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Climate change is coming to a place near you

What are the local consequences of a continued global warming? And what kind of future climate can you expect for you children? Do we expect more extreme events, and will a global warming affect the statistics of storms? Another question is how the local changes matters for local communities and the ecosystem.

It may be contrary to most people’s impression. We have a clearer picture of future climate changes on a global scale than of the local consequences associated with a global warming. And we know why.

It’s reasonably predictable that the global mean temperature will increase according to the models’ climate sensitivity. But it’s harder to answer the question where the storm tracks be in the future, or what will happen to El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in a warmer world. And how will the heat be distributed in the oceans?

Climate models, like all models, are designed with some limitations. Their objective is to describe features that are of key interest for a given task, and not reproduce all the details seen in nature. They typically capture the coarse aspects of large-scale weather phenomena, which often implies that they may be somewhat displaced in terms of their real location.

Furthermore, they reproduce much of the natural variability seen in the real world, but also indicate that it is impossible to predict their exact future path beyond the time horizon of weather forecasting (see previous comment on Deser et al. 2012). Nevertheless, we can get some idea of the range of plausible outcomes by making many model predictions (ensemble runs, explained as “Monte-Carlo simulations” in the excellent BBC documentary “Climate Change by Numbers“).

The local climate can be regarded as the same as weather statistics, providing a picture of expected ranges and occurrences of different atmospheric phenomena. A climate change then implies a change in the weather statistics, with changes in frequencies and ranges. Some weather phenomena are dangerous, and hence a change in their occurrence means there will be a change in weather-related risks.

In other words, we know that Earth’s climate is changing, but we do not know exactly what the consequences will be locally where you live. However, we can make some estimate of weather-related risks. The problem is to provide a bridge between the scientific knowledge and information that is directly relevant and tailored for decision-making.

The local dimension is important for climate change adaptation and for many decision-makers, and it is important to figure out how the climate-related risks may change on specific locations in order to be prepared. For this reason, the so-called global framework for climate services (GFCS) was established by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

There are also initiatives that try to enhance our understanding of regional and local climate change, such as the COoRdinated Downscaling EXperiment (CORDEX) under the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

Now, the downscaling efforts are getting a renewed vigour within the IPCC, and Brazil’s INPE recently hosted a workshop on regional climate projections and their use in impacts and risk analysis studies (link).

One key question is how to make best use of our knowledge and information in decision making and climate change adaptation. How to make decisions based on climate science? To achieve this objective we need to ask who are using the information. And what do people actually need?

Not surprising, one take-home message from the workshop was that dialogue between decision-makers and scientists is important. And it is important that the scientists and users of the information (such as decision-makers or scientists from other disciplines) understand the limitations of the data and what are the consequences of climate change.

Some of the hottest debated concepts at the IPCC workshop involved “model bias” and “bias correction“, but not all who need climatological data may understand their meaning. Not that they are stupid, but many discussions on this topic are cryptic for those outside the climate research community.

The obstacles associated with mutual understanding across different scientific disciplines also surfaced during a more recent workshop on biodiversity and climate change in Bogota, Colombia (link), organised by Alcue Net and CORDEX and hosted by Colciencias. One conclusion from this meeting was that the mutual understanding across scientific disciplines may improve through working closely together over time. The experts must come out of their comfort zone.

Furthermore, data sharing facilitates better understanding, however, it’s important to document the limitation of model results and distinguish between what is model results and what is observations. Data need to be accompanied with unambiguous and standardised metadata.

In other words, there’s a need for a common description of the data, using standard terms and data structures. The recipient of the data should know exactly what the numbers represent and what is their history.

The discussion during the two workshops also coincided with the publication of a white paper on ethics by an organisation called Climate Service Partnerships (CPS). Many of the ideas from the IPCC workshop, the biodiversity meeting in Bogota, and points made in the CSP white paper all come together: better guidelines, best practices, and collaboration are necessary to avoid mal-adaptation to climate change.

I learned from the Bogota meeting that biologists often use a dataset called ‘worldclim‘ to provide a basis for climate information. Climate scientists then need to explain why worldclim often is not appropriate for describing local climatic conditions. The reason is that future projections are derived (interpolated) from coarse global climate models which do not account for local details such as geographical details, that many of the station records used to estimate the baseline may not have been quality checked, and that there are many regions with missing observations.

The concept of scales may also cause some confusion, with different definitions in different disciplines. The climate scientists need to know what exactly is the question and what kind of answers people expect. Also that there is a crucial difference between data and information, and that people often want an answer or some information rather than data. However, those who use climate data for further processing may have to adapt their analysis to the available information.

One example is a person who asks for hourly precipitation in order to figure out how often do we get a flash floods. So it is not really hourly data that is needed, but instead the answer to the question whether flash floods will become more frequent or severe. In other words, we may make sense out of rare events and extremes if we know how to pose a question that can be answered with science or statistics.

In other words, we have both information and knowledge that can be used as guidance in decision-making and climate change adaptation. However, we need to rethink our questions and look for cases where climate science can provide reliable information that have a direct relevance, even if we cannot get a complete answer. At least, we should look for ways to improve the information basis for decision making by looking at the type of information and data that has been used in the past. One way to do that is through a dialogue and co-production of knowledge.

157 Responses to “Climate change is coming to a place near you”

  1. 101
    Victor says:

    #83 nigelj says:

    ” . . . the alternatives of solar energy and cosmic rays are much more complicated and troublesome. And the rough correlation between CO2 and temperature is not so rough when you do a statistical analysis.

    In fact the simplest explanation for most of the warming since 1920 has to be CO2. “Occams Razor” suggests CO2.”

    Yes, nigelj, and thank you for providing a reasonable and respectful response to my objection. However, CO2 as an explanation is hardly simple, since, as you state, it requires a “statistical analysis” to compensate for the lack of long-term correlation. The need for such an analysis complicates the picture, just as the need to calculate all those epicycles complicates the Ptolemaic view of planetary motion. And as we know, there are a great many ways of making one’s statistics fit one’s premise.

    Actually there is a far simpler explanation, which conforms perfectly to Occam’s Razor, to wit: the assumption that CO2 emissions are a major factor in global warming and climate change is wrong. The fact that some other causal factor cannot be isolated means little, since the Earth has seen many periods of warming and cooling in the past, clearly not associated with CO2.

  2. 102
    François says:

    Obviously, you have never lived in Pakistan, or India…

  3. 103
    Jim Eager says:

    Mitch @96, other reasons that the Miocene and earlier was warmer than the Holocene include 1) the closure of the Isthmus of Panama 3-2.5 million years ago, which completely reorganized ocean circulation and surface heat transport and distribution; 2) an unabated continuation of the draw-down of atmospheric CO2 driven by the increase in rock weathering that started with the uplift of the Himalaya 55-50 mya.

