering one (2:9:1).
Consider: would you invest in a stock market where 63% of stocks were staying about the same, 33% wee going up, and 4% were going down? I would! And the odds only go up from there… ”
I’m sorry John, this is science not “I’d guess…” or the stock market.
You have done the very same thing that the IPCC “scientists” did. You started with their data set, which specifically excluded data which showed no significant variation and was dismissed. For years now, we will have to endure “peer-reviewed” work which cites this “scientific study”. This isn’t science at all. You’re right, it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time to collect valid data and my hat is off to the scientists that are dedicated to achieving this goal. But for an agenda driven body to take their work, extract only the portions that support their preconceived conclusions and indeed magnify them, is disingenuous at best.
And Dan you state: “Then you do not understand how science research is conducted. One does not simply select data series from, for instance, 50 years ago that end in 1980. You want to investigate current warming, with data series that end during the period of greatest warming.”
Dan, you make my point (“with data series that end during the period of greatest warming”). Thank you.
Numb, precisely what evidence do you have that the world is not warming? We’ve got the evidence from land-based temperature stations, oceangoing temperature measurements, radiosondes in balloons, satellite observations, boreholes, lake and ocean sediments, the O16/O18 ratio in seashells, and tree rings, all of which agree with each other as to what the temperature history of the world has been. What’s your evidence that they’re all wrong?
My problem with the politics of Global Warming in general is that it is not scientifically based and by this I mean that the data presented as evidence is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, only the inconvenient truth. Studies that discard data because it does not support a theory is not science. I cannot argue with you that there is not some clear empirical evidence that points to warming (an article about ice climbers in Oregon comes to mind), but for “scientists” to selectively include data that only supports their hypothesis is disingenuous (we’re throwing CEOs in prison now that have done that type of thing – and rightly so).
[Response: I suggest you read the IPCC reports (linked to the right). In them you will not find 'proof by Oregon mountain climbers' but instead hundreds of scientific studies. - gavin]
RE #99 barry: I also engage in arguments on our local newspaper site, so I am sure that we run into the same positions. The way I like to argue (frame?) is that climate science is like any other science – there are observations, testable hypotheses and data. Since I am a scientist in another field (biology/medical research), I feel a bit perturbed by attacks on fellow researchers, regardless of field of study. All that any of us is trying to do is discover how the physical and biological worlds work.
If they distrust the science, I try to point out how we rely on the same processes to come to conclusions in other sciences. If they distrust the scientists (controversy = grant money), I try to point out that academic and industry scientists have these same “issues” as climatologists. And for good measure, there are denialists in any number of fields – personally, I like to point out those who cannot accept a viral cause for HIV.
I do like your tactic of pushing the burden of argument back onto them.
Re # 99 The same people hold that climate scientists are avaricious and/or trapped in some kind of group think.
Scientists avaricious? Hmm…. I wonder what they are greedy for? I can’t imagine scientists praying at night for global warming to be real – they stand to lose just as much as any other citizen. The usual response, the lure of big grants, is not a credible answer. If climatologists weren’t studying global warming, they would be studying something else – there is certainly no shortage of interesting questions to be investigated in climatology or any other field of science.
The group-think stereotype must be based on politics (seeing politicians on TV reciting their party’s talking points). But, as others have pointed out (if not on this thread, then on other RC threads), there is every incentive for scientists to be iconoclasts: They make their reputation, and money, by making new discoveries and generating new knowledge. Yes, one might avoid being overly bold in a grant proposal, and some grant money is targeted for certain areas of research, but once a scientist gets a grant he/she can (in most cases) study pretty much what ever they want. No doubt there are cases in which a group of scientists adopted a common position on a subject without carefully examining the evidence, with the result that they all believed something to be true turned out to be false. But, the beauty of science is that it is self-correcting – someone will sooner or later overturn flawed explanations and theories. And the more attention devoted to a subject (such as AGW), the faster flawed explanations and theories will be rooted out.
Your challenge to the skeptics to come up with a better model for climate predictions is a good one – maybe someone will take it up and prove mainstream climatology wrong on AGW. I think everyone, including the RC moderators, would welcome that. I’m not optimistic that it will happen, though.
re: 100. No, Nuts, I most certainly do not make your point. Do not be so disingenous. It just so happens that the *data* show the greatest warming has occurred recently. Thus the period of current warming happens to be the period of *greatest* warming. We are interested in what has caused the greatest warming. We now know that. Especially the literally thousands of climate scientists world-wide who have studied climate, conducted experiments, and published their studies in the peer-reviewed literature. Which you can read for yourself and learn from.
“7 A subset of about 29,000 data series was selected from about 80,000 data series from 577 studies. These met the following criteria: (1) Ending in 1990 or later; (2) spanning a period of at least 20 years; and (3) showing a significant change in either direction, as assessed in individual studies.”
In order to determine whether data sets show more evidence consistent with warming or not during recent decades, it is necessary to eliminate data sets which do not include the time period under consideration. Therefore eliminating data sets which do not go as far as 1990 is not just sound, it’s essential.
It’s also necessary to eliminate data sets which don’t span a period of at least 20 years; otherwise they really give no information about the existence or absence of a trend, and the direction of the trend if it is present. I’ve analyzed a lot of climatological time series, and even 20 years is rather sparse when looking for trends. It’s evidence of the strength of global warming trends, that so many data sets show statistically significant results with only 20 years of data.
