A picture is worth a thousand words

Bob Carter has managed to get a whole bunch of people to sign a letter touting his warming ended in in 1998 claim. Here’s what they signed:

there has been no net global warming since 1998. That the current temperature plateau follows a late 20th-century period of warming is consistent with the continuation today of natural multi-decadal or millennial climate cycling.

I bet that they didn’t include a graph of global temperatures:

i-e41085efda34ceb0dcd669b1a667d11d-gat2005.png

You know, even the CEI admits that this “warming ended in 1998″ claim is disingenuous, but look at all the people who signed Carter’s disingenuous letter.

And look who Nexus 6 spotted in the list: Edward Wegman. Yes, the man touted as an independent judge of McIntyre and McKitrick arguments against the hockey stick turns out to be a global warming denier.

Comments

  1. #1 Jc
    December 18, 2007

    Sorry, Tim. Mean that.

  2. #2 Robin Levett
    December 18, 2007

    @Kevin (#183):

    Going after the low hanging fruit? Now answer the fact that (as shown in my comment #151) Trenberth himself says that your version of what he says is a distortion, and endorses my (and Trrll’s) version.

  3. #3 Boris
    December 18, 2007

    I think he is making an observation not related to his unequivocal claim that:

    “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been,”

    which coupled with the first paragraph of the essay

    Kevin, until you understand the difference between a prediction and a projection or scenario you are doomed to misunderstand Trenbeerth. Models do not have to be initialized to give reliable estimates of climate sensitivity.

  4. #4 z
    December 18, 2007

    “difference between a prediction and a projection”

    If I may, it’s like the difference between the study of a particular product of a process, and the study of the process itself. For instance, one may not be able to predict very accurately the reliability of the Arfgang brand automobile when it reaches fifteen years old. However the effect on the reliability of the automobile of using an inferior grade of steel may be quite predictable, and the effect on its reliability fifteen years on also predictable, still without being able to give a quantitative prediction of the precise reliability of a particular car fifteen years later, or even the average reliability then.

  5. #5 Robin Levett
    December 18, 2007

    @Lance (#):

    Do you suppose that the oil will run out in one last gush followed by a dripping sound?

    To quote what someone (I can’t quite recall the name) said earlier in this thread: “Please don’t put words in my mouth.”

    Take a look at even the most pessimistic peak oil charts. They are all Gaussian, you know the old bell curve? That means a gradual diminishing supply.

    Tell me something I don’t already demonstrably know.

    You might have noticed that accept for Japanese uh, “scientific” expeditions you don’t see many ships plying the world’s oceans in search of whale oil. Did I miss the great “peak whale oil” economic melt-down in my history classes or did some proto-UN commission save the Victorian day?

    I don’t think you did – but come over here and address your arguments to me, rather than that convenient strawman in the corner. My point is, I thought, a very simple one. We rely to a very large – unprecedented – extent, for our energy needs generally, upon a single commodity, oil. Even Victorian dependence upon whale oil for…well, whatever they were totally reliant upon it for…didn’t match that reliance.

    Our reliance upon oil is almost total in the transportation sector. Conversion to anything else will require a massive replacement of infrastructure, which will take years and a huge industrial effort.

    While supply can match demand, the price will drift upwards. The cost of entry into the market on a market-wide scale for replacement fuels will remain prohibitive. The main candidates are in any event less efficient than oil – liquefaction of coal or extraction from tar sands because of the energy investment in producing the fuel, biofuel because it simply doesn’t have the same bang either for the buck or for the pound – which means that the point at which the market switches will be delayed still further.

    It will be when supply ceases to match demand that the price signal will turn unequivocally green for the alternatives. But waiting to convert until that point – when shortages bite and the price skyrockets (that is, let the free market deal with the problem) will mean that the transportation sector is simultaneously fighting cost increases, fuel shortages, and unprecedented demand.

    If this is not what you meant by letting the free market solve the problem, pray tell me what you did have in mind?

  6. #6 Lee
    December 18, 2007

    I watch the weather on the news and subscribe to one of the online weather services. I am not a scientist. I know these things, though. 1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future. 2.) In the 1970′s most of the liberals and climatologists were warning the world of an impending ice age. 3.) Technology has improved trewmendously since the 70′s. 4.) The forecasts have not improved anywhere close to the extent that technology has. I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming. I’m supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future. Our local meteorologist received an email, from a listener, on Sunday, Dec. 16, asking what the weather would be like on Christmas day. The meteorologist replied, “I can’t do that, It would be a crap shoot.” This I believe.

  7. #7 trrll
    December 18, 2007

    Kevin, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that what appear to me to be deceptive arguments represent self-deception rather than deceptive intent.

    That’s currently true and cogent, but not what he said. As is clear from the first two paragraphs of his essay, he is denying the prediction of future climate completely.

    Beware of cherry picking a couple of paragraphs that sound vaguely like they support your position. This is denialist thinking. He is drawing a clear distinction between prediction, which is saying something like, “The temperature is going to increase by 2C over the next decade,” and projection based on emissions scenarios, which is saying something like “If CO2 emissions continue to increase at the current rate, the temperature is going to increase by 2C.” Projection requires only physics; prediction requires also politics, economics, and psychology.

    He then adds a qualified statement, about the models working to the extent that they do, the meat of which is a tautology. Everything works to the extent that it does.

    The fact that you would embrace such a strained rationalization–that a noted climate scientist is trying to make a vacuous tautological statement–is a clear indication of how desperately you are trying to find a way to parse his words into something that supports your position.

    I don’t like speculating about authorial intent. I don’t know Trenberth. I want to deal with what he wrote, not what I think he meant, so I try to avoid apparent tensions in the text.

    It is clear to me that what you perceive as “apparent tensions in the text” are actually the tension between what he is actually saying and what you would like to attribute to him. Because of course there is no need to “speculate” about his intent. It is simple enough–if you are really seeking an answer rather than confirmation of your own biases–to answer this question by consulting his other writings.

    That “or” means we do not have reliable predictions of climate AND we don’t have regional predictions of climate. If his point was what you asserted, that we can’t predict how humans will behave, that sentence would be pointless. He could have said emissions predictions can’t be done due to volition, he just didn’t.

    This is also denialist thinking. Rather than consulting his other writings for clarification, you are building a rationalization on the parsing of a single word.

    It certainly seems to present a tension with the first few sentences he wrote, as you interpret it. Your thought seems to flatly contradict this claim he makes:
    “However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.”

    Here, you are essentially arguing that since we don’t know everything, we don’t know anything. This is a very popular argument among denialists, whether it be of evolution, AIDS, or global warming. But in science, lack of perfect knowledge does not mean complete ignorance. For example, any theoretical physicist will tell you that the science is “not done” on gravity. We still don’t understand in detail how gravity works, and we cannot predict its effects at very short distance scales. Yet we still know enough to forecast that the consequences of falling from a high place will be very harmful.

    Again I found it odd that the referent sourcing of his claim was the IPCC report and not, for instance, his own understanding of the case, and the inclusion of this conditional rhetorical question, “So if the science is settled, then what are we planning for and adapting to?”

    The first paragraph states what the science is clear about, the second defines its limitations and areas where further research is needed. You are straining to find a way to parse this passage so as to convince yourself that he is merely quoting the IPCC conclusions and not agreeing with them. I see no basis for this in the text. But if you were seriously interested in what he is saying, rather than rationalizing what you would like to believe, you would also be looking at his other writings readily available on the web. For example, from his testimony to the Congressional Committee on Science and Technology:

    “While there are uncertainties (although these cut both ways) and some changes arising from global warming may be benign or even beneficial, at least in some places and in the short run, the IPCC report shows that the rate of change as projected exceeds anything seen in nature in the past 10,000 years. Moreover, the inertia of the climate system and the long life of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mean that we are already committed to a significant level of climate change. I believe that mitigation actions are certainly needed to significantly reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change.”

    “At the same time, the 2007 IPCC report makes clear that even aggressive mitigation would yield benefits many decades in the future, and that no amount of mitigation can avoid significant climate change. I believe it is apt to be disruptive in many ways. Hence it is also vital to plan to cope with the changes, such as enhanced droughts, heat waves and wild fires, and stronger downpours and risk of flooding. Managing water resources will be a major challenge in the future. Adapting to climate change and reducing vulnerability is essential. This means that we should adapt to climate change by planning for it and making better predictions of likely outcomes on several time horizons.”

    Note the use of the first person. I will be interested to see if you are able to come up with some way to parse this to be anything other than his own opinion.

    This passage also clarifies the reason for his concern with making reliable and regional predictions, rather than scenario projections–he believes that the damage to the climate due to human activity is already so great that emissions controls are not enough–we need to find other ways to mitigate the damage. And to do that, we need improved models that tell us not merely what will happen to global temperature (which is what the current models do well), but what will be the consequences with respect to fires, hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.

  8. #8 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    Hey z,

    In the paragraph below what you quoted I gave you an outline of what it would take to convince me that we face warming in the 2.5C+ range.

    “It would take evidence of temperatures that it could be proven were truly outside the bounds of natural variability and a falsifiable theory explaining those temps that withstood falsification.”

    Mann and his colleagues attempted to use proxy studies to demonstrate that current warming was outside the bounds of natural variability. Leaving aside discussions of the methods and validity of these studies, they still fail to show that modern temperatures are anomalous during the Holocene. As I mentioned the claim of “higher than the last four hundred years” is rather unremarkable even if correct.

    Then there is the issue of a falsifiable test for the claims of 2.5C+ temps in the next hundred years from expected rates of CO2 production. No first principles calculation can be produced to justify these claims. They are based on computer models. As discussed by Kevin, these models are not intended to be forecasts. They have consistently been wrong and don’t even agree with each other. They have in some cases been “tuned” to fit past results. This hardly represents falsifiable evidence of dangerous warming.

    The best falsifiable evidence I have heard is that the stratosphere is cooling. Ok, but the last ten years show little downward trend and not by the amount one should expect if the claimed CO2 sensitivity is correct. Also water vapor and ozone play major roles in stratospheric dynamics and their effects are not clearly known.

    A 2006 paper by V. Ramaswamy et.al. makes the claim that a combination of volcanic, solar and other effects can be construed to “fix” the problem. I don’t find their explanation or evidence compelling. Much like efforts to “explain” the cooling trend in surface temperatures before the 1970′s, this explanation appears ad hoc and a clear case of question begging.

    Then there is the problem of the troposphere not warming by the amounts required by AGW theory. Some, Tamino included, will protest that this is not a feature unique to AGW theory and therefore does not falsify said theory. I find this claim a bit odd. Tamino is correct in stating that ANY warming, including “natural” warming, should provide this signal, but a lack of a pronounced warming of the troposphere goes right to the heart of the issue. “Is there really any significant warming going on at all?”

    Well that should give you some idea of what type of evidence I would accept for the theory that CO2 is going to produce dangerously anomalous warming in the next century.

    The evidence supporting substantial AGW is ambiguous at best and certainly not sufficient to impose a world wide regimen of carbon reducing taxes or “cap and trade” schemes that certainly would have large scale effects, probably negative, on the world’s economy.

    As a scientist I remain open to new evidence. Perhaps you have some? Also my level of understanding of the issues involved is certainly less than perfect and thus I am appreciative of any further clarification that might be provided.

    I appreciate the generally positive tone of the comments directed towards me thus far. Little is accomplished by personal attacks and heated insults.

  9. #9 trrll
    December 18, 2007

    I watch the weather on the news and subscribe to one of the online weather services. I am not a scientist. I know these things, though. 1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future.

    Actually, this is false. It relies upon a fallacy, actively promoted by denialists, that it must surely be easier to do short term forecasts than it is to do long term forecasts. I can refute this trivially–as could you, if you actually thought about it, rather than parroting somebody else’s deceptive argument. Watch closely…I will now, miraculously, make a reliable forecast, not merely days, but months ahead–the temperature in virtually all US locations will be warmer 8 months from now than it is today.

    The methods of forecasting day-to-day weather have essentially nothing to do with the methods of projecting multi-year global climate trends, so the weather argument is a sheer straw man.

    2.) In the 1970′s most of the liberals and climatologists were warning the world of an impending ice age.

    And this one turns out to be simply a lie, albeit one that has been actively promoted by denialists. And anybody who bothers to actually look at the scientific literature from the 1970′s can easily verify that it is a lie. There were a couple of sensationalist articles in the popular press, based upon misunderstanding of a couple of papers. It simply is not true that most climatologists were expecting an impending ice age.

  10. #10 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    trrll,

    Lee’s arguments certainly aren’t new or highly nuanced, but they do contain the kernel of many valid objections to AGW theory.

    You dismiss Lee’s argument about climate forecasting by asserting that you can “predict” that the temperature in the northern hemisphere will be warmer in eight months. Amusingly you accuse him of constructing a straw man to which you send out your own as an answer.

    Your “forecast” is not based on computer calculations or any other artifact associated with the climate models that Lee was questioning. It is based on thousands of years of recorded observations, and your expectation that this well established and uncontroversial pattern will continue.

    I believe that is quite a different matter than the highly speculative and unprecedented forecasts that Lee was questioning.

    While you are correct that there was not a high level of “scientific consensus” in the 1970′s about an impending “ice age” there certainly was considerable mainstream media hype. This demonstrates, if nothing else, the willingness of the popular press to promote catastrophic climate theories.

  11. #11 Boris
    December 18, 2007

    No first principles calculation can be produced to justify these claims. They are based on computer models.

    Lance, please stop pretending there is no physical basis for nor observational estimate of climate sensitivity.

    They have in some cases been “tuned” to fit past results.

    This is a (deliberate?) mis characterization of what modelers do.

    but a lack of a pronounced warming of the troposphere goes right to the heart of the issue. “Is there really any significant warming going on at all?”

    Lance, you are assuming that the tropical tropospheric temperature data is accurate enough to prove that temperature data is not accurate.

    Ok, but the last ten years

    Ten years is not enough data to know if the strat. trend is out of whack with theory.

  12. #12 luminous beauty
    December 18, 2007

    Lance,

    I don’t mean this in a disrespectful or insulting manner, but as a purely objective and scientific observation.

    You are an idiot.

  13. #13 Barton Paul Levenson
    December 18, 2007

    Lance posts:

    [[Also your hand waving water vapour calculations are reason enough to doubt your knowledge of atmospheric dynamics. If the hydrological cycle were as simple as the ideas you present, the earth's climate could be accurately modeled on a laptop. Oh and the earth would long ago have experienced a run-a-way, H2O driven, greenhouse catastrophe.

    More heat -> More water vapour -> More heat -> More water vapour -> (You get the idea.)]]

    Lance, you claim to be a physics grad student. Do you not understand the difference between a converging series and diverging series? Your arrows above don’t convey enough information to prove your point; that’s why it’s better to express series in math rather than in words.

    So I don’t know my atmosphere physics, do I? Let me see, Lance my lad, how many radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres have YOU written?

  14. #14 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    Howdy Boris,

    I am not “pretending” that there is “no physical basis” for an “observational estimate of climate sensitivity”. Observation based estimates are predicated on the idea that you can measure the temperature increase of some known period, then based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2.

    This is clearly a circular argument and as I said is NOT derived from first principles.

    To my remark that climate modelers “tune” their models to fit past data, you respond,

    “This is a (deliberate?) mis characterization of what modelers do.”

    Well, at least thanks for the relief of the question mark after your slanderous innuendo. Are you claiming that climate models are not tuned to better fit past data sets? This is not a controversial point as far as I know.

    In response to my remarks about the last ten years of stratospheric satellite measurements you say,

    “Ten years is not enough data to know if the strat. trend is out of whack with theory.”

    Fair enough, but the entire record is only a few decades in length so claims that “long term” trends show stratospheric cooling can be criticized on the same grounds.

    The substance of your comments was appreciated, the tone was not. Please try not to imply or state that am “pretending” or being deliberately disingenuous.

    Boris, I have seen you around the “blogosphere” and respect your perspective. Please grant me the presumption of acting in good faith until I have demonstrated otherwise. Note that I wasn’t sarcastic in my reply nor did I accompany your quoted remarks with (sic) or other snarky asides

  15. #15 Boris
    December 18, 2007

    then based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2.

    No, that’s not the way it works.

    I stand by my mis-characterization remark. You insinuated that an effort to validate and improve the models was somehow a cheat or a dodge. I imagine if modelers did not attempt to validate models that you would complain that they were unvalidated. Moreover, ability to hindcast is only one of many ways that a model is validated against the real world.

    “Tuning” is a climate audit theme, and they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to models.

  16. #16 Barton Paul Levenson
    December 18, 2007

    Lee posts:

    [[1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future.]]

    You have climate confused with weather. Weather is chaotic and can’t be predicted past a week or two, but climate is a long-term (30 years or more) regional or global average of weather, and it can be treated deterministically. If you’re familiar with higher mathematics, it’s the difference between an initial values problem and a boundary conditions problem. Or to make it simpler — I don’t know what the temperature will be tomorrow in Cairo, Egypt (weather). But it’s a safe bet that it will be hotter than in Stockholm, Sweden (climate).

    [[ 2.) In the 1970's most of the liberals and climatologists were warning the world of an impending ice age.]]

    This is just wrong. First of all, “liberals,” like most Americans, were not primarily interested in scientific issues in the 1970s. Second, there was never a scientific consensus on global cooling the way there is now on global warming. Here’s more on the urban legend of a 1970s “global cooling scare:”

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=94

    [[ 3.) Technology has improved trewmendously since the 70's.]]

    True.

    [[ 4.) The forecasts have not improved anywhere close to the extent that technology has.]]

    Measured how?

    [[ I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming. ]]

    Taken together, those statements make no sense.

    [[I'm supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future.]]

    See above, under #1.

  17. #17 dhogaza
    December 18, 2007

    Look, folks, one of two things are true about lance:

    1. He is really a drop-out from a PhD program in Physics. If so, his bullshit parroting of CA and other denialist talking points are a clear indication of his dishonesty.

    2. He’s lying about his educational background.

    Either way, there’s no point in feeding a dishonest troll like Lance.

  18. #18 dhogaza
    December 18, 2007

    Please try not to imply or state that am “pretending” or being deliberately disingenuous.

    Why pretend that the obvious is not true, Lance?

  19. #19 LeeS
    December 18, 2007

    First, I have posted here as “lee” occasionally for some time, a couple of years – I’m not the same Lee who showed up recently in this thread making denialist arguments. I’m using ‘LeeS’ here to make that distinction.

    Lance says about observational derivations of climate sensitivity:
    “based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2″

    Lance, would you mind explaining how a calculation of climate sensitivity derived from transitions into and out of previous glaciations relies on an a priori assumption that it must all be due to ANTHROPOGENIC CO2? That clam intrigues me.

  20. #20 dhogaza
    December 18, 2007

    Just to make clear how uneducated Lance is on the basic physics (where you’d expect his knowledge to be the deepest)…

    Lance:

    then based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2.

    From RealClimate:

    What we wish to emphasize by this paraphrase is the simple fact that the expectation of a causal link between increasing long-lived greenhouse gases (like CO2) and increasing temperature does not rest on some vague, unexplained correlation between 20th century temperature and 20th century greenhouse gas concentration. The anticipated increase in temperature was predicted long before it was detectable in the atmosphere, indeed long before it was known that atmospheric CO2 really was increasing; it was first predicted by Arrhenius in 1896 using extremely simple radiation balance ideas, and was reproduced using modern radiation physics by Manabe and co-workers in the 1960′s. Neither of these predictions rests on general circulation models…

    Lance, instead of stroking it in public here, why not run over to RealClimate and tell Ray Pierrehumbert, who works on atmospheric physics if I’m not mistaken, and tell him he’s wrong?

    You have a chance to prove real, live, working scientists wrong over there, you know?

  21. #21 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    Hello BPL,

    I do indeed know the difference between a converging and diverging infinite series. I also teach occasionally for the math department here at the university. Sorry for the keyboard math but this comment box won’t accept my pastes from my equation editor. I guess that’s just a function of my time investment in “blogology”.

    Oh, that there were nice discrete expressions for climate sensitivity that one could use the p-test or some other straight forward mathematical construct to verify. I certainly have not seen any such representations.

    “…Lance my lad, how many radiative-convective models of planetary atmospheres have YOU written?

    Well, that would be zero. But I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night…

    Actually I have some experience in modeling systems of coupled nonlinear equations. If you have done this then you are aware that these systems are highly sensitive to initial conditions and prone to chaotic and highly unpredictable outcomes.

    Boris,

    Your statement in response to my criticism of observation based climate sensitivity, “No, that’s not the way it works” looks a little drafty sitting there with nothing covering its naked assertion. Care to clothe it with a few facts?

    I’m sorry if you object to the word “tuning” but it is a fairly good descriptor for adjusting the parameters of a faulty model until it generates results that match past data. While I agree it is not the only method of “verifying” climate models it is certainly employed.

    One needn’t search too far into the scientific literature to find studies critical of the methods and statements of uncertainty associated with AOGCM’s.

  22. #22 Barton Paul Levenson
    December 18, 2007

    [[Then there is the issue of a falsifiable test for the claims of 2.5C+ temps in the next hundred years from expected rates of CO2 production. No first principles calculation can be produced to justify these claims. They are based on computer models.]]

    They are based on computer models which are in turn based on first principles, on radiation physics. I am aware of 61 such models — I have a web page about them — and they all predict a climate sensitivity of 2.86 K with a standard deviation of about 1.50 K; i.e., the vast majority of the estimates range from about 2 to 4 K. No, you can’t plug values into an equation and get a specific answer. The problem is a little too complex to allow for that. But to think that means we have no idea of the right answer is just wrong. I don’t know if the population of Chicago right now is 1 million or 3 million, but I know it’s not 200,000.

  23. #23 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    dhogaza,

    Your quote from RealClimate is in regard to a calculation far less than the 2.5C+ we were discussing. To generate warming on this order you must appeal to computer models.

    I think you already knew that so I’m not sure why you felt the need to include it along with your usual personal attack.

    I am seeing less and less reason to respond with anything but mild bemusement to your malevolent harangues.

  24. #24 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    luminous beauty says,

    “Lance,

    I don’t mean this in a disrespectful or insulting manner, but as a purely objective and scientific observation.

    You are an idiot.”

    Now there is a thoughtful and constructive comment. Did you stick out your tongue while you typed it?

  25. #25 Boris
    December 18, 2007

    …looks a little drafty sitting there with nothing covering its naked assertion. Care to clothe it with a few facts?

    And your original claim had facts to back it up?

    Your statement was nonsensical. If researchers assumed a priori that CO2 caused all of the temperature change, then why is there a range for sensitivity in each estimate? Perhaps things are not as simple as you make out. But, go ahead, show me the evidence you have.

    Again, would you rather the models were not validated against past temperature change? If you think it’s so easy to create a model that gets the physics right, produces a valid climate and hindcasts the observed temp record, then have at it.

  26. #26 luminous beauty
    December 18, 2007

    Lance,

    “Are you claiming that climate models are not tuned to better fit past data sets? This is not a controversial point as far as I know.”

    As far as I know, you are an idiot.

    Climate models are not tuned to fit observations. They are physical models. They are tuned by modeling the thermodynamics of the many multiple and complex factors as are understood to effect the earth’s emissivity in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation for radiative equilibrium within a cellular simulation of the empirical physical features of the earth’s climate system. (No a priori assumption that it is all due to CO2).

    Because there are uncertainties for all these factors, a wide variety of choices for any single modeling run are available.

    By comparing, not fitting, to the instrumental record, certain model runs can be inferred to be more realistic in their assumptions about the coefficients of the physical calculations involved than others.

    From the ensemble of these more robust modeling runs can be inferred climate sensitivity, which is a derivative measure of emissivity, applicable to any forcing or feedback, not just CO2.

    CO2, because it is a well mixed gas and it’s concentration varies within well defined parameters, is relatively easy to model with a fair degree of precision. Unlike, say water vapor, which flops and fluctuates around in the lower troposphere and has the maddening tendency to change it’s physical state.

    By setting particular feedbacks or forcings at zero for these more robust models, they can be relatively well disaggregated from the averaged value of emissivity, and, hence, climate sensitivity for any and all forcings and feedbacks can be inferred.

    Since they are not run as time series initiated by fixed initial conditions, but as collections of climatologies averaged over fixed periods of time, they are not predictive in the sense of weather forecasts. What they can do is give a reasonably reliable picture of the transient climate under different generalized conditions.

    What future conditions will be is yet a matter of collective human decision making, models for which, as yet, are not particularly robust.

    Because you are an idiot.

  27. #27 luminous beauty
    December 18, 2007

    Lance,

    My tongue is firmly in my cheek.

    Because you are an idiot.

  28. #28 dhogaza
    December 18, 2007

    Your quote from RealClimate is in regard to a calculation far less than the 2.5C+ we were discussing. To generate warming on this order you must appeal to computer models.

    Oh, you are so slimey. Yes, feedbacks must be computed to get the full rise in temps but you started here …

    …based on your a priori assumption that it must all be due to anthropogenic CO2 make an estimate of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2.

    The slime’s surely obvious to all.

  29. #29 dhogaza
    December 18, 2007

    I am seeing less and less reason to respond with anything but mild bemusement to your malevolent harangues.

    But, please, keep posting … your dishonesty (not idiocy IMO, with apologies to LB) becomes more apparent with each and every post.

    So, why don’t you go challenge those scientists who run Real Climate, eh?

    If you’re right, and their wrong, you can get enough funding to finish your PhD and bankroll the rest of your career.

    So, hey! Go for it!

    Or is sucking CA tit easier than actually engaging the professionals in the field…

  30. #30 trrll
    December 18, 2007

    Lee’s arguments certainly aren’t new or highly nuanced

    I would say rather that they are intentionally deceptive arguments used by dishonest people to fool the gullible. I imagine that Lee is in the latter category. How about you?

    You dismiss Lee’s argument about climate forecasting by asserting that you can “predict” that the temperature in the northern hemisphere will be warmer in eight months. Amusingly you accuse him of constructing a straw man to which you send out your own as an answer.
    Your “forecast” is not based on computer calculations or any other artifact associated with the climate models that Lee was questioning.

    I didn’t say that it was. After all, the models and methods used to forecast weather a day or two in advance have nothing to do with climate modeling, either. Which is why it is stupid to argue that if it is hard to predict weather a day or two ahead, it is not possible to predict climate over a greater time frame. The seasonal prediction is a trivial counterexample exposing the fallacy. Predicting weather a day or two in advance is not like predicting seasonal changes in advance, which is not like predicting climate changes years in advance.

    While you are correct that there was not a high level of “scientific consensus” in the 1970′s about an impending “ice age” there certainly was considerable mainstream media hype. This demonstrates, if nothing else, the willingness of the popular press to promote catastrophic climate theories.

    So your point is what? The media is often in error regarding matters of science? I’m shocked, shocked.

    Or are you trying to argue that since the media were wrong then, everything they say about climate must necessarily be wrong? Surely even you can perceive the fallacy in that argument.

    Why try to weasel around it? Can’t you just admit honestly that the claim that there was some kind of scientific consensus of an impending ice age in the 1970′s is simply untrue, and those who are promulgating this falsehood are ignorant or dishonest?

    Even the supposed ’70′s media hype is overstated–basically, we’re talking about an article or two in newsmagazines. Contrast that to the modern consensus, endorsed by such major scientific bodies as the National Academy and the AAAS.

  31. #31 Robin Levett
    December 18, 2007

    @Trrll (#230):

    Just to add to your comment:

    Can’t you just admit honestly that the claim that there was some kind of scientific consensus of an impending ice age in the 1970′s is simply untrue, and those who are promulgating this falsehood are ignorant or dishonest?

    Even the supposed ’70′s media hype is overstated–basically, we’re talking about an article or two in newsmagazines.

    it’s interesting to note that one of those hyping up the big freeze was one Nigel Calder, former editor of the New Scientist; who had a starring role in the (in)famous TGGWS…

  32. #32 John Mashey
    December 18, 2007

    re: #230

    1) I use Firefox, greasemonkey, killfile, seems to work OK here, even if not quite as pervasively as the old UNIX newsreaders’ KILLFILEs.

    2) This has saved me wasting time seeing comments from whoever you’re replying to, thankfully.

    3) However, I suggest that it is really, really worthwhile to get familiar with John Cross’ Skeptical Science website enumerating denialist arguments, with each having a nice backup webpage.

    This would save words, as you can just write:
    See:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php
    7 ice70s

    This especially useful when writing a letter-to-editor, or to a word-limited blog (as in some newspapers) in reply to a spray of misinformation. You can give one pointer, and a list of numbers, and it reinforces the point that the same silly arguments get repeated over and over.

    From 20+ years on BBS … DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. KILLFILE is best, but John’s list is useful if you think replies are really needed.

  33. #33 Lance
    December 18, 2007

    luminous beauty,

    “Climate models are not tuned to fit observations. They are physical models. They are tuned by modeling the thermodynamics of the many multiple and complex factors as are understood to effect the earth’s emissivity in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation for radiative equilibrium within a cellular simulation of the empirical physical features of the earth’s climate system. (No a priori assumption that it is all due to CO2).”

    You are conflating my statements on two different topics; CO2 climate sensitivity calculated from past climate data and projected from models.

    Because you are an idiot! (hehehe)

    I find your faith that climate models are rigorously based on the Stefan-Boltzman equation to be quite charming in it’s naiveté

    Oh, and I guess writing code simulating the “empirical physical features of the earth’s climate system” is no big problem if you say it quickly enough. Think about what you’re talking about and then imagine the many parameters, their related equations, both linear and non-linear, that would involve and their relative influences on climate, known and unknown.

    Hell they can’t even model the ENSO with any degree of predictive ability, but you blithely toss the “empirical physical features of the earth’s climate system” in as if it were a dash of salt.

    This is the Achilles Heel of the whole AGW tautology; no wonder rounders like dhogaza shriek like banshees when anyone starts sniffing them too closely.

  34. #34 Robin Levett
    December 18, 2007

    @John Mashey (#167):

    Robin: Yes, it’s easy to imagine, but I still recommend reading Hirsch, because:

    a) It was written for the US DOE, it’s not just some random white paper or web posting.

    b) It has a lot of backup data that would support your argument.

    Sorry, I wasn’t ignoring you – I’ve downloaded a copy of the report to peruse at leisure…

  35. #35 luminous beauty
    December 18, 2007

    dhogaza,

    I don’t for a second believe that Lance isn’t lying. It’s just that he’s lying so badly and so stupidly that he’s an idiot.

  36. #36 Hank Roberts
    December 18, 2007

    Has anyone done one like this for climate?
    http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2007/12/ntsds2.gif

    Closest I recall, making a different point, is this:
    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/05/the_significance_of_5_year_tre.php#
    ______________________________________________
    “Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves.”-Richard Feynman

    Economics is what we have learned about how to keep from being ripped off, I guess.

  37. #37 Boris
    December 18, 2007

    Lance, this:

    This is the Achilles Heel of the whole AGW tautology

    is the logic of a denialist. You’ve shown on this thread that you have vast misconceptions about climate science and that you are unable or unwilling to correct those misconceptions. My attempt at taking you seriously has ended in failure. Good luck and have a happy holiday season.

  38. #38 z
    December 18, 2007

    #206:” 1.) The computer models, used by most meteorologists, cannot give an accurate forecast more than 3 or 4 days into the future. … 4.) The forecasts have not improved anywhere close to the extent that technology has. I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming. I’m supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future. ”

    #191:”Trenberth explains the differences between weather prediction and climate modeling: http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/presentations/ClimForecastsTrenberth.ppt Weather prediction starts with current weather data (estimates), feeds that through models of the atmosphere to provide predictions of future observations. Small uncertainties and errors compound rapidly over time, preventing precise deterministic predictions beyond about 2 weeks. Climate prediction, however, is one step removed, predicting the behavior of the system as a function of the influences which enter into the system; but without making deterministic predictions of precise measurements, which are too highly dependent on unpredictable factors in the system. ‘It is inherently probabilistic’”

  39. #39 z
    December 18, 2007

    “Hey z,
    In the paragraph below what you quoted I gave you an outline of what it would take to convince me that we face warming in the 2.5C+ range.
    “It would take evidence of temperatures that it could be proven were truly outside the bounds of natural variability and a falsifiable theory explaining those temps that withstood falsification.””

    OK, thanks; but that’s still a description of meta-evidence, if you will, still referring to “evidence” and “proof” and “falsification” as variables to be specified later, a posteriori; still not quite what I’m looking for, I’m afraid. I was hoping for something on the order of “a global average temperature of 50 degrees Centigrade for one year, or 40 for two years in a row, plus an immediate drop of 90% in anthropogenic CO2 production which is followed within ten years by a leveling off and decline in the rate of temperature increase”. We’ve had falsifiable predictions at various levels, from the simple “pass longwave IR through gas containing CO2 and the transmitted radiation is reduced as a monotonic function of the CO2 concentration”, to the aforementioned Hansen’s 1988 predictions of global average temp in the ensuing 20 years, to the climate models being loaded with initial values corresponding to 1900 and iterating their way to an accurate representation of current climate, in some detail, and continuing to predict what the IPCC says they do; clearly those predictions have all not been falsified, yet the request is still for “falsifiable predictions”. Like, what’s up with that?

  40. #40 dhogaza
    December 19, 2007

    I don’t for a second believe that Lance isn’t lying. It’s just that he’s lying so badly and so stupidly that he’s an idiot.

    Good point.

    Lance, once again, why don’t you go over to Real Climate and educate the climate scientist professionals who run the place as to the error of their ways.

    In particular, I think it would be entertaining to see you try to sell the “AGW tautology” concept …

  41. #41 Ian Gould
    December 19, 2007

    “I’m supposed to believe, that while the weather cannot be forecast accurately more than 3 or 4 days, that it can be accurately forecasted 30 or 40 years into the future.”

    I can’t predict whether the Dow will go up or down tomorrow. I am reasonably confident though in predicting that the Dow will go up over the next twenty years.

    Similarly, while I can’t predict what the maximum temperature will be tomorrow I’m fairly confident in predicting (being in the southern hemisphere)that the maximum temperature for June 21st 2008 will be lower than tomorrow’s maximum.

  42. #42 jc
    December 19, 2007

    Gouldmeister says.
    I can’t predict whether the Dow will go up or down tomorrow. I am reasonably confident though in predicting that the Dow will go up over the next twenty years.

    Nonsense. In mominal terms you can but certainly not in real terms.

    Moreover looking at things in a Dow Jones context would be like looking at regional temperatures. The proper analogy would be to look at global stock markets. If you did that in an historical context you would be back peddling from your statement at 100 miles an hour.

    You need to compare like with like, Gouldie. You know that by now, ot at least i hope you do.

  43. #43 Jeff Harvey
    December 19, 2007

    JC, Ian Gould was partially correct, at least in his analogy. What Ian was comparing was stochastic processes versus deterministic processes. Weather is stochastic; climate is much more deterministic. I see your argument but its all a matter of scale. Ian should have scaled up even higher in his analogy, but the general point he was making was correct.

    The pundits (I like Dhogaza’s description of them as being in the ‘penaut gallery’) who try to downplay the relevance of climate models by citing the old discredited weather versus climate chestnut just don’t understand the importance of scale. I am a community ecologist and I can tell you that the properties of a biome are much more predictable than the properties of an ecosystem and the properties of an ecosystem are much more predictable than the properties of a linear multitrophic chain and so on. Similarly, it is much easier to predict the properties of a gas than of the individual molecules that make up the gas.

    That humans can affect largely deterministic biogeochemical cycles operating over huge spatial and temporal scales is indeed worrying, or should be. Since it takes a lot of forcing to change, at least quite dramatically, largely deterministic processes, then the fact that a range of human activities are doing so may mean that that we also have the capacity to drive complex systems into alternative, much less stable states.

  44. #44 Nick Barnes
    December 19, 2007

    Lee @ 11:19: “I do believe the world has been on a warming trend. However, that does not translate, necessarily, into global warming.”

    Um…

  45. #45 dhogaza
    December 19, 2007

    Similarly, it is much easier to predict the properties of a gas than of the individual molecules that make up the gas.

    Or of a tunneling diode vs. the individual electrons involved.

    We could play this game all day long, but I doubt the peanut gallery will understand.

    Not even our resident physics dropout.

  46. #46 jc
    December 19, 2007

    Thanks Jeff, very good post.

    I have a view that is a little different. Whatever we feel about things in terms of the effects we’re having the overall impact is mostly about an evolutionary process. That’s why I am not afraid of it.

    If it means the end of our species, which I very much doubt, but say it did, then so be it as another species will take the lead.

    Maybe if we’re quick enough we could have a big influence on the proces by making ourselves redundant. We don’t need the human body to survive all we need is a replication of the human mind.

  47. #47 Eli Rabett
    December 19, 2007

    Dessler nailed it yesterday. You have little chance of forecasting the exact temperature in your house to 1 C, but a very good one of estimating the average temperature over a ten year period.

  48. #48 John Mashey
    December 19, 2007

    #241 Ian
    I sympathize with your general point, however, mention of the stock market as analogy has its problems.

    As far as I know, physics does not apply to the stock market, although some physicists have certainly ended up working on Wall Street.

    In particular, in the light of Peak Oil&Gas, I would be fairly hesitant to make predictions about the Dow in 20 years, especially because some of those companies get helped, some get hurt, but in general, the market hates uncertainty. Of course, inflation alone may raise the actual number, but in real terms, who knows?

    Whereas, an assertion like:
    the 5-year average global temperature, as of 2027, will be higher than that of 2007,
    seems a a good bet, and probably even survives a Pinataubo, although not a major asteroid strike or nuclear war. I’ve tried to get people who claim it will get colder to bet, say on longbets.org, but no luck so far.

    But the climate belief is based on physics. I’d love to have the equivalent for the stock market!

  49. #49 Gareth
    December 19, 2007

    Here’s another version of the same thing: former BBC science correspondent David Whitehouse, in the New Statesman:

    The period 1980-98 was one of rapid warming – a temperature increase of about 0.5 degrees C (CO2 rose from 340ppm to 370ppm). But since then the global temperature has been flat (whilst the CO2 has relentlessly risen from 370ppm to 380ppm). This means that the global temperature today is about 0.3 deg less than it would have been had the rapid increase continued.
    For the past decade the world has not warmed. Global warming has stopped. It’s not a viewpoint or a sceptic’s inaccuracy. It’s an observational fact. Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures. But the evidence shows that global warming as such has ceased.

    Slightly more sophisticated than Carter, perhaps, but just as wrong….

  50. #50 Kevin
    December 19, 2007

    Robin:

    >No; I’m a lawyer and I mean that what Trenberth said is more nuanced than you appear to have understood.

    As a lawyer you make a habit of superfluous use of Latin?

    The distinction without a difference you, and apparently Trenberth, are drawing between projections and predictions is not useful. The words are synonyms. In any other case, one would rightly and commonly refer to his projections as a prediction, which in science are generally understood to be made with a ceteris paribus assumption.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceteris_paribus

    >However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.
    So; at the beginning of the piece he says that the IPCC doesn’t do predictions but projections. That is the contrast he is making in the quote you have seized on; he is emphatically not saying that GCs cannot tell us anything about what will happen in the future, which is the interpretation you are trying to put on that sentence by quoting it out of context.

    I perhaps naively thought he actually meant what he wrote when he said IPCC makes no predictions at all. I now think, under your interpretation, his use of ‘prediction’ is confused. Projections are predictions.

    Projection n.
    “A prediction or an estimate of something in the future, based on present data or trends.”

    Projections are statements about future events under a given set of circumstances. The ceteris paribus assumption is assumed of almost all scientific prediction. Commonly when a prediction fails because of some confounding issue, one would not claim that, on the contrary, no prediction had ever taken place, it was only a ‘projection’. One would say the prediction failed because of X, *simpliciter*.

    >He goes on to say that projections are useful in that they can point where the global climate generally will go with given emissions scenarios.

    This is all any scientific prediction would ever do. I don’t think omniscience is ever predicated of a prediction that follows scientific method. You are offering a paradigm example of a distinction without a difference. An indication of which antecedents entail what consequents under given conditions is what a ‘prediction’ does, whether or not you choose to call it a ‘projection’.

    >Your position appears to correspond to Bob Carter’s in the Courier-Mail on June 29 this year; Carter said, quoting the same Trenberth post as you:

    Perhaps Bob Carter understands ‘prediction’ not to entail omniscience, as you and Trenberth appear to. Still, I’d prefer not to debate what Bob Carter has to say.

    On the typical scientific use of the term, a claim like IPCC makes no predictions, ever, means they don’t make forward looking statements about what will happen at some time later than now.

    Predict v.

    “To state, tell about, or make known in advance, especially on the basis of special knowledge.”

    “Predictions of the future are never anything but projections of present automatic processes and procedures, that is, of occurrences that are likely to come to pass if men do not act and if nothing unexpected happens; every action, for better or worse, and every accident necessarily destroys the whole pattern in whose frame the prediction moves and where it finds its evidence.” – Hannah Arendt

    Hence the utility and frequency of the ceteris paribus assumption in prediction.

    >”Bob Carter, a climate change doubter in Australia, has written a distortion of all this in the Courier Mail, issuing various attack against the science of climate change. Andrew Ash has written a rebuttal of these comments.”

    >So he endorses what Ash said in response – and what did Ash say:

    I see no endorsement of what Ash wrote in Trenberth’s text nor does he offer any in the actual essay. There is a relevant difference between endorsement and the simple declaration of a fact, the latter being the only thing Trenberth chose to offer in support of Ash’s rebuttal.

    http://tinyurl.com/ywe78f

    “The authors should recognize that IPCC does not make forecasts but rather makes projections to guide policy and decision makers. If those changes are considered undesirable, it can create efforts to change that outcome. Such mitigation is already happening in the U.S. Congress, in many states, and internationally under the Kyoto Protocol. Hence the projection will not be correct as actions are being taken to make it so. As such it is not a forecast of what will actually happen.”

    This is both idiosyncratic use and begs the question of the accuracy of the ‘projection’ at all. If I accurately forecast it will rain tomorrow under the current conditions and you somehow stop it from raining, one would not typically say I didn’t perform a forecast because you made me wrong. One would say my forecast was wrong because you changed the weather. His usage is idiosyncratic. I can only guess why he is trying to shield the IPCC from ever having made a forecast. I have been curious about that since the first time I read his essay.

    We also have an attempt to deny the possible inaccuracy of climate models by saying action made taking them into account necessarily prevents them from being accurate or even being forecasts. So how does one know if they are accurate from the outset? This seems to be a method to insulate the “projection” [the euphemism of choice for a fallible prediction] from any critique as to its accuracy.

    >The assertion that CSIRO’s “climate models are worthless predictive tools” draws on a quote (out of context) by US climate scientist Kevin Trenberth – but he does not question the reality of anthropogenic global warming, or the threat of future warming as predicted by global and regional climate models.

    The threat of warming as *predicted* by global and regional CMs?! Not prediction, surely! Models don’t predict, for God’s sake, they *project*!

    The attempt to distinguish prediction from projection is ill-founded; Ash doesn’t maintain it here and Trenberth’s usage is not even consistent in his own presentation below. The words are synonymous.

    http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/presentations/ClimForecastsTrenberth.ppt#12

    E.g., here where Trenberth writes that human influences [emissions] are now the main *predictable* climate forcing.

    >All Trenberth argues is that the climate models cannot predict exactly how some aspects of regional climate will evolve in the years ahead.

    Except that isn’t what he has written, as he clearly distinguishes between reliable and regional prediction and says we can do neither and says IPCC has never offered any predictions at all. Ash is inconsistent with Trenberth, which is not odd seeing that Trenberth is inconsistent with 1) Trenberth and 2) with the literal meaning of the words he’s chosen to use.

    >So your reliance upon Trenberth in support of your position is misguided; he endorses the interpretation of his post that I gave in my first post on the topic – see the emphasised portion of the quote above. And guess what? I’d only read the Climate Feedback page I refer to above when I came to that conclusion.

    Before you sprain your arm patting yourself on the back in victory, at least don’t confuse the posters to whom you are replying.

    I never thought Trenberth’s position supports some pet hypothesis I hold. I am not a climate modeller and have simply deferred to his opinion. It turns out his opinion is more conflicted than I believed. That’s what I get for epistemic charity.

    Your second citation does provide clarification on the meaning of his statement and I think you’ve satisfied me with that second piece of his that his claim wasn’t what I thought.

    I am now back to my original supposition that his essay is designed to insulate the IPCC GCMs from being condemned if they turn out to be inaccurate. I can see no other reason for the distinction without a difference he is trying to carve out for IPCC forecasts. Speaking of remediation, you should consult a thesaurus and see what connection the words projection, prediction and forecast have. I’d also suggest consulting a logic primer and seeing what the entailment of a sentence containing a tautology happens to be.

  51. #51 Kevin
    December 20, 2007

    Trrll:

    >It is clear to me that what you perceive as “apparent tensions in the text” are actually the tension between what he is actually saying and what you would like to attribute to him.

    That’s actually the opposite of my motivation, but you’ve already demonstrated that you are more interested in speculating about my intent than rational debate. Now if I were inclined to speculate about authorial intent, that fact might make me curious.

    >Because of course there is no need to “speculate” about his intent. It is simple enough–if you are really seeking an answer rather than confirmation of your own biases–to answer this question by consulting his other writings.

    I didn’t know there were other writings of his to consult for clarification of this essay. Now I do. Having consulted them, I now believe that he is trying unsuccessfully to imply some relevant difference between ‘projection’ and its synonyms ‘prediction’ and ‘forecasting’.

    >>That “or” means we do not have reliable predictions of climate AND we don’t have regional predictions of climate. If his point was what you asserted, that we can’t predict how humans will behave, that sentence would be pointless. He could have said emissions predictions can’t be done due to volition, he just didn’t.
    >This is also denialist thinking. Rather than consulting his other writings for clarification, you are building a rationalization on the parsing of a single word.

    I have yet to find him clarifying why he distinguished between reliable and regional prediction. If you know of it, cite it.

    >>It certainly seems to present a tension with the first few sentences he wrote, as you interpret it. Your thought seems to flatly contradict this claim he makes: “However, the science is not done because we do not have reliable or regional predictions of climate.”

    >Here, you are essentially arguing that since we don’t know everything, we don’t know anything. This is a very popular argument among denialists, whether it be of evolution, AIDS, or global warming.

    Here you are essentially inserting a straw man. My point was that he distinguished between regional analysis, your point of contention, and reliable analysis, which seems to imply more than you granted.

    >But in science, lack of perfect knowledge does not mean complete ignorance. For example, any theoretical physicist will tell you that the science is “not done” on gravity. We still don’t understand in detail how gravity works, and we cannot predict its effects at very short distance scales. Yet we still know enough to forecast that the consequences of falling from a high place will be very harmful.

    Are you sure we aren’t merely projecting that? After all, maybe an updraft will catch me. Maybe I will just survive unharmed for no reason anyone understands. Surely, we cannot deign to call such a chancy proposition a forecast! What if knowing that falling might hurt me causes me to wear a parachute. By Trenberth’s logic, the very fact I might choose to do so is sufficient reason not to call your projection above a ‘forecast’.

    >The first paragraph states what the science is clear about, the second defines its limitations and areas where further research is needed. You are straining to find a way to parse this passage so as to convince yourself that he is merely quoting the IPCC conclusions and not agreeing with them. I see no basis for this in the text.

    How about that he is already trying to cleave an irrelevant distinction between ‘projection’ and ‘prediction’ for some unstated purpose?

    >But if you were seriously interested in what he is saying,

    Last time I’ll bother to write this, just stop speculating about my motives. It is pointless and annoying.

    >”While there are uncertainties (although these cut both ways) and some changes arising from global warming may be benign or even beneficial, at least in some places and in the short run, the IPCC report shows that the rate of change as projected exceeds anything seen in nature in the past 10,000 years.

    The report shows the change as projected … sure that’s not conditional at all. He not only refuses to offer his own judgement here, he doesn’t even express confidence that the rate of change corresponds to the case. Gee, sorry that I actually understand the words he’s chosen to use rather than assuming what he must intend.

    >Moreover, the inertia of the climate system and the long life of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere mean that we are already committed to a significant level of climate change. I believe that mitigation actions are certainly needed to significantly reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change.”

    At least this actually shows his own judgement despite the whole paragraph basically waffling on the issue of whether or not the change implicit in current CO2 emissions will even be net beneficial and the belief he is citing not being relevant to the issue of modelling accuracy.

    >”At the same time, the 2007 IPCC report makes clear that even aggressive mitigation would yield benefits many decades in the future, and that no amount of mitigation can avoid significant climate change. I believe it is apt to be disruptive in many ways. Hence it is also vital to plan to cope with the changes, such as enhanced droughts, heat waves and wild fires, and stronger downpours and risk of flooding.

    Here he states when his judgement is in agreement with the IPCC report. I also enjoy how every possible negative outcome is to be blamed on AGW, while the positive results which got lipservice before go out the window. Change has become synonymous with negative outcomes. It will cause drought and rain, fire and flood, heat waves and cold snaps. How about longer growing seasons? Maybe Siberia won’t be a frozen hell any more.

    >Managing water resources will be a major challenge in the future. Adapting to climate change and reducing vulnerability is essential. This means that we should adapt to climate change by planning for it and making better predictions of likely outcomes on several time horizons.”

    Better *what did he say*? Surely not! We already know the IPCC doesn’t make predictions.

    >Note the use of the first person. I will be interested to see if you are able to come up with some way to parse this to be anything other than his own opinion.

    The part that was his opinion was obvious. He signposted it. That is even more evidence that the parts where he doesn’t signpost are either not his opinion or not opinions he wants attributed to him. You’re not making a good case here for ignoring the words he’s written in favor of what you want him to intend.

    >This passage also clarifies the reason for his concern with making reliable and regional predictions, rather than scenario projections–he believes that the damage to the climate due to human activity is already so great that emissions controls are not enough–we need to find other ways to mitigate the damage. And to do that, we need improved models that tell us not merely what will happen to global temperature (which is what the current models do well), but what will be the consequences with respect to fires, hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.

    If the current models predict temp. well, why does he deny all IPCC prediction, while mentioning a need for reliable prediction above? Or is temperature unique in not being able to be predicted while hurricanes, droughts and floods can be? Because he clearly said we don’t have reliable prediction now, and clearly distinguished that from regional prediction, the point you raised.

    Look, if there is really some way that this is all coherent please take a shot at making a concise statement of how, but try and do so without insulting my motives for wanting to know and for refusing to accept irrelevant and illogical arguments such as you’ve offered to date.

  52. #52 dhogaza
    December 20, 2007

    His usage is idiosyncratic.

    Or he’s using the terms in a way that fellow professionals understand. It’s useless trying to pin scientists down to common english usage, so you should simply drop it.

    It’s as disingenuous as creationists saying “evolution is just a theory”, in the expectation that the reader will use the common everyday meaning of “theory” rather than the far stronger definition of “theory” used in science.

    I can only guess why he is trying to shield the IPCC from ever having made a forecast.

    We can’t make forecasts without knowing what CO2 emissions will be. The IPCC doesn’t need a shield.

  53. #53 Boris
    December 20, 2007

    I am not a climate modeller and have simply deferred to his opinion. It turns out his opinion is more conflicted than I believed.

    You still don’t understand his point. Here’s a quick example of why your are so wrong:

    The IPCC does not attempt to predict volcanoes.
    If we have two major volcanoes in the next five years, the models will look very, very wrong.
    Then, people like Kevin will say “look how wrong the models were!” even though we would know nothing more about the estimates of climate sensitivity. (Actually we probably would know more, because models can predict volcanic response a la Pinatubo). But then again, people like Kevin don’t want to talk about science. They want to run to their Roget’s.

    Good luck with that.

  54. #54 Boris
    December 20, 2007

    And Kevin, here’s what dictionary.com says about predict vs. project:

    project:

    to set forth or calculate (some future thing)

    predict:

    to declare or tell in advance; to foretell the future

    Gosh, yeah, no difference. I suppose “scenario” is a synonym for “predict” as well. Well, I scenario you will say so anyway.

  55. #55 Dano
    December 20, 2007

    Gosh, yeah, no difference. I suppose “scenario” is a synonym for “predict” as well. Well, I scenario you will say so anyway.

    Alas, poor Google! I knew no wisdom button.

    My graduate education included a year of urban ecology, where we often performed scenario analysis, which uses projections for outcomes and management goals.

    Boris, you don’t know what you are talking about.

    Projections have conditional dependencies that make the future outcomes less certain – as viewed from current time – and measurable than predictions. Projections are typically drawn either on x,y axes or on a Cartesian plane with 4 possible futures. The advantage of scenarios is the ability to manage either to the metric or the desired outcome, across a range of time scales. Predictions require one to wait until a date certain, then act.

    I have stated many times that the IPCC, if it is going to depend upon scenarios, should do a better job at educating folk about what scenarios do. Boris’ ignorant statements reinforce this issue.

    Best,

    D

  56. #56 Boris
    December 20, 2007

    Actually, Dano, I’m making fun of Kevin’s points. I think there’s a substantial difference between the defs in my #254. Kevin, however, is stuck on the idea that predictions and projections are the very same thing and that, therefore, GCMs are worthless.

  57. #57 trrll
    December 20, 2007

    I didn’t know there were other writings of his to consult for clarification of this essay. Now I do.

    I didn’t either, initially. But when a question arose, my automatic reaction was to seek more information, by taking 2 minutes to do a google search. Yours, apparently, was to parse his statements down to the level of the individual conjunction, seizing on those parts that seemed to support your thesis, while dismissing things you don’t understand as “tautology” or “a distinction without a difference.” This seems to me to epitomize the difference between the scientific approach–trying to seek more information–and the denialist approach–picking out the little bits that support your own biases, and looking for excuses to dismiss or ignore the rest.

    Having consulted them, I now believe that he is trying unsuccessfully to imply some relevant difference between ‘projection’ and its synonyms ‘prediction’ and ‘forecasting’.

    I thought that he made the distinction quite clear. I imagine that your problem was that you were trying to impose your own biases rather than reading what he said. In science, it is not unusual for familiar words to be used as terms of art with meanings more specific than their colloquial meanings, or that rely on subtleties of connotation that may not be explained in a dictionary, so words that are nearly synonymous in common usage often have very different meanings in a scientific context. It was quite obvious from my reading of the passage that he is using “projection” to refer to an outcome theoretically extrapolated from a particular set of assumptions or parameters (which may or may not apply in the real world), while he is using “prediction” to refer to the most likely outcome in the real world. This strikes me as a highly meaningful distinction. For example, as he points out, one can make a projection of global climate based upon a hypothetical emissions scenario, but to make a prediction you have to come up with some idea of what the emissions will actually be.

    The report shows the change as projected … sure that’s not conditional at all. He not only refuses to offer his own judgement here, he doesn’t even express confidence that the rate of change corresponds to the case. Gee, sorry that I actually understand the words he’s chosen to use rather than assuming what he must intend.

    Once again, you are struggling to read into his comments some sort of skepticism regarding the major conclusions of the IPCC, which is not there at all. The point of his article is not to offer his own judgement about what virtually everybody, including him, regards as settled science–that dangerously rapid climate change is resulting from human activity and that emissions controls and other actions are urgently required to mitigate this–but rather to offer his perspective as to the areas where more detailed understanding is needed.

    Look, if there is really some way that this is all coherent please take a shot at making a concise statement of how, but try and do so without insulting my motives for wanting to know and for refusing to accept irrelevant and illogical arguments such as you’ve offered to date.

    I think the confusion is entirely in your own mind, because you are having difficulty seeing past your own biases to what he is actually saying. But since you asked for a summary…

    1. He agrees with the IPCC that human activity is causing rapid global warming.
    2. He agrees that mitigation in the form of emissions reduction is urgently needed.
    3. He believes that even with such measures, we will experience unprecedented rapid climate change, which is likely to result in regionally catastrophic outcomes, such as fires, floods, droughts, and storms.
    4. To mitigate these consequences, we need to be able to predict them.
    5. While current models work well for projecting global climate change, they are very limited for making the kinds of predictions that he feels will be needed, in that make only very limited predictions regarding regional weather, and to the extent that they do make such predictions, they are not highly reliable.
    6. More research is needed to be able to reliably make such predictions.

  58. #58 z
    December 22, 2007

    “Moreover looking at things in a Dow Jones context would be like looking at regional temperatures.”

    D’oh!!! (Banging forehead on desk, weeping)

  59. #59 z
    December 22, 2007

    “I didn’t know there were other writings of his to consult for clarification of this essay. Now I do. ”

    Well, thank you for sharing your ignorance and intellectual apathy/laziness with those of us who lack them.

  60. #60 Marion Delgado
    December 22, 2007

    If it comes down to a choice between ending the human race and ending the existence of the bloodsucking parasitic capitalist sociopaths like Jc, I certainly know where I stand – so be it, indeed!

  61. #61 Kevin
    December 23, 2007

    Boris:

    >The IPCC does not attempt to predict volcanoes. If we have two major volcanoes in the next five years, the models will look very, very wrong.

    No they won’t. Because if you can plug in the emissions from the volcanoes and find the model result corresponds to the actual result, you will have confirmed the accuracy of your ‘projection’. I don’t get this. Who in the world has ever claimed that random happenstance changes which lie outside the ceteris paribus assumptions of a given prediction make that prediction meaningless? Yes, they can make the prediction wrong, but so what? It’s still a prediction whether it happens or not. You’re trying to avoid some imagined rhetorical victory for your “opponents” and making a hash of a very simple issue. If I project temp. increase A for given conditions X,Y,Z, and it happens just that way, how does this differ from any other successful ‘prediction’ in science? Are any predictions in scientific study today made without specifying conditions under which the observations takes place?

    >Then, people like Kevin will say “look how wrong the models were!” even though we would know nothing more about the estimates of climate sensitivity.

    1) Neither Ash, nor Trenberth, stick with what you are asserting is a “term of art” consistently, both mentioning ‘predictions’ of warming in a manner consistent with their use of ‘projections’. Please state specifically how a projection with some defined amount of CO2 emissions differs from a prediction made under ceteris paribus assumptions.

    2) My objection to the models is not that CO2 output is variable. My objection is that testing their accuracy on the scale of the decades or centuries for which they are forecasting results is not supported by empirical verification that are accurate at all.

    Trenberth states that we don’t have quite a bit of relevant knowledge of physical processes on Earth, which I thought what how the models operated, by taking a bunch of assumptions about physical climate processes plugging in some values for the variables and then forecasting the results from that.

    3) As far as prognostication goes, how will peak oil affect emissions? Do IPCC models account for technological advance resulting in decreased GHGs? Mitigation efforts already occurring in the status quo?

  62. #62 Kevin
    December 23, 2007

    Trrll:

    >While current models work well for projecting global climate change

    What does this mean? They work well for what purpose? They are forecasting climate change scenarios that will occur decades and centuries in the future.

  63. #63 Kevin
    December 23, 2007

    >Well, thank you for sharing your ignorance and intellectual apathy/laziness with those of us who lack them.

    Thanks for implying that attempting to analyze a work as it stands without consulting the whole of an author’s body of work is nothing you’d ever do. That alone lets me know how much to value your statements.

  64. #64 trrll
    December 24, 2007

    Neither Ash, nor Trenberth, stick with what you are asserting is a “term of art” consistently, both mentioning ‘predictions’ of warming in a manner consistent with their use of ‘projections’. Please state specifically how a projection with some defined amount of CO2 emissions differs from a prediction made under ceteris paribus assumptions.

    A projection is an extrapolation based upon a set of assumptions which may or may not be accurate or correspond to present conditions. A prediction is an extrapolation, taking into account current conditions and anticipated future conditions as accurately as possible, preferably with some sort of indication of statistical reliability. So all predictions are projections but not all projections are predictions.

    My objection to the models is not that CO2 output is variable. My objection is that testing their accuracy on the scale of the decades or centuries for which they are forecasting results is not supported by empirical verification that are accurate at all.

    That may be your objection, but it is not Trenberth’s. Much of your confusion regarding what Trenberth wrote is clearly because you are struggling to put your objections into Trenberth’s mouth, and they don’t fit. Trenberth has made it quite clear that he regards the empirical verification as convincing with respect to the ability to predict the effect of CO2 upon global climate trends, but believes that more research is needed to provide accurate predictions of the impact, particularly at the regional level, of the consequences of global warming with respect to fires, floods, droughts, storms.

    Trenberth states that we don’t have quite a bit of relevant knowledge of physical processes on Earth, which I thought what how the models operated, by taking a bunch of assumptions about physical climate processes plugging in some values for the variables and then forecasting the results from that.

    This is yet another version of the “we don’t know everything so we don’t know anything” argument. Trenberth’s point is that we know enough to predict global climate trends, but not enough to predict local consequences.

    As far as prognostication goes, how will peak oil affect emissions? Do IPCC models account for technological advance resulting in decreased GHGs? Mitigation efforts already occurring in the status quo?

    Why don’t you actually read the IPCC report and find out?

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