Saturday, August 16, 2014

Delicate Flowers

Eli, contrary to rumor, has been following the comings and goings here and abouts.  Even twittering back and forth with Ethon.  As some bunnies may have noticed, this being summer, it is time for delicate flowering, and indeed there have been outbreaks at the usual places, for example, Judith Curry wondering about the road to scientific hell, and then missing all the turn signs.  ATTP tried to play nice (Eli pointed out that she had not a clue about ethics, it got sin binned).

In any case, which always goes around in the best circles, Eli was wandered over to an interview of Robert Bindschadler by Dahr Jamal.  Bindschadler a ice mass specialist now emeritus at NASA is one of the ones in the corner screaming bloody murder.  He is very pessimistic about ice on the planet, looking at major losses to the ice sheets in the 100-200 year time frame.

To reinforce your sense of well being, Eli would point you to the final report of the Dark Snow Project,

In the interview he describes how at the time of the first IPCC report, 1991, significant losses from Antarctica and Greenland were not even considered because it was assumed that the time frame for such would be well outside the next century horizon of the report.  As SAR, TAR, AR4 and now AR5 followed, and the weakening of the ice sheets became clear, the issue crept into the IPCC reports, but often in strange ways
Then we get up to the fourth IPCC report in 2007, and we were starting to get some models that incorporated our best understanding of the ice sheets that were showing that there might be some dramatic impact in terms of contribution to sea level. They were acknowledged, with verbiage like, ice sheet dynamics can change rapidly and contribute large amounts of water to cause excess sea level rise, but the dynamics are not well enough understood for predictive capability. The sea level numbers were pretty low, and the words around said they didn't really know how high they might go. So the story at that time was that we didn't really know what the numbers were. 
I asked the head of Working Group I on that report which had ultimate responsibility for everything that was in the Working Group I report, I said, "All the words say don't trust the numbers; why are there numbers there at all?" She told me that governments insisted that there be numbers, that they gave them the table and said you put the numbers in this table. Thus, she felt compelled to do that because the report was not going to be accepted by the government until there were numbers in the table.
Bindschadler was and is alarmed by this and, as he says, he started to engage
The shortening of the time scale that glaciers can now contribute to sea level rise and climate change drew me into the debate. And the science is solid. There's no question about it. Even in the early days it was solid. So I came down hard on the side of yes, it is happening, and I can speak to that when it comes to sea level going up as a result of shrinking ice sheets. That is going to happen.
 That gave me my entrance onto the stage where these nasty debates are going on. I wasn't that far away from the general expectation within the scientific community that said that as long as we spoke from the facts, and stayed secure with our caveats that have to be there, we will be listened to and it will have a positive effect on necessary policies that need to start being put in place. It was that naïve expectation that we're the experts, and scientists are usually pretty well regarded as credible, and that's never changed.

But there was such a strong blowback from climate change skeptics and deniers, using their bad science, and we felt there was a failing in the reporting of that, and even though the vast majority of the scientists, and back in those days it was 90 to 10 percent, it would still be reported as an equal debate.
But the dagger, was of course from the delicate flowers
The other thing that led me into a retreat is you would go out there and try to limit your emphasis on caveats and speak more crisply or without the caveats and with more black and white and you would be shot in the back by your colleagues. So I would be quoted in the paper making a rather bold statement and a colleague would call me out and say, well you didn't mention the uncertainty factor, and sounds like you know more than you know you do. But you have to consider the audience. If all you do is lace it with uncertainty, it gives them reason to do nothing. 
But there was not uniform agreement within the scientific community that that was the way to go. So I retreated.

25 comments:

Fernando Leanme said...

This happens because the IPCC work flow and structure are poorly designed. I think they should can it. It's much better to have competing and dissenting points of view documented. This consensus idea is a total snafu.

Fergus Brown said...

As I understand it, the only consensus which is required as a part of the process is the one which requires that every government representative signs of on the whole thing in detail and parts, without exception.
Within various chapters there seems to be plenty of space and discussion of materials which don't confirm each other on a particular point. Sea ice is one of the vaguest chapters, as others have pointed out before.

Not sure what Eli's title reference is though -is t suggesting that BB needs to 'man-up'?

And Then There's Physics said...

Eli pointed out that she had not a clue about ethics, it got sin binned
Did I do that? Sorry.

Steve Bloom said...

Predictably, Fernando misses the point and returns to his vomit.

Steve Bloom said...

I seriously doubt that the upper end of the ice sheet response is constrained by current models, even given correct inputs. RB didn't seem quite willing to say that even after having laid out the basis for doing so. Reticence lingers.

J Bowers said...

"It's much better to have competing and dissenting points of view documented. "

So that would be 10,885 papers saying it's happening and having no problem with the consensus on causes, versus 2 papers saying it isn't and we're not responsible.

Careful what you wish for.

EliRabett said...

Nope, Judy did

Fernando Leanme said...

My comment about the IPCC work flow and organizational structure was well thought through. If you think the proper response is to insult it then we have a problem trying to discuss the subject. I guess I should mention the attitude it reflects is quite revealing about the emotional intensity the subject seems to cause. When dealing with such emotions it's impossible to rely on logic. Later.

turbobloke said...

Perhaps you could elucidate more precisely?

turboblocke said...

You are, of course, aware that the review comments are published? A publication that does not include even a lowest common denominator consensus is exactly what the deniers want, as they can then continue with their unsubstantiated claims of uncertainty. Therefore, as you seem to be supporting the deniers' opinion, you are being treated with the respect that such a position deserves.

Steve Bloom said...

Fernando, you delicate flower you, do you really think seemingly careful and polite rhetoric should improve the treatment of bad ideas? Apparently.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Fernando -

"It's much better to have competing and dissenting points of view documented. This consensus idea is a total snafu.

And then when called on this nonsense replies, "My comment about the IPCC work flow and organizational structure was well thought through.

Of course Fernando doesn't mention a SINGLE competing or dissenting view that was not included. This might possibly be because every valid scientific POV is in the IPCC report. What is missing are denialists favorite horseshite du jour.

Apparently Fernando wants all the unscientific crap to get the same attention as the actual science. This is his "well thought through" opinion. That's setting a pretty low bar for intelligent thought.

Anonymous said...

Angech
Antarctic ice about to hit 16,000,000 sq K, Eli and may set a maximum record.
Arctic continues it's recovery so may set a new global ice record.
Do you not think it strange, in a scientific way, that one can have the world covered in increasing ice and some professor trying to claim that ice sheets are melting?
The disconnect is amazing.
As you know changes of substance are going to take hundreds if not thousands of years to develop. Disingenuous pushing of an agenda for admirable purposes by selective use of climate data as certain rabbits, not Eli, surely, do is not appreciated much as supporters may admire it.

DaveW said...

Anonymous said "Arctic continues it's recovery so may set a new global ice record."
Do you not know the difference between sea ice and continental ice sheets?

john Mruzik said...

Sad really, my brother, a PhD in material science believes the same thing. And I, just a simple country doctor. Let me know the the Arctic recovers.

...and Then There's Physics said...

DaveW
Do you not know the difference between sea ice and continental ice sheets?
You beat me to it. Anonymous clearly does not, but appears to at least know that both words exist.

coby said...

"Arctic continues it's recovery". Oh yes, and not only that, I am sure yet another recovery is just around the corner...

Fergus Brown said...

Fernando, you continue to perplex me. Obviously quite capable of rational-sounding rhetoric, and are not an unintelligent person, your interjections here and elsewhere seem only to muddy waters, rather than elucidate.
It is hard for me to reconcile my original observation with the notion that I was insulting you, especially as I actually think the IPCC process could be done better, as indeed does the IPCC, who have proposed moving towards a new, periodical part-publication of relevant evaluations.
At times I do feel intensely about the subjext, you are correct, but not so much about the people who comment on blogs, whom I always endeavour to give the benefit of the doubt, until given reason otherwise to do...

Steve Bloom said...

"muddy waters, rather than elucidate"

A feature, not a bug.

Steve Bloom said...

Fergus, I'm pretty sure Fernando thought I, not you, was the one that insulted him. FWIW, I suspect that as a non-native speaker he didn't get the dog vomit reference and so felt more insulted than I intended.

Fergus Brown said...

Steve,
You're probably right, but F's comment was ambiguous.
There was a certain abruptness to your message to him which kind of implied a 'tone' by itself.
Nice to see you got my gently ironic point, though...

Russell Seitz said...

Unfortunately, the last item in the Grist List of Pielkiana is true to the point of tautology.

111 stopped clocks are right more than twice a day.

Russell Seitz said...

Preceeeding comment should be on next thread- sorry.

Bernard J. said...

Anonymous above, others have already pulled you up but I shall join the fray.

Your comment only serves to illustrate to those who actually understand the science that you are completely ignorant of the same. Your initial approach to remedy your obvious deficit should be to:

1) learn the difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic

2) as indicated by others above, understand the difference between the physical phenomena underpinning land ice and sea ice (hint - an adequate answer to (1) would assist...)

3) learn some beginner's university (or even high school) statistics.

Once you have achieved a basic competency in the above you may find that you have the confidence to post non-anonymously. More importantly though, you would be in a much better position to discuss the actual physics and consequences of human -caused global warming.

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