Eliminating those data sets which show no significant trend in either direction does not invalidate statistical tests to determine whether or not one direction of trend predominates. What’s being tested is whether there is more evidence in one direction or in the other; for that test, the data sets which showed no significant change in either direction are irrelevant.
So it is patently false (and rather naive, statistically) to claim that the above procedure constitutes any kind of selection bias which could affect the outcome of the comparison.
The IPCC report states that of the 29,000 data series included, 89% showed trends consistent with warming while 11% showed the opposite. This means that approximately 26,000 of the series meeting the selection criteria indicate warming, only approximately 3,000 don’t. That’s not just solid statistical evidence, it’s very strong evidence.
However, the number of data sets which show no trend in either direction is useful information. Of the 51,000 data series which did not meet the selection criteria, if, say, 50,000 were removed because they didn’t cover the time period under consideration (didn’t go as far as 1990), that’s a very different situation than if, say, 50,000 showed no trend in either direction. Therefore I’d say that this part of the IPCC report, although entirely correct and free from the accusation of “cherry-picking,” nonetheless excludes useful information.
Benny Peiser: In a Winter Commencement Address at the University of Michigan two years ago you called yourself a heretic on global warming, the most notorious dogma of modern science. You have described global warming anxiety as grossly exaggerated and have openly voiced your doubts about the reliability of climate models. These models, you argue, “do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields, farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in.” There seems to be an almost complete endorsement of the world’s scientific organisations and elites of these models together with claims that they reliably epitomize reality and can consistently predict future climate change. How do you feel belonging to a tiny minority of scientists who dare to voice their doubts openly?
Freeman Dyson: I am always happy to be in the minority. Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable. They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behavior in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.
RE #103 “If they distrust the science, I try to point out how we rely on the same processes to come to conclusions in other sciences.”
I do the same, Deech. However, demonstrating this without a scientific background is beyond my abilities. I can say that gravity theory has uncertainties, but I don’t think the comparison is accepted because climate science seems more uncertain, and I don’t know enough to say differently. And, not understanding the science very well (the guts of it), I have to concede that I am playing the same game as my ‘opponents’. Even though my position seems reasonable in that it is aligned with consensus, I am merely citing from my ‘team’ without really knowing what I’m talking about. I’m using ‘talking points’, same as them. I’m about to fish for more in this post. Doesn’t feel too intellectually honest, not knowing how they’re derived in much detail, but my gutsd tell me to press on. (Joshing, somewhat)
It would be useful to have a link that shows or discusses modeling for other, well-known and more generally accepted theories to offer as a comparison. There are thousands of factors that influence climate (that’s a talking point I use), and these are studied. How does this compare with the number of factors in more (publicly) accepted scientific theories, and is there more or less uncertainty in the models? (Less certainty for climate science I’m guessing) Saying that climate science is a theory like any other doesn’t seem to have much impact on skeptics as a free-standing statement. How can that be demonstrated?
If someone suggests, say, that climatologists don’t study the biological/chemical make up of the ocean in terms of it changing over time, off I go to illconsidered or realclimate or google or IPCC 2001 (where I found an answer). As skeptics claim that this or that component is overlooked, is there a comprehensive ‘list’ somewhere? The table of contents for IPCC 2001 is a bit unwieldy for that purpose.
The tenor of the conversation here is much better than the public fora I visit (and they’re stand outs in the forasphere). It’s almost worth knuckling down for a few years to learn some science just to enjoy a more civil conversation (numb nuts notwithstanding)!
RE #108 barry: You raise some very good points that we all experience when we engage in debates with the doubters. For me, the main “talking point” revolves around the data. The beauty of this is that this is more than a mere talking point, it is a foundation of science. Data don’t lie. Trends that are apparent from independent sets of data are even better. When satellite records agree with ground records, people need to take notice. If the argument comes back that there is no such thing as a global temperature, then one can come back with the obvious: there’s a whole lot of meltin’ going on. Going hand-in-hand with the data is the role that data play in testing the hypotheses generated by the models. Hansen and others generated predictions back in the day and we have had 20 years of data since then. How good were their predictions?
You make a good point about the models and whether they are used elsewhere in science. I have a bit of tunnel vision – despite the hopes of many, animal and human systems are too complicated for computer modeling. But what all sciences have in common is that scientists generate testable hypotheses, and that the acceptance or rejection of these hypotheses is based on the data.
The “forasphere”. I like it. BTW, I have seen some of our regular comments posters arguing on other sites (mostly in ScienceBlogs), and it’s instructive to see how they do (very well, I might add) outside the friendly confines of RealClimate. With the publication of the new IPCC report, there is a great opportunity to get the message out. What tremendous resources RealClimate and Coby Beck’s site are for the rest of us.
One last point: not many deniers with whom I argue are open to a change in their viewpoint. What I do hope is that others who are on the fence will consider the science and that those who agree with the science will add their voices.
A couple of clarifications, Deech56, just to keep processes accurate. It’s true data don’t lie. But data don’t always “tell” the truth either. There is precise accurate data, precise but less than accurate data, ball park data from accurate sources, and ball park data from conjecture. Plus “accurate” and truth are not necessarily synonomous. And your fallback position that even ‘if the data don’t work, tell ‘em the cherry blossoms are coming out earlier,’ is rather specious.
