Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Two months of Klimazwiebel - the cultural sciences make the difference

We are now soon in the third months of KLIMAZWIEBEL, and I found the discussions on this blog enlightening, helpful and often even pleasant. In general an adequate level of politeness and respect prevailed. We had brave and open presentations of concepts, of views and observations. That was good. But we also had what Werner Krauss has called "Stalinists", most of the time anonymous "Stalinists".

Before KLIMAZWIEBEL I knew alarmists within the ranks of climate scientists, their motives and logics, their entrenchments and loyalities, their inability to accept the simple fact that science is a social process and that our thinking is culturally conditioned.

I had at several occasions (e.g., "Global Warming - Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability" International seminar meeting at The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden, September 11-12th 2006; "Kyoto - Klimaprognosen - Aussagekraft der Modelle und Handlungsstrategien", Friedrich Naumann Stiftung, Gummersbach, Germany, 18-20.2.2005) the opportunity to also meet and listen to sceptics, real hard sceptics, and to learn about their motives and logics, their entrenchments, their inability to accept the simple fact that science is a social process and that our thinking is culturally conditioned. Usually they are not well versed in the field of climate science, but physicists, chemists, engineers or geologists, who simply believe they would know it better than those in the field. Myanna Lahsen studied three prominent ones (Lahsen, M., 2008: Experience of modernity in the greenhouse: A cultural analysis of a physicist "trio" supporting backlash against global warming. Global Env. Change 18: 204-219) – I know, the skeptics of this blog will not accept her analysis, because – see above.

Earlier in this process I compared the two extremists as in principle similar; as two groups who need each other, who live from the existence of the other group. For such statements I was criticized because there would be  many people among "the sceptics" who would just  left out, who have not received appropriate answers to their legitimate questions and discussion of their views. Sceptics, who want to be taken seriously and be part of the debate. This critique was adequate. I had overseen that many are not satisfied with the depths of the discussions, with the answers and even the questions. That is one reason why we set KLIMAZWIEBEL up.

I also understand that sometimes some anger has to be vented, but I do not understand those who join our discussion without saying their names, and just making harsh claims of definite knowledge. Opinions are fine, and phrasing one's views as opinion is fine as well – but to be carried away by the arrogance of claiming to know the fundamentals and thus the specifics is simply poor and disappointing.

The worst of all errors among such difficult participants (of both types) on this blog is the failure to understand the cultural dynamics in the present discussion. A special at KLIMAZWIEBEL is that we do not only have physicists but social and cultural scientists participating in the discussions. This puts us in a unique position. This access to knowledge about the cultural dimension may help us to overcome to stupid claims making, which we have seen all too much so far.

And, damn it, give your names, when making strong statements. When you have an opinion, then you should have also a name.


Anonymous said...

Great blog.

If more climate scientists did what you did and where open and honest there would be far more trust.

Blogs like realclimate, which is essentially a mouthpiece for the climategate crew, don't help.

There are often reasons for being anonymous. People who work in government or are likely to apply for jobs where their political views are subject to investigation may want to be anonymous.

Unfortunately, climate science has become very political as you realise.

Mike said...

Here's my name - Mike Hulme. Thanks Hans for creating this space for reflection and exchange. It is most welcome, indeed most necessary. One thing I hope this blog and others may promote is the eradication of simple pejorative 'labels' to denote people's views. The label sceptic is so imprecise and so pejorative that it is obscuring the constructive exchange of ideas. I'm interested in the ideas people have - and why they have them and whether they are out merely to preach or instead to listen - rather than what label they wear.

Jean-François de Ribeaucourt de Bergonceau said...

What's wrong with anonymous comments? In science, what counts is what is being said, not who says it. Dictatorial regimes are obsessed with anonymity. Not free societies. And for your information, the debate is no longer about facts. It is about trust.

Tobias W said...

Mr. von Storch:

Why the interest in my name or others? If you wish to know why this particular reader doesn't digress his name, it is because of the fact that "anonymous" above touched on. I am a teacher (not of natural science, mind you) and in my country (Sweden) Foucault himself wasn't allowed to put his doctorate up for dissertation. What I mean with that is that my country is extremely "consensus-driven" and as basicly every school in Sweden has a "green-profile" this absolutely means that if my skeptic views were out in the open I would find trouble getting a job (and there have been such cases, so it isn't complete paranoia).

From this I conclude that the Stalinists is firmly on your side mr von Storch, as I am the one who has to keep my views hidden. And i suggest that you contemplate this asserion when you make claims about the "culture" of climate science and public perceptions.

And furthermore to actually call someone by the pejorative "Stalinist", is actually even worse than "deniers". And since by your own admission this blogg was started to get some sort of "cultural-exchange" between skeptics and climate scientists, you have now completely missed your target. Not even the Real Climate crew has gone to such length...

Manneke Pis said...

I always use my real name. But I never make strong statements except in my own speciality.

P Gosselin said...

Unfortunately in today's "free society" there are risks in revealing your name in blogs. Your employment may be jeopardised if you do not sing the right tunes. The progressives who tell us to be open and tolerant are themselves the oppressors, especially when when it comes to climate religion.
I myself am not a sceptic. I'm not a sceptic of climate change. I'm not a sceptic of global warming, I'm not a sceptic global cooling and I'm not a sceptic of rising sea levels. I simply scoff at the hypothesis that human carbon emissions are causing discernable climate change. This hypothesis is not supported by any body of data. This has been admitted on both sides. And unless someone can produce data to show otherwise, without making it up, then I will not change my belief. If that makes me a denier or Stalinist, then so be it. And I certainly will not sit on the fence to appease either side.

Falk Schützenmeister said...

I observe a very strange asymmetry in this discussion. And this asymmetry is typical for many critics of climate science.

One of the main topics of the commentators is dubious sources of IPCC statements. The same people neither reveal their identity nor their sources (or they cite websites that cite websites that cite websites).

Critical questioning of climate research might be very useful and they might be heard if the critics would follow the standards they demand from the IPCC. But who knows the IPCC procedures which provide chances for participation? (I do not say that they are good enough already to outrule biases!)

Coming from a former Communist country I somewhat agree with the Stalinist label since the party leaders always criticized the West when it violated its own standards of freedom (which people in the East could only dream of).

However, I think the least what the critics of the IPCC want is an IPCC that would convince everyone and would provide knowledge which would be not questionable. (Well the communist leaders also did not want a better form of capitalism.)

By the way it is not correct, that names do not play a role in science. The opposite is true. As long as knowledge does not become widely accepted facts in text books (like F=ma) all papers are signed by authors. There are almost no anonymous publications in science.

The institutional background, the citation of sources, etc. are quite important criteria. And most arguments about the flaws of the IPCC use such arguments.

I believe the danger of loosing a job because of participating in this discussion is overrated, unless you want to work for the IPCC (which is not a job position by the way) or for Greenpeace. But why would you?

However, there should be something like a culture of discussion that follows certain norms of decency, argument, and common sense (those might interest an employer). It is easier to ignore them anonymously.

I think careful thinking could even sharpen your often useful arguments. But it is only the argument it is context and reputation too.

Falk Schützenmeister

Falk Schützenmeister said...

I forgot some words in my last sentence: But it is NOT only the argument it is its context and the reputation of the presenter too.

Unknown said...

what I learned in this blog: climate scientist criticizes themselves and each others much more and more constructive as so called "skeptics" ever could. That shows: science is alive.

okay, some remarks:

* more analysis less repeating of newspaper reports in the opening posts. They might result in good discussions but I do think not all were credible sources. (Smoking Gun from Watts, Bishop Hill, David Rose, etc ) This my main critic.

* keep the open discussions.

* more analysis of the so-called "skeptics" and their "works". You never did that. I'd like to see what do you think about their claims, tactics, or scientific significance. I mean, the IPCC report (WG II report to be exact) got a lot of beating. What about the so-called NIPCC report (what a creative name)? Have anyone of you read the "skeptic" science position? I mean, we know the "mainstream" and its real and imaginary flaws. What about the "skeptics"?

Ingolf. (must be enough as realname)

Tobias W said...

#7: so let me see if I follow you correctly. When I say that I am actually afraid of not getting a teaching job as I do not believe in the employers "green-profile", you say that I am wrong and that the risk of this happening is overrated. Well that's your perogative I suppose but I actually believe that it affects my job application, as I know that most employers do Google-checks before hiring.

I'm trying to follow your logic here but really; how on earth could it be correct to "label" someone a "Stalinist" for criticising authority? I'm sorry but that really doesn't make any sense. Stalinism was about creating a climate of fear, so that no one dared oppose the authoritys views - ring a bell? Those opposing the IPCCs conclusions have been called "flat-earthers" and "deniers" by warmists. This is the rhetoric of true Stalinists and it's intent is to subdue opposing views and to push those people that are not conforming to the fringes of what is considered "normal". Labelling the critics of authority as "Stalinists" is newspeak if I ever saw it.

And how on earth could I and others not give sources that refers to sources, am I suppose to look everyone up in the original when they are actually there in black and white on the source given? And anyhow this is what the IPCC does, and when they do it it is a "mistake" even when they know it to be incorrect.

By the way what is your actual name? Is it "Falk Schützenmeister", or is it "Falk & Cynthia"? I just don't know...

Falk Schützenmeister said...

I actually spent some time browsing through the so-called NIPCC report. If this is the skeptical standard, the IPCC does not need to be worried. The so called Non-governmental Panel of Climate Change consists of two authors (compared to about 800 in the IPCC AR5) and if you look through the rather short reference lists in the chapters (compared to the IPCC) it shows first of all one thing: It clearly represents a scientific minority position. Most of the introductory text is IPCC bashing.
But you are right scientists should take on challenges of the critics and not block them institutionally before even considering. But again why are neither of the authors among the IPCC reviewers. Wouldn't it make their argument even stronger if their ideas would have been rejected by the IPCC review editors?

Falk Schützenmeister said...

Well, my name is Falk Schützenmeister and "Falk and Cynthia" is our blogspot identity (where you can easily find my identity - maybe way too much about me and my wife). I wonder how many of the discussants actually lived in a Stalinist country. But it does not matter because many do not understand the principles of a free society either which is based on the difference between public and private. While privacy is protected, the participation in the public discourse depends on openness: Who is actually speaking? In a town hall you cannot hide behind the curtain and make your statement. Of course the Internet changed this game. However, you just want to know whether a prognosis about Climate Change comes from Greenpeace or Shell. As long as this is the case both positions are fine. Well, a teaching position is a public position. They should not make job decisions on the basis what you think in private. However, they have the right to make them on the basis of your appearance in public (I am sure you would act like this if you would hire). I do not post anonymously only because Fox-News would never hire me.

Jean-François de Ribeaucourt de Bergonceau said...

@Falk & Cynthia

'Well, a teaching position is a public position. They should not make job decisions on the basis what you think in private. However, they have the right to make them on the basis of your appearance in public'

As Climate Skepticism is a crime against humanity, expressing a sceptic view in public makes it a criminal appearance and criminal appearances are evidently incompatible with a teaching position. These criminals with a teaching position are thus well advised to hide their identity.

Tobias W said...

Falk: And the frenchman with the outrageously wonderful name just made my point, thank you.

And what an incredible circular logic you apply:
'Well, a teaching position is a public position. They should not make job decisions on the basis what you think in private. However, they have the right to make them on the basis of your appearance in public'
So you do actually agree with me that it might be detrimental to my career to state my name in public forums such as this?

And what of the denominating skeptics with the "Stalinist" label. Do you still abide by your logic?

Anonymous said...

I think in "I had overseen that many are not satisfied..." you meant "I had overlooked that...", or perhaps "I had noticed that...". To "oversee" means that one manages and controls something.

And I'll stay anonymous because I've already been punished for challenging Global Warming, much to the detriment of at least one major work.

Don Shor said...

"Climate Skepticism is a crime against humanity" -- many things got scrambled in the translation of that article. I think the headline is perhaps metaphorical. But I can appreciate the desire to remain anonymous, given the aggressive, hostile responses of some of the "true believers" on both sides. If you feel safer not revealing your name, I suggest using a consistent pseudonym, rather than posting completely anonymously.

I very much appreciate this blog. The more climate scientists can connect with the interested public, the better.

Werner Krauss said...

Two clarifications:

#1 I called nobody a Stalinist. Instead, I characterized certain political strategies as Stalinist. I didn't mean by this that every alarmist or skeptic wears a mustache.

#2 I only asked people to reveal their real names in cases of severe character assassination; you should also have the courage to sign with your name when you want to ruin someone's scientific reputation and career. That's not too much to ask, I guess.

Nicolas Nierenberg said...

Lahsen's paper is ok, but my view is that it is largely an opinion piece. It certainly is a one dimensional view of my father, who was not by any means anti-environment.

And I absolutely agree with you that people who post strong opinions on these types of serious topics should use their real names.

Mathis Hampel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathis Hampel said...

once again, reformulated:

Climate change reminds me of Rene Magrittes "This is not a pipe". There are ideas and ideologies in a discoursive space sailing close to the wind of physical reality of climate change. The crux of matter -in my eyes- is that there is of course a pipe, that is, the results of modern man's exploitative expansion and shortsight, physical climate change being one of them. Yet what travels along the physical discourse flexes its muscles, for example, in form of re-emerging climate determinism and fear of "green imperialism". Unfortunately this already causes a few of us to hide their names. Therefore -as Mike Hulme above mindfully points out- we must be careful with our labels. The we can speak under our own names again!

richardtol said...

I have no problem with anonymous posts, although I would prefer nicknames as that eases the discussion.

I do have a problem with unreasoned comments (too use the French distinction between unreasonable and not-based-on-reasoning) and name-calling.

Tobias W said...

mr. Krauss: Thank you for your clarification. But I must question whether any skeptic that has written here actually has a "political strategy". I personally write only for myself.

However I must agree with you that in principle one should sign ones own name when one is uttering strong opinions about others. I always do on all other issues, but not on this one for already stated reasons. But it is still the validity of the argument presented that is central, not my identity. I am not anyone that you know of anyway, I'm simply of no importance (not like Mike Hulme, for instance:-). I just like to debate with those on the opposite side, and in the mean time get the other side of the story. I don't see anything wrong with that, do you?

Leonard Weinstein said...

Professor Von Storch,
I am a semiretired Aerospace Engineer (with a ScD), and have followed both the technical literature and blogs on both sides for several years now. I think you have been exposed too much to one side of the issue to be balanced in your opinion. Both sides have outliers that are improper in their positions and behavior, and both have many less technically capable individuals to properly evaluate the data that make comments anyway. However, it is clear to me that the pro AGW group have name called and acted very poorly all along, while the many scientists that have strong reservations on the extent or even the validity of AGW (NOT GW) have, for the most part been more reasonable and polite in their actions. The name calling, using terms like denier and worse is mostly one-sided and totally reprehensible. The reason some of the skeptics have come back so strong recently is due to the fact that their claims have been validated on such issues as FOI, limitations in peer reviewed publishing, etc., and since they were vilified for so long, are venting as a backlash. Even these backlash comments are more restrained on the whole than the negative comments made against them for so long. The issue of listing actual names on blogs is not a real issue, although I have listed mine.

You make a point of the technical ability of a specialist in Climatology as a requirement for valid critic of the work on AGW. This is strange, since almost all specialists DO NOT have degrees with that title. The field is so new that experts from other fields moved into it. There is no reason that people with backgrounds in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology, Meteorology, etc. cannot become sufficiently expert, just by reading sufficient literature to familiarize themselves well on the topic, to REVIEW and COMMENT on the literature, even if they did not do primary studies themselves. In addition, the summary write-ups of the IPCC do not accurately reflect the detailed internal content. It was badly politicized, as you well know. Most of the real scientists called skeptics only wanted verifiable truth, and truth seems to be different than the CAGW position.

Since you appear to basically support the CAGW, or at least a significant AGW position, I would like you to give just a couple of examples of supporting evidence. I mean ones that are falsifiable with present knowledge, not just model outputs for 100 years out. The reason I ask this is that there presently seems to be is NO evidence beyond the fact that CO2 has increased, and the temperature has modestly increased since the LIA. Stating that thousands of papers support AGW is wrong. They do support GW and its effects, but that is not AGW and especially not CAGW.

eduardo said...

@ all A technical issue
and some thoughts:

anonymous postings. There is a glitch with blogger software when posting comments under the option name/url - we havent been able to find a solution in spite of our impeccable degrees in mathematics social, sciences, climatology etc :-) The roundabout is to set up a google account (nicknames are possible) and post the comment using the option 'google account'

Thoughts: in the discussions it is more practical to be able to use a (nick)name.
Please, do not overlook that we are all persons with a face and not laptop screens

plazaeme said...

Test, under name/url.

Jean-François de Ribeaucourt de Bergonceau said...

@Don Shor

This is the kind of metaphor that gets you in prison if you use it in other contexts. I guess I can call the author of that article metaphorically an eco-nazi? Let us use more metaphors too cool off this heated debate.

Unknown said...

>> Leonard Weinstein said: Most of the real scientists called skeptics only wanted verifiable truth, and truth seems to be different than the CAGW position.<<

Richard Feynman in his famous commencement speech in 1974 referred to “Cargo Cult Science” and had this advice for students (and colleagues as well): "Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they’re missing. ... It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty – a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked – to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can – if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong – to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another."

It seems to me - and obviously to a number of 'sceptics' - that a certain fraction of climatologists do not adhere to these scientific standards.

Unknown said...

>> Leonard Weinstein said: and truth seems to be different than the CAGW position.<<

really? show me the publications, observations, models, theories etc which prove this. I want to see the details, what are your arguments and facts?

PS: I assume the strange acronym is something like carbon-blah anthropogenic global warming, isn't it?

Unknown said...

"It seems to me - and obviously to a number of 'sceptics' - that a certain fraction of climatologists do not adhere to these scientific standards."

hm, yapp to show everything is the best, what about "skeptic" works, peer reviewed or in blogs... did you find there all the data, always all the source code, all problems, descriptions of doubts on the own results? Do they comply with this standards? For example, have you asked yourself how did Friis-Christensen and Lassen 1991 or Svensmark 1998 come to their results? Did anybody of the "skeptics" ask how such errors could occur? I never found FOIs for it... and these studies are (were) very import for one of the central "skeptic" theories. If you did not, you are a hypocrite, aren't you?

I can give a positive example: the GISS. There you can find "everything". Still: a disgusting anti-science, "skeptic" think tank tries to sue Gavin Schmidt and the GISS. There are still claims of fraud. Jim Hansen needs a police escort in Dallas. Can you explain this behavior of so-called "skeptics"? How is it possible that people write murder threats to climate scientists? That is an important point, if you compare a "skeptic" side and the science. Therefore, for me, the "skeptic" side is just dirt.

BTW: "skeptical" does not mean skeptical. There is a difference in my vocabulary that is quite important.

Gunnar Strandell said...

I like your approach and here is my contribution.

There are three types of conflicts, and they differ in characteristics and communication.

1. Conflict of values.
Cannot be solved.
But life can go on if you accept the conflict and your opponents rights to their values.
Communication is debate.

2. Conflict of targets.
Can be solved if the targets is discussed and hidden agendas is revealed.
Communication is discussion.

3. Conflicts of interest.
Can always be solved, often with a compromise.
Communication is dialogue.

I dont think that weather or climate must give rise to conflicts of value, but I do think that they have an impact on sunseekers and farmers targets.

My hope is that your blog continue to feed me with discussion of scientific and social views on climate and human interaction.

richardtol said...

In fairness, both sides are at it. The extreme wing of the environmental movement aren't particularly nice either.

itisi69 said...

"Can you explain this behavior of so-called "skeptics"? How is it possible that people write murder threats to climate scientists? That is an important point, if you compare a "skeptic" side and the science. Therefore, for me, the "skeptic" side is just dirt."
Ah.. the old guilt by association fallacy. Do you imply that sceptics are sending death threats?

"I never found FOIs for it"
Because the data is available.

"skeptical" does not mean skeptical. There is a difference in my vocabulary that is quite important.
Like you have Mann/Jones and Von Storch, right?

Can we now move on (as they use to say on Real Climate)?

itisi69 said...

PS: meant to say Von Storch at the opposite.

Leonard Weinstein said...

#28 (Ghost)
There is a required process by scientists, needed to support any hypothesis. You clearly are not a scientist as you clearly do not understand the process. The skeptics do not have to prove anything positive. The hypothesis is given by the supporters of AGW that human production of CO2 and methane are the main cause of global warming. The skeptics say: support this hypothesis with falsifiable facts or retract the statement. The requirement for "proof" (and you never prove, only support or falsify) is totally on the proponents of the hypothesis, and all skeptics are required to do to be validated is falsify or show even one critical claim is not supportable. They do not even have to falsify all of the claims, only one. The hypothesis can then be modified so that the falsified claim is no longer required for the hypothesis to be considered, but this is then a different hypothesis. This may then be either supported or have another claim falsified. Only when all claims are supported, and no claim can be falsified, and in addition the claims reasonably support the need for the hypothesis, can the hypothesis be supported. If the claims are strong enough, the hypothesis may even then be elevated to a status of theory, but not before. AGW does not have any supportable claims unique to AGW, so is not even close to a hypothesis. It presently is an unsupportable guess.

Leonard Weinstein said...

CAGW is widely used. You clearly do not read the literature. It means Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, i.e., that the man-made warming is occurring, and that in a relatively short time (typically stated as less than 100 years) will result in a catastrophic amount of damage (flooding, drought, severe heat, destruction of plants and animals, etc.). Just AGW may indicate some effect due to man, but not necessarily of any significance. Many skeptics even believe in some small to moderate amount of AGW, just not CAGW.

Marco said...

@Leonard Weinstein:
Where exactly do you want to see the "falsifiability"?
1. The greenhouse effect? If you accept the greenhouse effect, you already accept the warming effect of CO2. The greenhouse effect can, of course, be falsified (but not by Gerlich&Tscheuschner)

2. The increase in CO2 due to fossil fuel burning? There's both a measurable decrease in atmospheric O2, as well as an isotope change consistent with fossil fuel burning. Hence, also this can be falsified (just prove the measurements wrong).

3. The positive feedbacks? This is a bit more tricky, because the measuring systems are not optimal. But several studies have shown the increase of water vapor over the recent warming period. Also here the predictions can be falsified.

4. The possible effects of further warming? This is where it gets difficult. We can only look at the past for clues. To neglect those clues in the past and then assume we can't know what happens in the future is living on dangerous grounds. We can predict, based on events in the past, that California will be subjected to a really major earthquake. We don't know when, or even if that really will happen. But would you then build houses that are not earthquake-proof?

Finally, there is an analogy to evolution: the theory of evolution isn't all that easy to falsify. Sub-elements are, however. And even falsification of some of those sub-elements do not necessarily render the theory of evolution wrong. The same goes for AGW.

eduardo said...



I would not agree with your comment. My view is that science is not a slave of political processes, or at least it should not be. We have the observation that the temperature of the Earth has risen in the last , say, 200 hundred years. The proponents of anthropogenic climate change assert that this has been caused in part by anthropogenic emissions. I agree this has to be proven. Skeptics claim sometimes (and correct me if I am wrong here) that this is a 'natural process, a return to normal conditions after the Little Ice Age cooling'. This might be true but it is not an explanation, at least not a scientific one. Such an explanation should be able to distinguish which factors are responsible for the change in temperature and by how much. It is the same burden placed upon proponents of AGW.

Summary: for a politically motivated person, it is the other side that has to prove its case. For a curiosity-driven (say neutral, maybe) scientist, the burden is the same, just to explain the observations as fully as possible.

Now, you would argue that the scientific funding has been mostly devoted to one of side. This might be true, but it is again a political statement. From the scientific point of view, it seems to me that, although the AGW theory is not complete and some aspects remain obscure, an alternative comprehensive theory does not exist. It may arise, but so far it is not here.

Peter Heller said...

Dear Mr. von Storch,

I would like to take back the discussion to the article itself. In my opinion you have to rethink your definition of a "sceptic".

In reality, most sceptics are not concerned by science, but by the way, science is used to supoort a political agenda. I have met many sceptics during the last years of the debate and most of them do not only have a scientific or technical education, they really are science-enthusiasts.

In my opinion a sceptic is simply someone fighting against a strict mitigation policy. Because all of us sceptics do have the opinion, that mitigation is more risky for human civilization as well as for nature, than the climate change projected by the IPCC.

A sceptic cannot be characterized as somebody not wanting to learn. A sceptic ist somebody saying: Maybe there will be global warming, maybe not - the best way to be prepared for the future is to innovate and to adapt.

I have tried to give a longer description in my own blog (in german):


Maybe it's useful for you in coming discussions, maybe not. But it may also be, that you will find out: After all I am a sceptic by myself, what a surprise.

I, for example, am a well-trained astronomer and physicist (due to my teachers, not to myself, a lack of talent took me into my new profession as a consultant). And I am convinced, that the greenhouse-effect is real, for example. And I also support everybody, who demands a lack of funding for climate science. I am always supporting claims like "we need to know more, we need to perform more and better research".

But I am strongly opposing the believe, that one can look into the future in calculating models. To be prepared for the future, for any possible future, is the question to be solved. And mitigation ist the wrong answer. That is, why I am a sceptic.

Anna said...

Please people, let's not turn this blog into just another battlefield!

That isn't what we need, and the endless comments where somebody is trying to characterize the people on "the other side" of the argument will never convince anybody of changing their mind on anything, or of learning anything!

Insulting people might feel good at the time, but it is very counter productive (and rather boring, in my opinion).

Marco said...

@Peter Heller:
And what will drive the innovation and adaptation?
Why would we innovate if we think there is nothing going on? What are we to adapt to if we think there is little change?

There have been plenty of examples in human history where we humans just let things happen, and acted well after it was too late, at significant human suffering. The adaptation was often war, as e.g. argued here:

Falk Schützenmeister said...

==> Peter Heller
What are exactly the risks of mitigation? The economic arguments are not proven but the might be understandable. But I am more puzzled about the risk for nature. Are you saying nature might be at danger if we stop to pollute?

eduardo said...

@ 40

I do not know whether there is indeed a connection between climate and war, but please read that paper a bit more critically.
The parts of the paper related my areas of expertise are concern (statistics and climate of the past millennium) are contrary to the existing literature. Take this paragraph from the SI, for instance:

The Little Ice Age. The LIA was a very important climatic event during recent human history that has been well recorded by both documentary and paleo-climate reconstructions. Research in the past 30 years has led to publication of a number of paleo-climatic time series that were reconstructed from multiproxy data. These reconstructions have shown that a warm period (Medieval Warm Period, MWP), the warmest century (20th), and a cold period (the LIA) existed globally during the last millennium (10, 13). The LIA has been dated as the period A.D.1400-1900, but A.D. 1550-1990 encompasses most published dates (12, 14). All of the studies have identified a mild period in the 18th century. Generally the LIA consists of two cold phases (16th and 17th centuries, and the 19th century), separated by a milder 18th century (13). Research in the last 10 years, in particular, has led to a significant breakthrough in high-resolution paleo-climatic reconstructions, using multiproxy data networks to reconstruct past climate variations, with a focus on the climate changes of the last millennium. These high-resolution records closely match each other in terms of terms of timing and amplitude of temperature change. Therefore, in the last few years there has been no argument about the starting and ending years of the LIA and MWP in the paleo-temperature research literature.'

Ref 10 is Mann and Jones (2003), who have opposed the very existence of the MWP and the LIA.

How can one write that 'in the last years there has been no argument between the starting and ending years of the MWP and the LIA.' ?

'these records closely match each other in terms of amplitude and timing'???????????


Sorry, the whole paper is full of mistakes.

Marco said...

Reference 10 is Esper et al (2002). And I think that especially the newer reconstructions all give a reasonably similar time period for the LIA, as far as the various curves can be distinguished in the spaghetti graph. That the PNAS paper puts it more absolute than the paleoclimatologists is not uncommon in scientific papers. I'm sure people will find similar statements in your papers.

I don't agree with the apparent(!) conclusion in the paper that wars were solely caused by climate change. But let us not underestimate the pressures on especially older societies of climate change. They will have been different then than they would be now/the future, but with a similar danger.

Peter Heller said...

@Marco, @Falk:

As short as possible: Free markets will drive innovation and adaptation. They have done it in the past very succesful, and they will do it in the future. We in the industrialized world have become very wealthy because of that and do have no need to fear bad weather any more.

We need fair and open gateways to free markets für all people in the world, especially for the poor. Therefore the Doha-process (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doha_Development_Round) is one of the most important tasks for mankind. Much more important than any discussion about climate change, which is mainly a discussion about bad weather.

"Adaptation and innovation" is a strategy based on more freedom, more opportunities and more fairness.

"Mitigation" is a strategy based on regulation, on less freedom and on reduced opportunities. Mitigation is risky, very risky, because it is based on strictly controlled markets. This strategy has never worked in the past. Why should it work in the future?

"Mitigation" is based on reducing CO2-emissions, whatever it will cost. CO2 ist not a pollutant for nature. Mitigation is not a policy reducing pollution.

Falk Schützenmeister said...

The state and the military were important drivers for innovation for a long time (maybe the dominant one between 1950-1980). Examples are atomic energy, computers, aviation, military medicine, etc. Silicon Valley exist because at this very spot the state supported powerful defense contractors, one of the first NACA/NASA centers etc.

eduardo said...

@ 43

Marco wrote
And I think that especially the newer reconstructions all give a reasonably similar time period for the LIA, as far as the various curves can be distinguished in the spaghetti graph.'

Sure, as the PNAS paper states :

The LIA has been dated as the period A.D.1400-1900, but A.D. 1550-1990 encompasses most published dates (12, 14). '

So the Little Ice Age lasted until A.D 1990. This is certainly a most accurate paper.

Leonard Weinstein said...

#36, Marco,
You have read into my statements things I did not say.

1) I do agree there is a "so called" greenhouse gas effect from water vapor, CO2, CH4 and some other gases (it has nothing to do with how greenhouses work, but is a back radiation warming from absorption and re-radiation).
2) I do think man's burning of fossil fuels and deforestation probably are the main cause of the CO2 increase from 1958 on. I am less sure of the accuracy of the effect pre 1958.

Note: 1 and 2 have nothing to do with proving AGW

3) That item is one of the major points of contention. I do not see any valid support for positive feedback. That does not prove it wrong, but the burden is on proving it valid.
4) That item is the other major point of contention. Nothing done in that direction is supportable. All of the models assume significant positive feedback!

Your last statement is just wrong. Evolution was an easy target to be able to falsified if it was wrong. No one was ever able to do so, and DNA measurements were able to show how it worked. It is a now accepted as a valid theory (however any theory is still subject to later falsification if one can do so, such as Einstein's corrections to Newton's theories).

Marco said...

@Eduardo: looks like a typo. Never had one in your papers?

@Leonard Weinstein:
Issues 1 and 2 ARE of importance to AGW, and falsifying either would falsify AGW. Which has also been attempted:
issue 1: Gerlich&Tscheuschner, two physicists failing to understand the radiative effects and abusing the 2nd law of thermodynamics)
issue 2: Ernst-Georg Beck, rehashing old arguments long debunked

Issue 3: You can start here for some observational evidence, as well as agreement between models and observations http://tamino.wordpress.com/2008/04/04/feedback/

Issue 4:
See point 3, plenty of positive feedbacks to be aware of. I personally don't want to put my money on possible negative feedbacks coming up in the future, miraculously stopping AGW.

And please do show the falsifiability of the theory of evolution: like AGW it actually depends on a body of evidence that fits together.

eduardo said...

@ 48

Marco, I am not sure that that is a typo, as the paper contains many more significant errors. The correlations seem to have been calculated after a very heavy smoothing, and this has not been taking into account when estimating the significance. This is not only wrong, this is wrong at a very basic level.

This is the caption of table 3 in the SI

In accordance with the temperature anomaly data (4), all war data were smoothed by 40-year Butterworth low pass filter before statistical analysis. *, P < 0.05; ***, P < 0.001; #, n = 419 (i.e., A. D. 1482-1900).

One of the reported 'significant' correlations is that between wars in China of NH temperature (r=-0.264) . With roughly 6 or so degrees of freedom after smoothing this correlation is not significant at the 0.001 level (.999%) as the authors report, but only at the 0.2 level (80%). The levels of statistical significance would be the following: P=0.05 r=0.42; P=0.001 r=0.7. None of them are significant at the reported level.

Leonard Weinstein said...

Please stop repeating yourself. I agree that 1 and 2 are likely valid, but they are necessary but NOT sufficient for proving AGW. The issue of other effects, and feedback also have to be considered, and so far have not. However, I do believe that a small amount of AGW is probable, but not CAGW (I am a skeptic of degree of effect not absolute rejection of the whole concept). The issue is the size and significance. I see you quote Tamino for 3. Look around at the real world and explain why we have not had a 2 degree C rise since 1940, as the strong feedback requires. Tamino is sharp, but the answers he gives are not proof. The issue of feedback is still not resolved, and likely it is negative. Issue 4 is presently without any reasonable support. By the way, look at recent papers on black carbon (cause of glacier and polar melting), and DECREASE in stratosphere water vapor causing recent years of temperature drop (negative feedback).

I do not know where you are going with the evolution question. I am satisfied that it is a basically valid theory. You seem to think I disagree with it, but I don't. It had many claims and all have been supported (transmission of features, modification of features to optimize local conditions, etc.). It made claims that required it to be the answer to certain observed events, and it has been supported in every case.

Marco said...

@Leonard Weinstein:
Sometimes repetition is required to get a point across that someone else is ignoring.
Unless you believe in the very high climate sensitivity, there is no reason to assume a 2 degree increase (Celsius, that is). Then there's the inertia in the system (like energy going into ice melt).

And then Leonard says "likely they are negative". Based on what? If it's net negative, can you explain the enormous temperature increases during interglacials? The PETM? They *should not be possible* if there is a net negative feedback!

Finally, there is no *decrease* in recent temperature, unless you are one of those wishing to look at 4-5 year trends to make a point. And all that with one of the lowest solar maxima in many decades.

Regarding the theory of evolution: I actually referred to it because I know it is one of the most supported theories by scientists, yet one of the most difficult to really falsify. You can falsify smaller aspects, but in essence only finding complex animals in strata that should only contain very basic animals.

Henk Hak said...

Drs von Storch and Zorita,
Your emphasis in this blog on the social context of the climate science debate is appreciated.
A point of interest: it would appear that it is much easier to believe that AGW is real, or even believe in CAWG (catastrophic anthropogenic climate change) if one lives in a metropolitan area versus a rural area. Living in Holland with 16+ million people on about 36000 square km there is hardly any land not modified by human influence. Here in rural Alberta Canada you can be stuck on some dirt road for days before anyone finds you ( thank Gd for cellphones). I believe a Dutchman or Londoner is much more likely to accept AGW than someone from the prairies, or other more remote or rural area.
In the same vein: I posted this on CA
H Hak
Posted Feb 6, 2010 at 2:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

Steve, just a thought re the UHI effect. Prof Phil Jones does believe ( and tried to prove) that the UHI effect is no big deal. He lives in a country with
1.a moderate sea-climate
2.lots of overcast skies
3.lots of wind.
All of this will have a smoothing effect on the day/day and day/night temperature variation but also on any UHI effect.
To many of us living in a different type of climate the notion that the UHI effect does not exist is laughable as we observe it every day. Here in Alberta the coldest recorded temperature since the early seventies was at the Edmonton International Airport on Dec 13 2009 at -46.1 degrees centigrade (the Edmonton Journal).The lowest temperature in the city was -36.5 that night (the WeatherNetwork). I’m sure Anthony would add: and the real coldest temperature would have been what? considering that the International Airport could still have been warmer than a properly placed rural temp station in the prairie.
These extreme differences would not have existed if there had been a strong wind, but most of the time when it gets that cold there is little or no wind

Prof. Jones would likely change his mind if he spent some time on the prairies.

eduardo said...



The statement that urban heating does not significantly affects temperature trends does not refer to individual stations. It refers to the large-scale, perhaps global, temperature averages. Other researchers than Jones have also reached the same conclusions. For instance, in a more recent study by Parker in year 2006, some stations are shown to display a considerable urban heat effect. Fairbanks urban-heat effect is shown to be as large as 0.35 degrees per decade of additional warming. However, on a global scale this affect, according to this study is very small.

Regardless of whether this analysis is correct or not, what I wanted to point out is that this is not simply 'an opinion'. It is a published study that anyone can contest.

Marco said...

@eduardo and Henk Hak:
I think your short discussion actually shows one of the big problems with understanding global warming: trends versus absolute temperatures. There *is* a UHI effect on absolute temperature, and nobody denies this. The effect of the UHI on the *trend*, however, has been shown in many studies to be (on a global scale) negligible.

Hansen et al have even shown (for the US) that the UHI can in some cases (42% of rural stations) introduce a *cooling* bias(!). I think Henk Hak would change his mind if he did not put so much credibility in Anthony Watts, and like Phil Jones actually does a thorough data analysis.

Henk said...

Thanks Eduardo and Marco; Marco, I had to laugh, you're right WUWT has too much inuendo and sometimes goes overboard. I do believe that Phil Jones's handling of surface temp stations has been very thorough. His method of throwing out some stations where UHI has become problematic rather than trying to factor a correction seems to me to be the better one. A few points here:
1.Eduardo, I made the same mistake as a lot of bloggers have done and assumed that Phil Jones objection to a significant UHI effect on the overall reliability of the temp records means he doesn't believe there exists a significant UHI effect. I have read a bit since my above post ( should have done that before putting foot in mouth), and now realise that Phil is very aware of UHI. For example he acknowledged it in a 2007 paper in JGR with regards to records in China. And in his e-mails. The issue is as you and Marco are saying trends versus absolute temperatures.
An example would be: a lot of temp stations here are on airports and have been for a long time. Not an ideal location - undoubtedly some UHI effect - but the trend over time will not likely be affected very much. UHI bias at the start of the readings are likely about the same as at present reading.I may not always have read WUWT correctly with this in mind, but I have the impression that some people think - like I did - that any stations with UHI bias are suspect and cannot be used reliably and therefore the whole surface temperature record is suspect. Well, no.
That doesn't mean there isn't a problem with the records; stations have been moved, and there is a serious concern about the loss of remote stations from the Russian records since the Glasnost among other things.
2 Haven't seen Hansen's study but have a hard time understanding how small town rural stations can have a lower overall temp record than the stations situated in say open prairie. (Or is there a discussion as to what represents the best recording of surface temperature other than a CRN 1 station?). Does anyone have a reasonable explanation?
3 Eduardo, you are right, this is not a matter of opinion. But the way we make sense of our environment is partially based on our anecdotal experiences . And of course we can be very wrong about the overall picture. As is shown eg in the IPPC report on glaciers. And weather is not climate, but it is funny how from both sides present weather is often dragged into the equation.
4 Marco, must say I haven't read Anthony's Jan 31 post on UHI in detail yet. Doesn't appear to be just opinion.

Thanks guys for setting me straight

Henk Hak said...

Marco, regarding Phil Jones's data:
Roy Spencer did a quick check on this ( CRUTem3NH)in his latest post http://www.drroyspencer.com/ and came to an identical conclusion as Prof. Jones. Now let's see if WUWT will show a link!