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« Department for Exaggeration, Crookery and Conmen | Main | The BBC's latest green recruit »
Tuesday
Dec022014

Niceness at home and abroad

Shub Niggurath is bemoaning the lack of venues in which there can be conversations across the lines of the climate debate.

Good discussions used to take place, on occasion, at WUWT or BH. There were brief periods when the old Collide-a-scape blog and Bart Verheggen’s site provided such moments. They are hard to come by now. Maybe the consensus and conspiracy poison spread mindlessly and artlessly throughout the blogs by certain people is to blame.

He's right of course. I have struggled long and hard to make BH the venue where that can happen, but it seems that a visit from, say Richard or Tamsin is guaranteed to get some people riled, with the result that moderation becomes a full-time occupation. I can't afford to spend that amount of time on it.

Still, it's interesting to see that from some people's perspective, the limited exchanges here at BH are something to aspire to. As Judy Curry explains in her retrospective post on climategate, the state of the climate debate, and in particular the recent furore over Tim Ball's posting at WUWT and the riposte by Richard and Tamsin.

...the 1100 comments at WUWT were absolutely vitriolic against Betts and Edwards.  On twitter, the vitriolic comments were coming from the warm side, i.e. how stupid they were to post at WUWT...Well, it seems Betts and Edwards are trying to promote civility, something that the UK does pretty well.  Presumably they thought that posting at WUWT would be like posting at BishopHill.  NOT.  Climate change and social media is mostly blood sport over in the US (and Australia and Canada), where the situation remains very polarized and polarizing.

So I guess things could be worse. But please, everyone, do try to keep the temperature down when a comment thread features someone you disagree with. Even if they refuse to admit they are wrong or refuse to engage with your arguments or misquote you. If you start a shouting match, few people will hang around to see how right you are.

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Reader Comments (422)

Really? You think it's just that they're not much good, rather than you having an over-inflated sense of your own abilities?

Yes, I think they are not much good. Sorry about that but that's what I think.

And I have a good measure of my abilities, both from my own accomplishments and from the recognition I have received from the people I have worked with in well known research labs.

Dec 5, 2014 at 10:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Anyone with any real experience of a career in scientific research will understand (etc etc etc)
Dec 5, 2014 at 7:24 PM Noel Darlow

Noel, somehow I infer from that either that you do not work in scientific research or that if you do, then you are - shall we say - at the very early stages of your career. UEA research student perhaps?

And me? If I outlined some of my own career in research and my accomplishments you'd either be impressed or, more likely, you'd think I was just making it up.

Dec 5, 2014 at 10:40 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin,


And I have a good measure of my abilities

I would suggest that you seriously consider that you don't. Are you being serious, or just joking? Do you not think that maybe you should just stop for a moment and think about whether or not you should really be saying publicly "I'm really incredibly bright and am actually so bright that I know more about an area in which I'm not actually an expert than those who are recognised as experts". You could be right, but if not you're going to look like a right prat.

Dec 5, 2014 at 10:49 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

@attp: "Ahh, that was just pointing out that I seem to spend most of my time on this site discussion moderation on my site. It just seems childish (i.e., you grow up :-) )"

WTF are you on about, you seem to have completely lost the plot.

Dec 5, 2014 at 11:09 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

lmfao...ah yes...moderationj at ATTP....cenosring people who ask questions while allowing chimps and baboons such as BBD and Verytallguy and the palm oilguy to hurl abuse and invective at everyone who dares to question them. And just look at the crap they come out with...BBD - the rent-a-gob of stupidity.

And then he wonders why it is impossible to have dialogue.

Shrugs.

Dec 5, 2014 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Shub is a quack.

Dec 5, 2014 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

and maybe Eli is a duck

Dec 6, 2014 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

silly goose

Dec 6, 2014 at 2:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Bish writes:

Even if they refuse to admit they are wrong or refuse to engage with your arguments or misquote you. If you start a shouting match, few people will hang around to see how right you are.

While I may in the past have inadvertently committed such transgressions, Your Grace, I have always tried my very best to keep on the side of civility. But this post of yours seems to have inspired someone to send out a signal of what one might call "send in the [deliberately diversionary] clowns.

For example, consider the copious "contributions" of the vacuously verbose Noel Darlow who seems to have chosen to shadow the attention-seeking "I'm leaving" ... 'but I'm back' ATTPH..

Because I have not yet been able to find any evidence to the contrary, my current perceptions of Darlow are coloured not only by his magnificent failures to honestly address the questions, critiques and points of those who have valiantly attempted to engage him in dialogue, but also by the twit-profile known as @noeldarlow who has been tweeting (and/or more often retweeting) since 2011.

This particular Noel Darlow is described by his (presumed) buddy - the somewhat higher profile author, Andy Wightman - as a web coding guru from Ayrshire.

Furthermore, this particular Darlow has chosen to follow such illustrious twitterati as Mann, Schmidt, Mandia & Nuccitelli (amongst others) This would certainly explain his "debating" and/or "documentation" skills - or, more to the point, his rermarkably obvious lack thereof.

In any event, diversion seems to be the name of Darlow's game! Which is not particularly surprising considering (for example) his Dec 5, 2014 at 10:52 AM "response" (for want of a better word) to my comment of Dec 5, 2014 at 6:42 AM

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:13 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Salopian,


WTF are you on about, you seem to have completely lost the plot.

