A Climate Olive Branch

By Keith Kloor | June 22, 2011 11:06 am

Leo Hickman in the Guardian takes stock of some recent encouraging developments and muses:

Could peace talks ever end the ‘climate war’?

In his article, he wonders,

are there any shared goals between the two warring parties in the climate debate worth finding “peace” for?

Towards the end, he sums up:

When so much of this war is fought in anonymous online forums (see below for details!), would it be constructive to bring these two groups together in a room to begin tentative “peace talks” based on first trying to identify any common ground? Or is it hopelessly naïve of me to even suggest that this could ever bring positive results?

My immediate reaction to Hickman’s olive branch (before reading any response to it) was captured by the “BBD” commenter at Bishop Hill’s blog:

My own small experience – some of it in comments here – is that closed minds rule.

And indeed, a quick scan of the 100-plus comments on that thread bear this out. Hickman, in his comment at Bishop Hill’s, also noticed:

Thanks for responding to my Guardian article. Unless Andrew [Montford] has his own views, I’ll conclude from the reaction here that the answer to my headline question is a resounding ‘no’. It’s a shame that there doesn’t appear to be any common ground at all, but I’m glad I asked the question.

I have some ideas on why I think the hostilities between the warring camps will continue unabated, but first I’d like to hear from you.

Do you think the ‘climate war’ will grind on, irrespective of olive branches waved from either side? Or do you see some possible middle ground that can be agreed on?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, climate skeptics
  • Jeff Norris

    Conflict resolution is a b@#ch but it is possible even in the climate wars.  The first step has to be setting rules of acceptable behavior for both parties and in this case the behavior of interested third parties.  Too many flame throwers on each side willing to disrupt the process.  Step two would be to acknowledge that both parties have good intentions.  Finally before anything else can be done you have to agree on what the issues of conflict are and keep them separate as much as possible.

     I think this framework from a-climate-convert-roils-the-waters post would be a start.

    1. The scientific evidence “” what has been measured up until today “” and the AGW scientific theory to explain this evidence.

    2. Projections, predictions and scenarios of the future. This is based on the evidence and theory, but has not yet happened.

    3. Debate, proposals and decisions about what we will do about AGW. This is the legitimately political part. It is, and will be, based on parts 1 and 2, but is distinct from them.

    I don’t think you can find the middle ground until you are willing to define the extremes.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Jeff,

    “I don’t think you can find the middle ground until you are willing to define the extremes.”

    This seems about right to me, especially if you are referring to the overheated rhetoric employed both both sides.

  • harrywr2

    The end of the war will be the confluence of two events.

    Inexpensively extractable coal close to major population centers will be exhausted causing the price of burning coal to increase and the price of alternatives will decline.

    Lot’s of mudslinging in the last decade but few have noticed that mine productivity east of the Mississippi in the US dropped from more then 4 tons/man hr to less then 3 tons/man hr in the last 10 years. It’s not a phenomenon restricted to the Eastern US(UK Coal is struggling to make a profit despite historically high coal prices) but a Global phenomenon with a couple of notable exceptions…I.E. Wyoming.

    As transport costs of coal are tied to oil price  the largest remaining reserves of inexpensively extractable coal have a serious transport cost hurdle to jump.

    I’m sticking with economic ‘peak coal’ and ‘peak oil’ will occur this decade. There will be thousands of years worth of coal and oil left in the ground but there will be cheaper alternatives then digging it out of the ground.
     

  • RickA

    For the activists on each side – the war will grind on.

    Some on each side are more interested in the science and accurate data, and for those, a middle ground does exist.

    That middle ground is DATA.  How to gather the best quality data going forward.

    Both sides want better data – and many of the fights between them are about the data – its quality, how it is gathered, how it is processed, adjusted and homogenized, and so on.

    The Berkley project is already doing some of this – as is the surface stations project.

    So, both sides (I think) could agree on what instruments to place where, and how many, proper distribution across the globe, what data to gather (temperature, low, max, every hour, etc) are all areas I think could be agreed on by the non-activists types.

    This would cost money and require legislation, but is a very concrete task which needs doing anyway, as we are going to be monitoring the climate forever anyway – we might as well plan on how to do it as best as we can.

    Best practices for measuring CO2, ice thickness, etc.  - are all fruitful areas then.

    Another area is best practices for statistical handling of proxy data.

    Again, I would think that we should be able to get statisticians and climate scientists together  to figure this out, or at least what statistics should be used in addition to whatever novel methods the scientists want to use.

    It seems to me that 90% of the fights over reconstructions what involve proxy data are on the statistical techniques which are used and how well the proxy models temperature (for example bristlecones don’t seem to be good thermometers - varves may be contaminated by farming and dumping peat into lakes and ponds, etc.).  Again, if you get a wide group of people together, it would seem that there should be a correct answer on how to best move forward in this area in a manner which would satisfy both sides.

    Another area for middle ground is how to tweak the data after it is gathered.

    I would think that we should be able to reach agreement on whether data should be modified to adjust for UHI (and how), and sea-level rise adjustments, just to name two.

    For example, just a few days ago the sea level data was adjusted for glacial rebound, which I don’t really understand, because it seems to remove the relative nature of the ocean relative to the coastline.  I mean, what difference does it make if we pretend that the ocean rose 1 inch, when in fact on a particular coastline, it didn’t really rise at all?

    However, if we are going to adjust the volume of the ocean to account for the ocean basin sinking and the coasts rising (on average), shouldn’t we then also adjust the volume of the ocean to take out the thermal expansion due to the .8C of temperature increase?  Very straightforward question – and  I would think that a group of people could hash issues like this out and reach agreement on what is the best practice for measuring sea level.

    On UHI – I personally don’t understand why we adjust for it at all.

    If 2% of the United States is Urban, but is actually hotter because of asphalt and air conditioner exhaust, then it is actually hotter in 2% of the United States.  It would seem that we should know what the actual temperature is in downtown (name your large city here), rather than what the temperature would be if we pretended that the rural areas around the city were magically transported downtown.

    Wouldn’t it be better to arrange to have 2% of the temperature sensors in urban areas and 98% in rural and then average them to obtain the real temperature today in the United States?  I don’t know, but it seems like a straightforward question which has an answer.

    I would think that the two sides should be able to discuss such issues and give guidance on best practices.

    When it comes to public policy (and not science) – no way will the two sides ever agree, and it is probably a waste of time to try to obtain agreement.  After all, that is really the role of the politician and not the scientist anyway.  Let science just focus on gathering data and improving the models and let the politicians do the cost benefit analysis.

    For example, Jim Hanson (scientist, but also activist) wants to ban new coal powered plants, and phase out all existing coal plants over 20 years.  Wow!  A lot of potential problems with doing that (that is basically eliminating 1/2 of our baseload power generation) – so I cannot see the two sides agreeing on this as a scientific matter.

    It is really a political question, involving cost benefit tradeoffs.  I mean, could we generate 100% of our power needs with solar – yes – but wow would it be expensive and there would be a lot of blackouts (like at night).

     

  • http://rankexploits.com/musings/ Zeke Hausfather

    I gave it a shot on the science side awhile back, which resulted in some interesting discussion (or not so interesting in some cases…):

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2011/agreeing/
    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/26/agreeing/
    http://judithcurry.com/2011/02/28/agreeing-part-ii/
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/28/pielke-sr-on-zekes-zinger/

    For all but the most rabid ideologues, there seems to be some reasonable common ground, and some consensus that uncertainty rests more in determining climate sensitivity than on the basic radiative properties of GHGs.
     

  • Paul Kelly

    If Gavin is correct, as much as it pains some that he could be, the “war” is not so much about the science as about the solutions. So long as the solutions are seen as a political/governmental process and resistance to that process is ascribed to an information deficit, the war will not, can not end.

  • kdk33

    “the “war” is not so much about the science as about the solutions”

    I disagree, much of the argument is about the projected consequences and whether they warrant the proposed solutions.  And that’s different.

    “uncertainty rests more in determining climate sensitivity than on the basic radiative properties of GHGs”

    Exactly.  Although I would also add that there is uncertainty on the consequences – so it warms 3C what does that really cost us humans.

    Actually, I think the number of skeptics (and I consider myself a rabid denier) who argue against the basics – that it hasn’t warmed any, or that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas, or that GHG don’t exist – is actually quite small.  The warmist community exagerates their number to paint all skeptics in a poor light.

    So there is considerable progress to be made in at least figuring out what the argument really is.  IMO (but I’m a rabid denier).

  • Barry Woods

    Keith there were a significant number of positive ones comments at Bishop Hill…..despite ‘history’ between the Guardian and Bishop Hill

    The Guardian is distrusted for a number of reasons.

    Many Bishop Hill readers are blocked / deleted / pre moderated to oblivion on a regular basis.. at the Guardian. Whilst warmest regulars seem to be given free-reign (against policies)

    The classice example is Bishop Hill, when in a right for reply type article to a potentially libellous (many corrections from the Guardian) Guardian Opinion piece by Bob Ward about him..

    Bishop Hill was pre-moderate don hisown Guadain article and the Guardain had pre-briefed Bob Ward, allowing him the first comment (timestamped 2 minutes after the article appeared) sevrel hundred words long in reposne to a long article..

    which prompetly gave him the nickanme of lightenin fingers Bob for his speed typing skills  (or did the give him a heads up, and block te author)

    Well documented at Bishop Hill, still deleting at the Guardian….
    —-

    For the record, since I’ve been occasionally writing at WUWT, my problems at the Guardian, have disapeared, lest perhaps I write about it? (which I have at Bishop hill, given examples when James Randerson, editor popped up (plus screen caps)

    - So my comment to Leo Hickman appeared:

    ———-

    There are probably 3 reasons sceptics are ‘warming’ to Mark (whatever he believes about AGW).

    1) He called it as he saw it about the IPCC, and felt able to be in agreement with Steve Mcintyre about the issue (greenpeace renewables 80% issue) and then defended himself eloquently with an excellent analogy in his following article.He also in his comments said that Steve Mcintyre was right about ‘the hockey stick graph’ and Michael Mann wrong.


    2) When someone (me) asked politely if he had read the book – ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ A W Montford, (which details the history between Realclimate  and the ‘team’ and Climate Audit)  his reponse was, NO, but if someone lets me have a copy I will.

    He may have been surprised to find that, in a comment on his blog, that a Professor of Quantum Physics at Oxford University offered to lend Mark, his personal copy, and arranged to drop it off at MArk’s pigeonhole also at Oxford.  Very many advocates even won’t read books, especialy even recommended by Professors (Curry, and J Jones) saying not that you have to agree with it, but it might help you understand where people like Steve Mcintyre are coming from. Apparently it is now  there waiting for Mark to pick up…..

    3) Mark also linked to a sceptic website that was new to him (NoConsensus, Donna Laframboise) saying she had made a number of fair comments about Greenpeace and other ngo involvement in the IPCC process.  Little did Mark Realise that he had just linked to what some of the more extrem AGW advocates would consider to be ‘climate denier central’ amongst the sceptical blog. (check her sourcewatch entry) Mark went on to defend her fair comments, to some peoples chargin..

    Additionally Mark was intelectually hones t enough to enter into debate in his blogs and responded to some criticism pointedly to Bob Ward, (grantham) that has particulalry taken exception to the Hockey Stick Illusions author Andrew Montford in the past (and his blog Bishop Hill)

    Additionally, Mark had said publically on another blog, that his link a Deniers Hall of Shame (he is on the Advisory Board) was shameful on reflection, and he would consider his involvement (Campaign Against Climate Change – George Monbiot Hon President, Caroline Lucas Green MP, Jean Lambert Green MEP)

    All the above is verifiable in the links Leo Hickman kindly provides in the article.

    That is why this sceptic is pleased that a civil, interesting debate has taken place, dispelling a number of pre-conceptions on both sides.  Whereas most want to be in the middle ground, but have been forced to pick sides (lets ALL dump the extreme rhetoric and behave like adults)

    —————–

    If you look at the Guardain article the ‘warmest’ regulars are out in force being abusive to the idea.

  • Barry Woods

    I would also agree that the biggest problem area is ‘solutions’

    ie even Mark Lynas / George Monbiot now think the green solutions that close down ALL nuclear in Germany is dumb. (ie they know that more coal will be burnt instead)

    But for many there is no debate to be had, about Energy policy

  • Barry Woods

    ..that is if some of the ‘solutions’ are even necessary.

  • Nullius in Verba

    It depends whether you want “peace” or “consensus”. Common ground is possibly a relevant question for consensus, but while there is indeed a lot of common ground, the bits that are not are the problem. It’s not really relevant to the question.

    For “peace”, what is needed is an acceptance that it is legitimate for people to disagree. People can hold different views, discuss them, talk about the evidence and so on, all without one side or the other being “idiots”, “anti-science”, “deniers”, “cranks”, “liars”, “stupid”, “misled”, “disinformation propagandists”, and all the rest of it. Both sides have to accept that the other side can legitimately have their own opinion, interpretation, and judgement on the data. Both sides have to agree that the other side doesn’t have to change their mind to be somebody worth talking to.

    Because there will always be people who don’t agree to that, the warring will continue. But you could always have a subset that was able to make peace, so long as they were willing to ignore provocation from those outside the group. There are already a few small ones around.

  • http://geodoctor.wordpress.com/ Matt

    Middle ground, I don’t know.

    But there has certainly been movement in the ‘climate wars’ in the 4 or 5 years I’ve been following it (albeit from a distance). There is now common ground in terms of the basic science- radiative properties GHGs, anthropogenic signature for instance. Still much debate about sensitivity and time scales of course, but you don’t seem to get so much of the kooky stuff any more: that it’s the sun, or that it’s all just made up etc.

    The debate does seem to be more about policy, which is where it should be (and should have been a long time ago). The ground has certainly shifted, whether there’s a middle or not.

  • Tom Fuller

    Whether it’s labeled peace or consensus, or acquiescence or submission, what I think we’re really looking for is resolution.

    The way to find that is for both sides to accept someone who volunteers their services as mediator, a process of establishing trust, and later acceptance of the same person as arbitrator.

    Not sure who would fill the bill…

  • Sashka

    The crux of the matter is climate sensitivity. Depending on what it is we have a big problem on our hands, or a small problem or (almost) none at all. Clearly, this is a scientific question which cannot be resolved by negotiations, voting, good will or expert estimates. As long as this is not resolved, or at least well bounded, we will continue debating the solutions until pigs fly.

  • Tom Fuller

    Sashka

    I would personally modify your statement (which is similar to statements I have made in the past). I think that a sensitivity as low as 2 would justify serious concerns about impacts.

  • Sashka

    Maybe, depending on what you mean by “serious”. We already have almost 1C since the clock started ticking. I wouldn’t describe anything that already happened as even half-serious. But you perceptions may vary.

    If we knew that it’s 2C, or at least between 1.5 and 2.5C, then we could have a meaningful discussion of how to best deal with it. But we don’t.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Barry Woods at @8 writes: “Keith there were a significant number of positive ones comments at Bishop Hill.”

    Really? What would you call a significant number out of nearly 200 comments? I mainly see one person (BBD) trying to reason with uncompromising partisans, such as the shubster.

  • Tom Fuller

    Sashka at 16, well, I tried that–see Bart’s old post about me and the League of 2.5 (which I guess is similar to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in terms of plausibility)…

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    I would say getting people to agree to this would be a good middle ground:
    There are 3 distinct discussions. we should not confuse them

    1. The scientific evidence “” what has been measured up until today “” and the AGW scientific theory to explain this evidence.

    2. Projections, predictions and scenarios of the future. This is based on the evidence and theory, but has not yet happened.

    3. Debate, proposals and decisions about what we will do about AGW. This is the legitimately political part. It is, and will be, based on parts 1 and 2, but is distinct from them.

    #######
    Of course, even discussing  #1, is seen by SOME as a DELAYING TACTIC.

    We discussed this at Lisbon. I got to role play as a CAGW person. I walked out of the meeting and said that even having discussions or debates about science that was already well understood was merely a form of delay and we need action.

    Basically, the appeal to find a middle ground is a form of delay. Lukewarmers are no different than skeptics.  Or some such silly argument.

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Can someone representing the pro-AGW side respond to what Mosher asserts: that discussion of the scientific evidence “is seen by SOME as a DELAYING TACTIC.”

    Is this true?

    On a related note, it’s interesting to me that regular readers of this site who often duel with skeptics are staying silent–so far. Do you not wish to share your thoughts on Hickman’s proposal? Because I didn’t read his article as an appeal to only one side.

     

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    of course, even discussing  #1, is seen by SOME as a DELAYING TACTIC.

    Yes: the ubiquitous, nefarious “SOME.” Damn them.
    I don’t know whether this puts me into the ranks of the SOME are but I would suggest that there is a zeroth discussion: “how do we evaluate scientific evidence?
    Does one need a full education in atmospheric physics before one can make a judgment? Is it ever appropriate to defer to expert opinion? If so, who qualifies as an “expert?” Practicing scientists in the field only, other scientists, theorists, hobbyists? Can iron-sun level theories be safely considered beyond the pale, or should everything be considered?

    It seems to me that without an agreed upon filter for evaluating the evidence, there can never be any way of getting to 1. The difference between a “delaying tactic” and mere delay is, then, moot.

  • Menth

    When it comes to conflict resolution among warring sides of a contentious issue I heard it put best a few months ago on this very blog. Harrywr2 said:

    “…The problem with enemies lists is once someone is placed on the list they start acting like enemies.

    Good politics is there are supporters and undecideds. The point being if someone is labeled an “˜undecided’ the bridge remains”¦once someone is labeled an enemy the bridge is burned.”

  • http://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/ thingsbreak

    @20 Keith Kloor:
    Is this true?

    As with everything else, it largely depends on the context. We will continue to try to more precisely constrain well-trod aspects of the problem for a long, long time. Nothing wrong with that.

    In terms of demanding a consensus before moving forward, people arguing over things known with confidence levels of, say, whether or not the equilibrium sensitivity is >1 or better are- whether they intend to or not- taking up time for discussions of things that actually matter from a policy perspective.

    People who want to agree on nothing else and to do nothing before these already well-covered issues are revisited for the nth time or known with 99.999999999995% confidence rather than +90% are acting to delay meaningful policy debates. Whether this is intentional or not, it’s the end result.

    Of course Mosher’s entire formulation is needlessly hyperbolic/borderline strawman, from the “CAGW” moniker on. The “debate” on blogs is nothing like the meaningful international negotiations. The latter are concerned with economic growth and impacts.

    If you want to have a meaningful discussion about the issue and are starting with a blank slate, that’s an altogether different conversation than if you want to have a meaningful discussion about the issue and are relatively up to speed on the science, and different still from wanting to have a meaningful discussion with someone claiming that GHGs cannot drive significant climatic change and the like.

    it’s interesting to me that regular readers of this site who often duel with skeptics are staying silent”“so far. Do you not wish to share your thoughts on Hickman’s proposal?

    Can’t speak for anyone else, but I haven’t read it.

  • Barry Woods

    17#
    I’d still go to Leo’s meeting.

    Keith – a significant number, as in IPCC speak ;) ! ?

    did you look at the Guardian comments – MUCH worse in the opposite direction)

    Given the ‘history’ with the Guardian behaviour over Bishop Hill, giving free reign to Bob Ward, to attack ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’s author and the Guardians moderation and deletetion policies, I think it is significant…

    I’d go

    Leo I believe is genuine, but he is so wrapped up in the green bubble think, partly of his own making, he perhaps does not realise how he come across…

    but I was pleasantly surprised when Leo was twittering what a pigs ear (paraphrase) that the IPCC hade made of the 80% renewables issue, and that the IPCC had learnt nothing..

    Meanwhile, I’ve been swapping climate jokes with Mark Lynas by email so all things are possible..  (phil Jones devotional circle ;) )

    It does help that I’ve been a regular on Mark Lynas’ blog, before all this excitement started and not part of a number of the drive buys occurred. (ie Oliver K. Manual and J Bowers)

    (I’ve been commenting at Mark’s blog since it started)

    Yes, so I said I’d go along, nothing to really lose, get aquainted, maybe everybody would be forced to drop a few pre-conceptions about each other.  I think my sister in law is a very nice person (green Party press officer, parliamenatry candidate and former editor of Greenworld) just wrong about one issue, as we know each other we can’t/won’t call each other names.

    I’m sure the guardian boys/girls are nice people to, except that they get lost in ‘denier’ rhetoric directed at faceless people constructed to be ‘deniers’ flat-earthers’, etc.. hard to do this if you are sharing beers in a pub (and the person hasn’t got an Exxon ID badge ;) , or 2 heads )

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    let me sharpen what I said:

    “Of course, even discussing  #1, is seen by SOME as a DELAYING TACTIC.”

    Let me sharpen that to  “debating #1 is seen by SOME..”

    Clearly, some people see DEBATING the scientific evidence as a delaying tactic.   That is the whole basis of “the debate is over”, “settled science” memes.  They want to move to action.

    Basically,  “a discussion” of the science is ok, as long as you follow the rules. don’t question the science. Sit there and listen. Read the peer reviewed literature ( hank roberts will google it for you). If you want to challenge anything… do your own damn science and get published, then we will discuss.

     

  • EdG

    Keith Kloor Says:
    June 22nd, 2011 at 3:34 pm
    Can someone representing the pro-AGW side respond to what Mosher asserts: that discussion of the scientific evidence “is seen by SOME as a DELAYING TACTIC.”

    Well clearly some on the “pro-AGW side” think that delaying the publication of scientific information is a good idea.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/09/lindzen-on-getting-the-special-treatment-for-publishing-papers/

  • RickA

    Keith #20:

    I am not pro-AGW – but isn’t that what the precautionary principal is all about.

    We cannot wait to be sure – we have to act now, just to be safe (my paraphrase).

