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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Desperate Deniers Part 8: Conman Anthony Watts goes for broke at WUWT

Sou | 5:39 PM Go to the first of 30 comments. Add a comment
Anthony Watts is getting reckless again. No, not restless, but reckless. He's making a stand as a hard core wanna-be professional science disinformer who has become unhinged in his desperate denial.

Poor Anthony will never make it as a professional climate disinformer. The elite of the disinformation world see him as a useful idiot at best, but don't use him much these days. That's putting people like Pat Michaels in the "elite disinformer" category, with organisations like the George C Marshall Institute. They are followed by freelancers such as Marc Morano (I think he's landed a paid gig, but I class him as a freelancer), who'll say anything he's paid to say at double speed while wearing a cheesy grin. Then there are the "science" hacks for the GOP - Judith Curry, followed a long way behind (and dropping) by the unChristian duo from Alabama. Then there are all the faded jaded right wing lobby groups stacked with old white conservative men, getting older and probably fewer year by year. The pseudo-religious anti-environment groups don't count for much, but they do manage to wheedle funds from various vested interests. Way down the bottom of the disinformation totem pole are the climate conspiracy bloggers, Anthony Watts, Jo "Nova" and her rocket scientist from Luna Park and a straggle raggle taggle of other wanna-bes. Some of them are managing to stay a few inches ahead of "Steve Goddard"/Tony Heller and the twit, Tom Nelson.

Today Anthony Watts has a second article about something that former US Vice President, Al Gore may or may not have said back in 2006 (archived here). Anthony was delighted to see his previous version of the same thing all over various dumb blogs. He thinks he's on a winner but I'd guess he's despondent that it didn't hit the mainstream media. (In your dreams, Anthony.) He didn't write this all by himself (he rarely does). He says he pinched it from a blog on some financial website and added some embellishments of his own.

What could go wrong?


Drastic measures are needed


Now if Gore did say what Anthony claims he said, Gore was spot on. Below in bold italics is the paragraph that Anthony Watts went nuts over, with some of the surrounding text from an AP article on CBS News from 2006, which Anthony didn't include:
The former vice president came to town for the premiere of "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary chronicling what has become his crusade since losing the 2000 presidential election: Educating the masses that global warming is about to toast our ecology and our way of life.

Gore has been saying it for decades, since a college class in the 1960s convinced him that greenhouse gases from oil, coal and other carbon emissions were trapping the sun's heat in the atmosphere, resulting in a glacial meltdown that could flood much of the planet.

Americans have been hearing it for decades, wavering between belief and skepticism that it all may just be a natural part of Earth's cyclical warming and cooling phases.

And politicians and corporations have been ignoring the issue for decades, to the point that unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return, Gore said.

He sees the situation as "a true planetary emergency."

"If you accept the truth of that, then nothing else really matters that much," Gore said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We have to organize quickly to come up with a coherent and really strong response, and that's what I'm devoting myself to."
You'll notice that the only words in quotation marks are the name of the climate film and the words "a true planetary emergency". The para that Anthony has picked out is not in quotation marks, suggesting it's not a direct quote.


Anthony's adopting a variation of the tactic known as quote-mining. One of his variations is that it doesn't appear to be a direct quote from Gore. The other is that Anthony has decided to misinterpret what was written. You might argue that the second part (misinterpretation) isn't a variation. Misrepresentation is the whole purpose of quote-mining after all. But in this case, Anthony has deliberately misinterpreted the section he quoted. He's written it all in black and white, so everyone can see he's misinterpreted it. He probably knows that most of his fans will applaud him for it.

What Anthony is doing is playing a silly word game with the "within the next 10 years" part. That is, Anthony is attaching the "point of no return" to imply Gore said that the world will collapse in ten years. That's not what was written nor, I expect, is what was meant. The way I read it is the way that scientific reports portray the situation. That drastic measures must be taken, within ten years, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or the world will reach a point of no return. And it has already passed tipping points in some areas, such as the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is likely unstoppable now, probably the slowing of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, certainly sea level rise (though we may still have some control over how quickly it rises), ocean acidification and more.

