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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. 51
    Steven Emmerson says:

    Victor@39 wrote

    As far as correlation is concerned, see

    That is not a peer-reviewed scientific paper.

  2. 52
    Kathryn Hatchetjob says:

    REQUEST FOR BEST REFERENCE to support: “Airplanes can fly?”

    As in Karen Hatcher’s request above, and by remarkable coincidence, I have been urging AIAA to strengthen its policy statement on aviation by adding a supporting reference, which is needed by airline engineers who must justify the extra project costs of building vehicles that can fly.​


    I am requesting assistance to identify a solid technical reference (not a “consensus” report, but actual scientific research) to support the statement that ​
    “heavier than air bodies are capable of flight?”​

    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. 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)
    * clearly show the research steps (method) leading from the hypothesis to the conclusion, and​
    * the published paper would be independently peer reviewed.​

    I’m not interested in examining a large body of literature; I seek all aspects of physics that enable aviation condensed into a single, brief paper. I’m not interested in the details of lift, drag, turbulence, or any other aspect of fluid dynamics or mechanics that cannot be reduced to a simple statistic. Ideally, the published paper would provide an extremely simple hypothesis test, as in a linear regression of the mass of rocks against their propensity to become spontaneously airborne. Non-verified models of actual aircraft, as well as mathematics and statistics in general, are excluded from my search.

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

  3. 53

    Our climate is changing as many of us are aware and many have dedicated their lives and time to doing our best to set right the challenges we face so that our children and generations ahead may have a healthy ecosystem to grow in and thrive upon. About ten years ago I dove deep into the climate change issue and learned about many facets of this astronomical challenge we face, most importantly the problem that rising CO2 levels pose from man made sources.

    In my process of learning about various climate forcing mechanisms I became aware of another mechanism and have wondered for years of its potential significance in climate change. Through discourse with friends and others it seems little are aware of this other factor that could potentially play a role in the dynamics we’re seeing and I’m hoping to connect with you in hopes that you or one of your colleagues may be able to shed light on these curiosities should there be more to this other climate forcing mechanism, or good reasons to dismiss it. If we truly wish to solve this incredibly difficult task it seems to me that we should leave no stone unturned. So here I am doing my part and due diligence as best I know how. I hope it is well received with an open mind and an open heart.

    In 2007 I learned of a phenomenon known as Relativistic Electron Precipitation – REP and that some of the leading researchers of ionospheric physics, such as Michal Parrot of CNRS France head of DEMETER micro-satellite mission and VERSIM (VLF/ELF Remote Sensing of Ionospheres and Magnetospheres 96′ – 05′) who said in a research paper that using scientific transmitters it was becoming clear that it stimulates REP and could have a potential impact on “the global warming of the earth”.

    “At VLF frequencies between 10 and 20 kHz, the ground-based transmitters are used for radio-navigation and communications. Their ionospheric perturbations include: the triggering of new waves, ionospheric heating, wave-electron interactions, and particle precipitation. At HF frequencies, the broadcasting stations utilise powerful transmitters which can heat the ionosphere and change the temperature and the density. All these wave dissipations in the ionosphere could participate to the global warming of the Earth because the change in global temperature increases the number of natural lightning discharges in the atmosphere. Then the supplementary lightning discharges produce more magnetospheric whistlers which could produce heating and ionization in the lower ionosphere.

    Furthermore, it is a feedback mechanism because two different processes could be involved. First, lightning is a source of NOx, and NOx affects the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere which contributes to the greenhouse effect. Second, precipitation of energetic electrons by man?made waves may trigger other lightning discharges. It explains the importance of the study of such man-made waves [7]. Ionospheric perturbations by natural geophysical activities have been made evident by two methods: the study of the electromagnetic waves, and the measurement of the electron density.”

    Since learning of REP and its potential role in climate change we’ve seen more and more research coming out that could potentially support the possibility that REP, along with increasing CO2, play a significant role in the climate change we are seeing. For example REP is potentially linked to the most notable region of climate warming in the entire Southern Hemisphere. “In this report we attract attention to a fact that the global maximum of the outer belt energetic electron precipitation is localized in a narrow longitudinal belt centered in the Weddell Sea i.e. in the area of climate warming in the Southern hemisphere. It was shown by several explorers that energetic resources of this electron precipitation are sufficient to change temperature regime of the stratosphere and troposphere.”

    Peculiarities of Long-Term Trends of Surface Temperature in Antarctica and Their Possible Connections with Outer Belt Electron Precipitation

    As you may well know the stratospheric ozone level is at an altitude above the carbon from man made sources and acts as a valve for UV rays coming into our atmosphere heating these greenhouse gasses. While most of the scientific community has been focused on rising CO2 levels, we’ve heard very little about how our potential use of broadcast energy on a global scale could be stimulating this REP ~ ozone depletion mechanism.

