Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Anybunny Want to Send a Message to the APS


One of the principles of a publishing embargo is that if somebunny else breaks it, then there is no longer an embargo.  About a week ago the APS sent emails to members (yes, Eli is a member) asking them for comments on the 2015 draft statement on the Earth's Climate Change, with an admonition not to forward the link on to others.

In the comments here John Garland noted

I see the draft APS statement is out for comment by members. Has anyone posted it outside the APS servers? I'd be curious what they came up with at the draft stage given the history cited here some months ago.
(links added) and Eli responded
John, no doubt somebunny will, but Eli feels a bit constrained because he has been peripherally involved criticizing the APS for their naive incompetence, so he will wait. Suffice it to say that it is sufficiently plain vanilla which was inevitable given the birth pangs.
Now Eli was not first to the bookies betting on who it would be, Willard Tony, one of the Brits of Denial, nonono, it was Judith Curry, and not really her, but she took her permission  from one of the Reddit discussions, so here it is
On Climate Change:Earth’s changing climate is a critical issue that poses the risk of significant disruption around the globe. While natural sources of climate variability are significant, multiple lines of evidence indicate that human influences have had an increasingly dominant effect on the climate warming observed since the mid-twentieth century. Although the magnitudes of future effects are uncertain, human influences on the climate are growing. The potential consequences of climate change are great and the policies of the next few decades will determine human influences on the climate for centuries. 
On Climate Science:As summarized in the 2013 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there continues to be significant progress in climate science. In particular, the connection between rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the increased warming of the global climate system is more certain than ever. Nevertheless, as recognized by Working Group 1 of the IPCC, scientific challenges remain to our abilities to observe, interpret, and project climate changes. To better inform societal choices, the APS urges sustained research in climate science. 
On Climate Action:The APS reiterates its 2007 call to support actions that will reduce the emissions, and ultimately the concentration, of greenhouse gases, as well as increase the resilience of society to a changing climate. Because physics and its techniques are fundamental elements of climate science, the APS further urges physicists to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines in climate research and to contribute to the public dialogue.
Some time ago, Eli noted that a stronger statement than the 2007 APS statement was needed, but the APS is a victim of its own kludged process (more about that later, see links above)

A stronger, more direct statement is clearly needed as the evidence for climate change is even stronger today then it was two years ago.  Compare the draft statement with the 2007 one.
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes. 
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now. 
Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
(emphasis added) It appears that the APS draft statement is actually weaker than the 2007 statement, while the evidence of our changing the climate in an awful direction has grown stronger.  Indeed, the APS could have done better asking the squeegee guys on the street to lend a hand.

29 comments:

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Why are they being such wimps? Who got to them?

EliRabett said...

Well, if you read Judy between the lines you see what got to them, but once they were gotten to, they went straight to the muddle strategy to limit damage and what you got was the dog's dinner

Harry Twinotter said...

I saw Dr Judith Curry used The Bunny to demonstrate her point about something.

I am still trying to work out why the APS draft statement makes her so cross?

Russell Seitz said...

"significant disruptions in.... ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. "

I don't recall paying any dues to the American Oracular Society , and the APS is neither the IPCC or Naomi Klein.

The political neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist in order to be respected.

neverendingaudit said...

> I don't recall paying any dues to the American Oracular Society [...]

I thought it was a simple consequence of a master argument that should go like this:

(P1) AGW is real, i.e. our addition of CO2 adds more warming to the globe.

(P2) Dumping CO2 like there's no tomorrow will trigger more of P1.

(P3) More P1 will create significant disruptions in ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur, &c.

(P4) We ought to stop P3 from happening.

(C) We ought to stop dumping CO2 like there's no tomorrow.

There's no need for oracles to substantiate P3. There's no need to have a full-blown version of P3 for the argument to hold. "More warming will eventually bring adverse changes to the American way of life" should suffice.

***

If Russell would muster his deep ecology fiber and argue against P4, that would be nice.

Kevin O'Neill said...

"The political neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist in order to be respected."

Why is political neutrality desired?

Russell Seitz said...

P1. Physics is neither ecology, social history,international security or medicine .

P2. Parameter value uncertainties as elementary as doubling sensitivity render it physically impossible to physically predict the quantitative evolution of climate on decadal scales .

P3. the dynamic system in question is complex , chaotic, internally variable and posessed of thermal mass and inertia on milennial scales

C since GCM's are not physical systems, many contemporary assertions as to how the system will respond to radiative forcing are more oracular than physical.

Greg said...

Russel is just peddling the "because we don't have 100% certainty, we can't claim to know anything" line.

Whereas the level of confidence we can conservatively claim in predicting some very significant disruptions in ecological systems and therefore to human economic systems is easily high enough to justify a level of mitigation effort at least on a par with large peacetime projects like the Apollo program or the Interstates, and as evidence accumulates, quite possibly more like the society-wide mobilization of WWII.

Russell Seitz said...

What's that got to do with what I wrote?

As the "climate crisis " Al declared in response to Jim's 1989 testimony enters its second quarter-century of existential un-threatiness, I prefer a liberal confession of ignorance to Greg's confidence in the conservatism of claiming justification for" society wide mobilization "

But I thank him for inspiring a higher interval of confidence in what I wrote in 1990 :

" The salvation of the world affords an enchanting pretext for those predisposed to societal intervention "

My own taste runs more towards working on ways to mitigate existing problems , including the failure of bipartisanship





Fernando Leanme said...

The statement is wimpy. It sounds like it was written by the Screen Actor's Guild or the Boy Scouts of America. They need to discuss in plain language the critical parameter is climate sensitivity, and describe its a function of the feedback mechanisms.

They should also explain that physicists are not educated nor prepared to deal with solutions, but should participate in an effort to figure out what needs to be done about climate change.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Resident denier: since GCM's are not physical systems, many contemporary assertions as to how the system will respond to radiative forcing are more oracular than physical.

BPL: The systems are already responding and already doing massive damage. Wake the **** up. It can get worse from here, but it can't get better.

neverendingaudit said...

> the dynamic system in question is complex , chaotic, internally variable and posessed of thermal mass and inertia on milennial scales

Yet adding up CO2 warms it up, adding more to it will warm it up, we know enough Greek mythology to know what happens when the elements are not playing for the home team, and we ought to stop adding CO2.


***

Russell's "but complexity" has been addressed by Isaac in the APS transcript:

DR. HELD: Some of the questions that came through in your background document I thought were a little off, if I can be frank —

DR. KOONIN: That’s fine. We are not experts.

DR. HELD: — in the sense that they don’t conform to my picture of how the climate system works. So, I have my null hypotheses. And I have been doing this for over 30 years, so I have developed a lot of hypotheses. Some of them turn out to be wrong. I don’t like this argument from complexity saying oh, it’s a chaotic system. There is all sorts — you can get a nonlinear system to do nything you want. That just doesn’t tell me anything. But whenever I look at the forced response of the climate system, it looks linear to me. And what is the best example we have of forced responses? The seasonal cycle. Seasonal cycles are remarkably linear-looking.

https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/steve-koonin-and-the-small-percentage-fallacy/#comment-52717

***

The other components of Russell's argument may deserve due diligence.
The

EliRabett said...

Russell doesn't believe in statistical mechanics either.

John Garland said...

What the heck does "you can get a nonlinear system to do (a)nything you want" mean??? That is patently false. Surely the committee knows that.

Doesn't it?

andthentheresphysics said...

John,
What the heck does "you can get a nonlinear system to do (a)nything you want" mean??? That is patently false. Surely the committee knows that.
I think what he means is that if you consider only the internal dynamics of a highly non-linear system, it can do all sorts of strange things and complex things. However, if you give such a system a big push, it is going to respond to that big push in a fairly simple way. Newton's 2nd Law : F = ma

neverendingaudit said...

> What's that got to do with what I wrote?

That's a good question. I think Russell should go first, and state his "but complexity" or his "but teh modulz" addresses the argument to the effect that from AGW follows that we ought to "reduce the emissions, and ultimately the concentration, of greenhouse gases," what I've been paraphrasing as "dumping CO2 like there's no tomorrow."

neverendingaudit said...

> In the days when FORTRAN stalked the Earth, one dimensional models really were one dimensional.

And before that Pierre Duhem argued that models were not really needed:

***

[blockquote]

Duhem is well known for his attack on the use of models in physical science. At first, it seems that Duhem tries to link his attack on model building with his espousal of instrumentalism for the physical sciences. He accuses the English scientists of believing that “to understand physical phenomena is to compose a model” (1914, 103; 1954, 71–72) and of “confusing model with theory” (1913, 102; 1954, 71). He specifically blames Maxwell of these misunderstandings, indicating that in his 1855–56 essay Maxwell proposed only “to illustrate” the theory of dielectrics, whereas in his 1861–62 essay he proposed “to represent or to explain” the electrical and magnetic actions by a mechanical model. Duhem even seems scornful of Maxwell's interchangeable use of the verbs “to represent” and “to explain.” He states, “for an English physicist, the two words have the same meaning” (1902, 9).

[/blockquote]

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/duhem/#AgaCarMetMetMod

There's no need for any model to tell us that we ought to stop dumping CO2 like there's no tomorrow. This argument follows from AGW and basic humanism. The argument does not presume any timeline nor any method: it states something quite trivial.

***

After all, the very idea behind institutions such as the APS seems to presuppose the value a human existence. Even pursuing knowledge for its own sake does not come ab nihilo. An interesting analysis of this expression:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3751018

Russell Seitz said...

For openers, the heat sink isn't static, and we have an at best primitive picture of the flow field of the hydrosphere. What we have figured out from the data is that the turnover and equilibration time scales are orders of magnitude longer than those of the atmosphere coupled to it--

Heuristic as the modeling game may be, physically realistic predictions are going to take more than the two slab approximations of many community models.

Until the model of the big badly modeled gooey thing shown in deep blue underneath the atmosphere catches up in realism, policy belief systems predicated on GCM's will remain metaphysical as appeals to distant equilibria - or other folk's physical intuition.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

The response of drought--specifically, the fraction F of Earth's land surface in "severe drought" (PDSI_PM <= -3.0)--is non-linearly related to small changes in surface temperature. I showed this with statistical analysis, and in case you think that means I calculated a correlation, no--I threw every statistical test at it I could. No computer model, just observations and interpretation.

Global warming moves the rain. Continental interiors dry out, coastlines get soaked. Neither is good for crops. Listen to the news coming from California. This is a millenium drought--like the one that recently hit Australia. Other areas experiencing worse droughts than in the past 50-100 years, all in the past few years, include Texas, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and East Africa. The catastrophe is happening NOW. RIGHT NOW. No oracles needed.

Aunt Sally said...

Fiddling while Rome burns.

With this statement, it's one small step for the committee, one giant leap for the APS... toward ignominy.

snarkrates said...

So, Russell, perhaps you can help me understand your position. We know with 100% certainty that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that greenhouse gasses raise the planet's temperature. We have good reasons to think that this rise in temperature will raise sea levels and perhaps lead to more flooding events and more drought in some regions.

So, given that we have established a credible threat, rather than taking comfort in the assertion that the models are not reliable, shouldn't you instead be saying "Holy fuck! The models are unreliable, and therefor we cannot bound the risks due to climate change!

It would seem to me that a lukewarmer would be very worried if they thought the models didn't work. Why do you instead find this a source of sanguinity?

Russell Seitz said...

It's about time, snarkrates.

Why don't you head up to the Pnyx and warn the Athenians about the clear and present danger of the 100 years war.

snarkrates said...

Russell, Thank you for the non-response. Now how about something substantive? Or do you do that?

Russell Seitz said...

The National Interest April 1990, pp 54-62
Foreign Affairs letters , April 2009
Earth's Future December 2013, pp 43-47

Hank Roberts said...

Oh, in fifty years or so, they'll publish what they really think.

In other long-delayed news:
http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/nukevault/ebb480/

Susan Anderson said...

It took a while to persuade him to really think about it, but once he did, PW Anderson sent in his comment today, and promises to speak to his friends. A collaborative effort by Tenney, yours truly, and one other. Thanks for making it important enough to bother, you and others ... (E&E did a good job of making it obvious too)

EliRabett said...

Susan, any chance he would share his comment?

Susan Anderson said...

hi Eli,

I'm afraid not. It took us a while to find the original email from the APS (he's 91) and the form was, well, a form. He's not amenable to being pushed around, so I was pleased that he came to this on his own once I suggested it needed thinking about (and that I did that is thanks to Tenney). (He is more wrapped up in his own subjects such as HTC.) Something along the lines of how making it important that the statement more succinct seemed strange in a situation becoming more urgent and obvious. He also said he complained about the false balance.

The choice of Curry, Christy and Lindzen made that part easy. I'm trying to treat a little delicately here, as I borrow his authority without his brain!

Do feel free to contact me offline. I'm on my way home to Boston today.

EliRabett said...

No, he is absolutely right about succiinct which was the strength of the paragraph from the 2007 statement:

"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now. "

and the false balance.

As to being pushed around, well good physicists are tough minded.