Experts now run the world using their theories. What if they fail, and we lose confidence in them?

Summary: The first few decades of the 21st century appear to be dominated by experts steering public policy using their theories. The rest of the century might be dominated by the effects of their success — or failure.

Experts
Experts trying to help

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So far America in the 21st century has driven by theories, in a way seldom seen in history (distinguishing experts’ theories from religions and political doctrines). For example,

  • our invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, relying on COIN theory for success (despite no relevant past successes its long history of use),
  • massive multi-year long unconventional monetary programs, based on untried economic theories (details here), and
  • massive programs to mobilize public opinion to implement government policies to limit CO2 emissions, based forecasts of untested theoretical climate models.

In all three cases we were assured by a consensus of the relevant experts (a narrow range of experts) that their theories were accurate and reliable. None of these theories had a history of success. In that sense, all three are experiments.

What might be the consequences of these experts’ failures? Might that weaken or even shatter America’s confidence in experts? That might have horrific implications for the future, allowing cranks and con men even greater roles on the public stage — making US public policy even less effective than it is today.

The first experiment — COIN theory — failed us in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with as yet no visible effects on public confidence in our military’s leadership.

The second is still running. Intense monetary policy called qualitative easing has run since 2001 in Japan, and since 2008 in the USA. They have produced stability and slow growth, but no recoveries. Now both the Bank of Japan and the Fed have taken it to a new and unprecedented level. The next few years will show the results.

Might this become our view of experts?
Might this become our view of experts?

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As for the third, we will not know the accuracy of  climate models’ forecasts for years, probably decades.  They are  based on data from the largely natural warming during the century-plus before WW2 and the largely-human-caused warming in the six decades after WW2 (see details here).

But the pause in warming since roughly 2000 (depending on the data series used; see below) raises the possibility that these models might be wrong. Mentioning that scientists see the pause brought down the wraith of lay climate warriors. Saying the that these models might be inaccurate brought down denunciations as “deniers” and enemies of humanity.

But data continues to accumulate, scientists continues to work, and slowly journalists become confident enough to discuss these things.  As in “Climate change: A cooling consensus“, The Economist, 20 June 2013 — which raises some difficult question.  Unless the warming trend resumes soon, we will hear more mention of them. Excerpt:

 Nate Cohn of the New Republic reports: “Since 1998, the warmest year of the twentieth century, temperatures have not kept up with computer models that seemed to project steady warming; they’re perilously close to falling beneath even the lowest projections”.

Mr Cohn does his best to affirm that the urgent necessity of acting to retard warming has not abated, as does Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, as does this newspaper. But there’s no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases

The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not dramatic climate-policy interventions remain advisable, they will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.

… if the consensus climate models turn out to be falsified just a few years later, average temperature having remained at levels not even admitted to be have been physically possible, the authority of consensus will have been exposed as rather weak.

This article is a follow-up to The Economist’s first second mention of the pause: “A sensitive matter“, 30 March 2013 — “The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away.”

For More Information

All these posts rely on, and extensively cite, the IPCC and peer-reviewed literature.

Posts about the pause (I’ve posted excerpts from these in the comments):

  1. Good news!  Global temperatures have stabilized, at least for now., 3 February 2012
  2. Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012
  3. When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer (it’s not what you’ve been told)., 18 October 2012
  4. The IPCC sees the pause in global warming!, 18 December 2012
  5. Update about global temperatures. Watch our world warm!, 5 January 2013
  6. Secrets about global warming that you must not know, least they ruin the narrative, 22 January 2013

Posts about climate forecasts:

  1. More forecasts of a global cooling cycle
  2. More about the forecast for flooded cities in the late 21st century
  3. Looking into the past for guidance about warnings of future climate apocalypses
  4. What can climate scientists tell about the drivers of future warming?
  5. What can climate scientists tell us about the drivers of future warming?  – part two of two
  6. Checking up on past forecasts about climate change, a guide to the future
  7. An optimistic &  successful (so far) forecast by an eminent climate scientist

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31 thoughts on “Experts now run the world using their theories. What if they fail, and we lose confidence in them?

  1. They are experts in their own minds, perhaps.

    Don’t be fooled. These are ideologues.

    The climate change panic is to bring in carbon tax, and a more useless financial product has never been conceived or advocated. The Carbon Tax will do nothing for the climate, but it will enrich still more the Obscenely Wealthy…

    Ditto QE Infinity. It doesn’t work, but we’ll keep gifting the corrupt banksters with free money (while starving the people) until the final Crash or the Revolution, in whichever order they occur.

    And as for military theory: these illegal and undeclared wars of aggression for other people’s patrimony (their natural resources) are as wrong as they ever were. We simply have lost the technology benefit that enabled previous generations to wipe out opposition. The playing field is more level now than it has ever been, and the hearts-and-minds tactic, our best shot, has been totally discarded. The Chinese are winning hearts and minds, these days. They don’t cheat, like the global corporations who drive Western military policy do. At least, not yet. And American and Western tolerance for atrocity, never particularly high, is depleted by the actual news furnished outside the Official Media through the on-the-ground reporting by ordinary people via the Internet.

    Plus, war is expensive. The petroleum alone will break us, and the cannon fodder would rather starve than face enslavement, abuse and maiming.

  2. I am puzzled by your assessment of those “theories”.

    1) COIN: if it really has “no relevant past successes its long history of use”, then it means that the theory is simply wrong, since it has been always falsified. It must be discarded and replaced. On the other, Mao’s theory of revolutionary war looks a bit more solid, as it features a number of prominent successes.

    2) QE: if this is based on “untried economic theories”, then they should rather be demoted to “conjectures”. Only a conjecture that has sustained successful trials accesses to the rank of a full-fledged theory.

    3) Climate models: you are contradicting yourself. The comparison of forecasts with actuals, carried out during the past 20 years or so, means that the theoretical climate models _are_ tested (and constantly adjusted to cater for new observations and discrepancies with older models). This is probably the only of these three situations where a truly scientific approach is followed.

    1. Guest,

      All good points! Let’s see if we can resolve the contradictions you note.

      (1) “it means that the theory is simply wrong, since it has been always falsified.”

      Yes, from an abstract perspective (ie, God’s). But the reality I point to is that experts recommended it nonetheless — and our leaders & the public cheered! Those of us pointing to its record of failure were ignored. Even prominent people like Martin van Creveld, whose great 1991 book The Transformation of War reads like a history of our failures in Afghanistan and Iraq — written a decade before. Why they did so is a question for another day; here we ask about the consequences of that intellectual failure.

      1. How often do insurgents win? How much time does successful COIN require?, 29 May 2008
      2. Max Boot: history suggests we will win in Afghanistan, with better than 50-50 odds. Here’s the real story., 21 June 2010 — Boot discusses 7 alleged victories by foreign armies fighting insurgencies.
      3. A major discovery! It could change the course of US geopolitical strategy, if we’d only see it, 28 June 2010 — Andrew Exum (aka Abu Muqawama) points us to the doctoral dissertation of Erin Marie Simpson in Political Science from Harvard. She examines the present and past analysis of counter-insurgency. This could change the course of American foreign policy, if we pay attention.
      4. A look at the history of victories over insurgents, 30 June 2010
      5. COINistas point to Kenya as a COIN success. In fact it was an expensive bloody failure., 7 August 2012

      (2) “Mao’s theory of revolutionary war looks a bit more solid”

      Quite so. It is a foundational work for 4GW, as Mao’s victory marks the maturation of 4GW into the primary mode of war in our time.

      (3) “QE: if this is based on ‘untried economic theories’, then they should rather be demoted to ‘conjectures’”

      I believe untried theories are usually called theories. Byut let’s not allow maters of labeling to obscure important matters.

      (4) “The comparison of forecasts with actuals”

      This is called “back-testing” or “hind-casting”. It’s easy to make a model perfectly predict the past. Rigorous testing of model means comparison with either future results (the most common and definitive form of testing) or vs out-of-sample results (holding out a period of data from the tuning process, then comparing vs the model).

      This is especially important for models, like the large climate models, that are not built to replicate actual physical processes — but rely on parametrization (see Wikipedia). This is to a large degree a process of back-fitting, and renders back-testing of little value for verification.

      Most lay climate warriors do not know this, and defend the honor of GCMs on quite specious grounds (the reliance on making stuff up dominates lay climate debates, on both sides).

  3. Another example of news media suddenly seeing the debate, realization that the expert consensus might be wrong:

    Study opens new cracks in scientific front on climate change“, Gerard Wynn (columnist), Reuters, 21 June 2013 — Opening:

    A major recent study has put the cat among the pigeons on climate change, challenging the size of the problem in the near-term and the role of a recent slowdown in warming.

    The paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience in May, involved scientists from 14 institutions and calculated that more extreme climate change was now less likely, after taking into account slower warming in the past decade.

  4. “Experts now run the world using their theories. What if they fail, and we lose confidence in them?”

    Would Fabius prefer to have the ignoramuses run the world using their conspiracy theories?

    As for Fabius: “But the pause in warming since roughly 2000 (depending on the data series used; see below) raises the possibility that these models might be wrong.”

    Fabius: “But data continues to accumulate” – so let’s take a look at what the data shows.

    2010 was the warmest year in recorded history in all 3 climate databases.
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata_v3/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt (2010 was fractionally warmer than the previous record in 2005)
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/annual.land_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadCRUT4-gl.dat

    Sea level continues to rise due to thermal expansion and glacial melting. The rate of rise is accelerating.
    “From 1950 to 2009, measurements show an average annual rise in sea level of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm per year, with satellite data showing a rise of 3.3 ± 0.4 mm per year from 1993 to 2009, a faster rate of increase than previously estimated.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Current_sea_level_rise

    Glaciers are continuing to melt with the melting rate accelerating since the end of the 1990s.
    http://www.geo.uzh.ch/microsite/wgms/mbb/sum11.html (World Glacier Monitoring Service)

    NASA measured 4.3 trillion tons of net glacial melting between 2003 and 2010.
    http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/grace20120208.html

    Of course Global Warming Deniers have their sources – typically its one Global Warming Denier quoting another Global Warming Denier.