    Though we hear more about the potential healing of the ozone holes in polar regions, we’ve heard little about how ozone levels over most populated areas are thinning increasing UV rays: “The potential for harm in lower latitudes may actually be worse than at the poles..The decreases in ozone are less than we saw at the poles before the Montreal Protocol was enacted, but UV radiation is more intense in these regions and more people live there.”

    A 2016 scientific report first coined the term Anthropogenic Space Weather and discussed the effect our output of electromagnetic energy specifically in the VLF range has been directly observed by NASA satellites to radically alter our magnetosphere creating an artificial bubble of energy around the planet capable of blocking high energy particles from space. This article frames the energetic bubble as being beneficial to blocking radiation from space, but could it also be playing a role in stimulating ozone depletion through Relativistic Electron Precipitation?

    First-time evidence shows electrons precipitating or ‘raining’ from Earth’s magnetosphere are destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center–

    In 2002 Bo Thide from the Swedish Institute of Space Physics wrote a paper titled, “Atmosphere-Ionosphere-Mission, an Elaborate Science Case” in which he put out a call for ideas regarding this REP climate forcing mechanism saying that the public should be concerned. Bo Thide is one of the world’s leading ionospheric physicists. He wrote the book on Electromagnetic Field Theory and single handedly revolutionized our understanding of ionospheric research with multi channel ionospheric probing; awarding him the Edlund Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1991. If he’s saying “the public should be concerned”.. why aren’t we even aware of this?:

    So after looking at all this I’m left wondering how significant our use of broadcast energy could be in climate change given these new findings? Are NASA and other scientists looking into this possibility and do they deem it potentially significant in climate change? If not.. Why not? Perhaps there is indeed a good reason I’m not aware of.

    According the the IPCC, REP was discounted as a potential player in climate change because it’s variability was too closely linked to solar proton events which are unpredictable and REP is seen as “natural”, but if we’ve been outputting EM energy into the ionosphere longer than we’ve been able to measure it, then how can we know what is or isn’t “natural”? “Nevertheless, VLF transmissions of anthropogenic origin may constitute a key space weather influence on pathways that fundamentally alter the storm-time radiation belt. Under these assumptions, it is interesting for the reader to consider what the terrestrial radiation belt environment might have been in the pre-transmitter, and pre-observation, era.”
    Anthropogenic Space Weather 2016 –

    It has taken our scientific community a long time to realize the dire effects man made CO2 plays as a climate forcing mechanism. I don’t doubt its significance and am left wondering if it will take another 50 years before we see there’s potentially another part in the wholistic equation of our complex climate system.

    If we’re truly dedicating our time, careers and lives to solving this monumental problem for generations ahead.. are we looking at the potential significance of how our global broadcast may be stimulating an ozone depletion mechanism allowing more UV rays to heat increasing levels of greenhouse gasses most of all CO2 from man made sources? How do we determine what is or isn’t worth our time when looking for answers?

    I really appreciate all the energy and effort you and others are dedicating to solving the issues of climate change and appreciate your time and consideration around this letter.

    Thank you sincerely, Professor Lewis Carlson PhD ~

  4. 54
    Ron R. says:

    Carrie # 44, 46:
    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!


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

    Exactly my point. Maybe we could use a little help/advice since nothing else is working?

  5. 55
    Victor says:

    #48 CCHolley: “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.”

    If you would condescend to read the blog post I linked us to you’d see the evidence supporting my claim. (And by the way, unlike the great majority of responses to my posts over the years, MY arguments are consistently supported by evidence.) The post also demonstrates how easy it is for the statistics to lead one astray. As the scattergram displayed in my post demonstrates, one can indeed produce a “correlation” between CO2 levels and global temperatures, in a strictly technical sense, and yes, the same dataset will produce what appears to be a significant “correlation coefficient” of the sort that forms the basis for The Stips et al paper you cited.

    It’s only when one examines the same dataset in its historical context that the error becomes apparent. I.e., the entire “correlation” turns out to be based on a period of roughly 20 years, during which both CO2 values and temperatures rose in tandem rather steeply. Since the range of CO2 levels was so much greater during this period, the scattergram as a whole is dominated by a “correlation” limited to only a fracton of the total history. Thus, by treating the data ahistorically both the scattergram and the correlation coefficient produce a distorted result that is seriously misleading.

    If you eliminate that 20 year period the lack of any meaningful correlation becomes evident.

