What Happens When the Latest Climate Porn Ends?

By Keith Kloor | July 17, 2012 10:33 am

How inconvenient. I go away on vacation for a few weeks and during that time everybody, it seems, becomes convinced that global warming has struck the earth like the Ten Plagues of Egypt.  So does this mean the message (unabated carbon emissions = climate damnation) finally–finally!–has been received by 1) the media, 2) all earthlings (except faithful readers of WUWT and Climate Depot), 3) President Obama, and 4) China, India et al?

I know you’ve been waiting anxiously for my return so I can answer these crucial questions. I will not disappoint.

But first, let me say that during my vacation I was disconnected from what was happening in major regions across the United States. From June 28 to July 14, me and the family were (mostly) in Northern California, where the skies were blue (except for that charming San Francisco fog), and the weather was calm and comfortable. Now I am aware that I was in some sort of climatic Twilight Zone for two and half weeks, since nearly every morning I’d wake up to headlines in USA Today about the rest of the country being tormented by historic heat waves, power outages, and catastrophic fires. By the end of week one of our vacation, my Google news alert on climate change was ringing with stories that linked all the misery and disasters–either directly or indirectly–to global warming. Sneaking an occasional peek at my twitter feed on July 3 (I took a vow of no blogging or tweeting), I learned from some journalists and Penn State’s Michael Mann that the media was offering up “teachable moments”:

Busy time right now to be a climate scientist–in very good way. ‘Teachable moments’ perfect description of what we have here.

As if on cue, a piece that day in the Associated Press included a quote from the University of Arizona’s Jonathan Overpeck that connected all the heat waves/fires/climate change dots:

This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level.

By week two, while my wife and I were blissfully sampling wines in Napa and Sonoma (we left the kids with my brother for a 24-hour getaway) and all of us were lollygagging in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Yosemite National Park, much of the rest of country was still being choked by unbearable heat and the misery index was climbing. A July 10 Time magazine headline asked:

Now do you believe in global warming?

Unsurprisingly, more people were saying yes. This follows a public opinion survey from two months ago that found Americans had become less concerned about global warming. That was then. We don’t need a pollster to tell us which way the wind blows today.

Or the media. Last week, Joe Romm woke up one day and couldn’t find an itch to scratch. Instead, he wrote that

we have the unprecedented situation of the evening news shows last night on ABC, CBS, and NBC (and PBS) all talking about the link between greenhouse gases and the stunning heat wave.

After returning home and reviewing much of the coverage and punditry that has connected global warming to the most recent extreme weather across the United States, I have to wonder: Is this a turning point in the way climate change is covered in the media? Perhaps more importantly, will this newly heightened and likely brief spike in awareness of global warming move beyond the usual climate porn stage to spur a more constructive discussion on how to reduce greenhouse gases?

Let me rephrase the question I asked at the outset: Do you think that if scientists and the media continue to pound away with the message of climate damnation that this will lead to action on climate change? That President Obama, in a second term, will make climate change his signature issue? That  China and India will agree to curtail their economic growth, and by extension, their carbon emissions? That, absent any of these developments, a great swelling of the masses will rise up and demand politicians to take action?

So more people believe in global warming at this moment in time. Big deal. Let’s talk again in six months. And even then, if the public opinion needle has seriously moved, what does it matter if it doesn’t lead to reality-based discussion about solutions?

CATEGORIZED UNDER: climate change, global warming
  • D. Robinson

    Welcome back Keith – on a topic way more important than ‘climate porn’ – which wineries did you get to?

  • http://bigcitylib.blogspot.com bigcitylib

    You said you were going to answer all these questions and you didn’t.  I feel ripped off.

  • Keith Kloor

    @1

    Thanks, and can’t recall at the moment. I’ll ask Mrs. scape who has a better memory than me.

    @2

    Sorry, I thought it was obvious I was being cheeky. But if you insist: No, no, no, and no.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    What we’re seeing is the roll-out of the latest rebranding campaign by the climerati–the messaging gurus at the big NGOs and the media folk in their Rolodexes.

    It’s not a bad concept–there’s a legitimate message, ‘This is a preview of what could be the future,’ and an easy slide into ‘It’s happening now and you’re going to die’. The visuals slide neatly into a predetermined slot on media channels–hey, they all have weather, so Xtreme Weather has a guaranteed spot.

    But the Grand Overreach, a tactic patented by the Climerati, has already started and it’s easy to see they will blow this opportunity in the same way they’ve blown every other.

    Welcome back.

  • MarkB

    The mainstream media has always been owned by global warming activists – no news there. Each drought/flood/storm/heatwave is written up in an identical fashion. If you do a survey in the middle of a heat wave, people will respond as you wish to your leading questions. As far as I know, these surveys do not ask people: “are you willing to give up your SUV, pay double for electricity, turn down your thermostat five degrees all winter, sell your house and move into the city, raise the income tax 20% to send money to Third World countries to fund their ‘green’ power, etc.  When they do, and they find that people now ‘believe,’ please let us know.

  • Sashka

    Porn and Climerati in one thread – excellent!

    The answer to all your questions is the same – no. But you knew that.

    BTW, the NY area was largely spared. It has been warm but not excessively so.

  • Jarmo

    What happens when the latest climate porn ends?Weather probably turns cold in the US and we will learn that global emissions have grown by a record amount again. Same old.

  • stan

    I note that Mann is claiming deniers already have blood on their hands as global warming is already killing people.  But wait — I thought all the peer reviewed and IPCC work showed that warming was better for a few more decades.  Does this make Mann a “science denier”?  It’s all so confusing.  Especially since cold kills so many more people than are killed by extreme heat.  Keith, Prof. Walter Russell Mead had a post on his viameadia site about the remarkable decline of the Episcopal Church.  It appears that the more political activists seek to strengthen their politics by getting the approval of their church, the more they manage merely to weaken their church.  Lesson in there for the church of climate science.  Credibility matters, especially when you lose it.

  • David Palmer

    Well folks, no global warming talk down under – just a cold, wet winter, but we do have a $23 carbon tax in place for a while at least…

  • http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/ Arthur Smith

    “Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is making progress on climate change.”

    From Grist

    Luckily we (in no small part thanks to actions of the Obama administration) have made a major shift away from coal. Republicans have started talking about carbon taxes. More important than any of the groups you listed, the DC “pundit” class, many of whom lost power for days in sweltering heat with the derecho, have become largely, for the most part, converted on the seriousness of the problem. While I despise their influence on our nation, I welcome the seeming change of heart. We’ll see how long it lasts.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    just came back from a round of golf in Toronto where the temperatures were 44C with humidex factored in. As it happens, this is about the same temperature as in Cairo, Egypt. Before I got my hole-in-one ;) , my friends kept asking me if ‘this is global warming’. Being a wise alarmist, i suggested that they wait until El Nino kicks into high gear…

    Now Keith is a journalist, not a political scientist, but he keeps asking questions that beg a theory of politics to address these questions. I’ll second BCL’s contention that we’re being ripped off. and not just cuz we’re both from Toronto (although I’m from a way cooler neighborhood than he is).

  • Tom Scharf

    Actually I was impressed how little global warming was talked about during most mainstream stories on the heatwave and power outage.  The usual pundits pounded their drums, but overall the issue seemed to be about a weather phenomenon called “summer”, or the weather, not the climate (like we get lectured about every winter).  I think Keith is suffering from several weeks of climate news all at once and misinterpreting the event.  

    If anyone wants to take a vote on Cap and Trade in the House and Senate right now, be my guest.  I’ll wager my money on massive FAIL.  You might want to factor in the latest dreary global and local economic news.

    I spent a week in WV where my parents were without power for 7 days in the middle of a heat wave after a massive “derecho” windstorm took out half the state’s residents.  My parents are hardcore Democrats and I can tell you they were blaming Appalachian Power, not global warming for their misery.

  • Tom Scharf

    @10 “Luckily we (in no small part thanks to actions of the Obama administration) have made a major shift away from coal.”

    I think you can actually thank business as usual in the evil capitalist energy industry with the unforgivable sin of providing a much lower cost of natural gas due to fracking AT NO COST TO THE TAXPAYER for this drop in emissions.  Although I’m sure no-one at Grist will ever be able to come to this conclusion. 

  • Keith Kloor

     Tom Scharf (12)  ”I think Keith is suffering from several weeks of climate news all at once and misinterpreting the event.”This is a fair point. I considered this, especially since there are complaints from some quarters that there hasn’t been enough discussion of climate change in wildlife fire-related stories.But I would say that perhaps it depends on the publications/outlets you are reading. Nationally, I think that by the second week of my vacation, there was a lot climate changed angled stories on the wildfires and heat waves. Perhaps the coverage played out differently locally and regionally.

    Marlowe (11)

    It should be obvious by now that I like to ask questions on this blog. Sorry that you feel ripped off. But you often feel that way after reading my posts, no? Or maybe disatisfied is a better way to put it?Perhaps this is a good time to remind folks that this is personal blog. It’s cost-free to readers. I like having it to think out loud and riff on various issues of the day. If you want fully formed essays or more thought-out posts, more often than not, you’re not going to get them at this site, since that requires more time and it’s not cost-effective for me to do that. Those I’ll do at other places that pay me.Hence you and others are probably right to feel cheated by some of my riffs. All I can say is that I feel I’m cheating myself by continuing to blog the way I do.

  • Joshua

    Do you think that if scientists and the media continue to pound away
    with the message of climate damnation that this will lead to action on
    climate change?

    Keith – is this meant to suggest that the media has up to this point been “pounding away” with the message of climate domination? I haven’t seen that. Not even with the recent extreme weather events. Sure, an occasional story – but even those are generally along the lines of:  No single event can be attributed to climate change, but climate change increases the odds of such events happening, and if it happens this is what we could expect.

    As such, I think that your question is off track. The question is what will happen should extreme weather events continue (not what should happen contingent on what the media does).

    The weather will continue to dictate public attitudes (as it has in the past) and the media will largely follow along or beside public attitude (which is how they sell their products).

    Even assuming AGW theory correct, chances are that extreme events will not be common enough in the near future to drive public opinions so strongly that significant policies will be an outgrowth.

    In the meantime, the climate change junior high school food fight will continue unabated. “Victims” will be found littering the cafeteria floor on both  sides of the battle lines, wringing their hands and rationalizing their behavior with reams of moral equivocation in millions of blog posts.

    In the unlikely event that extreme events continue at a pace (short term) that makes climate change unambiguous, the public will get about the business of looking at policies to adapt, and the “skeptics” will move on to another area where they can continue to whine about being victimized.

  • harrywr2

    Been on the road with the wife for 5 weeks traveling across the US. The only TV has been the weather channel.No climate porn on the weather channel….just some ‘easy to understand’ talk about the effects of back to back LaNina’s.I.E. The jet stream is riding high and dumping lots of water along the northern tier of states and those a bit further south are experiencing ‘hot and dry’. Going east across US Route #2 was quite wet and cool and going west across US Route #20 is quite warm and dry.

  • grypo

    Concise reporting would have noticed that there were two documents released. In the introduction of the “State of the Climate in 2011″ doc, it says:

    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/bams-sotc/climate-assessment-2011-lo-rez.pdf

    This series has been consciously conservative
    with statements of attribution regarding drivers of
    events on the scale of climate variability and change. Only widely-understood and established attribution relationships, such as those for ENSO’s influence, are employed here. However, recognizing emerging demand and utility for event-focused attribution, the Bulletin has decided to publish an annual collection of such analyses, coincident with this series, the first of which was produced this year (Peterson et al. 2012). This allows this series to continue its focus as a chief scorekeeper of the climate’s evolving state.

    Peterson 2012 has the studies that look at fractional attribution to human influences on the events 0f 2011.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00021.1

  • Sashka

    @15

    No single event can be attributed to climate change, but climate change increases the odds of such events happening

    Proof?