The paragraph was apt then and is even more so today. Some action has been taken in the interim, most particularly the agreement reached at COP21. In addition, in many places renewables are on a sharp increase, coal is on the decline (being replaced by gas and renewables and nuclear). We've still got a long way to go though. And in some developing countries, coal use is rapidly rising.

As if Anthony's misinterpretation wasn't bad enough, he's headed full bore into a Gish gallop of denierisms. Here are some of the points he made, together with climate reality (I thought that term is appropriate, given the subject).


Yes, Anthony - 2015 was the hottest year on record, so far


2015 was the hottest year on record, following a previous hottest year on record - 2014. Anthony Watts tries to deny it. To do so he has to jump up into the cold sky a few kilometres to find a part of the planet where the temperature hasn't warmed as much, or not according to the satellite data. It's a wonder he didn't leap up into the stratosphere to claim "it's cooling"! He wrote:
Satellite data says that Earth hasn’t warmed in nearly 20 years. Yes, 2015 supposedly “smashed” the previous temperature record. But actually it was the third-warmest year on record according to satellites.
Not only does Anthony want people to ignore the warmer than ever oceans, and the warmer than ever sea and land surfaces, he expects everyone to look up into the sky, where only about one per cent of the heat is going. He also neglects to tell his readers that up in the lower troposphere, each of the past three months were the hottest ever for those respective months, and the hottest ever combined October to December,

What about his "nearly 20 years"? He's way off. I don't think he'd be able to say truthfully that "it hasn't warmed in nearly one month". This is what thermometer data shows is happening on the surface, which we share with Anthony Watts and his dismal band of deniers. Twenty years ago it was 0.41 °C (0.74 °F) colder than it is now:

Figure 1 | Global mean surface temperature 1880 to 2015. Data source: GISS NASA


This is what the keepers of the upper air (lower troposphere) satellite records are reporting. Twenty years ago it was 0.2 °C (0.74 °F) colder than now:

Figure 2 | Global mean atmospheric temperature (lower troposphere) 1979 to 2015. Data sources: UAH and RSS


Anthony is devious and deceitful - so what's new? He wrote:
Claims of “hottest ever” in 2015 have been due in part to a strong El Niño in 2015 (which even climate scientist Dr. Richard Betts grudgingly admits to) and some statistical sleight of hand by NOAA to boost temperatures.

First of all, if warming was just from El Nino, then why were past El Nino years not as hot? Some of them were as strong or stronger than this one is.

Then there's his fraud allegation. Anthony has frequently accused NOAA scientists of fraud and he's not about to stop now. It's he who is guilty, not the scientists. NOAA updated its dataset. It updated ERSST to version 4, which wasn't all that different from ERSSTv3b in recent decades at least.

Deniers make any excuse to dispute the data, unless it's adjusted downward (like UAH). They don't care that there is very little difference between all the surface data sets. Look at where NOAA sits in terms of trend since the last time there was a trend change, around 1970. It's second lowest. Not that Anthony Watts would admit to that. He's a con man. A teller of tall tales. He doesn't want to spoil his fiction.

Table 1 | Trend per decade since 1970 for global mean surface temperature. Data sources: GISS NASA, UK Met Office, NOAA,Berkeley Earth


The trend for NOAA is below Berkeley Earth, which uses a totally different method from any of the others to calculate global surface temperature. They are all different from each other. Even NOAA and GISS, which use similar (not identical) data, process it differently, which you can tell because the trends are slighly different.


Initial claim lines up ... WTF?


Moving on - remember how the other day, Anthony made a spectacular mess of things? He wrote a very long article accusing NOAA of all sorts of shenanigans. He ended up striking lots of it out, so it's a real Kenji's breakfast. Anthony couldn't get it through his thick skull that at the turn of the century NOAA revised its estimate of actual temperature of the planet (from around 16.4 °C to 13.9 °C) in line with the newly published estimate in Jones et al (1999). Today he glosses over the fact that it was he, not the NOAA or Seth Borenstein, who was wrong the other day, and says some nonsense about the NOAA's "initial claim lining up with the satellite record".

