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Unforced variations 3

Filed under: — group @ 19 March 2010

Another open thread. OT comments from the Amazon drying thread have been moved over. As usual, substantive comments only please and no abuse.


844 Responses to “Unforced variations 3”

  1. 51
    Gilles says:

    Patrick #233 : sorry, I can’t find a single clear point in your long speech, to which I could answer. Except that you aren’t Patrick C. Maybe if someone else here can explain me in one or two sentences what you’re really trying to explain.

    Edward #238 : “BUT NOW THAT NON-FOSSIL FUEL ENERGY SOURCES HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED, WE CAN DROP THE FOSSIL FUELS.”

    Maybe you should tell it Chinese and Indian people ? I’m sure they would appreciate if you show them how to do it.
    Maybe also you’re not aware that “non-fossil fuel energies” were discovered well before FF, but never succeeded in insuring an average GDP of between 500 and 1000 $/yr/cap, very close to what is currently considered as the absolute poverty threshold.

    Ray :1)In particle physics we have The Standard Model.
    hemm.. since when haven’t you read a paper or attended a lecture on particle physics?
    I agree that consensus emerges at the end, allowing new researches to be done. I say consensus cannot be decided by a panel. It is a reality “in march”. It’s absurd to say “you can’t criticize that since it has made consensus among scientists”. If there is a consensus, there must be very clear answers that explain why, and if there are still criticisms, there isn’t consensus yet. I watched Lindzen’s video on TVO, for me this guy is a reasonable scientist. He may be wrong. He may also be true. Anyway you can’t contradict him by claiming that there is a consensus. He’s a living proof that there isn’t yet.

    BPL: Gilles, have you ever looked at a correlation curve between any indicator of development you wish, and rapes? Number of jails? Deaths due to pollution emergencies

    No. Where are they to be seen?

  2. 52
    Gilles says:

    “BPL: It’s HIGHLY relevant for a civilization with well-developed industries manufacturing, setting up, and using photovoltaic power cells, concentrating solar power plants, and wind turbines. A small group of humans living in the middle of nowhere from agriculture is what we’ll wind up with if too many people listen to you.”

    No it isn’t, because this will be regulated by their price, meaning the amount of people you have to pay to built, maintain, and replace them. Which is obviously independent of amount of solar photons hitting the earth.

    Besides : I gave my personal homepage showing that I’m an academic working in astrophysics, not an employee of an oil company. Where did you find this strange idea ? (and oil companies don’t want to hear anything about Peak oil..). And for CFU : I already knew that Diesel’s engine was designed to work with vegetable oils (and of course it can). This doesn’t prove that vegetable oil would have been enough to power our society. Again I didn’t say everything will disappear. I said that the growth was to end soon, and that all scenarios of IPCC were unrealistic, because they were all (without exception) based on hypothesis of continuous growth throughout the XXI century. So all dire predictions of “what could happen if…” will just remain what they are : “What if…” scenarios – especially the most fossil intensive ones which are out of any likelihood.

  3. 53
    Gilles says:

    ” Rapid cuts in fossil fuel use only affect the functioning of modern human societies, they leave nature undisturbed. Rapid warming, beyond the temperature range known to human civilization, threatens vast and hard-to-predict changes in the natural world, disrupting the provision of resources and ecosystem services on which civilization ultimately depends.”
    Come on, look around you. What is left from the ancient nature? Civilization has always “disturbed” nature, even well before FF. Actually nature has always “disturbed” itself, the composition of atmosphere has been dramatically changed by small blue algae, well before mankind, and at a level much beyond a variation of a few hundreds of ppm of CO2. Your picture of untouched nature is only mythologic.

    There is a strong contradiction in the whole discourse about GW. People pretend wanting to save the nature, but they are actually only interested in saving their way of life. For if it were only the nature on stake, well, we could very easily all go back to the fields or even to the forests, and that’s it. If it were only the nature, we wouldn’t have any concern about the end of FF and the fact that industrial civilization could collapse : nature doesn’t worry about collapse of the civilization. You’re not really concerned by nature, you’re only concerned with the future of your children and grand-children. You’re interested in the amazon forest only up to the point it can concern mankind. I precise that it is perfectly understandable and not a criticism at all (after all we have been naturally selected on our ability to survive and we don’t want – globally – to disappear. ) But be honest : would you accept to destroy all the cities where we are living and reintroduce bears and wolves to protect “the nature”?

  4. 54
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Andreas
    > There is a difference between explicit lying and not saying the full truth

    What’s that called in science?

    It’s called the “sin of omission” by Catholic theology, and maybe others.
    It’s called lying under oath by the judicial system.
    It’s called advocacy by “advocacy science” practitioners, lawyers, and liars.

    What do you call it?

  5. 55

    #267 Gilles

    I said that the growth was to end soon, and that all scenarios of IPCC were unrealistic, because they were all (without exception) based on hypothesis of continuous growth throughout the XXI century. So all dire predictions of “what could happen if…” will just remain what they are : “What if…” scenarios – especially the most fossil intensive ones which are out of any likelihood.

