What Climate Communication Sorely Lacks

By Keith Kloor | December 21, 2011 2:34 pm

My latest post at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media asks if the ratcheting up of climate fear will grab hold of a public already numb to such appeals. I think David Roberts at Grist makes a strong case for how it can work, but it rests on this assumption:

what drives social change and shifts politics is not broad-based support but intensity. An intensely committed minority can act as a lever that moves larger populations.

In fairness to Roberts, he also says that “activism, protest, and agitation,” hallmarks of a committed movement, along with continued warnings of imminent climate catastrophe, need not

be seen as an alternative to pragmatic, incremental process pushed by moderate insiders. They are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they ought to be mutually reinforcing.

The problem with even this multi-pronged approach is that there are no overarching values defined, which, to me, seems the only way you can expand beyond your “committed minority.” As one commenter (“grypo”) observes over at the Planet 3.0 site:

This is what the climate movement is missing. There is no core set of values that gets moved to the front of the movement that excites people. I can say the same for the issue of sustainability. What we do instead, is try the climate hawk approach, where we work within the value system of the establishment. We even bend over backwards to make rational economic arguments that don’t solve the main issues. For the Grist approach to work, this all must end. We need to attach the risk of future climate change and sustainability to a value system, and not the one that serves established politics. Ultimately, these issues revolve around human connection, social contracts, and the power of people working together to fix shit.

Roberts, in his post, refers to how American conservatives, over the last few decades, have moved narrow, minority held views (such as supply side economics) into the Republican mainstream. He points out that they’ve achieved this with relentless organization and advocacy. But he fails to mention the cultural values underlying these attitudinal shifts of the Republican party, and how these values have been powerfully framed (subsequently catching on as motivating force) and successfully wedded to policy positions.

So what are the values the climate movement wants audiences to embrace? I submit that avoiding climate doom won’t suffice. In my Yale Forum piece, I suggest that whatever values are formed, they ought to be able to strike a chord with people holding different worldviews.

  • http://www.sfenergycooperative.com Evan Wynns

    I think what we need to do is go beyond rational economic arguments in the abstract and actually incentivize the fight against climate change for the individual. The SF Energy Cooperative exists to prove that even a tiny investment (like $50)  in green energy can return a decent repayment rate over time. We firmly believe that if you show people they’ve left money on the table and can get it in a way that makes them feel engaged as well, they’ll get involved. As you point out above, pragmatism and idealism should be mutually enforcing rather than mutually exclusive, so why can’t that extend to incremental but actually profitable community action on environmental cleanup, green products and services and so on? In some ways I think it’s a great liability on the left that we’ve entirely ceded business in particular and money in general as a resource to the right. There is a demand for progress. There is a market for it. If we can meet that demand by founding locally run, equitably shared organizations, we can enrich everyone in small ways and take concrete steps, that matter both locally and globally, toward a better world at the same time.

  • Martin Gisser

    So what are the values the climate movement wants audiences to embrace?
    * Love of Life
    * Self-respect and dignity as a species that called itself Homo Sapiens.
    Sigh. Trivial things are often enough the most difficult to grasp.


  • EdG

    “what drives social change and shifts politics is not broad-based support but intensity. An intensely committed minority can act as a lever that moves larger populations”

    Hmmm. Misses the key point. You can cry wolf as loudly as you want but if it still keeps looking like a poodle it will just make the shouter appear more incredible.

    And it is difficult to imagine how the shouting could ever be louder than it was in the run up to Copenhagen and that didn’t work, did it?

    So called ‘climate communicators’ need more compelling evidence, not more shouting.

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    It is pretty clear that there is indeed a core set of values among those who push most strongly for immediate action on CO2 emissions.  The problem is that those values do not resonate with the public, and indeed, are often completely contrary to the values most of the public embraces.  I do not doubt that phrases like “climate justice” and “remaking the world order” are sincerely believed core values… they just are not every going to sell in Peoria.. or most anywhere else.

  • hunter

    @2,
    Yeah, that is why AGW beleivers are writing books like “Time’s Up!”.

    AGW is in trouble precisely because its believers have communicated their motives and intents and plans very well.   

  • Louise

    hunter – the stupid is strong today. “AGW is in trouble” in your dreams – unfortunately the science says otherwise http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/4/044022 

  • Martin Gisser

    Louise, you dare present evidence? Who cares… Which reminds me of the 3rd value I forgot:
    * Truth
    This value today is obviously decoupled from hominin self-respect, so needs extra listing.
     

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    #5, # 6,
    From “Time’s Up!”
    <blockquote>
    The first ending has happened before. Vast groups of humans, all taking part in a single, complex system, thrive for a short while; they take what they want until there is nothing left to take, and the system collapses. This has happened time and time again in the fruitless rise and fall of human ambition. The greatest of these civilizations is the one we are living in now. The end is when it falls, and the fall is coming soon. With this ending, we stand little chance of survival.
    The second ending is something we’re becoming sadly familiar with: the one in which the ice caps melt, the forests disappear, the oceans rise and countless species wake for the last time before leaving the Earth forever. This is an environmental catastrophe. We can bat it away, think it has little to do with us and carry on as before. But the environment is not another place: it is what we depend on for our survival, and we are part of it, whatever anyone might say. An “˜environmental’ catastrophe is a human catastrophe. With this ending, we also stand little chance of survival.
    The third ending is one you get to choose. There is a chance that we might survive. </blockquote>
    This is not a message that will motivate many.

  • EdG

    #6 Louise

    Your link goes to:
    Global temperature evolution 1979″“2010

    Grant Foster1 and Stefan Rahmstorf2″

    Is this conveniently short term analysis from these well known AGW advocates the best you can do?

    As for the integrity of the data it is based on, here’s what the GISS adjusters did to some of it:

    “The precision achieved by the most advanced generation of radiation budget satellites is indicated by the planetary energy imbalance measured by the ongoing CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System) instrument (Loeb et al., 2009), which finds a measured 5-year-mean imbalance of 6.5 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009). Because this result is implausible, instrumentation calibration factors were introduced to reduce the imbalance to the imbalance suggested by climate models, 0.85 W/m2 (Loeb et al., 2009).”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/20/hansens-arrested-development/

    So no surprise that data adjusted to fit the models would agree with the models.

    Not that a selected 21 year period means anything in any case.

    Climate communicators who just keep trying to flog stuff like this are not going to help their ’cause.’

     

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    “Time’s Up” and many similar works are just the latest in a long line of Mathusian claims of doom.  I remember the widespread and serious coverage the Club or Rome got in the 1960′s and early 1970′s.  Every catastrophe they predicted (like widespread famine and civil collapse by the 1990′s) of course never happened.  These sorts of things are not going to happen any time in the near future either.  The Malthusian analysis fails because it ignores both human ingenuity, and more importantly, to understand that the only real limit on human wealth, health, and well being is available energy, not available material.  The long term interests of humanity (and the Earth’s ecology!) will be best served by focusing on adequate long term global energy availability at reasonable costs.  Ignoring the global need for long term low cost energy does indeed incur real risk of economic and social disruption when the reduced carbon starts to run out.  That is worth avoiding.  

  • Menth

    So what are the values the climate movement wants audiences to embrace?


    This is an excellent question. I am interested to hear people’s thoughts.

  • Martin Gisser

    Steve, what you parrot about The Limits to Growth is meanwhile well-known to be lies.

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

    Malthusian analysis fails, until it succeeds. Mason Inman has the an important insight on the intrinsic sample bias in evaluating optimistic vs pessimistic claims.

    http://planet3.org/2011/11/05/have-only-the-pessimists-been-wrong/ 
     

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

    So, this is exactly the sort of “meta-narrative” discussion that I am objecting to.

    If you have something to communicate, you consider your resources (time, experience, visual channel), the capacities of your audience (interest, sophistication) and your topic. Then given that you tell the truth the best you can given the resources at hand.

    Anything else is dishonest. Dishonesty can easily be perceived, and dishonest messages are discounted.

    So EdG’s point is sort-of correct. What we need is to deliver the compelling evidence in compelling ways. We need to get better at telling the truth and explaining its implications. The intensity follows automatically from understanding that is in reasonable alignment with the evidence.

    Of course, in the past, truth did not encounter organized opposition. The climate debate has been a field of really triumphant breakthroughs in bullshit. This is why truth has failed so far in winning the day. 

    So what to do about the organized opposition to truth is clearly on the table, but it seems to me we should be telling the truth about them, too.
     

  • Keith Kloor

    Michael (14):

    Keep hanging on to that deficit model. I know that you and the “truth” will break through any day/year/decade now. As for this:

    “We need to get better at telling the truth and explaining its implications. The intensity follows automatically from understanding that is in reasonable alignment with the evidence.”

    As you are a scientist, I have to say that it’s breathtaking how you are able to avoid/ignore/dismiss the science that says you are on a treadmill with that belief. Did you bother reading the research I linked to in that Yale Forum post?

    Or are you just in utter denial?  

  • Menth

    @13
    Link says 404

  • Martin Gisser

    So what to do about the organized opposition to truth is clearly on the table.
    I’m not yet satisfied. I’m happy to see the BS put on the table unwrapped. That was many hard years of waiting and watching the “debate”, wondering why they can’t name the obvious.
    What I’m still missing is triumphant breakthroughs in mockery.

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

    Whoops, trailing blanks. Correct link here

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Michael Tobis,
    Your link is non-functional.

  • harrywr2

    #14
    Of course, in the past, truth did not encounter organized opposition.
    Exactly which ‘past’ and which ‘truth’ are you referring to?
    I’ve never lived in such a time.
    Try reading ‘workers daily’ and the ‘NY Times’ and try to decipher if they are describing the same planet?
     

  • Martin Gisser

    Dan Canahan (cit. loc. link),

    The principal reason people disagree about climate change science is not that it has been communicated to them in forms they cannot understand. Rather, it is that positions on climate change convey values “” communal concern versus individual self-reliance; prudent self-abnegation versus the heroic pursuit of reward; humility versus ingenuity; harmony with nature versus mastery over it “” that divide them along cultural lines.
    A bit simplistic for my taste. I’m puzzled if he’s satirizing black-white either-or thinking or if this is just journalist bullshit. E.g. what is neccessary meanwhile (c21st) is harmonic mastery of nature.

  • Menth

    Of course, in the past, truth did not encounter organized opposition.


    Are you talking about in the climate debate or throughout human history?

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Michael Tobis,
    Ok, now the link works. Oh but that the analysis behind the link worked just as well.

    Unless we start rocketing material off the Earth, the total of material on Earth is not going to change significantly. The form of that material does of course change when a raw material is used…. But it doesn’t disappear. All that is needed to recycle everything is energy. It is the relative cost of energy versus material resources which make resource depletion the economically rational choice, at least for now. Long term material wealth requires only inexpensive energy, not unlimited material resources.

    With regard to explaining the truth and it’s implications: Almost nobody believes you, certainly not in the developing world, and not even in the developed world. Tilt at windmills if you will, but it won’t make people listen any more than they have so far. Perhaps you should consider Einstein’s suggested definition of insanity.

  • Martin Gisser

    Steve, the magic word is entropy. Except you want to base your recycling on solar energy input.

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

    #23 So the Library at Alexandria was no great loss because the number of carbon atoms was the same before and after. I see.

    An awfully simplistic view. Lost species and lost ecosystems, lost environments and lost lifestyles, like lost cultures and lost languages and lost tomes, are lost information, not lost material.

    In any case, no economist measures wealth by counting atoms. In this matter, I think they have it right. 

    As for persistence vs foolishness, many people seem to misunderstand how different phenomena have different time scales. Let me quote the late Vaclav Havel: “There is only one thing I will not concede: that it might be meaningless to strive in a good cause.” 

    We have lost a generation to bullshit. I am concerned that we not lose another.

    The time that we can afford to be as foolish as we are now is fast ending. Something will change. Let’s make sure it’s us for the better, rather than the world around us for the worse.
     

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    #12,

    I parrot nothing. Limits to Growth made so many comically incorrect predictions that it today can only be read for it’s humor value. The present day predictions of doom will likewise turn out to be equally incorrect. I am reminded of the crazies who pronounce a definite date for the end of the world…. They are also always proved wrong. Of course, the Malthusians of today learned enough from the Club of Rome to never specify a date…. Instead it is always ” ultimately”.

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Micheal Tobis,
    As usual, you go to extremes to avoid the issue. Do you think the library at Alexandria held secrets still lost to us? Do you somehow foresee great losses of human knowledge due to…. what, higher atmospheric CO2? Do you think that abundant energy available for efficient use of raw materials is somehow in conflict with preservation of ecosystems? I reject the argument that only draconian cuts in human population and falls in material wealth can preserve natural ecosystems. I reject those arguments because I believe them to be technically unsound. And further, I understand that those arguments are never going to be accepted by most people, no matter how fervently you present them.

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

    “Do you think the library at Alexandria held secrets still lost to us?” (facepalm) You mean about the history of civilization? Um, yeah.

    “Do you think that abundant energy available for efficient use of raw materials is somehow in conflict with preservation of ecosystems?” In fact, direct heating becomes an issue after a few more doublings, yes.

    “ I reject the argument that only draconian cuts in human population and falls in material wealth can preserve natural ecosystems.” Me too. I call strawman.

     

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Michael Tobis,
    A few more doublings of what Michael, people? UN projections don’t suggest that is going to happen, but perhaps you have better data. Wealth always reduces population growth. And wealth comes mainly from inexpensive energy.

    With regard to your claim of a straw man, perhaps I have misunderstood your previous statements. But it is easy to clear up: how many people do you think the Earth can support in the long term, and at what level of material wealth? I had understood that you believed only a rather drastic reduction in population was consistent with long term sustainability. Please tell me if I got that wrong.

  • Menth

    We have lost a generation to bullshit. I am concerned that we not lose another.

    Really? A whole generation?  And what bullshit exactly? Anthony Watts’? Fred Singer’s? Rap Music?  I’m sure previous lost generations, chewed up by machine gun fire or plague would look on in envy.

    Here’s what climate communicators sorely lack: an ability to resist over using superlatives.


     

  • grypo

    The idea certainly isn’t to go against any scientific truth.  It’s more about taking that truth and using it to show people why they would want to work together to reduce the risks of an unsustainable future. The youth is there and waiting.  They just need to know why.  Also, when you don’t consolidate and put that value system in the forefront, it allows others to define your value system, as such is happening in this thread by Steve and Hunter.  

    The deficit model is still important, planning is still important and even the incremental successes that happen just as a matter of normal establishment politics.  I should clarify, that when I said, “All this must end”, I was referring to ending only playing on that establishment field and not expanding out into movement politics.

    A lot of environmental groups are single issue political establishments.  Even with WWF et al, they are pretty much all over the place.  Climate change has kept its distance as another single issue problem.  Until we all find a way to get behind each other, we will be fighting for the scraps, and no one will care.  

    To answer Menth’s question, I can’t say what a consensus movement would look like.   But I would gather it would revolve around issues like sustainability, and have the basic value that we should have a plan to to replace what we take from the environment.  The ethic of repaying your debt is the basic idea of conservation that most people can agree on.
     

  • Anteros

    MT -
    “The time that we can afford to be as foolish as we are now is fast ending”


    This jumps right out of the comic book for me. No science, no reason, no evidence – just ‘the moment is upon us!!’
    You talk of lost cultures, lost environments, lost species, lost lifestyles….. what of the new? If those things that were ‘lost’ were still here, we would have had no change and therefore what we do have wouldn’t have come into being.

    What is so wrong with change?


     

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    “I can’t say what a consensus movement would look like.   But I would gather it would revolve around issues like sustainability, and have the basic value that we should have a plan to to replace what we take from the environment.”

    I can’t say either. But I am pretty sure it would include a recognition that fossil fuels are a finite resource, and have lots of higher value uses than the energy content they yield upon combustion. I can say that a consensus movement can’t require a reduction in wealth, nor include many (most) of the politically motivated prescriptions which are commonly heard (environmental and economic justice, wealth transfer from rich countries to poor, etc). I suspect a reasonable first step would be a broad consensus that humanity will need a lot of energy for an indefinite period, and set long term goals consistent with that reality.
     

  • Martin Gisser

    Menth @30 said: “I’m sure previous lost generations, chewed up by machine gun fire or plague would look on in envy.”
    Yeah. The numbers. The horrors of exponential growth. Previous generations of hungry people will envy our age with a whopping billion going hungry. Previous generations of flooded folk will envy Bangkok 2011. Previous generations of overpopulated cannibal islands will envy the machetes of Rwanda.

  • Alexander Harvey

    I am no fan of framing, and I suspect it may be something to argue over, and then some more, and then all sorts of different messages in different frames may go out, and people will pick away critically at the framing rather than attack the content.

    There is an alternative, no frame.

    “Gotov je”

    (He’s finished)

    Is an unframed message. Was it effective?

    Yes!

    People can supply their own frame.

    Alex

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

    Are things getting better or are they getting worse?

    I have long said they are doing both at the same time, at an accelerating rate. Denying either aspect of our strange era seems quite out of touch.

    But the increasing chaos that results just keeps adding to the number of scenarios that might do us in.

    One basic problem is that the world is tightly coupled in reality but not in our administrative models.  There are other ways in which our administrative models are deeply out of touch with reality, e.g., intellectual property law.

    Nobody has developed a form of government agile enough for these times. So the improvements are local, and spectacular. (Apple, Google) and the problems (Mozambique, Haiti, Mynamar) are too. But energy and the environment tie us together and we all sink or swim together, whether we can get along or not.

    Though my optimism is qualified, I understand unbridled optimism as such. I can’t understand why optimism somehow is supposed to let you off the hook for solving real problems, which seems to be an argument that’s emerging here.

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

    Keith,

    Do you think that people’s perception of whether or not the science is “divided”, “unsettled”, etc. has any bearing on their willingness to support action on climate?

    Thanks.

  • Jarmo


    “he also says that “activism, protest, and agitation,” hallmarks of a committed movement, along with continued warnings of imminent climate catastrophe, need not
    be seen as an alternative to pragmatic, incremental process pushed by moderate insiders. They are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they ought to be mutually reinforcing.”

    I have a bit different take on this. I see the problem in the fact that besides action on climate, activists and NGOs are trying to include other stuff on the agenda.

    A couple of years ago I had a talk with a friend about the countryside and preservation of the environment and he said that it is too bad that the Greens have hijacked the platform.

    Btw, he is not a conservative, in the US people would regard him as a left-leaning Democrat.

    Anyway, his point was that besides environmental concerns, there is a lot of other stuff the Greens here advocate that many consider trivial, and some stuff that some people vehemently oppose. To mention some, they want to take more refugees into the country, they advocate adoption rights to gay couples, feminism, hunting bans, banning nuclear power, banning the army, compulsory vegetarian lunches at schools, basic income to everybody (government would pay everybody 440 euros/month) etc. etc.

    This is the mainstream Greens, of course there is the lunatic fringe.

    My friend said that generally most people are willing to do something to protect the nature. However, they don’t necessarily want to support the Green Party because of the baggage linked with choices of lifestyle, economics, national defence, taxes etc.

    Fast forward to 2011: We had parliamentary elections in the spring and despite the Fukushima disaster, the Greens lost one third of their seats. 

    I think the situation in the US is more extreme due to two-party system.  As we have seen, AGW has become a dividing issue instead of a uniting issue. 

    As long as AGW is pushed as a part of ideology or value system that many people find objectionable, the situation will remain the same.

     
     

  • Anteros

    Jarmo -
    I think you are spot on with AGW often seeming to have been hijacked by various ideologies. I also think the same is true of scepticism. It often seems to have been hijacked by rabid ideologues with a very obvious agenda.
    I don’t know whether it is closely symmetrical but it is one of the many reasons why there is such vehemence and distrust – climate for many people is just another proxy for a longer-running conflict.

    It makes me wonder how much the issue is concerned with ‘evidence’ when I realise how few CAGWists there are in the Tea Party and how few card-carrying enviro’s remain anything but true believers. It gives the lie to the idea that we are, as a rule, objective.

  • Keith Kloor

    @37

    I don’t believe your question is valid. As Roger Pielke Jr. said recently in a recent post, the battle over climate change is won: the general public in the U.S. (excepting the Tea Party and Fox News viewers) believes AGW is real.

    That they don’t believe it presents an existential threat is not the same as not believing in AGW. How you get from believing in AGW to it being an existential threat is what Roberts et al are trying to figure out.

    My point (and I’m backed up my social science research) is that increasingly loud fear appeals plus more and better communicated climate science won’t do the trick.

    People like Michael Tobis disagree. Maybe when some prominent climate scientists eventually come around to recognizing this fact he’ll come around.

    I should also add:like Jon Foley, I’m not suggesting that the press or anybody stop communicating climate science. All I’m saying is that it’s wishful thinking to think that just doing it better and more often is going to get you where you want to go. 

  • Anteros

    KK -
    Just a tentative thought – what are the differences that have led to such a difference across the Atlantic? Is it just that Europeans are that much more left wing, in general? It seems quite a few countries here are falling over themselves to be the most radical on Co2 reductions. I don’t really believe the difference is how the message has been communicated.
    I agree with you about more of the same climate communication producing more of the same result. I’m not a pessimist, but I don’t see much action on Co2 this side of some genuine climate chaos.

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    KK,
    “That they don’t believe it presents an existential threat is not the same as not believing in AGW. How you get from believing in AGW to it being an existential threat is what Roberts et al are trying to figure out.”
    Yes, that is really the issue. Nuclear war is an existential threat, a large asteroid collision is an existential threat. 2C higher average temperature is not. Even if an accurate projection of future warming were available (it’s not), that would not be sufficient to change the political result. Only highly credible and catastrophic consequences of future warming will change the politics. The science is just not there to convince people of future catastrophe. Consensus on energy use and fossil fuel use has to be based on something more than highly uncertain projections of doom a century from now.

  • Jarmo

    #41

    I think in Europe the Greens and and their allies are much more influential and they have a pretty strong representation in the European parliament. T
    In addition to plain environmentalists,  they have managed to capture some of the young voters of communist parties and in many cases Green leaders have a past in these movements, e.g.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Cohn-Bendit

    Traditionally European countries have been very active in the UN, promoting the role of UN during the Cold War and given the UN role in AGW promotion, I think it has also made a difference.

    Thirdly, the oil crisis hit Europe hard and the message of being self-reliant in energy has always had a keen audience here. Danish and Dutch wind power projects as well as nuclear power building (France, Sweden, Germany, Finland etc.) have their roots there.      

  • Barry Woods

    How to ‘communicate’ climate change to the EU public may be a challenge, when the world’s biggest ‘polluter’ China is fighting EU imposed airline carbon taxes.

