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SkS Responses to Pielke Sr. Questions

Posted on 21 September 2011 by dana1981

On his blog in response to our post One-Sided 'Skepticism, Roger Pielke Sr. asked SkS to respond to some questions.  We would like to note that these questions are totally unrelated to the initial discussion initiated by Dr. Pielke's unsubstantiated criticism of SkS (see Chasing Pielke's Goodyear Blimp).  However, in the interest of establishing what we hope will be a productive discourse, we have agreed to answer Dr. Pielke's questions.

Dr. Pielke's questions are underlined in the text below, and the answers from SkS follow.

1. Of the two hypotheses below, which one do you conclude is correct? (see Dr. Pielke's post for the two hypotheses offered)

The two aren't mutually exclusive, and both are correct.  CO2 is the dominant radiative forcing causing the current global energy imbalance.

2. Of the two perspectives below [from Mike Hulme], which one do you agree with? (see Dr. Pielke's post for the two perspectives offered)

Again, the two perspectives are not mutally exclusive, and both are correct.  As Hulme notes, they are simply two different framings.  In terms of climate policy, the second framing is probably more appropriate, as addressing climate change will involve more than just CO2 emissions reductions.

3. What is your preferred diagnostic to monitor global warming?

SkS doesn't have a preferred diagnostic - all lines of evidence must be taken into account.  It's important to look at all the data in totality to monitor global warming (surface temperature, ocean heat content, atmospheric temperature, TOA energy imbalance, sea level rise, receding ice, etc.).

What is your best estimate of the observed trends in each of these metrics over the last 10 years and the last 20 years?

10-year trends are generally not statistically significant (see Santer et al. 2011, for example).  The approximate best estimate observed trends for some of these metrics over the last ~20 years are as follows.  TLT: 0.18°C per decade.  Surface temperature: 0.18°C per decade.  Ocean Heat Content (OHC) upper 700 meters: 6.3 x 1022 J per decade.  Sea level rise: 32 mm per decade.  Arctic sea ice volume: -2900 km3 per decade.  Glacier mass balance: -180 mm w.e. per decade.

4. What do the models’ predict should be the current value of these metrics?

The surface temperature change is roughly consistent with model predictions, though perhaps a bit on the low end.  The predicted TLT trend is approximately 0.26°C per decadeSea levels are rising faster and Arctic sea ice is declining far faster than models predict.

OHC in the upper 700 meters increased more than the models expected from 1961 to 1999, and has increased less than models project since 2003. There are a number of factors that may explain the recent discrepancy:

  • as noted above, this is too short of a timeframe for a valid statistical evaluation; 
  • models generally do not take the increases in aerosol emissions over this period into account;
  • the oceans are much deeper than 700 meters, and the so-called "missing heat" may very well reside in the deeper oceans (i.e. see Meehl et al. 2011).

We have discussed this subject previously here and more recently here, taking the deep ocean into account.

One reason that we like to rely on multiple lines of evidence, rather than depend on one single indicator, is that any one can be wrong. The history of the UAH measurements comes to mind: the measurements were in conflict with other methods for tracking temperature change (and with climate model projections) for over a decade; eventually, most of the discrepancy was resolved (in favor of the models) only after very subtle analysis of the physical behavior of the instruments.

5. What are your preferred diagnostics to monitor climate change?

That depends on how "climate change" is defined, but again, it is necessary to look at all lines of evidence and data.

6. Is global warming (and cooling) a subset of climate change or does it dominate climate change?

Again, that depends on how "climate change" is defined.  Long-term global temperature and climate changes are both ultimately caused by global energy imbalances.

Now that we have answered your questions, there are a few issues on which we would like to understand your perspective, Dr. Pielke.

SkS Questions for Dr. Pielke

1. Approximately what percentage of the global warming (increase in surface, atmosphere, ocean temperatures, etc.) over the past 100 years would you estimate is due to human greenhouse gas emissions and other anthropogenic effects?  And the past 50 years?

2. Do you find Spencer, Lindzen, and Christy's arguments that equilibrium climate sensitivity is in the ballpark of 1°C or less for doubled atmospheric CO2 plausible?  If so, how do you reconcile this low climate sensitivity with the paleoclimate record, for example needing to explain ~5°C swings in average global surface temperature between glacial and interglacial periods (i.e. see the figure below from Hansen and Sato 2011)?

Fig 2

3. Do you agree that continuing on our current business-as-usual emissions path presents an unacceptable (in your opinion) risk to the biosphere and to human society in general within the next century?

4. Do you agree that continuing on our current business-as-usual emissions path presents an unacceptable (in your opinion) risk to marine ecosystems in the form of ocean acidification within the next century?

5. Do you think that we should begin to move towards a low-carbon economy, thereby reducing anthropogenic GHG emissions?

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 180:

  1. Dikran Marsupial - It would be much more effective if you would directly contact David Douglass and ask your question about his analysis. This would be another example of reaching out to seek to work together on the climate issue. I have respect for David and he will clarify or correct if their is an error. However, you need to reach out to ask him.
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  2. Dr. Pielke @96,

    Thank you. I think I know how we can come to terms on your position about land use and land cover change. I'm going to make a suggestion to you comment:

    "Land use-land cover change is a first order forcing for regional climate as it can alter regional climate more than that caused by the radiative forcing of added CO2; in contrast, the role Land use-land cover change in driving global climate change is still uncertain and as shown by Forster et al., is unlikely to be significant relative to forcing from GHGs and aerosols."

    On that I can agree. And I'm not sure how you can continue to argue that something which has (near) zero net global radiative forcing can be considered a first-order radiative forcing. The forcing from CO2 is going to continue to escalate of course and the resulting changes will also impose feedbacks, included but not limited to land cover change...

    Re EOS, if someone were to contact them and ask whether or not your 2009 manuscript underwent official "peer-review", with peer-review as understood in terms scientific papers. What would they say? Also, do you honestly think that the government official to who you presented your 'paper' understand these nuances?

    "Also the alterations in spatial diabatic heating from this heterogenous forcing may alter large scale circulation features such as Asian monsoon, the NAO etc. "

    Earlier you referred to Takata as a example of regional change. Now you are using it as an example of large-scale circulation changes, while technically correct (the monsoon and AO is a large-scale phenomenon), that language may confuse readers. Also, the science has shown that oscillations (i.e., internal variability, do not account for the observed increase in global temperatures). See here, for example.

    And yes I have given your paper a cursory read-- iI have quoted from it above remember Have you watched Dr. Alley's talk yet? No models required to understand that we need to reduce GHGs aggressively and promptly ;)
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  3. Dr. Pielke could you please answer John Hartz's question posed to you @90 and again @95. Thank you.
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  4. It appears that progress can be made on narrow and specific issues, but those are fairly benign such as reducing GHGs. What is more important IMO is determining exactly where there are disagreements and spelling out those disagreements with as much precision as possible. A link may work in some cases, but trying to wade through a long blog post about why some paper is wrong makes it difficult to determine points of agreement and disagreement especially when that blog posting addresses many different points, comments on politics, etc. I would rather see the points of agreement or especially disagreement summarized here in concise bullet form.

    As just one example, could we have an estimate from Dr. Pielke of how much of the increase in nighttime minimum temperatures is due to station bias and how much is due to CO2 plus increased water vapor. I don't see a quantity, at least not in the 2009 paper. OTOH, I don't believe all biases are eliminated from the surface records particularly regarding impediments to radiational cooling in urban areas.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] You are correct. A linear comment thread like this does have its drawbacks. Having said that, let's complete the process of reviewing all the scientific issues raised in Dana's article.
  5. Albatross

    'And I speak for my (and your) colleagues too when I say that it is considered poor form and inappropriate to repeatedly quote/cite one's own work as you seem to have a propensity to do."

    So one is not permitted to refer to their peer reviewed papers to answer a question that the person would have known if they had read it. Very unusual. :-)
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  6. John Hart,

    Sorry. Hope this helps.

    WRF is a regional numerical weather prediction model (NWP)used by the US National Weather Service and by researchers.

    AOGCMs are coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models.


    I'll note the "if" in Dr. Pielke's post @100-- this is an interesting hypothesis, but it is a hypothesis (versus the theory of AGW) and Dr. Pielke admits that it is his "view". So again, Occam's razor applies, we ought to be far more concerned about dealing with GHGs, aerosols and black carbon (I hope that you advocate moving away from coal rapidly). In fact research has looked into where we can get the biggest bang for our buck, and this matter has been discussed at RealClimate.

    Addressing land use change and CO2 emissions are not mutually exclusive, I know that you are familiar with REDD", you have made reference it in one of your papers.

    Your proposed method of dealing with AGW sounds like it involved a lot of delay and even more research money over and above what is already being spent. How would Roy Spencer feel about that?
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  7. Memo to all persons posting comments:

    The target audience for SkS articles and comment threads is the average person. Please define the acronyms that you use in your posts.
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  8. John Hartz - If I have to define diabatic heating, [-snipped offensive comment-]

    Diabatic heating is a change of heat of a "parcel of air" in Joules/meter cubed that are distinct from changes in Joules per meter cubed due to expansion and compression (adiabatic heating) such as from ascent or decent.
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    Moderator Response: Please do not make offensive statements about SkS or its readers, you were encouraged to post here and the Comments Policy applies to you too.
  9. John Hartz - If the readers are not familiar with the common acronyms, they will not likely be familiar with what they mean.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] If acronyms are defined, the average person will have a better chance of understanding a statement. The golden rule of effective communication is, "Know thy audience."
  10. Albatross - Re #95, I posted on their paper. See

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/new-paper-observed-changes-in-surface-atmospheric-energy-over-land-by-peterson-et-al-2011/

    Their study found the same larger values as we did, as I dicuss in my post.
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  11. Dr. Pielke @106,

    "So one is not permitted to refer to their peer reviewed papers to answer a question that the person would have known if they had read it"

    [inflammatory text snipped] Please do not misrepresent and distort what I said, as well as ignore the reasons provided for my concerns. I suggest that you read my post again carefully and reflect.

    I obviously did not say that one should not permitted the peer-reviewed literature, in fact what you say is the opposite of my point. I very clearly spelled out why on must in fact DO that (i.e., consult the body of knowledge, understanding and science).

    People reading your comments on this thread would think that there are very few people working on land surface processes, and land-atmosphere feedbacks, and that you are one of those few. That is most certainly not the case. Or do you disagree with that fact?
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    Moderator Response: Comment edited as requested.
  12. Albatross

    You write

    "Your proposed method of dealing with AGW sounds like it involved a lot of delay and even more research money over and above what is already being spent."

    This is completely contrary to my view. We are wasting vast amount of money on multi-decadal global climate predictions.

    I much prefer those funds be spent for technology development for more efficient energy sources including non-fossil fuel sources, and adaptation.

    We already know CO2 is a first order climate forcing. Everything else being done to provide more detailed forecasts on decadal time scales is a waste as we keep learning more of the complexity of the climate system and the challenges of skillful forecasts. What do we know today from these models that we did not know in 1992?

    On #103, I already answered John Hartz question in two comments.
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  13. Albatross - On #102

    You write

    Thank you. I think I know how we can come to terms on your position about land use and land cover change. I'm going to make a suggestion to you comment:

    "Land use-land cover change is a first order forcing for regional climate as it can alter regional climate more than that caused by the radiative forcing of added CO2; in contrast, the role Land use-land cover change in driving global climate change is still uncertain and as shown by Forster et al., is unlikely to be significant relative to forcing from GHGs and aerosols."

    On that I can agree. And I'm not sure how you can continue to argue that something which has (near) zero net global radiative forcing can be considered a first-order radiative forcing."

    If you conclude that in order to be a "first-order" climate forcing it must significantly alter the global annual average radiative forcing, than this conflicts with the NRC (2005) report.
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  14. Dr. Pielke,

    My apologies if I misrepresented your position-- that was my honest take. Your (non) apology for misrepresenting me is accepted ;)

    So you are suggesting that we do not bother with improving forecasts (despite users, policy makers, governments and stake holders demanding them of scientists) because of the complexities of the climate system are just too great? But let us differentiate carefully between choosing our battles with models and their development and tossing them out with the bath water as some suggest (Lindzen in particular has no time for models, and Specner has little interest in those models with higher climate sensitivity).

    "What do we know today from these models that we did not know in 1992?"

    I sincerely hope that this question made in jest. Can you clarify, in your testimony you said "There is no way to test hypotheses with the multi-decadal global climate model forecasts for decades from now as step 2, as a verification of the skill of these forecasts, is not possible until the decades pass."

    Yet here you are arguing that the models cannot predict decadal climate but at the same time you are telling others that there is no way of testing whether or not they can do so. But your hang up seem to be the time frame, well yes, that is an issue, but we do not need to wait further before taking meaningful action on GHGs. It would be foolhardy to argue that we need complete understanding (and high confidence and low uncertainty) in order to move forward. Uncertainty cuts both ways, just just towards lucky breaks and low climate sensitivity. And again, other lines of evidence such as the paleo record a indicate that it would be wise to be prudent and taking this matter very seriously.

    The science and models are advancing, for example the climate sensitivity NASA's GISS model has reduced slightly over the years as they have implemented changes. Advances have been made in computer power (which is getting cheaper) that has allowed finer grid spacing to be used, both in the vertical and horizontal, and also allowed the implementation of fully coupled AOGCMS and more sophisticated land-surface schemes, including dynamic vegetation schemes. Surely you can recognize that an immense amount of change has taken place in the modeling world since Manabe et al.'s (1991,1992) seminal work. Do you wish for that to cease? Or is is just the decadal projections that you are opposed to?
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Please try to wrap up your dialogue with Dr. Pielke on climate models. We need to move on to other items of discussion such as the appropriate metrics for measuring climate change.
  15. Dr. Pielke @113,

    "If you conclude that in order to be a "first-order" climate forcing it must significantly alter the global annual average radiative forcing, than this conflicts with the NRC (2005) report."

    OK, let me clarify. Maybe I missed it, but I did not see the report refer to land-use change as a primary or first-order of global climate.

    They do say that:
    "The strengths of the traditional radiative forcing concept warrant its continued use in scientific investigations, climate change assessments, and policy applications. At the same time, its limitations call for using additional metrics that account more fully for the nonradiative effects of forcing, the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of forcing, and nonlinearities."

    They also say that:

    "Regional variations in radiative forcing are likely important for understanding regional and global climate responses; however, the relationship between the two is not well understood. Regional climate responses can also be caused by global forcings, making it difficult to disentangle the effects of regional and global forcings."

    And they include this figure from TAR:


    The NRC report says:

    "The largest positive forcing (warming) in Figure ES-2 is from the increase of well-mixed greenhouse gases (CO2, nitrous oxide [N2O], methane [CH4], and chlorofluorocarbons [CFCs]) and amounted to 2.4 W m−2 (watts per square meter) between the years 1750 and 2000. Of the forcings shown in the figure, the radiative impact of aerosols is the greatest uncertainty."

    Land albedo does not rank very high and Myhre and Myhre (2003) found that the albedo affect is probably <+/- 0.5 W m-2.

    They do not that:
    "The concept is inadequate for some forcing agents, such as absorbing aerosols and land-use changes, that may have regional climate impacts much greater than would be predicted from TOA radiative forcing."

    Note they say inadequate, not inappropriate or unacceptable.

    They recommend:
    "The net radiative forcing of the atmosphere can be deduced from the difference between TOA and surface radiative forcing and may be able to provide information on expected changes in precipitation and vertical mixing. "

    They note:
    "Regional variations in radiative forcing may have important regional and global climatic implications that are not resolved by the concept of global mean radiative forcing."

    Note they say "may".

    That was 2005. If you object to spending money on decadel projections, fair enough you are entitled to your opinion, but then how do you reconcile that with urging governments to spend money investigating hypotheticals? You seem to be using this hypothesis to confuse policy makers in the USA into not mandating that prompt and meaningful action be taken on AGW. That may not be your intention, but that is certainly how they will perceive it if they are reluctant to move forward, you may be unwittingly (or not) providing them a convenient a sophisticated sounding excuse. It does not have to be an either or, we can address both, while also taking prompt action on reducing GHGs.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Excellent post!
  16. Sorry John Hartz, I was composing my most recent post and only saw your note after I posted. OK, moving on :) Besides, I have to take care of some stuff.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Thank you. I know from expereince that "model-heads" can get into passionate and lengthy discussions about the subject.
  17. Albatross - I keep answering your questions. Also, with this kind of discourteous response

    "Please so not play word games with me, and please do not misrepresent and distort what I said, as well as ignore the reasons provided for my concerns. I suggest that you read my post again carefully and reflect.'

    I am finished responding to you.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] A casual observer might conclude that you are purposely ducking the issues posed by Albatorss in a very straightforward, non-confrontational manner in #115.
  18. Dr. Pielke,

    Please let me remind you that it was you who chose to misrepresent my position and my statement on citations in your post @105, and at the same time belittle it. Now you are trying to take offense to the fact that I was annoyed/offended by you misrepresenting me and are trying to accuse me of being discourteous?

    Let me also not that earlier when I mistakenly misrepresented your position on an issue and I immediately apologized.

    And lastly, I am not the one who has had offensive statements snipped from their post on this thread, that was you.

    I am afraid that your reasoning for ceasing what had been an energetic exchange of ideas and science makes no sense. I'm sorry that you feel that way and feel that your indignance is not warranted.

    Feel free to ignore me, but I am still free to post comments and critique on your posts here.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] This is not how I envisioned tying off the discussion on climate models.
  19. John @118,

    Me neither John. That post @ 117 by Dr. Pielke came out of left field.
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Perhaps he's had a long day and is just tired.
  20. John Hartz -

    "Perhaps he's had a long day and is just tired"

    "Please let me remind you that it was you who chose to misrepresent my position and my statement on citations in your post @105, and at the same time belittle it. Now you are trying to take offense to the fact that I was annoyed/offended by you misrepresenting me and are trying to accuse me of being discourteous?"


    This type of exchange occurs too much on your weblog. These types of non-constructive comments are a major reason I stopped accepting comments on my weblog.

    Therefore, I appreciate you giving me an opportunity to express my views. Readers on your weblog who have not commented can make up their own minds on the exchange of views that have already occurred. However, I require a courteous exchange of viewpoints, even when there is disagreement, and, unfortunately, except for several excellent open-minded and cordial comments by your readers, a large fraction of the comments are not of that type. Much of my effort is going in circles and repeating myself.

    Thus, this is my last comment on your weblog.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Que sera, sera.
  21. "These types of non-constructive comments are a major reason I stopped accepting comments on my weblog."

    A willingness to apologize when one has misrepresented another's position is one of the most fundamental attributes of an honorable person.


    " Readers on your weblog who have not commented can make up their own minds on the exchange of views that have already occurred."

    I, for one, would like to thank RPSr for having confirmed my previous impression of him from years of having occasionally read his blog.
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  22. Dr Pielke, you seem to take offence rather too easily when somebody disagrees with your position. If all you ever refer to are your own papers (largely true in these exchanges), you very easily fall into the trap of "one-sided skepticism" by not considering the full body of literature. Perhaps you're just looking for a reason not to answer the many questions you have so far ducked in the various exchanges. I would note you've done exactly what VeryTallGuy suggested in #75, among his pertinet points in that comment.

    I remain absolutely astounded that somebody so interested in regional climate change seems not to think that CO2 and other long-lived greenhouse gases are the strongest positive global radiative forcing element (#94). You also appear to think that the warming forced by greenhouse gases cannot have a significant effect on a regional scale through influencing and changing weather patterns. Much of this is no longer in the model realm, as these changes are now observed. How on earth do you mitigate sea ice reduction (albedo), ocean acidification, sea level rise, or globally-forced weather pattern changes on a regional scale?
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  23. Misrepresented is a false accusation. Dishonorable is an insult. Not worthy of this site.
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  24. "Perhaps he's had a long day and is just tired"

    I actually thought this a benign comment, providing him with a clear out. I often lose a little patience late in the day. Not everyone is made for this kind of give and take.

    Too bad...I was starting to get a real impression of what his position was, which I've never quite understood before. Didn't quite get there though.

    I also thank him for coming on.
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  25. When Person A asserts that Person B is misrepresenting Person A's argument or ignoring a question, and Person A provides evidence for that, Person B should either

    1. Concede/retract (apology or not)

    or

    2. Challenge Person A

    This is one way that debate moves forward and learning is accomplished. Sometimes it's an honest mistake or miscommunication on either/both persons involved. Taking a sincere interest in what someone else's argument helps, and there's no shame in conceding you might be wrong.

    By my observations, Dr. Pielke has chosen less constructive approaches here. However, I for one appreciate him taking the time to stray beyond the usual comfort zone blogs, many of which contain a level of uncivility far surpassing the worst seen here.
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  26. Albatross,
    I rarely comment anymore because I have noticed that you and several other commenters do a better job than I do. I did not previously understand how detailed your knowledge of the state of the literature was until I saw this discussion. It is too bad that Dr. Pielke decided to dodge so many of your points. I can certainly make up my mind about the points that were made.

    I am especially stunned that Dr. Pielke would present his paper with 18 coauthors as peer reviewed and then provide no evidence of peer review when you quoted the journal as saying the item was not peer reviewed. That alone speaks volumes. If the paper was peer reviewed, why is the evidence not promptly provided? Your point that Dr Pielkes' attempt to argue from authority is countered by the position paper of the Union itself was perfect!

    Thank you for your succinct discussion of the detailed points that only an exceptionally informed person could make. Dr Pielke would have fooled me on many points without your clear refutation of his claims.
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    Response:

    [DB] Albie is a big-leaguer and we at SkS are very fortunate to have him here as a Forum member and participant.

  27. #125, unfortunately getting into arguments about whether one is being misrepresented or not is almost always off topic and unproductive. It is far better to return to the original topic and repeat the question (clarify if possible) or repeat the answer and clarify that.
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  28. Eric (skeptic) - "Misrepresented is a false accusation. Dishonorable is an insult. Not worthy of this site."

    If (as has happened to me upon occasion) my statements are reworded to twist the meaning, that's definitely "misrepresentation". And I will continue to call folks on it when it occurs.

    I would, however, agree about the word "dishonorable". Discussions may be quite frustrating, and everyone will certainly form their opinions about the participants. While it is reasonable (if quite rude) to say that something 'seems like xxxx to me', it's quite unreasonable to assign such motives to another person.
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  29. Eric, discussion is impossible when one party misrepresents another. It is in effect a strawman. Misrepresentation must be clarified.
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  30. To all participants - Personal opinion here, all caveats accepted.

    I would like to thank Dr. Pielke for participating - I wish he would have continued. While I strongly disagree with his viewpoints on any number of topics, I find that a conversation is the only way to understand where differing opinions come from, and the only way in many cases to move forward is equipped with that knowledge.

    While the conversation here occasionally became more heated than productive, I would have to say that I have learned quite a bit from all participants.

    But please - can we get back to discussing the science, rather than rhetorical "position statements"? And I most definitely include Dr. Pielke in that sentence!
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  31. DSL and others,

    In my post @111 I do try and clarify the situation by reiterating a key point. Readers will note that that post has also been edited.

    With that said, it is very unfortunate that Dr. Pielke Sr. elected to bow out of the discussion here, and while he may not share my sentiment, I for one do appreciate him coming here. Yes, discussion was heated at times, but as anyone who has undergone peer-review or has been in academia, that is how these matters are for often discussed and debated.

    I want to acknowledge that for Dr. Pielke to post here must have been difficult him at times, not in terms of material of course, but because not many people share his beliefs and opinions. I am glad that Dr. Pielke agrees that reducing GHG levels is a primary concern. So it was not all bad and some common ground was achieved on key issues-- at least that is my impression (Dr. Pielke seems to disagree, see link to his blog post below).

    Where the conflict arises is how Dr, Pielke chooses to convey his position to policy makers, the public and the House of Representatives. Rather than making unequivocal and reasonable statements as he did here,

    "The emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, and its continued accumulation in the atmosphere is changing the climate. We do not need to agree on the magnitude of its global average radiative forcing to see a need to limit this accumulation. The biogeochemical effect of added CO2 by itself is a concern as we do not know its consequences. At the very least, ecosystem function will change resulting in biodiversity changes as different species react differently to higher CO2. The prudent path, therefore, is to limit how much we change our atmosphere."

    Dr. Pielke instead presented politicians in March 2011 with hypotheses that they have very little hope in grasping and which appear, to them at least, to focus on uncertainty and focus on issues secondary to GHGs. This is what he chose to say to them, the very people who are in a position to take prompt and meaningful action on AGW:

    "1. Research has shown that a focus on just carbon dioxide and a few other greenhouse gases as the dominant human influence on climate is too narrow, and misses other important human influences.

    2. The phrases “global warming” and “climate change” are not the same. Global warming is a subset of climate change.

    3. The prediction (or projection) of regional weather, including extremes, decades into the future is far more difficult than commonly assumed. As well, the attribution of extreme events to a particular subset of climate forcings is scientifically incomplete, if the research ignores other relevant human and natural causes of extreme weather events.

    4. The climate science assessments of the IPCC and CCSP, as well as the various statements issued by the AGU, AMS and NRC, are completed by a small subset of climate scientists who are often the same individuals in each case."


    Quite different from his statement made here, and hardly conducive to elucidating the pertinent issues for people who are not familiar with the science, or alerting them to the urgency at hand. Why would he do that?

    What troubles me very much, and what should perhaps concern other people following this, is that within hours of bowing out here, Dr. Pielke made this post on his blog.

    If people here make assertions or challenge the content of a blog post are (within the limits of the "Comments Policy") free to do so. Many diverse views and opinions are voiced daily here at SkepticalScience. Some regular skeptics who post here have been discussing the same issue for months now.

    In contrast, no-one except Dr. Pielke has that freedom or privilege at Dr. Pielke's blog. Him airing that post is not acting in good faith in my opinion, rather it is very much trying to spin the situation in his favour by making unsubstantiated and demonstrably false allegations that cannot be challenged on his site. Consequently, his opinion and understanding of the situation become fact to his audience.
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  32. Now with that all said, our moderator asked politely that "We need to move on to other items of discussion such as the appropriate metrics for measuring climate change."

    So let us get back to discussing the science. Do we elect to focus on one metric (like OHC) or do we consider the body of evidence?
    0 0
    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Unless Dr. Pielke returns to continue the discourse, this comment thread has pretty much run its course.
  33. Before I forget again,

    Michael @126. A very sincere thank you.
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  34. We have another blog post summarizing the agreements, disagreements, and open questions in the works, although Dr. Pielke's decision to pull out of the discussion throws a small wrench into the works. I'm rather disappointed in the decision, and moreso in the way he did it, but do appreciate that he took the time to discuss some science with us and clarify is positions on some key issues. More on this in the forthcoming blog post.

    As for global warming and climate change metrics, I think it's clear that no single diagnostic can be sufficient on its own. Ocean heat content (Dr. Pielke's chosen metric) is an important one, but does not tell the whole story, especially given our limitations in OHC data. More on this in the forthcoming blog post as well.
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  35. Yes, I appreciate Dr. Pielke's responses, and I'm glad he gave a few position statements. The wrestling over the science had the feel of a speed round; everyone was trying to get in their questions as quickly as possible. I suspect that if Dr. Pielke had hung around a while (or will hang around a while), he'll find that he and others don't need to risk the boiling point. A good cooking temperature can be achieved by focusing on one component at a time. I think that's where things were headed. Only dialogue without the threat of categorical dismissal will achieve anything.
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  36. Albatross, it was as ever instructive to learn from your posts. I've just read Dr pielke's post on his site. I take it he has never tried to voice a contrary opinion at Watts' blog? It beggars belief that he believes he's been poorly treated here.
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  37. A bit off topic, but a few of us SkSers had some interaction on the comments at the Bishop Hill "skeptic" blog the past couple of days. Every single comment on that site was more offensive than every single comment on SkS. Basically nonstop insults and personal attacks.

    Really, climate blog comments don't get much more civil than at SkS. If Dr. Pielke can't handle comments here, it's certainly a good thing he doesn't allow comments on his own blog.
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  38. Because the discourse we had embarked on has been short-circuted by Dr. Pielke's abrupt departure, I move that Dr. Pielke's response to the questions that Dana posed to him be post as a new SkS article.

    We can then proceed to analyze those answers on fresh comment thread.

    Right now, Dr. Pielke's responses are buried from plain sight in ths comment thread. He has posted the answers on his blog, but no comments are allowed.
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  39. As the principle Moderator of this thread, I thank the commentors for being civil and for staying on topic -- after some prodding.
    0 0
  40. John @139,

    You have a point, but I would still encourage people to openly discuss the science (i.e., the metrics that one should consider when monitoring climate change), with or without Dr. Pielke's input.
    0 0
  41. dana1981@137

    I just read through most the comments there and found the experience discouraging. All insults and conspiracy, no actual content.
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  42. precisely, pbjamm

    Back on topic, I think I'm most disappointed that we never got an answer regarding the discontinuity between low climate sensitivity arguments and the paleoclimate record. I've never seen any low sensitivity proponent answer this question, and unfortunately it seems Dr. Pielke was unable to answer it as well.

    Though it's not surprising, because frankly I think the only plausible answer is that the low climate sensitivity crowd is wrong.
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  43. John Hartz @139 - With the understanding that everyone critiques the moderator - I would suggest to you that less is more. Specifically, I suggest you refrain from value judgments (Great post; perhaps he was tired.; que sera, sera..). Also, I suspect the thread would still be strong with about 50% fewer moderator comments (specifics are provided in the hopes of being helpful)

    I just read the entire post (original + all comments) and that was what struck me the most (at the meta level).

    Thank you for the work and being willing to take the flack from the peanut gallery.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Thsnks for the feedback. Your points are well taken. BTW, this was my maiden voyage as Moderator. (All of the vetran moderators were busy in the boiler-room trying to decipher some of Dr. Pielke's more obtuse posts.) I will state for the record that I had to bite my tongue many times as the discourse unfolded.
  44. Completely agreed Dana - Pielke's conscious attempt to label discussions of climate sensitivity as irrelevant is a deliberate attempt to divert attention away from these uncomfortable truths. If climate sensitivity is high, how can a skeptic downplay the role of CO2, especially with reference to Alley's lecture or to Knutti and Hegerl. As I've seen low climate sensitivity described as the last refuge for respectable 'skeptics', it says little for the science of climate skeptics. And of course it's rather hard to imagine how one would devise policy for local and regional adaptation (as Pielke seemed to be interested in) if you have no idea how much warming is happening...
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  45. Dr Pielke proved one thing beyond doubt: he has a very thin skin. I wish him to never go voice a contrary opinion on WUWT, he might be badly traumatized. I have personally endured much worse than what he complained about.
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  46. Prof. Pielke wrote: "It would be much more effective if you would directly contact David Douglass and ask your question about his analysis."

    I did so shortly after the first seeing paper, pointing out the error, and recieved no reply. Likewise I emailed Prof. Salby (twice) to discuss the potential problem with his forthcoming paper, without meaningful response. Sometimes you contact an author to discuss a problem with their paper and they are happy to discuss it with you, sometimes they are not.

    Now the Douglass et al. paper is cited, without mention of the flaws, in a paper of which you are a co-author and which you have said is representative of your view on tropical trophospheric trends. It is therefore not unreasonable for me to ask you for your view of that paper. The new paper Christy et al (2010), of which you are a co-author appears to make a similar mistake, so it is directly relevant to your work.

    Surely as a co-author you have read and understood a paper that is cited in one of yours? In which case, I don't understand your reticence in commenting on it.
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  47. On his weblog, Dr Pielke wrote: "While there have a few constructive interactions, many of the comments are not only not constructive, but demeaning. I also spend considerable time repeating myself in answering their questions. I am disappointed as I was hoping that Skeptical Science was a weblog where a diversity of views can be discussed constructively. However, the moderators on that weblog failed to adequately police the comments."

    Dr. Pielke, your full comment from post 105 above is "So one is not permitted to refer to their peer reviewed papers to answer a question that the person would have known if they had read it. Very unusual. :-)" I assume from the smiley at the end that you made the comment partly in jest. Can you see that the comment implies that someone has not read your papers? The alternative, which seems a lot more likely to me, is that they read your papers, but disagree. After you made that comment one of the responses was, unfortunately, partly inflammatory and the commenter later asked to have that part snipped. Your response was to take that comment personally and the thread deteriorated from there.

    IMO the moderator could have done a better job, but that is obviously easy for me to say. Since you do not allow comments on many threads on your site, it appears that you may also believe that moderation is a lot of work. Those that volunteer for that job will undoubtedly have their own strong opinions on these topics, otherwise they wouldn't commit large amounts of their time to it.

    On the whole, IMO your comment from your weblog is incorrect. There were many constructive interactions. Points of disagreement needed to be spelled out better, not just referred to by a paper or a rebuttal to that paper. Having to repeat yourself also adds the burden of having to explain in more detail. I don't see how it is possible to come to any agreement to disagree without repetition that leads to more and more specificity. It is not only necessary but worth putting in the effort.
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    Moderator Response: [John Hartz] Yup, I could have done a better job. I made some rookie mistakes and will do better next time -- assuming that I'm not sent back to minors for more seasoning.
  48. [inflamatory/ad-hominem snipped]

    Has Pielke Sr. written a review paper on regional land use change and its effects on climate? I haven't looked... but it is only there that I would expect editorial tradition to require a comprehensive view of his and other people's contributions.

    On a up note, several of the statements that Dr. Pielke made here would surely not be greeted with enthusiasm at sites like WUWT, being too ready to act on reducing CO2, and someone with a puckish sense of humour might have a good time poking the denier sites with those quotes.
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    Moderator Response: [Dikran Marsupial] Please limit the discussion to Prof. Pielkes arguments and avoid criticism of the person.
  49. This has been an interesting exercise and I have a couple of comments.

    As a working scientist I have lots of interactions with other scientists - we discuss things informally, at meetings, by phone/Skype/email and so on. One of the things that characterises these discussions is that people say what they mean, answer questions in the spirt these were asked (i.e. genuine attempts to seek and convey information) and so on. Attempts at beating around the bush, obfuscation, redirecting the question with inappropriate response are extremely obvious and create a very poor impression. If anyone reading the comments here think that what they've read accords with common scientific discourse they are quite wrong.

    On the other hand this is a blog comment board! Dr. Pielke is in a difficult situation here, and this leads to a possible way of addressing these sorts of discussions should they arise in future. Dr. Pielke was inundated with comments, and it's not fair that he should be expected to address everyone's comments. A possibility for doing this in future would be for the "visitor" to interact with only one or two posters, and some scheme set up (a "dummy thread" say or simply using email) whereby comments to any another Dr. Pielke that takes the opportunity to present his/her point of view are channeled through one or two members of this site.

    This would have the advantage in making for a much more coherent interaction, with far fewer posts for the visitor to address, and rather more time to think in between posting. In my experience the latter is hugely important in posting properly sensible comments blog boards.
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  50. Chris I don't think anyone would expect Prof. Pielke to respond to everybodys questions. However one would expect that where he did respond he would actually attempt to answer the question. See the responses (here and here) he made to the direct question I posed (here), and you will see that it would have taken him far less time to simply answer the question (a simply "yes" or "no" would be a good start) than to avoid giving a direct answer in the way that he did. This suggests that the large bandwidth of the discussion was not a key factor preventing the exchange of scientific information.
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