Climate Change: Do you feel lucky?

Comments

  1. #1 cynicus
    November 3, 2010

    Tim, there’s a typo in the name Lewandowsky…

  2. #2 ben
    November 3, 2010

    You would opt for the laser surgery because you know that it can prevent blindness, even though most of us personally don’t understand the details of how a laser does its magic. But it’s not just you and me who don’t understand how lasers work; physicists don’t understand all aspects of the quantum mechanics that underlie laser technology. Their knowledge of lasers is partial.

    That’s a really dumb example. “physicists don’t understand all aspects of the quantum mechanics that underlie laser technology.” So the hell what. We know what happens to the tissue you point the laser at well enough. Not a whole lot of uncertainty there. We’ve repeated the procedure in question millions of times with great success.

    This example is very much unlike our understanding of climate change, with which we have no reliable, repeatable, way to test the outcome of different GHG scenarios. There is no ground truth, and that’s that.

  3. #3 Wow
    November 3, 2010

    > We know what happens to the tissue you point the laser at well enough. Not a whole lot of uncertainty there.

    Indeed.

    The flesh… it burns!!!

    And all those warnings “Do not shine laser light into eye. Blindness will result”.

    Funnily enough, the elitist doctor with all his book learning and liberal education is believed when the consequence is on you (blindness) and he ASSURES you that this isn’t *dangerous* laser light.

  4. #4 Scott M
    November 3, 2010

    “This example is very much unlike our understanding of climate change, with which we have no reliable, repeatable, way to test the outcome of different GHG scenarios. There is no ground truth, and that’s that.”

    Right so do nothing and allow the climate itself to be the lab, even if it means flooding and famine if the experts are right. Or, act on the best available science and slash pollutants that known to be harmful in several other respects anyway (acid rain, mercury emmission, localized smog), even if the experts are wrong. Next b.s. “argument” please.

  5. #5 Wow
    November 3, 2010

    > This example is very much unlike our understanding of climate change, with which we have no reliable, repeatable, way to test the outcome of different GHG scenarios

    We have no way of testing what laser eye surgery does to people after 50 years either.

    We have no way of testing whether YOU are “unbreakable” and therefore will survive a fall out of a 10-story building other than defenestration. Can I push?

    BUT we do know the physics of gravity and impulse (obviously, by “we” I don’t mean “you”) and likewise we know about the ideal gas law and radiative physics and all these have consequences:

    You, falling to ground: SPLAT.

    Earth, gaining CO2: TOASTY.

    But for you, we have to test this earth to destruction because we can’t tell without letting AGW happen what happens when AGW happens.

    I say we have to test whether gravity and the forces of momentum transfer actually affect YOU. We’ve never tested it.

    So please let me push you out of a window. It’s the ONLY way to be sure.

  6. #6 Martin Vermeer
    November 3, 2010

    > We have no way of testing what laser eye surgery does to people
    > after 50 years either.

    Actually very true… or even 10 years. These — also the cornea sculpting using laser light — are very young techniques with, yes, lots of test cases, but no, no long time lines yet. Probably nothing bad will happen, knock wood, but we don’t know… and still people go for it, for cosmetic reasons, Hippocrates be damned.

  7. #7 Wow
    November 3, 2010

    > Probably nothing bad will happen, knock wood, but we don’t know… and still people go for it

    Because there’s money to be made and therefore you can’t diss it.

    If it cost big business money (e.g. there was a trillion-dollar-a-month prescription glasses industry at risk), then ben would be complaining about how it’s all so risky.

  8. #8 ben
    November 3, 2010

    Right so do nothing and allow the climate itself to be the lab, even if it means flooding and famine if the experts are right.

    That’s not my point. I’m simply saying that the author’s comparison examples are poor. I could put forward a dubious example from the other side and argue that our understanding of the climate is like our understanding of the economy. We have all sorts of science and models for both, but our understanding of both is less than ideal. And for both, we can do all sorts of things to try to affect the process, but we’ll never know either would have turned out had we done things differently.

  9. #9 ben
    November 3, 2010

    …even if it means flooding and famine if the experts are right.

    OK, well how about if it turns out to mean flooding and famine if the experts are wrong?

  10. #10 Wow
    November 3, 2010

    > OK, well how about if it turns out to mean flooding and famine if the experts are wrong?

    Wrong about what?

    Expert: Look out, it could flood if we keep burning fossil fuels.
    Ben: What if it turns out the experts are wrong and we have flooding?
    World: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    > That’s not my point. I’m simply saying that the author’s comparison examples are poor.