What you say about deniers might be true if “deniers” is taken literally. But that puts them in the same camp of the protangonists who, as a rule (but not entirely), are absolutely dogmatic about their beliefs — not only intransigent and closed-minded, but want to stiffle any mention of opposing viewpoints and debase the person offering them. Us “skeptics”, however, try to listen and hear with an (mostly) open mind.
You’ll be aware that Tech Central Station is funded by a lobbying group, with strong right wing affiliations? Doesn’t mean it is always wrong, but on many questions, it does call into question their ‘objecctivity’.
Interesting article about Freeman Dyson. He seems to be saying we should be optimistic because of our ability to do amazing things, and life’s ability to adapt. But then he implies we should *do nothing* about global warming ‘because it’s not a real threat’. So it’s humanity’s ability to act which makes it special, but not in this case?
His specific point about the models puzzled me. He doesn’t seem to deny that human beings are causing the CO2 rise. He knows (I would presume) that James Hansen’s team predicted accurately the global cooling effect of the Mount Pinatubo explosion (thus validating the important work on aerosols). Yet he says the models tell us nothing about the likely future under a big CO2 increase?
Actually Chinese scientists have done some of the leading work on global warming (not always in their own countries, to be sure). So I’m not sure he’s right when he says the Chinese and Indians aren’t worried. Rather what their *politicians* have said is they have more urgent problems, and the burden of dealing with this must, in the first instance, fall on the nations who have emitted the bulk of the CO2 to date (ie the developed nations).
In addition, China has made energy efficiency a national priority in its latest 5 year Plan.
His diagnosis of the English class structure and how academia v. Thatcher played out is incorrect, so it certainly casts doubt on other socio-political observations he might make.
This is the kind of seemingly balanced view that is really misleading. Scientists who believe in the reality of AGW do so because they have (1) scientifically consistent analysis to explain it and (2) data from multiple lines of research to confirm the analysis.
I am sure any protagonist would change his or her mind if you could just demonstrate where the analysis or data are wrong. In science, that is through peer review. Where is the peer reviewed literature that would undo the understanding presented by the IPCC? Scientists who have their work challenged by other scientists through the media, rather than through normal channels, get a bit testy for good reason.
> 62, 64, 75, 75, Aaron, how’d your ‘task for the week’ preparing for the California water supplies meeting turn out? If you’re able to follow up or have done so somewhere, give a pointer to where? I know there are quite a few Ca.-centric blogs talking about water supply where details of your meeting would be interesting.
“Scientists who have their work challenged by other scientists through the media, rather than through normal channels, get a bit testy for good reason.”
I am new here, but a have read that scientists are used to having their work challenged and I can understand how a challenge coming from outside the scientific community may be annoying. The IPCC released their report to the world through the media, so are you suggesting that it should not be subject to any challenge from outside the scientific community or that the burden of disproof be delivered only from within the scientific community?
The burden of disproof should be delivered by people who understand the science and who are able to disprove it by testable, repeatable scientific findings and analyses, and who demonstrate that they are doing this with their peer reviewed publications. Not people offering opinions or rhetorical counter arguments simply because they can.. You don’t have to have an affiliation with a scientific institution to publish in peer reviewed media.
My point was really about scientists who challenge the work of other scientists through the media, rather than in conference or through the literature.
However, it seems to me that scientific conclusions that have reached the level of consensus can have the consensus undone only by other scientific work. I see no other basis for believing what is most likely to be true about a scientific question.
As to the IPCC report, it is certainly expected that challenges will come from outside the scientific community, since the public policy implications of the conclusions are enormous. However, ultimately, any challenge to the underlying science of the report must be based on science.
Earth Negotiations Bulletin – Eighth Session of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: 2-6 April 2007
….. A bold header, which stated with “very high confidence” that many natural systems, in all continents and some oceans, are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases, was discussed in plenary and in a contact group co-chaired by Belgium and Sudan.
China, supported by Saudi Arabia, proposed changing the statementâ��s confidence level from “very high confidence” to “high confidence.” France, Austria, Belgium, UK, US, Germany, Canada and others opposed changing the confidence level from what had been assessed by the Lead Authors. The UK, opposed by China, proposed using a likelihood statement noting that the impacts are “very likely.”
The Lead Authors restated their “very high confidence” on the statement. They explained the rationale that when independent lines of evidence, each having a similar outcome and each carrying “high confidence” by themselves, are evaluated collectively, they imply a much higher confidence due to their consistent conclusion.
The question was returned to plenary early on Friday morning. The Lead Authors elaborated on the scientific basis for the statement. Saying that scientists in his delegation disagreed, China, supported by Saudi Arabia, continued to oppose the “very high” confidence level. The Lead Authors requested that if the “very” were removed, a footnote be inserted noting that the authors do not agree with the statement and that the authors have “very high” confidence that natural systems are being affected by regional climate change. They added that having a government questioning widely-employed and sound methodologies and then putting into question the work of Lead Authors was unprecedented in the IPCC, and asked to record a formal protest.