  6. 56
    Ron R. says:

    Carrie, you misunderstand me and my proposition. I am not a “AI sycophant”. Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics. Let’s remove the term artificial intelligence and just call it a really smart computer. Really smart computers are already used by climate scientists now to model Earth systems. They need to be supercomputers because there’s just so many variables that have to be considered. So we are already depending on them. An “artificially intelligent” supercomputer would just a supercomputer with some human understanding programmed into it, so that it can, rather than give us answers with hard, sharp edges, soften them in consideration of human impreciseness.

    Why can’t we think of solving this problem, climate change, like solving a really tough equation? Design a really smart supercomputer, input​ all of the variables – and like the Earth system, there are a lot of variables where humans are concerned – all of the issues that are standing in the way of solutions, not just to climate change, but all of the many, many problems that confront humanity, which up to now have been just so intractable. Then consider the best of possible solutions it suggests. Let’s say it gives us 100 scenarios to choose from; that would be 100 possible solutions, and we consider them all as a species. Course we might just do the stupid and refuse them all anyway.

    The answers we have now may seem obvious to us, but those answers are not complete if they are not bringing solutions are they?

    Anyway, it was just a suggestion. In all honesty, I’m just as worried about technology for technology’s sake and experimentation for experimentations sake, precautionary principle be dammed, as you appear.
    On the other hand, though, I’m not sure a knee-jerk refusal to consider any possible help at this late date is advisable. We are at, or even past, lots of important thresholds and don’t have a lot of time to waste waiting for people to get their acts together.

  7. 57
    Ron R. says:

    Short answer.

    You said in #44, “It’s always been obvious and clear. Stop destroying the environment biodiversity soils, and stop putting GHGs into the atmosphere.”

    Right. Obvious. The question is how do you do that, and how do you get everyone else on board too?

  8. 58
    Ray Ladbury says:

    While I am not sure AI would be effective in solving the climate problem, I am intrigued by the possibility of true AI–in part because it would be a wholly different type of intelligence than our own. By studying AI, we may come to understand our own intelligence (or lack thereof) on a deeper level.

    Case in point: The victory of a computer over a master in the game of Go. Computers long ago developed the ability to defeat grand masters in chess, but Go is to chess as chess is to checkers in terms of strategy. During the match, observers thought that the computer had made a severe strategic blunder–to the point where experts started going over the code to see if there were problems. Instead, the computer had come up with a winning strategy–one completely different from any humans had developed.

    AI affords the potential for us to interact with an alien intelligence–alien even though we wrote the code. And given that we wrote the code, will we be able to understand how that AI got there? Will that exercise help us identify and perhaps understand other intelligences present in nature–for example, a collective intelligence in a bee hive or an ant colony?

    So, as in the example of Go, AIs may help us come up with strategies we would not have arrived at on our own wrt climate change. I think, however, that the greatest insights they will provide will be into our own intelligence.

  9. 59

    V 39: we’d be seeing a clear correlation between CO2 levels and global temperatures since the 19th century, but that is NOT the case.

    BPL: You’ll never learn, will you? You will stubbornly refuse to learn till the end of your life. I’ll just say, once again, that you’re wrong by definition.

  10. 60

    #52–Nicely skewered.

    As a side-note:

    “In the October 22, 1903, issue of The Independent, Newcomb made the well-known remark that “May not our mechanicians . . . be ultimately forced to admit that aerial flight is one of the great class of problems with which man can never cope, and give up all attempts to grapple with it?””

    Of course, as we now know, the Wrights turned the trick on December 17 of the same year–though, since their analytical and mechanical gifts were not matched by a similar genius for publicity, Newcomb didn’t actually hear about it ’til 1908.

  11. 61
    nigelj says:

    Victor @55

    “It’s only when one examines the same dataset in its historical context that the error becomes apparent. I.e., the entire “correlation” turns out to be based on a period of roughly 20 years, during which both CO2 values and temperatures rose in tandem rather steeply. Since the range of CO2 levels was so much greater during this period, the scattergram as a whole is dominated by a “correlation” limited to only a fracton of the total history.”

    No, the correlation over the last 100 years or so does not rely on a narrow period of 20 years. Statistics uses the whole data set. That’s just how it works. You go through every piece of data.

    There would still be a correlation even without the period 1975 – 1998. It would be somewhere from low to medium.

    Correlations exist on a scale of values from 0 – 1.0. You could say in words from zero, low medium, high, perfect or something like this. I eyeball the data for 1900 – 2018 and I immediately see a correlation coefficient of a medium to high correlation. It is actually about this when you calculate it.I dont think you understand that correlations exist on a scale like this. Do you?

