In my trek through back issues of The Skeptic’s Guide podcast I have found the Skeptic’s views on Global warming to be very interesting. Initially almost everyone was not convinced that it was a man made phenomenon. It has taken 150 episodes or so for most of the Rogues to come over to the (now what we know as) the scientific consensus.
It is interesting to listen to how new evidence is taken on board by the Rogues and is in itself a lesson in how skepticism works and how we need to keep challenging ourselves and our world view.
SN: “It seems absurd, when you really look at it, to substitute your own opinion based upon reading a smattering of simplified popular writings for that of the consensus of scientific experts who live and breath the science”
It seems even more absurd to substitute the opinions of radio shock jocks who have not even done any reading on the subject for the consensus of scientific experts who live and breathe science.
Yet that is exactly what happens out there amongst the talk-back radio loving public.
…which, sadly, includes my brother-in-law and my wife’s best friend’s partner ):
I do not question the veracity of AGW. What concerns me is the over riding focus on carbon emissions and the current methods to diffuse the situation. What about deforestation, pollution effects in the phytoplankton of the open ocean? What about the multitude of differing governments and cultures involved? We have problems convincing
I have problems with the vastly differing opinions on how much of warming of AGW due to CO2 alone. I do not mean the ideological opposition. As noted above this is a complex scenario. In my opinion climate scientists have become evasive due to ideological attacks.
Outside of incremental increases in wind/solar power, current solutions worry me. I mean the complexity of the factors involved and the law of unintended consequences.
People and politicians tend to approach one fight/one solution. I am not certain the there is any one solution. In addition the complexity of multiple nations and no one government for a global problem will impair complicated or difficult solutions. Which is all we have right now. I am not advocating doing nothing. I am questioning “just doing something” without purpose or clarity.
Unless we suddenly develop cheap effective fusion power. Then that could be a “one solution”. Instead it would probably be a power monopoly for that country.
I find myself agreeing with the 1972 Asimov novel “the gods themselves”. Where he states, very accurately, that until you have a solution that is acceptable. It is human nature to find reasons to dismiss the reality of a major problem.
I do not question the veracity of AGW. What concerns me is the over riding focus on carbon emissions and the current methods to diffuse the situation. What about deforestation, pollution effects in the phytoplankton of the open ocean? What about the multitude of differing governments and cultures involved? We have problems convincing people that it is happening never mind what to do about it.
“Why do we care about the consensus? Isn’t this just an argument from authority? Well, yes and no.”
I think we need to specify the word authority in the above. Talking about religious authority and talking about well-developed scientific authority (e.g. standing on Newton’s shoulders) are two different things, especially to believers in the scientific method.
A very good blog, nevertheless!
The problem with surveys like this is that they study one thing and are then used to assert different things. For example, this survey does not say:
1) that 97% of climate scientists endorse the view that human activity causes climate change (it’s 97% of the papers that expressed an opinion)
2) that 97% of peer-reviewed papers on climate change endorsed the view that human activity causes climate change (97% of the 33.6% of papers that expressed an opinion expressed that view, or about 32% of the papers)
3) that 97% of the peer-reviewed papers that expressed an opinion present research that supports the view that human activity causes climate change (many of the papers start with this as the basis for their research but don’t themselves contribute to the evidence)
4) that 97% of the peer-reviewed papers that expressed an opinion support the view that climate change will be catastrophic if we don’t act immediately (the survey didn’t ask this question at all).
There is, as you say, a legitimate case for accepting authority on things we cannot all verify for ourselves. However, this survey doesn’t contribute to that. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to feel that this survey is more of a marketing exercise than a scientific study. The idea that “the science is settled” has been promoted for many years in respect of climate science and is more often than not used to stifle debate. The earliest dire predictions about climate change have not come true and there are now starting to be more peer-reviewed scientific papers that challenge the consensus. For example with lower values for climate sensitivity. This survey makes no attempt to find out whether more recent papers are more sceptical of the severest projections for climate change. One has to wonder why not. That would be a lot more interesting than looking at all climate papers that have ever been published.
“The potential pitfall here, however, is that individuals who are not experts in the relevant field believe that they can do this by examining secondary sources, such as popular writings on the topic. This is naive, however.”
This is one aspect of the skeptical community that can be improved. I understand that this problem can be worse outside of self-identified skeptics, because many people have strong opinions about topics for which they don’t even have a basic understanding of, but there are far too many self identified skeptics that overvalue their assessment of complex topics based upon reading a few popular books. Sure those people certainly have a good basic understanding of a topic, and it may be far better than the average person, but intellectual overconfidence can be an added problem among smart people. This combined with ideological biases results in some skeptics thinking and saying nonskeptical things, yet they often can’t see the problem.
Related to this is an undervaluing of true expertise in a field. Even those in closely related fields can be ‘out of touch’ with the evidence and perspective of a particular topic. Now broaden that further to experts in an unrelated field or people with a general education, or people with little education at all, and you can see the problem.
Although this is cliche, one of the problems is science communication. Most people get their science information from mass media sources, and really have no clue what the scientific consensus is on a given topic. Most media speak of experts individually, placing one expert on one side and another expert on the other side with little perspective on the big picture understanding. This format overemphasizes the non-consensus perspective by placing on an even level with the consensus perspect (i.e. creates false balance). Its hard to criticize the general population too much when they are surrounding by misleading information
“Isn’t this just an argument from authority? Well, yes and no.”
I think it is simply ‘no.’ ‘Yes’ is not needed, because the term ‘argument from authority’ in this case is a specific form of informal logical fallacy. In other words it is not necessarily fallacious unless certain conditions are met (i.e. the fallaciousness comes from the contents of the argument rather than the structure of the argument).
The reason why authority is often fallacious is because the actual authority often has nothing to do with the topic discussed (e.g. the sun goes around the earth because the King says so), but topic-relevant expertise, particuarly a broad consensus is a reasonable basis for an understanding. As you described, in order to assess complex topics a person would need to approximate the education and understanding of the experts by reading a great deal on the topic and consulting respected experts in the field. In practical terms this is impossible for the vast majority of people, so they are best served by accepting the consensus view tentatively and adjusting their understanding as the consensus changes or gets fine-tuned over time.
The earliest dire predictions about climate change have not come true and there are now starting to be more peer-reviewed scientific papers that challenge the consensus.
Unfortunately quite a few new dire effects have been noted (methane release due to ice loss for instance)… and quite a few effects are already being seen.
I would say the science is settled on climate change being man-made. The questions now are how much, what and where. Your comment reminded me of the young earth creationist argument that because we are still investigating certain aspects of how evolution occurs and weren’t always right, that evolution itself is somehow in question.
It doesn’t really matter if some predictions were over the top. If sea levels rise 1cm, 1 foot or 2 or 6, it’s still climate change happening and it’s still going to displace a LOT of people… and that’s only one of the climate issues.
juga – the paper actually did look at trends over time, and acceptance of AGW has increased a bit.
Also – I acknowledge that this uses a subset (those papers that expressed an opinion) to make inferences about the entire population – just like all surveys. That does not mean the 97% figure is wrong. The error bars for sampling bias are very small. The only possibility is a systematic bias, which I mentioned.
But also – I linked to a paper with several other surveys also all showing 97% – so there is a good consensus on the consensus. In any case, the real figure is likely not far from this.
Disagreeing about aspects of AGW is not disagreeing about the basic reality of AGW.
The notion that doubt is increasing is not supported by any analysis I have seen. In fact, scientific groups that are expressing an opinion on this are increasing their confidence in AGW, not decreasing.
As long as you have a significant (from a voting standpoint) number of politicians in Congress whose jobs depend on them willfully not understanding the science, there will be “controversy” of some sort.
I think I agree with ccbowers that trusting experts in a particular field is not an argument from authority. The actual problem of the argument from authority fallacy is assuming an authority is correct because it is in authority. Trusting the scientific consensus on climate change is (ideally) not the same. You’re trusting the consensus because it was generated over time by experts, not because they wield authority.
This probably seems like a semantic difference, but I think it’s more than that. Scientific consensus is clearly not always correct, but I think the argument can be made that the scientific community, as a result of the rigorous application of the scientific method, is qualitatively different from other authorities. Specifically, science makes predictions about the world, and those predictions (taken as a whole) have turned out to be enormously powerful and successful.
Modern technology exists solely due to the fact that science is an objectively better method of exploring nature than other techniques. We spent 50,000 years asking the chief, or the medicine man, or the gods, or our gut, and the best we could come up with was wooden ships and gunpowder. We’ve spent a couple hundred years doing science and we have spaceships leaving the solar system.
I wrote a piece a couple of years ago in a blog which, I think, resonates with your piece above…albeit less eloquently. Your piece reminded me of it. Thanks to the SGU for improving my skepticism vocab which, I think, you can clearly feel in my writing on this AGW consensus topic.
There are two situations where the “argument from authority” fallacy applies:
1) an authority speaking outside his area of expertise.
2) an authority speaking within his area of expertise but against the consensus.
I think that’s how most of us see it, but some people seem to think that any appeal to authority is fallacious. Its important to emphasize that there are some opinions more meaningful than others because they are based upon varying levels of knowledge, and consensus experts opinions (of legitimate fields) should be valued the most.
I’ll add my two cents on interpreting fallacious arguments from authority. One aspect that can make it fallacious is if it’s unnecessary: Why cite the authority when you can cite the evidence they use? Of course, climatology is high level stuff, so it is arguably necessary if you’re not an expert.
One of the common methods of deniers is to pretend as if there is a raging scientific controversy when in fact there is a solid consensus. Creationists, for example are constantly trying to portray evolution as a “theory in crisis,” when in fact it is doing quite well, thank you.
“One aspect that can make it fallacious is if it’s unnecessary: Why cite the authority when you can cite the evidence they use? Of course, climatology is high level stuff, so it is arguably necessary if you’re not an expert.”
The problem with this is thinking that a layperson can actually evaluate a consensus of experts in a field. There are at least two problems actually – 1. it takes a long long time to obtain enough knowledge to begin to understand all of the nuances of a topic like climate change (so you actually need to become an expert yourself, or at least close to it), and 2. a single individual is more suceptible to biases that a group of experts. In many cases the individual biases will cancel eachother out when aggregated in a larger group. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand topics as much as we can or even have opinions, but it means that we should be intellectually humble when we do this
An argument that there is no consensus in the scientific community on AGW or on evolution is not a “logical fallacy”, it is instead a lie because there is a consensus in the scientific community on both AGW and evolution.
“The problem with surveys like this is that they study one thing and are then used to assert different things. For example, this survey does not say:”
That’s not a problem with the survey. Besides, it would be right to say that this study demonstrates a scientific consensus on AGW. Your numbered objections seem to revolve around inferring population parameters from samples, i.e., inferential stats. But even if you are an inferential statistics denier, what are the odds of getting the exact same figure with a completely different methodology, as they did in the paper?
People should say that this paper demonstrates consensus, because it does. And when you consider replication, the odds that it does not aren’t worth considering.
“The idea that “the science is settled” has been promoted for many years in respect of climate science and is more often than not used to stifle debate. ”
Facts have a way of doing that. When non-geophysicists are arguing about AGW, this is a powerful fact.