    1. Every post about climate science brings forth people like Butler, banging in to say that the major climate scientists and climate-related agencies are wrong. I write a dozen posts, citing peer-reviewed literature, a wide range of climate scientists, major institutions — all for naught because Butler KNOWS.

      Perhaps Butler would read some of the posts cited and find actual grounds to dispute the conclusions of the scientists cited. Eventually that will happen, instead of the insults to me and the scientists cited that are the common response.

      Another pitiful aspect of Butler’s comment is his blindness to the point of the post. The IPCC assesses the various predictions at far less than certainty. Hence the logical question raised in The Economist about consequences if the models should prove inaccurate.

      Note that, as careful scientists, the folks producing the IPCC’s reports are careful to specify a degree of certainty for each past trend they report — and for each forecast. This is the exact opposite of the attitude of people like Butler, who appear to believe they’re dealing with certainties more like religious dogma than science.

      Quite sad, really.

    2. “Of course Global Warming Deniers have their sources – typically its one Global Warming Denier quoting another Global Warming Denier.”

      Since the post explicitly said otherwise, does this tell us that Butler didn’t read the post? That’s a commonplace behavior of people writing comments like Butler — they KNOW so don’t need to actually read — and gives these debates their mad nature, as these people usually ignore specific data mentioned.

      Not reading the post — just a skim to detect heresy — would also explain the irrelevance of Butler’s comment to the specific issue raised in this post.

      After scores of these discussions, I have learned the futility of responding to Butler-like folk. They run from peer-reviewed literature like vampires splashed with holy water. Unfortunately, they run away with their views unchanged — hence the exercise is wasted effort.

      If someone else asks for a detailed response to his point — all quite irrelevant to anything raised in this post — I will provide it.

    3. More evidence suggesting that Butler is replying with outrage to a post he didn’t read.

      From the post:

      What might be the consequences of these experts’ failures? Might that weaken or even shatter America’s confidence in experts? That might have horrific implications for the future, allowing cranks and con men even greater roles on the public stage — making US public policy even less effective than it is today.

      Butler’s reply:

      Would Fabius prefer to have the ignoramuses run the world using their conspiracy theories?

      Butler’s comment is nothing but a reading FAIL. Sad, really.

    4. You might be interested in reading this.

      The ‘warming pause’ and the transient climate response to a doubling of CO2“, UK Met office, 21 May 2013 — “Nature Geoscience published a paper (Otto et al, 2013) which discussed a ‘best-estimate’ for transient climate response which led to widespread media coverage. In this guest article for Research News, the lead author of the paper, Alexander Otto, discusses the implications of the research.”

      Climate change will be slower than thought, study shows – or does it?“, Guardian, 13 May 2013 — “New climate study just one step to understanding future climate change, but Australia is already feeling the heat”

      Climate change will be slower than thought, study shows – or does it?“, Graham Readfearn, Planet Oz blog hosted by The Guardian, 24 May 2013 — “New climate study just one step to understanding future climate change, but Australia is already feeling the heat”

      Scientists: How Matt Ridley misinterpreted new climate sensitivity paper“, Roz Pidcock (PhD in physical oceanography), The Carbon Brief, 22 May 2013

    5. chickennoodlesoup,

      Thank you for posting those citations. For easier use by readers, I consolidated them into one comment and added the full citation information. These cites are especially useful as they illustrate some of the various kinds of information available on the internet about science, in this case about one new paper:

      The Met Office provides an authoritative summary of new research.
      The Guardian writes a typically one-side story about new research.
      Dr. Pidcock discusses new research, correcting an article by science writer Matt Ridley
      A blogger, apparently an activist, writes about new research in an unbalanced and alarmist fashion

      The subject of the Otto et al paper in Nature Geoscience is the climate’s sensitivity to rising CO2, an subject of intense research — with several high-profile papers out recently. To understand this cutting edge science one must see the range of papers. Looking at just one tells the layman nothing. What makes the Guardian articles more like propaganda than journalism is that they provide no context, or even mention that it’s part of a debate among climate scientists. Briefly, estimates of the effect of rising CO2 on global temperature are falling. This is good news!

      Here are accounts of this research more balanced than The Guardian’s (these are all citations I’ve given on the FM website). Reuters and The Economist are IMO two of the best news English-language services.

