Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Defining Denial Down

Well, you could have predicted. The quote miners, having run out of ore in misrepresenting Sir John Houghton, started making it up, claiming that he wrote in his 1994 book

"Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen,"
have gone back to what they do best, truncating something Sir John actually said

Sunday Telegraph, 10.9.95

Me and my God
Sir John Houghton talks to Francis Welch . . .

Houghton warns that God may induce man to mend his ways with a disaster. “God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters. Human sin may be involved, the effect will be the same.

“If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.

Piers Akerman is picking up the thin straw offered to him by others yesterday, the Denial Squad was really busy. Here are a few to get you busy.

Climate Audit - Feb 17
Clamour of the Times - Feb 17
Bishop Hill - Feb 16

Blow the whistle on the squad. Tell them to stop pulling our leg. The Policy Lass has some more specific examples of how this old mother load has been re-opened in the quote mine

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.


Anonymous said...

And here is my lovely state suing the EPA based on the many exaggerations and lies professed not only by the "skeptic" blogs, but also by mainstream media such as the NY Times. This blog entry by Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle contains a link to the story. A court case based on hearsay. Amazing so says Scared Mouse.

Truth about denial said...

Why are the "real" skeptics not distancing themselves from this kind of bullshit?

EliRabett said...

Because they are bullshitters not skeptics.

David B. Benson said...

Yeh, I do suyppose that is septic.

Is it triage time yet?

Anonymous said...

Eli, your links to Climate Audit and Bishop Hill don't work.

- Harvest Mouse

carrot eater said...

Grr. Why couldn't CRU have just put this thing out a long time ago?

Using or not using the non-public data makes pretty much no difference, except the period 1850-1880. Which is pretty much what I guessed.

Anonymous said...

Who is the real skeptic?

I tend to be quite skeptical and contrary about everything in life and won't believe anything until I've tried really hard to prove it wrong. I've been there with climate science and read many 'skeptic' arguments and wavered back and forward over a long time before deciding that most of the so called skeptics just don't have a clue and are really in abject denial.

I apply healthy skepticism not just to the 'AGW' parts of climate science, but to all parts of climate science. For instance the PDO is very interesting, but I'm still skeptical about whether it even really exists despite peer reviewed science saying that it does. But I'm not jumping up and down claiming PDO is some crazy hoax or horrible poor science, I'm just curious to see what will be written about it next.

And I'm certainly skeptical about what effects it does have if it does exist, but I keep an open mind and consider the possibility that the PDO has contributed to warming since 1980. And also consider the possibility that it has contributed to cooling since 1980.

On climate science, I'm skeptical of the experts ability to get it right in such a difficult and chaotic field. I'd be willing to bet money they've got something wrong somewhere on AGW. Whether that means AGW is worse than expected, or not as bad I have no idea.

I'm even more skeptical of the ability of myself or other 'blog scientists' to do a better job.

So I claim to be a skeptic,
and on the topic of Sir John Houghton, I want nothing to do with the mud slinging on this issue.

carrot eater said...

Anonymous: You are quite thoughtful.

Well, the PDO index does exist, in that it's a number you can calculate, and the number tells you a little bit about sea surface temperature patterns in the Pacific.

But so far as I can tell, there is no description of an actual physical mechanism that goes with it, which could impact global temperatures.

And a glance at the index shows there's pretty much no predictability or true periodicity to it.

DEEN said...

"I tend to be quite skeptical and contrary about everything in life"

Except that skepticism doesn't have anything to do with being contrary. Or at least, it shouldn't.

bluegrue said...

Interesting it took them so long. The quote was used in a proper fashion last year already. Mind you, the following is NOT an example of quotemining, but of proper use.

On google I stumbled upon the "Me and my God" column being quoted by von Storch in an article published on Sep 6, 2009: On adaptation – a secondary concern?

Footnote 4 on page 18 reads:
A clearly religious dimension is associated by some prominent climate scientists, such as the previous chairman of working group 1 of the IPSS, Sir John Houghton, about whom was written by Frances Welch, 10.9.95 in an article “me and my God” in Sunday Telegraph, 10.9.95: An expert on global warming and Chairman of the Royal Commission of Environmental Pollution, Houghton warns that God may induce man to mend his ways with a disaster. “God tries to coax and woo, but he also uses disasters.” Und: “If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster.”

von Storch uses the quote here:
[...] we have to take a decision. How much effort should be directed toward reducing emissions, and how much toward adaptation? The public debate in Germany and Scandinavia favours the “protection of climate”, i.e., mitigation, reduction of emissions. Al Gore declared “we have to be careful not to siphon off political will from job one, prevention, and dissipate it with adaptation”.(3) This decision has the advantage that it seems to be morally superior – everybody feels the obligation to protect the Creation.(4) [...]

I have no idea, whether or not the quote was later on picked up from here or whether this is just a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @9:28

" consider the possibility that the PDO has contributed to warming since 1980. And also consider the possibility that it has contributed to cooling since 1980. "

This makes no sense at all. Warming where since 1980? Cooling where since 1980? I won't replicate what Carrot said s/he did a pretty good job explaining the PDO.

David B. Benson said...

PDO really does exist in physical reality as well. During one phase of it fishing is good off Washington and Oregaon and not so good off western Alaska. Reverse for the other phase.

This seems related to where a deep ocean upwelling comes to the surface, bringing nutrients, I think.

carrot eater said...

Well, yes, based on how it's calculated it has to have some relationship to SST patterns.

In lieu of any sort of physical process, I'd love to see more pictures of these patterns, at least. All I see is a single 'warm phase' picture and a single 'cool phase' picture. Let's see pictures for different intermediate values of the index, or in the same phase, but in different 'cycles'.

Couldn't you try to define something similar for the other oceans, as well? Perhaps not over land, but has anybody tried?

David B. Benson said...

carrot eater --- Based on fishing experience, PDO has no intermediate; either the deep water comes up in one place or else in the other.

And I know of no other such oscillation in deep water surfacing, anywhere in the world. Doesn't mean there aren't any.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to calc. how OHC (or OHC anomalies) over the N. Pacific changes with different phase of the PDO. That may not be trivial, b/c one would have to remove warming stemming from the anthro signal.

My suspicion is that shifts in phase simply translate into changing the spatial distribution of heat, rather than a net gain or loss of OHC. It is the impact of the shifts in SST anomalies on the overlying atmosphere and atmospheric circulation which causes the PDO to teleconnect elsewhere, but mostly the N. Pacific and N. America. I am unaware of the PDO teleconnecting elsewhere on the globe, but could be wrong.

Maybe Dr. Mantua at UofW knows the answer. I'll email and ask.

carrot eater said...

Well, the index goes through zero, so something has to give on the way through there. No?

Anon: But to the extent there's interaction with the atmosphere, there is a chance of some change in OHC. Either directly, or indirectly through clouds maybe?

David B. Benson said...

carrot eater --- Yup. Deep water changes surfacing location. I don't know the details.

[Word verification: messi}

Hank Roberts said...

Don't miss the more interesting thread. Where else can we read more from Watson? It's certainly clear why Bush/Exxon pushed him out of the IPCC.