Minchin’s junk science

Articles like this give the impression that climate change doubters and believers talk from two legitimate but different scientific frames of reference.

Wrong!

Roy Spencer is one of the main proponents paid as an academic scientist who claims that the human effect on climate is negligible. Barry Bickmore of Brigham Young University critically analyses Spencer’s position. In a 2008 paper:

Spencer was only able to obtain this result by assuming unrealistic values for various model parameters. If realistic values are used, the effect Spencer described is negligible.

Then in later work Spencer “claims to show with his simple climate model that, not only is climate sensitivity low, but most of the global warming in the 20th century can be explained by a natural cycle called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.”

I took apart Spencer’s climate model, programmed it into my computer, and showed that, once again, he was only able to come to his conclusions because he was willing to use absurd values for some of his model parameters. Furthermore, he used a bizarre statistical technique that he apparently just made up, because it was capable of giving him nearly any answer he wanted.

Bickmore has also done a detailed review of Spencer’s latest book, written to bypass the peer review process.

The sequel to Bickmore’s job on Minchin was that Minchin claimed he was not quoting Spencer, he was in fact quoting John R. Christy, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Alabama’s State Climatologist and Director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in his Congressional testimony. Bickmore’s response is that Christy in his testimony was quoting Spencer’s views anyway.

silkworm on another thread, points out that Spencer is a creationist. Apparently he has a belief system that allows him to play with the rules of science in order to get the “right” answer. One can’t imagine him changing his mind in the face of evidence.

So my attitude remains to regard him as an unreliable source and spend my time elsewhere.

In the first link Professor Andy Hoffman talks about a “logic schism” and “framing battles”. But when you get down to it he’s comparing a bunch of editorials written by the pro AGW camp as against letters to the editor from the other mob. And he analysed “qualitative data gathered at the Fourth International Conference on Climate Change in May 2010—the largest annual climate change denier conference in the world.”

I recall having a look at that conference. It seemed to me to contain science, at best, of the quality shown by Spencer.

Hoffman is in fact talking about the public discourse on climate science, rather than climate science.

Recently I drew attention to Dan Kahan’s view that that you can divide the population into hierarchical-individualists or egalitarian-communitarians, at least in the US. Your hierarchical-individualists are likely to be Republican voting climate sceptics or deniers, while the egalitarian-communitarians vote Democrat and accept AGW.

Much as I find this categorisation attractive, experience tells me that it is impossible to predict why people think and believe as they do, and the variety is almost infinite.

But both Hoffman and Kahan share essentially the same view about what it takes to change your mind, namely someone who shares the same values and world view. I think a genuinely traumatic life experience could also do it, which presumably is what is behind flood victims being more likely to accept climate change.

261 thoughts on “Minchin’s junk science”

  1. It seems to be a common feature of right wing ideologues and their camp followers that they claim victimhood. Andrew Bolt’s continually repeated refrain that his views are being suppressed, while enjoying a sinecure in the mainstream media amplified by continual appearances on the ABC, is a case in point. There is a word in the Australian lexicon for such people: whingers. It’s time we all started to call them on it. Roy Spencer and Andrew Bolt (and their many co-religionists) are whingers.

  2. It doesn’t matter silkworm – as long as the anti climate change crew are kept supplied with plausible sounding references for soundbites on radio and TV (mediums that are hard to check facts against when listening to them and with a demographic that now skews towards older/crankier listeners) the “do nothing” crowd win.

    Remember, they knew from the start that stopping action on climate change was as simple as introducing seeds of doubt. They have executed this perfectly, so well that it will probably matter little that the scientists warnings were correct and we’re now headed for an inevitable disaster.

    They won.

  3. They have had plenty of practice.

    The tobacco wars showed them the techniques required to place enough doubts in peoples minds to delay action.

    With the longer timelines of global warming and the complexities involved, it has proven to be fertile ground for them to sow their insidious seeds.

    They won’t have to pay any of the costs of inaction. They are obviously quite content to let their descendants struggle through the changes we will have inflicted upon them.

  4. According to Tim Lambert at Deltoid, Bolt has relied on Christy’s falsified satellite data.

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2011/03/media_watch_on_the_unbalanced.php#more

    Since this data comes from Spencer, who as I have shown is a creationist, and who, as Brian points out, has let his religious beliefs dictate his scientific malpractice, Bolt ultimately relies on the bad science of a creationist. I wonder, then, how Bolt would respond to the charge that he relies on the work of a creationist.

    How ironic that Bolt, who often lambasts climate scientists as followers of a “green religion,” is himself an unknowing follower of a creationist. Or could it be that Bolt knows that Spencer is a creationist and covers up this fact?

  5. silkworm says:
    March 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Does anyone know if Bolt has referenced Spencer for his “science?”

    I haven’t got the exact reference, Silky, but he definitely has, from memory in the last week or so. After Gillard made her speech citing the bulk of scientific research and scientific bodies agreeing with AGW, Bolt published his piece citing a swag of scientific sceptics. Among them were Bob Carter and Roy Spence.

    In typical Bolt bile, he referred to “proven liar Gillard”, which somewhat ignores his own position re his comments on Insiders about the number of people attending the pro-carbon pricing rally in Melbourne.

  6. Bolt couldn’t give a fig for stuff like teh Truth. His readers see themselves as victims of nasty leftist conspiracies and feel aggrieved their natural born rights to look down on others (women, brown skinned people, non-church goers etc) are no longer respected. They lap up his toxic sludge with gusto, and it’s on them that his income depends.

  7. @Hal9000,

    I’m absolutely sure that Bolt doesn’t believe even half of what he writes. But he writes all those “daring” “skeptical” “not giving in to the PC police” columns anyway, just for the money.

  8. silkworm @5: I’m sure that Bolt nows about Spencer’s creationist beliefs; it’s been mentioned many times. As for his response, and that of his followers, mentioning it is an obvious ad hominem attack on Spencer. Therefore he cannot lose.

  9. …regard him as an unreliable source…

    Actually I’d regard Spencer as a fairly reliable source Brian. Just not in his favour.

  10. I don’t believe Bolt is an atheist. He just wants others to think he is an atheist. His position on abortion makes me think he is a crypto-Catholic.

  11. John Christy himself is an evangelical. In 1973 he was a Baptist missionary in Kenya. He has also served for four years as a mission-pastor in South Dakota. Although he is an evangelical, unlike Spencer he does not appear to be a creationist – he is a member of Alabama’s curriculum review board where he advocates the teaching of evolution. Christy’s adherence to the scientific theory of evolution may be half-hearted. As Discover Magazine put it, Christy “puts more faith in evolution as an explanatory theory than in creationism.”

    http://discovermagazine.com/2001/feb/featgospel

    The fact that he gives any credence at all to creationism as an explanatory theory is a worry.

    Why Christy, a Christian advocate of evolution, should associate himself with Spencer, a Christian opponent of evolution, is a bit of a mystery.

    In any case, Christy appears to be motivated by the same religious considerations in opposing the scientific consensus on climate change as Spencer. Christy has stated:

    Our ignorance about the climate system is enormous, and policy makers need to know that. This is an extremely complex system, and thinking we can control it is hubris.

    Although he has not made it explicit, what he means by “man’s hubris” is that only God can control the (weather and) climate.

    Christy uses religious language in describing the threat of climate change which on one occasion he called “the specter of a global-warming apocalypse.” Again, this religious explanation fits in with the belief that man cannot bring on the apocalypse, only God can.

  12. Bolt is quite explicitly a christian, he’s said so many times. no idea what denomination (dont care really).

  13. You know, it IS entirely possible that people might doubt global warming on largely objective terms, not simply because they are creationists or religious or right wing or whatever.

    This thread appears to be entirely composed of imputed intent based upon evaluations of people’s characters.

    Funnily enough there are doubters for whom the evidence as it is simply is not convincing enough. The fact that the science is indisputable is certainly not going to persuade me if it isn’t backed by clear evidence. And to date that isn’t apparent to me.

    I am not religious, a creationist, vehemently right wing and I have no particular desire to suppress gay black women. I will admit a preference to voting Liberal given the poor performance of leftist economic policies, but my family background is one of committed left.

    So, how do you explain my skepticism? Or my deep concern at the way that public debate in Australia, a democratic necessity, is being so effectively stifled when it comes to the matter of AGW?

  14. Graeme M @18

    Sorry, we are unable to debate this issue with you. Public debate on it is so effectively stifled that the thought police will come down on us like a ton of bricks.

  15. There are several reasons for being an AGW denier:

    one might be a creationist;
    one might be a right-wing ideologue;
    one might be a coal or oil industry shill;
    one might be a narcissist or contrarian.

    But one cannot be a denier on scientific grounds – the science of AGW is overwhelming.

    Maybe your problem is the sources you rely on. Perhaps you can tell us what your sources are.

  16. AGW deniers often express opinions that are based on their conservative political bias and a strong desire to not have carbon regulation such as an ETS or a carbon tax introduced. Gross polluters play a diabolical game.

    To justify their political desires, they need contrarian science pretenders to work their scams and tricks with the general public. The elderly are particularly easy prey to the score of shock jocks who are not held to account to the media industry code of practice. Not surprisingly, we suffer saturation media coverage by the science pretenders and next to no coverage of the truth. As for an intelligent public policy debate? It’s pathetic.

    Australia’s media regulators and the commercial media generally are a disgrace. They are regarded by politicians as untouchables, no matter the damage they reek.

  17. The fact that the science is indisputable is certainly not going to persuade me if it isn’t backed by clear evidence…

    Best. Own-goal. Ever.

    …So, how do you explain my skepticism

    Umm…you used to be a boxer?

  18. Very witty Mercurius. You’re a quick one I’ll grant you.

    Before I tackle the question of why I might be so dim as to not get it, I should make the point that I am not necessarily against a carbon tax.

    I am not at all across exactly how it will work – I have my doubts about its likely success as it does seem to ignore human nature, but I’d be happy to be better educated about it.

    My skepticism regarding AGW is more to do with my own logical assessment and is therefore more an intellectual issue.

    Now, I am just an average Joe and of course I could just abdicate any responsibility to myself and simply believe what I hear or read – after all, I am hardly qualified to really evaluate the details of the science. But it’s like many things that we have to make some sort of call on – we can’t always know it all and we have to go with what, on balance, makes sense to us.

    So, I am unconvinced. I’ve read plenty of websites and blogs of all sorts and have a general enough idea of how it works. But I can’t really explain in a few sentences why I have my doubts. Happy to expand on my views if anyone wants to humour me.

    My point though was more why you assume that to be skeptical explicitly shows some other character defects? Are YOU all so certain that you really can’t imagine how any right thinking person might disagree?

  19. Oh and silkworm – I most certainly CAN be skeptical on scientific grounds. There are no shortage of prior examples where the science of the day was later shown to be wrong…

  20. I most certainly CAN be skeptical on scientific grounds. There are no shortage of prior examples where the science of the day was later shown to be wrong…

    That’s not scientific grounds, GraemeM. You’re (mis)applying inferential reasoning. Your argument is of the form “the sun will rise tomorrow, because it rose yesterday”. It may very well be the case that the sun will rise tomorrow, but you can’t logically infer that simply from the fact that it has risen several billion times previously.

    Reading your comments @23 and 24 charitably, it looks to me like your ‘skepticism’ is based on a combination of intuition and common-sense (in the John Ralston Saulian sense of the term) and probabilistic reasoning.

    But your position is not scientific. And it doesn’t even qualify as skeptical. It’s gut-feel.

  21. I support Garnaut’s call for strengthening of regulation governing electricity suppliers. 32% increase in 3 years. What a complete outrage! and another stinging rebuke to the nonsensical idea that privatisation of major public utilities leads to competition or cheaper pricing.

  22. Lefty E,

    Distribution and Transmission remain publicly owned in NSW and Queensland. Since Garnaut is referring to “overinvestment”, I suspect he is referring to those two States, although I have not yet read his report.

    There was never any prospect or suggestion of competition in electricity distribution.

    You need to ensure you have the facts before reaching a knee-jerk conclusion that “privatisation equals bad”.

    Anyway, look on the bright side. The higher electricity prices mean that the percentage increase caused by carbon pricing will be lower than expected. 🙂

  23. Great comments over from Fredn and Darn at Poll bludger, highlighting the useless plague of rent-seeking all this has created.

    The current electricity regulations are a mess. You have:
    Generators
    Distributors
    Retailers
    Meter providers
    Private Inspectors
    and
    HV inspectors.
    And in Victoria
    EnergySafe

    If you don’t think all of that doesn’t cost money I have a loverly bridge to sell you.

    That’s what privatisation seems to do – takes one entity with which we are all familiar and breaks it up into a myriad of parts. And then the various retailers proceed to take turns knocking on your door at meal time trying to convince you that they each can offer you a better deal, which on examination is all smoke and mirrors. The politicians never mentioned any of that when they were trying to sell the concept to us. A pox on them all.

  24. Yes Mercurius, I think that is s fair call. But wouldn’t that be the same for anyone OTHER than a scientist? Perhaps the majority of Australians?

    I have read fairly widely and avidly, but without a science background or education, what can I do other than simply come down on one side or the other?

    And that must be what most of us do. So, how do we do that sensibly? Maybe we can’t… In the end, all we can do is assign a weight to the arguments that must be grounded in our own intuition/world view/personal leaning.

    And why is my view NOT skeptical? I understand generally how CO2 is meant to warm the atmosphere, I understand how water vapour provides a feedback to that forcing, I am aware of the various data describing temperature, CO2, sea level, proxies and so on. I’ve seen all the graphs. I can’t argue it with a scientist, but I can certainly understand it. And I don’t buy it.

    Surely that’s as informed a view as I can muster, and that view is skeptical of the concensus opinion. Why can I not class myself as a skeptic?

  25. Appropriate advice for the Graeme M’s of the world from Bertrand Russell:

    (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) thet when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.

    (via <a href="http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/bertrand-russell-and-expert-opinion/&quot;)Why Evolution Is True

  26. OK, let’s see, in the first 20 comments (I couldn’t stomach reading any more) of this thread those who disagree with the majority LP line on climate change have been characterised as “whingers….creationists …. religious beliefs dictate his scientific malpractice … Bolt bile … couldn’t give a fig for stuff like the Truth …. right-wing ideologue …. coal or oil industry shill … narcissist, contrarian ….look down on others (women, brown skinned people, non-church goers etc)…. toxic sludge”.

    It ever occur to anyone that there could be the slightest bit of irony in couching arguments about the bileful nature of the denialists in this sort of language?

    Whatever, I suggest you just go for it. This sort of stuff – abusive ad homs; absence of any semblance of even an attempt at evidence-based addressing of the many open questions about climate change; assuming malice and stupidity in genuine questioning – is why the public debate is being comprehensively lost by the AGW proponents. People may not all understand the complexities of the science, but they very readily understand when they are being bullshitted and put down by other people who don’t evidence any greater understanding of the science, but do evidence a great deal of ideological fervour.

    Silkworm I left your remark about Christy’s falsification of satellite data out of the list of abuse above because it is in a class of its own, and no doubt you wouldn’t make such an extraordinary claim without being able to provide conclusive evidence to back it. If you can’t – and given your record, I’m afraid I assume this is overwhelmingly likely – you had better hope Christy doesn’t have a litigious lawyer.

  27. Graeme M stated:

    I understand generally how CO2 is meant to warm the atmosphere, I understand how water vapour provides a feedback to that forcing, I am aware of the various data describing temperature, CO2, sea level, proxies and so on. I’ve seen all the graphs. I can’t argue it with a scientist, but I can certainly understand it. And I don’t buy it.

    then continued, asking:

    Why can I not class myself as a skeptic?

    The word “skeptic” here has quite a precise meaning — one different from its use in the vernacular. The term “skeptic” here describes someone with a firm grasp of the corpus of information needed to make sound inferences about the meaning of salient data, to distinguish one set of related hypotheses from others, to determine when a particular model of a system ceases being useful and so forth. In this sense, all scientists are skeptics. They know precisely what it is that they doubt and what would need to be so for them to abandon doubt over a given proposition. You refer to science in the past being “later shown to be wrong”. This illustrates what you miss. The people who demonstrated that the science of their day was wrong had very clear ideas about where flaws might lie and set about devising methodologically sound ways to test their hypotheses. When they were successful, others who were skeptical that they would show this were persuaded because they understood the significance of what had been revealed. That’s how scientific progress occurs.

    If you aren’t even in a position to specify what it is you find unpersuasive, or evaluate in meaningful terms the responses of trained scientists then you simply aren’t in a position to be a skeptic. You’re simply someone who for non-specific or perhaps cultural reasons (infringement of your personal space?; unease at the policy implications?) feels uneasy about a particular conclusion drawn by someone better equipped than you to draw it.

  28. It ever occur to anyone that there could be the slightest bit of irony in couching arguments about the bileful nature of the denialists in this sort of language?

    No, they’re too used to the dishonesty of this kind of thing to give the deniers any benefit of the doubt:

    absence of any semblance of even an attempt at evidence-based addressing of the many open questions about climate change

  29. Graeme M

    Surely that’s as informed a view as I can muster, and that view is skeptical of the concensus opinion. Why can I not class myself as a skeptic?

    Ignorance is no defence in law.
    Ignorance is also no justification for skepticism. It is right you ought to be skeptical of various special interest groups hijacking global warming for their own agendas, it is profoundly ignorant to assume that scientists agree with the solutions or the politics. As has been explained ad nauseum, most climate scientists wish what they had found were not true because it upsets their world just as much as yours.

  30. wozza’s ghost

    the many open questions about climate change

    Which of these alleged questions bears on the issue? Is Minchin’s reliance on proven bullsh*t in some way affected by these unanswered questions? What open questions in particular bear upon policy responses?

  31. Lefty E,

    It is not a ringing endorsement of regulation, I agree. But both private and public distributors are regulated. This is not about privatisation.

    Electricity retail and distribution are as different as Amazon is from Australia Post. One sells books/electricity, the other delivers it. It does seem that you would sooner criticise the electricity market than learn about it.

    And the blog post you refer to @30 seems to follow a similar approach. Its sophisticated critique appears to be: it is too complicated for me to understand, therefore it must all be rubbish.

    Intelligent criticism indeed.

  32. Wozza said:

    This sort of stuff – abusive ad homs; {…] is why the public debate is being comprehensively lost by the AGW proponents. People may not all understand the complexities of the science, but they very readily understand when they are being bullshitted and put down by other people …

    Wozza … you misuse the term “ad hom”. An “ad hom” (actually argumentum ad hominem) is not abuse. It’s an attempt to strike out a claim on the basis that the person putting lacks the standing to advance it. It may or may not be fallacious or abusive. There are more suitable terms for what you want, and abuse is one of them. Invective is another.

    The other point is that finally, what most people think about AGW is at best a marginal issue. Anyone may have an opinion, but their opinions can’t change physics of the climate system, which unlike people, has no opinion. And even in public policy terms, we have seen again and again that public opinion is at best marginal to what happens in public policy. It’s neither a sufficient nor necessary condition for policy, even in nominal democracies such as ours.

    I don’t accept of course that we are “losing the argument”. Most people accept that AGW is genuine and serious. Most people hope the problem can be made to go away cheaply, which is a different thing.

  33. I think Fran Barlow you are being rather intentionally pejorative. I am using the word skeptic in its ‘vernacular’ meaning. I couldn’t care less what the formal definition of skeptic is in your world.

    I am skeptical of the claim that CO2 will cause a rise in global average temperatures such that some major negative impact will be experienced by mankind.

    The explanation for how this might happen has been set out in considerable detail on many websites, blogs and in many many peer reviewed papers. I am not ignorant of the theory.

    I will repeat my position. I don’t buy it.

    My point in posting is not to explain myself. Rather, I was observing that this thread is trying to infer that by not accepting your views, skeptics must inherently be bad people guilty of all manner of transgressions against the moral code of Decent Folk everywhere.

    It’s entirely reasonable to argue for your view (which as we shall see will not be borne out by events) but it is not reasonable to make assumptions about those who disagree. It’s not attractive on skeptical blogs and it isn’t attractive here.

  34. Actually, Fran that’s why I used the word “abusive” in front of the “ad hom”. That’s what adjectives do: qualify and add another layer of meaning. I am well aware of the fact that the quality of abusiveness is not a necessary attribute of the ad hom. In the case of almost all the language I have quoted above, though, I think the adjective in question is warranted. Do you disagree?

    As for “public opinion is at best marginal to what happens in public policy”, you are clearly an adherent of the Clive Hamilton let’s cancel democracy it isn’t giving us the result we superior thinkers require, school. I’d never have guessed. Fortunately, though its other deficiencies are manifest and manifold, I don’t think the current Australian Government has quite gone that far yet, though I agree it is unlikely it would have any compunction if it thought it could get away with it.

  35. Graeme M, to repeat (yet gain) a rather tired meme, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

    Or, more directly (quoting Clint Eastwood), “Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody’s got one.”

    Hint: you aren’t a sceptic.

  36. Graeme M said:

    I think Fran Barlow you are being rather intentionally pejorative. I am using the word skeptic in its ‘vernacular’ meaning. I couldn’t care less what the formal definition of skeptic is in your world.

    Well I profess to be equally uninterested in how much you care about the usage of the word. You should not use words when you are aware their use may be misleading. In this context the word skeptic is used both by scientists in the sense I outlined it above, and by opponents of mitigation, who wish to wrap themselves in the immunity accorded to those with professional integrity and competence in the field of climate science. For these latter it’s dissembling, and like you did for a time, they assert their objections have a scientific or intellectual basis, when there was none. Unless you want to dissemble, you should find another term.

    By your own admission, you have no scientific or intellectual basis for objection, and so, by your own admission, your reserve about accepting the science must derive from something else. You hinted at this basis above when you protested your leftist family background — a protest that foreshadows your belief about the sources of support for AGW and attempts pre-emption. This is actually quite common amongst those opposing climate policy. Accordingly, your objection is almost certainly cultural.

    Your assertions notwithstanding, climate science claims are not something you can “buy” or pass over. like a dish at a restaurant. Unlike ravioli or gnocchi, you don’t have to “come down on one side or the other”. Nobody is waiting to take your order. Nobody will be harmed by your choice.

    If you want to run around saying you reject the science but can’t say why, that is a matter for you. Your own words invite us to conclude why you reject it. You resent leftist public policy and see AGW as our especial concern. You’re probably not a bad person, but you are at best deceiving yourself if we take you at your word.

  37. Wozza asked:

    In the case of almost all the language I have quoted above, though, I think the adjective in question is warranted. Do you disagree?

    You might have left out “ad hom” without loss and stuck with abuse. There was no ad hominem in any meaningful sense.

    As for “public opinion is at best marginal to what happens in public policy”, you are clearly an adherent of the Clive Hamilton let’s cancel democracy it isn’t giving us the result we superior thinkers require, school.

    Hardly. Putting aside the caricature of Hamilton’s view, I was simply observing that in this country, as in many, “democracy” is adduced by politicians when they think it serves them, and “leadership” when it doesn’t. Most people oppose the Afghan mission, but yet we remain there indefinitely, with the endorsement of both major parties. Public opinion is simply irrelevant when the boss class wants something.

  38. Uteman I think you misunderstand. I am not ignorant. I simply observed that at the end of the day, I am not a scientist, so I am not in a position to argue the science in that much detail. I suspect many on this very blog are in a similar position, but it doesn’t stop them taking a stake. Hopefully, they have reasoned the evidence as best they can and not just jumped on board because it accords with their worldview.

  39. Fran Barlow, there is nothing to be gained by me stating the reasons why I reject AGW. It would also take far too long, because my opinion covers not just the science as I understand it, but also matters of cultural prejudice, worldview, psychology and herd instinct. Is my opinion necessarily valid? Probably not, at least by your measure. But as I said, I didn’t post here to try to tell you why Graeme M has seen through the AGW charade and has some startling new insights to offer.

    I was commenting on the unnecessarily prejudiced opinions expressed regarding those who argue against AGW.

    I will say though, that if I WERE responsible for policy, I’d accept the view of the science, because as someone else observed, it’s not a risk one should take with the fate of a society, or even an entire civilisation, in the balance.

    Luckily, I’m not in that position so I’ll happily express my opinion and argue the toss with people such as you.

    By the way, what’s your take on the paper I see that Watts has posted on?

    http://www.jcronline.org/doi/abs/10.2112/JCOASTRES-D-10-00157.1

  40. By the way, what’s your take on the paper I see that Watts has posted on?

    Who cares? Watts is a creationist, and anything he has to say is immediately suspect. The fact that you rely on the blog of a creationist for opinions on AGW tells us all we need to know about your scientific judgment.

    ***

    Re electricity privatization:

    I watched Lateline tonight and I learned a few things. Since 2007, electricity prices have jumped 30% nationally. State governments have attempted to justify these increases by asserting that they are needed to rebuild the power infrastructure, but this is a Federal, not a state responsibility. Ross Garnaut has expressed skepticism at this reason. He thinks it might be simple price-gouging by the private producers, and he has called for an enquiry on these increases. This is important in the current debate on carbon pricing. Without a knowledge of how much price-gouging has gone on in the past, when carbon pricing is introduced we won’t know how much the increase in electricity prices will be due to the carbon price and how much to price-gouging.

  41. Graeme M, one of the reasons I put up this post was to illustrate just how flawed Spencer is as a source of genuine climate science.

    Watts if anything is worse. So bad that he has to be either knowingly dishonest or seriously self-deluded.

    No, I don’t have a link, but if you follow Climate Progress for a while you’ll find some.

  42. So bad that he has to be either knowingly dishonest or seriously self-deluded.

    Isn’t it strange that knowing dishonesty and serious self-delusion are extremely difficult to tell apart? Maybe it’s because self-delusion starts with lying to oneself.

  43. I’ll be honest I&U – I dont really get it all, and part of the reason i dont is that its such a FREAKISH ZOMBOID MONSTROSITY FROM HELL which defies all known laws of nature and politics.

    But Ill tell you all anyone really needs to know about it: it has produced a 32% price rise over 3 years, in what is (effectively) a monopoly, with price-setting rent seekers in farcical faux-competition, gouging on top, with a go-ahead from an shit-useless regulator.

    That’s my summary, for you.

  44. Ah, I see. Business as usual eh. Thanks for so perfectly illustrating my point. Just can’t help yourselves can you.

    Of course I can read CP, RC, and all the usual pro-AGW crew. But I am hardly going to get any countering views there. So sites like Watts and Curry’s provide a range of alternative viewpoints. Regardless of your nonsensical character assessments.

    The paper I referred to was linked by Watts and seems to be in a reputable journal. Can’t say that is necessarily so of course. But it seemed of interest and wasn’t published for Watts express purpose.

    It is another curious tidbit that shows me that the science is not as settled as many would like me to believe. I realise that idea will hardly gain traction here, and it hasn’t taken long to see why.

  45. Graeme M,

    I am using the word skeptic in its ‘vernacular’ meaning. I couldn’t care less what the formal definition of skeptic is in your world.

    Therein lies your difficulty. You have, willingly it seems, eschewed the use of some basic philosophical tools which could help you better discern quality information from bulldust.

    The reason there are ‘formal’ definitions of philosophical terms, with precise meanings and uses, is because without these, we end up, well, like you GraemeM — lost in a postmodern maze, facing myriads of signs and signifiers, all pointing in different directions, all looking equally plausible.

    For some reason, you have chosen to equip your epistemic toolkit with little more than relativism to guide your way. This will not lead you anywhere reliable. You give equal weight to papers that are, objectively, not of equal merit. Your philosophy of knowledge appears to be closer to Bishop Berkeley than, say, Bertrand Russell.

    That doesn’t make you a bad person. But it will leave you profoundly misinformed (and, on the internet, prone to a fair bit of hostility and abuse from people who get very frustrated with those who wilfully and deliberately refuse to use the tools would enable them to discern quality information from garbage), and unable to help yourself, until you start making some sounder choices about how you assess the knowledge and information that comes your way.

    Kind of like (to pick a name at random), Nick Minchin.

  46. Who cares? Watts is a creationist, and anything he has to say is immediately suspect.

    For anyone still interested in what is and is not an ad hominem argument, silkworm has just provided a textbook example.

    I don’t disagree that Watts’ theology underpins his anti-AGW arguments, but that on its own doesn’t actually demonstrate where his arguments logically fail.

    However, there are multiple science-blogging sites with example after example of exactly that – showing where Watts misunderstands/misinterprets/misrepresents data to draw erroneous conclusions, and showing that even where he has been demonstrated to be incorrect in his claims he refuses to publicly acknowledge this, and refuses to apologise for using demonstrated untruths to accuse others of fraud.

  47. Silkworm and Lefty E,

    Garnaut says:

    The recent electricity price increases have mainly been driven by increases in the costs of transmission and distribution

    These are publicly owned in Queensland and NSW, private in Victoria and SA. This is nothing to do with privatisation.

    The electricity networks are regulated monopolies. There is no “faux competition”. There is no “price gouging by the producers”.

    Garnaut is calling for an inquiry on regulation. That is, he sees the fault as being with the regulators (so you got that bit right Lefty E), not with the public or private participants.

    There are some problems with electricity prices, but the two of you – since you clearly do not understand the industry structure – have failed to properly identify or understand them.

  48. Graeme M wrote:

    Hopefully, they have reasoned the evidence as best they can and not just jumped on board because it accords with their worldview.

    I dunno Graeme – I have a science background but I am no climate scientist. What I do know is that to accept the theories of people like Watt and Spencer over the mass of scientific study is not skepticism. In fact, to reject mainstream climate science requires either thousands of scientists to be wrong or a vast conspiracy. There is no evidence of conspiracy. Since some of the predictions of the climate models are starting to appear I would suggest the mainstream climate scientists at this stage are more right than wrong.
    You’re welcome to you opinion on what (if anything) should be done about global warming. You are not welcome to made up facts by Spencer and Watt. They are dishonest and provably so and do not merit your trust.

    In many ways the “manufactured skeptic” industry has done an excellent job of cherry picking, misrepresentation and the stubborn repeating of lies which mollifies many people for whom the idea of global warming is anathema. If they weren’t so provably dishonest they should be congratulated.

  49. @41: You know something, Wozza?

    If somebody swears at you, it doesn’t disprove the AGW hypothesis. It’s far more likely that you’ve just done something annoying.

    I guess this is Denialist Blog Science Rule #32425: Only arguments couched in polite language are candidates for being correct.

  50. So sites like Watts and Curry’s provide a range of alternative viewpoints. Regardless of your nonsensical character assessments.

    And here is the problem. Just because there are two sides to an argument, Graeme, doesn’t mean that both are equally valid. I also check Watt’s and Curry’s sites from time to time, but have never found anything there that even remotely approaches good science (and yes, I am an earth scientist). All of the papers they reference have been discredited, and for very good skeptical scientific reasons (e.g. misapplication of models, wrong application of statistical techniques, in fact every thing that they level at ‘mainstream’ climate science).

    We don’t have all day to respond to every denialist argument and point out its flaws, we actually do some science, rather than indulge in punditry with invented facts.

    At some point you have to start ignoring the boy who cried wolf.

  51. “I am not in a position to argue the science in that much detail”

    I’d humbly suggest then that to assume your opinion is more likely to be correct than that of the vast numbers of scientists who *are* in such a position is, well, more a little egotistical.

    The obvious question to ask yourself is why do you treat AGW theory in such fashion, when presumably for every other widely accepted scientific theory in existence you’re happy to trust the experts on?

    Could it be perhaps that for every other widely accepted scientific theory there isn’t a well-funded campaign by a collection of individuals and corporations who see their bottom lines threatened by the likely outcomes of having governments accept reality?

  52. By the way Graeme, if you want some (statistical) assessments on why Watt’s assertions are completely wrong in many situations, then you only have to look at Tamino’s blog.

    You don’t have to be a statistician to follow most of the arguments. Even skipping over some of the more esoteric stuff you can still get the idea that Watts doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about.

  53. refuses to apologise for using demonstrated untruths to accuse others of fraud.

    tt @ 53, that’s exactly right and why Watts is plain reprehensible.

    Graeme M @ 46, the article you link to purports to show that there is no positive link between sea level rise and temperature rise during the 20C according to the US tide gauge records. If anything the sign is said to be negative.

    So far I’ve only read the conclusion, but the article looks quite technical. My practice would be to note it and wait to hear what qualified scientists make of it. Usually in cases like this there ends up being serious methodological faults or other problems.

    The connection between sea level rise and temperature, evident from the paleorecord over millions of years, is not going to be easily overturned, except in the minds of people like Watts.

    CP and RC are not “the usual pro-AGW crew”, rather they are serious scientists, or in the case of CP science reporters, with a record of ethics and integrity.

  54. Jess, yes Tamino’s blog seems to pay particular attention to Watts, and anyone can follow the line of his argument.

  55. Graeme

    I don’t understand why Watts is so excited over the paper you link to. It really just seems to be a completely inconclusive study.

    There are a number of red flags that I can see from a skim read:

    (a) they don’t adjust for isostatic rebound, assuming it to be linear – it would be nice to see something newer than a paper from 1992 which did the same thing referenced for that assumption, given the advances in measuring these things in the intervening 20 years.

    (b) slightly more than half of their analysed stations _do_ show an acceleration, and no mention is made of this fact, even if the mean acceleration is slightly negative. Furthermore the acceleration seems to be strongly grouped (when looking at their Table 2), which suggests that there is more of a geographic signal (i.e. different accelerations in different areas) in their dataset than the authors credit.

    (c) The negative acceleration is well within the magnitude of error anyway (mean = -0.011, error = +/-0.012) – you could just as easily say that the sea level rise is steady and not accelerating. In fact, when they remove some stations which don’t have data beyond 1985 the net acceleration disappears. This is hardly convincing stuff – the results are just inconclusive, and the authors are correct in asserting that more research is needed.

    (d) This isn’t really useful in predicting sea level acceleration, because most climate scientists would agree that there are a number of identified feedbacks (e.g. sea temperature rise, ice sheet melting, most of which have been proven to be accelerating), which might not be showing up in this analysis, but are ‘in the pipeline’ to be realised in the future. When these things start to kick in then the acceleration should take off.

    Anyway, even if sea level rise acceleration is negative, actual sea level can still be rising. So this doesn’t really disprove anything about actual rate of sea level rise, it just says that we had a fairly steady rise over the last century or so. I think even the IPCC has acknowledged this fact somewhere.

    So where’s your ‘bombshell conclusion’?

  56. Just to clarify my previous post – I’m not disputing the results of the authors in the paper, just disputing that such strong conclusions (a la Watts) can be drawn from the statistically ambiguous trends presented.

  57. So I&U- you’re just ignoring the faux – competition in retail links I added, from Qld? The ones you said had never been suggested to the public?

  58. Thanks Jess, I take your points. I must point out I wasn’t offering it up as a bombshell, simply that from my brief read it seemed to add to my understanding that sea level rise is not currently accelerating. Like many of you I don’t have time to read every paper out there, so from what I can glean from my limited readings, that’s the take home message on sea level rise.

    I don’t think anyone anywhere argues against a relatively steady rise, but the AGW position argues for a rather rapid increase which I am not certain is evidenced. Whether the rise that is to be seen is primarily of AGW origin is really the question.

  59. Ute Man, Jess and Wizofaus, I’d really like to tackle some of the points you’ve made but I’m at work dammit! I fear that by the time I can get back to this the debate will have passed me by.

    Of course, that may be the case anwyay 🙂

  60. Oh and Wizofaus, I DON’T trust the experts on everything else either. Especially doctors. But that’s a whole different story.

  61. Jess @ 62, thanks for that preliminary analysis, which shows some of the paths a more thorough analysis might go.

    The US coastline is a small fraction of the world coastline. From memory there was a sheet of ice a mile thick over New York 22,000 years ago and the ice sheet came as far south as St Louis. Some isostatic rebound seems probable.

    Also you mention delayed response. Again from memory I think it takes about 50 years for a pulse of melting water from Antarctica to cross the equator.

    In the 20th century the sea rose 15cm or an average of 1.5mm per year. I think the current rate is about 3.7mm.

    Over 90% of the additional heat from global warming goes into the ocean. Thermal expansion would be an inevitable direct result which I think is still the biggest factor.

    Papers by Rahmstorf and Vermeer and Rahmstorf take a global view and incorporate the satellite record in recent decades. On the face of it they are much more likely to reflect what’s happening overall.

  62. I don’t know how we wandered onto electricity privatisation, but I&U we’ve had both AGL and Origin Energy knocking on our door in Brisbane offering deals where there is not a struck match between them in the longer run, as far as we can make out. So the retail end here is definitely privatised.

  63. Mercurius @ 56 “If somebody swears at you, it doesn’t disprove the AGW hypothesis.”

    No, but neither does it prove the hypothesis does it? As I think several of our past exchanges evidence, I have no problem with robust language per se. I do have a problem when the user of the language appears to believe that abuse is all that is needed to prove the point. Read some of the early posts in this thread that I quoted, and tell me what they contained other than shouting at the opposition, by way of facts or evidence.

    Silkworm have you found that evidence for Christy’s falsification of data yet, or you too busy searching for creationists under the bed? Anthony Watts might be many things but he is not a creationist. And as tigtog points out, if he were this would prove exactly what about climate change?

    If you do believe people’s religious beliefs are relevant to climate change debate – and I would be the last to deny the increasingly religious fervour of many who comment here about it – then we could have declared this post an epic fail right at the beginning and spent our time more constructively.

    Because Bickmore is Mormon, and has a reputation as a Mormon apologist. He has been a Mormon missionary, taught at a Mormon seminary, written a book (“Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith and Early Christianity”), and generally spent more of his working life on Mormonism than on climate change.

    Personally I am more concerned that his academic qualifications and record (focusing on low temperature geochemical reactions and designing school curricula) are hardly central to the field this post relies on his expertise in, but if religious crankery is what floats your boat you can declare Brian’s post off target straight away, surely?

  64. Who cares? Watts is a creationist, and anything he has to say is immediately suspect.

    For anyone still interested in what is and is not an ad hominem argument, silkworm has just provided a textbook example.

    Actually, it isn’t an ad-hominem argument. It’s a statement about the reliability and trustworthiness of Watts in regards to science. Creationism is an anti-science ideology and it always casts doubt on the evidence and conclusions a person provides. In science it’s the evidence that counts, and ad-hominem isn’t a failure of evidence it’s an informal logical fallacy.

    Shorter dexitroboper: Life’s too short to take creationists opinions about science as anything other than noise.

  65. dexitroboper, it is totally possible to for a statement to be an ad-hominem argument and still also be persuasive informal reasoning. That’s precisely why ad-hominems are so often used in the art of persuasion, but it doesn’t make them any less logically fallacious in the strict rhetorical sense.

    I think it’s fine and dandy to extrapolate from Watts’ documented record, of getting things wrong over and over again without ever acknowledging his errors, to come to a conclusion about his lack of credibility. Stating “he’s a creationist” isn’t doing that.

  66. Brian & Lefty E,

    You have to understand the difference between electricity distributors and electricity retailers. Retail is competitive and is now privatised in all States. Distribution is a regulated monopoly and remains publicly-owned in NSW and Queensland.

    The electricity price increase that customers are seeing is being caused (primarily) by increases in the distribution prices which distributors charge to retailers and which retailers then pass on to their customers. There is no suggestion – from Garnaut anyway – that retailers are contributing to the price hikes by increasing their margins.

    If Aussie Post increased its parcel delivery rates, you would expect to pay more – in total – for stuff you buy on-line and have delivered. But you wouldn’t blame the on-line retailers for this price increase, or suggest that it is because on-line retailers are private and competitive. The electricity situation is analogous to this.

  67. That’s certainly how it is here too Brian – although the in VIC the distribution is also private, who themselves engage in faux competition on British rail (depends where were standing at midnight on a certain day etc).

    The system appears to generate a lot of activity, heat, and cost, and shareholder value, but no competition in price whatsoever. Id call the whole edifice useless rent-seeking on a natural monopoly, and with the other levels involved (ever had solar installed?) it all has to be a factor in price increases.

    Thats one of the reasons we should embrace a CO2 price (to link back to the thread belatedly): it will foster greater diversification of supply sources and I suspect its likely to drive down prices in the longer term.

  68. I’m quite fascinated by Graeme M’s contributions to this thread. With respect to ‘skepticism’ and its semantics, I think he exemplifies very well the current phenomenon addressed in agnotology – i.e. “the study of culturally-induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data”.

    Clearly, Graeme is a ‘denier’ rather than a skeptic – despite his general understanding and acceptance of the science of AGW, he nonetheless doesn’t “buy it” (which is an interesting term to use, given the culturally derived inducement to deny the reality of AGW because of its economic implications). However, he says he’d react differently (be less ‘skeptical’?) if he had to formulate public policy.

    I think that this dissonance goes to the heart of the way the debate about AGW has been framed in Australia. When the cultural attitude of “I’m alright Jack” comes up against probabilistic science, the science is discarded in favor of short-term self interest. Of course, that is exactly what the MSM and the big emitters have been playing upon, with great success.

    Given the prevalence of such culturally-induced ignorance, I’m starting to think that an effective national response to AGW will never be achieved in this country. Big business is fucking us over on AGW, and it’s people like Graeme who are letting them have their way. We’re rooted.

  69. Lefty E,

    I would tend to agree with you that electricity retail competition is not obviously delivering significant benefits to the consumer. But that is a quite separate issue to the electricity price rises that Garnaut is criticising, and it has nothing to do with privatisation.

    I also agree with you that the real benefit of the competitive infrastructure that has been established in electricity generation and retail will be seen when there is a carbon price and innovators will have the opportunity to invest in new low-carbon generation technology and sell this to the consumer. In the old days (before deregulation), it would have been left to the old State electricity commissions to decide what is good for us.

  70. Dexibotroper said:

    Actually, it isn’t an ad-hominem argument.

    Well actually in that form it is an ad hominem argument and you repeat it — one should discount propositions based not on their content, structure or reference but on the basis of who advances them or their attributes.

    As I said above to Wozza, it’s not eh case that argumenta ad hominem are inevitably fallacious. A person who has a demonstrable reason to lie on some matter (either to advance a cause or subvert one) ought not to be relied upon. Pointing out that reason is ad hominem but it’s not fallacious. Doubtless Kim Jong Il or Colonel Gaddhafi would be unreliable witnesses as to the true state of their respective populations. A person clearly suffering from paranoid delusions and/or affected by hallucinogens would not be a reliable witness to events, especially if the claims being made were counter-intuitive.

    What one needs to show to demonstrate fallacy in each case where the character or interest of a claimant is raised is whether this is pertinent to the truth status of the claims being made. Yet whether one succeeds or fails in this, the argument will still be ad hominem.

  71. @ Graeme M

    When you do read scientific papers you need to realise that most arguments are only order-of-magnitude estimates at best. The mean isn’t really as important as the margin of error. Big statements about the state of science need to be backed up by very small margins of error.

    Also, be very careful when you talk about the AGW position. I don’t really know what that is. As far as being skeptical about science, you have three choices: (a) you accept the mainstream science, and have good scientific reasons for doing so, (b) you disagree with the mainstream science but have good scientific reasons for doing so, or (c) you disagree with the mainstream science view but have no good reason for doing so. If you’re one of the first two, you probably deserve the title scientific skeptic (note that people in group (b) generally mostly agree with those in group (a), and disagree on a few minor points).

    If you’re in group (c) then you are a denialist. As far as the whole ad-hom debate, Watts has shown that he is firmly in this latter camp, as he argues in a way which suggests he is definitely not a very good scientist, creationist or not.

    One example of this (and this is regardless of his documented misunderstandings of basic physics and chemistry) is his tendency to pick one example and claim that this contradicts some general principle of ‘the AGW position’, without really stating why a specific case can be extrapolated to more general conclusions. This screams crank to me (and I would assume to most other scientists as well). He seems to have this view that climate science is a house of cards, and if he pulls one card out then the whole thing will come crashing down. In fact, climate science is more like a very wide-bottom pyramid, and in order to undermine it you’d better be prepared to do a lot of digging though some very hard bedrock (including some _very_ basic physics, which I very much doubt is massively wrong).

    In terms of public policy, well thats where things get more fuzzy, opinions matter more, and I’d be out of my depth there. But I guess the Watts lesson is don’t go around smearing the science if you don’t understand it fully, you’ll just look like a tool.

  72. He seems to have this view that climate science is a house of cards, and if he pulls one card out then the whole thing will come crashing down. In fact, climate science is more like a very wide-bottom pyramid, and in order to undermine it you’d better be prepared to do a lot of digging though some very hard bedrock (including some _very_ basic physics, which I very much doubt is massively wrong).

    Very well said, Jess. That’s a great analogy which I plan to steal.

  73. Graeme, I am a scientist, but not a climate scientist, and I’m pretty comfortable with my understanding of the scientific process. Call it credentialism, but if you’re thinking you’re smart enough to argue with every single major scientific institution in the world, you’ve got to have some strong evidence.

    I have seen countless comprehensive take-downs of the arguments of deniers by professional scientists, there really aren’t any major critiques of the general theory of anthropogenic climate change with any standing. Sure there are several grey areas, but these are all relative trivialities.

    I’m not going to say trust me, I am going to say trust the Royal Society, trust CSIRO, trust the National Academy of Sciences, etc etc etc. Or, your choice, trust a couple of people with an online presence that also believe in creationism and other equally wacky bullshit ideas.

    If you really think there’s a debate here, or that your opinions matter in this (the science), then you’re crossing the line from reasonable sceptic to credulous fool.

    None of the above applies to the economics of the solutions BTW. I think there are plenty of interesting discussions to be had about how to deal with the issue most effectively. About the only thing not in doubt is that the problem has to be dealt with, and soon.

  74. Fran: …I was simply observing that in this country, as in many, “democracy” is adduced by politicians when they think it serves them, and “leadership” when it doesn’t.

    N’er a truer word etc.

  75. Great article by Jo Chandler in the AGE today. Here’s an exerpt:

    Observing that in the same period there had been a decline in public acceptance of the mainstream science, Garnaut laid at least some of the blame on the media. His criticisms reflect broad concern that when applied to scientific debate, the standard adversarial ”he said/she said” media structure – as routinely used in reporting a political debate or a court case – distorts the real levels of scientific dispute on the issues.

    In a flawed attempt at balance, journalists present the views and prognosis put forward by numerous experts working within mainstream, peer-reviewed science, and then weigh them equally against the opinions of a handful of outliers whose views are generally not supported by published evidence.

    ”That’s a very strange sort of balance,” remarked Garnaut. ”It’s a balance of words, and not a balance of scientific authority.”

    Atmospheric scientist Professor Michael Raupach, co-chairman of the Australian Academy of Science’s climate change working group, said that Garnaut’s comments would resonate loudly with many scientists bruised by their encounters with the media.

    Standard journalistic frameworks of fair play not only distorted the debate, he said, but they also struggled with the nuance and caveats that are part and parcel of science. ”So if a scientist says ‘climate change is supported by very strong evidence, but there is a little uncertainty around specific aspects’, the headline will often be ‘scientists uncertain about climate change’.”

    Scientists are fighting back, bypassing media and taking information directly to communities – via the Climate Commission, which began a nationwide series of ”conversations” between an expert panel and the public in Geelong last week – and also doing outreach to opinion leaders, policymakers and politicians, offering expert briefings and tutorials to all comers.

    The article features one of the banners from the anti-Carbon Tax rally the other day. “NO CARBON TAX LIES LIES DONT F**K AUSTRALIA GET YOUR CARBON TAX HERE PAY FOR THE WORLD.” Incoherent, barely literate. Is this the best our education system and society can do? Are we really a developed country after all?

  76. Helen @ 83, thanks for that link. There was someone here from the ABC world service the other day (Phillip Adams?) who commented unfavourably on the concept of “balance” for the reasons given. I forget the term he used, but they go more by the quality of the knowledge/argument. A policy of balance is a policy that results in misinforming the public.

    The event at Geelong was reported in brief here. It’s really a Federal Government initiative.

    We tend to forget that Gillard has had a strong commitment to achieving bipartisan consensus on climate change. That was the stated reason for wanting to defer the CPRS. Her ill-fated people’s assembly idea was to achieve consensus, then act. In negotiating with the Greens, it seems they wouldn’t play unless she acted, but she is still trying to convince the electorate, having given up on the Opposition.

    Sure that is politically necessary if she’s going to be re-elected, but there is consistency in her attitude.

  77. Helen @ 83 – what’s even scarier in that article is the Republican party congressmen who want to prevent the EPA from even taking greenhouse gas emissions into account when considering the effect of legislation. I thought someone might have been trolling but it really seems like this is an actual draft bill.

    Wow, legislation of scientific fact. The US is really in the crapper if these idiots are running it. How long til Minchin gets this power?

  78. Jess, I thought if it worked it’d actually be rather cool. Imagine the possibilities if the US congress could simply legistlate the law of gravity or biological phenomena like ageing out of existence, for instance 🙂 although the unforeseen effects could be a little terrifying, perhaps…

  79. Hmm, I think I’d legislate cold fusion into existence. Or repeal the second law of themodynamics.

    Then I’d legislate me a Time Cube…

  80. From the wiki:

    The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most famous attempts to establish scientific truth by legislative fiat. Despite that name, the main result claimed by the bill is a method to square the circle, rather than to establish a certain value for π, although the bill does contain text that appears to dictate various incorrect values of π, such as 3.2.

    The bill never became law, due to the intervention of a mathematics professor who happened to be present in the legislature.

    Although the bill has become known as the “pi bill”, its text does not mention the name pi at all, and Goodwin appears to have thought of the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle as distinctly secondary to his main aim of squaring the circle. Towards the end of Section 2 appears the following passage:

    Furthermore, it has revealed the ratio of the chord and arc of ninety degrees, which is as seven to eight, and also the ratio of the diagonal and one side of a square which is as ten to seven, disclosing the fourth important fact, that the ratio of the diameter and circumference is as five-fourths to four[.]

    [5] This comes close to an explicit claim that π = 4/1.25 = 3.2, and that √2 = 10⁄7 ≈ 1.429.

  81. Jess, the Republicans in the US are predominantly climate change deniers rather than sceptics, if you go by their actions.

  82. Silkworm have you found that evidence for Christy’s falsification of data yet, or you too busy searching for creationists under the bed?

    Before we get into the subject of motive, I want to clear something up with you. Do you or don’t you accept that the data Spencer and Christy published were false?

  83. Not something I have time to compile, but it would be interesting to measure the correlation coefficient between the comparative international figures on education performance benchmarks (eg. TIMMS, PISA etc…) among developed countries and the opinion-polled level of “skepticism” (by which I mean, GraemeM-style solipsistic relativism) about AGW in those countries.

    Not looking for a crudely monocausal analysis — there’d be other factors needed like the level of fossil-fuel lobbying, the green vote in different countries etc. — I wonder what results we’d get?

  84. @71

    Mercurius @ 56 “If somebody swears at you, it doesn’t disprove the AGW hypothesis.”

    No, but neither does it prove the hypothesis does it?

    Wozza, it is incumbent on precisely nobody at LP to “prove the hypothesis”. There are tens of thousands of scientists around the world whose job it is to wrestle with the scientific problem of studying the world’s climate.

    Nor do we have any intellectual, professional or political interest in attempting to convince, or please, you, or anyone else, who is hell-bent on ignoring or denying credible science because you choose to place more weight on a couple of shonky studies than you do on thousands more credible ones.

    You have overlooked the possibility that the uncivil welcome is dished out simply because bloviating, time-wasting, denialists trolls are a daily aggravation and a lot of people here are just pissed off with youse.

    And with Michin’s junk science.

  85. Wow, legislation of scientific fact.

    Yeah, well, it goes hand-in-hand with the general capture of institutions by a legalistic mindset, doesn’t it?

    A lot of lay-people in the realm of public opinion and punditry seem these days to approach scientific questions as though they are an adversarial court case — and as though establishing scientific truths is a matter of what construction you choose to place on the facts — and that the most silver-tongued proponent of their case is the one that deserves to win the judgement.

    If only people watched fewer crime dramas and more science docos!

  86. @95

    “You have overlooked the possibility that the uncivil welcome is dished out simply because bloviating, time-wasting, denialists trolls are a daily aggravation”.

    Not overlooked so much, Mercurius, as preferred not to believe that the definition of bloviation and time-wasting is any view contrary to yours. Now that you put it that way, however, I can see how your very evident high regard for your own views could easily lead you to that definition.

    What you overlook is the possibility that all the mutual reinforcement round here – the sourcing of material only from RealClimate, Deltoid and other approved sources, and the hums of mutual agreement and dissing of “deniers” that constitute the bulk of the “discussion” of things climate round here – may lead you to missing things that are relevant aqnd factual. Or at the very least accepting things that are not factual.

    As a very small example,I have twice asked Silkworm on this thead to provide evidence for his bald accusation that Christy has falsified satellite data. He has refused, in favour of irrelevant allegations of mass creationism among all and sundry with whom he disagrees.

    But is this blatant dishonesty and attempt to mislead criticised by anyone else? No, because he is arguing on the right side. It is only Minchin,Graeme M, me and the like who are dishonest and need to be put in our places.

    You are right about on the general point of course – it isn’t incumbent on anyone at LP to engage in debate just because I or anyone else argues. If you prefer a comfort blanket and an outlet for aggression against the enemy to a real blog, that is your choice.

    But as I said way back, it is an attitude contributing greatly to the way your side (I would prefer not to put it in those terms, but it is clearly a matter of tribalism to quite a few here)is now contriving to lose comprehensively the public debate, despite having a good deal of the basic science (if not as much as you think) on your side.

  87. “…a little less tolerant of bullshit…” THE BLOKE IS A LEGEND!

    HE HAS ALSO CONFIRMED THAT THE LIBERAL PARTY ARE ALL BUT ANTI-MARKET FORCES!

    GILLARD IS LAFFING AT TONY ABBOTT TRYING TO MANOUVER OUT OF THIS TAILSPIN TYPE OF SITUATION….

  88. Wozza’s Ghost #98,

    As a very small example,I have twice asked Silkworm on this thead to provide evidence for his bald accusation that Christy has falsified satellite data. He has refused, in favour of irrelevant allegations of mass creationism among all and sundry with whom he disagrees.

    But is this blatant dishonesty and attempt to mislead criticised by anyone else? No, because he is arguing on the right side. It is only Minchin,Graeme M, me and the like who are dishonest and need to be put in our places.

    I don’t follow the various debunkings in enough detail to know the story about Christy’s data, so therefore I have concentrated on other issues in this thread.

    Perhaps that is true of more here than just me.

  89. Wozza, if you choose to cast what debate is possible about the theory of AGW in tribal terms, that’s your problem. The two “sides” (if you insist) are reality-based (the position of the scientific community) and delusional (you, Minchin, Blot, Plimer, etc), so don’t be too precious about people swearing at you. My preference would be for you to fuck off and stop wasting my time.

    And yes, AGW is a theory (like evolution, relativity, the heliocentric solar system, tectonic plates and many others), not a hypothesis.

  90. I don’t follow the various debunkings in enough detail to know the story about Christy’s data

    To be frank, nor do I.

    It is only Minchin, Graeme M, me and the like who are dishonest and need to be put in our places.

    I don’t regard any of the three mentioned as dishonest and I’m not sure that anyone has specifically made that accusation either. Personally I’ve avoided using any epithets to characterise any of you.

    Mercurius uses language I wouldn’t use and he over-states the aggravation. It has not been daily in recent times.

    If I found a paper that departed from the ordinary, like the one linked by Graeme M, I’d post about it.

  91. I have twice asked Silkworm on this thead to provide evidence for his bald accusation that Christy has falsified satellite data.

    And I responded to you @ 93. In case you are too lazy to go back there, I will repeat it here for you.

    Before we get into the subject of motive, I want to clear something up with you. Do you or don’t you accept that the data Spencer and Christy published were false?

  92. What you overlook is the possibility that all the mutual reinforcement round here – the sourcing of material only from RealClimate, Deltoid and other approved sources, and the hums of mutual agreement and dissing of “deniers” that constitute the bulk of the “discussion” of things climate round here – may lead you to missing things that are relevant aqnd factual. Or at the very least accepting things that are not factual.

    Naaah. Haven’t overlooked it. Considered it. Rejected it. Like any good skeptic.

    Seen far too much shoddy science on denier sites over the years to bother with them again. Like, you know, seen far too much shoddy “news” on ACA and Today Tonight to ever watch them again. Seen far too much shoddy “interviewing” on Insiders to bother with it again. Seen far too much advertising on CNN to even find any news on there anymore.

    Life’s too short to spend it consuming bullshit. A nutritious, high-fibre information diet is what I’m after — and that ain’t to be found at WuWT and similar. In my experience, for media, the likes of the BBC, NYT, The Financial Review, The Economist, and, on their good days, New Scientist and the ABC – can give a lay-person a passable understanding of big issues.

    For science, you gotta go with, as Wilful put it, The Royal Society, CSIRO, The National Academy of Sciences, etc. Deniers have yet to contribute anything of value that improves the science — so, as far as I’m concerned, rotten tomatoes is all you’re gonna cop.

    I can see how your very evident high regard for your own views could easily lead you to that definition.

    This is what amuses most. The projection. I accept the findings of mainstream science and that is considered to be my “own view” for which I have some kind of “high regard”. Yet it is precisely because I haven’t scientific training and have the intellectual honesty and humility to know this, that I accept mainstream findings.

    It is the people who, despite having no more scientific training than the likes of myself, a “lay-skeptic”, think they know better than the Royal Society, CSIRO, National Academy of Sciences etc., who can plausibly be accused of having too high a regard for their own views…paging Nick Minchin!

  93. It is only Minchin,Graeme M, me and the like who are dishonest and need to be put in our places.

    WG, we aren’t claiming you’re dishonest. We’re just claiming that your arguments about the science are complete bullshit. If you want to make a bold claim that will overturn large amounts of well-established science, then you need to have some bloody good, iron-clad evidence to back it up. That’s the basis of how science works.

    So far, neither you, nor Minchin, nor Spencer, nor any other denier have provided that evidence. Therefore, until you do, people interested in the science will simply dismiss you (and rightly so) as cranks.

    PS. For those that are interested,here’s a link to how the crank catcher (at least for mathematics/physics) works on John Baez’s site. It’s equally applicable to most of what Watts posts. I’m pretty sure there’s one out there somewhere for climate cranks too.

  94. P.P.P.S. Here’s an even older crankpot index, from 1968, which includes a full reasoning about how scientists determine cranks (link to PDF here).

    It’s as good a basic introduction to the difference between science and pseudoscience that I’ve ever read. If you feel like you’re being called a crank unfairly, then take a look at the link above and think about how you might change the way you operate.

  95. Silkworm @ 103

    So you make a bald allegation with no evidence and, when called on it, it’s up to me to help you justify it? Don’t think so, which is why I ignored it the first time you tried it on. It is your responsibility to evidence your own statement, especially when it contains such a serious allegation.

    You can’t of course, which is why the wriggling.

    Jess, please read what I actually write, instead of what you think that, as a member of the homogeneous denialist crowd all holding to your apparent way of thinking in every aspect the same view, I ought to have written. For example, above to Mercurius, “despite having a good deal of the basic science (if not as much as you think) on your side.”

    There is not a black and white dichotomy – everything denialists say is wrong, everything the real (albeit generally self-identified as such) scientists say is right. There is room to accept the basic science and still challenge specific exaggerations and inaccuracies. Silkworm’s bullshit for example. Are you saying that you accept that?

    You noted yourself in regard to Watts that “He seems to have this view that climate science is a house of cards, and if he pulls one card out then the whole thing will come crashing down. In fact, climate science is more like a very wide-bottom pyramid.” Quite. So why the sensitivity, do you think, on this blog to any and every challenge to any specific card? If there is anything in the old aphorism about by their actions ye shall know them, one might conclude that the view that it could be a house of cards is a little more prevalent than you think.

    And spare me the patronising lectures on the difference between science and pseudoscience please. I will put the relevance of my scientific qualification to this debate – PhD in physical chemistry – up against yours any time you think it is necessary (which it isn’t at this level of discussion, I only raise it because you appear to ssume I must be an ignoramus since you disgree with me). It helps me distinguish though between empirical observation – the basics of real science – and computer modelling, merely a tool to real science, which seems beyond many here but is central to any real discussion.

    Mercurius, if that’s the best you’ve got we’re done.

  96. Wozza said:

    Jess, please read what I actually write, instead of what you think that, as a member of the homogeneous denialist crowd all holding to your apparent way of thinking in every aspect the same view, I ought to have written.

    This is a mess. Not the least of the problems of the denialist crowd is that apart from a determination that no policy at all should be enacted in relation to the emission of CO2e, they have no coherent and well articulated position in relation to the basic science.

    There is not a black and white dichotomy – everything denialists say is wrong, everything the real (albeit generally self-identified as such) scientists say is right.

    Let’s take these one at a time:

    everything denialists say is wrong

    Plainly not. It’s probably as hard to be 100% wrong as 100% right, at least if one makes some attempt to describe the same reality everyone else imagines they apprehend. The test is whether the groups identified as “denialists” say anything/much that is likely to shed new light on a significant problem. The answer is that they rarely do so, and when they do, it is typically because scientific responses debunk their claims or show them not to be salient. They are the equivalent of hecklers at a debate. They are, for the most part, a nuisance in the struggle to specify good public policy.

    everything the real {…} [actively publishing in journal of record] scientists say is right

    The point here is that this group have taken the trouble to make testable claims that have passed muster with others qualified to evaluate them and thus have contributed something worthwhile to scientific discourse. The claims may, upon examination, ultimately prove to be flawed in some respect or another, but because their approaches have followed appropriate methodologies and been explicit, they offer a basis for further inquiry or corroboration. That doesn’t make them “right” but it does make them useful. In the absence of clear errors, this can help humanity make reasonable choices about how to respond.

    So why the sensitivity, do you think, on this blog to any and every challenge to any specific card?

    The “sensitivity” is not to the substance of the “challenges”, which have to date been without scientific merit. We understand that each new “challenge” is a putative member of the zombie army of denier tropes, the mere existence of which can be cited as ostensible “evidence” that scientists are “divided” on the question of climate change. We saw that in run up to Copenhagen last year, in the rollout of the “climategate” troll. Despite the fact that “climategate” raised no matter of substance against the science, and illustrated no more than that scientists were frustrated at being trolled and stalked by shills for the enemies of public policy in this area, it was touted by the shills and their dupes as some sort of smoking gun that had brought down a “hoax”. More recently, Flannery’s claims about an up to 1000-year hiatus before temperatures decline post zero net emissions are being so adduced.

    It’s not suyrprising then that those of us who accept that the basic science is robust will move quickly to institute whack-a-mole/troll.

  97. So why the sensitivity, do you think, on this blog to any and every challenge to any specific card? If there is anything in the old aphorism about by their actions ye shall know them, one might conclude that the view that it could be a house of cards is a little more prevalent than you think.

    There’s a rather large difference between the scientific edifice of climatology crashing down, and the public support for the painful conclusions drawn from climate science crashing down, which is what we are seeing thanks to the efforts of the contrarians. Those of us who are concerned about political fallout from a PR failure are worried about those cards, but not because they affect the science.

    It helps me distinguish though between empirical observation – the basics of real science – and computer modelling, merely a tool to real science, which seems beyond many here but is central to any real discussion.

    It’s the contrarians who are obsessed with computer modelling as if its all that climatology has to offer. It’s a predictive tool, one in which certain models have performed better than others in back-testing against historical data (aka your empirical observations). This makes it a useful tool as part of the larger investigative kit, and not one that should just be abandoned because some people like to simplistically and cynically mock its capabilities.

  98. WG

    There is not a black and white dichotomy … There is room to accept the basic science and still challenge specific exaggerations and inaccuracies.

    Agreed, but it’s not scientists who are claiming that everything is black and white here. The claims that were being made in the thread (at least the ones I was talking about) were predominantly to do with the claims that Watts et al make on their blog that the slightest inconsistency is somehow ‘proof’ that all science is wrong though. And to be fair, there are many environmentalists who make extremely exaggerated claims in the opposite direction. I treat those claims with equal scepticism.

    So why the sensitivity, do you think, on this blog to any and every challenge to any specific card?

    I don’t think we’re being overly sensitive here, just skeptical of the claims that you are making about how uncertain the science is. I’m pretty happy to have any specific card examined and dealt with on it’s own merits.

    As an example from earlier in this thread, Graeme posted a paper and asked for comments about both the paper’s contents, and the reaction from Watts et al. I took the time to read the paper and provide my first impressions. At no point did I descend to ‘tribal thinking’ or dismiss it out of hand. I also think that the tone here is fairly genteel in general, with invective (a la Mercurius) reserved for those that deserve it.

    I will put the relevance of my scientific qualification to this debate

    Sure, if you like. I’m in the last year of a PhD in geophysical fluid dynamics. So what? I’ve met plenty of PhD holders who don’t know the first thing about the philosophy of science (which is what is being discussed here), and haven’t ever really thought about it at all. And I’m not claiming to be a fantastic philosopher either, but when you say that:

    It helps me distinguish though between empirical observation – the basics of real science – and computer modelling, merely a tool to real science…

    well, sorry but this is bullshit. Computer modelling is as much a tool as experimental modelling, theoretical reasoning and yes, even observation. All three are on the same level and to privilege one over the other shows a basic misunderstanding of how science works.

    By your reasoning we cannot carry out any experimentation at all, because it doesn’t relate to ‘the real world’. I carry out analogue experiments in a laboratory to understand the physics of fluid systems – just because I’m not actually observing the ‘real’ systems in some way doesn’t mean that the physical understanding can’t be applied to other flows. Even observation is dependent in some way on instrumentation, which has been (a) designed from theoretical considerations, and (b) calibrated using experimentation.

    We need all of these sources (and we need to be skeptical of the results of any one source by itself) to get any meaningful handle on how the world works. But I ask you when you have most sources agreeing that climate change is real, that it is man made and that CO2 emissions are the culprit, can you see how quibbling around the edges tires people out when there are more important issues to consider, like how we might adapt and mitigate some of the effects of climate change?

    And spare me the patronising lectures on the difference between science and pseudoscience please.

    The reason that I included the links/lecture was because (a) you keep misunderstanding what makes good science, and thus could do with the lesson it seems, and (b) you seem to be shocked that when you behave like a crank, people assume you are one.

    Regarding Watts, he regularly makes claims which have been shown again and again to be false, yet not only does he refuse to retract them, he keeps spouting them around the place. Its also fairly safe to say that crankiness has a way of spreading, and advising people to be highly skeptical of claims made by a (demonstrated) crank is hardly defamatory.

    Anyway, those links were meant to be lighthearted. They made me laugh when I read them, take them as you will. I don’t post on this site purely for your benefit.

  99. Too right Keithy – its time to call the ignorant on the rubbish they peddle in this debate. The thing is its worse the garnaut says: many of them know what they say is rubbish; but they’re whoring for big carbon.

  100. So you make a bald allegation with no evidence and, when called on it, it’s up to me to help you justify it? Don’t think so, which is why I ignored it the first time you tried it on. It is your responsibility to evidence your own statement, especially when it contains such a serious allegation.

    Wozza, you’re not interested in my allegations. You’re only concerned with trolling your denial of AGW.

    You’re not interested in helping me justify my claim? Guess what? I’m not interested in helping you either, which is why I ignored your request the first time you made it.

  101. Mercurius, if that’s the best you’ve got we’re done.

    ‘fraid so. The best the world of mainstream science has to offer you is The Royal Society, National Academy of Sciences, CSIRO, etc.

    Sorry they’re not good enough for you, Wozza. You must be a first-class mind, considering how inadequate you find the work of all those second-class minds. Can’t help you beyond that.

  102. In the interests of full disclosure, less stellar solar figures on a much cloudier day two: 3.2kw produced, 2kw delivered to grid, 6kw used from grid (this time some day use of grid power). This was an especially big day for usage though, as I work from home yesterday (and a dishwasher load mysteriously went bung and had to be redone).

    Going off some longer term figures I found online, I reckon it’ll pay for itself over 8 years (in terms of our personal costs). We can reasonably expect a 50-55% discount on power bills across the year.

    Ive ben researhcing online, and the other feedback I’ve noted from people with home solar is that the bills you then get are quite difficult to understand (though they ARE significantly lower). It seems the power companies arent 100% across how the feed-in tarrifs work, let alone consumers.

  103. Lefty: Sorry, I might have missed this, but do you have solar hot water too?

    Also, a slightly related question: I was home in New Zealand last wee shopping for houses and noticed that most homes in Wellington have gas-fired hot water heaters – the little Rinnai ones that just heat what you use. Does anyone know (i.e. have personal experience) as to how effective they are at reducing your power bill? Obviously solar hot water isn’t such a goer in NZ as it is here. 🙂

  104. Jess – we dont have solar hot water. we might in the future, but it didnt seem as much a priority, as our hot water system is gas anyway (electric hot water is generally considered the ‘worse’ one).

  105. Good on you Lefty, for being proactive and not wasting time whacking the relentless line up of, as Fran eloquently describes as, putative member(s) of the zombie army of denier tropes.

    Yep best way forward is to put energy where your mouth is and do what can be done on a personal level. So far produced 2900kw/h, nearly averaging 4.5kw/h a day with my humble 1kw system, which will have paid for itself within 6 years (at present kw rates). Solar hot water, with my eye on my wireless electricity consumption meter and nimble fingers on off switches, nearly self-sufficient, except for my 3 phase irrigation pump. I am laughing at the prospect of ghosts like Wozza consuming some of my homespun energy. Hang in there mate, hang in there, the earth may stop rotating for you yet!

    Seriously, as soon as price/performance ratio hits a sweet spot I’ll be expanding. We are on a winner here Lefty, for sure, never mind that friggin dr Magoo, who this post is dedicated to.

  106. Cheers Ootz – nice stats there – especially off a 1kw system. I really like the sense of semi-autonomy from the grid.

    Its small in AU now, but one fact I was very struck with from Germany (where they have full-on gross feed-in tarriffs, and companies rent your roof space to use it etc) is that the price of normal grid power actually WENT DOWN for everyone else, as with 12.5% of power now prvoided from solar, peak demand has dropped appreciably.

  107. Lefty @ Ootz,

    And good on the rest of us for subsidising about 70% of the cost of your feel-good devices.

    I’m not saying you are doing the wrong thing by investing in solar. I agree with the “engagement” benefits that Lefty talks about. But just keep in mind that your “sweet spot” is reliant on heavy and continuing subsidies.

  108. True enough, I&U – although the subsidy we taxpayers provide to fossil fuels in Australia is of course WHOPPINGLY higher at $6-9 billion p.a..

    There is some prospect that technology efficiencies will drop that subsidy ratio for solar, and quite soon. There seems very little prospect of that with the others.

  109. Jess, in Melbourne (where reticulated gas is common) instant hot water services are increasingly common. They are typically far more efficient than storage hot water. You do need to upgrade your pipe from the mains however, from 13mm to 20 or 25 mm.

  110. Lefty E,

    Agreed. But I’m not aware of anybody installing a diesel generator on their roof as a result.

    Garnaut talked about unwinding the FBT relief on company cars, I think. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, mind.

  111. Fran and Jess I think this exchange is reaching its use by date, but a couple of points.

    Fran, if I interpret your somewhat convoluted explanation of why the sensitivity on this blog correctly, your point is that criticisms of specifics in the broad AGW argument should be attacked whether they have merit or not, because their “mere existence” gives ammunition (“ostensible evidence that scientists are divided”) to deniers.

    This is a very dangerous argument, and one that puts you – not the deniers – in the anti-science camp. Science advances by a process of iteration and increment, as particulars are tested and integrated into broader theories. If the increments are beaten to death as they emerge because the believers think their mere existence is a fatal distraction, science stalls. What you are essentially saying is that that doesn’t matter because the detail of the science is and should be subservient to the greater policy objective.

    And Jess you are getting dangerously close to the same fallacy with your “quibble” argument.

    Otherwise there isn’t much you say Jess that I disagree with – with the major exception of your belief that modelling and empirical observation are equal. Yes, of course, modelling is useful, even essential, but empirical observation ALWAYS trumps modelling when they differ. When Keith Trenberth, who is hardly a denier, wrote that it was a travesty that the models couldn’t explain certain observations, I don’t think he was saying that the observations were the travesty and should be tossed out in favour of the model.

    If you think this view shows my misunderstanding of science, all I can say is right back at you. It is a fact. Get back to me perhaps when you have published a paper – as I, or rather my PhD supervisor, once did – which rationalised away only one data point because it “didn’t fit”, and suffered major embarrassment when someone else managed to propose an alternative explanation which accommodated it quite easily by tweaking the assumptions in ways we hadn’t thought of.

    And the unexplained divergence between the models and the real world temperature increase over the past decade (OK,OK, I know it doesn’t prove anything, it is merely edging into the territory of the maybe suggestive) is one of the observation problems you need to deal with.

    The other, practical, problem with increasing use of modelling, at least in climate science, is that it impacts on testing reproducibility of results, which is THE major distinguisher between science and witch-doctory. It needn’t be a problem in principle, but the need to have access to test reproducibility to (unpublished) computer codes/algorithms, and the propensity of the Manns of this world to deny that access, too often makes it so.

    You will have seen, for example, Steve McIntyre’s recent post, when he finally accessed some of the code, on how literally hundreds of years of tree ring data was dropped without explanation from published work because it “didn’t fit”?

    http://climateaudit.org/2011/03/23/13321/

  112. What lefty said re subsidies.

    Yeah I&U there are some benefits of breaking out of the herd mentality and to go early, not denying that. The building contractors and all my neighbors all viewed my enterprise of building a sustainable house with SKEPTICAL eyes. Now they all ring me up and want to know how they go best about in hedging for their energy needs. Had a phone call last month from a neighbour I advised, who just got his first powerbill since his 1,7kw system was installed. He could hardly wait to tell me, that they did not have to pay a cent this time. I recon with the recent escalating energy costs as an indication, you soon don’t need a subsidy to make a household solar system pay for itself on it’s own.

    Agree lefty, the German solar story needs a closer look at. As you may suspect from above, I have an affinity to the European attitude in going early and with a long term view. As I have mentioned before in a previous thread, the Europeans acknowledge readily that mistakes have been made, a price has been paid and most importantly lessons learned. Surely a thread on its own would be warranted to analyse and discuss the German solar experience. It would be refreshing to move forward and focus on tangible things rather than wasting time with whaking trolls, zombies and ghosts. As with whacking toads, it is ineffective and not a pleasant task. I’d rather focus on supporting the integrity of the environment and let Darwin’s theory take its course. My local Quoll got the drift and does an efficient albeit gruesome job (Take note AGW trolls/zombies/ghosts and Dr Magoos).

  113. I&I

    There was reportedly though someone in Germany (where ginormous feedback tariffs are paid for solar, because it such a natural fit – irony alert – with Germany’s climatic conditions) who installed gigantic floodlights run from much cheaper grid power to shine all night on solar panels, and made a motza from selling “solar” power back to the grid at inflated feedback prices.

    Always thought it was an urban myth, but it is amusing to trot out to Greenies occasionally.

  114. Thast right Ootz – in VIC things about teh fed-in tarriff is that the Brumby govt a. made it a net tarriff and b. limited the ‘premium’ tarriff rate (which is twice the standard – standard being actual retail cost of grid power) to stop being offered if it ever hits a total capacity of 100 megawatts across the stae.

    The rationale was to keep the price impacts down on other consumers. Fair enough motivation – as far as it went.

    But in fact, the German model shows that when solar got enough support, it became big enough to DROP grid power prices for everyone else, by substantialy reducing peak demand.

  115. Solar generation update! Ive just received this exciting report from Ms LE, observing live from the field at Keating Towers:

    “Day 3 sunny again – rapidly closing yesterday’s gap between kw in and out. Now back to 10 v 9kw h – estimate back level at 4pm AEST. 10-4”

    As is obvious, we’re a bit obsessed! I guess we’ll get over it. 😛

  116. Lol, Lefty you need a widget that logs the kw production on your iphone.

    Always thought it was an urban myth, but it is amusing to trot out to Greenies occasionally.

    Surely an example of autoerotism and such ineffective use of energy resources to make a relevant point.

    While some are indulgently pleasing themselves, others try to catch up with leading German technology.

  117. Lol, Lefty you need a widget that logs the kw production on your iphone.

    I do. In fact, Id pay $5 for that!! (pretty much iphone app top dollar). No sweat.

  118. POEM *

    When it comes to climate change
    Or the lack of it
    I have a better sign for Rabbit’s rabble
    than ‘witch or ‘bitch’
    Since they all know Henry Kendall.

    “The bell-birds are dying.’

  119. Lefty, production is half the story. You need an other widget to tell you what your consumption is, preferably with an alarm to alert you on unusual high consumption patterns.

    Seriously, immediate feedback is an acknowledged and extremely effective behaviour change method in energy consumption. IIRC it was first effectively used in the power shortages, due to underestimating demand growth, on the USA West Coast in the 70s. But if you a Dr Magoo follower it is all hocus-pocus and a detraction from ‘Go for Growth’.

  120. Wozza said:

    Fran, if I interpret your somewhat convoluted explanation of why the sensitivity on this blog correctly, your point is that criticisms of specifics in the broad AGW argument should be attacked whether they have merit or not, because their “mere existence” gives ammunition (“ostensible evidence that scientists are divided”) to deniers.

    You don’t “interpret” it correctly. You left out salient portions, that would have rendered your objection silly.

    To repeat, here is what I said:

    The “sensitivity” is not to the substance of the “challenges”, which have to date been without scientific merit. We understand that each new “challenge” is a putative member of the zombie army of denier tropes, the mere existence of which can be cited as ostensible “evidence” that scientists are “divided” on the question of climate change.

    You read this but continued as follows:

    This is a very dangerous argument, and one that puts you – not the deniers – in the anti-science camp. Science advances by a process of iteration and increment, as particulars are tested and integrated into broader theories. If the increments are beaten to death as they emerge because the believers think their mere existence is a fatal distraction, science stalls. What you are essentially saying is that that doesn’t matter because the detail of the science is and should be subservient to the greater policy objective.

    To the best of my knowledge, nobody here suggests that legitimate evidence or theory based objections ought to be slapped down merely because they might raise a doubt about some aspect of the science, or might contribute to the idea that scientists are divided on some relevant point. What irks us is the reiteration of long debunked talking points — the zombie army of denier tropes — because we know that there is a difference in quality between the appreciation of the non-scientifically literate or engaged public and those who are competent scientists or greatly engaged in this issue. We resent this blog or any other place being used to circulate the kind of misinformation likely to subvert good public policy.

    While we are on this matter … you said above:

    There was reportedly though someone in Germany (where ginormous feedback tariffs are paid for solar, because it such a natural fit – irony alert – with Germany’s climatic conditions) who installed gigantic floodlights run from much cheaper grid power to shine all night on solar panels, and made a motza from selling “solar” power back to the grid at inflated feedback prices. Always thought it was an urban myth, but it is amusing to trot out to Greenies occasionally.

    It sounded like an urban myth to me as well, so I tried to trace your claim. Not only have I found no evidence for it at all, I haven’t even founnd someone claiming it occurred. The closest I got was someone claiming that on Monbiot’s blog about the unreasonableness of FiT for German PV that someone might rort the system by tapping into grid power and selling it back to the grid as if it were solar PV.

    I hesitate to accuse you of trying to spread disinformation, or making claims, while being recklessly indifferent to their provenance, but the above passage from you is troubling. Can you really be “trotting out” such unfounded claims to Greens for your own amusement? If so, can you really not understand the impulse above to strike down the zombie army of denier tropes?

  121. therwise there isn’t much you say Jess that I disagree with – with the major exception of your belief that modelling and empirical observation are equal. Yes, of course, modelling is useful, even essential, but empirical observation ALWAYS trumps modelling when they differ.

    That simply isn’t true. Empirical observations are just as capable of being flawed, badly understood or inadequately precise as computer models are.

    The example you gave – Trenberth’s travesty – is exactly one such example. The problem is that the empirical observations in this particular area just aren’t good enough. The model might well be perfectly fine.

    Of course *accurate* empirical observations always trump – but when there is a conflict how do we ever know if the observations are accurate? The history of science is littered with examples of scientists clinging to a theoretical model despite seemingly contrary observations – that were later shown to be flawed.

  122. Wozza @124:

    as I, or rather my PhD supervisor, once did – which rationalised away only one data point because it “didn’t fit”, and suffered major embarrassment when someone else managed to propose an alternative explanation which accommodated it quite easily by tweaking the assumptions in ways we hadn’t thought of.

    At long last, we learn the basis of Wozza’s jaundiced view of modelling in the sciences. Because someone he once worked with in a completely unrelated field, on a completely different suubject, once had a major f***up with it.

    GraemeM @24

    There are no shortage of prior examples where the science of the day was later shown to be wrong…

    Funny how the qualified scientist (Wozza) and the lay-“skeptic” (GraemeM) come round to meet each other, exactly 100 comments apart, but with exactly the same (mis)application of inferential reasoning.

    Wozza, for all your credentials and all your hands-on scientific experience, you’re in exactly the same camp as GraemeM when it comes to AGW — you’re going on gut-feel — in this case, because of a bad experience that somebody you’ve worked with closely once had.

    If that’s the foundation of your skepticism, then your skepticism on this topic is as unscientific as that of GraemeM.

    Jess has previously pointed out (and you have chosen to ignore and ridicule her insights), that what is letting you down here is not the richness of your understanding of chemical science, but the poverty of your philosophy of science.

  123. Lefty, Minchin is a relic from that go for growth period and from memory, he too was Minister against Science and for digging holes in that inglorious time when R&D in Ostraya coped a flogging. He reminds me of Mr Magoo, shortsighted and stubbornly refusing to accept the problem while soothingly comfortable to the Hardly Normal crowd, screeming “Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!” during the commercial breaks!

    Fran, maybe you can buy patches at the chemist to help you overcome those impulses.

  124. Fran I’m sorry for not quoting every word of your vital pearls of wisdom, but frankly the full version doesn’t seem to make much difference to the meaning, which as you now re-explain it looks pretty much the way I understood it. If anything, by bolding “challenges to date have been without scientific merit” you make matters worse for yourself. Nothing, however minor, has been queried in climate science and found wrong? My, what an extraordinarily clever bunch those climate scientists must be.

    You are clearly no scientist. Science is a constant and iterative process of challenging, finding errors and adjusting.

    As for my spreading disinformation about rorts in Germany, I’m afraid I don’t keep records of where I find minor bits of amusement. However 30 seconds of googling provides at least this, which makes it fairly clear that, at least in this form, it was probably an urban myth.

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/3/8/the-insanity-of-greenery.html

    Myth or not, the reason I like to bring it up as a talking point sometimes is that it illustrates through providing a laughably extreme example something that statists just don’t seem able to get their heads around – the more subsidies, regulations, ETS’s and their markets in weird and wonderful derivatives, that aren’t really taxes, and general Government interference you introduce in any field, the greater the opportunities and incentives for people to try to find and exploit loopholes for profit. It is human nature that some will try, and some will succeed.

    Moreover I have yet to find a Green with whom I have raised this particular potential rort who can do the energy in, energy out refutation, or even suggest that this is the key issue. For vehement proponents of feed-in tariffs, they don’t seem to know a lot about them.

  125. the more subsidies, regulations, ETS’s and their markets in weird and wonderful derivatives, that aren’t really taxes, and general Government interference you introduce in any field, the greater the opportunities and incentives for people to try to find and exploit loopholes for profit

    so the free market is the hardest to profit from?

  126. WG

    the more subsidies, regulations, ETS’s and their markets in weird and wonderful derivatives, that aren’t really taxes, and general Government interference you introduce in any field, the greater the opportunities and incentives for people to try to find and exploit loopholes for profit

    Badly designed bridges fall down and badly designed government schemes can be rorted. But that is no more an argument for not introducing well-designed schemes than it is an argument for not building bridges.

    Having said that, the solar PV feed-in tariff is a badly designed subsidy. It doesn’t even have to be rorted to allow inefficient behaviour. It encourages it!

    And setting up such a scheme in cloudy, cold Germany just adds to the absurdity. Better for the German government to use some of those taxpayer Euros to stop the main power generators burning mud (lignite).

  127. I&I

    Completely agree (that the potential to rort poorly designed schemes is no reason not to introduce well designed schemes). Two points though.

    One, it isn’t just “good” design, in the sense of theoretically efficient if everyone plays by the rules, that is the issue. It is simple design – not providing enough complexity and unseen loopholes to incentivise gaming of it.

    Often the same thing as “good” of course but not always. The plaintive cries from around here as the pink batts scheme collapsed in a welter of bodies, incineration, and wasted millions – it were the private sector wot done it, Garrett and Rudd were blameless, the scheme was terrific if no fly-by-nights had tried to rort it – perfectly missed that point. If there had not been incentives to rort in the scheme – bad design, ignoring the real world – it wouldn’t have happened.

    Two, are you confident that current proposals on carbon pricing meet the good design criterion? You are taking it on trust if you do, given that nothing is known about the detail of the initial tax, let alone what it morphs into by way of a “market” price a few years after that.

  128. Martin B @135: “Of course *accurate* empirical observations always trump [computer models]”

    Exactly, and this is all I have been trying to say. Of course it is an all other things being equal point. Empirical observations can be wrong – as can programming of computer models. This where reproducibility comes in, and why refusing to provide code is so reprehensible (at least from the point of view of good science; one can see systemic incentives for individuals to be recalcitrant).

    Now – well, probably not right now; this thread has gone on long enough – it only remains for you to give a considered view on what this means for interpreting the significance of the increasingly long period of time for which modelling has departed by considerable margins from temperature observations.

    Oh, and a word to the wise. You should probably ease up round here on implications that there may be errors in the temperature observations. That is the sort of accusation the scurvy denialists make, and you wouldn’t want to be inadvertently tarred with that brush.

  129. WG @141,

    I am taking nothing on trust. The devil is in the detail and we have seen no detail yet. There is plenty of opportunity yet to stuff it up.

    But I think that, with Garnaut and Combet involved, it is in good hands.

    We shall see.

  130. I&U @140: I agree. Like many subsidy schemes there was no competitive mechanism to drive down the subsidy. It would have made more sense to have used some form of competitive tendering to minimize the subsidy/kWh.
    It may also have helped if businesses or co-operatives had been encouraged to be part of this process by leasing roof space for solar PV installation. May have reduced costs per kWh and and made it easier to improve power management as well as creating income opportunities for home owners who could not afford to install panels.

  131. Of course it is an all other things being equal point. Empirical observations can be wrong – as can programming of computer models.

    Which points to their equivalence in real terms, rather than the your earlier statement.

    what this means for interpreting the significance of the increasingly long period of time for which modelling has departed by considerable margins from temperature observations.

    Since observed temperatures continue to track model outputs well, within the uncertanties for both, I have no idea what you mean.

    You should probably ease up round here on implications that there may be errors in the temperature observations.

    All observations contain errors and it’s unscientific to think otherwise. More productive is the comparison of how errors scale when, for example, you have a data set from a widely spatially distributed group of independent instruments compared with, also for example, a data set from a small number of satellites subject to systematic errors.

  132. Sorry. Bad tagging. Admin, help?

    {have closed all your open XHTML tags – no biscuit for you! ~tt}

  133. Greg Barker the UK climate change minister UK can learn from Germany’s feed-in tariff lessons.

    “There’s no denying that Germany has been a real pioneer in building a competitive low-carbon economy. Its renewables industry supports 340,000 jobs and replaces €5bn (£4.3bn) worth of energy imports per annum.”

    “I am heading to Germany today for two reasons. The first is to hear from this renewables powerhouse the lessons it has learned from its well-established feed-in tariffs (Fit) scheme in order for the system we inherited to work better for industry, households, small businesses and communities.”

    “The second is to share the blueprint for our “green deal” – the biggest ever shake-up in home energy efficiency the UK will have ever seen.

    The Fit scheme rewards people financially to generate and export electricity they produce from renewable sources like solar panels and wind turbines and is here to stay in the UK, but we can certainly improve the scheme the coalition inherited from the last government. Because the scheme has been running longer in Germany, they’ve already learned some important lessons which we want to hear about.”

    Keep in mind this is a Minister of a conservative coalition Government, not of Venuzuela or Chad, but of Her Majesty our Queen, so hardly a barefooted, tree hugging and Walden reading friggin Greenie.

    Meanwhile here in in Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi politic land we are still discussing THE SCIENCE as pontificated by technological, ecological, economical and social fossils, such as Nick Minchin with selfgratificating twits like Ghost Who Stalks.

    Are we still stuck with Donald Horne’s predicament? Somebody reassure me, please!

  134. Not attempting to derail, more to highlight the superfluity of endlessly discussing “the science”. Hereis an other credible assessment of Germany’s leading role in the energy market.

    Anyone who has worked in or even lead an organisation or business through some major changes knows that you can’t wait until all the dots are joined. Inevitably mistakes will be made, however these have to be weighted up against the risk of being left behind.

    I am not arguing we should follow Germany’s lead. But we could do worse than to learn from their lead, as indeed the UK endeavors to do.

  135. I don’t follow the various debunkings in enough detail to know the story about Christy’s data, so therefore I have concentrated on other issues in this thread.

    There is absolutely no evidence that Christy falsified any data. Silkworm is totally wrong about this.

    Rather, Christy and Spencer have over the years published a data set of various atmospheric temperature trends. Initially, these implied that the models were wrong about the atmospheric temperature trends. This used to be a big skeptic talking point (and perhaps the last intellectually honest that they had). However, other researchers have uncovered a number of faults with the Christy/Spencer work (such as not accounting for satellite drift and mixing up operators). Accounting for these corrections and extra data, the Christy/Spencer datasets and models broadly match. It isn’t uncommon for “skeptics” to use the older datasets when they make a comparison.

    Personally, I’m pretty relaxed with Christy errors – I expect good science to be a leap into the unknown, not an exercise in perfection. Perhaps a case could be made that he suffers from selective blindness (his errors have been biased heavily towards cooling the atmosphere) but this requires more supposition that I am happy with.

    Christy is probably the most intellectually honest global warming skeptic. Pity the bar is pretty low.

  136. When Keith Trenberth, who is hardly a denier, wrote that it was a travesty that the models couldn’t explain certain observations, I don’t think he was saying that the observations were the travesty and should be tossed out in favour of the model.

    This is complete misunderstanding of Trenberth’s infamous email. It is however, a good reason, why one should never trust the memes that float round the AGW skeptic community.

    Trenberth’s travesty is about a lack of high quality observations on some features of the earth’s climate system (such as deep sea temperature trends). Linking it to model-observations correlations is simply jamming a quote where it doesn’t belong.

  137. Linking it to model-observations correlations is simply jamming a quote where it doesn’t belong.

    As I remarked, it is very nearly the exact opposite of what WG suggested. It is a case where in all probability the current best modelling is of higher quality than the current best observations.

  138. Meanwhile here in in Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi politic land we are still discussing THE SCIENCE as pontificated by technological, ecological, economical and social fossils, such as Nick Minchin with selfgratificating twits like Ghost Who Stalks.

    Exactly.
    It’s the definition of futility, yet people keep on doing it. Ignore these idiots and starve them of oxygen.

  139. Ootz @147,

    you are falling for the UK Tory government’s spin and also spinning it yourself by quoting selectively. Here is another quote from the UK Climate Change Minister from the Guardian article you link to:

    I am particularly interested in how hearing from the Environment Ministry how Germans are adjusting Fits to cope with the rapidly falling costs of solar technology.

    Taking a pro-active approach to changing tariffs will allow us to avoid the boom-and-bust approach we have seen in other countries.

    Which really means this:

    The [UK]government has unveiled plans to slash by almost 75% financial incentives for larger solar power schemes on the grounds the feed-in tariff (Fit) was in danger of being hijacked by City speculators.

    The problems with fixed and excessive FiTs – as seen in Australia – are exactly as Wozza and John D noted above. The UK government is learning from Germany’s mistakes as well as its successes.

  140. Believe it or not, Ken Miles at 150, I have actually read the full Trenberth e-mail. Perhaps you haven’t. The text is here.

    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/kevin-trenberths-real-travesty/

    If he was linking the remark to anything it was to local weather in Boulder Colorado, which I agree is pretty silly but that isn’t the point. That is that deep sea temperatures, a la your allegation, figure nowhere.

    I plead guilty to quote-mining. It is too good a quote when it is relevant – which it was and is – not to fall into that temptation occasionally.

    You on the other hand don’t even have that excuse. You are plain making shit up.

    And what he might have said in the frenzy of back-pedalling and excuse-making after the e-mail became public, can I think be dismissed for what it is.

  141. I&U

    I had something to do on the periphery of the formulation of the FiT in SA.

    It went through in the full knowledge that there were two possibilities. If it actually worked to encourage any significant move to solar, it would immediately collapse under its own weight – unaffordable subsidies and/or unacceptable increases in electricity prices as companies passed on to consumers in general large increases in costs from the feed in prices they were forced to pay for solar.

    Or it wouldn’t actually lead to much take up of solar at all, because even with feed in tariffs the economics of solar is so terrible.

    They were implicitly betting on the second – the only really important thing in the decision was the gesture politics.

  142. You know, this debate has been illuminating. My original comment was not aimed why I do or do not ‘believe’ AGW. I was simply observing the automatic labelling of people who disagree with the science of AGW, as though that science is so robust, well proven and complete that we might as well close up climate science right now and move on to something much harder. Sadly, it’s something I also observe on the denialist blogs. On the whole though, it’s the pro-AGW blogs that seem to offer the greatest level of invective and insult. I think Wozza’s right in suggetsing tribalism.

    What is equally interesting has been the observation that the invective occurs between peers. Regardless of the level of qualification, the arguments between anyone who might question the accepted tenets of AGW (or I guess more broadly climate science) and those who don’t is quite bizarre.

    I’m no scientist and have no familiarity with working inthe field but I’d have thought that someone questioning a mainstream view who has a good argument to offer would be welcomed with open arms and their views subjected to decent qualitative anaysis.

    A couple of recent and topical examples. A fellow by the name of Nasif Nahle made an argument against the radiative properties of CO2 (or more exactly the degree of that property) on the Science of Doom site. Now I can’t judge his abilities but he is a qualified scientist and appears to grasp physics quite well, yet he was howled down especially by a commenter named Mark who literally foamed at the mouth so desperate was he to prove this guy Nahle wrong.

    On Judith Curry’s site I see there is a theory being advanced about the effect of forestation on wind and rainfall patterns which essentially argues a biotic effect in climate systems that has not been included in current models. Gavin Schmidt’s dismissal is to the effect that if current theories and models explain things well enough, why then should we need to consider this? Why indeed?

    I’m sorry, but I think closed mindedness becomes no-one.

  143. Graeme, there is a tendency to the smart one-liner which I think may be accentuated by habits from Facebook and twitter. I prefer deliberative comments.

    But I agree with Fran, I think, that there is a lot of legitimate frustration with already debunked denialist tropes being trotted out repeatedly.

    The Curry/Schmidt thing is interesting. Schmidt is a modeller and is pretty sure-footed in general, but no-one is perfect. On the face of it, half the rain in the Amazon is said to stem from transpiration, so if that’s not in the models it should be. One would have to look at the issue in detail, of course.

  144. “The UK government is learning from Germany’s mistakes as well as its successes.”

    Totally agree I&U, learning does cut both ways. In fact science kind of works that way, the testing of hypotheses afford us with insights and reliable knowledge. It would be naive to assume that major social, economic, and technological changes would not bring with it unexpected consequences including human opportunistic ingenuity. It was not possible to quote the whole article in its entirety nor did I deliberately exclude that section and I did explicitly advocate not to follow the German lead.

    To put it another way, I am fully aware and do advise others, that the feed in tariff is not set in concrete. There is a high possibility for diminished financial returns of the PV unit on my roof through out its life time. However, this is a calculated risk I take as it offers me, as leftyE puts it, semi-autonomous energy. As well as for a small investment, equiv. to the cost of a large aircon unit (+ subsidy), I get the hands on experience with new technology that is going to wide spread in future just as airconditioners are now. This is invaluable experience, because I am happy to report to yous all. 1. make sure that your panels are easely accessible on the roof as they need regular removal of dust etc. for peak performance 2. For the same reason mount panels as close as possible to optimal pitch and direction, even if you have to invest (with cost in relation to power gain) into additional support brackets. 4. wireless transmission of kw production information from inverter to monitor possible losses and log production patterns. 5. As with most Electronic gadgetry, as soon as they are out of the box, they are already outdated, so make sure comparable components will be available in future to replace or add to parts of the unit. With this information I feel confident to expand in future with or without subsidy, for I rather have me roof tiled with PV panels then a 8cyl chrome and steel wonder in my garage or a home entertainment room full of Hardly Normal crap.

  145. Graeme: you say:

    someone questioning a mainstream view who has a good argument to offer would be welcomed with open arms…

    (emphasis mine). This is exactly the problem. If you have a good argument to offer it will be considered. In fact, why not try to get it published? The scientific community would indeed welcome such good arguments with open arms.

    However don’t think that people are just dismissing an argument out of hand though.

    If all you have are denialist tropes which have already been hashed and rehashed, here and elsewhere (Wozza’s ‘the models are crap’ being one of these), then you will get short shrift from people who have probably already considered these arguments and found them wanting. Additionally, people proposing such arguments often say things that suggest that they don’t fully understand what they’re arguing about (which is essentially what Martin and Ken’s good responses to Wozza’s claims about the values of observation vs modeling at 150 and 151 are about). If you have to respond to the same argument 10 times in a row things get rather tiring after a while.

    So it might not be closed mindedness, maybe the argument is just crap.

    With regard Gavin Schmidt’s dismissal of the biotic feedback, could you provide some links to the relevant pages? I’d like to see what he says about it, but I suspect his argument might run along the lines of “why not concentrate on first-order* physics in our climate models before considering second-order effects that might not be so important?” If your biotic feedback is going to get lost in the noise from your physical model, then why bother? This is really just good time management. Anyway, I hadn’t seen that discussion but I’d be interested in some links.

    *Usually when we study a complex system, we have a good idea of what are likely to be first order drivers of the system dynamics, even if we don’t know their exact magnitude.

  146. Wozza @ 154, Trenberth’s email is as I remember it. There has been a fair bit in the literature since then, and some of it by Trenberth, which goes to understanding why we have had extreme cold at low latitudes in the NH with at the same time excessively warm temperatures at higher latitudes.

    As to deep sea temperatures, I don’t know, but this may well be part of Trenberth’s thinking in understanding the ENSO and PDO patterns. Tis true, I think, that deep sea temperatures are not well measured, and that would concern him.

    You are very quick on the draw with a tendentious slur rather than a relaxed exploration of the issues. Nope you are not alone, but you are the one you can control.

  147. But Jess the point I am making is that there does appear, to someone outside the industry so to speak, a weighting towards the mainstream view. The imperative to publish seems to underlie everything.

    Now sure, the interwebs are a great source of misinformation, but it is also a hitherto untappable source of review (both peer and non-peer) that is possible in a remarkably egalitarian form.

    I’m saying that such a form of discourse should be a welcome addition to the rigidly controlled (and perhaps subtly biased) mechanism of peer review.

    In addition, most of these blogs, and especially the Curry one, but also many of the others, provide an opportunity for people across many different specialities, as well as the pig ignorant such as me, to both learn and contribute.

    Now, the fact that many of those blogs are vehemently opposed to conflicting viewpoints worries me.

    And a similar thing appears here. By all means shoot down the message. But why the messenger as well? many of the commenters I’ve observed at the ‘denialist’ blogs are accredited scientists and engineers with what appear to be quite sound and successful backgrounds.

    But even if they haven’t, are you so sure of your ‘rightness’ that you can blithely dismiss such people as denialists who haven’t a clue?

    I’ve read enough now to know the science most definitely is NOT settled. Certainly the fundamental concepts are clear, but the detail and effect appear rather less so.

    But worse is the broader implications of encouraging people to believe that climate is inherently benign and stable and that anything different is both new and of anthropogenic origin. Like it or not, that’s the message infiltrating the community. And that, I am afraid, is simply a lie.

  148. And while we are discussing labelling people, I’ll make this observation. Those of a seriously green left persuasion are invariably catastrophists of the first order. They always expect everything to go belly up at any momenbt and are happiest when they are wringing their hands. And AGW is the best opportunity for hand wringing in a long time. Just look at poor old CJ Morgan above.

  149. Graeme M @163,

    The really annoying thing I find about the “catastrophists” is that a lot of the time they turn out to be right, at least in part.

    Fukushima is just the most recent sorry example.

  150. Day 3 solar report (ill probably leave off here): thus far we’ve generated 89% of all our electricty use –

    viz, generated 16kw hours, and taken a net +2kw hours in from the grid (13.7kw in, 11.7 out).

  151. Perhaps a case could be made that he suffers from selective blindness (his errors have been biased heavily towards cooling the atmosphere) but this requires more supposition than I am happy with. Christy is probably the most intellectually honest global warming skeptic. Pity the bar is pretty low.

    Thanks Ken – I value your input. However, I cannot agree with your character assessment of Christy. It is contradicted by Joseph Romm of climateprogress.org, who wrote:

    I debated Christy years ago so I know he tries to peddle unscientific nonsense when he thinks he can get away with it.

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/05/22/should-you-believe-anything-john-christy-or-roy-spencer-say/

    Romm quoted from RealClimate on how Spencer and Christy screwed up their temperature data:

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis…

    Romm then made the following leading statement:

    Amazingly (or not), the “serial errors in the data analysis” all pushed the (mis)analysis in the same, wrong direction. Coincidence? You decide.

    Well, I have decided.

  152. Graeme M. Thanks for the link. What the author of that post has described is precisely the hoops that we all (conspiracy theories aside) have to jump through to get published.

    What is interesting are Judith Curry’s own comments on the paper, specifically:

    While I think that the mechanism described by M10 is correct and real, the issue is its significance in the atmosphere. It is not clear to what extent this mechanism “matters;” their thermodynamic analysis is insufficient to demonstrate the relative magnitude of this effect.

    Her argument about using governing equations and scaling analysis is similar to the one which I posted at 159. Based on these comments and my own reading of what is in the paper, I think that Schmidt’s argument is not that “the models do ok without it” but that “incorporating this new stuff would make the models much more complex without any payoff in terms of model accuracy”.

    Again, this isn’t necessarily saying that there isn’t an effect, just that we might be better off (in a time sense) trying to incorporate some more important physics in our models before trying to address this particular one. Basically the authors need to show not only that (a) there is a process missing but also that (b) leaving that process out of a model will lead to large errors.

    Also, going back to your comments at 162:

    I’m saying that such a form of discourse should be a welcome addition to the rigidly controlled (and perhaps subtly biased) mechanism of peer review.

    I’m not sure that this is an either/or proposition, and I think this form of discourse is already used more widely than perhaps you might think. The problem is not that the intertubes aren’t a great way of ‘crowd-sourcing’ ideas, but that at the end of the day the world still revolves around authority (for want of a better word). Peer review leverages that authority.

    So I think while augmenting research at a preliminary stage with collaborators on the internet is a great idea (and many researchers do this already), at the end of the day we want some kind of ‘ideas analysis’ from an expert, i.e. someone who has thought about these sorts of problems deeply and may see errors normal joes like you or I don’t.

    are you so sure of your ‘rightness’ that you can blithely dismiss such people as denialists who haven’t a clue?

    I’m not so sure of my ‘rightness’ at all. That’s why I submit my work for peer review, even in my own field. That’s really the whole point. I will blithely dismiss anyone who says that peer review is in some way crap without proposing another alternative. Anyone can be a critic, but in science you have to propose alternatives to the theory that you’re debunking.

  153. Er, I think I just got “labelled” @ #163 as a seriously green left catastrophist who’s happiest when I’m wringing my hands.

    I note that Graeme doesn’t address any of the points I made about the culturally-induced ignorance with which he is apparently afflicted. No wonder some people are irritated by him.

    FYI Graeme, I’m a mostly green, left-leaning small businessman who’s happiest when I’m fishing 😛

  154. PS Graeme:

    Certainly the fundamental concepts are clear, but the detail and effect appear rather less so.

    Be very careful about what you assign as a fundamental concept vs the detail and effect. The fundamental concepts here are that increased CO2 in the atmosphere leads to increased temperatures (look up the work of Arrhenius, and to see that CO2 absorbs light, just take a look at one of the adsorption spectra fro the atmosphere), and that increased temperatures will make this planet more hostile for life on land. Similarly increased CO2 in the oceans (which has been measured) will make the oceans more acidic (basic high-school chemistry), affecting the entire oceanic food chain, and ultimately us.

    If you agree with these concepts, none of which require huge amounts of scientific understanding (and once again, they are fundamental, and have been accepted for over a century), then you can surely see that most of the rest of the ‘debate’ here is just quibbling. The real questions (and the ones you should be worried about as a non-scientist but interested and engaged member of the public) is what we should do about this.

  155. By the way, for those claiming that models are not available in the open, most of the models that researchers in my group use are publicly available from the GFDL webpage: http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/ocean-model.

    You might need a supercomputer to run them, but then I suppose if that makes the science unrepeatable then we could level the same accusation at people running the LHC.

    I’ll admit that scientists could do better at releasing their code, but that’s not to say that all code is crap (a la Wozza), and most research groups are making huge efforts to make things more available to everyone.

  156. But worse is the broader implications of encouraging people to believe that climate is inherently benign and stable and that anything different is both new and of anthropogenic origin.

    Who has been doing this? What serious scientist has ever suggested the climate is “inherently benign and stable”? Certainly nobody who ever heard of the Ice Age could believe such nonsense.

    Anybody educated in an Australian school any time in the last 40-50 years would or should have been made aware of the immense variability of climate over millions of years, and the rather extravagently lethal conditions that the Earth is capable of throwing up through climatic variability.

    In my experience, the myth of an “inherently benign and stable” climate is found most commonly among people who underwent a lot of religious indoctrination as children. Certainly I haven’t encountered anybody with even a high-school science education who was taught, or believes, the climate to be “inherently bengign and stable”.

    The only people I have ever met for whom it seems to be news that the climate in fact changes all the time, and always has (and therefore, they conclude, AGW must be a “myth”), are, I’ll be blunt, “of a certain age” that puts their high-school education back in the WWII and prior periods, and in the Catholic system…

    Like it or not, that’s the message infiltrating the community. And that, I am afraid, is simply a lie.

    Like it or not, Graeme, you are making tendentious statements and imputing that these troublesome ‘lies’ and ‘myths’ are being put about by proponents of AGW, when in fact a lot of those ‘lies’ and ‘myths’ actually pre-date the AGW hypothesis. And that, I am afraid, is simply a lie.

    And while we are discussing labelling people, I’ll make this observation do some labelling of my own. Those of a seriously green left persuasion are invariably catastrophists of the first order.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Graeme, you have made much on this thread, in labourious fashion, of your impressive commitment to open-mindedness. So much so, that I have to ask, what are your limits? How shoddy, how flimsy, how fly-by-night and how downright mistaken does a given paper or piece of information have to be, before you will deign to sully your vaunted impartiality by declaring a piece of information, in the final analysis, to be garbage and not worth your time?

    Because, by god, the number of websites these days far exceeds the available number of truths and facts. You’d be well-advised to cut down your daily intake…

  157. Ah but CJ, by your own admission you are a green lefty. And your very presence here demonstrates that. So believe me, you do like to wring your hands. perhaps in the privacy of your own home, but wring them you most certainly do.

    I&U, what does Fukushima demonstrate? It’s old technology that suffered from inadequate management. I would hazard a guess that’s a pretty much standard problem with a lot of our modern world. But if we gave up on everything because of that likelihood, where would we be? Or do we take from this that the risk if there IS a disaster is too high?

    Jess, as an interested layperson, I find the argument more compelling in a learning sense than the actual problem. Again, this says nothing about my views, mind.

    I accept that CO2 absorbs certain wavelengths and reradiates. And I’ve learned a lot (but all of which qualifies as a smidgeon) about climate science and physics. What I think seems not so certain is the extent of the forcings and whether they are indeed as high as the IPCC claims. I am probably willing to entertain some doubt as to the actual degree of warming per doubling of CO2. And I absolutely doubt that the model we’ve built (I don’t mean GCMs there) is so complete that there isn’t room for some further wrinkles to be found.

    I am also unconvinced that the biosphere does not react in such a way as to redress the balance. A typical green fancy is that the universe is a perpetually balanced but highly sensitive little petal that the slightest wrong move will send into catastrophic cataclysm. Hence the endless hand wringing.

    And I am old enough to have watched any number of doom scenarios fail to play out, eh I&U?

  158. heh Mercurious, you are starting to splutter. You must really be green, huh?

    I don’t recall saying that scientists suggest the climate is benign and stable. That’s an unfortunate side effect of the generalisation that the whole AGW hypothesis suffers in distributing it to the masses. But there aren’t too many climate scientists rushing to alter that perception.

    Especially not the Romms and Hansens of this world (Gaia indeed!)

    My point was that a great many uneducated people, and the majority of children, are starting to think so. I gave an example earlier of the comment from a kid who has a column in our local rag. She actually suggested that earthquakes and tsunamis are increasing in frequency and this is due to AGW.

    Oh my.

  159. Graeme: Regarding climate sensitivity,

    What I think seems not so certain is the extent of the forcings and whether they are indeed as high as the IPCC claims

    the IPCC has more than one scenario which it uses as a model, i.e. they start with a range of sensitivities and look at what happens. Which one are you referring to?

    And once again, we can be fairly sure of the extent of the forcings without recourse to modeling (using things like dimensional analysis etc – which is why many people were dismissing the paper you linked to above). We just aren’t quite sure how this increased forcing is going to play out – but that said, it’s not a case of if, but when.

    I’m going to point you to an interesting paper which discusses climate sensitivity in climate models. The pertinent quote here is:

    …many vastly improved models have been developed by a number of climate research centers around the world. Current state-of-the-art climate models span a range of 2.6–4.1°C, most clustering around 3°C.

    (that’s the temperature rise for a doubling of CO2). I’ll note that the total range is anywhere between 0.5 to 10°C, although we can all accept the outliers are unlikely to be correct.

    I’ll also note that we are trending at the upper end of most of the IPCCs predictions for all their sensitivity assumptions, which suggests that if anything, the IPCC is being conservative.

    …the universe is … perpetually balanced but highly sensitive…

    Your premise is correct here, if not your conclusion. The planet, like any other complex system exists in a dynamic balance all the time. The real question is whether we will be happy where the balance ends up once we give it an almighty kick.

  160. Graeme M,

    So:

    But worse is the broader implications of encouraging people to believe that climate is inherently benign and stable…That, I am afraid, is simply a lie.

    and:

    I am also unconvinced that the biosphere does not react in such a way as to redress the balance. A typical green fancy is that the universe is a perpetually balanced but highly sensitive little petal that the slightest wrong move will send into catastrophic cataclysm.

    You’re all over the place mate.

  161. My point was that a great many uneducated people, and the majority of children, are starting to think so. I gave an example earlier of the comment from a kid who has a column in our local rag. She actually suggested that earthquakes and tsunamis are increasing in frequency and this is due to AGW.

    That is your evidence for an incredibly bold claim? A letter in your local paper? Geez Graeme, no wonder you have difficulty sifting through the volume of crap information out there. You seem to have no filters at all.

    I don’t recall saying that scientists suggest the climate is benign and stable. That’s an unfortunate side effect of the generalisation that the whole AGW hypothesis suffers in distributing it to the masses.

    Your evidence…oh wait? You already provided it. A primary-school girl wrote a letter to your paper. Well, that settles it, then.

    But there aren’t too many climate scientists rushing to alter that perception.

    That would be because perception-management is not their job. Their job is to investigate scientific questions. Has it ever occured to you that sometimes if people hold mistaken views or misperceptions, then it is their mistake and their problem?

    Graeme, I have long since lost the patience or inclination to follow your meanderings. Your commitment to relativism and agnotology is so intense that I can find no way to penetrate the fog of confusion from which your quibbles and concerns and ifs and buts and maybes materialise.

    If you choose to see the forgoing as evidence that I am “spluttering” on acount of being too “Green”, I’m comfortable for your misperceptions to remain in place. You seem to revel in them.

  162. No worries Mercurius. Bold eh? Nice…

    I&U, my point is simply that in the course of daily conversation, and in reading newspapers, and watching the telly in between episodes of Two and a Half Men, I observe an increasing tendency for people to view climate related events as though they’ve never happened before. Or that their severity is somehow far worse. Or that unrelated events are also caused by AGW. The example I gave is one only, I am sure I can dig up some more but what would be the point? And yes, I am guilty of sloppy wording. I meant a majority of children in my acquaintance.

    Anyways, all that is somewhat beside the point which as I’ve indicated is more about the willingness for pro AGW individuals to tar the less fortunate with a fairly broad brush.

    Jess, as I wandered off to enjoy a coffee at the cafe next door I was idly ruminating on my words, and of course I realised that I’d be even more sloppy than you can imagine. I meant that I am somewhat unconvinced regarding the extent of the feedbacks rather than the forcings, principally the role of water vapour in the column.

    But look, that’s again irrelevant. I can read and even follow some of the detail, and of course there’s lots more to read yet. And fundamentally, as a non-scientist cursed with a below par mind as my good friends above have in their hand wringing ways pointed out, I can’t hope to become intimate with the science. But it is nonetheless an enjoyable sidetrack from the everyday.

    Not convinced though.

  163. Thank you Brian and Jess for your effort to put some dignity into science in this discussion. However, me thinks any thread with the word Minchin and science in the same sentence is doomed. Now call me a ‘catastrophist’.

    Any future historian which will study this critical period of our ‘civilisation’ will read public discourse in records such as this thread with interest. Considering the magnitude and complexity of the, let me be inclusive, ‘possible’ implication of the scientific subject under discussion, it is telling the immaturity and motivation some people here are displaying. Some people mistake a forum such as this, as entertainment and participate as it would be a footy final or for their own ephemeral gratification. I often wonder if these people have the same level of engagement with other scientist, such as their Physician. In any case I would put these people on notice, this is serious stuff, the future will catch up with your disrespect for it.

    Good news LeftyE, now remember you got to clean these panels regularly to get max benefit of them.

  164. Oh and mercurius…

    “I’m comfortable for your misperceptions to remain in place. You seem to revel in them.”

    Right back at ya. My original point to some extent.

  165. Ootz, I can only hope that more people become willing to engage more strenuously with scientists or experts. There is a danger in simply accepting expertise without credible questioning.

    My wife’s inoperable tumour, misdiagnosed by several physicians over the course of 6 months, demonstrates this in no uncertain terms to me. I forgive them this, but it was our unquestioning acceptance that led us where we are.

  166. Fair enough Graeme M, this still does not stop you from being civil when engaging in scientific sceptisism.

    It appears, from what you are saying, that you have adopted a healthy risk management approach to avoid a major personal catastrophe. This is nothing less and nothing more to what I am advocating. The risk in both cases is to great of doing nothing. Further, do not underestimate the capacity for scientific scepticism of regular commentators on this blog. I remind you and endorse Jess’s respond to you @159

    This is exactly the problem. If you have a good argument to offer it will be considered. In fact, why not try to get it published? The scientific community would indeed welcome such good arguments with open arms.

  167. Had to think about this, but here we go.

    Graeme M if it helps, will engage in some self disclosure too. I have been afflicted with a seriously disabling chronic disease for two decades. One that is invariably discarded into the too hard basket by most medical specialists. In fact one advised me, amongst other, to take up a hobby like chicken sexing or such! I have not lost my respect for the medical profession yet nor for their evidence based medical approach. In fact I use their fundamental scientific reasoning to manage myself to have a satisfying and fulfilled life.

  168. My apologies to all. I have been deliberately inflammatory in the last several posts to illustrate a point. Perhaps poorly.

    My visit here came through following a link and I was annoyed at the thoughtless labelling of people with an alternative viewpoint.

    Many average Joes, and even some not so average Joes, may not agree with AGW (or the carbon tax). And they rightly express that view. To put them down because of that is unnecessarily high handed.

    As I’ve found, even very well educated and knowledgeable people disagree on many aspects of this issue, and the arguments can become extraordinarily esoteric.

    An average Joe can’t know the subject that well. So many will simply decide with their heart, and they shouldn’t be lambasted for that.

    Shoot the message.

    Now, I shan’t take up any more of your time. I still disagree, nonetheless this blog has some excellent commentary about all manner of things and it is now a regular visit for me.

  169. Ootz sorry to hear of your issues. Like you I haven’t lost my respect for the medical profession, or for science. But I still think it behooves us to question. Even questioning in ignorance is preferable to blind acceptance, in my view.

  170. No worries Graeme, to be quite honest I loose it at times too when it gets all a bit too much. I am sure some of the regulars here can attest to that.

    We look forward to a solid argument of yours in support of your stance on the AGW science.

  171. An average Joe can’t know the subject that well. So many will simply decide with their heart, and they shouldn’t be lambasted for that.

    Of course the ideal is to treat all people at all times with respect. Obviously the internet and life in general falls short of this ideal.

    However as the right never fails to remind us there are things that we do not need to be tolerant of, and one of them is “thinking with the heart” about matters that clearly respond better to the brain. We have plenty of people working hard at using precisely this faculty and to dismiss that out of hand is simply not acceptable.

    Yes, questioning everything is permissible, and that does happen in science. But note that this is not the same as adopting a position of rejection of the mainstream while questioning everything. It is possible to provisionally accept the mainstream science while still investigating or questioning aspects of it. This is a perfectly defensible stance. Rejecting the mainstream science on the basis of the heart, or with questions but no good reasons, is not a defensible position and there is no need for it to be respected.

  172. Speaking of parallels with medical diagnoses – I assume Graham you’re aware of the quote by that radical lefty Arnold Schwarzenegger:

    “Consider the danger of global warming. Imagine your child is sick with a rising fever. If 98 out of 100 doctors said the child needed immediate treatment . . . and two doctors said the child was just fine . . . who would you listen to? The 98 or the 2? Should we do nothing about global warming on the slim-chance a few skeptics who deny its existence may be right? No, we should not.”

    (http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/node/5068)

  173. Good point Martin. I think that on the whole, I provisionally accept the science in broad outline. Well, no, I accept the state of climate science generally. But insofar as AGW goes I do have reservations regarding the degree of forcing and the actual effect of feedbacks.

    Where I really disagree is on the effects – I am not at all convinced sea level rise is at all unusual, I don’t accept the concept of a global average temperature, and I wait with some interest Arctic sea-ice extent for the summer of 2011 and 2012. If in 2012 I see a steadily declining extent, I’ll really question my own outlook.

  174. Gee wizofaus, that’s a tough one. I think if I went looking I’d find examples of illnesses for which medical science proffered a concensus diagnoses and treatment but which in light of later knowledge was found to be in error. And that is likely the case today.

    Concensus is not necessarily truth.

    But I take your point, and I don’t disagree that government must act upon the advice of experts. I’m not sure that the carbon tax as proposed is the right response, however.

  175. Wizofaus quoted:

    Imagine your child is sick with a rising fever. If 98 out of 100 doctors said the child needed immediate treatment …

    Why are you going to 98 doctors if your child is sick with a rising fever? How would the opinion of 98 doctors actually improve your child’s condition?

    What you need is

    1. action to stop the fever and prevent shock and brain damage
    2. A rapid diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause.

    The uncertainties associated with inaction do not permit an extended window of time to assemble to case for action. Best informed guess will need to be in play.

    This is the thing I feel troubled about. Those who reject the existing models because of their uncertainties in effect claim that the uncertainty is a sufficient ground for deferring action.

    Of course to sustain that case you’d need an alternative model, which, relying on the data, would show that the costs and uncertainties of deferring action were low compared with acting now and being wrong. But of course, they don’t like models and they aren’t that keen on data either. It’s an intuitive thing for them. For them, a gut reaction suffices because it accords with their cultural preference, and based on that they accuse those of us who endorse the science of preferring it because it accords with ours! Classic projection.

    Of course, they can’t really explain (and don’t bother trying) why, apart from the overwhelming scientific case, we would have a cultural preference for action on climate change. That argument simply doesn’t get a guernsey.

  176. To be honest Fran I don’t think I am advocating deferring action. I am just observing that I am not sold completely on AGW. That’s rather a different matter. Insofar as action goes, I am uncertain on the best course, and that’s a whole different line of thought. However I do agree with the general thrust of your comment in the broader sense.

    Going back to the question of concensus and inherent bias and the bearing of that on what is the truth (or I guess what is really happening), Irene Pepperberg’s book about her work with Alex the parrot offers some commentary. Another jolly fine read and very thought provoking.

    Of course, Alex had little to say about AGW so perhaps that’s a red herring…

  177. More disclosure: My wife is permanently disabled due to about 10 years of a cascading series of mis-diagnoses by successive physicians until the real illness was identified.

    Yet I am able to categorically separate the experience we’ve had with medical doctors, and the information coming from the climate science papers.

    I can understand if GraemeM is emotionally blocked from accepting mainstream findings in climate science because he equates it (emotionally) with accepting mainstream medical findings which have had a devasting impact on his life — just as I can understand if Wozza is jaundiced about accepting findings from computer models because he equates that (emotionally) with a close acquaintance who had a devastating professional experience with computer models — but it’s unscientific and is, ultimately, a personal matter for them.

    If Graeme has found this thread helpful for some reason, that’s heartening, but not germane to the scientific question at issue.

    The bases of their objections, as sincere and has heartfelt and as civilly as they are expressed, remain unscientific.

    A Nobel Prize awaits anybody who can debunk the edifice of climate science through rigourous and robust application of the scientific method.

    In other words, there is far too much at stake for the self-styled skeptics to be frigging about on blogs!

  178. Sorry to hear about your wife, Graeme M. For myself, on two matters I owe my life to the fact that the doctors concerned were conscientious and right.

    @ 189:

    Where I really disagree is on the effects – I am not at all convinced sea level rise is at all unusual, I don’t accept the concept of a global average temperature, and I wait with some interest Arctic sea-ice extent for the summer of 2011 and 2012. If in 2012 I see a steadily declining extent, I’ll really question my own outlook.

    In the long run CO2 and temperature track each other, and sea level obviously tracks temperature also.

    So in the longer term, you are right, sea level change is not unusual. Since the Last Glacial Maximum it has increased on the average 20 meters for every 1C. If you go on the paleorecord, expect an average rise of about 15m for every 1C increase in temperature from where we are now.

    On Arctic sea ice, keep an eye on the volume anomaly.

  179. Jess @ 175, thanks for linking to the Rahmstorf chapter. I find I had bookmarked it, but had not yet read it. From internal evidence I’d say it was written in 2007. He doesn’t quote IPCC AR4, for example. He is most meticulous in picking though the evidence.

    He says that the observations are tracking on the high edge of the forecasts, and nearly four years later that continues to be the case.

    I’d just throw in, however, Roger Jones’ warning that things won’t necessarily proceed according to smooth graphs. Methane from permafrost and drying of tropical forests are two factors that could upset matters.

  180. … in the course of daily conversation, and in reading newspapers, and watching the telly in between episodes of Two and a Half Men…

    Why am I not surprised?

    Actually I frequently watch Big Bang Theory, the other Chuck Lorre series assailing our sensibilities on the telly. For a show about science nerds, you have to wonder why they never discuss the science of climate change. The answer is not that hard to fathom. If that show made any honest mention of the science of climate change, they would alienate most of their audience, which is comprised of right-wing nutters who are turned on by non-PC jokes and racial slurs.

  181. I did note the excision of climate change issues from the BB Silky, and I suspect you’re right about the rationale — rightwing PC must be respected, but for all of that it’s actually not a bad romp.

  182. “Rightwing PC” … I haven’t heard of that phrase before, but I like it. The right use the term “PC” as a bludgeon against the left, and now, thanks to you, we have a bludgeon against them.

  183. Oh come on Silkworm. You don’t think I’d actually watch 2.5 Men and still be able to read this blog do you?

    Brian, I’ve never read that sea level rises at that proportional rate to temps. Surely we’d see a much more significant rise as ice sheets melt, followed by a far more stable but much smaller rise due to thermal expansion (if we consider say the period from the last ice age until today?) I can’t see how we could average sea level rise over that period given the actual physical events.

  184. Graeme, as long as you keep reading & learning then I’m sure you’ll come to understand most of the science – contrary to popular opinion it’s not really that hard to understand.

    You just need to make sure that whenever you read a scientific paper which purports to show something about a complex system, you need to ask yourself ‘how big an effect is this likely to be?’. Generally this is just a back-of-envelope style calculation. Similarly, if you see a paper make strong conclusions, then you should expect strong evidence for those conclusions.

    On your comments on water vapor in the atmosphere: make sure that you don’t forget the oceans. Denialist sites (a la Watts) tend to focus on the atmosphere, probably because half of them are (ex-)meteorologists, and because we have more data from satellites and the like (we focus a bit much on it here for similar reasons too sometimes as well, to be fair). But climate is really a two-body system, and the oceans are far more important than the atmosphere in driving climate dynamics, simply because water can hold more heat than air. So when you worry about uncertainties, I would suggest worrying about the oceans first. Just my 2c.

  185. Well, the generalities are straightforward Jess, but the detail is rather more complex, isn’t it?

    Now, I think the summation of Watts et al is a little unfair. I would have to say from a pretty good read of his site and similar over the past few years they do a good job of covering both atmospheric and ocean contributions. They have an axe to grind, true enough, but I don’t think they avoid the whole gamut of the science.

    On ocean heat, I understood that had been levelling off lately. This graphic of the 0-700m level from NOAA shows a clear flattening since about 2003.

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/heat_content55-07.png

    That seems to be reflected in the TOPEX/JASON sealevel chart:

    http://sealevel.colorado.edu/current/sl_noib_global.jpg

    which shows a somewhat level profile since 2004. Sure the linear trend is up, but cherry-picking any 5-6 year period in there and the latest period shows the most clear flattening since 1994.

    And this current La Nina seems to have accentuated that trend. It’ll be interesting to see if Hansen’s prediction of strong El Nino by 2012 comes to fruition. My guess is no.

  186. A quote from Douglas Shiel (co-author of the paper ” Where do winds come from? A new theory on how water vapor condensation influences atmospheric pressure and dynamics.”

    Remarkably salient in terms of my earlier comments…

    There is no scientific reason to raise the bar for surprising ideas and to lower it for ones that fit your preconceived notions – indeed the opposite makes more sense. A vibrant science should embrace stimulating new ideas and ways to look at problems, not look for ways to dismiss them with little engagement. My point is that there is no “big threat” from publishing a theory that later turns out to be wrong … but rejecting an idea that later turns out to be right and offers important new insights might be a real loss.

    Be clear that I am not saying that we should not be subject to critical scrutiny – on the contrary I welcome that (thanks). I agree we should try and be convincing, but the fact that not everything we say is 100% clear and obvious to everyone is a high standard to expect and not one required for most papers in most sciences. I dont think it should be either. We are publishing an idea, a hypothesis; we don’t need to prove it is right only that it is not obviously wrong.

    If we had applied the kind of thinking you seem to demand here to the theory of General Relativity it would not have been published – few at the time grasped the derivations or what they meant or believed that it was anything more than a stimulating idea. But it was published. Later the observations were also made to confirm its predictions – most people were surprised.

    Equation 34 should ultimately be tested by empirical observations. We have done our best to explain what it means , why it makes sense and how the reasoning can be evaluated. You don’t have to believe it to view it as a valid hypothesis — that is not the criterion to use. The core reasoning has not been contradicted by anything presented in the discussions so far (certainly we shall strive to be clearer! But that is a different issue). The same goes for the magnitude of the effect: we make our estimates. My hope is that people either show a fundamental flaw in these ideas or step up to test them.

  187. There is no scientific reason to raise the bar for surprising ideas and to lower it for ones that fit your preconceived notions – indeed the opposite makes more sense.

    I fail to see how expecting all ideas seeking scientific credibility to satisfy the rigorous requirements of the peer-reviewed scientific method is somehow “raising the bar” for “surprising ideas”.

    The consensus “ideas” have already been analysed using the scientific method, that’s why they form part of the consensus. The “new surprising” ideas need to be examined in exactly the same way.

  188. An interesting paper in terms of my earlier comment about the biosphere.

    The effect of the extra chlorophyll from the icebergs would be little more than a footnote in the amount of c02 currently being created by burning fossil fuel. It’s nice to think that the planet might be automatically capable of “balancing” our output with increased icebergs, but it’s little more than a fantasy I’m afraid. For the modellers, it’s more grist for the mill, for denialists it’s another hopeful straw to be grasped at in the wind, but in and of itself it’s hardly going to be overturning the main hypothesis of global warming.

    I can see Graeme that you are earnest, and honest, but really to grasp at things like that is classic confirmation bias.

  189. Graene M @ 199, all I’m saying is conveyed in the second graph on this post, which was about the broad relationship between temperature and sea level. It’s extracted from a series of 5 posts I did on the topic back in 2008, unfortunately not available on this blog in our current home.

    The Eocene 40 million years ago point signifies that if the temperature goes up about 4C the sea level will be 70m higher. At that point there will be no permanent ice sheets, glaciers or ice caps.

    @ 2002, I’d leave comments to the experts, except to say that if the first graph relates to the top 700m then with an average depth of 3.6km there is plenty of scope for deep mixing to bring cold water up.

    And in the second graph there is still an upward trend from 2004.

    Any guess you or I might make about an El Nino in 2012 is entirely worthless and irrelevant.

  190. Graeme, I wasn’t suggesting that the complexities aren’t there, or aren’t potentially important. All I’m suggesting is that if you’re trying to get your head around the science (as a layperson), then start with the elephants before you work your way down to the fleas. The generalities can still explain a surprising amount of what we observe.

    Also be very careful about looking at the temp data from the top 700 m of ocean. The ocean overturning works on timescales of 50 years for the top of the ocean, and centuries to millennia for the deeper ocean currents. Leveling off since 2003 really doesn’t mean anything on these time periods (i.e. it may just be noise), particularly if there’s a strong ENSO signal in that data one way or the other. We really don’t have enough data on the deep ocean overturning to really know what’s going on down there either, but we can make some good guesses.

  191. Brian, now that this thread has practically run its substantive course, I can I hope pick up without diverting it your (at 160) “You are very quick on the draw with a tendentious slur rather than a relaxed exploration of the issues. Nope you are not alone, but you are the one you can control.”

    First, I fully accept the point. I will try harder to exercise restraint, on the increasingly fewer occasions I comment.

    Nonetheless, I have already on this thread tried pretty hard. When DI(NR)( @101 told me for the umpteenth time to “fuck off”, I reminded myself that I should feel sorry one with his clear intellectual impairment and inability to construct logic or evidence-based arguments, and held my tongue.

    When I wrote (@124) “modelling is useful, even essential” and Jess @ 159 translated this into “Wozza says the models are crap”, I wondered how the education system had deteriorated to the extent that she could be admitted to a PhD program. Then I recalled that Mercurius is a teacher, stopped wondering, and held my tongue.

    And quite a few other such comments. My point is not about provocation, but control. When you (and other moderators) pick up some of these examples of remarks from those arguing your corner as quickly as you pick up on “tendentious slurs” from the enemy,the enemy is likely to have respond to provocation to defent itself, and you more likely to have the better mannered exchanges that you are ostensibly aiming for.

    I have been commenting off and on here for no more than about 18 months. In that time the volume of dissenting (from the approved majority line) comments and commenters has fallen substantially. I would hazard a guess that the amount of (tacitly approved by lack of moderation) misrepresentation and straightout vilification dissenters are subject to has a role in this. There are plenty of times when even with my hide even I can’t be bothered any more.

    You are now running what is less a blog than a group hug.

    This may be the objective of course.

  192. Graeme@202 – somewhat level since 2004? You must be looking at a different chart to me…is anybody else seeing that? At best if you pick the start of 2006 (with some particularly high readings), you could suggest that the rate of increase since then has been slightly less than the previous 10 years, but if there’s any relevance here to the likely correctness of AGW theory I’m not seeing it.

  193. Actually that brings to mind a point that had occurred to me before – it’s funny how denialists will jump on any suggestion that temperature or sea levels have “flattened” in the last x years as somehow proof that AGW is wrong, while completely failing to come up with any plausible explanation of why the levels are still significant elevated from where they were 100 years ago.

    At the most, a flattening might be suggestive of the possibility that there are negative feedbacks that we don’t fully understand that will hopefully give us a little more time before temperatures and sea levels rise to catastrophic levels. In other words, if we pulled out all stops to reduce emissions now, combined with the extra time nature may be willing to give us, we might just be able to avoid too much extra damage.

    Unfortunately as it is, not only do we lack any theoretical reason to believe such negative feedbacks exist, but emissions are continuing to rise with no sign that we’re even close to reaching a global *agreement* to reduce them, let alone actually taking the necessary steps to do so.

  194. Just so to avoid being accused of sluring, it might be better to substantiate my claims in regards to Nick Minchin. Here a news headline proclaiming him “2009’s most appalling person” and for goodness sake, a liberal frontbench colleague even called him “a fruitloop”. I believe it was around the time when was clapping and cheering the Monckton roadshow. Need I to go on?

  195. @124

    as I, or rather my PhD supervisor, once did – which rationalised away only one data point because it “didn’t fit”, and suffered major embarrassment when someone else managed to propose an alternative explanation which accommodated it quite easily by tweaking the assumptions in ways we hadn’t thought of.

    Actually, I’m going to revise my previously charitable stance to Wozza’s sob-story about the problem his PhD supervisor once had with computer models. Based on the account Wozza provided, it seems that the problem was in fact what technical support staff refer to as a PEBCAK error, or GIGO. Still, you can always a count on a poor tradesman to blame his tools…

    Like GraemeM, I have found this thread enlightening, as it has provided several worked examples of where the Minchins of this world get their junk science from.

    Well done Brian for kicking off yet another fruitful thread, and notably to Jess for being able to converse saliently on the scientific issues.

    Everybody — group hug!!!

  196. Ootz, what you’ve brought up there is a large part of why I did the post. Minchin is not just any politician. The links you provide go back to his famous Four Corners intervention against human influence on climate change and his conscious destabilizing of Turnbull’s leadership when McFarlane was negotiating a consensus position with Wong.

    Robb was the one who actively stuck the knife in but you can bet Minchin was a critical factor in bringing Turbull down – and altering the future course of our history.

  197. Wozza said:

    I will try harder to exercise restraint, on the increasingly fewer occasions I comment. {my emphasis}

    Nobody who is worried about literacy will utter increasingly fewer and expect to be taken seriously. You might have said that you would try harder to exercise restraint, on the declining/falling/dwindling number of occasions you commented. “Increasingly fewer” is just wrong and ugly all over the place. Were it not for the oxymoronic character of the utterance, I’d note the redundancy in the comparatives which seems unjustified by the claim. While it is possible to have a rate of increase or decline accelerate it seems you were simply asserting that from this point forward your posting frequency would decline by some non-specific fraction over time, rather than attempting to account for specific differences in various time periods in the future.

    Is this what you meant? Perhaps you can advise us all in the open thread so we can predict the point at which we won’t hear from you again.

  198. Here’s a thought — very few among us are concert pianists, yet we can all readily discern the difference between a virtuouso, an amateur ivory-tickler, and an imbecile mashing the keyboard with their fists.

    Why then, are so many prone to bamboozlement on matters of science and medicine? How can people not hear all the wrong notes, the clashing chords, and the vaudevillean glissandos, played by the Spencers, Christys, Plimers and Moncktons of this world?

    Trying to treat their outpourings as serious science is like listening to Beethoven’s Ninth played by a kazoo orchestra.

    Certainly art and literature, even philosophy, are susceptible to hoaxing too — but nobody (with the possible exception of Phillip Glass) can fool an audience into believing they’re a maestro if they fail to produce any decent chords…

    …I wonder what it is about music that makes it relatively impervious to hoaxing — whereas so many other fields of knowledge can produce plausible-looking simulacra which bamboozle the credulous?

  199. Anthony Watts might be many things but he is not a creationist.

    Watts served on the Chico Unified School District board in California for four years from 2002–06. During the campaign there was a Q&A session on a local blog, and Watts was asked for his opinion on the teaching of creationism and evolution in schools. This was his reply:

    I have no designs on either issue, as neither is part of my platform. But I do believe in balance, and if one subject is taught, the opposing view should also get attention. Ultimately, parents should discuss religion with their children, as it is a personal choice. The debate over creationism versus evolution goes back decades, and is now part of our American History. A student needs to know that history to make an intelligent choice about how they view religion.

    http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/more-on-anthony-watts/

    Watts treats evolution not as a science, but as a religious view of the world, which should be “balanced” with the teaching of creationism. This is the creationist agenda pure and simple.

    When Watts lost his job on the school board in 2006, he did not cease being a creationist. Instead he transferred all his energy from fighting evolution to fighting the creationists’ second enemy, climatology. Watts started up his anti-science blog that same year.

  200. “…. treats evolution not as a science, but as a religious view of the world …”

    Silkworm, this links in with the philosophy of science argument of Brian, Jess, Mercurius and other regulars in the epistemological ‘group hug’ here. Although personally I am not convinced that your overall logical positivist stance is hugely relevant nor it seems to me productive in progressing the case for AGW in places where it ought to. As an agnostic, I resent your assertion as to non-atheist worldviews equal AGW skeptic. In fact I aim surprised that non of the regular deniers on LP have have taken some arguments based on Feyerabend and Lakatos thinking to task on you. It is possible that you are more likely to alienate with your line of argument rather than breaking through.

    For what it is worth, I think we ought to keep in mind foundation and assumptions in science when arguing the case of science in relation to AGW, not necessary harp on about it. A more productive emphasis, in my view, should be on the formal Method of Science. Key issues such as validity and reliability should be fleshed out to establish some ground rules to engage with genuine sceptics.

    Brian, yes there is a pattern. This pattern does go right back to the start of it all. And talking about pulling the wrong levers in relation to the clever country.
    We ought to compile a record of this character here. I too vaguely remember some stuff up in relation to nuclear issue. would appreciate somebody help me out in establishing the record of this past Science Minister.

    Hey Mercurius, are you suggesting there is some occurrence of ghostly air-guitar on this thread? Always considered it a w@nk, not that I am much of a musician, although capable of keeping with the beat.

  201. @219 – Ootz, it’s hardly a secret that the former Science Minister is also a skeptic’ on the notion that smoking causes lung cancer. Can’t help you any more about his “record” — it’s all on the record anyway 🙂

    As for “ghostly air guitar”, that is a very pleasing image — all those ‘skeptics’ having a big global pseudo-jam session together, pretending to be real scientists ‘cos they can self-publish on a blog.

    Whenever I hear a self-styled skeptic invoke the example of lone iconoclast Galileo, I immediately think of this

  202. @ Mercurius,

    Whenever I hear a self-styled skeptic invoke the example of lone iconoclast Galileo,

    …then it’s time to bust out the Robert Park quote!

    “Alas, to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment, you must also be right.”
    ~ Robert Park

  203. DInr, that’s a little unkind about Signor Galilei, don’tcha think?

    But regarding Minchin, Beelzebub has a devil put aside for h-i-i-m, for h-i-i-m for…(dang! can’t ever get that last note!)

  204. Are you alluding somehow, that the Church of Deniers will take 500 odd years to officially declare Gore was right and the Earth warmeth?

  205. Wozza @ 209, I’ll let most of that go through to the keeper, with the note that we prefer not to discuss moderation matters on the thread. You are probably aware that I’m away more often than I’m here.

    I’ll just say that personally I value cooperation over competition, agonistic rather than antagonistic discourse. Where there is shared values, mutual appreciation and support you get true intersubjectivity and an environment where people can exchange information and ideas, learn and grow without the necessity of continually striking sparks off each other.

    Mostly on this blog it works pretty well, but that is not by chance. I’ll leave it at that.

  206. Nobody who is worried about literacy will utter increasingly fewer and expect to be taken seriously. You might have said that you would try harder to exercise restraint, on the declining/falling/dwindling number of occasions you commented. “Increasingly fewer” is just wrong and ugly all over the place.

    Perhaps you can advise us all in the open thread so we can predict the point at which we won’t hear from you again.

    Wow FB. You try to shame him by being pedantic about grammar.

    Then pretty much tell him to PO.

    Do you think you are an admirable human being?

  207. Davey

    This is a blog. On blogs, there is banter. Sometimes that banter is robust.

    Wozza’s Ghost was doing snark. Under the Golden Rule, that must mean he is happy to trade in snark. I merely gave him what he asserted by his acts that he wanted. I believe in trying to give people what they demand, if it breaches no higher ethical constraint.

    I never tell people to “PO” — not here nor in any place on the net — not even egregious trolls, which Wozza’s Ghost is not. That’s not my call. If I take serious exception to something someone says, I usually answer them, or where others have IMO answered adequately, ignore them.

    Wozza’s Ghost made a claim above that went to the literacy of his interlocutors, in an atempt to take a swing at their standing to claim. He opened the door to a response of the kind I made. Again, the Golden Rule applies.

    Do you think you are an admirable human being?

    At least as admirable as most and more admirable than quite a few, but finally, that is for others to adjudge as I strive to be admirable and would be affected by confirmation bias and also a bootstrapping problem when self-evaluating.

  208. Fran, I admire your noble rule and scholarly patience. No probs with robust giving and taking etc. from me too. But some characters on here are either boringly juvenile or borderline creepy, thus i have an affinity to David’s general sentiment. To use a sporting analogy, I don’t mind being a part of a pack in a scrum. Only if there is a player present who constantly indicates like he is about to grope you or himself, I get unsettled and hence understand DI (NR)s choice of words.

  209. Ootz…ewwww.

    I wondered how the education system had deteriorated to the extent that she could be admitted to a PhD program. Then I recalled that Mercurius is a teacher, stopped wondering, and held my tongue.

    Yes, well may I take this opportunity as a teacher to apologise for ruining the education system. It was me what done it. And I’ve only been at it for three years. Mwah-hah-hah-hah!

    Sorry Brian, couldn’t resist…

    Anyway, I’ve learnt a lot on this thread about how junk science works:

    1) Produce a flawed paper.
    2) Have it picked apart by experts.
    3) Cry persecution. Insinuate a vast plot against you. The fact that you can’t get any of your work published is evidence of the plot.
    4) When you get called on your bullshit, cry persecution some more.
    5) Repeat steps 1-4 until you have bamboozled a sufficient number of lay-observers into trolling your work on blogs for you, thus approximating the closest you will ever get to being actually published.
    6) Continue to re-use and re-cycle your earlier errors at will. The more dust you throw, the less clearly they can see you are standing in a pile of crap.
    7) Congratulations! You are now an esteemed Blog Scientist!

    And the art of trolling:

    1) Make a false and tendentious statement.
    2) When called on it, back-pedal furiously, dissemble and state in injured tone how hurt you are that anybody could think you would say such a thing.
    3) Offer that you actually agree with 99% of your interlocuter’s comment, except for one teensy-weensy point, which is actually just your original false and tendentious statement in drag.
    4) Repeat steps 2-3 until your interlocuter says something intemperate.
    5) Cry for the ref. Scream at your interlocuter. Argue with the ref.
    6) Declare victory, and move on from the smouldering ruin of a formerly civil and productive discussion.
    7) Repeat as necessary.
    8) Your PhD in Agnotology will be emailed to you from The University of The Interwebz.

  210. @Mercurius Well, and if I’m bad, then actual Australians must be worse, given I’m a product of the New Zealand education system.

    And it might pain Wozza to know that his taxes pay for my scholarship. Thanks Woz. 🙂

  211. Does anyone else find Wozza’s “Green Bashing” a bit odd? Looking at what he’s written it appears he sneaks up on unsuspecting Greens (he doesn’t say how he identifies a Green, dreadlocks, sandals and socks?) and verbally beats them up with made up stories and then laughs heartily in their faces when they can’t do the old in/out. I mean surely there is some pathology here??

  212. Patrickb, it was W’s last line @126 when he lost me and made me a to dig and become weary. Further, we had an original W, then a WG after being sent into the naughty corner. So, I suspect if he’ll get sent off again we will be haunted with W’s Phantom or such.
    Honestly if he stops being juvenile then I have no problem to engage.

  213. @0otz,

    AFAIK the original W was never “sent into the naughty corner”. After changing his email addy (presumably because he changed employers) W changed his nym to WG so that we wouldn’t think he was a morpher (he said this somewhere a while ago). Apparently dropping us an email to alert us to the addy change and stay with the same nym etc never occurred.

  214. @126

    Always thought it was an urban myth, but it is amusing to trot out to Greenies occasionally.

    @138

    Myth or not, the reason I like to bring it up as a talking point sometimes is that it illustrates through providing a laughably extreme example something that statists just don’t seem able to get their heads around

    Yeah, those are the points when Woz basically outed himself as more of a mischief-maker than an honest explorer of knowledge, at least in this domain. It doesn’t matter whether the enemy (Greens, ‘statists’, or whatever) actually subscribe to the outlandish example. What’s important is that the myth sounds like the kind of thing they would do, if you subscribe to the made-up caricature bogey-monster model of the enemy that Woz and his fellow-travellers have constructed.

    It’s the No True Scotsman fallacy in reverse.

    I mean surely there is some pathology here??

    I doubt that, Patrickb. I mean, being a dick is not actually a mental illness. And surely you can see what’s wrong, on quite a few levels, about ascribing mental illness in the case of people being politically mischeivous. First, they don’t deserve to be exonerated on the grounds of mental illness. Secondly, it’s ableist to assume a deficit is grounded in mental illness. There is no necessary contradiction between being in full possession of one’s faculties, and being a complete twit. Viz. “Lord” Monckton.

    Brian, this education in junk science just keeps on giving!

  215. Once again another climate change thread is hi-jacked by another lunar troll, and guess what, you’re all talking about him rather than the issue.
    Mission accomplished in troll land.

  216. Oh, I dunno, adrian. The thread was about junk science. As Mercurius has pointed out, we’ve had an excellent example of a purveyor of it.

    While some of them (eg Minchin) are perhaps clinically insane (if you saw his spittle-flecked performance about us greenies wanting to destroy capitalism, you’ll know what I mean), many of them are just making mischief.

  217. Thanks for the clarification TT, my bad. I could have sworn that W was boasting at some stage of having come back from the sin bin or some such.

    Enough said about that, I agree with Mercurius about the patterns in relation to junk science and denialism. Attributing pathology, even though it does exist in the real world, is not productive in this context. People like Monckton are more like a trickster character, brilliant entertainers with poor judgment which eventually catches up with them one way or an other in some tragedy. Where as, people such as Minchin, with real political power and driven by nasty ideological hobbyhorses, there is indeed a special hell waiting, as Mercurius proclaimed.

    History will not treat the Howard Government Executive kindly. For they have sent us to a war with less evidence, or should I say more overt lies, than AGW scientists can ever be accused of by the denial cheer crowd. Not to mention the massive cost and terrible losses it incurred amid the hypocrisy of the AWB scandal. This is why I never tire to list their misdeeds and consequences thereof even if they are hardly a secret.

  218. “and watching the telly in between episodes of Two and a Half Men”
    It was entertaining watch Graeme “concern troll” M gradually deteriorate from a bit of a “nuisance but in a polite way” to “embarrassingly unreflective boor”. But now we get to this, he actually watched this show. He’s jumped the shark and landed outside the reservation.

    Given that Graeme:
    Doesn’t accept mainstream science;
    Claims to not understand science;
    Hates greenies;
    Likes Two and a Half Men,

    I’d warn him to be careful next time he’s in the latte belt, he may be assaulted by a roving gang of inner-city elites.

  219. Ah PatrickB your grasp of the written word is clearly tenuous at best. But that’s OK. Actually I was briefly cogitating, whoops no make that thinking vacantly about such as you during tonight’s extremely gripping episode of Ghost Whisperer. But then I lost my train of thought and found myself here. What the?

    Thanks though to Brian and Jess and a couple of others for some good comments and links, it’s been an enjoyable excursion from worshipping Anthony.

    But must pop back over to Jo Nova, I do feel rather more comfortable there with my peers.

    Carry on.

  220. @235
    I was thinking more along socio-path lines, not disabling mental illness. You know something that could be treated with some group therapy. WG should go on one of those camps where you smear yourself with wode and do a lot of roaring whilst wearing only a lap-lap (it worked for me). Oh and don’t be rude about Philip Glass, he studied maths you know.

  221. @241
    Lost your train of thought? That not all you lost, you’ve lost me. Good luck with the mental vacancy, hope it comes together for you.

  222. Re: Graeme M,
    I have to agree for once with you! PatrickB clearly missed your dig at the difficulty of avoiding the ubiquitous repeats of that dire so-called sitcom when one wishes to watch something enjoyable.

    Mind you, you’ve missed multiple points from others, so I think you’re actually about even.

  223. Graeme @ 241, Jo Nova has a fine reputation amongst sceptics, but last I looked she was purveying some of the worst junk science you’d ever be likely to see.

  224. @ Brian, yes I checked out her site today and people in the comments were pushing abiotic petroleum junk science (i.e. that oil and gas comes from the mantle). They even linked to an ABC link about Triton (which is a moon of one of the gas giants with huge amounts of hydrocarbons) as an example, without even thinking that the processes of planetary formation might be a bit different for different parts of the solar system.

    Maybe that’s another factor for Mercurius’ junk science list: Pick a process which leads to your desired outcome, and insist that that’s the only way that said outcome could ever occur.

  225. Oh, and a corollary of my previous post: Pick a process which your opponent suggests could lead to given outcome, apply it in a ridiculous context and laugh at the stupidity of anyone who would think such a thing, despite the fact that you’re the only one who has suggested it.

  226. But must pop back over to Jo Nova, I do feel rather more comfortable there with my peers.

    Carry on.

  227. Jo Nova 🙂
    I’ve tried to post a few times over there asking for a ‘skeptic’ to be videoed putting a finger in front of a CO2 laser and have never got out of moderation 🙂

    Shame, because I may be able to get one over there that actually believe in the rubbish they spray.

    She also reckons that global warming is only the 2nd biggest scam – the big one is “fiat money”, paper money conspiracy 🙂
    http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/jo-nova-is-about-to-reveal-an-even-bigger-conspiracy/

  228. Well then Graeme, are you walking away or are you going to face us?

    I feel pretty confident we can handle Nova any day re the question of who is peddling Junk science in the real world.

    Would almost bet who’d win the scrum, Brian permitting. But in any case have a think about first, you obviously are open and you have seen Brians Climate threads, Jesses solid grounding in geoscience, we got some nifty engineers, Professionals throught and some very experienced hands on people and I presume you have come across Roger Jones, a regular commenter her.

    Let’s think about it, hey?

  229. NB. Sorry, few letters and bits and pieces mising in my previous comment. Sto combattendo FIREFOX al momento!

  230. @Dave: nice link. I never understand fiat money conspiracy theorists who hoard gold. Gold only has value because people want it. Who are they going to sell their hoarded gold to after WWIII/hyperinflation/zombie apocalypse?

  231. @247 – hydrocarbons from Triton
    @250 – ‘fiat money’

    Hey, Jo Nova readers!

    Are you tired of ‘fiat money’?

    Feel like all those dollar bills aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on?

    Isn’t it time you traded it all in for some real assets?

    Here at Mercurius Finance, we have the solution!

    Simply send me all your unwanted money in a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and you will receive a perpetual license to extract all the oil riches you need from Triton!

    Limitless, untapped, hydrocarbons from a source that no government can reach, let alone tax!

    What are you waiting for?! Send all your useless old dollar bills today! This offer can’t last!

  232. Chuckle… Ootz I didn’t come here to ‘face’ you. I just happened across the blog, saw the thread about Minchin and felt compelled to comment on the tendency to evaluate people’s views on AGW on the basis of their other views, or even to impute something of a person’s character on the basis of their position. Now I’ve had a bit more time to dig around I understand why that’s so. And to be honest, I think the skeptic blogs are as bad or worse in doing the same in reverse.

    Jo Nova’s blog I visit occasionally but regardless of the accuracy or otherwise of her arguments I find she and her commenters seem rather behind the times.

    As for Patrick’s points, here’s my answers, like anyone cares 🙂

    * Doesn’t accept mainstream science;
    Tricky. I generally accept mainstream science in most things, tho I have to admit to some doubts as to Big Bang and the expanding universe. However I do think that AGW is not as solid as is claimed but as has been pointed out generally speaking my position has to be one of, well, I dunno, belief? Faith? Gut feel? Because I can’t argue the science, not knowing enough. But someone (Mercurius?) pointed out earlier one doesn’t need to be a virtuoso to know when music is not played well, and in a similar vein, I just feel the same about AGW. You can rubbish me for that, but there you go.

    * Claims to not understand science;
    No, I just made the point I am not a scientist. I ‘understand’ plenty of science, as far as my reading and IQ let me go. But that’s no more than a smidge (both my reading and IQ!)

    * Hates greenies;
    Nope, don’t recall saying that either. Just stated that by and large, greenies seem to me to be catstrophists by nature, forever wringing their hands over some likely disaster coming our way. One of my best mates is always regaling me with stories of the latest walk against warming he went to, heck I even humoured him and went to a presentation on AGW from a bunch of concerned scientists at ANU. But he is forever wringing his hands and sensing me a link to some story about a newly discovered looming disaster. I am even supposed to be reading some Club of Rome follow up book…

    * Likes Two and a Half Men
    Oh puhleez! I think it tells me all I need to know about human nature that Charlie Sheene actually has fans!

    I won’t be engaging all that much here simply cos I don’t have the time (or the smarts to be honest, chuckle). But it is kinda fun hanging out with the misguided.

  233. Chuckle …. Graeme I knew you were one of us 😉

    I like your attitude and inquiring mind, I’d like to think I share these traits.

    Why I accept mainstream science? Take the whole crop of academies of sciences, solid Sandstone establishments around the globe and major National Science Institutions they all talk in virtual unison on the main points. The odds they agree on, is that they are 90% certain of these. That gives you at best 10% that they are wrong. Further, don’t forget the error margins are such, that the could underestimate the effect of carbon too. They could actually underestimate as much as underestimating, So that leaves you with 5% overestimation of global warming. Finally there is not much credible, reliable and consistent evidence emerging that would seriously challenge that estimation.

    It helps too to have spent some time in a geoscience, as well as study a degree, where the the fist prac we did was taking a Lab report apart. The first written assignment included conducting a simple experiment and reporting it. It helps to understand the method how good evidence is being established, experimental designs constructed, methods of data sampling and analysis. That is why I suggested to emphasise on the Method of Science rather than the epistemology in a previous comment. These are easier to follow and crucial to establish junk from gems. However, it helps to have acquainted oneself with major concepts of Popper and Kuhn and perhaps stumbled across some alternative views such as offered by Bruno Latour and Donna Harraway for good measure.

    In relation to believes and facts, I did mention that I am an agnostic and therefor well practiced to keep them separate and treasure their merit.

    Further, I don’t think any one can understand science, what one can do is aim to perfect ones ability to follow such practices. The evidence speaks for it self.

    Hate (of Greenies) is an emotional state. It says more about the person bearing that hate than those being hated.

    And if you have followed some of the whimsy threads on LP you don’t have to accuses your taste.

    Being misguided offers opportunity to learn and improve.

    Hey jumpnmcar, in mid 90’s Professor Jon Knott made an educated comment with same conclusion to my query of thus. Although at that time we were looking at a 35t rock pushed a shore by some major wave force!

  234. Ootz @ 258: “Chuckle … Graeme I knew you were one of us.”

    Well that’s always the only important thing around here, innit?

  235. Couldn’t help yourself, could you, Wozza?

    My personal preference would be for an atmosphere of Gemütlichkeit:

    Gemütlichkeit connotes the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the opportunity to spend quality time.

    That’s difficult to achieve in a blog with a diverse participation like LP, but I’ll settle for an at times robust exchange of views within a framework of civility.

    That’s difficult when you have someone standing on the edges and pissing in.

  236. Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
    Ein Prosit, Ein Prosit, der Gemütlichkeit
    Eins, zwei, drei [drink]

    Ah! Happy memories from the Oktoberfest.

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