    You also dont get to leave out periods like 2015 – 2017 which you have tried to do. You have to look at all the data between the end points, that which you like, and that which you dont like. That’s called science. You cannot consider causations or periods that you might not like and pull them out. Yet this is what you do.

  12. 62
    CCHolley says:

    RE Victor @55

    After more than two years of screaming NO CORRELATION and ignoring what statistics really tells us about the correlation between temperatures and CO2 levels, Victor now concedes that their IS correlation. I suppose that’s progress.

    But no. Victor now claims that the correlation is dependent on only a twenty year period. And he does this smugly claiming he has *evidence*.

    What is his evidence? A scatter plot and Victor’s famous eyeball. According to Victor, correlation stops once CO2 levels reach 370 ppm. This ignores that a statistical analysis of the period from about 1980 to the end of the data used in the chart would still show a very strong correlation.

    Even so, more telling, what Victor fails to point out is that the scatterplot stops at 385 ppm. Victor conveniently ignores the period when CO2 levels rose from 385 ppm to 410 ppm. Roughly ten years of data. Typical, deceit. What happens if you plot that data to the present? No decrease in correlation. No *hiatus* and actually very STRONG CORRELATION from his 1980 point to present. Even Victor’s eyeball should be able to discern from Gavin’s chart in the article that temperatures have overall risen at the same rate from about 1980 to present.

    Victor likes to tout the so called *hiatus* as proof of no correlation even though Tamino has in great detail shown how Victor’s claims as to a pause are pure bunk.

    If Victor wants to make arguments that the statistics can be manipulated he should first learn something about the power of statistics and how it should properly be used. A start would be the book by Jordan Ellenberg, How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. But Victor already claims to know more about statistics than the experts so why would he be motivated to learn more?

    Victor isn’t interested in truth. He is only interested in deflecting the point of Gavin’s post and op-ed. And Gavin’s point is that there is strong irrefutable evidence that the warming trend since about 1980 can only be attributed to the rise in CO2. This conclusion is supported by physical evidence of the change in radiative profile TOA as measured by satellites. The SCIENCE IS STRONG.

    Why Victor is allowed to continually hijack these threads detracting from meaningful scientific discourse repeating his same old denier garbage over and over again is beyond my comprehension.

  13. 63
    Ron R. says:

    The fear of AI.

    Maybe the answer would be to design an AI that designs and continually updates and schedules its own demise (which can be implemented by a simple kill switch), but which demise has to be approved by people?

  14. 64
    Dan says:

    re: 62
    “Victor isn’t interested in truth…”
    I would go farther than just that: He flaunts his scientific and statistics ignorance and epic critical thinking failures time and time again.

    “Why Victor is allowed to continually hijack these threads detracting from meaningful scientific discourse repeating his same old denier garbage over and over again is beyond my comprehension.”

    ^This times 1000. He has made no effort to learn aka classic intellectual laziness.

  15. 65
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Lewis Carlson

    Fancy website you have there
    but some of it needs updating.

    the latest down turn in global temperature comes at the same time when the the UK begins the switch to digital on October 17th 2007 which produced a predicted ozone anomaly.


    The Next Ozone Anomoly comes on June 12th 2009!!

    As the US switches to digital, the largest emitter of electromagnetic radiation will down shift it’s power, which is likely to cause ripples in the stratospheric ozone and climate system.

  16. 66
  17. 67
    zebra says:

    #62 CCHolley,

    You have written many clear and articulate and knowledgeable responses to Victor; better than average to my mind. But that last sentence makes me think psychology and education and such is probably not your field:

    Why Victor is allowed to continually hijack these threads detracting from meaningful scientific discourse repeating his same old denier garbage over and over again is beyond my comprehension.

    Maybe because people (like you) keep answering? Answering that same old garbage, over and over, without requiring anything from him? My personal “starving the trolls” approach is to offer to have a conversation only if the rules of reason– scientific, quantitative, linguistic– are followed.

    I suggest an experiment, which I doubt people will have the self-discipline to carry out, where everyone just ignores these kinds of nonsensical inputs, and instead carries out “meaningful scientific discourse” with those people willing to follow the rules for meaningful scientific discourse about any topic.

  18. 68
    Mr. Know It All says:

    20 – Kathryn Hatcher

    “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?””

    Your link did not work, but I found it at your ASCE website:—greenhouse-gases/

    I have been asking the same question for a long time, and many here have been helpful by providing links. I am viewed as a denier, but I’m not – I’m a skeptic who merely wants to understand the science before agreeing to major energy policy changes. I have not found what you are looking for in one place, but I have found enough information that I think the CO2/AGW theory is real. I still will post a denier type comment occasionally when those who claim to be smart guys engage in blatant, unfair Trump bashing or other over-the-top partisanship – I do it just to make their heads explode – and it works! At times, it’s better than SNL!