  • Joshua

    @18???Do you doubt that given climate change, the odds of significant heat waves are increased?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    And even then, if the public opinion needle has seriously moved, what does it matter if it doesn’t lead to reality-based discussion about solutions? 

    In democracies public support is a necessary precondition for the implementation of ‘reality-based’ solutions isn’t it? If this summer’s extreme weather in North America is increasing public awareness of the reality of climate change that’s a good thing isn’t it?

    Your question seems to suggest that your feeling a little despondent about the situation, while your reply @14 suggests your also feeling a little grumpy.  All in all a little surprising considering you’ve just come back from vacation! Where’s the love and optimism :) ?

    I do appreciate your blogging efforts here Keith even if I don’t always agree with what you say. If I came across as ungracious/rude rather than glib in my response @11 then you have my sincere apologies. 

  • Keith Kloor

    Joshua (15),

    “Even assuming AGW theory correct, chances are that extreme events will not be common enough in the near future to drive public opinions so strongly that significant policies will be an outgrowth.”

    This is my sense, as well. 

    Marlowe (20): 

    “In democracies public support is a necessary precondition for the implementation of “˜reality-based’ solutions isn’t it? If this summer’s extreme weather in North America is increasing public awareness of the reality of climate change that’s a good thing isn’t it?”

    Yes, but see Joshua above.

    If I seem grumpy, it may be because my kids haven’t adjusted to EST. They’re not falling asleep until nearly midnight (We were up late–for them–nearly every night in CA). Driving me bonkers.

    Once they’re back on a normal sleep schedule, I’ll get back to my normal zippy self. Promise. :)

     


     

  • Keith Kloor

    …Oh yeah, and James Dolan, the Knicks idiotic owner, let Jeremy Lin go to the Houston Rockets. Playmakers and point guards with Lin’s court intelligence, work ethic, and upside don’t grow on trees. 

    As a diehard Knick fan, this is killing me. More reason for my hard vacation landing.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    It could be worse. You could be a Leafs fan ;)

  • Sashka

    @19</br></br>Yes I do doubt that. For the record, I doubt everything that is not well supported by the evidence. I hope you don’t mind.</br></br> So, do you have a proof or not?

  • Sashka

    What a piece of crap that editor is. Let me try it again.

    @19

    Yes I do doubt that. For the record, I doubt everything that is not well supported by the evidence. I hope you don’t mind.

    So, do you have a proof or not?

  • huxley

    Welcome back, Keith! Lately I’ve been sitting out the climate wars myself.

    I’d agree that if this were the beginning of a perceptible temperature run-up like the late Nineties — who knows, it could be — we’d see more real discussion of climate issues. But even then I doubt there will be substantial legislation to reduce carbon emissions while most of the world is seriously concerned about economic misery and the prospect of further financial collapse.

  • Joshua

    So, do you have proof or not?Here’s how I’ve come to view such questions. In real life, when people ask rhetorical questions they can sometimes be a useful springboard for an interesting discussion. When they are asked in the blogosphere, they always open the door to a complete waste of time.Apparently you think that if climate change happens (i.e., global warming occurs), the # of heat waves (and thus the odds of heat waves occurring) won’t increase. I feel very strongly that you are entitled to your opinion, but I fail to see the logic in such an opinion – unless your point is the rather banal point that climate change does not necessarily imply global warming. It seems to me that logic dictates that given climate change (assuming that we aren’t discussing a climate change that leads to global cooling), the # of heat waves will increase. Let’s just cut to the chase. If you doubt that climate change is happening, so be it. If you doubt that given climate change, the # of heat waves will increase, why don’t you go ahead an explain to me your reasoning (as it is a mystery to me). I would be interested to read you argument.I see little point in providing “proof” of the sort that you’re requesting. It seems to me that you are obviously completely convinced that no such proof exists – so nothing I could say would suffice as “proof” in your opinion. I see little point in accepting your invitation to do a “gotcha” dance.

  • Joshua

    Dagnabit. Let me try that again:

    So, do you have proof or not?

    Here’s how I’ve come to view such
    questions. In real life, when people ask rhetorical questions they can sometimes be a useful springboard for an interesting discussion. When they are asked in the blogosphere, they always open the door to a
    complete waste of time.

    Apparently you think that if climate change happens (i.e., global warming occurs), the # of heat waves (and thus the odds of heat waves occurring) won’t increase. I feel very strongly that
    you are entitled to your opinion, but I fail to see the logic in such an opinion ““ unless your point is the rather banal point that climate change does not necessarily imply global warming.

    It seems to me that logic dictates that given climate change (assuming that we aren’t discussing a climate change that leads to global cooling), the # of heat waves will increase.

    Let’s just cut to the chase. If you doubt that
    climate change is happening, so be it. If you doubt that given climate change, the # of heat waves will increase, why don’t you go ahead an explain to me your reasoning (as it is a mystery to me). I would be interested to read you argument.

    I see little point in detailing “proof” of the sort that you’re requesting. It seems to me that you are obviously completely convinced that no such proof exists ““ so nothing I could say would suffice as “proof” in your opinion. I would be wasting my time and your time. I see little point in accepting your invitation to do a “gotcha” dance.

  • Sashka

    @28

    Apparently you think that if climate change happens (i.e., global warming occurs), the # of heat waves (and thus the odds of heat waves occurring) won’t increase.

    I suggest that you focus a bit more on what I wrote instead of trying to read my mind. I said I doubt and I meant just that. This means I’m not sure either way – if a translation is indeed required. You on the contrary did express a firm opinion and I’m curious what it is nbased upon. Unfortunately you don’t seem to be inclined to answer. Which is fine. You’re entitled to your beliefs.

    It seems to me that logic dictates that given climate change (assuming that we aren’t discussing a climate change that leads to global cooling), the # of heat waves will increase.

    OK, forget the “proof” as the words is more relevant to hard sciences. How about evidence? The same logic dictates the increased # of hurricanes but the observations don’t confirm it. Is it the case of “let’s not let facts stand in the way of good theory?”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #28,

    Joshua,

    From a certain point of view, all of this is a waste of time. It’s not like anything we say or do here is going to ‘save the world’, is it? It’s more a question of whether we find it interesting/entertaining. If we don’t, there’s no requirement to answer, or to listen.

    But I think in this case thinking about the question would be worth your while. I agree it was a rhetorical question – the point being that while you have heard that global warming is supposed to increase extreme weather you probably/presumably don’t know why. That’s something worth thinking about.

    Extreme weather occurs at the local rather than the global level. At a local level, the distribution is much broader, with extremes 10 C in either direction not unusual. The distribution tails are long, and the data very spiky, noisy and autocorrelated. Locally If the entire distribution is simply shifted to the right 0.8 C, it’s not obvious that any change would or should be noticeable over the noise.

    But there’s no reason to assume the change has to be a simple shift. It could also happen that the minimum rises, while the maximum remains the same. That would also constitute ‘global warming’ but would not result in any increase in heatwaves. It would actually narrow the distribution, reducing the probability of extreme weather. And if you look at long-term records like HadCET (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/data/download.html), you can see that this is what appears to be happening. Compare the interval 1695-1733 when the annual mean temperature gradually rose from 7.25 C to 10.47 C, with the modern period 1963-2006 when the temperature rose from 8.47 C to 10.82 C. The rise is bigger at the bottom.

    Generally, it has been said global warming is expected to affect cold latitudes and night-time minima more, which reduces temperature differences, which are what really drive violent weather. So naively one ought to expect slightly less violent weather. It’s not that simple, however.

    The entire concept is misguided, though. Even if it was true that global warming implied more extreme weather, that doesn’t mean that more extreme weather implies global warming. (‘Confirming the consequent’.) Nor does reporting individual event imply that these are getting more common – it may just be that they are reported more often. If the distribution has changed, then show the distribution, not an endless succession of carefully selected anecdotes.

    In the UK we’ve been getting cold and wet weather, which some people have tried to blame on global warming, too. Actually the weather is perfectly normal – it is a recurrent pattern identified by Carl Rossby back in the 1930s, when the pressure gradient between tropics and poles destabilises the boundary between the Ferrel and polar convection cells, leading to the Rossby waves switching from zonal to meridional flow. That causes blocking highs to form persistent weather patterns that mix warm and cold air masses more deeply between latitude bands. The Russian heat wave a couple of years ago was the same thing, and it’s happened many times before.

    Outside the US, which is after all only about 2% of the Earth’s surface, the temperature is relatively cool.

    This argument seems to be like crack cocaine to climate activists – it doesn’t matter how many times they get a kicking over it, every time there’s some dramatic weather, they can’t resist connecting it to global warming. If it’s warm and dry it’s global warming. If it’s cold and wet it’s either just weather, and those sceptics talking about cooling are being misleading, or alternatively it’s global warming too.

    It means next time it snows heavily, we’ll be able to joke about Al Gore again – because if you connect weather to climate they stay connected. Cold weather is more likely to happen if global warming has stopped, therefore cold weather anecdotes can legitimately be connected to cooling climate stories. It’s the same logic. We’re making notes of what you say now, all the excuses you use to justify connecting weather to climate change again, ready for when we can throw them all back at you next winter. It’ll be fun!

    It’s a dilemma: you can’t get the public engaged without using the tactic, but weather-is-climate stories are a double-edged sword, and suicide for your scientific respectability. In the long run the damage to your cause outweighs the benefits. But I just love the way you guys never seem to learn.

  • Menth

    Oh yeah, and James Dolan, the Knicks idiotic owner, let Jeremy Lin go to
    the Houston Rockets. Playmakers and point guards with Lin’s court
    intelligence, work ethic, and upside don’t grow on trees.

    Unfortunately, these are the kinds of things that are consistent with climate change and we can expect more of in a warming world.

  • Sashka

    Isn’t it nice without trolls?

  • Tom Scharf

    Over 97% of scientists believe that LinSanity’s move out of NY was directly caused by climate change*

    *Self reported poll of all scientists named Menth on KK’s blog, with the term “scientist” defined as whatever is politically convenient at the time.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    #32! Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    “…the point being that while you have heard that global warming is
    supposed to increase extreme weather you probably/presumably don’t know
    why. That’s something worth thinking about.”

    OK – so here I think the problem is one related to language – and as such, probably worth discussing as you say.

    I was referring to more heat waves (my first reference was to “recent extreme weather events,” the “recent” meaning the string of hot weather in the U.S.) – and phenomena directly related to heat waves (fires due to some extent from extremely hot conditions). I was operating under the assumption that with more heat, logically, there will me more successive days in succession of heat above certain temperatures. For example, I live in the Philly area and there we refer to “heat waves” as a measure of greater than three successive days above 90 degrees F.

    Yes – of course it would also be possible that we could have more heat in an absolute sense manifesting as more days of higher low temperatures as opposed to more days with higher highs (or successive days with highs above a certain point). I don’t know enough about the science of AGW to know whether or not the theory predicts, specifically, the former in contrast to the later, but we have read that scientists who think AGW probable have said that the weather we’ve had recently (e.g., far more maxima temperature records set than low temperature records, or than even records of higher lows)  is consistent with what you’d expect from climate change.

    Further, even if global warming translates primarily into higher average lows, it wouldn’t be mutually exclusive with more heat waves (and large numbers of record highs set) as we’ve seen in the U.S. recently; it would stand to reason that even if warming meant higher lows more than it means higher highs, we’d still expect a greater number of higher highs.

    I’ve read much debate from both sides about the relationship between “extreme events,” in a more general sense, and global warming. I get that the “realists” want to tie the prevalence of extreme events to AGW because doing so would be politically expedient. I get that such attribution is considered problematic by many “skeptics,” but I’m not interested in getting suckered into that discussion by someone who misunderstood my opinion (whether due to my poor phrasing or their intent to find fault with my opinion). 

    “From a certain point of view, all of this is a waste of time. It’s not like anything we say or do here is going to “˜save the world’, is it?”

