Climate of conversation

In a nutshell

Free speech is under fire around the world and nowhere does it face greater threat than in the bitter dispute over man-made global warming.

The GWPF carries a thoughtful piece on free speech by Adam Perkins, who explains why it’s vitally important to our practise of science:

… debate at King’s College London, where I have worked since 2007, is becoming restricted. A debate held this month at King’s between Yaron Brook and Carl Benjamin was stopped by masked thugs bursting into the lecture theatre.

Perkins opens his discussion of free speech with pertinent comments by notable figures:

A quick Google search suggests that free speech is a regarded as an important virtue for a functional, enlightened society. For example, according to George Orwell: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Likewise, Ayaan Hirsi Ali remarked: “Free speech is the bedrock of liberty and a free society, and yes, it includes the right to blaspheme and offend.” In a similar vein, Bill Hicks declared: “Freedom of speech means you support the right of people to say exactly those ideas which you do not agree with”.

Which remind me of Churchill’s remark in Parliament:

Everyone is in favour of free speech … but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

Perkins asks why do we specifically need free speech in science? Surely it’s enough to talk about our data and our instruments? But, he says:

These are merely tools that help us to accomplish a far greater mission, which is to choose between rival narratives, in the vicious, no-holds-barred battle of ideas that we call “science”.

Other snippets:

  • There is no authority who decides what is a good idea. – Richard Feynman
  • Science is not about finding the truth at all, but about finding better ways of being wrong. – Tom Schofield
  • … the tendency to silence scientists with inconvenient opinions has been labelled Lysenkoism since it provides the most famous example of the harm that can be done when competing scientific opinions cannot be expressed equally freely.

Physicist Richard Feynman was a member of the NASA committee investigating the 1986 Challenger disaster and refused to be silenced. He demonstrated that the O-rings became stiff when cold and caused the explosion. In the report on the disaster he said:

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled. [emphasis added]

Perkins implores us

stand up for the principle that no one has the right to police our opinions.

There’s more, so do tuck in.

Challenge the warmsters

You may form the opinion, as I have, that climate science is not amenable to refutation by a single experiment, observation, paper, or even a debate, no matter how free. However, it will always be crucially important to take every opportunity to challenge errors in the assertions of warmsters, whether of data or reasoning, not because the assertion might help to prove or disprove the overall thesis, but simply because it’s incorrect.

But what makes this climate hydra such a slippery eel is, as many of you have said, that there is no properly formed hypothesis behind the warmsters’ case, which means it is perfectly unfalsifiable. But there is a proper answer to their case, and that is to discover and to enunciate the questions they fail to answer. As I see it, that will demonstrate the paucity of their evidence and the falsity of their hypothesis.

For example, what good reason supports their choice of human emissions to explain the apparent shortfall in forcings while trying to account for the global increase in surface temperature from 1951 to 2010? As IPCC say:

In conclusion, although some inconsistencies in the forced responses of individual models and observations have been identified, the detection of the global temperature response to GHG increases using average responses from multiple models is robust to observational uncertainty and methodological choices. It is supported by basic physical arguments. We conclude, consistent with Hegerl et al. (2007b), that more than half of the observed increase in GMST from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations. – WGI AR5 (2013), p. 884

So, regardless of repeated references to inconsistencies between models, discrepancies between models and observations, “underestimated uncertainties”, “higher transient response” of some CMIP5 models to GHGs than in the real world and the fact that “some CMIP5 models have a higher transient response to GHGs and a larger response to other anthropogenic forcings than the real world,” IPCC decides our emissions had a big hand in half the warming.

Significant gaps in our knowledge of climate are generally acknowledged to include the sign and magnitude of cloud feedback, good coverage of whole-ocean temperatures and heat content, the magnitudes of many known but poorly-understood climate phenomena such as galactic cosmic ray (GCR) formation of clouds and aerosols, and many more, so there’s plenty to work on.

Ask until the cows come home

Knutson et al. (2013) demonstrate that observed trends in GMST are inconsistent with the simulated response to natural forcings alone, but consistent with the simulated response to natural and anthropogenic forcings for all periods beginning between 1880 and 1990 and ending in 2010, which they interpret as evidence that warming is in part attributable to anthropogenic influence over these periods. – WGI AR5 (2013), p. 883

Yes, but that’s not the only possible interpretation, is it? They choose that one because it’s part of their founding document — they are required to find human causation for climate change.

So, we should present these and other unanswered questions and straight-out deceptions until the cows come home, remembering that our audience is not the warmsters—we should address the voters who can kick out the gullible, negligent politicians. Why are they negligent? Because they took insufficient care to seek counsel from both sides of a demonstrably strong and continuing controversy.

All the while we should be endlessly, it goes without saying, creative, courteous and light-hearted.

123 Thoughts on “Climate of conversation

  1. Maggy Wassilieff on May 25, 2018 at 2:14 pm said:

    This paper (july 2017) show that there has been no significant trend in global precipitation during the satellite era.

    The authors do recognise regional patterns – related to ENSO events.

    Seems to fit the pattern shown in one of your figures….

  2. Simon on May 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm said:

    There is a clear trend there Bob. You can’t look at one year in isolation.
    There is a clear trend in your example Maggy. You are also confusing total precipitation with precipitation intensities.
    Very loosely, drier regions are getting drier, wetter regions are getting wetter. Rainfall intensity increases with temperature because there is more water vapour in the atmosphere. There will be exceptions, but that is what is happening at a global level.
    We have digressed. Bob stated that IPCC projections are too extreme, but all the evidence produced this far demonstrates that AR5 is generally accurate.

  3. Mack on May 25, 2018 at 7:55 pm said:

    Simon says…
    ….” but all the evidence produced this far demonstrates that AR5 is generally accurate”
    Full circle for the gullible fool Simon,
    It all started off with Bob merely quoting the IPCC here…
    namely….”In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena…..”

    read….actually we have no idea of “trends in small-scale severe weather…..” , because, (as Maggie W. has pointed out), 70% of the planet is covered in ocean, with no weather stations situated there, so we’re only talking handwaving bullshit….. but after 30 years of criticism from the sceptics, we have to tone down the bullshit to the level of “low confidence”.

    “AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970’s were probably overstated”

    read……we were thinking that global warming would increase temperatures causing more drought, but that was in direct contradiction to Trenberth’s “climate science” scripture, saying higher temperatures result in more water vapour…more rain…….so “were probably overstated” actually means “were probably as a result of us being confused and lying” … now we have to admit , the AR4 conclusions definitely have a probability of being about 97% bullshit.
    So Simon, it’s really is quite pleasing to see…slowly, slowly, catchee monkey,..

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