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Discussion > Andrew Montford and freedom of speech

Today, some silliness, for which I was partly responsible, resulted in comments being deleted.

Everybody knows that comment is not free. Dissent, in particular, is not generally tolerated. Moderation is always poised to strike.

But unless a very fairly drawn line is crossed, not here. That counts for something. That makes a difference.

Credit is due.

Oct 11, 2011 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Then perhaps you should temper your admitted "silliness". As a long time daily reader I have noticed a sharp deterioration in the tone of many of the exchanges to the general detriment of the site. If his grace decides to deal with this by deletion of comments then I, for one, applaud him for exerting a little discipline.

Oct 11, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Arthur Dent

Then perhaps you should temper your admitted "silliness".

I shall try. All that I ask is that this is not a solo effort.

Oct 11, 2011 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD
As I remarked a little while ago, your conversion to what I called 'The Dark Side' (which you kindly acknowledged with a smiley if I recall) has resulted in a shift in your attitude to the rest of us.
By coincidence, I was mulling over just this matter during a sleepless period last night (for which I hasten to say you were not to blame!) and concluding that there perhaps is some sort of KoolAid which you are obliged to drink when you become a full-blooded warmist (or which the drinking of makes you become ...)
You and I are in full agreement on the question of energy supplies and the idiocy of concentrating on "renewables" to the exclusion of nuclear but that, I think, is now where we part company. I do not believe that modern global warming is as dangerous as the activists would like us to think and I am sceptical as to whether a trace gas which accounts for 1/2500 of the earth's atmosphere can be as dangerous as the "mainstream" climate scientists try to make it.
I could go into all the reasons why I think this way, some of them based on research and reason and some on instinct, but that would just take up space. However I will say that the argument that CO2 is the only way they can account for modern global warming is one example, given that there are several competing hypotheses currently in circulation which may, or may not, have relevance but which the Establishment, which now includes your good self, is determined to undermine or ignore.
The point is that if I join a thread and express an opinion (ignorant though it may be) I am happy to have anybody disagree with me; I am not happy to have the Warmist Playbook used against me and be treated as if I were an idiot. I may well be, but even idiots are entitled to a point of view.
The science underpinning global warming (and especially the concept of anthropogenic global warming) is still very much in its infancy and a little less arrogance by those who are making claims for its accuracy based on proxies which may or may not be reliable and the output of models which equally may or may not be adequately programmed would be very welcome.
I don't see dissent as being the problem; it's intolerance that I dislike.
Have a nice day (and I mean that sincerely, folks!)

Oct 12, 2011 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike

I don't see dissent as being the problem; it's intolerance that I dislike.

Agreed. Which is what made me start this thread.

As you know, I try to explain and illustrate by reference whenever possible. I get a lot of push-back in comments here, and sometimes I react badly and am less that perfectly meek.

Do try spending some time, on your own, in a hostile forum. It's not very pleasant, especially if you are there in good faith, trying to argue for what you have come to understand is almost certainly the truth.

What makes 'warmists' react badly to sceptics is the reluctance of many of the latter to delve into the science with an open mind.

For example, you yourself say that you don't see how a trace gas can warm the climate.

You say that there are several 'competing hypotheses' as to the cause of modern warming, but really, there aren't. Only sceptics think this.

You say that the science underpinning global warming is in its infancy, which is not true.

I freely agree that 'warmists' can and often do come across as arrogant. However, so do many sceptics. Especially those who loudly denigrate science about which they are clearly absolutely ignorant. Please believe me when I say that I do not mean you.

What makes this blog so valuable is that it provides a space where competing views can at least get a good look at each other. JC and the Blackboard do to a certain extent, but I don't know anywhere else where the commenting policy is as hands-off as it is at BH.

I think for all the pain this can engender amongst commenters here, this is important and BH deserves credit for it.

