Lewandowsky – Climate Scientists should be listened to because they are wrong

Stephen Lewandowsky has another couple of papers out. From e! Science News

Scientific uncertainty has been described as a ‘monster’ that prevents understanding and delays mitigative action in response to climate change. New research by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Bristol, and international colleagues, shows that uncertainty should make us more rather than less concerned about climate change. In two companion papers, published today in Climatic Change, the researchers investigated the mathematics of uncertainty in the climate system and showed that increased scientific uncertainty necessitates even greater action to mitigate climate change.

The scientists used an ordinal approach — a range of mathematical methods that address the question: ‘What would the consequences be if uncertainty is even greater than we think it is?’

And

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Chair in Cognitive Psychology and member of the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol, said: “We can understand the implications of uncertainty, and in the case of the climate system, it is very clear that greater uncertainty will make things even worse. This means that we can never say that there is too much uncertainty for us to act. If you appeal to uncertainty to make a policy decision the legitimate conclusion is to increase the urgency of mitigation.”

Co-author, Dr James Risbey of Australia’s CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said: “Some point to uncertainty as a way to minimize the climate change problem, when in fact it means that the problem is more likely to be worse than expected in the absence of that uncertainty. This result is robust to a range of assumptions and shows that uncertainty does not excuse inaction.”

If we assume that catastrophic climate change is a fundamental truth, the authors are right. The task of climate science is to reveal that truth to the world. If that truth cannot be accurately accessed, then the consequences of unmitigated climate change will be greater than if they could be. But if there is no fundamental truth to be revealed then all what you have is a number of dogmatic people who cannot accept that their theories are not backed by the evidence. The failure to understand the path to climate catastrophe might be due to no climate catastrophe in prospect. Persistent failures increase the likelihood that the belief in the fundamental truth of climate catastrophism is just a cult. Circumstantial evidence is in the unique methods and language of the “science”; moral certitude; failure to appreciate climate change could be a trivial problem; belief in their infallibility; reliance on belief in science, as opposed to accepting science that fails to be falsified; failure to recognize that those who disagree may also have valid viewpoint; and the denigration of anybody who asks questions as heretics deniers. Further, the solution is always the same, fitting in with an extremist socialist-environmentalist world view. There is no recognition that mitigation policies can fail. If mitigation can avert climate catastrophe it is a tautology to state that if mitigation is only practiced in a few minor emitting countries, those countries will bear all the cost of policies, and future generations will endure virtually all the consequences. The same is tautological truth applies if mitigation is practiced globally, but fails to reduce emissions.

The pay walled papers are here and here.

Kevin Marshall

Update :Jo Nova has a satirical take on the latest Lew papers.

http://joannenova.com.au/2014/04/new-lewandowsky-study-finds-uncertainty-monster-under-his-bed-will-cost-billions/

Lewandowsky’s setback on campaign to undermine academic pluralism and excellence

The “Recursive Fury” paper, that allegedly libelled a number of bloggers1, has been taken down2. Lead author Stephan Lewandowsky has given his reaction at Shaping tommorow’s world.

Two of the “Recursive Fury” paper authors were Prof Lewandowsky and the blogger John Cook3. In 2011 they co-wrote “The Debunking Handbook“. I ask that readers view my comments in the context of the following opening statement:-

It’s self-evident that democratic societies should base their decisions on accurate information. On many issues, however, misinformation can become entrenched in parts of the community, particularly when vested interests are involved. Reducing the influence of misinformation is a difficult and complex challenge.

My comment is copied below. In brief I try to cover:-

  • Lewandowsky’s smearing of the majority with the views expressed by a minority.
  • Total failure to empathise with alternative points of view.
  • How his appeals for academic freedom are the reverse.
  • How the false allegations and smears are used to a shutdown questions on public policy.
  • How the “Lewandowsky Episode” can become a textbook example of why promotion of pluralism is necessary in our universities.
  1. ManicBeancounter at 20:37 PM on 23 March, 2014

    Stephan Lewandowsky,
    As a professor, you should be my intellectual superior. As a scientist you should be able to provide novel explanations about your subject area that go beyond what the non-specialist would find out for themselves, but at the same time accommodate the basic understanding that the non-specialist.
    Your “Hoax” paper ignored the obvious conclusion of the data. The vast majority of respondents did not believe in the cranky conspiracy theories, regardless of their views on “climate science”. Any “conspiracist ideation” revolves around differences in the small proportions that do. That means that the vast majority of “skeptics” who do not understand will feel insulted. Morally you should have clearly stated that any conclusions only apply to a small minority. The first part of the paper’s title inferred the opposite.
    “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax”
    Out of 1145 respondents, just 2 strongly rejected “climate science” and strongly supported that faxed moon landing theory. The question was not asked of those two people if they followed that path of reasoning. Unsurprisingly, when you smear people with ideas that they find insulting they express outrage. There is nothing “confected” about this.
    There are three things that make this beyond the pale of academic freedom
    First, you do not advance knowledge, but to repress the obvious empirical statement (the vast majority do not believe in cranky conspiracy theories) with the opposite.
    Second is that the smears is to deny a group of people who you disagree with a voice.
    Third, is that you use false allegations of intellectual inferiority to evaluate climate “science”, to prevent a voice in matters of public policy. Yet the voices that you seek to repress often have far greater understanding and knowledge of economics and policy implementation than you and your fellow-travelling academics.
    Academic freedom must be protected so that ideas and knowledge that challenge society’s established beliefs can be nurtured. But that must be accompanied by a deliberate policy of pluralism, for there are none so defensive of their protecting their beliefs or ideas as those who spent their lives developing them. Professor Lewandowsky, your work in the last three years should become a textbook example of the attempts and consequences to suppress that freedom.