  4. 104
    Jim Eager says:

    Dan H @ 97 takes comfort in the prediction that much of the mid-latitudes are expected to receive higher precipitation while ignoring that same prediction also suggests that much of that increase will come in the form of an increase in extreme events. A single extreme rainfall or hail storm can wash away or flatten an entire year’s crop in a few minutes and yet not effect annual precipitation at all. A few days rain when your grain crop is ripe and ready to harvest can spell disaster. It’s not just the amount of precipitation that matters. How, where and when it is delivered is critical, and it is precisely the predictable and reliable delivery of precipitation where and when it is needed that is in jeopardy as climate changes.

  5. 105
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Victor — 25 Oct 2015 @ 10:43 PM, ~#92

    Victor, Ockham’s razor is just a guideline for making temporary decisions regarding alternate explanations and there are instances in which the more complex hypothesis eventually turns out to be the correct one. You said, “If it can be the simplest explanation only if complicated by additional factors then it’s no longer the simplest explanation. Simple!” So if the CO2 hypothesis isn’t the simplest, you must know of a simpler one. What is this alternative explanation?

    CO2 as the explanation of recent global warming is not simple. This explanation is based on many thousands of research articles. A recent count that I have seen, just for 2014, found around eleven thousand with none claiming evidence against anthropogenic CO2 as the cause and this doesn’t include the many more studies of mechanisms that support and interlock with those that address global warming. That is just for one year. In the past you have said that the anthropogenic hypothesis is just too complex to stand, but all you are saying is that the huge body of interlocking and consistent research in multiple fields is just too complex for you to understand. The scientists who dedicate their careers to publishing the research do understand. Steve

  6. 106
    Hank Roberts says:

    For ‘Zebra’ — you conflate Kerry Emmanuel and Victor — you demonstrate how data can be perplexing in the absence of a willingness to understand and apply statistics. People who want policy statements to be absolute and unqualified can’t handle ambiguity. But if our politically inclined folks aren’t able to get past that sticking point, we’re not going to survive this.

    To sum up the difference you’re missing above, I suggest shorter:

    Victor: “ignorabmus, ignorabimus” — no statistics, no science, just incredibility.
    Kerry Emmanuel: “Wir müssen wissen — wir werden wissen!” — doing science.
    ________________________________________

    Apropos the definitions of “near” and “you” this may help. From a conversation about space operas at Charlie Stross’s blog

    Charlie Stross | October 26, 2015 11:02 |

    (Before I dive into the comments …)

    A point I like to make about American exceptionalism, speaking as a native of a somewhat smaller nation, is that the USA is tiny even today. With 350 million people, it contains roughly 4-5% of the global population. To put it in perspective, if the USA is your world, then a polity within that world with a similar population would be Pennsylvania, or maybe Illinois (the latter gives a better idea of it by also representing its geographical area).

    Imagine if the entire media universe you inhabit is dominated by depictions of Illinois. Every movie is set in Chicago, the only ocean depicted is Lake Erie, and maybe 1-2% of the casting choices come from California. That’d be weird, wouldn’t it? Or maybe WEIRD in its skewed lack of representation.

  7. 107
    zebra says:

    106 Hank Roberts,

    I’m not conflating the individuals at all; I’m pointing out that the two statements are remarkably similar. The fact that there is such a difference between the individuals is exactly why I find it troubling.

    This is not about statistics or tolerating ambiguity, it is simply about communicating what is real to the public in a way the public can understand. Certainly, our “politically inclined folks”, perhaps a majority, are more than comfortable with ambiguity, since it allows them to ignore the issue a bit longer. If doing nothing is your goal, then this kind of hedging is just the ticket, I guess.

    As for “near” and “you”– one of the reasons, perhaps the most important one, for the shift in the numbers on the public’s acceptance of climate change as real, is the perception of extreme events. Why do you consider this a problem? In this case, unlike the perception that “the planet can’t be warming because we had a cold winter”, it is consistent with the theory.

    I would still be interested in a clarification from anyone with the expertise to explain what it would take for them to make a definitive statement about attribution. What, physically, would be happening if climate change is not having an effect on ocean temperature and so on?

  8. 108

    V 101: CO2 as an explanation is hardly simple, since, as you state, it requires a “statistical analysis” to compensate for the lack of long-term correlation.

    BPL: WHAT lack of long-term correlation? r2 = 0.82 for CO2 and dT for 1850-2014. That means r = 0.91. That’s what’s called an “extremely powerful” or “very close” correlation. You do know that “correlation” refers to a number and that there’s an equation for it, don’t you?

    Quit saying there’s no long-term correlation. It’s not true.

  9. 109
    Jim Eager says:

    OK Victor, since you have such disregard for statistical analysis, how about you show us a physical mechanism that can not only explain the current and past periods of warming, but also how it proves that CO2 has not played a role in current and past warming episodes. Your Nobel awaits.

  10. 110

    …there is a far simpler explanation, which conforms perfectly to Occam’s Razor, to wit: the assumption that CO2 emissions are a major factor in global warming and climate change is wrong. The fact that some other causal factor cannot be isolated means little, since the Earth has seen many periods of warming and cooling in the past, clearly not associated with CO2.

    All you are saying here, Victor, is “we don’t need no stinking explanation.” At least, what you’ve offered contains none.

    Yes, we do need an explanation for observed phenomena, if we take science seriously. Explanation is the whole point of science.

    Also, you are wrong when you assert that “the Earth has seen many periods of warming and cooling in the past, clearly not associated with CO2.” That’s claimed by to be true by folks like the WUWT crowd, but the most that can be claimed is a slightly different word order–ie., that those periods are “not clearly associated with CO2.”

    That is, during more recent periods–like the 800.000-year length of the oldest ice cores–we have conclusive evidence of a *very* strong correlation of temperature and CO2:

    https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/temperature-change.html

    But during more remote periods of time–more than, say, 100 million years–there is not clear evidence of such an association. WUWT notes that here:

    http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c011572416077970b-pi

    But note that the various CO2 data curves differ by several multiples in various studies, with differences at some points even exceeding an order of magnitude. Quite simply, if the various CO2 estimates don’t even clearly correlate with one another, how can we demand a correlation with temperature?

    Where the data are strong, we see the CO2-temperature correlation. Where it is weak, we don’t. What would Occam have us say about that?

  11. 111
    Mal Adapted says:

    Zebra:

    Kerry Emanuel:

    “There is no question that this is an exceptionally intense tropical cyclone,” he wrote. “But I wonder whether we really know that prior storms in the region have not been equally intense and we are just lucky to have measured this one.”

    I can hear Victor saying much the same thing:

    Victor may use some of the same words, but they don’t mean the same thing as when scientists use them. It’s safe to ignore him.

    Emanuel, OTOH, is a genuine authority on the impact of AGW on tropical storms. Among his numerous peer-reviewed publications, he was co-author on a review article in Nature in 2010, titled Tropical cyclones and climate change. From the abstract (my emphasis):

    Large amplitude fluctuations in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones greatly complicate both the detection of long-term trends and their attribution to rising levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Trend detection is further impeded by substantial limitations in the availability and quality of global historical records of tropical cyclones. Therefore, it remains uncertain whether past changes in tropical cyclone activity have exceeded the variability expected from natural causes.