Anthony wrote (I wonder did he finally figure it out by reading it here?):
They said in 1997, that the current absolute temperature of the Earth was warmer by several degrees that today, but they’ve since changed their methodology and say that’s no longer the case…however, their initial claim lines up with what we see in the satellite record above about 1997 and 1998 when the supersized El Niño happened.
No, they didn't "change their methodology". All they did was change the estimate of the actual temperature of the planet.

And what the heck is he trying to say about "initial claim lines up ... with the satellite record"? He's saying that the initial estimate of average global temperature (16.4 °C) "lines up" with the satellite record! The air temperature of the lower troposphere is many degrees lower than the surface. If it's 15 °C at the surface it could be approaching minus 5 °C at 3.000 metres. It gets mighty cold up there. (Has Anthony never been up in the mountains?) He's confusing the change in the estimate of actual temperature (16.4 °C to 13.9 °C) with the the impact of the 97/98 El Nino on the lower troposphere temperature. You can't do that. Sheesh he's a dimwit. To think he claims to know something about weather and climate.

What he should be comparing is the difference in temperatures from year to year. Like this:



Which looks like this:

Table 2 (upper) and Figure 3 (lower) | Global mean temperature anomaly from 1981-2010 mean. Years 1995 to 1999. Data sources: NOAA, UAH and RSS 


The surface and lower troposphere are not so different, except for the El Niño years. So it's no surprise that Anthony doesn't put up numbers or charts. I don't think Anthony "meteorologist (ret'd)" Watts even knows that highs and lows like El Niños, La Niñas and volcanic cooling are exaggerated in the lower troposphere. And maybe he doesn't know that El Niño shows up on the surface before it shows up in the lower troposphere. Look at 1997 across the three data sets.


Anthony complains that Republicans branded "global warming" as "climate change"


His next gripe is that Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant to George Bush, advised him to avoid the term "global warming" and use "climate change" instead. Of course Anthony won't admit that it was Republicans who insisted on using the term, even though he knows it to be the case. (He does read HotWhopper and other blogs.)

Both terms have been around forever in the scientific literature. Global warming is the rise in global temperature, climate change is what happens when there is global warming (or global cooling) - patterns of temperature, precipitation and other aspects of climate change as a result of global warming.

Anthony should know all that. I'd say he just pretends not to, to please his readers (he is aiming to attract the most ignorant of the ignorant). However with the big gaffes he's been making, I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't know what global warming or climate change means.


Anthony rehashes a lot of old denier lies


One of his lies, which he keeps repeating even though he must know it's not true, is a claim that global warming won't result in extreme weather events. He wrote:
Even the IPCC said that there is no link of climate to extreme weather, and the prestigious journal Nature said in 2012: "Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming."

No Anthony. The latest AR5 IPCC report points to floods, heavy precipitation, drought, fires, insect damage, heat waves and more. And wow - did you notice his about face? Suddenly Nature is "prestigious". That's a complete no-no in deniersville, particularly the "climate hoax" village called WUWT. Notice how he quote-mines a sentence from a paper from three years ago, and ignores all the work of the past three years, like the BAMS special supplements on extreme events.


Anthony tells fibs about Arctic sea ice


Anthony is going great guns. Lie after lie after fib after deception. This time he tells the lie that he's told so often before about Mr Gore "predicting" that sea ice would disappear by whenever. As Anthony well knows, these weren't Gore's predictions. They were references Gore made to the predictions of other people.  Here is the segment of his Nobel Peace Prize speech. He was reporting what others had said, mentioning 22 years as well as 7 years. From his 2007 Nobel Lecture:
Last September 21, as the Northern Hemisphere tilted away from the sun, scientists reported with unprecedented distress that the North Polar ice cap is "falling off a cliff." One study estimated that it could be completely gone during summer in less than 22 years. Another new study, to be presented by U.S. Navy researchers later this week, warns it could happen in as little as 7 years.
Seven years from now. 
And this from a newspaper report from 2009, when he is reported to have referred to "some of the models" and work of the US Naval Postgraduate School:
"Some of the models suggest that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap during some of the summer months will be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years," Gore said.

