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- 12/07/18--21:29: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by JCH
- 12/07/18--21:51: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by Robert I. Ellison
- 12/07/18--23:36: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by JCH
- 12/08/18--00:00: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by Robert I. Ellison
- 12/08/18--01:40: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by Robert I. Ellison
- 12/08/18--02:22: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by JCH
- 12/08/18--03:14: Comment on CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word? by John Ridgway
- 12/08/18--07:10: Comment on CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word? by Mark Silbert
- 12/08/18--07:25: Comment on CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word? by andywest2012
- 12/08/18--08:18: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by jungletrunks
- 12/08/18--08:35: Comment on Week in review – science edition by Ragnaar
- 12/08/18--08:45: Comment on CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word? by andywest2012
- 12/08/18--08:51: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by Robert I. Ellison
- 12/08/18--08:58: Comment on Week in review – science edition by jungletrunks
- 12/08/18--09:21: Comment on Week in review – science edition by Ragnaar
- 12/08/18--09:41: Comment on Week in review – science edition by cerescokid
- 12/08/18--10:22: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by dpy6629
- 12/08/18--10:27: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by tedpress
- 12/08/18--10:27: Comment on Politics of climate expertise by Ragnaar
[…] background, Judith Curry is a world-famous climate scientist. She has just reviewed the latest science on sea-level rises and […]
Next up might be the blue:
Likely not. To understand the multiply coupled Earth system requires tracing the flow of energy through the relevant physical mechanisms. Over decadal to millennial scales much climate variability emerges from polar regions in changing patterns of meridional (north/south) and zonal (east/west) wind fields that are related to polar surface pressure. Process level models suggest that it is the result in part of solar UV/ozone chemistry in the upper atmosphere translating through atmospheric pathways into surface pressure changes at the poles (Ineson et al 2015). Observations suggest that more meridional patterns are associated with low solar activity (Lockwood et al 2010). There is a further more speculative suggestion that the 20 to 30 year periodicity of the Earth system is caused by the ~22 year Hale cycle of solar magnetic reversal. The next climate shift is due in the next decade if it is not happening now. With a dimming sun – it may be to a yet cooler state in both hemispheres.
Figure 1: An index of (a) polar surface pressures in the Atlantic sector – negative is high polar surface pressure relative to sub-polar surface pressure associated with low solar activity and (b) decadal rates of surface warming and cooling – source Oviatt et al 2015
“Decadal changes in the strength of jet stream westerly winds in both hemispheres alter ocean gyre circulations and together with trade winds, the upwelling intensity off continental margins.”
Zonal; meridional; zonal; meridional; zonal; meridional: ___________.
And he is still betting zero...
... damn those e's and a's...
The staircase to 2100, and beyond:
Now I’m feeling some lurv in the room, it might worth having one more go.
There is an important distinction to be made between certitude and neglect of probability, as they reflect different mental states. However, they are equivalent in the respect that they can both lead to preoccupation with high impact possibilities. The former (certitude) leads to such preoccupation because the high impact possibilities are professed to be too likely for the risk to be tolerable. In fact, in its most extreme form, the outcome is deemed to be pre-ordained. The latter (probability neglect) leads to such preoccupation because there is no knowledge of, or interest in, the probabilities whereby one can form a basis for accepting or dismissing the high impact possibilities. As far as I am concerned these are distinct categories of catastrophe ideation even though the resulting rhetoric can sometimes be difficult to differentiate (I sometimes wonder if the catastrophists even have the self-awareness to know which of the two mental states they possess).
However, (and this is a crucial point) whereas those who claim certitude are often being disingenuous regarding the mainstream climate science (or perhaps just being ignorant of it), those who neglect probability can still point to the mainstream science to justify their attitude. This is because the uncertainties in the mainstream science are actually their pretext to ignore the probabilities and focus entirely on the high impact possibilities. As expressed in the Rio Declaration (United Nations, 1992):
“Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”
Another way of appreciating the distinction is to note that there are those who focus upon high impacts because they are risk averse, and there are those who focus upon them because they are uncertainty averse, but there are too many who claim to be risk averse when they are, in fact, uncertainty averse.
With all due respect, I don’t think your dissertation makes enough of the distinction between the two patterns of catastrophe ideation. By lumping them together, one overlooks the opportunity to rightfully apply the CAGW acronym to those who do not profess certitude but, nevertheless, are guilty of the retreat from reason that probability neglect entails. And I think that probability neglect is more prevalent within the climate change rhetoric than you appear to be conceding. To be clear: the individual who neglects probability is not saying that they are certain something will happen; they are simply forming a view based entirely upon the nature of the impact and the fact that it cannot be ruled out.
Changing the subject now: To re-iterate, I did not accuse you of rudeness or rancour, but I did say that the tone of one of your paragraphs was arrogantly dismissive. This, and my follow-up observation, regarding the similarity of your debating style to that of many CAGW advocates I have encountered, may have come across as an emotional outburst but I assure that, from my perspective, it felt as though I had been exercising the patience of a saint. If I had wanted to accuse you of rudeness, I think my opportunity had been at the outset when your opening gambit in the debate was to suggest that I had so completely missed the point of your thesis that it was reasonable to assume that I hadn’t even fully read it! No matter how sincerely you may have believed this, it was far from being a diplomatic opening. From that point onwards, most of your effort seemed to be aimed at vindicating your initial position and expressing growing frustration with my presupposed lack of understanding. As a result, continuing the debate became an increasingly unpleasant experience for me. If I, in any way, came across as belligerent in response, I now apologise.
Be that as it may, I’m quite sure that my latest attempt to elucidate, regarding the use of the CAGW acronym, is the best I can manage. So if it still fails to move you from your current position, and you still think I am totally missing the point, the debate really will have to end here.
I really like Jonah Goldberg's take on climate change and hoaxism.
"My own view of the climate change issue is that it is real. I do not think it is a hoax, though I do think there are plenty of people, institutions, and interests that use the tactics of hoaxers to hype the problem. I assume that the vast majority of them are what you might call “hoaxers in good faith”: They think the problem is grave enough that it is worth exaggerating the claims, hyping the threat, and hiding contrary evidence in an effort to rally public opinion. Others suffer from confirmation bias, immediately believing the worst-case scenarios from wildly complex — and historically unreliable — computer models without checking the math."
The entire column is worth a read:
Your latest says to me that indeed we must be talking past each other. And far from your perception that I’m defending something to the hilt that you believe needs to be challenged, from my position (albeit maybe still not yours) you are not challenging anything that this post either requires or rests upon or addresses. So your view of apparent immovability regarding something that you’re trying to persuade me about, which after all in various ways you have said is central or important to this post, is in fact something that I’m completely open on (albeit there are other factors to those you mention too, so we’d need a very good audit trail for relative weights of each, see below), and at any rate something I’m not defending against at all. Hence I’ve been completely flummoxed by your repeated claims of intransigence in various ways. Cued by your tag of importance, what I’ve been trying to establish is not your specific view as reiterated immediately above (which via your precautionary principle angle I’ve pretty much already got, albeit iteratively and albeit I didn’t think this was the only thing, though indeed the above summary is useful), BUT… why you think this aspect / issue is key to what the post *is* intended to communicate.
Possibly you are making some assumptions about what the post is saying and why, which your points would then address, when these are not in fact my assumptions, and indeed this would be understandable as the lack of position on same is not made explicit in any way. I think these assumptions would fall roughly into the categories of ‘sub-populations’, and ‘genesis’.
Your certitude and neglect of probability groupings essentially represent two sub-populations within the whole culture, of which there are very likely quite a few more (depending on how we bound them). But I make no assumptions about the various sub-populations of adherents to the catastrophe narrative, who cumulatively form the social entity, the memeplex, for which the linking social consensus is this narrative. Just like the many sub-populations within a species, or closer to our case the many sub-divisions of a major religion, their (genetic or memetic) formulas are variations, sometimes subtle and sometimes quite wide, on a main theme that we understand as a kind of average. Within biology, evolution deliberately maintains different sub-populations (balanced polymorphism) because this lends certain advantages, not least an ability to pivot the species more easily to new pressures. But also more operational advantages (the famous one is maintaining a significant presence of normally deleterious sickle cell anaemia genes to protect against malaria). There’s no reason to think this is different for cultures, and indeed we can observe sub-populations (and sub-sub-populations), who to differing degrees and via differing ratios of emotive cocktails (with different distancings from reality), hence indeed different mental states as you note, will nevertheless be signed on to the main / umbrella narrative (yet thus in a range from passively to very actively).
There all sorts of boundary buffers and entanglements both between sub-populations, and between all sub-populations and reality (in whatever form, including science, from which in the end false memes must be distanced, typically via layers, in order to survive and prosper), and some of these are more obvious than others. For instance see footnote 13 on Rossiter’s very basic model of this for the IPCC (but bear in mind that layers exist not just within the IPCC, and the centre of gravity of the catastrophe narrative, so to speak, is outside not inside this org). To some extent the two particular sub-populations you identify are aligned with such layers, because those layers nearer to reality cannot be credible (i.e. still survive) by following essentially your ‘pre-ordained’ path; being further under the banner of science they have to acknowledge its principles. Yet as you note they can then still hide behind high impact possibilities, which nevertheless outer layers can and typically do translate as support of not just ‘cost-effective’ measures, but ‘full-on measures immediately’ or we’re doomed. It is the existence of structure within memeplexes / cultural entities, inclusive of such layers, that allows such things to happen, and indeed there can be complete contradiction between the positions of different elements within this structure (in the end, to avoid reality some contradictions are generally necessary). Such structure is an artefact of our long gene / culture co-evolutionary path; cultures are much more than the individual beliefs within them, in the same manner that a species is much more than its individuals (so including balanced polymorphism and other group level features). So an interesting thing to note is that wide variants or indeed contradictory sub-narratives cannot exist (at least in the same forms / relationships) without the main umbrella narrative; without the latter the structure collapses, as would therefore all that it is enabling.
So I’m not conceding or unconceding anything regarding the precise distribution of the various subpopulations (which typically with adherents in thousands never mind many millions are very messy and overlapping and extremely difficult to disentangle anyhow), these particular two or others. No memetic analysis of same has been undertaken, it would be a vast task and far beyond me to do this, not only requiring unprecedented access to all domain exchanges, but enormous narrative analysis via tools in their infancy and almost certainly not up to the job. While in theory the same methods of frequency analysis of gene variants within biological populations apply to memes in cultural sub-populations, just from a practical point of view we have far less grip on this. And you have to get part way down the analysis to see the rough frequency spikes, to be able to make a better judgement of the sensible bounds for sub-populations anyhow. Hence while your thoughts regarding these two sub-populations are eminently plausible, it’s not possible to be definitive about same or where these sit within what is a more complex total picture. In a (very!) primitive way, a scanning of the many variants of the catastrophe narrative gives some clue about populational distributions (I think you may have mentioned something along those lines above), because while they all conform in principle to the chief / umbrella narrative, they nevertheless reveal all sorts of different ways of doing so, which in turn speaks somewhat (albeit with creative interpretation) to the associated mental states (the context notes help a little), and also which per my above regarding morphed conditionals and emotively overwhelmed conditionals speaks to the caveats / risk aspect you mentioned somewhere above.
I also include the ‘genesis’ aspect because you mentioned how things started out, specifically with reference to the precautionary principle. This is another very interesting area, yet is more difficult to analyse still, because as well as all the above which still applies, during genesis there is not a large audit trail, there is far more evolutionary flexibility / change, the engagement of social structures (and therefore a more mature / constrained, indeed fully policed, phase is not yet under way, although nascent policing via group-think will be arising), there are competitive threads that may not be equally visible, etc etc. And this all occurred before the internet got under full steam, unfortunately, limiting our visibility still further. There are lots of threads to get a partial view however, descriptions from the inside of early climate confs and such, some knowledge of base memes, such scientific exchanges as are still visible, but aside from leader biographies or such very little on the crucial authorities side and key relationships / contributions by NGOs (despite Patrick Moore’s view is helpful). No matter what culture is sparked from elite functions some grass roots support is needed for survival. I’ve probably missed much else. It seems perfectly plausible that the precautionary principle played a significant role in genesis, in fact I’d be willing to say that it’s likely a dead cert. But much else is involved too. I mention base memes because there is always a bunch of these circulating in the population at a low level, waiting for their opportunity so to speak, on climate catastrophe as well as much else. Whole societies have incorporated same as mainstays in the past. A general assumption is that they can seed newer shinier versions that are updated to contemporary issues / appetites, but this is often hard to prove. However, in the climate case we actually have some of the very same people moving smoothly from the scary cooling to scary warming narratives, making it easier to be firm about *some* contribution of base memes. Yet in truth we will likely never know the pattern of which memes had sex with which other memes and how each of these products or intermediate products interacted with aspects of real science or sciencyness, and inclusive of the precautionary principle role, to arrive at a more stable and spreading catastrophe narrative that all the authority sources listed have propagated, and an associated cultural following. And while this is all highly interesting, once the mature phase is reached, it makes no difference to the characteristics going forward precisely how the genesis occurred.
So apart from categorizing the basic range of variants in the catastrophe narrative, this post is not a deep essay on narrative analysis or memetics and is communicating much more basic points. It makes no statements on population distributions within the cultural umbrella, the range of associated mental states, or indeed about hosts of other narratives that may straddle the boundaries of the culture (so bias but not full belief), etc. It demonstrates the main / umbrella narrative via copious examples, and from a range of authority sources whose cumulative influence has to be huge; it points out that the claim within this narrative that a high certainty of imminent global catastrophe is the judgement of mainstream science, is false, and it goes on to evaluate the issues of such regarding the appropriate and inappropriate usage of ‘CAGW’ (yes, in the sense that both sides use this with built-in certainty however illogical this may be, lack of logic also abounds in cultural conflicts).
A made point that these straightforward messages don’t explore all sorts of interesting depth and complexity beneath, is absolutely fine. In 4000 words I’m not going there, and indeed the details of genesis and sub-population distribution are not needful to many other valid aspects of climate catastrophe culture as well as to this particular post. But a point that the existence of such complexity, or at least particular aspects of it, seriously impacts the points which are made, is what I’m struggling with. I’m not rejecting your freshly restated points, far from it. But I don’t see how they impact the points of the post per the summary a few lines above, i.e. makes these 'wrong'. I have made no assumptions here regarding either genesis or sub-populations; but this isn’t explicitly stated anywhere so maybe this is what you’ve assumed?
"EU/ UN/ government from afar, on high, politicized science, where’s the feedback?"
From his afar ideology, I imagine Emmanuel Macron now understands the nature of relevant feedback as he views Paris's streets.
Judith's Twitter link in the upper left has an EnergyReporters link about sea level rise. If you don't have a Facebook account, get one. Then you can share such articles with your relatives and if it goes a certain way, argue about climate change over the holidays with them and watch a lot of cat videos to boot. Stop sitting on your hands and help out. I think moderate articles like this EnergyReporters one strikes a good practical balance and help counters some of the headlines. I am saying you can do something about the headlines that may bother you if they seem to exaggerate things. And it will matter. Bottom up. Not top down. You and your relatives on Facebook.
Thanks, Mark. Interesting article. From a US conservative source it's not exceptional to have a more sympathetic slant to skepticism. But I've never heard the phrase 'hoaxers in good faith' before, and I think that's a very interesting phrase which is a good step away from just 'hoax' and towards the fact that emergent / sub-conscious factors are main drivers, plus what may be more consciously done in service to noble cause. I also thought his 'second skepticism' was a good observation, i.e. the public feeling that so much is being insisted upon in the name of the climate science, which insistence doesn't actually merit the support anyhow. This chimes with my 'innate skepticism' post from about 18 months back here. But I'm never keen, albeit instinctively rather than following up with some detailed investigation / knowledge, on geo-engineering recommendations; whatever the state of the issue, these always seem to shout 'unintended consequences' at me.
So faith based ultra short term surface temperature linear trendology?
In an ocean of uncertainty?
"One could even argue our perceptions of the world are a type of model."
Nice; pretty much everything is based on a model, including the ways we humans should live. Why shouldn't we follow the advice of the models when certain of our political models is, of course, advising us to do so.
The map is not the territory. The cones and rods on my retinas help process light and gives me a model of what's in front of me. An average temperature is not the temperatures of a time frame. It's a model of that. A number that is your net worth is not your net worth.
This is just the start of the elites getting slapped around. The little people are catching on that the elites are finally out of their depth and don’t have acceptable answers. Economics are ultimately going to be the elites total fall from grace. For this generation, it’s multi-culturalism. The next generation will have to answer for declining standards of living.
From 1945 to 2000, Real Growth in Adjusted Gross Income in US was 3.3% per annum. Since 2000 <1%. And we are doing better than Europe.
Brad, I'm not sure climate science's problems are that unique. There is generally a replication crisis in science caused by the usual faults of human character and encouraged by a dysfunctional scientific culture. Where climate science is unique I think is in the self-selection for a particular ideological bias that then motivates the usual errors of selection and positive results bias.
JimD, I don't think many people think (or should think) about an optimum level of CO2. I honestly believe they don't care. You can interest them in temperature. You can interest them in sea level rise. You can (maybe) interest them in storm surge. But CO2? Nope.
Hence the herculean efforts to tie CO2 directly to other things. And the equally herculean efforts to ignore that things happened in the past without CO2 increases.
It's nice to see that Willard is back. I look forward to some disagreement.