Like our host, I place the highest value on freedom of speech. We may not agree on everything that is said, but it appears we both think Voltaire was on to something.

Oct 12, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD
Fair comment.
I'll continue to disagree with you on a couple of points.
I don't think I'm by any means alone in stating that climatology is a young science. There are climatologists who say the same
Neither am I alone in arguing that there are other hypotheses around the place which would serve to minimise the effects of CO2 as the main driver of global warming. I'm not expert enough to dismiss them out of hand as The Team seem intent on doing. Are you? Given the economic burdens that we are being asked to bear to save us from catastrophe I am inclined to keep an open mind when somebody puts forward alternative ideas.
So simply to tell me I am wrong doesn't advance the argument any. In your opinion I am wrong, which is fair enough but of the 70+ bloggers that BH links to I can immediately identify about half who disagree with you (to a greater or less extent). There are a further dozen or so that I know are "pro-AGW" because I have been there. Without exception their whole tone is needlessly offensive to any who dispute ............. and I was struggling here to find a neutral word but I'm afraid I come back to "the gospel according to The Team"
Assertions, a refusal to engage even with those who are simply asking for information, the standard ad homs which have become so tedious they're no longer even worth paying attention to, a blinkered atitude to what is going on around them,as witness Hansen's recent claim that the sceptics are winning the argument because they have better PR or they're better funded (which planet is the man living on, for God's sake?).
And I agree that this blog is valuable because it allows a lot of very expert people (by the sound of them) to express a range of views and some fools like me to learn and occasionally make an idiot of myself by asking questions. There are plenty around on various blogs who give scepticism a bad name and I have commented before about those who hail the "final nail in the coffin" every time there is the slightest hint of a new idea but they do less damage than the warmists who rant and rave at those same hints.
If the science is that solid there should be no need to behave as if your pet theories were under serious threat which is exactly the impression that warmists give almost every time they put pen to paper.
This shouldn't be a question of winning or losing or even right and wrong. It ought to be a search for knowledge and anyone who thinks otherwise is in the wrong business.
In my opinion, you understand!

Oct 12, 2011 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

"What makes 'warmists' react badly to sceptics is the reluctance of many of the latter to delve into the science with an open mind. "

You have to be kidding. You seem to have very scant knowledge of why "the debate" (not just here) is forever, on a turn to the worse.

You read 5/10/15 new papers every week and turn threads into a discussion involving those papers.

You would be greatly benefitted by reading social sciences literature from the Science Wars era, instead of reading Spencer Weart mythologies. All that leftie criticism (which, I completely agree with) has to be applied to climate science.

Oct 12, 2011 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub

Fundamentally, this is about physics. All the social science in the world is mouse-farts compared to RF from CO2. Which I suspect you actually don't believe in (you did not answer my question on the Svensmark thread, but I will be asking you again, soon).

That's why I prefer to stick to the boring sciency stuff that you generally avoid. Despite your wall of qualifications.

You would benefit greatly from reading up on the science. As you know perfectly well, for all the bravura and BS.

Oct 12, 2011 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I know you probably got pissed off because I asked you read something.

But that is not the point. If you are providing "links" - which supposedly prove you knowledgeable - and if those links are to things by Spencer Weart, that says something about what you have come to consider knowledge. That is what the above comment is about.

The social sciences literature is a better place for a historiography of the global warming movement.

You should be reading up papers by:

Sheldon Ungar, Sheila Jasanov, McWright and Dunlap, Stephen Schneider, David Demerritt, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, to name just a few.

There is a paper by Myana Lahssen (sp?) on climate modeling that is a must-read.

Spencer Weart?

Oct 12, 2011 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

You are going to ask me stuff from the Svensmark thread? How about you answer a few questions, which started the discussion rolling in the first place?

How about:

[1] Please tell me why, you are untroubled by the divergence between the satellite data and the models, even when professional scientists are troubled, and write papers to rationalize it?

