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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #45B

Posted on 6 November 2014 by John Hartz

Britain had one of warmest and wettest years on record

The UK is on course to experience the warmest and one of the wettest years since records began more than a century ago, feeding fears that future droughts and flash floods could cost lives.

Figures from the Met Office show January to October has been the warmest since records began in 1910, and also the second-wettest. Unless November and December are extremely cold, 2014 will be the hottest year on record.

Experts say this the result of climate change, which they warn could place a burden on the NHS as Britons struggling to cope with future heatwaves end up in hospital. 

Britain had one of warmest and wettest years on record by Press Association/The Guardian, Nov 4, 2014

Global warming could make your pollen allergies a lot worse

It's notoriously difficult to make people care about climate change. It's a big, slow moving, long term problem that can rarely compete with everyday concerns — and it certainly doesn't help matters that most people have a difficult time distinguishing between climate change and their everyday weather.

But according to a new study, global warming is something that a large minority of us should care about a great deal indeed — because a large minority of us have allergies. In particular, 20 percent of people are allergic to pollen from various types of grasses. And the new paper, just out in PLOS One, suggests for the first time that in a warmer world with higher atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, those particular kinds of allergies could get a heck of a lot worse.

Global warming could make your pollen allergies a lot worse by Chris Mooney, Wonkblog, Washington Post, Nov 5, 2014

How does the IPCC know climate change is happening?

Climate change is one of the few scientific theories that makes us examine the whole basis of modern society. It is a challenge that has politicians arguing, sets nations against each other, queries individual lifestyle choices, and ultimately asks questions about humanity’s relationship with the rest of the planet.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its synthesis report on November 2, a document that brings together the findings from the IPCC’s three main working groups. It reiterates that the evidence for climate change is unequivocal, with evidence for a significant rise in global temperatures and sea level over the last hundred years. It also stresses that we control the future and the magnitude of shifting weather patterns and more extreme climate events depends on how much greenhouse gas we emit.

This is not the end of the world as envisaged by many environmentalists in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it will mean substantial, even catastrophic challenges for billions of people.

How does the IPCC know climate change is happening? by Mark Maslin, The Conversation AU, Nov 4, 2014

Meet the Senate's new Climate Denial Caucus

Well, folks, it wasn't such a great night on the climate action front. It looks like the millions of dollars that environmental philanthropist Tom Steyer invested in the midterms didn't buy much other than a fledgling political infrastructure to sock away for 2016. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, we're likely to see a bill to push through the Keystone XL pipeline coming down the pike soon. And Mitch McConnell, probably the coal industry's biggest booster, retained his seat.

In fact, McConnell and his climate-denying colleague James Inhofe of Oklahoma—the likely chair of the Senate's Environment and Public Works committee—won a lot of new friends on Capitol Hill last night. It probably won't surprise you to learn that most of the Senate's newly elected Republicans are big boosters of fossil fuels and don't agree with the mainstream scientific consensus on global warming. Here's an overview of their statements on climate change, ranging from a few who seem to at least partly accept to science to those who flat-out reject it.

Meet the Senate's New Climate Denial Caucus by Tim McDonnell, Blue MArble, Mother Jones, Nov 5, 2014

Midterm elections, the Senate, and Republican science denial

Today is the midterm election for the United States, where many seats in the House and Senate will be determined. It seems pretty obvious that the House will remain in control of the Republicans. It seems likely the GOP will get a slight majority in the Senate today as well.

What does this mean? Well, in the short term and for many issues, not a lot. This previous Congress will go down in history as the least effective ever, since all it really did is block White House initiatives. They couldn’t even approve a surgeon general nomination! A GOP majority in the Senate will probably mean more of the same, since they’ll lack the supermajority needed to prevent Democratic filibustering of big items.

But this vast, gaping polarization of American politics is toxic, especially where it comes to the crucial issue of global warming. Here, a Senate GOP majority can have an extremely destructive effect. It will put a cohort of science-deniers into positions of authority over the very science they want to trample. This is extremely worrisome to me, and it should be to you as well.

Midterm Elections, the Senate, and Republican Science Denial by Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy, Slate, Nov 4, 2014

Millions of Asians exposed to big climate disasters

Millions of people in Asia, the world's most disaster-prone region, face the threat of major climate-linked disasters and food crises because government policies fail to protect them, Oxfam warned on Thursday.

A year after Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in the Philippines, the aid and development charity warned that governments needed to do more to prevent people losing their lives and homes to extreme weather.

Asia, with 4.3 billion people or 60 percent of the global population, has borne almost half the estimated economic cost of all disasters over the past 20 years, amounting to around $53 billion annually, Oxfam said.

"Without greater investment in climate and disaster-resilient development and more effective assistance for those at risk, super-typhoon Haiyan-scale disasters could fast become the norm, not the exception," Oxfam said in a report.

Millions of Asians exposed to big climate disasters - Oxfam by Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nov 6, 2014

No quick fix for overpopulation — let’s focus on climate

The rise in population since 1900 has been so rapid that up to 14% of all humans that have ever lived are still alive today, according to recent research.

Other research shows that slowing population growth could provide between 16% and 29% of emissions reductions necessary by 2050 to avoid the effects of dangerous climate change, concluding “reduced population growth could make a significant contribution to global emissions reductions”.

In a previous article, we argued that a decision to have children or not could be a vital part of climate policy, perhaps through a market-based mechanism similar to emissions trading.

But a new paper casts doubt on our ability to make any meaningful dent in population growth.

Corey Bradshaw  and Barry Brook at the University of Adelaide argue in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the even a global one-child policy, or the catastrophic death of billions of people, would not slow population growth enough to reduce carbon emissions and resource use.

So, is it time to put market-based population control to bed?

No quick fix for overpopulation — let’s focus on climate by David Hodgkinson, The Conversation AU, Nov 7, 2014


Our kids need to learn about climate chang

The conclusions published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this week provide a wake-up call about the importance of teaching kids about sustainability. The IPCC’s dire warnings are based on new evidence just releasedon the impact of climate change.