Okay, you explain why my moderation policy has anything to do with what I say here. As I understand it (and especially given the apparent preponderance of UKIP supporters on this site) I should be aiming to behave more like the locals, not aiming to behave as I would at home.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Entropic Man

"The problem with the internet is that you can find a site somewhere telling you whatever you want to hear. Search engines rapidly learn your preferences and pull up sites which match. An environmentalist will find the internet full of sites telling him of the dangers of climate change. A climate change sceptic will find the internet full of sites telling him that climate change is wrong."

I don't object to further rational discussion with you, (albeit, the Harries paper was almost at the level of time-wasting distraction) but please, I haven't patronised you, so don't do it to me. And the same would also apply to almost all of the contributors here who I consider have probably weighed the climate change evidence as well, or perhaps better, than I have. I have a physics Ph.D ( energy trapping in carbon molecules) so I'll use the internet as a tool to explore the physics of climate change free of bias - just the same as you do.

Tree ring ptemperature proxy work is not really the headline topic, but the field of tree ring proxy analysis has been marred by corruption and appalling statistical analyisis to the point where it is laughable. It might just be possible to use trees as wooden thermometers, but the methods used to date do not impress me. As a side interest I have been involved in a project to reconstruct an oak boat built in the 16th century and had the priviliege to work alongside a leading dendrochronoligist. The painstaking effort to establish a local dendrochronology and link that to chronologies of adjacent areas was very impressive. Something similar and far more exact is surely required with use of tree rings as a proxy for temperatures if accurate measurements are to result?

And yes, there is a large resource of data:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/paleoclimatology-data
but there's little point using this data and at the same time disregarding written records from the time.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Hilary Ostrov

Thanks for the above information; very useful.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Hilary Ostrov: there seems to be little doubt that and Then There’s P[@$$-taking]hysics and Noel D[unno]arlow are intent on distraction or diversion rather than reasonable discussion. You only have to look how quickly they revert to personal invective to see that. It might be interesting to get behind the logic of their thinking; are they so convinced that they are right that they cannot countenance different views, or are they so terrified of being wrong that they have to pour bile upon those who they might think could show them to be wrong?

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

@Martin A

"Anybody with a degree in one of the hard sciences - physics, chemistry, engineering can pick up a paper from "climate science" and read it, following the reasoning and spotting the flaws in the arguments

Anyone with any real experience of a career in scientific research will understand how highly specialised this area has become. It takes time and training/mentoring to get up to speed. You might be able to follow some lines of argument, up to a point, but the significance of certain points or common assumptions would not be apparent to the inexperienced. You would have to be very careful not to presume a competence which you do not have.

In essence, you'd always need someone to check your homework. Some days you might get a B. Other days a D.

"A web coding guru from Ayrshire" Dec 5, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Haha.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Radical,


You only have to look how quickly they revert to personal invective to see that.

Really? My understanding is that "personal invective" means "abusive language aimed at another person". Are you going to back up this claim and point out where? I'm not claiming that I haven't been somewhat critical of what some people have said, but "abusive"? In fact, I'd thought we'd been having quite an interesting discussion earlier, but apparently that was me just taking the piss.

Additionally, I find it a little ironic that you've thanked Hilary for what appears to be a rather personal attack on Noel Darrow (well, certainly playing the man rather than the ball) while criticising others for making personal attacks (which I can't quite remember seeing). Of course, maybe everyone here is simply incredibly sensitive and don't like being criticised. That's fine, if so, but maybe make this clearer. It's also rather odd given the ease with which people here seem willing to attack others.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP
Darlow has, to use a legal term. "let in his convictions".
By claiming that only a climate scientist is entitled to comment on climate science (I paraphrase but that was the thrust of his argument) he immediately permits the rest of us to ask what qualifications he has to comment on the subject or on other people's qualifications.
Like Hilary I have been unable to pin down just what his qualifications are but I'm happy to take his pal's description of web coding guru (whatever that is) from Ayrshire. He is also an environmental activist which, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, suggests that he is more likely to be a soft science or arts graduate than a serious science one.
Either way, since I cannot find any evidence that he has authored any papers on climate we can assume that he is no more qualified to pontificate on the subject than most of us and certainly less so than Capell whose PhD appears to relate to a subject (energy trapping in carbon molecules) not totally unrelated to one of the hot topics of the moment.
In any event the idea that you need to have a qualification in climatology ("whatever that is", you say, ATTP, and you're right; there is really no such discipline) is simply one of the excuses that supporters of the "consensus" trot out as a lazy excuse for not addressing the argument.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:41 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

ATT, almost no sceptic has done what you do on this thread, at your blog - writing snarky comments directed at almost everyone encountered one a single thread. Show me one person who does so, or can do so, on your blog.

Even if your perception was true, why be 'like the locals'? Does that represent you?

'Being rude' is not the problem. Being rude to people who are prevented from responding is. Darlow is capable with the big words, he is free to comment, he can reply and fight back.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM | Registered Commentershub

Mike,


In any event the idea that you need to have a qualification in climatology ("whatever that is", you say, ATTP, and you're right; there is really no such discipline) is simply one of the excuses that supporters of the "consensus" trot out as a lazy excuse for not addressing the argument.

I don't believe that that is a correct interpretation of what is being said and is certainly not my view. I think anyone can comment on climate science. Here is my personal view, though. There is a lot of evidence out there and the ultimate source of information is the peer-reviewed literature. Of course, not all the peer-reviewed literature has the same value; some is good and some is bad. Discussing the value of the evidence on blogs and discussing the scientific literature is a good thing. However, if one is going to overturn something that is broadly accepted, then one should really do so by publishing one's research. It's hard to take a discussion seriously if one party is arguing against a broadly accepted scientific position using their own opinion and not using published evidence. Of course, there may be a chance that someone doing so may end up being correct but it is hard to see the point of such discussions if the party taking the contrary position can't be bothered to publish their ground-braking work.

So, to be clear, I certainly don't think that only those with qualifications in climatology can comment on climate science. I simply think that it's hard to take non-experts seriously if they base their views on unpublished blog-research. So, for example, what Nic Lewis does should be applauded and is proof that people can simply go out, do some research of their own, and get it published.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Shub,


ATT, almost no sceptic has done what you do on this thread, at your blog - writing snarky comments directed at almost everyone encountered one a single thread. Show me one person who does so, or can do so, on your blog.

Firstly, people do make snarky comments on my blog without being moderated (although it is sometimes discouraged and sometimes moderated). However, maybe you can explain - logically - why my blog's moderation rules are relevant here. All I'm obliged to do is obey this blog's moderation rules. I'm not obliged to obey my own blog's moderation rules, when commenting on another blog. My moderation rules are not based on some idea of what should be universally accepted. They're based on what I'm willing to allow on my blog. I don't expect others to have the same rules on their blog.

Also, maybe you can explain where I've actually been "rude" and somehow to everyone on the thread. Snarky, sure, but based on what I've seen, people here should be able to take it. Or, are you suggesting that those who comment here can dish it out, but can't take it? I could be more patronising (ooh, aren't you all so clever) a less critical, but that wouldn't seem particularly honest. It should be obvious that I don't think highly of this blog, what is presented on this blog, and the tone or scientific content of most comments. I don't believe that making my view clear is quite the same as being rude. Impolite and not very decent, maybe, but I don't see the point of having serious discussions where you don't make your position clear.

Dec 6, 2014 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP
Don't be disingenuous. Peer-review is not the be-all and end-all and I could equally argue that while "you aren't a climate scientist" is the activist's excuse for sticking his fingers in his ears and humming, "you haven't published ..." is the climate scentist's equivalent.
The Climategate emails were quite clear that the hard core of the climate science coterie was prepared to take (virtually) any steps — moral or immoral, and I won't comment on legality — to prevent papers contrary to the consensus seeing the light of day.
What they, and apparently you, have missed is that you no longer need to jump through their hoops to publish. You can use the blogosphere and there are enough people around who know their subject to provide peer review without being cherry-picked by a journal editor with an axe to grind or his arm up his back.
As you pointed out, "climatology" is not a subject in its own right. It involves physics (and a variety of the sub-disciplines therein), chemistry, biology (and its sub-divisions), geology, astrophysics maybe, palaeontology (if you're careful), history (if you're prepared to believe that mankind's recording of the weather as he experienced it was accurate; something that climateers are very reluctant to acknowledge), statistics (and look how many of them have come unstuck because they don't know that subject) and probably a couple I've missed.
Of course, this applies to virtually any discipline you care to name which is why the scientific establishment hates the idea with a vengeance but I'm afraid that's the way it is.
And if you look closely you will find the place is full of people who tell us that "the science is settled" (please forgive the shorthand) because their pals in climate research tell them it is, but have never done any study of the subject themselves and on the other side people with no "relevant" qualifications (or not as relevant as the climateers would wish) but have spent a lot of time researching the available data with a somewhat more jaundiced eye than the scientists are prepared to use.
Not to mention a sizeable number in between.
The other point, which I consider important though you may well disagree, is that the blogosphere allows some very weird hypotheses to see the light of day and there is an interesting assortment of web sites around that seem to specialise in these. Nutters they may well turn out to be but every one of the plausible ones backed by plausible data ought to be taken seriously for at least as long as it takes to prove they're rubbish. If nothing else they should make scientists examine their own ideas which in the current state of climate research (ie it's barely out of the womb) would be no bad thing.

Dec 6, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike,


Peer-review is not the be-all and end-all .....The Climategate emails

Ahh, okay, I see. Sure, I agree. If you think there is some kind of underlying flaw in the field or some kind of major conspiracy, then you're right. You would then need to consider more than just the peer-reviewed literature. I was talking specifically about the science itself, assuming that there isn't some kind of underlying conspiracy.

The problem I have, is that I don't think there is some kind of major underlying conspiracy or some kind of major problem with climate science that isn't present in other fields. I find the "but Climategate...." argument extremely weak.

Dec 6, 2014 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP,
I'm only using the Climategate argument to point out the corruption of the the peer-review process and I see that on that score we agree.
I think I would be justified in adding that that behaviour does cast some doubt on the probity of the participants though, and by extension justifies my taking their pronouncements with a pinch of salt but that is a different argument. I don't know about conspiracy. I try very hard not to believe in conspiracies because experience tells me that for every conspiracy there are a dozen cock-ups. On the other hand I stand by my oft-repeated argument (for which there is plenty of evidence) that climate, especially the demonisation of CO2, has provided a very useful peg on which to hang a movement aimed at de-industrialisation of the west which had its beginnings over 40 years ago. Before you dismiss that as a conspiracy theory I suggest you do some reading. It won't be difficult to find the evidence, much of it from the mouths of those directly involved!
Whether the climate scientists are simply tools in this or willing participants I couldn't possibly say.

Dec 6, 2014 at 2:48 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

This an interesting thread and demonstrates the extent to which belief in the magical powers of manmade CO2 is a religion. The believers will not acknowledge anything that challenges their belief system. If there were ice bergs in the Thames they would still be clinging to their failed dogma - at least those who had not by then jumped on the global cooling bandwagon.

Global warming is a political game. The science has been highjacked for the ride. The science as we know is always framed in terms that cannot be falsified so there is no point in even trying to persuade the true believers that any part of their belief system is wrong.

The only way to beat this insidious attack on our freedoms is in the political arena. I am not here to campaign for a political party but first of all for a realisation that this is a political problem. Arguing with ATTP may be entertaining but it completely misses the point. We need to spread the word so eloquently summarised by Benny Peiser in an earlier post

The EU's unilateral climate policy is absurd: first consumers are forced to pay ever increasing subsidies for costly wind and solar energy; secondly they are asked to subsidise nuclear energy too; then, thirdly, they are forced to pay increasingly uneconomic coal and gas plants to back up power needed by intermittent wind and solar energy; fourthly, consumers are additionally hit by multi-billion subsidies that become necessary to upgrade the national grids; fifthly, the cost of power is made even more expensive by adding a unilateral Emissions Trading Scheme. Finally, because Europe has created such a foolish scheme that is crippling its heavy industries, consumers are forced to pay even more billions in subsidising almost the entire manufacturing sector.

(H/T Philip Bratby)

The utter stupidity of EU energy policy, as blindly yet eagerly embraced by the UK establishment, needs to be highlighted and attacked at every possible opportunity. That is where this battle will be won. There will come a point where there will be a major failure of supply of electricity in a developed country and/or the price of electricity will become unacceptably high and the people will be on the streets. An ongoing pause will speed the day.

The gap between rich and poor in this country is widening with each passing year. The poor are hit hardest by our government's regressive energy policy and, as an aside, the poor are disadvantaged substantially more than the rich by uncontrolled immigration that encourages low paid immigrants to come to our country. The poor will only take it for so long.

The only thing that I will add is that I think it highly unlikely that it will be Russell Brand who leads the revolution.

Dec 6, 2014 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

Mike,


I'm only using the Climategate argument to point out the corruption of the the peer-review process and I see that on that score we agree.

Let's be a little careful here. I agree that there are flaws in the peer-review process, some of them quite serious and worth trying to fix and others probably unavoidable and ultimately not that significant (in the sense that science can be self-correcting). I would never describe it as corrupt.


Whether the climate scientists are simply tools in this or willing participants I couldn't possibly say.

Or, you're simply wrong.

H20,
I'll say two things. One is that the possibility that some policies we've introduced are particularly stupid (as some almost certainly are) does not imply that climate change is not something we should be considering when thinking about our future. Secondly, you should possibly consider that addressing climate change could help to resolve some of the undoubtedly serious problems that you mention. Just because you disagree with what some people think we should do, doesn't mean that their goals are inconsistent with yours.

Dec 6, 2014 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP
"There is a lot of evidence out there and the ultimate source of information is the peer-reviewed literature. "

No it's the climate itself and observations thereof. And as long as the pause continues, the tropospheric hot-spot doesn't reveal itself, sea level change does not accelerate, and polar melting remains asymetric, the evidence for serious climate change remains low.

But hey, let's savour the conundrum Darlow posed HO:
' I can only imagine what you would have to say if the evidence presented by the IPCC for AGW was "we don't have any evidence for anthropogenic forcings but we can't rule them out".'

Tell him to Occam off.

Dec 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

ATTP
Sorry, I wasn't quite clear.
When I used the word "corruption" I was suggesting that the process had been corrupted by the activities of certain people not that the process was irredeemably corrupt, Subtle but important difference and I took it that you agreed with that assessment.
What I might be "simply wrong" about you'll need to explain.
The long-term plans for the de-industrialisation of the world are well documented from Earth Day 1970 onwards. If you think I am wrong about that you'll need to convince me by at least reading some of the copious evidence. Start with Limits to Growth and the pronouncements of Maurice Strong amongst others and work from there.
Climate (and therefore by extension the "science" of climate) has been co-opted to further this cause. Again, the evidence is there if you look hard enough. Climate scientists are either aware of this objective and happy to go along with it which makes them participants or they aren't which makes them tools.
Since that was the choice I offered I cannot be "wrong" unless you can prove my original hypothesis wrong.

Dec 6, 2014 at 4:40 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Capell,


And as long as the pause continues,

What pause? You, I assume, mean the slowdown in surface warming, which is only associated with a few percent of the AGW-induced planetary energy imbalance.


the tropospheric hot-spot doesn't reveal itself,

Okay, not sure about this one but am not sure it was predicted to have revealed itself yet.


sea level change does not accelerate

It has, relative to the pre-1900 rate.


polar melting remains asymetric

Only sea ice. Total ice mass continues to reduce.


the evidence for serious climate change remains low.

Serious is a judgement. That AGW is happening is indisputable.

Dec 6, 2014 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

the tropospheric hot-spot doesn't reveal itself,
Okay, not sure about this one but am not sure it was predicted to have revealed itself yet.
Ping!! And with one bound he was free!
Thanks, ATTP, you've just provided us with a sneak preview of the next excuse.
The tropospheric hotspot was supposedly the marker for AGW. No hotspot, no AGW. No "it will happen next year ... er, 2010 ...er, 2015 ...er, well some time, anyway".
The powers that decide these things were quite categorical.

Dec 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike,


What I might be "simply wrong" about you'll need to explain.

Oh, I just got the impression that you were suggesting that there is something fundamentally wrong with climate science specifically (as opposed to it simply suffering from the same issues that best academic research in particular and the human race in general). I don't think there is and I don't think there is any reason to distrust climate science in any particular way. That's not to suggest that one should trust every bit of research, simply that the general picture being presented by climate research is probably broadly correct. We have warmed, it is mostly us, if we continue to increase out emissions we will continue to warm, it could be substantial if we increase our emissions substantially, etc.....

Dec 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

No, I'm not suggesting a problem with climate science specifically though the report about how the EU came to ban neonicotinoids on the back of environmental activists telling lies (well, who would have guessed?) simply adds credence to the idea that any "scientist" involved in research of an environmental nature needs to be very carefully watched.
I'm afraid that in the field of climate, pesticide, crop research, and indeed anything to do with the environment there are an awful lot of people out there for whom the Environment is an obsession if not a religion and for whom the end justifies the means.
So while I don't fundamentally disagree with you, I am not as convinced as you are that we are necessarily responsible for as much of the recent warming as the scientists would like us to believe or that CO2 emissions (because it is CO2 we're talking about) are quite as demonic as the anti-fossil fuel green activists would like us to believe.
Beyond that we'll need to agree to differ. But nice talking to you!

Dec 6, 2014 at 5:37 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Anders,

have a go a these:

AR5 TS.6 Key Uncertainties

This final section of the Technical Summary provides readers with a
short overview of key uncertainties in the understanding of the climate
system and the ability to project changes in response to anthropogenic
influences. The overview is not comprehensive and does not describe in
detail the basis for these findings. These are found in the main body of
this Technical Summary and in the underlying chapters to which each
bullet points in the curly brackets.
TS.6.1 Key Uncertainties in Observation of Changes in
the Climate System
• There is only medium to low confidence in the rate of change of
tropospheric warming and its vertical structure. Estimates of tropospheric
warming rates encompass surface temperature warming
rate estimates. There is low confidence in the rate and vertical
structure of the stratospheric cooling. {2.4.4}
• Confidence in global precipitation change over land is low prior
to 1951 and medium afterwards because of data incompleteness.
{2.5.1}
• Substantial ambiguity and therefore low confidence remains in the
observations of global-scale cloud variability and trends. {2.5.6}
• There is low confidence in an observed global-scale trend in
drought or dryness (lack of rainfall), due to lack of direct observations,
methodological uncertainties and choice and geographical
inconsistencies in the trends. {2.6.2}
• There is low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial)
changes in tropical cyclone characteristics are robust, after
accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. {2.6.3}
• Robust conclusions on long-term changes in large-scale atmospheric
circulation are presently not possible because of large variability
on interannual to decadal time scales and remaining differences
between data sets. {2.7}
• Different global estimates of sub-surface ocean temperatures have
variations at different times and for different periods, suggesting
that sub-decadal variability in the temperature and upper heat
content (0 to to 700 m) is still poorly characterized in the historical
record. {3.2}
• Below ocean depths of 700 m the sampling in space and time is
too sparse to produce annual global ocean temperature and heat
content estimates prior to 2005. {3.2.4}
• Observational coverage of the ocean deeper than 2000 m is still
limited and hampers more robust estimates of changes in global
ocean heat content and carbon content. This also limits the quantification
of the contribution of deep ocean warming to sea level
rise. {3.2, 3.7, 3.8; Box 3.1}
• The number of continuous observational time series measuring the
strength of climate relevant ocean circulation features (e.g., the
meridional overturning circulation) is limited and the existing time
series are still too short to assess decadal and longer trends. {3.6}.
• In Antarctica, available data are inadequate to assess the status
of change of many characteristics of sea ice (e.g., thickness and
volume). {4.2.3}
• On a global scale the mass loss from melting at calving fronts and
iceberg calving are not yet comprehensively assessed. The largest
uncertainty in estimated mass loss from glaciers comes from the
Antarctic, and the observational record of ice–ocean interactions
around both ice sheets remains poor. {4.3.3, 4.4}
TS.6.2 Key Uncertainties in Drivers of Climate Change
• Uncertainties in aerosol–cloud interactions and the associated
radiative forcing remain large. As a result, uncertainties in aerosol
forcing remain the dominant contributor to the overall uncertainty
in net anthropogenic forcing, despite a better understanding of
some of the relevant atmospheric processes and the availability of
global satellite monitoring. {2.2, 7.3–7.5, 8.5}
• The cloud feedback is likely positive but its quantification remains
difficult. {7.2}
• Paleoclimate reconstructions and Earth System Models indicate
that there is a positive feedback between climate and the carbon
cycle, but confidence remains low in the strength of this feedback,
particularly for the land. {6.4}
TS.6.3 Key Uncertainties in Understanding the Climate
System and Its Recent Changes
• The simulation of clouds in AOGCMs has shown modest improvement
since AR4; however, it remains challenging. {7.2, 9.2.1, 9.4.1,
9.7.2}
• Observational uncertainties for climate variables other than temperature,
uncertainties in forcings such as aerosols, and limits in
process understanding continue to hamper attribution of changes
in many aspects of the climate system. {10.1, 10.3, 10.7}
• Changes in the water cycle remain less reliably modelled in both
their changes and their internal variability, limiting confidence in
attribution assessments. Observational uncertainties and the large
effect of internal variability on observed precipitation also precludes
a more confident assessment of the causes of precipitation
changes. {2.5.1, 2.5.4, 10.3.2}
• Modelling uncertainties related to model resolution and incorporation
of relevant processes become more important at regional
scales, and the effects of internal variability become more significant.
Therefore, challenges persist in attributing observed change
to external forcing at regional scales. {2.4.1, 10.3.1}
• The ability to simulate changes in frequency and intensity of
extreme events is limited by the ability of models to reliably simulate
mean changes in key features. {10.6.1}
• In some aspects of the climate system, including changes in
drought, changes in tropical cyclone activity, Antarctic warming,
Antarctic sea ice extent, and Antarctic mass balance, confidence
in attribution to human influence remains low due to modelling
uncertainties and low agreement between scientific studies.
{10.3.1, 10.5.2, 10.6.1}
TS.6.4 Key Uncertainties in Projections of Global and
Regional Climate Change
• Based on model results there is limited confidence in the predictability
of yearly to decadal averages of temperature both for the
global average and for some geographical regions. Multi-model
results for precipitation indicate a generally low predictability.
Short-term climate projection is also limited by the uncertainty in
projections of natural forcing. {11.1, 11.2, 11.3.1, 11.3.6; Box 11.1}
• There is medium confidence in near-term projections of a northward
shift of NH storm track and westerlies. {11.3.2}
• There is generally low confidence in basin-scale projections of significant
trends in tropical cyclone frequency and intensity in the
21st century. {11.3.2, 14.6.1}
• Projected changes in soil moisture and surface run off are not
robust in many regions. {11.3.2, 12.4.5}
• Several components or phenomena in the climate system could
potentially exhibit abrupt or nonlinear changes, but for many phenomena
there is low confidence and little consensus on the likelihood
of such events over the 21st century. {12.5.5}
• There is low confidence on magnitude of carbon losses through
CO2 or CH4 emissions to the atmosphere from thawing permafrost.
There is low confidence in projected future CH4 emissions
from natural sources due to changes in wetlands and gas hydrate
release from the sea floor. {6.4.3, 6.4.7}
• There is medium confidence in the projected contributions to sea
level rise by models of ice sheet dynamics for the 21st century, and
low confidence in their projections beyond 2100. {13.3.3}
• There is low confidence in semi-empirical model projections of
global mean sea level rise, and no consensus in the scientific community
about their reliability. {13.5.2, 13.5.3}
• There is low confidence in projections of many aspects of climate
phenomena that influence regional climate change, including
changes in amplitude and spatial pattern of modes of climate variability.
{9.5.3, 14.2–14.7}

Dec 6, 2014 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterIbrahim

"We have warmed, it is mostly us, if we continue to increase out emissions we will continue to warm, it could be substantial if we increase our emissions substantially, etc....."

Perhaps some astrologers might say this too.

Dec 6, 2014 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Anders,

I'd realy like to see your opinion on this paper:

CMIP5 historical simulations (1850–2012) with GISS ModelE2 (2014)

http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/mi08910y.html

Dec 6, 2014 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterIbrahim

"And as long as the pause continues,

What pause? "

The pause in avergae global temperature that's lasted (variously) 18, or 26 years and for which there are now over 40 different explanations. That's the one.

Everyone knows aboput the missing tropopause hot spot. There have been various feeble explanations for that as well!

Sea level rate of rise: it hasn't risen after 1930. It didn't even decelerate during the period 1940-70.

Serious as in needing to ruin the economies of the western world and driving the thrid world into energy poverty - that sort of serious.

As this thread is probably winding down, here's a little problem to take away.

The IPCC allows that various gases in the atmosphere are greenhouse gases - but excludes oxygen for a reason I don't understand. Since oxygen is like all other gases in the classical physics description of a gas, it has it's own partial pressure, thermal capacity, etc. In short, it follows the gas law formula we all know PV=RT (taking P and V in this case to be the partial pressures for each gas molecule).

CO2 is also in that pile, doing its bit as a classical gas molecule. And because these atmosphere gas molecules can absorb and conduct heat, they add to the heat-loss process from the earth's surface and effectively lift the energy balance point away from the earth's surface. The surface thus becomes warmer. Thus, your greenhouse effect.

But CO2 (and other molecules) has a quantum mechanical gimmic which says it can absorb/trap energy. When that happens, the CO2 molecule absorbs a precise quanta of energy and uses this to change the pattern of the valence bonds of the molecule. If it hadn't done this, the molecule would have simply undergone a usual energy exchange collision which would have contributed to the thermal agitation of that molecule. But in the quantum absorbing case, the energy has gone into a different sink. the molecule 'temperature' has not changed. Effectively, that molecule has cooled the atmosphere!

Now of course, the energy traps are quite low and thermal agitation releases the quantum absorbtion very quickly; at that point, the thermal energy apparently reappears, and the whole thermal agitation/conduction that takes place in the atmosphere continues.

But how on earth does this CO2 quantum trapping contribute to the greenhouse effect?

Dec 6, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

Good post, Ibrahim. Basically what it says is, "when you get right down do it, guys, we don't know sh1t!"
I like this:

There is low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone characteristics are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.
Bureaucratese for "All you people who are trying to tell us that there are more hurricanes than ever are talking through your backsides. The reason you think there are more is because more people with better equipment have been looking."
Which most people outside the Climate Mutual Admiration Society have been saying for years!

Dec 6, 2014 at 7:12 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

When you look at Ibrahim's post, it seems to demolish most of ATTP's concerns. I believe these are: sea level is rising, ice is decreasing and temperatures will rise 2k by the 2040s and it is all the fault of us pesky humans.

• There is low confidence in semi-empirical model projections of
global mean sea level rise, and no consensus in the scientific community
about their reliability. {13.5.2, 13.5.3}.

• In Antarctica, available data are inadequate to assess the status
of change of many characteristics of sea ice (e.g., thickness and
volume). {4.2.3}
• On a global scale the mass loss from melting at calving fronts and
iceberg calving are not yet comprehensively assessed. The largest
uncertainty in estimated mass loss from glaciers comes from the
Antarctic, and the observational record of ice–ocean interactions
around both ice sheets remains poor. {4.3.3, 4.4}

• Based on model results there is limited confidence in the predictability
of yearly to decadal averages of temperature both for the
global average and for some geographical regions.

• Observational uncertainties for climate variables other than temperature,
uncertainties in forcings such as aerosols, and limits in
process understanding continue to hamper attribution of changes
in many aspects of the climate system. {10.1, 10.3, 10.7}

In other words, the IPCC seem to be more closely aligned to sceptical or lukewarmer positions than they are to the positions espoused on Ander's blog. He consistently seems to take the higher end of the estimated ranges without any consideration of their unlikeliness. Perhaps that's why he feels it is appropriate to let his baboon-like supporters (eg BBD) swear at people who disagree with them and provide reasoned arguments. I guess Steve Bloom will be calling for a purge of the IPCC now.

Dec 6, 2014 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Ibrahim,
I'm not quite sure what you're expecting of me. I don't really have any particular issues with any of the statements you've quoted and am not sure why you want my opinion on that paper. I've never claimed that we know with certainty what will happen in the future. My understanding is that we're quite confident about the range of future warming and quite confident about the changes to the hydrological cycle (precipitation). Beyond that things get more uncertain but - I would argue - that adding more energy to the climate system will have an impact on our climate. Could it be positive? I guess we can't rule that out, but given that we can't live without technology anywhere where the wet bulb temperature exceeds 35oC, this might seem unlikely (or, rather, that if it is initially positive, it would quite quickly become negative).

So, I'm certainly not convinced that what you've presented is any reason not to consider the significance of climate change when considering future policy Just because we don't know with certainty what will happen is certainly not an argument for waiting to find out. I also assume that you realise that the "low confidence" (for example) mentioned in your quotes is more an illustration that we don't know with confidence what will actually happen, not that we think nothing will happen.

Dec 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

@ATTP: "I could be more patronising (ooh, aren't you all so clever) a less critical, but that wouldn't seem particularly honest. It should be obvious that I don't think highly of this blog, what is presented on this blog, and the tone or scientific content of most comments. I don't believe that making my view clear is quite the same as being rude. Impolite and not very decent, maybe,"

The word sociopath comes to mind, but then you, no doubt, know more about life sciences as well as physics, than 'those who comment here'?

Dec 6, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Diogenes,


He consistently seems to take the higher end of the estimated ranges without any consideration of their unlikeliness.

No I don't. Do you actually read what I write? If you do, why not try interpreting it in a manner consistent with what I actually write, not in a manner consistent with what you think I was trying to write.

I'll make a comment about this.


There is low confidence in semi-empirical model projections of
global mean sea level rise, and no consensus in the scientific community
about their reliability. {13.5.2, 13.5.3}.

What you're missing is this,

The basis for higher projections of global mean sea level rise in the 21st century has been considered and it has been concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to evaluate the probability of specific levels above the assessed likely range.

In other words, your quote only refers to the possibility that the sea level rise could be even higher than suggested by their likely range, not that sea level won't rise and that the rate of rise won't increase.

Dec 6, 2014 at 8:27 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Salopian,


The word sociopath comes to mind, but then you, no doubt, know more about life sciences as well as earth sciences, 'than those who comment here?

No, I don't know very much about the life sciences or the earth sciences. I did think, however, that it would be unlikely that a sociopath would state quite bluntly what they actually thought. Then again, I'm no expert. I will add, though, that when someone suggests that I'm a sociopath, I should probably regard the discussion as over and probably regard the person making the suggestion as someone who I should avoid.

Dec 6, 2014 at 8:34 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

May I tender another observation on the true believer. Their belief is always one-dimensional. When you strip back all the bloviation and get to the core of their belief system it is very simple: CO2 is a greenhouse gas; adding more CO2 to the atmosphere will cause more warming because radiative physics says so. They then make the assumption that that warming will be dangerous and has to be stopped.

That such an approach to the complexities of climate science is facile is but a truism, but it is the reason why there is no point discussing science with a true believer. They will always fall back on their core belief. The fact that computer models cannot, do not and likely never will make any reliable predictions is immaterial and the reason it is immaterial is because the core belief is pre-programmed into the models and naturally stipulates there will be warming, and dangerous warming at that.

I saw ATTP claim in an earlier post that he is a scientist. He may be by some sort of academic accreditation but in the part of his life that we here at BH witness he demonstrates beyond all reasonable doubt that he is a true believer. Rarely, if ever, do believers change their belief systems.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

"All I'm obliged to do is obey this blog's moderation rules. I'm not obliged to obey my own blog's moderation rules,"

A sociopath is someone who flouts rules of social interaction but feels no particular remorse doing so.

You have one set of rules for yourself - you are nice to people in your blog but not in another's. You have one set of rules for those who talk to you here, versus another set for people who talk to you at your blog. You could ease up on the double standards a bit. People can read your blog; the contrast is jarring

Mostly though. this is not about you or your blog. The focus is on the larger picture of which you're becoming a part of. The particular pattern is repeated across several blogs in the climate field.

Think about it - it wouldn't have taken too much to drive you out of this thread. People can 'stick it' to each other easily. You don't imagine only yourself to be capable of writing the kind of responses you wrote do you?

I don't try to be detached from my actions even as I invest significant time.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:16 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shub,
I have a suspicion, although I might be wrong, that calling someone a sociopath flouts the rules of social interaction. Also, I think you misunderstand the term "sociopath". I don't think it implies someone flouts the rules of social interaction. I believe sociopath is someone with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. I would argue that anyone who objected to the publication of Recursive Fury who then attempts to psychoanalyse someone else on a blog is a massive hypocrite.


You have one set of rules for those who talk to you here, versus another set for people who talk to you at your blog.

No, I don't think I do. I try to say exactly what I actually think. Just because you don't like what I say doesn't mean I'm not being honest.


Think about it - it wouldn't have taken too much to drive you out of this thread.

I agree. In fact, this thread has been more interesting and better than I was expecting. If we could do more of this, it might be a step in the right direction. I would argue, though, that if you don't like the impression I have of the blog or the typical comments (note, I did not mention individuals or people at all) try to convince me that my impression is wrong, rather than trying to convince me that I'm wrong to hold it.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

"I agree. In fact, this thread has been more interesting and better than I was expecting."

Why?

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned,


Why?

Because, in my opinion, it has. Some of the discussion have been interesting, pleasant, and I've learned some things. It was intended as a compliment, not some kind of under-handed insult.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

@ATTP: You really should have stopped digging about 90 minutes ago, you're just starting to look rather foolish now.

Dec 6, 2014 at 9:57 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Salopian,


You really should have stopped digging about 90 minutes ago, you're just starting to look rather foolish now.

I tend to agree. Responding to accusations of being a sociopath is, almost certainly, foolish.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

"Because, in my opinion, it has. Some of the discussion have been interesting, pleasant, and I've learned some things. It was intended as a compliment, not some kind of under-handed insult."

My question is because I'm interested in the specifics. What did you expect? What has been interesting? What have you learned? Your interpretations about your intended compliments vs underhand insults never crossed my mind and are you own affair.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:08 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned,


My question is because I'm interested in the specifics. What did you expect? What has been interesting? What have you learned? Your interpretations about your intended compliments vs underhand insults never crossed my mind and are you own affair.

I don't really have the energy for specifics. I expected more vitriol and insults (well, I've somewhat re-calibrated my expectations in that regard) and I expected people to disagree with everything I said, not almost everything. I'm not really sure what you're expecting from me. I expected it to have all gone completely wrong well before now and it hasn't. I don't really know what I learned. Maybe that my view that actual discussion/dialogue is impossible may not be quite right. I fully expect someone to prove me right anytime now, though :-)

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:12 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

True dialogue is only possible if you answer questions without ducking them. To categorise the questions which you wish to duck as "moronic" is insulting. Both of these actions on your part lead me to conclude that, despite your claims, you are not really interested in civil and true dialogue, rather than participation in a continual back and forth where you do not have to either expose or develop your position. This is reinforced by the fact that, on questioning, you now are unable to say what you learned despite having said just two comments previously that you had learned some things and that this was one of the reasons the thread exceeded your expectations.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:30 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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