    So, here is the scientific information I have found that makes me think AGW theory is probably correct:

    Back in 1977, in General Chemistry, we studied “the quantum-mechanical description of the atom”. We studied “orbitals” – the P, S, d, and f orbitals. I didn’t like studying it, but it was a degree requirement. The orbitals are because of different energy levels in atoms/electrons – quantum physics. Apparently these energy levels are at work when infrared radiation photons from the earth hit CO2 molecules. This is explained fairly clearly in this video, and if a scientist can verify that the P and S orbitals, in General Chemistry, are what is talked about in this 5 minute video that would help clarify:

    OK, so how to calculate the temperature of the earth due to increased CO2?

    First, you need to know some basic heat transfer, offered in an undergrad Heat and Mass Transfer Class. This 1980 text book will help, and used copies are cheap, cheap. Chapter 6 (~100 pages) discusses Radiation heat transfer. Probably are papers discussing the basics of radiation physics online but this book is probably better.

    From the book you’ll gain knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum, thermal radiation, visible radiation, concept of a blackbody, Planck’s Law, Wien’s Displacement Law, Stefan-Boltzmann Law, radiation properties of absorptivity, emissivity, reflectivity, transmissivity, total radiation; radiation through absorbing, transmitting media, radiative properties of gases; solar radiation, etc – all that and more from Chapter 6.

    The info in Chapter 6 will help understand the explanation of how CO2 causes warming in this video – as far as I can tell, the math used in this video makes sense. He gets going on the physics of global warming, 7 minutes into the video, but the whole thing is good:

    So, I think AGW is real, but I would still like to see a mathematical calculation showing how increasing concentrations of CO2 warms the earth at the molecular level using the mean beam length, etc. The math may be described in Chapter 6, or it may not be – perhaps that isn’t an undergrad topic, particularly with respect to global warming. Global warming is not mentioned in the text – it’s just all heat transfer.

  19. 69
    Mr. Know It All says:

    20 – Kathryn
    I hope my previous comment helps. I do want to clarify one thing – even though I am in the “AGW theory is probably correct” camp I am not willing to turn over the country to the D party – I think the R party can be brought around to address AGW – this will occur if we have another summer or 2 like we did in 2018. I think the solutions from the R side will be more effective than policies from the left. In order to fight a problem like AGW we have to have a strong country – D policies will make us weak and unable to so much as feed ourselves – see Venezuela.

  20. 70
    CCHolley says:

    zebra @67

    Yes, I understand. If you notice, I did not respond to Victor’s first post in this thread because it seemed like baiting to me. However, Barton did choose to respond thus allowing Victor the opportunity to expand on his nonsense. Dishonest nonsense for which I felt needed a response.

    It is a fine line, ignore or feed the troll. One that I likely tend to fall on the wrong side of. But nevertheless, most of the time I just find that responding is appropriate and necessary because I believe the denialist memes need to be addressed and besides the dishonesty just irks the hell out of me. But not only that, perhaps just maybe my responses can be educational and even interesting to some readers. At least I hope so otherwise it is a waste of everyone’s time.

    The problem, though, IMHO, is that the moderation often allows the discussion driven by Victor to continue long after the point that the educational usefulness has ended and it just becomes a distraction. In addition, even more aggravating, he is allowed to bring up the same tired points in future threads which means the rebuttals need to be repeated over and over again least the garbage be given credence. This is clearly a waste of everyones time. How many times has correlation been brought up and explained over the past several years? It is crazy and detracts from any meaningful discussion which can get lost in the shuffle. And that’s probably part of victor’s motive.

    Although I firmly believe that the site should be open to alternate points of view to stimulate meaningful scientific discourse, Victor clearly abuses that freedom. His motives are nefarious and not about gaining knowledge. He has been given far too many chances. Most of his posts just simply belong in the borehole.

  21. 71
    zebra says:

    #70 CCHolley,

    Well, FWIW, my “tactical”/”strategic” assessment here is that responding sets up a false equivalence, and so does more harm than good. My critique of Gavin’s article was along the same lines.

    I’ve followed this topic for a long time now, and I still see the Denialists being able to frame things as they like, because they do understand how to bait the rational community.

    And the rational community doesn’t know how to discomfit people like Victor. It’s simple, but again, it requires self-discipline.

  22. 72

    #70, 71–

    Perhaps we could all agree just to say something like:

    Victor, post# x:

    This idea was previously rebutted. It’s still wrong.

