William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

IPCC Intensifies Search For Missing Global Warming

The French Team digs in

The French Team digs in

We all know, agree, believe, and desire that the end is nigh, that the tipping point to climate chaos is only minutes away, that we’ve already seen and suffered the horrible effects of climate change, and that if we don’t do something This Is It.

Unfortunately, we are not the public. The Consensus, i.e. 97% civilian agreement, is that climatologists are full of hot air. Civilians reason that for two decades scientists have been tootling the Trump of Doom, yet the end has not only not yet come, the heat promised by the scientists has gone missing, therefore the scientists must be nuts.

Forecasts have said the temperature should be ever increasing, yet actual observations proved that nothing has happened. Yet since the Science is settled, therefore the temperatures must have really gone up even though nobody has seen it—it must be that Global Warming has gone missing.

Communications experts know that if we are to restore the panic and dread which is necessary to create change in democracies, we have to find that missing Global Warming. The IPCC has thus dispatched several international teams of experts and charged them not to return without it.

The British Team in action

The British Team in action

This is why the IPCC is releasing these publicity photos, as a means to Raise Awareness. Enlightened Education Theory proves that once one’s awareness has been raised, one has no choice but to the believe the Correct Thing.

So please help me and the IPCC get the word out. Let’s locate that missing Global Warming before it’s too late and a full 100% of the public stops caring.

The African Team won't be outdone.

The African Team will not be outdone

P.S. If anybody thinks they may have seen Global Warming, leave a comment below and I’ll make sure it gets to the UN.

118 Comments

  1. Earlier on today, I thought I saw a lot of the missing heat, all bundled up under the wheelbarrow in the shed, but then the alarm went off and I awoke. Turns out, it’s just the neighbour’s cat huddled under the wheelbarrow, trying to find refuge from the above-average rainfall typical of the drought conditions that we’re supposed to be experiencing due to global warming.

  2. The Met Office say it’s hiding at the bottom of the ocean. How it got there (and how they know) they are not saying.

  3. I have a lead on that missing heat. I understand it is hiding out in a place called Hotlanta. That’s a town in Geotgia.

  4. They should contact Sherlock Holmes. He solved the mystery of the dog that didn’t bark so he should be able to solve the mystery of the heat that didn’t warm.

  5. The Public should be applying for grants.

  6. They know exactly where the missing heat is. It has been sequestered in the Hadley Heat Hidey Hole which exists off the coat of Cabo San Lucas. It was discovered one winter day by Al Gore. Gore was following Canadian Steve McIntyre who he was convinced was hiding the heat somewhere. As he swam over to where McIntyre had been, he noticed a warm spot. A conference was immediately called and climate scientists from around the world flocked to Cabo in February to study the phenomenon. After considerable research and consumption of all available stocks of tequila, one researcher, a Kevin Trainbreath (once the subject of a Jethro Tull hit song), announced that indeed the heat missing from the climate system had been stolen by a secret cabal of McIntyre, Watts, and Montford using billions of dollars secretly funneled to them by various Norwegian oil glitterati, and deposited in the ocean just off the coast of Mexico.

    The Hadley Heat Hidey Hole (H4) is well-known in client science circles and is the subject of intensive research every winter. Mr. Gore has suggested that millions be set aside by global governments so that more research can be done and that some of the money go to increasing production of Mexican agave.

  7. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Briggs: I see your FUD and raise you a, “Why is the left so opposed to nuclear power?”

  8. What is climate – weather over a generation?

    Taking a 25 year average and comparing it to 25 years ago there’s not much missing warming.

    Sure there are lots and lots of noise. The climate community think good old El Nino is going to add noise in an upward direction towards the end of this year, just as La Nina (and aerosols etc) has added noise in a downward direction in the last few years.

    This is from Dr Roy Spencer. Over a generational time frame I think it would be odd not to say there is a trend here.

    CO2 forcings are just going to increase and increase unless CO2 emissions are reduced – they may be affected by feedbacks etc, but business as usual is certainly going to put a huge amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Basic physics means that is a big energy impulse. Loads of inertia in the system, loads of noise, but I’d say it is definitely having an effect.

    Prof Briggs disagrees … we’ll have to wait and see.

  9. Chinahand, what always amazes me when folks (including some so-called scientists) talk about global warming and CO2 emissions, is that they disregard the effect of water vapor. The thermal reradiation of CO2 is due to re-emission of a low-frequency IR bending vibration; the same sort of low-frequency bending vibration is found in water. Much more H2O than CO2 in the atmosphere…draw your own conclusions.

  10. Bob, are you claiming that climatologists don’t take account of the role of water vapour in the Greenhouse effect?

    Think you are wrong in that!

    Yes, CO2 is only one part of the greenhouse effect, water vapour is another part. Water vapour is rarely a forcing – but add heat you add water vapour so its a feedback.

    Which brings us on to clouds – now that is complicated … can clouds provide a sufficient negative feedback to remove the forcing effect of CO2. Irises anyone.

    Some climatologists think so, many many more – is it 20 times, 30 or 15? – think the evidence is unconvincing.

    They might be wrong … all we can do is wait.

    But my guess – ECS is between 2 and 5.

    Prof Briggs – what is your guess?

    Do you put it below 1.5?

    I think it is more fruitful to think about these issues than play games about missing warming – you should always ask what timescales your talking about and the longer the time scale the more clearly you can see what might be missing.

  11. The public doesn’t think scientists are nuts. The public just doesn’t care what story the “journalists” are pumping this week. Much of the public can’t spell science, let alone understand what scientists supposedly are telling them. You assume the public focuses a discriminating eye toward the barrage of factoids coming at them. Thankfully, apathy is a force more powerful than “communication.”

  12. And who’s to say that global warming would be bad if it occurred. I can think of lots of sea coast cities that might be better under water. And if we in the US are forced to emigrate to Canada after the next election, won’t it be better that the land of the Maple Leaf is 2 or 3 degrees (C) warmer?

  13. Maybe even Greenland will be as habitable as it was in the early Middle Ages.

  14. Chinahand,I look at the computer modeling that supposedly accounts for “the feedback” effect, and my opinion is GIGO.

  15. First photo and caption cracked me up.

  16. Chinahand:

    I put ECS below 1.5C.

    But I agree – we will just have to wait and see.

    I think it is somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5C.

    1.2C is what physics says the direct heating from the additional CO2 is – with the remainder of ECS heating from a doubling of CO2 being theoretical feedback amplified heating.

    So far the theory of the feedback amplified heating has been grossly overestimated – and observations keep trimming it back. It has gone from 3C to 1.8C – and the longer the hiatus, the lower the ECS estimate has to go.

    All I know is it has been warming for 20,000 years (sea level has increased by 120 meters over that time) and our current warming is just a tiny blip. It is very hard to sort out the tiny additional warming caused by humans from the natural warming caused by nature.

  17. @RickA

    The climate doesn’t warm for no reason – we approximately understand the forcings and feedbacks which have caused the end of the last glacial. These factors don’t exist currently – in fact they are working in the opposite direction with the natural cycles slowly bringing the earth back into a glacial.

    My understanding is that the natural signal is now totally swamped by the man-made one.

    Yeah, I know the error bars on this graph are too small – but not so small that the basic picture disappears when you open them up!

  18. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Bob Kurland:

    What always amazes me when folks (including some so-called scientists) talk about global warming and CO2 emissions, is that they disregard the effect of water vapor.

    [snork!] What always amazes me is when folks, including some so-called sceptics, disregard where they got such information to begin with.

    Much more H2O than CO2 in the atmosphere…draw your own conclusions.

    That you don’t understand feedback amplification effects? No, wait, you think it’s GIGO. Lotsa models out there, but all you have is hand-waving. Come now, which models have you torn apart line by line to verify their bunkness? Under what rock did you find any contrary empirical evidence to suggest that their parameters are incorrect? If you’re SO expert at this sort of thing, where’s YOUR model demonstrating this magically more accurate representation of reality?

    And who’s to say that global warming would be bad if it occurred. I can think of lots of sea coast cities that might be better under water. And if we in the US are forced to emigrate to Canada after the next election, won’t it be better that the land of the Maple Leaf is 2 or 3 degrees (C) warmer?

    The IPCC’s upper-bound on sea level rise is ~0.9 meters by 2100. That’s just a few more election cycles than the next one I’d say.

    Barring the invention of immortality before your current actuarial expiration date, your aw shucks what’s the big deal attitude is actually quite rational.

  19. It’s not just that there’s a positive water vapor feedback. There are slower positive feedbacks as well, most notably arctic/subarctic/boreal albedo decreases, but also potentially carbon cycle feedbacks as well. The magnitude of the latter is very uncertain, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

  20. Actually Brandon, my GIGO comment is directed at the grandaddy of all the computer modeling attempts at science, the infamous hockey-stick graph. I assert as a physicist that the proof of the pudding, i.e. the validation of these computer models, would be the empirical verification of predictions, increasing temperature, which as Briggs so nicely and humorously puts it, is missing. The parrot is indeed dead!!!
    Lacking that verification, a simple-minded view (which is always the best way to work physics if the computations can’t be managed) that there is much more water than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so CO2 emissions aren’t that much of a big deal. And, indeed, there is water emitted as well as CO2 in burning fuel. So why don’t we worry about energy production that won’t emit water?
    And again, history is a better guide than science in all this…. look to the medieval warming period and earlier times when temperatures were higher. It is not unreasonable to suspect that solar radiation cycles may indeed be more significant than co2 concentrations in climate.

  21. And Brandon, with regard to criticism of specific models–the burden of proof isn’t on the skeptics; that’s not the way science works–it’s on those who make the predictions.

  22. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Briggs:

    In case there was any doubt, this:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/27/americans-climate-change-global-warming-yale-report

    It’s been said that Americans have short memories. Mine is at least long enough to remember this

    http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=12474

    Because why? Because there is good evidence that the Vox tidbit writer meant his argument to be taken politically and not scientifically. For one, the writer has absolutely no scientific credentials and appears to believe that voting in science, like in politics, decides truth. For two, he badly summarizes the science: not one word on the more than two decades of failed forecasts, ample evidence that the theory which drove these predictions is probably false.

    Vox, incidentally, might be described as the NPR for the web; that is, a place for those who think themselves intelligent and convinced they haven’t the time to learn. A place to have preformed opinions confirmed, where the intellectual challenge of understanding has been replaced by “information cards.” But never mind.

    Voting does not decide truth, not in science nor in politics. Nor anywhere.

    So, are we talking politics or science today?

    If science: which predictions are failed, and by how much? What’s an acceptable margin of error in your book? How sure are you that you’ve not missed any predictions within that acceptable margin of error?

    If politics: since polls are decoupled from reality according to your very own words above, please explain how your use of polls here is not special pleading?

    If you’re feeling unusually unmuddled today, go ahead and answer both. Thanks.

  23. Ralph Tittley

    May 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I thought I’d found the missing heat down the back of my sofa. Turned out to be an pound coin and a toothpick. I will keep looking though.

  24. @Chinahand:

    You said “The climate doesn’t warm for no reason”.

    I agree. The warming and cooling of the climate has physical causes.

    Some are causes are human and some are not.

    We are still identifying all of the natural causes of warming/cooling and I am sure we have not nailed them all down yet.

    What caused the warming in the USA during the 30’s? Was it human caused or natural – or a bit of both? If a bit of both, how much was human caused and how much was natural? The sun was at its most active (in a long while) over the last 100 years or so. We cut down a lot of trees (the dustbowl). I think it is very complicated and we don’t have it all sorted out yet.

    What caused the LIA cooling – and how much of the warming since 1750 is a natural rebound from the LIA?

    What caused the MWP? It wasn’t CO2 – which was 280 (give or take) ppm during the entire episode. Some people argue the MWP wasn’t worldwide – but it sure happened in a lot of places over a several hundred year period.

    What caused the Roman warm period? It wasn’t CO2 – which was 280 (give or take) ppm during that period.

    It was 6C warmer during the last interglacial – so I am not sure we are not still moving towards peak temperature of this interglacial. Are you sure we have turned the corner and are heading cooler?

    So I don’t believe we do actually know all of the feedbacks and forcings which cause natural warming and cooling over short, medium and long cycles.

    I think we will still be identifying and working brand new feedbacks and forcings into our climate models 100 years from now, 500 years from now and 1000 years from now (in my opinion).

    So, while I agree warming doesn’t just happen by itself – just because it is warming doesn’t mean it is human caused either. It could be a bit of both (I think it is) and nobody can tell you (yet) what percentage is human caused and what percentage is natural.

    Until we can sort out how much of the warming is human versus naturally caused we don’t know very much.

    Even when we have that problem figured out – of the human caused, how much of that is due to CO2, how much from methane, how much from land use changes, how much from carbon black, etc. Until we have that sorted our – we don’t know much.

    I think we need to collect better climate data in many more places for many more years, and keep working to improve our understanding of the climate.

    I am in favor of increasing our energy production using nuclear from 20% of power generated to 50% of power generated.

    I am in favor of research for non-carbon energy production which is cheaper than nuclear and hydrocarbon based power (oil, coal and natural gas).

    But I don’t want to turn off all the hydrocarbon power plants either.

    I think a carbon tax is the wrong way to go.

    Invent our way out of the problem and let the market entice people to switch to a new cheaper non-carbon energy source.

  25. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Bob Kurland:

    Actually Brandon, my GIGO comment is directed at the grandaddy of all the computer modeling attempts at science, the infamous hockey-stick graph.

    Which hockey schtick are you talking here? Mann, Bradley & Hughes 1999, or something later after Mann et al. + Jones rightfully got the back of their hands thwacked with a slide rule for horsing around with the data in a toes-over-the-line-of-impropriety sort of fashion?

    McIntyre & McKitrick 2003 perhaps?

    I assert as a physicist that the proof of the pudding, i.e. the validation of these computer models, would be the empirical verification of predictions, increasing temperature, which as Briggs so nicely and humorously puts it, is missing. The parrot is indeed dead!!!

    And I assert that no advanced degrees of any sort are needed to be able to think critically and therefore be able recognize crap arguments. Basic logic dictates that to declare something missing requires gathering more than one sample from the set of available somethings before reliable inferences can be made about the entire population.

    Or as Briggs so nicely and self-deprecatingly puts it, we must be horrible statistics teachers. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with him more.

    The proof is indeed in the pudding, but not all puddings are homogenous.

    Lacking that verification, a simple-minded view (which is always the best way to work physics if the computations can’t be managed) that there is much more water than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so CO2 emissions aren’t that much of a big deal.

    Yes, that is a simple-minded view. Worse, it rests on the declaration by fiat that the computations cannot be managed.

    And, indeed, there is water emitted as well as CO2 in burning fuel.

    Are you seriously suggesting that water vapor in fossil fuel emissions is any sort of significant fraction of evaporation from say, I don’t know, the 72% of the planet’s surface covered with the stuff?

    Did it not rain before the industrial revolution?

    So why don’t we worry about energy production that won’t emit water?

    That, sir, is where we agree. It’s an abject failure of the whacktarded environmental radical left’s 30ish year howlingly loud and utterly irrational opposition to fission power that greatly explains the very same elevated CO2 levels they are wringing their hands about.

    And also why I want to throw something dense and massive at my computer screen every time Democrats stupidly try to sell Republicans a carbon tax scheme instead. And they wonder why Republicans are the Party of No. Or is that part of their plan? Hmm, think not, the current crop of Democrats don’t seem to be very good strategists on the whole. Hard to tell with politicians though.

    And again, history is a better guide than science in all this…. look to the medieval warming period and earlier times when temperatures were higher. It is not unreasonable to suspect that solar radiation cycles may indeed be more significant than co2 concentrations in climate.

    No, it isn’t at all unreasonable to suspect that solar variance partially explains prior warming/cooling cooling cycles. Setting aside the irony that the WMP evidence comes from the very same temperature reconstructions you earlier characterised as GIGO, is this one of those “because I haven’t read about it being done it must not be happening” thingies?

    And Brandon, with regard to criticism of specific models–the burden of proof isn’t on the skeptics; that’s not the way science works–it’s on those who make the predictions.

    Nice try, but try again.

    I assert as a physicist that the proof of the pudding, i.e. the validation of these computer models, would be the empirical verification of predictions, increasing temperature, which as Briggs so nicely and humorously puts it, is missing. The parrot is indeed dead!!!

    If you say something is missing, failed, inaccurate, you get to cough up the evidence.

  26. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Whoops, missed a closing blockquote tag …. grrrr

  27. They still haven’t found the airliner that’s lost (presumably) in some small corner of the world and they think they can find this heat hidden who knows where?

    Brandon,
    which predictions are failed, and by how much?

    Really? How about this? (Observations expanded )

  28. That first picture gave me a good laugh! Thanks and good day to you, sir… 🙂

  29. Brandon:

    Model failures:
    http://www.nature.com/news/climate-models-fail-to-predict-us-droughts-1.12810
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n9/full/nclimate1972.html?WT.ec_id=NCLIMATE-201309

    No hot spot in the troposphere, arctic ice melting faster than model.

    Granted, the models may have been misrepresented in the press. One constantly reads “will be coming” for increased tornadoes, droughts, etc, but no actual increase occurring. Most of climate science seems to always be saying “It will happen”. To me, that says they are sticking by the theory no matter what the real world is doing–it will come, it will come……

    Maybe some examples of predictions that did come true and were not blatantly obvious—something that the models alone could predict–would help clarify why the models are to be believed.

  30. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    DAV:

    They still haven’t found the airliner that’s lost (presumably) in some small corner of the world and they think they can find this heat hidden who knows where?

    Needles in a haystack are indeed tough to find. Needles in a stack of needles, not so much.

    Brandon,
    which predictions are failed, and by how much?

    Really? How about this? (Observations expanded )

    Thanks for some specifics. I like talking about specifics, if you haven’t noticed.

    Second graph shows that which is not disputed, flat trend in suface temps from 2002 to 2012. See our very own resident expert for games people play with timeseries: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=5107

    And then google “special pleading”.

    First one I am familar with. Going back to the Spurious Correlations Post of several days ago: http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=12502

    Therein I posed to you the following questions:

    4) What are reasonable error bounds considering the complexity of what’s being modeled?
    5) Is it strictly necessary for this model to be accurate and/or precise to +/- 0.005 % when being a percent or two off in either direction is a useful enough result?
    6) How much would it cost to reduce this model’s error to what I want it to be, and is that really worth it?

    Which you declined to answer because you considered it OT at the time since I was asking in an (C)AGW/CC specific context.

    Also see again games people play with time series, and note that the first graph only goes back to 1983.

    How far back do you trust the instrumental temperature record, if at all?

    Do you maintain that there are no backcasted climate models that fall within your own acceptable error margins?

  31. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    PS DAV: In fairness you answered (5) on that thread:

    No, of course not. The problem all too often is the model’s accuracy (in epidemiology and the other -ologies) has never been determined while simultaneously the conclusion that it is a true representation of reality is claimed or at least implied.

    My problem that is that I don’t understand how errors in epidemiology necessarily compare to climatology other that they’re both “complicated” with a bunch of unknowns. Which doesn’t say much of anything. Billions of human bodies, billions of subtle variations, not the least of which is personal lifestyle choices. Physics is physics that we know of everywhere in the universe. It seems a safe assumption that when the scope of the study is limited to the planet that physical laws will be the same under whichever rock we look.

    You also gave me this link: http://planet.botany.uwc.ac.za/nisl/Climate_change/page_62.htm

    Which I will now read since we both agree that it’s topical for this post.

  32. Brandon,
    4) What are reasonable error bounds considering the complexity of what’s being modeled?

    Well, let’s put it this way: if this were tracking an investment, and the heavy black dotted line was the projected increase but the heavy blue line was the actual return, would you continue to invest?

    What is being shown is the ensemble prediction and the range would be where most are clustered. Note that very few of them are in today’s range. Not a single model predicted the flattening now observed. IOW: failed.

    6) How much would it cost to reduce this model’s error to what I want it to be, and is that really worth it?

    Infinite dollars if they don’t want to change the model’s assumptions . Whether it would be worth it to fix them? I don’t know, was it worth it to generate them in the first place?

  33. Since the ‘science is settled’, we should immediately cut off all funding, subsidies and grants to all climate scientists and researchers. What else do they need to study if the science is indeed settled? No need to go looking for that missing warmth. The science is settled. Case closed. Over and out. Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more.

  34. Laura,

    That’s a reasonable viewpoint but even if the science were settled there will always be room for improvement and refinement. Send more bucks.

  35. Brandon, I’m an empiricist in science…. show me the temperature changes from data that isn’t gathered in parking lots, near cities, etc., and I’ll put more credence in what you put forward. And, there have been nice explanations of solar variations to explain historical warm periods–see works by soon and bailunas, who have been greatly persecuted for their non-conformity. I wouldn’t call their work computer modeling; if it has a fault it’s retrodiction, which is not the purest science. And it might be criticized as putting causal relationships to explain correlations, but there is a good and valid physical mechanism underlying the correlation… I once was a anthropic global warming believer, until I started looking at the science. And I do agree–let’s get away from non-renewable energy sources; let’s start using fission and put our money into fusion research; solar energy is fine, when it is supported by private, not government handouts. And I wonder about the mixed feeling of environmentalists reading about the bird kills from wind towers.

  36. What I want to know: the Vostok ice core analysis, as well as a pile of geological evidence, say that the both temperature and CO2 have spiked about every 125K years over the last half million or so years. Some or all of the Greenland ice sheet melted during the last spike, and there’s evidence of grasslands and forest when they hit bottom on Greenland ice cores. In an even bigger time frame, 2.6 million years ago, all the ice sheets were gone. And nobody, as far as I’ve heard, has come up with a complete or convincing argument about the causes of either the millions of ice-free years leading up to the current ice age, nor the commencement of the current ice age, nor the intermittent interglacials. So, we can’t say with much confidence why the earth was ice free in the past, why it got all iced up, why it fluctuates between ice sheets and no (or very few) ice sheets – but we can say, this time, right now, that current human activity is causing phenomena that, somehow, happened repeatedly in the past when humans were few or non-existent?

    If there were a ‘scientific consensus’ of exactly what causes lead to the ice ages and interglacials in the first place, causes spelled out to the same fine degree that CO2 is claimed to be leading to the EOTWAWKI, I’d be much more likely to be convinced. In my work (finance) people often fall prey to including both wild-a** guesses and factors out to 5 decimal places in the same analysis, refusing to recognize that the uncertainty in the guesses overwhelms the assumed accuracy in the other assumptions. Predictions based on such financial models are worthless except as cautionary tales. By what magic would a similarly constructed climate model avoid this fate?

  37. Ye Olde Statisician

    May 27, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    …forcings and feedbacks which have caused the end of the last glacial. These factors don’t exist currently – in fact they are working in the opposite direction with the natural cycles slowly bringing the earth back into a glacial.

    If this is true, then global warming is the only thing saving us from the glaciers. Since an ice age is incomparably worse that a warmer, lusher age, we should do all we can to encourage warming.

  38. YOS,
    Wasn’t there a novel about that? 😉

  39. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    DAV:

    Well, let’s put it this way: if this were tracking an investment, and the heavy black dotted line was the projected increase but the heavy blue line was the actual return, would you continue to invest?

    “Past performance is no guarantee of future results,” is surely similar here. So are safe harbor statements about forward-looking assumptions about expected returns.

    For me, that’s about as far as I can go with the similarities.

    Investment buy/sell decisions are often (usually?) made on the basis of past performance against a broad market index like the S&P 500. Because so few managed funds consistently outperform such indices, I typically prefer my equity investments to be in index funds for their lower risk and lower administrative fees.

    Financial markets are inherently unpredictable because they’re almost completely influenced by irrational human behaviour. Physics is not emotional. Financial forecasters often get into trouble because they make the same inappropriate comparison that you are: if meteorologists can forecast the weather 7 days in advance, we can figure out a derivative play 7 days in advance as well.

    When the weather man is wrong, the picnic gets rained on so people go indoors to eat. No biggie. When a hedge fund manager wins 9 times but flubs the 10th because he overconfidently bets the farm plus a bunch of leverage, he loses the entire farm.

    The best way to beat the market is to cheat and not get caught. There is no cheating with nature. She cannot be fooled, nor wished into doing what you want her to do. If you want to move a boulder, you need a big frikken lever and an adequate amount of force. Not “The Force.” As far as I know, Yoda is a fictional being, not a real one.

    Stochastics and chaos are completely different animals. Think in terms of one when you should be thinking more in terms of the other and you will more wrong than wrong more often than not.

    GAT is an equilibrium system. It reverts to a mean, but slowly because the planet is massive and therefore has “inertia” with respect to heat transfer.

    Financial forecasters often talk about mean reversions in financial data, and that’s one place they often get screwed. People are not subject to the same physical laws as the climate.

    What is being shown is the ensemble prediction and the range would be where most are clustered. Note that very few of them are in today’s range. Not a single model predicted the flattening now observed. IOW: failed.

    You are thinking like an engineer. This is not a lab bench we’re sitting at testing high-tolerance devices. We are dealing with a risk-mitigation problem here which naturally deals with scenarios and upper and lower bounds.

    Quite obviously half a degree fluctuations from year to year over a period of 10 years is something we can tolerate. We’re ok where we are now compared to the beginning of the 20th century. That means there’s some room for slop.

    It doesn’t mean that we can necessarily assume that another 2-4 degrees is not going to begin to have notably worse effects in 100 years, especially considering that there will be several billion more people to feed according to projections.

    There’s no need to panic, and I wish the alarmists would put a muzzle on it and talk like thinking and capable adults. But the “shucks, who me worry” attitude is almost as annoying. If you don’t like the politics, say so, by all means. I have zero problem with that.

    But countering panicky predictions of doom with detachment and “who cares” and “the science must be wrong because I don’t like being taxed” isn’t a discernibly superior response in my book.

    Speaking of acceptably loose tolerances, I think it’s remarkable that a 20 year projection is within the upper and lower bounds of the 90 model ensemble considering the friggin complexity of the system being studied.

    Especially once you consider that there is nothing inherently special about GAT. It means diddly-squat as anything other than a benchmark metric. Any damn fool can curve fit a bunch of parameters to a GAT time series and get a better backcast than shown on this graph.

    That won’t work going forward because there are too many aperiodic internal variabilities affecting GAT, which again isn’t the stinking point.

    Retained solar energy is the point, and it does not always manifest itself at the surface. How could you expect it to? As an engineer how can you look at the biggest heat sink on the globe in your library and completely miss such an obvious possibility?

    6) How much would it cost to reduce this model’s error to what I want it to be, and is that really worth it?

    Infinite dollars if they don’t want to change the model’s assumptions.

    Crikey, DAV. If you were trying to influence policy on the basis of the predictive skill of model(s), don’t you think you’d be busting your hump to get them right? Nothing sells like success eh?

    Consider that the data and modelling being shown warts an all is an indication of the integrity of the research and those who are doing it?

    Why instead the common contrarian assumption that this is all a hoax because they don’t like the envrionitwits’ proposed fiscal solutions to the problem?

    Keep the politics separate from the science.

    Whether it would be worth it to fix them? I don’t know, was it worth it to generate them in the first place?

    I try to say this without malice, I really do, but GEEZ: Based on your resistance thus far to what I consider common sense, and basic critical thinking skills, I’ll more than likely be dead and incinerated well before you’ll be able to answer that question for yourself.

    As for me, I’d rather more of that money, plus an order of magnitude more capital go into building nuclear plants. Two birds with one stone, and an easier sell to people like both of us who don’t like swimming upstream against the economy in the middle of a recession.

  40. Ye Olde Statisician

    May 27, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    YOS,
    Wasn’t there a novel about that? 😉

    There are rumors.

  41. “Past performance is no guarantee of future results,”

    True but if it WERE an investment strategy would you say it was working?

    don’t you think you’d be busting your hump to get them right?

    Apparently not.

    I try to say this without malice, I really do, but GEEZ: Based on your resistance thus far to what I consider common sense

    Please! If it was worth it to make them then it would seem to be worth it to fix it or start over to get it right. I rather expected that would have been your answer to my question which was rhetorical BTW. Why did you ask if they would be worth fixing? Did you mean fix vs. redo?

    I think it’s remarkable that a 20 year projection is within the upper and lower bounds of the 90 model ensemble

    Why? The ensemble is just their average. Would you think the average would lie outside of their entire range? What does subject complexity have to do with it?

    The models all contain the basic assumption that more atmospheric CO2 leads to higher global temperatures. You can pretty much get the same results as the models by just using that assumption and ignoring everything They obviously don’t work so there must be a LOT more to it than just a rather simple mathematical model. The models, as is, are wrong and shouldn’t be the basis for anything especially economic policy.

  42. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Bob Kurland:

    I’m an empiricist in science…. show me the temperature changes from data that isn’t gathered in parking lots, near cities, etc., and I’ll put more credence in what you put forward.

    Oh very ha ha. I have some serious doubts about that at the moment.

    If you were a properly trained empiricist, I think you’d know the dangers of selectively biased sampling. A properly trained physicist would understand that absolute temperatures are utterly meaningless, and that this problem deals with averaging of trends over time and calcualtions of anomalies from a baseline mean.

    This is how teachers know that students have copied homework from each other instead of doing their own, they make the same silly mistakes as each other. The reason it’s frowned upon (IE, you get an F) is because if you copy someone else’s work, you don’t actually learn anything but how to regurgitate incorrect principles from rote memory.

    I’ve done my homework on station data, starting around the time Watts began publishing his. Maybe before … I took my first peek in ’99.

    Anyway, I’ll not do yours for you. If you don’t learn it yourself, you’re not going to. Come back with some questions demonstrating you actually done some independent and unguided research and we’ll talk.

    And, there have been nice explanations of solar variations to explain historical warm periods–see works by soon and bailunas, who have been greatly persecuted for their non-conformity. I wouldn’t call their work computer modeling; if it has a fault it’s retrodiction, which is not the purest science. And it might be criticized as putting causal relationships to explain correlations, but there is a good and valid physical mechanism underlying the correlation…

    I’ve read some Soon along the way, can’t recall much other than it was a rebuttal to Mann & Co. 99. That’s a proper sceptical research approach and a worthy effort on principle. I’m not educated enough by far to niggle the details, but to the extent there was any actual “persecution”, that would be a foul in my book. Who knows though, I wasn’t there for the peer reviews.

    Like all of us, I have to put some trust in people with domain expertise who are on the ground gathering the observations, and as such, that is a bandwagon fallacy that none of us can really avoid riding.

    When taking with climate contrarians, I look for crap arguments. Same with the climate alarmists. I don’t base my opinions on what either camp says, sensible or not, however. For that I read as much primary and secondary literature as I can understand within time constraints, and I crunch my own numbers from the vast amount of publicly available data.

    I once was a anthropic global warming believer, until I started looking at the science.

    My first real introduction to it was the endnotes in Crichton’s State of Fear. East Angliagate knocked me from cautionary acceptance back into marginal scepticism again.

    Currently, I accept the theory and feel the evidence sufficiently confirms it. Not exactly settled of course, but close. What’s not at all settled for me are the projections, but at the very least I’m confident that the continued research efforts are mostly in good faith.

    And I do agree–let’s get away from non-renewable energy sources; let’s start using fission and put our money into fusion research; solar energy is fine, when it is supported by private, not government handouts. And I wonder about the mixed feeling of environmentalists reading about the bird kills from wind towers.

    Oh a lot of them dodge the bird kills stuff, and other things like that.

    Turns out that installing Solar PV panels on residential rooftops kill more people per kWh than nuclear fission by the same measure. The numbers are trixy because of the uncertainty in projecting out deaths from Chernobyl and Fukushima, but we’re talking at least an order of magnitude difference here IIRC. They really hate it when I bring that up.

    Oh hey, my memory was correct according to these figures:

    http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/191326/deaths-nuclear-energy-compared-other-causes

    Coal, unsurprisingly, is the big killer, and lookee, Nukes are the safest. If there’s any truth to these numbers at all, the stupidity of the anti-Nuke coalition is simply and unforgivably astounding.

  43. Yes it does. No it doesn’t. Yes it does. No it doesn’t. etc. etc.
    Add climate to the subjects to avoid at parties – religion, politics & the middle east.

  44. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    DAV:

    … if it WERE an investment strategy would you say it was working?

    Compared to what? If there were a competing model that made better predictions at the same resolution of detail, of course I’d go with the better model.

    The key there is “same resolution of detail”. Recall my eariler statement that GAT is meaningless, it’s only use is as a quick and dirty benchmark that glosses over a metric ton of output that is of some actual potential utility.

    Guess who helped me figure this out for myself? Sceptics like yourself got me started on it. I then realized that the political leftist harpies were talking about the wrong metric and in overly-simplistc terms for the scare effect, and I hit the books to read some actual science.

    don’t you think you’d be busting your hump to get them right?

    Apparently not.

    Again, compared to what? Sheesh. If you can more accurately model the earth’s climate on the back of a napkin over a long weekend, you’re due a Nobel Prize.

    Your arbitrary opinions are nothing more than just that. It says nothing about the quality of the underlying research. In fact, it indicates a potential ignorance about doing such research on your part, which I find difficult to believe given your stated professional experience.

    My high school chemistry teacher taught me better methods of evaluating error. As in quantifying error for starters. As in comparing error to expectations based on previously published results as the next step.

    I try to say this without malice, I really do, but GEEZ: Based on your resistance thus far to what I consider common sense

    Please! If it was worth it to make them then it would seem to be worth it to fix it or start over to get it right. I rather expected that would have been your answer to my question which was rhetorical BTW. Why did you ask if they would be worth fixing? Did you mean fix vs. redo?

    DAV, I don’t make the same assumptions you do. I honestly can’t figure yours out, and it’s frustrating to me.

    I don’t know whether fix or redo is appropriate. The graph you linked to showed the ensemble output of 90 models. Compared to the guys that built them, I’m the least qualified guy on the planet to evaluate even one of them, much less all 90.

    Hypothetically, if the research is being done to effect policy change and I were doing it, I’d be working 80 hour weeks to get it right. And I would be doing it as honestly and rigorously as possible because I would know that I cannot fool nature. I’m pretty much out of different ways to say this.

    I think it’s remarkable that a 20 year projection is within the upper and lower bounds of the 90 model ensemble

    Why? The ensemble is just their average. Would you think the average would lie outside of their entire range? What does subject complexity have to do with it?

    Sorry, misstated. I think it’s remarkable that the observed measurements lie with in the ensemble range.

    Complexity has to do with, well complexity. Big system, lots of uncertain data, less data from the past than we’d like so having to do more with less … I could go on and on.

    The models all contain the basic assumption that more atmospheric CO2 leads to higher global temperatures. You can pretty much get the same results as the models by just using that assumption and ignoring everything.

    Mmhmmm, I agree. I’ve done my own playing around with data and can beat the IPCC GAT projections using CO2 alone. Even better if I chunk a few other parameters into the mix.

    Like I said, any moron (like me!) can curve fit GAT timeseries to their heart’s content.

    They obviously don’t work so there must be a LOT more to it than just a rather simple mathematical model.

    Well yeah. Why do you think I’ve been hammering on you about how much you actually know about the models’ complexity and actual design purpose? Hint: GAT is not the only output, and Global is not the lowest output resolution.

    The models, as is, are wrong and shouldn’t be the basis for anything especially economic policy.

    Sorry DAV, it’s not a go/no-go situation here. When you’re engineering widgets that kind of binary decision making works. When you’re doing risk management and mitigation, one tends to err on the side of caution instead of saying, “Hey, let’s see just how close to total destruction we can get here!”

    An no no nonononono I’m not an alarmist here. We’ve got some decades. Concern and some urgency warranted, but not panic. Not from me because I think that’s not much more than political and activist horse-puckey.

  45. There is one team that thinks they have nailed down where the missing heat is:
    http://oi59.tinypic.com/a4nehv.jpg

  46. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Sheri:

    Model failures:
    http://www.nature.com/news/climate-models-fail-to-predict-us-droughts-1.12810
    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n9/full/nclimate1972.html?WT.ec_id=NCLIMATE-201309

    No hot spot in the troposphere, arctic ice melting faster than model.

    Danke. From the first article:

    The problem may lie in the models’ inability to reproduce the cycling between the ENSO’s El Niño and La Niña phases, especially given that many scientists think that La Niña is the major driver of drought in the southwest. The ENSO “behaves much messier in the real world than in climate models”, says Jessica Tierney, a climate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who has investigated the role of the ENSO in East African rainfall variability2. “We’re not sure how it has varied in the past, and we don’t know how it might change in response to climate change. This is really one of the big uncertainties we’re facing.”

    You may have seen in a response to DAV that I used the term “aperiodic internal variability”. ENSO and PDO are two of the biggies, Judith Curry has a good writeup here: http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/03/natural-internal-variability-sensitivity-and-attribution/

    My response is that none of this is big news. When I first started looking at climate data 20ish years ago, it was pretty obvious to me that global surface temps weren’t going to track smoothly with the much smoother and predictable rise in CO2 levels.

    That it’s so difficult to do this from season to season is something we’re already dealing with, so I understand the AGW contrarian argument, “How can we do it 50 years from now?”

    Answer is, we can’t, and no one I’m aware of is proposing that we can. That’s almost the equivalent of my “what’s the chance of rain in Toronto on your birthday in 2050?” argument. We’re trying to figure out what climate averaged out over decade timeframes might be like so as to make advance preparations.

    One thing I’m quite firmly in the contrarian camp on is asking the question, “Is it really worth it?” Where I differ is on the answer. The best possible way to avoid uncertainty is to reduce it wherever possible. As we’re most familiar with today’s climate, that’s where we should be trying to keep it so that we don’t have to rely on far more uncertain future climate predictions.

    The liberal environment left is really saying this if you read between the lines of their alarmism. But their staunch oppostion to nuclear power as a medium term mitigation strategy earns them nothing but my considerable ire for being so stupidly obtuse and obstructive to their very own aims. Wantonly idiotic and egregiously moronic. There aren’t enough words in the english language to describe how utterly brain-dead pig-ignorantly retarded the anti-nuke lobby is being on this score.

    Granted, the models may have been misrepresented in the press. One constantly reads “will be coming” for increased tornadoes, droughts, etc, but no actual increase occurring. Most of climate science seems to always be saying “It will happen”. To me, that says they are sticking by the theory no matter what the real world is doing–it will come, it will come……

    So much of that is media outlets selling banner ads. No doubt about it. But you can’t judge the science by what the press are saying.

    There’s a difference between sticking with preconceived conclusions in the face of opposing evidence, and sticking with sound principles of underlying theory when most of the available evidence supports it.

    The science is “settled” (not really, but close) in terms of what we’ve already observed. It’s very far from settled in terms of our ability to make future predictions. Once again, Obama flaps his lips for political points while the rest of us who know better because we read what the actual researchers say are grinding out teeth in frustration.

    Maybe some examples of predictions that did come true and were not blatantly obvious—something that the models alone could predict–would help clarify why the models are to be believed.

    It depends on your standard of correct prediction. Only you can determine that for yourself, and only you can do your own research to find them if they exist. That’s the best way anyone can learn, especially on controversial and complex issues like climate.

    This got long. I’ll read the other link later. Thanks for providing them.

  47. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    YOS:

    If this is true, then global warming is the only thing saving us from the glaciers. Since an ice age is incomparably worse that a warmer, lusher age, we should do all we can to encourage warming.

    What’s the projected time frame for the next ice age? What kind of glaciation are we expecting — more or less than the last one?

    If you don’t think current climate models make adequate predictions, from whence comes your confident assertions that warmer is necessarily lusher in a net positive way? If you’ve got such a model, has it been published?

    How much sea rise is acceptable? Florida is already “lush” but is that a good idea for humans if it’s completely underwater in 500 years?

    Why not strip out all that uncertainty and attempt to stabilize climate at a point where we’re already familiar with it?

  48. Brandon, I appreciate although I do not share your concern for the consequences if AGW is indeed true. I don’t have the time or inclination to follow data reports in detail–I’m concerned with what I believe to be deeper issues of science vs/for/0 religion–but I do read (admittedly with a biased selection) reports from current online literature that indicate the AGW forecasts are not being met–Delingpole is my favorite. I have also read, on a more fundamental level longer works by Lindzen and Singer; I respect their reputation as scientists, and I understand and agree with their analysis on the same level that I might referee a paper in my own field, given that I know much less about climate science, though I can follow Lindzen’s math. I can not say the same about papers I’ve read by AGW advocates.
    However, even if AGW were a real/significant contribution to climate change (notice the use of the subjunctive), should we not also consider how much it would it cost to overcome it? I assume you’ve heard of Bjorn Lomborg. Here’s an economist/statistician who believes in AGW, but says the money required to mitigate it would be better spent on other enterprises, for example, setting up irrigation and agricultural systems in third world countries. What’s your thought on that?

  49. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Joseph Moore:

    What I want to know: the Vostok ice core analysis, as well as a pile of geological evidence, say that the both temperature and CO2 have spiked about every 125K years over the last half million or so years.

    Yah, with CO2 lagging temperature by 500ish years or so, right? So what was causing those occilations?

    Some or all of the Greenland ice sheet melted during the last spike, and there’s evidence of grasslands and forest when they hit bottom on Greenland ice cores.

    Where did you hear that?

    If there were a ‘scientific consensus’ of exactly what causes lead to the ice ages and interglacials in the first place, causes spelled out to the same fine degree that CO2 is claimed to be leading to the EOTWAWKI, I’d be much more likely to be convinced.

    Do you mean to say you’ve read every climate paper out there and it’s not been explained to your satisfaction?

    Predictions based on such financial models are worthless except as cautionary tales. By what magic would a similarly constructed climate model avoid this fate?

    Physics. It’s different from finance. And alchemy.

  50. Brandon:
    It’s good you understand that GAT is just an arbitrary point from which to measure anomalies. Many people don’t get that.

    You sound as if you are arguing we have no better model so we should use the ones we have. That’s a fairly indefensible position. The lack of an alternative does not make the model correct. Medicine used blood letting when they had nothing better. Somehow I can hear the doctor saying “Well, if you don’t have any other ideas, sit down and bleed.” My response to such claims is: “Any” answer is not better than no answer if it’s the wrong answer.

    You did a wonderful tap dance around the examples. Reminded me of my philosophy professor who would not state his position on the existence of God as he might influence our beliefs. I told him he was not that important. The fact that you avoid answering the question is interesting. Especially since I very freely handed over my ideas for you consideration. Maybe I should back off the handing over of the information and require you to “do your own research”. Also, as noted, I read the actual research papers and take classes to learn. So your response is pretty much irrelevant as I have made it clear I already do research. Your response is to a degree one of more serious problems with global warming science–not wanting to answer questions.

    It was not addressed to me, but your comment asking Joseph Moore about our not knowing what caused ice ages, it was very clearly stated by the professor teaching the climate class I took that we do NOT know what caused the ice ages and snowball earth. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to learning how the earth became a “snowball”. Do you know of a paper that does explain this?

  51. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Bob Kurland:

    I don’t have the time or inclination to follow data reports in detail

    Neither do I. Because of that, you’ll not see me standing up in front of television cameras talking about how the science is settled. I have more questions than will ever be answered in my lifetime.

    I do not flinch about picking apart others poor arguments. This is how I evaluate all science, all anything, “What’s the most reasonable argument that I can find here?”

    Arguments like, “All models are inaccurate,” without any qualifiers as some are saying here are easy to spot. That’s a denialist statement, not a sceptical question exhibiting critical thinking. It does tend to get me wound up when that persists and persists and persists. It’s not personal.

    Delingpole is my favorite. I have also read, on a more fundamental level longer works by Lindzen and Singer; I respect their reputation as scientists, and I understand and agree with their analysis on the same level that I might referee a paper in my own field, given that I know much less about climate science, though I can follow Lindzen’s math. I can not say the same about papers I’ve read by AGW advocates.

    Can’t help you there. I’ve read some Lindzen, usually get pointed that way via Watts whose partisan nonsense puts me off almost every time. I do give him credit for the temperature station analysis, a worthy and useful effort, and credit to the relevant gov’t agencies for responding constructively. He’s had a few other pieces here and there that I thought were good arguments.

    I read more Curry. She fully admits the obvious: that we’re contributing with CO2 emissions. As I understand it, she’s mainly looking under different rocks. That’s properly sceptical in the best tradition of the scientific method. I read Spencer from time to time.

    I don’t doubt that she, or any climatologist has political biases. Same with evolutionary biologists. Everybody’s gotta eat, but it seems a reasonable assumption that the most grant money flows toward the ones doing the best research.

    To stand against that and simply believe what I wanted would be intellectually dishonest. The only other option would be to read pretty much every paper that came out. No way I’ll ever get anywhere close to that.

    However, even if AGW were a real/significant contribution to climate change (notice the use of the subjunctive), should we not also consider how much it would it cost to overcome it?

    Subjunctive noted, I use it all the time. 🙂

    Absolutely yes, we should consider the cost. Which is subject to much uncertainty. If Kyoto is any indicator, prospects look dim. There need to be better alternatives than what’s currently on the table as far as I understand them. Speaking of ….

    I assume you’ve heard of Bjorn Lomborg. Here’s an economist/statistician who believes in AGW, but says the money required to mitigate it would be better spent on other enterprises, for example, setting up irrigation and agricultural systems in third world countries. What’s your thought on that?

    The first time I saw Lomborg’s documentary I stood on the couch and danced a jig. There need to be more like him, and with better domain expertise. James Hansen coming out in favour of nuclear power was a seminal event in my lifetime.

    The rabid left political partisans need to stop crucifying heretics against their own political orthodoxy. It hasn’t been working for 30 years. One thinks they’d have figured that out by now.

    Same for their counterparts across the aisle.

  52. Compared to what?

    Nothing else. It should be easy to determine if the models are working or not. And it would be done the same way you (should) evaluate every forecast. No wishy-washy umpteenth decimal points to consider. If it isn’t obvious to you I got some bridges you may want to buy.

    Recall my eariler statement that GAT is meaningless, it’s only use is as a quick and dirty benchmark that glosses over a metric ton of output that is of some actual potential utility.

    Uh, Yeah! That’s why the IPCC has focused on a minor QAD benchmark. And why it was called Global Warming for so many years. It’s a meaningless term but, Hey! Ya gotta focus attention somewhere. Most certainly not the “metric ton of actual potential utility”, eh?

    When you’re doing risk management and mitigation

    Of what? The sky falling? The ONLY “proof” of a problem are the model outputs and they are no good. In fact, even if we DO acknowledge there IS a problem, there is zero proof we can do anything about it to stop it.

    Back in the 70’s the Chicken Littles were all about Global Cooling and changed their tune to Warming. Now they’ve changed it again to Disruption. Guess what each time the cause of the Alarm was ALWAYS fossil fuels which apparently cause Cooling, Warming and Disruption in general. You think this is all something new? Get real. It’s garbage ‘science’ fueling a Back-to-the-Stone-Age agenda.

    YOS, made a good point: Warming is Good; Cooling is Bad. We should be stepping up out fossil fuel usage if it will stave off the Frost Giants

  53. Dav,

    “It’s garbage ‘science’ fueling a Back-to-the-Stone-Age agenda.”

    Small nit pick, there is some, though not conclusive, that the real agenda is human extinction.

  54. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Sheri:

    It’s good you understand that GAT is just an arbitrary point from which to measure anomalies. Many people don’t get that.

    🙂 I know, frustrating innit?

    You sound as if you are arguing we have no better model so we should use the ones we have. That’s a fairly indefensible position.

    Yeah, totally indefensible. What you may be reading in to me is challenging the polar opposite notion that “all the models suck, so we should just pack it in altogether”.

    The middle ground is this: sometimes you need to start making decisions with what you have, but that does not mean you should stop trying to get better models. Risk management principles here. Err on the side of caution when and as you can, but constantly work on better predictive skill so that the mitigation isn’t more expensive than it need be.

    Left/right red/blue black/white political debate loses those nuances because politicians don’t actually live in the real world. 🙂

    The lack of an alternative does not make the model correct. Medicine used blood letting when they had nothing better. Somehow I can hear the doctor saying “Well, if you don’t have any other ideas, sit down and bleed.” My response to such claims is: “Any” answer is not better than no answer if it’s the wrong answer.

    I forget who said it … oh it was Feynmann I think … something along the lines that if you get too wedded to your own theories you’re never going to learn anything new. This was drilled into my head at a very young age by my father, and I got the same from practically every science professor in school.

    There’s an art to standing on theory, but being open to new ideas. Even Einstein had trouble with it.

    You did a wonderful tap dance around the examples. Reminded me of my philosophy professor who would not state his position on the existence of God as he might influence our beliefs. I told him he was not that important. The fact that you avoid answering the question is interesting. Especially since I very freely handed over my ideas for you consideration. Maybe I should back off the handing over of the information and require you to “do your own research”. Also, as noted, I read the actual research papers and take classes to learn. So your response is pretty much irrelevant as I have made it clear I already do research. Your response is to a degree one of more serious problems with global warming science–not wanting to answer questions.

    Sheri, you’re right to call me on this.

    There IS a tap dance I do, and it’s deliberate somewhat like your philosophy prof., but also with differences. It’s a pretty simple rule: I share info with people that I think are actually willing to discuss it. I don’t always know where that line is, but now I have a better idea of where you stand. I’ll be more open with you from now on.

    There are examples of “successful” models all over the place, with the caveat that they’re GAT specific. Tamino does good stuff:

    Showing how far Hansen 1988 was off, and discussing the difficulties:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/hansens-1988-predictions/

    Slightly acerbic because Watts was pissing him off:
    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/fake-skeptic-draws-fake-picture-of-global-temperature/

    Tamino had a really good one recently, I can’t find it onw. He pulled ENSO, AMO, PDO, SOI, aerosols/volcanos out of his own model to show the CO2 contribution, then shoved everything back in. The second graph was more accurate by far. I’ll try to find it because it’s pretty much the same experiment I did for myself late last year.

    The graph DAV provided earlier is a very good one to look at. It’s just important to understand how internal variablilites, which are known in the past and have been accounted for, cannot be reliably predicted on a year by year basis going forward because we don’t know enough about how to model them yet. This is one place where Judith Curry may contribute because she’s looking everywhere else but CO2. But she is not the only one. Everyone is looking everywhere else because that’s the only way to get better models.

    It was not addressed to me, but your comment asking Joseph Moore about our not knowing what caused ice ages, it was very clearly stated by the professor teaching the climate class I took that we do NOT know what caused the ice ages and snowball earth. I was disappointed because I was looking forward to learning how the earth became a “snowball”. Do you know of a paper that does explain this?

    This Wikipedia article is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles

    Milankovitch theory deals with Earth’s orbital parameters over time, and they’re quite predictable. BUT there are some weird thingies. It explains about the last 400,000 years very well, which covers the past four glacial cycles (100,000 years apart).

    There are lots of unanswered questions, and one of them is what the next glacial will look like and when. What I’ve read says that we’re already in a particularly long interglacial, and the next glacial cycle, absent any human influence, would be relatively mild. And not for some thousands of years in the future.

    Lotsa papers referenced in that article, I have no idea which I’ve read or not. I did all that study at least 5 years ago.

  55. MattS ,

    Could be.

  56. Tamino, eh? Not one of the better examples of statistical competence. Did you see his defense of Mann’s, er, unique modification of principal component analysis?

  57. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    DAV:

    Tamino, eh? Not one of the better examples of statistical competence. Did you see his defense of Mann’s, er, unique modification of principal component analysis?

    Yes, I read it. I don’t know a thing about principal component analysis, so I have no opinion of his review.

  58. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    DAV:

    Compared to what?

    Nothing else. It should be easy to determine if the models are working or not. And it would be done the same way you (should) evaluate every forecast. No wishy-washy umpteenth decimal points to consider. If it isn’t obvious to you I got some bridges you may want to buy.

    You’re preaching to the choir here. Difference as I see it is that you assume it isn’t already being done. I’m telling you that doesn’t make sense. Why, if the policy you want to implement to avoid a hazard depends on a model, would you not be working overtime to make that model as accurate as possible?

    Recall my eariler statement that GAT is meaningless, it’s only use is as a quick and dirty benchmark that glosses over a metric ton of output that is of some actual potential utility.

    Uh, Yeah! That’s why the IPCC has focused on a minor QAD benchmark. And why it was called Global Warming for so many years. It’s a meaningless term but, Hey! Ya gotta focus attention somewhere. Most certainly not the “metric ton of actual potential utility”, eh?

    There’s a difference between what climatologists and the IPCC focuses on, and what politicians news media and bloggers focus on.

    In political speech, the strategy is, always always always, keep it simple. If you’re explaining you’re losing. Reality is usually the casualty of that kind of superficial “debate”.

    Have you ever read an IPCC report? Is there a GAT graph on every page to the exclusion of all else?

    When you’re doing risk management and mitigation

    Of what? The sky falling? The ONLY “proof” of a problem are the model outputs and they are no good. In fact, even if we DO acknowledge there IS a problem, there is zero proof we can do anything about it to stop it.

    Back in the 70′s the Chicken Littles were all about Global Cooling and changed their tune to Warming.

    The first proposals for the idea that CO2 emissions might raise temperatures were in the early 1800’s. They weren’t taken very seriously because they were basically back of the napkin calculations. Rightfully so, there were too many unknowns re: cloud feedbacks (which is still not very well understood) and a whole host of other things which the science of the day knew to be complex but poorly understood.

    GHG research didn’t really gain traction until the 1950s when military atmospheric research for strategic air defense, ICBM ballistic trajectory calcs, etc. started gathering data that some researchers recognized as the missing bits that could make predictions on rising GHG effects more tenable.

    The cooling craze of the ’70s was, to my knowledge, reasonable research based on the timings of ice ages. I remember hearing about it as a kid, and it did scare the crap out of me. But that’s an artefact of the press selling newspapers and hype.

    There was no full-on flip-flopping in climatology from warming to cooling, as judged by the numbers of papers published at the time. Those are the kinds of statistics that journalists don’t report because they’re selling the hype. Icy cold is much scarier than warm and toasty.

    On that note, yes, we’re due for another ice age, but not for thousands of years from now. All present indications I’m aware of are that it will quite mild compared to the last four glacials.

    Now they’ve changed it again to Disruption. Guess what each time the cause of the Alarm was ALWAYS fossil fuels which apparently cause Cooling, Warming and Disruption in general. You think this is all something new?

    No, I’m well aware that it is not at all anything new. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but the Democratic party and its band of yowling tree-hugging polar-bear lovers have completely screwed themselves by blocking nuclear power for the past 30 years. There is no love lost between me and them for such preposterous idiocy.

    Get real. It’s garbage ‘science’ fueling a Back-to-the-Stone-Age agenda.

    Again, your partisanship is showing. You have not done the science. You do not know that it’s garbage. When you have attempted to argue the science, you have been leaving out pretty much any semblance of reasonable sceptical thought by committing logical fallacies and not quantifying or qualifying your statments. If you wrote a research paper that said, “This model is rejected because it was wrong” and left it at that you’d get an F-.

    There are ten million and one reasons to stop burning coal for electrical power that have nothing to do with climate change. It is the single most costly form of energy in terms of deaths per kWh. If you think breathing the kind of particulates released from power plants is good for you, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Bolivia to sell you.

    Can you imagine the foreign policy hassles we’d not have to deal with if nuclear power could reduce our oil imports?

    We’re gonna run out, ya know? We so many other things than just fuel from the petrochemical industry. Might be nice to not burn it all off so that we can continue make things like plastics, dyes, solvents, lubricating oils ……

    There are tons and tons and tons of arguments for adopting nukes and developing renewables that don’t have anything to being a commie socialist leftie wingnut.

    YOS, made a good point: Warming is Good; Cooling is Bad. We should be stepping up out fossil fuel usage if it will stave off the Frost Giants

    No, YOS made a terrible point because it was based out of apparent ignorance of the timing involved. There’s a big difference in a 50 year planning horizon and a 1,000 year one.

    For the blog of a statistician, there’s an incredible amount of innumeracy and overconfident statements of Truth going on here. It’s really bizarre how much Briggs pounds on being overcertain when using statistics, yet so many of his followers like you and YOS have absolutely no problem stating absolute Truths with little or no quantifiable supporting evidence, but still with 100% confidence.

  59. Ye Olde Statisician

    May 27, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    What’s the projected time frame for the next ice age? What kind of glaciation are we expecting — more or less than the last one?

    Beats me. Chinahand said that the factors that caused the end of the last glacial don’t exist currently – “in fact they are working in the opposite direction with the natural cycles slowly bringing the earth back into a glacial.” I responded that if that were so, we had better do all we can to keep global warming going. This is what is known in some circles as “humor.”

    Given that it was warmer in Medieval times and they suffered the exquisite horror of two harvests a year and dairy farms in Greenland, it’s hard to say how lush is too lush. Current CO2 levels are perilously close to the minimum sufficient to keep photosynthesis going. Maybe we need more margin there, too.

  60. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    YOS:

    This is what is known in some circles as “humor.”

    I understand humor, but that’s a commonly used argument among the “why worry” contrarian crowd. I have no idea how to tell whether it’s a joke or not, apologies.

  61. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    PS: The best climate for us is the one that’s least uncertain. The one we have now.

  62. Then go over to Climate audit and read the old posts if they haven’t been lost in the server move. It’s not a particularly difficult subject though Tamino doesn’t seem to have a grasp on it — or at least didn’t. In any case, he’s not the best source when it comes to statistical modeling.

  63. The best climate for us is the one that’s least uncertain. The one we have now.

    And a sunny day is better for a picnic. Until we learn to control it, we’re stuck with what we get.

  64. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    DAV: I regularly read Watts, Curry, McIntyre, Pielke Jr. and Spencer. And obviously, Briggs. I comment here because I think we have great discussions but I don’t see the same quality of commentary other places. I’m just your cross to bear, I guess. 🙂

    This is how I challenge my own assumptions and ask questions I wouldn’t have otherwise considered. That’s how I learn. When any of them make good arguments, I take it under advisement and change opinions accordingly.

    Tamino does a fair amount of phallus-measuring with contrarians. Same with Eli Rabett and others I can’t remember because I read more contrarian sites than concensus sites. The best place for the latter IMO is RealClimate because they keep the rhetoric to a minimum and explain the science in terms I can grasp.

    When the expertise goes whoosh over my head, I default to consensus views. I don’t know of any better rational approach. I cannot learn everything I’d like to know about this stuff.

    Looks like the blog ate my long reply to you, fortunately I saved it in my text editor. It needs to be trimmed down and toned down … I think I’ve used quite enough of the sledgehammer for one day. Cheers.

  65. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    PS: There’s a lot of talk about climate engineering out there, but it gets plowed under by the liberal orthodoxy. There was a TED talk a few years ago by someone who was not Lomborg on the subject. He wasn’t booed off the stage, but I recall the reception wasn’t exactly …. er … warm either.

  66. There’s a lot of talk about climate engineering out there, …

    The first step would be to understand it. We may not until we try to change it but unlike the try-and-learn approach which may work with say, bridge building, it’s not something to mess around with IMO.

  67. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    DAV:

    The first step would be to understand it.

    Aaaargh. We understand a lot about it already. Where do you think we’re off and why? Why is this such a yes/no proposition for you? At what point will you say, “Ok, we understand this, let’s do something about it.”

  68. We understand a lot about it already. Where do you think we’re off and why? “Ok, we understand this, let’s do something about it.”

    If we understand it so well, why are the models so poor at predicting? To date, no one has demonstrated enough knowledge of how to go about changing the climate.

  69. Brandon Gates

    May 27, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    DAV:

    If we understand it so well, why are the models so poor at predicting?

    I’m not doing your homework for you DAV. I’ll give you a hint: cloud simulation and ocean circulation.

    To date, no one has demonstrated enough knowledge of how to go about changing the climate.

    So, what exact experiment would you propose to test this? Bear in mind the inertia due to the massive heatsink represented by all that blue stuff on a global map.

    If you ask the impossible of something, you’ll get nothing in return that satisfies you. We can only ever do things within the limits of our knowledge. Period. You cannot wish knowledge into existence. And you cannot assume that because something is unknown to your satisfaction that it is necessarily due to “people not working on it.”

    If it’s an “unknowable” problem, then there really is no stopping it. Fortunately most people on this rock aren’t as prone to apathy as you are.

  70. So, what exact experiment would you propose to test this?

    None. That’s my point.

    Until we can get models which are at least fairly accurate at predicting then, regardless of claims, the knowledge we have is obviously scant. We can hardly say we have enough to actually effect a change or prevent a change from happening.

  71. Has anybody looked down the back of the couch?

  72. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 12:00 am

    DAV:

    None. That’s my point.

    See again about asking for the impossible. Careful you don’t dig your heels in so much you break your ankles, I hear that’s painful.

    Until we can get models which are at least fairly accurate at predicting then, regardless of claims, the knowledge we have is obviously scant. We can hardly say we have enough to actually effect a change or prevent a change from happening.

    What does “fairly accurate” mean? Over what range of time? To what tolerances?

    If you don’t have a spec, you’re not going to get a good answer. And it’s rather silly for someone who obviously doesn’t have any domain expertise to be writing the spec.

    We know enough to know that as CO2 rises because we’ve desequesterd it from under ground that temperature rises. It’s a trivially easy thing to understand that not putting more of it into the atmosphere will, net of other things fairly well understood by much simpler models than GCMs, that the equilibrium GAT will stabilize.

    Did you not learn about blackbody/greybody problems in engineering school? Absorption spectra? Emissivity/absorptivity? Stuff we’ve known about before Al Gore’s parents were even born?

  73. Has anybody looked down the back of the couch?

    Yeah. See http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=12581#comment-121679
    It wasn’t there,

  74. What does “fairly accurate” mean? Over what range of time? To what tolerances?

    Did you see that black line in Roy’s chart that I linked? It should at least be close to the blue one and looking like it’s tracking it for starters.

    We know enough to know that as CO2 rises because we’ve desequesterd it from under ground that temperature rises.

    Yet during the last upteen years with it rising the temperatures haven’t. We don’t know all that much. All we know is that in a closed system it’s warmer when CO2 rises. Further, we would expect higher temps to increase the CO2 level. Have you ever studied Systems Analysis? That’s a positive feedback which leads to saturation. Something else is also going on and no one really knows what it is.

  75. Milton Hathaway

    May 28, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Pangolin – interesting looking creature. I’d never heard of it before.

    http://pangolins-namibia.blogspot.com/2010/12/tracking-pangolin-kasupi-after-release.html

  76. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 12:58 am

    DAV:

    Did you see that black line in Roy’s chart that I linked? It should at least be close to the blue one and looking like it’s tracking it for starters.

    Any curve-fitting monkey with a hangover can put GAT closer to that line in an Excel spreadsheet.

    Yet during the last upteen years with it rising the temperatures haven’t. We don’t know all that much. All we know is that in a closed system it’s warmer when CO2 rises. Further, we would expect higher temps to increase the CO2 level.

    Have you ever looked at a GAT timeseries going further back than 20 years? Do you see any other deviations from the trend that look anything like the last 15 years? Why is this such big news to you?

    Have you ever studied Systems Analysis? That’s a positive feedback which leads to saturation.

    My understanding is that saturation is old news, long since ruled out as a theoretical upper limit.

    Something else is also going on and no one really knows what it is.

    [Aside: again he implies he’s read every blasted paper out there. Impossible impossible man!]

  77. Any curve-fitting monkey with a hangover can put GAT closer to that line in an Excel spreadsheet

    Only after the fact and that’s not predicting.

    Have you ever looked at a GAT timeseries going further back than 20 years?

    Yes. The models are designed to do that. It’s what they mean by backcasting. They are predicting the training set. You do realize they keep changing the models so they will match the past, yes? That’s easy. It’s how it predicts the unseen future that should be of interested.

    Do you see any other deviations from the trend that look anything like the last 15 years?

    Nothing like the departure starting around 1998 but even if there were I would say it’s really sad they can’t predict even the training data. The model should excel (not a spreadsheet) at that. Notice the black line seems to track the blue until 1998 (although the separation is a bit eyebrow raising). You can hardly say it does that after 1998. Even in horseshoes and hand grenades you gotta get close.

    My understanding is that saturation is old news, long since ruled out as a theoretical upper limit.

    So you haven’t had Systems. OK. Then you don’t know what I meant. Everything has an upper limit. It means the temperature will keep rising uncontrollably to a point where it can’t get any higher. Although a bit opposite, it’s like a hole in the bottom of a bucket of water. The contents will continue to flow out until they are gone. Nothing will slow it down. Something — and who knows what — is preventing that from happening with CO2, so, either what we know about CO2 in closed systems (like bottles) doesn’t apply or there is far more to how it interacts in the atmosphere than we think — or both.

    Aside: again he implies he’s read every blasted paper out there. Impossible impossible man!

    Stop that! No need to be snide. If it was known, you can damn well bet it would have been trotted out by now and not left in some obscure paper. And more, it would have been incorporated into the models and they would have better performance. The models suck so something obviously is missing from them. Am I to suppose you are saying the modelers are too stupid to incorporate all of what is known about the climate in their models?

  78. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Only after the fact and that’s not predicting.

    Granted. Which is why GCMs are far more complicated. With complication comes more opportunity for error. They also output more than just GAT, and in geographic grids.

    I’m with you, I have my doubts it will ever be useful. Where we differ is that I don’t think that nobody is trying to get it right. My default assumption is that most everyone invested in it is because that makes more sense. Perhaps I’m just projecting my own 80 hour per week work ethic when I’ve got a gnarly problem to solve on deadline … I don’t know.

    Have you ever looked at a GAT timeseries going further back than 20 years?

    Yes. The models are designed to do that. It’s what they mean by backcasting. They are predicting the training set. You do realize they keep changing the models so they will match the past, yes? That’s easy.

    I’m sure they tweak them constantly. They’re models. They’ve got known errors. They get new data as it comes in.

    It’s how it predicts the unseen future that should be of interested.

    Totally agree. Where I feel like you’re talking past me is that even a simple model looking only at observed data sufficiently demonstrates that turning down the CO2 will in all reasonable likelyhood lower the equilibrium GAT.

    It’s the lag time waiting for that to happen that needs forward looking modelling because that lag is decades long.

    Do you see any other deviations from the trend that look anything like the last 15 years?

    Nothing like the departure starting around 1998 but even if there were I would say it’s really sad they can’t predict even the training data. The model should excel (not a spreadsheet) at that. Notice the black line seems to track the blue until 1998 (although the separation is a bit eyebrow raising). You can hardly say it does that after 1998. Even in horseshoes and hand grenades you gotta get close.

    What’s not entirely clear for me here is whether they ran those models forward from ’83 based on training data prior to that year or not. If those runs are over the training data, you’ve got a great point.

    But that’s not how I’ve been reading that graph, so I suspect we’ve again been talking past each other.

    So you haven’t had Systems. OK. Then you don’t know what I meant. Everything has an upper limit. It means the temperature will keep rising uncontrollably to a point where it can’t get any higher. Although a bit opposite, it’s like a hole in the bottom of a bucket of water. The contents will continue to flow out until they are gone. Nothing will slow it down. Something — and who knows what — is preventing that from happening with CO2, so, either what we know about CO2 in closed systems (like bottles) doesn’t apply or there is far more to how it interacts in the atmosphere than we think — or both.

    Think I’ve got it, but am getting loopy. Will reread.

    I read a snippet some time back. Climatologist trying to calm the alarmists down and said that there’s nothing he knew of that indicates a full on runaway climate risk based on any reasonable emissions scenario, on the order of hundreds of times greater than expected.

    Also implying that there wasn’t any upper temperature limit within the reach of our predicted capability to throw out more GHGs. I guess I’ll have to find that one for you.

    The most likely place for that retained energy to go is into the water.

    This is not new news to anyone doing the research, it’s just new news to the newspapers because they’ve been pushing GAT for so long — especally when it was telling the politically expedient story.

    I totally get why sceptics are crying foul, but I’m not the least bit surprised; I saw this coming at least 5 years ago if not longer because I already knew how much actual temps waggled around the equilibrium mean on decadal, or longer, time frames.

    Trenberth is the best guy to read on this if you haven’t already. Full of models, reconstructions and the like, but we simply don’t have better data going back far enough. We’re getting better data now that we have more Argo floats going deeper and more of the kinks worked out.

    A good smoking gun would be if they could get a better handle on outgoing IR, last I read the satellites just aren’t up to distinguishing (I think this is right) the IR direct from the surface vs. IR from TOA.

    Aside: again he implies he’s read every blasted paper out there. Impossible impossible man!

    Stop that! No need to be snide. If it was known, you can damn well bet it would have been trotted out by now and not left in some obscure paper. And more, it would have been incorporated into the models and they would have better performance. The models suck so something obviously is missing from them. Am I to suppose you are saying the modelers are too stupid to incorporate all of what is known about the climate in their models?

    I should have put a smiley after that. It was a friendly, albeit somewhat tired and frustrated jab, sorry to have offended.

    No, the modellers are not too stupid. They’re trying to nail down various aperiodic oscillations like ENSO and PDO. There are 30 year, 10 year, 5 year oscillations and everything in between going on all over the place. All of which interact with each other in one form or another (see teleconnections I believe?). Stack two or three of those big ones up in any given year and you get 1998. What goes up must come down, and so it has.

    To really do it right with pure physics simulations — and personally I don’t think they’re going to get it — they’d need to model the entire ocean, plus atmosphere, plus clouds. That’s a lot of fluid dynamics.

    Right now, my impression is that they’re “cheating” by modeling those parameters stochastically and then taking averages of multiple model runs to get a bounded range of averages. Which is sufficient for risk analysis, but clearly not for GAT in 2050 +/- 0.05 C, or any other single year prior.

    To top it off, they’ve got to model aerosols which is tough because there are human factors and fully unpredictable things like volcanoes. What else. Oh yeah, solar irradiance. The 11ish year cycle is fairly regular, but there are other lower frequency oscillations that wander all over the place in amplitude.

    In sum, we know enough that we want to be stepping on the brake, and which pedal it is. We don’t know enough to predict the stopping distance. Does that make sense?

  79. Brandon: All models are inaccurate is a denialist statement unless you have actually studied the models. Belief that some are accurate is either blind faith or you really did study the models, and which you will not provide answers about which are accurate. So, either you have no opinion on the models, or blind faith, or denial. Which is it? If you have no opinion, please have the courtesy to so state so you don’t appear to just be provoking rather than actually trying to learn.

    Do you have any evidence or experience that shows money flows to the best research. Government money rarely flows toward anything based on “best” but rather on partisanship and money donated to campaigns. It would be intellectually dishonest to believe that science is somehow exempt from this, not to mention the people providing the money have no more, if as much, understanding of the science as any other citizen. Its’ not based on science, so that pretty much leaves politics.

    Thank you for acknowledging that you are not a mind reader. Your holding back based on what you think people will discuss is little different from the previous blog post on Briggs about the offensive sign, where you argued I could not know what the person was thinking. It seems you start with what you believe is not going to get into too much of an argument or name calling and work up, rather than just presenting your views. It may be safer for you that way, but it is off-putting to many people.

    I understand Milankovitch–have read numerous articles and some of the books I have read have this in them. I did not find that it addressed snowball earth. (Still I love the idea…) I have also read on how landscape changes affect climate, how the jet stream may not be responsible for the warm English weather, do proxies actually relate to the instrumental record, etc. There’s just so much we don’t know about climate and what we do know is incredibly complex.

    “The best climate for us is the one that’s the least uncertain”? Why? Why is change bad? Why is adapting bad? And doesn’t that run contrary to evolution, where change is what made life stronger–or wiped it out–over time. Fear of climate change is pretty much a fear of change, which human beings excel at. There’s not way to know what climate is best since this is the only one we have experienced. Consider that a born blind person cannot know if sight is better or not–he has not experienced it.

    (Will return later and address any other items that catch my eye.)

  80. Water vapour is rarely a forcing – but add heat you add water vapour so its a feedback.
    =================
    but atmospheric moisture has been going down for decades as temps have been going up, so this cannot be correct.

  81. It’s how it predicts the unseen future that should be of interested.
    =============
    computer models do not predict the future. they predict what the scientists doing the development believe the future will be. if they didn’t the scientists would think the models were in error and change the models until their prediction matched belief.

    successful fortune tellers do not tell your future. they are very good at reading people and telling you what you want to hear. The most successful fortune teller in history, The Oracle of Delphi didn’t become wealthy predicting the future. Otherwise they would have known they were about to be attacked and their fortune looted.

  82. Ye Olde Statisician

    May 28, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Brandon: All models are inaccurate is a denialist statement

    Actually, it’s a statement by the well-known statistician (and modeler) George E. P. Box, and it was made well before climate modeling became a political doctrine. It is a general caution to all those who believe in neo-Pythagorean number magic. The map is not the territory; and the model is not the physics. And there’s many a clatter ‘twixt the math and the matter.
    http://tofspot.blogspot.com/2014/02/americas-next-top-model-part-i.html (et seq.)

    The full quote is:
    “All models are wrong, but some are useful; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.”
    –George E. P. Box, “Robustness in the Strategy of Scientific Model Building,” in Robustness in Statistics, R.L. Launer and G.N. Wilkinson, eds. (Academic Press, 1979)

  83. Brandon: You keep asserting that government funded institutes want the best policy out there to avoid hazards. Under this administration (in the US) punitive closings of national parks occurred, veterans memorials were closed, and every “cut” made has been to punish people for not going along with the administration. Why would I believe they cared in the least about getting the “right” answer on global warming? Odds are, they’ll all be dead before their mistakes are noticed. I don’t believe they care at all.

    You admit that ocean circulation and cloud simulation are not being adequately used in the models, if I understand you. Through in volcanoes and sunspots, and you have at least four very influential parts of the climate that are not currently modeled. What appears to be left is that CO2 causes a greenhouse effect and the other stuff may or may not overcome that. Personally, I can’t find it within my scientific self to accept any model that is so lacking in data. When we can accurately model these things and can show that with 95% probability based on real-world data that currents, clouds and volcanoes cannot overcome the CO2 we are adding, then maybe I reconsider. First, we have to understand how nature balances the planet and stop jumping to the conclusion that we humans can somehow destroy that balance. (In answer to your statement about stepping on the brakes, at this point, I see it as starting to break 10 miles out from a stop sign you think you will see down the road. First, we need to know the stop sign is there.)

    People who do not want to jump in with a bit of evidence and immediately start panicking are not apathetic. Many skeptics are all for nuclear power, as you state you are. I know of few, if any people, who would balk at new very efficient methods of producing power. No one wants dirty air–that’s why there are scrubbers on coal plants and catalytic converters on cars. Don’t assume that just because someone does not see CO2 as a threat that they don’t care about the planet. You’re ascribing motives and claiming to know how someone thinks again.

    Just to avoid animosity, can we agree that no one has read every paper out there? Statements like “we don’t know what it is” means the writer has found nothing that explains this. If you have evidence to prove that such a document exists, present it. Otherwise, constantly saying someone has not read all the papers and could be wrong is basically saying there might be unicorns because no one has looked everywhere. (I see your apology, so please stop using the phrase–it’s counter-productive and a logical fallacy.)

    You are correct on the “heat is in the oceans” idea always having been there. Global warming scientists brought this upon themselves by claiming the GAT was what we needed to look at. Then, suddenly, the anomalies from the GAT disappeared, so they pulled out the ocean. Not a smart move.

    Jon Jermey: Checked under cushions maybe?

  84. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

    YOS: You have me dead to rights. I do understand the principle, but was overstating. A more nuanced rebuttal: to assume that all models are unusable on the basis of one or few of the entire set of models is a denialist statement.

  85. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Sheri:

    YOS caught me in an inaccurate statement about inaccurate models. All models are inaccurate, or else they’d be reality.

    No opinion, blind faith, denial. You left out a category, informed opinion. But on climate change which is so complex informed opinion honestly feels like blind faith sometimes. My grounding is the theory I learned from first principles. My informed opinion is highly sceptical but cautiously accepting of the concensus.

    I have anecdotal evidence that grant money flows towards research who are best at writing grants. It is quite a political process as well. But doing crap research consistently does not play well. Any institution hiring a researcher wants them to publish good science and get it published in prestigious journals. The net motivation is to do good science.

    Heck yes, I’m provocative. Are you kidding? Look again at the tone of this article! 🙂

    On being offputting. There are a thousand ways that I’m offputting in online debates, just like everyone else. It’s the nature of the beast. My tone often follows the tone of the original poster. In this case, my play was to start of terse, and to challenge poor arguments in a similarly mocking and sarcastic tone matching that of Briggs. I would then become more conversational when responses answered the questions I was asking.

    When the original post is more conversational, i.e., less confrontational and snarky, intelligently and fairly argued, my initial stance is completely different. I agree agreeably with opinions different from my own if the OP treats the subject material rationally and fairly by my personal definitions of those terms.

    Still, emotion frequently gets the better of me and I act like a jerk, exhibit the same illogic that I’m being critical of, etc.

    On Milankovitch. In my haste I missed it that your question was mainly about snowball earth. I don’t know anything different than your prof. I watched one documentary that discussed it as part of a summary of the entire history of climate, and if memory serves, it was inconclusive on proposed mechanisms. I got the impression that there are only SWAGs and maybe a few “legitimate” hypotheses. We do seem reasonably confident that it happened, but not entirely sure why.

    “The best climate for us is the one that’s the least uncertain”? Why? Why is change bad?

    It’s not a comment on change being bad. It’s a comment on uncertainty, meaning lack of knowledge, being a risk. The converse questions are why is change good? What’s wrong with how things are now?

    All of those questions have the same uncertainty because the only way to answer them is from the same collection of evidence and what we think we know about it.

    All ties go to the least risky option when all of us are subject to the same risks. What individuals do in terms of risky decisions for themselves, so long as they don’t have major impact on others, is their business.

    Why is adapting bad? And doesn’t that run contrary to evolution, where change is what made life stronger–or wiped it out–over time.

    You ask an interesting question. As this is getting long, and because I want to do it justice, I am going to defer it for another time. Feel free to remind me if I don’t take it up on my own later.

    Fear of climate change is pretty much a fear of change, which human beings excel at.

    Basic human nature is to fear the unknown. Liberals and conservatives both manipulate it for political gains. That does not mean that the underlying arguments necessarily lack merit. I do take issue with the stench of how the arguments are prosecuted.

    There’s not way to know what climate is best since this is the only one we have experienced.

    As a rhetorical question, that is very good. File that one to ask me later. For now, I stand on the princple that we’d all feel safer if:

    1) The alarmists would turn off the klaxons.
    2) The liberal politicians would drop their stauch orthodoxy against nuclear power and climate engineering.
    3) The conservative politicians would quit undermining climate science for political leverage.
    4) If everyone discussing science and politics on this topic would work to keep those separate and evaluate each on their own merits or lack thereof instead of constantly conflating them.
    5) Everyone would ratchet down the fallacy, wilful ignorance, selective factoid swapping, personal attacks … ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
    6) Work together to find near- and mid-term solutions that stimulate the economy and mitigate risk.

    Won’t happen, right? Chances are slim in my view.

    Consider that a born blind person cannot know if sight is better or not–he has not experienced it.

    Conversely, a sighted person probably doesn’t have to cover their eyes for a week to imagine that being permanently blind would suck. Cheers.

  86. The real question is….are the models, observations, and physics theory (a.k.a. The Science) good enough for decision X? This is inherently a judgment call backed by science, in other words, politics.

    Should we be moving away from carbon heavy based energy where economically feasible? Yes.

    Should we be focusing on R & D for clean cheap energy? Yes.

    Should nuclear power be revived? Yes.

    Low hanging fruit picked.

    Harder:

    Based on the state of The Science, how much more taxes are YOU willing to pay, and how much more are YOU willing to pay on your monthly power bill? Please note I am not asking how much of other people’s money you think should be spent. My understanding is the public is willing to put about $10/month into it. Spend it wisely.

    Is the current performance of the models good enough to suggest catastrophic climate outcomes are LIKELY? I very much doubt that. Drive a 100 miles south and you will find an average 2C warmer world that doesn’t look like the apocalypse.

    Even Harder:

    Will a US based carbon tax be effective in stopping possible negative climate outcomes? No. The action is all about India and China, et. al. What the US can best provide is technical innovation towards clean cheap energy.

    Are solar and wind really viable solution for the US power grid? No. Too many areas with too many limitation and cost prohibitive still.

    If we wait a few decades to better contain the models, will it be “too late to act”? I find this argument (tipping points) rather unconvincing. If we could run the models in the afternoon to verify them, nobody would be arguing we need to take preventative action in the morning.

    Is a binding global climate treaty that would make it through ratification in the US Senate feasible? 0.000% chance through the current UN structure. Why are they wasting their time?

    Hardest?

    Has climate science become so politicized and corrupted by green political agendas in the US, that it has become unreliable? My opinion is yes it has. Media hype on ice sheet collapses and tenuous at best extreme event attribution has blown way past what The Science has to say.

    The tyranny and gate keeping of the consensus makes it near impossible for people to make good judgments on the merit of skeptical viewpoints.

  87. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Sheri:

    You keep asserting that government funded institutes want the best policy out there to avoid hazards.

    Not really. Government is inherently inefficient. So is any large-scale human enterprise. See any very large software developer, open source or proprietary.

    Free-markets are not the magic bullet their most radically devout worshippers claim. Profit motivation is necessary for a healthy economy, but makes for poor government. Corporate shareholders’ votes are weighted by the number of shares they own. Multi-party republics with true democratic elections afford each of their citizens an equal influence on the outcome.

    Under this administration (in the US) punitive closings of national parks occurred, veterans memorials were closed, and every “cut” made has been to punish people for not going along with the administration.

    Yes, some noisy elements of the far right shed many crocodile tears at such things.

    Holding the government hostage by threatening to keep the Treasury from meeting obligations undermines the faith of its creditors to be repaid. The tendency is for rating agencies to downgrade our credit ratings which raises the cost of debt and further contributes to budget deficits.

    It does suck that the VA may have taken some hits. But that’s the least of the VA’s problems. I’d say the bigger issue is the massive increase in wounded, maimed, disabled and traumatised veterans of a war that we never should have fought.

    I’ll spare you the rant about how failing to prevent the Iraq invasion was yet another unforgivable failure on the part of spineless nitwitted Congressional Democrats.

    Closing national parks for a few days or weeks (however long, doesn’t matter) compared to undermining our ability to borrow pales by comparison.

    OTOH, I was really hacked off that the NOAA website was down for a week. Hopping burning fiery boiling urban heat island furious. 🙂

    Why would I believe they cared in the least about getting the “right” answer on global warming?

    I share your scepticism for reasons I’ve laid out elsewhere several times already. But it’s not the only question to be asking:

    1) The fossil fuel industry has several significant motivations to put off climate mitigation efforts for the very reason that such efforts necessarily reduce demand for their product. That would undoubtedly reduce their top line revenues, profit margins, and therefore their bottom line income. Their shareholders clearly do not want this as it would drive down earnings per share, dividend payments and the biggest of all, the price per share.

    2) Conversely, the fossil fuel industry stands much to gain if they are successful at achieving their obvious motivations. As demand rises for their product and resources become more scarce, prices will likely rise faster than the cost of their product, resulting in the exact opposite scenario outlined in the previous paragraph.

    Additionally, the fossil fuel bears little comparative climate risk compared to other industries. Agriculture is one example, the property insurance sector is another. If ever there were a perfect example of risk sensitive businesses taking climate risk seriously, it’s the insurance companies.

    True, the fossil fuel industry has significant infrastructure in coastal areas, but their product itself is not sensitive to climate in the same way that industrialized agricultural concerns are. And you can bet with 100% certainty that their internal risk management departments will be insuring the hell out of their coastal refinery operations as those policies come up for renewal. All while simultaneously doing everything they can to keep that knowledge from the public.

    That’s just how publicly traded industries work. There’s nothing for it but to recognize that reality and accept it for what it is: a very necessary evil. One that is on average a net benefit, and clearly the best economic system ever invented by humanity.

    Now, if you had any significant money in a publicly traded fossil fuel portfolio, which scenario would you prefer given those, and only those two choices?

    I unabashedly answer for myself: the first one. Have at me.

    Odds are, they’ll all be dead before their mistakes are noticed. I don’t believe they care at all.

    We’ll all be dead before we find out whether the worst case scenarios on either side of this cock-up come true. This is a self-nullifying argument when applied so broadly.

    You admit that ocean circulation and cloud simulation are not being adequately used in the models, if I understand you. Through in volcanoes and sunspots, and you have at least four very influential parts of the climate that are not currently modelled. What appears to be left is that CO2 causes a greenhouse effect and the other stuff may or may not overcome that. Personally, I can’t find it within my scientific self to accept any model that is so lacking in data.

    Volcanoes, sunspots (total solar irradiance in general), aerosols are being researched and modelled, Sheri. I’ve downloaded the data for all of that stuff and played around with it on my own. It wouldn’t be out there if climatologists weren’t using it.

    They are not being modeled well enough make “adequate” predictions. It may be impossible to do so, but that depends on the constantly arbitrary and/or unquantified use of “adequate”. Therefore, that word’s use is constantly abused to the point that it lacks any meaning or force in an argument. That’s 9/10ths of what I was pounding on DAV about yesterday.

    (In answer to your statement about stepping on the brakes, at this point, I see it as starting to break 10 miles out from a stop sign you think you will see down the road. First, we need to know the stop sign is there.)

    That is the exact opposite of how I learned to drive. If you took driver training at all, you were trained no differently.

    People who do not want to jump in with a bit of evidence and immediately start panicking are not apathetic.

    I agree. You’re mangling my argument.

    Many skeptics are all for nuclear power, as you state you are. I know of few, if any people, who would balk at new very efficient methods of producing power.

    If you lived in my town, you’d consider nuclear anything a swear word. There are signs posted all over saying “Nuclear Free Zone” with higher concentrations near the borders of said city. I kid you not.

    I’d get lynched promoting nuclear fission as a clean and green energy solution with all sort of immediate economic and life-saving benefits. Not the least of which is combating the very thing that so many of my nuttarded lunatic activist whacko neighbors are so freaked out about.

    And ohhhh the gloriously tasty irony of it all; we even have our very own eponymous synthetic radioactive element. Pull up a periodic table of the elements and you can’t miss it. You’ll find it near another element named the state which said city is located.

    [skips merrily away, chortling]

    No one wants dirty air–that’s why there are scrubbers on coal plants and catalytic converters on cars. Don’t assume that just because someone does not see CO2 as a threat that they don’t care about the planet. You’re ascribing motives and claiming to know how someone thinks again.

    I don’t make the assumption that people who don’t see CO2 as a threat don’t care for the planet. That’s a libtard talking point. If it leaked into something of mine you’ve read, please point me directly to it so I can better know how to respond.

    Just to avoid animosity, can we agree that no one has read every paper out there?

    Please yes please yes please.

    Statements like “we don’t know what it is” means the writer has found nothing that explains this.

    Mmmm, people who say “It’s not there, there’s no evidence of it at all” when I damn well know better are going to get their argument smacked down like a red-headed stepchild. Note: the argument, not the person so far as I am able.

    Experience tells me that the above is the most effective approach to a weak or wholly meaningless argument. Even so, it’s usually not very effective, just marginally better than other approaches I’ve tried. If two or three knocks on the head don’t remedy the problem, I look for other, better uses of my time.

    The more conversational approach is to say, “I’m not aware of any evidence X explaining outcome Y. Do you have any?”

    (I see your apology, so please stop using the phrase–it’s counter-productive and a logical fallacy.)

    You’ve lost me again on which statements you’re looking at. Context is important because my responses vary with 1) my emotional state and 2) the attitude of my interlocutor. Yes those are ordered by significance, most to least. 🙂

    You are correct on the “heat is in the oceans” idea always having been there. Global warming scientists brought this upon themselves by claiming the GAT was what we needed to look at. Then, suddenly, the anomalies from the GAT disappeared, so they pulled out the ocean. Not a smart move.

    You’re seeing the same outcomes that I am. My opinions on the root cause is different. The further from the science one gets, the more simplistic, slogany and non-educating the message. As well as the most emotionally loaded and politically motivated.

  88. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Sheri, Errata:

    Now, if you had any significant money in a publicly traded fossil fuel portfolio, which scenario would you prefer given those, and only those two choices?

    I unabashedly answer for myself: the first one. Have at me.

    Should be the second one, IE, the one most beneficial to the fossil fuel industry.

  89. Change is neither good or bad. It’s reality. I ascribe to it no value, but most of society seems to fear it. Virtually every minute of every future is uncertain. All of life is uncertain. The best way is to embrace it, not try to stop it or hide from it. Otherwise, it’s hiding from reality.

    Your response to the born blind person does not follow. The point was it is not a different climate that would be good or bad, but rather we have no knowledge of anything except what we see here and now. Yes, if the climate were to change to an ice age or a hot house, we would then see the difference and make comparisons. Right now, we have absolutely nothing to compare climate to except castles in our minds. (Translation: We only can only imagine a different general climate on Earth as we have never experienced one, other than the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warming period (assuming you consider those worldwide), of which warm looked better. It’s all a dream of the future.)

    Are you really advocating just continuing to spend, spend, spend and ignore the reality of the debt. In my previous life as a debt counselor, I would have been canned for saying things like that. As well I should have been. Failure to meet payment and downgrading of credit is the proper response to the overspending. Actions must have consequences or behaviour does not change. Anyone who borrows from relatives and neighbors never cuts their spending. Trust me on this–I was a certified counselor. 🙂

    The fossil fuel industry has nothing whatsoever to lose at this point–that’s a myth. Most large firms have wind, solar, nuclear and geothermal in addition to oil. And again, I am all for the insurers taking a hit. Only when thing hurt do people change their behaviour. Building on flood plains, using water in California for Hollywood lawns, Texas failing to plan ahead on the drought–all very bad consequences, which if allowed to actually occur, would be a good thing. Pain in there for a reason.

    No, in driver’s training, no one instructed me to start braking 10 miles out for a stop sign someone predicted would be there. Not in the defensive driving course, either. I have to see the sign, then brake.

    Sorry on the nuclear. I live in Wyoming and my husband worked at a uranium mine. I love posting pictures of those radiation signs the Feds make the reclaimed mines put up for like 10,000 years. I really wasn’t referring to nuclear energy, but maybe something totally new, or maybe a variant on nuclear that people aren’t irrationally terrified of. (Kind of like LED lights were very new and different)
    (Okay, you got me to look up the periodic table with your chortling. Cute.)

    Your question on significant money in fossil fuels–I don’t understand the question.

    “If it’s an “unknowable” problem, then there really is no stopping it. Fortunately most people on this rock aren’t as prone to apathy as you are.” directed at DAV is where I picked up the apathy/apathetic idea.

  90. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Tom Scharf:

    Based on the state of The Science, how much more taxes are YOU willing to pay, and how much more are YOU willing to pay on your monthly power bill? Please note I am not asking how much of other people’s money you think should be spent.

    Complicated figure to pick out of thin air. It would depend on how much of that would stimulate the overall economy, if at all, or how much drag it would put on the same.

    It would also matter a great deal where it was reinvested. I’d put it all into bringing down the cost of renewable technologies. I’d prefer more R&D than subsidy, with R&D on the most mature and already more cost efficient technologies … especially ones already being deployed fitting those efficiency criteria.

    The plug factor here is the net CO2 mitigation. IOW, how much fossil fuel use can I replace for the least per energy unit cost.

    My understanding is the public is willing to put about $10/month into it. Spend it wisely.

    I’ll take that as a per-capita number with no exemptions for dependents. With 2013 GDP per capita at 52,800 per the CIA world fact book, that works out to a 2.27% tax per head.

    Ouch.

    Will a US based carbon tax be effective in stopping possible negative climate outcomes? No. The action is all about India and China, et. al. What the US can best provide is technical innovation towards clean cheap energy.

    I’ve been saying that for years. My understanding is that China leads the US in R&D spent on renewable technologies. Absolute terms I believe, but don’t have the figures handy. They’re not easy to find, and China isn’t exactly forthcoming about such things.

    It’s long since been time to get off our butts about this. And don’t get me started again on how screwed our anti-nuke sentiments have been.

    Are solar and wind really viable solution for the US power grid? No. Too many areas with too many limitation and cost prohibitive still.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost_of_electricity_by_source

    US DOE estimates for total system levelized costs, new plants going into production by 2019:

    $/kWh Generation Technology
    —– ———————–
    47.90 geothermal
    64.40 natural gas conventional
    66.30 natural gas advanced
    80.30 wind (on shore)
    84.50 hydro
    95.60 conventional coal
    96.10 advanced nuclear
    102.60 biomass
    130.00 solar pv
    204.10 wind offshore
    243.10 solar thermal

    Nuclear a hands-down winner again for lowering CO2, especially compared to coal. It’s a dead wash costwise.

    Wind of course won’t scale, is intermittent … not a baseload power source, but a no-brainer in terms of cost. But see: unsightly, kills birds and maintenance guys.

    Solar PV will scale, less intermittent than wind in the right location (think southwest), but only works half the day. Still, if you’re looking to get something out of a 2.25% tax increase, it’s not a horrible long term option to begin rolling out in the very near term. Depends on the ramp-up rate.

    Biomass, dunno what eggsactly what they’re talking about here. Probably agricultural waste and the like. Carbon neutral, makes sense, dunno how much room there is for it to scale.

    Hydro, hard sell politically. Really reliable though. Don’t know how much it will scale.

    Geothermal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy_in_the_United_States

    Huh, some say that 9 western states could generate 20% of the nation’s power. Did not know that. Could really offset a lot of that two and a quarter percent tax and put a big dent in CO2 emissions … a tennish percent decrease sound right? No less than 5%?

  91. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Sheri:

    Change is neither good or bad. It’s reality. I ascribe to it no value, but most of society seems to fear it. Virtually every minute of every future is uncertain. All of life is uncertain. The best way is to embrace it, not try to stop it or hide from it. Otherwise, it’s hiding from reality.

    The societal error from the left is playing up the warming without reinforcing the message that any climate change presents a risk. Drastic cooling would be a Bad Idea as well.

    The argument gets further muddled and powerless by selling it as “saving the planet”. Which is silly and disingenuous.

    The silly: the planet is going to be fine. It’s been through a lot worse.

    The disingenuous: aversion to admitting self-interest and confusing that with being altruistic.

    That does not mean that we cannot make value good/bad value judgements about climate change. What I can say is that we cannot make certain good/bad decisions when we’re very uncertain about the potential effects.

    We’re quite certain about the climate since the industrial revolution. We’re here after all, and over that 150 years we have adapted pretty well.

    The failed models people keep harping on about is the VERY reason that I beat my head into a steel-encased concrete wall when those same people say, “aw shucks, what’s the worry?”

    That’s not risk-management, it’s gambling. Granted, we may have the house advantage instead the other way ’round, but how can we calculate the odds from the uncertainty in the output of the models?

    Your response to the born blind person does not follow.

    Think I covered that above.

    Right now, we have absolutely nothing to compare climate to except castles in our minds.

    Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Some castles have dungeons, and not all dreams are good ones. See again uncertain risk and prudent behaviour in the face of risky uncertainty.

    Are you really advocating just continuing to spend, spend, spend and ignore the reality of the debt.

    No. Why do you think I am?

    The fossil fuel industry has nothing whatsoever to lose at this point–that’s a myth.

    It’s my considered opinion having worked for several fortune 100 companies as a consultant and knowing how the people running those companies think. They made me sign NDAs for a reason.

    In my previous life as a debt counselor, I would have been canned for saying things like that. As well I should have been. Failure to meet payment and downgrading of credit is the proper response to the overspending. Actions must have consequences or behaviour does not change. Anyone who borrows from relatives and neighbors never cuts their spending. Trust me on this–I was a certified counselor. 🙂

    I totally trust you on that principle so far as it applies to personal finance. It does not apply to national finance.

    It is not an option to force the US government into insolvency. If you think it is, then I don’t doubt that the remote and uncertain risks of potential negative impacts 50 to 100 years from now have little meaning to you. I don’t say this unkindly, I really don’t.

    The proper thing to do with government financial obligations that have already been taken on is to meet them without fail. Always. To give so much as a whiff to our creditors that we might miss a payment is irresponsible behavior of the highest order short of embezzlement or other corrupt misuse of public funds.

    Do not, under any circumstances, conflate meeting current debt payments for notes already on the books, with new spending that will incur more debt being introduced by whatever legislative body or political party who does it.

    Most large firms have wind, solar, nuclear and geothermal in addition to oil. And again, I am all for the insurers taking a hit. Only when thing hurt do people change their behaviour.

    I don’t want any business taking a hit. Especially not insurers. When that happens, premium costs skyrocket. And I like insurance, especially reasonably priced insurance. And no, I’m not hinting about healthcare here, completely separate topic.

    No, in driver’s training, no one instructed me to start braking 10 miles out for a stop sign someone predicted would be there. Not in the defensive driving course, either. I have to see the sign, then brake.

    In terms of climate, 50 years is is about 200 feet traveling at 35 mph. Rough guess.

    When you’re going around a blind corner, the accelerator is the wrong pedal to be using.

    Sorry on the nuclear. I live in Wyoming and my husband worked at a uranium mine. I love posting pictures of those radiation signs the Feds make the reclaimed mines put up for like 10,000 years.

    I love Wyoming. Beautiful state. 🙂

    I really wasn’t referring to nuclear energy, but maybe something totally new, or maybe a variant on nuclear that people aren’t irrationally terrified of. (Kind of like LED lights were very new and different)

    Yes LEDs are a good kind of change. Cheaper over the lifetime of the bulb than incandescent.

    Nuclear is the best option. It’s also the airline travel of transportation, safer but most feared. You’re more likely to die driving to work every day than being killed by a US air carrier, or a nuclear plant.

    It’s not the permanent long-term option though. I don’t see any reason to not be also working on other things that are less scary and less potentially polluting.

    Okay, you got me to look up the periodic table with your chortling. Cute.)

    I love this town, I do. But sometimes, ARGH.

    Your question on significant money in fossil fuels–I don’t understand the question.

    I muddled it. If you were heavily invested in petroleum stocks and had one of two choices, which would you take?

    1) No CO2 reduction and much higher future profits?
    2) Much CO2 reduction and lower short-term profits, potentially zero long-term profits?

    My answer is 1. If those were my only choices.

    “If it’s an “unknowable” problem, then there really is no stopping it. Fortunately most people on this rock aren’t as prone to apathy as you are.” directed at DAV is where I picked up the apathy/apathetic idea.

    That was quite harsh of me to put it that way, apoligies to DAV for that one.

    I took his comment as a conflation of uncertain future with our quite certain present and past. We do know the cause for future concern, and how to mitigate the risk. We know far less about what might happen if we can’t.

    Apathy, as in “aw shucks, if we don’t know the future problem, why worry about it now”, leaves out the important information we are dead certain about in the present.

    This is not a yes/no decision. That it often gets treated as such in media articles and public debate is a continually headache-inducing issue for me when I’m paying attention to it.

  92. Brandon: Why I thought you were advocating spending–your comment about considering defaulting on the debt. If we keep paying what we owe and keep spending, we’re toast.
    I do believe this applies to nations. Actually, I’m hard pressed to see that credit downgrading or bankruptcy has much effect on nations–Iceland for example. They just decided when and how much of the debt they would repay. Cities go bankrupt all the time. No noticeable effect…..
    It’s pretty much impossible to pay the debt and stop spending. It is simply refused by the Democrats. So I’d rather see a default than continue spending.
    Okay, the answer to your question on fossil fuel stocks–I can’t pick one or the other without knowing why I am making the choice. Profits are only part of the equation.
    I still can’t agree that people are going “aw shucks, if we don’t know the future problem” are reacting improperly. Try another example: (Briggs has used this one in the past, I believe) Suppose we can predict with 95% certainty that someone will become a sociopath. All the evidence is there. Do we lock these people away? We could possibly prevent future deaths. How sure do you have to be? Now, if for global warming, your only concern is that we move to nuclear power and that we work away from fossil fuels without massive government interference, then ignore the question.

  93. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Sheri:

    Why I thought you were advocating spending–your comment about considering defaulting on the debt.

    Understood, I reread it and there was a nuance I skipped. One thing where personal finance might apply here is someone who is a responsible debt user living within their means still wants to protect their credit rating by paying all their oustanding debt in a timely manner.

    If we keep paying what we owe and keep spending, we’re toast.

    “Keep paying what we owe” does not belong there. Two completely separate issues as I already explained at length. Clearly we cannot continue deficit spending forever, and like my risk management stance on climate change, I really do not want to find out how close to insolvency we can get before imploding.

    Here’s the current outlook:

    http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45229

    I do believe this applies to nations. Actually, I’m hard pressed to see that credit downgrading or bankruptcy has much effect on nations–Iceland for example. They just decided when and how much of the debt they would repay. Cities go bankrupt all the time. No noticeable effect…..

    For good reason. Iceland’s GDP is about 0.2% of the world’s economy. The US GDP is 22.63% of the world economy.

    When the housing bubble in the US burst in 2006, the credit market around the world puckered up, not just in real estate, which really did get pounded, but into other commercial lending, then central banks, the equity markets went haywire …. world wide. We triggered all that with a reckless home lending industry combined with lax debt securitization oversight.

    Yeah, no. We really don’t want the US Treasury to go belly up. We don’t even want to do a little experiment just to see what happens.

    It’s pretty much impossible to pay the debt and stop spending. It is simply refused by the Democrats. So I’d rather see a default than continue spending.

    [whistle] That’s some tough love right there, Sheri. I’d get into gold if you’re not already. But lots of canned food and land to grow lots more. Wyoming’s got bunches of it, especially if you like sugar beets. 🙂

    Oh, and I dare you to find definitive numbers on who runs up more spending/debt/deficits in the US, Dems or Repubs. Not just the past 8 years, not anecdotes, news articles, op-eds. Real numbers, 50 year timeframe should be sufficient.

    Okay, the answer to your question on fossil fuel stocks–I can’t pick one or the other without knowing why I am making the choice. Profits are only part of the equation.

    Oh, that’s a great answer. But I answered it honestly for myself: if I was big in oil stocks I’d not care one whit about reducing CO2 emissions at the expense of my holdings.

    I’m not big on oil holdings, my stuff is mixed up in index funds, some if it has to be in petroleum, coal and natural gas. But also in everything else. So I want the whole economy to do well.

    But I have to keep in mind what the oil guys are likely up to if I were holding their investment portfolio, and then look at what would happen if their industry took a beating.

    I don’t want to give their industry a beating. So I have a third option not listed in the binary choices I gave you.

    But in the real US of A, we really only have the two. And they both suck.

    I still can’t agree that people are going “aw shucks, if we don’t know the future problem” are reacting improperly. Try another example: (Briggs has used this one in the past, I believe) Suppose we can predict with 95% certainty that someone will become a sociopath. All the evidence is there. Do we lock these people away? We could possibly prevent future deaths. How sure do you have to be?

    As much as I’m wary of carbon taxes, they’re not a prison sentence handed out for pre-thoughtcrime.

    And one random sociopath can only kill 20 or 30 people on average. And the number of people killed every year by mass murderers is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall homicide rate. Which is peanuts compared to accidental deaths by trauma.

    You’re ~93% more likely to die from disease or old age than by any accident or crime according to CDC numbers if I’ve scratched the back of my napking correctly:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf

    Those kind of irrational fear based arguments don’t work on me. I’m not concerned or worried about being murdered by random whackos, who are after all humans. The climate is not a person, it’s a physical process. It won’t just up and decide to kill all of us.

    Briggs needs some new analogies.

    Now, if for global warming, your only concern is that we move to nuclear power and that we work away from fossil fuels without massive government interference, then ignore the question.

    I’m concerned mainly with the current politics of everything. I’m tired of both parties proposing stupid ideologically motivated non-solutions, and refusing to negotiate any kind of middle ground. (C)AGW/CC is the big one that I best understand from the theory/evidence side of things, which helps me understand a lot of general politics on this and other issues.

  94. The elusive heat is definitely not in the sea: Water temp at 4C (39F) is the heaviest – that’s how the learned people of the world invented ‘’kilogram’’ one liter of water (10sm3) of water at 4C is one kg heavy; warmer, OR colder water than 4C expands, and is not as heavy per volume. Therefore: water at 4C goes to the bottom and every layer above is by one degree warmer as it goes to the surface water, which is always the warmest, depends on what latitude, to how high it goes. (Only exception is: water of temp 3C to zero degrees CAN be found just above 4C; but that’s self explanatory why – because from 3C down to zero are not as heavy as at 4C)

    2] water is ‘’FLUID’’ and that’s why instantly readjusts itself, by temperature; you cannot have ‘’warmer’’ water below the colder, for more than few seconds, because of readjustment per weights / temperature. Water is not as solid object, which means: you can put block of polystyrene on the bottom, then put brick on the top of it, then put a lump of lead on the top, and will stay that way, BUT with fluid water… NEVER! :http://globalwarmingdenier.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/global-warming-or-climate-change/

  95. Brandon Gates

    May 28, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    You can actually learn a lot about convection just staring at a bowl of hot miso soup for a while.

  96. Brandon: Yes, personal finances do have people who want to pay their debts in a timely fashion. However, if they cannot find another source of income, they would have to cut spending. Such a restraint is absent in government, as they have the power to take all the money they want.

    Paying what we owe is most definitely tied to what we keep spending. It is a zero sum game. You spend more than you earn, you can’t pay what you owe. The government simply takes whatever money it wants and then when it runs out, they take more and more money. What you spend/spent is very much tied to current income level and spending.

    Agree to disagree? I don’t care if politicians reckless spending has worldwide consequences. Sometimes bad behaviour requires a really serious consequence to change it. Tough love? Not really–just the realization that there is a point at which people require a rude awakening and I’m for letting it happen sooner rather than later. (Gold doesn’t buy food or trade well for things one needs. Food stores and other useful items are better for those apocalyptic scenarios.)

    Spending by the government is non-partisan. All the idiots love to bribe voters and voters lap up bribes. Your qualfier “definitive” numbers is a hint to be very careful what sources I use for your acceptance of numbers. There are no definitive numbers anywhere–accounting is a creative way to hide spending and the government excels at it. I doubt anyone can find definitive numbers.

    You danced around the question of what to do with sociopaths……

    Totally agree on the sad state of politics. We could really use some responsible adults governing this country.

  97. Ye Olde Statisician

    May 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Brandon wins the thread: 64.2% of the word-count here is from Brandon’s comments! Congratulations!

    Naturally, the model is imperfect: it includes the avatars, date-time, and other parsley in both the numerator and denominator.
    + + +

    The missing heat is easy to find. It has migrated from the atmosphere to the debate. Fortunately, folks here chill out.

  98. Brandon: “And you can bet with 100% certainty that their internal risk management departments will be insuring the hell out of their coastal refinery operations as those policies come up for renewal. All while simultaneously doing everything they can to keep that knowledge from the public.”

    Insuring them against what?

    The 0.1 inches of sea level rise that might occur this year?

    The dearth of hurricanes over the last 6 years, with no increase in trends?

    You do realize insurance is typically renewed on a yearly basis, right?

  99. Sheri,

    “Paying what we owe is most definitely tied to what we keep spending. It is a zero sum game. You spend more than you earn, you can’t pay what you owe. ”

    I’m with you in concept, but it is not a zero sum game on a national level.

    An important difference here is the US owns and runs it’s own printing presses that print as much money as we like. If you could print money for your personal fiances, debt starts looking a little less threatening.

    Also using other people’s low interest money to build up your infrastructure can yield long term benefits if done wisely. Going into debt to buy an automobile can pay off handsomely if it allows you to achieve a significant higher income.

    That being said…is the US using these loans wisely to build up its infrastructure to yield long term benefits? Hard to answer yes to this. It appears to be using a lot of it for artificially raising its living standard.

    But having too much money is better than having too little. Imagine a world in which nobody would purchase US treasury bonds…life gets a lot harder for the US very quickly.

    If we magically doubled the amount of currency overnight by an all nighter printing party, doubled our salaries, and raised the cost of goods by 2x, nothing would seemingly change, but we get the benefit of paying our previous debts off at 2:1. National debt reduced by 2x over-night! Magic. Inflate your way out of international debt. Unfortunately the next time we try to sell US treasury bonds to borrow more money, we might find out that nobody trusts us anymore.

    We could also just give China the finger and say we aren’t paying them and let them try to beat it out of us. Possibly also not a wise strategy, but an option.

  100. Tom: Good point on the zero sum game. If we don’t limit the printing of money, it’s no zero sum. Whenever this comes up, I think back to reports years ago of people in Venuzula taking in wheelbarrows full of money to buy bread. Inflation on a massive scale. I don’t know if it was true, but the point was printing money may not actually solve the spending problem at all. Your post makes a great deal of sense. I’m still not sure I think that life getting harder fast in the US is a bad thing. I see the alternative as life getting harder slowly and being more set in. Hopefully, I’m wrong on that one.

  101. Brandon Gates

    May 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    YOS:

    Brandon wins the thread: 64.2% of the word-count here is from Brandon’s comments! Congratulations!

    Caveats about parsley aside, thanks for quantifying my verbosity. I have a rule about being as concise and non-repetitive as possible which I constantly fail to observe, especially on this topic.

  102. Brandon Gates

    May 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Sheri:

    Agree to disagree? I don’t care if politicians reckless spending has worldwide consequences.

    Ah, but see, that is not my argument. That’s the very conflation of responsible payment of already outstanding debt with the reckless practice of taking on new debt I am cautioning against.

    You are not the only person out there who is not distinguishing between the two. It’s an argument at a national level coming from people who are gaining more and more policy influence. Whether that is deliberate or not is something I cannot decide, and that to me is most worrisome of all.

    Sometimes bad behaviour requires a really serious consequence to change it. Tough love? Not really–just the realization that there is a point at which people require a rude awakening and I’m for letting it happen sooner rather than later.

    Has not the past 15 or so years not already been an illustration of the serious consequences caused by foolishly ill-considered reckless decisions?

    Re: gold. I was snarking, a riff on those opposed to fiat currencies. I see below that there potentially one of them in our midst. Yes, food, that’s what the sugar-beet/canned food ramble was about.

    Explicit message: if your political strategy is to hasten Federal insolvency as an object lesson in reckless spending, best you have a lot to eat for a long time. And a means to defend it. I hyperbolize — look at me appealing to fear! AAACK — but my fear is real. Please disabuse me of my fears if you can.

    Such a restraint is absent in government, as they have the power to take all the money they want. Spending by the government is non-partisan. All the idiots love to bribe voters and voters lap up bribes.

    Perfect, that was the point of my dare. As the party with the most influence over spending, it’s a reasonable to hold the Democrats most responsible for new spending, I just wanted to make sure you had the same longer historical view that I do.

    Your qualfier “definitive” numbers is a hint to be very careful what sources I use for your acceptance of numbers. There are no definitive numbers anywhere–accounting is a creative way to hide spending and the government excels at it. I doubt anyone can find definitive numbers.

    It was two hints, one of which you nailed just above. The second hint was that they really aren’t definitive, which you nailed in the recognition that both parties are composed of politicians who owe a lot of favors to their biggest campaign contributors.

    Since I feel we’re at least of the same mind on how politics work, I’m feeling more sharing. This is not exactly where I started my research years ago, but I think it’s a good one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_of_the_United_States

    That article contains three great graphs:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_by_President_%281940_to_2012%29.png

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_by_Senate_Majority_Party_%281940_to_2009%29.png

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Revenue_and_Expense_to_GDP_Chart_1993_-_2008.png

    Speaking of creative accounting. I’ve was asked to do it before, long time ago, on a temporary gig. I called my recruiter and she allowed me to fire myself from the project and placed me somewhere else.

    In my consulting work since then, I haven’t seen obvious malfeasance. I’m not an accountant, and especially not a forensic accountant. But I do look at a lot of raw G/L data that is dirty, broken and just plain sucky. It’s one of my many jobs to track that down and either fix it, or report it to someone who can.

    Because of those experiences, I subscribe to Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,” though I usually substitute out stupidity for something more relevant.

    In the case of Gummint fiscal data, I substitute “stupidity” with “overwhelming complexity”. The CBO is my Wikipedia for all things Federal Gummint. (In the case of GWB, all bets are off. Obama is entering that territory for me as well.)

    And dammit, I wrote way more than I intended to. Again. Screw it, I’m leaving it all in.

    You danced around the question of what to do with sociopaths……

    Yes, on purpose. I suspect that you’re trying to trap me into agreeing with a false analogy. Homie don’t play ‘dat. But note that I did explain why I thought it was a false analogy.

    Totally agree on the sad state of politics. We could really use some responsible adults governing this country.

    Which starts with us. You and me, right here, hashing it out together. Our leaders are only reflections of ourselves, writ large, but with a hell of a lot more money and power.

    But there are more of us than them. Somewhere along the way, it seems we’ve forgotten that.

  103. Brandon Gates

    May 29, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Tom Scharf:

    Also using other people’s low interest money to build up your infrastructure can yield long term benefits if done wisely. Going into debt to buy an automobile can pay off handsomely if it allows you to achieve a significant higher income.

    Careful now Tom, Keynesians are heretics in some circles. Have you been reading too much Krugman? 🙂

    We could also just give China the finger and say we aren’t paying them and let them try to beat it out of us. Possibly also not a wise strategy, but an option.

    Oh, so very spot on even in its bassakwardness. I hope you are snarking. I think you are.

    We’ve been selling them the farm for decades and complaining about it at the same time. It’s a crappy idea to stop paying them of course. As in stupidly unwise; even more so than it was to run up the tab with them the first place.

    Their beating would be like unto the Sheriff showing up to serve an eviction notice. Except that they’re also the bank as well. But unlike bankers rubber stamping foreclosure notices, they don’t want US to go to auction because they’re looking for new housing for pennies on the dollar.

    Or fen on the yuan if you wish, because it often seems like we’re asking for just that.

    Plus, they’re really shrewd negotiators backed by a ruthlessly efficient one-party government which disappears and likely executes high-ranking dissidents.

  104. Brandon: bassakwardness–Haven’t heard that one since my mother died. Interesting.

    I do in theory agree that existing debt payment is different from further spending. In reality, however, the two are like Siamese twins, especially in politics. I probably have a different view having worked with people in debt way too far. (As Tom noted, the government can just print money, so that complicates things.)

    I don’t see the sociopath question as a false analogy. It speaks to how certain you would have to be to act. I suspect the problem is the sociopath question is about one person you have standing in front of you at say, age 5. The global warming is a hypothetical with the same probability, but not nearly as personal. Perhaps a better question is if you have 95% probability and good data, should you act? The answer is usually yes in AGW and no in everything else. There is a question on degree of action, so you can plead that we could just surveil the sociopath until he starts to show an even higher degree of certainty of being dangerous. Still, the question of degree of certainty required to act still remains.

    Your fear will have to stay real on the Federal insolvency. I’m one of those people who rips off bandaids instead of slowing pulling. Heartless, I know. Rest assured, I have little power over how things turn out, so you can re-evaluate the fear factor.

    I hope there are more of “us” than them. Some days I’m not really sure.

    I’ll check out the wiki articles.

  105. Brandon Gates

    May 29, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    Sheri:

    bassakwardness–Haven’t heard that one since my mother died. Interesting.

    I just realized something … my mother didn’t use many punny words like that … wait: anywho. I knew there was at least one.

    I do in theory agree that existing debt payment is different from further spending. In reality, however, the two are like Siamese twins, especially in politics. I probably have a different view having worked with people in debt way too far.

    I believe you. First year med students are the biggest hypochondriacs on the planet. Reality is, doctors do get sick just like all the rest of us, and if their field is infectous disease, they’ve got more exposure risk. But possibly stronger immune systems from the constant exposure, although, not necessarily.

    That’s where your Siamese twins analogy clicks for me, but with the exception that politicians aren’t necessarily joined at the hip even when they act like it sometimes.

    Your fear will have to stay real on the Federal insolvency. I’m one of those people who rips off bandaids instead of slowing pulling. Heartless, I know. Rest assured, I have little power over how things turn out, so you can re-evaluate the fear factor.

    My fear factor is that people with policy influence are making the similar argument. It resonates with me as well. From a personal finance perspective, it makes absolute sense. And we’re collectively kicking ourselves, if we’re thinking properly, because the mortgage crisis is what triggered most of the fiscal woes of the past 8 or so years.

    I haven’t looked lately, but in terms of household finance, aren’t we pretty much the worst in the world for abusing revolving credit and having lowest savings rate?

    So when I see a political message circulating at the Federal level that mixes up national finance with personal finance, I get a bit twitchy right off the bat. When that message says, “paying our current obligations is irresponsible because we’re already living above our means” …. no. Immediate red flag, and I start looking around for what’s amiss.

    Not heartless, merciful. Tough love, remember? I do get the point so far as it goes; acute pain that promotes healing is better than prolonging a deadly chronic malignancy by wilfully ignoring it because you don’t like needles and chemotherapy makes you really sick.

    And that’s the rub. If the cure really is worse than the disease, I’ll take the disease. But only if I’m choosing for myself, and myself alone.

    When others are involved, I want to find a better cure. If a few band-aids and some pain meds keep the symptoms down in the short term, no issues with that either.

    (As Tom noted, the government can just print money, so that complicates things.)

    My second year macroeconomics class was really interesting. But money supply still eludes me. Well a lot of things did in that class. Great lectures, really hard exams. It’s very complicated.

    I don’t see the sociopath question as a false analogy. It speaks to how certain you would have to be to act. I suspect the problem is the sociopath question is about one person you have standing in front of you at say, age 5. The global warming is a hypothetical with the same probability, but not nearly as personal.

    In either case, the uncertainty of the predictions is extremely high. I got that part all along. That’s not what I think is false in the analogy here.

    Perhaps a better question is if you have 95% probability and good data, should you act? The answer is usually yes in AGW and no in everything else.

    For liberal partisan voters with a severe case of wanting to save Polar Bears, absolutely.

    That’s good old-fashioned confirmation bias hard at work. And Democratic politicians looking to get votes are plenty willing to keep feeding them with anecdotal factoids from the cherry tree outside their offices.

    (Caveat: what’s “everything else”?)

    There is a question on degree of action, so you can plead that we could just surveil the sociopath until he starts to show an even higher degree of certainty of being dangerous.

    Is it special pleading if the sociopath is less a risk to overall society than rising global temperatures? That’s one of the potential landmines I’m tap-dancing around.

    Still, the question of degree of certainty required to act still remains.

    There’s uncertainty in the degree of uncertainty if I’m reading Briggs correctly. It’s a damn good point, but it’s not the whole argument. And that’s why I don’t like the analogy much.

    When he tosses in “liberals are soft on sociopathic prethought crime, but tough on conservative prethought crime” messages between the lines, his whole argument flies right out the window.

    That’s why I may seem obstinate at times, but it’s really not that. I hope. Tough love, Sheri, and I welcome the same in return.

    The straight up statistical argument plays better for me.

    I hope there are more of “us” than them. Some days I’m not really sure.

    There are as many as who will believe that they are “us”.

    I’ll check out the wiki articles.

    Just found this guy today. Looks pretty balanced, but haven’t read enough yet. Lots of relevant graphs though. Worth a look if you’d like:

    http://www.marktaw.com/culture_and_media/politics/USA_debt_2009.html

  106. Brandon: If the sociopath is less a threat–I don’t know. I guess to me the level of certainty is what is important. The amount of potential damage may enter, but then where do we draw the line on how much damage? What if 95% (or 99.99%) probable sociopath is 13, a real genius, and can maybe steal a nuclear weapon and wipe out a country as he keeps saying he wants to do? How much certainty do we need? How much damage. You don’t need to answer–just something to think about. That does seem to be the reason people find AGW so compelling: the extreme potential for damage. As far as I can see, the potential for damage in trying to “fix” the problem is at least as great, considering the actions of the “Save the Polar Bears” crowd. Keep in mind I see the world through psychology and philosophy more than straight-out physics, so my ideas are often rooted in what I perceive as the most likely human reaction, rather than outright physics. I don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater and I don’t like trying to frighten people into action.

  107. Brandon Gates

    May 29, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Sheri:

    If the sociopath is less a threat–I don’t know.

    It’s hard to quantify, but a reasonable starting guess is that sociopaths are the least of pretty much any current or future global threat.

    I guess to me the level of certainty is what is important. The amount of potential damage may enter, but then where do we draw the line on how much damage?

    Where the near-term cost of the mitigation is less than the long-term cost of the damage. In the case of AGW, both are highly uncertain.

    The long-term being even more uncertain. Which is pretty much always the case — more future, more uncertain.

    Thinking in the present, assume all homicides are committed by sociopaths. The homicide rate in the US is 5.2 per 100,000 people (age adjusted), and going down. It used to be the 15th leading cause of death in the US, and is now 16th.

    Something we’re doing is lowering the rate, it could be that we’re already putting a lot more people in prison. The Freakonomics guys said it was because of Roe v. Wade.

    Prisons are costly, and they’re a favorite among conservatives. Abortions cost next to nothing, but liberals seem to love ’em.

    All I know with high confidence is that the rate of homicide is dropping, so I’m not really interested in who is right and who is wrong … less people are being killed by each other and that makes me happy.

    Liberals say that we need to tax carbon dioxide because it’s killing polar bears now, and if we don’t keep taxing carbon, we’re all dead in (pick a number) of years. “OMG, the hurricanes are a-comin’ get out the hip waders.”

    Conservatives say that plants like carbon dioxide. And that they like balmy weather, cheap gasoline, and big convertibles to drive around in so that they can enjoy both. “What’s to worry about? Keep your grubby liberal hands out of my wallet because I’m saving up for bigger ski boat.”

    Both are making absolute statements of fact about things which have absolutely no business being anywhere near 95% confidence.

    What if 95% (or 99.99%) probable sociopath is 13, a real genius, and can maybe steal a nuclear weapon and wipe out a country as he keeps saying he wants to do? How much certainty do we need? How much damage. You don’t need to answer–just something to think about.

    I have thought a lot about it. As a species we don’t have a history of stopping globally dangerous sociopaths quickly enough. If we really cared that much about it, all of Africa would be under UN martial law right now, and hang the cost, no matter how much it is.

    Some choices are pretty easy to make, especially they don’t directly affect you. That’s a BIG hint.

    That does seem to be the reason people find AGW so compelling: the extreme potential for damage. As far as I can see, the potential for damage in trying to “fix” the problem is at least as great, considering the actions of the “Save the Polar Bears” crowd.

    I see the same thing, but haven’t rested on the opinion that slowing down the problem is necessarily more expensive in today’s dollars than the cost of mitigating the damage in tomorrow’s dollars.

    And I can’t even hope to begin to do that net present value calculation because there are so many unknowns, so many assumptions, it’s …. well it’s a huge world and one person can’t figure it out on their own.

    Keep in mind I see the world through psychology and philosophy more than straight-out physics, so my ideas are often rooted in what I perceive as the most likely human reaction, rather than outright physics. I don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater and I don’t like trying to frighten people into action.

    I loathe the politics of fear. Whenever it’s being employed, I immediately smell a rat, and then start digging to find out where the little bugger is hiding. But I’m not always objective about fear. No one is.

    The nice thing about the global warming problem is that it’s rooted in physics. The planet’s mood does not change. It doesn’t get angry or afraid, and doesn’t care what any of us think about it.

  108. Brandon: Big hint may not be a good idea. Sometimes they backfire. Which of my choices don’t affect me personally? Who’s to say my choices aren’t based on right/wrong or probability no matter what. There actually are people like that. You’re reading the blog of a person who seems to have the same philosophy.

    Yes, global warming is rooted in physics, but that does not make it certain like gravity. The models, the assumptions, etc are not straightforward physics. Far from it. The planet does what it does, but our interpretation of it is not that clear. Perhaps sometime we can discuss that–though it’s very tough to discuss things if I’m the only one inputting the model problems, etc.
    I must go now.

  109. Brandon Gates

    May 29, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Sheri:

    Everyone who has a political opinion thinks that their solution is the best for everyone else. Myself included. That was the point of the hint. When there are two polar opposite ideas about what’s best for everybody, it is impossible for both camps to be 100% right.

    For complex decisions like global warming, it’s all but impossible to objectively determine whether one or the other is completely correct. Yet, that’s how the issue is largely being debated. Each side accuses the other of wanting to either destroy the economy and kill everyone, or destroy the planet and kill everyone. At the same time, each side is saying that they’re only trying to do what’s best for everybody.

    That’s increasingly how most political issues are being debated in the US. That’s a problem.

    Yes, global warming is rooted in physics, but that does not make it certain like gravity. The models, the assumptions, etc are not straightforward physics. Far from it. The planet does what it does, but our interpretation of it is not that clear.

    Absolutely. I fully agree. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    Perhaps sometime we can discuss that–though it’s very tough to discuss things if I’m the only one inputting the model problems, etc.

    I’d rather talk about the models myself, the politics make my head hurt. That’s why I like it that this issue is because I can retreat to the science and get centered. Problem is hardly anyone who discusses this online agrees on the reliability of the underlying data.

    For example, contrarians happily talk about global temperature during the MWP and LIA, but trash the instrumental temperature record because “all” the thermometers are in parking lots.

    Or, they’ll point to Vostok ice cores and say, “see, temperatures go up and down all the time and … ooh look … CO2 lags temperature, so we know that’s not the reason.” But then when Trenberth publishes a modern ocean heat content reconstruction using modern measurement instrumentation, the denialbots jump out of the woodwork and cry foul because it all uses computer models.

    When I’m asking you and DAV and others to go do homework, I’m not just being an arrogant ass. Yes, I know you’ll learn more if you do it yourself, but what I’m also doing is asking you to find some data that you trust. A graph that you want to talk about. If I try to guess, long experience has shown that I’ll just end up tearing my hair out.

  110. Brandon: The hint is definitely backfiring. You keep harping on “homework” after I have taken classes, read books, spent hundreds of hours researching for multiple years, read research paper after research paper, have notebooks full of climate change information, writing a blog, etc. How much more homework do you think one person can do? I AM doing it MYSELF and you’re not helping your cause here. I have an open thread on my blog at the moment. Feel free to trip over and comment while I continue to read, take classes, research and write.

  111. Brandon,

    I have a lot more faith in what has been actually measured, than what has been projected for the future, and what has been reconstructed through proxies. Unfortunately detailed climate observations are only available for a couple decades in many cases, and less in others. The Argo deep ocean monitoring is only about 10 years old, good measurements on aerosols is maybe 30 years old.

    My trust of reconstructions is admittedly colored by my own detailed investigation of the Hockey Stick which I do not want to debate again here. Suffice it to say that if one is inclined to confirmation bias, then models and reconstructions are your play land. Can some scientists be unbiased? Of course, but Mann was a mess, and he hid it, and the IPCC headlined him. How does one separate the good from the bad? Peer review doesn’t do it.

    Even with confirmed observations, the blatant misrepresentation of data trends occurs in the MSM frequently. Examples such as the actual trends on most extreme events being unremarkable, and the minimal scope of sea level rise (1 inch/decade) are rarely, if ever, communicated . Where do the journalists get their information? Listen to what John Kerry has to say. There is a concerted effort to misrepresent the science for political gain. By both sides. This only leads you to distrust what any actor has to say, particularly those with a political agenda.

    So what to do? Investigate it yourself. I have to various extents over 5 years and found little to be alarmed over, and as the advocates beat their drums all day long. , people simply tune them out.

    In the end, stating climate science projections cannot be trusted, both technically and politically, is an easily defendable position.

  112. Brandon Gates

    May 30, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Sheri: I’ll work on leaving homework and hints out of my communications with you in the future. I do recognize that you’re doing a lot of research on you own, I don’t mean to imply that you’re not doing any. The point was, and is, that when I start throwing out data and graphs that I’m beyond tired of contrarians and denialistst shucking it off as “unreliable”. To the extent that my prejudice has been unfairly applied to you I am sorry. As I mentioned before, it’s hard to know where lines are sometimes. I’ll trip on over to your blog later and have a look.

  113. Brandon Gates

    May 30, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Tom Scharf:

    I have a lot more faith in what has been actually measured, than what has been projected for the future, and what has been reconstructed through proxies. Unfortunately detailed climate observations are only available for a couple decades in many cases, and less in others. The Argo deep ocean monitoring is only about 10 years old, good measurements on aerosols is maybe 30 years old.

    I feel the same way on each issue. WRT Argo and aerosols, we can only use what we have. Noting the uncertainty in reconstructed estimates prior to good instrumentation is entirely proper. I’m not personally disposed to chuck those things out the window entirely — they represent the best that we think we know about what happened in the past and as always in the sciences, subject to correction and reanalysis.

    My trust of reconstructions is admittedly colored by my own detailed investigation of the Hockey Stick which I do not want to debate again here. Suffice it to say that if one is inclined to confirmation bias, then models and reconstructions are your play land. Can some scientists be unbiased? Of course, but Mann was a mess, and he hid it, and the IPCC headlined him. How does one separate the good from the bad? Peer review doesn’t do it.

    I’m a treemometer doubter myself. Hide the decline, as I understand it, seems a very unreasonable way to gloss over a reasonable but imporant shortcoming of using trees as temperature proxies, namely that human influence has stunted their growth for as yet unexplained reasons. AFAIK. Not saying they can’t be useful, but I trust a thermometer in a parking lot more than dendrochronolgy.

    The Mann incident, East Angliagate, etc., seriously damaged my trust in the entire community of climatologists for quite some time. I read as many emails as I had time, and much of it was seriously disturbing.

    As I kept at my research in other areas, and revisited those emails, I began to see them as a net positive to my sceptical approach and a necessary balance to my liberal political leanings to reduce my own biases.

    I looked back on my own experiences in college learning from scientists in other fields, working with and around researchers part time and later full time as I was studying, and remembered the respect I had for them and their approach to seeking knowledge. Peer review is “broken” in the sense that humans are human. I don’t mean to suggest that nothing can or should be done to improve it. I’d also be surprised if the climatology community in general hasn’t already tightened it up due to the extraordinary public and political scrutiny. All just guesses, but based on what I learned from my short time (5 years) actually working in a lab. Just one man’s opinion here.

    Even with confirmed observations, the blatant misrepresentation of data trends occurs in the MSM frequently. Examples such as the actual trends on most extreme events being unremarkable, and the minimal scope of sea level rise (1 inch/decade) are rarely, if ever, communicated . Where do the journalists get their information? Listen to what John Kerry has to say. There is a concerted effort to misrepresent the science for political gain. By both sides. This only leads you to distrust what any actor has to say, particularly those with a political agenda.

    I don’t know where journalists get their information in general. I read the names they quote in the individual articles. Most MSM journalists have zero science background, and make “stupid” errors all the time, in all fields. The media contains political biases, left and right, and as a whole is sensationalistic. Their job is to sell subscriptions and advertisement, and they do it by selling panic and fear.

    So what to do? Investigate it yourself. I have to various extents over 5 years and found little to be alarmed over, and as the advocates beat their drums all day long. , people simply tune them out.

    You will find that I’m alarmed about the alarm. It needs to stop. There are thousands of other good reasons to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. I have been saying this for years since global warming hit the scene, and it hasn’t stopped now that we call it climate change (which should be less alarming, and is actually more empirically correct), and I was saying it before it became a big issue. I was cautiously pro-nuclear power while I was in high school and college. That only strengthened over time.

    When James Hansen wrote his open letter with three of his colleagues recommending that the environmental left should knock off their blind opposition and begin to work toward finding safer and more cost effective ways to implement nuclear power I celebrated. As in literally jumped up from my computer and danced on my couch. I nearly wept. I had been waiting so long for someone as pragmatic and human-health minded from an environmental perspective to break from the liberal political orthodoxy and start making rational economic and just plain logical sense.

    Nuclear fission is already clearly safer than any current power generation technology, including all known “green” technologies in terms of estimated deaths per kWH. Those figures, if anywhere near accurate, include the estimated future deaths resulting from Chernobyl and Fukushima. Ramping down coal powered plants and replacing them with nuclear not only removes CO2, NOx and particulates from the atmosphere — the latter two being health and environment hazards in non-warming, very present ways in their own right — is a several orders of magnitude safety improvement for each plant replaced.

    In the end, stating climate science projections cannot be trusted, both technically and politically, is an easily defendable position.

    I understand your position and agree that distrust is highly defensible. My own position is that distrust is too strong a word to use. I base my opinions on research I’ve read before climatology became as polarized as it is today. I have read up on the first princples of the physics that provide the foundation for the field, from generic, non-climate specific texts, research papers, secondary literature, what have you.

    I’ve researched the earliest history of radiative heat transfer and spectral absortivity/emissivity studies in lab settings and in atmospheric conditions going back to the early 19th century. To the extent that my opinions and beliefs are all but permanently fixed on the science, it’s on those basic first principles of physics.

    Where I am willing to give way to new evidence or argument contrary to my current position is on the modern science. And I do change. It’s complex. I “flip flop” sometimes when new information comes in that challenges the concensus view, or I read a particularly compelling critique from a contrarian (or sometimes denialist) source. That kind of dissonance is good for me, keeps me on my toes, centered and mindful that blind belief and partisan herd-following is against every principle of rational and objective inquiry that I personally value.

    There’s a strong case for being highly sceptical of the current science due to the politics and big-money power struggle going on in the present theatre. Scepticism is more than just saying “no” however. Based on what I’ve read of you, you’re not that kind of sceptic.

    I dislike labels, but they’re sometimes useful. I’d call you a contrarian sceptical critical thinker, and I do not use any of those words pejoratively. You appear to be a rational seeker of truth who is rightfully concerned about present politics, and rightfully not panicky about uncertain future dangers decades hence.

    I belive you and I both seek truth and understanding, with concerns firmly rooted in the present, and rigtfully focused first on our own self-interest. I respect you for that even though we differ in our concensus vs. contrarian stances. I wish there were more like us.

    Again with the TL;DR. I’m leaving it.

    Best regards.

  114. Brandon Gates

    May 30, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    PS: looks like I made a hash of the bold tags above.

  115. I’ve researched the earliest history of radiative heat transfer and spectral absortivity/emissivity studies in lab settings and in atmospheric conditions going back to the early 19th century. To the extent that my opinions and beliefs are all but permanently fixed on the science, it’s on those basic first principles of physics.

    Well, here’s the problem. You don’t know when those things apply unless you know the system under consideration. If you stick part of a spoon in a pot of very cold water the other end of the spoon will become colder. However, if you stick your feet in a tub of cold water the temperature of you head will not change. Why? Because they are different systems.

    For the same reason, some of “those basic first principles of physics” may not apply to the atmosphere for the similar reasons.

    Previously, you claimed (I’d quote it but it’s lost in the sea of words above) that the models showed changing CO2 level changes temperature. The models DO NOT show this. They only show that this would be true given the assumption that CO2 interactions within the atmosphere are the same as those within a closed system (like in a stoppered bottle). Again, examining only one aspect could be (and often is) gross simplification.

  116. Brandon Gates

    May 31, 2014 at 1:40 am

    For the same reason, some of “those basic first principles of physics” may not apply to the atmosphere for the similar reasons.

    And the first published papers on CO2 in the atmosphere were noted as interesting but of any little predictive value because very little of that system was known about at the time.

    Previously, you claimed (I’d quote it but it’s lost in the sea of words above) that the models showed changing CO2 level changes temperature. The models DO NOT show this.

    I don’t feel like looking for it either; at this time of night it would be harder than finding the missing heat.

    What I would normally say is that observation has demonstrated this relationship. Which is an oversimplification, but at least it removes the perennial ambiguity of which models. Citing Briggs, all statistical analyses are based on models. Further, most observational data since the dawn of instrumentation is reconstructed, all done by models.

    They only show that this would be true given the assumption that CO2 interactions within the atmosphere are the same as those within a closed system (like in a stoppered bottle).

    The Earth only allows radiative heat transfers in and out of the system. How is that not closed?

    Again, examining only one aspect could be (and often is) gross simplification.

    Which is why climatologists are looking at much more than just CO2.

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