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Cracking the Climate Change Case

I have an op-ed in the New York Times this week:

How Scientists Cracked the Climate Change Case
The biggest crime scene on the planet is the planet. We know the earth is warming, but who or what is causing it?
Emilia Miękisz

Many of you will recognise the metaphor from previous Realclimate pieces (this is earliest one I think, from 2007), and indeed, the working title was “CSI: Planet Earth”. The process description and conclusions are drawn from multiple sources on the attribution of recent climate trends (here, here etc.), as well the data visualization for surface temperature trends at Bloomberg News.

There have been many comments about this on Twitter – most appreciative, some expected, and a few interesting. The expected criticisms come from people who mostly appear not to have read the piece at all (“Climate has changed before!” – a claim that no-one disputes), and a lot of pointless counter-arguments by assertion. Of the more interesting comment threads, was one started by Ted Nordhaus who asked

My response is basically that it might be old hat for him (and maybe many readers here), but I am constantly surprised at the number of people – even those concerned about climate – who are unaware of how we do attribution and how solid the science behind the IPCC statements is. And judging by many of the comments, it certainly isn’t the case that these pieces are only read by the already convinced. But asking how many people are helped to be persuaded by articles like this is a valid question, and I don’t really know the answer. Anyone?

98 Responses to “Cracking the Climate Change Case”

  1. 1
    Francis Ludlow says:

    Hello!

    Is there a source attribution I can cite for the nice graphic in this post, i.e. of the human vs. natural drivers?

    All best wishes,

    Francis

  2. 2
    Lance Olsen says:

    There may be no decisive way to know how many people are helped by articles like this one. Probably more important, this article is one of many that have attempted to help people understand the science behind climate change, and the good cause of increased understanding needs all the voices it can get.

    I was disappointed that this article didn’t mention one of the most interesting predictions in the long history of climate science: in 1896, using what must be the crudest model in the history of climate science, Arhennius found that continued combustion of fossil fuels would one day lead to literal meltdown of ice and snow. But nobody gets to say it all at once, and what Gavin said needed saying

  3. 3

    I’m not sure articles like persuade anyone who was skeptical, but I think by filling in the gaps in knowledge of the people who are already fairly convinced, they help strengthen people’s commitment to doing something about it.

    An analogy with hurricanes and climate change is apt: hurricanes aren’t caused by climate change, but climate change will affect them all at least a little bit, and will make some much stronger than they otherwise might be.

    Great article by the way!

  4. 4
    Larry Gilman says:

    While we’re slinging master metaphors, here’s another: climate of opinion. To that climate’s state, every conversation, editorial, or Facebook post is a minute contribution. Personal changes of opinion are, like weather events, shifted in frequency and type by the climate of opinion’s state but are not attributable to it in a simplistic one-on-one way, much less to particular emissive events, e.g., editorials. But the cumulative effect is real.

    The question “Aren’t you just preaching to the choir?” (of which Nordhaus’s inquiry is a polite form) sounds streetwise but is actually naive. It assumes that opinions change in response to discrete discursive events: Unbeliever hears reasonable argument, changes mind. On this model, arguments that don’t make it to the eyes or ears of unbelievers are a waste of breath. Worse, they’re futile even if they do get heard because unbelievers don’t listen even when they hear. Conclusion: sit down and shut up.

    In reality, while on-the-spot wins with individual people are rare, it doesn’t matter because that is not how belief works. By writing an editorial, arguing civilly with a friend, or the like, one is adding one more input. One is shifting the climate slightly. That the process is cumulative and stochastic does not make it less real.

    As with climate studies that elide human drivers, imagine the climate of opinion _without_ all the science-advocating editorials, conversations, appeals to fact and reason, efforts to communicate, persuade, explain. If we all had shut up and sat down from the very beginning — refused to “preach” — how would things look now? The same, better . . . worse? Much worse, I think.

    Keep on communicating.

  5. 5
    Mark A. York says:

    Well, given we still hear the same tired arguments against us as knowing anything I would say keep driving the point home. Should help anyone who comes along wanting proof.

  6. 6
    Ed Davies says:

    There are many people who accept that global warming is happening, it’s us, etc, but are hazy on the details. What articles like yours can do is help fill in those details so they’re better equipped to have constructive discussions with the deniers. They probably won’t persuade the actual deniers but having specific arguments to hand will likely help persuade bystanders who are genuinely confused as who to listen to.

    RealClimate’s contribution is similar at a greater level of detail, of course.

  7. 7
    zebra says:

    So, we are talking about the hypothetical “neutral” or “objective” reader, not influenced by tribal affiliation, correct? I would then say that your approach is overly defensive.

    Some version of this…

    Even more convincingly, these trends aren’t just being attributed in hindsight. The rate of surface warming was predicted in the 1980s, the cooling in the upper atmosphere was forecast in a 1967 scientific paper, and specific measurements from space indicate that the total greenhouse effect has been enhanced exactly as theory would predict.

    …should be your first paragraph, not buried towards the end, and you should place the emphasis on the fact of the observations validating the long-standing theoretical basis for concern. It just isn’t the case that “someone noticed all the changes and then decided to start looking for a cause”, so why do you imply that??

    Your approach simply enables the endlessly-moving-goalpost strategy of those opposed to any action. No actually objective individual would be unconvinced by a clear statement of the physics involved, which is settled science. Why this is so difficult for the scientific community to communicate is beyond me. Maybe some “sociology of science” expert has an idea?