    The abstract goes on to say:

    However, future projections based on theory and high-resolution dynamical models consistently indicate that greenhouse warming will cause the globally averaged intensity of tropical cyclones to shift towards stronger storms, with intensity increases of 2–11% by 2100. Existing modelling studies also consistently project decreases in the globally averaged frequency of tropical cyclones, by 6–34%. Balanced against this, higher resolution modelling studies typically project substantial increases in the frequency of the most intense cyclones, and increases of the order of 20% in the precipitation rate within 100 km of the storm centre.

    Try searching for “climate change tropical storm” with Google Scholar. You’ll get an impression of scientists, Prof. Emanuel prominent among them, beavering away at uncertainties regarding tropical storms and AGW. IOW, “stay tuned”.

  12. 112
    Nigel Williams says:

    Certainly something this way darkly comes in the Sea of Asov. Surely not related to rising sea temperatures and calthrates??

    https://www.rt.com/in-motion/319976-azov-offshore-mud-volcano/

  13. 113
    Victor says:

    #104 Steve Fish

    First off, I want to make clear that I welcome posts like this one by Steve Fish, as they open up space for meaningful discussion of important issues and enable both sides to more fully explore the various ramifications of both the data and its interpretation. I would hope that at least some of you would be willing to continue along such lines, as such dialogue is an essential part of the scientific process. If not, then don’t respond to any of my posts and I’ll willingly buzz off.

    Steve sez: “Victor, Ockham’s razor is just a guideline for making temporary decisions regarding alternate explanations and there are instances in which the more complex hypothesis eventually turns out to be the correct one.”

    The razor is actually much more than a guideline or rule of thumb, though that might appear to be the case. It’s a fundamental principle of epistemology. Taking the term literally, it is also a form of metaphysics, as it is “prior to physics,” i.e., that which makes scientific inquiry possible in the first place. It’s easy to see this if we consider the fact that there is no limit to the number of explanations that can be offered for any body of evidence. Take for example the notion that we have been visited by aliens from outer space. No matter how many objections one might come up with to such a patently absurd hypothesis, the true believer will invariably produce “evidence” that proves him right. “What about that flying saucer sighting a month ago, over New Orleans, how can you possibly explain that?”

    What Occam says, with remarkable concision, is that “entities must not be multiplied beyond what is necessary.” This means, first of all, that we must strive to keep things simple — but also that we can’t simply offer evidence for this or that hypothesis without also demonstrating its necessity, i.e., we need to make clear what it is about this evidence that makes it a necessary part of our argument. And this is where, as far as I can tell, the usual attempts to explain the absence of a long term correlation between CO2 and temperature break down. I’ve seen many different attempts of this sort, but never any one that even attempts to demonstrate why that particular explanation is necessarily superior to all the others, or how this particular configuration of evidence or argument fully accounts for data that seems, on its face, to contradict the prevailing hypothesis.

    And yes, “there are instances in which the more complex hypothesis eventually turns out to be the correct one.” Einstein’s explanation of gravity, based on General Relativity, is certainly more complex than Newton’s universal gravitation. But this by no means contradicts Occam, because General Relativity demonstrates the necessity of going beyond Newton to something more complex. It’s not just the simplest explanation that’s most likely, but the simplest explanation needed to account for ALL the evidence. Newton’s theory was unable to account for the bending of light in a gravitational field, nor the perihelion of Mercury, so even though it was simpler, it wasn’t able to fully account for all the evidence. THIS is Occam’s principle, NOT just the notion that the simplest explanation is best.

  14. 114
    Nigel Williams says:

    RE 98 Edward re the Persian Gulf. I often ponder on the minor issue that there is no reason (apart from our own anthropocentric conceit) why the climate has to function within a range that is compatible with the survival of mammals like us.

    The mean surface temperature could just as well be 40C compared with the present circa 13C. There would still be liquid water in the oceans and rivers, there would be lots of clouds (oops, hence rain, hence floods hence…). Wind velocities could well be persistently higher than today, leading to increasing difficulties with agriculture, sea states and turbulence, which could make shipping and air travel dangerous for conventional vessels. Two aircraft have been torn out of the sky in recent years (Air France over Africa and the Malaysian flight).

    Hansen’s recent paper alludes to this increased storminess.

    There is plenty of evidence of the beginning of these effects already, and we have no reason to assume that we will end up with a climate which is survivable for us.

  15. 115
    zebra says:

    Mal Adapted 111,

    “Victor may use the same words… but it’s safe to ignore him.”

    And yet, he and others like him are endlessly successful in distorting the discussion, to the point that Ockham’s Razor is being misinterpreted all around.

    Look, I am reasonably familiar with what people like Emmanuel are saying, and I have no problem understanding it. But almost as if I am talking to someone in Victor’s camp, the questions I ask are never the questions that are answered.

    The typical voter in the US is still befuddled by concepts like mean and median and mode. It may pain all of the academic-speak/statistically inclined here, but the quotes you give are like the twittering of birds to those otherwise reasonable and worthy citizens.

    Simply interpreted, we are saying that yes, increased CO2 increases the energy in the system, and that increases ocean temps and moisture in the atmosphere, and those things as far as we know lead to more intense storms and more deluges… but if you see a storm bomb out in a ridiculously short amount of time, or if there’s a crazy amount of rainfall in a short period… relax, maybe it was the result of a tear in the fabric of space-time for all we know.

    Seriously? This is how we deal with what supposedly we believe to be a phenomenon that impacts humanity in a profoundly negative way?

    As I would ask someone like Victor if I had not gone beyond that co-dependency exhibited by some: Give me a simpler explanation that excludes the influence of anthropogenic climate change. That would mean– the ocean temps are somehow independent of or decoupled from (or whatever phrase you like) the effects of CO2. In this universe.

  16. 116
    Victor says:

    #105 Steve Fish

    “In the past you have said that the anthropogenic hypothesis is just too complex to stand, but all you are saying is that the huge body of interlocking and consistent research in multiple fields is just too complex for you to understand.”

    What I understand is that the research is in fact not consistent — and this is a major reason for my skepticism. Thus:

    In an essay presented at the Skeptical Science site (http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-CO2-Temperature-correlation-over-the-20th-Century.html), John Cook argues that the true correlation between CO2 and temperature during the 20th century has been obscured due to the neglect of certain natural “forcings.” The forcings to which he refers are gleaned from a much more extensive and thorough study by James Hansen et al. On the basis of his (actually Hansen’s) analysis of the combined effects of ten forcings, he concludes that “When all the forcings are combined, the net forcing shows good correlation to global temperature.”

    However:
    In a paper by Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf published in 2011, “Global temperature evolution 1979– 2010” (http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044022/meta;jsessionid=0ADFBA7B8A1957DF45D4BE5B1345A7E9.c2.iopscience.cld.iop.org), the authors attempt to account for certain discrepancies in the temperature picture from 1979-2010, focusing on the so-called “hiatus” from 1998 through 2010. To account for the hiatus, they invoke not the 10 forcings considered by Cook and Hansen et al., but only three:

    “Much of the variability . . . can be related to three known causes of short-term temperature variations: El Nino/ southern oscillation (ENSO, an internal quasi-oscillatory mode of the ocean– atmosphere system) . . . , volcanic eruptions . . . , and solar variations including the solar cycle . . .”