But if you mean that people are shy about saying they’re deniers because people rightly reference the consensus, tough! What other facts are we to censor during debates? Not all of them, just the ones that speak most strongly to our point?
“The earliest dire predictions about climate change have not come true and there are now starting to be more peer-reviewed scientific papers that challenge the consensus.”
This is just nebulous enough to be truefalse. Whose predictions? Most models give a range with some sort of confidence attached – that the largest changes in that range haven’t happened isn’t a falisification – in fact its unlikely a priori according to the model.
And where’s your cite for the notion that there are “more peer-reviewed scientific papers that challenge the consensus.”?
That opinion does not appear to be consistent with the various fallacy sites that I have checked. Wikipedia does mention that it is always a fallacy when used as a deductive argument,but is valid in inductive reasoning when applied correctly i.e. the expert has expertise in the field related to the claim,there exists a consensus of relevant experts for the claim, the expert is not biased toward a conclusion (motivated reasoning.)Those qualifiers seem to be what are commonly cited for valid use of appeal to authority to support a position.
There are at least two major problems with this paper-
1) The conclusions are based on incorrect interpretations of papers and
2) The term “AGW” is misdefined.
Here is a quote from one of the scientists that is part of the supposed ‘consensus’–
“What it is observed right now is utter dishonesty by the IPCC advocates. Instead of apologizing and honestly acknowledging that the AGW theory as advocated by the IPCC is wrong because based on climate models that poorly reconstruct the solar signature and do not reproduce the natural oscillations of the climate (AMO, PDO, NAO etc.) and honestly acknowledging that the truth, as it is emerging, is closer to what claimed by IPCC critics like me since 2005, these people are trying to get the credit.”
Re: the link:
a. that link is from a political interest (anti-AGW) group, not in and of itself disqualifying but reason for suspicion.
b. They found 4 misclassifications out of ~12,000. Looking at the method from the paper, there was assuredly going to be some error in classification. All you hav to do to cast doubt is look in their DB for authors you know don’t believe in AGW and look at their classification. Did they put in Michael Mann et al. to make sure all of his papers made it to the pile endorsing AGW? I’m thinking no. Anyway, being political in nature , they don’t describe what they did.
c. You’re ignoring that they asked directly ~8000 authors and also got 97%, which jibes with other work.
The consensus is real. Doesn’t mean that they’re right, but its real.
Read Scafetta’s comment re: defining AGW.
Read Tol’s comment on his articles used about the accuracy of the methods.
Read Shaviv’s comment about why his paper wasn’t more explict in the conclusions…
Your statement that they found 4 papers misclassified is incorrect.
“Your statement that they found 4 papers misclassified is incorrect.”
OK, but their vociferousness doesn’t increase their number. I counted the number on that website.
Cook used a classifier and it certainly failed with those 4 (more?) papers, but I’d like to know how often it failed in all directions. Someone interested in the truth would do that, not simply look collect mistakes in one direction.
“Your figure of 8000 scientists being asked is incorrect and very misleading as well.”
How many was it then?
And how were they wrong about what AGW is?
“I don’t know what if any consensus exists but the methods used here are not the way to determine it.”
I’ve seen evidence that it’s not perfect, but this estimating population parameters is that by design, and comes with an estimate of error. I’d need a more systematic refutation re: the classifier.
I gave you the links to answer your questions- if you can’t find that the 8000 number is incorrect by looking at the actual paper under discussion, then I have no idea what I would say that would be of value.
There are more than four papers listed as misclassified by the authors in the other paper I linked to as well.
I have no idea what to do if you can”t see that.
Do you disagree with what Scafetta says about how the term ‘AGW’ is used?
Still count 4 at that website: Idso, Scafetta, Tol, Shaviv.
Didn’t realize that you were telling me to read Scafetta as an answer to the misdefinition.
This is a piddily point. Whether AGW theories posits that most or 90% of warming is caused by humans isn’t that important. Cook asked with “most”, so the data corresponds to that.
And for what it’s worth, I find most and not the 90-100% in this report: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf
but I’m not reading it thoroughly.
I was dead wrong on the 8000. They sent out 8000, and got back ~ 1200. (you could have just pointed out my error, btw).
Again, none of it is perfect. You could make the arguments that
1. The classifier systematically erred toward putting papers in the pro-A(>50% not 90%!)GW pile, but I’d like to see that. The most reasonable interpretation is that it made as many errors in one direction as another.
2. For some reason, scientists who believe in A(>50% not 90%!)GW are much more likely to respond to the survey than those who don’t. NOt sure why one would think that.
The other choice is scientific misconduct, I suppose.
I mean piddily in the sense that the authors defined AGW as humans causing > 50% of warming, right? So, you to attach that to the interpretation. Maybe if they asked if humans were causing 90% of warming, only 70% of papers or scientists polled would agree. IOW, it’s not so much that it’s an error, but a caveat to interpreting what consensus about AGW means.
From the 1st link:
I hope they’re right in that paper! (I skipped straight there – I have no use for these issues bloggers). But evaluating long term trends with short samples is tough.
“We note, too, that caution is required in interpreting any short period, especially a recent one for which details of forcing and energy storage inventories are still relatively unsettled: both could make significant changes to the energy budget.”
The size of the effect of atmospheric carbon on climate is still an active debate, as the paper attests. I don’t think anyone debates that.
From 2nd link:
“Readers may recall that last December I published an informal climate sensitivity study at WUWT, here.”
Nic Lewis is not a climate scientist, and WUWT is not a peer reviewed journal (it’s a blg run by a weather man /politico). And do you remember his BS with the weather stations? I don’t really have time to read a lot of this stuff, and I’m no going to start by reading the takes of financiers and politicos. If you’d like to summarize feel free.
An argument from authority is an argument based on what people (experts) say or believe, not an argument based on facts or logic. It cannot be a valid argument. Anything that seems to be a valid argument but is not, is a logical fallacy.
Experts in a field can be a good source of correct facts. If those correct facts are woven together using valid logic, then that is a fact-based valid argument, not a logical fallacy.
Those ignorant of facts are not a source of correct facts. Without correct facts, no valid argument can be constructed.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts. When people attempt to assert their own facts which happen to be factually wrong, that is not a “logical fallacy”, it is simply wrong, and if done deliberately it is a lie.
Wrong ideas, lies, falsehoods have zero effect on the Bayesian posterior plausibility of an argument. We know this because there are infinitely many wrong ideas, lies and falsehoods that could be generated around any argument. If they could have an effect on the Bayesian plausibility, they would dominate over the finite number of correct ideas associated with an argument.
If you can’t ignore wrong ideas about a topic, then you are not able to think logically about it.
As I suspected- we aren’t talking about the same thing.
How much of the warming is due to human activity makes all the difference in the analysis of what will happen if we continue our lives as we have been and what the CO2 multiplier is and so forth.
I’ll give you a hint–
If the ‘multiplier’ is below 2, then the ‘deniers’ are correct and humans will not cause any of the catastrophes that we are supposed to be causing (like the sea level rise that is supposed to accelerate– even thought the measurements indicate it is slowing. Or the temperatures are supposed to sky-rocket when in fact they are not–do you know why the 17 years of ‘no warming’ is important? Why 17? Do you know?)
So what you call ‘piddly’ is the difference between being a ‘denier’ and being part of the ‘consensus science’ crowd.
More trouble with this poorly done ‘survey’ three more scientists complain their papers misrepresented.—
Here’s a money quote–
“One possible explanation for this apparent pattern of misclassification into “more favorable” classifications in terms of supporting the AGW hypothesis is that Cook et al. may have reverse engineered their paper. That is, perhaps the authors started by deciding the “answer” they wanted (97 percent) based on previous alarmist studies on the subject. They certainly had strong motivation to come up with this “answer” given the huge propaganda investment by alarmists in this particular number.”
If one runs a physics test of how much warming comes from increased CO2 levels- one gets one number.
The climate people then ‘multiply’ that (due to ‘feedbacks’ and come up with an amount of expected warming.
The physics experiment would lead to the conclusion that a double from 290 ppm would yield about 1 degree.
All the stories about 4 or 6 or 12 degrees of warming come from the ‘multiplier’.
You can see that this is an important number– right?
The amount of warming attributable to humans matters as well– just imagine the percent was .0001%.
Then we wouldn’t be the ’cause’ or the ‘answer’ to warming– right?
Apologies as I am a little tired right now, but having read this article and a number of the comments (not all) I then returned to the article to read the quoted abstract. Unless I really do need to go to bed, which I will do after this, the statistics declaring consensus in the abstract appear to be quite small.
97.1% of the 32.6% that endorsed AGW is 31.6% which is less than a third. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m not a scientist, but out of interest just what (rough) percentage is considered consensus? Is it really less than a third or should I return to the maths after a good night’s sleep?
I’m not sure what you are talking about, but it seems like what we used to call ‘pooh-pooh/ ad hominem’.
Or perhaps the ‘galileo’ reference is best understood as ‘red-herring’ or ‘non-sequitur’.
Given the circumstances, I think these may very well be the best arguments that you could put forward. However, I’m not sure you have to actually put them forward.
While it is true that being against the consensus doesn’t make you right (the Gallileo fallacy), it is equally true that the consensus isn’t necessarily right either. The consensus is right if it matches reality, and it is always wise to question this. The answer to questioning the consensus should not be “it is the consensus”, but “here are the data”.
The simple fact remains that the climate data we have are not very good. They cover a very short period of time, geologically and climatologically speaking. They have been collected using different technologies and need to be equivalenced. The results are often expressed in what (charitably) can only be called meaningless nonsense, like “the average surface temperature of the Earth”.
That being said, it is obvious that human activity has an impact on the planet. Deforestation, agriculture, over-fishing, city construction, etc. have profoundly changed the environment. It is obvious that there is a limit to the number of humans a finite planet can support, like there is a limit to the number of bacteria one can grow in a Petri-dish. It is obvious that burning fossil fuels adds CO2 to the atmosphere. It is obvious that higher levels of CO2 can have an influence on energy absorbed and released by the atmosphere and hence the climate, etc. It is obvious we should tread as lightly as we can.
What is not obvious is the validity of the predictions made by climate scientists, and what is obviously unfounded is the assumption that raising temperatures are necessarily bad, or in other words, that we are cominig from an ideal situation that needs to be maintained or recovered at (nearly) all costs. It is not obvious that reducing CO2 emissions is going to have the desired effect, or that wind farms and photovoltaics should be promoted as they currently are, etc. All these objections can be made, should be made, and should be answered with hard data, not an appeal to the consensus.
If there is consensus, it only means a majority of people think in a certain direction, but it says absolutely nothing about the validity of what they agree upon.
“If there is consensus, it only means a majority of people think in a certain direction, but it says absolutely nothing about the validity of what they agree upon”
In the case of climate change, the consensus is by climatologists – experts in the field of climate change whose whole working lives is devoted to the study of climate change.
It is true that the consensus on climate change by experts on climate change is not necessarily correct, the contrary opinion of the minority of experts who defer from the consensus view being correct is much less likely to be true, and the opinion of a like minded group of non-experts is so unlikely to be true as to be not worth considering.