  23. 73
    Ric Merritt says:

    I mostly scroll past the usual suspects, but I have to thank Victor for happening to catch my eye with “if you just eliminate the data I don’t want to think about, the conclusions are closer to my desired ones”. Needed a good laugh today.

  24. 74
    patrick says:

    The metaphor (of detective story/forensic investigation for detection-and-attribution in climate science) is most apt, and far from worn out. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

  25. 75
    nigelj says:

    I feel free speech should be permitted in general terms, but I think certain things should be deleted by the moderators: Comments that want to debate basic maths and physics (Victors rants on correlations), big claims where people repeatedly refuse to provide hard evididence (ideally with an internet link), streams of repeated personal abuse (the obvious out of control stuff, not the odd wise crack), party political rants (as opposed to sensible science based political discussion).

    This is because we are entitled to some level of quality. I don’t see this as censorship.

    Trolling is normally defined as inflammatory comments made by bored people seeking attention, or bullies who like to be offensive for the sake of it. Standard advice is of course do not feed the trolls, or alternatively delete their comments. I think it was originally called flaming, back in the day.

    But it could be more subtle and sophsticated and superficially convincing comments made by a a paid lobbyist as well. It might not be too smart to completely ignore these people or their views might gain traction. However one thing is long replies will get the Troll going, which is what you don’t want.

  26. 76
    Al Bundy says:

    Correcting an error is productive if and only if the correction is well received.

    Attacking a lie generally reinforces the lie.

    You know these things. You speak of not responding to k…

    Dude, you need a Nancy Raygun button.

  27. 77
    nigelj says:

    Something on AI and robotics by Michio Kaku. He is a New York Times best-selling author of 12 books has become renowned for his physics theories and technology forecasts. His latest perspectives tackle the buzz around space travel and artificial intelligence (AI).

  28. 78
    Simon C says:

    Carrie @45 It’s interesting that you believe that machines will never be able to handle metaphor or “frames” (linguistic/cognitive contexts)as per the George Lakoff link. It’s difficult to debate with an essentially philosophical position that a certain state of affairs can never exist, regardless of the empirical evidence, because of a pre-established philosophical position. Evidently, AI denialism is already here, even if true AI isn’t. But it’s also true that we definitely shouldn’t wait for true AI before doing what obviously and clearly needs to be done right now to tackle climate change.

  29. 79
    Hank Roberts says:

    Lewis Carlson says:
    2 Nov 2018 at 12:02 AM

    … I’m left wondering how significant our use of broadcast energy could be in climate change given these new findings? Are NASA and other scientists looking into this possibility and do they deem it potentially significant in climate change? If not.. Why not?

    How did your website prediction for an event in 2009 work out?

    … The beginning of the analog switch to digital broadcast in the UK caused plasma waves that travelled south along the magnetic field lines resulting in a trail of electron precipitation, NO2 production and ozone depletion. I knew that if Broadcast Theory was really happening I would likely see an anomaly appear…It did! One day later on the 18th and took about a 13 days to travel around the southern polar vortex into full formation in the Pacific Ocean….

    The Next Ozone Anomoly comes on June 12th 2009!!

    As the US switches to digital, the largest emitter of electromagnetic radiation will down shift it’s power, which is likely to cause ripples in the stratospheric ozone and climate system.

  30. 80
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @76,

    Yeah long discussions with stubborn non receptive climate denialists, fixed minded people and offensive people is a waste of time. So yeah I need your button thingy at times.

    I think the main point of replies to climate denialists is really for the benefit of other people listening. I mostly try to keep replies quite short and with a link to the key data and normally if the troll just still rambles on I terminate discussion. I have said what I want to say. But I admit I don’t always follow my own advice.

    But I think its more complicated than you say regarding lies. Do you really think we would be better off if nobody pointed out a certain presidents constant lying? Yes it amplifies the lie, but if its not challenged, the lie becomes the truth. Its a tough one to know what to do for the best, but I would point out generally nearly everyone challenges the lies. Are they all wrong? I’m not so sure.

  31. 81
    Carrie says:

    78 Simon C

    Was that a Philosophical or an Empirical position you were taking? (rhetorical question only)

    Albert Einstein took quite specific Philosophical, Ethical and Principled stands about nuclear weapons both before and after 1945. Maybe you believe I am as dumb a denier as he was. So be it.

    You’d also be better off not assuming what I believe and putting words in my mouth while you do it. But believe whatever you wish. Nothing I could ever say about AI will stop ‘Stupid’ in it’s tracks. Rather than trying to put down what I said and argue with me, your time might be better spent learning what the philosophical / academic / ethical experts in the field of AI are actually saying publicly already. Because it would be truly frightening what they must be saying in private.

