Seen elsewhere
Twitter
Support

 

Buy

Click images for more details

Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Shale gas dropped? | Main | Is it or ain't it Rashit? »
Sunday
May202012

Myles Allen on Berlin's two concepts of liberty

Simon Anthony sends this report of Myles Allen's recent lecture at Oxford.

Myles (I think he'd prefer I call him "Myles" rather than Prof Allen as most people in the audience seemed to refer to him thus) is prof of geo-system science in the school of geography and the environment and heads the climate dynamics group in physics dept, both in Oxford. His main interest has been in attribution of aspects of climate, particularly "extreme events" to human activities. Recently he's been working on how to use scientific evidence to "inform" climate policy.

The lecture's title comes from Isaiah Berlin's contrast between "negative" and "positive" liberty. These can be (slightly) caricatured as, respectively (and perhaps contrarily) freedom from constraints (eg tyranny) and freedom to do particular things (eg vote for the tyrant). Amongst other things, Berlin was concerned about the possible abuse of positive liberty in which the state prescribes what is permitted rather than ensuring the conditions in which individuals were free to make their own choices.

Myles contrasted two extreme views of how to address climate change: either continue as currently so 0.001% of the world's population choose to benefit from emissions of CO2 and the poorest 20% involuntarily suffer the consequences or halt emissions and so demolish the capitalist, liberal, market system. In conversation afterwards he accepted this was a rhetorical flourish rather than a genuine choice. 0.001% of the world's population is ~700,000. He said this number was those who profited directly from extraction and burning of fossil fuels. But it omits shareholders or citizens who benefit from taxes paid by oil cos etc. And it omits those who, for example, drive or keep warm or light their houses. If these people were included, the number of beneficiaries would likely be rather more than the number suffering. So it seems more than a little disingenuous to characterise the "sides" in these terms. In any case, rather than have states impose strict controls, Myles wanted to investigate means by which emissions could be voluntarily curtailed and suffering compensated through negative liberty.

So, he says, assume that IPCC's predictions are correct but it'll be 30 years before confirmation. What measures can be taken to reduce CO2 emissions? Offsetting doesn't work because what counts is cumulative emissions, not the rate. Centrally imposed limits would potentially mean big opportunity costs as beneficial activities might not be undertaken. Is there instead some means by which the impacts can be traced back to CO2 emissions and the originators made to pay (cf Deep Water Horizon)?

An essential component of any such scheme is that harm caused by climate changes should be correctly attributed to fossil fuel CO2 emissions. If that were possible then, on a pro rata basis of some kind, those companies responsible for the emissions and which had directly benefitted from extraction and burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas, electricity, car manufacturers, airlines...) could be penalised and the proceeds distributed to those who were judged to have suffered.

Now Myles (I think somewhat inconsistently) seemed to accept that climate predictions for 30 years into the future were unverifiable, unproven and unreliable (perhaps not surprising when, as Richard Betts confirmed in another thread, even when the Met Office has the opportunity to assess its 30+-year temperature anomaly predictions in, for example, forecasts made in 1985, it chooses not to do the tests. One can only speculate as to why that might be.) He also accepted that the public might justifiably not believe the assurances of climate experts, particularly given the patchy record of mighty intellects in predicting the future (examples he gave were Einstein post-war seeing imminent disaster unless a world government was immediately set up; a Sovietologist who in the mid-1980s confidently predicted the continuing and growing success of the Soviet Union; 30-year predictions of US energy use which turned out to be huge overestimates and Alan Greenspan's view that derivatives had made the financial world much secure. I'd have been tempted to add Gordon Brown's (or George Osborne's) economic predictions but time was limited.) There was very little reason to expect people to believe in the extended and unfeasible causal chain leading to predictions of temperatures in 30 years time

Instead Myles proposed that the frequency and pattern of "extreme" events was now well enough understood that the effect of CO2 emissions could be reliably separated from natural variations. He gave various examples of how models had been validated: the extent of human influence on the European heatwave of 2003 has been "quantified"; the Russian heatwave of 2010 was within the range of natural variation; model predictions of annual rainfall in the Congo basin matched uncannily well the "observations" (Myles himself initially doubted the extraordinarily good match, although he now accepts it's genuine. However, the "observations" weren't all one might expect because conditions for meteorologists in the Congo are understandably difficult, so there aren't any actual measurements. Instead an "in-fill" procedure was used to extend readings from safer locations to the Congo basin. I asked whether this agreement between a model and, um, another model was really a good test of either. Myles assured me that both models were reliable and show good agreement with measured data in, for example, western Europe. Still, an odd way to illustrate reliability of model predictions.).

So although it wasn't possible reliably to predict climate to 2050, current near-term regional forecasts may be good enough to show that the probability of extreme events was changed by CO2. In any case, the people who believe they've been adversely affected by climate change are free to take legal action against the companies they believe are responsible. Myles foresaw such litigation growing as the effects of climate change became more apparent.

An obvious question arises, rather like the "dog that didn't bark": if the evidence for the effect of AGW on extreme events is as strong as Myles and others claim, why haven't class actions already been brought, particularly in the US? "Ambulance chasing" lawyers aren't renowned for their reticence but so far there has been no action of great significance. I don't think it's wild speculation to suggest that lawyers have examined possible cases but haven't yet thought the evidence strong enough to make it worth while proceeding. Of course at some stage such cases will come to court and then Myles may find that his hope that they'll change the "climate" of debate will cut both ways. Because if a major class action against, say, oil companies claiming compensation because the 2003 European heatwave was due in part to CO2 emissions, was brought and failed, it would be a major setback to hopes for international laws to limit further emissions. While litigation won't advance science, it could be very politically significant - as well as entertaining - to have the arguments for AGW tried in court.

Finally, having been to three of the Wolfson lectures on climate change, I'd like to add a couple of observations. First, although all the speakers talked about the evidence for AGW, not one of them mentioned hockey-sticks. Stocker came closest when he said that current temperatures were the warmest for 500 years but didn't venture an opinion on the medieval warm period. I wonder whether it's too much to hope that the more scrupulous climate scientists are distancing themselves from the petulant antics and inept science of hard-core "Team" members. And second, two of the three speakers (Wunsch and Allen) said that there was little reason for people to believe that 30-year climate predictions were reliable. So perhaps the better climate scientists will stop relying on magical trees and statistics to make up the past and dubious models for scary futures. Instead they might try to do what Myles advocates and concentrate on shorter term understanding of the climate which might at least be testable.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (204)

"He gave various examples of how models had been validated..."

From everything that I have read, and exchanges with Richard Betts, I t is my personal opinion that numerical climate models are unverified, unvalidated and have demonstrated no predictive capability at all.

Weather forecasts, although now augmented by weather radar and satellite data, are accurate for a few days at best, the Met office seasonal forecasts (the "April drought", mild winters and "barbeque summers") have proved to be wildly innaccurate, and decadal forecasts failed to predict the last decade of flatlining temperatures. It seems hopelessly unrealistic to believe that these models can predict climatic conditions decades into the future, and that they have any chance of demonstrating any effect that anthropogenic CO2 may have on the climate.

May 20, 2012 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

This country and perhaps others have been moving steadily from a "You can do anything that is not specifically prohibited by law" to a "You can only do what is specifically permitted by law". It is part of the infantilisation of the public. I feel there should be more acute distinctions drawn between actions in response to theoretical, airy fairy predictions, and actions that will have a clear and unarguable response, such as pensioners having to choose between eating and heating, depressed areas remaining economically depressed, or developing countries not developing because the cost of energy has been artificially inflated.

May 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Models are models; they are not reality and must be tested appropriately. If the future is involved in the construct of the model as in a prediction of the behaviour of some phenomenon in the future, then there is no option but to wait for the future in order to test the model (prediction).
The inherent unreliability of models is shown repeatedly in JE Gordon's book, "Stuctures: Why Things Don't Fall Down". This book should be required reading for anyone doing modeling - or lecturing about it.

May 20, 2012 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterMorley Sutter

Berlin is most famous for two things: for distinguishing between positive and negative liberty and for seeing Tolstoy as a fox who wanted to be a hedgehog, based on this fragment of Archilochus: "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Although the Oxford scholar was never so crass as to begin "There are two kinds of people in the world ..." the latter work led a wag to comment: "There are two kinds of people in the world: those that think that the world can be divided into two kinds of people and those that don't."

Thanks to Simon for going the extra mile in capturing Myles Allen's thoughts, the first BH thread I've clicked into for a couple of weeks (no other reason than being very busy). I have to admit that once I'd seen how Allen framed things I didn't think it worth persisting - but I'm glad that some will, for all our sakes. He's right that liberty is at the heart of this debate.

May 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Just a little O/T but I was struck by this

'even when the Met Office has the opportunity to assess its 30+-year temperature anomaly predictions in, for example, forecasts made in 1985, it chooses not to do the tests. One can only speculate as to why that might be'

Would it be too much to speculate that they have indeed done such tests (wouldn't take much more than a few days to do) but the results have been too embarrassingly bad to reveal to 'outside' eyes.

I'm pretty convinced that if they had been any good, the MO would not have been shy about letting us all know about how good they are ...they need a bit of good publicity after all the poor forecasts they have made in recent years. And what sort of tinpot forecasting organisation would it be that didn't bother to check its own long term predictions?

And though I have quite a regard for Richard Betts, who seems to be a reasonably open-minded and civil cove, it may well be that he is not privy to everything that goes on in his organisation of 1500 people.

May 20, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

An interesting report thanks for that. Taking it at face value it is interesting that people can speak at Oxford and start off from such poor initial reasoning and have people remain to listen to the rest. If he really thinks that only ~700,000 people could benefit from the encouragement of current development without mentioning BRIC and Africa’s self-directed future development which requires high density fossil then quite simply I would just think he is a fantasist.

With equal arbitrariness I think I could say it strikes me as highly plausible that the number 700,000 more appropriately reflects the minority who benefit from AGW alarm. I think it would only take about 700,000 climate scientists, politicians, NGO and media pundits – mostly in the west- to create this little sub-culture that perpetuates the alarm meme and needs the attendant lie that harm is preponderantly being done to far off minorities. They need that lie to sleep at night; to maintain their pretence that there is some geographically and chronologically far off place where all their indulgent noodling and posturing may actually count one day.

May 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

BH Unthreaded:
May 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM Messenger

The Congressional Research Service estimates that since 2008 the federal government has spent nearly $70 billion on “climate change activities.”

This thread:
May 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM The Leopard In The Basement

With equal arbitrariness I think I could say it strikes me as highly plausible that the number 700,000 more appropriately reflects the minority who benefit from AGW alarm. I think it would only take about 700,000 climate scientists, politicians, NGO and media pundits
– mostly in the west- to create this little sub-culture that perpetuates the alarm meme and needs the attendant lie that harm is preponderantly being done to far off minorities.

$70,000,000,000 / 700,000 = $100,000

May 20, 2012 at 10:10 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Richard Betts confirmed in another thread, even when the Met Office has the opportunity to assess its 30+-year temperature anomaly predictions in, for example, forecasts made in 1985, it chooses not to do the tests. One can only speculate as to why that might be.)

I suppose the Met Office could claim that it has learnt a lot over the past 30 years and therefore to judge it on the basis of predictions made so long ago would be like judging a 40 year old job applicant on the basis of his performance at school at the age of 10.

Even so, if past long term forecasts were examined and found to be seriously flawed the Met Office should, if it has learnt much, be able to explain why the forecasts were wrong and what they are doing differently today.

It is surprising that, as far as I know, none of our Members of Parliament has asked the government about the validity of past long term predictions by the Met Office. What on earth do we pay our MPs for?

May 20, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Here is the Met Office decadal forecast for the present decade:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/science/specialist/long-range/global/decadal_fc.html

If they get it wrong yet again - and we will know within a very few years - would it be reasonable to expect that they cease to spend eye-watering amounts of (our) money on this "climate alchemy" and stop winding up our ignorant politicians?

May 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

May 20, 2012 at 9:27 AM Roger Longstaff

"He gave various examples of how models had been validated..."

From everything that I have read, and exchanges with Richard Betts, I t is my personal opinion that numerical climate models are unverified, unvalidated and have demonstrated no predictive capability at all.

Anyone who has been involved in modelling physical systems where the dynamics are well understood and where one has the possibility of making as many measurements on the real system as required, can't help but find laughable the idea that climate models have been validated and can make useable predictions.

This is confirmed by the Met Office's own statements (Sligo) that their models can reproduce past climate and thereby have been validated. I don't know how anyone can say such a thing with a straight face. Even a simple look-up table can reproduce past climate with complete accuracy - but it can no more predict the future climate than my goldfish - even if the fish have access to a supercomputer powered by solar panels.

If they make such claims for climate models, how can any part of "climate science" be taken seriously?

Yet, it is obviously important to understand the climate. The whole subject needs to be redone, starting from scratch, by competent physicists, research engineers and statisticians, who have played no part in the creation of the existing groupthink delusion masquerading as "science". And who have the authority to say "we simply can't say" when they simply can't say.

May 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I may be wrong, but I believe that for any weather event, extreme or otherwise, that has happened in the last thirty years, a similar event has happened in recorded history. when it gets to a "Climate Court" any lawyer with half a brain should be able to prove this in five minutes.

May 20, 2012 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Tolson

This is incorrect.


Richard Betts confirmed in another thread, even when the Met Office has the opportunity to assess its 30+-year temperature anomaly predictions in, for example, forecasts made in 1985, it chooses not to do the tests. One can only speculate as to why that might be.)

This is a misrepresentation (or possibly merely a misunderstanding) of what I said, turning a very specific question and answer into something more general to make it look like we don't assess the long-term performance of the models - of course we do!

May 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

“0.001% of the world's population choose to benefit from emissions of CO2”.
Even burning cowpats counts as benefiting, so the figure is closer to 100%. Out by 5 magnitudes - that’s some rhetorical flourish.

May 20, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

I found this very strange: "model predictions of annual rainfall in the Congo basin matched uncannily well the "observations" (Myles himself initially doubted the extraordinarily good match, although he now accepts it's genuine. However, the "observations" weren't all one might expect because conditions for meteorologists in the Congo are understandably difficult, so there aren't any actual measurements. Instead an "in-fill" procedure was used to extend readings from safer locations to the Congo basin"

How many sets of regional rainfall records/guesses did they have to sift through to find one that matched the model output ?
What is the statistical term for that technique ?
Has Oxford gone post-modern ?

May 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobbo

For comparison of long-term climate simulations with the Met Office model against observations, see this paper.

I won't be online today I'm afraid, but will check in tomorrow.

Cheers

Richard

May 20, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

May 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM Richard Betts

This is a misrepresentation (or possibly merely a misunderstanding) of what I said...

Tact and diplomacy: Full marks!

May 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I looked at that paper, and to the uneducated eye it looks like epicycles, excuses and models all the way down. Possibly I am a little cynical. Now, what are the results when you get an independent body to check them?

May 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

From the paper referenced by Richard Betts:

"Applying an optimal detection analysis to model and observational data up to the end of 2004 updates previous analyses based on twentieth-century data only, and again finds a detectable signal of human influence on near-surface temperature changes over the previous 100 yr, when the anthropogenic fingerprint is estimated from HadGEM1. These results support previous work using HadCM3 and other models that found compelling evidence for human influence on climate over the last century"

I read this stuff and almost lose the will to live. This is the worst example of circular logic that I have ever seen!

May 20, 2012 at 12:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Not really awake (late night playing cards), but is 0.001% of the population only 70,000 people and I therefore assumed he was talking about governments.

May 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

@ Richard Betts

"This is incorrect.


Richard Betts confirmed in another thread, even when the Met Office has the opportunity to assess its 30+-year temperature anomaly predictions in, for example, forecasts made in 1985, it chooses not to do the tests. One can only speculate as to why that might be.)
This is a misrepresentation (or possibly merely a misunderstanding) of what I said, turning a very specific question and answer into something more general to make it look like we don't assess the long-term performance of the models - of course we do!"

I'm sorry if I've misrepresented (or misunderstood) what you wrote in the earlier thread where you said:

"I think that a model started in 1985 conditions would have given a best estimate of warming that was above what has actually occurred, but the lower end of the confidence range would probably still include the actual observed record. That exact study has not been done, but that would be my guess based on what we see of other forecasts started at more recent times (2005) and of long-term projections started at pre-industrial conditions and looking at the difference between 1985 and now."

So while that specific study, ie forecasting to 2012 based on 1985 input data and parameter settings to 1985, hasn't been done, it's quite true that you didn't then generalise to say that don't assess the long-term performance of models (although I might also say it's a misrepresentation of what I said to suggest that I made such a claim, but let's put that to one side).

I've looked at the paper to which you linked and, while it may be of use to a specialist, this non-specialist would like something simpler to understand. You earlier linked to a Met Office page which showed 3 x 10-year forecasts, starting in 1985, 1995 and 2005. Simple, clear, easy-to-understand (and, as I pointed out, about as good predictions as assuming that the temperature didn't change at all over the forecast-decade). What I'd be interested in seeing is something similarly straightforward for 30-year forecasts from those dates, using only input data obtained before those dates.

Other commenters have noted that it's hard to believe that the forecasts weren't made: the modellers would need an extraordinary degree of self-discipline (or lack of curiosity) not to have run the models further ahead. When combined with the overestimates of warming in the 10-year forecasts, the apparent absence of published information showing the longer-term forecasts made in the 1980s and 1990s, could be interpreted (or possibly misinterpreted...) as a suppression of rather unimpressive predictions.

Obviously when you now link to forecasts published in 1985 showing that the 2012 temperature anomaly was predicted to be ~0.3 degrees I shall eat my words, with side-orders of crow, dirt, my hat and humble pie.

May 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Robbo (May 20, 2012 at 11:36 AM) asks:

Has Oxford gone post-modern ?
Myles Allen certainly has. This is him post-Climategate:
None of us can imagine what Phil Jones is going through, and all of us know that it might be our turn next. For all I know someone is already sorting through my emails on a Russian web server. But for the record, if they do decide to pick on me, I don't want people out there defending my integrity. I want people out there defending my results. Because we are scientists, and this is what we do.
The job of scientists is apparently to defend other scientists from criticism.

May 20, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

"Myles contrasted two extreme views of how to address climate change: either continue as currently so 0.001% of the world's population choose to benefit from emissions of CO2 and the poorest 20% involuntarily suffer the consequences..."

This is "a rhetorical flourish"? It's just utterly cretinous nonsense isn't it?

May 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

@simon anthony

'I've looked at the paper to which you linked and, while it may be of use to a specialist, this non-specialist would like something simpler to understand.'

I also tried to read it. Were I to be of a cynical disposition, I might be inclined to think that the style of writing (dense and obscure) was chosen deliberately to make it difficult for the non-specialist to understand...and hence to be able to argue with. Which is arrogant and patronising to we who pay their wages.

Or perhaps these guys just can't think directly and clearly enough to be able to tell the story in an easily digestible form. Which is worrying about the level of intellect they display.

May 20, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Myles Allen is a close mate of Phil Jones. See the "Climatgare" emails :-)
I would take anything he said, including that the Earth is Round, with a large pinch of salt.

May 20, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

@ Roger Longstaff

When I read stuff like the paper from which you quote I mostly find it very hard to know what it means. With some of it, I might as well be reading medieval scholastic "proofs" of the existence of God, in the original Latin. Occasionally I glimpse what I think is their meaning and my reaction is often incredulity.

Now I used to be thought reasonably bright but it's a long time since I read much theoretical particle physics and so I'm out-of-practice on academic science papers. In particular I'm not clear whether the authors of the paper from which you quote have set up a model using measured data then tested it against that same data. Even as write that it sounds such a foolish thing to ask - surely no one would do such an obviously inadequate "test" of a supposedly predictive model? - nonetheless, that's what I'm asking. What do you think?

May 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Simon,

I understand your confusion. This whole business confused me for a long time, as obviously intelligent people tried to explain and justify "climate models"..

Like Martin A, I have spent a lot of my career working with numerical models - and I have the scars to prove it! Martin gave a textbook answer (as he has so often done before) at 11.14am. What he, I, and many others are saying is that what the Met Office is doing is impossible, given anything like our understanding of the climate system. The entire premise of climate modelling is built on sand, and, in Martin's words: "The whole subject needs to be redone, starting from scratch, by competent physicists, research engineers and statisticians".

There really is no simpler way to explain this, and anybody who continues to ask the question could not possibly undersatnd the answer.

May 20, 2012 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Roger,

Thanks for your reply. I understand all that you say and agree with it (I've also done some work on modelling non-linear systems so am aware, sometimes from first-hand experience, of the problems).

But I'm still none the wiser regarding my particular question: did the authors of the paper which Richard Betts referenced set up a model using measured data then test it against that same data? From what they've written, I just can't tell.

May 20, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

0.001% = Al Gore

May 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

May 20, 2012 at 12:12 PM | SteveW

Yes you're right ; 0.001% of 7 Billion is 70,000.

I think I have tracked down where Allen got the 0.001% figure from. It seems to derive from a presentation from a think tank called the Transnational Institute which "is an international think tank for progressive politics".

The Transnational Institute presentation also breaks up world population into quintiles so I presume is the source of Allens assertion that "the poorest 20% involuntarily suffer the consequences".

Basically they totted up all the people who have assets greater than $30 Million which was derived from this Merrill Lynch report.

So he manages to bring CO2 into an equation that simple mindedly asserts that these >$30 M people directly oppress the lowest 20% via a mechanism that just happens to be his personal hobby horse.

People like Allen are not here to help anyone in the real world, they may delude themselves they are, but they are only here to self aggrandise. I am beginning to be no longer amazed that places like Oxford are venues for this kind of drivel.

Simon Anthony, could you remember if Allen used slides from the Transnational Institute at the talk?

May 20, 2012 at 2:08 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

May 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM Rhoda

I looked at that paper, and to the uneducated eye it looks like epicycles, excuses and models all the way down. Possibly I am a little cynical. Now, what are the results when you get an independent body to check them?

I printed the paper and flipped through it, with the intention of looking at it more closely later.

I find spectrum analysis interesting so the following caught my eye:*

"We assess the model's representation of natural variability by comparing the power spectra of HadCRUT2v global annual mean near-surface temperatures with those simulated by HadGEM1".

Hmmm... I've just bought an O-scale model of a GWR castle class locomotive on Ebay!

The seller told me it is a completely accurate model - absolutely correct in every dimension and detail!

How can I be sure mine is as accurate as the seller told me? I know! You have a Castle class model too! Let's compare them!

Wow! spot on! Mine is 100% accurate! How could I have ever doubted it?


_______________________________________________________________


* Though I found the vertical scale of Figure 9 hard to understand - units of K/year. If it's a power spectrum, I'd have thought the units should be K^2.year (the square of the random variable's dimension per unit frequency ie the square of the variable's dimension x time). Does this make sense?

May 20, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

May 20, 2012 at 2:08 PM | The Leopard In The Basement

Thanks Leopard, thought I was going barmy for a spell there :-)

Well, if his arithmetic is that good, then I shall take his other pronouncements with a pinch of salt - or maybe a bucket, I struggle with orders of magnitude.

May 20, 2012 at 2:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteveW

L-in-the-B

You and SteveW are quite right: Myles did indeed claim that only 70,000 people benefit directly from CO2 emissions. I don't know the source he used but I didn't notice any reference to the Transnational Institute in the talk. I would however be surprised if he was an enthusiast for their political and social programmes. While he's certainly a strong "believer" in climate change (it seems his doubts about experts apply more to other experts, rather than himself and those who agree with him; something to which most experts seem prone), his political inclination is towards Berlin's "negative liberty" and seems to have been consistently so. Here's a quote from a piece he wrote in "The Guardian" a couple of years ago, headed "Why I won't be voting Green"...

"But we should fix the problem of climate change, which will make certain forms of energy much more expensive, and let our children decide how they wish to live their lives. I don't trust any party that sees climate change as an opportunity to push a largely unrelated social and political agenda."

So I'd be surprised if Myles had been influenced by TNI in the last couple of years; surprised but not utterly shocked.

Incidentally, along with others, Myles is giving a presentation at an event called "Climate change in court. Can we sue and who may be liable?" organised by a group called Advocates for International Development at Exchange House in London on Tuesday this week.

May 20, 2012 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Simon,

"...did the authors of the paper which Richard Betts referenced set up a model using measured data then test it against that same data?"

As far as I can tell - yes.

Please, if I have got this wrong, can someone who has more fortitude than me in looking at this stuff explain why? This is a very simple, very fundamental point!

May 20, 2012 at 2:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I thought it was just me who couldn't make much sense of it. Let's say that paper was inappropriate as a casual link in a blog comment, requiring specialist knowledge and much time to understand. Now, do they measure anything?

May 20, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

May 20, 2012 at 1:37 PM Simon Anthony

In particular I'm not clear whether the authors of the paper from which you quote have set up a model using measured data then tested it against that same data. Even as write that it sounds such a foolish thing to ask - surely no one would do such an obviously inadequate "test" of a supposedly predictive model? - nonetheless, that's what I'm asking.

Simon. You and I would find it astonishing that anyone would do such a thing. In research on pattern recognition systems, it was termed "testing on the training data" and was recognised as a way to get good looking (but useless) results.

But it's what "climate scientists" do.

Here are the Met Office's own words on the subject:

Are computer models reliable? Yes. Computer models are an essential tool in understanding how the climate will respond to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, and other external effects, such as solar outputand volcanoes.

Computer models are the only reliable way to predict changes in climate. Their reliability is tested by seeing if they are able to reproduce the past climate, which gives scientists confidence that they can also predict the future.

But computer models cannot predict the future exactly. They depend, for example, on assumptions made about the levels of future greenhouse gas emissions.

[From WARMING A guide to climate change (Met Office, 2011)]:

Note that the first paragraph is meant to convince the reader that climate models are reliable. But the "Yes" is bald. The following sentence essentially says that it's important for models to be reliable - not that they are reliable.

The silliness of the second paragraph has already been touched on. If they could not even reproduce the data used to tune their fiddle factors, it would indicate outright incompetence on the part of their programmers.

The last paragraph is clearly intended to persuade the reader that, but for the need to make assumptions about future emissions and so on, their models could predict the future precisely.

May 20, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Rhoda: "B. B. B."

May 20, 2012 at 2:56 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I would just reiterate what has been said above.

The IPCC admits that the climate is a non-linear chaotic system and also admits how much we don't know.

Yet modellers believe they can model the climate and make projections for 100 years to 0.1 C accuracy. Thankfully, the Met, the IPCC and Michael are not allowed to do anything serious like build bridges and aeroplanes (where modelling still goes wrong), open heart surgery or run banks - oh, another example of failed models.

Of course, in saying "serious" I'm ignoring their attempt to destroy the world's economy!

Paul

May 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maynard

Martin A

Unless I've misunderstood, I don't think that what you say is always the case. For example, the MO does show those 10-year predictions for temperature anomalies which (I assume) are genuine predictions, made in, say, 1985 using 1985 models and data, for the following 10 years.

If I've got that right, then they've carried out and published what you or I or any reasonable person would regard as predictions for 10 year periods (each of which, as I mischievously enjoy pointing out, could have been done as well by assuming the temperature anomaly didn't change at all).

Then the interesting question is what's become of the genuine 20- and 30-year predictions. Richard Betts said he didn't think they'd been done, at least for that 1985 forecast. It must have been so tempting for those 1985 modellers to set the end date of the computer runs to 2010, yet somehow they held back, 10 years was apparently quite long enough to think about.

Call me a cynical sceptic but I find that a little hard to believe. After all, whatever one otherwise thinks of James Hansen, he did at least make some long-term predictions.

May 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

May 20, 2012 at 3:13 PM | Paul Maynard

A perfect summary.

May 20, 2012 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Roger Longstaff

I just looked again at the latest decadal forecast from the MO's website. Its start-date is 2010 and start temperature anomaly is ~0.3 degrees. A striking aspect (although I hadn't really taken it in until now) is that, in order to correct the previous prediction, made in 2005, the starting anomaly had to be decreased from the predicted value for 2010 of ~0.55 degrees, to below the start value for the 2005 forecast.

The error after 10 years on the 1985 forecast was ~0.1 degrees, while after 5 years of the 2005 forecast, the error was ~0.25 degrees. On this simple but politically important measure, after 20 years of intensive modelling work, the forecast accuracy seems to have significantly worsened.

May 20, 2012 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Anthony

Simon, I tried to post this point earlier, but it has been stuck in moderation.

Look at the rest of the 2010 - 2020 forecast. It is predicting significant warming in the immediate future. As I have said, I do not think that we can predict the future with numerical models, however, the "quiet sun" (leading to incresed albedo) MAY indicate a decade or more of cooling, as was the case with the Dalton, or Maunder, minimum. It is at least a valid hypothesis, which can be tested over the coming years.

If, and when, the Met Office predictions for 2010 - 2020 prove to be as inaccurate as all of their other predictions, can we please stop wasting our money on this "science", and forestall the catastrophic consequences that its' flawed conclusions will have on our economy?

May 20, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

May 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Simon Anthony

Simon - I should have made it clear I was not talking about the paper referenced by R. Betts, which I have not yet done more than glance at.

I was quoting from a recent publication for (I assume) general consumption by the Met Office.
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/b/a/Warming_guide_2_Oct2011.pdf

If they have demonstrated an ability to predict climate ten years ahead, that will have been a very significant advance.

But, even if this is so, there will no doubt be skeptics who rudely point out that that the achievement is as relevant to predicting the climate far into the future as the achievement of the man who climbed a stepladder and announced that he had partly solved the problem of getting to the moon.

May 20, 2012 at 4:51 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Simon, thanks for the detailed report.

This "0.001%" figure is ludicrous --- the people pushing this line are apparently trying to drive a wedge between evil plutocrats who "profit directly" from fossil fuel extraction and all the rest of us. But this distinction is risible....

Vastly more people earn their living in some enterprise related to extracting, transporting, and utilizing fuel and energy now. Further, everyone (billions of people) who makes any significant use of modern transportation, food supply, heating and cooling, modern economics etc. benefits substantially from the energy and economic benefits of "fossil fuels"....

Sure, there are large numbers of very poor people in the world who still see little or no benefit (not that they would be enjoying ample expensive wind or solar energy if fossil fuels went away), but a large majority of the world's population enjoys better physical standards of living due to relatively efficient uses of fossil fuels. Nearly everything would cost more and/or be more difficult to obtain in the modern economy if energy and fuel sources are more expensive.

May 20, 2012 at 6:17 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

I am getting more confused.

This morning, when I looked at Met Office decadal forecasts (and my post was deleted), I found this:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/long-range/decadal-fc

This afternoon, when I checked, it seems to have changed on the MO website.

"Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't all out to get you"

May 20, 2012 at 6:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Your Grace,

2 of my posts, relating to Met Office 2010 - 2020 forecasts, have been deleted. And, as far as I can see from the prints that I fortunately made, the forecasts seem to have changed over the last few hours.

Please will you check your spam box?

May 20, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

inpiduals?

May 20, 2012 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Roger

Spam is clear. Register for the site so as to avoid spam check/captcha.

May 20, 2012 at 6:37 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

My point was that if you google "decadal forecast - met office" and "decadal prediction - met office" you see 2 different graphs.

May 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

May 20, 2012 at 7:17 PM | Roger Longstaff

Roger, are these the 2?

Decadal Prediction:-
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/decadal-prediction
Starts in 2009

Decadal Forecast:-
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/seasonal-to-decadal/long-range/decadal-fc
“starts from September 2011”

Note the statement “Previous predictions starting from June 1985, 1995 and 2005 are shown as white curves,” is not strictly correct, they are “hindcasts” and therefore are irrelevant when assessing if actual forecasting capability is improving.

May 20, 2012 at 7:38 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Thanks GS - yes, those are the 2 forecasts / predictions that were confusing me.

Look at the rate of change in predictions, for the same period, made (if you are correct) just 2 years apart. They haven'y got a bloody clue! And this is the nonsense that is wrecking our industry, and our economy.

May 20, 2012 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>