Valley Forward Remarks

Below the fold are my remarks to the Valley Forward lunch today — I only had five minutes, so I was fairly limited.

It’s popular among those who want to cut off debate to call skeptic’s “deniers,” in large part because it evokes the term “holocaust denier” and therefore marginalizes criticism of catastrophic man-made global warming theory.

But I will accept the denier label, as long as we are clear what proposition it is I am denying.  I do not deny the world is warming.  The couple of hundred years ending around 1800 were among the coldest in the last 5000 years, so it is natural we should see a warming recovery since this period.  Glaciers are retreating and sea levels are rising in part because they have been doing so every since this little ice age, long before man put CO2 in the atmosphere in earnest.

Further, I don’t deny greenhouse gas theory, that man’s CO2 can cause some incremental warming.  The Greenhouse gas theory has to be real, or the world would be much colder right now.

No, what I deny is the catastrophe, that temperatures a hundred years hence will be five or ten degrees Celsius higher due to man’s co2

Interestingly, I think most everyone on the scientific end of the debate agrees that the direct warming from man’s Co2 acting alone will be relatively modest – on the order of a degree Celsius by the year 2100 according to the IPCC.  Yeah, I know this seems oddly low — you never hear of global warming numbers as low as 1 degree — but it is actually a second theory, independent of greenhouse gas theory, that drives most of the warming.  This second theory is that the climate is dominated by strong positive feedbacks that  multiply the warming from CO2 many fold, and increase a modest 1 degree C of warming from man’s CO2 to catastrophic levels of 5 or even 10 degrees.

The example I use is to think of climate as a car.  Co2 from man provides only a nudge to the car.  The catastrophe comes from a second theory that the car (representing the climate) is perched precariously on the top of a hill with its brakes off, and a nudge from CO2 will start it rolling downhill until it crashes at the bottom.

When people say the science is settled, they generally mean greenhouse gas theory.  But that means only the nudge is settled.  What is far from settled is the second theory of strong net positive feedback in the climate, ie the theory the climate is perched on top of a hill.  It is unusual for long-term stable but chaotic systems to be dominated by such strong positive feedbacks.  In fact, only the most severe contortions allow scientists to claim their high-sensitivity models of catastrophic warming are consistent with the relatively modest warming of the past century.

Historically, the effects of a degree or so of warming have been small and generally positive.  Times of warmth have been times of prosperity.  Unfortunately, we seem to be suffering under a massive case of observer bias in assessing any current effects of climate change.  Extreme events, which have always existed, are used by both sides of the debate as supposed proof of long term global trends.  But there is little useful we can learn about trends at the tails of the distribution, and it turns out that the means of key weather events in the US, from droughts to wet weather to tornadoes to hurricanes, show no meaningful trends.

Climate observation is hard enough without this confusion.  Imagine we wanted to look at customer visitation of the old Pink Pony Steakhouse in Scottsdale.  If we watched for only a few hours, we might miss the huge variability of the crowds from early morning through each mealtime rush.  Watch only for a day, and we might miss the seasonal variation, as snowbirds pack the restaurant in March.  Watch for just a year, and we might have missed the long, slow decline in visitation that eventually led to the restaurant closing.  In climate, we are trying to decide if there is a long term decline at the Pink Pony after watching for the equivalent of only a few hours.

My fear over the last several years is that the obsession with trace levels of CO2 has sucked the oxygen, so to speak, out of the rest of the environmental movement.  Things that used to matter – water quality, wilderness preservation, hygene and public health in poorer nations — seem to get short shrift.  In fact, in the name of CO2 reduction, we have subsidized, even mandated goals like corn ethanol that are destructive to the environment, and diverted money and attention from other causes.

Our obsessive focus on CO2 has real costs, and the current Administration’s position that CO2 abatement can be a net positive for the economy via green jobs creation is simply a fantasy.  It is Bastiat’s broken windows fallacy writ large, this contention that obsoleting our perfectly good energy infrastructure and replacing it with something more expensive will be cost-free.  I have to laugh every time I see the logic that Arizona wants to be a leader in solar manufacturing because, uh, we have a lot of sun.  This makes as much sense as saying radio manufacturers should all relocate to New York City because it has the most radio stations.  But the real problem is that every city and state in the country is chasing the same alternate energy manufacturers, competing with each other to subsidize this small industry the most.

My sense is that all of this public and private money chasing the same small industry, combined with an emerging reality that global warming forecasts are likely greatly exaggerated, may be leading us into yet another disastrous bubble.

  • Great read. Measured, succinct, easily understood essay. I can see Mr. Gore scratching his head in wonderment saying, “But it’s settled!”. I cannot wait for his bubble to burst. (And take Mann with him, please!)

  • Waldo

    *****”Measured, succinct, easily understood essay.”

    Yes, but this in and of itself means nothing. I could write a measured, succinct, easily understood essay on how CO2 is warming our planet into a irradiated wasteland – but does that mean that what I’ve written is correct?