When the matter was taken up again at the end of the meeting, the US suggested deleting the confidence level and leaving the rest of the statement. Japan, with the Lead Authors “strongly supporting,” called for inserting a footnote stating the Lead Authors’ views that the statement carried a very high confidence level. In the final text, the confidence level has been omitted and no footnote has been included. ”
RE: #110 Rod B. The example I cited is not specious – melting of ice caps and glaciers ( I donâ��t recall mentioning cherry blossoms, although that is a major part of life where I live) is actually a third set of data that reflects longer term (seasonal) effects. One argument Iâ��ve heard against the concept of “global temperature” is that the measurements do not have any physical meaning. The fact that ice loss correlates with the other measurements of global temperature strengthens, rather than weakens, the argument that the temperature records reflect what’s happening in nature and that they have physical meaning.
You say that you look at the information with an open mind; I have no way of showing that you do not, but the position I take is that higher consideration should be given to what is in the scientific literature, not think tank reports or editorials. We would expect that of any science.
What is anyone’s opinion of these works? I got this comment from a beta reader of my novel. Sounds like a denier.
Hubert H. Lamb. ‘Climate; Past, Present and Future (Methuen, London,Vol. 1 1972, Vol. 2 1977) and his later work; Climate, History, and the Modern World (Methuen, NY, NY, 1982).
“Idso et al, Rasool et al, Ciasis, Essenhigh, Indermuhle, et al, Newell et al. etc. These scientists have looked at the history of climate, atmospheric CO2, going back a long time, plus the issue of radiative saturation of the infrared in the atmosphere as affected by various greenhouse gases.”
“Quite frankly, the global climate gets affected by a lot of factors, in addition, the climate over the last million year has gone through a lot of changes very poorly correlated with anthropogenic atmospheric CO2. Most serious scientists confess they truly don’t know what drives the climate with any precision.”
[Response: Lamb could justifiably be called the father of modern climatology and his books are surprisingly impressive even after 30 years. Of course, many aspects of the science have moved on from what he had available to him. So, well worth a read, but if someone is quoting it as gospel, then it's probably suspect. Half the other references (Idso, Newall, Essenhigh) are worthless, Ciais and Indermulhe are standard works on past CO2 changes though. The last line is very odd. Over the last 800,000 years (and probably back to at least 2.5 million years), climate and CO2 are highly correlated. No one would claim that CO2 is the only factor in natural climate change, but it's certainly an important one, even if one cannot be absolutely 'precise'. Overall, there is little of substance in the statements. -gavin]
Thanks Gavin. My response was those were dated, and the red flags were waving all over by his matter-of-fact certainty about the doubt ala Crichton. His saying Scientific American had lost credibilty in the scientific world and had an agenda was the coup de grace. Denier. I pointed him here and to Weart.
Great speeches were made today at the Step It Up rally on Global warming at the MN State Capital including those by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Keith Ellison and others. It was very successful. Several thousand people looking to learn more and act on global warming.
This is like going to college for free. I think I have done more reading in the last four days than in my entire Grad program.
Every time I go to another link, though, it generates more questions than it answers. Ugh! You should charge for this! It’s the wave of the future you know. Seriously, though, I am appreciative that you are not like the *nix RTFM crowd ;-). You have been patient and gracious. If I get too annoying . . . you’ll let me know.
Re #119: I think you missed an obvious response to your correspondent’s claim that “the climate over the last million year has gone through a lot of changes very poorly correlated with anthropogenic atmospheric CO2″. The response being, of course, that there has only been significant anthropogenic CO2 in the last century or so, so of course the other 999,900 years show no correlation. Depending on how you define the term, you can argue that there weren’t even humans for much of the period!
[Response: You're right. I didn't see the 'anthropogenic' snuck in there, probably because the very idea that human-related causes could have been important over the last million years is ridiculous. As you say Homo Sapiens has only been around for a tenth of that time.... Thanks! - gavin]
Well weren’t the changes Earth-driven only? We weren’t there, but the point is we’ve documented a new change now, not seen before. If that’s what is meant by the quote then I’d call that a real red herring. This is the type of false comparison they use. The disturbing thing is he has a background in geochemistry, but that has been taken over by economics and engineering. I don’t know why they don’t get it. Or just won’t.
I’d suspect the author was trying to say ‘few changes associated with the level of CO2 we have nowadays’ — showing he doesn’t understand the importance of the rate of change, nor the chicken-and-egg cause/effect.
Charitably, that’d make more sense than thinking the author really was confused enough to believe in pre-human anthropoids who caused anthropogenic changes in prehistoric CO2 levels. He’d have mentioned Atlantis and Lemuria if he thought they were responsible, eh?
I must admit to being very conflicted…I have closely followed the IPCC publications and the recent journalistic confirmation of “consensus” re: climate change and man/CO2 causality. At the same time scientists like Lindzen, Patterson and Legates (to name only a few) continue to put forward equally compelling science to the contary. Patterson shows charts that indicate no causal correlation between CO2 and temperature – both in the longterm past (1-15 million years) and in the recent (last 100 years)…so…I remain conflicted. Can you explain what’s wrong with their “science” and how you can claim CO2/temperature correlation when the temperature map of the last 100 years shows temps rising from 1900-1940 but dropping significantly from 1940-1970 and then rising again while CO2 is a smooth curve ever rising? Thanks.