      A sensitive matter“, The Economist, 30 March 2013 — “Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. … The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now.”
      Climate slowdown means extreme rates of warming ‘not as likely’“, BBC, 19 May 2013 — “Since 1998, there has been an unexplained “standstill” in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere. Writing in Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this will reduce predicted warming in the coming decades. But long-term, the expected temperature rises will not alter significantly”
      Study opens new cracks in scientific front on climate change“, Gerard Wynn (columnist), Reuters, 21 June 2013

      For more detailed coverage of the debate, I recommend reading these articles by Judith Curry (an eminent climate scientist) at her website, Climate Etc. They describe the major new papers, put them in a larger context, and describe the trend of the debate.

      New perspectives on climate sensitivity, 19 March 2013 — “Here is a summary of some important new papers on the topics of climate sensitivity and attribution.”
      Mainstreaming ECS ~ 2 C, 19 May 2013 — “IPCC lead authors are paying attention to the lower sensitivity estimates. It will be very interesting to see how the IPCC AR5 plays this … {and} if the IPCC budges from the 2-4.5 C range that has remained unchanged since the 1979 Charney report.”

  5. Let’s have some references. Here are some of mine.

    Resources for Research

    The following organizations provide evidence that:
    1) Global Warming / Climate Change is real.
    2) Human activities are by far the largest causative agent.
    3) Global Warming / Climate Change is a continuing, ongoing phenomenon.

    NASA
    http://climate.nasa.gov/warmingworld/
    http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/global_warming_worldbook.html
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarmingQandA/
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A2.lrg.gif (The graph)

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    National Climatic Data Center
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html

    World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
    http://www.wmo.ch/pages/about/wmo50/e/world/climate_pages/global_warming_e.html

    American Meteorological Society
    http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2007climatechange.html
    “Warming of the climate system now is unequivocal” “The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities.” http://www.ametsoc.org/policy/2012climatechange.html

    National Center for Atmospheric Research: “How do we know Earth is warming now?”
    http://www.ncar.ucar.edu/research/climate/now.php

    Earth System Research Laboratory – Global Monitoring Division: “Climate Forcing”
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/about/climate.html

    University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
    http://www.ucar.edu/research/climate/warming.jsp

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory – California Institute of Technology: “Global Climate Change” “How do we know?”
    http://climate.jpl.nasa.gov/evidence/

    American Geophysical Union (world’s largest scientific society of Earth and space scientists)
    “Human Impacts on Climate”
    http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/climate_change_position.html

    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now”
    http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/mtg_200702/aaas_climate_statement.pdf
    http://www.aaas.org/news/press_room/climate_change/

    U. S. National Academy of Sciences: “Climate change is real”
    http://www.nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf

    National Science Foundation: “Global Warming Greatest in Past Decade”
    http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=112206

    U. S. Geological Survey: “Glacier and Landscape Change in Response to Changing Climate”
    http://www.usgs.gov/global_change/glaciers/default.asp
    Time lapse video: “Glacier Erasure: South Cascade Glacier in a Changing Climate”
    http://wa.water.usgs.gov/projects/glacier/video.html

    Geological Society of America
    “The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs . . . that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s.”
    http://www.geosociety.org/positions/position10.htm

    National Snow and Ice Data Center – Global Glacier Recession
    “We live in a time of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations with an attendant warming of the climate.”
    http://nsidc.org/glims/glaciermelt/

    United Nations Environment Programme/World Glacier Monitoring Service
    “Global Glacier Changes: facts and figures”
    “There is mounting evidence that climate change is triggering a shrinking and thinning of many glaciers world-wide”
    http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/ (Introduction and links to a 26 MB WGMS report)

    The United States Energy Information Administration: “Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change, and Energy”
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/bookshelf/brochures/greenhouse/Chapter1.htm

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Report: Human activity fuels global warming”
    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2007/climate.html
    Also: “The new projections are . . . the median surface warming in 2091 to 2100 is 5.1°C
    http://globalchange.mit.edu/pubs/abstract.php?publication_id=990

    California Institute of Technology: “How We Know Global Warming is Real”
    “The science behind human-induced climate change”
    http://www.gps.caltech.edu/~tapio/papers/skeptic_2008.pdf

    Stanford University
    “Global warming . . . is now well documented and accepted by scientists as fact.”
    http://solar-center.stanford.edu/sun-on-earth/glob-warm.html

    Atmospheric Sciences – University of Illinois – Champaign
    “Evidence continues to mount that human activities are altering the Earth’s climate on a global scale.”
    http://www.atmos.uiuc.edu/research/01climate.html

    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
    http://www.whoi.edu/main/topic/global-warming

    Scripps Institution of Oceanography (University of California – San Diego)
    http://scripps.ucsd.edu/img/climate_flyer.pdf

    The UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre: “Climate change – the big picture”
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/corporate/pressoffice/myths/index.html
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/guide/

    The UK’s Royal Society: “Climate change controversies: a simple guide”
    http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=6229

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Based in Switzerland)
    “Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report”
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf

    Japan Meteorological Agency: “Global Warming Projection Vol.7”
    http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/tcc/tcc/products/gwp/gwp7/index-e.html

    The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    “Our climate has changed substantially.” “Global climate change and global warming are real and observable.”
    http://www.amos.org.au/publications/cid/3/t/publications

    Royal Society of New Zealand
    “The globe is warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”
    http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/Site/news/media_releases/2008/clim0708.aspx

    National Geographic Magazine
    http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/

    Scientific American Magazine
    http://www.sciam.com/topic.cfm?id=global-warming-and-climate-change

    Wikipedia
    “Scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth’s climate system is unequivocally warming and it is more than 90% certain that humans are causing it through activities that increase concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change (100+ references with links)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_gas

    1. Butler,

      You are stating what? That these citations give a rebuttal against the “pause” in global warming?

      False. Bizarrely, crazy false.

      My guess is that you didn’t read the post, and are replying to the OPPOSITE of what was said, that the world has not been in a long-term warming trend.

      That’s a sad reading FAIL. Note that, however, it is exactly what I predicted in my reply to you.

  6. Maximus: “But the pause in warming since roughly 2000”
    The “pause in warming since roughly 2000” phrase is just another lie by Global Warming Deniers.

    Please see my web page: The “Global Warming Stopped in 1998” Lie
    http://www.durangobill.com/GwdLiars/GwdGlobalWarmingStoppedIn1998.html

    The above web page is currently # 1 in Google out of about 22,000,000 if you search using:
    global warming stopped lie (Try it)
    https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGNI_enUS530US530&q=global+warming+stopped+lie

    As to “Why Global Warming Deniers Reject Reality”, please see another of my web pages:
    “Global Warming Deniers claim that Global Warming is a hoax/fraud/scam. They lie, they are willfully ignorant, and they are wrong.”
    http://www.durangobill.com/GwdLiars/GwdLiarsIndex.html

    The above web page is currently # 1 in Google if you search using: ignorant global warming deniers
    https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGNI_enUS530US530&q=ignorant+global+warming+deniers

    Guess what is currently # 2 for the above search?

    1. Butler,

      (1) A recomendation.

      Perhaps you should try looking at one of the posts cited in this post, which give specific information about some aspect of climate change. That might give you a clearer understanding of what I’m saying (i.e., basically repeating the IPCC’s views with additional information from other climate scientists), and show the evidence I cite (e.g, IPCC, major climate-related institutions, and peer-reviewed literature).

      You can post a rebuttal to these. I’d be interested to see that. If so, I’ll post a link here to that.

      (2) I quote peer-reviewed scientists, major climate-related institutions, and the peer-reviewed literature. I am not interested in laypeople’s opinions.

      (3) You are not responding to what I’m saying, in the post or comments. For example, the cites you posted are not relevant to the content of this post. They assume — like your comment here — that I stated that the world has not been warming until recently, when I expressly said otherwise in this post (i.e, the world has been warming during the past 2 centuries). And have repeated this in the comments.

      You don’t appear to be seeing these words.

      It’s more than a reading FAIL. Frankly, your comments seem somewhat delusional. Not that they’re factually incorrect. They’re not connected to this conversation. It’s as if you’re writing in response to voices in your head, not the text on the screen.

      I don’t understand what you are attempt to accomplish.

      (4) As for your google ranking, that’s silly. There are astrology and conspiracy websites with high google rankings for their subject. It means nothing.

    2. “The “pause in warming since roughly 2000” phrase is just another lie by Global Warming Deniers.”

      That’s a straightford and testable assertion. It’s quite false, as the term (“the pause”) is used often by climate scientists. The pause is a active subject of research, examining its causes, probable duration, and significance (at the very least, it’s giving us more time to study and prepare).

      Like every aspect of climate science, laypeople have run with it in many directions. It proves global warming has stopped; it hasn’t happened, it’s a phrase used only by deniers. This is why I stick to what the scientists say and ignore the lay chatter.

      See these posts for a brief review of the literature and statements by climate scientists about the pause. Everything has a link back to the original source (or a reliable secondary source, such as major news media).

    3. Of the two posts about the pause, the second is probably of most use. Esp see section #9, with abstracts of 9 peer-reviewed articles discussing the pause. Just a sample of the kinds of work being done.

    4. Butler,

      To make it easier for you, I have provided a list of brief quotes — scientists mentioning the pause — with links. The relevant posts give fuller material.

  7. Not sure this is really new. Bretton Woods was based on a set of economic theories, was it not? Cold War nuclear deterrence force structure was based on game theory. Marxism was a theory long before it was a political ideology.

    But the broader point – what if the theories are wrong? – still rings true.

    1. I am not sure any if those are correct.

      The Bretton Woods system was based as much, probably more, on historical experience and expert judgement as theory. When economic theorists analyzed it by the 1960s, they said it was almost unworkable. As so it proved.

