Professor Michael Mann destroys the case for massive immediate action on climate change

Summary: The House Science committee heard from three climate scientists. The testimony of the activist, Michael Mann, destroyed the case for strong public policy action to fight climate change. He deserves attention. Sadly, the attention has been on the least important parts of his testimony.

“It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
— From the “Summary for Policy-Makers” of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I. Unfortunately, there is no consensus about the timing and magnitude of future warming.

House Committee on Science Space and Technology
House Committee on Science, Space & Technology.

On March 29 the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method“. The star witness, in terms of public profile, was Michael Mann — Professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at Pennsylvania State. Mann gave a remarkable demonstration of why the 29 year-long climate change campaign has produced such small results. He opens strongly and closes with even more strongly. But his own evidence undercuts his claims.

(1)  A consensus about current adverse impacts of climate change?

Mann opens with this claim, one that has been often said during the past several years.

“The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the U.K., and all of the scientific societies of all of the industrial nations — the more than 30 scientific societies in the U.S. that have weighed in on the matter, and at least 97% of scientist publishing in the field have all concluded, based on the evidence, that that climate change is real, is human-caused, and is already having adverse impacts on us, our economy, and our planet.”

Yes, there is a consensus that climate change is real and largely human-caused. The third claims, about already causing adverse impacts, is quite false — as shown by the three footnotes Mann provides.

1. “Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change” signed by representatives of 11 national science academies in 2005. It says that “Climate change is real.” No mention of current adverse impacts, just “changes in Earth’s climate.” Excerpt…

“However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth’s climate.”

2. “Scientific Consensus on Global Warming” by the Union of Concerned Scientists, undated. Gives excerpts from the statements by many scientific societies. Few mention current “adverse impacts”. The UCS summary…

“However, there is now an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is indeed happening and humans are contributing to it.”

3. “Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming” by John Cook et al in Environmental Research Letters, April 2016. The abstracts says “The consensus that humans are causing recent global warming is shared by 90%–100% of publishing climate scientists according to six independent studies by co-authors of this paper.” It says little about current adverse impacts.

The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars
Available at Amazon.

(2)  Mann’s Serengeti Strategy

“I coined the term “Serengeti Strategy” back in 2012 in The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines to describe how industry special interests who feel threatened by scientific findings — be it tobacco and lung cancer, or fossil fuel burning and climate change — single out individual scientists to attack in much the same way lions of the Serengeti single out an individual zebra from the herd. In numbers there is strength, but individuals are far more vulnerable.

“Science critics will therefore often select a single scientist to ridicule, hector, and intimidate. The presumed purpose is to set an example for other scientists who might consider sticking their neck out by participating in the public discourse over certain matters of policy-relevant science.”

Mann coined the term for this strategy, and activists have used it skillfully and often. It is quite daft to portray himself — lavishly rewarded in fame and income — as a victim. Activists’ victims have not done so well. Roger Pielke Jr. was a professor of environmental science. For accurately describing the conclusions of the IPCC and peer-reviewed research, he is now in the Department of Athletics. For details about this shameful story see The Left stages a two minute hate on Roger Pielke Jr. and Roger Pielke Jr. describes the smear attacks on him.

Mann follows this explanation of the “Serengeti Strategy” with a demonstration of how it works.

“Bates’ allegations were also published on the blog of climate science denier Judith Curry (I use the term carefully — reserving it for those who deny the most basic findings of the scientific community, which includes the fact that human activity is substantially or entirely responsible for the large-scale warming we have seen over the past century”

Normal academic practice would be to support such an incendiary accusation with citations of Curry’s statements that “deny the most basic findings of the scientific community.” Instead he cites a peripheral news story (WaPo: “Scott Pruitt’s office deluged with angry callers after he questions the science of global warming“) and an attack on Curry by an activist scientist (“IPCC attribution statements redux: A response to Judith Curry” by Gavin Schmidt, RealClimate).

Oddly in the Q&A Mann has amnesia about his sworn statement and says “A number of statements have been attributed to me. I don’t believe I’ve called anybody a denier.” Steve McIntyre found some relevant tweets by Mann.

When Mann speaks about the strategy to “ridicule, hector, and intimidate” opponents, he speaks from experience.

Julie Kelly at National Review debunks some of Mann’s testimony, such as this fun trivia (which he could have easily followed afterwards with a correction and apology – but didn’t).

“Turns out Mann appears to be a bit of a denier himself. Under questioning, Mann denied being involved with the Climate Accountability Institute even though he is featured on its website as a board member. CAI is one of the groups pushing a scorched-earth approach to climate deniers, urging lawmakers to employ the RICO statute against fossil-fuel corporations. When asked directly if he was either affiliated or associated with CAI, Mann answered ‘no.’” [Judith Curry notes: Mann also lists this affiliation on his CV.]

This resort to insults plus erroneous statements must eroded Mann’s credibility to any informed and fair observer.

(3) About climate science: Mann destroys his own case

Michael Mann
By Greg Grieco; Wikimedia Commons.

Most of the first 11 pages of Mann’s testimony concerns squabbles between activists and skeptics, mostly about the degree of past warming (about which there is a strong consensus among climate scientists). None of which is of much relevance to the public policy questions of interest to Congress.

Then he skips to the question of climate science of most importance to public policy: how accurate and reliable are climate models? Mann gives a confident answer.

“While we’re at it, let me address another favorite talking point of the critics, the claim that climate models we use to project future climate change are unreliable and untested. The reality is that the models have been tested vigorously and rigorously in numerous ways, and have passed a number of impressive tests in the past, such as James Hansen’s famous successful predictions from the 1980s and 1990s.

“Let me take the opportunity to bring your attention to one particular analysis that appears in the latest issue of Nature Climate Change. Back in 1989, legendary climate scientists Ron Stouffer (a graduate of our program at Penn State I’m proud to say) and Suki Manabe made a prediction not just of the average warming of the globe, but of the precise global pattern of that warming. That pattern matches the observed pattern of warming that has ensued remarkably well.”

He gives two citations to support this massive claim. The first is a blog post: “Hansen’s 1988 projections” by Gavin Schmidt, 15 May 2007. It discusses “Global climate changes as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three-dimensional model” by Hansen et el in Journal of Geophysical Research, 20 August 1988. But if the evidence for this prediction was strong, why has Hansen — or somebody — not published peer-reviewed confirmation. It would be headline news.

The second citation Mann gives is peer-reviewed: “Assessing temperature pattern projections made in 1989” by Ronald J. Stouffer and Syukuro Manabe in Nature Climate Change, March 2017. Mann materially misrepresents the findings. The paper says that limitations in their model cause …

“problems in comparing models to observations and makes the comparisons shown here qualitative in nature. It is one of the reasons why we focus our attention on the geographical distribution of surface temperature change rather than the magnitude of change in this study.”

These are the two strongest citations Mann finds to support models’ forecasts, on the basis which we are supposed to restructure the world economy. On that high note Mann closes his presentation. Nothing in the testimony of the three skeptics proves the weakness of activists’ reasoning as effectively as Mann’s own advocacy.

Conclusions

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth; bio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc

Eventually the weather will determine who wins the public policy debate over climate change, as we do or don’t get a period of extreme weather (which will or will not be caused largely by anthropogenic factors). The current policy gridlock might prove very expensive in its results.

Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions describes how the winners of the climate science debate will be decided. The current paradigm probably will continue to reign unless (or until) a new paradigm arises and replaces it. That usually takes many years, even a generation or more. I do not believe that process of clashing paradigms has even begun.

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
— From Max Planck’s Scientific Autobiography: and Other Papers, translated by F. Gaynor (1949).

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see The keys to understanding climate change and My posts about climate change, and especially these …

  1. Important: climate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  2. How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.
  3. A status report on global warming. Much depends on the next few years.
  4. Good news for the New Year! Salon explains that the global climate emergency is over.
  5. Climate activists’ final act, as they move into the last stage of grief.
  6. A look at the future of global warming. Our political response depends on its trend.

To learn more about the state of climate change…

 The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

… see his book The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change. See my review. Here is the publisher’s summary…

“In recent years the media, politicians, and activists have popularized the notion that climate change has made disasters worse. But what does the science actually say? Roger Pielke, Jr. takes a close look at the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the underlying scientific research, and the data to give you the latest science on disasters and climate change. What he finds may surprise you and raise questions about the role of science in political debates.”

 

49 thoughts on “Professor Michael Mann destroys the case for massive immediate action on climate change

  1. A wonderful example of why the climate policy debate is mostly noise.

     

    This tweet was liked and retweeted by several prominent climate activists. This statement is quite daft.

    The degree of certainty for the scientific foundation of proposed public policy measure is a major factor in its debate. Certainty is never total, and it is neither a binary factor nor a religious test. The lower the certainty, the less justified is the policy.

