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Discussion > Lukewarming

I think the anti-lukes are mischaracterising the discussion. My own view is nothing much is happening, we don't know how it works, let's find out. A lukewarmer might think CO2 has some effect, we don't know how much compared with other things but the temps are going up, let's fiind out. A warmist says he knows how much temps are going up due to CO2. He might have a low CS, he might have a high one, but what distinguishes him is that he knows. He doesn't need to find out any more. That is the distinction. There should be no idea that either of the first two categories needs to argue with the other or that either can betray some imagined cause. There IS NO sceptic cause except 'let's find out'.

Feb 9, 2013 at 9:14 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

with you on this Rhoda

Feb 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

An interesting question to ask yourself is "what would I believe if there was no temperature data?". Suppose that all the temperature data prior to 2011 dsappeared, so that we still know roughly what the temperature is and how it varies with location and season, but have no idea of any long term trends. (Similarly I am assuming that all the paleo data has gone.) In this situation, what would be your best estimate of the climate sensitivity?

I think I know what Rhoda wold say: no data, no sensitivity. But I would start from a different position: what can we deduce from the Physics we already know? So I would probably plump for the no-feedback sensitivity, that is a little over 1K per doubling.

Feb 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterJonathan Jones

An interesting question. I would give a different answer if I was still allowed access to the planetary data that we have today: a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of CO2 will only increase the mass of the atmosphere by 0.04%, giving a negligable increase in average surface temperatures. This would be because the only evidence that I had led me toward that conclusion.

Feb 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Roger, given that common estimates of sensitivity have a range of more than two orders of magnitude greater than your 0.04, your value sounds like false precision.

Rhoda, I think you mischaracterise the warmists and sceptics. In my experience here, the sceptics are the ones wno know the (their) truth. They have a hundred different reasons for it depending upon the person and the occasion, but they know there is no warming/greenhouse effect/arctic ice-loss/change in climate/etc.

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

No temp data and a theory that temps would rise by 1 degree per doubling? I'd say from today's 390 ppm or so a doubling would take the best part of two hundred years and use all the fossil fuel so even if it was 3 degrees I would not worry about it. I would worry about visible evidence that we have had an ice age and I didn't know whether it would happen again.

The point about the doubling is relevant even given a temp record and all the paleo. I am not worried by even a high side CS (if I believed in CS). Several magic events have to happen to cause any sort of catastrophe. Or even inconvenience. That sort of magic only takes place in GCMs.

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:04 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

rhoda
The position you describe as a lukewarmer position is not theirs at all.

Lukewarmers are like chameleons; this is not to their discredit. It is just a part of their survival skill set. But they are so good at it, that if they merge in a group of climate realists/pragmatists (which is what, I think, you describe), these start to imagine themselves to be lukewarmers.

Relative newcomers to the climate stuff, like we all are, tend to have a sceptical eye, and/or be moderate and have a reasonably rational approach. If one starts describing them as luekwarmers, then a whole slab of individuals have been converted to 'the cause', without their knowing it. Scepticism, in most instances, on the other hand, is a further extension of the default position.

If the lukewarmers today are less convinced by the full alarmist case it is because the sceptical have questioned every aspect of it. Following which, the lukewarmers decide to join the warmie camp nevertheless? Why?

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Registered Commentershub

BB, you misunderstand me. I would be comparing temperatures for Earth, Mars and Venus, corrected for insolation, and with their vastly different atmospheric masses. I would then seek an empirical relationship based upon gravitational fields, atmospheric masses and insolation. If I could find one that apperaed to be consistent with the ideal gas law and Charles' Law (and the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy) I could then minutely add to the mass of the Earth's atmosphere (by doubling the concentration of CO2) and postulate a temperature change.

My point is that in such a relationship, increasing the mass of a planet's atmosphere by only 0.04% would have a vanishingly small effect on average surface temperature.

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

bitbucket
So you agree that those who are going around 'as if they know' are the real problem? Your antipathy toward sceptics may not enable to come to a worldview that allows you to see who're actually doing this. But I'll take what I can get.

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Registered Commentershub

Roger, oops! Misunderstand is being kind! I don't think I really read what you posted!

Shub, the "real problem" is that climate change of more than a few degrees could have serious consequences. We need to know the truth and we need to react in a way that minimises the likely negative effects. Anyone who is more interested in manipulating that basic truth for their own narrow interests is in the way, whichever "side" they are on.

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

BB, you have inverted the position. The science is settled trope diid not come from the sceptic side. Anybody who believes or accepted unquestioningly 'the science is settled' cannot be a sceptic. Do you, BB, so believe? Do you believe we should act in the absence of knowledge, just in case? If you do not believe the science is settled, why do you not take up that assertion with those who assert it, not here, where generally it is the butt of mockery?

Feb 9, 2013 at 3:58 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Rhoda, "Anybody who believes or accepted unquestioningly 'the science is settled' cannot be a sceptic". That is a simplification. There are many areas of science that are essential settled. Many of them are involved in climate science - eg all the radiative stuff. There are other areas that are in doubt - sensitivity for example. I don't think climate scientists confuse the two. But many "sceptics" make a habit of denying areas that everyone else considers settled. Being a scientific sceptic doesn't mean rejecting everything you can't personally prove.

Feb 9, 2013 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Jonathan Jones says:

"But I would start from a different position: what can we deduce from the Physics we already know? So I would probably plump for the no-feedback sensitivity, that is a little over 1K per doubling."

Hi Jonathan - please can you point me to your derivation (or references) that support your "plumping"? Thanks.

Feb 10, 2013 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

BB, unquestioningly is the key word there. There is a tendency to cast things in terms of certainty when they are in fact uncertain. This is not limited to warmists, of course, it may be true of deniers. But sceptics identify uncertainty. If not in the basic radiative physics then in the chain of dodgy logic and poor evidence that lead to high CS (or any CS at all) through to unprecedented weather events to catastrophe all caused solely by anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The warmists need uncertainty. When they cannot defend a position of certainty, they don't adopt uncertainty, they fall back on a new certainty. sometimes diametrically opposite to the old one. They must have certainty to push their policy ideas. Politicians will not bet the farm on maybe.


"Being a scientific sceptic doesn't mean rejecting everything you can't personally prove."

No, it means considering everything in degrees of confidence, including those things you think you can personally prove. Keeping an open mind. As we both know.

Feb 10, 2013 at 10:32 AM | Registered Commenterrhoda

"If the lukewarmers today are less convinced by the full alarmist case it is because the sceptical have questioned every aspect of it."

Shub, I used to think I was a sceptic, but now you appear to be saying I'm a warmist. Let's cut to the chase on this, I believe that CO2 causes some back radiation along with other gases and make the world 33k warmer. I also believe that might not be true.

I believe that increasing CO2 will increase temperatures and that a doubling of CO2 above pre-industrial levels will give in increase in temperature of around 1C. I also believe that might not be true because we have no idea whatsoever of the feedback effects, but I take it on board to move the discussions forware.

I do not believe that human emissions of CO2 were very likely the cause of most of the warming of the 20th century. So you see my null hypothesis is that CO2 didn't cause most of the warming in the 20th century, not that CO2 doesn't cause warming. Hence my simpleton's questions as to whether this has happened before, and what is the mathematically relationship between CO2 and temperature that gave the scientists in the IPCC report the confidence to attribute the rise in temperature as 90-100% probably caused by humans.

I don't believe the scientists have the remotest clue what the climate sensitivity is. It first appeared in the 1979 Charney report, and now 33 years later, and $100bn of research later it's the same as the guess in the Charney report. Something is clearly wrong.

If I'm wrong and there is warming in the pipeline that will be catastrophic, I still don't believe we should take precipitate actions to avoid it, because we can't, it's not practicable, and won't succeed. In any event I don't believe that an organisation that has been set up to prove human induced climate change has the remotest idea what a 4C increase in temperature will bring with it. It could, for all they know, be entirely beneficial. Arrhenius thought it would.

Does that make me a lukewarmer/warmist? Dunno.I certainly don't feel like a warmist.

I have asked Mosher for his definition of a lukewarmer, and I believe Steve McIntyre is one, and by your definition Jonathan Jones, so I'm keeping good company if I am one. Oh and Martin A is one as well, by your definition, and TBYJ, so I'm in a good place.

Feb 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

"I believe that CO2 causes some back radiation along with other gases and make the world 33k warmer".

Geronimo, I think that the 33K figure is now universally accepted as being in error. Whether this invalidates "back radiation" is, of course, another matter....

Feb 10, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Roger please read what I said. I, like many others, take on board the warmist position in areas where we could challenge the science so we can challenge the science where it hurts most. i.e. Where is the evidence for the major cause of warming in the 20th century? Where is the proof of the results of positive feeback causing major climate disruption? I don't know if any of it is true, but would appreciate a citation to anything that challenges the 33K, not because I don't believe it, but simply because I don't know. Thanks, here's what I said.

"...I believe that CO2 causes some back radiation along with other gases and make the world 33k warmer. I also believe that might not be true."

Feb 10, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

geronimo,
I think that sentence of mine was probably not clear. If you think all of those things, you should in no way consider yourself a warmist or a lukewarmer. That was exactly my point to TBY when I asked him how it came about that he's arrogated all these qualities to the lukewarmer camp. When the field was clearer, all these belonged to the sceptics.

The early online sceptics, several of them, carried on under the name of 'lukewarmer', partly to dodge the toxicity of the 'climate sceptic' brand. Several still carry that baggage around.

For me, climate scepticism has two modes. The first is questioning of the IPCC - its 'science', operation, and its reason for existence. The second is questioning the basic elements of climate theory.

While sceptics do perform the latter, they don't necessarily focus on every element of climate science, and not doing so does not make them 'warmists'! However, the GHG-forcing feedback-sensitivity paradigm is tied intimately with the IPCC, and is questioned by sceptics. Asking the question: 'does a thing called 'sensitivity' exist'? - that is scepticism (eg, rhoda in the neighbouring thread). Only sceptics seem to ask such questions. (Scientists are all apparently sold on the concept, I don't know how) Asking: 'is deriving high values for it using models and skewed empirical estimates, as the IPCC did, good science'? - that's scepticism too, but of a different kind.

