Mike Mann on Point of Inquiry: Climate Denial Astroturfing Online?

By Chris Mooney | March 1, 2010 12:37 pm

There are now some 51 comments at the Point of Inquiry forums on the latest show. But so far none are getting into what I found most intriguing in my interview with Mike Mann.

When I asked his views on the “really energized global warming movement on the web” at around minute 31:30, Mann suggested something that has been on a lot of our minds—namely, that although it may appear that online climate deniers are really fired up right now on the web (hence all the comments on everybody’s blog), he suspects some of it is astroturfing:

The anti-science industry has fully exploited the resources made available by the World Wide Web. So it isn’t coincidental. It isn’t like that’s an organic thing that has emerged from grassroots anti-climate change activists….

In the exchange, which runs about 2 minutes, I tell Mann I too have my suspicions, but at the same time, am skeptical and would want to see some solid proof before I fully buy into this idea. After all, there really is a groundswell on the political right at the moment (see the Tea Party movement) and that is surely also spilling over into the climate denial blogosphere. And that would be, I guess, “organic.” So the question is, how could we tell the two apart?

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet I encourage you to listen to the Mike Mann interview here, and to subscribe to the Point of Inquiry podcast via iTunes.

Comments (263)

  1. moptop

    The Tea Partiers were dismissed as “Astroturf” right up until they won Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat.

    Do you guys ever get tired of this same old line? Astroturfing, Big Oil…. As was pointed out here, at some time a conspiracy theory has to fail when it becomes clear that a huge number of people must be involved.

    Where do I pick up my checks? Could you tell me that? Nobody has ever demonstrated in the least way that Steve McIntyre, for example, is anything other than a retired mining engineer with time on his hands and a solid foundation in mathematics.

  2. moptop

    Besides which, even if we stipulate astroturf, for the sake of argument, you still need to answer the questions, and it should be quite easy, given the strength of the evidence. But even Briffa and Jones were making jokes about Mann’s ability to turn everything into a hockey stick in the Dahn dah dannn! climategate emails.

  3. bilbo

    So the question is, how could we tell the two apart?

    You will know them by their talking points. It’s fairly easy to tell.

  4. Somite

    Science is not done by astroturfing, it is done though publication and peer-review. If you have a scientific point to make don’t tell bloggers, politicians or me. Get our data and publish it!

  5. TTT

    Speaking of astroturf: for some YEARS on the Usenet group sci.environment (and possibly elsewhere), the Competitive Enterprise Institute would send one Andrew Langer, “Director of Development,” to troll and stir up confusion and frivolous debates, as well as crossposting the group with flamebaiting topics such as Israel vs Palestine. Several of the other users there made posting profiles for CEI staff, noting they were busiest during normal 9-5 operating hours; CEI’s response was just to add .sigs to their messages saying “I am not paid to post here.”

  6. bilbo

    Where do I pick up my checks? Could you tell me that?

    That’s the precisely the issue. Like the Tea Partiers claiming grassroots individualism while being oblivious to the mass media sponsorship and funding being funnelled from FNC, most climate deniers have no clue they’re part of an astroturfing campaign. It’s clever, really; you design the campaign specifically to play into a group’s confirmation biases (in this case, science denial and a vehement anti-liberalism and anti-intellectualism), and they do all the work for you.

    All you have to do is provide the funding and a bit of misinformation to get that snowball rolling. The same thing has happened with anti-vax, although there’s no industry bloc behind it.

  7. Busiturtle

    bilbo @ 6: “It’s clever, really; you design the campaign specifically to play into a group’s confirmation biases”

    You ought to be careful about making claims that are as applicable to your side as you believe them to apply to the other.

    What is so hard about making the data public and freely exchanging information on methods and application? Is not that what science should be about?

  8. moptop

    Anything but answer the questions, eh bilbo?

    I tell Mann I too have my suspicions, but at the same time, am skeptical and would want to see some solid proof before I fully buy into this idea.

    Maybe that is the difference between Chris and Mann, Mann’s standards of proof are notoriously low, viz National Academy of Sciences and 400 yr endorsement of Mann’s 1000 yr hockey stick.

  9. moptop

    bilbo,
    Could you define “anti intellectualism” for me? Or anybody else here? Because I really do think that gets to the nub of the matter.

  10. The problem with this thread, and also with Sheril’s on the Value of Science Blogs is that for most, it has nothing to do with either science of science journalism. It is rather more about wining an ideological war. There, they follow the Red Saunders (mis-attributed to Lombardi) dictum “Winning isn’t every thing, It’s the only thing.”

  11. Busiturtle

    Prof Jones today said it was not ‘standard practice’ in climate science to release data and methodology for scientific findings so that other scientists could check and challenge the research.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1254660/Climategate-expert-tells-MPs.html#ixzz0gxGJ6K2M

    I love the “Trust Me” argument. It’s the same one Bernie Madoff used as he burned through $18 billion of his clients’ money.

  12. moptop

    “I love the “Trust Me” argument. It’s the same one Bernie Madoff used as he burned through $18 billion of his clients’ money.”

    What are you, some kind of anti intellectual?

  13. Guy

    It’s interesting how ignorant some people are regarding industry sponsored front groups and their methods.

    Just do a search for Richard Berman aka “The real doctor evil” and “front groups” and you’ll find an abundance of information on the subject.

    It would be funny how quickly the ignorant become unwitting shills for special interests if it were not such an effective means of spreading viral memes.

  14. moptop

    OK, since nobody will bite on my “anti-intellectualism” gambit, which I think is very on topic for this discussion, I will offer a definition that I doubt any of you could quarrel with:

    we may take anti-intellectualism
    to consist of whatever discourse subverts
    conditions that enable intellectual life to flourish: an open
    horizon of interrogation, a plurality of sources of knowledge,
    the right to dissent, the freedom to challenge certainties
    and authorities, the capacity to pursue independent
    research and investigation.

    Just to assure you that the authors are of a politically correct frame of mind, here is another sample:

    Not surprisingly, the avowed enemies of contemporary
    anti-intellectualism reside in education and in media,
    two domains of enormous influence in matters of formation,
    cultivation, and refinement of democratic consciousness.
    But this current development has its roots in the
    Right’s reaction to the United States’ post-Vietnam conditions,
    particularly the fact that the student movement and
    an independent press played the most crucial role in the
    demise of the Nixon administration.

    http://www.edcourses.net/Ebooks%20Backup/Sociology/Darity%20(ed)%20International%20Encyclopedia%20of%20social%20sciences/04_-_Inequality,Income_-_Marxism,Black.pdf

    You tell me who is the anti-intellectual by the above definition, Dr Mann or Mr McIntyre?

  15. GM

    The blog post fails to mention the claim Mann made about the IPs of trolls on RealClimate that were traced to fossil fuels companies…

    So it isn’t like it’s mere speculation. In the same time this isn’t enough evidence either, it might be that employees at such places really like to spend their time trolling science blogs, just the same way a lot of scientists spend more time than they should refuting them

  16. Arthur Reader

    It’s interesting how ignorant some people are regarding industry sponsored front groups and their methods.

    It’s interesting how the discourse of alarmists so precisely mimic those of creationists, whose obsessions with people unwittingly being tools of the Devil, and with those same people being in denial of the Apocalypse and the Judgement Day. It certainly beats talking about evidence, reason and fact, and the pay’s just the same.

    Of course, in the interests of completeness we should not mention that the CRU was funded by fossil fuel and nuclear power interests from the very beginning. That would be tasteless, even if entirely true.

  17. Guy

    @Arthur,

    Your post makes me wonder how many comments here are by unwitting shills for denial-ism and those of paid professionals. Maybe Discovery’s IT staff should do some IP logging and trace the source of these comments like RealClimate is doing.

  18. MartyM

    Grass Root? You mean like this kind of grass roots? (Corporate backed “public” protest of climate change policy)

  19. AMac

    Um.

    I think I am the suspected Astroturfer that Chris is talking about from the associated CFI Forum thread.

    I’m not sure how I would tell if I was an unwitting shill for denial-ism. Actually, it sounds like I couldn’t possibly know.

    What I thought I was doing was engaging on a subject that I find interesting. The other commenters have positions on the issues that are different from mine, but we seem to share a curiosity about some AGW-related issues.

    As far as Discovery’s IT staff doing some IP logging to trace the source of these comments. Chris has my address, couldn’t he email me instead?

  20. MartyM
  21. matt

    I don’t see how people don’t question the notion of “climate change” when there’s obvious evidence that would lead any self proclaimed skeptic to question the claims. Einstein put it best, “the important thing is to never stop questioning…”.

  22. Busiturtle

    MartyM @ 20

    Where in the constitution does it say that the right to assembly does not apply to the Petroleum industry, its employees or community members? In your list of good guys and bad guys where do farmers fit? How about ranchers? Firemen? Police? Teachers? Lawyers?

    Without a doubt what has surprised me most in the time I’ve spent on this forum is the inability of AGW advocates to engage in discourse without resorting to name calling and group labeling. Whatever happened to judging an argument by its merits?

    Many in the climate science movement have and will benefit financially and professionally by climate science legislation. Does this mean we should nullify their advocacy since it is self-interested? Why the double standard, MartyM?

  23. Jon

    Ditto what someone above said about astroturfing and IP addresses. How many IP addresses come from the DC area? How many specifically come from conservative think tanks, or fossil fuel lobbying organizations?

    You also have the “outsourced” troll industry:

    http://peakenergy.blogspot.com/2006/06/netvocates-privatised-propaganda.html

    If you’ve got the “outsourced” trolls (trash talking in their pajamas), and the “pros,” (members of the “conservative new class” working in their spare time that people like Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Sleeper have alluded to), then throw in enough fossil fuel money and a list of key sites to troll, then you could have a pretty sizable (and potentially effective) online hired claque.

  24. Jon

    Ditto what someone above said about astroturfing and IP addresses. How many IP addresses come from the DC area? How many specifically come from conservative think tanks, or fossil fuel lobbying organizations?

    You also have the “outsourced” troll industry:

    http://peakenergy.blogspot.com/2006/06/netvocates-privatised-propaganda.html

    If you’ve got the “outsourced” trolls (trash talking in their pajamas), and the “pros,” (members of the “conservative new cl@ss” working in their spare time, that people like Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Sleeper have alluded to), then throw in enough fossil fuel money and a list of key sites to troll, then you could have a pretty sizable (and potentially effective) online hired claque.

  25. bilbo

    This may be a little too conspiracy-minded myself, but the similarity between talking points from different posters begs the IP address question.

  26. matt

    I guess you guys have no idea that Al Gore’s company makes millions in “green” technologies, as do many other special interests in favor of the “alarmist” side, not to mention far left ideologues across the world.

  27. Moptop

    bilbo,
    If denialist astroturfers have taken over my brain and are using me as an unwitting tool, there should be an easy way to break the spell. You could point me to the peer reviewed paper that supports Mann’s 1,000 year claim of climate stability prior to 1980, and over-rules the NAS finding that only 400 years could be supported?

    If you redefine that question as a “talking point,” does that mean that there is no need to answer it? Wouldn’t answering it be a more effective way of countering it? Surely, you can come up with something?

  28. Milton C.

    …and post #27 is what we call a hurried, panicked attempt at deflection. There might be something to the IP tracking, folks. It’s seemed to scare moptop into full-on “hurry! change the topic!” mode.

  29. Jon

    If denialist astroturfers have taken over my brain and are using me as an unwitting tool…

    No one said anything about “unwitting.” I think the term of art on the more unruly intertubes is “wingnut welfare.” Or the polite term is “fellowships”, as this piece reports.

  30. Eamon

    It’s hard to tell. Many denialists I come across on the web are either people who have been confused by biased sources, or angry people for whom an anti-AGW stance fits right in with their other biases.

    Sure there could be astroturfing occuring in places – but the primer for most denialist stuff, at least as it appears to me, is the media: TV, Newspapers, and Prominent Blogs. Is there co-ordination between these? Yes, but that isn’t the same as Astroturfing.

  31. NW Geologist

    I think there was Astroturfing on the AGW side way started years ago. I’m betting a check on IP adx of supporters of AGW would show many more are from Universities, research groups, lobbiest & corporations that will benefit from Cap & Trade laws, government research grants and others who will benefit from such destructive measures on our market. Billions have been spent to prove AGW and very little on the critic side.

    Can you please refer to those who question AGW as “Critics”? That is a much more appropriate name. That is if you are trying to be unbiased.

    Critics aren’t necessarily from the right and with the explosion of the Web & the information available. I have become much more active in some local comments etc. Anthony Watt’s site, Whatsupwiththat.com is much more informative and very up todate. Heck he even covers Climategate very well. You might want to check his study of Temp ground stations & how they are being influenced by man caused sources.

    Those who still support AGW after Climategate, either aren’t paying attention to the information coming out or are religous zellots for the cause…. or just getting big grants from the gov.

  32. ChrisD

    @matt:

    I guess you guys have no idea that Al Gore’s company makes millions in “green” technologies, as do many other special interests in favor of the “alarmist” side, not to mention far left ideologues across the world.

    You can’t refute science with this sort of thing. You have to refute science with science. How Al Gore makes his living has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the scientists all over the world are right or wrong. You have to find something wrong with the research.

  33. ChrisD

    @moptop:

    The Tea Partiers were dismissed as “Astroturf” right up until they won Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat.

    Oh, come on. Scott Brown is no Tea Partier, and you know it.

  34. lelnguye

    actually … aren’t the tea partiers still being dismissed as astroturfing?

    oh, and look how great Scott Brown turned out for the Tea Party movement … because of him, everyone in the world is taking them seriously now

  35. Moptop

    I think I know Scott Brown better than you do. Every day for weeks during his campaign, he would come on radio shows and take all questions from anybody, unscreened.

    I think you are the ones who are in “denial.” He may not be a “tea partier”, but tea partiers got him elected because he spoke to their concerns.

    “It’s seemed to scare moptop into full-on “hurry! change the topic!” mode.”

    I ask again, who is being anti intellectual here? Or am I misunderstanding the term “anti-intellectual”? Does it actually mean insufficient deference to peer review? What is the topic of this thread anyway?

    I don’t know how I am supposed to respond to a topic in which I am accused by inference of being a witting and paid minion of the darkest evil underbelly of capitalism? Or an unpaid and unwitting stooge.

    Like I said, nobody will answer my question, because nobody can. Does that make it a talking point? Whatever, that is irrelevant. The best you will do is find a paper published in 2007, I believe, that supports him back 600 yrs, but with questionable (in my humble opinion) methods. Even using these methods, the paper does not support Mann’s dismissal of the Medieval Warm Period.

    Why am I insisting on this point? Because the claim has been made that these questions skeptics have are meaningless talking points. These questions have no validity because they are pushed by astroturfers. Yet anybody can see that the question is straightforward and has a simple and direct answer. You guys would rather talk about conspiracy theories. Well, the internet is a big place, and you will surely find just about anything you are looking for, that doesn’t relieve you of the obligation to “teach climate science,” remember that suggestion from just a short while ago? If you could knock down this argument, what a great way to teach me something and shut me up. Sure, I have more, but I do not have an infinite supply.

  36. Arthur Reader

    @Guy

    As everyone can see, the first resort of a paranoid mind is to impute some hidden conspiracy behind opinions that you don’t like.

    You won’t argue on the facts. You won’t argue on the evidence.

    Instead your mind is filled with paranoid conspiracy theories in the finest traditions of Joe McCarthy, Trofim Lysenko and Michael Mann. You’ll trot out the tired canard of “fossil fuel funded denialism” because you don’t have a rational argument worth defending (especially when the CRU has been so well funded by fossil fuel companies, natch).

    You want to see “suspiciously similar comments”? Go to RealClimate (also known as SurrealClimate) for rampant censorship of opposing views and a nice EDF-funded echochamber of astroturfers, neo-creationists and fellow anti-scientists. Its so one-sided that Michael Mann boasted to the other Climategaters how well he could control the debate. Of course, Chris was too bashful to ask him about that one, or even what Mike’s “Nature Trick” was.

    Meanwhile the Royal Statistical Society, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Chemistry Society have all come out in support of open books, open data and open science and against Michael “we won’t be intimidated into releasing our algorithms” Mann and Phil “standard practice to keep data secret” Jones.

    Never mind about the facts. Smear and slime your opponents.

    It’s all a conspiracy don’t you know?

  37. bad Jim

    It’s true, it’s not all astroturf. Wingnuts are happy to pollute the discourse for free. It feels like 2003 and the beating of the drums for the invasion of Iraq, and of course there is considerable overlap between climate change denialists and war supporters, tea partiers and creationists. Not all, but perhaps a majority fits within the intersection.

  38. ChrisD

    @Arthur Reader

    As everyone can see, the first resort of a paranoid mind is to impute some hidden conspiracy behind opinions that you don’t like. You won’t argue on the facts. You won’t argue on the evidence. Instead your mind is filled with paranoid conspiracy theories….

    You do recognize the irony of your comment, don’t you? You understand that the foundation of many of the attacks on climate science is the worldwide conspiracy/scam/hoax, right?

  39. Jon

    I’m betting a check on IP adx of supporters of AGW would show many more are from Universities, research groups, lobbiest & corporations that will benefit from Cap & Trade laws

    As I’ve said before, sites like Scienceblogs (where Chris blogged for years) got interested in science politics because it was under attack from the Bush administration and its base. They were interested in protecting science from politics. The present crop of denialists are interested in protecting their politics from science.

    If you go over to Scienceblogs right now, probably almost no one is blogging about the hairy details Scott Brown’s politics (as some of the above commenters seem to be). They couldn’t care less. Because they’re not interested in politics. They’re interested in *science,* and only got interested in politics because things got particularly bad under the Bush administration.

    You can see this in the present issue Chris has with the New Atheists. It has nothing to do with government grants, lobbyists, etc. It is a reaction to the excesses of the religious right and conservative movement politics, and for them the issue of climate change denialism is an extension of those excesses. But religion, for them, is a more potent symbol of what they see as the problem. It has nothing to do with lobbyists, it has to do with conservative movement excesses. (Excesses that Paul Krugman describes concisely in one of my favorite columns of his.)

  40. Jon

    If university and research IP addresses are over-represented by defenders of science in these threads, it’s because educated people are the ones most sensitive to the issues Paul Krugman describes in his column, not because they’re hoping for a cash pinata from the government (which is an absolutely ridiculous notion).

  41. Kevin

    So now we are controlling free expression by removing comments that are skeptical of Chris Mooney’s rhetoric?

  42. Kevin

    Let’s try again:

    Chris, your interview characterizes requests for climate data via FOI as harassment. Given your book, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future, where does scientific illiteracy end and harassment begin?

  43. Tim

    One thing I have noticed is alarmists are very good a projecting their own flaws and motivations onto the sceptics. The complaint that sceptics are letting their ideology colour their view of the science is perhaps the most ironic because most alarmists don’t care what the science says – they only care about seeing their preferred policies get implemented even if the science shows they have no chance of solving the alleged problem.

    To illustrate: all credible economic analyses that look at the actual cost of replacing our fossil fuel based energy infrastructure with a non-emitting one by 2050 show that the cost for the US alone starts at 400 billion per year and increases from there. More realistic estimates put the cost at $800 billion per year and that assumes the technology works as advertised (zero chance of the that happening).

    To imagine the scale of the problem consider the interstate highway system which laid down 3200 sqkm of pavement over 20 years. Replacing a fraction of the US electrical generation capacity with solar PV would require 20,000-40,000 sqkm of solar panels which cost considerably more per sqft than pavement.

    The bottom line is it does not make a difference what the science says because it is economically impossible to reduce emissions to the levels demanded within the timeframes being discussed. This means that anyone who really cares about the science should be demanding that we focus on adaptation because that is the only available option. Yet most alarmists refuse to discuss that option because the see carbon regulation as a way to expand the power of government and redistribute income. Building dikes and dams does not provide the same ideological payback.

  44. bilbo

    oh, and look how great Scott Brown turned out for the Tea Party movement … because of him, everyone in the world is taking them seriously now

    …except for that whole voting-with-the-Democrats things that got all the Tea Party bigwigs lashing out at him….

    Chris, your interview characterizes requests for climate data via FOI as harassment.

    50 FOI requests a month for already-available data is very much harrassment

  45. Milton C.

    I’m betting a check on IP adx of supporters of AGW would show many more are from Universities, research groups, lobbiest & corporations that will benefit from Cap & Trade laws

    NW Geo,

    I’m a professional at a research university. Could you explain to us how I’m going to benefit financially from cap-and-trade laws? Because that would be a new one to me.

  46. Busiturtle

    If I recall correctly Cold Fusion was proven to be a fraud because no one could replicate the claims made by Fleischmann and Pons.

    Who can replicate the claims made by Mann? Why does he get to decide that his work does not need to be independently verified?

  47. Jon

    By the way, the notion of a mob of a whole class educated professionals only motivated by a government cash pinata was a ridiculous notion even back when conservative ex-Marxists came up with this meme back in the 70’s. No doubt it made for an effective sound bite to stir up the base. But it doesn’t work here.

  48. Jon

    By the way, the notion of a mob of a whole cl@ss educated professionals only motivated by a government cash pinata was a ridiculous notion even back when conservative ex-Marxists came up with this meme back in the 70’s. No doubt it made for an effective sound bite to stir up the base. But it doesn’t work here.

  49. Jon

    Who can replicate the claims made by Mann?

    There are plenty of proxy studies done by people other than Mann.

  50. bilbo

    NW Geo,

    I’m a professional at a research university. Could you explain to us how I’m going to benefit financially from cap-and-trade laws? Because that would be a new one to me.

    That’s pretty simple denialist logic, Milton.

    1.) You work at a university
    2.) Therefore, you must be a flaming liberal
    3.) Therefore, you do not work for a living but receive your paychecks hand-delivered from President Obama himself.
    5.) President Obama supports cap-and-trade legislation
    6.) ….well, dammit, I can’t think of any support for NEW Geo’s claim outside of that. He either probably just thinks that liberals are going to receive some cap-and-trade check in the mail, or (seeing how he’s a geologist) he might actually be employed for a company that would be regulated and is thus trying to find scapegoats.

    Maybe both?

  51. Guy

    “You won’t argue on the facts. You won’t argue on the evidence. ”

    What more needs to be argued that hasn’t already been address by someone better qualified?

    If you have questions about AGW why don’t you go see if its already been answered on RealClimate?

    There’s a guy making pretty good fact based videos on youtube call “Crock of the Week.” You should probably check it out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWJeqgG3Tl8

  52. Eamon

    Jon@46 Yes, plenty of proxies giving hockeysticks – boreholes, glacer retreats, CO2 Ice Core readings…

    Take your pick Busiturtle.

  53. The AGW believers are experiencing the disruptive power of the Internet and blogs, not Astroturfing. AGW skeptics have learned to route around the media. For example, the Climategate emails were first delivered to the BBC, which sat on them, and then to blogs, which made them known worldwide. Matt Ridley has a good explanation of how it works.

  54. bilbo

    Yes, plenty of proxies giving hockeysticks – boreholes, glacer retreats, CO2 Ice Core readings…

    don’t forget diatoms, change in fossil communities, and mussel shells!

  55. bilbo

    The AGW believers are experiencing the disruptive power of the Internet and blogs

    Translation: we’re trying to scream loud enough and spread enough spin and misinformation to make people forget about all of this politically-inconvenient science.

  56. Milton C.

    The AGW believers are experiencing the disruptive power of the Internet and blogs

    Translation: we’re trying to scream loud enough and spread enough spin and misinformation to make people forget about all of this politically-inconvenient science.

    ‘…we tried it with the media, but since we couldn’t really substantiate anything, they didn’t want it.”

  57. bilbo,
    If you want to ignore what’s happening and blame it all on politics and ridicule skeptics, be my guest. That strategy isn’t working anymore. You might try to set aside your own biases and look into what’s happening with an open mind, instead of acting like a true believer.

  58. bilbo

    I forget which denialist it was that said this, but this statement was on a thread last week that I copied because it exemplifies confirmation bias so well:

    “I didn’t trust scientists years ago on any topic. Never have. Then, thanks to the Internet, now I can find all sorts of information that just confirms my suspiscions (sic). These people know that the truth is.”

    I should really make a t-shirt that says “confirmation bias (n.),” followed by that quote.

  59. ChrisD

    @Busiturtle:

    Who can replicate the claims made by Mann? Why does he get to decide that his work does not need to be independently verified?

    Lots of people have replicated Mann’s claims (to say nothing of all the other studies by other scientists using other data that lead to the same conclusion).

    You want to replicate it yourself? Knock yerself out. Here’s the data and the description of the algorithms:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v430/n6995/suppinfo/nature02478.html

    Not good enough? Here’s the code:

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/shared/research/MANNETAL98/

    Now, tell me again why you seem to think that Mann’s claims can’t be verified or replicated?

  60. bilbo

    So relying on rigorously-reviewed published science, backed by 30 years’ worth of independent evidence, over what Jim-Bob says on his personal blog is a “bias” now, Bradley? I’d love to hear an explanation of that.

    Also, while you’re at it, I’ll tell you precisely what will be enough to shatter the foundation of my so-called True BelieverTM status: provide me with the evidence (datasets, statistical analyses, results, and conclusions) that clearly and scientifically debunk 10 peer-reviewed papers out of the thousands that support global warming. I’m talking about going to the source: the papers that the IPCC uses to make its summaries.

    If you can do such a thing, it will go a long way towards actually making me a skeptic (and, for once, I’m not being facetious. I’m being dead serious).

  61. bilbo

    Now, tell me again why you seem to think that Mann’s claims can’t be verified or replicated?

    I’ve seen a lot of denialists go in, delete random sections of that code, and then proclaim that their graph doesn’t look the same, ChrisD. If only that cut it in the world of science….

  62. Moptop

    Back to the gutter… Have fun.

  63. bilbo,
    You’re not being serious, as your snarky dismissal of “Jim-Bob” shows. It’s also unclear what kind of “global warming” you’re talking about. The catastrophist version Hansen peddles? The more restrained version that Pielke Sr. talks about, that ranks CO2 as one forcing, along with others?

  64. Milton C.

    did moptop just call a reuqest for evidence “the gutter?” I sure hope not, or that one statement just supported about 5 of the denialist stereotypes at once.

  65. bilbo

    Why, the very science you claim to be false, Bradley! Since you’re trying to dance out of answering this directly, I’ll post it again: provide me with the evidence (datasets, statistical analyses, results, and conclusions) that clearly and scientifically debunk 10 peer-reviewed papers out of the thousands that support global warming. I’m talking about going to the source: the papers that the IPCC uses to make its summaries.

    If you can do such a thing, it will go a long way towards actually making me a skeptic (and, for once, I’m not being facetious. I’m being dead serious).

    That’s 10 papers Bradley, of your choice. Less than 0.1% of what’s out there as support of climate change.

    If you’re correct and I’m wrong….why not?

  66. “Denialist” is an offensive term used to equate AGW skeptics with Holocaust deniers. I thought people were trying to be civil here. That didn’t last long.

  67. Philip Jr.

    I’m interested too, Bradley. You seem to be one of the more levleheaded skeptics here, but it’s high time you guys put something substantial on the table in the way of why the science is wrong. Let’s see it.

  68. Bilbo,
    Again, which “science” are you saying I’m claiming is false? I’ve stated my position before on this blog, did you read it? (It was not total denial of any AGW effect). Did you just overlook it in your eagerness to claim I’m a “denialist”?

    No, you’re not serious.

  69. Vyspyr

    I’m interested too, Bradley. You seem to be one of the more levleheaded skeptics here, but it’s high time you guys put something substantial on the table in the way of why the science is wrong. Let’s see it.

    Ditto. I would easily turn down the road to skepticism if someone could actually meet that challenge with rigorous proof.

  70. Jon

    Right Moptop, there’s been no interesting comments since you last posted in #35. None of my comments about the conservative movement are interesting… None of the science buffs here posting corrections to busiturtle, et al, have any merit, they are just “gutter talk.” ; )

  71. bilbo

    Everyone watch Bradley J. Fikes do the evasion circle dance! One more time Bradley:

    provide me with the evidence (datasets, statistical analyses, results, and conclusions) that clearly and scientifically debunk 10 peer-reviewed papers out of the thousands that support global warming. I’m talking about going to the source: the papers that the IPCC uses to make its summaries.

    you get to choose, Bradley. Choose some of the ones you deem crappiest, even! If you’re right about the science, this is like throwing such a softball question to you, I don’t understand why you’d pass it up, unless you just can’t do it.

  72. Petra

    As a lurker on this thread, I’d just like to cut in to say I’d love to see Bradley answer bilbo’s “challenge.” It’s really more of a request for basic substantiation than anything else, Bradley. Trying to get out of it isn’t going to help you.

    Like others have said, if you could do this, I (a “True Believer”) would even have to think about changing my mind.

  73. Philip Jr.
    I’m skeptical of the extreme claims of AGW. The Himalayan glacier debacle is one example — NOT just because of the false date, but because studies show aerosols are the primary cause of melting, such as in this study by Lawrence Berkeley.

    “Most of the change in snow and ice cover — about 90 percent — is from aerosols. Black carbon alone contributes at least 30 percent of this sum.”

    Now I might have missed something, but NASA’s “Our Warming World” site doesn’t seem to discuss this at all. Nearly everything is about CO2.

  74. Tim

    #68 – This is ridiculous. A complaint that no interesting comments are getting posted yet my previous post with a substantial comment about the cost of mitigation is censored.

    This kind of arbitrary censorship only occurs on alarmist sites and it is one of the reasons why I simply do not trust alarmists.

  75. Jon

    …Although it can degenerate to “gutter talk” (witness Mann’s references to mud and pigs).

    The thing is, one side wants a continued appearance of a fight over everything. The other side wants scientific norms to prevail over politicized chaos.

  76. Busiturtle

    Today’s lesson on circular logic courtesy of skepticalscience.com

    “The divergence problem is a physical phenomenon – tree growth has slowed or declined in the last few decades, mostly in high northern latitudes. The divergence problem is unprecedented, unique to the last few decades, indicating its cause may be anthropogenic.”

    In summary: Tree ring models that are used to prove global warming are inaccurate because of unprecedented conditions that are due to global warming.

    Why not just cut to the chase and say the dog ate your homework.

  77. Tim,
    No censorship need be suspected here. Sometimes my comments get right through, sometimes they are held up in moderation, without any discernible pattern. This happens on other blogs, with different political views than this one. And I think bilbo has experienced the same thing.

  78. TB

    The challenge as I see it is to disrupt the idea of “fairness” that currently permeates the MSM.

    Easier said than done …

    – Most people don’t understand the science behind climate change
    – Most don’t have the time or knowledge to examine the science for themselves
    – With those failings, they seek out authorities to explain it to them
    – But those same failings don’t allow them to filter out who is a legitimate authority and who is not
    – Thus they end up presenting both sides to be “fair.”

    In a perfect system, the MSM would be a better filter. But they’re not, and since they’re not they have as much authority in terms of news as the unfiltered web. They’ve ceded a fundamental advantage and as people seek out information sources they fall prey to their natural tribal tendencies and may follow a source that is unreliable.

    I would hope that the MSM can someday adjust to the situation but it’s useless to simply wait and see if that will happen.

    Thus I do think scientists need some help with communicating.

    First, they have to go to those tribal places. Hosting a site is useful – being able to provide a link that answers a question is far easier than having to go through the details yourself. You end up getting bogged down and distracted.