    *****”I can see Mr. Gore scratching his head”

    Do you doubt AGW science? Or do you just dislike Al Gore?

    ****”I cannot wait for his bubble to burst.”

    Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But most of Mr. Meyer’s essay is mere conjecture.

  • harrywr2

    Very Good!!

  • Hartley

    An excellent essay, sir!

    Waldo, that is truly funny – you do realize that one of the major points of this essay is that the majority of “climate science” is just conjecture, based on a very limited amount of trustworthy information?

  • ADiff

    Actually very little of it’s conjecture.

    That AGW’s feedback mechanism is central to any projection of catastrophic global warming is simply a matter of fact.

    That the accuracy of theories imputing large positive values to this are speculative and a matter dispute is, also, simply fact.

    That all suggested policy programs for reducing Co2 are very expensive is, again, simply a matter of fact.

    That the alarmist projections of AGW catastrophe theorists have not been reflected in the actual climate and the projected trends (at least so far) failed to materialize, are, like it or not, simply facts.

    Meyer’s contention that AGW alarmism has diverted attention and resources for most other aspects of ‘environmentalism’ is, of course, a matter of opinion, but seems intuitively difficult to deny.

    His analogy criticizing catastrophic AGW advocates for basing too much, too certainly, on far too small a sample set, is just an observation of the obvious.

    His criticism of the rhetorical argument for subsidizing solar power in Arizona is just a statement of sound economics.

    It seems to me your objections seem less an appraisal of his commentary than an expression of your distaste at having to hear them.

    Just because his remarks were summary does not make them conjecture.

    His remarks, within his allotted five minute time limit, certainly addressed the central issues clearly and effectively with brevity, and probably very persuasively.

    Anyway, at this point advocacy of catastrophic AGW theory is clearly more about ideology and politics than science….if it was ever really about anything else all along.

    I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear that even the French have now dropped all plans for taxes and regulations to restrict Co2 emissions…at least for now, anyway….

    So, cheers!

  • Waldo

    *****”the majority of “climate science” is just conjecture,”

    Sure, as is most science. Including how many scientists? How much lab time? How many studies over how many years over the years on AGW? Not all conjecture is created equal. And Mr. Meyers is a small business owner from Phoenix who has no lab and a very pointed political bias.

    ****”based on a very limited amount of trustworthy information?”

    Who says so?

    ****”your objections seem less an appraisal of his commentary than an expression of your distaste at having to hear them.”

    Nope. Said it I dunno how many times – I am an AGW agnostic. What I find distasteful is the manner in which denialists engage in the “debate” and their general lack of credentials and experience which does nothing to mute their whining.

    *****”more about ideology and politics than science”

    Right. Like dfbaswill’s comment at the head of this thread. Which you also object to on the same grounds. Like Mr. Meyers numerous postings of a political nature. Like numerous of your fellow denialists on these threads and ones like it. You also object to the nature of their political commentary. Right?

  • Hal

    Waldo, the “AGW agnostic” is a paid shill, who outed himself with the statement:
    “numerous of your fellow denialists”, then it (Waldo is not sexually specific) slipped right into ad hominem.

    They are using a new “reasoned” sounding approach to support their crumbling agenda.
    There is lots of money behind the warmist agenda and it will fought for tenaciously.

  • Ike

    Waldo is playing the Sophist. Let him have his fun.

    And Warren… you left out ocean acidification. That’s one of the items environmentalists started ignoring when it appeared they could go “All In” on the AGW hand. (What do you MEAN you let Michael Mann keep track of the card counts?!?)

  • ADiff

    Hal,

    I have to agree that anyone who’d use the term “denialist” must be a catastrophic AGW advocate with a vested interest of some kind or other in the policy it’s assumed must follow from the theory.

    Using such a blatantly propogandistic term, right out of the advocacy NGO’s handbooks, makes it clear than the speaker’s agenda, whatever it may be, isn’t objective.

    Ad hominem seems inseparable from the AGW advocacy community, with respect to comments about Mr. Meyer’s academic credentials and political views. Interestingly I’d never been real negative about Al Gore before his film. I even voted for him once! And even now it isn’t his “rather pointed” politics I differ with, nor his lack of academic credentials…it’s just that there were too many inaccuracies in his presentation that a reasonable person should have known were wrong. That and his refusal to entertain even consideration of those mistakes when they’re pointed out repeatedly. Mistaken is one thing, lying another. And even there I believe lying can be excused when it’s in the best interest of the people of the United States, as often seemed the case with his senior partner who I actually admired (however much such view will no doubt be deprecated by many commentators here)…but to persist in claims clearly subject to serious question when it’s only in the interest of his own personal sensitivities and (pseudo-religious) beliefs, lying to all the world the way Bill used to lie to the Europeans or the Arabs for example, is inexcusable.

  • hunter

    Ike,
    Exactly.

    ADiff,
    AGW is nothing without historical illiteracy, fear mongering and ad hom.

  • klem

    I am a skeptic regarding AGW. However, I have been an environmentalist for 40 years and I believe that the result of our narrow AGW focus will ultimately be the most damaging thing to ever happen to the environmental movement. I have been saying this to my environmentalist friends for years, but they do not hear me. They are sticking to the ideology rather than cleaning up the earth.

    I have fought nuclear power all my life, but now my environmental brethren have embraced it. I am in shock. Nuclear is expensive, destructive, dangerous and nuclear power never pays for itself; every plant is a welfare case. Fossil fueled Electric power is cheap, safe, reliable and old technology, the only problem is the smoke. Why can’t we fix this one concern? It would cost billions to clean up smoke stacks but nuclear would cost trillions. We propose to build 20 nuclear plants in the USA, with the danger, destruction and the cost because we don’t want to bother cleaning up smoke stacks? This is insane. I will remain an environmentalist for the rest of my life, but it looks like I will be fighting my green friends on yet another issue.

  • Darko Butina

    Waldo,

    First of all, to the question ‘do you doubt AGW science’ – everyone outside the small group of mainly modellers doubt that science. the released emails very clearly show that EVERYTHING possible has been done to prevent people check their results and theories. They replaced editors of key journals, completely control reviewing processes so of course, since there is no unbiased assessment possible, nobody trusts their science. If you read latest news on McIntyre’s site, new editor (one mentioned in the emails) of the journal that Bob Carter published recent paper, allowed one of the AGW scientist to publish criticism of the paper BUT denied right to replay! I am not sure whether you are scientists, but in 30 years that I have been involved in the science (publishing, reviewing papers) I have never heard of such a case. I have been working in drug discovery over 30 years, and in many way I find similarities with the climate research – in both fields we don’t know more than we understand, and to say ‘the science of global warming has been fully understood – consensus of millions of scientists’ it is absolutely rubbish. All the world experts in experimental side of climate say – the models do not make sense, and we are not seeing the predicted trends. But all those experimental specialists also highlight – we still do not know so many things about the climate. So how can you possibly come with this line that seems to be repeated so many times that people ‘believe’ – can anyone doubt AGW science!!!!

  • Waldo

    *****”everyone outside the small group of mainly modellers doubt that science.”

    Reeeeeaaaly? Seems to me that might not be such the case, mon frere.

    ****”the released emails very clearly show that EVERYTHING possible has been done to prevent people check their results and theories”

    Again: Reeeeeaaly? I’ve seen said emails. In fact, there have been a number of posts on Climategate here on CS. I’ve yet to see an email that is particularly damaging unless someone, like any number of the CS tribe, goes to the extent of making some sort of exaggerated, paranoid deduction on what MIGHT be implied in the CRU emails. Again, gotta disagree with you there.

    ****”to say ‘the science of global warming has been fully understood”

    Never said that. No one said that until you just posted it. See the difference?

    *****”– consensus of millions of scientists’ it is absolutely rubbish.”

    And I don’t know about “millions” of scientists, but there are thousands of them. Go to the IPCC. They have lists of the contributors.

    ****”All the world experts in experimental side of climate say – the models do not make sense, and we are not seeing the predicted trends”

    Reeeeaaly? All of them? Nope, nope, nope. Think you are factually wrong there.

    I’m sorry, Darko, after that post I do not believe you are a scientist with 30 years experience (“drug discovery”?… perhaps). Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, my friend.

  • Waldo

    ****”Waldo, the “AGW agnostic” is a paid shill”

    My checking account begs to differ.

    You people crack me up.

  • Waldo

    *****”Waldo is playing the Sophist. Let him have his fun.”

    I do kind of see myself standing in the shade of a date tree and you all sitting around my feet, if that’s what you mean.

  • Thanks Waldo. I do enjoy a good chuckle even from those politically divergent from me. My checking account concurs with yours! Let’s just not examine the rings on that date tree! hehehe

  • hunter

    Do please tell us more about date trees, and of those sitting at your feet under it.
    One is impossible and the other improbable.

  • The points he makes are very well accepted by the climate community even the AGW believers.

    Like him I am an AGW believer just not a catastrophic AGW believer.

    Without huge positive feedback there is no need to scrap a functioning energy system and create another one at enormous cost. Policy considerations make alternate energy attractive enough on it’s own. Global warming doesn’t enter into it !

    Cap and trade has worked poorly in Europe so they are trying to raise the price.

    Since it is a pain based system no pain no gain.

    The argument about “green Jobs” is a fallacy too, unless there is a real catastrophe being averted.

    It is like hiring 100,000 people to dig holes and 100,000 to fill them up.

    We could give PhD’s in “hole theory” and lead the world.

  • I’ve never seen a good discussion of how the Global Warming Potential of CO2 (without feedbacks) is calculated. Is it based on IR absorption data or is it based on the ratio of temperature increases to CO2 concentration as measured by ice-core data (such as Vostok)? I would appreciate any references that could be provided.

    Thanks

  • Waldo

    O you funny little pedants – fine: Phoenix dactylifera – Date Palm Tree. You are all reclining on lawn chairs and I’m on a megaphone. The shade is sparse and our togas are getting sweaty since it is a palm with pinnate leaves, and it is a rare find since we are in ancient Greece.

    And I’m still waiting for my first deposit from the IPCC.

  • Darko Butina

    Waldo,
    Do you have any scientific background at all or you are just natural? It seems that you fill pages of comments without making any scientific point?
    Darko

  • Waldo

    Well Darko, you’ve now entered a conversation mid-stream asking a question that I long ago answered. But I suppose this is inevitable on a blog such as CS. So I see that I am retreading old ground, but oh well.

    I am a layperson. I don’t know what “just natural” means. I also don’t know if AGW is a real phenomenon or not. But as a layperson I am forced to determine who I believe based upon their credentials and trustworthiness; the latter I am forced to judge by the demeanor of the commentator in question. Which leads me to…

    ADiff’s implication that my criticism of Mr. Meyer’s is an “ad hom” attack –

    I would not attack Mr. Meyer personally, nor would I question his abilities as a businessman or his natural intelligence. He is clearly very intelligent, accomplished, and articulate. So, my ad hom comments (because they are ‘to the man’) are not based on Mr. Meyers as a person but on his relative merits as a commentator on AGW – and these are notably weak.

    On several occasions, actual scientists have looked at his postings – they are posted here on the blog. And on each occasion Mr. Meyer’s has been vague and inaccurate, has not properly understood the science in question, and has resorted to his own level of ad hom and defensive posturing (the latter is quiet ironic given the number of times he attacks the science community).

    In other words, I do use an ad hominem approach to Mr. Meyers because, quite frankly, the man deserves to be challenged.

    We’ve been round and round on this subject, but again, the analogy stands between a medical professional and a layperson who runs a business in Phoenix, AZ. If the Phoenix businessman claims that the scientists of the world have misdiagnosed cancer and are “riding the gravy train” off their misdiagnoses, I want to know that the Phoenix businessman knows what he is talking about. If I find that said Phoenix businessman primarily takes information from other blogposts or misquotes or misunderstands actual scientists in the world of cancer research, then I am not very likely to believe him. Furthermore, if said businessman appears to have a very politically minded take on the subject of cancer research, I would have to factor that in to my estimation of him – clearly anyone who is politically motivated is going to come to a politically motivated conclusion. I would use the same criteria for AGW.

    So sure, I am happy to make an “appeal to authority” and ad hom arguments here – they are perfectly valid in this case.

    What I find endlessly fascinating is how many intelligent people fall rank-and-file in line behind a guy who is demonstrably unqualified to make the claims he makes. I have to conclude that there are more than scientific reasons for the existence of the CS tribe.

    Of course, now comes the calls of “you only believe people if they have PhDs” or the like – but honestly, sure, if I hear of a PhD in climate physics who disagrees with a small business owner, I’m going to take the word of the climate physicist over the businessman. The reason why should be fairly self apparent.

    But in case it’s not: no one is saying that the climate physicists / PhDs of the world are any smarter or better than anyone here. But I am suggesting that, because they have spent a great deal of their time and energy acquiring expert knowledge on the climate and then professionally studying the clime, they might actually know a thing or two about the climate. Again, this seems extraordinarily apparent.

    The most deplorable thing about Mr. Meyers is that he takes his limited knowledge and skill sets public – as he does above – as if he is a legitimate, competent expert on AGW and has a bona fide stance. And that is shameful.

    For all these reasons, I take my arguments to the man in the case of Warren Meyer and even a number of people here on the threads.

    Did that answer your question, Darko?

  • ADiff

    And there you have it Darko, it all boils down to an Appeal to Authority and Ad Hominem. Proving, yet again, an old adage about feeding Trolls.

    It should be pretty clear at this point that catastrophic AGW, whatever it may be, isn’t “climate science” (to perhaps give more credit to that essentially social science than it deserves), it isn’t even science at all.

    It’s political advocacy, plain and simple.

    The sooner Climate Science can shed itself of this excrescence the sooner it will be able to actually define itself as something resembling a real science…you know the kind that has to demonstrate the veracity of its speculations in actual physical reality. At this point the worst obstacles to that are ‘scientists’ effectively involved in ideological ‘issues advocacy’ like Mann and Jones, and political and economic profiteers like Pachuri and the IPCC and NASA and, let’s not forget, snake-oil politicians like Al ‘Chicken Little’ Gore.

  • Otter

    I for one can see Waldo under the date trees. Surrounded by his worshippers… drinking his hemlock.

  • hunter

    Otter,
    Interesting vision. I think that with belief systems like AGW, and given Waldo’s feelings towards skeptics, the more likely vision would involve his getting his worshipers to drink the hemlock for him.
    ADiff,
    When Wall St. was eaten up by the phony models of risk they were using, the contrarians were very unpopular. After all- the modelers had won Nobel prizes, and they were working really well. Why just ask Stanford or Bernie Madoff.

  • Waldo

    “And there you have it Darko, it all boils down to…Ad Hominem.”

    Thank God you don’t don’t stoop to such levels, ADiff.

    For instance, writing something like, oh I don’t know, “scientists’ effectively involved in ideological ‘issues advocacy’ like Mann and Jones, and political and economic profiteers like Pachuri and the IPCC and NASA and, let’s not forget, snake-oil politicians like Al ‘Chicken Little’ Gore.”

    Yeah, that’s for trolls.

  • Waldo

    ****”Surrounded by his worshippers… drinking his hemlock”

    Hmmmm…wasn’t Socrates forced to drink hemlock after the oracle decided he was the wisest of all men? And didn’t Socrates prove the oracle correct by making the Athenians look foolish, essentially by pointing out the basic human hubris of conflating their self-delusional pride with wisdom? Didn’t Socrates refuse to recant the truth which made the Athenians even madder?

    Yeah, okay, I’ll take the allusion to Socrates for $10,000, Alex (after all, I’m a paid shill).

  • Teaner

    There’s a guy works down the hall from me. He’s got a nameplate that includes all the letters representing his degrees and certifications. He’s a lazy idiot and the most incompetent person in the building. But he’s politically connected, so he keeps his job. If anyone can’t discern what I’m alluding to here, please reread some of Waldo’s smartass comments.

  • Waldo

    Teaner, riiiiiight. Those lazy idiots and their advanced degrees! (As opposed to you who are burning up the corporate ladder, right?) This really makes me think about AGW in a new light.

  • hunter

    Opinions seem to have varied on Socrates, but I think this one is pretty interesting:
    “Aristophanes’ play The Clouds portrays Socrates as a clown who teaches his students how to bamboozle their way out of debt.”

    But this seems to make it impossible for any AGW sheep to ever be a Socratic figure:
    “Rather than upholding a status quo and accepting the development of immorality within his region, Socrates worked to undermine the collective notion of “might makes right” so common to Greece during this period. Plato refers to Socrates as the “gadfly” of the state (as the gadfly stings the horse into action, so Socrates stung Athens), insofar as he irritated the establishment with considerations of justice and the pursuit of goodness. His attempts to improve the Athenians’ sense of justice may have been the source of his execution.”
    After all, if you simply suck up to the authoritarian consensus, you are hardly going to be a gadfly.
    Sorry Waldo, that hemlock will not make you immortal, except in your own mind.

  • ADiff

    It’s most likely the real reasons behind Socrates’ execution was his support for Spartan hegemony over Athens, especially his support for Critias regime (the ‘Thirty Tyrants’) led by a relative of one of this students, Plato. According to Plato he objected to democracy since it refused to adhere to his view society should be strictly ordered according to his views of ‘virtue’, as defined by an elite of philosophers (himself definitely included). His views endorse socially enforced anti-materialism and individual subordination to the State, similar to the organization of the Sparta of which he was apparently enamored.

    The ‘squishy’ sciences, like the social sciences, and including the newer multi-disciplinary fields like ‘Ecology’ and ‘Climate Science’ are replete with highly credentialed idiots, touting ponderous theories that are much more philosophical than scientific in the sense they aren’t, or can’t be, demonstrated experimentally. To the extent ‘Climate Science’ is a social science, it’s mostly just academic hogwash of no particular practical value. To the extent it’s real observational fact-driven science, it should ‘butt-out’ of policy advocacy, as it’s not properly any part of science and inevitably corrupts.

  • Most climate alarmists don’t understand the science involved at all.

    Their only belief is in “consensus consensus consensus”!

    Here is a quote from a book about people that are easily lead around.

    “It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you don’t use your mind. Ideologues forgo independent judgment in favor of having their views handed to them. To succumb to ideology is to put your brain on autopilot.

    Ideology preordains your reactions to issues, ideas, and people, your view of politics, philosophy, economics and history. For the true believer ideology is the Rosetta stone of everything.

    It provides stock answers conditions responses, and delivers one size fits all explanations for complex political and cultural questions. Despite the conviction and seeming depth of knowledge with which ideologues speak they are intellectual weaklings – joiners- who defer to systems of belief for charismatic gurus for their ideas.

    Why bother thinking when the guru provides all the answers? What’s the use of examining the facts when the system has already determined the real truth. ”

    I also recommend “The True Believer “ by Erick Hoffer. I read it while in college and it has shaped my thinking greatly.

    I see the climate alarmists as just a modern day incarnation of the true believer.

  • The author of this book must be able to read my mind.

    “The primary and most obvious reason people join mass movements and follow ideology is the issues they address.

    To view all ideologies as entirely tricked or self-deluded overlooks the fact that at the core of many ideologies is a laudable idea, whether it is the need for a clean environment, a better understanding of other cultures, or equality of opportunity .for the sexes.

    Naturally people want to correct the failings they see around them. But dangers arise when the perceived morality of the mission allows immorality- lying for the cause, forcing the “good” upon the society self-righteousness, and so on- to corrupt crusaders.

    I have read countless “studies” which seek to magnify the problem not to quantify exactly how big the problem is.

    Problems also occur when activists mistake any cause bearing their ideology’s name for a noble one. It is intentions not outcomes that matter for such people. Thus we must separate ideological nonsense from the good idea it clings to.

  • Waldo

    Great quotes. But netdr, don’t you find these same traits in the critics of AGW science? Even a little? It is pretty ironic out here to read that sort of commentary applied only in one direction.

    And “consensus” is important to those of us who don’t understand the science because, very simply, we have to choose who we believe. Why should I, a layperson, be asked to believe a handful of outlaying legitimate scientists (because there really are only a handful of legit scientists who viably challenge AGW science)and the amateur blogosphere over the consensus of professional government scientists world-wide? ‘Thinking for oneself’ in these instances implies that one understands the science well enough to deduce its legitimacy – which, you charge, the average proponent of AGW does not – but are you sure that Mr. Meyer and the people here understand the science well enough to ‘think for themselves’ on this count? Look over the posts. Be honest.

    Why does your moniker link back to CS?

  • AFineDay

    The idea ‘ordinary’ persons can’t “understand the science” is either a telling indictment of our educational systems, or an inapt insult to ‘ordinary’ people.

  • BargHumer

    @AFineDay

    The concept of an “ordinary” person is perhaps quite central to this debate.

    What is an “ordinary” person? – I guess by definition it is someone who is not “extra-ordinary”. So who is “extra-ordinary”? surely these are just “ordinary” people who excel in some particular skill. If this is true, then an “ordinary” person is someone who does not excel in anything.

    If the “ordinary” person does not excel in anything, it can be because their education was “ordinary”, or absent, or the person had no ability or desire to understand. However, someone may be able to speak 10 languages but not be able to do simple arithmetic. Someone else can make beautiful paintings or carvings but cannot read or write. It starts to make “ordinary” a bit difficult to define.

    Anyway, it is clear that many of these scientific discussions are incomprehensible to both the “ordinary” person, and the non-scientific “extra-ordinary” person unless there is someone to teach them, and they are wiling to listen, willing to understand, and are both willing and able to change their mind.

    As we get older, our “world view” gets more entrenched and it becomes difficult to accept that it may be wrong. Our experience, selective reading, selective studies, and selective friends tend to re-inforce the “world view” we have “opted” for, or been “conditioned” with.

    So where does the “ordinary” person get their “world view” from? TV, newpapers, internet, pub chat, work chat etc,. Mostly from “Mass media” information sources one way or another, with the reliabilty test being “If it’s on the BBC then it must be true”.

    Finally then, is the “Mass media” trying to help the “ordinary” person (most of us) to understand the debate or is it trying to force one particular view? If it is one particular view then why and who makes such decisions for the “ordinary” person?

    As an “ordinary” person, I am able to understand that there are two sides to every debate, but I also understand enough to see that debates such as this are stifled (or weighted) in the “Mass media”. As Solomon said, “The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross-examination begins.” There is no cross examination!

    It seems clear that debate is not wanted, and the “ordinary” person is therefore excluded from any alternate views.

  • Waldo

    *****”The idea ‘ordinary’ persons can’t “understand the science” is either a telling indictment of our educational systems, or an inapt insult to ‘ordinary’ people.”

    Neither. Science is tough stuff. It is takes years of work and expert knowledge to understand properly. This is why we give people M.S., M.D., and PhD degrees – so we ordinary people understand that some people have extraordinary knowledge and insight.

    I am an educated, “ordinary” person. I know a little bit about science and a little bit about the scientific method. I do not understand science enough, however, to decide how I stand on a complex issue such as AGW. And I know I don’t know enough.

    And I must disagree with BargHummer on one point – there is lots of “cross examination,” in the mass media and elsewhere – but how valid this cross examination is is up to debate.

  • Jack

    Waldo,

    Your analogy about the businessman going up against the world of medicine is a little too quaint, I’m afraid. First off, Warren has plenty of credentials behind him in those areas of CS that he focuses on the most. (e.g., feedback, data management, etc.) Secondly, there are many climate skeptics out there — not just one lone heretic. And thirdly, your analogy presupposes that the consensus must be void of any ulterior motive.

    You can do better, I think.

  • hunter

    One of the tactics of the AGW trolls is to pretend that skeptics are not supported by any science, or that all that scientification is just too much for itty bitty lay-people to squeeze into their heads.
    It is obviouisly bogus, and no matter how many times they are shown to be full of used cow food, the trolls stick to it. Obviously, their diet of choice.

  • AFineDay

    Credentials are just ‘markers’ for knowledge, not knowledge itself. Acquaintance with a lot of recent college post-graduates makes that painfully clear. PhDs by themselves lend no credence or authority, at all. They are entrees to work, but work has to stand on its own, without any appeal to authority. If not, I don’t know what it is, but it ain’t science! Expertise credits persons presumption to competently seek answers, but that don’t mean folks without credentials have to take any on faith. That kind of science has no credibility at all, and we’d be as well off to base our decisions on Religion, since both are then just as reliable, and just creatures of their priesthoods. A bunch of PhDs can come up with any theories they want about nuclear physics, but until they can demonstrate it’s real, with something repeatable like X-Rays or Atom bombs, they can just kiss my ass because I’ve already seen Cold Fusion before. And I ain’t paying 10 cents for that, much less a mega-billion! At least we don’t yet have a Stalin who can tell us we have to accept Lysenko-ism.

  • Waldo

    Jack, I think you could do a little better. Actually I think you could read my post a little better.

    *****”First off, Warren has plenty of credentials behind him in those areas of CS that he focuses on the most. (e.g., feedback, data management, etc.)”

    Sure, but does that mean he is the same caliber commentator as a Hansen or a Mann or any of the other world renown experts on climate science? (Yup, you may not like it, but they are world renown) It may be quaint, but it is also accurate. Mr. Meyer, for all his credentials, is still an amateur who must logically devote most of his time to running his small business, not studying climate science. No matter how smart or credentialed he is, he is still not someone who should be a pretender to the throne.

    *****”Secondly, there are many climate skeptics out there — not just one lone heretic.”

    Never said that. You said that. I said “handful” of “legitimate scientists.” There are plenty of skeptics out there – “legitimate scientists,” not so many.

    *****”And thirdly, your analogy presupposes that the consensus must be void of any ulterior motive.”

    Yup, the siren call of the conspiracy theory. Which has yet to be proven to anyone but those who want very badly to see conspiracy in science they disagree with (for probably political reasons).

  • Waldo

    *****”PhDs by themselves lend no credence or authority, at all. ”

    We may have to agree to disagree here, FineDay, but I am much more willing to listen to a Ph.D. in climate physics who talks about climate physics than I am a small business owner whose knowledge of the subject is already questionable.

    ****”They are entrees to work, but work has to stand on its own, without any appeal to authority.”

    You do realize that one must do original scientific work to get a Ph.D. don’t you? It must have research, be peer reviewed and accepted by a university science department. From reading you entry, I’m not sure you understand what Ph.Ds are, how one is awarded, or what they do. “Theories,” for instance, only come from demonstrable science (and, yup, AGW has plenty’o’data to support it).

  • Waldo

    *****”pretend that skeptics are not supported by any science, or that all that scientification is just too much for itty bitty lay-people to squeeze into their heads”

    Never said either. hunter hunts strawmen.

    But all that “scientification” would be better coming from a scientist. And skeptics are supported by a few legitimate scientists and a great deal of questionable blog-science, which is hunter’s main hunting ground.

  • Jack

    Waldo: “No matter how smart or credentialed he is, he is still not someone who should be a pretender to the throne.”

    So credentials *don’t* matter. Is that what you’re saying now?

    Waldo, I’m not talking about reality so much as I am about your weak analogy. You were suggesting that Warren was like a business man with no medical background taking on the consensus among doctors. I’m sorry but climate science isn’t that neat. In spite of it’s emerging identity as a legitimate discipline, CS is inextricably connected to other disciplines wherein experts in those particular fields (IMO) are not given enough voice. Surely you’re not suggesting that Hansen and Mann know more about computer modeling than anyone else on Earth. Or that they know more about dynamic systems than the world’s leading mathematicians or engineers. Or that they know how to crunch numbers better than the world’s leading economists.

  • Waldo

    ****”So credentials *don’t* matter. Is that what you’re saying now?”

    No Jack. Please pay attention. Mr. Meyer does not have enough or the right kind of credentials. That’s what I am saying.

    *****”You were suggesting that Warren was like a business man with no medical background taking on the consensus among doctors. I’m sorry but climate science isn’t that neat.”

    And medical science is that “neat”? I’m sorry, but I think it is an extremely apt analogy – we all have our areas of expertise, which means that some people know more about a particular subject (such as medicine or climate physics) than others. That’s why we go see doctors for our hernias rather than Mr. Meyer. If you would rather have Mr. Meyer examine your prostrate, feel free, but I wouldn’t advice it…

    ****”In spite of it’s emerging identity as a legitimate discipline, CS is inextricably connected to other disciplines wherein experts in those particular fields (IMO) are not given enough voice.”

    My understanding of contemporary science is that virtually all of it is interdisciplinary. And that still does not mean that Mr. Meyer is someone whose voice is legitimate in the midst of the evolving din.

    *****”Surely you’re not suggesting that Hansen and Mann know more about computer modeling than anyone else on Earth.”

    Huh? I don’t think I wrote anything about “computer modeling.” But no, computer programmers know the most about computer modeling. However, Hansen and Mann are world-renown experts on climate physics – and they are foremost experts on what the computer models, among things (including empirical evidence on how the climate is behaving), imply for the future.

    ****”Or that they know more about dynamic systems than the world’s leading mathematicians or engineers. Or that they know how to crunch numbers better than the world’s leading economists.”