    In other words, to explain what happened (or failed to happen) during the 20th century, 10 forcings are required, but only three are required to account for what happened (or failed to happen) during the period covered by Rahmstorff and Foster. One of the three, ENSO, is ruled out as a contributing factor in Cook’s essay. One wonders what R and F’s graphs would look like if all the factors considered by Hansen/ Cook were tossed into the mix. In any case, no explanation is offered as to why 10 factors are required in the first study and only three in the second, nor is there any attempt made by R and F to explain why the factors they’ve chosen are superior to those selected by Cook and Hansen et al.

    Moving on,

    While Hansen/ Cook and Foster/ Rahmstorf add various “forcings” to make everything come out right, according to a paper by Cowtan and Way (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qj.2297/abstract) all that’s necessary is to fill in “gaps” to correct for “bias” in the data itself. Again, no attempt is made by C and W to reconcile their very different “explanation” for the hiatus with any previous research.

    While investigators such as Rahmstorff, Foster, Hansen, Cook, Cowtan, Way, etc. have attempted to account for the hiatus on the basis of a re-examination of either forcing factors or methods of data collection, others, such as “Tamino” prefer to see it as some sort of illusion produced by misleading statistics (oddly Tamino is the pseudonym of Grant Foster, who collaborated on the previously mentioned paper offering a very different explanation). Producing his own correction to the graphs purporting to demonstrate the existence of a hiatus, Tamino asks, “Does this mean we need to launch a massive research effort to divine the reason for this sudden and pronounced warming? No.” Yet, under the name Grant Foster, this is precisely what he himself, along with Rahmstorf, has attempted.

    I could go on, but I believe the point has been made. I see NO consistency in any of the many efforts to explain away the lack of correlation, either short term or long. As I’ve already noted: “for each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there is always an infinite number of possible and more complex alternatives, because one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypotheses to prevent them from being falsified . . .”

    That at least is how I see it, but I will certainly welcome the views of anyone offering a different picture of this research and its meaning.

  17. 117

    V 113: the usual attempts to explain the absence of a long term correlation between CO2 and temperature

    BPL: You’ve been corrected on this before, more than once. I have to assume, at this point, that you are operating out of militant ignorance and simply refusing to listen.

    The long-term correlation between CO2 and temperature is extremely high. It’s r = 0.91 (r^2 = 0.82) for 1850-2014 (N = 165). This is the third time I’ve pointed this out to you.

    In short, quit lying. If you mention “the absence of a long term correlation between CO2 and temperature” I will ask the people who run this board to have you relegated to the bore hole.

  18. 118
    sidd says:

    For a rather different take on “locality” there is a nice paper by Francis and Skific this year at the Royal Society:

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2014.0170

    about locality to patterns, not just to geography. But these patterns turn out to be geographically identifiable …

    They use a technique called “self organizing maps” of pressure contours and find the “principal” ones (it’s a neat technique to find them, read the paper) form recognizable patterns:

    “One of the advantages of SOM analysis is that many of the patterns are recognizable to a meteorologist, such as the upper-right corner featuring a distinct ridge/trough/ridge system from western North America across the Atlantic, or the upper-left corner with a familiar ridge/trough couplet over Europe and Asia.”

    Now i was thinking, can we run this on the CMIP5 data and look at how these things change over,say the industrial era. I imagine that the principal features will evolve, but it might be possible to gain some understanding.

    sidd

  19. 119
    Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    The typical voter in the US is still befuddled by concepts like mean and median and mode. It may pain all of the academic-speak/statistically inclined here, but the quotes you give are like the twittering of birds to those otherwise reasonable and worthy citizens.

    True, but the nature of Science is such that there’s a limit to how much you can dumb it down and still make it useful to voters. And few scientists have the communications skills to bridge the gap, even if they were interested in trying.

    Ideally, enough Science would be taught in primary and secondary school that voters would have the necessary understanding upon reaching the age of majority. There’s little hope of that happening in the US, I’m afraid.

    Better, more pervasive science journalism might help, but the supply of people with suitable talent and motivation is also limited (see first paragraph).

    Then there’s the endless flood of disinformation from both professional and volunteer AGW-deniers, drowning out reliable information however well-presented.

    I’ve talked up the need for individual citizens such as yourself, who do understand scientific concepts, to educate as many of their family, friends and neighbors as are willing to listen, at every opportunity.

    Ultimately though, we’re up against the realities of American culture. I don’t know what the solution is. I’m just glad I won’t leave any offspring.

  20. 120
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Jim Eager: you might want to try reading up on Hadley Cell expansion.

    RC: “Why do we care if the Tropics expands? This widening spreads Tropical diseases to new places and drought to the Subtropics, where much of the world’s population lives.”

    “A change in the extent of the Tropics has occurred over the last few decades. The northern edge of the Tropics has shifted northward by an average of 4 degrees while the southern edge has shifted southward by about 6 degrees.”

    “Increased drought is likely in places such as the southwestern United States, the Middle East, and southern Australia. Additionally, tropical diseases such as the mosquito-borne dengue fever are starting to spread poleward, as recent outbreaks in Florida, Portugal and even Russia have been reported.”

    http://sphere.ssec.wisc.edu/20130715/

    I’ve been reading recently that the mideast might become unlivable outside during heatwaves before 2100. Power goes out for one afternoon and who knows how many people die. And then there’s Ramadan and the Hajj. Not drinking water from sunup to sundown during the fast is already killing people.

    Lots of migration. Lots of color and Islam fleeing the tropics and subtropics for the pale Christian north. Lots of ways to hate or embrace Others.

    BPL: Read the paper. I list all the data in an appendix. Why don’t you do your own analysis and show where I’m wrong?

    RC: We went through this already. I gave you clear reasons why your paper was wrong and incomplete. The biggest reason is that if your projections are correct, then your assumption that we won’t geoengineer crumbles. If (90?%) of us are going to fry by (2045?) under your plan and there is a good chance that another plan would save most of us, then duh we’ll geoengineer.

    Last exchange we had was on paleoclimate drought versus your projections, with a focus on mass extinctions. I pointed out that mass extinctions don’t cause a baring of the soil for hundreds of thousands of years, but merely an opportunity for weedy (especially wind-driven) species. I’ve been reading how some of our burned forests are converting to grasslands. Saw one picture with savagely burned tree skeletons filled in completely with tall grass. (Tall grass is an excellent CO2-extractor. It’s what built our best farmland.) Plus, humans exist. If Boston becomes Miami-like weather-wise by 2100, we’ll truck species (especially plants) from Florida to Boston. I, and many others have long planted trees at their range’s northern limits.

    I asked for a paleo-example consistent with your theory. As in all previous exchanges, you went radio-silent. Dude, let’s finish a conversation and get to a conclusion. The ball is in your court. Give one paleo-example where a warming caused a mass extinction which was followed by a dearth of ground cover which broke the water cycle for hundreds of thousands of years until the magic of evolution allowed plants to recolonize the barren land and break the drought, ushering in a new period of lush rainforests…

    And please fill in the blanks:

    “If my paper is right, then there is a ___% chance humans will try geoengineering.”
    “If my paper is right, then there is a ___% chance humans will try to help plants and animals migrate.”