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Whether it’s labeled peace or consensus, or acquiescence or submission, what I think we’re really looking for is resolution.


    If resolution is all one wants, then by far the easiest way to obtain it is to simply surrender. But people usually want either victory or the truth instead. A better approximation to the truth comes only from mutually respectful debate, not arbitration.


    “…or known with 99.999999999995% confidence rather than +90%…”

    90% could easily be a reasonable starting point for a discussion, except that my first question is always “How did you calculate that 90% number?”, and my second “did you mean confidence or likelihood?”, after which the conversation goes rapidly down hill.

    Others have said: “authors reported high confidence in statements for which there is little evidence [...] the guidance was often applied to statements that are so vague they cannot be disputed. In these cases the impression was often left, incorrectly, that a substantive finding was being presented.” Of course, that’s a well-covered issue, but one no nearer resolution now than it was several years ago.

    The problem with saying that debates about well-covered fundamentals are delaying debates that actually matter on meaningful action is that the action debate depends crucially on the fundamentals debate. Fundamentals are essential to rational decisionmaking.

    I would venture to suggest that what blocks meaningful debate on action is widespread (but not universal) refusal to deal with the debate about fundamentals at more than a superficial “assert and cite” level, and declare any persistent attempt to question it as a delaying tactic.

    Of course, if the issue has been explained fully, and is still not accepted, then all one can do is shrug and move on to someone else. Moving the immoveable is not required. But sometimes people call it a delaying tactic or a pointless waste of time in lieu of giving a rigorous answer to a basic point that has hitherto been accepted without question. Only a full debate can distinguish the cases.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    Things:

    “Of course Mosher’s entire formulation is needlessly hyperbolic/borderline strawman, from the “CAGW” moniker on. The “debate” on blogs is nothing like the meaningful international negotiations.”

    Let me try again to explain. At Lisbon we got together to discuss the the grounds for discussion.. essential conflict resolution.

    the leader of the discussion did not understand why more people who believe in AGW were not there to discuss matters. So I volunteered to make an argument ( ROLE PLAY ) for the people who would refuse to show up for this kind of thing. First noting that people like McIntyre and mcKittrick were there. I asked Why should I legitimize them? Also, Goddard was there, there is no hope of a conversation with him. As the leader tried to push me to discuss my differences with them, I explained to her that the time was for ACTION. Action Now. And any efforts to get me to sit down with them to discuss issues that were either settled or unimportant was a waste of my time, and just a delaying tactic. As she tried to get me to talk to them, I left the room.

    The point of the little exercise was to illustrate how some people think about this discussion. They firmly believe that the time for action is now, they believe that talking to certain people or giving them a voice is a waste of time, they don’t want to debate or discuss the science   except to lecture and hector and frighten. They close the comments, they disinvite Mcintyre, they ban commenters.

    On the other side, you do have the people who also are not commited to dialogue. They gish gallop, they doubt for the sake of doubt you know the tactics well.

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    Basically,  “a discussion” of the science is ok, as long as you follow the rules. don’t question the science. Sit there and listen. Read the peer reviewed literature ( hank roberts will google it for you). If you want to challenge anything”¦ do your own damn science and get published, then we will discuss.

    The “rules” as you call them, directly relate to the zeroth discussion. How do we evaluate scientific evidence? On what basis are challenges to be made? If both sides don’t agree on how to evaluate, then of course challenges just look to the other side like bullshit objections to justify delay. If both sides don’t agree on how to evaluate, then of course pointing to the science looks to the other side like appeals to authority.

    I would venture to suggest that what blocks meaningful debate on action is widespread (but not universal) refusal to deal with the debate about fundamentals at more than a superficial “assert and cite” level, and declare any persistent attempt to question it as a delaying tactic.

    Ibid. How is the scientific evidence – for and against – to be evaluated? This is a genuine question, and a fundamental one. Any talk of olive branches is meaningless if the whole basis of the debate is apples and orangutans.

  • Leo Hickman

    I just wanted to say thanks to Keith for hosting this debate here. It’s good to see this discussion taking place across different forums with their respective followers. I don’t want to steer the debate here one way or the other by getting involved, as I’d rather just see how the debate progresses ‘naturally’. Anyway, my original article sums up my thoughts to date. Thanks again.

  • Stu

    Menth quoting Harrywr2-

    Good politics is there are supporters and undecideds. The point being if someone is labeled an “˜undecided’ the bridge remains”¦once someone is labeled an enemy the bridge is burned.”


    I’ve been mulling over this recently. For instance, when I read raypierre’s comments the other day, I wondered just how much good they might do in terms of potentially allowing more people to align with his views and those of realclimate in general. Not that I can speak for anyone else of course, but my feeling was that his appeal would do little to sway others and was maybe actually kind of damaging. Referring back to Harrywr2, I interpreted raypierre’s comments as being perhaps ‘bad politics’, in other words, a problem associated with viewing the landscape in terms of supporters and enemies. There was really nothing there for the guy in the middle, the undecided guy, to chew on. Now, I have no idea as to Ray’s real intentions – is he even desirous of more support? I can only guess that he must be. But this relates to  something I’ve wondered about for a while.. and that is how a left wing guy such as myself has over time (and I admit, unfortunately) come to view the majority of those representing the AGW ‘side’ as almost essentially unlikeable, mainly owing to the fact that there is almost really NEVER any type of effort to extend an olive branch of any kind to the other side. Steve Mc points something out. He is called a clown.  After a while it almost gets to become a kind of joke where everyone’s dueling away in this propped up landscape (yes the skeptics can be just as bad, as Keith points out in the main post), one which is obviously built for ease of use in service of politcs, but which actually just handicaps and harms instead.

    Perhaps the main reason now for my continued interest in the AGW issue (again, unfortunately) is in seeing whether a new relationship can be built out of all this. The climate wars have grown so stale that I feel that of course they must end, and perhaps this will actually happen sooner rather than later. But of course, who knows?

    (this is a late night, sleepy answer. Apologies in advance for spelling, incoherence, or whatever).

  • Tom Fuller

    Stu, I think your coherence is fine.

    It appears from the outside that the consensus side consciously adopted a tactic of ignoring, minimizing, ignoring and deligitimizing opponents.

    I can understand the tactic. When their opponents were the CEIs of the world, I can (almost) sympathize with it.

    But their failure to adapt to the changing environment left them in the position of sliming and slamming honest people of good will.

    Kind of hard to walk back from that, but they should at least try.

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    It appears from the outside that the consensus side consciously adopted a tactic of ignoring, minimizing, ignoring and deligitimizing opponents.

    It may appear so. I can understand that.  But both sides have been adversarial from very early on because both sides have (rightly or wrongly) perceived that the other was proceeding from a place of bad faith.
    And I will bang my drum again: the zeroth discussion has never taken place. Is the peer-reviewed science probative in terms of the evidence for and against? What role should there be for soi-disant auditors? Who audits the auditors?
    We can argue until blue in the face (or the fingertips) about which side has the bigger jerks. Umbrage is a fully renewable resource. But if we are going to talk about common ground, how can we get there if we don’t even agree on which way is up?

  • kdk33

    Regarding zeroth discussion.  Tough one to define in full, but here’s two ways to NOT evaluate scientific evidence for Moshers #1:  a) appeal to authority, b) quotes form summaries and abstracts.

    Look at the data.  Just the data.

    Now that still leaves projections and model predictions  (Mosher’s #2)  Those rules may be a bit harder to define.  But part of that might be comparing predictions made in the past to what actually came to pass - yea that’s kinda vague. 

  • Jeff Norris

    A way to overcome the walkout Mosher described is seek out people who are willing to engage from the proponent side.  There are some, Hickman for example.  The way I would put it to PDA and TB (who I had a nice talk with once) is “You say we have limited time, and to date we have made little progress.  Force of will only had led us nowhere.  Let us move from the era of confrontation and impasse to the era of negotiation and progress.”  Not all the flame throwers will agree but so what.  The people who do agree to talk have to be given not only safe conduct but all parties having to agree to deal harshly as a group with anyone who would upset the negotiation both inside and outside the table. The process would have to be governed like a barbarian tribal conference with peace bonds but updated to the modern era. 

    It is not going to be a one week conference to decide anything really.  Besides getting everybodyto show up, the first thing  to agree on is the rules of conduct and  build relationships with both sides.  Go get drunk together, see a movie, maybe show pictures of each other children or grand childrens.  20 years of hard fighting and harsh words  won’t be easy to overcome.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Conflict resolution is possible as long as both sides truly strive for it.  Unfortunately, supposed attempts at resolution are rarely true attempts.  Normally, they are little more than maneuvering.

    Paul Kelly makes a remark @6 worth considering:

    If Gavin is correct, as much as it pains some that he could be, the “war” is not so much about the science as about the solutions.

    Of course, there is serious question of if Gavin is willing to attempt to resolve issues given the sort of behavior he has shown.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “How is the scientific evidence ““ for and against ““ to be evaluated? This is a genuine question, and a fundamental one.”

    It’s a good question, and one that I’ve no wish to give too glib an answer to. It’s something that will need to be discussed between participants and will no doubt evolve with the debate. For myself, I’d say standard logic, statistics, and textbook general physics. Other people will need more, (or less). If we agree that explanations will be expanded on request, it’s something we could work out, I think.

    Mostly, I find arguments break down with far more basic/obvious problems before it becomes an issue.

    Also, in such a contentious debate I’d be inclined to leave evaluation of the evidence to one side to start with, and settle for understanding. It’s part of the idea of accepting disagreements as legitimate. Once you fully understand your opponent’s argument, evaluation is very much a matter for one’s own intellectual principles.

  • Jeff Norris

    Should have added, to the hardliners on the opponent side. “Come and watch, you don’t have to agree to anything, you can just observe. You still will be held accountable to the rules of conduct though.”

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    Look at the data.  Just the data.

    And evaluate it how?

    I can’t imagine that I’m making an especially complicated or subtle point here.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I can’t imagine that I’m making an especially complicated or subtle point here.”

    You’re talking about defining the philosophy of the scientific method. It can be complicated and subtle from time to time.

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    You’re talking about defining the philosophy of the scientific method. It can be complicated and subtle from time to time.

    I agree, to some extent, though I don’t necessarily feel that every last thorny question in the theory and praxis of scientific inquiry needs to be definitively resolved before the discussion can progress in a structure like the commenter’s three areas.

    I’m saying, rather, that there should be a shared framework for evaluating evidence before evidence is evaluated. This seems to me to be a rather uncomplicated assertion.

  • kdk33

    PDA,

    I was pointing out that both sides should evaluate the actual data, and not appeal to a 3rd party (the author’s) summary of what the data means. 

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    I was pointing out that both sides should evaluate the actual data, and not appeal to a 3rd party (the author’s) summary of what the data means.

    Sure. I agree.

    But how should they evaluate the data? By smell?

  • Jeff Norris

    PDA 44
     By smell?
    That is where the mediator would have to come in and say that comment was counterproductive.  “I understand your frustration but let’s try to all work together.”  Even if Kdk does not retaliate he will become  defensive expecting a similar type remark later.  Also others who hear it will feel free to make similar remarks if noone objects right away.

  • http://cluebyfour.com PDA

    Jeff, that response was way better than what I originally had in my edit window.

    Maybe my idea is really, really stupid. Or maybe I’m expressing it very poorly. To me, it seems like a perfect illustration of the problem we are having here. We all say “the data should be evaluated” but because we have such different ideas about what that even means, it’s literally impossible to have a conversation about it.

    One side is speaking Urdu and the other side is speaking Klingon. Someone else comes in speaking FORTRAN and asks about olive branches. I say let’s first figure out what language we’re speaking.

    I’ve said enough. Pax vobiscum.

  • intrepid_wanders

    I find PDA’s comment very appropriate.  This “evaluation framework” is reducing science to an art form.  Evaluation in the scientific principles is straight-forward and simple.  Predict something.  Whether it be predicting a future data point or that a colleague or adversary can reproduce your experiment, that is all the evaluation that is needed.

    So far, all I see is “smelling” ;)

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    I’m confused PDA.  Nobody can give a single answer as to how data should be evaluated.  It depends upon the data and questions being considered.  As it stands, it seems you’re asking an impossible (and silly) question.

    Just what are you trying to ask?

  • intrepid_wanders

    How about this Brandon.  Even if us “deniers” do not believe in the “consensus science”, let us all replace our coal and gas power plants with nuclear power plants?  I do believe all of us can tolerate this “non-carbon solution” as a stop gap until we can afford the more expensive solutions.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    I’m not sure I get the relevancy, but I think most “deniers” could support a phased transition into nuclear power generation.  I think you overreach by saying “all… coal and gas power plants,” and I don’t think it could be as sudden as your comment might make it sound, but otherwise, it seems like an agreeable position.

  • intrepid_wanders

    I apologize for the non-specific.  “ALL” is indeed an over-reach  How about 99% as a target over the next 75 years (I forget the Pielke Jr. eval, maybe Tom Fuller can be more specific) would be reasonable?

    I do have to admit to being stunned.  ‘Most’ other of the other camps pull the Greenpeace and WWF party line (No nukes, ever).  Your surprise me.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    I’m not going to try to pick a target number as I don’t have enough knowledge on the subject.  I instinctively doubt anything as high as 99%, but I really have little idea.  Having said that, I’d be surprised i 50% wasn’t an plausible minimum target over the next 75 years, and I could be convinced for much higher targets.

    By the way, this is just my personal impression, and I don’t even fit in a “camp.” so I could be wrong.  My impression is based on the fact I think the main question for “deniers” would just be one of economical effects, and transitioning more to nuclear power seems good in that regard.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    Re 42:
    “I’m saying, rather, that there should be a shared framework for evaluating evidence before evidence is evaluated. This seems to me to be a rather uncomplicated assertion.”

    Yes. if you dont have ground rules about standards of proof and what counts as evidence, it’s pointless to start.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    re 36
    “A way to overcome the walkout Mosher described is seek out people who are willing to engage from the proponent side. ”
    You also have to have people who are willing to accept evidence. In many of my arguments with skeptics they seem unwilling to establish a consistent method for accepting evidence.

    I will give you the most glaring example. SOME Skeptics will, for example, prattle on about how we are coming out of an LIA.
    They believe in an LIA. That means they accept the concept that the globe was cooler then, than now. That entails several things
    1. a belief in the very concept of a global temperature.
    2. a belief that a very sparse record of data ( LIA data) is good enough to WARRANT assent.

    Now take that same person and discuss modern records. They will
    1. deny that the concept of a global average has any sense.
    2. argue that we have too few records.

    When pressed, few will see that their grounds for WARRANTED BELIEF change depending upon the thing being asserted.
    Another example: many will criticize the modern record as being full of UHI. That’s monday. On Tuesday they will see a paper that correlates sun spots with the temperature record and they will say “SEE!” its the sun.
    None will realize that if they believe the record is corrupted by UHI, that correlating sun spots with that record amounts to saying that sunspots are correlated with UHI. On monday they reject the record, on tuesday they use the very same record.
    ha. So on one side you have people who leave the room and on the other side you have people who change their grounds for belief like I change my socks.
    #####
    so much for peace making, sorry keith

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    PDA.

    “The “rules” as you call them, directly relate to the zeroth discussion. How do we evaluate scientific evidence? On what basis are challenges to be made?

    we are in violent agreement.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    Just to be clear, in Lisbon I was Role playing for that brief 5 minutes. After I opened the door to leave, I returned. The point was to show why some people would see such a meeting of people as a threat to action.

    I don’t doubt their sincerity. In some cases I think walking out is the right action. I’ve walked away from many debates when it was clear to me that the other party was not engaging.

    Nobody wants to address the zeroth order discussion. The endgame is buried in that discussion.

  • intrepid_wanders

    Brandon, your “non-camping” is refreshing.  Please do not take offense, but you would be dismissed as “red’ (like Mark Lynas) for conceding the nuke position.  I would join any discussion you would enjoin.

    Best.

  • intrepid_wanders

    Steven Mosher,
    @54
    “1. a belief in the very concept of a global temperature.
    2. a belief that a very sparse record of data ( LIA data) is good enough to WARRANT assent.”

    Are you saying that there has never been any bias or tampering with the basic data-set of the above groups?  Was the UHI adjustments (Hanson light point tweaks) satisfactory to your taste?
     

  • DeNihilist

    Two words, Leo

    Judith Currie

  • Paul Kelly

    To end the climate wars, find one or more equally compelling reasons to as rapidly as possible replace fossil fuels that are valid regardless of climate concerns. I can think of several and am sure most others, warmer and skeptic both, can too.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    Mosher doesn’t mention a plausible counterpoint, albeit one I’m not sure I’ve ever seen advanced.  It is quite possible to advance multiple, contradictory points simply by not advancing them as the “truth.”  Instead, one can simply provide them as possibilities.

    It’s like in a murder trial.  I can suggest Bob did it, and I can suggest Steve did it.  Both ideas contradict each other, but both can call into question the idea John committed murder.

  • Jeff Norris

    @36 and PDA

    You are exactly right.  That is why goal posts or standards have to be clearly defined before any contest can begin.  You have to agree in broad terms probably unrelated to the controversy of what is acceptable and what is not.   Then apply that agreed upon standard to the actual issues at a later date.  Some issues, maybe even a lot of issues will have to be tabled and not be brought up in any way.   Hopefully that won’t dilute the process down to worthlessness.
    You can’t go into it with the idea of solving everything at one shot.  At this point getting a significant number in the same room without throwing chairs would be progress.   Start small both in size and scope then  build upon that to take on more issues and more people.

    It would not be easy, and there is no guarantee of results but it would be a change from the monotony of charge and counter charge.     

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    ntrepid_wanders Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 12:03 am
    Steven Mosher,
    @54
    “1. a belief in the very concept of a global temperature.
    2. a belief that a very sparse record of data ( LIA data) is good enough to WARRANT assent.”
    Are you saying that there has never been any bias or tampering with the basic data-set of the above groups?  Was the UHI adjustments (Hanson light point tweaks) satisfactory to your taste?

    #############
    1. first we would have to agree on what counts as evidence of bias or tampering.
    2. second we would have to agree that no one can ever logically rule out a grand conspiracy.. so it’s very hard to establish NEVER. how do you establish a negative? maybe the observers wrote down the wrong temps?

    That said, I will say this about your questions.
    A. Tampering. If by tampering we mean a CONSCIOUS and DELIBERATE act to change data from a state which we believe to be TRUE to a state which we believe to be FALSE, then I can say that I find no evidence of tampering. There are occassions in the past 4 years of looking at more data and more data sources than I care to recount  I was sure something questionable was being done to small numbers of cases, but upon repeated inspection I’ve found that the changes are either inconsequential in the global scheme of things or fully justified.
    B. Bias. The same for bias.
    The biggest issue in the datasets and adjustments made to the datasets is not tampering or bias. the biggest issue is the UNCERTAINTY that is attendent with every modification. I can go into too much detail on this for this thread. A bright spot is the Berkely method which makes no adjustments.
    Hansen’s Nightlights. Here I don’t think you know what you are talking about and you’ve probably not followed my work.
    Let’s list the problems with nightlights.
    1. Station metadata (lat/lon) is not accurate to 1km as Hansen asserts.
    2. the geo registration of the nightlights image is not good to 1km
    3. the pixel itself is 2.7km
    4. nightlights is not a good global proxy for urban/rural. Its a proxy for electrification. India is a good example of where nightlights breaks down

    5. Hansen 2010 used a deprecated dataset ( personal comm from the PI of nighlights ) there is a better dataset from F16.

    All that said, hansens nightlights really doesnt answer the question. However, using better station location data, and better proxies for urbanity, I’ve found that the answer doesnt change much. UHI is real, but it doesnt change the global answer much. It cant. it cant because the land is only 30% of the total. Still there are some interesting things to note. they JUST DONT CHANGE PHYSICS HOWEVER. C02 warms the planet. How MUCH it warms the planet cannot be determined from the surface record. the surface record can show you the transient climate response, but not the equillbrium climate response. It’s not that important for constraining sensitivity

    If you wanna know where the record is weakest… its SST.
    Even with that UHA and RSS tell us most of what we need to know about UHI. If it exists, its small. The world is warmer now than in the LIA. we know the temperature better now than we know the LIA temperature.
    The real question is not about 1/10ths of C of UHI. The real question is the sensitivity to doubling. But its fun to argue about 1/1oths of C and UHI.
     

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    re61
    Brandon Shollenberger Says:
    June 23rd, 2011 at 1:23 am Mosher doesn’t mention a plausible counterpoint, albeit one I’m not sure I’ve ever seen advanced.  It is quite possible to advance multiple, contradictory points simply by not advancing them as the “truth.”  Instead, one can simply provide them as possibilities.”

    Yes. but thats not a conversation or dialogue between truth seekers. Its a defense tactic, more suited for the court room.

  • James Evans

    I think the tiny tiptoes that some people are making to bridge the divide in the climate debate are very promising. It’s true that the comments on the Bishop Hill blog haven’t been too encouraging, but there seemed to be a lot of comments from sceptics on the Grauniad site that welcomed the idea of a rapprochement. Focus on the positive, I say.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #54,
    I don’t see it as a problem. You can challenge sceptics to come up with a consistent position, as part of the debate.
    For example, a global MWP/LIA is a hypothesis for which there is insufficient evidence either way, but for which there is more than negligible support, and the fact that weather+UHI is correlated with sunspots does not imply that UHI is therefore correlated with sunspots, although a poorer fit is expected. It’s not impossible to do.

    Only when they fail to do so but insist they already have does a problem arise. Either it follows logically or it doesn’t.

  • charles

    There is something to be said for Hickman’s proposal of actually meeting together in a room.

    People tend to be much more dismissive and agressive when commenting anonymously on blogs than they would in face-to-face meetings (see the rude comments by both sides at the Guardian and at Bishop Hill for some classic examples).