    Bottom line is this isn’t about the science, it’s about the actions that the science may suggest we take. It’s not a scientific debate, it’s a political one.

    With that in mind, you then have to make sure you’re bringing a gun to a gunfight. You need to have a standard number of talking points – A, B and C – that are easily digested and efficiently communicated.

    Anytime anyone digresses from those talking points, they have to understand that they need to first explain the nature of scientific research. I mean, we all know there are people who use the word “theory” as if it’s mated to the phrase “only a.” They have to understand they’re not lecturing to a class in which there will be a test and you get to decide who passes and who flunks. You’re not in control of the message in the public sphere, but you can influence it.

    Defense of those talking points has to avoid details of doing science. You may be correct and it may be interesting to some, but you’ll also elicit a glazed look from most consumers. And it only leaves the casual consumer with the impression that they’re still arguing over the science, that things aren’t settled.

    There’s a time and place for those details, and recognizing when that’s appropriate is important. The trick to the defense is understanding that most of these attacks are not about the science, they’re about something else. So the defense doesn’t have to be about the science.

    This is the way I imagine a scientist should approach the challenge of, say, an appearance on a news program:

    “well, all the data this is derived from is free and online, as are the tools to examine them. In spite of that, so-and-so isn’t doing their own scientific research. And – just a minute, I’m talking …

    (yes, if they’re appearing on a show with a denier, they have to be prepared for someone to interrupt and monologue, they have to understand they’re competing for time)

    … – what has been put forth as contrary research has been found to be terribly flawed and not scientifically valid. It’s not just mistakes being found – that’s certainly going to be true for all scientific research since we’re only human, But mistakes can be found and corrected – this stuff is just plain wrong.”

    And go on to say …

    “Well, contrary to their protests, if there was a shred of evidence to support their position you’d see millions of dollars in funding coming from fossil fuel companies. That’s not what we’re seeing. You know, all you really have to do is follow the money. The vast majority of cash that goes into climate science from the contrary side isn’t going into scientific research, it’s going into lobbying against the actions that the scientific results suggest we take. The science itself is pretty solid – what we’re seeing now is the political fight.”

    And …

    “I want to go back to the idea of this being a political fight. Sometimes you’ll see interviews of scientists that make it seem all this is very unsettled and vague. That’s because the language of science doesn’t translate well into the sphere of political debate. The bottom line is, if a reputable scientist says there’s a good probability of a major flood coming, you’d better start heading to higher ground.”

    And if they’re challenged on the details of the science, that’s when you give out the url to a web site, saying “well, climate is different than weather – we’re still going to have winters and actually may even see an increase in snow in some regions. There’s a lot to this, and if you want more go to www. … We’ve gathered these and other questions that are asked all the time and put both simple answers and highly detailed and complex answers there. It’s a very useful resource…”

    I wonder how much discussion of this kind of communication strategy there was at the AAAS meeting recently?

  79. ChrisD

    @Busiturtle:

    Today’s lesson on circular logic courtesy of skepticalscience.com

    It’s a pretty reasonable conclusion, given the justification that you didn’t bother to include.

    But the really interesting thing here is your apparently deliberate mischaracterization of what SS said.

    SS’s statement: indicating its cause may be anthropogenic

    bt’s “summary”: Tree ring models … are inaccurate because …

    You restated a clearly cautious statement (‘indicating”, “may be”) as a definitive conclusion. That’s cheating. When you summarize something, try not to radically change its meaning, OK?

  80. Guy

    @Busiturtle,

    Tree-rings, seriously? That dead horse has already been beaten numerous times on other blogs.

    Why do AGW skeptics keep retreading the same old talking points?

  81. Tim

    #78 – TB

    Further discussion of the science is irrelevant. The onus on advocates to conclusively demonstrate that their desired policies are actually the most cost effective way to deal with the alleged problem.

    The trouble is the AGW advocates cannot demostrate that so they seek to the ‘science’ as a club to force people to accept irrational and ideologically motivated policies.

  82. Jon

    The trouble is the AGW advocates cannot demostrate that so they seek to the ’science’ as a club to force people to accept irrational and ideologically motivated policies.

    You should change that to “science advocates,” as all these scientific organizations accept the consensus:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_organizations

    Also, *policy* is very rarely even mentioned on this blog. The main topic is muckraking on efforts to distort and politicize science.

  83. AMac

    Re: Issues of science in Prof. Mann’s peer-reviewed work.

    I’d suggest anybody interested in this question look at the treatment of the “Tiljander proxies” in the Mann group’s paper that was published in 2008 in the high-impact journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” This has been the subject of considerable dispute, yet it’s surprisingly easy to understand the core issues.

    In 2009 in the pages of PNAS, Prof. Mann briefly addressed this controversy, yet in a manner that did not contribute to its resolution.

    There are two questions on this topic that I had hoped that Chris Mooney would have asked Prof. Mann, a link to them (& background) is within Comment #11 at the “Point of Inquiry” discussion forum.

    This is not to claim that any answer to these questions validates or invalidates the entire body of Prof. Mann’s work, far less the convincing evidence that CO2 concentration is rising, that the Earth is warming, and that the former is contributing to the latter.

    Those who align with the overall consensus on climate change rightly challenge the skeptics:

    “Show me an instance where your skepticism of AGW Consensus science should be taken seriously!”

    So there is my answer.

  84. Tim

    #82 – There you go proving my point.

    The science tells us nothing about what policies to adopt.
    It is economics that determines the policies.
    Yet you seem to think that the science matters.
    It does not.

    The only reason science ends up being criticized is because AGW advocates keep trying to use ‘science’ to push their political agenda. If you don’t like that the stop using science in the a political debate.

  85. Jon

    The science doesn’t matter only if you’re crazy.

    Once you accept the basics of the science, *then* you’ve got a good platform to discuss policy.

    I’ll draw a diagram:

    Reality ===> Policy.

  86. Tim

    #85 – Jon,

    Wrong.
    Policy is driven by economics and values.
    Science only tells us what might happen.
    It is possible to accept all of the IPCC conclusions on the science but still argue that doing nothing is the best choice.

    You are free to offer your own opinion but it is nothing but your opinion.
    It is dishonest to claim that your opinion is more valid because of the science.
    What you are really doing is making assumptions about the economics, applying your own value system and forumlating an opinion.
    The sceince has nothing to do with it.

  87. Jon

    Of course, you could craft your policy in direct opposition to “the reality based community.” Then you have what’s called the Bush administration.

  88. Tim

    #85 – Jon

    Good policy is a combination of economics and values.
    Science can identify risks.
    But it is values that decide what the best way to deal with risks.
    i.e. doing nothing and letting future generations address any problems is an option.
    There is nothing in the science that precludes that option.

    The trouble with AGW advocates is they confuse their ideology with the science.
    It is a perversion of science.

  89. bilbo

    Still waiting, Bradley. I’m genuinely curious to see if you can do this:

    provide me with the evidence (datasets, statistical analyses, results, and conclusions) that clearly and scientifically debunk 10 peer-reviewed papers out of the thousands that support global warming. I’m talking about going to the source: the papers that the IPCC uses to make its summaries.

    If you can’t disprove the science, you have no business saying it’s wrong.

  90. Tim

    #87 – Jon

    There is NOTHING – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the science that tells us which policies we should adopt.

    For example, science tells us that culling the human population is the best way to reduce the effects of climate change. However, that policy is unacceptable because of the values we shared.

    Once you ejects one rational policy based on personal values you cannot complain when people with different values reject your preferred policies for no reason other than they find the policy offensive.

  91. Jon

    Values that refuse to consider empirical reality are not healthy ones. (That’s the point of the Suskind quote I linked to above.)

  92. Guy

    #86

    That whole mindset is part of what drives the deniers to continue their quest to undo the science on global warming. They have, in their own minds, created this alternate reality where AGW isn’t real and they can do whatever they want to the environment without suffering the consequences.

  93. bilbo

    Also, *policy* is very rarely even mentioned on this blog. The main topic is muckraking on efforts to distort and politicize science

    Precisely. The only time I see policy mentioned here is when denialists try to use policy to argue against the science. It’s backwards (and halfwitted) “logic.”

    Debunk the science comprehensively, or you have no argument.

  94. Jon

    Values that refuse to consider empirical reality…

    That’s what Suskind meant by Enlightenment values.

    If Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison weren’t children of the Enlightenment, no one was.

  95. Tim

    #91 – Jon

    What empirical reality?
    That the temperature will rise and there will likely be some bad effects?
    That is all the science says.
    If you claim it says more you are just making stuff up.

    More importantly, you are ignoring the economics that shows that we cannot significantly reduce emissions with the technology we have today. This is a fact that is as irrefutable as the fact that CO2 causes warming.

    Why you are so selective when it comes to chosing the facts that you pay attention to?

  96. Cheyenne

    There’s a lot of shouting back and forth over whether AGW is real or not. I tend to think it is but I’m no expert (but my faith in the IPCC is pretty much over now though, wow, they suck. Can we get some actual experts in to clean up that mess?).

    I guess my question is, let’s just say AGW is definitely real. What do people want to do about it specifically? Carbon tax? Cap and trade? An international governing body leading it? What are the specific solutions to this problem?

  97. Jon

    I’m glad you’ve conceded what the science says, Tim.

    Next, let’s try economics. Are you aware of what Adam Smith calls an externality?

  98. Tim

    #97 – Jon

    Where I have I argued the science?
    I have simply said it is irrelevant.

    The arguments for the ‘costs of externalities’ are also irrelevant because they are hypothetical and there is no market that can determine the real cost.

    The only question that matters is how much would it cost to replace our current energy infrastructure with non-emitting equivalents.

    Unfortunately, the answer is the capital cost is astronomical and the technical risk is huge. That makes any strategy based on reducing emissions will fail. Arm waving arguments about ‘externalities’ will not reduce the amount of capital required.

  99. matt

    The AGW advocates here seem to think that everyone on the right side of the political fence is against science. Now, where did that notion come from….Liberal blogs and media. Is there not bipartisan support for “green” technologies? Has Obama not conceded to building nuclear plants when the left has been campaigning against them for 30 years? Are all Republicans against Cap and Trade? No (McCain, Graham, and a few others support it). Cap and Trade was proposed by Reagan in the 80’s, although the Cap and Trade of today is very different from that plan.

    Everyone is on board to improve the environment, there’s simply disagreement on how to curb carbon without further tanking our economy. Science aside, those on the far left don’t seem to understand economic restraints and fiscal responsibility. There’s also no evidence that supports the “alarmist” claims that the world is going to self destruct if we don’t act immediately. Even if carbon does have negative effect on the environment, it’s not nearly as serious to the degree “alarmists”, like Al Gore types, claim. Many of those claims have been debunked. I think it’s obvious that those on the left are trying to exploit the science for political gain. As for claims of big oil supporting the right, oil companies know there’s no way we’re going to be free from fossil fuels anytime soon and they’re already invested in researching alternative fuels. Democrats even lifted their 40 year ban on offshore drilling so we can become independent…that’s not very “green” now is it? There’s more politics than science at work here.

  100. Jon

    The arguments for the ‘costs of externalities’ are also irrelevant because they are hypothetical and there is no market that can determine the real cost.

    The whole point of my discussion is that if you know the science, “hypothetical” is the wrong word. There is a real cost higher than what we’re paying, potentially a lot higher.

    Once we know that there is a real cost to someone not reflected in the market cost, then we can start to look at how we solve the problem. Yes, it is a political problem and an economic problem. The trouble is that people have been cloaking their political arguments as if they were scientific ones. I’m perfectly fine with the political and economic discussion, as it is honest about what it is.

    For instance, I can make the argument to you that the legislation being considered now will be bad for some interests, good for others, but will be a net plus for society at large:

    [A] key point in all this is that the emissions tax or, equivalently, the rent on emissions permits, does not represent a net loss to society. It’s just a transfer from one set of people to another — from the emitters, and ultimately those who buy their products, to whoever collects the taxes or gets the permits, and ultimately whoever benefits from the revenue or rents thus generated. The only net loss is the Harberger triangle created by the reduction in emissions — which has to be set against the benefits of reduced pollution.

    You disagree with this? Fine. But if you admit there’s a serious problem, what’s your solution? This is where the discussion should be, not all this denying the science and miscellaneous jabbering from conservative funded Ministries of Truth, etc. etc.

  101. matt

    Routing CO2 deep underground, for example, is a much more effective long term solution to carbon than Cap and Trade. Nuclear power, although expensive to start up, is also a very efficient long term solution to energy independence. The only problem governing the whole process is money and the economy. If we can’t afford it now, we simply can’t do it now. That’s how the real world works. Those are the facts.

  102. Jon

    If we can’t afford it now, we simply can’t do it now. That’s how the real world works. Those are the facts.

    OK, here’s another point from economics. Building a new energy infrastructure injects capital into the economy and creates jobs. It’s an economic stimulus.

    If you disagree that government capital investment helps the economy during the downturn, you are making an argument, I believe, not only against Keynesian macroeconomics, but Friedman macroeconomics as well.

    (But this is getting far outside the realm of climate science now, and getting off topic the topic of the thread–which is conservative anti-science astroturfing.)

  103. bilbo

    The AGW advocates here seem to think that everyone on the right side of the political fence is against science. Now, where did that notion come from

    Well, having virtually everyone that is right of center that comments here (with a couple of exceptions) espousing science denial in some form or fashion (usually on several topics, like evolution and AGW or AGW and tobacco) certainly can’t help, can it, Matt?

    There’s more politics than science at work here.

    Exactly. If talking strictly from science is your goal, you’ve got a lot of work in front of you necessary to get your house straight first. There is politics on both sides, of course, but those on the right are almost purely motivated by it.

  104. Tim

    #100 – Jon

    Everything is hypothetical once you try to put a dollar value on the harms done.
    For example, drought occurs naturally and it impossible to determine how much of the damage, if any, was caused by GHG emissions.

    There are also political factors. Zimbabwe is a rich country with an incompetent government. This dysfunction will increase the costs of any change in climate and it is unreasonable to attribute those extra costs to GHG emissions.

    I have no philosophical objections to carbon taxes – as just another way to raise revenue for government. This means the tax rate is set based on political and revenue needs and not based on some imaginary cost of future damages.

    That said, we can tax emissions but it will ultimately have little effect on emissions because the capital cost of non emitting energy alternatives is astronomically high and that gap will not be closed by any politically plausible carbon tax.

    Cap and trade or any type of emissions trading are doomed policies because real emission reductions will always be more expensive than manipulating the system via purchase of favours from bureaucrats and politicians.

    The bottom line is we don’t have any option other than adaptation as required because mitigation will not work. The only thing that will change this math is a breakthrough technology that we do not know about today. For that reason, we should invest a lot in R&D but we cannot assume that it will find the breakthrough technology

  105. Tim

    #100 – Jon

    I have no philosophical objections to carbon taxes – as just another way to raise revenue for government. This means the tax rate is set based on political and revenue needs and not based on some imaginary cost of future damages.

    That said, we can tax emissions but it will ultimately have little effect on emissions because the capital cost of non emitting energy alternatives is astronomically high and that gap will not be closed by any politically plausible carbon tax.

    Cap and trade or any type of emissions trading are doomed policies because real emission reductions will always be more expensive than manipulating the system via purchase of favours from bureaucrats and politicians.

    The bottom line is we don’t have any option other than adaptation as required because mitigation will not work. The only thing that will change this math is a breakthrough technology that we do not know about today. For that reason, we should invest a lot in R&D but we cannot assume that it will find the breakthrough technology.

  106. Busiturtle

    Jon @ 102: “OK, here’s another point from economics. Building a new energy infrastructure injects capital into the economy and creates jobs. It’s an economic stimulus. ”

    This statement fails unless the new energy infrastructure is, without subsidy, superior in value to the existing one.

  107. Tim

    #102 – Jon

    The capital requirements for non-emitting sources are simply too high and the taxes required to support such a huge projects would harm the economy more than it helps. Even Keynes recognized that there is a limit to the amount a government can spend.

  108. Tim

    #100 – Jon

    I have no philosophical objections to carbon taxes – as just another way to raise revenue for government. This means the tax rate is set based on political and revenue needs and not based on some imaginary cost of future damages.

    Cap and trade or any type of emissions trading are doomed policies because real emission reductions will always be more expensive than manipulating the system via purchase of favours from bureaucrats and politicians.

  109. matt

    “those on the right are almost purely motivated by it.”

    I would argue that can go both ways. Those on the left support the whole world government notion and throwing money around in support of “social justice”. It’s just as easy to say the left is motivated more by politics than science. The science is still somewhat sketchy at best. There’s no reason for alarm. Was the science against nuclear power and drilling in our country? No, and the supporting science was hard and proven over the long term, yet the left rejected them for decades. Does this means the left rejected science for 40 years? Just because science says something doesn’t mean it’s good for the country. The right used science to defend offshore drilling and nuclear power and now the left is now trying to do the same with climate science.

  110. matt

    @Jon, 102, the government can’t inject money into the economy when there’s simply no more money to spend. When you max out a credit card do you continue to spend? The national debt ceiling is around 14 trillion, we just passed 12.5 trillion, we have no money. That’s not a left/right argument, that is a fact.

  111. matt @21: 21. I don’t see how people don’t question the notion of “climate change” when there’s obvious evidence that would lead any self proclaimed skeptic to question the claims.

    matt @99: The AGW advocates here seem to think that everyone on the right side of the political fence is against science. Now, where did that notion come from…

    See comment 21.

  112. matt

    You must have missed the facts that the right is not against science, see 99.

  113. matt

    Jon, 102, the government can’t inject money into the economy when there’s simply no more money to spend. When you max out a credit card do you continue to spend? The national debt ceiling is around 14 trillion, we just passed 12.5 trillion, we have no money. That’s not a left/right argument, that is a fact.

  114. Jon

    This statement fails unless the new energy infrastructure is, without subsidy, superior in value to the existing one.

    If it doesn’t damage the inhabitable atmosphere, that has some value right?

    For instance, it would be really cheap, even FREE, to heat my house by burning my furniture. Such a great value, right!? Well then I’d have no place to sit.

    The capital requirements for non-emitting sources are simply too high… there is a limit to the amount a government can spend.

    No one is proposing that government do the heavy lifting here. It’s industry that will. The government is probably doing some investing (as they do with defense), but mostly it’s providing the constraints (before nature itself does).

    This isn’t a case of throwing money at the problem. It’s more like a large scale retooling of factories over time for new market conditions. There are winners and losers, sure. But society as a whole gains, because the economy moves from market activities with dangerous externalities to market activities without them, with any losses being balanced out by the benefits of a hospitable climate. Government is supposed to oversee things, as things are being proposed, which I know conservatives hate, but Govt oversees traffic laws too. Again, what would you have it do? People expect government to deal with externalities.

    By the way, if we don’t deal with our externalities other countries will try to. How much do you want to bet that foreign countries will levy crippling tariffs on our exports?

  115. Moptop

    did moptop just call a reuqest for evidence “the gutter?” I sure hope not, or that one statement just supported about 5 of the denialist stereotypes at once. -MiltonC

    No Milton…. “The gutter” is where people make invidious interpretations of other’s comments, then cackle like a hen that just laid a double yolker.

  116. Moptop

    To follow Jon’s logic is easy, as long as you include, the way he has, the assumption that he is right at the beginning of the argument.

    I wouldn’t argue against carbon trading if the science was more convincing. It is a pretty heavy burden to bear, however, based on the evidence revealed to date. So why are we getting ahead of the argument?

  117. Jon

    matt: The science is still somewhat sketchy at best.

    This is the conclusion of the NAS that George W Bush’s convened a full 9 years ago:

    Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising.

    And since then, the science has gotten even more precise in what it knows.

  118. matt

    bilbo, science and politics are obviously separate entities. However, just about everything in the real world has ties to politics. I never thought I’d see the day science was influenced by politics, but I’d argue that day has come. Science hasn’t seen such political influence (at least in my lifetime) since the dropping of the atomic bomb.

  119. matt

    “Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising.”

    That information is certainly in accurate and outdated. We’ve experienced cooling since 2005. I know, short term vs. long term…Either way, temperatures are, in fact, no longer rising.

  120. Jon

    We’ve experienced cooling since 2005.

    Hey, it cooled here since last week! Even though it’s been a record setting month, no more global warming, right?

  121. Busiturtle

    jon@110

    What makes you so confident you have an accurate accounting of externalities as well as unintended consequences?

    You do not.

    You might be trying to fix something that is not broken.

    Or the fix might be inadequate or even damaging.

    Do you know or do you hope? How much of YOUR money are you willing to bet?

  122. We’ve experienced cooling since 2005

    And again, you’ve answered your own question @99. Why do people think that many people on the right side of the fence are against science. It’s absurd statements like that one that do the trick.

  123. Jon

    Busiturtle–the fire marshal tells me my building is a fire trap. But even if my building does burn, maybe it will just a little bit. So why should I bother buying fire insurance?

    If that was my thinking, I’d be in the running for the Darwin Awards.

  124. matt

    “Hey, it cooled here since last week! Even though it’s been a record setting month, no more global warming, right?”

    When the year ends, we’ll see if it’s still warming. As proponents would argue, it’s a short term trend. You are making the obvious contradiction between weather and climate, but I’m sure you know that. If 2005 was the warmest year in a century, simple logic would conclude it has only been cooling since then. Therefore, we haven’t experienced warming for 5 years now and the Earth must be cooler now than in 2005, not to mention the lack of “statistically significant” warming over the last 15 years.

    http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/2005_warmest.html

  125. Jon

    “When the year ends, we’ll see if it’s still warming”

    Wow, *completely* misses the point. And this passage from you’re link really inspires confidence that we’re cooling: “2005 was the warmest year since the late 1800s, according to NASA scientists. 1998, 2002 and 2003 and 2004 followed as the next four warmest years.”

    I’m going to sign off this thread now.

  126. Busiturtle

    jon @ 118

    Do you buy postal insurance on every item you mail?

    Why not?

    Is it because the risk of loss is below the cost of insurance?

    What is the economic risk of man-made climate change and what is the economic cost of preventing it?

  127. So why should I bother buying fire insurance?

    Exactly. We’ve seen the results of such thinking in just the last month. 2 major earthquakes in two different countries. One country lies in ruins, with hundreds of thousands dead. The other, injured but recovering with fewer than a thousand reported dead, so far, and most of it’s buildings intact.

    The difference is that one country established building standards to account for known risk and the other didn’t. I’m sure the Haitians would have agreed with Busiturtle, that there was no need to fix something that wasn’t broken and that the costs weren’t worth the effort. But Chile’s route has proved the cheaper one in retrospect.

  128. Jon

    When the year ends, we’ll see if it’s still warming

    Take a statistics cl@ss, matt. Then you’ll be able to tell me what’s wrong with this statement.

  129. matt

    Haiti is a poor country, they simply didn’t have the means to construct better structures at the time they were built. I’m sure Haiti was aware of this, but they lacked the funds to rebuild them. Chile has a much stronger economy and means to build better structures. It’s not about insurance, it’s about having the means to build the strongest structures possible within economic restrictions. If the Haitians had the money, they certainly would have upgraded their structures.

  130. Therefore, we haven’t experienced warming for 5 years now and the Earth must be cooler now than in 2005, not to mention the lack of “statistically significant” warming over the last 15 years.

    And even more nonsense. You claim that the Earth has been cooling since 2005, then gloat that there has been no “statistically significant” warming since 1995. Thus you’ve demonstrated both a total lack of understanding of basic statistics and shown that you don’t realize that the evidence that we’ve been warming since 1995 is an order of magnitude higher than any “evidence” for cooling since 2005.

  131. bilbo

    matt’s argument just went from innocent-bystander-worried-about-policy to the-climate-isn’t-even-changing denialism.

    When the mask comes off, it comes off rather quickly.

  132. matt

    You’re completely missing the point Jon. You’re immediately labeling me a “denier”, I never said that. I simply pointed out the fact that temperatures have been cooler over the last 5 years, with no statistically significant warming in 15 years. There’s no denying that, those are facts.

  133. Haiti is a poor country

    Haiti is a poor country in large part because they make bad decisions about real costs and benefits, which is why those of us on the pro-science side don’t take lightly the argument that the U.S. should follow the same path.

  134. Jon

    matt’s argument just went from innocent-bystander-worried-about-policy to the-climate-isn’t-even-changing denialism.

    Yes, I think this troll flunked the Turing test. Not the first time for trolls on this blog.

  135. matt

    Where did I say the climate isn’t changing bilbo? Climate has been changing since the beginning of time. Resorting to such behavior is typical of the “alarmist” crowd. They immediately jump to conclusions and play politics on anything they can try to exploit to label one a “denier”.

  136. matt

    Haiti wasn’t anti-science, they simply don’t have a strong economy to have the means we have in the states. It’s not about science with Haiti, it’s about economics.

  137. matt

    “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.” – Wikipedia

    By definition, biblo and Jon are trolls for making personal attacks on people.

  138. Busiturtle

    Jinchi @ 127

    If only climate science followed the same protocol that allowed geologists and civil engineers to accurately model earthquake events and design earthquake resistant structures.

    Earthquake resistant structures were designed and tested to perform the way they do.

    Where are the real world tests showing how AGW abatement will work and produce the desired effect?

  139. Tim

    #114 – You can go on as much as you like about externalities and markets but it is rather meaningless because any policy is some variation of “the government taxes one group of people and uses the the money to build things it decides are necessary”.

    That statement is true with cap and trade or a carbon tax or any other so called “market” mechanism.

    There is no magic wand that is going to solve the emission problem and any government policy that tries to force the impossible to happen will only waste resources that are better spent adapting as required.

    You have fallen into the trap of magical thinking because you really, really want to believe that there is a solution of the emissions problem and all it will take is political will to make it happen. Unfortunately, there are no facts which support your belief system.

  140. Moptop

    Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. -NAS

    True enough at the time. Now it all depends on what the meaning of “is” is. Still, I don’t have a huge argument with it, either way. “Statistically Significant” is a phrase that leaves an important modifier unstated, and so different sides are free to interpret it as they see fit. A better way to put it is that it is more likely than not that it has warmed since ’95, but still their remains a significant possibility that it has cooled since then. And this can only be supported if you accept the CRU temp series as gospel truth. The Met Office is redoing the whole thing, with professional controls in place, so in three years, we are likely to know. Right now we are arguing about angels on the head of a pin.

    The irony is that NAS only counts as a citation when it supports the warmie position. When the NAS found that the subject of this thread, *Mann’s hockey stick* was unsupported past 400 years, in other words, said nothing about the Medieval Warm Period, it doesn’t count. Even Phil Jones has admitted this in his interview to the BBC. Yet you guys keep believing Mann, who has been shown to have been a joke, even in the climate world, by the climategate emails. The NAS doesn’t support him, Dr Phil Jones, formerly of the CRU and Dr Ken Briffa of the CRU do not support him. I wonder when the astroturfers got to Jones, Briffa, and the NAS?

  141. Disgusted

    It’s appalling how the AGW proponents here are exemplifying an infamous kind of group-think propagated by a certain Austrian corporal who was blinded by tear gas in WW1. Nuff said.

  142. Jon

    Yes, Disgusted, look at all these scientific organizations who are HITLER!!1!!1!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Statements_by_organizations

  143. bilbo

    matt,

    I’ve certainly been a troll here in the past, but pointing out that you’ve suddenly and dramatically shifted motivations for your argument (from concerned, objective Joe Q. Public to all-out science denialist) isn’t trolling – it’s pointing out reality. I may have said it in a snarky way, but snark does not = troll.

  144. Moptop

    I am curious Jon. Did each and every one of those organizations do an in depth review of the science before putting their name to those statements? Because if they did, those reviews should be a treasure trove of ammunition, to mix metaphors, for your side. Where are they?

    I bet it could clear up a few of my misconceptions.

  145. Tim

    #143 – Jon
    The opinion of scientific organizations is does not tell us what policies are best.
    That is a question of economics.
    It is relatively straight forward to calculate the cost of replacing our existing infrastructure if we assume that the alternative technologies work as advertised.
    That cost is astronomical (>$800 billion per year).
    No government policy will be able to compel people invest the money required without causing serious harm to the economy.
    Therefore any CO2 regulation is a waste of money.

  146. Tim

    Jon, The opinion of scientific organizations is does not tell us what policies are best.
    That is a question of economics.
    It is relatively straight forward to calculate the cost of replacing our existing infrastructure.
    That cost is astronomical (>$800 billion per year).
    No government policy will be able to compel people invest the money required without causing serious harm to the economy.

  147. “Statistically Significant” is a phrase that leaves an important modifier unstated, and so different sides are free to interpret it as they see fit.

    No, they aren’t. Phil Jones specifically stated that he was talking about the 95% standard of significance (which the 15 year data series just barely missed). It’s a mathematical definition. You aren’t free to interpret that as you see fit.

    A better way to put it is that it is more likely than not that it has warmed since ‘95, but still their remains a significant possibility that it has cooled since then.

    You think that this is more precise?

    And this can only be supported if you accept the CRU temp series as gospel truth.

    No. Try it on any data series you like. All talk to the contrary CRU does not have exclusive access to nor ownership of global climate data.

    The Met Office is redoing the whole thing, with professional controls in place, so in three years, we are likely to know. Right now we are arguing about angels on the head of a pin.

    Sure. Or we could look at NASA’s data or NOAA’s or any of the dozens of other data sources around the world. You can start here if you like http://iridl.ldeo.columbia.edu/SOURCES/ ).

  148. ChrisD

    @matt:

    Those on the left support the whole world government notion

    You know, I’ve never met a single person who supports “the whole world government notion”. Not one. Ever. And yet somehow certain segments of the right take it on faith that all liberals favor a one-world government.

    It’s just plain weird.

  149. matt

    I never shifted motivations, nor did I say I was an all out “denialist”. I was explaining to Jon how that statement is fundamentally flawed in relation to the information we know today. He seems to hold that phrase as an absolute truth, when that’s factually no longer the case (the part on temperature continually rising). Moptop explained it quite well. Unfortunately, snark does equal troll when it’s purposely directed at getting an emotional rise out of someone or initiating conflict. One certainly wouldn’t resort to name calling and such if that wasn’t the ultimate goal.

  150. ChrisD

    @moptop:

    A better way to put it is that it is more likely than not that it has warmed since ‘95, but still their remains a significant possibility that it has cooled since then.

    No, that is absolutely not correct.

    It has warmed since 1995. There is no dispute about that. There is no possibility of saying that it has cooled since 1995, because it has not.

    The question is whether or not the (undisputed) warming can be attributed to the randomness of weather. There is something close to a 95% chance (he doesn’t say exactly how close) that it cannot. Or, stated in reverse, there is close to a 95% chance that the observed warming is not random.

  151. Moptop

    Jinchi,
    There are three main data sets and all are based on selected subsets of the global network of weather stations. Unless one can look at all temp stations, and all adjustments made, which the UK Met Office claims they will allow to any interested party, having a large number of different data sets is meaningless. It is like telling the border agent that he can search anywhere in your car he wants except for the glove box, and then ask him why he is unhappy because you let him see over 95% of your car.

    Remember that the CRU is trying to prove a negative. Prove that there was no bias in their selection, either from human cherry picking, or built into their algorithms. The only way to prove a negative on this scale is through exhaustion of the options. To disprove bias, they have to make available all data. This will be done by the UK Met Office. But don’t worry, the climategate emails were a tempest in a teapot.

    And BTW, what does “barely” mean in precise terms, when you are talking about confidence intervals? There is a 70% confidence that it has warmed in the past 15 years. That’s it. I don’t know what “barely missed” means, but I do know that 70% confidence is something like “more likely than not.” Is there some other document somewhere that defines “barely”?

  152. matt

    ChrisD, that’s the political implication imposed in the debate on climate science, often from those on the right.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703574604574500580285679074.html

  153. Moptop

    “It has warmed since 1995. There is no dispute about that. There is no possibility of saying that it has cooled since 1995, because it has not.”

    Maybe Katherine can explain this to you. She cleared it up for me and I am grateful. Search through the recent posts for her explanations, she is on your side, btw. Her background in statistics is far more broad and deep than mine. I will simply say that you are wrong.

  154. matt

    I don’t think she posted here moptop, but I’ve seen some of her posts in other threads, she’s a smart girl.

  155. Moptop

    I think her explanations were in the deleted thread…

    Maybe you would settle for hearing it from the guy who edited the IPCC report and headed the CRU?

    B – Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming -BBC

    Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods. -Dr Phil Jones

    C – Do you agree that from January 2002 to the present there has been statistically significant global cooling? -BBC

    No. This period is even shorter than 1995-2009. The trend this time is negative (-0.12C per decade), but this trend is not statistically significant. – Dr Phil Jones

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8511670.stm

    You can keep arguing about it, but the punchbowl is gone on this one too. Or is Jones an “astroturfer” too? A denialist?

  156. Philip Jr.

    matt, bilbo and Jon shouldn’t have to go back and, line by line, point out the moments where you stopped pretending to “have no problem with the science of climate change” and then started trying to go against it. That’s an outright self-contradiction, and they correctly called you out for it.

    At least don’t try to hide your motivations. you tried ot very hard for about 20-30 posts, but now, all of a sudden, we’re getting the complete opposite arguments out of you. Putting on facades isn’t good for one’s reputation. Stick to your guns if you’re going to argue at all.

  157. Jon

    Is Jones an “astroturfer” too? A denialist?

    No, just not terribly good at dealing with the media:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/16/bbc-interview-phil-jones-climate-science-when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife/

  158. Philip Jr.

    moptop, regarding your post in #155, answer this:

    Someone wants you to determine the weights of people in Mississippi. You have a dataset that includes the weight of every man, woman, and child in the state. So, do you look at the entire available data to analyze the weight of people in Mississippi, or do you just look at people from Tupelo?

  159. Disgusted

    Look, I don’t really care if this Jones is an astroturfer or astrosurfer or astroglider. The problem is that the climate is too complex a system to try to predict temperature variations within a degree (seriously, can anyone believe a prediction that a system this complex is going to warm by an average of 0.6 degrees in the next decade?? For Christ’s sake, even a college student would realize that the error bars on that number would be at least more than a degree at the very least), and anyone who believes they can do this is luxuriating in a sea of hubris. Plus, the totalitarian response to genuine climate skeptics is squelching honest debate. This is not how science works. I also see a lot of proof from authority here (“The IPCC said it. NOW SHUT UP!); nobody has said why lack of prediction of warming for 15 years is NOT statistically significant. In addition, there is now serious debate at the very least about the so-called Medieval Warming Period, with even AGW proponents saying that it’s possible it could have been global. At the very least the issue is unsettled, which means the claim that today’s climate was unprecedented in at least a thousand years is far from being “settled”. Hard to see how otherwise intelligent people could think that the science is all “settled”, and simply blame anyone who disagrees with that contention as right-wing oil lovers.

  160. matt

    I’m not sure if the skeptics in these blogs are against climate science or simply against the “alarmist” argument. Personally, I’m not against the science, but I’m against the “alarmist” argument, from guys like Al Gore types, that the world is going to self destruct without immediate action. I see that as politicians working to exploit the science for political gain and it only makes science looks bad. I feel like this is the nature of many of the skeptics here, but I could be wrong. Basic knowledge of science would lead one to believe that fossil fuel emissions must have some effect on the climate, I think everyone here has that knowledge, but they’re arguing against the extent of warming caused by CO2. I, too, am skeptical to the extent of the warming and believe more quality research is warranted in figuring that out.

  161. Jon

    The problem is that the climate is too complex a system to try to predict temperature variations within a degree

    Indeed. That’s why the prediction is between 1.4 – 5.8C by 2100.

  162. Maybe Katherine can explain this to you. She cleared it up for me and I am grateful. Search through the recent posts for her explanations, she is on your side, btw. Her background in statistics is far more broad and deep than mine. I will simply say that you are wrong.

    No. You and ChrisD are talking about different things. It has warmed since 1995. The question Phil Jones was answering was whether this warming was evidence of a long term climatic shift or simply anomalous weather. That’s what doesn’t quite meet the 95% threshold, because the series is too short given the noise in the data.

    Likewise 2009 was 0.15 C hotter than 2008. There is no doubt that it was hotter, but it’s not even close to meeting the statistical threshold that proves the Earth is still warming. We’d have to be warming at a rate of nearly 30 C/century before we could definitively see it on an annual basis.

  163. Moptop

    Someone wants you to determine the weights of people in Mississippi. You have a dataset that includes the weight of every man, woman, and child in the state. So, do you look at the entire available data to analyze the weight of people in Mississippi, or do you just look at people from Tupelo? – Philip Jr

    Well, I would take a randomized sample. But if somebody else did it, and I was trying to validate what they did, I would probably take a different randomized sample *from all of the weights*, otherwise, I would have *no way* of knowing if the subset of data I was given to take my ‘random sample’ from was actually random, or whether it was cherry picked in some way, intentionally or otherwise.

    It has warmed since 1995. The question Phil Jones was answering was whether this warming was evidence of a long term climatic shift or simply anomalous weather. That’s what doesn’t quite meet the 95% threshold, because the series is too short given the noise in the data.

    Point taken, but once again, what does “doesn’t quite” mean in actual numbers? It is at about 70% confidence that there is a warming signal in the data, which is what we are talking about, not whether it has warmed absolutely. There is also a 15% chance that there is a cooling trend since ’95 that is masked by…. wait for it…. weather.

  164. Moptop

    I’m not sure if the skeptics in these blogs are against climate science or simply against the “alarmist” argument. – Matt

    Well Matt, I am trying to make the point that the alarmist point of view is unsupported by the observations up to now, and that arguments based on models are fundamentally circular, and that as the data come in, the warming appears to be on the low side of estimates, if not below the low side of IPCC estimates. In other words, crack on scientists, you should be generously funded, but your data and methods should be open and vetted because of the political implications of your work. If you want to protect your little scientific fiefdom, get out of climate science. Stay out of medicine, too, BTW.

    Anybody who says that it is impossible for CO2 to affect the climate is a “denier” and anti scientific. Anybody who critiques another’s arguments based on perceived or actual associations, rather than the argument’s content is anti-intellectual.

  165. Point taken, but once again, what does “doesn’t quite” mean in actual numbers?

    Looking at the NASA GISS data, the trend since 1995 has been 1.5 C/century and the standard deviation (s.d.) for a 15 year trend is 1.05 C/century. Double the s.d. to get the 95% confidence interval (+- 2.11 C/century). That means the 95% confidence range is between -0.6 and +3.6 C / century. By my quick calculation 92% of the probability envelope is above zero (aka warming).

    In other words, evidence that we’ve been warming since 1995 is just barely below the 95% confidence interval.

    GISS data here: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts.txt

  166. Jon

    The higher the confidence interval you have, the more likely you are to be a Nazi.

    I hear Hitler loved statistics. Jonah Goldberg says Hitler owned LaPlace’s complete works.

  167. Jon

    (That was for you, Disgusted.)

  168. Moptop

    Jinchi,
    Well, looking at the CRU data, the trend, per Phil Jones is 0.12C per decade, lower than NASA’s GISS trend of 0.15C. So I guess we are stuck in the mud of uncertainty here, aren’t we? Or we each cherry pick the best case for our argument? How about we agree to that? Either way, it is not an overwhelming trend, and suggests that CO2 is not *the major driver* of climate. All I’m saying.

    That’s all I’m after, to further my understanding. Honestly.

  169. bilbo,
    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner, I was at work and just got back.

    If you were seriously interested in a rational discussion, you’d actually reply to the points I made, instead of playing games with a ridiculous challenge that falsely assumes I’m rejecting all global warming science.

    Perhaps you missed it, so here it is again.

    I’m skeptical of the extreme claims of AGW. The Himalayan glacier debacle is one example — NOT just because of the false date, but because studies show aerosols are the primary cause of melting, such as in this study by Lawrence Berkeley.

    “Most of the change in snow and ice cover — about 90 percent — is from aerosols. Black carbon alone contributes at least 30 percent of this sum.”

    Now I might have missed something, but NASA’s “Our Warming World” site doesn’t seem to discuss this at all. Nearly everything is about CO2.

    —————————————————————————————-

    You want to discuss scientific evidence? I just gave you some. Instead of trolling, give me a serious, thoughtful reply to this message.

  170. bilbo, I left you a reply, but it’s in moderation.

  171. Philip Jr.

    Excellent to see you speak out against cherry-pciking, moptop, but readily engage in it with regards to climate data.

    As I expected, you’re not an idiot. you’re just letting your standards lax to seek something for your confirmation bias.

    Thanks.

  172. matt

    @Moptop, 165, well said, I agree.

  173. bilbo

    Bradley,

    I asked you for specific examples, and you responded with a peripheral point that didn’t address my original question and, actually, ended by posing me a question instead…and even suggested implicitly that NASA is involved in a conspiracy to suppress science. Pardon me for sounding rude, but that’s hardly what I had asked for, and that’s precisely what we mean when we say that people on your side are either unwilling or impotent to provide evidence to support your claims about the core science of climate change being incorrect. And seeing as how this is science – where we argue with evidence – that’s why we say you’re wrong.

    That’s about as much of a thoughtful answer as your half-attempt (actually, a 0.1 attempt) of an answer to me deserves.

  174. bilbo,
    Your challenge was just a stunt, and I rightly treated it as such.

    As for the “core science of climate change,” which version do you mean? James Hansen’s? Roger Pielke, Sr?

    As for NASA, I simply pointed out that its new Web site seems to exclusively stress CO2 as the cause of virtually all warming. I pointed out a scientific study that showed aerosols, especially black carbon, cause most of the melting. It’s you who don’t want to discuss this.

  175. Disappointed

    So who is a Nazi here exactly?

  176. Disgusted

    I never said anything about confidence intervals. That was Jinchi.

  177. bilbo

    It was very much not a stunt, and rather a serious question that I would love to see an answer to. It should be fairly easy to do if the issue is as clear-cut as you guys claim, and it still stands.

  178. ChrisD

    @Moptop:

    “It has warmed since 1995. There is no dispute about that. There is no possibility of saying that it has cooled since 1995, because it has not.”

    Maybe Katherine can explain this to you. She cleared it up for me and I am grateful. Search through the recent posts for her explanations, she is on your side, btw. Her background in statistics is far more broad and deep than mine. I will simply say that you are wrong.

    No. I don’t know whether you don’t understand the statistics, or what the problem is. The temperature did increase between 1995 and 2009. Jones’s number was .12C/decade. Others are slightly different, but all are positive. None are negative.

    The increase is not in question. The question is not, “Did it warm?” The question is “Did it warm sufficiently that we can say with 95% confidence that it wasn’t just random climate variability?”

    It’s not possible to recast this as “Maybe it actually cooled”. It didn’t cool. That did not happen. It got warmer. We know this. What we can’t say with absolute certainty is that this was not a random occurrence. The negative isn’t “Maybe it got cooler”, it’s “Maybe it was just chance that it got warmer.”

    I don’t know any more ways to say it, but Jones is absolutely, positively, indisputably NOT saying that there’s a >5% chance that it actually got cooler.

    Are you maybe confusing the confidence level with measurement uncertainty? That’s the only thing I can think of that would explain your statement. If so, these are not the same thing.

  179. bilbo,
    Put down the ring! It makes you see skeptics as “you guys,” as if all skeptics thought alike. :-)

    I’ve tried to make it clear I’m not calling all of AGW a fraud, but am skeptical about the Hansen/Mooney variety, and that CO2 is the main driver. There are other causes, possibly including the cosmic ray effect that Svensmark’s hypothesis claims.

    The Himalayan example is significant for me, because the melting of glaciers is cited as a dangerous effect of AGW. Yet if the Lawrence Berkeley study is true, as well as several others, black carbon and other aerosols are much more to blame than CO2. The effect of aerosols is anthropogenic, and it is warming, but it is not global.

    Here is a NASA study from last year on the same topic:

    “Over areas of the Himalayas, the rate of warming is more than five times faster than warming globally,” said William Lau, head of atmospheric sciences at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Based on the differences it’s not difficult to conclude that greenhouse gases are not the sole agents of change in this region. There’s a localized phenomenon at play.”

    So if you want to reduce melting of Himalayan glaciers, it would seem that controlling black carbon and other aerosols is the most important step that can be taken.

  180. Jon

    So who is a Nazi here exactly? …I never said anything about confidence intervals. That was Jinchi.

    It sounds to me like you said that anyone who points out the precision of climate science, especially if they point out the urgency of the problem, is a totalitarian.

  181. ThomasL

    Jon,

    Again, while you are a believer in Keynesian and Fiedman’s economic theories you know very little about economics at all and are even more of a “beginner” in such then most who show up here talking about science. We’ve had that discussion here before and you’ve already proven you know very little other than them, and barely know them for that matter. The result is you think it is somehow insulting to accuse others of not being Keynesian – personally I would think it an insult to be called one. You again seem unable to acknowledge there are other understandings, and in practice Keynesianism has pretty much been a bust that only leads to massive untenable debt loads (Economics plays out over long time periods, we are in what many are terming “the end game” in our Keynesian experiments). The only reason we’ve gotten away with so much for so long is that we are the “reserve currency”, not because Keynesian economics has shown itself to work well in the real world. One would have thought that Japan over the past 20 years would have already shown the fallacy of such (and with an aging population they are truly interring into the real collapse stage), but here’s one for you to digest: Deathbed of Keynesian Economics Will Be in U.K (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&sid=a5t.xQdllnbo).

    Many of us have no use for Keynes, and as I’ve said before, place your bets with your own money and don’t blame others when you end up broke. I’m not going to waste any more of my time trying to explain to you why government spending is not “capital” (such only comes from the private sector, savings to be precise – and another thing we are encouraged not to do…). All such “created jobs” come at the expense of the private sector and have huge long term detrimental effects.

    It is relevant to this thread in that it is the differing economic understandings that lead to many of the conflicts in acceptable answers. As such opposition positions are almost always claimed to be “astroturfing” rather than what they are – a respectful disagreement over acceptable levels of government interference in the day to day workings of our economy, we have accusations of “evil” motives which this thread is an example of.

    This thread in general:

    I used to think it was just the crazy right wing fringe sites that spent all their time wringing their hands over conspiracy theories. Guess paranoia just runs rampant on all sides anymore.

    I guess it’s only a conspiracy theory however if the argument challenges the accepted wisdom of the blog, or the funding goes to an organization that has a different opinion (because we all know only one way of viewing something is O.K., anything else is a conspiracy using the ignorant masses to further the disinformation…) -> but as long the posters all agree with the point of view on the blog everything is dandy.