  2. ManicBeancounter at 06:39 AM on 24 March, 2014

    Geoff,

    Your comment 68 shows a basic function of peer review. Correcting the obvious errors. If there is no such quality control then the demarcation between academic and non-academic literature simply collapses. Further, if the academia cannot easily distinguish the excellent from the dross, then there must be a quality control before their recommendations are passed into public policy. Much the same way are new pharmaceuticals must go through rigorous regulatory testing before being proscribed to the public.

  3. ManicBeancounter at 06:59 AM on 24 March, 2014

    My comments as 57 and 70 should be viewed in the context of the opening comment in the “The Debunking Handbook”, written by John Cook and Stephen Lewandowsky and accessible on the right column.

    “It’s self-evident that democratic societies should base their decisions on accurate information. On many issues, however, misinformation can become entrenched in parts of the community, particularly when vested interests are involved. Reducing the influence of misinformation is a difficult and complex challenge.”

    By any independent measure the “Hoax” and “Recursive Fury” papers are full of misinformation. The authors aim at establishing a monopoly on truth, but by their very words, and subsequent behaviour, show that they are the last people you would entrust with that monopoly. There is no better example for the need of democratic societies to promote pluralism through competition in their universities to prevent the establishment of dogma. This is particularly true in Australia and the UK, where Government’s would like their universities to be World-leading.

Notes

  1. This includes Steve McIntyre, Barry Woods, Geoff Chambers and “Foxgoose”.
  2. See BishopHill (here and here), Geoff Chambers, Steve McIntyre, Australian Climate Madness (here and here), and the Guardian.
  3. This is the same John Cook who thinks he can define the meaning of words better than a dictionary.

Kevin Marshall

Lewandowsky fails his own low standards

Prof Stephen Lewandowsky keeps on digging a deeper hole for himself, and anybody associated with him. At “Shaping Tomorrow’s World” he has posted his personal values statement. Ben Pile has given it a pretty good frisking. A part of these beliefs is that opinions should only be expressed and debated in the peer-reviewed literature. This is interesting given that many of Lewandowsky’s arguments are outside the peer-reviewed literature. In a comment, I gave a recent example that undermines his claims:-

A major argument of Lewandowsky, is that critics of climate change are a bunch of conspiracy theory-loving nutters. At “The Conversation”, a taxpayer-funded blog for Australian and British academics to sound off, Prof. Lewandowsky stated

While consistency is a hallmark of science, conspiracy theorists often subscribe to contradictory beliefs at the same time – for example, that MI6 killed Princess Diana, and that she also faked her own death.

This was from a peer-reviewed study, that stated

In Study 1(n= 137), the more participants believed that Princess Diana faked her own death, the more they believed that she was murdered.

Steve McIntyre, with some difficulty, obtained the data. There was a reason for the author being a bit circumspect. McIntyre said

Within the Wood dataset, only two (!) respondents purported to believe that Diana faked her own death. Neither of these two respondents also purported to believe that MI6 killed Princess Diana. The subpopulation of people that believed that Diana staged her own death and that MI6 killed her was precisely zero.

The reason that the authors, the peer-reviewers and Prof. Lewandowsky failed to pick up on this is that they failed to do basic check on the data, using pivot tables. Instead, they rely on sophisticated statistical tests that Lewandowsky himself has used in his hoax paper. (The reason for the failure was succinctly expressed by Brandon Shallonberger in the comments) Ben Pile also used simple pivot tables, and eloquent language to completely demolish Lewandowsky’s 2012 hoax paper.

This example demonstrates three things

1. Lewandowsky does not stick to his own peer-reviewed rules.

2. Peer review can fail spectacularly.

3. Alternative opinions of data are possible, and the best analysis does not necessarily come from the most sophisticated techniques on the whizziest computers.

3. Lewandowsky swallowed misinformation because it accorded with his beliefs and lack of expertise in interpreting statistics. As a psychology professor studying misinformation, who is also “an award-winning teacher of statistics“, this is far less excusable than any trivial mistakes by the people he attacks.

Tyndall Centre’s New Totalitarianism

Updated with more examples 14/12/13 11am

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research (HQ at the University of East Anglia, with branch office just down road from me at Manchester University) held The Radical Emission Reduction Conference: 10-11 December 2013 at the offices of the Royal Society. Joanne Nova reporting on the conference quoted the following:-

Today, in 2013, we face an unavoidably radical future. We either continue with rising emissions and reap the radical repercussions of severe climate change, or we acknowledge that we have a choice and pursue radical emission reductions: No longer is there a non- radical option.

My first reaction was

These people have not discovered logic or the real world outside of their groups. For instance

1. Where are the robust, unambiguous, forecasts of “severe climate change” impacts? Lacking this, the “do-nothing” scenario could be an alternative.

2. Radical emission reduction policies may not work. Useless policies could end up causing mass impoverishment, leaving future generations much less able to cope with the coming climate apocalypse.

3. Radical emission reduction policies may be both necessary and work in theory, but will never be enacted because “radical” activists have not learnt the art of persuasion and appreciating that other points of view are possible.

Following an initial reading of the conference abstracts, this initial reaction was somewhat understated. The 1.01MB file is at radicalplanabstracts.pdf. Some notes.

The Philosopher’s case for Totalitarianism

On pages 15 to 17 is ‘Responsibility for radical change in emission of greenhouse gases’

Page 16

Generally it is acceptable to frame scenarios of climate change in terms of cost-efficiency, percentages of emission reduction or the target atmospheric CO2 concentration. Yet we develop the argument that predefining the outcome of any change limits the possible processes leading to this change. In fact, when we already know the necessary outcome, the change that is necessary cannot be considered radical at all.

Page 17

For the radical change in greenhouse gas emissions the responsibility towards the radicalness of change means that those involved in the climate change negotiations and policy-making need to let go of their preconceived notions of climate, change, and general structure of cause and effect, science and human life.

And in conclusion

We argue that one cannot desire radical change without acknowledging that we (individuals and institutions) may be swept off our feet, that we may lose influence and control. We need to accept that modifications are not going to bring about radical emission reductions. What we need is radical change, including radical change in our own backyard, our understanding of leadership and in our own epistemic notions of what change means.

All that matters is saving the planet. It is not about saving the planet for future generations, as we humans do not matter. It is not about the climate models being accurate – as they are supposed to about modelling cause (increasing greenhouse gas levels) with the effect (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming). And it is not science.

The Economist’s case for Totalitarianism

On pages 7 to 9 is ‘Demand-side regulation in the policy mix to achieve radical CO2 reductions: modelling global decarbonisation with E3MG

Page 7

Radical reductions in CO2 emissions from reductions in consumption of fossil fuels across the economy could be modelled as coming from changes in life-styles, regulations or prices or a mix of all three. The main demand-side sources arise from the use of fossil fuels in buildings, transport and industry, and indirectly, via the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels. We assume that the power sector becomes decarbonised via a mix of emission trading schemes and regulations. We then consider the implications of a rapid reduction in demand-side fossil-fuel use coming from higher energy prices and regulation of equipment standards and energy efficiency.

To achieve the plan, all the advanced countries (and some not-so-advanced like Belarus) will introduce emissions trading schemes ETS with low tariffs in 2015, sharply escalating after 2020. Emerging economies (e.g. China, Brazil & Mexico) will introduce schemes in 2020 at lower rates. By 2030, in conjunction with tougher economic regulations, coal-fired power stations will be phased out.

With respect to the regulations

These effects are then strengthened from 2020 onwards, with the energy saving, the associated investment and increase in prices all rising by some 17%pa. By 2030 the strength of the regulations is about 5 times that assumed by the IEA. The scale of this increase gives an indication of just how strong regulations have to become.

Italics mine. The plan will only work if it far, far tougher than anything yet on the table. At least the models predict that there will be a small net benefit.

The Increase in investment, including indirect effects, is about 4% above the reference scenario by 2030. Combined with the effects of revenue recycling and the lower growth in world oil prices, it generates more output and employment, raising both growth rates by some 0.2 percentage points each year over the decade.

So in China, which has had near 10% annual growth for over two decades based on cheap coal-based energy, can switch to much more expensive and less reliable “clean” energy sources, with a small net benefit. Hmmm.

People will change their lifestyles if they are unable to afford to do otherwise. Businesses who do not respond will be expropriated for the common good, and their denialist bosses sent to be re-educated in labour camps. The plan will work, and the economic models are infallible. Any deviation from the plan will be therefore be due to economic sabotage.

The Psychologist sees a problem – but does not want to say so

On pages 12 to 13 is ‘Psychology of human acceptance and engagement

A short abstract, quoted in full

The need to voluntarily write off fossil fuel reserves is now clear. The continuing exponential nature of CO2 emissions tells us that none of the talk and action to date on climate change has produced a detectable dent in the trajectory. It also strongly suggests that since efficiency and innovation have gone hand in hand with emissions growth, they are, in themselves, more likely to be integral to the dynamics of growth than to enable mitigation. The exponentiality further suggests that a feedback mechanism needs breaking at the global system level; there is plenty of evidence that local reductions are absorbed elsewhere in the system, like a squeezed balloon.

(Especially in the absence of very widespread CCS), a global constraint on the extraction of fuel is a ‘must have’. All actions can therefore be viewed in terms of their contribution to the conditions under which the global socio- economic system might shift to one in which humans have voluntarily agreed to leave fuel in the ground. Such conditions are more than the cocktail of science, politics, technology and economics to which most climate change analysis, including the above summary, is constrained. The most critically lacking element is the psychology of human acceptance of and engagement with a problem such as climate change, characterised by its abstraction, uncertainty and inescapably global systemic nature. We need to view this as an unsolved mystery, the most ignored part of the puzzle and critical to bridging the void between rationale analysis and policy.

My interpretation is that human beings do not want to sacrifice their immediate interests to some ill-defined and distant goals spoken by some “Johnny foreigners” who do not share their values. Further, leaders of energy-producing authoritarian countries will not leave these fossil fuels in the ground when they know that to do so would lead to economic collapse, swiftly followed by a violent overthrow of their regimes and their possible deaths.

The Social Scientist’s case for a Dictatorship

On pages 23 to 25 is ‘Social science prospects for radical change’

The only acknowledged truth is from the UNIPCC and the Stern Review. No acknowledgement that contrary perspectives are possible.

Social psychologists, among others, have drawn attention to the potential for climate mitigation which could be unlocked through the application of insights into the affective, cognitive, value-based, and social and broader contextual determinants of people’s actions.

Social Scientists must change the way we think.

Despite the acknowledged need to understand and influence the role of the individual in contributing to climate change, the disparity between what might be and what has been achieved has become discomfiting.

 

They are not getting the message across, and they cannot understand why.

 

With the exception of the establishment of a small number of iconic behaviours such as recycling, it has proved extremely difficult to bring about meaningful transformations in personal emissions at either the individual or societal level. On the basis of a number of reviews, it would seem that whilst some change is achievable, there are profound limits to what can be accomplished using current, conventional approaches.

 

Translation – we need more power.

 

Current methods of persuasion have failed. We need something different.

 

First up is control of the press, followed by enforced re-education have been the historical approaches.

 

There has been an expectation that change be confined to small-scale and undemanding changes in behaviour (for example, switching off unused appliances); a concomitant neglect of highly impactful activities because of the perceived political infeasibility of doing so (for example, levels of consumption);

 

Translation – we need more power.

 

… a reluctance on the part of social scientists to take strong normative positions (specifically, to see themselves as advocates for change rather than disinterested theoreticians);

 

Translation – we need stronger and more dogmatic beliefs in the cause.

 

…. and a lack of integration – and at times outright hostility – between different disciplinary traditions (for example between behavioural science and social practice based approaches).

 

Translation – we need only achieve this power if we unite into a unified force.

 

In the first instance, we suggest that a radical social science of climate change mitigation would set out deliberately to enter territory which is complex and often seemingly intractable – but where personal emissions are significant.

 

Basically ban the use of cars and forget about foreign holidays in aeroplanes. Persuade people to do without the elements of consumerist society, such as designer clothes, televisions, computers, washing machines, Christmas etc.

 

That these behavioural changes are nothing to do with combatting a global climate change problem is shown by a very telling omission. There is no mention of any country other than the UK.

 

Democracy and human rights may have to be suspended

 

On pages 25 to 26- ‘Is wartime mobilisation a suitable policy model for rapid national climate mitigation?

 

The abstract concludes

 

We find that, while wartime experience suggests some potential strategies for rapid climate mitigation in the areas of finance and labour, it also has severe limitations, resulting from its lack of democratic processes. Furthermore, since restructuring the existing socio-economic system to mitigate climate change is more complex than fighting a war and since the threat of climate change is less obvious to non-scientists, it is unlikely that the public will be unified in support of such executive action.

 

Again, nothing about the global economy, just the UK.

 

And opportunities exploited for a radical redistribution of emissions

 

On pages 27 to 29 is ‘Personal carbon trading in a radical future

 

Personal carbon trading (PCT) is a radical and innovative mitigation policy which offers an equitable means of reducing emissions from household energy use and personal travel. PCT offers two dimensions of fairness – firstly, everyone gets an equal carbon allowance, a ‘fair share’. Secondly, modelling of the impacts of a PCT scheme shows it would be progressive and would disadvantage fewer low-income people than an alternative policy of carbon taxation.

 

Everyone will be allocated an equal share, and the computer models show that it will work.

 

What is left out is the problem of rolling this out globally to solve a global problem.

 

As I always say, compare and contrast my interpretations with what is actually written. When a publicly-funded body brings together a number of academics from different disciplines, all calling for massively increased power, there is something amiss. When it is held within the UK’s “academy of sciences” building, it is being given an official veneer of respectability.

 

NB First time comments are moderated. The comments can be used as a point of contact.

Kevin Marshall

Lewandowsky’s false inference from an absurd correlation

Steve McIntyre has posted a number of instances where Stephan Lewandowsky has reported correlations for which there is little or no evidence. My comment is

Even more bizarre than absurd correlations, is to draw inferences of cause and effect from correlations, when there are a huge number of equally valid (or invalid) inferences that can be made.

The title of the Hoax paper is “NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science“. The first part implies that, due to coming to believe that the moon landing was faked, survey respondents reasoned that climate science was also a hoax. But, given that this survey was only on climate blogs, is it not more likely that the respondent’s rejection of “official” or orthodox version of events goes the other way?

Looking at the data there is a similar issue of low numbers on support of the paired statements. Only 10/1145 supported CYMoon. Of these only 3 supported CYClimChange. Of these only 2 scored “4″ for both. And these were the two faked/scam/rogue respondents 860 & 889 whose support of every conspiracy theory underpinned many of the correlations. The third, 963, also supported every conspiracy theory. Let us assume that they are genuine believers in all the conspiracy theories. Further, let us assume that one of the 13 conspiracies in the survey did trigger a response of the form “because I now know A was a conspiracy, I now believe B is a conspiracy”. There are 2n(n-1)= 312 possible versions of this statement. Or, more likely, no such reasoning process went through any respondent’s mind at all. Given the question was never asked, and there is no supporting evidence for the statement “NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax” it most likely a figment of someone’s imagination.

Data in support of this statement

In the survey the answer 1 was a strong rejection, 4 a strong support. Out of 1145 responses, only 6 strongly supported the “NASA faked the Moon Landing” hypothesis, and a further 4 lent support to it. Of these 10, only 3 support the “Climate Change is a Hoax” statement.

The strong support for conspiracy theories is shown by giving the average score of respondents over all 13 conspiracy questions. The 3 that supported by CYMoon and CYClimChange had the highest average scores of all 1145 respondents.

Stephan Lewandowsky – a self-confessed danger to democracy

Australian Climate Madness takes a swipe at Stephan Lewandowsky’s latest taxpayer-funded polemic. This is an extended version of my comment.

Lewandowsky’s sneaky request “to mention only my assistant’s name, Charles Hanich, on the online survey” has particular relevance to what followed. Before Joanne Nova published her “Lewandowsky show skeptics are nutters… post, she contacted a number of skeptic bloggers to search their inbox for Lewandowsky’s survey. There was no mention of his research assistant in the paper, so naturally all the resultant searches drew a blank. On this basis I wrote on 03.09.12:-

The claim in the paper that they contacted five sceptical blogs to improve the spread of views is highly suspect.

It turns out that my suspicions were correct. Stephen Lewandowsky had not contacted any of the skeptic sites, and deliberately kept people in the dark as to this fact.

Lewandowsky posted on 10.09.12 at Shaping Tomorrow’s World

1. When will an apology be forthcoming for the accusations launched against me? And how many individuals should now be issuing a public apology?

To explore the magnitude of this question we must take stock of public statements that have been made about my research. For example, one blogger considered it “highly suspect” whether I had contacted any “skeptic” sites. (emphasis mine)

Linking to my comment, Prof. Lewandowsky, knowing my suspicions to be true, brazenly demands that I apologize for daring to suspect him.

He digs himself a deeper hole by saying later

we now know that the presumed lack of evidence was actually evidence for a measure of carelessness or shoddy record keeping among the individuals contacted.

It gets worse. Prof Lewandowsky co-wrote with John Cook a short pamphlet called The Debunking Handbook.

It’s self-evident that democratic societies should base their decisions on accurate information. On many issues, however, misinformation can become entrenched in parts of the community, particularly when vested interests are involved. Reducing the influence of misinformation is a difficult and complex challenge.

What Lewandowsky engaged in was misinformation. He asked to keep secret his identity, gave obscure (or non-existent) clues to emails and then claimed bloggers “amnesia” when they failed to find emails sent to them by unidentified individual. He did this whilst believing that such misinformation would work to the advantage of himself and his unsupported beliefs, whilst undermining democracy.

He later went onto attack my simple analysis using pivot tables. Yet such analysis revealed much the LOG12 paper omitted. For example

- how few skeptic responses there were (c.15%)

- how few supported many of the conspiracy theories (e.g. Moon landing hoax = 10/1145, AIDS created by US Govt = 9/1145)

- That key to the higher proportion of skeptics supporting conspiracy theories were two rogue responses.

The whole paper is misinformation, aimed at getting an alleged majority to discriminate against those who have alternative points of view. Lack of any counter-balance is the major factor that makes people vulnerable to misinformation. Further research on belief in conspiracy theories would reveal that they are more predominant in communities where there are strong belief systems with enforced dominance.

Kevin Marshall

Anyone who wishes to contact me can do so through the comments. I will not publish any such request made in a non-threatening fashion. I will publish counter-arguments, so that others might compare and contrast for themselves.

Ed Davey’s anti-science, anti-British and anti-Liberal attack on Climate Sceptics

Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Climate and Energy has, according to the Telegraph recently said

“Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

I agree that there are uncertainties with climate science. But if you only allow believers in that “science” to contribute, without any training in decision-making under conditions of uncertainty, then the conclusions drawn out of that research will be wrong.

“But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups,”

Such as the Guardian, the BBC, or central government departments? It can work both ways.

“This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.”

Are you speaking of sceptics or of climatology? You must first establish that climatology is not just a science, but is a science of the highest standards.

“This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.”

Matthew 7:3-5 says

Why do you stare at the splinter in your neighbour’s eye, but ignore the plank in your own? How can you say to your neighbour “Here – let me get the splinter out of your eye,” when you’ve got the plank in your own? You’re just play-acting! First take the plank out of your own eye, then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your neighbour’s eye.”

These two thousand year old words, translated by Tom Wright (Britain’s leading New Testament Scholar and former Bishop of Durham), show the issue of climatology. Professor Stephan Lewandowsky or Bob Ward, or desmogblog are some of the “planks” that deliberately blind and prejudice people from examining the evidence, moral and political arguments for themselves. Putting in a milder fashion, you cannot say that people are wrong, or have a massively inferior argument, if you cannot first demonstrate that you are on the side of truth, or encourage others compare and contrast your arguments with the opponents. As I posted last week, there is a strong lack of a positive case for the science. As I posted last week, this should be a combination of trumpeting the short-term predictive successes, showing that climate science build on the traditions of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science and also of the moral case covered below.

“This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is hopelessly misguided.”

Rubbish. Criticism of policy is often for separate reasons to scientific uncertainty. The argument is that the costs of policy are far greater than then benefits. Some of the policy might be totally ineffective, or in trying to reduce CO2 emissions may make people less capable of dealing with the impacts, through making them poorer.

He added: “By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.”

Sceptics say that climatologists selectively read the evidence. Many would say that increased CO2 provides net benefits, and I do not come across any blog that we should create general pollution without a care. Many of the leading sceptic blogs (WUWT, BishopHill, Jo Nova) accept that increased greenhouse gases will lead to some level of warming, but not a significant one. As put by Warren Meyer, most sceptics deny the catastrophe, not the basic science.

“Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take a massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds.”

I believe that morally politicians should act like medical professionals. They should have a duty of care towards the patient. That duty should be based on the reasonable expectation that treatment will leave the patient better off than not being treated at all. If anyone claims that climatology and public-policy making have the same level of knowledge of diagnosis and treatment as medical professionals and pharmacy on such ailments as common cancers or arthritis, then they are wrong. I would say that climate “ethics” needs to catch up with medical ethics as well.

Finally, let me point to four areas where Ed Davey is severely out of line.

First, my late father voted for the Liberal Party for over 50 years at every election – bar at one local election where no Liberal was standing. Then he voted for the underdog Conservative candidate. He believed in the consensus through seeking the middle ground, a thoroughly British trait. This middle ground was the opposite of the extremism of climatology, which is increasingly about demeaning the opposition and denying them a platform to speak.

Second, a virtue of English Common Law is that of letting the accused have the same rights of presentation, and to have the same rules of evidence as for the prosecution. This is not in the belief that the most notorious criminals can get off scot free. It is because the most guilty who proclaim their innocence will most convince an independent jury of their guilt as their lies and ridiculous stories unravel. On the other side, if the prosecution, convinced of the guilt of the accused perverts or supresses the evidence, the later unravelling of the case will undermine the rule of law. It did with the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, men falsely sentenced for heinous crimes that they did not commit. Another example is that I strongly believe that those who do not accept that around six million Jews were massacred in the Nazi genocide should not be silenced. Rather, comparing their evidence will the overwhelming evidence of the historical truth will demonstrated that there is no debate, and those deniers are have an inability to assess the evidence. Silencing such views will lead to false conspiracy theories that there is something to hide.

Third, is the British sense of fair play. The very British idea of having a level playing field is not unconnected to the fact that most major sports are British inventions, or have been strongly influenced by British rule-making. Winning is not at any cost is not the point. It is playing the game to the best of one’s ability. There is a lesson in life as well. Somebody might be far superior in a sport, or in science, or in any intellectual field, than anyone else alive. But it is only by going head-to-head with others that everyone will be convinced. But in losing in sport, we go back and try harder. If we are beaten in science, we are forced to re-examine our conclusions, and may improve. Finding out where we went wrong, or how to improve from failures is a general lesson in life. Within wider society it leads to improvement.

Fourth is something very anti-British. The most evil powers, whether governments, religious cults or tribal gangs, are those who assert their power by belittling and silencing others. Ed Davey and climatologists are not in their league by any means. But they fall into a false sense of superiority by demeaning others. It is a very human trait to practice this, but has mostly held back humanity.

The previous Secretary of State, Chris Huhne, earlier this year convicted of perverting the course of justice, was similarly dogmatic. Why there should be two ministers so at odds with the older philosophy of the moderate Liberal Party traditions is the subject of the next post.

Three Positive Ways to Counter Climate Denial

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I am deeply sceptical of the whole global warming scare. That stems from trying to compare and contrast the arguments through understanding different positions. One element I found coming to the fore is trying to shut down any criticism by maligning of opponents through untruths, derogatory comments and questioning of motives. A recent example of is Paul Syvrets’ attack on Jo Nova, a Vince Whirlwind’s follow up to my comment.

Suppose for one moment that alarmists of being on the side of science, and hold the fundamental truth about the coming apocalypse unless the human race repents of its evil ways. As climate science is based on public relations, I would suggest that the whole approach of attacking opponents and shutting them out of the media is a PR disaster. Tell somebody they are wrong and smearing them will get their backs up and help persuade others you are not on the side of truth. Now scientific models are too difficult for the lay public to understand, and outputs ambiguous to the uninitiated.

Let me suggest three, very positive, ways of winning over people from the “false prophets of climate denial”.

First is building up a track record in predictions

As I have often read, only true climate scientists can understand the science. But people will understand when through the using the climate models clear, bold predictions are made that later come true. Nobody will expect a 100% hit rate, but a good track record will be sufficient to convert the most waverers.

Let me help out with some examples, which I am sure some climate scientists can complete.

  1. More than twenty years ago the models predicted a continuing upward trend in global surface temperatures if greenhouse gases emissions were not severely curtailed. Emissions have exceeded our worst expectations so…..
  2. In 2000 in both Britain and Germany, it was predicted that children would grow up no knowing what snow was. The decreasing can trend can be found ……
  3. Following the massive heat wave in Europe in 2003, it was predicted that would extreme heat waves would become more frequent. This trend is shown….
  4. Following Hurricane Katrina, it was predicted that would be an upward trend in these severe storms. The evidence can be found……
  5. In 2007 the UNIPCC predicted that climate change could lead to a drop fall in crop yields by up to 50% in some African countries by 2020. The latest evidence to support this prediction consists of…..
  6. One of the most visible signs of warming is the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro. This continuing trend can be found…..
  7. One of the most dire predicted consequences of global warming is accelerating sea level rise. The latest data demonstrating this trend can be found at…
  8. One of the biggest contributors of sea level rise is melting of the polar ice caps. Velicogna and Wahr 2006 predicted that the contribution to sea level rise from Greenland alone would rise from zero to 7mm per annum between 2002 and 2012. The actual data to support this is to be found……

Second is that the doubters believe that climate scientists practice pseudo-science.

To counter this

  • Show that the methods are in the tradition of the greatest scientists like Newton, Pasteur, Einstein and Feynman. Where different, explain why climate science’s methods are superior, or more appropriate.
  • Define clearly the boundaries of climate science, and the different skills and specialisms within it. People might then start appreciating what how complex and diverse the subject actually is.
  • Demonstrate how climate science learns from the different philosophies of science.
  • Demonstrate how climate science utilizes basic distinctions of philosophy. For instance the differences between open and closed questions, between positive and normative statements and between a priori and empirical statements.
  • Show how, like in the field of medical science, climate science is advancing and over-turning or modifying previously held views through better quality analysis.
  • Climate science needs to draw upon a number of areas. Demonstrating how the science draws upon specialists in statistics, forecasting and other disciplines where it overlaps.
  • Show how proper controls are being implemented and adhered to in order to prevent any conflicts of interest from, for instance, the same people creating temperature sets who are also the trying to vigorously promote their theories.

Third is the support of policy controls

Medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies fully realise that whilst medication properly diagnosed can deliver huge benefits, it they can also generate great harm if there is not proper diagnosis, or the incorrect medication, or dosage of that medication was proscribed. Similarly, there would be great concern if the armed forces did not have proper control of their weapons, so that rogue elements could seize control of those weapons to start an insurrection.

From a policy point of view, the UNIPCC in the Summary for Policymakers in 2007 that

Peer-reviewed estimates of the social cost of carbon in 2005 average US$12 per tonne of CO2, but the range from 100 estimates is large (-$3 to $95/tCO2).

Given that it would be totally immoral to impose policy whose consequences are more damaging that the issue it is supposed to alleviate, proposals for the proper implementation and control of policy are to be found ……

I welcome any discussion or debate on these issues. If you have more examples, or help with links, please use the comments.

Kevin Marshall

Update 29/05/13 23.56

To encourage debate , left the following comment at http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/six-aspects-of-denial/

In any realm of life, calling people names, or making claims that they think are false will only get their backs up. Further blocking them from any access to the media will generate the idea they are a victimized minority.
The best public relations present positive images about one’s own ideas. Negative images of opponents always backfire. I have made three suggestions how this might be done.
First, loudly proclaim the predictions of climate change that have come true.
Second, counteract the claims of pseudo-science by demonstrating that climate science not only builds of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science, but enhances them.
Third, disperse the claims about pursuing high-risk policies, by proposing safeguards and audit checks against them being usurped by profiteers and swindlers.
See http://manicbeancounter.com/2013/05/29/three-positive-ways-to-counter-climate-denial/

Update 30/05/2013 03.00

Watching the Deniers says:

Nice comment. Thanks for posting it.

I hope this leads to positive discussion, and recognition that there are legitimate positions that can be taken contrary to one’s own. 

Update 30/05/2013 00.19

Have also contacted desmog.blog at http://www.desmogblog.com/contact_us with the following.

As you are experts in public relations, you must realize that negative images against opponents will create a group of “victims” who will garner support from the alleged “oppression” by the media. Much better is to present positive image of climate science. I have suggested three ways this could be done at my blog.

http://manicbeancounter.com/2013/05/29/three-positive-ways-to-counter-climate-denial/

Best Regards
Kevin Marshall

Update 02/06/2013 20.40

Posted to the Guardian  here:-

Why all this negativity? Imagine if a similar public relations campaign was launched against those who deny that six million Jews died in the Holocaust? Headline would be

“Deniers of the Holocaust are wrong because they disagree with 99.9% of expert historians.”

It would have just created an underclass of believers in denial, claiming that the “truth” was being suppressed. I know that projections about the future are more difficult to persuade people of than historical facts, but a positive public relations campaign might include:- 
1. Short-term predictive successes. A track record of bold predictions that turn out true is highly persuasive.
2. Showing that climate science is building on traditions of the greatest scientists and philosophies of science.
3. Third is the support of policy controls. Many nay-sayers point to alleged policy failures that enrich businesses at the expense of the poor. Campaigning for independent auditing of policy outcomes would show concern for wider society.

Reply to Hengist McStone’s “Climate Truthers and 9/11 Skeptics”

At the Heretics Corner blog of Hengist McStone has a posting “Why can’t we have climate truthers and 911 skeptics?” My comment, which I am about to submit is:-

Your statement that

“running through the heart of climate skepticism is the belief that truth about climate science has been suppressed”

is a new one on me. Major climate sceptic blogs (WUWT, Jo Nova, BishopHill) do not see a hiding of the truth, but that a lot of spurious claims are based on very little evidence and of prophesies that fail to come true. They also point to other ways of looking at the data. They would agree that the public is being misled, but this is about the quality of the science, and ultimately the very definition of what is called “science”.

There is a huge weight of evidence for 911 being an act of al-Qaeda terrorism, with no assistance from the CIA. Similarly there is a huge weight of evidence for millions of Jews being killed in the Holocaust and that the average adult smoking 60 cigarettes a day from age 18 will live a much shorter and unhealthier life than the average adult who never inhales a single lung full.

Analogy with these different strongly-supported propositions can be in three areas. The first is on based on numbers of expert supporters of a proposition. The second is showing that there is similarly very strong evidence. The third is showing that techniques and standards of outside from other areas are utilized.

Use of the first area is attempting to gain credibility by association. The second area would make analogy and name-calling superfluous. The third area is contradicted by claims that only expert climate scientists can divine the real truth.

Perhaps another analogy would help. Suppose that a popular and charismatic celebrity is accused of rape of young children. Despite the overwhelming evidence showing that person’s guilt the accused vehemently denies the charges and many who idolise that person make all sorts of spurious claims about the evidence and the victims. What would be the best course of action?

  1. Dispense with a trial due to the overwhelming evidence, then deny a voice to those who not believing that their idol is guilty, question the evidence. Furthermore, mount a propaganda campaign against “evidence deniers” and “supporters of paedophilia”.
  2. Have a fair trial, even funding the defence, so that people can see the evidence being presented and challenged. If the evidence is overwhelming, the idolizers will be silenced.

I would suggest that the first course of action is taken by those who dogmatic belief in their being right is based upon very little evidence.  Widely applied would undermine people’s faith in the ability of the court system to achieve justice, thereby undermining the rule of law. Widespread practice will result in highly repressive regimes, often with discrimination against sections of the community, in particular anyone who challenges orthodoxy. The second approach might sometimes result in the guilty getting found not guilty on a technicality, or getting found guilty of lesser crimes. But pursuit of the highest standards will win over the doubters and gain support for the rule of law. This is the thinking that led to the development of the trial by jury system in Anglo-Saxon England. If you give people a fair and open trial, then others will trust authority. If you let a ruler or appointed expert divine the truth, then, even when they consistently get decisions right there will be distrust. If they are perceived to get things wrong, or the process is hidden from public view, then distrust will emerge.

In a similar fashion, supporters of climatology are making a massive public relations blunder. Rather than engaging in open debate, and encouraging people to analyse the differing arguments they make false analogies, misrepresent the opponents and discourage people from questioning, or comparing differing points of view. 

James Hansen favouring Richard Lindzen over IPCC

Much has been made of James Hansen’s recent claim in a youtube video that runaway global warming will make the oceans boil. However, people have not picked up an earlier point, where the father of global warming alarmism clearly contradicts the consensus.

In the first minute of the clip, Hansen talks about the impact of ice sheets disintegrating in the polar regions. All this extra cold fresh water decreases ocean temperatures. This, in turn, increases the temperature gradient between the poles and the tropics. This, in turn, increases the strength of storms.

If Hansen looks his own GISSTEMP figures for global average temperatures, he will notice that the warming has been higher is the Artic than in the tropics. According to UNIPCC in 2007, the fastest warming in this century will be in the Arctic. I propose that cooling of the Arctic Ocean will have two effects. First it will counterbalance the most extreme warming of the planet, thereby reduce the total temperature rise. Also it will counter-balance some of the rise in temperatures, so reducing the impact of Greenland ice melt and slowing the reduction in sea ice. Second, it will reduce the impact of extreme storms. If melting ice cools the oceans, it is a negative feedback.



Sources of the boiling oceans comment are:-

WUWT comments 2 and 3 by Eric Worrall

http://carbon-sense.com/ on April 13th 2013

C3 Headlines


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