    China has warned the European Union to abandon its controversial carbon tax on airlines or risk provoking a global trade war. Adding weight to the warning, an industry insider told the Financial Times that the Chinese government was seriously considering measures to hit back at the EU if it insists on charging international airlines for their carbon emissions. –Simon Rabinovitch - Financial Times (UK)

    The US has threatened to take retaliatory action against the European Union unless Brussels drops its plan imminently to start charging any airline flying into the bloc for its carbon pollution. In a sharp escalation of tensions over Brussels’ move to bring aviation into its emissions trading system from January 1, Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State, has written to her European Commission counterpart, Catherine Ashton, and other top commissioners, to “strongly urge” the EU to halt or suspend its plan. –Pilita Clark and Andrew Parker, – Financial Times (UK)
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/49ab64c8-2c92-11e1-aaf5-00144feabdc0,Authorised=false.html?_i_location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ft.com%2Fcms%2Fs%2F0%2F49ab64c8-2c92-11e1-aaf5-00144feabdc0.html&_i_referer=#axzz1hGt6eNvN (paywall)

    China’s per capita CO2 emissions are now ahead of France, en par with Italy and projected to go above the EU avergre next year (and keep growing) …

    THE EU politicians may eventually have to listen to the EU public….. ;-)

    It is not (nor has been) the climate ‘sceptics’ that are the big problem for the climate concerned, it is the non annex 1 countries, predominantly now China and India… The USA will not agree to anything, whilst it’s economic competitors do not not.

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

    @40 Keith Kloor:
    I don’t believe your question is valid.

    Okay, but you don’t really say why with the rest of your reply.

    As Roger Pielke Jr. said recently in a recent post, the battle over climate change is won: the general public in the U.S. (excepting the Tea Party and Fox News viewers) believes AGW is real.

    That’s not what I asked, nor do I think that’s really what the polling does reflect. Depending on how you phrase the question, a lot fewer people believe that AGW is happening inline with what the scientific community has demonstrated (i.e. that virtually all of the recent warming is manmade) vs. that humans are just having any effect at all.

    That they don’t believe it presents an existential threat is not the same as not believing in AGW. How you get from believing in AGW to it being an existential threat is what Roberts et al are trying to figure out.

    That presupposes that people have to believe “AGW is an existential threat” in order to support action on mitigating it. And that’s a huge assumption.

    All I am asking is this- do you think that the public perception of the state of the science, in terms of there being an actual rather than imagined debate about the reality of AGW- has any impact on their willingness to support action on climate?

    My point (and I’m backed up my social science research) is that increasingly loud fear appeals plus more and better communicated climate science won’t do the trick.

    That may well be so, and we’ve both seen the same literature I imagine, but that’s not the same thing at all as saying that the deficit model has nothing to add.

    I’m not trying to be a pain, but I would just like to see you answer the question @37 as close to a “yes or no” as you feel is appropriate.

    Do you think that people’s perception of whether or not the science is “divided”, “unsettled”, etc. has any bearing on their willingness to support action on climate?

    Thanks.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @40
    Lots to chew on here.

    “I’m not suggesting that the press or anybody stop communicating climate science. All I’m saying is that it’s wishful thinking to think that just doing it better and more often is going to get you where you want to go. “

    Fair point, although I’m not sure you’d find anybody that disagrees either.  I’ve yet to see anyone say that better science communication is a sufficient condition for meaningful policy action — but many would argue that it is a necessary condition.

    “As Roger Pielke Jr. said recently in a recent post, the battle over climate change is won: the general public in the U.S. (excepting the Tea Party and Fox News viewers) believes AGW is real.”

    First of all, just because Roger says so, doesn’t make it so ;-) . Since Roger never replied when I first objected to this characterization, I will restate it here.  Suggesting that the “˜battle’ is “˜won’ raises a number of important questions.  How do you define “˜winning’? Is it simply a matter of 50% +1? More importantly what does “˜belief AGW is real’ actually refer to? That humans activities are altering the atmosphere in some way or that it is an existential threat that needs to be addressed? There is a big difference between the former and the latter! Roger’s framing (and yours) glosses over these crucial questions in a way that seems deliberately designed to minimize the role that climate denialism plays in stifling meaningful mitigation policy.  Is denialism the only obstacle to meaningful action? No. But it is a real obstacle that needs to be addressed, particularly in the U.S. where the vagaries of the political process make action very difficult without very significant public support.

    Back to the subject of the post, I think that part of the problem is that you and Roberts are addressing related, but ultimately distinct aspects of the problem.  You are focusing on the communication aspects of the problem while Roberts is talking about the political considerations.  Now obviously communication and public opinion inform the politics, but by a communications theory or framework, by itself, is insufficient to explain the dynamics of the issue or present a meaningful strategy for resolving the current gridlock.  Can you tell I’ve got David Victor’s ‘Global Warming Gridlock‘ on my brain at the moment :) ?


    p.s. if your comments @15 are your attempt at the ‘public engagement’ rather than ‘deficit’ model, then I’d suggest you’re doing it wrong ;-)

  • Sashka

    @45
    That presupposes that people have to believe “AGW is an existential threat” in order to support action on mitigating it. And that’s a huge assumption.
    I don’t think so. It’s an assumption indeed but I’d guess it should be true for many if not for most.

    Do you think that people’s perception of whether or not the science is “divided”, “unsettled”, etc. has any bearing on their willingness to support action on climate?
    The question is not binary. There are many scientific issues that are (un)settled to various degrees. It’s complicated. But generally the fuzzier the science the less support to act it will provide. That much should be obvious.
     

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe (46)

    I think Michael is a lost cause on this particular area of the debate. He is an embodiment of why the deficit model doesn’t work for some people.

    As for what the polls say, you can parse them a dozen different ways, but my sense is that a majority of people believe that global warming is happening, that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are a big contributor, but that AGW does not pose an existential threat to them or their children.

    You seem to think that not enough people believe in AGW, or that climate skeptics are still muddying the debate. You give folks like WUWT, Marc Morano et al too much credit. Additionally, that is not my reading of the media coverage–in aggregate–over the last decade. 

    I repeat: the hump for folks like you and Michael and Roberts is convincing enough people that AGW represents an existential threat. I don’t think you can do that with appeals to the science or fear. That’s my point.  

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith I agree that you can’t convince people only with appeals to science, but surely that doesn’t then mean that mean that we abandon messaging based on science.  

    As far as what I believe let me be clear.  There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat (i.e. ‘lukewarmism’).  Both are forms of denial that are cut from the same cloth.  They differ only in the extremity of their opposition to mainstream thinking on the issue.

    Given the current mainstream scientific understanding of the problem and the wealth of information that is available on the topic, I’m surprised to see you suggest that there is a meaningful difference. Can you elaborate?  

     

  • Martin Gisser

    @48

    I don’t think you can do that with appeals to the science or fear.
    So, what else to appeal to, when facts (science) won’t do (plus, are fearsome)?
    Morality? Seems not to be a good idea either – people don’t like to be morally threatened.
    Money?
    ??

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

    Keith,

    So what do you think would convince them?

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

    @48 Keith Kloor:
    You seem to think that not enough people believe in AGW, or that climate skeptics are still muddying the debate. You give folks like WUWT, Marc Morano et al too much credit.

    I think a point that a number of us are making is that while there are assuredly other impediments to garnering public support for action on climate, it seems wildly premature to declare that misinformation or confusion about what the science says does not play a role.

    Do you think that people’s perception of whether or not the science is “divided”, “unsettled”, etc. has any bearing on their willingness to support action on climate?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    In somewhat related news:

    “Have we ever been so badly served by the press? We face multiple crises ““ economic, environmental, democratic ““ but most newspapers represent them neither clearly nor fairly. The industry which should reveal and expose instead tries to contain and baffle, to foil questions and shut down dissent.”

    No it’s not MT this time but Monbiot! Didn’t he get the memo Keith?!?! I thought he was one of your ‘good’ guys….

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Marlowe Johnson,
    “There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat (i.e. “˜lukewarmism’).  Both are forms of denial that are cut from the same cloth.  They differ only in the extremity of their opposition to mainstream thinking on the issue.”
    Oh, the arrogance.  Actually believing that tripe is one of the big reasons why you fail to convince people of the need for action, and why you will continue to fail in that endeavor.  There is a huge difference between people who understand science and those who do not, even if you find that incongruent with your world view.  The dismissal of all opponents, especially those who are technically trained and quite capable of evaluating “the science” on its merits, is never going to be a constructive approach.

  • Alexander Harvey

    Keith #48:

    “… but that AGW does not pose an existential threat to them or their children”

    We should all hope this is the case, but if it were not then I am not sure that there is much in the COP process that would remove such a threat before todays young adults look to their laurels.

    One thing does seem to be agreed on by most, and that is the scale of the mitigation task, not just in money but in duration.

    One of the good things one could say about mitigation is that it be easier to ramp down or stop than to ramp up.

    Regarding mitigation, I think that it is not the cost but the tardiness of effect that is the more existentially bothersome. That should it come to matters existential there might be little that would prove readily effective at any price.

    There is one key piece of information we lack, knowing from the onset of an apparent threat how much stopping room we would have from that first awareness to existential decline. Know that and we could estimate a safe rate of approach to first awareness, As of now we are ingorant of that important stopping distance and I am not sure that we know what indicator would give us the necessary warning to commence remedial action.

    In terms of the IPCC science I don’t think that there is anything particularly controversial in all this. Mitigation, as currently envisaged, is long haul taking ~40 years and more to stabilize the climate in terms of temperature. We know neither what sort of warming would constitute an existential threat nor how much warning we would get. For a while, and currently that seems to be for many decades, we would be committed to generally increasing global temperatures whilst perhaps doing what we can or cared to about it.

    This is a gamble we can take, and in a sense it is a gamble that we take daily and win daily. The issue that I have tried to highlight is that if we decide that we no longer like the odds, we cannot quit the game for many decades to come.

    The decision not to mitigate is one thing, but to fail to commensurately develop our ability to do so seems a tad foolhardy.

    With the best will in the world, we may not be able to leave the Earth at any predetermined global temperature in 50 years hence, but we seem to have a shot at passing it on in a state that is no longer subject to increasing global temperatures and let those that follow have the chance to decide their progress afresh, free from the prospect of further increases in global temperatures and decades before that could be turned around.

    Alex

  • Keith Kloor

    @ 49 “but surely that doesn’t then mean that mean that we abandon messaging based on science.”

    Have I said that anywhere?

    “There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat (i.e. “˜lukewarmism’).”

    This is where you lose people, with this kind of either/or mentality. It’s straight out of the Joe Romm playbook. Good luck with it.

     

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,

    whether or not such a belief is tactically correct/wise is an interesting question.  But your comment doesn’t address whether or not such a belief is correct or justified.  Can I presume then that you disagree with me?

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    My thinking on on this was concisely expressed here, by someone I doubt you would classify as a denialist camouflagued  lukewarmer:

    I categorise myself as somebody who recognises that additional CO2 in the atmosphere as a result of man’s activities (fossil fuel burning and land use change) will have an effect on the balance of radiation coming into and leaving our atmosphere.

    I do not have a confirmed view as to exactly what the impact of the CO2 will have (feedbacks etc being uncertain) but I know that it must have an effect ““ that’s physics.

  • Anteros

    @58
    As I said on the original thread – I can’t think of a statement that would be much more reasonable than this. Whether that makes me a sceptic, a lukewarmer or some kind of AGW believer, I’d be happy to sign up to Louise’s set of beliefs. Perhaps most people would – which says something [possibly that the statement doesn't say very much? I don't know]

  • Marlowe Johnson

    If that’s the case Keith, then I’d suggest that you and Louise are in just as much denial as the Watts crowd  (although, I suspect that her views on the likelyhood of the sign of the impact (negative vs positive) tilt quite a bit further toward the former than the latter).

    Now I since Louise isn’t here I can only ask you.  Are you really suggesting that your ambivalent about the likely impacts of climate change? As I said before, if you actually think that mainstream scientific thinking on this is that it’s a toss up then your badly misinformed.

     

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    It doesn’t get much more scientifically mainstream than the UNFCCC/IPCC/WMO/UNEP/etc. objectives for “avoiding dangerous intereference with the climate system”, and that is generally defined as 2ºC. In fact, the updated “burning embers” analysis seems to suggest that 2ºC is actually more like a fuzzy line between dangerous and very dangerous, with some level below 2C being “avoiding dangerous”.

    With 0.8C behind us, and, what?, ~ 0.6C “in the pipeline” from inertia of both the climate/ocean systems and our capital stock… It’s hard to see how the distinction between “denialist” and “lukewarmer” is meaningful, as per Marlowe’s point. Both are willing to accelerate the human enterprise past what the mainstream science is warning them is dangerous.

    You can say, well, I dismiss or ignore that warning. But you can’t then also say that your concerns are aligned with the mainstream science.
    People don’t seem to want to deal with this. It’s as though they are saying “well, if the science really was saying that it is dangerous, then I would be committed to urgent action. But it’s not, so I’m not”. But it is, and they aren’t. 

     

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

    @58 Keith Kloor:
    My thinking on on this was concisely expressed here

    Wait-

    If an experienced writer on climate issues doesn’t have a “confirmed view” of what the balance of evidence on anthropogenic climate change is beyond the absolutely trivial (increasing GHGs increases the GHE), then we’re properly f*cked, aren’t we?

    Keith, the reason why staid (dare I say normally soporiferous) folk like James Hansen are talking about species extinction isn’t because they’re the kind of people who just love a good doomsday prophecy.

    When you look at the paleo/geological record, and you see declines in biodiversity like we’re in the middle of presently, and you add in a significant perturbation of the carbon cycle/climatic change of the kind we’re talking about under unchecked emissions, it tends to get ugly.

    You don’t need to know the equilibrium climate sensitivity to within a hundredth of a °C to realize that the end result has been at least occasionally mass extinction.

    You don’t need to know the exact response of low vs. high clouds to a fraction of a W/m^2 to know that if we jack CO2 up by 100s of ppm, that implies a given amount of eventual sea level rise that is incompatible with our current coastal megalopolises.

    You needn’t doubt in humanity’s technological capabilities or divine the exact price to the cent of the social cost of carbon to understand that mitigating future emissions, adapting to the change we can’t prevent, and re-organizing infrastructure in response to present climatic effects as well as though down the road is the less risk averse path compared to rolling the dice and reacting to whatever comes.

    No one is demanding that everyone agree on the all of the particulars down to infinitesimally small precision. But it’s a bit terrifying to think that people who more or less should understand the issue for a living outside of science can’t seem to bring themselves to go beyond acknowledging the reality of the greenhouse effect.
     

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    “If that’s the case Keith, then I’d suggest that you and Louise are in just as much denial as the Watts crowd”
    Wow, just wow.  When an analyst concludes KK is in denial, just like the “Watts crowd”, its not hard to discount the analyst.  You are lost my friend.

  • Louise

    Marlowe – I made it clear that I recognised that additional CO2 in our atmosphere will have an impact on our climate. Perhaps I should have made it clearer that I also recognise that this will be a negative impact but that I am not yet certain just how bad this will be (but I do know it will be bad).

    I would never categorise myself as a lukewarmer but I am unwilling to accept the ‘alarmist’ or ‘catastrophist’ titles that others seem to want to bestow. I call myself a realist.

    I do not believe AGW will be an existential event but I do believe it will lead to dreadful suffering for millions if not billions around the world.

  • BBD

    KK @ 58

    Ah, the middle ground where we find the true believers in an unphysically low climate sensitivity. Not Louise, of course, but her interlocutor on that thread, and many others.

    Marlowe Johnson (49) is correct to argue:

    As far as what I believe let me be clear.  There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat (i.e. “˜lukewarmism’).  Both are forms of denial that are cut from the same cloth.  They differ only in the extremity of their opposition to mainstream thinking on the issue.

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

    @61 rustneversleeps:
    People don’t seem to want to deal with this. It’s as though they are saying “well, if the science really was saying that it is dangerous, then I would be committed to urgent action. But it’s not, so I’m not”. But it is, and they aren’t.

    I agree with this part of your post.

    A lot of curious things about the climate “debate” appear to snap sharply into focus when you “what-if” the idea that certain journalists might be of the belief that things are going to look more Lomborgian or Matt Ridleyan in the future than what the post AR4 literature suggests (let alone Hansenian or Caldeiran), even while they imagine themselves inline with the actual evidence.

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

    @63 Steve Fitzpatrick:
    Wow, just wow.  When an analyst concludes KK is in denial, just like the “Watts crowd”, its not hard to discount the analyst.  You are lost my friend.

    I think you’re missing the nuance to that assertion. There are plenty of people who will agree out loud that smoking is unhealthy who still don’t really believe that they’re (all else being equal) cutting their lives shorter while they smoke.

    That doesn’t put them in the same category of wrong as those who think the epidemiological data on smoking risks are part of a Big Government plot. But from the perspective of their friends and loved ones, they might as well.

  • Anteros

    Well, wouldn’t you know. The usual suspect invokes Anteros’ law without a shred of self-awareness and gets to label our host a denier in the same breath.
    Well, I thought in agreeing with Louise we were on safe ground.

  • Barry Woods

    58#  you sound just like me !! ?

    except with feedbacks,

    I think most likely to be weakly poistive or negative…

  • EdG

    # 49 Marlowe writes:

    “surely that doesn’t then mean that… we abandon messaging based on science”

    We have no end of ‘messaging BASED on science,’ but not nearly enough which objectively describes what ALL the scientific evidence actually is. Moreover, we have far too much press release messaging BASED on tentative or preliminary ‘findings,’ which almost always conveniently support the AGW narrative – and a virtual absence of coverage in the usual media when those ‘findings’ are found to be false, exaggerated or otherwise bogus.

    The model used for reporting medical science ‘news’ should be used for AGW communication. That is, no press or publicity until it has gone through a legitimate peer review process. The early release of the BEST data, accompanied by a major publicity campaign, is a classic example of what not to do. I would guess that Muller would now agree with this.
    Marlowe writes: “There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat”

    Major communications problem revealed. Who doesn’t “believe” in climate change. Change is the only constant in the physical universe, so climate change is a given. Thus any discussion based on this moot point is misleading, arguably Orwellian, and obscures the only real question here, which is about the potential human influences on this ongoing process.

    In other words, how can one base a communications strategy or any messaging on such a meaningless foundation? Messaging that sets this issue in terms of ‘climate change’ is either missing the point or trying to.

    Re #53 – I definitely agree with that Monbiot quote you posted though for reasons quite the opposite of what you apparently do. Any objective review of the mainstream media coverage of the AGW story over the past 5 years shows where their biases are.
     

  • Anteros

    I’ve been following Tom Wigley’s career for a number of years. He seems strangely more cautious on climate sensitivity than those of a more dogmatic persuasion -
    “Quantifying climate sensitivity from real world data cannot even be done using present-day data, including satellite data. If you think that one could do better with paleo data, then you’re fooling yourself. This is fine, but there is no need to try to fool others by making extravagant claims”.

  • Stu

    @61

    “and that is generally defined as 2ºC. In fact, the updated “burning embers” analysis seems to suggest that 2ºC is actually more like a fuzzy line between dangerous and very dangerous, with some level below 2C being “avoiding dangerous”.”

    If you take the Best results on temperature rise over the last two centuries as accurate, then apparently we’ve already had a  2ºC  rise in temperature over this time. How many people have analysed what the effect of that confirmed 2 degrees was? This should be an interesting line of research, because atleast we don’t have to wait around for something to happen… it already has. People say that it’s the rate of warming that’s the problem, so I’m curious to hear about the effects of that 2 degrees warming we’ve already experienced. 

    Or is it the next 2 degrees which is the problem? If so, then what happens to the rate of warming argument?

     

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @54
    “Actually believing that tripe is one of the big reasons why you fail to convince people of the need for action, and why you will continue to fail in that endeavor.  There is a huge difference between people who understand science and those who do not, even if you find that incongruent with your world view.  The dismissal of all opponents, especially those who are technically trained and quite capable of evaluating “the science” on its merits, is never going to be a constructive approach.”

    Since when is accepting the mainstream scientific position on an issue arrogance?  You’d better be careful or you might attract the attention of a certain BBD…

    @64
    I didn’t think you were a lukewarmer (hence my parenthetical qualifier).  Whether or not you think something is going to be bad, very bad, really bad, or down right catastrophic is a matter of splitting hairs in the context of the current discussion.  However, I’m not sure how holding any of the above views is inconsistent with an ‘alarmist’ position.  Right now our current understanding of climate sensitivity and our emission trajectory suggest that we’re heading towards a future that is somewhere between very bad and catastrophic.  You’ll have to do some very interesting mental gymnastics to convince me that being labelled ‘alarmist’ or ‘catastrophist’ is more appropriate than ‘realist’.

     Actually, thinking about it a little more,  I don’t think the terms are mutually exclusive. I suspect many people would use both to describe themselves when it comes to climate change.  I’m very alarmed about our current trajectory and am also a realist in terms of my expectations of short term responses to the problem.

  • BBD

    An ECS of ~3C for 550 ppmv isn’t an extravagant claim. Perhaps TW was referring to more contentious estimates? Higher and lower.

  • Anteros

    I think he was referring to any degree of certainty – that would be the extravagance. A little like Ed Cook’s “The only thing we know for certain is that we know f*ck all”

  • BBD

    Anteros, I am pretty bored with the tactic of ‘uncertainty = we know nothing’. Especially when ‘supported’ by out-of-context quotes from the CG emails.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @75
    No.  BBD has it right. But since you’ve been following Wigley’s career for so long, perhaps you can point me to some of his publications and/or presentations where he elaborates on this.  

    After all we wouldn’t want to rely solely on a stolen email to get a sense of what someone thinks would we :roll:  

  • Louise

    The problem with the label ‘alarmist’ is that it implies “excessive or exaggerated alarm about a real or imagined threat” – wikipedia

    I may be alarmed, I’m not an alarmist.

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

    @71 Anteros:
    I’ve been following Tom Wigley’s career for a number of years. He seems strangely more cautious on climate sensitivity than those of a more dogmatic persuasion

    The problem with relying on cherry-picked, out of context emails is that you end up looking silly. Or worse.

    Let’s take a look at the email that you excerpted those lines from, shall we?

    1. It was written more than 10 years ago. Whatever the contents of the email, one must understand that they’re going to be 10 years behind the current state of the science.

    2. You’ve omitted the beginning of the email, which dramatically changes the meaning of what follows:
    Keith and Simon (and no-one else),

    Paleo data cannot inform us *directly* about how the climate sensitivity
    (as climate sensitivity is defined). Note the stressed word. The whole
    point here is that the text cannot afford to make statements that are
    manifestly incorrect. This is *not* mere pedantry. If you can tell me
    where or why the above statement is wrong, then please do so.

    Wigley is stating a basic truism- climate sensitivity cannot be determined directly by paleo data. That’s because of the way climate sensitivity is defined. We can only indirectly constrain it rather than derive it purely through theoretical means or observe it. He is speaking to the word choice used by others, in saying whether we can “*directly*” determine climate sensitivity, not saying anything about how accurately we have or have not constrained it. Specifically, he is responding to this statement by Keith Briffa about including or excluding a specific phrase:
    > In the area of pedantry, however, I do not like the inclusion of the
    > statement
    > saying that palaeo -data are not likely to be able to inform us directly about
    > climate sensitivity . This is a moot point , and even if true , is not needed.

    3. Note how this changes the part you then quote:
    Quantifying climate sensitivity from real world data cannot even be done
    using present-day data, including satellite data. If you think that one
    could do better with paleo data, then you’re fooling yourself.