    That seems a bit existential. The condition of saving the world doesn’t seem to me to be terribly congruent (in a practical sense) with whether something is a waste of time. By using the measure of saving the world, I can guess that nothing that you or I have ever done was anything other than a waste of time.

    Yes, in a certain sense all of this is a waste of time. But some blog exchanges at least offer the hope of mutual learning, sharing of perspective, respectful discussion of differences, etc.

    Let me just say that some blog exchanges seem like more of a waste of time than others – whether or not in some deep or completely objective way such a view stands up to reason. Who knows, we might even say that actions that “save the world,” could be considered a waste of time if we want to get philosophical enough. But short of such a philosophical frame, I’ll just say I consider it less of a waste of time to read someone’s opinion so I can clarify how it relates to my own than to be suckered into an argument by a rhetorical question that is most likely only going to end up with someone insulting me.

  • BillC

    bouncing in to point out to NiV and Joshua that NiV’s “naive expectation” of AGW leading to less extremes was a thread I was starting to develop at Lucia’s (another way I put it J, was in terms of heat that the increase in heat waves should be smaller than the increase in warm winter weather, wherever you are). This is trivially true in a world without dynamics but the dynamics – e.g. as in NiV’s example of the CET – are so localized as to make the “slightly informed, naive” POV pretty useless. Still it’s a nice way to try to refute the stupid “more energy loose in the system” argument.

  • BillC

    Sashka – you don’t expect more heat waves? If AGW increases maximum temps at all, anywhere, we’ll have more heat waves. Hurricanes – not the same logic.

  • Joshua

    Also, NiV -

    We’re making notes of what you say now, all the excuses you use to
    justify connecting weather to climate change again, ready for when we
    can throw them all back at you next winter. It’ll be fun!…But I just love the way you guys never seem to learn.

    Having offered the previous clarification, I’ll add another point in response to these excerpts from your comment.One of my repeated points to “skeptics” is that some among the group are hypocrites because they frequently point to short-term patterns in weather as if it disproves AGW. Watts is among the worst. As I recall, one of the first times he called me a troll (before he effectively banned me after falsely leveling an accusation against me and then refusing to post my response elucidating how his accusation was inaccurate) was when I was laughing at the thread he put up about Canadian Harp Seals showing in New England – as if somehow one migratory change for one species somehow says anything significant about large-scale changes in animal migratory patterns. Similarly, he got angry at me for pointing out the hypocritical nature of his posts about unusual snow pack in the Sierra’s, etc. I don’t see “skeptics” waiting around to throw anything back at anyone. They are perfectly capable of specious connections between weather and climate patterns all by themselves. In fact, the ubiquity of that pattern in the blogosphere is a very clear way to see how many, many “skeptics” are not skeptics at all, but combatants. And honestly, the fun you describe in throwing things back at people very much fits with my analogizing the climate debate to a junior high school cafeteria food fight. When I was in junior high, whenever the teachers would start punishing kids for throwing jello mold, they would offer the excuse that the other side started it.I had a bit of a hard time discerning who “you” was referring to in your earlier post – but whether you meant me specifically or me as just a member of some group you have determined I belong to, you should be more careful in your assumptions. (This reminds me of when “skeptics” talk about the claim that the “science is settled,” which is actually a phrase used many times over more frequently by “skeptics” than it was ever used by “realists). One of the ways that I think that the blogospheric climate debate is evidence for seeing how people reason is when smart people make arguments based on incorrect basic assumptions. It seems that only were you mistaken about my association of short-term weather with climate change (which could be explainable by my unclear use of language), but you were also mistaken in extrapolating from what I said to making assumptions about what I think, or have said, more generally.As I understand AGW theory, no weather or climate-related events over the short term (less than 100-200 years?) will “prove” much of anything. That is not to say, however, that it is invalid to state that certain short-term patterns are consistent with climate change. It seems perfectly valid to me to say that more (or longer) heat waves is consistent with that climate change theory would predict, or that with climate change, the odds of hotter, or longer heat waves would be greater. If such statements are invalidly used politically by “realists” or distorted and then used politically by “skeptics,” that does not invalidate the logic.

  • Joshua

    It’s funny how difficult a time I have remembering to re-format before posting. Past experience tells me that trying to fix that problem by copying and pasting and then reposting still leaves formatting problems, but it does result in a somewhat more readable post – so here goes.

    Having offered the previous clarification, I’ll add another point in response to these excerpts from your comment.

    One of my repeated points to “skeptics” is that some among the group are hypocrites because they
    frequently point to short-term patterns in weather as if it disproves AGW. Watts is among the worst. As I recall, one of the first times he called me a troll (before he effectively banned me after falsely
    leveling an accusation against me and then refusing to post my response elucidating how his accusation was inaccurate) was when I was laughing at the thread he put up about Canadian Harp Seals showing in New England ““ as if somehow one migratory change for one species somehow says anything significant about large-scale changes in animal migratory
    patterns.

    Similarly, he got angry at me for pointing out the hypocritical nature of his posts about unusual snow pack in the Sierra’s, etc. I don’t see “skeptics” waiting around to throw anything back at anyone. They are perfectly capable of specious connections between weather and climate patterns all by themselves. In fact, the ubiquity of that pattern in the blogosphere is a very clear way to see how many, many “skeptics” are not skeptics at all, but combatants. And honestly, the fun you describe in throwing things back at people very much fits with my analogizing the climate debate to a junior high school cafeteria food fight. When I was in junior high, whenever the teachers would start punishing kids for throwing jello mold, they would offer the
    excuse that the other side started it.

    I had a bit of a hard time discerning who “you” was referring to in your earlier post ““ but whether
    you meant me specifically or me as just a member of some group you have determined I belong to, you should be more careful in your assumptions. (This reminds me of when “skeptics” talk about the claim that the “science is settled,” which is actually a phrase used many times over more frequently by “skeptics” than it was ever used by “realists). One of the ways that I think that the blogospheric climate debate is evidence for seeing how people reason is when smart people make arguments based on incorrect basic assumptions.

    It seems that only were you mistaken about my association of short-term weather with climate change (which could be explainable by my unclear use of language), but you were also mistaken in extrapolating from what I said to making assumptions about what I think, or have said, more generally.

    As I understand AGW theory, no weather or climate-related events over the short term (less than the next 100-200 years?) will “prove” much of anything. I agree that it isn’t valid to work backwards from short-term patterns to either “prove” or “disprove” climate change. That is not to say, however, that it is invalid to state that certain short-term patterns are consistent with climate change. It seems perfectly valid to me to say that more (or longer) heat waves is consistent with what climate change theory would predict, or that with climate change, the odds of hotter or longer heat waves would be greater. If such statements are then invalidly used politically by “realists” or distorted and then used politically by “skeptics,” that does not invalidate the logic.

  • Joshua

    Billc -

    “…bouncing in to point out to NiV and Joshua that NiV’s “naive expectation” of AGW leading to less extremes”

    Would the “naive expectation” be one of more or fewer extremes?

  • Sashka

    @37

    First of all I don’t agree with this definition of heat wave. The word “wave” has a certain meaning in physics so I am more inclined to count anti-cyclons with max temp over X. But also there is an issue with distribution that was articulated by NiV. GW may or may not be associated with growth of max temps.

  • Sashka

    @35

    I was operating under the assumption that with more heat, logically, there will me more successive days in succession of heat above certain temperatures.

    If you were careful to frame your statement as an assumption then we’d have a different conversation. But you chose to make a statement in 15 in the form that indicated knowledge.

    but we have read that scientists who think AGW probable have said that the weather we’ve had recently (e.g., far more maxima temperature records set than low temperature records, or than even records of higher lows) is consistent with what you’d expect from climate change.

    That’s correct. They do say it. The next step should be then to question why they say instead of just repeating it.

    it would stand to reason that even if warming meant higher lows more than it means higher highs, we’d still expect a greater number of higher highs.

    No. Possibly but not necessarily.

    @39: I feel for you. Shall I recount my experiences with the RC “team”?

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > I will not disappoint.

    As I’m sure Miss Scape is fond to remind you, Keith, promises, promises.

  • Sashka

    @39

    That is not to say, however, that it is invalid to state that certain short-term patterns are consistent with climate change.

    For AGW “theorists” each and every short (and long) term pattern is consistent with climate change. Thus AGW is irrefutable by observations. Which is what elevates it to the status of religion. Some years ago I asked the good RC folks what needs to happen to prove them wrong. Guess what – they didn’t dignify me with a response and eventually banned me.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #35,

    Yes, I’ve heard assertions going both ways, too. I’ve long heard that warming is expected to affect the minimum more than the maximum, and at the same time there’s all this recent stuff about “extremes”. I don’t know what the answer is – as far as I’m concerned it’s a question requiring models accurate at the regional/local/detailed scale, and so far as I know we don’t have any of those. So I regard it as an unknown. It’s one reason why I’m interested when somebody talks about why they expect a particular outcome.

    I’m not saying more extremes aren’t to be expected; it’s a question here of what evidence there is for it, and how much of the recent noise about it is ‘extrapolation’ (to use a polite word for it).

    #37,

    Again, not necessarily. If you increase maxima in winter and not in summer, you’ll meet those conditions without more heatwaves.

    And it’s worth separating the two questions – ‘Do we expect more heatwaves in 2100?’ is distinct from ‘Do we expect more heatwaves now?‘ It’s possible the the answer to the first might be ‘yes’, while the answer to the second was ‘no’.

    #38,

    I understand how you feel. And I have to say I’m sure run-of-the-mill sceptics are less than perfect in this regard. Some of their annoyance with you may be because they’re fitting you into the common pattern – media connects weather to climate, climate scientists shrug; sceptics connect cold weather to climate, sometimes even with obvious irony, and they get a lecture on how stupid and unscientific (or deceptive and evil) they’re being. It’s annoying.

    And if you pop up just at that moment to lecture them on how foolish they’re being, they’ll be annoyed. It might be because they’ve accepted the logic that you can read climate change in the weather, or it might be because they’re tired of having to explain the joke. I’m pretty sure Watts is well aware that weather is not climate, and that includes cold weather. But maybe for those more into the battle for hearts and minds than dispassionate scientific enquiry, they’re not about to give up such a dishonourable-but-effective weapon without any reciprocity. Maybe the people who don’t like it could devote some of their efforts to making sure such dissenting polemicists don’t have the excuse?

    #40,

    The naive expectation would be believing you can generalise about something so dependent on local conditions and unknowns.

    Probably, some places will get more, some places will get less. That’s often the way.

  • Joshua

    NiV -

    “Some of their annoyance with you may be because they’re fitting you into
    the common pattern ““ media connects weather to climate, climate
    scientists shrug;”

    Sure. But much of that annoyance is self-inflicted – with me specifically and with what they identify as the “common pattern.” Again, the notion of “the science is settled” is a case in point. Very few scientists, if any, have actually said that – yet it is a statement that: (1) is used to characterize what virtually all SWTTCCIHALA (scientists who think that climate change is happening and likely anthropogenic) say and, (2) is treated in a binary way to score points rather than in a way that examines what it might actually was meant to express on those rare times it has been used (which is certainly variable and debatable rather than monolithic). That kind of over-identification of the “common pattern” is part of the problem, IMO, and should be a primary focus/starting assumption, as much as reasonably possible,  for anyone who self-identifies as a skeptic. And anyone who self-identifies as a skeptic should welcome feedback that might suggest evidence that they’ve found patterns where they don’t exist.I have been told, many, many times in the climate blogosphere what I do or don’t think by people who have no actual idea of what I do or don’t think.

    “Again, not necessarily. If you increase maxima in winter and not in summer, you’ll meet those conditions without more heatwaves.”

    Ok, and again, those two conditions are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I’d guess that while there could be an imbalance between winter and summer increases, or more higher lows and fewer higher highs, there would still be more higher highs and some of them in the summer. What is the likelihood of identifiable maxima increases in winter and zero maxima increases in summer, or warmer average lows in the summer without any increases in average highs (on a global or even local scale)?