  8. 8
    Timothy Havard says:

    Sadly the climate science community is naive. What is patently obvious to the Climate change cognoscenti – a subset within the so called science community anyway – is double-dutch to the “public” especially when continuously mislead by The Press, political figures and possibly well-meaning subgroups with a specific narrow agenda or an axe to grind. As a significantly large proportion of the population has no comprehension of basic biology, chemistry and physics and thus no ability utilize such knowledge ;which is essential if the fundamentals of Climate change are to be understood, its a bit of an uphill task. An overview of some of the daft things students – who should have a basic grasp of science even art students – bring to the table and the task looms large. Having carried out agricultural adult education training programmes in so called third world countries we need to reduce the science to a form of comic strip where every day events -understood by all – are shown by the hero to be causing a problem and get it out to schools and educational institutions.

  9. 9
    CCHolley says:

    How many people are helped to be persuaded by articles like this?

    Probably not very many. At least not initially.

    However, I believe imho that such articles are extremely important and I applaud Gavin for this well written piece. One article won’t cut it, though. More of them are needed. A lot more. Why? There are two problems as I see it.

    One is that there are not enough articles like this one in mainstream media so people are mostly left to depend on internet trash as the source of their information on the science. The science needs to be seen as a matter of fact and not something that is actually debated in the scientific community, something that Gavin has done well here. But one article from one prominent scientist does not necessarily resonate with people. More of them are needed. Unfortunately, people need repetition and reinforcement from multiple sources. Because of this, many more scientists need to speak out publicly about the science. Something, unfortunately, many scientists are unwilling to do.

    Secondly, a problem as massive as AGW that demands action NOW, just plain needs to be put in front of people constantly. Otherwise, why would people see the issue as important? They won’t and they don’t. Of course, It will take more than just scientists speaking out to make this happen, but scientists can certainly help drive the narrative.

    Many thanks goes to Gavin for the NYT article and all that he has done to help educate the public, this site included. That thanks also goes to all of the rest of the RealClimate team. Please keep it up!

  10. 10
    Mitch says:

    Good to see that a reiteration of the evidence for human-induced warming mostly through CO2. Finally we are seeing the case reach the media. Although this isn’t cutting edge for science, most of the US has not paid attention.

  11. 11

    Thanks so much for RealClimate! I get much from the NYTimes, but too often – after 10 articles,(and 3 browsers) I’m rudely reminded that the Times is a pay site — as are so many other worthy information sources. The less wealthy readers are excluded from reading subscription news. Was that the intent of NYTimes business model, which aims for the affluent consumer?

    Please excuse my grousing, but I notice the trend for all news and information media is to charge monthly fees. So the Atlantic, the New Yorker, the Boston Globe, LA Times, Rolling Stone…all with lots of global warming content. What is the grand total for a seriously committed reader? Let’s say many hundreds of dollars a year, and just for text. Plus donations to the Guardian and others. Quite a hit. It’s almost like this is cable TV packaging for digital news. The general audience may instead move on to budget for Netflix and HBO and individual content rental. Now we have closed consumer universe that need not ever be exposed to ‘inconvenient’ subjects. Because we can now pay for only what we want to read. Cultural denialism by media marketing.

    This may go far in answering your question. Yes, those of us who can afford to be well informed, are so. Or can be. Otherwise, now that most all broadcast access is paid monthly, the only mass medium left for those who cannot pay is radio broadcast. It may not be intentional, but this is a de facto “control of messages”. Namely selling the consumer what they want, and nothing more. (It is intentional, in that most radio stations are owned by media conglomerates)

    Eventually, all media will be dominated by the issue most important to the survival of our civilization. Or survival of our species. Not yet. Until then, sports, and entertainment fills our discretionary time. We are playing a dangerous zero-sum-game of information chicken. And I’m not sure how much deliberate change we can effect in this structure.

    Till then, RealClimate fills a real need. Thank you again.

  12. 12
    Tom Adams says:

    Good idea to frame it as a whodunit. That might get a wider audience. I think that idea should be developed more. Who will play you in the movie? Who’s the star? Hanson?

    Also, climate denial has migrated away from denying climate change to denying that man-made climate change is important. So it’s appropriate to now focus in on whodunit. Worth a try as a communications strategy, at least.

  13. 13
    Victor Grauer says:

    Interesting. The point at which the lines begin to diverge isn’t until roughly 1979, with the divergence continuing only up to roughly the year 2000, at which point the “hiatus” kicks in. Sorry, Gavin, but no matter how you slice it, the whole AGW paradigm is based on what happened during a more or less 20 year period at the end of the 20th century. Not exactly “long-term.”

  14. 14
    Tony Noerpel says:

    Hi Gavin

    Psychologists Dunning and Kruger observed that people often overestimate their knowledge, a form of self-deception. Sometimes harmless but it does lead to bad eye witness testimony. Fox and Friends all stylize themselves as experts on climate physics. There is a flip side to the Dunning-Kruger Effect where actual experts often assume everybody else knows what they know. As an RF engineer I assume everybody knows that their smart phone is a radio and am often surprised to find out many people don’t actually know that. Anyway, climate scientists like yourself really do need to constantly communicate your science as it is important. I know climate activists who don’t know what a carbon budget is. Anyway, keep up the good work. We all need all the help you folks give us. Thanks

  15. 15
    John Huberty says:

    Seems to me, Fourier and Arrhenius, in the late 19 century, (Thanks David Archer) defined the phenomenon quite well. Granted they did not understand the kinetics and residence times of GHG’s and other data but their science is the only logical explimation for what we are currently experiencing. So what exactly was cracked?

  16. 16
    nigelj says:

    Your well written op-ed will clearly help persuade some people, because facts obviously convince some people, and the history of other scientific issues shows the vast majority of people do gradually accept new science. There are a lot of people who are just fence sitters, and they need time and information.

    But its not going to convince everyone. There are a lot of climate science denalists even after a couple of decades of scientific discussion, and so it looks like their views are very fixed, and are driven by politics and psychological issues that are hard to shift.