    In the context of the preceding, we no longer need assume that Wigley is stating that we just generally can’t determine climate sensitivity very well, as you imply. Rather, we see that he’s talking about the validity of using a certain phrase “directly determine” in relation to how the terminology is actually defined.

    While we cannot directly determine climate sensitivity from paleo or modern obs alone, we can certainly use either and/or both to greatly constrain its probable value.

    4. Let this be a lesson in miniature about using the hacked emails to try to justify your “skepticism”. You either don’t understand or are willfully misrepresenting their contents, and this is quite clear to anyone who actually understands the subject matter. It may go over well with your fellow tribalists, but it doesn’t fly in the real world.

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

    Sashka #47 in response to:
    Do you think that people’s perception of whether or not the science is “divided”, “unsettled”, etc. has any bearing on their willingness to support action on climate?

    repiies:
    The question is not binary. There are many scientific issues that are (un)settled to various degrees. It’s complicated. 

    which is reasonable. Then he says:

    But generally the fuzzier the science the less support to act it will provide. That much should be obvious.
     
    This is complete nonsense.

    Admittedly it’s bought into, including by the likes of Curry, Watts, and McIntyre. The press seems to buy it too, as does the public. It is entirely irrational, though. And this is one of the key points of communication we can examine, to identify where the problem comes from.

    Among the facts that we do know with confidence: that trace gases dominate the radiative properties of the atmosphere, that those gases are accumulating as a result of human activity, and that the accumulation is comparable to that of the largest climate swings of the past and as far as we know faster than any of them.

    These already-established facts led the Charney commission in 1979 to conclude “If carbon dioxide continues to increase, the study group finds no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible.” (Indeed, they came up with an equilibrium sensitivity not far from that currently proposed.)

    Given this basis in long-established science, uncertainty is not your friend. Those who believe that science is not very capable of constraining the sensitivity need to balance the possible overestimate of sensitivity against a comparable underestimate. In that case, the risks become existential very quickly and the urgency of the response becomes even higher. Recall that almost all types of climate change costs seem to increase much faster than linearly with sensitivity. Thus risk weighting means the uncertainty at the high end is where the problem lies, and the greater the uncertainty, the greater the risk.

    This key point alone refutes much of the nonsense that the delayers are slinging, and yet the press and the public seems oblivious to it. These seem to be people who would advise you to drive faster in a fog. And yet they are taken seriously.

    And as a response to this sort of complaint I am told I have an incorrect “deficit model”. 

    What there is a deficit of is not information, not reporting, but sense. Therefore there is an obligation to make more effort to talk sense. And what we are told instead is that we aren’t competitive on the bullshit front. I think that is true. We should concede it, and take our stand on reason and evidence.
     

    There is no political formula that will work because climate science, unlike its opposition, is not a political movement. Before people understand not just the name of the problem, but its basic outlines, no cogent policy can emerge. Is that enough?

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d like to think that it is nearly enough.

    But we are so far from a condition of reasonably broadly correct understanding, that we have no conceivably useful test.

     

  • Anteros

    Marlowe Johnson -
    If you’re serious about following Wigley’s thoughts about the uncertainties inherent in estimating climate sensitivity I suggest ‘The science of climate change’. It’s discursive and will give you a sense of the nature of the problem.
    tt – in a way I agree with you – but using paleo to ‘constrain its probable value’ is strikingly different to insisting it is a particular value. I’d suggest Wigley would make the same point tomorrow. If the IPCC is reluctant to estimate closer than two and a half degrees, why should anyone else?

  • EdG

    #77 “After all we wouldn’t want to rely solely on a stolen email to get a sense of what someone thinks would we”

    Yes we would, and should, depend on what someone says in private when it is so different than what they say in public.

    Whether one chooses to believe that these emails were ‘stolen’ (hacked) or leaked by a whitleblower (as appears “very likely”) is beside the point.

    If you take your argument to its logical conclusion, you must also want to ignore what the Pentagon Papers and all the wikileaks revealed.

    The Climategate emails are what they are, and reveal what they reveal, no matter how they came to be public. In any case, that rat is out of the bag with predictable effects, and there is no way to stuff it back in.

  • EdG

    # 80 MT writes:

    “Admittedly it’s bought into, including by the likes of Curry, Watts, and McIntyre.”

    Your inclusion of Curry in this list reveals a lot about this larger problem of polarization and ‘tribalism.’ And this also implies that they have ‘bought into’ their conclusions based on something much less substantial than what led you to have “bought into” your conclusions.

    I see absolutely no evidence of that implication.  

    “The press seems to buy it too…”

    People keep saying this as though repitition will make it true. But any objective analysis of the mainstream media coverage shows  just the opposite. They do not “buy” the uncertainty of AGW. They are selling the alleged certainty.

    That is why some people now aptly call the mainstream media the Consensus Media.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @81
    nice try.  it is fun though to watch someone hoisted by their own petard (nicely demonstrated by TB @79) so thanks for that.

  • BBD

    Anteros @ 81

    If the IPCC is reluctant to estimate closer than two and a half degrees, why should anyone else?

    You misrepresent WG1:

    Since the TAR, the levels of scientific understanding and confidence in quantitative estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity have increased substantially. Basing our assessment on a combination of several independent lines of evidence, as summarised in Box 10.2 Figures 1 and 2, including observed climate change and the strength of known feedbacks simulated in GCMs, we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is very likely larger than 1.5°C.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-5.html#box-10-2

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    You simply misread what I wrote. I represented the IPCC WG1 exactly.
    Perhaps I used words of too many syllables – The IPCC estimate is a range of two and a half degrees, not less. maybe if you have reason to believe this should be narrower, you can send me a copy post peer review.
    Of course, using the IPCC very likely range, it is three degrees. Sloppy of me.

  • BBD

    Anteros

    You are confusing the ‘very likely’ range with the statement:

    equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.

  • Anteros

    @84-
    Can I assume that, after all, you were not being honest in your request? How naive of me.
    Still, it’s always best to hope for the good in people.

  • Anteros

    And if the value is very likely larger than 1.5C then it is very likely between 1.5 and 4,5C. It is relatively simple maths – 3 degrees.

  • BBD

    Anteros

    To be clear:

    - ‘very likelydoes not mean ‘most likely’

    - ‘range‘ does not mean ‘value

  • BBD

    Anteros

    To paraphrase you at 86: you simply misread what the IPCC wrote.

  • Anteros

    Indeed.
    The value is likely in the range of 2.5 degrees [2 -4.5]
    The value is very likely in the range of 3 degrees [1.5-4.5]

    As I said, the IPCC see no evidence to justify specifying a very likely range of less than 3 degrees. To me that is one enormous wodge of uncertainty.
     

  • Anteros

    @91
    Well, I agreed with the IPCC statement you quoted. Did you quote it correctly?

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

    @75 Anteros:
    A little like Ed Cook’s “The only thing we know for certain is that we know f*ck all”

    Aren’t you a little hesitant about tossing around context-less quotes like that, given how badly they’ve burned you? What’s the source for that one?

  • BBD

    Anteros @ 93

    we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.

  • Anteros

    tb-
    I’m surprised, after being so familiar with Tom Wigley’s private thoughts, I’d guess you would be up to speed on Cook’s. I just happened to be reading it this afternoon after listening to one of Cook’s lectures.

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    Source please, Anteros. Let’s have a proper look at it.

  • Anteros

    @95.
    You might [or might not] have noticed that right from the beginning [hey ho, this is familiar] I have been talking about the range in which the value lies.
    Remember? I said “If the IPCC is reluctant to estimate closer than two and a half degrees, why should anyone else?”
    Luckily it is still there in black and white. @81.
    There we have it. Still. A range of 2.5C. If you include the “very likely higher than 1.5C, you miraculously have a range of 3 degrees. Not much certainty going on there.

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

    @92 Anteros:
    Indeed.
    The value is likely in the range of 2.5 degrees [2 -4.5]
    The value is very likely in the range of 3 degrees [1.5-4.5]

    As I said, the IPCC see no evidence to justify specifying a very likely range of less than 3 degrees. To me that is one enormous wodge of uncertainty.

    This is getting painful to watch. Perhaps I can help put you out of your misery.

    Whereas you claim:
    The value is very likely in the range of 3 degrees [1.5-4.5]

    The IPCC itself does not. Rather, it reads:
    the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is very likely larger than 1.5°C.

    That is to say:
    >90% that it’s >1.5°C
    >66% that it’s between 2-4.5°C
    A best estimate value of 3°C.
    There is no estimate offered for <4.5°C beyond the “likely”.
    You’re inventing the “very likely in the range of 3 degrees [1.5-4.5]” part.

  • Anteros

    rustneversleeps -
    100 year variability. Ring any bells? Verisimilitude of proxy records?   If you’d like to peruse the copied email, it is number 3253.

  • Anteros

    tb – you haven’t really been following. I said likely 2.5 degrees.
    OK?
    Now, as I noticed that the IPCC added a ‘very likely’ higher than 1.5C, It seems eminently reasonable to add the range 1.5-2C to the already given 2-4.5C
    What other term would you use than ‘very likely’. You can ‘invent’ what you like – a range of three degrees has been given. Why quibble?
     

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

    @ 96: Anteros:
    I’m surprised, after being so familiar with Tom Wigley’s private thoughts, I’d guess you would be up to speed on Cook’s. I just happened to be reading it this afternoon after listening to one of Cook’s lectures.

    @100 Anteros:

    100 year variability. Ring any bells? Verisimilitude of proxy records?   If you’d like to peruse the copied email, it is number 3253.

    Anteros,

    Please cite the exact quote and full context for your “quote” that you attributed to Ed Cook @75: “The only thing we know for certain is that we know f*ck all”.

    Thanks!

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

    @101 Anteros:
    tb ““ you haven’t really been following. I said likely 2.5 degrees.
    OK?

    And you also said @92:
    The value is very likely in the range of 3 degrees [1.5-4.5]

    The upper range for which you completely made up, which the IPCC explicitly rejected. Hope that helps!

  • Anteros

    tb -
    if you’re as familiar with it as I am, why are you being so tendentious?
    Briffa, 2003. Attempt to persuade him to do a new study?

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    Stats not a strong suit, eh Anteros?

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

    @104 Anteros:
    if you’re as familiar with it as I am, why are you being so tendentious?
    Briffa, 2003. Attempt to persuade him to do a new study?

    Please cite the exact quote and full context for your “quote” that you attributed to Ed Cook @75: “The only thing we know for certain is that we know f*ck all”.

    Thanks a bunch!

  • Anteros

    Tb – if you haven’t backed yourself into a corner, how would you characterise the range 1.5-4.5C It is where the IPCC says climate sensitivity lies – likely between 2 and 4.5 and very likely higher than 1.5. Why don’t you ‘make up’ a way to describe that.
    You seemed to have missed my original contention – that the range of 2.5degrees C is large and implies great uncertainty. Would you dispute that?

  • Anteros
  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    There IS no “range” of 1.5-4.5, Anteros. You are just plucking numbers at random and reassembling them into some personal narrative.

    It is painful to watch. But, for crissakes, why would the lower-bound value for the “likely” range increase ONLY to the downside? Hmmm??? Stats got your tongue?

    Also, @ KK, Anteros ascribed a quote to Ed Cook and now will not substantiate it. Comment? 

  • Anteros

    tb – in case you mislaid the original contention, here it is again. Apologies for the typo of ‘tt’ ““
    “tt -in a way I agree with you ““ but using paleo to “˜constrain its probable value’ is strikingly different to insisting it is a particular value. I’d suggest Wigley would make the same point tomorrow. If the IPCC is reluctant to estimate closer than two and a half degrees, why should anyone else?’”
     

  • Anteros

    rustneversleeps -
    how do you characterise the range 1.5-2C?
    Can’t find the words?
    When you do, add it to the already described ‘likely’ for 2-4.5.

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    Why doesn’t the upper bound value change, Anteros? Is it a magic number?

  • Anteros

    You didn’t answer my question again. How do you characterise the range 1.5-2C?
    When you’ve got that, you’ll have some way of describing 1.5-4.5. It might be cumbersome but it is three degrees. Don’t you think if the IPCC wanted to say something about the probability of the value being ‘less than 5C’, say ‘very likely’ they would have done so? They didn’t – they only mention above 1.5 and below 4.5.

  • EdG

    Comments here reveal much about the larger conversation.

    Anteros states the obvious: “that the range of 2.5degrees C is large and implies great uncertainty. Would you dispute that?”

    Apparently avoiding that central point, others choose to dwell on the details.

    It would certainly help the “cause’ if its proponents would at least recognize what is self evident.

    Who doesn’t understand that this uncertainty about CS is THE scientific question re AGW?

    That is why it is so contentious. And why BBD and others correctly focus on it even on threads like this which are supposedly about communication. 

    What is the sensitivity of the whole global climate system to CO2 levels in the atmosphere? Nobody knows. And given how the global temperature appears to at least periodically ignore continuing rises in CO2 levels, it seems obvious that it is not so simple in any case.

    The first step in improving communications on this topic is to accept the known known that there remain many known and unknown unknowns, and begin the conversation there. But as this is a political project that kind of honest scientific humility is not what its promoters want, and is “very likely” to not happen for a very long time, if ever.  

     

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

    @108 Anteros:

    Tb-

    Where, exactly, in that email, does the following “quote” you attributed to Ed Cook appear?

    “The only thing we know for certain is that we know f*ck all”.

    Why on Earth should anyone deal with you in good faith, Anteros, if you have no compunction against misrepresenting scientists in order to defend your beliefs?

    What Cook actually writes is far less dramatic:

    Without trying to prejudice this work [a proposed new proxy reconstruction over 8 years ago], but also because of what I almost think I know to be the case, the results of this study will show that we can probably say a fair bit about <100 year extra-tropical NH temperature variability (at least as far as we believe the proxy estimates), but honestly know f#ck-all about what the >100 year variability was like with any certainty (i.e. we know with certainty that we know f#ck-all).

    He’s not talking about what we know in general about climate change. He’s not even talking about what we know about the climates of the past in particular. He’s talking about a very specific aspect of paleoclimatic research- very high resolution proxy reconstructions of millennial Northern Hemisphere extra-tropical temperatures. Which have basically nothing to do with either the attribution of present warming or the impacts of future warming. And he’s doing so back in 2003.

    Do you think that you fairly represented what Cook’s view on climate is? Do you think that if I asked him if you were correctly representing his views he would agree?

    What on Earth makes people think they can get away with this?

  • Anteros

    EdG -
    What you say sounds a little too sensible and pragmatic for the way this conversation has gone, but of course I agree with you. It is a very large range of uncertainty. What that means to people and how it is interpreted varies greatly.

  • Anteros

    tb -
    I think you7′ve missed out all the context here. Tom Wigley, in private was making a great deal of the uncertainty that wasn’t mentioned in public – and notably in contrast to Keith Briffa’s beliefs.
    I characterised this as pertaining to general uncertainties.  To add another example – a flavour of what was going on behind the scenes – I made comparison to a similar expression of uncertainty by saying this A little like Ed Cook’s “The only thing we know for certain is that we know f*ck all”. As you can tell from the way I reported it, I did so because it is very much in the public domain and talked about a great deal. Like ‘hide the decline’.
    I’m sorry you don’t think that a representation of private uncertainty. I think it makes my point quite well.

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    Pathetic.

  • Anteros

    And you couldn’t find an answer to my question? It wasn’t complicated.

  • Steve Fitzpatrick

    Commenting here has been an educational experience.
    I do see (based on the commentary over a couple of threads) that there is not much common ground, technically or ethically, nor much interest in learning.  Those who believe the ‘main stream’ climate science range of ECS of 2.0C to 4.5C per doubling are not interested in (or perhaps capable of) technical engagement, that much is plain.  The beliefs/opinions here seem to me far too strong and far too motivated by political inclinations, and not enough motivated by a desire to understand what is plausible or likely over the next century and more.
    Having spent my whole life working in science and engineering, the political focus of this blog’s comments (such as.. KK is in denial, just like commenters at Watts up with that!?!) makes me feel a bit like a fish out of water.  Too much politics, not enough science.   Too much demand for political purity, not enough appreciation of the uncertainties that always accompany rational analysis of complex technical problems.  I wish you well, but most of you really need to calm down, and remember Cromwell’s plea “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    Anteros, I will answer your question: “How do you characterise the range 1.5-2C?”.

    I characterize it as a made up range consisting of two numbers that a statistics illiterate/innumerate slapped together and starting asking impudent questions about.

    You can’t just take the “very likely” statement about exceeding the 1.5C value and just tack it on to the 2.0 – 4.5 range. This is really quite tedious. It really demonstrates an embarrassingly low facility with math and statistics. I don’t know what else to say.

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

    @117 Anteros:
    I’m sorry you don’t think that a representation of private uncertainty. I think it makes my point quite well.


    Do you think that you fairly represented what Cook’s view on climate is? Do you think that if I asked him if you were correctly representing his views he would agree?

  • Anteros

    I’m not sure the abuse helps, but I think you can say the IPCC has given an indication that the value is higher than 1.5 and lower than 4.5. Fair enough?

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

    @120 Steve Fitzpatrick:
    Those who believe the “˜main stream’ climate science range of ECS of 2.0C to 4.5C per doubling are not interested in (or perhaps capable of) technical engagement, that much is plain.

    This is a curious remark, to me. In what way has a “technical engagement” about climate sensitivities outside of 2-4.5°C been avoided or otherwise unsatisfactorily addressed, from your perspective?

    I wish you well, but most of you really need to calm down, and remember Cromwell’s plea “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

    What would being “mistaken” imply to you, about the way our climate system and/or physics work?

    Thanks.

    Like any comment section, we all have to filter the noise from the signal. If you feel like you have interests or questions that aren’t being addressed, feel free to ask individuals directly or email people.

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

    Anteros:

    If I may-

    I think people are harping on you about the quote mining and incorrect interpretation of the IPCC numbers because it seems to reflect a willingness on your part to put your own opinions into the mouths of others. That you seem to be doing so when others can quickly verify that you’re incorrect is all the more puzzling. It makes people distrust that you can have a conversation either in good faith or intellectual honesty or both. That may be unfair, but please keep that in mind the next time you sprint to attribute to someone words or numbers that don’t really reflect their source’s position.

  • Anteros

    tb -you ask a preposterous question. I didn’t begin to offer a representation of Cook’s ‘view on climate’. It is absurd to even suggest it. I quoted him making a comment about uncertainty. ‘A little like…..’

  • Anteros

    It strikes me you’re all leaping about as if you were defending a religion. But you don’t need to defend Wigley and Cook because I’m applauding their comments. You might find that rarely expressed doubts by the likes of Wigley and Cook merely mirror my own. Which in turn are unlikely to be too far away from yours – if you have an affinity with AR4. Where is the big discrepancy?

  • EdG

    # 125 “the IPCC numbers”

    Well, that’s the beginning of this problem. With all due respect to the objective scientists who may have contributed to this process, I personally do not consider the IPCC to be a credible or objective source in the first place.

    See Keith’s post on ‘Climate Hawks Letting Off Steam’ as one indication of why people like me would have their doubts about that organization, or Patchy’s infamous anti-science attitude encapsulated in his knee-jerk ‘voodoo science’ remark when confronted with the IPCC’s blunder on the Himalayan glacier tale.

    And now, making it that much worse, we have the ‘Delinquent Teenager’ book which details just what the IPCC really is.

    But I suppose IPCC numbers can still be a starting point for discussion. Someday we will know much more about this. 

  • BBD

    Reason doesn’t work.

    But I suppose IPCC numbers can still be a starting point for discussion. Someday we will know much more about this.

  • Sashka

    @ Louise (64)
    I also recognise that this will be a negative impact but that I am not yet certain just how bad this will be (but I do know it will be bad).

    Just how do you know that it will be bad?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith your absence on this thread ever since you came out of the closet with your denialist bombshell is duly noted!

  • EdG

    #129 – Well BBD, what is unreasonable or illogical about what I wrote? I briefly explained the reasons why I don’t take the IPCC as gospel. It appears that you do. Why?

    I suggested that the IPCC numbers are a starting point. I accept the uncertainty in their numbers (to put it mildly). 

    Don’t you also hope and expect that someday we will know more about this, and thus have a greater degree of certainty?

    If not why not?

     

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    I wouldn’t read much into it. I was finishing up the Nature post, then had to run out and do family stuff, like go to my kids’ holiday party at school. You know, life stuff. Just catching up with the thread now, since many comments have appeared in short while. 

  • Vinny Burgoo

    Marlowe, your ubiquity on this thread since you came out of the closet with YOUR denialist bombshell (#49) is baffling. Had I posted anything that stupid, I’ve have stayed off the ‘Net for weeks.

  • BBD

    EdG @ 132

    I don’t take the IPCC as gospel. It appears that you do. Why?

    AR4 WG1 is a review of then-current understanding. This emerged:

    we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.

    Your referenced counter-argument is…?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    And here I was thinking I had finally scored a ‘point’ against you. Should have known you’d use the holidays&kids excuse to duck for cover ;-)

    @134
    I’m part of the reality-based community.  As much as I’d like to pretend everything is going to be hunky dory, that damned logical part of my brain prevents me from accepting that S=3 and our current emissions path (and everything that that entails) are compatible with a rosy outlook. Wishing it doesn’t make it so.  Sort of like belief in a benevolent personal God. Great idea and very comforting, but not terribly supported by evidence.

  • EdG

    # 135 BBD. Like I said earlier, that “then-current understanding” is a good starting point. I look forward to further research and understanding of this issue. Because, as I think we agree, it is THE question re AGW.

  • BBD

    EdG

    So the studies that have convinced you that CS is low (1C- 2C) are…?

    Or is the IPCC about right to summarise:

    we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.

  • Anteros

    Sashka @130
    Maybe because, allegedly, the ‘science has spoken’?

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    As you’ve already made up your Romm-like box for me, I’m not sure why I’m bothering, but let me try and put some perspective on where I’m coming from.

    Most days, the biggest thing I worry about is making sure a bicyclist doesn’t run over my kids while walking them to school in the morning. Then, later in the day, I try not get too annoyed when they fight over who has the biggest french fry or who can put their pajamas on faster. If I don’t fall asleep with them, I’ll try to catch up on the sports, work on some unfinished deadline, or have an adult conversation with my wife.

    Imminent climate doom doesn’t keep me awake at night.

    What keeps me up: How yet another another close relative of mine in her advanced years had to suffer the indignity of losing all her humanity and end up a near vegetable before dying and not wanting that to happen to me.

    Now my oldest is tugging at me to go read with him before bedtime. So I’m going to sign off for the night and we can start this all up again tomorrow… 

  • Steve Schuman

    Keith, first let me say I’ve grown to really enjoy your blog and though we are on opposite sides of the climate change issue, I don’t see you as an ideologue.  I am also sceptical of my scepticism, so I don’t pretend to know the future.  Now, I’m going to be a genie and grant your one wish and that is everyone now believes climate change is a grave threat to our existence, and we will reduce our CO2 output by 100% by 2030.  Well, that’s the easy part.  As a parallel, both Republicans and Democrats believe we are headed for a fiscal crisis but despite endles conferences and a super committe, we’re at a stalemate.  I submit the fiscal crisis would seem like a walk in the park relative to working out the details of reducing our carbon footprint as described above.  So be careful what you wish for.