Afterward his office clarified his statement, saying he meant nearly ice-free, because ice would be expected to survive in island channels and other locations.

Gore cited new scientific work at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. The Navy relies on its research to plan submarine voyages to the poles. The computer modeling there stresses the "volumetric" and looks at both the surface extent of ice and its thickness.
Gore may have been referring to work done by Wieslaw Maslowski, such as this presentation from NPS in June 2008, after the (then) record low of 2007.

In any case, it wasn't Gore's independent prediction either time. He was reporting the research of scientists.

There's more on the Arctic. Anthony put up a chart and slashed a red line across it, not caring that he was going through both winter and summer ice, and pronounced:
Even more inconvenient, it seems the Arctic ice has reached a new stable baseline, and has a “pause” of it’s own going on. In the University of Illinois Cryosphere today graph below, note the nearly flat trend line in recent years since 2007:
Nearly flat trend line? Oh boy. That's as bad as choosing the inordinately hot El Nino years of 1997/98 as the start year for plotting lower troposphere temperatures. In any case, it's wrong. In September 2012 there was a lot less ice than there was in 2007. Here is a chart of Arctic summer sea ice for the minimum month, September, with a linear trend line for the entire record:

Figure 4 | Arctic Sea Ice mean for September. 1979 to 2015. Data source: NSIDC



A zillion errors at WUWT


Anthony made much of the fact that a judge in the UK made some scientific "judgements" about the film An Inconvenient Truth, identifying nine errors (out of all the hundreds of facts discussed).  I don't think the judge was 100% correct either :)

The filthy black WUWT pot calls
the clean shiny Gore kettle "black"
Now go through this single article of Anthony's and count all the errors and include the lies. Then add all the errors and lies in the WUWT comments, then multiply that by the number of articles Anthony has published. That way you can put the "nine errors" in An Inconvenient Truth into perspective.

Hint: the ratio of errors + lies at WUWT to "errors" in An Inconvenient Truth would be about a zillion to one. Approximately. A rough estimate only. I wouldn't be surprised if some diligent person found it was two zillion to one. Or more.


Enough is enough


Have you read enough? Anthony Watts is both immensely stupid and couldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it. That's because his income from donations, subscriptions to his non-functioning secretive "Open Atmosphere Society", and ad revenue depends on him feeding lies to a wilfully ignorant audience. He'd be out on the street if he didn't weave conspiracy theories, libel scientists and politicians, and instead presented facts accurately.

As I said, enough is enough. Anthony's almost last paragraph was:
Simply put: Mr. Gore is a bald faced liar. Why does anybody still listen to him?
Let me fix that for him. Al Gore has worked tirelessly, selflessly and given generously for many, many years to help us shift to a clean, safe future. On the other hand:

Simply put: Anthony Watts is a bald faced liar. Why does anybody still listen to him? 
.


A wistful thought


When I see an appalling litany of lies like this one from Anthony Watts, I wistfully wish that someone would sue the pants off him.

I know, it's wishful thinking.

Perhaps he'll get his comeuppance in the Climate Trials. I can imagine Anthony old and saggy and grey and broken, crammed into a 6 x 10 cell (sticky and hot, no air-conditioning). Sharing his cell would be Marc Morano squealing nineteen to the dozen over the top of Roy Spencer's repetitive mumbling "nazis", and five bleeding heart pinko warmunist liberals (who got there by pure misfortune) chanting "Om" from dawn to midnight. By that stage a "cool" summer's day could be 54 °C (130 °F) in the shade and 99% humidity.