    So for this reason I think that your negative conclusion and that of Leo Hickman is incorrect.
     

  • charles

    Mosher is misrepresenting the skeptic argument. (#54)

    First he uses the usual straw man argument, “skeptics say… ” without providing  specific examples.
    Then he misrepresents the number of stations argument – it is not that there are too few, it’s that stations are selected (with a huge recent cutback in numbers) in a curious way that seems to favour airports, hardly ideal places to measure temperature.

    Than he misses the point completely. When a skeptic talks about UHI on Monday and sunpots on Tuesday, he is not saying on Monday  “I believe with a high degree of certainty that the 20thC temperature rise is due to UHI”  and on Tuesday “I believe with a high degree of certainty that the 20thC temperature rise is due to solar activity”.  He is saying that each of these are plausible alternative views that could have a significant impact and therefore there is no justification for saying “I believe with a high degree of certainty that the 20thC temperature rise is due to human activity”.

  • Jeremy Harvey

    Most unmoderated blogs accumulate quite a lot of noise below the line. The Bishop Hill thread had a lot of comments, many of which were not directly relevant to the topic. Also, Leo Hickman and the Guardian are clearly not going to be viewed without suspicion by many sceptics or lukewarmers, given the very shrill articles written by him and/or in that newspaper in the past, and the asymmetric nature of comment censoring at the Guardian. So some degree of irritation was inevitable.

    But there were other comments – mine, Richard Drake’s spring to mind – that effectively welcomed the idea of a more open dialogue, in which the scientific argument could be explored in a less aggressive way. I think it is the science that needs debating, by the way, not just the other things Leo highlighted.

    Some ideas: It would clearly be good if an attempt was made to engage with the more scientifically credible people on the sceptic side – the sort of people who do not use inconsistent arguments, as pinpointed by Steven Mosher here. ‘Dialogue’ initiated by consensus people often seems to involve inviting representatives of the less reasonable end of the sceptic side to take part, perhaps the better to show them to be wrong. The sceptic side is not structured, and does not have much representation in official circles, so it is unreasonable to expect it to put forward reasonable representatives in an organized way.

    Also, it would be good for the consensus side to try to give some structure to “The Science” rather than treat it as a monolith. I think that the topics that are really very well established (the existence of a greenhouse effect, the concentration of CO2, the anthropogenic origin of some of it) could be separated from ones that are less well established (global temperatures for the last 2000 years based on proxies, or, especially, feedbacks and their treatment in models) and from ones which are less relevant and more open to political manipulation (Polar Bears are Dying! The Oceans are Doomed!). I can understand that people don’t want to talk to the sort of sceptic who doubt the first set of topics – but that sometimes seems to be used as an excuse to not have any dialogue on the second and third sets either. And policy suggestions based on science belong in a different set also – doubting the wisdom of cap and trade is not the same as believing that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas.

    The people in the media who tend to reflect the consensus need to engage in dialogue also – try to accept that not all disagreements with consensus positions are equal, try to clarify what the issues are.

  • Menth

    I don’t want to detract from the momentum of where the current thread is going and thus feel this comment will be somewhat O/T. Nevertheless I’ll go ahead.

    In the interest of “zooming out” to the larger dissension between “skeptics” and “believers” or however you’d like to characterize the debate, I submit that at the core is a fundamental difference of social psychology between generalized groups. On the one side are skeptics who as a recent paper on the effectiveness of “doom-saying” said:
    …information about the potentially dire consequences of global warming threatens deeply held beliefs about the world as  just, and orderly, and basically fair . Individuals may overcome this threat by denying or discounting the existence of climate change and this may mean decreased willingness to act on climate change.”

    This was in my estimation a fair analysis of a large portion of intuitively skeptical members of the climate debate. However I believe it would be equally fair to invert the quotation to depict intuitive “believers”:

    “...information about the potentially dire consequences of global warming affirms deeply held beliefs about the world as unjust, and disorderly, and basically unfair . Individuals may reinforce this threat by denying or discounting evidence that contradicts climate change and this may mean increased willingness to act on climate change.”

    Essentially what I’m getting at is that both sides approach the issue from intuitive moral standpoints and not just rationalized, objective interpretations of data and this makes it exceptionally difficult to reconcile. I have found the most persuasive proponents of global warming arguments are those that acknowledge both biases.
    For anybody interested in further reading I suggest a very interesting paper by social psychologist Jonathan Haidt called “The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail”.

  • Robbo

    First thing, is This is the internet. It has a wide audience of clever, insightful people but in addition a noisy populations of people pushing agendas and simply making mischief. Any sensible discussion has to start by filtering out the name-calling mud-slinging and invective, ignoring the noise, identifying and discounting the ad hominems, the guilt by association, the arguments from authority, arguments from ignorance,  in totality.

    Second thing. There are some true irreconcilables involved. Michael Mann will not give up his belief that the Hockey Stick was generated by valid methods from valid data, and truthfully represents the temperatures of the past 1,000 years. Steve McIntyre believes he has demonstrated that neither the data nor the methods support the Hockey stick as a truthful representation. They can’t both be right, nor is there any possible compromise between the two views.

    Similarly, climate dynamics is either governed by a strong negative feedback constraining rising temperatures, or it has a ´tipping point´at which positive feedback goes into runaway catastrophic heating. There is no middle ground, if one true the other must be false.

    The way to deal with true irreconcilables is to haul everything out into the open. What is the data, how good is it. How are any adjustments calculated, justified, tracked. What are the remaining sources of data error. What is the cause and effect theory. How good is the theory in terms of basic logic. How consistent is it with related, time-tested theories. How good is the theory at explaining observations, past and present. What does it predict about future observations. In due course, how well do the actual measurements match the predictions, etc etc.

    I may be cynical, but it seems to me that the people with the correct approach mostly belong to the side of the sceptics. The fact that there are also crazies on the same side is irrelevant. The other side puts an awful lot of effort into wagon-circling and defending the indefensible. It´s long overdue they put it all on the table and worked it out like scientists should.

  • Jack Hughes

    Time for a BRAIN CHECK.

    How are these peace talks going to work? It’s going to be like holding peace talks with the Jehova’s Witnesses. They think I’m gonna rot in hell and I think they are already there. We could find all kinds of common ground, but so what?

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com Bart Verheggen

    Is debating the science seen as a delay tactic? Depends. A critical question on a scientific issue at a scientific conference will not be seen as a delay tactic. Someone on a blog questioning basic scientific issues that have long been understood to most experts’ satisfaction and larding the questioning with talk about a global communist conspiracy will quite likely be seen as a delay tactic (or if not a conscious tactic, at least leading to that as a result).

    Now between these “extremes” is of course a large middle ground, and a big part of the problem is that the distinction between an honest critical question and just arguing for the sake of argument (and thus delay) is very blurry. The problem is exacerbated because some who started out with honestly criticizing issues have their issues exaggerated and larded by talk of fraud and conspiracy by their followers. Perhaps because they like the attention they’re getting, they seem to be elevating this sort of dynamic to an art form (e.g. McIntyre).

    It makes making a distinction as to what part of what’s being said is an honest question deserving consideration and discussion and what part is merely fluff/exaggeration/playing/accusations more difficult than it already is. In turn, it also makes mainstream scientists and their supporters more and more defensive to this sort of criticism and the people involved.

    And the circle is round.

    How to get out of it? Phew. Wish I knew.

    I think it makes sense to distinguish the science and the societal response (“solutions”), e.g. as also Mosher advocated (I don’t think the science necessarily needs to be (or even can be) split in observational and modeling, as they depend on and strengthen each other).

    In line with TB’s comments, to mainstream science supporters such as myself it is extremely frustrating to engage an argument such as we don’t know enough, we need more certainty before even discussing what to do (if anything). That’s not only because I deem that as irresponsible considering the risk and the timescales involved (the “stop button” has a delay of multiple decades so we have to act with foresight), it is also because more in general that is not a rational way to deal with risk, and I’m sure they don’t deal with other risks that way (e.g. health, the economy, driving in a snowstorm). Such an argument also feeds my suspicion that the real bottleneck is not their perception of the science, but rather their perception of the solutions. Which makes a refusal to even consider any solution rather than the debating the science even more frustrating.

    To get out of this “dance” a potential way is perhaps to agree to discuss these things iteratively rather than consecutively.
    Right now one side wants the scientific picture to be laid to rest in the public debate and move on to solutions; the other side wants the scientific picture to be debated and not touch the solutions debate until an arbitrary threshold of certainty is reached. I think it makes sense to discuss these things iteratively: Science (nor the public debate about it) does not suddenly stop at some arbitrary threshold, and more knowledge can be used to finetune needed solutions. As the potential risk according to most scientists is large and the timescales of the problem and the solution are long, we should also make a serious start with discussing solutions. Like if you hear a diagnosis from your doctor which you don’t quite believe, a rational response imo is to search for more information but also to start investigating options how to deal with the diagnosis, in case it “proves” correct. This is esp important if there are long delays in the chain of action-effect.

    On a previous thread here kdk33 and myself had a constructive discussion touching on similar issues.

  • kdk33

    PDA,

    If you will read my original commnet , I said I couldn’t answer how to analyze the data (that’s a really big question, IMO), but that we should NOT do [paraphrasing] appeals to aurthority. 

    You agree, then are snarky because I didn’t do what I explicitly said I would not do:  define how data should be analyzed.  I apologize you are disappointed… ’nuff said.

    Here is specific example.  Not long ago on a thread here I was directed to data showing that bad weather is increasing with warmth.  I expected to see a plot of some bad weather metric (heavy rain events, for examle) versus temperature.  Instead, I found a dizzying barrage of time series data, from wihich the authors claim a positive slope over the 20th century (IMO, this claim is debatable, but that is beside the point). 

    This apparently becomes evidence that AGW causes bad weather.  But wait, 20th century temperatures rose early on, the declined, then rose again, and now are about steady.  So the bad weather trend should be shaped similarly; it wasn’t (or did’t appear so to me).  A proper X-Y plot would have illustrated how well (or poor) bad weather actually correlates with temperature.  Why wasn’t it done this way?

    The rabid denier in me says the authors were so desperate to find a scary trend that they totured the data until it kinda sorta confessed.  The cynic in me says they are just not very good scientists.  The technical part of me says:  whey the heck can’t we just do this right.

    Now, that’s one case.  Others might play out differently.  Depending on the level of detail you are after.  I don’t know that you will find a “way to evaluate data” that would apply in much of a general way.  I think it’s a case by case situtation.

  • kdk33

    PDA,

    Another example.  Not long ago I was directed to data showing a SLR accelerations.  Sure enough, in the abstract, the authors claim SLR had increased by 50%.  Wow.

    But wait.  The acceleration was teased from pretty variable tide gauge data; the more recent and more accurate satellite data shows no acceleration.  Further, even if I accept the acceleration (.01 mm/yr2), that doesn’t yield a very scary SLR scenario over the next century or so.  And back to the tide gauge data – apparently there are lots of them and depending on whcih set you use and on the starting/ending points you get different answers for how SLR is changing (in other places I’ve read there is significant spatial-temporal variation – as they say)..