    I don’t know how much they know about dynamic systems in comparison to mathematicians, but I believe they work in consort with other scientists, engineers, mathematicians, etc. who can monte carlo whatever the dynamic duo asks them to. And economists may be able to crunch numbers like a pneumatic press. But does not mean they understand chemistry, physics, heat transfer, etc. etc. I wouldn’t ask Mann and Hansen about economic recovery, why would I ask an economist to “crunch numbers” when discussing climate science?

    This is really a very simple idea. And I cannot see how people can argue otherwise.

  • PaulsNZ

    I know that when one has to lie to prove ones theory of AGW then I know to regard any and all referenced work tainted by the lie as worthless, just as I would judge a dis-honest criminal based on his crime.

  • hunter

    I just heard an interview with the author of “The Big Short”, about how a rag tag group of misfits and people that Wall St. claimed had no credentials, made billions betting against the Nobel prize winning consensus regarding risk magt. and the mortgage market.
    The similarities between the Wall St. side of the argument and our troll Waldo’s argumetns are amazing: a bunch of circular crap that only the promoter of the argument actually finds credible.
    Please do continue, Waldo.

  • Ben

    The one thing that has had me trying to crash the gw scare was the energy and society cost for so little gain…there is no good solution that they propose..its all old ideas that have been shown to be both counter-productive to the environment AND the economy in general.

    The Kyoto treaty was never signed not because of industry, but because of an idiot scheme…lets keep the third world dark … And pay them to not industrialize.

    However, the one idea that has been proven is that the third world is not only harder on the environment, but that their birth rates are so much higher then the rest of the world that keeping them dark simply increases human’s production and thus increases CO2 over the long-term while we pat ourselves on the back and say “good job”, you pollute less because you pay for indulgances…while in the long-term you are damaging the environment.

    Kyoto falls apart because it was never signed by the US…and then we get carbon credits….did’t we learn from Kyoto?

    But as this scheme has taken off, good environmental ideas such as a revamp of the US sewage system are never mentioned, nor do we hear about Pollution from China ravaging California, but instead its carbon this, carbon that….when there are real environmental concerns that are simply ignored that are a reality and something we should deal with instead of this so-called global warming.

    Good job on a 5 minute discussion that sums this up succintly. The science is something to be discussed elsewhere, here we should discuss the true consequences to the environment as a result of this fiasco…

  • Waldo

    ****”when one has to lie to prove ones theory of AGW”
    Paul, How do you know it’s a lie?

    Ben, your post is rather vague on the details. Could you back up what you said?

    ****”The similarities between the Wall St. side of the argument and our troll Waldo’s argumetns are amazing”

    Really? Should we find out a little bit about the book? The subjects of “The Big Short” are three independent brokers who wagered people would be thrown out of their houses when the economy tanked. If we take your analogy to its logical end, hunter, the investors in the book equal the rogue climate skeptics such as Mr. Meyer. And what is the result of listening to a rogue skeptic? I found this on Barnes & Nobel book reviews, “it was actively harmful, since they [Jamie Mai, Charlie Ledley and Ben Hockett – the rogue investors involved] provided the fuel which kept the subprime mortgage furnace burning even when the country was running out of new junk mortgages to write.” In other words, hunter, your heroes here helped to leave thousands of people homeless and, in fact, added fuel to the economic collapse wile pursuing their own selfish aims. Apt analogy?

    Or are you simply reaching for another desperate analogy (between Wall Street and climate science) that has absolutely no bearing on anything? Poor hunter.

    ****”Please do continue, Waldo.”

    Okay! I will.

  • Waldo:

    Great quotes. But netdr, don’t you find these same traits in the critics of AGW science? Even a little? It is pretty ironic out here to read that sort of commentary applied only in one direction.

    And “consensus” is important to those of us who don’t understand the science because, very simply, we have to choose who we believe. Why should I, a layperson, be asked to believe a handful of outlaying legitimate scientists (because there really are only a handful of legit scientists who viably challenge AGW science)and the amateur blogosphere over the consensus of professional government scientists world-wide? ‘Thinking for oneself’ in these instances implies that one understands the science well enough to deduce its legitimacy – which, you charge, the average proponent of AGW does not – but are you sure that Mr. Meyer and the people here understand the science well enough to ‘think for themselves’ on this count? Look over the posts. Be honest
    **********************
    I know enough science to evaluate the arguments for and against catastrophic AGW. In my case I began as a tepid believer in AGW, after a period of reading both sides of the argument I became a nonbeliever in catastrophic AGW.

    Consensus is a poor reason to believe anything, the number of times consensus has been wrong should be proof of that. Einstein blew the Newtonian consensus up nicely with a TESTABLE THEORY ! If Catastrophic AGW had such a testable theory I would be a believer.

    If I knew no science I would choose Dr Hansen over NetDr but to disregard what I know seems silly. There are many credible scientists who’s theories mesh better with my knowledge and experience. The issue of positive feedback seems to me where Dr Hansen has bobbled the ball.

    It is my belief that Dr Hansen and the hockey team are such true believers that they have lost all objectivity and cannot be trusted for accurate science. They want to save the world and to do this you must prove the world needs saving.

    They have failed so far.

    I don’t have to decide between