It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Lions' Den

I have for some foolish reason been participating in a thread on Climate Audit. OK, I've basically hijacked the thread altogether. Starting with #28. Have a look, and if I post again there this month please shoot me.


Anonymous said...

Are the Climate Audit folks good about leaving posts and comments up & unadulterated?

Some of these guys aren't. So if you have any doubts, save a copy ASAP.

Dano said...

Sheesh. What were you thinking?



Anna said...

p.s. thank you Michael for going there.

David B. Benson said...

Won't need shooting.

Self-immolation, if you ask me.

Jon said...

It sounds as though you've already found out what most inevitably do- for all the claimed interest in "good science" what invariably happens is the threads devolve into three topics:

1. Endless complaints about data archival and accessibility with no actual solutions offered. An amusing if somewhat unfair comparison from a different field.
2. Denial that the site essentially functions as site for...erm, denial (the moderating policy has gotten marginally better since a few people took the time to call attention to the sheer amount of absurdist conspiracy laden dreck that was allowed, despite claims to the contrary by the site owner).
3. A weird psycho-drama between McIntyre/McKitrick and a host of bad/mean/doodie-headed scientists like Mann, Ammann, Thompson, et al. I can't tell how much of that is based on actual interaction, how much is imagined, and how much is pure spectacle for readers.

What would your goal be if you decided to go back in there and start with a blank slate?

PaulS said...

Over there, you said, "The process is less formal than you’d like. The documents you want probably never existed. Most established climatologists didn’t seek controversy in their career choice..."

Now here is what troubles me. We've got somebody like James Hansen famously promoting his 350ppm thing. To many observers, it looks like he wants to destroy the world economy. That calls for a tremendously high standard of proof.

In a society where you need to get permits and approvals merely to rearrange the construction of your garage, an assertion that "the process is less formal than you'd like" is many orders of magnitude short of what is called for to back up the kind of radical measures the Hansens of the world seem to call for - measures which will run into the trillions if not quadrillions over not too many years, both in money and in people's utterly wasted time (e.g. billions of people spending three hours every day commuting by bus in the future when ever more could have spent half an hour by car instead.)

For a small example, I certainly would not make any major or even minor personal decision based on the typical sloppy computer code written by graduate students - and Web programming techniques taught these days have made this issue infinitely worse. That's a professional judgment; in my last job, I saw far too much of the sort of disorganized unauditable and unreliable rubbish they often produce, and too much of utter lack of care for interpretation and for correction of dodgy results.

So how do I, as an outsider looking in, know even something as simple as whether the basic model codes behind the pronouncements of a Hansen are worth two cents? How do I know that the input data are worth two cents? They may all be nice well-meaning guys, but that's simply not good enough in view of the radicalness of the prescriptions.

Where are the certifications of the computer codes and other processes used to justify calls for radical rearrangements of society, certifications beyond even the level of medical-device qualification, certifications to the level commensurate with the trillions or quadrillions that will be cast to the winds and possibly utterly wasted in a world where billions still live in dire poverty, should said calls be heeded?

Michael Tobis said...

PaulS, I am not one of those who suggests that moving to a zero net emissions world would be without cost, but I think "destroy the economy" is a highly dubious and unsupported statement.

That said, your arguments make sense. Unfortunately they come rather late.

Here is the way I see it, basically.

You can trust science or not. There are multiple reasons to believe that there are huge risks associated with our current trajectory. These risks are confirmed by, essentially, all the worlds leading scientific bodies.

If you choose not to believe this consensus, then you can take on the expense of replicating the work or even improving upon it. Given the time frames involved this would have been much better to undertake a decade ago or more. The underlying information has not drastically changed since then.

The ideal would be a completely independent verification.

You would need to put scientifically adept people on the case who were essentially independent from the current climatological community and with whom you had some sort of established network of trust. Then you would need to expend comparable or greater resources on their efforts than go into existing work. (The dominant cost of the typically quoted amount, 2 billion, goes to obervation satellites. You'd have to decide whether to replicate those.

You would be looking at relatively modest expenditure on the order of a billion dollars. If you don't trust the instruments, much more, up to the cost of replicating much of NASA's unmanned research programs. The latter seems excessive; in any case it would enforce a delay in excess of a decade.

Then you have to decide whether to do this as a clean room implementation. Here there are problems either way.