    Love the I.P. suggestions, except such look-ups don’t generally tell one much. Unless it comes from an office with a permanent I.P. and they have a reason to have the I.P. assigned by their provider registered – which there is no point to doing unless one is serving mail or web pages from the site. Few companies that have less than 100 users have any need for more than one, and they would at most only have an MX record set pointing to them directly for their mail. In other words a normal I.P. look up would point to the actual owner (assigner), not the leaser. Even if they have two I.P.’s (one for their mail server and one that gets routed to the users for general browsing needs) there really isn’t any reason to ever register the general web use I.P. unless their techs are stupid. Most also likely opt to use some internet hosting site to serve their web presence, and if one were serving pages internally then they likely would have a third I.P. used solely for such. So, unless you are dealing with a really large web presence (or have rather ignorant techs), all an I.P. tells anyone is which provider has assigned it, just to name a few issues with the idea.

    But hey, I’ll help you all out. Mine should be registered to Charter, in a range assigned to the Northwest area, specifically the mid Oregon Coast. Occasionally I might show up with a Southwest I.P., specifically one registered to Cox communications reserved for a large metropolitan area. While highly unlikely, if I logged in while at a clients and posted something, it could instead be from a DSL provider (most use Qwest in the Southwest metropolitan area and Verizon in the Oregon coast area). There, does that help anyone figure out anything?

    Heck of a way to discuss things that have a scope so large that honest disagreements are bound to exist. Start by accusing everyone of being “deniers”, follow with some pointed name calling and derogatory comments on their intelligence level and finish with conspiracy theories.

    This is why many sites fall in to the “Echo Chamber” category. If all one wants is a place to pat each other on the back for “thinking correctly” such is fine. However, when you get outside the enclosed circular self reinforcing arena and discover no one agrees with you don’t be surprised. And don’t be surprised that you have no idea how to talk to them either.

  182. Well, looking at the CRU data, the trend, per Phil Jones is 0.12C per decade, lower than NASA’s GISS trend of 0.15C. So I guess we are stuck in the mud of uncertainty here, aren’t we? Or we each cherry pick the best case for our argument?

    So now you’re accusing me of cherry picking because I didn’t use the CRU data? Back @140 you were arguing that we can only say that it has warmed since ‘95, if we accept the CRU temp series as gospel truth.

    I get fundamentally the same results no matter which data set I use, but feel free to prove me wrong. Cherry pick your own data (CRU data are here : http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/ ). Calculating linear trends and standard deviations is basic enough that you can do it with a simple Excel program.

  183. Moptop

    ChrisD,
    I conceded the point to Jinchi upthread. I try to read all of the posts by the person I am engaging before responding to them. However, you made a point that I think is wrong.

    It’s not possible to recast this as “Maybe it actually cooled”. It didn’t cool. That did not happen.

    What I said was that there is still the significant possibility that there is a cooling trend hidden in the noise. If, Jinchi, you use the Microwave Sounding satellite results, which is what I was originally referring to. There is certainly mud in the surface temp data when one gets 0.15C per decade and the other gets 0.12C. This shows that there is a measurement uncertainty which undermines the confidence in the “confidence intervals,” and so phrases like “it didn’t happen” are not warranted.

    http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/

    Here is the calculation written up better than I can do it.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/insignificant-warming-trends-why-1995.html#more

    With a little news in it as well. bilbo doesn’t think that Dr Motl is a real scientist, but you can judge for yourself, if you are curious.

    I am happy to leave the topic here, but if you can find mistakes in Lubus’s work, please do so. I recognize there was a little unfairness in my bringing the CRU into it, and making you do the calculations twice already, but CRU had already been brought into the thread and I was being lazy and overconfident. Sorry.

    I have decided that bilbo and PJ’s role, as they see themselves, is not as rodeo clown, per se, but mind guards, who see their job as provoking dissenting posters into an angry reaction, and then dismissing their point of view based on the emotional reaction. I am not buying it any more, and I suggest that any other skeptical posters here follow the same policy. I mean, yeesh!, look at comment 172. Where does one go with that?

  184. Moptop

    Jinchi,
    I will write a later post on the MSU data, for your critique, as penance. I can’t do it now, but I hate it when other posters send me to links, so I won’t do it to you. Although Lubos’s post is worth the read for its own sake.

  185. ChrisD

    @moptop:

    With a little news in it as well. bilbo doesn’t think that Dr Motl is a real scientist, but you can judge for yourself, if you are curious.

    Well, I don’t see where lumo says, “There’s a possibility that it cooled from 1995-2009″. He’s saying exactly what I said, that we can’t be absolutely certain that the observed warming wasn’t the result of random variation (“white noise”). Nowhere does he imply that the observed warming didn’t even happen.

    Now, I disagree violently with the conclusion he reaches (which is, basically, “There’s nothing to worry about, a real 15-year warming trend is only 92% certain and not 95% certain, tra-la-la-la-la-la”), but he & I are in complete agreement about what the statistic means.

  186. Disgusted

    I was not referring to you. I was referring to the herd mentality of some other commentators on the site. I see that mentality among the denialists too, less so among the skeptics.

  187. Busiturtle

    Any AGW advocates want to provide a scientific based challenge to Mcintyre’s claims? Or will you continue to deny there are serious flaws in IPCC temperature reconstruction methods?

    http://www.climateaudit.info/pdf/mcintyre-scitech.pdf

    Although there was no scientific basis for such an arbitrary adjustment, peer reviewers of Briffa et al (1992) did not object. “Bodging” then seems to entered into the CRU toolkit to get reconstructions to “look” right, as evidenced by the Climategate documents containing annotations that the method contains “fudge factors” or “very artificial corrections for decline” (e.g. http://di2.nu/foia/harris-tree/briffa_sep98_e.pro)

    ****** APPLIES A VERY ARTIFICIAL CORRECTION FOR DECLINE*********

  188. matt

    I’ve also read about that notion, Turtle. I just question what scientists have to gain by fudging data. What is their motivation? A Nobel Prize? I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a miscalculation, but that data seems too suspicious to simply shrug it off as that.

  189. One of the reasons AGW theory is having such a bad time of late is on display at the blog of Roger Pielke, Jr., where he has challenged Climate Progress’ Joe Romm to a debate. Romm isn’t doing himself or the theory any favors.

  190. Katharine

    ““It has warmed since 1995. There is no dispute about that. There is no possibility of saying that it has cooled since 1995, because it has not.”

    Maybe Katherine can explain this to you. She cleared it up for me and I am grateful. Search through the recent posts for her explanations, she is on your side, btw. Her background in statistics is far more broad and deep than mine. I will simply say that you are wrong.”

    Oh, bullshit, moptop. You drew the wrong conclusions from what I said.

    Yes, it has warmed since 1995. The dispute was about confidence intervals.

    Phil Jones said that the trend of warming since 1995 did not reach the 95% confidence interval. This is purely because 15 years is not long enough of a period to reach the 95% confidence interval. However, in the same interview I cited from the BBC he says it is still warming.

    This leads me to believe it has probably reached a confidence interval somewhere between 50% and 95%.

  191. matt

    Science aside, it’s those types of behaviors that only reinforce public skepticism. There seems to be shady dealings going on behind the scenes that are too significant to be brushed off as nonsense. Also, Climate Progress is funded by the political action committee of the progressive/liberal Center for American Progress. Climate Progress is the political think tank equivalent of the Heritage Foundation on the right. It’s a clear conflict of interest, which is why I believe Romm may be the wrong guy to target in this case. I think a debate with Michael Mann, for example, would hold more credibility.

  192. Katharine

    By the way, just to clear up any confusion, I don’t have a ‘background’ in statistics. I’m a neurobiology student. Haven’t actually taken a statistics class yet, but I plan to, and I know some basic biostatistics.

    Although the fact that my parents, who I’m living with right now to save money before I go to grad school, are both essentially statisticians (one is a grants analyst who does work with statistics and the other is a statistician in another government agency) probably says something about the extent of the information I can draw on.

  193. Jon

    Hey, ThomasL– Looks like Glenn Beck was delivering that Ronald Pestritto thesis you like at CPAC, about Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt being secret Hegel-reading socialists:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/02/american-progress.html

  194. ChrisD

    @Katharine:

    Phil Jones said that the trend of warming since 1995 did not reach the 95% confidence interval. This is purely because 15 years is not long enough of a period to reach the 95% confidence interval. However, in the same interview I cited from the BBC he says it is still warming.

    This leads me to believe it has probably reached a confidence interval somewhere between 50% and 95%.

    Katharine, apparently it is 92%. Furthermore, using 1994 instead of 1995 as the start date would have caused the trend to reach the 95% threshold.

  195. Jon

    using 1994 instead of 1995 as the start date would have caused the trend to reach the 95% threshold.

    Of course.

  196. Jon

    That’s what you do when you cherry pick.

  197. moptop

    “Oh, bullshit, moptop. You drew the wrong conclusions from what I said.”

    I have clarified again and again on this thread and conceded my earlier mistake. I was confusing measurement error, of which there is plenty, and confidence interval, which sort of assumes no measurement error, btw.

    What I said was, and I stand by this, there there remains the significant possibility, in the satellite data, that a cooling trend (climate) exists although it is covered by noise (weather), and we can’t rule it out.

    Remember something else when you calculate these trends to the nearest 100th of a degree C. The adjustments to the data are as large or larger than the climate signal uncovered.

  198. moptop

    “That’s what you do when you cherry pick” – Jon

    Read his post and he thoroughly explains why he “cherry picked” that date. It was to show that fifteen years of increasing CO2 have gone by without a statistically significant trend in climate. You can argue around the edges all you want about how close it got, but the fact is that it is borderline noise, and this implies that the magnitude of the warming is likely far less than the alarmist Greenland’s Ice Sheets will be gone in 100 years while the Indian Subcontinent perishes of thirst.

    There is another issue. Warming increases logarithmically. Since we have already seen the better part of the doubling of CO2 since “pre-industrial times”, we have also seen more than half the warming we would likely experience from that doubling, and here we are. Remember too, the next doubling follows the same rule, so it would take more than twice as much fossil fuel to get to that point than it has to get where we are. If you assume a climate sensitivity of 1.2C per doubling, which is the raw figure without feedbacks, then we have seen more than half of that already, and it is unlikely to get as warm as the Medieval Warm Period, or the Roman Warm Period, or certainly the Holocene Optimum of 6K years ago.

  199. Katharine

    “Katharine, apparently it is 92%. Furthermore, using 1994 instead of 1995 as the start date would have caused the trend to reach the 95% threshold.”

    Not because I am a denialist (because I’m not!), but because I want to be scientifically rigorous: Cite, please ?

  200. matt

    It’s not a scientifically published figure Katharine. Jinchi ran some numbers and came up with that figure, see post 166.

  201. ChrisD

    Katharine Says:

    Not because I am a denialist (because I’m not!), but because I want to be scientifically rigorous: Cite, please ?

    matt Says:

    It’s not a scientifically published figure Katharine. Jinchi ran some numbers and came up with that figure, see post 166

    That’s correct for the 92% figure (although this is not the first time I have seen that number), but not for the 1994 start.

    That comes from a post by the individual who apparently proposed the question in the first place (at least, he seems to think so). He admits that 1994 would cause the trend to become significant (and further admits that this is why he chose 1995). moptop himself provided the link:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/03/insignificant-warming-trends-why-1995.html

  202. Katharine

    lol, Lubos Motl. I see not only is he pathetically disingenuous (I’d say choosing 1994 and not 1995 to compute confidence intervals while not being cognizant of the other confidence interval is somewhat tantamount to fudging data), but he’s also fugly.

  203. Katharine

    Er, 1995 and not 1994.

  204. ThomasL

    Jon,

    Don’t follow Beck, but Hegel is pretty pervasive in modern thought. It was and still is about as far as one can push speculative system building. His is the pinnacle of idealism. Generally everything in the field sense has sought to either “finish” it or show he had stepped outside the knowable (you can’t attackdisprove directly – the beauty of his dialectic system is that to try such only proves it more…). The counter arguments are generally seen in the various forms of existentialism, and an understanding of Hegel’s dialectic is required to understand why existentialist writing is “indirect” and tends to throw logical analysis into fits (for example using logic on Kierkegaard’s EitherOr indicates there is no argument… but if you have read it you know there most certainly is).

    Interesting article, but the Hegelian logicsystem has been used for quite a number of things over the years, most notably in redefining religious “understanding” (including such things as “histories march towards democracy and freedom” used by the far right…).

  205. Cite, please ?

    Tamino has done a more pretty thorough takedown on this at his site, complete with graphs including the 95% confidence intervals. Note that he used a slightly different time interval (ending in November 2008) and the trend from 1995-2008 just barely exceeds the 95% confidence interval. His takeaway:

    Therefore we need at least 14 years of GISS data (from 1996 to the present) to draw a confident conclusion about the most recent trend. In fact, since we have additional unaccounted-for uncertainty (such as the parameter estimates for our ARMA(1,1) model), we actually need a bit more. Let’s say that less than 15 years of data allows no confident conclusion about whether the trend in GISS data is warming or cooling.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/how-long/

    Unsurprisingly, this is exactly the same conclusion that Lubos comes to at moptop’s link.

    So why 1995 was chosen as the beginning? Yes, it’s not only because “15 years” sounds nicer than “16 years”. It was chosen because it’s the maximum recent period in which no statistically significant global warming may be seen

    He seems to believe that this makes the warming trend “insignificant”.

    Phil Jones was asked the question about 1995-2009 explicitly because the skeptics knew this would (just) fail the 95% standard. He couldn’t quite claim that it demonstrated warming. If he had been asked the same question in 2008, they would have insisted on a 10 year standard, instead.

  206. matt

    That’s the thing with those stats. Why not start the data set in 1990 or 1985? It’s an arbitrary point of reference, not really fudging data. Over a period, say ’95 to today, is just a snap shot of the larger picture, it doesn’t necessarily quantify the entire warming case. I believe they chose ’95 simply because the most recent data sets are the most accurate, given the advances in satellites and technology.

    Motl’s interpretation isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just a matter of interpretation given those circumstances. Given that criteria, it’s not incorrect to project warming trends in the matter he did, it’s relative to that 15 year trend. Having not reached statistical significance over 15 years is a sign that warming has slowed in relation to previous data, but the extent of the slowed warming argument can’t be confirmed without years of additional data. Therefore, nobody can yet confirm or deny that claim based on the last 15 years of data. However, that 15 year trend is enough to show that the Earth may not be warming at previously conceived rates.

  207. ChrisD

    @Jinchi:

    Phil Jones was asked the question about 1995-2009 explicitly because the skeptics knew this would (just) fail the 95% standard. He couldn’t quite claim that it demonstrated warming.

    Yes, and I think it’s worth noting that Jones was scrupulously honest in his answer. I know this will shock certain people.

  208. ChrisD

    @matt:

    I believe they chose ‘95 simply because the most recent data sets are the most accurate, given the advances in satellites and technology.

    Motl explicitly says that this is not the case.

    It was chosen because it’s the maximum recent period in which no statistically significant global warming may be seen.

    I don’t know how that could be any clearer.

    In any event, saying that they chose 1995-2009 rather than 1994-2009 because “the most recent data sets are the most accurate” is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? Was the data really that much more accurate in 1995 than it was in 1994?

  209. matt

    No, not at all significantly different from 94 to 95. I believe they chose 95 for the reasons he stated as well, but the latest data is generally the most accurate given technological advances. I believe the data is more accurate from the 90s than the 80s for example.

  210. I believe they chose ‘95 simply because the most recent data sets are the most accurate, given the advances in satellites and technology.

    No. Lubos explicitly admits that he chose 1995-2009, because that fit the argument that he was trying to make.

    Given that criteria, it’s not incorrect to project warming trends in the matter he did, it’s relative to that 15 year trend.

    Did he project warming trends? He looked at the data shrank the data set until the error bounds just barely touched zero and then proclaimed “no significant warming”. Notice, he didn’t even bother to wait until the actual trend was zero or negative. All trends longer than 8 years long are positive. None are significantly negative.

    And all trends from 1 to 30 years long are consistent with the 30 year trend of temperature increasing at the rate of 1.6 C/century.

    Therefore, nobody can yet confirm or deny that claim based on the last 15 years of data.

    Which is why climatologists never do it. Only skeptics use trends that short.

    However, that 15 year trend is enough to show that the Earth may not be warming at previously conceived rates.

    And again, no it isn’t. The 15 year trend is 1.5 C/century. The 30 year trend is 1.6 C/century. All the evidence is that the Earth continues to warm as fast as it has for the last several decades.

  211. matt

    My point was he could have picked a 30 year sample, starting in 1980, but he probably didn’t because the newest data is more accurate.

  212. matt

    If the current rate is not statistically significant over the last 15 years, from the previous 30 year rate, then how does it make sense to say the rate is increasing at the same rate? It must not be increasing at the same rate, otherwise it would have shown a higher significance. Therefore, it cannot be confirmed, nor denied at this point, until 15 more years of data is collected. If, in the next 15 years, the data doesn’t reach significance, then it must indicate a slowing of the rate of warming.

  213. matt

    Also, slowing of the rate of warming doesn’t necessarily indicate global cooling.

  214. ChrisD

    @matt:

    My point was he could have picked a 30 year sample, starting in 1980, but he probably didn’t because the newest data is more accurate.

    No, Matt. He picked it because it’s the longest period he could find where the warming trend does not reach statistical significance. He says so, point blank.

  215. It must not be increasing at the same rate, otherwise it would have shown a higher significance.

    No this seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what the term “statistical significance” means.

    The 15 year trend 1.5 C/century. But the 95% confidence interval is between -0.6C and 3.6C. That means that there is a small, but non-trivial possibility that the long term trend is now -0.6C/century. There is an equally small but non-trivial possibility that the long term trend is now 3.6 C/century. It’s much more likely that the long term trend is about 1.5 C/century.

    You argued that “that 15 year trend is enough to show that the Earth may not be warming at previously conceived rates.”

    But you could just as easily misinterpret the uncertainty to claim that the 15 year trend is enough to show that the Earth is warming dramatically faster than previously conceived rates.

    You’d be just as wrong, of course. The 15 year trend shows neither. You need a longer data series.

  216. ChrisD

    @matt:

    If the current rate is not statistically significant over the last 15 years, from the previous 30 year rate, then how does it make sense to say the rate is increasing at the same rate? It must not be increasing at the same rate, otherwise it would have shown a higher significance.

    No! It doesn’t mean that at all. The rate could be the same and not reach significance due to the shorter timespan. The rate could be higher and not reach significance due to the shorter timespan. The change from significant to not significant says nothing about the actual rate or how it might have changed.

    Try this: Suppose you’ve measured the trend for 20 years and come up with +0.15C/decade. You do the analysis, and you find that this is statistically significant at the 95% confidence level. OK?

    OK. Now, I go and measure the temperatures for the last 7 days. As it happens, it has gotten quite a bit warmer where I live in the last 7 days. I might find a trend of something like +300C/decade (no decimal point, I mean three hundred). That’s a huge number, yet there’s no way it’s statistically significant. The timespan is much, much too short.

    So you have a very small upward trend that’s significant, and I have a huge upward trend that’s not significant. See? The rate is only one component of the analysis, and you cannot say “the trend must be down because it’s no longer significant.” It just doesn’t work like that.

    I’m sorry, but you really need to pick up a statistics primer or something.

  217. Katharine

    What makes me really sad about all this is that we’re going to have to repeat all this stuff about significance again and again and again until the hordes of angry denialists decide to sit down and learn some statistics and some science and get this through their heads.

  218. matt

    I took a stats 200 class in college, but that was many years ago. I’m not arguing against the time frame Chris, I pointed that out in my previous posts as well. I wasn’t sure of the significance interval used in the data. From my understanding, if you can’t meet that 95% confidence from the previous 30 year rate, then the rate may not be the same over that 15 year period. I’m not saying it’s not going to be different over 30 years, we simply can’t make that deduction just yet.

  219. matt

    I’m not a denialist, I’m simply skeptic and there’s nothing wrong with asking questions. That’s how science works, scientists do it everyday.

  220. moptop

    “I’d say choosing 1994 and not 1995 to compute confidence intervals while not being cognizant of the other confidence interval is somewhat tantamount to fudging data” – Katherine

    Why not go back to 1947 then?

    Or 1936?

    or 999?

    or 4K BCE?

    Every trend is cherry picked. Nobody knows what a perfect period to judge climate is. There are agreed upon standards, but that is all they are, agreed upon. They are not constants of nature, the the acceleration due to gravity.

  221. matt

    That’s what I’ve been alluding to as well, Moptop.

  222. Second opinion

    Somehow related:

    The American Denial of Global Warming

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio

  223. ChrisD

    @matt:

    I took a stats 200 class in college, but that was many years ago. I’m not arguing against the time frame Chris, I pointed that out in my previous posts as well. I wasn’t sure of the significance interval used in the data. From my understanding, if you can’t meet that 95% confidence from the previous 30 year rate, then the rate may not be the same over that 15 year period. I’m not saying it’s not going to be different over 30 years, we simply can’t make that deduction just yet.

    But you are saying things that are just plain wrong, Matt. You said, for example, that if the trend for 30 years is signficant but the trend for 15 years is not, then the 15-year rate must be lower than the 30-year rate. That is simply not correct; it ain’t necessarily so. It could be higher, even considerably higher, and still not be significant. It seems to betoken a fundamental misunderstanding of at least this area of statistical analysis.

  224. ChrisD

    @moptop:

    Why not go back to 1947 then?

    Or 1936?

    or 999?

    or 4K BCE?

    Because we’re trying to see what the effects of the massive increases in GHGs are. Because we’re trying to see what’s happening now, not in 4K BCE. Because 30 years is long enough to find the signal in the noise. Because 15 years is not.

    This is really not that difficult, moptop.

  225. Why not go back to 1947 then? Or 1936? or 999? or 4K BCE?

    Why not? You’ll see that there are statistically significant changes in the long term trend. Particularly around 1800.

  226. matt

    Chris, it’s obvious that the trends are not higher, we know that for a fact based on yearly temperature data. Therefore, it must be on the lower side. As of now, one can say what I said earlier, but it’s not necessarily true until 30 years of data have been collected, to be consistent.

  227. Disgusted

    The Industrial Revolution began in the late 1700s, and that was only in Europe. It didn’t spread to the rest of the world until around the 1830s. I don’t see how it’s possible for anyone to detect warming trends in 1800 when so very little industrialization was present at that time. If warming occurred that early, it would either be minuscule (and not discernible on a thermometer, the technology of that time) or simply not caused by fossil fuels. There wasn’t enough industrialization in those early years to pump enough CO2 in the air to yield a discernible result.

  228. matt

    Of course, the trends could turn out to show an increased rate of warming in 30 years as well.

  229. Jon

    Ask Moptop about Scott Brown. That’s a subject he knows about.

    I think this statistics stuff is boring him.

  230. Chris, it’s obvious that the trends are not higher, we know that for a fact based on yearly temperature data.

    I don’t know how many different ways to tell this to you. The 15 and 30 year trends are currently identical. For there to just barely be a 30 year cooling trend, every single year of the next 15 years will have to be as cold as it was in 1995.

    9 of the last 10 years have been hotter than that (and that “cold” year was the year 2000).

  231. matt

    If stats continue to show insignificant trends for say 30 more years, that would likely yield a decrease in the rate of warming, based on sample size. For example, next year, even the next 5 years, could show yearly cooling trends of say 1c, and still not be considered significant due to the sample size, even though it is a cooling trend. Likewise, it could show a warming trend of 3c over 5 years and not be considered significant, even though it’s still a warming trend. The description of data is relative to the sample size. The larger the sample obviously yields a different conclusion.

  232. matt

    “n common usage, a claim to 95% confidence in something is normally taken as indicating virtual certainty. In statistics, a claim to 95% confidence simply means that the researcher has seen something occur that only happens one time in twenty or less. If one were to roll two dice and get double six (which happens 1/36th of the time, or about 3%), few would claim this as proof that the dice were fixed, although statistically speaking one could have 97% confidence that they were. Similarly, the finding of a statistical link at 95% confidence is not proof, nor even very good evidence, that there is any real connection between the things linked.”

    Maybe I’m confusing the term “confidence”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_interval#Meaning_and_interpretation

  233. ThomasL

    Jinchi,

    As the LIA ended ~1850, warming sense 1800 doesn’t exactly tell us much about anything. The question is where should the raise stop, and how do we know that’s it?

    You just gave an example of why the highly skeptical are such, and why what length one wants to use matters. Our climate has never been stable (MWP, LIA – what range in all that does one want to call the “normal” temp?). We should also note we only have a basic understanding of past trends, mostly in regards to various long term solar and earth tilt effects. Blaming Co2 because we can’t think of anything else doesn’t say a whole lot (and for the record I’m all for lowering pollution, just not for government mandates and “solutions” that end up just causing more immediate issues as in ethanol causing food shortages and studies showing both ethanol and wind have done nothing to lower Co2).

  234. matt

    I question the politics too Thomas. Taxing carbon doesn’t eliminate carbon. If they truly want to curb carbon, they should install filters or route emissions into the ground. Government mandates don’t solve the problem.

  235. Jon

    Blaming Co2 because we can’t think of anything else doesn’t say a whole lot…

    You think scientists are “blaming Co2 because they can’t think of anything else,” and no other hypotheses have been tested over the past three decades?

    Really?

    I know you can do better than that, Thomas. Think for two seconds. What do you think all these papers study?

  236. ChrisD

    @matt:

    If they truly want to curb carbon, they should install filters or route emissions into the ground. Government mandates don’t solve the problem.

    Matt, you can’t “filter” CO2, and routing emissions into the ground does nothing more than shift the burden to our descendants–it will not stay down there forever. The only way to truly curb carbon is to stop burning stuff.

    And, by the way, government mandates have been quite effective with both particulate pollution and CFCs.

  237. ThomasL

    Hey Jon,

    I’m just using the phrasing I’ve seen from the high priests. I am sure they have studied other things (and thanks for the link – I have actually been reading the research papers), but that’s their phrasing, sometimes worded as “we are not able to find another cause…”. Of course this in relation to an incredibly dynamic, almost chaotic, worldwide system where there are indications that small changes in certain areas may have unexpected impacts to the whole system (both positive and negative) that has but 30 whole years of actual focused research behind it. My issue with that statement is it presupposes we know enough about the whole to pinpoint anything as a primal cause rather than as a likely contributor. There is a difference.

    There has been a lot of progress in our understandings, but mostly what I see are large unknowns and huge probabilities and “ifs” when I read the actual papers (on top of an immense amount of work dependent on accurate results and data from previous work – except unlike in other sciences releasing methodology and data isn’t always done in this version of science… I guess because some bad person might try to show there is a problem with something).

    It’s like everything else in these threads. Lots of claims. Yet when one goes looking at actual research it doesn’t quite seem to be in line with those claims. There have been numerous threads in here espousing the wonders of clean energy and all the green jobs… Yet when one goes hunting for real data to become better informed they find things like these: http://www.cepos.dk/fileadmin/user_upload/Arkiv/PDF/Wind_energy_-_the_case_of_Denmark.pdf, http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf and http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/04/08/wind-power-is-a-complete-disaster.aspx#ixzz0gZq6MFtR (I guess I ought to be happy we already have a contract, eh?).

    Facts VS. Spin, isn’t that what science and reason are supposed to be about?

  238. Ichthyic

    presupposes we know enough about the whole to pinpoint anything as a primal cause rather than as a likely contributor. There is a difference.

    we know it to very near a 95% confidence interval NOW, just looking at satellite data in and of itself. with a couple more years of data tossed in, there will be no “doubt” as so many of you like to put it.

  239. Arthur Reader

    @ChrisD:

    You do recognize the irony of your comment, don’t you? You understand that the foundation of many of the attacks on climate science is the worldwide conspiracy/scam/hoax, right?

    I have made no such claim that there is such a worldwide conspiracy. On the other hand, quite a few astroturfers on here like to claim that there is a broad-based fossil fuel funded conspiracy to deny global warming or man-made global warming or climate change or whatever is the hot-button phrase of the hour.

    We skeptics on the other hand don’t have to make a claim of collusion between a small number of academics controlling the key IPCC claims of AGW when the Climategate emails are prima facae evidence of such a collusion. We don’t have to claim that those scientists hid their data, tried to claim key computer programs as private property, broke the laws on Freedom of Information, intimidated journals into blocking critical reports, blocked and attempted to block criticism in peer-review literature, and hid incriminating evidence that their statistical treatment and models were invalid and their claims worthless. Because all of that is out there as well. And being investigated not by the academic institutions that have clear conflict of interest, but by parliamentary and congressional investigations around the world.

    If there’s a well-funded denial movement hell-bent on perverting science and the scientific method, its been making a lot of Green corporations very very wealthy indeed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in the last few years and collusion with fossil fuel companies has been part of the mix.

    And that would be what you’re really a shill for.

  240. ThomasL

    Katherine,

    Part of the confusion and “debate” is that the satellite data seems to be drawing a much different picture then the land based surface data. I’m not sure what the consensus opinion of Dr. Spencer is, but I like his satellite temperature charts and find them helpful: http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/, and I think his page on “manmade or natural” does a reasonable job of explaining the complexities and unknowns some of us think get papered over.

    As I’ve stated several times, I have a lot more faith in the satellite records and data points then the land based readings. I am not sure I understand why we haven’t concentrated our efforts in expanding our satellite measuring abilities instead of fooling around with the ground stations (which are just far to prone to error for the signal we are looking for and the level of certainty we should be expecting).

    Moptop,

    I think the most annoying aspect of Bilbo is he has shown an ability to be quite a serious thinker, but instead chooses to muddy the waters and play silly debate games…

    Ichthyic,

    As stated above I am all for furthering satellite data, but the 95% confidence level is in relation to the surface set – which has other issues I’m sure everyone will continue arguing over for another decade. And that is in relation to warming, not cause. Co2 as a primary force sounds great, but has some serious question marks to it. Black soot, water vapor – most noticeably shown in airplane contrails over the arctic for example, land use & population growth are all likely to be highly involved as well. There is also natural variability which we guestimate… Stating with assurance which cause is primary is problematic.

    Part of my issue with AGW is apparently you either agree with the full breadth of the alarmist clap trap claims or you are somehow the antichrist of science. Sorry, just not interested in playing that game.

  241. ChrisD

    We don’t have to claim that those scientists hid their data, tried to claim key computer programs as private property, broke the laws on Freedom of Information, intimidated journals into blocking critical reports, blocked and attempted to block criticism in peer-review literature, and hid incriminating evidence that their statistical treatment and models were invalid and their claims worthless.

    Perhaps not, but it sure would help your cause if those claims were actually true.

  242. matt

    “Matt, you can’t “filter” CO2, and routing emissions into the ground does nothing more than shift the burden to our descendants–it will not stay down there forever. The only way to truly curb carbon is to stop burning stuff.”

    Filters can limit emissions, are you familiar with the catalytic converter on cars? Particulate filters can keep some carbon from the air and routing it to the ground can be a permanent fix, it’s already being done in the Netherlands. CO2 is not a “pollutant”, even if we were to cut emissions by 50% around the world, it would have a significant effect. We don’t need to stop burning fossil fuels completely, just in a more efficient way. As of now, there’s no fuel more efficient that fossil fuels in terms of cost and availability. Doing away with it completely will cost way too much money, it doesn’t make sense and it will never happen in every major country, at least not in our lifetimes.

    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem03/chem03769.htm

    http://www.physorg.com/news177784093.html

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/feb01/bank0201.htm

  243. If stats continue to show insignificant trends for say 30 more years, that would likely yield a decrease in the rate of warming, based on sample size.

