Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Did Bengtsson and GWPF See In One Another?

It's a little difficult to see what either Lennart Bengtsson or GWPF saw in the other.

Bengtsson certainly is no skeptic. GWPF should have known that. Maybe they liked the big name and he liked being asked. As William Connolley writes, maybe Bengtsson didn't really know what he was getting into:
"...Lennart Bengtsson, sounding somewhere between very naive and emeritus, joins the GWPF, talking the usual nonsense (I believe most serious scientists are sceptics) indicating that either he really doesn’t know what’s going on, or is deliberately obfusticating. Now, it seems, his various respectable colleagues have pointed out his silliness to him. So he’s ditching the GWPF, because he doesn’t want to be an outcast. But he hasn’t got the grace to admit the foul-up is all his error."
If you at Bengtsson's list of publications, which goes all the way back to 1963, you find a great deal of very detailed, impressive work, in several directions. But little that would paint him as a "skeptic" -- except, as he told der Spiegel, in the way that most scientists are skeptics.

This 2011 paper found "that the models have a minor systematic warm bias in the upper troposphere."

In this 2013 paper, Bengtsson finds a lower bound for transient climate sensitivity of 1.5 ± 0.3°C, and for equilibrium climate sensitivity of 2.0 ± 0.5°C. Those are lower bounds, mind you. That puts him squarely in the AGW camp.

A 2002 paper on which Bengtsson was a co-author finds "...that anthropogenic forcing is a likely explanation for the observed global ocean warming over the past five decades."

This 2002 paper finds significantly fewer hurricanes in a greenhouse-warmed climate.

And so on. Nothing radical, clearly with great attention to the details.

He goes further from the middle in the der Spiegel interview. He says "Since the end of the 20th century, the warming of the Earth has been much weaker than what climate models show," which the reporter rightly points out the IPCC 5AR discussed in detail. He replies, "Yes, the scientific report does this but, at least in my view, not critically enough. It does not bring up the large difference between observational results and model simulations." (Large? Maybe Bengtsson doesn't know about Cowtan & Way.) But then
I have full respect for the scientific work behind the IPCC reports but I do not appreciate the need for consensus. 
OK. But while there is a consensus on almost all of the science since Galileo, except at the edges, the need for a "consensus" on climate change isn't driven by science, but by the environmental problem -- because climate is changing so fast, we don't have forever to sit around and get the science down to the sixth decimal place. We need to act, in the face of uncertainty, so knowing what the scientists by-and-large agree on is vital. And they -- and, Bengtsson, clearly, agree that our CO2 emissions are creating a lot of change, with serious consequences.

He then says it's very hard to see all the societal changes in the next 100 years (OK. So what?), and
Bengtsson: No. I think the best and perhaps only sensible policy for the future is to prepare society for change and be prepared to adjust. In 25 years, we'll have a world with some 9 to 10 billion people that will require twice as much primary energy as today. We must embrace new science and technology in a more positive way than we presently do in Europe. This includes, for example, nuclear energy and genetic food production to provide the world what it urgently needs.
which also seems sensible. Too sensible for GWPF, frankly. Or maybe the last sentence plays well in certain circles of Europe.

Who knows what his friends and colleagues told him since he joined GWPF. They have a right to express their displeasure, and even to withdraw co-authorships on papers if they want, because Bengtsson clearly stepped out of the scientific arena and that may have made some of them uncomfortable.

And perhaps Bengtsson is, being from a different era (he's 79), not fully aware of the way the Internet has changed the pace of the debate and increased its ferocity. It's probably safe to assume that Bengtsson received the usual deluge of email crap that climate scientists who speak publically get. That's unfortunate, but hardly new, and hardly -- unlike the usual hypocrites are pretending -- one-sided. Where have they been for the last 20 years?

This week Marco Rubio got hammered for his denialism. The WAIS melting was found to be unstoppable. Now Bengtsson gets roundly criticized for aiding the deniers. Perhaps people really are starting to take climate change seriously -- and, yes, getting a little angry about it.


Joe Goodacre said...


You appear ok about what happened to Bengtsson.

I would have thought that it's desirable to engage with people that we disagree with. If we don't intend to engage with them and build consensus in a democracy, the only other option is to trample over them.

There's a word for the latter - totalitarianism. If you're for letting people think for themselves, and not being told what to think, shouldn't the pressure that's been put on Bengtsson to step away from engaging with people who don't share his point of view be discouraged?

Olle Häggström said...

Dear David,

Concerning "who knows what [Bengtsson's] friends and colleagues told him since he joined GWPF", here is an example - a critical blog post I wrote on May 11. (If you do not read Swedish, you can at least get the gist of it via Google Translate.)

Although my criticism was severe, his response to me was almost absurdly disproportionate, with his indication that due to my blog post he might change his plan to move home to Sweden. I suspect some of the words in his letter of resignation to GWPF may need to be calibrated against his tendency towards Drama Queen behavior.

Nik said...

"...because climate is changing so fast...."

Yeah, according to FAKE hockey sticks that bizarrely re-date data to create blades as pure sudden data drop-off artifacts!

The meltdown continues and is getting nasty now in a way that accelerates it.

"And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids" - Michael Mann's appearance on Scooby Doo

Joe Goodacre points out, "There's a word for the latter - totalitarianism."

Well, Joe, David is quite friendly with that sentiment indeed, having said:

"Are they? Are Anthony Watts and Marc Morano and Tom Nelson and Steve Goddard smart enough to be guilty of climate crimes? I think so. You can't simply claim that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas. I think they're crimes will be obvious in about a decade. When I profiled Michael Mann for Scientific American, he said he thought it would eventually be illegal to deny climate change. I had doubts about that, but maybe."

Note that David is well aware that none of those people claim that CO₂ isn't a greenhouse gas, so his statement amounts to slanderous propaganda that equates climate model skepticism with denial of the greenhouse effect, and this active slander is nearly universal among members of the inquisitional doomsday Climatology cult.

This episode will likely be almost as bad as Climategate for your side of the "debate." It exposes anti-science extremism to the exact extent that activists support it publicly. William Connoley of Wikipedia notoriety even tried to spin it as a goofy old guy being "clued-in" that the GWPF was just a bunch of dummies, leaving out Bengtsson's mention of real fear for his safety and comparison to McCarthyism. A reminder of his qualifications is in order which also happens to include extensive experience with climate models on advisory boards and in about two hundred papers:

2009 Silver Medal of the European Meteorological Society
2009 Honorary Member of the Royal Meteorological Society, UK
2009 Alfred Wegener Medal and Honorary member of EGU
2009 Doctor Honoris causa, Uppsala University
2008 Member of the Norwegian Polar Academy
2008 Honorary Member of the American Meteorological Society
2007 Rossby Prize 2007 by the Swedish Geophysical Society (SGS)
2007 Elected Honorary Member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS)
2006 International Meteorological Organization (IMO) Prize of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
2005 Descartes Research Prize
1999 Fellow of American Meteorological Society
1998 Umweltpreis 1998 der Deutschen Bundesstiftung Umwelt
1998 Member of the Finnish Academy of Science
1996 Milutin Milancovic medal by the European Geophysical Society
1995 Member of the Nordrhein-Westfälischen Wissenschaftsakademie
1993 Member of the Swedish Academy of Science
1991 Honorary Member of the Swedish Meteorological Society
1990 Doctor honoris causa, University of Stockholm
1990 Förderpreis and the Golden Rosette for European Science by the Körberstiftung, Hamburg
1989 Member of Academia Europea
1986 Julius von Hann´s Gold Medal by the Austrian Meteorological Society

-=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in carbon chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

Nik said...

Olle, obviously Bengtsson was noting his reaction to the overall anti-scientific culture in Sweden which is only too happy to call the exposure of scientific fraud as "denial" in Stalinist fashion. He wrote:

"Earlier, I had plans to move back to Sweden but am now considering changing my plans as I was not aware of how bad things are with intellectual freedom."

His reaction to you personally was not "absurdly disproportionate" since you alone do not represent the intellectual weather in Sweden. His main response to you was about updating his CV with his latest work.

In your blog post you wrote: "See the blog post for an explanation of why I use the term climate denier and not climate skeptics or some other euphemism."

