Vested Ideologies

Paul Krugman’s column this morning is, once again, on the urgent need for action to cope with climate change. He attributes our dilatory response to a combination of low attention span by which I gather he means the preference for dealing with quotidian problems over long-term ones, vested interests, and vested ideas:

Nor is it just a matter of vested interests. It’s also a matter of vested ideas. For three decades the dominant political ideology in America has extolled private enterprise and denigrated government, but climate change is a problem that can only be addressed through government action. And rather than concede the limits of their philosophy, many on the right have chosen to deny that the problem exists.

Dr. Krugman then succeeds in tying himself into a pretzel by simultaneously attacking the prioritization of near-term problems first and defending the Obama Administration’s focus on healthcare reform:

I’m not, by the way, saying that the Obama administration was wrong to push health care first. It was necessary to show voters a tangible achievement before next November. But climate change legislation had better be next.

The best I think that can be said for that is that it’s incoherent.

As I’ve said here before in my few remarks on climate change, an area in which I feel that I have insufficient expertise to comment with confidence (an impulse that I wish that Dr. Krugman shared), I would have more confidence in the prescriptions for dealing with anthropogenic climate change if they actually accomplished the goals their proponents set for them. So, for example, if it’s absolutely, positively necessary to accomplish a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, proposing reforms that could, at best, accomplish a 3% reduction should give us pause.

A “preference for private enterprise” isn’t the only vested ideology involved here. A marked preference for solutions that require the greatest degree of bureaucracy and political patronage is just as vested and just as ideologically founded as a preference for markets with significantly more historical evidence of its dangers.

32 comments… add one

  • As I’ve said here before in my few remarks on climate change, an area in which I feel that I have insufficient expertise to comment with confidence (an impulse that I wish that Dr. Krugman shared)

    The rub is that folks like Krugman (and the entire chicken little crowd) dont play by the same rules as you do Dave. Too many people are standing on the sidelines and allowing these people to set the agenda and place themselves above criticism. (Krugman has stated that raising questions about the science – or lack thereof – makes one a “traitor to the planet”. Nice.) If you have a “gut feeling” that something doesn’t add up here, I dont think you need to largely excuse yourself from the political argument – which is what this is all about, politics and power – just because you dont have a climate science degree.

  • Chris

    Out of curiosity, Dave, how would you suggest people who have looked into the climate science and are convinced it’s a major problem proceed? If they did pass sweeping legislation sufficient to cut emissions by 40%, it seems likely you’d hammer them even harder for being command and control bureaucrats (not to mention that such a bill would be politically DOA); passing a far weaker 3% bill gets them accused of being unserious AND command and control bureaucrats. Is this a problem we should do nothing about because there’s no solution that satisfies your skepticism?

  • Gee Chris, wouldnt the obvious solution be to convince enough people that something needs to be done so that it wouldnt be “politically DOA”?

    I love how politics is always supposed to cease when the left wants to do something (be it “climate change” or health care).

  • You pays your money and you takes your choice. If the more important thing to you is pragmatic solution, then you propose something that will actually solve the problem. If ideological purity is more important to you, you propose something that furthers your ideological goals.

  • BTW, Chris, how much math do you have? At the college and graduate level I’ve got two quarters of calculus, a quarter of differential equations, a year of advanced algebra (set theory), several quarters of mathematical logic, a year of advanced probability and statistics, some advanced geometry, some rational algebra, and three or four quarters of various applied math subjects.

    I don’t think I have the background to arrive at a reasonable conclusion about the “climate science”. Do you?

  • Brett

    I don’t think I have the background to arrive at a reasonable conclusion about the “climate science”. Do you?

    You probably have enough to at least reach a laymen’s understanding of what is going on, and why the evidence is in favor of climate change.

    As for avoiding bureaucracy, there’s no real way to do so while getting the reductions needed. Even heavy pigou taxation requires enforcement mechanisms.

  • Dave, I’d say you know plenty math to be able to have an opinion. Hell, you have more math than 95% of our reps in Congress and they are the ones who are going to be voting on this mess. Sure, you may not have the background to critique “Ice Core Proxy Methods for Tracking Climate Change” but there is plenty upon which one can form valid opinions.

    For example, any lay person can go look at the studies attempting (very poorly IMO) to link Atlantic hurricane activity to AGW and go look at the data itself. From a scientific standpoint it isn’t all that involved. (I took through Differential Equations in college, plus the usual round of research methods and stats in grad school, but I think any competent undergrad – however few they may be – could get a grip on the hurricane stuff.) In addition, if we are going to discuss the policy implications of this stuff, one can read people like Roger Pielke Jr.’s to get an overview. (And there are others.)

    It’s true most people dont do even this. They allow a tv show or a film to make up their minds for them (and I admit the people who do that are almost entirely beyond reason), but I dont really think the only alternative left to non-experts is to throw up their hands and say “Beats me!”

    BTW, speaking of Pilke I like his take on this very piece by Krugman:

    Krugman is making a case for limiting emissions, and that argument is pretty solid accordng to basic economic theory. But he goes too far when he says that because a case for reducing emissions makes sense, it necessarily means that cap-and-trade makes sense. The problem with cap and trade lies not in economic theory, but in political realities. Cap and trade cannot work in the real world — Krugman’s means cannot achieve the ends he seeks. He just assumes policy success, which is easy to do in theoretical arguments, but pretty far from the real world where we actually have to live with the policies that emerge from the messy legislative process.

    If cap and trade cannot work, then it would be logical that we should be exploring other means to reducing emission. But instead, Krugman tries to shut down any discussion of alternative approaches by saying that if you don’t accept his means, then you must not accept his ends. Krugman is ironically contributing the the very policy failure he seeks to avoid. Nothing like some messy facts to trouble an elegant theory.

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/09/krugman-confuses-ends-and-means.html

  • Chris

    Dave-

    bq. You pays your money and you takes your choice. If the more important thing to you is pragmatic solution, then you propose something that will actually solve the problem. If ideological purity is more important to you, you propose something that furthers your ideological goals.

    This is not actually an answer to my question, Dave. Congressional Democrats have done what they can by passing the strongest bill they think they can pass through Congress – a bill that tried to do more, but got voted down, is actually worse from a practical standpoint than a bill that does less but actually becomes law.

    My point is that even a relatively weak bill gets dismissed by you as being an unserious response to the problem. There seems to be no way that they can win, according to your logic. Or perhaps I should phrase the question this way: what would you do, if you thought AGW was an actual problem, Dave? Would you propose a strong bill that would go nowhere in the name of being “practical”? Or would you propose a weak bill that does something (even if it’s too little a something) in the name of “ideology”?

    bq. BTW, Chris, how much math do you have? At the college and graduate level I’ve got two quarters of calculus, a quarter of differential equations, a year of advanced algebra (set theory), several quarters of mathematical logic, a year of advanced probability and statistics, some advanced geometry, some rational algebra, and three or four quarters of various applied math subjects. I don’t think I have the background to arrive at a reasonable conclusion about the “climate science”. Do you?

    Oh boy, Credential Wars! Well, I’m at the tail end of finishing up my PhD in Software Engineering at a top 10 research university; my Masters and Bachelors were both in Electrical Engineering. I’ve had several years of calculus, a ton of the practical logic of software and a bit of formal logic and probability, picked up some statistics in passing, and of course taken a variety of physics and engineering classes. So no, I freely admit I’m not a climate scientist, merely an educated layman.

    So that puts me in the position of either believing the vast majority of the world’s credentialed scientists when they say anthropogenic global warming is a serious and growing threat, or not. If not, then there would appear to be one of two options: the scientists in question are honestly mistaken, or they’re part of a vast conspiracy to lie to the world in the name of some ideology. The ideology of “command and control bureaucracy,” from your perspective I suppose, Dave.

    Are they mistaken? It’s possible, but it seems pretty unlikely – the basics of AGW theory, that increasing levels of CO2 will retain more of the sun’s warmth and warm the planet, are certainly understandable with my basic knowledge of physics. There could be a situation where the vast majority of scientists are mistaken at some very high level, and only a lone maverick like Richard Lindzen is smart enough to see the error – certainly climate skeptics like to point at the dismissal and eventual universal acceptance of Continental Drift theory as a model for how climate scientists could be wrong. But while such paradigm shifts in science are possible, they’re very uncommon – in the vast majority of cases, the scientific consensus seems to be the correct answer, especially once that consensus has gone through a few decades of rigorous testing. Besides, when we’re dealing with the potential repercussions of global warming, it doesn’t seem terribly prudent to bet the future of the ecosystem on the long shot probability that many of the world’s smartest guys are wrong.

    Which leaves us with option 2, that the scientists behind global warming are part of some large conspiracy. I’m far more skeptical of this outcome for a couple of reasons, the first and foremost being that attempts to show that global warming theory is a fraud tend not to be very impressive – they’re largely done by guys who are, like you and myself, Dave, educated laymen (e.g. Antony Watts and Stephen McIntyre), and they’re largely around issues that educated laymen can understand – a supposed systemic error in weather station temperature readings, etc. – but they never seem to stand up to scrutiny. I’ve seen commenters at Watts Up With That desperate to prove that Matlab simulation code provided by climate scientists isn’t valid, for instance, but when I looked at the back and forth, all that the commenters really ended up proving was that they didn’t know how to use Matlab. (And yes, I do know how to use Matlab.) And so on and so forth – I may not be qualified to judge climate science on the level of actual climate scientists, but I can judge attacks on climate science by laymen at the layman level. And upon close examination, I find those attacks wanting.

    Of course, it also doesn’t help that the leading proponents of said theory, such as Senator Imhofe, tend to come off as people who A) don’t understand the scientific process, and B) aren’t particularly interested in reaching an understanding of the truth. N.B. – I understand there are those on the right who’d argue the same about several liberal politicians, and I won’t try to counter that argument here, but I will say that I have met several scientists in my career, and the idea that those men and women aren’t truly interested in the truth is not a notion I find much support for.

    So, yes, I do believe that I and my modest education can make a rational and logical determination that global warming theory is, with a high degree of probability, valid, based on the available evidence and testimony by various interested parties. What’s your excuse for saying otherwise, Dave?

  • Chris

    Gee Chris, wouldnt the obvious solution be to convince enough people that something needs to be done so that it wouldnt be “politically DOA”?

    Gee, Rich, wouldn’t that be kind of difficult in a system where huge fortunes are being made engaging in carbon-emitting behavior that won’t actually cause substantial harm for decades under the worst-case scenario, and where said fortunes can easily shift the influence of elected representatives operating in an electoral system that discourages long-range planning in favor of immediate constituent service?

    Or am I missing something?

    I love how politics is always supposed to cease when the left wants to do something (be it “climate change” or health care).

    Oddly enough, Rich, I didn’t actually say anything about wanting politics to cease – I’m certainly worried about climate change and I have my doubts that our political system is capable of discouraging behavior that’s immediately beneficial but extremely harmful in the long run. But I’m not calling for the end of politics or any kind of cessation of the current system because I frankly don’t have any better ideas.

    Moreover, the gist of my post wasn’t that the political system was being unreasonable, but that Dave was being unreasonable.

  • There could be a situation where the vast majority of scientists are mistaken at some very high level, and only a lone maverick like Richard Lindzen is smart enough to see the error

    This would only make sense if we were only dealing with a lone voice or two, but that simply isn’t the case. http://www.petitionproject.org/qualifications_of_signers.php
    http://iconicmidwest.blogspot.com/2007/12/maybe-gore-will-have-to-disappear-these.html

    And as for not understanding the scientific method, how can anyone defend not releasing data (the original IPCC data no less) so that it can be investigated and verified by other researchers?

    And please give me a link that shows the concerns about the placing of weather stations (documented with photographs clearly showing palcement outside of guidelines for scores of stations) has “not stood up to scrutiny”.

    As for the reason why it has come to this state of affairs, the fault clearly rests with the AGW proponents who, sadly, do not understand the demands of science:

    The price for speaking out against global warming is exile from your peers, even if you are at the top of your field. What follows is an example of a scientific group that not only stopped a leading researcher from attending a meeting, but then-without discussing the evidence-applauds the IPCC and recommends urgent policies to reduce greenhouse gases.

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/Nova-Exile_for_non_believers.pdf

  • Chris, I’m sorry if I incorrectly placed an opinion upon you you do not hold. I’m so used to seeing rather uncritical opinions on this matter I dont expect to see anything else sometimes. But I have to wonder why so many if they cannot get an effective solution (by thier own worldview) refuse to look at a different approach. The mitigation approach championed by folks like Lomborg and Pielke – who are firm AGW believers, but reject Koyoto style cuts – is in some ways dealt with more harshly (and more irrationally) by that side. From my point of view, as someone on the other side of the fence, I can live with mitigation efforts as they do not demand permanent harm be inflicted upon world economies. (And, from my perspective, they can be more quickly done away with if and when AGW goes ass-over-tea-kettle.) Really the harping at Lomborg and Pielke reminds me of reading Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.

  • Chris

    This would only make sense if we were only dealing with a lone voice or two, but that simply isn’t the case.

    You might want to recheck those websites in light of Dave’s point above, Rich – while I can’t speak for Dave’s degrees, by the standards of the “Global Warming Petition Project,” I’m qualified to sign that petition and offer my opinion on global warming – I’ve got degrees in EE, and while my doctorate will be in software engineering, I produce academic papers that end up in computer science conferences. And yet I wouldn’t consider myself qualified to opine on the science behind global warming – something I’m fairly certain Dave would agree with.

    In fact, it’s clear that only a small minority of the signatories of either website you link to are both climate scientists (NOT geologists, nuclear physicists, medical doctors, etc.) AND qualified PhD researchers who publish in peer-reviewed journals – guys who have skin in the game, in other words. And yes, you’re right that there are more truly qualified scientists out there than just Lindzen who disagree with the current scientific consensus – but these guys are a vanishingly small minority compared to the majority of climate scientists who do think global warming is real. (Hell, even Lindzen’s recent work doesn’t say global warming isn’t real, just that it’s not as bad as the rest of the community seems to think.)

    Case in point, far more important than mere lists of names is what the peer reviewed literature says – climate change skeptics can say “science is not done by consensus” all they want, but science IS done by peer-reviewed published papers. And in a fairly recent survey about global warming, NO papers challenged the idea that global warming is real and man-made.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686

    From the standpoint of actual science, that’s a far more damning statement about the state of global science skeptics than any petition or co-signed letter will ever be.

    And as for not understanding the scientific method, how can anyone defend not releasing data (the original IPCC data no less) so that it can be investigated and verified by other researchers?

    Er… the IPCC is a survey of relevant scientific papers and a set of recommendations based on that survey. It is NOT a work of original research in its own right, as far as I’m aware. Thus, the original data is in the original, peer-reviewed papers it refers to, which, unless I’ve been grossly misinformed, is as freely available as any other scientific data.

    And please give me a link that shows the concerns about the placing of weather stations (documented with photographs clearly showing palcement outside of guidelines for scores of stations) has “not stood up to scrutiny”.

    You’d have to link to the specific documentation you’re talking about for me to be sure (I haven’t seen proof of “scores” of stations), but this post at Real Climate.org (hell, the whole damn site) is relevant. Basically, there are many sources of climate change data, and, in the long run they’re all pointing to things getting warmer. You’d have to show that a statistically significant number of weather stations AND sea-based stations AND satellite data, etc., are all biased in such a way that they’re not just showing “hotter” than they should be, but that they’re falsely showing INCREASINGLY hotter over time. And I haven’t seen anything close to proof of that.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/07/no-man-is-an-urban-heat-island/

    As for the reason why it has come to this state of affairs, the fault clearly rests with the AGW proponents who, sadly, do not understand the demands of science:

    Rich, the SPPI is not exactly an unbiased source, nor is its tale of a scorned polar bear researcher a damning and irrefutable indictment of all of climate science. I can’t prove that there is NO mass peer pressure which pushes climate scientists to overstate the impact of global warming – nobody can disprove a negative hypothesis. But you’d have to show a lot more evidence than you currently are for the proposition to be feasible.

    As for your second post, plenty of people have dealt with the irrationality of Lomborg’s “solutions”. I’ll just say that, given that the majority of the American right wing seems to believe that running massive deficits during the Reagan/Bush years caused less economic damage than raising taxes would have, it’s going to be very difficult, if not outright impossible, to have any kind of meaningful conversation about what causes “harm” to the economy.

  • Chirs,

    The Oreskes article has been thoroughly debunked and she herself has said her study had problems.:

    Oreskes claims to have analysed 928 abstracts she found listed on the ISI database using the keywords “climate change”. However, a search on the ISI database using the keywords “climate change” for the years 1993 – 2003 reveals that almost 12,000 papers were published during the decade in question (2). What happened to the countless research papers that show that global temperatures were similar or even higher during the Holocene Climate Optimum and the Medieval Warm Period when atmospheric CO2 levels were much lower than today; that solar variability is a key driver of recent climate change, and that climate modeling is highly uncertain?

    These objections were put to Oreskes by science writer David Appell. On 15 December 2004, she admitted that there was indeed a serious mistake in her Science essay. According to Oreskes, her study was not based on the keywords “climate change,” but on “global climate change” (3).

    Her use of three keywords instead of two reduced the list of peer reviewed publications by one order of magnitude (on the UK’s ISI databank the keyword search “global climate change” comes up with 1247 documents). Since the results looked questionable, I decided to replicate the Oreskes study.

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2005/05/oreskes-study-errata.html

    (Note: This also contains a link to look up objection to THIS piece. To my mind THAT is the way one does science. ANd when you think about it Orestes claim that 100% of scholarly activity took her preferred view is really quite a dumb one to make.

    As for the lists, well 16000 out of 31000 (52%) have MA’s or PhD’s on the petition list. Using that percentage as a guideline (which I think is low given the percentage of BS in Engineering we could normally expect) we should expect that, roughly, 1978 of the signers would have at least an MA in Environmental Sciences (415 of which would have PhD’s), and a further 356 would have PhD’s in Physics. Given the importance of computer modelling and statistics to these questions certainly those who fall into that category (at least another 141 PhD’s) should also be considered to have the expertise to comment. When you consider how small the club is in terms of sheer numbers of Climate Scientists TOTAL, there is no doubt that there is doubt.

    Beyond that it doesnt help when people like the former chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA ,John S. Theon are indeed accusing some researchers of outright fraud:

    Theon declared “climate models are useless.” “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,” Theon explained. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done.

    http://iconicmidwest.blogspot.com/2009/01/hey-its-not-just-me.html

    As for the link for the Weather Stations…I’ll have to look it up. (Its around here somewhere….but I got to go to work. The kids are not gonna teach themselves Nietzsche.)

  • Here is the Weather Station link:

    http://www.surfacestations.org/

    And the link for the photographic evidence (broken down by state):

    http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=20

    As for your second post, plenty of people have dealt with the irrationality of Lomborg’s “solutions”.

    Yes, but in a manner more akin to Orwell’s depiction of various communists in Spain squabbling over who was “properly revolutionary enough”.

    I’ll just say that, given that the majority of the American right wing seems to believe that running massive deficits during the Reagan/Bush years caused less economic damage than raising taxes would have, it’s going to be very difficult, if not outright impossible, to have any kind of meaningful conversation about what causes “harm” to the economy.

    Huh? I’m not exactly sure I follow the argument here or quite see its applicability…but there are measure of economic strength. Growth in GDP is a generally accepted one. So we could look at that to evaluate the time period. (and you can do so from 1981 to 1993 here: http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/TableView.asp?SelectedTable=5&ViewSeries=NO&Java=no&Request3Place=N&3Place=N&FromView=YES&Freq=Year&FirstYear=1981&LastYear=1993&3Place=N&Update=Update&JavaBox=yes#

    You seem to be saying we cannot see what has actually happened in economic terms and use it to critique the predictions made at the time. I dont see the difficulty.

  • Oh I saw this from Pielke today and it fits the general pattern of the discussion: http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/09/climate-policy-can-decrease-tropical.html

    It is silly season for climate policy debate. UN FCCC Chief Yvo de Boer points to flooding in the Philippines from Tropical Storm Ketsana says that an agreement in December can reduce such disasters. Apparently no one has told him that global tropical cyclones are at a 30-year low.

    I’d take issue with Pielke on one thing. It’s always silly season when it comes to climate policy debate.

    It’s stuff like this, particularly when it comes from pols pushing an agenda OR from scientists who ought to know better, that engenders much, if not all, of the cynicism.

  • Oh, and this will be my last bit here about this as this is Dave’s site and not my personal bulletin board, how would either of you view this story?

    http://www.qando.net/?p=4923

    Just wondering.

  • Yet another example of why I don’t feel comfortable posting on this subject. To do so I’d need to go over all of the science myself which I have no inclination to do nor do I have the inclination to acquire the background to get more comfortable.

  • Chris

    Yet another example of why I don’t feel comfortable posting on this subject. To do so I’d need to go over all of the science myself which I have no inclination to do nor do I have the inclination to acquire the background to get more comfortable.

    Er, Dave, did you actually look at any of Rich’s links? Without saying anything one way or the other regarding the truth of the claims he’s making, there’s literally nothing in any of those links that requires even a high school level of math – it’s all relatively straightforward accusations of fraud, for the most part.

    I can understand not wanting to dive into this particular argument because it’s a time-suck, or because it’s uninteresting or unproductive, but it shouldn’t be because you don’t want to deal with the science because the attacks involved here aren’t science.

    That said, I’ll reply to Rich’s series of posts soon.

  • Drew

    “So, for example, if it’s absolutely, positively necessary to accomplish a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, proposing reforms that could, at best, accomplish a 3% reduction should give us pause.”

    Exactly. “We’re sinking, we’re drowning!!! Man your teaspoons and turkey basters………especially you guys we don’t like!!”

    “A “preference for private enterprise” isn’t the only vested ideology involved here. A marked preference for solutions that require the greatest degree of bureaucracy and political patronage is just as vested and just as ideologically founded as a preference for markets with significantly more historical evidence of its dangers.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

    I would humbly suggest that reliance on science and math cred is misdirected. I have a BS and MS in Metallurgical Engineering. More generically that would be a branch of science labeled “physical chemistry.” Lotso math. Lotso thermo. Lotso kinetics. Lotso the same themes and issues in climatology.

    Further, with a graduate degree in finance, lotso econometrics, predictive models etc.

    BFD – it doesn’t really matter. This is common sense. Just LOOK AT THE BEHAVIOR OF THE PRINCIPALS.

    Although I have a facility with the concepts by training, the real issue with AGW is not an undestanding of minutia, its undestanding that the “predictive” mathematical models are not robust. They are weak. Modest tweaks give different results. And historical empirical evidence rips to shreads the predictive power of the theory, which is largely model based, despite say, drowning polar bear stories, to the contrary. And I didn’t even mention the wilful disinformation.

    So fear ye not your mathematical deficits. Dave hit the nail on the head in the first citation I copied. If I was a climatologist and really believed what the Al Gore’s of the world profess, I’d be white as a ghost, with no time for politics. (I mean, this is serious: they make Bruce Willis end-of-the earth movies about this stuff- asteroids an such.) And I would be banging the drum incessently (screaming, yelling, kicking…….take no prisoners) for the only viable solution to massive CO2 reduction: an uber- Manhattan project style development of nuclear power. Right now. No ifs ands or buts. Screw health care, screw cottage “green” industries – we need nukie plants – now – or we’re all dead. And I would be using every lever at my disposal to get China and India to fall in line. See any of that?? Just a smidge?? Leeetle bit? Teensy-weensy bit?

    Of course not, that wouldn’t fly with the UN, the BRIC’s or the greenies. ( I mean really, can you see President Obama in a briefing. “Well, I know it means the end of the world as we know it, but I can’t offend my base…….no nukes”)

    The proposed solutions? Well, you all know: de facto US surrender of its industrial base for the benefit of the developing world, and government control of just about every aspect of your life. That’s politics, people, not fear-for-the-end-of-civilization realistic proposals. WTFU

    At its core, this is an intelligence test. And you don’t need any math to participate.

  • Chris

    Rich-

    The Oreskes article has been thoroughly debunked and she herself has said her study had problems.:

    Actually, those two statements are distinct – yes, the study should have included more search terms, and that’s an error. But the thesis of her paper – that there is no significant disagreement that AGW is real within the peer-reviewed scientific community – is still supported, if less strongly. If skeptics wish to disprove that thesis, they need only produce a significant number of papers showing meaningful disagreement with AGW. But they haven’t, as even the stuff you linked to shows.

    To my mind THAT is the way one does science. ANd when you think about it Orestes claim that 100% of scholarly activity took her preferred view is really quite a dumb one to make.

    Perhaps the 100% claim is a stretch, but the basic thesis is borne out by the substantive lack of dissenting voices within the peer-reviewed community.

    And, incidentally, it’s not just “to your mind” – that back and forth is the whole point of peer reviewed publications. Take a look at the relevant journals and conference proceedings from the 1980’s and 90’s some time – AGW wasn’t always the consensus opinion, and significant skeptical debate did occur between climate scientists over its validity. The reason you don’t see that kind of debate now is that many of the core issues are settled in terms of scientific opinion, much the same way we no longer spend much time arguing whether quantum mechanics or relativity is real. (Not that those theories didn’t have skeptics as well – take a look at Ayn Rand’s thoughts on modern physics sometime.)

    As for the lists, well 16000 out of 31000 (52%) have MA’s or PhD’s on the petition list. Using that percentage as a guideline (which I think is low given the percentage of BS in Engineering we could normally expect) we should expect that, roughly, 1978 of the signers would have at least an MA in Environmental Sciences (415 of which would have PhD’s), and a further 356 would have PhD’s in Physics. Given the importance of computer modelling and statistics to these questions certainly those who fall into that category (at least another 141 PhD’s) should also be considered to have the expertise to comment. When you consider how small the club is in terms of sheer numbers of Climate Scientists TOTAL, there is no doubt that there is doubt.

    No, Rich, that’s not how it works. For one thing, the very link you provided shows that there only 985 signers total who have degrees in “Environmental Science”, and only ~150 or so who have degrees of any kind in Climatology or Atmospheric Science. Moreover, there’s absolutely no proof of any kind that the ratio of PhDs to non-PhDs remains constant across all the disciplines represented. Unless and until you can specifically identify actual published climatology researchers who disagree with AGW, we’re not doing science, we’re just playing Credential Wars. (That goes for John S. Theon as well – if he believes that, then by all means, let’s have him enter the scientific debate by publishing a paper or writing a letter to a relevant journal. Until then, he’s merely using his credentials to play the political games you distain further down.)

    As for the weather stations, my earlier points stand – even if there several surface stations are outside of placement guidelines, you’ve got to prove that A) these stations have produced systemic bias in the data that B) cannot or has not been corrected for, and that C) similar errors also exist in other sources of temperature data, such as ocean readings and satellite data, which are, as far as I’m aware, in agreement with the data we’ve been getting from weather stations. As it happens, the link you provide hasn’t even tried to take on B and C, and hasn’t done a great job of A – all it has is photographs and piecemeal temperature records from selected stations, and many of the photographs are blurry satellite images pointing to vague blobs labeled as weather stations.

    You can attack Lomborg’s critics with (to my mind) overheated comparisons with the damn commies if you wish, but their core point – that Lomborg is more a professional contrarian than an actual environmentalist, and that his proposed plan for dealing with climate change is mostly based on a false choice wherein only one environmental issue can be dealt with at a time (and Lomborg thinks it should be malaria) – is sound.

    You seem to be saying we cannot see what has actually happened in economic terms and use it to critique the predictions made at the time. I dont see the difficulty.

    No, I’m saying that right wingers look at the $10 trillion dollar debt legacy of supply side economics and don’t see it as a problem. In that scenario, agreement about what “economic damage” means is probably impossible.

    de Boer’s comment is at least somewhat defensible, incidentally. No, the evidence that current hurricanes and severe storms are currently caused by global warming is lacking, but it’s very likely that as temperatures start to really ramp up, there will be more hurricanes and severe weather events. Keep your cynicism if you want, but if the science is real – and it is – the resulting politics are warranted, inevitable, and proper.

    And last but not least, I don’t know too much about the QandO story, but his tone and basic attitude seems unwarranted. More importantly, his assessment of the claim that “original data had been lost because it was unable to be transferred to newer data storage” is “an unmitigated crock” is simply dumb. Anyone who’s worked with old computer systems knows that moving data out of a legacy environment is a huge pain in the ass, and it’s entirely possible for data – even significant data – to get lost. Hell, the freakin’ MOON LANDING got taped over.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE56F5MK20090716

  • Chris

    Drew, a few questions:

    …the real issue with AGW is not an undestanding of minutia, its undestanding that the “predictive” mathematical models are not robust. They are weak. Modest tweaks give different results. And historical empirical evidence rips to shreads the predictive power of the theory…

    Ok, what modest tweaks have been made, who’s made them (you? someone else?) and where’s the writeup of said tweaks and results?

    What historical empirical evidence “rips to shreds” the predictive power of the theory?

    …if I was a climatologist and really believed what the Al Gore’s of the world profess, I’d be white as a ghost, with no time for politics. (I mean, this is serious: they make Bruce Willis end-of-the earth movies about this stuff- asteroids an such.)

    Why would you be white as a ghost? You do realize that even in the worst case scenario, we’re not talking about a situation where the planet becomes uninhabitable, merely one where the poorest people in the worst-situated locations will die out from flooding, lack of potable water, crop failure, and probably wars triggered by all of the above? And that the fun won’t really start until our kids and grandkids are running the show – we’ll all be dead or in nursing homes?

    Of course, that’s still pretty bad, but it’s not end of the world stuff – at least, not right now. And as for “no time for politics”, how else would someone who wanted to stop such events from happening implement their agenda? Violent revolution? This goes back to my earlier critique of Dave’s post – that somehow it’s supposed to be “ideological” to propose doing something that might actually get implemented, even if it’s insufficient for the scale of the problem, but it’s “practical” to propose a full-bore fix that has absolutely no chance in hell of getting through the political system. I still fail to see the logic of that reasoning.

    …the only viable solution to massive CO2 reduction: an uber- Manhattan project style development of nuclear power. Right now. No ifs ands or buts. Screw health care, screw cottage “green” industries – we need nukie plants – now – or we’re all dead.

    Well, again, no, we’re not all dead now from AGW – lots of other people will be dead in decades to come. And why is it not possible for the US government to do more than one thing at once? And why is nuclear supposedly the only viable solution? Yes, it doesn’t put out much carbon (yes, I know the plants don’t put out any once in operation, but building them does produce carbon emissions) but there are plenty of other problems with them – if you took as much physical chemistry as you claim, Drew, you should realize that nobody has really come up with a good solution to the problem of nuclear waste. Moreover, the public fear of nuclear waste far outstrips the actual (but still fairly substantive) danger associated with nuclear waste – didn’t John McCain say he was in favor of Yucca Mountain, but not in favor of the waste passing through his home state of Arizona to get there? Why not embrace green alternatives that can pick up a substantial portion of our energy budget (though not all of it, at the moment) with the right R&D, without the waste issues?

    See any of that?? Just a smidge?? Leeetle bit? Teensy-weensy bit?

    Well, yes – the “teaspoons and turkey basters” you criticized earlier are a small step in the direction of fixing the problem, although not in the way you seem to think it should be fixed, probably because you don’t actually seem to understand what AGW actually predicts.

    The proposed solutions? Well, you all know: de facto US surrender of its industrial base for the benefit of the developing world, and government control of just about every aspect of your life.

    Wait… weren’t you just complaining that the proposed solutions weren’t large scale enough? How is any of that comparable to “teaspoons and turkey basters”? It sounds more like “supertankers and fire hoses” to me! More importantly, how on earth do you get any of that from the rather modest cap-and-trade policies found in Waxman-Markey? Is there a “send our industrial base to India” amendment recently added to the bill that I’m not aware of, or what?

    At its core, this is an intelligence test. And you don’t need any math to participate.

    Do you think you’re passing, Drew?

  • No, the evidence that current hurricanes and severe storms are currently caused by global warming is lacking, but it’s very likely that as temperatures start to really ramp up, there will be more hurricanes and severe weather events.

    Actually this is simply wrong. The current peer reviewed research tells us two things about hurricanes:

    1) The paleo-climatological record indicates that the worst and most severe hurricane activity has occured in periods of relatively cool global weather. http://typhoontimes.blogspot.com/2007/05/substituting-dogma-for-science-is.html

    2) The overwhelming majority of computer models indicate that increased warmth will increase shear and winds which will in turn inhibit development of large cyclonic systems. http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/disasters/001177chris_landsea_on_new.html

    (Sorry I cant keep my mouth shut even when I say I will…..)

    Also, Chris I’m surprised that you dont have a problem with cherrypicking data like that. I can say such use of data would be considered a strict no-no in public opinion polling. I guess we just have higher scientific standards in Poli Sci?

  • Chris

    Rich-

    The hurricane stuff is not as open and shut as you seem to think it is:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/shear-turbulence/

    That said, even if hurricanes don’t increase, it’s possible that the damage they cause will, due to rising sea levels. And that other severe weather events will prove catastrophic – flooding tends to happen when rain patterns shift. And that even if none of that comes to pass, there’s still a plethora of other bad stuff associated with global warming that hasn’t been challenged as you’ve challenged the links to hurricanes above… and yet, you use one comment by one UN official to excuse cynicism about everything AGW-related.

    It’s a free country, and you can believe what you like, but that smells far more like the dreaded “politics” everybody on this thread is so upset about than an actual commitment to the relevant science.

    Also, Chris I’m surprised that you dont have a problem with cherrypicking data like that. I can say such use of data would be considered a strict no-no in public opinion polling. I guess we just have higher scientific standards in Poli Sci?

    I’m not clear what data you’re referring to with this comment, Rich. Assuming you’re talking about the weather station stuff, I don’t think the issue is cherrypicking so much as whether there’s a systemic bias at work or not.

    And as for using that weather station data, I’m guessing that there’s a substantive difference between public opinion polling (and completely self-contained software simulations, which is what I do), where the researcher has a great deal of control over designing and executing data collection, and can often redo the experiment if necessary, and physical science such as climatology, where vast arrays of equipment (often well outside of researchers’ immediate control) are used to capture data on an ongoing and moment-by-moment unique process.

    That is to say, there are branches of science where ideal, or nearly ideal data collection is the norm, and there are branches of science where data collection is and always will be imperfect, and where the data must be treated accordingly. The difference, therefore, is not one of higher standards, but of different standards, out of necessity.

  • Drew

    Chris –

    I truely appreciate your detailed response, but in all honesty I find it pathetically deficient, and absolute evidence of your wallowing in the minutia and dogma of global warming.

    ” Do you think you’re passing, Drew?”

    Yes.

    Sorry, Chris. Your recitation of well worn arguments is unimpressive. This is the stage that all Globel Warming arguments reach. If you think me wrong, you need to gather water and foodstuffs, and tell your wife and children that they need to move inland to areas that won’t be affected by rising oceans, drought etc. It is imperitive. The residents of New York, Los Angeles etc will be coming soon, and the social upheaval needs to be anticipated.

    If you make these moves, I at least will know you are a true believer. If not, a fraud.

    Yes.

  • Chris

    Drew-

    That’s pretty impressive – how you can, in one go, dismiss an argument as being both “deficient” and “wallowing in minutia”, all without actually bothering to respond to any questions asked of you or rebut the arguments against what you’re saying. And let’s not forget the accusations of hypocrisy based on straw-man attacks on apocalyptic predictions nobody’s actually making.

    With sterling reasoning like that, it’s no wonder you’re firmly convinced you’re on the right side of this issue. So kudos for that.

    And, for the record, this is a big part of the reason why I’m skeptical of global warming skeptics – they either rush to embrace nitpicking “gotcha” attacks on global warming science that rarely pan out, but are treated as if they’ve destroyed the whole vast conspiracy in one go… or they’re guys like Drew, absolutely convinced that they must be right, no reasoning or coherent argument required. You may find folks like Al Gore pompous and supercilious – hell, go ahead and find me pompous and supercilious too, I don’t much care – but at the end of the day, they’re a lot more honest and rational than guys like James Imhofe or Drew.

  • I’m not clear what data you’re referring to with this comment, Rich. Assuming you’re talking about the weather station stuff, I don’t think the issue is cherrypicking so much as whether there’s a systemic bias at work or not.

    No, I was talking about the Russian tree ring data.

    As for the weather stations, or rather your dismissal of it as a potential problem, I’m not sure your argument makes sense. I mean if one is talking about normal error, yes, you can usually assume things will “even out.” However, some types of measures dont work that way because of the increased chance of error in one direction over another. In the case of the weather station there is only one potential error that we might assume to even out. (That error results from using data from a “single station” where the station has moved over time – closer to or further from a large body of water, to a higher or lower elevation, etc.) However, the overwhelming majority of the errors (i.e. placing stations to close to artificial heat sources, including large patches of concrete that absorb heat) will not even out, unless you can show there is a factor as ubiquitous as concrete that will lead to artificially cool readings. Since the entire point of the surface temp readings is to attempt to show climatic shifts over a period of time, the question of whether we are making apples-to-apples comparisons is not a trivial one. (Nor is it dealt with, as is often falsely claimed, by introducing an urban heat modifier into the raw data. Those are two seperate issues, and the conflating of the two is dishonest in the extreme.) The point is there is evidence of systemic error in a single direction, and the ignoring of such an error, especially when so much import is being laid upon such a small change in temps over 100 years, should give everyone interested in science a reason to pause. (I saw the same thing in the hurricane research where people who wanted to “prove” a global warming impact on hurricane frequency and intensity argued that the best track hurricane data from the late 19th century and early 20th century – using the methods of that time – was as reliable as data gathered from satellite and airplane recon of storms from the 1960’s on. Of course what they were finding were artifacts of the difference in data collection methods and nothing more. Emanuel’s research, which, which RealClimate hangs its hat on, is entirely dependant upon comparing complete records against earlier incomplete records and “discovering” modern storms are more “intense” – because we more accurately measure the length and top wind speeds. RealClimate doesnt care about this as Emanuel tells them what they want to hear. Oh well.)

    As for hurricane damage, of course hurricanes whether they increase or not, will cause more damage – there is more stuff in hurricane prone areas to damage in the first place. (Read Roger Piekle Jr’s papers on the subject, as he admirably shows the factors in play.)

  • Chris

    No, I was talking about the Russian tree ring data.

    Rich, if you’re going to talk about the Mann “hockey stick” controversy, then call it that, don’t bring it up out of nowhere without any indication of what the heck you’re talking about. And now that I know what the heck your comment was about, it’s worth pointing out that it’s not just me that’s ok with “cherrypicking” the data, the National Research Council agreed as well.

    http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=R1

    Even Roger Pielke Jr., who you keep referencing, agreed:

    “My reading of the summary of the report and parts of the text is that the NAS has rendered a near-complete vindication for the work of Mann et al. They report does acknowledge that there are perhaps greater uncertainties in temperature reconstructions, reducing Mann et al.’s claim of warmest decade/year in 1,000 years down to 400. Nonetheless, I see nothing in the report that suggests that Mann’s research is significantly flawed, nor any calls for release of his data or algorithms, though the report does say in very general terms that such release is a good idea.”

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000859quick_reaction_to_th.html

    Recapping your other arguments:

    – The surface station site has photos of varying quality, some of which are sat photos that are almost completely meaningless. They have NOT proved that any bias introduced by encroaching human development is systemic, only suggested it. They have not proved that any such bias in the stations cannot be dealt with by oversampling and smoothing. They have not proved that adjustments for the urban heat island effect cannot be dealt with by a statistical adjustment – they’ve only asserted it, as you have here, outside the peer-reviewed literature. And, as we just saw with McIntyre’s attacks on Mann, the “lone wolf outsider taking on the corrupt scientific establishment” doesn’t have nearly the happy outcome you guys are sure it will.

    – The surface station site only addresses stations IN THE US. For global climate research, attempting to disprove the trends would require that they look at the entire global climate data apparatus, which they have not. Nor have they dealt with sea-based data, satellite data, or ice core data, all of which point in the direction of a warming planet. So even if every single thing surfacestation.org claims is true, they still haven’t come close to disproving AGW. And I notice you keep ignoring this fact, preferring to play nitpicking, gotcha games.

    – My understanding of Emanuel’s research is that he has attempted to correct for differences in measurement of hurricanes over time. You can try to show that such corrections are flawed – ideally in a rigorous manner in a peer-reviewed journal, as McIntyre tried and failed to do – but merely stating it as decided fact on a blog comment thread doesn’t mean much.

    – Lastly, whether hurricanes cause more damage because of greater coastal buildup is a separate issue from whether they’ll cause more damage because of AGW – the one doesn’t negate the other.

    As I’ve said before, it’s a free country, and people can believe what they like. But insofar as you seem to be familiar with at least some of the rules of science, Rich, can you not see how there’s a substantial difference between the peer-reviewed process, which has been debating and chewing over AGW in a highly rigorous manner for decades, and the approach of the vast majority of climate skeptics, which basically amounts to “I don’t have any training in this field, but I found one thing that I don’t understand or have questions about or sounds like a semi-plausible claim that calls a small piece of AGW research into doubt. And rather than approach the paper authors about it in an even-handed, non-confrontational way, I’ll claim that this completely shatters the entirety of AGW science once and for all, thereby proving my pre-established beliefs that AGW can’t be real, because that would force me to confront the fact that the free market and unbridled technology can occasionally produce significant negative externalities that require collective action to address! And man, do I hate the idea of that!”

    That’s not science, Rich – that’s desperation.

  • Rich, if you’re going to talk about the Mann “hockey stick” controversy, then call it that

    Uh, I’m not…I’m talking about the Kieth Briffa controversey, which would have been clear to anyone following the links I’ve posted. (As I thought you had as you made a response that acted as if you were respnding to the link. Which makes me wonder if you’ve actually read ANY of the links I’ve posted or merely glanced at them to issue pre-emptive dismissals.)

    So, if you read Pielke concerning the Briffa material,
    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/09/has-steve-mcintyre-found-something.html

    you would know Pielke has not discounted this controversey, but has encouraged McIntyre to present the material in a peer reviewed veichle. (And I agree completely with Pielke.)

    As for the surface stations, yes, it is only suggestive. But usually when reasonable objections are raised an attempt to address them is the response.

    They have not proved that adjustments for the urban heat island effect cannot be dealt with by a statistical adjustment – they’ve only asserted it,
    Which is exactly why I emphasized it (the urban heat island effect) was a different issue that should not be conflated with the surface station placement issue. (Are you even reading my responses here anymore?) Or are you demanding that they MUST be conflated, even though they are demonstrably two different issues. (i.e. even PERFECTLY placed stations would still have to deal with the heat island effect, AND even appropriate handling of the heat island effect will not overcome ill placed stations.)

    Nor have they dealt with sea-based data, satellite data, or ice core data, all of which point in the direction of a warming planet.

    No it doesn’t. http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/09/august-2009-global-temperature-update-0-23-deg-c/ There you will see the UAH Global Sat Avg., which shows much but does not show a “direction of a warming planet.” In fact its been over a decade since we were at our warmest. The belief that we are “getting warmer” is simply wrong. On average (based upon only 20 years of data 79-98) we have been generally warmer than the baseline, but as the satellite data only goes back to 1979 our ability to make climate judgements is limited (to say the least.) To say we have data which allows us to say more is simply wrong.

    The surface station site only addresses stations IN THE US.</i.

    ABSOLUTELY. That's kinda the point. If the wealthiest country in the world has trouble getting good data, how much confidence can we have about the data collected in Third World countries? Not to mention shady dealings that some have had to collect data in China which turns out to have been concocted out of thin air. http://scientific-misconduct.blogspot.com/2009/05/allegations-of-fraud-at-albany-wang.html

    Add to that the propensity of some scientists to claim they are unable to supply data because foreign countries wont allow it and what are we supposed to think? After all, how many allegations of scientific wrong doing have we seen in genetics in recent years? And we are just supposed to take someone's WORD that their data is correct. Give me a break.

    My understanding of Emanuel’s research is that he has attempted to correct for differences in measurement of hurricanes over time. You can try to show that such corrections are flawed – ideally in a rigorous manner in a peer-reviewed journal, as McIntyre tried and failed to do

    Actually Chris Landsea published a paper and Emanuel had to admit his approach was wrong, at least in terms of hurricane frequency. His work on intensity suffers from the same difficulty.

    Please, if you read nothing else in the links I post…read this:

    http://iconicmidwest.blogspot.com/2007/08/yet-more-rank-stupidity.html

    I don’t have any training in this field, but I found one thing that I don’t understand …

    Oh, dont give me that Argument from Authority stuff. it’s considered a logical fallacy for a reason.

    The fact is people like Landsea, Pielke, Lindzen, McKitrick, William J.R. Alexander, Bjarne Andresen, Timothy F. Ball, Chris C. Borel, Reid A. Bryson, Richard S. Courtney, David Deming and countless other have doctorates and published peer reviewed work that contradicts the Gore hypothesis. But I guess this is another descent into Orwell, and some scientists are more scientist than others.

    that AGW can’t be real, because that would force me to confront the fact that the free market and unbridled technology can occasionally produce significant negative externalities that require collective action to address! And man, do I hate the idea of that!”

    Ah, now you are in my area of expertise. Actually, what is going on is we are being fed a “Tragedy of the Commons” story, except that the conditions in no way fit the logical rules required to satisfy a TOTC scenario. Why then is it used? Well, because it provides a scare story for “enlightened” would-be despots to use to foist rule via elitist experts upon us all, as well as a rationale for bureaucratic centralization. After all Al Gore has already stated we may have to do away with “democratic niceities” in order to implement the will of our betters. Ain’t that swell.

    Yeah, that’s right. I’m an unapologetic democrat, and I’ll resist oligarchic tendencies wherever they arise.

    I’m weird that way.

  • BTW, I know I promised to shut up before….now I really am.

    It’s not fair to Dave to make him keep tabs on this (as I know he does as he rightly takes pride in this site) when he thinks its pointless. (And, ironically, he has a point.)

    So, Chris if you want to continue this feel free to email me any response. I’m sure no one on earth would mind.

  • Chris

    Uh, I’m not…I’m talking about the Kieth Briffa controversey, which would have been clear to anyone following the links I’ve posted.

    Considering that the whole of the reference was “how would either of you view this story? [link],” no, I don’t think it’s abundantly clear what the heck you were talking about based on what you’ve actually written here.

    So, if you read Pielke concerning the Briffa material, you would know Pielke has not discounted this controversey, but has encouraged McIntyre to present the material in a peer reviewed veichle. (And I agree completely with Pielke.)

    Yes, you’re right – Pielke discounted McIntyre’s last overblown crusade against global warming, but he hasn’t yet discounted this one. But after McIntyre’s smackdown by the National Research Council (among others), I’m not entirely sure why anybody would be at all ready to get behind what looks to be McIntyre’s next bit of equally sloppy “science”:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/09/hey-ya-mal/#more-1184

    (And, while I’m at it, it’s still asinine for QandO to say what he said about moving old data.)

    As for the surface stations, yes, it is only suggestive. But usually when reasonable objections are raised an attempt to address them is the response.

    And it’s not like anyone’s tried to address those objections, right? Oh, wait…

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/about/response-v2.pdf

    Which is exactly why I emphasized it (the urban heat island effect) was a different issue that should not be conflated with the surface station placement issue. (Are you even reading my responses here anymore?) Or are you demanding that they MUST be conflated, even though they are demonstrably two different issues.

    No, Rich, I’m stating that the urban heat island effect can and has been adjusted for, and that such arguments have been made in peer-reviewed journals.

    …here you will see the UAH Global Sat Avg., which shows much but does not show a “direction of a warming planet.” In fact its been over a decade since we were at our warmest. The belief that we are “getting warmer” is simply wrong. On average (based upon only 20 years of data 79-98) we have been generally warmer than the baseline, but as the satellite data only goes back to 1979 our ability to make climate judgements is limited (to say the least.) To say we have data which allows us to say more is simply wrong.

    This is not actually true, Rich, for two reasons. One, the sat data that you link to pretty clearly shows that the past decade has been warmer, on average, than the 1990’s. Yes, 1998 was the warmest year on record, but that doesn’t actually change the fact that the overall trend has been upward. This is pretty basic statistics, Rich.

    Two, the sat data only goes back a few decades, but it agrees with what other temperature data sources have been telling us about warming trends, and as such, does indeed point in the direction of a warming planet.

    ABSOLUTELY. That’s kinda the point. If the wealthiest country in the world has trouble getting good data, how much confidence can we have about the data collected in Third World countries?

    Except that, as the NOAA report I linked to earlier showed, we’re NOT having trouble getting good data. And if Watt et al want to show that global climate data is flawed, then it’s entirely reasonable to request that they do it on a GLOBAL SCALE.

    Not to mention shady dealings that some have had to collect data in China which turns out to have been concocted out of thin air. Add to that the propensity of some scientists to claim they are unable to supply data because foreign countries wont allow it and what are we supposed to think? After all, how many allegations of scientific wrong doing have we seen in genetics in recent years? And we are just supposed to take someone’s WORD that their data is correct. Give me a break.

    Rich, I’m not gonna say much about the Wang case because I’m largely unfamiliar with it – it’s entirely possible his data is somehow flawed or fraudulent. However, it’s worth restating a point I’ve previously made here – there’s a lot more evidence to global warming than any one set of data. Don’t take someone’s word for it that their data is correct, fine.

    But we’ve already established that many of the previous attacks on AGW theory have basically been discredited upon closer examination, whether it’s McIntyre’s attack on Mann’s work or Watt’s insistence that the US weather station network is broken. And in the meantime, we continue to see this pattern of skeptics hysterically yelling that their accusations absolutely prove that the global warming “hoax” is coming unraveled, then move on and do the same thing all over again with a new attack once their previous one has been discredited. That pattern doesn’t look much like honest scientific disagreement, Rich, it looks like ideologically driven desperation and an attempt to smear scientific conclusions they don’t like.

    Actually Chris Landsea published a paper and Emanuel had to admit his approach was wrong, at least in terms of hurricane frequency. His work on intensity suffers from the same difficulty.

    Again, this is just an assertion unless you can actually produce the relevant papers, Rich.

    Please, if you read nothing else in the links I post…read this

    I see some guy screaming his head off on a blog post that some other guy wrote an article on a website stating that there’s been a hell of a lot of hurricanes this decade, and that’s troublesome. Mooney basically admits there’s some validity to Iconic Midwesterners’ counterargument – hell, he preemptively brings it up – but Midwesterner still basically goes apeshit over Mooney’s statement.

    I don’t really see a smoking gun there, Rich, and I’m frankly utterly confused as to why you would. Even if every single thing Iconic Midwesterner says about Mooney is true… so what? Mooney’s not a scientist, his work is not authoritative in any way, shape, or form, and the whole hurricane issue is basically a sideshow in the larger AGW debate. Even if you “win” this particular battle, Rich, it does nothing for you in the larger war.

    Oh, dont give me that Argument from Authority stuff. it’s considered a logical fallacy for a reason.

    Well, no, what I said isn’t an Argument from Authority – I’d have to be saying that AGW theory cannot be wrong because a climate scientist says it’s true for it to be AfA. What I’m saying, instead, is that scientific conclusions reached by credentialed researchers through peer-reviewed publications should be taken more seriously than blog posts by people without any formal training. There is a substantial difference between the two.

    The fact is people like Landsea, Pielke, Lindzen, McKitrick, William J.R. Alexander, Bjarne Andresen, Timothy F. Ball, Chris C. Borel, Reid A. Bryson, Richard S. Courtney, David Deming and countless other have doctorates and published peer reviewed work that contradicts the Gore hypothesis. But I guess this is another descent into Orwell, and some scientists are more scientist than others.

    Yeesh… where to begin.

    It’s worth noting how your argument has changed on this thread over time. When I pointed out the dearth of climate skeptics among peer-reviewed scientists, you pointed to a petition website that claimed 32,000 qualified signatories. When I pointed out that most of those signatories weren’t actually qualified, according to Dave’s standards, you used some bogus statistics to “prove” that there were in fact hundreds of people with relevant credentials who were signatories. When I pointed out that the website itself disproved those numbers, you dropped the issue until now, when you give a grand total of 11 names and claim “countless others”

    Except that, even reviewing the list of names you do give, there are some real problems. First, many of the names you give do indeed have doctorates… just not in
    climate science (Pielke and McKitrick, among others). Second, at least some of those you’re pointing to don’t actually disagree with the IPCC’s conclusion – Pielke, and Landsea, at least.

    Of course, what you’re doing is claiming that they’re in disagreement with the “Gore hypothesis”… which is a complete nonsense, BS term, because there is no such thing as the “Gore hypothesis”. You’re attempting to lump the legitimate AGW science – which Al Gore doesn’t actually have a damn thing to do with – with political actions and arguments made by Gore, and using his unpopularity with right wingers as a dogwhistle to condemn all of AGW science. Which is a completely dishonest thing to do.

    Actually, what is going on is we are being fed a “Tragedy of the Commons” story, except that the conditions in no way fit the logical rules required to satisfy a TOTC scenario.

    The relationship between what’s happening with AGW and the classic Tragedy of the Commons model is too complex and subtle for me to want to argue that here, one way or another. That said, I suspect your disagreement has more to do with the fact that you think all global warming science is a fraud, so there’s not much point having that argument with you.

    Why then is it used? Well, because it provides a scare story for “enlightened” would-be despots to use to foist rule via elitist experts upon us all, as well as a rationale for bureaucratic centralization. After all Al Gore has already stated we may have to do away with “democratic niceities” in order to implement the will of our betters. Ain’t that swell. Yeah, that’s right. I’m an unapologetic democrat, and I’ll resist oligarchic tendencies wherever they arise. I’m weird that way.

    Considering that Al Gore’s major moves on behalf of fighting global warming have been giving speeches, setting up concerts, and making a movie, I don’t exactly see what you’re getting at here – and I’d love to see a cite of where Gore says anything close to your “democratic niceities” crack. That said, you’re basically just restating what I wrote above, but from the other side – your primary motivation here isn’t to find out the truth of what’s going on with global warming, but to bravely make your stand against a vast, Orwellian conspiracy, with you and your skeptic brethren as the last line of defense against the terrible bureaucratic, elitist horde.

    Which is to say, you’re far more interested in fiction than in fact. Which puts what you write above and the places you link to in an entirely appropriate context.

    And, no, Rich, I’m not emailing you this response, because I have approximately zero faith that any argument I can ever make would sway you from your beliefs about the evils of global warming proponents. Instead, I think it’s entirely appropriate for me to make these comments on the thread, where I can publicly demonstrate my earlier argument that the skeptical attacks on AGW theory rarely hold up to skepticism.

    Have a nice day, Rich.

  • This is not actually true, Rich, for two reasons. One, the sat data that you link to pretty clearly shows that the past decade has been warmer, on average, than the 1990’s. Yes, 1998 was the warmest year on record, but that doesn’t actually change the fact that the overall trend has been upward. This is pretty basic statistics, Rich.

    *sigh*

    Do a 5 or 7 year rolling mean (more than acceptable on a mere 30 years worth of data) on that data and what do you see? Does the trend go up or down?

    It goes down.

    Case closed.

  • Chris

    Rich, this is pretty pathetic. After making a big deal over how you’re done commenting here – twice! – you come back, ignore all the rebuttals I’ve made of your arguments, and try to pretend you’ve conclusively disproven global warming with one offhand remark.

    And what’s worse, your point is still essentially nonsense.

    First off, the data goes back significantly longer than 30 years – only the sat data has a relatively limited timeframe, and what we do have is in agreement with land- and sea-based measurements that go back for decades.

    Second, a 5 or 7 year rolling average is NOT appropriate for a warming trend that manifests itself over decades or even centuries. One or two relatively cool years – as we saw in ’07 and ’08 – makes such averages go down, but it overlooks the fact that the decadal trend has STILL been warming up, and that even the relatively cool temperatures we saw over the past two years were warmer than most of the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s.

    Lastly, do bother to actually READ some stuff on AGW, Rich, rather than obsessing over countless “proofs” that it’s false. No climatologist that I’m aware of has ever said: “Because of global warming, temperatures will always monotonically increase in perfect succession, from now until the end of time.” The atmosphere is complex, and there are factors that heat it and cool it over time. The AGW argument is NOT that global temperatures can never stay stable for a number of years, or even drop occasionally, but that on average, in the long run, temperatures will rise, to a point where, by the end of this century, global temperatures will almost certainly be at least a few degrees centigrade warmer.

    THAT’S the reality of global warming, Rich, and the fact that you’d try to hand-wave it away by cherrypicking data says volumes about your commitment to honest intellectual debate, as opposed to politically motivated jihads.

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