  • Sashka

    I have been told, many, many times in the climate blogosphere what I do or don’t think by people who have no actual idea of what I do or don’t think.

    Is this why you’re acting the same way?

  • Menth

    @33 hah!

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    I have been told, many, many times in the climate blogosphere what I do or don’t think by people who have no actual idea of what I do or don’t think. Joshua, is it the message, the messenger or the audience?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #46,

    I would tend to agree that very few scientists who know what they’re talking about have said “the science is settled” – which is sort of the point. When you’re vociferously arguing against people who insist that 97% of all scientists do say “the science is settled”, it’s very easy to confuse other people arguing with you with that group. Just as I’ve frequently been told what I believe, as a ‘denier’, and who I’m funded by and what my motivations are. It’s par for the course.

    It’s easy to shrug and ask, well if you agree with me the science is not settled, why are we arguing? It’s much the same as pointing out that most sceptics do believe the global mean temperature has increased, and that CO2 contributes. I don’t ‘deny’ climate (whatever that means), I don’t ‘deny’ global warming, I don’t ‘deny’ that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or that the greenhouse effect is real physics. But the stereotypes do serve a purpose, in that they are convenient reference points from which you can define one’s actual position. Start by assuming they are typical of their group, and then wait for them to object, and refine their position.

    Sceptics are hardly monolithic either.

    Regarding the maxima and minima, the issue is not whether it happens, it’s whether it is a logical necessity from the premises. Do rises in maximum temperatures anywhere and anywhen necessarily require that there be more heat waves? No. Does that mean I’m saying there are no more heat waves? No again. But the point is you have to collect the statistics and present them to prove the point, you can’t just deduce it from the very existence of global warming.

    As I said, if you look at one long term record of temperatures – HadCET – one finds that the maxima do appear to have increased slightly, but the bulk of the effect is in the reduction in frequency of very cold weather. (Although the error bars must be considerable.) I can’t say whether England is typical in this respect, but it is at least a logical possibility. The distribution could become narrower. So should it? I don’t know.

  • Tom Scharf

    Joshua,

    Just for the record, please enlighten us what you would consider NOT to be consistent with climate change.  

    It’s a serious question.  

    A valid criticism of AGW is that they have thrown an unsupportable and unfalsafiable blanket over all weather conditions.  The “consistent with” meme has been way overplayed to the point of it being consider simply a political talking point, not a scientific statement.

    Am I to tally up consecutive days of “typical” weather as a counter example?  What weather patterns do you consider inconsistent with AGW?  

  • Joshua

    “But the stereotypes do serve a purpose, in that they are convenient reference points from which you can define one’s actual position. Start by assuming they are typical of their group, and then wait for them to object, and refine their position.”

    I have to say – I disagree almost completely with this. I think that the stereotypes are almost completely useless for discussions with an individual although I do think that they are useful for understanding the entirety of the political dimensions of the debate and for understanding how people reason about issues/science that overlaps with social, political, and cultural identification.

    Locating a person you’re engaging with within a matrix of stereotypes makes them an abstraction, and is useless for little other than confirming biases, IMO. It’s defining them by what they’re not. It’s like when teachers can only evaluate students by comparing them to other students (via standardized, norm-based testing) – an exercise that may be useful for looking at large-scale patterns to inform pedagogy but which is pretty much useless for telling you how to help that individual student grow. Instead of seeking to find out how I match your preconceived stereotypes so that you can fit me into your preconstructed patterns, ask me what I think, work with me to share insight and understanding, use me to help inform your own perspective. Such a process will create a much more accurate picture of who I am.

    Think of the example provided to use by Tom Fuller a few threads ago, who decided that I have no understanding of reality after a short exchange with me in a couple of posts. He’s never met me. He has no idea of my life history. He has read a few of my posts on a very limited topic, from that localized me within a precontructed constellation that is entirely two-dimensional, and determined that he knows fundamental attributes of my character. Of what use could that possibly be, really, other than to confirm his biases?

    On another issue – I  never said that “skeptics” are monolithic.I don’t think that I have not said anything that would suggest that (although apparently you think that I have done so).  So then the question is why you think you need to inform me of such? Maybe we should discuss it.

    I will say, however, it interesting that I have found in the past that “skeptics” think they need to inform me that as a group the are not monolithic when, often, those very same “skeptics” tell me at other times what “skeptics” (as a group) do and don’t think, or what does or doesn’t motivated “skeptics” as a group. A good example of that is when Watts says that “skeptics” aren’t monolithic and then goes on to say that (did he say 90%?) most “skeptics” don’t doubt that the earth is warming when actually he has made statements indicating the he feels that way and when I read in the threads of his site how many “skeptics,” over and over, criticize any of the methodologies that have been used to quantify any degree of global warming. I have also read thread after thread at his site comprised of comment after comment doubting whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    Now please note – I don’t include that last paragraph to suggest an understanding on my part about how you view the science or to suggest hypocrisy on your part, but to comment more generally on how I have witnessed hypocrisy amongst “skeptics” w/r/t the specific points that you raised. I’m wondering whether despite your acknowledgement of some hypocrisy amongst “skeptics,”  you also see some reason to defend against that hypocrisy in ways that don’t seem to me to be fully open.

    “Do rises in maximum temperatures anywhere and anywhen necessarily require that there be more heat waves? No. Does that mean I’m saying there are no more heat waves? No again. But the point is you have to collect the statistics and present them to prove the point, you can’t just deduce it from the very existence of global warming.”

    OK – we can’t just deduce it. But it seems to me that it is entirely logical to conclude that it is highly probable (as I have discussed – even if global warming meant more warming in the winter than in the summer, or warmer average minimum temperatures relative to average maximum temperatures). But, (1) I haven’t seen anything from what you’ve argued to question that probability and (2), there is no statistical way to reach “proof,” nor would it be possible for me to offer convincing proof to a climate combatant. That isn’t to say that gathering statistical evidence isn’t useful or important for establishing probability more effectively. Not to say that your points aren’t useful for understanding better the parameters of the probability.

    But I’ll go back to my earlier question to Sashka: Do you doubt that given climate change, the odds of significant heat waves are increased?

    His previous misunderstanding of my point, (and I suspect yours as well), I think was derived from him treating me as an abstracted stereotype, (one of those “warmists” who misunderstands the probabilities of extreme weather), based on him wanting to fit me into preconstructed patterns of how he’s argued in the past.  I wouldn’t doubt that my unclear language also played a role, but when you’re wandering around with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

  • Sashka

    I have also read thread after thread at his site comprised of comment after comment doubting whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    My memory fails. Do you have specific examples?

    His previous misunderstanding of my point, (and I suspect yours as well), I think was derived from him treating me as an abstracted stereotype

    I don’t think so. I just took your point at face value and asked you elaborate. I treat everyone the same in that respect.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, the nice thing about stereotypes is that they are easy to counter. If you’re not in the same class as others who are labeled trolls (because of behaviour more than stated beliefs), well hey–I’ll apologize. 

    I don’t want to set a benchmark of information that you would have to provide to change anyone’s mind. But what would change my mind is clear and simple engagement on the issues dealt with in a blog post or those that develop organically from subsequent discussion.

    I would nominate Tom Scharf’s very clear question in comment 51:Just for the record, please enlighten us what you would consider NOT to be consistent with climate change.  

    This post is about media reporting of extreme weather as evidence of climate change. Mr. Scharf’s question is very much on topic.

    You can if you wish continue to speculate about Anthony Watts and his beliefs on related topics (hint: I know the guy and you need to re-evaluate.) Or you can participate in the normal back and forth of the topic.

    I believe that extreme weather can only be related to anthropogenically caused climate change as a preview of coming attractions and that the media is being once again led down a primrose path to inaccurate coverage of what is happening. Happy to discuss.

  • Bobito

    Nevermind… nothing to see here… It’s 3:30PM on July 20th in NYC and it’s 62F degrees.  Whew… glad we don’t have to worry about AGW anymore… ;)

  • Nullius in Verba

    #52,

    “(although apparently you think that I have done so)”

    Do I?

    Actually, all I meant was that we have reason to understand what you mean, since we suffer from the same effect all the time. As I said, I don’t “˜deny’ climate, I don’t “˜deny’ global warming, I don’t “˜deny’ that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, or that the greenhouse effect is real physics. But I still have to explain all that to people who think that that’s what sceptics believe. And I can’t honestly say that there aren’t any such sceptics, just as you can’t honestly say there aren’t any of the ‘climate concerned’ who truly believe the science is settled, and that disaster is certain. Both sides contain a huge range of differing views, often as much at odds with those nominally on the same ‘side’, with little coherence or organisation.

    It hadn’t been my intention to say you had done so, but now that you mention it (and without intending to score any points), when you say “but to comment more generally on how I have witnessed hypocrisy amongst “skeptics””, who are these “skeptics”? Are they all individuals whose views you have individually assessed over many interactions, confirming that each individually has been inconsistent in their expressed views? Or did you just lump them all together?

    Do you see what I mean? It’s impossible to avoid doing it. I agree it causes problems, and it’s good to try to resist it, but you can’t convey the entirety of a person’s beliefs and values in all their subtle nuances in a blog comment, which means most of the time we’re having to guess.

    There’s no inconsistency between believing that the climate periodically warms and cools, with the most recent history having warmed, and believing that we don’t have that warming quantified nearly as accurately and with as little systematic bias as is sometimes claimed. And there’s no inconsistency between thinking recent warming is probable, and demanding higher standards of evidence and scientific integrity in demonstrating it. I can understand why you would assume that there is, but that’s because what people say is often a simplified, condensed version of a more complicated position.

    We can only hope to approach mutual understanding, with patience.

    I haven’t dug deeply into this particular question, but a few people have actually been compiling statistics on those heat waves. Without making any comment on whether I believe or disbelieve that graph, this is the sort of thing you have to talk about if you want to make claims about the increasing number of heat waves. Don’t appeal to our intuitive expectations of what global warming ought to do, don’t present individual examples and anecdotes, show us some statistics, and the data. If the claim is that the odds have changed, calculate the odds. That’s not to say we won’t still argue and criticise and nitpick, but at least we would then be arguing about the right thing.

  • Joshua

    Actually, all I meant was that we have reason to understand what you
    mean, since we suffer from the same effect all the time.

    I don’t really consider it “suffering.” That seems a bit dramatic to me.

    And I can’t honestly say that there aren’t any such sceptics, just as you can’t honestly say there aren’t any of the “˜climate concerned’ who truly believe the science is settled, and that disaster is certain.

    I’d never be tempted to do so. I think that the specious reasoning is well represented on both sides. I happen to focus on pointing out non-skeptical reasoning amongst “skeptics.”

    Both sides contain a huge range of differing views, often as much at odds with those nominally on the same “˜side’, with little coherence or organisation.

    Again, I never stated, nor thought, otherwise. I don’t know why you seem to feel that it’s necessary to repeat it to me.

    It hadn’t been my intention to say you had done so, but now that you mention it (and without intending to score any points), when you say
    “but to comment more generally on how I have witnessed hypocrisy amongst “skeptics””, who are these “skeptics”? Are they all individuals whose
    views you have individually assessed over many interactions, confirming that each individually has been inconsistent in their expressed views?
    Or did you just lump them all together?

    Individuals – assessed over multiple interactions (not sure I’d say “many), and often after providing opportunities for correction of specious reasoning. The same characteristic would be applicable to any particular group. And with any particular group, I would expect the same kind of defensiveness about such hypocrisy that I’ve witnessed, over and over, at “skeptical” websites.

    Do you see what I mean? It’s impossible to avoid doing it. I agree it causes problems, and it’s good to try to resist it, but you can’t convey the entirety of a person’s beliefs and values in all their subtle nuances in a blog comment, which means most of the time we’re having to
    guess.

    You can ask for clarification. You can enter conversations with a reinforced intent to learn, to earnestly explore opinions of others rather than to confirm biases.

    There’s no inconsistency between believing that the climate periodically warms and cools, with the most recent history having
    warmed, and believing that we don’t have that warming quantified nearly as accurately and with as little systematic bias as is sometimes claimed.

    Let’s take that one at a time. (1) Who doubts that the climate periodically warms and cools? (2) Sure, minimization of systemic bias is a pitfall we should all be on guard for. I think that climate scientists (on the whole), **like all humans**, should be more diligent in that regard. What I reject is the view, that I often see at “skeptical” websites, that climate scientists (or liberals, or environmentalists, etc.) are selectively subject to those biases. Further, I have also seen, over and over at “skeptical” websites, mischaracterization of the extent to which climate scientists do recognize problems in quantifying uncertainty.

    And there’s no inconsistency between thinking recent warming is probable, and demanding higher standards of evidence and scientific integrity in demonstrating it.

    I wouldn’t think that there is. Quantifying uncertainty is the name of the game.

    I can understand why you would assume that there is, but that’s because what people say is often a simplified,condensed version of a more complicated position.

    I can’t quite get what you’re saying there.

    We can only hope to approach mutual understanding, with patience.

    No disagreement

    I haven’t dug deeply into this particular question, but a few people have actually been compiling statistics on those heat waves. Without making any comment on whether I believe or disbelieve that graph, this is the sort of thing you have to talk about if you want to make claims about the increasing number of heat waves. Don’t appeal to our intuitive
    expectations of what global warming
    ought to do, don’t present individual examples and anecdotes, show us some statistics, and the data. If the claim is that the odds have changed, calculate the odds.
    That’s not to say we won’t still argue and criticise and nitpick, but at least we would then be arguing about the right thing.

    I am very comfortable with the logical postulation that with global warming, an increase in the # of heat waves is entirely probable, even if that phenomenon might be less significant than increases in average minimums, or increases in winter temperatures. I’m open to viewing data that could support different conclusions. I’m open to logical arguments that show a higher probability of a different sort of manifestation of global warming. I’m open to evidence and arguments that not only would other phenomena be more probable, they’d also occur mutually exclusive to the possibility of more heatwaves. As a separate issue, I’m open to discussions of whether or not an increase in heatwaves comprises or implies or would necessarily be accompanied by increases in “extreme weather events.” I’m not appealing to your intuitive understanding of anything. I’m not a scientist.  I don’t have the knowledge, intelligence, or skills to collect the relevant statistics and perform the analysis. If you doubt that an increase in heatwaves would accompany global warming, show me the evidence use to base your doubts. I’ll do my best to understand it. The graph you linked seems fairly crude for drawing conclusions. How does it reflect anomalous weather patterns? How reliable are the data that were collected?  Where’s the trend line? What would the CI or error bars for the line be? If my assumptions about the logic related to this issue are wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.

  • Sashka

    I guess that does it.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Joshua,

    As I councelled BBD a while back when he first entered the waters here, productive discussion with the resident ‘trolls’ here is as fruitless as it is elsewhere. I admire BBD’s tenacity to date, as I do yours, but frankly, I hope it doesn’t diminish the contribution that either of you make to a more reasonable discussion among the reality-based community. I’m inclined to think that both of your talents are being wasted dealing with the solipsists/denialists/obfuscacionists etc. There is, after all, only so many hours in the day.

  • Steve Mennie

    Well said, Marlowe..

  • Joshua

    Marlowe -

    In my experience, the labeling of troll, sophist, obfuscationist, etc., is very subjective. In fact, as I recall, BBD and I tangled a while back. Up to a certain point, I’m willing to engage with folks if they seem willing to exchange opinions in good faith – and I’ll leave the labeling to others.

    I’m experimenting to see if there is any point with exchanging views with people I disagree with but who may not be singularly motivated by jello-flinging.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #57,

    “I think that the specious reasoning is well represented on both sides. I happen to focus on pointing out non-skeptical reasoning amongst “skeptics.””

    That was my point. We also think specious reasoning is well-represented on both sides, we just happen to focus on pointing out specious reasoning by climate scientists, activists, policy-makers, and the like. It’s partisan to be so selective, but not necessarily hypocritical.

    “What I reject is the view, that I often see at “skeptical” websites, that climate scientists (or liberals, or environmentalists, etc.) are selectively subject to those biases.”

    And again, I reject the view that only conservatives and climate sceptics are subject to those biases, while liberals and climate scientists are immune – and I see a lot of that too. It’s partisan to point one out and not the other, and erroneous to believe in one and not the other, but it’s only hypocritical if you know you’re doing yourself what you criticise others for.

    Personally, I don’t much care about it. People are people – an amazing mixture of intelligence and stupidity, bias and partisan illogic, high principles, selfishness, implacable hatred and indifference and deeply caring love and respect for one another. Against the complex background that is man, a little hypocrisy is to be expected.

    It’s only my business when it impinges on public policy – when I’m to be made to do things I don’t want to do because of someone else’s belief that their opinions should override mine. It’s not why I disagree with them, but it is why I care enough to argue. As a result, I tend to apply different standards to different people – for example distinguishing government-influencing bureaucrat-scientists from the blog rabble – just as I apply different standards to my professional work compared to my blog commenting. Yes, there are a lot of strange views expressed on the internet – should I worry?

    “The graph you linked seems fairly crude for drawing conclusions. How does it reflect anomalous weather patterns? How reliable are the data that were collected?  Where’s the trend line? What would the CI or error bars for the line be?”

    Those are exactly the right sort of questions. They’re the same questions we ask when people say – and take it for granted that it is obvious – that global warming will cause more extreme weather disasters, and that the recent heatwave in America is a part of that.

    Such questions are not a “‘gotcha’ dance”. You ask to find out if the assertion is well-founded. You ask to get people to think. It would have been simplicity itself to say you don’t know, you haven’t dug deeply into the data or really thought about it, but it’s what you read in the newspapers and sounds plausible enough – is there any reason to doubt it? Everyone knows where they are, then.

  • Barry Woods

    50# some new thoughts on how the ’97% of scientists’ phrase is misused.http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

  • Bob Koss

    For those who might be interested. A couple years ago the EPA created a heatwave index for the US. It is no contest when it comes to the period with the most extreme heat in the last century. Far and away the worst was the 1930s.  http://www.epa.gov/climate/climatechange/pdfs/print_heat-waves.pdf

  • Nullius in Verba

    Thanks Bob! That’s interesting!

    “The recent period of increasing heat is distinguished by a rise in extremely high nighttime temperatures.”

  • Sashka

    Looking forward for “reality-based community” reaction to 64.

  • Tom Scharf

    @56 NiV

    The expectation on a running series of “Daily Maximums” in a stable climate is that over time the maximums would decrease (exponentially?) over time.  The fact that they aren’t (data is a bit messy here…) in this graph suggests that average high temperature is increasing, which we know to be the case.

    It’s similar to why so many Super Bowl records are set every year.  With so few total games in the set, and so many measurements, it would be highly unusual for no records to be set.  However when Super Bowl  500 rolls around (assuming we survive Climate Armageddon), it will be a lot harder to set a record.  Thus, the # records set naturally decreases over time, all things being equal, which they aren’t.

    Of course if more sites have been added to the set as time increases, or other factors are included, YMMV.

    If temperatures have increased 0.8C over the last 100 years, one would expect more daily highs to be set now “than statistically expected had average temperatures not increased”.  This difference should be measurable.  

    In the end, so what?  It’s fairly academic.

    It is the extrapolation of the heating trend by climate models that is meaningful, not a 0.8C temperature rise, which is not very scary by itself. It is this extrapolation that is the heart of the question, and which does not stand up well to tests by observation / validation.

  • Bob Koss

    I suspect the increased usage of asphalt and concrete is the main cause of higher nighttime temperatures. Along with more readings commonly be taken in airflow from runways. Both A&C are denser and get hotter than other natural surfaces and may not have sufficient time after dark to cool as much as more natural surfaces of the past.   

  • Nullius in Verba

    #67,

    I don’t think they’re records for up to that point in time. They’re records for the entire period.

    But it’s a good thought. It’s not something most people would think of.

  • BBD

    Hot NH summers on the increase? But of course. Here’s the relevant pretty picture.

    And the summary of Public perception of climate change and the new climate dice, Hansen, Sato, Ruedy (2012); emphasis added:

    Should the public be able to recognize that climate is changing, despite the notorious variability of weather and climate from day to day and year to year? We investigate how the probability of unusually warm seasons has changed in recent decades, with emphasis on summer, when changes are likely to have the greatest practical effects. We show that the odds of an unusually warm season have increased greatly over the past three decades, but also the shape of the frequency distribution has changed so as to enhance the likelihood of extreme events. A new category of hot summertime outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than climatology, has emerged, with the occurrence of these outliers having increased 1-2 orders of magnitude in the past three decades. Thus we can state with a high degree of confidence that extreme summers, such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, are a consequence of global warming, because global warming has dramatically increased their likelihood of occurrence.

    We illustrate observed variability of seasonal mean surface air temperature anomalies in units of standard deviations, including comparison with the normal distribution (“bell curve”) that the lay public may appreciate. We take 1951-1980 as an appropriate base period, because temperatures then were within the Holocene range to which humanity and other planetary life are adapted.

    [...]

    The frequency of occurrence of local summer-mean temperature anomalies was close to the normal distribution in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in both hemispheres (Fig. P1A, B). However, in each subsequent decade the distribution shifted toward more positive anomalies, with the positive tail (hot outliers) of the distribution shifting more than the negative tail.

  • BBD

    And to beat the spam filter, the link to the paper.

  • Nullius in Verba

    #67,

    “The expectation on a running series of “Daily Maximums” in a stable climate is that over time the maximums would decrease (exponentially?) over time.”

    Since it’s an interesting question…

    With an n year sequence of values, the probability of the maximum being the last one in the list is 1/n.

  • Joshua

    #62 –

    NiV,

    When you speak of “we,” who are you referring to?

  • Joshua

    As for the relevance of past records w/r/t the discussion of heat waves – It seems to me that past records are problematic in a variety of ways if you’re trying to infer whether they demonstrate that an increased # of heat waves would accompany global warming. Past data might be interesting, but are pretty limited as a valid measure of what we were discussing.

    But if you’re inclined to infer from past records (to infer whether more heat waves would accompany global warming), it would seem that useful data would be those which indicate whether there are any trends in the relative balance of heat waves to cold snaps over time, and in particular whether that balance/imbalance shifts in correlation to trends in average temperatures over time. Presumably, the problems with those data would be relatively equal in recording heat and cold trends/waves/snaps, and presumably hot and cold anomalous weather would more or less even out over time.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -Can I hazard a guess that when you first started on this thread you thought it obvious that higher GMT would mean more heat waves.  I think Sashka and NiV have shown, first, that they have a pretty sophisticated understanding of this topic, and second, that there are many possible outcomes.  But, the thing you should take away is that “we don’t know”.  If you go over to Roger Pielke Sr’s blog and read the last dozen or so posts, you will know why “we don’t know”, since he has collected peer-reviewed articles over the last month or so that show that climate models cannot make accurate regional predictions.  It will be many years before we learn what the effect of increasing GMT is.  In the meantime, we don’t know.

  • Joshua

    Tom C -

    When I started commenting on the thread, I assumed it logical to think that with global warming, the odds heat waves occurring will increase. I’ve seen nothing from NiV, (and certainly not from Sashka), to make me change that perspective.

    It seems from what NiV has provided, there’s reason to think that with global warming, it is possible (although I haven’t seen anything to conclude probable) that there might be proportionally more increase in higher average lows than higher average highs, or more higher temps in winter than summer, etc. -  but that doesn’t mean that the odds of heat waves aren’t increased.