The report warns that greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. It concludes that recent increases are mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels. It recommends ending reliance on fossil fuels and instead fast-tracking development of renewable and alternative forms of energy such as solar and wind power.

The IPCC says time is running out to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius. Current trends in carbon emissions herald disaster.

Our kids need to learn about climate change by Libby Tudball, The Conversation AU, Nov 7, 2014 

‘Remarkable opportunity' for global economy in upcoming climate talks

An estimated $90 trillion will be invested in infrastructure over the next 15 years: the crucial question is whether this will go into the old brown economy of the past or a new, resource-efficient, low-carbon economy of the future.

Even if climate change were a chimera, there are multiple challenges that require a sustainable development path.

These range from addressing declining natural resources, losses of biodiversity, eradicating poverty and generating decent jobs to improving public health and arresting pollution to our air, land and seas.

The fact that climate change is real, with the risk assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change painting ever more sobering pictures of the costs of inaction, adds further urgency to how we invest now and into the future.

‘Remarkable Opportunity' for Global Economy in Upcoming Climate Talks by Christiana Figueres, Bloomberg, Nov 4, 2014

Science in a Republican Senate: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Republican Party is widely predicted to win control of the Senate as a result of today’s midterm elections. In broadstrokes, that outcome portends a green light for the Keystone XL Pipeline, a blow to the Affordable Care Act and a push for corporate tax reform.

But what would a GOP-controlled Senate mean for scientists and their research?

When it comes to science (and, more importantly, funding) individual senators are perhaps less important than the committees that they run. There are 20 committees in the U.S. Senate, with responsibilities ranging from homeland security to urban development. The chairperson of each committee, appointed by the majority party, holds inordinate sway over how his or her committee votes.

If Republicans take control of the Senate, we can expect a major shakeup within the ranks of these powerful committees. But, despite the conventional wisdom, conservatives aren’t always bad for science. Here are three of the senate committees that hold the most sway over science and scientific research—and what might happen to them if Republicans win the day.

Science in a Republican Senate: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Op-ed by Joshua A. Krisch, Nov 4, 2014

Seven myths about disasters

A year ago today, Typhoon Haiyan began its course to devastate the central Philippines. Since then, there has been a seemingly never-ending flow of stories about disasters from around the world and weird weather on our doorsteps. Do we really have a good grip on the true scale of disaster threats?

New research from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and its partners assesses the issues of global disaster threats with some surprising results. Here we debunk some common disaster myths. 

Seven myths about disasters, Op-ed by Tom Mitchell, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nov 3, 2014

The worst climate pollution is carbon dioxide

Soot from car exhaust and cookstoves, sulfates from coal-fired power plants, methane leaked during oil and gas production, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from air conditioning are all greenhouse gases that trap heat within the Earth's atmosphere for a short while before decaying into less virulent chemicals.

Cutting emissions of such "short-lived climate pollutants," or SLCPs, will not have much impact on long-term climate change, finds a new study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.

The study reaffirms strongly that, as far as climate change goes, the gas that truly matters is carbon dioxide. Unlike its shorter-lived cousins, CO2 sticks around in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, wreaking climate havoc. 

The Worst Climate Pollution Is Carbon Dioxide by Gayathri Vaidyanathan, Climate Wire/Scientific American, Nov 4, 2014

There should be no more international reports on climate science

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Scientists are in the news, warning about the dangers of escalating fossil fuel emissions:

  • “Emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing.”
  • “These increases will enhance the greenhouse effect, resulting on average in an additional warming of the Earth’s surface.”
  • “Continued emissions of these gases at present rates would commit us to increased concentrations for centuries ahead.”
  • “The longer emissions continue to increase at present day rates, the greater reductions would have to be for concentrations to stabilise at a given level.”
  • “The long-lived gases [like carbon dioxide] would require immediate reductions in emissions from human activities of over 60% to stabilise their concentrations at today’s levels.”

Only thing is, the above statements were written in 1990.

There Should Be No More International Reports on Climate Science by Eric Holthaus, Slate, Nov 3, 2014

UN to investigate claims that UK spies infiltrated climate talks

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, says he will launch an investigation into reports that Britain spied on other governments at two successive global climate summits, snooping on other delegations’ kit, passes and membership lists.

A government document released by Edward Snowden showed that an officer from GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping agency, had been embedded in the official British delegation to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 and at Cancun in Mexico.

Speaking to Danish television, Ban said the matter was a UN issue because Copenhagen was a UN conference. “All diplomatic information is inviolable. If there has been any breach … they should be investigated. UN information should be protected in its entire confidentiality,” he said.

UN to investigate claims that UK spies infiltrated climate talks by John Vidal, The Guardian, Nov 3, 2014

Why two crucial pages were left out of the latest U.N. climate report

On Sunday, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's leading authority on the science of global warming, released its latest "Synthesis Report." And it painted a pretty dire picture.

Significant global warming, the report said, is already "irreversible" — and if policymakers don't act, a dangerous 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming threshold will be breached.

That's a strong message — but it might have been even stronger. You see, one of the report's more powerful sections wound up being left out during last minute negotiations over the text in Copenhagen. And it was a section that, among other matters, tried to specify other measures that would indicate whether we are entering a danger zone of profound climate impact, and just how dramatic emissions cuts will have to be in order to avoid crossing that threshold.

This outcome — and the divergent national views underlying it — is a prelude to the political tensions we can expect at next month's mega climate change meeting in Lima, Peru, and then especially in Paris at the end of 2015, when governments will gather to try to negotiate a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Why two crucial pages were left out of the latest U.N. climate report by Chris Mooney, Wonkblog, The Washington Post, Nov 4, 2014

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 53:

  1. The opening article "Britain had one of warmest and wettest years on record" highlights a pet peeve of mine.

    The article repeatedly refers to data so far from January to October which is only 10 months, so not 'a year' as the headline states. However, there really is no need to say things like 'so far this year'. Any set of 12 months is a 'full year'. A presentation of the results from November 2013 to October 2014 is also the results of a 'Year'. And any set of 120 consecutive months is a decade.

    Using the NASA/GISS data set the current 12 month average ending in September is 0.64 C. That is warmer than the warmest 12 month value that ocurred during the unusually strong ENSO event of 1997/98 (which was 0.61 C), and the current conditions have been ENSO neutral. Also, the current average for 120 months ending in October 2014 is 0.58 C which is significantly warmer than the average of 120 months ending on Dec 1998 which was only 0.30 C.

    It is not necessary to wait for the end of this year, or the end of the current decade, to point out that significant annual or decade scale changes are continuing to occur. In fact, when reviewing averages of 30 years of data there has been no significant reduction of the rate of warming. The average of 360 months ending in October 2014 is 0.16 C warmer than the average of 360 months ending in October 2004.

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  2. If you haven't yet, do read the last story about two crucial pages left out of the IPCC report--basically, they were just too scary.

    They mention things like "" and the immediate need for "rapid and deep emissions cuts."

    But we can't have anything approaching the full scary truth leaking out of what's supposed to be a sleepy, conservative, consensus, safe, bureaucratic report, now; can we?

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  3. wili,

    The following is a more significant point from the article.

    "The Copenhagen Accord, adopted at the 2009 Copenhagen conference of parties to the UNFCCC, explicitly sets 2 degrees Celsius as the threshold number beyond which we would cross over into a danger zone. But it also calls for an " be completed by 2015" that would "include consideration" of whether the number should actually be changed to 1.5 degrees. That debate, van Ypersele suggests, may have spilled over into the IPCC process."

    Setting the limit of concern back to 1.5 degrees, where it was before Copenhagen, would really highlight how damaging the lack of significant action to reduce impacts since 1993 by the most developed nations, particularly the nations with the highest per-capita impacts at the time has been.

    Even pointing out what is now required to meet the 2.0 C limit would allow the math to be done to show how much of the total impacts have already been produced by the most reluctant and irresponsible of the developed nations. And the criticism of those developed nations is worse if their actions to benefit from the burning of fossil fuels in other nations (selling fossil fuels to developing nations or buying products created in developing nations through he burning of fossil fuels), is included as 'their impacts'.

    Hence the reason the information could not be agreed to be presented. As mentioned in the article:

    "The way the IPCC works is that the scientific texts are written by scientists, but they also have to be approved by governments. Thus scientists can veto inaccuracies, but governments can also prevent the inclusion of certain content. Oppenheimer says the IPCC process is unique in this way, and thinks that the box could have been modified to suit all the parties involved if there had been more time for negotiations. But "in the end, the governments couldn’t reach an agreement," says Oppenheimer, "and time ran out, and the box fell by the wayside.""

    I was initially not impressed by the IPCC "Political Minder Process". It results in the reports understating the implications of the best understanding of what was going on. However, the forced understating by the political minders did result in each successive report becoming significantly more "certain and concerning". But, the weakened statements in the earlier reports were the excuse for the most damaging ways of living to not need to be rapidly curtailed until there is more proof of the need to do so.

    We are clearly approaching the apex of concern on this significant issue. However, I fear that the increased scale of action because of the continued lack of significant action will be seen as absolutely unacceptable to those who think they can still get away with benefiting a little longer from their irrefutably damaging and unsustainable ways of living. The worst among those type of people continue to succeed at their attempts to keep people less aware and maintaining popular support for the derision and dismissal of information like the IPCC Report content they were unable to keep from being published.

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  4. I've been living in the UK since February and the mood here is that this year's weather has been "like summers of old" and "really good" and "although the winter was wet rather that than cold".   Weather forecasters have continually presented warm conditions with plenty of sunshine and the population is generally happy.  As for rain although the August was the eigth wettest on record but September was the driest for 100 years.   Retailers have been worrying as sales of winter clothing has been well below average It all adds up to giving the denizens of the UK a year that is considered "not too bad at all" and "if this is global warming hope it stays this way".  Fron m general conversations I'm not sure that the UK population is as much in tune with the IPCC as the IPCC might like.

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  5. Good points, OPOF.
    Ashton, it's a sad thing if international policy on CC is based on what some pedestrians thought of the weather last Tuesday.

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  6. Two points Will.   First sorry if my anecdotal report was not what you would have liked to hear but what is, is.  Second, as you can see by the lack of response globally on reducing CO2 emissions, "what some pedestrians thought of the weather last Tuesday" matters very much to governments around the world.  This is  especially so as not being too concerned about climate change or IPCC predictions  is "what the majority of pedestrians thought" not only "last Tuesday" but every other day as well.  Just ask President Obama.

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  7. Ashton @4

    For your comment on "Summers of old" see this

    On your more general point on popular opinion:

    Many years ago the UK broadcaster Channel 4 produced a TV program on Capital Punishment. At this time popular opinion was in favour of re-introduction of the death penalty, but politicians were not. The program took a representative sample of people, matching for race, class, general political opinion, and, of course, their view on the death penality. The sample was then exposed to the arguments that the politicians were exposed to; from lawyer,s pressure groups and victims. The result was that the group switched their view to closely match that of the politicians. By becoming better informed, the peoples view better matched the "out of touch" politicians.

    This should be obvious, people generally don't like to be confronted by evidence that goes against their pre-determined beliefs; the UK population enjoyed the July sun, but conveniently ignored the January and February floods.

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  8. Phil, I was thinking of that cartoon, too. There's a lot of good related stuff here:

    Including this witticism:

    "97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies."

    —Scott Westerfeld

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  9. Ashton,

    I agree that the 'pedestrian' excuses for 'dismissing the action that the continuously improved understanding of what is going on requires' does matter.

    The ability of callous pursuers of personal benefit, people whose interests are threatened by a requirement to develop a sustainable better future for all, to succeed in maintaining popular disinterest in better understanding what is going on and suceeding in promoting made-up claims to be used as 'pedestrian' excuses is a serious problem.

    Humanity has repeatedly failed to keep callous uncaring people from suceeding in their damaging ultimately unsustainable pursuits. The potential popularity of a personal better present from damaging unsustainable activity has always been the barrier to humanity succeeding to develop a sustainable better future. That can change, but a sub-set of the population that is currently very powerful need to be forced to change their rather firmly made-up minds so that they stop trying to create appealing made-up excuses for 'pedestrians'.

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  10. will I think your statement "97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis"  should be "97% of the world's climate scientists contrive an environmenta crisisl".  It is not true that 97% of the world's scientists are proponents of AGW they are not, the claim is 97% of climate scientists are proponents of AGW which is not the same thing at all.  As for the death penaly analogy why is it that the percentage of people surveyed in, say,  the USA, that are proponents of AGW is steadily falling.  And abolition of the death penalty had no effect on the financial well being of the populace whereas implementing measures to reduce CO2 emissions certainly does.  The efforts in Australia to introduce a 'carbon tax" which was actually an ETS,  lead to the rapid demise of the government that tried to do so.  And if public opinion can be swayed so readily, why is there still  no replacement of the Kyoyo Protocol?

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  11. Ashton, it wasn't composed by me, but yes, it should say climate scientists. On the pedestrian thing, I was agreeing with you, but just finding it sad that this is the level of understanding that is influencing our futures.

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  12. From the Seven Myths article:

    "Myth 5: Climate change is now one of the biggest causes of disasters

    Fact: The biggest cause of disasters is vulnerable people and infrastructure in areas exposed to extreme events."

    My problem with this is that the latter is always going to be true in pretty much every circumstance. As NYC gets inundated by sea water, you could say, "Oh, that wasn't so much a GW thing; it's just that they didn't have their seawall infrastructure ready."

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  13. Ashton - The fact that people sometimes act in ways that are not in their best interest (smoking, pollution, continued climate change, etc.) does not mean such behavior is exemplary. Or that we shouldn't try to do better. 

    From your nitpicking in the comment above, would you have issues with a (revised) line such as:

    "97% of the world's (climate) scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies (& their lobbyists)."

    Because that conspiracy theory really seems to encapsulate much of the current 'skeptic' blog commentary...

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  14. Will thanks for the explanations.  

    KR absolutely none at all. No, I'd best qualify that in case you might misunderstand.  I don't think "97% of climate scientists contrive an environmental crisis"and I do know that it has been stated 97% of climate scientists agree with AGW.  I say "has been stated" as  I haven't read the relevant papers supporting that claim I am relying on reports in the media that they do.   My point is that a comment "that 97% of scientists say this or do that or think the other re climate change"  is welcomed by those who disagree with AGW because that statement isn't accurate.  Nit picking?  If you say so but that reply from will  would allow the real nit pickers into the action pointing out that a lot less than 97% of meteorologists and engineers and geologists do not agree with AGW

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  15. Ashton, I just performed a Google search with the term "US polling global warming", and most recent polling I found shows that a majority of Americans accept that global warming is the result of human activities and support action to mitigate it at various levels of government & society (even if they do not report being seriously worried by it at the personal level). Further, to the best of my knowledge, such support has increased over recent years after a period of decline.

    So I should like you to please provide a link to a poll that demonstrates your assertion otherwise in @10.

    If we are to take seriously the notion that "financial well-being" of the populace is a good reason to avoid or postpone action to mitigate global warming, the fair and accurate thing to do is to compare the financial burdens of mitigation to those of adaptation or suffering - and I would say that, in effect, misinformed, underinformed, or uninformed citizens are failing to do make the appropriate comparison.

    So Londoners, for example, have the choice between:

    1. Paying some extra tax money now (and for over, say, 1-3 decades) while they and the rest of the world's citizens get to work cutting emissions to near-nothing and working out how to suck excess CO2 from the atmosphere, and
    2. Paying even more extra tax money to continuously upgrade, maintain, and/or repair London's sea wall defences against rising seas for centuries to come (*), or in the absolute worst case abandon London to the ocean. (To say nothing of any other adaptation/suffering costs Londoners will have to pay for.)

    If you think otherwise, on what evidentiary basis do you conclude that adaptation/suffering will be easier and cheaper than mitigation?

    (*) Which they are likely committed to doing to some extent, anyway, now that the West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to collapse.

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  16. As for the death penaly analogy why is it that the percentage of people surveyed in, say, the USA, that are proponents of AGW is steadily falling.

    I don't know, perhaps there is more mis-information propagated there than before ?

    And abolition of the death penalty had no effect on the financial well being of the populace whereas implementing measures to reduce CO2 emissions certainly does.

    This wasn't the point, of course. And failing to implement measures to reduce CO2 emissions will also affect the financial well being of the populace.

    And if public opinion can be swayed so readily, why is there still no replacement of the Kyoyo Protocol?

    I didn't say public opinion could be readily swayed; The TV program I mentioned took a number of people and forced them to confront arguments that they would normally avoid. The participants agreed to stay in meetings and listen to views on both sides that challenged their existing predjudices. They spent a lot of time in careful argument and discussion. That sort of thing certainly doesn't happen down the pub on a Friday night with your mates, nor would you expect someone who thinks like a Daily Mail reader to read the Guardian or vice versa.

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  17. Ashton @14.

    If you want to play the pedant, you need more than a little nouse about you or you will get tripped up.

    Engineers are not scientists. Most meteorologists are weathermen who are not scientists. And geologists who mainly work for oil companies etc are also almost all not scientists. And the quote you object about up thread is from nobody here but from a writer of SciFi who presents it thus "Plot Idea - ....," which I think should give strong indication about its intended message.

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  18. MA Rodger @17, geologists, whether they work for oil companies or not, are scientists.

    The fact is that Ashton's pedantary is both correct and revealing.  Only about 82% of all scientists (Doran and Zimmerman 2009).  That rises to 97.4% if you restrict the categories to climatologists who actively publish on climatology.

    It is revealing, however, that Ashton and his fellow "skeptics" cling to the straw of just 18% disagreement with the IPCC, and that from scientists who are not expert in the topic underconsideration.  As if they would get a second opinion on a medical issue from geologists.

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  19. No Tom Curtis I don't cling to anything as I am able to rationaliise and dissect arguments from a variety of different sources.  What I don't do is twist the words of others as I am able,usually. to comprehend what they mean.  You, not for the first time have twisted my words to suit your ownends.  The point I was making was that will was incorrect in saying 97 % of scientists etc  rather than 97% of climate scientists.  That is fact as you with your 18% comment above have confirmed.  So please Tom Curtis if you must vilify those that think a little more deeply than you appear to be able to do, make sure you understand what they are saying.  Your comment re medical issues from geologists shows your complete inability to follow the point I was making to will.  And why fellow sceptics?  Are you irritated that anyone who doesn't slavishly follow your viewpoint must ipso facto be a sceptic.  Exaclty what Tom Curtis in my reply to Will indicated personal scepticism?  Moderator the ad hominem rules are very flexible for some and a lot less so for others.

    Phil no idea what a Daily Mail reader thinks like although you obviously do as the people I mix with read the Guardian not the Daily Mail.  Perhaps you should cultivate a few such acquaintances.


    Composer  read this  This is the opening paragraph

    "Nearly two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening. Relatively few – only 16 percent – believe it is not. However, since Fall 2012, the percentage of Americans who believe global warming is happening has dropped 7 points to 63%, likely influenced by the relatively cold winter of 2012-13 in the United States and an unusually cold March just before the survey was conducted. - See more at:

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] You are very close to relinquishing your privilege to post comments on this webiste.

  20. Ashton @19, I try to interpret you accurately, but when you write things such as, " If you say so but that reply from will would allow the real nit pickers into the action pointing out that a lot less than 97% of meteorologists and engineers and geologists do not agree with AGW", it is hard.

    For example, did you really mean the nit pickers are arguing from the fact that there is not a 97% consensus against AGW among meteorologists, engineers and geologists?  That, certainly, is what you literally indicated.

    In addition to having to compensate for you inability to follow the simple logic of negation, I also need to compensate when interpreting you for your known rhetorical strategies.  In particular, your basic rhetorical strategy is to point out that x% if the population is not convinced that AGW is real (or not convinced enough to take appropriate action), and give that as a reason to not in fact take action on AGW.  There beliefs are presented not as reasons to persuade them to the contrary, but as reasons to accept their conclusions because it is futile to do otherwise.

    Applying that rhetorical strategy to your comments about the nitpickers, we can only conclude that you not only think the nitpickers are correct on the irrelevant technical point, but that that by itself is sufficient to make their point stand.

    In other words, if you have a problem with how I interpret your words, I will stop interpreting your words as those of a troll when you stop trolling.

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  21. [JH] Moderator's Comment


    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right. This privilege can and will be rescinded if the posting individual continues to treat adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Moderating this site is a tiresome chore, particularly when commentators repeatedly submit offensive or off-topic posts. We really appreciate people's cooperation in abiding by the Comments Policy, which is largely responsible for the quality of this site.

    Finally, please understand that moderation policies are not open for discussion. If you find yourself incapable of abiding by these common set of rules that everyone else observes, then a change of venues is in the offing.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it. Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

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  22. Ashton, nobody is making an ad-hominem argument against you. There seems to be abundant confusion on this logical fallacy.

    An ad-hominem argument consists of saying taht someone is a bad person because of such and such (which may or may not be true and is irrelevant) and that, therefore, what they say is wrong. It is a logical fallacy because the validity of their argument has nothing to do with the personal trait used to try to invalidate it. This is not what is happening to you at all. Your arguments are being attacked for their intrinsic lack of validity, which can be objectively established. Your rethoric is also at issue. The fact that you then try to defend these arguments through transparent rethorical tricks and never acknowledge any lack of validity is the logical premise of your qualification as a troll. That is the opposite logical process of an ad-hominem argument: it is because of what you say that you are so qualified, and that is entirely defensible from a logical point of view. The lack of validity of your arguments still separately stands on their own lack of merit.

    You can prove Tom Curtis and others wrong by making a cogent argument; one that is clearly defined and well articulated through correct syntax, then supported by verifiable sources, data, etc...

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  23. This is what the British meteorological office is reported as saying about 2014

    "However, the Met Office cautioned against drawing too much from the figures - and stressed that the year is not finished yet.  A spokeswoman said: "If we have an incredibly cold November and December, then it could end up being a mediocre year. "The reason we have records for set periods, for example monthly and annually, is so they can be quantified against each other year on year, otherwise anyone could make up a theory and anyone could come to a conclusion.  "Things like climate change you look at over a long period of time because we look at trends. "So we can't say it is warmer than other years because of climate change. It could just be natural variation."  

    This comment can be accessed via

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  24. Ashton @23.

    The article you quote first appeared in the Daily Rail and your quote appeared verbatum as a denialist quote on the planet Wattsupia. The reason for the quote on that far-and-distant place was the original article's inappropriate conversion of a discussion about recent UK weather 

    "the period from January to October this year has been the warmest since records began in 1910 while it has also been the second wettest"

    into discussion of death and destruction from AGW

    "Experts say the increase is the result of climate change and warn that it could place a burden on the NHS as Britons struggling to cope with predicted heatwaves end up in hospital."

    a rather big jump in subject that was achieved remarkably swiftly within the Rail article. There was no intervening discussion, no scene stetting. There was no text between these two quoted section, just the start of a new paragraph.

    I think such bizarre journalistic writing can only be explained by it being intended as a dog-whistle for denialist Daily Rail reader and their ilk.

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  25. Ashton @19

    In the comments struck through by the moderator, you state of yourself

    What I don't do is twist the words of others as I am able,usually. to comprehend what they mean.

    You have, twice in this thread, misunderstood my comments and twisted them; once in @10 and once further down @19 also in the struck out comments. Whether this was intentional or accidental I cannot say, but I would humbly suggest a little more humility on your part.

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  26. I've never heard of the Daily Rail but that maybe becuse I haven't been in the UK for very long.  By Wattsupia do  you mean WUWT?  I didn't see the material I quoted there but I did read a couple of articles from the Guardian noting that due to the warmer wetter weather the crop yields were significantly more than average. 

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  27. Ashton @26.

    Would that be the "couple of articles from the Guardian" (the Farming story & the Environment story) that, along with your link @23 to Yahoo news, are all linked on that Wattsupia page that also had your exact quote @23?

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  28. I don't usually read what is on WUWT, just quickly scan through.  As you commented " Wattsupia page that also had your exact quote"  I did go back and read more carefully.  I think you'll find that quote was only partially given on WUWT which gave only the last two sentences of the quote I used @23.    I got the quote from the URL I gave @ 23 which I got from WUWT and which  contained quite a lot more material than that which I quoted.  

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  29. My apologies, I should have remebered to ask again what the Daily Rail is as I've never seen it and a, very,  quick Google search gave no information that semed appropriate.

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  30. @Ashton: Where truthful reporting about the climate (and quite a number of other topics) is concerned, Phil could have called it the Daily deRail or perhaps the Daily Maul. I imagine that it's because Phil, like me, prefers to avoid posting direct, searchable reference to sources like that newspaper and to sites like WattsUpIsCrap. For me, at least, it's a minor form of protest. Does that give you a sufficient clue? ;-)

    @SkS: This was posted at 14:21pm British time in response to a post timestamped at 23:56pm. Has the server's clock eaten something bad?

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  31. Ashton @28.  Au contraire. The exact quote is there on Wattsupia, complete with your leading quotation mark which is absent from the Yahoo original. It was posted on the Wattsupian page in question by some denizen commenter about 5 hours before you pasted it here. The URL @23 is, of course, a link so not the Wattsupia link but an indirect one, created by you perhaps?

    Ashton @29.  As Firgoose @30 sort-of explains, with The Daily Rail I was referring to Lord Rothermere's little rag, and, as I do, making play on its name and the fact that it gets so many of its readers regularly railing against this modern world we all live it.

    Firgoose @30. SkepticalScience time = Oz time. Apparently proper British time, railway time (hey, didn't we invent proper time, Greenwich meridian and all that? Or was it just the railways we invented?), it works so badly when you cross the channel or the Atlantic that it tends not to be used out there.  But just to prevent bruising British jingoism too much with this shocking home-truth, be aware that good old GMT has also been fitted up with the fancy name of Universal Time. And now the railways actually do cross the channel...

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  32. Specifically, SkS is Queensland time (EST), we've got our own timezone because we don't understand the merit of Daylight Savings (the list of things Queenslanders don't understand is long). :)

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  33. Lol. Thanks, guys. Now I'm wondering why I hadn't noticed before. Call myself observant? ;o)

    @MA Rodger: From the last time I Joe90'd the time sections of the Wiki, I seem to remember there being a difference betwen GMT and Universal (should be Queen's Universal Empire) Time that maybe I'd notice at the molecular level or something. More importantly, thanks for the further insight into the use of "rail". That's a meaning that I've not seen much but it's quite apt here. :-)

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  34. [JH] Moderator's Comment

    Ashton's two recent posts were argumentative and therefore were deleted. 

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  35. I will attempt to make the  deleted comments more anodyne in the hope I can communicate with MA Rodger.

    Fair enough.   I don't read the comments at WUWT as I find them uncritical and often banal.  Having read some to try and find the commenter to whom you refer I can't see any reason to change my opinion.  I had no idea the quote I used had been previously published, although is that really significant?  As you can see from some of my comments here I almost always use quotation marks at the start and finish of quotes from others.  With regard to TinyURL I often use these for conciseness,  

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  36. Ashton, as a matter of curiousity, how many articles at WUWT would we have to demonstrate as complete and utter nonsense and/or malicious distortions of the truth before you decided that that reading it was a bad idea? 10?, 100?, 1000? 

    Or would you continue to read it no matter what in the hope that one day there might be news there was both reliable and in conformity with what you hope to be true?

    Frankly there are better places to go if you want climate skeptic discussion which have more integrity.

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  37. scaddenp @36 You asdk "how many articles at WUWT would we have to demonstrate as complete and utter nonsense and/or malicious distortions of the truth before you decided that that reading it was a bad idea?"

    I really don't know. The post which is being debated, includes pieces from the Guardian stating that crop yield has increased in 2014. That doesn't seem to be complete and utter nonsense or malicious distortions of the truth but a matter of fact. In that piece Watts states that the summer of 2014 is the 15th warmest on record and again, that doesn't seem complete and utter nonsense or a malicious distortion of the truth. Agreed this is not the same as the warmest ever year but it is relevant. He also states "With three of the last four years being the coldest since 1996 in the UK, this year’s warm weather has been just that – weather. No month this year has been the warmest on record. It is simply that nine out of ten months this year have been above average" and "But with the Met Office projecting milder, wetter winters and sunny, dry summers, it seems clear that climate change will bring significant benefits to the UK." Once again that doesn't seem to be complete and utter nonsense or malicious distortions of the truth but a matter of fact. It would be unrealistic to trawl through WUWT looking for pieces that are complete and utter nonsense etc but like any good scientist and I am a scientist, a biochemist,  I read around a topic. I have no hopes that there will be "news there (sic) was both reliable and in conformity with what you hope to be true?"

    I don't "hope" that anything will be true, that would be very unscientific indeed. But I don't think the AGW proponents have proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.  My major hangup on anthropogenic warming is that this concept is based primarily on computer programming with all the inherent errors and biases that that can be subject to. And please don't give me chapter and verse on Arrhenius and pCO2 etc I am well aware of those. Let's look at the "29 bullets" piece in Sci Am which states

    "Since 1950 human activities have led to virtually all temperature rise.
Natural forces have caused virtually none of the temperature rise"

    But this is what SkS said about the strong El Nino in 1997-1998 "In 1998, an abnormally strong El Nino caused heat transfer from the Pacific Ocean to the atmosphere. Consequently, we experienced above average surface temperatures. Conversely, the last few years have seen moderate La Nina conditions which had a cooling effect on global temperatures"

    This suggests natural forces do have an impact on global temperature. Who is right?  Sci Am or SkS? This is what Tamino had to say on Open Mind "We can also see some some sizeable ups and downs, like the cooling for a few years around 1992 caused by the Mt. Pinatubo explosion, and the strong warming in 1998 caused by el Nino"

    So dp natural forces affect global temperatures or don't they?

    As for "better" blogs than WUWT, as well as WUWT I read SkS, Real Climate , JoNova, Climate Audit and till it disappeared Open Mind. Occasionally I look at Judith Curry and Bishop Hill. 

    Apologies for length I hope this post isn't deleted.  

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] This is the most recent in a long string of Gish Gallops that you have posted on SkS. Any future Gish Gallops posted by you will be summarily deleted. 

  38. Ashton... "But I don't think the AGW proponents have proved their case beyond reasonable doubt."

    Then how do you think that so many National Academies and scientific organization have come to that conclusion? (Wikipedia)

    "My major hangup on anthropogenic warming is that this concept is based primarily on computer programming..."

    I do not know how people ever come to the conclusion that this is only about computer programming, because that is certainly a wild fallacy.

    "But this is what SkS said about the strong El Nino in 1997-1998 'In 1998, an abnormally strong El Nino caused heat transfer from the Pacific Ocean to the atmosphere.'"

    Surely you can understand that the ENSO cycle is a function of short term variability and is not a forcing. The 1998 El Nino is merely the ocean and the atmosphere "balancing the books" so to say.

    The point being made is that, in the absence of man-made greenhouse gas emissions over the past century, the planet would likely have seen a mild cooling trend. Thus, the warming from the past 50 years is likely all due to human contribution.

    As for you list of websites, I can see why you're getting so much wrong. You're frequenting a list of sites (WUWT, CA, JC and BH) that specialize in misinforming people about the science.

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  39. Ashton, over the last forty years, what is the net effect of El Nino/La Nina on global mean surface temperature?  

    Who are you arguing with?  No one has claimed that natural variation doesn't have an effect on GMST.  IPCC AR5 has pages upon pages summarizing the research into natural variation.  You should Foster & Rahmstorf 2011.  Foster = tamino.  The link is to his discussion of his paper.  He's got a message for you in the first sentence.

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  40. Ashton, further to one of Rob's points:  Global warming from anthropogenic CO2 was projected long before computers were available, and long before it was even technologically possible to measure global temperature.  SkS has a summary, and for details see physicist and science historian Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming.

    The fanciness in the models merely fine tunes the simple and robust projections. Sufficiently scary projections can be made by hand calculating--as they were done before computers existed--and even many of the refinements can be done quickly with merely a spreadsheet to prevent hand cramps from penciling it all out. Just two examples are Tamino's "Not Computer Models" and its followup "Once is Not Enough". For more examples, borrow or buy the short textbook by David Archer, "Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast".

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  41. DSL @39  "He's got a message for you in the first sentence."

    Tamino has also got an equally short and pithy message in the closing sentence of the article to which you refer!

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  42.  Ashton,

    2014 was (perhaps?) the 15th warmest in England.  For the entire Globe (we call it Global Warming) it was the warmest summer ever.  See the August report of the Naitonal Climate Data Center.  They say:

    "The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for the June–August period was also record high for this period, at 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), beating the previous record set in 1998." (August was also the hottest ever recorded)

    Since you did not qualify your claim it appeared you were claiming the Globe was 15th warmest.  That claim is completely false. 

    WUWT is not an accurate source of information.  I did not look to see what the temperature was in England. 

    We are also concerned with world grain harvests, not England alone.  Yields will obviously be more negatively affected in warmer areas than in areas that are currently cold.

    Comments like this indicate that you are very selective with the data you present.  You are earning a reputation here.  If you want to convince people your position is correct you need to get better citations.

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  43. Ashton @37:


    "But I don't think the AGW proponents have proved their case beyond reasonable doubt."

    "Beyond reasonable doubt" is a legal standard, not a scientific standard.  It is certainly not in general a policy relevant standard.  "Beyond reasonable doubt" applied to tobacco smoke means we would still allow smoking in bars and restaurants.  To driving, it means we would not slow if we saw a vague, child like shape in the fog ahead of us.  It means the captains of ships would not attempt to evade icebergs until it was beyond reasonable doubt that they would hit it if they did not, and hence almost certain that they would hit it regardless if they did.

    For policy decisions, governments act on balance of probability (when they do not act based on ideological blinkers).  That is, in IPCC parlance, they act on evidence which is more likely than not.  Nearly all IPCC conclusions are proved far more rigorously than that standard.

    Having said that, the critics of the IPCC have had the hardest time coming up with reasonable doubts.  

    "A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary or frivolous doubt. It must not be based upon sympathy or prejudice. Rather, it is based on reason and common sense. It is logically derived from the evidence or absence of evidence have raised doubts by ignoring" 

    But the doubts raised by the pseudo-skeptics have been based on cherry picking data, ignoring the evidence and in general making every use of shyster tricks they can imagine to raise unreasonable doubts among those who find the thought of global warming to much to allow into their conception of the world.

    An example of this is Ashton, who raises an unreasonable standard, and then applies it to all aspects of the theory of AGW without distinction.


    "This suggests natural forces do have an impact on global temperature. Who is right? Sci Am or SkS?"

    And here Ashton gives an example of "unreasonable doubts".  The Scientific American article did not say that natural forces have no impact on global temperatures.  Only that those impacts summed to zero (or were indistinguishable from zero) for the period 1950-2010.  In that they follow the IPCC exactly, who state (WG1 Chapter 10, Executive summary):

    "GHGs contributed a global mean surface warming likely to be
    between 0.5°C and 1.3°C over the period 1951–2010, with the
    contributions from other anthropogenic forcings likely to be
    between –0.6°C and 0.1°C, from natural forcings likely to be
    between –0.1°C and 0.1°C, and from internal variability likely
    to be between –0.1°C and 0.1°C."

     Note, "likely" (ie, 66% or greater probability), not "beyond reasonable doubt".  The IPCC also states:

    "It is extremely likely [95% or greater] that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in GMST from 1951 to 2010."

    And here is the actual Probability Density Function of that attribution based on Fig 10.5:

    The reason this can be seen in an indicator of the major source of internal variability in temperature, the inverted SOI:

    It must be born in that the IPCC is comparing differences in multi year averages of temperatures, not individual years.  That is why they take the difference between 1950 and 2010 to be 0.6 C, not the actual (according to HadCRUT4) 1.01 C.  And with that in mind, it is clear that the net ENSO effect on temperature differences between the two periods has been negative.

    At the same time, the effects of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation have been neutral between 1950-2010:

    So, the Scientific American article, and the IPCC findings on which it is based do not assume that internal variability has no effect on temperature.  Only that that effect between 1950 to 2010 (trend figures) are neglibly different from neutral.

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  44. Two corrections for my post @43.  First, when looking up the temperature difference between 1950 and 2010, I accidentally clicked on HadCRUT3 rather than HadCRUT4.  The temperature difference should be 0.73 C for individual years, compared to the 0.6 C trend difference used by the IPCC.  Second, when checking the trend difference in the SOI, I found it to have a very slight positive influence on temperature (0.7 Standard Deviations of the inverted 6 month lagged SOI index), which is approximately equivalent to a temperature differential of 0.07 C.  Overall, temperature influences of major ocean oscillations are still demonstrably negligible so it makes not difference to the overall argument.

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  45. Ashton, I do not claim that everything posted at WUWT may be nonsense but I would bet everything is a distortion of the truth. It obviously works since apparently you  believe things that are not true ("it based on computer programming") and appear base your skepticism on it. The low integrity at WUWT to me would be a reason to avoid on principle. (How do feel about cyber-stalking of scientists blogging under pseudonyms while allow your own authors to post under pseudonyms?). Reading Jo Nova and Bishop Hill as well? Have you no respect for truth at all?

    Troy Masters is example a true skeptic in my opinion,  and I dont think Roy Spencer would make claims he knew we false even if I disagree with him. Jeff Id and Lucia's Blackboard are also passable in my opinion. Do yourself a favour and it might make the debate better informed.

    I would be interested to know whether you only take actions suggested by your Dr if proved "beyond reasonable doubt". (Though I frankly think AGW is even if the precise climate sensitivity remains annoyingly hard to pin down).

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  46. It's hard to tell the difference between willful and genuine ignorance, and hard to tell the level with which someone experiences cognitive dissonance. In any given debate, passionate proponents may knowingly disseminate dubious information, because they believe their opposition is doing the same thing.

    It's not really possible to access a person's level of intellectual honesty, and not usually relelvant either. Misinformation is misinformation, regardless of intent. Accusations of dishonesty are, by-and-large unproductive.

    I prefer to give people benefit of the doubt, and believe Upton Sinclair hit the nail when he said:

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

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  47. Ashton: But I don't think the AGW proponents have proved their case beyond reasonable doubt.
    Tom Curtis: "Beyond reasonable doubt" is a legal standard, not a scientific standard. It is certainly not in general a policy relevant standard. [.. Applied to] driving, it means we would not slow if we saw a vague, child like shape in the fog ahead of us.

    Tom provides an interesting and compelling image. In this viewpoint, the reasonable doubt about the truth of "It is a child" provides justification for not taking action.

    But if we change the statement to "It is not a child" then there's reasonable doubt about that and therefore cause to take avoiding action.

    AGW is similar. For some it's not actually that vague, for others there's no fog, but surely nobody can say that it's not at least a vague, child-like shape in the fog ahead.

    It's therefore not enough to claim that AGW proponents have not proved their case beyond reasonable doubt. As a doubter, you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that AGW is not a collision in the fog ahead.

    Ashton, do you accept that your reasonable doubt argument cuts both ways? Assuming that you are fair enough to say yes, do you then have sufficient scientific evidence to declare that the road ahead is clear - beyond reasonable doubt?

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  48. [JH] Moderator's Comment

    A friendly reminder: The SkS Commets Policy prohibits "piling on."  

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  49. Ashton - it looks like your response to me got deleted for offtopic. However, you can think of AGW much like Dr. You suspect the diagnosis, so run a huge battery of tests (eg does the outgoing LW have right signature for amount of CO2. You measure increased LW radiation at surface and does it match the spectrum and amplitude for CO2-induced radiation. Does the ocean warm at rate you would expect? You performs test against other possible causes - is incoming solar changing; is aerosols decreasing maybe; could it come from oceans (which would result in OHC loss) etc. Does it have the fingerprints of GHG warming?)

    Like in medicine, you get the conformation from your tests but also like in medicine, you get those who dont like the answers (HIV deniers), want to make money (quack providers).

    And in medicine, you get treatments offered which most certainly are not "beyond reasonable doubt" but for which the potential benefits outweigh the risks. In the current Ebola epidemic, you are seeing things tried which are not even shown to be safe, let alone effective.

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  50. Thanks scaddenp for your very civil reply at 46.  It was much appreciated.  I didn't think answering your question was "piling on"  but perhaps I gave too much detail .  I wonder if the moderators at Skeptical Science are in favour of epistemological homogeneity?  I hope not as institutions are diminished when the conventional wisdom becomes entrenched, groupthink takes hold and dissident voices are treated with contempt. (quote is from Nick Cater in today's Australian).

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] My friendly reminder about the prohibition against piling on was directed at the commenters who are responding to your posts. 

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