    So how eo we write rules for this situation.  there would be a myriad of rules for using tide guage data (maybe even adjuting for land alevation changes, or ocean basin volume).  The rules would have to tell us which kinds of data count most (satellite?, adjusted satellite?), and then we would need to set some criteria for how much SLR is scary and how much is not and this requires that we have really good economic handle on SLR consequences.  I think these would be pretty hard to write down a-priori.

  • kdk33

    lastly (3 posts in a row, I’m gonna end up in Keiths Spam filter).

    While I like Moshers list of 3, I think he left out a 4th.  The cost (I usually say consequences) of some climate change.  So, even if everyone roughly agreed that climate sensitivity was 1.0 and could roughly agree on CO2 trajectory, would we all agree on how bad (or even beneficial) that is.

  • Tilo Reber

    The only common ground should be nuclear.  Refusal of nuclear is a sign from the AGW crowd that what they want is a social agenda, not a solution to AGW.  And as long as the AGW crowd is lying to us about what their real agenda is, we are going nowhere.

    For the skeptics, the best tactic is to prevent any AGW action.  With each year that passes, the earth will make it more and more obvious that the idea that there is an AGW emergency is a lie.  The AGW people are desperate to get political action now because they fear that their predictions of disaster will not happen – thereby leaving their political agenda stranded.

  • Brandon Shollenberger

    charles indicates @68 the position I suggested is indeed the position (some?) skeptics hold, a position unjustly criticized by mosher @64.  Despite mosher’s claim, it is exactly the position any truth-seeker should adopt.  As long as one doesn’t know an answer, he or she should look at all possibilities.

    I really am at a loss as to why mosher is critical of this approach.

  • Sashka

    @ Bart

    That’s not only because I deem that as irresponsible considering the risk …
    As the potential risk according to most scientists is large …

    I don’t know what “most scientists” say but I’d like to know what they can prove. To the best of my knowledge it amounts to nothing. Not only that risk is not quantified but I cannot get anyone from your side to even define what you are talking about. Is the risk related to our ignorance only? Or is it due to chaotic nature of the climate system? Or is it both? Or is it something else? Simply repeating that it is large on every turn doesn’t take you anywhere. For a skeptic, it sounds like an attempt to scare without any basis.

    I’m sure they don’t deal with other risks that way (e.g. health, the economy, driving in a snowstorm).

    And you are right. Here’s the reason: we think we understand those risks. Now, you seem to be really enamored with the snowstorm analogy. Since you are known to be one of the more moderate voices on the alarmist side, I suggest that you tried to think why some people could find this analogy irrelevant? Assuming that your goal is to engage, not to scare, it would help your own cause.

    we should also make a serious start with discussing solutions

    I don’t understand how is it possible to solve an undefined problem.

    Like if you hear a diagnosis from your doctor which you don’t quite believe, a rational response imo is to search for more information but also to start investigating options how to deal with the diagnosis, in case it “proves” correct.

    But this is nowhere near the climate situation. We don’t have a potential diagnosis. We have a continuum of possible diagnoses with unknown probability distribution. A close analogy would be this. You may or may not have a gangrene in your pinky. But the infection could have propagated up to your wrist. Perhaps it went as far as the elbow or even higher. Do you want to amputate your whole arm up to the shoulder?

  • Tilo Reber

    Steve Mosher: “None will realize that if they believe the record is corrupted by UHI, that correlating sun spots with that record amounts to saying that sunspots are correlated with UHI.”

    That’s kind of a silly sterotype, Steve.  A skeptic could believe that the instrument record is overhyped by 1/3 due to UHI and adjustments.  They could believe that 1/3 of the temperature rise is due to solar with cosmic rays playing a role in cloud formation and they could believe that 1/3 is AGW.  And they could believe that there is a temperature correlation to that 1/3 solar which gets larger as you go back in time.  There is no contradiction there.

    Considering that the modern proxy records do not show the same rise as the instrument records is another reason, beyond UHI, to doubt that the entire increase is real.  So why make this dumb argument that someone who objects to the instrument record is claiming that there is no warming.   Most skeptics believe that there is warming – they just think that it’s not as large as the instrument records show.

  • Tilo Reber

    Regarding the issue of a delaying tactic from the skeptics side, this is absolutely true.

    When the position of the AGW side is to declare an emergency and demand immediate and draconian social legislation, the delaying tactic is absolutely the correct response.  There is no evidence that waiting another twenty years to get a better climate sensitivity number is a problem.  Nothing of any consequence is going to happen within that time period.

    The AGW side is afraid that they are going to waste a perfectly good emergency.  But we have had 13 years of no change in surface temperature and that cannot be explained by natural variability.  The modeled predictions are drifting further off each year.  The warmers want to make the argument that 13 years is not enough to prove anything.  But they are afraid that if they wait any longer, the period will get long enough so that they can no longer make that claim.  And their models will end up being falsified.  I guess the next tactic for the AGW crowd is to ask, “If we can’t get our whole agenda, what can we get in a compromise?”  Their ability to get anything out of a compromise falls with each passing year that the earth fails to behave as predicted by AGW.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Suppose you know your roof is rotting, and your spouse doesn’t believe it, and wants to spend money on a deck instead. Suppose your friend comes by and suggests a smaller deck, and repairing only half the roof. Does this constitute a compromise? Or does it constitute a shared misunderstanding of the situation. If your friend understood that your roof was rotting, that ultimatley the whole structure of your house was at risk, the friend would not be proposing a meaningless gesture toward fixing it as a compormise.

    I find the conversation bizarre. The whole idea that there are two interest groups which can find a way to compromise is a false model which has been sold by one group which has tried to manufacture the other. In other words, this is essentially a denialist framing, that suggests it’s politics vs politics, not politics opposed to a realistic view of physical reality.

    There is no compromising with Nature. When you ask “Do you think the “˜climate war’ will grind on, irrespective of olive branches waved from either side? Or do you see some possible middle ground that can be agreed on?” you are asking a question that strikes me as meaningless. Eventually humans will stop adding large amounts of fossil carbon to the biosphere. Until that happens there is an ongoing, deteriorating problem.

    Some people refuse to believe that, either garbling the science or systematically underestimating the scale of the impacts. OK. Then we are arguing substance, not politics, and the concept of compromise doesn’t enter into it. Either Sashka is right and it’s probably just a cut in our pinky or I am right and the whole arm is already black and throbbing. Or perhaps the truth lies in between. We can argue; if we both try really hard we can even argue honestly; but there is nothing on which to “compromise”; we basically occupy different worlds.

    The balance of evidence itself is not constrained to be in the middle, to be reasonable, to consider the opinions and sensibilities of both sides.

    You are looking for a compromise between the enormous effort that science (as many of us understand it) implies to be barely adequate, and the continued casual indifference promoted by others. The compromise is what, a wholly inadequate effort accompanied by lip service? We already have that.

    I have a hard time believing in a positive outcome that is based on anything other than people getting a good understanding of what is going on. I wish journalism would try to help, and not keep striving for compromises where the whole idea of compromise doesn’t make any sense.

    Either it is a duck or it isn’t a duck. Trying to get everybody to settle on a half-duck will not work. It’s not me being stubborn, either. It is the duck’s fault.
     

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    80:
    “Most skeptics believe that there is warming ““ they just think that it’s not as large as the instrument records show.”
    Saying that requires some work. Like you I believed that the record overstated the warming. However, PROVING THAT and quantifying that is another thing.

    You have the tools to quantify it. go ahead.

    As for your  1/3 due to UHI
    Lets see.  The rise in global temps is about  .8C
    for 1/3 of that to be due to UHI…   .3C of the increase due to UHI?

    You have a serious problem making that argument fly. Land is only 30%.  That would make the land truly cooler than the Sea. and you’d have a hard time reconciling that with UHA and RSS.
     

  • cagw_skeptic99

    Given that current worldwide weather isn’t empirically much different now than it was in the 90s when all the alarmist hype started, and the decisions by most of the Governments that matter outside of Europe to continue growing their use of carbon based energy, it appears that the alarmists get to watch their projections unfold.

    If sea level rise were to suddenly accelerate, if snow actually stopped happening in the UK, or any of the other alarmist projections actually happened, perhaps Governments that matter will revisit their decisions.

    More garbage science like the recent sea level paper involving more Mannian math magic only confirms what many skeptics believe.  If the science was real then real scientists would publish papers where their data and methods were openly disclosed.  Replication would be simple and serious people could then discuss what the science means.  Since the Team continues to hide their work and hype their garbage science, and the most of the rest of the scientific establishment just watches quietly and says nothing, people like me will regard AGW as a curiosity.  Likely it will follow the same path as Eugenics; it ten years most of the AGW alarmists will be marveling at new data that improves our understanding of the natural variations that drive our climate.  AGW alarmist thought will slowly fade to gray.

  • Tilo Reber

    Mosher: “As for your  1/3 due to UHI”

    First of all, I didn’t say 1/3 UHI, I said 1/3 UHI and adjustments.  And adjustments also apply to sea surface data.  Second of all, the 1/3s were arbitrary divisions, used as an example, to show that your claim of inconsistency in believing in both UHI and a solar correlation being a problem is nonsense.

    Why are you going out of your way to misinterpret what I have said?

  • Sashka

    @ Michael

    I also think it’s primarily about substance. Nevertheless, if you define the duck as 3C sensitivity then half-a-duck is quite a possibility.

    It is not true, however, that I believe that it’s just a pinky. I really don’t know. What I’m saying is that nobody else knows either.

  • Tilo Reber

    Tobis: “Suppose you know your roof is rotting, and your spouse doesn’t believe it, and wants to spend money on a deck instead. ”

    But you don’t know that your roof is rotting.  That makes all the rest of your argument a waste.

    But if you think that your roof is rotting, then fight for nuclear – because you are not going to get anything else.

    “I have a hard time believing in a positive outcome that is based on anything other than people getting a good understanding of what is going on.”

    Actually, the polls show that the more people look into the phony AGW emergency the less likely they are to believe that there really is an emergency.   For example, people have heard Hansen’s projection of meters of sea level rise.  Then they go look at the data and all they see is a rate of about a foot in 100 years.  And if they look more closely, they can even see that the rate is slowing between the first half of the satellite data and the second half.  So suddenly this immage of New York city under water becomes so much BS to them.  They feel like the warmers have been trying to sucker them.  They get the Himalayan story and they feel the same.  They get the climategate story and they feel the same.   Remember, the alarm bell has been ringing for a couple of decades now.  And people don’t see squat happening.  If you are going to alarm people, there better be something happening quickly or people are going to blow you off.

  • kdk33

    I think MT is right.  There is an argument about substance – climate sensitivity and consequences of warming – and that’s the argument that must preceed the policy question.