    Look at the history of new scientific ideas and there always seems to be a hard core of doubters remaining even after many decades, and usually of about 10 – 20% of the population. It’s hard to see why climate change science would be different. So I would guess you can help persuade about 80% of the population globally, although it will be hard to get even that number in America because its all become politically tribal and so rigidly fixed.

    But we dont need 100% acceptance of the science for effective policies to reduce emissions. It would still obviously help to convince as many as possible.

  17. 17
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Well written article, but there were no explanations of how CC works. Example: it said the upper atmosphere is cooler, but did not say why – most here know why, but the average reader will not know. I think if you want to convince people about CC, an entire series of articles in the newspaper covering the science in greater detail would be helpful. A youtube video or PBS presentation on it would be good too.

    A major newspaper here in the Pacific Northwest ran a series of articles for many months on marijuana, all written by their pot-head-in-chief I suspect. :) Something like that on CC might convince folks who are unsure about the science.

    Finally getting some cool temps in Barrow now. Forecast lows for Monday, Tue, and Wed are 9, 0 and -2 deg F.

  18. 18
    Donald Condliffe says:

    I think that chipping away at ignorance as the Op Ed does is useful. However to get a mass opinion change and to persuade a majority to change their lifestyles and vote to spend their money to solve a problem, that takes in your face climate change disasters to happen, not just be forecast. And having several destructive storms hit the US recently is not a big enough disaster. Especially since trillions of dollars of revenue to oil and natural gas producers provide means and motive for disinformation to undermine the message from Real Climate and other sources. Therefore I do not expect rational science based policies any time soon in the USA and I do expect ‘Business as Usual’ to continue for years to come.

  19. 19
    Alvin says:

    Hi Gavin,

    Asking who is helped/persuaded by this article is really another way of asking, was my effort worthwhile? The answer to that question comes back to the basics of comms 101 and the first question you must ask with any piece of communication. What is the change I want to bring about (and where does this fit in that goal)?

    That then leads to the next question, which audience can best influence the change I want to make at this time?

    I think Anna Rose who founded the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and now heads up Farmers for Climate Action also made a salient point when she talked how you cannot shift the extremist positions in a debate (in our case the climate change deniers and the climate change evangelists) but you can shift the middle – those who are not sure, those who haven’t made looking at climate a priority and those who don’t understand the science.

    It’s the middle swinging ground that matters, which is why politicians focus on that area in most elections. Swinging voters generally decide elections, not the those rusted on to one party or another.

    So, this is a great article that puts forward a point that needs to be reiterated. It fits perfectly in helping that middle ground understand how we know what causes climate change and gives ammunition to those who actively engage in these discussions.

    But the venue is the New York Times, a left leaning audience that generally buys into the science of climate change already. It’s likely to be shared to others with the same leanings. Maybe this article could have hit an audience where you could have even more influence. Again, it depends on the your aim with this article and what your long term goal is for climate comms.

    As part of considering where you want your influence to be felt you need to be guided by what kind of communication motivates change. After meeting you in Sydney, I know this next section of my comment is probably like telling grandma how to suck eggs, but it may be useful for some others who are here, judging by the comments above.

    Comms research tells us that more information is generally not the answer unless someone is coming to a subject for the first time. The idea that more information changes attitude – known as the information deficit model (fill them up with knowledge and they will be struck by a revelation) – is flawed. Sadly, it is one scientists attempt nearly every time.

    So what do we know that does inspire action?

    We know emotions matter most of all. They trump facts every.single.time.

    We know individual stories are more important than statistics.

    We know that the speaker must be trusted by the audience.

    We know that you must understand how your audience perceives themselves. Understanding how they perceive themselves is more important than talking to who they really are. Trump is a master of this. Most politicians are not. He talks to the audience’s self perception, not its reality. If you touch on that self perception and speak the language of your audience you get cut-through without fail.

    We know people really engage if they feel they can make things better for an individual rather than the masses afflicted by a seemingly insurmountable problem. With an individual they feel like they have the power to make a positive difference. Nicholas Kristof’s classic communications article from 2009 really highlights this. You can find it here – https://www.outsideonline.com/1909636/nicholas-kristofs-advice-saving-world

    We know that we reach people best when we start from a common point of view and then extend out from that. A really good business example of this is how Apple stole a big chunk of the Microsoft audience with portable music (ipod then iphone) which everybody wanted regardless of the hardware or software they used. This activated a huge majority who weren’t attached to one technology and became a gateway for a big audience to buy into the Apple ecosystem.

    We also know a consistent narrative structure across a campaign based on a clearly enunciated, measurable goal is vital (See Randy Olsen’s impressive work on the “and, but, therefore” structure in this area). It’s important to note this about the narrative framework underlying a comms campaign, not a single story. They are two very different things.

    Then of course there are all the little comms details you pick up over time.

    But through all this, everything in comms must “always” come back to the single most important question that has to be asked every time you communicate – what do you want to change?

    I think by answering that questions yourself, you will be able to answer Ted’s question about whether this was the right audience and your own subliminal question, was my effort worthwhile?

  20. 20

    REQUEST FOR BEST REFERENCE to support: “Increasing CO2 Causes Global Warming?”

    I have been urging ASCE to strengthen their policy statement on Greenhouse Gases by adding a supporting reference, which is needed by project engineers who must justify the extra project costs for CO2 control.

    https://www.asce.org/issues-and-advocacy/public-policy/policy-statement-488—greenhouse-gases/

    I am requesting assistance to identify a solid technical reference (not a “consensus” report, but actual scientific research) to support the statement that
    “increasing atmospheric CO2 causes global warming?”

    My preliminary search indicates that the necessary information to convince a responsible scientist (the key reference documenting the scientific method used) is missing from all the main communication sources, such as the AAAS letters to Congress, the IPCC reports, the US EPA “endangerment finding”, as well as climate science educational and consensus reports. But perhaps I have somehow missed finding it, so I am asking others to help search.

    The appropriate reference I am seeking would:
    * be professionally published actual research (so not a student tutorial, not a website or video or literature summary)
    * would specifically address the question (hypothesis): Increasing CO2 causes global warming?
    * clearly show the research steps (method) leading from the hypothesis to the conclusion, and
    * the published paper would be independently peer reviewed.

    I appreciate any suggestions you may have for this published paper. It would help if you could please briefly describe what method was used within the paper to “prove” or otherwise demonstrate that CO2 causes warming. I would wish to find, for example, the published results from a microcosm experiment, or perhaps a statistical analysis of the ice core record to show that CO2 had some actual effect on temperature as opposed to just being a response, or some other valid method for testing the hypothesis (not including results from non-verified models). But I think that no funding agency (NSF, EPA, NOAA, DOE) ever issued an RFP for the basic science, a formal test of the hypothesis, to be done…so the proper reference may not exist.

    If found, a strong reference would be helpful to the engineering community as they go forward with new sustainable infrastructure projects. Thank you for considering this question, and for any assistance you can provide.

  21. 21
    Fergus Brown says:

    The Global communication network these days is vast and many-headed, and feeds upon itself. Spend a small amount of time on Quora or Medium and you can clearly see the ‘genuinely confused’ amongst the group. It’s worth remembering that Quora still sends innocent enquiries straight to WUWT – there must be influential counter-voices.
    Whilst there is considerably more uncertainty amongst the US public than pretty much anywhere else we know about, young people in particular deserve to be helped to a better understanding of what is the defining problem of our times. This is best served by reasonable, simple and coherent responses to questions which we have to assume are genuine (its easy to spot the shill/bait); in short, it is dangerous to think that there are only two choirs in this show and one is singing to one or the other – there are still plenty of uncertain, enquiring minds who aggregate their own personal questions and answers and develop a feeling for what may or may not be true.
    That is your audience, and yes, communicating matters.

  22. 22
    zebra says:

    #14 Tony Noerpel,

    You should break it down a bit more.

    Every successful teacher has (often painfully) had to learn what you said– that the student operates in a different cognitive, conceptual, and informational context than the teacher does.

    But this isn’t properly called the “reverse DK effect”; in fact, that phenomenon is best described as “the more you know, the less you think you know”.

    The problem here is that even if someone recognizes that the public (the student) operates in some different cognitive context, there is no guarantee that the high-level scientist (the teacher) has any correct understanding of how to manipulate that cognition.

    So, we get lots of valiant attempts, but there is some actual DK going on, because the scientist may think he/she knows more about what will “get through” than those who have actual expertise and experience.

  23. 23
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Weaktor,
    Just curious. In your alternative universe, what color are the lines on the graph?

  24. 24
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    Especially for us working with education this stuff is very helpful and important. Keep it coming!

  25. 25

    REQUEST FOR BEST REFERENCE to support: “Increasing CO2 Causes Global Warming?”

    I have been urging ASCE to strengthen their policy statement on Greenhouse Gases by adding a supporting reference, which is needed by project engineers who must justify the extra project costs for CO2 control.​

    https://www.asce.org/issues-and-advocacy/public-policy/policy-statement-488—greenhouse-gases/​

    I am requesting assistance to identify a solid technical reference (not a “consensus” report, but actual scientific research) to support the statement that ​
    “increasing atmospheric CO2 causes global warming?”​

    My preliminary search indicates that the necessary information to convince a responsible scientist (the key reference documenting the scientific method used) is missing from all the main communication sources, such as the AAAS letters to Congress, the IPCC reports, the US EPA “endangerment finding”, as well as climate science educational and consensus reports. But perhaps I have somehow missed finding it, so I am asking others to help search.​

    The appropriate reference I am seeking would:​
    * be professionally published actual research (so not a student tutorial, not a website or video or literature summary)​
    * would specifically address the question (hypothesis): Increasing CO2 causes global warming?​
    * clearly show the research steps (method) leading from the hypothesis to the conclusion, and​
    * the published paper would be independently peer reviewed.​

    I appreciate any suggestions you may have for this published paper. It would help if you could please briefly describe what method was used within the paper to “prove” or otherwise demonstrate that CO2 causes warming. I would wish to find, for example, the published results from a microcosm experiment, or perhaps a statistical analysis of the ice core record to show that CO2 had some actual effect on temperature as opposed to just being a response, or some other valid method for testing the hypothesis (not including results from non-verified models). But I think that no funding agency (NSF, EPA, NOAA, DOE) ever issued an RFP for the basic science, a formal test of the hypothesis, to be done…so the proper reference may not exist.​

    If found, a strong reference would be helpful to the engineering community as they go forward with new sustainable infrastructure projects. Thank you for considering this question, and for any assistance you can provide.

  26. 26
    Jeremy Grimm says:

    Is it important to convince people that humankind is causing Climate Disruption? Suppose Climate Disruption were primarily occurring in response to natural drivers. If we could convince someone that CO2 levels in the atmosphere drive warming isn’t that sufficient as an argument [I know it isn’t sufficient rhetorically]? Any fool knows you don’t throw fuel on the fire burning down your house — whether an arsonist or a lightning strike started the fire. If your house is burning down you don’t worry about how the fire started before you start moving your family out and grab the dog. I believe the die hard climate change deniers are not willing to accept any argument contrary to their beliefs because rational argument does not allay the fears they feel — that we all feel toward the coming changes. Who does not fear the changes that are too soon upon us changing our world, our ways of life, our future

  27. 27
    Dennis N Horne says:

    Does increasing CO2 cause global warming?