[Response: The basic issue is that the 'counter-science' you are seeing is based on attacking a strawman facsimile of what the real science shows. The consensus is not that CO2 is the only thing that is important for climate, nor that we think CO2 is a problem because of some correlation with temperature changes. Instead, the concern is based on taking everything into account (including solar, volcanoes, aerosols, ozone depletion, land use change etc. etc.) and seeing how each impacts a whole range of metrics (not just the global mean temperature) which are then compared to observations. The fact that there is a good fit on dozens of levels - though only if the physics of greenhouse gases are included - is a testament that the physics is basically correct. With respect to the twentieth century, it is only in the last few decades that CO2 (and the other greenhouse gases) has become the dominant forcing - prior to that, you are seeing a combination of many different effects that are sometimes all going in the same direction, and other times not. In the early part, greenhouse gases were rising, but so was solar, there was a lack of volcanic eruptions and so you get warming. From 1940 on, greenhouse gases were still rising, but so were industrial aerosols (a cooling effect), solar was static and volcanoes were more common.
The only way to sort out these different effects is to quantify them in models and see how it all works out (and what the uncertainties are). It's because we've managed to reduce the uncertainties, in particular for the last few decades, that we've been able to attribute the current rise to CO2 etc. Not only do current theories match what we see, there is no other coherent theory that does anything like as well. - gavin]
I’m responding to your remark, Gavin, “Communication efforts are much more likely to succeed if they target the people who communicate for a living, rather than the general public directly.” Do you mean that it’s more effective to talk to the press rather than, say, address a Step Up rally? Or have I totally misunderstood?
And as far as the three videos in which you appeared, I agree that it’s hard to explain even simple subjects in that length of time. If it’s more effective to get the word out via the media, I’m thinking the newspapers might be a better vehicle? Especially because the information doesn’t zip by as quickly.
[Response: The point of communicating is to hopefully tell people something they don't already know, so the media tends to be more effective at catching people who wouldn't look it up for themselves. Addressing rallies might be fun (not that anyone's asked me though), but I'll guess that you mostly preaching to the already informed. - gavin]
Thanks very much for the explanation re: the “counter science”. That helps explain some of the conflict. If I understood you correctly CO2 has only recently become the main forcing factor in the complicated global climate/temperature equation…does that also imply that the other factors – solar activity, volcanoes, water vapor, reforestation (I hope), ozone depletion/recovery – could modify the models going forward? In your judgement does it make sense to focus almost solely on CO2 emissions and limit what man contributes going forward?..is it possible that if we do that, even successfully, global temperatures will continue to rise (presumably, at some point)? What is the right and measured response in your judgement?
[Response: The other effects are certainly important and clearly provide opportunities for reducing the net human impact on the climate (i.e. reducing black carbon 'soot', preventing tropical deforestation would both be helpful). Future solar changes and volcanic activity will modify the answers a little, but are unlikely to dominate the response. See the first figure here for an idea of the relative size of the forcings. The reason why there is a focus on CO2 going forward is that i) it is currently the fastest growing forcing (CH4 thankfully is reasonably static, further reductions are therefore both possible and would be very beneficial), ii) CO2 perturbations have a very long lifetime - roughly 15% of CO2 emitted now will still be affecting climate 500 years on, and iii) there are no quick fixes, and so prevention of really large CO2 increases relies on forward action for decades before improvements will be seen. That is the problem and the challenge. -gavin]
The proponents of “framing” have some interesting points to make, but this is the third time in recent years they’ve come around making these claims. The first was George Lakoff with “Don’t Think of an Elephant” in 2004. Then came Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shallenberger with “Death of Environmentalism.” The playbook for these guys was:
* Make a big stir by accusing some portion of the “the establishment” of screwing up their communications
* Promise to solve the problem, if only some funders will cough up big bucks for research. Use copious buzzwords to describe the research you intend to conduct.
* Disappear without making any actual specific recommendations for what the target of their critique could do better.
Chris Mooney and Matthew Nisbet have followed the first two steps of this playbook to the letter. Let’s hope they break the pattern and actually put forward some useful suggestions on how the scientific community can do a better job.
If not, start the clock ticking on their 15 minutes.
“We (he and Gavin) disagree on the interpretation of the data, as is my right as a competent geochemist. The Vostok data are fairly clear and unambiguous in that when periods of low temperature ended, and temperatures rose (as determined by D/H ratios), the concentrations of CO2 lagged behind. That is, CO2 followed the rise in temperature. Typically, if an event follows another action, that event is not considered to be causality. Basic science. The arguments put forth of ‘feedback’ raise not only my eyebrows (which are quite bushy), but also those of other scientists. Therefore, natural events drove the global warming that ended at least five periods of glaciation.”
“Now, consider this. I don’t increase my grant by waving my hands around and crying ‘wolf.’ The reality is I don’t have a grant, nor do I seek one, nor do I want one. I have no vested interest in this argument. Now, I’m not saying that is Dr. Schmidt’s motivation – far from it. Yet, most of the time, I stay away from this type of discussion because it quickly becomes vicious and ad hominem – especially when funding is involved.”
He was definitely not the proper critiquer of my novel which, is peopled with those just like him. Heh, can’t say there isn’t conflict though if you can get into a fight about the science. Conflict drives stories and in the end there is a winner. He wasn’t aware of the nature of my work.
This was the second response.
“Facts are hard things, and any scientist knows that facts beat models every time. Dr. Schmidt is a modeler, and as such, uses data to create scenarios. Currently, there are theories as to why the CO2 levels rise after the climate warmed following the last few ice ages. There are theories that there is some form of feedback, however, any good geochemist knows that that biologic processes are well-correlated with temperatures. Rice paddies give off more CO2 when warm than cold, the same is true with swamps. Cold seawater holds more CO2 than warm water. This is by far the most reasonable explanation.
Any good physicist knows that there is a limit to transmitivity of IR through gases, beyond a given concentration, saturation takes place. This happens with CO2 in the atmosphere. Lastly, water vapor is a far stronger IR absorber than CO2 (responsible for over 90% of heat trapping), and is the main reason that this planet is not an iceball. Primordial Earth had a reducing atmosphere, and methane acted as the greenhouse gas.”
See anything unfamiliar? I sure don’t. Sceptic 101.
Guess what I found: Not one free-market economists. Not one. The myth that privatization and free markets will raise all boats runs exactly counter to what is required to deal with global warming and all its associated ills: pollution, potable water, rising seas, weather, depletion of natural resources, species extinction, etc.
There is a strategy you can use to counter such people, but it requires that you understand their underlying philosophy–and address it directly.
There are a couple of other tenets to the free-market credo: One is a belief that technology can do anything; the second is that continued economic growth is essential, otherwise the world will collapse.
One site that I mention in my piece is Mises.Org. After pooh-poohing environmentalists…and global warming, the writer says that even if there is a problem, the solution is found in technology. Simply set off a few nukes at strategic locations. Yes…a nuclear winter.
Even Norhaus’ response to the Stern report is predicated on the belief that global warming is just too iffy to justify its cost. Nordhaus believes in globalization and growth. People who unreservedly believe in globalization as it is now fashioned believe in free markets. At best, they are luke-warm to the science of climate change. It challenges too many of their closely held beliefs.
In short, I suggest you start thinking seriously about the nature of your opponents. There are openings for the scientific community to employ, but it must start considering a real strategy based on the philosophical beliefs of its opponents.
Know your opponent. I have spent a great deal of time in economic blogs. Now I have been invited to write for one. AngryBear blog site is taking a risk with me.
Global warming is one of my issues as well as globalization as presently structured. The two are intimately wedded.
Re #130 response by Gavin “The point of communicating is to hopefully tell people something they don’t already know, so the media tends to be more effective at catching people who wouldn’t look it up for themselves. Addressing rallies might be fun (not that anyone’s asked me though), but I’ll guess that you mostly preaching to the already informed.”
I’ve learned a fair amount over the years listening to speeches at political rallies – even when you know the basics, an informed speaker can give you details you didn’t know, or illuminate the issue from a new angle. However, the main point of political rallies, and other forms of campaigning (as opposed to longer-term educational work), is to motivate people who already agree with you to do a bit more than they are doing now – change their personal behaviour, sign a petition, write to a newspaper or elected representative, make the specific issue a priority in the way they vote, talk to those they know about it, get involved in direct action. Ask anyone who’s helped run an election campaign – the main strategies are always to increase the salience of particular issues and to get the vote out, not to convert die-hard opponents or even waverers. For the latter, education, and/or perceived “frame shifts” in the views of those they mix with and/or respect, can work. For the former, drastic changes of view do occur, but are not common – putting effort into bringing them about is probably an inefficient use of scarce resources!
Mark, you may have a winning climate skeptic bingo card there.
Don’t know if showing it to your publisher would help, but the reviewer certainly was pulling the comments right out of their “discredited, assert louder and more often” collection.
The “IR bands are saturated” thing is popping up everywhere again lately.
Yeah Hank he hit the trifecta and bailed on the discussion. It’s a pity really, because my novel displays all the ideas and answers here in a fictional story structure. Of course it mirrors reality in way Crichton did not. Naturally, I don’t yet have an agent or publisher for it. This does show you never know who you may meet in a writing contest. We both lost, but I don’t know what he wrote.
In response to the main entry, I agree with Gavin; a 5 minute TV interview is not the right tool to change the “frame”. However, there may be instances when 5 minute interviews make a difference and may even cause those “frames” to change, but this is not always a good thing.
I would argue that those instances in which someone’s standpoint on global warming has been completely upset after viewing a 5 minute interview could be more dangerous than not changing that persons’ “frame” at all. What sorts of arguments could someone present to defend carbon emission reductions if his/her only source of information consists of a 5 minute clip on ET, between the latest news on Tinkerbell and the week’s celebrity scandals?
Sadly, media works to sell only that which the public will buy. If a thorough review of climate change should require more than 5 air minutes, but the public won’t buy it, well, then you will just not see such a report on TV; maybe only on public television. This misinformation culture is dangerous because people’s perceptions maybe changing while they remain uninformed, unable to make a critical assessment of the controversy.
Ultimately the burden of responsibility falls on the audience. It is unacceptable for media to continue providing mediocre and misleading information. However, in the end it is a personal choice: to seek more sources of information beyond what the TV set will offer or remain uninformed. It is a matter of critical judgment and analysis which should be done on a personal basis. Unfortunately, many find it more convenient to leave reflection, criticism and other considerations in the hands of publicists.
Comment by Ingrid Tobar, Dept. Geosciences UMKC — 16 Apr 2007 @ 9:25 PM
#11 – I think you make an pertinent point regarding our attachment to fossil fuels. I live in Wimbledon, and I was astounded to see that a new restuarant called Coal has been opened.