    This blindness to even the most obvious truths is one reason the climate policy debate has become a cacophony. This is one reason that activists’ 29 year-long campaign (arbitrarily starting with Hansen’s famous Senate testimony) has produced so little policy action.

  2. I’ve noticed a curious parallel between a lot of the folks who are signalling hard about climate change, and the people who have signaled hard against creationism in schools. They often repeat, at great length and with increasing levels of vigor, a relatively basic fact or group of facts – “organisms evolved over time and young-earth creationism contradicts tons of things,” “climate change is actually occurring and is primarily human caused,” etc.

    Maybe I just live in the wrong areas but I don’t know who they’re aiming them *at*. It isn’t going to convince someone who’s convinced that evolution is part of a scheme to undermine good and honest living, or that climate change is an idea cooked up to close down their job at the coal mine.

  3. The joint science scademies statement is quite specific in warning about potential harms from global warning.Your comment that there is no mention of adverse consequences misrepresents the document, and that misrepresentation leaves me concerned that there may be more to come as I go through the remaining links.

    1. Dubious,

      “The joint science scademies statement is quite specific in warning about potential harms from global warning.Y”

      That’s quite a reading failure. Let’s replay the tape. I added bold to show your mistake. Mann said…

      “that that climate change is real, is human-caused, and is already having adverse impacts on us, our economy, and our planet.”

      You say:

      “is quite specific in warning about potential harms from global warning”

      “and that misrepresentation leaves me concerned”

      As a person of integrity, I am sure your will apologize for that insult due to your sloppy reading.

    2. The academies have been warning for 30 years about the coming harm… but it never seems to get here.

      So far… no increase in severe weather, no increase in hurricanes, droughts or floods. Humans have perhaps raised temps half a degree and sea level 2 inches in 70 years

      There are plenty of warnings but scant observational evidence.

      And Hansen’s famous 1988 forecasts have been famously wrong, overstaing the warming trend by a factor of 2.5 to one. Emissions were far higher than he estimated yet temps were far lower. Fail!

    3. Joe,

      It’s difficult to sort out the predictions by the consensus of scientists — in any field — from those that are the loudest, or most exciting. The latter get the attention from journalists.

      Evaluating past forecasts made before the IPCC’s AR2 (aka SAR) is almost impossible due to limited documentation and inadequate archiving of code and results.

      Fortunately here we have IPCC, which in AR2 and after gives clear forecasts for many climate variables. So far the results are inconclusive. We could learn more about them from a well-funded validation program, staffed by a multi-disciplinary team (e.g., climatologists, statisticians, biologists, geologists, software engineers). But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So we have to wait for time to give us answers.

      The cost might be high, since due to the policy deadlock we are not even preparing for the inevitable repeat of past extreme weather.

  4. So … I’m not quite sure what point you are trying to make. That Michael Mann is a lousy poster child for climate change? Fine. I don’t think too many would disagree with you. He and Hanson and some of the others can be sanctimonious, strident jerks ill-suited to public advocacy.

    But if your point is that climate change isn’t happening, or that it is not, at least in part, anthropogenic, the weight of evidence and scientific consensus disagree.

    If your point is that no action need be taken, I would argue you to be dead wrong. The huge mass of carbon that we have released into the atmosphere in the last hundred years or so is carbon that has been slowly captured and sequestered over hundreds of millions of years. It defies even common sense to imagine that dramatically changing atmospheric chemistry so abruptly will not have consequences. Moreover, large scale pollution – and that is what this is – has for too long been treated as an externality, as if the remediation of that pollution needn’t be done or that it won’t have costs. That, in my estimation, is fraudulent accounting.

    One of the least attractive features of conservatism is its tendency to cling to past practices when they are long past defensible. The death of reliance on fossil fuels should not be mourned as a loss (except to those who continue to profit from its use at the expense of all of us), but as a boundless opportunity to build new industries, create new jobs, build new fortunes.

    1. windriven,

      Wow! What a lot of weird guessing! Sad that you did not read to the end of the post, to the For More Information section, and click on this link: The keys to understanding climate change. It would have answered your questions. Among other things, I am a strong — even dogmatic — supporter of the IPCC.

      Or you could have asked questions about those wider issues. Instead you give a delusional barrage!

      (1) “I’m not quite sure what point you are trying to make”

      Let’s replay the tape. Perhaps we can solve this mystery for you.

      • Summary: “The testimony of the activist, Michael Mann, destroyed the case for strong public policy action to fight climate change.”
      • Opening: “Mann gave a remarkable demonstration of why the 29 year-long climate change campaign has produced such small results. He opens strongly and closes with even more strongly. But his own evidence undercuts his claims.”

      (2) “But if your point is that climate change isn’t happening, or that it is not, at least in part, anthropogenic”

      There is nothing in this that remotely implies that. In fact, under heading one I say:

      “Yes, there is a consensus that climate change is real and largely human-caused.”

      (3) “One of the least attractive features of conservatism is its tendency …”

      One of the least attractive features of ideologues, left and right, is their to make stuff up — then give rebuttals to it. It’s why people in the middle tend to regard them as delusional, like the homeless on the street ranting to the sky.

    2. @Editor of the Fabius Maximus website

      Wow Ed, what a bizarre reply!

      I happened on your site secondary to a piece Ed Dolan had written. I don’t know you from Adam’s housecat, don’t know your background, your politics, or your connection to science. I read what you wrote and only what you wrote. I did not follow any of the links. I also made no accusations. As my first frigging sentence made plain, I was not clear as to where you were going with your piece. Perhaps I’m a moron incapable of following simple expository prose. Perhaps your expository prose is a dog’s breakfast of disjointed jabber. Whatever…

      Returning to my main point, I made no accusations, I asked questions. You responded like a scalded dog. WTF?

      I came looking for interesting perspectives and reasoned discourse. Beam me up, Scotty.

    3. Windriven,

      I gave factual replies to your comment. If you believe any were in error, feel free to explain. There are 50,000 comments here, and I try to reply to all of them. There is not time to wrap each in cotton padding. I suggest focusing your comments on the truth or falsity of my statements, not your feelings about them.

      “Perhaps your expository prose is a dog’s breakfast of disjointed jabber. Whatever…”

      If that’s your response to the simple clear statements I gave in reply, then there is really nothing more to say.

  5. Observation vs prediction:
    Data can tell you what is there at the moment and place; but to stretch this out as a picture of the future is not so easy.
    That is where “Climate Science” fails so miserably. It isa pseudoscience comparablec to ASTROLOGY!

    1. Urbanbasher,

      That’s quite false.

      Science is about using certain methods to better understand reality. As Karl Popper said, successful predictions are the “gold standard” of scientific proof. Climate science is young, and so its predictions are immature — but it is advancing rapidly.

    2. Bartemis,

      I doubt you are competent to assess the work of climate scientists, let alone dismiss their work so casually.

      On the other hand, dismissing the work of scientists is a long tradition in the West, going back centuries. Early stage science often looks silly to laypeople. But such statements almost always look ludicrous to the next generation.

  6. My understanding of your argument is that while human caused global warming is occurring, there is no evidence that it is having an adverse impact on us, our economy and the planet, and therefore, there is no case for strong public policy action to fight climate change.

    What current policy actions are you then opposed to? Repeal of wind and solar energy tax credits? Elimination of CAFE standards for automobiles?

    Irrespective of the debate on climate change, GE, Tesla, Siemens and other large corporations have positioned their businesses to make profits in the transition to a non-coal economy, and I would guess, support government policies that encourage that transition. Some commentary on how this faction of the 1% have steered and benefited from our climate policy would be an interesting read.

    1. DMK,

      “My understanding of your argument is that while human caused global warming is occurring, there is no evidence that it is having an adverse impact on us, our economy and the planet, and therefore, there is no case for strong public policy action to fight climate change.”

      I say nothing even remotely like that. I recommend that you reply to direct quotes, as I do. It prevents gross misreadings, like yours.

    2. DMK,

      I forgot to reply to the rest of your comment.

      (1) “What current policy actions are you then opposed to?”

      Let’s replay the tape to see what I said:

      “Mann gave a remarkable demonstration of why the 29 year-long climate change campaign has produced such small results.”

      We have done almost nothing, so there is almost nothing to repeal. What little has been done has been justified (rightly so) by reducing dependence on foreign oil (e.g., research and subsidies for alternative energy) and reducing conventional air and water pollution (e.g., Obama’s Clean Power Plan).

      (2) “the transition to a non-coal economy, and I would guess, support government policies that encourage that transition”

      During the past decade I have published a great deal about that transition. See these references about the energy transition. Also see these posts about the move away from coal. See this about the result: Good news for the New Year! Salon explains that the global climate emergency is over.

      Also see recommendation #3 about ways to fight climate change, from Important things to know about climate change.

      1. More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (e.g., global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
        Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.
      2. Run government-funded climate research with tighter standards (e.g., posting of data and methods, review by unaffiliated experts), as we do for biomedical research.
      3. We should begin a well-funded conversion to non-carbon-based energy sources, for completion by the second half of the 21st century — justified by both environmental and economic reasons (see these posts for details).
      4. Begin more aggressive efforts to prepare for extreme climate. We’re not prepared for repeat of past extreme weather (e.g., a real hurricane hitting NYC), let alone predictable climate change (e.g., sea levels climbing, as they have for thousands of years).
      5. A new recommendation — the most important one: break the gridlocked public policy by running a fair test of the climate models.
  7. Excellent post. I’ve taken the liberty of fwd’ing the link to WattsUpWithThat, which has a lot of followers on this subject.
    Keep up the good work, Sir1
    Ross King

  8. BTW, you run amiss of proprieties: Professor Mann made it repeatedly & abundantly clear that his *proper* title is “DISTINGUISHED” Professort Mann.
    As a matter of interest, i have searched for sources of “Distinguished” in this contextand failed. Who, or what institution upgrades one’s title to be prefaced by “Distinguished”? Any thoughts out there?
    Judging by his hubris-without-substance, my theory is that it is a self-awarded appellation.
    After watching Mann’s performance, might I conjecture that — far from being an upgrade — it might be a truncated *downgrade* from: “Un-Distinguished Professor Mann”?? His performance certainly called for a demotion as there was absolutely *nothing* I could se in it that was in any remote way “distinguished” — much the opposite.

  9. “Turns out Mann appears to be a bit of a denier himself.”. Mann is a convincer. As in everyone knows now that the climate science community oversold the CAGW / CO2 theory and since their political muscle is gone the best they can do is try to convince people that there really is a CO2 problem. Or they believe their own deception and they’re trying to convince everyone that their view of reality is actually reality. Mann seems like a classic case of both situations, he’s a convincer.

    1. Scott,

      “Mann is a convincer.”

      Nothing wrong with that. But formal expert testimony, especially before Congress, should be held to high standards of completeness and accuracy. As shown here, I do not believe Mann’s testimony met any reasonable standards.

      This is an important public policy issue. Such behavior by Mann and others (on both sides) has reduced it to a cacophony, creating a public policy deadlock. We are not even preparing for the almost inevitable return of past extreme weather.

  10. As Thomas Kuhn hinted, sometimes the old generation of expert has to die off before better paradigms can be born. Mann may be one of the best examples of this, along with James Hansen. If a scientist builds his reputation on a particular interpretation of observations, his likelihood of changing his mind when presented with better data is inversely proportional to his level of status and reward from clinging to his current interpretation.

    1. alfin,

      That has got to win “Best of Thread”! The quote is best known, as you note, from Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is by Max Planck in his Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, translated by F. Gaynor (New York, 1949).

      “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

  11. Part of the problem with the various “environmental movements” is that predictions of coming ecological disaster fit neatly into what seems to be an inborn bias of humans that apocalypse is around the corner.

    This leads to what I think of as “chicken little-ism,” and it’s fascinating to me that it appears across the political spectrum.

    My pet theory is that humans are predisposed to feel like “the world is going to hell in a hand basket.” Because, essentially, doom awaits us all, and we suffer great maladies along the way, if we’re lucky.

    Your post illustrates how even learned researchers are afflicted with this bias.

    It makes it hard to figure out what is really going on.

    1. b1daly,

      Your raise some important points, about matters I have long wondered about. Here are some thoughts, tentative as they are.

      (1) Since the 1960s the Left has used doomster scenarios to advance their political goals. See this analysis.

      (2) So does the Right. See Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right. The common element is us. Perhaps both use fear to influence us because we are susceptible to doomster visions.

      (3) Does our obsession with doom result from our Christian heritage? Do other cultures obsess over end times like we do

    2. I am hardly a professional on this topic, but my limited perception is that every culture has visions of apocalypse, but the West seems more inclined to interpret and digest these as exterminatory – in other words, that “the world ends,” as opposed to an era.

  12. Perhaps persons should remember, people are generally happy only if they are a little miserable, IIRC Robert Heinlein. Also good advice from RH, budget the luxuries first, so you won’t be tempted to cheat. I see very little of the luxury budgeting.

    Just how do those who wish to change current policy expect to grow the tent larger, and get more money from the ones in the tent already? It is a apparent the hair shirt approach is not working.

    Anyone with good Google Fu who can find and post a link to the wonderful study the Brits did on how to sell and NOT sale climate change, though it may have been AGW at the time, would be nice. Experts, in the art of selling, writing about what it would take to sell policy of CC.

  13. While noting ” Certainty is never total, and it is neither a binary factor nor a religious test. The lower the certainty, the less justified is the policy, our Editor here fails to notice its scientific corollary:

    The higher the uncertainty, the greater the duty to prudently address it.

    Having :
    “written scores of posts about how activists botched their campaign to get US policy action to fight climate change.”

    do any thoughts of his own emerge when he looks at the ominous rise in radiative forcing so many scientists have duly noted?

    Earth’s climate is indeed complex and dynamic, and It’s easy enough to reduce so intrinsically uncertain a subject to a comedy of scientific manners , or an occassion for Capitol hill or K-street lawyers to practice the art of impeachment,, but though I have succumbed to the former temptation often enough, as the Climte Wars enter their fourth decade , I still find what a plenum of physics disciplines report disturbing.

    Mann was, by design, outnumbered 3 to 1, and yet succeeded in getting his opponents to do something rarely seen in so partisan a context- set aside their graphic trumphery and agree that climate science has got the sign right when it comes to Anthropocene climate change.

    Paying more attention to the science can only improve the politics of it all, and reinforce the Conservative principle that the political neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist in order to be respected.

    1. Russell,

      You have cut thru the chatter about personalities, going to the core of the issue!

      (1) “do any thoughts of his own emerge when he looks at the ominous rise in radiative forcing so many scientists have duly noted?”

      I prefer to avoid emotional words not used in the IPCC WGI reports. They cloud the discussion. We face many threats. They must be coldly assessed and prioritized: that is The first step to protecting the world from its many dangers.

      (2) How to respond to climate change? In the For More Info section it suggests consulting Important things to know about climate change. Section (f) describes my recommendations about ways to respond to climate change:

      • More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (e.g., global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
        Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.
      • Run government-funded climate research with tighter standards (e.g., posting of data and methods, review by unaffiliated experts), as we do for biomedical research.
      • We should begin a well-funded conversion to non-carbon-based energy sources, for completion by the second half of the 21st century — justified by both environmental and economic reasons (see these posts for details).
      • Begin more aggressive efforts to prepare for extreme climate. We’re not prepared for repeat of past extreme weather (e.g., a real hurricane hitting NYC), let alone predictable climate change (e.g., sea levels climbing, as they have for thousands of years).
      • The most important one: break the gridlocked public policy by running a fair test of the climate models.

      (3) “Mann was, by design, outnumbered 3 to 1, and yet succeeded in getting his opponents to do something rarely seen in so partisan a context- set aside their graphic trumphery and agree that climate science has got the sign right when it comes to Anthropocene climate change.”

      Bizarrely false (aka a materially false claim). Somebody is lying to you. All three of those scientists have given essentially the same testimony for many years, to Congress and elsewhere. None of them believe now or in the past that the debate in science is about the “sign” of anthropogenic climate change.

      Also, to say “the sign” of “anthropocene climate change” is both premature (the term has not been officially approved) and probably factually wrong. Unless one uses a narrower definition of the anthropocene than commonly used, there was no “sign” to climate change for the thousands of years of human influence on the world.

      “It is extremely likely (95 – 100% certain) that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in global mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2010.”
      — From the “Summary for Policy-Makers” of the IPCC’s AR5 Working Group I. Bold emphasis added. Unfortunately, there is no consensus about the timing and magnitude of future warming.

      (4) “Paying more attention to the science can only improve the politics of it all, and reinforce the Conservative principle that the political neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist in order to be respected.”

      That’s not the problem, as numerous commissions by the world’s science agencies have said for many years. Instead they recommend better ways to communicate with the public and their political leaders. For good reason, as that process is broken — as described in these posts about ways to break the political gridlock about climate policy.

    2. Russell,

      Follow-up note: “The higher the uncertainty, the greater the duty to prudently address it.”

      I do not agree. There are many risks with a high degree of uncertainty but we do not care because the potential risk is low. That is, the potential threat is the primary factor to consideration — the first gate in the analysis process. Small threat, we don’t care about its probability. We lack the resources to fully address all the major threats.

    3. Russell,

      Lots of great material in your comment! Here’s a second follow-up note.

      “Mann was, by design, outnumbered 3 to 1”

      That is the usual way these scenes are described, as if they were baseball. Fans cheer “their” team and boo the “other” team, and mock its players as ignorant fools. This is quite daft, and that scientists allow it is one factor turning the climate policy debate into a cacophony.

      Scientists clash about science. That polarity drives it forward. Activists lie, saying that the debate is about the existence of past warming (or past AGW). There are only a few fringe scientists who doubt either (there is always a fringe). The actual debates are about the mechanisms of warming, the magnitude and causes of past warming, the accuracy and reliability of models ability to represent Earth’s climate, the magnitude and timing of future climate trends.

      Saying the “science is settled” is the big lie. Big lies are omnipresent in politics since Hitler proved them to be so effective. Successful Big Lies are consensual lies, flourishing only because we allow them to do so.

  14. Lest Fabius end up on the side of nefas by misadventure , he should relly reconsider the following part of what he has writtten:

    “Bizarrely false (aka a materially false claim). Somebody is lying to you. All three of those scientists have given essentially the same testimony for many years, to Congress and elsewhere. None of them believe now or in the past that the debate in science is about the “sign” of anthropogenic climate change.

    Christy & Spencer shared responsibility for translating the 1st generation of satellite radiometer data into global temperatures , and became notorious after their 1989 lede editorial in Science , pronounced that the then newfangled satellite record pointed to global temperatures going down, not up.

    Alas fror them and us, it gradually emerged that they and their UA Huntsville collagues had collectively made a mathmatical and navigational Bad Mistake: their 15 minutes of fame as the CO2-intensive energy industry’s apparent saviors notwithstanding, threre was no glossing over the fact that the satellite ephemerides had drifted away from geopraphic reality, and they had been, in consequence , gossly underestimating global temperatures for the better part of a decade:

    Whereupon , to their undying credit , they published a retraction or corrigendum in Science where the media cirucus began – not that I speak as a witness, having quoted what they said in Science in my own published work– I believe you have long since refered here to my 1990 ‘ A War Against Fire ” articel in The National Interest.

    There has beeen a great deal fo bad fibbing and worse lawyering on the Hill since then, and I must confess that I have had a hand in shaping – and satirizing conceptions of the Anthropocene for almost as long , having known Paul Crutzen since 1984.

    Also, to say “the sign” of “anthropocene climate change” is both premature (the term has not been officially approved) and probably factually wrong. Unless one uses a narrower definition of the anthropocene than commonly used, there was no “sign” to climate change for the thousands of years of human influence on the world.

    Having devoted many a blog entry to the ploliticization of IPCC Executve Summaries , starting with the first one , I have a duty to add that , since we don’t know where in a plausubly 31/2 degreee C wide range of climate sensitivity the actual value may lie, I can scarcely fault them for observing :, as you note:

    “Unfortunately, there is no consensus about the timing and magnitude of future warming.”

    Because I don’t know either, and the range of unpolemicly published studies is three times wider still.

    I don’t know what to do about that, so I work on physics-based water conservation , which may come in handy regardless.

    1. Russell,

      Quite a disgraceful comment for a scientist, both inaccurate and scummy. I envy leftist websites that ban people like you, but that’s not the house rules here.

      (1) I assume by “became notorious after their 1989 lede {sic} editorial in Science” you refer to their research article in the 30 March 1990 issue of Science: “Precise Monitoring of Global Temperature Trends from Satellites“.

      They became so notorious that NASA awarded them the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1991, and the American Meteorological Society gave them a Special Award “for developing a global, precise record of Earth’s temperature from operational polar-orbiting satellites, fundamentally advancing our ability to monitor climate.”

      Professor Christy became so notorious that he served the IPCC as a Contributor in 1992, 1994 and 1996 — and as a Lead Author in 2001. He has served on five National Research Council panels and committees, and has performed research funded by NASA, NOAA, DOE, DOT and the State of Alabama. He has published numerous papers, including studies appearing in Science, Nature, Journal of Climate, and The Journal of Geophysical Research. Dr. Christy has provided testimony to several congressional committees. {From his NASA bio.}

      (2) “pronounced that the then newfangled satellite record pointed to global temperatures going down, not up.”

      Let’s look at the abstract of the paper — it doesn’t match your description. Bold emphasis added.

      “Passive microwave radiometry from satellites provides more precise atmospheric temperature information than that obtained from the relatively sparse distribution of thermometers over the earth’s surface. Accurate global atmospheric temperature estimates are needed for detection of possible greenhouse warming, evaluation of computer models of climate change, and for understanding important factors in the climate system. Analysis of the first 10 years (1979 to 1988) of satellite measurements of lower atmospheric temperature changes reveals a monthly precision of 0.01°C, large temperature variability on time scales from weeks to several years, but no obvious trend for the 10-year period. The warmest years, in descending order, were 1987, 1988, 1983, and 1980. The years 1984, 1985, and 1986 were the coolest.”

      (3) “Alas fror them and us, it gradually emerged that they and their UA Huntsville collagues had collectively made a mathmatical and navigational Bad Mistake”

      Too stupid to deserve comment. The first results of new observational technology are often inaccurate.

      (4) “their 15 minutes of fame as the CO2-intensive energy industry’s apparent saviors notwithstanding,”

      As I expected, you reveal yourself as a scummy activist — resorting to smears. I suggest that you mock and insult Professor Christy and Dr. Spencer after you invent a revolutionary new tool of climate science.

      (5) The above was rebuttal to my statement that “All three of those scientists have given essentially the same testimony for many years, to Congress and elsewhere. None of them believe now or in the past that the debate in science is about the “sign” of anthropogenic climate change.” It’s not.

      I correct my previous statement that you were reading people who lie to you. It is you who lie, since you are sufficiently educated to determine the truth about such a simple matter.

      (6) “I work on physics-based water conservation, which may come in handy regardless.”

      I hope your work is more accurate than your comment here, and that it is reported by people less scummy than you.

  15. This seems to be devolving into a case of , If you can’t pound the rocket science, kick the launchpad.

    Though my fears of bad lawyering are confirmed , I once again implore you not to go all nefas on us- the primary sources are yours to examine if you want to make like a scientist and change your mind to fit the facts.

    Here, verbatim , is what JohnChristy said in the Executive Summmary that he authored , no less, of the US CCSP report, on the Huntstsville turnabout on the direction of climate cange as measureed by the satellites if the 70’s & 80’S:

    “Previously reported discrepancies between the amount of warming near the surface and higher in the atmosphere have been used to challenge the reliability of climate models and the reality of human induced global warming. Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface. This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected. New data sets have also been developed that do not show such discrepancies.”

    Lots , lots more a Real Climate if you can’t bring yourself to read it in the scientific original.

    Vale, et percussam resurgo.

    1. Russell,

      (1) You don’t even attempt to defend your lies about Christy and Spencer being “notorious”.

      (2) Your long quote in that last comment neither disagrees with the material I cited nor supports your claim. Let’s rewind the tape.

      The quote you gave: “Specifically, surface data showed substantial global-average warming, while early versions of satellite and radiosonde data showed little or no warming above the surface. This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected.”

      The abstract to the Science article, which I quoted: “analysis of the first 10 years (1979 to 1988) of satellite measurements of lower atmospheric temperature changes reveals a monthly precision of 0.01°C, large temperature variability on time scales from weeks to several years, but no obvious trend for the 10-year period.”

      No difference. Contrast that with your original statement: “after their 1989 lede editorial in Science , pronounced that the then newfangled satellite record pointed to global temperatures going down, not up.”

      You were wrong. Now you kick dust in the air to conceal that.

      (3) “Lots, lots more a Real Climate if you can’t bring yourself to read it in the scientific original.”

      I am the one who linked to and cited the actual Science article. You are the one who lied about it.

      (4) Fortunately, lies and trolling are grounds for banning. Good-bye. Troll elsewhere.

  16. 3 “scientists posted”? And two are Christy and Spencer?

    Good Lord.
    Fabius has gone off the deep end.
    3 Christian Scientists have also testified that dinosaurs are a fraud!
    Give me a break.

    1. Robj,

      What is your professional competence in climate science to evaluate individual scientists? Arrogance doesn’t count.

      “3 “scientists posted”? And two are Christy and Spencer?”

      You aren’t very good with facts, even simple ones.

      (a) You put “scientists posted” in quotes. That phrase does not appear in this post or the comments.

      (b) Four scientists testified at the House committee hearing: Dr. Judith Curry, Dr. John Christy, Dr. Michael Mann, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. Dr.Spencer did not testify.

      “3 Christian Scientists have also testified that dinosaurs are a fraud!”

      All four have distinguished records in climate science. To compare them to “christian scientists” is pure ignorance.

  17. The editor here clearly is the judge of climate science, and Christy and Spencer “represent” the consensus on a panel chosen by the “esteemed climated scientist” Texan representative Smith.
    Guffaw.

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