Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Consensus science attitude

Well, Ethon knows that we have tried to curb our Boulder chip habit as per New Years Resolution, but Eli saw a comment from the Dean himself down at the bottom of a thread, the best expression of high Broderism that one could imagine in climate science

2. I am not a sea level rise expert. The most recent consensus perspective is the IPCC report. If the science has advanced since that report was done then we need to "interpolate" the IPCC. This sort of "interpolation" made good sense in the case of hurricanes and I have no objections to sea level experts doing the same thing.
We will not point out that the guy he is attacking, Jim Hansen, is a sea level rise expert (but not a glaciologist), however what is important is the assumption that any advance in the science will be an interpolation of the IPCC report, when all the evidence and even the IPCC report itself says that the outcome will be an EXTRAPOLATION from the current SPM.

• Contraction of the Greenland ice sheet is projected to continue to contribute to sea level rise after 2100. Current models suggest ice mass losses increase with temperature more rapidly than gains due to precipitation and that the surface mass balance becomes negative at a global average warming (relative to pre-industrial values) in excess of 1.9 to 4.6°C. If a negative surface mass balance were sustained for millennia, that would lead to virtually complete elimination of the Greenland ice sheet and a resulting contribution to sea level rise of about 7 m. The corresponding future temperatures in Greenland are comparable to those inferred for the last interglacial period 125,000 years ago, when paleoclimatic information suggests reductions of polar land ice extent and 4 to 6 m of sea level rise. {6.4, 10.7}

• Dynamical processes related to ice flow not included in current models but suggested by recent observations could increase the vulnerability of the ice sheets to warming, increasing future sea level rise. Understanding of these processes is limited and there is no consensus on their magnitude. {4.6, 10.7}

• Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall. However, net loss of ice mass could occur if dynamical ice discharge dominates the ice sheet mass balance. {10.7}

There has been a great deal of discussion about why the Republicans in the US reject climate science (ear tip to Chris Mooney's Republican War on Science) and a lot of other science. If one thinks of their tactics as a struggle for the Overton Window it makes sense
It describes a "window" in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse, in a spectrum of all possible options on an issue. Overton described a method for moving that window, thereby including previously excluded ideas, while excluding previously acceptable ideas. The technique relies on people promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous "outer fringe" ideas. That makes those old fringe ideas look less extreme, and thereby acceptable.....

The Overton Window is a means of visualizing which ideas define that range of acceptance by where they fall in it, and adding new ideas that can push the old ideas towards acceptance merely by making the limits more extreme.
Eli sees those like Roger Peilke and Richard Tol, pushing the other side, trying to make reasonable things said by those like Al Gore, Nicholas Stern, Jim Hansen, the Real Climate gang, etc. appear unreasonable and beyond the pale.

Some silly bunnies and anonymice will say that the two efforts are independent, that maybe Gore, Stern and Hansen are saying unreasonable things. Eli might be willing to pull his fine furry ears over his eyes if he saw the Rs rejecting the pull of Inhofe, Barton and their passel of denialist emeriti, but he has searched in vain for such. Indeed, when asked to say something about the loony Republican view of climate change, Roger and others practice a convenient truthiness claiming that they really are not expert in that area and don't know what those folk are saying.

To deal with this pull-push tactic if you have the facts on your side and want to get something done is not trivial. Pulling back by saying loony things about the end of the earth turns the whole policy debate into a food fight made for TV gottcha ads (Michael Tobis points this out constantly). On the other hand one does have to pull the debate back to reality on the one hand by ridiculing the Inhofians and by calling the Pielke's to account

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had also noticed RP's misuse of the term interpolate: 'we need to "interpolate" the IPCC.'

Someone with a degree in math (as he has) should certainly know the difference between "interpolate" and "extrapolate".

Then again, when you interpolate between "extrapolate" and "interpolate", you get "exterpolate" -- which is very close to "extirpate" (the IPCC?)

Anonymous said...

I think you assume Roger Pielke (a political "scientist") and Richard Tol (an economist) have more influence on this issue than they actually do.

They can say whatever they want about Hansen (on blogs and in the other media), but what real difference does it make?