[2] Please tell me your qualifications, since you successfully evaded answering that question

Having a "wall of qualifications", again, is not the point. Those details were provided to assuage you, firstly, and secondly, to illustrate and draw attention to the fact that scientists and professionals from different disciplines may have entirely different approaches to science problems - and knowing your background could be useful in understanding your approach.

Oct 12, 2011 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

[1] Please tell me why, you are untroubled by the divergence between the satellite data and the models, even when professional scientists are troubled, and write papers to rationalize it?

>>Let's not over-interpret this. The divergence only really exists because of a flat trend in GAT/TLT over the last decade. It could disappear very rapidly if warming resumes as just about everyone bar the sceptics thinks it will. We shall see. Risky to build a case on it though. Trust me on that.

[2] Please tell me your qualifications, since you successfully evaded answering that question

I refuse to answer it because you refuse to accept that claiming credentials from behind a pseudonym is meaningless. You don't sound as though you've had any scientific training (or why would you get into nonsense like this?).

Judge me by what I say, as Richard Betts did. He is a credentialled climate scientist and part of AR5 WG2. What more do you want?

Oh, silly me - you want to delegitimise me. Well it's backfired once yet you are trying again. I'd call that desperate.

Oct 12, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Let's not over-interpret this. The divergence only really exists because of a flat trend in GAT/TLT over the last decade. It could disappear very rapidly if warming resumes as just about everyone bar the sceptics thinks it will. We shall see. Risky to build a case on it though. Trust me on that.

I am talking about this diagram:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/pics/SanterFig6.png

See panel A. Look at the difference in the trend/decade for the differing trend lengths (horrid analysis in the first place)

Oct 12, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub

The climate system is big. OHC is increasing, but reconstructions are, in technical language, a bit crap.

So it's very hard to say whether the MMM is trending high against TLT because:

- it's too high (a view I have held in the past)

- energy is accumulating in the oceans (as predicted) and our measurements are inadequate to quantify this

If you accept the radiative physics, then it looks like the latter. Further inadequate satellite measurements do not show OLR at TOA rising sufficiently to account for the 'missing energy'.

Have you at least considered the possibility that the physics are correct, and the measurements we can make of OHC are worryingly incomplete?

Oct 12, 2011 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD

Don't fetishise "the physics" (and don't go off on a tangent on that)

We (as in you) have encapsulated "the physics" that we already know (and parameterized the unknown, and the too-complex) into models.

Just as you say, the climate system is high-dimensional. Our intuition does not work well in high-dimensions. Which is exactly we employ these models in the first place. ("Accept the radiative physics" - only someone who does not understand this above fact will speak like this)

This model is producing results,

Which are trending higher than observations.

I am not asking you to explain it.

All I am asking is: does that bother you?

It is a simple question. Most of your prolongations are the consequences of you not facing up some simple questions.

Yes, or no. That is all is needed.

Oct 13, 2011 at 1:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

No, because it's a modelled result.

An empirical approach to defining climate sensitivity is provided in Hansen & Sato (2011).

It still comes out at 3C.

I did not go off on a tangent (why do you say these things?). I attempted to explain the most likely reason for a divergence between modelled projections of surface air temperature and observations: more energy is being absorbed by the ocean than expected.


I do not 'fetishise the physics' (why do you say these things?). I simply insist that this starts with the known physical properties of CO2. Your refusal to even let that near you speaks volumes.

Now, you can answer a question, yes, or no:

Does RF from CO2 heat the climate system?


------------------
Hansen & Sato (2011) Paleoclimate implications for Human-Made Climate Change:

http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110118_MilankovicPaper.pdf

Oct 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Let me get this straight:

We have encapsulated "the physics" that we know into models.

But, you are not bothered about the results of these models.

Because...

"...it's a modelled result."

?

Oct 13, 2011 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub

Modelled projections trend higher than observations, but both trend up (1979-present UAH, RSS, common baseline. No link; I know you don't like graphs). But the MMM runs high compared to TLT. So, let's assume that climate sensitivity is closer to 2C than 3C for ~550ppmv CO2.

Will this warming eventually destabilise the WAIS (happening already)? Will CH4 outgassing from NH tundra thaw (ongoing) increase and emerge as another significant RF? As it has done before.

All this is very much in play unless you don't believe in radiative physics.

Does RF from CO2 heat the climate system? (Y/N)

Oct 14, 2011 at 12:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

"believe in radiative physics."

Why don't take that, and start a cult? Like creationism, you could call it: "radiationism".

It is characterized by "belief" in radiative "physics". One of the characteristic things members of this cult do, is, "waiting". As in, waiting for models (which are the representation of "they physics") to match the observations.

The other thing is, of course, "brushing under the carpet". As in, brushing under the carpet all the years the projected trend ran higher than observed temperatures.

Accept the results of the models because they are 'physics-based'. Forget about the defects of the models because they are, after all just models.

Oct 14, 2011 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

"It could disappear very rapidly if warming resumes as just about everyone bar the sceptics thinks it will. We shall see. Risky to build a case on it though. Trust me on that"

Yeah, the acknowledged trend divergence will surely 'disappear' as soon as the temperature rises. As soon as the temperature rises, I completely trust you that it will all be attributed to CO2

Oct 14, 2011 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub

Why don't take that, and start a cult? Like creationism, you could call it: "radiationism".

Or we could call it physics.

Does RF from CO2 heat the climate system? (Y/N)

Oct 14, 2011 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Ok, ... how about we call your cult "simplisticism"?

Here is a link for you:

http://www.real-science.com/american-institute-physics-avoids-discussing-science

What with a link, physics, graphs, has a Hansen paper for reference... pretty much everything.

Scenario C assumes zero CO2 growth after the year 2000. Actual temperatures are running below the zero emissions scenario.

Just like your qualifications don't change anything, my beliefs don't change anything either.

Oct 14, 2011 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Shub

Does RF from CO2 heat the climate system? (Y/N)

Oct 15, 2011 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

You answer my question first.

You've been asking questions when others ask you questions, for a long time now.

Oct 15, 2011 at 2:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I answered the question you posed at Oct 13, 2011 at 1:18 AM immediately.

Your refusal to answer mine is increasingly amusing.

Let's try again:

Does RF from CO2 heat the climate system? (Y/N)

Oct 15, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

BBD,

You do understand that there is a difference between empirical estimates of climate sensitivity and modelled estimates?

Why I asked you: How come you are not bothered about Santer's figure 1 (when you kicked up such a big ruckus about a little bit of divergence in Agee et al), you said "No", because it was "just a model".

Well, that model incorporates 'radiative forcing from CO2 and heats the climate system' right? How come you dismiss so casually out of hand?

Why are you asking me to accept something that is not matching up with observations and, something, that you don't fully accept yourself?

So, yes, your question is a fetishization and a shibboleth. "Does RF from CO2 heat the system" - is a complex question, worded in a few words no doubt, but does it have a straightforward answer? I even doubt that the answer is categorically known. Nor do I believe that this framing is even the right way to think about the issue.

I don't like people playing tricks.

When climatic changes from CO2, albedo, orbital inclination (all in the currency of moment-to-moment W/m2, no doubt) occur over years (sometimes in the multidecadal, most of the times in the multicentennial timescales), we are already, less in the realm of 'physics', and more in the realm of a systems science. 'Physics' alone, is not going to give us the answer.

So, the greenhouse effect takes place, yes. What is that going to do "to the system?" I don't know the answer.

You are in the same position. Model results are not perfect because models are not perfect (and waiting in not the solution). We don't know everything. That is exactly why you are untroubled.

So, the reason for your being untroubled, is the same reason why I can't answer your question.

Oct 15, 2011 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub