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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Climate models are skilful - Gavin Schmidt and TED give us 10 lessons in denialism at WUWT

Sou | 3:00 PM Go to the first of 31 comments. Add a comment


To show how even-handed he is, Anthony Watts posted a TED video of Gavin Schmidt talking about climate models (archived here).  Anthony wrote:

Love him or hate him, it is worthwhile to understand where he is coming from, so I present this video: The emergent patterns of climate change.

The "love him or hate him" is the language of deniers. They aren't interested so much in what Dr Schmidt has to say, they prefer to get personal.  It's a "must have" for the Serengeti Strategy.

Anthony adds quite unnecessarily: "comments welcome".

It's worth watching the video full screen (click in the bottom right) and reading the transcript:




It's short. In just over 12 minutes Gavin Schmidt shows how scientists write code to emulate what happens with clouds, solar radiation, ice, natural and human-made aerosols, soil and vegetation, and other things that together shape our climate.

For a more detailed discussion of climate models, you can't do much better than this article by Scott K. Johnson at Ars Technica.

I went through the WUWT comments till I got up to ten lessons. There is more to learn, but ten is enough to get you going as an accredited science denier.  Here they are, with examples in the WUWT comments below.
  • Lesson 1: accept one part of science and follow it up with a silly statement. Deniers are good at "silly". The silly statement proves to the crowd that you really are a science denier.
  • Lesson 2: Make a grossly inaccurate statement and don't even pretend to back it up with any data, not even false data.
  • Lesson 3: Make out that physics, chemistry and biology can only explain the past and aren't any use as a predictive tool. (Such people would, I expect, never step into an aeroplane and would quite happily and optimistically step out of a window on the 50th storey.)
  • Lesson 4: If you haven't anything intelligent to add to the discussion, go for vulgarity.
  • Lesson 5: If you don't like the data, claim a conspiracy.
  • Lesson 6: If you can't refute the science, make out that the scientists stole their ideas from deniers.
  • Lesson 7: If you can't refute the science and can't stomach facts, don't look. Avoid it altogether where possible. When that fails, try to ignore it.
  • Lesson 8: Pretend that science is based on "faith" rather than evidence and reasoning. 
  • Lesson 9: Trade on your reputation as a fake sceptic and dazzle with meaningless gobbledegook.
  • Lesson 10: Harass any organisation that promotes sound science by sending spam. 



From the WUWT comments


The first out of the gate is a denier and the rest follow.  The WUWT deniers give a very good lesson in "how to be a science denier".

Latitude says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm
” We know what happened over the 20th century. Right? We know that it’s gotten warmer. We know where it’s gotten warmer. And if you ask the models why did that happen, and you say, okay, well, yes, basically it’s because of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere. We have a very good match up until the present day. ”
and if you tell the models ahead of time that’s what happened….
Those computer games can not tell you something you don’t know.

That's an odd thing for Latitude to write. Latitude is a regular science denying commenter at WUWT. What he or she is saying now is that it's well-accepted that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause global warming.

The last sentence is very wrong. If you watch the video you'll get a glimpse of all the extra knowledge that comes from the models. It's not just that CO2 warms earth, it's how dust gets spread around the globe and how that affects weather; and how quickly the CO2 warming happens; and what changes does a hole in the ozone layer cause; and lots more as well. Such changes would be almost impossible to work out without a complex climate model.

Lesson 1: accept one part of science and follow it up with a silly statement. Deniers are good at "silly". The silly statement proves to the crowd that you really are a science denier.


Gerry Parker says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm
And despite these claims of model skill, they consistently over predict warming.

The lesson that Gerry and quite a few others at WUWT provide is to make a completely wrong statement. Best not to provide any evidence or examples or it becomes too obvious that what you're saying is wrong. For example, if Gerry had put up a chart of CMIP5 and CMIP3 against observations he would see that firstly, observations have been within the model envelop right the way through since 1860, and secondly that the mean of the models has only been above the observations very few occasions. Similarly it's only been below the observations on very few occasions:

Figure TS.9 (a) Source: IPCC AR5 WG1
Lesson 2: Make a grossly inaccurate statement and don't even pretend to back it up with any data, not even false data.

Louis says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm
“The models are skillful.”
That phrase was repeated several times, so it must be the take-away message. But it is one thing to tune the models to forecast the past and quite another to accurately forecast the future.
Louis gives us another lesson in denial. This one is commonly used by "ice age cometh-ers". The trick is to argue that just because science explains past events doesn't mean that science can explain future events.  This is the equivalent of arguing that if you jump off a 30 storey building with no aids, you might fly. Roy Spencer is good at this sort of thing, when he talks about rear-view mirrors.

Lesson 3: Make out that physics, chemistry and biology can only explain the past and aren't any use as a predictive tool. (Such people would, I expect, never step into an aeroplanenever step into an aeroplane and would quite happily and optimistically step out of a window on the 50th storey.)


JEM says, apparently in response to Gavin saying that "a model result is skillful if it gives better predictions than a simpler alternative":
May 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm
Dear Gavin, unless you are carrying the error range of every number you feed into your model all the way through every calculation and out into the result, what’s coming out is not skillful, it’s fecal.

Lesson 4: If you haven't anything intelligent to add to the discussion, go for vulgarity.


Layne says:
May 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm
Let’s not forget that inconvenient warming of the 30s-40s has been disappeared so that the models can align with temps.

Layne learnt from Lesson 2 (making a grossly inaccurate statement), but she or he adds a twist and tosses in a conspiracy theory. That hundreds of people all around the world have conspired over decades to alter the temperature data recorded by volunteers and official weather offices.  Layne is arguing there has been a massive world-wide "fiddling" of data maintained independently by multiple organisations, which would have required not just a massive cover up but incredibly sophisticated coordination worldwide.  Shame that no-one has so far been able to uncover this conspiracy.

Lesson 5: If you don't like the data, claim a conspiracy.


Gary Pearse says (excerpt):
May 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm
“Emergent” hmm where have I heard this before. Oh yeah, Willis’s ‘emergent phenomena’ that serve as a governor on climate overheating. I and others have stated before that something as good as Willis’s emergent phenomena and other climate findings won’t be out there long before they begin to be stolen. They are just too good. Okay, Gav has only used the word emergent, half of the idea but that’s a start.
Gary is referring to Willis' convoluted thunderstorm hypothesis. It's a cocktail of the Gaia hypothesis and Richard Lindzen's failed Iris hypothesis, mixed up in a folksy manner with some some big dollops of fake data (eg Willis maintains that surface temperature varied by +/- 0.3 degrees over the last 100 years) and the tiniest smidgen of real science for good measure. Willis argues variously that we might be heading for an ice age and all the science is wrong and Wondering Willis is right.

Lesson 6: If you can't refute the science, make out that the scientists stole their ideas from deniers.

stephen richards says:
May 3, 2014 at 1:20 pm
Watching that piece of merde makes me sick. I cannot bring myself to do it.

Lesson 7: If you can't refute the science and can't stomach facts, don't look. Try to ignore it.


JFA in Montreal says:
May 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm
Priest of all persuasion of religion held the same discourse: you can’t comprehend anything up until you get the big picture. The underlying message is “you’re just to imbecile to see the light”. Of course, they know the only light is the one shining on them, for power, fame and profit.

This person doesn't understand science so belittles it. In addition to Lesson 5 (claiming a conspiracy with nefarious intent - "power, fame and profit"), pretend that just because you don't understand it, no-one else could possibly understand it. It's used by people who claim that climate science is religion not science.

Lesson 8: Pretend that science is based on "faith" rather than evidence and reasoning.


Steve McIntyre says:
May 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm
Mosh, I do not share the kneejerk antagonism to “models” of many commenters, but the CA post to which you refer doesn’t exactly support your assertion: it indicates that GCMs with positive feedbacks have no “skill” in forecasting global temperature relative to a “naive” no-feedback log relationship of Callendar 1938. I think that it’s entirely reasonable to criticize models on that point. As you and I have discussed, it’s unfortunate that the modeling community have failed to fully map the parameter space and left low-to-no feedback largely as a terra incognita, a mapping failure that seems to originate from a kind of academic stubbornness in the modeling community – it’s hard to contemplate similar behavior from commercial organizations.

As well as being his usual waffle, if you manage to decipher it, Steve is indulging in wishful thinking. From what I gather, he's hoping that someone some day will discover an unknown "parameter" that will offset all the global warming that we see. It will mop up all the warming and climate change will go away all by itself.

Most WUWT readers won't try to figure out what he's saying. They'll just be quite delighted that a notable fake sceptic has lowered himself, as he does from time to time, and joined in the hoi polloi denialati at the low brow denier blog, WUWT.

Lesson 9: Trade on your reputation as a fake sceptic and dazzle with meaningless gobbledegook.

Now I haven't even got a third of the way down the comments. There are doubtless many more lessons in how to be a good little denier.


John Coleman says:
May 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm
I sent the following email:
tedx@ted.com
Hello,
I note you have presented talks by several proponents of Global Warming/Climate Change. However, you have not given an opportunity to present the other side of the issue to climate skeptics. There are several notable, peer reviewed climate experts who present the skeptical view. Among them are Richard Lindzen at MIT, Willie Soon at the Harvard Smithsonian Observatory, Judith Curry at Georgia Tech, Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Alabama and a long list of other Ph.D. experts. Please invite one or more of these experts to take the stage at a future conference. Balance of scientific opinion is important.
Regards,
John Coleman
I think if would be excellent if they heard from many of the rest of you.
If you are a fake sceptic, particularly one who is known as a journalist turned television weather announcer, send a dumb email and urge everyone else to do the same. Thankfully junk email isn't quite as damaging to the environment as snail mail.

Lesson 10: Harass any organisation that promotes sound science by sending spam.

Going against the tide of denialism


There were very few people who tried to buck the trend, some of them just a little bit. I mean when you're battling a tide of denialism of more than 120 comments, you're asking for trouble.  Some people buck the trend because they want to appear as "reasonable" fake sceptics. Others might be more genuine.


Jeff Alberts quoted HenryP and indicated that times, denialism goes a bit too far for his liking, and says:
May 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm
The climate is changing only because of natural reasons.
It is God who made it so.
Actually THERE’S the #1 stupid skeptic argument.

Stephen Philbrick says:
May 3, 2014 at 5:57 pm
I thought it was fairly good.
Some false notes, but overall, an effective presentation.
I liked the orders of magnitude paradigm, a very useful way to illustrate the difficulty of the problem
Surprisingly, he used only 14, with the size of the earth as the upper bounds – somewhat surprising as he clearly (despite some comments upthread) acknowledged the influence of the sun. The 4 down 14 to go was simply the artifact of a live presentation.
I see some chuckles about Fortran, and can only assume people are doing serious modeling.
In a recent role with my company, I worked with a moderately sophisticated financial model. It was written in Fortran, because we had to model interest rates, inflation, and the interactions as they affect bond prices and yields, not to mention stochastic insurance loss projections. Fortran was used because it is a suitable language to do very heavy duty number-crunching. It makes a nice sound-bite to treat it as antiquated, but only to those who don’t really do heavy duty modeling. (Which is not to say it is always the best option – I’ve modeled some processes in APL, some others in Excel,, the choice depends on how much number crunching is needed. One can have a highly sophisticated model that doesn’t require a lot of number crunching, but models of the financial world and models of the climate need to do a lot of brute force calculations)


JohnB says:
May 3, 2014 at 7:12 pm
I thought it extremely interesting and would happily sit through a longer lecture by Dr Schmidt.
I may not agree with his conclusions but the talk certainly allows you to see where he is coming from. Note that he admits the models are “wrong” and should, can and hopefully will be improved. However he thinks that they are good enough for a “reasonable” projection of the future and that future improvements in the models will refine the projection but not fundamentally change it.
If you had a model that you thought gave a reasonable projection and the results of that projection gave you cause for concern, wouldn’t you speak loudly too? Dr Schmidt models climate and the results have convinced him that there are grounds for concern.
He spoke fairly from his point of view and that is the best that anyone can do.

31 comments :

  1. The visceral hatred of climate models is on full display at WUWT. (as well as ignorance and bigotry) Willard has trained his devout worshipers so well now, he doesn't even need to harp on about the foibles of climate science any more. He could just as well as have a post which only says "Climate models - Feel free to comment. (Only whinging allowed)"

    We all know that climate models is to climate change deniers what radiometric dating and evolution is to young earth creationists. Also no amount of facts and science will ever change their mind. It's now just become another red flag to a bull.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When McIntyre lights a candle for a missing deus ex machine that will make models say what he knows they should say (refraining from comment re Mann and knowing what Mann's data should say), he neglects on tiny little thing, especially when making references to his industrial experience of accountability.

    For decades fossil fuel companies have sponsored work on those models as well as many have the resources to build their own. And just like there is no reconstruction from McIntyre, there are no better models from the lukewarmer side. None.

    You'd think that the same Exxon-Mobil that could try to exercise control of who was on the IPCC panels could muster up a few bucks to buy the climate model results if they were available.

    But like the missing McIntyre reconstruction, there is no "natural variability" model out there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dave, why are you so hard on poor McIntyre?

      Oh, of course...

      Seriously though, this is a point that should be driven home with a pile driver whenever our denialist politicians face an interviewer. Ask them directly which model it is exactly that provides a scientifically-defensible counter to the consensus. And then ask them if they'd be willing to come back for a second interview to defend that model against the understanding of an eminent climate scientist.

      I can only imagine the stammering that would come from Tony as Peta tries to whisper sweet nothings in his ear...

      Delete
  3. Denier rule 11: when someone calls you out, threaten legal action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Denier rule 11 or Mann 101?

      Delete
    2. No, I don't expect Catmando is talking about serious cases of defamation for being falsely accused of fraud and fabrication of research. It's more likely that he is talking about a certain person getting the sulks for being ridiculed when he wrote about a "huge" story, and not only falsely accusing the ridiculer of lying, but even doing a Monckton and threatening to sue them.

      Delete
    3. I understand why people wish to travel incognito through the Interweb; I really, really do...

      When someone's too bone lazy, congenitally stupid, constitutionally cowardly, and/or irredeemably trollish though, I have no respect for the comments made. A few have popped up here lately, and in my book anyone who is unable to put a name to a comment intended to dispute solid science or besmirch a person of high standing should at least put a pseudonym to it.

      If they're so incapable that they can't manage even that, their claim should be instantly and permanently cemented as indefensible. Or deleted. Or both.

      Delete
    4. It's late.

      I meant to say "...anyone who intends to dispute solid science or besmirch a person of high standing should at least put a pseudonym to the comment" but I edited incompletely.

      Which flags for me a possible excuse for the Anonymous being so statured - he (inevitably he's male) might have been too tired to type a 'nym.

      Poor thing.

      Doesn't make his bollocks any more insightful, however.

      Delete
    5. "Which flags for me a possible excuse for the Anonymous being so statured - he (inevitably he's male) might have been too tired to type a 'nym."

      No Bernard J, it gives people like you who have nothing valid to say, a chance to participate in the discussion by giving you something to sook about, works every time.

      Come in spinner.

      Delete
  4. McIntyre's comment about models not including the "low-to-no feedback" territory gives the impression that he thinks that feedback is a tunable parameter in the models. Of course, it isn't. Feedbacks result from interactions of basic physical processes. Water vapor feedback is the big one, and there's no way to make this smaller (or larger, for that matter) without mangling basic physical relationships such as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation.

    This is surprising -- I really thought he had some idea of how the models work. Silly me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The other huge problem with the fantasy world inhabited by "lukewarmers" is that everything known about paleoclimate behaviour indicates that the climate system *is* moderately sensitive to radiative perturbation.

      So feedback must net positive. "Low-to-no" feedbacks would mean that nothing much every really happened unless there was a really huge change in forcing. For one example among many, the seasonal and spatial reorganisation of TSI under orbital forcing would be incapable of triggering an interglacial.

      I see no mammoths.

      Delete
    2. And - as I understand it - the Paleo Intercomparison Models Project (PIMP) shows that the same models that are used to produce projections for the different RCP scenarios can reproduce at least some of our past climates.

      Delete
    3. Yes, that's my understanding too. Also that the emergent model sensitivity is ~3C for 2xCO2, a value that requires that feedbacks net positive.

      So more support for Hansen's empirical calculation of S_ff 2xCO2 = 3C+/-1C estimated from the LGM/Holocene transition (Hansen & Sato 2012).

      (I think ATTP knows this; the link is for the thread).

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. :-) That is a great acronym. I will suggest my colleagues to rename PMIP to PIMP.

      Delete
    6. No, feedback is not an individually tunable parameter, and McIntyre knows this, which is why he didn't say it was. Sometimes people speak in a kind of shorthand to skip irrelevant details. Feedback, both positive and negative, occurs by way of processes, such as evaporation, cloud formation, and precipitation, that take place on a spatial and temporal scale orders of magnitude smaller than the space-time grids of climate models. Without the resolution to model these important processes, like the formation of a thunderstorm, simplifying assumptions are made by parameterizing them. It is these parameters that are tunable, and that result in more or less positive or negative feedback. Only the physical processes that are chosen by the modeler are included. Knowing the Clausius-Clapeyron equation will not tell you if the thunderstorm will arrive before or after 2PM. So, for example, no climate models are incorporating the negative feedback of Lindzen's "iris hypothesis", nor are they incorporating the closely related negative feedback of earlier daily thunderhead formation over warmer tropical oceans. Both of these mechanisms are controversial, neither conclusively proven nor disproven, but they deserve a hearing in the models to see if they improve accuracy.

      Delete
    7. Peter, thunderstorms are not parametized. They come out of (emerge from) the model itself. Lindzen's failed iris hypothesis is similarly not parametized - it doesn't make sense to suggest it should be. The sorts of things that are parametized are the micro-scale processes in clouds. Aspects that occur at too fine a scale for the model to process at the model's current scale.

      See the arstechnica article I referred to above. And watch Gavin's video again.

      Oh, and Steve McIntyre is talking through his hat as usual.

      Delete
    8. Peter Everett

      Emergent model sensitivity and paleoclimate-derived estimates of ECS (S_ff) (Hansen & Sato 2012; Rohling et al. 2012) both suggest a response of ~0.75C to a net forcing change of 1W/m^2.

      If the models are wrong, then how do we explain the agreement with paleoclimate behaviour? Over the entire Cenozoic.

      Delete
    9. I'm sorry, Sou, but thunderstorms are indeed parameterized in climate models. The methods are based as much as possible in physics and in observational findings, but they still are parameterizations. Recently there have been a few runs in regional (not global) climate models that attempt to explicitly resolve thunderstorms instead of parameterizing them. See e.g., Kendon et al. (2012), J. Climate.

      Delete
    10. Thanks Don. I stand corrected. Sorry Peter.

      Delete
    11. Well, that's not to say that Peter is quite correct either. Convective parameterizations can account for processes like detrainment of vapor and cloud water into the upper troposphere, which directly influence Lindzen's "iris" mechanism.

      The "iris" itself isn't explicitly included, just as there's no explicit knob for other feedbacks. But the iris -- if it exists -- should be there as the result of more fundamental physical processes like convection, grid-scale microphysics and radiative transfer. Granted present-day GCMs don't do all that great a job at some of these processes. But Peter is not correct to say that the iris (or rather, the processes that lead to it) is omitted.

      Delete
  5. This reminds me of a 1993 (but beautiful and still relevant) book people can get for a few $:

    Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science, by William Kauffman & this scale.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Serious question. Look, we've all known that Judith has been getting more and more ratty as time goes on. Just when we think she can't sink any lower she surprises us again. But this time she's really gone over the edge. I mean really and truly."

    "The "love him or hate him" is the language of deniers. They aren't interested so much in what Dr Schmidt has to say, they prefer to get personal."

    But you are not a hypocrite are you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Schmidt is coherent. Curry isn't.

      Hypocrisy has nothing to do with it. But you are a troll, of that we may be sure.

      Delete
    2. Gotta say, Anon has a point. Curry's comments can be "reviewed" without reviewing her. I believe she has convinced herself that what she says is true. This is in contrast to people like Christy and Michaels who make statements that they must know are incorrect, to congressional hearings, the press, etc.

      So, for people who probably honestly believe their own point of view, the effort should be on showing that they are wrong.

      Delete
    3. HW is fairly tolerant of comments by deniers, short of what's listed in the comment policy.

      I've been getting quite a few comments (deleted) by a troll who was banned for being childishly deceitful about his own personal actions - telling a direct lie - not about climate science (though he made a lot of mistakes in that regard, too) but about himself and what he did.

      He complains that HW doesn't give deniers a voice. Yet this same person was not only given huge latitude in off topic comments but was even given a thread of his own to make as many comments as he wanted to make.

      It's pretty clear to me who has the double standards and it's not HotWhopper regulars.

      Incidentally - HotWhopper is about demolishing disinformation not about context-less ad hommery. I'm happy to be pulled up if someone sees an instance of the latter, but would need specifics. Vague arm-waving about "hypocrisy" doesn't suffice. It's just another example of how deniers, when they have nothing to contribute, contribute nothing.

      Delete
    4. As for the comments about Judith Curry going over the edge - the evidence is described in this article, which is what Anonymous quoted from. It's not context-less. It's not pure ad hommery. The evidence is from Judith's own blog - and elsewhere, as people described in the comments.

      Delete
    5. @PL

      Gotta say, Anon has a point. Curry's comments can be "reviewed" without reviewing her. I believe she has convinced herself that what she says is true

      That may be so, but it does not render her analyses coherent. See eg. the stadium wave stuff.

      Hence my initial comment.

      Delete
    6. FYI, I totally agree that Curry's "science" is no longer coherent. Sad, in that she used to be a very good scientist, whose work is well cited for good reason. Following the Lindzen trail.

      I just don't see much value in snarky comments about Curry. For Morano, Inhofe, McIntyre and others, I enjoy snark as much as the next HW regular.

      Delete
    7. PL

      I think you have a point re snark and Curry. To be fair, I was responding only to Anon.'s specious accusation of hypocrisy directed at our host.

      Delete

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