    Ever heard of coal sands?
    Ever heard of climate feedback’s?

    And of course, peak oil is not the end of burning oil, just the beginning of the more rapid rise in cost.


    The Climate Lobby
    Understand the Issue
    http://www.climatelobby.com/fee-and-dividend/
    Sign the Petition!
    http://www.climatelobby.com

  6. 56
    Walter Manny says:

    [Response: Read the whole comment thread, we went through all this before. - gavin]

    Gavin, where do you infer that? My not agreeing with your assessment of the IPCC re. advocacy does not merit a dismissive statement that I must not have read the thread. “The whole comment thread”, at least as it pertains to IPCC advocacy, in particular your exchanges with Andreas, is what I was interested in and responding to. If you don’t want to respond in turn, fine, why should you, you’re the moderator, but why muddy the waters with a needless potshot? With respect, we have all gone through everything before on this and countless other items and will continue to do so — climate change is a fraught topic which aspects bear repeating and arguments about it bear refining.

    [Response: Where do I infer what? I merely directed you to where the answers are. Forgive me if I don't have time to expound at essay length to every question you pose. - gavin]

  7. 57
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gilles,
    1)My PhD is in experimental particle physics.
    2)Scientific consensus has nothing to do with panels or polls. It is measured by what techniques, ideas and theories are used or implied in work being published and cited. And actually, I would say that Lindzen is proof of the consensus–if someone as smart as Lindzen can be sidelined by refusal to adopt the consensus model, that model must contain important insights that are indispenible. Lindzen has published nothing of note in over a decade. As to whether he is a scientist–well, he left that category when he started making specious arguments designed to delude lay audienced (e.g. warming on Mars, Jupiter…).

    Gilles, would you say that there was consensus on the correctness of quantum mechanics as the appropriate description of the micro-world in the 1940s and ’50s?
    And yet Einstein never accepted it.
    How about the Big Bang as the appropriate model for cosmology? Then what about Fred Hoyle?

    Likewise, there are particle physicists who reject the standard model. They just don’t publish much, mainly because they have no understanding to add.

  8. 58
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    266 Sou and Gavin,
    I agree, sorry for derailing, although I don´t think it is fair that I should take all (or most) of the blame. There are perhaps 10 people here that derail discussion and also a couple of people that behave badly (attacking people, being ignorant, don´t argue for their standpoints, or just having a very bad attitude and interpersonal morality). Im rather guilty of hijacking but others are much more guilty of behaving badly…. and I do think there is a strong bias here: “True believers” are much less likely to be critiqued by the moderators and contributors.

  9. 59
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Hank Roberts says:
    18 March 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Aside: CFU, you’re being used by the trolls.”

    Duh.

    But I don’t really get involved. Andreas is almost completely ignored and Gilles is only read for the first few lines to see if he’s got anything new. This is not happening often.

  10. 60
    Gilles says:

    Ray “Gilles, would you say that there was consensus on the correctness of quantum mechanics as the appropriate description of the micro-world in the 1940s and ’50s?
    And yet Einstein never accepted it.”

    Ray, what Einstein refused to accept has never been really settled, and there is certainly no consensus about the interpretation of quantum reality, even if this is not a particularly good place to debate about that. The scientists admit that the QM is perfectly well suited to reproduce reality only because there hasn’t been the slightest experimental facts disproving it, with all the possible accuracy (meaning in the most extreme case up to the 11th decimal if I remember correctly). But it is still continuously tested, as is general relativity or even Lorentz invariance. And remember than very tiny effects on the speed of light have been enough to discredit the whole classical mechanics…

    I wouldn’t certainly say the same for climate science.

    The originality here is that mankind is asked to change significantly, and globally, its life, based on uncertainties. I am not aware of any scientific field where this happened in the past. As you understood, I really think that mankind will have to change its life anyway. I just question if it has really to do it faster than what the natural constraints will impose us – given that I think that the natural rate already risks to be hardly bearable. Actually I question both the interest and the realism of such a claim.

  11. 61
    SecularAnimist says:

    It is good to have an open thread specifically for “OT” comments.

    It appears that there might also be a need for an open thread specifically for self-indulgent incoherent doubletalk, pompous pronouncements based on willful ignorance, and baseless flame-baiting slanders against climate scientists that appear to have no purpose except for the author to impress himself with his ability to waste other people’s time.

  12. 62
    Alexandre says:

    Good. There was something I wanted to ask, that was not related to any recent thread:

    Why is it that on professor Mann’s recent reconstruction, the thick red line (instrumental record) shows a 0.8+ ºC temperature increase relative to the mid-20th-century warming pause?

    Shouldn’t it be something around 0.5~0.6ºC?

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/36/13252.figures-only?sid=cce5950f-28c1-4098-9e25-59511b907308

    And thanks again for the great outreach work.

    [Response: Northern Hemisphere, not global. - gavin]

  13. 63
    Gilles says:

    “If they truly were skeptics who wanted to learn, they would pay attention to the wealth of information offered on this site, and the patience of those who reply to their comments with detailed documented replies.”
    My opinion is that climate science is still in a state of active research. So I deeply respect all those (including the excellent guys maintaining this site ) who work hard in this field. I’m not still convinced that the state of certainty is high enough to justify that we should be sure that we are heading towards a catastrophe -or more exactly that the main catastrophe will be climatic.

    Does our species deserve to survive? Considering that we are but one of millions of species that may face extinction due to our actions, it is a good question to ponder.”
    well, if your answer is no, then why bother about AGW ..

  14. 64
    Sou says:

    In the spirit of the open thread, has anyone noticed Melbourne, Australia, has broken yet another climate record. Last November (2009), the extended heatwave meant that the average temperature for the month was 5.3C above the 1961-1990 average (that’s 9.5F for those still on the old scale). The average minimum was 3.9C above the 1961-1990 average minimum. That’s for a whole month. Pretty incredible.

    Now Melbourne has just had 100 straight days of temperatures higher than 20C, and it’s not over yet. Now anyone who knows Melbourne knows how unusual that is, you don’t need to go to the records. But if you do go to the records, the closest it’s come in the recorded past is 78 days in 2000-01. By the way, the recorded past goes back to 1855.

    The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology issued a joint report on the State of the Climate the other day, as reported by the ABC Australia.

    Two of the nation’s top research bodies – the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO – have come out strongly in defence of the science behind global warming. The leading research bodies say the evidence is irrefutable: climate change is real and the link with human activity is beyond doubt. Universities have also joined the fray, saying it is time to stand up for Australian science and research.

  15. 65
    Aaron Lewis says:

    There are a couple of new lines on the surface of southern Greenland (http://ice-map.appspot.com/ , 16 March 2010 , Arctic, 65.505 N, 29.686 W )

    Anybody know what they are?

  16. 66
    Edward Greisch says:

    43 Gilles: Nuclear power was discovered before fossil fuel?

  17. 67
    Gilles says:

    “Ever heard of coal sands?”

    eheeem. No. Do you mean TAR sands?

    “Ever heard of climate feedback’s?”

    yes. And?

    “And of course, peak oil is not the end of burning oil, just the beginning of the more rapid rise in cost.”
    Technically, it is the moment of largest production rate, and the beginning of its decrease. Cost can fluctuate very largely following demand, and can easily drop after an economic crash, as the past years have shown.

  18. 68
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gilles says: “Ray, what Einstein refused to accept has never been really settled, and there is certainly no consensus about the interpretation of quantum reality, even if this is not a particularly good place to debate about that.”

    Actually, what Einstein refused to accept–the nondeterministic and (even more important) nonlocal nature of quantum mechanics–has now been shown to be reality beyond any practical doubt. Einstein’s famous paradox is now the basis for much of quantum computing.

    Gilles: “And remember than very tiny effects on the speed of light have been enough to discredit the whole classical mechanics.”

    Bullshit! When you are passinga car in traffic, do you take into account the foreshortening of your vehicle? Classical mechanics remains an excellent account of our surroundings 99.99% of the time. It also remains the basis for our interpretation of the remaining 0.01%.

    Gilles: “The originality here is that mankind is asked to change significantly, and globally, its life, based on uncertainties.”

    OK, now you’ve said yourself that depletion of fossil fuels will require massive changes–and that is a certainty, and on a relatively short timescale. Climate change merely makes that more imperative and favors some changes over others. Moreover, that CO2 is driving current warming and that the warming will have adverse consequences is virtually certain (better than 90% confidence). That is part of the naturally imposed requirements.

    Gilles: “I am not aware of any scientific field where this happened in the past.”

    Look at the history of thermodynamics–how different would our lives be without Sadie Carnot et al.? Those studies led the way to modern industry and mass production, automobiles and all the social change (e.g. from urbanization to urban sprawl) that resulted. Look at the green revolution and the dependence in engendered on petroleum–which now determines the foreign policies of most industrial nations. Dude, science changes the way we live. You just don’t happen to like this change. That doesn’t make it any less real.

  19. 69
    SecularAnimist says:

    Hank Roberts wrote: “Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it.”

    A commenter on another climate-related blog posted this quote from one of my favorite authors of imaginative fiction, which addresses that point rather eloquently:

    “The sciences … have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

    — H.P. Lovecraft

    The urge to “flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age” can be readily seen in the denialist attacks on climate scientists and climate science, and even attacks on the foundations of scientific epistemology itself.

    As to “going mad from the revelation” … well, a full appreciation of what AGW almost certainly has in store for us over the next several decades is certainly disturbing. So much so, that perhaps even the most “alarmist” amongst us can be said to be engaging in a certain degree of denial to the extent that we carry on with our day-to-day lives as though everything were “normal”.