From one of the workers on the project–
“I have to say that I find this planning of huge marketing strategies somewhat strange when we don’t even have our results in and the research subject is not that revolutionary either (just summarizing existing research).” – Ari Jokimäki
I haven’t seen any attempt to correct the survey based on the statements by those saying they have been misrepresented.
I believe this is in line with the earlier comment about how the results may have ben ‘reversed engineered’.
If the consensus by experts on climate change is not scientific then it’s only opinion and, as such, no better than the opinion of the radio shock jocks and their talk back radio callers.
And I guess the stand model is just opinion and no better than the opinion of that crank down the road.
I have no issue with the core of the consensus, and that is that human activity is affecting the climate. I have never been convinced that the model used to predict the effects in 40 to 100 years is valid. Unfortunately, these predictions are taken as gospel, and used by politicians to enact legislation that negatively affects the lives of millions. One of the most important components of science is honesty, and in my opinion, honesty is lacking from the communications of the official climate change instances to the public.
So while the ‘consensus’ argument is non-scientific and borders fallacy in the best case– in this case we have a phony survey presenting a phony ‘consensus’ based on questions irrelevant to the actual arguments used for a preconceived political lobbying effort.
That’s quite a bit different than talking about the consensus regarding the ‘standard model’ or the ‘periodic table’ or something like that.
Firstly, I made no comment for or against that survey. I’ve not even looked at it. I simply criticised the article at Watt’s website. It starts off with an argument about herd mentality – which is no argument at all because it could just as easily be applied to him and his followers – and ends with the Galileo fallacy.
Secondly, if you tell me I can’t trust the consensus on climate change by the worlds leading climatologists, on what basis do you suggest I should trust the opinions of non-experts like yourselves when you tell me that the actual experts have got it all wrong.
Thirdly, all I see in politics is denial and inaction, so I don’t think that you need to be concerned about your lives being affected….unless, of course, those experts turn out to be correct!
(Here in Australia, action by our politicians has been in the form of an almost useless carbon tax, and even that will be thrown out after the elections in three months time when the new government will romp in with a landslide win. Then there will no action on climate change for at least six years)
I’m suggesting that this ‘survey’ doesn’t show what it claims.
The reasons for this have been laid out– partly the fact that people who are claimed to be one way are not. When confronted with that fact the ‘researchers’ (who had the answer before they did the ‘research’) apparently haven’t investigated.
They have gone out to lobby governments using statistics they should realize are wrong.
In general ‘consensus’ is a fallacy. It is certainly not a ‘scientific’ argument.
However- I think it can be useful and in the case of well tested, experimentally validated, scientific subjects; it is probably correct.
The author criticises the fact that, in their search for articles on global climate change, they used the phrase “global climate change” rather than “climate change”.
In fact they did initially use the phrase “climate change” and came up with in excess of 200,000 articles. They narrowed the search by using the phrase “global climate change” and came up with a more manageable 12,000 articles. This took them just over a year to analyse.
In any case, the implication is that if the phrase “climate change” had been used the results would have been different. However, to make that point stick, someone would have to repeat the survey using that phrase. They are invited to do so.
There are many humorous parts, but the take away–
They published a paper that misrepresented some guys’ work (Tol is one example). When Tol calls them on it he is branded a ‘denier’ and lumped together with AIDS, smoking and vaccine denial.
But Tol has not denied man’s activities cause global warming. He has just pointed out an error in the methods of the paper these guys wrote. And the error is real.
Wow! Apparently the authors don’t take criticism all that well…
I loved this–
“Hundreds of media stories documented our survey and results. … President Obama even Tweeted about our results to his 31 million followers.”
I guess they know their audience will fall for an ‘argument from authority’ and an ‘ad populum’ argument every time.
Anyway– I do find the ‘if you disagree with us you are denying vacination’ angle a bit disturbing.
Yes, apparently it is a 98% not 97% consensus.
And that is a criticism.
In fact, it’s just a difference in calculation…
Here are the results:
No position: 66.4%
The 97% figure is derived using “Agree” as the numerator and “Disagree” + “Uncertain” as the denominator.
The 98% figure is derived using “Agree” as the numerator and “Disagree” as the denominator.
I will leave you to decide which figure better assesses the percentage that supports AGW.
Not that it actually matters.
The author starts his blog post uses the “herd mentality” argument against the survey because it got the same result as previous surveys. Well, guess what? They asked the actual authors of the abstracts of the articles found in their search to self-rate their articles and they again came up with 97%.
I suppose that is yet more evidence of “herd mentality”.
But, of course, the website “WattsUpWithThat” could not be accused of “herd mentality” now could it?
Finally, so as to comletely discredit this blog post, the author ends with the Galileo fallacy.
“Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument,…”
Here is the full quote:
“Scientific consensus is not by itself a scientific argument, and it is not part of the scientific method. Nevertheless, consensus may be based on both scientific arguments and the scientific method”
And later on it talks about a scientific consenus on the theory of evolution and global warming. In other words, a consensus is scientific if it is based on both the scientific arguments and the scientific. And that is the case for both the theory of evolution and global warming.
“They published a paper that misrepresented some guys’ work (Tol is one example)”
That’s a cute way to put it. In fact…
They published a survey of abstracts of papers found using the phrase “global climate change” and “global warming”. With a predetermined and an open process, they had each of 12,000 abstracts classified by two assessors with any disagreement decided by a third assessor.
They also invited all the authors of those papers to self-rate their papers. This gave the same result.
“When Tol calls them on it he is branded a ‘denier’ and lumped together with AIDS, smoking and vaccine denial”
I’ve must have missed that accusation.
Perhaps you can quote them?
“I loved this–
“Hundreds of media stories documented our survey and results. … President Obama even Tweeted about our results to his 31 million followers.”
I guess they know their audience will fall for an ‘argument from authority’ and an ‘ad populum’ argument every time.”
Again, that is a cute way to put it.
But in fact…
They have been open about the purpose of their survey.
It was driven by the following statistic…
Whereas 97% of climatologists support AGW, the general population thinks that only 50% of climatologists support AGW.
This is the result of the media trying to present a “balanced” view by opposing every climatologist expressing the consensus view with someone denying the consensus. It is also the result of a concerted effort by vested interests to distort the perception that there is a consensus.
The purpose of the survey, therefore, was to familiarise the public with the 97% figure.
Therefore they are naturally pleased that this figure is being popularised. It will go somewhere towards correcting the distortion inherent in the media coverage and the efforts of vested interests.
They are not using this as an argument and therefore there is no logical fallacy involved.
“From one of the workers on the project–
“I have to say that I find this planning of huge marketing strategies somewhat strange when we don’t even have our results in and the research subject is not that revolutionary either (just summarizing existing research).” – Ari Jokimäki”
Why is that strange?
Their purpose is to familiarise the public with the 97% consensus on global warming. So it makes sense to have a “marketing strategy” to publicise the results. If their survey had shown a 50% consensus, they would have been committed to publicising that figure.
The same argument applies to the criticism that the subject was “not that revolutionary”. It was not meant to be. The purpose was to familiarise the public with the fact that the consensus is 97%, not 50/50 as they perceive it to be.
“I haven’t seen any attempt to correct the survey based on the statements by those saying they have been misrepresented”
They don’t need to.
There are always going to be inaccuracies in any survey or assessment.
The point is that they anticipated this and therefore invited the authors of these papers to do a self-rate their papers. A both a third did so. The result was the same figure of 97%.
For some reason, the consistent figure of 97% is seen as evidence that the figure must be wrong.
This graph shows how observations disagree with models that predict the long term trend in the mid tropospheric temperature. It is true that, whilst the sort term measurements do show a mid tropospheric hot spot, the long term measurements do not. Various reasons have been offered for this, including satellite drift.
But the point is that this is only one aspect of climate warming.
The consensus considers ALL of the data, not just the mid tropospheric hot spot.
You must no cherry pick.
“Did we agree that ‘consensus’ by itself isn’t a ‘scientific’ argument?”
In context, this is a non argument.
We may agree to disagree. That is a form of consensus. It’s not scientific.
Urologists agree to do PSA testing. That is a form of consensus. It’s not scientific either.
But, by the above defintion, the consensus on evolution is scientific.
And, by that defintion, the consensus on climate change is also scientific.
Moreover, that is the object if our discussion.
“And you are kidding about the rest of the stuff– right?”
Sounds like a great argument to me.
(Double entendre intended)
They have levels 1-7 starting with
1 Explicit Endorsement with Quantification: paper explicitly states that humans are causing
most of global warming.
and going to–
7 Explicit Rejection with Quantification: paper explicitly states that humans are causing less
than half of global warming.
I looked. I couldn’t find a single #1 rating. I admit– the list is too long for a complete search– but I looked for a while. Couldn’t find a single #1.
There are some papers rated #2– which would probably fit Anthony Watts’ position– and some #3′s… I saw a 6 in there…
Can you find a single scientist who rated his own work as explicitly endorsing the notion that man is causing most of the warming?
“endorsement levels 2 and 3 =
2) Explicit Endorsement without Quantification: paper explicitly states humans are causing
global warming or refers to anthropogenic global warming/climate change as a given fact.
3) Implicit Endorsement: paper implies humans are causing global warming. E.g., research
assumes greenhouse gases cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause
Those positions describe the positions of Anthony Watts and Lord Monckton. (See my earlier comment about how this ‘changes’ the definition of AGW)
Here is the deal—
Everyone knows that if humans put CO2 in the air, then the earth will be warmer than if we don’t — even Lord Monckton will tell you that. I’ve heard him speak– he says that right off. Unreal– the guy who first alerted Thatcher to the dangers of AGW going around saying, “Upon further analysis– I was wrong.”
Funny how few will listen.
Here are the questions–
1) Given a certain rise in concentration of CO2, how much will temps rise?
2) What will happen if the temperatures rise by certain amounts?
3) What should we do about it?
Let’s agree– if you don’t get the first and second questions right, then you probably won’t get the third question right.
That’s where all the friction about this subject comes from– whether or not we need to do something about it or not– right?
The best way to know we got the first question right is to compare predictions with actual measurements, don’t you think?
The people making demands for political action where I live are basing their claims on predictions about temperature rise based on the outputs of certain models.
Based on the HADCRUT data and the sea level data and the satellite data and the CO2 concentration data– as far as I can tell the models are way off.
Perhaps I cherry-pick-
What data are you seeing?
(Oh, could you find a single self-rated paper ‘Explicit Endorsement with Quantification’?)
So what is the consensus?– that man’s contribution to global warming will be a total of .04 degrees? That would fit ‘level 2′ and ‘level 3′ of the ‘consensus’ according to these guys.
Yes, I agree that at least 97% of scientists would agree that humans cause global warming. Heck, I haven’t read anything by anyone who follows this issue at all who wouldn’t agree with that- that humans cause warming to some extent and that scientist know this.
It is a red herring because that is not is what is meant by AGW and it certainly doesn’t mean we have to do anything about that and it has very little to do with what this survey is about—
You asked why Ari thought it strange the survey was set-up the way it was.
Imperative means-something that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; necessity.
So the authors feel an unavoidable obligation to produce a ‘survey’ that has certain results.
I’m not sure how ‘objective and detached’ they could be about the numbers.