    Yes, you’re definitely *saying* it. What you lack is any coherent reason for saying so with the expectation that you may be right to say it.

    > And for both, we can do all sorts of things to try to affect the process, but we’ll never know either would have turned out had we done things differently.

    So jump out the window already. It’s never been tested if gravity and compression affects ben.

  11. #11 JamesA
    November 3, 2010

    > And for both, we can do all sorts of things to try to affect the process, but we’ll never know either would have turned out had we done things differently.

    Yes we will. All the available science shows that if we hadn’t emitted all that CO2, the lower atmosphere’s temperature wouldn’t be rising like it is now. Just because you don’t understand how the earth’s climate works, doesn’t mean the experts don’t.

    > OK, well how about if it turns out to mean flooding and famine if the experts are wrong?

    Like how exactly? If you’re going down that line of unsubstantiated thinking, why not just ask what we do if aliens invade or something?

  12. #12 Paul UK
    November 3, 2010

    Ben:
    >So the hell what. We know what happens to the tissue you point the laser at well enough. Not a whole lot of uncertainty there. We’ve repeated the procedure in question millions of times with great success.

    Ha, in one swoop you failed to get the point.

    Incomplete knowledge doesn’t prevent its successful use.

  13. #13 ben
    November 3, 2010

    JamesA, please read the entire comment for context. Scott M wrote:

    …even if it means flooding and famine if the experts are right.

    To which I replied

    OK, well how about if it turns out to mean flooding and famine if the experts are wrong?

    Why do I have to substantiate the thinking here if ScottM doesn’t have to first? He started that dumb line of reasoning, I was merely pointing out that it was dumb and unsubstantiated.

    Some of you can be awfully dense.

  14. #14 Ben S
    November 3, 2010

    I hate it when people with my name make fools of themselves. For the record, gravity works on me. =)

  15. #15 DavidCOG
    November 3, 2010

    Shorter ben: “I don’t understand the science, so no one else does.”

    ben, here’s one example of opinion from experts:

    – American Physical Society: “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. … The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

    You can find similar position statements from *every* national science academy of *every* industrialised country on the planet along with near-100% of climate scientists.

    What do you think is more likely? The planet’s climate scientists are all wrong, confused or lying? Or ben of the internet is?

    There are many excellent sources where you can educate yourself – here’s a starter: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

  16. #16 ben
    November 3, 2010

    I hate it when people with my name make fools of themselves.

    Ungh! Is that the best you got? Well, my dad can beat up your dad, so there.

    The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.

    I have little problem with this statement. On the other hand, the following statement:

    If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur.

    is problematic. We’ll never really know how things would turn out if draconian steps were taken by the world to reduce GHG’s because these steps will never be taken. The actual experiment that would prove decisively one way or another cannot be run because there is only one earth and hence no control case.

    For all you posting idiotic comments above, what happens to one person falling out of a 10 story building is similar enough to what happens to anyone else, and you know this. On the other hand, there is no way to run the experiment for GHG/global warming consequences with a control case, and that’s that. And don’t tell me this isn’t important. Control cases are used extensively in scientific investigation for situations in which we have better understanding than AGW.

  17. #17 adelady
    November 3, 2010

    Uncertainty. I’m sure I’ve said this before but the formats for certainty should be shown differently. The “expert judgment” should be described as scientific theory or similar. The research is evidence.

    Scientific understanding and evidence / research.

    So for GHGs affecting temperatures, science 99.9% certainty, evidence 95%. SLR rate increasing, science 95+%, research 95%. Birds losing range, science 90%, evidence 90%. Crops potentially damaged 90%, research 85% and so on.

    And those numbers are _exactly_ _precisely_ right.
    ‘Cos I said so.

  18. #18 Chris O'Neill
    November 3, 2010

    ben:

    climate change, with which we have no reliable, repeatable, way to test the outcome of different GHG scenarios.

    That shortcoming in our tests is currently being addressed. We will know everything we want to sooner or later.

  19. #19 ben
    November 3, 2010

    Chris, I don’t understand your point with that graph and how it applies to what I wrote. Please explain if you have time.

  20. #20 frankis
    November 3, 2010

    The uncontrolled experiment that’s being run, of course, is the burning of fossil fuels. That has raised CO2 in the atmosphere from a long term high of 280ppm to the present ~390ppm in less than two hundred years, with consequences. _That_ is the uncontrolled experiment, on the only known living planet in the universe, that only fools would persist with.

    Idiots like ben otoh have good friends in the know who are right now poised to replace our coal burning with clean, green, economic fusion power – right ben?

  21. #21 James Haughton
    November 3, 2010

    Major technological development: an anti-denialist chatbot!
    http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/25964/?p1=A3
    I suggest Tim unleashes the chatbot in the various hammer-and-tongs thread (Brent thread, Tim Curtin thread, etc).

  22. #22 ben
    November 3, 2010

    Do you have a particular problem with fusion power, frankis?

    Right, we have an uncontrolled experiment going on, from which we can verify… nothing. So what is your point exactly?

  23. #23 Michael
    November 4, 2010

    Ben, that is the point.

    Gee, “you can be awfully dense”.

  24. #24 frankis
    November 4, 2010

    I’d like fusion power and World Peace for Xmas thanks ben. Oh a carbon tax too please – i’ve been good!

  25. #25 Chris O'Neill
    November 4, 2010

    ben:

    Right, we have an uncontrolled experiment going on, from which we can verify… nothing. So what is your point exactly?

    It will verify everything we want to know sooner or later. It’s a good experiment because it will provide the verifications just when we need them, won’t it ben?

  26. #26 JamesA
    November 4, 2010

    >Why do I have to substantiate the thinking here if ScottM doesn’t have to first? He started that dumb line of reasoning, I was merely pointing out that it was dumb and unsubstantiated.

    It’s neither dumb nor unsubstantiated. There’s plenty of research out there (from both observations and theory) to say that a warmer world will be a more uncomfortable place to live in for an awful lot of people (AR4 WG2 is a good place to start). I’m not aware of anything credible that says mitigating climate change would somehow make the environment worse compared to now. If you know of something, I invite you to share it.

  27. #27 Wow
    November 4, 2010

    > Why do I have to substantiate the thinking here if ScottM doesn’t have to first?

    Scott’s thinking has been substantiated first.

    Have a look at the IPCC reports.

    Why is it the deniers can freely say “you’re wrong” but when asked to prove it, say “you have to prove YOU right first!” which means ignoring any and all proofs given (often by screaming “COMPUTER MODEL!!!!”)?

    It’s rather like their version of the precautionary principle: since they are currently burning fossil fuels, the principle of “do nothing if you don’t know the consequences” becomes “continue burning oil” as opposed to “not burn it”.

  28. #28 ben
    November 4, 2010

    It will verify everything we want to know sooner or later. It’s a good experiment because it will provide the verifications just when we need them, won’t it ben?

    Without a control case, it will verify zilch.

  29. #29 ben
    November 4, 2010

    It’s rather like their version of the precautionary principle: since they are currently burning fossil fuels, the principle of “do nothing if you don’t know the consequences” becomes “continue burning oil” as opposed to “not burn it”.

    I wrote no such thing. In fact, I merely pointed out that the examples in the article were weak. Also, Wow, it seems you are arguing in favor of AGW. I am NOT arguing against this. ScottM was claiming without evidence that AGW = doom and gloom. I merely countered with the unsupported supposition that doing something about AGW = doom and gloom, and asked “what if this supposition is correct?”

  30. #30 ben
    November 4, 2010

    I guess it’s not all your fault. It’s funny that you people have been conditioned in this way by AGW deniers, so that when anyone posits something you disagree with you immediately start arguing in favor of AGW. I could probably start arguing about 1% milk vs 2$ milk and people here would write stuff like

    Why is it the deniers can freely say “you’re wrong” but when asked to prove it, say “you have to prove YOU right first!” which means ignoring any and all proofs given (often by screaming “COMPUTER MODEL!!!!”)?

  31. #31 Wow
    November 4, 2010

    ben, we disagree with you BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG.

    Hell, would you be complaining that we were unfairly disagreeing with your idea that 1+1=Mango???

    Take your piteous wailing somewhere willing to stomach it.

  32. #32 Wow
    November 4, 2010

    > Without a control case, it will verify zilch.

    > Posted by: ben

    Why? We don’t let people die from Malaria so we can see the control case.

    Well, obviously, YOU would, ben, but humans wouldn’t.

  33. #33 Hank Roberts
    November 4, 2010

    Remember, reading folks like zilch, er, Ben, is a choice, not an obligation (if you’re using Firefox and Killfile)
    http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/4107

  34. #34 dhogaza
    November 4, 2010

    “I could probably start arguing about 1% milk vs 2$ milk and people here would write stuff like…”

    write stuff like … comparing percentages with dollars is like comparing apples with oranges?

    Maybe there is a certain lack of critical thinking skills on your part, ben …

  35. #35 ben
    November 4, 2010

    ben, we disagree with you BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG.

    If you say so, but I’m arguing about outcomes of global warming, and you are arguing about the existence of AGW. For example, you state above:

    which means ignoring any and all proofs given (often by screaming “COMPUTER MODEL!!!!”)?

    Who screamed anything about computer models? Why would I get to that point unless I was arguing for/against AGW? You might want to try just a smidge harder, you’re making Tim look bad. Tim is a serious scientist and he never writes anything that stupid. You might want to learn from his example.

    Why? We don’t let people die from Malaria so we can see the control case.

    Seriously? Do you not know that millions of people have died from Malaria? What need is there for an experiment to test the claim that Malaria causes death? On the other hand, I wouldn’t believe you if you claimed to have a drug that could prevent 1% of malaria deaths without some controlled experiments.

    What’s your problem, Hank? I am not an AGW “denialist.” Can’t you take any arguments contrary to yours, or are you here just to slap each other on the back. As above, take Tim as an example. He’s always been respectful to me and I to him and most of you. I know that there are some real dingbats here on “my” side, but please don’t lump me in with them.

  36. #36 Holly Stick
    November 4, 2010

    ben, why don’t you postulate a specific form of doom and gloom that might eventuate from a specific attempt to mitigate the effects of AGW? Vague generalizations are a waste of time.

  37. #37 ben
    November 4, 2010

    Holly Stick, did you read above where ScottM made the first generalization which I countered with my own generalization. That vague generalizations are a waste of time. WAS MY POINT! Do you not have a problem with his generalization? Is this only a forum for yes men?

  38. #38 Holly Stick
    November 4, 2010

    Scott’s comments at #4 are not so vague: “…Right so do nothing and allow the climate itself to be the lab, even if it means flooding and famine if the experts are right…”

    Since the scientists predict generally that wet areas will get wetter, then floods are likely to increase. See also Pakistan this year. Famine is highly likely to increase as a result of global warming, since local climates are likely to become less stable and thus have more crop failures. I expect the Canadian prairies and the US plains to dry up into deserts where there are good croplands now.

    Can you come up with a plausible scenario where AGW does NOT lead to more flooding and famine?

  39. #39 Chris O'Neill
    November 4, 2010

    ben:

    It will verify everything we want to know sooner or later. It’s a good experiment because it will provide the verifications just when we need them, won’t it ben?

    Without a control case, it will verify zilch.

    Control cases are not always necessary for verfication, e.g. if I do tests on an electric motor then I don’t need another motor running beside it as a control case. As regards performing tests on the earth, you appear to have no problem with performing potentially destructive tests to find out if they are desctructive.

  40. #40 ben
    November 4, 2010

    Control cases are not always necessary for verfication, e.g. if I do tests on an electric motor then I don’t need another motor running beside it as a control case.

    Come on people! The engine is it’s own control as you can run many scenarios on the same engine. You cannot do this with the earth/climate system.

  41. #41 Ken Fabos
    November 4, 2010

    Experiments are done all the time without controls running in parallel and the one currently being done on planet Earth is showing a clear correspondence between the relative concentrations of atmospheric gases and the net energy balance. Ben, your argument is crap.

    Back to the original article, it was a good one but the reality is most people will take their lead from the mainstream media and the voices they give prominence to. I’d like to think our elected representatives will take the scientific advice at their disposal seriously. Even (if ignorant enough to be that much in doubt), ask the Security and Intelligence services about evidence of conspiracies or widespread data manipulation. They might get a run-down on a conspiracy to convince people that climate science is crap funded by powerful, rich vested interests but they won’t get one on any conspiracy manufacturing a climate issue that doesn’t have real basis in science.

    The simple truth is the climate isn’t as beyond human power to change as age old orthodoxy has said; CO2 really does matter to climate and we’ve been adding it to the atmosphere at a prodigious rate. There are consequences.

  42. #42 dhogaza
    November 4, 2010

    Come on people! The engine is it’s own control as you can run many scenarios on the same engine. You cannot do this with the earth/climate system.

    Umm, it’s called history … and pre-history …

    Many different scenarios have been run on this ‘ole engine of ours. True, in a perfect world we would be able to recreate scenarios with the same accuracy as we are today with the instrumental temperature record, satellite telemetry, etc.

    But, it’s not as though we’re without any clue as to past conditions on earth, past solar forcing, Milankovich cycles over time, CO2 concentrations, etc.

  43. #43 JamesA
    November 5, 2010

    > Come on people! The engine is it’s own control as you can run many scenarios on the same engine. You cannot do this with the earth/climate system.

    True, we can’t do repeated experiments with the entire system (the ‘experiment’ currently being performed is a one-off process that takes centuries). But does that mean we should ignore offhand what we know about the climate system? Most definitely not. It would be fantastic if we could ensure the future through a combination of wilful ignorance and optimism, but it just doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.

  44. #44 ben
    November 6, 2010

    But does that mean we should ignore offhand what we know about the climate system?

    Obviously not! I never claimed anything of the sort. I never claimed that AGW was not a reality. I only made one statement: THAT THE GIVEN EXAMPLES WERE A LITTLE ON THE WEAK SIDE FOR WHAT THEY WANTED TO SHOW. BFD!!! Why is everyone getting so stressed out about this?!!???!!!!???!!!!!!!!!

  45. #45 Wow
    November 10, 2010

    No, ben, you didn’t show that. You weren’t even trying to show it and plenty of people have shown how that new claim IN CAPS (which is a sure sign of a cogent argument, yeah?) is wrong.

    We don’t understand quantum physics, yet laser pointers work.

    We don’t understand the effects of lasers yet use them to cut up people’s eyes and yet people STILL LINE UP for treatment.

    We don’t understand cloud dynamics, yet climate models produce work adequate to make decisions.

    We don’t understand cloud dynamics, yet people like you ben assert that clouds will save us a catastrophe.

    The analogies are perfectly congruent. You just don’t like them.

  46. #46 ben
    November 10, 2010

    We don’t understand cloud dynamics, yet people like you ben assert that clouds will save us a catastrophe.

    You are a liar. Where did I assert any such thing?

  47. #47 Chris O'Neill
    November 10, 2010

    ben:

    THAT THE GIVEN EXAMPLES WERE A LITTLE ON THE WEAK SIDE FOR WHAT THEY WANTED TO SHOW. BFD!!! Why is everyone getting so stressed out about this?!!???!!!!???!!!!!!!!!

    I wonder who’s getting so stressed out.

  48. #48 ben
    November 10, 2010

    That’d be me, it’s true, some of you can be pretty damn frustrating at times.

  49. #49 Chris O'Neill
    November 10, 2010

    That’d be me, it’s true,

    Took a while for you to realize. Just like most things.

  50. #50 Wow
    November 11, 2010

    ben you’re a moron.

    “there’s no ground truth”?

    [Wrong](http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif)

    “We know what happens to the tissue you point the laser at well enough”

    [Doesn’t seem to be safe](http://www.physics.gla.ac.uk/Optics/laserSafety/) so why are we shining it in the eyes of people???

    “we have no reliable, repeatable, way to test the outcome of different GHG scenarios.”

    We don’t have a way to reliably test the outcome of different (or no) laser surgery on the same eye. Doesn’t seem to stop us using laser eye surgery.

    “You are a liar. Where did I assert any such thing?”

    You are an idiot and a liar. Where did I assert you asserted it?

    ben, you’re a moron. Stop posting unless you like the abuse.

  51. #51 Wow
    November 11, 2010

    > Why is everyone getting so stressed out about this?!!???!!!!???!!!!!!!!!

    > Posted by: ben | November 6, 2010 2:07 AM

    then:

    > I wonder who’s getting so stressed out.

    > Posted by: Chris O’Neill | November 10, 2010 5:20 PM

    Then ben again:

    > That’d be me, it’s true, some of you can be pretty damn frustrating at times.

    > Posted by: ben | November 10, 2010 6:21 PM

    So, ben, why did you ask why everyone is getting stressed out when

    a) it was you, not everyone

    b) why ask us why you’re getting stressed out?

  52. #52 ben
    November 12, 2010

    You are an idiot and a liar. Where did I assert you asserted it?

    Seriously? Wow, I quoted your dishonest assertion just before I called you a liar. Are you blind?

    Your supposed ground truth is not. You have no ground truth to show what will happen under different GHG scenarios. That was a pitiful attempt.

    We don’t have a way to reliably test the outcome of different (or no) laser surgery on the same eye.

    That’s the best you can do?

  53. #53 Wow
    November 15, 2010

    > I quoted your dishonest assertion

    What? This:

    > We don’t understand cloud dynamics, yet people like you ben assert that clouds will save us a catastrophe.

    People like you, ben.

    You’re a moron, ben and an idiot.

  54. #54 Wow
    November 15, 2010

    PS I notice you haven’t corrected yourself on the “no ground truth” and “Lasers in the eyes are safe” mantras.

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