Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Nasal Glazing or Eli Too Has a Question

The usual introspection has broken out at two of Eli's younger friends establishments, And Then There Is Physics and Victor Venema's place, and Judy is engaged in yarn bombing her blog.

Rather than open another front, Eli has a serious question

Is there anyone on the other side of this who deserves respect?  

At one time the Rabett thought that Roger Sr. might be that person, and indeed at times he acts as if he would like to be so thought of, but as a usual thing, he is the perfect Harvard man.  Roy Spencer on occasion shows flashes, but in general, and perhaps Eli needs to get out more, pointers to honest people who have both the scientific nous to understand the situation, but have concluded that there is not a challenge, are hard to find.  Peter Webster may be such a person, judging from some brief interactions and there are many in the regional air quality business Eli knows who are at least on the fence.

38 comments:

WHT said...

Take a close look at what Clive Best is doing.
http://clivebest.com/blog/

He is a climate science outsider but at least has ideas that move the yardsticks in a positive direction.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone on the other side of this who deserves respect?

The whole notion of 'sides' is about politics, not objective inquiry into science. Advocacy spoils everyone on both 'sides'.

Of course, true dispassionate pursuit of the truth probably doesn't exist ( the dispassionate aren't particularly motivated ).

So, sure, respect everyone.


Lucifer.



VeryTallGuy said...

It's a great question which I intend to dodge in the usual politicians way, by asking a different one.

"How can I behave in a way which engenders respect from both sides?"

Victor Venema said...

Watts? If I had to publish five posts a day, my quality would also go down. Especially, if those posts would have to follow an ideological story line and I could thus not orient myself by the scientific literature. Given those difficult circumstances, Watts is doing a great job and I have often praised him as a great PR expert.

Michael Tobis said...

Lucifer's point is well-taken. Once you say "sides" you are already invoking many things other than science.

But Eli's question is well taken as well. If the proposition at hand is the purely physical one of whether the CO2 sensitivity is high enough to worry about, there doesn't really seem to be anybody competent left to argue with.

The question is in that sense entirely appropriate. If you criticize us for ignoring contrary science, you have to provide some. It's been a very long time since anything has been forthcoming from the low-sensitivity crowd that is not risible.

The last holdout in my opinion was Lindzen, who surely did the physical system well enough but increasingly looks like a crank trying to convince the climate system to do something that there's no evidence whatsoever that it has any intention of doing.

Roger Sr. is a master of self-citation. He is also quite possibly (I haven't met him) good company outside of a research context, but is really no more of a physical scientist than Reid Bryson, who was a scholar and a gentleman but not a physicist, was.

Ditto Bill Gray, except that Gray was most unpleasant on the occasion I met him.

Spencer is intellectually hobbled by fundamentalism. That pretty much explains him.

Christy and Legates are too, but they don't talk theory at all so I'd leave them out of the discussion altogether.

Any other candidates who aren't complete hacks?

Nope, I think the other side of the room has been completely empty for a few years. 97% consensus is a woeful underestimate, due solely to the impossibility of systematically filtering out charlatans.

Victor Venema said...

More seriously, I would almost say Lucia of The Blackboard. As far as I remember she behaves civil, which is uncommon in her peer group. What makes me doubt is the kind of people she offers guest posts and that I do not have the feeling she is interested in the truth, just in scoring point.

To quote from the AndThenTheresPhysics post linked above:There also seem to be some who see scientific discussions as something that you try to win. If so, then you’re showing a real lack of understanding of how most scientists would undertake such discussions. You don’t try to win or challenge your “opponent” to defeat your argument. The goal is to learn and – possibly – inform. In a scientific discussion, it’s your job to clarify the caveats and uncertainties in your theory/model. You don’t hide them and declare victory if your “opponent” doesn’t work them out. If you think a scientific discussion is something to be won or lost, then you’re doing it wrong. Recognising that scientific discussions are more than simply debates, would help the dialogue greatly.

Adam R. said...

VeryTallGuy asks:
"How can I behave in a way which engenders respect from both sides?"

You cannot. The moment you reveal that you believe releasing massive amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere is a perilous thing, you become an agent of World Communist Regulationist Conspiracy, as far as climate skeptics are concerned. Your opinions will get no respect from them after that; your points in any discussion will be hand-waved away.

I am of the "engagement is pointless" school when it comes to the likes of the crowd at Curry's blog, for example. It would actually help more if everyone with an understanding of the science would ignore them completely. Fear not for the lurkers: genuinely inquiring minds will find their way to RC and SkS anyway.

Unknown said...

I wouldn't say he's on the "other side," but here in the PNW Cliff Mass often posts thought-provoking critiques of some of more speculative areas of climate science.

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

This isn't an endorsement of his views -- I often disagree -- but some of his take downs (a certain Texas drought paper published in PNAS comes to mind) seem on target. And I do believe he's sincere.

His overall view seems to be "yes, climate change is a problem, but mainly for the second half of the century. We should prepare, but don't over-hype things that may or may not be happening now."

He had an interesting back-and-forth with Jennifer Francis recently. The science was a little over my head to judge who had the best argument. But it was interesting.

-Douglas

Steve Bloom said...

VTG, if people who are lying to you say they respect you, time to count your fingers.

Eli, maybe J+J.

Victor Venema said...

Here is a list of people to chose from.

See also the lovely session descriptions.

Steve Bloom said...

"(Clive Best) is a climate science outsider but at least has ideas that move the yardsticks in a positive direction."

What does that even mean? Anyway, what I saw on his blog and twitter feed was a physicist (in a field unrelated to climate) so eager to push his views on climate science and policy that he didn't bother doing his homework first.

Here's one of his tweets from May 21:

"We have new kinds of science. Christian Science and Climate Science - both are unprovable because they are based on absolute conviction."

While IANAS, at the moment I happen to be pretty up to date on the science relating to what triggered recent deglaciations, and his post on the subject is just plan pseudoscience. Clearly he didn't bother checking the recent relevant literature or asking someone in the field.

Case closed.

Michael Tobis said...

Cliff Mass is not advocating that CO2 is harmless.

There are lots of points of disagreement here and there. If there weren't, we wouldn't really have any science to do.

The question is whether there is a coherent argument left that CO2 is not dangerous on a century scale. I say there isn't, but am open to being convinced.

Is there an argument about how much recent weird weather is attributable to human forcing, and how to explain such attribution as is valid to the public? Obviously, yes, there is plenty of disagreement there. And Mass is one of those who doesn't think the attribution is timely. But that's a long way from putting him into the mythical 3 %.

dhogaza said...

Apparently "Steven Goddard" will be at the Heartland conference:

Tony Heller, Real Science

Talking about the blogosphere.

dhogaza said...

Hmmm, I didn't realize "Goddard"'s real identity has been known for a couple of years, sorry for the distraction.

Unknown said...

Michael Tobis: "But that's a long way from putting him into the mythical 3 %."

I think it's pretty clear from my post -- first sentence even -- that I don't put him there either. Rather he is as close to the 3% as I'm willing to read on an (almost) daily basis. So I thought his blog, which seems relatively unknown, might be of interest to some here.

Though a lot of his posts are specific to PNW weather -- which turns out to be a pretty fascinating topic in its own right, if you ask me. But I'm biased: I live here.

-Douglas

Fergus Brown said...

If you are looking for someone who understands the science (more or less) and simultaneously has concluded that there isn't such a big problem, I'm afraid your search will be in vain, not least because the existence of the first probably precludes the possibility of the second. When we solicited the opportunity to express this view from climate scientists seven years ago, not a single one (not even the 'obvous' candidates)of the 1800 asked responded in this way.
However, there is a meaningful minority of accredited scientists who make potentially useful challenges to the 'simplistic' selection of CO2 as the 'ultimate enemy', from a variety of standpoints. Here one might find room to debate the relative virtues of spending on emissions reductions versus spending on land management control, or global water resource management, for example.
In short, there probably isn't a credible scientist who thinks that CO2 isn't a problem. There almost certainly are credible scientists who want to argue that excessive emphasis on CO2 at the cost of other considerations is in itself a risk. This is where scientific debate could be directed, for one.

Anonymous said...

@WHT Clive Best really deserves some attention, but mostly for his incredible ignorance in the field. Also for some very dubious references and credentials.

Anonymous said...

I'm with AdamR on this:

"I am of the "engagement is pointless" school when it comes to the likes of the crowd at Curry's blog, for example. It would actually help more if everyone with an understanding of the science would ignore them completely. Fear not for the lurkers: genuinely inquiring minds will find their way to RC and SkS anyway."

I know it's useless to discuss (i.e. not just exchange, but a dialogue) with those who already made up their mind and who cater for them. I only reply to them in order to show the lurkers there is a better supported argument and point them to e.g. SkS.

Micheal Tobis says:

"Spencer is intellectually hobbled by fundamentalism. That pretty much explains him."

I encounter quite a lot of these types. It's unfortunate, because often they know they are intellectuals and their fundamentalism prevents then to see their -often- silly stance. Especially libertarianism / free market ideologies prove to be real good eye-blinders.

--cynicus

EliRabett said...

Fergus pretty well nails it from Eli's POV, which is why at least in the beginning RPSr. was bearable.

WHT said...

No rhetorical questions allowed at The Blackboard, yet all they discuss is legal maneuvering, re Mann.

Go figure.

WHT said...

The reason I follow Clive Best and contribute to Climate Etc comments is that the deniers and skeptics have a fine skill for scoring "own goals".

The more they try to hide some fact, the more likely that there are some substantiating nuggets lurking underneath.

This is not the way that conventional science is typically done, but I am not a climate science insider either.

J Bowers said...

In case you missed it: It's warmer than we thought under the WAIS.

J Bowers said...

@ WHT. Lucia's Queen of the Gatekeepers.

Fergus Brown said...

Ooh, you know how to make person feel smug.
Anyway, to the point: back in the day (ten years ago?), Lomborg's 'Problem' also had some credibility; the question of finding a balance between spending for now and spending for tomorrow had some relevance, until you realised that his solution was a 'one or the other'. If you don't spend on the real present problems, they get worse, and if you don't invest in solving future problems, there won't be much of a future.

Likewise, saving the planet from Warming is of limited worth if what is left is a midden heap of waste and loss, but protecting the environment/ human society is pointless if GW goes on.

Not surprisingly, I think these are not two problems, nor are they contra-indicative. They are one problem - us and our planet.

Bernard J. said...

"Not surprisingly, I think these are not two problems, nor are they contra-indicative. They are one problem - us and our planet."

And the downstream problem is that humans as a species still think as individual organisms, whilst our impact is as a superorganism. Unless and until our culture (= education) can manifest a putative emergent mode of thinking amongst a threshold proportion of the population, it won't matter if there is no robustness of intellect amongst the denialist camp - the message currently received amongst the general public is sufficient to continue the current trajectory.

Which leads me to MT's comment:

"The question is whether there is a coherent argument left that CO2 is not dangerous on a century scale."

I'd beg to differ and argue that the question is actually whether there is a coherent argument left that the CO2 emitted to date, and effectively committed-to in the future, is not dangerous at the eventual climate equilibrium point. On that score there really is no argument - the answer is already a fait accompli.

Brian said...

There's anecdotal evidence like at Victor's post of lurkers who started off mostly denialist and gradually became convinced as they read the debates. My point is that "genuinely inquiring minds" are on a continuum - some may need a fair amount of help to get to a reasonable position but are reachable. Again that's lurkers I'm talking about mostly, the denialist commenter who changes his/her mind is a rare bird.

Having some actual data on this would be useful - right now we're armwaving.

FWIW, Bill Gray was very pleasant when I called him up and asked him to bet me over climate change, unlike Tim Ball and many other denialists. Maybe I caught Gray on a good day. Still refused to bet more than a bottle of wine though.

afeman said...

Cliff Mass's blog looks useful for PNW weather, but in the rare instances when he gets into climate the only thing on the menu is liver with a dash of Curry:

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/04/extreme-silliness.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/07/texas-tall-tales-and-global-warming.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/07/climate-extremists.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/08/climate-distortion.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2013/03/climate-tribes.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-pause-in-global-warming-what-does.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/01/does-cold-wave-imply-anything-about.html
http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-does-seattle-times-and-other-media.html

The best that can be said is that you (well, I) can still learn something in the course of thinking about what's wrong with what he's saying.

Dano said...

I'd beg to differ and argue that the question is actually whether there is a coherent argument left that the CO2 emitted to date, and effectively committed-to in the future, is not dangerous at the eventual climate equilibrium point. On that score there really is no argument - the answer is already a fait accompli.

Again, whether we are actually AT the tipping point this second or whether the "point" takes two decades and we are in it now or at it's doorstep is a question of which scale you want to pay attention to, and they are different.

Nevertheless, I used to read Cliff Mass and listen to him on the radio when I lived up there, and I think he's sane but tips toward RP Jr. He did a nice job several years ago explaining that in north Cascadia there will be more June Gloom and more low clouds in general under AGW - UW researchers spun up their weather models and asked what would happen to weather under AGW - more thermal lows over Columbia Plateau meant more low clouds. He never once hemmed and hawed.

.02

Best,

D

Anonymous said...

Victor says I would almost say Lucia of The Blackboard. As far as I remember she behaves civil, which is uncommon in her peer group. What makes me doubt is the kind of people she offers guest posts and that I do not have the feeling she is interested in the truth, just in scoring point."

Well, she actually has had many guest posts by Zeke Hausfather.

He's hardly a "denier".

Mal Adapted said...

MT: "Spencer is intellectually hobbled by fundamentalism. That pretty much explains him."

Spencer, and the other signatories of the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming, have affirmed:

"We believe Earth and its ecosystems—created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence —are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory."

That is their justification for then saying:

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming."

The rest of the declaration is an argumentum ad consequentiam, cuz the poors. Yet on his blog, he insists that anyone who says his signature on the declaration invalidates his scientific case against AGW ("There is no convincing scientific evidence...") is arguing ad hominem, and he offers a tu quoque rebuttal. Some people are just their own worst enemy.

Fernando Leanme said...

It's difficult to take sides when you seem to be arguing over a range? Isn't this pillow fight about the net forcing induced by humanity? Does anybody believe they gave the exact figure? Lets have a show of hands...who believes the forcing is constant over 200 to 300 years?

And while I'm at it, if the sides are being taken over SOLUTIONS then it's better shift away from half baked engineering and economics. This means studies such as the Stern report do need to be shelved.

Steve Bloom said...

Anon, Zeke's material, and I hasten to note I have no reason to question his sincerity, assists Lucia in her effort to focus attention on the details of the temp record. The rest of her blog is pretty much Climateball. Smart bunnies will understand why she continues in that vein while ignoring the vast scope of the rest of the science.

Steve Bloom said...

Keep at it, Fernando.

Steve Bloom said...

Re RP Sr., pretty early on he started making various claims about the AR4, one of which was that it failed to give the climate impact of land use much attention. Surprised by this claim, I looked. Sure enough, attention was extensive, starting with the first paragraph of the SPM. I pointed this out to RP Sr. and he disappeared in a cloud o' ink. (Anyone wondering from whence RP Jr. got his inability to admit error, wonder no more.)

This was far from the only such incident of him being caught red-handed claiming convenient untruths.

So I've never understood the toleration some extended to him. They learned, eventually.

Steve Bloom said...

"Lomborg's 'Problem' also had some credibility"

No, it didn't, or that is it did only for those looking for an easy out. The whole thing was (and is) a scam, and that was obvious from day one. Recall that there was no record of Lomborg having ever been an environmentalist.

Susan Anderson said...

I caught up on most of Eli's links in most of his recent articles today, interesting. Annoying to have visited Curry, something I avoid, with all her self-justificatory posturing (knitting? imnhso, too kind, more like Morgana). [Cliff Mass can be quite annoying when doing his best to discredit GW. The more plausible and polite, if they're demonstrably wrong, the more harm they are doing.]

However, after a day thinking about it, it occurs to me that we are all spending a lot of time trying to give some rope to a bunch of people who are operating in bad faith, along with their dupes.

Having been raised in the crucible of DotEarth, I'd say any energy you give them is wasted energy, with a few skilled exceptions like HotWhopper, Connolley, Rabbett, Tamino.

I remember when Bush came into office, I concluded that good old fashioned terms like liar, thief, and murderer should be used when they are accurate.

But don't let me stop you having a go at being polite.

deconvoluter said...

MT wrote that "Spencer is intellectually hobbled by fundamentalism."

Does that refer to the right wing fundamentalism that he shares with other members of the Marshall Institute? or does it refer to his views about the bible?

It is of course possible to combine being a person who is a literal believer in the bible and a good scientist. People can do this by compartmentalising themselves. There are some well known examples of such people, possibly including Isaac Newton.

The problem comes when the discussions of the religious texts are in direct conflict with the branch of science which they might enter. In that case the wise fundamentalist would be wise to keep away. The biblical time-line is inconsistent with the entire subject of geology while creationism is in serious conflict with biology, which relies on a Darwinist paradigm.

Perhaps in the case of Roy Spencer it would be safer to omit religion and replace it with.

"... hobbled by being a bad scientific modeler."

(2nd may 2013 11.56 AM)

Brian Dodge said...

"It's difficult to take sides when you seem to be arguing over a range?"
Nope. If you took a chart with the IPCC sensitivity curve around to a statistically significant number of actual qualified, published, peer reviewed, and referenced climate scientists, and asked them to draw a line where they thought the actual retrospective climate sensitivity would be 100 years from now, you'd get a spread of lines, probably clustered near the current best estimate of ECS, or TCS. Being good scientists, they would want to know how the chart was generated, and where the underlying data came from, and precisely what was meant by the question, so you would need to have that all sorted out and referenced beforehand, like a good peer reviewed paper. Some of the lines would be on the low side of the mean, and some of the lines would be on the high side of the mean - ta daaah, two sides. If you asked them to write a short description of why they put their line where they did, and looked at the mathematical distribution of the estimates, you might in fact find on the one hand, a large group near the IPCC whose justification was that their best estimate is by definition an expert synthesis of the literature, so that's what is the best estimate absent any quantitative difference in data. On the other hand, there might be a group who are aware of known and unknown unknowns, or qualitative but as yet unquantified knowns, such as the model underestimation of sea ice loss and consequent positive albedo feedback, or the possibility that increased relative warming at the poles might magnify water vapor amplification, whose estimates would cluster at a higher number. On the third hand, another side might infer that because of the chaotic nature of the physical processes driving weather and climate, that the climate sensitivity might depend of the path taken, e.g., if the doubling of CO2 takes a longer period, the resulting ECS may be different that if it occurs over a significantly shorter period, or that their might be cusps in the response, e.g., if the doubling time is between 100 &150 years, ECS is one value, whereas 150+ years might give a different ECS, and a different standard deviation.