    That will give us a basis for further discussion.

  21. 121
    Victor says:

    #115 Zebra:
    “As I would ask someone like Victor if I had not gone beyond that co-dependency exhibited by some: Give me a simpler explanation that excludes the influence of anthropogenic climate change. That would mean– the ocean temps are somehow independent of or decoupled from (or whatever phrase you like) the effects of CO2. In this universe.”

    I have argued elsewhere that, while Occam’s razor has rarely been invoked in the literature on climate change, it is essentially the same logic that’s convinced so many that CO2 emissions have to be the cause of global warming. Because, after all, isn’t that the simplest explanation? And what else could be causing it?

    And as I have also argued, Occam’s razor did in fact present the most reasonable explanation of the situation we saw from the late 70’s through the end of the 20th century, where CO2 emissions appeared strongly correlated with alarming increases in global temperatures. Thus, during that period, CO2 did seem indeed to be the simplest explanation that accounted for all the evidence. However, during the 21st century the correlation seems to have vanished. While temperatures continue to rise, the year to year increases have been minimal. According to my calculations, based on a graph published by Spencer Weart in Feb. 2015 (https://www.aip.org/history/climate/images/temps_2014.gif), the late 20th century rise that initially concerned so many was approximately 8 times greater than the rise over the last 16 years or so, any “record-breaking” years notwithstanding. Many have argued that 16 years is too brief a period and that we need to look at the “long-term trend.” But as I’ve already demonstrated, there has been no such long-term trend. During almost 40 years out of the last century, temperatures either abated or remained relatively level. The only way to save the theory was to add additional factors or forcings which taken together might account for the discrepancy. Well, they might. The problem is that, without any obvious long term trend, there never was any basis for the CO2 theory to begin with. How it is possible to shore up a theory based purely on assumptions, no matter how “obvious” they might seem?

    Is it possible to come up with a simpler explanation for the fact that it is now significantly warmer than it was 100 years ago? I have no idea. But the lack of such an explanation does not, in itself, constitute proof that any particular explanation is correct. The fact that I can’t explain why thousands of people saw what looked like a flying saucer at some particular time and place does NOT prove the existence of aliens from outer space. According to Occam’s razor the simplest explanation that accounts for all the evidence in both cases is that what appears to many people to be the “obvious” reason must be wrong, and there most likely is some other reason as yet unknown.

  22. 122
    Hank Roberts says:

    as far as I can tell, the usual attempts to explain the absence of a long term correlation between CO2 and temperature …

    Look harder. And don’t start with an assumption you haven’t tested.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&num=100&ie=UTF-8&q=longterm+temperature+climate+forcings

  23. 123
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Jim Eager: How, where and when it is delivered is critical, and it is precisely the predictable and reliable delivery of precipitation where and when it is needed that is in jeopardy as climate changes.

    RC: Humans over the last 10,000 years sure drew the climate-jackpot. I’ve read that big lottery winners often end up destitute…

    Zebra: I would still be interested in a clarification from anyone with the expertise to explain what it would take for them to make a definitive statement about attribution. What, physically, would be happening if climate change is not having an effect on ocean temperature and so on?

    RC: imagine you are playing a game of craps. You hold the dice up to an attractive stranger to blow on for luck. You roll a winner. What are the odds that having the stranger blow caused your win? 100%, along with every win or loss after the blow. Without it, a completely different timeline would evolve. (I’m ignoring overlap-wins) So, the answer is that attribution is a fool’s game. Technically every storm worldwide is attributable to global warming, but the same can be said for every non-stormy day. What we can strive to say is, “Climate change is changing this sort of event’s frequency by ___.”

  24. 124
    Chuck Hughes says:

    THIS is Occam’s principle, NOT just the notion that the simplest explanation is best.

    Comment by Victor — 28 Oct 2015

    You’re about as useful as an ejection seat on a helicopter. Congratulations for dragging the conversation completely away from the original article. And you did it with such panache.

  25. 125
    Hank Roberts says:

    > zebra … relax?

    No, but think.

    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150520/ncomms8182/full/ncomms8182.html

    At present much of the excess forced heat happens to be going mostly into the oceans. The air isn’t warming as fast. That changes the heat engine that makes weather happen.

    How? And how long will those conditions last, where will they persist? And what happens when that changes again?

  26. 126
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Victor — 28 Oct 2015 @ 3:43 PM, ~#113

    Victor, you said- “if we consider the fact that there is no limit to the number of explanations that can be offered for any body of evidence.” The myriad of explanations that don’t explain anything are irrelevant. What is important is how much evidence for a proposition is explained. What William of Ockham actually said was “plurality must never be posited without necessity.” Simplicity is not required while necessary support is. Simplicity comes into play when there are competing explanations, but this is only a rule of thumb because a more complex explanation may actually be the correct one.

    In the last paragraph of your comments at #101, you claim that unexplained temperature changes in the past are a simpler explanation of current global warming than the large body of evidence provided by climate science. This is not a competing explanation because it doesn’t explain any of the current data at all! For the second time, please provide an explanation of recent warming that is simpler and explains more of the global warming evidence than provided by the scientific consensus. Steve

  27. 127
    nigelj says:

    Victor @101. Thanks for your reply. Others have pretty much pointed out the weaknesses in your reply.

    Just remember Occams Razor only says the simplest explanation is often true, not that it is always true. Occams razor is just an observation.

    CO2 is the simplest explanation of all the available explanations for recent climate change. Maybe there is some hidden factor nobody has discovered, but chances are one in a million. Its stupid to gamble the planet on low probabilities like that.

    As to saying the simplest explanation is that climate changed before, this is not an explanation at all.

  28. 128
    Ammonite says:

    An analogy for the vagaries of CO2 and temperature correlation:

    Consider a farm where costs and income are largely in balance. The farm has good seasons and bad and some years it has high expenditures due to equipment upgrade, flood or fire damage, troll clearance… The farm also carries a substantial bank debt and interest on this debt forms a portion of the farm’s running cost. This debt is paid down in profitable years but rises in unprofitable years.

    Now, what would happen to the size of the debt if the bank slowly increases the interest rate each and every year? Given the yearly uncertainties in the farm’s cash flow, debt and interest rate are unlikely to correlate well across twenty year time frames. Given this observation, is it logical to conclude that increasing interest rates have no effect on debt!? How would the debt/interest-rate correlation change if measured across one hundred years instead of twenty?

  29. 129
    CCHolley says:

    I’ve been waiting with bemusement for Victor’s simpler explaination for the warming. If there is such a simpler explaination than the increase in CO2 doing what the science says it will do, trap more heat, then let’s have it. For if there is a “simpler” explaination, it should be enherently obvious should it not? Seems Victor would have us believe that heat energy can be magically created by some yet unknown simple process.

  30. 130
    CCHolley says:

    I wait with bated breath for Victor’s “simpler” explanation for the warming that we have seen. “Simpler” than the increase in CO2 doing what the science says it will do–trap more heat radiated from the surface. Should not a “simpler” explanation be more obvious? What is his alternative theory? Where exactly is that heat coming from? I assume Victor would have us believe that the warming is the result of a magical creation of heat energy because he offers no other possible alternative, only innuendo. Surface temperature increases from natural variability still must have a heat source–period.

  31. 131
    Hank Roberts says:

    Uh, oh. Fast changes do happen.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014PA002756/abstract
    DOI: 10.1002/2014PA002756

  32. 132

    V 121: there has been no such long-term trend.

    BPL: You are either pathologically dense or a deliberate liar. In either case, you don’t belong here. I appeal to the board to take this troll off.

  33. 133

    V 120: “If my paper is right, then there is a ___% chance humans will try geoengineering.” “If my paper is right, then there is a ___% chance humans will try to help plants and animals migrate.”

    BPL: That dragging sound is the sound of goalposts being moved. Neither of your outcomes have anything to do with whether my paper is right or not.

    But your faith that humans, on seeing a problem, will wisely get together to solve it just in time is touching. Maybe things work that way on your planet, but not here. On my planet, a guy named Adolf Hitler published his plan in 1923 to conquer most of Eurasia, destroy democracy, expel or slaughter the Jews, and reduce the Slavs to slaves. Nobody took action against him until 1939, by which time he had destroyed democracy in Germany and taken over Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Poland.

    V: If (90?%) of us are going to fry by (2045?) under your plan and there is a good chance that another plan would save most of us, then duh we’ll geoengineer.

    BPL: Again, your faith is touching. I haven’t advanced a plan. What would you have said, if I said in 2002, “If evidence is clear that global warming will be a global disaster, then duh we’ll stop using fossil fuels.” Have we done that?

    If my paper is right, or if it’s wrong, then there is perhaps a 1% chance humans will try geoengineering. And a 50-50 chance it will help.

    If my paper is right, then there is perhaps a 1% chance humans will try to help plants and animals migrate. And a 50-50 chance it will help.

    There, I answered your jackass questions. Now answer my very simple one: Where in my paper did I make a mistake? Show your work or shut up.

  34. 134
    Edward Greisch says:

    129 Hank Roberts: What does “Lava Creek tephra (631.3 ± 4 ka) from Yellowstone Caldera” have to do with “Santa Barbara Basin, California”? Did the Yellowstone volcano have something to do with the sudden heating? Yellowstone is a super-volcano, but…… What exactly happened? It isn’t adding up.

  35. 135
    Victor says:

    First of all, let me clarify my understanding of Occam’s razor. It’s not about absolute truth, it’s about which explanation is more likely and should therefore be preferred. In Newton’s day there was no test that could determine whether his theory was true and the old Ptolemaic theory of epicycles was false. But his theory was preferred because it was far simpler — i.e., instead of the plurality of epicycles, there was a single principle of universal gravitation. What Newton demonstrated was not that his theory was the only true theory but that it made no sense to anymore take the Ptolemaic theory seriously, because it was so unwieldy in comparison.

    Now I’ll admit it’s true that AGW in its simplest form is the simplest of all the explanations that have thus far been offered for temperature rise, and in that sense it has led many to see it as the most likely.

    Only there is one huge catch. Newton’s theory actually did account very elegantly for just about all the evidence, while AGW requires the adding on of additional complications — e.g., 10 forcings (ala Cook and Hansen), or 3 forcings (ala Rahmstorf) or re-assessments of the data (ala Cowtan and Way, or Karl), or re-assessments of the statistics (ala Tamino), to account for all the evidence, and this sort of thing is NOT what we see in Newton’s theory. Nor is the accumulation of all these different (and mutually inconsistent) factors simple by any means. So from the layman’s point of view AGW does seem like the simplest explanation, but from a scientific point of view that simplicity turns out to be a mirage.

    #126 Steve Fish: “For the second time, please provide an explanation of recent warming that is simpler and explains more of the global warming evidence than provided by the scientific consensus.”

    While AGW may sound like the simplest explanation, it is not simple at all, as it requires a substantial machinery of additional evidence and speculation in order to account for the very serious lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature we see during both the 20th and 21st centuries. This reminds me a lot of those Ptolemaic epicycles.

    If we can agree that there is no causation without correlation (basic scientific principle), then the simplest explanation is that AGW has had little to nothing to do with the rise in temperature between the early 20th century and the early 21st century. Just because no other explanation has been found does NOT mean AGW is necessarily the cause, or even likely to be the cause. Any more than solar flares or undersea volcanoes, for which there is also no correlation.

    As I see it, the conviction that AGW is causing global warming is an illusion produced by the (short term) warming noted during the last 20 years of the last century. The correlation that seemed so obvious during that period now looks a lot like short term “noise.” So a plurality of other factors has been invoked to “explain” the discrepancy. And I have no doubt that something similar could be concocted in support of solar activity or undersea volcanoes, etc. Occam’s razor exists to protect science from this sort of thing, what we might call “explanation inflation.”

    Now this doesn’t mean that the more complex explanations we see in the climate science literature are necessarily wrong. Any more than any of the other explanations (such as solar activity, etc.) are necessarily wrong. It’s just that we have no reason to believe AGW is to be preferred over any of the others.

    In sum: As I see it, the demand for a simpler explanation than AGW is beside the point since AGW isn’t really much of an explanation at all.

    I must add the following:

    The arguments presented above represent the way I see things, OK? This is what I’m trying to get across. I could certainly be wrong. But as climate scientists, I think it’s incumbent on you to take this sort of argument seriously whether it’s correct or simply “hogwash” as you prefer to believe. Because, right or wrong, this is a meaningful argument that needs to be taken seriously, and it’s an argument not essentially different from arguments that have been made by literally thousands of skeptics like myself, many of them physicists, climate scientists,respected scholars, journalists, etc. You can’t counter such arguments with ad hominems and you can’t counter them with the argument from ignorance either (i.e., “If we can’t imagine a better explanation then we have no choice but to accept this one.”)

    Too much is at stake to simply bury one’s head in the sand and refuse to listen to the other side. And that goes for both sides, obviously.

  36. 136

    There is talk of simplicity in the sense of Occam’s Razor.

    What interests me is when science can be simplified. One can hide behind complexity, but with simplicity there’s nowhere to run but straight ahead.

    Here is a case of simplifying complexity.
    http://contextearth.com/2015/10/22/pukites-model-of-the-quasi-biennial-oscillation/qbo_paper/

    Everything is forced and change is not spontaneously arbitrary. Check out the boundary condition that explains where the energy originates to produce one aspect of natural variability.

    Yet this is bounded natural variability and that separates it from a forcing like aGHG.

  37. 137
    zebra says:

    Richard Caldwell and others:

    Let’s imagine we have three (standard sci-fi) parallel universes– A, B, C.

    In A, increasing CO2 has no effect on Earth’s energy balance– maybe it isn’t a greenhouse gas, or there really is a “magic thermostat” that whisks the excess away to space.

    B is our universe, where we have calculated the energy imbalance based on established physical facts and principles, and we are confident enough to predict phenomena through causal chains as I said above– energy, water vapor, yadda yadda downpours and storms.

    In C, we don’t know. We don’t have any opinion about CO2 and energy balance.

    So, there’s an extreme (say rainfall) event on each Earth. The question is: Is this connected to the increase in CO2?

    A: The answer is “Of course not”.

    C: The parsimonious answer is “We can’t rule it out, but no. It happened on Earth A as well, without CO2 effect, so we would need to propose new entities to argue otherwise.”

    B: The parsimonious answer is “Yes, of course. Everything that happens is affected by the energy balance of the atmosphere, and we would have to propose new entities to argue that the established effects of CO2 are being negated.”

    Guys, I’m on your side, but I’ve followed this nigh on three decades, and you are still being sucked in to Victor et al’s Universe C when discussing what’s happening here on EarthB!

    RC, Your analogy is simply wrong. We have no physical reason to expect the blowing on the dice to have an effect.

    Mal Adapted, I think that educating (non-PhD-track) people requires two thing. First, you respect them, and second, and of absolute importance, listen, and understand how they perceive things. The point is to move them along, not require them to become you. Maybe the 90% of the population (with disparate politics) that agrees climate is changing have already used OR, whether consciously or not, when thinking about extreme events. We need to move on.

  38. 138

    #121, Victor–

    OK, let me ‘count the ways’ this is wrong:

    1) “However, during the 21st century the correlation seems to have vanished.”

    No, it hasn’t, for all the reasons explained by Tamino in various posts you yourself have cited–and essentially the same reasons enumerated in the literature by Santer et al, 2011:

    http://muenchow.cms.udel.edu/classes/MAST811/Santer2011.pdf

    2) “But as I’ve already demonstrated, there has been no such long-term trend.”

    No, you haven’t. You’ve asserted it, but that is not the same thing. And it’s hard to reconcile with what you say about “the situation we saw from the late 70’s through the end of the 20th century.”

    3) “…without any obvious long term trend, there never was any basis for the CO2 theory to begin with.”

    Completely false. The theory long pre-existed observations, remember? Tyndall grasped the essentials in 1859; Arrhenius modeled CO2-induced warming on a global scale, by hand calculation, in 1896. It wasn’t until 1938 that Guy Callendar took a look at observations and said, essentially, “Hey, maybe we are actually seeing some signs of this artificial greenhouse warming actually happening!”

    In other words, the theory was not built on a statistical basis, but upon the basis of the understanding of relevant physics. And that basis remains–albeit heavily reinforced by decades of intensive work adding detailed understanding of multiple facets of it.

    http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-In-The-Age-Of-Queen-Victoria
    http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Dawn-Of-Flight
    http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Wars

    4) The crucial question with Occam’s is, ‘what is ‘not too simple?’ You are determined that it constitutes a correlation that is obvious to the eye on short time scales. But nature is not obliged to agree.

    And the ‘hypothesis’ that the mainstream science is wrong is not actually an independent hypothesis–which is what is required under Occam. It’s merely a statement that the mainstream hypothesis is falsifiable.

  39. 139

    Just ‘lost’ an attempted reply to Victor’s #121 to ‘service temporarily unavailable.’ Annoying!

    But to briefly recap, Victor is wrong in 4 specific ways.

    1) No, the temperature-CO2 correlation hasn’t “vanished.” Barton has addressed this mathematically, as have others elsewhere.

    2) Yes, the time scale Victor wants to use is too small, and no, his choice isn’t really defensible. See Santer et al, 2011.

    3) No, the basis for the theory doesn’t ‘vanish’ even if #2 were true, because the core theory existed for several decades before anyone ever even looked to see if the effect was at work in the real world:

    http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-In-The-Age-Of-Queen-Victoria
    http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Dawn-Of-Flight
    http://hubpages.com/education/Global-Warming-Science-And-The-Wars

    IOW, the theory was, and is, based upon physical understanding, not correlation. And it’s noteworthy that as such, it stands as a successful ‘prediction’ writ rather large.

    4) The ‘hypothesis’ that the mainstream is wrong does not constitute a separate hypothesis. It’s just a statement of the falsifiability of the mainstream. As such, Occam’s does not apply to it. IOW, we’re still awaiting a competing explanation which would enable Occam to be applied usefully.

  40. 140

    One more word on Occam (or Ockham; both forms are apparently acceptable.) The whole point of the criterion is to choose between competing models:

    In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic to guide scientists in developing theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models.

    (Wikipedia, citing Hugh G. Gauch, Scientific Method in Practice, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-01708-4, ISBN 978-0-521-01708-4.)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor#Science_and_the_scientific_method

    Thus, to apply Occam is to invoke parsimony in evaluating competing explanations for specific phenomena. If one proposition is in fact *not* an explanation–as in Victor’s case where he attempts to dress up the logical negation of the greenhouse hypothesis as ‘competing’–then that proposition already has failed before we even get to Occam.

    I’m afraid this one really qualifies as an epistemological ‘howler.’

  41. 141
    zebra says:

    Kevin McKinney 136 and 137,

    IOW, the theory was, and is, based upon physical understanding, not correlation.

    Exactly. And that is also true of the proposition that an extreme event that has occurred has been influenced by the chain of causality initiated by the increase of CO2.

    So when scientists respond to a question from a reporter or blogger or TV weather-presenter with a reference to their inability to establish a statistically meaningful correlation, they are (I’m sure inadvertently) reinforcing the exact misunderstanding you attribute to Victor.

    They are not answering the question their audience is asking.

  42. 142
    Hank Roberts says:

    > fast changes …. Edward Greisch … what?

    Tephra there is a stratigraphic marker, useful for accurately dating sediment layers. Tephra travels far from its origin (in that case, Yosemite caldera)

    The point of the paper is the sentence before the mention of tephra:

    the climatic shift during the early deglacial occurred rapidly ([less than] 700 years), in a progression of three abrupt warming steps. The onset of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 15 was remarkably abrupt with 4–5°C sea surface warming in ~50 years.

    Fast.

    I blame the coccolithophores, but that’s just a hunch. Given the extra nitrogen compounds we’re also adding rapidly, could be the cyanobacteria this time.

  43. 143
    Digby Scorgie says:

    Victor, what are you doing at this website? I soon realized that your comments were nonsensical; ever since, I’ve simply ignored anything you’ve had to say. I notice, however, that you have provoked reactions of varying degrees of irritation from other visitors to the website. Is that your purpose?

    You clearly reject climate science, but I wonder which kind of denier you are. There are three possibilities:

    (1) committed deniers
    (2) psychopathic deniers
    (3) scientifically illiterate deniers
    Committed deniers have a worldview or belief system that has no place for climate science. Psychopathic deniers understand the consequences of climate change but are willing to countenance the destruction — in the long term — of the planetary environment (and human civilization with it) simply to maintain their wealth and power in the short term. The illiterates are victims of the propaganda war waged by the other deniers to sabotage climate action — they’ve been caught for suckers.

    Given your outright refusal to learn, I don’t think you are a victim of the propaganda war. I doubt that a psychopathic denier would bother with a website frequented mostly by science-minded people. I conclude therefore that you are probably a committed denier: climate science just does not accord with your worldview.

    I have some final remarks for the above-mentioned “science-minded” people. Why do any of you waste your time with Victor? Committed deniers are a variety of fanatic. As the psychologists have discovered, the more facts you throw at committed deniers, the more tightly they cling to their irrational worldview. One needs to realize that it is futile to attempt to reason with such people.

  44. 144

    Kevin, I agree with that definition. More formally, Occam’s Razor is quantified by applying an information criteria metric such as AIC or BIC. With either of these criteria, models are penalized by having too many free parameters or degrees-of-freedom. The highest possible AIC or BIC score for a given fit occurs when there are no free paremeters — everything is defined by known & quantified physics.

    So when I fit QBO data to my model of lunar forcing above, I essentially have zero parameters apart from scaling, and since the scaling makes no difference to a correlation coefficient, no other model will come close in score for a similar fit. It’s possible that the fit is purely coincidental for the set-in-stone parameters, and that’s where the fun comes in, because it kind of ruins the idea of having an information criteria metric.

  45. 145
    Richard Caldwell says:

    BPL:But your faith that humans, on seeing a problem, will wisely get together to solve it just in time is touching. Maybe things work that way on your planet, but not here. On my planet, a guy named Adolf Hitler…

    RC: …was handily defeated within three years and 5 months. Of course, this time is different, but it is interesting that your example-of-impossibility, of us delaying and ignoring the problem and then solving it at the last moment is exactly your own story of Hitler! I think our Climate Pearl Harbor will be Arctic sea ice melt out. Probably not next year, but perhaps the next El Nino will have enough oomph. In any case, I’m betting that every El Nino from now on will be accompanied by significant coral bleaching.

    As to your paper, we left it with unanswered questions like “How much does precipitation move from interior to coast?” And that’s all sophomoric stuff. Trying to figure out where it will rain and how hard and when, well, a two(?) page paper with nary a model run isn’t nearly enough. And then there’s that Ecocene. You never showed why the last interglacial, which was warmer, didn’t suffer the drought/mass extinction you predict.

    Like I said, we went through your paper and every single point was left in your court. (Of course, I may have missed one or two. Please look.) And dude, a rejected two-page paper could reasonably be called a “blog post”. Given your tenacity, I’m thinking it was rejected, rejected, rejected,…….Now, your paper, even if partially true, would be the Biggest Thing Ever in climate science. Given your status as a reg of reasonable status, it’s probable a couple of the moderators here have perused it. Yet all these folks, every single one, deemed your paper “not interesting enough to publish” and “not interesting enough to comment on in RealClimate”. Dude, your points were pretty clear so I don’t think they “just didn’t get it”.

    Thank you for filling in the blanks. So, we’re following along on your predicted path of 30 years to 90% population adjustment, (and then a continued slide after that?) In ten years droughts start taking significant lives and huge swaths of humanity are starving. By then, the fools who rejected your paper will have come to their senses. Any of the big players, China, Russia, the USA, and the EU/Germany, or a coalition of states could unilaterally begin geo-engineering. The EU will take one stance, so the USA will without a doubt take the opposite. Since Israel, the Arabs, and the small-and-low island nations are all slated first in line for execution, I’m guessing they’ll try. Can you imagine Israel, knowing what we’ll know twenty years from now (that you’re right), would let the Holy Land become uninhabitable outdoors? So, what are the odds that Israel would cobble up a coalition to geo-engineer? (Do you want to change your 1% prediction? Remember, we only need ONE large player to choose to try to not die. So, though I hope we’ll join hands and sing, there is no “we” needed. Somebody’s gonna want to live. Balloons full of sulphur and explosives are cheap. In fact, your prediction requires us to get together and deliberately drink the Kool-Aid. Given that you laughed at us getting together, and given that the survival instinct is the oldest and one of the two strongest instincts, how can you say we’ll all jump off the climate cliff hand-in-hand?)

    As to 1% chance we’ll help plants move, that’s just bad form on your part. We’re already helping and you know it.

    BPL: What would you have said, if I said in 2002, “If evidence is clear that global warming will be a global disaster, then duh we’ll stop using fossil fuels.” Have we done that?

    RC: Corporations, which are usually set up so as to be legally bound to act as psychopaths, are declaring their intention to forthwith become carbon-neutral. They’ve done the math and decided that it’s most profitable to make the transition. So, of course it’s not past tense, but yes, the transition has begun and is accelerating.

    Zebra: RC, Your analogy is simply wrong. We have no physical reason to expect the blowing on the dice to have an effect.

    RC The blowing doesn’t change diddly any more than any other action would. Pausing 1/10 of a second would have the same effect. Weather is like a random number generator which isn’t quite random, but instead is dependent on each result to come up with the next result. Reset the generator and the results are all changed. Thus, if we had emitted CO2 and then absorbed it all, so that CO2 PPM equaled pre-industrial, the fact that we emitted it in the first place would still guarantee that 100% of all storms or not-storms would be conditional on that emission forevermore. Without global warming, Katrina would not have happened. But perhaps in that reality Miami is totaled.

    To Everybody:

    When Victors show up and you note that somebody has adequately answered the initial pile of goop, then playing in the goop is counterproductive. Go take a bath instead.

  46. 146
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Why do any of you waste your time with Victor?

    We don’t waste our time with the 19 of his comments thus far moved to the Bore Hole.

    The rest remain as part of the conversation here.

    Not mine to judge. Go figure.

  47. 147
    nigelj says:

    Victors ranting comes down to claiming that there is some hidden factor causing recent climate change. Some as yet undiscovered energy source that has eluded physics. Of course it has to be a “simple” thing to fit his Occams Razor “test”.

    This seems rather unlikely, and it would have to mimic the effects of CO2, including the various “greenhouse signatures”. I would put chances of that as one in a million at best.

    Come out you hidden energy source wherever you are!

  48. 148

    RC thinks my paper is 2 pages long. Here’s the actual paper, for anyone who wants to read it:

    http://www.ajournal.co.uk/pdfs/BSvolume13(1)/BSVol.13%20(1)%20Article%202.pdf

    To me it looks a lot like an abstract page, 6 pages of single-spaced main text, a full-page table, and 5 pages of references. I don’t know whether, in Richard’s world, 2 = 6 or 2 = 13, but in either case, I think he needs to review either the mathematics of different bases, or the conventions of typesetting.

    And of course, once again, he resolutely refuses to address the strength of the argument per se. I’m guessing because he can’t handle the math.

  49. 149
    zebra says:

    Richard Caldwell 145,

    Weather is like a random number generator…

    We appreciate your application, but you will not be joining the “Improving Communication In Climate Science Working Group” any time soon.

  50. 150

    “RC thinks my paper is 2 pages long. “

    Nothing wrong with a paper 2 pages long. Here is mine that I am shopping around, less than 2 pages

    http://contextearth.com/2015/10/22/pukites-model-of-the-quasi-biennial-oscillation/qbo_paper/

    No free parameters to explain, so you can make your point without a lot of verbiage.