    So really, we’re told by a roof repair guy that our roof is rotting (go figure), but the rot seems hard to to find when we go look, and it ain’t leaking yet. The A/C is old, the house needs painting, and that new addition needs new duct work, the wife wants a deck, and the kids want a pool, and the job isn’t looking so secure.

    Our best strategy then is to buy a big screen TV and a new SUV (kidding).

    skeptics fall into the camp of: let’s paint the house, get a ceiling fan for the new room, wait ’till the A/C breaks, buy the wife a deck (obvious reason), join the community pool, wait and see on the roof.

    Yes, I’ve abused the analogy, but it was fun.

  • Tilo Reber

    kdk33: “So really, we’re told by a roof repair guy that our roof is rotting (go figure), but the rot seems hard to to find when we go look,”

    And you know that the roof repair guy needs the work.  You ask him to show you the rot, and he says, well, you can barely see it right now, but my model says that your roof will fall in in 2 years.  You call in another roof repair guy and he tells you that your roof is good for another 30 years.

    Again, why are you not pushing nuclear?

  • harrywr2

    Jeff Norris Says:

    <i>I don’t think you can find the middle ground until you are willing to define the extremes.</i>
    Identifying the extremes is counter productive.

    As an introduction of myself.

    I was part of a group called the ‘Iraq Data Group’..it was an invitation only discussion group on Iraq.
    One of the things General Petraus did in Iraq and is doing in Afghanistan is dividing the population into 3 piles. Supporters, Reconcilable and Irreconcilable.

    The only way to find out who was on the ‘Irreconcilable’ list was to read the obituaries.
    Along the way some pretty nasty people ended up reconciling.

    As a case in point…Wyoming is the coal capital of the world…it is probably one of the last places on earth where one would expect to find serious discussions about replacing coal fired generating capacity.

    But there it was in my morning nuclear power news search…the state of Wyoming is having serious discussions about the future of nuclear power in Wyoming.

    http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/article_8d965145-f377-596a-aa51-fb902cd01694.html
    If even Wyoming is talking about potentially, maybe, at some point moving away from coal then who are the irreconcilables in the climate debate?
     

  • http://skepticalscience.com grypo

    Yeah, well, I can’t say it better than mt has.  We, and I mean me, can come to agreement on adaption, short-lived aerosols, R&D, efficiency, etc, and I’ll agree to all that right now, but we are kidding ourselves if we don’t include mitigation.  We still need to keep coal in the ground by making it’s actual price more realistic to it’s external costs.  I’m not sure why people are willing to arm-wrestle the physics here.  The risks are immense to the next generations, and we are undoubtedly converging on abject moral failure without slowing down the train.  Perhaps it’s time to let the twenty-somethings take control.  It’s gonna be their world and their kid’s world.

    Brandon mentions nuclear.  This is what we should be discussing, as a politically neutral bridge, and if Romm et al don’t like it, that’s too bad.  I think it’s a bit too late to convince everyday Joe-sixpack of the ability of renewables to power the near future, even if it is technologically feasible.

    So there it is.  We adapt. We fund.  We become efficient.  But we still need to mitigate, so make nuclear feasible.  It’s not as easy as people think, but it looks like our only shot presently.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “you have a serious problem making that argument fly. Land is only 30%.  That would make the land truly cooler than the Sea.”

    It’s an interesting point. The instrumental global temperature record used by some goes back to 1850. How many temperature stations were there in the sea in 1850?

    UHI may have some difficulties claiming a major effect with the later part of the record, but could have been more influential before the 1940s and the expansion of global sea travel.

    But that’s off topic. The point is that the sceptics are required to adhere to the requirements for evidence, consistency, and scientific method as much as the believers are. I don’t have a problem with sceptics being challenged on points like this, should anyone ever use such a set of arguments. If they can’t answer them, and clarify how their position is actually consistent, then the believers win a point.

    Setting standards of evidence is difficult, but it isn’t impossible. And the difficulty shouldn’t make it forever impossible for believers and sceptics to have a mutually respectful debate. It depends greatly on whether you want one, or whether you want an excuse for not having one.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Some people seem to think that climate science is in cahoots with alternative energy in some way, but climate science gets no significant benefits from any market advance by renewables or nukes.

    Yes, there may be stibbornness arising from pride; people don’t like to let go of publicly stated positions. This bias applies to everyone.

    But as for whose bread is being buttered, the argument is completely backwards. AGU meetings are funded by member dues. Naysayer meetings are funded by mysterious benefactors.

    The analogy of the corrupt roof salesman is baseless nonsense.
     

  • Tilo Reber

    Tobis: “Some people seem to think that climate science is in cahoots with alternative energy in some way, ”

    Another willful attempt at misleading the argument.  Climate scientists have to make a living like everybody else.  They need government grants and other grants to do this.  Those grants are much more plentiful if they can make people believe that disaster is on the horizon.  And government loves the idea of having another emergency to use as an excuse for taxation and socialization.

    Now who are these people that claim climate science is in cahoots with alternative energy?

    Tobis: “The analogy of the corrupt roof salesman is baseless nonsense.”

    Your inability to see the real motives behind alarmism is baseless nonsense.   People like you that scream “the sky is falling – the end of mankind is at hand” have been around since the beginning of time.  They have never been right.

    So why are you not pushing nuclear? 

  • Nullius in Verba

    #93,
    You mean, those scientists who wrote the Greenpeace report the IPCC took up did it for free?

  • kdk33

    Naysayer meetings are funded by mysterious benefactors.”

    Oh, please.  Think the AGU isn’t a lobbying organization?

    But we probably shouldn’t veer off into percieved motivations.

  • Tilo Reber

    Tobis: “Naysayer meetings are funded by mysterious benefactors.”

    Yes, everyone is corrupted by money – except climate scientists.  Their intentions are pure and only concerned with true science.

    No doubt this is why a “real climate scientist” like Mann has now published the same upside down Tiljander data three times.  And this is why those prestigous science journals have let him publish the same upside down Tiljander data three times.  And that is why those peer reviewers who catch all faults have rubber stamped the upside down Tiljander data three times.  And that is why those pure AGW blogs, like yours, Tobis, have never made a peep about Mann publishing proxy series upside down.  Instead you claim that only you have the blessing of “The Science” just like the religious claim that God is only on their side.

  • http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/ Bart Verheggen

    Grants are more plentiful if uncertainty is large.

  • DeNihilist

    Well then Dr. Verheggen, you should be happy with the sceptics.
    :)

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    “Think the AGU isn’t a lobbying organization?”


    Well, slightly, but so slightly that its current president is required to recuse himself from any actions related to lobbying. The idea that an organization like AGU exists for a purpose other than the advancement of its science is baffling. I’ve never seen any sign of that, and the membership wouldn’t put up with it.

    “You mean, those scientists who wrote the Greenpeace report the IPCC took up did it for free?”

    I suppose the authors got consulting fees but it’s irrelevant. IPCC WG 2 and WG 3 are not about climate science; they are about impacts and about adaptation and mitigation. It’s a good question whether think tanks, NGOs, etc. should be allowed to influence the more qualitative IPCC reports with their papers. If they are, they should be included regardless of their politics. But it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    Climate science is the place where we are being asked to compromise facts with political inclinations of those who dislike the facts. There is no honest way to do that.

    Both of these questions were perceived by me as hostile and political.

    Keith, what would a compromise with people who accuse an honest discipline of dishonesty look like? The scientific community regards WG 1 reports as definitive and even understated. Much of the public regards these reports as the product of some inbred socialistic UN cabal. Sane policy depends on who is right about this. Does it make sense to compromise facts with paranoia?

    If it does, the way to have your enemy sent up for life for murder is to accuse him of two murders and go for the compromise.
     

  • Tom Fuller

    #93, How many examples beyond that of Oxburgh do you require to understand that this particular skeptic concern is justified? I would expect that it is possible to find very large numbers of those with an active voice for the consensus side of the debate who have a financial stake in its outcome.

  • Tilo Reber

    Bart Verheggen: “As the potential risk according to most scientists is large and the timescales of the problem and the solution are long,”

    You keep talking in abstractions about the “large potential risks” and about “most scientists”.

    So let’s start with your definition of exactly what these large potential risks are; then let’s see if most scientists do in fact support those as being large potential risks; then let’s see if there is sufficient evidence to support what they support.

    So let’s have the list.

    Also, why are you not pushing nuclear instead of making endless generalizations that convince no one.  I can’t take anyone seriously when they claim that there is this gigantic problem but they will not push for something that is a solution – if there is such a problem or not – especially when it is a solution that their opponents will accept.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/20/tipping-points-easy-come-easy-go/

  • Tilo Reber

    Tobis: “Keith, what would a compromise with people who accuse an honest discipline of dishonesty look like?”

    You keep making these absurd statements while having your head in the sand about issues like using upside down Tiljander data three times.

    Tobis: “Does it make sense to compromise facts with paranoia?”

    The fact is that you’ve got nothing and the paranoia is the paranoia that you are trying to generate from nothing.  But by all means, don’t compromise.  I certainly will not compromise.  Nothing will satisfy me other than thowing this insanity into the dustbin of history.   The only function that AGW alarmism will serve in the future will be as a poster boy for the failure of alarmism in general.

  • kdk33

    MT,

    If I undertsand correctly:  Skeptics are decieved by Big Oil executives (or other nefarious actors) who are scheming to destroy their grandchildren’s future in exchange for short term profits.  Climate change scientists are engaged in a monk-like pursuit of truth and saving the planet and could care less about publications, research funding, tenure, or sexy powerful globe trotting postions like IPCC lead author.

    With all due respect, I think you are being a little silly.

  • dorlomin

    Leo Hickman is now going to lead some kind of discussion on climate science?

    So far as the blogs go, we all pretty much know each others positions. We are all pretty well staked our and waiting for the data to come in.

    Other than yet another thread saying the same things we all say over at Climate Etc, The Blackboard, Watts Up, Skeptical Science and so on, what different is going to happen?

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    Well, ideally, politicians will stop betting on the wrong horse in time to behave reasonably. And I suppose that is what “common ground” is about: giving the politicans a space that is reasonably safe from both sides.

    But since so many people are so ignorant and/or stubborn, there is very little common ground. I am still waiting for someone to challenge the consensus that 7 times 8 is 56; I wouldn’t be totally surprised by something like that at this point.

    To find “common ground” is not even to find the midpoint between the people who best understand the climate system and opinionated amateurs, a bad enough suggestion. It is to find what even the most ignorant and opinionated will concede. In other words, to abandon science altogether and wait to see what happens. Which, of course, is the policy goal of some of the people who own fossil reserves. Obviously.

    The debate is twisted, indeed. But one side wants it twisted; confusion is victory for the delayers.

    Since there is so much more at stake than some money and some elections, it would be nice if everybody stopped acting like grownups and actually, you know, grew up.
     

  • Nullius in Verba

    #100,
    Are impacts, adaptation and mitigation not the most important aspects of climate science, from a practical point of view?

    “Climate science is the place where we are being asked to compromise facts with political inclinations of those who dislike the facts. There is no honest way to do that.”
    True. Oh, so very true.

    “Both of these questions were perceived by me as hostile and political.”
    That’s certainly an arguable point of view. I didn’t think much of the “naysayer” comment, either. Is it an accusation of dishonesty?

    I agree that a political compromise between error and reality is not a sensible concept. I think that the analogy of the corrupt roofing salesman is worth considering – it may or may not be true, but it is as much a point of view, an alternative hypothesis, that it is as necessary to consider as the converse. kdk33 understood your point of view, and was simply explaining his by extending the analogy. We ought to be able to express it, and you ought to be able to express its converse without things getting unfriendly and out of hand.

    That’s part of what I mean about accepting disagreement as being legitimate.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    “Are impacts, adaptation and mitigation not the most important aspects of climate science, from a practical point of view?”

    Is that deliberately ambiguous?

    No, not from the point of view of the field that is under attack; it is not a valid boundary of “climate science” as a community or a discipline at all.

    And of course, if we are wrong, there is not much point to the other groups, is there? So it’s fair that we get plenty of skepticism, but is is not fair that we are undermined, attacked, and cast as villains in conspiracy fantasies.

    On the other hand, yes, if we are right, they are the most important questions to address in order to inform policy, because to first order, the work of physical climate science in informing policy is complete.

    Maybe we will advance to a capacity to do local predictions. It’s not impossible. So I am not suggesting pulling the plug, just putting your best people on it, and if it looks reasonably solid, taking our word for it and leaving us back to our former obscurity. Please and thanks.

    So if climate science is right, it is time to pass the ball to the economists, agronomists, civil engineers, and ecologists, and let them hack out what to do with it. “impacts, adaptation and mitigation” are where the most crucial open questions are. If that’s what you meant.

    But the outlines of the physical problem, that’s WG 1, and if someone calls themselves a “climate scientist” that’s the part of the IPCC that we’re professionally interested in.
     

  • Sashka

    @ 106

    I am still waiting for someone to challenge the consensus that 7 times 8 is 56

    I am still waiting for someone to explain to me the concept of risk as requested (umpteenth time) in 79.
     

  • Sashka

    @ 108

    Climate science is not right or wrong. Climate science is clueless.
     

  • Tilo Reber

    Anyone ever notice that Tobis never answers any of the questions asked of him and never responds to posts showing where he is wrong.  He simply continues to chant the same message, again and again, regardless of what anyone says.  It’s as though he were all alone in a room talking to himself.  The message:  “We are right, they are wrong.  We are good, they are bad”.  There really is nothing else.  It’s like AGW – devoid of substance.

  • http://www.veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    Tilo Reber Says:

    June 23rd, 2011 at 12:06 pm
    Mosher: “As for your  1/3 due to UHI”

    First of all, I didn’t say 1/3 UHI, I said 1/3 UHI and adjustments.  And adjustments also apply to sea surface data.  Second of all, the 1/3s were arbitrary divisions, used as an example, to show that your claim of inconsistency in believing in both UHI and a solar correlation being a problem is nonsense.

    Why are you going out of your way to misinterpret what I have said?

    ################
    I’m showing you that 1/3 does not work and cannot work.
    Adjustments to SST?  sorry, you’ve got a lot more work to show that.
    You see everybody waves their hands about adjustmenets but precious few people have looked at them since I’ve been doing that and urging that since 2007. So, forgive me if I don’t take arm waving about adjustments seriously.
    The issue with the adjustments is the uncertainty, not the magnitude.

  • http://hro001.wordpress.com Hilary Ostrov

    @100 Michael Tobis writes:

    The scientific community regards WG 1 reports as definitive and even understated. Much of the public regards these reports as the product of some inbred socialistic UN cabal

    Would you care to provide some *evidence* in support of your claim regarding how “much of the public regards [the IPCC] reports?

    No?  Didn’t think so. 

    When asked for *evidence* in support of your claim several months ago that:

    [According to] Trenberth: “Landsea “¦ called a press conference and resigned from IPCC but he was not even part of IPCC. He had been asked by me to write something as a contributing author.”

    your silence was nothing short of deafening.

    Trenberth may well have (and no doubt probably did) make such a claim.  Yet the record clearly shows that Trenberth’s … uh … recollection was far from accurate.

    This being the case, MT, gimme one good reason why one should accept any of your sermons from the mount. 

  • http://hro001.wordpress.com Hilary Ostrov

    Two links in a post sends it to moderation? Or is it just my name? What gives, Keith?
    [Yes, two links automatically does it. I have no idea why you think it might have had something to do with your name.//KK]

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Is that deliberately ambiguous?”
    No.
    “No, not from the point of view of the field that is under attack”
    This may be part of the problem. I’m not thinking of it in terms of the climate science community, or how they feel about it. I’m thinking about it in terms of the world; its economy, governance, problems and solutions. Either way, the decision has a vast impact on billions of lives.

    All three working groups represent the input of climate science to the policy process. All three are seen from outside as different aspects of “climate science”. All three need to be held to the same high standards.

    “So it’s fair that we get plenty of skepticism, but is is not fair that we are undermined, attacked, and cast as villains in conspiracy fantasies.”
    Do you know how many times my position has been undermined, attacked, or cast as the villain in fantasies of fossil-funded conspiracy? I’ve been connected to big tobacco, Exxon, and polluters, called selfish, stupid, ignorant, insane, told I’m deliberately destroying the future of my grandchildren and the poor of Bangladesh, opposed to science, opposed to rationality, and cynically operating to maximise short-term profits for fat-cat capitalists smoking their cigars over the dead bodies of baby polar bears…

    The idea of mutual scepticism without all the undermining and attacks is exactly what I understand this peace proposal to be about.

    “because to first order, the work of physical climate science in informing policy is complete.”
    There’s one step left – you have to prove it. Meet the challenge of community peer review from a sceptical scientific community. Show your working. Be transparent. Exemplify the highest scientific standards, and ruthlessly cut out those parts that don’t meet them.

    This is a big part of the problem you’re having. Besides all the detailed science issues, there are two big things that ring alarm bells for me – the refusal to openly acknowledge errors, and not acting as if they really believe this is a planetary emergency. The thing that first led me to investigate was Phil’s “Why should I make the data available to you…” comment, which was so outrageously anti-science that I couldn’t understand why the climate science community were not up in arms about it. That led me to the Hockeystick, which did not in itself bother me that much – bad science happens – but I found the way part of the climate science community defended and dodged and evaded out of all proportion, and the way the rest stayed silent about it did. And when it turned out that much of the reason was academic empire-building – that people refused to publish data because they wanted to get more papers out of it, or to defend IPR, or out of professional loyalty – it made me wonder if they really understood/believed in the significance of this. If I spotted a planet-buster asteroid hurtling straight for Earth, I’d refuse to share the processing algorithms because they were my intellectual property?! That’s too weird!

    It is ironic that the efforts to defend climate science at all costs are what have done it the most damage in the long run. Seeing any criticism as an attack, rather than a useful check, has painted climatologists into a corner from which they cannot now easily escape. In case you’re right, then I really hope you’ll take the steps necessary to turn things around and restore confidence, as harsh as they may seem.

  • kdk33

    The most difficult, almost intractable, aspect of the technical debate (IMVHO), is the time constant argument (both MT and Bart have offered this to me recently),  Basically, the idea that GHG added today lock in warming for coming decades (the system has large time constants or lag times).

    So, rabid deniers like myself ask to see the scary SLR data or the extreme weather data or the runaway temperature data and the scary just ain’t there.  But the MTs and Barts will say the the scary is yet to come; we must act now, hurry, if we wait for confirming scary data it will be too late.

    I, rabid denier, think MT and Bart sound like carnivel seers.  MT and Bart, convinced their predictions are firmly grounded in science, think I’m a knuckle draggin’ republican who believes in god and other right wing fairy tales.

    Their predictions AIUI are based in part on computer models and in part on their understanding of various climate forcings and responses.  One the one hand, I’m forgiving if computer models don’t get all the details right – I think they are useful, even necessary, learning tools.  OTOH, I do think they are (very much) abused…

    So, my question to MT and Bart and other similarly minded folks (my questions are usually ignored, indicating my position on the CaS pecking order, but nevertheless) is this:  What data can you show us, what evidence can you offer, to better convince people that your projections are likely to be right.
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    There are many excellent comments on this thread that have given me much food for thought. Thanks to all for a great discussion.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    “Anyone ever notice that Tobis never answers any of the questions asked of him and never responds to posts showing where he is wrong.”

    “never answers” is wrong, but I’ll give you “often does not answer”. Nobody pays me (or to my knowledge, anybody else) to reply to all this nonsense. It’s a lot easier to say something untrue than to explain why it’s wrong.
     

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis

    #116 – This on the other hand is well asked. A good question and a good framing that deserves a good answer. Not an easy one, though.

  • Sashka

    @ 119

    No kidding? I wonder why the answer has not become a sticky post on RC.

  • http://initforthegold.blogspot.com Michael Tobis
  • http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/ Robert Grumbine

    In a debate, you have two people arguing pro and con of some statement.  Already that doesn’t much resemble what actually happens on blogs that give rise to the original Hickman comments.  Still, the next and more important part of debate (and _is_ typically true on blogs) is that the pro and con side are irremovably committed to their position.  As such, debate certainly is a delaying tactic.  The participants are not going to change their positions/minds, and some degree of that is required before one moves out of delay mode.

    Discussion, on the other hand, requires participants who are willing and able to change their minds/positions as new evidence comes up.  Many debaters will say that they’re discussants, and it’s the _other_ people who are debaters.  A handy debating tactic.
    http://moregrumbinescience.blogspot.com/2008/08/discussion-vs-debate.html

    Within the realm of discussion, what is it that people want to see discussed?  Mention made above about how scientists should engage the ‘serious’ skeptics, coupled with complaint of how scientists spend time on the, I guess it’s ‘nonserious’ skeptics.  Conspicuously absent, however, is any kind of field guide that a scientist could use to recognize the ‘serious’ skeptics — as would be defined by the speaker of the moment — from the others.  If someone is testifying to congress, for instance, I think that’s pretty serious, even if he’s quite batty on his science.

    Would the folks here agree that all ‘serious’ skeptics agree that the following statements are true:

    There is a greenhouse effect (leaving aside that it’s badly named)
    CO2 is a greenhouse gas (note: no commitment to how strong)
    CO2 levels have risen over the past 200 years (note: no commitment to how much)
    The source of that rise is mostly human activity (note: no commitment as to which activities, and only that > 50% of the increase is from human activity)
    Increased CO2 levels should give a warming of the climate system (note: no commitment as to how much, just that it is not zero or negative; note, too, no commitment as to whether it already has or necessarily will — just that this is a fair scientific expectation)
    Additional future CO2 increases can be expected to give additional warming (same note as 5)


    If there are self-described skeptics here who would agree to all 6 points, I’ll suggest that scientists would be less likely to argue with those who deny the points if you were doing so already.  Could free up time to discuss matters with you or people you’d like to see get engaged by the scientists.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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