The fact is, James Hansen has a great deal of credibility with most of the media and public and Henry Waxman certainly knows a scientist when he sees one.

Anyone taking on Hansen is almost certainly going to come out looking foolish -- or worse. Just look what happened to George Deutsch.

Molnar said...

I hate to defend him, but he explicitly says that he means by "interpolate" to update the projections between successive IPCC reports. While that's not quite what interpolate means, he clearly is not suggesting that the answer will be between the lower and upper estimates of the last IPCC report.

Anonymous said...

"he explicitly says that he means by "interpolate" to update the projections between successive IPCC reports."

There's just one eentsy-weentsy problem.

You can not interpolate between points when you do not know what one of the points is!

That's simply ridiculous. Absurd, really.

Anonymous said...

The use of such gibberish at Prometheus by the moderators seems to be the norm.

If they would speak simple English, people might actually understand what they are saying without having to wade through piles of manure.

Then again, perhaps conveying understanding is not the point.

EliRabett said...

Well, Eli likes his parsnippets as well as the next Rabett. Tasty white carrot like objects they are. If you interpolate between reports, you are looking at a trend with two endpoints and picking something in the middle.

If you start from the latest report and work forward you are extrapolating from a report (and those before it. Sorry IEHO even though one could find some implausible deniability the use of the word interpolate sets up an image of picking a middle value, which unfortunately is not the issue at hand.

Anonymous said...

"interpolate sets up an image of picking a middle value"

I think what is really going on here is Pielke is trying to interpolate himself between two strawmen at the extremes.

Anonymous said...

I believe this all has something to do with a the famous Two Scarecrows Problem

Tom, Dick and Roger are sitting in a cornfield, in which there are two scarecrows. One of the scarecrows (S1) lies mid-way between Dick and Roger, while the other one (S2) lies mid-way between Tom and Roger. Tom is 8 yards from S1, while Dick is an integral number of yards from each of Tom, Roger, S1 and S2. Assume that no straight line can go through all the 3 guys. What are the possible distances of Tom, Roger and S2 from Dick?

Source: Created by Sudipta Das (only a name was changed to protect the innocent)

ankh said...

What cracked me up was first attacking Hansen as hasty for proposing a meeting when nobody else was all that worried, then attacking Hansen for being slow because other people had been worried enough to have already had a meeting.

Ever watched a cardinal (redbird, not prelate) attacking a mirror, thinking he's attacking a rival?

I think it's springtime, competition for niches is high.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, Pielke feels that Hansen has somehow crossed a line that he believes scientists are never supposed to cross.

There is simply no other logical (or is it "no logical"?) explanation for his response to Hansen.

Anonymous said...

"Ever watched a cardinal (redbird, not prelate) attacking a mirror, thinking he's attacking a rival?"

No, but I once watched a hummingbird repeatedly dive bomb a robin (about 5 times its size) until it flew away. The robin was foraging around looking for worms and happened to get too close to the hummingbird's nest (or so the hummingbird thought).

It's one thing to attack robins, but hawks and eagles are something entirely different.

Anonymous said...

"denialist emeriti"

demeritists?

Anonymous said...

Roger never adds much to the debate, instead he spends his time attacking credible scientists in fashion that seems to be dripping with anger adn envy.

I've often wondered what happened to Roger as a small boy that makes him such an angry man today.

Maybe it's his middle name "Alvin." I'm sure he got picked on a great deal for that.


Mus musculus anonymouse

Anonymous said...

I wonder if he hunts wabbits like wowld wenowned wabbit huntew Mitt Womney.

EliRabett said...

Eli has been trying to establish that it is dangerous to mess with the bunny

The South Park Easter Special is but another evidence thereof. But go watch some of the video first before via com pulls it.

Anonymous said...

Scientists, fear not. The Framers are here to save the day.

With the five step Mooney/Nisbet program, the public will be eating out of scientists' hands in a matter of days.

By using their revolutionary method, the public will be begging scientists to do embryonic stem cell research, to teach evolution in the schools and even to find a way to stop global warming.

Guaranteed.