For those who haven't checked out Steve's work, look at http://www.climateaudit.org/ . But be warned, if you're looking for politics over numbers, he will put you to sleep. And the server is getting hammered at the moment. But please book mark it and go back later. His blog is an important piece of the internet, what we all thought the internet could be before lolcats disillusioned us.
It doesn't surprise me to see a lot of people here coming to the climate scientists' defense. They are, after all, a popular and respected group in society at the moment. But when you cherry-pick data, create unreproducible models, and then refuse to share your data with other people, you ought to lose a little bit of that respect. We will get precisely the quality of science we enforce, which at present is any quality of science the authoritative voices in the area chose to give us.
When Steve has been successful at obtaining the data he wants, he has been able to find flaws in various analyses. If you come from a scientific perspective, that ought to be great news! Independent confirmation or refutation of results increases the quality of our knowledge. But if you come from a political perspective then Steve is bad news indeed.
Why climate scientists are respected and treated as the high priests of truth while they hide data from the world and McIntyre is treated as a vaguely dangerous rogue, I don't understand it. I suspect it's politics. But in a perfect world there would be a thousand McIntyre's and they wouldn't have to fight for data. It would be available in public online databases, hosting paid for by tax dollars. That ought to be the least we ask of any science with the potential to route trillions of dollars in government spending policy over the next decade.
But sadly, when bad science comes to light, all we get instead is a circling of the wagons around the favored group. Why? Again, I suspect politics.
I don't care if climate scientists consider Mcintyre an adversary. Does everyone remember how the shuttle software is written? The testing team has an adversarial relationship with the developers. This is how quality work is forged. If these guys can't stand to have an adversary review their work, I submit that something is seriously awry.
Peer review isn't strong enough right now. If you read these docs, you find that they are asking that reviewers be hand-picked for "objectivity", and it's clear from the context that this means "not global warming skeptics". Peer review needs to be more adversarial. I don't think the scientific literature is much less important than the shuttle software.
If the scientific method is working, then the data and methods should be able to withstand ANYONE'S scrutiny. It should be completely open. Most people here are strong supporters of open source software. Don't tell me for one second that free and open scientific debate doesn't benefit exactly as much from being open.
Climate research funding is not paid so well as to give researchers time to deal with these specific issues. Maybe it should be. But it isn't.
McIntyre is the main target of the Hadley Centre scientists' ire, which I suspect has more to do with the fact that he's actually competent and knows how to interpret the data they release, something they oddly seem to fear.
Lest we forget, scientists like those at the Hadley Centre have their own incentives, as their funding is directly correlated to the prevailing fear of global warming. Moreover, the debate has become so poisoned that few scientists would be brave enough to go far down a route which might dispute even a small part of the conventional wisdom for fear of being labelled a 'denier' (a term you used elsewhere in this discussion).
But this is not what scientific debate is supposed to be about. This is supposed to be a profession ruled by the Scientific Method and dedicated to the primacy of experiments and data. What your personal incentives are or who pays your salary should be secondary to the results you produce. Science should have no place for flippant ad hominem dismissals, nor for the talk of 'enemies' that pervades this thread and the emails of the Hadley scientists.
We should be thankful for the role played by men like McIntyre, because they act as an important quality check on data which will be used to make massively important political decisions which may have huge impacts on each of our lifestyles and finances. We should have more adversarial data analysts, not fewer.
There is so little fact checking being performed and present day thermometer readings are all but useless as most are contained within urban heat traps. Global Warming isn't a question of whether CO2 or Methane contribute to higher absorption of infrared energy. It's a question of what its effects are, and what the environment's reaction will be (IE will heated oceans produce more clouds and produce a sharp reversal in the effect or will it produce no effect at all, etc.).
The other thing that concerns me is the political nature of 'climate science', not only are so many politicians embedded in being 'green', but the organisations themselves have a political agenda that makes them (at least appear as though they're) prone to bias. Most emphatically claim that our only alternative to fossil fuels is the mass development of alternative energy, which is flat out bullshit.
Firstly before we get into any discussion of carbon sequestration, these 'scientists' and the public in general (thankfully many politicians - never thought I'd have thankfully and politicians in the same sentence without 'they're all dead' inserted between the two - haven't ignored the green-glowing Elephant in the room) make no discussion of the one main, technologically available alternative we have: Nuclear.
A renewed Nuclear power project in virtually every western country, including widespread MOX usage would vastly reduce our need for fossil fuels, whilst barely effecting the amount of highly radioactive nuclear waste we produce.
It's likely just me, but when 'scientists' purposefully neglect to mention existing and well established technology as a solution to our energy crisis it makes me question their motives. Who are really paying for these studies if their only suggestion is alternative energy?
Sure, and if researchers are being forced to draw the line higher than usual due to external pressure from highly funded deniers, whose fault is that?
EDIT: Besides, if we define the adversary to be somebody making legitimate critical analyses of your data and models and showing up flaws in them, isn't dealing with that meant to be part of a scientists job? How different is it in practice to defending your work against criticism from other, supposedly more respectable, scientists?
It's ridiculous to claim that a lack of resources is a valid reason for intentionally hiding data from people with the skill to perform an adversarial analysis on it. If a scientist can't defend his results against Steve McIntyre, it means his results are indefensible. The person doesn't matter; the data, and its integrity, do.
EDIT: referring to McIntyre:
The guy is a semi-retired mineral consultant. He's been paid his whole life by energy companies. He is not a scientist and the so-called "valuable contributions" he made were determined to be of "little significance":
In the specific article you provided, all of the relevant links were broken.
1) Archive a copy of all raw data series used in publications with a public database
2) Archive a copy of the final processed data series used in publications with the same database.
3) Archive a copy of the source code used to produce figures and tables with the same database.
The default stance for publicly-funded science should be openness, not secrecy.
Hell, these would be good steps for any serious journal to take, on any subject, regardless of federal funding.
edit: Example of the pathology we need to fight:
>>"We should be able to conduct our scientific research without constant fear of an "audit" by Steven McIntyre; without having to weigh every word we write in every email we send to our scientific colleagues. In my opinion, Steven McIntyre is the self-appointed Joe McCarthy of climate science. I am unwilling to submit to this McCarthy-style investigation of my scientific research. As you know, I have refused to send McIntyre the "derived" model data he requests, since all of the primary model data necessary to replicate our results are freely available to him. I will continue to refuse such data requests in the future. Nor will I provide McIntyre with computer programs, email correspondence, etc. I feel very strongly about these issues. We should not be coerced by the scientific equivalent of a playground bully. I will be consulting LLNL's Legal Affairs Office in order to determine how the DOE and LLNL should respond to any FOI requests that we receive from McIntyre."
I fear that by the time the political debate ends, a lot of good research is going to become collateral damage, which would be an awful result.
If i may extract quote from the message you replied to: As you know, I have refused to send McIntyre the "derived" model data he requests, since all of the primary model data necessary to replicate our results are freely available to him. I will continue to refuse such data requests in the future. Nor will I provide McIntyre with computer programs, email correspondence, etc. I feel very strongly about these issues. We should not be coerced by the scientific equivalent of a playground bully. I will be consulting LLNL's Legal Affairs Office in order to determine how the DOE and LLNL should respond to any FOI requests that we receive from McIntyre." (emphasis added by me)
I do agree with you that transparency is the litmus test of good science. At the same time, catering to that can lay you open to abuses from, well, trolls.
As an analogy, suppose I had a bee in my bonnet about Linux security and I kept demanding that Linus send me copies of his binaries every time he did a new commit. He would rightly tell me to get the sources and build it myself and leave him alone. and in turn I could post lonely rants along the lines of 'why won't Linus Torvalds come clean about Linux security'. It would be quite meaningless, but it would sucker in some people. If I was sufficiently clever I could probably get quoted by someone at Microsoft or in the BSD camp.
The parallel I am drawing here is to the public datasets and methods laid out in published, peer-reviewed papers. If McIntyre is so sure that either the methods or the datasets are flawed, why not follow the established practice of writing to the journal and challenging the paper, or even submitting his own analysis of the public data and explaining how it improves on existing analyses? Instead he posts in some minor journal which is not part of the scientific corpus, not a hard science journal, and has been widely accused of lax publication criteria.
One of the things that really bothers me about the skeptical crowd (as opposed to individual skeptics) is that they employ a lot of same kind of arguments as the proponents of 'intelligent design' do, claiming there's an ivory-tower conspiracy that silences all dissenting views and shuts them out of publication. Any time you have a bunch of people going 'OMG teh conspiracy', it's time to whip out the old bullshit detector...and all too often, comparing their claims with the published literature sends the BS detector way into the red.
Sad fact: most journal articles do not include all the details necessary to reproduce their results. There are usually all sorts of heuristics and tricks used which are not interesting enough to include in the paper. Typically, the experts in the field all know each other and share source code/tricks in private conversation.
As for the "ivory-tower conspiracy", it apparently isn't bullshit. As these emails reveal, there is a conspiracy to make it difficult for Steve McIntyre to examine published scientific results. There is also a conspiracy (revealed in other emails) to oust climate skeptics from scientific societies. It isn't paranoia if they are really out to get you.
It looks like, from the emails, (and I hate to prejudge) that "submitting his own analysis" is not going to be an option for him.
Which leads me to the discriminating factor -- if publicly available data and publicly available processes allow an independent to process the data and reach different conclusions and be published that's fine. But that's not what is happening here.
There is no mystery about what happens between Linus' source code and the compiled executable. It's imminently transparent and reproducible. Science should be exactly the same way.
I also agree with having alarm bells ring whenever you hear "OMG the conspiracy!". I would humbly add, however, that groupthink is a real and prevalent problem -- not just among academics but everybody. If your groupthink reaches a point where you view that it's "us against them" and that your job in academia is to defend a pre-established position? I'm thinking you should be fired and never work in that field again. It's critical among scientists more than anybody else to have an open mind and a large dose of humility. The entire idea of science is that what you're working on will be replaced or fine-tuned later on down the road. Everybody is going to be wrong to some degree. It's part of the job. Big egos are not such a great thing.
I don't have a lot of tolerance for taking public money and playing politics with it, even if you are proven correct in the long run. One man's troll is another man's skeptic, and it's your job as an honest scientist to deal with them. Good scientists should first and foremost always be open about data and methods. Good grief, it's 2009, publishing all of this on a wiki somewhere is trivial.
This is the meat of the matter. Scientists write letters to journals all the time saying that they think an author overstretched. Those letters, in and of themselves, do not negate the previous research. Scientists also write original papers showing that a previous hypothesis is invalid. Those papers, if they are well written, are easy to publish, especially if they make the journal more interesting.
This is useful not just for the purposes of auditing, but also for the purpose of scientific progress. I would be able to build on other people's work much faster if I could download and modify their code rather than just rebuilding it myself.
In all seriousness, though, a lot of labs view their in-house codes as a competitive advantage. You may not like it, but science has become commercialized, the labs/unis are all competing about the same grants, which creates a competitive enviroment.
And when I've said that I'm not convinced that there's human global warming happening, I've been called all sorts of nasty names. I didn't say it isn't happening; I just said the information I've seen doesn't convince me. I see a lot of strongly held beliefs that global warming is happening, but the actual data seemed murky at best to me. In short, I wasn't convinced either way.
But by casually interested people, I got called all sorts of terrible names. "Denier", things like that. Compared to a creationist as someone who obviously doesn't get it, who just has beliefs by faith.
Really? I say the data hasn't convince me, that makes me a denier and a creationist? This whole thing has seemed much more like a religion than science to me. There's some science happening, but a lot of people want and need this to be true as a part of their identity rather than science. It doesn't surprise me at all that you see corruption from scientists in a culture like that. It goes against everything science is supposed to be.
I'm starting to think it's a good thing that American society by and large is ignorant of science issues.
Any time you incentivize scientific research with fame and fortune in popular society, you end up with crap like this.
Let's keep popular acclaim to things which don't matter, such as sports.
Honest question: do you have a background in climate science or something similar? I'm a science nut too, but I don't know how I could begin to look at the _data_ involved here and come up with any sort of conclusion at all.
So what I do is advocate for public policy decisions that are in line with the very strong scientific consensus: that human-caused climate change is real and a serious threat to life on the planet.
> So what I do is advocate for public policy decisions that are in line with the very strong scientific consensus: that human-caused climate change is real and a serious threat to life on the planet.
You don't know yourself, so you advocate for spending billions of dollars than could be spent doing lots of other important things.
The very strong scientific consensus? I don't see it. I don't see reproducible, falsifiable experiments that can be made by disinterested parties to check climate change. That's what scares me.
Astronomy? I can, and have, checked it myself.
Physics? Friend of mine and girlfriend of mine are physicists; they've tested and re-checked many famous physics experiments for learning purposes as part of their studies.
Microeconomics? Can be tested. Has been tested. I trust it.
Macroeconomics? Skeptical of it, because of it's proneness to confirmation bias, politicization, inability to falsify it, and many historical errors that it's made in the past without even a serious mea culpa from the error-makers. Usually they just add a caveat, or say that whatever proved them wrong actually shows they're correct.
So climate change? I'm not convinced. Reproducible, falsifiable results. Show me - "Here are the average temperatures and temperature variances in 30 regions in the globe this year. We predict the average temperature will rise by X% and variance will rise by Y% in at least 25 of these regions over the next five years. We absolutely don't expect the temperatures or variances to fall in any of these 12 regions most affected; that happening would cast serious doubt on our model."
Something like that - they don't do it. But a bad hurricane season hits? Evidence of climate change. It's hotter than normal somewhere? Evidence of climate change. It's colder than normal? Evidence of climate change. No climate change? Well, hell, it's still evidence of climate change.
> Honest question: do you have a background in climate science or something similar?
Honest answer: A hell of a lot more than Al Gore, and 99.99% of people who strongly, passionately believe that "We need to do something!"
British weather reports are becoming dominated by flooding - there are several causes including climate change, poor location of housing, deforestation.
Ignoring climate change based on fossil-fuel emissions we still are running out of fossil fuels and need to find other secondary energy sources. If those sources are renewable then this prevents us having the same problem again in a few years when, say, Uranium reserves are depleted. We should then have an extremely strong impetus to ween ourselves off our current high levels of power consumption and to exploit to the greatest extent we can clean renewable power sources. If we do this then we also are tackling part of the cause of the [potential] greenhouse effect anyway.
If you're in a building and you smell smoke, see it in the corridors, feel warmer; you can assume that the smoke is coming in through a window from another building, or you can pull the fire alarm - there may not be sufficient evidence for either position, but some people it seems want to wait until their clothes catch fire before making their move. It would be too late.
- http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2009/11/the-coming-ur... current supplies run dry in 2013 unless new fields are found and exploited.
That's the issue. (I upvoted you btw) That the climate is going through a short period of less than stable behaviour is certainly evident. It's also evident that it's gone through such behavior in the past, with both more and less variance. There have been ice ages FFS, and that had nothing to do with man.
It seems like we are having an influence in our current whether patterns, but we simply have nowhere near the amount of data to know this beyond theory.
To say that we are - without doubt - causing the earth's climate to change when we can't predict the "change" accurately is scientifically irresponsible.
Therefore, one would expect more episodes of lower temperature (cold snaps), but also more periods of higher temps (heatwaves).
Take the issue of renewable energy. It might prevent global warming, but it also promotes energy independence, reduces pollution generally, allays fears about peak-oil or peak-coal.
Peddling the "fossil fuels will run out, we should find alternatives" line is a dangerous path. It risks a lot of very stubborn people saying "really? well, let's just find out, to the bitter end" and calling that bluff. And there is a very real possibility (even if you are skeptical and put that possibility at, say, 10% or less) that the world ends up using every last drop of coal, and far more oil than we ever thought possible, and ultimately burning 10x, 20x or more fossil fuels than have been burned so far.
I've observed groupthink / "the outside is the enemy" behaviour in several groups that I've participated in. It can be caused by one person setting the tone of the group (e.g., by making jokes), and then everyone else follows along. In this case, I could imagine a joke about skeptics, or perhaps someone misguidedly suggesting it was the group's "mission" to convince people that climate change was a big problem to be fixed.
Setting that sort of tone, especially early in the group's formation, usually quickly blossoms into an us-vs.-them mentality. Sometimes that's ok, but if you are trying to claim that you are objective, it's highly counterproductive -- and the worst part is that it's hard to realize how harmful groupthink can be when you are genuinely trying to learn something.
Anyway, if you want to reduce this effect in groups you're in, you have to have a sharp groupthink detector and you have to be fearless about saying stuff that's counter to the group's tone. I've defused groupthink situations by visibly becoming offended when I recognize that groupthink is occurring: it's usually fairly easy to explain why you're offended, and (in most kinds of groups) people usually have social pressure to stay away from discussions which will offend others. The problem is that the groupthinky memes can be fun, so you may be seen as a captain buzzkill.
This is true regardless of whether you believe in their integrity or not, and as a result they can no longer behave objectively, even if it turns out that their conclusions were reached in a thoroughly objective manner.
How can that possibly be a controversial statement?
I've never heard any allegations of cooking data or data hiding by any respected evolutionary biologist.
Edit to add another pertinent example: Choosing research subjects specifically to debunk their critics.
You can pull anything out of context and make it sound like anything.
At some point it becomes very difficult to say it's all a trap, however. If the size of the data is as large as indicated, it should be fairly trivial to determine this one way or the other.
If the discussions did proceed as indicated, this data might make a great study in how science is carried out behind closed doors, so aside from the political squawking, there could be something here of real long-term value to science. I bet you'd never get these guys to publicly admit what their internal discussions were like.
So, good luck with finding anything in that 'data' that confirms or denies anything, it's been lost so that the public doesn't get to see it.
Anything with this level of corruption in the scientific community deserves a serious amount of scepticism.
That's why I said we should wait, rather than claiming this is meaningless. This data set, if legitimate as it seems to be, is large enough to draw conclusions from, and if there are issues clearly indicated, OK, conclude away, once the data is in. I'm just not willing to conclude anything from a handful of selected quotes from a clearly biased source. And if those are the best quotes, I'm generally unimpressed.
You've lifted up the robes of the priesthood, and exposed them to be at best, flawed scientists, and at worst, social engineers. Whether this knowledge will have any effect on the truly brainwashed, we see that it doesn't, but it will have an effect on saner minds.
The marketing geniuses who turned 'global warming' into 'climate change','carbon dioxide' into 'carbon', and migrating polar bears into victims, will surely not be knocked out by this, but they're deleting emails this morning, you can be sure!
If my e-mail was hacked and out-of-context quotes were levied to take ignorant pot shots at my work, I would be beyond livid. This behavior is absolutely inappropriate and I hope the perpetrator is caught and jailed.
Of course, the email wasn't private, was it? It's a government funded (your money) institution. That actually, perversely, makes this crime even more illegal. Governments seem to have more rights than private citizens.
So, you're right, it was a crime. You're also right, I'm cheering it. But you're wrong about who is ranting. It's you who is ranting.
This justifies breaking federal law and then excising context as to leverage out-of-context statements to dishonestly support your position?
It's no wonder that climate scientists are mildly paranoid about the behavior of "deniers".
But you're wrong about who is ranting. It's you who are ranting.
You've convinced me sir. I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
The end doesn't justify the means.
Many means are justified by their ends. It's left to history to decide if the means really were justified. Some things, like Hiroshima, we still agonize over, 50 years later, whether the end justified the means. As for hacking some scientist's emails, and possibly saving hundreds of thousands or even millions of human lives by stopping a gross misallocation of resources? Yeah, I could sleep with a smile on my face on that one. No qualms about justification in my mind.
When you're a scientist looking for an informal discussion about thinking critically about the evidence and data interpretation, you'll also find plenty in there.
"Land warming since 1980 has been twice the ocean warming — and skeptics might claim that this proves that urban warming is real and important."
show me there is still room to discuss and debate the evidence.
Is there a plausible case that we cannot afford to wait?
If global warming is "wrong" but the accepted answer, pollution heavy businesses go through some inefficiencies and there's a smaller amount of pollution production.
If global warming is "right", but not accepted as something that requires response, potential existential crises ensue.
It seems like betting on a Jack-high hand with your life on the line.
If global warming is "right" we might have a problem 100 years from now with rising sea levels and different weather.
If you have the luxury to be worrying about rising sea levels 100 years from now, you haven't seen someone trying to scrape together a buck in change to buy a cheeseburger at McDonalds recently. Who do you think businesses will be cutting first when they have to make up for carbon credit costs? Hint - not from the top.
This is what people who are pro-climate change legislation sound like to me, a bunch of whiners completely over exaggerating the consequences of global warming (existential crisis? really?) while completely ignoring the real human suffering their ideas will cause in the short term.
Lets wait until we can really prove global warming is true before we jump to conclusions, because we could very well be inducing even more massive suffering on the lower class in our country who have already been squeezed very badly over the last 10+ years with stagnant wages, lost jobs, and rising healthcare costs. I haven't seen inconclusive proof in a scientific sense (we're programmers, we all know you can put garbage in and get garbage out from a computer "model" if you do it one way or another. and if they aren't showing the data they have (see the whole lost temperature data debacle) and in same cases the code for the models, what are they showing?)
Personally, I see plenty of reason to proceed with green initiatives regardless of the global climate change issue. Do I want cleaner air in cities? Yes. Legislation to reduce car emissions has already made a very noticeable impact in my own city in just a decade. Do we really want to have air like they have in China?
The same can be true of power generation. We need more power, and nuclear waste is dangerous * independently* of climate change. Coal and gas have negative impact on our air quality. Thus we are left again with green technologies for now.
I don't know if all the proposed changes intended to help climate change have other benefits like the ones I described. That would be an interesting question to have answered.
No, the fact that those greedy capitalists must be forced to do it pretty much shows that it's losing money, relative whatever else they might do with that money.
And what might those alternatives be? Why, investing in new businesses to create jobs, improving infrastructure, etc.
Really, the idea that the government is so much wiser about business and economics than the corporations, so the laws will drag us kicking and screaming into prosperity, are just absurd. The government is incompetent at managing the entire system. And Friedrich Hayek's Nobel-Prize winning work proved that this is necessarily so -- it's absolutely impossible for any centralized authority to integrate all of the distributed data about needs, priorities, resource availability, etc. Only the distributed cloud of the market can do that.
Nobody needs to convince, or legislate for, steel mills to recycle scrap iron. They do it because it's practical and it makes economic sense.
Have you not noticed how dependent we are on fossil fuels at all?
Especially when you consider that the greatest amount of effort needed will be in getting developing countries to avoid massively increasing their Carbon emissions as their economies grow. Personally I think that an affluent, say, Bangladesh capable of dealing with some of the potential negative consequences of global warming is all around a better solution than a Bangladesh which endures yet another century of poverty but avoids emitting much CO2 into the atmosphere. I imagine the Bandladeshis, and the Chinese and the Indians and the Indonesians, etc, etc, feel the same way, and it will be immensely difficult to get them to curb their growth in CO2 production, making anything the G8 does on its own to curb CO2 production completely irrelevant.
OK, in a single sentence you've managed to:
-understate the extent of the climate risk
-play the "what about the poor working class?" card, which is the Rust Belt, recession-era sequel to "but what about the children?"
-intimate, without actually proving, that reducing climate emissions will hurt the poor
-systemically dismiss any and all long-term concerns, implying that there's no point tackling larger problems if someone, somewhere, has trouble affording a cheeseburger.
None of what you've said anywhere else in this thread seems to overcome the essential weaknesses of that argument.
If we have to make sacrifices now to mitigate that risk I'm prepared to do so. I'm also prepared to pay more tax to help the less well off who lose their source of income. We've been doing it in my country for nearly a century.
We already pay more for labor, energy, environmental regulations compliance, and corporate tax in the USA than pretty much anywhere else. When you start making energy even more expensive, the economics are going to shift for the remaining factories and we're going to ship pretty much every one left in this country to somewhere they don't have cap and trade. That is going to cost a lot of blue collar jobs.
Then food will be significantly more expensive because of the increased energy costs - and not to mention they produce a lot of CO2. Who gets hit most by the cost of food? Those at the bottom or those at the top?
Everything about this is really really regressive. You are willing to "make sacrifices now", because frankly you don't have to make any sacrifices. "I'm willing to pay more tax". Wow, what a sacrifice. Might have to pass up on the next iPhone. Taxes take away discretionary income from the upper classes. Big deal. Regressionary laws that destroy blue collar jobs and make the cost of living higher for those at the bottom cause real, true, heartbreaking hardship. Get off Hacker News and go into an area like Detroit that has been hit by these problems and see what I mean. If you can't afford food and can't afford your rent and lost your job and are trying to raise kids, those are more than just little sacrifices. Honestly that is way worse than the alternative. What is going to happen if climate change comes? Sea levels will rise and some houses will be lost in most areas on the coast, and cities will have to have levies built. Is that better or worse than destroying the lives of millions of people today?
Not to mention, if you pass cap and trade you won't actually do a damn thing to help the climate. Every factory that moves offshore will be going somewhere they don't enforce these kind of laws. In fact a lot of countries you offshore to have incentives to reduce automation and increase job supply, so something that might take 1 guy here takes 4 there. Generally that is related to reduced automation and reduced technology. Which is also related to lower efficiency and higher emissions. The power plants in the US are a heck of a lot cleaner than the equivalent in a lot of the countries we are outsourcing to. And then you have the transportation emissions getting it here.
So you are talking about definitely hurting a lot of people today, and hoping that just maybe you might be able to make tomorrow better than it could turn out to be if these computer models are correct, or it might make tomorrow just as bad or worse if compliance isn't 100% globally - which it won't be.
The rest of your argument rests on a lot of mistaken labor-leftist political ideology, but I'm not interested in arguing it right now.
But I am an industrial engineer, so I know a thing or two about factories.
I'm expressing concern about my own future, and the future of others in the possible case the climate change is catastrophic.
The problems of offshoring jobs could be solved by Obama at Copenhagen if he gets China to sign up to a cap on its omissions.
I think you seriously underestimate the change and damage that will occur with climate change. There will be large effects on the natural world, on other species; species we may not be able to live without. To blow it off like oh it's just a few houses isn't very smart.
The burden of proof is on you... and the only evidence we really get is a giant appeal to authority and a billion dollars spent on commercials.
Also, if we're waiting for "proof" of the existence of global warming, I image we'll be waiting quite a while. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe it's possible to prove anything in the physical sciences. Newton's theory of gravity was believed to be correct for over two hundred years before scientists began to suspect that it was inaccurate in certain cases.
Reducing carbon emissions would mean employing engineers and professionals to upgrade much of our industrial infrastructure. More employment, not less.
Looking at the extreme edges with out an idea of probabilities is an easy way to get confused.
You have included problems (with unusual "solutions") with probabilities on hugely different magnitudes on the same list, and presumed that every problem is equally soluble.
Global warming has a reasonable probability distribution and a very feasible solution. Compare that to hostile aliens with the ability to travel from the far reaches of undetectability to Earth- the technology gulf would be impossible to overcome.
If the bible is wrong but the accepted answer, you lose a finite amount of hedonic pleasure in the near term and there are some short term benefits (smaller amount of killing/stealing/coveting).
If the bible is right, but not accepted, you will burn in hell for all eternity.
But anyway, that misses the point. The wager isn't cost-benefit analysis where probabilities and expected values are certain; it's decision making in the absence of compelling evidence. What you have essentially done is respond to the multiple claimants problem by saying, "But any form of belief in the Christian God pulls in more or less the same direction." In the uncertainty that the wager confronts, however, "reducing CO2 emissions" and "increasing CO2 emissions" have the same expected value - that is, they are equal claimants. Hence my point that the multiple claimants problem is equally devastating when the wager is applied to global warming.
Every business asks a similar question every day.
"If I decide to do A, I might make $B dollars or lose $C dollars. Is this a wise thing to do?"
We tend to think that Pascal's cost benefit analysis was flawed. That doesn't mean we should drop the principle altogether!
I'm all in favor of the rational cost benefit analysis you hint at. Most environmentalists are not - witness the reaction to Bjorn Lomborg.
I totally beat you to the punch on this one :D
That is the real problem with the whole debate. It is centered on "humans have cause climate change." If the reality is that the sun is causing climate change or, "Climate change happens in cycles," which it has since the earth formed, then the response and the path forward is very different from the ones currently proposed.
EDIT: You know, in a way, saying climate change is human responsibility is enabling us to avoid doing what we have to do now. For example, if sea levels will continue to rise for 100 years, we should stop all new coastal development. Saying humans can stop the warming and lower the sea levels allows us to keep building on the coasts. Essentially, saying, "In the future, we can stop climate change" allows us to do nothing in the present.
Imagine the difference if we knew it was not caused by humans or in fact, there is nothing we can do, the planet will continue to get hotter for 100 years, then we start building cities underground, moving civilization to the poles of the earth, inventing more heat tolerant crops, better local climate control, etc.
If it isn't caused by humans it's unlikely to be fixable by humans.
Do we even know enough about climate to know what to try and do though? Its not something I've spent a huge amount of time researching.
Also, the quote you've selected is quite obviously not the author saying, "These data can legitimately be used to prove urban warming." He's rather plainly saying that he thinks the data will be misinterpreted and so needs to be placed in its proper context. This is neither nefarious nor even the least bit notable.
Also, if anyone in this debate can be counted on to change their mind, it's the scientists: we do it all the time when shown evidence to the contrary of the current belief. I sincerely doubt that your average skeptic walking into this debate is actually willing to change their mind if shown evidence. Their mind is already made up and it won't change.
So yes, plenty of room for debate, but it needs the right mentality.
BTW, I once convinced a very creationist skeptic that evolution just might be correct in like 3 hours. How? He was willing to listen and see that there just might be an alternative explanation to the things he's seeing. He was willing to accept a different point of view and my job was to present my case. Luckily I did OK.
You're suggesting that the global warming folks would be willing to avoid politicizing? If it weren't for the policy prescriptions and other political fallout, the skeptics mostly wouldn't even care. I'm sure the vast majority of the skeptics would be willing, even eager, to drop all potential politics from the debate, but the whole reason it's important (from the viewpoint of such a skeptic!) is that it's now more about politics than science.
Are the skeptics listening to this new evidence objectively? All I hear from them is "Ah yes, that may be so, but...".
There was a move from "these are our findings" to "lets try and stop global warming". The second step requires government action. Hence, politics. If the climate change scientists had stayed in the "lets refine our findings" area then it would never be political. As soon as you say "lets get the government to do something about this", it is political.
There will always be people who question why you should expand government. And it is up to the people trying to expand the government to clearly show WHY we need to.
What are you expecting? Some people show up with their computer models and say LOOK, WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING, and no one would object? No one would look at it critically? If the science was so indisputable then the bill would be passed, just like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts were when they showed real science on pollutants.
Because it was perceived as an unassailable reason for more lawmaking and regulation, which is what politicians do, even (hypothetically) politicians with the purest motives.
I think most skeptics have moved from "what global warming?" to the more defensible "there's been global warming, but less than at other times in the historical and (especially) geological past, and starting well before the 20th century CO2 output increases, so the cause is unlikely to be primarily human industry".
This is a position, however, which is hard to generate soundbites for, so they've taken a massive hit in the public perception department, as it's hard to argue their position at less than essay length, and book length is better.
Politics only come in when people don't want the climate to change. Which is another way of saying that science only gets politicized when it discovers something with the potential of requiring political action.
A: It seems like releasing greenhouse gases has detrimental effects on the climate. We should find a way of releasing fewer greenhouse gases.
B: Nothing you say is true, and you're politicizing the debate. It will require massive government intervention to release fewer greenhouse gases!
A: Okay. But if we don't reduce greenhouse gases, these things are going to happen.
B: You're politicizing the debate!
It is critically important that the 1st debate not be influenced by the others, yet today that's not the case at all.
Climatology is an incredibly young science. It is still struggling with problems of collecting data and its theories are still immature. There is no consensus in climate modelling, there is a cacophony of competing climate models, each with their own assumptions and fudge factors, none of which have proven reliable in predicting past climate with any degree of accuracy. But this is fine, this is how science works, theories and models are tested by data, reformulated, and retested until ultimately a theory that can make predictions which prove to be backed up by data wins the day.
And yet, despite this lack of consensus in climate modelling, there is remarkable consensus among the climatology community regarding AGW. Yet neither the quality of the data nor the models backs up such a consensus. And people who express skepticism about AGW (to any degree) are frequently compared to holocaust deniers or anti-evolutionists (those exact comparisons have been made in this very comment thread).
This is what is meant by "politicizing the debate". When one cannot engage in the legitimate scientific debate without being shouted down as an unbeliever who hates the Earth or the human race.
With evolution the "there isn't enough evidence" argument is a side-show by creationists to pretend that the mountain of really very good evidence is somehow less than perfect (hint, no amount of evidence would be enough). With climatology the "there isn't enough evidence" argument is really a very solid scientific critique. We have very little data on historical climate, especially at high CO2 levels. Even the best modern data we have (from satellites and weather stations) covers only a small time frame and still requires a lot of fiddly processing to ensure its accuracy (there are still legitimate debates on what the global average temperature of the Earth was in, say, 1995, for example). The remainder of the data comes via proxy sources and tends to be incomplete or spotty. And the climate models we have today are very immature, all of them contain one or several semi-arbitrary "fudge factors" that must be determined empirically in order for them to have any accuracy. Considering that the input and output data used to calibrate these models and determine these fudge factors is in an entirely different regime than the projected climate for the remainder of the 21st century, criticisms of these models is entirely justified.
When a creationist makes an argument against the validity of evolution (even if it's "there isn't enough evidence") the correct response is "no, there's enough evidence, here's the evidence we have, and here's how it fits the theory, and here's why we have extremely high confidence in this theory". When a "global warming skeptic" says "there isn't enough evidence" the correct response is "there's more than enough evidence, let me show you the evidence and why the evidence backs a particular climate model that predicts AGW".
It is NOT "you don't know what you're talking about, we don't need to show you anything, now shut up and go away" nor is it to compare them to a young-Earth creationist. Those are ways of shutting down honest debate and they are poisonous to science.
And which side accuses the others of being greedy corporate shills while comparing them to creationists and holocaust deniers?
Here's my concession to the skeptic: let's pin a 25% credence on the risk of severe changes in sea level. I'm willing to give the skeptic 3/4 odds that I'm wrong. Now let's look at a map of human population distribution by elevation and calculate the cost of displacing all of those people. And let's look at the other long term costs and benefits from leaving our energy usage unchanged, and build our policies from there.
Incidentally, while it's marginally true that climate researchers have certain incentives and motivations of their own, it's also very, very true that there is a lot of established money which has a lot to lose if we do anything about the climate.
If you read some of the hacked emails, you realize that's exactly what McIntyre (of climate audit) was doing, and that's what the people at the research center were fighting against.
This is in stark contrast to the debate in climatology, where scientists would like data to be publicized so that they may verify the results. The first is Zeno's paradox in evolution ("here's a fossil of an intermediate species between the X and Y species", "that's nice, now show me a fossil intermediate between this one and Y", ad infinitum), the second is just plain science 101 ("we spotted a new supernova in Canopus last night", "oh really, can I see the data?").
We just choose to talk about one goalpost or the other. It's not like people are making up extra requirements of proof simply to make it harder on the other side. The only reason folks talk about each of these goalposts one at a time is just to make the conversation easier on everybody.
So yes, if you get through the "man can change the environment" hoop, which I believe, you have about a dozen other hoops to jump through, some of which I find much less plausible than others, before you get to the "we must do something now!" This is just the structure of the argument -- debating style or political trickery has little to do with it (in my mind)
-believe that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause rising sea levels, displacing hundreds of millions of people, as well as causing less predictable consequences we will be ill-prepared to respond to, but also
-not want to actually do anything to prevent it.
It's a self-contradictory argument. You're better off just convincing people that part 1 isn't true.
NOT trying to start a flame war, but I think there's a parallel here between science and Biblical criticism. In both cases, if you start with the preconception that the data has one simple and obvious message, then you will project your own biases onto it. Real analysis starts when you acknowledge that it's very difficult to tease meaning out of data that has very complex and partly unknowable context, which speaks directly to only a small number of situations, and which must be extrapolated to cover situations that have no direct analog in the data.
Yet popular science, like popular religion, must engage people by offering meaning and understanding that is accessible with much less effort. Popular science is therefore (unavoidably) guilty of encouraging blithe and simplistic interpretations of data, because that's the only way you can encourage people to think.
A lot of the excerpted emails look like this- fairly understandable examples of scorn directed to people who produce "crap criticism". You wouldn't want anyone trying to square the circle to email you to dispute your work, would you?
The science, reduced to its simplest terms, is that carbon dioxide
is known to be effective at trapping solar heat. So are water
vapor (the source of 90% of earth's natural greenhouse effect),
methane, and other gases. The natural carbon dioxide content of the
atmosphere has doubled in the last 200 years, climate is getting
warmer, so the logical conclusion is that there is a connection
between the two trends. If you feel uncomfortably warm at night and
wake up to find someone has put another blanket over you, you don't
need to look beyond that to identify the source of the warming.
* Nobody - nobody - argues with the carbon dioxide trend. It's
established beyond doubt.
* The debate over whether climate is getting warmer is mostly over.
* The debate now is over whether the connection between warming and
human emission of carbon dioxide is real, or whether there are other
causes of climate change at work.
* The real issue is whether the benefits of taking action will
outweigh the costs and regulatory burdens.
* There are some who argue that warming will be beneficial by
reducing energy demands for heating, lengthening growing seasons,
and creating larger habitable and arable territory.
The case for human-caused global warming is simultaneously a lot
clearer than George W. Bush believes, and a whole lot less so than
Al Gore does. There are legitimate questions about the data, past
climate reconstructions, and the computer modeling still to be
You can make a good case that these are just scientists blowing off steam in informal e-mails -- or you could make the case that this is evidence that scientific integrity has gone in the crapper.
I take a third view: the problem here is that people do not want to have an honest debate. This is evident by the emotional content of the emails -- "idiots", etc. If you view yourself as the annointed and people who criticize you as stupid rabble, then it becomes very, very difficult to correct course when you screw up (as you inevitably will)
Getting emotionally attached to something and viewing yourself as an expert are potentially intellectually crippling things to do, whether it's climate science or database design.
The reason they use the word "idiots" is that it is a descriptive term. Some random schmoe with an opinion is not engaged in "debate" when he questions scientific fact, and the emotional charge here is entirely due to the fact that public opinion seems to think that such entitlement is perfectly legitimate, when in point of fact it is a waste of everyone's time.
I'll do this one time, and then I have to get back to work.
Here's the deal: science is not dependent on "smarts". I can take a 4-year-old kid and we can test Newton's Laws of Motion just fine without any knowledge of algebra. In fact, the whole point about science being based on reproducible experiments is that we take appeal to authority out of the mix. If we still keep appeal to authority as a legitimate scientific tool of investigation then we might as well be studying phrenology or Lysenksoism (look it up).
Now the appropriate response is: but this isn't about science, this is about prevailing scientific opinion -- the best guess we have at what might happen. If you're prepared to go there, that's awesome, because then we're in a spot where we're talking about how political decisions get made, both inside and outside of science. But in that case, both sides are more on equal ground because the topics are all about how different groups arrive at various forms of consensus, not science.
It's when you get the two mixed up that the discussion gets really out of whack (to my lights, at least)
Here's the deal: I didn't say science is dependent on "smarts", and I rather resent the implication that I did. (I also kind of resent the implication that I would need to look up phrenology or Lysenkoism - really you pretty much come off here as a jerk.)
What I did imply, thinking that a casual reader would not need this to be spelled out explicitly, is that if I were to get to choose someone to ask about climate, I would rather ask a climatologist, who studies climate, and therefore can be expected to know something about climatology and the actual facts thereof. I personally find that a far better way to get to the facts of the matter than, say, a pundit, or a politician, or an oil baron. Perhaps you feel that pundits, politicians, and oil barons should get equal time when I want the established current models of climatology, but that's just not the way I roll.
In fact, you say exactly that, when you say that scientific opinion is a matter of political decision. Even if you're right in any one instance, you're really wrong when it comes to the ideal scientific process - and I'll still take prevailing scientific opinion over prevailing political opinion if I'm looking for something reality-based.
In fact, in the end, I'm wondering why you took your valuable time to write this comment at all.
How would you and your 4 year old go about deciding whether you believe in Quantum Electrodynamics? Would you do an experiment, or would you ask an expert?
I think it's cool that you'd go to an expert to see a reproducible experiment. I'm also going to assume that it goes without saying (could be putting words in your mouth but it seems to flow from your responses) that you'd ask a lot of questions if there was unfamiliar math or concepts and basically receive very narrowly focused training in the fields around the experiment.
It's interesting to consider the likelihood/prevalence of the casual commenters on climate change (ie the ones being referred to as idiots) reproducing the climate scientists experiments or coming up to speed on the maths/concepts behind the experiment to be able to critique the experiment in the way that an expert in the field with an opinion opposed to the prevailing thought could.
I know quite a few very vocal climate change skeptics and none of them have a science background or the willingness to attain one, and they seem very proud of that. Hopefully that's a local quirk of my small sample relative to the population.
As an aside, if you can find a set of experts with the time to spend (plus, you know, equipment and money) I'd bet a decent chunk of change that you could take the prevailing scientific opinion and ask for reproducible experiments - in this case a lot would involve analysis of data already given to explain why they want to test want they want to - then you'd end up if not agreeing with them then at seeing where they were coming from.
Hiding stuff only makes sense when your oponent is competent enough to find your mistakes and you have a vested interest in covering up your mistakes.
Defensiveness of this sort is unheplful to the legitimate pursuit of science. You can disagree with people, you can tell them bluntly "your ideas are not backed in any way by the data" (indeed, the most crushing insult in science, far more potent than a term like "idiot"), but when you defend a position merely because it's the position of the experts and ignore the data then you have stopped doing science and have engaged in either politics, religion, or both.
It's ugly. It seems likely this will derail Copenhagen, and probably destroy the political momentum for Climate Change legislation for years to come.
The sad part is that this really isn't an outcome desired by anyone who actually cares about climate change as a scientific issue. This is a political win for Big Oil, rather than resolution of the issues. Rather than refocusing the issue on the science (as desired by the true skeptics) the issue becomes politicized even further. A different team takes the lead, but the science gets left even further behind.
In any case, here's one of the emails in question:
From: Phil Jones
To: “Michael E. Mann”
Subject: IPCC & FOI
Date: Thu May 29 11:04:11 2008
Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith
re AR4? Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment
– minor family crisis.
Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I
don’t have his new email address. We will be getting
Caspar to do likewise.
I see that CA claim they discovered the 1945 problem in
the Nature paper!!
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email email@example.com
The addressee is Michael Mann, the lead author of the IPCC chapter on Climate Change. Note that even the subject line makes reference to FOI.
Better would be something like "Leaked email archive allegedly calls into question the integrity of a few climate scientists". Better still would be "62MB of climate science emails leaked; here are some alarming quotations" or something.
I disagree. If they are not following the scientific method, but fudging their data to agree with their pre-determined conclusions, they are not scientists.
2. I appreciate the rhetorical point you're making, but I prefer to distinguish between "not a scientist", "bad scientist" and "evildoing scientist". (But I do agree that if someone's found to have been falsifying results, whatever scientific work they've done is of little use to anyone unless there's some reliable way to disentangle the fraudulent and non-fraudulent bits.)
I earlier submitted a parallel article with pretty much the title that you suggested, and it went nowhere:
Leaked FOIA files 62 mb of gold
Climate News: Hadley CRU hacked with release of hundreds of docs and emails
Sadly that is what happens when you put people in a tough spot in terms of public relations, public relations concerns start to take over everything.
To pick out just one quote: In what way is comment moderation on RealClimate problematic?
They often claim to be able to explain, or even to have predicted, the recent cooler years by weather patterns etc., yet here they don't seem to believe their own explanations.
"I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline."
I have often seen people use "trick" meaning "useful change" and "hide" meaning "doesn't show incorrect results". Without context there is no way to tell. Such a statement is somewhat worrying, but not exactly blatant in any way.
> Scientists often use the term "trick" to refer to a "a good way to deal with a problem", rather than something that is "secret", and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the "divergence problem" - see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.
The volume of leaked correspondence does begin to form a context, but before the heavy and severe claim of scientific misconduct is really substantiated it's going to require scientific analysis of the fault. Cherrypicked quotes appearing on a news site is often known as researcher bias and it's just as big a flaw.
I have no doubt that this is exactly what the author meant by "hide". That doesn't mean that it was a good idea.
If something is both Important and True, then the fact that the current data seems not to show the truth clearly might be thought a good reason to fix it. I mean, it's not like other people have to do this -- we can assume that everyone else's results are straight, so that means that there's something wrong with the data, and we can just fix that up so that it provides the correct correlation with what we already know is true...
Sure, it looks like it's pretty damning. But what is the context, and what did he actually do?
"RealClimate.org - A supposed neutral climate change website"
How is it neutral when these particular guys are running it? In addition, they're giving other people heads up that they can censor the material!
The quote is: "Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC [RealClimate.org - A supposed neutral climate change website] Rein any way you think would be helpful.".
[edit: to be clear, I never visited RC before, I don't know how they cover or are supposed to cover the debate over climate change]
For example: As we all know, this isn't about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations.
Well, whose fault is that it's not about truth but about perception. Of course it is the fault of those very well funded pressure groups who represent the vested interests of CO2 emission.
The bottom line is that the real science happens in labs and in scientific journals, and the climate change debate is perforce dominated by people who have never been closer to the science than reading a book or article written by somebody with an agenda who talked to a few scientists who keep up with the climate change literature. (That's the only way the debate can be open and democratic.) That's the closest people get to the science, but scientists are forced to deal with their questions and complaints and flights of fantasy anyway. Of course scientists don't sound very scientific when they're forced to do this job, because it isn't science.
It also fits if you read this as a take on the attacks the climate scientists are facing, not on their own case. There's just not enough context in the article to determine exactly what these correspondents mean by the snippets quoted from what they've written.
Climate scientists that produce polarizing studies - either the world is freezing or boiling (mostly the latter) get fame, fortune, respect from colleagues and huge grants to further their groundbreaking research. They are more incentivised to create a wow factor than to be rigorous and subjective with the data.
Examiners are paid based on page views, or the "Gawker-model," made famous by the blog Gawker.com. The more page views an Examiner generates, the more they are reportedly paid.
The relevant link is: http://www.examiner.com/assets/examinerfaq.html (under, "Will I be compensated?")
I attempted to update the Wikipedia page, but found that the examiner.com domain is blacklisted in WP -- page edits don't allow links to anything in examiner.com.
So! Mystery solved, and it'll stay uncited because I'm not about to set aside a bunch of paid projects to take on the bureaucracy that is Wikipedia.
The oft-made claim about the non-availability of the climate model data can be proven false by visiting:
http://www-pcmdi.llnl.gov/ipcc/about_ipcc.php - contains all the models used in the IPCC AR4
http://tamino.wordpress.com/climate-data-links/ - contains a huge amount of climate data.
Of course, all this data is extremely complex, but it cannot be claimed that it is unavailable.
Examiner.com seems to be owned by Clarity Digital Group who are in turn owned by the Anschutz Company. The primary business of the Anschutz Company appears to be "Support Activities for Oil and Gas Operations".
http://dnb.powerprofiles.com/profile/874831126/ANSCHUTZ+COMP.... http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/sn.... http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/The-Anschut...
if you look at the other articles of the author, tony hake, you will see they invariably fall into the "climate change skeptic" realm. maybe that's fine, maybe not. the warning is simply: wait for verification before jumping to any conclusions.
Perhaps that was a low blow.
If there's a better place to get/post it, please advise.
If you think that Saiers is in the greenhouse skeptics
camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this,
we could go through official AGU channels to get him ousted.