From the WUWT comments


The "thoughts" show that Anthony has firmly anchored himself in nutsville. I expect he's laid down foundations so deep that he won't be leaving the funny farm any time soon.

BTW, I almost always finish the article before I start reading the comments, as I did this time. I say that, because I found a denier whose thinking I concur with - or at least in part (I'll leave you to work out which part.)  Not that I imagine that Al Gore would want to waste his time with a half-baked climate conspiracy blogger. He's devoting his life to more worthwhile pursuits. Cassandra's thought was:
January 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm
I wonder why Gore hasn’t sued anybody, following so many articles such as this? Someone should push him into it, and then the truth will be massively aired, throughout the world. Then just think of all the counter-claims against Gore et al from individuals, companies and whole countries!!! 

I'm constantly amazed by the misinformation conspiracy theorists grab hold of and cling to as if their life depended on it. And for some of them it would, just not in the way they think. This is way off topic. ferdberple wrote:
January 25, 2016 at 2:13 pm (excerpt)
The bad science over saturated fat is the direct cause of the diabetes epidemic in the US today. Driven by politicians it has killed more people than global warming ever will.

Mohatdebos compares centuries of multiple scientific disciplines, built up by probably hundreds of thousands of people, and supported by zillions of gigabytes of observations and evidence, with the beliefs of a tiny and weird cult. Weird!
January 25, 2016 at 12:35 pm
MSM had a great time making fun of Harold Camping’s prediction based on Rapture Theory that the world would end in 2011, yet the high priests of Mann-made global warming are never challenged on their prophecies of impending doom. 

Leon Brozyna  asks a very good question, only about the wrong people:
January 25, 2016 at 12:37 pm (excerpt)
Why do con men succeed? 

Mumbles McGuirck thinks a winter snow storm means that global warming isn't happening:
January 25, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Can everyone in the Great White North (i.e. north of the FL/GA border) go out in a snow bank and take a photo of yourself holding a sign saying “Al Gore : Where the Hell is my Global Warming”. Then post it on FB, Twitter, etc. using #GoresBustedForecast ? Thank you.

RD is very grateful for having someone who'll feed him exactly what he wants to hear. As Tom Peterson remarked to a Stoat the other day (about the wilfully ignorant): As Neil deGrasse Tyson says, "If your Personal Beliefs deny what’s objectively true about the world, then they’re more accurately called Personal Delusions."
January 25, 2016 at 3:05 pm
AW is truly deserving of our gratitude for fighting back against these mendacious twits. I’m sure he could be doing other work for personal profit. 


I wonder if gallopingcamel would vote for Donald Trump?
January 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm
Why are people who lie about climate such as Al Gore and Bill Nye rich while I have to work my butt off to put food on the table?
It may have something to do with the elites who control both political parties so you can bet that I will vote for someone who run the USA for the benefit of “The People” rather than bankers. 


References and further reading


Memo exposes Bush's new green strategy - article by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian, 2003

2006: Al Gore does Sundance - article on CBS news, January 2006

From the HotWhopper Archives

30 comments:

Unknown said...

On the subject of Watt's cons. He also this week had a photo of a 'recent' frozen Swedish wind turbine.
Turns out it was 2 years old and was part of a test site. I believe most the Swedish turbines actually have heated blades for in case they get iced up.

PG said...

Fantastic response Sou.

Somebody should sue him. You'll remember In 2014 I threatened to own his house in Chico CA and he immediately crumbled deleting all his and dbstealy's defamatory comments about me.

Remember his fake Paul Krugman piece that was passed off as a NYT article? That could easily have drawn an action in copyright breach.

Many practitioners have been defamed by this desperately unattractive human being and one day one of them will own his house in Chico (and hopefully convert it into a Museum of Dumb Deception and Malicious Conduct)

Sou said...

That's poor form. It reminds me of his Antarctic stamp blunder and UHI in Antarctica:D.

PG said...

Also how about his highly insulting dig at Betts after all that respect BS he wrote after meeting him in Bristol, then publishing Richard's (too) kind comments re that meeting and even an article Bett's wrote re Seepage in May last year?