From my perspective– having been trained in the methods of statistical manipulation as well as I have been– I’m not surprised they could hit the number that it is ‘imperative’ be hit. It causes me to be suspicious, actually.
Surely my suspicions grow when it turns out there is an error in the tabulation and instead of reviewing the data (something one might expect given the means of determining the ‘level of endorsement’ was largely subjective)–
They attack the person who is pointing out the error.
This seems pretty obvious– if they correct the numbers, then the ‘consensus’ will drop below 97%– and then it would be said to be a sign the ‘consensus’ is ‘weakening’. And it is ‘imperative’ that people be told otherwise.
That is the point of the exercise– to tell people something that it is imperative they hear– right?
Politics– not science.
Anyway– the ‘survey’ they did has nothing to do with any need for action, because none of the questions addressed that at all. But they are using it that way. One of the authors of the survey has newspaper articles written all ready that call for a new form of tax. What do the results of this ‘survey’ have to do with that?
I don’t see this thread as being about climate sensitivity, or consequences, or the need for action. It’s simply about whether or not there is a consensus of climatologists regarding AGW. it really does seem you agree on this, so I don’t see an argument. You also seem to be saying that everyone now agrees that AGW is real. If that is the case then fine. But the site you linked to seems to be denying it. Perhaps I’ve misread them.
They mention four authors who say the survey got in wrong in their case. Its a pity they didnt respond to the invitation to self-rate their paper then. It seems no one else has come out of the woodwork to naysay their assessment. So 4 out of 4000. That’s a 0.1% error rate. I’m happy with that.
I wonder if there are links to the abstracts of the papers by those four naysayers so we can see for ourselves if the assessments of their abstracts was actually in error. The might just have made an error in their own assessments!
It is true that climate science has been politicized. For example, there are those who think the only argument is what the ‘consensus’ is.
‘Consensus’ is always a political argument, by definition. But ‘consensus’ is never, by itself, a scientific one- right?
I’m wondering why the report is being used to lobby for higher taxes.
I don’t remember anything about taxes in the paper at all.
Is a call for higher taxes a scientific claim or a politicization of results that have no bearing on the discussion of taxes at all?
I doubt the paper does much to advance science because the categories are too broad and vague to make any analysis of what exactly is being agreed to. (Who knew that Anthony Watts held a “consensus” position?)
The result is being used to promote a political agenda, however. A political agenda that has nothing to do with the findings–
The subject has been politicized– that seems clear.
If its based on scientific evidence then it’s a scientific consensus.
The consensus by climatologists on climate change is a scientific consensus.
I will speak more broadly now, not just about consensus that climate change is anthropogenic…
What politicians do with this consensus is obviously a political decision.
Hopefully those political decisions will be based on that scientific consensus on climate change – which is that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to prevent the consequences of global warming to the extent predicted – together with assessment by economists as to the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The political decisions to date have overwhelmingly reflected climate denialism
To date in Australia, action has been close to zero by a government that ostensibly agrees with the scientists. After Sep 14th, we will have a PM with a record majority who is on record as being a climate change denialist.
You have worded a tautology as a call for action. (Your wording of the ‘consensus’.)
I don’t mean to be offensive– but I get the feeling you are playing a Poe just to mess with me.
On the off chance that you are not playing a Poe, and for the sake of the exercise…
The science was politicized by people making political demands based on the science. Right? Before the ‘calls for action’ there was no political aspect to the science– right?
The two people I think of are Al Gore and James Hansen– the two that did the most to make it a political issue. In fact, James Hansen was a big factor in making climate science political where I live. His call for action was based on certain predictions that he made at high level government hearings.
The current observations don’t match the predictions he made at that meeting well at all. In fact, if his predictions had matched the observations, there would be no call for action as it appears the impact of human activities is much smaller than he imagined.
But to compare predictions with observations is a scientific activity– what we do is talk ‘consensus’– right?
See, the predictions aren’t matching the observations.
But the political demands remain exactly the same.
Remember– I have all ready pointed out that people you call denialist are called part of the ‘consensus’ in the survey.
You can stop pretending to be a Poe now.
The observations are, in fact, worse than the predictions contained within the consensus.
You can make a case for the opposite of this reality only by cherry picking or quoting those who cherry pick. The fact that you have referenced Monckton does you no credit.
The observations were always likely to be worse than the predictions because a consensus, by its very nature, tends to be conservative.
You expect scientist to stay in their ivory tower and produce the data, go home and go to sleep. You expect too much. The data mean something. The data leads to action. Quantum physics didn’t sit in the ivory tower, it led to action and now you can use your computer to communicate almost instantly with someone on the other side of the world. Climatologists have produced data that suggests the world may be in danger and those signs of danger are getting stronger. This had has led to scientists informing politicians and urging action. I am surprised you would expect any less of them.
James Hansen went to the USA Congress and described ‘climate science’ in terms of political choices. His three scenarios all imply political actions– right?
He could have presented the predictions in terms of CO2 ppm, or some other measure– but he presented it in terms of political choices.
That is how the science became political.
If he had correctly predicted the actual temperature readings we are currently finding (HADCRUT), then there would be agreement that no action is required for humans to have minor impact on climate.
But because he made incorrect predictions, predicting large increases in temperatures, some people decided political action was needed.
See, if he had made correct predictions– there would no no call for political action. It is because his predictions are way too high that some people concluded action was required.
But those calls for action are based on predictions that are way off.
Politicians don’t care– they want action. A scientist might re-evaluate a position given new information.
Once anyone who questions the need for action gets labeled a ‘denier’ we have the completion of the politicalization of the subject. Nobody can discuss the subject at all– you are either demanding huge governmental interventions into everyone’s lives or you are a ‘denier.’
Completely political– ‘consensus’ versus ‘denier’.
That is a completely political divide that has nothing whatsoever to do with science or scientific inquiry.
In an attempt to get more scientific–
I have given you a list of observations that don’t match the predictions including surface temperature (HADCRUT), sea level rise (NOAA) and atmosphere temps (RSS). I asked what data you are looking at. You gave me none. I would like to know what you are talking about when you claim ‘things are worse…’
I’m not going to get into a long discussion because it will be endless.
However, I’ll just mention a few points…
Most of the global warming that has occurred has gone into the oceans.
The record of ocean heat content shows a continuing rise right through to the present.
Only a minority of the heat goes into the sea and land surface and the record is dogged by natural variability such as El Niño, La Niña, ocean currents, volcanic eruptions, sun spot activity etc etc.
For this reason you must look at time intervals of 20 to 30 years to find a reliable trend.
I’ll bet any money the decreasing trend that you see is over a much smaller time span.
(Also there are genuine climate sceptics and there are climate deniers.
The deniers start with a conclusion and cherry pick the evidence that fits, and ignore/misinterpret/misrepresent/lie about data that doesn’t fit.)
I am siding with sonic here on every point he has made.
Consensus is not the same as scientific proof. Those fields in which “proof” is a sacred concept (ie, mathematics and fields in which mathematics plays a very important role) understand that. As I mentioned, the “consensus” in the P vs NP question is that these two classes of problems are not equal but no body goes around calling “denialists” those who think otherwise because up until a mathematical proof is provided, the question remains open. The history of Mathematics is full of “consensus” gone wrong, so that brings a lot of humility to its practitioners.
In fact, and I don’t want to bring that other topic here, but my hope is that the director of the NIMH will turn psychiatry into something akin to Climate science, with falsifiable quantitative predictions what will allow to send the psychiatric scam to the ash heap of history .
“This result had not been improved for several decades, leading some experts to suspect that it was the best possible and that Luzin’s conjecture was false. Kolmogorov’s counterexample in L1 was unbounded in any interval, but it was thought to be only a matter of time before a continuous counterexample was found. Carleson said in an interview with Raussen & Skau (2007) that he started by trying to find a continuous counterexample and at one point thought he had a method that would construct one, but realized eventually that his approach could not work. He then tried instead to prove Luzin’s conjecture since the failure of his counterexample convinced him that it was probably true.”
So the “consensus” was that the conjecture that became a theorem was false, and by trying to find a counterexample that would conclude that, Carleson actually ended up proving the theorem.
A similar situation happened with Fermat’s Last Theorem. It is deceptively simple to state but it went unproved for 350 years. Attempts to prove it had escaped the brightest mathematicians on Earth, including the guy who many describe as The Prince of Mathematics, Carl Gauss http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Friedrich_Gauss, for the depth and breath of his contributions . After Godel’s established its two incompleteness theorems, many had come to the conclusion that Fermat’s Last Theorem might be one of those propositions that could not be proved if mathematics were to be a consistent endeavor. And this “consensus” was based on the idea that if Gauss and the like had not been able to prove it, then that’s a very strong evidence that there might not be a proof.
Come Andrew Wiles, and, as they say, the rest is history,
Note that the actual proof is based on 20-th century mathematics, because the implication of Fermat Last Theorem’s is so profound. To this day, it is not known whether a simpler proof, that only uses so called “basic principles”, of the kind Fermat himself could have envisioned, exists.
Firstly, please point where I have said that consensus is proof.
In fact, I have said nothing like this at all.
There is no proof is science, there is only evidence leading to best guesses.
The accumulated evidence by experts in any field of science leads to best guesses as to the reality of the situation. In medicine there is a conclusion regarding PSA testing based on the accumulated evidence. In climatology there is a conclusion regarding global warming that is based on the accumulated evidence.
This is doing science. Period.
Science can be wrong. It’s nearly always wrong to some extent. But it’s still science. In fact, if you exclude everything that could be wrong, there would not be anything to call science.
Regarding catastrophic warming…
The consensus on global warming by experts in the field have never forecast “catastrophic” warming except in certain scenarios which they acknowledge are unlikely to occur. They make predictions based on a whoe range of possible future scenarios and make a best guess as to the likely scenario that will play itself out. This best guess does not result in “catastrophic” warming. Of course, this will depend on your definition of “catastrophic”. Some deniers use it as a denialist tactic to deny all of the climate scientists’ predictions.
Was Newton and Kepler not doing mathematics when Newton derived Keplers Laws of Planetary Motion from his mathematical description of gravity just because they were later proven to be incorrect?
Their laws could not explain the precession of the perihelion of Murcury.
Along came Einstein and, as they say, the rest is history.
But Einstein could be wrong also. In the future there may be a Theory Of Everything that combines Relativity with Quantum Physics. So I guess Einstein was not doing science either!
Science does not base its validity on consensus about accumulated evidence but on its ability to make falsifiable predictions that consistently predict the right result. Note that when I say “falsifiable predictions” what I mean is that the predictions could go either the way predicted by science or the other way. When a scientific theory consistently makes falsifiable predictions that are validated by empirical evidence, it gains validation. When, as the graph shown in The Economist shows, the falsifiable predictions fail to predict, then the validity of the scientific theory is in question, regardless of whatever the “consensus” believes.
Now I am not saying that certain areas of so called “science” do not work as you claim, but that is not real science but something else. It’s the sad corruption by the pseudo scientists of science.
Something that gets lost in discussions about “consensus” and “peer review” is that it means different things in different contexts. In the humanities, “consensus” and “peer review” are synonymous with validity. Social theories are valid or invalid based on what consensus think about that validity at a given time.
