Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Romm's Horrible Advice

I'm still not sure what I think of yesterday's controversial Schneider et al PNAS paper, but I am sure about Joseph Romm's remark that is time for the media to stop listening to, quoting, and enabling those who spread anti-science and anti-scientist disinformation.

Romm can stuff it.

While there is little doubt that humans are influencing today's climate -- even Lindzen, Spencer, Lomborg, and others admit that -- and that our methods of generating energy are, over the time-scale of decades, a huge future crisis -- there are still some very important and legitimate questions about climate science and rational skeptics have a role to play in answering them.

For example: just how much of recent temperature increases are due to man's influence (GHGs + land use changes) and how much a natural or random fluctuation -- is it 2/3rds, or 1/3rd, or what?

In the ten years or so that I've been following and covering climate science, there have been a lot of changes in the state of various questions, in both directions. The overall case for AGW seems stronger (compare the IPCC 4AR to the 2AR), and the Arctic is melting faster than was predicted ten years ago, but there are also issues that have been dialed back as further study was done, such as:

  • concerns about the potential overturning of the AMOC and its potential to lead to deep cooling in Europe have been lessened
  • the Medievel Warm Period may have been more global than first thought
  • AGW's ability to strenghten hurricanes seems to have been dialed back (Emanual, et al)
  • what about the impact of decreases in cloud cover? Roy Spencer says today's climate can be explained by a mere 2% decrease in global cloud cover
  • it's becoming increasingly clear that nations and societies can't cut CO2 emissions without sacrifices in lifestyle, which no one (understandably) wants to do
These are just a few of the issues that immediately pop into my mind. Skeptics -- again, reasonable, thinking, scientific skeptics -- have a role in answering them, and journalists are right to ask for their opinions. That is not "anti-science." There are certainly anti-science forces about (more about that some other time), but dogmatic adherence to a list is anti-journalistic and just as dangerous as wanton skepticism.


Michael Tobis said...

Before you go jumping to conclusions, please find the "list" in question.

Steve Bloom said...

David, those four science examples are very inapt. I'm actually a little shocked that you would choose them. In particular, Spencer's parroting of Lindzen is complete crap. Over twenty years of failure, Lindzen's flogging of a cloud-induced tropical pony that will magically cancel out CO2-induced warming has completely avoided the paleoclimate data that falsifies it utterly. Spencer continues that fine tradition. That he's also a serial screw-up should also be taken into account.

Also, please check those references I sent re Emanuel. His current views on AGW-hurricanes are not what you seem to think they are.

lucia said...

Why have you jumped to the conclusion that David has not found "list" in question? (And if you think he hasn't found the list, why not provide a link to the list?)

willis said...

Steve Bloom said...
.. Over twenty years of failure, Lindzen's flogging of a cloud-induced tropical pony that will magically cancel out CO2-induced warming has completely avoided the paleoclimate data that falsifies it utterly.

Citations would help here ...

Craig Goodrich said...

There are various sorts of arguments in detail that can be made, of course -- from fossil leaf stomata vs ice cores to upper troposphere humidity vs cosmic rays -- but there are two scientifically relevant points that need to be made and are universally fudged, ignored, or evaded in the whole discussion by the IPCC faction:

First, the amazing sums spent on computer modelling have produced hideously expensive programs with no more actual skill than Hansen's model based on his studies of Venus twenty years ago. Labelling a curve-matching fudge factor "aerosols" is no more scientific than labelling it "pink bunnies." The models, on which all the IPCC scenarios are based and which are -- incredibly -- treated by many in the scientific community as evidence (which of course they are not), have proven wrong in every concrete prediction they have made. In any other field of science, the hypothesis they express would have been regarded as conclusively rejected a decade ago.

Second, although two very vague propositions seem to be true --

a) the global average temperature has risen about 1 deg F over the last century, and

b) human activity has had some effect on climate, at least locally --

there is, after two decades and around $100 billion in research, no actual evidence connecting these two statements. Obviously the climate of, say, Manhattan or Bombay is different now than it was centuries ago, but if CO2 is to blame, its effect is completely lost in the noise of differences in hydrology, heat absorption, and a dozen other factors.

When the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis first reached the headlines with Hansen's 1988 testimony, the "evidence" presented for it was "our models can't reproduce the warming without including a strong CO2 influence." This has no evidentiary value at all, of course, but if you say it fast and often enough, ignorant journalists may accept it.

Now looking at the IPCC's 2007 AR4, careful reading of WG 1, Ch. 9, "Attribution" -- the only policy-relevant section -- reveals that there is still no actual evidence that CO2 is driving the (modest) warming (which has moreover stopped, or at least paused) aside from "our models can't reproduce the warming without including a strong CO2 influence." Is the cynicism of the general public so hard to understand, given this total lack of results?

It is hilarious to listen to CAGW apologists accuse skeptics of being "anti-science", when it is so clearly they themselves who have corrupted the field with evasion and obfuscation.

EliRabett said...

The amazing sums have been spent on satellite launching and observation. The sums spent on computer modeling are rather small.

Michael Tobis said...

Lucia, what list?