    No. First of all, the phrase “not significant above the 95% level” is not synonymous with “insignificant”. Climatologists define the confidence level by how likely a short term trend is to predict a long term one, not by whether the actual change over that time has had significant effects. And any single trend becomes more significant over time. So if one year is warmer than the previous one by 1.5 C/century, that’s barely more predictive of the long term trend than a coin toss (just over 50%). After 8 years, a 1.5 C/century trend is over 84% predictive of long term warming. After 15 years that same trend has passed the 90% confidence level and after 30 it’s approaching 99%.

    And after 30 years, that series of “insignificant” annual trends will have resulted in a real increase of 0.45 C, which is more than enough to effect climate patterns like rainfall and growing seasons, worldwide.

  244. Jon

    ThomasL– This is how science works. You test different hypotheses, and over time it becomes clear which one (or ones) explains what observable nature. “We are not able to find another cause” means that we tested the others and none of them had explanatory power, and GHGs did. Naomi Oreskes had a good discussion that touched on this here:

    As American geologist Harry Hess said in the 1960s about plate tectonics, one can quibble about the details, but the overall picture is clear.

    Yet some climate-change deniers insist that the observed changes might be natural, perhaps caused by variations in solar irradiance or other forces we don’t yet understand. Perhaps there are other explanations for the receding glaciers. But “perhaps” is not evidence.

    The greatest scientist of all time, Isaac Newton, warned against this tendency more than three centuries ago. Writing in “Principia Mathematica” in 1687, he noted that once scientists had successfully drawn conclusions by “general induction from phenomena,” then those conclusions had to be held as “accurately or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypothesis that may be imagined…. ”

    Climate-change deniers can imagine all the hypotheses they like, but it will not change the facts nor “the general induction from the phenomena.”

    None of this is to say that there are no uncertainties left — there are always uncertainties in any live science. Agreeing about the reality and causes of current global warming is not the same as agreeing about what will happen in the future. There is continuing debate in the scientific community over the likely rate of future change: not “whether” but “how much” and “how soon.”

    None of the other hypotheses turned out to have explanatory power.

    But manmade GHGs did, repeatedly:

    http://tinyurl.com/heatisonline

    Again, saying that they’re “blaming Co2 because they can’t think of anything else” is a joke. What the heck do you think they’ve been doing all these years?

  245. Katharine

    You know, this is really quite silly.

    Take a look at this curriculum for a climatology program:

    http://www-paoc.mit.edu/paoc/education/climate_phd.htm

    “The elements of climate are so broad that one cannot cover all important aspects in course work, nor is it possible for any small group of subjects to provide a completely adequate foundation. But the Committee for the Climate Physics and Chemistry degree strongly recommends that all students, in the interests of having a good grounding in the essential disciplines, should understand the content of at least the following subjects:

    12.800 Fluid Dynamics of Ocean and Atmosphere 12.842 Climate Physics and Chemistry 12.806 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry 12.740 Paleoceanography

    Substitutions are possible with the agreement of the student’s adviser

    Examples of Course Selections

    Students will have or will develop more specialized interests within the wider climate problem. A background adequate to carry out original research within one of these areas, leading to a PhD dissertation, can be obtained through courses offered in the Department and elsewhere at MIT.

    It is expected that individual programs will be worked out by students in close consultation with their adviser. The following examples are intended to be only illustrative and not restrictive of the possibilities. For a student focusing on dynamics

    First year, term 1 12.800 Fluid Dynamics of the Ocean and Atmosphere [12] 12.842 Climate Physics and Chemistry [12] 12.815 Atmospheric Radiation [6] 18.075 or 18.305 [Mathematics] [12]

    First year, term 2 12.810 Dynamics of the Atmosphere [12] 12.806 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry [12] 12.801 General Circulation of the Oceans [12] Electives or “Special Problems” [12]

    Second year, term 1 12.803 Quasi-Balanced Circulations [12] 12.804 Large-Scale Flow Dynamics Laboratory [9] 12.812 General Circulation of the Earth’s Atmosphere [12] Electives or “Special Problems” [12]

    Second year, term 2 12.864 Inference from Data and Models [9] 12.870 Air-Sea Interaction [12]

    For a student focusing on paleoclimate

    First year, term 1 12.800 Fluid Dynamics of the Ocean and Atmosphere [12] 12.815 Atmospheric Radiation [6] 12.842 Climate Physics and Chemistry [12] 18.085 Mathematical Methods for Engineers I [12]

    First year, term 2 12.801 General Circulation of the Oceans [12] 12.806 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry [12] 12.452 Mechanics of Sedimentary Processes [12] Electives or “Special Problems” [12]

    Second year, term 1 12.742 Marine Chemistry [12] 12.808 Introduction to Observational Physical Oceanography [12] 12.818 An Introduction to Atmospheric Data and Synoptic Meteorology [12] Electives or “Special Problems” [12]

    Second year, term 2 12.707 Pre-Pleistocene Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology [12] 12.740 Paleoceanography [12] 12.864 Inference from Data and Models [9] Electives or “Special Problems” [12] For a student focusing on ocean biogeochemistry

    First year, term 1 12.800 Fluid Dynamics [12] 12.842 Climate Physics and Chemistry [12] 1.76 Aquatic Chemistry [12] 18.075, or 18.085, or 18.305 [Mathematics] [12]

    First year, term 2 12.801 Steady Circulation of the Oceans [12] 12.806 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry [12] HA.7752 Biological Oceanography [12] 12.736 Special Problems in Chemical Oceanography [12]

    Second year, term 1 12.742 Marine Chemistry [12] 12.803 Quasi-balanced Circulation [12] 12.804 Large-scale Flow Dynamics Laboratory [9] 12.736 Special Problems in Chemical Oceanography [12]

    Second year, term 2 12.740 Paleoceanography [12] 12.864 Inference from Data and Models [9] 12.736 Special Problems in Chemical Oceanography [18] 7.440 Introduction to Mathematical Ecology [9]

    General Examination A student will normally have acquired the necessary background in academic subjects by the end of the fourth academic semester and will take the General Examination at that time. In extenuating circumstances, the Examination may be taken at a later date. (See the separate document on the General Examination and Thesis.)”

    It’s not anyone’s fault other than their own that denialists are too bloody stupid to actually understand this or that any of them don’t know the first thing about what actually goes into the training of a climatologist.

    This debate is tiresome when people with information argue against the ignorant.

  246. Katharine

    I suspect moptop and busiturtle and their ilk have never been arsed to read the actual articles.

  247. matt

    Katharine, my college room mate was a meteorology major and took almost all of those courses as well. Just taking the classes doesn’t mean you actually know what you’re doing in the field, it just means you’ve been exposed to all the theory and rationale. Even after all of that undergrad work, you still have to get a PhD. to become a climate researcher and it then takes years of on site training before developing the skills necessary to understand the complexities of the climate. It’s quite the long road. You don’t often see well respected scientists in any field under their early 30s because it takes that long to reach that level of independent expertise, similar to medical doctors, and even MDs screw up. Some doctors are even plain quacks, but if you always believed everything they said simply because they have a degree they’d be running a muck.

    Climatologists are not free from fault just because they go through so much school, they’re human, they make mistakes, and that’s why transparency and peer review are so important. Skeptics point that out because there’s been transparency issues within the field in recent years. It’s not that we think they can’t do their jobs, most are concerned about the integrity of the data.

  248. ThomasL

    Katharine,

    Most of those classes have been around for quite a few years (even in the dark ages when I was in school), they were, however, parts of other majors. You will be surprised how much you still have to learn even after completing all of that, as the truth is that completing those courses gives you the framework to begin really learning. I do wish you well in your pursuit, and try to remember to find time to enjoy being there (most of us will tell you the college years were truly some of the best).

    Jon,

    Believe it or not, yes, I actually do understand how science works. While your point is taken, and in fact one I haven’t argued over in the way you are implying my point is that one of the wonders of going down the scientific road is it never sleeps and is constantly revised. There have been revisions to such thinking in just the past several months as seen in the black soot causality in glacier melt and the contrail implication in the arctic melt. Both of which originally were blamed on simple Co2 AGW. There is also quite a large debate over water vapor and the extent of its affects, and even NASA acknowledged Co2 in the atmosphere didn’t behave as they thought & modeled (smooth dispersal) but was rather clumpy and ran in bands. Such “surprising” results would seem to indicate we don’t know as much as we pretend.

    As I have said, yes, I do actually read substantial numbers of the released research papers. While they may satisfy your curiosity they tend to just leave me with more questions.

    Surprisingly I cannot recall any other area where having questions is viewed as a negative.

  249. matt

    The college years were some of the best, some of the worst as well, but that’s par for the course. I attribute my worst times to advanced abstract algebra. To this day, I still can’t explain much of that material. Do enjoy it, it goes by quite fast. Also, don’t let professors tell you how to think, keep an independent mind.

  250. matt

    Thought you all would find this article interesting.

    Highs and lows:
    You might think that measuring the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be a priority. If you did think that, though, you would be wrong.

    http://www.economist.com/science-technology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15603891&fsrc=rss

  251. Jon

    my point is that one of the wonders of going down the scientific road is it never sleeps and is constantly revised

    That doesn’t sound like what you were arguing. A point I’d make is that uncertainty cuts both ways. What makes you think that resolved uncertainties and new discoveries will always come out on our side? In this respect, I am a conservative…

  252. ThomasL

    Jon,

    Please, try to understand this. I do not have a “side”, other than I like solid, honest, trustworthy science. I also have, over a long period of living, learned to recognize it (as everyting) has limitations and that making grand claims is best left to the politicians.

    I likely short hand a few things in here (it’s a blog, not a paper I’m getting graded on and certainly not of any relevance to my livelihood) though I do try to make the point clear.

    The future results of research may go lots of ways – support, not support or even makes no meaningful difference.

    But, my point was this. “We have found no other cause to explain such” implies they have actually spent lots of time looking for alternative causes, which they have only somewhat spent time and resources doing (and the resources part is important, nothing in life is “free”, especially funding dollars. Thus that which is seen as most likely to give results is funded first…). The main thrust has actually been “proving” the Co2 link, a much different endeavor. If they had really been looking for alternatives things such as the contrails and black soot would not have been anywhere near as surprising as they apparently where. There is also in such claims an impression that we understand how Co2 works in the atmosphere and have it reasonably well worked out (at least enough to model it and thus trust such models…). Again, if such were true (that we’ve got a real solid handle on all this stuff) the satellite results showing clumping and banding would not have come as such a “who would of thought” moment, and adds even more questions into what exactly they have been modeling…

    Hopefully that helps. As I said, the day to day workings of science aren’t something I’ve worried about in a long time (outside of helping two children majoring in the hard sciences with homework here and there…). Theories (how they work, how they are built and what they can thus claim), on the other hand, is an area I have never stopped working with.

  253. Jon

    I do not have a “side”, other than I like solid, honest, trustworthy science.

    In this case, by “side”, I meant the side of human beings. We’re all on that side, I’d assume.

    which they have only somewhat spent time and resources doing

    What do you mean “only somewhat”? What is this based on?

    The main thrust has actually been “proving” the Co2 link, a much different endeavor.

    What did you think of my above link? http://tinyurl.com/heatisonline

    Judging from your scare quotes, you know there is no proof in science. But I think we get an idea that we are not doing enough about the real risks when the IPCC comes out and says there is a greater than 90% chance that the warming we’ve seen so far is due to GHGs.

  254. matt

    “It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem.”
    – Malcolm Forbes

  255. ThomasL

    Jon,

    You seem genuinely concerned with all this which is fine. However, science never tells one what they ought to do, it only tells one what is. The *what* one should do part is much more complicated and involves lots of things far outside sciences area of expertise (ethics, politics, sociology, psychology to name just a few realms where questions of what one *should* do come into play). Often the *should* is actually “do noting”, something we as a species never like to hear as we like to *do something*, makes us feel important and like we have some affect on the world.

    Science can give one an idea of what to expect from various choices, but they all come with probabilities – never a certainty. Part of what has gotten medicine into trouble, everyone thinks there is certainty, forgetting those odds of success or serious complications can rear their head at anytime. If you have ever had a serious medical condition, or know someone who does, and have gone through all the options and processed all the “odds” for each one that will make much more sense to you. If you know anyone who had a “routine” procedure and ended up with major complications it will make even more sense to you.

    Every time the conversation jumps from what *is* to what *should be* we have changed fields of expertise, and science is ill prepared to cope with those areas.

    My examples are not “scare quotes”, simple reason. If we had truly spent lots of time trying to rule out other possibilities prior to throwing it all to the activists and scaring the heck out of the public we would not have such surprises. We would have already known such things.

  256. matt

    While you’re on the topic about what to do, I believe this to be an answer:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-kirsch/climate-bill-ignores-our_b_221796.html

  257. Jon

    Often the *should* is actually “do noting”, something we as a species never like to hear as we like to *do something*, makes us feel important and like we have some affect on the world.

    We already are doing something. We’re planning on putting more CO2 in the atmosphere, which has been shown to trap heat. And we will be doing even more of this in the future as the developing world, etc. comes online. It appears that there are unintended consequences for this activity.

    My examples are not “scare quotes”, simple reason.

    “Scare quotes” here is a figure of speech meaning the quotation marks you used. You had put them around the word proof, because you knew that in science, you don’t “prove,” you find evidence for (or against) a hypothesis. And you’re right, science doesn’t directly prescribe values–other than perhaps valuing empirical evidence.

  258. ThomasL

    Understood Jon,

    Hope you understand I am trying to point out what has gone terribly wrong in regards to the activistsalarmists and the general public. This is not going to be short lived or easy to recover from – a study of history will show that to be true. I have heard in these threads on numerous issues that the other, “soft” sciences are all B.S. (once someone, supposedly a serious intellectual type, stated “philosophical mumbo jumbo”, for example – I guess “I’m too dim witted to get it” means it’s “mumbo jumbo”…) and the only real knowledge is found in the hard sciences. I find such rather interesting (and ignorant), and it also explains to me why so many in the hard sciences play fast and loose in theory building and the claims made that such allow for in our “modern” way of thinking. They haven’t taken the time to learn the limits of such work (and there are limits).

    And yes, we are putting more in the air (and I really don’t see that changing unless we have a massive drop in population – cap and trade wasn’t going to change it either, just move who put it there). Have you been following the Windmill fiasco? It is turning out to be very similar to the ethanol debacle, especially in the “hasn’t actually reduced squat” area when looking at the whole picture (like inputs and reliability) rather than just trying to quantify output. Oh, and apparently it has actually been detrimental to employment. Running head long into perceived “answers” almost always just makes things worse (lesson from history).

  259. Jon

    No easy answers, sure. But doing nothing is a choice–that is, the choice to keep emitting. As I said above, it’s a bad one. And the people who are sabotaging our making any choice but doing nothing, are forcing us into bad choices.

    It’s bad accounting. On one side of the ledger is the cheap energy. On the other, is the unpaid-for externalities (a concept you can find all the way back in Adam Smith). At some point the cost of the externalities is going to come due. Hopefully, the latency won’t be too bad–when the problem becomes apparent, hopefully it won’t be too late to stave off the worst of the problem.

  260. Chris was asking: I too have my suspicions, but at the same time, am skeptical and would want to see some solid proof before I fully buy into this idea. After all, there really is a groundswell on the political right at the moment (see the Tea Party movement) and that is surely also spilling over into the climate denial blogosphere. And that would be, I guess, “organic.”

    I do have my suspicions too, and I think it will be really difficult to prove any of this, since it is probably a mix of payments from the top to the bottom on one hand, and “organic” growth of this denial movement on the other hand.

    But as you probably know, there are indeed some links that have been made clear. In recent weeks, the Deep Climate blog has made what appeared to me (from my non-American point of view) an impressive synthesis: http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/08/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-2-barton-wegman/

    (sorry if it has been said, I confess I have not read one of the comments – I do have now an allergic crisis when I see “262” comments, because I know what I will find)

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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