For the whingers

I seem to have commenters who think I should read more CA, or Watty, or RP Sr, or misc other exciting stuff (I’m sure RP Sr loves being lumped in with that lot). Anyway, my response is, why? None of them, that I can see, have anything half as interesting as this or this or this. And Jules’ pix are good, too.

So in future, if you want to tell me that I really really ought to read such and such a blog: please tell me why. And please include a link to one of their posts that is at least somewhere in the running to being as interesting as one of the above.

Ah, I can’t just leave you with that. Take this cartoon too:

courtesy of Bart. Who takes a dig at the “skeptics” (yes I know: I’m just winding you up. Don’t bother respond).

[Update: James reprimands me for not plugging Jules’s pix. Its a fair cop guv, wo here is one:

I like that one, though on further reflection the asymmetrical clipping of the bowl is irritating. Anyway, over you go; there are mountains and Japan and stuff -W]

[Update: CT on why contrarians shouldn’t whinge (ht: neverendingaudit -W]

Comments

  1. #1 dhogaza
    2010/06/12

    CA, or Watty, or RP Sr, or misc other exciting stuff (I’m sure RP Sr loves being lumped in with that lot).

    RP Sr is in some sense Watts’ sponsor, you’re not aware of that? Got Watts name on a published paper (along with a bunch of other people), was apparently the inspiration for the surface stations project, etc.

  2. #2 Paul Kelly
    2010/06/12

    So, now you dare link to actual science! Can you put any of it into layman’s terms?

    [You want to ask James about his stuff, really -W]

    Any interest in reading this Hulme/Mahoney piece on the IPCC?

    [Definitely interesting, thanks. I’m not sure I agree with Hulme’s perspective, though. Stuff like For example, Kandlikar and Sagar (1999) examined the IPCC First and Second Assessment Reports with respect to the participation of Indian expertise and found the participation “heavily skewed in favour of some industrialised countries” (p.134). I agree that there are certainly more folk from the West in IPCC WGI – but that is no surprise, that simply represents the balance of scientists. Hulme’s reported critique is meaningless unless “skewed” in interpreted – is this “skewed” as in per-population, or per-GDP (in which case I think it is silly) or in per-science0impact (in which case I think it is likely wrong)? And as for Saloranta (2001) and Yamineva (2010) both approach the question of the governance and operation of the IPCC through the lens of post-normal science – I just don’t care -W]

  3. #3 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/13

    William,

    Thanks for the cartoon because an easy target like that makes it a lot easier to focus criticism.

    Responding to your comments on the previous thread, I don’t know whether the Johnston paper makes “original” points but I also don’t think it really matters.

    [Hold on, don’t skip over this so lightly. You said he made original points. It isn’t easy to have a conversation if whenever you’re challenged on something you quietly back away from it. Before writing stuff you need to actually think about it and consider whether it is true or not -W]

    I have found there the clearest articulation of what I think is the correct rejoinder to arguments like, “It doesn’t matter if the science turns out to be partially wrong because decarbonisation of the global economy will lead to a better, safer world” (your cartoon) OR “Even if the science could be wrong, we should act now as though it is right, just in case” (A very common Green response), OR specifically, the famous Stephen H. Schneider position, (literal quotation follows), “…we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest”, i.e. we know the science is uncertain, and we must hide this from the public and policymakers because decarbonisation will never happen whilst policymakers are allowed to know of doubts.

    [First of all, none of those are IPCC points. Second, as JM points out – you’ve been fooled. You’ve been fed an incomplete Schneider quote. I’ve restored the full quote {1]. For someone who climas to be so concerned about BLP issues, this is a very major failing on your part, and you need to ponder how come you’ve been so fooled. Your and we must hide this from the public and policymakers Is clear – well, libel, effectively – and if I were to do this to S Fred on wiki you’d be complaining bitterly. The question you need to ask yourself – and answer here – is how come you came to have your opinion formed by a deliberately truncated quote? I don’t think *you* truncated it deliberately – I think you are acting in good faith, but you can’t actually act corrected because your sources of information are poisonned. Perhaps you got it from one of the “skeptic” blogs you are so keen to have me read? -W]

    Before continuing, I disclaim that I take you, based on your association with RealClimate and your views in Wikipedia, to be a proponent of the Schneider view. You’re free to swear off that view if you like, but if so I’d ask, how is your position different?

    [As above: I subscribe to the full, not the truncated view: Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both. Now that your rhetorical trick has collapsed in a heap – how are you going to rescue yourself? -W]

    Now Johnston writes (p. 9):

    “Perhaps the most straightforward justification for this rhetorical stance is that the IPCC’s job is to assess the science – to adjudicate whatever disputes or disagreements may exist in the literature — and to then make a decision as to which side is most likely correct. Having made such a decision about which is the “best” science currently available, and in particular decided that there is “unequivocal” evidence that anthropogenic ghg emissions have caused recent global warming, the IPCC’s job is then to present that science in as persuasive a way as possible. Especially when potentially planet-saving policy responses are on the line, to present the science in a way that instead highlights questions and uncertainties would be to encourage doubt and potentially
    harmful delay in adopting policies to reduce ghg emissions.”

    [That text is so badly broken I’m amazed you didn’t spot it. For example Perhaps the most straightforward justification for this rhetorical stance is that the IPCC’s job is to assess the science – to adjudicate whatever disputes or disagreements may exist in the literature — and to then make a decision as to which side is most likely correct. is completely wrong. That is a lawyer with zero understanding of science talking. There are no “sides” in climate science.

    Also, he has badly misrepresented IPCC. Again, you really should be familiar with this stuff – it is the “headline quote” – and so should J. I can’t believe this is an accidental error by him; this is deliberate misrepresentation.

    What AR4 actually said was stuff like: The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the TAR, leading to very high confidence[7] that the global average net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m–2 (see Figure SPM.2). {2.3, 6.5, 2.9}

    The “unequivocal” occurs in [2]: Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level (see Figure SPM.3). {3.2, 4.2, 5.5} -W]
    -W]

    Here’s the crucial paragraph:

    “The problem with this justification is that the optimal policy to adopt with respect to reductions in anthropogenic ghg emissions itself depends upon a fine, rather than coarse-grained understanding of the state of scientific understanding. The more certain and immediate is the threatened harm from continuing increases in anthropogenic ghg emissions, the more will the cost-benefit policy calculus tip in favor of very expensive,
    immediate and irreversible policy commitments to ghg emission reduction (and also, although often overlooked, to adaptation investments). The more questionable is the magnitude, timing and even existence of harm from continuing increases in human ghg emissions, the greater the case for policies toward ghg emission reduction that are less costly in the short run and more easily reversible in the long run. If policymakers are to craft the correct policy, then they must understand the nature of the threat posed. The rhetorical strategy that has come to dominate establishment climate science is not designed to promote such fine-grained understanding; it is designed instead to convince the public of what some, but by no means all, climate scientists have come to believe by conveying a very scary and also very simple picture of the state of the science. Such coarse understanding leads to a very coarse policy prescription: “Do something, anything, now!” Such a policy prescription justifies virtually any policy, however costly or inefficient, that can plausibly be argued to lead to ghg emission reductions at some point in the future.”

    [But as I’ve shown, the problem is that J has completely misread what IPCC actually said. The idea that they are conveying a “very scary and also very simple picture of the state of the science” is completely wrong. It is not possible to arrive at this [J’s] view if you actually read the IPCC report – you yourself should try it sometime; maybe just the SPM, it isn’t that big. So it becomes clear that J must be getting his view of IPCC from someone else, not direct experience. Evidence suggests that it is the septics who are influencing him -W]

    My question, do you agree or disagree with the basic proposition that a course-grained presentation and/or understanding of the scientific reality can only lead to a coarse-grained prescription of policy.

    [I disagree that the question has any relevance; the IPCC report provides a fine-grained description of the science. J hasn’t read it, so doesn’t know. If you want to see coarse-grained science, then the blogs you recommended are fine examples -W]

    Best,
    Alex

  4. #4 John Mashey
    2010/06/13

    Alex: regarding the Schneider quote:

    a) You have done the classic misquote-by-omission of the sentence immediately following that.

    Did you do that yourself, or just quote it from somewhere else, and if so, where?

    Interestingly, the full quote and comments around it *were* there in Wikipedia, February 2010, but got disappeared on March 18, 2010, as Stephen’s page got whacked in half. I guess somebody didn’t want the full quote visible.

  5. #5 Tony Sidaway
    2010/06/13

    I’m no longer in the business of editing Wikipedia’s articles on climate change, but I trust that those involved in this thread who have discussed problematic content pertaining to a living person will cooperate to fix it swiftly.

    [ah, you should come back. And don’t forget to join in the Arbcomm fun -W]

  6. #6 Eli Rabett
    2010/06/13

    The cartoon expresses Eli’s opinion in the 1990s, but 15 years have brought us to the point where we must start to take actions that do not fall into the no regrets category to meet the threats from man made climate change.

    In essence the time was wasted because of the paid employees of the denial industry such as Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Willie Soon, and oh yes, their departed colleagues William Nierenberg and Fred Seitz. (Before you start telling Eli that they did it out of the goodness of their hearts go read Oreskes or Rabett Run).

    Soon enough, in thirty or so years, when your kids are grown and the really bad stuff starts to hit the fan, adaptation and limited (by the facts) mitigation will drive the imposition of serious limitations on our behaviors.

    The fleets of black UN electric vehicles will be on the road hunting air conditioners running more than two hours a day, and, if you are into irony, the ones who will bring the world to that sad situation will have been the Anthony Watts and Roger Pielkes who resist taking actions now.

  7. #7 Phil Hays
    2010/06/13

    http://video.hint.no/mmt201v10/osc/?vid=55

    Dr. David Barbers talk.

    The multi-year ice is decreasing, even since 2007. Ice free Arctic Ocean in summer by 2013 to 2030.

  8. #8 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/13

    William/others,

    I must admit that I was not aware until now that there was more to the famous Schneider quote.

    So with the added context it looks like he then realised he’d made a gaffe and tried to cover it up. But he still said what he said. He said, “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” If he wants to hope later on that this equals honesty, he can hope for all he likes.

    [See? Even now you can’t bring yourself to give the full quote. Before, I think you were acting in bad faith. Now you’re not. You’ve been fooled by the septics; and they’ve now sucked you in so deep you can’t make it back out -W]

    You either have doubts or you don’t. If you do, you have to fully disclose them. And if you don’t, you are not being honest. I’m sorry, but it’s that simple.

    Meanwhile, I couldn’t understand much of anything you wrote in criticism of Johnston. I got immediately stuck when you asserted that there are no “sides” in climate science. That’s a really weird thing to say. Are you really trying to say there is nothing disputed at present in climate science? I doubt it, but I can’t otherwise imagine what you mean.

    [Having disputes and things not agreed on isn’t the same thing as having sides. And I’m sorry, but you’re lying: you know perfectly well that J has misquoted the IPCC, because I’ve pointed it out very clearly, but again – you’ve been sucked in, and are no longer capable of honesty -W]

    Best
    Alex

  9. #9 bigcitylib
    2010/06/13

    Hulme’s piece has the one passage floating about the deniosphere:

    “Claims such as ‘2,500 of the world’s leading scientists have reached a consensus that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate’ are disingenuous. That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields.”

    And this argument seems nitpicking. Surely , if you are working on the economics of AGW in the report, its because you accept the underslying physics and etc.

    [Actually that was one of the bits I mostly agreed with. Hulme is quite right, that the judgement is indeed reached by a few dozen experts. How could it be otherwise? Indeed, it would be very bad if it were otherwise, since no-one else is competent to do it. The others consent by silence. I’m not terribly keen on the 2,500-authors-have-reached-consenus bit; but I think it is somewhat disingenuous for Hulme to put that forward unsourced. It isn’t an IPCC claim -W]

    The rest of it comes across (after reading it twice) as pretty ho hum. IPCC isn’t doing a bad job, but could do better

    And the Post-Normal science stuff strikes me as BS; not sure at all that it can legitmately be traced back to Kuhn.

    PS. Alex Harvey is hopeless.

    [AH is having a bad time here. Here is, at bottom, decent enough, but he has been sucked deep into the septic spin machine and has lost his bearings. Hopefully after a pause for reflection he’ll realise how J et al. have fooled him and be all the better for it -W]

  10. #10 Tony Sidaway
    2010/06/13

    I’m not as pessimistic as Eli. If a sense of urgency is lacking in policy-making now it’s not because of uncertainty about the consequences of failing to act, but rather because of disagreement on how to apportion the response. That’s what made the Copenhagen talks such a mess–the “Climategate” nonsense had no impact, except perhaps giving the Saudi delegate a talking point.

    A few blogs and some newspapers are still misleading their readers (of those doing so, ironically Climate Audit is the one with the least bad reputation) but they’re outweighed by the higher quality blogs and newspapers, which of course are more influential because they aren’t tainted by irrationality. That’s how it’s always worked. That’s why people like me seeking information on climate change go to those sources of reliable information, and not to the likes of Climate Audit. I cannot trust a source that lacks scientific literacy and insists on imparting a political spin to reports of the mainstream position.

  11. #11 Bart Verheggen
    2010/06/13

    Eli’s point, that “we must start to take actions that do not fall into the no regrets category to meet the threats from man made climate change.” is one that I also tried to express in my exchange with Keith Kloor and Lucia
    (http://www.collide-a-scape.com/2010/06/11/bridging-the-climate-divide/)

    [I’d tend to agree with that (though the “response” side isn’t my strong suite). Please don’t interpret the cartoon to imply that I think no-regrets is all we need. Ironically, RP Jr provides a nice examples of some no-regrets stuff we could do here: phase out fossil-fuel subsidies. Not that its a new idea; the Economist has been saying it for years W]

  12. #12 Rattus Norvegicus
    2010/06/13

    One of the biggest subsidies we’ve been giving them is the limit of $75,000,000US on economic liability for spills. BP has paid out $88,000,000US at this point. They would be fools to pay out another penny. My guess is that they will drag their feet until hell freezes over or the Senate removes the cap (good luck on that one…).

  13. #13 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/14

    Bigcitylib, the difference between you and I is that people will listen to me if I express my views about climate change (I choose not to presently) whereas you can and will preach only ever to the converted. An anonymous blogger wearing an elitist (big city) far left bias (lib) as a badge of honour is to 90% of voters nothing more than the raving lunatic fringe, or green noise.

  14. #14 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/14

    William,

    –) If you still feel that the Schneider quote is a winner for your cause, then go ahead and reproduce it in full.

    [I alreadt added it back into the article. Perhaps taht will stop people like you deceptively truncating it -W]

    –) On the J and the IPCC I am not lying. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    [Sigh. Lets do this very very slowly if you’re having problems. J sais “and in particular decided that there is “unequivocal” evidence that anthropogenic ghg emissions have caused recent global warming”. As I’ve explained, that is wrong. Do you understand that? -W]

    [snip]

  15. #15 James Annan
    2010/06/14

    Yes, more links to me, please. Though you should also make clicky some of jules’ pics if they are really your 4th favourite thing ever on the intertubes :-)

    James

  16. #16 MarkB
    2010/06/14

    I find the Johnston piece to be quite boring – indeed very unoriginal extended political garbage that we’ve seen elsewhere. When one gets past the lofty rhetoric, dismissing the science as “faith-based”, calling scientists who agree with the general consensus view as “activists”, there’s nothing there to take seriously. For example…

    “Climate model projections of increases of global average surface temperature (due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2) above about 1 degree centigrade arise only because of positive feedback effects presumed by climate models;”

    “Presumed”? I suppose if one deliberately ignores all the papers that cover climate sensitivity and feedbacks, such ignorance might be expected. Here’s a chance for Johnston to enhance his bibliography.

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/papers-on-water-vapor-feedback-observations/

    http://www.iac.ethz.ch/people/knuttir/papers/knutti08natgeo.pdf

    Perhaps the most misleading part of Johnston’s paper is the notion that he’s doing an objective review of the existing peer-reviewed literature.

  17. #17 Paul Kelly
    2010/06/14

    Bart Verheggen,

    In “Bridging the climate divide”, you asserted that environment, economics and security are less compelling reasons for action than is climate. Recent events reinforce how compelling environment is and how more immediate.

    Environmental reasons for energy transformation predate concerns about climate, are more easily demonstrated and lead to policies more easily implemented.

    Using climate as the basis for policy has proven to be a hindrance to action. The result is twenty years of lost opportunity and nothing but endless talk into the future. There must be another way.

  18. #18 John Mashey
    2010/06/14

    Re: Schneider:
    1) People *really* should read APS news comment by him, p.5., as even the longer quote captures relatively little of the nuanced interview that Stephen gave. That shows how the misquote (by Julian Simon, patron saint of a certain Dane) worked, and more of the context.

    I would also recommend The Double Ethical Bind @ Stephen’s website.

    Finally, I observe that of:
    a) Articles written by X.
    b) Articles written by Y after interview with X.
    it is unwise to assume that b) got everything right, and especially included the caveats and nuances, even when teh writer is actually trying hard.

  19. #19 Phil Hays
    2010/06/15

    “I must admit that I was not aware until now that there was more to the famous Schneider quote.”

    Alex H: Here is a challenge. Once a month, take some “fact” or quote and try to track it back to the source. Do this more often if you can, of course, sometimes it can be very easy.

  20. #20 julesberry
    2010/06/15

    Dear Stoaty,

    You linked to a single photo on flickr. … Actually my pickturs are at … http://pickturs.blogspot.com/

    Please do drop by.

    love,
    jules

  21. #21 Tony Sidaway
    2010/06/15

    “Bigcitylib, the difference between you and I is that
    people will listen to me if I express my views
    about climate change”

    I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, Alex. I don’t know or care what you or Lib might think or why I should find one opinion more convincing than another. Neither of you is an opinion-former as far as I’m aware.

  22. #22 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/15

    William,

    I wrote:

    –) On the J and the IPCC I am not lying. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Of course there are “sides” in climate change science, and on a number of issues. There is, for one obvious example, a group of scientists who believe that the cloud feedback will turn out to be a negative feedback (Lindzen, Spencer and others) and those that believe that it will turn out to be positive (Su et al 2008, Pierrehumbert? others?). Or is your view that Lindzen, Spencer et al. are so outnumbered on the point that their “side” is no “side” at all?

    [First, I think your description of these people as “a group” is misleading. They aren’t. They don’t co-publish, they don’t even have the same “side”. I’m not even sure that either of them would agree with your description of their views. L certainly published an Iris paper, but I doubt even he believes that now.

    Second, even if they were more closely related I still think your, and Johnston’s, characterisation of science in terms of “sides” is wrong and indicative of a lack of understanding. J is a lawyer. His entire working life and brain has been built on an adversarial model. But that doesn’t make him right, just confused. You are not obliged to adopt his confusion -W]

    No hard feelings, but I think instead of snipping the question you should answer it.

    Meanwhile, I have contacted Prof. Johnston and he has thanked us for spotting the error in the draft (the word ‘unequivocal’ was indeed used incorrectly).

    [Since that was good, you get some credit back -W]

    Best,
    Alex

  23. #23 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/15

    John Mashey, thanks for the references regarding Schneider’s clarifications of the Discover Magazine quote. That’s much clearer.

  24. #24 Russell
    2010/06/15

    Better a kippered fish than a boiled prawn

  25. #25 John Mashey
    2010/06/16

    re: #23
    You’re welcome.
    Perhaps the context of the actual material may lead you to draw conclusions about the credibility fo the source taht provided the partial-quote.

  26. #26 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/17

    William,

    I note that above you have written, “Hulme is quite right, that the judgement [detection and attribution] is indeed reached by a few dozen experts. … no-one else is competent to do it. The others consent by silence.” It’s a good admission that we’re talking about a relatively smaller number of experts than is generally asserted in these sorts of discussions. I am going to hold you to this point (is that okay)?

    [Err, yes, I wrote what I wrote and it was accurate. I’m not sure what you mean by “these sorts of discussions” though -W]

    (Could you also clarify what you mean by “others consenting by silence”?)

    [The other IPCC authors are happy with those statements -W]

    On the “sides” in climate change science. Let me focus this a bit more then. Have you read the review paper:

    Su, H., et al. (2008), Variations of tropical upper tropospheric clouds with sea surface temperature and implications for radiative effects, J. Geophys. Res., 113, D10211, doi:10.1029/2007JD009624.

    There’s a pdf of it out there somewhere that’s pretty easy to find if you want to read it. Su and 10 or so other authors conclude that it’s unlikely — but not impossible — that cloud feedbacks will prove to be positive.

    [Do you mean http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2007JD009624.shtml ? I haven’t read it. The abstract says Our analyses do not suggest a negative correlation of tropical-mean UT cloud fraction with the cloud-weighted SST (CWT). Instead, both tropical-mean UT cloud fraction and IWC are found to increase with CWT, although their correlations with CWT are rather weak. The rate of increase of UT cloud fraction with CWT is comparable to that of precipitation, while the UT IWC and ice water path (IWP) increase more strongly with CWT. The radiative effect of UT clouds is investigated, and they are shown to provide a net warming at the top of the atmosphere. An increase of IWP with SST yields an increase of net warming that corresponds to a positive feedback which is the opposite of what you say. What are you reading to get your interpreation, or are you taking your interpreation from some other source? In which case, what is it? -W]

    There is a response to this by Lindzen’s postdoc Rondanelli and Lindzen

    Rondanelli, R., and R. S. Lindzen (2010), Comment on “Variations of tropical upper tropospheric clouds with sea surface temperature and implications for radiative effects” by H. Su et al., J. Geophys. Res., 115, D06202, doi:10.1029/2008JD011189.

    Su et al have a reponse forthcoming.

    Meanwhile Lindzen and Rondanelli have a paper in JGR using an Iris like mechanism where an hypothesis is developed to resolve the faint young sun paradox supposing negative cloud feedbacks.

    So the debate continues, and I must admit I need to catch up on this one. But we certainly have two “sides”, even if there are more authors on one side than the other.

    [No, this isn’t two “sides” over IPCC; it is two opinions on one question. If you are really going to insist that there are “sides” until all debate on climate change is stifled then I think you need to re think your terminology, which isn’t useful -W]

    This is one example of the type of dispute that is typically glossed over in the IPCC reports.

    [Argument from personal ignorance is not persuasive. Try: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch8s8-6-3-2.html and read fewer septic blogs -W]

    I can of course provide more examples.

    But why not just agree that these are real disputes, and that they’re important?

    [The discussion you provide is real, though now dormant. There are far more papers that are far more interestsing discussing the various impacts of cloud feedbacks; I’m really not sure why you choose to pull out the L stuff -W]

  27. #27 dhogaza
    2010/06/17

    Err, yes, I wrote what I wrote and it was accurate. I’m not sure what you mean by “these sorts of discussions” though

    He wants to be able to say “only a handful of scientists, not 2500 as claimed, believe XXX is true” implying the others might not.

    As opposed to “only a handful of scientists are expert enough to truly judge XXX, and the 2500 others respect those scientists and their work sufficiently to accept their judgement, and therefore agree”.

    Of course for any XXX some percentage of IPCC authors will disagree, since consensus does not imply unanimous agreement, but you get the idea.

  28. #28 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/18

    William, here are some links

    Su et al. 2008: http://yly-mac.gps.caltech.edu/ReprintsYLY/z_Bibliography_soozen/N209Su_2008.pdf

    Rondanelli and Lindzen 2010 (comments, pre publication draft): http://www.dgf.uchile.cl/~ronda/ronandlin10b.pdf

    I’ll respond in detail later.

    Best
    Alex

  29. #29 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/18

    dhogaza, I am actually happier with the second statement than the one you assumed I would like. That said, it is good that we have made a clearer distinction between the consensus of a few dozen experts and the personal beliefs of other scientists, and I am also glad that you admit that silence doesn’t necessarily imply agreement.

  30. #30 Alex Harvey
    2010/06/18

    William,

    I’ll answer all your points since I have some time:

    –) By “these sorts of discussions” I simply mean blog discussions between “skeptics” and advocates. We’re more used to reading things like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change rather than clear admissions that the ‘consensus’ itself is the work of a kernel experts.

    –) Su et al says “the opposite of what [I] say” it says; where do I get my interpretation from if not from the abstract? Well, I read the actual paper.

    E.g. “Acknowledgements: … Discussions with A. Dessler, Q. Fu, B. Lin, R. S. Lindzen, and
    R. Rondanelli were helpful.” Despite the great show of authors this is — as you say — a focussed discussion amongst a group of experts and it’s clear that Lindzen is a driving force of this research. [p. 11]”

    [Not sure what you’re saying there. You appear to be suggesting that Lindzen is a driving force of this research. [p. 11]” is part of a quote, but that doesn’t seem to be true. Nor is it “clear” why you think L is the driving force. It is one of his hobby-horses, yes, but a minor one -W]

    And on why this research continues:

    “…no consensus has been reached regarding
    whether high-altitude clouds increase or decrease with SST and whether they provide a positive or negative climate feedback. [p. 1]”

    That is, at the end of the day, the bottom line and the context for the discussion.

    [No, not really. It is a sop to those like L; and of course necessary to get their paper published: what would be the point, otherwise? -W]

    Do they argue for positive feedback? Yes. Do they regard their analysis as the last word on the matter? No. This is an important paper, and no, I didn’t find it on a skeptical blog; I found it on google scholar.

    So, no, what you said is incorrect (“I doubt even [Lindzen] believes that now”). Lindzen still considers the issue unresolved.

    [As I said: L doesn’t believe it -W]

    Also when you said, “The discussion you provide is real, though now dormant” is also incorrect; Su et al. have a reply to Lindzen in press. The debate continues, and a call from both sides is a need for better data. Johnston makes the same point: modelling studies shouldn’t be funded; funding should be directed to improving the measurements.

    [“Modelling studies shouldn’t be funded” is a deeply stupid idea. Everyone always needs better data -W]

    –) You write “Argument from personal ignorance is not persuasive. Try: http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch8s8-6-3-2.html and read fewer septic blogs”. Admittedly, I haven’t read that but from scanning it it appears that a chapter on real uncertainties has been made too difficult for any policymaker to possibly understand it. I would argue that disagreements in this chapter are hidden by the forbiddingly difficult presentation of the material. The authors are safe that no policymaker will make head or tail of that chapter.

    [Oh the poor darling diddums policymakers. Yes I agree: they are to rubbish to be able to read that stuff. But they have people capable of reading it for them; it really isn’t that hard -W]

    Not that I really want to be seen as defending the Johnston paper — which I again I mentioned in passing. But instead, to encourage discussion of the issues of dispute so that they will more quickly be resolved.

    [Pardon? Are you suggesting that discussion here of cloud feedback is going to help resolve the issue? Of course it won’t -W]

    Best
    Alex

  31. #31 MarkB
    2010/06/18

    “The authors are safe that no policymaker will make head or tail of that chapter.”

    Ummm…isn’t that what the Executive Summaries and Summary for Policymakers sections are for?

    First Alex claims the IPCC “glosses” over such details, then when that’s shown to be false, Alex claims the text is too detailed and technical for the policymaker. I await the new location of the goalposts.

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