      I very much doubt that the decisions of either US or Soviet military and political leaders were substantially influenced by game theory. RAND and others were active in the area, but I would like to see cites about their influence on important decisions.

      Calling Marxism a theory — in the same sense as modern monetary theory, climate science, or COIN — is a stretch, IMO. In that sense, everything we do is based in a theory, and the word means little.

  8. Judith Curry comments about this article in The Economist:

    Houston’s article hits the nail on the head re the policy implications of the pause for policy and for the consensus. This statement struck me in particular:

    Indeed, if the consensus had been only that greenhouse gases have some warming effect, there would have been no obvious policy implications at all.

    This statement reflects the folly of the ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach of climate change policy making, and danger of a manufactured consensus on climate change to the healthy evolution of climate science. We’ve lost decades in climate science by failing to pay adequate attention to natural climate variability. By failing to pay adequate attention to uncertainty and natural climate variability, the climate community is facing the following prospect:

    If that consensus is now falling apart, as it seems it may be, that is, for good or ill, a very big deal.

    About Judith Curry

    Judith Curry is Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and President (co-owner) of Climate Forecast Applications Network (CFAN). She received a Ph.D. in Geophysical Sciences from the University of Chicago in 1982. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia Tech, she held faculty positions at the University of Colorado, Penn State University and Purdue University.

    She currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council Earth Science Subcommittee and has recently served on the National Academies Climate Research Committee and the Space Studies Board, and the NOAA Climate Working Group. Curry is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Geophysical Union.

  9. Butler: “The ‘pause in warming since roughly 2000’ phrase is just another lie by Global Warming Deniers.”

    This is easily proven false. Here are some of the citations from my posts, with brief excerpts. The posts contains full abstracts and longer excerpts.

     

    Richard Lindzen (Prof Meteorology, MIT), 11 March 2008: “There has been no warming since 1997 and no statistically significant warming since 1995.” (source)

    Q&A: Professor Phil Jones“, BBC, 13 February 2010 –BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin interviews Phil Jones, then director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

    Question: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?
    Dr. Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level.

    Does the Global Warming Pause in the Last Decade: 1999-2008?“, Shaowu Wang et al, Advances in Climate Change Research, issue #1 2010 — “Issues related to the pause of global warming in the last decade are reviewed.”

    Climate science: Decadal predictions in demand“, Mark A. Cane, Nature Geoscience, 21 March 2010 — Free copy here. “Over the past decade, the mean global temperature did not rise much, if at all. This pause in global warming cannot be attributed to cutbacks in greenhouse-gas emissions by the planet’s human population, so it must be nature taking a turn towards colder temperatures.”

    Reconciling anthropogenic climate change with observed temperature 1998–2008“, Robert K. Kaufmann et at, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 19 July 2011 — “Given the widely noted increase in the warming effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations, it has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008.”

    Model-based evidence of deep-ocean heat uptake during surface-temperature hiatus periods“, Gerald A. Meehl et al, Nature Climate Change, 18 September 2011 –”There have been decades, such as 2000–2009, when the observed globally averaged surface-temperature time series shows little positive or even slightly negative trend (a hiatus period).”

    Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (Globe & Mail, 13 October 2012): “The data does suggest a plateau, he admitted, and without a major El Nino event – the sudden, dramatic warming of the southern Pacific which takes place unpredictably and always has a huge effect on global weather – ‘it could go on for a while’.”

    Professor Judith Curry (Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology), posted at her website, Climate Etc, 14 October 2012: “The data confirms the existence of a ‘pause’ in the warming. ”

    Statement by the UK Met Office on their website, 14 October 2012: “We agree with Mr Rose that there has been only a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century. As stated in our response, this is 0.05 degrees Celsius since 1997 equivalent to 0.03 degrees Celsius per decade.”

    Retrospective prediction of the global warming slowdown in the past decade“, Virginie Guemas et al, Nature Climate Change, 7 April 2013 — “Despite a sustained production of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, the Earth’s mean near-surface temperature paused its rise during the 2000–2010 period.”

    Strengthening of ocean heat uptake efficiency associated with the recent climate hiatus“, Masahiro Watanabe1 et al, Geophysical Research Letters, 10 June 2013 — “The rate of increase of global-mean surface air temperature (SATg) has apparently slowed during the last decade. We investigated the extent to which state-of-the-art general circulation models (GCMs) can capture this hiatus period by using multimodel ensembles of historical climate simulations.”

    Hans von Storch, in Der Spiegel, 20 June 2013: “So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We’re facing a puzzle. … In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero.” He is a Professor at the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg, and Director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the Helmholtz Research Centre.

    From the Second Order Draft (SOD) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Chapter 2: Observations: Atmosphere and Surface

    Much interest has focussed on differences in the period since 1998 and an apparent flattening in HadCRUT3 trends. … all products now show a warming trend since 1998

    • HadCRUT: 0.055 °C per decade;
    • MLOST: 0.042 °C per decade;
    • GISS: 0.093 °C per decade.

    None of these are statistically significant.

  10. Butler: “The ‘pause in warming since roughly 2000′ phrase is just another lie by Global Warming Deniers.”

    Are journalists at the world’s major news organizations also “deniers”? They have reported these developments in climate science during the past four years.

    1. What happened to global warming?“, BBC, 9 October 2009
    2. World will ‘cool for the next decade’“, New Scientist, 9 September 2009 — Summary of forecasts about decadal cooling (e.g., “Advancing decadal-scale climate prediction in the North Atlantic sector“, Mojib Latif et al, Nature, 1 May 2008
    3. Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out“, Der Spiegel, 19 November 2009
    4. World may not be warming, say scientists“, The Times, 14 February 2010
    5. “While global temperatures are the highest they’ve been since formal records began in the 19th century, warming has largely stalled since 1998.”, Andrew Revkin, journalist covering climate science for the New York Times, at the NYT’s Dot Earth, 9 January 2013
    6. Twenty-year hiatus in rising temperatures has climate scientists puzzled“, The Australian, 30 March 2013 — “Debate about the reality of a two-decade pause in global warming and what it means has made its way from the sceptical fringe to the mainstream.”
    7. A sensitive matter“, The Economist, 30 March 2013 — “Over the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. … The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now.”
    8. Whither global warming? Has global warming slowed down?“, David Appell (science writer), YaleClimateMediaForum, 17 May 2013 — “The so-called warming ‘hiatus’ over the past decade and a half is no reason for complacency on future warming. Mathematics teaches us that 15 years is simply too short a period from which to draw statistically valid conclusions.”
    9. Climate slowdown means extreme rates of warming ‘not as likely’“, BBC, 19 May 2013 — “Since 1998, there has been an unexplained “standstill” in the heating of the Earth’s atmosphere. Writing in Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this will reduce predicted warming in the coming decades. But long-term, the expected temperature rises will not alter significantly”
    10. What to Make of a Warming Plateau“, New York Times, 10 June 2013
    11. Global Warming Hiatus: Where Did the Heat Go?”, The New Republic, 18 June 2013 — Prof Curry’s review is here.
    12. Why Is Global Warming Stagnating? An interview with Han von Storch“, Der Spiegel, 20 June 2013 — “Climate experts have long predicted that temperatures would rise in parallel with greenhouse gas emissions. But for 15 years they haven’t. Meteorologist Hans von Storch discusses how this ‘puzzle’ might force scientists to alter what could be ‘fundamentally wrong’ models.” See his Wikipedia bio.
    13. Study opens new cracks in scientific front on climate change“, Gerard Wynn (columnist), Reuters, 21 June 2013
  11. MMT is not about theory, it is about accurate description of how money flows, how is created and what are implications of that, even tough there are some theories in MMT that were tested and used many times within a banking system somwhere in the world at some times. Those theories are about how to include them within present US monetary system, what effects of it would be within such system and how to control it. The theories were used in other parts of the world and at other times in US history.

    The way those theories were used and descriptions of how economy acted under them is what is being hidden from public.It is the way it was described that makes you think that those are never used, untested theories.
    1. Printing money to save banks/ QE?
    Done almost constantly and at least every decade.
    2. FED controling interest rates?
    That is its primary job.
    3. Banks creating money?
    It is in the nature of banks.

    4.Ultra easy money?
    Money is so easy that credits are given to any breathing soul? Is it, really? Like it is used to?
    Money is not easy right now for the banks, not as easy as it used to.
    You have a wrong perception of what is going on and importance of it.

    Velocity chart?
    it is a side detraction from what is really pointing to the economic growth.
    One single chart that decides the economic growth is acceleration of credit creation.

    Wanna know the trend on Wall Street? Watch margin debt acceleration, it is a high corelation and causation of rise in stock prices.

    Credit cration (money creation) is what decides spending in an economy.
    Credit is easy for banks but is not easy for spenders that are in debt to the gills.
    Loans to spenders is what pulls back future income (future spending, future production) to be spend today.
    Such credit creation (money printing) is causing inflation which makes loan servicing easier and grows income in total which erases the expenses of debt. It is inching the prosperity higher over time.

    But if credit is created for sole purpose of inflating the prices of assets (like house prices) income has to be raised or loan terms (monthly payments) have to be eased in order to enjoy the benefits of credit creation (money printing). That is only thing that have to be sustained in fiat money systems; Cash flow from surplus to deficit factors. Either by raising wages or by easing loan terms, either way works. Sometimes that is called fiscal transfers.
    In 2008, that stoped either from fears or purposefull game by oligarchs.

    1. “MMT is … about accurate description of how money flows, how is created and what are implications of that”

      I believe such a thing in economics is called a “theory”.

    2. ? To what do you refer?

      Science are laws and theories. I don’t believe economics as yet has any laws (opinions can differ on this, of course).

      “The ‘Laws of Economics’ Don’t Exist”
      Our debates about immigration, budgets, and debt are framed by ideas of supply, demand, and growth that are more like guidelines than ironclad rules
      ZACHARY KARABELL, The Atlantic, 11 APRIL 2013
      http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/the-laws-of-economics-dont-exist/274901/

    3. The real distinction between MMT and other economic theories is that only MMT takes money flow into account while other economists consider only goods and services and assume that prices represent real value of it and barley bother with money issues.

      Thre unbreakable laws from MMT are;
      1. My spending is someone elses income.
      2. Money does not cross borders except in our pockets (suitcases). Not trough institutions like FED, Treasury or banks. No sallary/wages gets paid in foreign currency, no cash register (in normal countries) accepts foreign currency.
      3. Government sector + private sector + external sector = 0. Someone have to be in deficit in order for other(s) to be in surplus.

      Government surplus demands external sector surplus or private sectors deficits. That is why Clinton’s surpluses put private sector into deficit while external was in deficit and were the major cause of present depression. Private sector was in deficcit but it funded the economic growth by major growth in debt.
      Every major recession was marked by earlier private sector in deficit.

      Any conclusion in MMT comes from these three monetary laws. Three laws that everyone knows but rarely bother to apply.

    4. If MMT tells you that banks record a credit as the liability and as the asset, is that a Theory? And that such credit is based on 10% reserve that is placed on FEDs books as asset and liability at the same time, and those requierd reserves (that can not be used untill requireing credit is distinguished but credit growth provides that such reserves will never not be requierd) are used to buy Treasuries which means only replacing one asset with another on their books. Is that a theory?
      If MMT tells you that banking is based on double accounting booking, is that a theory?
      If you conclude from such facts that money we use is a debt of the state that issued it as per double accounting facts and then gave the power to banks to fractionaly multiply it, is that a theory?
      If, from those facts you conclude that state surplus is destruction of money, while deficit is creation of money, is that a theory?
      If, from those facts, you conclude that paying taxes is destruction of money and state spending is cration of money, is that a theory?

      When you issue your own IOU and it gets repaid, what do you do with such IOU asset (paper) that you got back? do you tear it up or use it to get into another contract with another person?
      Money is state’s IOUs that banks cut it up, erased time limit (maturity) and lent it to public for exchange use. That is what history of money says. Is history a theory? (There is a lot of money spent to obfuscate such facts “for benefit of the society” or “public can not take the truth”)

      Lot more details at http://mikenormaneconomics.blogspot.com/ or http://moslereconomics.com originator of MMT.
      To generalise on MMT; MMT is just Keynes with money motive, money flow as central to economic teaching, not as “economics focusing on the determination of prices, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand, “

  12. Let me explain what fiscal transfers mean and what sustainable monetary policy implys by it.

    Fiscal transfers are constant flows from surplus to deficit factors. Either by growth in income or by increasing debt (which can not last forever but it did since 1975 till 2008, that’s 33 years of increasing debt in USA which replaced income growth as fiscal transfer mechanism)

    I gave the name Nominal Surplus Circulation (NSC) to that flow which decides an economy.
    Surplus as in money i earned but spent on someone else or gave to someone else, surplus in monetary accounting sense, not in Marxist surplus value sense.

    Every parent is a surplus creator and kids are deficit factors in household accounting unit. But there is no such record of how much surplus is spent or given to deficit units. So we do not know amount of total debt as we know for state’s debts.

    Every city has permanent deficit and permanent surplus areas. Industrial zone is surplus and housing is permanent deficit area within a city accounting unit. But there is no record of total debt of deficit areas that they received more then they payed.

    Every county has permanent surplus and permanent deficit cities, but there is no record of total debt within a county (surplus given to the deficit factors).

    Every state has permanent surplus and permanent deficit counties but ther eis no record of total debt of deficit counties to surplus counties within state accounting.

    Every country has permanent surplus and deficit states or regions and there are records of total surplus given to deficit states, but does anyone care to look for it.

    Every single currency (money pegget by gold or to another currency) has permanent surplus and permanent deficit countries and everyone is worried about it. Why?

    Every low wage worker or poor is a permanent deficit factor while wealthy and corporations are permanent surplus factors and it is a matter of capitalism to be so. Both factors can be sustained by permanent transfer of surplus to deficit factor, only. Either by income growth or by temporary debt growth.

    This is from Circuit theory of money by MMT, but never described so simply.

    This is why credit creation (money printing) acceleration is what decides economic growth; credit is given to direct spenders into economyand it has to be faster then credit payoff (money destruction).

    QE is only about saving banks so that economy does not collapse as it did in Great Depression, it is not about recovery. Recovery will come with spender’s (poor) income growth or reduction of their debt by debt forgivness (or by inflation at fixed rate debt), not by increasing saver’s (wealthy who do not spend into economy) income (deflation effect) which QE is about a lot.

    If you doubt that credit creation is money printing check Fractional reserve banking.

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