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Discussion > Warming not warming

Long comment alert. I hope it is a worthwhile one. I think this Discussion thread has been worthwhile as a means of teasing out and addressing some perspectives that may be quite commonplace on the decent bulk of people convinced that there is a climate crisis due to CO2.

I suspect Missy is like many decent people convinced by default, and depressed somewhat, by all the talk of climate doom. They are, on this half-baked conjecture, pre-disposed to see environmentalists as 'good people' trying to be protective of nature, and struggling against powerful interests intent on despoiling things without a care for the bigger picture. In this view, we 'sceptics' are the witting, or at best unwitting, dupes of these interests. We are not be trusted, but ‘environmentalists’ are.

How she came to this site is not clear. Is she a quick re-incarnation of the rather peculiar ‘Charlie Furniss’ with his or her faux-naif (‘what are epicycles’) questions and comments, beginning with the remarkable act of asking readers to take Nuccitelli seriously? I notice he has not returned since she appeared here. He did not get far if his ambition was to embarrass, so ‘Missy’ might represent a new tactic – that of ‘the genuinely trusting citizen who cannot accept that all these scientists etc pushing climate alarm can be wrong’, and who wants to trust someone or something in order to proceed with something or other, I’m not sure what.

She begins by dismissing that wonderful ideal for a scientific society of Nullius in Verba, willfully, or naively, misinterpreting as meaning you can’t trust anyone. That is not the spirit of it at all. It concerns politics, power, and the big issues of the day. It concerns the imposition of decisions based merely on the wishes of the imposer and not back up by argument or evidence. It elevates the ideal of objective truth. This video has relevant lessons, and is well worth a careful viewing: Lindzen and Emanuel and others at an MIT forum on Climategate in 2009

Rather than paraphrase them, let me quote verbatim two perceptive comments at Climate Audit on this forum which was in response to the first ClimateGate revelations in 2009:

1. ‘Judy Layzer, a professor of political science in the department of environmental policy and one of the panelists, made a very, very good point. She said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that people have an ideal image of politics as a process by which policymakers identify a problem, consider possible solutions, and then choose the one that’s best for society. This of course is not true. In reality, it’s a number of interest groups trying their hardest to [i]define the question so that their answer is the only one that makes sense[/i]. But scientists in particular, whether they admit it or not, tend to carry the idealized version of politics in our heads, and behave accordingly.’

-Geoff Olynyk's comment
2. ‘I thought that Richard Lindzen was, as always, intelligent, knowledgeable, humble and very honest. All that a layman could expect, or hope for, from a scientist. Absolutely spot on was his observation that the “hockey stick” used data manufactured to achieve the predetermined result. Therefore, the last century cannot be described as being outside normal climate variability. Others on the panel were trying to say there were other studies that proved this, whereas to my knowledge about 700 papers have affirmed the existence of the MWP. Major win for Lindzen.
Next point Richard made was the focus on tenths of a degree when the data has an accuracy range of plus or minus 2.5C. Within that range the data can be manipulated (as is currently being done at GISS, NOAA and NCDC – my comment). The way rural stations are being dropped out, the way that early temperatures are being massaged downwards to give the impression of greater warming. Lindzen was the only one to comment on the unreliability of the base data. Second point for Lindzen. I add my comment that global warming is a product at least in part of “temperature adjustements”.
One panelist spent some time on Tobacco and Lindzen asked what that had to do with the debate. Third point for Lindzen – well handled.
Then a question is asked from Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, the questioner seemed to admit there were many untrue parts of this work but proceeded to ask about Exxon spending $12m on climate science. For goodness sake, compare this to the $70 billion spent by governments. Again, I thought Lindzen handled it very well by just saying he knew nothing of this instead of doing what he could have done by losing his cool interpreting it as an accusation. I agree with Hoi Polloi that it looked like this had been stage managed – shame on MIT. And then Emanuel’s condescending attitude to Lindzen that he had not been implicated in the Exxon hacked info. Another point for Lindzen and a further one on keeping his cool at Emanuel’s double standards – hacked info about Exxon proves all Skeptics are funded by big oil, but data from CRU can be ignored.
Emanuel, Prinn and even Layzer didn’t acknowledge anything Lindzen said, in this respect similar to Judith Curry. The problem as they all define it is how to get Skeptics to be believers. Lots of arm waving, overwhelming science etc even when Lindzen says he has not seen a single paper which adequately addresses and proves climate sensitivity. Another point to Lindzen (he gains a point merely because all the others have lost a point each). I am still waiting to be overwhelmed by this hidden science and it never comes.
As for Prinn, going on about the IPCC process when he has a vested interest in it because he was part of it. Steve McIntyre was a reviewer and his requests for underlying data were refused. His comments overruled. He was even threatened by Susan Solomon. If Prinn is ignorant of this, then he should become informed. If he did know this was going on, then he was complicit in the methods used and exposed by the CRU data. Overall, 12 (Lindzen) to perhaps 1 (all the rest). Some credit to Layzer for insight for always failing to define the problem to be considered. I base my rankings on the science I was informed about, not arguments from authority or reputation.’

