The New Normal: Climate Ambulance Chasing

By Keith Kloor | November 12, 2013 12:33 pm

By now, the pattern is pretty well established. If there is a famine, drought, catastrophic flood, wildfire, a major hurricane or typhoon, then you can be sure that trailing behind these disasters, like ambulance chasers, is a brigade of climate-concerned activists, scientists and their enablers in the media.

And trailing behind them is an Anthony Watts/Marc Morano led brigade of chortling denialists, whose main objective is to exploit, for ideological/political purposes, the exploitation of disasters by the climate ambulance chasers.

Much of this plays out like a game of charades.

If I say “Somali famine,” “Hurricane Sandy” or “Australian bushfires” to the ambulance chasing disaster chasers, they yell: Climate Change! Carbon emissions! Similarly, if I say “climate treaty obstacles” to this same group, they shout: Koch! Fox News!

If I say climate science to the Watts/Morano brigade, they screech: Fraud! Hoax! And if I say carbon dioxide to this same group, they blurt out: Photosynthesis! Good!

How did we get to this point? Well, the politicized aspect of climate change is well known to those who follow the debate closely. A subset of this politicization is the increasing focus on extreme weather (and disasters). In recent years, we’ve seen climate advocates and some climate scientists repeatedly point to such events as a manifestation of global warming. A subsequent meme, known as the “new normal”  was born, helpfully validated by the media. Last month a PBS post was titled:

The New Climate Normal Coming to a City Near You

I’ve chronicled this narrative–see here, here, here, and here.

So when Typhoon Haiyan recently struck the Philippines, no surprise that the ensuing humanitarian disaster was characterized as the “new normal” in some quarters. And that science journalists from Nature and Time magazine (and elsewhere) quickly penned stories examining the climate change context for the devastating typhoon. A recurring theme of such coverage is embodied in the subheading of the Time piece by Bryan Walsh:

While scientists can’t yet find a clear signal between global warming and killer tropical storms like Haiyan, the supertyphoon could well be a sign of what’s to come in a warmer world.

There is a new kind of climate research that may soon be able to better delineate linkages between global warming and severe weather events. This field (known as “attribution” science) is already starting to yield some tentative results.

But it’s also “risky territory,” as Science magazine’s Richard Kerr wrote in a related feature story last week. He added:

There is no question that global warming is real, but the science linking any one hurricane, drought, or flood to climate change is shaky, at best.

Science journalists and climate scientists know this, and yet there is an inevitable torrent of climate related stories in the aftermath of every severe weather event, parsing all the permutations and possibilities that suggest climate change may somehow have played a role.

As the old saying goes, How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? In the case of climate change and severe weather, an editorial this past summer in the journal Nature Climate Change offered this advice (my emphasis):

Weather is often at the forefront of the general public’s mind, influencing their thoughts on climate change. But such anthropogenic effects cannot be considered in the short term. They are expected to manifest as changing patterns outside the normal range of variability, such as that associated with long-term natural climate cycles, and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. But attributing individual events, or even runs of such events, to climate change is ill advised without a deep understanding of underlying physical causes and an appreciation of the statistical probability of these events given long-term natural variability.

Good luck with that! The new normal in various quarters is to assume that global warming contributes to every extreme weather event and that any discussion of such events should include a climate change context. When the public internalizes this new normal and eventually tunes out, at least the finger-wagging climate denialist brigade will be there to take the blame.

  • bobito

    A very fair post, but I feel you left out one somewhat influential group… The IPCC! (or, to be fair, a key member of…):

    “The recent very painful events of cyclone Haiyan… have reminded the countries gathered here… of the urgency of coming to a resolution of how all countries are going to collaborate with each other to address climate change in a timely manner,” said UN climate chief Christiana Figueres.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

      Yeah, I’m following that, including statements from Philippines delegation. I take your point, since media will have to dutifully report on this. But I was mostly looking at overall trend.

      • bobito

        I hear ya, but talking heads are one thing. When the “UN Climate Chief” is “ambulance chasing” it is very difficult to assume that they are acting in good faith. Also, the Typhoon reference is not the first time the worlds “climate chief” has done this: http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/10/21/un-climate-chief-absolutely-link-between-climate-change-and-wildfires/

        • Eli Rabett

          There is an old saying that Dad Rabett taught Eli, when everyone is running about with fear on their faces and you are cool and calm, maybe there is something you don’t know.

          • bobito

            One can be afraid, cool, and calm all at the same time.
            Afraid and running about with fear doesn’t accomplish anything.

  • Buddy199

    AGW skepticism is actually skepticism of the politics and central planning solutions offer by AGW proponents. The Obamacare solution turned fiasco for U.S. health care is central planning small potatoes compared to upending the entire world industrial economy based on climate science that still has quite a few soft spots, to say the least.

    But we have to do something! Well, no we don’t. As with “fixing” health care, sometimes it’s best to leave bad enough alone until we know what the hell we’re doing.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

      So Obacare is a fiasco for health care already? Can we maybe check back in a year or two?

      Perhaps to you climate skepticism is about politics and proposed solutions. And while most of us know this, the majority of climate skeptics pretend otherwise.

      • Buddy199

        Obamacare should be a lesson for any massive central planning effort from now on, particularly anything proposed for an even larger scale. The Devil is always in the details, and the bigger the project the more details for devils to hide in.

        The climate “war” is a proxy for left – right political war. As you point out, that underlying truth is not apparent to most on either side as they try to claw each other’s eyes out.

        • Dave123

          Funny, the work on the website was all subcontracted to private firms. Those were the people up testifying in front of congress the other day. You have a really contrived definition of central planning….stuck much in the 50s are you?

      • jh

        Yeah, wow, the Obamacare “fiasco”! Obamacare has been functioning for a month and the fact that it’s not an immediate resounding success makes it a disaster?

        I’m not a big proponent of it, but jeez, people should take it easy. It’ll take five years to see if it’s really working or not.

    • dljvjbsl

      “Medicare” or government health insurance works well in Canada. In fact, in Canada the American medical system is regarded poorly and one way to demonize a politician is to say that he favours a “American-style medical system”.

  • thrib

    “And trailing behind them is an Anthony Watts/Marc Morano led brigade of chortling denialists, whose main objective is to exploit, for ideological/political purposes, the exploitation of disasters by the climate ambulance chasers.”

    Really. I hope that one day you can look back on paragraphs like that and concede the depths that you had to lower yourself to in order to remain the “honest man in the middle” that you seem to think you are. Compare the number of people who read your witterings with the number of people who read Watts. But those people are “chortling denialists”. Really? Who is chortling over the deaths in the Philippines? I mean, who is actually chortling? I don’t mean which evil right-wing cartoon character in your head is chortling. And why would they be chortling – it’s not Watts who’s trying to milk this. He’s trying to stop this from being milked. (No doubt for evil right-wing denialistic chortling reasons.)

    “When the public internalizes this new normal and eventually tunes out, at least the finger-wagging climate denialist brigade will be there to take the blame.”

    These evil denialist brigaders will take the blame?? For what? For calling out the nonsense?

    I know you have to have a go at the evil denialisters to protect yourself from friendly fire. But honestly, you can’t even call out the typhoon nonsense without recourse to purile insults like “denialist brigade”? You still after ALL THESE YEARS can’t understand that some people disagree with you for reasons that aren’t “ideological/political”??

    What is the point of you?

    • Rob Honeycutt

      Wrong. Haiyan had barely even passed the island nation, whilst there were clearly thousands killed and many times that still suffering untold hardship, when Watts posted an article suggesting that Haiyan wasn’t really that big of a storm.

      Was he concerned with the devastation of the storm? No. Was he concerned about how people could help those suffering? No. He was too busy spinning conspiracy theories about who they believed might be misreporting peak wind speeds.

      Completely unconscionable.

      Have Skeptical Science or Real Climate run out to immediately post articles about the link between Haiyan and climate change? No, they have not.

      • chadke

        Was he concerned about the devastation of the storm? Yes as he has relatives living there.

        Was he concerned about how people could help those suffering? Yes as he, unlike the Skeptical Science and Real Climate PR sites provided links to the Philippine Red Cross so his many readers could donate.

        Conspiracy theories? Bit rich coming from a SS denizen. Several news outlets did misreport peak wind speeds. That is a fact. Misreporting should be pointed out. Why is it not a surprise that a SS member has no problem with false claims.

        • Rob Honeycutt

          The title of the post… “Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda – another overhyped storm that didn’t match early reports.”

          And no, he didn’t post any information about the Red Cross until after Greg Laden and I pointed out the callousness of his post.

        • Rob Honeycutt

          Literally, thousands had died and hundreds of thousands had lost nearly everything they owned, and within hours Watts posts an article saying, “another overhyped storm that didn’t match early reports.”

          • Eli Rabett

            Eli believes (could be wrong) that the red cross link was posted a bit later. If you want a longer list, go here

          • Craig King

            I notice that the number of dead has been sharply revised downwards, not that 2000 dead isn’t a tragedy, and that the wind speeds were grossly over reported as Watts pointed out.

      • chadke

        That’s because Real Climate and Skeptical Science aren’t interested in corrections.

      • thrib

        So, you saw a comment that you disliked, then you wrote the word “wrong”, and then you wrote a bunch more stuff that didn’t remotely address the points made in the comment or the original post.

        Watts pointed out that the storm wasn’t as big as many were reporting, which was true. He also encouraged donations to relief agencies. (I probably missed Keith’s link.) All very offensive stuff.

        But well done! It’s no wonder that there are growing numbers of people who agree with your stance, when you have truth and logic so firmly on your side.

        • Rob Honeycutt

          It’s not a matter of disliking the comment. If the commenter is posting wrong information, then I will say that I believe he is wrong.

          The point I was making is that, when there are people suffering and dying, it would be better to save such comments for a later time. What Watts did was to post an article suggesting (wrongly) that the storm was less than was being reported, when he should be concerned about the human suffering at hand. And DO NOTE that Watts did not post any donation information until, I think it was, “Update #10.” Long after Greg and I took him to task for his callous timing.

          • thrib

            I remain confused as to what information you thought was wrong in my comment, as you still haven’t said.

          • thrib

            Tumbleweeds.

            Are you still thinking?

            Perhaps you are observing a period of silence. A thoughtful gesture.

          • thrib

            It’s odd that someone who is such an obsessive poster won’t post a reply here.

            Perhaps you have been taken ill. Can you in some way blink your acknowledgement of this post so that we can all pray for a speedy recovery?

      • Mogumbo Gono

        Honeycutt, there are verifiable facts showing that you are flat wrong. Anthony Watts made it easy for caring folks to donate to the Phillipine people, therefore he was certainly concerned with the devastation caused by the storm. I donated more than $300, and I can prove it. How much did YOU donate?

        You are such an ideologue that you believe you can lie, and people will blindly accept your prevarication.

        Finally, I note that alarmist blogs have NOT gone out of their way to solicit funds to mitigate the storm damage. Instead, you would rather spout your dishonesty and hope that no one notices that you’re lying. Disgusting.

        • Rob Honeycutt

          “Anthony Watts made it easy for caring folks to donate to the Phillipine people…” after he was taken to task for his lack of tact.

          • Mogumbo Gono

            So once again: how much did YOU donate?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            The exact amount would be a private financial matter that I would not discuss with you.

          • thrib

            Yup , that’s a pretty standard response from people of your persuasion…

          • Rob Honeycutt

            What is “people of my persuasion” supposed to mean? Can you be more specific?

          • thrib

            You know – people like you. People who like censorship. People who like to tell others how to behave, irrespective of how their behaviour compares with those that they lecture to.

            People who know “better” than us. People who want to control “the narrative”.

            Anyhow, any chance of replying to my questions below? (Glad to see you’re well, btw. I was starting to worry.)

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Fascinating little list of fantasies you have going there.

            The only thing I’ve done is point out the crassness of Watts posting an article dismissing the strength of the storm when people were suffering. That’s not censorship. That’s not telling others how to behave. Watts is welcome to be as crass as he likes. I’ll I’m doing is calling it out.

          • thrib

            Honestly, you’re not that bright are you?

            “I’m a little surprised that a comment like this is even allowed past moderation.”

            Hence my comment on censorship.

            “The exact amount would be a private financial matter that I would not discuss with you.”

            Hence my questioning of whether you behave in the way that you lecture other people to behave.

            It’s like talking to a goldfish.

            Now, could you tell me what “wrong information” I posted below? I’ve been waiting a while.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            First, calling me not bright does little to advance any position you might want to promote. It’s a childish response at best.

            1) There is a vast difference between “censorship” and “moderation.” When Anthony banned me for posting on his site last week, I didn’t go crying censorship. It’s his site. He can moderate it as he wishes.

            2) The level of my donation is my business and none of your concern. I’m not going to share my personal financial transactions with an anonymous person in the comments section of a blog. That’s just a rational response. Get used to it.

            3) I do my best to act in concert with my rhetoric.

            4) As for what was wrong in your original post, well, pretty much every single statement in the comment is wrong in one way or another. I read through it again and I can not find one thought that is supportable. It’s a bizarre diatribe of irrational, quazi-sarcastic, sniping at someone saying something you just don’t like. Though you seem completely incapable of providing any support for anything you state.

          • thrib

            OK. So tell me one bit of information that was “wrong information”.

            Quote what I said, and then explain why it was wrong information.

            BTW, what does “quazi-sarcastic” mean?

            BTW, BTW, “you seem completely incapable of providing any support for anything you state” – that’s a tough ask, as you haven’t actually questioned anything I stated as yet.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Your first statement is just a bizarre diatribe that includes no basis in fact.

            “I hope that one day you can look back on paragraphs like that and concede the depths that you had to lower yourself to in order to remain the “honest man in the middle” that you seem to think you are.”

            “Quazi-sarcastic” seems rather self-expanatory. Your rant rocks back and forth between sarcasm and trying to be serious. Pick one or the other when you write.

            The point about lacking support is regarding the lack of internal support in your original post. Surely that was obvious as well.

          • thrib

            It’s like watching one of those demolitions that’s perfectly arranged to collapse in on itself.

            Where is the wrong information? You said there was some. Show me.

            I don’t think I was sarcastic at all in my comment. Nor was I quasi-sarcastic, or even quazi-sarcastic. Which bits did you think were sarcastic?

            You think my comment needed more internal support. Which bits? Show me.

            I hope you understand, these questions are rhetorical. I don’t really care what you think. Your responses so far have been… I can’t even be bothered to finish that sentence.

            I have to go to bed now. It’s late here. Tomorrow I rise, and venture to the pub to watch the epic collision between England and the All Blacks. That is if the windmills can spare us enough electricity.

            Toodle pip!

          • Rob Honeycutt

            This is sarcasm: “These evil denialist brigaders will take the blame??” I said “quazi-sarcastic because your comment flips back and forth between being sarcastic and trying to be serious. Do you understand now?

            I really don’t think I can help. You’re clearly incapable of seeing even the most simple aspects of what I’m pointing out to you. This is a complete waste of time.

          • thrib

            I’m back from the pub. We lost. Good game, but to be fair, we were beaten by the better team.

            I don’t think you understand what sarcasm is. Your example had nothing to do with sarcasm.

            You don’t even have to buy a dictionary these days. Just google it. They’ll tell you what words mean.

            I also don’t think you’re capable of constructing an argument. You just seem to echo the last post you read. If someone accuses you of intransigence, you will accuse them of that. If someone mentions eels, you will accuse your opponent of being eelophobic.

            I really do think you’re quite thick.

            So, are you ever going to say what the “wrong information” was?

        • Rob Honeycutt

          “You are such an ideologue that you believe you can lie…”

          I’m a little surprised that a comment like this is even allowed past moderation.

          • thrib

            Yup , that’s a pretty standard response from people of your persuasion.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

      I guess you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm in my last line of the post.

      • thrib

        I did not. Which is odd, as in retrospect it’s so obvious.

    • Benjamin Funar

      Carping about AGW science is no different than the people fighting vaccines, or GMOs or for that matter pushing conspiracy theories like the moon landing hoax or UFOs at Roswell. You deserve to be treated exactly the same as them. – like you are a noxious group of ill informed cranks.

      You don’t deserve ANY latitude in public discourse.

      Go become a climate scientist and publish peer reviewed research that offers a more successful alternative theory for the radiative effects of CO2 in planetary atmospheres and then you have cred. Remember the Koch’s tried to do that with Richard Meuller and look how that turned out!

      Being a misinformed crank who dismisses the validity of 30,000+ climate scientists and 120 years of published research based on a continuously debunked set of falsehoods directly traceable to PR shops hired by energy and tobacco companies disqualifies you from public discourse. You offer nothing useful. And your self righteousness justifies nothing.

  • Rob Honeycutt

    The difference, though, between the two sides you’re discussing, Keith, is that only one side is backed up by an overwhelming body of scientific research.

    • chadke

      That would be the skeptical side. What happened to the increased rate of warming in the upper troposphere?

      What has happened to the rate of warming this century? Has it increased or decreased?

      How much of the warming from 1979 – 1998 was due to man? Exact percentage please, and how it was calculated.

      Why has Antarctica continued to set records in ice gain when the alarmists stated it would lose ice mass?

      Why has Arctic ice rebounded by 60% since 2012?

      Why is global sea ice on track to break record highs?

      Surely you can answer those with over $70 billion dollars of climate research funding in only 5 years.

      • Rob Honeycutt

        Sigh. Okay. You want to go there?

        1) The “hot spot” is measured over longer time frames.
        2) Unreasonable expectation.
        3) Antarctica is losing ice mass. Sea ice increases are likely due to the freshening on sea water due to ice mass loss.
        4) This is called “reversion to the mean” and was an expected response after the extreme ice loss event of 2012.
        5) You’re not understanding sea ice.

        • jh

          But Rob, even the IPCC AR5 finds no evidence of increasing tropical storm intensity or frequency, and finds the same for tornadoes, droughts, thunderstorms and floods.

          So what gives?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            I think you probably missed the “however” in the AR5 draft report.

            “However, it is virtually certain that the frequency
            and intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic has increased since the 1970s. [2.6.3]“

          • Rob Honeycutt

            This is the second time I’ve heard this from someone today. I’d love to get an actual reference.

          • Craig King
          • Rob Honeycutt

            That’s not the IPCC. That’s Ryan Maue tracking ACE, which as I pointed out earlier, misses the full dimensional scale of storms.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Just realized I made the ACE comment on another thread. I’ll repost the same comment here:

            I would note here that ACE, as a measure of cyclonic energy, relies merely on sustained wind speed at various points during the life of a storm. What ACE misses is the full dimensions of cyclones.

            In other words, a category 4 storm that is 1000 miles in diameter will have far more energy than a category 5 storm that is 500 miles in diameter.

            This is why researchers are starting to look at IKE or Integrated Kinetic Energy, related to cyclones.

          • Craig King

            You did see the graphs showing frequency by category in a time series?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Do you understand what I’m saying about the total energy of storms? Storm category does not come close to capturing the given energy contained in any given storm. You could easily have fewer storms and of lower category but still have storms that are larger in diameter. That would actually represent a far greater amount of energy in storms and, combined with sea level rise and storm surge, result in far greater damage.

          • Craig King

            Ah, I see we have to use a different measuring system. The frequency and intensity are no longer useful metrics. They were once but not any more. What do we measure total energy with?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Craig… You can google Integrated Kinetic Energy and get a full explanation of how they’re doing this and why.

          • Craig King

            I did indeed Google IKE and read up what I could. I am uncertain as to the role of IKE in this discussion and its relevance to Dr. Maue’s records. The IKE can only be used from 2007 onwards according to NOAA and as we both know 6 years of anything cannot be of use when talking of trends.
            I also note that there is still some difficulty with IKE in terms of defining boundaries and thresholds so for now I will stick with quantity and pressure and wind speed. Perhaps in 17 years or so we could look at IKE in a useful way.
            Now Rob, do you have any idea why the number of cyclones is falling over time and even the large ones are staying much the same in quantity and intensity? I note that the same is true of tornadoes in the USA as well as wild fires again in number and intensity measured in acreage burned.
            Do these downward trends have something to do with rising atmospheric CO2, which if true would argue for more stuff to be burned not less. Or is there something , as yet unknown, at play?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            And are you sure on your phrasing correct there? That they find “no evidence?” I find that very hard to believe being that they just upped their overall confidence level on AGW to “extremely likely.”

          • chadke

            Exactly with nothing to base their overall confidence on.

            Temperatures are not meeting model high-end ranges, mid level ranges and 97% (not exactly, but it’s more realistic then John Cook’s manufactured consensus),of low-end model projections.

            So as the models the IPCC uses to influence public policy get worse at predicting temperature increases, their confidence levels rise. Funny that.

          • jh

            It’s not clear why their overall confidence on AGW and their assessment of the trends in extreme weather should be related. The link between extreme weather and GW (A or not) is hypothetical.

        • chadke

          Yes I do

          1) The “hot spot” was predicted to be measured in a less than a decade. Over 30 million weather balloons since that prediction was made have failed to detect it. Scientists such as Kevin Trenberth did not expect to wait longer time frames to measure it.

          2) A reasonable expectation for them before the failed detection.

          3) Ice mass loss? That is incorrect. The mass gain from snow accumulation outweighs mass loss from ice discharge. It’s not just the Antarctic sea ice that is expanding.

          4) The expected response by quite a few scientists was that the Arctic will be ice free by 2013, 2014, 2015, 2020. The fact that a storm in August was responsible for 30% ice loss in 2012 did not deter them from blaming catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. Not one of them stated there would be a rebound in ice accumulation.

          5) I understand sea ice, I really do.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            1) Go read just 2 or 3 papers research papers on the hot spot. They all will tell you that there are serious challenges to trying to measure the hot spot. And you still have to contend with the fact that the hot spot is an indication of rising surface temps, not AGW. So, you either have to say all the surface data is wrong, and all the LTL satellite data is wrong, or you have to say the hot spot is like there but difficult to measure.

            2) All the research puts levels of certainty on predictions. You’re merely trying to raise the bar so high that it fails YOUR standards. And if certainties go higher, you will again raise your bar. It’s an irrational approach that is designed to confirm your preferred conclusions.

            3) Ice mass gains are expected at higher altitudes as a direct result of warming. Ever heard the phrase “it’s too cold to snow?” At lower temps most of the moisture is already removed from the air, thus less snow. As temps rise you get more snow; accumulation at higher altitudes. Again, long ago predicted. But ice mass loss far exceeds any accumulation at both poles. See the animated graph I posted below.

            4) Please cite where you find research saying the Arctic would be ice-free by any of those years. You can’t do it.
            If you go back and read reports on the NSIDC site after Sept 2012, you’ll see they expected a recovery in 2013. But the recovery is consistent with the overall rapid decline in Arctic sea ice.

            5) You really do NOT understand sea ice because you are contradicting everything that real experts say, that all the research says, and making elemental errors of logic.

          • Mogumbo Gono

            More assertions by Rob Honeycutt. They are debunked by Planet Earth. But the alarmist contingent does not care about scientific facts or empirical evidence. To them, assertions are enough.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            I’m open to reading anything you want to present on these issues. But you don’t seem to be presenting anything of substance.

        • thrib

          “Sigh”.

          Oh you poor lamb. But you’re right to resort to camp shtick. If that can’t help you, then nothing can. Try “rolls eyes” next.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            You’ll please let us know, thrib, when you have something substantive to offer the conversation.

            Thanks.

        • Mogumbo Gono

          Rob Honeycutt,

          You are badly, BADLY losing this argument.

          Why?

          Because you make lots of baseless assertions, many of which are provably wrong.

          For example, Antarctica has been gaining ice mass for decades, and it is currently at an all time high. Your “reversion to the mean” simply means that the Arctic had a few years with lower ice cover, but now it is reverting back to normal. And your “hot spot” comment is simple cherry-picking — the fact is that there is NO Tropospheric hot spot, which was incessantly predicted by the alarmist crowd. But they were flat wrong.

          You are losing the debate because you do not have credible facts. Look at the Tolstoy quote upthread. That is you.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            No. Everything I’ve stated is correct and well supported. I would encourage you to provide any evidence you have that might reject my assertions.

            No, Antarctica has not been gaining ice mass. It has been gaining SEA ICE in winter months. But those gains are 1) not statistically significant, 2) are far less than is being lost in the Arctic, and 3) actually a predicted result of global warming.

            Here you can find charts of both Greenland and Antarctic ice mass balance:

            http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/earth20110308.html#.UoZMsZHk_mM

            “Reversion to the mean” seems to be a term you’re not familiar with, and I actually used the term incorrectly here. The proper term is “regression to the mean.” Explained by Dana Nuccitelli as, “There is a principle in statistics known as “regression toward the mean,” which is the phenomenon that if an extreme value of a variable is observed, the next measurement will generally be less extreme,…” In this case the mean is the declining trend in sea ice.

            I would encourage you to read some of the published research on the tropospheric hot spot. It’s easy to pull up on google scholar. The hot spot is the expected result of the moist adiabatic lapse rate. As moisture in the atmosphere rises from the surface, it condenses at altitude and releases latent heat to produce a hot spot.

            So, here you have two choices. 1) There is no surface warming at all, which would contradict ALL the data sets tracking surface temps, or 2) It is challenging to track the hot spot over shorter periods of time. All the published literature is telling us that #2 is far more likely correct.

            And as for Tolstoy, I’ve not read any of his research on climate. Please cite his research and I’ll read it. (sarc)

      • Rob Honeycutt

        Missed one in the middle there.

        Rate of warming this century. False question since you would have to break trends down into sets that are not statistically significant.

        Warming since 1970 is within the bounds of model projections.

        • jh

          Rob, were there models projecting temperature trends in 1970? :)

          If models correctly hindcast the period from 1970-1990 within error, which we shouldn’t find that surprising. That period is part of the calibration data set! :)

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Um… hindcasting.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            The point here is that surface temps continue to fall within the model bounds.

          • jh

            Whew, that’s a tough sell these days. Hope you don’t have to make a living off it.

          • Eli Rabett
      • Rob Honeycutt

        And on global sea ice extent, you’re wrong.

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/GlobalSeaIce.gif

        • Mogumbo Gono

          ‘Skeptical Science’ is anything but, and they are propagandists for the debunked runaway global warming meme.

          Their dishonesty is on parade in the fabricated graph posted by Honeycutt above. Here is the current cryosphere global ice trend [the red line]:

          http://tiny.cc/6amk6w

          Notice that global ice cover is right at [actually, a little over] its 30-year average.

          The public is beginning to see the lies trumpeted by the alarmist crowd. Honeycutt’s chart is a good example.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            I would challenge you to look closely at the graph you’re presenting. The lower (red) line is the global sea ice anomaly. Correct?

            Look at the far left of that chart. Do you see how the red line is usually above the black line? Do you see how at the far right the red line is mostly below the black line? At the moment it is above, but as with the repeated point prior, that will dip down again.

            The data you’re looking at here is the exact same data as found in the SkS chart I posted above. The only difference is that the graph you’ve presented has the Y axis compressed to the point where you have to look more closely to see the actual trend.

            I have an article I’ve written on SkS on this very subject, titled “The Y-Axis of Evil.”

            http://www.skepticalscience.com/the-y-axis-of-evil.html

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

      That may be true, but there is no overwhelming body of research that leads people to bend over backwards to make climate change connections to every extreme weather event.

      • Rob Honeycutt

        Keith, I’ve been keeping up with climate very closely for the past 5+ years. I read this stuff absolutely every day, as I’m sure you do.

        Nearly every time an extreme event comes up like this, here is what everyone involved in the climate issue prefaces their statement with: “While no individual weather event can be attributable to climate change…”

        I constantly read researchers in interviews using the baseball player on steroids metaphor. They use the loaded dice metaphor. Or the dice with added dots so you can occasionally roll a 13. Everyone on the AGW side of this issue is constantly presenting all the caveats.

        What you’re doing is falling into the tobacco industry trap of “there is no provable connection between smoking and cancer.” That has always been the literal truth. Scientists still, to this day, cannot tell you what it is about smoking that causes cancer. But they can tell you very definitively that it does based on the full body of research.

        What you’re asking researchers and AGW action proponents to do is ignore the vast body of research that says such events will become more likely, because we can’t make a direct connection to any specific event.

        This is tantamount to asking doctors to not urge their patients to quit smoking because, well, they can’t say for sure that any specific patient will develop cancer from smoking.

        • Rob Honeycutt

          Just to add…

          Given the high level of scientific confidence on this issue, it would be unconscionable of climate scientists and AGW action proponents to NOT make these connections to extreme events, provided they include the requisite caveats.

          …Just as it is unconscionable of doctors to not suggest their patients quit smoking.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Once again, I’ll make the point that if you want to use a medical metaphor, cancer or heart attacks are the wrong ones. It should be diabetes or obesity.

            Global warming is not projected to be nearly as destructive as you seem to think. Read the SREs, read Stern, read whoever you want.

            Stern projected a lost percentage of GDP due to global warming. Do you know what it was?

            Projections of displaced persons due to climate change were developed using very poor calculations, weighted to exaggerate the extent of the problem. And it still came to less than the number of refugees created by war, famine, etc.

            The EPA in 1990 calculated how much land would be lost if sea levels rose by a meter in the U.S. it amounted to a thumbnail’s worth of our territory, much less if mitigation procedures were adopted.

            Global warming, like diabetes or obesity, is a chronic condition that must be treated. It in and of itself is not ‘life threatening’. It is not a planet busting asteroid.

            When Xtreme Weather actually does arrive, some decades from now, we will be a richer planet able to adapt to it.

            You do nobody any favors by equating global warming with cancer.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Thomas… There is a tremendous amount of research out there in conflict with the position you’re putting forth.

            That doesn’t mean you’re not correct, but it does present a level or risk in accepting your position as correct. If you read the published research and the IPCC reports, there is a far more likely potential that, given business as usual emissions of CO2, we will see increasing catastrophic effects.

            So, generally, we look at this as a risk assessment exercise. That are you willing to bet that the effects are mild and controllable over the much greater potential that the effects will be catastrophic?

            In case you haven’t noticed, extreme weather events are all ready occurring. They are already beginning to impact on crops. And this is only the beginning.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Hi Rob

            Well, I’ve been reading this stuff since about 2008 and I have not seen scientific papers that predict catastrophe during that time. I admit that since I moved to Shanghai some months ago my access to electronic papers has diminished, but unless the papers you refer to are very recent, they have slipped by me. Which of course is always possible.

            What I have seen is simple trend extension in paper after paper, using increasingly threadbare assumptions about sensitivity or sea ice decline or GMT rise and science fiction-y speculation about the results. And this has led to some really bad papers on subjects ranging from the spread of malaria to the projected number of climate refugees. And I mean really, really bad.

            Have you read Stern? Have you read his projections to loss due to global warming? Even if you buy into his discount rate (and I don’t) he is not predicting disaster. And he evaluates various IPCC SRES during his calculations.

            I am a Lukewarmer. I believe our increasing emissions will bite us on the butt big time, starting about 2050 or thereabouts. But we are doing a disservice to the community to paint current conditions as a result of climate change. They are almost certainly not and saying they are is the equivalent of the boy crying wolf, a point I have made to the point of tedious repetition.

            I am sure that those who hold your point of view would find it extremely difficult to acknowledge that people like Bjorn Lomborg and Roger Pielke Jr. had a clearer view of the impacts of climate change to date. Both are gentlemen who wear their ambition on their sleeves. But in terms of the world to date they are largely correct.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Think about this. Why do you think that the National Academies’ Joint Statement says, “The need for URGENT action to address climate change is now indisputable.” [my emphasis]

            They don’t come by such statements lightly nor easily. They come to this conclusion because there is a high likelihood that, if we take no action, this could be really bad.

            “URGENT” action isn’t needed if the results are just kinda-sorta gonna be bad.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Again, Rob–have you read Stern? His treatise is so frequently cited that I can’t imagine that you have not.

            And he does not project a cataclysmic result from climate change.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Thomas… I have not read Stern. But I’m sorry to inform you that the vast majority of researchers do not agree with that position.

            Or, I should say, on a business-as-usual (BAU) emissions path, most researchers would suggest the consequences would be disastrous by the end of this century.

            My personal belief (being an optimist) is that humanity is not going to go the BAU path. I believe there is still time, though precious little, to get off fossil fuel energy sources and avert the worst of this.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Rob, the vast majority of researchers doing work on climate impacts start from Stern and the SRES.

            I find it bizarre that you have not read Stern and yet want to talk about climate impacts. I find it even stranger that you would claim that most researchers suggest the consequences would be disastrous by the end of the century without being familiar with either Stern or the SRES. Stern and the SRES provide the base assumptions on which most of that work is founded.

            Perhaps you can enlighten us on which researchers say the consequences will be disastrous by the end of the century. It would also be useful if you defined ‘disastrous’.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Let me just ask you one simple question.

            Do you think that doubling CO2 concentrations twice (as with BAU projections), over preindustrial levels, based on well accepted central estimates for climate sensitivity, would NOT result in catastrophic consequences for humanity? That’s a rise in global temperature of something around 6C.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Are you asking me that because in fact you don’t have scientific references to disaster?

            In any event, my opinion probably isn’t important–I’m not a scientist. On my weblogs I have written repeatedly about what I think is going to happen. But to quickly recap, I believe that CO2 concentrations will double and that there will be negative consequences as a result.

            But, following Stern, use projected a loss of about 5% GDP total as the economic value of the losses (and both Stern and I obviously acknowledge that economic losses are not the only losses) AGW need not be disastrous or catastrophic. If we prepare for it with proper infrastructure and quit stressing the environment with our other actions, our grandchildren will live happy, product and mostly prosperous lives in a warmer world.

            You may need to update your view of ‘central’ estimates of sensitivity, Rob. I don’t think anybody’s talking about 6 degrees of conflagration any more. In my opinion, they never should have.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Hey, Keith–Discus ate my comment!

            Rob, I have written on my weblogs what I think is going to happen. CO2 will double, there will be negative consequences–serious negative consequences–but it won’t be catastrophic. Not even close.

            Stern estimated less than 5% loss of GDP. Now I know that some losses are not captured by economics, but that still doesn’t sound like disaster. And if we prepare for what is coming and above all quite our other behavior harming the biome (pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing and introduction of alien species) then we’ll probably be okay.

            And you should update your view of ‘central estimates,’ Rob. Nobody is talking about 6 degrees of conflagration anymore. In my opinion they never should have.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Thomas… Here is the second line that comes from the executive summary:

            “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response.”

            http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130129110402/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/CLOSED_SHORT_executive_summary.pdf

            Yes. You’re trying to cite Stern to dismiss the effects of climate change, and yet that report states that climate change is a SERIOUS THREAT and that it DEMANDS AN URGENT GLOBAL RESPONSE.

            I sense a severe case of cognitive dissonance at work here.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Not at all, Rob.I, too think global warming will be a serious threat. I, too think the world should address it (although in tandem with the other problems facing the world).

            But that’s a long way from thinking it will be ‘catastrophic.’ I think that word is overblown hysteria. You know that many of the people who side with you in this debate get really peeved when we use terms like ‘CAGW’ or ‘catastrophists.’ I wonder why?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            I think people object to the CAGW terms because “catastrophic” is a function of what actions we take to reduce output of man-made greenhouse gases.

            IF, as the Stern report suggests, we take strong immediate action, then there will be warming but we should be able to manage. IF we continue on a business-as-usual emissions path, then we are likely to put the planet on a path that will be catastrophic for later generations.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Rob, I am reading a paper that you might find interesting that is related to our conversation. It’s about the limitations of models used to estimate the effects of climate change. I’m in the middle of it now–but this quote may interest you: “Nordhaus (2008) points out (page 51) that the 2007 IPCC report states that “global mean
            losses could be 1–5% GDP for 4◦C of warming.”

            http://www.globalwarming.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Pindyk-Climate-Change-Policy-What-Do-the-Models-Tell-Us.pdf

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Already familiar with that one. Here is what Nordhaus actually says to folks like you who are misrepresenting their work. The essence of what he’s saying is the same as Stern. Spending money NOW makes the most logical sense.

            http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/why-global-warming-skeptics-are-wrong/

          • Thomas Fuller

            Yes, and the paper I cited also is clear that the inability of IAMS to successfully chart a reasonable social cost of carbon does not let us off the hook. And I agree. So for that matter does Bjorn Lomborg and others who are reviled by the consensus community. I have always advocated a carbon tax started at $12/tonne to be re-evaluated decennially against empirical benchmarks. The paper I cited argues for about double. What’s the problem?

          • Thomas Fuller

            I am curious as to what I wrote that makes you feel I am misrepresenting Nordhaus? I think in fact that he has been misrepresented by dozens of consensus activists over the years, called a denier, delayer and someone seeking the safety of the middle. I like and respect him. Please be specific about your accusation–you wouldn’t want people to think you are acting in bad faith now, would you?

          • Rob Honeycutt

            The fact that throughout this discussion your base conclusion seems to be that the costs mitigation outweigh the potential damages of future climate change.

          • Thomas Fuller

            First, that is not my base conclusion. I have detailed on my weblog and also on other conversations here at CaS and other weblogs a long list of measures I support for both mitigation now and adaptation later.

            Second, how does that mean I am misrepresenting Nordhaus? It seems to me you are quickly adopting the catastrophist pose of attributing motives to me (wrongly) so that you do not have to respond to the substance of my arguments.

            Which makes you essentially similar to commenters such as Secular Animist, dhogaza and BBD, if more polite.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            The primary point here is that without taking action we are bequeathing significant problems to later generations.

            My sense is that you’re playing games here. Trying to sound like you’re reasonable when, in fact, merely trying to diminish the importance of take significant action now. If I’m wrong, then fine, we’re promoting the same position.

            Both Nordhaus and Stern are promoting the need to take strong actions now on climate change. That is the position that I hold as well.

            But you keep coming out with this position of “well, cost of inaction is only x% of GDP.” In reality, the cost of inaction now is pushing the climate system past tipping points beyond which we have no control over the outcome. At that point the cost of mitigation scales past 100% of GDP regardless of what we do (though not in our lifetimes).

            Both Nordhaus and Stern are making strong statements that we need to act aggressively now. You may be able to dig up various caveats within their materials but the overarching message is quite clear.

            Act now.

          • Thomas Fuller

            You’re putting words in the mouths of both Nordhaus and Stern–as well as many others who have actually crunched the numbers.

            Their estimates are imperfect, as they themselves acknowledge repeatedly. But they say about 5% of GDP for 4C warming. That is not a catastrophe.

            And tipping points? Trenberth and Hansen have been walking away from that phrase since 2010. That concept, which has been used to generate some of the worst alarmist hysteria out there, is so nebulous and open to manipulation that serious scientists abandoned it.

            You really don’t get it. I also call for serious action against climate change. Five percent of global GDP is a huge amount of money–especially as it will be a much larger GDP than we have now. It is worth taking aggressive action now to forestall that expense, not to mention the non-economic problems that will accompany climate change.

            But that still doesn’t mean that BAU emissions will cause catastrophic climate change.

            Since you’ve been so happy to put words into the mouths of Nordhaus and Stern, I guess I cannot complain if you do it to me, especially as the words I wrote that prove you wrong appear here on the same page.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            dis·as·trous (d -z s tr s, -s s -). adj. 1. Accompanied by or causing distress or disaster; calamitous. 2. Extremely bad; terrible: a disastrous report card.

            With regards to climate change, disastrous would be significant loss of human life due primarily to disruption to food supply and all that that entails.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            I’m going to take exception to this first statement that you’re making, that “the vast majority of researchers doing work on climate impacts start from Stern and the SRES.”

            First, I’m finding the Stern review was in 2006, and research has been done in this area for decades. I’m sorry but the “vast majority” of work on impacts have not been done since 2006. Take a trip to google scholar and see how many climate impacts papers you can find prior to 2006.

            Second, the basic tenet of the Stern review seems to be, “There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now” (Stern 2006, p. xv).

            That does not seem to jibe with what you’re presenting, suggesting that impacts would be not be severe.

          • allbuss84

            calls for “URGENT” action gets headlines. Headlines get more funding. A lack of funding means people are out of jobs.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            This is the National Academies. They don’t need headlines. They’re funded regardless of what they say.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Fascinating that you say this: “Even if you buy into his discount rate (and I don’t) he is not predicting disaster.”

            I’m starting to come to the conclusion that YOU have not read the Stern report. Even the most basic wikipedia summary of the report directly contradicts what you’re stating.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stern_Review#Summary_of_the_Review.27s_main_conclusions

          • Thomas Fuller

            Read the report, Rob. Not the executive summary, not the wikipedia summary.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Are you suggesting that the executive summary somehow misrepresents the full report?

            Even Stern has subsequently said that he believes they underestimated the severity of climate change in the report.

            But somehow you’re coming to the conclusion that the report is doing exactly the opposite? Like I said, there’s some kind of disconnect between what you’re saying and what the report is saying.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Read the report and give me your opinion. I think the executive summary (and the wikipedia precis) are more politically charged and leave out important caveats that show just how uncertain Stern’s conclusions are.

          • Rob Honeycutt

            Thomas said, “It in and of itself is not ‘life threatening.’”

            I’m curious how do you come up with this conclusion when every National Academy of Science on the planet is telling us pretty much the opposite?

            Later this century we will be approaching 10 billion people on the planet. Climate change, unchecked, is highly likely to have serious impacts on crop production. How do you tell the billions who can barely afford bread today that the price has tripled or quadrupled?

            Ocean fishing is the primary food source for a large portion of the world population. Ocean acidification threatens to significantly disrupt the base of the ocean food chain and potentially cause a collapse of ocean ecosystems. What happens when that food source is severely impinged upon?

            This is not as benign as issue as you seem to believe.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Hi Rob

            As is often the case, you are buttressing your case for the effects of climate change by choosing examples clouded by other factors that very much seem to dwarf the contributions of the warming we have experienced to date.

            Attribution of the problems with the ocean food chain would likely result in a score something like 95% overfishing, 4% habitat destruction and pollution and perhaps 1% due to anthropogenic contributions due to greenhouse emissions. Humanity is the culprit, but global warming is still waiting in the wings, as far as being a contributor.

          • Thomas Fuller

            Regarding the effects of climate change on agriculture, the IPCC has addressed this repeatedly. Some areas will gain,some will lose and agriculture, helped immensely by technology and bringing developing countries up to modern benchmarks of performance, will be adequate to meet the needs of the population through to its peak in about 2075.

  • jh

    “There is no question that global warming is real, but the science
    linking any one hurricane, drought, or flood to climate change is shaky,
    at best.”

    That would be very hard to do indeed if there were no trend of increasing hurricanes, droughts or floods – and there is no trend of of increasing hurricanes, droughts or floods. Until such a trend appears, any kind of research results linking any single event or string of events to climate change will be more than shaky.

  • Eli Rabett

    There is strong evidence that the most powerful storms have been getting stronger since 1981.
    Since this is a base prediction of Emanuel and of the GCMs, well, like
    minnows in the milk, it is a strong indicator that something is fishy

  • Craig King

    The “denialists” as you pejoratively call them, have the opinion that the historical record of weather events shows no trend and no supernatural extremes. The debate today is about hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons and Dr. Ryan Maue has a group of very useful graphs showing that as CO2 has been rising activity has not been doing anything much except perhaps decreasing.

    http://models.weatherbell.com/tropical.php

    You can characterise Anthony Watts as you do but somebody has to counter what seems to be motivated reporting in the legacy media. Statements such as those made by the Philippine delegate to Warsaw this week was an unscientific and emotional response to the tragedy his homeland had experienced while the one made by Mrs Figuerres was political as she is determined to restructure the world economic system to suit wealth redistribution.

    You, and many of your readers, may well wish for many of what you perceive as benefits flowing from our stopping burning stuff which is fine as far as it goes but the actual science that links man made CO2 to Global Warming/ Climate Change is very weak indeed. It is all inferential except for the fact that CO2 is a radiative gas and that is demonstrated by all of the climate models being unable to match currently observed reality. They don’t even agree amongst themselves and this all shows that the science they are based on is either incomplete or plain wrong.

    I have no axe to grind in all of this except I will point out that anything built on a lie will fail.

    • Dave123

      Then you’re making apples and oranges comparisons, and making claims about the IPCC is saying that are clearly false. Now do we need to quote you chapter and verse on this, or will you investigate the IPCC on your own?

      Here- look at another point of view:

      http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00262.1

  • Thomas Fuller

    There was a time that I would have caught all three… (obscure cinematic reference). There was a time when this post would have attracted comment luminaries from both sides and from the much-despised middle as well. The absence of folk like BBD, Marlowe Johnson, Brandon Schollenberg and many more is telling. But what does it tell?

    Does it mean something is wrong with your blogging, Keith? No, I don’t think so. The commenters haven’t switched allegiance to another venue. BBD still hangs out at Deltoid, as he always did, so we know he’s okay, but he’s quit evangelizing in neutral territory. The same is true for the others, who have taken to frequenting safer spaces. For now, the fight seems to have left the contestants exhausted.

    Perhaps there’s something wrong with your post? No–you’re still on point, recognizing that this current spat is just a replay of what has become the standard response by both sides. Both teams have won tactical victories with it, so until a defeat is administered there’s no reason to change.

    Has interest in climate change waned, then? Yes, a little, if the number of comments on climate blogs is any indication. Curry’s blog now gets 100-300 comments per post, down by half. The same is true for Watts, Real Climate and McIntyre. Here at CaS, I don’t remember the last time I saw Fleck, Yulsman or Gilligan here–they were often the yeast that brought forth interesting discussions. Nor do I remember the last time you did something like your conversations with Curry or Schmidt. So when I say interest has waned a bit, I am including your interest in the topic.

    As for the meat of the matter here, you cover the spectrum of beliefs on Xtreme Weather without really saying where you stand. And yet the science of those concerned about climate change–the IPCC and others–support the idea that the high impact events we see should best be viewed as a preview of coming attractions, not as the first wave of biblical plagues being visited upon us now. Climate change, if it continues, will produce extreme weather events. But not today. Not for another few decades.

    It is perhaps the scientific weakness of this current round of arguments that is producing apathy on both sides of the issue. Xtreme weather is hard to take seriously from a scientific point of view, or as Pielke points out so frequently, from an actuarial standpoint either.

    I guess what I’m saying is that you were right to shift the focus of CaS so dramatically. This topic is for now exhausted. I think so are some of the debate’s participants.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Keith Kloor

      The debate was exhausted and running in circles long before today. Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have. People must really be invested in the various arguments.

      This blog was never intended to be climate-centric. But climate change is a multi-faceted topic (the politics, policy, and science), overlapping with energy, security and other issues, so there was/is a lot to chew on.

      It’ll still be a mainstay, especially when climate change is in the news, just not constant.

      • jh

        To me climate change has two critical battlegrounds:

        1) the certainty that most policies advocated by the left will result in low economic growth and significantly reduced opportunity and quality of life for most people around the world (which includes me);

        2) the integrity of science, which is gravely threatened by the crossover of scientists from basic research into advocacy-generated research. This problem extends well beyond climate science and is especially rampant in social sciences. But climate science presents a unique opportunity to confront it because, with climate science, definitive data will ultimately emerge, whereas in social sciences, definitive data almost never emerges to confirm or reject anything, and the argument will almost always remain ideological.

        • thrib

          Keith,

          “Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have.”

          OK, I show up here every now and then. I’m often rude, and I always regret it. I always regret being rude. There’s really no excuse. But then I do it again. Why? It seems you just know how to irritate me. Perhaps the only answer is to decide once and for all not to come here again. Having said all that, what the hell is this??:

          “Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have.”

          I’ve repeated it because it’s just so immense. You honestly don’t understand why people should be obsessed by this? There are people who believe that life on earth is about to end because of CO2. There are people (like me) who believe that we are all hamstringing ourselves as an emotional response to an unwarranted fear. And for me, the immediate concern is how I’m going to be able to pay my heating bill this winter.

          This isn’t an academic debate. Twit. This is about truth, honesty, future prosperity. This is about whether an incredibly seductive meme should be allowed to flourish unchecked even if it’s totally wrong, while it destroys my ability to financially survive. (For other people, it’s about whether we should blunder onwards emitting pollution that destroys the planet.)

          “Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have.”

          What?? Why do you even write here, if you don’t get the answer to that question?

        • Benjamin Funar

          I think you fail to grasp the enormous resources and motives of the energy & tobacco companies to spread lies, misinformation and doubt on this issue. You have EVERY national scientific academy and EVERY professional scientific & engineering organization endorsing the consensus AGW science while a well honed group of PR shops like Heartland, Heritage and others use their media savvy to pump misinformation and controversy.

          The fact that you are here a doubter of the integrity, professional honesty and character of 30,000+ climate scientists is testimony to how good those PR shops are at their job.

          The PR shops got decades of practice fighting the link between smoking and cancer, between DDT and environmental effects, between arsenic and mesothelioma, and have brought the exact same tactics to sow doubt about AGW. Their media prowess is vastly greater now than then and we’ve become so much more polarized as a society that they have an easier time making rational people think and act irrationally.

          The scientists can do better and I agree we should expect them to keep improving. Ironically, people like you are here claiming all their theories have been called into question by variations in the precision of their predictions. As if that’s how scientific theories are over turned.

          It’s not.

          You have to provide a new theory of what doubling CO2 will do in a planetary ecosystem that accounts for the massive additional energy and somehow doesn’t melt all the ice, expand the oceans and cause long term changes in the atmosphere.

          Without that, cherry picking trends and attacking the caveats the scientists themselves called out is just doing the work of the energy and tobacco companies that are trying to manipulate the policy in their favor – to the detriment of millions of human beings.

      • thrib

        Keith,

        “Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have.”

        OK, I show up here every now and then. I’m often rude, and I always regret it. I always regret being rude. There’s really no excuse. But then I do it again. Why? It seems you just know how to irritate me. Perhaps the only answer is to decide once and for all not to come here again. Having said all that, what the hell is this??:

        “Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have.”

        I’ve repeated it because it’s just so immense. You honestly don’t understand why people should be obsessed by this? There are people who believe that life on earth is about to end because of CO2. There are people (like me) who believe that we are all hamstringing ourselves as an emotional response to an unwarranted fear. And for me, the immediate concern is how I’m going to be able to pay my heating bill this winter.

        This isn’t an academic debate. Twit. This is about truth, honesty, future prosperity. This is about whether an incredibly seductive meme should be allowed to flourish unchecked even if it’s totally wrong, while it destroys my ability to financially survive. (For other people, it’s about whether we should blunder onwards emitting pollution that destroys the planet.)

        “Personally, I don’t understand the single-minded obsession that many still have.”

        What?? Why do you even write here, if you don’t get the answer to that question?

    • Tom Scharf

      It’s simple. This subject has gotten BORING. Climate groundhog day continues ad infinitum. We can all write each other’s post with near 100% accuracy.

      The pause continues, the IPCC responds by becoming even more confident in their predictions. A collective yawn occurs.