Didn't you get the memo, Olle, the cult mothership pilot Gavin Schmidt of NASA whose temperature product is diverging from actual NASA *satellite* data by more than his claimed temperature rise, has begged his followers to stop making themselves ridiculous in this way since to laypersons outside of your activist bubble it is considered a comparison to Holocaust denial:

It's extra amusing how you condemn Bengtsson for objectively and compassionately pointing out the purely symbolic nature of Swedish green energy since the country represents a mere fraction of a percent of global emissions so Sweden is irrelevant to the climate and so should not be thwarted economically. It's so amusing too because Sweden itself was just as hot in the 1700s in a way that falsifies alarm since it makes a mockery of claims that recent warming is outside of natural variation:

Here's what's happening Olle: you're wrong, and are on the wrong side of not a scientific "debate" but on the ongoing attempt of scientifically trained volunteers and a few policy institutes to expose scientific *fraud*. I posted the Marcott 2013 fake hockey stick that singularly proves that peer review in climate "science" is utterly corrupt, throwing each and every one of its contemporary results into question. In a broader sense, every budding Western Marxist in the world has now publicly attached themselves to climate alarm that now overlaps with mainstream political parties, and it's now causing a backlash that threatens to destroy the entire left wing of politics for a generation so there is significant inertia towards the simple act of correcting a rogue field of science.

Witness your Orwellian claim that: "It is increasingly clear to me that Lennart Bengtsson in recent years has brought great confusion and great harm to the Swedish climate debate."

It's Orwellian since you refer to the likes of your own moral posturing minus *any* supporting scientific facts in arguing that it's *good* that actual debate be *shut* *down*, as "debate."

Gavin is here demonstrating this bizarre behavior in person, here seen literally skirting around real debate with the skeptical scientist who actually *uses* NASA satellites to create a temperature record:

The fact is, your side, and you included, are fighting to *avoid* debate while you call this avoidance "debate" and refer to your necessarily winning debate opponents as "deniers."

One of the only real debates was at the Oxford Union debating society, which in 2010 concluded: "That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change" by 135 votes to 110."

TheTracker said...

Nice post.

Minor typo at an unfortunate juncture: "Nothing radical, with impression attention to the details."

Nik, your beef is with reality, which has discredited the nonsense you chose to belief in the face of overwhelming proof, not scientists, who are compelled to follow the overwhelming evidence where it leads.

"Real debate" with logic- and fact-challenged deniers has occurred over and over, and has always been, for your side, and with apologies to Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and short.

Science is always open to further debate if you can make a scientific case, rather than cite college debating societies and waving your to aches and pitchforks.

Call me when your article clears peer review.

" If we don't intend to engage with them and build consensus in a democracy, the only other option is to trample over them.

There's a word for the latter - totalitarianism."

That's not what totalitarianism means, Joe. Not even close.

Contempt for people behaving contemptibly is a fact of life in all societies big and small, not a sign of the onslaught of tyranny.

Jon said...

"I would have thought that it's desirable to engage with people that we disagree with. If we don't intend to engage with them and build consensus in a democracy, the only other option is to trample over them."

Trampling over people who are wron, when it becomes clear that they're wrong to the majority and they refuse to admit it, is also something that happens, perfectly legitimately, in democracies. And really, what choice do we have with the GWPF and similarly minded groups? Taking the GWPF as an example, Nigel Lawson recently published an op-ed titled "A Wicked Orthodoxy" in which he claimed that the IPCC takes no account whatever of the fertilization effect of increased CO2 on plants. This is utterly false, as can easily be verified by a quick keyword search of IPCC reports available online. So either Nigel Lawson was intentionally lying about what is in IPCC reports he hasn't read or he was deliberately making claims about the content of IPCC reports he hadn't read with reckless disregard for whether they were true or not. He published that more than a week ago. Has he or anyone from the GWPF issued a public correction of his lie? Not as far as I can tell. So tell me, what's the point of engaging with a liar like Nigel Lawson, who is apparently immune to being persuaded by facts he doesn't like, in an attempt to reach consensus. He leaves us no choice but to trample over him, if we can. If you want there to be enough to eat for the expected world population several decades from now, you had better hope we succeed.

David Appell said...

Nik: The NASA GISTEMP dataset measures surface temperatures; satellites measuer atmospheric temperatures. They are measuring two different things.