  • EdG

    #138 BBD

    I don’t have a clue what the real sensitivity of the whole global climate system is to CO2 concentrations. 

    What I do know is why I don’t consider the IPCC a credible source for any conclusions about this or much else. In this case the IPCC has adequately recognized the uncertainty of their numbers. So it appears that I am not alone in seeing them as a starting point for a more rigorous look at this question.

    Another thing which I also understand is that it must be more complicated than some imagine. No surprise given the complexity of the whole global climate system (including the whole biosphere, variable external inputs, etc.). That appears to be clearly demonstrated by the gaping differences between the models and reality.

  • Sashka

    @ 80

    This is complete nonsense. Admittedly it’s bought into, including by the likes of Curry, Watts, and McIntyre. The press seems to buy it too, as does the public. It is entirely irrational, though.

    You need to develop a bit of self-awareness.

    Those who believe that science is not very capable of constraining the sensitivity need to balance the possible overestimate of sensitivity against a comparable underestimate. In that case, the risks become existential very quickly and the urgency of the response becomes even higher.

    I don’t believe the existential part. That’s just scaremongering.

    Thus risk weighting means the uncertainty at the high end is where the problem lies, and the greater the uncertainty, the greater the risk.

    This “argument” conveniently ignores the probability weighting. Thus it proves nothing and refutes nothing.

    climate science, unlike its opposition, is not a political movement.

    I fear that you actually believe this. This is not healthy.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith why bother indeed.

    I find it interesting that whenever someone challenges your point of view with a remotely coherent argument you resort to ‘playing the man rather than the ball’ type arguments.  I agree with Romm on some things and disagree with him on others.  Get over it. Just because I think you’re being illogical doesn’t mean that I think you’re an evil person OK? I just happen to think you are woefully wrong if [I still wonder if perhaps we've misunderstood each other] you think that you can believe in the basics of WG I and in the same breath pretend that the conclusions of WG II are a toss-up between no problem and problem.  But hey if you think I’m being ridiculous when I say that this position is simply a milder variant of climate denialism why don’t you ask a climate scientist what they think?   Bart V comes to mind.

    What you describe in terms of your day to day concerns superceding any climate-related concerns you may have is perfectly understandable and I’m no different.  Like you I have young children and what little free time I have is spent with them or on finding creative ways to get in a little Skyrim when the opportunity arises :) . But lets be clear.  What you’re describing is fundamentally a coping mechanism, not an argument about why one shouldn’t be concerned about climate change.  Surely you see the difference.  Now do mitigation advocates need to take these sorts of defense mechanisms into account when formulating public awareness campaings, building coalitions, etc.? Of course! As you say, fear doesn’t sell particularly well.  But then neither does should lies or half truths. Oh wait. Hmmmm.  Gonna have to get back to you on that.  Do the ends justify the means?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    p.s. the strikethrough button doesn’t seem to work. 

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    I said:

    climate science, unlike its opposition, is not a political movement.
    Sashka challenged:
    I fear that you actually believe this. This is not healthy.
    ===
    Yes, I believe it. Your idea that it is unhealthy does not dissuade me.

    I know people who actually do climate science. They have no common political agenda. The vast majority of them believe some climate policy is overdue, but that is because they understand the evidence. There is no particular agreement on how that policy should look or how it should be implemented, and no organized effort to advance such a policy that is connected to climate science as a discipline.

    There is a concerted effort by the scientific community to increase public understanding, which seems clearly to be part of their responsibility, especially given the active efforts to confuse people. Efforts beyond that goal amount to climate scientists speaking on their own behalf.

    Consider the AGU statement as exemplary.

    It begins with a statement of fact:

    “The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system””including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons””are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century.”

    It concludes with the obligations of the relevant scientific community:

    “With climate change, … Members of the AGU, as part of the scientific community, collectively have special responsibilities: to pursue research needed to understand it; to educate the public on the causes, risks, and hazards; and to communicate clearly and objectively with those who can implement policies to shape future climate.”

    That’s pretty much the way it is on both counts. Neither statement is political. The first is factual and the latter is an expression of the ordinary scientific ethic applied to extraordinary circumstances.

    These are a statement of fact and a principled commitment to neutrality and objectivity. Opposition to those statements is political in nature.
     

  • http://planet3.org Michael Tobis

    me:

    Those who believe that science is not very capable of constraining the sensitivity need to balance the possible overestimate of sensitivity against a comparable underestimate. In that case, the risks become existential very quickly and the urgency of the response becomes even higher.

    Sashka:
    I don’t believe the existential part. That’s just scaremongering.

    I don’t think it’s an existential threat by itself, though it may well exacerbate others. However, I believe that the sensitivity is reasonably well-constrained and the science is reasonably mature and capable.

    Those who do not believe this about the science have no basis for any confidence that the sensitivity is well-constrained and thus that the issue is not existential.

    You are the one who is scaremongering. At least, you are using an argument that would be more useful in a scaremongering context. As an argument for delaying policy it makes no sense.

    You’re far from alone in this mistake, but it’s a fairly ordinary and not especially subtle one. I wonder whether argument could make it go away, if the press were willing to examine it. I wonder why they are not.
     

  • Sashka

    When I say that I don’t believe that the threat is existential I express my doubt in the human adaptability. This is orthogonal to my views on climate science.

    You are the one who is scaremongering.

    I’ll let this hang on its own merits.

  • Sashka

    Sorry, too late in the day. Let me try that again.

    When I say that I don’t believe that the threat is existential I express my faith in the human adaptability.

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

    So, all we have to do is complain about being ignored to get a response?

    Does that work? If so..

  • Vinny Burgoo

    KK: If you’re that worried, why do you let the bicyclist walk your kids to school?

  • andrew adams

    EdG,
    Ultimately the 2-4.5C range for climate sensitivity isn’t the IPCC’s estimate, it’s the outcome of a number of independent studies based on differing lines of inquiry. You don’t have to wait for further research, why not look into the underlying papers to see how they came up with their estimates?

    Anteros,

    Yes, 2-4.5C is a fairly wide range of undertainty, although there seems to be increasing confidence that the true figure is around 3C. So what conclusions do you draw from that? I mean 2C is hardly trivial and that’s the best case scenario. I don’t see how one could argue that more uncertainty equals less reason to worry in this context – as serious as 2-4.5C might be I would be far more worried if the range was, say, 1-10C as Judith Curry absurdly suggests.   

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe, TB,

    You guys are too much. I don’t know any other journalist who writes on this topic who engages more with readers. But somehow it’s never enough or to your satisfaction. 

  • Anteros

    andrew adams -
    I’d add that the IPCC don’t just say the value lies between 2 and 4.5, they say it’s likely. Thus theyi also say it could lie outside those values and give an estimate of the chance being up to 33%..
    I fully accept that consensus estimates home in on 3 degrees, which makes it a little odd that the range is so large and the probability so small.
    I’m not sure I agree with you that the exact number is perfectly correlated with the degree of appropriate ‘worry’. To do that you already have to have the conviction that a higher temperature is a bad thing. I think the last 6 degrees of temperature rise have been rather beneficial for life, so I’m a little ambivalent about the alleged next two.
    My scepticism is about ‘catastrophe’. If the 0.15C per decade rise of the last 30-35 years continues, I do not foresee catastrophe or anything like it. The IPCC has been predicting ‘increases’ in the rise for more than 20 years and has been wrong. With the uncertainties in the models so great, I’m comfortable sticking with real-world observations, bearing in mind that somebody saying ‘we’re heading for a disaster’ is eminently consistent with everything being fine – it is the usual state of affairs. Foreseeing doom is an incredibly prevalent human trait – it always needs double doses of scepticism. And of course the worriers are always very convinced by the signs – that too is consistent with life proceeding as it ever did.

    Your point about the IPCC not making its own estimates is well worth making. I think it is fair for people to dispute whether their summary of the current science is accurate – many do – but that is certainly their brief. And yes, it makes a difference.
    I don’t know what to make of Judy Curry’s thoughts on uncertainty – they sometimes baffle me too. I would just mention that Michael Mann makes the point that ‘Modern instrumantal observations could be consistent with a climate sensitivity anywhere from 1.5-9 degreesC‘ I think there is something slightly disingenuous about this but I bring it up because he suggests that climate change at the lower end could be ‘essentially negligible‘. If you want to stick to a 2C CS as  ‘best case’ – wouldn’t that be akin to something essentially negligible? Spread over at least a hundred years?

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

    Anteros,

    It may be true that the last 6C of temperature rise were beneficial for life, but then that was starting from an ice age. If you want to see how warmer doesn’t necessarily mean better you only have to look at Texas this year, Russia last year or Europe a few years ago.

    Personally I’m quite happy to consider real world observations – the sea ice keeps disappearing, the ice sheets keep melting, glaciers keep retreating – there are any number of signs of a warming planet. But we also have to try to understand where this is leading us, and you seem far too quick to dismiss any such efforts out of hand.
     
    I have a problem with the notion, which seems quite popular in “skeptical” circles, that the fact that people are predicting disaster is in itself some kind of proof that we are not. Yes, there are always cranks who will tell us the end of the world is nigh, but it’s fairly easy to distiguish between them and people making serious claims backed up by science. Sometimes the latter do get it wrong, but certainly not always. Were they exaggerating when they warned us of the dangers of AIDS or smoking tobacco or asbestos or lead in petrol or the ozone layer? Nor are humans exacly incapable of manufacturing huge problems of their own accord – two world wars, the recent economic crisis (and past crises), countless millions dead at the hands of despots and tyrants. Sometimes when peopl tell us we should be worried they are right.

    Finall, as for Mann’s comment, I don’t know the context but ISTM he is commenting on the limitations in using moders instrumental measurements to derive climate sensitivty, not the level of CS itself.               

  • Anteros

    andrew adams -
    I’m not at all dismissive of efforts to understand where climate change might lead us, far from it. I suppose I ‘hear’ the debate in a different way from you – I hear the slightest ‘projection’ of something negative preying on the imagination of credulous people and us being subjected to a headline-dominated doom scenario. I do understand the frustration at the dismissal of concern – especially if it seems motivated by obvious denial or politics or whatever. There are two sides to that coin – some people dismiss any ‘scepticism’ as ignorance or prejudice in just the same way.
    As I say, I’m yet to be convinced of a looming disaster. I don’t have overt political biases, but it does strike me that people are fundamentally not vulnerable to climate change but to climate. That is very highly correlated with poverty. Given the choice between the avoidance of a degree of warming and a trebling of prosperity – and therefore climate adaptability, I think most people would take the money [and infrastructure, and medicine etc].

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Keith,

    In this thread at least I find your ‘engagement’ somewhat lacking, sorry. Call me crazy for asking sensible follow up questions. If I didn’t know better, I might suggest that you don’t appear interested in genuine dialogue.

    @TB
    Keep your complaining to yourself sir.  I was merely ‘noting’ Keith’s absence.  Nothing more, nothing less ;-)  

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

    @153 Keith Kloor:
    You guys are too much. I don’t know any other journalist who writes on this topic who engages more with readers. But somehow it’s never enough or to your satisfaction.

    Keith- Please don’t get me wrong. I normally find you very responsive and understand that you have non-blog concerns that take precedent. No complaints from me on that score generally. I would rate my satisfaction at people getting responses from you above average at minimum.

    I was just really hoping to see a direct response to the one question I had. I know that you said you didn’t think it was a valid question, but to me at least, what followed didn’t seem to really speak to that at all. From my perspective, if someone believes (as you apparently do, and I fully realize that I might not be capturing your position 100% correctly, so forgive me) that the deficit model isn’t supported by science in terms of increasing public support for climate action, then you should have a pretty clear opinion about what I asked.

    Do you think that people’s perception of whether or not the science is “divided”, “unsettled”, etc. has any bearing on their willingness to support action on climate?

    Thanks.

  • grypo

    The interesting story that has emerged from this thread, to me, is a question.  What, if any, is the difference between 1) denying that CO2 has a significant effect on the atmosphere and therefore the energy balance, and 2) understanding the imbalance, but denying any real effect, and 3) understanding the imbalance, understanding there will be an effect, but denying the risk equation favors waiting on any major policy decisions.

    From a scientific perspective, there are worlds of differences.  From a policy perspective, there are differences, but they are less noticeable. 

    But then again, this debate is about how we assess risk, and for those in category 3), it appears that risk is also subject to denial. 

  • grypo

    Sorry, that 3) should read “understanding the imbalance, understanding there will be an effect, but believing the risk equation favors waiting on any major policy decisions.

  • Anteros

    grypo -
    I wonder if you’re truly serious about this. Your contention seems to be that a person in possession of all the facts, but who comes to a different conclusion to yourself is suffering from denial. You also conveniently forget to mention that policy decisions have an opportunity cost. If you want to spend a few trillion dollars on something, you clearly can’t spend them on something else as well. Cakes and eating them etc.
    I think there is an extremely good case to be made for money spent on mitigating climate change to be money squandered. Whether that is your view or not, it seems something of a totalitarian attitude to consider that position as necessarily being the result of denial.

  • grypo

    “I think there is an extremely good case to be made for money spent on mitigating climate change to be money squandered. Whether that is your view or not, it seems something of a totalitarian attitude to consider that position as necessarily being the result of denial.”

    People who are in possession of all the facts, realize the amount of risk involved.  Those who are in possession of all the facts and see no need for mitigation are in denial of those risks.  That’s fairly simple to me.  As for your economic questions, they are valid, but if, again, your answer is ‘no mitigation’, I have to ask “Who’s being the ‘alarmist’?!?

  • Anteros

    grypo -
    I’m not sure I understand your last point. Am I being alarmist by suggesting there are more pressing uses for the few trillion that you’d like to spend on mitigation?
    Well, 9 million children a year, 25,000 every day die from eminently preventable causes. It is a question of priorities, and I’ve never been convinced that efforts – realistic or otherwise – to ameliorate future windiness or raininess quite match the priority of those whose lives could be transformed with the same money.
    Incidentally, if people are vulnerable to climate rather than climate change there’s another good reason to promote an increase in prosperity. It’s a no regrets strategy also.
    It makes more sense to me to talk of the denial of today’s realities than the ‘denial’ of some risk about some imagined future for people who don’t yet exist.

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

    @163 Anteros:
    Well, 9 million children a year, 25,000 every day die from eminently preventable causes. It is a question of priorities, and I’ve never been convinced that efforts ““ realistic or otherwise ““ to ameliorate future windiness or raininess quite match the priority of those whose lives could be transformed with the same money.

    Perhaps you’re not aware that mitigation proposals contain a great deal of support for concerns such as these, through increasing education and reproductive health care to women, leapfrogging developing nations to clean energy, etc. Additionally, the least developed nations are going to be the hardest hit by unmitigated climate change.

    It’s perfectly fine to disagree about policy choices. But it’s not fine to pretend that climate mitigation doesn’t have co-benefits that also ameliorate existing problems. 

  • grypo

    I understand that it helps you to make it seem as if I think we should spend all our money on one thing (mitigation), but of course, I do not, and neither does anyone else.  Lots of those problems are due to a misapplication of resources happening right now, and have nothing to do with what we do about emissions.

    Also, the difference between those who ‘exist’ and those who ‘don’t exist yet’ is quite a philosophical dilemma.  But, for myself, I plan on living to 2050 or so, and my kids, well who knows, hopefully decades beyond that if we continue reasonably along with academic medical research.  And I imagine they will want to have children too.  The shit isn’t as far off as we like to believe.

  • Anteros

    tb -
    Indeed – many policy choices would seem to overlap, which is as one might expect. All the things you mention, and others, are obvious examples. I certainly wouldn’t be against a policy just because it was aimed at mitigating climate change. I’d ask whether it was the best means of achieving the desired end.
    I suppose sooner or later there will be policy options – bigger investment and subsidies for windmills, say – where I’d rather stick with the most efficient gas turbine, and spend the money on other things. Alternatives to fossil fuels are quite a good example because there are obviously motivations to progress with them irrespective of climate change, so it’s a question of balance.

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

    @166 Anteros:
    I suppose sooner or later there will be policy options ““ bigger investment and subsidies for windmills, say ““ where I’d rather stick with the most efficient gas turbine, and spend the money on other things. Alternatives to fossil fuels are quite a good example because there are obviously motivations to progress with them irrespective of climate change, so it’s a question of balance.

    The problem is that the choices aren’t always between two fairly good options, but right now bad options are being artificially subsidized to look more attractive because their true cost is being paid by the commons rather than reflected in their market prices. So you get coal plants that are “cheap” options for provided power to people, but they’re “cheap” because of the health externalities and the climate externalities are being essentially foisted off onto everyone.

    People are cooking with twigs and dung, which has a lot of health and climate implications. Getting them to cook with gas would be a win, win. But it costs money.

    Where I have a problem is a lot of the people who claim to care about the energy poor in the developing world claim to worry that mitigation will divert funds away from other means of improving their lives, but yet I don’t see these people actively trying to improve their lives in the real world. It’s not like Reason/CATO is going to be pushing the US government to spend money actually helping these people. It’s just a convenient position to take in order to fight pricing carbon.

    (I am not accusing you of this, just to be clear.)

  • Anteros

    tb -
    I agree with you about externalities.
    The thing with the faux concern about poverty bugs me too. I always feel slightly queasy when I mention it. I certainly couldn’t do it if I wasn’t a poorer than average Brit. I feel falsely virtuous because I don’t run a car too, but the problem is deeper than that.
    I can’t see a way around it – I guess you have to take people at face value. Is it the kind of argument the people at Cato make? I thought they were into citizens being responsible for their own damn wealth..

    I’m all for making policy ‘win-win’ only and getting ruthless with getting resources in the right places efficiently. But I guess the people involved have been trying to do that for a couple of generations.

     

  • BBD

    EdG @ 142

    I don’t have a clue what the real sensitivity of the whole global climate system is to CO2 concentrations.

    What I do know is why I don’t consider the IPCC a credible source for any conclusions about this or much else. In this case the IPCC has adequately recognized the uncertainty of their numbers. So it appears that I am not alone in seeing them as a starting point for a more rigorous look at this question.

    Much of the discussion prior to your comment (142) was about understanding the IPCC WG1 statement:

    we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.

    It is unequivocal, but has anyway been exhaustively glossed here because it was being wilfully misinterpreted. You are still doing this.
    You are still claiming great uncertainty in the estimate of climate sensitivity. This is unreasonable.

    Your smearing of IPCC WG1 is unreasonable. Your strange claim that it is ‘a starting point for a more rigorous look at this question’ is unreasonable.

    There is a big problem here. You expect others to be reasonable with you. You expect to be taken seriously. But your arguments are unreasonable and you do not modify your views despite being shown – in detail – where they are mistaken.

    You meet reason with unreason, but become agitated when people object to your behaviour. This too, is unreasonable.

    The problem does not lie with others. Your clear assumption that it does is unreasonable.
    Why is there this massive reason deficit here? Is it perhaps necessary when maintaining an illogical, indefensible position?
    That would be a reasonable explanation.

  • Alexander Harvey

    thingsbreak #167:

    Perhaps you could help me.

    “Where I have a problem is a lot of the people who claim to care about the energy poor in the developing world claim to worry that mitigation will divert funds away from other means of improving their lives, but yet I don’t see these people actively trying to improve their lives in the real world.”


    It is called mitigation if you are going to reduce emissions but is there a name for it if you are going to develop without starting similar emissions? They achieve the same goal.

    As best as I can judge the LDCs have little or no coal but need to develop and are home to much or most of the expected population increase by 2100.

    I may be on firmer ground if I stick to Africa, where the coal, <10% of known reserves, is under SA or Zimbabwe. Of the handful of nuclear reactors there was only one power station complex and that is in SA. There are some opportunities for hydro but they can be  difficult to drive through either politically difficult (shared resource) or have security issues (DRC etc). Tidal is not much use if you are land-locked, much of the continent lacks a decent prevailing wind and that leaves biofuel, solar and/or a need for nukes. These are technologies that they would need to buy in.

    I find it difficult to imagine that there couldn’t be a tie-in between development aid and selling stuff. That’s the way it always seemed to work.

    Everyone thinks of about China, and correctly so but part of the project is to see development notably in Afica and South Central Asia without burning carbon.

    My guess is that someone is going to sell these countries the stuff they need providing it can be financed and I guess that there will be no-carbon strings attached to any climate funding.

    There is something I don’t understand and that is why there doesn’t seem to be a large and vocal solar/nuclear lobby in the US based on the simple notion that climate funding could recycle through the US domestic solar/nuclear industries.

    If it is runs true to form, the climate funding will be partly a rebranding of older funding, but the strings will be different (I don’t know this, I am just cynical). If the aim is to develop infrastructure then that is a market and who is positioning themselves for it?

    I can only believe that the US is or would wish to, or is it to be China, India, etc.?

    Some of the world isn’t going to be able to go down the carbon route, it has neither got the carbon nor the foreign exchange. Isn’t that a non-carbon power market?

    I am increasingly finding “think tank” America to be a very odd and self-denying place.

    Ho Hum

    Alex

  • Keith Kloor

    Been out for the day, so just catching up to this thread and some sweetness thrown my way from Tim Lambert at Deltoid, via twitter and his blog

    Guilt by association is one of the favorite tactics of climate partisans. Lambert rarely disappoints on that score.  

  • Anteros

    Remember KK, you now need to elicit some slime-filled abuse from the sceptics of the blogosphere and you’ll know you’re doing your job well. It can’t be fun, but it serves as a signpost so we know where everyone is in the ‘debate’.
    Another thought – how many blogs genuinely attract readers from both ends of the spectrum?
    Right. Enough fawning. I reckon Mary is getting gang-ridiculed on the other thread. Perhaps you can do some balancing

  • Keith Kloor

    Anteros,

    Tim has been sweet on me for some time now. So have a few others, who every so often feel obliged to do a little sliming.

  • Anteros

    @173 -
    I had no idea people in your world were so unpleasant.. I quite liked the accusation of ‘fostering inactivism‘ from Anna Haynes – surely that’s some kind of capital offense?

  • Keith Kloor

    That’s just the mild stuff. And just to make clear: Anthony Watts, Jeff ID and others cut from that cloth have little love for me, either. Oh, well. I never will be a crowd pleaser, I suppose.

  • EdG

    # 169

    BBD. Really?

    You quote the IPCC stating that EQS “”is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.”
    Then you state that this “is unequivocal” and moan because I am “still claiming great uncertainty in the estimate of climate sensitivity. This is unreasonable.”

    Did you actually read what that IPCC quote says? Isn’t that enough uncertainty for you already? 

    You claim that my suggestion that this is ‘a starting point for a more rigorous look at this question’ is unreasonable.

    Then what should the starting point be?

    You go on… “You expect others to be reasonable with you. You expect to be taken seriously. But your arguments are unreasonable and you do not modify your views despite being shown ““ in detail ““ where they are mistaken.”

    I don’t expect that but I certainly appreciate it when it happens. Reactions to my posts or your posts, or lack of them, will vary with the posts and with different readers. How “seriously” anyone takes them will vary. That should  ultimately depend on their content but life is not so simple.

    You have yet to present any convincing evidence or rational argument on why I am “mistaken” except pasting that IPCC quote which doesn’t support your ‘certainty’ point at all.  Just the opposite.

    And here’s the most absurd part. I clearly stated that “I don’t have a clue what the real sensitivity of the whole global climate system is to CO2 concentrations.

    How can I be mistaken about that? Are you suggesting that I do know the answer to this question? Sorry, but I do not. Nobody does.

    Moreover, you seem to suggest that this recognition of the limits of my and our collective knowledge is “an illogical, indefensible position.” Wow. Do you know what ‘scientific hubris’ is?

    You go on… “You meet reason with unreason, but become agitated when people object to your behaviour. This too, is unreasonable.
    The problem does not lie with others. Your clear assumption that it does is unreasonable.”

    Who’s agitated here? Who is railing at others here? And while others have certainly objected to some of my posts who, besides you, is ‘objecting to my behavior’ here? Behavior? 

    Read your own posts BBD. Look in the mirror. And look at the title of this blog. Try to imagine a conversation, in person, that will actually convince someone of your position, if that’s what you are attempting to do here. Maybe you can practice over the holidays when everybody should be in a good mood.

  • EdG

    #175 Keith, this is what happens when you shift towards the middle, and reveals why few people have the courage to do so.

    Think of Judith Curry.

    As Bush Jr put this whole simplistic black-white mentality. ‘You’re either with us or against us.’

    The more you get dumped on by both sides, the closer to the middle you actually are. I wish this mentality was just confined to the AGW discussion but, as evident in US politics at the moment, it is not. Polarization and division seems to be the norm now.

  • EdG

    And Keith, if it makes you or your critics feel better, your blog is still listed on WUWT as a “ProAGW” site. Not one of those evil “LukeWarmers” or worse!

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

    It’s easy to focus on people who seem to be picking you. It’s more difficult, apparently, to answer relevant questions.

    @ Anteros.

    I have to run, but I enjoyed our discussion.

    @ Alexander Harvey, I will try to come back later.

  • Anteros

    EdG -
    I have a suspicion that polarisation has always been the norm. It’s just the way we are.
    I remember thinking when I first read Mike Hulme’s book “Why we disagree about Climate Change” – “It’s because we are dichotomous creatures! That’s what we do!
    I thought of Jonathan Swift’s Big-endians and Little-endians – that’s how we carve up reality, into good/bad, hot/cold, poisonous/safe. I think it takes quite a lot of energy to say ‘Hm, maybe, and maybe not’ especially when both the Big-endians and the Little-endians see you as even lower than the clear-cut safely defined enemy. Somehow you’re more threatening – maybe because you hint that uncomfortable uncertainty is close at hand?
     

  • Keith Kloor

    EdG,

    Because the extremes dominate the debate, I often get characterized as being in the middle. But this just as often gets labeled as being mushy. And truth be told, I don’t see myself as being in this so-called middle. I like to think that my positions are just not black and white. For example, I’m an atheist, but I’m not a Dawkins/Coyne style atheist. I’m not hostile to religion.  

    With climate change, and related to this thread, apparently I’m the equivalent of a “denier” (and Monckton!) because I won’t say whether x, y, and z impacts will happen by 2050 or 2100 if we hit 500, 600, or 750ppm.

     

  • Keith Kloor

    @179
    It’s easy to ignore the bile and slime that comes from one’s own tribe.

  • EdG

    # 180 Anteros

    “I have a suspicion that polarisation has always been the norm. It’s just the way we are.”

    Agree 100%. It is part of our primate group think mechanism which strengthens internal social cohesion by focusing on external threats. Makes perfect sense in evolutionary and group (‘tribal’)competitive terms and was and still is the basis of ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ and all that.

    But, exploiting that basic primate tendency, now we have polarization on all sorts of levels to a greater degree than previously, and there appear to be many reasons for that.

    I posted this quote once before and its source is an old (1956) book which I recently discovered which seems to have been rather perceptive to say the least:

    “The creation of a pseudo-world by the mass media is made possible by the structure of the society which enables people to choose only that which is of the same opinion as they are. The remote possibility of debate and discussion, let alone action, disappears as the experience of the public turns into that of the mass: narrower and limited to their routine and structural (out-of-their-own-control) environment from which they cannot escape.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_Elite

    Orwell’s 1984 tells the same basic story.

  • http://rustneversleeps.wordpress.com rustneversleeps

    Nice to see the word “slime” back in vogue on this blog. Somebody used to use it all the time, and in their absence, it’s nice to see others  giving it a little air.

  • EdG

    #181 – Keith. I definitely do get your point. Another word for the ‘middle’ in this context is ‘gray.’ In my mind that simply recognizes the real complexity of the world, Unfortunately too much has been reduced to simplistic slogans or labels or causes built on black or white thinking and faux certainty, and that is where we are.

    So there you are. You don’t see yourself in the ‘middle’ (to use another oversimplistic concept) while WUWT identifies your site as ‘ProAGW’ and that site you just linked to suggests you are a Koch head or something like that.

    Where’s Monty Python when we need them?

    “stoned for saying jehovah (life of brian)”

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

  • Keith Kloor

    @184
    It always amuses me when slimy tactics are conveniently overlooked/rationalized by tribal members.  

  • huxley

    Roberts, in his post, refers to how American conservatives, over the last few decades, have moved narrow, minority held views (such as supply side economics) into the Republican mainstream. He points out that they’ve achieved this with relentless organization and advocacy. But he fails to mention the cultural values underlying these attitudinal shifts of the Republican party, and how these values have been powerfully framed (subsequently catching on as motivating force) and successfully wedded to policy positions.

    This is the “What’s the Trouble with Kansas” approach of dismissing the shifts of Americans to the right. Those Americans couldn’t be acting in the interests of their own intelligence and values. No, they must be the victims of “relentless organization and advocacy” and powerful framing — by the likes of Karl Rove, Fox News, and the Koch Brothers, no doubt.

    Or so goes the conspiracy thinking of liberals. 

    From the right it looks different. After decades of the grand liberal project of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” as Obama once declared, by moving the US farther and farther to the left, millions of Americans became uneasy with the changes, looked for representation of their concerns in the media, found almost none as media had moved to the left, and instead found representation in conservative talk radio and the like.

    Liberals and the climate orthodox imagine that they just have to find their own formula for relentless advocacy and framing to bring these gullible red Americans back into the fold. But, somehow despite their superior intelligence and possession of the moral high ground, liberals and orthodox can’t manage it. Thus, the endless thrashing for the formula, as in this topic.

    I suggest approaching Red America with respect. The gulf between Red and Blue is real. Believing that Red Americans have been fooled into liberalism — including climate change — comes across as dumb and condescending.

  • huxley

    Believing that Red Americans have been fooled into rejecting iberalism “” including climate change “” comes across as dumb and condescending.

  • BBD

    EdG @ 176

    Did you actually read what that IPCC quote says? Isn’t that enough uncertainty for you already?

    IPCC WG1:

    we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C.

  • BBD

    Sorry. Missed this:

    EdG:

    I don’t have a clue what the real sensitivity of the whole global climate system is to CO2 concentrations.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    “With climate change, and related to this thread, apparently I’m the equivalent of a “denier” (and Monckton!) because I won’t say whether x, y, and z impacts will happen by 2050 or 2100 if we hit 500, 600, or 750ppm.”

    Give me a f%cking break Keith.  That isn’t even close to what I said.  It’s pretty clear to me now that you’re simply not interested in dialogue.  So be it.  In the future any posts that I make here will be for the benefit of lurkers and other commenters rather than you.

    Oh as I’ve said before, people who use the ‘tribal’ accusation risk the same hypocritical trap as those who use the word verbose.  In your particular case, more often than not it is a disingenuous debating tactic you use to avoid providing a substantive response to people who criticize a position you hold. 

    As I said my views on climate denialism aren’t particularly complicated.  If you  reject the core conclusions of WG II you’re just as much a denier as you are if you reject the core WG I conclusions.  

  • Marcel Kincaid

    [cribbed from Deltoid]
    I categorize myself as somebody who recognizes that smoking will have an effect on the balance of carcinogens coming into and leaving the human body.
    I do not have a confirmed view as to exactly what the impact of the cigarette smoke will have (cancer etc being uncertain) but I know that it must have an effect – that’s biology.
    [uncrib]

    A more detailed statement would require my actually knowing something about the evidence, research, and science of tobacco.

    I doubt you would classify as a denialist camouflagued  lukewarmer


    You don’t do yourself any favors by quoting someone who is on a headlong plunge toward the bottom of the barrel of intellectual dishonesty.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    Guilt by association is one of the favorite tactics of climate partisans. Lambert rarely disappoints on that score. 

    Apparently you think that intellectual dishonesty is the path toward better communication about climate science. You invoked Curry for comparison; Lambert invoked Monckton. It has nothing to do with “association”, but rather with where your “thinking on this” sits in a spectrum. Lambert’s point is that even someone as vociferously and well-known a denialist as Monckton could concur with your pathetically weak statement.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    Guilt by association is one of the favorite tactics of climate partisans.


    And nice 1-2 fallacy combo of ad hominem and generalization. Perhaps you could share with us more of your favorite tactics.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    It always amuses me when slimy tactics are conveniently overlooked/rationalized by tribal members. 

    Where is your criticism of the slimy tactics of Anteros et. al.?

    With climate change, and related to this thread, apparently I’m the equivalent of a “denier” (and Monckton!) because I won’t say whether x, y, and z impacts will happen by 2050 or 2100 if we hit 500, 600, or 750ppm.


    You offered what you characterized as a concise expression of your thinking that said so little that even Monckton could agree. That is nothing like equating you to Monckton; rather, it refers to what an intellectual coward you are.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    thingsbreak:

    It’s easy to focus on people who seem to be picking you. It’s more difficult, apparently, to answer relevant questions.

    KK responds:
    It’s easy to ignore the bile and slime that comes from one’s own tribe.

    Here we see the slimy tactic of hypocritical non sequitur tu quoque attack the messenger further diversion and avoidance.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    Finally, Keith flat-out lies when he says that Lambert equated him to or associated him with Monckton. Rather, Lambert explicitly associated him with The View from Nowhere (http://pressthink.org/2010/11/the-view-from-nowhere-questions-and-answers/).

    If Keith wants to complain, he should complain about that, rather than intentionally misreading Lambert as equating him with Monckton when what he was clearly saying was that Keith’s statement is so weak and devoid of content that it encompasses even Monckton’s view.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    You don’t do yourself any favors by quoting someone who is on a headlong plunge toward the bottom of the barrel of intellectual dishonesty.

    Oops, my mistake, I thought Keith was quoting Judith Curry.
    But Tim Lambert’s point is made by Anteros who writes
    This is extremely reasonable and the position of every reasonable sceptic I know.

  • Anteros

    Marcel Kincaid -
    Do you think it is intellectual cowardice to say ‘I don’t know’? It strikes me that given the kind abuse that arises in response to that statement, the reverse is true.
    When I commented that – “This is extremely reasonable and the position of every reasonable sceptic I know.” - was I being slimy? I thought I was commending someone on being brave enough to delineate that small area where we can be reasonably certain. It doesn’t qualify anybody to serve in the front line of a tribal war, but it has the virtue of being true.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @anteros

    there is a big difference between saying ‘i don’t know’ and ‘i reject the expert consensus’.  ‘i don’t know’ might have been defensible a couple hundred years ago, but it most certainly isn’t in 2011.

  • Anteros

    @200 -
    I think that simply puts ‘experts’ into the position of old-world priests – which might be convenient if people want an end to doubt. Certainty is generally much easier to live with.
    I think it is actually disrespectful – particularly to oneself – to take the consensus of experts as gospel, especially in a science as primitive and immature as climatology. I agree with Feynman about the ignorance of experts, especially those surrounded by an enormous bandwagon.
    I’ll stick with my assertive agnostcism, thanks – ‘I don’t know, and neither do they’

  • Anteros

    @200 -
    It’s worth stressing that I believe it to be very sensible to spend money on energy development and climate. My understanding , however, is that people are generally less vulnerable to climate change than they are to climate. So the win-win strategy is development of all undeveloped regions, because that is the surest way to improve climate adaptability, and the development of renewable energy sources because fossil fuels are finite.
    That, of course, overlaps with the beliefs of most of the climate-concerned. Where it differs, is that the emphasis isn’t on reducing the energy provided by fossil fuels.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Keith responds to my post misrepresenting it, claiming “He’s equated me with Monckton.” Of course, I did no such thing.  I equated his view with The View from Nowhere, because it was so vacuous that there was nothing in it that Monckton would disagree with.  I wrote two sentences.  They were not long sentences and they did not use any difficult words.  Everyone else who commented managed to understand them.  Marcel (#197) thinks his misrepresentation was deliberate — I invite everyone to look at the evidence and form their own conclusions.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tim,
    “Everyone else who commented managed to understand them.”

    You mean, that fever swamp of a thread, where most everyone took your misrepresentation as license to indulge in their inner nasty? Are you serious?  

    But I agree with Tim when he says: “I invite everyone to look at the evidence and form their own conclusions.”

    I refer to a statement made by someone else in another thread–someone known for her pro-AGW views and who regularly does battle with climate skeptics at Judith Curry’s blog–I say that this statement reflects my own view. And somehow this one statement gets used to associate with me Monckton by Lambert and Marlowe to conclude that I am a no better than a denialist.

    The climate blogosphere resembles a funhouse all too often.

     

  • Anteros

    @203/4
    There is something profoundly weird and slightly disturbing that the Big-endians [or the little-endians, I forget which] listen to every climate utterance, and start tearing their hair out if the sentiment expressed doesn’t, at full fever-pitch, declare full certainty about the events of the distant future. A lack of clarity in specifying ‘us’ or ‘them’ is cause for hateful sneering.
    What morons.
    Just maybe, there isn’t a great deal that [a reasonable, non-rabid] human being can say concerning the possible unfolding of the future. Perhaps some more courageous honesty about how little certainty there actually is would be welcome and appropriate.
    The fact that KK agreed with the statement of a hard-core AGW believer, who in a moment of revelation accepted that we can be sure of precious little just adds irony to the sliming.

  • Stu

    205-

     “and start tearing their hair out if the sentiment expressed doesn’t, at full fever-pitch, declare full certainty about the events of the distant future.”

    Uhuh. Uncertainty, as TB often reminds us, may not be our friend. But it’s still uncertainty. 

  • Stu

    Sorry, MT, but perhaps TB as well. (?)

     

  • http://www.climatecentral.org Mike Lemonick

    Keith writes:

    “I should also add:like Jon Foley, I’m not suggesting that the press or anybody stop communicating climate science. All I’m saying is that it’s wishful thinking to think that just doing it better and more often is going to get you where you want to go. ”

    As someone who’s been writing about climate science since my Time cover story in 1987, and who edited Andy Revkin’s first major story on the topic in 1988,  I’m persuaded that this is exactly right.

  • Anteros

    Stu -
    I know what TB means and I have a great deal of sympathy with that view…… but it doesnt, as you say, make the uncertainty go away. or make the opportunity costs evaporate…

  • Lazar

    So the criticism is that the statement ‘is’…
    “so vacuous that there was nothing in it that Monckton would disagree with”
    That is, the statement as interpreted by Tim and Marcel, appears to Tim and Marcel to be “so vacuous”.
    Keith’s statement is…
    “My thinking on this was concisely expressed here, by someone I doubt you would classify as a denialist camouflagued lukewarmer:”
    “Expressed here” references this comment by Louise…
    “I categorise myself as somebody who recognises that additional CO2 in the atmosphere as a result of man’s activities (fossil fuel burning and land use change) will have an effect on the balance of radiation coming into and leaving our atmosphere.
    I do not have a confirmed view as to exactly what the impact of the CO2 will have (feedbacks etc being uncertain) but I know that it must have an effect ““ that’s physics.”
    And “my thinking on this” references “this” comment by Marlowe…
    “There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat (i.e. “˜lukewarmism’).”
    So one plausible guess at Keith’s meaning, is to provide Marlowe with a “distinction” which Keith believes is “meaningful” between those “who don’t believe in climate change” and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat”.
    Keith doesn’t have to adopt the position expressed by Louise. Keith could believe that the “distinction” is “meaningful” whilst believing that climate change provides a substantial threat to human civilization. It would be hard to argue against physics providing a “meaningful” “distinction”. “Meaningful” depends largely on where one sits.
    So Tim is incorrect where he states….
    “Keith Kloor says that this “concisely expressed” his thinking on climate change:”
    “thinking on this” does not equal “thinking on climate change”.
    The content or emptiness of Keith’s comment depends on how it relates to the “this” referenced by Keith and not on whether Monckton does or does not agree with the statement.
    I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support Tim in calling Keith’s comment “so vacuous that there was nothing in it that Monckton would disagree with”, nor Marcel in calling Keith “an intellectual coward”.
    It would be better to ask Keith what he meant, and to show charity in our guesses.
    Jumping to conclusions makes my side look bad.
    It remains to be seen whether Tim will call Louise’ “thinking on climate” “so vacuous that there was nothing in it that Monckton would disagree with” or whether Marcel will call Louise an “intellectual coward”.

    As an aside, I believe that the use of “existential” is inappropriate here.

  • Sashka

    @ andrew adams (155)

    If you want to see how warmer doesn’t necessarily mean better you only have to look at Texas this year, Russia last year or Europe a few years ago.

    While it’s true that warmer doesn’t necessarily mean better I wonder whether you are confusing climate change with extreme weather deliberately or you are genuinely confused?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @210
    Louise clarified her beliefs shortly after @64:

    “Perhaps I should have made it clearer that I also recognise that this will be a negative impact but that I am not yet certain just how bad this will be (but I do know it will be bad).” 

    Keith has had ample opportunity to clarify his own position but has chosen not to, except to say that he has other, more mundane things to worry about (@140).  

    The reason that I keep harping on this, and am disappointed (and frankly puzzled) that Keith has chosen to evade rather substantively engage, is captured by  TB @62:

    “If an experienced writer on climate issues doesn’t have a “confirmed view” of what the balance of evidence on anthropogenic climate change isbeyond the absolutely trivial (increasing GHGs increases the GHE), then we’re properly f*cked, aren’t we?…

    No one is demanding that everyone agree on the all of the particulars down to infinitesimally small precision. But it’s a bit terrifying to think that people who more or less should understand the issue for a living outside of science can’t seem to bring themselves to go beyond acknowledging the reality of the greenhouse effect. (my emphasis)

  • Sashka

    @ 146

    I know people who actually do climate science.

    So do I.

    They have no common political agenda.

    Maybe or maybe not but they are overwhelmingly liberal.

    There is a concerted effort by the scientific community to increase public understanding, which seems clearly to be part of their responsibility, especially given the active efforts to confuse people.

    My reading of the situation is different. Scaremongering is the key word.

    The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming.

    If I needed a better example of pseudo-scientific BS I couldn’t make it up.

    These are a statement of fact and a principled commitment to neutrality and objectivity.

    Exactly where the problem is. When you guys stop selling as “facts” things that are not there will be no opposition.

    Opposition to those statements is political in nature.

    Not necessarily. For some people it’s economical. Others simply prefer truth.

  • Sashka

    @ andrew adams (152)

    2-4.5C is a fairly wide range of undertainty, although there seems to be increasing confidence that the true figure is around 3C.

    No. The confidence is increasing only in some of the hotter minds. I challenge you to find this claim in a peer-reviewed literature.

  • Lazar

    Marlowe,
    “Keith has had ample opportunity to clarify”
    Ok.
    Keith,
    Do you believe that climate change presents a credible risk to life on this planet? If so, what do you believe are the optimal action(s) humanity should take?

    As far as I can see, no one has asked Keith these questions or something similar.
    Tim could have asked these questions before delimiting Keith’s “thinking on climate change”.
    Marcel could have given the chance to demonstrate intellectual bravery before hanging Keith as an “intellectual coward”.
    It is very difficult to guess correctly at others’ meaning.
    It is impossible to read minds.
    But asking questions is very easy.

  • harrywr2


    #212 Marlowe
    But it’s a bit terrifying to think that people who more or less should understand the issue for a living outside of science can’t seem to bring themselves to go beyond acknowledging the reality of the greenhouse effect.
    All other things remaining equal the ‘straight physics’ says the greenhouse effect from  2XCo2 will result in a 1.2C increase in temperature of which 0.8C should have already occurred all other things remaining equal.
    Of course all other things don’t remain equal and to ‘tease out’ how much we need accurate ocean data.
    Unfortunately, the old sailors saying
    Below 40 degrees south there is no law. Below 50 degrees there is no god.
    has resulted in an extremely sparce long term  record of of the southern oceans , as ship captain’s avoided sailing below 40 degrees south.
    Statistical analysis of a sparse dataset will tell you whatever you want to hear.





     

  • BBD

    Sashka @ 214

    No. The confidence [in a ~3C value for climate senstivity] is increasing only in some of the hotter minds. I challenge you to find this claim in a peer-reviewed literature.

    The IPCC WG1 is based on the peer-reviewed literature. This is the overview of what it says:

    Since the TAR, the levels of scientific understanding and confidence in quantitative estimates of equilibrium climate sensitivity have increased substantially. Basing our assessment on a combination of several independent lines of evidence, as summarised in Box 10.2 Figures 1 and 2, including observed climate change and the strength of known feedbacks simulated in GCMs, we conclude that the global mean equilibrium warming for doubling CO2, or “˜equilibrium climate sensitivity’, is likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, with a most likely value of about 3°C. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is very likely larger than 1.5°C.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-5.html#box-10-2

    See also:

    Knutti & Hegerl (2008), Reto Knutti and Gabriele C. Hegerl (2008), The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes, Nature Geoscience, doi:10.1038/ngeo337

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

    Annan & Hargreaves (2006),Annan, J. D., and J. C. Hargreaves (2006), Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity, Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L06704, doi:10.1029/2005GL025259.

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

    Hansen & Sato (2011) Paleoclimate implications for Human-Made Climate Change
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1105/1105.0968.pdf

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @215
    I disagree.  I would also note a subtle distinction between what you’re asking and what I was suggesting.  You’re asking about specific beliefs, whereas I’m asking about beliefs in relation to expert opinion. The context for the discussion was what constitutes denialism.  I suggest that for practical purposes a layperson who rejects WG II conclusions is just as much in denial in as someone who rejects WG I conclusions.  In both cases the denial is a rejection of expert authority, which the lay person, by definition is unqualified to judge.  

    Keith could have easily said he didn’t reject WG II, but then he’d have to walk-back his criticism @56 and try and address the merits of my claim rather than accuse me of Romm-like behaviour (clearly meant as an insult-by-association given his views of Romm).  Like many bloggers/commenters (of all persuasions) he seems incapable of admitting error and so doubles down with evasion and accusations of tribalism.  This incidentally is why I enjoy Michael Tobis’ writing so much.  You get the feeling you having a discussion with someone rather than engaging in a talking-point-by-numbers game with blog-bot.  I think the blogosphere would be much better served if bloggers engaged in the kind of critical introspection exemplified at Michael Levi’s recently.

     

  • BBD

    harrywr2 @ 216

    You are quoting the no-feedbacks estimate for sensitivity to a doubling of CO2. There are feedbacks, and the now well established scientific consensus is that they net positive. So the no-feedbacks estimate is not where you should be starting at all.

    You may find the papers I linked at 217 interesting if you get some time free over the next few weeks. Do also follow the AR4 WG1 link and use the chapter as a handy way into the literature.

  • EdG

    #215 Lazar asks this question, for some reason:

    Keith,
    Do you believe that climate change presents a credible risk to life on this planet? If so, what do you believe are the optimal action(s) humanity should take?

    First, this whole tack reminds me of McCarthy era ‘Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist’ type questions.

    Second, as stated, is a false and unanswerable question. What do you mean by “climate change”? The climate change that naturally happens all the time or the AGW effect on that process?

    Profound difference in terms of the answer.

    Is NATURAL climate change a “credible risk to life on this planet”? It always has been a risk to SOME life forms. That is why it has driven evolution. But again, as asked, utterly meaningless fuzz.

    Is AGW a “credible risk”? To the degree it is happening it would pose some additional risk to SOME species or biomes in SOME places, just like natural change does. But again, as asked, it is so simplistic that it has no answer. What does “credible” mean? The risk that I could be hit by a car tomorrow is credible. But not probable or significant.

    Thus the ‘action’ part of this question is just as meaningless due to its oversimplicity as the first part.

    And one expects somebody to answer this question… apparently to supposedly establish one’s bona fides as a blog host and commentator? And that answer is supposed to mean something about… what?

    Thus I find comments like #212 and #217, and that shrill insistence that Keith or anybody ‘swear allegiance to the cause’ so far off on the black-white tribalistic ideological deep end that it stands as an anti-poster child for the title of this blog. 

    Simplistic questions demanding simplistic slogan answers that supposedly demonstrate ‘party loyalty,’ and anger at those who don’t share your beliefs, is not going to help anyone anymore in this ’cause.’ We are way past that point. Seems some people are in genuine denial about that.
      

  • BBD

    EdG

    All that the ‘convinced’ want is for the ‘unconvinced’ to examine the evidence properly. We argue from rationality, for rationality.

    Some people are in genuine denial about that.

  • EdG

    #126 harrywr2 writes:

    “Statistical analysis of a sparse dataset will tell you whatever you want to hear.”

    Indeed. The less the better for maximum creativity.

    “Despite having no data north of 80N, Hansen has determined that it was very hot there  in November. By fabricating a huge 4-8C anomaly at the North Pole, he is able to keep global temperatures (barely) rising this century, while HadCRUT shows global temperatures falling.”

    http://www.real-science.com/jimmy-works-arctic-magic

    This junk is the problem, no matter how it is communicated.

  • EdG

    BBD

    After having many discussions with you I think what you really mean is that you want people to accept the “evidence” you choose to accept while ignoring anything contrary or different to that.

    Anyone who doesn’t accept the evidence that you choose to is irrational.

    I don’t find that rational or even reasonable.

    I do not consider models to be evidence in the first place, even when they are from objective sources. Their results are merely variously informed speculation which need to be confirmed by real evidence.

    Your constant quoting of that IPCC report on your favorite topic reminds me of fundamentalist Christians who like to literally quote the Bible as’ what Jesus said’ etc.

    I don’t accept your Bible BBD. Simple as that. Just too many rational reasons for me not to.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    That is, the statement as interpreted by Tim and Marcel, appears to Tim and Marcel to be “so vacuous”.


    Indeed Tim interpreted that way. As I said, Keith can complain about that interpretation. But instead, Keith lies, repeatedly, asserting falsely that Tim equated him with Monckton. And when Tim posts here, expressly stating what he meant, Keith dishonestly attacks the people who understood what Tim meant — fever swamp or not, indulging their nasty or not, that’s what they did; Keith’s low opinion of them doesn’t change the fact that that managed (as do you) to understand what Tim was saying (rightly or wrongly) while Keith manages not to except I don’t believe that for a moment; I do not believe that Keith is that stupid, but he does have such contempt for the intelligence of his readers that he expects them to buy it. Again, rightly or wrongly, Tim equated Keith’s view with “The View from Nowhere”, not with Monckton. You know that, I know that, all intelligent, honest people, as well as many others, know that.

  • Marcel Kincaid

    It would be better to ask Keith what he meant, and to show charity in our guesses.


    Tell me, Lazar, will you advise Keith of the same? He continues to make false claims as to what Tim meant even after Tim expressly said what he meant. What do you have to say about that? Or about Keith’s statements about tribalism, while he refuses to criticize the nonsense of people like Anteros, and you refuse to criticize Keith’s patently bad behavior? Perhaps Tim is being uncharitable to Keith, but how long do we have to wait for Keith to make a more definite statement, one that reflects the current state of climate science, before we conclude that Tim was right, and that I am right that he is an intellectual coward (which is not based just on this matter)?

  • Lazar

    Marlowe,
    “I disagree. I would also note a subtle distinction between what you’re asking and what I was suggesting [...] I’m asking about beliefs in relation to expert opinion [...] what constitutes denialism”
    I’m unsure what it is that you are disagreeing with?
    My question is posed in relation to
    “Tim could have asked these questions before delimiting Keith’s “thinking on climate change”.

    Marcel could have given the chance to demonstrate intellectual bravery before hanging Keith as an “intellectual coward””
    Tim and Marcel think they can circumscribe Keith’s “thinking on climate change” with that one quote. Tim and Marcel think they do not need to ask further questions. I think that is incorrect.

    “Keith could have easily said he didn’t reject WG II, but then he’d have to walk-back his criticism @56″
    I think that reject/do not reject WGII is not dispositive of anything said in @56.
    “and address the merits of my claim”
    Your claim was that there is no meaningful distinction.
    Keith provided a distinction which he thought was meaningful.
    You disagreed.
    Who gets to decide what is meaningful?
    I think this is an unfruitful approach…

  • Lazar

    Marlowe,
    “I enjoy Michael Tobis’ writing”
    I do too!
    Michael was also wary of endorsing WGII…
    ” I think WG I has performed admirably if not impeccably. I am far less convinced about WG II and WG III, wherein it is less clear that a consensus exists”
    “There’s plenty written about the spectrum of impact questions for anyone willing to do their homework, although WG II AR4 is not all that impressive in my opinion.”
    For myself it suffices to know that we are playing with the controls of our life support machine, to know that we must stop.

  • Lazar

    EdG
    “First, this whole tack reminds me of McCarthy era ‘Are you now, or have you ever been, a Communist’ type questions.”
    How very distressing that must be.
    Are you a member of the Communist Party?
    “is a false and unanswerable question”
    I am not at all sure what you mean by that.
    “The climate change that naturally happens all the time or the AGW effect on that process?”
    The answer is obvious from the context.
    “meaningless fuzz”
    I am posing broad questions to give Keith the maximum opportunity to provide the context that *he* thinks is most relevant with regard to the discussion thus far. If Keith objects to the lack of precision, I will modify accordingly. As the questions were not to you, I won’t.
    Thanks!

  • Anteros

    Lazar @227 -
    “For myself it suffices to know that we are playing with the controls of our life support machine, to know that we must stop


    I suspect you have a misunderstanding of what things you ‘know’ and what things you ‘believe’ as a result of some speculating, some mental picturing and a hefty dose of imagination.

  • Anteros

    Marcel Kincaid @ 225 -
    You appear to think something is ‘nonsense’ because you disagree with it. Is it also because you don’t understand it?

  • Lazar

    Marcel,
    “Tell me, Lazar, will you advise Keith of the same?”
    Of course.
    Keith said,
    “apparently I’m the equivalent of a “denier” (and Monckton!)”
    And Tim said,
    “Of course, I did [said] no such thing.  I equated his [Keith's] view with The View from Nowhere, because it was so vacuous that there was nothing in it that Monckton would disagree with”
    So Tim has clarified the matter… should Keith take Tim at his word? Of course.
    Tim could have done better by claiming that James Hansen and Christopher Monckton would find nothing disagreeable with Keith’s statement, at least that would be logically consistent with the claim of vacuity, and less amenable to being interpreted as guilt by association.

  • Lazar

    Anteros,
    Your suspicions are incorrect.

    But thanks for your concern.

  • Anteros

    Lazar -
    How very humble of you.
    It seems that you are God.

  • Lazar

    Anteros,
    “How very humble of you.”
    Nothing is too obvious to bear repetition. I guess you could call that humility.
    “It seems that you are God.”
    Sorry to disappoint.

  • Anteros

    Lazar -
    Only one last step to take -
    Not being God, you don’t know.… you imagine.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Lazar I think they’re a couple of things going on here.

    Keith disagrees with my criteria for climate denialism but never really bothers to say why.  When I call suggest that his reference to Louise’s post fits this criteria he says he has other things to worry about and that he engages with participants on his blog more than any other journalist (which is nice if true, but not particularly relevant).

    2. When challenged to substatiate/clarify his position in light of consternation by some (e.g. me TB, RNS) and damning praise from others, Keith resorts instead to evasion and tribalism charges rather than saying why my criteria for climate denialism is wrong and whether or not he believes that climate change is an existential threat (i.e. that current estimates about sensitivity and our emission trajectory will lead to some significantly bad impacts down the road.

    So there is the issue of substantive disagreement (definition of denialism) and this is topped off with irritating blog behaviour (e.g. misrepresenting other POVs, non-responsive comments, etc.

    ” I think that reject/do not reject WGII is not dispositive of anything said in @56.“and address the merits of my claim”Your claim was that there is no meaningful distinction.Keith provided a distinction which he thought was meaningful. ”

    Now maybe I missed something, but I don’t see him providing any distinction, merely an  opinion that such a definition may not be wise.

    Wrt to people’s opinions of WG2 (MT included), I think you’re taking them slightly out of context, at least insofar as it relates to the current discussion.  Many of the conclusions in WG II are indeed uncertain, but the core conclusion — that bad things are very likely to happen if we keep on our current emission path is not disputed at all within the community of relevant experts.  Don’t confuse the lack of precision with lack of understanding of the basic sign or relative magnitude of expected impacts.

     

  • Marcel Kincaid

    Tim could have done better


    Everyone could do better than what they do. I would think better of you if you were as quick to point out every instance in which KK can do better, rather than provide him with an excuse for his intentional (yes, yes it is) repeated misinterpretation of Tim.
     

  • Lazar

    Marlowe,
    If you will allow me to reformulate what I think you are claiming…
    Climate change presents a credible risk of significantly bad impacts down the road.
    To disagree with the above implies high confidence that impacts will be universally benign. Such confidence is unjustified by the evidence, and so disagreeing with the above would count as an instance of denial.
    Ya, I agree with the above… if that is what you are claiming?
    As agnosticism to the sign of impacts is consistent with a belief in credible risk, Keith’s quote of Louise doesn’t really address the above. I think you have a point there.
    I agree that this would be a good challenge for Keith to address.
    Thanks.

  • Lazar

    Anteros,
    “Not being God, you don’t know.”¦ you imagine.”
    People may believe that they only imagine gravity. They are also free to test that out.
    If it makes you happy, ‘know’ may be interpreted as 99.9999999999999999% confidence. A difference about which, I couldn’t care.

  • Anteros

    Lazar -
    With climate predictions, how many 9′s do you need to define ‘hubris’?

  • Lazar

    Marcel,
    “Everyone could do better than what they do.”
    Indeed.
    “I would think better of you if you were as quick to point out every instance in which KK can do better”
    It is not my job to point out every instance, and I have no desire to do so.
    I’ve followed Keith for long enough to see his thought and writings evolve substantially, guided by certain principles and growing data. That evolution is interesting and exciting.
    It annoys me when people on my side jump on one quote taken out of context, and use it to circumscribe a man’s psychology and entire thought on a subject as complex as climate change, without giving him the courtesy of allowing him to expand further.
    That’s what the denidiots do with the CRU emails.
    That’s not what the side of science, the side of inquiry, of curiosity, of rigor, and of caution, should do.
    That’s not going to attract people to my side.
    It doesn’t fill me with warm fuzzy feelings.
    I am willing to cut Keith considerable slack, given that he was the target of the above.
    “rather than provide him with an excuse”
    How are my statements an “excuse” for “misinterpretation”?
    What does their alleged use or potential for use as an “excuse” have to do with anything?
    “for his intentional (yes, yes it is) repeated misinterpretation”
    You cannot read minds.

  • Lazar

    Anteros,
    “With climate predictions, how many 9″²s do you need to define “˜hubris’?”
    That would depend on the prediction and the evidence. Given that I cannot read minds, I could not possibly answer that question.

  • Lazar

    Marlowe,
    On a tangent regarding globally averaged impacts, a thought experiment I think is interesting…
    A broad pdf centered on zero may provide greater motivation than a tight pdf centered on a negative value? Are you feeling lucky, punk…

  • Lazar

    Not suggesting that averaged impacts or coba are great or even sufficient ways to think about things…

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @238

    That’s close, but for me it’s even simpler than that.  As I’ve said in the past to BBD (pre Damascus conversion ;-) ), in the absence of relevant personal expertise on an issue,  the only rational position is acceptance of whatever the expert consensus happens to be.  This applies to vaccines, evolution, climate change, etc.

    Lukewarmism is a pose not a coherent position informed by science. Robert over at the idiot tracker does a far better job than I ever could describing the problems with the position. Keith’s paraphrase suggests he is ignorant of the consensus opinion on likely impacts  and that the lukewarmer possibility is credible.  I’d be very surprised if he actually held either of the views which is why I would have expected him to clarify. 

    I agree with you that Tim et al’s piling on is pretty excessive and petty, but Keith’s own behaviour on this thread and historical interactions with Tim and other ‘tribal’ ‘partisans’ are at least partly to blame.  People in glass houses and all that.

    p.s. I agree with you that ‘existential’ wasn’t the right term to use in the original formulation upthread.

    p.p.s. thanks for making looking up ‘dispositive’ ;-)

  • Jarmo

    Bishop Hill has an interesting post about a paper by Mike Hulme called “Reducing the Future to Climate: a Story of Climate Determinism and Reductionism“. 

    In this new mood of climate-driven destiny the human hand of climate change has replaced the divine hand of God as being responsible for the collapse of civilisations and for determining the new twenty-first century wealth of nations. And to emphasise the message and the mood, the New Economics Foundation and its partners have wound up the climate clock which is now ticking, second-by-second, until 1 December 2016 when human fate is handed over to the winds, ocean currents and drifting ice-floes of a de-stabilised global climate: “We have 100 months to save the planet; when the clock stops ticking we could be beyond the climate’s tipping point, the point of no return”. Such eschatological rhetoric offers a post-2016 world where the degrees of human freedom and agency are extinguished by the iron-grip of the forces of climate. Such a narrative offers scant chance for humans to escape the inevitability of a climate-shaped destiny. Jim Lovelock offers the most vivid melodrama of such a pre-determined fate. We are travelling, he says, on “a rocky path to a Stone Age existence on an ailing planet, one where few of us survive among the wreckage of our once biodiverse Earth”
    Hulme reminds us on how climate was used to explain racial characteristics etc. 100 years ago and now he wonders:

    Why should an explanatory logic ““ if not an ideology – dating from earlier intellectual and imperial eras, a logic subsequently dismissed by many as seriously wanting, have re-emerged in different form in a new century to find new and enthusiastic audiences? 

     http://mikehulme.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Hulme-Osiris-revised.pdf

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    In comments here and in the sewer thread at Tim Lambert’s blog, you suggest that you don’t think my views on climate change are as narrowly circumscribed as they’ve been made out to be (by what I would consider all the hyperventilating over one quote –which isn’t even mine).

    Yet you insist that I clarify the quote…for what purpose? To fulfill some purity pledge? I’m just not gonna play these silly games. I’ve got a large body of work (written articles, blog posts, etc) that should give enough hints about where my thinking lies. I’m not going to to indulge this silliness over one quote, especially with flame-throwers like Tim Lambert making hay out of it for partisan purposes.  Just look at the raw sewage flowing through his comment thread. He can’t even be bothered to ask his choir to tone it down, even when they turn on each other (one commenter calls Hank “asswipe”).

    Then we have the usual suspects like Anna Hayes jumping on this bandwagon, trying to make it all sound like a reasonable exercise. 

    What boggles my mind is why anyone would care so much about what I think when Mike Lemonick (in the spirt of the actual post) comments here about a much bigger (and worrying) issue for the climate concerned community.  

  • Lazar

    Marlowe,
    I would guess that in a tight spot most people would side with the weight of expert opinion, absent any special knowledge.
    I agree fully that to do otherwise would be irrational.
    Outside of a tight spot, skepticism seems to me somewhat decadent. An indulgence to politics and/or ego or whatnot…
    To return to the root of the disagreement with Keith…
    “As far as what I believe let me be clear.  There is no meaningful distinction between people who don’t believe in climate change and those who believe in climate change but don’t see it as an existential threat (i.e. “˜lukewarmism’).  Both are forms of denial that are cut from the same cloth.”
    I don’t think Keith was arguing against the statement that it is irrational to reject expert opinion. I would guess that he thought he was arguing against “meaningful distinction”…
    And you know I think that is problematic…
    Students of psychology and climate policy wonks may have different ideas.
    Is rejecting expert opinion equivalent to denial? Perhaps… though some may define denial relative to the weight of the evidence denied. At least there is a distinction which could be meaningful.
    I would settle with irrational, for an easy life!
    Lukewarmism is tricky. As you observe, some definitions are internally inconsistent. There is substantial external inconsistency from individual to individual, and these are strange mixtures of logically unconnected assertions and weird dichotomies of apparently little practical use, mixed in with agreeable stuff about sharing of data, correcting errors and so on. Much of lukewarmism seems like a trap, though I doubt it was intentionally crafted that way, so I would not argue directly against lukewarmism as a brand. It is too easy to assert that what is being argued against is not what is being claimed. I would rather go into details and probe specific definitions and claims, and ask what their empirical basis is…
    Ya, dispositive is a useful word! I owe Mosh for that one :-)
    “piling on is pretty excessive and petty”
    Marlowe I ain’t got no beef with you, we’re cool :-) Useful discussion helping me to think more clearly.

  • Lazar

    Keith,
    “I’ve got a large body of work (written articles, blog posts, etc) that should give enough hints about where my thinking lies”
    It might be useful to collect a few links to what you consider the most pertinent writing… not to “fulfill some purity pledge”, but to help people understand “where my thinking lies”.
    “large body” containing “hints”… you know I don’t do mind-reading :-)

  • kdk33

     in the absence of relevant personal expertise on an issue,  the only rational position is acceptance of whatever the expert consensus happens to be

    That old saw… Just more silliness.

    Used care salesmen know more about cars than most buyers.

    Of course, any mildly informed observer has a wealth of “relevevant personal expertise” regarding human behavior, twisted incentives, money and power.  It’s convinient to pretend these work one-way – big oit, anyone?

  • BBD

    kdk33

    You grossly overstate the ‘relevant personal experience’ of the average climate change ‘sceptic’.

    Voluble know-nothings with mistaken ideas about the science are a profoundly tiresome bunch. What renders them infinitely worse is their near-universal refusal to examine the science that they claim is wrong. This pig-headed insistence on arguing from ignorance is about as unappealing a stance in public debate as it is possible to achieve.

    Marlowe’s point is fair. And remember, it was originally directed at me. And I accepted it, without offence.
     

  • BBD

    Lazar

    Lukewarmism is tricky. As you observe, some definitions are internally inconsistent. There is substantial external inconsistency from individual to individual, and these are strange mixtures of logically unconnected assertions and weird dichotomies of apparently little practical use, mixed in with agreeable stuff about sharing of data, correcting errors and so on.

    Yes, but one must not forget the essence: lukewarmerism essentially requires a belief in a low value for climate sensitivity.

    Mosher has been trying to re-define this as ‘anything below 3C’ but this is another of his transparent attempts to maintain credibility. A value of 2.7C for ECS is mainstream, contra Mosher. A value of 1 – 2.5C is lukewarm.

    Since all the evidence points to an ECS of ~3C, lukewarmerism is a busted flush. I was forced to admit this a year ago, and see no reason why enlightenment cannot come to others ;-)

    So long as they actually examine the evidence, that is…

  • BBD

    Apologies. Formatted for clarity:

    Lazar @ 248

    Lukewarmism is tricky. As you observe, some definitions are internally inconsistent. There is substantial external inconsistency from individual to individual, and these are strange mixtures of logically unconnected assertions and weird dichotomies of apparently little practical use, mixed in with agreeable stuff about sharing of data, correcting errors and so on.

    Yes, but one must not forget the essence: lukewarmerism essentially requires a belief in a low value for climate sensitivity.

    Mosher has been trying to re-define this as “˜anything below 3C’ but this is another of his transparent attempts to maintain credibility. A value of 2.7C for ECS is mainstream, contra Mosher. A value of 1 ““ 2.5C is lukewarm.

    Since all the evidence points to an ECS of ~3C, lukewarmerism is a busted flush. I was forced to admit this a year ago, and see no reason why enlightenment cannot come to others

    So long as they actually examine the evidence, that is”¦

  • Lazar

    kdk33,
    Given that you’ve violated the clauses “absence of relevant personal expertise” and “consensus” in Marlowe’s statement, I’m really unsure what argument you think you’re making against Marlowe?

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    I was forced to admit this a year ago
    - A little bit of an exaggeration, unless 8 months ago you were having a relapse into open-mindedness..
    I think you’re missing something about the kinds of people you call ‘luke-warmers’. You seem to take it as read that a warming of, say 2 degrees over, say 100 years will mean an exact amount of negative nastiness for life and humanity. I think many would say that there is more to debate about the nature of a 2 degree warming than maybe there is about ECS. And interestingly, I don’t think climate scientists have any expertise in this area – in fact they appear to know even less than the average citizen.
    To say it all comes down to the value of ECS and if its 3 we’re sunk and if you think it’s 2 you must be in denial, misses that the heart of what many are contending is the inevitability of ‘catastrophe’ ie the nature of adaptability, innovation and natural change.
    Also there is the point that vulnerability to climate change is perhaps just vulnerability to climate and the kind of development that increases adaptability to climate automatically increases adaptability to climate change. Thus you have a basis for a rational disagreement about policy – do you starve development by heavily taxing carbon, or accept a higher level of emission but increase relevant adaptability (and infant mortality, health, education, infrastructure etc etc)
    I guess you expect, say, a 1 metre sea level rise by 2100 to be fairly disastrous. I think the people I talk to who get called ‘lukewarmer’ are often those that disagree with you about the lack of human – and environmental – adaptability. The disagreement may not be much about CS, but about how we characterise changes. It’s a much deeper disagreement about how we see life and the world – but gets hung on CS as a proxy.

  • Lazar

    BBD,
    I asked Mosh not long ago…
    “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? [...] 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’? [...] 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? [...] Measuring position by the beliefs of others instead of evidence, then mixing belief and evidence together”
    My preference is to avoid describing sensitivities as ‘lukewarm’ altogether.
    “I was forced to admit”
    That’s cool. Ya know, I once believed the auditors?

  • Lazar

    BBD,
    Anteros’ response is an instance of the trap in arguing directly against ‘lukewarmism’, as a category, than discussing specifics solely. As I was discussing with Marlowe. it seems too inconsistent and slippery to be directly refuted. In the end, ‘lukewarm’ is just a word, and perhaps not a very meaningful one…
    “I think you’re missing something about the kinds of people you call “˜luke-warmers’.”
    “I think many would say that there is more to debate about the nature of a 2 degree warming than maybe there is about ECS.”
    “I think the people I talk to who get called “˜lukewarmer’ are often those that disagree with you about the lack of human ““ and environmental ““ adaptability”
    Also of note is describing ‘lukewarm’ as a term given by others, than as is mostly the case a category that is self-chosen.

  • BBD

    Lazar @ 256

    I remember your comments on that thread. I half-agree with your summary that ‘lukewarmer’ isn’t a definition so much as a tactic.

    My instinct is to counter evasiveness by establishing a definition (eg 252/3) and then show that the unequivocally ‘lukewarm’ camp (LW < 2.5C ECS) is in conflict with best current scientific understanding.

    That said, Anteros has been thoroughly nailed on this thread about his misrepresentations of CS but predictably continues by misrepresenting the probable effects of rapid warming during this century.

    This very much supports your point: lukewarmerism is a tactic rather than a clear position on estimated CS.

    This is why I tend to agree with Marlowe that it becomes hard to establish a functional distinction between lukewarmerism and denial.

    They amount to much the same thing in the end.

    Predictably, Anteros (arguing from ignorance, as ever) simply asserts that:

    I think the people I talk to who get called “˜lukewarmer’ are often those that disagree with you about the lack of human ““ and environmental ““ adaptability. The disagreement may not be much about CS, but about how we characterise changes. It’s a much deeper disagreement about how we see life and the world

    So there you go: sod the science – all you need is a positive attitude and everything will be just fine and dandy.

  • kdk33

    BBD, Lazar,

    No,  think you both understand my point quite well. 

  • Anteros

    Lazar -
    It seems too inconsistent and slippery to be directly refuted”
    It sounds remarkably like your position is so fragile you have to delineate opposition to it either as ‘denial’ or something too vague to debate. Sort of like you have to be right in a ‘fundamental’ ‘categorical’ way? Very reminiscent of any one of dozens of brittle dogmatic religions.
    You don’t want to discuss the actual nature of a 2 degree impact? You basically don’t want to discuss climate at all – just how right you are, the idiocy of those you disagree with, and of course, calamity.
    You have no idea just how familiar that refrain is to those who’ve studied the history of doomsaying. Always the same characteristics, always so certain. Unrepentantly wrong.

  • Lazar

    kdk33 @ 259 is unresponsive and in my case incorrect.

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    You didn’t read a single word I wrote.
    How ironic.

  • BBD

    Anteros @ 262

    You didn’t read a single word I wrote.
    How ironic.

    I read your comment. It is the usual unreferenced misrepresentation of the best scientific understanding of the impacts of the expected rapid warming during the C21st.

    You are, as I correctly stated, arguing from ignorance. It’s just your opinion. And the vast majority of credentialled Earth System Scientists think differently.

    And they are not arguing from ignorance. See how it works yet?

  • Lazar

    Anteros,
    “It sounds”
    What is ‘it’?
    “remarkably like”
    Why is ‘it’ remarkable?
    “your position”
    What do you conceive of as ‘my position’?
    If talk of ‘my position’ is not intended as a distraction, then how is ‘my position’ dispositive of claims made thus far?
    “is so fragile”
    Whatever the ‘my position’ is that you may be talking about… how is it fragile?
    “you have to delineate”
    I must do no such thing.
    “opposition to it”
    What is opposition?
    “either as “˜denial’ or something too vague to debate”
    I assert that because ‘lukewarmism’ as defined is highly inconsistent between individuals, contains logically disconnected statements and dichotomies of unexplained purpose and utility, that it is difficult if not impossible to measure the closeness of ‘lukewarmism’ to truth. Your comments about ‘my position’ are irrelevant, thus far.
    “Very reminiscent of any one of dozens of brittle dogmatic religions”
    Doubtless you believe that… whatever that means. This sounds like another irrelevancy.
    “You don’t want to discuss the actual nature of a 2 degree impact?”
    If that is something you wish to discuss, I am quite happy to do so.
    “You basically don’t want to discuss climate at all”
    Incorrect. You can’t read minds.
    “how right you are”
    Wrong. Learning is fun, ‘being correct’ is boooring. You can’t read minds.
    “the idiocy of those you disagree with”
    I am fortunate that only some people I have disagreed with have at times displayed idiocy, and many others not so.
    “and of course, calamity”
    Discussing calamity can be interesting. Is this another distraction?
    “You have no idea”
    Your problem is that you can’t read my mind. Although Inception was a fun film!

  • grypo

    “lukewarmerism is a tactic rather than a clear position on estimated CS.”

    It’s really more of a marketing thing.  This is why, as Lazar finds,  there is a “trap in arguing directly against ” it.  It seems to work like this – First answer the question “At what CS number would you say that mitigation is a questionable policy objective?”  Then point out different evidence that supports your CS number, promote it, stamp it.  Then claim that you are in favor of “no regrets” policy options, even though nobody actually thinks “no regrets” options do not carry immense regrets. 

    This also seems to be the people that Keith has tried to highlight as not being in the media enough.  So I wouldn’t make too much out of what you think Keith’s thoughts are.  He’s been fairly clear about this as the middle ground he wants to draw out in a few posts from a month ago.  This may be important in getting a coalition together to get what most people believe are “politically possible” policy options. I do wish they’d get on with it.  

    Unfortunately, if the discussion ends there, we may regret it.  Or somebody else will in the future.  I do believe we will come to our senses, but that may come at a time when even the most aggressive options we are discussing now will not be enough.  We seem to be about 20 years off schedule with physics.  Ho-hum.

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    I think you’re simply imagining things that suit your made-up mind.
    And the vast majority of credentialled Earth System Scientists think differently.”

    Perhaps Richard Betts can give you a better idea of what climate scientists think about the rest of the century -
    “Most climate scientists* do not subscribe to the 2 degrees “Dangerous Climate Change” meme (I know I don’t)”
    But of course, even better might be to think for yourself, if you can remember how – earth scientists have no special expertise in deciding what will constitute a ‘disaster’ or a ‘catastrophe’.


    And if you really want to either learn or read, Mike Hulme is currently writing about the problems science has run into in it’s perspective on ‘the future’.


    Lazar – you nicely prove my contention that you have no interest in a discussion.

  • Lazar

    BBD,
    “This is why I tend to agree with Marlowe that it becomes hard to establish a functional distinction between lukewarmerism and denial.”
    I am very much in favor a definition of denial as “denial of knowledge” in a sense similar to denial of service. Whilst covering the usual ‘I deny xxx’, it could encompass any denial of knowledge to humanity, for example by undermining confidence in evidence and processes. For example, individuals who selectively audit science that supports one position, whilst only publishing the negative results, and giving a free pass to contrary work. Statisticians are taught of type II errors and bias of estimators as part of their first steps.

  • grypo

    “Yet while growth damages the environment, it also nurtures a countervailing force: rising green consciousness.”

    This is the U-curve theory of environmental damage v environmental consciousness as societies become more open and democratic.  IE, the more open, the better the economy and industrialized, and then the more democratic, the more environmental policies are established due to the fact common-folk are more impacted by environmental damage. 

  • grypo

    wrong thread

  • Anteros

    In a moment of prescience, Mike Hulme’s essay is currently being discussed at Climate Etc

  • Lazar

    Anteros,
    “you nicely prove my contention that you have no interest in a discussion.”
    I responded to the content of your statements. If you think that this…
    “your position is so fragile [...] very reminiscent of any one of dozens of brittle dogmatic religions.”
    … is a discussion, I may disagree.

  • BBD

    Anteros @ 266

    You are (as ever) misrepresenting. This time what you have done is to quote Betts incompletely. He also says that he (and many others) expect more than 2C warming by century’s end.

    Which places rather a different complexion on things.

    Try to remember that I was there Anteros. I’ve been at BH for a long time. Never heard of you until recently though.

  • Lazar

    “Mike Hulme’s essay”
    Reminds us to be mindful of which variables are being held constant and of interaction effects.
    But doesn’t detail which variables held constant are possible to model, which are likely to effect which results, and whether or not such contingencies are generally acknowledged in the literature. In the latter case…
    Simulations of future climate from climate models are inappropriately elevated as universal predictors of future social performance and human destiny.”
    Seems very much like a straw man.
    I also find the paper has too much padding in the way of historical anecdotes of “climate determinism”. Please keep it clear, keep it concise.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    In the post that Keith has repeatedly misrepresented I described his “concisely expressed” thinking on climate change as The View from Nowhere.  His comment at #247 confirms this.  The only purpose he can see for him for any further statement is “To fulfill some purity pledge”. (I guess that must have ben the purpose of the IPCC AR4.)  To Keith, expressing a view on climate change is dirty, something that only an “advocate” would do.  As for answering questions, well, he’s a journalist, he doesn’t answer questions — he asks them.

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    I couldn’t fail to remember you were there. It was mildly amusing to see you flailing around desperately trying to get Richard Betts to re-interpret what he said – which he didn’t. Funnier too that he gave up responding to you and your whining after this -

    “BBD, I don’t see why you query my motives, I didn’t say climate change isn’t a problem, I just said we’re too uncertain about the impacts to say sensible things about what level of warming constitutes “dangerous” and pointed out that overstating the certainty of imminent major impacts could have serious consequences.”


    Most interestingly, this echoes what I was saying about many ‘Lukewarmers’.

    Fundamentalists and alarmists are just never going to see the bigger picture. It comes from having a closed mind.


  • Keith Kloor

    Tim,

    Trying to have rational conversation with you when you’re caught out on being wrong is like talking with my four year old. 

  • Marcel Kincaid

    “I would think better of you if you were as quick to point out every instance in which KK can do better”
    It is not my job to point out every instance, and I have no desire to do so.


    Lovely evasive strawman, Lazar. “as quick” works both ways; my point was that you applied an absurdly high standard to Tim, one that you would never dream of applying to Keith. You simply confirmed my point, while going out of your way to not get it so as to not face your double standard. And the rest of the hypocritical drivel in your post again gives me little reason to think well of you.

    You cannot read minds.

    It’s called inference, and non-autistic humans age 4 or over can do it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally%E2%80%93Anne_test


    And I can read yours well enough to know what you won’t say about @276, so I won’t bother to keep watching this thread.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Keith@276 One thing most everyone here can agree on is that you are not trying to have a rational conversation.  If you were you would have answered some of the questions instead of offering up evasions and name-calling.

    And I’m right about yours being the View from Nowhere. Each evasion from you confirms it. 

  • Marcel Kincaid

    Lazar, I will say one more thing: I’ve read your other posts here, and you’re doing good work. While I stand by what I wrote about Tim vs. Keith, it’s largely a matter of personal strategy, and since you are a regular here and will remain, whereas I am not and won’t, my perspective matters little, so feel free to ignore what I’ve written and simply carry on as you see fit. Thanks.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tim, There you go again. There are two or three people on this thread who agree with you. Perhaps you meant the sewer thread at your site? Where just everybody does agree with you? You certainly can bask in that. Like I said, keep feeding your choir what they want to hear, I’m sure it’s very satisfying to you. That, and playing these partisan games. 

     

  • BBD

    Anteros @ 275

    I pointed out (272) that you had misrepresented Betts. Oddly, your ‘response’ doesn’t acknowledge this. Rather, you once again point in the wrong direction (he apparently misunderstood my question). Let’s concentrate on the relevant.

    In this case – as ever with you – it is that you are peddling the (unsupported, insane) view that the certainty of rapid warming once we pass 2C is not going to be a problem later this century. Humans and ecosystems will ‘adapt’. Because ‘the last six degrees wasn’t a problem’ etc etc.

    You pack this dangerous, self-serving tripe with an endless stream of unreferenced assertions, misrepresentations and misdirection.

    Let’s have a look at what you’ve done with Betts (emphasis added):

    While really bad things may happen at 2 degrees, they may very well not happen either – especially in the short term (there may be a committment to longer-term consequences such as ongoing sea level rise that future generations have to deal with, but imminent catastrophe affecting the current generation is far less certain than people make out. We just don’t know.

    The thing that worries me about the talking-up of doom at 2 degrees is that this could lead to some very bad and expensive decisions in terms of adaptation. It probably is correct that we have about 5 years to achieve a peak and decline of global emissions that give a reasonable probability of staying **below** 2 degrees, but what happens in 10 years’ time when emissions are still rising and we are probably on course for 2 degrees?

    Betts’ isn’t saying that there will only be 2C warming this century. Nor is he saying that there is nothing to worry about. He is saying that there is uncertainty about the effects of 2C warming. He is cautioning against misguided policy responses. He is cautioning that ‘science’ needs to choose its words very, very carefully.

    His reprise at Dot Earth makes this clear:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/scienc-and-the-dangerous-climate-question/

    Some further climate change is already in the pipeline which means we are going to have to consider adapting to it. However, if our adaptation is informed by science cherry-picked to support a particular standpoint on “dangerous climate change” then this risks leading to wrong decisions on adaptation. For example, sea level rise poses very real risks, but talking-up the certainty of rapid and catastrophic rises could lead to investment in flood defenses unnecessarily early, while down-playing the risks could lead to inappropriate delays. The same is true for drought and other impacts.

    Policy decisions on both mitigation and adaptation require the same scientific advice, but are influenced by other factors too. It is important to recognize that science is merely one aspect of the decision-making, and not try to make the science exceed its remit in support of one area as this may then misinform the other area. Science can help inform judgment calls on complex issues, but it can’t make them on behalf of society.

    If you were interested in the truth, instead of twisting everything to support your bizarre agenda, all this would be obvious.

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    Bizarre? What is bizarre is that you extensively quote Richard Betts saying the same thing I do myself – and imagine I have an agenda. Richard Betts too. I suppose.
    If you ever want to know what I think is a reasonable way to look at climate change, re-read those ideas you quoted.

    You say he ‘apparently misunderstood my question

    Hahahhahahahahahahahaha!

     

  • grypo

    Lazar,

    “Mike Hulme’s essay”

    I had pretty much the same reaction as you and I voiced it on Curry’s.  I even used words like ‘variable’ and ‘strawmen’!  Striking, is that everyone there has taken the stance that Hulme is telling us to leave well enough alone and that the “future” will take care of itself.  I highly doubt this was Hulme’s real message, but this all got lost.  It is much too long and doesn’t deal with counterarguments or ethics.  The most important argument would be to deal extensively with how anti-mitigation proposals severely limit the “other” futures that are possible that he points out in his conclusions.  I don’t doubt that humanity will change in such a way as to make modeled outcomes irrelevant to certain possible futures, but Nazi determinism and the Lovelock references are incredibly messy and make the discussion almost absurd.

  • Lazar

    Marcel,
    “Lovely evasive strawman”
    I supplied a straightforward response to your suggestion. Your response here is contentless.

    “you applied an absurdly high standard to Tim”
    I did not apply any standard to Tim. Why do you believe that a standard was applied, and what does ‘absurd’ mean in this context?
    “one that you would never dream of applying to Keith”
    You still cannot read minds.
    “You simply confirmed my point”
    As far as I can tell, your point consists of an unexplained adjective and an assertion of mind-reading. There is nothing that can empirically “confirm” it.
    “while going out of your way to not get it”
    I get your point probably as well as it can be understood.
    “so as to not face your double standard”
    Inferring that any standard, let alone two standards exists, is impossible without repeat observations whilst holding everything else approximately equal. Since you have one observation, you cannot.
    “It’s called inference”
    Your belief that you can read minds is not “inference”. Mind reading is impossible and is also not “inference”. What you are doing is guessing, and asserting that those are not mere guesses,

    “and non-autistic humans age 4 or over can do it”
    The article is confused. The child is being asked to make a probabilistic assessment to which there is no objectively “correct” answer. The claim that the experiment does “measure a person’s social cognitive ability to attribute false beliefs to others” amounts itself to an assertion of mind-reading the mind of the child, for it is trivially easy to list other conditions under which the child believes Sally will choose Anne’s box, and which are not excluded by the experiment.
    “And I can read yours”
    However many times you repeat it, doesn’t make it so.
    “I won’t bother to keep watching this thread.”
    Ok.

  • BBD

    Anteros @ 282

    Bizarre? What is bizarre is that you extensively quote Richard Betts saying the same thing I do myself ““ and imagine I have an agenda. Richard Betts too. I suppose.

    RB doesn’t ‘say the same thing’ that you do. And he would doubtless be angry to find out that you are claiming that he does.

    Betts’ view is clear in the quotes I provide at 281, which you have been far too quick to try and brush under the carpet. A sure sign that we are getting somewhere.

    I also indicated in more detail where you have misrepresented what Betts said. Again, no mention of that.

    Let’s see what RB really thinks might be on the cards as far as the potential rapidity and extent of C21st warming are concerned.

    When could global warming reach 4°C?
    Richard A. Betts, Matthew Collins, Deborah L. Hemming, Chris D. Jones, Jason A. Lowe and Michael G. Sanderson
    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 2011 369, 67-84 doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0292

    http://www.ecoshock.org/transcripts/RoySoc%204D%20When%20happen.pdf

    This paper presents simulations of climate change with an ensemble of GCMs driven by the A1FI scenario, and also assesses the implications of carbon-cycle feedbacks for the climate-change projections. Using these GCM projections along with simple climate-model projections, including uncertainties in carbon-cycle feedbacks, and also comparing against other model projections from the IPCC, our best estimate is that the A1FI emissions scenario would lead to a warming of 4â—¦C relative to pre-industrial during the 2070s. If carbon-cycle feedbacks are stronger, which appears less likely but still credible, then 4â—¦C warming could be reached by the early 2060s in projections that are consistent with the IPCC’s “˜likely range’.

    [...]

    The impacts of climate change would depend not only on the level of climate change, but also on the speed with which this is reached. When assessing the warming of the full set of six SRES marker scenarios, Meehl et al. [4] focused largely on the magnitude of warming by the end of the twenty-first century. Discussion of the warming rates earlier in the century was centred more on the GCMs and on the B1, A1B and A2 scenarios. There was no specific assessment of the projected dates at which specific levels of global warming (such as 4â—¦C) are projected to be reached. With concern now increasing on the possibility of global mean temperatures rising to 4â—¦C above pre-industrial or beyond if emissions are not reduced, this paper assesses the dates at which 4â—¦C could be reached.

    [...]

    The A1FI emissions scenario is considered by the IPCC to be one of a number of equally plausible projections of future greenhouse-gas emissions from a global society that does not implement policies to limit anthropogenic influence on climate. Previously, this scenario has received less attention than other scenarios with generally lower rates of emissions. However, there is no evidence from actual emissions data to suggest that the A1FI scenario is implausible if action is not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and hence it deserves closer attention than has previously been given.

    The evidence available from new simulations with the HadCM3 GCM and the MAGICC SCM, along with existing results presented in the IPCC AR4, suggests that the A1FI emissions scenario would lead to a rise in global mean temperature of between approximately 3â—¦C and 7â—¦C by the 2090s relative to pre-industrial, with best estimates being around 5â—¦C. Our best estimate is that a temperature rise of 4â—¦C would be reached in the 2070s, and if carbon-cycle feedbacks are strong, then 4â—¦C could be reached in the early 2060s””this latter projection appears to be consistent with the upper end of the IPCC’s likely range of warming for the A1FI scenario.

    Well there you have it. Betts doesn’t think we are remotely likely to keep below 2C this century. Your frantic signalling that ‘he said 2C would be okay’ is a misdirection: he didn’t. He said it was uncertain what might happen (272; 281). And he clearly indicated that we are in for more than 2C anyway (272; 281).

    And only the deluded are claiming that >2C this century isn’t going to be a problem.

    As I said, you are twisting everything to fit your bizarre and misguided agenda.

  • http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid Tim Lambert

    Yet again with the name calling Keith?  It’s not conducive for rational discussion you know.  Can you point to even one comment on this thread or mine from someone (other than Keith Kloor) who reckons I got your views wrong?

  • Lazar

    Marcel,
    “my perspective matters little”
    I think no perspective here matters in the great scheme of things, you’re as welcome to contribute as any other in this free-for-all. The question is how much or how little the individual gets out of it and whether they think it worthwhile.
    Thanks.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tim,

    There is no rational discourse with you. That’s not your purpose, so don’t pretend it is. Your objective is to slime. Look at the thread of your post. Your commenters take their cue from you. 

  • Lazar

    Tim,
    “Can you point to even one comment on this thread or mine from someone (other than Keith Kloor) who reckons I got your views wrong?”
    You took a quote out of context, and extrapolated its significance beyond reason. You can search my comments from the top, there’s about four or five that are relevant.
    Others have also described that action as excessive and uncharitable.
    You could do better to understand Keith’s views on climate, you could go for a beer and talk for an hour.

  • Lazar

    grypo,
    “I had pretty much the same reaction”
    Giggle… yeah.
    “It is much too long and doesn’t deal with counterarguments or ethics.”
    Yup.
    “The most important argument would be to deal extensively with how anti-mitigation proposals severely limit the “other” futures that are possible that he points out in his conclusions.”
    I wanted to say something like that… a connection I was grasping for but couldn’t visualize.
    As an aside, when I got to this line in the abstract…

    It is a hegemony which lends disproportionate power in political and social discourse to model-based descriptions”
    I bet JC would give the paper the thumbs up!

  • Lazar

    Marcel,
    Thanks for the kind words.

  • Anteros

    BBD -
    Back to your old tricks of just making stuff up I see -
    Your frantic signalling that he ‘said 2C would be okay’….
    I made no such signal – you made that up all by yourself.
    I simply reminded you of what Richard Betts said that got you so exercised (and no-where) which was this
    “Most climate scientists don’t subscribe to the 2 degrees “dangerous climate change” meme (I know I don’t)”
    I couldn’t agree more.
    You seem to have already forgotten that after asking you why you were querying his motives [you never bothered to answer, of course] he goes on to say -

    “we’re too uncertain about the impacts to say anything sensible about what level of warming constitutes ‘dangerous’ and pointed out that overstating the certainty of imminent major impacts could have serious consequences”

    Well, which local idiot do we know that overstates the certainty of imminent major impacts? That comment from Richard Betts is probably aimed at them. He clearly says that he doesn’t think [and neither do most climate scientists] that 2 degrees is dangerous, and also that we can’t [or non-idiots can't] say what level of warming constitutes dangerous.

    Sounds very open-minded to me.

    Tempted to give it a try?
     

  • BBD

    Anteros

    You began to misrepresent Betts at 266:

    Perhaps Richard Betts can give you a better idea of what climate scientists think about the rest of the century -
    “Most climate scientists* do not subscribe to the 2 degrees “Dangerous Climate Change” meme (I know I don’t)”
    But of course, even better might be to think for yourself, if you can remember how ““ earth scientists have no special expertise in deciding what will constitute a “˜disaster’ or a “˜catastrophe’.

    You are focussing on 2C, which is misdirection. Betts knows we are in for rather more than 2C by century’s end, so his views on whether or not 2C is or is not dangerous are rather beside the point.

    You go much too far at 282:

    What is bizarre is that you extensively quote Richard Betts saying the same thing I do myself

    Except that he doesn’t say the same as you at all. I have drawn your attention to this central misrepresentation at 285. Let me repeat: it’s not about 2C so pretending that it is and claiming that ‘Betts said it’s all going to be okay’ is extremely misleading.
    Betts knows that:

    It probably is correct that we have about 5 years to achieve a peak and decline of global emissions that give a reasonable probability of staying below 2 degrees

    He knows 4C is possible before the end of the century. He knows that warming above 2C is increasingly dangerous. He knows that warming will increase unless and until emissions are abated significantly. Read the paper linked above.

    You deny all this. I repeat: Betts does not ‘say the same’ as you.

    His argument – hideously warped by the idiots at BH and mangled in turn by you – is that ‘science’ needs to be careful what it says in the presence of policy-makers.

    Your position is essentially denial in the drag of reason: a half-baked concoction derived from your non-understanding of climate sensitivity estimates and unsupported belief that ecosystems can adapt to rapid climate change.

    You needn’t exert yourself maintaining the pretence. I know where you are coming from:

    Fundamentalists and alarmists are just never going to see the bigger picture. It comes from having a closed mind.

    Do you really believe that you can see further and more clearly than the scientific consensus?

    Because if you do, then you are beset by delusions and a pathological arrogance.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    If Tim reminds Keith of his 4 yr old, then it must be said that Keith reminds Marlowe of his 5 year old…

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    You want propaganda and partisan point scoring, Tim is your man. Hang out over there or at Romm’s, if that’s your thing. You need to remember one thing: I’m not an advocate. It’s okay for you to be one. Just don’t expect me to play Tim’s games.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Asking questions and expecting a response amounts to point scoring while expressing a point of view grounded in logic makes one guilty of partisan point scoring and propaganda. Who knew?

    It’s a strange hermetically sealed world you live in Keith.

  • EdG

    I must say, some comments here do illustrate the issues relating to the topic at hand: “What Climate Communication Sorely Lacks.”

    So I guess that makes this a very valuable thread.

    Now just imagine some of these comments stripped of their anger, name calling, appeals to selected ‘logic’ and authority, insistence on false certainties, and, to quote Charlie Sheen, “winning,” and we can begin to see where this conversation needs to go – if it was really a ‘scientific’ discussion. But it is a political issue and a clash of values, cultures, and/or religions. Thus I doubt if this conversation will ever be elevated much above where we are now. But still worth trying.

  • Jarmo

    #283

    Striking, is that everyone there has taken the stance that Hulme is telling us to leave well enough alone and that the “future” will take care of itself.  I highly doubt this was Hulme’s real message, but this all got lost.   

    The real message is pretty easy to see.
     

     I suggest that the climate reductionism I have described here is nurtured by elements of a Western cultural pessimism which promote the pathologies of vulnerability, fatalism and fear.
    These characteristics of Western culture have also been described by sociologist Frank Furedi in his book Invitation to Terror. It is these dimensions of the contemporary cultural mood which has offered the milieu within which this particular form of neo-determinism has emerged. By handing the future over to inexorable non-human powers, climate reductionism offers a rationalisation, even if a poor one, of the West’s loss of confidence in the future.
    Furedi explains the confusion that has emerged in Western culture about the new international terrorism of this century and links it to a pessimism about the accomplishments of modernity and science – and fear of their legacy. Such pessimism evacuates the future of belief, vision and promise. The knowledge claims of intelligence experts ““ or, in the case studied here, of climate modellers ““ are invited to fill the voids in the human imagination thus created….Climate reductionism is a limited and deficient methodology for adequately accessing the future.

     Since it is at least possible ““ if not indeed likely – that human creativity, imagination and ingenuity will create radically different social, cultural and political worlds in the future than exist today, greater effort should be made to represent these possibilities in any analysis about the significance of future climate change. Some of these futures may be better; some may be worse. But they will not be determined by climate, certainly not by climate alone, and these worlds will condition ““ perhaps remarkably, certainly unexpectedly ““ the consequences of climate change.

  • Keith Kloor

    Marlowe,

    I’ve already made it clear that I think your question is as valid as the point of Tim’s post. They are one and the same. Too bad if you can’t accept that.  

    As for hermetically sealed, like I said, you know where to go if you really want that. I’ll let the content of this blog and the diversity of commenters speak for itself. If I was somebody who preferred a hermetically sealed existence, I would have created that kind of climate for this blog.

  • Lazar

    Jarmo,
    That is very generalized, airy, unempirical psychologizing, topped off with an exhortation that is kinda motherhood and apple pie. That kind of thinking is fun to do on one’s back on a summer’s day, but isn’t really very useful alone…
    Meantime the modellers do the best they can with limited tools, to show how twiddling of the life support controls limits our future possible worlds from the infinite. And people act on the knowledge they have, not the knowledge they wish they had.

  • Alexander Harvey

    EdG #297:

    I am up for a conversation, and to begin would you prefer I called you Ed?

    Now I may be tedious, verbose, stodgy, and more, but I have some redeeming features. For now, perhaps this one may be of interest.

    When I must disagree with someone; that they are wrong and the reasons why they are wrong are equally boring, the interest is in why they think they are right.

    Alex

  • Alexander Harvey

    Keith:

    One thing that it no longer lacks but I had not realised it was in want of is your twitter thingy near the top of right hand column. Well Done.

    Alex

  • Jarmo

    #300

    Jarmo,
    That is very generalized, airy, unempirical psychologizing, topped off with an exhortation that is kinda motherhood and apple pie. That kind of thinking is fun to do on one’s back on a summer’s day, but isn’t really very useful alone”¦
    Meantime the modellers do the best they can with limited tools, to show how twiddling of the life support controls limits our future possible worlds from the infinite. And people act on the knowledge they have, not the knowledge they wish they had.

    I’d say that Hulme has a very strong position empirically. Ever since Malthus, predictions of doom have failed. Not because their makers were making inaccurate calculations based on the available data but because they could not see how things would change.

    Today, scientists do not have the same excuse and in fields where adaptation has always been built-in, this can be seen.  I’ve read some agricultural studies (quoted byt the IPCC) related to AGW and food production in vulnerable areas. First, they give their estimates of losses due to warming (the part the IPCC quotes). Then, they tell about adaptation measures and how they will mitigate or overcome the losses due AGW (the part the IPCC leaves out).    

    I’m not saying that it will be easy or swift but problems will be solved and people adapt to new circumstances.
      
      

  • Lazar

    Jarmo,
    “Unemprical” references the psychologizing by Hulme… most of the verbiage you highlighted as the “real reason”?
    “predictions [...] have failed [...] because they could not see how things would change”
    In other words… if they could see how things would change, their predictions would be correct :-)
    In this instance Hulme has a very strong position empirically :-)
    Empirical models are built, numbers churned, the results are what they are. Calling them “predictions of doom” is editorializing.
    “I’ve read some agricultural studies (quoted byt the IPCC) related to AGW and food production in vulnerable areas. First, they give their estimates of losses due to warming (the part the IPCC quotes). Then, they tell about adaptation measures and how they will mitigate or overcome the losses due AGW (the part the IPCC leaves out).”
    Without reading the papers and the contexts in which they are quoted, I cannot form an opinion on this.
    “I’m not saying that it will be easy or swift but problems will be solved and people adapt to new circumstances.”
    Possibly at very great expense in blood and treasure, compared to putting the brakes on.

  • Jarmo

    # 304

    When I was a kid, I was told that oil would run out by 2000. The predictions were based on churning the available numbers, including the predicted rate of oil use. Turned out to be the wrong numbers. Rise of oil prices cut the use and increased the supply.

    If you’re interested in studies, Eid et al. 2006, Benhin 2006, Fischer et al 2005 are all available on the Internet.

    Possibly at very great expense in blood and treasure,  compared to putting the brakes on. 

    The link between wars and AGW seems a bit dubious. And I do not see anybody really putting the brakes on, especially not the developing countries.

    The Maldives are supposed to drown, right? Why then build new airports? Don’t they know that jets and turboprops emit CO2?

    http://www.maldivestourismupdate.com/2009/07/11-new-airports-to-be-constructed-in.html 

     

  • jeffn

    #305 Jarmo, Peak Oil is  a very good an example of people using sciency-sounding means to come up with the wrong answer because they can’t see how things will change.
    I’d take your observation one step further- they not only cannot grasp future of a given product (like oil) they can’t see the larger picture, the need that product fills.
    To use the peak oil example again, the “need” isn’t oil, it is energy and the “change” is going to be both in the ability to produce oil and the ability to produce alternatives to oil. This failure causes them to assume that oil is energy and since it’s going away, the only rational policy response is to ration energy.
    The rest of us just look for the new source of energy. You can see this in the Climate debate- after 22 years of babbling about it we know what the next form of energy will be. Meanwhile, the “concerned” are still yacking on about the need to ration energy (“end consumerism/capitalism”, carbon tax, windmills and conservation, depopulation, redistribute wealth to those who must not be allowed to enjoy economic growth anymore, etc etc.)
    Those policies aren’t going to happen for the very simple reason that everyone else has grasped (and even folks like Monbiot have discovered)- pick the right alt energy and you don’t have to ration it.

     

  • Lazar

    Jarmo,
    “When I was a kid, I was told that oil would run out by 2000″
    That some predictions are wrong is trivially true. That others are correct is also trivially true.

  • jeffn

    Hubbert predicted shale gas?
    My goodness, we could have save so much trouble if we’d only listened!

  • BBD

    Jarmo

    The Maldives are supposed to drown, right? Why then build new airports? Don’t they know that jets and turboprops emit CO2?

    I think the key concept absent from your argument here is that SLR is projected over the coming century. Not tomorrow afternoon.

    Perhaps the inhabitants are simply cashing in on the tourism while they still can?

  • Jarmo

    #307

    They were talking about running out of oil globally by 2000 and they were wrong.

    I’m not sure what you mean by applying the brakes … what exactly is your vision? Like Lenin put it, Chto delat?

  • Alexander Harvey

    What climate communication sorely lacks is circumspection.

    In what way can that be true? I will try to illustrates how this can look from a particular perspective (rather close to mine).

    If you have a group that thinks it uniquely understands both the greatest problem and its solution there are logical consequences that are not lost on some of the audience.

    Much of what follows would be trivial to many here but if it is a surprise to some then that would support a lack of circumspection.

    I will try and recall what Isaiah Berlin said which I recall as being that :

    if you think that you uniquely know both the greatest problem and its solution there is a temptation to act and that always leads to bad outcomes.

    (Tracking the original quote down has proved time consuming and fruitless, it being something he said on camera and may not have been written down.)

    An example relevant to Berlin would be Russian statist communism, but it could refer to any revolutionary movement. If any do not see the link between revolution and despotism I think I can supply some examples such thinking.

    To some or many the climate communication smacks of despotism, and arguably is despotism of a particular kind. A sort of bourgeois despotism, a tyranny of the effete. That may be a bit strong but there can be a whiff of the white wine revolutionaries to it.

    It is my view that somehow, a postion which should have a strong Libertarian appeal has come over as an attack on Liberty. Further more I think that this comes from the prepacked coupling of the solution with the problem.

    Now this is not rocket science, but I don’t commonly see it put over in quite my terms.

    For this to add up to my alleged deficit in the communication those putting over the message would have had to be blithely unaware that it could be perceived as an attack on Liberty. Whatever that case it could have been avoided by steering clear of dogmatism in the solutions game.

    What to do about this? Try and cooperate and invite people to address the problem in their own ways, seeking out the alternative solutions and seeing if they make sense. I doubt that we have sufficient solutions or that we have engaged the minds of many who are in good positions to propose activities that we might all agree to be prudent.

    Well that is but a thesis, it is open to improvement and ridicule, but I would prefer ridicule to blunt disengagement.

    Alex

  • Nullius in Verba

    #308,
    Hubbert predicted shale oil certainly, shale gas was not mentioned but was arguably implied. His point with all his predictions was not that we were running out and therefore doomed, but that as one resource became more expensive to extract we would smoothly switch to other resources. His ultimate point, after pointing out that coal would last a century or two (peak predicted for 2150) was that we already had an alternative in the form of Uranium/Thorium breeder reactors. He had a graph showing nuclear energy production extending 5,000 years into the future, with no sign of slowing down.

    The fossil peak predictions were also founded on a lot of assumptions and approximations, as Hubbert made clear.

    Hubbert’s predictions were quite optimistic, and not at all as doomy as commonly portrayed. (Go read the paper.) The claims that peak oil meant imminent global doom were totally unfounded, the predictions that oil would not merely peak but actually run out were even more so.

  • Lazar

    “They were talking about running out of oil globally by 2000 and they were wrong.”
    Ya Jarmo, ‘they’ made a prediction and ‘they’ were wrong… others made predictions and were correct… that’s the thing about predictions.
    “I’m not sure what you mean by applying the brakes”¦ what exactly is your vision?”
    How precise do you require? Brakes meaning brakes on CO2 emissions…
     “Like Lenin put it, Chto delat?”
    Why bring Lenin into it?

  • jeffn

    NiV- yes, that’s what I wrote, essentially, in 306.
    The other fun thing if you read the wiki page on Hubbert- not the heavily edited one Lazar linked to, but the actual one which is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbert_peak_theory – the bell curve is noticeably leveling off.
    Peak oiler philosophy can be boiled down to: if we look only at the lower 48, if we prohibit exploration, if we reject permits for extraction, if we disregard known energy alternatives, if we assume no improvements in extraction technology and if we assume a steady decline in efficiency (as seen with state-owned oil companies) then, and only then, can we see that there will be a catastrophic peak in oil… tomorrow.

  • grypo

    “To some or many the climate communication smacks of despotism, and arguably is despotism of a particular kind. A sort of bourgeois despotism, a tyranny of the effete.”

    As a matter of perspective, all problems of a grand scale are usually argued top down from an elite.  You can take the bailouts in 2008 as an example.  How much debate took place there?  Or take the Euro crisis.  I’m fairly sure Greeks and Irish and Italians are not ecstatic about the solutions to those problems.  I am with you, in your thinking, but the climate debate does not stand in a vacuum.

    “It is my view that somehow, a postion which should have a strong Libertarian appeal has come over as an attack on Liberty.”

    This is because liberty is equated to the economic liberty of the elite, not liberty of the masses from future environmental problems.  This also speaks to Berlin, believe it or not, if you look at his ideas surrounding positive and negative liberty.  We do not have the freedom to interfere on the market, only those who own are free from interference.

    “For this to add up to my alleged deficit in the communication those putting over the message would have had to be blithely unaware that it could be perceived as an attack on Liberty. “ 

    This is true as far as what and whose liberty we are discussing. 

    “Try and cooperate and invite people to address the problem in their own ways, seeking out the alternative solutions and seeing if they make sense. I doubt that we have sufficient solutions or that we have engaged the minds of many who are in good positions to propose activities that we might all agree to be prudent.” 

    This would require wrestling the power away from the state and industry.   As of now, solutions must serve the masters before getting a fair hearing in the eye of the public.  Any other way would require a real revolution.

  • Jarmo

    #313

    Modelers also make predictions? Hansen’s been talking about Venus ect.

    What sort of brakes on CO2 emissions? Kyoto style or what? Is gas an alternative? How about nuclear?

    Lenin’s 1901 essay laid the groundwork for the Bolshevik takeover of the revolution in Russia. It recognized that all by themselves, the workers would just ask for better wages etc., not for revolution. They needed to be guided from above. He was right about that. 

     Lenin asked himself what needed to be done to get the desired outcome. I’m asking you to share yours. I am not implying that you share anything with Lenin, except a grand vision of the future?

  • Lazar

    Jarmo,
    “Modelers also make predictions”
    Of course some may do. A distinction between models and modelers may or may not be relevant here.
    “What sort of brakes on CO2 emissions”
    Well, I would hope that individuals will gradually choose to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels. I would hope that governments price externalities through a carbon tax or similar.
    “Is gas an alternative? How about nuclear?”
    Yes to both.
    “I am not implying that you share anything with Lenin, except a grand vision of the future?”
    Jarmo, I really have no grand vision. My interest is mainly regards misinformation and illogic in this debate. a) I’d rather people make rational informed decisions, and b) I can’t abide science being tarred and smeared. As to outcomes, maybe people will choose to gamble and burn every last drop of the fossil filth and live happily ever after in a land of milk and honey. Or maybe nature will smack civilization across all seven continents for a couple of hundred years. Either way, it’s your stew, you guys get to sit in it.
    Do you have a grand vision of the future?

  • BBD

    Lazar

    My interest is mainly regards misinformation and illogic in this debate. a) I’d rather people make rational informed decisions, and b) I can’t abide science being tarred and smeared.


    Well said.

  • Jarmo

    #317

    My vision is that global warming is above all a political and economic problem. Right now it’s a classic prisoners dilemma. Debate about science is a sideshow: cutting emissions is costly and the benefits to those who do the cutting are unlikely. Benefits to those who don’t cut are all the more obvious.

       Action to slow down warming will be slow until negative impacts are clearly seen. Also, China, India and other developing countries want to be closer to their potential Peak Coal before they start cutting emissions. A truly global deal might be struck around 2020-2030.

    I presume that nuclear (fast breeders and thorium), solar around the equator, wind in certain areas, shale gas and underground coal gasification will provide the power. Solutions like ground thermal pumps and air thermal pumps will become common in colder countries (my house has one, works great). There are probably a few solutions that will become viable in the net 50 years.

       

         

  • Alexander Harvey

    grypo #315:

    Well I just agree. FWIW I am familiar with “Two Concepts of Liberty”.

    However, I do think it is likely that positive liberty has to be exerted. The question becomes how do minimise the consequences. I think that its exercise has moved on, there are better methods than bloody revolution. Methods that are still broadly democratic but entail more than just voting occassionally.

    Alex

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

    Alexander Harvey,

    If you have a group that thinks it uniquely understands both the greatest problem and its solution there are logical consequences that are not lost on some of the audience.

    But who is this group that thinks it uniquely understands both the problem and the solution? I guess some climate scientists might argue that they have a better understanding of the problem than those outside of climate science but I think most would agree that there are many scientifically literate people who have a pretty good grasp of the problem. I have certainly never seen any of them claim they have some kind of monopoly over deciding what solutions are appropriate. There are some (ie Hansen) who express strong personal views about what we should do, there are others who do not express any views on the subject at all.     

  • grypo

    “I do think it is likely that positive liberty has to be exerted.”

    Agreed.  Actually the whole conversation, in the US ate least, has pretty much disregarded this dialogue from the  political discourse.

    “there are better methods than bloody revolution. ”

    Sure, of course.  Most revolutions moving forward will likely be Gramsci-esque or Daniel De Leon political type.

  • Alexander Harvey

    andrew #321:

    The whole UNEP/IPCC/COP process falls into that category of knowing the question and the answer. I would have thought that the UN would fit the bill for a group that knows the greatest problem (GHGs) and the solution GHG mitigation. This raises the question of how and if adjunctive geo-enigeering gets considered and whether it has a part to play in pulling an agreement together.

    When I look at it, I see the same group covering both aspects and that doesn’t look at all healthy.

    On a smaller scale, one group, if that is what it is, did make itself evident, when it had a go at Hansen, over his alternative scenario paper (2000?), it could have been the concerned scientists.

    The issue was that Hansen suggested that there was (at that time) an alternative to phasing out coal prior to 2050 ish.

    Now it looked like a group setting out both the problem (in their case a given) and the solution (which they seemed to be policing).

    I recall that the alternative scenario could (at that time) have been considered in order to permit an agreement under much easier terms than could be considered now.

    Things drift on and my understanding is that the same solution is going to be put forward again hoping for an agreement that will commence operationally in 2020. If it is the same solution, some people (e.g. K Anderson, and FWIW I) don’t think it will meet its targets with such a late start.

    How do more upto date, this century as opposed to last century, solutions that have a chance of being acceptable and effective (if there are any) get introduced? Who actually controls that process if it exists?

    Sorry if  I rambled, not feeling too bright today.

    Alex

  • Alexander Harvey

    grypo #322:

    FWIW for my sins, I ponder constitutional matters.

    The man who impressed me most in the US constitutional conventions is Madison, because he seemed to have the best grasp of just these issues, the benfits and dangers of liberty not just then but far into the future. His name is not well known to us yet he seems to have been a key player. Is he considered to be important in the same sense that Jefferson and Washington are?

    Alex

  • grypo

    Yes, Madison was probably the most underrated of the initial forefathers, as far as how his influence along with Hamilton in getting the Federalist message through to ratify the constitution.  But…and there is a big but, considering what we talking about in regards to top down v bottom up democracy.. for the most part, Madison’s words in the Federalist papers crushed democracy for those who do not own property.  

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch16s27.html

    And this is the type of republic that was adopted early on in the constitutional process and in the drafting of the Bill of Rights. 

  • grypo

    I should add that Madison was unhappy with the direction of private ownership of the government and capital domination, but his Federalist alliances with Hamilton and Jay forced him into some ideas that appear, on their face, to be contradictory.

    http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?documentprint=2497 

  • huxley

    So what are the values the climate movement wants audiences to embrace?

    Since this topic continues on past 300 comments, any further thoughts on Keith’s question above?

    I think this is more wishful thinking from the climate community that their agenda would succeed if only it were communicated with the right secret sauce. Keith quotes Dan Kahan from Yale:

    The principal reason people disagree about climate change science is not that it has been communicated to them in forms they cannot understand. Rather, it is that positions on climate change convey values “” communal concern versus individual self-reliance; prudent self-abnegation versus the heroic pursuit of reward; humility versus ingenuity; harmony with nature versus mastery over it “” that divide them along cultural lines.

    But can this be true? Consider the widespread support from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs on climate change. Are their values really “communal concern versus individual self-reliance; prudent self-abnegation versus the heroic pursuit of reward; humility versus ingenuity; harmony with nature versus mastery over it.” Of course not.

    The reality, I would submit, is that the climate change agenda has been rejected by that majority of Americans for a variety of reasons which have been discussed here and elsewhere ad infinitum. Tweaking values won’t fix this.

  • hunter

    The only thing lacking in the climate communication is the truth from the AGW community.

  • andrew adams

    Alex #323

    The process is controlled ultimately by policymakers – they are the ones who will decide on what action (if any) will be taken, both on a global level and within their own countries. The UN, IPCC or climate scientists don’t have any power to dictate policy – scientists such as Hansen or the group you referred to may express a view but there are many other competing views out there. 

  • huxley

    The process is controlled ultimately by policymakers ““ they are the ones who will decide on what action (if any) will be taken, both on a global level and within their own countries.

    However, voters ultimately control who the policymakers are, whether said policymakers will continue to be policymakers, and whether their policies will be funded.

    Maybe ten years ago the climate scientists could have told the policymakers and the policymakers would have made the climate policies, while the voters would have shrugged and said, “Yeah, I guess.”

    But we’re past that now. The voters are riled up and the climate agenda is dead in the water until the voters are persuaded.

    The orthodox enjoy making fun of stupid Republican candidates for denying global warming. I don’t know how well these Republicans understand climate issues, but they do know, what the climate orthodox don’t quite seem to get, that the voters really don’t want the climate agenda and policymakers can’t push those policies top-down without reaping the whirlwind.

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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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