    Do I think it absolutely certain that in this particular region there will be more heat waves along with global warming? No (and certainly not on any human-scale time span). I realized when I started commenting on the thread that the effects of global warming would vary by region. Everything I’ve read from SWTTCCIHALAs suggests variability in impact by region. Do I think it absolutely certain that with global warming there will necessarily be, at least in some region of the planet, more heat waves? No. Not even that. I said that the odds more of heat waves occurring would be increased. That’s what I said. Such a statement does not imply that we know everything. Uncertainty is built in. I followed it with a comment that (even assuming global warming) I wouldn’t expect a rate of increase in extreme events to be unambiguous for 100 years at an absolute minimum.

    Where do you disagree?

  • Sashka

    I said that the odds more of heat waves occurring would be increased.

    This is based on nothing but your “logic”. Did you look at the link in 64?

    Notice that increased odds translate into greater occurrence over time, by definition. Thus claiming that your statement is materially different from predicting more heat waves is false.

    I wouldn’t expect a rate of increase in extreme events to be unambiguous for 100 years at an absolute minimum.

    Could you translate that to English?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Joshua, I for one am still curious as to how you would respond to Tom Scharf in #51:

    Just for the record, please enlighten us what you would consider NOT to be consistent with climate change. 

  • Sashka

    The picture linked @ 70 conveniently doesn’t include 30-s, thus it’s not very interesting.

    Also, pay attention to the remarkable logic of the great scientist. What he says is this: we observed some trend (over a small part of the planet and only in summer) over the last 60 years, therefore it’s a consequence of global warming. Why would anyone consider an alternative hypothesis, right? Who needs analysis when the conclusion is known beforehand?

  • BBD

    The picture linked @ 70 conveniently doesn’t include 30-s, thus it’s not very interesting.

    Ah, Sashka, lazy as ever. Had you bothered to read the Hansen paper you would have learned many things.

    At p. 12, for example, you would have found the response to your irrelevant fixation on the US heatwaves in the 1930s.

    Just so we don’t forget, the US (specifically, the contiguous US) is *not* a proxy for the entire planet. The contiguous US accounts for ~1.5% of the area of the globe. But there is more. Read and learn!

    Hansen Fig 7: Hot area percentage in summer 1900 – 2011

    [p 12 ff:]

    A longer time scale and regional detail. Jun-Jul-Aug data on a longer time scale, 1900-present, including results averaged over the 48 contiguous states of the United States, are shown in Fig. 7. The small area of the 48 states (less than 1.6% of the globe) causes temperature anomalies for the United States to be very “noisy”. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the long-term trend toward hot summers is not as pronounced in the United States as it is in hemispheric land as a whole. Also note that the extreme summer heat of the 1930s, especially 1934 and 1936, is comparable to the most extreme recent years.

    Large regional anomalies are of interest, but let us first note that the extreme anomalies of the 1930s and 1940s do not obviate the conclusion that recent global warming, with high probability, is responsible for recent extreme anomalies. In the Supporting Information we show maps of temperature anomalies for six years with the greatest “hot” area (1931, 1934, 1936, 1941, 1947, 1953). Those years were warmer (globally and in the United States) than the 1951-1980 mean, so it is not surprising that the area with 3σ anomalies was greater than in the 1951-1980 climatology. The largest area of 3σ anomalies was in 1941, when it reached 2.7% of the land area. This compares with recent values as great as 20% and an average about 10%.

    Year-to-year variability, which is mainly unforced weather variability, is so large for an area the size of the United States that it is perhaps unessential to find an “explanation” for deviations from the global trend. However, the interpretation matters, because, if the lesser warming in recent years is a statistical fluke, the United States may have in store a relatively rapid trend toward more extreme anomalies. If it is not a fluke, and if the basis for a reduced effect continues, it may continue to be difficult to garner support in the U.S. for climate mitigation.

    Some researchers have suggested that the high summer temperatures and drought in the United States in the 1930s can be accounted for by sea surface temperature patterns plus natural variability (16, 17) Other researchers (18-20), have presented evidence that agricultural changes (plowing of the Great Plains) and crop failure in the 1930s contributed to changed surface albedo, aerosol (dust) production, high temperatures, and drying conditions. Also empirical evidence and climate simulations (20, 21) suggest that agricultural irrigation has a significant regional cooling effect. Such regionally-varying effects could be partly responsible for differences between observed regional temperature trends and the global trend.

    Mystifyingly, you go on to say this:

    Also, pay attention to the remarkable logic of the great scientist. What he says is this: we observed some trend (over a small part of the
    planet and only in summer) over the last 60 years, therefore it’s a consequence of global warming. Why would anyone consider an alternative
    hypothesis, right? Who needs analysis when the conclusion is known beforehand?

    This is clueless dreck. May I suggest actually RTFL?

  • Sashka

    Mystifying it is only if didn’t think about it. But an attempt to comprehend was not expected from you, so everything is in order. Troll is back, life goes on.

  • Sashka

    let us first note that the extreme anomalies of the 1930s and 1940s do not obviate the conclusion that recent global warming, with high probability, is responsible for recent extreme anomalies.

    Surely, th calculation of this “high” probability is included in the paper and the value of this probability is given, right?

  • Nullius in Verba

    #79,

    Plus, it’s not actually plotting heatwaves, nor the true spread of temperature anomalies.

    The description of how it’s calculated is unscientifically vague, but I think what they’re doing is taking for each gridcell the mean anomaly for a certain season averaged over a full 11 years. Then the histogram is the frequency of gridcells with that anomaly. It’s hard to get a feeling for the magnitude because they’ve normalised it by dividing by the sample standard deviation. I have a suspicion that’s because otherwise it would become obvious that the spread was far narrower than the normal variability of weather, which would lead people to ask questions.

    But essentially, the graph could be intepreted to say the area of the world experiencing warm decades has increased. Precisely what this means for the frequency of heatwaves as such is unclear. Increases in minimum summer temperatures would have the same effect. Certainly, the conclusions drawn by the authors are unjustified, but that’s not exactly unexpected here, is it?

    I would have argued earlier, but I really couldn’t be bothered getting dragged back in again.

  • BBD

    How… instructive. Here’s a study, drawing on observational data, that demonstrates that the global area affected by JJA anomalies > 3σ is increasing:

    A remarkable feature of Fig. 3 is the large brown area (anomalies > 3σ), which covered between 4% and 13% of the world in the six years 2006-2011. In the absence of climate change, and if temperature anomalies were normally distributed, we would expect the brown area to cover only 0.1-0.2% of the planet. The upper row in Fig. 3, the temperature anomalies in a mid-year of each of the three decades in the period of climatology, confirms that such extreme anomalies were practically absent in that period. Occurrence of extreme anomalies (> +3σ) in recent years is more than an order of magnitude greater than during the period of climatology, 1951-1980.

    The authors suggest that:

    The increase, by more than a factor 10, of area covered by extreme hot summer anomalies (> +3σ ) reflects the shift of the anomaly distribution in the past 30 years of global warming, as shown succinctly in Fig. 4. One implication of this shift is that the extreme summer climate anomalies in Texas in 2011, in Moscow in 2010, and in France in 2003 almost certainly would not have occurred in the absence of global warming with its resulting shift of the anomaly distribution. In other words, we can say with a high degree of confidence that such extreme anomalies would not have occurred in the absence of global warming.

    Nullius’ gloss on this is what I would call an accusation of systematic scientific misconduct:

    Certainly, the conclusions drawn by the authors are unjustified, but that’s not exactly unexpected here, is it?

    The d-word is frowned upon, I know, but really.

  • Sashka

    I am interested in the calculation of probability. People who talk about high probability without computing it are worth their weight in you know what.

    The increase, by more than a factor 10, of area covered by extreme hot summer anomalies (> +3σ ) reflects the shift of the anomaly distribution in the past 30 years of global warming

    And therefore it’s because of global warming. Beautiful stuff. Real science.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -
    I wouldn’t expect a rate of increase in extreme events to be unambiguous for 100 years at an absolute minimum.

    So, I think what you are saying is that you agree with my statement that “we don’t know” whether heat waves are or will be increasing. But we will know for sure in 100 years.
    Great. I think you are right, but I think 30-50 years is all that will be needed.Now here is the question: what do you think about the Manns, Hansens, Rahmstorfs of the world who are saying that we already are experiencing the catastrophic heat waves?

  • Tom C

    From Hansen’s paper:A new category of hot summertime outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than climatology, has emerged, with the occurrence of these outliers having increased 1-2 orders of magnitude in the past three decades.
    Does anybody else find this statement weird? So where there was 1 outlier temperature 30 years ago we now have 100? How can they still be outliers? Does he mean that the outliers today would have been outliers for the distribution of 30 years ago? As far as I can tell, that simply means that we are a bit warmer now.

  • BBD

    Sashka

    You raise an interesting point about the observed increase, by more than a magnitude, of the area covered by extremely hot summer temperatures over the last three decades:

    And therefore it’s because of global warming. Beautiful stuff. Real science.

    What else did you have in mind? The synchronised torching of the wind of a billion flatulent pigs? By eco-activist-scientists, poised at the ready with disposable lighters? Surely this would have shown up in the satellite data (not to mention the travel expense claims)?

  • Sashka

    I had in mind natural variability. You must have heard about it. So we agree that probability thing is all dreck?

  • Joshua

    I shouldn’t do this because it contradicts my intent to not respond to people who aren’t interested in a good faith discussion – but this one in particular was too good to pass up.

    “I had in mind natural variability.”

    Yes, indeed. Some maybe it was caused by some nebulous phenomenon loosely called natural variability. Because Sasha is so focused, laser-like, on calculating probabilities.

    There. it’s done.

    Maybe I’m just an addict, but maybe I can just take a nip every now and then without getting sucked back in.

  • BBD

    Sashka

    I had in mind natural variability. You must have heard about it.

    Natural variability doesn’t produce this because it can’t. The energy has to come from somewhere. Because the law of conservation of energy says so :-)

    So we agree that probability thing is all dreck?

    The probability thing will be resolved when you read the paper.

    Since natural variability can’t do it, and the torched pig wind/activist boffin hypothesis wasn’t supported by satellite data we are a bit stuck.

  • Joshua

    Tom C-

    So, I think what you are saying is that you agree with my statement that “we don’t know” whether heat waves are or will be increasing. But we will know for sure in 100 years.

    Hmmm. Sort of. If “know” means 100% sure, then yes I’d agree. If “know” means the ability to estimate probabilities within a range of error, then I would disagree (although certainly the size of the range of error would also be important).

    Great. I think you are right, but I think 30-50 years is all that will be needed.

    As someone of limited intelligence and a non-technical background, my reading of the back-and-forth of the debate suggests that the uncertainty will remain non-negligible for longer than that. Of course, it is all relative. There will be some for whom no amount of time, or scale of climate change, would be sufficient.

    Now here is the question: what do you think about the Manns, Hansens, Rahmstorfs of the world who are saying that we already are experiencing the catastrophic heat waves?

    You’d have to provide a specific statement for me to comment. What I’ve seen, for the most part, is scientists saying things on the order of: “This is what we would expect with climate change, but we can’t attribute any specific event to climate change.” I don’t have a particular problem with that kind of statement. However, I do have a problem when “skeptics” mischaracterize the level of uncertainty  SWTTCCIHALAs do express. I see that often – the most obvious example when I go to “skeptical” websites to see “skeptics” say that all those climate scientists say that “the science is settled,” yet I have seen precious few times that any SWTTCCIHALAs have actually said that.

  • Sashka

    Josh, I think I detect an attempt at sarcasm. This is fine and fair. But what about @64 though? Maybe it was caused by some nebulous phenomenon loosely called natural variability? What’s your theory?

  • Sashka

    @91. Who says it doesn’t? The energy comes from Sun, as always. And it is returned back to cosmos by way of IR radiation. What’s so hard about it?

    So, what’s the probability? Are you going to dodge the question forever? Come on, be a man just once. After all, you haven’t wrote this piece of crap. You’re not obliged to defend it ad infinum just because it’s written by the prophet.

