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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)


To categorise the questions which you wish to duck as "moronic" is insulting.

The only two things I categorised as moronic were a question asking why, if I cared for the poor, didn't I gave them ALL my money and a question that appeared to suggest that climate modelling was akin to astrology. I did ask someone to clarify why the latter question was worth answering and noone could be bothered. I stand by my "moronic".


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.

I see, so even being complimentary isn't good enough. Although, unless I'm mistaken, I did give you an example of something I had learned. I am somewhat confused, though, as to why you think I should dance to your tune. I am interested in dialogue, but am not interested in satisfying your conditions prior to engaging in it. You shouldn't confuse "interested in" with "would like to engage in". Although I might benefit somewhat from dialogue, having to deal with accusations of being a LYING ASSHOLE and a sociopath - amongst other charming accusations - are not something I particularly enjoy.

Dec 6, 2014 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

You said:

"and I've learned some things"

When asked, you then said:

"I don't really know what I learned. Maybe that my view that actual discussion/dialogue is impossible may not be quite right."

The first is a certainty of several things, the second is a doubt of anything.

As far as standing by your classification of "moronic" goes for a question exploring your position on astrology as a source of "more information", are you able to offer anything a bit more consistent and intelligible?

Dec 6, 2014 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Capell

Excellent. You have experience of physics and a good encounter with dendrochronology.

You'll appreciate the problem with using tree ring and other proxies is not in the quality of the scientist, but the limitations of the technique.

Under laboratory conditions a physicist can produce data with very narrow confidence limits and very large sample sizes. It is possible to use standards like the five-sigma requirement for demonstrating the existence of the Higgs boson.

This is an unattainable standard for biology. A careful and rigorous scientist studying greeting data can measure ring widths the the limits of his equipment, but has to consider a number of complicating factors when inducing temperature data. This leads to a 2-sigma standard of confidence, which can sometimes a large fraction of the change being observed.

This applies to many paleotemperature techniques. The beat way around the limitations of individual studies is to combine as many as possible. For tree rings, take samples from as many locations and as many trees as possible at each location. A sediment foram study is also localised, so try and do the same

Oxygen isotope studies in ice cores are much less localised. The water in a Greenland ice core may have evaporated first over a large area of the Pacific Ocean.

This is why I give much more credence to a large ensemble study such as Marcott et all than an individual tree ring or ice core study.

Records from the period can be helpful or unhelpful. Dates of harvests or thawing of fishponds can give weather and some climate information ,but only locally. It is unwise to read too much into them.

Consider as an example the Vikings in Greenland. It is tempting to oversimplify and say that they colonised during a MWP and died out when it cooled. This ignores the full complexity. They wasted considerable resources on walrus hunts instead of raising food. Their farming practices triggered soil erosion.They spent their trade capital on church ornaments and vestments. Their host country stopped sending them metal and virtually abandoned them long before the cold killed them. They even fought an ongoing war with the Inuit, who adapted much better to the local conditions.

There is a good case study in Jared Diamond's book" Collapse".

Dec 6, 2014 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

But ATTP the quote you highlight just says that science currently knows little or has insufficient grounds to lean one way or the other. You automaticallyseem to assume that the impact will be worse. I remain agnostic. I will wait for the scientists to tell me. You want to take action now. These are incompatible approaches. The IPCC just tells us that science has little to add to the policy debate. It tells us nothing to any degree of certainty about the way we really ought to act if the future of civilsation is in doubt. Therefore your policy stance is not scientific. It is based on some personal dogma which is very different from mine.

I get the same feeling when I consult Neven's ice blog. He seems to want to punish Western civilisation for something. He never says why.

At least Aubrey Meyer had a clear-cut set of stated beliefs when he got involved in climate discussions.

Dec 7, 2014 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

The Higgs boson: Remarkably, only the people who were promised a promotion for finding a Higgs Boson deeply
believe in a found Higgs Boson. The rest is of course more skeptical.It is all rubbish and paperwork isn't it. It does not
put meat on the table (Or quineoa on the salad, if you prefer)

It isn't unlike the windmill shills who are utterly convinced that their costly artefacts will fix Gaiia.

Dec 7, 2014 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterptw

Ibrahim's list is very Sherlokian, you know, after listing all the things about which there are uncertainties and if possible should be improved, the IPCC WGI concluded that

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed
changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have
warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the
concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting
for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence).
It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010 (see Figure
SPM.3), and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.

Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass,
glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern
Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence)

The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have
increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Carbon dioxide
concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel
emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed
about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification

Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes
in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and
in changes in some climate extremes (see Figure SPM.6 and Table SPM.1). This evidence for
human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been
the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century

Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all
components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and
sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Dec 7, 2014 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Josh,

the point is that one could get sceptical about the IPCC's conclusions

Dec 7, 2014 at 3:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterIbrahim

Eli,

That's an interesting statement to table in isolation. In several instances it manages to instil alarm while at the same time saying nothing but the bleeding obvious. Take the second paragraph:

"Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence).
It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010 (see Figure SPM.3), and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971."

Where else would we expect the energy to be stored but in the oceans. And if there has been warming, then it's certain that the energy storage in the upper ocean will have increaseed.

At others, it becomes somewhat contentious:
"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased"

Unprecedented temperature changes - really? Snow and ice diminished - really?

It's all a bit thin isn't it? Yes, one might just get sceptical about the IPCC's conclusions!!

Dec 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

"Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes
in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and
in changes in some climate extremes (see Figure SPM.6 and Table SPM.1). This evidence for
human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been
the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century"
Dec 7, 2014 at 1:11 AM Eli Rabett


Confidence now up to 95%, if I remember.

Dec 7, 2014 at 9:25 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Capell
Catching up with the overnights, I was about to comment on Eli when I saw your response.
I'll back you up but somehat more succinctly.
The IPCC (which, we must remember, is a political rather than a scientific body) is very good at throwing around phrases like "high confidence" or "very likely" or "virtually certain" as if they actually meant anything. This is not science; it's advocacy and pretty bad advocacy at that. It states, as you say, "the bleeding obvious" while being very careful to play up any dangers that could result and play down the benefits.
It's meaningless flannel.

Dec 7, 2014 at 9:31 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson - It's worse, because the IPCC disguises statements which really mean "we've convinced ourselves" by stating "95% confidence" as if that came out of some sort of rigorous statistical analysis based on probability distributions and confidence limits whereas in reality, as you so politely put it, it's meaningless waffle.

Dec 7, 2014 at 11:10 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Human influence has been detected in all output of the IPCC especially the SPM

Dec 7, 2014 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

The IPCC is convincing themselves as much as convincing climate-naive lay people.

Dec 7, 2014 at 12:41 PM | Registered Commentershub

Human influence has been detected in all output of the IPCC especially the SPM
You have some evidence for that, H2O? I thought it was mostly compiled by robots programmed to take the scare stories from the last SPM and ramp them up another 15%.

Martin A
About the only thing I've seen from the IPCC that comes anywhere close to a bald, undiluted truth was the statement in its original report which admitted that modelling a chaotic system like climate was not possible.
I wasn't aware that "climate change" meant the climate had got less chaotic and therefore possible to model.

Dec 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.
So, temperatures going down a bit, then going up a little more, then being steady for a while are unprecedented? It has to make you wonder just what planet these folk of studying. Certainly, the temperature rise immediately after the last ice age was at a greater rate than the less than 1°C per century that we are witnessing, as was the fall into the Little Ice Age (a repeat of which I do fear). But, hey, why should we let reality interfere with what the models tell us – I mean, when has reality ever been correct?

Dec 7, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mike Jackson

You have some evidence for that, H2O?

Yes, it was the central output of 65 computer models compiled by the GIGO Corporation of Incompetence Arizonia in a study underwritten by the World Wide Boy Fund for Furry Animals, People Who Love the Environment (Honest), Green for the Colourblind, Save the Wales (sic), the Brotherhood against Anything Slightly Offensive, the LGBT Heterosexual Association of the Congenitally Confused and Edna Scridge (of Brighton)

Dec 7, 2014 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterH2O: the miracle molecule

RR
It suddenly occurs to me that I don't really have a clue what "over decades to millennia" means. Do you?

H20
As I thought.The only human input is from Edna Scridge and we all know what she's like, don't we?

Dec 7, 2014 at 4:08 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

MJ: not really; “over the head, to a milliner” is more my style. More importantly – Edna Scridge?! Who be she be? Competition? Handbags at dawn!

What many of the believers cannot see is that – well, speaking for myself, anyway – many of us actually want the warming to continue, because if it doesn’t then it will either stay at the present not-quite-warm-enough level, or fall. As climates are wont to change, then the first option is unlikely, so the second is more probable; hence, roll on more warming! But, it is no reason to get into a panic about, and certainly not a reason to spend vast amounts of tax-payers’ money.

Now, if you read Capell (Dec 6, 2014 at 6:25 PM) in conjunction with TheBigYinJames in my discussion “Understanding the role of CO2”, it helps the resolve a lot of the confusion about this “evil” gas. (Though I have just found that Geospeculator has thrown another spanner in the works, there. What fun!)

Dec 8, 2014 at 12:17 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

what "over decades to millennia" means

MJ - I assume it means "over timescales ranging from tens of years to thousands of years".

Dec 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A
You're probably right but even that is something I have difficulty getting my head round.
If they mean it's never happened before in the history of the earth then why not say so? Or is that too much like saying something unequivocal that they could actually be challenged on?

Dec 8, 2014 at 11:16 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Rational debate would be wonderful. Unfortunately, you can't debate eco-religionists. They just tune out whatever they don't want to hear.

Mar 26, 2015 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterSmokey

Goody, Eli hopes you will let him thru the pearly gates at Tony's place next time.

Mar 27, 2015 at 1:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

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