  32. 82
  33. 83
  34. 84
    Ron R. says:

    Barton Paul Levenson, #49

    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.

    Aye, the trick is to find ways to to get ‘er done. Problem is, little we’ve tried so far is working.

    Anyway, it’s just a thought.

  35. 85
    Hank Roberts says:

    … while the strong winds known as Santa Ana contributed to the bigger fires, the link with climate change is inextricable, said Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

  36. 86
    Teepot says:

    Ray, in AI understanding the code does not give rise to an understanding of the output.
    In classical computing it’s the case, in AI the combinations that make decisions are not retractable, which is one of the ‘worrying’ issues.

  37. 87
    Carrie says:

    To me A.I. is AI is AI is AI …. it arises form the same “gene pool”. As such, there are intrinsic similarities with every A.I. application.

    Gavin’s GCMs are NOT A.I.

    A.I. & KILLER ROBOTS 00:47:35
    Toby Walsh is a leading researcher in Artificial Intelligence. He was named by The Australian newspaper as a “rock star” of Australia’s digital revolution. He is Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at UNSW, leads the Algorithmic Decision Theory group at Data61, Australia’s Centre of Excellence for Information and Communication Technology Research, and is Guest Professor at the Technical University of Berlin. He has written several books about Artificial Intelligence for a general audience and the latest, 2062: The World that AI Made, was published in August this year. He regularly appears in the media talking and writing about the impact of AI and robotics and is passionate that limits are placed on AI to ensure the public good. He has played a leading role at the UN and elsewhere on the campaign to ban lethal autonomous weapons (aka ‘killer robots’).

    Hi. This question is mainly directed towards Toby Walsh. You write about autonomous weapons, and I’m wondering who would be held accountable for the so-called killer robots should they act in unintended ways, if it were to do something that could constitute a war crime, for example? Would we try the person who programs the robot, the robot itself, or someone else?

    Thank you. Well, the one good answer to the question is, it’s not the robot. Right? A robot is a machine. It has no moral character. It can’t… It has no conscience. It can’t suffer pain. We can’t punish it. So the robot is the one thing that we cannot.

    So, is it the person who programmed it, is it the person who turned it on? And then, to complicate the answer even further, we are increasingly building machines that learn from their environment. And so maybe someone exposed it to some bad data and now it’s behaving in…it’s been hacked to behave in a way that was unintended.

    So we don’t have good answers. And that’s one reason why we don’t want to have autonomous weapons, is because there is no-one accountable.

    Autonomous weapons are self-targeting, aren’t they?


    They will go out there, their programs will tell them, “This person is the enemy,” and they’ll kill that person.

    They will identify, track and target without any human involved.


    And that is unfortunately going to be the future of warfare, unless we make a decision…

    The Pentagon has already gone a fair way down this track. You’d imagine the Chinese and Russians are doing the same.

    There is an arms race to develop these sorts of weapons. And… (SNEEZES) Excuse me.
    I’m pleased to say, though, the United Nations is discussing whether we should pre-emptively ban such technologies. We have banned chemical weapons, biological weapons, even today nuclear weapons.

    They should be in the same category?

    I believe…and not just I believe, thousands of my colleagues, many of my colleagues working in AI, think this would be a terrible revolution, a step change in the speed, efficiency, accuracy of warfare. And we have a moment, so a small window of opportunity, to decide, “Let’s not use this in war.”

    Because there are some times where we decide some technologies are just so morally repugnant that we don’t want to use them. We decided that with chemical weapons, we’ve decided that with biological weapons, and I hope, very much hope, that eventually we will, in the near future, decide that with autonomous weapons.

  38. 88
    Ron R. says:

    “Let’s not use this in war.”

    I agree. But that doesn’t mean don’t use it at all. It’s all in how you program it. The are different kinds of AI.

  39. 89
    nigelj says:

    I hope AI is not deployed in war and it is banned from war. Too much chance things could be hacked or sabotaged and too much temptation to give it ever greater control.

    But the war mongers will argue seductively that AI powered warfare will kill fewer civilians, is more efficient, so you better have an answer to that… This was the argument for drones.

  40. 90
    Hank Roberts says:

    What’s the topic here again?

  41. 91
    Ron R. says:

    Just coincidentally saw my first AI commercial. From Microsoft, it was about using it to increase agricultural output to feed the world (if I understood it correctly), which, of course, would ultimately translate into the world stuffed full with people, maximization for maximization’s sake, because as Julian Simon believed, the more the merrier. A couple of Simon’s quotes from his The Ultimate Resource

    “But what does it mean to like the idea of more people? To me it means that I do not mind having more people in the cities I live in, seeing more children going to school and playing in the park. I would be even more pleased if there were more cities, more people in unsettled areas – even another planet like this one.”