Because the second question does not doubt the concept of sensitivity, or more importantly, just for the fact that its answer/s show that values for sensitivity are lower than estimated previously, it does not make those who asked it, lukewarmers.

The basic elements of climate science and theory do have an existence outside of what the IPCC is. Why exactly should sceptics question these, apart from natural curiosity and a desire for greater understanding? On the other hand, to relegate the role and meaning of sceptics as if to mean only those who question basic elements alone, is a tactic useful in dismissing all scepticism since these can easily be portrayed as lunatics out to question well-understood physical facts owing to the Dunning-Kruger effect, or political bias, as 'slayers' etc. Scepticism, in reality, includes these (who are a minority) and a vast majority who simply question the chain of reasoning, validity of proof, standard of evidence, or perform mere fact-checking. Indeed, a number of these functions ought to be performed by those who support IPCC consensus science, but since they don't, the market remains wide open.

Turning back to the first - the questioning of the IPCC. If one examines the IPCC reports and the accompanying alarmists' screed, one finds that, successively, they relied on (1) potential runaway greenhouse (2) hockey stick (3) attributional confidence and 'science is settled' in 1990, 2001, and 2007, respectively, to push for action. Sceptics focused their questions on these pillars. The focus of sceptics will naturally be along the line of derivation of certainty in the alarmist case. If you take these three away, what's left is a bunch of climate science, with which no single over-arching story can be made, and with which sceptics would have little reason to squabble apart from what curiosity may motivate individual members. Do they all become 'lukewarmers' then?

N.B: We are cross-posting. I just read your reply to Roger. Totally agreed on your first point.

Feb 10, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Registered Commentershub

Where is the evidence for the major cause of warming in the 20th century?
Feb 10, 2013 at 2:59 PM geronimo

My understanding is that Climate Science (oft quoted 97% concensus) said:

"CO² has also been increasing. We can't think what else could have caused this unprecedented warming. That proves beyond doubt that it's due to CO²." (or words to that effect)

Feb 10, 2013 at 3:54 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"just saying thank you to the people who have helped pull this post through the "RKS v the world" nihilistic stuff. And I would suggest to Shub that sometimes having someone say to an obnoxious warmist, "turn the volume down, please" can work.....

Feb 8, 2013 at 9:51 PM | diogenes"

"RKS v the world"? - rather a flowery turn of prose to describe a petty squabble between two individuals and which I tried on two occasions to bring to a halt. And the odd reference to the "obnoxious warmist" in the same paragraph, I don't think anyone who's read my posts could have described me as a warmist so I assume that must refer to some other person.

Back on topic, I notice we seem to have reached a consensus that the lukewarmer position is that CO2 has a small but non serious effect on global warming.

Feb 10, 2013 at 5:33 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

Sorry Geronimo, what I should have said was "there is no longer a credible argument for the figure of 33K, and that this is universally accepted", which is a much stronger statement than "I also believe that might not be true".

If you look at the thread "the Moon and 255K" you will see references to analytical, numerical and empirical analyses that show that the IPCC figure of 33K is complete nonsense.

Feb 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

"If you look at the thread "the Moon and 255K" you will see references to analytical, numerical and empirical analyses that show that the IPCC figure of 33K is complete nonsense.

Feb 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM | Roger Longstaff"

Had it not been for my heretical insistence that there was more to climate science than CO2 I don't think the thread on Diviner or the Moon and 255K would have been started, as both are offshoots of the N&Z ATE discussion.

Feb 10, 2013 at 6:33 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

..."obnoxious warmist"...

Was puzzled by that one too. I think diogenes meant 'abnoxious sceptic' :) :)

Incidentally, I ran into this passage on Tom Fuller's new blog - called 'The LukeWarmer's Way' (emphasis mine):

They ‘hid the decline’. They insulted our intelligence. They invented Red Buttons to blow up disbelievers. They exaggerated the threats to polar bears, Himalayan glaciers and the Amazon rain forest. They inverted temperature proxies, improperly used treemometers and exaggerated the extent of warming in Antarctica.

But CO2 is still probably one of the primary contributors to rapid and unusual warming since the mid-1950s.

As you can see, this is a different position from TBY, or geronimo, or Jonathan Jones, or Matt Ridley (who I am assuming is sceptical of the IPCC's attribution statement). This, is the lukewarming I am referring to.

Feb 10, 2013 at 7:48 PM | Registered Commentershub

But CO2 is still probably one of the primary contributors to rapid and unusual warming since the mid-1950s.

An Affirmation of Faith, notwithstanding the "probably".

Feb 10, 2013 at 8:18 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Small editorial change and you have a sceptic:

They ‘hid the decline’. They insulted our intelligence. They invented Red Buttons to blow up disbelievers. They exaggerated the threats to polar bears, Himalayan glaciers and the Amazon rain forest. They inverted temperature proxies, improperly used treemometers and exaggerated the extent of warming in Antarctica.

But CO2 is still probably one of the primary contributors to rapid and unusual warming since the mid-1950s?

Feb 11, 2013 at 1:30 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo