Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy

Summary: The climate refuses to warm as predicted, the IPCC refuses to endorse claims of extreme climate, public supports fades, and the Left grows desperate. So they use their influence in the media to punish any deviance from their orthodoxy. Nate Silver and Roger Pielke Jr are the latest to feel their wrath. See the links to other posts in this series in section 8.

Paraphrasing an ancient legal aphorism:

When the facts are against you, argue the theory.
When the theory is against you, argue the facts.
When both are against you, loudly smear your opponent.

Truth in science
Designed by Idea Tree Inc

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The arbiter of good journalism speaks
  3. A typical attack from the Left
  4. Krugman is loyal to his tribe, not science
  5. Rare, brave defenders speak out
  6. A climate scientist looks at the commentary
  7. Update: peer-reviewed research on this issue
  8. For More Information

(1)  Introduction

Pity Nate Silver. Hero of the Left for his successful take-down of GOP’s election forecasts, shooting down their delusions about Romney’s chances of victory. Good Leftists like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman heaped praises on Silver, catapulting him into a sweet gig at ESPN. The poor guy thought the applause was for his use of numbers in pursuit in truth, when it was purely tribal. Their applause were just tribal grunts — we good, they bad — in effect chanting…

“Two legs good. Four legs bad.”

Right out of the box at his new venture, ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Silver committed apostasy, and the Left reacted with the fury true believers mete out to their betrayers. He posted “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change” by Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder), 19 March 2014. Also see his follow-up article, with more detail.

(Note that Brad DeLong was originally mentioned above in error. He praised Silver’s election reporting, but had not written about Pielke Jr’s 538 article at the time of this post. He has since joined the Left’s lynch mob, displaying their indifference to the climate science literature.)

(2) The arbiter of good journalism speaks

FiveThirtyEight’s disappointing science section“, By Alexis Sobel Fitts, Columbia Journalism Review, 2014 — ” Science journalism could use an infusion of analysis, but FiveThirtyEight isn’t yet doing it rigorously or objectively.”

The internet hates Nate Silver today — at least the small quotient closely following the launch of his new site, FiveThirtyEight, this week—and with ample reason. When Silver wrote, “It’s time to make news a little nerdier,” in his site-launch manifesto, he was issuing a call to arms against the mainstream press. Because by nerdier, he really meant better. “Plenty of pundits have really high IQs, but they don’t have any discipline in how they look at the world,” he told New York magazine last week, promising to produce a site free of such “bullshit.”

But it’s always risky to bite the hand that publicizes you …

.

FiveThirtyEight's Fox
FiveThirtyEight’s Fox

That’s why so many writers have been concerned about FiveThirtyEight’s climate writer, Roger Pielke, Jr, a University of Colorado professor, who ThinkProgress once called “the most debunked person in the science blogosphere, possibly the entire Web.” {blogger Joe Romm, 24 October 2009}

Though Pielke has a deep pool of knowledge about climate change, as The Week has chronicled, he also has strong personal opinions and a history of using data to back them up against the larger scientific community. President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren, has “accused [Pielke] of selective quotation and obfuscation,” and though Pielke claims to believe in climate change, Foreign Policy has included him on its list of climate skeptics.

… Pielke’s first post for the site covers the link between climate change and extreme weather—or lack thereof: “Disasters Cost More Than Ever—But Not Because of Climate Change.” In the post, he first shows the rising rate of global disaster losses, then adjusts the figure for the rise in global GDP — showing that global disaster losses have actually flatlined. “We’re seeing ever-larger losses simply because we have more to lose — when an earthquake or flood occurs, more stuff gets damaged,” writes Pielke. Which is an interesting point, but not relevant to climate change.

This is daft on many levels. First the author’s belief that journalists — Christina Larson and Joshua Keating — and climate activists like Joe Romm are qualified to evaluate climate scientists.

Second, how can anyone take seriously Romm’s statement that Pielke is “the most debunked person in the science blogosphere”? That Fitts considers Romm’s statement to be evidence tells us much about CJR’s objectivity.  Fitts also cite an article in Foreign Policy, which classic hack journalism. It gives allegations without context (e.g. they cite statements by Pielke as “skepticism” without defining the term, or telling readers he’s re-stating conclusions of the IPPC).

Third, they dismiss Pielke’s research as “not relevant to climate change.” Which is correct. But Pielke is trained as a political scientist, and the increasing damages from weather is cited as evidence by those seeking public policy changes.

Fourth, consider the CJR’s opening indictment: “he {Pielke} also has strong personal opinions and a history of using data to back them up against the larger scientific community”. That’s a description of good science, and many of great scientists. It equally applies to climate scientists far more politically active (e.g., James Hanson and Michael E. Mann).

(3)  A typical attack from the Left

(a) Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and the dangers of being ideologically neutral“, Ryan Cooper (journalist), The Week, 19 March 2014. This is worth a detailed look.

“By claiming the mantle of pure analysis, Silver is falling into a familiar journalistic trap. … In an attempt to focus solely on objective analysis, Silver is ignoring one of the hardest-won journalistic lessons of the last decade — there is no such thing as ideology-free journalism.”

That’s what right-wingers have long said about journalists. Odd that if journalists know this, they don’t label their articles with the the writers’ ideology to provide transparency and disclosure.

“That kind of squid-ink careerist nonsense …”

Perhaps Ryan Cooper believes his ideology empowers him to judge disputes between scientists. It’s a common delusion of journalists. As C. S. Lewis said:

“He is like a dog which should imagine it understood fire-arms because its hunting instinct and love for its master enable it to enjoy a day’s shooting.”

The rest is inspired guessing posing as journalism.

(b)  Hysteria takes hold on the Left; they swarm in defense of their orthodoxy

It’s a Two Minute Hate!  It’s sad to see how the Left has decayed in America, so that this is what they consider to be rational thought — mirroring a similar decay on the Right. Both sides clearly see this in their opponents, and laugh. America cries.

  1. Thursday Idiocy: Fabius Micromus” posted at Loyal to the Group of Seventeen, 27 March 2014. I posted a brief analysis in the comments. Quite interesting, in a silly way. He posts the comment thread with DeLong. He considers it “idiocy”, but doesn’t say why.
  2. Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) applauds. Again, he doesn’t explain. True believers don’t ask questions during the Two Minute Hate.
  3. The Launch of fivethirtyeight.com and Climate Change Disaster Weblogging: (Trying to Be) The Honest Broker for the Week of March 29, 2014“. By honest broker he means misrepresenting what I said, and substituting his judgement for the peer-reviewed literature about this issue. Plus lots of smears.

In these posts we see how the politics of climate change has become a cacophony, poisonous and ineffectual. Which is fine for the Right, who wants nothing done, but defeat for the Left.

(4) Krugman is loyal to his tribe, not science

Tarnished Silver“, blog of the NY Times, 23 March 2014 — Excerpt:

Similarly, climate science has been developed by many careful researchers who are every bit as good at data analysis as Silver, and know the physics too, so ignoring them and hiring a known irresponsible skeptic to cover the field is a very good way to discredit your enterprise.

A social scientist like Krugman knows quite well that scientists in a field routinely disagree. That’s how science advances. Citing these disputes with no reference to consensus opinion is just smearing Pielke for the public. Especially when so much of what Pielke writes defending the IPCC’s work (alluded to in the activist’s post Krugman cites; also note the correction at the end).

Note how Leftists cite articles at hard-core activist websites like Skeptical Science and ThinkProgress as gospel. Would Krugman want laypeople to judge his work — and the mainstream of economics — from economists cited in a conservative’s blog?

Also, we see here a larger phenomenon: these days the IPCC seldom appears in Leftists’ articles, except to mention that its insufficiently alarmist.

(5)  Rare, brave defenders speak out (updated)

(a) In defense of Nate Silver“, Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, 20 March 2014 — “FiveThirtyEight’s critics are unhinged. If Silver’s data-driven approach gets in the way of your political aims, so much the better.” Excerpt:

Silver is plainly right that a kind of innumeracy pervades journalism. Many journalists don’t know how to evaluate academic studies. If, occasionally, Silver’s empirical research gets in the way of your ideological priors, you have an opportunity to rethink them. He’s done you a favor, not a disservice.

James Hanley
James Hanley

(b) In the Eye of the Storm“, James Hanley (Assoc Prof of Political Science, Adrian College), Ordinary Times, 10 May 2014 — Conclusion:

It seems that a peaceful, non-vitriolic discussion of AGW is not possible in today’s political climate — not even if you correctly quote the IPCC reports.

(6)  A climate scientist looks at the commentary

Judith Curry (Prof Atmospheric Science, GA Inst Tech) posted a lengthy review of this fight at her website. Excerpt:

The post is vintage Roger Pielke Jr, citing results from the IPCC SREX and using data from SwissRe. RP Jr’s post at 538 has elicited what is probably the most reprehensible and contemptible smear job that I have ever seen of a scientist, at least from an organization that has any pretense of respectability.  Kiley Kroh of ClimateProgress has a post entitled Nate Silver’s New Science Writer Ignores the Data on Climate Science.

… In this article, there is not a single critique of anything RP Jr actually said in his 538 post.  Before looking at the author of the post, I assumed it was either Joe Romm or Michael Mann, since it has their unmistakable hatchet job signature.  Instead, the author is Kiley Kroh, co-editor of Climate Progress. … ClimateProgress is an element of  ThinkProgress, a liberal American political blog that is an outlet for the Center for American Progress. CAP’s first President and CEO was John Podesta, who is now a Special Advisor to the Obama Administration (and also Chairman of the Board of CAP).

Pielke Jr’s analyses are clearly inconvenient to the political agenda of Obama/Holdren/Podesta.  RP Jr. has written on this topic at the New Republic An Obama Advisor is Attacking me for Testifying That Climate Change Hasn’t Increased Extreme Weather.

… Well as recently as 5 years ago, I never thought I’d live to see the day when I am very grateful that I have tenure at a university, which provides my job with some protection against politically inconvenient scientific analyses.

(7)  Peer-reviewed research on this issue

Pielke’s research is not only in accord with the findings of the IPCC, but is also supported by a body of peer-reviewed research. Red emphasis added.

(a)  Some of Pielke’s papers on this topic:

  1. Emergence timescales for detection of anthropogenic climate change in US tropical cyclone loss data“, RP Crompton, RA Pielke and KJ McAneney, Environmental Research Letters, January-March 2011
  2. Historical Global Tropical Cyclone Landfalls“, J Weinkle, R Maue and R Pielke, Journal of Climate, 1 July 2012.
  3. Normalized tornado damage in the United States: 1950-2011“, KM Simmons, D Sutter and R Pielke, Environmental Hazards 12 (2) (2013)

(b)  A review of the literature: “Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?“, Laurens Bouwer, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, January 2011 — Abstract:

The increasing impact of natural disasters over recent decades has been well documented, especially the direct economic losses and losses that were insured. Claims are made by some that climate change has caused more losses, but others assert that increasing exposure due to population and economic growth has been a much more important driver. Ambiguity exists today, as the causal link between climate change and disaster losses has not been addressed in a systematic manner by major scientific assessments.

Here I present a review and analysis of recent quantitative studies on past increases in weather disaster losses and the role of anthropogenic climate change. Analyses show that although economic losses from weather related hazards have increased, anthropogenic climate change so far did not have a significant impact on losses from natural disasters. The observed loss increase is caused primarily by increasing exposure and value of capital at risk.

This finding is of direct importance for studies on impacts from extreme weather and for disaster policy. Studies that project future losses may give a better indication of the potential impact of climate change on disaster losses and needs for adaptation, than the analysis of historical losses.

(c) Normalizing economic loss from natural disasters: A global analysis“, Eric Neumayer and Fabian Barthel, Global Environmental Change, February 2011 — Abstract:

Climate change is likely to lead to an increase in the frequency and/or intensity of certain types of natural hazards, if not globally, then at least in certain regions. All other things equal, this should lead to an increase in the economic toll from natural disasters over time. Yet, all other things are not equal since affected areas become wealthier over time and rational individuals and governments undertake defensive mitigation measures, which requires normalizing economic losses if one wishes to analyze trends in economic loss from natural disasters for detecting a potential climate change signal.

In this article, we argue that the conventional methodology for normalizing economic loss is problematic since it normalizes for changes in wealth over time, but fails to normalize for differences in wealth across space at any given point of time. We introduce an alternative methodology that overcomes this problem in theory, but faces many more problems in its empirical application. Applying, therefore, both methods to the most comprehensive existing global dataset of natural disaster loss, in general we find no significant upward trends in normalized disaster damage over the period 1980–2009 globally, regionally, for specific disasters or for specific disasters in specific regions.

Due to our inability to control for defensive mitigation measures, one cannot infer from our analysis that there have definitely not been more frequent and/or more intensive weather-related natural hazards over the study period already. Moreover, it may still be far too early to detect a trend if human-induced climate change has only just started and will gain momentum over time.

(d)  Not peer-reviewed, but an excellent guide for laypeople to the research: “What is driving the rising cost of natural disasters?“, Prof John McAneney and Dr. Ryan Crompton (Macquarie U), Trébol Magazine, 2013 — Opening:

It is a widely held view that climate change arising from human activity is increasing the cost of natural disasters. This perception is false. While it is undeniable that the economic cost of natural disasters is rising rapidly, it is doing so because of growing concentrations of population and wealth in disaster-prone regions. So far studies of long-term insurance or economic disaster loss histories caused by extreme weather — tropical cyclones, floods, bushfires (wildfires) and storms — have been unable to identify a contribution from human-induced climate change. This is true for many different natural perils and across jurisdictions.

(e) Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives“, Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz et al, Hydrological Sciences Journal, March 2014 — Abstract:

A holistic perspective on changing rainfall-driven flood risk is provided for the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Economic losses from floods have greatly increased, principally driven by the expanding exposure of assets at risk. It has not been possible to attribute rain-generated peak streamflow trends to anthropogenic climate change over the past several decades.

Projected increases in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall, based on climate models, should contribute to increases in precipitation-generated local flooding (e.g. flash flooding and urban flooding). This article assesses the literature included in the IPCC SREX report and new literature published since, and includes an assessment of changes in flood risk in seven of the regions considered in the recent IPCC SREX report — Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, Oceania and Polar regions.

Also considering newer publications, this article is consistent with the recent IPCC SREX assessment finding that the impacts of climate change on flood characteristics are highly sensitive to the detailed nature of those changes and that presently we have only low confidence in numerical projections of changes in flood magnitude or frequency resulting from climate change.

(8) For More Information

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(a)  Other posts in this series:

  1. America swings to the Right. The Left loses. How has the Left dug itself into this hole?, 28 March 2014
  2. The Left stages a two minute hate on Nate Silver, Roger Pielke Jr (& me), 29 March 2014

(b)  Posts about the Left’s crusade about climate change:

  1. Kevin Drum talks about global warming, shows why the Left’s credibility has collapsed, 17 October 2012
  2. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
  3. Climate change sinks the Left, while scientists unravel mysteries we must solve, 24 January 2014
  4. Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins, 29 January 2014
  5. Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014
  6. The Left sees “Climate buffoons” and “deniers”. What do they see in the mirror?, 7 March 2014
  7. This is what defeat looks like for the Left, and perhaps also for environmentalists, 17 March 2014

(b)  Some examples of the Left’s exaggerations and misinformation about climate change:

  1. Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole., 10 December 2012
  2. Kevin Drum talks about global warming, illustrating the collapse of the Left’s credibility, 17 December 2012
  3. Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change, 12 December 2012 — More from Phil Plait
  4. Fierce words about those “wacky professional climate change deniers”, 20 January 2013
  5. A powerful story about global warming in Alaska that has set Twitter aflame, 23 June 2013
  6. The North Pole is now a lake! Are you afraid yet?, 3 August 2013
  7. Climate science deniers on the Left, captured for viewing, 29 September 2013
  8. Why the Left is losing: another example of incompetent marketing, 26 February 2014

(c)  Speculation about the consequences of blowback from the Left’s crusade:

  1. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013
  2. Climate change sinks the Left, while scientists unravel mysteries we must solve, 24 January 2014
  3. Watch the Left burn away more of its credibility, then wonder why the Right wins, 29 January 2014
  4. What does the American public want done to fight climate change?, 2 February 2014
  5. Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility, 4 February 2014

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38 thoughts on “Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy

  1. Ummm…

    Re: “Pity Nate Silver. Hero of the Left for his successful take-down of GOP’s election forecasts, shooting down their delusions about Romney’s chances of victory. Good Leftists like Brad DeLong… heaped praises on Silver, catapulting him into a sweet gig at ESPN. The poor guy thought the applause was for his use of numbers in pursuit in truth, when it was purely tribal. Their applause were just tribal grunts — we good, they bad — in effect chanting…”

    Are you referring to anything I have written, or are you just being a bullshit artist again?

    Yours,

    Brad DeLong

    Like

    1. Professor DeLong,

      Thank you for posting a comment. Especially since you flag an error in this post, which is always appreciated. I said:

      ” Good Leftists like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman heaped praises on Silver … Their applause were just tribal grunt.”

      This clearly implies both you and Krugman (“their”), which is incorrect (I don’t believe you stepped into this debate, and by “their” referred to “Leftists”). Sloppy writing, which I will correct, and for which I apologize.

      As a side note, do you find that opening correspondence with unsupported personal insults (“bullshit artist”) improves communication? What does it accomplish? Is it in an update to the MLA style guide?

      Like

    2. Professor DeLong,

      I borrowed a practice from your blog which has proved worthwhile. At the top menu bar is a “Smackdown” page button, listing my major mistakes.

      This post’s mistake is sloppy writing, and so this doesn’t go on the roster. But haing the Smackdown Page encourages me to be more careful when writing. It’s too long, and I want it grow as slowly as possible.

      Like

  2. Thank you for acknowledging that your initial claim that I had turned on Nate Silver because he no longer flattered my political view of the world was bullshit, and for using the [strike] tag.

    Now may I please ask you what was the train of thought that made you make the claim in the first place?

    And my I ask you if you find that opening discussion with unsupported false claims for which you can adduce no evidence at all improves communication? What does it accomplish? Is it an update to the MLA style guide?

    Yours,

    Brad DeLong

    Like

    1. Prof DeLong,

      “Now may I please ask you what was the train of thought that made you make the claim in the first place?”

      I did explain that in my original reply to you. I’ll repeat, re-phrasing slightly. In the post I said…

      ”Good Leftists like Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman heaped praises on Silver, catapulting him into a sweet gig at ESPN. The poor guy thought the applause was for his use of numbers in pursuit in truth, when it was purely tribal. Their applause were just tribal grunts.”

      My intent was that “their” referred to “Leftists”. But it is easy to read “their” as referring to both you and Krugman. It was sloppy writing,

      “my {sic} I ask you if you find that opening discussion with unsupported false claims for which you can adduce no evidence ”

      A difference between us is that I don’t say things like that without giving an example as evidence, with a citation and/or a link. If I had intended to say that about you, I would have given an example.

      “or are you just being a bullshit artist again?”

      Lots of fun things to be said about someone (no matter how brilliant or knowledgeable) who considers that a rational opening comment. I think I’ll just leave it there. Readers can draw their own conclusions about your judgement.

      Like

    2. I’ve changed the text of the post back to the original version, as DeLong has joined the lynch mob on Nate Silver, 538, and Roger Pielke Jr. See the comments above for links.

      While the language was imprecise, the unintended alternative meaning proved correct: both Krugman and DeLong praised Silver’s analytical journalism when he attacked the GOP, but when hysterical when used against their dogma. Sad, really. Tomorrow’s post has more about this.

      Like

  3. I think before assuming that Roger Pielke Jr. has all the correct answers, one might refer directly to the data that Pielke cites, with a slightly more critical eye. The Munich RE data shows something very interesting that punches a huge hole in Pielke’s main argument.

    The red bars indicate the number of geophysical events, which appear fairly flat as one would expect. These events are earthquake, tsunami and other non-meteorologically driven disasters. However, the other bars are weather related, and the sharp increase in their numbers is completely ignored by Pielke.

    I have no problem with scientists outside of the climatology fields challenging the findings of those “inside” the climate fields. However, when they omit consequential data because it doesn’t agree with their viewpoint, then it’s apparent that forces other then the truth are behind their arguments.

    Like

    1. Steve,

      Everybody picks the sources they like. You can run with Munich Re, who has a direct financial interest in convincing people that storm losses are skyrocketing so they can raise rates.

      I will go with the peer-reviewed research, including Pielke’s, which matches the IPCC’s conclusions.

      Like

    2. Steve,

      Also, other peer-reviewed research comes to similar conclusions as Pielke’s. Such as this, which uses Munich Re’s data: “Normalizing economic loss from natural disasters: A global analysis“, Eric Neumayer and Fabian Barthel, Global Environmental Change, February 2011 — Abstract:

      Climate change is likely to lead to an increase in the frequency and/or intensity of certain types of natural hazards, if not globally, then at least in certain regions. All other things equal, this should lead to an increase in the economic toll from natural disasters over time. Yet, all other things are not equal since affected areas become wealthier over time and rational individuals and governments undertake defensive mitigation measures, which requires normalizing economic losses if one wishes to analyze trends in economic loss from natural disasters for detecting a potential climate change signal.

      In this article, we argue that the conventional methodology for normalizing economic loss is problematic since it normalizes for changes in wealth over time, but fails to normalize for differences in wealth across space at any given point of time. We introduce an alternative methodology that overcomes this problem in theory, but faces many more problems in its empirical application. Applying, therefore, both methods to the most comprehensive existing global dataset of natural disaster loss, in general we find no significant upward trends in normalized disaster damage over the period 1980–2009 globally, regionally, for specific disasters or for specific disasters in specific regions.

      Due to our inability to control for defensive mitigation measures, one cannot infer from our analysis that there have definitely not been more frequent and/or more intensive weather-related natural hazards over the study period already. Moreover, it may still be far too early to detect a trend if human-induced climate change has only just started and will gain momentum over time.

      By the way, do you always use big corporation’s research about their biz as your go-to source of information?

      Like

    3. Steve,

      Here is a review of the literature “Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change?“, Laurens Bouwer, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, January 2011 — Abstract:

      The increasing impact of natural disasters over recent decades has been well documented, especially the direct economic losses and losses that were insured. Claims are made by some that climate change has caused more losses, but others assert that increasing exposure due to population and economic growth has been a much more important driver. Ambiguity exists today, as the causal link between climate change and disaster losses has not been addressed in a systematic manner by major scientific assessments.

      Here I present a review and analysis of recent quantitative studies on past increases in weather disaster losses and the role of anthropogenic climate change. Analyses show that although economic losses from weather related hazards have increased, anthropogenic climate change so far did not have a significant impact on losses from natural disasters. The observed loss increase is caused primarily by increasing exposure and value of capital at risk.

      This finding is of direct importance for studies on impacts from extreme weather and for disaster policy. Studies that project future losses may give a better indication of the potential impact of climate change on disaster losses and needs for adaptation, than the analysis of historical losses.

      Like

    4. Steve,

      More research. Different scientists. Same conclusions.

      (1) Not peer-reviewed, but an excellent guide for laypeople to the research: “What is driving the rising cost of natural disasters?“, Prof John McAneney and Dr. Ryan Crompton (Macquarie U), Trébol Magazine, 2013 — Opening:

      It is a widely held view that climate change arising from human activity is increasing the cost of natural disasters. This perception is false. While it is undeniable that the economic cost of natural disasters is rising rapidly, it is doing so because of growing concentrations of population and wealth in disaster-prone regions. So far studies of long-term insurance or economic disaster loss histories caused by extreme weather — tropical cyclones, floods, bushfires (wildfires) and storms — have been unable to identify a contribution from human-induced climate change. This is true for many different natural perils and across jurisdictions.

      (2) Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives“, Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz et al, Hydrological Sciences Journal, March 2014 — Abstract:

      A holistic perspective on changing rainfall-driven flood risk is provided for the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Economic losses from floods have greatly increased, principally driven by the expanding exposure of assets at risk. It has not been possible to attribute rain-generated peak streamflow trends to anthropogenic climate change over the past several decades.

      Projected increases in the frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall, based on climate models, should contribute to increases in precipitation-generated local flooding (e.g. flash flooding and urban flooding). This article assesses the literature included in the IPCC SREX report and new literature published since, and includes an assessment of changes in flood risk in seven of the regions considered in the recent IPCC SREX report — Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, Oceania and Polar regions.

      Also considering newer publications, this article is consistent with the recent IPCC SREX assessment finding that the impacts of climate change on flood characteristics are highly sensitive to the detailed nature of those changes and that presently we have only low confidence in numerical projections of changes in flood magnitude or frequency resulting from climate change.

      Like

  4. “Also, other peer-reviewed research comes to similar conclusions as Pielke’s. Such as this, which uses Munich Re’s data.”

    URL link missing perhaps?

    Like

    1. guest,

      Wow — thanks for catching that. The citation, link, and abstract is missing from the comment. This whole “cut and paste” thing is sometimes too difficult.

      I added it. And added a second comment, with info on another of the peer-reviewed papers supporting Pielke’s view.

      Like

  5. For those who would like to learn more about this issue, I added a section with links to some peer-reviewed papers by Pielke and others (including a review article, containing many more citations.

    The IPCC has discussed this topic from several perspectives, generally in agreement with Pielke Jr and the others in this field.

    Like

  6. Fabius, I think you are misreading Krugman here. In the post you cite (in which only the one paragraph you quote mentions Pielke) and a later post (which doesn’t mention Pielke at all), Krugman is fairly clear about his problem with Silver’s site. From the older post:

    [D]ata never tell a story on their own. They need to be viewed through the lens of some kind of model, and it’s very important to do your best to get a good model. And that usually means turning to experts in whatever field you’re addressing.

    Unfortunately, Silver seems to have taken the wrong lesson from his election-forecasting success. In that case, he pitted his statistical approach against campaign-narrative pundits, who turned out to know approximately nothing. What he seems to have concluded is that there are no experts anywhere, that a smart data analyst can and should ignore all that.

    I thought of this website when I read that, since the importance of expertise—and the seeming decline in Americans’ willingness to believe that there is such a thing—has been a frequent theme here.

    Krugman’s comments about Pielke might be a tribal reaction, but they are not central to his point, and climate science is not Krugman’s field of expertise (so no one who believes, as he insists, that there are real experts should be putting all that much weight on what he says about it, anyway).

    Like

    1. Coises,

      I agree with your analysis in a broad sense. But his words about Pielke are what they are. IMO these excerpts clearly show that the venom against Silver does not come from methodological differences, or disappointment with his content — but from his apostasy — tribal betrayal.

      As usual here, I show you the evidence. You evaluate and draw your own conclusions — because these are not matters on which certainty is possible.

      My objection to most comments posted here since 2007 is that they ignore the evidence, roughly taking the form that the “ball isn’t blue”. Disagreement with implications of this particular ball being blue is IMO what these comments should be about.

      Like

    2. Coises,

      Another example showing that there’s more to the Left’s criticism of 538 than dissatisfaction with its quality. Most obviously, how often do you see the Left self-enforce high quality standards? Like on the Right, they value ideological conformity more than quality or accuracy. Every day brings its tide of snark from both sides.

      ‘Data’ the buzzword vs. data the actual thing“, Noah Smith (lecturer at Stony Brook U School of Business), at his website, 25 March 2014

      He opens his critique of 538 with a long attack on Pielke’s article, apparently oblivious not only to the peer-reviewed literature supporting Pielke’s article — but that it is in broad agreement with the IPCC’s conclusions.

      Irony alert — Smith expresses outrage that 538 tells him about science that he didn’t know and doesn’t want to know. Which is what Silver set out to do with 538.

      Like

  7. Reply to “Editor of the Fabius Maximus website”

    I simply love your response to my reply above! It’s wonderfully condescending (and the last bit about tobacco, extremely professional!)

    “Steve. Everybody picks the sources they like. You can run with Munich Re, who has a direct financial interest in convincing people that storm losses are skyrocketing so they can raise rates.
    I will go with the peer-reviewed research, including Pielke’s, which matches the IPCC’s conclusions.”

    I actually chose Munich Re because this is Pielke’s source! (guess you missed that).

    Maybe you should read Pielke’s article that you defend so vigorously. He uses Munich Re as his source for his very first graph.

    But actually I should agree with your that Pielke’s sources are suspect! Too funny.

    Like

    1. Steve,

      Yes, Pielke uses the Munich RE data — but gives a more objective analysis. As do the other peer-reviewed studies I cite.

      It is a common practice to use corporate data. But allowing them to analyze it for public policy purposes is daft. Believing their analysis over peer-reviewed research is … I’ll let each reader fill in that blank.

      The comparison with tobacco corp research is an exact comparison. That you give outrage as a rebuttal is just sad. Deserves no further comment.

      You might find mention of obvious conflicts of interest “condescending”. Other people consider them simple good sense.

      Like

    2. Steve,

      Just in case you missed them in the comment stream, I’ve posted links and abstracts to 2 peer-reviewed studies, one peer-reviewed review article, and a review of the literature written by scientists for laypeople. Different scientists. Same conclusions.

      Like

    1. Petty re,

      I think that’s backwards. Totally.

      While the Left has focused environmentalists — and the associated regulatory agencies — on CO2, the oceans are being destroyed and atmospheric pollution spins out of control in the emerging nations.

      We can only guess at the reason for this; my guess is that co2 regulation is more useful. Broader by far, allowing far greater expansion of governments’ regulatory and taxation.

      Like

  8. Another example of tribalism at work, and people’s interesting view of admitting error

    Thursday Idiocy: Fabius Micromus” posted at Loyal to the Group of Seventeen, 27 March 2014.

    This post repeats the thread with Prof DeLong, giving no comment. Apparently it is clear to the author why this is “idiocy”. Since the post does not explain, let’s guess. Perhaps it is a combination of these three factors.

    (1) Perhaps the author never makes mistakes, and consider those who do make mistakes (i.e., everybody else) to be “idiots”. That’s logical — if this blog is written by superman (or superwoman). There is no Smackdowns page on that website, as there is for the FM website.

    (2) Perhaps the author believes that admitting error — fixing errors — and apology for errors — are idiocy. Since the author appears to be Liberal or Left (from a glance at the website), it’s interesting how this mirrors the views of good conservative Bill Quick (as related to us by Major Scarlet). If so, it’s a nice example of the correspondence of thinking by Left and Right in America that I have so often described.

    (3) Perhaps it is pure tribalism. DeLong is a good Leftist, and therefore correct in all things vs. outsiders. Two legs good; four legs bad. Other posts suggest that this is the author’s typical mode of thinking. For example, John Holdren (senior science adviser to the President) and Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO- Boulder) disagreed in their February testimony on the Administration’s Climate Action Plan before the Oversight Subcommittee of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works. The author posts Holdren’s rebuttal to Pielke as “Thursday idiocy” — as if it’s obvious to laypeople which scientist is correct (without seeing Pielke’s testimony or rebuttal).

    C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape letters puts a more charitable spin on this kind of tribalism (ignore the gender bias as an echo from an earlier age; this is a trait of people):

    It is an unobtrusive little vice which she shares with nearly all women who have grown up in an intelligent circle united by a clearly defined belief; and it consists in a quite untroubled assumption that the outsiders who do not share this belief are really too stupid and ridiculous.

    .

    Note: the Group of Seventeen appears in Gene Wolfe’s fantasy series The Book of the New Sun. They are masters of the Ascians — described by Wikipedia as ruling as the people of Oceania are ruled in George Orwell’s book 1984.

    Like

    1. Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) applauds the Group of 17 posts.

      He applauds these posts, which provide not even a pretense of analysis. It’s sad to see how the Left has decayed in America, so that this is what they consider to be rational thought — mirroring a similar decay on the Right. Both sides see this process in their opponents, and laugh.

      Thursday Idiocy: Chuck Lane Edition, and Others

      Like

  9. Oh boy. Delong may be rude, but seriously, this post and thread are both potkettleblacktastic. No doubt there is tribalism in all of us. And Silver remains an astute analyst and able communicator. But the people he hired for 538 are dreadful. I would hope we could see past our tribal affiliations to at least acknowledge that. Maybe the roster has potential but seasoning is lacking. I still love Silver’s stuff. Most people haven’t actually attacked Nate’s writing, which is usually excellent (and not really tribal, so not sure where this even comes from, but whatever, you’ve clearly made your mind up, so no bother…)

    And sorry, but if you are going to attack style before substance, it is not good to leave it to the reader to decide whom to side with. You are going to lose nine out of ten undecideds that way. But I’m sure you don’t see that either. You’re too insecure to lose a battle in hopes of winning a war. That’s probably why you seem so angry and unhappy.

    Like

    1. A. Jones,

      I find your comment confusing.

      (1) “No doubt there is tribalism in all of us.”

      Yes, human characteristics are omnipresent, everywhere in time and space. But not to the same degree. It is this variation in magnitude that creates the ever-changing pageant of history.

      (2) “But the people he hired for 538 are dreadful.”

      Well, if you say so. But that’s not the point of this post. I give specific quotes, and a wide range of material in rebuttal. To which of the material in this post do you object?

      (3) “so not sure where this even comes from, but whatever, you’ve clearly made your mind up, so no bother…)”

      Perhaps the quotations in the post might give you a clue to what I’m objecting. Did you read the post?

      (4) “if you are going to attack style before substance”

      OK, you obviously didn’t read the post. It is about substance; no mention of style.

      (5) “it is not good to leave it to the reader to decide whom to side with. You are going to lose nine out of ten undecideds that way.”

      So there is only the great one way to provide information to the public? I disagree. Most (not all) of what we do on the FM website is journalism: reporting and analysis. I doubt that adding my views contributes much to the material.

      Also, in my experience it’s almost impossible to change people’s minds with a medium like this — so I suspect you views about influencing “undecideds” are unrealistic.

      (6) “But I’m sure you don’t see that either.”

      Just a thought: people can disagree with you about such large — and largely impossible to prove — beliefs without being wrong.

      (7) “You’re too insecure”

      And you do online psychoanalysis too. You are a star!

      (8) “to lose a battle in hopes of winning a war.”

      ???

      (9) “That’s probably why you seem so angry and unhappy.”

      What a nice sentiment! Still, rather than the pretend psych I would prefer that you had read the post. You give no signs of it in this comment.

      Like

  10. Editor

    It is interesting in all the responses from the tribe that not one of them has addressed where Roger is wrong. Like you say, he quotes IPCC and in context. Surely they can show exactly where his mistakes are, rather than making sweeping ad homs. If Roger is wrong, then so is IPCC. Is that an own goal or shooting oneself in the foot?

    Like

    1. Chris,

      Good point!

      Especially note Brad DeLong, who starts off with a graph of rising CO2 — a sure sign of nonsense to follow. There are too many complex links between rising CO2 and weather damage for a single journal article or blog post, many steps of which has a large literature about uncertainties. It’s a catechism, to re-enforce the mandated thinking of followers and discourage heterodox thought.

      Note that DeLong does not look to the climate science literature for analysis of weather damage trends. He does his own amateur analysis, and asks activist scientists for their opinion. Got to keep the followers in line, even if these tactics are failing politically. Priorities!

      Like

    1. James Hanley,

      Since I left High School I lost interest in “sides”. I post based on what people say; I’m interested in the data. Who sits with the Kool Kids in the Cafeteria interests me not at all.

      The FM website has 184 posts about climate change. Journalism (we’re not climate experts) plus analysis of the nature and politics of the debate. Mostly reporting on and defending the work of the IPCC and major climate agencies. Difficult since your “sides” have reduced the debate on this vital issue to a cacophony.

      Of course, the Kool Kids on both sides of the cafeteria are unhappy with this. Examples:

      1. Steve Goodard’s response to my comment describing the mechanics of Google News
      2. 2 posts by Brad DeLong (Prof of economics, Berkeley).
      3. Various two-minute hate sessions in comment threads on websites of both sides. E.g., this weird one by the Leftists at Naked Capitalism; this one by the skeptics at Jeff Condon’s The Air Vent.

      Like

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