Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Brian pointed today to Joe Romm unloading on Naomi Klein for endowing the circular firing squad so beloved of hippy haters.  Klein is trying to make believe she never said it, her thoughts are so complex, that Joe never heard it, and oh yeah, she ain't gonna play nice any more.  Rabett's have limited ability to read, so he didn't get much past the image at the top of Joe's post, provided courtesy of Michael Tobis

No need, of course, because Justin Gillis filled in the dots.  As everybunny knows, it ain't just the popular press, but the IPCC
In one case, we have a lot of mainstream science that says if human society keeps burning fossil fuels with abandon, considerable land ice could melt and the ocean could rise as much as three feet by the year 2100. We have some outlier science that says the problem could be quite a bit worse than that, with a maximum rise exceeding five feet. 
The drafters of the report went with the lower numbers, choosing to treat the outlier science as not very credible 
In the second case, we have mainstream science that says if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, which is well on its way to happening, the long-term rise in the temperature of the earth will be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but more likely above 5 degrees. We have outlier science that says the rise could come in well below 3 degrees. 
In this case, the drafters of the report lowered the bottom end in a range of temperatures for how much the earth could warm, treating the outlier science as credible.
Which makes the creatures of the fields wonder.  Mr. Gillis too
Obviously, the high estimates are even scarier. So it would be nice to hear an explanation from the drafters of this coming report as to why they made decisions that effectively play up the low-end possibilities. But with the report still officially under wraps, they are not speaking publicly. We are thus left wondering whether it is a matter of pure professional judgment — or whether they have been cowed by the attacks of recent years. 
Assuming these decisions withstand final review, it will be fascinating to hear the detailed explanations in Stockholm.


Russell Seitz said...

And in the least interesting case, which as usual is the real one , temperatures are rising 20 microkelvin +/- 10 per diem.

As has been the case for as many decades as living bunnies have witnessed. Somewhere in the middle of which Kenneth Burke wrote 'The Rhetoric of Motives', and Hofstadter came up with' The Paranoid Style In American Politics."

Joe should double down on sermons as to why we beieve in feedbacks for a change.

bill said...

Consider the evolution of the age of the Earth.

Most people, scientists included, are constrained by the fear of peer/community ridicule to the extent that they will, indeed, self-censor.

Almost all of us constantly skew information towards what we think others will regard as plausible, regardless of any logical conclusion the evidence we have encountered has actually led us to. A result well outside the bounds of decorum - and that's the appropriate term - may well get us stretching the 'safe' envelope to its limit, but we're still unlikely to stray outside it.

Even more so during a highly-charged public debate with the full-weight of the Fossil Fuel /CornuCapitalist/ Big Media complex instantly on call to punish ' Alarmist' heretics.

As for Ms. Klein - sorry, what's the problem here? She thinks cap and trade probably won't work, and that few have the guts to say aloud that CornuCapitalism is the enemy of life and human civilization because they're all so concerned about looking 'respectable' ?

Can anyone seriously argue that this is wrong? Sure, 'Green Groups have done more harm than the Right' is silly (it gets attention and may well move units, though), but Donna LaFramboise she ain't, and Joe Romm doesn't seem to (or perhaps want to) grasp that.

As the comments on his blog clearly indicate, I might add.

In fact, he's actively trying to define the limit of 'respectable' opinion, and vindicating Klein's point in the process!

Martin Vermeer said...

> Can anyone seriously argue that this is wrong?

Joe Romm argues so -- and he is no friend of current capitalism. I would argue so too, after reading the same sources Romm refers to. It's called mainstream economics. As opposed to, ehh, 'alarmism'.

Anonymous said...

Michael Tobis's chart gives a far more moderate portrayal of the right-wing think tanks than they deserve. Their positions, which are over-represented in the popular press, aren't centered on "Neutral," they're skewed all the way to the left, extending into "Mostly Beneficial" territory, i.e., off the chart. They rarely bother to cite "professional opinion" anyway; they're more likely to ridicule it.

Taylor B

dhogaza said...

"As for Ms. Klein - sorry, what's the problem here? l... Sure, 'Green Groups have done more harm than the Right' is silly"

Thank you for answering your own stupid question, greatly appreciated.

If this point is irrelevant to whatever message she's trying to pass on, she should've stayed away from it.

Then, of course, there's the historical revisionism she puts forward to support her - as you put it, "silly" - argument.

Russell Seitz said...

'bill said...
Consider the evolution of the age of the Earth.

While geochronology has converged on a single value by adding significant digits, five iterations of the IPCC have not come to closure on the first digit of climate sensitivity.

That's why the policy field is still in motion

Brian said...

Klein reminds me a bit of the worst of the pro-nuclear types. Not all pro-nuclear types are in that category (esp. not our own ones around here), and I'm speaking as a nuclear waffler, but some of the conservative ones say you must support their cause or you're anti-climate.

Klein's pet cause to support is anti-corporate and she wants to force the effort to fight climate change into something that's exclusively anti-corporate, saying the people who've been working on the issue for decades are worse than useless.

Maybe the thing to care about is climate change and not just how it can only be used to help your preferred cause.

Susan Anderson said...

Speaking as a fellow nuclear waffler, I agree. It is disastrous that the multiplication of disinformation continues apace and each little thing is magnified. Distractionalism doesn't need to prove anything, it just has to persuade us all to hare off in different directions and shoot at each other once in a while.

Naomi Klein has much to answer for here.

Anonymous said...

@ Russell Seitz

"While geochronology has converged on a single value by adding significant digits, five iterations of the IPCC have not come to closure on the first digit of climate sensitivity.

"That's why the policy field is still in motion"

A completely useless and false analogy. Climate sensitivity isn't a physical constant, like Planck's, and there's no need to add significant figures to its value, because it wouldn't have any policy consequences. Whether the value is 2 or 6 degrees C, the risks and consequences are grave. Are you suggesting that if we knew sensitivity to 2, 3, or 5 significant digits, we could set a policy that would allow us to push carbon emissions up to some maximum limit, say, just below the amount that would lead to slightly less than catastrophic warming?

We have more than enough information to know that the consequences of continued human emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere are putting the planet's ecosystems, agriculture, and infrastructure at grave risk. So far, we haven't devised any effective policy response, much less an optimized response that would allow us to safely maximize GDP and population growth. Meanwhile, we are continuing to raise the extinction rate, and carbon emissions are accelerating.

Taylor B

dbostrom said...

"So it would be nice to hear an explanation from the drafters of this coming report as to why they made decisions that effectively play up the low-end possibilities."

I'll go with "battered." We're all human. Standing under a steady stream of vitriol has a cumulative effect. Same problem faced by journalists, others who talk about things that may disrupt a wealth-stream most of us can only dream of.

For scientists the problem is far worse than what's faced by journos. "Sticks and stones -will- break my bones..."; fear of a life-altering subpoena has a much more visceral effect than mouth-breathers trying to deliver insults. Any US scientist pushing too hard will be thinking of the lessons of recent history. Do science, or spend time with lawyers?

Martin Vermeer said...

Russell, all we need to know about that first digit is that it stands to the left of the dot. Intellectual honesty would be to acknowledge that

Susan Anderson said...


battered it is, exhausted too ...

and Revkin, Pielke et al. march on, and we are encouraged to shoot at each other (consider methane, both "sides").