A Red Team to end the climate wars: fun but likely to fail

Summary:  Team Trump has proposed a Red Team project to resolve the climate debates. It’s an exciting promise of an easy solution to the public policy gridlock. It will make the situation worse.

Climate War

The climate debate has — like so many other policy debates — become dominated by a proposal by Team Trump. They suggest some kind of “Red Team vs. Blue Team” debate about climate change. These articles show there is little agreement about the structure or goals of the project.

What is “Red Teaming”?

To understand these proposals, first turn to the Red Team Journal (founded 1997). Start with “A Balanced View” of Red Teaming.

“Defined loosely, red teaming is the practice of viewing a problem from an adversary or competitor’s perspective. The goal of most red teams is to enhance decision making, either by specifying the adversary’s preferences and strategies or by simply acting as a devil’s advocate. Red teaming may be more or less structured, and a wide range of approaches exists. In the past several years, red teaming has been applied increasingly to issues of security, although the practice is potentially much broader. Business strategists, for example, can benefit from weighing possible courses of action from a competitor’s point of view. …

“Despite the many advantages of candid red teaming, the practice is subject to various limitations and constraints. A red team cannot predict with certainty what an adversary will do, nor can it uncover all possible weaknesses in a concept, plan, or system. Red teams that claim these abilities overstate the benefits of red teaming and invariably mislead their clients. Decision makers who attempt to use a red team to divine specific events risk doing worse than nothing.”

Red Teams work well to analyze an organization’s positioning and actions vs. an adversary or competitor. It is a natural tool for the military and security fields, and works well for business strategy. A Red Team artificially creates divisions within an organization, breaking consensus thinking and facilitating growth of new perspectives. No matter what the outcome, there is little risk to the organization or its staff from these projects. For example, Army officers gaming the Opposing Force in a war game will not be seen as the real enemy (Nazis, Russians, etc).

But there is no enemy organization in the climate debates, no OpFor. The existing divisions in our climate science institutions are part of the problem. Climate science today has broken into two tribes (of unequal size). Worse, their work has become politicized and tied to the polarized politics of America. Now some advocate pouring kerosene on these flames by pitting the two sides in a head to head confrontation, like a World Series of Climate Science — with the crowds cheering “their” team. It would take divine intervention for this to produce anything useful — for either climate science or the public policy debate.

A Red Team is not a relevant tool to help resolve the climate debates. It is the opposite of what we need today.

Alternative Analysis

Red Teams are one form of Alternative Analysis (A. A.). From the Red Team Journal.

“Alternative analysis is the superclass of techniques of which red teaming may be considered a member. As with red teaming, these techniques are designed to help debias thinking, enhance decision making, and avoid surprise.

“According to Fishbein and Treverton, ‘alternative analysis seeks to help analysts and policy-makers stretch their thinking through structured techniques that challenge underlying assumptions and broaden the range of possible outcomes considered.’ They further clarify the term by specifying that ‘Alternative analysis includes techniques to challenge analytic assumptions (e.g. devil’s advocacy), and those to expand the range of possible outcomes considered (e.g. what-if analysis, and alternative scenarios).'”

I doubt any A.A. tool will advance the state of climate science. I have seen no historical examples of this, let alone successful examples. But some forms of A. A. are appropriate tools to break the public policy paralysis.

Ask the experts!

Call in experts to answer a question

How can A.A. methods be used in the climate wars? First, what is the key question to answer? The answer should make a difference in the debate. It should be doable with the time and funds available. Many of the proposals flunk one or both of these, such as calls to review the IPCC’s Working Group I report — the physical science. The time and money required to this adequately would be immense.

Since 2009 I have had recommendations to re-start the public policy engines. Especially this, which fits these criteria. Others have made similar proposals.

  1. A review of the climate forecasting models by a multidisciplinary team of relevant experts who have not been central players in this debate. Include a broader pool than those who have dominated the field, such as geologists, chemists, statisticians and software engineers.

Models are the fulcrum in the climate policy debate, turning theory and data into forecasts that are the primary input to the climate policy debate. There has been little work done to validate them (see this list of the literature and this example). Model validation is a well-established field. With money and time a group could investigate and evaluate one or more of the major modeling systems. Whatever the result, we would know more than we know today.

It is an operationally simple proposal, using people uninvolved in the climate wars, likely to produce useful results. So neither side will like it. That’s today’s America!

History

It’s not a silver bullet

Experts in alternative analysis warn that these are tools, not miracles. The success rate of these projects is unknown, but there are a lot of failures. Even simple projects often result in organizational discord or even chaos, as with the 2016 Red Team examination of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center.

Also note that this is not the first A.A. project in the climate wars. The Berkeley Earth project raised $2.5 million (including $150,000 from the Koch Foundation) to fund a group of scientists who reanalyzed the Earth’s surface temperature record. They published their initial findings in 2012, with no visible effect on either the debate among scientists or the public policy debate. See Wikipedia for details.

Plan B

An ominous example of A.A. failure

An extreme example of a failure of A.A. is the 1976 “Team B” project. A group of hawks accused the CIA of underestimating Soviet military capability. They were given free reign to produce an analysis more acceptable to the GOP’s hawks. They did so, producing what became politically useful justifications for Reagan’s massive military buildup. The CIA later concluded

“In retrospect, and with the Team B report and records now largely declassified, it is possible to see that virtually all of Team B’s criticisms of the NIE proved to be wrong. …While Team B was estimating a relentless, continuing buildup at a growing pace, it was later learned that, in fact, Soviet leaders had just cut back the rate of spending on their military effort and would not increase it for the next nine years {in response to the Reagan buildup}. “

The USSR never built directed energy weapons, mobile ABM systems, and anti-satellite systems. The Soviet Empire collapsed in 1989 and it died in 1991. In fact, the Team B conclusions were backwards, as later analysis with data from Soviet records found that US intelligence exaggerated Soviet aggressiveness and military capabilities. See the details here.

The members were selected for their politically useful views. Most were later rewarded for their false analysis by promotion to high offices.

This is what many scientists and politicians fear will happen with any “Red Team” project conducted by the Trump Administration. They will stack the Team B with people who will produce the desired conclusions, then use the report to drive new public policy measures. But this is not 1976, nor is Team Trump the hawk neocons at the peak of their cunning. In today’s politically polarized America, a stacked Red Team will be seen as illegitimate by most climate scientists and much of the public. It will further the politicization of science, resolve nothing, and accomplish nothing.

We can do better. But we probably won’t.

Update: scientists comment on the proposals

(a)  A proposal for a “Team B” project.

Dr. Roy Spencer (meteorologist, principal research scientist at U AL-Huntsville) proposes a “Team B” project for climate science in “A Global Warming Red Team Warning: Do NOT Strive for Consensus with the Blue Team” at his website. It’s designed to document the skeptic position on a broad array of climate-related questions.

His proposal has two potential problems. First, I doubt there is a consistent skeptic paradigm to contrast with that expressed in the IPCC’s WGI report of AR5. The skeptics’ have a wide range of beliefs, which will add up to a grab-bag of ideas. Second, this probably will polarize the climate science field into opposition to their work (that would be my reaction if I were a climate scientist). Also, it is unlikely to have the political effect he desires. I doubt politicians will stake their careers on theories which most climate scientists loudly oppose.

(b)  Other scientists comment on the proposal.

Climate scientists Judith Curry has some valuable insights about this proposal at Climate Etc.

Kenneth Caldeira wrote an article at his website criticizing Pruitt’s proposal. Caldeira is an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology (Wikipedia). Here is the money paragraph, showing that he does not understand why the consensus of scientists can provide an inadequate basis for public policy — and why decision-makers use Alternative Analysis methods (such as Red Teams) even when their experts are certain (sometimes especially when their experts are certain).

“Why do politicians who have never engaged in any scientific inquiry in their lives believe themselves to be the experts who should tell scientists how to conduct their business? A little more humility would be appreciated. This is yet another example of politicians engaging in unhelpful meddling in things they know nothing about. Why is Scott Pruitt trying to ‘fix’ climate science. …”

Victor Venema makes the same mistake in “The Trump administration proposes a new scientific method just for climate studies.” He is scientist working with the Benchmarking and Assessment Working Group (BAWG) of the International Surface Temperature Initiative (ISTI).

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this vital issue see the posts about the RCPs, about the keys to understanding climate change and these posts about the politics of climate change…

  1. Important: climate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  2. We can end the climate policy wars: demand a test of the models.
  3. How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.
  4. A story of the climate change debate. How it ran; why it failed.
 The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

To learn more about the state of climate change…

… see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder, and Director of their Center for Science and Technology Policy Research). From the publisher…

“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.”

 

64 thoughts on “A Red Team to end the climate wars: fun but likely to fail

  1. The approach is a bit weak, because there’s reasonable doubts about the climate record (from paleo climate to the satellite era), the models are weak, and there’s a need to develop better quality emissions pathways as well as carbon cycle models.

    The objective of the effort should be to acknowledge uncertainty, and rework the EPA solution to the “global warming problem”. This involves a serious effort over a period of 2-3 years. Rather than fight “the system” I would use it to identify a reasonable range for a carbon tax, which would be put in place at the same time federal subsidies and special terms for renewables and battery vehicles are removed.

    The effort should also acknowledge that geoengineering is a potential palliative, outline research areas and recommend funding for a 20 year program.

  2. The point of the Red Team exercise is not to end the climate wars. On the contrary it is a major offensive by skepticism. Pruitt and Perry want experts to back up their skeptical statements, which is easy to do. The end result will be to make skepticism an officially valid position. This in turn might have serious policy implications, including repealing the EPA endangerment finding. It is the IPCC strategy for the opposition. First generate a big report, then act on it..

    1. David,

      Yes, that’s what I said. It is the “Team B” strategy that successfully politicized US intel (a pox whose damage continues to this day) and justified the quite mad Reagan military buildup.

      But this is 2017, not 1976. And Team Trump is not the neocon hawks at the height of their cunning. It’s unlikely to fool many. It’s the equivalent of my five year old with dirt around his mouth saying “No Dad, I haven’t been eating dirt.”

    2. It is not a question of fooling anyone. It is a matter of laying the groundwork for a new policy initiative. But I think that understanding and discussing what is going on is not your goal. You are again’ it and that is all that matters here, right? Silly metaphors instead of serious thought.

    3. David,

      I gave a clear historical example that is likely to be repeated. Your rebuttal is insults. That is a perfect example of why public policy in the US has become gridlocked.

      Try to reply to the specifics of what I said. I’m confident you can do so.

  3. Great article as usual. Initially, I was very hopeful that a Red Team analysis might shed light on two questions – how much is human activity contributing to climate change (I’ve seen numbers ranging from <50% to 100% depending on the source) and what are we going to do about it (in which the accuracy of the models play a vital role). Your response of "It will just further the politicization of science, resolve nothing, and accomplish nothing." is, sadly, spot on. The more I read and the more I talk to folks on either side of the issue, the more it becomes clear that this is a litmus test of one's political purity and not a serious attempt to analyze a very important issue that affects all of us.

    On a side note, I'm glad you mentioned the Niskanen Center – I enjoy reading their work.

    1. Steve,

      My fear is that skeptics will run down the Red Team rabbit hole. It’s a hot fad now, being used for all sorts of wildly inappropriate tasks. This is will ignore the far more likely to work tools of alternative analysis. Suchas the obvious one of funding a multi-disciplinary team of experts uninvolved in the climate wars.

      But that lacks the drama queen hysterics that so many people in the climate wars have come to prefer. It’s become tribal entertainment, cheering their good guys in combat with the bad guys. Effectiveness in making sound policy is unimportant. Very late Roman Republic-like behavior.

  4. I think you politicize this too much. A debate will get more information out there and will get it checked as they go along. The problem you are (apparently) afraid of is that alarmists will be exposed as fools or conmen.

    The models could be vetted (and found lacking based upon historical records), then where would the alarmists be?

    This should not go as an US against THEM scenario but as a true debate, without chest thumping and interrupting.

    1. Dave,

      “I think you politicize this too much.”

      You must be kidding. Have you been paying any attention to the climate policy debate for the past decade? Plus there is the clear and close analogy to the 1976 Team B exercise which produced large-scale false conclusions, damaged US intel (lasting to this day) and led to large US policy errors. Pretending that never happened and not learning from that seems …ill advised.

      “A debate will get more information out there and will get it checked as they go along.”

      Your naivete is charming. Political history is filled with debates that just cast chaff into the air. My guess is that is the usual result.

      “The problem you are (apparently) afraid of is that alarmists will be exposed as fools or conmen.”

      So your response is to make stuff up? Well, ok then.

  5. If there were still journalists that had integrity, did research, fact checked, did actual investigations, if there were an honest, unbiased news media that didn’t have an agenda then the red team could make a difference.

    1. Myron,

      Do you pay for all — or even most — of the news you read? (Many of the people I talk to who complain the loudest about the news have no subscriptions.) As the adage goes — if you don’t pay for it, you’re the product not the customer. So you don’t get to complain about the quality.

      “If there were still journalists that had integrity”

      I suggest reading a bit about the history of journalism. That concept is largely one of a brief period after WWII. Was not true in the centuries before, and increasingly not true now. That “golden age” resulted, I suspect, from the existence of near-monopolies in the newspaper and broadcast news businesses. So news agencies competed by perceived quality.

      Now we’re back to the days of wild open competition, where journalists compete by developing tribal audiences or writing the hottest clickbait. The reason they do so is because that’s what we want: cheap news that matches our biases or entertains us. Free markets give us what we want.

    2. The Red Team is not intended to resolve the climate debate. It’s job is to officially articulate the skeptical position expressed by Pruitt, Perry and others on Team Trump.

    3. David,

      “The Red Team is not intended to resolve the climate debate. It’s job is to officially articulate the skeptical position expressed by Pruitt, Perry and others on Team Trump.”

      I have seen no official or even scientist advocating that (although you may have). As I said in this post there are many proposals floating around out there, with different methodologies and objectives. Pruitt himself has floated a range of ideas (perhaps as trial balloons). Many are explicitly designed to resolve some or all of the climate policy debate through a test or evaluation. Here are a few.

      NYT: “Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, plans to convene a team of researchers to test the scientific premise of human-caused climate change, he told coal industry executives on Thursday.”

      Scott Pruitt at Senate hearing: “And why don’t we have a red-team approach and sit down — you know, get the politicians out of the room — and let the scientists, listen to what they have to say about it.”

      WSJ op-ed by Steven Koonin: A red team of dissenting scientists be established to critique major scientific reports on climate change. A blue team of climate scientists would then rebut the criticisms, and the resulting back-and-forth would unfold in public view. This “would produce a traceable public record that would allow the public and decision makers a better understanding of certainties and uncertainties.”

      E&E: “U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is leading a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science using a “back-and-forth critique” by government-recruited experts, according to a senior administration official. The program will use ‘red team, blue team’ exercises to conduct an ‘at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,’ the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations. ‘The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals …provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,’ the source said.”

    4. Note, for example: “A red team of dissenting scientists be established to critique major scientific reports on climate change.” and “…a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science…”

      Seems clear to me.

    5. David,

      OK, I see what you mean. I read that as going in with an open mind to critique, not as advocates working to convince people of their pre-existing position. See Judith Curry’s views here. Or Roger Pielke Sr.’s insistence that the review group be “actually objective (and not stealth advocates)”. But both our views are subjective interpretations of a few words of text.

      However, my primary point is that there are many proposals out there. To say “It’s job is to officially articulate” assumes that there is one agreed upon proposal. That is not so.

    6. ATTP,

      “who is this Red Team going to be engaging with, the media (who regularly do get things wrong) or scientists and policy makers?”

      You need not worry, as solutions for such problems have been worked out long ago (not perfectly, of course, since this is America – not Heaven). There are countless models for this. The most obvious and easy for is that of NAS project teams, of which there have been (per their website) “thousands”. Another form to use, flexible and simple, is a Presidential Commission (Wikipedia lists 75).

      Over time these have established protocols for engaging with experts, government officials, journalists, and the press. Successful examples can be copied and adapted.

    7. ATTP,

      Understood. But it was a valid and important point to discuss. I was just now discussing it on Twitter with Victor Venema. Selecting the institutional sponsor and format is critical in getting this done right.

      “other than it would be nice if they {the press] did this less often.”

      It’s a common complaint. I always respond by asking how much the person spends on news. Americans tend to have high standards for services we don’t pay for. As the adage goes, “If you don’t pay for it, you’re the product — not the customer.”

      Probably this will grow worse as the news media fragments back to its pre-WWII structure (largest due to tech), with each fragment appealing to a specific niche (e.g., green news, liberarian news, GOP news). The newsroom scene in “His Gal Friday” nicely shows how that works. A prisoner breaks from jail. Each reporter writes a different story about the event.

    8. Fabius, what do you mean by institutional sponsor? I expect this exercise to be sponsored by a federal agency like EPA and/or DOE.

    1. Ron,

      That sounds interesting. Please explain.

      Also, I doubt that’s unusual. The comments here come from a diverse audience, from the far left to the far right. My guess (emphasis on guess) is that seldom true at ATTP’s website. You name it, someone in the comments here has advocated it (with regards to the subjects discussed here).

    2. I don’t go often to ATTP blog because of the entrenched warmist bias there, but lukewarmer Tom Fuller (who I respect) suggested a post by Tobias on red/blue teaming was worth reading, which it was.
      However, the comment thread showed how closed are the minds of people interested in global warming/climate change. The discussion was mainly scheming about the arrangements and rules to ensure that a predetermined “truth” would be affirmed. Or whether joining in would weaken the already commanding and succeeding alarmist position. It all reminded me of the Viet Nam peace talks where no agreement could be reached on the seating plan, let alone the substance.

    3. Ron,

      Thank you for that info! Can you point to the post by “Tobias”, or give a cite?

      How are the comments here and at ATTP “exactly the same?” They don’t seems so from your brief description.

      “The discussion was mainly scheming about the arrangements and rules to ensure that a predetermined “truth” would be affirmed.”

      They don’t realize that it is not 1976. Such tricks are, imo, unlikely to work — no matter which side tries them.

    4. Tobis is wrong from the first sentence and never gets it right. It is not “a red team critique of climate science.” It is a red team critique of scientific claims made by certain people and groups (the Consensus). There is plenty of science for the red team to cite and I am sure they will do so. Beyond that his calling fine scientists incompetent hacks sums up the lack of substance he never overcomes.

      However, this is a fine example of the irrelevant adversarial rhetoric we can expect if there actually is a red team exercise.

    5. David,

      I agree. Much of what Tobis writes is nonsense, like this:

      “there’s no fundamental reason that physical science would fail to grapple with the earth as an object. And it hasn’t.”

      What is the point of that? If it is a rebuttal, what is he referring to? This is a commonplace tactic among climate activists. They make up stuff, write rebuttals, and declare the win.

    6. FWIW, Michael Tobis is someone who – IMO – is genuinely interested in trying to find ways to engage in a Red Team exercise and has also been someone who has shown a genuine interest in trying to engage with those with whom he mostly disagrees. If you can’t even bring yourselves to engage with what Michael Tobis is suggesting, then it’s likely that there is noone on the other side of this debate (which is a poor way to frame this, but hopefully you know what I mean) with whom you could engage constructively. I find this remarkably unfortunate, but there’s probably little that I can do about it.

    7. Ron,
      Just out of interest, an example of a disappointing comment? The reality (whether you like it or not) is that many do not trust that this Red Team proposal is an honest attempt to improve things, or to actually try and clarify our scientific understand and the policy relevance/significance of this scientific understanding. They may be wrong, but that is what it is.

    8. ATTP: It is certainly true that Consensus people “do not trust that this Red Team proposal is an honest attempt to improve things, or to actually try and clarify our scientific understanding and the policy relevance/significance of this scientific understanding.” But this is because they do not view skepticism as central to our understanding, quite the contrary.

      Pruitt and Perry are skeptics, so they see the official articulation of skepticism as an important step forward. That Pruitt and Perry were blasted by the Consensus press and advocates probably helps to motivate them. It is an “in your face” move, which is Team Trump’s style.

    9. David,

      But this is because they do not view skepticism as central to our understanding, quite the contrary.

      This is simply not true. Skepticism is a fundamental part of scientific research. That people disagree with your doubts doesn’t mean that they don’t view skepticism as central to our understanding. Maybe you should be a little more skeptical of your definitive claims about the views of those who regard as being on “the other side”?

    10. I see the two comment threads as an insight the locker room talk of two opposing teams, speculating about a possible upcoming match. On the one side is the World Champion, internationally favored, heavily sponsored and funded Consensus Team. Their talk, naturally is about all their winning (having never played away from home), how they have all the superstars and the other side are just hacks.

      On the other side is the Outcast Team with a small but vocal fan base, no acknowledged funding or sponsorship, and full of internal discord and disorganization. They are united mainly in their opposition to the consensus. Yet, in a surprising recent twist, they have a chance to form the home side. So they talk of all the sneaky tricks and cheating done by the other side, and the unseemly behavior of consensus leaders.

      Both sides speak of attacking the credibility of the other team, and this is the discouraging part. To me, the exercise is intended to take a widely supported plan of action, poke holes to see if it holds water, and severely kick the tires to see if it goes anywhere without breaking down.

      The simplest summary of the consensus is:
      Humans are making the planet warmer.
      The warming is dangerous.
      Government can stop it.

      The Red team is to go on offense, attacking and attempting to score against the consensus position. The Blue team is to go on defense, presenting data, facts and information to resist the assertions from the other side. Both sides should play the ball, not the man. The purpose is to reach a more complete and solid understanding of what is known and unknown about the functioning of our complex climate system. And from there what can be expected in the future.

    11. “Reaching a more complete understanding” sounds very nice Ron, but what does it mean? The skeptical arguments are well known and I do not see any breakthroughs in the offing. Synthesizing some of them has already been done, as in the NIPCC reports. The only new thing that I see coming is that the government will produce the synthesis, which is a first. What else is there as far as understanding goes?

    12. I am looking for (not necessarily expecting) a more proportional assessment of natural internal forcings, oceanic, clouds, for example, in relation to estimates of GHG effects.

    13. David,

      “Synthesizing some of them has already been done, as in the NIPCC reports.”

      (1) I doubt many of the major skeptical scientists (i.e., emminent professional records, such as Pielke Sr. and Curry) would agree with you.

      (2) Analysis of the major skeptical hypothesis — is more than one, and no paradigm — requires resources. Some people chatting around a table can’t do much. That’s never been done.

      (3) Many of the people advocating this project (e.g., me) want validation of key parts of the consensus theory. That’s the most common use of a Red Team.

    14. Ron,
      I don’t think this is really a fair representation of the position

      Humans are making the planet warmer.
      The warming is dangerous.
      Government can stop it.

      I think a more correct representation is:

      Humans are making the planet warmer.
      The warming could be dangerous.
      We can do something about this and should be discussing what it is that we should be doing.

      In fact, one of the most commonly promoted solutions is to impose a steadily rising carbon tax. This may require governments to impose it, but the underlying principle is to let the market decide the optimal future pathway. There are some caveats (that I mention here) but I think it is what most economists would regard as the optimal way to address this and is – I think – minimally intrusive.

    15. Your representation is more reasonable, but is contradicted every day by the media who attribute every bad thing that happens to global warming/climate change.

  6. Science is never “settled.” Einstein is in question today. I have a demo that shows adding CO2 to a flask of air does not cause the temperature to rise therein. See it at “http://ScienceFrauds.blogspot.com” and read “CO2 Is Innocent.” Clip it, check the stoichiometry or have a chemistry teacher, chemist or physicist authenticate the reactions, etc. and then you will know this has been the greatest fraud executed in history. So far it has cost America over $1 trillion and may well bankrupt us. It shows just how corrupt our government has been. We we fail this time we will know why.

    Google “Two Minute Conservative” for more.

  7. Above, ATTP suggests that I am exaggerating the Consensus disdain for skepticism, saying “That people disagree with your doubts doesn’t mean that they don’t view skepticism as central to our understanding.”

    I think you are confusing skepticism as a general attitude with climate skepticism, which is a social and political movement, as is the Consensus. The Consensus scientists despise climate skepticism. I offer as an example Santer’s “descent into ignorance” diatribe against the red team proposal:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/07/05/im-a-climate-scientist-and-im-not-letting-trickle-down-ignorance-win/?utm_term=.4ae4f63ca649

    Santer is a high ranking leader of the Consensus. I rank him in the top ten. There is an unlimited supply of quotes from Consensus scientists denigrating climate skepticism. Tobias’s “incompetent hacks” is typical.

    This is the reality within which the Red Team will operate.

    1. David,

      People discuss the climate science debate (distinct, but related, to the public policy debate) as if it were something rare and extraordinary. That is an ahistorical belief, since it is neither.

      This is a commonplace attack on an established paradigm, almost exactly as described by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (one of the most cited works about science of the 20th C).

      As for the personal insults, the fighting factions, fights to keep opposing views out of journals, the savage attacks on careers of dissidents — this is business as usual in academia during hot paradigm battles.

    2. David,

      I think you are confusing skepticism as a general attitude with climate skepticism, which is a social and political movement

      Ahh, indeed, I thought you meant actually skeptical. I didn’t realise you were meaning something more akin to being dubious.

    3. ATTP and David,

      ATTP: “I thought you meant actually skeptical. I didn’t realise you were meaning something more akin to being dubious.”

      Speaking of the laypeople crowd, most “climate skeptics” are not skeptical — so far as I can tell from replying to thousands of comments here, at WUWT, Climate Etc, and elsewhere I’ve posted. Rather their beliefs about climate change and climate science are a result of their ideological (and sometimes religious) beliefs. They are very often as ideological and closed-minded as the most hard-core far Left climate alarmists — and use the same illogical and rhetorical tricks.

      It’s easy to change a few words of their comments, making comments by “alarmists” and “skeptics” (labels) indistinguishable.

      Skepticism as a trait of scientists is seldom found in debates about climate science among laypeople.

  8. Let’s just cut to the chase. The chief “Climatologists” at the key US agencies have systematically altered the data to sell the Green Malthusian Catastrophe story they want to tell a la Steven Schneider. “Stephen Schneider and the “Double Ethical Bind” of Climate Change Communication.”

    In the past two years there has been a concerted effort to undo the data series that shows an 18 year “Pause” in global temperatures. The Climate High Priests went first went after the sea surface and upper ocean temperatures (Led by the infamous Thomas Karl); and just recently the RSS satellite data. Of course there is a long record of altering the land surface record to cool the past and warm the present.

    Tony Heller: “All Climate Adjustments Increase Over Time

    Similar outrages have occurred with sea level rise, the rate of which has been falling in recent ears with the Pause… and that data have been openly, brazenly reversed.

    You don’t need a PhD in atmospheric chemistry to see what’s going on. So just recruit “non-activist” scientists with competent skills and be done with it. Trump and Pruitt can basically do this. Are there scientific issues that are unresolved? Yes. If anything it may be that there is an insufficient sample size to really estimate global temperatures for example (Currently huge swatches of the planet are represented by bogus temperature “interpolations” or “data kriging”).

    Better to use the data on hand, lightly adjusted for legitimate reasons… If there are not enough data points across the globe, then there’s no story to tell.

    Right now the skeptics say the land thermometer data are bogus; the warmists say the satellite data are useless; tide gauges vs. satellite altimetry fights rage on… If everyone is right, then there are not enough data series to say much at all about climate… So maybe the professional need to resolve these issues… and when they’re ready for prime time, tell us what they have.

    In the meanwhile, Trump and Pruitt need to hand out a big dose of “You’re fired” and bring in some new blood.

    1. Larry: Your comment is pettifoggery. My comment pertained to spurious “adjustments” to the observed climate metrics. Instead you fisted on Tony Heller.

      In your links , you refer to Anthony Watts comments on his website. Watts, of course, provided breathless coverage of Climategate and then Mann’s “neat trick” and disappearing the MWP in the TAR. Watts &Co. certainly thought Tom Karl’s sea-surface data warming was unjustified, if not actually malicious. Roy Spencer’s withering critique of the latest RSS “adjustments” all but calls out the integrity of the RSS team.

      So whether you trust Tony Heller or not, the underlying principle is the same: that the climate record has been repeatedly distorted and manipulated by the Climate High Priests to remove any and all data that don’t support the idea that CO2 is the climate control knob.

      Watts provides his own account of how the temperature record is distorted. Watts says in the Reason article: “It is my view that while NOAA/NCDC is not purposely “fabricating” data, their lack of attention to detail in the process has contributed to a false warming signal in the USA, and they don’t much care about it because it is in line with their expectations of warming. The surface temperature record thus becomes a product of bureaucracy and not of hard science…Never ascribe malice to what can be explained by simple incompetence.”

      Either way– incompetence or malice– this points to the need for a general housecleaning at NASA, NOAA and related agencies. It seems you don’t agree… that’s your right. In any case, if you think it’s unfair or unreasonable to change leadership at these agencies, please make the case for “Incompetence or malice” yourself.

    2. Sara,

      Heller is a joke. Watts comment is quite reasonable, but says the opposite of your wild accusations.

      The nature of datasets is an ongoing debate in many (perhaps most) sciences. Funds are limited, and data collection is seldom a priority — as individuals and scientists prefer work that generates headlines for themselves, not collecting data that benefits others. It’s just life. Your bizarre and hysterical accusations are absurd.

      I’ve been a nice guy about this, but now I’m moderating further comments unless you stick to actual information. Not sensational junk or misrepresenting work of good researchers (like Watts).

  9. My last reply went to the wrong place so I will just quote and reply here at the end.

    Editor says: “People discuss the climate science debate (distinct, but related, to the public policy debate) as if it were something rare and extraordinary. That an ahistorical belief, since it is neither. This is a commonplace attack on an established paradigm, almost exactly as described by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (one of the most cited works about science of the 20th C). As for the personal insults, the fighting factions, the savage attacks on careers of dissidents — this is business as usual in academic.”

    I agree up to a point. My PhD Thesis was on Kuhn’s STR, especially the part were he describes proponents of competing paradigms as unable to achieve a coherent debate because the “talk past each other.” Kuhn said they spoke different languages and I refined this idea considerably. This led to several discoveries and a career in applied issue analysis. See this 1980 piece on my early work: “Logician shears woolly regulations. Blueprints untangle complex rules“, Engineering News Record, 3 April 1980.

    The climate change debate has been a major case study for me since 1992. It is indeed a relatively normal case of paradigms in collision. However, it is also deeply embedded in a huge policy issue, to the point where scientific opinions are strongly correlated with political views and leading scientists are political activists.

    This strikes me as historically unprecedented. I can find no prior case in the physical sciences of similar scope and magnitude. There is some precedent in the economics debates that accompanied the rise of Communism, where the policy stakes were also huge.

    1. David,

      “This strikes me as historically unprecedented.”

      It’s rare for a scientific issue to be have such large social and political effects, but not unprecedented. The social effects of Darwin’s work and the political effects of Keynes work both were far larger — far far larger — than anything yet seen from the climate debate.

      The centuries-long history of racial science was just as embedded in the social and political struggles, although (from what little I know) it does not seem to have had the effects of Darwin’s and Keynes’ work (and that following up on them).

      “My last reply went to the wrong place”

      I don’t see it anywhere on the FM website, in the comments nor in the spam bucket.

    2. First of all, I would say that “yet seen” is not the issue. Forced decarbonization of the global energy supply is a much bigger issue than social Darwinism (unless one includes building a master race) or Keynesian economics. Note too that the latter are not physical science, so that climate issue uniqueness holds.

      I think the uniqueness of the climate case derives largely from two novelties. The first is the regulatory state and the second is the discipline of environmental impact assessment (EIA). Both only arose in the last six decades or so. In fact my work on policy confusion began with the 1968 NEPA mandate to do EIA for all federal projects. I was involved in the 10 years of litigation that it took to define and standardize the EIA. The climate change issue is about a fabulously huge and complex EIA. The environment is the entire Earth system and the impact is focused on that from fire, which is still fundamental to our civilization. Still it is just a really big EIA.

      Likewise I helped centralize control over all federal regulatory programs in 1980, because by then the agencies had stopped paying people to do things and started just ordering them to do it. If environmental regulation did not control energy use then the climate issue would not arise, or not in its present form.

  10. The Red Team approach was conceived as a way of furthering the Blue Team’s agenda. But policy makers faced with technical issues over which expert interpretations and judgments differ would benefit most from an independent unbiased assessment of the relative merits of what the Blue and Red Teams assert.

    An approach to providing such an independent assessment was proposed half a century ago by Arthur Kantrowitz when experts were disagreeing publicly over the potential safety of nuclear power — “Proposal for an Institution for Scientific Judgment”, Science, 156 (1967) 763-4.

    This was much discussed for a time under the rubric of a possible “Science Court”. A few informal trials were made, a symposium was held in the early 1990s, but no such Court was actually established. More recently, some legal scholars have revisited the concept as a way of assisting the legal system as it needs increasingly to deal with cases where intricate technical issues play a central role and are presented in opposing directions by the expert witnesses called by plaintiff and defendant.

    A Science Court would have subpoena powers and the authority to force proponents of the range of interpretations to present their cases and to respond to cross-examination. The purpose of proceedings would not be to assist a Blue or a Red Team to a better winning strategy but that independent judges or assessors would be able to offer the best possible advice to policy makers; that would typically be a statement of the nature and degree of technical uncertainties and the likelihood of benefit or harm from possible actions.

    A just-published discussion of the Science Court concept forms chapter 12 in Science Is Not What You Think (McFarland 2017).

    1. Henry,

      A “science court” is the opposite of a Red Team. The Red Team is explicitly charged with thinking like the opposing force. It’s not supposed to be neutral. The audience for its results are senior management (i.e., senior officers and civilians for a military exercise, senior corporate managers in business).

      While opinions might differ, I don’t consider such a Court to be a mode of Alternative Analysis. It confuses analysis — bold, open-minded, challenging — with the very different protocols of judges, who must above all maintain their credibility.

      It might be a useful idea, but it seems a bit daft to me. Grandiose in concept, almost certain to produce frequent wrong reports which undermine the exaggerated billing of the Court. Imagine such if we had such a Court ruling on the great controversies of science in the past. They’d be considered a joke.

  11. Here is my reply that went wrong, not appearing under the comment it was addressed to, but responded to anyway.

    “David Wojick
    9 July 2017 at 12:55 pm
    Fabius, what do you mean by institutional sponsor? I expect this exercise to be sponsored by a federal agency like EPA and/or DOE.

    Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
    9 July 2017 at 12:57 pm
    David,

    That’s a bad idea. Agencies don’t do these things well. That’s why most such projects are Presidential Commissions, or by NSC or NAS.”

    My reply is that the USGCRP does the National Climate Assessment and it is a collection of agencies. Not that the USGCRP could do the Red Team exercise, because it is totally alarmist, as is the NAS for that matter. (I do not know what the NSC is in this context.) A Presidential Commission seems far too awkward, albeit interesting.

    1. David,

      “My reply is that the USGCRP does the National Climate Assessment and it is a collection of agencies.”

      That is nothing like an Alternative Analysis exercise (of which Red Team is one form). The NCA is the kind of thing A.A. is designed to test.

      In modern US history these kind of exercises are almost always done by Presidential Commissions, or quasi-govt but non-bureaucratic entities like the NSC and NAS. For good reason.

  12. In this context I would like to point to my latest research, which looks at the climate debate in US schools. The struggle is between skeptical and alarmist teachers, parents and students. A Red Team report could be very useful in this fight. Here are my three latest research articles:

    Left-wing newspapers lamenting student and parent skepticism? Good news!
    By David Wojick, CFACT, June 15, 2017
    http://www.cfact.org/2017/06/15/left-wing-newspapers-lamenting-student-and-parent-skepticism-good-news/

    Teachers teaching climate skepticism? More good news!
    By David Wojick, CFACT, June 19, 2017
    http://www.cfact.org/2017/06/19/teachers-want-to-teach-climate-skepticism-more-good-news/

    Teacher testimonials reveal rampant alarmism
    By David Wojick, CFACT, July 3, 2017
    http://www.cfact.org/2017/07/03/teacher-testimonials-reveal-rampant-alarmism/

    In addition I have started a project to help develop and circulate skeptical teaching materials. There are dozens of alarmist web portals spreading alarmist classroom content, many federal or federally funded, but no skeptical portals. I want to change that as follows:

    Join the Fight for Skepticism in Schools
    By David Wojick, Heartland Institute, June 16, 2017
    http://blog.heartland.org/2017/06/join-the-fight-for-skepticism-in-schools/

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