In “science”, peer review is only meant to decide the question of whether the claimed result satisfies the rules of scientific deduction. The question that the “peer review” of Wiles first proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem was trying to elucidate was not whether the theorem was true, but whether the way Wiles made his claim was consistent with the rules of mathematical deduction. It turns out that a flaw was found in the deduction process, but that flaw said nothing about whether the claim was true. Wiles fixed his proof, producing a second one that passed the peer review process in the sense that no “logical hole” was found in the deduction process by his learned peers. Once that proof was established to have no holes in its process, whatever “consensus” thinks about the validity of the proof is irrelevant. Science is meant to be a very totalitarian process with no room for democracy. It is governed by the rules of nature and the rules of logic. When, in the context of making a statement about the current status of a scientific question, an appeal to “consensus” has to be made, it means that the science doesn’t stand by itself, and that it is probably not very solid.
This takes me to the whole catastrophic global warming scenario. It is not enough to produce mathematical models that explain the past. If we are to base far reaching policy decisions on concerns about the effect of increasing temperatures, the very minimum that it is asked is that the models predict future temperatures accurately. They have failed miserably on that regard. So if they are not able to get this purely quantitative prediction right, who in his/her right mind would trust any of their other catastrophic predictions (some of ones made in the late 1990s about what the situation would be like today also failed to materialize).
Catastrophic global warming is just another scam push forward by those who make a living out of government research grants. And it is not the first scam that people with that type of thinking have tried to pass as “truth”. Here come a couple,
Your argument about Mathematics shows the problem with the average skeptic that lacks a solid mathematical and scientific foundation. You have come to believe that repeating dogmas is the same as arguing.
Climate science, just as biology and that other endeavor that I will not dignify by introducing it here because it is even worse than climate science and biology by a very large margin, suffer from a very deep “physics envy”.
Newton’s classical mechanics is a very good approximation at the macro level for the phenomenon of gravity. Einstein’s is a finer model, because it explains more scenarios more accurately. However, Newton’s approximation is very good in the overwhelming majority of cases, from the scenario of sending probes to Saturn, to designing planes, etc. Climate science does not have the ability of make that type of predictions with respect to future temperatures by any stretch of the imagination. So to claim that the current state of climate science is like the state physics was in before Einstein is deeply preposterous and in insult to both intelligence and science itself.
“I have given you a list of observations that don’t match the predictions including…sea level rise (NOAA)”
I’ll just use this quote of yours to illustrate how the sources you use for information on climate change provide you with cherry picked misinformation.
I can’t find your reference, but I’ll bet anything that the graph you’ve been shown by the climate denialists you read ends in the year 2010-2011. There was indeed a fall in sea level throughout 2010, and it has an explanation? It was the result of a strong El Niño effect followed by a strong La Niña effect. The La Niña effect causes lots of ocean water to evaporate into the atmosphere and to fall back on land rather than the oceans. Climate scientist already prodicted that the trend would reverse strongly as the water drained back from the land into the oceans. This prediction was shown to be correct as you can see from the graph at the following link.
As you can see, there is a continuing long term trend upwards, characterised by what climate scientists call speedbumps and potholes. The climate deniers found a pothole and they’ve ignored the speedbump that followed. This is called cherry picking.
” There was indeed a fall in sea level throughout 2010, and it has an explanation? It was the result of a strong El Niño effect followed by a strong La Niña effect. The La Niña effect causes lots of ocean water to evaporate into the atmosphere and to fall back on land rather than the oceans. Climate scientist already prodicted that the trend would reverse strongly as the water drained back from the land into the oceans. This prediction was shown to be correct as you can see from the graph at the following link.”
This is a perfect example of so called hindsight bias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias by which those who fail to make predictions try to justify their failure with after the fact reasoning. Appeals to hindsight bias are also common in endeavors like economics, astrology or homeopathy. That speaks very poorly of climate science.
Global warming alarmism is plagued with hindsight bias (just as is that other example that shall remain unnamed here).
They made that prediction before it happened. They are on record as saying that the downturn in sea level rise would be followed by a strong upturn (and the reason for it) before it actually happened. And, over the following year, that prediction was shown to be correct. I’m not sure if they predicted the downturn, but I would be surprised if they did not.
I’m now off on my sunday morning hill run but I’ll try to find the reference that I have seen to the second prediction about the upturn when I return. I’ll even look to see if they made the first prediction about the downturn if I get time.
Anyway, the point is that the long term trend is for rising sea levels – never mind the short term potholes and speedbumps – as that satellite altimetry graph i linked to clearly demonstrates.
The fluctuation in the sea level with ENSO cycle is well known to climatologists.
During the La Nina phase the colder atmospheric conditions cause a shift of water from sea to land causing the sea level to drop. This occurred prior to 2010. Parts of southern USA, the amazon basin, India and south east Asia, and Australia were flooded and there was increased snow and ice fall in other areas.
During the El Niño phase the warmer atmospheric conditions and something called the Walker Circulation cause a shift of water from the land back into the sea. This occurred during the last half of 2011 extending to the present.
Here is an explanation of the Walker Circulation:
(It has lots of mathematical symbols, so it should be right up your alley!)
I am still under the shock of learning, and processing, that Novella’s credentials are quite a bit less impressive than what he makes it look like in his profile, which explains a lot of the nonsense he usually spews around here. My “mind” is unable to process anything further now. I’ll get back to you .
But for those who might argue that these data show us entering a long-term period of decline in global sea level, Willis cautions that sea level drops such as this one cannot last, and over the long-run, the trend remains solidly up. Water flows downhill, and the extra rain will eventually find its way back to the sea. When it does, global sea level will rise again
No, I have a response, and in fact, you are wrong.
It is just too much for me to process. I had been working on the assumption that I had been arguing with an intellectual equal. I was wrong. All these detailed explanations about the meaning of validity.prediction in science… Worthless. What I don’t get is how is that anybody takes this Novella guy seriously. He is a fraud. I wrote him the email below to his address here.
—– Forwarded Message —–
Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2013 8:46 PM
Subject: You owe to your readers to set the record straight
To say that I was astonished when I discovered today that your appointment at Yale is not a tenure line appointment but rather a clinical appointment at Yale Medical Group would be an understatement.
You and I understand very well the difference in prestige, and value as “argument from authority”, of the type of appointment you have and an appointment like Jerry Coyne’s. Again, I am not defending blindly arguments from authority, but the fact remains that you have made several fallacious arguments in your responses to me, like what “validity” means in medicine, that clearly many of your readers do not grasp because they lack the scientific background to understand them.
If you truly appreciate science as much as your work in the so called “skeptic movement” makes it look like, you owe it to your readers to set the record straight about the real meaning of your academic credentials, what medical professionals really think about “validity” when they use that term, even in the context of psychiatry such as by Tom Insel’s in his blog, etc.
Failure to do so is contributing to the dissemination of a false understanding of what science really is, ie, being complicity in the spread of scientific illiteracy.
Science is a tough and difficult endeavor. There is no shortcut to that.
There is a difference between making generic statements about “global sea level will rise again” or “Willis said that while 2010 began with a sizable El Niño, by year’s end, it was replaced by one of the strongest La Niñas in recent memory” and saying something like,
The sea level will raise to X, day Y and be right on both (in X with an error of less than 0.1%). That’s what true science is capable of doing. For God’s sake, we sent the Voyager II to Neptune!
These are just generic, “defensive”, “just in case” predictions that have very little value in fact. When it comes to validating catastrophic global warming what matters are predictions that are both quantitative and falsifiable, like the temperature predictions pointed out by The Economist that failed to materialize. As I said to Novella, science is not philosophy. It’s all about making accurate predictions and being right. This is not to say that there isn’t value in less predictive endeavors, like economics, but there are not truly science in the way physics and mathematics are.
I can’t help it if you can’t cope with uncertainty.
On the other hand, I love it.
Climate is a complex topic with layer upon layer of uncertainty, but that’s no reason to avoid tackling it.
I’d much rather learn about the ins and outs of climate change than a set of equations.
But each to his own.
BTW, I don’t think Steven Novella has ever claimed he is anything other than a specialist physician (neurologist) with a special interest in medicine that is both plausible and evidence based, which is why he writes this blog and contributes to the Science Based Medicine blog.
You have not acknowledged that you were wrong about the prediction regarding the upturn in sea levels after the downturn in 2010 – 2012, or that you have understood the reason for it.
What does that say about your intellectual superiority that you have been hoodwinked by the climate denialists’ cherry picking, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and outright lies.
The temps are higher than the past. But not nearly as high as predicted.
The ‘hot spot’ in the atmosphere isn’t there as predicted.
The sea level is rising. Similar rate to the past- not as predicted–
(You claim the slowdown was predicted and gave this link here– http://grace.jpl.nasa.gov/news/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=53
but that link doesn’t verify your claim of prediction–
“This past year, it’s been more like a pothole: between last summer and this one, global sea level actually fell by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimeter.”
Please don’t think that is a prediction– that is a statement about the past. You are mistaken as to what your link shows. Prediction is not from hindsight. And to say the sea level is rising at the rate it has for some decades doesn’t fit the predictions well.)
These are fairly well established data sets giving similar reports– the predicted warming has been exaggerated- and it has been acknowledged that there appears to be ‘missing heat’.
It seems the explanation for the ‘missing heat’ is ‘ocean heat’. But ‘ocean heat’ is the least reliable data set. I’d say the most reliable data sets are painting one picture and the ‘reanalysis’ of the worst data set is being used to explain that.
Perhaps that is what is meant by ‘cherry picking’?
Earlier I suggested that the survey showed that there was a consensus that human use of fossil fuels and such would make the earth warmer than if we didn’t use those fuels. I pointed out that both Anthony Watts and Lord Monkton would fit that consensus.
You said you thought the consensus was something else– and gave a tautology as the consensus (If we are to mitigate the effects of our use of lettuce, we must reduce the use of lettuce…)
Have you reconsidered this? Could you attempt another wording of what you think the consensus is please?
A personal question– What prediction about the climate do you think makes action necessary?
“You claim the slowdown was predicted and gave this link”
I made no such claim.
I said that the upturn after the downturn was predicted.
I said I would try to find out if the downturn was also predicted if I had time.
The link I gave confirms that the upturn after the downturn was predicted and I even quoted the passage where that prediction was made.
Here it is again:
But for those who might argue that these data show us entering a long-term period of decline in global sea level, Willis cautions that sea level drops such as this one cannot last, and over the long-run, the trend remains solidly up. Water flows downhill, and the extra rain will eventually find its way back to the sea. When it does, global sea level will rise again
“I can’t help it if you can’t cope with uncertainty.
On the other hand, I love it.
Climate is a complex topic with layer upon layer of uncertainty, but that’s no reason to avoid tackling it. I’d much rather learn about the ins and outs of climate change than a set of equations.
But each to his own.”
Same arguments have been made to justify other unscientific endeavors in the past such as economics. Economics remains a “dismal science” to this day because its inability to make accurate forecasts. That is not to say that there isn’t any value in economics (or climate science). But what we cannot do is to base far reaching policy decisions in doomsday scenarios that, in all likelihood, NOT materialized.