  • Nullius in Verba

    We seem to have got derailed again…

    The graph shows an increase in average of about 1sd over the past three decades. We know from other sources this is around 0.6 C. So the graph tells us summertime temperatures were almost always within 2 C of the average for the time of year, and this has shifted to the right between 1 and 2 C.

    Hardly sounds like a scorching heatwave, does it?

    The change is tiny compared to the natural variability of weather at a local/daily level, and if you plotted the actual distribution you wouldn’t be able to see it. So what they did was to average temperatures over long enough blocks of time to bring the spread down to something comparable with the change, and then point at the extreme value statistics, which a particularly sensitive to small changes, as a way of exaggerating the impact perceived. Par for the course with activist scientists and their worshippers.

    But anyway, the graph says absolutely nothing about the probability of heatwaves. It’s just a way of repackaging what we already know – that mean temperatures have increased slightly – in a way that sounds more significant and scary. And as usual, says nothing at all about what caused it, either. There are lies, damned lies, and statistics, and this one is a classic.

  • BBD

    Sashka

    I can’t blame you for being stupid because arguably it’s not your fault. Your laziness however is entirely a personal failing. I am not going to feed that great, sprawling, self-satisfied intellectual idleness of yours with explanations of a paper you clearly cannot be bothered to read. You can dwell in your little pool of denialist darkness untroubled by the need to reject any more information on this subject without actually trying to understand it first. 

    These exchanges have been going on since last October, and I can say, with sincerity, that it’s like pissing down a mineshaft.

    Nullius

    You are not stupid. And what you are trying to do here is far worse than laziness. The methodology of this paper is self-explanatory, and your crudely self-serving attempts to misrepresent it are jaw-dropping examples of intellectual dishonesty. There are few things worse than clever liars who *know* what they are doing.

    The absolute disregard for the norms of honesty and good faith you routinely demonstrate is salutary. It reminds me just how profoundly intellectually bankrupt and in many ways morally repellent climate change denial really is.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    BBD, been back to Bishop Hill’s recently? I hear they’re still singing and dancing after the good Bishop exiled you. 
    Trolls in Exile… don’t know if that’s a good name for a book, a CD, a poem… 

    Why did you pick Keith’s place to infest? Can I ask?

  • Keith Kloor

    BBD (96)Calling people stupid, liars and other related name-calling is out of bounds. Either dial it back or you’ll find yourself on moderation, where I can review your comments before posting them.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @96

    +10

    the whole post is a keeper. Paging Willard…

  • BBD

    Keith, while I will of course restrain the tone, I can only point out that the adjectives used are demonstrably accurate. You have the evidence upthread. 

  • Sashka

    BBD, any insult coming from you is the best praise I can imagine. (Can you guess why? Probably not.) So please keep going. Your inability to answer a simple question is quite telling on its own, I need not use any adjectives to describe you, they are written all over you.

    WRT allegedly ongoing exchanges since the last October, you’re just being delusional (which is hardly a surprise for anybody but our hard-drinking neighbor from Canada). I have been ignoring you for much of this time as I’m going to do in the future. It was a lapse in my judgement to even read your asinine discharge, much less attempting to trigger any cerebral processes.

  • Sashka

    @97: That’s actually a pity.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    hard drinking?! I only drink beer for heaven’s sake!

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Well, the extreme meme is rolling on, with my hero Paul Krugman (say it ain’t so, Paul!) foolishly accepting Joe Romm’s figures at face value and Roger Pielke Jr. (inevitably) busting Romm’s chops.Kind of the same story as last summer, except it’s U.S. crop yields supporting Pielke instead of Egyptian crop yields demolishing Tobis. I don’t think people should be saying agriculture is dying because of climate change when yields keep going up. Especially when the charts look eerily similar to Mauna Loa’s tracking of CO2 concentrations…

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Maybe one popular topic of enviro porn can be… um… put to bed.”On Monday a new report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences pushed back the origin of polar bears about four and a half million years.Dr. Lindqvist, said the DNA showed evidence of intermittent interbreeding between brown and polar bears from the time of the split until the present “” most likely during periods of warming, when brown bears moved north and polar bears were forced onto land.In most brown bears the percentage of genetic material traceable to polar bears is 2 percent. But on the Alexander Archipelago, a 300-mile-long string of islands off the southeast coast of Alaska, the brown bears have 5 to 10 percent polar bear DNA, suggesting more frequent interbreeding.”

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Dear Marlowe,

    Some things are better shown than said.

    But if we really need to say them, we should try to bear in mind that style matters.

    So I’d rather stick to the Knight of Ni game for the former case, and Gaming theorist for the latter.

    Mileage varies, of course.

    Speaking of which, you should tell if you not drinking what Americans call “beer”, but something a bit more full-bodied than that.

  • Tom C

    I don’t know BBD. I work with statistics in my job and Hansen’s paper strikes me as bizarre. I guess the graphs are OK, but the explanatory text is incoherent.This passage:

     Thus we can state with a high degree of confidence that extreme summers, such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, are a consequence of global warming, because global warming has dramatically increased their likelihood of occurrence.

    What other sort of scientific papers have language like this? It could be translated into English as “we really, really, badly want to beleive that there are more heat waves”.

  • BBD

    Tom C

    Perhaps your statistical ability outruns your written comprehension? Or perhaps both are somewhat lacking. 

    The sense of the paragraph is so obviously, elementally clear that your comment is, to put it politely, bizarre. 

    Perhaps your motive is the issue here? Are you perhaps compelled to deny any and all evidence for warming?

    Could that be it?

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    Tom C shows that he comprehends both writing and statistics. He may be wrong, he may be right, but BBD is returning to the tactics that caused his exile. Hansen has never won any literary awards. I also find Hansen’s language unclear. It is not only not elementally unclear–it is cloudy, turgid and obscure.And BBD–the first sign of a troll is questioning the counterparty’s motives. It is what trolls do to derail a topic and refocus people on their own petty lives.

  • Sashka

    Tom, you don’t understand. Statistics are for suckers. Real scientists just know the answers.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    I’m partial to Lowenbrau and Beck’s these days. I’ll drink horse piss before I ever touch a commercial American beer other than Sam Adams though. 

    Speaking of Ni…Tom do you deny that projected climate change impacts this century are likely to severely impact global agricultural yields? And that your pollyanish belief that technology will save us isn’t generally supported by recent research findings?

    Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. We found that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends from 1980 to 2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8 and 5.5%, respectively, relative to a counterfactual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields that arose from technology, carbon dioxide fertilization, and other factors. 

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    No. Nor do I deny that it is idiotic (or evidence of extreme drunkenness) to take an increase in the production of X, whatever X is, and say it is evidence that factor Y is harming X. 

    However, it is obvious that logic left the building long ago as far as you are concerned.

  • Sashka

    So the models say that the yields would have been larger if the temperatures stayed flat at 80-s level? What’s so special about those temps? What are the model assumptions? Error bars?

  • Tom C

    Quiz for BBD:
    Which of the following are scientific statements?

    1) The mean incidence rate of restenosis for stent A in the control population (n=75) was equal to the rate for stent B at a 95% confidence level

    2) It is highly likely (>90%) that the effect of droughts on crop yield can be tied to global warming.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -

    Maybe you could go and read Roger Pielke Jr.’s latest post on the incidence of droughts. I would be interested in your opinion.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @113

    I’m not going to do your homework for you. RTFR.

  • Joshua

    Marlowe – seriously? You (rightly) criticize American beer, and then say that you drink Becks and Lowenbrau? What?Don’t know when  you were last (if ever) in the States, but there are a ton of very good micro-brews available almost anywhere. If you ever come Philly-way, I’ll refer you to some good ones.

  • Joshua

    Tom C -Pielke always writes an interesting post. I think most instructive is what I read from Pielke’s link at John Nielsen-Gammon’s blog: http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2012/07/twenty-times-more-likely-not-the-science/

    [...]So how do we get from that result to the NOAA press release? We
    begin with the text preceding the one I quoted above as the paper’s
    conclusion: “We found that extreme heat events were roughly 20 times
    more likely in 2008 than in other La Nina years in the 1960s”¦with 2008
    serving as our proxy for 2011″¦” Missing from this statement is its
    context: a more precise statement would be: “We found that the HadAM3P
    model simulated extreme heat events roughly 20 times more frequently
    under 2008 conditions than in other La Nina years in the 1960s.”
    Compare this to the NOAA press release: “While scientists cannot
    trace specific events to climate change with absolute certainty, new and
    continued research help scientists understand how the probability of
    extreme events change in response to global warming. La Niña-related
    heat waves, like that experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times
    more likely to occur during La Niña years today than La Niña years fifty
    years ago.”
    Substitute “distinctly more probable” for “20 times more likely to
    occur”, and add at the end, “with global warming being a contributing
    factor”,
    and you have an accurate and defensible summary of the paper.
    But that’s not what the NOAA press release said.

    Seems to me that is completely consistent with what I’ve been saying this entire thread. We don’t know for sure, but within a range of error, it is entirely logical to say that with global warming the odds of heat waves is increased. 

  • BBD

    Tom C

    I don’t jump through hoops for you. The point was clear: you are simply denying the validity of an unambiguous result because you don’t ‘like’ it. No point in your wasting any more of my time.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    comparing commercial beers with micro-brews is crazy. apples and oranges. I’m a big fan of micro brews and often help out my neighbour who is a pretty accomplished amateur craft brewer. But restricting myself to micro only isn’t practical or cheap!

  • BBD

    Marlowe – you know Sashka is bone idle and won’t bother reading the reference. He never does. After the singularly repellent self-serving nonsense, it’s the laziness of ‘sceptics’ that annoys me most. In recognition of your occasional kind words, my tenacity and patience are now at an end.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -An increase of heat waves is plausible. But there is no proof of it. Did you not read that the “20 times” idea came from model simulations. That does not constitute proof. Especially since the models have been shown to have no abiity to predict regional phenomena.

    Interesting also that you sidestepped the main point of RPJ’s post, which was that Paul Krugman and Joe Romm were trumpeting the idea of “increased droughts” that went against the science. Acutally, against the evidence, not against the models. Why no condemnation of them from you? Why are they not labeled anti-science?

  • Joshua

    Tom C -

    We’ve discussed this a couple of times. I haven’t said that there’s “proof.” You keep asking me about that, but I’ve never said it. The quote that I excerpted is exactly in line with what I’ve been saying the entire thread.

    Sorry that you think that I “sidestepped” something. My point of focus is (unapologetically) more on specious reasoning among “skeptics,” but I have always maintained that specious reasoning is on all sides of the debate. I say it over and over. My mantra is that “motivated reasoning” affects us all, as a fundamental attribute of human reasoning. I find it interesting when “skeptics” seem to think that I believe that motivated reasoning only affects “skeptics” (or that I don’t accept that it exists among “realists”)

    Why are they not labeled anti-science?

    You seem to think that I’ve labeled someone as “anti-science.” I haven’t. Why would I begin now by accusing Romm and Krgumann as being “anti-science” if I never leveled the charge against “skeptics” when they display reasoning that is inconsistent with the available evidence? I don’t consider motivated reasoning to be the same as being “anti-science.” I view it as human. The attribute of being “anti-science” would be independent, although it might well overlap.

    You disappoint me, Tom C- I was assuming that you wouldn’t dip into the kind of overtly motivated reasoning that I see so often amongst “skeptics.” Now I wonder since it seems you have formulated conclusions about me that are not supported by evidence, and in fact are in contradiction to the evidence you had available.

  • Sashka

    @116: Copy-pasting abstracts is a useless activity unless you understand the methods and caveats. I don’t think it’s my job to spend time on potentially irrelevant paper just because you pasted the abstract. If you know what you are talking about then tell us. If not – have another beer and shut up.

  • http://3000quads.com/ Tom Fuller

    #124, one of those two things will happen. It is not the shutting up.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    Knights of Ni have no need to read anything.

    All they need to do is to say “Ni” and, once in a while, “shut up”.

  • Tom C

    Joshua – I’m sorry to disappoint you. I probably did assume that you were an acolyte of Romm, BBD, et al. without a lot of evidence. Frankly, your posts are so long I don’t always read them through.

    So, “motivated reasoning” does not strike me as an apt phrase. Maybe you mean “biased reasoning” or “non-objective reasoning”. Whatever the case, what do you make of the NOAA press release claiming “20 times as likely to have hot summers”?  Motivated reasoning? If we can’t trust this organization to speak clearly and accurately what are we to do? I would not spend much time worrying about “motivated reasoning” from skeptics. We have no influence. It’s “motivated reasoning” from outfits like NOAA that you should be worried about.

  • Keith Kloor

    Tom C-

    Motivated reasoning dominates the climate debate, especially the two main camps at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

    For example, motivated reasoning leads many to cite the current drought (in the U.S.) and other extreme weather events as evidence of global warming.

    The other side, using motivating reasoning, seizes on over-enthusiastic press releases and various statements by climate scientists to damn the whole profession. (In academic speak, I believe this is called “highlighting.)

    And what happens is that the excesses and excessive rhetoric of both sides is amplified by their own echo chambers, leading to a feedback from the other side that confirms its own biases.

    And so it goes…

  • Tom C

    Keith – Fair enough.  Still strikes me as an awkward phrase.

  • Sashka

    IMO “motivated reasoning” is particulrly unfortunate euphemism for intellectual dishonesty.

  • Keith Kloor

    Sashka (130)

    When done knowingly, perhaps. But for the vast majority of people who have a superficial, passing knowledge of the climate issue, I’d say it’s subconscious.

  • Sashka

    I believe the vast majority of people who have a superficial knowledge of the climate shouldn’t be talking about climate should be listening, not talking. People who argue about things they have little idea about are generally known as idiots.

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    > People who argue about things they have little idea about are generally known as idiots.

    Let’s hope our Knight of Ni have the necessary background to make such claim.

  • Marlowe Johnson

    Kloor eruption imminent….

  • Keith Kloor

    #134, sorry to disappoint, but I’m less tolerant of nasty barbs directed at individuals (especially fellow commenters.) 

    People generalize all the time. I’m not going to police that. But to maintain a modicum of civility, I’d like folks to refrain from slinging nasties at other commenters. 

  • Sashka

    Black Night may assume for the moment that I do. Would it make any difference? Would anything make any difference?

  • harrywr2

    Marlowe But restricting myself to micro only isn’t practical or cheap!$20/12 pack at the ‘Ontario Beer Store’ isn’t cheap either. In most US states that’a the price for an 18 pack and in some US right wing utopian paradises it’s the price for a 30 pack.(Unfortunately Lake Michigan was in the way of my recent cross country
    trip to treat my wife to ‘fresh’ Maine lobster so I had to detour thru
    Canada).

  • Marlowe Johnson

    @Keith,

    Sorry for being so vague. I was referring to your tweet about the ‘hatchet job’ by Clive Johnson.  I think much of it was off the mark (e.g. ties to fossil fuel lobby/AEI etc.) and alluding to nefarious motives — I think genuine belief coupled with vanity and contrarian personality traits is more likely. That kind of over the top characturization is all the more unfortunate because it detracts from the legitimate critiques that Hamilton and others have made about the Hartwellian narrative with respect to the failures of climate policy to date and the prospects of their proposed alternative. 

    @Harrya 500ml pint of Lowenbrau costs me $2. That works out to about $16 for the equivalent 12 pack. The trick is to buy the half litre cans, not the bottles ;)

  • Joshua

    I think that motivated reasoning is an entirely different animal than intellectual dishonesty.

    I think that Keith kind of captures the difference, but I don’t really think he nails it fully.

    Motivated reasoning is an inherent attribute in how we all reason. It isn’t simply a matter of awareness or lack of awareness about what we are doing. To the extent that we may be able to control for motivated reasoning, it takes first, the acceptance that it exists within all of us and that it isn’t simply a matter of being “honest” (intellectually). Secondly, it takes diligence.

    If we think of it only as “intellectual dishonesty,” then we can sit back and say to ourselves that we are honest people, and therefore we are unaffected. It doesn’t work that way.

    As a matter of logistics (can’t help it, I’ve spent much of my life as a teacher), here’s how I think it works:

    The first step is to ask yourself whether you can frame your opponents argument in a way that they will accept as being an objective interpretation of their viewpoint. You may honestly think that you can do so, but in fact, you aren’t doing so because you’re blocked from doing so by your own biases. And you can’t just control for that by “awareness,” because you may simply not have the requisite knowledge.

    Ideally, you would try your perceptions of an opposing viewpoint out on someone. If they reject your presentation of their perspective, then you try again. At some point, you may simply have to determine that they are not an honest participant – but in point of fact, what you will find is that most people are honest if you give them room to maneuver and take ownership over their stance without judgement (saying they are immoral or calling them stupid).

    At that point, then you will have a yardstick against which to measure your own reasoning, because the strongest tell of motivated reasoning is a misrepresentation of the opinion of those who disagree with you. That could be willful or not willful, of course. If it is willful, you will not correct for that error. If it isn’t willful, with recursive checks against an objective representation of your opponents perspective, you will eventually approach a control for how your own biases affect your reasoning (it’s a goal that you can’t actually never fully attain).

    Actually, this is very closely related to fundamental techniques for effective communication. It is also why you can see motivated reasoning so pervasively in the blogosphere; it is completely exposed in the dysfunctional communication that takes place. Just look at the juvenility so apparent in the  vast majority of blog exchanges. Whether or not blog commenters are dysfunctional communicators  in real life or not, I have no idea – but there is no doubt that for some reason, the vast majority of blog commenters turn into petulant teenagers when they get behind their keyboards. Comments at blogs are almost invariably case studies in motivated reasoning.  

  • Joshua

    <blockquote>So, “motivated reasoning” does not strike me as an apt phrase. Maybe you mean “biased reasoning” or “non-objective reasoning”.</blockquote>Sure – those are very close. The term itself is rather irrelevant. Probably, no single term captures the concept perfectly.But the point is that we are all motivated to be “right,” and to protect our identity. Most of the time that reflects obvious bias, or non-objectivity – in the sense that our reasoning is directly tied to our social, cultural, or political identity. But at other times it can also simply be that our reasoning is simply driven by a need to be “right,” which I’m not sure is captured, in connotation, by “bias’ and/or “subjectivity.” I would guess that’s the reason for the term “motivation,” because it connotes more neutrality. It’s easier to accept the notion that we are all “motivated” to be “right.” There is not, necessarily, a negative connotation to trying to be “right.” A desire to be “right” can be as pure as the driven snow. Our “motivated reasoning” can be, entirely, a pure drive. The problems occur when (1) someone really is motivated to be “right” about being nefarious or, (2) what happens more frequently: people assign a nefarious motive to someone’s desire to be “right,” and then determines that they are immoral (or stupid). Look around the blogosphere. Everyone’s motivated to be “right,” and their reasoning is influenced by that “motivation.” The recognize that in others and conclude that the other person is stupid or immoral – while never recognizing the tendency in themselves. Which is hilarious – because it is a fundamental attribute of how we all reason. The second most clear tell for motivated reasoning is when someone doesn’t think that they’re motivated. The third best sign is when someone wears their motivation on their sleeve and declares it as a measure of their morality: think of Willis Eschenbach or Joe Romm.

  • Joshua

    So, “motivated reasoning” does not strike me as an apt phrase. Maybe you mean “biased reasoning” or “non-objective reasoning”.

    Sure ““ those are very close. The term itself is rather irrelevant. Probably, no single term captures the concept perfectly. But the point is that we are all motivated to be “right,” and to protect our identity.

    Most of the time that reflects obvious bias, or non-objectivity ““ in the sense that our reasoning is directly tied to our social, cultural, or political identity. But at other times it can also simply be that our reasoning is simply driven by a need to be “right,” which I’m not sure is captured, in connotation, by “bias’ and/or “subjectivity.” I would guess that’s the reason for the term “motivation,” because it connotes more neutrality. It’s easier to accept the notion that we are all “motivated” to be “right.” There is not, necessarily, a negative connotation to trying to be “right.” A desire to be “right” can be as pure as the driven snow. Our “motivated reasoning” can be, entirely, a pure drive.

    The problems occur when (1) someone really is motivated to be “right” about being nefarious or, (2) what happens more frequently: people assign a nefarious motive to someone’s desire to be “right,” and then determines that they are immoral (or stupid). Look around the blogosphere. Everyone’s motivated to be “right,” and their reasoning is influenced by that “motivation.” They recognize that in others and conclude that the other person is stupid or immoral ““ while never recognizing the tendency in themselves. Which is hilarious ““ because it is a fundamental attribute of how we all reason. The second most clear tell for motivated reasoning is when someone doesn’t think that they’re motivated. The third best sign is when someone wears their motivation on their sleeve and declares it as a measure of their morality: think of Willis Eschenbach or Joe Romm.

  • Joshua

    Tom C-

    A mercifully short post. 

    I probably did assume that you were an acolyte of Romm, BBD, et al. without a lot of evidence.

    Actually, not probably. You did. And it wasn’t that you didn’t have a lot of evidence, you had none. And you were wrong.

    But that said, thanks for mostly acknowledging the error.

  • Tom C

    Joshua -Well, I did have some evidence about you that pointed in the Romm direction.  In comment #90 upthread, you sarcastically dismiss Sashka’s suggestion that recent incidence of heat waves could be due to natural variability.  In fact, that is a perfectly reasonable suggestion and one which would be supported by dozens of highly credentialed scientists.  So, why the sarcasm? News outlets announce breathlessly that this or that summer temp was the warmest since the 30s!!  Global warming to blame! Case closed.  Um, well, why was it hotter in the 30s?  Did natural variability stop in 1960 or something (along with the decrease in tree ring width)?

  • Marlowe Johnson

    is it safe to assume that the last refuge of scoundrels is

    yes…but natural variability!

  • Joshua

    Tom C -

    OK, fair enough – I see where you were coming from, although you misinterpreted my point in post #90.

    My post was related to Sashka’s selective interest in calculating probabilities. My sarcasm was about his  inconsistency in his attitude not that natural variability couldn’t explain data trend in heat waves. As I have told you quite a number of times now, I accept that we don’t “know” for certain that global warming would increase heatwaves (just that it is  probable that it would increase the odds of us experiencing more heatwaves – a viewpoint that is entirely supported in the excerpt I posted) and obviously that connotes natural variability as a potential explanation.

    But regardless of your misunderstanding, the sarcasm of my post  was an indication of a climate warrior – even given my lame attempt at a disclaimer for my sarcasm. So I’ll agree that you had some evidence.

  • Sashka

    Joshua, I am especially interested in probabilities because in hard sciences these are well defined, measurable or computable, checkable by the third party. Showing a calculation to back up “high probability” would lend a lot of credence to the paper. And of course the other way.

    You can use sarcasm to your heart content – I don’t really mind but will usually respond in kind. But if you don’t want to be unduly motivated in your reasoning you can check my posts in other threads. You’ll find that I have other interests apart from probability.

    For the same reason, you might want to explain what you meant by “inconsistency in his attitude”. If you’re right I’d like to correct it but I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    @15: climate change increases the odds of such events happening
    @145: it is probable that it would increase the odds of us experiencing more heatwaves

    You think these are identical statements? What does the latter say, really? Does 50.01% qualify as “probable”?

  • jamesmore

    It really looks great! It would be awesome to see it live
    happening in front of your eyes.

    http://solicitorsfromhell.net/LeO/index.php?option=com_sobi2&sobi2Task=sobi2Details&sobi2Id=239&Itemid=

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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, and an 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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