Tadaaa said...

I suspect they will all start playing the "victim" card before too long

cRR Kampen said...

"Marc Morano (I think he's landed a paid gig, but I class him as a freelancer), who'll say anything he's paid to say at double speed while wearing a cheesy grin."

I saw an interview with Morano on Dutch tele a couple of weeks ago in which he plainly states that is exactly what he is doing.

Phil Clarke said...

What Anthony is doing is playing a silly word game with the "within the next 10 years" part. That is, Anthony is attaching the "point of no return" to imply Gore said that the world will collapse in ten years.

This is a key misrepresentation. A vehicle travelling at 70mph has a stopping distance of about 106m (excuse the mixed units). Thus if a driver perceives a blocked road 116m ahead he has about 10m of road in which to start braking. Gore's warning was akin to saying unless we brake now, we're in trouble. Watts stupid response , (well a small part of it, jeez, you'd need a whole library) is like saying because we did not hit the brakes, and we have yet to smash into a wall, Gore is a liar.

It’s a simplistic analogy, but then it’s a dumb argument.

Tadaaa said...

Yes he is quite clear on this

In Merchants of Doubt he jokes that he is "not a scientist although I play one on TV occasionally"

And he also admits that they - the contrarians, don't do any science themselves, the sole aim is to sow confusion and delay any action on AGW

He does not mince his words and is pretty clear on the tactics

Huma Kuvala said...

In 2013 Morano received US$ 163,204 from 'the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow' (CFACT) for his role as that organizations' Director of Communications. The fact that in that role Morano made more than the 'Exec Director & Treasurer (Craig Rucker; US$ 115,146) and the 'President & Chairman' (David Rothbard; US$ 119,920) indicates just how important the role of H̶e̶a̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶P̶r̶o̶p̶a̶g̶a̶n̶d̶a̶ Director of Communications really is to CFACT. http://tinyurl.com/zw7moug

Mark said...

Considering that the PDO has probably flipped back into a positive phase and that we are in for a spurt of warming, it's fun to speculate what the state of climate denial will be in a few years from now.

Brandon R. Gates said...

Sou,

What Anthony is doing is playing a silly word game with the "within the next 10 years" part. That is, Anthony is attaching the "point of no return" to imply Gore said that the world will collapse in ten years. That's not what was written nor, I expect, is what was meant.

Clearly Anthony is building another strawman here, and is thus guilty of doing exactly what he accuses Mr Gore of doing: telling fibs. Though I'm sure Anthony would say he was just embellishing. Or perhaps simply taking artistic license: https://archive.is/HPmMk#selection-563.0-601.7

Me, quotemine? Never.

So about that. Here's the bit from the AP/CBS article about "An Inconvenient Truth":

And politicians and corporations have been ignoring the issue for decades, to the point that unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next 10 years, the world will reach a point of no return, Gore said.

As you point out, not a direct quote. But I have seen the movie, once, and I don't have much doubt the paraphrase is true to Mr Gore's actual comments. I did read the entire news article attempting to determine what "point of no return" specifically meant, and some sort of provenance for the one-decade estimate. (Anthony's first article on this a few days back included pretty much the same excerpt your post here does.) Couldn't find one. Maybe Gore expanded on (not embellished) that premise to the AP reporter in the interview, maybe not.

My point is, I didn't like the way it was written, even in full context, because it wasn't specific in a way that is testable, but was specific about a time frame. Scientifically useless in other words, and doomed to be "falsified" as soon as it was printed; as well as something I think that the AP and CBS could reasonably be held to account for publishing no matter who it was they were paraphrasing, whether or not they did so accurately.

Marc said...

That restores some of my faith in humanity. That to behave so immorally, you have to pay them 10 times as much as someone of their quality would otherwise make.

Sou said...

It was never meant to be testable in a specific quantitative sense. However it will be testable in retrospect to some extent. (People will look back and say "if only we'd done more in the early 2000s, we'd have been able to prevent or slow xyz tipping point.)

It was meant to give the sense of urgency that is required, that if we don't get our act together the following will happen:

CO2 will accumulate so that we use up the budget sooner
We will find it more difficult to wean ourselves off fossil fuel the longer we take to start.

That is, we need to keep working to shift to renewables, more efficient use of energy etc, so that we don't find ourselves in a situation where there's only 30 GT left in the budget but our energy economy is still 70% fossil fuel based.

It is a similar time frame to the Critical Decade paper of the Climate Council, which came out five years later in 2011, just shifted back five years. The authors at the time said that what we do this decade (2011 to 2020) will determine the warming for the next two generations, among other things.

That is, what we do now will determine what happens decades (and centuries) down the track.

IMO it hasn't been falsified. If anything, with the reports of the changes we're bringing about (eg the "unstoppable" WAIS collapse), one could argue it's already been proven true.

The longer we take to get the energy shift going in earnest, the harder it will be to stay within the CO2 budget down the track.

Brandon R. Gates said...

Sou,

It was meant to give the sense of urgency that is required ...

Indeed, and I absolutely agreed with the urgency he was advocating for all of the same reasons you detail in your reply. There's a difference in how I think and talk about that than Gore does. Maybe I can illustrate in the abstract:

Gore: If we don't do X within ten years, then Y will happen and it will be irreversible.

me: If we don't start doing X now, there's a chance Y will happen, we don't know exactly when we might expect it to happen, and might not know right away that it has, and might not be able to stop it once it's clear that it is happening.


My construction (which is basically just the precautionary principle) gets hammered all the same because it lacks specific timing, includes all sorts of caveats and because Judith Curry has reinforced how wrongly the "let's wait until we know for sure" crowd think about uncertainty. It is, however, consistent with my level of understanding of the science and doesn't require me to learn a bunch more to be a defensible argument.

Along those lines, Phil Clarke's analogy about the braking distance of a car is a good one, and I've used similar. Another one I like is that seismologists can't tell us exactly when the next Big One is going to hit, best they can do is estimate the probability of a major quake over the next 30 years. That they don't know for sure is not "proof" that the theory of plate tectonics has been "falsified", and only a fool would think that it's therefore a good idea to scrimp on building codes so that we have more cash for "adaptation".

In sum, I'm suggesting that there are ways to get across the sense urgency by expressing more confidence about the past than about the future, and since we have empirical evidence of the past but not the future, being on much more solid footing doing it.

Brandon R. Gates said...

Sou, PS:

The longer we take to get the energy shift going in earnest, the harder it will be to stay within the CO2 budget down the track.

Yes, exactly. I think really that's the best argument of all.

Sou said...

Too many "mights", Brandon. There are already a lot of things happening that are irreversible on any reasonable time frame (decades to centuries to millennia).

As Susan Solomon wrote - irreversible doesn't mean unstoppable, which is the message Gore and the Climate Council were sending with their urgency re the time frame.

Global warming has happened and is continuing. The ice sheets are melting and will continue to do so for millenia. Sea rise likewise. Climate change all over likewise. Ocean acidificaton likewise.

They are all "have happened and will continue", no "might" about it. It's up to us to decide how much we want the world to change (for better or worse, in the near and far term), and how quickly we want that change (ie do we want seas to rise 2 metres this century or would we prefer 2 metres over two centuries) :(

Brandon R. Gates said...

Sou,

Too many "mights", Brandon.

You might be right ... :)

There are already a lot of things happening that are irreversible on any reasonable time frame (decades to centuries to millennia).

Sure. Ice sheet melt and by extention SLR trends don't stop on a dime on the order of centuries to millennia. Bintanja et al. (2008) has been my go-to reference for that, I'm sure there are numerous other more recent studies -- IIRC one from last year is telling us that Larsen B ice shelf could go anywhere between tomorrow and a decade.

It's the things we're less sure of that I'm most concerned about.

I don't want to stubbornly stand on point in perpetuity [1], so let me end it by saying there's more I agree with both Mr Gore and you about. I thought you made a particularly good point that the movie is far more factually grounded than the average WUWT article and I would probably do well to adjust my overall view of the film accordingly. Cheers.

---------------

[1] My housemate pointed to this phrase and said, "bullshit" ...

Russell Seitz said...

That Al is far better seconded than Anthony is no reason to indulge the considerable powers of stump speech hyperbole he acquired from his father and his divinity school.preceptors.

The pathology of the climate policy debate resides more in the deployment of competant PR flacks than woebegone amateurs

Brandon R. Gates said...

Russell,

My housemate was right, I really don't want to drop it, dammit all.

Clearly we have a PR problem with the likes of the WHUTTers, and just as clearly nothing short of Armageddon is going to convince them ... if then. Maybe better PR convinces more of the undecideds, and that's as good an argument as I can think of for reducing hyperbole and emotional appeals and tightening up the scientific quality of the reporting and op-eds.

I've mentioned over at Eli's a time or two before (ATTP's as well) that I think the main reason policy implementation has languished comes down to pro-mitigation politicians who are still engaged in politics not making proposals that their friends across the aisle can accept because their voter base wouldn't accept it. They would just as likely say that they can't make the kinds of horse-trades I'm thinking of because their own voter base won't let them.

Maybe better PR can help with that latter problem.

How many "maybes" above? Only two -- fewer than in my post dealing more with the science. Interesting.

gallopingcamel said...

This has to be classy blog given that Russell Seitz dispenses his pearls of wisdom here.

In the comments above someone asks:
"I wonder if gallopingcamel would vote for Donald Trump?"

Yes I would vote for the Donald but he is not the only one I could support:
https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2016/01/27/ambush-averted/#comment-570265

Sou said...

Well, there you go. Another example of the double standards of deniers.

That comment is in relation to the one in the article, where I noticed that gallopingcamel wrote:

January 25, 2016 at 8:17 pm
Why are people who lie about climate such as Al Gore and Bill Nye rich while I have to work my butt off to put food on the table?
It may have something to do with the elites who control both political parties so you can bet that I will vote for someone who run the USA for the benefit of “The People” rather than bankers.


Neither Bill Nye or Al Gore make it onto the Forbes 400 list, while Trump is #121 at an insane $4.5 billion. (Al Gore is only worth $300m and Bill Nye a "piddly" $6.5m :).

If you're a rich elite and a denier liar you're okay in poor struggling gallopingcamel's book.

Deniers worship money not science, and have upside-down values - if you can call valuing immorality a "value".

bill said...

Yep, Trump himself predicted he'd be a hit with the Right Wing Authoritarian set years ago.

Oh, and stupid people, of course.

Catmando said...

Not to forget that Trump inherited a pile of dollars (so didn't have to struggle) and four of his businesses have gone bankrupt (though he used legally protected his personal wealth) which makes one wonder why anyone would trust him with the nation's wealth.

Millicent said...

"This has to be classy blog given that Russell Seitz dispenses his pearls of wisdom here."

Sou can't choose who comments here, as your presence demonstrates. But Sou has been making unkind remarks that I would have thought any WUWT fan would hasten to 'correct'. Your silence on that speaks volumes even if what you do choose to post is remarkably sterile.

Tadaaa said...

a billionaire was once ask "what is the easiest why to make a small fortune"

he replied "start with a large one"

bill said...

Aussies should remember 'How do you create a small business? Give Warwick Fairfax a large one."

Morgan said...

Whoever wrote this blog is a fool. To defend Al Gore's ridiculous movie by saying there are only 9 errors for every zillions true facts. Good god, what a fool. I watched that movie, thought it was science fiction on the level of Godzilla.

Sou said...

One of the five telltale techniques of climate science denial is the logical fallacy.

Jammy Dodger said...

I expect when you watched Godzilla you thought it was a documentary and didn't spot any errors at all.

bill said...

BTP. Better Trolls Please.