If you don't expose the participants to the existing literature, there is no guarantee that they would catch up to the current state of knowledge, which emerged over seventy years. In any case few would agree to such conditions for a long time.

Since you can't close the literature, your participants' objectivity would be tainted by existing expectations. This latter case is perhaps the best you can do, in practice.

Consider this, though: the purpose of IPCC was to provide a sober review of the literature for the policy sector, and the result is that IPCC is perceived as every bit as tainted as the community it reviews. In the end, you would just get more climatologists. No matter where they started, once they were sufficiently educated their jaws would drop to the floor, one by one, and they'd cuss and basically see how idiotically we are behaving.

Perhaps more realistically, you can demand more formal record keeping and more effort at communication with the larger scientific community and the public. These tasks are difficult and hitherto unfunded. While I very much wish more could be expended on these things, again you are looking at a significant spin-up time.

Anything one could do to enhance credibility and checking will have time and expense associated. Since the arguments that serious implementation efforts must start by 2010 to avoid huge costs have been known for about 15 years it seems rather late. Accordingly, it is irrational not to begin putting the policies in place now. Maybe whatever improvements you might wish to fund might be happening in parallel.

These expenditures will remain tiny compared to the energy sector and should. If you want better qulaity of results, stop cutting funding and squeezing the work as punishment for getting the wrong results.

The model I use every day suffers badly from a cut that essentially fired the documentation and support team just as the code was finalized. I waste weeks guessing how to run this or that version. These are weeks I don't have to set up better software or build better tests.

Michael Tobis said...

McIntyre strongly dislikes this posting as a way of withdrawing from the fray. (see his comment 142)

I pointed out to him in email that the choice of the word "lion" was explicitly intended as a sort of respect and that I might have easily chosen some less savory beasts' lair in my analogy.

I hope that CA is not the Hotel CA. One wants to be able not only to check out but also to leave.

Anonymous said...

The problem, as I see it, is that in pursuing the path they have, the real climate scientists have lost credibility big time with the world population.

1. Making claims for consensus when it is very apparent that no such consensus exists.

2. Claiming high degrees of certainty about the AGW problems of CO2, yet such statements do not gel with other IPCC statements being made.

3. Unwillingness to provide disciplined reason/logic as to how a doubling of CO2 will lead to an increase in Global Mean Temperature of 3 deg C (plus or minus about 1 degree according to you). Most accept that a doubling of CO2 could result in GMT increasing by about 1 deg C, but the other 2 deg seem to depend on feedback assumptions fed into the models. There is controversy about the feedback assumptions.

4. Failing to adhere to accepted scientific practice of archiving data, transparency, disclosing code, encouraging replication.

5. Lowering yourselves to calling anybody who questions you "denialist".

Anybody coming to the discussion with an objective viewpoint, reviewing the content of the sites concerned about AGW, and those questioning the statements being made, can easily see that one side stoops to ad hominems etc much more than the other side.

It seems that the real climate scientists are digging themselves into a bigger and bigger hole. The very fact that they have chosen to approach the issues in the way that they have serves only to threaten their credibility more and more.

For the record, I am agnostic on AGW. I actually think that man is having a major impact on climate, but I happen to worry about land management practices that lead to dehydration of landscapes, pollution, clear felling of forests much more than I worry about CO2. I am concerned that the intensity of the one dimensional focus of the real climate scientists on CO2 is distracting attention to what are likely to be much more serious problems that need to be dealt with urgently.

Dano said...

If for some self-flagellating reason you must go back, focus on only two or three comments/commenters. You'll go crazy if you don't.

I think what did it for me was the supremely confident assertion (and ululating confirmation) that because someone plotted a curve from data on a subject they heard about for the first time 10 minutes ago - and the curve disagreed with me - the assertion I made was crazy.

When I offered to pay anyone on the site if they published this blockbuster news, I got the equivalent of chimps banging sticks on pots. I literally offered to pay any and all people to publish their findings, and if they were accepted for review (any and all), they'd get my money. No takers. Zero. Including a big name libertarian pol economist (who admittedly gets more money from Cato and Heritage than I was offering).

I'd say in that crowd some stop by occasionally with some real sense, but the regulars - drunk on confirmation bias. And other less savory emotion.



Anonymous said...

Michael: I am really astounded at how sophmoric your act is. Again would you like to indicate what global average SST data, level and time period, would require you to reassess your belief in a ~3C increase with a doubling of CO2, with lets say 1980 as the base year?

Michael Tobis said...

Anonymusses: please forgive me for not answering right away.

Others: People like these anonymous posters are real and sincere. It's crucial to understand this.

I'll note that one of these, following on McIntyre, they don't seem to understand the costs of responding to each challenge, noting only that their own is perfectly reasonable to them.

For the rest of us, the most important thing to understand is that the fact that there are rather cynical PR efforts that influence their beliefs is not visible to them. They end up thinking it is them we are calling "denialists", rather than the people who deliberately misrepresent the balance of evidence.

I am afraid that we have lost ground in the year that I have been blogging. On would hope that the PR forces would themselves break down as the evidence builds up. Very few in the energy industry want the current indecision to persist.

It's very Frankensteinian. They have created a monster, sincere and well-intentioned but hideous and dangerous, and it won't be easy to restrain it.

It's quite likely that the disruptive PR talents will be decisive long enough to put the world into a very bad condition.

The "We Campaign" is tragically amateurish by comparison. I actively dislike reading their silly emails. They seem totally unequal to the task of taking on all the misinformation about.

It's necessary for someone to engage the more malicious aspects of the competition directly.

Michael Tobis said...

Re: the falsification question, it occurs to me that my best answer is actually linked at right from the "Best Of In It".

Here it is.

Hank Roberts said...

> People like these anonymous
> posters are real and sincere.
> It's crucial to understand this.
> ... they don't seem to understand > the costs of responding to each
> challenge, noting only that their
> own is perfectly reasonable to
> them....
> ...thinking it is them we
> are calling "denialists", rather
> than the people who deliberately
> misrepresent the balance of
> evidence.

Thank you Michael. Really well said and caring, showing your patience. You're a good teacher.

bi -- IJI said...

Michael Tobis:

Yes, Anon 8:18pm and 8:33pm are in all likelihood real and sincere, but even then they're too far down the path of crankitude to be able to turn them around. When someone starts out by shooting talking points and insulting people (and then accusing us of the same!), t's a sign that we lost them.

They're "sincere", in the sense that they "sincerely" believe that all the world's scientists, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, etc. are engaged in a vast, covert, and nefarious conspiracy to Destroy America And The Free World, and that global warming is part of this huge diabolical plot.

"the most important thing to understand is that the fact that there are rather cynical PR efforts that influence their beliefs is not visible to them."

I talked about the bogus "Heartland 500" list elsewhere once, hoping that this would bring some people around. Guess what, the (knee-jerk) response was that The Alarmists Are Just As Bad And Global Warming Is Still A Scam. Truly, against such stupidity the gods contend in vain.

I think (part of) what we're facing is an entire subculture centred around the idea that "America" is under attack by hidden powers working to destroy all that's good and great from within. Joseph McCarthy may not be here anymore, but his paranoid mindset still lives on. And even if a Lieberman-Warner Bill gets passed, I've no doubt that this subculture will continue to persist for quite a long time.

-- bi, International Journal of Inactivism

Bryan said...

I put a paw in, to give you moral support if nothing else, but I've run away now ...

Anonymous said...

With all due respect your post does not answer the question on falsifiability at all. It amounts to either "I am not going to tell you" or "Nothing".

As for your claim that "rather cynical PR efforts that influence their beliefs is not visible to them. They end up thinking it is them we are calling "denialists", rather than the people who deliberately misrepresent the balance of evidence." I have no idea what specifically you are talking about. Do you honestly think that Steve McIntyre, for example, is being played by some unseen, all powerful wizard behind the curtain? That there are significant forces who have vested interests in the status quo with regards to fossil fuel use - is obvious. That those asking for more clarity around climate data are naive wrt to the former's efforts to sway public opinion is frankly insulting.

As for not understanding the costs of documenting and archiving data and code - I fully recognize those costs as I run a business which generates and uses large data-bases. Currently it amounts to 20% of my budget in terms of hours allocated to these "overhead" activities. It is also easy in the press of meeting production deadlines to skimp on doing it in a disciplined way -- but the costs of not doing it are a huge disincentive unless you want to practice "dump and run".

PaulS said...

"I am afraid that we have lost ground in the year that I have been blogging. On(e) would hope that the PR forces would themselves break down as the evidence builds up."

Naaah. If only wishes were gold coins. Listen to the two remaining presidential candidates. One of their mantras is to "get the price of gasoline (etc.) down for overstressed hard-working American families", by thumping on 'speculators', suing OPEC, or whatever else seems like it might fly rhetorically on a given afternoon. In the short to medium term that's contrary to emission reduction, because it simply takes a long time to change the infrastructure (which is how Hansen's latest pronouncements give the appearance of seeking to destroy the economy), so any quick and substantial emission reduction will necessarily require using the existing infrastructure less, at least for a time (e.g. Tim Haab's 'drive less' thing.)

Now, as long as the PR was over what could be regarded as a relatively abstract academic issue, one might perhaps have hoped for it to magically go away. But now, it promises to have serious impacts on real, ordinary voters, which automatically redefines it as a political (and politicized) issue. And a skim through any random couple of days of, say, the open thread (Drumbeat) on The Oil Drum, will show that as a political issue, it aligns well with the desires those who would like to be dictator of the world and cruelly mold it as they see fit (from Marxists to Simple-Life reversalists and far beyond.)

Under such circumstances, my advice, for what it's worth, would be to expect the PR war to intensify greatly, certainly not to diminish...

Michael Tobis said...

Frank: calm down and try again.

Michael Tobis said...

Bryan, well said, and thanks for "nugatory", which would be a great word if anyone understood it.

bi -- IJI said...

Michael Tobis:

Honestly, I don't see how I can calm down, when people respond to any evidence of PR shilling by oil-funded right-wing think-tanks with a knee-jerk "The Alarmists Are Just As Bad!"

Maybe I'll just point out again that this is what they're doing.

-- bi, International Journal of Inactivism

Hank Roberts said...

I tried last night, got spamtrapped.
Tried again today, tersely.

Anonymous said...

bi, International Journal of Inactivism

Which "PR shilling by oil-funded right-wing think-tanks" are you talking about?

Michael Tobis said...

Frank is something of an expert on the subject, Anon. I am sure he is working on a magnum opus as an answer. Meanwhile you can check his site at:

Anonymous said...

It sure is hard to get a straight answer from you guys.
I find Frank's website, well, a mite idiosyncratic - actually incoherent would be more precise.

Michael Tobis said...

If you find Frank's obscure, you should try Eli's site instead! We'll show you obscure!

Seriously, if you really have no idea what it is that Hansen is so worked up about, and Frank, and the rest of us, you should watch this presentation by Naomi Oreskes.

cynthia said...

Evidently peak oil deniers have affectionately been given the species name "Cornucopians." And from what I've read, "Cornucopians" can be broken down into three distinct subspecies: 1) abiotic oil enthusiasts, 2) true pollyannas, and 3) blinkered economists.

So I'm curious whether warmers have also been affectionate enough to christen AGW deniers with a species name, breaking them down into subspecies, too.

And if I don't get a response here, maybe I can talk Eli into doing a post on this. I'd really like to know how to differentiate between subspecies of deniers, especially before the the species at large goes extinct...

Anonymous said...

Naomi Oreskes's presentation is very good. Thank you for the link.
One test for an overwhelmingly persuasive presentation is to check on the number of rhetorical trick slipped in to set up the debate. I will simply cite two or three to explain why I was not persuaded:
First is the SDI debate when Naomi mentions two or three times how the three "bad" guys from the Marshall Institute set themselves up against 6500 signers of a petition. Not a bad trick, but a trick nevertheless.
Second, they made a mistake on tobacco so their position on CO2 must also be equally mistaken. Another neat trick, but still a trick.
Third, when scientists make predictions that turn out to be true 25 years down the road we should take notice. This is a really good one, largely because I wholeheartedly agree. Naomi dosplayed the polar amplification chart. The numbers seem to match or at least they did for the period under consideration - 2001 to 2005. However, does this prediction still hold using SST data? Anyone want to hazard a look see at the latest data?
Fourth and finally, and this is a real doozie, the Marshall Institute champions are all idealogues, disguising their political arguments as scientific arguments. Uuumm, guess nobody else does that?

My conclusion is that if this is what gets Frank and Hansen upset about, then they are pretty fragile types. As you know from your brief sojourn, none of this diminishes in any way the legitimate argument for scientific transparency, the archiving of data and the replication of scientific results.

Now I will have to work late to catch up.

Michael Tobis said...


Oreskes' talk was not intended to prove anything about climate. It was intended to elucidate the origins of the propaganda campaign.

The Western Fuels Association, the CO2Science site, the Heartland Institute, "We call it Life"... There's BS aplenty out there.

I don't know if the SDI split was as severe as Oreskes describes it, but the AGW split definitely is. The outlines of the theory were in place 15 years ago, and predictions were made 15 years ago which were verified, and people are still spewing up that cosmic ray... err.. stuff.

These lies, and that is what they are, may well go down as the most destructive in history.

"Other people do it too", as Frank points out (and y'all didn't see the message that I didn't let through) is no excuse whatsoever.

David B. Benson said...

For those stating "stupendous economic costs", I just point out that various reports suggest 1--2% of GWP suffices.

This redirection of funding is necessary anyway due to peak oil and, according to David Rutledge, peak coal to shortly follow.

Anonymous said...

I understand precisely what Naomi's talk was about and my response was that her talk was powerful but consciously or unconsciously contained a variety of rhetorical tricks that once recognized severely limit the persuasive power of her presentation.

I am not sure I understand your point about others doing "it" unless by it you mean lie. I haven't accused anyone of "lying" -using rhetorical tricks is something else.

Anonymous said...

What precisely classifies one as an AGW denier? What is the opposite of an AGW denier? Are there sub-species of the opposites of AGW-deniers?

Michael Tobis said...

Anonymous participants trying to hold a conversation would be better off signing their messages, at least with some sort of pseudonym, though a genuine google or openID login would be better. Thanks.

(Actually I prefer full names, for whatever that is worth. Dano, for instance. I'd look you up next time I was in Colorado, (which comes up more often than I'd like) if only I knew who the heck you are.

Hank Roberts said...

> Cornucopian

Cynthia, see
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change by William J. Catton, Jr.

"Cornucopian Paradigm: a view of past and future human progress that disregards the carrying capacity concept, pays no attention to the finiteness of the world or to differences between takeover and drawdown, and accepts uncritically the myth of limitlessness."

Quoted from:

See also:,denial.html

The Problem of Denial

by William R. Catton, Jr.
Professor Emeritus - Sociology Washington State University


Abundant evidence suggests industrial civilization must be "downsized" to curb damage to the ecosphere by the "technosphere." Trends behind this prospect include prodigious population growth, urbanization, cultural dependence upon ravenous use of fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources, consequent air pollution, and global climate change. Despite prolonged Cold War distraction and entrenched faith that technology could always enlarge carrying capacity, these trends were well publicized. But there remain eminent writers who persist in denying that human carrying capacity (Earth's maximum sustainable human load) has now been or ever will be exceeded. Denials of ecological limits resemble anosognosia (inability of stroke patients to recognize their paralysis). Some denial literature resembles their confabulations (elaborately unreal stories concocted as rationalizations). Denial by opponents of human ecology seems to be a way of coping with an insufferable contradiction between past convictions and present circumstances, a defense against intolerable anomalous information.

Steve Bloom said...

Interestingly that old tobacco mistake keeps getting made. Funny that.

David B. Benson said...

What precisely classifies one as an AGW denier?

Denying that the warming is due to the excess CO2 added to the atmosphere by human activities, or at least not much of it. Here is a list of typical

denier arguments

What is the opposite of an AGW denier?

A realist; one using the

scientific method

to ascertain how the universe, and everything in it, actually works.

bi -- IJI said...


"the Marshall Institute champions are all idealogues, disguising their political arguments as scientific arguments. Uuumm, guess nobody else does that?"

The Alarmists Are Just As Bad! The Alarmists Are Just As Bad! The Alarmists Are Just As Bad!

When faced with any evidence of bogus inactivist PR, just ward it off with the all-powerful mantra.

* * *

Michael Tobis:

"I am sure he is working on a magnum opus as an answer."

Hah, thanks. Well, "working on a magnum opus" was my original intention when I started working on the climate conspiracy theory genealogy, but after a while I decided to work on it in incremental updates, rather than try to come up with one final diagram in one shot.

Also, isn't there a way to disable anonymous comments?

-- bi, International Journal of Inactivism

Michael Tobis said...

Anonymous posting is off.

Moderation is also, temporarily, off. Do please try to be moderate. I will delete anything nasty or spammy next week.

cynthia said...

Anon 5:04 PM,

Deniers and warmers are two separate species with two separate sets of subspecies. I suppose interbreeding can takes place between these two species creating a new subspecies of deniers, but it's not likely, IMO.

gravityloss said...

The tobacco companies their bought scientists did not "make a mistake". They knew what tobacco did, and they lied about it.
Same with energy companies spreading lies about global warming.

They *know* they are lying.

It's a completely different thing, making a mistake and lying.

Then of course some people believe it straight.

A bigger portion think "well the truth must be somewhere middle between the alarmists and the sceptics".

This is actually the main aim of the propaganda, not to make people believe but to make them doubt the science.

It's very good return for the investment, propaganda is very cheap compared to the company's income. Stock owners rejoice as they get more money. And people too as they get cheap gas, coal and electricity.

It's a behaviour that the system clearly drives towards.

I hope I was clear. Ask for more clarifications.

bernie said...

There is a PR war and both sides are party to it. It is disingenuous to argue that one side's participation is somehow illegitimate, without applying the same standards.
Are you really calling for those of us who are skeptical about the magnitude of AGW, the appropriateness of particular remedies, and the subordinating of national sovereignity to international bodies should be to simply shut up and go away?

Zarquon said...

bernie chants the invincible mantra: The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad...

"skeptical about the magnitude of AGW"

When your `skepticism' is derived from your uncritical acceptance of inactivist PR talking points -- which (yeah I just remembered) you had chastised in a flash of even-handedness -- then what exactly is so `skeptical' about your `skepticism' again? Nothing, that's what.

Global warming `skepticism' is a religious movement, based around chanting mantras to ward off facts.

The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad...

-- bi, International Journal of Inactivism

Lumo said...

Congratulations, Michael, for having been visible at an important and real climate blog!

And please disregard the comments of your fellow alarmist crackpots who were not as lucky as you. ;-)

bernie said...

I do not believe I am chanting a mantra as much as trying to understand the logic of Frank's argument since it seems to suggest that anyone who disagrees with a strong AGW position is either a willing or unwilling victim of the evil guys at the Marshall Institute and similar groups. Since as a cynic and a skeptic I generally place little faith in statements coming from most large institutions, both public and private, without looking at the facts underpinning any assertions.

I still do not understand exactly what you want me to do, given that I disagree with what I have to assume is your position of strong AGW. As a layperson with a technical background in statistics, after having looked at numerous articles, followed scientific discussions, compiled and analyzed some data-sets, communicated directly with authors of various articles, and closely followed discussions at some of the more informed sites - what options do I have if my opinion differs from the proponents of strong AGW?

Dano said...

CA = Choir, Amen.


Michael: Eli has my contact info. We'll have a frosty beverage or two.



David B. Benson said...

bernie --- Then you haven't understood the physics. AGW is a consequence of physics, climate 'theorem' if you will.

Now that you are informed of its reality, there remains the policy questions of what, if anything, to do about it.

If we can...

bernie said...

Looks like you have a similar level of vested interests in this AGW debate as a fossil fuel executive?
I hasten to add that having a vested interest is neither good nor bad, per se. However, I have none except the fate of my tax dollars.

bernie said...

Are you saying that you do understand the physics?
To the best of my ability I have tried to understand the physics but I have only got as far as the basic concepts - however, the wide error variances in the predicitions of climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling suggests to my untutored mind that there is still a fair amount that needs to be understood.
Notwithstanding that and freely acknowledging my limits, I have pretty much remained focused on assessing the validity of the predictions of the physics and their implementation in climate models as reflected in various climate indicators.

But all this leaves open the question as to what you expect me to do?

Dano said...


I care not about your opinion on AGW or your seeking to check a box after you have rendered judgment on someone you don't know.

If you want to discuss mankind's adaptation to and mitigation of man-made climate change, great, because that is what the vast majority of society is doing.

If you don't want to discuss, I don't really care if you want to be left behind in the dead-ender pile.

I do care, however, if you want to contribute to the discussion of mankind's adaptation to and mitigation of man-made climate change - your reasoned contribution (for that is what decision-makers listen to, not ideological ululation) may narrow the direction society is already traveling in.

IOW, step outside of the Chorus, Amen fear paradigm and do something constructive - the domain of doers - instead of the typical Chorus, Amen destructive - the domain of people afraid to rise above their petty selves.

Can't do it? Go back to Chorus, Amen then and whine to your heart's content about the tinfoil shortage (caused by the green lobby, no doubt).



bernie said...

Your are perfectly correct that I don't know you, just as you don't know me. I always believe in the principle of what's good for the goose... Therefore, if you want to make what are in my opinion snarky comments, you should be willing to receive them. I am in nobody's Amen Corner, just as I assume you are not - otherwise further discussion would be pointless. This entire string started with Michael visiting CA and arguing that archiving data was (a) too much of a burden for practicing scientists and/or (b) so expensive that funding it would reduce the ability to do real research. Again in my opinion, based on running a business with lots of code and lots of data, these arguments are not convincing. Asking for well documented data and methods should not be controversial. Criticizing scientists of whatever disposition who do not follow these simple principles should be equally non-controversial. Don't you agree?

Subsequently I was intrigued by Frank's and apparently now your interest in understanding the psychology of those who do not agree with your position - a topic that is indeed intriguing both generally and specifically. To then decide, as Frank seems to have done that dissenters are tools of the fossil fuel barons, ideologically driven "hacks", or the easily led, seems to me to be a bit of an over-simplification and subject to the "what's good for the goose..." analysis.


David B. Benson said...

bernie --- Yes, I think I do understand the physics, althugh learning it has certainly not been easy. (I'm still a bit hazy on the atmospheric physics part.)

It happens that I understand the equilibrium climate sensitivity better than most of climatology. Suppose the equilibrium climate sensitivity (as usually stated, to a doubling of CO2) is S. Then about 0.6S happens right away (a few years) and the rest requires centuries.

As for bounding S, in the second paragraph of

Climate Sensitivity

there are links to two important (IMO) papers and also a discussion paper. Those provide a place to understand why narrower bounds on S are unlikely to be found soon.

Marion Delgado said...


Go with your instincts.

The only problem with you going off to Troll-land with a sack full of gruff goat-bread is that you appear to have left a trail of crumbs leading back home.

bernie said...

Thanks for the references. I had actually already looked at the Annan and Hargreaves article. But I had not seen the Gregory article before.
I have some questions about the Annan article - especialy the initial baseline model which presumes the lower bound is 1.5 and this is largely unexplored and not explained. More significant is the relatively large uncertainty attached to the observational measures which Annan and Hargreaves note throughout the third section of their paper.
This same uncertainty of the observational record is also noted in Gregory - but I really need to look at this one more carefully.
One thing I would note though is that the number of observational based studies of sensitivity looks surprisingly slim given the significance of this one construct. If you have other references I would be very interested in looking at them.

As you noted narrowing the estimate of sensitivity looks to be very difficult given the state of the observational record. You may be interested in the recent NRC report on Radiative Forcings of Climate Change - The Committee outlines a fairly substantial research program noting:
"Despite all these advantages, the traditional global mean TOA radiative
forcing concept has some important limitations, which have come increasingly
to light over the past decade. The concept is inadequate for some
forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may
have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from
TOA radiative forcing. Also, it diagnoses only one measure of climate
change—global mean surface temperature response—while offering little
information on regional climate change or precipitation."
I have only read the Executive Summary.
IMO this reinforces the issue you raised around narrowing the sensitivities to a doubling of CO2, since it maps out the potential positive and negative feeback loops that need to be considered.

bernie said...

If Michael asks me to leave, I will simply leave. Otherwise ...

David B. Benson said...

bernie --- On James Annan's blog

down several posts is some comment about, and link to, another Annan/Hargreaves paper that is not oing to be published, it seems. The commentary and the preprint itself are both worth your time.

I'll point out, that to make matters worse, it is not clear that this climate sensitivity can be viewed as constant thoughout an ice age cycle.

Oh ugh...

Dano said...

Point well-delivered, Bernie, rare enough these days and even rarer from the Chorus, Amen crowd. Your ticket on the societal discussion ship, which has sailed, awaits.



bernie said...

Let's just make sure our foils are well-tipped.

David B. Benson said...

Here is a (short) workshop report on climate senstivity:

David B. Benson said...

Chopped! Ending is