I work in branding, and one way of understanding brands is to view them in terms of relationships. Let’s consider coal as a brand. The industrial revolution was powered by coal. As a society, we have a 200 year relationship with coal, and we may well pleasant personal memories of coal (warming-up in a cold night; times with our grand-parents; pubs in the country etc.).
Psychologists Greenspan and Shanker (see reference below) tell us that each of us builds a vast library of images and emotions in the prefrontal cortex of our brain. For each image to be meaningful, it must be invested with emotion . They also say that it is our emotions which organises our intelligence. Any particular experience can be attached with a different emotion for different people â?? they give the example that a loud voice may be considered inviting or jarring.
People develop relationships with brands over time based on their experiences with it. Intuitively we know that strong relationships with brands are not likely to disappear overnight; though they may suffer from crises, interruptions from outside forces or be otherwise impaired. It follows that rational arguments alone may not be enough to change people’s opinions about the deadly threat that coal now poses for us all.
(Reference – The First Idea: How Symbols, Language and Intelligence evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans, (2004), p.25 Stanley I. Greenspan & Stuart G. Shanker)
Re 135. Free markets do not exist, because to be free means to have no constraints. In reality, markets are constrained systems, with sources of constraint arising through various channels. Perhaps one way to see the role of markets, and the players (eg business and industry) in those markets, with respect to climate change is to work through the nature and dynamics of various constraints in moving to future scenarios, which can be modelled.
Simulations (based on far-from-equilibrium models) of corporate carbon downsizing and business competitions in markets reveal that businesses can use climate change as a cornerstone of potent new forms of competitive strategy. The transition to low-carbon economies can be used to remove significant cost structures from business (through energy conservation, waste minimisation, etc) and application of business and market ecointelligence can be used to outperform competitors, and even drive them out of business as competitive carbon downsizing becomes dominant across marketspaces, both national and international.
Thus, for example, a shrewd government will put in place frameworks (ie constraints) for carbon reduction, so that business and industry can work within the framework to deliver amazing levels of eco-competitiveness and eco-innovation while delivering step-change carbon downsizing.
Conversely, a government that is not concerned about the vibrancy of the businesses and industries operating within its economy and their competitiveness in world markets might take an approach based on doing as little as possible about climate change and luring them into a false sense of well-being in which status quo inefficiency, waste, unnecessary costs and emissions bloat will be fine forever. It won’t.
What is happening across markets now is giving rise to a redefinition of what a business needs to be and do. Corporations, at least the smart ones, recognise how the landscape has already changed and how further changes are building across markets, including capital, insurance and reinsurance markets. They are lining up on a cusp, ready to transition and transform into the primitive stages of a low-carbon economy. The ones that don’t transition and transform may find their niches have gone.
The way forward is to establish quickly an intelligent combination that can be used to guide business and industry into modes of behaviour that deliver the significant reductions of GHG emissions that are so necessary. That guidance, which may be in the form of mandated year-on-year absolute reductions of emissions assessed against performance targets, will provide level playing fields. The alternative, ignoring climate change and carrying on business-as-usual, will merely provide levelled playing fields.
[[Free markets do not exist, because to be free means to have no constraints. ]]
In theory a free market requires an infinite number of infinitely small producers and consumers. But in practice, effectively free markets exist all over the place. The fact that they aren’t perfect free markets doesn’t mean supply and demand analysis is useless, any more than the nonzero volume of real gas molecules means the ideal gas equation is useless.
Re 142. Decomposition of constraint profiles across market types does not yield zero-constraint systems. In reality all markets have some form or forms of constraints; it is just that some are more or differently constrained than others.
It is because humans in their endeavours have chosen largely to ignore constraints of limitations on the earth’s resources and threshold constraints on natural (eg climate) dynamics, that we have the problem of climate change.
Constraints is not a concept that fits in well with carbon-intensive economics. It is, however, a concept that needs to be at the heart of any carbon-reducing or carbon-constrained economics that might emerge.
“It is because humans in their endeavours have chosen largely to ignore constraints of limitations on the earth’s resources and threshold constraints on natural (eg climate) dynamics, that we have the problem of climate change.”
I would beg to differ, at least in terms of “cause” in relation to a “failure to respond”. It really isn’t about an inability to observe contraints. That’s likely just a symptom.
I think a more obvious argument would be to attribute the problem to behavior patterns that are essentially evolutionary in origin.
IMHO (and that’s all it is, informed though it may be), as a species, the bigger “obstacle” is that we react to crisis; we rarely plan for it. And if things are comfortable, or solutions to perceived problems are troublesome, we are content to wait until the problem is so large it cannot be ignored before we make an effort to react to it.
In terms of GW, this is potentially a real killer, as the effects that are in set in motion today, when things still do not seem so bad in terms of climate-effects, won’t have a full impact for 20-30 years.
“Well, it is obvious that youâ??re not a scientist, and actually know very little about the world of science. You obviously do not know the significance of a scientist being invited to the Gordon Research Conferences. As for me being out of date, I doubt that.
So, in conclusion, I now realize that you spout the cant of a true believer without truly understanding the science.”
“…it is a matter of education – not of the general public though (as welcome as that would be) – but of the gatekeepers: the journalists, editors and producers.”
So, your view is that we are dependent on this group of intellectually bankrupt, front running, corrupt, and congenitally dishonest brokers to understand the experiments, results, and limitations therein, to assimilate that information, and then to pass it on to the general public in an unbiased, accurate, and understandable manner? I surely hope you jest, or are mistaken at the least. If your assessment is correct, we are truly doomed, at least for the current “enlightenment”…
[Response: We are not absolutely dependent - since people can always find out for themselves should they choose. However, to state that the media are irrelevant would be naive. - gavin]
Foot soldiers take up the fight to revitalize the planet
Patricia Yollin, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, April 22, 2007
“Some questions are hard to anticipate. Valva recalled one: ‘Is there any evidence that other planets are heating up? This would support some people’s theory that the sun is actually getting hotter.’
“At Demee-Benoit’s talk to science teachers at Chabot, three people persisted in challenging what she was saying. ‘I think temperature goes up, and then carbon dioxide goes up,’ one said. “The science doesn’t really add up,’ said another. ‘Global warming is cyclical,’ insisted the third.
“It turned out they were infiltrators — youth organizers from the Lyndon LaRouche movement. The followers of the controversial political activist, a perennial presidential candidate, have been showing up at presentations around the country.”
Hank, the whole issue of warming on other celestial bodies is a red herring. The energetics of the climates on these bodies bear zero resemblance to Earth. Jupiter, for instance, receives only 4% of the solar radiation Earth does–hardly enough to drive the storms we see in its atmosphere. Most of its energy is generated internally. The Jovian moons are either stone-cold dead or receive their energy from tidal interactions with their giant neighbor. Saturn’s system is similar. We have a climate model of Mars that explains the warming there quite convincingly in terms of decreased planetary albedo and dust-storm activity.
Anyone who brings this up is either ignorant or disingenuous–Lindzen could only cop to the latter charge.
Ray, I know the numbers on solar and the info on claims of warming elsewhere in the solar system. Read the article; the bit I quoted I thought interesting because I found it surprising that anyone trained in Mr. Gore’s program could be surprised by someone raising the “other planets warming” question. (And the rest interesting because it actually identified the organized group infiltrating the meeting to heckle the speaker with the old bogus noise — these people are serious about attacking the science, they have been for a long time in many ways.)
Then I saw this later yesterday. Again, I’ve read the abstract, I’m pointing it out here because it’s of interest that the subject keeps coming up in different ways. You don’t need to tell me it’s a trivial forcing, I’m pointing to it because it’s the kind of thing to be aware of in interviews —- even trivial forcings are going to take continued investigation to understand them, even after the climate scientists know they’re trivial as far as current rapid warming is concerned.
Hammel, H. B.; Lockwood, G. W.
Suggestive correlations between the brightness of Neptune, solar variability, and Earth’s temperature
Geophys. Res. Lett., Vol. 34, No. 8, L08203
19 April 2007
Hank, I love the abstract of the GRL paper on Neptune–
to paraphrase: “Just because there’s no statistically significant correlation and we have no mechansim how this would occur doesn’t mean we’re wrong.” Pretty pathetic what can sometimes pass peer review.
[[Hank, I love the abstract of the GRL paper on Neptune--
to paraphrase: "Just because there's no statistically significant correlation and we have no mechansim how this would occur doesn't mean we're wrong." Pretty pathetic what can sometimes pass peer review. ]]
It’s possible it was published as a joke. Peer-reviewed journals will sometimes publish joke articles if they make some kind of useful point. For example, there was a series of articles in economic journals in the 1970s and 1980s about vampire economics — vampires and stakes being competing goods, optimum resource harvesting of human victims and the problem of resource depletion, etc.
You can’t simply equate climate change denialism with Creationism/ID. CCD doesn’t have one unifying belief it has to cling to, it can morph to suit the various interests and prejudices of those involved doing it. The tactics are indeed similar, but you can’t make progress against a blob, the way you can “dent” Creationism. It’d be a mistake, IMO, to start some sort of defense of science thing aimed specifically at climate change denialism.
For one thing, plenty of genuine scientists in appropriate fields are low-balling anthropogenic global warming. The Thomas Kuhn picture doesn’t look good for them, but they’re not charlatans like virtually all the creationist/ID people are or become. They’re just disagreeing. Creating a committee would feed into the fake image already being put out of a scientific orthodoxy purging dissidents for political reasons.
For another thing, since denialism is agenda-driven, not belief-driven, the most you could hope for is a media emphasis shift from denial into Lomborg/Linzen territory.
Yes, there should be science and lay committees to defend science, but not against dissident science, but against people infecting the process.
Bear in mind that some of these people got their world view partly, by second or third hand, from Ayn Rand. She stated that scientists couldn’t make progress in teams and groups – only individual great minds and their lackeys. She also stated that any scientist who accepted direct, as opposed to contractor, government money had corrupted his science and would cease immediately to achieve valid results.
I think the campaign should be to make clear to the gatekeepers the distinction between kinds of distortions that happen – promotion, grants, publicity, etc. as well as obvious things like being paid for post hoc justification research. I would take on secrecy agreements as anti-scientific, even if they may be occasionally necessary evils, and scrutinize private/university joint ventures more closely. That’s much closer to a base attack than going after a specific set of numbers.