  20. 70
    SecularAnimist says:

    Oops, left out the close-italics tag at the end of the first quote from Hank in my previous comment … if the moderator has a moment … ?

    By the way, is there any possibility of getting the “Preview” button back some day?

  21. 71
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gilles says: “For if it were only the nature on stake, well, we could very easily all go back to the fields or even to the forests, and that’s it.”

    Nope! There’s no way the planet could support 6.7 billion people as hunter-gatherers or even subsistence farmers. That’s a recipe for at least half of humanity to starve to death. The only reason our population has climbed this high is because we’ve learned how to convert petroleum into corn and soy beans.

  22. 72
    Patrick 027 says:

    Gilles – “It exists as a fact, when no serious scientist questions the basis of knowledge (which don’t seem to be the case in climate science, as far as I can judge), or it doesn’t exist.”

    Serious is a key word there. Also, achieving zero dissenters may be too stringent a criterion. There are people who believe the world is flat, that ___ never happened (you know what I mean), that the moon landings were faked, that there is so much controversy in biological evolution, and on and on. Many not being serious scientists, of course, but consider that biochemist who believes aliens produced humanity by cloning (Raelians??)

  23. 73
    Andreas Bjurström says:

    “Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it.”

    Wishful thinking rooted in the natural sciences. So sweet and comfortable.

  24. 74

    [Response: It is also worth stating that this was an aberration, and has stopped. The statement on scientific openness by the then-head of NASA, Michael Griffin, is the ideal that is (mostly) lived up to. - gavin]
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Another peer reviewed statement which perhaps sheds a bit more light…

    “””Environmental geoscientists working within government agencies usually are restricted to existing institutional means of distribution or communication with external agencies or the public… (see Nield 2008)”””

    Liverman, 2008

    Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2008; v. 305; p. 197-209;
    DOI: 10.1144/SP305.17
    © 2008 Geological Society of London

    Articles
    Environmental geoscience; communication challenges
    David G. E. Liverman

    http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/AJPH.2007.118455v1

  25. 75
    Gilles says:

    “Actually, what Einstein refused to accept–the nondeterministic and (even more important) nonlocal nature of quantum mechanics–has now been shown to be reality beyond any practical doubt. Einstein’s famous paradox is now the basis for much of quantum computing.”

    Another point on which we disagree. Nobody can contest that QM works perfectly for explaining what is measured (including possible quantum computers). Nobody can claim he has understood what a measurement really means. Or, quoting Feynman, if he does, he is a liar.

    ” Classical mechanics remains an excellent account of our surroundings 99.99% of the time. It also remains the basis for our interpretation of the remaining 0.01%.”

    sure ! because it is verified with a 0,0001 % or so accuracy, and only BECAUSE that. With which accuracy are measured the numbers on which the AGW speeches rely , please, remember me ?

    “Moreover, that CO2 is driving current warming and that the warming will have adverse consequences is virtually certain (better than 90% confidence). That is part of the naturally imposed requirements.”

    Well , maybe some, yes, maybe. Not sure. Actually it is VERY unlikely that a change in anything has no adverse consequences. I remind you that the simple use of cars makes more than 1 million casualties every year. I suspect that it is – by far – the largest impact of the use of fossil fuels regarding to the numbers of deaths. But curiously no one ask for their forbidding. Just try to limit the numbers of deaths. 200 000 or 300 000 a year would be ok may be? but of course, we need electric cars (whose development will for sure increase the number of victims..) As you see, perception of adverse consequences is rather subjective…

    “Dude, science changes the way we live. ”
    Sure I’m the first to say that use of fossil fuels has totally changed our lives. I said that nobody said that we SHOULD change it in advance.

  26. 76
  27. 77
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Re Post 69: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

  28. 78
    David Miller says:

    Gavin responds in #49:

    [Response: It is also worth stating that this was an aberration, and has stopped. The statement on scientific openness by the then-head of NASA, Michael Griffin, is the ideal that is (mostly) lived up to. - gavin]

    I’m glad to hear it. I wasn’t a climate scientist during the period Richard Ordway referred to, so I certainly can’t speak first-hand to it. I’m glad that the current and two previous Democratic administrations have been much more open.

    I also, however, can’t help but note that we seem to have had 20 years of climate science suppression on the part of the previous 3 Republican administrations.

    So, Gavin, what’s your confidence level that Griffins mission statement will be upheld should, say, Palin, move to the whitehouse in 2012?

    In related news, it appears our previous administration wasn’t the only one trying to suppress inconvenient news:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/03/17/harper-leaked-document-canadian-climate-scientists-being-muzzled-from-media/

  29. 79
    SecularAnimist says:

    The epistemological implications of quantum physics are indeed profound, and its ontological implications disturbing.

    And anyone who suggests that they have any bearing on the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming is engaging in sophistry.

    We are not talking about the margins of reality here. We are not talking about the role of the observer in establishing the properties of an electron through the act of measurement. We are talking about a two-ton rock that has been dropped from the top of a twenty-story building and is hurtling down towards the observer’s head.

  30. 80
    Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg says:

    This cartoon is great:
    http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Editorial-Cartoons/G373,S81137

    It says: “What if it’s a big hoax [AGW] and we create a better world for nothing!”

    That seems to be the attitude of some of the “skeptics” in this forum.

  31. 81
    Septic Matthew says:

    7, Gilles: So I offer you a precise prediction : I would bet that the production of CO2 per capita is to peak before 2020, which isn’t predicted by any IPCC scenario to my knowledge. Would you agree to bet on that ?
    &&&&
    CFU 162 :”Let me ask: are you convinced that plate glass is a requirement for economic development? After all, you tell me of one country that hasn’t progressed into a higher economic realm after the introduction of it?Therefore we MUST continue to use it, yes?”
    &&&&
    Plate glass is ONE of the commodities that was VERY expensive before the availability of cheap fossil fuel energy, and became much cheaper with them. I agree, it would be one of the requirement that would disappear with the disappearance of fossil fuels – not impossible to produce of course, but much too expensive for most people. And they are many others like that.

    I wouldn’t bet against you, but do note that one of the reasons you would win the bet would be the concerted action of many AGW believers to accelerate the move away from heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Put differently, you’ll win the bet if you fail to persuade people of your judgment about the great importance of fossil fuels. As a matter of policy, I side with the AGW crowd in trying to speed development of renewable and nuclear alternatives (but not in all things.)

    The importance of the plate glass example is not just the plate glass per se, important though it may be. Instead of thinking of the whole economy, it is quite worthwhile to think of the segments of the economy. In California summers, about 15% of peak demand is for air conditioning; this demand can be met with solar power, and by 2020 probably will be. Although solar electricity is expensive, it compares well with other methods of providing peak power for 8 hours per day, less than half the year round. That’s with little reduction in comfort, and economics that generalize to other regions of the US. And, since most of Californians live in places that have lots of winter sunlight, they can heat their homes in winter with solar powered reversible heat exchangers (that is, their new air conditioners!) It just takes a while to replace what we all have with new stuff. As for plate glass itself, it can be made with electricity from nuclear power plants, just as steel and aluminum are made using hydro-electricity.

    Some sacrifice may be necessary to build the new energy industry during the next 40 years, but whoever does it best will be best positioned to be a technological leader in the second half of the 21st century.

  32. 82
    Chris S. says:

    Re Post 69: Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

    Dread Cthulhu may be sleeping, if only the same could be said for all those zombie arguments!

  33. 83
    Septic Matthew says:

    Gilles
    Simply, I think it impossible to sustain everything that made our life so different from that of our grand-grand-parents without fossil fuels.

    There is plenty of evidence, and ongoing development, to suggest that we might be able to replace our entire fossil fuel economy in the upcoming decades. Like the rest of the civilization enterprise, it will take time, labor, and capital investment. Exactly how successful humans can be, and at what rate, can’t be foretold, but there is now no good reason to believe that it absolutely can’t be done.

  34. 84
    Ron says:

    Gavin. I think your response to 47 was an accurate and restrained summary of how the debate should be conducted. Judith Curry in a recent interview (http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2010/03/judith_curry_and_michael_mann.html ) drew a nice distinction between ‘scientific sceptics’, who can follow the science and who argue on the basis of the science, and ‘political sceptics’, who are closed to scientific argument.

  35. 85

    77–Very amusing, Jim. I hope that’s *not* easy for you to say! (As I recall, HPL suggested that these words weren’t really intended for human vocal apparatus.)

    Secular’s original post @ 69 was rather thought-provoking for me. Is facing the truth really so difficult? HPL seemed pretty melodramatic to me when he suggested that it can be. Yet we have no end of cognitive distortion on prominent disply, here and especially elsewhere on the Net. Is denial, when sufficiently exaggerated, a form of “madness?”

    It really seems that the only reality test employed by many denialists I encounter is “which side does this datum support?” So much so that this morning I actually found myself pointing one totally confused (but nonetheless dogmatic) fellow to Roy Spencer’s “Defence of the Greenhouse Effect.”

    (It’s actually a pretty clear statement of the basics. Too bad he published it on April Fool’s last–I *think* it’s meant to be serious!)

  36. 86

    Andreas Bjurström says:

    “”"Can someone confirm that this is true? Is this the culture of the best climate scientists in the world?”"”
    ________________________________________________________________________
    Well, here is some more peer review which is going on the record for the rest of human history for one reason climate scientists don’t talk to the public about global warming…as if I have not already given enough peer-reviewed statements already.

    “Scientific culture A major disincentive to scientists interested in communicating to non-scientists is the lack of encouragement and reward to do so, from their peers, their employers and their funding agency. In addition, a reluctance to engage the public lies within the scientific community itself.

    A prime obstacle cited by those interviewed by Hartz & Chappell (1998) is a loss of status amongst their peers. There is a perception amongst scientists that scientists with a high media profile are no longer doing worthwhile research themselves, and thus turn to public engagement as being in some way less demanding. A UK survey found that 20% of scientists agreed with the statement that scientists who engaged with the public were less well regarded by their peers. In qualitative interviews several scientists expressed the opinion that public engagement would be detrimental to their careers (Royal Society 2006).”

    Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2008; v. 305; p. 197-209;
    DOI: 10.1144/SP305.17
    © 2008 Geological Society of London

    Articles
    Environmental geoscience; communication challenges
    David G. E. Liverman
    Geological Survey of Newfoundland & Labrador, Department of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland & Labrador, PO Box 8700, St. John’s, NL A1B 4J6, Canada (e-mail: dliverman@gov.nl.ca )
    http://sp.lyellcollection.org/cgi/content/abstract/305/1/197

  37. 87
    pete says:

    In “The Guardian Disappoints” you said:
    In two follow-up pieces we will host a letter from Ben Santer on Part 7 and on the skewed reporting of the ‘Yamal‘ issue in Part 9.
    When is the part of Yamal going to come?

  38. 88
    Hank Roberts says:

    Applauding hosing out the ‘Brown is Green’ topic, may I suggest bringing in the firehose and flushing all the off-topic stuff from the past few days into an appropriate holding tank or two, leaving just

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/up-is-down-brown-is-green-with-apologies-to-orwell/comment-page-5/#comment-167179

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/up-is-down-brown-is-green-with-apologies-to-orwell/comment-page-5/#comment-167241

    I’m sorry y’all have to do so much cleanup. I’m very grateful you’re doing it. It’s really good to see some name authors showing up to discuss their work.

  39. 89
    John Peter says:

    Brian 520

    Hi,

    You mention increased/decreased data which brings up an interesting question – natural (proxy) data or satellite data?

    An Alaskan geophysicist has discovered recently that climate change from the end of the little ice age up to now is an almost linear global temperature increase of 0.5C/100 years with a superimposed multi-decadal oscillation about half that size. He labels this “natural” data since there is (obviously?) no AGW content. He proposes this representation so that anthropogenic data can now be investigated and explained as the difference between natural and measured. His study which, while phenomenologically global, is very regional surface phenomena oriented. It presents glacier melt, sea level rise, and sea ice as well as temperature change.

    I’m trying to find some reference to cloud measurement for which I know there is a lot of proxy “data” from airplanes and such before satellite measurements.

    Any ideas?

    TIA

    The reference is downloadable from http://people.iarc.uaf.edu/~sakasofu/pdf/two_natural_components_recent_climate_change.pdf
    should anyone be interested.

  40. 90

    re. Andreas Bjurström,

    “”"”However, Bolin was clear that HE deliberately used a conservative approach in the IPCC to establish climate change as a policy issue. Thus, to be conservative in the IPCC context is SCIENTIFIC and POLITICAL at the same time.”"”
    _________________________________________________________________________
    Hmmm, let’s see, according to permanent peer review, in instances where scientists were bad at communicating (and not communicating enough) resulted in failure and disaster and possible future disaster coming our way which we seem to be ignoring again… In short Katrina, many floods, tsunamis, and human caused global warming:

    “The 2005 flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina in the USA was predicted with remarkable accuracy by research well in advance of its occurrence (Fischetti 2001; Travis 2005).

    The research was well documented in articles in the popular science press, including detailed descriptions of the likely impact of a major hurricane on the Gulf Coast. For example, the following appeared in Scientific American: ‘A major hurricane could swamp New Orleans under 20 feet of water, killing thousands. Human activities along the Mississippi River have dramatically increased the risk, and now only massive reengineering of southeastern Louisiana can save the city’ (Fischetti 2001).

    However, when Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the lack of preparation both in infrastructure and planning did little to mitigate the effects of the hurricane. The reasons for this are complex and subject to considerable investigation and research, but scientists were ultimately unsuccessful in provoking an appropriate policy and planning response to their conclusions (Laska 2005). The success in communicating these same conclusions to the popular science media makes this case even more puzzling.”

    “In Newfoundland, Canada, floods cause considerable economic loss that has to be borne by a comparatively small population.

    The flood in Badger in 2003 is estimated to have caused $(Canadian) 12 million damage, a significant economic impact on a province with a population of approximately 500 000 people.

    Floods in Stephenville, in 2005, are estimated to have caused close to $20 million damage.

    Flood hazard mapping was undertaken in the 1980s and 1990s, covering many communities in the province, including Badger and Stephenville.

    Analysis of these flood disasters indicates that development continued in high-risk flood zones after the publication of the hazard maps, increasing the impact of the subsequent flooding events (Liverman 2007). This suggests problems not in the science, but in its communication.”

    “On 26 December 2004, the margins of the Indian Ocean were struck by a tsunami, a natural disaster of enormous proportions with a staggering loss of human life. Although Indian Ocean tsunamis were known to be unusual events they were by no means unprecedented, and the lack of preparation may have been due, in part, to a failure of scientists to communicate the importance of rare but high-impact events (Alverson 2005; McCloskey 2007).”

    My, my, my- how many thousands of people have been killed and billions of dollars in damage have been caused, it seems, because scientists weren’t perhaps forceful enough…and people want them to be even quieter! Talk about grabbing a tiger by the tail.

    And for the coming possible future disaster (95% confidence level of human caused global warming/climate change) in the peer review (IPCC)…

    “On the global stage, it can be argued that the failure of several major first-world countries to take prompt action on carbon dioxide emissions since scientific consensus on anthropogenically induced climate change emerged well over a decade ago is, in part, a failure of communication. Shackley & Wynne (1996)…

    …for instance, argued that discussion of uncertainty in climate model predictions, an accepted part of scientific discourse, has led to undermining of scientific authority when applied to policy.

    Boykoff & Boykoff (2004) ascribed the reluctance of the US Government to address climate change issues in part to disjuncture between a scientific community that deals in a language of uncertainty and probability and a political culture that requires certainty before action.

    Etkins & Ho (2007) discussed the large gap between the scientific community and the general public in terms of their understanding, awareness and perception of risks associated with climate change.

    Climate change offers further challenges in communication, as the process of change is slow by human time scales; in general, it is harder to initiate responses to hazards that develop over long time scales as opposed to rapid-onset events.

    Effective action on climate change required major changes in policy with serious political implications. As such, even when scientists effectively communicated their results to policy-makers, political considerations made taking action difficult until such action gained broad support within the community at large.”

    “Both Cavazza & Sassi (2004) and McCloskey (2007) called for scientists to increase their involvement and activity so as to influence both policy and public response, yet, as it will be argued below, environmental geoscientists frequently lack the tools to do this effectively.”

    Tsk, tsk…Now that’s a dilema, isn’t it? Scientists have a culture (and other impediments) to being activist (according to peer review)…and when they aren’t activist in history…massive disasters have happened (according to peer review).

    Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2008; v. 305; p. 197-209;
    DOI: 10.1144/SP305.17
    © 2008 Geological Society of London

    Geological Society, London, Special Publications; 2008; v. 305; p. 197-209;
    DOI: 10.1144/SP305.17
    © 2008 Geological Society of London

    Articles
    Environmental geoscience; communication challenges
    David G. E. Liverman

    http://sp.lyellcollection.org/cgi/content/abstract/305/1/197

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=9yqfy2TSX4EC&oi=fnd&pg=PA197&dq=Geological+Society,+London,+Special+Publications%3B+2008%3B+v.+305%3B+p.+197-209%3B&ots=dGHwfgmDZw&sig=JOjs1x1AJ6ZhvgudvfYdvE_kDqE#v=onepage&q=&f=false

  41. 91
    ccpo says:

    Kevin McKinney says:
    18 March 2010 at 7:23 AM

    You’re supposedly trying to convince me that fossil fuels are necessary to development.

    I would not say they are necessary in the broad sense that only fossil fuels can fuel civilization, but they certainly have been and currently are necessary. There are a few different issues withe transitioning from FF to “renewables.” 1. Renewables aren’t really renewable. The sources are, but not the machines used to harness the sources. 2. There is literally nothing yet known that is as freely available, cheap and fungible as oil is, and especially has, been, so the amount of energy that will be needed from non-fossil fuel sources will be higher for an equivalent level of use. 3. The time frame needed to transition is quite likely to be much longer than the time we have (Hirsch Report). (Hint: despite exceedingly high prices the last 5 years, there has been no rise in oil production.)

    So, the issue isn’t that FFs are *necessary* in any absolute sense, but that the transition will be difficult, and possibly impossible on a global scale before the effects destabilize globally.

    The amounts of energy available from renewables is theoretically much more than enough to meet today’s global demand

    You cannot consider only total energy. You must consider how to change that energy into useful energy.

    Yet you are resigned to a future of slow decline because–poor humanity!–we are running out of those “indispensible” fossil fuels. It would be purely pitiable, if it weren’t that there are difficult and urgent practical challenges to be met.

    Dismissing analysis because it doesn’t fit your constructs is not very impressive. Unless you believe FFs to be renewable, you need to wrap your head around the fact that there is a finite amount and they must necessarily be declining.

    We don’t need more councils of despair (WRT fossil fuels) or ungrounded complacency (WRT climate change.)

    We don’t need any ostriches, either. Why is dismissing the energy issues we face not ungrounded complacency? Do you not understand physics? If you dismiss any part of the Perfect Storm, you are leaving yourself vulnerable. Energy is an issue. As are many other things. Climate is not everything, not is Peak Oil. Both, and more, interact to make this period strikingly dangerous for humanity.

    Cheers

  42. 92
    Karen Street says:

    announcement and question

    • Climate activist group beginning March 28, videoconferencing and in person, described in two parts:
    http://pathsoflight.us/musing/?p=849
    and http://pathsoflight.us/musing/?p=870

    • I would like to chat with people who actually give presentations to audiences including skeptics. Last presentation I got 3 questions from skeptics (the majority not skeptics, of course), and answered them well enough to not turn them off and to be given credit for “being prepared and thinking on my feet”. I am interested in something else, though, a way to characterize the climate discussion at the beginning which will invite skeptics to join a little more in the presentation.

    If interested in either, go to my blog and leave a comment, and say don’t publish on your comment, just in case I can’t figure that out.

    For people interested in reading more on the climate change culture wars, I highly recommend Mike Hulme’s Why We Disagree About Climate Change, which I first saw recommended on RealClimate. Thanks to person recommending!!!!

  43. 93
    Robert says:

    “Simply, I think it impossible to sustain everything that made our life so different from that of our grand-grand-parents without fossil fuels.”

    Yet you have failed to produce a shred of evidence that this is so, and merely repeat ad nauseum that it must be, and accuse those who question you of not valuing that standard of living.

    Why continue your trolling here? Nobody’s fooled by it.

  44. 94
    John McManus says:

    The other day I read something that at first glimpse seemed OK ( unfortunately I didn’t write down the URL). The gist was that there is no need to worrry about warming melting arctic because said warming will result in the growth of dwarf birches which will shade the snow thus resulting in cooling and the preservation of the permafrost. The author didn’t say wheather the birches will die in the new cold, but so what?

    So far so good, but something is wrong. There are no leaves on birches when there is snow on the ground.

    I’m learning. There is a simple fallacy in every denialist arguement. It’s up to me to find it.

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  46. 96
  47. 97
    CM says:

    Gilles (#53),

    Funny that you should attribute to me a mythological picture of undisturbed nature in the same breath as you lecture me on how I’m not really concerned with nature at all. Well, you’re wrong about me. More importantly, you’re missing or evading the point of the argument. Let me try again.

    You argued that, if human ingenuity can help civilization cope with quitting fossil fuels, human ingenuity can surely help it cope with a few degrees of warming.

    I noted that, unlike the end of fossil fuels, global warming would both affect human systems and the natural systems on which human systems ultimately depend. The oil price doesn’t matter to the rainforest, but rainfall matters a great deal.

    (I didn’t claim nature was pristine, nor does my argument require it to be; the more stress we have already put on ecosystems, the greater the reason to worry about adding rapid climate change to the burden.)

    The transition to a renewable energy infrastructure and economy will be a planning and engineering challenge, but that’s a kind of problem to which human ingenuity has proven itself equal. (It took some planning and engineering to build the fossil fuel economy in the first place.) And we know how to make machinery move without fossil fuels; we know how to make windmills, PV cells, biofuels.

    Major disruptions to what’s left of nature — now, that’s a different matter. We don’t know how to make rainforests that grow without rain. We don’t know how to make anything that does what rainforests do. It’s a salient difference.

    Clear now?

    (Your last question was off on a tangent, and had nothing to do with anything I was saying or any position I have ever defended in this forum, but OK: No, I’m for cities. Yes, I’m also for wolves and bears. Living, as I do in a small country with hundreds of bears, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want them back.)

  48. 98
    Jean B. says:

    #81 Matthew
    “I wouldn’t bet against you, but do note that one of the reasons you would win the bet would be the concerted action of many AGW believers to accelerate the move away from heavy reliance on fossil fuels.”
    No, if you have read Gilles messages you would have understood that he is saying the peak will come from supply (production) and not demand, which is a very very different thing !

    One is from our own good will (and IMHO is unachievable), the other comes from the fact that resources are finite and that marginal costs increase.

  49. 99
  50. 100
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    Some musings on the limb, probably OT…

    The insistence on GDP as a descriptor of human condition does not cut it. How about real life in the current global information society?

    To go into some personal history…

    I had a happy childhood under the most tragic circumstances of the WW-II in Europe. Yes, we spent daily a spoonfull of petrol for the lanterns in addition to the dynamo power (probably way less than 100 W) provided by a local brook. All available energy was expended to resist the political power of Stalin, our family’s six sons being in harm’s way fighting on the front.

    Yet, my grandfather was a most successful person. His two violin waltzes were played by local bands, his horses collected prizes at the local races, he was well known for his blacksmith skills and he was a friendly summer host to renowned painters. He was appreciated as a good and helpfull neighbour.

    There is no world war of similar scale right now. Instead, there is the global information society which has an impact as great or even greater. Old rules do not apply. The GDP is hopeless and useless as a measure.

    We have available on-line all the science, art and history. It is a resource truly limited only by an individual’s capacity to absorb and apply. Not only by the privileged few in the industrialized countries, but by the third world as well. A huge transformation but quite necessary.


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