“BTW, I don’t think Steven Novella has ever claimed he is anything other than a specialist physician (neurologist) with a special interest in medicine that is both plausible and evidence based, which is why he writes this blog and contributes to the Science Based Medicine blog.”
Now he claims to be a tenure line professor, but he still has to explain how is that he hasn’t been promoted to associate professor yet.
“You have not acknowledged that you were wrong about the prediction regarding the upturn in sea levels after the downturn in 2010 – 2012, or that you have understood the reason for it.
What does that say about your intellectual superiority that you have been hoodwinked by the climate denialists’ cherry picking, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and outright lies.”
Goes back to the point about “uncertainty”. We have different notions about what an “accurate prediction” is. Since you also seem to have a problem with doing actual science, in which there is no escape from mathematics/equations, that compounds your misunderstanding of what science value. Science value is not in its ability to explain the past but IN ITS ABILITY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE. Without that ability, appeals to “the scientific nature of this and that” are worthless. If all that science could do was to explain the past an make shaky predictions, it would have the same status as economics: few would take it very seriously. That is the biggest offense that I see in the doomsday climate scientists, they are prostituting the name of science only to advance their own agendas.
cannotsay2013- Since you have an affinity for the mathematical side of the AGW debate, I would urge you to take part at Tamino’s ‘Open Mind’ blog (I am not sure if you have commented there before)
I am sure that Tamino will eagerly take on any math or statistical argument that you can throw at him,if that’s you bag. Good luck
Richard Lindzen, being an actual scientist, throws quite a bit of technical knowledge there, but he ends his talk with a very fine joke that any fair criticism to doomsday global warming constitutes an “insult to the sensibilities of the educated class and the entire East and West Coasts”. Brilliant!
“Science value is not in its ability to explain the past but IN ITS ABILITY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE”
Seems you have the same trouble as sonic.
You don’t understand what has been clearly said to you even after three attempts now!
For the fourth time:
Climate scientists did predict that the downturn would inevitably be followed by an upturn BEFORE it happened and they were able to do so because they understood the reasons for the downturn – unlike the climate denialists who were all over the downturn as evidence that the warming was slowing down and who have still not corrected their error as a result of the updated data.
“The ‘hot spot’ in the atmosphere isn’t there as predicted”
The evidence does not allow you to say that.
The “hot spot” is observed over short time scales (seasonal and annual) so that suggests that the phenomenon is real.
Also, there is evidence of faster upper tropospheric compared to surface warming generally, but the evidence for even faster relative warming in the upper troposphere over the tropics is problematic.
Three satellites measure this so called “hot spot”. One shows that the upper troposphere over the tropics warms at a slower rate than the earths surface, one shows no difference, and one shows that the upper troposphere over the tropics is warming at a greater rate than the surface (ie a “hot spot”)..
There are also weather balloon measurements. Direct temperature measurements when adjusted to natural variability provide evidence of a “hot spot”. Indirect wind speed measurements also provide evidence of a “hot spot”.
So, the evidence does not allow you to say that there is no “hot spot”..
But the interesting thing here is that theoretically there must be a “hot spot” if there is warming (and it doesn’t have to be anthropogenic), But we’ve all agreed that there is warming. Right? So why is this even an argument. The fact is that climate denialist are either unaware of this fact or cynically use it to discredit the IPCC consensus.
Here is another interesting tidbit…
A quote from your friend Christopher Monckton that shows he doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
“the predicted “hot-spot” signature of anthropogenic greenhouse warming is entirely absent”
He is dead wrong of course.
I’m using Hansen’s predictions because they are the longest running. He uses various ‘emission scenarios’ as does the IPCC- right?
As I understand it, temperature readings are currently running below Hansen’s scenario ‘C’– no emissions after 2000.
Is that right?
If you are quoting IPCC numbers you should compare the emissions assumptions those predictions relate to with the actual emissions. I believe the numbers you quote are based on assumptions about emissions that are incorrect– the emissions have been higher than assumed. That means to get the correct predictions– we’d have to adjust the numbers you gave higher as Hansen does.
If you could link to where they came from I could check that.
The sea level was originally predicted 2mm, but it is more like 3mm. And steady.
You have seen the model predictions for the satilite data versus the actual measurements– right? Maybe those models aren’t part of anything to do with the consensus…
I’m interested in what you think of finding the ‘missing heat’ in the least reliable data set. It makes me uncomfortable.
I’m curious if you understand what I mean when I say your original statement of the consensus is a ‘tautology written as a call to action’. I wonder if you have formulated a different idea of what the consensus is.
I’m not saying Monkton knows what he is talking about– just that his position would fit ‘endorsement 3′ in the survey and therefore his papers might be seen as in agreement with the ‘consensus’ that the survey found.
Watts’ position would also fit. That is not to say he knows what he is talking about either– just that the ‘consensus’ includes people often called ‘deniers’– so what kind of consensus is that?
“The sea level was originally predicted 2mm, but it is more like 3mm. And steady. My mistake.”
If you answer the following question, you might understand how significant this admission is.
Why do sea levels rise?
The answer is that sea levels rise because of increased amount of water in the oceans as a result of land ice melting due to global warming and water expanding due to increased heat content due to global warming.
So, if sea level rise is greater than predicted, what does that tell you?
That answer is that average predictions about global warming have probably erred on the side of caution.
“I’m interested in what you think of finding the ‘missing heat’ in the least reliable data set.”
More than 93% of warming goes into the oceans.
Less than 3% goes into the atmosphere.
What would you rather have, a smaller error in a 3% share or a larger error in a 93% share?
“I’m not saying Monkton knows what he is talking about– just that his position would fit ‘endorsement 3′ in the survey and therefore his papers might be seen as in agreement with the ‘consensus’ that the survey found.”
I wasn’t aware that Monckton has written papers on climate change!
Anyway, here are some Monckton quotes that might convince you otherwise…
“Since late 2001 there has been virtually no “global warming” at all”
“the rate of increase in sea level has not changed since satellites first began measuring it reliably in 1993″
“there has been no net accumulation of “missing energy” in the form of heat in the oceans”
The quotes from Monkton are mostly correct.
There hasn’t been measured warming (HADCRUT) since ’97 or ’98.
The sea level rise has been steady a 3mm (note the 2mm was an error), for as long as the records have been around.
And that leaves the question of the ‘missing heat’ being in the oceans. I’m not sure why he says that– I don’t think the data is complete enough to know one way or the other.
Look, I think the earth has warmed over the last century– I’m pretty sure adding CO2 will have a heating effect– I’m not sure how much and what one would do about it.
What I am concerned about is that you have the idea that there is a ‘consensus’ that is a tautology written as a call to action. It seems the ‘true believers’ (and I’m counting you as one) are certain of things that make no sense.
Have you reconsidered what the ‘consensus’ might actually be?
the earth is a closed system. We know that there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere. Samples of the ice caps seem to indicate it’s related to humans burning fossil fuels. I don’t know that we’re sure how this will play out, but since the only species on earth to which we’re vulnerable is ourselves (except maybe disease agents), it would seem to make sense that defiling the water, earth and skies could likely do us in. Overpopulation, deforestation, birds eating the plastic island that floats in the Pacific.
“Twenty tons of plastic debris washes up on Midway every year with five tons of that debris being fed to Albatross chicks.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch
is all this sustainable? We have been taking steps here and there. Who knows – maybe that’s making a difference.
is all this sustainable? We have been taking steps here and there. Who knows – maybe that’s making a difference.
Nothing is sustainable forever, sooner or later every star dies. Sustainability in the context of humans living on earth and using finite resources simply means “going on for as long as possible”.
Knowing the human race will disappear sooner or later (unless we develop faster-than-light travel we are locked in our solar system), is it better to have more generations with fewer individuals than to have more individuals alive in this generation? Are hypothetical future humans worth more than currently living humans?
The quotes from Monckton indicate that he thinks there is no warming, therefore he does not agree with the consensus by climate scientists that there is warming.
Hadcrut measures surface temperature. But 93% of warming goes into the oceans. Therefore, even if it is true that surface temperatures are not rising, that does not mean there is no warming.
He accepts that sea levels are rising, but he won’t accept the logical conclusion which is that there must therefore be warming. The oceans are warming due to AGW and, of course, the atmosphere is also warming due to AGW. It’s just that the warming of the atmosphere due to AGW is being obscured by factors such as the solar cycle and ENSO.
” I’m pretty sure adding CO2 will have a heating effect– I’m not sure how much and what one would do about it”
Neither do I. Which is why I rely on the expertise and consensus of climate scientists. Not on individuals such as Monckton or Watts.
well, since you asked, it’s better to have more generations with fewer individuals. But of course, that would mean you’d have to start recycling.
Interesting – you value yourself less than a hypothetical human of the future. I guess this is because we’re reproducers, and utlimately, our sole raison d’être is to ensure there are future generations (with our genes, preferably).
Purely rationally, knowing there will be a finite amount of humans, does it matter if they all live at once, or spread out over the centuries? Of course, you can argue there could be more humans in total if we go on for millions of years, but that’s a huge gamble (taking into consideration the risks of megavolcano eruptions, doomsday meteorites, ice ages, etc). Hence getting as many humans to live today is the more rational strategy. Provided, of course, that having as many humans as possible is a worthy cause. But is having humans around for as long as possible a worthier cause, and if so, why?
Bill, seems like you want to make this a philosophical discussion. You asked me my opinion and I gave it. Only a human can form an opinion on the condition of his own species. How do you deduce that because I would like to see us control our population and reduce water contamination that I somehow value myself less than a future human? I don’t have any kids and I never will, so this isn’t some genetic drive to preserve my genes. The world population has more than doubled in my lifetime. We’re causing suffering and environmental degradation now, so it doesn’t even have to be about the future. My philosophy is simple: don’t crap where you eat.
My philosophy is simple: don’t crap where you eat.
Nice to know you’re not a cow .
The easy bit first: it is not because you have no children, and will never have any, that the processes in your head are less determined by the fact that they evolved to be as successful as possible in the reproduction stakes. If you feel that the future generations are important, it is because we are all motivated to produce offspring, and see them thrive. Whether we succeed is neither here nor there (if we fail, our particular combination of genes wasn’t a success, evolutionary speaking).
We change the world, but so do all living things (where do you think the oxygen came from?). Calling it “degradation” implies that the previous situation was better, but there is no rational justification for that assumption — it was simply what we accepted as the way things are when we were children. For its inhabitants, Brave New World would be as normal as our world is for us; it was shocking for the people of 1932 because they would not be able to live in it. That doesn’t mean we should pollute ourselves out of existence, of course, but there is nothing magic about yesterday.
Suffering has always been part of life, because brains use pain to avoid dangerous situations. All predators cause pain and suffering, but humans are the only predators that have worked to reduce suffering in their prey. As far as other humans are concerned, it is true that far too many live very difficult lives, but on the other hand, never have so many humans had it so good, been so healthy, and lived so long. This is valuable even if we haven’t managed yet to ensure all humans have the same opportunities.
And if I had to choose between improving the lot of currently living people, and reducing the standard of living of everyone (because to escape subsistence farming, farmers need rich customers) through half-baked measures based on less than perfect models and lots of zealotry, I know what I would choose.
i don’t necessarily feel that future generations are important. I just think it’s disgusting that albatross chicks on Midland Island are being fed plastic lighters by their parents. You might say it’s not a rational reaction, but it’s a normal reaction. We’ve also got human kids picking though garbage for recycling. I guess maybe you think that’s just the course of human events because “suffering has always been a part of life”.
Why do you believe that the choice is between improving the lot of currently living people and reducing the standard of living of everyone? I guess you believe in the zero-sum game. And since you’re on the plus side, you don’t want things to change because you’re afraid you’ll lose something.
Don’t be afraid. It doesn’t work that way.
Moenie worrie nie, ek het ‘n renostervel, as they say where I come from.
Was it disgusting when a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs?
Humans are part of nature, not some kind of god-like special case. If we grow too big for our boots, we will go the way of the dodo, and sooner rather than later. But before that happens, we might be wiped out by a meteorite as well. And life will (in all likelihood) go on.
Yes, a child digging through a garbage heap is sad if you compare it with a child playing with a Barbie doll. It is marvelous if you compare it with a child being ripped apart by a pack of hyenas. We have a billion of hungry people on this planet — but we also have three billion living in quite agreeable conditions. Would the world be a better place if all seven billion of us were going hungry? If one cannot be happy unless perfection is reached, one will never be happy.
A lot of the policies to combat the effects of climate change will only result in all of us becoming poorer, and fewer resources being available to help those in need (and incidentally, also fewer resources to get rid of Garbage Island).
You seem absolutely sure that efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses will make things worse for everyone.How did you come to that conclusion?
Have you considered that those same efforts might actually have benefits beyond their intended consequences,such as driving innovation and technology,creating new business and employment opportunities,empowering impoverish communities to provide their own energy rather than relying on unreliable centralized entities to sell it to them at high prices,fewer pollutants such as mercury,NOx and SO2,more global energy security when fossil fuel rich OPEC nations are reduce to just another competitor in the energy market rather than the driver of the market (and global politics)?
I could go on and on,but you should get my point by now. You have opted to buy into the false dichotomy of the AGW debate that, as Mlema said above, amounts to a zero sum outcome.
I believe that that is not only short sighted,but reckless,in light of the history of people underestimating the abilities of our species to not only adapt,but to solve our problems with reason and determination.
But there is a big caveat looming: If our leaders and general populace fail to heed the ample warning signs that reason and science are waving in front of our eyes,then that road to adaptation may well be very rough indeed for those who are not yet able to have a say.
You may feel sanguine about shrugging your shoulders and saying “Well too bad for them,that’s just the way it goes”,but I think you will find yourself in the extreme minority.
“You seem absolutely sure that efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses will make things worse for everyone.How did you come to that conclusion?”
I’m not too sure about this, but I think effectively combating anthropogenic global warming would cause a major global disruption in productivity. We might be able to do it in the future without such ramifications, but with current conditions, the only way to cut AGW is to cut productivity. This isn’t good for any one(I’m not sure about this though).
The Pacific Garbage Patch is the physical manifestation of where consumerism ends– a swirling vortex of plastic garbage. I find it almost as beautiful as it is horrifying.
I could take you around where I live and show you a great deal of destruction that has occurred just over the last few years- turning beautiful places into trash bins.
Have you ever been to Honolulu? Why would anyone do that to paradise?
I think humans need to learn a number of things– how to farm without degrading the soil, how to live without filling up the Pacific Garbage Patch, how to produce without turning the air into what we see in China (and I do mean see).
The list goes on.
My concern is this– there are so many obvious things– things that anyone can see, like the garbage patch– and yet there is a great deal of effort put into something that is less obvious and might not even be real. Heck, I’m not sure a higher CO2 won’t be good– I know the plants will love it and perhaps this is the way to ‘green’ the planet.
So many obvious things we could be doing and we are putting our chips on something not obvious that requires the greatest government interventions into people’s lives and such- and even if all the programs are needed and work– they don’t stop the messing things up that we do– not even close.
I’m very concerned that people like BJ7 think the ‘scientific consensus’ is a tautology written as a call to action.
It reeks of the communist methods of using science.
You say you listen to what the scientists say.
Good, me too.
What do you think the ‘consensus’ is? Do you still think that “we must reduce our use of lettuce to mitigate the results of our use of lettuce” is a ‘scientific consensus’? (Oh, I mean CO2, not lettuce).
See, it’s a tautology that you gave me.
Is that what you think the ‘consensus’ is still?
“if I had to choose between improving the lot of currently living people, and reducing the standard of living of everyone…through half-baked measures based on less than perfect models and lots of zealotry, I know what I would choose”
If I had to choose between the consensus of the thousands of climate scientists around the world who live and breathe climate science and whose consensus is based on data produced over many decades in many areas of interest, or the opinions of radio shock jocks and individuals such as Monckton and Watt, I know who I would choose.
“I find it almost as beautiful as it is horrifying.”
I find it only horrifying. Nothing beautiful about animals being maimed or poisoned and dying slowly and painfully because of it. Plus, we’re eating plastic polymers now because of their ingestion by sea life that we eat – many for their main source of protein.
“I’m not sure a higher CO2 won’t be good– I know the plants will love it and perhaps this is the way to ‘green’ the planet.”
I’ve only seen this put forth as a positive possibility in the context of PR from the oil, gas and coal companies. It’s too simplistic. There’s research showing that forests will increase their uptake – and that may even be helping to mitigate the current conditions – but this is limited and doesn’t ultimately increase carbon sequestration. Also, the research isn’t capable of simulating all variables. What we’re seeing in the real world is: rapid migration of species to higher elevations and latitudes, die off to disease and insects once controlled by cooler temperatures, and drought. The “fertilization effect” you’re talking about doesn’t play out too long, according to what I’ve read.
“Many people believe that the amount of carbon sequestered by forests will increase as CO2 concentrations rise. However, an increasing body of research suggests that the fertilization effect is limited by nutrients and air pollution, in addition to the well documented limitations posed by temperature and precipitation.”
I admit something totally unforeseen could happen, but i don’t see scientists putting forth those possibilities.
“So many obvious things we could be doing and we are putting our chips on something not obvious that requires the greatest government interventions into people’s lives and such- and even if all the programs are needed and work– they don’t stop the messing things up that we do– not even close.”
I’m not sure what sort of interventions you’re referring too. Germany’s had good success with transitioning to alternative energy sources. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Germany
what are the “greatest government interventions into people’s lives and such-” that you’re talking about? Also, why would such interventions prevent us from trying to “stop the messing things up that we do”? And what are the obvious things? Are we doing those? We all have to do our part, but, for instance, i dont know any real people who like fracking, and only coordinated political action on the part of citizens can make any effect. Maybe you’re saying we need fracking in order to grow lettuce? Anyway, maybe you can expand on what you are suggesting would be good and bad ways to try to deal with increasing CO2, rising sea levels and overpopulation.
To me, phenomenon like the Pacific garbage island are illustrative of the fact that at this point in history we have to sort of grow up and take responsibility for keeping our home clean because Mama Nature’s had enough. I suppose there’s a part of me that’s biased to the condition of the current world, like icy cold domains to the north, polar bears, etc. Every generation seems to adjust to a higher density of population, and less clean natural resources. I don’t like the fact that every time i go somewhere to try to get away from it all, I just find more of it. But I am a curmudgeon.
The consensus on CO2 reduction is that what we are doing now is too litlle, too late. There is some innovation in the photovoltaic and wind energy sectors, and we are building more efficient electrical equipment. But the current drive towards implementing solar and wind energy (that in their current state will never produce enough energy) sucks up a lot of resources that could be better invested in, for example, creating safer nuclear reactors (or getting rid of Garbage Island, for that matter).
I am trying to highlight the positive aspects. In my opinion, far too many people look at what is going wrong (like hunger, strife, pollution etc.) and feel (and try and convince others) we are living in the worst of times (or at least, worse than when they were young). In fact, there is a lot of evidence we are living in the best times humanity has ever known. This should not stop us from acknowledging what goes wrong, but pessimism is not a good motivator and certainly not a good counsellor.
I am also questioning the assumptions that sustainability is per defintion a Good Thing(TM) by (rather starkly) contrasting people living today with hypothetical people living tomorrow. What is the value of keeping humanity going for as long as possible? What is the value of having as many humans alive as possible? Is it better not to be born, than to live in a slum for 45 years? Given the fact we are an accident, what makes life worthwhile (kindness and knowledge, if you ask me); and knowing our capacity for being deeply unhappy amidst riches, why even bother improving the lot of the poor?
With six children and as many grandchildren, I am heavily invested in the future, and I want that future to be a good as possible. I have no problem with the current AGW consensus — it’s the best we can do with the data we have (but alas, the data is not very good). I do have a problem with the forecasts, and I have a problem with the mindset that somehow, we need to return to idyllic times of the past (this is how I perceive the current crop of solutions – but that could well be caused by my reality distortion goggles ). The world tomorrow will be different, and we need to tackle its problems and challenges using the best possible science.
Safer nuclear is best characterised as doing a lot too late. Too much lead time. Hence the need for other more immediate solutions in the mean time. And I don’t think anyone is saying that we live in the worst of times, just that things are likely to get worse unless action is taken soon and that, the longer we wait to act the more it will cost, and that there may come a time when it will be too late to do anything. We have roughly a degree of warming now, but another one or two degrees is already unavoidable because of lag time. It is built into the system and cannot be reversed.
I agree that birth control must be a high priority. It’s the elephant the room being ignored because of religious sensitivities.
But how can you say that the data on climate change are not very good. Why does nearly every piece of information about climate change from all the sub specialities of climate change virtually all agree that there is warming and that it is likely to be significant enough for us to need to something about it. Why has the consensus, based on the accumulating evidence, consolidated from the first report in 1990 to the forth report in 2007.
We need to stop listening to radio shock jocks and self styled experts with vested and conflicted interests.
You don’t trust the models. Yes, there is uncertainty, but that’s science. But the models are generated using equations that represent physical laws, and they are becoming more and more complex, taking more and more factors into account, and they seem to largely agree across the sub specialities. They make a range of predictions from “no appreciable long term effect” to “catastrophic long term effects”. Both of these extremes are unlikely. But the problem is that if you outright dismiss the predictions these models make, you are effectively choosing the unlikely “no appreciable long term effect” scenario.
I know the data isn’t very good because my area of expertise happens to be historical data collection. I also know it’s the best we can do, hence I have no quibbles with the results. I am wary of how climate science has been co-opted in the political establishment, because I know how political expediency affects the best statistics and forecasts (think growth and inflation figures for obvious examples). But I am a realist, and know there is a lot more to politics than the search for sound decision making.
Birth control is a two-edged sword (ask the Chinese and the Germans). The best (and kindest) to limit births way we have discovered is to give people access to plenty of material possessions – once they accept the need for them, it creates an artificial shortage that postpones the urge to procreate. Unfortunately, that approach needs a lot of resources… BTW, what is best for humanity – 2 kids and a wasteful lifestyle, 6 kids and a frugal lifestyle, or kill yourself and leave the space to the cockroaches?
The real problem is that we cannot do anything acceptable that would reverse the warming process (and so hopefully return us to the good old times). A rather small downturn in the economy has brought the EU dangerously close to implosion; think what getting rid of most of the car industry would do. This doesn’t mean we will always need cars, but that any abrupt and significant change will cause major problems (look at Greece for another example). We need time to effect gradual change, but if we believe the current models, we have no time at all.
So (in my opinion, if this wasn’t obvious) the best we can do is to accept there will be change, and anticipate and accompany that change as well as possible — meaning having the resources and the social stability to ensure the best possible outcome.
“Hopefully those political decisions will be based on that scientific consensus on climate change – which is that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions in order to prevent the consequences of global warming to the extent predicted – ….”
Obviously we must “reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent the consequences of global warming to the extent predicted”
“We must reduce the use of lettuce in order to prevent the consequences of global warming to the extent predicted from our use of lettuce…”
See, it works for anything you put in it– CO2, lettuce, cow farts… whatever.
Your wording of the ‘consensus’ is not the question asked on the survey, it has nothing whatsoever to do with any of the answers in the survey, it is not supported in anyway whatsoever by the results of the survey, it isn’t in any IPCC document I can find…
Would you please restate what you think the scientific consensus is regarding AGW?
I think I agree with you about the conditions we people are creating.
However, there is a certain beauty in something as poetic as the actual physical manifestation of the consumerist society (Pacific garbage patch) — perhaps my sense of irony is overwhelming my otherwise impeccable taste.
There are plenty of other references — but let’s start there–
If the paleo-climate stuff is accurate, then earth has been much warmer and had much higher concentrations of CO2 in the past than it does now.
Life goes on.
“Live free or die” makes more sense to me than does “Do whatever the experts tell you”. That’s a philosophical thing.
At the same time– I’m frustrated that the people I live around think the solutions lie in the hands of others.
Where I live people put huge air conditioning units on the house after cutting down the trees that shaded the house.
And then they bitch about the power bills.
And these are the people who tell me I’m a denier and a horrible person because I don’t think the government should jail them for their abuse of the planet.
Again– perhaps my sense of irony is greater than my otherwise impeccible good taste.
Or perhaps I’m just being a curmudgeon.
If the people at 350.org are right– perhaps a bit of champagne as the ship sinks isn’t such a bad idea after all.
But I don’t think the people at 350.org are correct. The planet has historically had much greater CO2 concentrations than that and here we are…
I don’t think reduction of fossil fuel use has to lead to a worse life.
Quite the opposite.
It seems to me that is one of the many false dilemmas this subject seems to bring forth.
Maybe it’s just me, but I still can’t make sense of what you’re saying.
Where is the evidence that reducing use of lettuce can help prevent global warming?
I don’t get it!
What on earth are you trying to say?
Maybe someone else can help me here because you’ve failed four times now.
And,hey, we have obviously moved beyond that survey. Remember? After all you started it!
And do I really have to restate again what the consensus about AGW is?
If you look at the survey what they found is that 97% of the papers were of endorsement level 2 or 3. None where level 1.
From this I take it that the consensus that was found in this survey was:
3) Implicit Endorsement: paper implies humans are causing global warming. E.g., research assumes greenhouse gases cause warming without explicitly stating humans are the cause.
That is to say the consensus is “human activity that increases in greenhouse gas concentrations has the effect of warming the planet.”
Which is what everyone who knows about the physics experiments understands.
But that is all. They couldn’t find papers that even explicitly stated that humans are the main cause of recent warming. (Endorsement level 1).
And there is nothing in this about any consequence or need for mitigation or anything else.
Those are the political aspects of the situation.
Did I mention this has been corrupted by politics.
For future reference…
You know it is political when the demand for government actions are involved.
your list is rather partisan.
I believe it was James Hansen and Al Gore that have had the most to do with making it a political thing, but there is no doubt– once it gets political people from all of the political spectrum get involved.
“They couldn’t find papers that even explicitly stated that humans are the main cause of recent warming”
You are concerned that support for AGW was implicit rather than explicit.
If AGW was stil controversial, climatologists would be more likely to state explicitly whether or not they Support AGW. But, if AGW is taken for granted by climatologists – if they feel that is has long been proven beyond any reasonable doubt – they will no longer feel the need to say so explicitly.
If you tell me what you are going to do tomorrow, you don’t say “if the sun rises tomorrow, I’m going to do X”, you assume that will be the case.
In other words, implying something is usually stronger than explicitly stating it.
“Which is what everyone who knows about the physics experiments understands”
And yet both Monckton and Watts are implicitly in denial of this by claiming that there has been no warming since 1998.
“And there is nothing in this about any consequence or need for mitigation or anything else”
As I said, you have subsequently moved us beyond discussion of the results of the paper that is the topic of Steven Novella’s post. And I have reluctantly followed you there. I say ‘reluctantly’ because I know that these discussions tend to be endless affairs where everyone seems to be able to drag in endless references that actually or apparently support their point of view. The bottom line for me is: do I trust the radio shock jocks and those individual self-styled experts who you have referenced, or do I trust the consensus of experts who live and breathe climatology.
I have skimmed that article.
It is full of the strawmen, misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and lies that characterise all denialist literature.
Give me one good reason why I should trust this individual’s opinion instead of the consensus by climatologists?
But my reply will have to wait, because its 4am here (long story).
Sonic- Your claim was that climate science has been ‘corrupted’ by politics,but Gore and Hansen were only trying to get politicians (and the public) to understand what the science was suggesting to the climate science community,so that there might be a lead time for action,all the while realizing that taking such action would be very,very challenging,and would need time for developing effective and realistic options,both politically (necessarily) and practically (economics,engineering,etc.)
On the other hand,the people that I listed (and many others) have consistently espoused unscientific and partisan positions which truly do “corrupt” the process of dealing with this thorny issue.That is not only obstructionist and cynical,it is likely dangerous.
Regarding your snipe at Ori, claiming a ‘false equivalence’ Not only is that ironic considering what you posted about Gore and Hansen vs the list that I provide, but really is fundamentally wrong.
I understood Ori’s point to be that it is trivially easy to debunk the ‘political corruption’ claim by simply pointing out that any state,country,or worldwide threat would likely stimulate governments (read politicians) into having to at least consider taking it seriously,and deciding on what response they might or should take. The added term of ‘corruption’ by you does not logically follow in the case of the massive amount of data and science (and consensus) by climate scientists.
“JC comment: Houston’s article hits the nail on the head re the policy implications of the pause for policy and for the consensus. This statement struck me in particular:
Indeed, if the consensus had been only that greenhouse gases have some warming effect, there would have been no obvious policy implications at all.
This statement reflects the folly of the ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach of climate change policy making, and danger of a manufactured consensus on climate change to the healthy evolution of climate science. We’ve lost decades in climate science by failing to pay adequate attention to natural climate variability. By failing to pay adequate attention to uncertainty and natural climate variability, the climate community is facing the following prospect:
If that consensus is now falling apart, as it seems it may be, that is, for good or ill, a very big deal.”
So the climate scientist had quite a different thing to say from you. Nothing about strawmen, misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and lies.
Perhaps you should take another look.
So what is this ‘consensus’? I gave my wording based on the survey.
The papers go back to 1991– How long has it been that nobody ever actually has to write a paper that endorses the ‘consensus’?
For over 22 years the consensus has been so strong and certain that nobody has to actually endorse it- or state it plainly.
Who told you that was the consensus? Was the person a politician? Was the person lobbying for government actions?
Were in the scientific literature did you find such a statement?
Would you please tell me what the consensus is and give me a link to support the claim?
And yes– that’s exactly what the post is about.
Oh– the HADCRUT data indicates ‘no warming’ since 1998.
This is well known- it is not ‘denial’ but rather ‘graph reading 101′.
There is some disagreement as to what this means or why it is that way or if the HADCRUT data even matters– (I doubt that would be argued if it showed warming)- but it is that way. No need to deny the graphs.
In 1988 Hansen made certain predictions based on climate models with certain assumptions. Scenario A, B, and C– you know those- right?
Turns out those predictions are wildly wrong.
I assert that if Hansen’s predictions had been correct, there would be reason for concern- but no reason for large expensive projects and such– more, “Let’s see how this goes” approach.
Does that matter at all?
CO2 will not ‘wipe-out’ life on earth. The CO2 levels have historically been much higher (assuming the paleo stuff is correct) and life has done very well.
If the ‘wiping out of all life’ isn’t different than ‘returning to conditions where it is known life thrived’ isn’t a false equivalent– I can’t image what it would be.
How would you characterize it?
Oh, did you think higher CO2 meant ‘end of life’?
Where on earth did you get that idea?
I’ll bet it wasn’t from a scientist– but rather it was from a politician– right?
Sonic- Hansen did make an error on the climate sensitivity (25 years ago…gee imagine that ) but his scenario ‘B’ correlated well with respect to CO2 output,and scenario ‘C’ is closer to empirical temperature observations. So now we know that true climate sensitivity is likely in the range of 2C to 4.5 C,which should not be a reason to celebrate,even at the lower end of the uncertainty range.
The “hasn’t warmed since 1998″ nonsense has been debunked by many sources (that I am sure that you are aware of),so I won’t even bother with that since it will devolve into a “he said,she said” link war. But I will leave you with this link that I think goes back to first principles,even though it is very familiar territory,I suggest that you watch it through,just to remind you that there really is a ‘signal’ through all of the ‘noise’ that you have bought into.
Oh,and in regards to the “false equivalence” debate,I suggest that you re-read what I wrote.
Hint- It is not about the comparison between two different scenarios,it is about the misuse of the term “corrupted by”.
Why should I trust Judith Curry as opposed to the bulk of climate scientists who disagree with her.
More importantly, what do you trust her as opposed to the bulk of climate scientists who disagree with her?
Firstly, She played a minor role in BEST as she herself admits:
“My contribution to these papers has been in the writing stage and suggesting analyses.
I have not had “hands on” the data”
Secondly, her analysis is contrary to that of the other climate scientists who worked on BEST.
Richard Muller, the leader of the team had this to say:
“We see no evidence of it [global warming] having slowed down”
This is how Judith Curry responded:
“This is hide the decline stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do.
Muller is hiding the decline.”
In fact, the statistical analysis of BEST shows that the trend is +0.36 per decade.
But here is Judith Curry’s miscalculation based on cherry picking and misinterpretation of the data…
Although the data stretched back to the year 1800, Judith Curry focussed on the data for a period of less that 10 years from Jan 2001 to the end of the record in May 2010. She also focused on the annualised data instead of ten year running averages. The annualised data gave undue weight to two monthly data points that were obvious outliers to anyone who looked with a critical eye. There was a 1.9 degree drop in April 2010 followed by a 2.1 degree rise in May 2010. That was totally contrary to any other temperature data available at the time. But the overall impression this gave was of a ten year trend downwards – unless you ignored the April data point, and only if you didn’t do a proper analysis of the data for that ten year period even including that April data point. As it turned out, instead of the usual >14,000 stations, only 47 stations contributed to that result and most were from stations around the Antarctic. The result had an uncertainty of 2.9 degrees compared with an average uncertainty of 0.1.
Do you see the enormity of the error here?
She used annualised data instead of ten year running averages.
She focused on less tha