    “Some say that human population should be stabilized or reduced because it threatens some species of animal. This raises interesting questions. If we assume there is a trade-off between more people and more of species X, then which species should we favor? Buffalo or golden eagles over Homo sapiens? … Should the whole midwest be made a buffalo preserve, or do we want only to maintain the species just this side of extinction? If the latter, why not just put them in a few big zoos?”

    And from his The State of Humanity: Steadily Improving,
    “We now have in our hands — really, in our libraries — the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next seven billion years.”

    Such a future mirrors that advocated by that souless brain, Freeman Dyson when he stated, ‘We are moving rapidly into the post-Darwinian era, when species other than our own will no longer exist” (as quoted right here on Real Climate in theFeb 7, 2011 post, The Starship vs. Spaceship Earth.

    So in this case, AI, serving altruistic, yet short-sighted and selfish interests* would make the population problem, in my mind the central problem on this planet, even worse (*it’s selfish because with this move to use AI to continue human population growth until the planet is filled to the gills Soylent Green style, one is assuming that humans are the only species worthy of ultimate protection since nothing else of any significance could survive such total buildout). And of course, after the ecosystem breaks down due to this monoculture of species we would quickly follow.

    Simon believed that ‘more heads means a better chance of figuring our big problems out’. Problem is, all those people will be wanting their stuff, needing to eat, and taking more space. If finding answers is the issue, wouldn’t it be better to invest in supercomputers that need none of this?

    On the other hand, it looks like, the way things are going, if we don’t come up with solutions to our many serious environmental problems soon, the world 100 years from now will a horror compared to what it is today. That’s why I mentioned AI. I’m not pro-AI, I’m anti-apocalypse. Thus the only way I see a good future for the planet and its inhabitants is if:

    1) Our E.Q. suddenly catches up with our I.Q., i.e. we as a species experience a sudden evolutionary leap in wisdom and compassion. Definitely the preferable path.

    2) We develop computational problem solving like AI which figures things out for us, but we do it smartly. Perhaps we locate it off-planet, say on the moon, where there are no supplies for possible unwanted growth and a Camazotz-like takeover.

    3) We go extinct.

  42. 92

    I would like to see autonomous robots used in war. I expect they would commit far fewer atrocities than human troops do. No robot ever raped anybody (Demon Seed aside).

  43. 93
    zebra says:

    re #90 request to moderators:,

    Could you please do Forced Responses on a monthly basis so that threads like this and UV don’t get cluttered up again?

    It does seem to have a useful effect but that deteriorates. Clearly, all the commenters espousing co-operation and the common good, and condemning selfishness, are overburdened by having to do a couple of extra clicks.

  44. 94

    BPL: “I would like to see autonomous robots used in war.”

    While we’re wishing (not to mention way off-topic), I’d like to see autonomous robots used to limit, and even eliminate war. Perhaps by formulating AI ‘tournaments’ in which every weapon in the book could be deployed in some geographically delimited desert area relatively low in biodiversity and cleared of all human inhabitants?

    It would be rational in that the threat of the unrestrained use of those weapons would remain as an incentive to the loser to accept the results of the tournament, and in that it would drastically reduce the overall costs of warfare. Further out, maybe AI could induce us to truly accept that playing stupidly expensive zero-sum games is actually a net loser for both national budgets and for human welfare?

  45. 95
    mike says:

    BPL says at 92: I would like to see autonomous robots used in war.

    Would you really like to see that? Most progress starts with a dream or vision, then maybe proceeds to more concrete steps. In that sense, can you tell me more about your vision of autonomous robots uses in war and why you would like to see it?

    I think drone warfare is close to the fuctionality that you are suggesting and I don’t like it, even though there have been no drone rapes and it seems unlikely that such will occur. As to atrocities, I think hellfire missiles and such can easily commit horrific civilian casualties and those look like atrocities to me.



  46. 96
    Ron R. says:

    Apologies to the group for getting so off topic.

  47. 97
    nigelj says:

    BPL @92, good point, but it depends who is programming them. Some may delight in making robots commit atrocities.

  48. 98
    nigelj says:

    Ron R @91, AI could indeed make the population problem worse, but only if we apply it in that way, and let it become an excuse for complacency about the population problem. It could also make the population problem better, so smaller population with AI doing many jobs humans used to do.

    I think the benefits of AI outweigh the risks provided we use it sensibly. But I largely agree with your points.

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