- Alan Sutherland's comment


I trust Richard Lindzen, for example, on climate matters because I believe he is immersed in deep study of the climate system and values the pursuit of science and the importance of testing conjectures against observations, but I would still expect him to justify key assertions he might make about that system. I would not expect him to demand that I take him at his word. I do not trust Kerry Emmanuel so much, for example, because I believe he is immersed in political scheming and seeks power and adulation more than scientific advancement - note for example his cheap shots re 'the machine' in his presentation, as if playing to a supposed gallery of radical academics or students. He seems mediocre and unappealing whereas Lindzen comes across as distinguished. One worships at the feet of authority, the other challenges it.

We see something of this in the recent House of Lords debate as captured here by Ben Pile:

‘For a chamber that is populated by people who are appointed on the basis of merit, replacing the feudal system, it was a very disappointing experience. It’s not simply that I disagreed with many of the comments; the problem is with their total mediocrity. Nigel Lawson and Matt Ridley made good arguments, but the putative ‘rebuttals’, were all of the kind we’re so used to hearing: the deference to the scientific consensus, and the litany of climate catastrophes that await us. The latter invariably consists of cobbled-together factoids. And the former, as ever, allows someone with very little brain power to marshal ignorance against a better-informed argument.’

Coming back to Missy again, here are some of her words on this thread:

Oh I don't have such strong views really. But I do have some colleagues who argue about these things incessantly and so I have been exposed to the subject somewhat involuntarily. Occasionally I follow some of the crumbs unintentionally left for me, and so I ended up here. But it is true that I am naturally trusting and so tend towards the conventional view. To reject that means to mistrust many people I know and trust - people who I know are neither incompetent nor dishonest.

Big Oil nailed that one here.

I think Furniss and Missy need to go away and spend some time on their own thinking more about what their own views are and what they are based on. They have given us food for thought here, and I hope they have received some in return.

Jun 19, 2013 at 2:48 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Perhaps the difference between what we consider "us" and what we consider "them" is that we have all undergone John Shade's suggested self-examination about what we believe.

At some point or other, most of us have been one of "them" and we became one of "us" because we stopped just going along with the people we trusted and looked for ourselves. To find out you've been betrayed by people you like and trust is not something everyone is psychologically up to. If they are wrong on that then they could be wrong on other things you also believe in and like the idea they share your view. It's a scary world.

"us" on the other hand, have passed through that anger phase onto a hardy self-reliance when it comes to what to believe and not believe. We don't hate the people that still believe, we used to be one.

I just wish they'd stop hating us for a moment. Whast you feat is finding out you've been had. We may be the agents of that, but it's not our fault.

Jun 19, 2013 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I have wondered if we should approach Dara to make a programme called ‘Convincing the Climate Sceptics.’ But you know how much warmists love presenting both sides of the argument because it’s easier to refute straw men. They can’t risk us coming across as reasonable.

Jun 19, 2013 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Thanks for the link, BigYin. I now recall the incident. Don't be too harsh on Dara. This was neither the time nor the place. I don't excuse the audience but I think they probably felt insulted as much as anything. It was definitely not what they had turned up for.

Jun 19, 2013 at 4:36 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I try not to be too hard on Dara, and think "what would I have said if I was him?" - His career could be over if he publicly sided with Johnny. That is the problem in microcosm. If a comedian felt he had to go along with the consensus, and abandon ordinary human decency to stay in a job, then perhaps we can understand why scientists don't speak out.

Johnny Ball was an old man, alone in front of a baying crowd. I would like to think I would have had a berating word for the cowards, rather than going along with them.

Jun 19, 2013 at 4:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Yes, he could certainly have handled it better. But the whole episode demonstrates just what global warming can do to people.

Jun 19, 2013 at 5:54 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

missy: "If you think there really is no strong consensus, why not prove it?"

You clearly don't understand what you're being told. Whether there is a consensus, or not, is irrelevant to a scientific hypothesis. You clearly feel that a lot of scientists saying something is true is a clincher. It isn't. As I explained to you in my, clearly ignored, comment for a hypothesis to be accepted it has to (a) be falsifiable and (b) be able to predict the outcome of the hypothesis in the physical world, in short provide empirical evidence.

Why don't I accept the consensus view, well it isn't science, it's belief without the empirical evidence. So far there is no empirical evidence that CO2 is causing most of the warming. There is no empirical evidence that will be feedbacks of 3C for a doubling of CO2, in fact most of the scientific papers this year have come up with lower figures. Finally there is no way the scientists who are forecasting the future climate can do so, they've said so themselves, because the climate is coupled non-linear chaotic system, and you cannot predict the future states of these systems.

Does the consensus among priests that there is a deity mean there really is a deity?

Jun 19, 2013 at 6:18 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I said earlier:

All I have heard is evasion along the lines of "there is no consensus" or "we are all of the consensus" (...)
Jun 19, 2013 at 12:20 AM Missy

Missy, if that is all you have heard, than you have not been listening.
Jun 19, 2013 at 8:15 AM splitpin

geronimo -save your keystrokes. Missy, even if she glances at your comment, is simply not listening.

Jun 19, 2013 at 6:32 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

"geronimo -save your keystrokes. Missy, even if she glances at your comment, is simply not listening."

Your right of course, we seem to attract two types of "warmist tourists" on this site. Scientists who think they're going to run rings round us because we're a bunch of right-wing thickos, and near greenies who also believe we're a bunch of right-wing thickos and think that, armed with the approval of the consensus, believe they can ask questions we can't answer. Missy asked the questions, was given innumerable answers, and then said the answers were "there is no consensus", which I doubt anyone said. She's (if she is a "she") is clearly out of her depth technically and believes that telling us that most scientists believe something is a clincher. Clearly no historian of science.

Jun 19, 2013 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

The consensus argument works in support of 'the debate is over'. It is intened to suppress opposition at source. We really should not bother with it here any more than we should bother with (either side) inventing fake psychological conditions with which to label the opposition. It simply is not relevant.

Anybody who espouses the consensus should be asked to reveal what the consensus says about those basic questions, back-radiation or TOA, falsifiability, experimental proof in the lab or outside, heat in the oceans, all the things in which the story is not straight. You can't really support a consensus without knowing what it says, can you?

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:07 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

rhoda, on the contrary, the existence of the consensus is so that people don't have to bother looking. If they look, they see how flimsy it is, so it's better that they don't. It's a mental shorthand for "no need to re-do our sums, just go forth and preach"

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Rhoda "You can't really support a consensus without knowing what it says, can you?" You can if you can't be bothered or aren't allowed to do your own thinking. Mankind has never had a better opportunity to examine all aspects of life for themselves. There are very few curtains behind which small men are pretending to be wizrds any more. We should all seize that with both hands.

A popular argument for consensus is the 'if your consultant neurosurgeon told you, you needed a brain operation you wouldn't argue with her/him.' Ignoring that to even get to see a specialist you have to have convinced any number of medical professionals there's something wrong with you. The more proactive the patient the better the outcome. Those who go with the medical consensus that 'there's nothing physically wrong with you, take two paracetamol and consider stress councelling' are more likely to die.

Jun 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

'if your consultant neurosurgeon told you, you needed a brain operation you wouldn't argue with her/him.'
Jun 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM TinyCO2

Yes, that's an argument often put forward by warmists but to me it indicates their lack of understanding of the status of climate science as a discipline.

I'm not sure I'd call it arguing, but I'd certainly be asking an awful lot of questions about techniques, outcomes and alternatives and I'd want to see for myself the scans and biopsy analysis results and I'd be reading up on the disease day and night. In other words, I'd want to be convinced by evidence, as well as the neurosurgeon's opinion.

The thing that climate science lacks, as rhoda has pointed out and which, to me raises the question as to whether it should even be termed "science" is its lack of evidence. Especially, if, like me, you don't count the output of models as evidence.

Jun 20, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

'if your consultant neurosurgeon told you, you needed a brain operation you wouldn't argue with her/him.'
Jun 19, 2013 at 8:46 PM TinyCO2 "

Would you really consult a neurosurgeon whose every prognosis had been proved wrong and whose solution to your problem was that you should have your brain removed?

I don't think so.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

When climate scientists know one-tenth as much about climate and how it works as [neuro-surgeons know about the human brain and how it works - or insert medical specialism of choice here] I might start listening to what they have to say.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

brain surgery;

I'd be even less likely to agree to brain surgery if I had as yet experienced no measurable symptoms and the doctors could not agree amongst themselves what symptoms I would be likely to experience anyway.

Jun 20, 2013 at 12:42 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

matthu

I might also have a few reservations about the surgery if the man with the knife had only previously wielded it with a mouse, using CGI patients!

Jun 20, 2013 at 4:18 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

True story, if I've told it before, sorry. My surgeon, backed by an oncologist, told me I had pancreatic cancer. Terminal, invariably within about 12 months. Go home and book your hospice. I didn't believe them. I asked for more tests and a (very difficult) biopsy. That was in 2007. Unfortunately I've never met a warmist who used the surgeon tactic since.

(I did not have the disease, you will be surprised to learn.)

As a supplement, it occurs to me that there is another parallel, after 2004 when I first had symptoms they tried numerous times to get a biopsy. Every time it came up with nothing, they assumed they had missed and scheduled another test. I suppose it was wisest to look for the worst case, but should they have allowed the possibility of something else going on? Should climate scientists allow the possibility that they might be wrong?

Jun 20, 2013 at 4:34 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Congrats on not having it.

"Should climate scientists allow the possibility that they might be wrong?"

If they do not, they are not scientists.

Jun 20, 2013 at 5:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Glad the docs were wrong Rhoda :-)

I think everyone has tales of how the medical profession hasn't got it right. My story (one of many) was after having blood tests; 2 Ultra sounds; X ray; CT Scan; cystoscopy; much explaining of symtoms and personal probing; and finally after an MRI they operated to discover what I'd got wasn't what they expected. At least I didn't have to pay for it all but I did have my GP question whether I was a hypocondriac in the early stages because my symptoms were complicated

It highlights that even with some of the best observations available to science, nature keeps her secrets to herself. Climate science doesn't even have very good observations.

Jun 20, 2013 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"Glad the docs were wrong Rhoda :-)"

Likewise. I come from a medical family, and even once qualified as a radiographer myself, but was always a bit uneasy with it. The intransigence and conservatism of medicine is nicely encapsulated by the experience of Barry Marshall, the Australian doctor who first identified helicobacter pylori as the casuative agent in stomach ulcers. He even demonstrated it on himself in the early 80's, but he didn't get his Nobel prize until 2005, during which time the traditional (and useless) treatment remained Zantac, for many years the world's most prescribed medicine.

Jun 20, 2013 at 9:51 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"Glad the docs were wrong Rhoda :-)"

Me too.

Jun 21, 2013 at 6:36 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Some of you seem to think that I necessarily accept the truth of any consensus. I don't think this is what I have said. What I meant was that, given a consensus, a layman cannot just discard it. Even if he thinks he has a seemingly good reason to discard it, he risks falling prey to the Dunning–Kruger effect. Of course this requires that there is a consensus. Never mind...

I watched John Shade's video of the MIT debate (well actually I half-watched it while cooking) and fail to see his enthusiasm for such a dull debate. On balance, of the bearded ones, I found Emanuel more convincing than Lindzen. The latter seemed rather gnomic and I had trouble accepting his refusal to address the funding issue. I know from subsequent searching that he has acted on behalf of fossil fuel interests and while I can understand that he wouldn't want his personal finances examined in public, he fails to occupy the moral high ground. He also seems not to be so popular among fellow climate scientists from what I can gather (I read of scientists having tired of refuting him) and seems to have supported the AGW consensus a decade ago (co-authoring an NAS report on the subject). He is of course at will to change his mind, but anyway I wont be joining his fan club.

With respect to countries not reducing their CO2 emissions, Germany has reduced its by 20% from 1990 without so much as a riot, let alone revolution and war. I suppose these warnings of the dire consequences of cutting emissions are part of what people refer to as climate alarmism, although I thought it was usually an accusation aimed at climate scientists.

Jun 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMissy

Missy, would you like to precis what the consensus actually says? As a list of bullet points as briefly as possible?

Jun 23, 2013 at 7:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

"Some of you seem to think that I necessarily accept the truth of any consensus. I don't think this is what I have said."

So it is reasonable to ask what your criteria are for believing or not believing a consensus?

What you've been told, time and time again, is that a consensus can be accepted if there is empirical evidence showing the hypothesis to be true. Empirical evidence means that the scientists make a prediction based on their hypothesis about future physical behaviour, like how the temperature will rise over the next ten years, and wait to see if there forecasts are true. If they are then the hypothesis might be true, if they're not then the hypothesis is wrong. It's that simple.

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2013/06/epic-fail-73-climate-models-vs-observations-for-tropical-tropospheric-temperature/

"With respect to countries not reducing their CO2 emissions, Germany has reduced its by 20% from 1990 without so much as a riot, let alone revolution and war. I suppose these warnings of the dire consequences of cutting emissions are part of what people refer to as climate alarmism..."

Is it a good thing, or a bad thing. that Germany has reduced its CO2 output by 20%?

Nice one, but if you want to tool along to the EU Commission site and look at the price of electricity in Europe since 2005 you'll see it has risen by40%. In the same time period Japan's has risen by 15% and the US' has fallen by 5%. I don't know if you see that as a "dire consequence" but I do, and there will be many in fuel poverty who agree with me, along with those who lose their jobs as companies decamp to areas of the world where they don't have an artificial burden on their costs.

Jun 23, 2013 at 8:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo