I want to believe

Do you ever argue a position hoping you’re wrong, that someone will provide the killer argument to change your reluctant opinion?

I asked that on Twitter and somebody pointed out that they’re ALWAYS hoping to be proven wrong on climate change.

Well, me too.

Which, if you think about it, is even more damning of the so-called “skeptics”. Most of us arguing that since the science is fairly clear our governments should probably take some steps to mitigate the likely damage to the only inhabitable planet we know of, would love it if we didn’t have to. If the devastating predictions of destruction or worse were not going to eventuate.

And yet, despite our desperation to believe them, the skeptics have been so utterly unconvincing that no matter how much we’d like to, we can’t bring ourselves to believe their sadly implausible claims. Every time they run an obviously stupid political line it makes us take them less seriously. Every time they rely on distorted data and fatuous arguments (hey, it can’t be warming if it’s no hotter this year than the cyclic hot point of 1998!) it drives us further away. No matter how much we’d rather embrace their cheerful confidence.

I WANT THEM TO BE RIGHT!

But at the moment it feels like faking a belief in God just because you want there to be life after death.

Seriously, global warming skeptics. If you’ve got a killer case to make, please start making it. Please, let me share your blind faith that no matter what we do, it’ll somehow all be okay.

I WANT TO BELIEVE.

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39 responses to “I want to believe

  1. If it makes you feel any better Jez they’re probably a little bit right.

    They’re clearly talking out their arse when they decry AGW as a global conspiracy of communists trying to form world government based on a deliberate lie, but they’re probably not entirely wrong when they attack the AGW ‘movement’ for excessive fear-mongering and exaggeration.

    The world is warming and we are the cause, but I suspect things aren’t going to be nearly as bad as some of the carpetbaggers and media shills would have us believe.

  2. Mondo, there are inaccurate and emotive adherents to AGW, but it’s like pointing at Socialist Alternative kidlets and saying that their naivete` means the Greens are unconnected to reality or treating the Young Libs whackier proposals as representative of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Liberal Party.

    *IF* AGW proves to be an accurate (and not just highly likely) theory then the effects will be far-reaching, complex, and very much tied to the local circumstances. It’s a bugger of a thing to model, and an even bigger bugger of a thing to present to mass audiences as “the” outcome of AGW.

    The other problem is opponents of AGW, because they (for the most part) reject that any warming is happening, are unable to present SOBER counter-scenarios.

  3. Splatterbottom

    It is the climate alarmists that want you to believe. The sceptics want you to be rational, questioning and critical.

    One overriding reason to be sceptical is that the proponents of the alarmist scenario have not, and will not, open up their research to critical scrutiny.

    They say they would rather destroy data than hand it over for critical scrutiny. They will not explain the adjustments they make to the raw data, or allow those adjustments to be checked. When the hockey stick was reverse engineered, it was shown to be based on a fallacy.

    Now, given that we have no reason to be confident of the basic data – the temperature series that purports to demonstrate steadily increasing temperature it is hard to take the claims seriously.

    And given that the most compelling evidence in favour of AGW, the hockey stick graph, the thing that initially convinced me that AGW was happening, is discredited, it is entirely appropriate to be sceptical.

    The real question is why apparently sentient beings believe so passionately in AGW? It can’t be logic. If anyone has a logical case to demonstrate that AGW is happening please let me know.

  4. so leaving aside wants and desires, do you devote equal reading time to both sides of the argument?

  5. If anyone has a logical case to demonstrate that AGW is happening please let me know.

    SB – This statement of yours is effectively nonsensical. What you are demanding above is proof that AGW is happening.

    AGW theory is entirely logical. It can be reproduced on small scales, and the very basic reasoning that underpins it is both simple and straightforward. The fact that it hasn’t been proved yet is certainly open to debate, but to claim that the theory itself is illogical is an absurd proposition.

  6. zaratoothbrush

    Everything, absolutely everything SB just said, is bullshit, complete bullshit. There’s no point explaining why, because, well, SB is a MAJOR ratbag, and there’s just no way he’s going to pay serious, honest attention. But seriously, if anybody feels inclined to repeat the “Hockey Stick discredited” lie elsewhere just because they read it here, please, please think again.

  7. Hockey Stick hasn’t been discredited, BTW SB. A lot of enquiries have been undertaken and have failed to dispute the basic validity, although they have queried the timescale over which it applies.

    And can you point to a few examples of raw scientific which continues to be withheld to date?

    (And please don’t try CRU, the customised, commercially purchased datasets were developed from publically available data).

  8. Splatterbottom

    Karl, I read widely on this. Almost everything I read in the MSM is pro-alarmist. I read Deltoid, and for a laugh sometimes Realclimate and Stoat (Connolley is so completely over the top he has had his Wikipedia privileges revoked for unreasonable bias). I’ve read both Flannery’s and Plimer’s books. What is your approach to reading in this area?

    Mondo: “It can be reproduced on small scales, “ WTF? Do you mean small scales like short time-frames, or little planets or on fish? I really don’t get your point here.

    Zara, your reference to what is probably the most biased of the alarmist blogs, Realclimate, is bad enough, but to quote from a 2004 article, before the enquiries which discredited the Hockey Stick is, even for you, disreputable. Hell, in 2004, even I believed in the Hockey Stick.

    RR the fact is that principle component analysis which underpins the Hockey Stick was discredited as an inappropriate methodology in this case. It will give you a hockey stick even if you feed white noise into that model.

    CRU are a scream. Their excuse is that the dog ate their raw data sets. Apparently they didn’t retain them, and so can’t produce them. I guess we will just have to trust them then eh? I mean they were only the custodians who produced data on which almost everyone else relied.

  9. What I mean, SB, is that Greenhouse theory is relatively straightforward and logical. If we release massive quantities of a greenhouse gas into the Earth’s atmosphere it is quite logical to predict that it will heat the world. This effect can easily be reproduced on smaller scales, like in a greenhouse.

    The theory of evolution is similar in this regard, in that it is a very simple theory that can be reproduced on small scales using gnats etc. These experiments are obviously not conclusive proof that the theory of evolution explains all species variation throughout the natural world, but they certainly do (at the very least) support an assertion that the theory is logical.

    Come on, admit that what you’re demanding is not an explanation of the ‘logic’ behind AGW theory, but proof that the theory is in fact playing out in the real world.

  10. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, a greenhouse is very different to a planet. At best it is simplistic analogy.

    The way I see it you need to show that there is significant warming going on, that that warming is outside normal variation and that it is caused by human CO2 emissions.

    None of those has been reasonably demonstrated, let alone all of them.

    Additionally, before you attempt the quixotic task of getting all major emitters to reduce their emissions, you would need to exclude any possibility of lowering the temperature by direct means which would not require and impossible consensus.

  11. jordanrastrick

    SB, just a question to clarify, since it seems pretty obvious to me you hold your beliefs on climate change with substantially more intellectual rigour and honesty than is typical of most of the anti-AGW commentariat.

    Wikipedia breaks down the (small and diminising) group of respectable scientists who have serious problems with the IPCC consensus into what I think are 5 quite useful categories. I’m curious where exactly your own beliefs lie:

    1) There is no consistent trend of a rapid (on planetary timescales) increase in global temperature, i.e. the Globe is not Warming

    2) The globe is warming, but the IPCC and other’s can’t accurately predict how much warming will occur due to the immaturity of their models, and so is silly to act in the face of this large uncertainty.

    3) The globe is warming, but the causes are primarily or entirely natural (as in, would be occuring the absence of any anthorpogenic factors.)

    4) The globe is warming, but it is too scientifically difficult at this point in time to distinguish to where the causation lies.

    5) The globe is warming, but the consequences of a hotter climate are less negative than the mainstream (i.e. IPCC, not Greenpeace et al) makes out, and in fact may be neutral or even positive overall for human and environmental welfare.

    I won’t bother listing further “dissenting” categories in the debate such as belief that AGW is real and serious but needs to be dealt with in ways other than restricting emissions, since I’m pretty sure you must more or less hold at least one of 1-5 judging from your stated views.

  12. Just to summarise, what we see today is:

    1. A relatively sound (but unproven) scientific theory, backed by almost all specialists in climate science, predicting that carbon emissions will heat the world; and

    2. Clear evidence that the world has, in fact, warmed over at least the last few decades at the same time as human carbon emissions have increased dramatically.

    Now correlation does not equal causation, obviously, and in the absence of the hockey stick (proving that the warming is unprecedented) the evidence is less conclusive than it otherwise woud be.

    But to label those concluding that the two events are probably related as ‘illogical’ or as somehow lacking sentience is, once again, a patently absurd and hysterical position.

    SB, your tendency to abusive hyperbole has sabotaged your ability to think clearly and rationally, as indeed it often does.

  13. I think some people just find science too powerful, too far beyond their understanding, too intimidating. So they choose to believe that by listening some crackpots and reading some blogs they suddenly know more than all the bigheads who spent decades of work knowing what they know. They choose to believe that science is some ivory tower nonsense that has no bearing on reality, and any schmo sitting at home can somehow match the combined knoweldge of the international scientific community.

    Power regained. Penis justified.

    I don’t see much Theory-of-Relativity denialism. I don’t see people reading about the “controversies” in particle physics (there are many disagreements and grey areas – as in all real science) on some blogs and suddenly deciding they know more than the scientists involved.

    Strangely, people only seem to have an opinion when the science is such that it threatens the status quo of people with a lot of money…

    At what point to the denialists realise they’ve been cynically played for suckers?

  14. Splatterbottom

    Jordan: “1) There is no consistent trend of a rapid (on planetary timescales) increase in global temperature, i.e. the Globe is not Warming”

    I have no concluded view on any of this.

    It seems to me that it is hot now like in the thirties, though not quite as hot as the Medieval climate optimum. It was hot in the 1930s, then it cooled a bit to the 60s (even though Carbon emissions dramatically increased over that time) and since then it has been warming a bit.

    On a longer scale the Medieval climate optimum was followed by the little ice age, and since the Maunder minimum it has been slowly getting warmer, to the point where we have almost got back to the temperatures of Medieval climate optimum.

    “2) The globe is warming, but the IPCC and other’s can’t accurately predict how much warming will occur due to the immaturity of their models, and so is silly to act in the face of this large uncertainty.”

    The globe might be warming. The models are dubious at best. If we are going to act, we should think long and hard about what action we should take. It is certainly pointless to act without the major emitters on board, and would be well worth seriously investigating options for mitigation. Paying money to corrupt third world governments seems insane to me.

    “3) The globe is warming, but the causes are primarily or entirely natural (as in, would be occurring the absence of any anthropogenic factors.)”

    See comments in (1) above. It seems as likely as not that the cause is non-anthropogenic. This is why the hockey stick is so persuasive, and it is so important to examine it closely. The authors of it actually had to be subpoenaed to get the details of their model out of them so it could be checked. It was then found wanting.

    “4) The globe is warming, but it is too scientifically difficult at this point in time to distinguish to where the causation lies.”

    Probably warming a bit. No real evidence as to why.

    “5) The globe is warming, but the consequences of a hotter climate are less negative than the mainstream (i.e. IPCC, not Greenpeace et al) makes out, and in fact may be neutral or even positive overall for human and environmental welfare.”

    Medieval climate was called an optimum because humans thrived in it. This is probably a less relevant factor these days because technology has made us more adaptable.

    Mondo, I don’t think the theory is sound. When you get into the disputes about warming, there is a lot of arguments about how you draw the lines on the graph, how you merge the instrumental record with the proxies used for past periods etc. Also, the amount of variation is so damn small, fractions of a degree over the planet, year on year.

    One issue with the warming of the last 30 odd years is that the previous 30 odd years had rapid CO2 increases, but a slight cooling trend. Correlation and causation and all that.

    “But to label those concluding that the two events are probably related as ‘illogical’ … “ Actually such conclusions are the very definition of illogical

  15. Less the dog ate than they did not feel they had the authority to distribute commercially provided data, SB.

    And discredited by who? Did these criticisms stand later examination? Has the raw data underlying the models changed at all in the intervening time? Have the methodologies been improved or changed since the initial study?

    Science doesn’t work by discrediting papers, it works by disproving them. Has this happeneed? Doesn’t appear to have been done conculsively to date.

    However, I’m rarely

  16. … convinced by your logic at the best of times, and this doens’t appear to be the post which will change that average.

  17. What a shock. Ol’ open-minded SB is an AGW-denier. That’s virtually the full showbag of right-wing beliefs you’ve got there.

    The real question is why apparently sentient beings believe so passionately in AGW? It can’t be logic. If anyone has a logical case to demonstrate that AGW is happening please let me know.

    I’m inclined to think that a virtually complete consensus of scientific experts on AGW theory is a sensible reason to accept it. Seriously, what is the case for not accepting AGW theory in the face of consensus for it among all scientific experts, not to mention governments and major scientific organisations worldwide? What would be logical about not accepting AGW theory in the face of that?

    smellyterror: I think some people just find science too powerful, too far beyond their understanding, too intimidating. So they choose to believe that by listening some crackpots and reading some blogs they suddenly know more than all the bigheads who spent decades of work knowing what they know. They choose to believe that science is some ivory tower nonsense that has no bearing on reality, and any schmo sitting at home can somehow match the combined knoweldge of the international scientific community.

    I think you are on to something. I’m constantly staggered by the level of ego and deceit required to come to the view that doing a bit of reading on the subject compares to a lifetime devoted to the professional study of something, to actual expertise. But to some of the more self-satisfied right-wingers out there, there’s no such thing as experts. Experts are just elites to be hated. An expert’s opinion on AGW is worth no more than Ian Plimer’s.

  18. One issue with the warming of the last 30 odd years is that the previous 30 odd years had rapid CO2 increases, but a slight cooling trend.

    And if you just look at the last 20 minutes a severe cooling trend exists.

    SB – be serious. If you can produce a single graph of global surface temperatures that does not show a clear and increasing warming trend in the past 100 years then do so.

    I’ve just done a quick google search and there are literally hundreds of results showing that the world is warming at an increasing rate. Graphs that show a very clear correlation between our CO2 output and global temperature.

    To deny it is, well, it’s unbelievable.

  19. For those less divorced from reality than SB, here is the latest NASA plot of average global surface temperature.

    To look at that and not see an obvious and increasing warming trend corresponding to our increased carbon output over the past century requires monumental recalcitrance and incredible intellectual dishonesty.

    Two attributes that SB has recently been demonstrating in spades.

  20. Damn HTML. The address is:

  21. Splatterbottom

    RR: “Less the dog ate than they did not feel they had the authority to distribute commercially provided data”

    Jones’ stated reason was that he didn’t see why he should give data to people who would use it to prove him wrong!

    But the more critical point is that if the data cannot be produced for checking then it, and the conclusions derived from it, should be treated sceptically. If people are demanding to divert trillions of dollars from the world economy, they should allow their work to be subject tot he most rigorous scrutiny. The fact is that the data was made available for like-minded scientists without any whimpers about commercial confidentiality.

    The commercial-in-confidence argument is transparently dishonest it invites scepticism. There are any number of ways it can be addressed other than withholding the data from only those people who might use it to check your work.

    Buns: “Ol’ open-minded SB is an AGW-denier.”

    Of course I’m not, but expecting honesty or accuracy from your slag-heap of a mind is probably a bridge too far.

    Mondo, the long term warming trend has been going on since the end of the Maunder Minimum in the late 1600s, long before CO2 levels could have had any impact.

    Even if it seems perfectly reasonable to you, it seems odd to me that you could have a 30 year period after 1940 when it cooled slightly, notwithstanding massive growth in CO2 emissions. I agree that a 20 minute period is too short, but a 30 year period should be enough to give a warming trend if CO2 is the cause.

    Mondo, while you are googling you should have a look at the graph from the 1990 IPCC Report which clearly shows a warmer Medieval Warm Period, decreasing temperature to the mid 1600s and a long warming trend thereafter. Take your partisan hat off and have a think about it. (I should note that the IPCC view changed in the 2001 Report after the now-discredited hockey stick appeared.)

    Now, my simple point is that there is a lot of room for scepticism in the way this process has been managed. The most serious issue is the openness of the process and the availability of data. Scientific disputes often carry on for a long time, but if this is to be resolved quickly, it is better to have all the data and all the methods that have been applied to the data out into the open.

    My natural reaction to those who want to bleat at me that “the science is settled” when it hasn’t been subject to rigorous scrutiny, and when it has been deliberately kept from those who want to check it, is a high degree of scepticism. This is particularly so, because Al Gore fooled me once with his Hockey Stick graph and emotive charts and pictures.

  22. Mondo, the long term warming trend has been going on since the end of the Maunder Minimum in the late 1600s, long before CO2 levels could have had any impact.

    SB – all I have said above is that we’re seeing warming at an increased rate during the 20th century and that this observation is consistent with AGW theory. That’s it.

    I haven’t claimed that this proves AGW theory (in fact I said the opposite), I haven’t tried to deny the existence of warming at any other time in the history of man and I haven’t defended the hockey stick. All I have done is point out the (relatively) indisputable fact that our actual temperature records show an increasingly warming world in recent human history.

    And how did you respond? You cherry picked the temperature records between 1950 and 1975 and noted a slight cooling trend. You couldn’t even bring yourself to agree that actual global temperature records show that our world is currently heating!

    I am a genuine sceptic SB. I am regularly attacked on other Lefty sites for deriding the hysterical predictions of the AGW movement (hell, redravens above – albeit in a perfectly friendly and acceptable way – took me to task on the same basis) and I am quite literally enraged by the plainly ludicrous doomsday predictions made by carpetbagger pseudo-scientists and the idiotic and sensationalist reporting of this issue by our pathetic media.

    But I am not so arrogant and self-important as to deny basic and observable scientific fact, i.e. that our world is currently warming at an increasing rate.

    To actually deride that observation, as you seem to have done above, is to behave as a true denialist. Refusing to even accept that which is plain, uncontested and observable fact is real head-in-the sand ideological stupidity.

    Attacking AGW theory as illogical (rather than merely unproved), and its supporters as lacking sentience (!?) is nothing more than partisan idiocy. You’re capable of better, even if you’re not generally predisposed to it.

  23. Mondo, As I said, it’s a bugger of a thing to model, and scientists WILL get it wrong on occasion. However, scientists will usually cover their arse by making plain the provisionailty of their conclusions. For example, the original title of the “Hockey Stick” study was actually: “Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations”

    Non-scientists, especially professional ideologues with their own side-agendas, will then take provisional, qualified opinions and run away with them. Is there a subset of anti-indstrialists in the Green and AGW movements? Only idiots would deny it. Do they represent the only or even dominant membership of these movements? Only the intellectually bankrupt would claim it unequivocally. Or the OO.

  24. Non-scientists, especially professional ideologues with their own side-agendas, will then take provisional, qualified opinions and run away with them.

    I couldn’t agree more red, although I would add to that list the media (who love to cherry-pick the most sensationalist claims and run with them).

    But you’re also right, of course, to note that dismissing all AGW theorists as cranks, green ideologues and anti-industrialists is as clear a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater as there could be.

  25. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “But I am not so arrogant and self-important as to deny basic and observable scientific fact, i.e. that our world is currently warming at an increasing rate.”

    I didn’t deny it either, but I have seen that many graphs and charts sliced and diced for different purposes that I am a bit dubious about jumping to any conclusions about them. What I did do was add a bit of context which would make me hesitant to jump to conclusions. I did say that there was a along term trend in towards increased temperature.

    As to the rate of increase of temperature, AGW supporter Phil Jones has said that from 1995 to 2010 there has been no statistically-significant global warming.

    I did say I can’t see why apparently sentient beings believe so passionately in AGW. I still can’t. If you look carefully at the method and arguments, a healthy dose of scepticism is the best option.

  26. jordanrastrick

    The interesting thing about AGW from the “nutbag anti-civilisation Green” angle is that the broader issue *is* fracturing the environmentalist movement a little, but in precisely the wrong way for SB’s argument to work.

    Increasingly, various sober, scientifically minded types in green movements consider AGW a serious enough threat that they would like to see the use of Nuclear, Hydro and Wind, despite the risks associated with waste, loss of valley ecosystems, and yes, even disruption to bird migratory patterns. They’re pro high-density urban development, since it yields such serious gains in energy efficiency. To the stereotypical “nutbag Green”, these can be almost heretical views.

    The most prominent are probably:

    Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who now runs a splinter group that is pro-nuclear on the grounds of combating climate change: http://www.greenspirit.com/

    Stewart Brand, author of the renowned Whole Earth Catalogue, and more recently Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.

    James Lovelock, orginator of the Gaia Hypothesis.

  27. jordanrastrick

    Actually, it appears Lovelock is an hysteric on Global Warming, so his views should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. There are quite a few other well known names that could be added to the list, though.

  28. I’m shifting somewhat in the direction of Nuclear, provided that it works out on an economic level (taking into account all the long term storage mining, transport and security costs which it entails). Haven’t yet heard a knockdown case for it, despite the consistent appeals from industry types like Ziggy Switkowski or Hugh Morgan.

  29. Splatterbottom

    Conventional nuclear is too risky at the moment. The proliferation risk is already coming home to roost. More work needs to be done on fusion or thorium reactors.

  30. jordanrastrick

    To me, redravens, the biggest “knockout” argument in favour of Nuclear is the following (all figures sourced from Wikipedia):

    In 2003 Australia’s energy consumption was 240 GJ per capita. Let’s generously assume that with efficiency gains and lifestyle changes, people can live to within a decent approximation of our quality of life with say 75% of that – 180 GJ per capita.

    Globally, a conservative estimate for global peak population (which assumes we encourage female education, family planning and other fertility depressing measures in poorer nations) is probably 9 billion people.

    In 2008 global production of energy was 475 exajoules (1 exajoule = 10^18 joules). To provide our modest projected world population with our modest percentage of current Western levels of consumption, we’ll need a total of 180 GJ * 9 * 10^9 = 1620 exajoules. Almost 4 times current production.

    Forget about dealing with existing carbon emissions for a minute. Even assuming we keep our current power infrastrucutre as is, where are the extra 1145 extrajoules per annum coming from?

    In more ordinary units of power, that’s around 36,000 GW. To generate that from renewable sources alone, we’d need:

    * 720,000 square kilometers of desert given over to eSolar’s ground breaking Concerated Solar Thermal design. That’s nearly all of the Sahara.

    or,

    * Something like 40 times as much hydroelectricity as the current global supply. Good luck finding enough valleys to flood for that…

    or,

    * Well, I can’t find reliable enough figures on Wind to make a simliar comparison. And I think it should be abundantly obvious that there just isn’t this much geothermal to go around without crunching the numbers. Details are left as an optional exercise for the reader..

    These numbers are at least an order of magnitude beyond what’s feasible. We can reasonably expect renewable technology to have further efficiency gains, but not to this exponential degree.

    Whereas known reserves of uranium are more than sufficient with current technology alone to last until, well, it should be reasonable to expect viability of solar panels in space.

    The world needs either nuclear or fossil fuels over the medium term; there’s no way to escape it. I prefer the former.

  31. As to the rate of increase of temperature, AGW supporter Phil Jones has said that from 1995 to 2010 there has been no statistically-significant global warming. – SB

    This is a statement of pure belief – it hasn’t a scintilla of logic, reason, or fact to back it up. And it’s the perfect example of why the so-called ‘sceptics# are anything but. When it comes to any anti-AGW statement they are 100% credulous.

    Jones’s carefully worded statement (but nothing can stop those looking to misrepresent) was a simple expression of statistical fact – that over a short enough time period you will find it much harder to make claims about statisitical significance.

    The mendacious spin this as some kind of admission that there is no statistically significant warming at all. The stupidly credeulous just repeat it.

    Even more sadly for the cretins that repeat this drivel, the same calcualtions now give a statistically significant warming for the period from 1995.

    Will SB now grasp onto this with the same desperation that he clung to his mis-understanding of Jones’s statement?

    Anyone want to lay odds?

  32. Splatterbottom

    So what is your spin on that statement, ‘Gadj?

    Mondo was certain that the world is warming. While that is relatively uncontroversial in the period from the end of the Little Ice Age until now, drawing conclusions from that fact is complicated, as Jones’ statement shows. There are a lot of ups and downs along the way, and we don’t really know when the warming will end.

  33. Mondo was certain that the world is warming.

    Um, the world is warming. Look at the NASA graph again if you have trouble accepting this basic fact.

    Even more sadly for the cretins that repeat this drivel, the same calcualtions now give a statistically significant warming for the period from 1995.

    Well there you go. If true, that pretty much ends it.

    Now can we move on to the far more relevant and important discussion of what the current warming trend means for the world and what (if anything) should be done about it?

  34. jordanrastrick

    Mondo was certain that the world is warming. While that is relatively uncontroversial in the period from the end of the Little Ice Age until now,

    So yes, we’re all agreed, the world is in fact currently warming.

    drawing conclusions from that fact is complicated,

    It surely is! The science of climate change is non trivial. Very non trivial!

    as Jones’ statement shows.

    In fact, as Jones’ entire interview shows. Despite constant attacks on their “religious dogmatism”, irrationality, lack of due skepticism etc., most climate scientists including prominent ones such as Jones are fully aware of and openly discuss the many difficulties and uncertainties in their research, as any good scientist does.

    There are a lot of ups and downs along the way, and we don’t really know when the warming will end.

    True! We don’t know when the warming will end. We’re not certain what role each of the forcing factors play, we can’t model the various positive and negative feedback effects with very much accuracy, and we don’t know with any exactness where the system’s critical equilibria (with respect to surface temperature, ocean currents, ice cover albedo etc) might lie, or whether they are stable or unstable.

    But a preponderance of evidence suggests that

    A) The planet has been getting hotter in recent history, beyond pretty much any reasonable doubt.

    B) It appears to be getting hotter a lot more quickly than it has at nearly any stage in the Earth’s history (arguments about different temperatures 600 or 2 million years ago miss that it is the rate of change that is concerning.

    C) Anthropogenic factors are the best explanation we currently have for the (primary) cause of B). Not the only possible explanation, nor 100% guaranteed to be the best explanation. But definitely the best.

    The anti-AGW arguments, including as far as I understand them yours SB, mainly seem to rest on a kind of general fallacy that Katja Grace has blogged about today on Meteuphoric. Namely, there is a lot of uncertainty and difficulty in our current best efforts to measure some thing X. In this case, say X is the expected loss of global human welfare if we continue to emit carbon. Because of the uncertainty, the argument goes, we should act as if we can’t estimate or measure X at all, by essentially ignoring its existence.

    Will carbon emissions have serious negative consequences? Maybe, but because we’re can’t be especially sure of the probability or magnitude of the problem, we should take no action on the issue, apparently. Which implicitly is the same thing as estimating the probability or the magnitude as zero, which is a far more overconfident, dogmatic and irrational course of action than what any climate scientists has ever advocated (even the ones who are clueless about economics); it just doesn’t look that way because the view hides behind the umbrella of skepticism.

    The same kind of lousy reasoning gets trotted out all the time in all kinds of other contexts. E.g. education: standardised testing is a pretty lousy measure of many aspects of student/teacher performance, as most honest experts would admit, so we should thus it seems have no measurement at all and just give teachers freedom to do as they see fit – i.e. make shit up as they go along, with no idea if it works or is in fact actively harmful.

    In fact, we should always act on the best estimates we have for all the complex and uncertain variables in the world at any given time. And our best current estimate is that our growing carbon emissions are quite bad, and we need to reduce them, with a view to eliminating them altogether if the always improving scientific evidence continues to make the situation look worse than we’d thought (as it has been doing for years now).

  35. SB,

    There is no ‘spin’, it was a perfectly straightfoward point that Jones was making – statisial significance is heavily dependant, from a climate POV, on the time period involved. Shorter times spans make it much harder to claim SS and when we’re talking about climate we need to look over an appropriate time span.

    Jones spent some time in that interview trying to make that clear, but there is no stopping those who wilfully misconstrue.

    This does point to one of the problems in the public debate – the lack of scientific/statistical understanding amongst the general public which leads to lots of very silly claims. Like this one. Stats aren’t a yes/no proposition. So when Jones said that the warming wasn’t SS since 95, that absolutely does not mean that there has been no warming, or that it is definitely not anthropogenic. Statistical tests aren’t an answer, but a tool for understanding. So, when Jones explained that, even though the time span since since 95 was a bit short, the fact that observed warming came very very close to statistical significance at the 95% confidence level, we should pay it very close attention. Conversly, just because it is SS, that doesn’t mean the result isn’t just due to coincidence.

  36. Having a read back over SB’s earlier posts, it really is a cornucopia of nonsense.

    He’s ‘read widely’ yet manages to only reproduce talking points from blogs and demonstrates almost no knowledge of the science and where he superfically delves into it, mangles it beyond all recognition.

    He thinks that “the HS” is the single most compelling piece of evidence for AGW, without seeming to realise that that this particular study was just one amongst many that produce ‘hockey-sticks’.

    He then gets it all wrong on the CRU and their data, once again parroting blogs.

    Finally, NASA scientists making themselves available to take direct questions from the public, that’s just “biased…..alarmist blogs”.

    Ah, the climate ‘skeptics’! They remind me of that old computing saying – constants aren’t and variables won’t.

  37. Splatterbottom

    ‘Gadj: “Having a read back over SB’s earlier posts, it really is a cornucopia of nonsense.”

    I was trying to make one basic point, namely that:

    One overriding reason to be sceptical is that the proponents of the alarmist scenario have not, and will not, open up their research to critical scrutiny.

    As for the rest of your rant – that really isn’t relevant to the point I was making.

  38. More utter nonsense.
    It’s all published in journals.

    A huge amount of the data is also freely available on public access sites (or in the case of the IPCC, all freely available to the public).

    In fact, the access to data in the area of climate science is quite remarkable compared to other areas of research.

    I call them the ‘data whiners’. Endless bleating about the data, but what do they do with the access they have – SFA. Which is the whole point of course – not to do something constructive, but to make a racket about something, anything.

  39. And being factually wrong is not relevant to your point?

    Well, I find that completely consistent with the general approach of the ‘skeptics’.

    Though, as a matter of principle, real sceptics would be given pause for thought by the discovery that their opinions are in direct conflict with objective reality.

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