    Abstract. A planet was found that was naturally cooling slowly. The level of CO2 was increased rapidly from 280 to over 405ppm, a 45% increase. The mean global surface temperature was found to increase abruptly; the oceans warmed, expanding and melting ice, both contributing to sea level rise, and increasing the intensity of hurricanes. Weather patterns changed with more severe droughts, floods, fires.

    Although the 70,000 scientists publishing 60,000 papers per year, science endorsed by the Royal Society, National Academy of Scientists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Physical Society, American Chemical Society etc etc etc representing 8,000,000 research scientists concluded the evidence was overwhelming, the politicians decided the science was not totally, absolutely, incontrovertibly and unequivocally irrefutable so the experiment should continue.

  28. 28
    David B. Benson says:

    Kathryn Hatcher @25 — The foundational work was done so long ago that it has now been reprinted. I suggest “The Global Warming Papers” edited by Archer & Pierrehumbert.

  29. 29
    Carbomontanus says:

    Hr Schmidt

    I was at the Department of pharmacology and Court or laws- toxicology for a while. Their main business was to state proof of / falsify drunked driving. But also of eventual Arsenic and old lace. And learnt a lot of how to examine and state proof that will stand to Court and elsewhere in life.

    Next wednesday, I will visit the climate- surrealists “Klimarealistene.no” at Pelles Pizza in Oslo. They worship on every last wednesday each month.

    A main rule is that if the Word “Nitric Acid” is deeply feared and fought when they discuss and try and sell Gold, then you ought to suspect ADVLTERARE.

    My father, dentist during the war and had to buy gold on the free market, told me of that. Most People just got a long mask and realized that they had been cheated, when their “gold” did dissolve under nitric acid. But some quite special People got angry and began to blame and to fight the proper dentist With his tiny drop of nitric acid for gold and alloy examination.

    I have followed that rule. “Look here.. it is Gold, Pure Gold.. it is glaring… …furiously cheap..”

    I answer: “Oh , is it gold? … but you see, I never buy gold on the free market without having a tiny flask of nitric acid With me..!”

    Once behind the barn on the italian Autostrada…. he got mad…and further in Our local tavern, I was again offered gold furiously cheap. I said: “I am a chemist and never buy gold on the free market without having a tiny flask of nitric acid With me. But I live Next door and can run home and get it!”

    He started to teach loudly all around the room, that Gold has got absolutely nothing to do with nitric acid and with chemistery. Instead, it takes true Professionals “FAAAAAAAGFOLK!” to discuss and to judge gold.

    On that spot, I learnt what the word “PROFESSIONALS!” does mean.

    SIR Isaac Newton was instructed by Robert Boyle, to take the experts to Court on behalf of The Royal Mint and ask the His Honour to state proof by warrant in Law and examination for open doors, of the experts rights and duties.

    Their duty to arrive in person at the Tower, and the right to make a free choise there between rope and chopping goof.

    If the experts claimed that they were above such ridiculous free choises in the grades, His Honour could state proof, still by warrant in Law, of their right to carry a sword.

    And thus secure the Kingdoms best sword fighter in position for Lifetime inside of The Tower, and the nextbest as Food for the ravens, still on Tower.

    Today, some People find this bloody cruel. But it was habit of those days. And I find it even more cruel to drive good Citizens and peasants from farm and ground and out into black misery just With brass.

    However, this is why SIR Isaac wore a Wig. Not because he had got an apple on his head but because he often had to step up in Court on behalf of The Royal Mint. And further in order to scare the experts on the street allready.

    Surrealists and racketeers can often be identified systematically as those who fear quite deeply, and fight by deep Instinct and routine, certain very fameous facultary formulas and Methods on how to find out for sure.

    Last month at the surrealists, “Prof!” emeritus Solheim got mad and shouted loudly and began to teach by the Word of “Dis- continous absorption spectra of atmospheric gases”.

    The delinquent teenager, you see. Just like those traders of obscure gold.

    They plan to re- cycle Gerlich and Tscheuchners “falsification of atmospheric CO2” from 2008. That rules out the Law of Conservation of energy and all knowledge of molecular spectrophotometry. Together Violence to the Faculty and to civilized technical Methods and People.

    Thus, making a “case” out of the Whole situation may be fruitful.

  30. 30
    Adam Lea says:

    18: “However to get a mass opinion change and to persuade a majority to change their lifestyles and vote to spend their money to solve a problem, that takes in your face climate change disasters to happen, not just be forecast.”

    Yes this is true, and the problem is that no one weather disaster can be attributed to climate change directly. You cannot say, for example, that without warming, hurricane Michael wouldn’t have happened. What climate change does is shift the weather distribution to more extreme and/or more frequent meteorological hazards. This won’t necessarily be apparent in the observational data for many decades (you are dealing with statistics of small numbers, extremes by definition don’t happen very often). By the time it becomes apparent and undeniable enough to the general public that governments will be forced to change the system, it is too late. It therefore becomes an issue of making decisions in the face of risk and uncertainty. If we are very lucky, there may not be many bad consequences. If we are very unlucky, it will be devestating. Therefore we should be taking action now to minimise the chance of the very unlucky scenario happening, whilst hoping our action will be enough to shift us toward the very lucky scenario. It is like taking insurance out for a very expensive item you own. Paying for insurance is a long term financial loser on average, you are most likely to be better off putting the insurance premium in a savings account and paying out if your expensive item gets damaged/stolen, but if you will likely never have the funds to replace the expensive item, insurance means you pay a small amount of money every year to guard against the unlikely, but not impossible situation you lose your expensive item and cannot replace it. We should be approaching the climate change issue in a similar way, pay a small to moderate amount now to minimise the probability of catastrophe decades from now. The difference here is that the probability of climate-change/unsustainability related very bad things happening is a lot more likely than my house burning down or my expensive bicycle getting stolen.

  31. 31
    Racetrack Playa says:

    For the general public, I’ve always thought that making things more general by discussing planetary science is the way to go. Physical models explain the surface climates of Venus, the Earth and Mars, in terms of their atmospheric composition and distance from the Sun. It’s not much of a logical leap from there to discuss how changing the composition of the atmosphere by adding large percentages of CO2 and methane, primarily, can drive an increase in surface temperature. For earth, one has to include the water vapor feedback, but the notion that warmer air holds more moisture is commonsense for the non-scientist population, I think. Explaining how changed surface temperature (and a warmer wetter atmosphere) can drive regional climate change and extreme weather events is perhaps more complicated, but again, this is pretty straightforward.

    The real problem seems to be that even people who are convinced of the reality of (primarily fossil-fuel driven) global warming and associated climate change don’t seem to have the political and economic power to change the course of events. As far as I can tell, every region of the planet with fossil fue reserves has political leaders and business interests dedicated to exploiting those resources to drive local economic growth and wealth accumulation. Liberal Jerry Brown in California, who says climate science is reliable and we need to take action, has also backed expanded fracking in California and has tried to bring coal-fired electricity into the state as part of a ‘regional power grid’, which has the direct effect of slowing the replacement rate of fossil fuels by solar and wind power.

    So what if you do convince people that the science is real and reliable, and they say, well, OK, but we’ll just have to live with the effects since we can’t give up fossil fuels, too many people rely on those cash flows and it would turn the whole economic order on its head to transition to renewable energy on the needed scale (i.e., global fossil fuel infrastructure today is estimated to have cost some $10 trillion or so to construct, and a similar outlay would be needed to replace it all with solar/wind/storage systems)? Not only that, major global investors would have to write off hundreds of billions of dollars in future payouts from fossil fuel investments made today – so, okay, they believe in the reality of climate science, but don’t want to upset their economic apple cart.

    That seems to be the problem today – climate scientists are like epidemiologists charting the course of an epidemic of infectious disease, but the political and economic leadership has no interest in curbing the epidemic, since the costs for them are just too high in the short term.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    Steven Emmerson says:

    Kathryn Hatcher@25, Chapter 8 of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, “Anthropogenic and Natural Radiative Forcing”. Ten pages of references start on page 721.

  34. 34

    VG 13: the whole AGW paradigm is based on what happened during a more or less 20 year period at the end of the 20th century.

    BPL: No, it is not. It is based on radiation physics, starting with a paper predicting the situation which was published in 1896. Don’t talk about a subject you’re not familiar with, familiarize yourself with it first. Then you won’t be shoving your ignorance in people’s faces.

  35. 35
    same ordinary fool says:

    The Critical Path lies in convincing non-believers and deniers and their politicians.
    We believers want to be informed, but will mostly be only on-lookers, until the focus advances to the discussion of remedies.

    The nonbelievers first response, and the denier’s last stand, is that climate is always changing. That it is cyclical.

    But this can be easily, and very effectively countered.,,,,,A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words…..the visuals exist…..we should use them….maybe two graphs side by side, simplified and highlighted.

    On the Right….The NASA global Land Ocean Temperature Index graph, with its 5 year smoothing.
    On the Left…..A 2000 year hockey stick with whatever adjustments to get the same vertical temperature scale.
    And with recent warming (1950 or 1978) highlighted in red on both graphs.
    A one word text would be sufficient: “Cycles?”.

    For the intended audience there is an available intermediate reference. Wikipedia’s article, “Global Temperature Record”, that includes both graphs.

  36. 36
    Jon Kirwan says:

    I read the article. I found it far too “hand-wavy.” Far, far too hand-wavy. But then, I’m not very savvy about how to communicate to the masses. (I have take a class or two on the specific topic of communication climate science to the public, though.) So this might very well be the right kind of thing in the right kind of place. What do I know?

    Finding the right balance for communication to the public isn’t my expertise. But the article “bothered me” for its lack of detail and references. I also get that the point isn’t about providing those references, but instead more about just saying where things are at (should anyone care.)

    I suspect what will matter to US citizens (and by this I mean garnering a broad base of readers who actually read the article rather than skipping over it) is when the discussion hits their own back-yards. If it doesn’t directly affect them… tomorrow or the next day…. then they will just skip over it. This means we cannot talk about Bangladesh (to US consumers of the media.) It means we have to talk about what’s happening in the back yards of people here in the US, right now.

    Of course, I think none of that matters. It will be far far too late by then to make meaningful changes with a chance to impact things in an important and timely way. So I think the whole idea is a wash. I think we will fail and do far too little far too late for our grandchildren and their children. But that’s probably just me.

    Oh, well.

  37. 37
    Ron R. says:

    Thinking about your article and question posed. The first thing I’d do is answer like those WTF answers for questions about products on Amazon: “I don’t know”. Then why the heck did you bother??

    Anyway, I’ll try. Seems to me this issue, and others like it, and it’s solving, is so fraught with unsolvable issues on the periphery as to be nearly impossible. First, one assumes that people are actually open to being convinced. But though you’d think that that is (or should) always be the case, it’s just not, especially in this day and age of daily baldfaced lying by those on power, and it’s easy accommodation by large segments of society. How do you overcome that? So long as they get what they want, some people’s ethics are quite situational.

    Next, there’s the issue of democracy. Sure, it’s a noble aspiration, and one would hope always the go-to. But at some point you have to ask yourself, is this really the best way to govern? The problem is that those deciding the issues and their representatives, that’s everybody, come from every possible persuasion, IQ and EQ levels. An amusing clip from Men In Black. Edgar opining on humanity, which might be viewed as “elitist” by some, but which, in the long run may prove to have been true.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=62xShTNJXSw

    Another related.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EdD64OZsdno

    So the fate of the world and the other 10,000,000 or so species on it, rests with such as us. Democracy is wonderful most of the time; but when presented with EL events, maybe not the best answer. And there’s precedent for ethical suspending of democracy. Lincoln, slavery and the civil war. Slavery simply couldn’t be abided. But it’s a strange state of affairs where truth is decided by majority vote.

    Still, even so,

    “Majorities of Americans overall say most scientists think global warming is occurring (66%), it is caused by human activities (64%) and its effects have begun (60%).” https://tinyurl.com/y7puuz3a

    So there’s already a plurality of agreement on the issue in the US, yet here we are, having made little progress after all this time and are in fact going backwards. Why? Because of capitalism. Business is fine, but when a whole society is structured around its promotion and defence above all other considerations, even to the point of a horrendous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, then corporations and their profits are effectively running the country, in which case it might not matter even if 100% of voters agreed AGW was real and should be addressed. Not going to happen.

    So somehow you have to overcome all of these things. Thus, lately I’ve been speculating that perhaps the solution should lie in taking the fate of the future out of human hands and giving it to that Muskian, yet timely, nemesis, artificial intelligence. Maybe we’re at that point. Put all that considerable computing power to work. At least, can we design them to find the best solutions for our intractablities? Then we can decide if we want to follow their advice. Doesn’t have to be some “take over”. No one wants that. But why not give them a chance? Nothing else is working.

    https://tinyurl.com/yanjh374

  38. 38
    Carrie says:

    37 Ron R. says:

    So somehow you have to overcome all of these things. Thus, lately I’ve been speculating that perhaps the solution should lie in taking the fate of the future out of human hands and giving it to that Muskian, yet timely, nemesis, artificial intelligence. Maybe we’re at that point. Put all that considerable computing power to work. At least, can we design them to find the best solutions for our intractablities? Then we can decide if we want to follow their advice. Doesn’t have to be some “take over”. No one wants that. But why not give them a chance? Nothing else is working.

    https://tinyurl.com/yanjh374

    —-

    Ron people who think like you believe stuff like that and who promote stuff like that are extremely dangerous. Much more dangerous than global warming is.

    A thousand times, a million times more insidious than climate change is.

    STOP IT. Stop speculating and lying to yourself and others. Your predications/assumptions are all bs and lies. The solutions are already known and quite simple. The problem and it’s causes have been articulated by the science.

    Please, get a grip and stop these dangerous fantasies about AI. There is nothing artificial about Intelligence. It is all 100% HUMAN in NATURE and by NATURE.

  39. 39
    Victor says:

    VG 13: the whole AGW paradigm is based on what happened during a more or less 20 year period at the end of the 20th century.

    BPL: No, it is not. It is based on radiation physics, starting with a paper predicting the situation which was published in 1896. Don’t talk about a subject you’re not familiar with, familiarize yourself with it first. Then you won’t be shoving your ignorance in people’s faces.

    V: But the paper predicted nothing. The predictions did not pan out. If they had, then we’d be seeing a clear correlation between CO2 levels and global temperatures since the 19th century, but that is NOT the case. There is no such thing as “the physics” per se, all we have are interpretations, and they have been many and varied. You’re happy to select the studies that support the theory you favor and ignore all else. It’s called “confirmation bias.”

    As far as correlation is concerned, see https://amoleintheground.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-on-climate-change-part-8-tale.html

  40. 40
    Ron R. says:

    Carrie, sorry, I didn’t know you’d found another solution. I feel so much better​ now.

  41. 41
    nigelj says:

    Carrie, I think Rons point may have been that AI could help us solve how to get humanity to work out why we aren’t implementing the things we already know how to do. We do already know the basic solutions to the climate problem, and some of the road blocks inhibiting action on climate change, but its hard to work out where to put energy to best effect in tearing them down. AI might help us untangle this, but I suspect we will still not take the advice proffered by AI, because humans are stubborn and controlled by crude emotions.

    But AI makes me nervous. I seem to recall that movie The Terminator had an artificial intelligence controlling the military, and things went wrong as it became conscious and decided humanity was the enemy. Fantasy movie of course, but rather prescient as well.

    Steven Hawkings final book “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” has a chapter “will artificial intelligence outsmart us?”

  42. 42
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Kathryn Hatcher, your ASCE link dos not work.

    Your engineer friends are apparently asking for something that has become textbook science. Do they ask for proof of Newton’s Law that F=mA? No, because they know that it is textbook science. They couldn’t prove it they tried. How about conservation of energy? Or the Second Law of thermodynamics?

    Unfortunately, physicists are too conservative to give a basic introduction to How the Earth Gets its Temperature in basic texts. Instead, atmospheric physics is reserved for graduate level courses with heavy math. Engineers are more conservative than physicists and are glad to find an excuse to “doubt” global warming.

    To get a clue as to how earth gets its temperature, you need the Stefan-Boltzmann Law (a body loses energy to space at a rate proportional to its area and the fourth power of its absolute temperature) conservation of energy, and some obscure facts of planetary astronomy, viz., a planet intercepts its star’s light (energy) as a disk of radius r, but radiates all day and all night in all directions as a sphere of the same radius, hence 4 times the area. From this you can back-calculate what our average surface temperature ought to be. We should be as cold as a high mountain top! But we are not. How can this be?

    Next clue: you need some data on what wavelengths are radiated by earth, and on the absorption of this radiation by various gasses (Tyndall, 1859). Long story short: it was recognized already by Fourier in the 1820’s that something in the atmosphere impeded the escape of the sun’s energy back to space, and this made our surface environment warmer than if would otherwise be. (Fourier wrote the the book on heat conduction). Tyndall nailed it.

  43. 43
    Simon C says:

    Carrie @38 you are right to say that all (human level) intelligence is currently natural and derived from natural processes. But that might not be the case in say 40 year’s time. Could AIs be an ally in tackling global warming? Potentially, just as computer models help us to understand what is happening right now. But should humans willingly abdicate responsibility for political level decisions to these machines? I think not, because we can never be fully sure of their true motives and objectives once they pass the point of being fully understood by us in principle (some way off still, as you say). Human empathy gives us a first order reason to trust other humans’ motives (sometimes misplaced). But we should never trust a machine to that extent once it does achieve those capabilities – they can be excellent allies, but could be terrible masters.

  44. 44
    Carrie says:

    40
    Ron R. says:
    30 Oct 2018 at 12:58 AM

    Carrie, sorry, I didn’t know you’d found another solution. I feel so much better​ now

    —-

    Whatever. The solution hasn’t changed since Hansen attended Congress in 1988 or the first Rio Summit in 1992. It’s always been obvious and clear. Stop destroying the environment biodiversity soils, and stop putting GHGs into the atmosphere.

    Doh:101! Nothing has changed. Nothing!

  45. 45
    Carrie says:

    43 Simon C says:

    Carrie @38 you are right to say that all (human level) intelligence is currently natural and derived from natural processes. But that might not be the case in say 40 year’s time. Could AIs be an ally in tackling global warming?

    No. There is ample, no, there is an excess of Intelligence already available to 1) define the problem and 2) solve it right now.

    Another 40 years is not required and nor is some fancy AI computer being programmed by human intelligence required either.

    It’s that simple. People need to stop making dumb excuses and living in Fantasyland about the grandiose delusional claims of AI sycophants.

    There is no Intelligence in anything ARTIFICIAL.

    And never will be! OCR or facial recognition is not “intelligent” – such things are run by software programs integrating with hardware. Software programs are NOT “intelligent” – they are zeros and ones put into code format by humans who hit an enter key to make the software operate as designed.

    https://www.britannica.com/science/human-intelligence-psychology

    https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=search_authors&hl=en&mauthors=label:intelligence

    Even Wikipedia knows what it is
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence

    Human intelligence no longer functions as “intelligent” once human emotional content and awareness is removed. Human emotions and physical reality of BEING in a BODY are HARDWIRED into human intelligence. Both emotions and the body are essential ingredients. It can’t be “mimicked” it can’t be “faked.”

    A computer software program is a computer software program not “intelligence” – using that word is a misnomer, illogical and not scientific.

    George Lakoff: How Brains Think: The Embodiment Hypothesis
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuUnMCq-ARQ

    aka modern day cutting edge cognitive science findings
    Ignore this intelligent knowledge at your peril.

  46. 46
    Carrie says:

    https://securelist.com/hackers-attacking-your-memories/88285/

    These IT Gurus still can’t even secure a computer or smart phone connected to the internet – but simultaneously anything they recommend about the great benefits to mankind of AI is locked onto like mindless junkies looking for their next Fix.

    Could this actually be clear evidence that humanity is still as dumb as dirt?

  47. 47
    nigelj says:

    Victor @39

    “V: But the paper predicted nothing.”

    Rubbish. Arrhenius predicted in around 1895 in a lengthy research paper that fossil fuel emissions would raise global temperatures about 1 degree in the 20th century, almost exactly what has happened. I don’t even have a physics degree and I know this stuff. Victor you are hopeless. I should be nicer about it, but you don’t deserve it.

  48. 48
    CCHolley says:

    RE. Victor @39

    V: But the paper predicted nothing. The predictions did not pan out. If they had, then we’d be seeing a clear correlation between CO2 levels and global temperatures since the 19th century, but that is NOT the case. There is no such thing as “the physics” per se, all we have are interpretations, and they have been many and varied. You’re happy to select the studies that support the theory you favor and ignore all else. It’s called “confirmation bias.”

    NO CORRELATION!! He is starting to sound like Trump. No matter how many times Victor repeats this nonsense it will never be true. Correlation is strong and that correlation is for much more than 20 years. Much more. But Victor, who has no formal training in statistics or science knows better than all the thousands of experts. Victor is not interested in truth, only his simple minded attempts to distract from the evidence because he does not like AGW. He obviously does not care about future generations, if he did, he would learn the science. Sad.

    Adolf Stips, Diego Macias, Clare Coughlan, Elisa Garcia-Gorriz & X. San Liang, On the causal structure between CO2 and global temperature, Scientific Reports, volume 6, Article number: 21691 (2016)

    https://www.nature.com/articles/srep21691

    Meanwhile simple Victor totally ignores the meat of Gavins article and op-ed i.e. actual evidence and how climate scientists assign attribution to the warming. Made up so called lack of correlation is all Victor has.

    Then he claims there is no such thing as *the physics*. However, contrary to his garbage, physical LAWS are not subject to interpretations and greenhouse gas law is real and universally accepted. Confirmation bias? ROTFLMAO, the irony. Let’s see some of Victor’s peer reviewed articles that disprove the physics. There aren’t any.

    Why is Victor allowed to repeat his *no correlation* garbage over and over again and again???

  49. 49

    We don’t need AI to tell us how to solve the global warming problem. We already know what to do–move away from fossil fuel use, stop cutting down forests, and if necessary, find ways to take CO2 out of the air. The trick is to mobilize the political will to do it.

  50. 50
    Ron R. says:

    Nigel, #41

    “Carrie, I think Rons point may have been that AI could help us solve how to get humanity to work out why we aren’t implementing the things we already know how to do. We do already know the basic solutions to the climate problem, and some of the road blocks inhibiting action on climate change, but its hard to work out where to put energy to best effect in tearing them down. AI might help us untangle this, but I suspect we will still not take the advice proffered by AI, because humans are stubborn and controlled by crude emotions.”

    Simon C, #43

    “Could AIs be an ally in tackling global warming? Potentially, just as computer models help us to understand what is happening right now.”

    Exactly. Thank you.

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