      Some of the lowest ever tornado and hurricane strength/count years, and what makes the eco headlines? What does Trenberth et. al. “blame” the continuing record lack of US landfalls on? No comment. Yawn.

      The facts stopped mattering a long time ago. It would be trench warfare but everyone has left the trenches at this point and gone back home. This cause is politically dead.

      • thrib

        I’m assuming that you don’t live in a country that has turned alarmism into policy. In the UK, we are fecked. But good luck to you and the other Tom for whom this is a tired old dead problem.

        Some of us live under governments that bought into the whole fecking nonsense. We are haemorrhaging wealth. And I can’t afford it.

  • Stu

    Sometimes I feel the only reason I’m still engaged with this issue is because of the annoyance I feel every time a weather event (always negative) gets connected to climate change and splashed all over the news. People will say ‘this is what things will look like in a warmer world’. When actually this is what things look like now and what things looked like 10/20/50/100/500 years ago. People HIDE behind the notion that extreme weather is ‘coming soon’, while simultaneously implying, very understatedly and softly of course, that it’s already here now, which further implies that it was somehow absent before carbon dioxide began rising. ‘The new normal’ says it just perfectly.

  • Mogumbo Gono

    The debate is politicized because the climate alarmist faction does not have the facts, or the scientific evidence necessary to support their belief system. Thus, they have made the debate political.

    The endless predictions of runaway global warming have been thoroughly debunked by the ultimate Authority: Planet Earth, which is simply not warming as predicted. But the demonization of “carbon” continues, despite the plain fact that CO2 has not caused any measurable global warming.

    So why do the climate alarmists refuse to admit that they have been proven wrong? The answer is found here:

    “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth, if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

    ~Leo Tolstoy

    That’s it in a nutshell. The alarmist crowd simply cannot admit that they are wrong. But the general public sees it, and that is why support is eroding for a carbon tax, or any other pseudo-scientific nonsense.

    • Benjamin Funar

      Bullsh!t.

      Scientists learned of CO2 radiative forcing in the 19th C and predicted more of it would trap more heat and raise temperatures. By the 1950s rudimentary models showed that more CO2 MUST trap more heat. 93% in the ocean, 3% in land, 2% atmosphere, 2% in ice sheets.

      Get that… 2% into the atmosphere! (Determined 50+ years ago)

      When we notice lulls in atmospheric temperatures while ice sheets are shrinking faster than predicted and the oceans are heating faster than predicted that doesn’t mean heating has stopped. It’s physically impossible to take CO2 from 280ppm to 400pm and not trap more heat.

      Carping at graphs and curves by cherry picking trend lines doesn’t change the physics, and doesn’t offer an alternative explanation. That’s what you have to do be right. Not to rest self righteous, ignorant laurels and proclaim all the experts buffoons.

      Thanks for bloviating.

      • jh

        “notice lulls in atmospheric temperatures” (not predicted)

        “ice sheets are shrinking faster” (incorrectly predicted)

        “oceans are heating faster” (incorrectly predicted with such scant data that prediction was unwarranted)

        [lack of extreme weather link, not predicted]

        So all the major features of AGW were either not predicted or were incorrectly predicted, while one of the most touted manifestations has failed to emerge, and you still regard further predictions as reliable? I find your position rather startling.

        Like many of the most credulous proponents of climate policy, you make the bait and switch. You claim, in effect:

        because global temps are rising [true], climate change must be apocalyptic [false].

        The second doesn’t follow from the first. As yet,the second and always implicit claim is unsupported by observations. The fact that CO2 influences global temperatures does not necessitate increasing drought, more frequent or intense tropical storms, thunderstorms, tornadoes, rain events or floods.

        I rarely find a person on the warming side of the debate willing to acknowledge (let alone discuss) this reality. When I bring it up, they go away. Interesting.

        • Benjamin Funar

          OK, I’m game. Let’s take these one at a time.

          Again, we start with the physics. Take heat trapping gasses like CO2, methane and fluorocarbons and increase them in any planetary atmosphere and more solar radiation will be trapped within the planetary heat reservoirs. If there’s ice – it goes there, if there’s water – it goes there, if there’s land- it goes there, and the atmosphere that’s trapping it, will be influenced by all of those heat reservoirs exchanging heat with it as well as the additional solar radiation.

          Satellites have measured this heat imbalance for the past 7 years and it comes to about 0.6 Watts per square meter per second. That’s about 125 billion Watts per second! Right now. And now, and now…. When we look back over the paleoclimate history we have (tree rings, ice cores, sediments etc.) the rate of increase in heat trapping gasses like CO2 in less than 150 years is unprecedented. So whatever is going to happen next because of all this excess heat is speculative. Although we can look at things like sea levels the last time CO2 was at 400ppm to get some sense.

          Models and science don’t make precise predictions, they include all kinds of caveats about the complex factors involved in real systems. The Higgs Boson was predicted 50 years ago and most of the predicted energies were wrong but its existence and its general range of energy values was well characterized.

          Same with climate science. The trend is atmospheric temps is upwards for the past 150 years with multiple periods of 10 year lulls. The current lull is also still quite within the range of error bars in the predictions.

          You wouldn’t say physicists are all self deluded charlatans because they mostly got the precise energy of the Higgs Boson wrong, but you seem quite willing to call climate scientists disingenuous hacks based on where you deem the error bars should be in their predictions.

          All that excess heat has to do two things. Increase the temperature of the oceans which causes the 391 million square miles of it to expand and it has to melt ice in glaciers and ice caps. It’s doing that. The secondary effects of that i.e. atmospheric temperatures are much harder to predict but must be impacted given the causal links between those systems.

          By how much? That’s a tough science to get right. The last time we have 400ppm CO2 sea levels were 82 feet higher than today and sea levels are increasing right now because of the two effects above.

          Based on the science we know today we’ve wrecked most of our coastal cities within 300 years already. Even stopping CO2 right now changes nothing about the sea level rise coming in the next few hundred years. We’ve already committed ourselves to live in a world of Amsterdams and Venices. How quickly and how much other damage we’ve signed up for, that’s speculative.

          But it’s not chicken little, it’s a matter of degree. So what should climate scientists be doing when all their models show that much change due to CO2?

  • http://henrymiller.me/ Henry Miller

    “But attributing individual events, or even runs of such events,
    to climate change is ill advised without a deep understanding of
    underlying physical causes…”

    Precisely!

  • keithpridgeon

    Yawn….The weather to day is not like it as 200 years ago when we were in the little ice age, it’s warmer. It’s also not like it was 900 years ago when the planet was experiencing the medieval optimum it’s a little cooler.

  • harkin

    Using the word “denialist” pretty much invalidates this entire article.
    No one denies climate and insisting that those blaming man for global warming errrrr climate change provide backup data is not anti-science.

  • mf

    I am wondering if Distinguished Academias and Exulted Societies thought this one through: what will happen when the majority reluctantly concludes that contemporary Academia is just a branch of leftwing agitprop?

  • thrib

    I have a question.

    28 people have “liked” my original comment on this post. For me, this is totally unprecedented. Where are you chaps coming from? I’ve looked at all the blogs that I frequent and I can’t see any link.

    Are you all coming from a blog that I haven’t yet discovered?

    I only ask as, well, I’ve always fancied being revered as a god (a la “The Man Who Would Be King”). Is there somewhere on the internet where this might be possible for me?

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Collide-a-Scape

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

About Keith Kloor

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

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