Barriers to Nuanced Reporting on Climate Studies

By Keith Kloor | November 30, 2011 1:09 pm

Some of the commentary about how the media covered last week’s big climate sensitivity study in Science prompted me to explore underlying issues that have already been identified by people much smarter than me. Have a read over at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media.

  • Hector M.

    The problem is not a problem of communication, but the growing evidence of great (and previously underreported) uncertainty in climate models, vast areas of ignorance surrounding the estimates of climate sensitivity (especially clouds but also multi-decadal natural variability and other factors). Journalists may over-simplify things, of course, in this and most matters, but even for scientifically informed people in the blogosphere and elsewhere the substantive issues are more important than the discursive/communicational ones. It is not that climate scientists are poor communicators: it is that large portions of their science is afflicted by large uncertainties and ignorance, even if many of them have downplayed such uncertainties and ignorance (most notoriously in IPCC reports).

  • NewYorkJ

    Over at RC, one of the co-authors (Urban) notes that he has a study in revision that puts climate sensitivity in the 1.8 to 4.9 (95%) range, slightly higher than the IPCC synthesis of 1.5 to 4.5, but with a best estimate of 2.8 C.  I’m willing to bet that if published, it won’t get anywhere near the same coverage as his other one, although I’m sure some media outlets will find a way to put a contrarian spin on it.  It also goes to show you how absurd some of the headlines on the Science study have been.

    http://www3.geosc.psu.edu/~kzk10/Olson_jgr_11.pdf

  • EdG

    # 2 NYJ

    Hmmm. A range from 1.8 to 4.9. No matter how you spin it, this just confirms that the debate is not over on this key question. Perhaps someday they will have done enough research to begin to answer this question. In the meantime, all model projections based on this are as fuzzy as this is.

  • BBD

    NYJ

    Isn’t it funny the way we always seem to drift back to ~3C?

    So fuzzy; so much uncertainty.
      ;-)
     

  • EdG

    Double-posted on your Yale site, just to pump up your numbers there.

    Interesting essay Keith. But I think that it missed a key point. Rennie claims that “Reporters seek informed, disinterested commentary on the findings from other scientists at other labs,” but any objective review of this reveals that in most coverage of AGW or other environmental issues too many journalists do not do this. Instead they interview the usual predictable advocacy sources, typically all or almost all from one side.

    This is no accident. Advocacy groups cultivate journalists – who, like scientists, are only human – and are quick to pump out press releases to feed them.

    If journalists did in fact consistently interview “distinterested” sources their reporting would be far more balanced and informative and would not feed the polarization monster so much. But very few do.

    In the meantime, this headline is a hint of what is coming:

    “This year is set to be 10th warmest on record according to “˜Climategate’ scientists
    Includes data from University of East Anglia, criticised for colluding with politicians to “˜massage’ evidence of man-made climate change”
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2067537/2011-set-10th-warmest-record-despite-cooling-effect-La-Nina-weather-system.html#ixzz1fAylgse2

     

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

    @2 NewYorkJ:
    he has a study in revision that puts climate sensitivity in the 1.8 to 4.9 (95%) range, slightly higher than the IPCC synthesis of 1.5 to 4.5, but with a best estimate of 2.8 C.  I’m willing to bet that if published, it won’t get anywhere near the same coverage as his other one

    As many have pointed out, there was a paper (Holden et al. 2010) in a well-respected climate-related journal (Climate Dynamics), that looked at the same period (LGM), estimated sensitivity higher than the canonical value by about the same as Schmittner et al. had it lower, and was published just a few months before.

    It received essentially zero coverage, especially when contrasted to the Schmittner et al. paper.

    I think that there are a few very different but also very synergistic dynamics that make a paper like Schmittner et al. so attractive to cover.
    - The climate beat, for those of limited imagination, must be incredibly tedious. It might seem like basically the same story every day. Nothing really changes. We’re pumping out GHGs at a geologically mind-blowing rate, we know we need to stop, we can’t agree to stop, etc. Anything “new” has got to be either dramatic or contrary to the mainstream.
    - Climate “skeptics” and conservatives have thoroughly bullied the mainstream press into believing that it is somehow biased in favor of “warmists” (as opposed to reporting reality as reality, i.e. anthropogenic warming is real). Failing to cover a paper that is contrary to the mainstream would cause no small amount of grief.
    - Newer papers are assumed to be “better” by definition by a lot of people unfamiliar with science.
    - I think that people really want to believe that the problem isn’t as big and as bad as it is. I know that a lot of good reporters just really don’t seem to grasp the enormity of the issue in a geological context, or understand the amount of stress we’re already putting on the biosphere and natural environmental services before tossing the anvil of climate change on top.

    [There are undeniably pressures for other kinds of stories, obviously.]

  • NewYorkJ

    EdG: Advocacy groups cultivate journalists ““ who, like scientists, are only human ““ and are quick to pump out press releases to feed them.

    Amusing how Ed follows that up with a DailyMail tabloid piece.

    Ironically, HadCrut (data product from that big bad Phil Jones and the “ClimateGate” organization) has been running anomalously cooler than the other surface products (which may now include the Koch-funded Muller group), and is least likely to have 2011 crack the top 10.

    Now keep in mind, Ed (#3), that the climate sensitivity range is a distributional curve.  3 C is much more likely than 1.8 C for example.

  • EdG

    # 7 NYJ

    “Amusing how Ed follows that up with a DailyMail tabloid piece.”

    I guess you missed the point. In the spirit of finding the ‘middle ground,’ I offered that as an example from what you undoubtedly see as extremism on the ‘other side.’

    It also hints that maybe those emails that supposedly don’t matter will matter to public perceptions. Just like the last ones that supposedly didn’t matter did.

    And I do understand what that range means, for what it is worth.

    Speaking of Jones, seen his latest email at WUWT?

    “Tim, Chris, I hope you’re not right about the lack of warming lasting till about 2020″³

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/30/crus-dr-phil-jones-on-the-lack-of-warming/

    Watts asks the obvious inconvenient question: “If warming really threatens to destroy human civilization, why was Jones hoping for warming?”

  • BBD

    EdG

    Watts asks the obvious inconvenient question: “If warming really threatens to destroy human civilization, why was Jones hoping for warming?”


    Because he knows that any hiatus will be used by every vested interest on Earth to maximise confusion and doubt – and delay. Ably abetted by the ‘sceptics’, of course. 

  • NewYorkJ

    More telling, EdG, is that Watts is presenting this as either a recent or recently-released blurb.  It was part of the original release. 

    The context was in the discussion of model runs often showing 10-20 year periods of flat temperatures.  Note that the same model runs tend to converge over longer periods of time, so Jones knows that flat decadal temperatures would hardly be something to feel good about, but would give some a false sense of comfort, as well cause Jones to be personally harrassed more by deniers, as he indicated in that same email was already happening daily.

    True skeptics seek context and an understanding of the issues.  Propagandists ignore it or invent their own.

  • EdG

    #10 NYJ writes: “True skeptics seek context and an understanding of the issues.  Propagandists ignore it or invent their own.”

    Makes sense to me as written. But, as a prime example of how things work, I would bet that we both have very different examples in mind to illustrate that.

    What do you call scientists who reach a preliminary conclusion, hope for a desired result to confirm it, and then, despite recognizing the uncertainty, problems, and lack of confirmation in private (“travesty”), continue to actively promote those same conclusions to the public?

    That uncertainty is THE context of this whole discussion. or should be if it was really just a scientific question.

    In my experience, the only people who are so absolutely certain about things in the face of such uncertainty are religious fundamentalists, including those from secular religions.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #10,
    Actually, the context was a projected early 21st century sulphate emission spike, and MacCracken pointing out that you lot have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability – that explanation is wearing thin – and that a back up explanation is needed.

    MacCracken said that he thought a pause in the warming was not a bad idea (for the aforementioned ‘averting the global apocalypse’ reasons), and Phil said on the contrary he had hoped for more warming, because he wanted to wipe the smug grins off the sceptics’ faces. Sounds like a good reason to me.

  • NewYorkJ

    EdG: What do you call scientists who reach a preliminary conclusion, hope for a desired result to confirm it, and then, despite recognizing the uncertainty, problems, and lack of confirmation in private (“travesty”), continue to actively promote those same conclusions to the public?

    Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer

    NiV: MacCracken said that he thought a pause in the warming was not a bad idea (for the aforementioned “˜averting the global apocalypse’ reasons),

    Funny.  I don’t see that phrase anywhere in that email chain.  Could you point it out?  MacCracken does suggest that increased sulfates, largely from China, are probably not being accounted for in the recent decade, and thus decadal variablity is possibly being over-emphasized (there’s actually a recent study on this).  He also suggests that increased tropospheric sulfates is not a bad idea, as it would limit warming, and he speaks positively of geoengineering via enhanced sulfate loading.  This is entirely different from your line of spin, however.

    Deniers seem to be engaging in a form of the Telephone Game.  That’s revealing.

  • EdG

    #13 NYJ

    Another great example of how this polarized world works. You note Lindzen and Spencer while ignoring the same behavior from the “team’ members you agree with.

    The same basic selective blinkers apply to the selective indignation about the leak (or whatever you want to believe it was) of the Climategate emails versus the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was a hero but the Climategate heaker is said to be a villain… but both essentially did the same thing.

    And I’m guessing that if someone released a bunch of embarassing emails from Morano there would be little concern about the messenger or their methods from those who were happy to see what was leaked.

    Back on topic, with this kind of entrenched and polarized bias, any genuinely nuanced reporting of this topic is bound to be very unpopular with somebody. Which is why it takes great courage to report that way.

    Finally NYJ, when you keep using the d-word you reveal where you are coming from, and it is not the middle. If you don’t get this, just consider the antonyms of the d-word. One good one also starts with d. But all these simplistic labels do is increase polarization… which I thought was supposed to be the root of the problem here?

  • NewYorkJ

    Ed: You note Lindzen and Spencer while ignoring the same behavior from the “team’ members you agree with.

    Since you haven’t indicated what any specific behavior you find problematic and just made a vague statement, there’s nothing really to address, so I gave some examples on who I think clearly fit your characterization.  Now I could have assumed that the word “travesty” (the only hint of specifics) refers to Trenberth’s phrase, popular among denier circles, and also misrepresented.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Trenberth-email-scandal.html

    I could have also noted that in the same message Trenberth referred to a public document he had just released on the same subject.

    But a mere reference to “travesty” was the extent of your details.

    You’ve attempted here to imply some sort of profound bias on the part of Jones by quoting an old email.  I’ve noted the context of the discussion of that quote from the best that I can discern (such exchanges inherently lack some context).  NiV invented his own that is an obvious misrepresentation.

    Most notable is how your tribe approaches the issue.  They already have a broad anti-science narrative.  They read the emails looking for snippets that support that narrative, and the hacker has produced some snippets to help them along.  They avoid a few details and ignore context, inventing their own.  Their tribe members don’t question their leaders.  Last time around, investigations essentially exonerated the scientists of any academic misconduct.  When less media outlets take the mud-slingers as seriously the second time around, one shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

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

    95%  between 1.8 and 4.9.
    with a mean of 2.8
    how come nobody is slamming that luke warmer.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #10,
    Yes, what he actually said was “to prevent warming”. I was ‘interpreting’ his reasons for wanting to do so in order to connect (humorously) with the discussion here.
    It can hardly be with the intention to mislead, since I know people will immediately check up on me.

    I find it interesting though, that when you made up Jones’ reasons for expecting periods of flat temperatures, that’s fine, but when I extended the literal content of the email, I’m a ‘Denier’ (which is news to me), I’m engaging in some form of Telephone game, and this is “revealing”, although what it reveals is not stated.

    I’m guessing that what it “reveals” is part of the continuing fantasy that I am a highly-paid member of the Oil-Illuminati dedicatedly engaging in a serious mission to confuse and mislead, in order to bring about the global apocalyse or something. No doubt I have a reason for wanting to do that.
    All of which seems quite funny from my perspective.

    Jones I think was engaged in some gallows humour. The predictions were failing, his cause was sinking, the sceptics were grinning, and now somebody was telling him it was going to get even worse. I don’t think he was seriously hoping for thermageddon, but I do think he was seeing it in political and personal terms, rather than for the good of humanity. I don’t think they take the whole planetary doom thing too seriously anyway. They have always had an eye to their careers and reputations, a far higher priority than ‘saving the world’.

  • EdG

    NYJ

    “Most notable is how your tribe approaches the issue.  They already have a broad anti-science narrative.”

    You do seem to enjoy this tribal view and its us v them dynamic. I suppose it does make things simpler.

    I keep hearing this ‘anti-science’ slogan tossed at skeptics. It is either a marvellous example of misdirected doublethink or/and a convenient misinterpretation of what the real scientific process is.

    Until forced to back slightly off this stance, the position of AGW proponents was that the ‘science is settled’ and, exponentially worse, that ‘the debate is over.’ That mindset is about as unscientific, or ‘anti-science,’ as one can possibly be.

    The correct term for me, if you need to use ‘anti’, would be ‘anti-IPCC Consensus Science.’ See the difference?

    I’m actually very pro-science for real science, which is why this issue is so profoundly depressing. So much damage to the credibility of so much real science. Never expected to see Lysenkoism like this here. 

    P.S. I don’t go into the specifics you noted simply because I assume that you and other readers here are already familiar with the sources of my references (e.g. travesty). You obviously are. Moreover, I’m lazy on line.

    Re the behavior of concern, just read the emails in as much context as you want. The more the better. Collectively, or individually, they speak for themselves. Of course, due to the wonders of the individual human mind, I’m quite sure that what they ‘say’ to me will be different from what they ‘say’ to you.

    C’est la vie. 

  • EdG

    #17 NiV

    “I don’t think they take the whole planetary doom thing too seriously anyway.”

    Nor do I. It was just a means to an end.

    “We need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination”¦ So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements and make little mention of any doubts”¦ Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    Stephen Schneider

    “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.”

    Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC
    “It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.”

    Paul Watson
     

  • Lewis Deane

    Wrong reference, Mr Keith Kloor, though I do enjoy your articles in the Yale Forum – for what one expected was a very trenchant, well perused article on how lacking has been good journalism as regards this fraught subject of ‘climate change’! What do I mean by the latter? Well, my ideal journalist would be (me!) someone who could straddle the two worlds – who could understand the science but, and, as a journalist, understand his audience. And, of course, not ‘paid for’, not invested, but, definitely, emotionally commited as human. A bit like you but with the science. A bit like dot earth but with the ‘distance’. A bit like McIntyre but without the baggage!

  • Lewis Deane

    Keith,

    You know just the other day, the British Library put on line a big sleuth of 19 century British journalism, unfortunately, a paid for service (which is I think outrageous – what do I pay taxes for – to pay more taxes?) – but what strikes me is how the best and the worst journalism, from this distance, can, superficially, sound the same. The apparent same tropes, same memes, same metaphors but they are saying things totally opposite! On the one hand one has what seems a completely sane plea against slavery but with the coda that the ‘natives’ are subhuman but, on the other, an appeal for Irish independence but, of course, because they’re subhuman, too! And all with that rich, slightly wired amalgamated approximation of both Carlyle and Gibbon – eloquent and sickening at the same time! Funny but this was the height of British journalism when the London Times (and in those days we didn’t even need to mention it’s location) was the ‘the thunderer’! 

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    #3 EdG
    A range from 1.8 to 4.9. No matter how you spin it, this just confirms that the debate is not over on this key question.

    Sure, that range still shows there is a lot of uncertainty. But even if the real value is at the bottom end it is hardly cause for comfort.    

  • BBD

    NiV

    I’m guessing that what it “reveals” is part of the continuing fantasy that I am a highly-paid member of the Oil-Illuminati dedicatedly engaging in a serious mission to confuse and mislead, in order to bring about the global apocalyse or something.

    No, it reveals that you are ill-informed and prone to making biased and inaccurate statements.

    Actually, the context was a projected early 21st century sulphate emission spike, and MacCracken pointing out that you lot have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability ““ that explanation is wearing thin ““ and that a back up explanation is needed.

    And one has been forthcoming:

    Major influence of tropical volcanic eruptions on the stratospheric aerosol layer during the last decade, Vernier et al. (2011); GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 38, L12807, 8 PP., 2011 doi:10.1029/2011GL047563

    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL047563.shtml

  • BBD

    Steven Mosher

    95%  between 1.8 and 4.9.
    with a mean of 2.8
    how come nobody is slamming that luke warmer.

    So, CS is probably ~3C as argued all along. This is mainstream. How – and why – do you tag this value as ‘lukewarm’?

    I was under the strong impression that ‘lukewarm’ requires a CS of 1 – 2C.

    Are you trying to redefine ‘lukewarm’? It does seem that way, and I could easily see mid-term tactical advantages in doing so (for yourself, that is).

  • Jack Hughes

    This is pathetic. 

    The “climate concerned community” are desperately having yet another last chance effort to save the planet in another exotic conference. No it really is the eleventh hour this time.

    Meanwhile some scribblers are scribbling about what other scribblers think about scribbling. 

  • Jack Hughes

    @BBD

    Imagine a card yard. The cars have the prices in big numbers on the windscreens.

    But each car has two prices: $18,000 – $49,000 

    Would you take the place seriously ? 

  • Lewis Deane

    BBD and Jack Hughes, you’re really arguing over ‘how many angels’ when what you want to argue about is the politics! Calm down and grow up! The headline post is about ‘nuanced’ (!) reporting, for bleeders sake! Let’s talk about that.

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    #26 Jack Hughes

    Would you take scientists seriously if they said “climate sensitivity is 2.799C”?

  • BBD

    Jack Hughes

    Best current estimates for CS are closing on ~3C. Not ‘in the range of x – y’. Close to 3C. You are obfuscating or confused, or both.

    Lewis Deane

    No. I haven’t even come close to politics. All I am trying to do is focus on the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the science. The energy policy debate comes later.

  • Lewis deane

    BBD

    I haven’t even come close to politics

    Oh, that is sad! 

  • Lewis deane

    In your case, and in this case, the politics is always the ‘science’! To think otherwise is to be daft.

  • BBD

    Lewis deane

    Can you be very much more specific please? Otherwise my feeling is that you are putting – no, stuffing – words into my mouth.

  • Lewis deane

    Keith,

     I was trying to write a comment just prior but I was using the new and beautiful linux mint – beautiful but broken (ain’t that always the way!) – which at a crucial moment of eloquence (!) froze and stole my words. Anyway, I was trying to say that the science is ‘over’, not because scientists have stopped investigating (which that lame meme seemed to imply), discovering and debating but because, first (yes, I remember, I had a list!), we, as laymen. don’t understand the science (hence I never dare to discuss it) and are a bit cheeky to comment on it; second, because the politics is always prior to the ‘science’, even, it seems, unfortunately, for some ‘scientists’ and, therefore, as an ‘ordinary Joe’ I want to talk about real political decisions and make those decisions. What frustrates and produces the froth and verbiage, on both sides, is our lack of input in those decisions. In my country, and, partially in yours, these decisions have been taken out of our hands, as if the science were the politics and politicians constituents were merely the ‘experts’. Yes, let’s divide the science from the politics and, yes, let us divide the politics from policies but let us have our say. Anecdotally, many experts ‘tell’ me I’m living my life wrongly but, having considered all the risks, having weighed up, quite rationally, I believe (!), the pleasures and pains and, having the character and fate I have, I decided that they should go out and hang. 

    The right, the democratic right, to decide against experts is often overlooked. 

  • Lewis deane

    BBD

    I need be no more specific – a political persuasion is note quotable but lived.

  • Lewis deane

    ‘not quotable’. My own coinage, by the way!

  • Lewis deane

    There are interesting “˜asides’ to this debate: How does “˜journalism’ deal with “˜science’ ““ one has too many anecdotes to point to but we know how it goes ““ especially with “˜medicine’ ““ a “˜charity’ grabs hold of a paper about the latest cancer saving drug ““ by the way, no one asks whether such patients want to be saved, do they? ““ which has been tested on about 5 rats, one monkey and one and a half humans ““ which apparently will save you a day before death but, of course, cost more than your arm, lung or leg, and the BBC, without thought or investigation, because it’s the “˜experts’ what tell us, decides to “˜inform’ of this! And it is always those pr’s for various companies and “˜special’ interests ““ what are the so called cancer “˜charities’ but bought and paid for front advertising for pharma, notwithstanding the sincerity of those who work for them (and, therefore, work against the inevitability that we all must die, in some way, if not cancer then there’s always the “˜heart’ “˜charities’!) It’s not just the so called ’24 hour cycle’, for look at Sky verses the BBC. It is a way of thinking, a sclerosis of thinking, if you’ll excuse the pun. No, journalism “˜proper’ is not dead but it’s in it’s, I love the cliché, last chance saloon (tell me that bar ““ I need to be there!)

  • BBD

    Lewis deane

    I need be no more specific ““ a political persuasion is note quotable but lived.

    This goes beyond the normal range of arrogance. You haven’t the faintest idea of my political persuasion, and even less how my views on CC fit with that.

    Absolutely unacceptable comment. You are clearly a total prat.

  • Lewis deane

    BBd,

    You are clearly a total prat

    Indeed! 

    You haven’t the faintest idea of my political persuasion 

    Get off your high rocking horse and understand what I meant by ‘persuasion’. Not something obtuse like who do you vote for or whether you’d read Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscript but rather who you feel as ‘you’ when you write. 

  • BBD

    Lewis deane

    You have so far imputed wide-ranging but unspecific political beliefs to me. When asked for clarification you refused (34) to explain yourself.

    Now you are insulting me for failing to understand you:

    Get off your high rocking horse and understand what I meant by “˜persuasion’.

    You somehow manage to make it all worse by finishing off with this bollocks:

    Not something obtuse like who do you vote for or whether you’d read Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscript but rather who you feel as “˜you’ when you write.


    Please waste someone else’s time.

  • Keith Kloor

    Okay, let’s end the insult-a-fest and move on.

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    #33

    Isn’t that the nature of living in representative democracy – we delegate the power to make these decisions to others? If we don’t like the decisions they make then we can subsequently vote them out but we don’t generally get to pick and choose individual policies, although we can try an exert pressure on our representatives on particular issues.

  • Lewis deane

    BBD

    I’ll put it more plainly so it is less stinging and ‘arrogant’. You’ve debated this subject a long time, on line. And my considered judgement is that you have a proscriptive policy. Now, to me, any ‘proscription’ is anathema but that’s by the by.

    I can divide the ‘for’ and ‘against’ into various camps – a short hand for thinking, after thinking. It is very quick to look at various posts and to look down various comments and say to oneself ‘ I know what this means’. Sometimes one is wrong and must double check oneself, but more, much more, than often one is right. I try to be fair and have a policy of fairness, to read and understand  a post or comment before commenting myself. But I fail sometimes – more often because a phrase or thought strikes me and I’m compelled to speak.

    So forgive me, BBD, if I got you wrong. I know nothing, of course, of your ‘politics’. But your ‘persuasion‘ – I’ve read it and know it! 

  • Lewis deane

    Sorry, Keith, your post came before mine. Finis!

  • BBD

    Lewis Deane (pace Keith)

    My ‘persuasion’ is very simple.

    I am persuaded by the mainstream scientific view of CC. I am not persuaded by those who advocate renewables as a significant path towards decarbonisation of electricity supply. I am not persuaded by those who (implicitly) would leave the developing world in the dark. I am not persuaded by anti-GM, anti-nuclear, anti-science fear mongers with a nasty neo-Malthusian stripe.

    I do hope you find all this encouraging,

  • Lewis deane

    It is interesting, is it not, that the idea that who one is trumps ones ability to be rationally discursive, something, I think, that you, Keith, are partially persuaded about. On the contrary, I believe that ones mind can be suede by ‘evidence’. So if I ‘impugn’ anyone with being ‘political’, I always mean to give grace to their rationality, their ability to think. What is the real pity is not that we are ‘political’ but that we are not. We lack ideology! And the commitments it might entail.

    It is that concentration of mind (for all it’s terrible consequences!) that we miss and lack. 

  • Lewis deane

    Ok BBD, 

    Of what are you persuaded? I told you, I can be hasty and, although this is of topic, I’d like to hear. 

  • BBD

    LD

    See # 44

  • Lewis deane

    #41 Andrew,

    Unfortunately you seem to be right – that is to say, that is the unfortunate mess of our modern democracies. Is it my illusion and nostalgia that makes me think, because of the great and massive tyrany in the east our democracies were then more responsive to their people? I wonder. I wonder especially now that Technocratic putch’s are happening all over Europe. Who would have believed, in those benign eighties, that both Greece and Italy, and who next? could have been, as it were, annexed by Europe’s beaurocrats and no one even sigh! Who could have believed, then, that a painful, stupendously stupid and, ultimately, self defeating, Climate Change Act could have been put through our British parliament (the ‘mother of parliaments’) without more than one or two contrary votes? And that such a parliament, now that energy bills are biting them in the arse, can debate such bills without even a mention of the aforesaid Act? And, Roger Harribin, chief environment correspondant for the BBC, has the cheek to say that, because all the political parties are agreed, there is no debate to have! No, I demand my own ‘stupid’ democracy because, you know what, if we can’t have it, we get will raid the ramparts and get it!

  • Dean

    Although a number of people here have pointed out how studies of CS tend to come out around 3oC plus or minus a bit, it’s probably worth reminding that this is so for over 100 years now. This is not new or immature science. The study of the “greenhouse effect” is relatively mature as earth science studies go. And the great majority of new research simply adds to the stability of it.

    This is really what all this coverage of new studies misses – by focusing on studies that disagree to whatever degree with the consensus, they ignore the far greater number of studies that confirm past research.

  • http://www.mutantblog.co.uk andrew adams

    Lewis,

    l agree about events in Greece and Italy – I think that points to weaknesses in their democratic structures, I can’t see how it could happen here in the UK.

    Personally I’m glad that we have a government which (for all of its many other flaws) claims to take climate change seriously and is prepared to enact legislation on the issue. It would be even better if we had a government which actually matched its fine words with actions. Of course you are free to disagree, so given that we have competing views on the subject and both want exercise our democratic influence on policy making how do we manage that? If not the current system then what? Referendums on every policy?    

  • harrywr2

    One of the ‘barriers’ to nuanced reporting is how much of the ‘reporting’ is being generated by professional public relations firms.
    The number of ‘well paying’ positions in journalism is quite limited.
    According to the Bureau of Labor statistics there were 69,000 reporters and news analysts employed in the US at a median wage of $34,850
    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos088.htm
    If we look at ‘Public Relations Specialists’ there are 275,000 of them employed at a median wage of $51,000
    http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos086.htm
    In the US we have almost 4 times as many PR specialists as we do reporters.
    PR firms aren’t paid to ‘present nuance’, they are paid to spin.
    As an aside, the contact address for realclimate.org’s website is 1320 18st NW, Washington, DC which is the address of Fenton Communication’s Washington DC offices.



  • Lewis deane

    The wind is a tidy mam: it will sweepThe leaves from our hats, the gutters and the backGardens. And then the rain! I watch, whilst sittingOn a denounced Morecambe bench, the ‘political’Non actors decide my fate when their fate has so assuredlyBeen designed. The sea, the grey, blue and green seaRages in and out as it has for many ages before.Politics is petty and beneath it. The Earth is old,So beyond old, but vital and alive. There is nothing wrong.

  • Lewis deane

    That was supposed to be a poem but ‘copy and paste’ doesn’t include format. Treat the capitals as periods

  • Lewis deane

    Andrew, 

    If all major parties agree on a particular policy you, by definition, are not included. What is more, politically speaking, political than the Climate Change Act. But was it in anyone’s manifesto (supposing it was, was there any ‘choice’ difference in these manifestos?). Be clear, we’re not talking about ‘science’ but about politics, which means yours and mines freedom and taxes. Where you given a decision on this? And yet your paying it’s bill and will be more, in a big way?

    But your phrasing puzzles me – you say you don’t like what’s happening in Italy and Greece and that it will never happen here, but you intimate a respect a for a Government that, without consultation, enacted an act that, that by definition, was not sought, was not consulted about, was not voted on and whose consequences may be disastrous to our economy and, therefore, our nation. Was not that a Government by technocrats!. Do you believe ‘expertise’ trumps democracy? Because it ‘feels’ right doesn’t mean it is right, eh? 

  • Sashka

    @ BBD (24,29)

    On one hand you’re not disputing the latest results:

    95%  between 1.8 and 4.9. with a mean of 2.8

    On the other hand:

    Best current estimates for CS are closing on ~3C.

    I’m not sure whether the combination of these is best characterized as duplicity or stupidity. Clearly the temperature range that is encompassed by 95% confidence interval has not become more narrow. So, in what sense are the estimates are closing on ~3C?

  • NewYorkJ

    NiV: I was “˜interpreting’ his reasons for wanting to do so in order to connect (humorously) with the discussion here.

    Well that’s a creative way to get around “I was wrong”.  So we can just assume going forward all of your “interpretations” are not meant to be taken seriously. I’m fine with that.

    EdG: You do seem to enjoy this tribal view and its us v them dynamic. 

    EdG: the position of AGW proponents was that the “˜science is settled’

    Note the irony.  Also, have a good read…

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/unsettled-science/

  • Sashka

    @ 23
    Actually, the context was a projected early 21st century sulphate emission spike, and MacCracken pointing out that you lot have been too readily explaining the slow changes over past decade as a result of variability ““ that explanation is wearing thin ““ and that a back up explanation is needed.

    And one has been forthcoming: Major influence of tropical volcanic eruptions on the stratospheric aerosol layer during the last decade…

    Wait a minute. We’ve been told for years (Rahmsdorf, RC and multiple hot heads on this blog) that warming has not slowed down at all. So, it did slow down after all?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #56,
    I didn’t say I was wrong. I said I was interpreting.
    Paraphrasing, explaining, expanding upon, communicating the sense of. It’s something everybody does when they say what somebody else said without quoting their every word literally.

    So what was your excuse?

    To answer your question, I don’t expect you to consider what I say seriously. In fact, I’m a bit surprised at your implication that you ever did!
    Whether I intend something seriously or not, I assume by default that I’m speaking to many closed minds who are not really listening, just looking for ways to dismiss it out of hand. It doesn’t bother me.

  • BBD

    Sashka @ 57

    I’m not sure whether the combination of these is best characterized as duplicity or stupidity. Clearly the temperature range that is encompassed by 95% confidence interval has not become more narrow. So, in what sense are the estimates are closing on ~3C?


    Neither duplicitous nor stupid. I just try and keep abreast of the debate, that’s all. If you want to find out how the estimates for CS are converging on ~3C, you will have to do some reading. Since I know you are an epic time-waster I can’t be bothered to provide you with links that you won’t bother to follow.

  • Sashka

    In other words, you have no evidence, as usual.
     

  • NewYorkJ

    NiV: I assume by default that I’m speaking to many closed minds who are not really listening, just looking for ways to dismiss it out of hand.

    Irony again.  Contrarians dismiss any evidence on climate science that disagrees with their ideology (from experience, I agree with BBD it’s useless to bother with Sashka on the topic of climate sensitivity), but when it comes to reading private email exchanges, they let their imaginations run wild.

    “If you keep an open mind, people will try to put garbage in it.” Albert Einstein

    “Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.” Carl Sagan

  • Menth

    If you keep an open mind, Joe Romm will scare the crap out of you so bad any information that doesn’t scare the crap out of you won’t seem plausible.” Menth

  • EdG

    “Barriers to Nuanced Reporting on Climate Studies”

    Was just flipping through the various ‘news’ channels and it seems obvious to me that this topic extends far beyond just the AGW debate.

    Try finding some “nuanced reporting on politics.” Good luck. All the MSM sources are biased, feeding their own segment of the fragmented audience, which naturally contributes to increased polarization. So this is a much larger problem.

    Compounding that bias, the MSM as well as blogs – and as epitomized by the twitterverse – is so full of tiny newsbytes that it must have and be reducing the attention span of viewers to gnat status (a problem compounded on TV by the endless commercial breaks, e.g. a rapid switch from some apocalytic news story to some cheery soap ad).

    Some might pine for the days of Cronkite, where the reliance of the public on a single source created some more unified message. But given what has happened to the integrity of ‘news’ reporting now, that would be little more than a Soviet Pravda system… so I suppose the current situation is the lesser of those two evils.

    In the meantime, anyone hoping for the dumbing down and destruction of the national unity of the US must be pleased with what has happened. Same for the disasterous decline in American scientific (or any) literacy overall.  

  • EdG

    # 62 Menth

    Mind if I make a tiny change to your quote?

    If you keep an open mind, Joe Romm will TRY to scare the crap out of you so bad any information that doesn’t scare the crap out of you won’t seem plausible.”

    Just because poor Joe sees every poodle as a wolf doesn’t mean sane people have to believe him. 

  • BBD

    @ 60

    In other words, you have no evidence, as usual.

    No Sashka. I said that there was plenty of evidence. You won’t read it because you aren’t interested in the facts. As your comment demonstrates neatly.

  • Sashka

    You said there was plenty of evidence but you haven’t provided any. Your contributions are as worthless as NYJ’s. Nothing but endless lawyering and beating about the bush.

  • Tom C

    Sashka -

    Nice take down of BBD.

    Have to warn you, though, how an answer to your question would proceed according to Team protocol.

    If a specific projected value is needed, candidate models are thrown out until there is nice tight agreement.  Then “all models say…” or “models are closing in on”. If a nice wide range is required, every model and his cousin is thrown back in to make a range one could drive an SUV through.  Then, the observed data are “consistent with models”.

    Since the topic here is “Barriers to nuanced reporting” I would add that very few journalists have the technical ability to see through these common Team machinations.

  • Tom C

    How’s this for a Barrier to Nuanced Reporting?

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/

  • Sashka

    Keith,

    Back to the original topic of the post: barriers to nuanced reporting.

    I am all for nuanced reporting but I don’t think it’s the most important part of the equation. That would be honest and accurate reporting. And I cannot see how it can be done when both sides are trying to misrepresent their case. Even when a journalist has best intentions to be honest and nuanced (I’m not sure how often it happens) the politically engaged experts will bend and twist the facts, they will “hide the decline” and exaggerate what they want to you bite on.

    A journalist can get the nuances right only if someone is willing to explain that to him in an honest and unbiased way. Good luck searching for that!

  • Keith Kloor

    Sashka (67)

    That’s where the reporting comes in. If journalists speak to enough varied sources–not just the same ones–then you can get around the ones with obvious political agendas. The problem is that most stories are reactive and in this particular case involve a core group of people that have to be quoted. So there’s a feedback element.

    Also, I don’t see it as black and white as you. There are many climate scientists I know that speak in nuanced, measured words. 

  • Sashka

    I do know such people too but they speak only in private.
     

  • Lewis deane

    O the unfrozen, freezing heart. To search for a meaning
    Is empty and pitiable. Gazing back at history
    A kind of exercise in narcissism. We want, so much,
    To know. But what do we know and what do we
    Descover? A bleakness, a small sadness. 

  • Lewis deane

    Sorry, Keith, I couldn’t help that poetic expletive and I should have given it a title:

    Against the overwhelming surge of bitter hubris 

    Or some such. 

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

     95%  between 1.8 and 4.9 with a mean of 2.8  is not converging on 3.

     think about what happens when you start to snip the long tail.

    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf



     

  • BBD

    steven mosher

    95%  between 1.8 and 4.9 with a mean of 2.8  is not converging on 3.
     think about what happens when you start to snip the long tail.

    You mean like this?


    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d5/jdannan/GRL_sensitivity.pdf
     

    Why are you now characterising 2.8C as lukewarmer territory when it isn’t?

  • BBD

    Sashka and Tom C

    Your contributions are as worthless as NYJ’s. Nothing but endless lawyering and beating about the bush.

    From ‘content-free Sashka’. Bit short on self-awareness, aren’t you.

    From Tom C

    Nice take down of BBD.

    Have to warn you, though, how an answer to your question would proceed according to Team protocol [blah blah; models; blah blah]

    Empirical approaches that yield a CS estimate of ~3C:

    Hansen & Sato (2011) Paleoclimate implications for Human-Made Climate Change:

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1105/1105.0968.pdf

    Annan & Hargreaves (2006) Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity

    http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d5/jdannan/GRL_sensitivity.pdf

  • andrew adams

    I didn’t mean to give the impression I trust our government – I certainly don’t and they already showing signs of backtracking on their “green” commitments. You may well be relieved to find that government’s global warming legislation will turn out to be nothing but hot air.

    But all of the major parties include a commitment to fighting climate change in their manifestos so whichever one(s) had got in I don’t think people could reasonably claim that the government didn’t have a mandate for legislation to reduce emissions. Of course people who oppose such legislation might complain that they were given no choice, I guess that also applies to people who want to, say, withdraw from the EU or bring back the death penalty. I understand that concern – there are issues where my views are not reflected by any major party, but I don’t know the answer. I don’t think that parties have any obligaton to ensure that they collectively offer the public a variety of policies on any given issue. I guess people have to go out and campaign on the issue, put their views across and try to persuade one of the parties to change it’s view on the issue. Do you have any better ideas? It’s fine to say our system doesn’t sufficiently allow people proper democratic input into policy making but do you envisage any particular mechanism for making this happen?
    You ask if I believe expertise trums democracy. I do think that when dealing with complex issues the government should take expert advice (and hopefully would have some expertise within the government) and take what they consider to be the correct course of action, even if that conflicts with popular opinion. The only way I think this could be considered undemocratic is if such action directly contradicted the position they took prior to being elected. Even then, I think the right thing to do would be to say “we changed our mind” and go ahead. The public will be able to pass its judgement through the democratic process at the next election.
     

  • andrew adams

    Sorry, above comment directed at Lewis Deane

  • Lewis deane

    It is not whether we are intelligent enough – my mind is not, we are not intelligent – but whether we still have the guts to pay attention to those ‘nuances’ you draw our attention to. I divide not, in fact, between the ‘for and ‘against’ but between the courageous and the gutless. For the world is to much with us, to misquote Wordsworth, and we must be brave. As a reporter I think this is the sine qua non – to report, not as you feel, not even your feelings but as is, surely. Or am I wrong?

  • Eric Adler

    EDG,
    @19,
    It seems that you are fond of the using out of context quotes to discredit people. in post number 8, you echo Wattsupwiththat using a sentence in an email to attack the integrity of Phil Jones. His concern about the pause in global warming had no actual ill intent. One of his colleagues got a result in a model run, that global warming might be delayed by sulfate pollution. He thought that it would hurt attempts to get action on the global warming that would follow when GHG warming overcomes the temporary pause resulting from sulfate pollution, which was a kind of unintended geo engineering.  There is a legitimate difference of opinion on the overall benefits  of the use of sulfates in geo engineering. There is nothing sinister about this, despite the attempts of deniers like Watts to imply that there was.
    Then @18, you bring up an  out of context quote which has unjustifiably been used attack the integrity of Stephen Schneider. This is such an old story, and has been so well debunked, that only the most biased AGW denier would use this out of context quote to smear Stephen Schneider.
    http://climatesight.org/2009/04/12/the-schneider-quote/
    The out of context quote is an effective demagogic tactic,  stoking the ire of climate deniers, and deceiving the less well read, like readers of the Daily Mail, and watchers of Fox News.  You shouldn’t flatter yourself into thinking that it is an effective style of argument to an audience that is well read and intelligent.

     

  • Sashka

    I see now that I offered a false dilemma between BBD’s duplicity and stupidity in 55. It’s both.

    Since the patient is clearly hopeless I am adding BBD to the ignore list where he’ll be in a fine company of NYJ and a few other select minds.

    Steve Mosher, good luck trying to convince him in anything. I wash my hands.

  • Lewis deane

    The journalist is the poet of the everyday
    And, therefore, reportage a kind of journal
    Of the soul. What is courage? First of all
    It is courageous to be – merely being is enough.
    But surely courage means understanding
    And without that one cannot be. To see and
    Wonder about ones soul is to see and wonder
    About the world. To make a journal, to be a journalist. 

  • BBD

    Sashka

    I see now that I offered a false dilemma between BBD’s duplicity and stupidity in 55. It’s both.

    That’s your response to # 76?

    As I said to you on the other thread: you have nothing. So bluster away. Nobody’s fooled.

  • Lewis deane

    ‘It was the hexagram of the heavens’. How do we forget things, Keith, how do we remember? That’s a quote of Joni mitchel, a silly desire of my own. ‘I spent my whole life in clouds and icy altitudes’. To be grounded is, therefore, so difficult, perhaps impossible. Perhaps I am uncaring, perhaps BBD and OPatrick are care as it really should be, what ‘care’ means.

  • Sashka

    Even if some authors (and I am not even going into quality of these papers) publish 3C sensitivity results it doesn’t mean that collective estimate of the climate community is closing on 3C. I know the difference may be too subtle for you but not for the rest.

  • BBD

    Sashka

    If you were to do a little reading you would discover that the greatest uncertainty lies in constraining the upper bound (the ‘tail’). There’s a confluence of agreement around a value of ~3C (Knutti & Hegerl 2008).

    But studies like those I linked above (and now Schmittner et al 2011) are helping reduce uncertainty surrounding both low and high values.

    In other words, estimates are converging on ~3C.

     

  • Sashka

    I don’t need to read anything to know that the right tail is longer.
    However there is no confluence nor agreement. Neither from K&H nor any other. Which is neatly illustrated by Olson et al. among others.
    Any attempt to portray the current state of science as convergence towards 3C (or any other number for that matter) is either a blatant lie or utter stupidity. In your case – both.
     

  • BBD

    Sashka @ 87

    Any attempt to portray the current state of science as convergence towards 3C (or any other number for that matter) is either a blatant lie or utter stupidity. In your case ““ both.

    First, you are mistaken to say that ‘there is no confluence nor agreement’ of estimates of CS at around 3C. There’s a good discussion at RC which might help dispel your confusion.

    I’m guessing that you haven’t actually read Knutti & Hegerl (2008). If you had, you would have seen their Fig 3a. This would have helped you visualise and better understand the current state of knowledge.

    You are getting too abusive btw.

  • BBD

    This is a good discussion too (Annan).

    Nobody’s lying. Nobody’s trying to fool you.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #86,
    BBD, you’re wasting your time repeating the same thing over and over again because you’re missing the point. The astrologers make many predictions about next year, but the community is converging on “you will meet a tall, dark stranger” and “next year will be a good year for romance”. It’s still not credible.
    You would think, after all this time, they’d be getting more precise but in fact they don’t. That’s because they don’t know. They have to keep it vague, because precision would allow people to test them more easily. They keep it within conventional bounds – everyone knows what the answer is supposed to be – and vary things a little so it’s clear they’re ‘adding value’. They chuck in some low probabilities for dramatic outcomes to shift the mean higher, but they’re always made unlikely enough that it won’t falsify anything when they don’t come true.
    True “convergence” would mean that eventually they will exceed any given accuracy. However, they’ll not narrow it beyond the point of believability, and any so-called “convergence” you might see of people who fundamentally have no way of knowing does not mean they’re getting any closer to the truth. They don’t know.
    Combining the guesses of lots and lots of climastrologists who don’t know, using the most sophisticated Bayesian updating algorithms you can find, still won’t tell you the length of the Emperor of China’s nose.

  • BBD

    NiV

    It would really help if you read the links in my comments before jumping in with contentious (and incorrect) statements like this:

    You would think, after all this time, they’d be getting more precise but in fact they don’t. That’s because they don’t know. They have to keep it vague, because precision would allow people to test them more easily.


    It’s fascinating how you and others cannot even bear to look at discussion of the issue.

    What are you afraid of?

  • Sashka

    In this particular case RC is not lying. You are. They say nothing about reducing of uncertainty about CS estimate.
    I said I’d ignore you and I will.
     

  • Nullius in Verba

    #91,
    I have looked at a number of your links. I’ve also looked at astrological horoscopes. You still seem to think that because someone has written a paper or said on a blog you trust that they’ve narrowed the uncertainty limits, that this is therefore true.

    I have little hope that you will be able to understand the point you are missing, but I’m generously trying to help you avoid wasting your time by telling you that you’re missing the point, and you’re not going to get anywhere until you understand what it is.

    Astrologists offer many predictions, some more precise than others, but they never let them get precise enough to be usefully tested. They all say the same sort of things, but only because this is what their colleagues expect and their customers want, not because they have access to any useful information.

    Fundamentally, the sensitivity depends critically on the feedback, which they don’t know. Until they quantify the feedback, which will require much more complete understanding of the climate than they have now, they will continue not to know. They simply don’t have the information.
    Most of their methods consist of fitting data to climate models to try to constrain the parameters they know about. But since all the models are built on the assumption that CO2 is causing the change and that sensitivity is high, that’s what they always get. And since the models are wrong and fit badly, they can’t narrow it down past the point that any model with free parameters can be fitted to any set of data. They get no information out, because there’s no real information going in. The model doesn’t fit any better with any sensitivity setting. All the exercise is really telling you is that models built assuming observed warming is due to high sensitivity to CO2 can’t be tweaked to show no sensitivity to CO2. That’s not news.

    They keep on pushing papers out because that’s what researchers do, but they’re not getting anywhere. They’re just saying the same things they’ve said before – that the models predict about 3 C warming – over and over. There is no convergence, just variations on a theme.

  • Anteros

    NIV -

    I admire your patience and tolerance, but like Sashka I ran out of both. I’ve left a prediction and an offer of a very small wager with BBD and that’s the lot. I’ve rarely come across such a closed dogmatic mind, which is odd because it didn’t used to be that way.
    The way I see it, the future remains resolutely uncertain.

    I wish you well in your endeavours :)

  • Sashka

    @ NiV

    But since all the models are built on the assumption that CO2 is causing the change and that sensitivity is high, that’s what they always get.

    This is not particularly well said and will probably be quickly misinterpreted, distorted and lied about.

    The only built-in assumption wrt CO2 is the infra-red absorption property which are pretty well known by now so it’s not much more of an assumption than the sea water equation of state. What you probably had in mind (sorry if I put wrong words in your mouth) is that the models are tuned to reproduce a few past decades of mean temperature change which they do a rather poor job of anyway. The tuning process implicitly establishes a link between CO2 a warming beyond the infra-red heat absorption. In this sense I would disagree with your statement that “no real information going in”. It does actually, but it’s not necessarily a good thing.

  • BBD

    Sashka

    In this particular case RC is not lying. You are. They say nothing about reducing of uncertainty about CS estimate.

    You are going too far. Again. And your ‘reading’ of the RC piece is myopic. What is clearly implied by the opening paragraph?

    The headline number (2.3ºC) is a little lower than IPCC’s “best estimate” of 3ºC global warming for a doubling of CO2, but within the likely range (2-4.5ºC) of the last IPCC report. However, there are reasons to think that the result may well be biased low, and stated with rather more confidence than is warranted given the limitations of the study.

    Since you appear to have comprehension problems, let me help you:

    - there is general agreement that CS is ~3C

    - this is well enough established that Schmittner et al. can be evaluated against this estimate

    - in this evaluation (read the article) it is argued that Schmittner et al. is biased low against the generally agreed figure of ~3C

  • BBD

    Anteros

    You ran away when exposed as – at best – intellectually inconsistent.

  • BBD

    NiV

    If you had read the links to empirical studies provided at # 76 you would not have written this:

    Most of their methods consist of fitting data to climate models to try to constrain the parameters they know about. But since all the models are built on the assumption that CO2 is causing the change and that sensitivity is high, that’s what they always get. And since the models are wrong and fit badly, they can’t narrow it down past the point that any model with free parameters can be fitted to any set of data. They get no information out, because there’s no real information going in. The model doesn’t fit any better with any sensitivity setting. All the exercise is really telling you is that models built assuming observed warming is due to high sensitivity to CO2 can’t be tweaked to show no sensitivity to CO2.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #95,
    Yes. Thanks.
    I meant the modellers’ assumptions while building them, not assumptions built into the models.

  • BBD

    NiV and Sashka

    See #88 and #89 for links to Knutti & Hegerl and the Annan piece on CS. You have sailed over this, claiming (unconvincingly) to have read the links, and continued with exactly the same arguments (such as they are) you were mounting earlier.

    It’s like talking to the cat FFS ;-)

    Come on – give a bit. Make an effort.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #98,
    The Hansen paper after citing a number of other papers using models doesn’t use the climate models directly, they simply use the feedback values that used in modern climate models. The primary problem is still that the feedbacks are poorly understood. The Annan paper combines three results derived using climate models.

  • EdG

    # 80 Eric

    “EDG, @19, It seems that you are fond of the using out of context quotes to discredit people.”

    Hardly. Those quotes merely confirm the obvious. Fear sells. The model employed by the Military-Industrial Complex (or the Church) is a proven success and has been adopted by the AGW Research Industrial Complex and the whole environmental movement. That is obvious from the messaging, and its effect. Goes back to the roots of the environmental movement because it works. To a point.

    “in post number 8… a sentence in an email to attack the integrity of Phil Jones. His concern about the pause in global warming had no actual ill intent.  One of his colleagues got a result in a model run, that global warming might be delayed by sulfate pollution. He thought that it would hurt attempts to get action on the global warming…”

    Heard that all before. Unfortunately, it is not just one supposedly surprising model run that shows that global temperatures have recently flatlined. (And now we know even more about the ‘hide the decline’ trick.) But thanks for your explanation of why Jones is a political activist masquerading as a scientist. His first interest is action, not evidence.

    “You shouldn’t flatter yourself into thinking that it is an effective style of argument to an audience that is well read and intelligent.”

    All I would would hope is that those who are “well read and intelligent” will read everything for themselves and be intelligent enough not to merely read and swallow the spin from either side.
    Well read and intelligent people also recognize that all humans are political and economic animals, including those trained in some field of science, and that history has many lessons to teach us.

  • BBD

    NiV @ 101

    Well, as a fall-back position, yours is unassailable. If no methodology involving complex analysis is acceptable, and your discussion stops there, we are indeed stuffed.

    I worry that we might have missed something.

  • Lewis deane

    What is a sense of humour?

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tym0MObFpTI

     

  • Lewis deane

    It is interesting, though, at #98 you seem to have no argument left but to quote your opponent! As if your argument might gain energy from others! I know nothing, I believe in nothing but I’m arguable, I’m a beat a buttuble, I can learn. Teach me. Teach us.

  • Lewis deane

    What do you think your achieving, BBD? What do you expect? The convinced will not turn around and thank you, BBD, they will not say, I remember him.  They will laugh and say who – who are you?

    I want to answer you but I fail your sophistry. I’ll put it pretty explicitly - do you have a desire for a world of ‘experts’ or do you want democracy? We have to choose and we will! 

  • Lewis deane

    Isn’t it true how much we are in love with words and the bullshit consequence of those words which often means death! That my favourite author, James Elroy, can write and abuse our absurd sense, confirms that we are free. The ‘nuance’ is happening.

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    BBD

    “Why are you now characterising 2.8C as lukewarmer territory when it isn’t?”

    Why are you ignoring everything I have ever said.

    The official position is this.  We take the under bet at 3C

    Simply we think it is more likely that the true figure is less than 3C rather than greater than 3C.

    Simples.  have said so a hundred times or more.

    ModelE is a lukewarmer.

    do some reading.
     

  • http://veteransfreedomfarm.org steven mosher

    BBD

    In the very begining we defined lukewarmer  based on the percentage of warming in the 20th century that we attributed to
    GHGs.

    Bender took notes

    http://climateaudit.org/2008/09/23/sea-ice-end-of-game-analysis/#comment-163461

    Later on we looked at defining it relative to the IPCC projection for warming.  They predicted .2C decade, we were more in the .15C
    camp.

    Finally, I decided it made more sense to define it relative to something  the IPCC laid down.  The ECS range.

    We take the under bet  if the estimate is 3C. 


    http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/01/making-the-lukewarmer-case/#comment-72648 


    That’s been the position for some time. 

  • Øystein

    Steven Mosher claims IPCC is ‘lukewarm’. In the same statement, he also labels IPCC as ‘alarmist’, ‘warmist’ or whatever his term for ‘climate sensitivity over 3C’ is. 

    Steven Mosher then wonders why he’s not taken seriously.

    Any takers? 

  • BBD

    SM @ 108

    ModelE is a lukewarmer.
    do some reading.


    2.8 is well outside lukewarm territory. And those of us who read know this.

    What’s this ‘under-bet’ stuff that you have invented? You are striving to re-define lukewarmer to within the ‘best guess’ ~3C range.

    Everybody knows that lukewarmer means 1 – 2C. So your position is odd, to say the least.

  • BBD

    LD @ 105 – 107

    You sound drunk.

  • BBD

    SM

    Your comment at 109 was not visible when I posted at 111. Presumably held up because of links.

    You do not get to frame every debate on your own terms. Lukewarm means 1 – 2C ECS. Consensus is ~3C.

    You are moving the goalposts. No-one is obliged to agree with your unilateral re-definitions.

  • BBD

    SM

    This is the kind of re-framing I am referring to (from your comment at JC):

    Those who believe that the real sensitivity lies above 3 ( say hansen, perhaps) we call them warmers. Lukewarmers are within the mainstream of climate science.

    Hansen has argued for a 3C* value for a long time:

    Hansen et al. (1993):

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1993/1993_Hansen_etal_1.pdf

    Hansen & Sato (2011) Paleoclimate implications for Human-Made Climate Change:

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1105/1105.0968.pdf

    Lukewarmers are not within the mainstream of climate science.

    *Don’t bother with this red herring.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #113,
    “You do not get to frame every debate on your own terms.”
    Neither do you. Perhaps you would like to give the reference to the official ‘Society of Lukewarmers’ position statement where they say you have to claim 1-2 C to be a member? Or else, where did you get the numbers from?
    Luke-warmers as far as I recall were originally the low end of the mainstream. They believe in the science, but not in the stories of scary planet-dooming civilisation-destroying nation-sinking mass-extinction impacts. It was only the likes of Romm who thought that if you’re not with us you’re against us, and that any failure to follow entirely the party line put you in the climate sceptics camp. I don’t think there is any official definition. It’s just people who believe there will be some warming, but not enough to justify the panic measures the ‘warmists’ advocate.

  • BBD

    NiV

    I don’t think there is any official definition. It’s just people who believe there will be some warming, but not enough to justify the panic measures the “˜warmists’ advocate.

    Based on what body of work?

    It’s unsupported and hugely convenient, and avoids the denier tag.

  • BBD

    So very convenient.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #116,
    There is no body of work justifying the alarm. Many people say there is, but saying it doesn’t make it true. There are a huge variety of claims: ranging from reduced crop yields to climate refugees to drowning cities and islands to invasions of malarial mosquitoes and dengue fever and vampire moths to hurricanes and dust bowls and burning droughts and monsoon floods and glaciers taking over New York to wildfires and global famine where cannibals hunt the last remnants of mankind to extinction and runaway global warming turning the Earth into a new Venus before exploding.

    Most climate scientists say nothing and let it happen. It’s “helping the cause”, and you have to simplify a bit and downplay uncertainties if you want the public to take action.
    A few tried to point out that the science didn’t support that. None of the more outrageous claims are even remotely possible in the timeframe of the next century, and the uncertainties are such that it is more than possible that there will be less warming than expected and that nothing much will happen. It may, in any case, be hard to distinguish from our normal, chaotically variable changes in climate that have been going on throughout all history.

    The sceptics appreciated that they were getting even weak support, and made allowances for the fact they were still sticking to their mainstream reservation. They got called luke-warmers to distinguish them from climate sceptics. They didn’t doubt or dispute the mainstream climate science, and didn’t want to get tarred with the sceptic brush by their colleagues, but they thought all the scare aspects to it were being grossly exaggerated, and were brave and principled enough to say so publicly.
    They got tarred as climate sceptics and deniers anyway.

    There is no official definition. There are a lot of them saying 1-2 C. There are some higher, and some lower. But I would suggest that what makes a luke-warmer is not what particular sensitivity number they assert, but their attitude to the campaign of exaggerated alarm aimed at stampeding people into political action. The divisions are fuzzy – there is a continuous spectrum of opinion. The average of the mainstream is as good an upper boundary to set as any.

  • dean_1230

    Keith,

    I’d love to hear your opinions on the recent ruling in Germany about Stefan Rahmstorf’s actions defaming a reporter who tried to point out problems with the IPCC. 

    From what I can tell about the case,  Irene Meichsner, a freelance reporter wrote a highly critical article on Rahmstorf.  He responded by defaming her on his blog by accusing her of errors and even plagairism. 

  • Tom C

    BBD -

    Hansen and Sato is not an “empirical” study.  If you believe that you are far from understanding how speculative and error-plagued this field is.  All the paleo studies that they combine willy-nilly have massive uncertainty associated with them as do the models.

    I don’t know if the earth will warm 3 C if CO2 doubles.  Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.  But Hansen does not know either.  Good grief, the GMT has probably been known with any accuracy for about 30 years or so.  How can these people claim to know the GMT millions of years ago? 

    I guess the only way one can know is to become a megalomaniac like Hansen.  Then one can write sentences like this:

    The fate of humanity and nature may depend upon early recognition and understanding of human-made effects on Earth’s climate (Hansen, 2009).

  • Lazar

    Steven Mosher,
    I’m interested why you use the term lukewarmer for a sensitivity less than 3… it just seems strange to impose a social category on a somewhat arbitrary split in a pdf. I’m not sure what a statement like ‘GISS model E is a lukewarmer’ means. Why not just state its sensitivity. Why setup the dichotomy? Especially when it is often interpreted through fear and confusion. You’ve got 95% confidence limits around 1 and 5. What’s the tossup between 2.8 and 3.2? Or why not 2.7 vs 2.9, or 3.1 vs 4.5 etc… 2.9 is closer to 3.1 than 2.1. But 3.1 is the warmer?
    Perhaps if people understood more of your reasoning and logic… there would be less potential for distrust and misunderstandings?

  • Lazar

    Steven… I mean, putting model E (2.7) on a different team than MRI (3.2) and CSIRO (3.1), but the same team as an individual on an internet forum, who happens to believe that climate sensitivity is 1.5, does that really make sense? Are you closer in terms of belief to that individual, than a realistic climate model of sensitivity ~3.2? Why do you wanna segregate yourself into a team? Sometimes I think you are too opaque!…

  • Lazar

    Measuring position by the beliefs of others instead of evidence, then mixing belief and evidence together, is the problem I have with Keith’s idea of being in the middle. What is the middle between the devil and the deep? A rock and a hard place? I’d rather look where my feet are on the ground, case I fall off…

  • Lazar

    By the way, I really, *really* like your comments on Climategate 2. They seem fair and compassionate and honest and accurate to all sides. Perhaps I should buy your book, noting that ‘my/our side’ have got little glove on it, and the skeptics rarely cite it.

    Ciao

  • BBD

    Tom C

    In common with every other ‘sceptic’ you are claiming that ‘uncertainties’ in climate science are too great for it to have anything of value to say:

    Hansen and Sato is not an “empirical” study.  If you believe that you are far from understanding how speculative and error-plagued this field is.  All the paleo studies that they combine willy-nilly have massive uncertainty associated with them as do the models.

    This is nonsense based on a weak grasp of the facts. Your comment on H&S exemplifies this well. You invert the truth. Here is a carefully considered study that attempts to estimate CS using conservative, well-supported estimates of the change in GAT from the LGM to the Holocene and the values of the major climate forcings.

    If there are errors in the methodology, why has there been no response in the literature? Do you think Hansen gets a special pass because he’s Hansen? Or is it more likely that the method is sound and the conclusion (CS=~3C) is robust?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #125,
    “If there are errors in the methodology, why has there been no response in the literature?”
    “Hi Keith,
         Okay, today. Promise! Now something to ask from you. Actually somewhat important too. I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. They use your Tornetrask recon as the main whipping boy. I have a file that you gave me in 1993 that comes from your 1992 paper. Below is part of that file. Is this the right one? Also, is it possible to resurrect the column headings? I would like to play with it in an effort to refute their claims. If published as is, this paper could really do some damage. It is also an ugly paper to review because it is rather mathematical, with a lot of Box-Jenkins stuff in it. It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced. Your assistance here is greatly appreciated. Otherwise, I will let Tornetrask sink into the melting permafrost of northern Sweden (just kidding of course).
    Ed.”

  • BBD

    What has this stolen email to KB got to do with the methodology of H&S 11.

    Absolutely nothing!

  • Tom C

    BBD – I don’t think you know what words like “error” and “robust” mean in a scientific context.

  • Tom C

    BBD -

    You wrote:

     “Do you think Hansen gets a special pass because he’s Hansen?”

    Why I can’t imagine anything like that happening in climate science, can you?  I would think that Hansen would be subjected to rigorous peer review like everyone else.  /snark off

  • Tom C

    BBD -

    I could not better illustrate the Team’s mendacity regarding the handling of error and uncertainty than Mr. Briffa does in this E-mail.  AJ Strata is exactly right in his analysis, this approach is not based on any accepted scientific practice.  The effect is to turn unknown quantities into precise certainties.

    http://strata-sphere.com/blog/index.php/archives/17701

  • Nullius in Verba

    #127,
    Nobody said it had anything to do with the methodology in H&S. It was an answer to your question, with which you tried to imply that if there was a problem with the methodology it would necessarily have appeared in the literature. As Ed Cook demonstrates, that’s not how things work in climate science.
    It’s not about the methodology, it’s about the literature.

  • BBD

    Tom C and NiV

    BBD ““ I don’t think you know what words like “error” and “robust” mean in a scientific context.

    Enlighten me. Show me where I have misused the terms.

    And let me get this straight: Tom C you are arguing that H&S 11 is flawed, but that the field is so corrupt that nobody has been able to get a response published – yes? (#129)

    Let’s bear in mind that you make this claim based on an email to KB, which has exactly nothing to to with H&S.

    Also, this is a good opportunity to demonstrate how two readings of the same text can differ. Consider my emphasis vs yours:

    It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically, but it suffers from the classic problem of pointing out theoretical deficiencies, without showing that their improved inverse regression method is actually better in a practical sense. So they do lots of monte carlo stuff that shows the superiority of their method and the deficiencies of our way of doing things, but NEVER actually show how their method would change the Tornetrask reconstruction from what you produced.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #132,
    “And let me get this straight: Tom C you are arguing that H&S 11 is flawed, but that the field is so corrupt that nobody has been able to get a response published ““ yes?”
    No. We’re arguing that H&S is flawed for the reason I gave in #93 and #101, and that your argument in #125 that we are supposed to think the paper unflawed because there’s been no response in the literature is invalid. Papers conforming to the party line get a pass, papers criticising it are regarded as “damaging” and all the stops pulled out to try to stop them. It wouldn’t be a valid argument anyway, but the behaviour of climate scientists has destroyed what little merit the argument-by-literature might have had.

    #132,
    Ed is wrong in what he says, as is fairly obvious if you know what he is doing. If the theory is wrong, then practice can never be right. And they do in fact show that the method is bad in a practical sense – as Cook states in his next sentence. Monte Carlo testing is the only way you can tell, but it’s only then that you know what the truth is, to see if the method is reconstructing it.

    What Ed was trying to show was that “the errors don’t matter” – that even though the method is wrong, and has been shown in practice to usually give the wrong answer, that when applied to this particular example it doesn’t make much difference. (And note: we don’t know whether it did or not.)
    It fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of the paper. The aim is not to show that the Tornetrask reconstruction is wrong, it’s to show that the method is wrong. But Ed doesn’t care about wrong methods, so long as the all-important politically-influential result can still be presented.
    The logic fails, because there’s no guarantee this is the only error. The authors of the sceptical paper showed it was wrong, they didn’t necessarily catalogue everything that was wrong. It probably didn’t occur to them that they would need to.

    Nevertheless, what we see here is a scientist complaining that a paper correctly pointing out a long-standing error in the literature would be “damaging” – he does not, apparently, think it “damaging” to allow flawed methods/results in the literature to stand unchallenged, with uninformed readers not being told they’re secretly known to be unreliable. That’s the attitude of a political activist – they need results they can cite, they don’t care how they get them.

    I mean really, how do you sleep at nights defending that sort of behaviour from scientists?

  • BBD

    NiV

    No. We’re arguing that H&S is flawed for the reason I gave in #93 and #101, and that your argument in #125 that we are supposed to think the paper unflawed because there’s been no response in the literature is invalid.

    I don’t think you’re quite clear about what H&S are doing (# 93). The approach they take addresses your question directly:

    The empirical fast-feedback climate sensitivity that we infer from the LGM-Holocene comparison is thus 5°C/6.5 W/m2 ~ ¾ ± ¼ °C per W/m2 or 3 ± 1°C for doubled CO2. The fact that ice sheet and GHG boundary conditions are actually slow climate feedbacks is irrelevant for the purpose of evaluating the fast-feedback climate sensitivity.

    This empirical climate sensitivity incorporates all fast response feedbacks in the real-world climate system, including changes of water vapor, clouds, aerosols, aerosol effects on clouds, and sea ice. In contrast to climate models, which can only approximate the physical processes and may exclude important processes, the empirical result includes all processes that exist in the real world ““ and the physics is exact.

    [...]

    Regardless of the exact error-bar, this empirically-derived fast-feedback sensitivity has a vitally important characteristic: it incorporates all real-world fast-feedback processes. No climate model can make such a claim.

    Perhaps it is as I suggested: no critiques have appeared in the literature because nobody has found noteworthy errors in H&S 11.

  • Tom C

    BBD -

    I was referring to propagation of measurement error in paleo reconstructions.  You are talking about error in methodology.  I have no doubt that H&S is full of methodological errors, the biggest of which is failing to account for propagation of error.

    Did you read the post at AJ Strata’s site?  Do you agree with how Briffa handles propagation of error?

    Have you read the latest posts at ClimateAudit?  It has taken SM and two statistics professors, UC and Jean S, more than 5 years to unravel the farrago of calculations that Mann used to generate his 03 paper.  Turns out that it relies almost exclusively on 3 series.  Robust!  Yeah BBD – that’s what robust means.

    Really, the idea that you can know the mean temperature of the earth 1000 years ago my measuring a handful of trees can only be believed by gullible people.

  • BBD

    Tom C

    I have no doubt that H&S is full of methodological errors, the biggest of which is failing to account for propagation of error.

    Fine. Illustrate a few errors.

  • Tom C

    You still don’t get it.  “Error” is different than “errors”.

    I have a job and family and can’t spend the legion hours that would be required to delve into a paper like Hansen & Sato.  Again, look how many years it has taken to dissect Mann et. al.  The E-mails show in abundant detail how the Team does not cooperate and obfuscates at every step. 

    But really the detailed work is not necessary.  A technical background and common sense is all that is required.

  • Lazar

    BBD,
    Ignore the trolls. It is common knowledge, and easily understood, that all models are wrong but some are useful.

  • BBD

    Tom C

    I have a job and family and can’t spend the legion hours that would be required to delve into a paper like Hansen & Sato.

    All bluster and bluff, as usual. You have nothing.

    Lazar – of course I should ignore the idiots, but they are proliferating here and nobody seems too bothered. I’d hate to see CaS go the way of JC’s.

  • Keith Kloor

    @119,

    I meant to respond to this, but the weekend got in the way. So…based on the poor english translation I read (of the Der Speigel story), and then the interpretation of a German friend who read it, the most troubling aspect of this story is that the freelance writer’s own publication threw her under the bus–for no good reason.

    That’s apparently one reason why she felt compelled to defend her reputation through legal means. But not having read the original story by her and the climate scientist’s offending blog post, it’s hard for me to comment further.

  • Tom C

    @139  -

    Yeah BBD, I’m an idiot because I said that the systematic error in these reconstructions is so great that no conclusions can be drawn.  But take a look at these E-mails:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/05/tim-barnett-on-the-hockey-stick-statistics-were-suspectthe-rest-of-the-team-knew-of-problems-with-manns-reconstruction/

    Your precious experts that are so much smarter than us skeptics say the exact same thing in private.   In public, though, it’s all bluff and bluster.

    How can you defend these proven liars?

  • BBD

    Tom C

    Once again, you are attempting to extrapolate from the argument over the Mannean Hockey Stick to Earth System Science in general, and H&S 11 in particular.

    This is idiotic. Hence the description above.

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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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